The Second Story Line

I drove aimlessly under the spring sky, my heart all holed-up in winter.

They’d gotten their court dates assigned, a whole group of them, but we’d heard nothing. Our children shared blankets and beds and nannies on another continent while we, previously strangers, were having our stories woven together stateside. We formed a fraternity in the waiting room of adoption.

I’m sure it will it come in a day or two, I’d thought. Our adoption we’d generously estimated would take eight months was now into month nineteen. This couldn’t possibly be as hard as the other hurdles we’d hit. I’d been assuming we’d still all fall in step but I had finally stopped flinching at every potential delay.

Until I heard from our agency coordinator that a critical piece of paperwork was missing. Our case couldn’t proceed without it. When would it come? She didn’t know. Will it come? She hoped, but couldn’t be certain.

I climbed in the car and drove. I wanted to crawl out of my skin and into another person’s story. Why does every stage of this adoption have to be so hard? I sunk deep into self-pity, decidedly staying there.

Fast forward two years plus and two children later. Because they’d found the paperwork way back when and we came home with our children months later. But here I was again. Different children, different adoption, same heart story-line.

Now, it was after nearly twenty-four hours of travel and we were welcomed to Uganda in the dark.

We ushered tired little bodies through customs and gathered bags packed hastily for six weeks … or six months. Was it really just six days earlier that Nate came home from a prayer meeting and announced it was time to go? No court date, no sign of a court date, but we still held out hope we’d have our case heard.

We clumsily moved our bulging suitcases outside the airport to find our drivers. Their bright white teeth glistened against the uncertain African night and I felt a twinge of familiarity. My children are here. There was a reason for all of this seeming madness. I scooped limp bodies into my lap and under my arm in the backseat for but a second before our driver foisted the phone in my hand.

“Sara, it’s me,” she said. This friend-made-family in the three months since He’d used our blogs to intersect our lives, was still one I’d yet to have a chance to wrap my arms around. Her voice trembled. “I wanted you to know right away. The judge has said he will see no more cases this season. It won’t be until late September or October before we can submit for a court date.”

Here we were, July 6th. The car had started and I was ready to vomit.

My true livelihood was in my lap but my life was in the United States. This was the very thing I’d feared most as I weighed bags holding provisional clothing and items for months — or possible years — though I’d deeply desired to be home in weeks for my father’s legacy trip.

The sky was blacker than I’d ever known it to be, that night.

We drove pockmarked roads with windows down, inhaling the pungent smells of barrel fires. Only God heard my stifled sobs as Nate talked with our driver in the front seat and my children slept, sweaty, against me. Though I’d written in my journal eleven months earlier about a sense I had from Him — “this adoption will be harder than the first, but you will bring them home” — I refused comfort.

This rescue mission was taking a wrecking ball to my heart.

Or so I thought.


Adoption has this funny way of morphing into a singular story-line. Rescue. Redemption. Restoration. All for the child.

My own path to these ones had started this way. I saw her cracked skin and heard cries that fell flat and I desperately wanted to be a stop gap for that kind of pain. A pause to notice them, the invisible to almost all but Him, filled my mind like lily-pads and before I knew it I couldn’t imagine life without participating in the rescue.

This was all of Him, this line of thinking so outside my natural bent.

So I narrowed in, took on the adoptive mommy-zone which is so necessary to push through labor pains with no ceiling. I fixed my eyes on those children and my prayers on their homecoming. This was His will, for the fatherless to be set in families; therefore this was my mission.

But, as I’m finding in all pockets of my life, my Father is not one-dimensional. His work is layered. And to believe that adoption is just about bringing them home is to miss the peripheral beauty, that just might be His main-stage show.

I called my pursuit of them weighty. He sees weight in His pursuit of me.

The first time around, I nearly collapsed under every hiccup. Angry and frustrated, cursing the enemy-thwarter and driving harder at each sign of delay. They were made to be in my home was the line which subtly forsook noting a deeper work He was doing, in me.

It’s always easier to look out than in.

I have a Daddy who has made mission out of a heart-union, me to Him. He is so good that He allows disruption, distraction and delay (yes, even the kind that the enemy sends, because we know it is God who has the final say) to even the most stunning quest  — adoption — so that my heart would know hunger.

I was made to know Him, more, every day and in every life-delay. It’s here that I come alive, regardless of the external.

Adoption chips away at sedimentary rock. I have had four difficult adoptions (and likely will have more) to show for the lengths my Father will go to to seek and save what was lost … in me.

The second story-line.

How might I see my current life or mission-disruption differently if I breathe belief in the God whose undercurrent, to everything, is love? His love, lived out in their hearts, and His love, expanded, into mine.

If you’ve hit a delay in your adoption or life’s progress, or know (well) the barriers I’ve described above — if there’s something that’s just not moving in your circumstances — ask Him about it. Father, what don’t I know about You that You want to reveal to me here? 

What side of Yourself do You want to write on my story?

We walk circles around the same mountain until we move from eyeing that switchback … to taking it. When we press in to who He is in that moment of delay, we get to see new angles of Him with fresh eyes. When we say Father, show me Yourself in this moment, I barely know You, our lives sigh with relief. This is one step forward into knowing Him anew.

And our still, small move towards abiding — not resisting, pushing, straining — gets reciprocated by Him.

Friends, we were made to grow up into Him. Each day, each delay is rich with new understandings of God. There’s an ocean to explore and we’ve barely wet our toes.

We, too, are no longer orphans.

Second, third, and fourth photos compliments of Mandie Joy.

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9 Responses to “The Second Story Line”

  1. Sharon on

    We’re in the midst of another difficult adoption road and also some of life’s twisty-turns that we weren’t expecting and are seeking to understand. Thank you so much for this.

  2. Mindy on

    Our family is adopting from Uganda as well. We were matched with our little boy in Feb. 2011. We were denied a visa for him on October 28th 2011. Our case was then sent to Nairobi. We turned all our evidences in on March 8th. We then were issued another RFE on March 21st for a home study updated because of evidence we brought up. All that to tell you that you spoke to my heart. =) Thanks for sharing. Still waiting….

  3. Sara on

    Sharon & Mindy,

    Oh, these stories. Praying for a grace that only He can give for you to receive ALL He has for you in this season. These waiting rooms, though so painful at times, are holy, don’t let anyone (even yourself :)) tell you otherwise. He has *much* for you here as your hearts bleed for these children.


  4. Erika Chapman on

    UUUGGGHHH! This fell fresh on a raw heart wound Sara….yesterday was a freak out day…I just came through a few weeks of being at peace with the wait. Then the last week impatience stirred and I began to feel trapped and pressed against the weight of the interminable wait and yesterday I just gave in to the weakness and lost it…crying…stressing…frantic emails…attempts at some source of control. Aaaahhhhh thank you for this post. So perfectly time. I don’t know what He wants me to see or what His purpose is…but this helps me regain perspective again and dig into abiding. Thank you for your hard earned wisdom and for sharing it sweet friend:)

  5. Sara on


    “dig into abiding” — I love this. This is where I am, drinking deep and asking Him “what does it meant to abide?” Praise God that adoption seems to accelerate that “ask” :).

    Love your heart here,

  6. Erika Chapman on

    Just had to say thanks again. I’m back here reading again. Yet your post pushes me to pick up His sweet Word and dig in and set my alarm earlier for desperately needed quiet time at His feet. Shopping for Easter shirts for my boys today made me pass by sweet little pastel dresses and to my surprise I felt my eyes sting with tears. I am NOT a crier! But I remembered asking the Lord recently to teach me how to have a more sensitive, compassionate heart…as I am always baffled at how quickly my friends cry at other peoples pain in movies and books and real life. I love deeply but don’t cry easily. So when I felt tears rise today I remembered to thank my Father and Teacher for answering that prayer through the wait and frustration and longing in this process:) Just want you to be encouraged that your story brings so many of us full circle to a teachable place.

  7. Sara on

    Oh I love this vignette into how He is working! Thank you for taking time to write it down, here. My heart cry over this writing space is that He would be made known. Thank you for your sweet encouragement!!

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