Just keep swimming!

We’ve crossed over the five-year mark in our adoption adventure.  It’s been so long, in fact, that I often wonder if people think we’ve given up, or if they’ve forgotten about us.  And then I got the answer to that question this summer when someone actually asked me, “weren’t you guys thinking about adopting one time?”  Yes, we were.  In fact, we still are.  It’s just taking a long, long time.

We’re wrapping up our second home study update now.  This is necessary to keep our fingerprints current with Immigration while we continue to wait in line.  We will likely need to do this one more time, possibly twice, before this “waiting for referral” chapter of our story ends.  The most recent estimate from our adoption agency is that we can hope for a referral in January of 2019, but it could easily be longer than that.  Until then, we keep waiting, praying for a miracle, and hoping that things will suddenly speed up. 

We’re at an awkward juncture where we know we need to continue saving and fundraising, despite the fact that we don’t have exciting milestones to celebrate or anything tangible to show for our efforts.  The home study updates themselves are far from free.  And pretty soon I’m going to have to start asking random strangers on the street to write reference letters for me because my friends can only do it once and I’m going to run out of people to ask!  But seriously, when we do get that long awaited phone call telling us who our child is, we’ll need a whole lot of money in a hurry both for adoption fees and for the fifteen-day bonding trip we’ll have to make to Haiti immediately thereafter.  After that, we’ll fly home, wait several more months, and then return to Haiti to complete the process and bring her home.  So the fundraising goes on.

When I was a little girl, my parents taught me how to swim.  I vividly remember being in the pool and struggling toward my dad who would say, “Paddle, puppy, paddle,” while inching further and further backward across the length of the pool.  I remember feeling like I was never going to get to him, feeling the struggle in every muscle, and being really mad at him for continuing to move back and make me work harder.  It would have been so much easier to reach him if he would have just stayed in the place where he started! 

I told a friend that’s essentially how I felt about the adoption process this summer.  I feel like I’m going to drown at any minute, and although I’m fighting with all my might, the end target just keeps moving out farther beyond my reach.  My friend very wisely said to me at the time, “But you eventually did make it,” and I knew she was right, even if my very discouraged soul couldn’t admit it at that moment.

This summer was a very Ecclesiastes 3 kind of summer for me.  “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens….a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance…”

  We were blessed to sit in a court room as friends from church adopted a young man they had been fostering for just about a year, right before he turned eighteen.  We could not be more proud of them or more happy for them!  Our kids got to be present for the hearing and for the after party.  It certainly deepend their understanding of what adoption means, and brought up a lot more questions for our youngest.  After that, we had many, many days of him asking about when he would meet his sister and when we’d bring her home, and I had no answers for him.

The boys strapped on roller skates and joined in at a fundraiser skating event for another family from our church who is adopting from Thailand.  They’ve been working hard and fundraising in all kinds of creative ways.  That family received their referral this summer and is waiting for their child’s case to work its way through the necessary legal process so that they can travel to meet their son and bring him home.  They have a name, a picture, quarterly updates, and a different kind of waiting as they eagerly look forward to his homecoming.

I’ve been closely following the journeys of a few other local families this summer as well.  One has faced setbacks.  One has progressed forward uninhibited.  Another is waiting just like us for a referral from the Philippines.  Their journey has gone much longer than anticipated too, and when I grieve for my child, I pray for them as I know exactly what their longing feels like.

I cried more tears than I care to admit this summer as the wait has been insufferably long.  I have been frustrated and angry and sometimes right on the edge of hopelessness.  Sometimes the fact that others had things to celebrate cut like a knife, and other times it brought hope that we won’t be stuck in the waiting space forever.  I have been up and down and all over the place with grief, anxiety, exhilaration, pride, and all kinds of emotions.  My poor family does not know what to do with me, but they are all getting really good at making me soothing cups of tea! 😊

Meanwhile, we had a lot of good things happening with Care Portal, which serve as a constant reminder that our efforts haven’t been entirely futile.  If it weren’t for a calling to adopt from Haiti, we wouldn’t have found Global Orphan Project, and a lot of kids in Fairfield County would be without beds and dressers and all kinds of other things that have made their homes safer and more stable.  Writing the praise reports after each of those prayers is answered has been a confirmation to me that God loves to care for His children and He has more than enough resources for us all.

And just like that, summer was over, school started up again, and the paperwork and fundraising demands were back.  We’re starting out this fall with another cookie dough fundraiser.  This could be the last time I sell a product, at least in the fall, as our oldest is now a tuba player in the band and planning to go on a trip in 2019 that’s going to require several fundraisers of its own.  He was eight when we began our journey, and I certainly didn’t think then that I’d be simultaneously fundraising for a high school band trip and an adoption.  Perhaps we’re going to have to rethink this strategy!

While I’m at it, mark your calendar for November 12.  That is Orphan Sunday, and some incredibly talented friends have stepped up to put together a benefit concert in our honor that evening.  More details on that will be coming later.

And the puzzle fundraiser continues.  If you would like to add your name to a piece of our daughter’s puzzle, we have more pieces at the ready.

Sorry this installment of the Shelton summer recap wasn’t full of side splitting anecdotes.  Perhaps I’ll write that post another time.  This one is about my need to be honest about the struggle, my own raw emotion and the belief that God is still faithful in spite of it all.  For the time being, we’ll keep treading water and praying for our daughter in Haiti, and for our beloved Care Portal families.  The struggle is real, but so is our hope.     

“Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:21-23

“Give thanks to the Lord.  His love endures forever.


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