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.