Okay, warning that this is a bit long. Enjoy!
It all started since before I can remember; it being, of course, the desire to adopt. Before Dusty and I were married, the love and passion held for adoption had started … in both of us.
Once we were married and settled, the thoughts of growing our family began to take root. Dust wanted to try naturally first and to adopt next but I was adamant about wanting to adopt first. The reason being that I wanted our adopted children to know that they were chosen; it wasn’t an option because we couldn’t have kids naturally. I really didn’t want adoption to be a second choice for the growing of our family or maybe just that I wanted to show that adoption really doesn’t have to be seen as a backup, basically that you don't just have to adopt because you can’t have your children naturally. (That being said, of course I completely understand why parents do adopt in those situations, but this is our story of how we came to adopt and the reasons leading to it. One of the reasons why I actually love adoptions so much is because I feel such pain for parents who want so badly to have kids and can’t naturally… and then realize that all of that love is just as prevalent when they choose to adopt!)
We entered our third year of marriage and I had baby on the brain for about 6 months when we were presented with a business opportunity that would allow me to stay-at-home (or at least work part-time) with kids. As that had always been a holdup for us starting our family in the past, we started talking seriously about expanding our duo. One day Dust said to me, “Why don’t we just try for both (adoption and natural) and hope for 'twins'?!” That sounded like the best idea as I have always wanted twins.
So we started the process for both in the summer of 2008. We got pregnant the month after we sent our first application in to our agency! It was a blessing beyond belief that I did not have a terribly difficult first trimester as I had about a bajillion paper chases to tackle with the adoption.
The process of adoption is a strange one that a person cannot understand unless they have actually been through it. It is much the same as how the hormones affect a pregnant woman. You have your ups and downs, your in-betweens, your days where you feel like weeping, and your days you feel ecstatic. On the days I was low, I was encouraged by a positive pregnancy note. On the days I was feeling low with the pregnancy, I was encouraged with progress of the adoption. It has been a great way to pass the time and also a stress reliever to have each to look forward to. In fact, I find that adoptive parents react much the same as pregnant woman to questions and situations. One of the most common pregnancy complaints it seems I hear is “I hate it when people touch my belly, especially strangers.” Of course it’s all relative to your attitude that day (and lack of hormonal spikes) that get you through the awkward situations. With adoption, there are quite a few ignorant people out there, and to no fault of their own (obviously throwing the benefit of the doubt out there), they ask some pretty inane questions that can either be taken as extremely rude or with the potential to educate people on adoption. The responses and fluctuations in emotions that the adoptive parents retaliate with are much the same as the pregnancy-induced, shall we say, passion.
I read on a fellow adoptive parent’s blog this quote:
“Adoption is totally different than pregnancy because you feel for this baby who is already here, that you cannot hold or comfort. The strain when your child is already there somewhere, is so different. It's a mom thing that is anxiety and trust in a way like you've never experienced. I am so thankful for that time of waiting because I feel like I understood far earlier that God is 'loaning' my kids to me from him and that he is in control, not me.”I love the fact that we are not bearers and creators of our children, but rather are the people chosen by our Heavenly Father to watch over, to guide, protect, and raise our children in a way that is holy and pleasing to Him! I absolutely love that, especially because, for us, going through both types of situations really does grant us the awareness that both our children are “loaned” to us. We were assigned by God to raise them, whether or not they came directly from our genes.
We found out in February that we were having a girl and couldn’t believe that we would be having a boy and a girl! In March, we were given our referral (this is the point at which we are matched with our child: our very first picture of him, medical history, and any information that the agency has will be sent to you to decide if you “accept” your referral) of our little IZ. He was born in January in Ethiopia and brought into care at our agency’s orphanage when he was about a week old. We took all of about a minute to respond and “accept” our referral!
March 19 was one of the most exciting days I have ever experienced, as well as quite an emotional one. We were informed at our last doctor visit that our prior ultrasound revealed that our Baby Girl’s umbilical cord was not attached properly to the placenta and that we needed to go back in for another ultrasound to see how she was doing. That ultrasound was on March 19, and we found out that she weighed more than average and that it did not look as though the cord would present any problems. What a relief! We went and celebrated with a Costco mocha then headed home, I was exhausted after working myself up emotionally over the potential issue with Baby Girl. I sat down at the computer to look at any emails that had come in. I saw that we had received an email from someone from our agency, and I got extremely excited and called Dusty over. Okay, I yelled at him to get over here because of the “E-MAIL FROM OUR AGENCY!!!!” Keep in mind, we had been expecting our referral any day, and I had been checking my phone methodically every 5 minutes, or every minute just waiting for that call. So we opened the email together and read about our little boy. We received two pictures of him, one at a week old and one at one month old. And that’s when the tears started flowing! I could not believe I was staring into the precious face of my little child. The feelings that flow through you at such a time are indescribable. I haven’t experienced birthing a child yet, so I don’t know the emotions that are associated with that, but wow, I just was in shock. Dust kept smiling at me because I could NOT stop crying! Even now, as I’m writing this, the tears are just flowing thinking back to that special day when I saw my son for the first time! What a blessing to see pictures of both of your children on the same day, even when you can’t hold either of them.
After I somewhat had gotten a hold of my emotions, somewhat being a very vague description of sniffling, snuffling, sobbing (still), and wiping tears away, Dust proceeded to tell me that our agency had first called him to let him know about our referral that morning. He didn’t want me to know about the phone call because he wanted me to see his picture first and not anticipate the email. I’m not one for surprises, but that was the best surprise ever!
Going through these last couple of months has been trying in that I know who my child is, where he’s at, and that he’s not with me. We were told by a traveling family that he cries when he’s hungry… which makes me cry because I can’t be the one to feed him. I will have missed out on 6 months of his life (Lord-willing that is all, as you really never know timeframes with international adoptions).
Dust and I had started the discussion of names: ones we liked, potentials, ones we didn’t like, etc. Now, as easy of a task as this is for some people, we were really not agreeing on anything—but we had time to figure it out! We knew for sure we would be naming one boy, so I was rattling off names I liked and said the name “Isaiah”. Dust perked up and said, “I really like that name.” I tentatively said, “Is that it? Is that the name of our son?????” And we just smiled and knew. And of course, more tears (it comes to be expected with me in any situation). Isaiah means “Salvation of God” or “Yahweh is salvation” and how true that is! We had actually named a child of God, the child that God was going to loan to us!
The point we are currently at in our adoption is rightly deemed the worst waiting of your life. It is the time when you know who your child is and you just have to wait for the process to happen until you can go and pick your child up and hold him forever! We are in the middle of this stage. We have our Ethiopian court date on June 8 and if we pass, then travel is approximately 6 weeks later to go pick up our son and take him to the visa appointment. June 8 will be a VERY nervewracking day around our house because it is the day that when we pass... Isaiah will officially be our son! And that means I can finally post pictures of him! The Ethiopian government is very nervous about child trafficking and any internet pictures of waiting children and they have actually taken referrals away from families who have posted pictures prematurely (how sad!!).
Governments in foreign countries work differently than in the United States (obviously) and on a schedule that is all their own. The courts in Ethiopia actually shut down during their rainy season (which ends up being about a 6 week period of closures starting around August). There are many reasons why a family may not pass court on their first try, and we ask for prayer that we’ll make it through on the 8th: one of the reasons being as simple as lack of electricity so no cases are even heard; another that a government issued letter (that has to be in the file to pass) has not been submitted timely; or even that a Judge decides just to not show up that day. There are many things that could go wrong, and they’re all out of our hands. Just as in pregnancy I cannot imagine how one could not believe in an Almighty God who created us so intricately, I also cannot imagine the lack of belief in God when you need the trust and peace knowing you are going through an adoption with God guiding you through!
Once we pass court, Isaiah is officially our child! And then we just get to go pick him up… well, I will need to stay home with Baby Girl while Dust picks him up and takes him home!
We are currently (over-anxiously) awaiting the arrival of both of our children. We have been told we’re crazy for inviting the chaos to come, but know that it was all part of God’s plan for our lives and that we’ll be able to handle it all (maybe not graciously at times, but we’ll handle it nonetheless). We have been blessed beyond belief in our adoption and pregnancy and are so grateful that God is choosing to grant us virtual twins to raise (they will end up being about 6 months apart)!
The Lord has led us both in separate ways to adoption and I am so glad He did, I feel we were let in on a secret understanding of just a little bit how God feels about us as His adopted children!
After we have both of our kids home I have my work cut out for me… not only in the raising of our new children, but also in convincing Dust that 3 natural and 3 adopted children may be just a bit too much to think about! :) At least for now… we’ll have to wait and see how big our family will get, you can’t ever put a limit on God, especially if He calls you to it!