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Saturday, June 25, 2011

The past three days...

...have been a whirlwind.  Did I mention that my husband was headed out of town for a week today?  And that BOTH parents have to be present to request a passport for a child? And that I was working on Friday (the 2nd Friday I've worked in the past 5 years) so that the only day we could actually go to get a passport for Riley was on Thursday - the day AFTER we got the call about court.  Oh yeah, and the only passport agency that doesn't require an appointment is 30 minutes away. Craziness.

So after all the mad scrambling, we now have a plan. We are going to Ethiopia. Riley's coming with us (he has even agreed to shots!). We will be traveling to Gondar, the area where little man is from. Whew.  The only last puzzle piece is where we will stay, but I think we've got that pretty well figured out. The man at the travel agency probably thinks I'm a little nuts, though.  (PS. We used Lion of Judah travel agency and they were WONDERFUL dealing with me all day long as our plans changed a million times. He even saved us about $1200 by suggesting different travel dates. I definitely recommend them.)

And even after all that I'm not sure that it has sunk in yet. We're going to meet him. I'm going to hold him in my arms. We will stand in front of a judge and tell her how much we want him to be part of our family.  We'll see his homeland, where he was born.  I desperately want Riley to see Ethiopia for what it is: a beautiful country filled with beautiful people. I want all of my children to be proud of their brother's heritage, which will become part of the heritage of our whole family.

How do you prepare to meet a child? One with almost a year of life experience that doesn't include me.  We can't tell him who we are - not on this visit. That wouldn't be right.  We have no idea how long it will take after meeting him to bring him home. We don't want him to meet Mommy, Daddy, and brother and then not see us again for 6 months. We'll visit with him in his room, along with all the other kids there with him.  I plan to bring bubbles 'cause I figure that'll make everyone happy.

How do you prepare to leave a child? It is hard enough looking at pictures of him and not knowing when he'll be home.  How do I prepare for that last visit on Friday? The day when I know we'll walk out of his life and I have no clue when we'll walk back in?

My emotions are all over the place. I am unbearably excited to go. And having scrambled like mad to make plans I now feel like I need the days over the next three weeks to be just as manic so I can get through them.   But I'm scared, too.

This may sound silly, but there really is a child at the end of this journey.  Of course that's why we started all this in the first place.  But now it's becoming real. I want to do right by this child, almost more than by my other two.  I want to be a good mother to all my children, but I feel especially so about this little one - I owe it to his birth family to raise him well.  I owe it to his country to raise him well - they are trusting us to raise a son of Ethiopia.  It is an honor to be a parent regardless of how parenthood comes upon you, but I feel the honor more strongly upon my shoulders when I think of him.

I am finally allowing myself to imagine what it will be like to have a third little body running/crawling(?) around the house.  Realizing we have to put the baby gate back up on top of the stairs, that we'll have to re-evaluate all the tiny toy pieces I only recently started allowing in the house.  Bedtime rituals will look a little different - will he be able to read the paper-page books that the older kids read or will we be busting out the board books again?  What will his giggle sound like when he's playing with his siblings?  Lately I have had trouble differentiating Riley & Allyn's cry of "mommy" in the middle of the night! More than once I've opened the wrong bedroom door - they sound so similar!  When will I be able to pick his cry out in a crowd?

We leave three weeks from tomorrow.  It's going to be a long three weeks!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Talk about unprepared...

Want to see my to-do list for tomorrow?

1. Take Riley to Walgreens for passport pictures (although I swear we've already done this, but I can't find them)
2. Make husband take time off from work to drive to nearest walk-in passport agency (25 miles away)
3. Pay said passport agency a million dollars to expedite a passport for a four year-old (sheesh)
4. Call Health Department to schedule vaccinations for 3 of us.
5. Call Travel Agencies to figure out our plans because...

WE ARE GOING TO ETHIOPIA IN LESS THAN FOUR WEEKS!!!!

Feel free to laugh at me... especially if you are among the ranks of those I've spoken to recently about our potential timeline.  I'm fairly certain that THIS MORNING I told my friend Sara that there was pretty much no way we'd be scheduled for court before the rainy season.  And yesterday at our church playdate I'm also fairly certain I told ALL the moms there that I wouldn't have my arms around that baby until November.

Talk about a rollercoaster.  I'm obviously not prepared (hence the bazillion extra dollars for the passport).

I was sitting at the computer, ignoring the giant pile of laundry I was supposed to be folding when the phone rang. 817 area code but I figured it was a friend from Texas, since we had just visited there.  It was Sara, our awesome caseworker. So then I immediately assumed she was calling about updating our homestudy, since she had just emailed me info about that a week ago or so. Then she said "So I have your court date for you." I think I said something like "no you don't!"  I was more shocked than I was when she called with our referral.

So here's how it all goes down:
July 11th - our court hearing with MOWA.  This one just might be more important than the one where we have to appear. MOWA will issue their opinion with the federal court (we hope).  If they issue a positive opinion for us on this day, it will help us immensely for going to court.  But no matter what happens this day, we still go to court on:
July 21st - Court!  If we pass while we are there, we won't have to wait through the rainy season to finish our adoption. How amazing would that be?

But the day I'm most looking forward to? July 19th. That's the day we get to meet our boy. He'll be 11 months old.  I can NOT wait. Oh my gosh. There are no words for this feeling. God is so good.

And just in case you were wondering about the kids' reactions? Riley was with me when we got the call and he and I yelled and jumped up and down. He's been praying EVERY NIGHT without fail that we would get a court date soon.  Now he says he'll need a whole lot of bubble gum for the long flight and says the first thing he's going to say to our baby is "I love you."  Allyn says she wants to pick out a baby toy to send with us for him to have.

Thanks to all of you for your prayers. Getting a court date this quickly is nothing short of miraculous.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Have I mentioned I hate adoption math?

I'm in trouble again. I should never do math of any kind, but I get myself into more trouble every time I do adoption math.  Every time I try to figure out a timeline, I end up either depressing myself or getting my hopes up!

I was reading adoption blogs this morning (instead of doing whatever it was I was supposed to be doing) and discovered that a family who got their referral a month before we did just was given their court date for mid-July!

Things do not happen linearly in adoption. I know this.  But for some reason this gave me a hope that we actually might get to meet our little one this summer. Just the thought makes my heart beat faster.  I had already decided there was no chance for court before October.  Even though our caseworker says it's possible; I just refused to allow myself to think about it.

Ethiopia closes sometime in August for the rainy season and reopens sometime in October. We pretty much find out the exact dates as they come.  If we are not assigned a court date before they close, we have to wait until October even to be assigned a court date.

There is the tiniest of chances we could squeak in before they close.

I will be praying God holds off the rain.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The tough question

We're in full-on summer mode around here.  We just got back from our awesome trip to Texas and dove straight into our summer routine... which means we go to the pool. Every day.

We belong to a pool club-thing where you have to have a membership to go. That means there are families we see all summer long and then don't see them again all winter until summer's here again.  And there are always new families who just joined.  Which means I'm having lots of conversations around the kiddie pool with other moms I don't know very well.  And those conversations almost always start like this:

Which ones are yours?
or
How many do you have?

It pains me to answer the question.  Of course I'm happy to point my two kiddos out in the pool (they're always the most-covered ones... I am a little anal about sun exposure!).  But then I pause.  How do I tell them about our little boy in Ethiopia?  He's not ours. Not yet.  But I love him already just as I did with my first two while I was pregnant.  And then the inevitable next question always comes: "When do you bring him home?"  And there's no quick answer other than "I don't know."  And always lurking in the back of my mind is the thought that something could happen; that we might never get to bring him home.  But these nice mamas at the pool aren't really asking me to share my soul... they're just doing that mom-thing we do 'cause asking about someone's kids is the easiest way to make a quick connection.

I think this is hard for me mainly because I completely expected him to be home by now. I had planned on a crazy summer, learning to wrangle three kids at the pool by myself.  Instead, I have just two. And while I'm certainly enjoying how easy it is to just have those two, it just doesn't feel quite right.

I'm praying a lot these days (well, that's nothing new).  I am trying to find the place where I can breathe easier, even knowing it is not likely we'll meet our little one until this winter.  Let me tell you - it is really hard to be a mom who's separated from her child.  And I've never even met this one yet.  The funny thing is that there is still a joy to be in the process; knowing we're doing exactly what God has called us to do. Even on days when I want to despair, feeling like this is too long, too hard, to wait for a child after seeing his face.  Yep, just joy.

God is good.