1,175 days

1,175

The number of days from when we officially started the adoption process until today.

376

The number of days from when we first set our eyes on a precious boy with a big smile.

There has been heartache, trials, set-backs, delays, and serious roadblocks on far too many of those days. In January we had a big talk with our social worker and she as much told us that it was time to let go. And so we did.

We let go in our hearts and mourned the loss of what we believed was our son. It was a devastating season in so many ways.

During that time I tried to cope in the healthiest ways I could. I took up running. I joined a bible study. I made sure to have ‘me’ time. I talked through all my emotions with people I trusted. I pulled back from unnecessary obligations (how did any of you let me sign up to be room mom?!). I prayed and sought God. Still, I came up empty.

My best was not good enough. No matter how hard I tried to cope in a healthy way, it just wasn’t getting me through. I was empty and heart-broken. God gently reminded me that it was okay to be those things. I didn’t have to power my way through hard things. In fact, I could be sad and devastated and broken and honest about it all. I was weak. Thankfully, my God is strong. This verse hangs on my fridge (courtesy of a thoughtful friend) and quickly became my motto of 2014.

 

God’s grace was enough for me through those winter days and his grace has been enough through all 1,175 days of waiting to adopt. When I am weak, he gets to display his amazing power.

So, back to January. We had let go of our boy in our hearts, but we held off on making a decision about officially walking away until some of the fog of what we were dealing with had lifted. Come spring we decided to continue the process (against all odds) until the door was firmly, and without a doubt, closed. We wanted to look back on all these days, this season, without regret; knowing we did all we could to grow our family through adoption. We took one step at a time, inch by inch. We had doctor appointments, updates, renewals, constant delays, social worker calls, an addendum, and more waiting to know one way or the other. We were warned that there was no guarantee, but we could expect to hear a final answer between May and September.

May went by.

We celebrated his third birthday without him.

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June went by.

Our USCIS approval was miraculously renewed and it happened super-fast!

July was almost over.

I wrote Isaiah 40:31 on our chalkboard.

Those that wait on the LORD will renew their strength.

I focused on waiting on the LORD, praying that the answer we received would be his answer for us. The last few days I started focusing on how waiting on God could renew my strength. My heart was weary, my hope faint. How could waiting on the LORD actually increase my strength, I wondered?  I realized I really only had two choices, either trust him in this and continue to wait on him (strengthening my faith) or not trust him and stop waiting.

I had been hoping for ‘the call’ every morning. Each day when lunchtime rolled around I assumed that would mean we were not getting the call that day. Monday, July 28th, lunch came and went. I was disappointed and at 1:35 pm I sent a text to my friend saying, “I’ve been overwhelmed with sadness today. I so badly want to know!”

At 1:40pm my phone rang and I saw that it was our agency. They never call. Was this THE call? I answered and had to ask the girl to repeat her name because I didn’t even know who she was (we have had 6 caseworkers in all of these adoption days!!). It was our newest caseworker and she was calling to say we were finally, officially APPROVED!

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We can bring him home in October!  One year after we took this picture (2013).

1,175 days of waiting to get to this point. God’s grace was enough. Three more months of waiting until we get to hold him in our arms. God’s grace will be enough.

We have witnessed God’s amazing power displayed and consider it a miracle that we are at this point. We praise him for his constant love for us and our little guy!

Please pray for us! This year has been such a roller coaster and it is about to get crazier!

  • Pray that God would calm our hearts and protect us from fear and anxiety
  • Pray that God would make the way and that there would be zero delays from here on out
  • Pray that our little guy remains healthy and that his heart would be prepared to join our family.
  • Pray for the travel and time overseas. I don’t love to fly and flying home while caring for a brand new family member sounds overwhelming.
  • Pray for our current kiddos that they would welcome their brother with open arms and open hearts.

 

49 days, but who’s counting

We are 49 days into the 90 day window that the United States Immigration office has to review our file. The last time I called they hadn’t even opened our file yet, so I’m trying to remain patient. Thankfully this is an insanely busy season and I don’t have a lot of time to dwell on it. I sure wouldn’t mind if it came in the next week as an early Christmas present, though! :)

The next big adventure…

We are officially announcing that we are pursuing a concurrent adoption program through China. This means that we will hopefully bring home a child from China while we continue to wait for movement in Honduras.

This process began months ago when we started looking into concurrent programs. The ‘C’ word was causing some problems, but we found out that there was a chance China would make an exception. We applied to our agency’s program in June and got THE call in July for a two year old boy. We appealed to China for an exception right away and heard the YES in August. Since then it has been a crazy, intense whirlwind of paperwork. We have our approved homestudy in hand and now we wait for the USCIS (United States Citizens and Immigration Services) approval. That process has been taking 90 days, so we sit back and wait. Once that approval comes our paperwork goes to China and from there it will be approximately 5 months until we have travel dates.

Wow?! What?!

I know. Surprising, right? We are committed to growing our family through adoption, regardless of where and how that happens. We have been praying about this for a long time and really feel that God has led us to this point. We have consulted with trusted friends, adoptive parents, doctors, and our social worker. This is another leap of faith, one where we can only trust that God is going before us. We are praying that this boy can come home quickly and join our family.

Did you say boy? I thought China had mostly girls available for adoption?

China has both girls and boys available for adoption, but in general girls from any country are twice as likely to be adopted over boys. Love Without Boundaries actually lists being a boy as a special need, you can read about it here and here. Either way, we are thrilled to bring home a child!

 

I thought the wait time for an adoption from China was 5+ years?

There is an extremely long wait for those seeking to adopt ‘healthy’ children from China. Our child is a waiting child, meaning there are some documented medical needs. This is part of the leap of faith. We won’t know the extent of those needs until our child is home and receiving medical care, but we are hopeful that he will enjoy a full life.

Why didn’t you say something sooner?

Honestly, I was scared to talk about it. I was afraid that we would venture out, submit a bunch of paperwork, and then have the door close in front of us.

I still am afraid. We are now three years into the adoption world and we know how things can change in an instant. We would very much appreciate your prayers.

Please pray that our immigration approval goes through faster than anticipated, that our paperwork can get to China quickly, that our little guy will continue to grow healthy and strong, that he would feel God’s love and presence in his life even now, and that our family would be woven together.

To God be the Glory!

Girl, Adopted

Last week I watched a documentary called Girl, Adopted. It was a good reminder of the heartache and sorrow connected with adoption, as well the joys and triumphs. Building a family through adoption is no easy task. An adopted child experiences many losses before joining a family and that pain is not quickly healed or forgotten.

“I didn’t want to be adopted, but I had no one to take care of me. We think America is like heaven, it is not. My world was turned upside down and I hated it….To find a family, it was something important. Someone to love me for who I am and be there for me. I didn’t find all of that until I got here. I didn’t like them at first, but I do love them now. ” – Weynsht, adopted from Ethiopia

 

Girl, Adopted

 

Watch it now here. I believe it is only available for free through the month of October.

A special Thanks!

We presented on our Honduras trip on Sunday and it was fun to recount all of the great things about Give Hope 2 Kids and our opportunity to visit and serve them.

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20131015-095036.jpgOur trip team with the directors of Give Hope 2 Kids and all our kiddos.

We really appreciate everyone that donated Croc shoes and gave financially to make the trip happen. We love you all and your generosity is inspiring!

I wanted to take a moment to especially thank my wonderful mother-in-law. Without her this trip would not have been a possibility. She eagerly agreed to come and watch our kids while we were gone. It was so great to know our kids were being well cared for and loved while we were away. She acted like it was no problem at all and never complained about child meltdowns, tantrums, or sibling fights. It is possible our children were perfect while we were gone, but that probability is slim. She juggled school schedules, mixed up lunch payments, and library due dates with ease.

We came home to happy kids that were sad to see grandma go home. Junior, in particular, jumped out of the car at the airport, convinced he was going with grandma.

Thank you!!

Less of me

The trip was great, but also really hard. I felt like I was doing all the weeks of the 7 study combined into one. We ate the same foods, wore the same dirty clothes, slept on hard bunks, shared a room with another couple, showered in cold water, sweat all day, tried to only drink the ‘clean’ water, had no privacy, and struggled to communicate.

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Day one I fell in the river. My first ‘taste’ of the water in the only pair of jeans I packed.

The first day was a transition into this reality and the next few days we all adjusted and it felt fine. No big deal! I got this!

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The water is fine for the locals (and for those that have lived there long enough for their systems to adjust).

Then I got sick and the stretching conditions were magnified. In particular the day I felt the worst I just lay in bed and wished for home. I felt like such a wimp! (I’m totally blaming it on old age!)

I lay in bed, wishing for the comforts of home. I wanted my own bed, my ‘normal’ food, and my own private, ehm, master bathroom.

I felt like God was saying to me, “You know what, you talk the talk a lot. like a lot, a lot. You sign up for the causes, buy the t-shirts, read the books, and write checks. Enough talking. Now you need to walk the walk.”

Insert crying and gnashing of teeth.

But, God, I will gladly continue to give, donate, and speak up…..just please, PLEASE, give me clean water. PLEASE?!

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Here come the boys with our drinking water.

Day 9 we made our way down from the mountain and were told we would be staying at a swanky condo for our last night in Honduras. We all felt giddy with joy. The condo had AC. The condo had clean water. The condo had hot water. The condo had private bedrooms for each couple. Ah, the condo. We were in love.

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The beach a few blocks away from the condo.

Then plans changed and changed again and we ended up at a much less swanky hotel for the night. Everything was still good, though, because by all appearances they had clean and hot water. Or so we thought.

Enter day 10. We woke up anxious about our day of traveling home, but excited for at least a good shower before we left. Wait a second? There is no water.

NOT A DROP OF WATER

So much for complaining about no hot/clean water, now we had no water. None. Zero.

Talk about wake up call.

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He managed to make it out of Honduras without getting sick (unlike the rest of us), but his luck ran out after eating a bit too much processed food once we hit U.S. soil.

When we finally made it home I cried in the shower. It felt so amazing to have clean, hot water raining down on me. Then I just felt so horrible that I have clean water every..single..day. Much of the rest of the world goes without clean water or they have to travel for miles for water or get it from a dirty creek.

It was such a good experience. Less of me. Less of my privileged life. Less of my personal comfort. Less of my limited worldview. More of Jesus. More of his people. More of his work around the world. More of his perspective. More of his heart for the hurting.

“The goal is not self-actualization, the goal is Christ –realization.” Christine Caine*

I also have to say that I have a sincere respect for missionaries that are willing to leave their comforts of home to serve wherever God calls them. I loved the staff and volunteers at Give Hope 2 Kids. They were so positive! I never heard them complain. We asked them what (besides family) they missed about home and they said things like carpet or certain foods, but every single one of them said they wouldn’t trade living there for anything. Nothing is a sacrifice when sacrificed for God.

* Take a moment to listen to Christine Caine’s podcast titled ‘Die to Self’

 

More of you, Jesus!

More of you, Jesus. Less of me.

We are two weeks home from our big trip to Honduras. I haven’t been ready to write about it and actually still feel hesitant to put it down in words. I’ve been slow to type it all out because I am still processing and hate to ‘publish’ something that might change as my perspective grows.

But, for today, here is where I’m at:

It was fantastic to see the work that is going on at Give Hope 2 Kids. There are so many qualities and characteristics of this ministry and the people that work there that we love!

First off, they love Jesus. Second off, they love people.

Need I say more? They are doing real, lasting work in the community in so many ways!

The school program has 60-70 students attending, where they learn English, computers, music, and bible. Some of the kids walk 45 minutes each way (talk about motivated to learn). The ministry has also been offering high school exam prep. There is one high school in the region and we were told that over 100 students take the exam to get in each year. Unfortunately the school only has spots for about 1/3 of those students. Public school ends at 5th grade and if a student does not get into the high school, then their education ends. Give Hope 2 Kids offers a great way for students to accelerate their learning and/or learn valuable life skills (ie computers).

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This is one of the high school prep classes, led by a young Honduran lady that lives on site and travels into the city for college. She wants to be a math teacher!

 

The ministry recently started a preschool program (this was right at our level of Spanish so we loved it!). The preschool helps target the kids that live on the property that need some more one to one attention and intervention. Several of their kids have some special needs and the teachers do a great job of working with those kids and providing opportunities for sensory play and language enrichment.

 20131008-205411.jpgHere I am with one of the kids from the children’s homes. She always had a smile on her face! We brought crafts to do with the kids and they LOVED each and every one. She has her arms up to show the bracelets we just made!

 

The ministry has three children’s homes. Each home consists of a dad, mom, their kids (if they have any), and 5-7 children in need. They have a long-term vision for these kids. The goal is that the house parents will raise these kids all the way through. They are growing Honduran Mahogany trees that will be ready to harvest when the kids get older as a way to pay for college. They have a vision for starting a boy’s home farther down on the property to provide transition for young men and teach them valuable skills like wielding, construction, et.

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Here we are outside one of the homes with the kids that live there. A friend donated bilingual children’s bibles, enough to give to each home.

 

The ministry also hosts a weekly youth event. This was one of my favorite parts of our time there. Someone drives around with a flat-bed truck and picks up teenagers that want to come. The youth ‘hang out’ then there is singing, games, a bible message, and more time to ‘hang out’. It might not seem like that big of a deal, but teenagers all over the world are looking for a chance to be with their peers and to have someone speak positively into their lives. This event does that and also offers opportunities for leadership development. Good stuff.

 

The ministry really strives to be sustainable. It was cool to learn about all the ways they are growing their own crops, experimenting with new crops, raising livestock, and ‘living off the land’. It shows initiate to not just rely on donors from the states, but to really use their resources to care for the people that live on the property and also to model to local farmers how it can be done.

20131008-205531.jpgHere the director explains how bananas grow and the big ‘flower’ that buds off the bottom of a bunch.

20131008-205503.jpgOh, Wilbur, you are cute, but not for long.

20131008-205605.jpgHello there precious coffee bean!!

 

All this to say, it was wonderful to see what God is doing in this rural region of Honduras. God is present there, moving within the people, and caring for vulnerable children. As someone who has a heart for orphan-care, it was so great to see that God is and has always been caring for orphans. The verse that came to me while I was there was Psalm 91:4

He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

Orphaned children have no adult to champion for them, to protect them, to provide for their needs, and to nurture their lives.

I read the above verse and picture God gathering all the orphaned, neglected children (in Honduras and around the world) and covering them with his wings.

He is watching out for them, holding them in his safe grasp, and covering them with his protection. God is doing this! He is faithful! We had the privilege to witness it first-hand and we continue have the privilege to join-in and be part of his care for children.

We are excited to continuing partnering with Give Hope 2 kids, possibly visiting again in the future, and sending other teams from our area! We look forward to seeing how God will continue to use this ministry to impact the mountain/valley region of Honduras.

There are so many more pictures/stories I could share. If you live in the area and are interested, we are presenting about our trip on Sunday, October 13th at 6:00pm at church.

Honduras here we come!

The days are zooming past. Two weeks ago I had all these deep, reflective thoughts I wanted to share about our trip to Honduras. But, I didn’t write them down and now I’m almost out of time.

Alas, iPhone blogging will have to do.

We are excited about our trip! The packing, planning, and prepping is almost complete. I think of a million tasks that still need to be done as soon as my head hits the pillow. Overall, though, things have come together.

We have almost 100 pairs of crocs to bring, a guitar, a pressure washer, 27 soccer balls, frisbees, bubbles, Spanish children’s bibles, craft supplies, English lesson supplies, gifts, and so much more. I have no idea how it will all fit in our luggage, but James assures me it will.

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My prayer last week was that we would live to return after reading an article about the crime in our arrival country. This week I am letting go of fear and praying the love of Jesus shines through all we do. That is the reason we are going. We love Jesus and want to love people like Jesus does.

I will leave you with the words received in a card from a friend that sums up a lot of what I am feeling and thinking as we prepare to leave.

“You are just a few days away from hoping on a plane and flying down to Honduras. Your emotions are no doubt all over the place – from excitement to the fear of the unknown, the sadness of leaving your previous children behind, to the God- given longing to hold and love on some other of God’s children.

 

I want you to know that I will be praying for you each and everyday you are gone and this is part if my prayer:

‘And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things, at all times, you may abound in every good work’ 2 Cor 9:8

That you will ‘abound in every good work!’

 

Your going and doing is what LOVE DOES *. May your heart be broken for that which breaks our Lord’s heart. But may the hope and joy of our saving Lord not let your heart be troubled, but take heart, he has overcome the world, the poverty, the injustice, the unloved…

 

I’m proud of you for getting out of your comfort zone and loving with a deep, selfless love. I pray The Lord ‘interrupts’ you time and time again with divine appointments and you will come home with many ‘Hallelujah Jesus’ stories to share!”

 

* Our small group has been reading Love Does. I highly recommend it. Our motto for this trip comes from the book…”Just say YES!” and “Why not?” We are saying YES! and praying God uses this time to do his work.

Everything must go, except that darling blonde boy!

 

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And they are off..

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MissE reports the best part of school is helping the teacher clean up the classroom and the worst part is that she now doesn’t have as much time to read (she read an average of  3 books a day in the summer). MissE also reports that she is going by her full name this year.

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Junior reports that he loves school. His favorite part is singing and his least favorite part is playing outside (because he gets too hot and sweaty).

I report having both kids in school is AMAZING!! I am loving my few hours a week that are quiet and I can get work done. I also enjoy the one on one time with Junior when he is not at school. All in all, a great start to the school year!