Thursday, December 20, 2012

God is faithful AKA Whispers from God

During this adoption process, there have been times of joy and there have been times of discouragement.  But, God continues to be faithful and He continues to whisper words of encouragement and hope to me.  Here are two examples of God's mercy extended toward me...

One day I was a feeling a little very overwhelmed about the thought of dealing with attachment issues again. Another adoptive mom posted a beautiful message about the process that she is undertaking with her teenage daughters. She didn't shy away from discussing the difficulty involved but said that she was blessed to be a part of the healing process. I confess, that when we went through our times of intense attachment-related behaviors, I never felt gratitude. I asked God for strength, but my attitude was more of enduring the "thorn in the flesh" than "rejoice whenever you encounter various trials." Wow. What a blessing to have God show me a different way to think of it.

Today I was thinking and analyzing for about the millionth time about the finances for this adoption. I desperately want to trust God for our financial needs. I don't want to put misplaced hope in some other provision. Then, in my Bible reading for today, there was a story of Amaziah, King of Judah, hiring some soldiers from Israel. This displeased God and He told Amaziah (through a prophet) to discharge the Israelite soldiers. In 2 Chronicles 25, God's word says:

9Amaziah asked the man of God, “But what about the hundred talents I paid for these Israelite troops?” The man of God replied, “The Lord can give you much more than that.”

This was a reminder from God that I need to be obedient and recognize that God can and will abundantly meet our needs. Even after this reassurance, I softly asked God if He would show me that He hadn't forgotten our financial needs (ridiculous, I know!) And today, we got an unexpected check for $22. It doesn't cover all of our needs :) but it was a tangible reminder TODAY that God is working on our behalf to bring our daughter home.

I am so grateful to God who loves me, who whispers to me, who answers my deepest prayer "I do believe.  Help my unbelief!!"

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Hard Thing

Hurricane Sandy came and  wreaked havoc on the northeast.  As we Floridians watched, we knew many people there really didn't know what to expect.  It is one thing to see the destruction of a hurricane on the news or read about hurricanes.  It is another thing to experience it.  Once you experience it, you never think of hurricanes the same.

In some ways, this reminds me about adoption.

The hard thing about adopting the first time...

We read about adoption, but we didn't really know what to expect. 

The hard thing about adopting again...

We have experienced adoption and we know what to expect.

I am not in any way comparing the destruction and devastation of the hurricane with adoption, but I am saying that reading about hurricanes or adoption is NOTHING like experiencing them.

I've been thinking a lot about that lately.  Remembering the difficult days from the first time.  Our social worker kept assuring us that after 6 months the storm clouds would break and we would see a big difference.  Many, many days I clung to that reassurance.  In the really difficult days I vowed to drive from Florida (our home) to St. Louis (where our social worker was) and slug her on the first day of the 7th month if she was wrong.  But (thankfully), she wasn't.  So yes, I know that there are tough times coming, but I also know that at some point the storm will break.

I recall those emotions and those struggles as I read blogs of people slogging through those first days and weeks home, just trying to survive.  I understand their words in ways I couldn't just a few years ago.

And, if all that reading, remembering and reflecting weren't enough, I had a rough day with Yuly one day this week.  Just a small reminder of those first days (although, truthfully, the rough days now are much, much easier than the first hard days)  At the end of the difficult morning, I was reminded again how far she has come--although I also wonder why I haven't come farther (shouldn't I be better at handling these by now?!)

So, I also wonder, what will our rough days look like when we come home from China?  We have hints that there will be differences due to cultural differences and age differences, but we know that that there will be an intense process of grieving, struggling, hoping, loving, crying, praying, bonding, coming together and pushing apart.  Although all of these things occur in the process of raising all children, I can say that the intensity (at least for us) has never been equaled to that first few months home with Yuly.

Friends ask about the difficulty in waiting for our newest daughter.  And the question is legitimate.  It is hard to wait.  We know who she is and we know she is far away.  We know that we have to wait for the process to continue and that it is entirely out of our hands.

Despite our experience with adoption and the waiting associated with it, this adoption is so different from our first.  The wait time so different.  The process so different.  After receiving approval from Colombia we waited until we were given a file to review, but this time we (with God's help) chose our daughter.  Either way the waiting is difficult.  I don't want our daughter to be without a mom and a dad one more day than she has already.  I would go tomorrow if I could.  We love her and we know God is already at work knitting our hearts together.  We talk about her, pray for her, and wonder about her.

But, I also know that this is the calm before the storm and while I wait--sometimes quite impatiently--I am also enjoying the daily blessings during the waiting.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


No, its not that....

it is Logged In Date.

And ours is November 13, 2012.

This means that our file has been officially received by China and is now the arduous process of translating and approving our dossier begins.  Our dossier has 10+ documents--with at least one of them (our home study) being quite lengthy.  We have invested a lot of time, effort, and finances in these documents, so it is a relief to know that they are finally being reviewed by China :)

So...the next thing that happens is...more waiting.  In about 3 months, we will receive our Letter of Acceptance and then things will really start moving.  So, we are enjoying the calm before the storm.

And we are celebrating that we are one step closer to our daughter.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Not much of an update

Anyone familiar with adoption knows that the key word is waiting.  And that's what we are doing...waiting.  But while we wait, God continues to work in our lives and hearts.  Here is what we are up to:

We got to send a care package to our daughter.  We weren't allowed to send anything too valuable...but we sent some things from Country Dollar and photos.  Theoretically, we will get an e-mail when the package is forwarded to her...we haven't received any news yet, so we are guessed it...waiting.

On Thursday, October 4, Todd, Audrey (because she is 18 and lives at home), and I are headed to Jacksonville to be fingerprinted by immigration.  We don't get to pick the appointment time...and of course it is at 8:00 a.m.  Jacksonville is 2 1/2 hours away.  Fun :)

Our goal is that by the time we arrive in Jacksonville, all remaining items (except immigration clearance) will be in our agency's hands so that the second our clearance comes through, our agency will begin the process of sending our dossier to China.  I say beginning the process because after all the paperwork is in there are a myriad of certifications, authentication, and other things that have to happen before our dossier is actually sent.

So, we are getting close.  And that's something to be thankful for!

Friday, August 17, 2012

A Sneak Peek

During the first months of our adoption process, Todd and I couldn't believe how quickly and easily things came together.  We contrasted this experience with our first experience.  We concluded that perhaps God allowed us to have an easier time initially to help us know that this was the right decision.  With Yuly, we knew from the beginning that we were headed on the path God had planned.  And we had LOTS of delays. This time we were much more tentative about whether or not this was the right plan for us at this time.  And we have had a smooth path.  Until now.  Finalizing our home study has been agonizingly slow.  In the scheme of time, it isn't that slow, but now that we have found our daughter, every day seems to matter.  And here she is...

We don't want there to be any delays.  And yet, we have had several weeks of waiting.  Ick.

Our local social worker has been such an encouragement.  Such a blessing.  When I shared my discouragement with her she said, " I keep before me the image of you all finally meeting her in China, and me greeting you upon your return!"

So, we wait and pray.  We dream and plan.  We talk about her daily.  And we hope.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

How do you define "normal"?

Before I work on defining "normal" I would like to share some more exciting news!  We've already heard back from China and we have been approved to adopt our daughter!  In our petition, we stated,  " We eagerly await your permission to add GY, whom we already love, to our family."  And it is true, we already love her and can't wait to bring her home!

And now to the point of this entry...

As we travel this 2nd adoption journey, we are so blessed that we have family and friends that are incredibly supportive of us.  We really have no horror stories of inappropriate questions (nosy questions, maybe, but not inappropriate) or discouraging words.  We acknowledge that some people probably shake their heads and think we are crazy, but fortunately, they are least outwardly supportive.

However, this is not the case for all adoptive families, and my heart today is sad as I think about a friend of mine who, as her family prepares to adopt, has been chastised for not allowing her biological son to have a "normal life."

This comment makes me sad for two reasons.  My friend was hurt by this response and lack of support and I hurt with her.  It also makes me sad for the person who said it because I'm not sure she understood what she said.

What is normal?

In the US, normal is...
  • In 2008, 40% of children were born to single women and 29% of all children were being raised in single parent homes.
  • In the past 30 days, 27% of youth 12-20 have had an alcoholic drink
  • The average American family is $73,000 in debt. 
I don't know about you, but I don't want any of that "normal" in my family.  What do I want?

I want my children to evaluate "normal" according to God's word.  Verses like:

  •  No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
        and this is what he requires of you:
    to do what is right, to love mercy,
        and to walk humbly with your God.  Micah 6:8
  • Defend the weak and the fatherless;
        uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.  Psalm 82:3
  • Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.  Romans 12:13
Don't get me wrong...our family falls short of  God's "normal" but if we are going to strive for "normal" we choose God's normal and not the world's.

I want my kids to think about "normal" in other parts of the world.

  • more the 6 million children die from malnutrition every year.
  • approximately two-fifths of the world's population do not have access to clean water...of these, 425 million of them are children.  500 children die every day due to health problems caused by contaminated water.
  • nearly 115 million children are out of school. Globally, some 53 percent of the children out of primary school are girls, meaning that for every 100 boys out of school, 115 girls are in the same situation 
  • there are an estimated 143 million and 210 million orphans worldwide.
And I want them to be people of prayer and action, helping to change that "normal" in the world.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Some fun news :)

Our adoption agency sent in our Letter of Intent today!  If you are familiar with adoption from China you know what that means:  we have formally requested to adopt a specific child.  We are so excited!!

As I have shared, this journey has been very different than our first.  To this point I have been rather matter-of-fact about this process (unlike the first time--I was nervous and excited and impatient).  Not unhappy or reluctant, but just methodical in working through the process.  But that has changed!  God has moved our hearts and shown us our new daughter and we are thrilled.

Another difference with this adoption is that we were exposed to a lot of children needing homes.  With Yuly, we received her as a referral and then affirmed that choice after prayer.  This time I spent time looking at is overwhelming to see the need.  We prayed for wisdom and discernment.  When we first saw this photo, we both agreed that we should request additional information on the child.  We prayed for a few weeks, including times of fasting to determine God's will in this, and we sense that He has overwhelmingly affirmed our choice.

Unfortunately, I cannot yet share any specific information yet, but please rejoice with us and pray that the process continues to move smoothly (and quickly!).  This is another big difference with our first adoption--this time we know about our child long before we can actually meet her.

The question that most people want to know is what now? or how long?  Well...our home study is almost, but not quite, done.  When it is completed, we send a copy off to USCIS to get approval to bring an adopted child into the country.  USCIS will send us an appointment for being fingerprinted and we will get to take a 3 hour road trip to be fingerprinted in Jacksonville, FL.  Then, we will eventually get approval and it will be time to send our dossier to China.  This phase will take about three months.  Then we wait for China's approval and for them to send us a travel date...this phase will take about six months.  So, we are looking at about nine months.  It will be a long wait, although we will be able to send her packages and begin to communicate with her.

So...that's where we are.  Things are moving along and I can't wait to share more!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Comforter vs. Comfortable

     In the past year, I have been pondering the idea of comfort.  As Americans, we crave comfort.  And as Western Christians, we are no different.  We want to be comfortable.  We gauge decisions by how "comfortable" they make us.  We buy things because they are comfortable.

      Recently, I came to realize that comfort has become my idol.  Not this kind, of course...

but nonetheless, an idol is anything that you seek after, search for, desire, more than God.  And comfort is like that.  Comfort often becomes the object of my desire.
     I also have been reflecting on God's promise for His Comfort.  In fact, Jesus said that He had to go to heaven so that the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, could come.  And this was for our benefit (John 16:7).
    God wants us to seek our comfort in Him and Him alone.  Not in our comfy clothes, our padded bank accounts, or our safe lifestyle.  
    God is not calling me to a life of comfort, but to engage in the world, sometimes in uncomfortable ways--like in adopting a teenager.
    God wants me to be comforted, but not necessarily comfortable.  I just need to remember to seek Him for comfort.  Not my circumstances.  He is my Comforter.  


Sunday, June 17, 2012


We just got back from a cruise.  It was awesome and we had a great time.  However, we were headed home we discovered that we lost one of our bags.  We left it at the port.  Not on purpose.  Bummer.  More on that in a minute...

We had a party of 12:  our family of six, both sets of grandparents, and two friends.  Audrey wished for the cruise as a graduation present about the time that she started high school, so we have been saving for this--and it was wonderful!!

As we prepared for the trip, we talked a lot to the two little girls about what to expect.  We know that all of our kids do better if they know what will be happening.  Yuly was especially nervous about going to another country, but we talked about it extensively and by the time the cruise came, everyone was very excited.

The whole crew!!
 Here are the "big girls" of the adventure.

 My beautiful daughters in Cozumel.
 Headed off to our first adventure... Grand Cayman Islands
The girls loved catching and holding the turtles.

There were many, many happy memories made on this trip.  We ate dinner together every night.  We snorkeled (twice!).  We ate ice cream late at night and even for breakfast (at least some of us did!)

But, our lost baggage was not our only experience with a baggage issue.  We had another one during the trip.  One that was an even bigger bummer.

During lunch one day, Yuly said she wasn't very hungry so I ordered her a bowl of lentil soup.  When it arrived, her whole demeanor changed.  Something about the soup reminded her of a terrible experience in Colombia.  It took her awhile to process through it.  During the off time, she expressed fear and anger in ways that we haven't seen for a long time.  It is heartbreaking to watch my child deal with a horrible memory.  And for Yuly, what she needs when these situations arise is time.  Time to grieve, time to think, time to process.  And then time to reconnect.

This part of the trip was only a small fraction of our time.  For 99% of our trip, we were making happy memories, not dealing with past hurtful ones.  But these reminders of the ghost of her past show us how far she has come, but that she still has past events that she must deal with.  And we don't know when something will trigger those memories.  Unlike our lost luggage, we wish her baggage would be lost forever.  However, like our lost luggage, we must deal with the problem and figure out a way to correct it.  To help her heal.  We thank God, the Great Physician, for the healing she has already experienced and we are grateful for how far she has come.

We also thank God, our Provider, for providing positive memories for our times for all of us and for an opportunity for Yuly to build good memories to help replace some of the bad ones.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Starting the home study...

Tomorrow (Thurs) we officially start our home study process with a visit from our amazing social worker.  Although this is our first visit from her in our home, we have not been sitting idly by.  We have been fingerprinted (including, this time, our 18 year old daughter), had our physicals, had our local background checks, harassed friends and family for letters of recommendation, and filled out about a million different pieces of paper that include everything from a checklist of special needs we would consider, a financial statement, and personal questions like "what does security mean to you and how do you achieve it?"

We have also started fundraising:  a garage sale and a storefront at Just Love Coffee.

We are also currently looking for a nickname for our daughter.  We did that for Yuly so that in the wait we could talk about her and pray for her in a more personal way.  Right now, Yuly has dubbed her nickname to be "China girl."  We have a friend whose parents are Chinese immigrants and we are hoping that she will be able to help us come up with something a little more affectionate.  However, having said that, Yuly drew our first new family photo with the initials "Ch G" above the new sister.  And since we know the age we are requesting, she is drawn in the correct order in the line of sisters.  So sweet.

But of course, our life isn't all about this adoption.  We have four girls who keep us pretty busy.  In May we:

  • celebrated Yuly's 10th birthday, Audrey's 18th birthday and my mom's birthday.  
  • attended Audrey's ballet recital and Yuly and Savanna's Irish dance recitals.  
  • Riza and Yuly sang in a musical production at church.  
  • Riza graduated from Celebration Kinderschool
  • Audrey graduated from Chiles High School. 
  • Yuly and I completed our first year of homeschool and celebrated by going to a homeschool convention in Orlando 
  • Mother's Day was celebrated properly.  
May is a very busy time around our home!!  In fact, we were talking about our new addition and decided that one characteristic we will require is for her to not have a May birthday!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Crazy Love or Just Plain Crazy?

Reading the book "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan challenged me to consider the amazing love God has demonstrated toward me.  The evidence of His love is everywhere.  It is overwhelming.  It is comforting.

It is also convicting.

If God loves me that much, what should my response be?  To love Him.  And God's love toward me was demonstrated through action.  He sent His only Son to die for my sins so that my relationship with Him could be restored.  My only conclusion is that my love for God should also be demonstrated through action.

Through prayer and wise counsel, Todd and I are leaping out in faith that the action that God wants from us at this time is for us to adopt another child.

Todd and I have talked about adoption and I think we always sensed we would adopt again...some day.

But not now.  It doesn't make sense.  It's crazy.

Probably my biggest struggle is this:  I love our family.  My girls get along...mostly.  We love to be together.  We are not perfect, but we love each other.  Our home is generally a happy place.

There are many, many, children who need to be in a home like ours.

But what if by bringing a teenager into our home, it is not a happy place anymore?  
We know from experience that there will be struggles with bonding, transitions, and grieving.  There will be heartache and stress.
There will be difficult times ahead.  Do we voluntarily take this on?

We have asked A LOT of people if we are crazy.  
All but one said, "No."  
One said, "Yes, but the good kind.  You have to be a little crazy to undertake this."

So, here we go.  
Trying our best, in some small way, to reflect God's crazy love that He poured out on us.
Desiring to please God more than maintain our comfort. 
Trusting that He will guide us through the joy and sorrow that this journey will bring.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

I'm starting this blog to describe our journey...the impetus for starting this blog is that we are starting a journey to bring home another daughter. However, this trip started over a year ago, and at that time, there was no notion that it included an excursion to another adoption. This past year has been a time for spiritual refreshment and renewal for Todd and me. It has been a time that we have sought to deepen our faith and fully commit to following God. I think of the Steven Curtis Chapman song "Dive."

I'm diving in, I'm going deep in over my head I want to be
Caught in the rush, lost in the flow, in over my head I want to go
The river's deep, the river's wide, the river is alive
So sink or swim, I'm diving in...

But we will never know the awesome power of the grace of God
Until we let ourselves get swept away in this holy flood
So if you'll take my hand
We'll close our eyes and count to three
And take the leap of faith, come on, let's go!

So, yes, Todd and I are taking a leap of faith and are working to bring home a daughter from China--specifically a teen-aged daughter from China.  We are completely overwhelmed, completely excited, and completely scared--all at the same time.  We've been edging to the end of the high diving board for awhile, but we have finally dived in!