I’ve been surprised and blessed by the response we’ve gotten when we are out in public with Henry.  I wasn’t expecting so much encouragement from total strangers!  So many people stop us and ask questions and want to hear the story.  We’ve met several wonderful families who have adopted internationally — they’ve just come up and introduced themselves!

Last week while Henry and I were waiting in line at Walmart, an older couple came up behind us and started smiling and talking to Henry.  They were interested in hearing our story (it was a long line and we had time.)  They were fascinated and asked me all kinds of questions about him and about our adoption — and then toward the end of our conversation she unexpectedly asked, “Was it hard?”

It totally caught me off guard and I stopped and kind of stared at her blankly. 

“Was it hard?”

How do you even answer that question?

How can you possibly communicate the intensity of it?  This journey to adopt our son has been so deeply and profoundly life-changing on a myriad of levels — I can’t even begin to put words to it.  The spectrum of emotions along the way was overwhelming… Hope.  Fear.  Excitement.  Apprehension.  Frustration.  Elation  —  Relief.    It wasn’t “just” an adoption process… it was a season of learning to trust and rely on God in a deeper way than we have before — learning to tune our ears to His voice and rest in the peace that directed our steps. We also did a lot of soul-searching and evaluating our responses and motives as things came up…  There was also the aspect of becoming more and more aware of the needs of orphans all over the world as we began doing more research — our hearts were continually being tenderized.  A specific love for Liberia was sparked in our hearts during this time… and we ended up opening our home for Ahmad to live with us — which would have never happened if we hadn’t been in the adoption process.

Then there was all the practical stuff — which was probably harder for us than it usually is for most.  We had to finish remodeling the house before we could even begin our homestudy (which was a major project since we did the work ourselves)… and then we had to figure out the whole tax thing because of owning our own business.  Then we had to switch agencies three times and countries twice because we are too young and haven’t been married long enough, etc, etc.  Then, we spent about six weeks agonizing over the decision to possibly adopt a child with significant special needs and there was a lot of processing that the Lord did in us during that time. Then after we had accepted Henry’s referral, there was all the stuff that came up with adoptions slowing down in Liberia — Whew!  Hard???… Yes!  Worth it?… Absolutely!  

So after a long pause while all this was going through my mind, I finally said to her, “Hard? Yes, it was harder than I was expecting” and I let it be at that. 

There just isn’t an easy way to communicate the depths of it — and yet part of me wants to try.  I want people to know.  I want them to understand what has happened in my heart.  It makes me eternally grateful that there are others that have been on this journey as well.  Because even though your journey wasn’t exactly the same as ours, still, you know.  You know what the terrain is like and you know the incredible reward at the end.  It’s one thing to look at the map — it’s a totally different thing to actually walk the territory!  There’s dirt and mud and unexpected twists and turns along the way…  You can see the mountains and the valleys on the map — but you can’t see the view until you are actually standing on the mountain… and the view is breathtaking!  It far surpasses expectation.  We may have had different reasons why we began and we certainly have had different experiences along the way — but in the end, we all realize the same miracle — the miracle that a child not born of our body can become an irrevocable part of us — as if formed in our womb.  It cannot be explained.  It is one of the strongest confirmations of an all-loving, all-knowing Heavenly Father that I have witnessed in my life.   It is an absolute miracle.