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.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Refining Process

I keep telling my husband that this whole adoption process is so refining.  It forces me to look deep within myself.

I got my first "Oh!  So you want to adopt athletes?"  What?!  Seriously.  No.  I am not adopting black children in order to get athletes.

I also got "Oh you definitely don't want to adopt a 4 year old.  Character is already set by 4.  There's nothing you will be able to do and they will be completely damaged."  Thank God the majority of us did not grow up with people who believed that we could never change or grow after the age of 4!

Yesterday we visited a friend's church.  The church is led by two amazing African American families, one of whom happens to be really good friends of ours.  The crowd was made up of African American families and one white family who had adopted black children.  I didn't think much about it.  But, at some point during the music, I looked down at Abigail.  She looked like she was about to cry.  She was just looking from person to person.  I picked her up and she rested her head on my shoulder the rest of the time.  After the music she willingly and hesitantly went with the other children to another room.

I couldn't help but watch my daughter.  She is a very confident, independent and secure child, but she was unsure.  She was a little scared.  She was in a new place that was full of people who looked different than her.

I felt like my heart was being ripped out of me as I thought about the little boy or girl that we will bring home.  They won't just be in one room of people that look different than them.  They will be in a whole community of that.  They will be in a family that looks different.  They will be terrified.

(Abigail quickly forgot about all of it and made new friends.  In fact, both of my children said they loved the church and want to go back.)

Then, last night we watched a video that our social worker had given to us.  The video interviewed adults who were not white but had been adopted into white families when they were children.  I'm learning more and more that our entire family is going to have to have an identity adjustment.  I can't expect my black kids to think they are white or even want to be.  And, I can't ignore the issues that they are going to face one day because of it.  On top of that, Parker and Abigail are going to have to embrace Africa as a part of their upbringing as well.  Their identity is going to totally change too.

I wonder if my adopted son will have the cops called on him because he's walking through our neighborhood one day.  Or, will my adopted daughter's heart get broken when she's in middle school and can't use the same beauty products as her friends.  I wonder how long it will take before Abigail gets tired of her friends not believing that her little brother or sister really is her little brother or sister.

Just like Abigail stared at people in the church we visited, I too, stare at people's blogs who have mixed families.  I stare.  I look at their facebook pages and wonder and think.  Lots and lots of thinking.

I think I'm actually mourning the loss of our identity as a family.  Not mourning in a regretful sort of way, but mourning because we are walking into uncharted water.  Mourning because I'm not sure where we will fit in.  But, at the same time, I am compelled to keep moving forward.  I am compelled by a story of redemption and grace-  a story of love and adventure.  I have no idea what the next few years will bring, but I can't wait to look back on them one day and see the story that has been written.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Baseball and Butterflies

I'm learning a lot about myself during this whole adoption process.  We've had to write autobiographies, answer worksheets on parenting children of another race, fill out forms on cross-cultural parenting, and go through several interviews.  And, all of that is just the start.

Yesterday we had our individual appointments with our social worker.  She asked me what values I want to teach my children.  I told her that the most important thing I can teach my children is to love God and love others.  Most of life's problems can be summed up with those two things or a lack there of.

But then she asked me what small values I want to teach them.  Through this process I've realized how much I value independence.  I reward my kids when they are independent.  I reward them when they allow me to be independent.  I don't know if that's good or bad.  I'm sure it's both, depending on the situation.  The interesting thing, and slightly scary thing, (okay, honestly really scary thing) is that when we first bring home a child from Congo I am going to have to teach that child to be dependent--completely dependent on me.  This freaks me out!  I don't know how to do that.

One thing I've learned that I don't value, but need to value, is my children's uniqueness.  They are unique, and that is good.  I get so caught up in the "mom race."  You know, the "My kid plays 5 sports.  What does your kid do?" race.  So caught up!  I don't know why.

For instance, Parker is now playing baseball.  Baseball is like the Bible of East Cobb where we live.  Everyone plays baseball.  And, to top it off, he plays in a competitive league.  This is his first year ever playing baseball and he is playing with kids that have played for 8+ seasons.  Yep.  Needless to say, it's been rough.  Why can't I just sit back and enjoy that my quirky science loving kid is enjoying a sport?  Why do I feel like I have to explain to everyone that this is his first time playing.  Who cares right?  For some reason I care.  I hate that I care.  I don't want to care.  I want to be the parent that just enjoys my kid whether he gets a hit or not.

So that is my new mission in parenting.  I want to celebrate my kids for who they are- for the unique way God has made them individually.  I'm setting out to change my values, to change my way of thinking.

(This is a picture of the butterflies that the kids grew over the winter.  One of the many science projects we have going at our house right now.)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Check for the Right Amount

One of the biggest stressors with adopting is the money.  It is so expensive!  And, the hardest part about it is that the money is almost all due at the beginning.  You don't really get to spread out the expenses throughout the process.  Last month was a pricey month.  This month shouldn't be too bad, but April and May will be CRAZY.

This morning I added up how much money I thought we were going to need this month to cover our adoption expenses.  This month it's $1,103.  Not too bad, but a little painful knowing what's about to come.

When I got home today and picked up the mail I saw a letter from State Farm.  No lie... We got a check from them for $1,097!!  Only $6 difference from what we will owe!  We NEVER get money back.  Once again, these little bits of amazing keep happening.

A Congolese Role Model

One of the questions that we had to answer for our home study was, "Who do you know that can be a role model for your child from their native culture?"  When I read that question I had no idea what to write.  We knew of no one who was an adult from Congo.  I've met a few families that have adopted at this point, but not any adults.  So, I wrote for my answer that I didn't know anyone, but that we would try to get connected.

Another thing that you have to do for a home study is have a pretty in-depth physical.  My regular doctor couldn't get us in until August.  (This is one of the things that can really hold us up in the process.)  I called another practice in our area that got us in almost immediately.

Last week we went to see the new doctor.  I could hear Eric in the room next to me getting all excited about something.  (You know how you can always hear through the walls...)  The doctor came into my room and said, "I can't believe you are adopting from Congo.  You know my husband is from Congo." What?!  I could not believe it.  Just the night before I had filled out paperwork stating that I would try to find some adults from there.  And, there they were.

We chatted throughout the hour that we were there.  My doctor's husband actually works at Emory (seems to be really well known there) and also runs a non-profit to bring awareness to the situation in Congo.  He's not only a smart educated man from Congo, but he's doing something to help the situation over there.  Now that sounds like a role model.

Our new doctor was also amazing.  She finished up all of our paperwork, we already have it in hand!  And, hopefully, we've started a relationship that will one day greatly influence our children and our whole family.  I can't wait to see what happens next!

In the meantime, if you need a doctor please check out Dr. Pink (yes, that's her name.  I'm a little jealous.) at Laureate Medical Group.  And, if you want to learn more about the situation in Congo check out Congolese Genocide Awareness and get informed.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Little Bits of Amazing

There are moments in life when you know you are on the right path.  We've had lots of those moments in the past couple weeks.  I call them my "little bits of amazing."  I don't know why.  It just came out of my mouth one day.  I'll take a few posts to tell you about some little bits of amazing that we've been experiencing lately.

Last weekend we were eating dinner at Chili's.  Eric told me to turn around and look at the family behind us.  I turned around.  Holy freakin' cow!  There, at our neighborhood Chili's sat a family that consisted of 2 white parents, 2 white kids and 2 younger black kids.  What!?  I have never seen a transracial family in our neck of the woods. 

I had to do it.  I had to be that person.  I got up from our table and awkwardly approached the family.  I explained to them that we were adopting from Africa, that I noticed their family, and that I had no idea what to say but I wanted to say, "hi."  Classy, huh?! 

We chatted for awhile.  Turns out the family lives in MY neighborhood.  I was almost in tears at the thought that my adopted child could possibly have friends close by who understand what it's like to be in family that looks different than you.  I could not believe it. 

In our short 5 minute conversation we exchanged phone numbers and now we are meeting up this week at the park.  I even learned about a website called "Chocolate Hair, Vanilla Care" for white moms who are parenting black daughters.  So cool!

As this process gets tough, these little things are a constant reminder that we don't have to worry.  The whole thing is so big and can be confusing and hard, but I believe God is giving us these little things to let us know that He's got it.  As soon as I start to worry if my child will fit in, if he will feel like he belongs, if anyone will understand him or us, God gives me a little reminder...a family like us in our own neighborhood!  Yep! He's got this.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A simple prayer

I learn so much from my kids.  Abigail is one of those kids that doesn't get talked into anything.  She does not do anything she doesn't want to do.  This can be frustrating at times as a parent.  But, at the same time, I love love love this trait in her.  It will save her from a lot of heartache later in life.  I will always know that if she gets into trouble with a group of friends that it was her idea and that she was the ring leader of it all.

One thing with Abigail is that she does not want to pray.  I mean DOES NOT WANT TO.  At night when I put her to bed and ask her to pray she usually refuses.  One night she said, "Mom, why would I pray to a God that I can't even see.  It doesn't make sense."  For months, really even years now we have been trying to get her to pray.

I want her to learn to pray now so that when she is my age it comes easy to her.  I don't want it to be difficult for her to pour her heart out to God and be real in front of him.  After all, if He is the God we believe he is, He already knows her heart anyways right?!  I don't want her to feel like she has to hide before Him.

I was telling her about this and basically told her that she needed to pray and it was important to me.  I reminded her of when she prayed and asked God to heal her grandma, and how he answered that prayer.  I said, "I know it doesn't make much sense and we can't see God, but tomorrow I want you to pray to Him.  It doesn't have to be long, but I want you to start talking to Him."

The next night when it was her turn to pray she said, "Dear God, thank you for my family and thank you for making Grandma well.  Please help our child in Africa and please make her be a girl.  Amen."  She has no idea how profound she is.

I always loved the Psalms because the writer would be in a horrible situation crying out to God, defeated and feeling abandoned.  But, then, he would remember the things that God had done in the past.  Sometimes it seems like no one is there.  There's no one to talk to.  During those times, remember the past.  It may not be your past where you saw God work, but it was there somewhere, even if it was in someone else's past.

Now, every time she prays she thanks God for healing Grandma.  Sometimes that's all she prays.  My precious little girl is hanging on to the one thing she remembers God doing in her life.  In that hanging on, she's trusting that He will come through again.  And in that hanging on, she's reminding me of who God is.  He doesn't care that she doubts him.  He doesn't care that she doesn't want to pray.  He loves that she is coming before him honestly.  And, he's going to amaze her one day.  I love that.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Excited and Nervous

News of our adoption is spreading.  I'm sure facebook has something to do with that!  Over the past couple weeks I've run into a lot of people who have been really encouraging during this process.  Several people have told me that they think we are brave or they are proud of us.  It's such a strange thing to me.  I don't feel brave or feel like we're doing anything worth anyone being proud.  Maybe if we were opening an orphanage or teaching widows how to earn a living in Africa- that's something to be proud of.

For us, we are actually really scared.  And, honestly, I am an emotional mess.  I usually pride myself in being a "strong woman" who can do anything without being rattled.  Not so much here.  I am completely excited and nervous at the same time.  I have so much hope and so much sadness at the same time.  It's really hard to describe.

I am excited because I'm getting to do something big, something I've always wanted to do.  I have hope because I truly believe that this is the direction our family needs to head in and that when we follow God with everything, we will see things beyond our imagination.  I'm excited that my children, growing up in the south, will understand love without racial boundaries.  And I'm excited to grow our family!

I am sad- really really sad.  I'm sad that there is a mom and dad out there who will not get to experience the joy of parenting the child that I will call mine.  I'm sad because I wonder where our child (or children) is now.  Is he with his mom or dad?  Has tragedy already occurred in his life or is it about to?  Is he hungry?  Is he sleeping in a bed by himself tonight or sharing a bed with 10 others?  Is his mom holding him for what she knows will be the last time?  These thoughts and questions bring tears to my eyes and bring me to my knees every single day.

I'm nervous.  We pretty much have the perfect set up right now.  We are changing that.  I don't know if it'll be this easy for a long time.  In fact, I know it won't.  I wonder if I'll be better with the chaos of children this time around.  I'm grateful I won't have postpartum depression like I did with infants.  But, will we sleep when the children are at our house?  Will they have nightmares for years because of what they've seen?  Will attachment to us be easy or hard?  Will I still get to go out with my husband all the time, or will they need us at home more than our biological kids?

As you can read, my mind is racing.  I don't feel brave or proud.  But, despite all the questions, I do feel sure.  I am sure that we are traveling the path we were intended to travel.  I am sure that God has a bigger plan for us that what we could ever imagine on our own.  I have seen God heal the brokenhearted, calm the troubled, give strength to the weary and make beautiful things out of pain and suffering.  I am sure that God will do that in our future family.

My son prayed tonight at bedtime.  I love his prayer...

God, please help my brother or sister to know that even though they don't know us now, that we are coming for them and that they are going to have a family forever.  Please help them to not be hungry or sick or scared today.  Help them to have hope.  Help my mom and dad know whether or not to adopt 2 kids or just 1.  Amen.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


I guess you could say that the biggest decisions we are trying to make right now are:  Do we adopt one or two children this time? AND Do we specify a gender?

Just to let everyone know where we are in the process...  Yesterday we mailed off our contract to our adoption agency along with a check for the first round of agency fees.  We went ahead and mailed a check to adopt 2 children.  BUT, with that, we are allowed to change our minds up until the completion of our home study.  So, realistically we have a couple months before we have to decide for sure.

One or Two?  We don't know how to decide.  How do you make a decision when you have no previous experience in it, don't know anyone who's done it, and have zero guarantee that any of it will work out?  We have listed pros and cons and really have thought through almost every single scenario.  We don't know.  At some point we are going to have to just make the decision and go with it.  Just jump.

Boy or Girl?  75% of orphans in Africa are boys--at least that's what we've heard.  I think that in my mind I picture us with a boy.  But, then again, a girl would be great.  After all, Abigail is already studying hair to figure out how to fix her sister's.  Maybe I really picture us with both.  I do picture us with both....eventually.

Anyways... I love this picture of Parker and Abigail when we went to mail our contract.  I LOVE involving them in the process.  They bring a lot of fun to these decisions.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A family that doesn't match.

We have only just begun our adoption process and it's already been such an incredible experience.  One of my favorite parts of this process is the conversations that I get to have with my kids.  They are both taking in all of the information about adopting, Congo, etc.  Abigail, especially, talks about it every day and thinks about it constantly.

When we were first looking into Africa, Abigail expressed that she wanted to make sure that we adopted a girl with skin that was the same color as hers.  She was very serious about this- the gender and the skin color.  I was a little surprised because we (and she) have friends and family that are of many different racial backgrounds.

So, I decided to show her some pictures on the internet of some white families that we know who have adopted black children.  I showed her a picture of a family who has recently adopted 2 children from Congo.  She sat and stared at the photo for a long time.  After a few minutes she said, "Mom, I thought families had to match."  I explained to her that if I she had a brother or sister that came from my tummy that their skin would match ours.  But, that her brother or sister isn't going to come from my tummy so their skin doesn't have to match- our hearts would match even if our skin and hair don't.

She sat quietly for another minute.  Then looked at me with her big happy blue eyes and said, "Ok!  Then we need to start working on research for how to fix her hair because that's not going to match either.  But that's okay too because my hair doesn't match anyone else's hair in my class."  I love her heart!  She's now completely fine with whatever skin color.  I don't know what she will do if we end up adopting a boy though!

I love these moments....

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Starting the Adoption Process!

In 1994, when I was 17 years old, I went on my first mission trip to another country.  I remember thinking that I was going to go change peoples' lives.  I was in Romania for 7 days that summer.  Those seven days completely changed the trajectory of my life.  I doubt my week there changed the lives of any Romanians, but, it forever changed mine.

I came home from that trip, a broken teenager.  My worldview had been rocked, crushed, and simply destroyed.  I knew at that point that I was only an itsy bitsy teeny tiny part of something really really big.  I knew that if people truly were made in the image of the God who I grew up believing in, then my picture and idea of God had been too simple and too small.

That summer birthed in my heart a desire to learn about other people, other cultures, and other ways of living.  I desired to not only learn about them but to understand them- to be a part of them and for them to be a part of me.

I don't know if it was from visits to orphanages in Romania or just a taste of another part of the world, but I knew-- at 17 years old-- that if I ever could give up my independence and have a family--it would include international adoption.

Why Congo?  Honestly two months ago I didn't know much about DRC or Congo.  We started exploring international adoption.  Through talking to agencies, we started to learn about DRC.  We learned that, according to UNICEF, there are 5.5 million orphans in central Africa.  3 million of those are in the Democratic Republic of Congo.   They are in an orphan crisis.  

Basically, through this process, there have been doors opened and doors shut.  We are following the path where we are being led.  We are excited!  We are nervous!  We can't wait to see what our family looks like in a couple years.