But seriously, how fun it is to see old friends and try to catch up on one another's lives - even if it's only in sound bytes!
We took a picture as we were all leaving to feed or nap our children. Okay I took about 20 pictures because those wiggly ones would not sit still!
This is the clearest photo I have of all four of them:
The rest look like this:
And then Owen was done, Eden was trying to escape Lila's death grip and Afsana was just staring off into space because we were infringing on her nap time.
It was such fun. Lila kept saying, with pure glee in her voice, "There's so many babies!" That's my girl. I love my beautiful friends and their sweet kiddos. Lila, you and I have a good life, girlfriend.
On the way home, Lila was quiet in the car. Then, out of the blue, she said:
Mommy? Do you know where is my heart?
Do I know where your heart is?
Yeah. My heart is with God because God loves us!
Your heart is with God because God loves us?
Who taught you that?
Jesus told me that.
Jesus told her that. That girl just floors me every time with this stuff. Of course, I don't know if someone taught her that (her sweet teachers at school? her awesome grandparents? her daddy?) or if perhaps that's her reinterpretation of our conversation a few days ago when I answered her question, "Where's Jesus?" He's here with you. In your heart.
|My girl and her Daddy.|
I'm really desperate for His voice these days. We are overwhelmed with our options for our adoption and we still haven't made a decision. Last week, we found a little guy on a waiting list in Ethiopia, but his needs were more severe than we thought and more intense than we feel comfortable saying yes to at this point. So we kept looking.
Then, we found an agency that has a really short wait time for Ethiopia, and our hearts soared with hope, imagining receiving a referral in just a few months! But we just couldn't make it sit right in our hearts. How could they have such a short wait when all other agencies are seeing a longer and longer wait? They could never quite give us a clear answer that satisfied all of our questions and when it came down to it, we just didn't have a peaceful feeling about it. It was really frustrating because we kept searching for something concrete to point to and say, "This isn't right." But we never found it. We just had this feeling of unease. Why is their wait so short when everyone else has a wait of at least a year?
Let me take a second to explain something. I want to be clear about this, because I know it can be confusing if you are not in the adoption world and it's one of the most asked questions I get: Aren't there millions of orphans in Ethiopia? Why do you have to wait so long when there are so many children needing families? The answer: The long wait is NOT due to a shortage of orphans, it is due to a shortage of PAPER-READY orphans.
There are 5 million orphans in Ethiopia. There are more children without families than there are families to adopt them. But, for good reason, one cannot adopt an orphan without a clear, documented trail that leads to the answer of the question, "Why is this child in an orphanage?" If a child is abandoned, there are interviews conducted of the person or people who found the child. If a child is relinquished, there are birth mother/father/uncle/grandmother interviews that clearly show that a child's family is unable to care for him or her. There must always be a clear answer to that question before a child is adopted. If there is not, then an answer must be found and until then, the child remains un-adoptable.
Perhaps the child was placed in orphanage care because the mother could not care for the child now, but hopes her state of poverty or illness will improve enough to be able to parent her child again in the future. Perhaps the child's parents have died, but there are living relatives who have not yet been contacted and who may be able to care for the child. There are a hundred different scenarios and each must be clearly documented before a child's orphan status is decided. These documentations require time and money and resources that are not easily available in a country like Ethiopia.
So children wait. Families wait. We wait.
And if someone isn't waiting, then there is a high likelihood that some important step is being skipped over - whether for amoral reasons or not, we don't know and we're not necessarily suggesting that something unethical is going on with that agency. But we do know that we do not want to risk being party to anything questionable. And when it comes down to it, the short wait is...suspicious. We can't explain why, but we just don't feel comfortable moving forward without a clear, reliable, reason why they aren't experiencing the slow-down which is ubiquitous among all other agencies. As much as we might want to suspend our accountability and trust the system and have a baby home within the year, it just doesn't sit right. So, we closed that door.
And once again, we wait and we pray and we research and we process. My phone has been dying at 3:00 in the afternoon because I'm using it so much talking to reference families, agencies, our social workers and adoption consultants. We are asking questions anew: What special needs should we consider? Is there another country we feel drawn to? What is our timeframe? How will this decision affect Lila? Do we have the funds for that program?
We are open to other countries. We are seriously considering China waiting children (our agency has a reputable program and there are many children available with special needs we feel comfortable and equipped to parent). We have looked into other countries as well - Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Russia.
But, to be honest, I still love Ethiopia. I still walk around our house and see the map of Ethiopia framed by our door, the cool print of the Ethiopian bus that my friend Heather gave me, the puzzle we are still collecting sponsors for, the souvenirs we've saved from our trip in 2008. I still imagine our Small One from Ethiopia sharing a room with Lila.
I am still praying that the Lord is making a way for us to bring home one of the 5 million children there without families.
Make a way, Lord. Please, make a way.