Friday, December 30, 2011

Long Overdue for an Update

It's been a while since our last blog post, which means we have a lot to catch up on.  For starters, I hope you all had a blessed Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Our home was full of family on both occasions, which served as a reminder that we have much to be thankful for, as well as much to look forward to.

The sale of "Noel, A Collection of Christmas Melodies" is complete.  Thanks to all who supported us in this endeavor.  We sold 196 copies and raised $1,488.43!!!  We thoroughly enjoyed creating this album and we pray that it will be a blessing to all who purchased it.

In the midst of the holidays and our Noel fundraiser, we managed to reach a milestone in our adoption journey.  We are proud to say that we have completed all of the (American) paperwork for our Gladney file!!!  This was a process that took about 3 months to complete.  I'm sure the first question entering your mind at this moment is, "why did it take so long?" followed by the second question, "what does this mean?"  To answer your first question, the process was time consuming because it involved information from many different people.  Some of the documents we had to acquire were: a physicians report, stating that we were in good health; employment and salary verification, entailing a notarized letter from our employer; insurance verification, entailing a letter from our insurance provider stating the amount/time of coverage for our children; fingerprinting and background checks for all states of residence since the age of 18; 5 reference letters; photos of our family and home; copies of our birth certificates and marriage license; and a detailed description of our finances, just to name a few!  Needless to say, it took some time to collect all of this information.  

So, what does this mean?  Well, it means we're about 1/3 of the way the through the paperwork!  Next on the agenda is the homestudy.  A caseworker from the Gladeny agency will come to our home and spend the day interviewing us (separately and together) and ensuring that our home is suitable for the age and amount of children we'd like to adopt.  While the homestudy is being "ordered" (arranged) we will be working on our I-800 A (application to the U.S. government for determination of suitability to adopt a child from a foreign country) and pysch. evaluation.  Once these items and the homestudy are completed, we will begin our foreign dossier (all documents required by Colombia to complete the adoption).  We expect that it will take about 3 months to complete the foreign dossier.  Once the dossier is complete, it must be approved by Colombia.  Upon our Colombia approval, we will then await our referral (this will contain all of the information available on the children: age, name, place of birth, etc.)  There is no exact timeline for the arrival of the referral, it could be 2 weeks after our Colombia approval, or it could be 6 months.  However, because we are willing to adopt siblings as well as older children, it is very likely that we will be matched quickly.  Although there is no exact science to adoption, and the estimated wait time is never accurate, the earliest we expect to travel to bring our children home is mid-late summer.  We will have a better feel for this timeline as we proceed with the paperwork.

Next week, we will be traveling to Fort Worth, TX for Gladney's Pathway's Training.  This training is for parents adopting older children.  We are looking forward to this time as we will be able to meet our Gladney caseworkers as well as other families adopting from Colombia.  Pray for us as we travel, that God would keep us safe and continue to encourage us in our journey.

Blaine and I would especially ask that you pray for our encouragement.  Unfortunately, I am presently in a season of doubt and discouragement.  I am beginning to feel very overwhelmed by the finances required to complete this adoption.  Several nights in a row, I have awakened full of worry and convinced of the impossibility of this feat.  Although my heart knows all of God's promises, my mind begins to convince me otherwise.  I struggled with whether or not I should share this with you.  But, rather than paint a pretty picture, I would rather you know the truth.  The truth being that it is often HARD to follow the Lord.  I believe, at times, He intends for it to be so.  Otherwise, we would never experience the POWER of His unfailing arms.  Pray for THAT POWER to envelope us.  Pray that He would REMIND us of HIS PURPOSE.  Pray that He would ENERGIZE us for HIS CAUSE and impart to us HIS STRENGTH to continue.  We covet your prayers. 

We look forward to the day when we will look into our children's eyes and in that moment KNOW, without a shadow of doubt, that it was all WORTH IT.... that THEY were WORTH it.

for more information about our financial need, click here

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Download "Noel: A Collection of Christmas Melodies"

1. Click "Buy This Album for $5.00" (all the tracks will then be checked off)

2. Click "Click Here To Order" (you will then be brought to the Website Music Player's order page)

3. Click "Click Here To Process Order" (you will then be brought to a page to confirm your order)

4. Click "Click Here To Confirm Your Order" (you will then be brought to where you can enter your credit/debit card information or you can sign into your Paypal account)


5. Click "Pay Now" (you will then recieve a receipt for your order)

6. Click the button "Click here to download songs" in order to download the album. (you will then be brought to the download page after everything is verified and processed)

* Please read all instructions before downloads, as it includes important information about downloading the album. *

Thank you for your support in the sale of Noel!
196 copies sold!!!
A special thanks to Dino Pagliardi at for his generosity and the donation of his services.

We'd like to say a BIG thank you to Chris Kimbrell for designing all of the artwork for the album.  

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Coming Soon

We have another fundraiser underway!  Blaine and I recently finished recording a Christmas album with some of our friends and family called, Noel: A Collection of Christmas Melodies.  We are so grateful to everyone who pitched in to make this album possible.  Everyone's willingness to participate has really meant a lot to the both of us.  We are really proud of the finished product and can't wait to share it with all of you! In order to make this fundraiser a success, we need YOUR HELP!  We'd like you to spread the word to all of your friends and family.... the more people you tell, the better.  If we can sell 7,000 copies, our adoption will be paid for!  The album will be released for download on December 1st and can be purchased through December 25th.  It will be available right here on our blog and on Facebook, as well.  This is a very simple way that you can contribute to such an important cause. GET THE WORD OUT!

  1. Our Story (The Minyards)
  2. Come Thou Long Expected Jesus (Blaine Minyard)
  3. Creator of the Stars of Night (Kevin Price)
  4. Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence (Stephanie Minyard)
  5. In the Bleak Midwinter (Blaine Minyard)
  6. Silver Bells (Brandon Edwards)
  7. Holly Jolly Christmas (Flight From Below)
  8. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (Ruby Pruitt)
  9. O Holy Night (Aaron & Brooke Cousino - feat. Lily Kimbrell)
10. O Come Let Us Adore Him (Paula Kimbrell and The Minyards)


Thursday, November 3, 2011

God's Sweet Mercies

     We had a wonderful time at Praise in the Park (PITP), 2 weeks ago. We were overwhelmed with the kind responses we received from the people we met.  Upon opening our booth, we met a young lady.  She didn't tell us her name, in fact she didn't say very much at all.  We began telling her the purpose for our booth at PITP and a little information about our adoption.  We invited her to enter the t-shirt give-away and gave her a card with our blog information on it.  She said she wanted to make a donation, handed me (what I thought was) a few dollars folded up, and walked away. As I put it in our donation box, I realized that it was more than a few dollars, it was actually $7.  This was our very first donation!  You may be thinking to yourself that $7 is not a lot of money, but to me it was.  At most, I expected that people would give a dollar here and there.  Well, little did I know of what God had in store for us.  We began greeting those who walked by, inviting them to enter the t-shirt give-away (this was THE #1 THING that drew people to our booth), when a few minutes later the young lady came back.  She spoke with Blaine and explained to him that she just felt like she needed to give more.... AND SHE HANDED HIM $20!  I was amazed, not simply because of the amount, but because of her attitude toward giving.  It spoke volumes to me that a person, a perfect stranger to us, would GIVE without intent to receive.  When there were so many options for her to spend that $27 (food, jewelry, clothing, Tupperware, etc.) she chose to GIVE IT AWAY.  What a blessing!

     The blessings kept coming.  A man and his wife stopped in and prayed with us.  This is what I love about being a child of God, when you meet other children of God there is an instant bond between you.  We felt that with this couple, and so many others that day.  We met a man and his family who are adopting from Ukraine.  He began to tell us about an organization, with which he and his family are affiliated, called Promise 139, out of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. (For all of you Louisiana readers who may not know, Hattiesburg is a city about 30 miles outside of Laurel, where I lived for 10 years and where my dad currently pastors.)  Promise 139 is an orphan hosting program, comprised of individuals in the Hattiesburg area who share a burden for the orphan crisis worldwide.  This year they will be hosting a Christmas camp for orphans from Eastern Europe.  Blaine and I were more than excited to hear about this program.  We are making plans to be involved in this organization, and encourage our readers to do the same.  For more information about Promise 139, visit We met another couple and their twin toddlers that they had adopted from Russia.  They shared with us that they were at PITP last year selling t-shirts to raise money for their adoption.  We were so encouraged as we began talking about their experience and sharing our own.  We were also able to spend most of the day with dear friends of ours, who we don't get to see very often.  We felt blessed just to have their company all day.  As PITP was ending, and we said our goodbyes, they handed Blaine a gift to add to the donation box.  It wasn't until they were gone that we realized it was $100.  There are no words for the gratitude in our hearts.  It means so much when strangers give, but all the more when those we know and love support us.  All we can say is GOD IS SO GOOD!
     We were able to share our story with countless people who walked by.  There were so many people that we barely got a chance to sit down.  God showed us that His people are EVERYWHERE and His purposes are being accomplished throughout the earth.  We are not alone in our endeavors, rather we are CO-LABORERS with our brothers and sisters in Christ.  We collected $368.05 in donations, gave away 3 t-shirts and 170 wristbands, and received immeasurable amounts of love and encouragement.  We thank God for every person that stopped by, for every cent that was given, for every prayer that was prayed, and every relationship that began.  God's mercies are sweet, indeed. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Preparing for Praise in the Park

We are looking forward to Praise in the Park, in Blaine's hometown of Lucedale, Mississippi, this weekend where we'll be sharing our adoption story with fellow believers. Praise in the Park is a Christian festival that is hosted every fall in Lucedale's city park. We will be among approximately 40 vendors and 12,000 people who are gathering together to enjoy a day of food, fun, and Christian fellowship. Jeremy Camp, Building 429, Leeland, and Royal Tailor will be performing this year.

I spent the day getting ready for PITP. Here are a few photos of my preparations! :)

 Instead of a coke sign, I used an old piece of wood to create the sign for our booth.

 First, I used a dry brush technique to give the board a white wash.

Then, I added a few other colors, sanded it, and wiped on a light stain.
The finished product!

 These 2 pieces will be used as our "billboards" to advertise our wristbands and t-shirt give away.

 I gave them the same treatment as the "Adopt Colombia" sign. I didn't have time to paint the ads on them, that will be tomorrow's work! 

We will be giving away glow-in-the-dark wristbands as a "Thank You" for donations we receive.

We hope to meet a lot of people and raise awareness of the orphan crisis around the world. We are excited to see what God is going to do this weekend!!!

Monday, October 10, 2011


We wanted to give you a quick update on where we stand financially.

Through the generous gifts of friends, the profit we made from the Loblolly Festival, our savings, and a personal loan we are up to $10,601! We are a quarter of the way there. :) We appreciate your prayers concerning our fundraising efforts. We will be at Praise in the Park in Lucedale, MS on October 22. This is where about 12,000 people gather each year for a day of worship in Lucedale's city park. Pray that God will multiply our efforts to spread our story and that He would do a mighty work to help us reach our goal.

For a more detailed description and checklist of our expenses, visit our support blog! Financial Outline for the Colombia Program


I'm beginning to realize how hard it's going to be to keep the blog updated now that the PAPERWORK has started!  We started working on what Gladney calls "Group 1" of the documents to be submitted as part of our formal application.   This includes a description of each of us, our marital history, members of our household, our education, religion, criminal records, our finances, our home, employment history, mental and physical health, and five references.  A "child preference profile" was also a part of the "Group 1" documents.  This is where we were able to give a detailed description of the children we would like to adopt such as, their ages, gender, and overall health.  We agreed to accept a sibling group of up to 3 children, of either gender, 8 years old and under.  We also stated that we would be willing to discuss accepting a referral of a child with correctable medical issues.  We were encouraged to consider doing so because, what is often considered correctable medical issues are things like developmental delays and the results of malnutrition.  

Next on the agenda is completing the "Group 2" documents.  This will include employment verification, a physician's report on the both of us, verification of health insurance, and a few other miscellaneous documents, most of which have to be notarized.  We anticipate that it will take a few weeks to have everything completed.  Although this paperwork is anything but exciting, we know that with each document completed, we are one step closer to our little ones. :)  

Thursday, September 22, 2011


The official processes of our adoption have begun. We were pre-approved to adopt from Colombia through Gladney Center for Adoption on Tuesday, September 20th. We had a phone orientation today to give us an overview of what we can expect throughout the adoption process. The manual containing all of our instructions for paperwork is 55 pages, if that's any indication of how much work is ahead of us. Our heads were spinning after our hour and a half conversation.  We talked about our homestudy, documents needed for our dossier, immigration papers, what to do when we receive a referral, what the stay in country will be like, when fees will be due, among MANY other things.  The most exciting part of our conversation was when the agent from Gladney told us that it is very possible to have our children home a year from now!!!  In the adoption world, that is like THE SPEED OF LIGHT! :) Everything became REAL to us during this conversation.  But, as overwhelming as the reality of adoption is, we are trusting God for His provision.  We anticipate the amazing things God will accomplish in and through His people. 

Every once in a while, I get strong impressions from the Lord.  Through scripture, preaching, and prayer, God reassures me of His purpose for us.  Sitting in church last night, I began to consider the miracle of our circumstance.  I began to reflect on the command in Scripture to preach the gospel to "every nation, kindred, tongue, and people," Revelation 14:6 and how Scripture declares that God has a PEOPLE, redeemed "out of every kindred, tongue, people, and nation," Revelation 5:9.  What if God has called us to this adoption in order to make (3) little Colombian souls a part of THAT PEOPLE, redeemed by the blood of Christ?  Scripture teaches of God's infinite plan, how that Christ purchased His people "from the foundation of the world," Revelation 13:8.  What an astounding thought that, before the foundation of the world, God ordained that we would adopt these children.  We can only pray that His purpose for doing so was that they might KNOW HIM. What a beautiful story we will be able to tell them; how God's love purposed them to be our very own.  Not unlike how He has purposed US to be His very own.  Did His love seek you out?  Consider the circumstances that God used to bring you into His family.  Aren't we all immensely blessed?  We are not merely guests at the Kings table, we belong there.  

In light of this, are we to remain seated at the table, enjoying all of its bounty?  Or is this bounty to be shared?  Matthew 5:13-14 gives us a clue, "Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt has lost his savor, wherewith shall it (the earth) be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.  Ye are the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid."  Take a moment to consider what salt does.  It seasons.  Once you put salt in something, you can't take it out again.  It's sort of permanent.  If you've ever over-salted your grits, you know this.  But, what about savor-less salt?  If salt had no taste, would you still put it on your french fries?  No, what would be the point?  If salt had no savor it would no longer be effective, it would be useless.  Light hearted jokes aside... God's word tells us that we are the "salt of the earth."  We are intended to be the effective kind of salt, the lingering kind of salt, the kind of salt that has SAVOR.  We should be making every effort, with our words, actions, thoughts, and deeds, to season this earth with the gospel.  THAT IS OUR PURPOSE.  Have you lost your savor?  Don't be "good for nothing," but be a BRIGHT LIGHT in this dark world, be "a city...on a hill (that) CANNOT BE HID."  Be effective for Christ.  We have work to do!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Day in the Life of an Orphan

(We came across this information today and we really wanted to share it with our readers.)

Bedrooms and Bedtime
During the first few years at the orphanage, babies sleep in a room that contains 18-20 cribs and possibly a single changing table.  Usually the nursery walls are painted white or a pale color.  The children are rarely rocked to sleep or comforted when they cry during the night.
When orphaned children get older, they sleep in a bedroom with up to 20 other children.  The room is filled with rows of beds and contains no other furniture.  Each child has his or her own bed, but they do not have any special blanket, toy, or stuffed animal that they take to bed with them.

At bedtime, the children climb into bed and a worker turns off the light.  No one tucks them in or hugs them good night.  When the boys and girls have nightmares, no one comes into their room to console them. Many orphaned children are afraid of night time.

Closets and Clothing
Children who are 5 and older may have a small closet of their own in a special room.  Most children have only one or two sets of clothes - possibly dresses for the girls, and pants and shirts for the boys.  The children will wear the same clothes for many days at a time.  Orphans may have a special outfit to wear for a holiday program, but that is stored elsewhere.

Many orphans own one pair of "street shoes" and another pair to wear indoors.  They wear the shoes until the soles are coming off.  If children receive a new pair of shoes, their name is written on both the shoes and the shoebox with a permanent marker.  This is to keep workers or other children from stealing them.

Mealtime can be a stressful experience for orphaned children.  While still in the hospital, abandoned newborns eat from bottles propped up on towels in their cribs.  Babies are not held and snuggled during their feedings.  At the orphanage, mealtime is often rushed.  With only 2 workers and 30 hungry babies, adults must feed many children at the same time.  Workers shovel food into toddlers' mouths, hardly giving the children time to chew.  
Older orphaned children eat together at tables with up to 10 children.  they do not have a variety of foods at their meals or a choice about what they eat.  Breakfast usually consists of porridge.  Soup and bread are served for both lunch and dinner.  Because they are hungry, some children steal food from the table and then hide it to eat between meals.  Boys and girls hurry to eat their meal so that the other children won't steal food off of their plates.

Bathrooms and Hygiene
Bath time can be very traumatic for orphaned children.  Instead of taking baths, children generally take very quick showers.  The younger children are put into a bathtub or shower with other children.  As they stand up, workers quickly wash them and spray them off with a hose.  In some orphanages, the water can be very cold.  Most children cry during bath time.
Older children take showers 2 times a week, at most.  They have a central place where their toothbrush and towel is stored.  Many bathrooms for older children do not have indoor plumbing.  Children go to an outhouse to use the restroom.

Most orphanages cannot afford to buy quality playground equipment for their children.  Playground equipment is very simple.  There may be a swing, a slide, and a sand box.
Toys in the orphanage are kept neatly on shelves and only taken out at certain times of the day.  Getting many children to share a few toys can become a problem, so workers feel it is easier to leave the toys on the shelf.

Children learn music, drama, and poetry in an organized class time during the week.  Their rooms do not have televisions or radios.

The Christian Alliance for Orphans
The Cry of the Orphan

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Our Decision

We would like to thank each of you who committed to pray for us concerning our decision to proceed with Colombia, we have definitely felt your prayers.  We are proud to announce that we completed our pre-application with Gladney Center for Adoption for the Colombia program today.  If anything has changed in the past 2 weeks, it has been that our desire to adopt from Colombia has had a snowball effect, it just gets bigger and bigger by the day.  We have felt God's assurance that He will provide the way physically, emotionally, and financially.  We don't have all of the answers yet, but the outpouring of support and love that we feel from you has been more than we could ever ask for.  So, we are certain that we must trust God as we walk down this exciting, scary, uncertain path that will ultimately lead us to the little ones we have long prayed for.

We would also like to announce that we have created another blog, specifically dedicated to the support of our adoption. We would, as humbly as we know how, ask that you pray about how you can be involved in supporting us.  If you'd like to host a fundraiser; help out with a fundraiser that I have planned; if you would like to take up a love offering at church; if you would like Blaine and I to come to your church to share about our adoption; if you would be willing (on any level) to support us, let us know. Our support blog can be found at It will also be linked to this blog.

Thank you again for your expressions of love and support.  Each time we receive encouraging texts or emails it gives us a BOOST and helps us know that this adoption is possible. "for with God all things are possible." Mark 10:27

Sunday, September 11, 2011

2 Weeks

Blaine and I could both feel God at work in our hearts as He gave us the ability to say, Whatever this adoption looks like, Lord, we are willing.  We decided to revisit the idea of adopting Internationally, this time without blinders.  THIS time we wouldn't be searching for the program that could give us the youngest child, but we would prayerfully consider every opportunity.  I also looked into a few new agencies that we hadn't yet requested information from.

I've been involved in mission work in Mexico since I was 15 years old.  This experience has cultivated a genuine love in my heart for Spanish speaking people. I'm almost 27 now, so needless to say this mission has been profoundly influential in shaping who I am today.  It was the reason I began to consider adoption, many years ago.  From the moment I stepped off of the van in La Nariz, Mexico in 2000, my life was changed.  For the first time in my life, at 15 years old, I understood the meaning of poverty.  The people of La Nariz taught me what it means to love God unconditionally.  They have so little, yet they continue praising God for His goodness.  Now that's a lesson America has yet to learn.  It's a lesson I, myself, am still learning.  So often our love for God and our happiness in life is contingent upon our circumstance.  The testimony time at Iglesia Bautista Gracia puts testimony time in our churches TO SHAME.  Not only did this mission teach me what it means to love God, it also showed me my responsibility as His child.  I enjoy so many blessings as one who has been adopted into the family of God, one who has been invited to dine at the table of a King, one who shares in all of His wealth and goodness. Therefore, it is my responsibility to care for the needy, the helpless, the poor, the widow, the stranger, the orphan. (see Deut 24:17-21)

I shared all that to say that, as Blaine and I again approached the idea of adopting Internationally, my heart was drawn to the Latin countries that had an adoption program.  As I began reading about different programs I came across Gladney's Colombia adoption program.  It offered an immediate placement program for couples willing to adopt sibling groups where the oldest child is 7 years old.  Two months ago there is no way I would've even considered this, but now.... well now I was completely ecstatic. I immediately told Blaine about everything and he was ecstatic, too.  We were both in agreement to seriously consider this option.  We kept other programs in mind, but this is the one that stood out. 

We made an agreement with one another to really pray about this for 2 weeks.  We both wanted to make sure that this was God's will for us.  We decided that in this period of 2 weeks, we would search out financial resources, further details about the program, and Blaine would determine if his work would allow him time off to complete the adoption.  This coming Friday will be the end of our 2 week agreement.  I'd like to tell you that there were all happy discoveries up until now, however we began to face the hardships of the adoption process.  So, we'd ask that you would enter into prayer with us in the final days before our final decision to proceed with adoption from Colombia.

Here's how you can pray:
*Pray that God would CLEARLY show us the right decision
*Pray that He would provide the finances necessary to make the adoption possible
*Pray that He would send us people to rally around us in support
*Pray that God would be glorified and we would be satisfied in whatever He chooses to do through us

Saturday, September 10, 2011

God's Promise

The more I walked through this season of uncertainty, the more God reassured me of His promise in Hebrews 13:5, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."  In this season of my life, God has used the writings of Charles Spurgeon to bring me peace just when I begin to unravel at the edges.  I remember one night laying my head on the pillow with a heart full of worry.  Before going to sleep, I read the evening portion of Spurgeon's daily devotion.  These were his words, "Trust in Him at all times." Psalm 62:8 How pleasant to float along the stream of providence. There is no more blessed way of living than a life of dependence upon a covenant-keeping God. We have no care, for he careth for us; we have no troubles, because we cast our burdens upon the Lord.  Amazing, right?  No matter how many times I struggle with the SAME thing, God reminds me of His faithfulness.  He never grows weary of teaching me the same lesson.  When I forget His promises and begin again to wallow in my anxiousness, He doesn't leave me there, but He stills my fitful heart and reminds me to trust Him.  Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths."  

It was in this time of waiting that I could clearly see God changing me.  Even though I had embraced adoption, I still placed limitations on what I would be willing to do.  I really wanted a baby.  I was okay with the idea of adopting a toddler, but I didn't want an older child.  I didn't want a sibling group.  Those were my stipulations, so to speak.  Well.... I cannot tell you clearly enough that God, unmistakeably, CHANGED my heart.  I began to consider adopting an older child.  When I spoke to Blaine about it, I found out that he was considering it also.  Now this was a HUGE deal for the both of us, because we had said all along that we just couldn't do that.  We felt too inexperienced to adopt an older child.  We also had concerns about behavior.  We were down right afraid.  It 's funny how we declare we can't do something and suddenly God makes us able.  I began to let go of the desire to experience everything that goes along with having a baby, and I started to realize the need for children of all ages to be adopted.  How could I ignore their needs simply to satisfy my own desires?  Instead of imagining all of the things I would "miss out" on by adopting an older child, I began to consider all of the wonderful things I would be able to enjoy.  Blaine and I were both excited to see what the future held for us.

Well, you'll never guess what happens next...... or maybe you will. :)  

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Letter

About a week after we mailed off our pre-app with Catholic Charities, we received a letter from them acknowledging their receipt of our application.  Much to our surprise, the letter encouraged us to continue to research other adoption methods/agencies.  We were completely puzzled by the letter.  Why would an agency encourage us to search out other options?  I was a little unsettled, but Blaine became really discouraged by this.  I tried to reassure him that it was just their way of telling us to make certain that we wanted to work with them.  As days went on, Blaine became restless.  He just didn't feel right about this.  The more he expressed his concern, the more I became concerned.  We wondered, is this the right decision?  So, we decided to make another appointment with Catholic Charities to express our concerns and hopefully get some answers.

We learned that the time line for the completion of the adoption was a lot different than we had imagined.  Catholic Charities encourages their clients to explore all avenues because it is such a long wait, and they want to make sure that each couple is 100% sure of their decision before moving forward.  The details of their procedures are confusing, to say the least, so I won't try to explain them here.  In a nutshell, it became clear to both Blaine and me that this wasn't a good fit for us.

So, what now?  We were both discouraged and confused.  To add to my discouragement and confusion, I became FITFUL.  I was more anxious than words could ever explain.  It felt like we were back at square one, with no direction.  I couldn't see it at the time, but God was working.

In the midst of my inward turmoil we attended a Shane and Shane concert.  For those of you who know us well, you know we LOVE the Shanes.  Anytime we have the opportunity to see them live, we are on the front row.  I was looking forward to a time of enjoyment, where I could leave my worries behind.  Shane Barnard's wife, Bethany Dillon, was also there that night.  She is one of my favorite Christian female artists, so I was excited she was there, too.  She hasn't released an album in a few years, so she mostly sang familiar songs.  But, she shared one that she had just written.  It was called "to those who wait."  I couldn't believe what I was hearing.  It was exactly what I needed to hear, as if God was speaking directly in my ear.  I began to sob as I listened.  As hard as I try, I can't seem to remember the exact lyrics, but the song talked about not being quick to leave, and filling your lamp with oil... as if to say, wait all night, as long as it takes, just wait.  God reminded me to be still and wait on Him to guide us.  And so began a season of prayer and waiting for direction.  We weren't sure where we were to go next, but God made it clear to us that He would lead us, if we would but wait on HIM. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

International or Domestic?

As I began to learn the lesson of loving an adopted child just as much as one born to me, God began to change my attitude from merely an "acceptance" of my situation, to a beautiful embrace.  Every fear I had, every doubt, was taken from me.  God replaced doubt and fear with trust in Him and excitement for His plan. Although we faced much uncertainty, He imparted His grace to sustain us.  

We began to consider the different avenues of adoption.  After talking to other adoptive couples, we decided we wanted to work with an agency, but we weren't certain if we should adopt internationally or domestically.  As we looked into international adoption we were completely overwhelmed by all of the obstacles that stood in our way.  First of all, the price seemed insurmountable.  Secondly, many countries required a long stay in-country to finalize the adoption.  We began to worry, how would we afford this? would Blaine's job even allow him to take time off?  At that point, we began to shy away from international adoption because it just seemed "too hard."  So, we looked into domestic adoption.  I will take a moment and be perfectly honest with you, I was sold on this idea because I could get a baby... not even just a baby, but a newborn baby.  Next, we learned of domestic adoption through Catholic Charities.  They offered newborn adoption and the fee would be based on a percentage of our income.  We also learned that there was a government adoption tax credit that would completely cover the adoption expenses.  I was so excited, I couldn't contain myself.  I wanted a baby so incredibly badly, and this seemed to be the answer to my prayers.  I was over the moon.

We met with a representative from Catholic Charities to find out more about their agency.  After the meeting, we felt so strongly about everything that we filled out a pre-application within days of the meeting.  We had finally begun our adoption journey. :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A New Point of View

Through the dark times of struggling and praying, God surrounded us with His love and began to change our viewpoint.  He used the encouragement of friends and family to remind us that though we sometimes face difficulty, God is sovereign over every circumstance.  It was only by His providence that we faced a possibility of infertility.  At this realization, we had to yield it all to Him: our struggles, our fears, our sadness, our questioning, everything.

We felt certain that God was leading us in the direction of adoption, but which path were we to take?  (International, domestic, private, through an agency) We had a lot of questions.  So, we began to read.  Google became our best friend.  We began to search for reputable agencies, we bought books about adoption, we listened to sermons about adoption, we talked to adoptive parents; we completely saturated ourselves in adoption information.  In this time of research, we requested information from several agencies.  One of the information packets included a DVD of testimonials from adoptive parents.  A statement one of the adoptive mothers made really stood out to me.  She was talking about infertility and how we often categorize couples into those who can have children and those who can’t; her exact words were “We can ALL have children.”  That statement hit me like a ton of bricks.  God used her words to completely change my outlook on our situation.  The negative thoughts slowly dissipated, and I began to see the beauty of what God would do in our lives through adoption.  

God began to show us the parallel between our adoption of a child and how He has adopted us into His family.  The statement I made in a previous blog, “I couldn’t bear the thought of not having ‘my own’ children,” was no longer a thought in my mind.  I began to consider the love God the Father has for me.  He loves me AS HIS OWN… I am His.   “Ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.  The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ;” Romans 8:15b-17a.  I am as much God’s child as Christ is.  What an astounding thought.  As I reveled in this thought, I realized that no matter how God chooses to give me children, they are all my own.  As a dear friend of mine prayed, He has already set them aside for me.  They are mine, even this very hour.  I just have to go get them. :)