With tears of thanksgiving in my eyes, I would like to announce that Geoff and I have received a referral for two of the most beautiful children we could imagine: a five-year-old boy; and his three-year-old sister. Matthew's single-child reign is about to come to an end...and he couldn't be happier about it!
On Monday morning, as Matthew and I were heading down to our homeschool classroom, I paused to pick up one of the portable phones. Matthew noticed, and said that I shouldn't be doing that, as we have a rule about not answering the phone while we are 'doing' school. My response was that I just felt like I needed to bring it with us, in case our adoption agency called. I don't know why I thought that, but I did. I'd already been feeling that way the previous Friday afternoon, and this time, I decided to listen to that little voice inside.
About a half hour later, at 11:00am, the phone rang, and I picked it up to the cheerful voice of our social worker asking how I was doing. I didn't even answer. I didn't say a word. Though she probably heard the hitch in my voice. She said something about how my day was about to get better, and told me that she was calling to give me a referral for two beautiful children: a boy and a girl.
Around this time, Matthew asked me if my tears were happy tears or sad tears and, when I responded with the news that we had been referred a brother and a sister for him, he pumped his fists into the air and said, "yes - finally, I get to be a big brother!" Matthew has prayed for over two-and-a-half years for a brother and a sister (with the brother being the older of the two); it's amazing to see his prayer answered in this way! Finally. Finally.
Geoff and I decided after losing our August referral that we would not announce our next referral broadly until we'd had an opportunity to have a medical consultation with our adoption pediatrician. Unfortunately, the first appointment she had available was yesterday/Thursday evening...thus the delay in making our announcement.
The children are tiny, so very tiny. There is no doubt that they have suffered from malnutrition issues. But there are none of the medical concerns that were there for our first referral. They are perfect: with spectacular eyes; perfectly-shaped little mouths; and ears that they will grow into with good nutrition. They, understandably given what they have gone through, look so sad. I can hardly wait to ease their grief, feed their little bellies, hold them in my arms.
Like so many prospective parents, our joy is tempered by the knowledge of what they and their birth families have had to go through to bring about the completion of our family. Such pain is, to me, unimaginable. These children, our children, by no choice of their own, will give up everything they know to be a part of our family: birth family; home; community; language; culture and traditions; everything familiar to and loved by them. In an ideal world, international adoption would not be necessary.
Our joy is also somewhat cautious, to be honest. It is my belief that the court system in Ethiopia is becoming a more challenging part of the process than it has ever been, even in the recent past. I no longer think that it is a 'given' that we will pass court; our adoption is still at risk. We are praying already that things will go well when we attend our court date, likely in late January or early February.
After our experience in August, of receiving and then losing a referral, I wondered if the experience of receiving another referral would be the same. The answer is that perhaps it wasn't quite the same this time 'round. Perhaps the 'phonecall shock' wasn't quite the same now. I knew a bit more what to expect, what I might feel. But the joy, and the sense of relief, were still just as profound, just as pure. And, to be honest, my first viewing of the children's faces was different this time: I fell in love instantly; could envision these children immediately as part of our family; felt that their faces suited the names that we had chosen for them. We love these children!
There have been many times in the past few months when I have wondered what possible plan God could have for our family, after the heartbreak of losing that first referral. I decided early on in the aftermath of that loss that I wanted to respond differently than I have in the past when confronted with pain or disappointment; where I have failed in the past, this time, I wanted to be God-honouring even in the midst of an experience that didn't seem fair or right. The truth of it is that God has been faithful and He has responded again to our innermost dreams.
We are so very grateful to you, our friends, and to our two adoption agencies who have worked hard on our behalf. I can't speak highly enough about Imagine - especially Val, who has been just unbelievable in her support of me in the past few months. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart!!
PS. How's that for a start to a Friday??!!