I realized this weekend when talking to some people that we really haven't shared how our adoption of Alina happened. Most everyone knew we had just been through a failed adoption in the fall, but very few people knew about Alina until we brought her home. We did that on purpose, but the downside is that many people don't know about the amazing journey God took us on. So I wanted to share a little bit of how it happened.
To recap, we returned home from Latvia in November after a failed adoption. It was a complicated, emotionally devastating mess, and it took us awhile to time begin to sort through our emotions to realize that we still felt God was calling us to adopt. It made no sense to us at the time as Mark and I shared that similar realization with each other, but we sent a message to some adoption folks that someday we thought we might consider trying another adoption. A few casual situations were tossed about, but nothing that made Mark and I feel in unison and at peace. I have been known to substitute my own judgment for God's in the past, but Mark and I both knew very clearly that we were not in a place to go. Finally, we sat down and poured our hearts out to each other and both came to a decision of peace. We decided to update our home study in the summer and maybe early next year start thinking about beginning the journey again. While sometimes Mark and I arrive at the same point via different routes and timing, we both solidly agreed immediately with this plan. I finally began to stop the wondering "why" or the "what's next" and was able to start healing.
In mid February my Grandma Ruth got sick. She was 95 and always seemed to struggle with some illness that gave us all a scare each winter, but something concerned me this time around, and when my mom also expressed concern about her recovery I jumped in the car and drove 12 hours to be with her and my family at the hospital when she passed away. Honestly, I couldn't believe God would break my heart again so soon after our failed adoption of I. but I am learning that God's timing really is perfect. It is not easy, it is not convenient, but it is solidly rooted in His infinite wisdom. That evening as I returned to my parent's house with my mom and dad, I checked my email and there was a message from an adoption contact, "I have a girl for you". She gave us a name and a few basic details, and I immediately knew which girl she was talking about. This girl had been hosting through NHFC, and I could see some of her pictures in my mind. Shortly after that I was talking with Mark on the phone and I said, "I got an interesting email, I'll forward it to you, and call me when you are done reading it." I didn't hear anything from him for awhile, but when he called back he told me he thought this was something we should talk about when I got home. I was shocked at his response, but as I look back now it is almost like God put the "yes" in our hearts from the first moment we heard about Alina, and we spent the rest of the time waiting to hear a "no" that wasn't coming. I told my mom and dad about the email and also a cousin, emailed back a few basic questions Mark and I had, but didn't give it too much more thought as we dealt with the terrible loss of my Gram.
When I returned home almost a week later, Mark and I realized we were both somehow seriously considering this. Believe me when I say, for Mark and to be on the same page at the same time like we were is nothing short of a miraculous work of God! We got serious about learning what we could, and when an official referral showed up in my inbox, we prayed...waited...prayed...talked...prayed...waited... and waited some more. But however long we talked or prayed, we finally realized it was going to be a "yes", no matter how long we waited for a "no".
We intentionally chose not to tell many people about our decision to pursue another adoption, and some of the people we shared with were not terribly supportive. In hindsight, I am almost glad because it challenged me to remain committed to what I knew and not believe what I was told. People expressed several concerns - they didn't want to see us get hurt again, it was too soon for me to have dealt with the loss of my Gram, it wasn't fair to the boys to put them through the possibility of another failed adoption, etc. etc. All were valid concerns, but even as we took time privately to think about these concerns, there was just never a moment of "uh oh". Somehow we had peace. (And that had to be a God thing if you read back through my blog!) The boys were not even remotely hesitant even though they were so hurt when everything fell apart the first time around. God has given our boys really special hearts, and I am continually challenged and amazed at how easily and fully they commit to loving others.
So many things about our adoption of Alina were healing and miraculous for me. God healed things in my heart that I didn't even realize at the time were broken. The minute we landed in Riga, I was overwhelmed with such a love for that country. I love Latvia. Our experience with Alina's foster family was a blessing I could never have even thought to hope for. They are like family to us, and I can say that we love them dearly and deeply. And Alina... Have I mentioned recently she is such a joy?!?! I honestly thought I was going to throw up while we waited in the hotel lobby to meet her before court, but that nervousness and nausea pales in comparison to the love and joy I feel for her now.
One of the things Mark and I did struggle with was thinking of an "American" name for Alina. Any time we tried to think of something we liked, we kept saying to each other that we liked the name Alina better. We went with no idea what we would suggest if she wanted to change her name, and we expressed this to our wonderful lawyer on the drive to Alina's city. I shared that we had heard about Alina on the day my Grandma Ruth died, but I also knew that they don't use the "th" sound in Latvian and I didn't want Alina to struggle to pronounce her own name. Daina pointed out that they have a Latvian version of the name Ruth - Ruta. I loved it immediately. As we sat and talked with Alina and her foster family before court the first day, her foster mom shared that Alina didn't really want to have to change her name. We were SO happy and Daina laughed and explained that we didn't like any other names as much as Alina anyway! She then went on to explain about my Grandma Ruth and how we liked "Ruta" for a middle name, and Alina loved it. Alina Ruta Kimmel. Beautiful.
There were a million little moments when I knew that God was lavishing me with His endless love, healing, and blessing through our journey to our daughter, and it is my deepest prayer that He will do the same for Alina now. I always think of the verse in the Bible where it says God can do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine, and I think He was out to show me that truth over and over again until every part of my heart was simply forced to proclaim it. Our journey to Alina has not only changed our family, but it has changed my relationship with the Lord in ways that are equally life changing. I know that we will have ups and downs as we continue together, but the way that this journey unfolded has given me a deeper strength and commitment to celebrate the ups and face the downs in faith.