Saturday, April 19, 2014

Inching Closer?

I apologize for not being very prompt with these latest updates. The last few weeks have been anything but normal. Craig and I decided that it was not healthy for me to take only two days of vacation in one year. So several weeks ago, we purchased tickets so I could join him on his work trip to Las Vegas. I spent five days with three other wives soaking up the sun, getting exercise in the pool and walking to see the sites. The rest and time together with Craig was just what I needed to mend my spirit. It also provided us many opportunities to reflect on this emotional journey we have been on.

Just before leaving on our trip, we received a brief update that our new court minutes had been issued for both of the boys. This is the first step in repairing the remaining errors. The orphanage director was able to get the twins' birth father to return to court with him which is a huge blessing. We have requested copies of these documents so we can review the new dates, but we still have not received them yet. (We hate to be cynical, but after being submitted twice to USCIS with so many errors remaining, it is impossible NOT to be cynical at times and protect against ongoing errors.)

The last full day that we spent in Las Vegas, we received a message from Sarah, our international adoption counselor informing us that her last day would be April 11th!!! That was a big bummer, but somehow getting that message as I basked by the pool refreshing my spirit made it a little easier to take. Sarah has been wonderful. I really think that she has been pivotal in getting our case moving forward these last few months. I connected well with her over the phone and had complete confidence that her heart was in the right place. She even called us several times after hours so we would not go without updates. She will be missed greatly.

After returning home from our trip, we didn't know how quickly we would get an update from the new counselor...our fifth one in three and a half years. We received an email on Monday introducing Tihana to us. On Tuesday I decided to give her a call to introduce myself.She was familiar with our case but communication with Maison was minimal this week. By early Friday (today), we still had not heard an update. I decided that meant it was time to call again. This morning, Tihana still had not heard anything from Pierre on our case.

Craig confided to me earlier this week that he is beginning to feel restless about the adoption. I told him that it was about time! I have been feeling that way for a long time now. I shared with him that I had begun to wonder if I was just an insane worrier, if he was amazingly strong, or what...and he said, "Maybe I am just an idiot and should be more concerned." I don't know what the right answer is, but it is nice to be on the same page. This morning on the phone with Tihana, I shared that we are struggling with this wait. Eight months is much too long to be waiting for submission. The transition time from passports to the Visa process should have only taken the time to physically transport our dossier from one office to another. However, because of the all the errors and delays, we are over eight months. It is truly unbelievable. She seemed to understand and said that she would keep trying to get updates.

Well, late this afternoon we did receive an update. Tihana says that Pierre was unable to submit the dossier this week,  but he says, "This dossier is almost done. The Lawyer is working on getting signatures for the judgments and decrees. I think it will be finished in two weeks."

Craig and I were together shortly after receiving this update and our response was almost identical. We both sighed and thought, I hope this is true. We had a long talk about how this process is affecting our ability to trust and increasing the time it takes to become excited about any step of the process. I hate to be a cynic about anything...but I find myself thinking, "well, I hope so." I am guarded to share the good news because we have not seen any hard copies of the corrections. We have gotten our hopes up so many times before and the last fall was very painful. So forgive us if we guard our hearts for now.

Craig says that he will get excited when we get on the plane with the boys and the jet leaves the runway. I am quite sure that I will be ecstatic long before that. Big surprise. I think that the moment for me to begin to hope and dream will be when we have USCIS inform us that all of the errors are fixed and they have approved our dossier and can proceed with the Visas! Oh, how I long for that moment. I can't wait to tell the first person that asks me if we have heard anything new that we actually have a REAL timeline!!!!!

Craig and I were visiting with some close friends of ours, and we were discussing patience in our adoption process. I commented something about how difficult this has been and what a struggle it is emotionally at times. The husband said that he thinks that we have moved from the process requiring patience to it being a journey of long-suffering. It was almost like the wind was knocked out of me. Long-suffering. I have never thought of it like that, but that is the most perfect way to express what this is like. Long-suffering.

It is amazing how at certain times in our lives the Lord uses so many different methods to communicate His love to us. He certainly speaks to us at times through our friends and family, but He has also been speaking to me this week through a bible study that I have been working through. A group of women from my church are studying a book on parenting called Give Them Grace...Dazzling Your Kids With the Love of Jesus. There have been some wonderful nuggets of truth in this book but this last section I have read has really shed some light on our adoption journey. I am going to share some of these little insights:

"Would our chosen path [in life] ever lead us to the valley of the shadow of death with our children? If we spend our whole life trying to avoid that valley, how will we ever experience His comfort while He sustains us by His grace in the valley?"

"Do we see these trials as God's gifts to us? Do we see our children's struggles as our Savior approaching us in love to make His grace strong in our lives? Do we believe that we must have this kind of humiliation so that Christ's grace will flow through us to our family? Do we want His grace that much? Do we really want to glorify Him? Whether or not we like it, whether or not we understand it, it is kind of the Lord to demolish our confidence in our own strength, abilities, and cherished methods."

"Our weakness is the place where we learn to depend on His power. When we're stripped of everything that we thought we could trust in, when we're absolutely desperate for help, the Lord moves into our circumstance and demonstrates His power. Sometimes He shows us His power by changing the circumstance, miraculously accomplishing what we could never accomplish. At other times He shows us how His sustaining grace enables us to endure situations that otherwise would crush us. Sometimes He makes us feel His strengthening arm upholding us in the trial. At other times He teaches us to walk by faith, believing that His arm is there even though we don't feel it. It is in these varied circumstances that we learn of His greatness, His sustaining grace, and His ability to glorify Himself in ways we would never have imagined."

...And sometimes He asks us to do all of these things!

I have bumped into so many people over the last several weeks. I have had hug, after hug, after hug and words of encouragement from so many family members, friends and acquaintances. We have been lifted up in prayer from at least three continents and many different states! I was stopped in the grocery store today by an Augie classmate of mine I hardly ever see and she's been praying. I get messages from people that read this blog that I have never even met that identify with what we are going through and are praying! This journey is truly remarkable!

I would never change my mind about embarking on this journey even if I would have known that it would be filled with so many bumps. The valleys are hard, but the growth in our spirits and in the structure of our family is incredible. I have never dreamed that our lives would be this beautiful. It is a incredible thing to trust the Lord, even in your own heart-ache, pain and long-suffering. I give God all the glory for bringing us to this place. I know that without Him and His grace, this situation would have crushed us.

Praise God for His love and faithfulness!!!

Holding On,

 PS. Enjoy these beautiful photos of our boys courtesy of another adoptive mom from our orphanage!