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Friday, July 30, 2010

3 MONTHS

WFU friends, can you tell where my kids are in this picture?
If you are reading this, please pause for a moment in order to be proud of me for having the technical prowess to schedule a post! I am currently in Swaziland, Africa working with children who have been orphaned due to the HIV/AIDS epidemic there. The trip is not at all adoption-related other than my joy at being on the same soil as my son!! I wrote this post before I left :)

We've hit the three month mark on the wait list! The only new big news during our third month was that we were approved by Lifesong for Orphans to do their Both Hands fundraiser. I am beyond excited about it. The short version is that we help a widow in our community and, in doing so, hold a fundraiser for our adoption expenses. It's based on James 1:27 that says "Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you." The idea that we could raise funding for our adoption AND help a widow in our community just makes my day!

The best thing that happened this month was a comment from one of my friends. I was having a rough day adoption-wise and found this comment on my facebook page: "(name of friend's daughter) came home last night and told me "do you know there are kids who are orphans?" We ended up in a long conversation in which I explained her you would be adopting a child from Africa. (She wants us to do the same!) I mentioned that by giving some of her jackets to some children in need she was helping in her own way, etc... Thanks for being at the source of a great conversation with my child!"  That was exactly what I needed to hear when I was feeling down and I thank God for placing such amazing friends in my life to help me along in this crazy journey! He's already using this adoption - I just needed to be reminded of that.

Those of you who are seeing my kids... please give them hugs from me! I am sure I miss them terribly by now but I'll be home in 6 days!

We're now #27 on the unofficial wait list and the first families who are having to travel twice have made that first trip! It looks as if we will be getting 3 one-hour visits with our little one and then we'll see him from across the room during court. I'm cooling on my idea of bringing Riley on that first trip (maybe the second one?) just because of how emotional the court process can be.

We are still praying about some of the health concerns that we might be open to in our adoption. Please pray with us about that. I am really struggling with some decisions here and I would love some clarity. Most of all, I'm just praying for "our baby in Africa" (that's what the kids call him).

I'll blog again once I'm back from Swaziland and have hugged my kiddos fourteen million times. Then maybe I'll be ready to look at computer instead of at their little faces :)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Africa bound tomorrow!

I'm off to Swaziland tomorrow morning EARLY! I plan to get up at 4:30 to go on one final run so I can clear my head, do some praying, and tire myself out for the trip!

The last few days have been hard. Getting ready to leave the kids has been really tough. I have no doubt that God wants me to go and I am so looking forward to going. It's the leaving part that is so hard. I pray that I can come back safely to my children. I'm praying that they handle being away from us for such a long time.

The other thing I've been thinking a lot about is that while I'm a mom worrying about leaving her children, there are some moms who are heading into this trip allowing their children to go while they stay behind. I am SO proud of these moms - letting their teenagers go serve God in a far away country.  I have always prayed that I will be ready to let my kids go when they were ready to do whatever it is that God has called them to do. These moms are my role models and I thank God so much for them!

So off I go. I will be saying some special prayers for my future child and the future children of some of my friends who are also adopting from African countries while I am there. I know God doesn't care where we are when we pray but I am very excited to pray for these children while standing on the same continent!

Thanks to all for the prayers, the good wishes, the offers to watch over my kiddos while I'm gone... I have felt so loved over the past week with everyone checking in on me! Y'all are the best! I can't wait to share about my trip with you when I get back! :)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

If it were my child..

Packing for the trip to Swaziland is making me think. A lot. First I was packing up clothes that my wonderful friends donated. I knew who gave me which bag and I imagined (or remembered) my friends' children wearing those clothes and thought about and prayed for the child who would soon wear them.  My friends came through in a major way - Rob took lots of the stuff with him and I have almost completely filled my huge suitcase with more! (y'all ROCK by the way). Then tonight it was my turn. I hadn't yet taken out my own kids' winter stuff to pack up. We actually don't have much, since we know we have another boy on the way and since we've borrowed lots of clothes from friends.

But the things I did have turned out to be pretty sentimental: the very first little fleecy snowsuit I bought for Riley so he could go on a youth trip somewhere, and the little zip up hoodie sweatshirt that I have pictures of him in when he was first holding his head up. My favorite pj's of Allyn's... she was so cuddly in them!  I began to cry as I folded them up and my instinct was to say "you can keep these, they have sentimental value" but my immediate second thought was "how much more valuable will the memories of these clothes be if you know they are keeping a child warm."  I would much rather keep the memories in my mind and know that those clothes are on a little body somewhere rather than in a box in my attic.

I kept thinking about 1 John 3:17: If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?  I can't claim to love God and then hang on to my material stuff because I want to store it up in a box somewhere for the day I want to think about my kids as babies. That makes no sense. And when I really think about it, those are the clothes I especially want to send.

I often hear people use the words "if it were my child..." Sometimes it's related to parenting advice but often it's with regard to a child in a tough situation.  If it were my child who was cold and had nothing to wear, I would hope someone somewhere would send him something warm.  And then I realized: this time, it IS my child. I have a child somewhere in Africa who could be pretty cold right now.  Families who are adopting always bring over lots of humanitarian items... items that are likely feeding, clothing, or diapering my son at this very moment or will in the very near future. Praise God for those families!

I can't wait for my planned "activity" with the kids tomorrow. 'Cause guess what? I didn't pack those winter clothes. Not tonight.  Tomorrow, the kids and I will sit down at the table and talk about each one. I'm going to tell them my memories of when they wore them and then we'll talk a little about the kids who will wear them. THEN I will put them in the bag.
(and let Riley delightedly use the vacuum cleaner to suck all the air out, thus probably ruining any possible memory of having learned an important life lesson).

Friday, July 16, 2010

What to do...

when your husband is in Africa? Lots, apparently! (warning, this is a total "fluff" update)

Rob left this morning for Swaziland. And what's international travel without a small panic moment, right? After I'd driven about 15 miles from the airport, I got a call on my cell phone from a number I don't recognize. I almost didn't answer it but since Rob is traveling I decide to answer. Thank goodness I did! He had left his cell phone in my car AND when he got to the check-in line they told him his seat was reserved but never paid for! Ugh! But luckily I was able to call the Heart for Africa folks & they got it worked out before I even made it back to the airport to deliver Rob's phone!  It was a pain but it was kind of nice to get to go back & see him again quickly before he left!  I think he spent the entire time waiting outside for me freaking out a little... when I got there, the first thing he said was "you couldn't get her on the phone, could you?" And I was very glad to be able to tell him it was all already worked out! :)

And since he's been gone, I've been a cleaning freak! I wanted to clean our bedroom really well since I'm going to offer my mother-in-law to sleep in there while I'm away. Somehow in the process of cleaning, I decided to change all the furniture around! I'm not sure I like it but I don't care - it's fun to have a change.  I think I just won't tell Rob & let him find out when he gets home.  I also cleaned out the entire linen closet (which is where all our medicines & stuff are - definitely found some stuff that expired back in 2004! yuck).  Then I proceeded to head outside & let the kids play while I cleaned up the front porch & swept off all the dead grass clippings & stuff. That's a tougher job than you think.

So now it's 9 pm, I am still really dirty & gross but the kids are clean & in bed. And I have the rest of the night to keep cleaning! I figure I might as well keep the streak going while I can!

Anyway... I am considering this practice for those 3-6 weeks in between the 2 Ethiopian trips. I'm already planning to do some painting around the house during that time.  Maybe this is the adoption version of nesting? I never "nested" with either of my biological kids but there's a first for everything, right?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Two weeks to Africa...

Ooops... it's been 11 days since I last updated the blog! I've been trying to do it weekly and usually I have something to say about once a week. Rob was out of town last week so I guess I was too busy taking care of the kids :) And too worn out to have anything to say. ha ha

Right now I've mostly been worrying about our upcoming non-adoption-related trip to Africa. I have never left the kids that long before and certainly never gone this far away before.  I'm not handling it great.  Well, after crying, stamping my feet, and telling Rob that I was no longer going on the trip and then making him promise to call Heart for Africa to see how I could get out of it (and somewhere in there trying to convince him that being apart for 21 days would actually be really good for our marriage!), I'm doing much better.  And, for the record, my incredible husband duly called and discovered exactly how I could get out of said trip.
But I'm not backing out.

As hard as it is to leave my kids here, I know they'll be in great hands (they are ridiculously excited for the grandparents to come).  And what a hypocrite I'd be if I didn't go. I can't just go around talking about how important it is for us to address the issues related to orphans worldwide and then wimp out of my plans to go actually work with them. Sheesh.

I am going to Swaziland. Just north of South Africa. We are not adopting from Swaziland. Not because we wouldn't want to but because we can't. Swazi government doesn't officially allow adoptions. And Heart for Africa does not arrange adoptions. Because these kids are the future of Swaziland and adopting them out to other countries might have serious repercussions for this tiny country (about the size of Delaware). They have a negative population growth. That means more people are dying than being born. Most dying of HIV/AIDS (which is totally treatable, may I add... but that's a different soapbox of mine).  The kids in the Heart for Africa children's homes aren't just being fed & clothed. They're being educated and loved upon and taught about the love that Jesus has for them and how important and valued they are! And our hope is that these kids will be the future leaders of Swaziland and turn the trajectory of the country around.

In my honest opinion, this is a much better answer to the problem of orphans in the world. Obviously I think adoption is wonderful... but only in situations when a child truly can't be better cared for in his/her own culture.  I think it just shows how much work we have to do.

So here I go... two weeks from today I'm leaving to go do some of that work. I'm going to love on some kiddos, plant some gardens (I won't tell them about my weed garden at home!), and try to help re-connect some communities.  My kids need to know that the orphans in Swaziland are important enough for Mommy & Daddy to go help them even if it means leaving them at home for a little while.

And guess what else? My feet will touch the soil on the same continent as my son!!! I can't wait to pray for him while our feet are on the same ground! The thought brings tears to my eyes :)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

"Mommy, you are NOT a superhero"

We are in the throes of superheroes at our house lately. Our almost four-year old (he rarely tells anyone he's three anymore) is a little  EXTREMELY obsessed.  He's quick to inform us that he has an "Ironman button" he can push at any time to become said superhero.  I don't have the faintest clue how he even knows who Ironman is since I don't even know who that is! And he graciously allows his little sister to borrow his superman/batman/spiderman pj's since she is, in his opinion, a neglected child who doesn't have superhero pj's of her own.  You know a girl has a big brother when she can recognize & say "Spiderman" at 20 months old! :)

Anyway, I recently was showing off some kind of cool trick for the kids and tried to liken myself to Ironman. Riley was NOT buying it. Which led to this statement: "Mommy, you are NOT a superhero." Which was also followed by "You don't even have a cape."

But he is right in so many ways.  I am not a superhero (even if I could find a cape).  I've been getting some very well-meaning, nice comments about our adoption lately but there's something I need to clear up. We aren't saving an orphan.  There's only one Savior I know of and that's Jesus. I'll leave all the saving to Him.  Here's the deal: I am a sinful, lowly servant of God who has been called to love a fellow sinful, lowly child of God.  God scooped me up and redeemed me when I was in the midst of living my mess of a life.  And He has told me to love on others not because I am any better than they are but because we are exactly alike!  Can I say that again, just for emphasis? I'm not adopting an orphan because I am better than he is (or than his people or his culture or his birth mother).  I am adopting an orphan because God adopted me and only because of His love in my life can I turn and love on another orphan.

All the superhero stuff going on in our house was making me think so I thought I'd share.  Plus I got to run all by myself this morning. It's amazing how much thinking I can do when I'm all by myself for thirty minutes! :)