Foster to Adopt ~ International ~ Intrafamily Adoption

How Can it be a Decade Already

How Can it be a Decade Already

How Can it be a Decade Already

 

I’m not sure how I can get through this post.  I have anticipated this since Thanksgiving.  I am, however, gonna get some help with this from some of my big kids and my husband.  Honestly, I’m beginning to feel the stages of anxiety flood over me and this aching love that I have for him, his family, and his country.

From Bart:

It took more than a year but on Dec 11, 2011, our precious Jude came to his forever home.  All the struggles, pain and agony were no more.  From October 2010 until the day we landed in the US from Ethiopia, it was a giant blur. When we returned home from Ethiopia in October
2010, we received word from USCIS that we would not be allowed to bring our boy home due to a mistake in our paperwork. Something that our homestudy agency and adoption agency should have caught.  We were told we didn’t exceed the income threshold to bring Jude to the US on a visa. We were stunned. We scrambled to show immigration that we had enough income but nothing worked.
All the while, I believed that God wouldn’t have allowed us to go all the way to Ethiopia and adopt a little boy and then not be able to bring him home.  My wife, on the other hand, was not as optimistic. She fell into a deep pit of despair and we lost her for the better part of a year. She was so distraught by this, she simply survived. She was a shell of a person.
She went back to work after staying home to school our children for many years. We also had another homestudy done. Brandi worked at JC Penney from around January to December of 2011. She worked different shifts and on the weekends.  It was simply awful. There were days I didn’t think she would survive. I just tried to console her and make her believe he would come home.
Then one day in November, I was at work and my supervisor told me I needed to go up front because my wife was there.  I thought something bad had happened but when I saw her she started crying.  All she could say is we are approved and Jude is coming home. We cried and rejoiced in the miracle God did in our family.
In just a couple week’s time, we were on a plane to Ethiopia. We were reunited with our little boy. We spent about 5 days in country and then we all flew home.  The rest of our kids were at the airport in Nashville when we landed.  Our family was whole again! Praise Jesus!
We love you, Jude! Happy 10th anniversary of your forever family!
How Can it be a Decade Already

From Alyssa:

I don’t remember too much about our adoption journey with Jude but I do remember some things. I remember my mom and dad sitting us kids down and talking about adopting another kid from Africa and I always knew that was a passion and a dream for my mom.
I was excited at the prospect of getting another brother or sister. I don’t remember much about how my parents personally went through this journey but I remember a few things. We had a fundraiser at our church and during Tater Day (a popular festival type thing at our previous hometown in Benton). I remember all the fundraisers and yard sales that we had to do to try and raise some money for the costs of adoption.
I remember having to go to school (even though I hadn’t really been in school and I had just came from being homeschooled most of my life). My parents both had to have full time jobs so they both worked while me and my younger siblings went to school and my older sister stayed home. That was hard for us. It was a hard transition but I knew it was for a good reason.
I remember having to stay with my Aunt Tera in Louisville while my parents went to meet my brother. They came home and we got to see pictures and videos of my brother and his friends at the orphanage. Seeing my mom and dad meet him and hug him for the first time was so special and I will always hold that memory in my heart.
And then things just stalled with his adoption. I don’t know many details but I do know something happened with one of the caseworkers. My mom and dad were devastated. It was hard seeing her in so much pain and sadness. I wanted to make it better so they could bring him home but I know there wouldn’t be much I could do to help.
I remember I was sitting downstairs and I heard screaming and crying upstairs and I ran up the stairs to check on my mom. She told me they were approved and we could bring him home finally after those hard few years. We were all so excited and we had very little time to get everything ready to bring him home but we got it done.
They went to Ethiopia a second time but I knew when they would come back I would have a new brother and I would have to take care of him and show him so much love so he would know how much we have cared for him and prayed for him. We waited anxiously at the Nashville Airport with a welcome home sign and some toys for Jude.
We saw them come from the terminal and I was so happy to see them but also in a little bit of shock because Jude was with them. I had a new brother finally! We all went home on a big bus and he held my hand the whole way home. He was so tiny and sweet and he didn’t say much because he knew no English. I practiced some Amharic but I only knew a few words.
We got home and I remember him being terrified of Francis, our pit bull. But I told him she was a good dog and he eventually warmed up to her. We got him a bath and settled him into his new room. Finally we have waited for that moment and I remember exactly all of the details of him coming home to us.
Jude is one of the kindest people I have ever met. He is so talented and funny and willing to help when I need him. I still have a video on my Facebook memories of him and I going through the alphabet and me teaching him how to say his ABCs. The journey was by no means easy but I know me and my family would go through it all over again to have him in our lives. We love you Jude!! Happy gotcha day :).

From Noah:

The beginning was tough. Mom and dad were in Africa for the most part and when they weren’t they were working. It was tough because they were doing everything possible to get him home. Once they got off that plane all those years ago, my perspective changed. No matter what color or race, everyone should be loved and treated equally in family no matter the challenges that arose since then.

As for Me

This journey has one that has had me naive of what adoption truly means.  It has me reflecting and honoring your birthfamily and your country.  You have brought such joy, laughter, and life to our family.

From the first day we saw your picture, until we met you in country, until our 15 month delay, until I reunion, until today… it is nothing short of God’s miracle.  He has shown up exactly when he was supposed too and He has showed out in such a way that it still has me humbled.

You are a blessing.  You are my blessing.  You added a piece to our lives that I didn’t even know was missing or needed.  Now, for those reading this, understand that there have been valleys and mountains because that is how adoption works and that is most certainly how families operate.

My mountains far outweigh the valleys yet the valleys have taught me so much more than I ever realized.  I know what true prayer warriors are.  I know what faith is…not saying “oh, of course I have faith” but actually living it and seeing it manifest all around me.

I know what it means to believe in the prophetic words of others, to trust those that I never wanted to trust, and to believe in the goodness of people, and to KNOW there is a God who hears me and captures every tear I have cried.

Most of the 15th months, I don’t remember.  It is like I have completely blocked that time out of my head.  I was simply on autopilot trying to survive.  There were so many “Christian friends” who would say “forget about him, he will never remember you, what are they going to do, let his country raise him.”

My words to them are you didn’t hold him, wipe his tears, hear his laughter, have his sweet hands on your face.  We did.  I will fight for him as hard as I fought to birth 3 of my children.  I will fight for him as hard as I fought for 2 of my kids when we took disclosure to trial.  I will fight for my son.

Fought We Did

We did away with the corrupt homestudy agency.  There was a new sheriff in town and she was sensitive, kind, and forthright.  We hired the best adoption attorney in the nation.  We redid and repaid for every stitch of our adoption through the grace of God.

After 15 mths, I called (against the wishes of our attorney) USCIS and talked to my NEW caseworker.  I asked what else we needed and I heard her say “You are done.  It is all in, reviewed, and accepted.  You are approved.  Go get your son.”

I can’t even type this out without losing it.  Those words.  My heart.  I sat there and I said over and over that I didn’t understand what she was saying.  She would repeat it and each time my wails and tears became louder and louder.  At one point, we were both crying.  I collapsed in the floor praising Jesus for His faithfulness.  She finally said “Ms Crum…book your flight and go get your baby.”

Grass Did Not Grow

Under my feet that day.  I don’t know what I was wearing, I was NOT wearing shoes, that I remember.  I grabbed the girls screaming WE WON WE WON WE WON and we jumped in the van.

I drove to Bart’s plant and we all ran in.  I am completely certain that I terrified the office workers.  I looked like I was on something because my face was swollen from crying, I had no shoes on and my girls were still in their night clothes.

They took us to a room (with a door and shut it LOL).  As I am pacing, he walks into the room and it was all in slow motion.  I ran to him shouting WE WON WE WON… we embrace… cried and praised God.

Flying to Ethiopia… Again

Once we landed, I felt like I did when I saw Tay and Shay.  My thoughts were he will not remember me.  He will be institutionalized.  He will be angry.  He will not accept us.  He will wonder where we have been.  He will be hardened in his spirit.  He was 5 now and he watched a lot of kids come and go.

As Woudneh (a post to come about Woudneh and Betty) pulled into the transition house, my heart was in my throat.  Woude was so excited.  The first thing I noticed was there were no children anywhere in the courtyard.  It was a vast difference from the last time.

He parked the car and I asked where my son was….I looked up and I saw several beautiful “mommies,” walking hand in hand and in the center of these women…there he was.  Oh…. my heart.  My baby.  My son.

I didn’t want to run, scream, and cry because that would scare him.  He was wearing white from head to toe and holding a beautiful bouquet of fresh wildflowers.  This moment.  I squatted down and said “Abinet, we came back for you.”  He hugged me so tightly and put his sweet hands on my face with a huge smile and said “mommy.”

Woudneh snapped this picture:

How Can it be a Decade Already

I cannot explain how I felt.  Peaceful.  Thankful.  Exhausted.  Joyful.  Relieved.  So many emotions and he captured this moment.  Look at Bart’s face.  Our family was whole again.  The trauma was over and my baby was back in my arms where he belongs.

We honor his country and his family often.  We talk about his mom all the time and how she was so sacrificial in all that she did and one day the Lord would be sweet and reunite us all.  One day.  Her greatest sorrow of sending her son off was our greatest joy at raising him.  That is not lost on me, at all.  She will forever have my heart and her son will ALWAYS know how much she loves him and wants him.

We don’t celebrate “gotcha” day around here.  Today, we honor his mom, his country, and the faithfulness of my God for showing up and showing out in His time and not ours.  Jude, it is an honor to be able to raise you.  You have had my heart since I was 10 years old.  You have had OUR hearts for the last 10 years, and you will have OUR hearts for an eternity.

 

How Can it be a Decade Already

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