our work

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Off The Cliff!!!

Time for an update on our adoption of Francis!  If you're already weary of hearing about the financial aspects of adoption, you may want to leave this blog and go check your Facebook instead (ha ha).   I want to give credit where credit is due.  First, between the chip-in, gifts from friends and family and our Chic-fil-a fund raiser, we have been blessed with about $9,350 toward the expenses of our adoption!!!! Thank you to all who have generously helped us. There just aren't words to express how grateful we are. The donations not only serve to meet practical expenses but to assure us that God is in this and that He will provide.   We did apply for several grants and were denied each time. The reason the organizations stated is that they feel we have the resources to pay for our own adoption.  The first denial letter than expressed this sentiment made us laugh.  We wondered what THEY saw that WE didn't see. . . and then it dawned on us . . . it's THE DEBT.  Over a year ago, we began to follow Dave Ramsey's principles as laid out in "The Total Money Makeover".  We were able to make a huge lifestyle change and pay off our car, credit cards (which are closed) and set up an emergency fund to be used if my husband were to lose his job.  When grant organizations looked at our application, they saw a family with no debt and some savings and said "no".    We have been taught that the emergency fund is not to be touched under penalty of death unless my husband becomes unemployed. We are afraid to even LOOK at the emergency fund directly - kind of a "Raiders of the Lost Ark" deal - unless we should be tempted and turn into powder.  We vowed that in our minds, the emergency fund was OFF limits and the first of us to suggest using it for an expense unrelated to job loss or nuclear meltdown would be flogged with a cat 'o nine tails.
That was then. This is now.  The emergency fund is being used to finish off this adoption. It is going the way of
parachute pants and Rainbow Brite -  gone but not forgotten.    Bringing Francis into our home IS an emergency.  Obeying the call of our Savior IS an emergency.  We're jumping off the cliff with NO SAFETY NET and, despite my fear,  it feels more like a privilege than I expected - an honor really.  . . a chance to exercise faith that I hear about in others but never knew could be manifest in my own life.   I can not end this post without, once again, praising God for my precious husband who had to set aside his own fears and make the leap with me.   He is a generous man and quick to give of his time and resources but this was a "biggie" yet it seemed a "smallie" when it came down to it.
Thank you, Father, for doing so much more than we could have asked or imagined!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

PROGRESS!!!!

Today I received a glimmer of hope in my mailbox!  We received our I-800a approval from homeland security!!!  Basically, my husband and I have been determined to be eligible to adopt a child aged 0-16 from The Philippines.  Our fingerprints have been accepted and run through the system and our criminal backgrounds have been investigated (trust me, there's nothing there to investigate unless speeding tickets are in the data base - ha ha). This is a vastly important step as it allows us file for Francis' immigration clearance just as soon as we get his legal documents ( birth certificate, surrender paperwork, etc).  We are definitely getting closer to bringing our boy home!!!  I have not failed to miss the irony of my last post where I admit to struggling with the wait.  As always, God uses my own impatience to teach me to trust Him.  I am committing to pray more and worry less through the remainder of this adoption.   Thank  you, Lord, for your unlimited supply of patience and the gentle way you reveal my shortcomings.  I don't deserve this type of grace but I sure am thankful for it!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Missing!

I am struggling.  There's no other way to say it.  That niggling feeling that someone is missing in our family is now taking on a life of it's own.   I can look back on this very blog and read the posts prior to Ezekiel's adoption and see this same phenomenon but it seems worse this time.  It is worse.  I think a few factors are contributing to the angst. First, our agency director is leaving for a visit to The Philippines in just a few days.  He is taking a photo album with him that will, hopefully, find it's way to Francis VERY soon.  I am coming to grips with the realization that it's time for Francis to learn that he has a family.  The ICAB is cautious about how and when children receive this information.  They and the orphanage staff don't want to run the risk of telling a child too soon and having circumstances change.  I am glad they operate this way but I am on pins and needles waiting to hear how Francis will react, at 15 years old, to finding out he has a family.  IT IS STRESSFUL to wait for this news.
He could decide he doesn't want to make this monumental life change and the process would come to a halt.
The other reason I'm "losing it" a little bit is that there is still one piece of paperwork keeping us from being able to get his legal documents and file for his immigration clearance. We're waiting on the results from a recent psychological evaluation (done routinely, not because of any glaring concerns).  A third-party does the evaluations and gets the results to the ICAB.  I don't know how long this takes.  As I type this post, I realize the root of my struggle is my tendency toward being a "control freak".  We are at that point in the adoption where nothing rests on my actions and everything depends on other people.  Yeah . . . OTHER PEOPLE . . . ha ha.   So, if you are a fellow control freak, let me assure you that the adoption process does not cure your need to control the world, it just reveals it!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Great Day

Today was a great day!  My sister and her 3 wonderful kiddos (ages 14,12 and 8) live four hours away. We decided to meet at a Cracker Barrel restaurant that is exactly 2 hours from each of us and have lunch.
Due to a big snow storm at Christmas time, we never got to exchange gifts. We met and had breakfast for lunch and then went to the parking lot of the restaurant and exchanged gifts.  It was FREEZING but the kids had a blast. My 9 year old son got the "snuggie" he has been longing for and I got a new pair of black clogs (timely since the ones I wore to the restaurant were ripped on one side - ha ha). Ezekiel got a Curious George jack-in-the-box that he is smitten by and the older kids got some great clothing and Black Ops for playstation 3. It was such fun watching everyone enjoying these well thought out gifts and just having fun together.
On the drive home, I got to pondering just how blessed I am with this family. My kids LOVE spending time with their cousins. My sister is one of my best friends.
There's no way for Francis to know this yet but he's coming into  a pretty great family if I do say so myself.
The love and support here is no small thing.  I have friends who are estranged from much of their family or who have not spoken to siblings in years due to unresolved conflict.  I know others who were only children and have built their own support network from church friends or neighbors. 
I just have to praise God for the extended family He has given me and let those people know I don't take them for granted.
Photos from today's "chow down" will follow soon . . .
 We are freezing our buns off standing outside (above)
 Me and my beautiful sister (left)
Ezekiel LOVED his gift!
The girls making goofy faces (but still cute)

The boys are "too cool" to lean in very close for a picture . . .

Trinity and Kyle . . .LOVE hanging out together!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sick

Today, I am sick and had to stay home from church. I really hate  missing church! I kept Ezekiel home with me since he's still a "nursery baby" and won't be missing any teaching.  The most ridiculous thing about this whole situation is that I made MYSELF sick!  I knowingly ate undercooked meat when I was preparing tacos for the family (and a couple of friends) on Friday night.  I picked a nice, brown hunk of meat from the pan to "test" it and as soon as I bit in, I KNEW I was in trouble. The meat was totally raw in the middle- it was STILL COLD (ewwww). I woke Saturday morning with a raging headache and other symptoms that, shall we say, are common with food poisoning but not great blog material!  Last night I tossed and turned with muscle aches and stomach cramps.  I have learned my lesson!  NO RAW HAMBURGER -EVER!  Although this Sunday morning finds me feeling weak and still slightly achy, I am going to set this computer aside and spend some time with my sweet baby - just him and me.   It's a rare treat when you have a larger family to spend time with just one child and I don't want to miss it!  I guess I'm off to hold my boy and watch "Choo Choo Soul".   It's all I have the energy for right now but I'm sure he won't mind.  
Have a blessed Sunday!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Logical Nonsense

This morning, God woke me up at 4am and I was overwhelmed with the urge to pray. I prayed for my children, for Francis and our adoption efforts and, of course, for Davids in Latvia. I awoke to the WONDERFUL news that Davids has a family!!! The family is already in the process of adopting another child from Davids' country and country rules allow for simultaneous adoptions.  The family is experienced in adoption and have some background in Davids' country.  It sounds perfect! The only drawback is that this family is saddled with paying for two adoptions at the same time.  As a family who has adopted twice only one year apart, we know the challenges that presents but two at ONCE????? WOW!  I was excited to discover that Project Hopeful is managing an account for Davids' adoption  and donating is easy.  I shared this news with my husband this morning as he has been praying for Davids with me.  My husband said, without hesitation, "Let's donate". 
My first reaction was to say "uh . . .have you forgotten we're bringing home our OWN about-to-age-out teen from overseas" but that is NOT what I said.  I was immediately overcome with love for this man that God has given me with his heart for the fatherless and his bent toward serving others.  I know it sounds completely illogical to donate to another family's adoption when we ourselves are working double time to pay for our own!
My husband reminded me that he has just completed a large photography job and the proceeds from that job were not earmarked yet. He wanted to give from his own overtime to this young man's adoptive family.
Just this last Sunday, our pastor at Potter's Hand preached an amazing message on "Radical Hope". In that message, he talked about God's economy being completely opposite of man's economy.  Man says "if you're feeling burned out, take some 'me' time" while God's economy says "if you're feeling burned out, find someone who needs to be served and serve."  Man's economy says "hoard your wealth, take care of #1 and give only out of your surplus" while God's economy says "the widow who gave two pennies gave more than all the wealthy because she gave out of her NEED." 
You can hear the complete sermon (it's from 1/9) athttp://podcast.theundilutedtruth.com/
So we gave.  Not from any donations we have received from others but from my husband's extra photography business income that yes, could have gone to our own adoption but the need for Davids is NOW.  Francis has just a little more time.
If you are feeling led to give to Davids' adoption fund, go to www.projecthopeful.org and click on their
blog. 
I am eager to see how God will map out all of these adoptions, all of the giving and the receiving.
There is NO LIMIT to His resources and, in that, we rest wholeheartedly!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Update on Davids / Keep Praying . . .

I just received some promising news regarding the young man in Latvia discussed in my previous blog entry.
There are two families on the horizon who are interested in adopting him! Both families MUST meet the criteria set forth by the Latvian government and the families must quickly be able to file immigration paperwork.
You would think with such a time crunch, countries would make exceptions to their own rules but this is rarely the case. Most of the rules governing adoptions really ARE put in place to protect the children. To bend these rules may mean endangering children so, for that reason, I am thankful for the rules in place. Please pray not only for the adoption of Davids but for him to go to a family where he will be a cherished family member. Pray that the family does not view themselves as rescuers but as "lottery winners" who were hand-picked by God to receive the grand prize - a human life!

Broken and Spilled Out

I just finished posting a story on my facebook account that has absolutely devastated me.  A Latvian teenager named Davids was set to be adopted by an American family he met on a hosting program. The family committed to him and he was elated! The family ended up changing their minds about this young man leaving him with only TWO WEEKS until he ages out and is no longer adoptable!  (You can read the story and see pictures of this handsome young man at:  
http://www.givenmuchmom.com/
Get a tissue and prepare to have your heart broken!  Please join me in praying for a family for Davids.

As a family who has committed to a child ready to "age out", I can not imagine what series of events led the family to pull out of this adoption.  I don't stand in judgment of the adoptive family, I'm sure it was a painful decision but the article on the blog I linked above states that the family changed their minds in favor of adopting a girl they had met earlier than Davids. Now they had already told Davids he had a family! The family had begun the process.   I am going to ask a very cynical question that may anger some readers.   WHY SO MANY GIRLS?  If you ask any adoption professional, they will tell you that girls are preferred over boys by a HUGE margin the adoptive world. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my daughter. I know that it's a privilege to mother a daughter but when a story like this comes to light, it just makes me wonder why the preference for girls is so strong.  Yes, orphaned girls need homes, too. I know this but boys wait exponentially longer than girls to find a family in almost every country (other than China) and I am utterly confused by this.  I am asking the question in earnest, not in a rhetorical way that is loaded with
accusation.  I really DO want to know why girls seem to be in such high demand?
Bride of Christ, let me ask you this:  if we took on multitudes of orphaned young men and helped shape and guide them into productive, woman-protecting, responsible, law-abiding followers of Christ, can you imagine what the world would look like?   Instead, the orphaned and unadopted young men often become criminals, prostitutes, abusers and soul-wounders to those in their paths.  The rate of suicide among unadopted orphans has been estimated at 10%-38% depending on the country they live in and the rate for unadopted males is double that of unadopted females (according to several online sources I will link to in my next post). 
By all means, if God  is leading you to rescue little girls, do it!  But please consider, if you are praying about adoption, not letting fear keep you from a deserving young man.  Not all boys molest. Not all boys are violent.  Not all boys rebel. Some do.   So do girls.  In short,  ask God to show you where the greatest need lies and to help you lay down your fantasies about adoption. Ask Him to lead you to a child that needs YOU rather than to give you a child that fits perfectly into the age or gender "hole" in your family. 
I am sure this post is going to prompt some readers to ask for their donations to be returned (ha ha) but I hope not!  If just one little boy can wait just a little less because ONE adoptive family set aside their fear, I consider it worthwhile and a tribute to boys like Davids and my Francis, who waited too long.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Crumbs in the Butter (or "Confessions of a Fool")

I am not a person who is given to depression. I am thankful for this fact as I have dear Believing friends who struggle mightily to keep a positive perspective and I have seen first hand how relentlessly feeling "down" can take it's toll on a person and all those around her.  The last few days, though, I have struggled. Combine the post-holiday blues with the fact that our adoption process is slowing down (waiting on an updated psyche evaluation on Francis before we can have his legal documents to file for immigration) and then add in the realization that we still have plenty of work to do for said adoption and, I'm overwhelmed. How do I know I'm overwhelmed? Because yesterday I made banana bread and when I went to serve it, I noticed there were toast crumbs in the butter and I started to cry!!!Does that not rank among the dumbest reasons to cry you've ever heard of??  I am living proof that adoption and pregnancy have an almost identical effect on the human psyche.
Somebody come and study me!!
In any case, today is a bright, new day and I am awash with gratefulness.  In the words of one of my precious facebook friends, I am CHOOSING to be grateful.  I made a mental list of my blessings and have resolved to count them anytime I feel my throat constricting and eyes welling over something as painful as crumb-laden butter!  I thanked my Heavenly Father for who He is, what He has done and all He has given me before my feet hit the floor this morning and what a difference that mindset makes!
I hope that I am not the only person who has "lost it" over minutia. I KNOW I'm not the only person who has discovered that the key to "getting my heart right" is counting my blessings.
We attend a church that relies on contemporary music for worship time and I really do love it but the old hymn of my childhood "Count Your Blessings" has been my song of choice today.  I love the verse that says:

When upon life's billows you are tempest-tossed,
when you are discouraged thinking all is lost,
count your many blessings-name them one by one,
and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

I couldn't have said it better myself!  Let's get counting . . .

Still Counting . . .