The final stretch, and the things that are making it bearable.

While Patrick and I traveled solo on our first trip to Ethiopia, the wonders of social media have made it possible to connect with many of the other families within our agency. Those of us that are currently in the same boat have found each other, and thus Facebook has recently served an entirely different purpose for me. While the twelve to fifteen families that frequent our page the most are people I’ve never met, I feel like they are the only people in the world who understand what I’m feeling right now.

We have collectively been supporting each other whilst simultaneously freaking each other out. As soon as someone hears an update from our agency regarding their case and posts the news, I immediately, unintentionally, and without much rationale, apply that information to my own situation. People have needed rewritten adoption decrees, police reports, interviews with birth family members, interviews with witnesses present during the ruling of an abandonment case, further proof of investigations regarding abandonment, MIA birth father identification… the list goes on. Every time someone has another hang up, I pessimistically assume that I am going to need this same information at some point. I have set myself up to expect negative news… it’s just what I do. I have such a hard time conceptualizing that things will work out.

After 6 weeks of anticipating it, we finally got our case submitted to the US Embassy (USE), which is the last big step in this game. Hearing the long awaited news that we’ve made it past the iron gates of the USE was really awesome, but the hardest part will be making it back out of the gate. The USE has been holding on tight to those cases, making it near impossible for anyone to please them enough to get visa clearance for their son or daughter. The families I know who had been submitted as long as a month ago are still in paperwork nightmares; only five out of 19 of us have cleared. I remain hopeful that much of my delay in getting submitted was due to requests made by, and already fulfilled for, the USE. I’m not at square one when it comes to their asking for additional info. Just wish I knew how many squares there were to go.

As mentioned in our last blog entry, these adoptions have all been finalized in the eyes of the Ethiopian government. It’s our own government that’s delaying the inevitable journey of these waiting children. Acacia is 14 months today. Each delay is more time away from her that I can never get back. I am so happy that most of our children are too young to know what the heck they are waiting for. It’s torture on this end, but I am confident that ignorance is bliss for the babies. Their nannies are awesome.

Amidst this all-too-painful elongated wait, I’m making a list of positive things that wouldn’t have happened if we’d returned to Ethiopia when we thought we would. This list pales heavily in comparison to the prize at the end of the path… but it’s all I’ve got.

1) Our fundraiser (see post from 9/18) was derived out of a need to keep busy and do something good. And we ended up with a literal boatload of baby products to donate, and enough cash to get extra bags checked and grant the orphanage with a sizeable donation. They discourage cash donations, so our task this week is to figure out the best way to utilize the money through existing projects in the area.

2) I got to attend my dear friend’s wedding, and witness the union of two beautiful families becoming one. I don’t think I’ve ever cried at a wedding, but I bawled like a baby when the couple’s first dance turned into a family huddle with their four children. Really powerful to see this family’s milestone, especially at a time where the conspicuous, non-nuclear family is something heavy on my mind (in a good way).

3) I took the old, beat up, red bureau that had been hiding in my closet, and a $5.00 yard sale score mirror, and painted them. Should’ve taken a “before” pic, but here’s the final product. Eat this, Pottery Barn!

4) I bought this picture frame to hang over Acacia’s crib, which I am filling with pictures of her and us. Seems small, but had this all gone quickly, I would never have had the time to do it.

5) I am delighting in the rapid growth and blossoming maturity of my soon-to-be three year old. Zinnia makes me smile like no other, and this extra 1-on-1 time with my first born is truly special.

6) Patrick’s insane marathon training plan has yet to be interrupted, and it’s safe to say he will survive the training without having to run circles in the courtyard of the Children’s Hope Intl. Transition Home. He’s been immensely dedicated, and I am so happy to see that he will achieve his goal.

On the subject of Patrick, I must say this amazingly trying process has strengthened us as a couple. I feel like by making it through this together, we can face anything. Thanks for being awesome, babe.

7) The Life is good music festival: fifth year volunteering, third year as a photographer. I had an incredible time and have some great pictures to add to my portfolio of musician’s portraits.

And there are many more great things that have happened in the last month. Time spent with friends and family in this calm-before-the-storm kind of atmosphere. Still, I can’t wait for the storm hit. “Eye on the prize,” our agency says, over and over. How can I begin to look anywhere else?

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