Thursday, March 15, 2012

Mother May I...

Mother may I, please pretty please...take 5 large steps toward Africa?  The answer this week was YES!  2012 has been marked by loads of paperwork.  That stack of documents needing notary and state seals had me jumping up and down impatiently itchy for it to be my turn to stretch my legs toward the finish line.

Our state sealing was done a week ago Friday.  Scott and I used his day off for a big "Secretary of State" date.  State sealing is only done at some of the bigger branches so we headed out of suburbia to a large, diverse waiting room.  This seemed a likely opportunity to broaden my horizons and meet someone outside of my nice little bubble world.  I was ready to reach out to someone on the margins....so I prayed all the way there for eyes that would be open to the right empty seat for while I was waiting.  For more on that tension that I've been processing lately, read here.

Here's how it went...  When we arrived, clutching our precious papers, we got in line to get our number ticket.  We were directed to a sign-in sheet for document sealing.  All but two of the previously filled in lines were crossed out and finished.  Only one person was waiting before us.  I started filling in the boxes...name, number of documents, country the documents will be going to, etc.  As I wrote "Ethiopia", my eyes were drawn to the glowing word in the line above mine..."Ethiopia" was written there too.  Along with my sharp intake of breath came the realization that there must be another person in the full waiting room doing exactly the same thing we were.  I turned around, scanning the crowd, and my eyes were instantly drawn to a wide-eyed couple CLUTCHING A FILE FOLDER!!  And one of the few sets of two empty seats in the room WAS RIGHT BESIDE THEM!  I didn't even have a flicker of my normal cautious, "wouldn't want to embarrass myself" self. I bee-lined straight into their business and asked them if they were her because they were adopting from Ethiopia too!  What an awkward moment it would have been if they had said, "No, what's wrong with you woman?"  But, of course, they are...and they are adopting through...wait for it.......BETHANY!  (Sorry about all the capitals....just don't know how else to convey my eyebrows raised in awe!)

We compared stats just like two pregnant women in the ultrasound waiting room.....how long have you been working on your dossier, what's your story, how many children do you already have, how'd you pick Ethiopia....?  And then we realized that God had orchestrated all the detours and delays of each of our days to plop us next to each other in this very space at this very time.  More awe.  Then, after all the papers bore the coveted gold seal, we parted ways with the thought that it sure would be nice to see each other again in the delivery room, er, I mean, airplane to Ethiopia!

I was looking for someone to reach out to, a person who might need a friend.  Instead God reached out to me and gave me a friend...icing on the cake of a good, good day.

We left the Secretary of State office with 22 documents bearing the seal of the great state of Michigan and the feeling that we had experienced a successful adoption ultrasound.



Over the weekend we burned through a ream of paper and 2 full cartridges of black ink.  The next item on the "dossier to-do" list was to make 3 copies of each of the precious pieces of our paper ransom.

If you saw a huge glowing check mark in the sky on Tuesday - that was us.  The checklist I've been living and breathing for the past two months, the 1 step forward 1/2 a step back "Mother May I" dance, got it's FINAL check.  Just to be safe, I double checked a few more thousand times before I packed it all up in a folder.  I imagine that normal people would stamp the package at this point and drop it in the mail.  Not me. There was too much of my own paper cut blood, sweat and tears (I'm for real, people) to not get a climactic moment out of the finish.  I felt compelled to make a memory....an event.

So, I gathered up everybody in my house - whether they were related to me or not, the camera, the precious file and money for post-event celebratory Shamrock shakes.  (We have a long history of celebrating every momentous occasion in the Florida family with ice cream.  We've also been known to make up events to go with our ice cream...)  We headed across town to Bethany.  On the way there I imagined the moment, how life would fade into slow motion as we all wiped a tear from our eyes and spoke a benediction send-off over our papers as I placed them in our social worker's hands.  I couldn't wait for the moment of blessing that would wing our dossier on it's noble way and cement the solemn occasion in our collective family psyche.

We got there, took the elevator up to the 2nd floor and waited for social worker, Kim to show up in the waiting room.  The slow motion didn't happen.  Instead of the organic words of wisdom I thought would flow from my mouth, we made a memory of a slightly awkward, decidedly dorky moment.  I handed the papers to Kim....and then had nothing to say.  She looked at me, I looked at her, my teenage sons averted their eyes and Kim finally said, "Okay...well, thanks for bringing it down."  I made weird, nervous small talk for a bit, trying to drag it out long enough for "the moment" to emerge and then I finally just blurted, "So, can we, like, take a picture?  Cuz, you know, we want to make this into a moment, something to remember, you know....and I'm just kinda dorky like that."  Yes, I really did say that to our social worker, the one who wrote the document recommending us to the country of Ethiopia as adoptive parents.  "I'm a dork."  Ah me, I need a script writer.

By now, one son couldn't stand the dork factor of his mom and had disappeared into the bathroom.  Instead of snapping a quick pic and high-tailing it out of there, we stood around, hemming and hawing until he moseyed back on out.  Then we did snap a quick picture, high-tailed it out of there straight to McDonald's for some awkward-free deliciousness.



Now it's done.  It's out of my hands.  The papers I have lost sleep over and protected from chocolate milk spills as ferociously as a Momma bear, aren't mine anymore.  If I wasn't so excited, I would feel nostalgic...I've come to love those papers, or at least their purpose.  They've sprouted wings and are carrying our cause to Ethiopia.  Upon arrival in Addis Ababa, our family life in paper form will be translated into Amharic.  Our papers will get in line.  When the powers that be across the ocean announce that they've a couple little brothers (or sisters) that need a home, a family and a name... our papers will raise their hands and jump up and down with itchy impatience as they ask, "Mother may I take 5 large steps toward those babies?  Pick us! Please pick us!"  They will explain that we are the Floridas.  We're often dorkey, but we have room, we have love and we have strength to offer.   Our papers will shed tears and the game will fade into slow motion as a moment happens and we ask, "Please pick us for this treasure and let us sprint toward the finish line."



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