I am not sure where to start. It has been a VERY long time since I’ve written, since I have been busy with two first-graders (How did THAT happen! They were toddlers when I last wrote!), moving (18 months ago), two new jobs, a new church, surgery, and one last adoption.
Yes, one more. That’s what this story is about. Over two years ago, Steve and I decided that there was one more little Ferber out there for us. We were strongly influenced by the book Radical, by David Platt (strongly recommended), which talks about truly surrendering ALL to Jesus, and not necessarily expecting a comfortable life. I also had always had three children in my heart, from years back. And every time I saw or heard about someone adopting a new little one, my heart tugged a bit. So, we started the process, but we had big problems (moving, new job, being overwhelmed by the daunting needs we saw on the list of waiting (Special Focus) children from China). So, we moved to domestic adoption, but that never felt quite right for us; plus, we figured no young pregnant birth mom would every pick such geriatric parents. When China suddenly changed their policies in December of 2014, allowing parents our age opportunity to adopt children with more minor needs, we jumped back in. Got all our paperwork in, etc., and were LID (logged in with the China Center for Adoption Affairs) on August 7, 2015. Then, we waited. We looked at several files, some pretty closely, and struggled with decisions that ultimately brought us to the conclusion that these little ones weren’t OUR little ones. Since we were already unwilling experts at the adoption waiting game, I was praying that God would make this one a little easier, but we seemed to be traveling down a familiar road, as the six families ahead of us in our agency still waited, with no movement after our LID. We were approved for a 2 – 4 year-old girl with minor needs, but as soon as I turn 53 in February, we would be eligible for only children three and up. While more boys are available, I struggled with whether I could muster the energy for a little boy, and I truly longed for one more little girl.
Then, on December 7 (the sixth anniversary of our first flight to China to get Hannah), I was trolling (as usual) through the China Waiting Child Advocacy Facebook page, and I noticed twin girls, three years old. They piqued my interest, and I showed Steve their pictures. They looked healthy, with chubby cheeks. One was standing, solemnly making a V for victory sign with her right hand. The other was sitting in a green plastic chair, with left hand extended, trying to make a V for victory, or something. People were raving about them on the page, especially since their only listed need was esotrophia (I may be spelling this wrong), which means one eye (their right) looks inward, while the other eye is looking straight out. Seems like a pretty minor, correctible need, which was what we were looking for. (At 52 and 60, we knew we needed a child who could grow to be independent.)
The thing that really got me was Steve. He had been reluctant and sometimes pretty nervous about the severe, unpredictable, sometimes scary needs we were seeing. This time, however, he took the lead, and was more enthusiastic than I had ever seen him. So, I emailed for information.
The girls are with another agency, so adopting them would mean we would have to switch, which would mean money lost, but we didn’t hesitate. Once we looked over the files, we fell in love with “Natalie” and “Nicole,” as they were named by the agency, Gladney. After a couple of days of email tag, Steve finally talked with April on Friday, December 11, and we were told that the process was a little different than what we were used to with WACAP: We would have to write a letter, detailing why we thought we would be a good match for the twins, describing our plans for their medical care, etc. We also needed to turn in a copy of our home study, several pictures of our family and our house, etc. One other family had already completed that process and were also interested in the girls; we were told that once our documents were in, Gladney would choose between our two families on Wednesday, December 16.
We worked all day after church Sunday on that letter, determined to get the girls. We were in such harmony and agreement, and I felt that these girls were ours. Surely, no one would “out-write” me in our efforts to get them!
We submitted all of our stuff Sunday night, with a bit added Monday morning, and Steve checked to see if all had been received. I thought the wait until Wednesday would be a mere formality. These girls were ours; how could they possibly fit into another family?
I hadn’t told anyone any details yet; we had already been burned by a couple of near-misses on the adoption front, and they had felt like a punch in the gut. I vaguely mentioned to a few people that we had a possibility on the horizon, but I didn’t mention the magic word “twins.”
I emailed Steve during the day Monday, and he told me Gladney had gotten everything, and it was “in God’s hands.”
I got home, and Steve looked sad. I asked him how he was, and he said, not good, “New York called, and the other family got the girls.”
“What?” I choked in disbelief, then sobbed onto his shoulder. Although I knew on one level that, of course, the other family was probably a great family, I had felt firmly that these girls would be ours. Now, that possibility was utterly gone. That door was closed.
The girls saw me crying, and we told them. They were sad too, but they didn’t really get the whole situation, which is understandable for first graders. Then Hannah asked if this other family knew Jesus. I clutched her to me.
“I hope so,” I cried. I so wanted these sweet girls to grow up in faith. Now, I didn’t know if that would happen.
The rest of the week was filled with incredible pain, yet I still had to go to work; I couldn’t bear even explaining to anyone what had happened, especially since no one knew anything about the twins in the first place. I was so afraid of breaking down in front of people. I posted briefly on the Facebook page where I had found the girls, and those women tried to comfort and encourage, but I felt bereft. I cried any time I wasn’t in sight, and my heart felt so weighted down. Steve and I hugged a lot, and he was sad, too, although not as devastated as I. He did his best to comfort me, and let me vent. He bought me four roses, which was so sweet, but I thought of the four roses as the four girls that our family was meant to hold.
I prayed to God a lot, and a lot of it was angry, begging, even bitter. How could this be happening? This was a mistake. How could this amazing possibility of twins be presented to us, then be snatched away? I knew, from all of my searches, that the possibility of another pair of twins like this was incredibly slight, even nonexistent.
Part of me felt like I should let go of this hope, mourn the loss, and move on. But, every time I thought like that, another part of my heart shouted “NO!” I couldn’t give up, not yet.
Maybe this other family would change their minds. But, no, why would they ever change their minds? They wanted these girls, and they would love them. I needed to let it go.
NO! These girls are OURS! My heart kept shouting.
“This is a mistake, Lord!” I prayed in the car. “These girls are ours! They have to be! And we’re going to swim with them, and play with them, and teach them about Jesus, and show them their first snow, and watch them grow up. Please, Lord! You can do anything! You can make this happen.”
In my anger and sadness, I also realized that God loves me so much, broken, miserable sinner that I am. He loves me even when I rant and rave and complain. He was letting me vent and still loving me.
I had to decide whether I was “storming the gates of Heaven” in prayer, or if I was just losing my grip on reality. I remembered, with a cringe, begging God to bring my ex-boyfriend back (over 20 years ago). He didn’t, and for that, I was ultimately thankful. Maybe this was that kind of prayer.
But, maybe it was like the biblical Hannah’s persevering prayers. Maybe it was like the person in the parable Jesus told, who hassled the neighbor at night for bread for his houseguests. Jesus said that the neighbor would get up and give the man what he wanted, not necessarily because he was the man’s friend, but because of the man’s persistence. He was praying like a pit bull, and so was I: clamping down and not letting go.
As I pulled into the garage last night, I told God I would keep asking for these twins until I heard that the other family’s paperwork had gone through. That same day Steve was praying, “Is your arm too short, God?”
We went to a Timberwolves game that night, one of Steve’s Christmas gifts. My first NBA game. It felt good to get out and go on a date.
During the first quarter, Steve checked his phone, then said to me, “Honey, you’re going to want to read this.” It was from Gladney: The other family had decided not to pursue the twins after all, for their own personal reasons.
God is amazing. God is sovereign. He loves us so, but sometimes He lets us struggle, because He is going to do something even more amazing than we can ask or imagine. We wept in joy, awe, and disbelief, while a basketball game went on all around us.
We are still awestruck, one day later. We are heading into paperwork, U of MN adoption clinic reviews, and more money than we currently have. We believe God will provide, for us, and for these girls, because He has paved the way for us to become a family.
We used to call this prospective adoptive child “Ferber Number 3.” That doesn’t fit anymore, and “Ferber Numbers Three and Four” seems awkward. So, we will name this adventure, that looks to fill our table, our van, and our hearts, the name I gave this blog: Ferberama!
Amen. Alleluia, Sovereign God.