Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Long and Winding Road

Hello, friends, it's been a long time.  By now most of you have seen Eli's fantastic announcement:

Yes, he's getting a brother.  From Uganda.

But I thought you were waiting for a girl. . . .

We were.  And then we weren't any longer.

And I thought you were adopting from Ethiopia. . . .

That was also true.  We were trying to adopt from Ethiopia, until we switched our focus to Uganda.

Actually, I should say switched our focus back to Uganda.  Because, you see, when Brad and I originally contacted our agency about adoption, we specifically inquired about its Uganda program.  I had researched the country and was intrigued by the thought of adopting a child from "the Pearl of Africa."

But God had other plans for us at that time.  God had Eli waiting for us, in Ethiopia.

I don't recall if I've shared on this blog the story of God stirring my heart at a most crucial time; if we know each other in person, you may have heard this before.  Because it's pretty amazing.

Soon after Brad and I married we began to talk about children.  Had he wanted them? Had I wanted them?  The conversations were always about that road not taken because we were both 44 years old at the time and so, for me at least, well beyond what are commonly thought of as childbearing years.  Brad likes to tease me about masterminding our parenthood through adoption -- he calls it my "grand plan" and says he suspects I hatched it long before we were even married-- but it really grew out of those conversations.  It wasn't something that was on my mind until I sat back and questioned our assumption that we'd both missed the parenthood exit on this highway of life.  I asked "why not us?"

So late in the year 2011 we started tentatively discussing adoption.  What would that look like for us?  We had no definite plan, no timeline, we just started to look at our various options.

Then one day in December I was consumed with thoughts of adopting a child from Africa.  It was one of the possibilities being discussed, but we hadn't seriously narrowed down any of our options at that point.  I recall that day so vividly; I remember what the pull in my heart felt like, my thoughts refusing to settle on anything else.  We were travelling that day to see Brad's family for Christmas, and while we were there Brad's mom asked me if I had any desire to travel to Africa.  My heart stopped as I casually responded "Sure.  Maybe someday."  Because I hadn't even told Brad yet about the passion for Africa that had taken root inside me.

We returned home and I called a local agency that facilitates adoptions from Uganda.  They had time to meet with us the very next day, and so we went.  Our visit was only to get more information about maybe, possibly adopting, but by the time we left our future was clear.  We were meant to do this.

But the agency nudged us away from Uganda and toward Ethiopia.  Turned out its Uganda program was brand new, and we would have been one of the first families to officially sign on for it.  With this adoption being for our first child they were concerned about us going through such a fledgling program.  They talked to us about Ethiopia, and what a wonderful country it was, and we were hooked.

That was December 30, 2011.  On January 2, 2012, we submitted our application to adopt from Ethiopia and we were off!  Throughout the process of gathering paperwork, meeting with our social worker for our home study, attending adoption classes, I continued to feel that pull.  A sense of urgency I couldn't explain to my bewildered husband.

We had our dossier completed in seven weeks, and I hand-delivered it to our agency's office. Our home study was finished and approved by the state shortly thereafter and we were added to our agency's wait lists on Friday, March 2, 2012.  We were officially waiting for an infant or toddler boy or siblings, but our preference sheet specified a 3-5 year old boy.

At our first meeting with the agency, they gave us a general timeline of how things might unfold for us.  For a toddler boy in our age range, they thought we might receive a referral in about nine months.

We were on the wait lists for one business day.

We later learned the agency purposely put us on the wait lists and didn't offer us the referral until the following Monday because they wanted to give us some time to sit back and breathe a little after furiously completing all our paperwork and various approvals.

Because Eli was there, waiting for us all along.  Remember that day in December when I was consumed with thoughts of adopting from Africa?  Well, that was the day he was brought to the orphanage in Gambella.  The same exact day.

And that pull in my heart?  Those were prayers being spoken in Africa for this child, being answered here in the United States.

God is so amazing.

And now God has brought us back to Uganda.  Because there is now a child there who is ready for us.  Who needs us. And we need him.

It's been a long and winding road, this second adoption, but we are right where we should be.

At Brad's and my wedding, I walked down the "aisle" in that beautiful flower garden on the lake to The Long and Winding Road by The Beatles.


And just like it was a long and winding road that led me to this incredible man with whom I was undoubtedly meant to spend my life, a long and winding road has led us back to Uganda to complete our family.

Photo from www.visituganda.com
I look forward to continuing down that blessed road to where our child waits for us, and welcome any prayers you have for our family.  And once we have him safely home, I'll tell you the story of how God brought us to him.

In the meantime, in the weeks and months ahead, I'll tell you a little about what we've seen of the road so far.  Because there's been a lot of glory, even on the most twisty sections.

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