On April 23rd, we received word that the state where G and S are located within Brazil decided to suspend international adoptions – with no word on when this suspension would be lifted. No warning, no hints that there was trouble brewing, just an abrupt suspension. I read the email at a stop light on my way home from work, and then called Kimberly. Both of us were shocked and stunned, neither having much to say. We weren’t happy, but we weren’t mad either. It seemed like we didn’t feel anything, at first. I waited until I got home to process what had just happened. The numbness quickly subsided – and I cried, finally feeling the gravity of what this meant.
We didn’t talk about the email much, because I didn’t want to. Kimberly is really good about knowing when to pull me out of my shell and when to let me process. So she sat with me, giving me that perfect combination of space and comfort that only your best friend in the world can provide. She wasn’t hurting the same way that I was; she processes much differently. Kimberly processes over time – she’s more level. My “process,” to use the term loosely, can be likened to a bottle rocket. Once the fuse is lit, there is a very short amount of time before the gunpowder of emotion explodes with fiery fury.
The emotion of sadness at the start quickly ignited into a wildfire of rage. I could go on about all of the reasons why I was angry, but for the sake of brevity I will stick to the main reasons why:
- International Adoption (I’d imagine all adoptions, but I have no foundation to claim an understanding of domestic adoptions) can be an infuriating process. You bare your entire life and soul to the US and a foreign government for 6 or more months, try to get paperwork finished as fast as humanly possible, and you know what these governments do at the end of this? They give you one slip of paper and tell you to wait. No kids, no pictures, not even a parade. Just waiting. You rush as fast as you can to get everything in just right so that these governments can take their sweet time getting back to you. It can be excruciating.
- I lack faith to believe that this suspension is part of God’s good plan for Kimberly, G, S, and me. That’s harder to admit than it is for you to hear, because I’m also proud – and I really hate admitting that I’m not perfect and my faith can be shaken. Coming face to face with the very real possibility that these two boys might never be our sons (though we already feel that they are – try as we might to guard our hearts otherwise) shook me to my core. For the better part of a week I felt as though I’d been run over by a truck. Some days, I still feel like that. An endless list of un-answerable questions flowed through my head, and it was not having answers to these questions that turned my sadness to anger. A portion of this anger was righteous: directed at the broken state of this world and desiring for an end to separation and broken homes. But, if I am honest, most of it was self-serving. I felt I had been wronged, and that this wrong needed to be repaid.
Here’s the reality of all of this, though. I was simply being selfish. Kimberly and I knew exactly what we were getting into when we started pursuing adoption. We weren’t adopting some cute little sock monkey made in China.
We were adopting real people, from a real country, and real people have serious issues. Countries overreact. Children are adopted into better homes than ours. Nothing was ever promised to us, and I acted like it was. A few things began to pull me out of this death spiral of anger: Kimberly told me I was being a jerk (LOVE that woman); I shared with some men from Church how I was really feeling – not just the cookie-cutter, I’m not going to let you closer, response I had been giving – and they actually cared and hurt with me; and I opened my heart to hearing what God had to say about this. Prior to all of this I had simply been talking myself into a frenzy, convincing myself that I was justified. When I finally decided to open up, shut up, and listen, I began to see what was really happening:
“And then he said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” – Job 1:21
“Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him and said…. ‘Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing that you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.’” – Genesis 22:10-12
Job had just seen his entire fortune and all of his children wiped out. Abraham was asked to sacrifice his son, the child of promise. Neither of them flinched in their willingness to give these up, trusting that the Lord was good. Each of them was faced with real loss, and I would imagine that their hearts were crushed within them. I’m sure they had questions too, but they each sought after God. And their faith that God was in control, and that He had a good plan in place, was strengthened.
Two friends from church, a baby, a dog, and I hiked up one of the mountains off interstate 81 today. It wasn’t a long hike, but the view from the top was gorgeous.
One of these guys read from Genesis 22 today. He said he read it because it was a great mountaintop story. But for me, it was more than just a mountaintop story. It was exactly what I needed to hear. An imperfect person, hearing a story of amazing faith in God’s good plan, weary from a trying journey yet being renewed by truth.
Painful things happened to Job, Abraham, and Isaac – but God still showed them all His love (If you don’t believe me, read the end of Job or finish the story of Abraham). Suspensions are painful and they are a sacrifice, but God loves His people today just as much as He loved Job, Abraham, and Isaac. The same God who restored Job’s material wealth, birthed a people from Abraham through Isaac, and who created that valley is still at work today. He’s still at work in Kimberly, and in me. He’s watching over G and S while no progress is being made with our paperwork, and this is a better plan than any father could ever ask for.
So, as I walk my way out of this emotional valley, I do so knowing that I was never alone. My God was with me the whole way. I was never abandoned, and neither are my sons, while they go through valleys of their own.