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Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Reality Check

Adoption is hard.

HARD.

I’m not going to lie, friends.  Though I know there are different and difficult challenges to come, this (hopefully) last part of the wait is horrible.  I am a MESS.

Our daughter’s case was submitted to the U.S. Embassy on August 29.  This Monday, we received an email (cc’ing the wrong agency, BTW) from the Embassy requesting a birth family interview.  This was expected and normal, and in other recent cases has been scheduled within 24-48 hours of receipt… but of course this week Ethiopia is celebrating its new year (they follow a different calendar), so things haven’t moved beyond that request.

In the meantime, I feel like holing myself in the corner and rocking back and forth, wailing.

Does that sound like an over-reaction?

Consider how I explained my feelings to my kiddos when they witnessed said wailing:

“You know that Mommy loves you so much.  You are each a part of me.  If you were stuck somewhere I couldn’t get to you, somewhere far away, I would do ANYTHING to get to you.  ANYTHING.  Well, right now your baby sister is halfway around the world… without her Mommy, without me… and I can’t get to her to wipe her tears, to take care of her owies, to hold her when she is sad.  I can’t bring her home yet, and it’s tearing me apart inside because — just like I would do ANYTHING for you — I would do ANYTHING to bring her home with us.  Can you understand that?”

Three nodding heads.  And one sympathetic crier who proceeded to cuddle with Mommy for the next hour as I wept.  Thanks, sweet Annie.  🙂

There is no getting around it.  Please bear with me… and if you’re so inclined, please pray to God to open the doors so I can fly to her as soon as humanly possible.

 

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The Next Step

Over the past two nights, I have barely slept… waking repeatedly to the demands of my heart, of my God’s heart, to pray.

While I lay awake, our sweet D’s grandfather traveled many miles to appear in a courtroom in Addis Ababa.  This morning (around midnight our time), he was there… and in the words of our agency’s attorney, he “did well giving his consent.”

Consent.

To strangers halfway around the world.

Whenever I awoke these past nights, I hardly knew what to pray.  How to pray.  I found myself going back and forth…

… first praying for D’s peace, for her grandfather’s peace, that all would go smoothly and we would be able to move forward with her adoption.

… then finding myself asking God to reconcile what was broken, to make a way for D to be raised with her birth family.

… and ultimately, giving it over to Him and begging — crying out, at this point — for His will to be done in the lives of this man and his beautiful granddaughter.

This morning, while I watched our boys at karate, I got the email confirming his appearance from our coordinator.  Its title:  “All Good”.

I wept.  Big, ugly tears.  So many emotions that had been bottled up, anticipating the news, now pouring out in tears.

Because I struggle with that description… that somehow what transpired in a small courtroom in Africa while the western world slept is “all good.”

Yet, ultimately, it’s appropriate.

It comes down to faith in the sovereignty of God.  How He bends circumstances, beautifies them, for His glory.  He takes what is broken and creates it again WHOLE.  This is my God, who uses the picture of adoption to represent His relationship with all those who follow Him.

And He loves us fiercely, my friends.

I already have what I can only describe as a fervent, growing love for this little one.  It surprises me, honestly.  I haven’t yet met her, and have to date only witnessed brief two-dimensional moments captured by the cameras of other parents who have traveled to the care center during these past two months.  But my heart longs for her… to shower her with love, to sing her to sleep, to look in her eyes and kiss her forehead and promise her that we’ll never ever let go.

He is already creating in me a momma’s love for this child.

One week from today, we will board a plane and fly halfway around the world to meet sweet D for the first time.  To stand before a judge in Ethiopia and officially adopt her.

To swear to love her always, to redeem what was broken.

Please pray with us for our little D.  Pray for her heart, for God to prepare her for the love of the family to which He has delivered her.  Pray for our kiddos at home, who have never been without at least one of their parents for more than two days, that they would thrive.

We travel with a heavy yet joyous burden… knowing what a responsibility and privilege our God has given us, to be the parents of these four beautiful children.

To Him be the glory: the Mender of the broken, the Creator of all things new.

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I honestly don’t even know how to best write this.

There are so many things I want to express, yet so little I understand.  How God works, how He chooses… so many things.

What I do know is this:  today, my friends, we REJOICE.

We have waited for what often seemed like forever.  Too long, it has felt.  More than two years have passed since we first stepped out in faith and applied to adopt a little girl from Ethiopia.  We have been on the wait list since August 2010.

There were times we nearly lost faith, when we questioned God’s plan and His power.  When we thought we knew who our daughter was, only to have God say “not yet”.  When we wallowed in self-pity and lashed out in anger at the plight of one whose face we could not see… for her birth family, for all the little ones like her stuck in orphanages while impersonal politics loomed large and hope — for her, for them — seemed naive at best.

Then on Friday morning at 11:15am (MST), my phone rang.  I heard the first few notes of the song I had programmed to play ONLY if our adoption agency called from a particular number with our referral.  I tell you, the first stanza didn’t finish before I dropped the laundry in my hands and whipped that phone out of my back pocket.  Our coordinator had me on speaker phone; all the other office folks were in her office with her to listen in (we live just across the street from our agency, so they all know me quite well!).

I heard:  “This is Allison!  Did I call you from the right number?”

Me:  “If you’re calling with a REFERRAL you did!!!!!!”

Allison:  “I am!!”

And then I collapsed onto the stairs, freaked out a little, and started shaking uncontrollably.  Normal reaction, right?

Long story short, a few minutes later my husband rushed home from work and we drove across the street to the agency, where we stood at Allison’s desk and first saw the picture of an absolutely gorgeous little eight-month old brown-eyed girl with super-long eyelashes and the cutest lips EVER puckering up and blowing a kiss to the camera.

She has some spunk, that one.  😉

(we can’t show you her “smoochy” face until we pass court, but just look at that adorable bald head!)

We then learned that our sweet baby girl’s name means “the second one” in Amharic, which has significance I’m sure to her birth family (I hope we’ll find out as we go through the process) but also to us… it was as if God directly spoke to us when we read those words, telling us that THIS one, the “second one”, was ours.  That all the waiting was necessary, because she hadn’t yet been born when we thought we were about to be matched back in March 2011.  That His timing was perfect.  That THIS child would need OUR family.  That we would need her just as much, right now.

That He was worthy of our trust and our praise.   Always had been… always would be.

Adoption is rife with a strange mix of joy and pain, of beauty alongside ashes, of both broken and fulfilled dreams.  We already have felt some of the sobriety of this day and of the past months, both for our family and for another family halfway around the world.  More to come on that.  For now… as we move forward, we ask that you join us in prayer for little Miss D, for her birth family, and for all of us as we enter yet another stage of the wait.

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Both my newly-minted five-year old and three-year old decided what they wanted most for their birthdays was to ride a horse.

(as a life-long horse lover, I can honestly say this momma was purty durn proud)

So yesterday, we took a drive about 20 minutes south to Kids and Horses, an organization our neighbors and friends have used for years for riding lessons, where Annie and Bode (and Jonah, even though it wasn’t his birthday!) had the opportunity to ride a bit.

Annie was first, and she had absolutely no fear.  She was in her element from the beginning, smiling from ear to ear and loving every minute.  Even Darla, the lovely woman in charge, noted how naturally she sat in the saddle… like she was born to be there.

Bode was up next, and was surprisingly the most cautious of the three… but he warmed up pretty quickly.  He is still convinced that he first needs to learn how to be a mutton buster before he can work at becoming a horseman.  🙂

Jonah was last.  Normally quite reserved and hesitant in new situations, he didn’t react at all the way we thought he would.  He LOVED it:  the feel of being on the horse, the “bumpy” ride, the dirt, the sweat, the wind… all of it.  At the end of his ride, he wasn’t the only one smiling… Mommy was grinning big.

If anyone local is looking for riding lessons, I would highly recommend Darla and her group.  She was absolutely fabulous with the kids, taught them even in the short time we were there about the parts of the saddle and a few horsecare tips, and her horses are lovers.  Given how much our kiddos loved it — and the fact they’ve been talking about it nonstop ever since — we will definitely be back!

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Less than one day after my last post, I read this… from another momma who adopted from our same agency, and has since made the journey again.

My favorite part:

I have a Daddy who has made mission out of a heart-union, me to Him. He is so good that He allows disruption, distraction and delay (yes, even the kind that the enemy sends, because we know it is God who has the final say) to even the most stunning quest  – adoption — so that my heart would know hunger.

I was made to know Him, more, every day and in every life-delay. It’s here that I come alive, regardless of the external.

And my daughter, who talks more about her baby sister every day, left her high chair open for the first time… saying with certainty that it was “because Baby E is going to come home soon.  Baby E will sit in the high chair, and I will be a big girl.”

Thank you, Sara… and my sweet baby girl Annie.  Thank you, Father, for speaking truth and comfort through their words.

 

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My dear children…

Mommy hasn’t been paying much attention to you lately.

Yes, a lot of that has to do with the incessant coughing you hear from Mommy and Daddy’s bedroom at all hours of the night.  Little sleep means that Mommy has been exhausted for a couple of weeks now.

(Yep, I’m STILL sick.  Stupid cough.)

But you may also have noticed that the daylight hours aren’t much more interactive.  Mommy spends much of her time staring blankly at the computer, jumping six feet or so in the air every time the phone rings.

(Last week, the phone rang with a particular number more than once, causing shortness of breath and some involuntary muscle spasms — in other words, Mommy completely freaked out — until the voice on the other end wasn’t the one hoped for.  A bit of frustration ensued.)

My sweet babes, Mommy is pining.

A couple of weeks ago, we found out that we had moved to the top of our adoption agency’s wait list.  That any day could be THE DAY when we discover the name and first see the face of the next daughter and sister who is to join our family.

Since then, the boys have been prohibited from even touching Mommy’s phone.  “Angry Birds”?  No way.  Totally off-limits until we get THE call.

Mommy is jittery.  Distracted.  Even when not medicated, still often swinging wildly between hope and despair. Bringing more animals into the fold (most recently a rabbit) to keep from going insane.

It’s not pretty.

My dear children, Mommy loves you more than words can say.  And because she loves ALL of you — including the one she doesn’t yet know — this craziness will likely continue until she can wrap her arms around each and every one of you all at the same time.

Something about the way God put together a mommy’s heart makes it unable to work properly unless it has all of its parts.  And each of you holds a piece of your Mommy’s heart.  YOU are what makes it beat, what makes it strong.

And when one of you is missing, Mommy’s heart doesn’t work right.

My precious ones, pray… and hope… and trust with me that this time will pass quickly.  That the phone will ring.  That her image will appear on that computer screen.  That we will book tickets and gather donations and travel and come back and travel again.  That she will finally come home as a new daughter and a new sister.

That Mommy’s heart will be whole again.

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Yes, we’re still waiting for our referral.

18 1/2 months waiting.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of sitting around feeling angry, or sad, or self-pitying.  I’m ready to DO something.

In lieu of jumping on a plane to Ethiopia (which, by the way, I would love to do, but I wouldn’t know who I was trying to find), our family has decided to spend the Lenten season focusing on understanding maybe just a little more the way people in Ethiopia live on a daily basis.  What dominates their minds each day?  How must they work?  What do they eat?  How does “family life” look different there?  How is it similar?  Why, exactly, are there such struggles there?  Where is prayer most needed?

In other words…

Where can we best invest our time and resources to bring about redemption in a broken world?

So, for the next 40 days — during all of Lent — we are going to try to put our hearts, minds, money, and mouths where are thoughts are: with our daughter in Ethiopia.  We not only will spend time in focused prayer for her and for her country, but will seek out ways to experience life as it is lived halfway around the world.

My husband and I have been encouraged to participate in this 40-day effort by articles challenging our “love” relationship with food and videos focusing on raising “giving” children (and, accordingly, increasing our own generosity), along with a growing spiritual conviction in our own hearts against excess.

Here’s what Lent will look like for us.  We have three small children, so we have adjusted a bit what we otherwise would have done without kiddos involved in the process:

1.  We will daily read of the needs in Ethiopia in Operation World, praying for a specific need each of the 40 days

2.  Twice each week, we will eat a “typical” Ethiopian meal (usually rice and beans with injera)

3.  We will, overall, limit our meal variety… learning to recognize that a “different meal every night” is a Western luxury to which not many in the rest of the world relate

4.  We will read books on African life, visit an Ethiopian market, and generally try to learn as much as we can about our daughter’s native country

5.  As a family, we will research and decide how best to invest certain resources to benefit Ethiopian families

Our Lenten fast may seem radical to some, and to others it may not go far enough.  But it brings us as close to our daughter as we can be right now, and hopefully will bring our family even closer as God brings spiritual fruit to these hard days of continual waiting.

If you are a member of our family, a friend, or even someone who happened by the blog this morning, I want to invite you to join us for the next forty days.  Please pray for our daughter.  Pray she doesn’t have to spend one more day than is necessary in an orphanage, without her family.  Pray earnestly for peace and prosperity in Ethiopia.  And spend some time praying that God would open your eyes to how you can make some small difference… both here at home and around the world.

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