I am nearing the end of our adoption story. If you'd like to read the whole thing, please go back to Part 1. Thank you for reading about the humbling journey that God called us to, in order to bring Rebekah into our family.
As I mentioned in my last post, we had legally adopted Rebekah in Thailand, but were required to return home to Japan without her because she wasn't able to obtain a passport. We could not get to the bottom of why a passport was not granted to her. It seemed to have to do with legal guardianship within Thailand and the confusion over whether or not she could get a passport with just the approval of her biological grandmother. Amazingly, even though we had adopted her, we could not apply for her passport with her. Such laws are in place for good reason--the Thai government does not want young Thai children to be easily trafficked out of the country. Orphaned children are especially vulnerable and therefore have an even harder time obtaining a passport. We hit brick walls every time we tried to get her a passport.
This season of the adoption journey was incredibly frustrating. Looking back on the two years behind us, we could see God's hand at work. He had called us to this. He had provided a Thai lawyer to us, found Deer's grandmother, caused her to be in agreement with us, kept her and anyone else from bribing us, caused more than one panel of judges to agree to let us pursue adopting her even though she was classified as "unadoptable" because she wasn't in the right kind of orphanage, granted us victory with a Japanese adoption agency, and finally caused the Thai government to grant the adoption. We knew God was in this. He had moved mountains. Why in the world was He unwilling to grant this last necessary piece of documentation?
The days in Okinawa became weeks and months. Our lives at the Harbor were very full with ministry and our own family. We paused daily to weep and grieve our fourth daughter's distance from us. It felt like we were living a double life. On the one hand we were heart-broken and on the other hand blessings were abundant.
We had hired a second lawyer to pursue the passport. She spoke no English and so calling her was especially frustrating. I called her all the time anyway and basically yelled monosyllabic English words into the phone in hopes that she would understand something. She didn't. I searched for Thai speakers in Okinawa and invited them into my house to call her for me. These efforts were fruitless too, as they usually hung up the phone saying something like, "Your lawyer can't get the passport." No kidding.
In November, we received heartbreaking news, which was not directly related to our adoption. Mark's mom, Janet, was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gherig's disease. It's an evil, wretched disease with no treatment, prevention, or cure. It is very, very painful. We didn't know what to do. We wanted to go and be with Janet, but now we had a daughter in Thailand and we knew we couldn't leave her there. The average life expectancy after an ALS diagnosis is 2-5 years. Questions began to swirl in our heads--what was our role in this for Janet? For Rebekah? For our ministry at the Harbor?
It was a hard time. Mark and I slept little, wept much, and wondered what God would have us do.
I visited Rebekah briefly in December 2009 to provoke the lawyer and investigate what we should do next. Here is a photo of her and me on that trip.