Thursday, October 11, 2018 1:00 p.m. : I was hot and angry and frustrated and jealous. My head hurt from squeezing my brows together in a frown. I sat in the rocking chair pouting. Why not us?
. . .
We waited 4 years to be accepted to the Japan program. Last October, we were finally allowed to join. Veterans to the home study process, we scrambled to raise money and complete paperwork and fingerprints and doctor visits last December. Then we waited for a month and a half with no response. Shortly after it was discovered that the delay was due to a problem with our email account and the problem was corrected, our adoption agency and the Japan program were both targeted by our state department and things were brought to a crashing halt on April 1. We were devastated. We spent 6 full months praying, hoping, and waiting for it to start moving again.
God’s prodding was very clear to us when we started. We had no doubt that we were meant to pursue an adoption with that program last fall. But as we watched it rapidly unravel, it became harder and harder to hang on to the hope that we would finish this process with a baby in our arms.
If the program was allowed to continue, we were told to expect costs to reach $70,000, and to plan for two possible month-long stays in Japan. We struggled with the point of this complication. Was this a test of our faith? Should we stay the course and trust that God would provide the money and care for our family during our trips to Japan? He had been so faithful to help us raise money so far. Or were we clinging to something that was not realistic for our family?
As each week went by with no encouraging news, no timeline, no progress, I began to lose hope completely and to despair. Jason held strong, confident that God had a plan and that it included a baby for us.
With our home study finished and just waiting for an agency to attach it to, our social worker warned us that if we didn’t move forward soon, several of the things we had scrambled to finish last winter would expire, and we would essentially have to start over, which would be costly and time consuming.
I can’t explain how much anxiety this caused us. We prayed constantly for answers, for direction, for understanding. Do we abandon this? Seek another program? Do we continue and possibly go down with the ship?
Unfortunately, because of the number of children we already have in our home, we don’t qualify for several countries that we would have otherwise pursued. Also, none of the other programs match families with infants.
In September, some friends who were also affected by the discontinuation of the Japan program started talking about a Christian adoption consultant here in the United States that networks with agencies nationwide to match adoptive families with babies who need homes. We hadn’t considered domestic adoption before. Our hearts were always with international adoption specifically.
It turned out that this domestic program had an October 1 deadline for new applicants, and with the potential for our home study clearances expiring soon, we decided to send in our application at the last minute, and pray that God would guide us.
Meanwhile, our original agency announced that they hoped to have word about whether or not they would be allowed to continue sometime mid-October. It was like the climax of a suspense movie. Neck and neck. Who will win?
When we sent in our application to the domestic adoption consultant, we were told that we would hear whether or not we were approved in 1-2 weeks. Eight days later, on a Friday, I didn’t think I could stand another weekend of uncertainty, and I sent an email to check on the progress of our application. I received an immediate reply saying that I would probably hear something early the next week. I endured the weekend. Monday went by. Tuesday went by. Wednesday the office was closed.
Thursday morning was the 2 week mark. I was feeling desperate. I sat in the dark in the living room at 5:30 a.m. and prayed. I surrendered it all. Whatever you want, Lord. Be she Caucasian, Asian, Hispanic, African-American or Martian. Send her to us. And if not, You are still good; if we are not accepted into the program, then so be it. I completely let go.
By 1:00 p.m. our time, businesses on the east coast, where the adoption consultant is located, were getting ready to close. We checked our spam folders. I went over our answers in our application mentally, wondering if we had answered something incorrectly, or if there was something about our family that disqualified us. I sent another email, gently asking if we would hear anything soon, and received an automated reply saying that the office was closed for the weekend.
I messaged a friend, who had applied after we had, to ask if she was still waiting for a response, too. She answered a few minutes later that she and one other friend had already received their approval emails earlier that day.
It was like the bottom of the boat gave way, and the water was rushing in. Once again. It’s not for us. It’s for them, but it’s not for us.
All of the familiar thoughts of despair pummeled me. You’re too old. You don’t deserve this. You’re not good enough. And I was so defeated that I accepted them all.
I got in the van to drive the kids to sports practices. I didn’t even have the energy to hope anymore. I allowed my black thoughts to escape, and I announced to the kids that we might just give up on this adoption. Give the money back to everyone who had donated, and move on. I didn’t have it in me to pursue any more programs. I was exhausted.
The kids protested piteously. Then fell silent. We drove the rest of the way in a heavy gloom. I started thinking about what to do next. Who will I be if I give up on this? How will I tell this story? What does it mean about me?
We pulled into the parking lot and the van doors slid open as my boys got out. It was loud. Boys yelling and talking and tromping through the gravel in their cleats, swinging water bottles and kicking soccer balls against the chain link fence. I burned with rejection and hurt.
I suddenly remembered my prayer from that morning.
Whatever you want, Lord.
And if not, You are still good.
I meant that when I prayed it. So why did it twist and pull so painfully?
Another mom parked next to us. Her daughter was carrying an adorable baby goat. She brought it to the passenger side window to show us.
My phone buzzed in my lap. Without thinking I picked it up and then noticed that it was an email from the adoption consultant.
The first words were, “I’m so sorry…” Furiously I scanned the rest of the message, squeezing back tears. Halfway down the page, in all capital letters, I saw the word “APPROVED.”
I had thought that moment would be followed by squeals of joy and maniacal smiling. But it was just tears.
My daughter’s window was rolled down. She was petting the baby goat through the window. The boys were starting their soccer practice on the other side of the fence. Parents were pulling out of the parking lot. The sun was level with my windshield forbidding us to look straight ahead. And I was staring at my phone crying. Reading a heartfelt apology for the mistaken delay, and the words that said we were approved. And that they can’t wait to help us bring our precious baby home.
I couldn’t inhale. I couldn’t say anything. I just wanted to hold on to that thing that just happened. I stared at the word “approved.” It really said that. I passed the phone to my daughter and waited for her to experience that same redemption.
I felt an adrenaline laced relief mixed with the incredible grief over letting go of the Japan program. Like finally climbing into bed after a long, difficult day. Spent.
It felt like mercy.