Just as we were about to finish our conversation, the agency worker asked me to wait on the line; her boss was walking by. They spoke for a couple of minutes - it felt much longer to be honest…
Then, she came back to me with an excited voice; since we were applying for our long-term visas in the UK that would be enough documentation for us to start the adoption process. In an instant, an exploratory phone call turned into an initial interview and a booking on to the upcoming four-day training course, almost half a year sooner than expected. For a couple who had found the stage of ‘waiting’ a regular occurrence, to see such expediency was exhilarating. We gladly altered our plans for early July and officially changed our plans to adopting in the UK, rather than the US.
The training days were chock full of information, as well as exploring how we’d respond to scenarios; playing games; meeting new friends and, even more importantly, meeting our case worker. Even though we had already done the home study process in America, we had to go through the whole process here too. Just as our home study process began, a twist in the plans took place – our estate agent called. An unexpected call from an estate agent is not usually good news, and the tone in his voice said it all.
For the past year and a half, one of the bedrooms in the four-bedroom detached house we rented was tagged as a nursery room. It simply lacked the baby and cot. Moving was not on our agenda. Following the phone call from the estate agent, we had just eight weeks to move out and into a new place. We were at a loss of where we could live, all while the adoption process was had already begun.
In our lives, prayer has been a huge aspect of how we live and our direction in making decisions. One Friday in July 2013, we found ourselves going to the local Anglican church where we spent some time praying about our desperate situation. Earlier that week, I had asked the Rector there, Ian, if he knew of any three-bedroom places going, but he didn’t. On the Saturday, at the school fete, while we walked around, somewhat aimlessly, unbeknownst to us, a couple came up to Ian to ask if he could do a christening, before they moved out of the village. They were moving soon and had a three-bedroom house to rent, which they were going to be putting on the market after the weekend. Ian mentioned that he knew of a family who needed a place to live. Would you believe after a couple of phone calls, by that night, we had seen the house and agreed to rent it!
Why share this story? It’s an example of how we feel that God has watched over us, throughout the whole process, even when a situation looked bleak, somehow creating an even better answer for our questions.
At the first home study meeting, we had a bit of a surprise, when our case worker asked ‘how many children would we like to adopt?’ We glanced at each other, sort of looked puzzled, then sort of chuckled and replied ‘we could have more than one?’ It was another example of receiving more than we could have expected. The process in the USA would have been one new-born, but here in the UK, we could be approved for adopting a sibling group. This not only took us by surprise but filled our hearts with even more hope!
As the autumn of 2013 passed, all of the home study meetings went as planned, in our new rental. It had been nearly two years since we have been back to America, so we booked a flight for the November of 2013. However, our visa documentation and passports had all been sent in June to the Home Office, [KL1] to gain our ‘right to remain’ status, but we had heard nothing. Again, we found ourselves waiting, but this time with no direct contact details and time running out. Without our passports and visas, we would not be able to fly, or legally live in this country either. One Sunday morning after our church family had prayed for us, an older man in the congregation came up to me and asked if we had contacted our local MP. I didn’t realise that would help, but we looked into his suggestion. Very soon following an email, the MP was in contact with us, asking questions and gathering helpful information about our situation. To our relief, on 30th October 2013, just a couple weeks before our planned travel, the knock on the door was the postman with an official looking envelope. Within the package were our passports, paperwork and a promise of our long-awaited visas within seven working days. To our amazement, hardly an hour later, a courier stood on our doorstep with another official looking envelope. You guessed it, our indefinite leave to remain visas and residency cards arrived to. We were legally allowed to travel, to live here and, more importantly, carry on with the adoption process without worry.
Once again, we saw how the prayers of our friends, the timing of God and the learning in the waiting was a hallmark of our adoption journey. There were, of course, more hurdles to jump over. In order to begin the search for waiting children, you first have to be approved by a panel, which is comprised of adopters, social workers, doctors and other people within the adoptive community. It can be intimidating to walk into the room with an aim to answer questions, as a dozen people are gathered to verify that you are able to do this. It’s the culmination of the home study. We were prepared, yet nervous too.
Our panel meeting didn’t go as we had hoped. There were a couple members of the panel with concerns. After much discussion, rather than approval on that day, we were told that we would need to be ‘signed off’ by the director of the agency. It meant another time of waiting, even though we were assured that, ultimately, we’d receive approval. It was now April 2014. It turned out to be the final month of waiting, but it was tough. We leapt when our mobiles or home phone rang, expecting ‘the phone call’. On the 17th, at 4:17pm, I was outside fighting with a ground spike, trying with all my might to drive it deep enough so that the washing line would be sturdy. I heard a shriek, dropped my mallet and raced indoors. The shriek was of excitement, not fright. My wife was on the phone. THE CALL had come. Our social worker excitedly told us that we were approved. The meetings, paperwork and emotional effort had been so worth it.
There are so many more stories that I could share from the next stage of the process. What lay ahead though was the ‘fun stuff’. The matching with children, in our case sisters aged 3 ½ and 1 ½. Seeing their pictures online was heart-warming; meeting them in person in the August was heart-exploding. Hearing ‘mommy and daddy’ yelled when we came through the foster carers’ door, the first time, was ‘take your breath away’ material.
I trust that you’ve seen through these two blog entries how our faith has helped us through, our faithful friends have helped us through and there can be joy even in the waiting. If you would like to read much more of our story along with retelling of stories of family and adoption from the Bible, you’ll really enjoy my recently released book, ‘our road to adoption’ ‘the story of our family and great family of God’.
To purchase Earl’s book, follow this link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1717065384
Our Road to Adoption
The Story of our Family and the Great Family of God.
Mr Earl Dee Robinson.