This week has been a crazy roller coaster ride of ups and downs. It's been a week of fear. Of faith. A week of miracles and promises of things to come.
Okay, first I need to back up to April. We applied for a grant in April (we haven't done that in years, because we never end up getting help). My friend had called me and insisted that I apply and so I did. The application was very reasonable and I had it submitted pretty quickly. I got an email confirmation from the grant board (they were so kind!) and was told I would be notified in a few weeks after the board had met to discuss our situation.
Now please understand, we don't have any money left. We have paid for Nat's adoption up to this point and we have just enough money to cover our last in-country fees, but we don't have anything for embassy flights. And no prospects of getting anything. There was another grant that we applied for, but that fell through. And even though we weren't worried, we were definitely wondering how God was going to make this embassy trip happen.
Long story short, the grant called me at the end of May. They said they were extremely touched by our story, and that they wanted to sponsor us. They said they would cover mine and Abe's tickets BOTH trips.....AND Natalie's ticket. AND they said they would help us when it is Micah's turn to come home.
I started crying.
Fast forward to two weeks ago. I contacted the grant and asked if they would consider paying for Levi instead of Abe for the trip. I explained that Abe only had a few vacation days left because he had stayed home with the kids in February so that I could visit Natalie and prove to her that we loved her. I told them that Abe and I wanted to spend his vacation at home, in America, together as a family. If Abe traveled, then all his vacation would be used up on an airplane. I explained why I wanted Levi to go with me; he's 15 and old enough to help. He is deaf and he has been through this and can relate to her like no one else. The grant told me they would discuss it and get back to me.
And now we can start the story of this week.
I started emailing our travel agent about possible flights. Our agency has said that we were on track to be submitted to embassy for Wednesday, and I wanted to make sure there would be flights around my embassy appointment.
I sent our travel agent a couple of dates and she emailed me back and said that just about all the flights were full because of the July 4th weekend. She had a Saturday-Saturday flight open. Tickets were $2,500 each for me and Levi, with Zahria's being $2,000 and Natalie's $1,000. We checked other flights and dates and even other airlines but nothing was open, and definitely NOTHING for four people.
I was hesitant. That was a LOT of money and we hadn't heard back from the grant or even been submitted. I asked when the next available flight was that would fit our needs. She told me July 5th, landing in Addis on the 6th.
PROBLEM. When we were in ET for court, Natalie demanded to know how many days until we came back for her. Since she doesn't have language and can't understand a range, I had to give her an arbitrary number. Lots of families were clearing in 3-4 weeks. I didn't want to give her a huge number and I was afraid to give her a smaller one. So I ended up telling her 30 days. To which, she immediately signed, "TOMORROW, 29." Shoot. Sometimes she's too smart.
Several people have given me a difficult time about making her a promise. They told me, "Well, you shouldn't have made her a promise. That wasn't very smart." Okay. You try telling a sobbing 11-year old that you don't know when you're coming back, after she's been waiting a year and you already left her six MONTHS ago. You look into her heartbroken eyes, her lonely heart, and give her some vague answer. YOU tell her.
I called Abe and we talked about the flights. Actually, I called him like six times. We prayed. We waited. We discussed pros and cons. If we bought the tickets for the 28th, we might not even be submitted. But our promise to Natalie would be kept. If we bought tickets for July 5th, we would have a safer bet with embassy. But we would arrive at day 31 for Natalie. While I don't know this for sure, I think that would destroy some trust. Natalie is a Type A. She has been waiting a YEAR. I made her a deal. And I think showing up even a day late would prove to her that I am just one more adult that she can't trust. And that would have lasting effects on our relationship.
We didn't buy the tickets.
Levi, Z and I went to our friend's house to work. The kids do his lawnscaping, and he pays them well. While we were there, I got an email from the grant:
After much prayer, we have decided to say yes! We will pay for Levi to travel with you instead of Abe.
Candidly, we have never allowed for this before, but God put it on our hearts to make this happen.
What is the timing?
To God be the glory!"
I started crying a little. Here I was, worrying my little heart out, and God was giving me a sign. He was saying, "CALM THE FRICK DOWN, Marissa. I've GOT this. I SPOKE the world into existence. I can handle this embassy trip."
I turned to Z and told her what had happened. She said, "Mommy, we need to be on that plane." BOOM. I called Abe. And he said something crazy. "Marissa, go buy the tickets. I'm really feeling that's what we need to do. It's not even a question anymore. Just buy them." This, from my over-analytical, extremely cautious, non-risk taking, slow and careful decision making husband.
I called our agent. She said tickets had gone up. $2,600 each for me and Levi. $2,200 for Z. $1,200 for Natalie. The tickets were non-refundable. Penalties for changing them were $500 each plus the difference in the next ticket. I was still having a heart attack inside, and feeling stressed out. I am always the one who knows what to do and who makes the judgement call. I'm the one with the gut feeling. And for this situation, I was so lost. Yes or no, yes or no?????? I prayed again. No answer. I called Abe again. He told me to buy them. He was so confident. And then I realized something. Maybe God was trying to teach me to follow ABE. Maybe I had no answers because God wanted me to go with Abe's direction.
I told the travel agent to buy the tickets.
She freaked. This is the same kind lady who helped us last time; the sweet angel who reserved our tickets for Levi and Z without even contacting us, who saved us last time. This poor woman was like, "Marissa, don't you want to wait till tomorrow morning when you find out if you have even been SUBMITTED? You could lose ALL this money and not even get an embassy date. I don't think this is a wise idea."
I called poor Abe one more time. He stood firm. And I called the agent back.
Even though I was pretty sure I knew what God was teaching me, I will admit, I was a nervous stress ball ALL. NIGHT. My heart was racing and I was dying for 9am. $8,500. $8,500. Had we been irresponsible and rash? Couldn't we have waited till the morning??? If God wanted us to have those tickets, they would still be available in the morning, right? But maybe more expensive. And what about our promise to Natalie? And with the fact that we didn't know our embassy date, and the limited flights, we had to book a week long trip. We had originally planned to be in country only three days. Why a week long trip? What were we supposed to do for a week?
I sat on my couch from the moment I arrived home from work at 7:30am and stared at my phone email. Around 8:50am, I started clicking refresh every five seconds. Z was with me and she waved her hand at me and said, "Pssssssssh! We already submitted, Mommy. It's okay. We gonna pass!!!!"
9:00. 9:01. 9:02. 9:03.
9:04. We got the email. We had been submitted!!!!! And THAT was when my heart had full peace. God was NOT going to let us down. This was what He wanted, and we just had to trust. I called Abe and said, "I PASSED!!!!" "We passed embassy?!?!?!" "No, I passed God's test! God wanted me to follow your leading and I did and I passed!!!! Oh, AND WE ARE SUBMITTED!!!!!"
Wednesday night, I got a message. From our contact who is looking into Micah's case. Now I have been calling/emailing/messaging literally daily since we left. We've heard no news.
This is what the message said: "The problem is with his region. He is un-adoptable (we knew that from two years ago when we couldn't get him out). Basically, the region won't release him. The only thing you can do is get his paperwork and an orphanage rep, go to his region, find the officials, and beg for his case."
Easier said than done. Getting his paperwork probably means searching through thousands of un-filed papers in an office. That's hours. Or days. AND, I can't read Amharic. Then I have to find transportation and an interpreter. And drive several hours out to a different region. Understand, in America, driving several hours is no big deal. Here, there is only one road (and a travel warning from the US Embassy) and it's a bumpy trip. I will have there kids in tow. THEN I need to find the officials. Get to them. And BEG. And a white (I'm caramel, actually), foreign, female. Sounds impossible. And scary.
So does everything that has happened to us since 2009, so what's new? ;)
P.S. Of course we are going to do it. And I'm considering a stakeout. Where I refuse to leave, if they don't let me have his adoption clearance.
And NOW I know why we have a week long trip.
God's the bomb.
When you are waiting for an embassy clearance email, you can hear from them anytime from about 1am-10am. Typically it comes at the end of the business day, about 9:30am.
Z and I were breathless on the couch at 7:30. 8:30. 9:30.
Two other families in our agency cleared.
9:50am. My heart was sinking. 10am. 10:10am.
Z started crying. I tried not to, but a rebel tear may have slipped out and escaped down my cheek. "Don't worry," I told her. "We are STILL flying. We are STILL going to go get your sister."
It was a sad day.
I woke up at 3am for work and there was an email from the embassy, sent at 1:06am. WE HAD PASSED!!!! I already had an answer copied in my phone so I clicked paste and sent it right back, requesting Monday, June 30th for embassy. At 4:30am on the dot, they emailed me. Our embassy appointment was for 9:00am on Monday.
We spent all day cleaning and packing. Oh, ANNNNDDDD Z's MP3 player arrived. And so did my Jamberry flag nails! ON FRIDAY!!! Last minute!!!!! I set up her music and did my nails. They look epic, by the way. :) We are going to be flying out of Addis on July 4th. #perfect
Oh wait, that's today! In fact, I have typed this whole post on a plane. It's 7:25pm your time. 2:25am in Addis. We have about four hours of flying left. This flight started at 11:15am.
Kids are doing GREAT (thank you for your prayers!!!!)!!! I have been giving Z Dramamine every six hours and she's been doing just fine. I also have a sea-band on her, and she's alternating between ginger gum and sugared ginger slices. And Pringles. Can't forget her Pringles.
Levi is watching movies and charming everyone with his smile. One attendant is trying to sign with him. She draws Amharic letters in the air and he guesses. It's great.
I'm am good. Feeling fine. This flight has been VERY smooth compared to last time. The flight to DC too. Very easy. Barely any turbulence. Z is very relieved. Me too. Funny side note; the minute we sat down on the ET plane, Levi asked, "Should I ask people for their barf bags for Z?" Bahahahahah! He is ON IT!
Okay, now I'm going to rest. And work on our homecoming blog post. And maybe eat Pringles with Z. (Yes, I'm allergic to them.)
OMG. Levi just asked me how long and I said, "4 hours." He said, "I'm so EXCITED!!!" and started doing a happy dance right in the middle of the plane. #adorethisboy #thatsgoingoninstagram #imadehimredoitandirecordedit