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.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
All of our conversations about it, though, left us feeling completely overwhelmed. With so much need, how in the world do you know where to start? Domestic or international? If international, what country? How do you find an agency? How do you pay for it? We would usually come to the conclusion that if God wanted us to adopt, He could just place a child on our doorstep or have us cross paths with a woman considering an abortion or needing a family to adopt her baby. And He could do that. In fact, you never know if someday He doesn't do just that for us or for someone else!
A few weeks ago, some girlfriends and I went to see a movie and grab some yummy Starbucks for a Girls Night Out. I sat there explaining this very thing to them..."we feel led to it, but just don't know where or when or how...He'll just have to make it happen!" When I got home that night, Hubby was sound asleep and I couldn't sleep at all. (Thank you, decaf coffee!) So I went downstairs and got on Facebook (aka the biggest time eater of all time!) Well, this was also just after the Haiti earthquake. A friend of mine on Facebook had a status update that said something along the lines of "50 Haitian orphans will be in a city about an hour away by the end of the week and they need temporary and/or permanent homes. If you're able to help, contact me." Ohmygoodness, I couldn't sleep. Was this God placing an orphan on our doorstep???
I talked with Hubby early that next morning and we both agreed that we at least needed to look into it. So I made a few phone calls and essentially found that it was a dead end. There weren't going to be orphans coming after all.
Within a few days, though, we realized how disappointed we were. We really got ourselves excited thinking that an adoption really might happen! So at that point, we began investigating adoption more seriously. We sent off for and read cover to cover some information packets from adoption agencies. We sat through a webinar. We read ministry pamphlets about adoption. We talked with other adoptive families. Adoption was still very much on our hearts, yet we still did not feel called anywhere. We were back at the beginning and were quite discouraged.
Shortly thereafter, though, my church was having a girls get together. I wasn't sure I wanted to go because it had been one of those weeks where it seemed like we were hardly home. Hubby really encouraged me to go, though, and boy am I glad I did! While I was there I heard a friend talking about an adoption seminar at an agency I'd never heard of. She and her husband were going to go that very next night! She encouraged us to come along!
Well, that particular session was booked so we couldn't go, but I talked to her that night after she returned home. She told me about a particular country's adoption program - one that all the agencies I had looked at never mentioned. She shared some pictues of orphans and talked about the extreme need in that country.
It was practically immediate. Hubby and I both were in love. We just felt a calling to a certain place like we'd never felt before. Not that there's not need in other places; there certainly is! We just had never felt a pull in a specific direction before.
We couldn't sleep. Well, okay...I couldn't sleep. Hubby can fall asleep standing up. (Maybe not really, but close!) I stayed up for hours that first night researching online and reading blogs of other families who were adopting from this same place.
I found this picture and just couldn't get it out of my mind. It haunted me.
For days on end, we couldn't focus on our normal daily tasks. We were consumed and we felt giddy. It really felt like we were falling in love! That's the only thing I have to compare it to!
Because feelings can be misleading and because we wanted to be certain that this was God's idea and not ours, we've spent lots of time in prayer and discussion about whether or not this is right for our family. Without a doubt, we feel like this is where God is leading us. We are simply choosing to follow Him.
So that answers the why now question. Next up....where!?!? (Do I have you curious???)
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
So why adoption?
Sorry, just had to say it. : )
I think the more we fall in love with God and the more we learn about His heart, the more we fall in love with the idea of adoption. The Bible is pretty clear how God feels about orphans:
"He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing." - Deut. 10:18
"A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling." - Psalm 68:5
"Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow." - Isaiah 1:17
"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." - James 1:27
"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'" - Matt. 25:34-40
(And that doesn't even cover the fact that as Christians WE'VE been adopted by HIM and are now heirs to His kingdom! That's HUGE!!!)
Okay, maybe I started off a little smart with my response "why not," but really...why not? We have a home with room for more. We have hearts with room for more. And there are something like 140 MILLION orphans around the world just longing for forever families. I really can't even wrap my mind around that number. It's just too big and it makes me feel way too helpless.
But it gets a whole lot more personal when I stop to consider that there's one little child somewhere out there who is hungry and no one comes to feed him. He's scared and no one comforts him. He crawls into bed at night and no one snuggles him, prays with him, asks about his favorite part of his day, and tucks him in. He wakes up wondering if today is the day that he'll find a forever family, but no one comes.
Makes me want to cry just thinking about it.
Yes, I know that there are many great, great folks out there who give everything they have to make orphanages better and safer places, and they work their tails off trying to respond to the kids' needs. (And I already feel grateful for the beautiful souls working in our children's orphanage. They are true heroes to us!) But even the best orphanages in the world pale in comparison to the love that a child would feel in a family.
Kids belong in families. It's really that simple. And that is why we're adopting.
Stay tuned for the next post...Why now?
Well, I actually have news to report. After years of praying about something and wondering if it would be in God’s plan for us, we finally feel Him leading in very specific ways. So without further ado (drum roll, please….)
We are adopting!!!
And here's an even bigger surprise...not just one child, but two!!!
We are so. very. excited!!! We can’t wait to expand our family and will be using this blog more frequently to keep everyone updated through the process.
We already are blessed by so many who are so excited for us and want to hear every detail. We are so grateful for you and your support – and please know that we’re going to need it!! We hear we’re about to hop on a roller-coaster of highs and lows!
But we’re also sure that right away there are many questions…Why adoption? Why now? Where from? Why there? What’s the time frame? What do the kids think about this? Have you heard about the adopted kid who wouldn’t make eye contact with his parents (and other adoption nightmares)? Two more kids? Are you crazy?
And you know what? We are more than happy to share!
I’ll be spending the next few days (or sooner if I have enough free time) working through some of these questions. If you have any others, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll try to get to those, too.
But first, we’re just so excited. Yes, we are a little scared, too, but our overwhelming feeling is just sheer bliss. It already feels like two members of our family are missing in our home. We can’t wait to see who they are!!! : )
We have been so encouraged to read through other adoption blogs and hope to use this little spot on the web to not only share information about our journey, but to also encourage other families considering adoption and raise awareness about our new little ones' place of birth.
I hope you’ll start checking in again more frequently and celebrate with us during this amazing journey!!!
Whoo hooo!!!! It’s gonna be an awesome ride!!!