Sunday, October 31, 2010

Been talking with God

Today we went to church and almost immediately I started crying again. I'm telling you, this crying in public this is getting really old. As the church began to sing I just stood and read the words:

Lead me to the cross
Where your love poured out
Bring me to my knees
Lord I lay me down
Rid me of myself
I belong to you
Lead me, lead me to the cross

I've been talking with God alot this weeknd...

How many times I have I sung this before?
Bring me to my knees.... Fine, I'm on my knees.
Ok! I admit it! I didn't mean it!
I didn't actually want to be brought to my knees!
I didn't mean it!
These words felt so loud in my head I actually expect those around me to turn and look at me.
Why is this so difficult? I am trying to do the right thing!
How could you dangle that carrot in front of me and then take half of it away!?!
Why would you let me fall in love with their little faces?
I want your blessings but I still want control! How can I let go?
It's too much to ask...

It made me realize something. After being disappointed just one time I am ready to build a wall around my heart, to not get too attached. One of the most difficult parts of bringing home older adopted children is getting them to let down their gaurd. They have been disappointed and let down so many times that they are in survival mode. Not only trying to survive with food and shelter but also trying to protect their little hearts. After just one heartbreak I am skidish. How much harder will it be for them? How long will it take for them to feel safe? To believe that it is true and not going to get yanked away?

I have no idea how we are going to navigate the road ahead. Yes, I know: God has a plan. But do you know how hard it is to follow Gods plan when you have to make big decisions along with way? Please pray that we will be able to make the right decisions, that we will be able to hear God's voice, and of course please pray for our children-to-be.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Unexpected heartache

This is so much more difficult than I could have ever predicted. Yesterday I was on top of the world. Life was so good. And even in that moment I realized that a fall from so high would really hurt... and I was right. Today I anxiously checked my email for the news I had been dying to get; only what I read was not at all what I expected.

Since the early years of our marriage we have planned on adopting a sibling pair at one time. We never felt the strong need for an infant so we figured it made sense to keep a pair together. A couple of years ago I started thinking 4... yes 4 siblings all at one time! I don't know why 4. I remember specifically discussing it one day in the car and Josh saying that he would be open to it but it would be many many more years before we could afford it. I didn't want to wait that long so I said let's just plan on 2. But the nagging in my head, and most of all my heart, never went away. Lately it had felt stronger and stronger. Josh said that he was okay with it and we agreed that we could find a way to make it work financially. So we started to pursue the possibility.

Three weeks ago we were moved from the homestudy department of our agency over to the Ethiopia department. Two weeks ago our case worker called us to give us an intro to the program. During this she informed us that sibling groups of 2 are common, groups of 3 are rare, and they have never seen a group of 4. I know she was just trying to be realistic but we felt like she was pressuring us to give up any thoughts of 3 or 4 siblings. I felt torn. I didn't know what to do. As I have said before, I believe that God speaks through our hearts. He doesn't boom down from heaven. Rather he speaks softly in a voice that can be heard if you stop and listen quietly.

A month ago, or so, I stumbled across the blog of a woman who had adopted 4 at once. It is such a unique thing that I asked if we could email and she kindly obliged (which is big as I am a stranger and she has 7 kiddos to consume her time). So after our call with our case worker I emailed her. I told her how I felt torn and asked her to pray. I had felt strongly the need to ask her specifically for this help. She agreed and also suggested that I check out a website called I had never heard of it. So I looked, and there were 4 beautiful faces. They were labeled "SIBLING GROUP OF 4". Now I believe God speaks softly but I also believe that at times he is very obvious. This felt obvious. We requested more information 11 days ago. We were told that the agency did not have details but that they were requesting details for us and would update us asap. At that point we did not know anything about them including their ages. We were guessing 3-10. We talked about it, prayed, thought, repeat, repeat, repeat. Their faces were in my minds eye everyday. A few days ago we were at the point that we were almost ready to commit to them in spite of so little information. We were ready to go. We were so ready.

Today I checked my email and there it was! Finally the answers we had been waiting for. Only it was not at all what I had waited for. The email stated that the 2 oldest are 8 and 10 years old but that the 2 youngest were no longer available. I was stunned to say the least. I shot back a reply to ask why and how. She explained that she did not have the details but that likely a family member said they could care for 2 of them but not all of them. At first I just stared. I didn't feel anything. And then it hit me. I started crying. And then I cried harder and then harder. Now let me note: I was at work. My office has 700 people and NO one has an office no matter their rank. Its just a big cubicle farm. I think this might teach me not to check my personal email at work. That was at about 9:15am. It is now 8:30pm and my eyes still burn, that salty scratchy feeling.

Thankfully I work with many dear friends. They all comforted me in their own way. Many said words to the effect of "God has a plan for you, he will bring you your children." I knew it to be true. And if the situation was reversed I probably would have said the very same words. And yet they were of no comfort to me.

We had long ago agreed very firmly that we would never split up a sibling group. Now in this case these kids are split up no matter what. In fact that is very common and we knew that. But we had said that we would never be the ones to do the splitting and so initially my mind was spinning so hard that both our immediate reactions was "no way, we can't take the 2 without the other 2". Of course the 2 little ones getting to stay with their family is a good thing. But we had let ourselves fall for them. When I first showed Josh their picture he said he didn't want to see any pictures. He said that he didn't want to fall for them until he knew it was for sure. But how can you choose who you adopt without knowing anything about them? Now I feel the same way.

I believe that God blesses adoption. In fact, I believe that he is the master of adoption having adopted all of us and loving us regardless of all our unlovable moments. But I do not believe that God designed adoption. I don't think it was in his design for a child to ever be without loving parents, in need of adoption. "Choosing" your children is not natural. It doesn't even feel right. How can we choose?

I do know that God has a plan for us. I do believe that He already knows exactly who our children are. But I am still brokenhearted. I thought we had found them. It seemed so perfect. I was so excited. At some time in the future we will look back at this and see that this was all a part of bringing us to the point we need to be to find our kids. But I am still hurting. It will pass. It already hurts less. But I never expected this heartache.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Operation Christmas Child

Have you ever heard of operation Christmas child? It is the program that delivers shoe boxes filled with gifts to children all around the world. Josh has an annual tradition of attending a charity golf tournament with our old church. The proceeds of that tournament go to support operation Christmas child. This year I made up a shoebox for him to take with him and donate at the tournament.

Last Sunday our church made an announcement about operation Christmas child and how they would be gathering boxes again this year. And suddenly I started crying. All I could think was "I wonder if our kids will get one this year". I've told you before that adoption can bring with it inconvenient emotions that strike at any time and without warning.

So when you give in the future, to whatever cause, remember that you are not just parting with your money and/or time. Remember that you are giving to someone, to a person, to someone's child, maybe even to our children without even knowing it, and most certainly to a child of God.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Want to hear a funny story?

Want to hear a funny story? This has nothing to do with adoption or finishing school. Just one of my clumsier moments in life.

This Sunday we were about to run out the door to church. At the last moment I decided I should take some medication. Josh was already out in the car. So I grabbed what appearred to be an almost empty water bottle. (We often have 1/2 empty ones laying around just waiting to make their way to recycling.) I always get the water in my mouth first and then pop the pill through my lips. So I took a big swig of water... or what I thought was water. Right away I knew something wasn't right but I couldn't figure out what. It tasted funny so after a few seconds (probably a couple seconds too many) I ran over to the sink to spit it out. Then my mouth started to burn and I knew what it was.... pure Russian vodka!

Ok, rewind a couple of months. I have had this decorative Russian decanter full of vodka for years. A few months ago I had some friends over for a girls night. We were testing out some mixed drinks and were in need of vodka for the recipe. So I opened up the good stuff. Well the bottle got to a point where there was only a little bit left and it was difficult to pour out of the decorative container. So I poured the remainer into an empty water bottle and put it up in the cupboard. Saturday night Josh can across this bottle in the cupboard and thought I had lost my mind again so he sat it out on the counter.... where I grabbed it and took a huge mouthful thinking it was water!

Well that was a surprise! I came out to the car still sputtering. Boy did Josh laugh when he heard the story!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Accept into the Ethiopia program

We have been officially accepted into the Ethiopia program! This doesn't really mean anything other than our paperwork has moved from the homestudy department of our agency to the Ethiopia department. But its progress!

We got a call from our case manager called us and went over things. I don't think we really learned anything new except for what is normal in terms of siblings. We learned that sets of 2 is common. They have placed a few groups of 3 in the past but she doesn't remember them ever placing a group of 4. This was interesting. Maybe a group of 4 will come along and since it is very rare that anyone ever specifically say that they are interested in a group of 4 it would seem like a sign from above, don't you think? My mind has been kind of stuck on 4 lately. But then again maybe they are 2.... It is more common and financially and logistically easier.... But then again I don't think that matters. God's plan for us is his plan. So time will tell. :)

What to expect: Anniversaries will be rough

In our adoption class we were told that anniversaries can be rough for kids, even if they were just toddlers when adopted. They tend to act up a little more than normal. Thankfully a little extra love and reassurance does the trick. But it is interesting to me that even a little one tunes into this even when they don't understand months and dates like that.

I read the blog of another woman the other day and I came across her retelling of they day her son prayed for another orphan. He saw a photo of an orphan and he got upset. His mom asked if he would like to pray for the baby and he proceeded to pray "God, baby hurt--give daddy...and mama..." "No starvin God" he prayed this over and over finishing with "Amen!" (I recommend reading the full story for yourself.) Here is the part the really got me: he was only 20 months at the time and obviously was younger when brought home. I used to think that a toddler couldn't understand or at least that they would forget. Naturally memories fade, but this little boy was praying that God would give this baby a mom, a dad, for protection, for food, and a family. He understood. He knew what he had been through. He hadn't just been through trauma; he remembered it. He understood. I'm not sure how to explain how that hits me.

The beautiful thing is that he developed a heart for others experiencing the same. I can only pray the same for our children.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

What to expect: We might face rejection.

Thankfully many people have walked this road before us. We attended a required 2 day class with our agency. One day was about adoption in general and the other was about adopting older kids. I have also learned so much from other people's blogs telling their own stories.

It is easier for me to tell you about these things now while they are hypothetical. Once they become real they will also become personal. I will want to respect our children's privacy and as such I do not plan on sharing all the details. But these details can be helpful if you are thinking through adoption. So I will try to share these things now when I can talk about them in general.

So today I will tell you about one thing that we have been told to expect. Because we are adopting older children, our children might very possibly reject one of us. It is most likely to be me. It is possible that our children will have had bad experiences with men in which case Josh might be the subject of rejection. It is more likely that they will have had less exposure to men in which case a relationship with a man would be a novelty. If our children have spent any significant amount of time in an orphanage (which is likely), it is possible that they might see a female caretaker as someone who feeds you but not does stick around for the tough stuff. So it is very possible that they will reject me. I have heard about this happening with others and for those who did not expect it they naturally took it pretty hard. I hope that expecting this would make it less painful for me. I don't know how it could be not painful at all as you would be both rejected and know that your child has experienced pain that no child should experience that would lead him/her to feel this way. So in this way I expect to be broken hearted. The hope that comes with this is that you will be able to teach them to trust again. But it will take time to prove to them that it really is safe to love us both.

Sorry, this is not really a cheery subject. But is something that I am sharing with you now because if/when it becomes personal, I might choose not to share.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Single digits!!!!

As of last night, I now have only 9 classes to attend in order to complete my master's degree. Single digits!!! I estimate that between homework, reading, and class time I have about 100-120 hours left to put in.

I can totally see the light at the end of the tunnel. And on the other side of it is a trip to Mexico to celebrate! I can't wait!

Our homestudy is complete!

Our homestudy is officially complete! This is a huge milestone. I am so glad to be done with it.

What next? Next our agency sends a form to the US government requesting permission for us to immigrate kiddos. I am told it takes about 2 months to get approved. After that we officially go on the waitlist.

In the meantime I am still working on our dossier. This the set of documents for the Ethiopian government. I have gotten everything authenticated except 2 documents, which are our medical forms. I got them once already but the WA Secretary of State rejected them because the notary's seal did not have an expiration date on it. It took me 3.5weeks to get them the first time so I was pretty happy to find out that they were ready again for the second time in less than a week. But.... they spelled my name wrong. So I left a voicemail this morning letting them know that I needed it done a third time. Third time's a charm, right?!

I have been told that the Ethiopia program coordinator from our agency will be contacting me withing the next couple of days to go over anything else.

We are making progress!!!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Last textbook

I bought what I believe will be my last book for school... ever. I thought you might like to see it. Yes, I am serious. My final case study for my oral exams is completely statistics oriented. I wanted to make sure that I did not make any basic mistakes. So I found a book that covers all the basics. :)