Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Long Road to Brianna, Part I

Some of you have never gotten the full scoop on how we arrived at our decision to adopt Brianna, and what the process was like. I've been thinking quite a bit about it lately, because several other bloggers have recently spoken about how hard it is too keep waiting and I recall those feelings all too well. I can definitely empathize with you.

So, for those of you who don't know, here's the whole story... It's gonna be a long one.

I knew I wanted to adopt long before Darrell did. People ask all the time if I wanted to adopt because I am an adoptee. I don't know if I ever thought about that, consciously. It may have had something to do with it, but only in the back of my mind (a little back story... I met my birth mother and 2 half siblings when I was 26 years old. That's not relevant to this story, but people ask about it, so... there you go.).

I saw a small ad in our local paper for an informational seminar, to be held at a church near us, about international adoption. I mentioned it to Darrell and he had no interest in going, or even in considering adoption at that time. His basic sentiment was, "That's the last thing we need right now." And it was. We had a houseful of young children, and were struggling to make ends meet back then. It wasn't logical to add another kid. I thought there was no harm in at least getting some information about it, so I called the agency number on the ad and asked to be put on their mailing list to receive an info packet and their monthly newsletter. I don't recall exactly when this was, but I've found old newsletters from 1994, so it was quite a while ago. At this time, I don't think I really knew God was involved yet. It was just "my own" vague idea.

I started receiving the newsletters, and my heart began to break when I'd see the faces of waiting or recently adopted children. I'd show Darrell and wait for his heart to break, too. It didn't. Some time passed and I asked Darrell if we could sponsor a child through "Compassion International," thinking maybe that would take care of the yearning that was growing within me. He agreed and I think he also hoped that would be the end of it. It wasn't.

Over the next few years, my yearning to adopt became more intense and more specific. I began to feel that God was wanting us to adopt a baby girl from China, but He hadn't told Darrell anything about it. Darrell knew that if God was really in it, He would confirm it in both of us. In my stupidity, I kept trying to convince Darrell that I was right and to listen to me. I hadn't yet figured out that the easiest and "right" way to pray would be to ask God to just tell Darrell Himself. I was trying to handle it in my own power, instead of His.

We eventually added another child to our Compassion sponsorship, but my feelings didn't go away. Darrell thought I was just having "baby cravings" and in 1998 we had our 4th child, another boy. When my nagging didn't quit, Darrell told himself it was just because I had all boys and still wanted a girl. By this time, I was feeling a sense of desperation and was definitely approaching my wits' end. I started experiencing the weirdest feelings at night that are still difficult to put into words. It sounds really strange trying to describe it, but when it would get dark, I would feel very restless. I'd start worrying about someone, but I didn't know who. The only thing I can compare it to would be sending your child off on their first trip away from home. You worry and you wish you could kiss them good-night, etc. You feel anxious because their care and safety is now outside of your control. It was like that, but multiplied a hundred times. I'd have thoughts like, "I wonder if she has anyone to rock her to sleep," or "I wonder if she's afraid of the dark." Then I'd immediately think, "You wonder if WHO has anyone to rock her to sleep? Who are you thinking about, Crazy?" I tried explaining all this to Darrell, but struggled to make him understand, since I didn't understand it myself. I think he thought I was being a bit of a drama queen (I have been guilty of that on rare occasions...). I really did start feeling a little nutty. How could I love and miss someone so badly if I didn't even know them?

In '99, business was doing well enough that Darrell said we could have another baby. We found out we were having a girl, and I'm sure he believed all my nagging would end. I was finally getting my baby girl. No more need to adopt one. The crazy lady will shut up now. Instead, when she was born (in 2000), I think my feelings intensified. As thrilled as I was to be having another baby and my first daughter, I couldn't shake the feeling that she wasn't my only daughter. I felt guilty at times, as if by taking care of her, I was neglecting my other daughter. Again, it felt and sounded like pure crazy.

How did I handle these crazy feelings? With grace and inner strength? With undying faith that God was working on it? Not quite. I got mad at God. I felt it was so unfair that He would give me such an overwhelming burden and broken heart for a child I couldn't have. The pity parties started, complete with balloons and streamers. WHY was He doing this to me? WHY didn't He just tell Darrell, if this was what He wanted us to do? Hey, wait a minute... A tiny, night-light sized flicker went on in my head... I prayed, "Lord, I know you want us to adopt a baby girl from China. Will you PLEASE convince Darrell of it? Please tell him this is of you and not me." Why did it not occur to me to pray this way before? I have no idea. Pride, maybe? I had prayed, of course, but it was for God to "make him listen to me." "Make him see I'm right, Lord!" I wanted Darrell to just accept that I had heard from God and act on my word, I guess.

Anyway, four months after Olivia was born (and only a few short weeks after I changed my prayer angle) we were in the car, listening to a Christian radio station. Darrell let me out to run into a store. When I came out and got back in the car he said, "Listen," in a hushed, clipped voice, and turned up the radio. A woman was giving her testimony of how God led her to adopt a baby girl from China. She was for it; her husband was not. She spoke of how she began to have these strange feelings of missing someone. Worrying about someone. But she didn't know who. She described a restlessness at night that wouldn't go away. Her husband wanted to have a biological child. She got pregnant and miscarried. As we sat listening to her story unfold, Darrell's heart was changed, right then and there in the car. What I had tried to accomplish through years of struggle, God accomplished in 10 minutes. That was on a Sunday afternoon. We called the agency the next morning and got started. I'll tell the rest tomorrow. Lunchtime is over and I have to get back to school.

(**By the way- Since today is Sept. 11th, I'd like to say my thoughts and prayers are with all who were affected by the tragedy six years ago. You are not forgotten. God bless.)

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