Thursday, August 7, 2014

The road to M and E

Saturday will mark four months since we were matched with our African babies.  (They aren’t really babies, but that’s what I like to call them.)  Four long months.   Four months ago I was wondering, praying and worrying about having a transracial family and what issues that would bring.  I was concerned about Parker and Abigail, and how they would handle having a house full of kids.  I was concerned about the health of our adoptive children.  I still think about those things, but it’s different now.

Every day I check my email over and over and over again hoping for a new picture of the kids.  I stare at their faces, analyze every bit of what I see.  Did their teeth change?  Do they look taller?  Is that the right kid?  (No joke, sometimes it doesn’t look like them.)  I think he grew.  I think she’s losing weight.  She looks happy.  He looks mad.  It goes on and on and on. 

We are members of a private Facebook page that is made of up families adopting from our orphanage.  I check the page every single day.  (Maybe every hour, but that would be crazy, right?)  This page is like gold.  Pure gold.  Whenever a parent or someone visits the orphanage we get pictures and sometimes videos!  Videos!  Did you read that?!  The videos show life.  I see my boy dancing, my little girl being sassy.  I watch them over and over again. I laugh and I cry. It is so so good.  But, it is so so hard.   My heart is full. 

The first pictures we received of the kids were taken in January.  They have grown up a lot since then.  Our boy has lost a few teeth and our little girl doesn’t look like a toddler anymore.  I realize the years that we’ve lost and will never have.  I don’t grieve anymore over the sacrifices our family is making, I grieve over the lost years of M and E.

We are now going through the court process in Congo.  Our lawyer is compiling everything he needs to take our case to the judge.  We hope that in the next couple months we will be declared their official guardians by the Congolese government.  Unfortunately the road is still long after that happens.  We don’t know what the timing will be.  But, it will be several more months. 

One fun thing is that we had to name our kids to go through court.  We are keeping their first names and giving them family middle names.  I can’t wait to introduce you to M. Jo Glidewell and E. James Glidewell! 

It has been truly a miracle to see how God has put all of this together.  There’s no other way to explain all that has happened.  We started this process to adopt one child.  We changed it to two not knowing how we would be able to do it.  Our estimated cost of adopting two is $61,000.  Yep.  You read it.  I’m going to be really vulnerable here…. 

We had $25,000 in savings when we started.  God has put a few amazing people in our path that have given us about $8,000 towards the adoption without us even asking.  Our savings account is now almost completely empty.  The bank called about it.  Hahaha! Yep.  We’re broke.   But, in the last four months we have put $42,000 towards the adoption.  Do the math.  It doesn’t add up.  Somewhere, somehow, God has multiplied our money.  We are financially broke, but richer than we’ve ever been before.  Our bank is empty, but our hearts are full and free. 

We’ve also had two amazing organizations step in to offer help.  There is a group in Atlanta called Promise686 (  They have a huge heart for adoption, foster care and removing the roadblocks that keep people from caring for orphans.  They have given us a $3,000 matching grant.  That means that they will match up to $3,000 of money donated to us.  Promise686 is a tax exempt 501c3 organization and your gift is tax deductible.  Also, 100% of all funds raised will go directly to cover our adoption costs; nothing will be taken out for administrative costs.*

Please do not feel pressure to give financially!  We will still love you!  But, if you want to contribute, you can donate online by going HERE

We also have a friend who helps run the adoption fund at Johnson Ferry Baptist.  They have given us a $4,000 interest free loan.  It’s really cool!  If we get to the point where we need money to finish this and we don’t have it, we can borrow up to $4,000 without having to pay interest.  Yay!

This summer has been short and long.  We’ve missed our annual beach trip and road trips.  We’ve missed the camps, a few nice dinners and other activities that normally fill our days and…cost us money.  But, all of that pales in comparison to the road we are traveling… the road to our forever family.  

*Note:  per IRS guidelines, promise686 maintains complete discretion and control over the use of all donated funds, but intends to honor the donor’s suggested use.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Update on us and the siblings!

How are we doing?
We are actually doing really well!  It feels so much better to have everyone around me know what is going on.  I am not a hider and I hate secrets.  It's refreshing for others to be a part of this with us.  And, I feel like we have an army standing behind us and supporting us through this.

There are days when it is scary and almost seems like too much.  I am reminded almost daily that I am treading into the deepest waters I've ever known.  I can't see the bottom.  I don't have a plan.  I feel like I've jumped off a big cruise ship and I am swimming and floating towards the unknown.  It's scary.  But, in all of this, I know my God.  I know that He is in the known and the unknown.

Then, there are days that I am really really excited!  I'm excited about getting to know these two kids and making them a part of our family.  I'm excited that Parker and Abigail will know a world where love is not easy, but hard work-- and worth it!  I'm excited about the adventure ahead of us.  I LOVE a good adventure!

The Siblings
I would say that our biggest need right now is regarding M and E's siblings.  We will call them "S" and "P".  We got word this week that our agency has not identified a family to adopt them.  We desperately need a family to adopt them.  I cannot imagine taking M and E out of the Congo and leaving their brothers behind.  So, will you pray for this?  Will you talk about it?  Tell our story.  Help us find them a forever family.  S is a 5 year old boy (maybe 6).  P is a 3 year old (maybe closer to 4).  They are both healthy and completely adorable.  The journey is hard, but oh so worth it.  I do know more and I do have pictures that I can share with someone who is truly interested.  Please help us find a family to partner with us in this.  That's a lot huh?!

And, of course, I'll sign off with a couple more heart covered pictures of our M and E.

Now What?

What's Next?
For the immediate now, we wait.  We are in the waiting, praying, hoping phase of adoption now.  We are currently waiting for the medical forms on E. Once we get those, we will have a couple weeks to get everything reviewed by a doctor.  After the doctor reviews the files, we sign the formal contract for M and E.

Once the contract, or referral is signed, we are in Congo hands.  That's the scary part.  We will have zero control over anything at that point.  The more we learn about Congo, the more we fall in love with the country.  But, the more we learn about Congo, the more we realize the "why" behind the 4 million orphans that live there.  It's a mess.  Adoption from there is a mess.

Our first step is to pass court in Congo.  This should take around 2 months.  Court is followed by a 30 day period where any family member can come forward and claim the children.  After that 30 day period, the kids are "legally ours."  I am super excited about when we will be their legal guardians because at that point the kids will be taken out of the orphanage and put into our agency's foster home.  In the foster home they are fed 3 meals a day!!  There is a nurse on staff, a social worker, and an English teacher all in the foster home.  Yay!!!

The second step is a formal investigation by the US Embassy in Kinshasa.  They will send an investigator to learn as much as they can about our children's stories.  They do this in order to verify that there is not any fraud in the adoption and that the children are legally orphans.  Although the 3-6 month waiting on this is long, we are really thankful that we will be able to go through with this adoption knowing that it is legit.

After the investigation we should, in theory, be able to go get our kids.  BUT, right now Congo is not letting children leave the country.  So, this is a big deal.  The official word from the gov't is that in September they will start issuing exit papers for children again.  We have no idea if that will really happen or not.  We are hopeful, but realistic at the same time.

Best case scenario, we could be traveling by December.  Worst case scenario, we could end up with 2 children in Congo who are not allowed to leave the country.  We hope and pray for the best!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Conference Call

Sorry to leave everyone hanging.  I'm trying to break this into pieces and it seemed like a good stopping point.

April 10 at 9:00 a.m. we had a conference call with our agency rep.  She began the call by telling us the story of the little boy and girl.  For now, I'll call the 2 year old girl "M" and the 4 year old boy "E".  On January 21 this year M and E were dropped off at an orphanage along with 2 other brothers.  There were four of them.  Four siblings left without a home.

Their story is a story of complete brokenness.  There's death, abandonment, and fear.  They have lived through more than I could ever imagine.  When I think of Parker and Abigail having to go through what they've been through I have a weight on me that I've never felt before.  There's so much sadness.  These are the words that I can't figure out how to type.  I don't know how to express what this all is.

Congo has a law that no more than 3 children can be adopted into one home.  So, our agency split the children into 2 groups of 2 in order to find them homes.  This was a big deal to us.  We strongly believe in keeping families together.  And the thought of separating the kids seemed almost unbearable to us.  How can we take them away from 2 siblings and replace them with 2 more?  It was tragic.  But there is no way around it.  These children are going to be split.

The more we talked and listened we knew that these children were special to us.  Not just M and E, but their brothers as well.  We realized that we are willing to be in the mess.  We are willing to join forces with another family in order to provide a home for these kids.  We are fighters.  We are capable and willing to track down another family, fight for the children to be in each other's lives and live in the chaos that it creates.  Not everyone can do that.  We know we can.

We had lots of questions and what ifs as we talked to our rep.  The more answers we got, the more questions we had.  We still have a lot of questions.  Some will be answered, and others will forever remain what ifs in our minds.  We'll seek to understand and we'll seek to know.  At the same time we are seeking to accept the known and the unknown alike.

We said "yes" to M and E.  We haven't signed the referral, or contract, yet.  That should come in the next week or so.  We are choosing not to share their story of how they became orphans right now.  I'm not sure when we will  or if we will leave that as their story to tell one day.  I'm thinking it'll be the latter.

We cannot post their pictures or names until they are legally ours. But I'll post the following with their faces covered for a sneak preview for you to see.

For me, I thought that we would feel this sense of "heaven meets earth" when we saw the pictures of our kids and knew that they were to be ours.  But, honestly, I didn't feel much heaven.  It's heavy.  It's sad, more sadness than I realized I could bear.  I'm not a crier and I'm not usually emotional, but the ugly cry shows up daily around here.  There's a lot more brokenness, a lot more sadness, and a lot more weight on this road that we are walking.  But, yet, we choose to walk towards it.  In fact, we choose to run.  I long for the day that M and E know that hope is real, that God loves them and made them special, and that a full life is ahead of them.  I long for that day.

Just this morning we realized that it was January 21 when Eric and I sat on our couch and decided the time was right to adopt.  The same day that 4 precious children were dropped off at an orphanage in Congo.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Call

So much has happened in the past few weeks.  I haven't written about it because there were some things we needed to figure out, and, honestly, I didn't know what to write.  I'm not a great writer.  I definitely cannot put words to all that has happened or all that we feel.  But, I will try.  I'm going to write piece by piece all that has happened in the last month.  Here's the first slice.

On April 9th we received "The Call."  This call is what most adoptive parents wait months for.  They freak out when the phone rings and can barely hold themselves together.  For me, I compare it to the feeling that I have when Parker gets a good hit in baseball.  What?!  Oh my gosh!  Yay!  Run!!!!  (Nice huh.)

At the end of March we had spoken to our amazing case worker and officially requested "brother sister siblings ages 0-3."  There you have it.  Very specific.  We were actually okay with a child age 4, but we have heard that people cheat the ages of the kids in Congo.  So, if we wanted a 4 year old, say, "age 3" and the kid will actually be 4.  (Oh yeah, this is about as much sense as all of this makes.)  Anyways, that was our request.  We were told that our request was really specific and that we might want to change it to a broader request if 6 months go by and we still aren't matched.  Of course, we were open to something else, but everything has been just falling into our laps until this point... so, why not ask for what we truly desire.

Two weeks later we got the call.

I was in the shower.  Of course.  And, for some reason, I stepped out of the shower to answer the phone.  First our agency rep asked questions to fully understand what we were looking for in adoptive children.  I thought she was just being nice.  Then, to my surprise, she said, "I have siblings.  It's a 4 year old boy and a 2 year old girl."

What?!  Excuse me?  Wait.  What?!

I held my cool and asked some calm business-like questions.

There was a little girl on our agency website that had caught my attention.  I had shown her picture to my mom and to Eric.  Her little face had captured my heart.  But, the circumstances around her seemed impossible for her to be a part of our family.  Because of this phone call and the craziness of the situation, I asked about the little girl.  I wanted to know who she was and if someone was adopting her.

After making sure our agent knew who I was referring to, she said to me, "This is the little girl that I've call you about.  She is the 2 year old sister."  At that point I almost lost it.

Again, I held my cool and asked some calm business-like questions.  But, in my heart, I was thinking, "Wait.  What?!  Really.  What?!  Oh my gosh."

The rep told me to talk to Eric about it and let her know if we were interested.  I called Eric at work.  He couldn't answer or talk.  Of course, right?

I was the front office volunteer at school that day.  I was worthless.  I owe the office ladies big time!

After talking to Eric we decided that we were interested and set up a conference call for the next morning.

(more to come.......)

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Vision changes the world

As we walk through this adoption process I am haunted by the reality that adopting two children is not going to help Congo as a whole.  That's not why we are adopting.  But, the more we learn, and we've been devoted students, we know that we have to try to help in some way.  Congo is an amazing country with so much potential.  However, Congo is broken.  The brokenness is not really even their own doing.  The history of what has happened to that country is appalling.  I don't believe it is going to be fixed by us Americans.  I believe it is going to take someone with a big Congolese heart from that country to make changes.

I saw this video today and it sparked something in me.  It reminded me of the beginning of Martin Luther King Jr's speech "I have a dream..."  That phrase alone holds so much potential... so much power.  Vision changes the world.  Without vision people suffer.  It's not just the big dreams, it's the little ones too.  This video shows teenage girls who have never thought about what they wanted to be when they grow up.  They didn't even know that thought was possible.

Let's dream.  Dream Big!  Let's teach our children to dream.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Siblings and a Garage Sale

I haven't written on the blog in awhile.  There has been so much going on.  So much that I either can't write about or just don't have the words to.

I guess the first update is that we officially requested 2 children.   Three weeks ago we spoke to our case worker at our adoption agency and officially requested "boy/girl siblings ages 0-3."  We were told that it's a pretty specific request and we need to be prepared to wait awhile or make it a little broader.  For now, we wait.  After all, everything else has been thrown in our laps in this process... why not go for what we truly desire, right?

The other thing that a lot of people don't know about is that Congo is not letting children out of the country right now.  You may have seen news stories about it.  It's heartbreaking.  Children are being taken through the entire court process, being given legal custody to their adoptive families, but then denied exit from the country.  This has been going on since last Fall.  The Congolese government has said that they will continue this until September.  We are praying for big things with this.

We are praying that Congo will start issuing exit letters before September so that these precious children can get home.  I would love for y'all to join us in praying for this.  Right now we are watching families weep over not being able to get their kids.  For some reason we are still drawn forward in this process.  We aren't moving forwards blindly.

We have started the fundraising portion of adoption.  Good grief.  The expenses for adopting are outrageous.  It's humbling for us to start fundraising.  We started this whole process with an idea in mind that we could pay out of pocket for the whole thing.  We could've figured that out with adopting 1 child.  But, now that we are adopting two...  Well, it's a lot.

We were blown away last week with the number of friends and family who helped us with our first garage sale.  I've counted 19 families who helped us by donating items, folding tables, or helped us set up and sell.  We raised almost $1900 for the adoption.  Holy cow!

Then, in the middle of the garage sale, I got an email from our agency letting us know that a friend had sent in a check for $2,000!  What?!  Needless to say, there have been a few tears shed over here.  We feel honored that people care.  We feel like we have a small army behind us on this whole journey.  We know we aren't going at it alone.