Oceans Between Us…

 

Oceans Between Us – Jenni Cockerham *

Almost exactly 2 years ago to the day I penned these words*. It is a mini memoir that was written mostly for me. But it was written with others in mind…those who have had hard histories…who were struggling or disillusioned with life…or God. I think I have spent the past few years spiritually disoriented…after having spent the past few decades so very clear.

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Desperate Days and a Divine Collision

I don’t know a stronger word for desperate…so we will go with it…I was desperate. I had spent the past 2.5 months away from my husband…raising 5 children on my own. Feeding, bathing, homeschooling, and hand-washing all the clothes. All.the.clothes. I watched adoptive families come and go. Their stories were never simple, but in one to two months after their arrival, I found myself waving to yet another van full of smiling faces. Driving rapidly toward the airport leaving the country and us wondering when it would be our turn? We were given a 3 year ruling…meaning the children were “ours” legally via guardianship, but they could not be adopted in Uganda until 3 years had passed. We were promised by our lawyers that our case would be overturned by the appellate court. We were told we would have a court date by the first of the year (January 2014)…and it was early February…we had heard nothing. 

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Healing Doesn’t Work…

Confession: I’ve stopped trying to heal.

I came home from Uganda in April…shell-shocked and in survival mode. We let down our defenses and I immediately got to work…doing my best big girl job to heal. I did all the right things…went to my counselor within less than 24 hours of arriving on US soil. We took a month at the beach to adjust to the western culture and to quietly unlock the grief box. And I did pretty well. I grew angry and shook my fist at God, I doubted and questioned, and then grew sad–unashamedly sad, and the stages of grief rapidly unfolded in textbook fashion.

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It Has Been 64 Days Since I Left Uganda…

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..Somehow it feels as if only a few short weeks have passed since we left the land with the red dirt and a slice of my heart.

I try to take time to live a bit of life before I publically scribble my thoughts in cyberspace. I realized I hadn’t shared for a few weeks about my current status and specifically about my okay-ness with God; whom I hold both responsible for giving me life and giving me the privilege of knowing the little lives we left in Uganda. He and I have had words over how it all went down; but my words are filled with less venom in recent days. Our current status (His and mine)–is at times dicey, but the projection for long term okay-ness is quite good.

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The 30 Second Version

 

30 second

This is written for all those who don’t know…but care.

I know you care because you asked. And I wanted to figure out how to give you the 30 second version while we were washing our hands in the bathroom at church, or in the checkout line at Target, or while we were pumping gas before you scurried off to work…but I couldn’t do it.

I also realized when I tried to formulate the words for the 30 second version, I was much better at writing than delivering a verbal summary of an 18-month epic adventure. So I don’t blame you for not knowing, I just appreciate you taking the time to come here and not expecting me to fumble through something I am clearly still fumbling through.

Cause I really am better. I am not in my shaking mad phase any more. I am not doubting God’s goodness as much. I am not choosing a bitter agnostic outlook on life.  I am ready to go to church and the grocery store and the gas station…so that’s an improvement. I am out of the sweatpants phase, certainly that points to growth?! But I am not quite in the place where I can fully give you the 30 second version without making you feel slightly uncomfortable.

So if you don’t know–and Lord knows I don’t expect folks to wait on baited breath for the latest installment of the crazy Cockerham adventures–please know I humbly understand. Let’s just think of this as grabbing a quick cup of coffee together. Remembering our other option was for me to look at the floor and then up at you awkwardly wishing you hadn’t asked where our adopted children are–or when we were going back to Africa to get our kiddos–or how’s life going now with 5 kids–or any other sincerely kind questions you simply didn’t know the answer to. It is less awkward and fumbly for us to catch up here. I will leave without a pit in my stomach and tears in my eyes…and you will have the scoop. We are all better in the end.

Not sure what you knew or where we left off so here goes:

October 2013 we went to Uganda to adopt 2 kiddos.

November 2013 we were granted legal guardianship of those 2 precious kiddos, but told we must stay in Uganda for 3 years…so I stayed with all 5 children and Chris went back to North Carolina.

March 2014 We were hopeful to appeal our court case–but also were growing fatigued from the wait so Chris decided to join our family adventures in Uganda taking a leave of absence.

May 2014 We realized it could be a long wait and possibly not receive an appeal, so Chris resigned his job at Hope Holly Springs and Chris accepted a position at Restoration Gateway to serve on their team.

Late June 2014 We moved to Restoration Gateway.

July 2014 It was discovered/confirmed that Jonathan and Caroline were NOT true double orphans and had living parents.

July 2014 Jonathan and Caroline were returned to their families.

July 2014-March 2014 The Cockerham Family stayed in Northern Uganda serving at Restoration Gateway.

Insert Jim Gaffigan’s high pitched squeaky disapproving voice:  Wow, sad story. But that wasn’t so bad? Hasn’t she been away from the kids for almost a year now? Does she think she can do better than their own flesh and blood? What’s her problem? Isn’t it great news for her kids to be reunited with their families? 

Yes, but what takes longer than 30 seconds is that there are little people I love in Uganda who are hurting. Reliable sources say at least one of the two is suffering even. I don’t know the full extent but I know life is far from happily ever after. This is not spoken by a bitter woman wishing for a diverse stair-step family photo, nor disappointed she won’t be able to color coordinate five kids’ outfits for church. I am not a western mom who believes she can provide more, etc. It is an unjust ending for a child whose physical, emotional, and mental needs are not being met. It is innately mommy to want your child to avoid pain. Therefore, it is a debilitating place to know your hands are tied and it is the “right thing to do;” because he should never have been trafficked by his family in the first place. But the sting still stings and the grief is still close and it is still too soon to deliver the 30 second version. And so for that reason…we are here grabbing coffee and I am grateful. Feel free to sit down to coffee again soon…we may talk about this or other messy life matters…but in my heart this is the safest place for me to share my story with you.

So…just…thanks.

Humbly,

Jenni