Friday, September 28, 2012

Come and gone...

Well, our one year mark - September 23rd - has come and gone with little fanfare. I must admit, I'm a little disappointed. I had hoped that we would have received something that would have made it a great day. Granted, we've been in this adoption place since December of 2010, but our paperwork was approved on September 23rd of 2011. So we've passed the one year mark of being in this tedious paper chase and we're coming up on 2 years of accepting the call to adopt. Gosh, has it really been that long? It doesn’t seem like it.

I'm not going to sugar coat it. These last few months, weeks, and especially days have been incredibly rough. Many of you know the situation surrounding my dad - well, he was sentenced in court on Monday. He'll be serving out 20 months (in addition to the 10 he's already served) in federal prison. He'll most likely have his residency revoked and be deported after serving his time. This was one day after our 1 year adoption paperwork-iversary. So to say this week has been rough is a serious understatement. I think this has been the hardest week I've had in a very, very long time.

This week, everything just seemed to grate on my nerves. I tried to put on my happy face and go through the motions. But most everyone could see right through that. I'm clinging to God with everything I've got. No, scratch that, He's clinging to me. Because I don't think I've had the strength to keep holding on.

But KC reminded me of something last night: each time that our situation has become just completely unbearable, He shows up in a big way soon after. So I'm holding tight to that. This week was the pits. I think of the scene in The Holiday when Kate Winslet slaps herself in the face and says "Low point!" and shakes herself out of her despair. Then, a few moments later everything changes for the better. I'm hoping our moment comes soon.

I hate feeling like this and have been in constant prayer this week. I even got "irked" with KC last night just so I could point my anger and frustration to something tangible. So, I tried to pick a fight. Then I realized how utterly ridiculous I was being and had to apologize to KC. He kind of laughed about it, but I felt so horrible. I don't like being upset. I'm not na├»ve, but I like to see the positive in things - I like people telling me that they love that I'm always smiling. This week was just one of those times where I've been overwhelmed with taking 2 steps forward just to get knocked 4 steps back. And instead of remembering everything that God has done for us, I was content to just be …. frazzled.

So while I'm on the upward spiral, I'm still not quite to the top. So prayers would be more than appreciated. I've had so many people rallying behind us, behind me, that I feel awful that I'm still getting out of this muck. But some days, it takes a bit more effort on our part. It is only through God's strength that I'm able to continue traversing this mountain. It will all be worth it. MORE than worth it when we finally see a picture of her. The hard is what makes ALLLLLLLL of this worth it.

Because I will be able to look back and see that it wasn't through me that this happened, but through Him. That on this week, when I couldn't do anything but fret, He was still working for us. I can't see what He sees.

So while I'm in this place of 'bleh', I know He's working on making everything come together for us. Maybe not in the way I'd like or as quickly as I'd like, but in His own way (that is WAY better than my way) and His timing. Why? Because He adores me and hates to see me cry. Because He adores Effie and hates to see her alone.  ©



Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Unfortunately, some things just don't work out….

You know that feeling you get when you allow yourself to get excited about something? How it's all you can seem to think about no matter how hard you try to change your thoughts? Yeah, it's easy to get that way in Adoption-Land; but sometimes I wonder if it'd be better not to.

You see, there was this little girl that grabbed hold of our attention, of my attention. She was on our agency's Waiting Children list. She stared back at me with beautiful brown eyes. But she was older than what our home study said we would accept. Then last Friday happened and we changed our acceptance age up to 4 years old. She was 3. KC and I talked about her Friday night. And Saturday. And Sunday. And we prayed about her. Looked up everything we could regarding a few of her "conditions". They seemed to be big words for little problems. Sunday we prayed some more and decided that our next best step would be to at least find out more information about her.

Monday I emailed our International Coordinator (IC) and requested more information on her. She replied back quickly with a "I'm so glad you're interested in one of our Waiting Children!!". Waiting children are younger children with "special needs" or children over the age of 5 with or without "special needs". Our IC gave us some more information about her. We prayed more and discussed all our options. KC and I agreed that after getting even more information on her that we would continue to pray and we would only move ahead if we felt peace about it.

Let me interject here and say, we don't want to force something that shouldn't happen. We don't want to be so eager to have a daughter that we charge recklessly ahead. There is a little girl that is meant to be a part of our family - and we have to be patient and trust in that.

After getting more information early this morning (we're choosing to keep a lot of the details to ourselves), we did not feel peace about it. The main thing holding us back was not any of her special needs, but the fact that she was from another African country. God led us to Ethiopia and as of right now, we don't feel like He's changing that. Also, each country has its own set of rules, paperwork, fees, travel times, etc. and that country was a lot different than Ethiopia. As a result, we had to say no. And it. was. HARD. It would have been a lot harder had I poured over her picture day in and day out and convinced myself that this was it.

So what about her? What about this little girl? Well for starters I have a new person to add to my prayer list. After this all happened, I asked God to please give me something for her (and for me). I pulled up my morning devotional and for once, it had nothing to do with what we were going through. Ha-ha. I thought, oh poo. Then, as I got to the bottom there was a paragraph that caught my attention. It had a few verses in it. I saw Luke 12:7 and knew I needed to look it up.

  I love when I read a verse and in my head He's speaking directly to me. He told me He never forgets a single orphan. And not to be afraid because she is more valuable to Him than the sparrows of the air.

So even though it didn't work out, she's being taken care of. Not by me, but by Him. He adores her. I like to think that she's someones already. I pray that a family comes in to adopt her. I pray that they've already begun the process. One positive in this is that she has one more person standing in the gap and praying on her behalf.

And us? We're doing alright. It's never easy when something doesn't work out like you think it should. But KC and I are confident that we are exactly where we are supposed to be. And Effie, she's exactly where she's supposed to be right now. Waiting. That's the common thread of our family no matter how far apart we are. We are just waiting.   ©



Friday, September 14, 2012

Program Update - Wait Times

I checked my inbox this morning and saw an email from our agency with the subject line: Program Update. This is the update we'd been waiting 2 weeks for. This is the update that lets us know what the new wait times are. I ain't gonna sugar coat it for ya - it. was. ugly. The wait times have nearly doubled. Yep, you read that right - doubled. The wait time for a child 0-3 for someone who turned in their dossier in August (that's not even us yet) is up to 31 months. That's close to 3 years. There are over 150 families waiting for a 0-3 year old right now; actually, they're probably waiting for a baby.

KC and I put in our home study and dossier that we would accept a child 0 to 2 1/2 years old. We wanted her to be close to Oliver's age. But Oliver is quickly coming up on 4, so we're rethinking our acceptance age. KC and I never really thought we'd receive a referral for a "baby". We actually were hoping for a toddler, one closer in age to both of the boys.

After reading the update together, KC and I decided to email our social worker to see if we could change our age up to 4 years old. (I'll let you guys know once we receive a reply back on that.) If she's a little older than Oliver, that's okay. We just don't want her to be older than Caedmon. We're praying it won't be hard to change that information. Even if it is - we've not even been submitted to Ethiopia yet, so we're okay with waiting a smdige longer. 

One thing that the update didn't mention this time, was the wait times for those open to "special needs" children. KC and I prayed over that three page medical questionnaire and checked 'yes' or 'WTD' (willing to discuss) on a lot of the conditions. There were some that we knew we just weren't equipped to handle, but a lot of them were ones that God specifically laid on our hearts. Whether or not she has any special needs is up to Him, but we are obeying Him. We're also researching as many of those needs as we can so we are as knowledgeable as we can be. Last time they updated us, the wait time for families open to "special needs" was 11-13 months at the longest. That could have changed as well. They don't have as good of a timeline for special need adoptions, as there are fewer families open to that. So it's a close guesstimate I guess.

Anywhoo! KC and I calmly discussed our where our hearts were, and what our options were. I would love to have a baby girl, but I'm just beyond excited to have a daughter - so I don't care what her age is. I know that I'm in a much closer place with God right now, because this bummer news, didn't actually bum me out. It actually kind of excited KC and I. We realized, maybe this was the nudge we needed to step out of our comfort zone even more! I honestly did not think that was possible! haha! But as we were talking about it, we thought "How great would it be to have them all right around the same age? To do stuff all together and not worry that Effie can't do such-and-such because she's not old enough". So, it was decided.   J

Just a nice tip for you: Don't ever think you're at a place of "safeness" in God's plan.  J  We thought we were pretty much set on ALL of our stuff, then we get thrown another curve ball. But AGAIN, this curve ball has turned out to be a blessing! There are a few girls on our agency's wait list that I just can't get out of my mind. That might be because I'm just praying for a family for them, praying for my daughter and eagerly awaiting her arrival, or…....... who knows what God has up His sleeve? (Like how I'm bein' all sly like?) The absolute best thing KC and I can do is keep praying - praying for continued wisdom, guidance, strength, and grace. Yes, even for grace; because we screw up a lot.  J 

I'm not upset or sad. And that is amazing for me. God is molding me through this adoption. I don't react to disappointment the way I used to. I know now that God can use those "bummer bits of news" that we get and turn it around. We have to always look for the blessing or the positive in a situation. It's always there, we just choose whether or not we see it. It won't always be easy (trust me, I feel 100% entitled to throwing a fit and crying whilst eating 3 pints of Ben & Jerry's Half Baked ice cream in my pj's and playing on Pinterest), but it's so much better than always living in the shadow of the negatives; of almost expecting more bad news. It's only through His grace I've emerged from that trap.

Adoption is full of unknowns, LIFE is full of unknowns. So just take it one day at a time and remember to always choose joy.   ©


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The bad, the good, and the messy

Well, even though we don’t have any big big news, I thought I’d go ahead and update everyone on what’s been happening these last few weeks. First the not-so-great-news.

We had our fingerprinting appointment with USCIS yesterday.  It took a chunk out of our day; also, the people there weren’t very friendly so I forgot to take a picture. Boo.  L  I thought we might get in trouble since we weren’t supposed to have our cell phones in there anyway. But, no matter what the experience, at least it’s done! One more baby step! In doing some research, it looks like it could take about 2 weeks to get our approval! (This was per a lot of Internet research and experience based on our friends here in Arkansas.)

Our agency has our Dossier in Little Rock. They decided not to get it state sealed until we get our Immigration approval. So, I’m really praying that we get that in 2 weeks! So, that was kind-of another boo moment.  L  

We also found out from our agency that due to all the continued slowdowns in Ethiopia, they have decided to officially extend the wait times. They will give us an updated wait time list by Saturday. (Boo again) 

But, despite all of this, I did not have a breakdown. That was huge. Despite all of the “bad” news, all I could do was say “Well, that’s unfortunate” and continue on in my day. But please, don’t mistake this as me not caring. I do care. More than a lot of you can understand. I care deeply. But I also know that adoption is full of ups and downs and entirely full of unknowns. So there is no sense in me getting all upset and curling up in the fetal position wailing about something WAY out of my control. I’m upset. I’m sad. I want her to be home. But I know that right now, in this moment, all I can do is keep on doing what I’m doing: praying, working, taking care of the boys, hanging out with KC, preparing her room, finishing paperwork…. As much as it hurts that she’s not here, all I can do is continue to live our life in the hopes that she’ll be here soon.

Now, don’t think we got ALL bad news.

We FINALLY got a call from Mrs. B at Lifesong for Orphans regarding our grant. She just needed clarification on a few things, and wanted to chat about our adoption. It was not nearly as nerve wracking as I made it out to be. Haha! She was super sweet and it was a nice call. She will be making her recommendation about our file to the Directors in the next few days. Then, we will find out in the next 2-3 weeks if we got it!

It looks like a lot of great things could happen right at our 1 year mark: USCIS approval, grant approval (prayerfully), Dossier state sealed and sent off for translation. So in the face of all the “unfortunately’s”, we are only a few weeks away from being on the wait-list. God has continued to be faithful to us, so I’ll continue to be faithful to Him.

Now, for some fun stuff! We had family pictures taken last Saturday with mi amiga Desiree. And man, did they turn out awesome!! We decided that since we’ve made the boys sit still for nice pictures twice in like 6 months (once was for our dossier), we’d have a fun shoot. I’m obsessed with Pinterest and saw pictures of a paint fight photo shoot. We. Were. Game! And luckily, so was Desiree! (she’s awesome, so if you’re looking for a photographer, check her out at Open Our Eyes Photography or ‘like’ them on Facebook OpenOurEyesPhotography Facebook) The boys LOVED it. They’re already asking when we can do it again. Desiree suggested mud next time. Our response? We take that challenge ma’am!  J

So, without further adieu, a sneak peek of our family fun paint fight!

This was our “angry war faces".

Kissy kissy!

This is one of my favorites. I jumped on KC’s back, so Caed tried to get Ollie to jump on his.  J

The final result.