My mother has been bothering me for years to write a blog. Every year I have the same answer… “What would I have to say that people would want to read?” I tell her when I have an answer for that question, I will write a blog. I seriously don’t know how people have time to write them. I don’t even have time to take a shower. Literally. It’s a problem. I don’t know how all these women out there write blogs. Not only are they writing blogs, they are writing blogs about all the crafts and food they make. How are they finding time for that? And most of them have more than one child. I only have one, and I need a shower, badly.
Now, I have something to write about. It’s been a long time coming and I stay up at nights thinking about it. I have been waiting for the perfect time, and I realized, there is no perfect time. I have to stop wasting time and do it …now. Four years ago, I went to Africa. Four years ago I made promises to people there that I would not forget them, that I would tell their stories. Four years ago. What have I done in four years?
My mom thought of the title “Before and Africa” and I actually love it. There are a lot of things my mom and I agree on, but usually when she has an idea “for” me, I politely turn her down. But this title struck a chord in me. I thought about all the blogs out there about style and fashion and craftiness and I thought about how my blog would probably be the antithesis of that. Maybe I do always buy the same long sleeved shirts at the GAP every three years when the old ones get holes in them. Maybe I do still have the same tennis shoes I bought for 30 bucks 6 years ago. Maybe I do only get my hair cut once a year. Maybe I am in desperate need of a style makeover, but I think this blog is more of a before and after of my soul. My soul before and now my soul (after) Africa…
So thanks mom, for the title and for recognizing there has been a change in me and that even though I have a hard time finding the words, it’s time to start trying.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Timeline

There's been so much time since we held our boy...at times I feel numb to it. Like will I even be excited when he comes home? I know it sounds awful but he doesn't know us, and we don't know him...and it's been this way for three years. There's a four year old little boy across the world that I identify as my son, but in reality...he doesn't speak our language, he doesn't love us yet like we love him, he might even be scared of us when/if he comes home. He might be scared of a lot of things. The day we have been waiting three years for, will be a traumatic day for him...when he leaves all his little four year old body has ever known. 

So instead of letting myself feel all of that I shut it down...and I try not to think about the implications of that day actually becoming a reality. But some days I still close my eyes and feel his little body asleep on mine. I can smell him and feel his shallow breaths...and in those moments, I know the hard days (if we are blessed enough to have them) will be worth it because I will get to hold my little boy again and breath him in.

I realize now I can't protect any of my children from the what the world throws at them...but I will love them
fiercely and hold them when they can't take it. When it hurts too bad. When the grief is overwhelming. I'm no expert, but I've certainly learned a lot about pain. And maybe that is the most important thing to come out of this waiting, maybe that is something I will share with him. Yes our grief will be different...I longed for him and he may be longing for a life he leaves behind. But we will both know longing. Deep guttural longing that makes you feel so alone.

For him, as it has been for me, life will be busy and he won't have time to feel it always, but when the world gets quiet, that's when he will feel the isolation, the loneliness. I know this because that's when I feel
it; in the night when I wake from a dream of him or when I lay under the stars of Max's bunkbed feeling the emptiness of an incomplete family, and the glitter in the stars magnifies in my tears and spills out melting down the sides of my face. I feel it when the world gets quiet, and maybe that's why I don't like to be alone like I used to...I don't want to feel it. And although I can't keep the grief from creeping into his little body, I will be there so he doesn't have to feel alone. And I will tell him how while his mommy waited for him to come home sometimes she felt so alone that her whole body ached. That she cried for him and prayed for him every night. And maybe that will make him feel less alone. And I will tell him that when I felt the most alone, and when it hurt the most, I still had Jesus by my side and that he can too. That He was mommy's hope. Even though I will always grieve my time lost with my sweet boy, I never walked alone.
When the world felt so lonely, I didn't have to hope in the world.  I could hope in what was bigger than the world.

“He shot his arrows deep into my heart.  
The thought of my suffering and hopelessness is bitter beyond words. 
I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss.  
Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this:
The unfailing love of the Lord never ends!  
By His mercies we have been kept from complete destruction.” 
Lamentations 3:13, 19-22

The other day I sat down and decided to write down every significant moment in our adoption journey.  Frankly when people ask questions now, I am starting to lose track.  We have been on our adoption journey for 7 years.  We have known our son for three of the seven years.  When I actually wrote it all out, it sure did look like a big chunk of my life I have been fighting for something that, at this point, I am not sure will ever happen.  This has hit me hard this week. It's actually pretty hard to be hopeful for the next steps when I look back at how many we had to take to get here. But I also look back at those steps and see the lessons God has given me along the way.  I am not the person I was 7 years ago when we started this.  His mercies have kept me from complete destruction...

So here it is if you are interested. The significant events for the last seven years of our pursuit to follow God's calling to adopt. 

THE TIMELINE

March 2010- Start adoption paperwork with first agency for Ethiopia
June 2010- Almost complete homestudy
July 2010 - Find out we are pregnant put homestudy on hold
March 2011- Max is born
May 2011- Move to Indiana -Find out our agency closed Ethiopia program
May 2013- Find new agency and start homestudy process over because we moved states and had a baby- originally decided to adopt from Uganda then changed to Democratic Republic of Congo
September 12 2013 approved for i600a
September 25 2013 DGM announced suspension on the issuance of exit permits for adopted children (basically withholding the one piece of paper legally adopted children needed to leave the country)
October 2013 Sent our Dossier to Democratic Republic of Congo
December 31 2013 Receive our referral (first pictures of Moses at 9 months old)
January 29 2014- receive updated photos of Moses
July 25 2014 Moses moved to foster care in Kinshasa receive picture of him. He is moved to sunshine house
August 10-22 2014 Travel to Kinshasa to meet Moses
August 15 2014 Receive final adoption judgement from DRC courts
August 25 2014- received photos of Moses at sunshine house with our pics and toys we left him
September 2014 – receive a call that Aunt has taken him back to Bandundu (kikwit) That our adoption is probably over
April 15 2014- 171 Members of Congress sent a letter to the Prime Minister and President of DRC calling for a resolution of the adoption crisis
July 3-5 2014 - Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Biden, traveled to DRC and requested exit permits be issued.
July 8 2014 House of Representatives passes Resolution calling on DRC to end the suspension of exit permits
July 16 2014 Kelly Dempsey testifies to House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa regarding the Department of State’s bias against DRC adoptions and its poor performance in responding to the DRC crisis.
July 16 2014 167 Members of Congress send a letter urging President Obama to engage President Kabila to resolve the crisis
January 2015- Receive photos of Moses who we had not seen since September 2014
January 5 2015- Update our homestudy in Indiana AGAIN
February 9 2015- Approved by governor to move Moses back to Kinshasa but he insists we get approval from DGM (who does not approve)
April 21 2015- Family agrees Moses can move back to Kinshasa in foster care (still waiting on DGM)
May 4 2015- receive one photo of Moses (whom we hadn’t seen a photo of since January 2015)
May 17 2015- Moses has umbilical hernia surgery without our knowledge
May 30 2015- Move to Michigan start homestudy process over AGAIN
February 21 2016 Lucy is born
March 30 2016 – Moses 3rd birthday
March 31 2016 – sent notice that we were on the list approved for an exit permit
June 29 2016- Hired a private investigator (didn’t trust everything our agency was telling us)
July 26 2016- received pics and video of Moses from Private Investigator (whom we hadn’t seen since May 4th 2015 a year and two months earlier)
October 2016- File our i600
November 2016- Update our Michigan homestudy AGAIN
November 2016- Sent a request for more evidence (RFE) from state department (they want a corrected birth certifitcate for Moses and death certificate for his bio mother)
December 16 2016 Our agency is debarred for three years.  Endless phonecalls/emails about what this means for the finalization of our adoption
January 7 2017 Sign on with our third agency
January 9 2017 Receive final documents for i600 request for evidence and send them out to be translated
January 11 2017- Send final documents to USCIS and await final decision of approval or denial of our i600 petition for orphan status
January 18 2017- Start Passport paperwork
February 1 2017- Sent out last RFE paperwork and contract with new agency to state department
February 13 2017- State Department confirms receipt of RFE paperwork and start of i600 processing
February 21 2017- Received approval for i600a (again) Lucy's first birthday
Currently - awaiting approval or denial of our i600 which will determine if we move forward with the adoption or if it is officially over

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