Saturday, June 20, 2015

the 11th hour

Lately, I've been awake at 2 am more than I care to admit.

Could be because I have this bowling ball inside my belly, which makes sleep a bit uncomfortable.

Could also be because my husband was across the world meeting our daughter for the first time.

And early Wednesday morning, I could have been awake at 2 am because my husband had a very important appointment scheduled at the Embassy in Kinshasa, DRC, at 8 am (2 am our time).

Ok, let's be honest. I was actually awake at 1:17 am, which I knew to be 7:17 am in Kinshasa. I was hoping and praying Brad was awake, too, and that he was headed over to the Embassy, which was across the street from his hotel.

And it's a good thing I was still awake at 2:08 am when my phone rang. "Bradlee," as he's labeled on my phone, was calling.

I knew it wasn't a good sign.

Me (heart racing, possibly panting with anxious anticipation about what he was going to say): "Hello?"

Brad: "Hey, we needed to have original documents for this appointment. I have two hours to get them here to the Embassy or I'll have to stay until at least Monday for a new appointment. What should I do?"

Me (with one million thoughts running through my head): "WHAT?! They said we didn't need them! Have you called [in-country contact]? Call him and tell him you need those documents ASAP. Why do you have only two hours?"

Brad: "The whole staff here is leaving for a meeting at 10 am." (And in my head I hoped the meeting was THE meeting, the one in which Embassy staff were told that kids were finally getting Exit Letters to come home. Unfortunately, this far I haven't heard anything indicating that was the case.)

Me: "Ok, go call and I'll keep thinking."

And thus began the fastest two hours of my life. (If you've ever been awake at 2 am, you know that those hours in the night pass slower than any other time in your life.)

Texts flew back and forth between us as I waited to find out what would happen and asked Brad a million questions. I imagined him sitting there at the Embassy, watching the hands of the clock move faster than those of a magician. In my mind, I replayed the confirmation I had received from credible sources that we did not need originals to file our I-600 petition. I recounted every other document in our folder: copies of our court documents in both French and English, abandonment report papers, applications, and notarized signatures, all labeled, organized, and color-coded for the ease (and hopeful delight) of the Embassy staff.

But Brad didn't have our original documents, and that was completely out of our control. Furthermore, we were told we didn't have to have them.

Yet, the Embassy would not accept our file unless we gave them every piece of paper they required simultaneously, and that included the elusive original documents. And Brad had to be present when it happened, which means he'd have to stay there several more days for a new appointment.

While waiting, I beat myself up for not triple checking information about what was needed to file our petition. I got mad about it. I prayed. I messaged a friend who filed paperwork recently in DRC. I texted our adoption agency contact in the States.

Brad said our in-country rep talked to the man who had our files and told him to get them to the Embassy as soon as possible. The man was already on his way to the Embassy for other reasons, so he had his son get the papers and hop in a cab. We had no idea where they lived, how far they were from the Embassy, or if we even had a chance of getting the papers there on time.

This two hours was a microcosm of this entire adoption process: It was out of our hands entirely.

I prayed some more. I sent out a Facebook plea for people who were awake to pray. My mom saw my post and came into my room to see what was up and then started praying, too. (The boys and I stayed at my parents' house a few nights while Brad was awake. Bless my selfless parents!!)

I wondered what Brad would do if he had to stay another several days, as we had packed the minimum amount of food, clothes, money, and necessities for a three-day stay. I wondered if DRC would let him stay extra days. I wondered how much more money it would cost to stay longer (I mean...DRC is unbelievably expensive!!). I wondered if I could change his plane tickets (should have gotten that travel insurance!).

We were down to 20 minutes left until the deadline, and Brad hadn't heard a peep from the in-country rep or anyone else who held hope of bringing the documents.

Little did I know Brad was running back and forth between the Embassy and his hotel, where he was supposed to meet the man bringing our documents. When the documents weren't at the hotel yet, he ran back to plead his case with a man in charge of the files. "Please wait, they are on their way."

We didn't know at that time that traffic in Kinshasa looked like this:

Photo: https://playingintheworldgame.wordpress.com/2012/07/14/738/kinshasa-24533_1329098920907_1633994228_7778/
And the man who held our original paperwork lived far away on the other side of town.

At 3:40 am, my phone went silent. Nothing came from Brad. I didn't hear from him again until one hour later, at 4:40 am (10:40 Kinshasa-time, 40 minutes past the deadline). The hour-long silence nearly killed me. (Have I mentioned that it's a Third World country and Brad could only text with Wi-Fi?)

And then I got this: "PRAISE JESUS!!!"

What did he mean by that?! "AHHHHHH! You got them?" (I hoped he was about to share specifics of good news, but I also worried that he was trying to be positive and help us both to praise God in all things.)

Silence. Several minutes went by, and suddenly the time that was speeding by so fast before slowed to a creeping near-halt.

"At the 11th hour!!! Got it. Praise Jesus!" (Someone at the Embassy had stayed late to accept the documents. Bless that saint!!)

And then I bawled like a baby. Relief. I think I had been holding my breath that entire 2 hours and 40 minutes. I had also been sitting up in bed in the most uncomfortable position possible. (The next day, I had a bruise on the back of my head from my headboard, but I was oblivious at the time.)

It wasn't that missing the deadline would have absolutely destroyed our adoption process. It would have just been a small glitch, a slight delay amongst a million-and-one other issues, heartaches, and delays we've already experienced. But that's just it; it would have been ONE MORE THING. And sometimes one more thing can devastate.

To those of you who prayed with us at 2 am (and so many other times), thank you. And thank you for praising with us, too.

Later that day--after I finally fell back asleep somewhere around 6:30 am and slept like a baby--I received another text from Brad: A video of him and our sweet girl. She was laughing hysterically. One of the most beautiful sounds I've ever heard.

Thank you for praying and praising with us. She is worth the sleeplessness at 2 am and the mess of tears at 4:40 am and stress-filled phone calls and everything else. She is worth it all.

(I hope to be back here early next week to share some videos and provide a more detailed update on where we are in the process.)