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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

How many major appliances....

... is God going to allow us to destroy before we actually trust Him to provide the funding for this adoption?!?!

Guess what caught on fire yesterday? The lawnmower. It was actually pretty scary since Rob & Riley were standing right next to it as it caught on fire and we were terrified it would blow up. But now looking back the situation was pretty funny because it brought all our neighbors out of their homes toting various "solutions" to the problem (prize goes to my friend Mariah for showing up with potting soil, in case anyone was wondering).

So here's the list of big things that have broken and/or been replaced since we decided to adopt: the kitchen sink/dishwasher/countertops/floor, our washer, something expensive in Rob's car (I can't remember what that was), and now the lawnmower.  At the moment, Rob & Riley are at Lowes to buy a new lawnmower. And a fire extinguisher. And a bag of potting soil to replace Mariah's.

But here's the thing... when we needed almost $1500 to pay for the next round of fees, God provided it (a family member just happened to send us an $500 and she didn't even know about the $1000 donation we got OR that we even needed the money for the fees!!).  Then this week we canceled our cable because we felt like we needed to be cutting down on "extras" for the next year and a half while we focus on the adoption.  God's response: lawnmower fire! :) I don't think that God's frowning on our cutting out extras but I'm sure He's reminding us of WHO exactly is in charge of this whole thing. Rob said to me last night "and I was just starting to feel okay about money again."

So here's my prayer for today: Okay, God. I get it. Please don't come after the fridge, the dryer, or my food processor. I trust you that adopting from Ethiopia is something that you have called us to do and I know you will help us do it!

We're starting the application to do this super cool fundraising project... I am so excited about it! And that's the cliffhanger... I'll tell y'all more about it later!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

APPROVAL (and frustration!)

It came it came! Last week I got word that our homestudy was sitting on the approval manager's desk. I've been stalking my email ever since. Usually my rule is that if the kids are awake I'm not on the computer but I've been leaving my email up & checking it every time I walked by just in case...

And it came today: "Congratulations, you are now Gladney approved and ready to begin the dossier and ultimately the referral phase of your adoption process." Great big happy sigh!

Yay! That means CIS approval and making sure our dossier documents are all set and then we can be on the waiting list! Hooray!

Want to know the really amazing part??? Now that we're approved we have to pay the next set of fees - about $1400. And guess what happened this week? An incredible individual (or family) gave an anonymous donation to us through our church of $1000. How amazing is our God? I have been continually amazed and humbled by how God works and this process so far has done nothing but affirm my faith in Him... even in the tough moments! And I thank God especially for that family!

What a GREAT day!

Okay... I wrote all the above part earlier today but I thought I'd add a small addendum just to give y'all a little taste of exactly what the highs & lows of adopting are really like! I was on cloud nine today after learning we had our agency approval! I happened to check my email again tonight and found an email from the person who is helping us put together our Ethiopian dossier paperwork and learned that the employment verification letter I sent was not notarized correctly and has to be re-done. This is not a huge deal and certainly NOT the first document we've had to re-do but what is so frustrating about it is that the reason it's unusable is because the notary seal doesn't have a rectangle around it. 


Seriously... a rectangle.  Please raise your hand if you think the presence or absence of a rectangle has anything to do with adoption... or my ability to parent! Oh but it does... apparently the presence of a rectangle is quite important! ha ha ha. I'm laughing but it's a little frustrating to have to email my employer & ask for another letter that must be notarized again (and follow all the correct notarization guidelines for adoption, which are slightly different than regular notarization). Plus it costs me $8 every time I have to mail in more original documents! So really, that rectangle is costing me $8!! (just kidding)


Sheesh!

Friday, March 19, 2010

We are officially NOT criminals!

HOORAY!

Okay, I'm not really celebrating the fact that Rob & I are not criminals.  That was not actually the surprise. But the surprise I found at 10:45 tonight was a Fed Ex envelope sitting on the front porch... our FBI clearances have come back! YAY YAY YAY! It only took 9 weeks! :)

And I got an email last week saying that our homestudy was sitting on the approval manager's desk at Gladney. So I've been stalking my email waiting to hear from them to hear that we're Gladney approved and that our homestudy is officially done.

Once that happens, I can send our completed homestudy to Citizenship & Immigration (CIS) and we'll just be waiting on our CIS clearance (which could take up to 90 days... but I"m not focusing on that part right now)

All of our documents for our dossier have been submitted (with the exception of FBI & CIS clearances but I'll be sending the FBI paperwork this week).

What does all that mean? Once we get CIS clearance & our dossier is submitted we go on the waiting list!

Yes, I'm a total nerd for being so excited to get four pieces of paper from the US Government... but it is one step closer to wrapping my arms around "our baby in Africa" (as Riley calls him).

Thank you God for this one baby step closer... and please have someone kiss our little one an extra time today!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Why

As a mom of a three & a half year old, I am faced with the "why" question all the time - approximately 42 million times a day actually. And I can usually answer Riley's "why?" with some kind of halfway-sensible answer. When he "whys" me into a corner, I just tell him "because God made it that way" and he's usually satisfied.

But I'm struggling with some whys today that I just can't answer. I lost a friend this week. He was struggling with depression and had gone missing and last night I got the call to tell me that they had found him. And he's gone.  I don't have words to express the sadness and grief I feel for his mom, his girlfriend, and their families. I don't have an answer to this "why."  All I can do is pray.  In church this morning we sang,  "I called. You answered. And you came to my rescue. And I wanna be where You are."  I couldn't keep it together to sing along.  Why did my friend have to lose his battle with depression? Where was his rescue? Why is the world this way? My standard "because God made it that way" answer just doesn't seem to apply here.

I don't really have an answer why.  I never will.  But I know that God has a better plan for all of us. Some may say that this was somehow God's will, but I don't believe that. I don't believe God wants us to suffer.  I believe He can redeem the worst situation and turn it around for good but I just can't believe that God's will was for my friend to lose hope the way he did. Likewise, I don't believe it is God's will for children to be abused, to be born into disease or poverty or for women to be raped. All of that is a result of this sinful, messed up, broken world we live in.  I thank God that He is there to help us pick up the pieces, heal us, and show us a much better way. And I am praying hard for His peace for my friend's family. I pray God shows up for them in an undeniable way.

The past year I've been praying the Lord's Prayer more intentionally - focusing on what it's really saying and the most powerful part for me is "thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven." Jesus tells us to pray that God's will WILL be done here... just as it IS done in heaven. And I'm trying so hard to do my part to make this world a place where what God wants to happen is what actually does happen. That's part of why we are adopting.

We're adopting because there's a child who needs a family but in all honesty, I'm adopting a child whose birth mother I wish I had been able to keep alive or who had been able to keep him.  We will always continue to work with Heart for Africa to try to change the trajectory of Swaziland so that fewer children there are orphaned. I would love to live in a world where adoption doesn't happen because there are no struggles with AIDS, infertility, poverty, or rape. The reality may be that we won't experience this until we are in heaven but I'm certainly going to work hard to get us as close as we can.

I'm not trying to make some random connection between my friend & our adoption just so I can write about it on this blog. Those are the two "why" questions I struggle with right now.  I failed my friend somehow - our society failed my friend.  Society has already failed my future child because he's going to (or already has) lost his birth mother. I grieve this and I know God grieves this.  And I don't know why it is the way it is.  But I do know there is hope. There's so much hope and I pray that everyone who is suffering today can find it.

"Hope is a good thing. Maybe the best thing. And no good thing ever dies." This was the quote on my friend's facebook page.  I think the best way to honor his memory is to hold on to hope. And I plan to do just that. This was a tough week for me between bad days, news about my friend, and news about our adoption but there is no giving up.  "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."  For me, it's more like, "I can't do anything without Christ, who strengthens me."

My prayer for my three little ones today is that they will never lose hope, no matter the struggle. That's my prayer for the world, actually. Please hold on to your hope. Please.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Rollercoaster

The adoption journey is difficult, full of unexpected twists & turns. Everyone tells you this.  I knew this going into it.  And I thought I was prepared. But I was wrong. "We'll have some tough spots," I thought, "but surely nothing too terribly difficult will happen during OUR journey." Just call me Miss Naive.

I had actually planned to write a blog update this week and call it "stagnant" because we really hadn't had anything go on this week. I felt like we were standing still in the process.  Rob did go back to CIS and was able to successfully get fingerprinted (take that, bagel!) but otherwise there was no news on the adoption front.

Until I checked my email this afternoon.

Ethiopia has changed their court policy. Until now, a representative from our adoption agency was allowed to stand in for us at court. That meant we would only take one trip to Ethiopia, thus saving us from having to buy two sets of plane tickets & leaving our kids here twice.  That was until today.  As of today, BOTH adoptive parents have to present before court in Addis Ababa.  We now have to travel to Ethiopia twice.... leaving our kids here twice.... paying for two more plane tickets to Ethiopia (plus the other travel expenses).

Imagine my shock. Part of the draw for us toward Ethiopia was the ONE required trip.  And we're already stressed about finances and now this means two more plane tickets to buy.  At one point while reading the email I had to remind myself to breathe.

BUT.... here is the GOOD part. No, not good - the AMAZING part. This means we will get to meet our child much earlier in the process. We'll get to hold him and kiss him and take pictures with him to bring back to our kids here.  And when we return to Ethiopia to bring him home he will have seen us in person before, not just from pictures we've sent.  What an awesome opportunity!

So in this MAJOR "setback" is an amazing thing.... I will get to hold that baby in my arms much sooner (even if I still don't get to bring him home until later).  As a mom, I couldn't ask for anything better.

And now I know to fasten my seatbelt extra tightly on this rollercoaster journey.