7.23.2013

Light in the Darkness

As much as I hoped that the five days in May would be my low point in this adoption journey, last Thursday through Saturday were the darkest days I have experienced thus far in my adult life. (This is actually a good indicator of how truly blessed I have been the past 13 years!). However, when you are stuck in that kind of dark and desperate place for 3 days, it's hard to really think rationally about the situation.

After I posted my last blog, I got news that really shook me to the core. Our LOA could still be weeks or months away (not because anyone said that but more because there was just no way of knowing how much longer we would wait, and there had been no sign of things changing any time soon), and that was the straw that broke the camel's back. After hanging up the phone with our social worker, I collapsed to the floor and cried harder than I have cried in my adult life. It was a pure miracle that Ryan was home when it happened, as he is never home that time of day. I am convinced that God placed him there knowing that I would need him to hold me. I sobbed and sobbed the most horrible, hyperventilating cry of my life. All I could think was of Tucker being stuck in an orphanage for the next 3 years because our files didn't transfer from an old computer system to a new computer system. The crying only ceased because I remembered we had family pictures that night, and I didn't want to be completely swollen and awful looking for them. I scraped myself off the floor, made my way to the shower, and just sat there with the water raining down on me, too worn to even pray.

"Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purposes. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified." (Romans 8:26-30).

These are the verses I read that very day during my daily reading. It was no coincidence. The pain in my heart felt like "groanings too deep for words." It brought me peace knowing that the Holy Spirit was interceding on my behalf when the hurt was too deep to pray. Romans 8:28 has been one of my main verses in this adoption, and no matter how badly things have gotten, I have continued to believe that God is still working for my good. I just wish it didn't have to hurt so bad or be so hard! God surely called us to this adoption journey, and He will see us through.

Aside from getting our pictures taken, I spent the next two and a half days in a state that bounced back and forth between numbness and utter despair. All I wanted to do was isolate myself from everyone and everything and just hide. I am not proud to admit that to all of you, but I my goal is to always be authentic with you and not paint a perfect picture that doesn't exist. Adoption is filled with excitement, beauty, and love, but with the good you also experience pain, heartache, suffering, and longing.
 
"My friends, adoption is redemption. It’s costly, exhausting, expensive, and outrageous. Buying back lives costs so much. When God set out to redeem us, it killed Him." (Derek Loux)
 
Just as it was no coincidence that my daily Bible reading led me to read Romans 8 last Thursday, I also do not believe it was a coincidence that a very special event was held last Friday night. As I mentioned before, our friends Lisa and Andy are holding a fundraiser to help pay for our final fees to bring Tucker home, as well as help other adoptive families with their adoption costs. Their goal is to raise $10,000, and as of today, people have donated $4,110!!! Is that unbelievable??? People are really rising to support Andy in his 100 mile race, and in turn they are bringing "the least of these" home to their families. We do not know 95% of the families donating to this cause. The whole thing is just so humbling.
 
I want to highlight one very special contribution that was made by a 12 year old young lady named Grace who attends our church. Lisa contacted Grace a couple weeks ago to share information about the fundraiser with her. One of Grace's missions is to help couples maintain healthy marriages by providing babysitting services at an affordable rate so that they can experience date nights together. Every other Friday she babysits the children of 3 families for $10 per family. Isn't that incredible? She is 12 and totally gets it! Grace told Lisa that she wanted to pray about how she might get involved and that she would get back to her soon. When Grace contacted Lisa, she shared that she wanted to hold her Friday night date night event, but she wanted to donate the proceeds to help bring Tucker home. As if that wasn't amazing enough for a young lady to donate her hard-earned money to help our family, she decided that she wanted to make it a huge event!
 
With the help of her cell group (other middle school students), her family, and additional adults, Grace opened up her Date Night babysitting gig to 37 children, our boys included. The minimum donation was $10, and she planned a full 4 hour evening filled with China themed activities. All the children got to learn about Tucker, who he is, where he lives, what he eats, which games he might play, etc. Check out this itinerary!
 

When we pulled up to Grace's house, we saw all of these kids standing in the driveway playing games. There was a sign-in table, name tags, and many volunteers. We were just blown away! When we signed up for this journey, we had no idea how the people around us in our community would pull together to bless our family. Although Ryan and I tried to put into words how grateful and humbled we are, I don't think anyone will ever understand the impression this night left on our hearts. I really didn't even know Grace before this event. Two days before the Date Night, I wrote Grace on Facebook to say thank you for planning such an amazing event.

I wrote, "Grace, I can't express to you how grateful and in awe I am for the gift you are giving our family. Your thoughtfulness, generosity, and passion is something most adults struggle to achieve. I am having such a hard couple of days waiting now 110 days for our final Letter of Acceptance all due to technology issues...and your special event for our family is one of the bright thoughts I have in the midst of heartache to bring our son home. Thank you will never be enough!"
 
She responded, "I would love to take credit for this, but it's the Holy Spirit that put this on my heart."
 
Wow.
 
Seriously, wow. She gets it, you guys, and she is 12 years old. TWELVE.
 
We are blessed to experience this kind of love, and I am so excited that this is only the beginning of the friendship between our families.
 
When families were arriving and signing in their children, three very special little ones (pictured below) left me speechless. When their parents explained to them that they were going to Grace's house to help raise money to bring Tucker home from China, the little boy got the money from his piggy bank and said he wanted to donate it to our family. His two younger siblings followed suit.
 

Three very special children whom I will never forget
Big, crocodile tears fell from my eyes to see these small children be so generous, all to bring a child home to his forever family. Never in a million years did I ever think I would be in a position to accept piggy bank money from children. I was humbled. Here are some pictures from the night's festivities!

Noah and Liam with Grace

Rachel and Jason, Grace's parents


My friend Beckie bringing her kids to the special event!

Visuals ready for the discussion about Tucker and China

The gong used to help kids know when to change stations


No Chinese party is complete without fortune cookies!
Chinese Dragon craft
 
Beautiful children.
 
Noah and Rachel teaching the kids about Tuck and China.
Learning so much!

Moses enjoying noodles during Mulan.
Making prayer lanterns to Pray Tuck Home

Ryan and Liam sporting their orphan t-shirts

Two of the sweet volunteers who helped make the night a success!

Grace, Rachel, Noah, and me (after shedding many tears of gratitude) at the end of the night.
While Noah and Liam enjoyed a full evening of China-filled fun with the Long's and all of their friends, Ryan and I went to one of our favorite restaurants and enjoyed a delicious dinner together. We then met up with several friends whose children were also at the Long's house.


Ryan and me enjoying a kid-free evening with some of our dearest friends

Dalia and Kevin - stop the cuteness!

Jess and Matt enjoying S'mores!

Brett and Claire - love these two!

Andy and Lisa (masterminds of the #runningfortucker fundraiser) - love their hearts!
As if the thoughtfulness and hard work to put on such a night as this wasn't enough, Grace was able to raise $430 to our family to bring Tucker home!!! Isn't that incredible?

All because a 12 year old young woman prayed and followed the Holy Spirit's lead.

We stand in awe.

You want to know what is really wild? This event took place on the ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY to when God called us to adopt. On July 19, 2012, God spoke to my heart and said, "This is what I'm asking you to do." One year later, we know who our son is, and we are that much closer to bringing him home. On July 19, 2013, God used a 12 year old girl to lift our spirits during the most difficult days of our adoption journey. Grace's beautiful LIGHT broke through the darkness caused by my despair, hopelessness, and heartache. Her mother, Rachel, said something I will never forget. She said that part of our church family is missing right now with Tucker's absence. I cannot wait until Tuck comes home and feels not only our love, but the love that has been growing in the hearts of our family, friends, and church family. Thank you to all of the families who allowed their children to experience such a special night and who made donations to our family.

We are blessed.

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