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thirty so far

This past Fall I hit the big 3-0 mark. And while the birthday celebration was with strangers, some of whom would become friends, it was unforgettable to say the least. I was travelling for work and we had just arrived at the Sabi Sands Region of Kruger National Park in South Africa. I couldn’t have dreamed of a more idyllic location for such a milestone birthday. But this post isn’t about birthdays or fancy safari’s. This post is about risk and about seeking and following God’s will for my life even though it is risky, and hard, and beautiful all at the same time.

 

 

But first things first, a little background leading up to said birthday in paradise.  The trip was actually a near miss because as a family, we all weren’t sure what was in store for Dad as he bravely walked through his battle with cancer, and I wasn’t about to be out of town if he needed me.  Fortunately, all is still well with regard to his health and we count ourselves among the blessed. It was a crazy time for our family, as well as for me as I wrapped up my dissertation, learned more about single motherhood,  and tried to navigate the next chapter of my life. But back to October. Needless to say, the trip was incredible and as I set up for our MBAs to travel there again this Spring, I soaked up every. single. minute. in South Africa.  You see, it had been a while since I first set foot on that soil in 2001, where I began my love affair with the country and started my explorations of the African continent.

 

 

The 2001 trip is actually a big part of Caleb’s adoption story because it was there that some of the first seeds of adoption were planted in my heart. I would go through many years of growing pains before I would acknowledge the sapling growing, and by 2007 it was a full grown tree I could no longer pretend didn’t exist. And so it seems appropriate that nearly a decade later, South Africa would be the beginning of yet another story. Little did I know that when I boarded the plane on that foggy morning this Fall, I would come back and my life would be changed forever.

 

 

You see, I got this e-mail as I was sitting at the Johannesburg airport waiting to fly back to the US:

________

Katie,

I tried to reach you yesterday to let you know that XXX’s documents have been completed and he is being moved to the foster home at Acacia Village.  I need to know if you are still interested in this little guy, or if you are even ready to move ahead with another adoption at this time.

I have checked with our CWAE staff about the status of your dossier in Ethiopia.   They have informed me that it will be necessary for you to do a new dossier since it has been almost two years since your original one was completed.  Given that XXX’s documents are ready, we would need to have you CIS approved and your updates shipped to Ethiopia within 4 mos.

Please know that you are under no obligation to accept XXX – we have plenty of families waiting on the referral of a little boy.   We just wanted to let you know he is available now so that the decision could be yours.  Let me know what you think….

God bless

_________

 

And Just. Like. That.

The journey begins again.

 

If you kept up with my adoption story, you can probably put two and two together and figure out that XXX is the son I originally tried to adopt but lost in June of 2009, and again in February of 2010.  If you are new to this story, here’s hoping the third time’s a charm.  And to bring everyone up to speed on the last 8 months of my life, it’s basically been a hail storm of paperwork, meetings, fingerprintings, form filling outings, thousands of dollarings, and on and on and on. There have also been moments of pure excitement, followed by moments of pure fear, followed by many, many more moments of trying to just concentrate on the things that are in front of me. On breathing, on teaching, on working, on mothering the cutest little boy I have ever met in my life (see below for additional proof). These months have been busy to be sure.  But they have also been filled with enough quiet moments for me to sit and try and wrap my brain around the implications of this decision on my life and on my family.

 

 

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared or if I didn’t feel inadequate to take on another child. But, I also would be lying if I said that God did not call me to this process and if He, the Creator and Maker of all good things, did not birth this child in my heart in August of 2007 when I first began this journey. For me, adoption is a live manefestation of my faith. I cannot fathom my life without Caleb. I did not realize how big my heart could grow and stretch and how it is possible for me to love someone so much that I would literally move mountains to have and hold him in my life. I only recently realized in my naieve understanding of parenthood (with all 16 months of experience), that God would reveal to me how he sees me as his adopted child.  His beloved.

Ephesians 1:3-6How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.

God, in His infinite wisdom has graced me with a few key verses that have helped me brave the past 8 months as life seemed to move into a hyper-mode of uncertainty and chaos.  Here are just a few of them:

Romans 5: 3-5There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

And,

Romans 4:4-5If you’re a hard worker and do a good job, you deserve your pay; we don’t call your wages a gift. But if you see that the job is too big for you, that it’s something only God can do, and you trust him to do it—you could never do it for yourself no matter how hard and long you worked—well, that trusting-him-to-do-it is what gets you set right with God, by God. Sheer gift.

There are no guarantees that this time around that I will come home with another child. The odds are stacked quite high that our little family will not have a brother. There have been many tears and conversations with my intimate circle about what I will do if tragedy strikes again. How I will handle this loss yet another time? I don’t know. But what I do know, is that it will not kill me. I also quite intimately know how close to emptiness I will feel. And how important it will be for me to surround myself with those that love me and are willing to be around me as my ‘uglies’ spill out as they inevitably do when I face challenges. But I choose to have hope. And I hope that our story will be different this time. I hope that there will be a happy ending. A wise person in my path said that I have been quite delicately teetered between grief and hope these last 8 months. Quite honestly I do not know how much longer I can keep it up. Now days, it feels as though the uncertainty has sucked all of the life out of me and it takes all that I am to be present for Caleb. The rest of the time I am in auto-pilot, going through the motions of my life. But there is a light at the end of this tunnel. And on May 23rd, in less than 2 weeks, I will board a plane to Addis Ababa and meet HIM for the very first time and will then go to court to give my consent for HIS adoption. If all goes well, I will travel again to get him 6-12 weeks after a successful court hearing.

 

It is with tempered emotions that I tell you these things.

 

You see, I have gotten this far before and I know how un-guarantee-able this process is. But go I will. As boldly as I can muster, trusting all the while that if this adoption goes through and I can bring HIM home, it will be a miracle of the Lord’s, and of His only. So I ask you to join with me in prayer. Prayer for a miracle. Prayer that I can find peace and maintain hope through these coming months. Prayer that I can still be the best mom I can be for Caleb, no matter how this goes. Prayer that God with bestow my family with another of His children. Prayer that in the broken ashes of despair, he will bring redemption to our story and to my family.

Romans 4:13-15That famous promise God gave Abraham—that he and his children would possess the earth—was not given because of something Abraham did or would do. It was based on God’s decision to put everything together for him, which Abraham then entered when he believed. If those who get what God gives them only get it by doing everything they are told to do and filling out all the right forms properly signed, that eliminates personal trust completely and turns the promise into an ironclad contract! That’s not a holy promise; that’s a business deal. A contract drawn up by a hard-nosed lawyer and with plenty of fine print only makes sure that you will never be able to collect. But if there is no contract in the first place, simply a promise—and God’s promise at that—you can’t break it. This is why the fulfillment of God’s promise depends entirely on trusting God and his way, and then simply embracing him and what he does. God’s promise arrives as pure gift. That’s the only way everyone can be sure to get in on it, those who keep the religious traditions and those who have never heard of them. For Abraham is father of us all. He is not our racial father—that’s reading the story backward. He is our faith father.