Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Big Sister's Homecoming: Initial Observations

I completely forgot how absolutely surreal it feels to land on our country's soil after the marathon of the adoption process.  Just like a mother in labor will tell you that the instant she holds God's precious new life in her arms she forgets all about the pain, the same can be said for an adoptive parent.  The second our plane touched down, a flood of emotions rushed over me.  We did it!  We are home!  The moment we have all been longing for.  The end of the paper pregnancy and the beginning of life together, with everything that will entail.  And so we go: to our new home together, with our new family arrangement, and off to explore God's creation together as we journey on a path in a broken world that is filled with God's hope, God's mercy and love, and God's promise of righting all wrongs.  For now, we simply do as he commands: love others as ourselves.  Bear each other's burdens.  As Paul states in Galatians 6:2, "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ."  When we do that, I have learned, the blessings flow.  Spiritual blessings that continue to reveal the truth of creation and Christ; spiritual blessings that instill a peace that the world could never provide.  

Now, you are going to have to bear with me here.  I am tired, probably unknowingly jet-lagged, and full of raw emotions right now.  However, there is something I absolutely needed to share.  God is amazingly faithful when we love his children.  Before coming home with Sporty and Sassy in 2010, I had so many fears, so many questions.  How would I fix her hair?  How do we communicate when our children speak a different language?  How would we get up to speed with schoolwork?  Will Sporty learn English?  Would I learn to prepare food that they would eat and enjoy?  How will our bio children react to the new arrangement?  Would we be good parents?  Would Sporty and Sassy (and now Big Sister) accept me as their mother?  Would I love all of of my children equally?  The list goes on.  You name it, I've questioned it.  Big, small, and indifferent.  

I didn't have nearly as many questions this time, because over the past seventeen months, I have watched as God faithfully provided all that we needed to get through each day, each situation, each hiccup.  When we asked, God responded.  When we humbled ourselves and relied on him, he came through.  Every time.  Still, a new child is a unique creation with a unique history and set of circumstances that led to orphan status.  I am not naive and know this road ahead will be full of challenges.  With that in mind, I simply prayed, "God, I trust you and your wisdom.  I want to be your humble servant; to love what you love and do as you would desire.  Please give us wisdom and patience and calmness and peace.  Please provide clear direction and all that we need to help us to help each one of our children realize the gifts and talents that you have given them for your glory.  Help us to be the best parents we can be so that our children grow to know your heart and understand your love, so that they may serve you with everything you have given them."  This simple prayer (or something similar) is what we pray as every night.  God hears our prayers and responds.  Let me just share a few of the amazing things that have happened in our two days home with Big Sister.  

While in Whole Foods yesterday (48 hours after touching down), I was not in the store five minutes before being approached by a complete stranger.  "I'm sorry, I feel led to come talk to you," she said.  "Is your daughter (how did she know?) from Ethiopia?  She is a beautiful girl.  (Insert a few questions.  Back and forth conversation while, I believe, God is revealing the beauty of adoption to her heart.)  I have an Ethiopian friend who just opened a hair salon in town.  If you want to bring your daughter in, I'm sure she would love to see her."  Sounds good.  Thank you!  I take down the number and proceed to the next aisle where I am immediately stopped by an Ethiopian businesswoman.  "Hi, my name is Abbie," she says.  (A few questions and back and forth conversation while she processes.)  "I would love to give you my phone number just in case you need any help during the first few months home.  I know how difficult it is for a child to leave her country.  My kids were begging me to take them back (to Ethiopia) for the first few years here, but now they are adjusted and this is home.  Please call me with any needs.  Also (and here is where it gets funny), there is an orthodox church I take my kids to.  I don't go, because...well...the service is 6-7 hours and that is just torture.  I drop them off and go take a nap.  You should do the same.  The kids have great fun and they all speak Amharic."  So, I take down her contact information and proceed through the store being stopped two more times by Ethiopian-Americans willing to help us with our transition in any way possible.  For those of you who don't remember, very similar things happened when we arrived home with Sporty and Sassy.  One of the families that initially reached out to us has become wonderful friends and I thank God for the blessing they have been to our family.  My point is, when we are faithful to God's desire for us to reach out and help others, he responds in kind.  My faith tells me so, but my eyes also bear witness.  We are all part of God's family!  

Big Sister has blessed our family in so many ways, and she has only been home three days.  I am simply amazed at the way our children immediately clung to one another and accepted each other as family.  They knew.  God prepared them as we all prayed for each other.  In the states, we have been praying for Big Sister for months.  In Ethiopia, she has been praying for us.  God heard, responded, and did what only he can do.  He united us in his love and is creating his heart in us, as he guides us to love like he does.  Big Sister has jumped right in.  She is a willing helper, an amazing sister, a driven student, a gentle spirit, and a beautiful child of God.  As we continue our initial transition, I want to thank each one of you for the part you played in our story.  We are surrounded by such wonderful, loving, and supportive family and friends.  Your story is weaved into ours and I don't want that to go unnoticed or unappreciated.  We love you all and thank you for journeying with us.  God is faithful!

"Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." -Matthew 25:37-40


  1. Clara Jane,

    I don't remember how I stumbled across your blog but I have begun reading through your posts and your insights, stories and heart for the Lord in respect to adoption has been a huge blessing for me. My husband and I have felt the leading to adopt for years but only recently has the Lord started to open that door. Currently we feel as if God has prompted us to get some debt paid off first. This waiting period has been killing me so I find comfort in reading through the journeys of so many other families as I wait on God's perfect timing for ours. I look forward to catching up on your story and learning through all that God has taught you over the years. Thank you for your openness about your sweet family. May God's blessing be upon you!

    1. Kristen,

      That is so wonderful to hear how God is leading you to adopt. I believe we use the same agency, which may have been how we connected.

      You are so right...the wait is HARD. Especially the initial wait before getting things started. Financing adoption is tough too, but a lot of people start out with nothing more than the application fee and maybe first program fee. I have watched as God provides every penny needed to family after family. A friend of mine even had a minivan purchased for her by her church family. So, trust that God will provide all that you need as well.

      I look forward to following your journey and witnessing how God transforms you through this process!

  2. you are so incredibly blessed!

  3. Absolutely beautiful. Thanks for chronicling (sp?) your journey, and providing inspiration to us all!