Tuesday, November 8, 2011

"What's up with your adoption, anyway?"

"Are you still thinking about doing that?"

Yes, I've been asked that a lot lately.  I know, I haven't kept anyone updated... and, well... we are just...slow.  I don't like doing it this way, but this is the way we are doing it.  I'm not sure why and I don't know how to change it.

So here's where we are:
  • We are pulling together our dossier documents.  So far, so good.
  • We have our immigration approval--YAY!
  • Just talked to a psychologist today about doing our evaluation.  I think we are going to really enjoy working with him, despite the fact that we aren't really looking forward to a psychological evaluation (complete with personality testing).
  • We are waiting for our (federal, if you know what I mean) criminal background checks to come back.
  • And that's about all.

One of the ladies (who deals with the waiting kids listings) at our agency told me that she expects that we will get a referral rather quickly (after sending our completed dossier) since we are open to special needs and open to three siblings rather than just two.  While that's all well and good, I'm trying to not listen to her.  I remember when we were expecting our first DS.  The midwives came up with a date of December 20th.  The sonographer said, "He's so big, we estimate the correct date to be December 9th."  Silly me, it was my first and I believed them.  Well, the 9th came and went, the 20th came and went... Christmas came and went.  He came in his own good time, and just to make a point, he waited till the next year... January 1st.  So I'm trying to keep that in mind when it comes to this referral thing.  Just gonna keep busy getting things ready and going on with our daily stuff.

For those of you who were wondering... those girls that I had talked about in previous posts were placed with their family.  I was/am very happy for them but it took me a while to process the whole situation.  I was so sure that we were called for them.  I had a difficult time working out how that was.  I finally came up with the fact that I let my heart get ahead of me and surely ahead of what God's plan and timing are.  Go figure, who knew I could be wrong?  ;)

Anyway, that's about it for now on the adoption front.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

It Warms My Heart

So there's this post that's been brewing in my brain for quite some time now. I've really been avoiding writing it and I'm going to avoid it one more day but there's something that just warmed my heart this evening that I have to share.

My oldest son is currently 9 years old. I think by the time he was two, he was more mature than most 35 year old men. He is just like his father in that way. Yes, sometimes he will do some stupid kid thing but for the most part, he doesn't have much patience for the foolishness of youth. He's just very middle-aged for nine.

Anyway, he always has had a heart for God and a heart for caring for others. This evening, after mid-week Bible study had ended and we were all milling about fellowshipping, I was talking with a friend of mine. As we talked, I searched the room to make sure that I knew where all my kids were and what they were up to. I saw the two younger boys playing with friends in the back of the room but my oldest wasn't with them. My eyes swept the room and landed on a tight circle of people (adults) sitting in chairs at the front of the room, obviously in prayer. There he was, with fingers folded, head bowed, eyes closed... among four adults, praying. It quite literally made my breath catch.

My son, praying.
Not during services.
Not during class.
Not before a meal.
Not at bedtime.
Not at any of the times that you are 'expected' to pray.
My son, looking very grown up.

Later, he came to me to tell me that someone had given him leftover candy to make sure it was ok for him to have it (also very unusual for a nine year old). I very non-chalantly asked him what was going on in the meeting up front a few minutes ago. He looked at me as if I was dense and said, "We were praying, mom."
I responded with, "Well, yeah. I figured that much out. What were you praying about?"
"Oh. We just wanted to pray over H---, since he's leaving this week for a mission trip."
"Oh. Ok." It was the best I could come up with. For a second time, by breath caught.

Now, don't for an insant think that I think my son is some kind of spiritual prodigy. I'm sure that he was not the one to come up with the idea. I'm sure he was invited to join the prayer. But what warms my heart is that he joined. That he didn't just say no thanks and go off to play with his brothers. He saw this as a worthwhile way to spend the next few minutes. He understood that all things should be brought before God in prayer. To him, bringing H--'s mission trip before the Lord was so appropriate that it was almost passe. His attitude of prayer being an element of life rather than a routine ritual to be performed at appropriate times and events was very clear in his response to me.

How many kids get that?

How many adults get that?

The other thing that warmed my heart later, when I really stopped to think about it, was what happened amongst the adults there. Surely, one of them said something along the lines of, "Let's have a prayer for H-- and the work that he's about to go do." But just as surely, they paused to invite my son to join them. Was he there having a conversation with them? Was he just passing by? I don't know. I do know how much I appreciate that they saw an opportunity to disciple a young boy, my son, and they took it. They invested themselves in helping me raise my son into a godly young man. I am truly, truly thankful for that effort and all the times that someone has taken other opportunities to do the same that I haven't seen. I am thankful for these people that are in our lives who make this parenting road just a little easier to walk down, the ones who take my hand and walk with us, the ones who pass out the water on the way, and the ones who actually paved the road so that it would be smooth.

I also am thankful that we evidently have lived transparently enough for those people to realize what our goal for our children is and how very important that goal is to us.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Please Pray our Children Home

So this post is partly an update on what's going on with our adoption for those of you who have been following along and partly a post to participate in praying for those out there who are in the middle of the process as we are. I'm linking up with Linny over at A Place Called Simplicity to take part in a day of prayer. Please consider hopping over there and reading about other families who tell their stories and praying for them as well.

We are close to finishing up our homestudy. As you may remember our agency was kind enough to rearrange the order of things so that we could get DH's interviews done before he left. Well, we got all the interviews done with the exception of my alone interview and we were waiting for the rest of the stuff to get caught up to that point. We just received our clearances back (clear) so now our application will be officially accepted and I have scheduled my last interview for the 29th. Yay!

After that we will be officially approved for our country and have the complete homestudy done. Again: Yay! But there's been some other stuff brewing that I'd really like prayers for. As you may or may not know, I've had a particular sibling group of 5 be very heavy on my heart for about 1 1/2 years now. For some reason, I feel really connected to this group. My wonderful DH, however, does not. And lest you think I hold that against him, I completely see where he is coming from. If we were to adopt them, we'd have 8 kids between the ages of 4-9. He is the one responsible for paying the bills and having money to put food on the table. He is responsible for this family, no matter how large it is. Sometimes, I think it's much easier for me since I don't really think about that stuff. Anyway, we've been following them and they still have not been placed.

The short version is that we reached out to an organization that brings orphaned kids to the US to stay with host families for 5 weeks during the summer. The host family is responsible for showing them the love of a family during that time as well as introducing them to as many people as possible in hopes that something clicks and they find their forever family. We are praying that this organization will work it out that we can host these particular kids for the summer. We are fully committed to finding them their family and hopefully the experience will clarify whether or not that is us. This is the best meet-in-the-middle arrangement that we can come up with. DH gets the reassurance that he needs about providing for family while I get to help these kids that are so very heavy on my heart. However, that is not how this organization works normally. We have yet to hear back from them. Please pray with us that God works this all out for us to have these kids for the summer. We need the hearts of those in this organization as well as the SW's and counselors at the orphanage as well as approval of the government in their country to all come together on this for it to happen.

The other issue that we are having is pressure from our families. Both my mom and my DH's parents are really at odds with our decision. Please pray that they can find peace over this and not be such an obstacle for our adoption as they currently are.

Also (and I think this is common with most adoptive families), we are concerned about finances. God has provided for us every time we have been in a crunch spot so far. I am confident that He will continue to provide, but please pray for that as well. We don't have the money we need to complete this adoption... or even the next step. Please pray that the funds will be there when we need them.

Thank you all for praying for us as we go through this process. We so very much appreciate your prayers. Please consider praying for the others on Linny's blog as well.

Thank you, Linny, for doing this. Thank you for caring about the fatherless so much that it encourages and inspires all of us to fight for the little ones. Thank your for being so open and honest about your life so that we feel we can know you and be strengthened to follow our hearts.

Monday, March 7, 2011

MBM-Our Homestudy

I've been meaning to share this one for a while now; I guess time has a way of getting away from me. I remember back between Thanksgiving and Christmas, DH and I were having a discussion about gifting. There were several things that I had been wanting for a while and I had thought about asking for them for Christmas. My love does his very best to provide for all my desires, but the problem is: I have a lot of desires. And they aren't the cute, romantic, inexpensive desires either. I'd like and ipod touch or a new sofa set for the family room, amongst other things. As you may or may not know, we've being doing Fin*ncial Pe*ce University for almost two years now. We had made some really poor decisions earlier in our marriage. Really bad decisions, really bad habits, really undisciplined behaviors. We are still paying (and praying) to right those decisions. It's really quite embarassing. But I share this so that others who might be where we were two years ago will know that there's hope. There is a way.

Anyway, back to the story. I knew that there wasn't a whole lot of money for Christmas and that I'd rather spend it on the kids. We found some great stuff on craigslist for them and I was very excited. I was trying to come up with some ideas to put on my list that were much more reasonable, pricewise, than an ipod touch. I wasn't having any luck until I realized that what I really, really wanted wasn't something tangible. We'd been fooling around with that paperwork for our stinkin homestudy for 6 months or more... I just wanted it done. I just wanted to move on to the next step. I looked at my love and said, "All I want for Christmas is to get this paperwork done and sent in."

Well, it didn't happen. It was already January. I knew that he was leaving on Feb. 23 for his depl*yment. I knew that we were running out of time. I did NOT want to WAIT untill JUNE for this homestudy. Yet, I knew that he had to be here for the interviews. I brought it up with him. He was very hesitant. He looked at me and said, "We don't have the money to pay for it. I don't think we can get it done before I leave. We just don't have the money." You see, it costs $44oo to get the homestudy done. You have to pay that prior to your first interview. I love our agency, but they don't mess around. I knew that they do not make allowances in procedures or payments. They mean business. Bummer. So if we submitted paperwork and they sent the clearances off, we could run into trouble. The clearances expire after 90 days. You have to COMPLETE the homestudy in those 90 days. He was going to be gone for 84. So I said, "What about the tax return. That's enough to pay for it, right?" "Yes but they don't have all the updates done and they won't be ready for us to file until the 14th of Febuary. Then we have to wait to get paid. Then we have to pay the agency. Then we have to do all the interviews. I just don't see any way to make this happen. Call and talk about the timing situation with T** and see if it can happen with the short timing. See what she says." He was leaving on the 23rd. You do the math.




But you know that I serve a God who is bigger than the IRS, right?

I serve a God who wants to see all the orphans in loving homes.

I serve a God who hears me when I call.

So what did I do?

I prayed.

and prayed...

and prayed...

And then I called and discussed it with T** and she said that she would look into things and see if we could get it done. She told me to mail the packet and she wouldn't send off for the clearances until we knew what we could do. Typically, they want the clearances to come back before they do the interviews.

I knew there was a way. I knew it had to happen. I just knew.

So, on Feb 7th, I marched myself down the hall and booted up the family computer... the one that the taxes are on. I said a prayer while I waited for the logon to come up. I searched and found the tax software and opened it up. Do you know what it said to me? It said, "There are updates available for this program." I clicked on that link and updated it. Then I called my DH and said, "Come file these taxes!"

So, then. What happens next. We're two weeks away from his leaving. We still don't actually have the money. What to do? What to do? Well, I didn't DO anything. I went to bed praying and waited to see what was going to happen. I got up the next morning and nothing had happened. I couldn't wait anymore, I was too excited. We were too close. I didn't want to miss our shot. I called DH at work and said, "So... ummm.... what are we doin' about this homestudy." "Send the paperwork in. See what T** says. We may not have the time. I still don't know what we're gonna do about the money."

I got the boys ready in record time and we were




to the post office.

Paperwork in the mail.

Now what?

But of course!

Pray some more...

The next day I get this email from T** at our agency... you know, the one that follows the regulations, doesn't make allowances, and expects to be paid when they tell you to pay them. Here's the email:

I spoke to our social workers and provided that your schedule is flexible in the next two weeks, we will be able to expedite your process so that we can complete your home study visits before [DH] is depl*yed. We will be rearranging some of the steps to do this, so your actual approval will still be pending the return of all your clearance forms. You will also need to pay your Adoption Study fee ($4400) at this time. The fee is usually due before you can begin the home study, but in this case we will make an exception and you can just pay for it before your visits are completed. J** H**, our social worker will contact you as soon as possible to schedule your visits.

How do you like them apples?

Not only are they going to be able to squeeze us in the interview schedule but they are overlooking the fact that we haven't even sent out for the clearances yet, let alone got them back.

Get this, though:

I never asked her about the money. I never said anything about not making the payment until the taxes came back. Is that how the real world works? Nah. I fully expected to read on: "You will need to pay your adoption study fee at this time. We cannot schedule the interviews until we receive that payment." The postponed the payment due date with me ever even asking.

Only God.

only. God.

So, that's the story of how we got it all in.

Have faith and talk to your Father.

He knows all about our troubles.

Thanks for hanging in to the end. Please keep my DH safety in your prayers as well as patience for me. I have a difficult time without him. Also, there is something MAJOR going on with our adoption plans right now. Please, please pray that God softens the hearts of those who are about to make decisions in a particular organization, and the C*l*mbian government. Please pray that those decisions are what we have asked for. Please pray that this works out the way we hope.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Daily Bible Reading

So, I saw this video a while back on FB or somewhere... it's truly amazing. This 9yo boy can grasp the Bible better than most adults. And he's read the whole thing... the.ENTIRE.Bible. It blew me away when I first saw it. He's read the whole thing in a year. At nine years old. Inspiring.


It's just really impressive.

Anyway, I opened the most recent copy of The Christian Chronicle today... the one that has been waiting for me to read it for weeks now and there he was. I hadn't realized he attended a church of Christ. hmm. cool. Anyway, I read the article, which was mostly about him. It went on to speak of other churches that were encouraging their members to do daily Bible readings. There was a section in there about a pastor from Texas who did a video stream live of him reading the entire Bible. It was a marathon. Volunteers showed up to help him for short breaks to eat and take a catnap, but he (and some helpers) read the whole Bible in one sitting. It took suprisingly less time than I would've thought. A mere 75 hours and 37 minutes...

Let's think about this for a minute. If we were to read at the same rate as what he did, it would take 12 minutes a day to read the whole Bible in a year. TWELVE MINUTES. Just stop and ponder that. That is less than 1% of the minutes that you have in a day. Somehow, we make it out to be this huge thing, this enormous committment. That's less time than most people spend on FB. That's less time than most people spend drinking their coffee. For cryin out loud, some people spend more time in the bathroom than that! And think of this: if you would commit to reading the Bible for just 30 minutes a day, you could read it twice in a year. I realize that we also spend time in prayer and time in Bible Study, which is different than a daily Bible reading. But still, don't you think that God deserves at least, at the very least, 1% of your time. Imagine what you could learn from that.

Doing a little bit of math just created an epiphany for me. That completely changes the way I look at it. And let's face it, if a 9yo can do it, then I really have NO EXCUSE. right?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Just a quick update...

First of all, I'd like to say thanks to all those who've been praying for us during this whole process. I wanted to let you know that our prayers were answered and God moved on our behalf. I'll write more about it later.
Praise God! We were able to get the interviews for our homestudy finished (at least the ones we needed DH for) before he left to go play in the sandbox with the other good ole boys over there. So our homestudy should be approved within a few weeks and completed a few weeks after that. At which point we would be able then to officially request files on waiting children. At the same time, we will be working on our dossier paperwork. I'm not sure how much is going to get done with DH gone... I'm not sure how much needs his signature and such... we'll see. And to be completely honest, I'm not sure just how I'm gonna request files when you consider that I'd have to make the decision on my own. That could be fun, though! "Welcome home, honey. By the way, I signed for us to get some kids while you were gone. Pack up, we're leavin to get em."
Please continue to keep us in your prayers. Today, the first full day without him, was rough. Rough on the boys, rough on me. I'm tired, and emotional.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

One small step or one giant leap?

Yes, it is.

It is both a small step on this adoption journey and a giant leap for us. We just submitted the first volume of paperwork for our adoption. This is all the paperwork necessary for our homestudy. Now we are trying to get the interviews that DH is involved with lined up prior to his departure. I never imagined that it would take this long to get it done. I'm really kind of ashamed that it did, I mean, its just paperwork and there's no excuse for that. It's just one small step on this road, there's more paperwork and more larger, more difficult steps that we have to go through to get our kids home. But somehow, it seems soooo big to have turned it in. To have finished it. I think *and hope* that it's all correctly done and we won't have to redo any of it. I hope that we can get the interviews in before he leaves so we can tie up this part. I'd like to be working on the Dossier while he's over there... I have a lot of time while he's gone since I can't sleep. I plan on reading, doing home projects to be ready for more kids, and doing more paperwork of course.

If you have the time, please pray for us:
... that DH is safe in the sandbox
... that we are able to move quickly (or at least quicker) on this next step
... that the LORD provides the finances we need (this is weighing heavily on us right now)
... that our children feel safe, loved, and they hear God telling them that a family is coming
and most importantly
... that we hear God speaking and directing us, the sound of His voice drowns out everyone else and we obey.

Thank you all for following along, and thank you so much for your prayers.
We'll keep you posted.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Has it really been that long?

So, I'm kinda embarrassed to admit but I've had a lot of people in my life outside of bloggyland ask, "What's up with the adoption? I went to your blog, but there's nothing new there. Has anything happened lately?" And the answer would be... no. I'm ashamed to say that we are still in a sea of paperwork. I'd love to be moving faster. I'd love to have my kids by now. I could point to a lot of reasons why we aren't further along. There's some personality issues going on here... there's some differences in priorities here... whatever. The truth is they would all be excuses. We are just not getting through our paperwork nearly as quickly as I would like to be. That's it.

I'm hoping we can get our homestudy done before DH's next jaunt to the sandbox... I don't know. Sometimes I wonder if we'll ever make it. We are almost done with the first volume of paperwork, what we need for the homestudy. I think a lot of it stems from the fact that he's not as "into it" as what I am. I have an amazing and supportive husband. Adoption is something we've always talked about and knew we were going to do... someday. I just got to someday faster. And while he's on board, I think he has some hesitations. He's not sure that NOW is the someday. So I think I've kinda been dragging my feet waiting for him to catch up to me. I want him to want this as badly as I do. Let me clarify: he wants to adopt, he wants more kiddos. It's just that I'm chomping at the bit ready to go and he's just... not. He's ready but he could also wait a little longer, too. So maybe that's it.

I also think a lot of it is this business about those girls, the siblings that I've mentioned in the past. They have been weighing very heavy on my heart, very heavy. I don't know, really, what to make of it all. When I very first saw them pop up on the list of waiting children (no pictures, mind you, just info), I immediately felt drawn to them. I'm not sure why. Could it be that the oldest two share birthdays with my oldest two (one is two weeks off, one is the exact. same. day.)? Could it be that I feel for large sibling groups as I know they are more difficult to place? Could it be that I've wanted a little girl for so very long that five seems like a great idea? I don't know. But there you have it, they broke my heart. It totally engulfed me and that's how the maybe-someday-is-now conversation got opened up. Then, reality set in. We could not take five. That would make eight kids, a family of ten. TEN! We'd need a bigger car, we couldn't even all fit in the one we have. And we have a Suburban, for cryin out loud! How would we pay for an occasional dinner out as a family? How do you do vacations? Tickets to movies? Miniature golf? So there you have it: despite the incomparable pull on my heart, I rationalized that God put them there as a catalyst to get us moving on our adoption. Just. a. catalyst. right? OK, so then we decide to go ahead and get started, we research agencies, talk to folks and decide on a local agency that has an extensive list of waiting kids because that's what we're interested in. Not perfect kids, kids who need homes now. Kids who have been waiting. And what to my wondering eyes would appear... we had unknowingly chosen the very agency that has those girls on their list. Well, then, what do you do with that? So I began praying... praying for guidance, praying for a sign, praying for an answer, praying for them to find a family. I prayed that God would help their family find them and then I would know that we weren't that family. And in June, they showed up as matched on our agency's website and disappeared shortly thereafter.

Probably well enough anyway, as our agency has fairly strict guidelines about birth order and no artificial twinning and such. I consoled myself with the fact that it must be God's will and that our agency probably wouldn't have let us have them anyway. It was very bittersweet. I was sad that they weren't ours but happy that they had found a family. Except they hadn't. They then showed up on another agency's list. They weren't matched, their file just got moved. So I continued to pray. I prayed that if they weren't meant to be ours, that they would find their family soon. I flat out told God, if these kids are ours, YOU have to tell my husband. So that's what I've been praying for quite some time. I have vowed not to bring them up because if he brings it up, then I'll know it's from God. [If you're wondering, he does not read my blog so the secret is safe here. :) ] So that's what I've been praying since July when they popped back up. Limbo stinks. They have not been adopted, DH hasn't brought them up. However, there have been a lot of little things coming together that confirm to me that they are ours. If you would add this to your own prayer list, I would truly appreciate it. God hears the prayers of his people.

Anyway, I picked up this CD by Troy Allen Albers called Above the Rain while we were at family camp in October and there's this great song on it. It's called "Secret Admirer." I'd like to share the lyrics with you. It's been stuck in my head for quite some time.

The sun is shining brightly and that's why they've come to play.
To take advantage of the park on a warm and sunny day.
And among the slides and the swings and the sand and the things the wind blows through her hair,
And she looks at him and smiles and thinks she's kinda glad he's there.

And her secret admirer is watching her again
As she's dancing with her children, they get dizzy as they spin.
He's watching her and wondering, "How could anyone give so much?"
He marvels at her strength and the gentleness of her touch.

And her children's laughter sings to him as they happily share her life.
And he falls head-over-heels in love, again, as he watches his sweet wife.

"Daddy, Daddy, come and we'll build castles in the sand."
She never thought she'd see the day he'd completely understand
That among the slides and the swings and the sand and the things you'll find true happiness.
And the joy that a happy family brings is something no one should miss.

And his secret admirer is watching him again
As he twirls around his children, they get dizzy as they spin.
She's watching him and wondering, "How could anyone give so much?"
She marvels at his strength, and the gentleness of his touch.

And their children's laughter sings to her as they happily live their lives.
And his secret admirer, is so glad to be his wife.
You see, when I first heard the song, it immediately spoke to my relationship with my DH. I love him so much. Like they always say, "If I had it to do all over again, I wouldn't change a thing." I am his secret admirer. Even 10 years later, I'm still head over heels in love with him. I marvel at what a wonderful husband and father he is and how much he gives our family. I was a little bummed about the line, "she never thought she'd see the day he'd completely understand" about a happy family. I was bummed because that's not my husband. He's always been a family man and that has always been a priority for him.

But you know how sometimes you get a song stuck in your head and it's not even the whole song? It's just the same snippet over and over again? I had that going on today. It was that part about building castles in the sand and she never thought she'd see the day he'd understand about happiness. To be honest, I had reconciled a while ago that the lyrics are what they are b/c the songwriter wanted them that way. He didn't know us and he didn't write the song for us. So it was just playing over and over in my head. Also, I had been over to Linny's blog and seen that I had missed a day of prayer yesterday and wanted to post on the prayer list about my above heart thoughts. I was mulling over just what and how much to say. So I've got all that going on in my brain while this short part of the song is swirling. It was very difficult to think, I felt like Winnie the Pooh. I must have been dense to the message because the repeat of the song shrunk down to "the joy that a happy family brings is something no one should miss." Over and over again it played in my head until I stopped to listen to it. Then it hit me. The lyrics are the way they're supposed to be. Those girls are missing the joy that a happy family brings... they are missing it and right now, he has yet to "completely understand."