Sunday, April 15, 2007

Let Them Know, Lord

I closed my last post with the comment about "my daughter, who doesn't know she is my daughter, or does she? Maybe God put me on her heart too? Who knows." And then I promptly picked up an old copy of Citizen magazine from Focus On Then Family, which we used to get but it never got read so we dropped our subscription.

To be honest I wanted a little bathroom reading material, so I flipped through the issue and settled on an article about a US Army officer from Wisconsin who was stationed in Iraq. To help deal with the reality of the daily carnage he and his men saw there, he and a group from his unit started spending time in an orphanage. The short version is that he fell in love with a little boy who had cerebral palsy, and he knew that the little boy wouldn't survive childhood if he stayed in Iraq, so he adopted the boy and brought him home.

Now I can't find the magazine to make sure I get all my facts straight, so bear with me. Life in a larger family means not being able to find things some times, so here we are. I think that the little boy told his new Grandma after he had been home a little while and had picked up some English, that he knew that her son was his dad from their first meeting. God had revealed it to him, and he knew that he was his son.

Now I know God speaks to us, and much of our family's story is based around this fact. I guess I just haven't ever really spent much time thinking about it from the other perspective of our children knowing who we are before we know about them. It is of course just as likely or even more so since children don't have all of the interference to hear that we have. And He does have a particular fondness for them, doesn't He.

So God, here is my prayer. Tell our kids who we are. Give them dreams, and visions, and insights into who we are, and give us the same insight. Give them (and us) eyes to see and ears to hear, so that our first meetings with them are like long awaited reunions. Not times of butterflies and nervousness, of wondering and questioning if we are right for them or they are right for us. Lord, let them KNOW without a doubt, and give them peace because they know.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Who's Next?

We got home Thursday night, and on Saturday we had a meeting with our social worker for Marta's 2nd post-placement visit, so Meklit got #1 out of the way too. And, we were able to get a new home study visit out of the way too! Very efficient - home 2 days and having a new home study being worked on - I like it.

Meklit was settling in very well, so the visit went great. She said she would talk to AAI to see what they said about starting another adoption now or later.

On Sunday I wrote a VERY long email to Merrily to spell out just how I thought we needed to have the 6 month wait rule between adoptions waived - surely she has never heard these arguments before;)

On Monday we heard back from AAI saying the we would have to wait the 6 months, and then could start the process again. I wasn't disappointed though, because this wasn't from Merrily, just AAI staff quoting the rules. Also I know that if they are our kids, then God has this all taken care of, so no worries.

Then on Wednesday I heard back from Merrily, and just as I had prayed, she said that we could skip the wait, and begin when we were ready. She must have forgotten that I had told her in Addis on the way to the airport that we were ready, so off we go again.

And now I am SO tempted to tell all about who our kids are, but feel like I should wait. What I can say is that Denise was right, and the older girl and her little brother she asked me about are the ones who stole my heart and we are paperchasing to bring home.

Since coming home I have sent about 15 letters, pictures and scotch tape (to hang things on their shelves), and Marta sent 18 letters too, with a couple people who were headed over to get their kids. I have written letters to many of the kids, and sent them all pictures of themselves with their friends - they all love their pictures. And to my delight, I have gotten 4 letters back from the kids at Layla. And while all of them make my day, the one I have read over, and over and over is of course from my daughter, who doesn't know she is my daughter, or does she? Maybe God put me on her heart too? Who knows.

Maybe I can ask her soon...

Monday, April 02, 2007

Goodbye, or Warning, Layla House Is A Dangerous Place

Oh boy.

When I went to Addis this time, I had an ulterior motive, an agenda beyond bringing home Meklit. As I was preparing to leave I had 2 questions posed to me. The first, from Julie Hehn, was "who is next?"

We had some interest in some of the older girls who are still there, and I went with the intent of getting to know them a little bit better, and to see if God would speak to me about whether or not any of these kids were ours. We know that God knows who our kids are, and always has. It is just a matter of listening to Him to find out who they are, then simply bringing them home. No pros and cons, no sweating finances or space in the house for more kids, just hear and do.

So...while Meklit and I were there we spent nearly all of our time, from before breakfast, through lunch and past dinner with the kids at Layla – mostly with the older girls, Marta's friends, to see if one of them was actually a sister.

As I have said countless times before, these kids are nothing short of amazing to me. They have lived difficult lives that we can't even get our heads around, and to come out on the other side with these sweet, loving, nurturing spirits blows my mind. It speaks to me of the mysterious grace of God's love.

The other question before I left came from Denise Baker, wondering if I had met a certain girl and her brother on my last visit. She thought that they would be a good fit for our family, but I couldn't remember meeting the kids, just vague pictures of the girl. So, they went on my list of kids to get to know better.

As I said before, we spent nearly all of our 3 days with the older girls. We had a great time with them, and with a couple of hours left before I knew we had to get back to the guest house to get packed, I was really starting to get choked up. When it came time for us to say good-bye, I started to say to the girls that we had to go now, and... I lost it. Total meltdown - a sobbing, snotting mess of tears. To make it worse, about 1/2 second into my meltdown they all lost it too, and we were all a mess. It just broke my heart to have to leave them behind, and to not take them all with me. They are all so wonderful, and they would be such great kids to have in our family.

Finally we all got it together so Meklit and I could leave. We went out towards the gate and found Ted with a bunch of kids and of course the skateboard. He asked me how I was doing and I lost it again. After a few minutes I explained to him that it broke my heart to leave the kids, and while I could hope and pray for them to get families, there were 2 kids that I couldn't hope or pray that for. I went asking for God to reveal our kids to me, and Lisa and Marta were at home praying for Him to open my heart to our next kids. Well, He does answer prayers, and I was heartbroken to have to leave 2 of our kids behind. It felt to me that I was leaving them there for someone else to adopt, and I just couldn't handle that thought.

Meklit and I got in one last round of hugs and kisses at the gate, promised to keep in touch, and went to the guest house so I could pack really quickly before Nate picked us up to go to the airport. I was a mess again at the guest house, and went through a bunch of tissue while packing. When I was done I figured we had a ½ hour to spare, so we called Nate to pick us up at Layla, and went back for that last few minutes of visiting.

I love being there in the mornings when things are just coming to life, and in the evening when the day is winding down. We joined the kids for their evening prayer time, which is led by the older kids. I love to see the older ones going to gather their younger siblings for prayer, and I got to sit there with Ashenafi on my lap.

Then it was really time to go, and it went much better this time around. Not surprising to me due to the providence of God, Merrily rode to the airport with us. She and I both live in Washington State, and the only 2 times I have ever seen or spoken to her have been in Addis. I asked her how long we would have to wait until we started the process again, and she told me there is a 6 month wait to begin the process again, and of course asked why. I told her I was leaving 2 of my kids behind, and that we needed to bring them home as quickly as possible. She said after she got back she would check into their status, and we would talk.

Needless to say, I now had something to occupy my time for the next 36 hours of travel, and I read Psalms and prayed most of the way home.

God has used times like this with me 4 times, all related to our children, when He reduced me to a messy puddle and in the process transformed my heart. The first time was when Jeff was born, then during the process of adopting Joy, again during the process with Marta, and now at Layla - each time using my broken state to radically change my heart. Really it is more of a new alignment of my heart, a tuning if you will. On the plane home these scriptures gave me peace.

Isaiah 25
9 In that day they will say,
"Surely this is our God;
we trusted in him, and he saved us.
This is the LORD, we trusted in him;
let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation."

Psalms 5
7 But I, by your great mercy,
will come into your house;
in reverence will I bow down
toward your holy temple.

It isn’t something I even pretend to fully understand, and I know it isn’t just about kids. What I do know is that it is about right alignment to the throne of God, and faith in the mystery of His sovereign ways.

Our flight home was uneventful, other than a minor glitch of Meklit being ticketed for Seattle and me for Portland, but a few $$$ and a little time in DC took care of that. She did incredible, ate (and still does) everything put before her, and slept a ton. The staff on Ethiopian Airlines helps you so much with things like the bathroom, and asking what they would like to drink, etc. With a language barrier and being shy, their help was much appreciated.

After our layover in DC, we flew to San Francisco, and then on to Portland. By leaving at ~11 pm from Addis after a long day, the trip is really long considering it is another 36 hours to get home.

I did fine until I saw Lisa, and then I felt the emotions surge through me again. Everyone was so excited to meet Meklit, and Marta was a welcome sight to her I am sure. Josiah held her hand as we walked down to find our luggage. I couldn’t even talk, and when we got down the baggage claim area Lisa asked me what had happened, and in an instant I lost it. What an amazing wife God has blessed me with. I told her through sobs that I had to leave 2 of our kids behind, and her only response was that we had better get to work on the paperwork to bring them home. She didn’t even know their names.