When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. Henri Nouwen
Fall is a busy time for our family both physically (as I think it is for everyone) but also emotionally. I’ve come to refer to it as anniversary alley. I will say though that while we have all these “dates” in the fall, our boys are in my head and on my heart every single day – and I mean that literally. Sometimes I wonder if it will always be that way. I think it will and, honestly, I hope it will – even though it probably sounds exhausting to the rest of the world. And, after all these red letter days, we head into Thanksgiving which, frankly, is sometimes hard to swallow. Don’t get me wrong – we have many many things to be thankful for and we are… but some days when I’m feeling a little selfish, I’m probably not as generally “thankful” as I should be.
However, one thing that I am very thankful for is Faith’s Lodge… and we have just returned from a weekend stay there. Most of you know what Faith’s Lodge is but for those of you who don’t… certainly take the time to Google it… it is a retreat for (as Bob puts it) “over qualified parents” such as ourselves that have lost children. We are very thankful that such a place exists and we are even more thankful for our Faith’s Lodge extended family. As we all agree, it is a bad club to be part of but we are glad to have each other. As you can imagine – the conversations that happen at the lodge are often heavy but I really did notice this time that perhaps the biggest thing that happens there is just listening… and knowing that you cannot fix what’s been broken but that you can listen and perhaps help to absorb the pain. The picture that I’ve included today shows the painted heart stones that stay in the garden at Faith’s Lodge for Eric and Jacob. Sadly they are surrounded by hundreds of other brightly painted rocks. It is a heart breaking but beautiful sight to see.
And so, the question that is likely on everyone’s mind… “what’s happening with the adoption?” Well, we are one document… yes, one document away from finalizing our package. The package is a dossier for Ukraine which requires a bunch of documents – health reports, marriage certificates, tax returns, petitions, powers of attorney… etc, etc, etc. It is, in fact, reminiscent of buying a house. You collect varying numbers of originals of these documents, have them notarized, have copies of them reviewed here the states, have copies of them reviewed in Ukraine and THEN you get the go-ahead to send the originals to Richmond to be apostilled. What is that you ask?? Well, that is where every notary stamp gets stamped – a powerful stamp to say the least. I’m pretty sure the next step up would be a presidential signature. And after all of that, you send these documents to Ukraine to be translated and you await an invitation to travel. And that’s when the fun really begins…
As I mentioned in the last post, we will be required to make three trips to Ukraine. The first trip I believe will be the longest and will involve a lot of paperwork. We will spend the first half of the week in Kiev with Dima (who you will remember from our Mariya days) and the last half in Donetsk where we will be met by Angelina (the facilitator at Sam’s orphanage) and where we will finally get to meet Sam! And I must say that with all this paperwork and waiting… a tiny little seed of anticipation has started to grow in my heart and that feels really good. Truthfully when we decided to move forward with this I was having a hard time being “excited” or “psyched” – mostly I was wondering just how big and close the red flag needed to be in front of my face for me to see it. But still, I felt that this was bigger than my own apprehensions… however well grounded and completely reasonable they were. And so, I went forward with the many sheets of paperwork, all the while shaking my head and wondering what on earth we were thinking. Truth be told… I’m still not sure… but today I am starting to feel excitement. Perhaps the season of Advent will have a little extra meaning for us this year.
I picked the above quote today because it occurred to me as I was typing this entry that not once, did any of my family or friends or anyone just happening upon our story question our resolve to move forward even after our hosting experience… not once! Now, I would imagine that different conversations were had outside of our presence (we likely were having the same conversation in our house), but to me – you listened, you got me through tears, you laughed at all the right parts of the story and you shared my anger and frustration… and when we turned around and said “in spite of all that… we’re moving forward, meet Sam” you rebounded with excitement and faith. That is amazing and we are thankful for that.
And finally, throughout all of this, we continue to have folks asking what they can do to help us along our way. And, as I sit here pressing these keys… I still wrestle with this decision… but the fact that you are reading this means that I have clicked the “post” button and we have decided to take the advice of our placement agency and some good friends that we should initiate a fundraiser to try to cover travel costs. I am having a very hard time with this because so many people have done so many things for us over these last several years. The receiving end is not a very comfortable seat for me to occupy. However, international adoption is a costly endeavor and there’s no way around that. In the end, we will work out whatever costs there are and figure it all out. However, for those of you who have asked… this is a very real way to help. We have setup a page through an online service that was recommended to us – the link is https://www.youcaring.com/AFamilyForSam.
But please do know, however, that your friendship, support and prayers keep us moving forward. And that is something that we are most thankful for.
more to come…