Saturday, November 6, 2010

We're Home!!!!

Wow, what an amazing, stressful, life-changing month!!! Hubby and I both journeyed halfway around the world and got to meet our two precious little ones. We were able to visit three orphanages, meet lots of amazing people, and learn a lot about the country where our children were born.

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

Going Even More Private

If you've read for awhile, you've seen my struggles with going private on my blog. Like here, or here, or here. I do still feel like I made the best decision, though. I just can't imagine putting our kiddos or anyone we work with in jeopardy.

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

Update on "Thursday"

Thanks for your prayers for our family. I did want to let you know that yesterday (Thursday) was a no-go. We found out Tuesday night that the things we were needing would not come through that quickly.

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

Happy Birthday, Sarah!

My sweet daughter turned five today.

How does this happen? I mean one minute you're in the hospital holding this itty-bitty thing, praying and dreaming about what her life will be like. The next minute you've blinked and she's well on her way to being a young lady!
I am so very proud of Sarah. She has a heart of gold and a smile that lights up a room. Her giggle is infectious. Her childlike faith is inspiring. Her ability to both dance like a beautiful princess and boogy-down makes you want to move with her.

She is precious.
She is one-of-a-kind.
She is so very special to us.
She is fearfully and wonderfully made.
She is perfect for our family.
She is my daughter.

Happy 5th Birthday, Sweet Sarah. I hope you had a special day and that you know just how much you are loved!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Thursday!

We got word today that something important is supposed to happen on Thursday with the adoption! Unfortunately, there's one thing that we still need to have happen first. Will you please pray that this one thing will come through for us?

(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're Officially a Family of 7!

"I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live." - Psalm 116:1-2

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

Waiting

I've been reading in the Psalms a lot lately. Do you know how much they talk about waiting!?! There is definitely some great purpose God has for waiting, but can I just say that from a human standpoint WAITING STINKS!!!!!

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

Praise God!

Our little girl is back at her foster home. She's out of the hospital! She's still on meds, so please keep praying, but she's definitely better! For that, we praise the Lord!

Now if we can just get her home...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Update on Sick Baby

Thank you so much for all your phone calls, emails, hugs, and especially your prayers. It is so very hard with a sick child halfway across the world. We have definitely felt loved and supported, though, so thank you for helping us through this.

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

Sick Baby...Please Pray

Okay, I know I just posted that I'm wanting to be pretty private about our adoption online, but I really need to share something.

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

Cha-Ching!

Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who took the time to vote for OFA in the Chase Community Giving grant program! We won the $20,000 gift!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hooray!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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

Please vote!

I know it has been forever again since I've blogged. Do you know how many draft posts I have going right now!?! I am just having the hardest time knowing what to say and what to keep private (for security purposes) about our adoption! Thus, I've ended up saying nothing at all.

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!!!!!

Thank you!!!!!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

We'll Take Two, Please

Remember my post about needing to look for a new vehicle?

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

Going Private

Well, as you can tell, I've joined the club. Those of you who follow several Congo adoption blogs probably noticed that we all disappeared within a few days of each other. Those of you who just know me personally probably wondered why in the world you couldn't read my blog anymore! I'm so sorry for the sudden departure! We were advised by our attorney to be super cautious about what we say about our adoption in a public setting.

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

Like Christmas in April

There really is nothing better as a waiting adoptive parent than to get new pics of your child! There's a group in Congo now finalizing three adoptions and I knew that our attorney's husband (their escort) would be visiting Blake while they were there. Our attorney told us the other day that he visited Blake and delivered 50 lbs of formula and baby supplies, but we didn't think we would see pictures until he returned to the States.


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.

The "Perfect" Ride!

After my post about our search for a new vehicle, we were sent this by a friend. Don't you think it'd be PERFECT!?!?!?


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

Driving Along In My Automobile

As a soon-to-be family of 7, we're currently hunting for a new vehicle. I have a Chrysler Town & Country minivan right now that I love, but it unfortunately just won't fit us all. Believe me, we've tried. We just don't think Josh will enjoy riding with one cheek on the seat and one in the cup holder.

So we're checking all sorts of websites (autotrader.com, cars.com, carmax.com, ebay.com, and craigslist.com) and checking local car lots for a vehicle that is large enough to fit us all, yet manageable, and at least a little bit stylish. And because of our commitment to stay out of debt, we're paying for the car outright, which means we're most likely buying a "previously owned" or "new to us" car. Here's the four we seem to have narrowed the list down to:

Ford Expedition EL


Cadillac Escalade ESV


Chevy Suburban


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!

Oh, and please pray for us as we shop. No offense, but used car salesmen can sometimes be difficult. We were on a lot last night and about six of them stood in the middle of the road so we had no option but to stop our car to talk to them. We'd really love to find an honest, trustworthy one to work with!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

What's In a Name?

Naming a child is not usually easy. Well, I guess I really can't say that. Hubby and I talked about baby names on our second date (almost 14 years ago!) and we chose Josh and Sarah. I know, I know. That's weird. So those, actually, were quite easy choices. Megan's name was not as easy to choose, and choosing a name for our new little guy hasn't been the easiest either. I've had many people ask about our little guy's name, so I thought I'd share it and how we got to it.

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.

Love it!

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

Journey Friends

This adoption journey is exactly that. A journey.

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

Breaking the Silence

Have you noticed I've been silent the last couple of weeks? Well, it was certainly not because of a lack of excitement! It's been an INSANE two weeks!! It was more because of a concern for privacy for our family and so many unknowns it wasn't even funny.

Praise God, though, things are coming together and I feel like I can actually update with real live news! Just as a disclaimer, there have been other things going on the past couple of weeks that I could have (and should have!) posted about like Josh's 7th birthday and his cool ninja party, some crazy terrible news that was actually covered in the States about extreme violence in Congo (you can read about it here and here from some awesome bloggers who share not only what happened but what YOU can do about it), and hubby's birthday. But for some reason, when I couldn't write about the adoption, I found it hard to write about anything. Period.

So...would you like to know what all is going on in our home?

Well, I alluded to the fact in a previous post that one of us had some medical issues that needed to be sorted out. It was me. I had some weird results from the routine adoption physical which led to 7...count 'em 7! additional trips to a doctor including two specialists. I just had another trip to a specialist today and got the final verdict....

I'm completely healthy!

Praise God for that!!! Of course, I would have preferred that I not be poked, prodded, and examined quite so thoroughly but it's a wonderful feeling to get a clean bill of health and to be able to move forward with our adoption instead of changing the theme of this blog to dealing with some sort of medical crisis! God is faithful, and I know that no matter what my test results were, He would be with us, guiding us, but I sure am grateful that I am healthy!

So onto much more exciting happenings....adoption news! We were returning home from my brother and sister in law's house 12 days ago and were both on our cell phones talking to our parents. Hubby had a call waiting beep on his and I could tell by the nature of his voice that it wasn't one of his buddies. My first thought was that it was our lawyer through OFA and she had a referral.

Guess what? It was our lawyer and she had a referral!!!

Ohmygoodness. We were so floored! Our home study wasn't even done yet! She was calling, though, because it was really a matter of life and death. She was calling about a tiny one month old baby boy who needed to be moved from the orphanage into foster care, but couldn't be moved until he had a family.

Our prayer has always been that if God placed a baby on our doorstep, we wanted to be available. We had no picture, no medical information, really very little knowledge about him, but we felt like he was a baby who had been placed on our doorstep. In faith, we said yes we'd love to have him as part of our family!!

Well, unfortunately, days went by with no word that he'd been moved from the orphanage into foster care. The commune (Congo's equivalent of like a town hall/gov't center) had not signed off for his adoption. At this point, we believed that it'd just be a few more days and then we'd have either their approval or find out that they had located a relative who could take him.

Here's where our adoption story got even crazier. Our lawyer called again with ANOTHER referral! While the commune had not signed for this first baby, there was an 8 day old little boy who also needed a family and they had signed for him. We actually received a picture of him the day after we learned about him.

But here's the thing...while we were wanting to adopt two kiddos, we didn't think we could adopt two non-biologically related children less than nine months apart in age. (It's called artificial twinning and most of the adoption world does not recommend it.) How could we choose between the two boys!?!? After a sleepless night, much discussion and prayer, and many tears shed by me, we just really felt God calling us to be open to BOTH of these boys. I mean, when you look back at the fact that He so clearly led us to Congo and then opened our hearts to two children instead of one, and now six short weeks later we had two referrals of sweet little guys who desperately needed a family?? How could we not believe that He was still leading us!?! After a tearful call to our social worker explaining the situation to her, she agreed that it is certainly a unique situation and she was not going to stand in our way. She would support us if we wanted to adopt both of them.

We called our lawyer back the morning after we had received the picture and said that yes, we'd love to have that little guy as part of our family, too!

OH. MY. GOODNESS!!! So very exciting! TWO itty bitty boys!!

However, in the meantime we've learned that the commune is still not prepared to sign for the one-month old. They've told our contact there they'd like to wait a couple of months. We believe they either know someone who witnessed his abandonment or have an idea of who his family is. So we do not know if this little guy will join our family or not. Our prayer is that a decision be made by the commune soon, though. If he has family there that wants him, that is wonderful! But if he doesn't, he needs a family so that he can get out of the orphanage and into a foster home while the paperwork is processing. We are taking it day by day, but our lawyer has encouraged us to be open to whatever child needs us and fits in our family. We don't have a lot of time to wait as our US paperwork will hopefully be submitted within a week or so and our dossier will be sent to Congo soon after that. She said that we need to keep the two children processing within a couple of weeks of each other. We don't want to travel twice!

So, we know at least one sweet little (now two-week old) boy who will be joining our family hopefully in the next four to six months. We have another little boy who has also stolen part of our hearts, but are not sure if he will be joining our family or not.

Okay...I've held off long enough. Would you like to meet our little guy?? Here's the referral picture we received...

The email we received (translated from French) said that it was unfortunately a bad picture; he's a cute baby. We think it's pretty tough to get a good read on what he looks like from this picture, but isn't he just precious!?! Those big brown eyes...awww!!!!

We did get notice this week that he was moved to foster care and is safe and sound! Praise God!!There's a group going over there right now to complete a few adoptions (so exciting!!!) and we've been told that we'll get some new and better pictures of our little guy. I can't wait!!!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Growing In My Heart

Before we started the adoption process, there were all sorts of fears I had. Okay, if I'm being truly honest, I still have fears. But I really do feel them melting away.

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

Poking, Prodding, and Chatting

We've had a couple of busy days in "getting ready for adoption" land.

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.

Loudly.

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

Happy Birthday, Megan!

There are some things in your life you just will never forget as long as you live. Two years ago today was one of those moments in my life. My sweet baby Megan breathed her first breath, cried her first cry, and slept in my arms for the first time.


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

Silly, Impatient Me

I knew that would happen. As soon as I shared with you all how I'm not good at waiting for things, the very thing I was waiting for would happen.

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

Hurrying Up and Waiting in our Animal House

Last week was spent rushing around gathering financials and filling out paperwork. We were so excited when we sent off our packet (via email) on Tuesday. We were told that depending on our schedule and flexibility, we may have our home visit within a week.

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

It's Off!!!

Our mongo stack of paperwork (well, this round of it, anyways!) is finished!!!!

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)
The way our home study provider works is that we are not assigned an individual social worker until after this paperwork stage is done. So now, we'll be assigned with the social worker who will do our home visit and put together our final home study document. I talked with the supervisor this morning and she said depending on how flexible our schedule is, we may have our home visit within a week or so!!!

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!!!

Excited about Poo

I realize that some of my readers don't know us personally and read along to follow our adoption journey, but those of you who read and do know us personally may remember how much I hate potty training.

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

The Roller Coaster Has Started

If you would have asked me how I felt about all of this adoption stuff on Friday, it wouldn't have been good. I was feeling really overwhelmed by the process, scared about the attachment/bonding issues, and just really nervous about the whole thing. (Yes, I am human!) I had a mound of paperwork that we still hadn't been able to start yet, and lots of guilt that we hadn't gotten to it yet.

Not fun.

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.

Whew.

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

2 Minute Glance

Here is a really short (2 minute) video put together to show some of the need that exists in Congo. These next nine months can't go fast enough!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JgViwIbVHZw&feature=player_embedded#

(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

Bunnies for Congo

Josh has been doing this really amazing art class the past three days. I will say that it was really intense, but so, so great. The man who teaches it is wonderful at what he does. He raises the bar very high and expects great effort, but is so encouraging at the same time. He just kept stressing that art is a learned skill and just takes a lot of practice.

I would say that historically art has not been Josh's strong suit (although he is only 6 1/2, so I don't want to write anything off at this point!) : ) He typically just doesn't want to spend the time doing it. But...he did so well over the past three days and really enjoyed it. The class ended today and he came home and just wanted to draw all afternoon. I love it!
Yesterday's homework was to draw a bunny and name it. There would be three prizes given for the best bunny with the most original name. Top prize was $50, which of course had all the kids excited. Now keep in mind that there were over 100 kids there, so odds of winning were slim, but they were still all abuzz about what they'd do with $50.

It was so precious to hear Josh's plan. He came home and said, "Mom, I've gotta win that prize. I need to send that money to Congo. *pause* Well, actually, I'll probably share it."

So I said, "Oh, you're going to keep half and send half to Congo?"

And he responded, "No. I'm going to send half to Congo, and half to Haiti."

Oh melt my dear mommy heart. Love that kid!

He had a purpose and got right to work. However, within 24.6 seconds, he was done. He had drawn a bunny that he decided to name Cow. I loved the irony for the name, but the picture? Well, here...you see...
I'll just say I tried to be as encouraging as I could. Bless his heart.

We were gone in the afternoon for the home study meeting and then ended up having dinner over at our neighbors' house, so it was almost bedtime when we got home. Uh oh. We had forgotten to finish Cow. He still needed to be colored. Josh decided, though, that he wasn't crazy about Cow the Bunny after all and wanted to try again.

He worked for awhile and tried a couple of different times, and here's what he came up with instead. Meet Jumping Jack the Bunny...(Just FYI, the writing above is the bunny's name, and his name and age. It's just hard to read.)
We were so proud of him! He spent a little more time on it, and this version was much better! We don't know yet who won the contest as we had to turn the bunnies in today, but I'm just proud that he wanted to do a good job. And I may be partial, but I think Jumping Jack the Bunny is kinda cute...um, especially when compared to Cow the Bunny. And if he somehow is lucky enough to win the $50, I know there will be people around the world who are blessed. All because of a little bunny in the grass.

Here's a few other pics of him in the class. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Diving In

Whew. Well, we're on our way!

We had our first appointment with our home study provider this afternoon. With the word out that we're adopting and the paperwork in full swing, I'd say it's all definitely feeling more real now. A few days ago a friend asked me, "Do you feel pregnant? Because you are!" That was a sweet thing to say! : ) I really didn't at the time, but I'm starting to have moments where it feels that way!

We now have a whole list of forms to fill out, background checks to apply for, and TONS of information about ourselves to divulge. Honestly, there doesn't seem to be quite as much to fill out as we were afraid there could be, but it's still A LOT. Some of it seems silly, but some of it seems like it could be helpful. The lady we met with today talked a lot about preparing for an interracial adoption, and there's an entire form with questions preparing us for issues that could arise because of that. She also gave us TONS of material with books, websites, magazines, and classes for preparing for an adoption. I'll eat that stuff up. I can't wait to learn more!

But there's also parts I wish we could just skip over. I guess our state requires that every member of our family have a TB test. Yuck-o. Have they met my son? He will scream like a baby. Seriously. I'm really dreading that. And evidently we have to apply for new birth certificates and a new marriage license. You know, in case somehow the details of our births changed from the last time we ordered birth certificates.

The paperwork doesn't bother me. I just keep telling myself it's just like the grant applications I used to have to put together for work. I think the only thing I'm having a hard time with is not having a nice, neat, completely spelled out step-by-step process. We still have some questions about the timing of things, and the order that we should do things. If you know me, you know that I am a spreadsheet and list-maker, not to mention a rule follower. I just want to make sure we're doing the right things at the right times. I know we've got a great team of people who can help us through it all, but it's just not all spelled out the clearest.

Hubby was right...we're just going to have to dive on in. If we just start doing things, all the details will get worked out.
And I firmly believe that in the end, all of this paperwork will be worth it!!!

Monday, March 1, 2010

From Three to Five - Their Thoughts


So I thought I'd finally check in with my three cuties and see what they're thinking about all of this excitement. While I felt like I could pretty accurately share their thoughts, I figured I better just check with them to make sure. Plus, it was a teaching moment. We learned what a journalist is and how they interview people to find out what's going on in the world. I put on my imaginary journalist hat and went to work. So you can follow along, each one of us is represented in a different color: Mommy, Josh (6), Sarah (4), and Megan (23 1/2 months).

So , I hear something big’s going on in your life. What is it?
Yep…it’s an adoption.

Can you tell me about it?
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.

But what if we get two brothers?
Then, Josh would have more brothers.

Well, you would too, silly. What do you think about that?
That’d be good. Then I can be happy with two good brothers. They’re going to be very good and have one toy at a time. (Can you tell we’ve been struggling with a messy house!?! They hear “one toy at a time” like a hundred times a day!) : )

Megan, what do you think about adopting two more kids?
Um, I want um um doptions. (Translation: I want adoptions. I kept asking her why, but all she’d say was because. Sorry, she’s still not two. That’s all you’ll get from her. She was more interested in playing babies.) : )

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.

And that's it, folks. Out of the mouths of babes. They're really excited about it all. When we first sat them down to tell them we were even considering this, Josh's comment was, "Well if there's babies who are hungry and who need mommies and daddies, why don't we go get one today?" Pretty cute. Wish it were that simple, buddy.

The other really telling thing to me is one of their new favorite things to play is adoption. I'll hear them in the other room saying that they're filling out paperwork to go get "their orphan."

We have to keep reminding them that once our children are ours, they're no longer orphans! (I can see it now...the five kids and me in Walmart a year from now. Josh and Sarah can respond to the curious public with, "they're our orphans.")

I can't wait for the amazing day when they go from being an orphan to being our son or daughter! And I'm glad my children are excited for that day, too!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sidetracked

So I know I still need to share the kids' response to all of this. I've told you I'd share and I will. They really are cute kids with awesome hearts.

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

So Really...Are We Crazy? Why 2!?!?

Two? Really? So you'll have FIVE kids then? Are you crazy?

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.
And how can we put our own comfort above that? We can't. We choose not to.

So are we crazy? Maybe a little. : ) Crazy for God. Crazy about following Him.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Frequently Asked Questions

Wow...we are floored by the support we're receiving! We have the best friends and family members in the world! Thank you so much for your prayers, encouragement, and genuine interest. It all means so much to us!

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. : )

Stay tuned!

Where From? Why There?

I'm gonna be really ambitious and address both these questions in one post. : )

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). But militia groups kill, rape, and torture to have control of them. Over 5 MILLION people have died there since 1998. It's the worst war since World War 2, yet it has been largely ignored by the media and the western world.

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.