Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Trip- Part 1

When we took our last trip to Ethiopia, I kept a detailed journal each night. This time, that did not happen. You see, last time, it was just me and Avery. Each evening, I would take a shower and crawl into bed with my laptop. This time, I had four kids each night to deal with! Funny how I didn't have the heart, motivation, or energy to keep a journal by the time I got everybody to sleep! I did write down lots of random thoughts on the things that I didn't want to forget. So, I hope you enjoy reading about the close to the adoption phase of this adventure. Thank God I'm now in the "mothering" phase!

So, the day we departed from Washington DC was somewhat....somewhat...stressful. See Avery's blog for full details! He neglected to mention that our very, very old (but very free!) van began making a clunking sort of noise in the engine about two hours away from DC. I tried to ignore it for a while. I tried to pray it away. I tried to convince myself that I was the only one hearing it. Until I asked Avery if he heard it too. His reply, "So you noticed too, did ya?" We both began to pray and we made it! In fact, the van didn't make a sound (that I was aware of anyway) on the return trip home.

I was very happy to get to our friend's house just outside of DC and find that the generic "crocs" I had ordered for the entire family did indeed arrive on time. Don't ask me why, but it was of paramount importance to me that our family have these shoes for the trip. I honestly don't know why! But it made me happy.

As we were leaving our friends to go to the airport, I checked my email on a whim. Wouldn't you know, AFAA had decided they wanted almost $3,500 from our family by the end of the day. We hadn't received any invoices for any further monthly foster care, so we had assumed that they realized how ridiculously expensive this ordeal had become, and that they recognized that we had helped them out by escorting a baby for free on our last trip and that we were even. Nope. No such luck. I am just so thankful that I checked my email and that we actually had that much money. We just got our income tax refund. Easy come easy go! I was also furious that they had sent me an email instead of calling my cell phone. I was furious that they waited until the day we were leaving! I had clearly said in an email the day prior that I would not be checking my email any more and that they would need to call my cell phone with any further questions. Oh well. Par for course. In the end, it all worked out. In fact, we're now more than even. We're owed a refund on some of our foster care. I'm not holding my breath on ever getting it. It's hard not to get bogged down in the fact that we chose this agency because they were the cheapest. And money was a huge factor for our family. And in the end, they have charged us more than even the most expensive Ethiopian agencies out there. The most expensive agencies get your children to you in a very reasonable amount of time, especially when you choose waiting children, as we did. Seriously though, when I start to get upset about this, I have to remember that we started this adoption with pretty much no savings. And we now have pretty much no savings. But we also have no debt from it. God provided every dime we needed. I have to remember that it never was my money anyway. It's always been God's. And while we thought we were choosing the cheapest agency, God knew from the beginning how much this venture would cost us. And He had already established a plan for how He would pay for it. That's not to say that we won't pursue justice through the appropriate avenues in this situation. But pursuing justice with malice in the heart isn't right. God looks on the heart, and lucky for me, God also helps us to keep a clean heart!

So much of the heartache on this journey has been due to our agency. And up until now, I wasn't at liberty to even disclose which agency that was. But, finally, this is over, and I am free to share. The reason I share is because such a big part of what God has done has been in the area of grace and forgiveness and choosing to not harbor bitterness toward this agency. It has been sooooo hard! But I realized early on that it was completely my choice as to whether I would come out of this bitter. God has been so good to me throughout this process. We've had to endure some pretty harsh stuff, but God has enabled my heart to not get bogged down in all of the "stuff." Left to my own vices, I would be so angry and bitter that I wouldn't even like myself! But in God's hands, that's not happening. It's a choice, but it's one that He is enabling my heart to make. Sometimes I've had to make that choice a hundred times in a single day, but the point is that with God, it's a choice that I can make. And for those of you in similar circumstances, God can help you to make that choice too! :)

Anyway, by the time we got on the plane, I was a nervous wreck! But it felt soooooo good to sit down and know that finally, this was it! Kaitlyn and Lucas were so excited to be on the plane. I'm so glad that they came with us. It had been my desire all along, but until God opened the door wide for them to be able to come, I would never have seriously considered it. Having them with us made the whole trip feel so much more complete.

Long story short, after a very long flight, we finally made it! We touched down in Addis, and I felt such a peace knowing that tomorrow, I would be with all four of my children. On my last trip, I felt such peace knowing that I would be with my children. But this time was different. The peace was different. It was deeper. It was a knowlege that God had accomplished something huge. It was knowing that it was indeed finished at last.

A huge thanks to Anita, our missionary friend, who took care of our arrangements for us! And it was sooooo last minute! She was such a life-saver for us. And our guest house turned out so much better than a hotel room at the Hilton. It was so quiet and peaceful. The perfect place for our new little family to spend time bonding.

We all slept well that first night, especially Kaitlyn and Lucas. They slept for 14 hours straight at the guesthouse! The only reason they got up after 14 hours is because I made them! They were so exhausted! Poor little things!

We spent some time that next morning, Saturday, getting things situated at the guesthouse. And then, at 2:00, finally, it was time to go get our babies! It felt so good to approach that green gate with Kaitlyn and Lucas in tow. As we knocked, there was such joyful anticipation. Something that wasn't there last time. Last time there was joy, but also such sorrow. This time, only joy! The guard opened the gate with a smile and......

You'll have to wait until the next post! :)


shell said...

I love how God has given you such peace about everything. We just did our taxes and I was about to complain that we only get $150 of the adoption tax return (when we have almost $20,000 sitting there!!!) and then I remembered, as you said, we have no debt. God provided every penny. Thanks again for that reminder!

reneegrace said...

God is so amazing... I love your attitude through out this, especially the "not fair" stuff and the "20/20 hindsight" stuff... God's sovereignty is so much bigger than that.

I have seen time and again those things ruin an experience or taint a testimony. Its beautiful to see you forgiving and letting go... GO GOD'S GRACE!! :)

jen said...

Can you tell us about the Hilton - did you plan to stay there and it fell through? Just curious - beginning to think about where we will stay when we go!

Owlhaven said...

I can't wait to hear more!


Heather said...

With the Hilton, we had a friend who was going to give us their "Hilton Points" so that we could stay for free. But our friend had to book it for us, since the points were in his name. But when he went to book it, they were all full of "Points Users" and by the time we found out, it was just a few days before we left! Ouch! :) It all worked out better than we could have planned though.

5KidMom said...

First, I am SOOOO thrilled that you are home safe and finally together!

Next, I had figured out a long time ago that you were with AFAA, but in the interest of not gossiping, have refrained from mentioning anything to prospective adoptive families. I am very pleased that you have chosen to divulge this information, and will be seeking justice (without malice and bitterness, of course). Please keep us updated here on your blog about how things go with that. Your experience has the potential to help many families in the future avoid such misery. Instead of gossiping, we can just refer people to your blog when they want to know why they should avoid AFAA.