One night a few weeks ago, as Andy said grace and I opened my mouth to add the familiar, “and God bless Ava and those who care for her,” the words just wouldn’t come. “I can’t,” my voice cracked, and Andy finished the rest. The reality of the timeline we’re facing had reached out and slapped me across the face. “I can’t say this forever. I don’t know how to do this.”
How can a world exist where two people completely capable of providing a family and future for a child with no hope of ever having either not be allowed to do so?
Those familiar words at grace started as a way of including Ava in a routine we knew she would be a part of one day. Now they are a daily reminder that she’s still not home.
We’re approaching the one year mark from the day we committed to adopting a little girl with big eyes and an extra chromosome. Looking back at the early months of the process, it’s very easy to get caught up in the “what-ifs.” Back when we were deciding on a home study agency, completing preliminary paperwork, sharing our happy news with everyone we knew…what if we had just decided a week earlier?
What if, instead of our home study draft sitting on someone’s desk for more than a week, I had called and been a stronger advocate for it being finalized? Then our dossier would have been in Ava’s country just in time to be grandfathered in to the old requirements, instead of putting everything on hold for nearly a month while we completed the new ones.
What if after our first trip, the social worker in charge of Ava’s file had not insisted her biological family appear in person to sign paperwork and instead mailed it or taken it to their home, as frequently occurs? It would have been completed in a matter of days, not weeks. Ironically, Ava’s family had just finished signing the required paperwork just before the ban was signed into law, two months after our first visit.
Had either of those scenarios been adjusted by just a few days, we would have been to court in December and been allowed to bring her home by order of her country’s Supreme Court.
We should have had the chance to share with a judge the opportunities that exist in our country for children with special needs and how excited we were to share our life with Ava.
We should have nervously waited for the judge’s decision, then collapsed into a puddle of happy tears when we heard our request had been granted.
We should have over-packed on our Gotcha Trip, leaving no less than three outfit choices per day for our little girl who had never owned clothing of her own.
We should have been able to take those iconic pictures…leaving the orphanage, first bath, first bedtime story, walking off the plane with the newest US citizen.
Ava should have seen several specialists by now and be in weekly therapy. Her almost 2-year-old little body should be quickly outgrowing those 9-12 month outfits.
There should be a car seat in the back of the car and little pants and tops added to our laundry.
I should be on maternity leave, struggling to leave the house with matching clothing, let alone make-up on my face.
Our dogs should have learned that the best place to find good eats is right under her high chair.
Ava should have learned by now that being rocked to sleep is awesome and that Momma and Daddy will always pick her up when she cries.
She should be home.
Instead, the waiting, the grief, the hope, the ache continue.
Thank you so much to all who continue to keep us in your prayers.