My glass is half full just about all the time. If there’s anyone with a tendency to get her hopes up, it’s me. I just can’t help myself. I’ve always related really well to the optimism of Anne of Green Gables. My sister and I probably watched the Anne movies a couple hundred times growing up. And the books are even better. At some point in one of the movies, Anne dramatically says (and she’s always super dramatic), “I just can’t help soaring up on the wings of anticipation.” That might not be the exact quote, but I think of it often because so many times I feel exactly the same way. Even when I know I’m most likely going to come crashing down, I just can’t seem to keep my hopes on the ground. Marilla, Anne’s practical, no-nonsense caregiver, answers Anne by saying that she would rather do without “both flying and thud”. Anne most definitely does not share her sentiments, and I can’t say I share them either.
Since the day we got Peter’s referral, I was just sure that we would be travelling to get him before Christmas. Up to the day of the referral, our adoption journey had been remarkably fast. We had read about the inevitable hold-ups and glitches that come with adoption. But we were so thankful that we hadn’t seemed to experience any. The process went just about as fast as it could possibly go. And I felt confident that things would continue at that same pace. I prayed that we would get the RA (referral acceptance from China) quickly and that we could travel to Peter before even Thanksgiving. I had been told by a wise and rational friend who is also adopting a little boy from China that things just don’t move that quickly at this stage in the process. She said that most likely we would travel sometime after the New Year. And even though I knew she was better informed than me and usually right, I couldn’t picture travelling in January or February. I just knew it couldn’t be. Peter would surely be home before Christmas. My hopes were set on it, and I just couldn’t think otherwise. I didn’t want to think otherwise. Besides, I was praying, and I felt sure God was going to answer with speed. I quickly knit up Peter’s stocking for Christmas (I know I’m out of control- over the past two years, I have knit stockings for each of us), and I was ready. I was ready to celebrate Christmas with our little guy.
And then came the wait. The first 30-40 days were alright. It would’ve been excessively fast to receive the RA before 30 days, at the very least. But then came 50, 60, and now 70 days of waiting. Sometime after about day 40 the wait became pretty unbearable. My emotions were at a low, but I held onto my “before Christmas” ideal. We could still make it. It was possible. But then, a little over a week ago, I received the news that our RA was still another 2-3 weeks off. (And just a reminder- once we receive the RA, there are still another 2-3 months of approvals and paperwork and waiting until we actually board the plane.) On that same day, I was informed that some of the conditions at Peter’s orphanage are less ideal than we had realized. Then came my “thud”, as Marilla called it. My hopes came plummeting down, and I was devastated. It felt like forever until we would be able to go and get him. We would celebrate his 18, 19, and probably 20 month birthdays here at home before we could travel. We would be celebrating Christmas without him here. And I was heartbroken. Our family is incomplete without him and we all feel it. My glass was most definitely half empty.
I knew in my head that God was in control and that His timing was perfect. But I just wasn’t getting it. I wanted to scoop Peter up in my arms and bring him home, and I didn’t want to wait a second longer. Even if everything went as quickly as possible from that time on, it wasn’t fast enough. I wasn’t waiting well. I was trying, but it just wasn’t happening.
Then, last Tuesday, three things happened. And now I get it. First, a mom who just picked up her daughter from Peter’s orphanage emailed me a picture. There was a small group of children in the picture and she thought one of them might be Peter. As we enlarged and analyzed the picture on the computer screen, Mary declared, “I know my brother, and this is him”. We all agreed with Mary. He’s probably around 3 months old in the picture. Before that day, we had seven pictures of him- three at nine months, and four at 15 months. So it was a wonderful gift to receive this new but oldest picture.
Then at our Bible study group on Tuesday night, we were reading Proverbs 23. One of the verses caught my attention.
“Do not move an ancient boundary stone or encroach on the fields of the fatherless, for their Defender is strong; He will take up their case against you.” Proverbs 23:10
Finally, right before I went to bed that Tuesday night, I received an email from a friend. She was commenting on our recent news concerning Peter and the wait. And she mentioned how vexed God surely is with the plight of Peter and all the other children in orphanages around the world- even more vexed than me. He is angered by it, just like I am. Only He sees it ALL, and I don’t. She asked me, “Do you ever think about how He must feel with all that He knows about and sees? It’s a wonder He lets this world continue.”
And for whatever reason, it struck me and I truly got it- God sees Peter. He sees all the children in similar situations. And He is there. He is their Defender, and He is strong. God has been with Peter all along, before we even had any inclination to adopt. Seeing that early picture was a huge part of it for me. We didn’t have an adoption thought in our heads at the time the picture was taken, but God was with Peter then. He was there when Peter was born, and we had no clue. He’s been with Peter all along, when we weren’t. He’s cared for him up to this point and He can certainly take care of him for these LAST few months until He sends us to go get him. God has had a plan all along, and I feel so blessed that He’s letting us have a small part in it. We get to play a part in Peter’s life, and I am so thankful. Our circumstance hasn’t changed, but my heart has. The wait continues, but I can be patient now. I can wait until it’s time for us to join the work God”s already doing. I feel humbled and thankful. And I finally get it. I’m at peace with the wait.
We will celebrate Christmas this year with Peter in our hearts. And after that, at just the right time, we’re out of here!