Sunday, April 17, 2016

April 17

One year ago today as I was walking out of the movie theater, we got "the call" that we had waited right at two years to receive. 

One year ago today, our lives changed.

One year ago today, we saw the faces of the two boys who now fill our house with laughter, chatter, singing and high energy play.

Harder than Expected

To say this past year was an easy road to walk would be a lie. To say we walked the road alone would also be a lie. To say we knew what the year would hold one year ago today would also be a lie.

In the past year, I have cried more tears than any of my other previous 30 years. I've learned to plead and cry out in prayer like never before. I've learned that we truly have no control and our only hope is to lean on and cling to our sovereign creator and trust HIS plan and HIS way for our lives.

Prior to April 17, 2015, I was confident that the wait before "the call" was going to be the hardest part of the journey, but I was wrong... very wrong. Seeing the faces of your children, knowing their names and a small part of their story but yet not knowing when they will be HOME is nothing less than excruciating. 

A year ago our agency quoted a timeline of four to six months when we would travel. More than likely, it would be six month given the two month court closure from August to October. Our case moved forward at what would be considered a "fast" pace for adoption cases through the US embassy investigation through the summer. Many other families just ahead of us in the process traveled right before the courts closed in August so we felt pretty confident we were "next" to travel and it also looked like it was highly possible to travel in October or early November for court and then have the boys home by December or January at the latest.

Boy were we wrong! As you know, things in country have moved painfully slow since courts reopened in October. It ended up that we traveled for court nine months after "the call" and brought the boys home 10.5 months after "the call". Sadly, we are a "fast" case as many other families just behind us in the process are still waiting to travel.

As someone who is very Type-A and detailed/timeline oriented, the wait being exceptionally longer than expected was very hard for me. Thankfully the Lord sustained us and surrounded us with many loving, faithful prayer warriors.

Just What We Needed

The incredible thing over the past year was seeing God provide just what we needed even when we didn't know we needed it. Below are just a few examples, but there are many more.

To start, I resigned my job about three weeks before we got "the call" as we knew that we were close to being matched. Our goal was that I would stay home whenever the Lord blessed us with children. With teaching however, you cannot just give a two weeks notice and have to determine before the end of one school year if you plan to return the following school year. We then got "the call" so we knew our decision for me to resign was the right one. Then about a month after we were matched with the boys, Philip was offered an assistant principal job. This was a huge answer to prayer with going to one full time income and be adding two "mouths to feed" to the family.

In the fall, I signed up for the morning Tuesday Connections women's Bible study at our church. We studied the book of James. (Go check out the verse at the top of this blog that we started when we started the adoption process.) The book of James talks so much about living out our faith and understanding how the Lord uses trials to refine our faith and bring us closer to himself. (The refinement throughout this process is a whole other blog post for later.) This study came along just at the right time and on top of that, I was in an incredible small group of women who cheered us on, faithfully prayed for us, have provided meals and so much more. Most of these women I did not even know until September, but each one has been a huge encouragement and blessing to me during this past year. 

I could go on and on about how the Lord has provided financially for us at each step in the adoption process, but I will just quickly say that he does provide and at many times, in the most unexpected ways. **Side note: if the cost of adoption, especially international adoption, is the reason you are not considering it or are ignoring the tug you might be feeling to adopt, let's talk! Please do not let the cost be the reason you do not adopt. 

Lastly, the adoption community is incredible. Through social media and other avenues, the Lord has given me an incredible group of adoptive mom's to share stories with, ask questions to, complain and vent to and pray for our kids together. Many of these moms have  become such dear, close friends; some I've never met in person. Adoption can be a lonely and frustrating road to walk because no two stories are alike and it is easy to feel like no one "gets it" but thankfully, that was not the case for me. Again, I didn't go looking for this and didn't know how much I would need these women, but the good Lord did.

There is no roadmap or checklist for this

We've been home with the boys just over six weeks. They've been some of the hardest, yet best weeks of our lives.

The process of adopting has a ton of paperwork, checklists, training, reading and planning. Thankfully, there are highly respectable agencies, social workers and caseworkers that have outlined all of this and provide you with a guide to get through each step of the process. 

Unfortunately, there isn't a roadmap or checklist for parenting six-year old twin boys who've spent the majority of their lives in an orphanage and speak a language very different than English. There isn't a list of standards and objectives that tell us when they are ready to start school. There isn't an indicator light that comes on to tell us something is wrong. Our agency does an incredible job preparing you (as much as you can be prepared) for what life will be like, but no two adopted kids are the same just like no two biological kids are the same. 

It is hard to adequately describe the past six weeks of our lives. Hard, yes. Overwhelming, yes (at times). Exhausting, yes. Fulfilling, yes. Fun, yes. Chaotic, yes. Survival, yes. Rewarding, yes. 

To be honest, there are times we look at each other unsure of what is the best way to handle certain behaviors, but we go with our gut. We have done a lot of trial and error. We have screwed up and made some great parenting mistakes. But, the incredible thing about kids is that they wake up each day ready for a great day. They have forgiven and forgotten our mistakes from the day before. Oh that we would forgive as quickly and approach life with such joy as children do daily!

Though we have tough and frustrating moments, overall the boys are adjusting and transitioning incredibly well. In the tough moments when the boys want to do anything but listen, I am reminded of how often in our sin and disobedience we are not listening to the Lord and seeking his wisdom and plan for our lives which is ultimately for our best. I'm reminded that as the boys learn to trust us and bond well with us, that the same is true of our relationship with our heavenly Father. He loves us and pursues us unconditionally, no matter how far we stray and no matter how often we turn away. It hasn't always been easy to love the boys unconditionally when it seems like all they want to do is argue or fight against us or each other on some days, but again, the Lord has reminded me of how often I have refused his love and protection thinking my way was best or that I could control the situation on my own. 

April 17

This will always be a day we remember and celebrate. Much has changed in our lives since last April 17, but the goodness and faithfulness of the Lord has not.