Sink or Swim

I hope I can accurately describe our current season. May I share that we have never been through a more taxing, more faith demanding season than this. I have survived through childhood sexual abuse and all the many agonizing situations that has created through the years, deployments, deaths, miscarriage … but no season has stretched us and challenged us to the depths that this season has required of us. I remember reading a blog where someone shared that their adoption journey was the hardest season of their lives … and I remember rolling my eyes and thinking what an easy life they must have had if adoption was the hardest thing they have endured. Boy, that bit me in the butt!

We are at the point in our adoption journey that we are making preparations to fly to Ukraine. While I wish that I could say that I am celebrating this immense victory, filled with the excitement of travel and the addition of these beautiful children … on the contrary, I find myself buried beneath the weight of counting the cost of this journey. It began a few weeks ago. Anxiety that began to build in my chest about the plane ride. I decided to start using lavender essential oils to try to calm my physical reactions to anxiety. The anxiety continued to mount as I considered the reality of leaving our six beautiful children in America for an unknown amount of time in Ukraine. I am a homeschooling mama who has only been away from my children when I am at the hospital giving birth to another child. Anxiety continues to deepen as I began to dwell on all the what-ifs and unknowns of this season.

I must be careful in what I share of the journey of the children we are pursuing because it is their story alone to share. One of the children we are pursuing has a complicated situation that is going to stretch us in our process. While I will not share the details, know that the decisions we make regarding this child could forever impact our family or it could halt her adoption all together. Anxiety begins to weigh very heavy upon my chest to the point where I think I may be having a heart attack. I begin to think about our sibling group of four and how we have been told they do not want to leave Ukraine, but there is not an official no at this point. Will they want to be a part of our family once they see us in Ukraine? Will we be forced to see these children who are choosing to walk away from a loving family and grasp naively at a destiny far too awful to conceive, regardless of the dreams they may be planning on. This chokes me up more than I can convey.

Thoughts go to our baby we are pursuing with Down’s syndrome. In all honesty, my husband is not at complete peace about this baby. It has nothing to do with her challenges, but that she is a baby. Starting over again with sleepless nights, bottles, baby in our bed – never mind that our 2 year old is still in our bed … I’m working on it, I promise! I told him that we would simply look through files of babies and if we do not find one that he feels a peace about, we can just ask for the file of one of the other children we are already pursuing – maybe God has this call for another time? Well, our facilitator said, “There’s plenty of babies, just pick one!” When I tried to explain that this is more of a faith motivated decision, he expressed how inappropriate it would be to go in looking for a baby and not choose a baby. *I imagine how crazy this all may sound – but it’s a part of the reality of our situation and I want to be transparent about what is on my heart. We explain more of the specifics of the Ukrainian adoption process in earlier posts.*

So right then and there my husband, by faith, had to commit to this baby that we will be choosing in Ukraine – based on my faith and belief that this is what God is calling us to do. You guys. This is terrifying to me. I know – I know – that God laid this on my heart. I explain the beautiful dance God did in my heart to get me to this place in an earlier post – Shifting Sands of the Heart. And yet, I have extreme respect for my husband and his walk with God. This entire journey we have been on the same page with exact passion in every turn … until this one. So for him to defer to my belief … it sets such a weight of responsibility on my heart. What if I am wrong? What if I take these steps and it all falls apart? And yet, I know. I know this baby girl is ours. I feel her sweet breath on my neck as I nestle her close. I know her name. I can feel the moment they place her in my arms. I have been praying for months for her and for her birth mother and for the people who may be caring for her. So even in the knowing there is an internal battle between truth and fear, peace and doubt.

Anxiety gets to a breaking point where I am fearful that I may not be able to handle the reality of this season coming to be. I think of the finances that we still need to raise. I think of the monthly cost that this will stretch our budget with diapers and formula and curriculum and sports activities. I worry about my bio children resenting me for leaving. I worry about their safety while we are away – even though God has always been faithful to protect us all these years. Would we be safe while traveling as Americans in Ukraine? Would everything go as planned with our adoptions? My eyes were solely upon all the worries, doubts and so many unknowns. I cried out to God for relief.

Then I get the phone call that is the final Jenga game piece that knocks the whole tower down. “Honey, my leave was denied.”

*stunned silence*

*ugly face cries*

*pounding headache*

*words completely escaping*

Rock. Bottom.

My husband has had full support of his job to pursue this adoption, since the moment he shared with them our journey – last year. Knowing we would not have much notice when we get our court dates, still his leadership was in full acknowledgement and support. Time comes to turn in all the official paperwork for his leave. Everyone who is in authority signs off and it is just one more step closer to our children. Until the final level of approval for leave  – denied. Denied because they require a longer period of notice for this type of travel – regardless of our situation. We call to try to explain – nope, against policy. It is a four day weekend – so we are left to wait and pray and completely freak out. We already have our tickets. Daniel needs to be there for all the decisions we must make while we are in country.

I lost it.

When I say I lost it, I mean, I could not form words. My husband literally stood in front of me with worry in his eyes asking if we needed to go to the ER. My head was pounding, my stomach one massive knot. I could barely breathe. I was afraid I was experiencing a stroke or a mental break. All the anxiety that had been building all the weeks prior came barreling down under the weight of this new revelation. And I was completely undone.

Slowly. After a few hours of praying, crying, sitting in stunned stillness, I got in the shower – I couldn’t move – I didn’t even close the door. I just stood there under cold water just trying to breathe and gain control of my mind again. Slowly. I was able to wash my hair and continue on with my shower. Numb of all emotions, I slowly got dressed and sat on my bed. Neither of us had eaten so he loaded us up and took us on a drive. Driving. Driving does something for our family. It’s where we have our deepest talks and our most honest prayers. It was here that God began to open my eyes and my heart to reality. I am okay.

I am okay. He guided me to see that all this time I had been focused on all the details of our circumstances and took my focus off of Him. Him – God – my Source of peace, my Source of strength, my Source of hope. Once my focus was back on Him, I realized that this did not kill us. Worst case scenario, I fly alone. I make the trip alone – but we still rescue our children. With my husband’s job, we knew from the beginning that there was a chance he would not be permitted to go so we chose for me to be the only one on the paperwork to adopt the children. He would still try to come, but would officially adopt the children when we got back to the States. Of course, now he did have approval to travel – save for this one woman who can’t see reality past the regulations … make a way, please Jesus!

I see it like a person who is pushed into the deep end of a pool, and thinks they will surely drown and die – only to realize that they, in fact, are alive and swimming! Swimming! In the deep waters!!! And this is what happened for me. Here I was so full of fear and doubt and God allowed this situation to transpire to just completely knock me on my bum so that I could realize that even in the worst case scenario, we will be okay. And now? Now we still are waiting for how this is going to play out (Jesus, help us!!!) but all that anxiety that was on my chest? Gone. Totally and completely gone! All those worries had crowded my view of God and now that He is all I can look to, I realize, He was the one I should have kept my focus on the whole time. After all, this was His journey to begin with! Praise His Name!

As I type these words, I think of Peter. Jesus calls Peter to come out of the boat and onto the water where Jesus was standing. Peter immediately gets out of the boat. As he approaches Christ, the waves around him catch his eye and overwhelms him. He begins to fall down into the ocean around him which forces his gaze back up upon Christ who reaches out to save him.

Matthew 14:29-33 “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” He said, “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

I was sinking – fast – but Jesus reached out and caught me – me of little faith.

Truly, He is the Son of God.

– C

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