Part 6: Fighting for Freh!
Thursday. I didn’t see Frehiwot in the hospital this day last year. I was really feeling cruddy and Sten’s parents were keeping her pretty entertained at home. I missed the kids. I was really missing Jenna and Freh because I hadn’t seen them much at all over the past almost two weeks.
This day stands out in my mind for one major reason. It was another big, scary event in my life to date in which I was left with no answers. The doctors had made their rounds telling me once again, that they had no real idea what was making me so sick. My blood work was a mess, yet the diagnostic tests were all looking pretty good. This felt so eerily familiar to 2010, when I laid in a hospital bed with fluid in my lungs and in heart failure and not one doctor, not even the attending cardiologist at Johns Hopkins could give a reason for me being so ill. I remember praying out loud in my hospital bed on several occasions in 2010, for God to reveal the cause of my sickness, for a plan to be put in place that would get me out of that misery and back home to my children and Sten. In total, I spent 40 days in the hospital.
My family was worn from trips to Baltimore and juggling life, trying to maintain some sense of normalcy. But, wow! Did people show up to help! For eight straight weeks, we had every meal covered. I was bathed in so much prayer, and loved so perfectly by the Body, His people. Every need was met, so perfectly. Never in my life to that point had I ever been so close to the Lord.
I had opportunity to share scripture with nurses and doctors, to talk about life, to really consider my purpose. We were waiting at that time to be matched with a baby from Ethiopia. I remember praying for the child that God had already chosen to be ours. I asked for protection over her little life. (I later came to know that she was born on a day that I was re-admitted to the hospital and I had thought so long and hard about her that day, praying that I would get through whatever was causing me to be so sick and that we wouldn’t have to tell our agency to put us on hold)
After three months of in and out of the hospital, I started to get better and was finally home to stay. But, the Lord knew how to keep me right there, depending on him. Struggles with a teenage son, extensive physical therapy for a neck injury….all daily reminders of my complete dependence on him for my life. So many things were without reasons. Why had I been so sick? Why did I fall and hurt my neck so bad? Why was our son rebelling so terribly?
All the while, He kept whispering for me trust him fully. I did my best, working on my fears and anxieties everyday. And then we received the call that we had been matched with a 6 month old girl in Ethiopia! It was a day I will never ever forget. The kids were all so thrilled and excited! I went to work and my friends there cried with me. I was in love with Frehiwot from the first thought of her in my heart, but to finally see her big brown eyes and her sweet face, I was all in. Head over heels, people!
Getting through her adoption process was brutal. the enemy was trying to steal away any joy or glory throughout the entire 7 months until we brought her home. Nov. 15, 2011 was the day we received word that the US government was not going to approve her orphan status and therefore, we could not adopt her unless we proved their information wrong. I remember I was in Walmart when I opened that dreaded email. I had called my friend Sarah whose little boy was in ET with Freh and I went into total panic mode. I had no idea what to do, who to turn to, how to even process the information in front of me. I drove home in hysterics and wept and wept at the thought of losing our girl. Being denied her because of some paperwork discrepancies. It was awful. I prayed, begging God to give us a plan, options, tangible solutions.
After hiring an immigration attorney (we love you, Kelly!) and having some divine connections made in Ethiopia, we decided that I, mom-turned-warrior, would get on a plane and go to Ethiopia to find Freh’s birth mom and get the documents I would need to bring her home. I was a tad crazy. I mean, all I had was a phone number of some guy in Ethiopia who would help with the investigation and drive me. I did’t know him from Adam then…but God gave me a peace and the courage to face the challenge and to go to the far corner of Africa and get what I needed to bring Frehiwot home. As it turns out, that guy I was so afraid of, turned out to be one of the most God-fearing, loving, giving men I will meet this side of Heaven. Ephrim and his wife Yeshi are considered family now. We love them so deeply and stay with them everytime we travel to Ethiopia! Ephrim and I had amazing success on our trip to Assela to find Freh’s birth mom. As he calls them, divine appointments, were happening left and right on our trip.
Think for just a second about how logistically impossible what I did was. Small village on the other side of the globe with a man I had never met and we got every single piece of information we needed to get Freh home! (the delays that followed were because of paperwork and translation snafus) But, because I fully relied on the sovereignty of God, and trusted Him with the people he had placed in my life, we did it!
So many times we are faced with uncertainty. Just like it was for us this day last year. We had just been in Ethiopia to adopt Mihret, had learned of her brother and agreed to become his family as well. I was there, in that dang bed AGAIN, with doctors scratching their heads, not knowing. So much out of my control. And I surrendered right there. I laid my burdens down and let him do what he does so well in my life. Put pieces together. Place his people, with servant hearts and open arms right here, in my life to bear the burden alongside. That is a true, divine gift. Look around at your life. There are people in your midst that are not there by chance.
The true divinity in this is when we can literally throw our arms up, risking it all and give it over to Him. The one who knows us more intimately than our own mothers. Laying there in that hospital bed, I knew I had to give up control of whether or not the girls’ hair wash brushed and if the boys had brushed their teeth. If Abe had clothes to wear to the upcoming Bat Mitzvah of his dear friend, Mia. I had to trust that all of those details would be worked out.
Now, almost one year since losing the precious child for whom I trusted God when man said I could not have her, I have had to literally force myself to continue to trust Him. I have to know, without a doubt, that HE KNEW. HE KNEW that she was only going to live to be 4 days shy of two and a half. He knew. And he used me and Sten to get her here, into THIS family, so that her days could be filled with love. I ask myself almost daily, WHY US? Why did you use me to go there and fight so damn hard, only to have to kiss her cold forehead good-bye just 15 months later?
And always, Trust. The words is right there in my heart all the time. Trust Him who knows you. Trust in the master plan.
I cry the hardest at night and when I am in the car alone. Recently, I just got so so mad at God and had to pull the car over because I was yelling and screaming and crying at Him. I want so badly to see the other side. To see the full picture. To know the why. I got myself together, pulled back onto the road and when I switched the radio back on, a voice on the station read this verse “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost” Romans 15:13.
All joy and peace in believing. So, in believing in His work, I will have joy and peace? Well, it’s a start. Sure better than allowing myself to think that this will kill me or that I will never really live again. Believing that I will hold a baby in my arms again. Believing that my children will be better, not bitter. Believing that my marriage will persevere when we are both beat down by grief. Believing that all of my children will one day trust Him the way I do. Believing that Frehiwot is more perfect now than she was here. Believing that I will sink my face into her luscious curls again, one day, in eternity.