Friday, March 2, 2012

Semi-Open, Part Three.

Before I finish this section of the story (really, this story is ongoing, so it is simply at the end of one chapter), I think I oughtta give you some context.  When I wrote Wednesday’s piece, I edited out the section that reminded you of what I said in part one:  we typically send out birthmother updates around Gracie’s birthday.  Maybe I’m just assuming y’all all remember her birthday is October 22nd?  

Anywhoozie, to put this on a timeline, we sent the 2 year update to GBM at the end of October and received our first letter from GBM on November 11th.  Which, ya know, was about 5 days after we realized we were going to adopt again.  


Yeah.  That is why we were really confused.  Perhaps we thought we were supposed to adopt from China, but maybe God was just opening up our hearts to be ready for something else, something a little closer to home?  You may remember some cryptic posts from that era, like this one or this one.    

We heard nothing back from GBM.  We set up a special email account for her so that she could communicate with us without going through Bethany if she felt like it.  We tried the numbers she gave us but were never able to connect.   

So we waited.   

While we waited, we began our paperwork for the Chinese adoption.  We mentally gave GBM the deadline of Christmas to make a move.  Because we couldn’t just hover in limbo when we weren’t even certain if any of the information in her letter could be trusted.  We did, however, learn that GTHS was in the custody of the grandmother and not GBM, like she had stated in the letter.  With that knowledge, I was able to breathe in and out again, knowing that GTHS did have an advocate and someone to love her.  I could take down my “Tween Room in the Attic” board on Pinterest.

Christmas came and went.  We continued to pray for the twins.  That they had been placed in a loving family.  That they knew we existed.  That the twins were out of the hospital and healthy.  That if they had no one to advocate for them some case workers would try their hardest to find us and that the Bethany case workers would give them our information.  We learned that at some point in the summer a cryptic phone call had been received that could have possibly been about the twins, but no follow up phone information was left and the case worker at Bethany, wanting to protect our privacy, did not volunteer our information.  Therefore, we told all the case workers at Bethany that they could give out our information to anyone working for the Department of Social Services.  

And then we sort of went about life.  We’ve been fundraising and stressing about finances and getting the boys’ room ready and longing for Charlie.  

Then, about two weeks ago, my orphan care group at church hosted the head of Henrico County’s social services to talk about foster and respite care in the Richmond area.  After his talk, I spoke with him briefly about our situation.  I asked him if we had any rights and if the case workers would be bothered if we called.  He laughed.  He said that while we didn’t have the same rights as a biological family member would, social services ALWAYS wants to keep biological siblings together.  He also told us that twins, much less twins born premature, and even greater still twins born premature born addicted to drugs that were ethnic minorites would be VERY hard to place.   And then he said, “Trust me.  We long for people to call us and say they want to advocate for these kids.  It rarely happens. Of all the stuff we see, being called by someone wanting to love a kid is NOT a bother.”


But where to even begin?  The town where GBM lives is a suburb of a larger city that is comprised of 5 counties.  And each county has its own DSS.  So I just started googling.  I randomly picked a county and called the first number that mentioned foster care I could find.  

A woman answered and I said, “Hi!  My name is Elizabeth Phillips and I live in Richmond.  So this is strange.  My adoptive daughter was born in Charlottesville and her birthmom lives in your area.  We have reason to believe that last Spring she gave birth to twins prematurely and that they were taken into foster care.  Do these kids have someone to love them?  Are they still alive?  Have they been shuffled back and forth between GBM and some foster family?  I mean, we are right now pursuing a special needs adoption from China, but those kids are our daughter’s half-siblings and if they don’t already have a family, we want them.”

I said all of that before I took a breath.  Or let the other person talk.  

Well, wouldn’t you know that the woman listening to me ramble on was the case worker of the twins.  Her first words to me were, “Are you serious?!  I am so glad you called!  We’ve been wondering about your little girl and where she was.  I am the twins’ case worker and I can tell you all about them.  They’ve been with an amazing foster family since they left the hospital and that family will begin the finalization of their adoption this Spring.  I know they won’t mind me telling you all this because they are so amazing.”

And y’all, the case worker undersold the twins’ family.  They. Are. Rockstars.  The twins will be the youngest kiddos in a large family comprised of biological kids, as well as kids adopted both internationally and domestically.  The case worker told me what the family had named the twins and I thought to myself “OK, these peeps are believers.  You don’t name your kid that if you aren’t a Christian.”

I gave the case worker all of my information to give to their family.  The twins’ family has ZERO background information on GBM or photos so I have begun to compile a little file for them. The adoptive mom of the twins and I have been able to connect via Facebook.  I was right, she loves Jesus and adoption and laughing and, according to the info section on her blog, she also has a penchant for putting her foot in her mouth.  Oh, and did I fail to mention that she and her husband know the pastor of my church because…..wait for it…He was their youth pastor?!?

I cannot tell you how ecstatic I am to know that we now have a safe connection to folks who share Gracie's DNA.  There was a tiny part of me that was miffed that we weren’t able to be found to parent those twins.  I was frustrated with the case worker that didn’t bend the rules to give out my info.  But what is true is that God is sovereign and I am not the right mommy for the twins.  So I need to repent of any bitterness that I may feel about that.  If God had meant for us to parent them, we would’ve.  He intends for us to be family to them, just not immediate family.  I may or may not have already picked out what I will be sending them for their first birthday.  Auntie EJ has a great ring to it.

This whole process has also convicted me of believing that it was all up to me, that if I did nothing, no one would.  I guess I thought that Sloan and I were the only ones out there loving orphans.  That we were the only folks willing to accept hard placements.  That God was putting all of his “Love the Orphans” eggs in my basket.  

Ahem.  (Also, have you met me?  No one at any time for any reason should give me a basket of eggs of any kind.  I can only keep up with my children because they make noise.)

Folks, God doesn’t need me.  It is his love for me that draws me into His heart and mission.  And he’s not about to let my sin or bureaucracy or a dingy orphanage get in the way of Him being close to the broken hearted, of being a Father to the fatherless.  

Just as He fought for Henry when we almost died in the hospital, just as He fought for Gracie as she struggled to come off the drugs, just as He fought for the twins to have a loving family where they would be treasured, He fights for Charlie.  Charlie is not alone in that Chinese orphanage.  He has Jesus beside him.  To whisper to him that he will not leave him as an orphan.

Sweet, and tender Jesus, hold our Charlie tight.  Tell him we are coming.  Place us in his dreams so that we are not strangers.  His bed is ready.  And so are we.

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