With Thankfulness: Thankful for the Bumps

Miss E likes to play “Bumpy Road” with me. She sits on my knees while I bounce her and chant, “Bumpy road, bumpy road. Smooth road, smooth road. Bumpy road, bumpy road. Ditch!” And, on the word ditch, I drop her through my knees.  Simple fun.

When I think back over this past year — a year that has been largely focused on our recent adoption — it reminds me of that simple game I play with Miss E:  Bumpy Road.

Preparations, planning, waiting, traveling, meeting our daughter, adjusting, etc. For someone who doesn’t like transitions, I’d say we’ve done pretty well. We have settled into our new normal as a family of four. But, as I look back on all that the past year held for our family, I am not only grateful for everything that went well (smooth road).  I am also thankful for everything that didn’t (bumpy road/ditch).

No, I’m not an overly-positive person who goes with the flow with every hiccup that comes our way. Quite the opposite, in fact. What I mean is that had it not been for all of the bumps along the road to adopting our daughter, we would never have met our daughter.

About a year ago, we found a girl on an agency list and requested her information. Since it was very outdated, we requested updates before committing. Those updates took about a month to receive. Bump.

Once we sent in our letter of intent to adopt her, we needed to transfer to the new agency. What should have taken a few weeks took MUCH longer. We watched as families “passed us up” in the process. Bump. Bump.

Once the transfer finally happened, our agency assured us that our letter of acceptance from China would be fast in coming. You see, we were I-600, under the old rules, which meant we would be meeting our girl soon. Wrong. Weeks and weeks passed. The agency while in China on official adoption business actually resorted to asking the office that handles adoptions in person for an update on our case. They found our paperwork buried under mounds of other paperwork which meant more waiting. Bump.

Once our letter of acceptance came, we just had to wait for our travel approval to be on our way. Hooray! Well, after another longer-than-usual-wait, it came. We were able to secure a consulate appointment and book flights to leave the very next week. That is, until we learned it was the Dragon Boat Festival. Because of that festival, the civil affairs offices would be closed, so our travel plans had to be cancelled. Bump. Bump.

After much begging and pleading by our agency on behalf of our family, we were given a consulate appointment for the following week, and we were on our way. Finally. It was time to meet our daughter.

The moment we met her, however, our dreams came crashing down. It became clear to us that she had very severe needs. Needs that we were not prepared to handle. We were not the best parents for her. And after 3 emotional, stressful days and 2 sleepless nights, we had to say goodbye to the girl we thought would become our daughter. We were prepared to end our dreams of adding to our family through adoption. We were prepared to come home without a child. We were broken and bewildered and hurting and questioning everything. Bump. Bump. Thud.

Our agency asked if we would consider adopting another child. We said we didn’t think so. They asked us to think about it. Pray about it. And, they asked if they could lock a child for us on the Shared List. The New Shared List. The Shared List that was coming out that very night. That very night.

When our agency emailed a girl’s file to us, we didn’t even open it for a while. How could we? What is this whole trip about? Why did this happen? Why all the roadblocks and delays and headaches and bumps? Did God call us this far to quit? To go home without a child? Or did God call us to China for this little girl whose file sits unopened in our computer inbox?

And so, we nervously opened the file and saw the face of the girl who made it all make sense. It was all for her.

Had everything happened without a bump, had our paperwork transferred flawlessly, our letter of acceptance been issued in a timely manner, our travel plans fallen into place without delay we would have missed our daughter. She would have been locked by another family and would still be waiting in her orphanage for a family to come and pick her up…a thought I cannot bear to think because she is OUR daughter. She was meant FOR US. The bumpy road was the only road that could have brought us to her at just the right time.

And for her…for her, I would go through it all again. I would endure the heartache and disappointment. I would endure the doubt and shame cast on us by others. I would endure the uncertainty of God’s mysterious will. For her. Our daughter.

Only God could orchestrate all the events perfectly to make our family whole. Only He could give us peace in the decisions we needed to make. Only He could bring comfort and healing to broken hearts. Only He could offer His presence throughout each bump in the road.

For the struggle, for my daughter, for my God…I am thankful.

(Note: In answer to our prayers, the girl we did not bring home has found her family, for which we are forever grateful.)



Stephanie has been married to Matthew for over 5 years. She “retired” from teaching after 18 years in the classroom when she had their first child. But, she continues to do a lot of work with school-aged children by teaching science to home-schooled children each week and being involved in children’s ministry in their church. It is through their two children that God has revealed Himself most clearly. He not only worked a miracle in enabling them to have a biological daughter who is 2 ½, He continued to show Himself in a mighty way throughout an adoption journey that was anything but normal. Her days are filled with all things “toddler,” and she loves the blessing of being a stay-at-home-mom. You can read more about their family here.

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