Tuesday, July 1, 2014

My Four Letter Word: WAIT

I was asked to guest post on this blog about waiting… and honestly I didn’t want to. First of all I have a very hard time articulating my feelings into words, especially words that make sense. Second because I am the worst person to write about waiting. To me the word “wait” is a four-letter word that must never be uttered in my presence. And lastly because well frankly I’m new to the adoption world and I feel completely unqualified to write anything regarding adoption because I’m barely surviving myself. There it is, the truth. So bear with me as I squeeze this blog out, which I have been putting off writing for a month.

I was asked to write about how God came through for us during a waiting period, regarding our adoption.  May I just suggest that it felt like our entire adoption was a waiting period and it is hard to pinpoint one exact moment where I felt God “came through” because He has been writing this story for longer then I have been alive. So I guess I’ll briefly explain our situation and how God came through and is still coming through.

A year ago in March I fell in love with a picture. So many of us can relate to that one statement. The moment when you finally hold the long awaited picture of a child you’ve dreamed about in your hands… But my picture was not what I expected, and we weren’t thinking of adopting, and the picture held a boy that was 15 and from a country I had never heard of before, Latvia. I have a dear friend who had been sharing her heart to me about an organization called New Horizons for Children. This organization brings orphaned children (mostly social orphans, which means they have at least one living parent but has lost custody of child) for 5 weeks in the summer and 4 weeks in the winter to families who have chosen that child and paid their fees to get to America. The children stay with the family, attend all family activities (including church) and then return back to their country (Ukraine, Latvia, China and Philippines) after the period of time is over. I had listened to her talk about this organization and thought she was nuts. She had two smaller children (5 and 6) and she was trying to get a 15-year-old boy to come stay at her home for the 5 weeks during summer. But I listened, promised to pray, promised to support her but told God “I’m not doing that”… famous last words… I saw a picture, of a blonde hair, hazel eyed, dimple chin boy in blue and my world shifted.

My “plan” for adoption was my husband and I would adopt a dark baby from Africa someday. However, God had other plans for my family and so the “waiting” began. We had looked into the possibility of adopting A (the boy in the picture) because I was convinced I had heard from God that he was my son, my husband had not heard that message yet however, but he agreed to look into how much it would cost and what it would take to adopt him so we could be prepared. This was my first opportunity to “wait”. “Wait” for my husband to hear the same call I had, to be touched in the same way I was by the shy grin. To be moved to a place where you couldn’t forget the face of a child who didn’t share your DNA. I would plea and beg God to show my husband what He had shown me… And I waited, and waited and waited. (And bugged, cried, pouted, yelled, pouted, cried some more to my husband to hear God’s voice just like I had…. Not the thing to do)
During my “wait” for my husband to hear what I had heard from God, I began talking to adoption agencies on if this boy was cleared for adoption and what it would take to bring him home. I was told by two agencies that work primarily with Latvia that it was impossible to adopt A. In Latvia there is an age law that states that both adopting parents have to be at least 18 years older then the child they are wanting to adopt. I am 19 years older my husband is 17. I was told time and time again it was impossible, Latvia NEVER made exceptions, and to find him another family. So I waited, for a HUGE mountain to be moved. For God to come through on His promise that I knew He made for me that first day in March when I saw the picture.

I would like to say that my “waiting” was over fast and that God answered my prayers immediately, but as we all know it doesn’t work like that. I remember sitting in church one Wednesday night and finally releasing the boy in the blue shirt to God. I remember sobbing and saying “God if this is what you want then you will have to move this age law. I can’t but you can. Until then I will trust you.” I wish I could say that I trusted God going forward and never took up worrying or angst again, but that is just not true. I’m human and worrying and angst are two of my favorite past times (hello, I’m a Mom). But at that moment I felt peace, like God was about to do something big and I had to just wait for it. And guess what? He was about to do something big, no HUGE! He was about to change the game.

I got a Facebook message two days after that Wednesday night. (I love Facebook) It was a friend who had heard from a friend that Latvia had passed a new law regarding the age law. And that should a relationship be established the law was not in effect, but it hadn’t been tested by international adoption. So the first thing I did (like any good Christian wife) I called up my husband (who was not sold yet) and told him of yet a way God was providing. (“See, I told you.)  Then I called our adoption agency (who we had not paid a dime to at this point but who are THAT fabulous and asked about this new law. They confirmed that it was true and that the lawyer they worked with in Latvia was willing to take on our case provided we understood that we could lose. I felt like God had provided the path we were to take and I was ready to jump on it, but my husband was not there yet (still, ugh) and so my wait continued.

There was the waiting until our A arrived. The anticipation, the nesting that took place getting his room ready, buying him clothes, setting up appointments for him. There was fear and uncertainty about our path and about the unavoidable good-bye at the end of hosting but I waited until that moment when I would finally see his face. July 29th or rather July 30th thanks to delay’s at 12:45 am I saw him in a distance. He was at the back of the group. He still had the blond hair, hazel eyes, dimple chin, but now he was looking at me and all I could do was say, “There he is” and run towards him. We hugged awkwardly and tried to pronounce each other’s names and figure out if he spoke Latvian or Russian. But the moment he smiled at me is a moment I will never forget, from that moment I was his and he was mine. And now the long wait was about to ensue, the wait to bring him home forever.

We began adoption paperwork (yes my husband “saw the light”, less then a week after meeting A) the day A left us to return back to Latvia. We got our home study and paperwork filed and dossier sent to Latvia in record time (less then 2 months). Then we began waiting, and waiting, and waiting for an answer. Would they say yes we could adopt him or would A become another statistic being raised in an orphanage without parents? I would love to say that I waited patiently, calmly, confident in God’s ability and trusting Him completely… The truth is I was a MESS!!!! I would hear “oceans” by Hillsong United and sob. A is all I thought about. Adopting was all I talked about. I was a certified mess… But I love how God uses the messy parts of our lives and makes them beautiful. The moment I received the email about our referral I was in Michaels and could not break down and sob, or jump up and down, and as God would have it tell anyone for 2 days. I had received my miracle, my waiting was done (so I thought) and I was “home free”………….. Oh how silly of me. My wait was just beginning once again.

We had received a referral for A but would not get travel dates until he was hosted again to make sure he truly wanted to be adopted by our family. WHAT! I couldn’t just get on a plane and go get my kid? Seriously? Ok fine, so we hosted A again and were told we would travel within two weeks of him returning. 2 weeks passed, 4 weeks passed and once again I was a mess. I just want my son. I didn’t care about the government crap, I just wanted my son. Why was this going on? And I worried and fretted and cried and begged God and lost my temper and was pissed because the path I thought God had provided was taking so much longer then I expected. But then we got the call and we headed on a jet plane into the great unknown, just me, my husband and our 5 year old.

The moment I knew the wait was worth it? The moment I walked into that courtroom and saw him sitting there. He had on his red jeans that he loved so much, an Addida's zipper jacket, and his shoes we had sent him home with. It took every ounce of control I had to not run over and grab him, but I just smiled like crazy and sat down. We brought our son home (the impossible adoption) on March 5 and I thought once again the wait was over. So when I was asked to write this I thought I really have come through the hard part and am done with waiting, yay, I survived. But once again, I was wrong. My hardest wait was about to happen and it just so happened it began while I was writing this.

According to Latvian law if the child is above the age of 14 he or she decides if he/she wants to be adopted and on the second trip to make it official in Latvia they must stand before the court and make their choice. American parents or former life. I thought we had this in the bag, bonding was going mostly good and our boy had assured us he was going to say yes, until we landed in Germany and once again my world shifted and the longest wait of my life began. My son decided in Germany that he could no longer be apart of our family (for many reasons) and he was going to say no in court. And so began my husband and I’s nightmare of waiting. We had 3 days before court and our son never wavered, he was going to say no. So we prepared as best we could, and prepared our 5 year old for the no that would change our life forever. And I waited, waited for yet another miracle, and I sobbed, and yelled at God, and prayed in a Russian Orthodox church in a small town in Latvia (without my head covered which I have learned is a no-no) and pouted and sobbed some more (see I don’t learn) and waited for court. And the day of court arrived and I had tons of people back home praying for my miracle, up at 2 am in the morning their time praying, and God moved. He heard our cries and A changed his mind and said yes in court. And once again I thought “my wait is over” and I cheered. God had once again made a miracle out of my adoption story and I felt certain He wouldn’t ask anymore from me….

But the truth is our “waiting” is never truly over. Sure we will get our child home and life will move on but we will always be waiting. Waiting for the other shoe to drop, waiting for healing to take place, waiting to be called Momma and Daddy, waiting for them to learn to speak English, waiting to figure out public school for them or homeschool, waiting, waiting, waiting… God didn’t call us to this path because it was easy. If you have walked this adoption or foster care path you know how hard it truly is and there are moments, or hours that you want to give up and not try anymore. But God brought you to your child(ren) because you could fight for them, because you were strong enough, because of out of all the women, couples, people in the world only you are perfectly qualified for that child(ren) and although the wait at times is horrendous, tiresome, painful, and long (sometimes too long) you are strong enough to endure it. You have all you need to endure this wait! You don’t have to be the “perfect Christian”, you don’t have to “do it right” during the wait, you just have to endure and try to trust that God has it all planned out.

For me, I’m now waiting to get into a routine. Waiting to figure out why some days are really good and some are really bad. Waiting to figure out how to balance a 5 year old and a demanding 16 year old. I’m waiting for my son to find peace with his decision and peace in his life. I’m waiting for healing of his heart. My wait is just begun and this will be the longest wait yet. But this time I’m not sobbing (most the time), not begging and pleading (most the time), I’m facing each day as it comes. I’m trusting God that what He has called me to I am qualified for, even when I don’t feel I am, and I’m going to wait for HIS timing with as much peace as I can muster on an everyday basis.  I never thought I would say this but I am thankful for the wait. Thankful for what I’ve learned through it, even though it’s still a four-letter word for me. J

Catrina Steinmann
Stay-at-home Mother of a biological 5 year old and adopted 16 year old
Married almost 13 years
Nixa, Missouri

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