Saturday, March 15, 2008

A Thousand Miles Away or Just a Mile Up the Road...Elle's Adoption Story

“God’s ways are as hard to discern as the pathways of the wind, and as mysterious as a tiny baby being formed in a mother’s womb." Ecclesiastes 11:4-6

We were FINALLY there. Finally at that point in the adoption process where you just sit back, take a deep breath…and wait. For months upon months we had waded through the paperwork swamp filling out every last bit of information on our family. The check book had been on overdrive, the fundraising had been put into place, the four-million grants had been applied for…now we would just wait.

Our dream of adopting had actually begun 10 years earlier while I was on a mission’s trip in Calcutta, India. I was devastated by the amount of orphans that were left to fend for themselves and I knew from that moment on that I would adopt someday if the Lord allowed me to. Over the years, my husband and I went on and had 2 biological sons, but in the back of our minds we knew that our adopted child would one day also grace our home.

When we heard about the Ethiopia program, our hearts immediately knew that it was the one for us. There were really no specific reasons that Ethiopia fit our family, it was just the peace that came over us that allowed us to know that God wanted us to pursue a child from this poverty, AIDS stricken country.

For months and months we studied International adoption and worked tirelessly toward pulling together our dossier. We flew an Ethiopian flag from our flag pole and as a family we began to learn the basic language of Ethiopians. We went to the library and checked out countless books on Ethiopian culture and spent our evenings reading together as a family. We laughed about differences in traditions and we learned all we could about the city our precious daughter was to come from.

We named our daughter Elle (which means “shining light from afar). We prepared for the trip by setting up childcare for our boys and opening up a credit card that earned us air miles. We had over $1000 worth of medical shots to protect us from sickness while in the country and, as any planner would, I began to make list upon list of the items we would need to travel. On the home front, we transformed our spare bedroom into a girl’s paradise and we set up the crib. Since our daughter was slated to be between the ages of 9 months – 1 year, we sold or gave away all of our baby items to make a little extra money to go toward the adoption expenses and to clear out space in the house.

We were as ready as we could be and we were anxious to get the phone call that a baby had been found for our family. Once that call came, we would only have about two more months to wait before we could go pick her up. I dreamed of all that I would do in those two months to prepare for our daughter. Once we knew how old she was going to be, we could shop for clothes and start to fill her closet. Our friends had graciously planned for a baby shower to happen once we had more details. It was such as sweet time of anticipation.

And then the phone call came…

When I picked up the phone that day, it was certainly not the call that I had expected. My heart skipped a beat as the voice on the other end identified himself as the Director of the agency. For a moment I thought, ‘this is it!’ but then I remember thinking….wait a minute, why is the director of the agency calling me? Over the next few minutes I tried to soak in information that seemed confusing at best and devastating at worst. The Director told me that they had been having trouble with the orphanage that they worked with in Ethiopia and that they were going to be cutting their Ethiopian program. Then came the words that I feared the most,

“We just don’t think that we will be able to get you a child. You should pursue other options.”

Pursue other options! What other options? For almost the past year, we had put everything we had into pursuing Ethiopia. We had been certain that the Lord had our daughter in Ethiopia! How could we pursue other options? What other options did we have? We could start over again with another agency, but we had already exhausted our finances. What was the Lord trying to say? I cried, I prayed, I cried some more….and then it hit me.

In the past months, I had often said to family and friends, “We know our daughter is out there…we just need to find her.”

In my heart, every time I said those words, I was actually thinking about Elle being “out there” in Ethiopia. But, what if that wasn’t actually the Lord’s will? I couldn’t understand why He would have had us pursue Ethiopia if it wasn’t where He wanted us (all we wanted was His will). But if I really believed that Elle was out there, then I realized that I’d better have the faith to realize that “out there” may not look exactly the same as I had once thought it did.

And then the phone rang…again…

This time the voice on the other line was of the Director of the local adoption agency right in our hometown. This was not the agency that we were originally adopting through (because they didn’t have an Ethiopia program) but they had handled our State home-study for us and over the years they had become friends since I had done some consulting work for them. The Director said, “Cyndie, I got a call from your Ethiopia agency this morning and I’m sorry about what happened.”

He then said the words that changed our lives forever.

“Cyndie, if you and Donn are willing to consider it, I think I may have a child for you.”

The next five days of our lives were a whirlwind. After two days of praying and confirming that this was the Lord’s will for our family, we officially accepted the referral. Unlike the 1 year old that we were expecting from Ethiopia, this baby was going to be born any moment and we would be bringing her straight home from the hospital! All of those feelings of being “prepared” went out the window. We had nothing but love and a crib to offer our new daughter.

On Thursday night we went out and had the boys pick out a few outfits for their new baby sister. While we were out shopping we got the phone call that our daughter had been born. On Friday morning we drove to the hospital to meet the birthmother and to hold our precious Elle! On Saturday morning our house was a buzz as friends stopped by in droves with bottles, formula, clothes and diapers!

On Saturday afternoon we brought our precious Elle home from the hospital.

We may never know all of the reasons that the Lord had us pursue Ethiopia, but what we do know is that He knew where little Elle was all along. Every time that we prayed for her safety and the safety of her birth mother, He knew who we were praying for. Every time that we dreamed of what she might look like, He knew who we were dreaming of. We have learned more faith through adoption than I ever thought possible. More than anything, we have been reminded that the Lord is Sovereign and He will show us His will if we trust Him.

Less than a week after our world seemed to crash down upon us, we were putting pink balloons on the mailbox and praising God for His goodness. As we now hold our daughter, there is no doubt in our minds that she was meant for our family. Our little Elle…our little “shining light from afar”! It turns out that she wasn’t so far away after all…it was just that we had to go to Ethiopia and all the way back home to find her.

Oh well, thousands of miles away or just a mile up the road, she’s been in our hearts all along!


Anonymous said...

Beautiful ... God is good. I loved reading this even though I know the story. Praise God for bringing Elle into your lives and ours.

Amy said...

What an amazing story! God bless you all, and especially your 'shining light.'

Laura said...

Precious, precious story. The beauty of this one is that it is real!

We are also an adoptive and biological family. The combination is of God's making, for certain.

Blessings sister in Christ. May your family continue to grow.


Mama Jenn said...

What an awesome story!!! I followed the link from Carisa's blog.

Amanda said...

That is an incredible story! Thanks for sharing! I followed the link from Carisa's blog. What an awesome testimony to God's sovereign control.