This time next month, we should have our little one in our arms. Those words don’t feel real even as I type them. Our application was approved on April 26,2013, and we settled in to what we thought would be a 2-3 year process. But if all goes as planned, we should be back in America fighting jet-lag and getting to know life as a family of 4 before our one-year adoption application anniversary.
So much can happen in a year.
After 6 months of paperwork, our Dossier was sent to China on November 1, 2013, and we joyfully discovered our little one just a few weeks before, receiving Pre-Approval on October 25, 2013. We received our LOA on Christmas Eve, and the last few months have been a blur of last-minute paperwork and mental preparation. We are waiting on TA now, and could be on a plane in 2-3 weeks.
Just a couple of months before we found Alea’s file… when we were still in “this will take 2 years” mode and we were diligently working on a savings plan to fund our adoption, there was a family in our church who stopped us after the service, saying they felt like God wanted them to help us with our adoption as they pressed a folded check into my hand. When I opened the check in the privacy of my car a few moments later, my hands started shaking as I saw the string of zeros and realized they had just given us enough to cover over 1/3 of the total amount we needed to save to pay for the adoption.
We continued with our savings plan, and it has worked out that our adoption is fully funded right when we needed it to be… I know it is because God pressed upon their hearts to be involved in our journey that we were able to say YES to Alea’s file and move forward with confidence that we weren’t trying to make our own way.
God’s faithfulness and kindness and tenderness extended far beyond financially providing for this adoption. He has heard my prayers and answered them – from assurances about her health to whispers about her name. I made Alea a quilt shortly after we were matched. I know it was risky sending something hand-made to an orphanage in China, but I wanted to risk the chance that she might not get it with the possibility that she would. I have wondered, though, if it ever made it to her. A month or so later, we were sent an update from her orphanage, and it included a couple of little videos. I have watched them countless times, but just a week or so ago I thought to pay attention to what was being said in the background. I caught bits and pieces of it, but called in a friend to listen and translate what the nannies were talking about. They were talking about the care package. I think she got her quilt, and I think God winked at me.
I’m surprisingly calm about everything right now… As these stories illustrate, God has proven himself through this journey, and I trust that He will continue to sustain us along the way. If I could choose three words to describe what I have learned about my Abba over the last year, it is that He is tender and He is gentle and He is kind. He has shown me His heart for us, Alea, and adoption through a thousand seemingly tiny reassurances, and now as we stand on the edge of one of our life’s biggest transitions, I know He will continue to be tender and gentle and kind.
You know, when I started this journey out, I wasn’t focused on Him nearly as much as I was on myself. I thought I needed to be sufficient. I needed to be strong and wise and savvy and ready. I needed to read books and attend seminars and dig down deep to my 4+ years of professional international adoption work experience and 4 years of direct orphan care work experience and BE enough.
Please hear me… I am a HUGE fan of preparation. I literally feel physically ill when I overhear prospective adoptive parents singing the “Love will be Enough” refrain. Love is all you need, but Love looks like therapeutic parenting, well-informed insights into their trauma and their stories, and a willingness to change the way you’ve done things in the past to meet your child in his deepest place of need to bring hope and healing.
But, for a gal who had just about as much international adoption preparation as one could have without actually adopting a child, I’ve gone through much of this process frantically focused on just how INADEQUATE I feel for the task at hand. (And, as a result, frantically scrambling to cram as much preparation into the time that I have as I could.) I think in some areas of life, the experience I’ve had would make you feel like an expert. In this arena, it makes you take off the “Ignorance is Bliss” rose-colored glasses far earlier than most of your first-time adopting peers and shake in your boots.
To be honest, at times I felt so woefully unprepared that I questioned whether or not we should even be DOING this.
I’m a striver. I always have been. As I said before, I will strive and strive and strive until I feel like I AM enough. Do you catch the words there… I AM. I too often make an idol out of myself and my sufficiency. But the One I follow tells me to cease striving and know that He is God. He is the great I AM.
It isn’t that I’m not to prepare for my child’s trauma and transition. It isn’t that I’m not to carefully consider what special needs I feel best-equipped to handle. But at the same time, it isn’t about me being smart enough or a certain (unattainable) caliber of mama. It’s about saying yes to the journey with Him, allowing Him to be wise when I am ignorant, strong when I am weak, and sufficient when I am at the end of my rope. So if you sense God inviting you on this grand road trip, my advice to you isn’t just to say yes and let go of the wheel. It’s to say yes, let go of the wheel, hop in the back seat and color. He is so worthy of our absolute trust. It’s a wild ride, but He’s the best driver of all… and you’ll be there before you know it with something beautiful you’ve created together in hand.