It's a bedtime tradition that began with Little Nutbrown Hare, and each night we try to outdo the last...I love you to the moon and back...to the beach and back...to the mountians...and one of my favorites, "to Jesus and the angels" and back...We never imagined we would be saying, I love you to Africa and back...it seems like the furthest imaginable place, but yet in God's perfect timing, we plan to go.... to Africa and back!!! And when we get back, we will have another little cheek to kiss goodnight...please keep us in your prayers and enjoy this journey with us!
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Her arms empty, she has prayed a prayer, God did you hear me? Did I hear you right Lord? My children are gone…and in her heart she hears "Trust Me"…
Another mother prays, her arms empty…the words she has heard have hit her heart, leaving her frozen. God did you hear me? Did I hear you right Lord? You told me, in the quietness that night…"Why not adopt"…so why are my children gone…and in her heart she hears "Trust Me"…
Two mothers, 3 children and 1 Almighty God…and in the bareness of a hospital room in Kinshasa, DRC, these mothers are given a glimpse of His plan... Divine Intervention…
Last summer my parents attended some church meetings in rural Kentucky…We are from Nashville. As the meeting ended they joined the crowd for a potluck lunch. As they looked around the crowded room they spotted a table with barely enough room to sit but felt compelled to join this table. As they ate they began conversing with a man across the table. He stated that he was in the same profession as I am. They asked about his practice and where he had gone to school. As the conversation went on they learned that he and I had been classmates in graduate school and had known each other quite well, but each going our separate ways after graduating. He began asking them about me and my family. They proceeded to tell him that we were in the process of adopting from DR Congo and that the orphanage we were hoping to adopt from is in Kinshasa…at that moment his wife spoke…"that's where I'm from, my family is there"…Divine Intervention...
As our story has unfolded they have become a significant source of information and support for our family. As we receive each new document, she translates it for me, helping us make sense of the chaos that is, International Adoption...
On October 14th I received an email from our caseworker at OWAS. It stated that our oldest son had been taken to the hospital with a broken leg. Along with the message that our son was hospitalized we also were told that this is outside of the normal medical expenses and that we would be required to cover this expense. I immediately told them to treat him as needed and we would pay later. I learned at what hospital he was being care for and received a phone number for this doctor. I immediately contacted my Congolese friend who told me she had a sister in Kinshasa, who is a nurse...relief swept over me. I all of a sudden didn't feel quite so far away from my son or quite as helpless. She assured me that her sister would travel to the hospital to visit our son. In the meantime she called the phone number for me, seeing as I would find it impossible to converse in French and Lingala with the physician. This was perfect, because she also is a nurse. She immediately called me after speaking with the surgeon and informed me that he stated he was there with our son. He needed surgery, but he was waiting to operate until payment had been made…at that moment I felt let down and angry with our agency. I thought they were there representing us and I find out from a friend here in the US that a surgeon is at my sons bedside awaiting payment in order to treat him??? I then immediately contacted my caseworker who told me to make an online payment to the agency and they would be able to send funds that day. Of course, without hesitation I rushed to my computer and promptly made the payment. After the payment had been received, I then was contacted by the caseworker, notifying me that the payment would have to be sent to the director at the orphanage, a 45 minute drive out of the city and an orphanage worker would take it the next day. I knew the urgency of the need for surgery and asked for the money to be wired directly to the hospital and was told this was not an option. She then told me if I wanted to make arrangements to make payment directly I could do this and they could refund the money, to which I said I would do and asked for a refund (a refund we are yet to see, but that's for a later story). When I relayed this information to my friend she then said that we could wire the money directly to her sister, who would go pay in person for us…Divine Intervention…
Upon arriving to our son's bedside, our friend's sister, learned so much more than the answers to our questions about our son medical condition. She was able to answer for us the many many questions that we had asked OWAS over the last year, in which we had never received answers. In finding our children's birthmother, sitting at his bedside in that hospital room, she learned who our son really was. She shared that he was not the oldest of 3 siblings but the 3rd child out of 6 siblings. She learned that there is a baby, is his youngest sibling, also at the orphanage, referred to a different family. She learned that our son is 7 years old and the twins are 5 and that birthdays are indeed, kept track of in DRC. She learned that the children's father, who is the father of all 6 children, is living. She learned that their mother was approached by a staff member of the orphanage, when their father who is in the military was stationed away from home. At the time that their mother was approached by the orphanage staff member, she was pregnant with the youngest. He told her that he was going to take her 3 youngest children to a home where they would be well fed and cared for. She was told that Americans don't want older children so the oldest 2 were left behind. She was told that Americans would come and take the children to the United States where they would receive an American education. She would receive frequent updates about the children. She was told that after the children were a little older and educated they would be coming back home to her, where they would build her a nice home and support her. When the baby was 1 month old, the same person came and took her, stating Americans love babies, she will go to America soon. And she learned that this mother, loves her children and she cries for them every night. And as conversations ensued between my friend's sister and our children's birthmother, their mother learned that what she had been told was only half truth and that her children had actually been taken to an orphanage to be adopted internationally, never to return again. She had never heard the word adoption. While there may not be a Congolese word for adoption, there are ways to describe the permanence of adoption. When one Congolese person speaks to another, there are ways to ensure that there is nothing lost in translation. There is a mother in DRC who longs for her children. There is a mother who has been lied to and coerced who never agreed to give her children up for adoption. There is a mother whom, when told that her child is hospitalized, she stays around the clock at his bedside. This mother is the rightful mother of our children. This is a mother, who deserves the chance to love and raise her children. While this mother will never get those first months back to bond with her baby or have the last year back that she lost with her children, she deserves the chance to learn who her baby is growing up to be and to restore her relationship with her older children. While we have fallen in love with these children, our children, we are not their rightful parents. We set out to adopt a child without a family, an orphan. We realize that we have no other choice than to forfeit the adoption of our children, therefore restoring their family. These children are not true orphans, they are not adoptable. They do not belong in an orphanage, they belong at home, with their birth family.
Two mothers, one prayer…Lord you know what is best for my family, please lead…Trusting, each of us pursed what felt right, we followed our hearts and God's leading to make the best decisions for our families. The decisions that we have made have led each of us to this exact moment, where our lives intersect and families can be restored… Divine Intervention…
Looking back if there hadn't been the familiar T-shirt we wouldn't have accepted the oldest son's referral. If when we learned about the twins, we hadn't already felt a bond with the oldest, we might not have considered adopting them as well. If we hadn't received the donations, we would not have been able to pay the referral fee enabling us to keep the siblings together. If my parents had never crossed paths with our friends from Africa, we could have never known the truth…this could have so easily been a situation of a mother lied to in which she gives up her children, all 4 children are referred to different adoptive families, never knowing who they really are. A mother left wondering when her children will return, never to hold her babies again…heartbreak…evil…loss…
Our children's birthmother told my friend's sister, there in that hospital room," I prayed". I prayed for my children for their future, for our family. She was, out of love, sacrificing to give her children a better future, with the promise of knowing they would be home again, in her arms. She felt such desperation and then when the children were gone, she was so empty. Her arms were empty. She prayed, God did you hear me? I prayed for you to lead, but now my arms are empty. But, she never stopped praying. And as she prayed... we prayed. God, we want to change the life of a child, lead us. We set out to bring one child home…God has given us the opportunity to help 4 children home. While my heartbreaks for what will not be for our family, I am overcome with love and compassion for this mother who has found her children…Divine Intervention...
Saturday, October 5, 2013
A week after receiving news the that made our hearts ache and our knees weak, we are hopeful. One week ago we had no idea what the announcement of the DGM suspension might mean for us and our children. It is still too soon to really speculate what kind of delay we may be facing, but we continue to trust God to lead and orchestrate the timing of our children's homecoming. We have since learned, that at this time, the US Embassy in Kinshasa will continue to issue I600's (our next step) and conduct orphan investigations. The Congolese government will also continue to process adoption cases. We were previously unaware if any forward motion would be taking place during this suspension. We are so thankful that even though there is a suspension in issuing Exit Letters, some things will continue to take place. The Exit Letter is the very last document issued, once in country, to be able to leave the country with our children. So, we are praying that our case will continue to process as planned and that the suspension will be lifted soon, very soon, minimizing the degree of backlog in issuing Exit Letters to waiting families. Our hearts are aching for families who were so close to being able to travel to meet their children. Currently our agency is not permitting families to travel, leaving these families, after such a long adoption journey so close, but yet so far away. Please continue to pray that the DGM suspension will be lifted quickly, so these families can travel soon to bring their babies home and that all of the sweet children waiting in the orphanage will be able to be united with their waiting families, SOON... As much as we long to hold our children, this is not about us. This is about our children and this is about freeing each of our children from, life as an orphan. Please continue to lift them up in your prayers. We have been reminded again that Satan, loves orphans. We know he will take any opportunity to discourage us and to make them wait to come home. My dad shared this very fitting Bible verse with me this week,
Lastly, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his power. Take up God's instruments of war, so that you may be able to keep your position against all the deceits of the Evil One. For our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against authorities and powers, against the world-rulers of this dark night, against the spirits of evil in the heavens. --Ephesians 6:10-12
We will continue to remain hopeful, as we fight to bring them home!
Some of my favorite pictures from this last week... We are so blessed...
Lastly, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his power. Take up God's instruments of war, so that you may be able to keep your position against all the deceits of the Evil One. For our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against authorities and powers, against the world-rulers of this dark night, against the spirits of evil in the heavens. --Ephesians 6:10-12
We will continue to remain hopeful, as we fight to bring them home!
Some of my favorite pictures from this last week... We are so blessed...
Sunday, September 29, 2013
For any of you with kids or anyone ever around kids, I'm going to go out on a limb and assume you are familiar with Veggie Tales. This being said, I'm also going to assume you are familiar with "Junior". In one episode, Junior is dealing with facing his fear of the dark and being alone. Yesterday morning I awoke to the little voice of Junior playing over & over in my head "God is bigger than the boogie man..." Let me tell you, the boogie man seems really big right now. The boogie man is manifesting himself as a government who has said "No" to processing all international adoptions and allowing orphans to leave the country with their adoptive parents. The boogie man is making it look very likely that our babies will spend at least an extra year of their lives living as orphans in the orphanage, regardless of the fact that we are already declared to be their parents. The boogie man is making everything feel really bleak for us and our hopes of having our family together anytime soon. But, praise God that "God is BIGGER than the boogie man"!!! It's time again not only for prayers but for BIG prayers...we will not sit back and allow our children to be stuck in the middle of this! We know that the Congolese government has issued this suspension with the intentions of protecting "their" children. We pray that their eyes will be opened to the reality that the vast majority of adoptive parents truly want the best for their children. We ask you to specifically pray for the officials who are making decisions within the government. That this suspension will be only temporary and that they will at least proceed with processing cases like ours, in which our adoptions have been already completed in Congo. Pray that although Satan is working hard to keep our children in the orphanage, that God will use this opportunity to once again show Himself in a big way. We believe in miracles, and right now, our babies need a miracle. God is so much bigger than the boogie man and we know that God hears our prayers...
"And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive" Matthew 21:22
I read this last week having no idea how much I would need to hear this...yep this is going on my mirror...
"Get your "YES" straight at the very beginning. Decide on it. Roll around in it. Put it on the table and shellack it. Because you cannot let every delay and snag derail your certainty about adoption. When you say YES, you are saying YES to enter the suffering of the orphan, and that suffering includes WAITING FOR YOU TO GET TO THEM. I promise you, their suffering is worse than yours. We say YES to the tears, YES to the longing, YES to the maddening process, YES to the money, YES to hope, YES to the screaming frustration of it all, YES to going the distance through every unforeseen discouragement and delay. Do not imagine that something outside of "your perfect plan" means you heard God wrong. There is NO perfect adoption. EVERY adoption has snags. We Americans invented the "show me a sign" or "this is a sign" or "this must mean God is closing a door" or "God must not be in this because it is hard," but all that is garbage. You know what's hard? Being an orphan. They need us to be champions and heroes for them, fighting like hell to get them home. So we will. We may cry and rage and scream and wail in the process, but get them home we will." --Jen Hatmaker
Official statement about DRC adoption suspension
Thank you for your prayers and please share this with friends and family...we will trust, and we won't be shaken!
Listen to this inspiring song: We Won't Be Shaken
And just so you can have this stuck in your head too! You really should watch this :-)
God is Bigger that the Boogie Man
View Jen Hatmaker's Blog here
Friday, August 16, 2013
Waiting to hear His voice…waiting to feel His strength…waiting to have my family complete…waiting. But what is it that we are really waiting for? Aren't we all just waiting for the next big thing? Did people before us know more about living in the moment than we seem to, or has it always been this way? Are we really so sure that the next thing to come our way will be any better than the present? Maybe happiness is right now. Right. Now. I want to live in this moment. I want to live with a hope and a purpose of what's to come, but I don't want to loose sight of right now. It is really all that I have. This Moment. Maybe finally bringing our children home will mean a home full of happiness, warmth and laughter. Or maybe it will be utter chaos, tears and heartache. I don't know, but I do know it if I weren't "waiting" my life would feel nearly perfect. I must admit that "waiting" holds a cloud over what seems like it should be a perfectly blue sky. I'm struggling with not letting the wait, cloud my view of what it is that I have. Right. Now. A perfectly healthy and adorable kindergartener, who never holds back when she feels the urge to throw her arms around my neck and plant the biggest, longest kiss on my lips. My health, the health of those that I love. Being surrounded by loving and supportive family and friends. A partner in life (who happens to be my high school sweetheart) by my side; someone who grew up with me and knew me before I became the adult that I am today. And most of all, a God I know I can depend on. But even with all this, I feel the need to be "waiting". I'm tired of waiting. Although physically waiting is hard, emotionally waiting is exhausting. Although the physical wait is far from over, I refuse to emotionally wait any longer. I know the road of adoption still stretches far into the distance, but I'm ready to celebrate TODAY. Today, I am blessed. Today, I will tuck my daughter in bed and lay down for a minute longer than usual. Today, I will celebrate that we have "passed court" in Congo. Today, I will celebrate that we now hold documents in which a Congolese judge has deemed it favorable for our children to be adopted, not just by an american family, but by OUR family! Today, I celebrate my relationship with Jesus which gives me strength and hope. Today, I realize that the only thing worthy of waiting for is the second coming of Jesus. Only then, will the wait truly be over. In the mean time I'm going to celebrate TODAY...
Friday, June 21, 2013
Never, in a million years would I have guessed we would have raised $3,400 from a yard sale!!! Absolutely AMAZING! We feel like we once again saw Gods hand at work. As we sorted through items beforehand we knew we had A LOT to sell, but would there be A LOT of people to buy it??? Not only did a lot of people stop by to shop, we continued to receive more donations once the sale was underway...as word got out about what we were doing we had a steady stream of shoppers and donations. Along with the yardsale items, we had a bake sale table with a large donation jar, we saw that jar fill...collecting $350!!! This fundraiser far exceeded our expectations... Thanks to all of you who generously donated items, spread the word, and invested time and effort into making this a wonderful success! God took your efforts & brought the people we needed! As a bonus, the end of the sale was much less work than we had anticipated! The day before the sale was to end, a friends mom was talking with a lady in the community. This lady stated that she was involved with her churches women's missions group and they were in the process of gathering items for their upcoming fundraising yardsale. She mentioned that although the date of the sale was approaching they had not yet collected a lot of items...we were so happy to be able to donate all of our left over items to this church group to help with their fundraising efforts! They are raising money for an upcoming mission trip and they also collect clothing and shoes to send to Honduras. The items we were able to pass on to them will be used for a great cause and... they arrived one hour after our yardsale ended and loaded up everything in their trucks! How fun to watch God orchestrate even the smallest details!
Recently, there has been a slow down in Congo for international adoption. We knew this process would be filled with challenges, but we continue to press forward in trust. We saw His work in this fundraiser and feel like He is still nudging us forward. We believe God has placed us right where He wants us and we are trusting that He will help us soon bring our babies HOME! A fellow adoptive mom who is at the same stage in the adoption process, and who's children are at the same orphanage as ours, shared Ephesians 3:20 with me today, "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us..." I love this. God has shown us time and time again that His plans are so much bigger than ours! Thank you for continuing to pray for our family and children and for the outpouring of support! It is much needed and so appreciated...
Thursday, June 13, 2013
|The first day of our yard sale was a HUGE success!!!|
|We have been so overwhelmed as we have continued to receive generous donations of items to sell even throughout the day today|
|Our sweet cashiers who took their job very seriously and did a great job! It was a really long day and they were such good sports about it...|
|In addition to collecting money, Emmaline did a great job of making signs! She enjoyed being referred to as the Big Sister as we explained to people what the fundraising was all about!|
Thursday, June 6, 2013
Preparation for our upcoming yard sale is underway! We are busy collecting items, sorting, pricing and organizing! We have been overwhelmed watching donated items come in and are so excited to see how the sales go next week. I wanted to share the flyer we are posting. If you are local we would love to have you stop by (or donate!)...please keep this event in your prayers and pray that we will have nice weather and a great turnout next week!
Saturday, May 18, 2013
"How's everything going with the adoption?", I love this question. This tells me even though it's been 15 months since we announced we are "having a baby" you haven't forgotten that we really are "having a baby"...yes, it's taking a lot longer than the traditional way, but it's still happening! This question is so hard to answer. Partly because there's so much to explain to tell you how everything is going and partly because I'm not really sure how everything is going...so not only for your sake, but for mine as well, I've compiled a little timeline of what happens next. Here it is...
After we accepted the referral for the twins in March, our I600a had to be updated approving us to adopt all 3 children. Once that updated form was received we were once again able to consider our Dossier complete. In April, the updated Dossier was translated to French and submitted to the DRC. Once the Congolese government received the Dossier they were able to begin the court process...
"Court" is a 2 step process... first, OUR documents are submitted (dossier, etc) to start the court process, which began sometime before the first of May. Then once we pass court (roughly 2 months) they have to collect all of the children’s documents, which typically takes another two to four months.
When court has "passed" for all of us, they will send us a copy of the court judgment saying that we have adopted the children. They will also send the act of adoption (which is the official registry of the judgment.)
After the act of adoption there is a thirty day waiting period. Once that waiting period has passed, we receive the CONA, or certificate of non-appeal, which means that no one appealed the adoption of the children.
Once we have all of the above documents, we will file our I600 with USCIS and wait for provisional approval – about 5-7 weeks.
That approval (I600) will trigger the beginning of our investigation period with the embassy in Kinshasa – which at this point we have been told is expected to take 3-6 months. During the investigation, staff from the US embassy in Kinsasha will investigate the children, their biological family members and gather any information they can about the children. This is to determine that they meet "orphan status" based on US guidelines.
Once the investigation is complete, the Embassy will contact us to set embassy appointments, for about 2 weeks later. At that time we will submit the second round of documents.
Next, we will wait for Visas for the children. Once Visas have been issued we will be cleared to travel to Kinsasha! The last step before being able to leave DRC and bring our kids home to the US will be receiving an Exit Letter from the DGM in Kinsasha. This is expected to take about 2 weeks. Then...finally...we travel home!!!
So, back to where are we now?.... We are in "court" . We know that our court process began sometime before the first of May. They will not give us updates during the court process, only that it has begun and then we will be notified when we have "passed". Please pray specifically during this time that all of the needed documents for the children will be located quickly and that court will proceed smoothly. We thought that waiting for our referral was the tough "waiting" phase. We see now, that we are only at the beginning of really WAITING…waiting is hard…waiting goes against every bit of my nature. I'm a "doer". Tell me what needs to be done and I'm on it. Tell me, there nothing I can do right now but wait, that's a different story...
So, there will be no sitting around and just waiting here! It's so crazy to think back on the last 5 months and all that has transpired. We have so much to DO!!! Our home renovation is really moving forward…we have an entire bathroom and bedroom upstairs gutted, rearranging everything and getting ready for 4 little ones to have a place to brush their teeth, take their baths and feel right at home with their own space. Downstairs, the kitchen ceiling is completely torn out and the framing for the kitchen addition is beginning! I look back in awe at Gods use of timing…the damage created by the tornado so perfectly corresponds with the need for home renovations and additions…miracles…right in front of us.
We are also excited to be preparing for a fundraising yard-sale next month! Friends are graciously putting lots of time and effort into planning an adoption fundraiser for us! Donations are being taken, involving 3 different church congregations, our communities, family and friends. All items donated will be sold, generating funds for our adoption expenses!!! We are so so grateful for this! We have passed some amazing financial milestones, but we are well aware of the reality of expenses yet to come! If you are local and would like to donate items for our sale please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we will be happy accept items. I also plan to post a flyer for the sale for anyone who would like to come and shop, start planning now!
We were so blessed this last month to receive more photos and updates of Dauphin, Altess and Vincent. We were able to be in contact with a family traveling to the orphanage to pick up their son. We were able to send gifts to them to be delivered personally to our kids! We now have a picture of the 3 of them together and we also have a picture of Vincent holding a picture of Emmaline (who is holding his picture, in that picture)…that, messes with my mind to see! I am not able to publicly post their pictures but I have added the pictures of Emmaline wrapping their gifts and the pictures of her that we sent to them. We know now, that they at least know about us and know that there is a family here waiting to bring them home, together! Thank you for continuing to shower us with love and support and please please please continue to pray for our family and our sweet children, all FOUR of them!
|Emmaline holding a picture of Vincent and our gift for him|
|Holding a picture of Altess and her gift (including matching purse and bracelet)|
|Wrapping everything up (Christmas themed wrapping compliments of Emmaline)|
|Vincent wearing the shirt and shoes that we sent to him!|
|Holding a picture of Dauphin and his gift|
|Vincent holding Emmaline's picture and our gift|
Passing the time at home...
|First visit from the Tooth Fairy!|
|Celebrating Five and a half!|
|I love this silly girl!|
Friday, April 5, 2013
Where a mountain once stood, with the sun behind waiting to shine past, a rainbow now promises hope.
We were given two weeks to pay $13,000, a lot of money. Our accounts exhausted from adoption expenses, we prayed for a miracle. We had every reason to believe that the little twins had also been chosen by Him, for our family, but we told God, "this is up to You. We don't have the money, if we don't make this payment, we don't move forward, please lead". Again, we were just stepping out in faith, with no glimpse of a boat in sight...and then He used YOU!!! We have been so humbled, we have sat here, in awe watching God move the hearts of family, friends, friends and family of friends, and complete strangers.
Three days before our payment was due, I was contacted by a couple of people on their own adoption journeys. They began sharing unsettling stories with me. I saw glimpses of all of the things that can go wrong. I started feeling discouraged. I started doubting what we were doing. It began gnawing at me. I was getting that "gut" feeling that we were stepping in over our heads. Really, what were we thinking? God, are you trying to tell me something? From the very beginning of our adoption journey, step by step I've first followed my gut feeling, prayed about it and moved forward with Gods guidance. We have had no doubt, from the very beginning, that God has the exact child or children chosen for our family, and that He will guide our decisions to lead us to them. But, why now, at this critical time was I feeling this way? The next morning, after worrying about it all night, the thought kept playing over in my head, "the devil loves orphans"...I began REALLY praying. My entire drive to work that morning I prayed, "God, in two days we have to pay A LOT of money. We have been watching you work, we have no doubt that you can make this happen, but if we are not supposed to move forward, STOP us. Put up a road block, that we can't miss. If we don't have the money in time, we will reconsider our next step". This prayer was so different than any other prayer I had been praying. Everything else has been, please lead us, if it is your will make this happen, help us move forward in the right direction...This was a "God, stop us, put up a roadblock". And again, an answered prayer and a miracle unfolded, right in front of me. Within an hour of praying that prayer, I was contacted by a complete stranger. This person assured me they were a friend of a friend, I could verify they were "real" if I wanted to. I was told, "We have been saving money to make a large donation for some charitable work that caught our interest. International adoption and particularly keeping sibling sets together is something that God put on my heart many years ago. " chill bumps...God this is NOT a roadblock! The EXACT amount remaining of our balance was paid, we received EXACTLY $13,000 in donations...we are so humbled....I have no doubt now that Satan was working hard on my heart. Stirring up doubt and confusion. But God is so much bigger!!! If God wanted us to move forward, He could have let the donations continue to trickle in, He could have still made it happen. I could have assumed that since the money came in God must be giving us a sign that we are doing the right thing. He didn't stop us, right? But no, God answered in a BIG way! He made His plans so clear! Praise God that He has something big planned for these children and that He has chosen us to be a part of it! What a blessing to be living within a miracle, having a front row seat to watch GOD work! This is not about us, it's not about our faith or our prayers...it's about God changing the lives of children and I think He enjoys having an attentive audience! I'm so thankful to be a part of it, and I'm so honored to be able to have such an amazing story to share. Thank you so much for being in Gods audience with us and for sharing with others. God is not only changing the lives of our children, He is changing our lives. I want to shout from the mountain top, "Look what my God can do!"
We saw God move the mountain, but not only did He move the mountain and clear the rain clouds. He allowed the sun to shine through, stretching a rainbow across the sky. He has said to us, "I am in control, trust Me" .
We now once again wait, trusting. We have submitted all of the needed documents for the twins and payment has been made. Next is waiting for the Congolese court appointment. Please pray that our children will pass court quickly. This is estimated to take 2-4 months. We thought that while they were waiting for court, we would be waiting for our updated US immigration approval (changing our approval from 2 children to 3). This was supposed to take 4-6 weeks. But, instead we received it in 9 days!!! One more step closer to bringing them home! Please also pray for our children who are waiting to come home. I've seen it quoted, "An orphanage is no place for a child" and it absolutely is no place for our children...We can't wait to see what God has in store next! We are so grateful for all of the prayers being said. We thank you!
My song share this week :-) Kutless - That's What Faith Can Do
Sunday, March 24, 2013
It had been a year since my second miscarriage. The loss of our baby, once again unexplained, at 12 weeks. Between these losses we had been blessed by the miracle of giving birth to a perfect healthy baby girl. But even that pregnancy had been stressful. At our first ultrasound we were told that this baby had a fifty percent chance of surviving. For us, pregnancy was stressful. My heart was fragile, I didn't feel like I had it in me to potentially experience this kind of loss again. But there we were, with a three year old whom we wanted to have a sibling, trying to decide whether to allow our hearts to possibly be broken once again or to raise an only child. We prayed a lot. We knew our experience was not uncommon, but we also knew how painful it had been for us. Then one night, I began to get a glimpse of what God had in store for us. As I laid in bed, tossing and turning, worrying and praying I heard God speak to my heart. "Why not adopt?" I sat up. The thought was so loud and so clear it was as if someone had spoken the words out loud in my bedroom. That night was the first step in this amazing journey. God planted a seed in my heart that I could not ignore. It took a year, to really process the thought, and the commitment, and to begin to develop the trust that was needed to take that leap of faith into the adoption world. One year ago, this story officially began to unfold and I am learning that its when we step out in faith to follow God's plan we can never, in a million years, even dream up what He has in store for us. Last month, we thought we had it all figured out. We were given what felt like such a sure sign about our little boy. We accepted his referral, we paid the next set of fees and now we just wait for him to pass court so we can start planning our trip to bring him home. But last week we learned more about our sweet little boy, Dauphin. We learned that he is the oldest of 3 children. He is 4, turning 5 in May and he has 3 year old twin siblings...we were told the twins would be staying together but had been referred to a different family. I was heartbroken. We never, ever, wanted to be a part of splitting up siblings and our agency had known this from the beginning. Prayerfully we told them that if the other family would consider accepting Dauphin, we would let his referral go if it meant keeping the children together. At 11:45 at night, I received an email. This email, left us frozen and in shock. There was no "other family"... The twins had not been referred and if we were interested we could consider taking them along with Dauphin...Seriously, God must have a sense of humor! I have one, quite self sufficient 5 year old. We're adopting an almost 5 year old...we had it all figured out..really?... We said we would be interested and asked for pictures and more information about the little ones. Once again, I feel God saying "Trust Me". Dauphin's little brother is also wearing a t-shirt that my friend recognized as one of her son's from the donation made last fall. God reminded us that this whole adoption idea was His in the first place. We are here because of our willingness to trust. We feel a connection to little Dauphin because we feel like God led us right to him. And now, we also feel a connection to his little siblings. Maybe we have been placed right where we are to fight for these kids who can not fight for themselves. They sit together at an orphanage, together, with no voice. We are their voice and we will trust.
Last week after learning about the twins, but having not shared this with Emmaline, I asked her if she was getting excited about her brother. She replied, "yes mommy, but I REALLY wanted a sister" she went on to say, "you know what would be perfect, if Jesus gave me 2 brothers and a sister, that way we would have 2 girls and 2 boys"... The twins are a little boy and a little girl. Sweet Emmaline, it looks like God is answering your prayers. We plan to do everything we can to bring all 3 of these sweet children home, together. When I ended my last blog post with "greater things are yet to come" I had no idea!
So, where does this leave us now? We have an amazing caseworker locally who has already updated our homestudy for us to include approval for adopting 3 children and she has sent the needed paperwork on to USCIS to update our I600a. This should hopefully be processed in the next 4-6 weeks. Since our homestudy has already been updated our agency sent us the official referral for the twins last Thursday! This means we have 2 weeks to gather the needed documents to accept and make another payment for their referral fee. This is where we take a huge leap of faith. We thought we were so on track financially (thanks to so many of you who have generously made donations), but now we owe $13,000 more, in 2 weeks...so...if you have ever felt the urge to make a tax deductible donation to our adoption fund, now is the time! Details of how to do this can be found under the "support us" tab. We've been trying to think of more fund raisers to do and this definitely puts it into high gear for us. If anyone has any fundraising ideas, please share them with me! So, here we are...feeling like we are crazy to accept all three and even more crazy if we don't! We truly feel like God has big things in store for us and for these kids. We know we will be so blessed to have them in our lives. Thanks for being a part of this adventure with us!
Here's a song I want to share. I heard it and really listened to the lyrics for the first time the day before we learned about the twins. It has become my favorite song since learning about them. It makes me so excited to know we are really doing something to make a difference!
Listen to the song here: Kings and Queens
Friday, March 1, 2013
On a Tuesday evening we went to bed expecting a good nights sleep and work the next day...instead we awoke at 3:06 am to our weather alert saying "Tornado Warning". In a fog I did my usual, "Warning?/Watch?...Warning!!! We felt the urgency to get downstairs, and fast! Thank God He had sent Emmaline downstairs into our room during the night so all I had to do was grab her from our bed and run for the basement...at 3:08 we heard the infamous "train"... I had never heard that sound before and it will forever be ingrained in my mind. As quickly as it had roared upon us, it was gone...silence. We sat shaking in a pitch dark basement...OK...I have never felt such instant fear, not for my life, but for the half sleeping child in my arms. After saying a thank you prayer we ventured upstairs. The sound of rain, pouring rain, inside our house... We scrambled for flashlights and headed to the second level. Water was dripping from around lights, smoke detectors and registers, we pulled down the attic stairs to be splashed with water. We started racing around to find buckets, bowls, towels anything to try to minimize water damage. We curiously shone flashlights outside into the yard to find our metal roof tangled up in our fence out front, explaining all of the water! We were so blessed to have family arrive by 5 am to help us place a tarp where the roof had been, as soon as it started to get light. In the meantime we emptied buckets and watched water pour in, running down the walls of the office upstairs and into the kitchen below. Water ran freely off of the counter in the kitchen onto the floor where it would next find the basement level...but we were okay. Three hours after the tornado had hit we had a tarp covering the center portion of our house. I felt so helpless...there was water everywhere but I couldn't figure out what to do with anything! Our insurance agent told us first of all to call a water extraction company. As we waited for them to arrive I felt the need to help neighbors. We ran out to find food around 10:30 and I saw neighbors everywhere trying to make sense of displaced metal, wood and trees. I knew I wouldn't be much help running a chainsaw but I knew these people must also need food. I decided to go to McDonald's and get food to pass out. I was so blessed by the people I met, my neighbors. The water extraction company arrived by 3 pm and began assembling equipment. Industrial size fans, dehumidifiers and lots and lots of other noisy equipment... Those guys became our best friends! They came daily for a week to move equipment and to asses how everything was drying. We went a week with our roof in our front yard, our stove and dishwasher in our living room and all of the items from the affected rooms moved into other parts of the house. But we also spent a week realizing how much we have to be thankful for!!! My parents have moved recently from 9 hours away to 3 miles down the road! That couldn't have been better timing! We are so fortunate to be able to stay with them, for that first week, and as needed throughout renovation. Speaking of timing...Monday after the tornado, I stopped by home to asses everything and told Chad I really thought I should make a coffee run to our local coffee shop for a little pick me up for us both. As I sat in my car waiting for my Mocha, my life once again began to spin around me...as I waited there I browsed my emails...my heart stopped as I saw one from our case worker with the subject "3 year old boy"... Could it possibly be our turn, in the middle of this mess?!?!!! It was! The email asked if we were interested in learning more about him, to which I immediately replied "yes!!!!!"... Shaking I tried to keep my composure while accepting the coffees then quickly called Chad. The next hour was filled with memories I want to remember forever...Chad, Emmaline and I huddled around the iPad in our bonus room (trying to find a place in our house away from the noise) and seeing our first glimpse of a sweet little face of a precious child. It has been almost a month since the tornado and almost 3 weeks since that email & it feels like a very long blur. A stressful blur, in which my mind continues to race...my theme throughout this adoption journey has been "in God's perfect timing"...wow...this is definitely turning out to be a lesson in trust! We have yet to learn more about this cute little boy. We have one picture. We don't actually even know his age. We have sent many requests for any shred of information that can be shared with us, but for now we will wait. In Gods perfect timing we will know, if this child is our son. In closing I want to share a quote which my Grampa kept on his desk and loved to share. This seems so appropriate for this time..."We must wait patiently and not fail or be discouraged, for God has his plans all arranged." ...to be continued...
A picture worth a thousand words...
In three and a half weeks of waiting and waiting for any glimpse of information about the sweet little boy we saw in our referral picture, I had lots of time to pray. In our first picture his image was blurry...the angle was so skewed I truly could not determine if this child was 3 years old or if he was 7...and we had no other information. The only thing we really could see was his Spiderman T-shirt. Since this was Chad's favorite childhood superhero I teased that maybe that was a sign that this child belonged in our family... We began this journey of adoption for two reasons. One to add another child to our family, a younger sibling for Emmaline, and two to give an orphan a home and a family. So here we were, after praying continuously for God to send the child He has chosen for our family to us, now debating if we should adopt a little boy who very well might be a year maybe two years older than our only child...whew...my mind was exhausted. Every time I made up my mind to accept the referral or decline I was almost instantly sure I was making the wrong choice...I somehow in my mind had pictured this moment of seeing our child's picture for the first time so differently. I was supposed to see his face & just know. But, we were so thrown off by the thought that he could be a school age child vs a toddler or preschooler. So I began to pray, really PRAY. Not the kind of prayers you say quickly at mealtime or bedtime when your fighting sleep. I said the kind of prayers where tears flowed freely, searching for God to reveal Himself...I prayed 2 prayers continuously for 3 1/2 weeks...my first prayer "God, please show me one more picture of this little boy, in which I can really see how big he is" I needed something concrete to compare him to, a desk, a chair, anything! My second prayer, "God, I don't even know what to pray for, but you know exactly what I need to see to have peace about making this decision"... There it was, I left it in Gods hands. I was done worrying about it. And then, 2 days ago, God came so close to us. Finally in my inbox it arrived, a new picture!!! I was shaking as I opened the file. As it popped up, my heart jumped out of my chest, this was MY little boy! I felt it, I knew! He had the sweetest face & the kindest eyes. And he was standing next to a desk! And he looked so much smaller than the child my mind had created! God had answered my prayer and given me answers, I felt confident that this little boy was at least not any older than Emmaline. I immediately sent the picture to Chad and called him. We both agreed we felt very differently about this picture...I felt God had answered our prayer, quite specifically. But, hadn't I prayed 2 prayers? Although I felt like both prayers had kind of been answered with this one glance, God had more... Next, I excitedly called my mom. I rambled on and on about how cute this little boy was and I just felt like he must be our son, I really felt sure. She quietly listened and then said, "I know, you saw his shirt right?" I replied I did, it said something about a crocodile and maybe it was from Jake and the Neverland Pirates (Emmaline's favorite cartoon). Maybe God really was using his shirt to give us a sign. She said no, look closer...I didn't have my iPad with me so I asked her to read it to me. Above the writing "Crocodile Dock" it read "Madison Campus Church VBS"... Time stood still for me at that moment, that is the name of our church...In Nashville...this child was in Africa...God, really? No, I was disbelieving...I quickly messaged one of my best friends, asking if our church, by chance, had ever held a VBS titled Crocodile Dock? There must be churches all over the country with this name... Her reply, "yes, 2 summers ago"...deep breath...wow...I called my friend. We talked about the miracle taking place before our eyes. We talked about the donation which she and 3 other friends had made of clothing to be sent to our orphanage last fall. In November on our way to Disney, we had met our caseworker at a Starbucks, downtown Atlanta, and loaded up her car with clothing to be sent to Kinshasa, DRC. Not knowing, when these items might actually make it to the orphanage. This is a friend whom I have grown up with, a friend with a son who is 7 weeks younger than our daughter. Her son is the little boy, whom my daughter claims she will marry someday. And as I learn that my son, in Africa is wearing her sons t-shirt, tears stream down my face...I am completely overwhelmed with awe and gratitude...God has answered a prayer that I didn't even know how to pray! I now know EXACTLY how big this little boy is...this shirt was too small for her little boy last summer, when he was four. He and Emmaline have always been the same size. Therefore, our son is, without question, smaller than our daughter. My EXACT concern and reservation about excepting his referral! Once again, I have heard God speak, as clearly as I did that night laying in bed when He said "Why not adopt?" God is real, and this is His child. Praise God that we had the courage to act, when He spoke. To think I could have missed out on this miracle and all of the miracles and blessing to come as we watch our story unfold! I can't thank you enough for all of the thoughts thought, and prayers prayed. God is hearing our prayers. I know this journey is still long, and I know there are still deep valleys ahead. Praise God for such high summits to reflect back on when we reach the valleys...God is good. And I believe there are still amazing things to come! As I type this a Chris Tomlin song has come across Pandora: "You're the light in this darkness, You're the hope to the hopeless, You're the peace to the restless, You are...For greater things have yet to come and greater things are still to be done...there is no one like our God"
Thursday, January 3, 2013
As we enter a new year it only seems right to reflect back on the last year and my heart just overflows with gratitude...what have I done to deserve such blessings? Then I realize, I've done nothing to deserve this. I am so humbled to be the recipient of such a gift. The more tragedies that unfold the more I realize how fragile life as we know it can be. Therefore, I realize just how important it is to be aware each and every day of all that I have to lose. Realizing this, it only reinforces in my mind the importance of trusting in God to guide and stay by my side no matter what comes my way. Otherwise, I could easily find myself living in fear of losing all that I count as my blessings. So, I daily choose to have a state of mind that reflects gratitude, trusting in God's guidance and realizing what is truly important in this life. When I look at this last year, I realize it has been so full of changes! It was this time last year that we decided to take the plunge into the world of adoption, never realizing just how much our world would begin to spin (and this is just the beginning)! So much has gone into the whole "process" of adoption that sometimes it's almost easy to forget that this will end with a new little toddler running around our house (now that, will be my world spinning)! I'm finding myself more and more anxious to see a little face, to know something, anything, about this little person who will rock our world. I keep telling myself "in God's perfect timing" and I have to remind myself to TRUST. Part of what I've written today is for me; for me to see it in print, the part about me saying I daily choose to trust in God's plan. There's a big reason why I haven't posted lately, besides the chaos of the holidays...I've felt there just isn't anything to report on the subject of our adoption process. I'm asked over and over "any progress on your adoption?" and I answer over and over "we're just waiting, trying to patiently wait" and now I realize that this is a very important part of the process and it deserves recognition. I underestimated the bigness of this step! I had heard all about it, but yet still underestimated it. This is a really big deal! I am so thankful for the frequent questions, even though I'm sure the one asking knows as well as I do what my answer is getting ready to be! It gives me a chance to feel recognized in what I'm experiencing. So yes, please keep asking and yes one of these days I'm going to have a new answer for you!!! We have an exciting fundraising update: we were so excited to receive some generous Christmas donations, which bring us much closer to meeting our referral fee goal! This means when we do get "the call" we have the money ready & waiting to make the next required payment! Thank you so much to each of you who have donated to our fund!!! I'm going to close with some of my favorite pictures from the last couple of months. Yes, we are so blessed!