May 24th, 2009. 2:30pm (ish!) Best day of my life. I married my best friend.
June 21st, 2012. 2:58pm Second best day of my life. I received a referral for the two most beautiful children in the world.
That's right! WE GOT OUR REFERRAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :-D FINALLY!!!!! After 2.5 years of waiting, 17 months DTE, and enough tears to fill an ocean, we have a referral for our kids!!!!
First, can I say, Abe and I are over the moon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We've been freaking out every since Thursday, June 21st. when we got THE call. It was AMAZING. There is no way to describe the happiness and relief and JOY at knowing who our children are after 2.5 years of fighting for them. Most details of our referral are confidential, but they are a brother (deaf) and a sister (hearing). Absolutely GORGEOUS.
There is so much to this story that I cannot share. I wish I could. The details that would floor you. A story, that as it unfolds, becomes more complicated, and yet more intertwined with mine and Abe's life for the past several years, and even up to over a decade ago. A road with soooooo many stony, twisting paths, and mountains to climb. And so many, many miracles.
I'm going to try and tell as much of the story as I can but it won't be enough. Maybe someday I can share the whole story later, but right now it's just not time. Someday though. Because stories like this need to be told.
Let's go back to about 2000. I don't remember the exact year, to be honest. It must have been somewhere around there though. I was trying to teach myself some sign language so I could communicate with a nine year old deaf boy I met at work. My heart became burdened for orphans in Africa. Specifically deaf orphans. I told my Mom that I wanted to adopt a deaf child someday. She found information about an orphanage in Libya that specifically housed deaf children. I told her that someday I would adopt deaf children from Africa. And about that year, halfway across the world, my son was born.
2004. I entered college as an ASL-English interpreter. Either at this time, or in 2006, when I transferred to RIT (to become a better interpreter and to be surrounded by the deaf community), my daughter was born.
May 2009. Abe and I got married. We'd always known we wanted to internationally adopt deaf kids. We had agreed in March 2007 that should we get married, we would someday do just that. But not right away. Later. Like when we were in our mid-thirties. My dream of Africa was forgotten. We wanted to try and adopt Hispanic children.
January 2010. An earthquake shattered Haiti. Thousands upon thousands of children were left orphans. No one to care for them, no where to live, nothing to eat or drink. Many were injured. And they died like flies. My church personally sponsors an orphanage in Haiti and MANY of the children were killed in the earthquake. Six men from our church (military men, doctors, a chaplain) went down into Haiti with as much supplies as they could carry to get the kids out and move them to a safer area. What they found was horrors that still give them nightmares. Dead children everywhere. Dying children everywhere. When the group of guys returned, they shared stories that broke our hearts. We were in tears.
Abe and I hadn't wanted kids right away. We wanted our music to take off. We wanted to get a house. We wanted to pay off some school loans. We wanted to save for the adoption. I had an adoption account I had been saving money for, but had given it away to a missions outreach to children in the Philipines and we had nothing left to start the adoption process.
God told us to go ahead anyway.
We started the process on complete faith. I worked some extra hours and we came up with $1,000 for the first few fees. Then my grandfather's church sent us $3,100 to cover our homestudy. We were floored. And so grateful. It was proof that we were doing the right thing, even when all logic said we were crazy. Our friends held a fundraiser for us and gave us $300. We sold adoption bracelets and made about $300. People donated money to us, anywhere from $5-$500 (this is over the process of past 2.5 years that all this has happened). When (two summers ago) I complained once, during a particularly difficult time during this process, that I wished God would show me more support (this was on a Thursday), we got a check on Sunday, dated for Thursday, in the amount of $10,000--the exact amount needed to send our dossier to Ethiopia. It was like God had slapped me across the face and told me, "Just TRUST. I'm taking care of this." Abe and I have added up the rough numbers of all the donations we have received towards this process......and it has come to $16,000.00. How does that even happen???? This is SUCH a God thing. Absolutely mind-blowing.
Most of the details about how we came to recieve our referral are confidential. We can't share anything, basically. For those who are not familiar with the process, we are currently waiting on a court date. Court dates are typically 10-18 weeks after the referral. However, Ethiopian courts close Aug-Oct due to their rainy season, so there is a chance we could go early (before the second week of August), or there is a chance that we could miss courts before closure and have to wait till almost November for our first trip. If we pass court, then we go back for embassy 10-18 weeks after we pass court. We can bring the children home after passing embassy.
Back to our precious kids. I will call them "Levi" and "Zahria". They are brother and sister, and Levi is deaf. They are the most beautiful children I have ever seen. So amazing. Words can't describe them, and we love them with all our hearts. When we got "THE" call, I was lying on the couch with my little sister, watching a movie. I had recieved an email from my agency about ten minutes before and wasn't expecting a call. When my phone started ringing, I wasn't excited at all, since the agency calls me fairly often. In fact, I almost didn't take the call. Something told me to just answer and I did. My family coordinator (FC) said, "Hi, this ***** from (my agency). Do you have a few minutes and a computer?" I said yes and grabbed my laptop and went into the bedroom so that my sister could keep watching her movie. My FC said, "I emailed you a few minutes ago." I said, "Yeah, I got it," thinking she meant the email she had sent ten minutes before. She was quiet. I opened my email and there was an unread message, sent about a mnute before. The subject line said, "Issuing Referral". I couldn't breathe. My FC started talking and I tried to stay calm. About 30 seconds in, I asked, "Is this a referral call????" She said yes, and I started bawling. Like, hysterically. I couldn't see to write down any of the information she was giving me (luckily she emailed it all :)). I just listened and cried. I was SO happy.......completely overwhelmed. The past three weeks had been horrible stressful with adoption stuff and then to FINALLY hear those sweet words and to know that I had my kids was the craziest feeling ever. When i called Abe after, I was frantically trying to think of a cool way to tell him, since typically when I call, I say, "This is NOT a referral call!" so that he doesn't get excited and then disappointed. I thought about saying, "Hi Daddy!" and then decided that wouldn't be clear enough. Then he answered the phone and all I could say was, "Hi." And then I was silent for a few seconds. And then I started crying. Then I said, "Babe, they called. They are ours!!! Levi and Zahria are ours!!!!" And then I kept crying.
It is the most amazing thing in the world to be able to stare at their little faces every day, whenever we want, and to know that they are our kids, and that we will be bringing them home someday soon. I feel like I've lost 100lb......like this huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I feel relief, complete and utter relief. And I feel amazing joy. This is a MIRACLE and I can't believe it is FINALLY happening; FINALLY all coming together. After all the heartache and the pain, the seemingly endless fight, it's coming down to the home stretch. And it was all worth it. Every minute. Every time I look into their precious faces, I know that this was right. We were supposed to do this. These are our kids. And it is the most awe-inspiring, amazing, and scary feeling ever. I love these kids with everything I have and I will do anything for them. They are proof of God's love, His will, timing, and calling, of hard work and love, and of miracles. So many miracles.