It is with joy, thanksgiving, and very much a sense of wonder that Geoff and I announce that we have received a referral of TWO Ethiopian-born children! We can hardly believe it. The call came just after noon yesterday, and we have been in a state of euphoria since! We are about to add a four-year-old boy, and a two-year-old girl to our family...a long-awaited brother and sister for our six-year-old Matthew (who has been praying many times, daily, for twenty-eight months for his "brother and sister"). We could not be happier! At long last, our dreams of completing our family through adoption are coming true.
I will not be posting their pictures until after we have successfully completed Ethiopia's federal court process, but we already love their sad, scared little faces, and look forward to the day when we can offer them the comfort and security of our home, and the love that we have carried for them for so long already. Our new son's name, so coincidentally, is Mathewos and he will be five in December; and our daughter's name (I have a daughter!) is Elfnesh and she will be three in early October. We will likely be giving them different first names, particularly given the similarity between our boys' names, but we'll work through those details a bit later. When Matthew came into our lives, and we named him Matthew, it was with the knowledge that his name means 'gift of God.' What beautiful gifts these children are, too.
When we changed our child request at the beginning of June, to be open to either siblings or a single child, it was with the knowledge that we would likely be receiving a referral of one. Our case worker told us at the time that, given our openness to age and gender, and given how long we'd been waiting, we would essentially receive a referral of the next child or children that became available. That was the statement that made me comfortable with changing our request, knowing that we could then leave to God the orchestration of whichever scenario he envisioned for our lives. Interestingly, in the past couple of weeks, believing strongly that our referral was about to come, I kept fighting the feeling that we were going to be referred siblings (and yesterday discovered that Geoff had been feeling similarly), knowing that (statistically) we were far more likely to receive a referral of one. And we would have loved that one as well. But, as my sister said to us yesterday afternoon, "God has spoken." We got the siblings that I had longed for! A boy and a girl! How blessed are we. I am overwhelmed. We completed our first adoption homestudy over eight years ago and now, so many years later, we can breathe a sigh of relief and know that we're finally done!
Of course, our joy has come at great cost. The mother of our children had to do the unimaginable; she relinquished her children to the care of strangers, hoping that they will have a better life than the one she could provide. How many times I have prayed for her over the years. The other cost is, of course, borne by our children, these precious little innocents who have been separated from their first family and who will carry the scars of that separation for a lifetime. I ache for what they have already had to endure in life, and can only hope that Geoff and I will possess enough wisdom to help them cope with their grief and transition. Adoption is a multi-faceted, complex series of events, and our joy of today is marked by that knowledge.
So much needs to be said, and there will be time to say all of those things. But for now, we are simply basking in the glow of our news. In the coming days, we will consult with a physician who specializes in international adoption; and then sign our acceptance of our referral. Next to come is the federal court hearing in Ethiopia, which I'm guessing will take place in November or December. Geoff and I will travel to Addis Ababa for that. We will be able to meet our children, and then appear in front of the judge to indicate that we commit to bringing them back to Canada once immigration processes are complete. The last step in the process is the immigration process, which will begin after the court finalizes our adoption, and will take a further, estimated, period of about 10-12 weeks. Finally, at that point, we will be able to bring the children home. You are all, already, invited to the airport for that occasion!
I sit here crying (again, still) as I near the end of this announcement that Geoff and I have waited over eight years to write. So many things are going through my head as I remember bits of that journey: I think about the vision I had as a teenager that I would someday parent a boy of African birth (whose face has finally taken on the appearance of our little Mathewos); the grief of infertility and the decision to adopt 8+ years ago; the miracle of Matthew's birth; the hope that was wrapped into each adoption homestudy that we completed; the utter despair of last year's July when Imagine Adoption declared bankruptcy and we thought our dreams were finished; the gratitude that I feel for those incredible people who put Imagine back together again; the beauty of relationships and friendships we've made along the journey; the ups and downs of the endless waiting; and, of course, the joy of this outcome. The pain of that wait hasn't disappeared for us because of our referral; that wait has shaped and changed us, and deepens now our feelings of thanksgiving.
Words are not enough. The God who knows our innermost thoughts and needs and dreams has been faithful. Why He has chosen us to parent these children instead of one of the other many families who are waiting to create or complete their families through adoption, I'm not sure. But we are thankful.
Thank you so much, all of you, for being our supporters along this journey so far: for praying for us; for thinking your best thoughts for us; for giving us a boost the many times we've needed it; for celebrating with us now. To our friends and labourers at Adoption Options and Imagine Adoption, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for working towards yesterday's big news - we are so grateful.
We're not sure why we've had to travel this road towards completing our family, but we are mostly thankful to God for guiding us along the way, and for the blessing of our three children. Three children!! Wow - does that have a great ring to it!!
I'll be continuing to track our progress here, towards bringing our children home.
Geoff and Ruth...and for Matthew (6), Mathewos (4), and Elfnesh (2)