A year ago today we FINALLY received travel clearance to go to China and meet Rachel. That was such a huge relief. When we got Rachel's referral at the end of April, our agency told us that the time between referral and travel was anywhere from 2 1/2 to 5 months, depending on how fast paperwork was processed. So we prayed for a short wait and cleared our calendars. We thought "How wonderful it would be to travel in oh, July or so, and be home for a while before school begins. That would be perfect!" Only it didn't work out that way.
We had already waited 3 years for our second child and thought that wait had been hard. But we were wrong. The wait after we saw her face and knew her name and her age was unbearable. It's difficult to describe this waiting to people who have not been through it. It is simply excruciating. Here we were, sitting in Kansas while the baby we already loved was half way around the world. Her room was decorated. Her closet was overflowing with sweet little dresses. Her books and toys were sitting on the shelves. We were ready, but we were not allowed to go and get her. I stared at her pictures thousands of times and ached to think that every day she was growing and learning new things and we weren't there to share them.
Steve and Katherine and I were all terribly stressed by the wait. We snapped at each other. None of us slept well. We cried a lot. Many, many days it felt like this adoption would never happen. We were so afraid that things would fall apart and that Rachel would never be ours. It was a strange kind of grief, mixed with deep longing and occasional sparks of hope. Summer drug by. Rachel turned 18 months, then 19, then 20. We flipped our empty calendar pages and waited. Eventually school started and Steve and I went back to work, seemingly no closer to our girl than we had been in May. Katherine started kindergarten. And still we waited.
On August 24th, we finally heard the news we had been waiting for. We had travel clearance! We were going to China! I felt relief so large it seemed like a physical weight had been lifted. We were going. The nightmare summer was over and Rachel really was going to be ours. The two or so weeks we waited before traveling passed easily. That wait was calm. I could finally accept that things would work out in there own time. This wasn't the plan we'd hoped and dreamed for, but it would all be fine. And it has been.