It’s been a rough morning. Okay, a rough week. Month? Does it ever feel to you like Satan is screwing with your head?
I backed out of the garage too fast this morning and nicked the bottom of the overhead door. It bent like a tin can, but not before ripping the spoiler off our van and pinning the vehicle inside the garage. I’m not heartbroken about the minivan (vehicles are so not our thing — I happen to love my ’98 loser-cruiser, just not enough to fix a broken spoiler) or the garage door (it’s just the bottom panel, and I’m sure it’s quite fixable), but I did weep over the fact that the running tally in my head continues to jump up in alarming increments.
You see, I was on my way to pick up my nine-year-old son who just so happened to lose two-thirds of one of his (front! permanent!) teeth in a hockey accident last night. We were going to the dentist where the bill would only get bigger (I’m sure our emergency after-hours visit last night was far from cheap). And I had just gotten the cracked portion of his tooth from the dorm fridge where it was steeping in milk amidst the clutter of all our other groceries… Because a couple of days ago our refrigerator went to appliance heaven (hell?) and left us feeling very European (I have to buy my groceries daily because I don’t have anywhere to keep them).
Busted refrigerators, ruined teeth, damaged garage doors, wounded vans… Alone, not so intimidating. Together? Just a bit overwhelming. But in light of our recent decision, all of this feels like nothing less than an attack…
Last week Wednesday the Baart family made the momentous, life-changing, thrilling decision to pursue the adoption of a little girl from the orphanage our non-profit supports in Liberia. Technically, Liberia is closed to adoption, but it is allowed in certain, very special cases. This darling little girl has caustic lye syndrome (she swallowed battery acid as a toddler) and will die without proper medical intervention. One Body One Hope (our NGO) has been working since mid-November to get her the care that she so desperately needs. First we tried every hospital in-country. Then, hospitals in Africa (Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana) and the nearest Mercy Ship. All a no-go. Next we pursued refugee status and a non-immigrant, medical visa. Denied and denied. Our final option is medical adoption, and as her story unfolded day-by-day, it became obvious that Aaron and I were being asked to be a part of it. A big part of it. Her daddy and mommy, to put a very fine point on it. And?
JOY! Pure, unexpected, utter joy! I can’t begin to tell you how my mother’s heart has grown to take her in, how I can’t go a single minute of the day without thinking about her, how I have loved seeing my sons embrace this idea with enthusiasm and the faith of, well, children. Oh, the stories I will get to tell my little girl. About how her brothers already fight over her, vying for her affection even though she is not yet here to give it. About how a dear friend gave me a t-shirt with the outline of Africa embellished in buttons and ribbons and embroidery — a pretty, robin’s egg blue that just so happens to look lovely with the matching pale pink shirt her own daughter will wear. About my silly daydreams and hopes for fingernail painting and strawberry flavored lip gloss and happily ever after endings. I am beside myself.
And, oh! How our decision has been affirmed! After we were heart and soul “yes,” I quickly sent off photos to our adoption provider (who just so happened to be in-country), and found out mere hours later that our case was approved by the Minister of Health in Liberia. This. Is. Huge. Ten cases were presented, only two were approved. Wow. And then people started calling and emailing to tell us that they were praying for this exact thing, that the answer to the problem had been clear to them all along. In our own souls? Peace. Perfect peace.
Money? Did someone say something about money? Bah. God will provide. Never mind the fact that we suddenly have to come up with $15,000 in a couple of months. We believe in miracles.
Then our refrigerator broke. My son mangled his mouth. I backed into the garage door and damaged the van.
I won’t lie. I cried this morning. Good and hard. And rightly so. I believe it’s okay to be discouraged from time to time. I’m not rethinking or regretting anything, but I did go through a couple of hours this morning when one word echoed over and over in my head:
How in the world are we going to pull this off?
We don’t have the money. Or the time, the space, the means, the ability. I am not a nurse. I don’t know how to care for her medical needs. Aaron is not a doctor. We struggle to make ends meet sometimes and worry about bills and insurance and whether or not we’ll be able to provide for our children the way that we want to. We’re busy. We’re selfish and ugly sometimes and we worry about rather ridiculous First World problems (see rest of post). And in the midst of it all, we’re going through a major life change, an intentional, sometimes difficult process of simplifying our lives and dialing back our expectations. We’re selling our six-bedroom, five-bathroom, four-stall garage house so that we can move into a lovely home that’s just over half the size of where we currently live. We’ll all share bedrooms and bathrooms and living space. We’ll cram our bikes and wagons and strollers into a garage with asbestos in the ceiling (that Aaron will have to painstakingly remove) and get rid of everything that doesn’t fit. In the midst of it all? We are making room for her. Sweet child. Precious girl.
What wouldn’t we give up for you?
And yet, it’s hard. We step out in an act of blind, divine faith, for what can account for the unyielding belief that somehow, in some way, and in all things “God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”? It’s beyond our comprehension. Certainly beyond our ability to explain it. But we feel like we’ve been called. What choice do we have but to go?
I feel like my “rough week” is little more than God pulling an Evel Knievel move. I say, “You can’t possibly help us manage a spur-of-the-moment international adoption!” And he says, “Watch me.” Poof. The Minister of Health approves our case. Our home study provider can update our home study almost immediately. The local police station is able to do fingerprints and background checks today. “But I’m worried about money!” I cry. And instead of magically ballooning our bank account to cover the sudden expenses, he throws in a broken refrigerator, a cracked tooth, a ruined garage door and a fractured van. (More? We’ll see.) Like a stunt man adding one more car to the pile, one more hurdle to jump so that the feat is even more miraculous than we had at first hoped and imagined, God is making our situation just a bit more impossible right now. And while we doubt and scratch our heads and ask how, he says two words: