This past Saturday marked 27 months for us on the wait list for Little Sister.
I might, just MIGHT be struggling with a bit of a bad attitude over how freakishly LONG it is taking for us to get a referral. It occurred to me last week that even if we get a referral tomorrow, that due to waits for court and embassy, and the need to make two trips over to Ethiopia after we accept a referral, Little Sister would not likely be home before our oldest, Miss Abigail starts her freshman year of high school in August. And for some reason, that milestone is hitting me hard. Maybe because Abigail has been known to ask somewhat incredulously during these past almost 3 years of our adoption process, “Mom, my little sister IS going to be home before I’m in high school….right?” And I would laugh and say glibly, “Of course she’ll be home before then, Honey!”
Except now…she probably won’t be home before then. And I feel anything but glib about it.
But, before this post descends into a negative pity-party…I feel it bears announcing that some friends of ours are actually in Ethiopia right now to pick up and bring their precious girl home. Seeing them at Gladney with their daughter in their arms does my heart a world of good, and reminds me why we are waiting, and encourages me again to be patient in that wait.
God used a multitude of things to stir my heart and Jay’s heart to consider adoption, and one of them was my old college friend, Walker’s and his wife, Missy’s adoption journey. I invite you to enjoy a peek into their day with Bethie and I’ll leave you with this:
Today I am thankful for blue sky breaking through the clouds, for hot coffee after a chilly morning walk, for old friends and time to catch up, for the fun of introducing a fourth child to the warmth and humor that is Paddington Bear (and the snuggles I get whenever I find time to squeeze in yet another chapter), and for Chicken Pad Thai.
I am thankful that food and other supplies we need (plus a whole lot more that we don’t!) are a couple of blocks away and so simply acquired. My family doesn’t know what it is to be in want for sustenance or even a treat.
I am thankful for wonderful thunder storms and much-needed rain; for coming home to a warm and cozy house after being drenched in aforementioned rain during our grocery shopping; for songs that are so happy they make me cry, and for gluten free pie crusts in my Whole Foods’ freezer case.
I am thankful for….a day of rest.
Today I am thankful for friends both old and new, those nearby and others who are far away. I am glad for sweet friends for my children…what a blessing to have kids who pop in and out of each others’ homes and feel like family. Thankful for friends who love me and encourage in this stage of life, wonderful women whom I learn so much from, and who are just a blast to spend time with. Thankful for folks who have known us a long, long time and love us still. Thankful for folks who laugh and cry with us, who celebrate joys and disappointments as they come, and who are kind enough to allow us share in the stuff of their lives as well. We are blessed.
Today I am thankful for roller skating with friends, for long trips to the library with kids, for a date night out with Hubby, for my children’s enthusiasm and joy about so many things in life.
We entered the library this afternoon while an elderly lady was leaving. She looked my brood over, thanked the two boys who’d held the door for her, and instead of the “My, you’ve got your hands full!” comment I am subjected to most every time a random stranger says something to me about our family, this lady smiled at me and said, “Oh, it is so good to see children who are happy for a change!” And I blinked a little because I was so shocked, but then smiled at her, and said thank you for saying something so kind.
So today I am also thankful for encouraging words from complete strangers, and the reminder again of how blessed I am.
Today I am thankful for all the teachers in my children’s lives. Despite the term “Home Schooling”, there is much we learn about in settings outside of our home, and a great many more teachers are involved in this endeavor than just me!
These teachers gently guide, and nurture creativity and a love for learning in each of our kids, and are a huge blessing to our family. While there is not space to mention all of them, I especially love and appreciate our piano teacher, who is fun and amazing, and who meets each child where they are, and helps them to create the most beautiful music. I am thankful that my boys have the opportunity to work and learn with a brilliant engineer who teaches them all about the science behind electrical and mechanical systems and then guides them in building all sorts of woodworking projects, circuits, electronics, and more: something I wouldn’t even begin to know how to do even if I wanted to! I am grateful for a dear friend who teaches Latin beautifully to my three oldest, since I cannot. And my little budding artist is thriving under the care and encouragement of her art instructors who are not only fabulous artists but amazing people.
My personal favorite teacher this year is not being compensated in any monetary fashion for his wonderful work with Abigail. I think that is partly because you cannot put a price on how cool it is for a 12 year old girl to enjoy learning General Science under the loving and watchful eye of her grandfather. Grandy John doesn’t seem to mind too much that he is grossly overqualified to teach 7th grade science, and the two of them are having a blast exploring the subject together. They do several experiments each week to reinforce/illustrate whatever it is they are studying about. Here is a pic I snapped of the two of them earlier this year; despite the looks of it, no, Grandy is not teaching Abigail to concoct mixed drinks in General Science!! (At least, not yet!).
Last night as our family gathered to pray together we spoke about how today, November 16, 2011 was going to mark a year’s time on Gladney’s wait list, waiting to be matched with a child we don’t know yet but are already in love with, if that makes any sense. A baby girl whom we pray for, and hope for, whose face we have not seen, whose story we don’t yet know. A tiny girl a world away whom we look forward to joining our family someday. But who, until she does, has become known around our home simply as “Little Sister”. Last night some tears were shed as we realized a full year of being on the wait list had gone by, and that we are still here, still waiting, not completely sure how or when this process will ultimately play out.
Reaching the one year mark on the wait list was never really on anyone’s mind until the recent slowdown and changes in process in Ethiopia, and subsequent delays in referrals, court processing, and Embassy approvals for many adoptions. When we began the process with Gladney back in April of 2010 the timeline for an Ethiopian adoption was very different than it is now. Once we achieved the monumental milestone of being approved to adopt, and having our dossier reach Ethiopia in mid-November of 2010, we felt pretty confident that we’d be celebrating this 2011 Thanksgiving and Christmas with another little Horne around our table. Of course that has not happened, and we continue to wait. To hope. And to pray.
That God has his hand upon this little girl, wherever she is. That He is being her provider, since we cannot yet be. That He is loving her and giving her comfort, since that is not yet ours to give.
And truly, while we wait, we see God’s hand and mercy upon our family in ways we did not imagine. While I am not saying that I think it’s good for children who are orphaned to have to wait longer for families, I do believe that God has given us the blessing of knowing the wait has been fruitful for our family, and I am grateful for that. I have had the privilege of watching my children become a little more aware of the plight of millions of orphans around the world. I have seen their eyes shed tears over the pain so many kids their own age face on a daily basis. I have seen them grow in compassion. I have seen their hearts become a little more tender to the things that truly matter in this world. Oh sure, they are still normal, selfish kids — aren’t we all?? Who wallow in wealth and struggle with contentment despite having so much — don’t we all?? Who complain mightily about the blessings they enjoy freely — and yes, I could be writing these lines about myself and not my children…but isn’t that the point?
I have to believe that wherever our daughter is, and whatever circumstances she is in, that at this time, our stories are not ready to cross paths. But that when it is time, that God will orchestrate events beautifully, and we will know with certainty that His timing is perfect. We really, really look forward to the day that we will finally get to see her face, to hear her story. To welcome her into our family and to shower her with all the love we know how to give. All the faith in the world doesn’t mean the waiting isn’t hard…it is hard. And it may get harder before we are all done.
I said I was interrupting the Thankful Posts and I am. But today, I want to leave you with this picture that came across my Google feed after a recent search on the text “In everything give thanks…”. This little boy actually resides not in Ethiopia, but in Zimbabwe. I cannot get this picture out of my head. Nor can I think of a more appropriate reminder for me and my family as we contemplate what it is to give thanks.
You know what? Sometimes in the evening when I sit down to write my “Thankful” post, I am tired or somewhat discouraged over the day’s events. So much so that if you can believe it, I struggle to find something (new and/or original, that hasn’t already been mentioned this month, hehehe) to be thankful for. Shameful, definitely, but true. I am as guilty of overlooking my blessings as the next person, I think.
Yet strangely, as soon as I stop my little pity party over whatever it is that might be getting me down, and concentrate on seeking to give thanks, something happens. As soon as I can recall one thing which happened that is quite obviously deserving (even to the pitiful) of thanksgiving, I am able to remember more blessings and more reasons to be thankful. And then, despite whatever circumstances are still true that vy for contentment in my heart, I am able to rest and remember oh yes, thank you Lord for these blessings that your hand has given me and my family. And thank you for helping me to be thankful.
Well, today, to keep it real, yes: I am weary and still a little sick, I have an awful and icky headache, I didn’t finish nearly the full slate of lessons, chores and things on my “to-do” list. And did I mention I have a headache?
But I am thankful….
I am again thankful for easy access to medical specialists, and especially to doctor friends who help loved ones get an appointment quickly with those specialists when needed. I am so grateful for dear friends whom I can just be with, and not be scintillating or interesting, but just be….and that they are good with that. I am thankful that I sometimes get to witness the compassion of my children for others — it warms my heart. I am thankful for my sweet husband, and for all that he means to me. I am thankful for Jesus, not that He saved me once, but that He keeps on saving me daily.
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Today I am thankful for my wonderful M-I-L (that’s “Mother in Love” for those of you not in the know) and her kind help and encouragement to us; for an afternoon math lesson outside that was interrupted by a glint of green in the Japanese Maple above us, and for a friendly anole lizard who tolerated a 10 year old boy’s fascination; for fried chicken I didn’t have to cook but which was better than if I had; and for oranges (again with the oranges, I know! I craved them during one of my two middle boys’ pregnancies and still can’t get enough of them!!).