I never want to forget how scared I was when I finally got Ivan out of the orphanage and had him in my care.
I remember calling Ryan, sobbing on the phone, and telling him that I didn't know how we were going to do this. "I know we expect this to be hard, but this is going to be so much harder than we could of imagined."
I was so scared... so scared of what my life was going to look like now with this little boy, whom we had fought to call son.
I haven't written about it ever on here, but the week we stayed in Kiev before flying home, was by far our hardest time. I was alone and exhausted and Ivan was scared out of his mind and grieving losing everything that he once knew.
I remember counting down the minutes each day, reminding myself that if we could make it home, maybe things would get better, at least I wouldn't be alone anymore.
At that time, if I wasn't holding Ivan, all he wanted to do was slam doors or bang his head on anything he could find. His way of self soothing was banging his head or biting himself incessantly. This was the only stimulation he had while he laid in a crib for years, when one is so starved of sensory input, even harmful behaviors can bring a false sense of comfort. If I stopped him from self harming, he would bite, pinch, scratch me. I remember how my arms were full of bruises when we finally made it onto American soil.
I clung to the words that someone said to me somewhere along our journey, "nothing starts until you get home."
So I just prayed my way through each day. I felt lost and disoriented, but I continued to trust that God had a plan in this.
Eventually I did find something that would keep Ivan busy and didn't require any loud banging. We would go into the tiny bathroom, shut the door, and I would hold him while he played in the sink.... for hours. If I felt extra strong, I would fill the bath and sit in there with him. He would splash, laugh hysterically, and pour water all over his face and head. He was so starved for sensory input, but he was so overwhelmed by life outside of the orphanage.
I remember how I would put spotify on my phone and listen to "oceans" by Hillsong United over and over and over and over again.
I let the words cover me, not unlike my new child was doing with the water in front of him. I was desperate for comfort. Desperate to find any hope I could cling to...
I would belt out the words with tears pouring down my face...
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
let me walk upon the waters
wherever you would call me.
take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
where my faith will be made stronger
in the presence of my Savior.
I will call upon your name
keep my eyes above the waves
my soul will rest in your embrace
I am yours and You are mine.
I would close my eyes as I sang and when I opened them I would see this child who was requiring such a deep kind of love from me.
Could I love deep enough
Could I keep my eyes above the waves and trust that God could redeem even this kind of hard.
Yes, I never want to forget who I was in those moments. I was so desperate for God... every second.
We are one year deeper now...
One year deeper into this love that requires everything of us.
We have learned so much and come so far, but God's love is deeper than the oceans and we plan to keep on diving.
Somewhere along the way I realized that this journey wasn't just about Ivan finding love and his life being spared and redeemed, but maybe even more so, it has been about Ryan and I discovering a "deeper" love than we ever imagined and our lives being spared and redeemed.
This past Sunday was Orphan Sunday, the day set aside for the world to unite for the cause of the orphan. Thousands of churches around the world joined in prayer and advocacy for these precious children.
I was nervous because at the end of the service, I would be sharing, briefly, our adoption story. I was stressed out from our move just a couple days prior, but I was trying to reflect and worship.
When the worship band began playing... you guessed it... "oceans", I couldn't hold in the tears. I stood there, eyes closed, belting out the words, meaning them just as much today as I did a year prior when I was alone and desperate in a tiny bathroom in Kiev, Ukraine.
I was in awe of God's goodness, His constant faithfulness, and how far we truly have come.
As the song came to an end, I opened up my tear filled eyes to see my son, the one whom I was so scared of only a year ago, with his little hands raised up as high as he can reach, praising the God of healing and true and perfect comfort.
We are one year deeper now... people ask us if it was worth it.... if we will ever do it again... I'll let you decide ;)
Father thank You for Your redemption and grace. Thank you for choosing the most unlikely young couple and calling us out of our boat of comfort into the deep waters of your unfailing, unconditional love. Thank You for using this adoption journey to change Ivan forever and THANK YOU for using this adoption to change Ryan and I FOREVER. We believed before in the deepness of your love, but now we have experienced the beauty of the plunge and we never want to stop diving.
Thank You for filling in every place where we have failed to love like You. Thank you for your continual redemption of this precious life. He is all ready our world changer and I know You will continue to use him to soften hearts and lead others to Your deep love.
To you be every drop of the glory Father!!