Prodigal: It is so nice here.
Me: The perfect place with no one around.
Prodigal: Let us just enjoy ourselves for the moment.
This is from the book Chicken Soup for the Soul: Angels and Miracles by Amy Newmark
We were crazy to think we could pull it off again. We had adopted our first child from Romania a few years before, but now the doors were closed. The U.S. State Department warned us not to try, saying they would deny our child’s visa. Without that we couldn’t bring a child home.
Even though our Romanian lawyer identified a child for us, we felt conflicted over what to do. We desperately wanted this beautiful child, but we wondered if we could pull it off when government officials were telling us to stay home. We were tormented by thoughts of her crying in the orphanage without anyone to hold her and love her. We thought about her not having food, clothes, or toys. We remembered what we had seen when we adopted our first child. We already felt like this new little girl, Andrea, was ours, and we had to rescue her.
I began praying to God to send an angel to safeguard Andrea until we could get her out of the deplorable orphanage. Our Romanian attorney sent us a photograph of her lying in a chipped white metal crib; I kissed it every time I walked by the refrigerator where it was displayed. Looking at this picture and constantly thinking about her made us determined to get her. With heavy hearts we packed our bags and flew halfway around the world to try to bring Andrea home.
The first time I saw her I ached. I could see the fear in her tiny emaciated face as she silently and helplessly in the attorney’s office. At ten months, she only weighed ten pounds! The effects of orphanage life were apparent and I couldn’t wait to get her home and introduce her to Juliana, her sister.
Miraculously, when we first saw her, she was clutching a little stuffed dog with spots, the exact one that Juliana had insisted we send to her little sister “Annie” months before we ever knew about this new little girl, Andrea. Somehow, Juliana’s gift for her wished-for sister had made it to the exact baby we hoped to bring home.
The moment our attorney gave us the necessary documents, we hurried to the U.S. Embassy to apply for Andrea’s visa. Behind the counter of the consular section was a pleasant looking man who smiled when we approached him. I prayed again, asking God for a miracle at the Embassy.
The memories of Juliana’s adoption haunted me. In 1991, dozens of prospective adoptive parents had their children’s visas denied for minor technicalities. Everything hinged on this appointment. If Andrea’s visa was denied, we couldn’t bring her home and that would break my heart.
I nervously shuffled through the documents. I managed a weak smile. “Everything’s in order, ” I began. “We have met all of the requirements,” I said, nodding more to convince myself than him.
He examined each form and glanced at Andrea held tightly in my arms. “I don’t see the agency paperwork. Where is that?”
I swallowed hard. “We didn’t use an agency.”
“Oh,” he said, looking grim. “No agency?”
“No,” we both said quietly.
“Now that’s interesting.” he murmured.
I reached across the counter and fanned the documents before him. “The law requires each of these certificates, which we have provided.”
He shook his head, “Yes, you have.” He fingered through them, methodically and nodded. He marked each one with an official purple stamp, and sealed them in a large brown envelope. “Here you go,” he said. “Have a safe journey home.”
Pat nervously took the package from him. “Thank you, Mr. Smith.”
He nodded politely, accepted our thanks and watched us leave.
Pat and I held hands as we exited through the security gate past the U.S. Marine who faithfully manned his post. When we stepped outside, the bright sunshine warmed us. “That was too easy,” I whispered.
Pat’s forehead wrinkled as he squinted in thought. “I agree.” Pat examined the envelope. “I know I’m not dreaming because I’m holding it.” He leaned into me and kissed me. “Let’s go home.”
“Yes,” I said holding Andrea a little tighter. I missed Juliana terribly and couldn’t wait to introduce her to her new sister. We headed for the Swiss Air office and got seats on the next available flight.
“Let’s go back and thank him again on our way home tomorrow,” I urged. “We’ll be near the Embassy. It’s on our way.”
Patrick nodded. “Okay. Mr. Smith made it incredibly easy for us. We really should tell him how much we appreciated his kindness.”
I pointed to his signature on the packet reading his name, “Mr. John Smith.”
The following day we entered the Embassy with our plane tickets in hand. A woman behind the counter greeted us. “May I help you?” she asked.
“Yes, we would like to see Mr. John Smith,” I said smiling.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” she began, “he’s been on vacation all month and isn’t scheduled to return until next week.”
My smile faded. “He wasn’t here yesterday?”
“No,” she said. “I’m afraid not.”
“You’re sure. He wasn’t here yesterday?”
She cinched her lips tightly. “I’m sorry.” She checked a log, scanning the pages with her fingers. “No,” she muttered. “Everyone who enters the Embassy is required to sign in. You can check for yourself if you’d like.”
I scanned it and couldn’t see anything that resembled the signature I had on Andrea’s visa.
“You can leave a message for him. I’ll make sure he gets it when he returns.”
“No,” I said. I bit my lip as my mind raced. “Thank you anyway.”
Patrick and I walked to the end of the street. “What just happened in there?”
“I don’t know.” He sighed deeply. “If I didn’t know better I’d say I was dreaming, or just stepped into the twilight zone.” Pat rubbed his temples. “It took forever to get Juliana’s visa.”
“There really isn’t an explanation, unless….”
“I think we met an angel.” I mumbled.
–Barbara S. Canale
But as it is written, To whom he has not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand.
Jennifer Van Allen