A number of years ago, I had a need to contact our representatives in Congress. My wife and I were in the process of adopting our second child from Korea. The first adoption had gone very smoothly and quite quickly. This time around, there seemed to be one issue after another. Everything had been put on hold for several months by the Korean government as it shut down all international adoption requests during the review and redid a bunch of regulations regarding the adoptions. There was an issue with our adoption agency we had to work through.
Finally, we got word that we had been assigned a child and needed to submit our paperwork to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Agency for approval of the visa Then we waited, and we waited, and then we waited some more. We heard from our adoption agency that everything had been approved for my wife, but nothing had been sent them about me. We tried calling the INS office in Omaha, but they would never answer. Then the adoption agency called the INS and was told that the FBI had not returned my fingerprint report. Then we contacted the FBI, and they had no idea where my fingerprint form was. At that point, we then contacted the INS office and instructed them to send in the duplicate set of fingerprints I had originally submitted.
It was at this point we took the step of contacting our representatives — both senators and the congressman from our district — and asked them to request the FBI and INS to expedite the request, since it had now been more than six months since our infant daughter had been assigned to us. Amazingly, what was normally a four- to eight-week process was completed in less than three weeks. Just before Christmas, we finally got to meet our daughter for the first time. We then sent a thank you letter to each of our representatives.
It was a few years later I had the opportunity to be in the audience and listen to one of the senators whom we had contacted for assistance with the adoption process. He obviously had no idea who I was or that I was present. If I were to make a guess, his staff probably dealt with our situation and I doubt he even knew about what had happened. As I listened that day, I was disappointed by some of his comments as he complained that his Senate colleague from the state was of the opposite party.
I was thinking about this as I remember and rejoice over the “Gotcha days” and birthdays of our two, now adult, children and as I ponder the ongoing political campaigns. This year has been one of the most divisive electoral seasons that I can remember. Partisan politics is, of course, a part of our national governance. Even as we go to the polls to vote, we are being bombarded with advertisements extolling the virtues or failures of one candidate or the other.
In the days to come, we will celebrate and mourn the winners and losers. We may find ourselves filled with dread or excitement of what the coming years will bring, yet still I rejoice. Not because of who may or may not win. Not because things may or may not turn out the way I want. My rejoicing goes back to something I learned as I parented my children, and that is the truth that ultimately I am not in charge and needed to pray — a lot.. The same holds true in our nation, regardless of who wins or loses. Rather than looking to politicians as our hope, I hear once again the promise in the words of Isaiah 43:11, 13, 19:
I, I am the Lord,
and besides me there is no savior...
I am God, and also henceforth I am He;
there is no one who can deliver from my hand;
I work and who can hinder it?
I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
In the days and weeks ahead, may we remember to keep all of our leaders in our prayers and then let God be God.
Galen Smith is pastor at Worthington's Westminster Presbyterian Church.