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!
Friday, January 24, 2014
If you are checking out our thermometer (right side of the blog), we are now less than $13,000 away. Still a big amount, but look how far God has brought us!!!!
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Thursday, January 16th we received her referral. My goodness did she instantly steal our hearts! She is almost two years old, and currently is fashioning an adorable haircut that involved putting a bowl on her head and cutting around! Seriously, even with the haircut, she is A-DOR-A-BLE! Her smile, her cute frown of concentration, and the way she cocks her head when she is trying to figure something out is super stinkin' precious! We received 7 pictures and 5 videos!
She is listed as "Special Focus" (for more info on that, read this post) because she had oxygen deprivation at birth. It is suggested that she has cerebral palsy, but our doctors feel it is mild or inaccurate. Either way, we are ready and committed to providing any medical procedures, therapies, or treatments needed. We continue to research resources available to help this little one thrive. She has an MRI that does show definite damage from the oxygen deprivation that will possibly manifest itself in learning or developmental delays, but there is no way to predict exactly how or when it might affect her.
The list of names we formulated before seeing her were: Violet, Ruby, Sophia, Zoey, Lucy, Poppy, Laney, Bella, Madison (Maddie for short), but none of those seemed to truly fit her little face and personality. Name meanings are also incredibly significant and important to us. We ended up narrowing it down to Henna (grace of God), Lily (lily), and Kali (beautiful). Actually I really wanted Kalloway, calling her Kali for short, but no one else in this household would bend to my persuasion. Lol!
Finally, we chose Kali Faith, although we may change the spelling of her first name. It's pronounced Kal-ee, the same as if you shortened California and said 'Cali'. Her first and middle names mean "beautiful faith", which is completely symbolic of this journey. Not to mention she's gorgeous!
Now our kiddos names have or mean Grace, Joy, Peace, Peace, and Faith, and they all fill us with LOVE!
When adopting two children at the same time from China, the second child you are matched with must be on a list called "Special Focus". Special Focus children have more moderate to severe special needs, they might be older children, or they simply have been waiting for their family an extended period of time. In our situation, the first child we were matched with came from the Special Focus list. Sweet Oliver had been waiting so long, two and a half years, and so he was designated SF. That meant (we thought) that our second child would be on the list of children with mild special needs. This was our comfort zone considering we were moving to five children! Should've known God's plans would involve being out of our comfort zone - those are the times we have always been blown away by His power and grown exponentially in our relationship with Him.
Sometime in December, we discovered that the Chinese welfare agency was mandating that the second child you are matched with come from SF, regardless of whether your first child was or not. Unfortunately, the only little girls on the SF list at that time had major special needs we felt unprepared to tackle. Thus began our massive search for our daughter.
Many SF children are assigned to specific adoption placement agencies for a certain period of time. The benefit to having children assigned to specific agencies is that the children are actively advocated for. Each agency has a smaller, specific set of children's files that they can show are living, breathing human beings with all sorts of personality quirks. They bring life to the photos and medical jargon!
As we quickly discovered, the downfall to having children assigned to specific agencies is that the majority of adoption agencies DO NOT share their files. This means that if we would like to see the complete file of a child who is not currently assigned to our agency, it's pretty much too bad! We found this heartbreaking in many ways. Specifically, we tried to adopt Oliver's BFF at Bethel. Even though we were the first in "line" to ask for her file with complete certainty we would move ahead to adopt her, we were not with the agency to which she was assigned. We understand they have a responsibility to the families they are working with, but when you have someone definitively prepared to adopt a child and no one at your agency is reviewing that file, the concern should be first and foremost for the child. Although this was a particularly difficult blow, we are happy to report that little sweetheart does have a family adopting her. Thankfully, a family with the agency to whom she was assigned is moving forward. Thankfully, she isn't left waiting.
There were probably in the neighborhood of 10 to 20 other little girls whom we inquired about to no avail. We weren't with the agency who had their files. If we waited until the advocacy timeframes for those agencies ended, it meant Oliver would likely have to wait months because we are only traveling once to bring both children home. We weren't willing to make him wait. Families are allowed to switch agencies, but we could not because we had already been matched with Oliver through Madison Adoption Associates. (We wouldn't have wanted to switch anyway - we love Madison!!)
Through this time, God was stretching our comfort zone. Originally we had specified a daughter approximately 2 years old or younger. The realization that this was unimportant came through this experience. Our special needs checklist, where each family checks what conditions they are willing to accept, was broadening as our hearts opened and our knowledge expanded.
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. We made a decision to advocate for this little girl, and hope we have many details to share down the road about this beautiful and amazing child.
Then something crazy happened. Two hours after our phone conversation with Lifeline, our agency sent us a referral for a little girl named Henna! After all the searching, were we actually going to be placed in a position where we had to choose? We could not bear the thought of that. We have shed so many tears looking at the pictures and videos of these children, wondering who will have the family they deserve and who will be left to wait. To have to choose, knowing one could be left waiting the rest of their lives, was entirely too painful.
Our local pediatrician and a doctor specializing in international adoption file review looked over Henna's medical diagnosis. We spent several days in prayer. Sunday night, we decided if the morning came and there was still no decision from the family at Lifeline, we were ready to move ahead with Henna. Yesterday we accepted her referral, which means she is our daughter!! Find more about her on this blog post: "Hudson, Party of SEVEN!!"
Meanwhile, we are still praying for the little girl at Lifeline with autism. We pray the family still considering bringing her home says YES! We continue to pray for a family for the sweet one at Bethel who is deaf. Will you pray for these girls, too?
Saturday, December 28, 2013
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.