We are so excited and happy to welcome her into our lives, but we are still waiting on one more family member. We are still prayerfully awaiting the arrival of our son. However, adoption is different. There are no real signs of growth or development that I can actually watch. There are no photos yet or due dates to estimate arrival. There is just a stack of paperwork in Ethiopia and a timer, counting up the number of days we have been waiting. (Our paperwork has been in Ethiopia for 279 days now!) After my 37th week of pregnancy, I felt like our baby girl would NEVER arrive! I joked that she would most likely graduate high school within my womb, but deep down I knew that we had, at most, 4 more weeks until we met her. Oh how I'd love to know how many weeks or months or years it will be until we meet our son.
How I long to hold him like I hold her. I long to tuck him in at night. I want so badly to make sure he's taken care of, and I desperately want him to know that he is loved. That he has been loved and wanted for 17 months now, which may even be longer than he's been on this earth.
Unfortunately, expected wait times for referrals (when we are matched with a child) keep increasing. When we started this process, estimated wait times for a healthy infant or toddler was at 24 months (once paperwork arrived in Ethiopia). We have seen that wait time steadily increase over the last year and a half. Current estimated wait times are now at 36-42 months. Part of the increase in wait time is due to a relatively new adoption policy called the PAIR (Pre-Adoption Immigration Review) process, which went into effect about a year ago.
The PAIR process is good in that it protects adoptive parents and children. This process determines eligibility for adoption (declares orphan status of a child after a full investigation) and ensures approval for immigration before an adoption is finalized. What it really means is that a child you have adopted: 1. actually needs a family, and 2. he or she will not be stuck in their country due to an inability to immigrate into the United States. There are heartbreaking stories of children who have been legally adopted, but who are unable to live with their new families due to issues surrounding these things. While I wholeheartedly agree with these precautions, the PAIR process is somewhat difficult for me in that it adds extra paperwork and extra time to an already lengthy adoption process. We have heard that there are only 4 ladies in the country of Ethiopia who process these forms for the PAIR process. As you can imagine, paperwork is backing up, causing increased adoption timeframes. I know, I know: patience. This process is a step in the right direction to help ensure more ethical adoptions in Ethiopia.
Marcus and I find hope in knowing that we are not really waiting for an estimated wait time to pass or a person to process paperwork. Ultimately, we are waiting on The Lord and on His perfect timing. He already knows when things will be set into place, as it has already been prepared beforehand. He even knows the number of hairs on our son's head. (Luke 12:7). Thankfully, our son's days, like our days, were formed before he was even born:
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:13-16)
We continue to trust in Him to continue to bring our family together.