Friday, 8 October 2010

The Long and Winding Road

I started this post at the end of May...but it needed to marinate for a while, I guess. I have rewritten the end of it as each milestone passed...homestudy, fingerprints, visa, and so on. Anyhow, here it is...

About a week after we came home with Tommy I began planning our next adoption. We would go back to Uganda, of course, adopt from Tommy's babies home, and live happily every after. I started scheming along these lines- mentioning it to Jeff, keeping track of events in Uganda, starting a new pile of "things to take to Uganda," and so on. In January, after Jeff finished his dissertation and started his "real" job, we got in contact with our lawyer. He was busy, but said he could fit us in. We were thrilled. We announced we were starting the process. Then things shut down. Our lawyer had things come up, and had to back out of representing us. We made contact with another lawyer, and received more discouraging news. We had already updated our home study, so we started researching other options just in case. Home studies have expirations dates, and, having just invested $1,500, we needed a back-up plan. We looked into Rwanda. We even found an agency that used Tommy's African name as their name. The week we had a phone interview with them Uganda had some very positive movement, so I called off the call. I didn't want to waste their time. Then visas in Uganda didn't start again, and we started looking again at another country (Rwanda seemed on the verge of signing Hague/shutting down, and they have now done so).

I went to google. I typed in that country, and "blogspot," and came across the blog of a family who had recently adopted from that country. I scrolled down and looked into a beautiful pair of brown eyes that looked very familiar. Exactly like Tommy's. Tommy and this boy wouldn't pass for twins, and maybe not siblings, but defintly cousins. I was so struck by their resemblance that I emailed the woman and asked her how she went about her adoption. She emailed back with a glowing review of a group that facilitates adoptions in that country and promised to put me in touch with someone who could tell me more. I spoke with this other woman extensively, and was touched by the ethics and vision of this organization. It was exactly what I wish existed in Uganda. We decided to apply as we waited for Uganda to open. So, on the 13th of April I mailed in our application. I had not intended to work on the application that week. I told the woman who was assisting me that I would do it the week after because Tommy's party was that week, my parents were coming, and I had so much to do. But that checklist was calling my name, and somehow Jeff and I got it done. I still cannot say what motivated me to change my mind and power through that paperwork, the paperwork I didn't intend to look at until the end of April, I just did it. On the 15th of April this organization stopped accepting new applications, because they had too much interest. Ours, however, was "in" for consideration.

So, we waited. We waited to see what was going on in Uganda. We waited to hear if we would be accepted by this other organization to go to this other country. While we waited we prayed. We prayed for patience, and we prayed for direction and clarity.

Honestly, I was intrigued and impressed by this organization, but my heart was in Uganda. I love Uganda. It is the most beautiful place on earth. I can't wait to go back. I can't wait to show it off to Tommy. I long for the day when we can touch down and he can look out the window and read "Welcome to the Pearl of Africa." I cried when I first read that sign, and I will cry again when I return. Oh, how I long to go back. My heart aches for it. For the soft sunlight filtering through the banana leaves, for the red dusty dirt that contrasts so beautifully against the blue sky, for the cool breeze off Lake Victoria bringing a slight relief from the heat, for the warm and loving people that we know there, who we can't wait to see again. But I'm not going back. Not now. Not this time. It breaks my heart, but, unless something drastic changes, we don't think Uganda is where God is leading us.

I think the crack in my determination really started at the zoo. Bear with me. We were walking through the exhibits trying to find some animal or another. I was distracted- probably trying to save Tommy from the attack of the crazy Canadian geese, or trying to keep him from climbing in one of those cool double wagons that people pull all over the zoo, but that is not the point. I was distracted. Then, I was overwhelmed. I felt a twinge in my chest, you know what I mean, the kind when something is heavy upon your heart, and I felt so compelled to respond with a prayer for our adoption. I said the first thing that came to my mind, "God, show us where to go." My eyes had been cast downward, but as soon as I finished praying I looked up. Right in front of me was a huge map of Africa. It was tan, and had all of the countries of Africa outlined in black. Except one country. That country was a big, green splotch on the map. It was the "other" country. The name of that country was also on top of the map, and apparently it was the featured country of that exhibit.

My immediate reaction: Oh, that sign is always there. It has always been there. What a coincidence.

So, I pushed it aside, but I kept coming back to it. I began to wonder if maybe I shouldn't dismiss it. It wasn't as thought I had been running around the zoo praying about our adoption. It was kind of odd that I felt so convicted to pray in the exact spot where I would look up and see this sign. So, we kept praying, and waiting.

Then a friend, who had no idea that we were looking anywhere other than Uganda, suggested that I stop looking into Uganda and look into this other country or one other country. I wondered if she was right. A few weeks later I was griping to another friend (via email) about my uncertainty over which country we should go to. I wrote "I really wish God would just give me a map." As soon as I wrote those words the image of the zoo map flashed in my mind. I began to wonder how many maps I needed.

But, we still fought it. Uganda started looking even better. Things began to really happen towards opening back up. We still hadn't heard back from this other program. It felt like it was all dragging on forever, this unending indecision limbo. Every week we would ask our bible studies/small group to pray about the adoption and our decision. Every week we still didn't heard back from the program, and Uganda stayed shut. The true miracle in all this is that Jeff and I were both waiting patiently. We weren't stressed about it. We weren't consumed by it. If you knew us during T's adoption you know that is a huge change.

Then we heard back from the program, the delay in responding to us was the result of a miscomunication. We were almost in, but we needed to do an interview. The next day, we heard that visas were going to be issued in Uganda the next week.

We had hoped that we would be forced into one country or the other. Perhaps this program wouldn't accept us, then we would go to Uganda. Perhaps Uganda wouldn't be open, so we would go to this other program without feeling like we were disrespecting Tommy's heritage and abandoning all of our wonderful, amazing, supportive (I could go on and on) Uganda adoption friends, not to mention our dreams/plans to return to Uganda.

So, we had some things to weigh out. First, was the miscommunication with the other program the chance for us to see Uganda open and pursue our plan to adopt there? We decided to look into "our plan for Uganda" and see how it played out. We prayed for clarity (again) and made a phone call. It went differently than we had hoped. Long story short, some things that we had been told would be true, and that we needed to be true in order for us to adopt on our current home study, had changed. If we were to go back to Uganda, we would be starting from scratch. We considered doing that, but we had no peace. None. It felt all wrong.

Every time we discussed this other program, we had peace. No panic. No feelings of extreme mistrust. It was nice.

We decided to move forward with the interview. We have been praying that if this was the wrong move that God would slam this door shut, have them reject us (and, of course, provide a way in Uganda). But the interview went amazingly well. We got the green light, and we have decided to go.

The insane thing is that this country is less stable than Uganda. It has generally more pro-adoption laws, but, as everyone knows that could change at anytime. It is certainly less safe and less politically stable. I felt a bit crazy even considering it, especially when Uganda is opening up again. For our dear friends who read this blog who are adopting from Uganda, please know that this is not a no-confidence vote in Uganda. We are choosing a potentially much rockier road. As I write this, I am wondering why. It isn't what I started out wanting. Frankly, I'm not looking forward to the bumps along the road. Some days I question whether this adoption will even go through. But, I have peace. Jeff has peace. Each time we contemplate taking a different course (as in running back to Uganda as fast as our legs will carry us) we know it is not the right decision. We may not understand why we are where we are right now, but the one thing we believe is that we are where we should be no matter what the outcome or how foolish or crazy it seems to us.

We have already hit a number of annoying delays on the Illinois side of things. Fingerprints that expired a two days before our homestudy was ready to send (and because we started so much earlier went unnoticed by our social worker), then a problem with the fingerprints we sent despite them passing a previous round, then a very long hold up at the state approval level. The one bright spot was that our visa approval was not delayed, and came even earlier than we expected. That was a huge blessing, because it removed the biggest point of paperwork anxiety that I had.

Now we wait for our referral. Best case scenario is a one month wait, but more likely we will wait up to three months. From there it is a very long process, probably four to six months. I am not looking forward to that second wait.

You may have noticed that I have not mentioned the name of this other country. My choice was to talk about the country and take this blog entirely private, or, not mention the name of the country at all. I am choosing to keep the blog public but not mention the country we are traveling to. It isn't a secret generally though, so if I see you in person (or on FB) and you are curious I would be happy to tell.

We covet your prayers for continued patience, for ongoing discernment about decisions that need to be made, and most of all, for the child that will be joining our family. They likely are living in very difficult conditions, circumstances that make Tommy's orphanage stay look like easy street. Knowing this is a very hard thing to bear.


mary said...

We are and will continue to pray for you all and the child that God has planned for you.
Love you,

Tricia said...

Hi, I'm the gal that you met at the clothing swap at the school. It was so nice chatting with you and now being able to read your blog. I'll be praying for you guys on this new journey, sounds like the Lord has great plans for you in the other country. Looking forward to hearing more.

Haley Ballast said...

WOW. Thank you for the update! I have been dying for more details on your process... now we can pray much more specifically for you guys. Amy I don't have the opportunity to tell you this often, but I am so thankful to have someone like you ahead of me on the road. I respect you and look up to you so much! Thanks for sharing your journey.

thecurryseven said...

Praying for you as you wait. And you're right, the waiting after referral stinks, and is hard, and generally horrible. But, after the long hard wait, when you have your child, the pain really does fade into the background and you realize that you would do it all over again. You'll be able to do it. (Though by the end of our 18 month wait to bring K. home, I really seriously considered taking up kick boxing... I had a bit of pent-up aggression.)


Chelsea Lee said...

amy you sound just like me when i was deciding whether to go back to egypt or to head to south africa for outreach. i think you will find that each new footstep you place in africa, a new passion falls into your heart. i will be praying for you as always and know that i'm here for whatever you need.

sara said...

Loved reading how it all came about!! I got little snipets but this gives me a better glimpse!! You don't have to give us all up just because you are directed to another country:) It is still Africa!! Blessings sweet friend. Praying often for your precious famiy!!