Prayer List for Moses

I am SO grateful to have friends who are willing to pray us through this adoption. Until I came face to face with pictures of a little boy I loved deeply but could not physically reach, I don't think I really understood what it meant to pray for a child.

Below is a list of specific prayer requests we are asking for this week. We are not allowed to share photos, his name, or his specific medical condition publicly for about another two weeks. However, all of this love and concern will make sense when you see his sweet little face. He is a precious little boy, and we can't wait to get him home.


-That the adults in the orphanage will love him, laugh with him, and be kind to him

-That he will get enough food to eat, vitamins to grow, and milk to drink. I have read that milk is a rarity in many facilities.

-That he will be warm this winter

-That someone will give him a hug today (and read him a book.)

-That he will be safe from orphanage hazards. The water/pollution are bad in many places, and there are high levels of lead in many overseas facilities)

-That he would be protected from illnesses and disease

-That God would put a hedge of protection around him and guard him from any physical, emotional, or sexual abuse

-That God would keep his heart tender and able to bond until we can arrive

-That all of the paperwork would be miraculously expedited, and that we could reach him in as little as 2-4 months (This would take a miracle, literally. The wait is supposed to take 7-11 months. I'm asking God if He might part the seas for little Moses. :) )

-That God would provide the rest of our financial needs quickly, so that we are not hindered in reaching him

-That someone in his facility would love Jesus, and talk to him about God’s love

-That our match and other paperwork would be formalized very quickly with no snags

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A Patched-Up Perspective on Being Broke

If all goes well, in about 16 months, we should receive a referral for a special-needs child from China. Almost every night we listen to our kids praying for God to bring a new brother or sister home. It’s strange how much you can miss someone you don’t even know.

Without question, the most frustrating part of this whole process has been financial. I'm not writing about this so that you will pity us or give us something. I'm writing about this because money is THE primary barrier to many families with a heart for adoption.

The more I become immersed in this need, the more I am amazed that little pieces of green paper could affect whether or not a living, breathing child finds a loving home.

For determined families, finances can bring a lot of changes. Over the past few months, I have taken on a new job. We’ve sold jewelry. We’re trying to sell portraits. We’ve taken money out of savings. We are researching grants. We are looking under every rock, trying to make this adoption happen however we can. Many other adoptive families are doing similar things.

During our grant research, I spoke with a wonderful gal from an organization called Show Hope. This is an adoption foundation started by the Steven Curtis Chapman family.

As we talked, we told this gal how frustrated and discouraged we were becoming with the financial aspect of this process. It’s very, very difficult to have so much love in your heart for a child - to feel like someone is missing - but then to feel like you cannot reach him or her.

As we talked, however, this woman offered some insight that I had never even considered. She said she thinks God sometimes allows financial challenges to exist in families who are called to adopt for a reason. She said financial need forces families who love orphans to talk about the plight of waiting children. She said that when we grieve publicly, this encourages the body of Christ to become infused with concern for the need.

As understanding and love spread, others begin to worship God by joining in His pursuit of waiting children. By working together, Christians who aren’t able or called to adopt can still become a part of the adoption process. Together, we become the hands and feet of Christ to a child.

Her words changed my feelings about our situation. Maybe God wants to use our inadequacy to help others experience adoption at a new level? Are we humble enough to go there? What if this story isn’t just about one distant child + one waiting family? Maybe God wants us to share an up-close picture of adoption with people who have never participated in one?

Maybe part of our calling is to push the reality of hurting, waiting children back into the forefront of Christ’s body? Most of these kids will never hear the name of Jesus spoken. They will live and die untouched by the Great Commission. This is a tragedy that we are called to affect.

So, may God use our weakness and our need. May He use it to help transport 147 million little voices into places they cannot reach on their own.

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Brief Update

Well, it’s hard to blog through this stage of the adoption. Those of you who have been through it probably know what I’m talking about. We’re in the middle of filling out TONS of papers and meeting with the best social worker in the whole world. (Her presence has really been a gift.)

Rebecca now has a part-time job that is allowing her to slowly make money to help pay for fees. We are hoping this will provide enough hours to cover our third agency fee, due in about 40 days. Then, after the home study is complete, we will start to apply for grants.

We’re looking into doing some foster parenting until the adoption is complete. Since our wait time is projected to be 18 months, we are thinking we might at least be able to help a child or two during that time. Hosting an exchange student has also crossed our minds.

Thanks for your continuing prayers. Several of you have asked how things were progressing, and that’s nice to hear. It’s a long process. We are thankful to have you on the team with us!

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All the Way Around the World and Back

I’ll try to make this update quick. As I mentioned earlier, our home study agent had recommended checking out a few other countries with shorter wait times.

So, we explored the Philippines. Loved what we saw, except that adoption laws have changed recently.

We also called several new agencies yesterday. I spent hours on the phone and internet doing research. Philippines. Korea. Poland. Guatemala. Domestic. Peru. Haiti. I loved every child’s face I saw. Taiwan is still an option, but it is $10K more than China. That’s a lot.

In the end, I called our current agency back to ask some questions. Despite the wait in China, we still just love our agency and the people working with it. So, even though we followed advice and looked all around the world (literally), the plan for now is to follow the original plan. Special needs China with CCAI.

Will update if that changes.

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The Gospel of International Adoption

Last night, I received an anonymous email that said this:

“i bet you think there are no AMERICAN kids that need adoption look here in your back door -do not help china out AMERICANS need it more” [sic]

As a result of this email, I’d like to share a little story. (Some of you have already read this part in another post. I apologize for that, but I need to link back to this later, so I'll repost...)

Over the past few weeks, Bobby and I have been reading a true book about two boys who began life in a silent orphanage overseas. In our wealthy nation, we know nothing of orphanages like this one.

It was silent because the babies had lost hope. Filthy, crowded, and incredibly poor. No child received enough food. However, the babies learned that no one would come if they cried, so they would sit holding the bars of their cribs, trying to rock themselves for comfort. The only sound in this foreign orphanage was the sound of babies moving themselves silently back and forth, back and forth.

The adoptive parents found their two children there, sitting in noiseless filth. They heard their children cry for the first time on the last night before the adoption was finalized. On that night, they had to leave them in those cribs. And the children shook with weeping because it was the first time they understood being held... being loved... and they never wanted that to end.

Upon adoption, the boys were taken outside. They saw sunlight and felt wind for the first time in their entire lives.

When these kids finally saw the sun and wind, they were terrified. They simply couldn't understand the outside world, nor could they understand the motion of the car that took them away from that horrible place to the home where people loved them. The kids were so scared, they cried and reached back for the orphanage, because it felt safer than sun and wind.

The author compares this experience (these were his children) to how we reach back for the things of earth instead of embracing the new life Jesus offers to us. So often we want to reach backwards into what we know, into our squalid comforts, instead of following God where He takes us. We prefer our culture of ignorance to the light of truth.

My love for America is deep and old. I come from a long line of conservative patriots, and our family works hard to help maintain the foundational principles of this land. I consider compassion one of those principles.

Over the past two hundred and thirty-three years, America has embraced my ancestors when they were impoverished and weak. The Statue of Liberty welcomed them, the tired, the poor, the huddled masses, yearning to breathe free.

English, Scottish, Polish, Scandinavian, and Irish - most of my people and yours were not native to this land. Their skin looked different than those who lived here before them. But still, God used America to provide a haven for these travelers. And through a stumbling, mixed up process full of horrible human errors, many of us live blessed lives now because of God’s mercy to funny-looking, foreign, sinful, strangers.

So should America still provide a refuge for the impoverished and weak traveler? Or were our ancestors the only ones who deserved this gift?

Well, I’m certainly no advocate for a dangerous, uncontrolled immigration system that rapes the resources and principles of our land. That should be stopped. Also the rampant national virus of reverse-discrimination rots American unity. But what about adopting in those who will grow to understand and defend the Constitutional principles of America? What about an intentional, loving embrace that acknowledges the equal values of lives... lives that can grow to benefit the community as well as take from it? And what about tender nourishment for those who are simply too weak to live without a family?

At the end of our family’s journey, we might adopt from within America. I believe that inter-American adoption is a beautiful thing, and we are open to it. But this choice would not be superior to an international adoption. There is no "superior," in these situations.

The calling of God upon each family is unique. And, there are also many complicated reasons why parents may chose one route or another. It doesn’t take much research into adoption to realize that this issue has many different angles. It is arrogant and foolish to make quick assumptions.

There is one issue that is clear, however. The enemy of our souls desires to see hopeless children (who are made in God’s image) wasting away in America AND overseas. he works to make children hungry, sick, and broken. And he yearns to see children born and die in an environment where the name of Jesus is never even spoken.

Our enemy also works to oppress hopeless children through the speech and thoughts of our citizens. Ugly words not only demonstrate little understanding of the true history or principles of America -- they demonstrate little understanding of the principles of Christ.

The Bible is very clear that every single Christian was “adopted” into the kingdom of Christ. We were all strangers and aliens, but God made us His children. Jesus came to our foreign land to bring us out of a dirty, sick, and ugly existence. He did this at great cost. We were His enemies, and yet, God embraced us.

If we are unwilling to extend this same sort of love and compassion toward others who are adopted, perhaps we do not really know Christ at all. Sobering thought.

I can respect a deep love for America. I can also understand the concern that American children need our help. However, the person who wrote this email somehow reminds me very much of the foreign children who were taken from that orphanage. Somewhere, this sad writer has encountered the wind of Love’s story, and it is frightening to her. So, she cries out in protest... longing for the world she has known before. She doesn’t want the world around her to change, so she rocks herself into a numb sort of comfort, calling for the rhythms of a dark room without windows. I feel more pity than anger for her.

I am quieted more by the reminder that God loves this woman. Though she is a foreigner to God’s kingdom... though she is hostile to God’s children.. though she is ignorant, crass, and blind... though she would despise the waiting daughter I adore because of these things... Jesus loves this woman enough to embrace her. To offer her new life. To offer her a clean mind. To offer her a home. His love is this great.

So this is my prayer...

May the God who moves past hostility, and selfishness, and fear... the God who loves foreign strangers, broken and needy ... teach this woman (and all of us) about the wonderful, deep love of adoption. I know of few more beautiful analogies for the gospel.

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Philippines?

The past few weeks have been interesting. I’ll try to summarize briefly.

I’ve been hearing more and more about rising problems with the Chinese adoption system. Apparently, this country is continuing to accept dossiers while wait times grow and grow. Some people believe that it will shut down overnight, leaving parents who have invested many thousands of dollars without a child.

We are torn about what to do. We have certainly been drawn to Asia, but God never told us that China is the country in Asia we should pursue. And we don’t want to waste money on a process that is futile when children are in need.

So, we opened our hands and started praying. We explored Taiwan’s program, which is supposed to be moving a little more effectively. And we also explored something I hadn’t really considered until Dad mentioned it on the phone... the Philippines.

I’m not sure why we hadn’t considered it. Bobby went to the Philippines last year, and fell in LOVE with the children. Many of the street children live in heartbreaking poverty, yet their smiles still lit up the dirty streets. Bobby kept saying while he was there that he, “Just wanted to bring some of these kids home.”

Also, our church has a significant Filipino population. This would be nice local support for a child to have, I think.

Bobby is heading back to Asia in August. He might make another stop in the Philippines. (The church there is having a 90th anniversary.) It will be interesting to see what happens.

So... are we being led toward the Philippines? It would be wonderful to bring home one child from the Philippines AND one from China. For now, we are praying awfully hard for God to show us where the children He has planned for us are living.

It’s hard to wait. It’s confusing. I’m trying to trust the Father who know what’s best.

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God's Provision

With Dad's surgery, we haven't had a lot of time to work on adoption paperwork lately. Also, the company I use to order the willow tree charms has been a MONTH delayed on their shipment. So, in several ways, my hands have been tied to make any progress.

In waiting rooms, in hotel rooms, for hours in the van, I have been waiting and praying for God to do what I couldn't reach. I prayed that, so why was I surprised when He did it?

When we got home, I was shocked to find a $1000 contribution to our adoption account! This almost doubles what was in there before we left! We now have enough to take a few more steps through this process. And now that we are home again, we're both super eager to pick up where we left off.

What else...

Yesterday the charm company sent an email saying everything was "shipped." I hope so! I'm behind on making bracelets, and can't progress until they get here. I'm so sorry if yours is one of the late ones. We'll get those cranked out ASAP.

Also, a friend sent us a helpful book called, _Adopted for Life._ It talks about the calling of Christians and churches to participate in adoption. We're excited about getting into it.

'Think that's it for now. Thanks for praying through this process with us!

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Article on Trans-Racial Adoption

http://merecomments.typepad.com/merecomments/2008/05/transracial-ado.html

Good article on trans-racial adoption

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Homestudy Begins

First meeting with our home study gal yesterday. We LOVED her. LOVED HER!!!

She first got into the adoption world because she's pro-life. She's a Christian. And she totally understood our motivation and reasoning for the Asian process.

She also seems to be a fairly analytical processor, like I am, which is going to be super-helpful. She didn't look at me like I was crazy when I started talking through all of the wrestling I've done with different decisions in this process so far. In fact, she seemed to support some of the more specific reasoning we've done.

Also, she seems to have the heart of a teacher. I love this. I think she's going to be a great resource through this whole process.

Downsides? Yes. This is going to take a while. At least 1-3 years from China.

That time frame will give us more time to prepare, though. More time to apply for grants. More time to get things ready at the house. So, we're just going to keep walking toward it.

Reading some fascinating books on the history of China, meanwhile. My heart for the country is growing, as well as for our new child. Such a long and complex journey that nation has taken!

ALSO, God has provided a temporary job that I'm PUMPED about. It's the sort of job I would do for free I like it so much. Flexible. Creative. I'm overwhelmed with gratitude. Since it's just a temp for now, I'm not going to get specific. It might be a one-time shot. But I can't deny being excited about the possibility.

Yesterday was a hard day. Found out my dad will probably need heart surgery. He's the best dad EVER. And he's still young and strong. So, this is really unexpected. I'd appreciate your prayers.

Love you all!
Bec

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Storms At the Beach

We won't move through this adoption process perfectly. But I hope we will at least be able to move through it honestly.

For a decade, we have considered adoption. Over and again, different rising fears have pushed me away. This time, I'm committed to staring those fears in the eyes, calling them what they are, and seeing what falls away and what remains.

For years, I was frightened of disease. The thought of bringing new bodies into our home/community that might have been exposed to hepatitis, HIV, etc., was a strong fear that lurked in the back of my mind. If Bobby and I had not had kids, or if we could live a life of exclusion, that might not be quite as much of an issue. However, we live (and plan to continue to live) in the context of a community with other children. I knew that I could not risk putting all those others in danger.

Several months ago, however, I finally named that fear and faced it. I did some research, and I was shocked to learn about all the testing and regulating that happens during a Chinese adoption. I felt pretty foolish for letting my fearful ignorance control me so long -- for not having the courage to look into the facts sooner.

Last night, another obstacle surfaced. Vacation is ending, so we sat down on the little condo porch to talk about the upcoming year. Tuition is going up significantly at the kids' school. Clara needs braces. I'm having trouble finding a part time job that will let me do occasional field trips and pick up kids after school. I could feel that old wave of fear starting to choke me. I got frustrated. There was a rising temptation to retreat... to not look the monster in the eyes.

As we were talking, a huge storm rolled across the sky. It was one of those storms where the lightning is shooting back and forth in the clouds every two or three seconds. It was like fireworks, only brighter. Remarkable flashes of color and light. JD saw it smack the building next to us.

My skin was crawling with electricity, and I felt a strange sensation. It was anger. I was angry at the fear. Angry at what fear keeps me from trying.

How many kids around the world need help because fear sends people like me back into our rooms of safety? We go to rooms where we can manage smaller storms and block out the dangers other nameless faces must weather alone?

God, protect us from the temptation of convenience. Help us stare it down this time, and make it run from the room with its ugly tail tucked between its legs.

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Woo Hoo!

We just found out that our agency approved us for the adoption! Yaaaaay! Day to celebrate! Now, on to more paperwork...

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Moving along...

Some good friends of ours have a condo at the beach that they let us use every year. It’s an incredible gift. No matter how far ahead we schedule the trip, when the time to go arrives, we always seem to be in serious need for a break.

Tomorrow is that day this year. And we are definitely ready for a little R&R.

Last week, both vehicles and several major appliances decided to throw a temper fit. Bobby got called for jury duty. And we’re coming off a semester that has been sweet, but hectic. (I was a little overwhelmed and grumpy yesterday, in fact.) Soooo, the thought of sitting somewhere quiet, sleeping as much as we can, and taking some long beach walks sounds about perfect. My only sadness is that our child across the sea can’t go with us. Maybe next year?

As for the adoption, some of you know we sent in our agency application this week. This is now a, “hurry up and wait" situation on our end. Since this application is what determines our “start date” on the long wait for a baby, we are eager to hear from them.

We’re also working through the in-depth home study packet that we will give to our social worker. Those questions range from memories of our childhood experiences to discipline techniques that we use with our current kids. Thinking through all of this has actually been interesting. I’ve noticed several triggers from my past that have, over time, opened up my heart to this adoption.

I’ve been thinking about how my family kept foster kids when I was a child. Once we hosted a “failure to thrive” baby. His parents had given him so little attention, that he had lost his will to live. He was physically and cognitively delayed, and acted months and months younger than he was. After a month of living in our home, the child was strong enough to do so much more. His little personality blossomed under the love of a family who cared about him.

It was so sad to return this baby to a family we knew had not treated him well. But through this experience, I caught a vision for how much the human body and mind can recuperate in a safe environment. Maybe this is part of the reason why I am so looking forward to watching our new child grow in and atmosphere of safety and love that he/she won’t ever have to leave.

Finances are coming along. We’re over halfway toward being able to cover the homestudy. That’s great, because once the homestudy is complete, we can start applying for grants. If God would provide another $700-$800 in the next few weeks, we would be so grateful. I'm also looking for a part-time job next semester (starting in August, during school hours) to help fund this endeavor. So thanks for your prayers toward that end.

I was also deeply encouraged by a phone call that I received this afternoon from a new friend. She is one of those people who just “gets it.” I was so moved by her enthusiasm, and I can’t wait for our new child to meet her when he/she arrives!

Also, several friends are now wearing Willow jewelry while praying for our child and other orphans around the world. It’s so encouraging to have their support! Thank you! Thank you!

Well, I should return to packing. Thank you so much for keeping in touch with this journey! I'm not sure I'll be able to update next week, but your prayers are a treasure!

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Update

Today we sent in our completed application packet. I can't foresee any problems, but please just pray that all goes smoothly!

Also, so far God has provided funding for the initial application fee and about half of the $1500 home study fee. This is great news, because once the home study is complete, then we can start applying for grants. (I'm also hoping to find a flexible, part-time job next fall (during school hours) to help cover some of our other expenses.)

Basketball camp started today. While I was waiting, I had the chance to make six or seven more bracelets. That's a good thing, because they take longer to make than I had anticipated.

What else...

I think we may have found our home study agency! That's a big relief! Everyone we asked recommended one lady, and she said she does have time for us. So, that's good. Now we just have to write a really in-depth autobiography, get criminal background checks, etc. Lots of paperwork.

Yesterday I ran into a friend whose parents adopted a little girl from Asia when she was 12. her brother was 14, I think. It was so cool to hear about their experience!

Another friend sent me a link to this organization: https://www.kingdomkidsadoption.org/308208.ihtml

We aren't sure if we will use it or not yet, but it sounds very interesting. Praying for wisdom there...

Thanks to all of you who are keeping up, asking us about progress, and praying. We are so grateful!

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The Question I Never Expected

"Why would you want a child who doesn't look like you?"

Maybe I am naive because I was born after integration. I just didn't realize educated people still wrestled with this stuff.

Growing up, I had Indian, Kenyan, German, French, Jewish, Japanese, and Hispanic friends... and although that was interesting... it just wasn't that big of a deal. Asian exchange students and teachers lived in our home. Again, no big deal.

As a portrait artist, I always thought it was beautiful that different people had such different skin coloring and bone structure. What a creative God we serve! And, as a lover of story, I liked the different cultural nuances. Learning about unusual foods, and traditions, and patterns of life was fascinating!

Sure, I love America. But that doesn't mean I can't love certain things about other cultures as well. There's a huge difference between accepting secular globalization and worshipfully appreciating the unique "imago Dei" reflected throughout the spectrum of humanity.

So, I've been naive. I just ran into the adoption process assuming that the world felt like I did: "How COOL! We don't look the same! I get to discover a whole new sort of beauty now by watching you grow! Won't this be fun?"

Hmmmm.....

"Why would you want a child who doesn't look like you?"

OK, I'm tempted. Next time I want to hand them a mirror, smile, and say, "I'll explain that if you'll tell me why you WOULD want a child who DOES look like you?"

Sigh. No, I won't.

You know, despite the shock and frustration, I'm thankful that God is letting me experience this question now. I can tell that I need to develop a sense of humor about this and toughen up in a few places. It wouldn't be good to raise a child to respond in anger every time this happens. I need to see these situations as opportunities... opportunities to show our world that God's beauty, joy, and grace transcend race... and that our Savior truly loves all the children of the world.

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Leaves in the Stream

Amazed....

Where do I start?

Last week I mentioned that we’ve been filling out stacks and stacks of papers for an Asian adoption. It is a very long and complicated process, and part of that involves preparing a financial statement of all our assets. Yesterday, I looked at our “bottom line," and I laughed. Then I shook my head.

I’m ashamed to put this in words, but the biggest feeling that went through my mind was frustration. Frustration at our inability. Frustration that in our own power, in our own resources, we simply don’t have what it would take to give this child a new life. What do you do when you have a burning desire to help someone, but you do not have the ability to do it? I wondered how much I could get for one of my kidneys...

Then, I began to wrestle with our Lord. “Why do we have all of this love? Why have we been given this wonderful, amazing house with a huge yard that we could share? Why do we have all these things, but not a fat stack of extra money sitting in a bank account somewhere that we could use to simply make this happen for a child in need?”

Next, I began to fear. I felt foolish for dreaming big dreams and speaking them in public. Fear that God might not provide for our two biological kids and for these other unknown children who are burned into our hearts. Fear that maybe I was just imagining this pulling, or that I might (even worse) be trying to "force" a change that wasn't intended.

After that I became sad, because I do have a huge desire to train up all of our children in love for the people of the world. And I do pray that God might use them someday (no matter what they decide to "do" as a job) to bring nourishment to hungry places. And so the fear of not being able to train and launch several more lives that might serve places of global need felt sort of empty somehow.

So, I was wrestling with all this. And I was asking God for clarity. I know He loves orphaned children so much. And I think He has given us a parental love for them -- and a vision for their lives. What then? Would He show us where we should go with all of these yearnings?

This morning I checked my email. This was less than twelve hours after I had asked God to direct us.

In our inbox was a letter from a businessman we know in Singapore. Of course, he had no idea what the Lord and I had talked about the night before. But, he said that he had recently been praying for a way to bring Bobby back to Asia this year. When he started praying this prayer, it didn't seem viable because the economy was down. It's no secret that global funding is tight. But he still prayed.

Through a remarkable series of events (which I won't explain here, because this is too long already), he said God had just recently provided extra money for him to fly Bobby back over to Asia. And he wanted to know if he would come. His plan was for them to visit Asian ORPHANAGES to see how we might learn to help a great number of people.

We didn't know what to say. The timing was unreal.

But that's not all...

A few hours later, my phone rang. It was a lady with the adoption agency we hope to use. I asked her one or two questions about our adoption... then (on a whim) I asked her if she just happened to know of a way that we could help them. Did they have any needs in Asian orphanages... i mean, if Bobby made a trip this summer? She said, "It's funny that you should ask..."

I had to smile while several beautiful needs unfolded on the other end of the line. And I was reminded again of something that I hope not to forget this time, but probably will. That our God has access to every resource He needs. That His plans are going to be accomplished. No matter what my limitations. He is able.

Did you ever step into a stream where you have to walk with the current because it's just so strong? And there are fallen leaves, swirling all around your legs, being pulled faster than you can go? I'm not sure what is all happening here. I don't know if God will bless our family with one or two sweet new children or if He has another plan. Maybe there is something broader happening here? We are trying to keep our hands and hearts open to whatever that is.

But I think Bobby and I are both sort of shaking our heads today.

It's sad, we do all this talking about the reality of God, and then we are shocked out of our gourds when His presence becomes evident. Shame on us! And glory to God!

There is one hymn that has been in my mind since this whole dream began. I'll paste a few verses below...

- - - - - - - -

O for a thousand tongues to sing
my great Redeemer's praise,
the glories of my God and King,
the triumphs of his grace!

He speaks, and listening to his voice,
new life the dead receive;
the mournful, broken hearts rejoice,
the humble poor believe.

Hear him, ye deaf; his praise, ye dumb,
your loosened tongues employ;
ye blind, behold your savior come,
and leap, ye lame, for joy.

Jesus! the name that charms our fears,
that bids our sorrows cease;
'tis music in the sinner's ears,
'tis life, and health, and peace.

My gracious Master and my God,
assist me to proclaim,
to spread through all the earth abroad
the honors of thy name.
- - - - - -

I have only one tongue to sing God's praise. I only have two hands to give. But if that one tongue and two hands can train four more to bring love into a broken world... or help another organization do the same...

It all just makes me excited.

I honestly don't know what is happening here. And yeah, it's kind of crazy. But where He leads, we will go.

Thanks for your prayers.

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Old Nights and Roses

Last night I had an “old night.” In case any young pups are reading this blog (aka: twenty-somethings), I should probably translate that.

Until a few years ago, I had almost endless energy. I was one of those folks who could stay up until two or three in the morning and love it. It was very unusual for me to get the end of a day and feel physically tired.

But I’m thirty-seven now. And things are starting to feel a little different lately. First off, my eyes are changing. I’ve noticed the need to hold things a little further away to see them. (Creepy.) And sometimes my joints will send out a snap, crackle, or pop. And once in a while, late at night, I get tired.

Last night was one of those nights. Sure, we’ve been sick on and off for two weeks. So maybe I can blame that. Also, end of the school year craziness has been exhausting. But still, my clock hit 11:30, and I was WIPED. I mean that dizzy tired where you just have to get somewhere horizontal.

And so I crawled in bed. And I was worried.

I remember being twenty-five with a newborn. I was so scared of SIDS that I spent most of the first three months of JD’s life sleeping with my hand on his little chest. Listening to every breath. Trying to keep him alive with my alertness.

And I remember being twenty-nine with two little ones running around. Making myself get out of bed and put one foot in front of another - in the middle of the night - when someone woke up with a bad dream.

Could I really do that again? Am I totally crazy for thinking about this? Am I too old? Honestly, I had a moment or two of panic.

Trying to comfort myself, I started to think through my many friends who have had kids at 40+. They did it. So it CAN be done. And I thought about those seventy-something anomalies who still run marathons and wear bikinis. And look good doing both. (How does that work again?) But I still had this moment of fear that my thirty-seven was somehow older than their forty and seventy. Fear that I couldn’t do it.

I slept on that fear. And I woke up feeling refreshed.

I woke up thinking about good old Sarah who found out she was pregnant at ninety-nine, and how she was shocked out of her gourd. (Her response makes a lot more sense to me now than it did ten years ago!) Yet God provided for this new call on her life. Because it wasn’t about her weakness, but about God’s strength.

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Setting the Lonely in Families

Today we received a pretty big shock. Bobby handed me an envelope with $200. It was from someone we don’t even know. Or at least we didn’t know them before today. :) This couple had read about our journey from a mutual friend, and they wanted to help bring our child home. How do you thank someone for helping you reach your child? I'm not sure.

All three verses written on the card were beautiful. But the one that that touched me the most was Psalm 68:6 “God sets the lonely in families.” This caught me because this is my dream... to help a lonely child find a place to belong. And for our child to see how much we enjoy him/her! To watch this child blossom and grow in a safe place like our birth kids have. To see him/her run across the yard with two little arms spread wide, laughing until he/she can barely stand.

Thank You, God, for bringing together people who love her with us! And thank You, for friends who will tell friends... and who are praying us through this adventure!

Sweet Baby! Hang on! We’re working as fast as we can!

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Fees, and papers, and details. Oh my!

I’m going to list these details because some of you are also thinking about Chinese adoption. But there’s an awful lot of work between thinking about it and actually doing it.

I really wish we had thought about how much work there was sooner, because we could have been planning ahead in our life schedule a little better. Instead, we mainly focused on the emotional/relational sides of adoption.... how this would affect our birth kids, our family dynamic, etc. We didn’t realize how many practical needs would also come into play - and even dominate the process!

So, maybe if you guys look at this NOW, when you are just thinking about adopting, you'll be able to plan a little better and a little sooner for your adventure! It's tough emotionally when you get to the point that you are really, really ready to leap emotionally-- but STILL have all this work/planning to do!

SOME FEES:

Application Fee - $150
First Agency Fee - $1,900 Fee
USCIS FIling and Fingerprinting - $670 + $80 per adult
Dossier Preparation - $450
Home Study Fees - $1500 + $500 + $500
Second Agency Fee - $3200
CCAA Fee - $1050 Check
Post Adoption Deposit - $500 (refundable)
Visa to enter China - $130 per person
U.S. Domestic and International Airfare - $1000-$1800 + $300 return lap ticket
In-China Travel and Accommodations - $2400
Adoption Registration and Notarization - $400-$800
Child Passport - $100-$150
Orphanage Fee - $5,000
Food - $600-$800
Child Physical and Photo - $80
Child U.S. Entry Visa - $400
Post Adoption Support - varies
Court Validation Fee - varies
Child Birth Certificate - varies

SOME PAPERS I THINK WE NEED TO SECURE:

Physical exam report by a physician.
Account balances from banks showing assets.
Adoption petition (provided by your adoption agency)
Post Placement Agreement (from your adoption agency)
Form I-171H (this is the only time a copy of a document is allowed in the dossier) from the USCIS
For married parents: certified copies of birth and marriage certificates
Proof of home ownership (or rental agreement) - a copy of your most recent monthly mortgage statement or your rental agreement
Employment verification - must be on company letterhead and have a recent date – ask your company’s human resources department for a letter stating how long you have worked for the company along with your current annual salary. (Note: You must include employment verification even if you are self employed.)
Homestudy – obtain a certified copy of your homestudy from the social worker who conducted the homestudy
License of your adoption agency (Note: check to be sure the date on the license is valid)
Results of your criminal background check – visit your local police station to obtain this document
Copy of the photo pages of your passport
Letters of reference – it’s okay to use the same references you used for your homestudy.
Copy of your most recent Federal income tax return – if you don’t have a copy, the IRS can provide you with a copy (go to http://www.irs.gov/faqs/faq1-6.html for instructions on requesting a copy)
Power of Attorney (given to your adoption agency coordinator)
Photographs of your family life (8), couple (3), relatives, pets, house, and 3 passport photos

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The Checklist

Well, I checked some bubbles. But I think we’re going to have to redo it.

Part of the special needs adoption process involves a long checklist with different physical and mental issues. Prospective parents must read through that list and decide yes, no, or maybe.

How do you look at a page full of special needs and decide which conditions you would accept in your child? There’s a huge part of me that wants to just check, “YES,” on all of them, even though some of them frighten me.

I’m fairly comfortable with ASD or VSD, because our birth daughter had an ASD. And I’m comfortable with club foot, because my husband had one. I’m comfortable with cleft lip and palate, because my niece had that.” I also have a dear friend who has a missing finger, another with spina bifida, and on... and on... and on...

What it comes down to is, I COULD love any child on that checklist.

After agonizing for quite a while, I read something online that was helpful. It said to think about which special needs your family could care for best. And it hit me that if we signed up for a child with extreme, long-term needs, our attempts at “love” might prevent someone with better resources from caring for her.

So, I’ll have to think some more. And pray. And ask God which needs we can meet in light of our boundaries. Please pray that we’ll have wisdom there.

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It's strange. Lately I find myself praying for a baby I don't even know yet. First thing in the morning, every morning, I'm thinking about how someone might be putting him or her to bed across the ocean. Last thing at night, I think about how our child might be waking up to a new day.

I pray that the caretakers will be kind until we can arrive. And I pray that God would protect our child from all types of abuse. I pray for that little body, and that God would protect it from disease and harm. I pray over our child's soul, and that God would put Christians in his or her path who would pray over this child there, and maybe sing a hymn over our child while he/she is falling asleep. And maybe that our child would find something to laugh about today, even though things are hard. And I pray for someone to love our baby, and to show him/her what tenderness means, until we can give him/her a forever home.

Sweet baby. May the Lord bless you and keep you. May He make His countenance to shine upon you. And may He give you His peace. We love you!

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Connections

Something I didn’t expect about this process was this instant support network of other adoptive mothers! It does make sense that the sort of women who would welcome a child into their home would also welcome a scared new mother into their hearts. Still, I wasn’t expecting this flurry of connection! I’m so grateful for it!

So, thanks to everyone who is helping in so many ways! It’s been wonderful to have you take the initiative to encourage me and offer good advice. I love you guys!

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CCAI

The early adoption process is going well. I've spent the past few days doing a lot of research about agencies. (Choosing an agency is really the first step of an international adoption.)

I was encouraged by a conversation that I had with CCAI today. I like the way they do the selection/invitation process. It seems like it would fit our family's personality pretty well.

A friend of mine adopted through them, and she had a great experience. Also, SIL's friend used them and things went well.

They also tend to be economical. Their total estimate (including home study and post adoption visits) was $21,450-$23,850. This is still a great deal of money, but it is significantly less than what has been estimated by a few other agencies.

We will need about $7500 for the first six months of the process. After that, I can start applying for lots of grants to help make this happen. So, those of you who are praying, please pray that God will provide that much so that we can get this rolling. :)

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Progress

I spent most of yesterday sifting through agencies online. It has been crazy trying to learn the differences between them.

Some have professional-looking, maneuverable websites. Others are so basic, it’s hard to find the information you need. Some focus more on faith. Some provide extra resources after the adoption. Some show pictures of waiting children. Others will not. And there’s always a question looming in the back of your mind, wondering if the marketing package you see on-line truly represents the actions of the company.

My sister-in-law has been AMAZING about sending me resources. She helped me eliminate a few agencies. She also added a few to my list. I seriously don’t know how I’d be doing this without her!

Anyway, I spent most of yesterday reading and sorting our options. Those of you who have adopted internationally might understand the overwhelmed feeling that can hit when you are trying to make a major, permanent life decision thousands of miles off-site.

So, I was about to shut off my computer late last night when a friend sent me a facebook chat message. It said something like, “You don’t happen to be looking for a good agency, do you?” She didn’t know how I had spent my whole day. I laughed.

Her family adopted from China four years ago. And they used one of the agencies my SIL had recommended. It is one of the more economical agencies, and they had a great experience. She was also able to talk me through several key questions that my day of research had surfaced. I went to bed so thankful for that little well-timed boost of encouragement. It’s neat to see how God is providing for our needs already.

PRAYER REQUESTS OF THE DAY?
Confirmation on our choice of agency
That paperwork will be completed easily
Provision of funding for beginning the process
Application for and receipt of a huge grant to cover the remainder of the process

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About This Blog

Welcome to our family’s adoption journey. As you read, you will see us stumble and take wrong paths. You will see our hopes surge and fall. You will see the gaps in our humanity, and how our God realigns us to His purposes over and again. We think the messiness of this process is important. Sometimes walking with God isn’t a neat, linear package that can be summarized in bullet points. More often, life ebbs and flows around our plans, while God works His sovereign wonders from it all. We are learning so much through this journey. And we are super excited about our new son. If you’d like to join us, we’d love to have you along for the ride.

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