Good news: our homestudy is finished, wooohoooo! Yet somehow we are in a new level of frustrating suspension with our adoption in a scenario I could not see coming. Boooo
Remember our homestudy was originally estimated to be done mid-October but then we hit that snag of our agency being hesitant to complete homestudies for our kid’s country. That bump was overcome by adding an umbrella agency to sign off on everything (for a hefty fee).
But the flow of the homestudy process had been interrupted and it was many weeks before we could reschedule for our final meeting. After that it was Thanksgiving and Christmas. Next the first draft of the homestudy had to be reviewed by ourselves, facilitation team, and umbrella agency. The various revisions took place, a second draft was sent out to everyone and returned then sent to our social worker’s supervisor for final approval. During all this our social worker was dealing with many crisis with other clients and trying to juggle it all herself.
Everyone had a joint email conversation last week to make sure we were all on the same page for who needed what paperwork and then on Monday the much anticipated package arrived in the mail… with only a few of the necessary documents…
I immediately sent an email asking for new documents. Since we are doing two original identical dossiers, we couldn’t just get one additional piece of paper, we needed new notarized copies all with the same date in order to have the right amount. The rest of the week was filled with me emailing and calling the office trying to get answers. Finally I called and emailed back to back offering to drive up, over 2 hours one way, to pick up the documents in person to speed things up. Later that day I received a short, sweet email from our social worker apologizing for the lack of communication. It turned out that in addition to dealing with other people’s lives, her own health threw us all curve ball and suddenly she was off work till February 8th at the earliest depending on health recovery.
The first part of me said “rest, recover, we can wait”
The less gracious part of me since then keeps thinking “can’t you just ______? just have someone else print off the copies of the homestudies? just have the notary visit your house (or hospital, they must have a notary in the hospital right?) so you can sign it? just have an assistant mail them? just have a supervisor sign them? because although my children at home can wait in safety and love for this adoption process to continue, I can’t say the same for my children waiting in orphanages.”
I’ve always known being a social worker must be an extremely draining profession and now that we’ve been in the adoption process I feel for social workers more than ever. I’m sure those thoughts are already on her mind, plaguing her even while she tries to recover; it’s that burden of being in a profession where you help others. My husband is a pastor. I am an occupational therapist. I know this life.
It is the details that really irk me: 4 copies, not 3; all with the same date, no leeway. Third round of FBI fingerprints with at least one more to go because weeks have turned to months and ya never, we coulda become hardened criminals since September. These details whittle down my hope, nag, delay, drain our bank account, keep children confined. I’m convinced the devil is in the details.
Then I remember God is in the big picture.
God IS the big picture.
I get caught in those details, important details, numbers, statistics. They are sobering and should not be overlooked, stats such as 10% of children who live long enough to age out of the orphanage and are put out in the streets commit suicide within the first year, over 70% of girls are funneled straight into sex trafficking, and let’s not forget that the children with disabilities who don’t go on the streets are placed in adult mental institutions where over 90% die within the first year from abuse and neglect.
It is a lot to take in. It is more than one social worker can carry, more than one family can handle, more than one organization can aid, more than one government can reform. It’s more than anyone can take in – well, more than any one person can conquer, except One.
Last Sunday I had the opportunity to work with a dear woman who is in the early stages of dementia. Details such as her age, date, and middle name were all pretty fluid, but when she heard that it was Sunday she did know she wanted to go to church. I sat with her through the service and before the pastor arrived I asked her what her favorite hymn was. In classic form she answered with a vague response of “oh, I like them all.” When the first chords hit for Amazing Grace she leaned over to me and said “I like this one” and then sang from memory every verse in her thin warbly voice. When the service was over she turned to me with no recognition in her eyes. She did not know where she was, who I was, why she was there. As I calmly oriented her and reassured her she was exactly where she needed to be, that her kids (grandparents themselves) did not need her right now, and everything was okay, I marveled at our minds. She had participated fully in the service, knowing the creed and Lord’s prayer without a single hesitation; the daily details had no hold on her mind but she could confess a deep abiding faith.
You know what gave me a glimpse of the big picture, God’s picture, this week? Listening to this lady sing out “through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come; ’tis grace hath brought me safe thus far; and grace shall lead me home.”
I was given that glimpse the day before we received the incorrect documents, the day before the week when life seemed to come to a pointless infuriating halt. I didn’t think back on that moment until I heard this performance by The Piano Guys combining Fight Song and Amazing Grace on Thursday. That was the day I learned our social worker could not get our documents done anytime soon.
As upbeat as Rachel Platten’s Fight Song is, I couldn’t sing the words this week
“This is my fight song
Take back my life song
Prove I’m alright song
My power’s turned on
Starting right now I’ll be strong
I’ll play my fight song
And I don’t really care if nobody else believes
‘Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me”
I didn’t have much fight left in me this week and I wasn’t particularly strong – our dear social worker could probably say the same thing for her own situation.
It’s hard to fight when all you are up against are a lot of details. The devil is in those details though and more than anything this week has been a time of spiritual turmoil. I don’t know if the piano guys had this in mind when they combined those two songs, but I like how the Fight Song, which is all about your own strength, is book-ended with Amazing Grace, which is all about what God has done for you.
“The Lord has promised good to me,
His Word my hope secures;
He will my Shield and Portion be,
As long as life endures”
Endures is not the most optimistic word, it is what you do when you don’t have a lot of fight left in you but you also haven’t given up. Angelina and Travis are enduring in their orphanages. Our social worker is enduring as she recovers. I am enduring despite the devilish details because I trust in God’s big picture even though I cannot see it.
Please pray for our endurance, for Angelina and Travis, for our social worker, for my family. Goodness knows we need it.