Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Passage of Time

Its strange to me that we often mark time by events in our lives. "It was three years after Aunt Lynn died" or of course, something less morbid. But marking time related to events with Kristina has taken on a whole life of its own in our house. Its been a week since we spoke to her on the phone and wished her a happy birthday. A whole week! It feels like a lifetime.

I remember reading blogs of other adopting families and noting their time frames in their writing. Some of them had been in the process of adoption for two or more years. I always wondered how that could be. How could so much time pass in the process and how were their hearts still steadfast on adopting this unidentified child? And for the families (like us) who knew their future son or daughter, what could possibly keep them from making the journey. Well, now I know. Now we are one of those families that has spiritually adopted a child into our family, yet have waited almost a whole year for the process to come to fruition. Now I understand how much of what is involved in adoption is beyond our control. Adoption is such a journey of faith; I don't see how unbelievers walk this path.

Our home study meeting tomorrow will put to rest the last major hurdle of the paper trail for us. Now timing will be the issue of prayer. Pray that our paperwork will be submitted and approved in a timely fashion. Pray that we will receive a travel date that will (miraculously) allow the children to be grounded in their new school and me time from my new job. Oh, yes, and pray for a new job for me! Pray, pray, pray.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

End of the Trail?

After Josh's soccer game, we headed to our appointment for FBI fingerprints. Appointments are randomly assigned by US Immigration; missing your appointment can result in denial of petition so we were anxious to be on time. Of course the government offices were out by the airport and I missed the exit, which made me that much more anxious. We made it though and went through the whole process.

I don't know what it is about those types of offices, but I get very nervous. I watched the worker type my identification information into the database and followed each key stroke. Halfway through I wished I had told Robert to observe this process during his screening. A misspelled word or transposed number could put us back at square one. I was anticipating the same type of fingerprinting we've had done twice in the last few months, but there was no black ink pads this time. A computer system took digital images of our prints over glass. I watched my prints appear as the worker rolled my fingers across the glass one by one. Amazing. So now we wait on two things: clearance of those prints and a signed home study. Could we be nearing the end of the paper trail?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Happy Birthday!

At seven this morning, the six of us gathered around the phone and dialed a cell phone in Ukraine. It was the first time I have heard that scratchy Russian accent in eight months. She laughed when I told her "I love you" in Russian. She said she missed us and she loved us. I wish there could have been some way to record the conversation just so I could hear her voice again whenever I needed to.

She asked to speak to "father", such a formal name! When I handed the phone to Robert, you could hear her squeal "Papa!" from the other side of the room. She spoke with Hannah and the boys briefly and then the phone returned to me. We each wished her a happy birthday and she communicated as best she could in her limited English. She has lost much of her communicative English. She learned so quickly the first time, I'm sure it will come back as quickly.

We arranged for one of the workers in Ukraine to take Kristina and five of her friends out of the orphanage to celebrate. Birthdays are not typically observed in the orphanages for obvious reasons. I received an e-mail with the details of her party this evening. A car was hired and the children went to a Chuck E. Cheese style restaurant where they ate pizza and cake and played games to their hearts' content. We were told that the children had a wonderful time. I know it eased the hurt of being apart on such a special day. At least it did for us . . .

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Questioning God

"Now when John in prison heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples, and said to Him, "Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?" - Matthew 11:2-3

This verse came to mind last week when I received an e-mail from the missionary working in Kristina's orphanage. Apparently two families had come to adopt children from her class and this had caused her to feel conflicted and confused. She asked if we had forgotten about her and whether we would ever come for her. Hearing this information broke my heart. Why would she question us? Had she not spent the summer with us, bonding and identifying with us as her family? Have we not been faithful to write to her and constantly remind her of our love and commitment? I remembered these verses from Matthew 11 and began to wonder why John the Baptist would send this message to Jesus.

John was questioning what God was doing.When we are looking for God to do ONE thing, we often miss what else He is doing. John had certain expectations for the Messiah. He expected Christ to be the one who brought fierce judgement. Instead Christ preached forgiveness. John expected Jesus to strike down the wicked. Instead Christ raised the dead. John expected Christ to cripple the infidel. Instead he taught the lame to walk. Christ was carrying on a ministry of healing, not judgement. Is it possible for us to misunderstand God's agenda? Absolutely.

John was questioning where he had been.What would make John question what he himself had experienced? Was he not the one who had boldly declared in the first chapter of John:
  • "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (1:29)
  • "After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me."(1:30)
  • "I have beheld the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him." (1:32)
  • "This is the one who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’ (1:33)
  • "And I have seen, and have borne witness that this is the Son of God." (1:34)

Many would say that John's questioning of Jesus wasn't a sign of wavering faith, but stop and consider where he was when he asked these things of the Lord. John had been languishing on death row for nearly two years. He would be less than human not to wonder in his heart if he had been mistaken.

John was questioning who he was in Christ.The man who was once the herald of the Light of the World now sat in darkness. The once great dynamo of preaching now sat in solitude without an audience. When we have been one thing in Christ, its very difficult for us to conceive of being something different in Him. A change in circumstance doesn't necessarily denote a change in status. God often allows us to be brought low, even at the hands of the enemy or those who would unjustly wrong us. This isn't a reflection of error in our own lives as much as it is an opportunity for God to be glorified. Christ goes on in chapter 11 of the book of Matthew to remind the crowd that there has not been one born of woman greater than John the Baptist (v 11). Christ equates John with Elijah and announces that John was more than a prophet. Never let us forget our place in the body of Christ. Understanding those small details gives us a clearer understanding of the big picture.

Why does Kristina wait in an orphanage thousands of miles away from the family who longs for her? So that Christ might be glorified.

Why have injustices and trials come into our lives this year? So that Christ might be glorified.

Spurgeon said, "Blessed is he who can be left in prison, can be silenced in his testimony, can seem to be deserted of his Lord, and yet can shut out every doubt."

"Blessed is he who is not offended because of me." - Matthew 11:6

    Sunday, April 15, 2007

    Still Here!

    Yes, we are still here and plugging away at the adoption process for Kristina. Lots happening this week. We should be finalizing the home study and can put that to bed. We have an appointment to have our fingerprints taken at the US Center for Immigration Services. This will be the third time we've been printed in the last 6 months! The FBI runs a check on prints beyond what the state level law enforcement does. There are many little pieces in this process. Perhaps the distraction of trying to stay on top of all the paper trails is what keeps us from losing it in the absence of our girl.

    There are several families at Kristina's orphanage this week adopting children after their own long journeys. The missionary there wrote to let us know that Kristina had been weepy most of the week. It must be such a bittersweet experience, watching other families come for other children. Rejoicing over their new leases on life, but quietly wondering if things will work out for her. While I am sure she has hope waiting for us to come, the doubt remains. After a lifetime of let downs and lost dreams, its impossible to be otherwise.

    Her birthday is on Wednesday the 18th. If you can spare of moment of prayer, please lift her up. Pray that this will be a day of hope and joy for her. Pray that it will be her last birthday without a family.