A few years ago, I started keeping a gratitude journal. One sentence, every night. I’m on the third year in that little leather journal, and I often like to look back and see what I was doing last year, the year before…what good things I celebrated as I went to bed on those nights and maybe the few nights surrounding them. Last night I looked back and saw that on May 15, 2016, I was thankful for friends who sat with us on a Sunday morning when we were broken. We were broken because, after a year of investing our hopes (and language learning efforts) into the process of adopting from Brazil, we had hit a major roadblock, and we were in the midst of deciding whether to choose another country. I remember that May 15th well. I remember a lot of tears, and I remember that they lasted for days. A few weeks later, we began the process of adopting from Ethiopia.
Almost exactly one year later, on May 16th, 2017, we found ourselves reading an alert from the U.S. State Department that included these words: “The Department of State will continue to advocate for intercountry adoption from Ethiopia. However, given the uncertainty of the future of adoptions there, prospective adoptive parents should consider other countries.” A few weeks earlier, the Prime Minister issued a suspension on all international adoptions, with no word on the why or the how long. Little coherent information has come out since then. Tuesday’s announcement is the closest we’ve gotten to, “This is direction you need to go.” And so, Tim and I are waiting to find out what the process looks like to change countries…again. Granted, this could all open back up as abruptly as it shut down. But it seems unlikely at this point, so we’re sketching out possible next steps.
A year ago, I was barely holding back tears, pretty much 24/7. Oddly, this week I find myself almost unable to feel…anything, really. At least not anything I can grab hold of for more than a minute or two. I have teared up while talking about it a grand total of one time, for maybe a minute. I have felt angry for a few 30 second intervals, when I think about the process of starting over, or when someone (with good intentions, of course) suggests that we consider an option that is far, far more complex than they realize. Once in a while I look into another country’s program and feel a moment of excitement, even. But mostly…nothing. It’s an odd feeling. I don’t really know what to do with it.
Most nights before we eat, we pray for our kids, “wherever they are, whoever they are.” For a year, that has meant, “Wherever in Ethiopia, whichever African children.” The last few days, the wherever and whoever aspect of it is less about anticipation and more about frustrating ambiguity. But wherever and whoever, there are children that we can’t wait to bring home some day. We need to remember the simple beauty of that. And we may need you, our community, to remind us once in a while to keep that good thing in view and to look for joy in all the parts of this ridiculously roller-coaster-esque journey.