Four long years ago when we were a family of three, Elias was a toddler and we were younger with fewer wrinkles, we started the process for our second adoption. We knew the process would be long but were pretty sure we wouldn't have to wait as long as some people. I mean, we want to adopt a child with special needs so shouldn't that put us on the fast track?
This waiting has been the hardest wait of our lives. It's been a roller coaster of failed referrals (death of child, child wasn't really an orphan, agency miscommunication, plus a couple more), Ethiopia adoption changes as a whole, troubles within our agency, and just a long, long wait.
In the midst of our waiting, God gave us the incredible gift of our daughter Merin. Her name means "Gift from God" in Amharic and it is so fitting for her. I don't think I could have gotten through this wait as well without her presence in our family. She's brought such joy and grace and taught us to live in this very moment.
But still our pregnant hearts have longed for our other Ethiopian son/daughter.
In many ways, we chose this wait. It's our fault. Several times our agency director told us, "We have several healthy
children available and you are at the top of the list. Are you sure you
want to continue waiting for a child with limb differences?"
Those are really, really hard words to hear when all you want is for the journey to be over and a child in your home.
But God planted a passion and a vision in our hearts in 2005 to adopt amputee children. And in some strange way, the longer this wait has continued, the harder we've dug in our heels and refused to budge from this passion God gave us. Oh, we've questioned it, thought we heard it all wrong, wanted to give up, not adopt at all and just live peacefully and content as a family of four.
But I'm stubborn. And I really, really don't want to miss out on the best that God has for us. In this season of waiting I've grown to trust Him like never before. What used to be hands gripped tightly to a life I wanted to control are now hands lifted high in abandonment.
And that's how I know that this wait- all 1,461+ days of it- has been so worth it. Worth it because God was preparing us, freeing us up, showing us how to love each other deeper and more selflessly. Teaching me that His grace covers even the biggest disappointments. Proving to us over and over that He hears and He loves and He knows and He cares.
All of that to get us ready for her.
She has the prettiest eyes you've ever seen and a smile that is captivating. Her joy and courage will change us. Will change you. She was born without her legs and one arm above the elbow. Her limb differences are what God is using to bring her into our family, but it's not what is going to define her.
Tizita doesn't have enough leg length to wear prosthetics, so she will use a wheelchair. Four years ago I wouldn't have thought that we were the right fit for a child in a wheelchair. That just wasn't in our "plan", wasn't in our comfort zone.
So that's why every time I think about her, I tear up and am filled with incredible gratitude for the awesome work God has done in our hearts and lives to teach us to live with more abandonment and courage to risk and say yes to this crazy adventurous life that God has for us. Not because I'm capable or able, but because He is.
We don't know yet when we will bring her home. Right when the Ethiopian courts re-opened after their annual two month closure, the Ethiopian government put a temporary halt on all adoptions through our agency. Disappointment clouded my heart and I just kind of went numb, knowing that our wait is continuing to stretch out for an indefinite time period while she is there and we are here.
But then God miraculously made a way for me to go on an unexpected, last-minute trip next week to Ethiopia with my good friend Jessica Honegger. Not only do I get to meet and spend time with my daughter, but I also get to be with the Ethiopian artisans who make the Noonday Collections jewelry and be with our friends Jimmy and Rachel Gross who run No Ordinary Love ministry. My two passions- adoption and care for vulnerable women and orphans- all coming together in one trip. I keep thinking about the phrase in Ephesians 2:7 about God showing us the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us. I am so thankful.
I've packed so much into this one post, but now the story is all laid out so I can build on it in future posts. Stay tuned for stories and pictures of my time in Ethiopia next week.