|Photo via flckr / user cogdogblog|
We mailed the applications for our next Russian visas tonight. When we walked into Fedex with our envelope the guy behind the counter gave us a big "Hello! Back again. More stuff to mail?" No Bruce, we just love seeing you so much. And when we left he gave us a, "See you next week!"
Yep. See you then.
Because we basically live at their store.
He's worth it though, our little guy. Absolutely.
We're still waiting on a court date, hoping for the last week of September. We should know in the next two weeks or so.
I'm thinking about our adoption in 10 phases:
Bringing him home.
Some of the phases overlap, but they are all their own unique experiences.
Announcing- that was incredible. I think we received more congratulatory words, hugs, cards, and messages than we did when we got married. We felt like the whole world was cheering us on. My mom gave me a square yellow box with snowmen on it- about twice the size of a shoe box- to keep all our cards in. It is full of cards and full of love for our little man to read someday; to show him ho he was loved and cherished by so many before they even knew his name. Announcing our adoption will forever be one of the top 10 moments in my life.
Fundraising- we met this challenge with great apprehension. The goal seemed so lofty. The task so overwhelming. But if you've been with our story for a while you'll know we had no reason to fear. Our anxiety was punctuated almost daily by the excitement of an emailed donation notification or the thrill of seeing a check paper-clipped to the inside of a card. Every dollar was one step closer to our little man. Even now, each time we write a check to our agency or swipe our credit card for our plane tickets I take in a deep breathe and whisper a word of gratitude for all those who stood behind us, cheering us on and slipping their hard earned money into our pockets. The fundraising phase was simultaneously exhausting and exhilarating.
Home study- this phase felt good because we knew we were making progress and because we were learning so much. However, it was also quite boring. It was sort of like a college class; it equips you for a task and it is brings you closer to your goal, but it is also sometimes very dull and makes you wish you were on facebook instead.
Waiting- the hardest part. The part where we sometimes felt like we weren't going to make it. The loneliest part. The longing-est part. The part where we learned to cling to God's promises and to every present moment in gratitude for what we had. It wasn't the waiting that was so hard, but the endlessness. The not knowing if our dossier would be registered in a week or year. The constant thoughts of our little man growing up without us and no idea how old he'd be when we brought him home. The intangible emptiness. The hardest part.
Trip one- the best part so far. We fell in love with our little man. All our dreams and hopes and prayers for this adoption were met in this one little precious boy who we immediately adored. The crinkle of his nose, the weight of his body, the feel of his skin; we carry every precious memory from those four days deep in our hearts.
And now, we are in the second waiting season. I'm often asked how it is- how it is to be waiting again, having met our little man and having left him behind.
While it's not easy, I am happy to share that it is a thousand times better than that first awful endless wait. I don't feel caught in that in-between anymore; the feeling of being suspended in this state between being childless and being a mother is gone. I've met my son. He's a real person with personality and potential. He's someone I touched and held. I've wiped away his tears with my thumb. I've had his sweat on my lips from the many kisses that only a mother can give. My arms have felt tired under the weight of his body. I've sniffed his head and pulled his dirt covered thumb out of his mouth. I've told him not to eat a rotting apple off the ground. Only for 4 days and a total of less than 7 hours, but that makes no difference to me. I've mothered him. I know I'm a mom. I know I'm his mom.
The leaving him behind is hard, but it is not a desperate kind of terrible because an end is in sight. We are moving forward. We are sometimes holding our breathe with the expectation that something will go horribly wrong, but then we breathe again in prayer and trust in a God who puts the solitary in families. This my Father's world, I rest me in the thought.
The skill I learned in that first waiting season, the skill to appreciate the present moment, has carried seamlessly into this second waiting season. Today I noticed the sunlight on my kitchen table and the gentle rattling of a lid on a simmering pot of stew. I loved that moment, for the time I was in it. This is a gift God has given me- to cope with the big and overwhelming by engaging the ordinary and the small. To drive the dark and fear away by resting in the thought of rocks and trees and skies and seas- in all the wonders that his hand has wrought. The hymns of my childhood play in my heart day, after day- gifts of a Father, singing over his created one who waits- sometimes not so patiently- for his timing.
I am sharply aware that this skill of savoring the present and resting in today are not just gifts for right now but a preparation for tomorrow. For the days when late nights, big messes, and long tantrums will seek to undo me. They are God, teaching me this is how you will cope with that. In this second waiting season I am given the gift of anticipation, a season to ready not just my home but my heart and mind for parenthood. A season to put away the hurry and the busy and learn how to enjoy the life that is right now. I am amazed by the changes God is putting in my heart during this phase of our adoption. I am thankful that he is using it to prepare me for motherhood.
Anticipation. Preparation. Rest. And growth. The gifts of this second waiting season.