Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Roller Coaster Ride of a Lifetime

Many will say adoption is like a roller coaster ride.  If you could stomach the above clip, it really does remind me of much of our journey.  The main difference is the fact this ride lasts around 3 minutes long while an adoption roller coaster is...well...a LOT longer.

This ride is very reflective of our journey.  The long upward crawl at the beginning of the ride is much of what you feel while gathering the many, many things needed to complete your dossier.  It's a straight one to two months of daily calls, sending papers, getting signatures, background checks, etc.  It's hard work and you feel like each and every check off the list is the click of the coaster going up that hill.  Then you are at the very tippy top of the first steep incline...your dossier is complete...and you send it off expecting that to be the first big rush of a drop on your ride, but when you finally get the view of what is ahead, you see it is not a fast drop, but instead a curve that allows you to slowly gain speed.  This unexpected first turn allows just enough time to swallow your anticipation and get ready for the first big drop.  The first fast movement--the first downhill drop is exhilarating.  You feel as if you are FINALLY going...really going on this ride and it seems as if nothing could slow you down.  Then comes the first upside down loop.  Yep, that really throws you for a loop...literally.  You could see it coming, but for some reason you think maybe, just maybe, the ride will magically swing you in a different direction, but no, you are strapped in and upside down before you even know it.  Twists and turns begin and as much as you can see what is in front of you, you still are surprised at the whiplash and stomach drop-outs you experience along the way.  It is horrifying and wonderfully thrilling all in the same breath.  And then just when you think you have the ride pretty figured out--predictable at least--that's when the dark tunnel engulfs you and you have NO idea where you are, what is ahead, or when you will come back into the light.  In those dark moments when all is unknown, however, you can still miraculously enjoy bits of the ride because you know you are strapped in and free from harm.  That even though you have no control yourself over where you are headed or what you are doing, someone still has the control and has a plan for the track you are on or the ride would have been shut down a long time ago and no one else would be allowed to ride it either.  Then all of a sudden, as quickly as you went into the dark you emerge to the blinding light of more twists and turns and loopy-loops.  At this point in the ride, you are still experiencing the rush involved in each of those drops and turns, but the newness has worn off and you find yourself contemplating when the ride will come to an end more than what will come next.  The ride has been worth the wait in line and the experience of it all, for sure, but you are ready to get off and begin a different ride at the park.  Before you know it, that roller coaster is halting...not at the very end, but just before the end.  That sudden jerk snaps you back to reality--the ride is almost over, but you're still trapped in this seat until the carts slowly move forward again until finally coming to a complete rest at the proper place...the safe place to exit.

For me, I feel as if we are just about to emerge from the darkness of the tunnel on our roller coaster ride.  We have had our fair share of twists, turns, and upside down moments before the darkness, but recently I have felt much more in the dark than knowing what exactly is in front of us.  To some degree this has been a scarey place that I did not like because I am typically by nature a control person.  We had no way of knowing anything when we were in the dark and it made me uncomfortable and uneasy.  However, for myself, it has also been a place where God has reminded me over and over that He is still in control, still has me securely strapped into the cart and will not let any harm come to me while I can not see myself.  It is a place where I have felt tired yet restful.  Excited yet frustrated.  Expectant yet questioning.  And now that we are right at the tail end of those moments in the dark tunnel where we can just see the glimmer of light again, I am thankful to have experienced that is making the light of the rest of the ride that much more brilliant and wonderful.

On November 25th we were told by our director the lawyer hoped to have our adoption decree by the end of that week, but then everything went silent.  We had no idea what was going on.  We were under the impression the decree did not come through and for whatever reason, we were stuck in Parquet like many of the other families have been.  We sent several emails over the past 23 days inquiring about the delay, but they were all met with either silence or an occasional encouragement to praise God even in the midst of this inconvenience.  It all led us to believe we were certainly "stuck" our ride in the dark tunnel for whatever reason just seemed to be stopped.  However, yesterday we found ourselves getting a glorious peek at the light up ahead.  We found out we have not been stuck in Parquet these entire 23 days, but instead have been moving through the next stage of the process where the legalizations of our adoption decree take place.  The lawyer is hopeful we will exit at the end of this week with the fully legal decree!  Hallelujah!  The news feels like our own little Christmas miracle!  Like a delay of almost a month was just erased from our process simply because we were in the dark tunnel.  Now we still have to get that decree signed at the end of this week as the lawyer is hopeful for and this, friends, is where we are focusing our prayers because there are always twists and turns of the unexpected on this ride.  When we get that message that the decree has been signed and Nora is officially a "Thieszen", we will bust out of that dark tunnel and continue the rest of the ride in the glimmering light of the SON again.  We will still have track left to ride...still have more uphill climbs and downhill rushes, loopy-loops, and turns before that sudden halt close to the end, but it will be the tail end of the ride for us and we will be so thankful to be there.

For those trying to keep track of our progress, the next part of the roller coaster ride will be MOI.  This stands for Ministry of Interior and it is the last department on the Haiti side of the process to put their own check over all of the paperwork and approve our little girl for her passport.  This can move lightening fast (a few families recently got through in a miraculous 9 days!!!!) or it could be months and months of correcting errors in the paperwork if they exist.  After passing through MOI, we will enter passports, which should be just a few days if all goes well.  Then our file will be complete on the Haiti side and ready to be passed onto the US side of things at the Embassy.  This is where things get interesting and could very possibly be those moments after the big halt of the roller coaster ride where we just slowly have to still inch forward to get to that safe exit area.  If you remember, Nora's birth mom forgot her ID card when going to the Embassy for her birth-parent interview and did not get rescheduled until February 12th.  The Embassy has informed me all of the other paperwork checks can be done before this interview, but I have no idea how long after that interview it would take for our paperwork to be finalized with a visa in hand.  We continue to trust God knows what all of this looks like and will pray for His Will to be carried out all the way to the very end of this ride.

A roller coaster ride, indeed!  Adoption is one very, very long roller coaster ride.  Like a real roller coaster ride, it draws in those seeking adventure, rush, and the thrills of getting strapped into a ride we don't have much control over.  It allows us to put our fears, our hesitations, and ourselves aside and trust that the One who built the ride meant for US to ride it!  That He will keep us safe throughout all the twists, turns, tunnels, and upside down moments and in the end, bring us through an amazing experience we will never forget.  To be honest, as much as I want to be the dare devil who rides all the crazy rides at real amusement parks, I don't typically get that chance because my stomach is too weak and I would end up being the one person you DON"T want to sit beside if you know what I mean.  Eeek.  I am so, so grateful God has allowed me to finally ride a roller coaster my stomach can handle...this one has been a crazy ride for sure and one I will never be sorry I took.  At this point however, I have to be honest and say, as much as I know there are more tracks to go over, I'm ready to get off this ride and enjoy the next part of the park...the kiddie rides, perhaps, with another little one in tow!

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