An update has been a long time in coming on here...well, not really all that long, but long enough. If you only read my blog (and not F@cebook) you may be surprised to read the title of this post "Adoption Update". Yes, I typed that right. Our "LAST" adoption - our adoption of Sara just happens to not be our last adoption after all.
I've hesitated to share much on here, because I hate seemingly going back and forth on things. Tim and I have had to start and stop an adoption process too many times - either because of countries closing down or because of situations with our careers that made adoption not quite reasonable at the time. So, last spring when we started thinking about adoption again, it took all that was in me to remain quiet about it. There was too much uncertainty.
We have a unique situation. Many countries will not accept us as adoptive parents because of my eye condition. While I am a completely capable mom with few limitations, I do have certain limitations and my eye condition leaves me labeled as "disabled". Have I ever told you how much I HATE labels? Labels define people and I'm not defined by my "disability". Anyway, because of the uncertainty, we decided to just keep things on the "down low".
God had placed a desire in our heart to adopt again. We were not certain from where. If you know anything about me, you know that when I come to a decision on something, I like to pursue it full speed ahead. I mean, why wait if a decision has been made. So, since we made the decision to adopt, I wanted to move on it. And I wanted to do it like YESTERDAY. Little did I know that God would teach me a lesson though this process though.
While I wanted to move quickly, God was telling me to slow down. Not audibly of-course, but just whispers in my heart of "something isn't right here". "What is your motive"? My motive was to adopt. To give a home to a child who didn't have one. Actually, I was going to give a home to a male or female child between the age of 9 - 30 months with no special needs. I had it written on all of our documents. That's what we were ready to adopt. I didn't want to go over Sara's age. Then we decided to expand the age to include a newborn - because we were considering a domestic adoption. I convinced myself that was what we were to do. It was not what my heart desired, but since many countries were not good fits for us, I figured it was one option, and since the door was open, it must be that was what we were to do.
Lesson One: Just because a door opens, that does not mean that is the path that God wants you to travel. He may not have been the one to open that door.
So, as we started down the domestic adoption trail, it just didn't feel right. I kept hesitating. My desire to press forward just kept shutting off. Something didn't feel right. So, after contacting several agencies and getting in touch with an agency to do our home study, I just sat. I didn't do anything. In fact, I waited so long that our social worker contacted me to make sure everything was ok. Yes, everything was fine.... just something wasn't settling with me. I began to think that God was planning a delay for us, so we would be matched with the right birth mother. But then I decided that even if I were to press on, if God wanted us with a certain family, a certain birth mother, a certain child, that we wouldn't be matched until that baby was ready and the mom was ready to deliver. So, that was not the problem.
I prayed about it, and just quenched my urge to press forward. For like six months.... that is so unusual for me that it isn't even funny!
During that six month "hiatus", we were presented with several "opportunities" - none of which felt right. All of which I would have to convince myself were the right thing for our family.
Then came the day in November. I was getting ready for the day, doing my hair when I felt like I needed to check my F@cebook groups. I was on a waiting child group for Ghana. I opened group and right there, posted just minutes before, was my daughter!!!! Except - she wasn't exactly the daughter I had planned on. BUT - I believe she is the daughter God had planned for us. She was not within my "optimal" age range. She was older than our Sara which I said I definitely did NOT want. She was not (obviously) a domestic adoption, which was the route I thought we were going. She was nothing that I expected, but she was everything I suddenly desired. EVERYTHING about her felt right.
It felt so right, I suddenly panicked. I saw this little girl and I knew nothing about her, other than I knew she was meant for our family. But what if I was wrong. Many children posted on this page I was on, are actually matched. Their pictures are posted for the families who are waiting to bring them home. What if that were the case for "MY daughter"? What if someone was calling about our daughter as I was having my mini panic attack? I contacted people immediately. I contacted Tim and told him I found our daughter and did it matter that she was already four? I contacted the orphanage to see which agency she was being placed with. Then I contacted the agency. I breathed a sigh of relief when, within ONE day, she was tentatively ours.
I had to contact our social worker. The home study that I had delayed for six months now had to be an expedited home study - which she did an AWESOME job completing in record time I might add! If you are in the SC area and need a home study recommendation, get in touch with me... I have the BEST!!!
Now, less than two months after first seeing our daughter's face, we are ready to embark on a very special trip - to meet her for the very first time. I have completed immigration paperwork and have that ready to send out. Our home study is complete and about to be sent to immigration. I have our dossier nearly complete - just waiting on one document. Our Visas are being sent out tomorrow to approve our trip to Ghana (please, please, please let these come back to us quickly!!!). And in just three weeks and one day Tim and I will be in the air, on our way to meet Isabella Hope. Yes, we have decided her middle name will be Hope. Her Ghanian name is Isabella and we have decided to keep that. We will give her the middle name Hope. And since we know her last name, we will give her two middle names - using her last name as her second middle name.
If everything works out as planned, we will have our little girl home this summer. Who would have though that I'd start the year with three children and end the year with four - with Sara remaining my baby :) I certainly didn't imagine that. But....
Lesson Two - What I didn't imagine, God not only imagined, but made happen!
I'll admit that I'm scared... well, maybe not scared, maybe nervous is the more appropriate word. I have no experience bringing home a four year old. I can't imagine how much different it's going to be than bringing home an infant/toddler. I guess when I brought home Anna, I didn't have experience bringing home a 13 month old, and I made it through that. When we brought home Sara, we had no experience bringing home an 18 month old and we made it through that. We'll make it through this as well. It will just be different. I imagine it being a bit more frustrating - maybe for us and certainly for Isabella. She will be able to communicate - and I don't know at this point if she will speak English. She will have the ability to get her thoughts across to us, but unless she is speaking English, it will seem to fall on deaf ears. When the kids are smaller, we learn together. I also don't know how much Isabella's life will impact the bonding process between us and her. I don't know what her life experiences are. I am not yet aware of the circumstances that brought her to the orphanage. Who will she remember? Who will she grieve the loss of? She will be VERY familiar with the sights, sounds and smells of Ghana - Life here will be completely different for her. How can I make the transition easier for her? I guess these are some of the things we will find out when we meet her for the very first time.
I've been on-line and have looked into Ghana. Oh. My. Goodness! Accra - which is where we will travel, is STUNNINGLY beautiful! It is right on the ocean. We will be able to take trips with Isabella to the ocean if we want to. I'm really excited about our second trip. As much as I want her to come home as quickly as possible, I am hoping she will come home in June, because I DESPERATELY want the other three kids to travel with us. If it is in the summer, I think we will extend the trip a bit and enjoy the sights that Accra has to offer. It really is beautiful! I also want them to experience Africa. To experience Ghana. And truthfully, to experience the joy that exists in the eyes of little children that have so little. I think there is a huge lesson to be learned in that for every child.
So, in just over three weeks I will have hugged my little girl for the first time. I can't wait to share that with you all!