Monday, March 31, 2014

We Are Nothing Special...

I have been thinking about writing on this topic for quite some time now...but was drowning in emotion and had difficulty thinking of how to word exactly what I wanted to say. Since our prayer session at church, I seem to be in a much healthier place emotionally and decided that there was no time like the present to share my thoughts...

Craig and I are nothing special. It is that plain and simple. So many people have made statements to Craig and me over the last few years about our adoption journey and how amazing we are...or how our strength is so great....or how incredible our faith must be...or how they could never go through all of this waiting and pain. Well, we are nothing special.

If you recall in the Bible, there are many Bible heroes that we are shocked to find never felt prepared to do what God was calling them to do, and they were afraid. God called to Moses, gave him a job to do and Moses remembered his past failures and felt inadequate for the task. Jonah, a prophet of God, literally fled the opposite direction of where God was calling him to go. God enabled a nobody named Gideon to win a battle even though he was hiding when the Lord's angel came to him. Of the four women in Jesus' lineage, one was a harlot, the second a Gentile, another an adulteress and the fourth another harlot. God can and will use anyone! He uses us in our weak state so that HE ALONE can be glorified. The point is that God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things. We are nothing special, but we faithfully follow an amazing God who is anything but ordinary!!!

Ever since the beginning of this adoption journey...I have had times where I struggled with doubts and fears. Let me tell you...when we were in Haiti on our mission trips, God's voice and calling to adopt was so clear. However, when we returned was almost like slipping back into a sort of spiritual slumber. It is so easy to fall back into lukewarm living. Our culture has so many ways to fill time with things that really don't matter for eternity...Facebook, television programs, music, sports, and even entertaining our families. These things are not bad in and of themselves...but when they consume so much of our time that we find ourselves lukewarm and doing nothing that is out of the ordinary for the Lord...we have lost our testimony!

When we committed to the adoption, we abandoned our lukewarm status and headed into uncharted territory. Like Gideon, in the beginning there were days that I wanted to hide myself away and was filled with fear over the decision that we had made. Believe me, any questions that our friends or family members shared with us, were questions that we had already wrestled with multiple times. "Is this really what the Lord is calling us to?" "Will our biological children adjust to the changes well?" "Will we be able to afford it?" "How will we ever help five children with college." "How will I handle juggling five kiddos and a job when I get anxious already with three?" "Will the boys have special needs that we won't be able to handle?" And so forth...

Over time, I have seen the faithfulness of our Lord! Oh, what a beautiful thing it is!!! I really do feel like the Lord has chosen a weak I can tell that through this experience He is doing an incredible work in me. I am nothing special in and of myself...but with His help...we are doing something amazing! I give Him all of the glory because on my own...I would not be on this journey.

"God has used the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty." 1 Corinthians 1:27

If you think that God can't or won't use you, think again. His glory shines the greatest through the weakest of vessels. If the Lord has put a tender heart toward adoption in you, it is likely because He has a plan to use you in one of the most remarkable ways...if you will let Him. That is the key. In our lukewarm society, it is so easy to rationalize why the decision to adopt simply does not make sense. It is too expensive, too time consuming, too emotionally taxing...

We are forgetting that adoption is so beautiful!!! It gives a lonely and broken child a home. It causes spiritual growth in the adopting family and their support system. It tests faith and allows an incredible love to bloom. It creates a connection between cultures and helps us to see our family grow beyond the borders of our own country. It allows the Lord to do a work in our lives that we would never be able to accomplish on our own.

"For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?" says the Lord in Isaiah 43:19

We are nothing special...but the Lord is faithful! He has begun this work in us, and He will bring it to completion!

As I write this...I have not had a new update. Several families received updates today and all of them were good updates. Praise God for that. Many of us adoptive families have been really hurting lately and have been noticing more than ever the emptiness of our arms. Tonight I snuggled my three kiddos on the couch and knew that as wonderful as it was...a key part of the family was missing. We long for our families to be complete.

Please continue to pray for our family and other adoptive families.I really believe that your prayers make all of the difference in this spiritual battle. Without your prayers...I am sure that we would have had a much different journey.

Also remember in prayer tonight all of the people that the Lord has placed adoption on their hearts but for whatever reason...have decided against it or are questioning the calling. Help them to know that it doesn't matter if we have weaknesses, if we are still growing our faith, or if we think we are too weak to handle the waiting and pain of the process. All that matters is how BIG OUR GOD IS...and if HE can handle these things. I assure you, He is a very big God!

Thank you so much for your faithfulness!

The Weakest of Vessels,


4.2.14 - Added links of interest from Craig: (please talk to Rebecca or me if there is even a glimmer of questioning or interest in adoption before you let the world speak!)
What percentage of Christian's would need to adopt to care for all of the orphans of the world?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Trusting is Difficult

Since my last entry, we have received a number of updates.

We had been considering looking into a new lawyer to assist with our paperwork to help speed the remaining process up. We have been requested to wait until April 7th to allow the director to try to fix the errors and resubmit the paperwork. We have heard that if we hire a lawyer prior to this, we will have to move the boys to a different orphanage. So, we have taken a deep breath and are trying to see where the Lord will lead us.

We then received an update from USCIS.  The US Embassy requested that our orphanage director and his lawyer come to the Embassy to meet with them to discuss a plan for remedying our situation. This appointment was scheduled for the 24th of March, but it appears that they actually met yesterday on the 25th.

We have been informed that after speaking with USCIS, the new orphanage lawyer believes that he can fix our paperwork in the way the Embassy is requiring in approximately two months. Then the paperwork will be submitted to USCIS and will be processed for Visas (for the third attempt.)

The most difficult part of all of this is trusting. Trusting that the lawyer understands what needs to be repaired, trusting that we are a priority at all, trusting that the director has any real plans to finish our adoption and lose his monthly support checks, and most of all trusting that the TWO MONTHS is really TWO MONTHS. We have been informed that the passport process should take 1-2 weeks and ours took 4 months, the process of moving our dossier from passports to the USCIS should take a day and ours has taken over 7 MONTHS! Yes, trusting is difficult.

So Craig and I are spending much time in prayer and are waiting on God's answer for what direction we should go. We are still contemplating whether we should travel to see the boys in the near future. We are also trying to determine if we can trust to move forward with the current lawyer processing this paperwork. We are hoping for a clear answer to this.

I know that we have the God of the Universe on our side! I trust Him completely! He is watching over our boys this very minute as they sleep on their metal bunks in a tiny room in a broken building with a dozen other toddlers and two nannies. I pray that He is moving in the hearts of all of the individuals from the Haitian government and from our orphanage that will need to be a part of piecing all of the remaining documents together. I pray that God would move mountains and this would be completed MUCH faster than 2 months.

I have had an extra dose of patience this week and attribute that to all of your prayers. I am so thankful to you and I love you all so much.

Resting in Truth,

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Restored Through Prayer

This has not exactly been the easiest week...we went from receiving devastating news on March waiting for OVER a week to have another update. The time in between was not without pain. I have learned many things in the last week.

One thing that I have learned is that when is not wise to get your hopes up. When we thought we had a timeline of weeks...I began to daydream and plan. This is clearly dangerous business because it is the reason that when the next glitch surfaced, I felt as though the rug was pulled out from under me completely. Craig, on the other hand, admitted yesterday that he did not feel as crushed because he guarded his heart when we received the information that it could be only weeks remaining. Hmmm....I will try to work on that...but I will likely fail miserably at controlling my emotions. Sigh.

I have also learned that as a Christian, we need to be extra careful with how we use our words when talking to someone who is hurting. I have learned that it is not healing to be told that the circumstance "is a part of God's plan." I think that it is more helpful to think that the circumstance "will be used by God to grow our faith or to be a testimony to others."

I have also learned that sometimes we think that our friends can understand what we are going through...but actually it is impossible for others to understand the depth of the emotion that we are experiencing without having experienced it themselves. I had a situation this week that knocked me to my knees emotionally. I don't want to go into the specifics of the situation, but it really helped me to see that for our friends and family, it might be difficult to identify with the fact that we are adopting two real little boys...flesh and blood...not just pictures. Of course this is easy for us to grasp because we have held them, fed them, giggled at them, bathed them, changed them and slept beside them. When we struggle with the distance, it is because we have known them as our boys since they were three months old, been able to spend less than two weeks with them and have now been apart for more than a year. A very large portion of our hearts is truly in Haiti. Even on a good day, our hearts are broken. So, when we consider traveling to Haiti on an extra trip and hiring a lawyer, it is because these boys are a part of our family and we have already missed too many moments with them. Two years and almost three months worth of memories since we received our informal referral. So, if the need arises, and we have to find a way to hire a lawyer to bring the boys home, please understand at this point, we will do anything to get them home.

In the last week, I have also learned how important it is that when we begin to struggle emotionally, it is best to reach out for help. I have been struggling with feeling anxious ever since this weekend. I have been anxious about our finances. I have been anxious that the adoption could come to a screeching halt; the paperwork might not be repaired in a timely manner;  that Aftyn, Haley and Aiden might be affected negatively by all of this waiting; and that our friends and family won't understand the choices we make as we move forward from here. So many things on my mind and the anxiousness began to take control of me. This weekend I decided to open up to our Bible Study group about it and boom, three days later we have a prayer session scheduled at our church!!!

I know that many people have been praying for our adoption since the moment we shared our intent to adopt with our family and friends in February of 2011! We thank you so much for your love and thoughtfulness! I truly do not know where we would be without all of you. It is interesting though...when the anxiety begins to take over, somehow knowing that people are praying for you simply does not feel like enough. I needed to HEAR it. I needed to HEAR the words leaving the lips of those that love us and are lifting us up before the Lord.  There were about twenty five or thirty of us in the conference room at our church last night. We shared a bit about where we are in the process and what the current issues are preventing the boys from coming home. Craig and I had prepared a list of prayers and petitions to help update everyone who was there. Our pastor opened with prayer and then we broke up into small groups to pray. Within seconds, the rumble of voices began. Many beautiful voices pleading with the Lord for His mercy and grace. I could just feel the tension begin to leave as the tears began to fall. My broken heart could not be fixed, but my wounded soul was being pieced back together. Praise God for the gift of being able to come to Him in prayer and petition, and praise God for our church family who so loving and rapidly put together this time of prayer.

Just one day later, I find myself experiencing a renewed peace. I am restored through prayer. I know that there will continue to be ups and downs, but I have learned to ask for people to pray for me. OUT LOUD. I want to encourage and challenge you that the next time that someone you know is broken with the circumstances of life...pray with them...THAT VERY MINUTE. They need the angels to fight the fight for their soul right that minute. If you are shy about praying...believe me...that person won't care if it is the clumsiest prayer ever such a broken state...those details don't even matter. Let the Holy Spirit do His work through you!

So...we received an update today from the US Embassy via Senator Thune's office...and I am not sure how to even summarize it. I'll just say this, the Embassy is aware of many families from our orphanage that are hurting. Please, in your prayers for us, remember all of the others that are going through the same process.

We were also informed that there is a scheduled appointment for the orphanage lawyer to meet with USCIS/Embassy on Monday, March 24th to clarify what needs to be repaired in our paperwork. Apparently, he must have missed his appointment last Thursday morning. So, please pray that this lawyer would make it to the appointment and would understand thoroughly what needs to be repaired.

That is all for now. We love you!

Blessedly restored,

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

There Are Not Enough Words...

What a difference a day makes... That was yesterday.

This is today. There are not enough words to fully describe what we are feeling right now.  Honestly I would like to curl up into a little ball and just turn the world off for the rest of the day...but I thought that maybe venting some of these emotions would help me to cope better and might encourage some seriously needed prayer.

The adoption took a terrible turn today. We received an email from USCIS (United States Department of Citizenship and Immigration Services)  at noon indicating that there are further issues with our paperwork. The US government's email expressed some serious frustration with the way that our orphanage director "repaired" our documents. I am sure that I don't fully understand all of the details but it looks like instead of changing the documents by amending them, we need completely NEW documents. We still have many questions. We do not know if this is just for Eli's paperwork or for both boys, and we have no idea what the timeline will look like to accomplish this, but it looks like it could be months.

My heart fell as soon as I read through the document, and I called Craig immediately. He was angry...and rightfully so. I am upset, but my emotions seem to be showing themselves through tears currently. The ups and downs of this process have really thrown me for a loop this time, and I am feeling so discouraged. I HATE that Satan and his minions are all over this adoption. I am so angry that when families choose to adopt, that he pushes every button to make the process a terrible trial.

I am weary of having people tell me that this is a part of God's plan. I don't want to offend anyone that might have said that to me...but you know what...NONE of this is a part of God's plan. God's plan was for there NOT to be sin in the world, and we screwed it up...a long time ago. Now we live in a broken world, with broken families, broken government, broken processes and broken hearts. If this were God's plan, then the boys would be with their birth mom and dad and would have all of their needs met. Instead their country is in shambles, their birth mom passed away, their birth dad couldn't provide for them and they live in an orphanage in conditions that would not be acceptable in the US for our homeless. They have adoptive parents that would love to hold them, love them and provide for them...but greed and errors have made that impossible.

I have no doubt that God will bring beauty from these ashes. I know that He is grieving with us, and that He longs for the boys to be home with us too. I really think that this is what people mean when they say it is a part of God's plan...but somehow that doesn't mend the broken heart that so many adoptive parents experience and it certainly doesn't sooth the soul.

So for now, I am praying for clarity. We are waiting to hear back from our adoption agency to see what their plan is to address this situation. They called with apologies, but we are looking for action. Sarah at our agency has been wonderful, and we are hoping that she will help to solve this situation. We need timelines, plans and solutions. We are so DONE with waiting, and patience, then continuing errors. We need clarity with what direction to move, how to find accountability and how to get answers. We are also beginning to discuss whether we need to find a Haitian lawyer to create some more accountability...but this too is a frightening venture. Lastly, we are trying to determine when we should go and see the boys.

We have put off traveling to see the boys for a whole year!!! Imagine missing a year of your child's life. A YEAR! Enough said.

Needing prayer,

Monday, March 10, 2014

We Are Fully Submitted!!!!

After much prayer and a serious dose of patience...we have finally fully made it to the last stage of the process. Elijah's dossier was dropped off at the US Embassy on Thursday, March 6th, 2014!!! We received notification from USCIS today that verified that they have received our documentation and that we are pending final review!!! Anything with the word FINAL in it sounds fantastic! He said that they will advise us as soon as they complete the review. 

I spoke with another Haitian adoptive mom on the phone today to get a few bits of information from her. We talked for about an hour and I was blessed to soak up much wisdom from her. All of the timelines are tentative and will vary on so many little details, but it sounds as though our paperwork could be processed and ready for us to head down to Haiti to pick up the boys in as little as 4 weeks and as many as 10 weeks provided no errors are found in their paperwork!!!!!! I think my heart just skipped a beat just typing those words!

So we talked a lot about the items that we need to bring along with us and how the process will work when we are in Haiti and returning to the US. It is a bit of a complicated process and involves hauling precious paperwork and two precious boys through many checkpoints. I just hope that the jumble of information will begin to make more sense to this scattered mama's brain by then.

It was so fun to talk about the details of bringing them home. We talked about immunizations, toileting, parasites, scars, skin care, hair care, re-adoption, foods to try and about

the general transition process. We will have our hands full, and I couldn't be happier than I am. It is such a joy to be thinking about real life after the boys are home. This wait has been forever and at times it almost seemed as though the wait would never come to an end. Now, the end is truly in sight!

My heart hurts when I think that it has been a full year as of last week since we have held the boys and snuggled them to sleep. We have a room all decorated for them and a closet and dresser filled with clothes. If we would have known that the wait would have been this long, I know that we would have traveled one more time, but the end has always appeared to be just a few weeks we continued to wait. I don't know why, but this must be a part of God's plan.

We will be certain to let you all know when we have verification that the paperwork has been approved! Until that time, continue to pray that the paperwork would be without errors and that the end will draw ever closer! I just can't wait to introduce all of you to these sweet boys!

With a skipping heart,