Once again, I find myself in a house staring at an extra room. The first time this happened, that room became a lot of things. A study room while I naively thought about getting a masters' degree. An office when I hosted a (very, very) short-lived etsy shop selling party supplies. A craft room, for after I bought my first sewing machine I was sure I would sew all the things, but instead projects lay half-baked around the room.
Finally, finally, it was a designated children's room. For our future kid. Or two. And then they appeared and suddenly the void that the room was trying to fill was...full.
Now I'm in a new house. Slightly larger than the last, but with the exact same problem. I've got an extra room. This time, though, I know exactly how I want it filled. I want it filled with new kids. I want to fill it with daughter number three, or son number one, or sibling group number two. I want to fill it with a baby, or a preschooler, or a first grader, or a middle schooler.
Instead, I have this empty room that I have to walk past numerous times every day.
I'm not naive this time around. I'm not going to make it into a craft room, or an office, or a playroom. I'm going to leave it alone and let it sit as bare as the stripped mattress in the corner. I'm going to let it just stay empty until what I want--what I pray for, what I yearn for, what I'm pining for--is here to fill it up. I want to be able to say See? We've been waiting for you.
There are days that I find myself wandering in this room, praying over the mattress, the empty dresser, the bare closet, the naked windows. I pray earnestly to the Lord that He might fill this room with the right children, the ones that will be our sons or daughters. I pray loudly, pacing back and forth, that my children--who might be alive right now--are kept safe and sound and are given a hope and a future. I cry, and my tears fill the room with hopes and dreams for these children I haven't yet met. One day he will be an astronaut. Or maybe she will be a President. Or he will be an Olympic gold medalist. Or she will find herself in a room similar to this years later as she prepares the way for her own child.
Then there are days that I find myself wandering in this room and kicking the mattress that is still empty after so many long months. I can't help but put my fist through the closet doors and rip out the empty dresser drawers. I yell angrily to the Lord that He hasn't yet filled this room with my children yet, and I'm getting sick and tired of waiting. I'm mad that my sons or daughters are still feeling the presence of the broken world around them as they are sitting, waiting, in a broken and flawed system instead of here, with their mama. I cry, and my tears fill the room with my own hopelessness and despair. I have nightmares about these children who are in desperate situations. Who is preparing a way for them? Who is giving them a hope and a future? Who will pave the way for her to become a famous chef? Who will give him the tools to become a master carpenter?
Then there are fleeting moments, where I stand at the doorway looking in, with no other feeling than that desperate longing to at least know my children by name, if not by face. For just a small second, I can see them playing in here, becoming brothers or sisters to my daughters, devising ways to get out of doing their chores, scheming to play pranks on their dad.
As desperately as I want them here, right now, do they feel the same way? Are they sitting in their house praying for a hope and a future? For the right mom and dad? For the right sisters to play with? Or are they sitting in their house hopeless and lost? Have they given up on the idea that they will have a future? Are they sure they'll never have any family that loves them?
This is adoption. That point in time when you want to drive over to your kid and pick them up and take them home but you can't, because you are solely reliant on a system--a very broken system--that tells you the when and the where and the how and the what and the who. We have to wait for them to tell us how to parent and what kind of room we need and who our future kid is going to be and when we can meet them. It's hard to keep the faith that God is all over itl when your frustrations at case workers pile up so high it gets hard to carry. It's hard to believe that God is taking care of your son and/or daughter when you don't even know his or her name and they're not in your house.
But that's all I can do. It's all I'm legally allowed to do. Pray. I can't control my children's fate. I can't control when they get to know my name or face. I can't control when I get to pick them up and take them to their forever home.
But I can sit in the empty room, on the empty mattress, typing this story out, praying that my kids haven't lost hope, wishing I could send them a letter about how I'm on my way, and to not lose heart.
I can pray. And I can get angry. And I can pray some more. And I can trust, with the faith of a mustard seed, that a God who is bigger than I can fathom, is taking care of my children wherever they are, even if they're not with me. And that someday, she will become a famous artist, or he will become a great writer. Because God is the one who is in control. Not the system.
So I'll keep praying And keep getting angry. And keep waiting in this room.
Caitlin is the founder and creator of Respite Redefined. She is the wife of one and mother of two daughters through adoption from foster care. Caitlin loves to read, to write, and to dream of the places she'll go and the sights she'll see and the new kids she'll one day meet.