Our family is on the adoption journey. We began in November of 2011 when we finally made the decision to procede with adopting after spending years talking about the possibility and having three of our own little ones. We completed the homestudy officially in January of 2012 and completed our dossier and it was sent to Nicaragua at the end of June 2012. We found out the following November after having started the process while living in Mexico and having moved back to the U.S. that the governing adoption agency in Nicaragua wanted us to start over with a new homestudy. We finally completed the second homestudy almost one year and 5 months after we began the process. We have also been approved by the USCIS a second time as well. At this point in time we are waiting for approval on the foreign side of things. We must been accepted by the governing adoption agency first before they will match us with a child. We covet your prayers as the journey is long and never guaranteed. We have seen the Lord provide in many ways since we began the process and are praying for God's continued favor and blessings as we long to bring home a precious baby girl to love on and call 'daughter'.
Here is our adoption blog:
We have learned in the adoption process to celebrate not only the big steps but the little ones. The journey can be long, the road can be bumpy and the end can seem not miles away, but light-years away! I have realized that we need to take the time to acknowledge important dates and important events because it is proof that we have come this far.
Over the past two months, we have, once again, been gathering paperwork to update our home study... the third time in three years. I remember very clearly about 3 months or so ago when I got the 'reminder' in the mail that our home study would expire in April. It was a harsh reality that we were still waiting... still hoping... still wondering...
So, as those moments are reminders that we are still praying we would move to the next step in this process, and that we are still waiting to receive the call we have been anxiously waiting for from our agency, I also need to acknowledge the moments that remind us that yes, we are still waiting, but we are not where we use to be.
With that being said, exactly one year ago today, on March 14, 2014, we received an email with an attached letter from Nicaragua- We had finally, after two years and one major hiccup, been accepted and could official begin waiting for a child match!
It has been a roller coaster ride of emotions over the years. My emotional pendulum swings from confidence in the Lord and patience as we wait.... to frustration and sadness. I have stood before friends in confidence and shared, "I fully trust His timing and I have no doubt that the end result will be amazing," and yet days later found myself laying awake at night begging God wondering why we haven't gotten a match yet! We are ready! We are so ready to add another child to our family! And sometimes I feel so ready that this feeling seems tangible... and I am so helpless because there is nothing I can do.
Today, this week, has been a good week in my steadfastness. I am confident in God's love for us... and love for a little girl who needs a home. And as this day, 3/14, snuck up upon us, I am celebrating that we are not where we use to be in this process. We have moved forward and I am confident we will continue moving forward... in His timing.
Ten years ago this month, I flew to a wedding in Des Moines, Iowa, with the intention of celebrating and supporting a friend who was entering a new season of life called marriage. As the plane landed, little did I know that the Lord was about to introduce me to the man I would one day say 'I do' to. And although when I met John McLaughlin that day in the airport waiting for our ride to pick us up, I hadn't a clue that I'd say those words in a little less than a year. As the old saying goes, "A lot can happen in a year." I am blessed beyond measure and cannot imagine journeying through this adventure with anyone else. In 9 years of marriage, we have visited 11 states together, visited 7 countries, had 7 addresses, 3 children, done 2 full AIA tours together, had a zillion relationship talks with AIA baseball players and had countless memories. We have cried together, laughed together, sang praises to God together, and cried out to Him together.. We have fought hard, played hard, hugged hard and loved hard. Our desire from the moment we got engaged was that we wanted our lives together to point to Jesus. And through His grace and mercy, in striving to do that, we have experienced the beauty and miracle of marriage! Today we celebrate 9 years together as husband and wife and I am so so thankful!
Not only do we celebrate 9 years of marriage this month, but this past month we celebrated (well, more acknowledged than celebrated) the fact that we started seeking a child through adoption three years ago. On January 1st of this year, I wrote this article. We had gone out to dinner, pulled out a restaurant napkin and boldly wrote 8 things down that we were trusting the Lord with this year to happen before December 31st. They were 8 things that only God could do. Miracles, if you will. One of which was that we would finally get a referral for a precious little girl... a little girl whom we have been waiting to meet for three years. As December 1st rolled around, you can imagine the anxious anticipation in my heart as I continue to pray that God would still answer, 'yes' to what we are hoping for... and yet the Lord has been silent here. And the days are slipping away.
There are days that I find myself begging the Lord to take us to the next step in the adoption process and then in the same breath, I find myself saying, "But Lord, not my will, but yours." It truly is an inner struggle to wrestle through the two sides- trusting that His timing is perfect, but wanting His timing to be now. So, we wait. We continue to wait.
We will continue to pray what we started specifically praying for in confidence almost 365 days ago- "Lord, please unite us with a baby girl before December 31st this year. Please grow our family with a Christmas miracle this year." Would you please join us this month praying specifically for God's blessing of a new child before the new year arrives? We are so thankful for those that have faithfully prayed along side us and who have consistently asked how the process is going and how we were holding up. As we wait, I know we are not walking this journey alone. So thank you!
A number of you so kindly have asked if there is any news on our adoption. Oh, how I dream of the day when I can shout to the world, "WE GOT THE CALL!!!" or the day we post an update titled... "Our Family is Home.... One precious life bigger".... but at the moment we are still waiting... and waiting... and waiting.
I recently started particpating in monthly 'call-ins' with our agency. Those who have finished the adoption process in Nicaragua can 'call in' and talk with those who are either just beginning or encourage those of us who are somewhere in the middle. It has been educational to hear the stories of those who have brought their children home from Nicaragua as they shared their experience in country and their unique circumstances once arriving back in the U.S. It has also been helpful to encourage those who are still gathering their dossier and answer their questions. As for me, simply hearing those questions reminds me of how far we have come and that our process IS moving forward.
One of the mothers who had brought home a little girl a little over a year ago asked how those of us who were in the 'waiting phase' were doing. In all honesty, just like many challenging things
in life, there are good days and bad days. I rejoice in God's grace in those good days when I'm either distracted from the waiting or I am filled with the sense of hope... And then there are days
when I cling to God's promises as the idea of actually getting that call from our agency seems like a fantasy. Waiting on God's perfect timing is hard. And adding to that is the very
real tangible fear that at any time international laws can change making things harder or longer, and there is always a possiblity doors could close like guatamala did years ago.
So a couple weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet with Wendy Willard, a woman whose family started an organization called Fit Nicaragua (Families In Transition) because those who adopt from Nicaragua must spend anywhere between 3 and 6 months in country during a 'fostering' phase of the process before bringing your child home. This can be extremely scary for anyone who hasn't traveled internationally... particularly if only one parent is available to travel. We are so blessed that we can travel as a family during that time, but many mother's make that treck alone with their other children. Fit Nicaragua is a unique organization that assists those in the process with simple things like finding out where to get clean water, where to wash clothes, how to navigate the city, where to take your child to the doctor, etc.
It was super to meet with Wendy and visit with her for a few hours. Although I enjoyed hearing about her ministry as well as some of the updates in Nicaragua, we learned that the Mi Familia's director changed and therefore there has been a little lull over the past few months. She shared a number of things and if I'm being honest, I felt a little discouraged that it could be another 6 months or longer before we get a referral for a child. As many of you know, we have been praying since January 1 of this year that our family would be 1 child larger by December 31st. After visiting with Wendy, I felt that it would be a miracle if that happened.
But isn't that the kind of business God is into? I mean, God does miracles all the time. And I have personally seen Him do things I would never have anticipated and I have experienced His grace in miraculous ways over the years. As I went to bed that night, I just kept thinking God is bigger... God is bigger.
The next morning I awoke to have my quiet time and the first thing I happen to read was Psalm 127. The first two verses say this:
"Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep."
These verses are obviously talking about God's sovereignty. God is in control and no matter what I may do to try and speed the process up, it will do no good unless it's God's desire to speed the
process. God is the one who builds. God is the one who watches over us. It is pointless to worry. I just need to trust Him, his love for me, and His perfect will for our lives.
But this wasn't what caught me off guard as I was reading. The first part of the very next verse says, "Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord..." Wow! I know I have read this verse before but oh, how perfect it was for me to read it that morning. Relating these verses together struck my heart in a deep way. I felt like it was as if God was speaking directly too me. He is sovereign and the building of our family will be His work, not mine.
God is bigger than me and what I think is best.
God is bigger than what I heard visiting with Wendy. God is bigger than the Nicaraguan governement and God is bigger than Mi Familia. It would be easy to get caught up in what could happen or what I hear through random rumors, but the reality is that God is in control and God knows what's best.
WIth that being said, I felt steadfast. I felt unwavered. I felt that if God wants our family to be complete by December 31st, it will happen. And if He doesn't, well, He has something better that what I imagine for our family.
So as I stand firmly on God's promises that He is sovereign and that He is good and that He loves me and my family, including that little girl in Nicaragua whom I don't even know yet, I will faithfully pray that God will bring her home this year... but at the same time, I will pray, Lord, not my will but Yours!
So John recently read a book, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, that was on Walt Mueller's, the president of CPYU (Center for Parents/Youth Understanding), top reading list. He was so encouraged and challenged by it that he recommend I at the very least read the last couple of chapters. The author, Rosaria Champagne Butterfield, is a tenured English professor at Syracuse University. DUring her professional years, she was a feminist in every sense of the word, not only an advocate for the gay and lesbian movement, but a lesbian herself, and not a big fan of this religion called Christianity. She was highly educated, successful in every worldly sense of the word and committed.... until the Lord gripped her heart. 'Until, in her late 30s, she encountered something that turned her world upside down- the idea that Christianity, a religion that she had regarded as problematic and sometimes downright damaging, might be right about who God was, an idea that flew in the face of the people and causes that she most loved.'
She is now married to a man who has pursued pastorship, she has four adopted children, she is a foster care parent, and she homeschools while doing minsitry at church, in her neighborhood and amongst those the Lord places in her path. John thought her section on homeschooling and adoption would be very impactful if I read it... so I started with the last two chapters of the book.
Let me just tell you, this is a book about a women's journey in her relationship with the Lord and a testimony to what God can do and does in the lives of people, but out of all the homeschooling and adoption books I have read in the last 3 years, this is now by far my favorite. She is an excellent writer- not a surprise being that she was a tenured English professor, and she puts the Gospel into words so uniquely in the context of normal day busy life, that it has allowed God to stir in my heart a whole host of emotions and has encouraged and challenged me not only where I am at right now in my journey of adoption, homeschooling, parenting and minsitry, but where I want to be... and How much I really want the Lord's plan for my life... no matter how challenging the task may be.
With that being said, I wanted to share a few of the quotes that I feel really made me think... maybe they will make you think too! Would love to hear any thoughts, comments or responses you have as you read below... better yet, read the book, and then let me know what you think? I have decided after reading the final 2 chapters, this book is worth the time and I have started from the beginning.
"A family that never opens its heart never feels
heartbroken. A family that never welcomes in others never misses them when they leave. A family that never embraces life's risks, never really live."
"When God brings children out of neglect, abuse,
dysfunction, gangs, drugs, and hate, and places them in a covenant home, he has just moved a mouton in the hearts and families of men. When God gives a childless couple a child of any age using
the means of his powerful will, he has just moved a mouton in the hearts and families of men. When mountains move, the earth shakes. When you stand as close as we have to real life
miracles, you will get roughed up. Mountains are big and we are small. A moving mountain can crush us. Splinters fall from the cross. They travel a long distance and they pierce the skin - maybe
even the heart. And wrapped in this risk and danger is God's embrace and promise to work all things (even evil ones) to the good of those who love him."
'Because we are Christ's we know that children are not
grafted into a family to resolve our fertility problems or to boost our egos or to complete our family pictures or because we match color or race or nation- status. We know, because we are
Christ's, that adoption is a miracle. In a spiritual sense, it is a miracle at the center of the Christian life. We who are adopted by God are those given a new heart, a
"Anything worth doing will take time and cost you
something...We have decided that we are not inconvenience by the inconvenience... our plans are not sacred."
"But adoption is a complex paradoxical event that combines
loss, brokenness, and rejection with gain, connection and embrace. No child asks to be adopted. No child asks for incompetent or rejecting birth parents. No child asks to be constantly told how
'lucky' he is to be adopted. Wanted or not, adoption always starts with loss. Adoption always combines ambiguous loss with unrequested gain. An adopted child faces this paradox - this ambiguous grief- at
each developmental stage. His or her family must choose to either welcome the complexity or make the child go it alone. We choose to walk alongside our children, even as we don't always
understand how deep or how raw the complexity rests. This journey is frightful."
"Adoption is not just a Christian metaphor or the process by which we become parents: adoption into Christianity is the process by which we claim our heritage."
"Learning to be refreshed in the context of intense labor is important spiritual work."
"God truly gave us what we needed. When Christ was at the center, we learned to draft' off of the word the way cyclist draft off of another cyclist during a long race."
"When Christ is at the center of our marriage, we have been able to maintain a Christ household that ministers to others."
"Desiring children can be a noble pursuit, if it's not God's will then it is simply a more sanctified form of covetousness."
Birth parents that gravitate toward private adoption generally relinguish their own parental rights. Birth parents that choose private adoption usually know their limits and receive the counsel and support that they need to come to this painful and sacrificial decision. Chidlren in the fost care system have birth parents who do not know their limits. They try to parent beyond their means. Some are criminally neglectful and abusive; others are mentally ill or themselves victims of prisons of poverty, abuse, neglect, drugs, and dysfunction. The parental rights of birth parents whose children end up in foster care are usually terminated by a judge, a process that requires documentation over time of abuse or neglect. This lengthy and invasive process can eat up whole childhoods. It costs a lot of money to adopt a child through a private agency and it is 'free' to adopt a child from the public welfare system. At the same time, the moral and fiscal cost of retaining a person in the fost care system for a lifetime is enormous. The question isn't if any of us pays for the cost of orphanhood but when and with what kind of hope left over at the end."
"It is times like this that I am grateful that I am a reformed Christian. I know that I don't choose. God chooses. He rules and he overrules. We walk in faith and (at times) terror, but we walk nonetheless."
"We reminded ourselves that we are not called to covet other people's children."
"Betrayal and risk are at the heart of the gospel life."
Oh... I could go on and on... there are so many more great, thought provoking quotes. I highly recommend this book!
... Figuratively speaking!
We officially got word yesterday that Mi Familia, the governing adoption folks, accepted our dossier and has approved us to adopt. I can't even begin to explain the excitement and emotion that accompanied the news.
It was Novemeber of 2011 while we were still living in Mexico when we began this journey. We worked extremely hard for almost 6 month to turn in all the necessary paperwork and being that we were gathering paperwork from the United States while living in a foreign country, the challenges were that much more difficult, but we pushed through, continued to take steps of faith and left the results to our heavenly Father!
Exactly one year later, Novemeber of 2012, after moving back from our time in Mexico, we were anxiously waiting for Nicaragua to approve our dossier and we heard crushing news. Due to a number of our unique living circumstances and a situation that occured in Nicaragua a few years prior, we were asked to resubmit a new dossier with all our information coming from Ohio. At the time, we were still in the process of 'moving' so we couldn't even begin a new homestudy for 4 months! You can imagine our heartache.
Needless to say after months of emotionally recovering from the lost time, we started the journey again, completed a new homestudy, submitted a new dossier and started the waiting process again... with a much heavier heart knowing we had gotten this far before and then lost it all.
One year later, in late November of 2013... we were still waiting to hear. Would they accept our documents this time around?
Finally in January this year, we got word Mi Familia would be reviewing our dossier. We thought we would have heard something by mid Febuary since the counsel was meeting at the end of January/early February, but even as March turned the corner, we hadn't heard anything.
Finally, yesterday, March 14th, my heart sored as I opened up an email addressed from our agency coordinator- We had been approved! She enclosed a document that stated we had been approved by Mi Familia to adopt a girl 0-3 years of age!! As I shared the news via phone with family and friends, I held back tears of joys! It is like trying and trying and trying to get pregnant with high expecations and hopes.... and then one day, finally, the stick turns blue!
The unqiue thing about the stick turning blue in this case is that we don't know exactly where we are in the pregnancy... are we in the first trimester? Or are we in the third? Or maybe I'll be pregnant like an elephant for a year. We will wait in hopeful expecation for that call - "We have a child for your family!"... It could come next week. It could come next month. It could come next year.
We have learned to celebrate all steps in this journey... even the little ones. And after the two years we have had, this was a huge step to celebrate! We are still praying and trusting the Lord that we will get that call this year and before the clock strikes midnight on December 31, 2014, we will have brought home a precious baby girl who needs a home!
Thanks you for celebrating with us. Thank you for your faithful prayers! Thank you for your continued support. We still need your prayers as we seek to wait patiently, trusting Him for His prefect timing for the perfect daughter for our family.