I’m Tammy, a 50-something single woman who changed her life 4 years ago with the decision to adopt from Ethiopia. My son, Zion, was 12 months when I took custody. After spending 2 months there fighting through paperwork obstacles, we came home to Florida.
When I was asked to share about adoption, the good and the difficult, it was hard to put pen to paper as what I have to share changes as each day passes. I went back to my adoption blog to gather my thoughts, and WOW… so many things I had forgotten now that we are home. So, I wanted to do a timeline view, not of the steps, but of the emotions. The struggles at each stage may be unique for me, a single woman, but the one constant through it all is not unique at all.
This stage was full of excitement. I had made a decision and started the process! My mind was full of pictures of how this would go, what my child would look like, what kind of mother I would be. Thanks to my God for opening my heart to the need, for giving me the desire, and for filling me the courage to start this journey. A single woman, in the prime of her life :-), adopting a baby… talk about needing courage. Never did I realize that adoption would be hard. I thought, naively, that I’m doing God’s will… Who could stop that? Little did I think about the obstacles the devil would try to put in my path. Little did I think that maybe I was trying to earn grace, and not fully trusting in HIM to provide. I’m a do-er. Independent, do it myself kind of woman. Learning the hard way that I couldn’t do it alone was one of my first hurdles.
Unless you are independently wealthy or have been saving for years, funding adoption will be a challenge you have to figure out. I bought a house and rehabbed it to raise money. It wasn’t enough. I sold sheets, personalized towels, did garage sales, puzzle pieces, and prayed that each dollar would be provided. This was a lonely time. Asking others to walk beside you on your journey can be tricky. I realized then that nobody understands who hasn’t been here. They don’t understand that my heart hurts for a child I have never even seen. That my desire to help these kids is stronger than my desire for anything for myself. That being ready to adopt and not having the money to fund it is excruciating. It’s like nothing I have ever experienced before.
This adoption journey is a crazy test of faith. A few steps forward, then stop. A small glimpse of hope, then darkness. A feeling of community, then loneliness. I have to say that my picture of how this would go is NOTHING like this. Funny, huh? I guess there were some lessons for me to learn along the way.
Life goes on when you are in the adoption process. It goes on at lightning speed. I sat on Facebook and watched people start their journeys, meet their kids, bring home their kids, have 1 year anniversaries… and still I waited. It seemed so unfair. Even before I saw his face, he was growing up without me. It’s not so much about me, but he is growing up without a Mom. That hurt. Although I know the nannies love these kids, there is only so much they can do. How many of the kids in the orphanages have birthdays that nobody remembers? How many have never been sung to and had a cake in honor of their day? Some days it was just too much to think about. But God is Good. Through the good and the bad. He was preparing me for the mountains ahead.
Habakkuk 2:3 “For still the vision awaits its appointed time; t hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. “
Psalm 46:10 “BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD”
The enemy is hard at work in adoption. He is hard at work when you stand up for God and do his work. I guess I am proud that he considered me a threat! When you are adopting, you will have storms. Things will break, finances will be challenging, people will be difficult, situations will look impossible. But the message I received from a dear friend in one of my storms was ‘It is Coming’ (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)… For everything there is a season. Of course, I thought it was GOOD news that my baby was coming. Hindsight makes me wonder if it wasn’t more of a warning or hint to ‘get prepared for what is to come’.
My storms included LOST Dossier documents (if you have adopted, you know how devastating that was), authentication mishaps, plumbing backups, missing court submission before the rainy season by a few days, 3 days notice to travel, no baby food in Addis Ababa!, and getting “stuck” between court and Embassy in Ethiopia, almost losing my job back home.
Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and He will make your path straight.” I wish I could have rested in this period but my faith was being tested and all I could do was fight.
Seeing HIS hand:
My wait, which was extremely short compared to others who followed behind me, was a time of growth. I am impatient by nature, but adoption does not allow for that. When you realize that you are not in control, you learn to seek HIM. Many times throughout the process, I saw Gods hands. When you get a referral, the information you receive can be pretty scarce. But there were some concerning things that I needed to consider. Looking at his face, I said YES. But reading the hard words brought about doubt. I prayed for a solid answer, one that I could not doubt. I had always planned to name my son Zion. This is the verse that was placed on my heart as I prayed for direction….. Psalm 2:6-7 “I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.” I will proclaim the Lord’s decree: He said to me, “You are my son; today I have become your father.” Obviously, I cried then said YES!
A few months later as I was in the wait for rainy season to be over, I received this verse: Exodus 14:14 “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
HIS timing was perfect, as I met my son on Christmas Day 2013. Seriously, how amazing is that?
Home at Last:
After all the trials and tragedies we finally get to celebrate the day when they finally come home. We believe in our hearts that the hard part of this journey is over, but in reality it has just started. Kids from hard places deal with BIG emotions that they don’t understand because their bodies remember the trauma of their early life even if their minds do not. They may look like any other kid on the outside, but their brains work different on the inside. We deal with learning deficits, speech delays, sensory overload or seeking, insecurities, and rages that makes life hard. As adoptive parents, we often deal with things that are unseen. We persevere when well-meaning friends and family tell us ‘all kids do that’. Or when the teachers or administrators at their school say ‘we don’t see that behavior here’…. which is true, because you are not his safe place.
I deal with things that no one will ever know or see. I thank God that my son feels safe with me, because that means he trusts me to meet his needs and never leave. Most of us don’t have a lot of support and it can be a hard road to travel. BUT, if you have the desire in your heart, please don’t let this stop you. Get educated! Be prepared! My son is the greatest gift that God has ever given me. I am blessed to be his mother. Through the good and bad, I would do it again 2,000 times! I learn from him every day. He is joyful no matter the circumstances. He is quick to forget my mistakes and full of love and affection. As each year comes and goes, we run into new obstacles but we overcome each one! Adoption is Love.