We truly are a family redefined. We are husband, wife, son, daughter, step children, biological and adopted children and most importantly, Children of God.

A friend pointed out that I needed to update my blog header. After our adoption from Ethiopia, I had updated it stating how the adoption of Sara Joy completed our family. Well... the journey continues. After much prayer, we have decided to follow what we feel is God's calling for us...we went to Ghana with the intention of adopting a four year old girl, Isabella Hope. Little did we know that she would be the catalyst to bringing home not only her, but her half brother and sister. We will now be adding not only Isabella Hope to our family, but also Mary Grace (9) and Gilbert (6) who we will transition to the name Nathaniel Timothy. The shock is wearing off and the JOY and EXCITEMENT are overwhelming. Now truly, our family is complete. The great part of journeying with God, is that it's always an adventure. He knows where we are going, and for us it is all a marvelous surprise. Looking forward to sharing our family adventures as we walk daily through life and as we venture off to Ghana to bring home Mary, Nate and Isabella! It's always an adventure redefining our family!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Glimpse into Their Past

It's hard to be able to even begin to explain what I'm feeling right now, but I'll try.  The words don't come easy.  The other day we received our court documents for review.  There is one change that needs to be made, that we will have to go back through the courts to make the change.... well, not really back through the courts, but the court has to officially change the document.  Our adoption decree still stands.  Thank goodness for that.

Along with the adoption decree came the report from the social welfare investigator.  To say it was sad is an understatement.  I can't describe how I felt when I read it.  I was so desperate to receive this information, and now.... I wish I hadn't.

With Anna and Sara's adoption, we have little to no information regarding their parents, or their life before we met each of them.  Basically, their history starts with us.  It's pretty much the only thing that is documented.  Anna's parent's are completely unknown.  Sara's documentation... well, let's just say it was cause for investigation.  We got to the truth of the matter, but we know very little with regard to her, other than the name of her mother.

With Mary, Nate and Isabella, we have a glimpse into their past.  I desperately wanted this with Anna and Sara, because I felt it would be important to them at some point.  And maybe at some point, it will mean something to them and I will be sad that I don't have answers for them.  However, when I received the document on the kids, that I so desperately wanted..... well, all I could think was "be careful what you wish for".  I have the document.  Part of me wishes I didn't.

See, with Anna and Sara life (or the documented part) starts with us.  It starts with Love, Acceptance, Adoption, Happiness, Joy, Family Forever..... Don't get me wrong, I know that there is more to the story.  But these are my girls.  I made up imaginary scenarios in my head regarding their past before we came into it, because I COULD.  I made up a past of their mother's love, the sacrifice she made because she wanted more for them.  I even made up a story in my head about how they got to the orphanage.  How they were delivered there with such care.  How their mother's cried as they dropped the girls off.  How they kept looking back, their heart pulling at them for one last hug, one last look.  

Believe me, I'm not that crazy though to believe the story I set forth in my mind.  Adoption is not about that.  Not in many cases.  Adoption is first about loss, pain, suffering, many times difficult if not impossible circumstances.  Imagine though, having your biological child and having to create a story for them that involved anything but perfect love before they were placed in your arms.  For your biological child, you have complete control over their care from the moment they are born into this world.  You control their food, their warmth, their love, their comfort.....With my adopted kids, it's not that way.  But, since I didn't know their story, my mind created something I could live with.  Something that I wished for them, given the circumstances and final outcome of adoption.  I'm not naive.  I know what I made up was simply that... made up.  No need to let my mind go somewhere else though, when the truth of the whole matter would never be known.  I felt like something was missing though, and part of me wanted that piece of the puzzle for Anna and Sara.

So, when the paperwork arrived earlier this week I was excited at the thought that I'd have pretty much a complete puzzle for Mary, Nate and Isabella.  And then I read.  My heart broke into a million pieces.  Once I read the words, there was no going back.  I knew the story... I couldn't change that fact.  I couldn't do for them, what I did with the other kids and create this imaginary, idealistic story in my head.  Far from it.

I'm not going to share the details of the kids' life before they came into orphanage / foster care.  It's not my story.  It is theirs.  It's funny though (not ACTUALLY funny, but my response was funny) after I read the paperwork, my first thought was "I am NEVER showing this piece of paper to the kids.  NEVER!  It would hurt them too much".  Then it struck me - adoption of these kids isn't like the adoptions of Anna and Sara.  Anna was in orphanage care at a mere days old.  Sara maybe a few weeks old.  Anna was home by 13 months and remembers nothing.  Sara was home at 19 months and remembers nothing.  That same thing won't hold true for Mary, Nate and Isabella.  They will remember.  They will have more to tell me than what I read on that piece of paper - which is why it's funny that I wanted to hide it from them, so as to not hurt them.

The other thing that will be different for Mary, Nate and Isabella than it was for Anna and Sara is that they will remember their mother.  Is that good?  I don't know.  I've never been down that road before with an adopted child.  It will bring with it another whole dimension of challenges that we have never experienced before.  

Don't get me wrong, I don't want to erase my kids' past.  Not in the least.  Is there part of me that wishes things were different for them?  Certainly.  Is there a part of me that wishes that they never had to go through the things they went through?  Of-course.  But this I believe, God was with them.  When things were tough, he carried them.  He protected them.  While I'm sure God does not want to disrupt families, God knew what their life would be.  God knew what their mother would have to do, what she would choose to do for them.  God knew we would come for them - and while we went initially for one, HE knew all along, we would come home with three. Three beautiful Ghanian children.

I don't know much about the kids' mother other than a short story of hardship.  One you and I probably couldn't imagine if we tried.  I don't know what she looks like, although I can make a mental picture of her by pulling together features of my three kids.  One thing I do know, one piece of information that she has blessed me with, is that she wanted two things for her children... 1.  That they go to a Christian home.  She specified this.  And 2.  That they remain together so they can grow together as brothers and sisters.  She did not ask for much, but in my opinion, she could not have asked for anything more important.  She did not ask that they be the only children.  She did not ask that they go to a "rich" family. She did not ask that our skin color be the same.  She asked for the important things... that we loved Christ, and would love her children.  All three of her children.  Together.  She did not ask for much, but what she asked for will provide more for her children than money or any other "thing" could.  We will provide for her children the best way we know how, and we trust God to provide for us.  I'm so glad, what little she asked, we were able to give her.

Now, I'm ready.  I'm ready to help the kids heal from the separation from their mother.  I'm ready for them to come home and start unloading what they carry with them and begin to heal with us.  I'm ready for them to find a sense of permanency, which they probably have never had.  A sense of security which they probably don't know exists.  A finality - that this will be it for them.  Our family will be their family and they will be our family.  Forever.

Part of my heart is afraid of the stories the kids will tell me.  How pathetic is that?  They lived the story and I'm too afraid to even think about hearing it.  Children lived it, but I as an adult am afraid of it?  I'm not afraid of what they will say.... I guess I'm afraid of what it will do to my heart to learn things that I don't want to learn.  To hear things that I don't want my children to ever have had to go through.  These same children who smiled at me daily and hugged me with such love.  This will be certainly a different journey for us than we have experienced in the past.  Only God will get us all through it, and we trust in Him for that.

So, pray with me friends.  We are hoping to be able to file our I600 (final immigration approval) at the end of the month.  We have filed for birth certificates (the kids will come to the US with birth certificates in our name :) and with much prayer we are confident God can move the mountains that will make this happen.  

Wouldn't it be so wonderful if I could have these kiddos home for my birthday.  June 23rd.  I'm targeting that date!  I just want my babies home!

In Christ,