Updated 11/15/2012: The adoption is complete! Sweet "C", who we named Kayleigh Elisabeth is home, so I am free to put back the posts that mentioned her. No missing blog posts now!
I have heard before, that to be a mother is to forever walk around with your heart outside your body. The last 7 years have certainly proved this to be true. And for the last 2, a big chunk of my heart has been in Ethiopia.
Those of you who have followed this blog for some time will, no doubt, remember the blog posts about the little girl I met at the orphanage in Ethiopia while I was there to bring Rosie home. And, you'll probably remember that we worked for some time to try to find a way to sponsor her and get her some medical help or a care-giver to work with her one-on-one.
If you look back now, though, you'll see that those blog posts are missing. When I posted them, I had no idea that I would ever get to be saying this, but, "I can't share her picture or her legal name with you out of respect for Ethiopia's privacy rules for children being placed for adoption"!
Yes, it would seem that God's plans for sweet "C" were bigger and better than I had dared to believe they could be! And, it also seems that out of all of the families in the world, God has chosen us to have the privilege of being her family.
For those new to the blog, who have know idea what I'm talking about, or for those I haven't talked to in a while, the story goes something like this:
In 2009, while in Ethiopia to bring Rosie home, we visited an orphanage in Addis Ababa. While there, I met a little girl. She was sat back in a side room, desperately wanting to be part of the merriment going on out in the courtyard. She had some very obvious disabilities, but what really stood out about her was her determination to get to where the action was and her desire to be held. I spent my time there with her in my arms, head on my shoulder, as she rubbed my face. I lost a huge chunk of my heart that day. Setting her down and walking away was one of the hardest things I have ever done.
When I returned home, I couldn't wait for the house to be quiet. As Gareth and I crawled into bed that night, I tried to tell him about her and all I could do was cry. I so desperately wanted to bring her home with me and be her Mommy!
The reasons we couldn't were obvious. We had just adopted, we were completely broke, we had a newly-adopted daughter who was having a "challenging" adjustment period, and Gareth found disabilties hard to deal with.
But, I couldn't forget her. Each day I prayed (and many of them I cried) that God would send someone to love her. I prayed that he would send her a family. I prayed that each day God would send someone to hold her and give her the affection she craved. I prayed that she would have enough to eat.
I called our adoption agency and asked if she was adoptable and could be put on their "Waiting Child List". I was told that due to her profound disabilities, she wasn't really adoptable. So, I asked about options for sponsoring her and getting her some medical help. They kindly looked into that for me, and I liased with the orphanage director via e-mail to see if there were specific ways we could help her. Then, in a moment of desperation, I called our social worker and asked if she would approve us to adopt a child with "profund disabilities". The answer was, as it should have been at the time, that we would need to show some specific things before it could be considered.
Time passed, sponsorship options didn't seem to be working out very well, and adopting her was obviously not a possiblity because you can't very well adopt when not both parents are up for it. I believed that I wouldn't be her Mommy and began to think again about asking to be her advocate and try to find another family who could adopt her.
In July, I had several people ask about my time in Ethiopia and a couple of others ask specifically about the little girl I had blogged about. As I reeled off the list of reasons we couldn't adopt her and the other options we were pursuing to try to help her, I felt more and more like a hypocrite.
By the end of July, I couldn't take it any more and one night I nearly burst as I said to Gareth, "Why is this okay? Why is it okay to hear God's command to care for the orphans and the widows and expect somebody else to do what we're not willing to do ourselves? Why is it okay to try to throw money at a problem so somebody else can take care for it or ask to be her advocate and try to find another family to do what we're not willing to do ourselves? God made sure that on that day, in that orphange, I saw her. Not somebody else, me. He has ensured that I can't forget her, and I don't want to. I don't want somebody else to take care of her. I want to take care of her. I want to be her Mommy. God wouldn't call one of us to do something without calling both of us. I honestly believe that if He has laid this on my heart, then He'll lay it on yours, too. Will you pray, sincerely, for one month that God would show you the right thing to do. I'll pray, too, that if I'm wrong, that He will show me and remove this desire from my heart. I won't bug you about it, but in a month, I want to ask you if we can adopt her. If you've prayed about it and the answer is 'No', I won't resent it and I'll never ask you again. But, please, will you just agree to pray about it?"
Let me tell you, that was a DIFFICULT conversation. Poor Gareth. I cried so hard that I'm sure I was barely coherent, and, although after 10 years he's gotten somewhat used to my occasional hare-brained ways, I'm sure I couldn't have surprised him more. Thankfully, he agreed to pray about it.
One month later, after our monthly date, I sat in the van next to him and asked him if he'd been praying. He said he had, and then, just to torture me, he said nothing else. "Well", I prompted, "what do you think?" And the reply, "Well, I think we should go get her. What do we need to do to bring her home?"
And so, the discussions began. What were her needs? How could we meet them? How could we afford to adopt overseas again? How would we manage the medical bills? Could I cope with 4 children, 1 with "profound" disabilities? How would we cope with home-schooling? How much more income would we need? How would I cope with lifting and carrying a child who could nto walk with my already existing back problems? Were we completely crazy?
The last 4 months have seen us looking at finances, paying off our credit card, trying to finish off my nurse refresher course so we have a back-up plan for emergency income, moving to a year-round schooling plan that will accomodate breaks and therapy appointments, tightening our "budget belt" to make better use of our money, and has finally seen Gareth promoted to project engineer. The promotion yielded only a small pay increase, but it provides the potential for future pay rises and promotion.
And so, last week, we submitted the necessary paperwork and were officially approved to begin the adoption process again!
WE (yes, both of us) are SO, SO excited. Last night, as we looked at some new pictures of her that another family who had been in Ethiopia lst year sent us, Gareth said, "Can you believe, that out of all of the families who have fallen in love with her, God is going to let us be her parents?"
I'm sure that this journey has plenty of potential to be hard. International adoption is fraught with frustrations and hard things. But she is so worth it! It's been 2 years in the making, but now, in God's perfect timing, we're on the road back to Ethiopia. My heart is coming home!
P.S. Just in case you were wondering, we have chosen her name. And, I can share that with you. She will be Kayleigh Elisabeth. Kayleigh (modern Arabic) means beloved. Elisabeth (Hebrew) means consecrated to God.