Thursday, August 23, 2012

So this post.....

I watched it happened two days ago. And I thought my body was going to crumble to the floor and that my heart was going to rip in two. I have never seen or experienced anything like it. I have lost close relatives, I have experienced severe depression and anxiety, I watched loved ones suffer immensely but the suffering that I witnessed on Tuesday was the worst experience of my life and the most horrible thing I've ever been apart of.

The typical procedure for Ethiopian adoption, is for a remaining family member to be interviewed by the United States Embassy prior to the release of passports and visas for the adopted child(ren). Its a way of making sure with the birth family that the adoption is in fact what they want, to ensure that the adoption agency treated them with respect and integrity, and to ensure there are no signs of child-trafficking, aka a family in the States paying them to give them their child.

Our birth mother lives far away from Addis, far enough that she has to fly. She flew in during her court date, to release her legal rights for the children and when she was here for that, she was told that she would be able to come back to the Transition Home, (TH) where our children were staying to say goodbye.

But when the time came, the Embassy did NOT request an interview from her. She was ill, and they knew it would be very hard for her to travel. So when she got word that she would not be returning to Addis, she asked our agency to contact us directly to see if we would be willing to pay for her travel to come to say goodbye to the kids.

When I got that call, my heart leapt and then dropped in my stomach. This request, was in fact an answer to an unspoken prayer of mine. I had longed to see Fiyori and Kobe with their mother, to see them as a family, to be able to spend more time with her. My heart broke for her, imagining what she must be feeling, thinking she might not see them one last time and I quickly told our travel coordinator that yes, we would definitely pay for her to come. My stomach immediately tightened with thoughts of what that meeting would look like. I knew it would be hard. I knew it was the one thing I didn't want to witness, but I knew that the Lord had made it possible for her to come and we longed more than anything to honor her and love her in this way by allowing her to say goodbye.

The day she came with be forever etched in my memory. I would give anything to forget it, but there is no possible way to have the images in my brain erased. Images of her sobbing... kissing their cheeks over and over... Fiyori's stone cold face, with no emotion, no reaction. I will always wonder how in the world she had the strength to walk out that door. She is a much much stronger woman than I.

My sister wrote me and reminded me of this: "I don't know how God holds it all, but He does. He's holding their mom and all her pain right now. And He's going to hold you and all your childrens' suffering as well. I am praying He gives over abundant grace and help in this deep time of need to you and to the kids and to their mother."

She is right. He does hold us. And He is Healer and Redeemer. For no other reason that He over-abundant grace you have prayed I have HOPE. Hope in His promises. Hope in His redemption. Hope that the Gospel is big enough, wide enough, strong enough to hold our grief, K and F's grief and their mom's grief. It does. I know He does.

But today.... today, the one way K and F have vocalized their grief and the hardship of transitioning into our family is by complete and utter chaotic playfulness and silliness. I did NOT expect this. After their mother left, they went into a frenzy of crazy and wild play. Eric and I could barely control them. Whether it is a test of authority, an outpouring of grief, a release of emotions, it translates itself to hours of uncontrollable silliness and disobedience. About 50% of the time, they are goofy, fun, immature but obedient children. The other 50% is so exhausting. We spent over two hours with Fiyori today as she whined, sobbed, writhed, dug in her heels over not getting what she wanted. Think about doing this with a child whom you could speak and communicate with. Add a complete language barrier and its practically unbearable.

They are in pain. And they are testing to see how far we will go. How far can they take it for us to quit on them. It is a long long road ahead to show them we are here for good. That we aren't going anywhere. And that we still love them when we say no.

I tell you all of this to communicate a couple things. We still need you greatly. If you want to know how to come alongside us yet again, you can keep reading this CRAZY LONG entry.

#1: Pray. Just because we will have our airport moment in a few days, one that will be filled with joy and tears of happiness, we have a LOT of pain to work through and I know Satan will hit hard. We are doing what he hates most - being the hands and feet of the Gospel. And I know just because the kids will be at home does not mean he will stop. So please, pray for healing and peace for the kids as they arrive in a new country, a new home, a new room, a new language - all which I'm sure will be completely overwhelming and SCARY. Pray for patience and endurance for Eric and I as we have been thrown into a whirlwind of parenting that is entirely new and overwhelming. Pray for our marriage, that we would remember that we are always for eachother and a team, even when the children pit us against one another.

#2. Give us grace. It will take us MONTHS to adjust, so please please be patient with us. We plan to stay close to home for the first couple weeks that we are home and will slowly venture out to our regular outings as we feel the kids are ready. Our priority isTHEM. And that may mean backing out of commitments last minute. It may mean not showing up to church for weeks and weeks. We have no idea what our adjustment will look like or how long it will take. Our kids are scarred and we are definitely imperfect parents. Our parenting may not look like what you would expect or even what we typically have done with Britt, but we are learning and seeking advice and what we need more than anything is your grace and patience.

#3. You responded financially in a way that blew our minds and for that, we are so so SO grateful. We are here in Ethiopia bringing K and F home because of YOU. But Fiyori and Kobe are orphans and they come with nothing. If you have hand-me-downs for clothes, shoes, toys, we will take them.:) We have been given some, (which we are SO thankful for to those who have given!) but overall, have very little in terms of these items. We do NOT need new. If you have items you want to get rid of, just contact me via email and we can chat.:)

#4: Privacy. I know you are curious about Fiyori and Kobe's lives and their stories prior to coming to the US, but even though they are children, they are still privy to their privacy. So we ask that you would give us the grace and freedom to decline any question that you may ask. If you want to learn about adoption, or our process, we would love to answer but ask for grace if we need to decline in answering a particular question. When the time is right and they are ready, Fiyori and Kobe will share with those that they wish to and we will allow them that freedom. And more than anything, we especially ask that you inquire WHEN THEY ARE NOT AROUND. If they are near us, please be sensitive to the fact that many of the questions you may ask will bring up a lot of emotions for them. We do not want them to hear from our lips over and over that they are adopted. Of course, they are, yes, but what we want them to believe and know even more than that, is that they are OUR CHILDREN, loved and seen no differently than Britt. We long to be transparent and open as a family and will strive to tell you anything we can.

Thank you for loving us. You have done it so well.  We love you dearly and know you have prayed and pleaded to the Father for grace and strength on our behalf. We could not have done our adoption journey without you and continue to ask our Heavenly Father to raise up His Bride to walk alongside us.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The hard hasn't even begun.

We will leave Britt behind yet again to go to Ethiopia. We will fly across the ocean to the two strangers who are my children.

We leave in 1 week and I'm scared out of my mind.

I am petrified I won't love them. I grow weak at the knees wondering if they will annoy me and just feel like other peoples children playing with Britt's toys. How do you love someone you don't know?? I'm so scared of what the moment with feel like when they walk into my house. Because it won't be my house anymore. It will be OUR home. I'm so scared because there are moments when that all I feel like I'm doing in adopting two older children, is welcoming complete chaos and pain into my life. Not because they will bring ME pain but because they will have pain, which will in turn, be my pain. I feel utterly unprepared and inadequate.

I wasn't scared when the time for Britt to be born came. I definitely thought a lot of the unknowns, wondering what life would look like and how Eric and I would still be Eric and I.  But there are millions of moms to ask advice. To hear their stories. To know that even if things are hard, and things don't flow, that you're normal. You're not the only one experiencing that emotion, experience, or moment. There are millions of books on what to do with babies. How to feed, swaddle, shush, change diapers, create a schedule, what to buy, how to put together a crib, how they communicate and what their little eyes and body are trying to tell you. 

But there is no book on Fiyori and Kobe.

There is no book to tell me how fall in love with a seven year old and three year old. Who look nothing like me. Who have experienced pain and suffering beyond what I ever will. There is no one to show me what healing a broken heart looks likes in daily practical ways. I don't know how to love two children who were not meant to be mine. They are mine, and God ordained them to become mine, but the reality is, is that it's this fallen world that has led them to me. They were born to their birth mom, and the sin that has corrupted this world makes life imperfect. Praise Jesus for His redemption over our lives. But if their world was perfect, they would be with their mother. The one who loved them enough to give them to me.

I wept during the service this past Sunday because I'm fearful. And because we sang a song with the lyrics that said this:

I will bless the Lord forever,
And I will trust Him at all times.
He has delivered me from all things,
And He has set my feet upon the Rock.

I will not be moved, and I'll say of the Lord:
You are my Shield, my Strength, my Portion, Deliverer,
My Shelter, Strong Tower, my very present help in time of need.

My very present help in time of need. He is the help for NOW. For THIS moment. For the moment of Britt waking up for the 8th time lastnight because we moved into a new house this past weekend and she's scared. For the moment of when I look at our home, the one that is to welcome two new children so soon and its in complete chaos, therefore my heart feels like its in complete chaos. He is my help in the moment of when we bring K and F home and I have no idea what to do with them and I don't have the emotions to back up what I'm SUPPOSE to feel. He will give me the strength and help for the now.

My sweet Savior has pressed one thing into me time and time again when I allow the fear to overtake me and all I can do is bow my head with tears falling down my face and say is, "I can't do it, Lord. I can't do it."

He says one thing.

"Yes. Yes, you are right, My child. You cannot, and you never will.... But I CAN. For it is I, not you, that will heal their hearts. I will be the Strength for the 10th meltdown of the day. I will be the Peace for the storm that rages inside the hearts of your children because of their pain. I will be Redemption for the moments you never had with them as infants. I will be the one to whisper Love over their shattered souls..... I have just chosen you to witness My power."

The bands of fear that wrap their ugliness around my heart wither away when I rest in that. Because the fact is, is that yes, the hard is about to begin. Life is going to change so drastically and all will feel wrecked in moments. But Fiyori and Kobe will bring unsurpassed amounts of joy, love and fullness to my heart. Because it is Jesus who will make them new. It is Jesus who will make them apart of our family. And it is He who will show my doubtful and fearful heart that He can grow love for strangers even when I question.

He IS and will be my very present help in time of need.

Aren't they the most precious faces you've ever seen???:) Gah, I cannot wait to hug their little bodies again.