Friday, June 27, 2014

In Limbo: Joy in the Hard-Pressed Journey

Joy in the Hard-Pressed Journey

When initially approached to write about our adoption experience, an uneasy hesitation accompanied my, "Of course, I'd love to," reply. Being in and around the world of adoption for any length of time, one quickly learns how drastic and abrupt the red-tape landscape can shift and quake. Given our story- albeit still fresh in many respects of the heart and mind- was written nearly three years ago, my tendency is to assume much of it is now irrelevant compared to what so many of my fellow adoptive families are now enduring. For we began our formal process in the spring of 2010, back when Ethiopian adoptions were a start to finish one-trip, one-year sprint. I still recall our social worker saying in our first interview how we may want to consider increasing the number of children we were requesting to be approved for, 'because let's face it, you will be home with your child within the 13-months and may decide to turn around and do it again.' Insert shifting and quaking. 

Several months went by, and our referral did come. Instantly in heart our family of four grew to five, adding a tiny 4-month-old warrior with story in her eyes, to our flock. Fasika Louise, our beautiful, wanted daughter and sister. From that point on, the waters of our adoption, our life, would begin to stir and rock. Due to the timing of our referral and changes with the Ethiopian courts, we had to wait several months before traveling to meet our daughter and finalize her adoption. Traveling over Thanksgiving of 2011, we held in arms what hearts had been aching after for so long. At that point we truly believed the hardest was behind us, and we would be returning to bring our baby girl home by year's end. 

Thanks to my deliberate, self-preservation tactic of adoption blog and forum avoidance, unbeknownst to us a political storm was in full force. By the time our feet hit Ethiopian soil in late November, dozens of families' awaiting visas for their adopted children were being held in limbo between the US Department of State in Addis and USCIS, Nairobi. Soon enough, we too found ourselves mired in the same halted system, with walls of stone seemingly going up at every turn. Days turned into weeks, weeks into months, each and every moment weighing its fullness on our shoulders. I can still remember breathing in full once we had finally arrived home as a family, and as my lungs expanded realizing how many months of shallow, desperate breaths I had survived on. 

Back to present day and my present opportunity to share some of our experience in hopes to hold up a few weary arms engaged in their own excruciating waits and bureaucratic nightmares.  As I spent a few weeks thinking and praying over what I could possibly say to exhort the exhausted, the discouraged, the desperate souls whose eyes may find their way across these words, I went back and reread several blog entries from our time within the storm. Images and emotions etched into the walls of my very being, as true today as the day written. In His gentleness, the Holy Spirit reminded me of suffering's thread and its weaving of one to another. One morning well into the painful final weeks of fighting to bring our daughter home, I wrote the following excerpt:

Following another night of staggered rest, I sat at the kitchen island yesterday morning, waiting on brewing coffee with my head in my hands and the news that there is really no news pressing down on my chest. On his way out of the door for work, Rob, observing my posture paused placing a hand on my slumped shoulder. An act thereby rendering me unable to speak through the lump in my throat and tears stinging those tired eyes. He momentarily tried to help me find words with no success before one more shoulder squeeze and a ‘guess I’m leaving now.’ I understood his uncharacteristic haste in leaving me there collecting tears in my empty coffee mug was merely a move of survival more than insensitivity. For the frayed edges and nerves are non-exclusive, and both of us are fighting the effects of the twenty-some months we have spent on this obstacle course. It was…a low point. But a point, is just a point, and not the whole. That is, unless we allow it to be. And as low as we may have been for that point, we also walk with the experiential knowledge of how covered in peace the whole has been. I fully believe it is the constant, honest prayers of our community that allows me to say with all resolve what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, “we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” For in my life I have walked through far less with far more anxiety and fret than these past two years have presented, proving to me the essential piece a community of exhortation and intercession plays in our lives. Adoption or otherwise. To all who have and continue to pray from your desks, or while driving car pool or when a certain song reminds you of our family- we may not fully be able to express our gratitude this side of heaven but some day your eyes will meet the gigantic brown depths of Lulu’s, and you will see the fruit of your faithfulness to us. And together we will celebrate the gift of this beautifully afflicted life.

Sweet friends, while my sleepless nights of waiting on an email from the other side of the world may have lasted weeks and another mama's months, my ache knows hers. While our case clearance and homecoming was realized, and you may be spending another day paralyzed in the unknown- my Hope is your Hope. The experiential understanding from one hard-pressed soul to another remains, unshaken, resolved, with you. The beautiful thread of suffering knitting us together, uniting us with our Savior who suffered all for us, allfor our children. To be counted among you as the persecuted, the hard-pressed, is a gift. A gift you now have the opportunity to partake in as your suffering strikes a chord in another's, and the thread knits on. May we hold fast to Hope and to one another. Whatever the outcome of our individual stories, may we run from the courts of persecution as the apostles did in Acts 5:41, rejoicing because we have been considered worthy to suffer for His Great name. 


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