Saturday, November 6, 2010
Now that we're home safe and sound, I've removed my privacy settings. Whew. I'm so relieved that I don't have to be as concerned about jeopardizing anyone's safety!
And if you've been reading, you've probably realized that I haven't posted one single thing about our trip. I should have known better that I wouldn't have time.
But now that we're home with five kids, I should have plenty of time to post, right? : ) Well, I'm hopeful. I journaled throughout our trip and I'm hoping to post most of that so I can share with you all the amazing things the Lord has done. Stay tuned!
Monday, September 20, 2010
Here's the thing, though. We're getting closer to the end and I'm feeling the need to increase our security. There's some of you who read along that I don't really know in "real life" and are reading along perhaps because you're on your own adoption journey or because you were wanting more information about an African adoption.
I'm so sorry, but in the next few days, I'm going to be tightening our security and only allowing access to those of you who we know personally, are with the same organization, or we have at least conversed with online. If you are not in one of those categories, I really am sorry. I hope that no one is offended. My current plan is to remove all privacy settings once our kiddos are home safe and sound and return back to a normal blog. So you should all be able to read about our journey at some point, just maybe not while it's actually happening.
(Although, who am I kidding? I'm not sure I'm going to have time to blog about any of it anyway!! You might not miss out on anything!) : )
And for those of you that I do know personally, if I accidentally delete you as a reader, please forgive me! Don't take it personally - it's probably just that I didn't recognize your email. Just please send me an email and ask me to add you again and I'd be happy to.
I really do appreciate all of my readers - your prayers for our family & your encouraging words mean so much. I'm so sorry to have to do this, but our kiddos' safety has to come first. I just can't wait for the time when I can blog freely again without concern of adoption snafus!
Friday, September 10, 2010
So Tuesday night and Wednesday morning I had a wonderful opportunity to tell the Lord that I still loved Him, still would worship Him, and still would follow Him even though I didn't get what I wanted. He's not a genie in a bottle and I absolutely trust that His ways are perfect.
Well, Wednesday morning we got a phone call from our attorney and while Thursday was not-to-be, she had great news for us!!! I will just say that things are rolling right along and the end of this part of the journey (and the beginning of the next chapter!) is in sight!!!
We are working with a travel agent and are preparing for the trip of a lifetime!!! Please continue to keep us in your prayers!!!
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Monday, September 6, 2010
(I apologize for the total vagueness of this post. I realize it's probably frustrating. We're just doing it for security purposes and hope you'll understand!)
Along those lines...can I just tell you how hard it is not to share more about all this!?!?!?!?!? Really!!! I can't wait until they're home safe and sound and I can shout from the rooftops how much I love these babies!!
...and share totally cute pictures of them!
In the meantime, I just had to share with you the cutest chubby cheeks in the world (L's) and the cutest baby boy (B) trying to chew his hands (we have lots of these pics...teething, maybe?)
Soon...hopefully soon they'll be home and I'll feel comfortable posting the whole pictures! Only then I'll be posting pictures of them with us!
Monday, August 23, 2010
We are so overjoyed to announce that our sweet little daughter is now officially ours!!! After a much longer wait than we ever would have anticipated, we have an adoption decree!!! Praise God!!!
We received word from our attorney that we have all of her paperwork and that she expects to get her passport this week!!! (Please pray that that will happen...the passport office is often one place where families experience further delays!) Our attorney even said that if all goes well, we may travel mid-October!
Um, hello...remember my last post!?!? We were really struggling with the wait and were beginning to wonder if they'd even be home in 2010. And now maybe October!?!?
Now, to travel in October will still take an act of God in my opinion because the US Embassy has been taking much longer than that, but an act of God is exactly what we've been praying for so we know that all things are possible with Him!!
We also received some updates about how they're doing developmentally. This is the first information we've had of this kind, so it was so great to hear a little more about these little people we love so much. I think I've read the information about 563 times. : ) B is supporting his head, rolling, sitting, very alert, and vocal. L is supporting her head, sitting, alert, and smiley. We haven't seen pictures yet, but we should get some soon. We've been told they are absolutely beautiful! I'm sure they have grown so much since our last photos!
We are just so excited, so relieved, and so encouraged. We're one GIANT step closer to bringing them home! Praise God!!!
Monday, August 16, 2010
O.K. Deep breath. Try to be patient.
When we started this process we had to sign all these papers that said that we understood this process could hit many bumps and delays and could take up to 2 years to complete. But the optimist in me was thinking, "No way. Our kiddos will be home so much faster than that. We just follow these clearly laid out steps and while delays can definitely happen, they surely won't happen to us."
Oh, silly me.
I have to keep telling myself that in the scheme of things, especially in the adoption world, this is still moving relatively quickly. We just signed on in February for Pete's sake! Our dear friends just returned home from China with their daughter and they waited four years for her!
The problem is that when you're stuck in one spot, it just feels like you're going to be there forever. And the not knowing is so hard. If God could just speak to me and tell me, "Missy, don't fret. B & L will be home later than you'd hoped...they'll be ready for you on such and such date, but please trust me on the timing. I needed to do it this way so that X, Y, and Z could happen..." that could just make it so much easier. But faith just doesn't work that way.
So we wait. And we trust that God is in control and B & L will be home in His perfect timing.
We're still waiting for L's adoption decree. Poor little girl has had a delay at every single step in the process. We've been waiting at this particular step for over 11 weeks now. B's adoption decree took 6 1/2 weeks to get and hers has been expedited to try to catch up to his process. We're just praying for news soon!
I've been reading a really cool book lately that was given to me by a friend. It's called Reckless Faith. The author tells amazing stories of how God moves in their orphan ministry in Mexico. It's so very inspiring. Some of the stories I've read lately make me feel like maybe I put God in a box. My prayers for L's adoption process usually go something like this...
"God, we so long to have B & L home with us in their family where they belong. Will you please help L's paperwork process smoothly and quickly? Help us wait for your perfect timing, though. We trust you."
And I just wonder if I shouldn't be praying more along these lines...
"God, YOU are the Amazing One who moves mountains, turns water into wine, and works miracles! God, move mightily in a way that we know without a shadow of a doubt that it's you! Do something bigger than we could even ask or imagine! B & L are yours and you love them more than we do! We know you can do anything! God, we're just excited to see how you will move and will give you all the praise!!"
But even when I do ask for a miracle, I still pray...
"But Lord, even if you don't work in a big, unmistakable way, we still know that it is you working faithfully and deliberately to bring B & L home. We trust you no matter what."
I'm just waiting now to see how He answers my cries to Him. I know He will. And while it may not be the way I want Him to or in my time frame, I know His way is always best.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Monday, July 26, 2010
We did hear last night that she had been hospitalized, most likely due to dehydration. I don't know exactly how that makes me feel. I'm sad and discouraged that she's that sick that she needs to be hospitalized, but also grateful and relieved to know that she's getting great care. She is responding to meds, though, and fighting well and they're hoping that she can go home today. Please pray that God will continue to heal her body! We thank Him for taking care of her and answering our prayers thus far!
Please also pray for her adoption process. I realize that as a whole this adoption is happening quickly, but when you're stuck in one spot it sure doesn't feel that way. We still don't have her adoption decree. After we have that, we have to wait 30 days for a certificate of non-appeal (essentially saying that no one challenged the adoption). Then we can apply for her passport. After we get her passport, we will schedule a drop-off appointment with the US Embassy and several weeks after that, our friends there will do the interview at the US Embassy for us. We won't travel to get them until all of the paperwork is ready. My guess is at this point that our best case scenario is the end of October.
This just worries me some because our little guy is totally ready to come home. We have his passport and everything. I just don't want him to get sick while he waits. We're looking into the possibility that he could come home earlier, but it doesn't look likely. We think we'd have to start the entire process with USCIS all over again for our little girl - that they would be treated as two separate adoptions. That would delay our daughter's coming home too much so we wouldn't want to do that.
Please just pray for our kiddos' health and safety and for God to just move this paperwork through and bring them home soon. I can't even tell you how ready we are to have them home with us.
Friday, July 23, 2010
I guess I need to give you a little background first just because I've never even announced this on my blog, but we have not only our son waiting for us, but also a daughter now, too. The first little boy did end up to be unavailable. He will forever hold a spot in our hearts, but we will likely never know what has happened to him. Honestly, I shudder to think about it because I really don't know how a little baby could survive in the place he was in, but I know that God is good and that He has a plan for all of us. I do pray for a good life for the sweet little guy and my hope is that he has a biological family member caring for him now.
A few weeks later we accepted a referral of an itty-bitty baby girl, who is just a few weeks younger than our son. We went through quite a trial waiting for okay for her and starting her process, but after about one month she was finally moved out of the orphanage and into the same loving foster home as her soon-to-be brother. We saw a picture of her and ohmygoodness is she ever gorgeous.
But right now she needs our prayers. We got word today that she is quite sick and is being treated for malaria and typhoid. Honestly, this scares the poo out of me. She may be a world away and I know that I have never held her in my own arms or kissed her sweet face, but she is my baby girl. She is precious and innocent and sweet and adorable and all things good in the world but tonight she is sick and may be fighting for her life.
Will you please pray for her? Pray for healing for her little body. Pray for strength and wisdom for her foster mama. Pray for peace for us. It is so very hard to know that you have a sick child but you can't do anything to help her.
Well, that's not true.
We can pray. And praying we are, believeyoume. We're just trusting God right now to care for her for us. And while I desperately long to hold her and tell her mommy loves her and that she'll be okay, I know that she's in His arms and being cared for by Him.
Prayer is a great thing and very powerful. Thanks for joining with us in it.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Oh, just think of all the formula, beans, rice, and medicine $20,000 will buy!!! There will be food for beyond hungry children and medicine for kiddos sick with completely preventable diseases, but most of all there will be hope.
And hope is priceless.
I know I already said it, but I can't say it enough. Thank you. Thank you! Thank you!!!!
Monday, July 12, 2010
But....here's something I CAN say. Please vote in the Chase Community Giving competition on Facebook. They are giving away a lot of money to the top 200 charities with the most votes. Right now, Our Family Adoptions (the awesome organization that is helping us bring our kiddos home) is in the top 200 and is eligible for a$20,000 grant to feed, educate, clothe, and care for the orphans left behind in Congo! But, we have to stay there!!! Voting ends TONIGHT at midnight. Please, please, please take just one minute to:
1) Go vote for Our Family Adoptions (click the link above - it's right under my header) - you have to allow, like, and vote
2) Share on your wall that you voted and encourage (beg, plead if necessary!) your friends to do the same
3) Enter to win some cool goodies from Congo on my friend, Megan's blog - she will do a drawing to give them away to someone who has voted
and if you're really gung-ho (and who wouldn't be!?!? I mean, it's orphans who SO desperately need us!!!!), you can also:
4) vote for 19 other charities to earn gift votes - you'll earn one after five total votes and one after 20
5) send those gift votes to someone you know will use them TODAY (but please don't send them to me - I've already used my maximum)
6) call, email, private message on facebook, tweet, text, whatever it takes your friends and loved ones to ask them to vote for OFA.
We are sooooo close, you guys. I just couldn't stand it if we lost by a handful of votes at this point!!
EVERY vote counts! Please vote TODAY!!!!!
Saturday, May 1, 2010
I have spent hours researching SUVs, but also narrow car seats. I can't tell you how many google searches I've done on "narrow car seats," "15 inch booster," "fit three car seats in a town and country," etc. etc. Seriously. I'm a nut.
Here's the maddening thing, though. I'd find one place that would say a particular car seat or booster was 15" wide and I'd get all excited, but then find the exact same car seat on a different website and it would say it was 20" wide. Um, hello. That's quite a difference.
As you saw earlier, we had given up on thinking we could fit three car seats across. But then came a new car commercial for Chrysler. They specifically mention in it that if you have five kiddos to haul around, their minivan is for you.
What!?! Am I missing something here??? I am the mom with five kiddos to haul around, but so far my Town and Country isn't working.
That gave us hope again, though, that maybe we could find car seats that are narrow enough. So for our exciting Friday night out, we headed to some of those giant baby stores. Love them, yet hate them, too. They're just so overwhelming. I saw a pregnant first time mama with the registry gun last night with a look on her face that said get me out of here. I'm tired. I'm overwhelmed. I'd just like to sit my big 'ol pregnant behind down on one of those cozy gliders.
Oh girl, I was so there seven plus years ago. Seems like yesterday.
Anyways...our car seat search. Babies R Us was not so helpful this time around. We went there first and felt pretty discouraged. But Buy Buy Baby? They're my new best friend. They had one of the car seats I've been researching like crazy and they let us take two of them out to our van to try them to see if they will fit. Praise God, they did!!!! It is going to be rather tight back there, and Josh may have a heck of a time getting his seat belt actually buckled, but they fit!!!! And they might have been $269 EACH, but of course I had coupons and when you compare $460ish to $28,000ish, it's a total no brainer!
So we're now the proud owners of two of these fabulous car seats:
And we get to keep our minivan! Hooray!!
I'm sure that we'll be looking for a larger vehicle a couple of years from now since our kiddos are only going to keep getting bigger and bigger. But I'm glad that it doesn't have to be in the same year that we're incurring plenty of costs already. Plus, I think it will be much easier to have an SUV when the kids are a little bit bigger. I sure wasn't looking forward to crawling over the second row of seats to somehow buckle in the girls in the back! Or, for that matter, lifting an infant carrier with a baby in it up and over into the middle of the SUV.
Hubby, though? I think he's kind of sad we're not going to be getting a truck. I mean, he's happy that we don't have to spend all the money now, but he's much more of a truck/SUV guy than a minivan guy. Someday, babe. Someday.
Monday, April 26, 2010
I'll be honest. I felt kind of sad about it. With a blog, I felt like I could be a voice for all of the orphans in Congo. I could help raise awareness and maybe, just maybe, spur someone on to action. And it was working! My little blog was generating 300 - 400 hits per week! I know, I know...in the blogosphere that's not that many, but it was exciting to me! That's several hundred people who may not have ever thought twice about Congo or the people there.
But at the same time, the warnings to go private had me freaked out a bit, too. I knew child trafficking could be an issue. And I worried a little, too, about a ransom situation. Beyond that, though, I wasn't sure if there was a specific concern or what was prompting this recommendation.
My ultimate conclusion? Better safe than sorry. I took the blog down right away, because ultimately I do not care to do anything that would put Blake or any other Congolese children or adoptive families in any danger.
We spoke with our attorney last night, though, and she put some of our fears at ease. The main reason for the recommendation that we go private was just that while our adoption is being processed, it is best to not have our information fall into the wrong hands. A blog is like a newspaper for the world to read, and anyone looking for a bribe, or just to cause trouble, could read it.
We did talk about the risk of danger, too, and her point was that Congo has been an unstable country for years with lots of extreme violence. There has been a recent case where some Red Cross workers were kidnapped (and thankfully, released) which caught the west's attention. Due to that, there's been more travel warnings posted lately. As our attorney pointed out, though, millions of innocent people have unfortunately died in recent years. It's completely wrong that the west doesn't want to pay attention until there are Red Cross workers involved. What about the MILLIONS of innocent victims who have lost their lives in the last fifteen years? Does no one care about them!?!?
Yes!! Yes, there are people who care!! And most importantly, God cares!!!
So yes, I'm being more careful with my blog. I want to protect our son and all of the other children in Congo. But I still feel so torn because I want the world to know that the people of Congo need us.
The women there who are violently raped and left for dead need us.
The people who have fled to a refugee camp to try to find safety, in spite of the fact that there aren't enough resources there to care for everyone, need us.
The boys around Josh's age who are being forced to pick up a machine gun and terrorize innocent people need us.
The families just trying to survive and live their lives in peace need us.
The babies, the children, the innocent who have no one to love them...I'm in tears thinking about it. They're hungry. They're scared. They're sick with completely preventable diseases. They need us.
They need us to be Jesus' hands and feet. They need us to love them. They need us to care.
I can't tell the world anymore. But I can tell you. I just did. And maybe you can tell someone else. And slowly but surely maybe we can make a difference.
***(insert pause here, while I take a deep breath)***
Our attorney told us that it is possible our adoption will take longer as there may be some additional hoops to jump through, but she does not feel at this point we have any reason to worry that we won't be able to get our children, or even safely travel to get them.This entire adoption journey is a leap of faith for us. All this recent news is just one more way that we'll need to trust that God is in control and that He will work out all of the details in His perfect time!
So, welcome to my private blog. I'm glad to have you on this journey with us. I'm thankful for your prayers and your support for our family... and also for the people of Congo.
While I would love for you to share with others things that you learn about what's happening in Congo, I would ask that you please not repost any of our personal information found here (especially about our adoption) without our permission. Thank you!
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Imagine our surprise then when we returned from our interracial adoption training today to see new pics in our inbox!!!!
Oh. My. Goodness. I just stared at those pictures for an insanely long amount of time - over and over again, inspecting every single detail. Admiring his sweet little hands and face. Worrying because his belly seems big (it has since dawned on me that they use cloth diapers, which I'm not used to. He's just an itty bitty guy in a giant cloth diaper - that would easily explain the big belly!)
As I sat there studying the pictures, I alternated between really big grins and tears. I'm so touched by seeing the genuine love and care in the face of (who I'm assuming is) his foster mama. Grateful doesn't even come close to explaining what I feel for her and her family for caring for Blake while we wait to bring him home. And my baby? I cannot wait to hold him in my arms and kiss his sweet, sweet face.
He's so beautiful, so tiny, so precious, so helpless. So perfect. So very loved.
I especially love that it's called the Kool Bus! (Does it really need the sign? It kind of speaks for itself, don't you think!?!) And if you know me personally, you know that nothing really describes me better than, "Bad to the bone." hahaha!!! : )
Can't you just see us pulling up to soccer and baseball practices, the grocery store, swim lessons, and church in it!?!?
Crack. Me. Up.
It is "kool" and all, but I think we'll keep searching!
Friday, April 16, 2010
GMC Yukon XL
Anyone have any feedback on any of these? Love 'em? Hate 'em? I'm so nervous about driving something so huge, but I really have no choice. Because I'll probably need a double stroller with me on a regular basis and we like to travel, we want something that has some storage space, in addition to being able to seat our whole family safely.
And if anyone knows of someone who's wanting to sell one of these lovely SUV's, or even if they want to give one away (hey, a girl can dream!), please contact us! With all the expenses we have coming up (GULP) to complete two international adoptions, buy a new vehicle, get a new bunk bed and mattresses for the girls, and purchase lots of extra baby supplies, we'd like to be as wise as we can with the resources God has blessed us with! We know He has called us to this, and we know He will provide, it's just when you look at it all on paper that it seems crazy!
Thursday, April 15, 2010
I am a total planner. I have a list (and most likely a spreadsheet to go with it) for just about everything. Seriously. I'm that lady. So it goes without saying that as we've talked about names over the past couple of months, if there was one we liked even a little, it went on a master list I had. One of these names was one that I've loved forever, but Hubby wasn't quite as sure. As I read through the big list, I got to that one and looked at him and said, "I'm assuming you don't want ***** on the short list?" And he surprised me by saying it was fine to put it on the short list. Love that man! : )
Well, we ended up with four names on our short list and I looked up the meanings of each of the names. When I looked up this particular name that I've always loved, it showed its meaning as "dark, bright." Our first thought was that that seemed contradictory, but then it dawned on us. He has this beautiful dark hair, eyes, and skin, AND he's such a bright spot in our lives! (Not to mention that finding bright spots is my blog title!!) It just felt perfect for our sweet little man.
That name is Blake.
Now onto the middle name...
We not only wanted him to have a Congolese middle name but we also found out that he had to have a Congolese name as part of his name. So, we began looking for names in Swahili or Lingala. Lingala names aren't exactly easy to find. We did find two that we liked in Swahili, but when we sent them on, we were told that those particular names aren't used in Congo. Try #2. We found a few more Swahili and African names, and also included some French names on the list. Nope. Those wouldn't work either. We finally found a Bible Table of Contents in Lingala and really liked the Lingala version of Isaiah, which is Yisaya. We sent the name off to our attorney and she thought it sounded nice. Only then we found out that he has a name they've been calling him and were asked if we could include that name. We were first sent us two names. The second one we weren't crazy about, but we really did like the one they've been calling him, and the meaning is very cool. It's Omole (we think it's pronounced oh-MOLE-ay), which means "His choice." We completely feel like God has brought us all together, and that He chose us for each other. That name was perfect, too!
So that's how we came upon his name. Blake Omole it is. Our (beautiful!) dark, bright spot, who was chosen by God. We love it, and we love him!!
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
It's a journey filled with ups and downs and joys and stresses different from anything I've known up to this point in my life. A journey where I'm meeting people along the way that I'd otherwise never have gotten to know. I've said it before and I'll say it again that so many adoptive families are just plain awesome. I am just so very encouraged by adoptive families I personally know, but also by people I've never met, only having talked by phone or even only maybe by following their blogs. I just think it's really cool how God brings people into your life and I'm grateful for the people he's brought to my path through our adoption.
Tonight I had a meeting with a group of moms who all live within 30 minutes of me or so and are all adopting from Congo!!! Is that not amazing!?! I was so encouraged to hear their stories and see the pictures of their beautiful children and know that we are not alone on this journey. I count it a true blessing to have met them tonight and to be able to share in their joys and fears and walk on this journey with them.
Just feeling blessed.
In other adoption news, we don't have any further word on the one-month old. We are still waiting. Hubby and I are feeling more and more, though, like this may not happen and we are feeling our hearts open more to a different child instead. Not that we're closing the door, because if in fact he is still available, we would LOVE to be his Mommy and Daddy. We are just realistically coming to terms with the fact that the likeliness of that happening is becoming less every day. I think no matter what happens, though, there will forever be a spot in my heart for him, wondering about his life and praying for God's blessings for him.
At the same time, and in happier news, I am falling more and more in love every day with the little guy we know will be ours. I look at his picture about 1,000 times throughout the day and (confession time) may be caught from time to time talking to him via his picture. No, I'm not crazy! I promise! I just have this innate desire to hold him, kiss him, and be his mother. I can't do that when I'm halfway around the world, folks! This mama is desperate! : )
Our home study is written and we're just awaiting approval and edits from everyone who needs to see it. We've been working on our dossier, too, and I feel like we're making really good progress. My hope is that we would be finished with all of our paperwork by this time next week. Then the real waiting begins! We have plenty to do, though, to keep us busy while we wait! We'll move Megan in with Sarah, work on the nursery, shop for a new car that will fit our family of 7, buy any new baby gear that we'll need (if we have two children relatively close in age we'll need two of most of the baby gear), and hopefully have occasional updates about our precious ones in Congo. But we'll also be enjoying our family as it is now. We do not care to wish away any time together, even though our hearts long for our family to be completed.
This journey sure is a crazy, but wonderful one. I'm so grateful God has us on it and is guiding us through it all! Thanks for following along! (Oh, and if you're following, I'd love for you to let me know! Just click over on the right to become a follower! There's no pressure, it's just fun to know there are actual people who read along.) : )
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Sunday, March 21, 2010
One of my biggest fears was that I wouldn't love an adopted child the same way I love my biological children. Now everyone we've ever talked with who has a biological child and an adopted child says that they had the same fear and that of course you do love them the same. It's a hard concept to understand, though, before they're here with you.
I remember being pregnant with Sarah, wondering how I could possibly love another little person like I loved my Josh. But I reasoned that she's a girl, so it will feel different, and in that situation, different could equal the same. And you know what? Of course I feel the same about Sarah that I do about Josh.
Then came a pregnancy with Megan. This time I had a boy and a girl. Could I love Megan the same as I loved both of them? Again, of course...yes!! The way God grows mommy hearts is truly amazing. With each child, my heart seemed to grow just the right amount to fill it up.
This time my babies aren't growing in my tummy, but I definitely feel them growing in my heart.
While I wait to find out who my two new babies are, I really do feel my heart expanding and I already feel so much love for these little people I've never even met. I watch Gotcha Day videos on YouTube and cry like I would when I'd watch A Baby Story when I was pregnant. I imagine what it will be like when Hubby flies halfway around the world and calls me to tell me he's got them. I just think I'll be so emotional!! And when I think about being at the airport to see them, and hold them, and kiss them for the first time? I really can't even imagine what that moment will feel like. The suspense while I wait for them to get through that gate will be excruciating!! I know they may not feel comfortable with me at first, and I know I don't want to bawl like a baby and scare them, but I just know it will be such a special day with so many emotions swirling around.
I just love how God is changing my heart more and more each day. My fears are melting and in its place is love. I'd definitely choose love any day over fear. It feels much better.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Yesterday all five of us had our physicals. Close your eyes and just picture - wait, what am I thinking? If you close your eyes, you can't read what I'm saying. Anyways...just do your best to picture five people, a nurse, and a doctor in a maybe 9 x 9 room. Yeah, a little crazy. Now just remember that three of those people are under 4' tall and aren't overly fond of the fact that they're at the doctor's office. Poor Megan started crying when we walked by the scale. Not sure what the scale ever did to her, but whatever it was, it must have been bad.
Remember what I said about the TB tests? I was worried about how they'd go. Josh decided we should go oldest to youngest, so Mommy and Daddy went first and then it was his turn. I could tell he wanted to be brave, but he was so nervous. Poor kid had to be poked a couple of times because he was writhing around so much. By the end, he was SCREAMING. And Megan was scared just from watching and was sobbing. Sarah went next and hopped up there brave as could be. She did start crying rather loudly though once the needle actually went in. And Josh and Megan were still crying then, too.
All 3 of them crying at once.
In a 9 x 9ish room.
Fun? Mmm...not exactly.
My poor kiddos. The poor nurse who had to work through the screaming. The poor people waiting in the waiting room. It's really no fun having to pin your children to the examining table and watch them scream and cry, completely helpless, while they look at you to make it all stop.
I thought it was cute that they all were so proud of themselves after the fact. They commented that it wasn't fun, but that they were glad to do it for our new babies. Whew. I'm just glad it's done. Now we just can't forget to go back to have the tests read. If we miss the 48 - 72 hour window, the test has to be redone. Um, no thank you.
*On a more serious note, we did have one strange health thing come up for one of us. We're currently attempting to treat it, but further testing may be needed if this doesn't work. Will you just pray with us that it will be healed by this treatment and that it will not be anything serious? Thanks!*
And then today, we met with our social worker for the first time. She is so super nice and really easy to talk to. She first asked the kids a few questions. Sarah, unfortunately wasn't feeling well (she has an ear infection) so she didn't really have anything to say. Megan ran around singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star for her. When asked about what he likes about being a big brother, Josh said that he, "loves to play with his sisters" and that he's "excited to have a little brother because my whole life I've been longing for a brother...Whatever longing means." We grinned and our social worker asked him what he thought longing means. He said, "Wanting. I heard that somewhere." Too cute.
Hubby and the kids went upstairs after a little while and I had my individual interview with her. We just talked about my childhood, my family, my educational and professional background, and my life as a stay-at-home/homeschooling mom. Hubby will do his individual interview next and then we'll do the home tour and couples interview.
I'm glad we're moving along well. I had been nervous about the whole process, just not really knowing what to expect. Everyone kept assuring me that it's nothing nerve wracking or scary, just time consuming. And actually helpful.
While we're not finished with everything yet, I'd say I'd have to agree.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
It's so cliche, but time really does just fly by. Especially when you're having fun.
I'm so grateful for Megan. She is such a sweet and silly little girl and is such a blessing to our family. I'm so glad God chose us to be her parents! I think back to when Hubby and I were dating and how we'd talk about the family we'd like to have one day - two kids, maybe three if the first two were the same gender. Ha! God had much better things in store for us!! We had our two, but still didn't feel "done." He blessed us with our Megs, and now we're expecting two more! Having five little ones was certainly not our original plan, but I am so grateful for all of our blessings!
Megan, I know that our family would not be complete without you. Your joy is contagious, your cheesy grin is infectious, and your snuggles warm all of our hearts. I love watching you grow and learn and you surprise us every day by new things you've picked up on without us realizing it. Some day I'll look back and smile when I think of the dozens of times a day you want to share a knock knock joke that you've made up. Hearing you sing Jesus Loves Me (interrupted by your made up Precious, Precious, Precious song) has to be one of the most adorable things on the planet, maybe second only to your big eyes asking me to dance with you one more time before naptime. And then when you're all snuggly cute and you want to kiss our cheeks over and over and over again? Completely precious. You're growing up more and more every day and I don't want to take for granted one wonderful moment with you. I love you so very much and am so blessed to be your Mommy. Happy Birthday, Megan! I'll never stop loving you!
Friday, March 12, 2010
I had a call today from our social worker! And guess what? I've met her before! Such a small little world! I don't know her well by any means, but it's comforting to me that it's someone I've at least met before. Even though many people have told us not to stress about the home visit, I had in my mind a picture of some really mean lady grilling us about every little detail of our lives! I know...I know...I worry too much.
The good news is that we've got all of our appointments scheduled. The only thing is that we won't finish our meetings until the 28th. She said it would take about two weeks after that for her to write the report, and that we should allow about one week for editing. So when you do the math, it's about April 19th before we're done with the homestudy process.
We would have liked for it all to move a little more quickly, but we are trusting that it's all in God's hands and it's all happening in His perfect timing!
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Well, here it is late Thursday night and we've heard nothing yet.
I'm trying so hard to be patient. I know that they have to get through our paperwork first. I know that they're probably really busy. I know that it really will all happen in God's perfect timing.
But ohmygosh, every time the phone rings I wonder if it's going to be our social worker! And if I'm this crazed now, I seriously can't imagine what I'll be like when I'm expecting the phone to ring with a referral!!
OK, breathe. It'll happen. It really will. I guess God just needs me to learn a little bit more about patience first, huh? : )
So in other news, we had a first around our house today...
I have two words for you. Food. Fight.
Only it wasn't on Animal House. It was in my house! My mom called during lunchtime and while I was finishing my lunch and chatting with her I started the dishes ('cause you know...that's the way we multitasking moms work!) I was bending down to put a dish in the dishwasher, chatting away with my mom when I saw something hit the ground next to me. Bread.
Oh no they didn't.
Josh, Sarah, and Megan were all tearing apart their sandwiches and tossing them at each other. And they were totally cracking up while doing it.
And I couldn't help but thinking for a moment (and my mom said it, so I know she was thinking it also)...we're adding two more!!
Now of course, the kids and I had a conversation about how throwing food is absolutely not allowed, and I in no way let on to them that there was anything okay about the event. But, I will tell you that the accompanying laughter during the "fight" was pretty cute.
And while I'm sure that adding two more will only add to the craziness at times (and yes, I'm human...there are times that I want to shut myself in the pantry to get away from the noise), I love the sound of life that fills our home. Life, laughter, and love. And I will only love it that much more when there's two more little gigglers added to the mix.
So while I'm waiting for that phone to ring, there's certainly no loss for noise. And I wouldn't have it any other way.
Well, just maybe without the flying food.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Hubby just sent all of it via email to our home study provider! Whoohooo!!!! Here's what all was included:
- Birth certificates
- Marriage license
- Hubby's autobiography
- My autobiography
- Hubby's "Me As A Person" (two-page list of questions about yourself)
- My "Me As A Person"
- Our Transracial/Transcultural inventory (one-page list of questions)
- Financial statement
- Most recent tax information
- Releases for criminal background/sex and violent offender registry checks (for me and Hubby)
- Releases for Child Protective Services history checks (for all five of us)
So, the remaining steps (as I understand them...and I could totally be missing something!):
- Medical exams (including TB tests) for all five of us - scheduled for next week
- Blood work and urinalysis for me and Hubby - scheduled for this week
- Employment letter (they get this for us from Hubby's employer)
- 4 Reference letters (they get these from the references we gave them)
- Local Police and Sheriff record check (we have to go to our county sheriff's office and request something that states we do not have a record.)
- The home visit (which we've been told will take a big part of one day)
That's it! We just have to wait for all of our approvals and then once our home visit takes place, she said it would take a couple of weeks for our social worker to put it all together. They will send us and OFA a draft, we make any necessary changes, and then we're ready to put together our I600A (petition to US Gov't to allow us to adopt)! After that's done, we start putting together our dossier (documents necessary to send to Congo) and wait for our referral!
So like I said, this is just the first round of paperwork, but I'm glad we're on our way!!
We're coming, babies!!! Mommy and Daddy love you so much and can't wait for you to be home with us!!!
I mean HATE!!
HATE WITH A PASSION!!!!
Hands down, potty training is the WORST part of parenting!
Sorry...I don't hide my feelings well. : )
After spending months, maybe even more than a year trying to get Josh and Sarah to not only pee in the potty, but also go poo poo there, guess what???
Little Megan just pooped IN THE POTTY!!!!
She came up to me with a diaper in hand and asked, "Mommy, change my diaper?"
I asked her if she had gone poo poo and she said no. I asked her if she needed to go poo poo and she said yes. I asked her if she wanted to go in her potty and she said yes. So I took off her diaper for her and she wandered in there. I have to admit, I didn't think it would happen (we've had lots of false alarms before) so I just went about my work. A minute later, though, Sarah called, "Mommy, Megan went poo poo!"
And by golly, she really had! And lots of it! (I thought about taking a picture, but didn't really think you'd all enjoy that! You can thank me later.) So we jumped up and down and did the happy dance - all four of us in our little downstairs bathroom. That had to have been a funny sight!
We haven't started any official potty training yet with her. In fact, the first time she ever pee peed in the potty was last Friday night when she suckered our neighbor into taking her potty. I couldn't believe it! She did it again on Sunday for us. This was only the third time in her whole life that she's used the potty and it was for #2!!! Unbelievable!!!
Way to go, Megs!!! Now if you'd just like to complete this little potty training bit this easily, I'll be the happiest little mommy in the neighborhood.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
But thankfully God provided a beautiful afternoon and we were able to get outside and play for the first time in months. The moment I put Megan in the swing and pushed her she just started cracking up. Between hearing her laugh, watching my big kids run around with all their friends in the neighborhood, and getting some good old fashioned sunshine and fresh air, I began to feel much better.
I talked through my fears and concerns with one of my dearest friends who has been through this home study process, and she was so supportive and encouraging. She understood my feelings and fears, but encouraged me to take them to the Lord and just to continue to trust Him through this process. We do completely believe He's led us thus far, and so now it's only a matter of continuing onto the next step. One step at a time...
I just think it's kind of a strange feeling that with an adoption you continually have lists of things to do, and it almost feels like with every step of the process you're choosing over and over that this is what you want. When you are pregnant biologically, there's no turning back! I don't really think it's a bad thing that you follow all these steps and have all these opportunities for examination, it's just different from what I've previously experienced.
Well, we finally had some chunks of time to sit down and start our paperwork this weekend. It really isn't as daunting as it seems, it's just time consuming. I believe I can honestly say I've never answered so many questions about myself in my whole life. In the last two days, we've completed extensive autobiographies about ourselves, a five page paper filled with questions titled "Me as a Person", and a whole page of questions about how we feel about transracial/transcultural adoption. We've also made a big dent in our criminal background releases and financial backgrounds. I chatted with our doctor's office on Friday figuring out all we need to do for our medical checks. I also chatted today with our lawyer with OFA going over requirements for this step and the upcoming one. She was very encouraging as well.
While I may have started the weekend nervous and overwhelmed, I'm feeling much better about it all. It actually is starting to fall into place and it wasn't as bad as I thought it'd be. Now that is a bright spot!
Thursday, March 4, 2010
(Sorry...I don't know how to get the cute little Youtube video screen to show in my blog. I realize this is so old school...you'll actually have to click the link above!)
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Monday, March 1, 2010
Yep…it’s an adoption.
Well, I’m really excited because I have wanted a brother for a long time.
I’m so excited that we might get a girl.
Megan, what do you think about adopting two more kids?
So what do you think about it, guys?
I’m excited to have a brother because I’ve really wanted a brother for a long time. I’m excited to share my toys and have another kid in our family, because I’ve always wanted to adopt a brother and sister and I just love having brothers and sisters. I’m used to a sister. I’d also like to take care of baby brothers because I like to play with boys. And I like to play with my sisters, too.
I think I’m happy. I want them here now.
Are you nervous about having new brothers or sisters?
NO! I’m happy.
No, I don’t feel nervous, because we’re going to have some new kids and I’m going to be happy. I’m so happy because I can see my brothers and if we’re going to get a sister, we can have another sister.
I’ll give lots of hugs and kisses, and I’ll ask to hold the baby.
Saturday, February 27, 2010
But each time I sit down to write that post, another post just tugs at my heart. Only it's not mine. It's one that a new friend of mine whom I've not even met wrote.
The adoption community is a really awesome group of people with amazing hearts. I've added some links over on the right side of my page if you'd like to look around some of these great adoption blogs. Megan's blog is the one that I found that very first night we even learned about Congo and I was hooked. She's a great writer and I've loved following her journey to get their son. She just returned home one week ago from Congo and posted yesterday about what it was like to visit the orphanage in Kinshasa. It's that post that has me sidetracked. It's been on my heart for the last 24 hours.
I will warn you...it's not an easy post to read. But I hope you will anyways. It will trouble you. But, it's so easy when you know that there are 5 million children just like these who so desperately need help and hope to just dismiss them all, figuring there's no possible way to help the situation. But when I read it, my heart wonders if any of those faces I see are my children's. These could be OUR children's stories. These literally could be pictures of them.
Here is the post.
And after you read it, will you DO something to help? I don't have the answers about how to fix the problems in Congo, but I know of at least a few things we can each do to help:
1. Pray. Seriously, the problems in Congo are so severe that it seems that only God Almighty could fix them. We can't underestimate the power of prayer.
2. Support any families you may know who are adopting one of these children. Adoption is not an easy journey and much encouragement is needed throughout the application process, the wait, and certainly once the kiddos come home. We feel so blessed to have such a great network of support. Please know it's appreciated and needed! Some families are not so fortunate.
3. If you feel led to help financially, the not-for-profit that is helping us with our adoption not only helps kids find forever families, but also provides ongoing assistance to the children remaining in Congo. There's a link right on their homepage if you'd like to make a donation. Or, if the online giving thing isn't your thing, their contact information is right there, too.
I have to believe that together, and with God's help, we CAN make a difference.
Friday, February 26, 2010
Whew. Breathe. Yes...really 2. And crazy? Maybe. : )
So here's the story at how we arrived at 2...
Anytime we ever talked about an interracial adoption, I would tell Hubby that I thought it would be cool if we adopted 2 so they wouldn't feel as singled out. And he would say to me, "Are you nuts? That's five kids!"
So these last few weeks as we've been feeling God leading us very specifically to Congo, he's the one who has been saying to me that he felt like God was leading him to two children instead of just one. And now that it was becoming a reality and not just something to dream about for the future, I was the one who wasn't so sure.
Five kids - three of whom would be 2 and under? How would I do my grocery shopping? Travel? Eat out? Watch all of their soccer games? Give my best to our homeschool? Will people still want to get together with us to hang out? I mean, there will be seven of us. That's a lot of people and a lot of mouths to feed. Will we ever have a moment of quiet again? Ever? Will we have enough money left over after we pay for this adoption and feed and clothe seven people for fun things? What will we drive? (We can't fit five car seats in our minivan.) And the questions and worries go on and on...
But here's the thing...All the reasons I had for not adopting two were purely selfish. I want to be comfortable. My flesh cries out that it should be about me. But it's so not. And in my heart, I don't want it to be.
God just slowly and graciously showed me that being a Christian isn't about being comfortable. It's about taking up my cross and following Him. And that's not something that is easy to do.
First, He showed me through scripture. Colossians 3:1-2 totally grabbed my attention one day while I was busy planning our vacations for the year. It says, "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." It just dawned on me that while I'm worried about all of the things of the world, there are babies dying because there's no one to help.
He spoke to me through prayer, and as I slowly gave Him my fears and my worries, I felt Him telling me to just trust Him. "Be still and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10)
He even used some blogs to speak to me. Go figure! : ) I think the most powerful one and the one that resonated most to me was this one here. There's another amazing blog called the Journey which chronicles the life of a 21 year-old could be college co-ed who instead has devoted her life to following God, wherever He may lead. He happened to take her to Uganda. She has adopted 14 beautiful girls. Yes, 14. By herself. And did you catch that she's 21? Reading her blog definitely challenged me to look at my life and wonder if I'm living it for myself or for Him.
Now please don't read me wrong. I'm not saying that we all have to move overseas like this girl did. And I'm not saying that everyone should adopt two kids from Congo. These kind of decisions are responses to God's specific leading and take some serious prayer and consideration. I'm simply saying that God has really been teaching me a lot about what it means to really follow Christ. If we want to follow Him with all that we are and we're truly seeking His will, He's going to call us to things that are beyond ourselves. I mean, if we're only living life doing things we can accomplish on our own then we don't really need Him, do we?
We're feeling stretched here. If I told you otherwise, I'd be lying. But it's a good stretch. It's a stretch to get us beyond ourselves. Beyond focusing on the things of this world, and instead seeing things and people the way God sees them.
Is there something God is calling you to and you're scared because it will stretch you unlike anything else? Don't just say no. Seek Him. Cry out to Him. Trust Him.
You see, it will be a little crazy around here. This adoption will cost a lot of money. We will need a new vehicle. It will be harder to go on vacations and out to dinner. My days will be more hectic. And loud. But those are all earthly concerns. When we choose not to focus on those and instead focus on heavenly concerns, all we see are children who are hungry, and sick, and lonely. Children who need a forever family. Children who need to know there is a God who made them, knows them, loves them, and sent His son to die for them to save them.
So are we crazy? Maybe a little. : ) Crazy for God. Crazy about following Him.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Since there has been so much interest, I thought I'd go ahead and address some of the most commonly asked questions...
What is the time frame?
The process is estimated to be about nine months. Hmm...know any other kids that take nine months to get home? We think it's pretty cool that it's about the same time God gives you to prepare for a biological child! While it could be as little as six months and as much as one year, we've been told that nine months is a safe bet.
Are we getting girls or boys or one of each?
We don't know for sure yet. We've asked for at least one boy.
How old will they be?
We don't know this for sure yet, either. We asked for at least one baby, which is really any child under 12 months. We are okay with the other one being up to age 2. We just want to make sure that we keep our birth order, so we don't want one to be older than Megan.
Will they be siblings?
Not necessarily. If there are siblings or even twins available, great, but they don't have to be.
Where are we at in the process?
Our initial application to Our Family Adoptions (OFA) was accepted last week. We submitted our initial application for our home study earlier this week. The home study process is estimated to take about 4-6 weeks and after that is complete, we will submit our i600A form to the US Government. That is our request that the government allow us to adopt a foreign-born child. It can take 3-4 months or more for an approval from them. They will send our approval to the national visa center and they will then send it on to the US Embassy in Kinshasa (the capital city in Congo). Meanwhile, we also submit our dossier (fancy name for documents required to process an adoption) to Congo and a lawyer over there represents us in their court system. After that, we wait for an interview date with the Embassy and then Hubby will travel to Congo to pick up our kiddos. Which leads me to...
Will you travel to Congo to get them?
Yes. But only Hubby. Because of the potential dangers of traveling to Congo, we feel like it's wisest for only one of us to travel there. He will be escorted by someone from OFA from the get go, and additional escorts will meet them on the ground in Kinshasa and be with them at all times. They will stay in a Methodist/Presbyterian hostel. And just for the record? It is killing me that I won't go. Even though I know it's best that I don't.
When will we get our referral? (Find out who our kids are?)
We don't know for sure. The amazing lady who runs OFA, has told us that she won't start looking for matches for us until after our home study is complete. Theoretically, at any point after that's done, we could find out who our kiddos are!
Any more questions? Keep 'em coming. We really don't mind! I know I still have other things to address, too, like what the kids think about all this, and why in the world we're adopting 2! And obviously, if you've read this far in our journey, you know I've no shortage for things to talk about. : )
First question...where from?
The Democratic Republic of Congo (also known as Congo or DRC). It's right in the heart of Africa.
See why I didn't just have a post for only that question? It would have been like the shortest post in the history of short posts. So on to the bigger question....why Congo?
My previous post explained how we found out about it, but I really want to share with you some of the things I've learned about this very beautiful, but war-torn land and its resilient and courageous people.
Congo has the ability to become one of the wealthiest nations on the planet. There is an abundance of precious resources there - gold, diamonds, and coltan (a mineral used in cell phones)
And while it has the potential to be one of the richest nations on the planet, the people there live in deplorable conditions. Hundreds of thousands of them are living in refugee camps, because their villages are no longer even safe to inhabit.
The sexual violence against women is horrifying. Congo is one the worst places in the world for women. And kids? There are 5 MILLION orphans in Congo. Children only have a 4 in 10 chance to live to the age of 5. Hundreds, maybe even thousands, of innocent, precious little ones die each day to completely preventable diseases and malnutrition. There is no excuse for this.
Our desire for an adoption has always been to provide a home and forever family for a child who was in great need and didn't have another option. Our hearts are so burdened for the people of Congo. We feel like we have to do something. And while we can't fix the problem, we can do our part. We can provide a safe, loving, healthy forever family for two of them.
5,000,000 orphans...minus 2.
It's at least a start.
One thing we really love about the organization helping us with our adoption, Our Family Adoptions, is that they are absolutely committed to not only finding families for children in need, but also for caring for those who remain in Congo and for raising awareness about their situation.
Because the 4,999,998 remaining children are precious in God's eyes and deserve hope, too.