Well, so much for my first blogging attempt. It has been almost eight months since my first and only blog entry and I'm embarrassed that my enthusiastic beginning dissolved so quickly into...well, nothing. However, I am nothing if not stubborn - at least so I've been told most of my life (my preferred word is determined but I'll try not to be too picky). Thus, I will forge ahead and make an effort to continue on as time allows.
Time has been something in short supply, it seems. Though I have 'only' one child, life has had a way of snatching precious bits of time that I had anticipated would be utilized for blogging purposes. In early January, with yuletide festivities behind us, I learned that my brother and his wife had separated at Christmas time...probably only hours from the time I posted my first blog entry. Wow. That's a first in my family (immediate or extended), and it felt like the wind got knocked out of my sails. It still seems hard to believe that things could come to such an abrupt end after almost 23 years of marriage and three children. It's been tough on my whole family...though no doubt not nearly as tough as it's been on the five of them.
Then, at 3:00 on a Friday afternoon in mid-March, I got a phonecall from my little (40-year-old) sister that dropped the bottom out of our worlds; her words to me were: "Ruth, I have invasive breast cancer; you need to come and get me." That moment will live long in my memory, and maybe someday I will write more about it and the many horrible moments that followed. At any rate, that instant started a whirlwind of events that resulted in her five-hour surgery eleven days later. During the following months I felt at times as if I was managing her household and mine, her children along with mine; in addition, I was doing my best (which often wasn't enough) to support her emotionally as she went through this shadowed valley. It has been exhausting at times - physically and emotionally. Four and a half months later, she has just completed her fifth of six chemotherapy rounds. Her prognosis is good, thankfully, but it doesn't remove uncertainty about the future and it certainly doesn't erase the crazy journey it's been so far.
"Cancer" used to be a word that I rarely (if ever) uttered in our household - perhaps because it is not something that has affected our family in recent times; and perhaps because I think I've held a latene superstition that if I uttered the word too often I might become its victim myself. And indeed I might yet. That being said, however, I have learned that the word itself carries no power. It has become a household word - a hated word, true, but one which is now familiar; in an odd way there is relief in knowing that the spoken word can do no harm.
As if this was not enough to deal with, Geoff and I were dealt a direct blow on July 13 when we learned that our adoption agency (Imagine Adoption) had declared bankrupcty, amidst allegations of fraud and misappropration of funds by the executive director and her husband - and perhaps others. Learning of this news was utterly devastating. It marks the only time in my history when my legs were not strong enough to hold me upright.
Geoff and I have been on the path towards international adoption since 2002. Our first attempt to adopt from Vietnam was ill-fated: the very week that our homestudy and dossier were ready to be sent off to that country, the Canadian government closed its doors to adoptions from Vietnam (for four years, as it turned out). A couple of years later, after the miraculous conception and birth of our son and numerous additional fertility attempts (which met with an unfortunate outcome), we tried to adopt from China. We were told that we would travel to meet our child about seven months after our file arrived in China. Fifteen months after our file arrived there we were told that, given the slowdown in Chinese adoptions, our wait would be seven to ten years. Well, once that agonizing news sank in, we gradually turned our hearts to the country where our hearts now reside: Ethiopia.
In a way, I can't believe we didn't start out trying to adopt from Ethiopia. When I was fifteen years old (long before fertility issues came into play), I announced to my mother that I would someday adopt a boy from Africa. It seems as if my heart has been in Africa for at least that long. So I'm not sure why, when we made the decision to adopt, we made such a circuitous route back to this continent but, from the moment we learned that our file had arrived in Ethiopia in April of 2008, it felt like coming home. When the news broke of Imagine Adoption's bankruptcy, we were very near the top of the list in our wait for a referral. It felt like my dreams were shattered when we heard the news. For two days, I sent my son to the homes of my family so that I could lie in bed and cry. And cry I did...and scream...and rant to the four walls of my bedroom...
On the third day, I woke up and thought: surely this can't be it; there must be a way. Well, it seems that other families affected by Imagine's bankruptcy felt the same way on that day because hundreds of us began or organize via our online yahoo forum, and we became FIA: Familes of Imagine Adoption. Fast forward six weeks (which included an unprecedented lobbying and media-oriented effort) and our prospects have changed: the trustee in bankruptcy is preparing a restructuring plan that will hopefully see the agency pulled out of bankruptcy and restructured. I was at the creditors' meeting when the decision was made to pursue this initiative and there was hardly a dry eye in the room when families raised their hands to vote for this to happen. Once again, now, I notice that Geoff and I are talking about "when" our children come home, instead of that hated "if" that we were using for the first several weeks after the bankruptcy announcement. There is hope yet!
When I think about this situation in perspective, I can't help but think that of course this adoption is going to happen. I feel like God placed these children in my heart many years ago already. Surely he knows that they are the desire of my heart and that I have waited so patiently for them to come home. I wonder what the purpose of this bankruptcy was? Why would something like this happen to so very many families desperate to create/continue/complete their families? Why would this happen when there are truly so many children in Ethiopia desperate for homes? The orphanages are full to capacity, we have heard. I don't understand, and these questions have been added to the list of questions that I plan to ask my Creator someday...after all, he is also their Creator and he loves them, too. And on that note, with an exhausted sigh as we approach midnight in our province, I shall end my writing for tonight...hopefully to continue in the much nearer future than I have demonstrated in the past!