Just when Brock and I feel like it's emotionally safe to envision details of Roman's homecoming, our world spirals again, and we have to tuck our chins and lean into another adoption storm.
I came into the office yesterday afternoon after an extremely busy morning of Scentsy appointments and errands with energy from being productive and efficient. Brock was on the phone and I could tell from his shaking leg and furrowed brow that something wasn't right. Then the words that plummeted my heart into my stomach and made me naseous came from his mouth and everything else just became a tumbled blur.
"Does this mean that we might not make the October 5th deadline? We might have to go back and do our medicals again?"
When we had our homestudy last December, the case worker assigned to us determined that we did not need a psychological evaluation. According to our first dossier, that decision could be left to the discernment of our case worker. Now, the judge says that we do have to have it. That we have had to have it all along. Additionally, the letter that we sent from GMAC stating that we own our home and aren't in jeopardy of losing it, isn't sufficient because it does not have the job title of the person who signed the letter. The words "Account Specialist" or "Loan Officer" or whatever they call their qualified letter writers are throwing a huge wrench in things. It took a month and a half to get that half-page letter. According to our agency, the judge is concerned that they letter might have been written by the one who cleans the toilets. What's even more disheartening is when we asked what more we could do to prove that we own our home, as we had sent the letter from GMAC detailing our equity and sent documentation from the county determining that we reside at and pay taxes for our property, our agency had no response. Tatiana, our Russian translator, can go before the judge to ask for futher details on Mondays only. And so, our dream of having a court date this week is snuffed out. And another week is added on to the already lenghty process. Another week of Roman not knowing Mommy and Daddy. Another week of answering questions and another week of listening to the comments of well-meaning people, "Don't you have that baby by now? Isn't he going to be driving by the time you bring him home?"
Listening to Brock's end of the conversation, I felt my world spinning out of control again. I couldn't breathe. I had to get out of there and so I walked out. I came home, curled up in the fetal position and cried for an hour. I couldn't even form words to pray. There was an elephant on my chest and a boulder in my belly. How much longer can we keep doing this? I quit. I can't. It hurts too bad. I closed the door to Roman's room and sobbed in mine. With every fiber of my being, I wanted to run away. But I knew that I couldn't leave Brock and heap more grief and worry on his heavy laden shoulders. And I knew that we couldn't quit because I know the face of our son. And from some untapped resource in the recesses of our soul, we had to find strength to keep fighting for our Roman. There was a boy and a man who needed something from me right at that moment and I didn't have the power to give.
God would have to do it in me.
I called the office again and asked Brock to clarify what was so murky to him. He sounded as numb as I felt broken. Ok, then, what's our first step? He didn't know. We both knew we couldn't wait until next Monday for the agency to tell us what to do. He got a copy of our deed and we pray that this will, by a miracle from the LORD, satisfy the judge. We called a psychologist and found one who would try his best to fit us in for $100 an hour estimating it would take about five hours. Another $500 on top of all the other final fees that we don't completely have. I know God will provide, but it just feels like we are hemorrhaging. We are financially, emotionally and physically spent.
"Tell me Brock, what do you need me to do right now?"
"I don't know, Ashley....just don't fall apart on me right now, okay?" I could hear the tears in his voice. Okay. I can't fall apart. Brock needs his wife and Roman needs his Mommy.
And we all need the LORD.
I got up, washed my face and fixed my hair and makeup. I put on my red shoes and my jewelry. If you aren't a woman, this might not make sense to you. But I knew that if I looked put together on the outside, I'd feel a little less fragile on the inside. My mother used to call it her "magic lipstick". I can face so much more with my magic lipstick. We called for the psychologist, we called GMAC and we went to church and played with babies in the nursery. We talked to our friends and joked with them. For a few hours, we had just a little bit of normalcy before we had to wake up again and face another day of apostilles and notaries and fundraising. We were rebalancing.
There is a poem by Rudyard Kipling that I memorized when I was a little girl. My father instilled a deep love for poetry and words in us. I attribute any skill I have in writing to the countless hours he spent quoting poetry and explaining that verbs were the heart of a sentence. I fondly remember many evenings sitting on the back porch, watching the rain come in and singing old hymns or listening to him quote lines from poetry that he had mentally collected throughout his life time. One of my favorites and one of the first ones I memorized was Rudyard Kipling's If. One of the stanzas seems completely appropriate now to a depth I never understood before.
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
to serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on 'til there is nothing in you
Expect the will which says to them: "Hold on!"
We can't fall apart. We can't give up. There's not a sane parent who would walk away from their child, no matter the challenge. I don't know why all this is happening when so many other parents have had such an easy time. But I do know this: These experiences aren't for nothing. God's just weaving another layer into our story. There may be an elephant on my chest, but there is a firm foundation under my feet. One of them will have to move and this, too, I know: My Foundation is unshakable.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock." Matthew 7.24-25
I don't welcome the storms, but I do know that God will use these experiences for His glory. He has promised not to give us more than we can handle. Like so many other people who have walked through even hotter fires than this, I guess I just feel like God has more confidence in us than we do in ourselves. But His ways are higher and His grace is sufficient. And His power is made perfect in our weakness.