Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Making Room for Two (Part 2)

I've often sat down to compose this blog post over the past few months, but the words just did not come. The timing didn't feel right. I mean if you write a part one blog post; there has to be a part two, right?

Making room for two.... little did we know when we started this journey that it would be two years, almost to the day that we would be on the wait list waiting to be matched with one child or two. We did not know we were "making room for two" years in our lives. We are making room in our home, in our lives and in our hearts for two little boys, but that isn't what this blog post is going to be about exactly.

There is a back story to these two years that we have sought to be careful in how we share because it is not entirely our story to share. I have struggled to know if we should share this openly on this blog. We do not share this to pat ourselves on the back or to try to draw attention to ourselves. We share this because of the lessons we have learned and seeing a small glimpse of God's purpose in our lives in a season of waiting.

It is hard to pinpoint exactly where this piece of our journey started, but I think that is how God works. He starts a new chapter in the story of our lives when we don't even realize it is happening. As a teacher in a large urban district, there are countless students who've sat in the desks of my classroom that impacted me more than my teaching impacted them. This is one of those cases.

A young man walked into my classroom for the first time in January of 2011. His class schedule had switched around due to seniors being able to take a reduced class load in their second semester so he was placed in my Algebra 2 class to accommodate other course changes. I knew of this young man previously because he was on the basketball team. I had kept the scorebook for the basketball team and my husband announced during the games. I did not know much of his story prior to this semester; only that he was a fairly quiet kid who loved to play basketball. Being a tom boy growing up, I enjoyed talking sports with the student athletes in my class so though I did not get much conversation out of him, the little we did talk was about the basketball team or how a particular game had gone, etc. 

A few other situations came up through his last semester of high school in which I learned a bit more of his story and was able to help him out in a few very small ways. He was a kid who did not ask for help very often because he had pretty much relied on only himself for much of his life. Thanks to his HS assistant basketball coach, he was offered a scholarship to play basketball at a community college in western Kansas. 

We kept up with how he was doing and how his basketball team was doing through his freshman year of college. We were able to go see several games that year and even watched his team play in the national junior college tournament. He was having great success on the team and was getting honors for his success even just as a freshman. We continued to follow him through his sophomore year as well. Due to a job relocation, his uncle who he had lived with growing up, moved out of state during his sophomore year of college. 

As I mentioned previously, he is a very quiet kid. We kept in touch with him but usually didn't get a lot of response back. We had offered that if he ever needed help with anything that he just needed to let us know. He always said thanks, but we really never expected him to take us up on the offer until he called me in December of his sophomore year. His ride home for Christmas break had fallen through so he was asking if we could come pick him up which we did and later took him back after Christmas as college basketball players get very little time off around the holidays.  After his teams' season ended earlier than they hoped, he and a teammate stayed with us for their spring break. Both had hopes and plans to play at a Division I school after they graduated from the junior college later that spring.

On April 19, 2013, he and the same teammate signed to play basketball at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX. 

Side note about the timing God planned in all of this: our dossier got to Ethiopia on April 22, 2013 which was the start of our official wait on "the list" to receive an adoption referral.

The two years that followed while we waited on the adoption wait list involved us making many trips to TX. We were able to see him play in quite a few games in his two years on the team. He stayed with us for the summers in between and at Christmas time as well. We made the trip down for his last game on their home court for his senior night and got to walk with him and some of his family when he was honored. 

Our favorite memories were going to their conference tournament both years in Katy, TX in which they played in the championship game both years; falling short of making it to the NCAA tournament both years unfortunately. Through his two years on the team, we got to know the coaching staff very well and are so grateful for their investment in him and including us in their program as well even though we are not technically his family. (Seriously, they truly went above and beyond the call of duty. I could go on and on about this, but that isn't the point of this post.) He received honors for his success on the team as well and finished his time there with hopes of playing professionally.

He came back to stay with us for the summer while he finished up one online class this summer. We made the trip back to Huntsville for one last time for his graduation on August 8. His journey was unsure for a bit as to if an opportunity to play basketball would actually work out, but just a little over a week ago, I took him to the airport and he is now in the country of Georgia where he signed to play basketball in a professional league there.

I often have said had the adoption process moved quicker, we would have not been able to be as involved in his life as we were able to. Is this why our adoption process went slowly? We will never know for sure, but we do know that for this season of waiting, God had a purpose we would have never planned for or seen on our own. 

The lessons we learned in these few years of walking beside him in his collegiate basketball journey and pursuing professional basketball are hard to fully verbalize. One thing I know for certain is that when we get out of the way and allow God to use us as he would choose, the journey he will take us on is far greater than what we could imagine. He is now half a world away pursuing his dreams of playing basketball professionally and we are slowly, but surely, getting closer to bringing the twins home. Though he will never officially or legally be related to us, we consider him as close as family and know in some way, shape or form, we will stay connected with him. 

My sister's mantra is "it is a privilege to be involved in the lives of people." It truly has been a privilege for us to be involved in this young man's life. I think it is in our human nature to hold back and to not get involved because people's lives our messy and it might require too much of our hearts and lives to get involved. In this case, it wasn't always easy nor was it convenient, but the benefits far outweigh the inconvenience. We did not always know where the path was going to lead and looking back there are possibly some things we would have done differently. The selfish instincts in us said to hold back and to not be involved, but thankfully, God nudged us just enough to walk this path. It would have been easy to say we couldn't get involved because our season of life would be changing.

Yes, the seasons do change, but one of the biggest lessons I have learned in this entire adoption process is that we miss out on the beauty and the opportunity of the season we are in now if we are always looking forward to the next season. The Bible is filled with stories of waiting, but it is filled with stories of the way God worked mightily in these people's lives who were waiting for the next season. He uses waiting, even though our impatient hearts long for the waiting to end. There is purpose in the waiting. In our case, God gave us a glimpse of one small purpose of our waiting in this adoption process. Sometimes we don't get that glimpse until well after the fact. 

Right now, we find ourselves in yet another season of waiting that is lasting much longer than we anticipated. Do we trust God in this time of waiting? Do we trust that his timing and his plan are perfect? We have seen time and time again in this entire journey that his plan is good and perfect, but it is so easily to forget and to want things NOW. Would you continue to pray for us that we would seek God's wisdom in this time?

We are so grateful for such a large support system. We would not have been able to walk this journey without your love, support, encouragement and prayers!

Grateful for you all!