We chose foster care. We filled out the paperwork. The moment I dropped off the paperwork, I felt a pit in my stomach. I called the coordinator and asked her to please just hold it. I knew in my head that we wanted to do this. So why did I feel this way? So, we chose the agency. We chose the country. There would be a wait list, and a year or two at least before placement. Time to prepare our home. Time to prepare our finances. Time to settle in a little more comfortably as a family of five, before we became a family of six. Perfect. We began filling out more paperwork. We chose the home study agency and contacted the social worker coordinator, and made plans. As my excitement grew, I told a few people closest to me. Reactions were often less than encouraging. "Why do you feel like your family isn't complete?" "I don't get it." "Maybe you should wait..."
It is so hard to explain the empty space where your child should be, when you have perfectly wonderful children already whom you love and adore. But it is impossible to ignore. When she should be in the empty chair at the table. When you kiss the foreheads at night and you know one is missing. It's like living with a ghost. A shadow, a memory, except there is a space of void where memories are waiting to be made. Ever present, ever missed, ever longed for, wanted. No, I am not crazy. God specifically created me to feel this. How and why else would we search for a child that we didn't know? I was made to be their mama. Her mama.
So there I sat, with all of my perfect plans. I read a post from a friend on facebook. She mentioned praying for waiting children. The ones that nobody is waiting in line to adopt. Their crimes of being too old, and too flawed had left them not only abandoned by their first parents, but by the adoption community as well. It had been a while since I had paused to pray for these precious ones, so I hopped onto the waiting child website to pray hope and life over them. So, so many precious lives just wait. So many beautiful little souls. Immediately, my eye was drawn to this face.
How could it not be, right? My jaw dropped initially at just her utter cuteness. A light shines so brightly from that beautiful smile. Do you see it? Amazing. Suddenly the "awe" factor was replaced with bewilderment, confusion, and almost anger. WHY is this child still waiting?! Seven years she as waited?! Albinism. Ok.... who cares?! She is extra special, people! I shared her on facebook. It must be that people just don't know she exists. No way a waiting family will see her and not RACE to the adoption agency, and then to China to bring her home! I posted. I shared. I wrote these words...
"Somebody better adopt this kid before I have to!"
As I hit the post button on my facebook page, a light bulb went off. Wait. Hold the phone. Delete that post before someone else inquires. That's her. There she is! That's OUR girl. I argued with myself. Um, she is in China. China is not the plan. Do we even qualify for China? Pretty sure we don't. You know nothing about albinism. She has probably already been matched anyway and they just haven't updated her file. She's not a black child. That was the plan. Africa is the plan. You know nothing about China or albinism, or this child. Get it together, Jennifer.
I decided to send Richard her picture via text. He was usually my voice of reason. He would calm me down, remind me of the plan, tell me I am crazy, etc. His response... "Oh my.... ASK!" He saw it too. He saw her preciousness and her perfect beauty. The light that shines from within. If I haven't mentioned recently, I am so glad I married that man. :)
And so began our journey to our precious Lucy girl. We were chosen to be her family. We did qualify, we were approved, and so far we have flown through every step and and every piece of paper chase with ease. We have learned about her needs and connected with other families that have adopted children with albinism and low vision. We joined NOAH and have monthly conference calls that help us to prepare for her needs as well. We are learning about her beautiful home country and culture. We have become friends with families that have adopted or are in process of adopting her friends from the orphanage. We will remain connected for life as they are a huge part of her story and are like family to her. What a gift. The entire journey has been so clearly orchestrated by God. She is so loved, so clearly covered in prayer. Soon, I will be in China holding her hand as we step into uncharted territory for both of us. But we will be together at last. We've waited a long time for her, and she's waited even longer for us.
“And then my soul saw you and it kind of went "Oh there you are. I've been looking for you.”