Sunday, August 28, 2011

hope you're hungry

Deep breath.

I have wanted to write about this for some time to hopefully help others who are navigating the tumultuous waters of international adoption. I have imagined that reading this will be like going to one of those restaurants where your meal is free if you eat the whole cow.

So, hope you're sitting down and hungry ;)

When we were engaged, we believed that God would use adoption as an avenue to one day grow our family. We laid that desire and calling before the Lord trusting His timing and direction.

While I was pregnant with Elyana we both felt a stirring and the desire growing. We did hours of research and asked unending questions from those who had experience.

Our first hurdle: International or Domestic?

God has a unique, ordained plans for each of us. For us, we felt drawn to Africa. One of the reasons is the vast need. The millions of orphans without a chance and destined for the slums is one of the undeniable reasons for us.

Also, there are many African countries where there are no adoption laws in place in order for someone to adopt. There are some people who have resulted to "alternative" types of adoptions in order to rescue children out of horrific situations. Uganda is a relatively "adoption friendly" African country. At last official count, there are 2.5 million orphans in Uganda, 45 percent of which due to AIDS. Uganda has laws that make the process fairly clear and even some of the judges in their country are pro-adoption. (There are some that are not and we are joining others in praying for their hearts.)

Second Hurdle: Independent or Agency- lead?

We found that there were many people who had done an independent adoption from Uganda. What that essentially means is that you don't go through an agency, but rather do all the leg work, make the contacts, and hire a Ugandan attorney to handle the legal papers.

Joe enjoys a challenge, doesn't mind travel arrangements, and I like to make contacts so he thought it would be best for us to go out on our own. We also thought we could save a few thousand dollars doing it ourselves. We found an attorney who had several positive references. The contacts were unreliable, the information sketchy, and the way in which you locate your child was heart wrenching and labor intensive.

In the midst of that process, we attended the Together for Adoption conference. If you are wondering how to be involved with the global orphan crisis or about adoption then I recommend their national conference. This year its in Phoenix. It addressed so many of our questions, fears, challenges, and ponderings in a safe, gospel-centered environment. While we were there we met representatives from Generations Adoption agency. They had recently refined their Uganda program and had a lot of encouraging relationships in country.

Joe was still set on going independently. I just sat back and prayed wanting God to work and lead our family.

A month later we went on a family vacation to Colorado still chewing and processing on the next steps for our family. We didn't discuss it much but there were lots of long, comfortable silences. Time spent together with our Bibles open, mouths shut.

Nine days later we pulled out of our condo parking lot, and Joe non-chalantly says, "Lets contact Generations when we get home." I am thankful for his leadership.

Generations has been one of the most precious blessings to our family. Their staff is courteous, professional, loving, kind, considerate, prompt to respond, and desires God's best for each family. (They also do domestic adoptions too if you headed that direction and I have heard the same reviews from people who have adopted with them domestically).

We also love their contacts in Uganda, their babies home is under the umbrella of a healthy, local church that is involved with orphan care and prevent. We also appreciate the way they run their babies home. They have continued, quality communication about the children within their care. They have full disclosure with whatever information they have regarding each child. They are also committed to ensuring that each one of their adopting parents is as equipped and fully prepared as possible. Such a blessing!

Hurdle 3: Paperwork and Training

January 2011 we began the process and by March, we had finished our training. We were really hoping that by the end of 2011 we would be holding our baby.

Then in March we moved to Austin. You don't realized how rooted you've become until you're uprooted. The move was much more disruptive than we anticipated.

We were still set for having our home study in May.

As the day grew closer we both felt more and more unsettled. Between Joe's new job, adjusting to our new home, building our house, leaving our BCS community/family, getting engaged in our new church, challenges our children were having with the new place, and the fact we didn't think it would be wise to do the home study twice... we are waiting. Waiting until our house is finished to move forward with our home study then onto the next steps.

So that's where we are. Waiting.

Where we all are, in some way, right?

But every day I have to lay it down.

Lay down my control. Trust Him. Lay down my timing. Trust Him with the day at hand. Lay down my desires. Trust Him with my current children. Lay down my unbelief. Trust Him with my children I don't know yet. Trust Him.

All is grace. I'm focusing on what God is doing in my and our children here preparing us for the work among our family and ministry in this community.

So thankful for all of you encouraging and loving us along the way. We can't wait to meet our baby and to get to introduce the precious soul to you too.

If you have any questions or if you're going through the process and I can pray for you in any way, please contact me melissa at heartlinesranch dot com

Bless you!

He is our firm foundation

When Joe and I were courting, I distinctly remembering reading this precious children's book to some dear little ones I love....

It spoke about the character of the two builders and ironically the wise builder's name was "Joe." When I turned the last page, there were tears in my eyes. The two little brown eyed children looked up at me puzzled as to why that book could possibly bring me to tears. I knew in my heart God was speaking to me about Joseph Daniel's character, about who he is as a man, and the gift of a husband he would be to me.

Building our house has been symbolic of so much of what God has done and is doing in our family. How he is building the foundation for one of the vehicles on which the "works He prepared in advanced for us to do" will be accomplished.

I have learned so much about the building process and it has been fascinating for the kids and I have the opportunity to watch it first hand. To prep everything for the foundation to be formed took a few weeks. First, the men set forms, then they dug the beams (prevent shifting), placed steel (prevent settling), and run the plumbing (so we can potty).

Before we poured, Joe and the kids searched the scriptures and inscribed them on stones that were placed in our foundation.

We daily surrender it all to Him. Its by His grace we are here and we desire to labor only by His might, for His purposes.

May this house be a house for Your glory.

Friday, August 12, 2011

wonder of it all

Elyana, your 18 months has been for me a joy and a redemption of God's design for femininity. You are joyful and you are learning how to express your emotion. You are strong and you are learning how to follow authority. You are servant hearted and you are learning how to do all things domestic.

You flit about the house doing each task as if an act of worship. You giggle as you put every single utensil in its intended slot. You meticulously place each article of clothing in the dryer as if you were robing royalty with parcel. You take toys out and "cleam up" as if you were preparing a home for kings. Your heart for the domestic continually reminds me to find joy and thanksgiving in the mundane (and dreaded) items around our home.

Dare I say you still remain a mama's girl and mama doesn't protest one bit. I am soaking up every ounce. I pray that God would always keep our hearts knitted together regardless of the plans He has for you.

You have all kinds of things to say that make us all chuckle with amusement. A few of those:

You loved to be out in the "jardin" and picking the "omatoes." You enjoy riding the golf cart and doing "blass off" with daddy. Your favorite thing to do outside is to "sfing."

Lets be honest. You would go anywhere, do anything as long as you were in this little guy's shadow. The sun rises and sets with Mr. Isaac. "Where I-zeek go?"

In this family, you are the one who loves Madi the most. hands down.

A few of her favorite foods are every kind of fruit under the sun, turkey, "cacker," "fruit bar", "cado" (avocado), "cumbers" (cucumbers), and her all time favorite is 'smoomies."

And the shirt comes off whenever they are served.

Her favorite activity is to "nuggle" and she likes to do it all throughout the day. It is such a blessing to this mama.

As you have approached 18 months, the firecracker has come out too. You love for Isaac to chase you around and even tackle you (to mama's disapproval). You like to be heard, have been known to bite when things don't go how you like, know how to fiercely say "no," and you are working on being gentle with babies.

I see God's sweet grace and you just melt my heart when...

you sing in your bed at night

sit in the back seat saying, "daddy, i love you daddy" "isaac, I love you isaac" "mommy, I love you mommy"

giggle with glee at the tiniest things.

sit still while isaac "fixes" your hair

when you share your most favorite things

request "Jesus" song

call the Bible the "b-i-b-i"

when you tell mommy "forgib you" when mommy asks for forgiveness when I'm grumpy

I love you, sweet princess.