Wednesday, March 02, 2011

With open hands (Ethiopian adoption update)

Truth be told, I've been sitting on this update for a couple of weeks now.  To be honest, it's just not fun to talk about.  It's discouraging.  Frustrating.  But you, dear readers, have been so supportive of our family and this process.  So even though I have not been in the mood to blog this, I do want to share where we're at.

At the end of January, the two precious little girls we are adopting were moved out of our agency's transition home, where they've lived for the past year and a half.  Sent back to the orphanage they first lived in upon coming to Addis, I guess.  In hopes of giving this orphanage an incentive to gather the paperwork now required for our case to go to court.  See, MONTHS ago our agency requested this paperwork.  The orphanage simply hasn't done it yet.  So now the girls are living there again, and the idea is that maybe having to feed and clothe them will prompt this place to get their act together and get the paperwork done.

I am honestly a bit heartbroken.  It makes me quite sad to think our girls, well-loved and cared for by the nannies at the transition home, were sent away to a place I'm sure they don't remember, and that I've never seen or heard of.  More upheaval, more loss, more transition, more broken attachments.  Are they confused?  Sad?  Do they even know we're coming for them?  Do they have our welcome bags?  Do they have a sweet little nametag above their cribs in the new place?  Is someone helping M. with her walking and balance?  Does T. get lots of opportunities to work on her crawling and play with her toys?  Are they "mainstreamed" with the other children, like they were before?  Are they being treated well?

It's just so hard to know that our girls are getting bounced around from place to place, and that our case has been stalled out for months on account of people who just plain refuse to help these kids join a family and receive a future.  It's unjust.  Not fair.  They're stuck in limbo. 

So we continue to pray for them to come home to us, but I feel like I'm holding this adoption with open hands...I want to be their mother, I want to bring them home, but it is SO out of our hands.  Out of our agency's hands.  The landscape of Ethiopian adoption is changing.  All the new rules, most imposed by the US Embassy, make it extra difficult to bring home the children most needing families: those who've been waiting.  Because it's hard to work backwards to get documentation from all over the country.  Sigh.

And this is where I will say that choosing a good agency is crucial.  Someone you can, overall, trust.  I feel that way about our agency, who's been in Ethiopia longer than pretty much any other and is by most accounts pretty well-respected by both the US Embassy and Ethiopian government.  I also wish to say that the new laws and rules are intended to promote ethical adoptions, and if you know me at all then you know that I am ALL for ethical adoptions...doing things the right way...but I don't understand why agencies KNOWN TO BE PRACTICING UNETHICALLY continue to be allowed to operate, while rules and restrictions are tightened up for everyone else, regardless of where your case is in the process, regardless if your child's been waiting so long for a family and very clearly was not "harvested" for profit.  Some agencies are not even licensed to be there, but work under a different agency's license.  What in the world? 

But anyway.

I often find myself walking past the pretty crib bedding I picked up for T., and when I open Mary's closet I see all the hand-me-downs I've set aside for M...and I just can't help but wonder if they'll ever see them.  I know in my head that things could pick up and they could be home in a few months.  BUT, I also know that adoption is incredibly uncertain.  That things are rapidly shifting in Ethiopia.  That our girls are caught up in the middle of a broken system and, quite frankly, a broken world.

Yet these precious little ones are survivors.  They've beat so very many odds already. 

They have Down syndrome. 

They have been orphaned in a developing country. 

They were on a waiting child list. 

They had families come forward to adopt them...

...but those families fell through. 

Then God brought us together, and we are fighting like crazy to bring them home, but at seemingly every turn there is some sort of delay that has nothing to do with us.

If nothing else, it's a painful lesson in the idea that our children...our best laid plans...our very lives are in God's hands.  The best of intentions and the best of ideas are not completely within our control.  We do our part, and we do our best, and we offer ourselves and our homes and hearts up to God to use them...but ultimately, it is He who decides how best to do that.  And of course it's also a lesson in the fact that there is injustice, pain and loss nearly everywhere we look.  Life won't be easy.  Life lived intentionally won't be easy.  Destruction and despair are lurking around most corners.  There are evil forces at work too.  We fool ourselves to believe otherwise.

And yet I look at the dozens of photographs and videos we have of our girls, our only windows into their tender hearts.  And I see the smiles on their sweet faces, and can't help but smile myself as I remember that for every one of the world's cruel injustices, there are but a million beautiful moments, countless bits of joy and hope sprinkled throughout that keep us going.  That remind us of a merciful, compassionate, loving God who is anything but silent, leaving His fingerprint and very life-giving breath on each piece of beauty, big and small, around us.  If only we'll have eyes to see. 

So I'm trying to pick myself up, dust myself off and rejoice and delight in the two Ethiopian girls staring back at me from my computer screen and from my living room wall.  Not my daughters today, no, not yet, but perhaps soon.  They have worked their way quietly, steadily, slowly into my heart.  Those eyes, those smiles, the way T. likes playing with her toes and how M. is blowing me kisses on the video.  Pure evidence of the joy, peace, love and very heart of Jesus.  Necessitating faith, on my part, enough to move mountains and get these girlies home. 

Yes there is pain in the waiting.  Brokenness in the need for adoption at all.  But the most amazing beauty from ashes too. 

He is a good God. 

He adores my girls.

And He is taking care of them when I cannot.

All I can do is offer up my heart and give this adoption to God, with open hands.

And wait.


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