This morning my phone rang at work. It was just after 8:00 a.m. "Hi, this is Amy Abell." On the other end I heard, "Amy, it's me, Karla (my amazingly committed, loving, God-seeking social worker). I got it."
Tears started falling, and I could barely utter the words, "You got it?" She again said, "I got it."
More tears...more words spoken in this voice reserved only for when I am crying and talking about Tuck. Words of gratitude, words of disbelief, words of sweet relief. I could tell Karla was trying to hold it together, but before hanging up, I could hear her voice breaking with mine. This is a woman with a beautiful gift of finding families for orphans and supporting families with great compassion, understanding, and love until their children are home. I am blessed to know Karla and have her walk alongside me on our road to Tucker.
To understand the whole situation, I should probably back up a bit. Last Friday, August 2nd, Karla called to share that our LOA had been issued in China! It was being mailed to the US and would hopefully reach our agency by Wednesday (yesterday). For the first time in a long time, I felt such relief. Finally, we could just breathe again. Almost. There was a piece of me that truly felt like it wouldn't arrive. Ryan and I didn't tell anyone for fear that the plane would go down, the mailman would lose it, etc. Something was going to keep the LOA from reaching our hands.
And we were right. Karla called Tuesday to say, "Amy, I need to tell you something, but hang tight with me." My heart dropped. She explained that the batch of LOAs arrived at her office, and our LOA and one other family's LOAs (they are adopting two) were missing. I didn't cry. I felt ok...was not panicked...yet. I knew Karla had mailed our immigration paperwork for Tuck to USCIS on Monday in order to begin our next "timeline." Immigration paperwork sits in a "lockbox" for 2 weeks, and then is processed. We wouldn't technically need LOA until it left the lockbox. I felt ok about things. Karla was communicating with our agency's contact in China to figure out what happened.
I worked a half day the next day and had a message to call Karla on my way home. She let me know that when she woke up that morning, the other family's LOAs had been scanned and sent to her. However, ours was still missing, and she wasn't sure why. This is when I lost it. I just felt like the enemy was doing everything in his power to prevent this adoption from moving forward. We had been waiting, by this time, 131 days for something that typically takes 30-90 days to receive. Our LOA was issued but lost or missing. When would it come? Why wasn't it scanned? Was it ever issued to begin with? So many questions that would never be answered. I just cried while Karla empathized with me and encouraged me. Then she prayed and prayed and prayed on the phone with me. It's amazing how prayer can just cover you and wrap you with this beautiful feeling...the feeling you get when you know God is holding you.
Just because God is holding you doesn't always mean the pain is washed away. You just know you are not alone. I came home and started begging my prayer warriors (you know who you are) to cry out to God for Tucker! I told them that I felt like Satan was doing everything he could to keep Tucker away as long as possible. I asked them to pray for God to keep fighting for our son. One friend immediately text me to say she was on her knees in her closet. Then another friend found somewhere private at work to pray. I could feel them...an entire army of my dear prayer warriors crying out, "Abba Father, help us!" I fell to my knees and sobbed with groanings too deep for words. "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express" (Romans 8:26).
Karla tried to stay up last night (I finally made myself sleep just past midnight) to see if it would come, but she passed out, too, probably much later than midnight. When she woke up, a scanned version of our LOA was in her inbox. She called and spoke three words that answered our prayers. "I got it." God heard our cries and answered our prayers.
I called Ryan as soon as I hung up the phone with Karla. "We got it." More tears...and I could hear the relief in Ryan's voice on the other end. I could feel the weight lift from his shoulders.
Our son is coming home. China has issued us the paperwork needed to move forward with his adoption. One hundred and thirty-two days have passed by, and we made it. God has stretched, grown, moved, loved, and held me. Many days I found joy and peace knowing that He was in control and that this was all for our good. Other times, I wanted to lie on the ground, kicking my feet and pounding my fists that this was His plan. He knew all of his would happen when He called us to adopt. He goes before me and stands behind. He is with my son, and He is with me.
We received our preapproval for Tucker on March 29, 2013, and we have endured silence since then. When I look back the past 4 months and 10 days are a blur. I had so many wonderful days filled with fun and laughter with family and friends. I also had hard days, difficult weekends, and painful hours.
God doesn't promise that being a Christian is easy. Choosing to follow His plan can often bring sorrow, pain, and heartache. But I am here to tell that there is beauty in the ashes.
*Long time friendships have been strengthened.
*Unbreakable bonds have been created with other adoptive mommas.
*My faith and character have been strengthened while old habits and other character flaws have been shaved away.
*Loved ones, coworkers, and even strangers have donated $12,158 to our family and other adoptive families through the puzzle fundraiser and #runningtuckerhome. Only $3,267 is needed to complete Andy and Lisa's goal!
*T-shirts were created to bring awareness to Tucker and other orphans, and 50 were sold in a week.
*A twelve year old girl held a babysitting night to tell children (and their parents) about a two year old boy living on the other side of the world. Then she donated her earnings of $431 to #runningtuckerhome.
*A marriage has never been stronger. Our children are cherished even more than before.
*Children are seeing adoption not as a "exciting, unique, that-would-be-fun-to-do experience" but rather just part of their everyday reality. Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it (Proverbs 22:6).
*The love we have for Tucker has grown stronger and stronger each and every day. This is the bond we will need to work through challenges that lie ahead.
*Many people are getting involved in orphan care for the first time in their lives. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world (James 1:27).
Yes, the past 132 days have been difficult. Yes, adoption is very expensive. Yes, there is heartache in the process.
But I want you to know this. I haven't even met my son yet, and I already know I would walk through this fire again because I know what waits for me on the other side. Not only is Tucker there, across the world, but God is there. Walking with God for the past 132 days has brought more light in my world and in the world of others around me than I've ever experienced before.
We only get one life...one chance to live a life with God's purpose directing our paths.
I choose Him and His plan for my life - to invite one of His children into my life, this home, and our family. I am grateful beyond words that He asked us to take this journey. My life is forever changed, and a little boy, our son, will soon be coming home forever.
|Celebratory dinner together|
|#runningtuckerhome t-shirt and fabulous necklace made by Sara Noll (another adoptive momma)|
|Signing our LOA! Yes we accept the adoptee mentioned above!!!|