On Wednesday, May 13th, exactly three months from the day we mailed off a large packet of documents to the home study agency, we received our completed home study in the mail. To say we are excited is totally an understatement. The home study is only one piece of the puzzle in all of this, but it is the piece that was the most labor intensive and took the most time to complete. Not only is this the culmination of a lot of work, it allows us to move on to the next step. Which gets us very close to the end of this portion of the adoption process known as the “paper chase”. On Thursday morning (Campbell’s 7th birthday!), Bennett and I went to our local, much-frequented these days, post office store. We overnighted the compete I-800a application, with a receipt date of May 15th (the countdown starts from there – receipt date is a big deal!) I-800a is an application to the US Department of Citizenship and Immigration. It’s the first step in approving us to bring in a new citizen and approving Elliott’s citizenship in the United States. We sent in our application with a copy of our home study, birth certificates, marriage license, and fees. They will send us back an appointment to do fingerprints, then our approval will be processed several weeks to a month after that. This step is currently taking about 45 days altogether to be processed and approval received. This is the FINAL document we need for our dossier. We are so close! Our hope is that we can get this approval back by the end of June and our dossier will be sent to China by the middle of July. As we wait, we are completing some final steps to get all the rest of our documents ready to go. Once our dossier is in China, we will be eligible to be matched with our girl. And we all are so, so ready. To see her picture, to know how old she is, to pray for her knowing WHO we are praying for!
The beginning stages of adoption are fast and furious. Finding documents, making appointments, contacting references, going to the doctor, and other tasks. Not to mention that we began our adoption journey and began fundraising at the same time. February and March are somewhat of a blur – as we prepared for our home study, completed visits, compiled dossier documents, prepared for and pulled off our big fundraiser, and lived day to day life.
And then we got to April.
On April 1st we completed our second home study visit. Immediately after that we entered into a season of waiting. Right now we are waiting for our home study to be completed. We are looking at (hopefully!) this time next week having our completed, approved home study in our hands. Immediately after that we will send off for I-800a approval (initial step in US Government approval for Elliott’s citizenship). Presently this step is averaging 45-60 days.
So we’ll keep waiting.
With fewer tasks before me and more space for quiet in my thoughts, I find I’m learning a lot about the heart of God in this period of waiting. About the mystery of the love of God that pursues me relentlessly.
Somewhere across the world, a little girl lives and breaths that has no idea we exist. She is not thinking of us or wanting us. Her life right now is not what it should be, but she is likely too young to even grasp that.
And here we are. Desperate. Wishing time would hurry. Wanting to speed things along to the point that we are with her. Not because she has anything tangible to offer us, but because we love her and she is ours. We are planning our future around her, making big financial decisions based on her, getting our house ready for her, and taking steps to make her ours officially. All before she ever lays eyes on us.
And then I think about the Lord. About how, before I knew of Him, He came after me. When I didn’t even know I had a need yet, He was preparing a way to make me His. About how He gave me the ability to have His name, to be adopted into His family, and to be with Him forever, although I was sick in my own sin.
“The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
He waited me out.
I often think about how much I want to convey to Elliott that she was worth every wait, struggle, and dollar of this process. That she was worth far more than this. I used to think of international adoption as being staggeringly expensive. But now I question how I could have ever held up $35,000 against the life of a child that I love so much.
My hope for Elliott is that she can believe that she was worth this chase to get to her. That she finds value and confidence in that. I know that will not discount the pain and loss she has already experienced, but I want her to know – we came after you.
And then I think about words that I’ve heard so much, “Jesus paid the ultimate price for you”. Sometimes the weight of that fades. I wonder if, in his human moments, Jesus had to consider if his price, his cost, held up against my value. I’m so humbled He made the choice that He did.
I wonder if He hoped that I would find my foundation on that – that I, above everything else He could have on earth, was worth the cost. Could I place my value on that? The weight of that truth – before I had an spiritual gifts, any calling, any wisdom, or any discernment – He came after me. He was planning, preparing, arranging all that He had around the chase after me.
Elliott is loved. She is worth this pursuit. And so was I.