I keep remembering some advice we were given when we started this journey. We were advised NOT to refer to our referral child as "our son" or as "your brother" to the kids. This is because referrals can be lost. We could be referred a child and then that referral can disappear for many reasons. The idea behind the advice was twofold, I think. 1 - to keep the kids from thinking that little brothers can just disappear, and 2 - to guard our hearts against the loss of a referral. I remember thinking this was great advice.
It sounds logical. But I don't think I can do it. Because here's the thing: I don't think it's legal paperwork that makes you a parent. When we receive our referral, that's all it is - a referral. Our child is not legally ours until we stand in front of a judge in Ethiopia and that judge makes us his parents.
But in my heart, he will be mine from the moment I see his face.
If we lose a referral, it will not matter to me that I was never legally that child's parent. What matters is that I wanted to be. I don't think I can refer to this kiddo as "the baby we hope to adopt" for a year as we get picture updates and monthly emails with the latest milestones. I'm not going to be praying for him as "the baby we hope to adopt." I pray for him as "my son."
Maybe it's prudent to guard our hearts. But my heart just doesn't work that way. And if we lose a referral, I will grieve. If something happens and Ethiopia closes before we get to travel for court, I will grieve. I'm okay with grieving losses. It happens. I believe language is powerful, but I don't think in this case changing my words will change my heart.
Riley has started saying "maybe they don't want us to have our baby in Africa and that's why it's taking so long." My heart breaks a little every time he says it. It is so hard to explain to my two little ones who so desperately want to meet this child we've been praying for for the last year & a half that we will be waiting another year.
Right now I'm praying for strength. Strength to explain to my children why we are still waiting. Strength to wait. Strength to miss milestones. Strength to deal with not being there to kiss boo boos. Strength to deal with only one update a month. Strength to carry on and see what God's doing around me here.
"For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength." Philippians 4:13.
PS. The latest average wait times are 12.5 to 13 months. We'll hit 12.5 in two weeks. I'm officially giving myself a breather from the carrying-the-cell-phone-with-me-at-all-times thing until the middle of May! Partially to give myself a break, partially because I secretly hope that will cause my phone to ring! :)