Halfway to Africa


In THREE days we leave for a place we did not plan on visiting, a non-descript European country that we’ve passed over on the map a million times while tracing the trip we would one day take to Ethiopia. I would repeat the name and think “hmmm… that appears to be about the half way mark.” Half of the way around the world to where I just knew our children waited.

While there, we will be meeting a baby girl we did not plan on adopting, a precious daughter so tiny she does not yet sit up on her own, which was a need we didn’t think existed for families like ours so we passed over dreaming the dream of her for older kids from other places, places affected by war and famine and other nation’s pillaging, not a vacation destination for skiing.

As the saying goes, we make plans and God laughs.

The need of baby girl in Europe for a family is no different than the needs of older kids from other places. I just was so locked in what I thought was “the plan” that I likely missed all of God’s whispers as I yelled my plans to the world.  Friends would show me darling ones in orphanages and I would say “awww… they are beautiful. If only we weren’t going to Ethiopia….”

I was firm in my understanding that God’s plan for our family was to adopt from Ethiopia. Until Ethiopia closed to international adoption.

I began to look for meaning in the journey, and believed (and still do) that God’s message to me was not a directive, but perhaps a nudge to show what we so often forget: Borders are not of Him. He didn’t create Ethiopia or Eastern Europe or Virginia, USA. He never meant for me to have so much and another mommy to not have enough. He never chose adoption as a plan A and parenting as the last option. I truly, with every fiber of my being, believed He wanted me to understand that there is no such thing as other people’s children

I can still love Maggie so much it aches in my heart, and I do. I can love every child who passes through our home through foster care with the momma ferocity that they deserve and not hold back in fear of giving them back, and I do. I can love Lucas and feel sadness that we will miss out on parenting him. I can do all of this, and I can still praise His plans that kept babies with their mommies. I can still love them as a momma, just like so many women in my mom-gang love mine as their own. Because there is no such thing as other people’s children. 

Several weeks ago my dear friend asked me if I could keep her precious girls a few days this week as she readied her classroom for back to school. I adore her and adore her girls, and bonus points that her girls were born in Ethiopia, so I said absolutely. We did not have travel dates or even a guess when we talked this out lake side as our beautiful kids who came to us in a myriad ways swam, me checking hers, her checking mine, us both scanning the horizon to make sure all babies were accounted for.

This week is a flurry of insanity, and the days are counting down so quickly to take off, but it was not lost on me for even a moment that God did the thing that I asked of him, days before His plan for us comes to fruition: He filled my couch with Ethiopian daughters. True, they are not my Ethiopian daughters but in the sadness and tears and grief I felt when that door closed for me, I never imagined that with it He would send an extra momma for my girl in a way that she needed and a friend for me that can finish my thoughts even when I cannot because she is such a kindred spirit, one of the first people I poured my heart out to when our adoption plans fell apart. I was so focused on the “plan” that I missed the possibility that it was not His plan, and with that I missed the possibility that His plan could be so perfect. God’s timing and delivery was just in time. There is no such thing as other people’s children, and the opportunity abounds to form family where no relation exists. Every child is a gift, whatever your role in their lives.

In three days I will land in that nation I never knew I wanted to visit. I will scoop up the daughter that is my child. I will thank God for being steadfast in His plans, even when He had to drag me. This place I never knew I would go is right where we belong.

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