Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Paper-Pregnancy: The Journey of my Messy Heart

Wrestling our way through the emotions of this adoption is not easy.  I know that God is doing great things in and for us during this season of waiting and that we are called to praise Him in this deep valley.  Some days my eyes are fixed on Christ and I feel the incredible joy of His beautiful promises for us.  Other days, I try but my heart is focused only on what I can humanly understand, and all of that joy is clouded by my own tears of frustration, hopelessness, and anger towards the bureaucratic hoops that we are constantly having to jump through.  It doesn't seem fair and feels never-ending.

Then again...life isn't fair.  I know that.  This is just how things are, why am I feeling sorry for myself?  I really should be more focused on our many blessings than on our trials.  

Do you see how this exhausting emotional roller coaster works?  My brain and my heart are constantly battling between my deep desire to know and glorify God through our journey and the pain that chips away at me every minute of every day that our kids are still in that orphanage and not here with us.  

Our three beautiful children have brought out an emotional side of me that never use to exist.  I don't often openly express these feelings, and in fact, I'm pretty darn good at keeping it all together in conversation.  Not even because I try to be, but somehow that's just natural for me. I will often say things like "yes, adoption is super hard, but the wait will make it that much sweeter when we do bring the kids home" or "we are soaking up our quiet time and enjoying our time just the two of us before things get crazy."  And these things that I say are true...in some hidden part of my heart I really do believe them.  

When I am alone, however, my tears could probably fill the Mississippi. I cry when people have recently asked me how the process is going, and I cry when they forget to ask or avoid the adoption subject all-together.  After two and a half years of this process...I'm weary and I'm a big ol' mess.  And don't even get me started on all the weird things we do these days to try and feel close to our kids! It seems that every child we see, we discuss how old we think they are compared to G, A, and M. "Oh!  That boy looks about A's age!"  We're always asking other parents what their 4, 6, and 10 year old kids like to do and what their favorite things are to play with and what size shoes they wear. We've bought clothes in every size just to be sure we have something that will fit them when they first come home. Our date nights now are often watching kids movies on Netflix to filter through which ones we think will be best for them to see and which ones to avoid.  

We even toured the Children's Museum the other day and afterwards we went out to eat at a little African Cafe down the street. There was another adoptive family in there, a mom and her two young boys, both with their faces painted and I asked them if they painted their face at the museum.  The little one said "yes, were you there?", to which I responded "Yes, we were just over there!  We watched a bunch of kids get their faces painted!  Pretty cool!!"  Patrick nudged me and told me how creepy I sounded as we sat there, no kids in tow, saying that we had just been watching kids at the Children's Museum!  I agreed, that didn't come out as planned!  And we laughed...see?  There are some light-hearted moments thrown in here too!   

We are full of questions ourselves about why this process has to take so long and almost always without answers to give others when they ask for updates. 

I am, "paper-pregnant", as they call it in the adoption circles.  Except this pregnancy has no estimated end date.  Every holiday that passes, both American and Ethiopian, I pray that we won't miss another one as a family. Every birthday that goes by I cry that I missed another 365 days with our child. We have submitted full financial reports, mapped out emergency escape plans for our home, been through hours upon hours of official training, given access to all of our history and background checks, signed hundreds of papers, and sent in tens of thousands of dollars and we still don't have these sweet kids in our arms.  
And then I see their photos.  Every Friday I hit refresh on my email like a mad woman waiting for our weekly updates to come through.  I am beyond grateful to see their smiles and know that they are in good health for yet another week.  But I'm also sad. So, so sad to watch them growing up through photographs and being reminded that we are missing out on so much.  

Adoption is hard, and this is only our beginning.  So to my fellow adoptive moms going through this process, may I challenge you to consider this with me: it's both natural and even understandable to lose hope and feel pessimistic at times throughout this process.  However, what is natural and understandable is not always Godly, and we are always called to keep our eyes on Jesus and to be the LIGHT of the world--sharing with others the love, joy, and hope that is of His Kingdom.  May we give Him our best, even on our weakest days, and let His strength brilliantly fill in our gaps.  

I believe in a mighty God who moves mountains for His people.  I am thankful for a loving God who welcomes our tears, our questions, our fears, our frustrations, and our anxieties.  And His blessings are TRULY ABUNDANT amidst these difficult times. Let us continue to run into His arms, I have faith that He is working even when we don't see movement. 

Lord, write your promises on my heart so that in my times of great distress I can so strongly feel your presence and glorify you through our story.  And our kids, Lord Jesus, I pray that you keep them safe and healthy and always with HOPE.  Amen

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