As a mother, my heart was created to love, nurture and protect my children., to create a home for them, raise them, teach them, lead them. It's one of the most difficult blessings, but that blessing becomes even more difficult when you're separated from your child.
Imagine for a moment that your child was in a foreign country, away from her family, and you've done all that you can do to bring her home, but the rest is up to someone else. Someone without a mother's heart for this child; someone not in tune to the urgency you feel.
An immigration specialist will be assigned to you to unite you with your child. You learn that there is a shortage on specialists, that they're doing all they can to clear the backlog of cases. Even though that's their job, it brings no comfort to you. In their hands, your child seems to become a statistic, a number among many.
One in 147 million.
This breaks your heart; to you, she's one -- she's the one missing at the dinner table each night, the one you can't tuck in at bedtime along with your other kids... the one whose lunch you're not packing because she won't be joining your other children at the end of the driveway the following morning for school. She's the chosen one, and she's the lamb missing from your precious flock.
All you need for this one child is one immigration specialist. It could be weeks, months, or years before one is assigned to you, and even more time until the nebulous process brings your child home.
Meanwhile, there is a little girl going to bed at night wondering when she'll be coming home. She's been waiting for more than two and a half years, nearly half her life. Your heart longs for her and aches every day you're apart.
It's in the very fiber of your mother's instincts to advocate for this child, to be proactive, to follow up on every promise given and to keep things progressing. Your heart was created to pick up the phone and plead for mercy.
I am that mother.
The child is the daughter we're in the process of adopting. She's not in a foreign country, she's close to home, yet so incredibly far away.
It felt much easier when there were things we were responsible for doing: Forms, forms, more forms, classes, homework, more classes, more homework, classes, and more forms. Don't get me wrong, it was an awful lot of work, and the urgency we felt made it very intense, but at least we felt as though we were pressing forward, each form completed was a measure of the progress we were making.
In time, we got notice that our file was complete and were told to expect a call within 2-3 weeks. It was the first time I felt able to really step back and take a breather, knowing what we could expect, knowing we were getting so close.
Knowing that all there was left to do was pray... and wait.
Waiting was nothing new. The entire adoption process is made up of three specific periods, much like pregnancy's first, second and third trimester. All consist of waiting. You go from one waiting period to another, followed by another.
The difference is that one knows that the average pregnancy is 40 weeks long, and the average adoption isn't average at all.
Unlike pregnancy, the child you're expecting isn't safely tucked inside of you. She's not with you, she's with a temporary family she knows she doesn't belong to... she's not home, and each day she's not home feels like a thousand.
God knit my heart into a mother's heart for this child, and as I watch the first two weeks elapse and the third one begin, my nesting instincts kick into high gear as I sense the urge to prepare for her. By the end of the third week, I become unsettled without word from the agency.
I'm torn between being patient and being proactive. Everyone who has been through the adoption process before says that unless you advocate for this child, no one will... they say to call as needed, that the agency will understand. Another mom with an adoption situation strikingly similar to ours affirms this... no harm in calling, just a gentle way of making sure we don't fall in the cracks while still feeling connected to the process. Everyone does it, I'm told.
My best friend advises me to give it more time.
Even though I should have trusted my friend's wisdom, I go with the majority and I contact the agency. The response makes it very clear that being pro-active isn't well tolerated and their impatience with me stings. Their response is only made worse by their statement that it will take even longer than they had originally advised. It leaves me feeling punished and chastised.
Before long, my already tender heart begins to feel as though it's on the boat with Jonah, tossed by the stormy waves threatening to throw everything overboard.
I ask myself and God why He calls on us to care for the orphans and widows, the lonely, the hurting, the broken... I ask, even though I know the answer. What I don't know is why it has to be so crushingly difficult. Given how difficult a process it is, is there any wonder there are 147 million orphans in the world?
My questions seem to bounce off the ceiling, met with complete silence. He knows I'm whining, and frankly, so do I. I'm tired and battle weary and so undeserving of His abundant grace.
He knows the issue goes much deeper than this, and His silence brings me there.
I retreat into the word, and as I pour over scriptures and pray, I begin to see more clearly.
"Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west.
I will say to the north, `Give them up!' and to the south, `Do not hold them back.'
Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth--
As I lean in closer to Him through His Word, I am surprised by the answer not being an answer, but instead a simple question.
"Do you trust Me?"
Do I trust You, Lord? Of course I trust You.... why would You ask?
"Child, do you TRUST Me?"
I do, Lord, but this mother's heart you've created in me feels so bruised and battered, and....
"I have a Father's heart far greater than a mother's heart."
It's just that I love this child and...
"I AM Love."
I know, but I want to nurture and protect her, to create a home for her, to raise her, teach her, leader her...
"I am already nurturing her and protecting her, creating a home for her, raising her, teaching her, leading her... what can you do that I can't?"
**crickets crickets crickets**
"You are wrestling the wind."
Wrestling the wind?
"I Am the Father, I understand more than anyone the heartache of my children being separated from me. Child, this isn't about you. It never was. The storm is still raging inside because you have not fully surrendered this to Me. You know from My Word that I hold this sparrow in My hands, I know the hairs on her head and watch over her as she lays her head down at nights, I know her comings and goings, I alone know the time for her to come home to you... do you TRUST Me?"
I take a moment to reflect on how much I have already grown to love this child, and I am ashamed that I hadn't stopped to consider how much more He loves her. How much more He loves all of us, even me, the one who knows better and yet whines and wastes energy wrestling the wind.
I remember my own lessons on waiting for His time, and I realize that like Jonah, my lack of surrender in this situation had brought the storm my way. In not surrendering, I had been wrestling against myself and only made it harder.
Days later during group Bible study, He lovingly reminds me that I'm not alone. We're studying women of the Bible and even though we've just recently begun, it's no coincidence that we've already studied Sarah and Rebekah. Two strong women known for their faith in the Lord, but the hearts of these mothers grew impatient waiting on God's promise and their impatience led to many consequences.
Do I trust Him?
I can see now that my actions showed otherwise, and that pains me. A yes or even a no is sometimes so much easier to handle with grace than a "wait", even though the wait is always worth it in how it teaches us and refines us... when we stop wrestling with the wind long enough to lean in closer to Him and listen.
He is not only the Father, He welcomed us all by adoption. Surely HE knows the way?! I have every reason to trust Him, and no reason not to.
Back to the cross I go and this time, I surrender without picking everything right back up. It's the only way I'll feel peace.
Father, forgive me.