Friday, February 9, 2018

5 years

This week we celebrated 5 years together. If someone had sat me down on February 6, 2013 and told me what the next 5 years had in store, I would've run for the hills and I definitely wouldn't have gotten on a plane to Colombia. It has been the hardest 5 years of my life. Actually "hard" doesn't even describe it. 

In my last post, almost a year ago, we were in the midst of a struggle with one of the girls. What I didn't know then (only 9 days in) was that it was only the beginning of one of the longest "cycles" we had ever endured with her. A cycle that led to her running away a month and a half later. We were stunned that, after everything we had been through - 4 years of walking the trenches with her and feeling as though we had made progress with her, she would revert all the way back to the beginning. We experienced all of the fear and humiliation that we experienced on the day she ran 4 years prior. It was rock bottom. The events of that day were ugly and painful and I cringe to even recall it. It cut deeper this time because this time we had a relationship with her. There were feelings of betrayal and distrust. It was easier to accept the first incident because she didn't know us, we were strangers. In the beginning she didn't know what trust was, let alone HOW to trust someone. But that was THEN, shouldn't it have been different NOW? The truth is, her past is like a deep scar that she carries with her. Sometimes, events and experiences re-open the wound and when that happens, it takes her right back to that place of pain all those years ago. 

To take this child into our home was to take her pain, too. Her pain has become our pain. And do you know what's beautiful about that? We can take it all... all of that big ol', deep, overwhelming pain to Jesus and as His love surrounds us, like the warmest hug you've ever felt, He absorbs it ALL. All of the fears, all of the tears, all of the wounds, all of the scars, ALL OF THE PAIN. 

You see, we had to feel the pain in order to experience His healing - we had to walk in darkness to appreciate the light. God purposed the pain to bring her to a place of peace. I am overjoyed to tell you that God is at work in her heart! We have seen a transformation before our very eyes. It was not magic and it was not over night, but it was and continues to be GRACE! By God's mercy and grace, she is being made new. The words to this song say it best - it has become one of my favorites, such a beautiful picture of what God is doing in her life and in the life of our family!

I was hopeless, I knew I was lost
Death and Darkness were my only songs
I needed someone to come rescue me
and mercy heard my plea

You gave me beauty for my guilty stains
and now I'm living day to day by His grace
so excuse me if I can't contain my praise
because I know that I've been saved

Lord, You found me
You healed me, You called me from the grave
You gave me Your real love, I thank you Jesus
You washed my sins away
and now I'm living like I'm forgiven
You came and set me free
that's what Your mercy did for me!

We ask that you join us in prayer for our girl - that God would continue to do a renewing work in her life that would lead to confession, repentance, and saving faith. I look forward to sharing what God continues to do in and through us as we walk this path called adoption.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

the Cycle

I am stunned to see that it has been 18 months since my last blog post. So much has happened in these 18 months, but I am sad to report that (for one of our girls) not much has changed. We have been on a roller coaster ride since day one with her and as much as we all want off the ride, we are locked into the track.
In this post, I will cover several of the things mentioned in the "Reactive Attachment Disorder" video, including:

    #5  Destructive to self, others, and material things
    #9  No impulse controls
    #10 Lack of conscience
    #11 Abnormal eating patterns
    #18 Triangulation of adults
    #19 False allegations of abuse
    #20 Creating chaos

Bringing these girls into our family was a choice that all 4 of us had to make. As willing as my husband and I were to take them, it wasn't enough. It was only after spending 2 weeks together, and the girls expressing their desire to join our family, that we were allowed to move forward with adoption. Admittedly, I knew within the first few days that it would be a hard road. In fact, I wanted to back out. (That's something I've never shared with anyone aside from my husband and parents) I say it now to point out that I have always been fearful that this wouldn't "work" and also to point out that the struggle began immediately. My husband and I have been emotionally battered and bruised the entire 4 years we have had the girls. I often wondered why she said "yes" and willingly came with us and I wonder every day if she would have fared better to stay behind. I feel sure that some adopted mother somewhere is reading this and saying to herself "I've thought the same." It is because every blessing she's been given feels like a curse to her, every gift - feels like a punishment. She is tortured and miserable and it is because of me. It is because I brought her to America and taught her to speak English when all she wanted was to live in her native country and speak her native language. It is because my skin is white and hers is brown. It is because she is supposed to call me "mom" but there is a real person out there who already is. Although all we wanted to do was help, I wonder if we have only made things worse for her. This is the ugly truth of our story. As ugly as it is, I hope this truth will be helpful to someone reading this today. Just remember, you are not alone and it is not your fault.

The brawling began while we were in country, over the simplest of things, like telling her not to call her sister "stupid" or asking why she wanted to buy a vegetable at the store only to tell us she didn't like it when we got home. The reactions were extreme and involved locking herself in her room and destroying things we had given her. We always kept ourselves locked in the apartment in Colombia because of her attempts to escape. We are convinced that if we hadn't been on the 3rd floor, she would've climbed out of the window. By God's grace we made the trip to the states without incident. Unfortunately, about 3 weeks after we got home, she had a total irrational meltdown in a public place. It was just the girls and me, Blaine was at work. She had received money from Blaine's parents for Easter and I took them to the Dollar Tree to spend it. I explained the concept of "X" amount of items = "X" amount of dollars and when I asked to see her basket to help her count the items, she became angry. We were able to pay for the items and leave the store. Foolishly, I thought I could buy groceries after that, so we went next door to Walmart. That's when she ran. I was alone in a crowded parking lot, I had no idea what to do. I was terrified that someone would take her. I literally had no idea in which direction she went and she spoke no English. Shortly after Blaine arrived a police officer told us he had received a call from someone who had found a young girl. When they brought her to us they began questioning us as if we were guilty of something. They didn't understand why she was "afraid" to come with us and were reluctant to hand her over. I cannot express to you the utter humiliation we experienced that day. Ultimately, Blaine explained everything to the officer and he and the other party left while we LITERALLY wrestled her into the car as she was screaming and crying. The next obstacle was getting her into the house once we got home. As soon as Blaine opened the car door, she darted down the street. When he ran after her she picked up a stick and said "don't you come any closer or I'll scream rape!" After much tackling and dragging, we FINALLY got her into the house. For 2 weeks, the only person to leave the house was Blaine. Every door and window remained locked until we were sure she wouldn't bolt.

What we know now, that we didn't know then, is that her behavior is on a cycle. We correct, she over-reacts (yelling, sometimes physically fighting), she becomes withdrawn and won't speak for days (sometimes weeks) at a time, she denies guilt, ultimately she "snaps" out of it - as if it never happened. In the beginning, the time between each cycle was short. As she has matured and we have worked with her, the time between each cycle has lengthened. We had recently made it almost a year without a significant meltdown, but our time of peace ended just over a week ago. What was meant to be a conversation about how she should treat her sister became WAR. She has not spoken to me in 9 days. Following the argument, she didn't eat even a bite of food for 4 days. She broke her "fast" when we went to a restaurant where she could buy her own meal and wouldn't have to accept anything from us. She hasn't attended family dinner since the conflict (9 days ago). She will only eat food she prepares and only eats when no one is around.

We are at a really low point right now. Every day is getting worse and worse because every day she sinks deeper into her withdrawal. It feels like she may never come out of it this time. It's like this time, she has made up her mind and there is no turning back. I hope I'm wrong. I pray that we can come to a place of peace. I expected that adopting teens would be difficult, but I never expected that we wouldn't be able to reach them. I always believed that, with enough love and nurture, they could be restored. For one sister, I still hold on to that hope, but for the other I am losing that hope. We covet your prayers for us as we seek God's direction.

"Criticize a person who is rude and shows no respect, and you will only get insults. Correct the wicked, and you will only get hurt. Don't correct such people, or they will hate you. But correct those who are wise, and they will love you. Teach the wise, and they will become wiser. Instruct those who live right, and they will gain more knowledge." Proverbs 9:7-9

Monday, August 24, 2015

the Control Conflict

In this post, I'd like to talk about two items on the "R.A.D." list because I feel that they are branches on the same tree.

#2 Lack of eye contact on parents' terms
#4 Not affectionate on parents' terms

The key words are "on parents' terms." You could fill-in-the-blank with almost anything; the point is, if it's on the parents' terms, adopted kids aren't likely to comply. This is because it is all related to one issue, CONTROL. I could generalize the entire adopted population in the following statement, but perhaps I should stick to what I know and tell you about what my experience has been, rather than lumping all adopted kids together. The fact is that our girls resent that we are in authority over them. I can hear some of you parents out there saying, "My kids aren't adopted and they resent my authority, too!" I get it. Authority is an issue with all kids. Manipulating the person in authority over them, in an attempt to gain control, is also an issue with all kids. I hear ya. The authority thing isn't unique to adoption. However, it is most definitely the root of all of our issues. 

Our girls will often sabotage a perfectly happy experience because a) they aren't in control of the situation, b) they aren't the center of attention, c) it wasn't their idea, or d) all of the above! For them, it's all about what they choose, what they decide, it must be their way. Sounds similar to the behavior of a 2 or 3 year old, right? That's because it is. I believe that removing an almost teenager from a structure-less environment, where she has been "free" to make her own choices from a very early age, and placing her into a home with parents, rules, and expectations is VERY MUCH like the "terrible twos" stage of early childhood. Tell a two year old she can't have her way and what do you get? A complete and utter melt-down! That is also what you get when you tell a not-so-little girl living under my roof that she can't "have her way."

To say it has been a struggle would be an understatement. It has been exhausting trying to search out ways to maintain our parental control without living in an absolute war zone. Sometimes the war is explosive and there are "casualties" and sometimes (like our present situation) it is a "cold war" and her retaliation is silent, very literally silent; like "even if you try to engage me, I'm going to look right through you - SILENT," and the silence can last for days on end, accompanied by a miserable scowl of course! Because, THIS is her response to parental terms. 

When you want her to engage at the dinner table, she will not. When you want her to join in a family activity, she will not. When you want her to look you in the eye when you speak to her, she will not. When you want her be ready to leave the house in 10 minutes, she will not be ready, because it will take her 12 minutes to be ready. She will not do things on your terms, because SHE MUST BE IN CONTROL! SHE will decide when she wants to engage you at the dinner table. SHE will decide when she wants to enjoy family time. SHE will decide when to look at you, when to speak to you, and when she's ready to leave the house. 

There was a time when I was "lured in" and fell right into the traps she set for me. But, I have since learned that all of these things are an attempt to manipulate me into a power-struggle. As difficult as it is at times, I have to avoid the traps and simply look past her rude behavior. Most of the time, Blaine is the one to confront her about her behavior. The reason for this is because there is mounting tension between her and I and it's rare that we can have a calm exchange (relating to her behavior). He is, quite literally, our mediator and I LOVE him for that! Hear me when I say, I COULD NOT DO THIS WITHOUT HIM! So, when you pray, pray for all 4 of us, and then say an extra prayer for Blaine, he definitely needs it!

Thank you, yet again, for allowing me to pour my heart out. Writing about my experiences is very bittersweet for me. I don't really enjoy regurgitating all of the "not-so-pretty" details, but it is so helpful for me to get it out! Once again, I hope that my honesty has been helpful for some adoptive mom out there. And please just know that, even though I sound defeated as I write, I full-well understand that God is the author of this story; nothing has happened (nor will happen) by accident. I know He has a purpose for us, but the struggle is real, and it is daily. My dad said this in his sermon just last night, "You must walk through difficulties to experience God's faithfulness." God is SO faithful and He encourages me daily through His word. He gives me strength sufficient for each day and I that's how we get through, one day at a time! 

Until next time, God bless...

Monday, July 20, 2015

the Superficial Struggle

I've decided to start at the top of the list because not only is it the first thing mentioned in the video, but also because it's a crucial part of the "dysfunction" we live in as adoptive parents of older children.

#1 Superficially engaging and charming

This is actually the reason some of you who know us are questioning what could be so "hard" about parenting the girls you know to be so poised, polite, and sweet. It's like two different children inside of one body; the girl at home and the girl in public.

(Most days) The girl at home stays in her room all day, only coming out for necessities, avoiding all parental contact. (Some days this behavior is only directed at me, but other days Blaine is included)

The girl in public welcomes the conversation of others, especially other parents, and is warm, bubbly, and engaging.

(Sometimes) The girl at home will go a whole week without saying a single word to me; on a good day she'll say "good morning" and "goodnight." 

The girl in public loves to chat! She especially likes to chat with others in front of us, so that we can take notice of how much she is enjoying herself.

When asked to clean up after one of our pet's accidents, the girl at home will refuse and disrespectfully say "No! It's not my mess!"

The girl in public is always respectful, responding with "yes sir" and "yes ma'am" when addressed. She is submissive to authority and always well mannered. 

Each and every day, when asked how her day was, the girl at home will respond with a simple "good," never offering more information. Even when prompted with other questions, she would prefer to sit in silence on the ride home from school.

The girl in public will gladly talk about her day with others at church; she prefers surface, nonchalant chatter over deep, meaningful conversations that would allow her to connect with her adopted parents.

The girl in public seems well adjusted, happy, and completely embracive of her new life, but the truth is she is broken, numb to feeling, and unsure if she wants this "new life."

I could go on listing examples of how this plays such a huge role in our day-to-day life, but I feel sure I have made my point clear. So often I am told of how the girls have "come a long way," how they are "well-adjusted," and how they are just so "precious," "sweet," and "lovely." My sharing this is not about correcting those who have said those things nor is it meant to tear down our girls. It is for those adopted moms out there who are in the same struggle; who, like me, wonder what they're doing wrong. How can the girls appear so comfortable with everyone else? It must be me! It wasn't until someone else had the courage to speak up, in a blog just like this one, that I finally realized it wasn't me! For so long, I harbored so much guilt, I believed it was because I wasn't good enough, brave enough, strong enough, kind enough... but, it wasn't me and it's not you! There is so much freedom in realizing that. 

I think the kids want us to think that it is our fault. Maybe you don't agree and maybe you just don't understand how that could be true. But, I believe all of our kids have lived in misery for so long that they don't know how to live at peace. Misery is familiar, misery is what they know, misery is what they feel, and they aren't satisfied until everyone in their house is miserable, too. That is the cold, hard, honest, truth. Just like the old saying, "Misery loves company."

We must be aware, but not overcome. We must not allow the root of bitterness to rise up and give place to anger. These children are to be pitied. But we must not only pity them, WE MUST PRAY; pray that God would deliver these children from the awfulness of their past and the depravity of their nature; pray that He would restore what is broken and give them everlasting peace through His saving grace; and we must pray that we would be a vessel of His redeeming love in the providential goodness of their adoption into our family. 

There is so much to share, this is but the tip of the iceberg, my friends. But, I pray that you'll stay with me and that you'll come to know my heart in this matter. The adoption of older children is so complex, there is no cut and dry, no black and white, no short and sweet answer to the question "how is it going?" It is my prayer that this will be a window into our world, to inform our friends of how you can pray for us, and to help other families who are in the trenches of parenting adopted children. 

Therefore He is able also to save to the uttermost (completely, perfectly, finally, and for all time and eternity) those who come to God through Him, since He is always living to make petition to God and intercede with Him and intervene for them. Hebrews 7:25 AMP

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Hard to live it - even harder to re-live it

It has been 4 months since my last post. I fully intended 4 months ago to begin opening up and sharing the "real" story of our adoption and what it looks like on a daily basis. I don't know how to explain why I haven't started sharing except that it is just plain hard. Hard to live it, even harder to re-live it. I spend most days looking forward to the little things that help me escape, like tending to my flower garden in the evenings or watching a cheesy love story on Netflix, and the thought of sitting down to write about things I've tried hard to forget sounds more like torture than therapy. But, I keep telling myself.... you need to do this, it will be good for you, it will be good for others, so here I am again.

I find it difficult to know where to begin. The trouble with sharing something so deep is, to be blunt, it's a lot like throwing up, once you start you can't stop and you're left with a nasty mess to clean up! If I'm being honest, I am fearful of the nasty mess my sharing will leave behind. However, bottling everything inside feels like a poison eating away at my very soul. Regardless of how it makes others feel, or how it makes me "look," it must be said.

To avoid "word vomit" and scattered, disconnected rambling, I feel it best to use the video I shared in my last post, regarding reactive attachment, as a guide. In the video, Todd Friel listed 20 characteristics that are common in adopted children who experience reactive attachment. Out of the list of 20 characteristics, there are only one that we have not experienced with our girls. In the event that you haven't seen the video, the characteristics are listed below. I will choose at least one characteristic as a frame of reference for each blog post. 

I do want to point out that, no matter how negative some of these stories may be, I have never known the Lord like I know Him now. That is not to say I have achieved perfection in my walk with Christ, but it is a confession that I have never needed Him the way I need Him now. I can say with full confidence that His strength is made perfect in my weakness, because I am so weak. No matter how difficult my days are, I lay my head on the pillow each night knowing He has called me to this task and He is refining me through the flame, and to know Him and to experience Him in this way is worth all of the pain - ALL of it. I hope that sharing my experiences can, in some way, be an encouragement to someone who is struggling to hold on to the Lord in the midst of their "storm." He is near. It is dark, but He is near. Hold on to His promises.

20 Characteristics of Reactive Attachment:
  1. Superficially engaging and charming
  2. Lack of eye contact on parent's terms
  3. Indiscriminately affectionate with strangers 
  4. Not affectionate on parent's terms
  5. Destructive to self, others, and material things
  6. Cruelty to animals
  7. Lying about the obvious
  8. Stealing
  9. No impulse controls
  10. Lack of conscience
  11. Abnormal eating patterns
  12. Poor peer relations
  13. Preoccupation with fire
  14. Preoccupation with blood and gore
  15. Preoccupation with bodily functions
  16. Persistent nonsense questions and chatter
  17. Non-stop demanding of attention
  18. Triangulation of adults
  19. False allegations of abuse
  20. Creating chaos

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Reactive Attachment Disorder

This video is a great segue into what I will be sharing. Todd Friel's zany personality aside, this video couldn't be more accurate. If you have 20 minutes to spare, please watch this very informative presentation of Reactive Attachment Disorder (R.A.D.).

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

2 Years Later

February 7, 2015 marked 2 years since we adopted, what where then, 12 year old and 10 year old sisters from Colombia, South America.  I blogged about our entire journey leading up to the placement of these girls in our home but after much consideration I decided to refrain from sharing our story in such a public way.  The reasons which led me to this decision were many, but my primary reason, to be quite honest, was fear. 

What would people think?  How would people feel?  Those precious people, who with love and their own pocketbooks sent us to fetch these 2 girls, how would THEY feel if they knew the REAL story?  Because let me tell you, the reality of our day to day life in no way matched up to the fantasy that even we had succumbed to.  No matter how many adoption seminars you attend, how many books you read, how many people tell you not to, or even how many times you tell yourself not to, you still have expectations.  Not only do you unintentionally develop expectations, of how you’ll bond and the beautiful family you’ll become, but you live a daily struggle to let go of them.  You try, oh how you try, to let go of the expectations, and with each disappointment you ultimately do… just like each tear that falls from your eye and rolls down your cheek, you let go of each expectation, one by one.  
Then there’s the pain… the pain that comes with adopting 2 (almost) teenagers is big enough, but to re-live the pain to tell our story, that was too much for me to bear.  But as it turns out, bottling everything inside doesn’t feel so hot either.  

For more than mere therapeutic reasons, what leads me to my decision to speak up 2 years later is, I want people to know the truth.  With international adoption within Christian families on the rise, I feel that the truth is not only beneficial, it’s crucial.  If only it were easier to speak the truth, maybe I would’ve said it sooner.  And as hard as it is for me to say what’s true, it will be that much harder for you to receive it.  I’m reminded of the scripture “This is a hard saying; who can hear it?” (John 6:60b) The truth can be perplexing and hard to receive.  As we see in another scripture the truth is also “sharper than a two-edged sword,” (Hebrews 4:12). The truth can be divisive.  My prayer is that as you read what I share, you will not turn a deaf ear, nor will you be offended, but rather you will accept it as an outpouring of my heart through a difficult experience.  You may not agree with my story, but after all it is mine to tell.

Where do I begin?  It would be difficult to say everything that I’d like to say in one sitting.  Not only would it be emotionally taxing, but it would be more along the lines of a novel than a blog post.  So, I’ve decided to just share… however it may come out, in whatever order it comes.  I hope that it will be beneficial, but I cannot promise that it will be uplifting.  But the Lord is able… “able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think,” (Ephesians 3:20) may He use what I share for the furtherance of His Kingdom and the edification of His saints.

Until next time…   


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Familia Para Siempre

In 2 weeks it will mark 4 months since we welcomed 2 girls into our family forever.  Has it really been that long?  In some ways it seems to have gone by so quickly, in other ways it feels like our time in Colombia was a lifetime ago.  Some of you may be questioning why it has taken us so long to update our blog and part of the reason is life never slowed down long enough to afford us the opportunity to blog! The other reason is the topic of our blog post today.  Let's take it from the top...

On Wednesday, February 6, at 10:50 a.m. we boarded a plane and embarked on the journey known as parenthood.  We landed in Bogotá, Colombia late Wednesday evening and laid our head on the pillow for the last time as a family of 2.  Early the next day, on February 7, we saw our girls face to face and held them in our arms for the first time.  It was the most surreal moment I have ever had in my life.  It was the day we had always imagined, the day we had waited for for over 16 months, the day we thought would never come, and that day was finally here!  It was the first day of 42 that we spent in Country.  The first 11 days was a period of bonding for our family, where nothing related to the adoption took place.  On the 12th day, we met with the defender of minors for a brief interview to ensure that everything was going well and that the entire family was happy and willing to move forward.  After the interview, we all signed an agreement to move forward as a family and so began the waiting period to pass court.  We passed the time by swimming in our apartment pool and sight seeing in and around Bogotá.  Some of our favorite places we visited were Monserrate , La Candelaria , Catedral de Sal , Iglesia de San Francisco , Museo de Santa Clara , Iglesia del Carmen , Cascada la Chorrera , and  DiverCity. Some of our favorite restaurants were Crepes and Waffles and  Mi Gran Parrilla Boyacense.  There is so much beauty in Colombia, it would take a lifetime to see it all! Although we enjoyed seeing a new part of the world and experiencing the culture of our girls, it didn't take long for us to become desperately homesick. Nothing can prepare you for being away from everything and everyone you know for 6 weeks.  After our bonding interview we waited 3 more weeks for our court date.  On March 13, we met with the judge assigned to our case to sign sentencia.  He was truly one of the kindest men I have ever met.  He went above and beyond his "duty" and made our day in court a true celebration.  It was a very special day we will never forget!  We could never say enough about his kindness and dedication.  After sentencia we scurried about to have new birth certificates made so we could apply for the girls' passports and visas.  Because the girls were born outside of Bogotá a courier was sent to have the new BCs made in their place of birth. We received the new BCs the Saturday after sentencia and applied for passports on Monday, March 18th.  Thankfully, in Colombia it only takes 24 hours to have passports made so we received those the next morning.  We were able to get an appointment with the U.S. Embassy for Wednesday, March 20th, which was the final step before we could head for home.  We received their visas the very same day, in fact it only took about an hour! With visas in hand, we were able to book our flights that very night.  We quickly packed up the entire apartment and managed to make it to the airport just in time to board the plane to Panama where we spent the night waiting for our next flight to Houston, TX.  When we landed in Houston we went through immigration with no delays and made our final connecting flight to Baton Rouge.  On the evening of Thursday, March 21, 2013 we were finally HOME!

We have been home for exactly 9 weeks.  We have experienced ups and downs, joys and sadness, but through it all we are being conformed to the image of our Lord, Jesus Christ.  Although we feel privileged to serve our Lord in this tangible way, nothing about this is easy.  But, in the difficulties, in the times where we are overwhelmed, we learn to trust God.  We learn to depend upon Him and we walk with Him unlike we ever have before.  All along we have known the obvious purpose for adoption: to care for those who have been abandoned that they might experience the love of God, but the purpose that was unknown to us before, that has become so apparent now, is the change that God intended for us.  God chose us for these girls, but He has also chosen them for us.  He chose them for us that we might experience Him in all of His glory and learn to love as He loves.  His purpose has always been two-fold.

Not only is God's purpose two-fold, but our story is now two-fold, actually it is four-fold.  Which brings me to the point of my blog post today.  There are many stories I could tell about what our family has experienced in the last 4 months, but the stories aren't only mine to tell.  You see, now our story involves 2 others and we have to give them the choice of telling or not telling it.  It would be unfair to them for me to bear it all on the world-wide-web for anyone who comes along to read.  So, Blaine and I have chosen to protect them and to keep our family matters just that.  One day, when our girls are old enough, should they choose to tell the story of their adoption, the story will be theirs to tell.  Until then, the book will remained closed.

You may still see a blog post from time-to-time, an update here and there, so be on the look-out. :) Until then we leave you with our heartfelt thanks for all of the prayers and support you have given.  Our family is forever changed because of your kindness!

Monday, February 4, 2013

the Precious

January 14th: I-800 approved
January 24th: received our visas and our girls were transferred from their region to Bogotá
January 25th: saw our girls for the first time, via Skype
February 6th: TRAVEL

As we continue to see God's grace unfolding before our eyes, it causes me to reflect back on the last 5 months (and even years) and everything God has done to bring us to this very moment in our lives. Standing, as it were, on the hill top looking back over the journey that brought us here (the valleys, the pits, the rocky climbs) I stand in pure and utter amazement at the work God has done.

It is no secret that when we began our adoption 16 months ago, we had an infant in mind. God quickly began to change that as He reminded us of the worldwide need for all ages. We settled in to our commitment of siblings: up to 3, but under 8 years old. What I realize now, that I didn't then, is that I was still holding on to age. I had never really let go of it, I only thought I had. As it seems, God would not let me rest until I had surrendered all to Him - ALL, not some. It wasn't until these 2 girls came across our path that I came face to face with this reality in my heart.

It is true that we felt compelled to help these girls. We wanted to be the ones to provide a loving home for children who had been cast aside. But to be totally honest with you, even in the midst of compelling feelings, I was terrified to let go of "my picture" (ya know the one with little ones toddling around). I wanted to be the one to say "YES, God, I WILL GO" no matter what the question was. But, there was a weakness in my heart that wouldn't afford me that courage. So began the wrestling match between the two sides of my heart; the one side who desired greatly to be bold for the Lord and to follow Him anywhere, and the other side who drowned in doubt and thought of every excuse. I remember literally walking and talking with the Lord concerning this decision. I walked and prayed, walked and prayed, walked and prayed, until I found peace. God used the story of Abraham to speak peace to my heart. When God called Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, He was calling him to sacrifice what was most precious to him. It was only when he was willing to give up what was precious to him that God gave it back to him. Sometimes we have to give up our precious thing in order to be obedient to God. My precious thing was the longing to watch a child grow from infancy - to experience the joy of first steps and first words. But giving up my precious thing was the requirement for obedience. If I could paint a picture of my personal journey throughout this adoption it would be the Lord stretching out His hand to me, and in my hesitation to take His hand, The Lord saying to me Don't fear, I won't leave your side, take My hand, trust Me. I have great hope that, like Abraham, God will return what is precious to me in time.

In the meantime, God has given us a new kind of precious in the form of 2 beautiful girls, ages 10 and 12. It is beautiful to consider that at the time God was bringing Blaine and I together, one day to be husband and wife, He birthed our daughters into the world 2,000 miles away. Only God could write a story that beautiful! We are looking forward to turning the page and entering the new chapter of our lives as parents. After 7 years of waiting, it all comes down to 2 more days. In 2 more days the parent chapter will finally become a reality. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Different Picture

It has been exactly 4 months since we've written a real update. There's so much to say, I don't quite know how to begin. In our last post we shared about our struggle with waiting on the Lord and His timing. We were desperate to fit this adoption into our own timeline instead of yielding fully to Him and whatever timeline He chose for us. Even though it's apparent that we didn't finalize our adoption in 2012, God did answer us within 3 weeks, just as we were hoping. 

Shortly after we were assured of God's promise in Jeremiah 33:3 "I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not" we received an email containing a link to a wait-list of children in Colombia. It contained the profiles of children who were unable to be matched (some due to age, others due to medical conditions). We glanced through the profiles, mostly out of curiosity at first. But, we went back to the list of children again and again, always to the same 2 sisters. Although the girls were outside of the age parameters we had initially set for ourselves, we still felt compelled to inquire about these sisters, and so we did. We received a document containing basic information about the girls (temperament, personality, etc.) and we found ourselves excited about the prospect of these 2 girls in our home. We took some time to pray about it and sought the counsel of our family and friends. It wasn't easy to sort through all of our emotions in order to come to a clear headed decision. After all, this picture looked a lot different than the first picture we had in mind. In some ways it was easier; 2 children instead of 3, in other ways it was harder, older children instead of younger. But through it all, we both felt the Lord giving us a heart for these girls. 

After some time to think things through, we contacted our agency to see what we would need to do to move forward with the girls. We were told that we would need to update our homestudy and I800A because of the age difference and number of children. As we began to wrap our minds around this change in our journey, our agency contacted ICBF (child welfare services) in Colombia to inquire about the girls. Upon their inquiry, they discovered that the girls were in a hosting program and were scheduled to travel to the U.S. over Christmas. Initially we thought ICBF would bypass the hosting program in order to place the girls with a family. However, we received word that they wanted to keep the girls in the program. They told us we could wait until they returned to Colombia at the first of the year, and that if the host family declined to adopt them, then we could proceed with adopting them. But, in the meantime we would have to wait. We were devastated with this news and became unsure of our next steps. Should we wait, in hopes that the host family would decline to adopt them? What if we waited 4 months only to find out that the host family decided to adopt? Then again, what if we chose to move forward with another sibling set and then discovered that the girls were available after all? It was an impossible choice to make

Many tears were shed and many prayers were prayed as we felt paralyzed and unable to make a choice. We both felt the Lord leading us to these girls... could we have been wrong? Did we misunderstand? In the midst of our confusion, one thing became clear... only time would tell. We would wait upon the Lord; if He sent another sibling set our way, we would know He meant them for us and He meant the girls for the family that hosted them. We could only trust HIM as we settled into His arms for comfort and peace.

Then out of the blue... on an ordinary afternoon in the last week of September, my cell phone rang. It was a call that changed our life forever. It was like time stood still as I heard the words from our case workers mouth... the host family fell through, do you still want to adopt the girls? We were absolutely stunned! There are no words to convey the joy we felt in that exact moment; joy that I'm sure will only be surpassed by the moment we see them face to face. There was no hesitation as we gleefully answered YES!!! And so began the final stages of our journey as we scurried to re-do our homestudy and I800A, which needed to be updated before we could proceed.

Initially Colombia wanted everything finalized before Christmas, but to our disappointment we experienced a few setbacks which prevented that from happening. Although the setbacks were frustrating, we were spared the ultimate set back of the judges strike, which took place during the time we would've been in country attempting to finalize. Many families were delayed in country for many weeks during the strike, and although our hearts went out to them in their struggle, we were inwardly thankful that God had spared us from this great difficulty. 

So what's happening now? You guessed it, we're still waiting! We sent off our U.S. Immigration paperwork just before Christmas and received word that they received it on Dec. 28th. Once that returns we will be able to travel to Colombia, which we expect will be around mid-February, but nothing is set in stone yet. ICBF has been on break for the holidays and won't return until next week, so we hope to know more when they return.

When you embark on an adoption journey you hear zillions of stories and receive unwarranted advice, but one thing is true... YOU MUST BE FLEXIBLE! Nothing ever happens how you want it to or when you want it to; it's always a little different than how you pictured it and little later than you expected it. But, it's a beautiful ride! :) This picture is definitely different than the one we started this journey with, but different as it may be, we couldn't be happier. We continue to covet your prayers. Our adoption journey may be coming to a close, but our journey as parents has just begun. We so appreciate your support thus far and we're eager to see what the Lord will do in the lives of our daughters.