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 general...it 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
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...