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Monday, January 31, 2011

NINE MONTHS!

Yesterday we hit nine months on the wait list. I don't have much to say in terms of updates - there aren't any right now. We are still patiently and not-so-patiently waiting for a referral for a little boy. And we love him already.

But I do want to share this with you. This is not our video, a friend posted it on her blog and I think she found it on youtube.  But if you want to know why we are adopting from Ethiopia, here you go! I'll warn you, this video makes me cry. Not the pretty tears-in-the-eyes kind of cry. The put-my-head-down-and-sob-while-my-children-look-at-me-with-alarm kind. But it will explain to you why my heart is so broken for the children in Ethiopia.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

What I want to say...

What I want to say is I don't like this. I'm having a hard time with the delay right now. I want to tell y'all that this is too hard, it's not fair, I don't understand. I want to stamp my feet and yell.  Instead of being giddy wondering if my phone will ring with a referral this month, I know instead that no call is coming for now. And don't know how long "for now" will be. This sucks.

That's what I want to say.

But I'm not going to say all that. :)  A couple of truly awesome things have happened this month so I'm going to talk about those things instead!

First, our sweet friends from www.bloggingwoggle.blogspot.com came through town on their way to visit family! We cooked an Ethiopian dinner and just sat around chatting waaaayyy too late into the night!  I can't tell you how wonderful it was to connect with another family in the same phase of the adoption as we are. The internet is a funny thing... we "met" because of our blogs. It's kinda funny to have friends you met on the internet! But I'm so glad they've become a part of our lives!

Next, my wonderful friend Susan surprised me with the coolest gift! She's been planning this for a long time but her timing was perfect! Right when I was feeling really down about adoption stuff, she shows up with this necklace:

It's a real Ethiopian stamp made into a necklace! I love it! And it has a really pretty design on the back. One of her friends makes all kinds of cool stuff with stamps and when Susan saw her stuff, she thought it would be cool to do an Ethiopian one! It was so thoughtful!  She's the best. You really should meet her, if you haven't already :)

AND... the best part is that she gave her friend quite a few MORE Ethiopian stamps! So if you want one, check out her friend's etsy shop!  I don't think she has any more already made right now, but you can request it as a custom item!

And lastly, Riley is really "getting it" when it comes to caring about what's going on in the rest of the world. He's heard us talk about Africa most of his life - Rob went for the first time just before Riley turned two.  But recently, he's been understanding more. He loves to watch our videos from when we were in Africa and recently noticed that none of the kids were wearing shoes. He was surprised when I explained to him that they don't have shoes.  Some friends of ours from church are going to India in March and they shared a little bit about their trip with the kids at church on Wednesday night. Ever since, Riley keeps talking about how there are people with no clean water in India.

The other night, this was his prayer (all on his own:)

Dear God,
Please help the orphans in Africa who are sick to feel better. Please help the people in India who only have dirty water to drink have clean water. Please help the whales who have to drink dirty water not get sick. Amen.

(okay, I have no clue where the whale part came from but it was hard not to start giggling while he prayed!)

Then he says "Oh I forgot one thing!  Please help Wills' parents help the people of India learn about Jesus. Amen."

So yes, I want to complain and be frustrated.  But instead I'll praise God for wonderful friends, old and new, and for the eyes of my children, who are seeing right into my heart.

"Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

ONLY MOMMY!

Tonight we had one of those frustrating/rewarding moments when "Mommy" is the ONLY one who will do.

Allyn is a Mama's girl.  She's getting better, but last summer she wouldn't even let Rob hold her at the pool if I was within viewing distance.  Most of the time she's fine but when she has her "Mommy-only" moments, there is nothing anyone can do, short of coming to get me.  I understand why she's that way - the child is with me 24/7 so of course she's not thrilled when I leave her. And usually she struggles on Sunday nights when our schedule's been off all day anyway and I go to youth group, picking the kids up around the time we are usually reading our last story for bedtime! No wonder it's hard for them!

Tonight, not even our wonderful preschool minister (who Allyn adores and is one of my close friends) was enough for poor Allyn. She was brought into the youth room, sniffling and red-eyed, whimpering for Mommy.  Of course the minute I picked her up, she was fine and we ended up having a mini pizza party in the hallway with a little buddy of hers, who happened to be having his own "Mommy moment" at the same time.

Frustrating.  Mostly because I don't get as much time with the youth group as I used to before I had kids so I really value every minute I get to spend with them. It had taken me 30 minutes to get Allyn to agree to stay in the nursery in the first place so I was late to youth group to begin with.  Even though it is what I choose, being a (mostly) stay-at-home mom can be unbelievably difficult - I really am on call for my kiddos all the time. Always. 24/7. whew! With the exception of the 4 days a month that I work, I am with my kids the rest of the time.

But when I feel her little body relax against mine and I know that for now, I can make everything right in her little world just by holding her, my frustration melts away and I know I love being her Mommy. I know it won't last forever so for now, I don't mind the sacrifices I have to make in order to take care of my "Mama's Girl."

The hardest part is that it made me think about my other child, halfway around the world. The one who doesn't have a Mommy at his beck and call right now.  And it made me think about the four million orphans in Ethiopia alone who call out for Mommy and no one answers. Ugh. Can you imagine? So many precious children with no parents. None. That is not okay with me.

This delay is taking a harder toll on me than I had thought. I took the news in stride at first, but now it's starting to sink in. I think it is so hard because I KNOW about orphans in Africa. I have held some of them in Swaziland and seen how desperately they want to be held, to be loved upon.  And because I know, I am in a hurry to do something about it. And at this moment, there is NOTHING more I can do. The only thing I can do is wait as patiently as I can.

Please pray with me - we need this little delay to be as little as possible!

Friday, January 7, 2011

What do you need to raise a family?

I've been thinking a lot about family lately.  Specifically, what does it mean to raise a family? My kids are so little - they're 4 & 2 and so I've only been doing this "raising a family" thing for a few short years. But I feel like so many of my conversations with other moms center around this very thing: How do we raise our families? What is important? How do we do it right? And what does that even mean!?!

I've noticed we often think of raising a family in terms of what we're providing to our kids: stuff we buy for them or activities that we engage them in. We research the best educational, developmental, environmentally-friendly toys. We search out the "perfect" preschools.  We sign them up for the Little Gym, Kindermusic, t-ball, soccer...  I admit I've done  all those things.

The more I pray about what it means to raise a family, I realize that God hasn't been talking to me about any of those things.  Not that any of that is bad.  Those are all great things.  But when it comes to raising a child, or creating family, none of those are essential.

I joke a lot about how I am already planning for our NEXT adoption.  My biggest reservation is about how would we pay to raise four children.  What I really mean by that is, how could we afford to raise four children who get a million toys for Christmas, get to participate in every activity, and graduate from college without school loans?  Last time I checked, none of those things are required in order to follow Jesus. And all I REALLY want for my children is that they would fall in love with Him.

When it comes down to it, I already have to give a lot of those things up in order for us to have three kids.  Will I one day look at one of my children and think "well, if we'd only not had you, your brother could have done soccer AND karate."  Of course not!  I would rather raise children in a home where they are loved and cared for, regardless of how many luxuries they get to enjoy.  I'd love for them to value others above themselves.  That's part of why I went to Swaziland this summer. I want my children to know that there are suffering children around the world who are so important to God that Mommy & Daddy have to travel and leave them for a little while to go help. It is okay to sacrifice our own personal comfort for someone else's benefit.

Will we adopt another child after this one? I don't know.  But I can't let go of the idea yet. Would I rather provide a loving home for another child who would otherwise be an orphan or would I rather be able to buy my kids cars for their 16th birthdays? What a dumb question.

Soooooo... if any of you have been thinking about/praying about/considering adoption and are concerned about the "sacrifice," let me tell you I'm right there with you.

But time and again I am learning that every time I make the choice that honors God, it is the right one.

Monday, January 3, 2011

EIGHT MONTHS... and a New Year!

We hit 8 months of waiting on Dec 30th. I wrote a blog post but never published it. It was kind of sad & down. We had just learned about some new delays in the process and I was bummed out about it.

I'm over it now.

Because my friends, this is international adoption! I've written more times than I can count about the rollercoaster ride that this adoption has been. Whenever things seem "down", there's sure to be an "up" somewhere around the corner (or maybe a turn that takes your breath away). This ride is not for the faint of heart, I've learned. It can even make you throw up (maybe they should put that in the adoption brochures! ha ha)

Soooo... after my most recent frustration over waiting times, I was thrilled to see our next "up": I got the latest totals from our Both Hands fundraiser and I almost fell out of my chair when I read the email.

I can't stop praising God and thanking all of you who listened to Him whisper to your hearts to help find an orphan a home! So far with all of our fundraising efforts, we have raised $18,000 of the $27,000(ish) that we estimate this adoption will cost. Is that not amazing? This means we can accept a referral as soon as we get it (we'll have to send $9,000 to accept a referral and then start buying plane tickets).

You people are amazing. God is amazing. While I still don't understand why it needs to cost such a staggering amount in order to find an orphan a home, I am beyond honored and humbled that so many people want to be a part of it. We don't know his side of our son's story yet - how he came to be an orphan. But we know OUR side of his story so far - one that includes so many people who love him enough already to help bring him home.

Can I confess something? It's so ridiculous that I even thought this way but, here goes: I didn't ever believe we would raise this much. When God first started whispering to us about international adoption, I told him he was wrong. It was too much money and maybe he was a little confused & was talking to the wrong couple. Surely He meant to talk to a family with two full-time, profitable careers. When He kept bothering us about it (and I finally decided to listen), we embarked on one of the scariest commitments of our lives: we'd bring a child home no matter what the financial cost would look like. I researched grants, loans, fundraisers, etc as soon as we'd sent in our first application. And I still acted as if we were supposed to be doing this on our own. We were prepared to clean out our bank accounts, apply for loans, etc.  I wonder how many times God smiled down on me as I frantically crunched numbers, saying to Himself, "Bless her heart, when is she going to just trust me?"

I can't take any credit for our fundraising. This is too big for me to have done. And I'm so honored that God has included us in his plans for taking care of orphans. And humbled by so many who want to be a part of it too.

Not a bad way to start the New Year, huh?