adoption update: racing home

Most of my friends know that, in high school, I was an avid runner. I ran cross-country to stay in shape for track & field - and then ran track & field pretty much year-round from the age of ten until I graduated high school. As a sprinter, I loved the burst of energy and speed. I loved relays that allowed me chase down an opponent and share in a victory with a team. I ran at regional and state meets, and a few times at nationals.

Fast-forward to today, and the tides have turned. I run . . . the laundry machine and dishwasher. And I sprint to the front door as our two-year-old tries to break out of our house. These days my husband, Delwin, is the real runner and I just occasionally jog around the neighborhood or do a HIIT workout on the treadmill at the gym.

But two weeks ago while we were in San Francisco and as we saw our adoption fundraiser hit halfway - we knew it was time to pull out all the stops and run a race that was different from any of the relays of half marathons either of us has ever run.

A while ago, a new friend was sitting across from me at our dining room table and told us all about how they invited their community ALL ACROSS AMERICA to run a race with them in support of their son’s adoption from Ethiopia. I listened in awe as I thought of their friends, family, acquaintances and complete strangers lacing up tennis shoes and running in parks, along sidewalks, and through forest preserves - all in solidarity. (One person even refused to run - and drove the race distance instead!) All because one life mattered so much, and it was time to bring their son home.

“I’ll make your race website for you!” she exclaimed that night.

And so when we saw the website halfway, Delwin and I looked at each other and said, “Let’s do it. Let’s run a race.”

Just this past Monday, during our home inspection, our adoption counselor sat at our kitchen table and asked our kids questions about adoption and how they felt about becoming big siblings. Over banana bread and coffee, she talked to us about match meetings and profile books - and it was somewhere between her describing us sitting down with a birth mom and our kids showing her the books they’ve been reading about adoption - that I got really emotional and my heart burst into a million pieces. We’re doing this. God is providing and we’re almost there. For the past eight months, we’ve filled out paperwork and taken classes and subjected ourselves to fingerprinting. We baby-proofed our house and made fire escape plans and bought unnecessary safety contraptions.

So today, as our profile book is underway, the reality is setting in: It’s so very possible that by sometime next year - even early next year - a new family member could be occupying the little nursery next door to our bedroom. And I can’t wait to meet him or her. (I also know that our joy will be at the expense of another mama’s and dada’s pain and heartache. And our hearts will contain as much empathy as we can muster. What a rollercoaster of gut-wrenching unknowns this process is. There’s so much hope. And no guarantee, in the end.)

All that being said, we want to run the last leg of this race - with you. We want to have a BOATLOAD of fun and race the precious baby God has in mind for our family . . . straight home.

So here’s the deal: We need 120 people to commit to raising $100 each in order for us to sprint across the finish line and have everything financially in place for this adoption. It’s easier than it may sound. $100 is a lot of money - so take the pressure off and please invite your co-workers, neighbors and knitting group to help you. (If you can get 10 people to generously contribute $10 - you’re there, folks!)

If you’re IN to be one of the 120, here’s all you have to do:

  1. Register for FREE-ninety-nine here.

  2. Mark your calendar for Saturday, October 20 @ 10am CST. (That’s when we’ll all start the race - no matter where you live or where you run!)

  3. Raise your $100. (You have exactly five weeks to share this crazy idea with your running groups, cooking clubs, mother-in-law . . . whomever!)

On race day, we’ll all use #theEiland5k to see who’s at the starting line and running with us. And we’re planning something special for baby that includes the names of all those who will have contributed to our adoption along the way. So, even if we don’t know you, know this:

We love you and thank you for loving our family in this process. For asking how it’s going and sending books to our kids and donating sacrificially and giving us blogs to read. For sending random texts and sharing your stories with us and praying over us and challenging us. We hope that this nation-wide effort will serve as a reminder to all that there is power in what we do together. There is strength in solidarity. And that one life, whether it’s this baby’s or your own, is totally and completely worth it.

Can’t wait to meet you, little one. Can’t wait to have you home.

Love, Mama

Ashlee Eiland