Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Crazies

Beware: This is a long, honest post. Maybe not completely raw but definitely honest. Don't read on if you're prone to judge (or give flowery advice just to make me feel better). Consider yourself warned.

I officially have the "crazies." It's not a technical term, I know. It's the only word I can think of to describe how I feel these days. Our dossier (a.k.a. all the papers that make us officially able to adopt an Ethiopian child) landed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia last week.

What does this mean?

We are now "paper ready" to accept the referral of a child who matches our approved criteria.

When will you receive a referral?

I wish I knew. Currently our agency says 12-15 months (a.k.a. loooongest pregnancy ever), but our age range that we are approved for is 0-6 years. Most families are waiting on 0-2 year olds. We could get a referral faster if there were a bunch of 3-5 year olds that were available for adoption. For some reason, however, there have not been a lot in that age range available lately. So it's back to: "I wish I knew."

And that makes me CRAZY.

In the next day or two we will officially get a wait list number from our adoption agency. This is the number that says where in line we stand with the other families with our agency waiting for a referral. We'll land somewhere around number 90. I hope it might be in the 80s...but I doubt it. Thinking about this number makes me crazy. I have been looking forward for months to get our paperwork to Ethiopia and finally be a "waiting" family. It's crazy to think that we began this process more than 6 months ago and we are just now officially beginning to wait. I can't wait to get the number...and I dread getting the number. Crazy. It makes me crazy. How can I both eagerly anticipate and fully dread something like this? I do.

What happens when you receive a referral?

We get to wait again. It will take about 4-5 months from the time of referral to bring baby home. (Did I mention about the looooongest pregnancy ever?) I knew there would be a lot of waiting. I knew it in my head. My heart only recently has started to engage with this reality. And it makes my insides turn like crazy. It's not the "not knowing" at this point. I'm sure it will be the "not knowing" at some point. It's the waiting. I've considered asking our agency not to issue us a number and just call us when it's time.

Do you know what this number does right now to my crazy, crazy heart?
It makes me feel like I have some control in a situation where I have NO control.
It makes me maniacally wait for referrals for other families NOT so that orphans are given families but so that I can move up on the list.
It tempts me to question the efforts of my agency if we didn't move up enough spots on the list. 
It makes me view adoption as a consumer process where I just want to get through the line to get my kid.

You know how crazy you feel sometimes waiting in line in a crowded McDonald's when all you want is a 32 oz. fountain beverage and happy meals for the kids but you get there during a shift change or when there's only one cashier and you want to hop over the counter and just do it yourself? Or when you've blazed the summer heat at Disney to get your kid's picture taken with his or her favorite character only to get to the front when it's time for them to take a break? The cast member promises they'll be back in a few minutes...but you've waited a long time, the sun is blazing, cutie pie's lollipop ran out 20 minutes ago...and you beg them for just one more photo before the break...cause it's your turn. You lose any personal sense of pride and dignity and become crazy mama for just one snap of the camera with the creepy guy dressed up as your kid's favorite bear, tiger, or rat.

Have you ever waited in a line in a foreign country where there really is no line? You try (or at least I do as a southerner) to be cordial and keep the sense of a line but, in reality, you're dropping your shoulder just slightly to get one more step ahead in the line? You'll lean hard with an elbow if needed. And I am a nervous wreck the whole time in those types of lines. I wonder if I am going to survive the wait (and the heat, and the bodies, and the stink). I wonder if I will miss out on something if I lose a spot to someone else who gave the extra little nudge, and I wonder how much should I nudge?

The crazies. There is no other way to put it right now.  I have the crazies.

That's how the wait list makes me feel. It makes me view other adoptive families as competitors and my child as a commodity that I am due at the end of this.

I told you I was going to be honest.

So I just emailed our agency and asked for them to hold off in sending me the email revealing our number. I just can't go there. Cause I'll go even more crazy. I'll start throwing elbows. It won't be pretty. I might make it look pretty, cause I'm a southerner and a pastor's wife. But my heart right now is not pretty. It's crazy.

There is truth to rest on and consider. About the power and sovereignty of my kind and gracious God. About the sin in my heart and how this particular stage of the adoption process is revealing it loud and clear. About the child that God has foreknown would be a Friederichsen no matter how crazy the wait is.

I have had this song on a loop in my kitchen yesterday and today:

Dear refuge of my weary soul,
On thee when sorrows rise;
On thee, when waves of trouble roll,
My fainting hope relies.
While hope revives, though pressed with fears,
And I can say, "My God,"
Beneath thy feet I spread my cares,
And pour my woes abroad.
To thee I tell each rising grief,
For thou alone canst heal;
Thy word can bring a sweet relief,
For every pain I feel.
But oh! when gloomy doubts prevail
I fear to call thee mine;
The springs of comfort seem to fail
And all my hopes decline.
Yet gracious God, where shall I flee?
Thou art my only trust;
And still my soul would cleave to thee,
Though prostrate in the dust.
Hast thou not bid me seek thy face?
And shall I seek in vain?
And can the ear of sovereign grace
Be deaf when I complain?
No, still the ear of sovereign grace
Attends the mourner's prayer;
O may I ever find access,
To breathe my sorrows there.
Thy mercy-seat is open still;
Here let my soul retreat,
With humble hope attend thy will,
And wait beneath thy feet.

Thank you, Lord, for leading me to walk away from this number for now and to walk toward your good and glorious plan for me and our family. Right now, the number would be too much for me to bear. So far from our child. I will take my crazy heart and soul and wait beneath the feet of him who alone can calm my crazies. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Fly, Baby, Fly!

I asked Donny this morning if I could go away once he got home from work to just get some time out of the house. I planned on doing a little family finances and then either journaling or blogging about my sad and anxious heart waiting on our dossier to finish up in DC and finally get on its way to Ethiopia...and not knowing where in the world it was in the process. As I was referencing our credit card account for some things I was working on tonight, I saw a charge by FedEx. When I went to our Fed Ex account, I saw a new tracking number. I thought: "Great! Our dossier is finished up in DC and is headed back to our agency offices in Utah. What a relief!" When I looked more closely at the tracking reference, it said: Destination: Addis Ababa.  WHAT???!!! Not only is our dossier finished in DC, it's already back to Utah and on its way to ETHIOPIA! Can't believe it.

It's amazing...and revealing. I have been so sulky and sad for the past week just waiting on this packet of paper to head to Ethiopia. There have been some other factors that have added to my fog, but it's incredible how light my heart feels right now knowing that our envelope of "Whatever it takes to bring you home" papers only has one more trip to take...and it's finally on that final trip. If there was ever a woman living by her circumstances, look no further. It's me. Right here. Sitting in Starbucks watching people arrive at the Summit train station from a long day of work in the city, and I just want to run out there and yell: "My dossier is on its way to Ethiopia!!!!" Oh, if you had known the state of my heart a few hours ago. Sad. Sad. Sad.

Mind you, nothing in my circumstances changed today. The dossier was already back in Utah. It was being sent to Ethiopia today. We weren't having any problems with this stage of the process. All was going smoothly. I just didn't know, and it was making me crazy. This is just the beginning of the "not knowing" process. We have a long wait ahead of us to be matched with the child God has chosen for our family. May I rest, PLEASE LORD may I rest in the knowledge of your faithfulness, sovereignty, and goodness in this process when I don't know the details.

Yesterday I was challenged by Spurgeon's Morning and Evening devotion (Allister Begg edition):
I am the one who helps you, declares the LORD. (Isaiah 41:14)

It is but a small thing for Me, your God, to help you...If you had need of a thousand times as much help, I would give it to you; you require little compared with what I am ready to give. It is much for you to need, but it is nothing for me to bestow.

It was a really, really good reading. 

I thank the Lord my helper who gives more than I think I want or need. I just wanted info about our dossier leaving DC...and he gave me more. I pray I will trust the Lord my helper as he does exactly what he wants and leads us exactly how he pleases through this process. It will be for my good and for his glory. May I rest, please rest, in him.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Why So Sad?

I just can't kick this feeling of sadness. I can't figure it out. Will turns 2 tomorrow. Two. Depending on how old our adopted child is at referral, I may never have a one year old again. I'm not sure if his birthday is what is making me feel sad. I always feel so raw this time of year, remembering Will's birth. I think there is a part of me that will always be exposed and raw from what I went through with him. I went back today and read through some of Donny's blog posts from Will's days in the NICU. This was a good one. Anyway, it's a strange thing to look in the face of my darling Will everyday and feel a bit more vulnerable. He is a face of God's kind and caring hand in my life...because our days are not guaranteed, and he used Will to show me that.

We are taking the kids to Legoland tomorrow for Will's birthday. I should be thrilled...but I am so sad. Not like devastatingly sad. I just feel a little bit like I could break down at any moment. I wonder if it's our adoption. Our paperwork is in the state department of Utah right now awaiting state authentication. Then it will be off to D.C. for more authentication. After that, it will be off to Ethiopia. Once our dossier of paperwork arrives in Ethiopia, we will officially be placed on our agency's wait list and then begin the long wait to be matched with a child. We will get a number - I expect it will be in the 90s. I hope it will be in the dream is for it to be in the 80s, and I am dreading it if it is a triple digit number. Donny is good to remind me that our child is waiting for us at the end of the process, so our number will be whatever it needs to be to lead us to him/her. So I wait.

I hear of other families getting referrals, and I am thrilled for them...but with each referral I wonder more and more about who will come into our family. I wonder who God is calling to become a Friederichsen. And I am sad that there is a need for adoption. I am also sad about Russia. Since Russia is now a three trip process, I imagine orphans who are waiting on their parents whom they have already met and hugged and bonded to come back and get them...and hurting for their little hearts that won't possibly understand the terms of this abandonment...that their mommies and daddies are doing everything they can to come get them, but their President has said "no." That makes me so, so sad. We considered adopting from Russia. Seriously considered it. I have seen Russian orphanages, and it hurts my heart to envision an entire childhood in institutionalized care. And my heart is sad.

Maybe I'm sad that vacation is almost over. We have been "off" for a week now visiting Donny's family in Tampa. I don't know, maybe I miss home. I really can't tell. My kids each got an electronic handheld game for Christmas, so they have been engulfed in those and other Christmas maybe I miss more time with them or the calm of home.

I don't know. I have hope, but I feel sad. I am starting to realize how much of my life is wrapped up in my kids right it should be. I probably should get a babysitter more often. It's not always easy being home with them all the time...but as I watch them grow, as birthdays pass by, as they beat each level of Lego Star Wars on their DS and put their legos together all on their own and learn to add and multiply, I feel my heart swell with pride and rip a little in pain. The pain of knowing they are not mine. They belong to the Lord, and it is my privilege to be their Mommy. Someone asked me yesterday how I did it. How could I NOT do it? It is my greatest honor. Maybe that's one of the reasons waiting on our adoption feels so hard. When I am pregnant and waiting, there is a promise of a child, but that child is already with me. I can feel his/her kicks and hiccups. They are already with me even in the waiting. The distance and separation and unknowing in adoption feels so hard, so heart wrenching. We are in the process in adoption where we are 2-3 weeks away from being declared "pregnant." As in pregnancy, as many of my friends can attest, there is a sad reality that there is no promise of a baby. But this still feels so much harder than pregnancy, because there is a hope of a child one day...but there is no evidence of their presence. So I trust in the presence of the one who will one day bind our hearts. I trust in the presence of the one who is with us both right now. I trust in the presence of the one who will make us a family. He is all that is promised. My Jesus and the gift of salvation and the life I live now as his child is all that is I will wait for how he fulfills his purpose in me, praying that it will include a new Friederichsen at the end of our adoption wait.

This time two years ago, our family was arriving at Sea World for a fun evening enjoying the holiday lights and shows one more time. We had no idea what the next day would bring. Will's birth was so unexpected. I treasure the great gift of the unexpected plans of God that have forever changed me. I pray for the unexpected as I wait on our next child. I pray I will not assume anything in the process. I pray I will treasure everyday as our Friederichsen family of five and will wait to see God's unfolding plan to make us a family of six. May I wait without demanding my way with God. I loved my pregnancy with Will. I was so sad to see it end. May I treasure this "pregnancy" and embrace the moments the Lord has in the process.

Now I'm not as sad. Blogging has helped. Maybe it's not as much sadness as it is vulnerability. This little boy we celebrate tomorrow...his birthday...the day the Lord ripped me open unexpectedly. I've never fully recovered, and I think that's just how he has intended it.