I am, as they say, “paperwork pregnant.”
It wasn’t coursing hormones or a full bladder that stirred me this morning at 5:06, but a chirpy text alert from my cell phone: My lawyer letting me know my file was, at long last, complete. Sinking back on my pillow, sedated in a thick haze of half-sleep, I felt my mind drift to that moment when we will finally get a call to come meet our little girl. And that was it, folks. My mind is now fully awake, ready to blog to you.
Today, after nearly nine months of waiting, my husband and I will weave rather perilously through Kampala traffic, bypassing a few OB-GYN offices on our way to our city’s U.S. embassy. We will place our hands on electronic fingerprint sensors and turn over a steep amount of cash. We will present a stack of identification, along with a photocopied, long-awaited home study representing months of slightly intrusive questioning regarding the suitability of our family and home.
We will then hand through the window advance paperwork petitioning the U.S. government to pre-approve us as adoptive parents. Then it’s two more months of waiting as our envelope makes its circuitous way to Nairobi, then back to Uganda, at which point I hope to accept it with a pudgy, African hand encircling my index finger.
Folks, we’re having a baby … I hope.
I was realizing this week that with my other four children, I have prayed for them, for their spouses, for their walk with God since the moment I saw a faint pink line appear on that fateful stick of white plastic. For this child, too, I have petitioned God—sometimes silently, sometimes aloud—as I pray for my other children, picturing her fuzzy African head and soft, chocolate-colored shoulders bent over whatever toddler activity in which she might be engaged at the moment. Lord, help them to treat her kindly in the orphanage, especially so she can have healthy relationships later. Help them to feed her well so her brain can develop. Prepare her heart to adore you. Watch her for me, Lord. Please be her Father while she is fatherless.
But after so many months of waiting and so many exasperating, often humbling, lay-my-head-against-the-wall-and-sigh hurdles, I must admit: Sometimes I wonder if I am praying for someone who does not exist, and will not for our family. I suppose there are worse things than praying for a non-existent person.
But still: Sweetheart, when you read this someday, know that we have prayed and prayed for you; that we cannot wait to set our eyes and love on you. Your brothers and sister—and my own mind—keep asking when. Of course, God knows that day when we will walk through the babies’ home gate, stumble up the uneven steps, and follow the social worker’s fingertip as he finally points us to your face. God is the one who knows when you will no longer be an orphan, and take on that excessively long, German surname.
Walking around still stroller-free at a craft bazaar last spring, I admit to purchasing a few small, elastic headbands for that unruly, sweet head. Natural, I have decided: we will let her hair go natural for as long as I can possibly manage it. I envisioned sitting on cool stone under a tree at the babies’ home we’ve visited, slipping a band around her hair that day we would meet her.
The babies here in Uganda have their heads shorn for hygiene and ease of care. So somehow, I wanted to position that big fuschia bow—or should I go with the turquoise one?—to crown her with love. I want it to declare with its bold grosgrain folds and gathers, this one is loved by us. We came prepared to love her. She is ours.
As with my first baby, I am once again knee-deep in literature intended to smooth the ruffled feathers of my mind. I am reading and re-reading paragraphs on bonding; interracial adoption; international adoption; transitions; sibling relations. And as with my firstborn, I am ready to stop reading and start doing, for the love of Pete.
But then again, after four children and now two years in Africa, I have found myself pleasantly surprised. My mental hands have run themselves over a surprising bulk of new muscle: A firm, quiet formation of mounded faith. Formerly, circumstances may have found me wringing my hands over delayed paperwork (again) or the social worker visits (that uneasy vulnerability, trying to keep the house clean as we wait for the knock on our gate), or the halting, meandering, mind-boggling pace of African bureaucracy.
But much more often than not, I have found myself more or less with a pleasant gift of peace. My God’s timing is perfect, channeling us toward that one little girl He has chosen, for her future and ours, and for His story. As much as I can hardly stand the thought of my daughter spending one more day in an orphanage, herded along and overlooked, my God sees her. Someday, I will wake up not to a lawyerly text, but to her wide brown eyes peeking over the side of my bed; to her warm figure scooped up and nestled next to mine.
Sweetheart, you are so worth it.
Janel Breitenstein graduated summa cum laude from John Brown University and began her career with NavPress, where she worked on The Message Bible. After having four children she resumed her professional career (around her momlife) by serving as a writer for FamilyLife. In January of 2012 Janel and her husband, John, packed up their family of six and moved to Uganda to serve with Engineering Ministries International (eMi), an organization that focuses on poverty relief and development, providing structural design and construction management for Christian organizations in the third world. Join us as we all learn first hand, through Janel’s posts, what it’s like to go from suburban America, to answer God’s call in Africa!