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a lesson on grief and redemption

Sometimes God asks you for a little.

A smile, a kind word, 10%.

Other times he asks for a lot.

A car, a difficult relationship, a mission trip.

And still other times he asks for everything.

Reinvent your life, move to Hong Kong, become a parent.

For a long time I liked to think that if asked for everything, I would do it.  I would not wait to tie up loose ends, but would give, would go, would do anything he asked. No matter what.

Chi Rho

Little did I know, that this adoption would be the vehicle for God’s asking.

Over the past few months God was brewing a new twist to this adoption story.  For mostly my sake, I didn’t talk about it much.  A few close friends and family knew what was REALLY going on, and that was mainly because I don’t think my heart was ready for everyone to ask a lot of questions. I guess I felt the need to hold my cards pretty close to my chest this time, which in hindsight was a small dose of accidental wisdom. Anyway, the twist goes like this:

Shortly after I accepted Caleb’s referral in September, my agency approached me with the possibility of also adopting the son I lost this past summer. Something had changed in his status and everyone felt like this time around, things would be different. My initial reaction was to jump at the chance. It seemed like the perfect redemption story, and also a way to erase the grief of my loss this summer, which at the time still stung like a fresh papercut.

But two kids is a much different ball game than just one, and I didn’t want to make any hasty decisions–especially if I was making them from a place of pain instead of a place of wisdom. That said, after much prayer and wise counsel I agreed to ready myself for the reality of adopting two children. I got to a place where I knew I wasn’t doing it to erase the pain, but instead because I thought that was what God was leading me to do. At that time I began the paperwork nightmare anew to make the adoption of both boys a legal reality.

It’s probably appropriate for me to insert the disclaimer that if you were friends with me during all of this, I sincerely apologize for my “un-hinged-ness” which to most of my core group came across as me being completely stressed out.  I appeared that way because I was. I was completely stressed out. I was scared that it would be too much. That I couldn’t handle it. But the more I worked towards both adoptions, the more I realized that it didn’t really matter what “I” could do. It mattered what God was calling me to do and it mattered if I was obedient to that call.  SO I mustered up all of my bravery and walked forward through those months. Praying steadily that God would keep His promise that He made to me at the beginning of this process: that if I was faithful, He would take care of me.

So I did it. I checked all the boxes, paid a few more dollars, crossed some t’s and dotted some i’s. Things were good to go.  For a while there it even looked as if both boys could come home at the same time. It was definitely a challenging time to not get my little cart before my little horse in preparations. Fortunately, I didn’t have that much time to prepare  . . . yet another example of that accidental wisdom thing I mentioned earlier.

Literally, I didn’t find out until the week before we boarded the plane to Ethiopia on January 23 that I was only going to get Caleb on this trip, which was a slight relief given that I only had time to get one crib purchased and assembled.  I was told that the other child’s paperwork had not yet been processed, but that it would be soon. “OK” I thought in both my mind and my heart, “I’ll just wait . . . seems to be what I do most of the time with this adoption thing anyways.”

So, the plan became that I would go and get Caleb and then travel again in the Springtime to go and get my other son, really an ideal situation in terms of timing, adjustments, crib building, etc. What I was really hoping to write next in this story is this: “After seemingly insurmountable odds, God restored the son I lost this summer and through even more obstacles, He is allowing him to come home on _______  XX, 2010.”

However, God had a different plan.

And instead what I have to write is that as of this past Tuesday, my second son’s adoption paperwork was terminated and he will be returned to his birth mother or placed in a foster home in Ethiopia. Even though this is the second time around, I still didn’t see it coming. My agency sent me pictures of him the day before and last week sent an update on his personality with the line, “Looks like if all goes well, you will have two happy little guys to brighten your days!” Talk about knocking the wind out of my sails. . .

Last week definitely had moments of tears for me.  This week has had a few too (including right now as I type this), and I’m sure there will be days where I have more moments of sadness. If there’s anything I’ve learned over the past year, it’s that grief is a weird, weird process. It’s also a necessary process and one in which I’ve learned to rely  more and more on God’s leaning and guidance and provision.  Especially His provision. Because you see, He kept his end of the deal too.

In the past few days, as I’ve re-hashed the flood of emotions I thought were over, I’ve realized that just because I didn’t get the redemption story I thought I wanted, it doesn’t mean that I didn’t get one at all. Like I said, God kept his end of the deal. My redemption story starts with a C and ends with an –aleb.

He’s the precious gift that’s sitting in my lap right now trying to eat a miniature globe I picked up at Target so I could teach him about the world. I secretly hope he loves maps as much as I do. I also not-so-secretly can’t wait to show him all the beautiful and mysterious and unique places all over the planet. To show him God’s creation and to teach him just how special he is.  How our perfectly masterful God orchestrated our lives to intersect at just the right time, and not a moment too soon or too late.

Today my redemption story and I went on an adventure and saw our friends who were visiting from Pielab (Hi Robin!). And this weekend we went on our first really long walk with our friends Pam, Karlee, and Bella to the bookstore just to celebrate the sunshine and the new coffee roaster they installed. Tonight we had our first “Surf and Turf Grilling Extravaganza” and it was so much fun that we might have to make t-shirts for the next go-round. Just this morning we snuggled in the bed and enjoyed each other’s company. We also laughed and played and learned a little bit more about each other. I really got the best story I think. He’s the perfect one for me.