So much has happened since the last post that I will just have to combine it all into one big emotional post! The day after I asked for prayers for our Travel Approval (TA) a wonderful thing happened.....we received our TA! Friday around lunch time we received an email telling us our TA had been received by our agency and that we had two choices....travel May 16 (yes, less than a week later!!) or travel June 13....of course we chose the sooner date, and began immediately working and making plans so that we could travel to China in 6 days. Everything seemed to be in place. I had the sick days I needed, the plane tickets were in place, arrangements had been made for the boys, etc. The only thing missing was our Consulate Appointment (CA). The process of requesting a CA takes place after TA is received, and is usually a very uniform, simple process. Because our TA was not received until Friday by our agency, they would have to wait until Monday to request the CA. Monday morning came.....8am, 9am, still no word from our agency. Anxiety began to creep in. Then we heard.....No CA today. The Consulate had been closed due to a security threat, and our agency would check on Tuesday to see what could be done. We heard that someone sent an envelope with a "white powder" in it to the Consulate. Really people? Of all the places on earth to send it, and now??? (selfish thinking, I know).
Needless to say, Monday was a long day, as we had no idea if we would be going to China in a few days or not! We also were told that if our agency could not secure a CA appointment for us on Tuesday, our next available date to travel would be May 30 or possibly June 13! Tuesday morning came....8am, 9am, 10am, 11am! Still no word!! Finally an email came telling us that again the Consulate was again closed and we would not be traveling this week. Our agency assured us they would do all they could to secure an appointment that would allow us to travel on May 30, but there is no guarantee.
Today was a rough day, where we all plummeted from an emotional high, to an emotional low. I admit, I was angry, sad, frustrated and disappointed the majority of the day. I kept thinking how one silly person could cause so much hurt for so many people- families in China are having appointments cancelled and having to stay longer than they had anticipated, missing flights, missing work, missing time at home with their families, spending lots of more money, etc. Families waiting to go to China aren't able to go, having to reschedule childcare, jobs, flights, etc. And worst of all, children are waiting longer to come home to their forever families because of some crazy person!!! Okay, enough ranting.
This whole situation today caused me to think back to our previous two adoptions, and I realized that in each of those adoptions, a similar situation had occurred.
First, with Caleb- We received his referral at the end of July, 2007, and had to wait through court closures in Ethiopia to receive a court date. Court closures then were from the end of August to the beginning of October (I think). We expected to have a court date in October, then travel to bring home Caleb in the first part of November. We were especially excited because he would be home with us for his first birthday!! One day in October, our agency called. I will never forget that day. They told me that today had been our court day in Ethiopia and that we had.....not passed. This was pretty rare back then, and besides being completely devastated by the news, I was also concerned as to why we had not passed! It turns out that a simple mistake had been made, and the wrong file had been taken to court. Caleb was given a very common Ethiopian name in the orphanage and there were two babies with his name. The other child's file was taken instead of his, and this child passed court. I remember his adoptive parents emailing me and apologizing that they passed instead of us. It would be another month before we would have a shot at court again. Turns out it was the first few days of December, and we would not be celebrating Caleb's first birthday with him. At the time, I was devastated. On December 4, 2008, I was waiting nervously for a phone call to tell us if we had passed court or not. We knew our court date was on that day. I had checked my phone and email all day until I had almost driven myself crazy! I finally could take no more and I went into the back room at work and got down on my knees and prayed to God to hear our prayers for a successful court date. When I came back into the office, I had a missed call. I could tell the number was from our agency, and that they had left a message. I thought the worst, as most people heard they passed court with an email....and the last time they called it was bad news! I picked up my phone and listened to the message- it was the voice of someone from our agency I had never spoken with....the travel coordinator! We had passed! We traveled to Ethiopia 2 weeks later, and met our precious and wonderful son, Caleb. When I look back at that time in our lives, the fact that we didn't get to bring home Caleb before he turned 1 doesn't even come to mind. What does? The faithfulness of God. I truly believe he used that moment of praying in the back room and coming back in to see a missed call to remind me of his sovereignty and faithfulness. It has stuck with me ever since.
Then I began to think about Noah's adoption. It happened much quicker than Caleb's. The first part of the process sailed right along. With Noah's adoption, the laws in Ethiopia had changed and we were now required to make two trips. The first trip both parents had to travel, but the second trip only one parent was required to travel. Zack and I accepted Noah's referral in June of 2010 and traveled to Ethiopia the first week of August, 2010. We met a very sad and scared boy who barely smiled the entire week we were with him. We left very frightened and unsure of how to help our son adjust to his new life. We should have returned in late October/early November to bring home, but it was not to be.
During the months following our first visit, my grandfather, who had just turned 91 and had always been very healthy, began to fall ill. His condition continued to deteriorate, and much of the responsibility of taking care of him fell to my mother. She made visits back and forth to the hospital and often stayed all night. She was depleted emotionally and physically. I should have been able to return to Ethiopia during some of the most difficult times for my grandfather, but a mistake was made with some paperwork, and the day before I and one of my best friends were scheduled to get on an airplane and fly to Ethiopia, my phone rang. I will never forget that day either. I was sitting on a school bus with Caleb. We had just left a nearby pumpkin patch with his headstart class....it had been a great field trip. I could barely hear the persons voice on the other end because of the noise on the bus, but I did make out the words, "You can't leave tomorrow." Seriously?? So I took the necessary and expensive steps to cancel flights, plans, etc. My poor friend had to rearrange her work schedule. I was so frustrated and angry, and worst of all, we didn't know when we were going to be able to go get Noah. He was already afraid and scared, and now I feared that he probably thought we were not coming for him! Little did I know that in the next several days my grandfather's condition would worsen and he would go to be with God. I had the honor of being with my grandfather during his final few moments on this earth. It is something I will cherish the rest of my earthly life. I was also able to be with my mother during what I know was one of the hardest times of her life- saying goodbye to one her best friends. On the way to the burial, my telephone rang, once again. It was our agency. They told us we could leave the next day to go get Noah. The day after my grandfather's funeral.
When I look back at that time in our lives, again, I don't think so much of the frustration I felt that day on the school bus, I think about God's impeccable timing in allowing me to be with two people I love very much in some of the most difficult times of their lives. I think of Noah smiling at me the moment he saw me again in Ethiopia on the second trip. Again, I am amazed at God's sovereignty and faithfulness.
I don't want to get into a theological debate about God's will, evil in the world, etc. What I know is that where we see a fallen world, we see a redemptive God. We know from His Word that He will work all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. As I sit and type this blog post tonight, I still feel the sting of disappointment and have an ache in my heart. I still have a little self-pity happening here people :) But I know that God's faithfulness will show itself once more in my life and that I will be able to look back and see how all of this craziness has a purpose. I look forward to that day, and trust that the God who loves me so much that He gave His only son for me, will bring it to fruition. Amen.