Thursday, November 4, 2010

At long update!

Happy November! At the urging of my friend Kim (or 'the voice of my blog'....ha!), I am going to attempt to do a much better job updating things. It has indeed been far too long.

It seems unbelievable, but it has been a little over a year since we started this journey. We began our first phone calls last September, and we finished our home study last October. Time has flown by, and I am still a little baffled by the fact that Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner. People tell you this happens as you get older, but you really don't believe them...until you are older and it happens.

So what's new? Well, our dossier is technically complete! All we are waiting on is the final approval of our fingerprints which should have arrived at the good ol' government office at the end of last week. If you are unaccustomed to adoption-speak, you may now be wondering what the heck a dossier is. By simple definition, "a dossier is a compilation of paper work said to demonstrate some elements of your 'fitness' to adopt." It consists of items such as photos, medical forms, background checks, psychological evaluations, etc. Everything short of your DNA. They want it all! And we are nearly ready to send ours to the powers-that-be.

As soon as they give us the green light on the fingerprints, our caseworker can send EVERYTHING off!!!! Oh happy day!!! From the time the dossier is sent until the time we are approved by an orphanage in Colombia, the wait should be approximately 60 days. This includes time for translation, acceptance by their government, etc. After that, the wait for a phone call begins!

One exciting thing about this is that we will soon know the city where we will be traveling. We can begin researching, looking into places we can stay while we are there, etc. This will certainly make the entire experience seem more real--especially for the kids. Oh, and if anyone knows a really great Spanish tutor please send them our way!!

Several people have asked if we already have a specific child we are seeking to adopt. The answer is no. Once we are (hopefully) accepted by one of three private orphanges there, we will be 'matched' with a child. Other than the 60 days, we do not really have a concrete time frame for the wait but we are praying it will be sooner rather than later. However, I am confident and am continually reminded that everything will be in God's timing. After all, He knows exactly where our little girl is and when she will be with us. That knowledge has been a great comfort.

More to come soon, but for now that is all I can think of at 4am. Thanks for continuing to keep up with us!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Warning: Random Thoughts Ahead!

I just celebrated my 33rd birthday. It was a wonderful, relaxing day and I am overwhelmingly blessed with friends and family who made that day (and the 2 days before!) very special. However, I had what can be called a breakdown moment on my birthday. You see, I never freaked out about turning 30. I felt the same, I was happy with life--what's the big deal? The next 2 consecutive years were the same. The numbers don't really phase me (yet)....except when someone asks how old I am and I actually have to pause and think a minute. Enter 33.

Fifteen years ago my older brother passed away suddenly and tragically. He was 33. I was 18. For whatever reason, this hit me very hard on the day my 33rd year arrived. My brothers were a good bit older when I came along--17, 15, and 6 respectively. I was the only girl. And regardless of their behavior in my formative years, I truly did revere them as "my big brothers." In my mind (especially with the 2 oldest), I am pretty sure I assumed they were older, wiser, and had lived a really, really long time.

I stand corrected now as an adult. 33 is not long enough. It is also not necessarily "older and wiser." At the time he was gone, he was just getting started. This also means that his wife was only 28. His children were near the same age as my own. It hit me with such gravity and made me realize so many things that I just did not know or understand at that time. So as I cried/had a breakdown/ my vehicle on the way to my lovely birthday party that my dear friends planned, I came to several conclusions. Just humor me. It's still my birthday week.

No matter how many years you get, life is short. I want to make the most of it. But more than that, I want to know that I fulfilled the purpose that God had for me to do. Right now I feel like I am still not quite sure what that is. I jokingly (well, sort of) said to my friend Tiffany that Jesus was only 33 and He had already completed the entire plan of God for all time. If you know Tiffany, you can imagine the look I was given. And then we laughed. She was right. Son of God and all. I know. I was being dramatic. Neverthless, it's something to ponder. What in the world am I doing with the time I have been given?

Well, as my wise mom said to me--not everyone has one BIG "purpose" or event to carry out. Sometimes, God wants us to surrender to Him in everything that we do each day. Therefore, being a mom is my purpose. Being a wife and a daughter and a friend and....whatever else those things entail. Being obedient to the things I feel God is saying--even small ones. Sometimes, that's all. And that is enough. Do I want to travel the world and see and do amazing and fabulous things? Sure. But not now. Those are things I will have to put in the "maybe some day" category. And I am ok with that.

At least I have Colombia on my list! I know God has promised us that our daughter is waiting there for us. Until the day that we arrive there, it is my job to prepare. On the outside, I'm sure that looks like small potatoes. But here, in my heart and my day-to-day "stuff," it's a pretty big deal. So is doing my best to take care of my precious family. I guess making lunches and waiting in that car-rider line every afternoon has its value after all. Hopefully this year of being 33 will be a great one. I will certainly appreciate it. And I am grateful for those of you who will travel it with me.

Acknowledgements: the writer would like to thank the wonderful Karen Collins for allowing me to be a sobbing mess on my own birthday and for still reminding me I was not crazy. Lies, all lies..... :)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Work in Progress

So things are moving right along in our change to the Colombia program! Here is a quick example of how the wheels are turning.

Yesterday I:

  • was officially fingerprinted at the police station. (Sorry. I don't even have a fun story that leads up to that....)

  • wrote 2 money orders to the Treasury of the United States. Fancy.

  • sent the aforementioned fingerprints to the FBI.

  • reviewed our home study which our superhero social worker has already updated.

  • requested new reference letters from our ever-patient and loyal friends, co-worker, and brother.

  • bought my children travel pillows for....someday when they get on an airplane to go meet their sister.

The path may be winding, but we are making progress!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Survey Says?

I realize I have fallen off the proverbial blogging wagon. I am going to make an effort to remedy this, even if it is only for my own benefit. It will be quite an experience one day to look back on all of these entries and recall the chain of events.

Last week we were faced with some difficult decisions. If you have been following our journey, you know that we were placed in a pilot program to adopt from Honduras with the knowledge that things may or may not work according to plan. Obviously, things are going according to plan--just Someone Else's plan. We received an e-mail and then a phone call from our caseworker a few days ago. Current events in Honduras in addition to the feedback they have been getting have caused some concern over the way our adoption would proceed. In fact, our dossier has been there in country for over 2 months, and we have yet to hear anything back. After much prayer, discussion, and consideration--and at the urging of our caseworker--we are now being placed in the program to adopt from Colombia.

I know this sounds crazy. Obviously choosing a country for international adoption is...well...a big deal. In a typical situation, I am sure people do not just bounce from one to another. However, I can say this. Many people feel drawn to a particular country. We have never felt that calling. We do, however, feel very strongly that the child we are waiting for is of Hispanic heritage. We prayed before we even spoke to anyone from our agency that God would lead us in the right choices and guard our steps to the place where He has our child. We have seen in the past few days that Honduras is not where we are being led. We were give a lot of information and many different options. While the choice was ours, the decision was clear. That one door is closing, at least for us, and God is opening a new one.

Oddly enough (or maybe not when you acknowledge the way God works), I now feel such a spark of excitement at what lies ahead. Not that I was not excited before--please don't misunderstand. But there is something about this new direction that is just different. I feel like we now have a more complete picture of what this process will look like. And I feel at peace.

The day before we got the e-mail alerting us of possible changes, my friend Kelly received her referral. (This is the photo and info you get that says, "hey! we have a child for you!") I met Kelly through our caseworker as she realized we live in the same city. We e-mailed, had a few conversations over the phone, and then she took me downtown to get my many documents certified. She has been such a blessing to me and has been able to give me very sound advice along the way. And guess where Kelly's precious baby girl is? Yep. Colombia. She will travel there in August (or hopefully before!) to bring her sweet GloriaGrace home. How kind of God to place someone in my life who will go down the same path ahead of me. How merciful of Him to know I needed to not feel so alone. And how special it will be to one day let our children meet and celebrate the heritage they will share.

Please pray for us as we make this transition. It will involve some changes in paperwork, a few extra fees to the good ol' government (thankfully the fees we have paid so far to the agency will be transferred in full to the other program. whew!), and a little extra time. Pray for financial blessings to come. Pray for our preparation and that we will do things properly the first time. Pray for things to fall into place at just the right time. As for the timing, we do not feel out of sorts that we will be "behind" a few months in our wait. To us, this means that our child was just not quite ready yet. Maybe she hasn't been born. Maybe she is not at the right orphanage. Or maybe we are the ones who need this time. God knows. He has led us this far. And we are trusting Him to complete this good work in us.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bumps in the Road

{I began this blog on Tuesday with this 'working title.' Yesterday afternoon, I received an e-mail which said: "Be assured! I'll be praying for all of you. You've really hit a few bumps in the road lately. Remember who will make the road straight." Hmmm. Kept the title.}

All in all, things have been moving along around here. We finally received the last two items of paperwork for the dossier and were able to send them in. (Forget what you hear about Southerners being slow; getting something from New York is like trying to train a sleepy sloth.) Now we are waiting on their translation and approval. Our caseworker said it takes about two months from the time everything is submitted until we will be placed on a waiting list for our child. We still have some online training to complete, but other than that.....the wait has begun! And I am ok with that.

The past few weeks in our home have been trying to say the least. We have spent two nights in the ER with our daughter for two unrelated issues--once for abdominal pain, once for asthma. We have taken her for tests, given her medications, and watched helplessly while she was in pain and we could not fix it. We seemed to make progress in one area only to have another evil monster rear its ugly head. Asthma is not my friend, and I can now also add IBS to that list.

I have felt frustration with the things that have hurt my daughter. I have felt that "inadequate mother" sorrow as I looked at my son who had not been ill but had been very, very helpful and pleasant. I felt sad that he received less of my attention because of the simple fact that he stayed well. I am certain he did not notice or feel slighted; this knowledge only made me feel worse. On my way to the ER last night (a path I know by heart), I almost laughed to myself at the thought of having a third child and managing successfully. "Really, God? You think I can handle that?!" But I know He has put that child in our hearts. I know we are making our way to her, however quickly or slowly it may happen. I suppose there are times as parents when we all feel ill-equipped for the task or just plain weary. And I am sure this will not be the last time those feelings come!

However, there have also been good things in the midst of the trials. We were able to buy a new vehicle which was completely due to God's grace and provision. I, the self-proclaimed anti-mini-van girl, am now driving around happily in mine. Part of moving forward in this adoption process has been prioritizing. We could not have another child without another car in which to transport them all. From my experience, letting one of them ride in the trunk or on the roof is not a good option. So......ta da!

The kids LOOOOVE the van, and I admit to loving it, too. I will shamefully hang my head for a moment and say that it is the same type of van that my mom drives, but then I will sit in its comfy seat and load up the kids and all of their various......well, junk.....that travels with us and I am not so worried about my level of youth and appearances any more. It is an excellent way to travel. And as a bonus, the pathway through the middle creates a nice buffer zone for the kids which provides peace and harmony to all. Success!!

There have also been tiny moments during the past few weeks that were in reality great big blessings, or at least reminders to me that someone cares. Things that may seem trivial--a cup of tea and conversation, a dinner brought to your door, being treated to lunch, laughing with a friend over something ridiculous until her eyes water, receiving a text at 1am when you are sitting in a chair by an ER cot--they all add up to something comforting and non-tangible.

I know I shouldn't need those reminders. If I were a proper theologian, I should be able to know that if God cares for me then that is enough. But I think He often uses the people around us to let us know just that--He cares. He cares enough to send us friends to hold us up as we keep walking--to travel with us on good days or bad. We need that comfort when the road is not so smooth. We also need it so we can rejoice together on the days when the path is clear. There have been many moments over the past few week and months when I have felt very lost and small and alone. Those little things, for me, add up to much-needed realizations. I am so grateful to be traveling among good company. And now if they need it, I can give them a ride in my van. :)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


A few weeks ago while I was on my 2nd downtown document journey, I opted to use the GPS. I made a comment to a friend before I left that I hoped it would not misguide me. She replied that it could always recalculate. For some reason that word stuck with me on that morning--it seems that is the story of my life. "Recalculate." I mentioned this to my dear friend, who then said that is the story of all our lives. And many times we are so thankful or it. I went on my errand, but that thought stayed behind.

In the days that followed, this became so true and profound to me--this brief and humorous exchange between us. In my smallish circle of reference, life took unexpected turns. There was a lost job and the uncertainty that follows such news, there were children in the hospital or needing procedures and we took turns sitting together in waiting rooms. There were tears and doubts and questions and weariness. While those things did not necessarily end badly--there was a new job, children went home and got better (well, sort of), life went on--but that word kept coming back to me. "Recalculating."

Looking back, there are so many instances in my life where this has been the case. Many times I am grateful that God saw the need to redirect the path on which I was wandering. However, there are other times, moments, fleeting glances, where I have to stop and ask myself how I arrived at that particular place. In a literal example, during my downtown trip my errant GPS took me directly to the lovely area where the Crazy Horse Gentleman's Club is located. Yep. Had to turn around in their parking lot surrounded by the nice pink building lined with neon. Excellent. But often in a figurative sense, we ask ourselves which ridiculous map got us to this location in our lives. This detour was not on the itinerary we had for the day or the week or the year or at all. But we press on because there is no other choice but to relinquish our spirits in defeat, and we know that is not a viable option. So we adjust our expectations and our ability to meet them, and we go forward.

This morning I was reading the story of Zechariah and the birth of his son, John. For some unknown reason, I was again struck by the fact that our best-laid plans are often not what God has in mind. I doubt that good old Zechariah planned to be mute for 9 months, nor could he have foreseen the burdens his son, the locust-eating messenger, would bear to carry out his destiny. However, as he began to prophesy over this child he proclaimed, "And you, my little son, will be called the prophet of the Most High, because you will prepare the way for the Lord." (Luke 1:76.) Wow. We think we are under a lot of pressure. I began to think of my own children and the expectations that I have for their futures. Somehow, in the day to day muck and mire, I have forgotten that they have an eternal mission to fulfill--that I do, as well. Am I doing what I can to help them reach whatever potential they may have--that we may have as a family? Or am I just wading through and surviving, unaware of missed opportunities for all of us? Zechariah had to rethink things, and I am certain this altered his course. And we are asked to do the same.

Sometimes these recalculations are beyond our control. Sometimes that is very hard to endure. But then there are moments, like today, when I realize that purposefully redirecting my expectations, my focus, my daily "stuff".... might not be such a bad thing after all. And I am deeply grateful to know that if I come upon another detour, another waiting room, another day where things seem hazy, I will not be travelling alone. Perhaps with that knowledge, I can find my way.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Closer to the Finish Line

It's done! Well, mostly done. We sent the large stack of important and official documents known as our dossier to the agency on Thursday. We are waiting on two more documents, and once they arrive and have their fancy gold sticker (a.k.a. the apostille) we can send them on and this part of our journey will be complete! We do have to wait to be sure everything is correct and approved, but the tough part is finished. I can truly say it was a wonderful relief--after painstakingly going over my checklist about one hundred times--to package all of that paperwork up and send it off. While some may need another task to do while waiting, I can safely say that I won't miss this part! I will gladly choose another activity. Who knows, I may be able to unearth the top of my dining room table now. We'll see...

That has just been one good thing. Here's another: on February 4th, we had a fundraiser at the local Chick-fil-A called a Spirit Night. So many came to support us that the marketing guy asked what we did to get so many people there. We saw friends from church, school, and our community as well as people we did not even know handing in their flyers. To say we were blessed would be an understatement. Thank you again to all of you who came. Just your presence there meant so much to us! We cannot wait to tell our daughter one day just how many people have been expecting her arrival with us.

Our secret Chick-fil-A guest....

She really wanted a we made one!!!

The past few weeks have been very challenging in many ways, but I have also been reminded of God's mysterious and merciful ways. He sent a new friend to drive me on the downtown adventure called verification and authentication. (If you'd like to know, I'll explain it to you later...) He used an old friend who was working in the ER this weekend to help insert our daughter's IV and talk to us while we waited on test results. He has urged others to pray for us for various reasons which, in turn, has brought me more comfort and encouragement than I can convey. We are moving on to the next stage of our journey, but I feel secure knowing that we are not walking alone.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Whos You Meet on Yahoo

Sometimes even the beginning stages of this journey seem overwhelming. It takes small unexpected moments to refresh my perspective.

I was recently accepted into a yahoo group specifically for Honduran adoptions. As I read my "welcome" e-mail, I was so excited to read the posts and begin to connect....finally! some other families. We know several people who have amazing families because of adoption, but we know no one who has adopted from our chosen country. So, I happily logged on and began perusing the posts. Enter discouragement.

There are only a few new posts to the site, and many of the older ones were written by individuals who were obviously not pleased with their progress or situation. Last week, one lady had asked for basic information and said she and her husband were considering looking into Honduras. A few days ago someone responded and it went to my e-mail. The response advised the lady to look elsewhere (basically any other country would suffice), that it would be the longest and most difficult thing she would ever do, and that no matter what any agency tells you it will take 3 to 5 years to bring a child home. Hmm. Well. So much for my optimism!!!

I had to remind myself that we chose this program knowing it is a pilot program. This means it has not been done before and, therefore, our experience will probably be different from others who have adopted there in the past. Laws have changed, the government in Honduras is changing, and I have enough trust in our agency to know we will not be going into this without support. I also believe they have done their homework ~ I don't think we will be 'flying blind.' I also had to allow my friend Kim to remind me that for as many content and helpful people I might encounter in such an online group, there will also be those who "have an ax to grind."

Many deep breaths and a couple of days later, I was blessed to be reminded in a visible way of why we are doing this in the first place. Tonight I was getting Natalie settled down for bed. She will turn 9 in just a few weeks which seems unreal. Every now and then as a parent ~ for me, mostly when they are sleeping ~ you get a glimpse of your children and the way they looked when they were much smaller. I looked at her sweet face as she closed her eyes, and for a moment she so resembled herself as a toddler. My heart swelled up with that motherly mixture of love, pride and an odd mix of sadness and hope. Sadness at how quickly she is growing and changing; hope at the future she has before her and the opportunity to share it.

Then I thought of our other daughter. We don't know her name (well, we have a few thoughts....). I don't have a visual image of what she looks like or know what her favorite sleeping friend might be. I don't yet know what songs and books she will like or if she will hate all of her vegetables except for one. What I do know is that we are waiting for her. I know that the Lord placed Latin America in our hearts and that there is a reason for that longing. I know that she deserves to have someone look upon her with those same feelings I have when I see her sister and brother peacefully at rest in their beds. And I know that I am already praying for her and for God to be with us as we make our way to her. Hopefully, we will be a family that can encourage others as they begin their own journeys. For now, I am just taking it one day at a time. Which is really all that God asks us to do in the first place.

"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." ~Matthew 6:33-34

Friday, January 1, 2010

Bienvenidos 2010!

In light of the fact that 2010 has arrived, I felt it was time to climb back on the blogging wagon and attempt to share the events that have taken place in the past few weeks. First of all, I will go ahead and explain the above photo.

Along the way I have purchased a few random items in anticipation of our daughter's arrival...whenever that may occur. My rationale was that if I did not buy these particular things when I saw them, they would no longer be there in the future and I would mourn my consumer loss. (I must admit to being quite proud of the Cabbage Patch doll and her accurate skin tone.) These small things bring me joy and somehow make this feel like a reality in the midst of the piles of paperwork and the self-imposed panic of getting things in order. And since I cannot buy clothes yet, these things will have to do.

The end of November and the month of December brought some great mail and a sense of accomplishment. Our home study was completed and sent to the powers-that-be. We received agency approval which basically means we got a nice certificate and are on to the next phase. We also received our immigration approval, or I-171H. While this was wonderful news as it came more quickly than we expected, the timing also caused a bit of anxiety for me as 2 weeks of sickness had cost me a lot of prep time for the dossier. However, as our fantastic social worker reminded me ~ God knows the timing of this entire process and will not be surprised by any of those "minor" setbacks or details. She also said I am just stressed enough to do a thorough job on the dossier. I love her. :) Last week another letter from immigration arrived, this time informing us that our petition was being sent to Tegucigalpa for review. This was so simple and yet so exciting to me. It was the first time I had actually seen a destination on paper. For some reason this tangible reminder of the future of our journey was so encouraging. Who knew opening the mail could be such an emotional experience?!

And now we come to a brand new year. The kids wanted to stay up on New Year's Eve and watch the ball drop, so prior to that "event" we all took turns sharing our hopes/wishes for the upcoming year and toasted with our sparkling white grape juice. They thought this was very grown up and fun for whatever reason and were excited to list a few things. Natalie said she hopes her 4th grade teacher will be very nice and Grant, who has had a bad cold, said he hopes he gets well. They thought of a few other things, as did Victor. Then it was my turn. Of course my first hope and prayer was that we will have our daughter here with us this year. Then it struck me how much importance that fairly simple statement held. This could be the year when all of our lives will change in the most amazing ways possible. We will stretch, bend, and grow together ~ hopefully all 5 of us.

Our pastor has been challenging us to find a "mitzvot" ~ 'a path or a discipline one undertakes for a season in order to “put on” some new habit, skill, or knowledge.' He has encouraged us to choose such a task for this year, invite a friend or loved one to keep us accountable, and achieve a goal that we have always wanted to reach. He wrote, "Each of us can think of something we have always wanted to do, something we have intended to learn, some way we have planned to serve, some action that is deeply connected to our passion for life." Sounds easy enough, right? HA!

For our mutual mitzvot, Victor and I are going to learn the Spanish language. We both took 2 years in high school, but as that was in the dark ages we are in desperate need of a refresher course. This will be important for us and also for our child. We want to be able to interact with the people of Honduras as we travel and to be aware of things being said around us, but we also want to be able to comfort our child in her native language and help her transition into our family be a smooth as possible. I am excited about this challenge. It will be fun to do something like this together, and I hope it will strengthen our relationship as well as increase our seemingly ever-shrinking brain capacity. I pray that you will be able to find your passion for life this year, as well. It may not be in a particular task or attained goal, but I hope you find it somewhere along the way. There is so much joy and blessing for us to observe in our everyday lives; may this be the year that we all remember to stop and give thanks for it.