Thursday, January 11, 2018

Our Little Dove

2017 ended in the worst way imaginable when we lost Sparrow.
We had been praying for her for almost a year.  So many prayers.  And then, in an instant, she was gone.  Our dream of her joining our family shattered into a thousand little pieces; I stood in the middle of the shards trying to make sense of it all.  Only, none of it made sense.  I've come to the point of acceptance that I will never understand why it happened the way it did.  I also know that she will always be my little Sparrow.  In my heart, she will forever be my daughter.
I don't think I realized that amount of underlying stress and anxiety I had experienced while praying and waiting for her.  It was like a constant pressure on an open wound.

A week after the match devastation, the waiting child advocate sent me a file of a child.  In her email, she said the only reason she sent me the file was because of a conversation that she and I had a month prior, when I was still in the home study phase.  When you adopt, part of the process requires you to go through a checklist of special needs for which you are comfortable accepting.  It's an extremely bizarre experience and nothing about it feels good.  She and I were talking about that checklist and I casually told her how Kristen during adoption #1 vs Kristen during adoption #4 are two totally different people.  I've learned a thing or two along the way, and special needs that would have scared the bejeezus out me then, don't even cause me to bat an eye now.  Almost all of the medical challenges I've dealt with my girls were all things that were never disclosed in their files. 

You take in the information, process it, adjust, and move forward.  Because at the heart of it, is a child.  A child who needs a family to call their own.  A child who had no control over the special need assigned to them for the rest of their lives.  
She told me this child had been waiting for a very long time, almost two years.  She told me that this special need is one that adoptive parents are not pursuing.  She told me that there are many children with this need who continue to wait and wait and wait.
She told me that she thought about our conversation and wondered if I was interested.
I emailed her back and told her I wasn't interested.  I told her I didn't know if I would ever get to a point of considering another child.  I told her my heart was broken.

She responded.  She told me she was matched with a child for 18 months and then it all fell apart and she lost the child.  Eighteen months.  But then, she found her daughter.  She told me that people tried to tell her that she lost her first child so she would find her daughter.  She told me that she hated hearing things like that and knew I didn't want to hear it either.  She told me that she still thinks about the first child, but it is no longer with sadness.  I told her that I couldn't imagine.

The weeks passed, Christmas came and went, and with it, so did my hope of Sparrow ever coming back to us.  I stood at the edge of the new year and surrendered all of my dreams, hopes, desires, and plans for my family.  As I threw them over the cliffs, I told him not my will but his.  Blank canvas.  Have your way.  Do what you want with me.

He reminded me of Noah and the Ark.  This last year felt as if I built my own ark by stepping out in faith and pursuing Sparrow.  Then the rains came.  And it rained and it rained and it rained.  Tossed around by the storm of grief, I lost my orientation and became nauseous from processing her loss.  It felt as if the swells of raging emotions would never subside.

Then one morning after Christmas, I woke up and something was different.  The wave that used to knock me over the moment I opened my eyes, had become a gentle, rocking sway.  I opened the window of my ark and found the storm had ceased.  Still surrounded by water, I knew that underneath the sea, my landscape was forever changed.  

With each new day, the water began to subside.  Glimpses of sunshine through the love of my daughters felt warm on my face.  The lull from my sea of emotions became familiar and somewhat comforting; but ultimately, I wanted to step on dry land. 

I started to wonder how my new landscape would look.  I started and ended each day by staring at the horizon, hope slowly returning.  I waited for the day the little dove would return with an olive leaf in her mouth, signifying peace and new beginnings.

The waiting child advocate emailed me again.  She sent me the list of all the children for whom they advocated.  I wasn't sure if I wanted to open the attachment.  Something in my heart nudged me to do it.
I scrolled through the many faces.  Every one a jewel, just waiting for their family to find them to bring out their radiance that stays hidden behind empty eyes.
Pages and pages and pages.  
On the second to last page, I stopped.
There she was.
The little girl the advocate had emailed me weeks ago.
Still waiting.
I stared at her little face.  This sweet child who has no control over the future that's in front of her.  
I hit reply.
I asked to see her complete file but deep in my heart, I already knew what I was going to do.  
I knew that I was going to change her status from Waiting Child to Daughter.

My daughter.
Their Sister.

I am officially matched!

Her orphanage sent us a little video and we all gathered around to catch a glimpse of her sweet personality.
The girls are thrilled for their new sister and my heart is filling with love for her.

But I am changed.  
My landscape is nothing like what it was before.

 God brought me to a deeper place of acceptance and to a fuller understanding of what it truly means to adopt.   Knitting her into the fabric of our family is an honor and obedience of faith.
This precious child coming into our lives is 100% because of total surrender to God and letting him paint on the canvas of my life.

Our little dove fluttered into our lives at the end of a typhoon season and she has brought a sense of peace that I can't describe.  But one thing I can say is that through all of this, God never left me.  We've opened the door from our ark and let down the ramp.  As we step into our new beginnings onto dry land, we know that God is creating beauty from ashes.  We are walking into the new day rising and I know deep within me, 
all is well.