Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Our History: Part 1

Since I desire to share some of the experiences in our family's daily life, I thought it would be good to go back and review some history.  Many of you have known us for years, while others may be new on the scene.  And even if you were there for part of this history, I wanted to let you in a little bit more- to see a deeper view of where our family has been.

This part of the story is about waiting.  Exciting, right? Just hang in there with me.

J & I got married in 2002, after nearly 4 years of dating.  We waited so long because we felt it was important for both of us to finish college first.  This was a good decision for us personally.  I wouldn't normally recommend 4 years of dating- but we were young and needed to get a good start in life.  So I was 22 and J was 23. Looking back now, it feels like we were babies.  J likes to tell people that we "grew up together."  This is true on many levels. 

We wanted to wait for awhile before having kids.  So we let 2 years of marriage go by- we bought a house, we had started careers, we'd saved some money.  And when the 2-year mark hit, we began to talk about starting our family.  At that time, some families from our church had adopted children internationally- and some good friends of ours were considering going that route.  There was a seminar at our church, given by an adoption agency, so we attended.

Adoption had always been on my heart.  We had even told people we wanted to adopt "someday."  After the seminar, I couldn't stop talking about it to my husband, but still with the idea that it would be later down the road.  After a week of non-stop information- sharing and excited talk, J finally said something outright that I hadn't even realized.  He said, "You seem to be really excited about adoption.  If we're both so excited about it, why don't we adopt FIRST?"  

Adopt first? Not after you try to have biological kids? The idea hadn't even occurred to me. I just always thought of it as a "second" option.  

Within the month, we applied to and were accepted by our adoption agency: Children's Hope International.

We worked (ok, I did most of it- J isn't really into details!) on our dossier frantically. Doors opened like crazy, and we felt God's leading.  We were accepted into the Colombia program and we requested a baby boy, age 1 year or younger. By November of 2004, it was certified and in the mail, on its way to Bogota, Colombia.  We had selected Colombia through prayer and talking- and really it fit us perfectly.  We were given a wait time of 12-15 months.  Wow! By next Christmas we would maybe have a baby!

Well, time went by. We started preparing a nursery.  I had taken a part-time job so that when the baby came, I could mostly stay home with him.  We learned Spanish.  We attended monthly meetings at our adoption agency. We busied ourselves trying to become the best parents ever.

Our social worker had told us at the beginning of the process was that the one thing you could count on with international adoption was change.  They would always keep us informed and be honest and up front, but most things were not certain.  However, in the end, somehow, some way, we would have a baby.

Our "change" happened slowly, sort of painfully.  We saw the months go by and no families ahead of us on the list were getting referrals.  We were told things were slowing down and to just be prepared to wait a little longer.  Christmas 2005 came and went with no movement whatsoever.  As 2006 set in, we found ourselves justifying to family and friends why we were waiting.  We prayed a lot and God never gave us the green light to "try something else."  We knew our first child would come to us through adoption in Colombia, and that was that. We just had to wait. And wait. And wait.

But when Christmas 2006 came, my faith was small.

 I usually love Christmastime, but this time I had no interest in decorating.  J had to drag me to get a Christmas tree.  I sat on the floor and cried while he decorated it.  What was God doing? Had he forgotten us?  The news was that Colombia had changed the laws and so domestic adoptions within the country were given first priority.  I knew this was a good thing, big-picture-wise, but for me it just meant lots more waiting.  My spirits were definitely down.  I had to repeatedly dust the crib, which had set unused for over a year.

It was getting harder to explain to people.  One person even told me that we needed to sue our agency- that they had stolen our money.  I knew it wasn't true, and we were in regular contact with our Colombia Coordinator, who we loved.  Spring came, and no movement.  Finally, in May, a family from our program got a referral for a sweet little boy, Miguel.  The day I found out, I was on cloud nine! It was a huge positive sign.  Then bam, bam, two more families got referrals! We were just behind one other family.

In late July, we were informed that the family ahead of us had been moved to a different region of Colombia- most likely to be matched soon.  This news discouraged us- why hadn't we been moved too?  If there were babies anywhere in Colombia, send us to that region! I settled in for more waiting.  When would our news come? The family ahead of us hadn't been assigned a baby yet, even.

So on August 6, I was at work, getting ready to distribute paychecks.  My husband came in the door, looking flushed.  I was really surprised to see him. He came up and said, "We got the call."  I said, "Oh, about your job?" (we had been waiting to hear if his company was being bought out). He said, "No.  We got THE CALL."  I was still not following him.  I said, in my usual direct manner, "Tell me what you are trying to tell me!"  He said, "Our baby! We got our baby!"
Our referral picture

I burst into tears- I didn't understand! First, our agency had instructions to call my cell phone first.  Somehow our social worker called Josh instead.  And the family ahead of us didn't have an assignment yet.  But they were moved out of the Bogota region, which meant we were next on the list, and we were assigned the next baby boy who showed up.  Our son was 7 1/2 months old at the time of referral, which is very young by international adoption standards.

We were out of our minds with joy. We both thought we'd finish out the work day, then make a plan to share our news with friends and family (we'd had many years to plan how we'd share our announcement- but most it went out the window because we were just too darn excited)- however, there was no way we could think about anything else.  I handed out paychecks, and we went to our church to tell our pastor.  The rest of the day was spent telling family and friends the news.  Everyone shared in our excitement.  Even those who had been doubters were sharing in our joy.

We had to be in Bogota in 3 weeks (Colombian adoptions work like that- you have all the waiting up front, but once you have a referral, you go!).  Lots of paperwork and final preparations.  I walked around in a daze- hands full of checklists and baby info.  Somehow we got on a plane for Bogota on August 28.

We met our son on August 30.  He was a little over 8 months old by then, and smiley, adorable, healthy and sweet.  We were in love instantly.  I know that doesn't always happen in adoption or in biological families, for that matter.  But he was so easy to love.

Here's the kicker.  Remember the Christmas of me crying by the Christmas tree and not decorating?  Our son was being born right then.  His birthday is December 6.  I could not verify it was the exact same day, but it was close because we had to hurry and get the tree done for a party on December 8.  That fact was a huge lesson for me. I had always believed and hoped that God was working on our behalf in ways we could not see.  Knowing that my moment of being almost ready to give up was the same moment his promise to us was fulfilled is awesome to me.  As humans, we can only see the tiniest portion of what God is doing- and usually we are so focused on our own feelings, demands, desires and hopes that we forget the reality.  The reality of God never sleeping, always loving, and working things together for good.  We cannot see most of it.  But it is there.  Believing that- that is faith to me.

I am always open to adoption questions.  You will be hearing more about this as the days go on.  For now, thanks for reading this opening history post.  More to come...


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