I got up about 8:00 and started making the strawberry bread. I put it in the oven and sat down to read my Bible, pray and journal. This is what I wrote yesterday:
Then the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. Will not God grant justice to His elect who cry out to Him day and night? Will He delay to help them? I tell you that He will swiftly grant them justice. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find that faith on earth?" (Luke 18:6-8. From the Parable of the Persistent Widow found in Luke 18:1-8. This was in my daily reading yesterday, but has been a constant source of encouragement to me this year.)
Lord, I ask for justice. I'm so thankful that You've moved in the Ethiopia adoption program to protect children from child trafficking. But for those who are truly orphans, waiting months and months for someone to approve the adoption doesn't seem just. Lord, may the details of the P Family, S Family and M Family's cases be wrapped up quickly so that their children can come home. I know the Gladney homes take good care of babies, but it's just not the same as being in a family. I look at Elsie and Flynn and see how they're thriving, and I long to see Baby S, Baby I, Baby H, Baby A and Lottie/Levi (our boy name) doing the same.
Lord, I'm so thankful that You have given me more of Yourself while we've waited, and I know You will continue to be faithful to give us more of You. And You are enough. Lord, even if You took everything from me that I hold dear, You would still be enough. But I know these desires You've given me - for children to be home in their forever families - are desires You WANT me to pray for - You WANT me to ask You for these things - You WANT me to run to You - because You WILL answer. Lord, I know You will. You've given me the faith to keep on asking because You WILL respond. You WILL bring Baby S, Baby I, Baby H, Baby A and Lottie/Levi home soon. And until they are home, Lord, I won't stop asking. I will be persistent, just as You have commanded. And so, even in the midst of this crazy day of preparing for Rob's parents to arrive, I ask that You would send our referral call today.
About the time I finished up my time of prayer and journaling, the strawberry bread was done and it was time to start working on the cheesecake. I got the crust made and into the oven to bake for 5 minutes and was about to start working on the filling when my phone rang. An unidentified Fort Worth number, but since we live in Fort Worth, this happens all the time. I very calmly answered the phone.
Sara: This is Sara from Gladney.
Me: Thinking - Is this really it? Don't get too excited. Hi Sara, how are you? Be cool. Act normal. This probably isn't The Call.
Sara: I'm good. I have your referral ready for you.
Me: Not really sure what I said. I'm pretty sure I'd been holding my breath the entire time because I let out a huge breath and said, Really? OK, um... Rob's out running errands so I need to call him. We can call you back in about 30 minutes.
She asked if I had her number, I was so frazzled I couldn't remember, so she gave it to me. My hands were shaking so badly, this is what it looked like:
Good thing I did actually have her number in my phone because I'm not sure I would have been able to read that!
I called Rob, but he didn't answer, so I opened up the BEST APP EVER: "Find Friends" for iPhone. I pulled up his location and saw that he was at Wal-Mart, so I knew he was close to home. I called back and fortunately he answered. I told him he needed to come home, but as he tells it, he knew it wasn't a crisis because I sounded happy. So he headed home.
At this point in the day I still had on my pj's and hadn't even brushed my teeth. All I kept thinking was that I had imagined being dressed and cleaned up for the call, but that wasn't going to happen, so I should at least brush my teeth (oh the things that are "important"!). While I was brushing my teeth, the timer went off for the oven, letting me know that the cheesecake crust was done ("Oh yeah! I'm in the middle of baking!" I thought). So, I ran and took the crust out of the oven.
Then I remembered the strawberry bread. They were still in the pans and needed to come out. So I flipped them over and they didn't come out. USUALLY, I would put them back in a warm oven to un-stick them, but not this day! Nope, I just shook them until they came out of the pans!
"Oh well, who cares?" I thought. "We're getting our referral today!!!"
So I set up the laptop and waited a few more minutes for Rob to get home.
He got home and admitted he'd already cried a bit in the car. I was still shaking. So, we sat down and called Sara back.
She said she was sending 3 emails and asked if there was anything we wanted to know while we waited for the emails to come. Rob asked a general question about the referral write-up and while she was answering it, the emails arrived. I saw the baby's name and thought it was a boy name. All the time Sara was talking, I was processing that we would have a son. Then, as she's talking she says something about "her story" and then something about "her paperwork." I put my hand on Rob's leg and mouthed "HER!" Then I said to Sara, "I'm sorry, I didn't hear a word you said after "her"! That's when she told us it was a girl (and I think that she was 7 months old). A lot of the details after that are pretty fuzzy. We looked at her pictures and... oh my goodness. She is GORGEOUS! She has the most beautiful eyes and smile and hair and skin. I could go on and on. One of the things that kept popping up throughout the paperwork is that she smiles a LOT, is very friendly and laughs loudly when you tickle her. I can't even tell you how much Rob and I love that.
Once we hung up with Sara, we talked through a few of the details and then got started calling our families. Because Rob's parents were on the road, we wanted to wait until they got to our house to tell them, so we had to swear everyone to secrecy and NOT post anything on Facebook until they saw that we had posted something.
When Rob's parents got to our house, we told them, celebrated with them a bit, and then told the rest of the world. We are so blessed with SUCH a supportive community of friends and family. Thank you for loving us and being as excited as we are!
We will be keeping our daughter's Ethiopian name as her middle name, and her first name will be Charlotte, or Lottie for short. Charlotte was my Nana's name and lots of people called her Lottie. We've loved that name for so long and my Nana held such a special place in my heart, that I couldn't think of anything better to name our daughter.
So.... What's next? We wait for a court date. It will probably be 2-3 months before we can travel to Ethiopia, meet Lottie and go to court. Then we will come home and wait for an Embassy appointment for a couple of more months. Lottie's first birthday is April 6 and I am optimistically hoping she will be home for her birthday.
Four years ago, the week of Thanksgiving, we made the decision to adopt. We told our families on Thanksgiving Day. It has been a long journey since we first decided to adopt, but the Lord, in His sovereignty, saw fit to bless us with a referral the day before Thanksgiving. And I can't think of anything in this world to be more thankful for. We have seen our daughter's face. And it is a beautiful little face.