I can't even believe the title of this post. The Wait. One looooooog wait in a list of many waits. SARA.
Our paperwork went to SARA--State Adoption Resource Agency--in November 2012. A new step was added to the process that my friends didn't have to go through...either because they were working with a different state, or because they were slightly further in the process. But we got stuck in it. Each SARA has an ARC--Adoption Recommendation Committee--who scrutinizes the cases before issuing an RC--Recommendation Certificate, after which it goes to the federal level--CARA--Central Adoption Resource Authority--for NOC--No Objection Certificate. Confused yet? Because our children are considered special needs due to their age and sibling status, this should have taken 15 days, but it took 9 months. We don't know all the reasons for the wait. It took awhile for them to receive the Article 5 letters, and the approval cannot be made official without that...then our RIPA's (Registered lnd!an Placement Agency, AKA orphanage) license expired and had to be renewed (are you kidding me?!?)...then the kids had to get a medical done by the civil surgeon...then it was issued, nope false alarm...then it was issued, nope another false alarm...it was one thing after another.
This time was HARD. During these months, I watched all of my friends bring their children home. Their children were home and we had not even been given approval at the state level, let alone the federal...at any point in time, an lnd!an family could have taken our children from us as they have priority over Americans. In January, we began to prepare for the children. We found beds for the children (even drove to Nashville to pick up one that we found on Craig's List) which we started painting, we started working on their rooms, we started purchasing their clothing...Preparations were in full swing, and there was still time for them to be home by spring if lnd!a would have honored the timelines! By February, I knew we were stuck. By March...well, I don't even remember much about the month of March. Usually my calendar is booked, but in March I did one cake, one social event, one consignment sale. That is it. I slept a lot, prayed a lot, and checked email obsessively on the rare chance that we would have a message from our agent. After March, I snapped out of my daze. Instead of wasting entire months away, I wanted to make a point of enjoying the present and treasuring my family every day.
We experienced some confusing times during this wait. It reached a point where we weren't sure if God wanted us to act...to fight for our children...or if He wanted us to be still and allow Him to fight for us. Unbelievable potential contacts seemed to be coming out of the woodwork...congressmen, foreign business tycoons, high-ranking government officials in our children's state. I was angry and excited all at the same time that we might be one of those cases that would have to fight to get our children home. (Google the "Stuck" documentary by Both Ends Burning.) I did not want to fight... I wanted to love my children's birth country and have pride in their state. None of that panned out in the end, and thankfully, things eventually moved without our interference. One thing that became clear through the confusion is that this adoption is bigger than me and my desired timeline. I am a tiny speck in a much larger story. There are so many individuals, families, organizations, officials and more tied up in this process. The wait doesn't make sense now, but I trust that when we look back when the adoption is complete, that we will see a fuller picture of how God's timing was perfect. Already I can see that if our process had completed in the spring, there are three more families who have children in our orphanage that I would not have met. There are congressmen that would not have heard our frustrations with the Hague. We have had valuable time to mentally prepare our girls for real hardships that we may face when the kids come home. During this wait, our girls have developed a real desire for their siblings to come home, and they have experienced true excitement in preparing for them.
Even though this time seemed dark and dry with no end in sight, God revealed himself to me throughout the weeks. It seemed like every day I opened my Bible, He would have an encouraging word for me. Some that I clung to are as follows:
Proverbs 21:1 "The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will."
Exodus 14:14 "The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still."
Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
Mark 11:23-24 "Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours."
God was merciful in that while the wait in SARA was long, the weeks did fly by. Not sure how that worked, but I am thankful for it.