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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

No words...

I haven't disappeared from the blog.  I promise.  I have tried to update it once a week since we started and have (almost) been faithful to do so.

But I'm having trouble this time.  I usually come up with what to write while I'm out on a run. It's my chance to be alone with God with nothing else going on. No music, no sound, no one asking me for "milk in a sippy cup."  And I still have that time but at the moment it's so hard to put into words what is going on with me.

There is a child out there. He's not mine exactly.  But at the moment he does not belong to anyone else.  And there is a space in my heart shaped exactly like him.  I look at his pictures and I want to reach into them and pull him out.  I have NEVER wanted to hold a child so badly in my entire life. Not even during my pregnancies.  (probably because any pictures I had of my children in-utero looked like aliens).

I can't begin to explain the place I'm in right now. I'm in love. It kills me that I can't put his picture up on here - he is the most beautiful child.  We want him here as part of our family and yet I know that, most likely, I won't have him home before the end of 2011.  It kind of feels like I'm playing tug-of-war.  Some days I want to cry because it's so hard to think about how much he'll grow up before I get to play a role in his life.  Other days I try to pretend like everything's normal - like our family is just fine as is. I can convince myself for tiny moments that part of my heart hasn't suddenly flown to Ethiopia and taken hold there.  Those moments are fleeting.

But this summer will be wonderfully busy. We're headed to Texas this week for a very special wedding.  The past two weeks since we got our referral have been crazily packed with end-of-the-year parties, field trips, and graduations. We plan to live at the pool this summer and have two VBS's already lined up.  Summer craziness will surely carry me through August.

And I have found a tiny silver lining in the length of the process.  Since we probably won't have our little one home by the fall, I will have two mornings a week when both kids are at school and no kids will be at home.  I will be alone from 9-1 two days a week.  I have not been alone for more than 5 minutes in the past four and a half years.  Seriously - my children still show up while I'm in the shower and Allyn just recently stopped requesting to sit on my lap while I'm sitting on the toilet.  Not kidding.

So we're focusing on the positive over here.  And today's my 8th wedding anniversary   That's proof right there that time flies fast!! :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

THE CALL

I wrote this the night we got the call... it's probably scattered and crazy.  But that's kind of how it feels to get a referral, so I didn't go back and edit it!!!


I was 100% not expecting the call today! In fact, I didn't even know where my cell phone was and I was in the back yard with my mom (who's in town visiting from Florida!) and Riley. I had come back inside to check on Allyn, who was still napping.  And I got sucked into facebook.  So I was checking facebook when my phone rang. I saw 817 and I think I said something like "OH MY GOSH!" And ran outside, since my phone doesn't work well in the house!

It was Sara, our wonderful caseworker saying these beautiful words "I have your referral ready for you."

Of course Rob was not home. It was his day off and he had run to the bank & the post office. I told Sara I'd call him, get him back home and we'd call her back.  I had always thought I would calmly ask her how old our baby was, then would calmly call Rob and ask him nicely to come home.  ha.   I didn't ask Sara any questions because my brain turned to mush.  Crying, standing in the front yard (because my mom & R were in the back yard), I called Rob and somehow managed to say "COME HOME NOW! SARA JUST CALLED!"  At least that's what I thought I said. Rob had no clue what I was saying and it seemed to take a long time to explain! He was in the middle of dealing with a minor situation at the bank!  This is the bank where we'd gotten lots of our adoption stuff notarized so they always ask him how it's going... they were really sweet when he said he had to go!

I ran to the back yard and started yelling at my mom & Riley that we'd gotten the call. I must have looked like a crazy woman!! :)  Of course Riley thought that meant we'd be bringing the baby home today so I had to slow down enough to explain a little better.  Then I ran inside to get the computer set up in our room so we could look at the referral in there once Rob got home.

He was probably home in less than 10 minutes but I couldn't wait and called him again. He was on our street!  When he came home, we got Riley & my mom settled in to watch "The Llama Movie" (which is what my kids call The Emperor's New Groove) and we called Sara back.

She emailed us the referral and some pictures.  The whole thing was kind of surreal. He is so beautiful.  And I had read enough "THE CALL" blog posts to know that I was in for an emotional rollercoaster.  After we got off the phone, we sat and looked through the 7 pictures we have over and over again. Probably 47 times at least.

It was tough.   First I was crying for joy because this was a moment we'd waited so long for - to find out who our child is, to see his face.  Then I was crying because I was learning the reason why he needs to be adopted.  Next I was grieving for his birth parents; then I was grieving for him.  I thought the worst part would be finding out his story... I was wrong.  The hardest part is what we don't know.  It's the pieces of information about his life that are missing - the questions I will never be able to answer for him.  I think I cried hardest over that.

The rest of the day was a whirlwind. My brother just happened to be coming over tonight too so we waited until he got here to tell him.  It was wonderful to get to see my mom and brother's reactions to the pictures.  And we called our family and close friends.

And here's the other hard part.  We decided long ago that we were not going to share any of our son's information.  We've decided that it is his story to tell and we'll help him decide when and to whom he shares the story, but that he will have a say in that.  There are two reasons this is hard for me.  First, it's hard not to tell our family, who we know love him already. It is hard to tell them that we aren't sharing that information with them.  I know they want to know and that, right now, when they can't meet him, that precious information we have is the only way they can get to know him.  The other reason is that I am a sharer.  I talk.  I desperately want to share this experience with the people I love.  I want to talk about how hard it is to deal with his story.  Thank God for Rob - and maybe pray for him, 'cause he'll be hearing from me a lot!  But I am glad for this decision.  This is not about me, not about how I'm handling the circumstances of his adoption. It's his story to tell and I will allow him to tell it.

After we took our time reading through the referral, I called our pediatrician because I wanted to run a few things by her. She is just amazing. She called me back right away and celebrated with us. I just love her.

While we were waiting for her to call back, we returned to my mom & Riley and told them his name and age. Once Allyn was up from her nap, we put the kids in front of the computer and let them click through all the pictures.  Riley seemed to think it was incredibly cool that they took a naked picture of him and then took notice of what he was wearing in every other picture.  Allyn just kept looking at the pictures and when we asked her what she thought she'd say "good!"  We let Riley pick which picture my mom would see first - of course he picked the naked one.  So my mom joined the kids and got to see the pictures too!

The rest of today is a blur.  We are overjoyed to finally see the face of the one we've prayed for for the last 18 months.  I'm SO ready to have him now. I know he's out there - I can't stop wondering what he's doing now.

Friday, May 13, 2011

817...

My phone rang today - 817 area code!  I couldn't believe it!

And then we were looking at the most beautiful 8 month old baby boy!

I promise I'll write down the details of the call... but I have to work tomorrow and MUST get some sleep!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Perspective

It's funny how different the wait feels right now versus how I felt last year.  And how different I know it will feel after we know who our child is.

Last year, we had just finished up the big race to getting on the wait list.  I spent 4 1/2 months in a whirlwind of paperwork.  We scheduled FBI fingerprint appointments, dr appointments, pediatrician appointments, Citizenship & Immigration appointments.  All of it felt kind of exciting, like we were really getting somewhere.

I blogged about our CIS appointment last year because it felt like a big deal.  I think I yelled last year when we received our letters in the mail informing us of the appointment and counted the days until we went to Raleigh.  This year when the letters came in the mail, I put them on the table with the rest of the mail and didn't even open them until the next day.  Then I kind of forgot when they were & had to re-check.  This year, the appointment didn't feel much like it was getting us much closer to our baby.  Although we did go together as a family and the woman who took our fingerprints was really sweet to the kids - she let them stand right by the computer and watch. And at one point, Allyn asked me if they were going to paint my fingernails. ha ha :)  And the kids & I did our own fingerprinting session after we got back.  So at least we created some nice memories.

I've decided we're not getting our referral until June.  And I've decided it's definitely NOT happening this week.  For some reason, Fridays have been the only hard days. That's the day I realize that that week wasn't THE week.  I've stopped carrying my cell phone around with me religiously.  I don't jump every time my cell phone rings.  And, although I am really anxious to find out who our baby is, this wait hasn't been all that tough. I'm getting good at it.

But I'm painfully aware that all that will change after we get our referral. Maybe there's a tiny part of me that's okay with this part of the wait because I know the next part is going to be so hard.

A friend of mine sent me a link to this video just after I posted this. It moved me to tears and I HAD to share! Please watch it all the way to the end... that's the best part:

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Advice... I'm not going to take

It's sinking in... I am going to fall in love with a child when I see his face in his referral picture. And I will watch him grow up in monthly pictures for about a year before I get to bring him home.  Ugh. This is going to be hard. I need to find some kind of random wealthy person who wants to send my family to Ethiopia for a year so we can be with him while we wait!

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! :)