Thursday, March 31, 2011

finally, a decision...

I don't know if I'll ever be one of those bloggers who posts a couple times a week let alone every day, so sorry if you're looking for frequent updates. I just can't seem to get on here more than once a week. I dunno...perhaps when things are trucking along more and there's more to update you on, I'll be a little more 'on it.' Nonetheless...

The good news is that we've finally made a decision surrounding where we think God would like to take our adoption journey. We're headed to China! Specifically to adopt through the China Special Needs or China Special Focus program. Wow. Kinda crazy, but very exciting. Of course, this process is feeling a little blind to me, so who knows what course God will take us on truly. I will rule out nothing now that I know things can change on a dime. And the more stories I hear, the more I'm learning that this is adoption. Shift, twist, turn, change. Up, down and everywhere. We care less about the direction (specifically the country) we go in and more about staying in step with God and where the Holy Spirit is leading us. For me, easier said than done sometimes.

Little did we know that switching countries would be so involved. We're having to apply within our agency to the China Program. More paperwork. We're having to contact families who've adopted from China Special Needs to speak to them about their experience. We're having to do background checks in all the states that we've lived in since we were 18. Just different requirements by different countries (China vs. Ethiopia). However, we're very excited to be moving forward again after a two-month stalemate. Although, I've had much peace about being at a standstill. It was kind of refreshing to sit, gather, ponder, consider and re-evaluate.

We have a busy weekend ahead, but we're hoping to get some of this new paperwork filled out and submitted next week. Then we'll be officially working on our dossier and moving toward actually 'meeting' the little boy or girl who will join our family. By 'meeting' I mean just knowing who s/he is.

It also looks like because we're open to adopting a deaf child that s/he could be pretty young. As young as two when we would actually get him/her, but perhaps older. Yes, in some ways it seems crazy to go back to having little, little children again, but it also seems pretty easy imagining having just one little child versus two. One high-chair, one carseat, one sippy cup, one in diapers, one, one, one. Funny how God prepares us for what's ahead in life -- even when we're blind to what's ahead. Not to mention we truly have two serious little mamas on our hands now. When our boys were born, Payton and Avery were only four and two. There was no way they could help out with their little brothers -- they were just toddlers themselves! Now, they'd be a huge help. And you should see their faces when they imagine having a 'baby' brother or sister. In fact, at Avery's gymnastics gym there are two friends who have little toddlers -- a 2-year-old and a 14-month-old -- and Payton is awesome with them. She follows them around the gym keeping an eye on them as they toddle around. She reads to them; plays with them. They're drawn to her and frankly she's drawn to them. It's neat to imagine our kids loving all over a younger sibling. Pretty sweet.

God moved mountains for a family I heard about who was tragically short funds to travel to get the daughter they are adopting. They were leaving in two days and were short, get this, $8000. Some bloggers put out a plea and God's people sowed seeds and they raised all the money in 48 hours -- this is after months and months of fundraising and trying to figure out how to get the money together. They were convinced they weren't going to be able to travel to get their daughter. Well, I'm happy to report that they left on Saturday and are there. If you want to read about it and see a true example of how God moves in His people, click here. Very, very awesome to me. You might want to start with the March 25th post. Beyond incredible that they're in-country because God's people responded. Pure and simple.

Oh! There was one more really cool thing that happened this week that I should mention! Our church had an adoption interest meeting and the response was great. It's great to hear of people who are being called to respond to the orphan crisis whether it be through adopting themselves or through advocacy and support. We can't wait to see what God does with this group.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

still here!

Just wanted to do a quick post to let you know we're still here! Just not rushing any decisions right now. Still considering the China Special Needs (aka China Special Focus) route, but trying to be sure. There are just so many things to consider.

We've been told that adopting from that registry of children can be swift which is fine and good, but can also cause us to have to deal with a third agency because the children on that registry come from many, many agencies so there are hoops to jump through to have a child transferred, if you will, from another agency to Wide Horizons (our agency). It's not uncommon, but sometimes there's a waiting period (like 3 months) during which the child has to remain with his/her original agency before they can be adopted by a family outside of that agency. I know -- we feel the same way -- more caveats. Nonetheless, we're taking our time to consider all the angles.

Then, yesterday, I was at Avery's gymnastics gym and the father of one of the gymnasts approached me. He's a pastor and when he and I were introduced a week or two ago by a mutual friend she told him of our plans to adopt. He told us he had traveled to Ethiopia many times and will likely be going back in a month or so. He remembered from our first meeting that our plans to adopt from Ethiopia were up in the air so he approached me to say that he knew of Japanese orphans and refugees who will be coming to the States due to the tsunami and he wanted to let me know in case we'd like to consider adopting them. Omigoodness. Seriously? I always marvel at what God could be doing. I realize this may not be the direction that He's taking us, but it did cause me to wonder for a second if there's any connection between our adoption being paused right now and this man approaching me with this possibility.

When the earthquake happened in Haiti we heard the same thing (that orphans and refugees were coming here and needed families to take them in). We tried to respond, but were told we couldn't take in children (even temporarily) without a completed home study. Adoption wasn't on our radar at that time, so we hadn't even begun the process. God is so cool -- it's awesome to think that we're actually in the position to respond this time.

Will keep you posted once we make a firm decision.

Oh, and if I may...any of you who feel drawn to the plight of orphans, some friends of ours are really advocating in an amazing way for some families who are truly in the throws of a mine field of obstacles -- financial and legal. If you would like to learn a little more and lift these families and the children they're trying to adopt in prayer, it's much, much, much needed. Wow, do these situations need prayer.

(Make sure to read back a couple of posts -- I believe the first one is a plea of some sort and then you'd want to read the most recent one. They're linked).

Friday, March 11, 2011


This past week has been humbling. Sometimes when God moves, I just feel humbled that I ever wonder if He does.

We're humbled that people are enthusiastically responding to our church's first ever 'interest meeting' around adoption.

We're humbled that we just found out that the woman who works at Bethany Christian Services (I mentioned her several posts back because she spoke at an adoption prayer meeting I attended and I called and spoke to her the next day about the shortage of adoptive parents in the Richmond area) goes to our church. She's (understandably) hugely supportive of our church's desire to support adoption. Our church is growing fast and I didn't even know she's part of our very own worship community! These 'small world' experiences humble me that there are no coincidences with God.

But mostly, we're humbled this past week by the generosity of dear friends. Friends who (whether they know it or not) were powerfully used by the Lord many years ago to guide us to Him. Friends who have allowed us to peek into what a surrendered life looks like. Friends who, before we knew anyone else who did such a thing -- and did it when my heart couldn't even comprehend it (thankfully, it can now) -- downsized because they were convicted that they had more than they needed and would be living life more by God's design if they had less of what we all tend to strive for (worldly things). These dear friends have left us humbled because they, our peers in so many ways, have come forward to say they want to contribute toward our adoption expenses.

Instant tears.

When I saw the subject line 'want to help' in my inbox, it didn't even occur to me that they could possibly be offering what they offered. We know there are people who are called to adoption, but aren't called to adopt. We've heard the stories. People who are called by God to respond to the orphan crisis, but know God's not calling them to be adoptive parents. I heard a story recently of someone who covered the entire cost of one child's adoption for a family that they didn't even know because what they did know is that God was asking them to make that adoption happen. It's amazing really. Amazing that God can move in the hearts of those who love Him so those who love Him will be His hands and feet. We are His hands and feet, you know? And these friends are being just that.

We are just humbled by this whole process. Perhaps that's the reason behind all this. Perhaps this is the reason we weren't awarded funding by Abba Fund because these are opportunities God's creating to show Himself. I just believe it. Thank you, dear friends. You know who you are. :)

As an update to the changes that are happening in Ethiopia, it looks right now (and things can change, so don't fully hold me to this) that we may stay on the path of not adopting from there because things appear shaky. Our concern is that we could proceed with Ethiopia and get further along in the process -- perhaps having already accepted a referral meaning that we would have our children identified and be pursuing adopting them versus just adopting -- and then they will pull the plug entirely on adoptions there leaving hundreds of families waiting years and years and years for the children they've fallen in love with. This has been the experience for some friends of ours here in Richmond and they're still waiting three years later for their son (whom they've even met) because adoptions are on hold indefinitely in his country. It's a tragedy.

Having said all that, God has placed such peace in our hearts (when there was a time when there was not peace around this idea) that we're to adopt a deaf child from China. Yes, I said 'child' not 'children.' And, as crazy as it is for me to say this because we were so okay with adopting siblings, we feel great peace and joy at the idea of adopting just one child from China (they won't allow two with special needs -- nor will our agency) who is deaf. But we do still feel strongly about our family consisting of at least two adoptive children (yes, we have something with even numbers!) so it is very likely that we'll adopt again. But only God knows what's truly in store for us. And we'll take this one step (and perhaps one child) at a time.

Prayers have been raised to the heavens and we feel they're being heard and answered. We're very grateful. However, your prayers are still very much appreciated. We do covet them. We do ask mostly for discernment so that as each twist and turn comes, we'll know which path to take.

We have a call in to the woman in charge of the China Special Needs program with our agency and will know more about this program and how adopting a deaf child from China will work. I have seen so very many deaf children through various websites that send us automated emails of children waiting to be adopted. It was always an option to adopt a deaf child, even from Ethiopia (our home study stated that we are open to deafness), but it seemed like a long shot with Ethiopia and there are so very many in China. China Special Needs is an extensive program that needs so many adoptive parents to adopt these children. These little cuties will melt your heart.

Let me share this precious scripture that's warmed my heart of late:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning it's shame, and sat down at the right hand of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3

Omigosh, I could go on and on about each little bit of these verses and how they resonate with me, but it's probably pretty obvious.

Love to all!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Dagnabit, Ethiopia.

If you keep up with adoption stuff, you've heard (from various entities, articles and blogs) that Ethiopia's slowing things down a bit (more specifically, one estimate is that they're scaling back from processing 40 adoptions per day to just five per day). Sometimes countries do this to reevaluate their processes and regulations. Sometimes they do this because things are getting a little loosey-goosey and they need to reign things in a little or perhaps they've bitten off more than they can chew and they need to catch up. Sometimes they do this because there's political strife or unrest there. Whatever the reason, it's a mess to adoptions that are in process. So, lucky for us, ours is not in process.

We're very fortunate that we haven't started our dossier and even more fortunate (thank you, Lord) that we didn't hop right on filing the immigration paperwork. This is the perfect time to change course, if need be. JD and I aren't convinced that switching countries is necessary (yet) and neither is our social worker (we had a conference call with her today). But it is a good time to pause (ahhh...pauses, so many pauses), do some research, ask some questions and see if anything is resolved in Ethiopia while we do so.

The logical question is, "So what if Ethiopia remains stalled and doesn't pick back up?"

Well, we're considering other countries as a back-up plan. Colombia is one, but requires a several week stay in-country, so we had originally ruled that one out. Philippines were an option, but they have apparently slowed down a lot over the last many months. Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Rawanda are others. We should know more in the next several days. For now, we'll just sit tight and count our blessings that we were not too far in to reassess the situation.

I'll keep you posted!

Oh! And thank you to those of you who've purchased t-shirts! You're awesome. :)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

just 30 days!

Various conversations around why we didn't get funding from Abba Fund have led me to want to answer a couple of questions.

1. We knew instantly we didn't want to perseverate too much on the whys in regard to our not being funded by Abba. Rejection's the perfect place for Satan to take hold and we've been down that road, thank you very much. So we will not allow any opportunities for him to begin to stir doubt and confusion in our minds again. Having said that, we learned very quickly from talking to others who have adopted and who've sought funding that this is pretty common. The very woman with Abba Fund who notified us that they weren't going to be able to help us said that she and her husband were turned down multiple times when they were seeking help with their adoptions. Yet God clearly provided and they have two adoptive children. :)

2. There's the possibility that these funding sources are low on funds. Go figure with the economy being what it is. It stinks though to think that there are children out there without families whose adoptions will be delayed (or perhaps never happen!) simply because of lack of funds! What a ridiculous reason! Which leads to the question of why adoption is so darn expensive. JD and I have gone around and around about this and don't have a great answer except to say that much occurs between agencies and countries and frankly, this is a money making business. Poor countries (like Ethiopia) do make revenue on adoptions. Sad, but true. This is where corruption can occur. However, this is a separate issue to us than the fact that orphans need homes and families! And that, to us, is primary. In fact, we think the cost is a non-issue. We'll figure it out. We'll overcome it for the sake of changing a child's life -- and frankly changing ours. We think we're blessing them, but they will bless us! We just know it.

3. Another possibility is that other applicants for funding with Abba Fund could be seeking adoption because they cannot have biological children. Assuming these are great people, we, hands down, want the funding to go to them over us every time. It's a no brainer really.

Okay, I think I've covered all the angles on that. Now, moving on to this t-shirt fundraiser! And, by the way, God's so good! People are coming forward with more ideas for fundraising for us -- other companies and products, so there may be more to come! I just love this. Perhaps this will be a grass roots, piecemeal effort! It's takes a village, right? :)

Before I give you the ins and outs, I must say please, please pass on this blog address or post or send an email to anyone you think might be interested. And thank you so very much for any and all support -- even if you just click forward. :)

Welcome to Wild Olive Tees! THE SALE STARTS TODAY AND ONLY LASTS 30 DAYS! This ends on April 2, 2011! So check it out!

You can click on the button on the right. That will take you to the website. Once you choose the shirt(s) you want, don't forget to enter our code. You must enter the code or they won't know which family to direct the funds to. The Beam Team won't get the proceeds!

The code is: BEAM0305

If 1-49 shirts are sold, we get $7.50 per shirt.
If 50+ shirts are sold, we get $10 per shirt.

Not bad.

When the 30 days are up, they'll compile the number of shirts sold, calculate the total proceeds and send them directly to our adoption agency. They won't even touch our hands.

Ready, set, go! :)


Okay, sadly -- I don't know how to do half the stuff I should know how to do (yet) with this blogging thing, so I can't figure out how to add a button on the right. I have an email into Wild Olive to have them help me, but for the time being, just go here if you want to purchase a shirt. But don't forget about the code! (BEAM0305) Thanks!


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