The Day I’ll Never Forget

I don’t think I’ll ever forget how I felt as David and I quietly walked the streets of Sofia, Bulgaria in November.  We huddled together, not only for warmth, but to offer each other the unspoken support of physical closeness.  It was my 29th birthday, but the gift I most anticipated wouldn’t be in my arms until the next day.  We wandered about aimlessly hoping the time would pass, but the day was so surreal it was as if the clock stood still.  When dinnertime finally came, we enjoyed a meal at our favorite restaurant, walked back to our rented apartment, and put on Netflix in an attempt to wind down.  I vacillated between calm and frantic, enjoying the normalcy of our evening and anticipating the unknown to come in a matter of hours.

My alarm sounded early the next morning.  I hadn’t slept much, but adrenaline carried me to the shower where my mind raced as I stood under the hot water.  Wanting to stick to my routine, I went to the next room, made coffee, and got comfortable on the couch.  But I was in a daze.  When David woke up, we exchanged greetings, expressed disbelief that the day had come, and got ready in silence.  What could we say on a day like this?  I handed him a card that I had written a few days prior knowing I would want to express my sentiments without struggling to verbalize them in the moment.  We spent a couple minutes praying together, and then David looked out the window.

“She’s here.  Are you ready?”  I took a deep breath, gave him a tight squeeze, and we left the apartment to meet our in-country adoption facilitator knowing we’d return shortly with our son.  Seeing a familiar face again put us at ease, at least as much as was possible on a day like this.  We made the short walk to the metro station and boarded the subway for a memorable destination.  A few minutes later we walked back up into the daylight and were greeted by falling snowflakes while our feet carried us on the route we’d taken several times earlier that summer.

“There it is,” David said, as our eyes fixed on the tan building down the street.  Deni’s orphanage.  In July, that building had been the scene of the most heart wrenching goodbye imaginable, and we couldn’t wait to get back as soon as possible.  As we got closer to the gate, I wondered if Deni knew we were coming.  I wondered if he was even slightly aware that today was different – that this was a Monday unlike any other Monday.  We made our way through the gate, entered the front door, and took a seat in the lobby.  We were greeted by one of Deni’s caretakers, and I handed over a Walmart bag stuffed with a diaper, khaki pants, flannel shirt, socks, and boots.  I held on to his coat and gloves.  The friendly caretaker left, and we were shuffled into the director’s office where we signed some papers and sat in silence for what felt like forever but was only a few minutes.

The silence was broken when we heard an unforgettable shriek on the stairs, through the hallway, and finally nearing the office door.  The lump in my throat came immediately, and then the door opened.  Our son, dressed in his very own clothes, walked across the room unassisted.  My eyes burned and my hands covered my dropped jaw.  Deni climbed into David’s lap and started playing with his lips – picking up right where we left off four months earlier.  He made his way to me and did the same thing, a subtle acknowledgement from God that Deni remembered us.  Minutes later we walked out of the orphanage as a family, waited for a taxi, and were soon dropped off at the apartment we had left less than two hours prior.  For the first time ever, we were totally alone with our son.  What in the world?

It’s been almost five months since we arrived home with Deni, and our lives have been enriched beyond words.  We’ve seen him transition to preschool and thrive under the care of loving teachers and therapists; we’ve watched him learn to walk independently; we’ve witnessed him gain confidence; and we’ve enjoyed hearing him try to make new sounds and form syllables.  We’ve also been more tired than we could have anticipated; we’ve been challenged by the learning curve of adopting a five-year-old who has special needs; and we’ve struggled at times to understand exactly what is best for him in a given moment.

November 20, 2017 was not an ordinary day.  It was extraordinary in every sense of the word, but the days that followed have been a marriage of the old normal and a new normal.  God’s mercies have met us every morning, just like always.  His faithfulness has been evident.  His provision has been sufficient.  He has worked wonders – in our hearts, in stacks of paperwork, in a Bulgarian orphanage, in a Bluefield preschool, and under our roof.  He’s been doing this all along – splitting seas, providing in the wilderness, raising the dead, defending the fatherless, and defying the odds.  He’s the same as He’s always been, but our eyes have been opened slightly wider to behold Him in greater wonder and expectation.

Who is this who writes such beautiful stories?

Who is this who does exceedingly, abundantly more than we could imagine?

Who is this who gives us better gifts than we would have ever requested?

This is our God, who declares with every act of faithfulness, “There’s more where that came from.”

This is our God, who alone does “wonders without number” (Job 5:9).

And this is our God – the One whose eyes never left a little boy in a Bulgarian orphanage or a heartbroken couple in West Virginia who were unsure if they’d ever have a child.  Wonder of wonders, He saw the three of us all along and brought us together at just the right time.

Who is this?  This is our God.