Over the last few days, we've started the slow and pain-staking task of cleaning up the rubble : we've talked to lawyers, we've organized a network of other affected families, we've started to interview potential new adoption agencies, we've started to crunch the numbers: how much would it cost us to start from scratch, how much do we have left, how much would we need to raise, etc.
In all of this, I've found very little comfort. My soul is crushed. My heart is sad and exhausted. There have been several moments this week when I just wanted to throw in the towel. When I wanted to ask God if he would release us from our calling to adopt an orphan. When I just wanted to walk away. Count our losses, focus on repaying the large adoption loan we still have (for money that is now lost), and then just move on with our lives. Enjoy our jobs, ministries and the beautiful children we have.
And yet I can't. Right now, I might feel like I have no fight left ... but in my heart I know that God didn't call us to do something like this and then say: "Oh well then. Never mind." That's not to say that we might not get to a point where we've seriously considered all the options and feel there truly is no way forward. It could happen. But we're not there (yet) ... and so I just have to keep holding on. Of course, there are also the occasional 3am moments of doubt: "Did I just make all this up? Where we never supposed to do this in the first place?" But my heart knows the answer.
Mostly, I just go through the motions, try and get through my days. I teach classes and attend meetings and run into people at church and preschool and the gym, and when they come up to tell me how sorry they are, I just smile and blink back the tears ... because what is there even to say.
Aside from the financial implications (which are just truly mind-boggling), the task of choosing another agency is beyond overwhelming and daunting. We were so thorough when we chose an agency in the first place. We talked to former adoptive families who had worked with them about their experience. I distinctly remember an hour long conversation with our then-case manager, putting him through the wringer, asking all the tough questions: Were you ever sued? Were any official complaints ever filed against you? That kind of thing. He handled it with the utmost integrity and honesty. We thought we had a winner. Worst yet, we truly felt a sense of connection with this agency that shared so many of our beliefs. And even though I still believe they were basically good people who just let a business run into the ground, our trust was broken. And no matter what questions I ask and what answers I get and what testimonies other families might share, how will I ever have that sense of security and trust again?
As a matter of fact, when we spoke to the Executive Director of the new agency (the one our case was transferred to but with whom we haven't contracted) on the phone over the weekend, Bjorn asked that very question: "How do we know this isn't going to happen again with you?!"
Her answer: "Well, you don't."
On top of that, there are such vast differences from agencies to agencies that it's hard to figure out what's up. Some don't refer ANY children younger than age 3. Other quote wait times of 2-3 years. And then we hear of the occassional one with wait times around a year (one even less) ... and of course, you get suspicious. But our former agency had wait times significantly shorter than other agencies out there, and we know for a fact that there was nothing unethical going on. Of course, they probably took on too many families allowing them to work with multiple orphanages at the same time ... and in the end, it ran them into the ground. But my point is: We've heard agencies say: We're a large agency, so we can refer children quicker and we've heard small agencies say: We're a small agency, so we work with less families and can refer children quicker.
On top of all this, we're realizing that there seems to be some urgency to picking a new agency (assuming we proceed) as our former agency is working with a court-appointed trustee to dissolve the business ... and we only have a couple of weeks until its Ethiopia offices will have to hand over our dossier to whatever agency we choose. This transaction will also need to be approved by the Ehtiopian government ... which makes it all the more complicated. Returning our dossier to the United States and back into our possession doesn't seem to be an option. And because all this isn't complicated enough, the Ethiopian government has been in the process of renewing adoption agency licenses (we knew about this) - and only 20 out of 70-some agencies currently have a valid license. Even though most of the other ones will *probably* be renewed ... "probably" isn't going to cut it for us at this point, further narrowing down our choices.
I've been holding on to some words out of Psalm 3 where it talks about God defending us against our enemies ... God lifting our head high... God sustaining us. I might not feel terribly "sustained" right now ... but I am.
We're moving on, we're coming to terms, we're making plans. I'm not used to being so confused, to not knowing at all what to do next. I'm a planner and a fixer and I get things done. But right now, we're having to pray and wait ... for doors to open and wounds to heal.