Friday, April 26, 2013

Travel Approval

After 13 days of waiting we received our Travel Approval (TA).  Thirteen days probably doesn't seem long and when you compare it to our 83 day Letter of Approval wait it should seem like nothing, but I am here to tell you that every single one of those 13 days felt very long.  Why does waiting feel so long?  This wait may have been the hardest yet and it was practically the shortest.  But the reason would be that this is it, this was the last piece of the puzzle for us to be able to go.  And we have been ready to GO for a long time now.

So here is how this last approval played out.  I want to write it down because it's one more testimony to glorify God in this journey that He has called us to.  On Wednesday I checked in with our caseworker as I was beginning to get concerned that if our TA didn't come we might be gone on May 31st.  There is nothing overly special about that day except this year it would be our boys' end of the year concert and my mommy heart did not want to miss it.  Our caseworker said we would need to get our TA by Friday to make travel dates work around us being home for the boys concert.  Panic began to set in as I was once again reminded that I have ZERO control over this.  So after much fretting I sent an email out to a few asking for prayer.  Prayer that our TA would come by Friday or that my heart could rest in peace if it didn't, but just to please pray.

On Thursday morning Scott and I, along with Matthew, headed to Spruce Lake Retreat Center for Matthew's 5th/6th grade overnight field trip.  It was a beautiful day and it was the perfect distraction to detour my mind from obsessing over this adoption.  I wish I could say that once we arrived I was so captivated by God's beautiful creation that my mind was fully distracted, but the truth is every single time my phone vibrated in my pocket I was sneaking a peak to be sure it wasn't our caseworker.  Even after the retreat leaders rules were no phones.  Oh well, I have never been a good rule follower anyway.

As the day went on I began feeling discouraged as I knew time was running out.  I even emailed our caseworker in the afternoon just to see if DHL had come and gone yet.  I was encouraged again when she replied they hadn't delivered yet and she would let me know when they did so I could stop fretting for the day.  Around 4pm the group we had traveled with were gathered together for prayer and a devotion.  Just as everyone bowed their heads to pray my phone began vibrating in my pocket.  I mentally paused but quickly thought "ah everyone's eyes should be closed anyway so I'll just peak quick to see who it is."  When I gently slid my phone out of my pocket to see it was our caseworker I jumped up, stumbled past my chair and out the door to answer the call.  I honestly don't know how much of a distraction I was during that prayer and if you were there please accept my apology.  There was no way I was letting that call go to voicemail.  Sure enough she was calling to say DHL had just delivered a package and inside was our Travel Approval.  She had a few things to go over with us and would email us a scanned copy so we could see it and she would follow up with the hard copy in the mail.  She was just as thrilled as we were because it meant we could travel in the time frame we were praying for.  I pulled Scott from the meeting and we hugged and cried and rejoiced together.

The whole of that moment was so surreal for us.  You see at this exact same time last year we were also away at Spruce Lake.  Only last year it was with our daughter on the same field trip.  At that time we had to break away from the retreat for an hour to have a conference call with our caseworker.  It was the first call of many as we worked through the home study and paperwork process of this adoption.  If you were there with us maybe you even remember.  So that phone call and all that paperwork from one year ago has now made a full circle because at the same time and place we now received our travel approval.

We are hoping to travel in two weeks.  If everything lines up than we will have our Gotcha Day on Monday, May 13th in Ch*na.  As you know Ch*na is 12 hours ahead so what that translates to for me is that I will be holding our sweet little Mercy in my arms on Mother's Day because technically here in PA it will still be Sunday night.  I cannot think of a better gift to get on Mother's Day!  I don't foresee there ever being a better gift in the future, but I know that while Mother's Day has always been an incredible sweet day for me over the past 12 years it is now soaring to a whole new level of sweet.

Please pray for us as we finalize our travel plans, childcare plans and begin to pack.  Pray for Mercy's heart to be ready for us and ours ready for her.  Pray for our kids as they face the reality of being away from mom and dad for a couple weeks and then adjusting to a little sister.

Two more weeks and all of this waiting will be over.  Two more weeks and we begin a new chapter in this journey.  Two more weeks and Mercy will no longer be an orphan!!!!!  Rejoice with us, praise be to God!

"Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!  O Lord, hear my voice!  Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy!"  Psalm 130:1-2

Monday, April 8, 2013

Limited Sight Take Two

It is totally ironic, now, that when we first launched this blog we used a subtitle "A Journey of Faith With Limited Sight".  When we used that phrasing we were obviously talking about ourselves and this new journey we would walk to adopt a child that we could not see, a journey of faith to where we could not see how it would play out in just about every way.  Would we be approved, how would we complete the paperwork process, from where, how would we pay for it, will it be a girl or boy, what will their special need be, when will we know their face?  Then it became what part of Ch*na will we travel too.  when will we travel, will we be able to handle her special need, how will attachment and bonding go, will Ch*na give us approval for her? There were so many unknowns, there still are, really the only thing we can stand firm on was that we were to adopt, everything else was a question of the unknown.  Faith is believing in what you can't see, so it was stepping out into the unknown that made this a Journey of Faith With Limited Sight.  Now, today I am finding it extremely ironic that our daughter, who waits for us until she comes home, will also have limited sight.  Hers, however, will be a physical condition.  Who knew the day we launched this that we would adopt a little girl with Albinism, and would have vision impairment?  God knew.  We don't know and won't know the extent of Mercy's vision, how well she can or can't see, but we are assured there will be a deficiency of some kind.  So our faith is stretched even more with unknowns because of a "limited sight" need we will face.  It's just crazy to me to think about it now.  It is also fascinating because I've talked with so many now who have a child with albinism and a few adults who have it too.  Their vision impairment doesn't "limit" them at all.  Thankfully we have five senses and so they tend to use the other four to compensate for the limit of one.  I look forward to watching how Mercy will be, wonder if her vision will "limit" her or just be nothing.  It also makes me think about how, though we all have five senses, during this faith walk my ability to see has been limited by the unknowns.  I have struggled to see God working His good and perfect plan in all of it.  I have sometimes let my feelings navigate for me instead of His vision.  That is not good, I need to rely more on my other senses, like hearing, that is hearing the Word of God and listening for His still small voice.  And my sense of taste, that is in tasting and seeing that the Lord is good, and my sense of smell, Jesus being the aroma, and even my sense of touch, allowing God to touch those deep corners in my heart that continually fear this whole process.  I'm thinking Mercy will teach me a lot about living with limited sight. Maybe, just maybe, she already is.

Here is a video that gives a glimpse into how a person with Albinism sees, what Mercy's sight might possibly be when we bring her home.   What Can I See