Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Merry Christmas to Us!!

I had an entirely different post swirling around in my head for today - but then we got a little early Christmas present, so, you know - obviously I have to share!! And now I can't even remember what the first one was going to be about!! Ha

I got a call from our social worker this morning and our dossier has been

APPROVED!!!!

Write it down on the timeline and celebrate because Colombia says "Yes, we believe you would be good parents to a child from our country.  We'll just let you hop on the 'ole waiting list for a bit!"

Y'all, this is a huge step.  We sent a large stack of official documents and evaluations and more personal information that I can't remember to Colombia on October 1...about 10 weeks ago.

The "timeline" given is about 2-3 months for dossier approval once you've submitted it.  However, in the past several months a LOT of changes have been taking place with Colombia adoptions and their process.  The biggest one - international families can only adopt children from their waiting child list...no biggie for us because that's the route we were already on.  

Colombia then began asking follow up questions to dossier's that were submitted. "Tell me more about what doctor your child will see..."; "How have you specifically prepared for...."; etc, etc.  They just added a little extra in their screening process.  However, this little extra step can push back approval by 6 - 8 weeks.  Their questions have to be translated to us, we have to answer, our answers have to be translated and submitted, someone has to get back around to looking at our answers.  Slow-moving, I tell you.  So, instead of a 2-3 month wait for approval, some families were waiting close to 6 months...I know some that have waited longer than that.  

So....2 weeks ago Beth told me that they did have a follow up question for us - "How did we know we were prepared/could handle the medical special needs we had listed in our dossier?"  She had already written a reply for this question and had our in-country attorney review it before receiving the official request for more information.  Well, because our in-country dude is stellar...he just sent it on.  ICBF read it, said "Oh, okay.  Yes, they are ready/know what they're getting into/whatever the actual words were....they're APPROVED!"

Fast forward to this morning - which we did not know the above conversations between in-country dude and ICBF had taken place already - Beth calls me.  She didn't share the above conversation with us because she wanted to know for SURE. We're just chatting a minute and talking about Christmas plans (y'all, this girl cares about us as people...as a real family, with hearts and issues and love and all of that - couldn't recommend a better adoption agency than Lifeline if you're considering it because while she is a one of a kind social worker....they're all awesome up there!) and then she says, "Well, do you want a Christmas present today?"
Honestly, I thought "How sweet, they probably send their families a little something for Christmas."
But I said, "Yes!!"
She said, "Your dossier's APPROVED!"

PRAISE GOD FROM WHOM ALL BLESSING FLOW!!!

And then I cried.  And I think she cried a little, too.  And my kids were running around pouring water into their cups of goldfish while wearing their jammies and/or a princess dress with high heels. But, whatever, I tell ya!!

So - Colombia says we're fit parents.  Thank you, hard-working-on-behalf-of-fatherless-children-in-Colombia officials.  Thank you so very much for this tremendous Christmas present :)

The really cool God-thing....ICBF shuts down about this time each year for a month surrounding the holidays.  Since we hadn't heard anything from them - we were very much expecting approval to at least be in mid-late January!! God can do anything and I love that about Him - among many other things :)

We were homestudy approved on my birthday, dossier approved for Christmas...I'm just gonna go ahead and put "My kid" on my Mother's Day wish list....

What happens now...
we keep waiting.

For how long...
dunno know.

What are we waiting for....
an official match with our kid.

Can I give you a guesstimate...
3-6 months from now, but we're not holding tight to that.

Then what....
we wait some more.

How long...
3/4 more months-ish.

And....
we GO GET HIM!!!!!!

Merry Christmas!!

Monday, December 16, 2013

What Love Is This....

This weekend, my family had the honor of sharing our testimony for Advent during our church's worship service.  When Maggie, our children's ministry director, first asked me if we would - I may have teared up a little...or a lot.  Being able to share about our adoption journey and glorify God and all that He has done just about makes my heart explode with joy.  Our family stood together in front of the church and this is what we said...

In January of this year our family started the journey of adoption.  It’s a journey that will lead us to a little boy in Colombia, South America….you might’ve heard of it J

It has been a long year full of home study interviews and paperwork.  Our family has been so blessed by all of the encouragement we have received from our family, church, and friends.  Watching God provide close to $15,000 to our family in less than 6 months was nothing short of miraculous. We continually stand in awe of all that He has done not only for us, but in us this past year.

We are now in the agonizing part of this journey where all we can do is wait – we wait for approval from Colombia and then we wait to find out just exactly who our son is.

About 2 months ago, we thought the wait was over.  Our social worker presented us with the file and picture of a precious 2 ½ year old little boy.  Almost immediately – we said ‘Yes! We want to be his mommy and daddy.”  We believed we had found our son and it was so sweet to look into his eyes.  We promised him love and a family – two things he had not had in his short little life.

A few days later, we found out that we would not be able to adopt this sweet boy.  There had been miscommunication between the Colombian government and our adoption agency.  Our family rejoices for this sweet boy – he couldn’t be ours because he was already being adopted by another family.

But our hearts were broken…crushed under a weight of grief that we could not explain.  We had been told to guard our hearts and not fall in love too quickly, but you can’t commit to being child’s mommy and daddy without loving them with the full force that comes from a parent’s heart.

But even in the midst of that experience and knowing that it could happen again, we have felt peace.

-    A peace that surpasses all understanding.
-    A peace that tells us to stay with God, to remember who He is, 
to trust in His plan, to know what He is for
-         A peace that comforts our broken hearts
-        A peace that we ask God to surround our son with at this very moment
It is the peace that came to this earth on the night Jesus was born.

Luke 2:11-14
“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying. “Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace and good will toward men.”

Even though Jacob and I were both terrified to be up there, speaking into a microphone, it was very special for us and our children...who wanted to know why they didn't get a turn to talk in the microphone =)

But then the most special part happened....

After the service, a beautiful young woman came up to me and called me by name.  She said she wanted to briefly tell me her story.  She said her mother brought her home from Honduras 31 years ago.  She said she was not the first, second, or third child her mother had tried to bring home.  She said her mother's heart was broken and her journey was tough - but she knew that God had ordained her mother to be her mommy.  She encouraged me in that God knows who our son is and that He has the big and perfect plan, no matter how painful it is.  She said her song for her mother is "What Love Is This"...which is one of my all time favorites.  

What love is this, that you gave your life for me
And made a way for me to know you
And I confess you're always enough for me you're all I need

This song is written about the love Christ has for us in that He laid down his life to make a way for us to be in a relationship with Him.  She said, "You know...my mom did that.  She laid her heart down for me over and over again so that I could be hers.  Hang in there, you will get to the son God has chosen for you."

I couldn't thank her enough for her encouragement and for sharing her beautiful story with me.  

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Apparent Project - A Win/Win Fundraiser


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I am so incredibly excited about this last fundraiser for 2013.
The Apparent Project is absolutely wonderful.
In an effort to prevent children from becoming orphans due to poverty,
The Apparent Project teams up with local mothers and fathers in Haiti.
These men and women create beautiful, handmade bracelets.
The Apparent Project then purchases these upcycled bracelets from the artists,
giving them the ability to provide for the basic needs of their children...
food, clean water, clothes, shelter, education...
things most of us take for granted every single day.

The Apparent Project's passion...

"Our name reflects our passion: We want to see Haitian families stay together. Skill development and employment addresses the needs of families before they are at the point of desperation, driven to give their children to an orphanage because of exteme poverty. After all, the vast majority of Haiti's "orphans" have not been orphaned by parental deaths, earthquakes, hurricanes, or floods, but are children of living parents who gave them up simply because they knew that an orphange could feed their child. Lagging adoptions, overcrowding, and lack of accountability has made many orphanages less than adequate homes for children, who often develop severe emotional problems such as reactive attachment disorder. This is why we think of our artisans' guild as an "un-orphanage." We are finding creative ways for Haitians to be self-employed so that they can take care of their own children with dignity and joy."

This fundraiser is a total win/win situation.
When you purchase one of these beautiful pieces of jewelry, you are helping 2 families.
You are helping one family overcome extreme poverty and STAY TOGETHER! You are helping
to PREVENT A CHILD FROM BECOMING AN ORPHAN!

indexmama

However, as we all know, there are children who could not stay with their families, like our son.
And there are families who are adopting these children, like our family.
Purchasing a bracelet also helps to bring our son home to us, forever!

The bracelets are $8...$4 to the artists to keep their family together and $4 to the adoptive family to help with expenses.

Each bracelet comes with a tag featuring the actual artist who made the bracelet and his or her story.

artisans36

Each bracelet is multi-colored, beautifully crafted and upcycled from cereal and cracker boxes, oil drums, and trash paper.

These bracelets would make great teacher gifts, Christmas presents, stocking stuffers...
or a "just because I want one because they're so pretty" gift to yourself!

To order:
Click the "Coleman Adoption Fund" - PayPal "Donate" button to the right.  In the comments section, please enter how many bracelets you want and the address to mail them to.

Send me an email at:
jmalcoleman at gmail dot com

Find me on Facebook and shoot me a message

Or if you see me at church or around town, let me know and I can meet up with you!

Shipping is 50 CENTS per bracelet.

Thank you so much for considering a bracelet as an amazing Christmas gift! You're gift will not only be to the person you love - but also to the mother or father who created the bracelet, their children, our son, and our family.

Merry Christmas!!




Friday, November 22, 2013

Christmas Shop for Us!

Hey, friends!! The Christmas shopping season is almost here...I absolutely cannot believe this year has gone by  SO INCREDIBLY FAST!! It's been quite the year.  November 1 - January 1 is my favorite time of year...gearing up for Thanksgiving celebrations, quality time with family, no school for a week, and then whipping right into the Christmas season with hot chocolate, snowmen, Christmas trees, Christmas carols and best of all, remembering and celebrating the birth of Christ.

This year, while you're shopping online for Black Friday and Cyber-Monday deals - and throughout 2014! - you can shop through a couple of links to the right of my blog and a portion of your purchases goes back into our adoption fund...A WIN/WIN!!

I think most of us are familiar with the amazing deals through Amazon for just about any product you can think of, so if you click on the Amazon button to the right, you'll be immediately shopping under our Amazon Associates heading...and then you simply shop as normal!  We get email alerts letting us know that purchases have been made and how much has been added to our account!

I only recently learned of the PureCharity organization a few months ago.  When you create an account with PureCharity (totally FREE!) and install their plug-in to your browser (free and easy!), it will show up anytime you shop online through a PureCharity supported store.  The logo will simply appear in the top right corner of your screen, it looks like this...

...you click on it, it reloads the page and you shop! A portion of your purchases go back into your account and you can pick what charity, organization, or family you wish to support.  There are TONS of great organizations to choose from, but we would be especially honored if you chose our family! You simply find us on there through their search button or come here and click on our button to go straight to our page! Then you choose our family to send your donation to.  All donations are sent directly to our adoption agency, Lifeline Children Services.  Pure Charity works with a lot of major retailers such as Apple, Target, Wal-Mart, Priceline, Gap, Forever 21, Pier 1, Bass Pro, Babies R Us...oh my goodness, just looking through the list makes me so excited! It even has a "shop local" option so you can help support local businesses in your area and our adoption at the same time!!

These are simple and great ways to make the most of your Christmas shopping this year!! We are praying hard that this will be the last year we spend Christmas without our son! Your purchases through our links will help to cover our travel costs to Colombia and our time spent there on things like hotel accommodations for 6-8 weeks, food, translators, in-country attorneys and paperwork, and our flights HOME!!

These links will be available on my blog until our adoption is funded, so please come back through here to shop Amazon or chose us through Pure Charity for any and all online shopping!

Please share this link with your friends and family to help us spread the word about these great ways to support our adoption during the holiday season.  You can share by clicking any of the social media buttons at the bottom of this post or sharing my link from Facebook.  
If you share it, shoot me an email at
jmalcoleman at gmail dot com or 
a Facebook message or
comment here or
comment on my Facebook post
and on December 3 (the Tuesday after Thanksgiving) I'll pick a winner for a $10 iTunes gift card!
(Please be sure and leave an email address or a way to contact you if you win)

Happy Shopping!!

PS - We will also be starting an Apparent Project soon as they come in the mail.  I canNOT wait to tell you more about this amazing ministry that helps sustain families in Haiti, preventing children from becoming orphans, and also helps adoptive families!  More to come next week!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

When It's Really Hard - Part 2

As I was reading back over my post from last night, I realized I just kind quit writing.  When I started out, I had no idea how long or how much I would write...I was just gonna do it until I couldn't do it anymore.  If you missed out on last night's post, you can read it here.

I ended up talking to Beth, our social worker, that afternoon for a long time.  It was more like I sobbed, she listened.  I tried to talk, she encouraged me.  I'm not sure I've ever felt that pain before.  Jacob and I were talking about it a few days later and I asked him if he thought it hurt the way it did when we lost our first baby.  He said no...it hurt worse than that.  After thinking about it for a few minutes, I agreed.  

The next morning, after our heartbreaking news, I received an e-mail alert from a waiting kids website that I follow.  I rarely check the alerts, but that day I did.  As soon as the window popped up on my computer screen....I saw him.  Again.  I couldn't figure out what was going on.  "V" was not available for adoption, but here he was...waiting for a family.  I immediately emailed the listing agency on the website and called Beth.  She promised that she would talk with Raul (our in country attorney), but she told me it was most likely that his file had not been removed yet.  That did end up being the case, but I could NOT let it go without at least asking.

That week was stinkin' hard.  It hurt.  It made me mad.  I went for a run one morning to try to deal with it all. I needed to figure out who I was mad at.  God? The Colombian official who'd mistakenly sent his file in the first place? The website for getting my hopes up again?  Then it hit me - I was mad at the whole dang situation.  I was mad because a precious 2 year old little boy should NOT have to look further than his front door for a family.  I was made because that precious little boy should never have been an orphan.  I was mad that there was even a need for adoption because it's NOT FAIR that every child cannot grow up and live with their birth family because in a perfect world, that's how it would be.  So I was not mad at anyone...I was mad because there are kids without families.

Even though I hadn't held this little boy in my arms and I had only seen his picture, I could so strongly imagine what it would be like to hold him.  He was about Creek's size.  And he kinda looked like Creek, too :)  I would pick Creek up and hold him or rock him at night and think, "Wow....this is what it's going to feel like.  This is the size and age of "V"."  Yes, they are two different kids but I could absolutely imagine what it would be like to play, hold, rock, and love on "V" the same way I was doing with Creek.

I cried a lot that week.  Jacob and I talked a lot and grieved together.  Finally, at the end of the week I had to force myself to move on.  I had to delete everything I had on sweet little "V".  It wasn't fair to him or to his new family for me to have such private information on him or to dwell over his adorable face.  It wasn't good for my heart, either.  Over the next few weeks, he would come to mind from time to time.  Sometimes I would think about the heartache and cry a little, but I would also rejoice that he has a family...that his days without them are limited.

And then Monday of this week, I got another email alert from the same waiting kids website.  My heart hit the floor when I, again, saw his sweet face.  He had been taken down after my last email...I had checked every day until he was gone.  But here he was again.  In times like this, there's no such thing as "guarding your heart".  Because you can't look at a child and say, "Yes, I want to be your mommy!" and not immediately begin to love him as your son...as his mommy.  In an instant, there was a bit of hope that he would still be mine.  It was just as fierce as it had been a few weeks ago.

Long story short...we emailed them, again, and had our adoption agency check into the situation.  We got a sincere reply from the website telling us they weren't sure what happened, but no - he wasn't available for adoption...his picture and file should not have been added back to the site.

And our hearts crashed again.

I don't want anyone who is considering adoption to think that it's easy. Or to think that it's only about paperwork, fingerprints, and interviews with social workers.  Or that it's a walk in the park.  Because it's none of those things.  It is REALLY HARD.  We lay our hearts out there for a timeline that doesn't really exist.  We know it could get trampled on a hundred times over.  We don't like it, but it is what it is.  And you know what - I'd go through this every single week of this entire journey if that is what it takes to get to my son.  Because here's what I think...I think that as hard as this is on me, and my heart...

HOW MUCH HARDER IS IT ON THE HEART OF AN ORPHAN? 

I have a family and friends and a community that love me and that I am thriving in. I have my Jesus who defeated death for me and loves me unconditionally. I know where my next meal will come from and I grew up being tucked in every single night by a mom and dad whose world revolved around me and my sisters.  That is the kind of life we are giving our children.  So if it's this hard on me, with all that I have - how hard is it on a child who doesn't understand the world that he's in? Who has to wonder if there is more to his life than being grouped together with a bunch of other kids his age and living in a concrete building?

Yes, it's hard on adoptive parents.  And so many times I've heard people say - "I couldn't do it, I couldn't risk getting my heart broken." Or something along those lines.  But guess what...my heart's been broken - as have countless other adoptive parents - and those hearts healed and yours will, too.  But what about the little girls and boys who go to bed every single night with a broken heart...they sure didn't choose to be an orphan, to be alone.  What about their broken hearts?  Who goes after them?

What if God had the same thought when He put His great plan into motion to send Jesus - His ONLY Son - for you and me?  What if He decided He just couldn't risk getting His heart broken?  Well, His heart does get broken every time someone denies Him, turns away from Him, refuses Him...and yet, He'd do it every second of every minute of every hour of every single day if that is what it took...

So how did we cope with this?  We held tight to each other and trusted in God and His plan.  I kept on singing "It Is Well With My Soul" - and sometimes I believed it.  I had friends checking on me, letting me talk through it.  I remembered my friends Daniel and Emily and how their hearts had broken, and yet God carried them through and has pieced a beautifully amazing family together.  I read in Isaiah over and over that God's "thoughts are not my thoughts" and that His ways are higher than mine.  I asked Him to use me and my heartbreak in order to comfort others who share this experience.  I asked Him to help me see what we could learn from this.  And He answered that prayer.  We grew and trusted more and learned.  For that, I am very thankful.

God took such good care of us....even people we hadn't shared this with, would call or text and say, "Hey...I was thinking about you.  Are you okay?"  He provided a dear friend, a foster mom, who took me into her arms within an hour of receiving our heartbreaking news and she just held me tight.  She knew and understood my pain and she acknowledged my grief. Even this morning, He sent the perfect words to me through my SIL, Bekah..."Only He can make it right.  But it won't be right until Christ comes again.  Until then...we just have to hold on for dear life." And so that's what we will do...we will hold on for dear life and we will rest in the fact that God is taking care of us.

Thank you, friends, for letting me talk it out here on my blog.  It's part of my process.  We know that so many of you are praying us through this journey and have been very encouraging to us the entire time.  If you think of us and want to pray for us about these past few weeks...please also rejoice with us for sweet little "V" and for his family who is working hard to get to him.  Please pray the rest of their process would go smoothly and that everything would fall into place.  Pray that he would transition well into his new family and home.  I sure hope that someday, somehow...maybe in a way that only God can orchestrate...he knows that at one point in his life - after 2 years without a mommy - that for just a few days, he had two mommy hearts that loved him to the fullest.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Adoption...When It's Really Hard (Part 1)

First things first...so sorry for such a lapse in updating you guys.  It's not that we haven't been super busy with the adoption, it was just that not a lot happened for a few weeks to update about....just waiting on paperwork to go through so we could submit our dossier.  Then, suddenly - it was time for a major update. I've promised this whole time to be transparent with you about our adoption and I have kept my word.  So far, there have been a few twists and turns to our journey - but nothing majorly hard.  Nothing to make my heart want to crumble under the weight of it all.  But the truth about adoption is that it's not always warm fuzzies...sometimes it just plain sucks.  And sometimes it's worse than that.

On September 27 - a Friday night - my phone rang around 6 pm.  Since I was in the middle of cooking supper and my kids were going crazy (and Jacob was at work), I planned to take a quick glance at the caller ID and keep at the tasks at hand.  But there it was...it said "Lifeline".  That's our adoption agency.  That's my social worker.  She's calling me after hours...on a Friday night.  It's either really good or really bad.  And it's too soon for this to be really good.  So it must be really bad, right? I finally stopped the inner dialogue and picked up the stupid phone.

I can truly barely hear our social worker, Beth, over the pounding in my heart - and the screaming squeals of joy coming from the smalls - when she tells me she has a file of a 2 year old little boy who seems just perfect for us...do I want her to send it to me? ABSO-FREAKIN-LUTELY! She walks me through the steps to download "Dropbox" and then all of a sudden, there's the file.  I pull it up and I scroll as fast as I can to the first picture.

And there he is...this beautiful, precious, so adorable that he has to be mine little boy..."V".  She gives me the quick rundown of his file and explains the next steps should we pursue to adopt him.  As much as I love talking to Beth, I don't think I could get off of the phone quick enough so I could pour over his file.  She gave me her cell and promised me that it was okay to call her with any questions at all or to talk about anything regarding this little boy over the weekend...that's another reason why she's the best.

I immediately called Jacob.  We were both floored.  We had no idea this would happen so quickly.  The excitement was building.  The love was exploding.  I gave him the shorter rundown of what Beth had told me and tried to send him a picture of "V" - poor Jacob...his cell isn't exactly this decade, but he rarely complains.  He couldn't see the picture - so he was going to have to wait until he got home at 6:30 in the morning.

All night, I translated his file in Google translate...did I mention this 70+ page file was in Spanish? And that I don't read Spanish? Did I mention my eyes were crossed and my head was pounding after 4 hours of copy/paste/translate/read/repeat?  Or that I didn't care how long I had to stay up to learn as much as I could about the little boy who I believed with every passing minute was going to be my son?

Y'all....this sweet, little boy.  So innocent.  So precious.  The brownest eyes.  The cutest smile. The darkest hair.  And so much to process about the things he had been through in his life and the events that led to him needing a new mommy and daddy.  My heart could not help but to start processing and protecting this child I had never held.

As soon as Jacob got home the following morning, I showed him "V"'s picture.  The look in his eyes...I've only seen it 3 other times - the first time those eyes landed on Anna Beth, Lynnsie, and Creek.  I knew in that moment that we were going to pursue this little boy.

Jacob tried to sleep that day (after working all night), yet he couldn't.  He tossed and turned. He got up.  He laid back down.  I tried to stay busy, but really - nothing could take my heart away from "V".  It would just hit me that I had most likely met my son.  The one I'd prayed for and longed for and ached for and filled out a small forests worth of paperwork for over the last 7 months.  I had texted a few friends and our parents, so they could pray with us.  One friend, Mary, said - "Wow...finally...the little boy we've prayed for!"

Finally, Jacob gave up on sleep and said let's talk about "V". Um...okay! Then he basically said, "It's him.  This is our son.  What do we do now?" And just like that - it felt like our family was on the way to being completed.  I immediately called Beth - who was ecstatic - and then typed up our Letter of Intent to send to Colombia's central authority.  The LOI tells them that you intend to adopt a certain child once your dossier is approved.

I couldn't believe it, y'all.  We finally knew him.  My mommy heart immediately grew as I began to take on all of his life experiences and grieve for him and with him what he had been through.  I vowed in my heart that he would NEVER experience those things again.  He was no longer an orphan.  He was my son and I was on my way to get him.

It'd be so awesome if right now I could share a picture of him with you.  It'd be so awesome if the update only got better from here.

But, like I said above, sometimes adoption just plain sucks.  In fact, I'd argue that most of adoption sucks - but that's an entirely different post.  Anyway....

A few days later, Beth calls me back.  I knew that she had to double check his file to make sure our LOI was the first one submitted, but we really weren't worried about that being a problem.  But I could tell in her voice as soon as I answered.  I could hear the sadness and the dread in what she was about to have to tell me.

We could not adopt "V".  Colombia should have never sent her his file.  It's really, really great for "V" because he was actually already being adopted by another family.  Beth wasn't really sure where the mistake came in, but his file should have been locked because he already had a family coming for him.  Pure joy and excitement for him.  Total heartbreak for us...

Next post, I'll write about what we felt and went through, how we processed everything over the next few days.  It's taken me a long time to write this because...well...it hurts.  I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to burst into tears right now or that the pain didn't come back as I revisited this experience.  It hurt.  It still does.  It probably will for a while.  

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Wherever You Are


Yesterday, while out shopping for birthday presents for Lynnsie and Creek, I came across this little gem....


I love books. They are my favorite and forever will be.
The title caught my eye and I immediately thought of our son.
I decided to read through it...and then I stood in the aisle at Toys R Us
and cried like a mommy missing her little boy and wanting him home yesterday.
This became his first gift from me.
It is beautiful and true.

"I wanted you more than you will ever know,
so I sent love to follow wherever you go.
It's as high as you wish it.  It's quick as an elf.
You'll never outgrow it...it stretches itself!
So climb any mountain...climb up to the sky!
My love will find you.  My love can fly.
Make a big splash! Go out on a limb!
My love will find you. My love can swim!
It never gets lost, never fades, never ends...
if you're working...or playing...or sitting with friends.
You can dance 'til you're dizzy...paint 'til you're blue.
There's no place, not one, that my love can't find you.
And if someday you're lonely, or someday you're sad,
or you strike out at baseball, or think you've been bad...
just lift up your face, feel the wind in your hair.
That's me, my sweet baby, my love is right there.
In the green of the grass...in the smell of the sea...
in the clouds floating by...at the top of a tree...in the sound
crickets make at the end of the day...
'You are loved. You are loved. You are loved, ' they all say.
My love is so high, and so wide and so deep, it's always right there, 
even when you're asleep.
So hold your head high and don't be afraid
to march to the front of your own parade.
If you're still my small babe or you're all the way grown,
my promise to you is you're never alone.
You are my angel, my darling, my star...and my love will find you,
wherever you are."

Author, Nancy Tillman

I told you it was perfect for him.  Even more than the words, the beautiful illustrations throughout the book are of this little boy, just doing little boy things - swimming, playing, running through the woods...swinging off of a rope into a pond, with his canoe off to the side.  It's like a little glimpse of the things my son will do, what his life will be like with us.

And, so, sweet little boy...
I may not have written the perfect words above,
but they are a perfect description of my love for you.
We are praying and waiting and coming for you.  We 
will shower you with more love than you can imagine.  We will
tell you of the One who loves you even more than we can imagine.
Whether it's a great day or a really hard "adjusting and attaching" day, our
love will be right there where you are.  It will never go away.  It will only grow.
It will stretch to the point that others may think it will break, but it will not.
Because it can't break.  It will always be there - it will follow and
meet you "wherever you are".
Love, Mommy


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Class of 2026

Kindergarten, here she comes!!

Packing up her backpack, getting ready to leave!!


"When I grow up, I still want to be your little girl." - Anna Beth Coleman 8/16/13

I just might hold her to that.


We are super excited to have Mrs. Lovitt for kindergarten!!! AB's favorite thing is her spikey hair!!



All smiles for a great first day. Never have I ever been so happy to see this kid!! 

Except maybe the day she was born...


He kinda missed her all day as he walked from room to room yelling, "Sissy?!! Sissy?!!"


We celebrated with a yummy supper at Rotolo's Pizza that night. And then mommy needed a coffee break with friends to take it all in!!

I'm so proud of this little girl. There's a big chunk of my heart that just wants to hold on tight and never let her go...but then I wouldn't see the plans God has for her. She has a big heart with a big love for Jesus and her family. She's a smart little girl and she will do great. 

No doubt about it.

I just wish she would achieve that greatness a teenie bit slower...







Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Worst Piece of Adoption Paperwork EVER!

The title says it all.

This post is hard.  It's taken me almost 2 months to write it all down.  Maybe because it reminded me that I felt like the worst person in the world while filling out this one piece of paper.  Never mind that a licensed psychologist had stated that we were appropriate parents to adopt.  Or that a social worker had looked into the depths of our family and home and said we would be excellent parents to an adopted child.  In filling out this form, I felt awful. Selfish.  Picky. Horrible.  Undeserving of any child.

I bet if you ask any adoptive family what's the one piece of paper they hated filling out the most - it would be the child desired form, or at least that's the "title" of the form for our agency, anyway.  They're all the same, though...a massive list of potential and common medical needs that a child may or may not have as a diagnosis.

It's the worst piece of paperwork in the whole process.  It's literally a checklist...complete with "yes", "no", or "maybe"...and you have to determine your yes's, no's, and maybe's.

You feel absolutely wretched while doing it.

So, how did we do it?

We prayed. We prayed not only for what our yes's should be, we asked God, "How do we complete this list?!"

When I was pregnant with each of my kiddos, I wasn't given a checklist of what type of child I "desired" or would accept.  And I'll admit, it'd be nice if there were such a checklist with things like

not prone to tantrums
potty trains easily
immediately sleeps through the night
does not know how to disobey
listens attentively to mommy and daddy all the time
does not tattle
does not whine
does not complain
does not argue with siblings
not prone to tantrums...

But, like I said, there was no such list.

So why a list now?  Why was I forced to fill out such a list for this child? The simple truth is, there are a lot of orphaned children - especially in foreign countries - who have medical special needs ranging from mild and easily correctable to severe, lifelong needs.  And it is each family's responsibility to determine what medical needs they are open to accepting.

In one way, I felt that by marking "no" on any of the listed conditions, I was saying that a child with that medical condition wasn't good enough to be my child - but that's not the case at all.  The fact that I have any children is a blessing, because the Lord knows that I do not deserve the honor of being called "Mommy." I fail at that way too often.  Any and every child is more than good enough for me. Maybe I also felt like I wouldn't be good enough to be that child's mother, I don't know...

It was also horrible, because so many children available for international adoption have been completely looked over by everyone in their family and their ENTIRE COUNTRY before they make it the international adoption list.  And often times (but not all of the time), it is children with these medical needs who have not been chosen.  And now I was asked to "not choose" some of them again...

So back to the "how did we fill out the worst piece of adoption paperwork EVER" question:
1. We prayed.
2. We prayed, again.
3. We researched over 100 common medical issues our agency provided us with on this dreadful form that had explanations that we could barely understand.
4. We kept praying.
5. We separately, and without discussing with each other, filled the horrible form out.
6. Any of the medical conditions that we had both marked were put on the Master List.
7. We prayed.
8. We discussed any conditions that did not match up - not to look for excuses or try to convince the other of changing their mind, but to make sure we both had the same understanding of that condition and what all it would entail for our family.  During these discussions, there were conditions that one of us had misunderstood and those conditions were added to the Master List.
9. We held onto this Master List for a couple of days and continued praying, just to make sure it was "right".

I think I stated earlier that it was hard...something along the lines of being the worst piece of adoption paperwork EVER! But we had to do it.  It was a necessary part of our process.  We had to trust God as we filled it out.  We had to look at each of our beautiful children and determine whether or not being open to a certain condition would take us away from them or cause us to neglect them in some way.  We know that our family could not take on a child with a medical condition that involved months-long stays in the hospital or would require us, as parents, to focus all of our time and energy and resources on one child and have nothing left for our other 3 children.  We could not choose that.

And that's the key here.  We have a choice.  A hard one, for sure.  But God laid certain desires on our hearts leading us to certain conditions and others He turned us away from.  He knows exactly who our child is and what his needs will be and He knows that He will equip us to handle them.  This form looks different for every single family.  And for some families, any medical conditions are completely out of the question - and that is okay.  I would never dare tell another adoptive family to choose or not choose a child with a certain medical condition - that is something that is strictly between that family and Jesus.

What I would tell any family considering adoption, is to be open.  To pray.  Really, really pray. Try to understand each condition enough that you can consider in light of your entire family.  Seek the Lord so much and so often that you fear you just might get on His nerves (you won't, by the way - I don't believe He could ever get enough of us and enough of pouring His love and wisdom out over us and having us stay in communication with Him!).  Be open to considering things you just might never have considered.  I know we sure did...and it's scary, crazy, amazing, and good.

*I know that we are very open to discussing many aspects of our adoption process and have encouraged you to ask questions if you have them, but this is one aspect that is off limits. Please respect this and do not ask us about any specific or potential medical needs our son may or may not have. We will share only what is necessary in order to advocate and educate other adoptive families in a private manner. Please feel free to ask any other questions you may have regarding how we made our decisions for our Master List. Thanks so much for understanding!


Monday, August 12, 2013

100 Pesos


Last spring, our church's preschool department did a "Make Change for Orphans" campaign.  Our preschoolers decorated old coffee cans and set them all over our church for 8 weeks and asked our church family to bring all of their spare change from the week and drop it in.  One Sunday, we gathered up a couple of our older preschoolers and we went to each Sunday School class and passed the cans around - explaining that there over 150 million orphans around the world, over 100,000 children in America waiting to be adopted, and that all of the spare change they were dropping into the decorated cans were going to a ministry called Show Hope and they would help families adopt these children.  It was so precious taking them around to collect spare change - and dollar bills - from our church family.

One of my most favorite parts of this campaign was counting the money.  I've always loved to count money.  I have a system and I'm usually right on target after counting it several times.  I don't mind the way my hands are all grimy feeling after I'm done and I don't worry about where every single finger has been that has touched every single piece of money that I'm counting...although I do a thorough hand-washing when I'm done.  But this isn't why this was my favorite part of this campaign.  Maybe my favorite part was a little selfish...but here goes.

The first part of counting money for me (and probably most people) is to sort out each coin into piles.  I always, always, ALWAYS look for simple things my kids can do so they can be a part of whatever I'm doing.  Taking a meal to someone - they can stir in an ingredient; cooking for a sick friend - help me decide on the menu and deliver it; collecting items for someone in need - they pick some out, too, and help deliver them.  For this project of counting this huge pile of money - AB got to help sort out the coins with me.

During the weeks leading up to counting all of the change, I had been in a hard place with our adoption.  It was still several months before we would start the process, but we had settled on Colombia earlier that year.  During these weeks, I was doubting it whether or not Colombia was where our son was.  I prayed and prayed and waited for God to confirm that our hearts were set on the right country and that they were aligned with His plans for our family.

I've mentioned before that one of my favorite things about being a mommy is when God uses our children to speak to me....through simple acts or words they say, songs they sing, questions they ask...any of the ways that He uses them. While AB was sorting out a small pile of coins that I gave her, she held up one coin and said, "This one's different mommy.  What is it?"

My heart nearly burst with joy and tears flooded my eyes as I looked and saw this...



A Colombian coin.  Right there at my kitchen table - in my daughter's curious little fingers, sitting among over $600 worth of change given to this campaign by First Baptist Church of Slidell, was God's clear answer to my prayer.  Even as AB and I sat there sorting and counting money, talking about who knows what - my heart and mind were on Colombia and asking God if we were on the right path.  I took this as a clear "YES!!" from Him.  And it was so gloriously sweet.

In my last post I told you we might have to switch countries due to some recent changes in Colombia's adoption program.  We still don't know if we will, at some point, have to change countries.  But as Jacob and I were talking about it this weekend - he reminded me of this coin.  He reminded me that God spoke and affirmed just what we'd asked Him.  Jacob feels so strongly that Colombia is where God has led us.  I don't disagree with him by any means...my problem is the fear - what if we turn everything in and they tell us "no" and then we have to switch countries; what if they tell us "yes" but the wait is going to be so much longer than we anticipated; what if they tell us "yes" and God tells us to open our hearts to an adoption that we never dreamed we'd be open to?

But what if we say no, when God has confirmed in so many ways that we are on His path?

What if we ignore Him and miss out on pivotal moments in our lives that would only strengthen our faith and dependence on Him?

What if we ran away and tried to take control and just made a big 'ole mess of things?

Those are not chances we are willing - or want - to take.

We want to stay with Him.

We will stay in Colombia unless they kick us out and say "We don't want you!".  And if that happens, we will trust.  We will know.  We will remember who He is and what He loves and what He does.  

I recorded this in my journal today:
""Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you, therefore He will rise up to show you compassion.  for the LORD is a God of justice.  Blessed are all who wait for Him." Isaiah 30:18
God wants to bring justice and compassion to the orphan - to my son. He has called us to Him and He is directing us to our son.  We will wait for Him in the uncertainty, remembering that He is the great I AM."

So with 100 Pesos in our hands, our son in our hearts, and our eyes on Him...we will continue with Colombia in our journey to bring our son home.





Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Which Road to Follow

Friends, adoption has a beautiful ending...one family, one child, finally together forever.
But it has an ugly beginning and a hard journey.
Today, I'm going to fill you in on one of the hard parts of our journey.

In a recent post, I was so excited to tell you that our family was being actively advocated for with the Colombian adoption people.  I was on cloud 1,009!  It didn't mean our process would speed up, but it did mean an active search was being made to match us with our son.

And then we got other news...

In the spring, I told you about the director of adoptions for Colombia resigned and it could possibly mean some changes in the adoption process.  Hear me on this, please...any changes that are going to make the process better, more efficient, and quicker for these children deserves a hallelujah in my book.  But sometimes that can mean it won't be the best for our family.

Since the resignation of the director, a few changes have occurred...the most recent affecting our family.
Colombia initially said they were only going to allow international families to adopt children who had special characteristics: older children, sibling groups, or children with medical needs.  No big deal as we are open to medical needs that our family can take on...more on that later.

Well, now they've said they are going to focus (with international families) on the 11,000+ children on their waiting list who are available for adoption at this very minute.  It's crazy ridiculous that there are that many children ready and waiting...just waiting.  How does this affect our family?

The children on these list are the ones that are very hard to place...sibling groups, older children, and children with severe medical needs.  We cannot adopt siblings, we are adamant on keeping the birth order of our children for several reasons, and the medical needs that are most often found on this list are out of the range of medical needs that we, as a family, can take on.

What does that mean? 
We may have to switch countries.

You may remember how we bounced all over the world before we finally landed on Colombia in a beautiful way.  In the months since then, I have dreamed about and prayed about a little Colombian boy who would be mine.  I have been caught creepily lovingly staring at precious little Hispanic toddlers wondering if my son would resemble him or would like the same activities.  

The good thing is, our country has adoption programs in 15 countries and as long as we stay with our agency, which we will, we will not lose any of the fees that we have already paid.  

While we haven't received clear direction from the Lord to leave the Colombia program, nor has our social worker advised us to do so, we have begun researching other programs within our agency.

Is this type of change normal in adoption? There is nothing "normal" in adoption - except that at the end of the long, winding, up and down, journey a family is finally complete.  Change happens a LOT in international adoption.  Countries suspend their programs for a while, they shut them down, dossiers are unexpectedly denied...it happens.  We knew it would happen when we started.

To say that this doesn't hurt my heart a little would be a lie.  I'm confused and I feel like we are wandering, again.  But I take comfort in knowing that I can "Trust in the Lord with all of my heart and lean not into my own understanding. In all of my ways I will acknowledge Him...and He will direct my path." Pro. 3

We will keep "Seeking first His kingdom...and all these things will be added to us." Matthew 6

With "Prayer and thanksgiving, we will present our requests to God...and the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard our hearts and minds." Phil. 4

We know that in all of the confusion and frustration and heartache, as we "pass through the waters, He will be with us; and when we pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over us. When we walk through the fire, we will not be burned; the flames will not set us ablaze." Isaiah 43

We know that Colombia was "our" plan a...and it still may be where our son is.  But we also know the Lord declares that "His thoughts are not our thoughts, nor are His ways our ways." (Isiah 55) and that He saw this coming from the very beginning...from the time He formed Jacob and I in our mother's womb, He knew the plans that He had for us and every single thing that they involved.

So here's what I want you to know:
You can trust in these truths, as well,....no matter what you are facing.  God wants you to be His, He wants to walk through the good, the bad, and the ugly in whatever journey you're on.  Ours is international adoption where nothing is certain, nothing concrete, nothing secure....except for the journey itself....it is certain, it is concrete, and it is securely held in the palm of His hands.  Our son, wherever He is, 
will be ours in God's time and in His way.

It's no coincidence that the song "Help me Find It" comes on the radio every. single. time. I have gotten into the car the past 2 weeks (I heart LifeSongs)  Here's the chorus:

"If there's a road I should walk, help me find it.
If there's a need to be still, give me peace for the moment.
Whatever Your will, whatever Your will.
Would you help me find it."

That is our prayer...that God would show us the road to follow, that He would show us that we need to be still and wait - granting us peace in the process, and that He would help us find His will ... whatever it is.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Road trip

We moved to Louisiana almost 7 years.  At leas twice a year Jacob would mention that he wanted to go back to Rayville, LA for a visit.  When his parents were in training to prepare for international missions, they lived in this small, quiet, charming little town for about a year and a half.  Jacob has so many memories jam-packed into his time there.  The past few weeks have been very up and down for us, so earlier last week we decided this past weekend was the perfect time for a little mini-roadtrip.  We left on Saturday and came home on Sunday night.  Here's a little recap....

We loaded up on easy snacks and lunches to have in the car...saved some major cash this way!


Loaded up and ready to go!


Jacob spent many hours of his 6th and 7th year of life playing in this water


This is the house they lived in....it's actually in a small community called Holly Ridge..like 1 blinking yellow light, kind of small community.  


The road that leads to a bridge that was another favorite hang-out of Jacob and his friend, Rusty



While one of my favorite parts of the trip was seeing a little piece of where Jacob grew up, the girls
were ecstatic to get to stay in a hotel....


One thing about Rayville, LA....it's 20 minutes from the Duck Commander!!
Sadly, no sightings of the bearded men that day ;(



Uncle Si has enjoyed many glasses of sweet
tea right here...as seen on Duck Dynasty!



I took this picture for my grandad...it's the Korean War Veterans Memorial Highway.
Thanks, Denden, for your service to this great country.


And this beautiful church is so full of love - many of them remembered Jacob, his sister, and parents, still pray for them, and were super excited to see him and his family.  They welcomed us all as if we were there to stay! If you're ever passing through Rayville, LA - I highly suggest visiting FBC Rayville :)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Providing, Moving On, & Advocating


Providing...

He funds what He favors.
  
I really wish I'd come up with that phrase.  Our home study social worker told it to me first, she'd read it on another adoptive dad's blog.  Basically, if God wants you to do something, He's going to make a way, He's going to provide - all He asks is obedience from us and He'll do the rest!  He loves children.  He repeatedly tells us to take care of orphans in His Word.  So...if He wants a family to adopt a precious, orphaned child...why would He not provide a way for that to happen? I just wanted to show you how much He has provided for our adoption over the past 6 months:
 Donations: $4,270
Adoption T-Shirts: $1,750
Adoption Cookbooks: $2,005
Adoption Yard Sale: $1,485
Jamberry Nails: $1,550
Other (overtime opportunities, piano lessons, tax returns): $4,000+
Total: $15,060
This total combined with what we started with means WE ARE ALMOST THERE! It's been so incredibly amazing watching God do all of this...trust me, it hasn't been anything we've done or are doing - it's ALL HIM!!

We're now ready to start applying for adoption grants. Please join us in prayer as we start this portion of our journey.  There are a lot of families out there who will apply for these grants every month.  The men and women involved in these various ministries have a great task before them each time they meet to review, pray over, and decide who will be awarded one of their precious grants.  Please pray for them as they make their decisions - whether it is to award a grant to our family or another family.  We know that God will provide the remaining funds in the perfect amount of time in His perfect way!!
*Note: We still have a few t-shirts and cookbooks available. If you'd like one, comment below, Facebook me, or email me at jmalcoleman@gmail.com!

Moving On...

Our home study was recently completed and finalized - on my birthday to be exact!! Now, we are compiling our dossier (a fancy word for "a stack of papers we send overseas") and waiting on our immigration approval (the US says it's okay for us to adopt a child from overseas).

Each country has different requirements for a families dossier and ours is not quite as intense as others.  It will include our home study, psyc evals, medical clearances, birth certificates, marriage certificates, employment letters, name change verification letter (for me), FBI and state criminal background checks, passport photos, and 10 color photos showing our little boy a glimpse into the family he'll be joining once we are matched with him (I'm really excited/nervous about this one - it makes it so real, but I want it to be perfect for his first glimpse of us!!) Each of these items have to be notarized, sent to our agency, apostilled (I have no idea??) and then forwarded to Colombia - where it will be translated.

Advocating...

And now for some exciting news!!  Our social worker, Beth, called last week to update me on our case. She had just gotten out of a staff meeting which included our in-country rep/attorney, Raul.  I've never met Raul, but he's one of my favorite people because of all the work he's done and will do on our family's behalf. Anyway - Raul had just reviewed our files and our child desired form (still working on that post, y'all...it's just hard and it stinks).  He loves our file and the parameters we have set for the child we are able to adopt!! Now that we are home study approved, he's going to start actively advocating for our family in Colombia - meaning he's going to keep our family's name and file out there and really look for children that match our parameters!!

Beth was quick to assure me that this didn't mean our process would go any faster or be any quicker - nothing can really determine the time line of an adoption because, well, we're not Jesus.  But it's so exciting to know that they are finally able to actively work on our behalf to seek out, find, and connect us with our son!!!

Please pray for Raul and the many families that he serves in this capacity and especially for our little boy who may very well be waiting for us right now.

That's about all for now on the adoption front - thanks so much for continuing to check on us, support us, and - most importantly - pray for us!!!  We really can't tell you how much it means to us!

Have a Happy Weekend!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Smile for the Camera

We recently had family pictures made.  This might have been the best round of pictures. EVER!! Our friend Maggi, of Maggie Moreau Photography, did mini-sessions to raise money for an upcoming mission trip she is going on later this year.  Awesome photographer + amazing family pics + mission funding = PERFECT PHOTO SESSION in my book!! Go check her out if you're in the Slidell area.  She also did Creek's one year pictures - she's so awesome!!!!  Anyway, here are some of my favorites from the sessions - we booked 2: 1 for family pictures in our adoption t-shirts and 1 for the kiddos...it was perfection!!