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.