Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Past is not Our Future

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Let's all give our glory and thanks to the One and only who has given us more than we could ever deserve or ask for. Even in the pit of brokenness and emptiness The Lord continues to provide, it's just us who have to reach out to Him. He is all we need and will never leave us!

Continuing our story...
Once we committed to Waylon and Elva, I just love getting to say their names, we were anxious to get to meet them. However, as most of this adoption process had gone there was still a lot of waiting to be done. Again we called on our Heavenly Father to be near to us as we began a new kind of battle of emotions. Joy is the closest thing I can describe to what we were exploding with for the prospect of our family coming together. And then of course the enemy liked to throw in a little but of terror, fear, insecurity, and doubt. I have been told by many of my mothering friends that even when you become pregnant with your biological children that these are common emotions. So we fought through them and kept our eyes on the Joy, His Joy. Again, there is no way we would be in this amazing position without the touch and powerful move of God. I humbly admit my failures and lesser than holy moments of struggle with the whole pregnancy issue but God wanted to take us to this new place and open up our hearts to such a love we had never considered.  No I don't think adoption is for everyone and that's hard to say just knowing how many kids there are in the foster care system (and there is always more than enough waiting parents for newborns) but the kids that get pushed to the side and remain in foster care need a home.  A real home. But not everyone is called or cut out to be that family which is where the American church needs to step in and those families help support the foster system and connecting families that are called to adopt to those orphans. All that to say, this is no light matter. Adoption is hard. Adoption will test you physically emotionally and even mentally (are we sane to do what we are doing?), but it will also test your marriage and the strength of your closest relationships. It will test your faith and I honestly don't see how anyone without a strong faith (be that one that is growing in Christ, not my strength but His) can pursue this life.

These are the sacrifices and tests we are willing to endure... Bc Christ has given us the ability.

So in order to see the kids and begin the process of having them come into our lives forever we had to get the file. Every child in foster care will have a file. It's got their entire life history in there and it's a requirement for this type of program for you to see before you are given the next green light. What was frustrating for us after seeing their picture and laying down our lives to The Lord in commitment to them, was we had to wait several weeks to get the file. Talk about driving me crazy up the wall! Again I think I bugged HollyAnn relentlessly if she knew when they were sending us the file. After most of October, we finally got the news that the file was in route to our house. Woohoo!

The funny thing is that none of our family knew at this time that we had selected our kids so when the file came to our house and our little bro was playing with Sadie I kind of laughed bc we had to wait till he left to open it up. October 17th was the date, the cd was final in our grasp, the file that would tell us everything about their history, everything about why they had been taken from their family, and everything since then. I popped the CD in my computer... The whizzing started. 5 minutes later the file popped up. 980 pages of a PDF file.

980 pages.

It was 8 o'clock when I started reading and reading and reading, started crying, read some more, would stop to catch up Robert (I read faster), blow my nose here, read some more, went through emotions from anger to sadness to relief to despair and back again, kept reading, 10 pm, 11 pm, 12 am, kept reading, I felt like I was covering the most important textbook ever given to me in one night, nothing would have kept me from finishing every single page. I didn't want to miss one thing, I was essentially reading my kids life story instead of getting to see it firsthand. I even get emotional writing this bc I know that there is 6 and 8 years of their life that I will never get back. Every medical record, CPS file, police report, doctors visit, everything was in that file. I finally finished it at 1 am. All I could do was sigh and pray. God, this is their past. This is what they have lived through. All these years we can't get back, but how I thank you for taking them from this and allowing them to be redeemed. Their past is not our future, God.  We have new life in you as Born again Christians, how much more will these children have a new life by coming into our home. God we are scared but so are they. Give us all the direction and the peace in your name, Amen. 

The details that were in the file will remain there, for they are not important anymore. Yes there will come a day that we may have to show it to them, but I pray God will wipe all the memories away. I praise The Lord for keeping them safe. They are healthy, smart (maybe too smart), creative, and playful children, but they are also broken, damaged, and hurt. The emotions and blueprints from their past don't disappear in a day so we know that there will be tough days and good days and necessary help from outside sources but it's all worth it. I will say that our children, praise The Lord, were never exposed to physical abuse as far as we can tell, but other abuses have tainted their little souls until God can provide them full healing which I know will come one day.
It all will be ok, one day.
They will be part of our family, one day.
And one day, they will trust The Lord with their lives. That will be the best day.

Thank you for everyone's support. We are truly blown away and overwhelmed as things are now moving faster than ever. Through His graces we will bring these kids home soon.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is Gods will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
This by the way is mine and Roberts favorite verse :)

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Day that Changed Our Lives

There are no words for how scary and exquisitely excited I am to write this post. I know you want to skip down to the bottom to catch the BIG NEWS but please read everything first.

God is wonderful. His timing is perfect. His love reaches beyond our wildest imaginations and beyond the depths of the deepest ocean. It is through that love that He has led us to this amazing point in our lives...

On September 26th I was having a tough day with the whole waiting thing. I was getting extra anxious that we weren't getting any profiles or any names or any steps in any direction for this adoption. I just wanted to crawl into a hole and scream. I prayed hard and shed many tears asking God for another sign, another confirmation (aren't we silly humans, as if He hadn't already confirmed enough for me), that we were doing everything we needed to, that we were going in the right direction. As I was battling my emotions and my faith, I finally came to the end of my rope and surrendered everything to God... Then He answered me (again).
I received two phone calls that night from two different friends that just out of the blue wanted to call and offer encouragement in the adoption process. Thank you God for your presence when we need it most! My anxiety and my jittery heart was instantly calmed from talking to these two women. I began to tell myself that I most likely wasn't going to meet my children this year and that I should just relax and continue to focus on prayer. Little did I know!

September 27th (Friday)
We received The Call that changed our lives. HollyAnn said she had a profile of a boy and a girl, a little on the older side of what we were asking for, and she wanted to know if we were interested.
Ummmm, yes.
I was at work when I got the call, I began to pray and pray, God what if this is it? God we asked you from the beginning to not have to make us say no, but to give us that certainty feeling when we were presented with the right profile. Well, after I got off work I just couldn't help smiling. I called Robert and asked what he thought. All we had were two names, two ages, and a small blurb on their past. Robert and I both felt strongly that this was worth pursuing, that we were feeling enough of a tug to dive deeper into these children's lives and pray for the possibility of a future.

That afternoon, we had the privilege of seeing the first pictures of our son and daughter. We also had to go through the painstaking details of their past and reading the reason for why they were properties of the state in foster care in the first place. While there are so many things that these precious little ones have had to endure, the details are not important because God has led them to our doorstep and we have nothing but the future ahead of us. We took the weekend to pray, consulting some of our most trusted prayer partners, and on Sunday evening, we committed to the children. We knew we were signing up for the love and safety and security of these precious beings but also for the tears, the fears, and the pain from helping them overcome their past and accept the life and future ahead of them. But no matter the risks and no matter the uncertainties, we were ready to jump head first into their hearts, into God's arms.

I am delighted to take you now on a new journey with us... the journey to and through our parenthood.

So without further ado, I proudly announce that we are adopting a little girl, Elva age 6, and her adorable brother, Waylon age 8.

Pictures say a thousand words, but we arent ready to release their picture on the internet just yet. There are alot of fears with adoption and we want to keep these kids safe for the time being until they are officially ours. The plan is, we will have them before Christmas. Then they stay with us as our unofficial children for 6 months and then we can officially adopt them. This will be a fun and trying time for us, but our hearts are open and ready, what more could we ask for :)

If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
1Corinthians 13:3-4

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sometimes We are Called to Wait

Following our adoptive training in April/May, we were pleased to finally be able announce to our family and friends about the adoption. After we surprised our family, we knew we had to tell our "other" children asap... the youth group. They mean so much to us that it was important for us to include them in being some of the first to know. We wanted them to know that we weren't going to abandon them for our new children, but that we wanted their help and their support as they will be like big brothers and sisters to our kiddos. They were excited to say the least... and they requested we get Mexican kids... will keep that in mind :)

So the word was now out and I felt like I was stripping away my soul for the world to stare at nakedly. Of course I was expecting the obvious questions to come creeping back in... can you not get pregnant? Have ya'll been tested? What if you do get pregnant? I bet you will get pregnant after you adopt... bla bla all that. And you already know my stance on those questions and comments... I dislike them heavily. Adoption is a calling, not a form of fertility treatment. and Adoption does not mean that someone failed at pregnancy. But I gritted my teeth and answered them with as much grace as I could bc I knew that somehow through this process God was going to get the glory and I certainly didn't want the focus to be on myself. And I will state it again as it is the most important thing to remember through this journey... My life is nothing without Christ and the path He has chosen to lead us down is the path we never want to stray from, no matter the good, the bad, the hard, the joys, the tears, the pain, God has made a way and it is through HIS strength that we follow His lead in our lives.

Ok now thats cleared up... to continue:
It was a very joyous and nervous time for us to share our news with the world. As we answered questions and told the same story over and over again I just prayed that people would see that God was working in our lives. We were told that we were now just waiting for paperwork to finalize (our Home Study which turned out to be a 15 page report on our lives and family) and then to find the right profile. When I say profile I mean the small blurb of detail about a child or group of children that you have to decide if you want to pursue them or not. In May to June we received only 2 profiles, one of a sibling group of three kids and one of a sibling group of two. Each profile carried something that just didn't seem right for us. I never thought saying no to a picture and some names would be so hard, like I was throwing these kids in the garbage. Knowing that each little smile was looking for a family, but also knowing that I wasn't right for them. It was a tough emotion to swallow.

It was then, after spending much time in prayer and saying no to those two profiles that I decided that this was going to be the hardest thing we have ever faced in our young lives. I prayed a very specific prayer to God, and one that I know He will honor. I asked Him to spare us from having to reject and turn down any amount of children (bc lets face it, they aren't profiles but actual children's lives) and that when we opened the right profile that we would know without a shadow of a doubt that we were to pursue these kids. Essentially I was asking him to not give us any profiles except The ONE that He knew was waiting for us. Oh how sometimes God gives us our prayers directly as a blessing, but also as a curse.

I can't say that I'm much of a good wait-er but I was about to find out just how much of a wait-er I was going to have to be. Just as I had the previous year anxiously watched for signs that I was pregnant, I began to watch for the number on my email to change in hopes that one of those emails was a profile. And each time it wasn't, I was so disappointed and sad. I knew God had the perfect timing in His mind, but I also knew that all we needed was that profile and things would change. Poor HollyAnn... she was patient with us... ok with me, as I often texted her "anything new? any word?" countless times, to which she would reply "not yet, this is just how adoption goes sometimes". Grrr. Waiting is not fun. Like a kid waiting for their birthday party to start or for Christmas or candy or something, I have found that I am not good at being still and just waiting.

So many questions, God. How long will we have to wait? How long till we know what their faces look like, what their names are, what they like, dislike, what makes them unique, what does their laugh sound like, what makes them smile, what are the color of their eyes, how tall are they, what do they dream about, what are their favorite things, what foods do they eat, where have they been, when can we bring them home?
Wait. God calls us sometimes to Wait. Good thing is, He is walking through the wait with us.

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven...a time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 and 4

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Prayerfully Consider...

I know it has been awhile and I hate that it has, but when you are tired and working on many projects you just have to put somethings aside for awhile... that being said I haven't gone anywhere :)

Last time I talked about how we committed to the Waiting Child program through our adoption agency, Addy's Hope. The next thing to do was to fill out the application. Now I'm putting this in here because again this my healing, releasing the emotions that went along with this process. Essentially filling out this application was the same equivalent to taking a pregnancy test... it was our beginning. The only difference is, when you find out your pregnant you don't get to pick and choose the ingredients for your child. They are part of the combination of genetics between the man and woman... in our case, however, we had a lot of things to consider. After you fill out your name, address, bla bla all that... you come to a section that for our agency said "Prayerfully consider any diagnosis and disabilities that you would accept in your home." Wow. Prayerfully consider... the list was quite large.

So pray we did.

And let me just say, I work as a physical therapist for children and adults of all ages (from birth to 90+)... and I have seen just about every diagnosis and disability that was listed on that page. It was extremely a struggle for me to pick and choose what I wanted, or more so what God wanted in our children. I had the opportunity to do what most parents only hope and pray for... choose the characteristics of a healthy child. Normal parents don't get a say if their child is missing a limb, is bling, deaf, or has developmental delays... but here on this paper we had a choice. I will say that God helped us fill out that page and we prayed over each item specifically. In the end the check marks were done and we moved to the rest of the application... (telling about our family which was easy to do so I won't go on about that).

After turning in our application, it seemed like everything went suddenly so fast. April is much of a blur to me as we began the next phase in our process... TRAINING.
Amidst acquiring all necessary documents and paperwork (yes there is a lot more than just an application), we began training to become adoptive parents. Robert and I with Holly Ann and another couple spent over 30 hours together reviewing the bad, the worst, and the even worse situations that our potential kids could have, most likely did, and definitely experienced from birth to whatever age they come to us. There were a few tears, several awkward moments, and lots of highs in our emotions. This training helped us to see past just a child who may throw a fit or steal or hide or run away... it helped us see the hurt they had gone through and the mindset behind the behavior. I wish every parent could go through this bc if I was having a baby I would feel more ready to understand my child and a little more in the know.
This training covered various levels of abuse, feelings and emotions regarding the abuser and the abused, typical behavior patterns, what not to do and what you need to do, and opening up a world of resources for us to pursue. I feel that this training helped me understand my patients at work better and I now have a different mindset when they get upset or throw a fit depending on their lifestyle circumstances.

30 hours of training... we squeezed it into every spare few hours we had...after work, on the weekends between events, you name it we were training fools. And I appreciate Holly Ann for being so willing to accommodate our schedules but to also not drag out the training over months and months bc after the training we had a lot more things waiting for us and we needed to have our time invested in those things while our hearts were so invested in the adoption.

The technicalities were pretty much over with after the training. We had to have a home study as required by all adopting and foster parents but with Holly Ann it was quite fun having her ask use questions about our marriage, family, our relationship with each other, with other kids, our church, and so on. So we were ready to start looking for our kids... to start seeing faces and reading stories and preparing our home for their arrival... but God had a few more lessons for us to learn first. A lesson in Waiting.

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit.