The journey began only 4,600 miles away. For the last nine months, though, it might as well have been a million. So many challenges; so many hurdles to overcome; so many setbacks and victories and breakthroughs…..so much God has worked in our own hearts as He also, no doubt, prepared those little hearts to receive us. We are not the same people who began this journey a million miles and nine months ago.
I think often we ask God to do major things in our lives, or at lease we hope that He will. Sometimes those processes seem like they take forever, like we will never arrive or the brokenness will never end. The most impact thing I’ve learned through this adoption so far, and I believe there is much more to go, is how God looks at our lives through many facets. I’ve already written about discovering this process wasn’t about me. Well, it is, but it isn’t. Or it isn’t JUST. Anything God is doing in your life is always about so many other people and situations and activities in which God is working. He has many different angles into which His plan is unfolding. Reading about our revelation of God adopting all of us may have deeply impacted your journey with God. Or God may use the adversity we’ve faced to help encourage someone else. Or maybe as we made this 4,600 mile journey to Poland, our contact with the foster parents, or the adoption center, or the social worker, or a slightly racist rabbi from NYC on a train, may plant a seed into their heart of something else God is working for them. Our obedience to this journey back in June may have been the key to someone’s heart being drawn to God. Your journey may be a million miles, or just 4,600. Many other’s journey will run parallel to yours or touch yours in some way. God is a comprehensive God…..using situations in all of our lives to teach us, yes, but also to influence and work on the hearts of others. This has been a major revelation for us which seemed to come together on this first trip.
As we boarded an airplane in Chicago for the long flight to Brussels, Belgium and then on to Warsaw, praying for our pilots, we knew every hour in the air was a few hundred miles closer to meeting our children….and all those God had ordained to parallel our journeys. We arrived in Warsaw
(officially pronounced “var-sha-vah”) after 24 hours of straight travel and immediately boarded a train for Krakow (officially pronounced “kra-kov”). We wanted to spend a couple of days decompressing from “American life” before we headed into important meetings. For the record, Krakow is a wonderful place. We loved the people, the ambiance, the charm, and, of course, the food!
After enjoying Krakow for a few days and visiting Auschwitz, the most notorious of Nazi Germany’s Concentration Camps where 1.1 million people, 900,000 of whom were Jews were murdered, we headed back to Warsaw for one night. After 4,300 miles, we had a majorly important meeting with adoption center officials before we could make the last 300 mile journey to finally kiss & hug children we had only loved in our hearts. This meeting was HUGE. The adoption center had been critical of a few things in our dossier and had delayed and even threatened (at least it felt that way) to stop the process. We knew they had the power to send us home. We had been praying about this meeting for a while and were confident in the plan of God. Maybe He was working on these officials hearts through us?? Definitely.
On April 16th, we met with the adoption officials in Warsaw. They were kind, and overall, we enjoyed meeting them. We took gifts of Indiana University mugs filled with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, as these are a rarity in Eastern Europe. They asked us lots of questions about how we would manage to have eight children. We did our best to share our hearts, explain our plans, and help them understand. I think a lot of people do not understand how God helps us do seemingly impossible things. They did not question our motivation, just wondered if we were nuts. Maybe we are! But to be honest, living safely and securely through your whole life without attempting God-Sized-Things is boring and frankly, insulting to a God who specializes in impossible things! If I’m going down, I’m going down swinging! We honestly do not know what the new dynamic of our family will be. What will it be like to have eight children? How will we make sure and connect to each one? Do we have enough time in the day or love in our heart to give ourselves to all of them? I know in my heart the answer to all these questions is positive, with God’s guidance and help. God will help us and we will just do it. We do have some thoughts and strategies we plan to implement. BUT, how does one really know how God’s plan will ultimately unfold? I always want to know; I always beg God to tell me, but He generally doesn’t. Walking in the unknown without guarantees and clarity on the outcome is called faith. I can do faith.
The meeting went well, we felt, and we left immediately for the town in Norther Poland, in the region known as Pomerania, where the children live. 300 miles to go. We arrived around dinner time and enjoyed some great pizza. I know! It’s amazing how good the pizza is in Eastern Europe. So much better than most of what we get in the States. Our hotel was descent and we settled into our room for one final night with the children only existing in our hearts, 2 miles away.
I cannot describe the nervousness we felt as we approached the apartment where the children lived. Our hearts were thumping hard and we had butterflies in our stomachs.
When you have biological children, you are at least assured they have no history before you. There are no other adults who have had influence in their lives. You are all they have known, and for the foreseeable future, all they will know. This is not the case when adopting children. What if they dislike us or worse, are afraid of us? What if we struggle to make connections or bond with them? What if…….? Crazy things run through your heads at this point. In all honestly, we knew very little about them. We had basic medical info and opinions from psychologist, but not much. I can tell you everything you want to know about my biological children. I was there when they were born, and nearly ever day since. What I didn’t know about my new children was intimidating. Nonetheless…..we continued. We knew this was God’s plan for us and for them.
We were buzzed in and began traversing the staircase to their apartment. We counted the steps. 85. We felt so close to them, yet so far away from truly knowing them and making them ours. I mean it’s one thing to meet them and love on them and begin parenting them….it’s another thing entirely to know what makes them tick, who they are inside, and beginning to understand God’s plan for their lives as He so graciously and miraculously changes their family tree. 85 steps. We got to step 60 or so and they had come down to meet us, or at least get a first look to see what they could see. They had been waiting for us too. For about a month (after our official approval, the children were informed they were being adopted and pictures from our dossier sent to them). When I turned the corner and laid eyes on that first little girl it took my breath away….just like the moment of birth for my other children. Then I saw two more. And finally, on entering the house, I got a brief glimpse of the oldest. They were/are beautiful. I just kept saying to myself, “I almost can’t believe they are real!”
We felt like we’d come a million miles to this point. However we began to realize the real adventure was just beginning!