(aren't those two words powerful?)
But God wouldn't let us stay in the dark for too long before the light broke through. It turns out, He hadn't completely abandoned us after all. (Big surprise.... right? ;)
Last Wednesday I spent the morning in my counselor's office... crying until I couldn't see and baring my soul to a kind, compassionate stranger who worked to comfort me in the midst of a seemingly hopeless situation. The last we heard from our adoption agency, our Article 16 had "apparently not been issued", although they'd told us earlier in the month that it had. We knew that most families wait 7-10 months for this approval, and we were once again facing that timeline (which would mean we would miss another Christmas with our daughter and her 4th birthday). But God...
I left our counselor's office and noticed a text from Rusty to call him as soon as I got out. My heart sank. When I heard the stress in his voice, it sank even lower. "Are you coming home?" he asked. "No, I was going to run some errands," I responded. "You need to come home," he urged. After the handful of "bad news" phone calls we've had in the past few weeks, I just knew something else had gone wrong. "What's happened now?" I sighed - exhausted by the possibilities. And then he said some of the most beautiful words I've ever heard...
"We got our Article 16 from Thailand!
I'm holding it in my hands right now!"
I cannot even begin to describe the flood of emotions I felt in that moment. After crying all my sad tears in the counselor's office just moments earlier, I burst into fresh tears of joy right there in the parking lot. Once I composed myself, I rushed home to complete our next round of paperwork so our agency could Fed-Ex it to US Immigration that afternoon.
For those of you asking, "What is an Article 16? What on earth does this mean?" - allow me to explain. Our Article 16 is a HUGE approval from the Thai government. It is the paperwork that allows us to take custody of our daughter, and bring her home to the US. It's the next step that we've been waiting on before we could move forward in our process. And it usually takes 7-10 months (or longer) to receive.
But somehow - by the grace of God - ours was approved in 4 months and 2 weeks. (It turns out it was actually approved September 7th! Our agency was mistaken when they told us it hadn't been!) This is an incredible miracle!!!
So - what's next? We have already taken the next step to apply for our I800 (US Immigration Approval). This usually takes 2-3 weeks or longer. Then we have to submit our DS260 (to request that Kate's visa is printed while we're in Thailand). If everything goes according to schedule - we should be traveling to get our daughter sometime in the next 4 - 8 weeks!!!!
I still can't wrap my mind around that possibility. My heart and head are completely overwhelmed! We have gone from utter devastation to exhilarating joy in a matter of days. It's still hard for me to believe it's true.
And while I am SO joyful and grateful and excited... I'd be lying if I said that everything is okay now. I still don't know what that "August" word from God meant. I still have a lot of questions for God about our adoption, and what we've endured. Both Rusty and I still have a lot to work through from the past 6 weeks (and past 4 years and 7 months) of this difficult process. So I will continue to see my counselor, and we will continue to press in to get as healthy as possible before we travel (and after we're home). But friends - it feels so good to have HOPE again.
God has been revealing some things to me about His faithfulness (despite our recent circumstances) that I'll try to share here soon... but for now, will you please pray with us for the rest of our process? It would be a dream come true if we could manage to make it to the November 2nd Adoption Board Meeting (but that would mean we would have to fly to Thailand the last week of October - and it would mean our next 2 approvals would have to happen really quickly!) Please pray with us for these approvals to happen AS SOON AS POSSIBLE! Pray for no more delays or errors or issues. Pray for us to be able to book travel quickly (and for our flights not to be too terribly expensive, since they will likely be booked close to our travel time). Pray for our hearts and minds as we do all the final preparation to bring Kate home. And please pray for our sweet baby girl. The day we meet her will be one of the happiest days of our lives.... but one of the hardest for her. Please pray for God to prepare her heart to join our family.