5 Years: He's in the Waiting
We have a sponsor child in Ethiopia who turns 5 today (Happy Birthday, Dawit!), which also means that today marks 5 years since we started the adoption process. 5 years, guys, and we are still in the midst of this process- probably heading straight for some of the most difficult months in our whole adoption journey to date. (Please pray for us.) When we started this adoption process 5 years ago, we were under the impression that we would have a child in our arms within 18 months. Well, we actually did....her name just happens to be Eliza and she came from my belly rather than from someone else’s. Then 19 months after that, her name was Hattie and she came in the same fashion. We have always longed to build our family both biologically and through adoption. I am so thankful that God saw fit to give us biological children during this waiting process. But here we are, 5 years later, still waiting for 1 more child in our arms. Let me be real and raw for a moment though, would you?
I have carried and birthed 2 babies, and I understand the fatigue, the aches, the intense pain. I naively thought the pains of childbirth wouldn’t apply to the adoption process. I was so wrong....but God is still good. It has been 5 years of pain- disappointments, losses, 1 step forward and 2 steps back, overwhelming requirements, stinging loneliness, endless waiting, financial burdens, the silent grief of a failed adoption, and constant uphill battles. And it’s still not over. BUT God is still good and it has still been worth the pain. You see, it has also been 5 years of growth, encouragement, provision, fellowship with our Maker, celebrations, forged friendships, answered prayers, drawing near, miracles unfolding, and God’s perfect timing. He is still so good.
Honestly, there have been days (or weeks) sprinkled in there when I struggled to believe that this whole thing is worth it. Today, especially, evokes feelings of frustration and a deep aching. There are still fears and anxieties and questions that I must surrender to Him daily. I’ve sometimes even wondered why God would call us to this kind of process. Like, “Hello, God? We are trying to follow Your will over here. Can’t you just take it easy on us??” But sometimes God loves us too much to do that because He values our growth and our sanctification more than our comfort. So what have I learned throughout this never-ending, 5+ year adoption process? God is still good. He is in the pain. He draws us to Himself in the midst of struggles. He comforts. He provides. He teaches. He redeems. He strengthens. He loves. He can be trusted. He’s in the waiting. He’s working in the quiet moments and in the background. And that, my friends, is worth so much more than “taking it easy on us.”
You see, when we started this process we were so naive to what adoption fully entails. We knew words like family, forever, home, redemption, gotcha, love- all those warm, fuzzy things that we still wholeheartedly believe adoption entails. However, we did not understand things like trauma, loss, corruption, attachment issues, grief, loss of culture, lasting effects of institutionalized care- all those less glamorous things that we probably still don’t fully understand but are trying to learn as we continue to prepare. When we started this process, we were not as passionate about things like orphan prevention, sponsorship, medical care, first family reunification, racial reconciliation. We knew adoption was a beautiful picture of the Gospel, and it is, just in some different ways than we originally thought. God has led us here for a purpose. He has taken us on a 5 year journey to stretch us beyond belief, to open our eyes, and to teach us a little more about Himself.
Sometimes I’m afraid that sharing this difficult journey so publicly might discourage people from pursuing adoption, but I pray that it would actually provide hope and display God’s faithfulness and goodness. I pray that the world would see a picture of the Gospel- broken, messy, painful...but filled with hope, love, and intentional pursuit. To hear more about this idea of the Gospel & adoption, watch this 2 minute video by Jimmy Neeham: Dying to Adopt
Even though it’s been a difficult journey, there are still so many stories I could share with you of God’s goodness and faithfulness in the midst of those moments where we were wondering WHY and “what in the world is God doing?” I’ll just leave you with these for now though:
-God has taken us on a 5 year journey through a country that closed international adoptions so that He could open our eyes to new needs and perspectives. While He was working on our hearts, we were also waiting on a little boy to be born in India. That little boy was born over 4 years AFTER we began praying for him, which means we have been praying for him for his ENTIRE life. There is no doubt that this little boy has ALWAYS been wanted and pursued.
-God had us wrestle with decisions and remain in limbo for 3 months wondering what Ethiopia would decide about international adoptions so that on the EXACT DAY we withdrew from Ethiopia and applied to India, our son was declared legally adoptable. He began the process of being put into the system the same day we began the process of being put into the system. You guys, that is a MIRACLE that those dates would line up so perfectly.
-We waited on an approval to adopt from India for almost 6 weeks (when most people were being approved in 2 weeks) only to be approved ON the 4 year anniversary of when our paperwork was initially sent to Ethiopia. That was the 4 year anniversary of when we officially began waiting for a match. God knew that would be a hard day, as we had always celebrated that day with an Ethiopian meal and dreams of the future. He redeemed that date for us and challenged us to look ahead, to see what He was doing and where He was leading us. There we were, on that EXACT date, officially waiting for a match again! Miraculous. God also knew our little one wouldn’t be available to be matched until just over 6 weeks after we submitted that initial request for approval. Like I said, we’ve just been waiting on him this whole time. Every set back, every frustrating delay, has really just been God’s timing at work.
-TODAY, on the 5 year anniversary of when we started this process, we got our No Objection Certificate (NOC) from India's adoption officials. This means that India has essentially signed off on our adoption, and we can move toward finalizing it in court. We are now able to send a photo book to our son and show him the faces of his family. We were told, "You can refer to yourselves as Mom and Dad in his book." The Lord's grace is so sweet, you guys.
So, if you are in the midst of struggles and you’re wondering what God is doing, lean in to Him and remember: He’s in the pain. He sees you. He is for you. He is good. Trust in His vision for your life because He sees the whole picture. (This is for me too, friends, as I’m sure I’ll need this reminder again in a few months, or weeks, or even days.)
“It's not light yet, but I know Him, the One who is the light. So in the dark, I will sing." -Katie Davis Majors, Daring To Hope