Thursday, October 28, 2010

It's kind of like "The Gambler"

Does anybody out there remember that old song by Kenny Rogers?  You don't have to be brave like me and admit it if you do.  But the whole "you gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em" business is so relevant to a myriad of life circumstances.  (Has anybody seen the cheesy MOVIES based on that song?  I actually kinda liked them.  Weird, because I normally HATE westerns.  Oh well.)

Anyway, we are scrambling right now--scrambling, I tell you--to get an application packet in the mail for an adoption grant.  We've worked hard pulling all the pieces together but at every.single.turn, something goes wrong.  And we're up against a deadline.  Which is Monday.  If you don't believe me that everything has gone majorly wrong, check this out:

--We needed a letter of recommendation from our senior pastor.  Our church currently has no senior pastor.

--I needed to copy and print various things out on our printer.  The printer ran out of ink before I could finish it.

--I went to hook up a DIFFERENT copier/printer (that someone just gave to us).  The printer has no power cord to go with it.

--Finally I hooked up our trusty old printer.  It is also now suddenly and randomly out of ink.

And now for the real kicker:

--We need a letter from our placing adoption agency verifying some things.  The woman who writes these grant letters was out of town, but said she mailed it Monday.  IT.HAS.STILL.NOT.ARR.IVED.

I am seriously on the brink of a heart attack.  Anything that could go wrong with this thing pretty much has.  At this point I am seriously wondering if I will be making a road trip out to Franklin, TN this weekend.  Will we get bonus points if our application packet is hand-delivered?  With five small children in tow?

As I look back on this whole entire adoption process in has been one big setback after another.  And I'm not complaining (promise!), just observing. 

--We set out to adopt two specific children...but that didn't happen because of some really horrible circumstances.

--We made the decision to adopt two DIFFERENT children...and had to fight tooth and nail over some weird stuff with our homestudy agency.  Who all of a sudden thought we shouldn't be adopting because we have five children and we homeschool.  AT THE END OF THE HOMESTUDY FOR WHICH WE'D already BEEN APPROVED.

--We submitted our I 600A form...and it was rejected (and mailed back to us) by the US government because one of our agencies (not even sure at this point if it was our homestudy or placing agency) gave us OUTDATED FORMS.

And now there's this issue with the grant.  Which we are attempting to pull together as I battle the remains of a short-but-not-fun stomach virus that I no doubt picked up at the the thrift store Saturday night.  I got more than I bargained for with that coupon, that's for sure!

Like I said I'm not complaining per se.  I'm in a great mood, I know God is in control, and if we miss out on a grant, well, this will be funded one way or another.  But I think sometimes it is hard to know what type of signal God is trying to send.

Should we just plain not be doing this?  Or is something else going on?

I really do believe that there is evil in our world.  I believe that Satan is real and wants to discourage and destroy.  I know full well that the two little girls we long to bring home are prime targets for whatever you want to call it--spiritual warfare or attack or whatever.  (I hardly ever talk about this type of stuff because I don't like to dwell on such things, and I'm really not charasmatic charismatic--I go to a liturgical, reformed church after all.  Heck, I don't even know how to spell the word.  AND God is so much bigger.  But sometimes you just gotta say it like it is.) 

The thing is that these girls are vulnerable.  Because they are orphans without parents.  And because they have that sweet extra chromosome.  Most of our own country doesn't believe children like them have the right to be born, much less to live.  And while they weren't born here, they do live in a country with limited resources and where many mothers and fathers are unable to care for their own child.  So maybe it's foolish for us to assume that we can participate in God's redemptive in-the-trenches work without setbacks.  Maybe we should expect the stars to align in such a way that we are left feeling discouraged and asking questions like,

Are we up for this task?
Did we misunderstand God's voice?
How will we manage?

It's really a lot like Kenny's song.  Do we persevere, fighting for our children, justice, and goodness, or do we essentially close up shop and step away?  I'm sure that sometimes "folding" is the right thing to do.  Go back to square one.  Acknowledge that it wasn't God's plan afterall.  Us not adopting the first set of children is an example of this I suppose.

But I am fairly certain that in this instance, as we work to bring home these two precious little girls, all the setbacks and frustrations and discouragements are mere reinforcements that we are, indeed, doing the right thing. 

And that it's ticking somebody off.

Oh how I want to start taking heart in this.  Not being so surprised when our efforts are occasionally thwarted.  I want to, instead, draw strength from knowing that when I align my heart with the Lord's, doubts and roadblocks and the like may start creeping in.  To the point where it all seems too much to JUST be a coincidence.  (Kidney stones, anyone?  Seriously?  So random.  If you've ever had them, then you know that they really are from the pit of Hell.)

Basically I'm here to tell you (if you didn't know already) that adoption is a battleground.  God loves redemption.  He loves hope and He loves healing.  Because, well, He IS love.  And God wants children raised in families.  But the devil hates what God loves.  You do the math.

All of this to say that we will keep on keepin' on.  No folding for us. 

And with that, I'm off to go listen to something that will get Kenny Rogers' song out of my head while I map my route to Tennessee...


darci said...

Oh wow, I just want to say I am praying praying are so right, and we have been in your position (not, obviously the same situation..) wondering 'Lord, what are you saying? Is this from You? do we persevere?" I think you are so right that satan is at war..maybe especially against adoption. Because adoption IS Christianity..we can't be His without adoption. Praying for you today and this weekend. darci

Rachel said...

I a m praying that letter arrives today! After all, 4 days is plenty of time for mail to get anywhere in the US.

And yes, spiritual warfare is alive and well. And Satan uses kidney stones! Again, my friend, Tammi, had a three year battle with the buggars. It just so happens that she also was involved in international ministry with Romania at that time. They were always the worst when she was planning the trips there, traveling there, doing interviews for a team to join her... She seems to be over this ailment, coincidentally the Romanian outreach program was also closed around the same time. It's no coincidence.

Praying for you guys and for the flu to stop with you@

Anonymous said...

Oh, you're so right that adoption is a battleground. When we were in the process of adopting our 2nd daughter, who is HIV+, soooooooo many things kept getting in the way and going wrong and getting delayed, etc, etc, etc, literally right up to the point we were in her home country and sitting in the judge's chambers, waiting to get that signature. I can't even go into all the details now of what came against us, because there are too many things to list!

It was sooooo bizarre and incredibly frustrating.

But God was with us every step of the way and we just had to trust that, despite the circumstances seeming to be otherwise!

Battleground, FOR SURE!!!!


joy said...

Good questions, Brianna. I was thinking the same thing the other day, about a smaller issue. Wondering if a set of circumstances was a "closed door" or if it was merely a roadblock that we are supposed to circumvent somehow? It's confusing because there are countless times people talk about how God miraculously just opened doors and that is valid. And, then you think of situations like yours where it seems God will be more glorified by persevering in spite of the setbacks. does this make sense? Anyway, don't forget Kenny on the way to TN! Love that song--should I admit that publicly? Praying for you guys! Hugs from Cali.

Heather Hernandez said...

Yup - Enrique and I dream one day of singing The Gambler at karaoke cuz it's literally the dumbest song ever LOL But so very fun :)

On a serious note, you guys can get through this. Sounds like a bunch of ineffective systems are cutting their teeth on you. Sounds like patience is the virtue being offered/taught here. I hate those kinds of setbacks sooo much. But I think in America, it's hard to fathom sometimes how badly things can go because so often things go so well. If that guy in Africa could teach himself to build a functioning windmill to bring electricity to his village based off of one super outdated engineering textbook he salvaged from a crappy library (which with the Internet and our technology he coud have built in days instead of months), God can get through these boundaries in the United States where we have so much going for us.
Sometimes, though, even here, there are ridiculous inefficiencies -- especially when anything governmental or bureaucratic is involved. The lethargy that crawls into people's brains and bodies who work in those sectors is depressing! :) But it will come through if it's meant to be, which you know. It is frustrating, though :/

Charla Liedahl said...

I'll be praying for CLARITY for your family as this process continues. God IS INDEED in control and, for some reason, He is allowing these stones in the road to trip you up. Persevere, friend.

Emily B. said...

UG. I'm hoping everything works out (and that your plan is God's plan). Would you be able to FAX or email the application. At least then you have a few more days to get everything organized (I assume it just has to be there by Monday).

Good luck!

Kristen said...

I truly don't mean this to have a negative tone - but how do you know God ~isn't~ trying to close a door on this adoption? I am asking so that I can understand better...If He truly didn't want this to come to fruition, how else would you know? What signs would there be besides all the things that have already happened?

Brianna Heldt said...

Kristen, I don't quite understand how your comment can NOT strike a negative tone. It just does. Because we've signed placement agreements already and all we have left to do is travel, we think of these children as our daughters. So, yes, it did seem a bit negative.

Just to clarify, our ADOPTION isn't actually at stake. It's a grant we're applying for. The adoption itself is going quite smoothly, save for the government form, but that has been rectified (and SHOULDN'T hold us back, because it's only necessary for the visa. It was just an annoyance.)

I guess I believe that if God DIDN'T want this to come to fruition, He would show us or tell us in a way we'd understand. He is somehow sovereign. And makes all things good. He also gives us freedom.

How can we know ANYthing for certain? Ever? If we all gave up at the slightest mishap, VERY few of us would complete the process. Probably none of us actually! Doubtful I can think of ONE adoption where NOTHING was stalled, or where not one little setback cropped up. Not one. Beaurocrats in two different countries are involved--enough said.

I could tell you many stories of how God has confirmed things for us. But this post was about a particular grant and some frustrations during the process. I will tell you that not once did we feel God telling us to back out completely. And it's a good thing, because this is the path He has used to lead us to our two sweet girls.

So, I have no litmus test for when God's closing a door and when He's not. I think you can use wisdom as well as what the Holy Spirit is telling you. Not much of an answer, but it is what it is.

one thankfulmom said...

Russ and I seem to be getting better at recognizing spiritual attacks and calling them what they are. Our enemy really does desire to destroy our children from "hard places". He does not want them whole, loved, and truly joined to families. We have to fight this battle for them knowing that Jesus has already ultimately fought and won the entire war. For us, the greatest tool of Satan is fear, primarily fear of the future. We fight against this regularly. I'm so glad to have fellow Believers along on this journey with us. We need to support and encourage one another! I pray and hope that you receive a big, fat grant!


Rachel said...

So... did the letter come that you were waiting for?

Brianna Heldt said...

Lisa that is so, so true. The support and encouragement is so vital. YES, fear of the future is my biggest struggle for sure. Thank you so much for your comment.

Rachel, YES, it came today--at about 5 pm. THANKFULLY Kevin made a phone call and they have graciously agreed to wait for our stuff and not disqualify our application.

Kristen Borland said...

I can so relate--the wondering if the circumstances are God's way of giving us an answer. BUT, you are so right. Sometimes they are just circumstances! And there's definitely a battle going on. Just keep seeking God in all of this.

Keep on keeping on!

(I feel like we--the blogging world--should have a Heldt cheer-leading squad, cheering you guys on! Totally appropriately dressed, of course.)


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