Our adoption wait of 6 plus years is coming to an end. And at this moment we are not sure of what the outcome will be. We have renewed our paperwork the maximum number of times under the old (pre-Hague) system, and for us to renew again before our paperwork expires on August 22 would require us to start all over again under the current system of forms. We have decided that we will not renew again.
Charly and I talked about these major adoption decisions over the phone, as he had returned earlier to Gansu and I was still in Tianjin. It was much easier to talk face to face after I got back to Lanzhou last week, and even better when our kids joined us when they returned from TCK camp a few days later. And while we don’t all have the same perspective, we have listened to each other’s hearts and feel more united as a family. Together we have looked both backward and forward, to the unknowns and the mystery of our adoption journey, and accepted that there are no easy answers.
Last Friday CCAA told us they would check again on the current situation in Gansu to see if there might be some way of fulfilling our specific request of two orphans from this province. We are now waiting to hear back from them, and are prepared to change our request to a single child if the answer we receive is no.
Our time frame is tight, and even though CCAA told us they could match us quickly if we change our request to a child who is available right now, we know it won’t be easy to get everything done to complete our adoption before we leave for the US. We don’t have our plane tickets yet, but we are hoping to get to Kansas City a few days before we meet CJ there on August 17, after his one month wilderness program, and drive him to Notre Dame for orientation.
I am thankful for the words a friend shared with me back in Tianjin after listening to my update on our adoption situation. She said that when I talked about our tight time frame and how long we would choose to wait for God to fulfill our specific request of the past 5 ½ years before we would change our request, my tone of voice made her think of the story of Saul who got anxious and didn’t wait for Samuel to arrive before offering the sacrifice. (1 Samuel 13)
The past few days I have reminded myself of her gentle rebuke when I have been tempted to get anxious that our time is going to run out and we won’t end up adopting after all. God is in control. And He is good. And even if our adoption doesn’t get completed, His plans for us are still good.
Some friends and I had an overnight retreat together during my last week in Tianjin to finish our year-long discussion of Larry Crabb’s Finding God. I was especially challenged by this quote from the end of his book:
“You cannot control your life. You are therefore free. You are not trapped by the need to arrange things as you want. Trust me more fully than you ever have before. Do what I am leading you to do, even though the risks from your perspective are enormous. I am thoroughly good, and I am good enough to trust thoroughly.”
Am I trusting God thoroughly in our adoption? Even with what I don’t understand? When I want so much to take action and “arrange things as I want,” Lord, help me to wait well.
Kristin Swick Wong’s book Carried Safely Home, about what God taught her through the challenges and delays of her two adoptions (Benjamin and Josiah) from Vietnam, has been hugely encouraging to me this past week. I really appreciate her honesty in sharing her struggle with prayer, as I have faced similar questions of how to hope and how to pray in faith when I feel clueless about what God is doing and what His ultimate plans are for our adoption.
“What should I hope for? Is preparing for the worst when praying for the best doubting God? I still earnestly hope that Benjamin will be able to join our family. With so many indicators that it might not happen, conventional wisdom says to prepare for other outcomes. But can I prepare for another ending and still pray with faith for him to come home? If we end our prayers with “Your will be done,” is it a mark of faith or a hedging of bets, in case what we’ve just prayed for doesn’t happen?”
She writes about her inspiration from Simeon and Anna, as they waited in hopeful anticipation of seeing the Messiah. (Luke 2)
“Simeon and Anna show us faithful waiting, a waiting that does not know the time or means of fulfillment, that worships the Lord while it waits, ever alert for his appearing.”
“Our opportunity for waiting well is now; when Jesus arrives, it will be over. He tells us to think about how we wait, alert for his coming while we worship and work for him. Perhaps we can take trials as gifts, exercises that teach us to keep oil in our lamps, so that we do well for the wait that matters most.”
I can relate to Wong’s reflections on her lessons of being stretched during her waiting.
“I know that this difficult time has given me opportunity to grow nearer to the Lord in new ways. I wonder if I learned everything I could. Did I cherish this discipline and not despise it? Will there be lasting effects from this chapter of my life as I move into the next?”
I don’t really know all that God has done in my life the past 6 years of our adoption journey. And I feel doubtful that I learned everything I could. Sometimes I feel so lacking in faith and trust. Has God truly changed me and shaped me more into His image?
Wong says, “All who choose to enter an adoption choose to open themselves to pain. We can choose to embrace the grief inherent on the journey, letting it mold us to be more like Jesus. We need not deny pain. We need not oversimplify complex questions. We need not fear when something in God’s word or world is difficult to understand or embrace. These heart-struggles can push us to new ground in our relationship with God. May we be given grace to accept such struggles when they come, and not shrink back from where the Lord wants to bring us. In both joy and grief, may we recognize the gifts he offers us. Though it may be hard to sing in the thick of distress, at the end we will certainly look back and declare “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”
I am thankful for Wong’s reminder, that even when I have been faith-less on this journey, God has never stopped being faithful. I want to echo her words:
“I am thankful for the trials and tears of the adoptions and for the tumult that may still come. They reveal my poverty of faith, leading me limping into the arms of my Heavenly Father. God gives special treasures in times of weakness and pain. I would not bypass those difficult times if I were given the choice now because of the riches that have come with them.”
“I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:13-14)