Friday, September 30, 2016

When Your Mountain Doesn't Move

August has come and gone. Our mountain did not move... and our miracle did not come. Not only did we not travel to get our daughter in August... we didn't even get our Article 16 approval from Thailand. Nothing good happened that month in our adoption. As far as we know... nothing happened at all.

After hearing God speak "August" to my heart for weeks and weeks, this lack of movement was truly devastating. You see... I didn't randomly pick August out of a desire to travel then. I had no reason to believe we'd get approval then either. But I heard God speak it so clearly to me... and then watched as He confirmed it with friends too. Some had dreams. Others had their own signs of confirmation. Rusty and I prayed, and praised, and worked to prepare in faith. We just knew August was our month.

I've never been so sure of a word from God before. I've never stepped out in faith so publicly before. It was incredibly vulnerable and scary... but I had so. much. peace. So I did it anyway.

And then nothing happened.

I can't begin to describe how it felt to see August come and go with no movement. It shook my faith to the core. I've asked a lot of hard questions the past few weeks. Questions like, "Did I hear God's voice? Can I even discern it anymore? After years of doing ministry... how could I miss this?! How could I get this wrong? And how do I move forward in my faith and my work if I can't discern God's voice anymore?"

"What if I can hear God's voice... and He did say August. Did He change His mind? If He changed His mind... then how do I trust Him anymore? What if He didn't change His mind... but He wasn't able to do this for us? Is He not omnipotent after all?"

"Our daughter is growing up without us. We've been fighting for her for almost 5 years. Why won't God move on our behalf? Why won't He intervene? We have hundreds of people praying for our adoption all over the world. Is God not listening? Doesn't He care? How does our situation not move Him to action? Do any of our prayers even matter?"

I feel weak confessing that these are my questions right now... but I have been honest with you all throughout this process, and I want to keep being honest and vulnerable. Things haven't been very pretty around here lately. Most days I waver between intense anger and deep sadness... all while searching desperately for meaning in this dark, difficult season.

I've listened to this song at least a dozen times since August. These words ring true to my heart...

I'm so confused
I know I heard you loud and clear
So I followed through...
But somehow I ended up here
I don't want to think
I may never understand
That my broken heart is a part of your plan
When I try to pray
All I've got is hurt and these four words...

... but I can't manage to sing the rest of the song. "Thy will be done" is a scary thing to pray when you aren't sure if God's will includes getting your daughter home. And "your plans are for me... goodness you have in store" are difficult words to sing when you're questioning the goodness of God.

The last 6 weeks have held some of the darkest days of my life. On top of the devastating realization that we wouldn't be traveling in August, we've dealt with additional delays, errors, and issues with our adoption. In the past month and a half - we've been told that we likely wouldn't have Kate home until the Spring of 2017 (which means we'd miss another Christmas and her 4th birthday). We were then told that we got a big approval from Thailand - so we got hopeful again... only to have hope dashed 12 days later when we were told that there was a mistake and the approval actually didn't happen. And then, that same week, we found out that we lost our home study agency here in Alabama, and we would have to start over with new paperwork, more fees, and a whole new agency to continue moving forward.

To say that we have been through the ringer would be an understatement. Our new agency told us that what we're enduring is considered a "traumatic adoption". They've been wonderful, and they're very compassionate... but they're concerned with how all we've endured will affect us once we're home with our daughter.

I'm concerned too. For a long time I felt that our struggle was strengthening us. I've tried so hard to press in to this process and to grow through the pain and waiting. I've searched for answers and meaning and lessons from God throughout the past 4 years and 6 months. But after fighting for our daughter for so long, I was finally pushed past my breaking point last month. My faith was crushed. God has seemed distant and silent. It has been hard to see any goodness or hope in our situation lately.

If I'm being honest, I have struggled to find any comfort or peace since August passed. Scripture seems hollow. My prayers seem so pointless. It feels like they're bouncing off the ceiling. Most of the songs that would usually touch my heart instead make me bitter and angry. This is the one song I've been able to listen to... and it's been playing on repeat all month. It doesn't give me any answers.... but it's nice to know that someone else who has "lived a life of faith" has struggled with this kind of darkness and doubt.

I'm confessing all of this here because I don't want to hide the hard parts of our journey. I don't have any answers about why we're enduring this... and there have been days lately that it's been hard not to walk away from our adoption.

But I keep reminding myself that my daughter is NOT the cause of my pain. It's true that we have faced so much injustice and brokenness in our process... but NONE of this is her fault. Our sweet little girl is an innocent victim in all of this too! And she deserves a family. She deserves to be fought for. (Every child does.) 

So we are continuing to fight... but we're also calling in reinforcements. I am wounded and weary from this long, hard-fought battle... and the war isn't over yet. So I started seeing a Christian counselor last week (after a friend forced me to make an appointment) - and it was one of the best things I could have possibly done. I wish so much that I'd done it sooner! My counselor was horrified to hear all we've endured, and she is helping me work through it all so that when Kate comes home, I'll be in a healthier place spiritually and emotionally to parent her.


If you're reading this, and you're going through a dark season yourself... then I hope this post helps you not feel so alone.... and I hope you'll consider finding a counselor you can talk to as well. I felt a lot of shame for "not being strong enough" and needing to go to counseling... but the truth is, we were never meant to shoulder all our burdens alone. When our bodies get overwhelmed with bacteria or viruses - we get help. We go to the doctor! So when our hearts, minds, and souls get overwhelmed with injustice and loss and grief - we shouldn't be expected not to seek help for that too! None of us are superhuman. If you feel like you can't do it alone - you're probably right! And there's no shame in that. It's okay to not be okay. It's okay to ask for help. Asking for help isn't giving up the fight - it's just calling in reinforcements! No one can fight alone on the front lines forever. 


  1. Erica, I've been reading your blog and following your struggles to bring your daughter home and it brought to mind a speaker that I have seen several times at women's conferences. I'm not sure if you've heard of her, but her name is Lisa Harper. She shared a similar struggle as a single mom trying to adopt a child from Haiti, I believe. She made several trips to the country assuming with each trip she made that she would be bringing her daughter home and with each trip she returned alone. You may want to look up book and read her story. It was very encouraging and inspirational. She now travels with several Christian women speakers and shares the story. Also I have a lead many connection groups that cover the mountain tops and valleys in life and how hurting and healing are all part of the specific journey that God leads us on. Currently I'm leading a group called "When God doesn't fix it" by Laura Story. One thing I have seen repeated time and time again, as that God never makes mistakes and what He leads you to He will lead you through. The strength you will derive from this journey will last for the rest of your lives. It is the strength that you will be able to share with your daughter and It will not only change your life but it will change your family in a way that will give you a greater purpose than you've ever imagined. In all those times when God easily answers our prayers that is when we draw Him close to us. In those times when it feels like he is not answering our prayers He is drawing us close to Him. As hard as it is to imagine this is the time of growth. I pray for God's answers to come and for Him to make away, a way that only he can provide. We love you guys and praying for you and Rusty and Kate.

  2. I know that so many hearts are reaching out to you and up for you... mine is only one of many. You are brave and beautiful to reveal this very intimate and painful experience, and your daughter is so very lucky to have you as a mother. When you do hold her in your arms, you will finally be at peace... and ready for the battles ahead.

  3. Erica, you and Rusty have earned our respect and admiration with the great faith and beliefs you stand on. You have been able to tell us how you are handling this "crisis of belief" you are walking through. When you and Rusty first began to answer God's call to this adoption process, I believe you both honest,obedient and wise. You built a support team to walk through it with you. I, for one, watched and prayed with you, always expecting God's quick movement to get Kate into your arms. As the set backs and errors came along, we prayed seriously for God's quick movement again. God's timing is not ours which you know and have stated often. Your confessions are so humbling, and your bravery to acknowledge this publicly is inspiring to me. How can we pray for you unless we know how you are processing these doubts and fears? I have experienced so many heartbreaks, disappointments, utter dismay through my daughter's divorce. I too wondered where in the world is God in this, and why did Helet this happen? Why, why not? But God (2 very profound words) knows our need before we ask, and knows our thoughts before we confess, and still loves us. Thy will be done is to me the most important words of a prayer, which means I have totally surrendered to His will, not my own. You are loved, sweet girl, and you are on the right path in seeking help, and to ask for prayer, which we lavish on you! Linda Russell