Monday, April 7, 2014
Saturday, March 22, 2014
For the most part, adoption is viewed as a beautiful event. It is definitely amazing, but we look at it from the perspective of the adoptive family. When you consider adoption from the perspective of the child, at least initially, it can actually be a traumatic event.
From the perspective of a child who has lived their entire life in an institution, they don't conceive any other reality. In their world, things are as they should be. The Bible indicates that God designed us to have love and companionship in our lives, and we all have an innate desire to be part of a unit - a family. But for the 2-year-old in an orphanage, what is a family? Simply put, it is the children living with them (who may come and go), and typically very few caretakers in an understaffed environment. Little contact is made outside of the orphanage walls. This is not what God intended for His precious creation, but it is all the children know.
Imagine you have spent your entire life in one structure. Rarely, if ever, have you gone anywhere outside this home. One day, strangers come and remove you from the only place you have ever known. While these strangers appear kind, they are kidnapping you from your "family". You would be scared and uncertain. It would rock your existence! Things would be further complicated when these strangers expose you to over-stimulating environments.
Next, they take you on a giant airplane, the likes of which you have never seen, much less ridden inside. You are there for hours. The people tell you they are taking you to your new home. When you exit the plane, the people look very different from you. They are speaking another language. You are driven to a house that seems warm and inviting, but still distinctly new and unnerving. More and more strangers come to see you and want to give you hugs, kisses, and more toys than you have ever played with. What is going on?
What about when the new family suddenly drops you off at another location and leaves you, such as a daycare or nursery? You wouldn't know if they were going to return or leave you!
When many adoptive families arrive home with their new child, they often spend several weeks in isolation of sorts. Trying to limit all the "new" and help their kiddo adjust. One of the specific things we will likely do is help our children transition to being in the nursery at church. Resources suggest spending several weeks in the nursery with your child, then practicing leaving for short periods of time, gradually increasing your absence to help the child understand you always come back.
The concepts of "forever family" are likely impossible for a small child to understand. As parents, we are going to implement as many suggestions as are feasible to support Oliver and Kalli's transition into their new lives. There will be times when you may think we're over-protective or just plain weird, but hopefully viewing a glimpse from their tiny eyes will change your mindset.
Our sweet trio already at home will need to adjust as well. Prayer is IMPERATIVE in supporting both our new children and our resident children deal with the unfamiliar. We are praying God gives them a supernatural understanding and sense that our freshly-formed family is exactly the way it is supposed to be. We pray for peace and joy to overflow in their little hearts.
*In our quest to advocate for orphans, we thought it would be helpful to share some of the realities of adoption. This is the first of our "Did You Know" series to highlight aspects of the process that many people have never before considered. One of the prerequisites of adopting, at least in our experience, was adoption education. China has a requirement of 12 hours of training and study, and our agency additionally specifies each parent read three books and complete book reports. Incredibly eye-opening to say the least, even the second time around. We are certainly not experts, just sharing some poignant points we have discovered.
Sunday, March 16, 2014
It is as simple as sponsoring a puzzle piece for $5!
You can donate through Paypal simply by going into your account and sending money as a gift to family/friends to email@example.com. If it's withdrawn from your checking account, neither you nor we will pay a fee. You could also give it to us in person or send a check payable to one of us to: 750 Nuckols OBC Rd, Calhoun, Ky 42327.
Grace has decided to buy the very first puzzle piece.
Amazing big sister, she has already made cards and bookmarks along the way to help us raise money. :)
Originally we thought the adoption tax credit would be a huge help in offsetting our expenses. Unfortunately, with Jon's job change and income loss, and the tax credit being changed, we will likely only be able to take advantage of enough of the credit to pay back ONE of our loans.
So you see, we have much praying to do, and one final fundraiser. The only piece missing is you!
Reading this verse reminds us that where God guides, He provides. When He has led you to do something that brings glory and honor to Him, He is going to see you through and equip you with what you need. "Needs" and "wants" are regularly confused in our society. Sometimes we think God is not providing when He should be. Chances are, it probably is not a true need or it's going to give glory to the wrong person.
I love the song by Lindsay McCaul called "Take My Hand". When reflecting on Peter's journey in the book of Matthew where he stepped out to walk on water and meet Jesus amongst the waves (Matthew 14:22-33), she wrote this song. It's about the moments God calls us to specific action, and we start on our pursuit with bravery and strength. But as soon as we realize how inadequate we are, that a situation is out of our control, or that we cannot orchestrate any of the events to achieve our goal, we begin sinking. Part of the lyrics say:
You're telling me that faith is all I need,
but FEAR is all that I can find in me.
Didn't you know that I'd be scared?
Couldn't you see I was unprepared?
I'm not asking for reasons you hold, or the safety of land,
I just need you to take my hand.
We want to praise our heavenly Father for holding our hands down this adoption path. When tremendous adversity has materialized and we have found only fear in ourselves, He has made His presence known. A month after beginning our process, Jon had to change jobs for medical reasons and our income was cut in half. Yet we have exactly enough to pay our bills.
A goal of $43,000 for adoption costs can be ignored momentarily, but once your savings is dramatically cut-off, the enormity of that figure is paralyzing. But look where He has brought us! We have earned/saved/fundraised or been given/granted/loaned almost $32,000!!! We are experiencing exceptional generosity. Family and friends have been crazy supportive, and it just keeps amplifying. Jon has a family member who participated in one of our fundraisers, and now continues to send us a check every few weeks. Anonymous donors have given another $109 on Oliver's Reece's Rainbow account. The two part-time jobs I have taken on have contributed an additional $1250, and I was also able to have an Origami Owl fundraiser for another organization along the way!
A home built to accommodate a family of four has blossomed to comfortably hold seven without any remodeling or construction. The extra beds we have needed have been built by my oh-so-talented hubby! A new friend gave us a car seat for Kalli that is in excellent condition, and we were able to use coupons and discounts to get a sweet deal on a car seat for Oliver. Two girlfriends from church gave us goodies to keep Kalli clothed all summer long.
Responding to God's calling does not mean the trek will be easy, but we are especially grateful to serve a God who loves us as His children. He holds our hands, guides us, is remarkably patient, and never stops giving us second chances. I'm going to close with the words from another song, this one by Nichole Nordeman:
Friday, February 28, 2014
Pray for May.
At this point in our "paper pregnancy", May would be the earliest we would travel. It is so hard to bear even missing one more day of our children's lives. Kalli just turned two, and Oliver turns four next week. If the absolute best scenario for our paperwork being processed gets us to China in May at the soonest, then that is what we are praying for.
Pray for May.
I stated at the very beginning this blog had a couple purposes. Encouraging others to adopt is primary, but we also hoped to educate those unfamiliar with the adoption process. We wanted to give insight and updates on this bumpy road.
This is our reality right now - we have been really struggling with the wait for several weeks. Once all our paperwork was notarized and authenticated and mailed to China, the average wait is 60 to 70 days for something called the "Letter of Seeking Confirmation" or LOA. We are at Day 93. We do not appreciate the fact that we are above average. Ha/ha That was a joke. :)
I'm not sure why it has gotten so difficult as of late; for whatever reason, it has. Sunday we had a guest preacher. He asked the congregation what kind of legacy we were leaving for our children: a legacy of worry or a legacy of trusting God. He might as well have been pointing his finger directly at me and said my name before the question. Guillllltttttyy.
I made a decision - try to stop all this fretting and email stalking (looking for news from our caseworker). Show my children already at home that I do trust God. When my human nature absolutely cannot be suppressed and anxieties and fears kick in, I want them to see me turning to God. Down on my knees. Accepting that He is in control. I want them to see me praising Him in those times when I'm weak, when things don't seem easy or fair.
That is where we are right now in this sometimes arduous experience. We're leaning on him, praying for May! Will you pray with us? :)
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Here's the 4-1-1: beautiful little four-year-old girl, Violet, whom we sought to adopt at the same time as Oliver. She was listed with a different adoption agency, and they would not share with our agency.
Toddlers. They haven't learned how to share.
Not sharing meant we could not bring Violet home. :(
Heartbreak. Temper tantrum. And then peace. We know who is in control, and He showed us His plan in the form of our precious little Kalli. Yet our hearts still longed to find the family that was meant to bring Violet home.
I typed out the post (linked above) telling about this amazing child. She had a congenital heart condition that was surgically corrected, has low vision, and is deaf. It was the beginning of our advocating for her. Little did we know, it was also the end!!
Unbeknownst to us, God had been planting tiny seeds in the lives of another family. Adoption had been something they had considered about a decade before, born out of their compassion for the millions of children forgotten and alone. But back then, it wasn't His timing. As of late, He had been moving them in great ways. When I say moving them, I mean touching and moving their very souls. Stirring something deep within them that went beyond a concern for the fatherless. This family was already actively and whole-heartedly making a difference in the lives of orphans as they prayerfully and financially supported others in the adoption process.
This was a calling to DO EVEN MORE. While they had no clue where it would culminate, they knew God had something in the works.
Then, the wife in this family saw my blog post. She simply shared the link with her husband, saying nothing more than "take a look at this please". Without even discussing it with one another, they both felt an unspoken connection. They began asking questions, continued to pray, and God continued blessing them with little signs of confirmation.
Picture it: God knows the future, He knows what decision this family will make. He's smiling the whole time as He patiently waits for them to realize where they are headed. He knows His children will be living out the gospel in a new and wonderful way. He smiles as He watches over His little Violet, knowing the time is approaching when she is fully treasured by HER family.
Then, they knew. Violet was their child, waiting on the other side of the world.
Mind you, this family had not suddenly come across a large amount of extra cash, they did not have an extra room in their home, they did not have extensive experience caring for special needs children, they do not even know sign language! They didn't say "yes" to God because they were completely prepared and fully adequate for the task. They said "yes" because they love God and trust Him.
Contrary to popular belief, God may give them more than they can handle. But they know that "in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28). As a guest pastor pointed out this past Sunday, the verse does not say all easy things, all good things . . . it says in ALL things - good, bad, difficult, easy - God works. He will work in these lives.
Please pray for this family. The process has just begun for them, and I pray it moves swiftly so their sweet girl can be HOME! Details, such as the financial aspect / travel / learning sign language, will all be arranged as the process goes along. Pray for them and for God's provision in all these regards as they take this walk of faith.
Oh, and by the way, the family adopting her . . . well let's just clarify that Violet will be our niece!!! Ummmmm . . .WOW! How cool is that? She has been given many "alias" names throughout the process, but I am going to officially start calling her by the name her parents, my brother and sister-in-law, have chosen. Sarah. Sarah means "princess" in Hebrew, and that is exactly what she is, and how she'll be treated amongst her three excited big brothers!
As for us, we cannot believe how God has brought this little girl into our lives. We get to have Oliver, Kalli, AND SARAH join the family! Pinch me, because it's just fantastical!!
Friday, February 14, 2014
You may remember from the Struggle and Battle Post that there is a 4-year-old girl at the same orphanage as Oliver. I'm going to call her "Violet". If you did not manage to plow through that extensive post (I don't blame you!), here is an excerpt telling about her:
"We came across a 4-year-old girl who is also at Bethel with Oliver. She had a heart condition that had been surgically corrected, cataracts that had been removed but still left her with low vision, and she is deaf. While she was listed with another agency who had received inquiries about her, it was our understanding there was not a family currently looking at her file. After researching the resources available to us for her care, we were ready to bring her home and determined to fight. Our agency contacted the other agency, an advocate contacted them, and we contacted them. No. No. No. They were not willing to release her file to our agency until roughly March. How is that in the best interest of this child?! When did they forget to be passionate about her having a family??? Frustrating, heart-breaking, to say the least. Our fight was fruitless."
Because of the technicality of her being listed with an agency other than our own, we were forced to move on. Waiting for them to release her file in late March would have caused Oliver to wait longer than we were willing to make him wait. Soon after this, our family found out we were to be blessed with the honor of having Kalli as our daughter!! We are so grateful and thankful!!
There will forever be a place in our hearts for this little one. It is dumbfounding how God brought us from being fearful of her condition, to being ready to bring her home. Since we cannot, we have decided to advocate for this child with all our might. Her family is out there - SOMEWHERE! Could it be you? Maybe parenting a deaf child seems frightening to you, but there are so many resources available to support you! We were delighted to discover that once she moves to the USA, she may be a candidate for cochlear implants! A cochlear implant is a small, complex electronic device that can help to provide a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf. An implant does not restore normal hearing, but it can give a deaf person a useful representation of sounds in the environment and help him or her to understand speech. We watched a video of a child who is deaf receiving her first implant. Witnessing that little child hear sounds for the first time made us weep!!
"Violet" is developmentally behind because no one knew how to work with her for a long time. She is currently receiving excellent care and therapies and making huge strides. Her potential is enormous!
Two grateful children of God who are head-over-heels for one another, best friends and partners in this crazy world! Parents striving to disciple our three incredible children who arrived in our arms in different ways, but fill our hearts with an uncompromising love. Full of imperfections, but trying our best every day . . . well, almost every day (that goes back to the imperfections). THANKFUL, THANKFUL, THANKFUL to know the love of our Savior and our precious family.