Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I Just Want to Tell EVERYBODY!!

I was laughing to myself about how I just want to tell everybody I talk to about our adoption. When someone says "How are you?" My answer is "Great, did you hear that we are adopting from Liberia?" I somehow fit it into every conversation, even with strangers. My friend treated me to a pedicure on my birthday (which was AWESOME by the way) and even the girl working on my feet got to hear about our plans. A part of my heart and mind are always in Liberia.

I hope our son never doubts our love for him, but I think I'll print off this journal for him to read someday so he can see how excited I was for him to join our family.

On Friday, we will be going into the immigration office to get fingerprinted.. We are STILL waiting for New Jersey to send Pat's birth certificates a month later. (Anybody know anyone who works w/ birth certificates in NJ?????) We can't mail our dossier until we have them in hand. I know there is a purpose to delays, but I'm still praying BIRTH CERTIFICATES, BIRTH CERTIFICATES, BIRTH CERTIFICATES : ) I'll do a happy dance when they come in the mail.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Facing the Risks

I have been forced to do some soul searching after learning of some sad things that have happened to adoptive families from Acres of Hope this week. Yesterday, Donna had to call two families of first time parents, who were near the end of their adoption process, to inform them that the birthparents had changed their minds, and had reclaimed their children. My heart broke for the adoptive families and for the birthparents. One of the moms that reclaimed her two boys, still can't really provide adequately for her sons. She had to leave the baby at the orphanage because she can't nurse him, and took her older son home with her to a still uncertain future, but she just could not bear to let them go. What grief these mothers of Liberia must face when they find themselves unable to even feed their children. I also pictured these first time parents who had planned to adopt. I imagined their excitement, the decorated nurseries, the referral pictures on the fridge, and the hopes and dreams that died with a phone call.

I must admit that all of this came as a shock to me. Although not the reason why I was drawn to Liberia, I did find some comfort in thinking that in International adoption I would be adopting a true orphan and would not need to fear the emotional pain of a birthmom taking her child back. Later, I found out that sometimes the children are relinquished because of extreme poverty, not necessarily because they are true orphans, but I thought that the birthparents would have revoked their parental rights as part of leaving them in the orphanage. But would I want to keep a child from his mother, if his mother changed her mind or her circumstances changed? No! As a humanitarian organization, should Acres of Hope refuse to return children to their own parents? No! There are just no easy answers in situations such as these, and meanwhile, two families have to grieve the loss of the children they had opened their hearts to, dreamed of, planned for, and allowed themselves to love.

My soul searching came in the shocking realization that I am not free from the risk of miscarriage even in adoption. I have lost four babies already, can I risk the pain of losing a fifth? Some children die after they are referred because of illness or malnutrition. Some kids have birthparents who cannot let them go. I had to ask myself, "Can I risk loving and losing again?" As hard as it is to take that leap of faith, I can take the risk. I have to, because God has called me to obey him, and I trust completely in his sovereignty. I know without a doubt the truth of Romans 8:28, "that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." I love Him. I trust Him. I know that He has called us to this adoption and it is part of His purpose.

I have been thinking a lot about this excerpt about risk from the book "After the Dream Comes True" by Michelle Gardner:

John Piper, in his challenging book "Don't Waste Your Life," says, "Risk is right. And the reason is not because God promises success to all our ventures in his cause. There is no promise that every effort for the cause of God will succeed, at least in the short run. John the Baptist risked calling King Herod an adulterer when he divorced his own wife in order to take his brother's wife. For this John got his head chopped off. And he had done right to risk his life for the cause of God and truth. Jesus had no criticism for him, only the highest praise (Matthew 11:11).

He goes on to say, "And now what about you? Are you caught in the enchantment of security, paralyzed from taking any risks for the cause of God? Or have you been freed by the power of the Holy Spirit from the mirage of Egyptian safety and comfort? Do you men ever say with Joab, 'For the sake of the name, I'll try it! And may the LORD do what seems good to him'? Do you women ever say with Esther, 'For the sake of Christ, I'll try it! And if I perish, I perish?"

So risk is right, if undertaken for the right reasons. Not for self-exultation, nor to become fixated on self-denial, nor to try to win favor with God. Piper adds, 'Every loss we risk in order to make much of Christ, God promises to restore a thousandfold with his all-satisfying fellowship."

So I guess, I'm with Esther. If my heart gets broken in the process of obeying You, Lord, my heart gets broken. I will not fear, but will keep following Your lead, despite the risk. I can trust You with my heart. You've already proven to me that You are trustworthy. And love is worth the risk.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Passport Update and Update on Our Progress

Awhile ago, I posted how many families had been waiting and waiting to bring home their adopted children because Liberia had stopped issuing passports. Recently, Donna from Acres of Hope asked everyone to pray that February would be the miracle month for passports. I guess Patty Anglin fought hard for the AOH families while she was in Monrovia, because yesterday they received 19 passports and are hoping for a total of 40 within the next few days. There is much celebrating going on in the adoption world today! They got their miracle month after all.

I am so happy for these kids and their waiting families. It has been an agonizing wait, especially since there was no clear answer of when the passports would be available. I have to admit that I am selfishly relieved and hopeful that we will avoid this hang-up in our process. I've prepared myself for it just to be on the safe side.

We are still waiting for Pat's birth certificates from New Jersey, but I am so much more peaceful about the wait now. When we get them, we'll be able to mail our dossier. Our home study report is being signed by the director at the agency, and then we'll be able to turn it in to immigration and wait for their approval. When dossier is at Acres of Hope, and US immigration gives us a pre-approval, we can start waiting for our referral. Please pray for God's timing for the birth certificates to arrive and for the immigration approval. I remind myself over and over again that I want the timing to be perfect, not necessarily fast, so we are matched with just the right little boy.

Last night, I had a little freak out session of fear. As I crawled into bed, I read a devotion in a Women's Devotional Bible. It talked about Jochebed, the mother of Moses. It talked about her faith in action and how her obedience cost her so much but "undaunted, this mother waited in expectation of deliverance for her son." I read, "God had a plan for this boy- and his plan called for the cooperation of a mother who would dare to go against the edict of a mighty, godless ruler. The same Lord has a plan for your son or daughter." I began to dream about what kind of plans God might have for our son. I believe strongly that God does have a special plan for our son. I finished the devotion, reading "The same Lord has a plan for your son or daughter. he will take note of our efforts to deliver our own children. 'Nursing them' with the Word of God; 'bathing them' in prayer, who knows? We may be entrusted with a Moses." I went to bed last night so excited, instead of afraid. I'm excited to see the plans God has for our son unfold.

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11

Monday, February 19, 2007

Still Your Soul In Silence

This song spoke volumes to me today, so I thought I'd share it. I hope it will speak to you in your own area of life where you need to be reminded to still your soul in silence. For me it is an uncertain future and an inability to control the timing and details of what is ahead for us. I listened to this song and read the lyrics a couple of times to get all that God had in it for me. This weekend I heard from friends and family members who are struggling with a variety of stressors and life issues. This song is dedicated to the ones I love. : )

Still Your Soul In Silence
by Don Francisco

In the lives of those that follow there is going to come a time
When rhythm starts to stumble and singsong swallows rhyme
When imaginations crumble, false foundations turn to dust
Towers fall to piles of stones and girders into rust
’Till you let the blood of Jesus wash the rubble from your mind
And your eyes again can see the one you almost left behind
When theology's in tatters and reason is absurd
Still your soul in silence and listen for His word

So many turns, so many ways, so many voices cry
Standing at the crossroads watching time go flashing by
Indecision paralyzes, it's the fear of choosing wrong
But waiting is a step itself, and your wondering too long
So again you search the scripture, and again you ask your friends
But last of all the One who’s known the beginning from the end
In the clamor and confusion and the blindness of your choice
Still your soul in silence, and listen for His voice

Rome is full of ruins, Babylon is gone
The temple's just a memory that some still dwell upon
But deep within a place that sword and veil had once denied
A tree of life is growing, living waters flow beside
Far beyond all human reason and words upon a page
His glory lightens all who fret their hour upon this stage
To know Him is our freedom, to hear Him is release
To fix your heart and soul on Him is rest and perfect peace

Friday, February 16, 2007

In the Arms of Angels

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3

My woes about missing birth certificates seem so insignificant this morning. The staff of Acres of Hope have won over my heart, and I am grieving with them this morning as they grieve the losses of two precious children. Earlier this week I asked you to pray for Diamond and the Barber family who had hoped to adopt him. Last night, he passed away. This news came after hearing that the founder of Acres of Hope, Patty Anglin, had lost her daughter, Ari. Ari had been in hospice care, but her loss was not expected so soon, and Patty has been in Liberia working at the orphanage. Patty has to bury little Diamond and then return home to bury her own daughter. Please pray for the Anglin family and the Barber family for comfort and peace.

I know the grief of loss too well. I also know the reality of the comfort of Jesus in loss like this. It is something that can not be explained, only experienced. He truly is the Prince of Peace and the Bible says He is acquainted with grief. He knows our grief better than any other can. The way that He carried me, and continues to carry me, will be something that I will cherish forever. I am also so thankful for the reality of heaven. My hope is real, not a myth, and I like to think of Diamond and Ari playing with my David, Micah, James, and Sarah. I'm sorry to have to share said news, but I'm so thankful that it isn't sad for Diamond and Ari, just for those left to the ugliness of grief. The kids now have joy unimaginable and new perfect bodies.

This is a link to an article written in 2001 about the Anglin family and their special adopted children. http://www.foundati onforlargefamili es.com/anglin. html There is a little on Ari as well. This family amazes me and also comforts me that we have made a very wise decision to work with Acres of Hope. I know you will find these stories fascinating!

This is the email that Donna just sent out in memory of Diamond:

"Thank-you for prayers:

My husband and I spent almost 2 hours last nite talking about Diamond and all the dreams we had for him. We decided to call him Brice Diamond Barber. Fell asleep about 2 am- got a call at 3am in the morning.Our beloved Diamond's heart gave out and he passed away. Patty is burying him today before she leaves to come home to bury her daughter.

In dedication of our Beautiful Diamond-

We All want to make our place in this world
We All want our voices to be heard
Everyone wants a chance to be someone
We all have dreams we need to dream
But sweeter than any star you can reach
Is when you reach and find you've found someone
You'll hold this world's most priceless thing
The greatest gift this life can bring
If you can look back and know
You were Loved.

You were loved by someone
Touched by someone
Held by someone
Meant something to someone
Loved somebody
Touched somebody's heart along the way
You can look back and say... You were loved!

You can have Diamonds in your hand
Have all the riches in the land
Without love do you really have anything?
When someone cares that you're alive
When someone finds their world in your eyes
Then you'll know you've found all you need
You'll hold this world's most priceless prize
The sweetest treasure in this world
If you can look back and say... You were loved!

You were loved by someone
Touched by someone
Held by someone
Meant something to someone
Loved somebody
Touched somebody's heart along the way
You can look back and say...You were Loved!"

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Being Present to the Moment

It seems like all of my life, I have lived like life is a track and field event. I keep living for the next hurdle to get over. I'll really start living as soon as I have a boyfriend, after I graduate from college, after I get married, as soon as I'm a mother, when this school year is over, when the baby's born, when this adoption is complete, etc., etc. But what about all the moments in between?

A line from a devotion that I posted in January keeps coming to my mind "But instead of passively waiting, they were actively looking to the Lord each day, what Nouwen calls being “present to the moment.” (See Post from January 14th "Waiting")

I feel like I need to focus on what is true about right now. What does God have for me in this moment, right now? I am finding that He has been asking me to slow down and see the work that He is doing all around me and to be still and know that He is bigger than all that I worry about, and that His delays are purposeful. My job is not to hurry to the next hurdle, but to savor the life I have right now, to grow in my intimacy with Him, and to allow him to use me now, tomorrow will come soon enough.

My big worry lately has been that our adoption process has stalled while we wait for New Jersey to send us Pat's birth certificate. Mine came from Washington immediately, but NJ has been such a pain! We had so much momentum going with the paperwork process and now we have been waiting and waiting and the emotional excitement seems to have died down a little bit. All of these irrational fears have set in, "Oh no, now we aren't really going to follow through." or "What if we take so long, someone else will get matched with the little boy that we were supposed to adopt?" (I feel silly even admitting this one!) Someone in my bible study this morning said, "Maybe you would have been matched with the wrong boy if the birth certificate had come right away. Maybe you would have moved through the process too quickly." I want to hurry, hurry, hurry and get to the next hurdle I have set before me, "THE REFERRAL" when I get to see his face and know his name and know how old he is. I want to rush and get this done! But why? Isn't it enough to know that the God of the universe knows him by name, is concerned about his welfare, knows how many hairs are on his head, and has a beautiful plan for him to join our family at just the right time? Who am I to determine when this should happen? What do I know?

And what a great day today was! I had fun with my girls. Amy snuggled up and fell asleep on my lap. Karissa got all excited when she discovered that she could sound out words she didn't know she knew and was so proud to surprise me that she had picked up the upstairs without being asked. I got to sit and drink coffee and have fun with the ladies in my bible study and had friends over tonight for our Home Group study. I am so excited to have our little boy join our family, but I don't want to walk faster than the One I am trying to follow.

Sorry....I think this post has been more of a sermon to myself. : ) Chill out Becky!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Please Pray for Diamond

I have an urgent prayer request for a little boy named Diamond. Diamond is a two-year-old little boy who lives in the Acres of Hope orphanage. He has been battling pneumonia and the effects of malnutrition since he arrived at the orphanage. Yesterday, they didn't think he would make it through the night, and they expect tonight to be a tough road, too.

I have seen pictures of Diamond. He looks so precious. My heart is heavy thinking about him. From the emails I've read, I can tell that the staff at AOH love Diamond very much. The woman who runs the Acres of Hope office in Wisconsin has been hoping to adopt Diamond, and I'm sure she could use your prayers for comfort and peace right now also.

I trust that God can do the miraculous. He is the defender of the weak and the Great Physician. Thank You for praying with me.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

My Paper Pregnancy

My friend, Jennifer, visited with me yesterday afternoon, and we talked about what she calls my "paper pregnancy." Jen and her husband adopted their daughter from China, and it was so good to spend time with someone who understands me and the roller coaster of emotions that I have been feeling. It was good to hear that my feelings of impatience, fear, insecurities, jealousy when other people get their referrals, my desire to think about and talk about nothing else, among many other emotions, are all "normal" and shared by many "expecting" adoptive moms.

I love how God connects us with people to support us through the different seasons of our lives. When I was grieving over my miscarriages, it was miraculous how many women showed up who could comfort me because they had been through it themselves. Now that I'm going through the long paper pregnancy, God is again miraculously setting me up with a great support system of people who are in the process or farther along who can give me wisdom and commiserate with the tough stuff.

One example of this is an email I got from a friend of mine from Junior High. She found me on classmates.com and wrote to say hi and touch base. When I emailed her back, I mentioned our adoption. Just this afternoon, I opened a new email from her with the subject line of "You Won't Believe This!" She and her husband are in the process of adopting from Ethiopia, and she had been praying for someone to talk to who could relate to the adoption process. I think it is so neat that we have been able to reconnect through email right at a time when we are both needing adoption support. God is so good.

Again and again, God has been telling me to slow down, to wait for His timing, and to really use this precious time to grow in Him, to prepare for the change, and to prepare my family, and to diligently pray for our son. I'll use another post to comment on some of the great things He's teaching me about this time of preparation.

This paper pregnancy is such a privilege and so exciting. It is hard for many people to relate to and get excited about, just because it's not what they have experienced. That's OK, I understand. I'm just so thankful that I am getting to experience it, and just like the early stages of pregnancy, it is the most "real" to me. I'm excited to see how God is going to work in the next year.

I'm also thankful for supportive friends and family. On the adoption yahoo group, people have been sharing painful experiences of unsupportive friends, family, and churches. They've shared examples of racism in their own families, and some of the persecution that they have faced in this process. It has been heartbreaking. I am so grateful for my support system and that we are not facing any negativism, racism, or prejudice against adoption. I am learning more and more how adoption reflects God's heart toward all of us as He adopts us into His family, and I am so privileged to be living through an example of His great love for the helpless, and a reminder of how He has adopted me.

"Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you." James 1:27

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Our Son's First Teddy and Blankie

Last night we were at our friends' house so we could babysit for them while they went out on a date. It's great that our good friends are also our neighbors and have kids the same age. Makes for a great babysitting co-op! : )

Before they left, their daughter spilled the beans and told me "Mommy is making you a teddy and blankie for your new baby." Because the surprise was spoiled, Daiquiri brought out her gift for me, and I burst into tears. (As you can tell from the last two posts...I'm a crier)

She had crotcheted a beautiful teddy bear and matching blanket for our new son. The teddy bears are a tradition around here for each new baby and it meant so much to me, like a promise that it really is going to be my turn soon. My little boy will be coming home....he already has a special blankie and teddy!

I've mentioned Daiquiri several times on this blog. She is such a special friend, and as you can see from the photos, very talented as well. We tease her about being Martha Stewart without the criminal history. : )

Isn't he a cute teddy?!!? I can't wait to give him to our little boy. See what I mean about the amazing friends we have? We are so blessed!