Holy Moly it’s been awhile! I need to be completing my final paper for my FINAL CLASS as it’s due tomorrow, but hey, why not work on a blog post that has been stirring in my heart for the last few weeks?!?!?!! I’d much rather work on a post regarding adoption than sit and ponder of the necessities of ethics in regard to personality assessments and statistical follow-up measures.

So, here are the stirrings of my heart….Get ready, and beware. There may be emotions that can be read between-the-lines of this post, and in fact, you may even read some opinion…we shall see!

As many of you know, and are aware Travis and I are on a very crazy-bumpy journey called- an international adoption. Yes, it’s uncomfortable. It’s painful. Yet, it’s chock-full of blessings. But don’t forget about the tears. Oh the tears! Tears of joy and tears of sorrow….AND we have a very long road still to go (more on timelines later). For anyone considering adoption (domestic or international), let me tell ya….it’s going to be a very messy ride. That’s reality. There’s no sugar coating it anymore. There are things that should be expected along the way and some things will be surprises.

We’ve been pretty open about the fact that we are on this journey of adoption because we believe it is a calling upon our lives. We do not know if we have fertility issues…maybe we do, maybe we don’t…we’ve taken steps to avoid biology from taking place for the time being (sorry family, I’m just putting it out there to make this statement), and I know both Travis and I hope we may have bio children some day. But now, we feel we have been led to adoption, and have seen much faithfulness in saying this is where we should be.

Adoption is messy. It can be ugly, cruel, and the most blessed thing all at once. And we’re only at the beginning of the journey! We’re in the waiting stage of this international adoption as our paperwork sits in a drawer on the other side of the world waiting to be opened when our “number is called”. With all of that waiting we’ve had ample time to come up with other meanings to the idea of adoption… (see what ya think…)

*Adoption means….

  • Sacrifice. It means your time, talents, and contentment will be put to the test of sacrificing itself. Your time will be sucked up into the process by having to collect papers upon papers, as well as the time you consistently think about the “next stage” and wait on its arrival. And since I’m a daydreamer, I must say I’ve sacrificed (or maybe the best description is avoided reality) much time in thinking about who our children will be, how they’ll fit within our family, and of course, how amazing they are going to look in the ‘fros I’m dying to create with their hair! Patience is continuously tried and tested throughout this process…completely at the forefront of the waiting. My contentment seems to be on the altar of patience…completely in a constant battle. And talents….well, let’s just say I am so incredibly thankful for some talents to be utilized for this process. Even surprised by the fact I can crochet!!!! If it wasn’t for all of the “projects” we have had going I think I’d truly be losing my mind!
  • Trials. Once the decision of adoption has been made, trials will come your way. Believe it or not. They will come to seek and destroy your desire to follow God’s calling. Doubts will overpower at times, allowing troubled discontentment to eat away at various aspects of your being, even your marriage. I truly believe Travis and I have seen the hardest and darkest parts of our marriage through this journey. We have been forced to truly come together and re-focus our marriage and relationship.

And speaking of relationships, adoption can mean a loss of relationships. Some people have lost relationships based upon their calling…whether it’s been because of choosing to adopt a child from a different race, a desire to adopt HIV+ children, or even from the simple choice of choosing adoption as their option. Travis and I have lost some relationships through misunderstandings and false expectations, and we truly see this as a result to following our call to adopt.

  • the unknown becomes your constant. We are now living our lives in the “unknown” more than we ever have. We hear our phone ring or see an email from our family coordinator and wonder if we are going to be told something super promising for the future of our family…maybe our referral call???? Or not… We can watch the “unofficial” waiting list’s numbers fluctuate so much so that our heads spin from trying to understand why we went from *#55 to #455* on the waitlist. (*yes, that’s an exaggeration, but it feels like it!). Yes, without being in the adoption process one lives in the unknown, but somehow and for some apparent reason, you are made to embrace the unknown and celebrate it. Somehow. Still working on the ‘how’.
  • you will have a lack of understanding from “outsiders”. I cannot even stress this enough. Even the people with the BEST of intentions, who are the VERY BEST at playing supporting roles WILL NOT UNDERSTAND YOU. Nope. They won’t. People who are not in the midst of an adoption, or who have not been down the road of adoption themselves will not understand the feelings you have. Plain and simple. The ache in your heart, the far off looks from dreaming of what your child’s birth place is like, to the excitement you see when you see a world map….“outsiders” do not understand. As much as they want to, there’s still a little gap that only someone who is currently in the process, or has walked this crazy journey, can fill.

The adoption community is A-MAZING! We have met some incredible people along this journey, thanks largely to our astounding agency, facebook, our yahoo group, and the blogosphere. We tend to jump at the chance to be with individuals and families who love adoption as much as we do. It’s an unexpected branch of life that we are eagerly climbing.

  • Doubts will become routine. With all of the changes and craziness that has happened since we sent in our application to enter the Ethiopia program with AWAA, doubts have run rampant at times. Upon application the wait times for an infant was about 4-6 months. Now? 18-24 months. And THAT’S not even from time of application. It’s from DTE date (when the dossier has reached Ethiopian soil). So just to clear the air….we are currently only at 7 months DTE, and all the time it took to collect paperwork and the time to raise the appropriate funds to get us from point ‘A’ to point ‘C’ was just the pre-game show to waiting….Yah, we’ve got a LOOOOOOONG way to go. And add to the equation our request of TWINS….HOLY MOLY the doubts come POURING IN!

We begin questioning whether we need to open the age range, change our request to different “options” ie: special needs, whether we should pursue a “concurrent family plan”: i.e. start hoping for bio kids, pursue another country, or apply for a domestic adoption….We are constantly working at trying to squelch the doubts by praying and talking together as a couple. Yes, we try…it’s not always easy to totally surrender to God’s plan and consciously say “Lord, I know you’ve got this despite my fears and doubts”. AH, if only it were that easy!!!!!

  • Eyes will be opened to the needs of others. Adoption is an amazing thing where whether it’s an international adoption or domestic, you become more aware of culture and needs. For instance, since being in South Africa and being accepted into the Ethiopian adoption program, our eyes have been opened to HIV/AIDS health, nutrition, starvation, clean/dirty water, birth defects, staggering statistics of healthcare, and a lack of what we call basic necessities. In Russia and other European countries I reference a need for education about disabilities and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and in other parts of the world I think of sex trafficking and various issues with needing to discover ways to help…. My heart is heavy with a desire to be a part of change around me, yet finding the “how” has been challenging. Travis and I regularly pray about how we can continue to be used as the hands and feet of our Savior. This has been one of the MANY blessings that have occurred throughout this journey thus far!  OH, to be His hands and feet!!!!
  • Opening your selves up for people to ask questions. Whether it’s stupid questions like “how black with your children be?” or “so you can’t have ‘your own’ children”, or “why international when there are TONS of children here?” and so on… BE PREPARED to come face to face with shock and awe. You will be shocked at some questions. Awed by others. People will feel like they can ask you about the most personal issues you’ve ever been asked about. Perfect strangers (such as the bank exec) will ask you if you are unable to procreate. -Yes, he did.- Just be prepared.
  • And finally, adoption means you will have your socks blessed right off of you when you least expect it. This by far has been the most humbling and special part of our journey to date. We have received amazing notes from people in our lives (close and distant), as well as had some things come to us anonymously. Our fundraisers have brought more joy and inspiration to this process than we ever knew was possible!! Even in the middle of trying to beg people of their money! Seriously! Who knew?! We’ve had the local news do a story on us and our garage sale, participated in some amazing craft shows, met an amazing photographer who has become a friend and shares her talents to “showcase” some of our products, received special encouraging  notes from people in our past (some of my earliest friends have participated in our adoption by purchasing some of our things…who knew 25 years ago you’d be purchasing sock monkeys for my husband and me?!HA!)

So there you have it. A “small” list of what adoption means to us. It’s truly not an exhaustive list, and many things are different for people within this situation, but the overall picture is…adoption is a long journey filled with moments of pure sorrow and extreme wonderment. What a journey it’s been so far. And I have a feeling it’s going to get even crazier…. God be with us ALL! J