Stuck waiting

Since we started this adoption process almost three years ago I’ve heard that THIS part…the waiting part…will be the hardest part of the whole process. I disagree. Everything has been taxing so far: the paperwork, the finances…oh the FINANCES and definitely the pictures of a little boy who is so, so, so far away. Waiting is hard, but I’m pretty sure the hardest part is yet to come.

I haven’t written since we announced our referral but really, there wasn’t much to say. We had to do some more paperwork and they met with officers to interview them before they could approve our adoption. At this point, we have done all we can do on our end. We are waiting on a letter from MOWYA in Ethiopia (Ministry of Women’s, Children’s and Youth’s Affairs) to get a court date in Ethiopia. Worst case scenerio (and YOU KNOW that’s what I’m anticipating) is that we get ONE WEEKS NOTICE to pack, book a flight, take Lydia to TN and fly to Ethiopia. Typically, people get 2-3 weeks notice for travel. We will get a call one day with no warning and I have absolutely no timeline for when this will happen. It could be today…or 6 months from now. Everything has slowed in Ethiopia due to a drought and training for new government employees. So far, we’ve been really lucky because everything has been somewhat smooth for us.

What happens when we get that call? The first trip is 4-5 days in country during which we will get to meet our guy, visit his orphanage for 2 days, and then meet the judge in court to legally become his guardians. Then we get on a plane and come back to the States, we will be officially his legal guardians but he will stay behind. During this trip, we get to meet him and interact with him but we are not supposed to bond with him. It will be a surreal experience to meet our son and pretend he’s just a random little boy in an orphanage, but I understand how hard it would be for him to bond with us and then we leave the country.

The second trip can be 1-2 months after the first and it’s another 4-5 day trip. We will take him to the guest house where we will be staying for a day or two before we go to court again to apply for his exit visa. Once we have the exit visa, we head back to the States.

We are not allowed to post his picture or our court date on social media until an undisclosed time (but basically we’ll be shy about it until he’s here with us). We haven’t shown most of our family or friends his picture or told many his name, because we don’t want anything to disrupt our process. This kills me because he is so cute, and in my heart he’s already ours. My type A personality wants to be fully prepared and packed so that when we get a court date all we need to do is book a flight. I’m dealing with the fact that isn’t feasible. His room is minimalist for now, but ready for him. We are still collecting clothes (4-5T fall/winter), toys, shoes (7-9…I really have no idea until we meet) and books (especially educational books) from anyone who is willing. Right now, I pray for God every night to prepare my mind and my heart for this trip and for him. I have been struggling lately with mommy guilt and I know it will only increase when he gets here.

 While we wait, we have a few praises and a few prayer requests: 

Praise #1: I connected with another mom through our agency who has a little girl in the same orphanage. Turns out this little girl and my guy are BFFs. She lives literally across the States, but that’s closer than Ethiopia and I’m hoping for some FaceTime/Skype sessions to help him stay connected to his childhood. I LOVE getting pictures of them together. There will be a big picture of our guy with his friends printed and hung on his wall when he gets home.

Praise #2: Everything has been so smooth for us. Too smooth. We were #SO BLESSED (I can’t type that in emphasis enough) to get a referral when we were so low on the list. Our interviews and letters have been processed so quickly. I’m anticipating something to go wrong (it’s who I am) but I’m just trying to count my blessings.

Praise #3: Social media. The connections to other Ethiopian adoptive mamas through FB groups have been a Godsend. I can ask any question and someone has been through it with some good solutions. I have major anxiety about maternity leave and only being home for 12 weeks before I send him to preschool/daycare and going to work. I asked others’ opinions and they eased my anxiety and gave me good plans to tackle the transition to school. I’ve also gotten an extensive packing list of all the little things I never would have thought of. Thanks mamas!

Praise #4: Lydia is finally old enough to start explaining all of this to her. She sees my necklace and says: “Africa?” I say: “Who is in Africa?” and she says “brother”. She has a brother/sister in her class at school and is relating that relationship to her brother. It’s going to be my favorite thing ever…seeing these two bond.

Now for the (many) prayer requests:

  • Please pray for our guy right now and Ethiopians in general. Ethiopia is having the worst drought in its history and it is causing widespread famine. Thankfully he is not on the street and is in an orphanage with three meals a day. He has friends, clothes and does some school there.

  • Pray for the waiting period. I was just in the middle of typing “waiting hasn’t bothered me that much” and we got an email update from the agency saying that the process has been slower than they predicted due to the unpredictable staffing issue and other issues that need to be taken care of before adoptions. Once they have sufficient staffing, things will move faster. The process is incredibly unpredictable. We got a referral sooner than we ever thought imaginable, but it looks like our court dates may be the end of this year, into the next. Just like all the hard times, this brings us closer to God in a way we never imagined.

  • Pray for my mommy heart. I feel guilty for leaving Lydia behind when we travel across the world. I feel guilty that he’s stuck in an orphanage a little longer and we can’t do anything about it. I feel guilty for the fact that just as we are bonding, I will be leaving him to go back to work. I feel guilty ALL. THE. TIME.

  • Pray for smooth travel when we do get our travel date, that we are prepared, court goes well, Lydia does well in TN with family and we have some good bonding with him before we get onto a plane for 21 hours.

  • Grace. We’re normal people trying to walk by faith. We have, and will again, said the wrong things. Hurt peoples feelings. Are human and flawed and so we ask that you give us grace and understanding in the coming months and years. We aren’t going to be composed and pristine all the time. We’re hoping to use our openness, frankness, as a path for other families to see how normal people can be used for extraordinary things. If we can pull this off, many more can as well.
If you are reading this blog post and you have prayed for us, donated to our adoption, given us clothes/toys/books and generally supported us…THANK YOU. We could not have continued through this process without a village behind us. Not everyone is able to or willing to adopt but everyone is called to orphan care. You are caring for orphans when you support adoptive parents. We will continue to need the emotional/physical support after we bring him home. So far we’ve only been through the “easy” part of this adoption, so we will need a lot of understanding and support in the future as well. Thank you for loving on our boy as much as we do. Here comes the grand adventure!
The Shraders