Thursday, March 29, 2007

Donna's Email

In my last post I referred to an email from Donna Barber, the office manager at the Acres of Hope office in Wisconsin. She just returned from Liberia and has a lot of stories to share about her trip. She wanted to explain to the waiting families why there is such an unpredictable wait, so she shared some stories of her trip to help families better understand. I asked her if I could post this email from her, because I think it offers a really unique perspective to the whole process, and also a good explanation of why I don't have a really clear timeline for our adoption. It is totally unpredictable.

Here's Donna's email:

While I was in Liberia the last week; over half of our staff was thrown in jail for child trafficking. Right out of the blue. What led to this? Well AOH took in a 6mo baby who was very sick and tried to help him. He was immediately admitted into a hospital. Unfortunately they could not save him. So AOH called the father and explained to him what happened. We did not at that moment yet have the death certificate or the medical report so the father immediately assumed we had sold the baby. After all we didn't have a body. (You have to bury dead bodies immediately due to the heat there) So he went to one of the embassy's there and told them we had sold his baby and couldn't show proof of him so that embassy called the police and a few hours later- they were all in jail. Mind you no one came and asked about the situation. Even they just assumed the father was telling the truth. This is why Adoption education is SO important as well.

So the country director had to go down to the jail that night and pay to get his staff out of jail. They went to court the next day and provided the necessary documents. Needless to say you had to be there to believe it. We were all shocked.(although we shouldn't have been- this is Liberia after all) There is still a few loose ends with this and it cost us several days work to clear it up. That is why nothing happened on adoptions those days.

Then there were a few days where I spent all day with some of the staff just trying to get very sick girls into a hospital that would and could treat them. We would get home at 10:30 at night. Could you imagine it taking all day just to get your child to a hospital and get some treatment? This is why adoptions didn't happen those days.

Then there is the internet- why cant we get info and pics when one requests them. Well most of the time I was there the internet that AOH paid 2,000 to have in their office worked maybe 1/4 of the time and it was slow. And sending a picture? Well that was down right LOOOONG. It took all night to send a family their adoption documents. There are 12 pages. Who stayed up most of the night sending them? The country director did and he needs to be in court the next day representing parents for their adoptions. How about getting a medical? Those take even longer to get if we need to provide one for a family who is adoption a special needs. It can take up to 2 months to get a doctor to release what we need.

And then there is the investigations into the children in order for them to be available for adoption. So many times we make a referral and the parents change their mind or their story. What can we do to protect the adoptive parents? We do more extensive investigations. These take much longer and more visits. So If a family has to wait longer for their referral; it is with good reason. Some of you can attest to what it is like to lose a referral. It is devastating to a family. We won't be able to prevent them all but it should help cut down on some.

We are told daily that our passports will be out just to find out at the very end of the day that there will be no passports and the reason is usually quite lame. Appointments are tough. When I have an appointment a 3:00; I am pretty sure I will have that meeting at 3:00. Not so there. You may have a meeting at 3:00 but it could be 5, or 6, or not at all. And you find this out after you guess what - Wait!

It is also getting harder to get an embassy appointment at the drop of a hat. They are busier too, so when a family ask - how come I don't have an appointment sooner and why can't I travel now? It is because many times we can't get you in right away. We are at the mercy of the embassy and what they allow. We don't control this.

I must say that each time i go to Liberia- I learn many more things.I was very impressed with office staff and how they run their different departments. And AOH just hired on full time a nurse from India who is just wonderful! I can't say enough about her. The kids will be benefiting greatly from having a nurse available to us all the time. Not to mention that we have another nurse coming on staff in a couple of months from the states.

AOH just bought a new building just down the street from our offices now that will be the new guest housing for when families come. We have appreciated the Sheppard's opening their home to families but it is trying at times to have guest just about every week in your home. ( Anyone here do that on a regular basis?) We also have many wonderful foster families helping out with the newborns who are doing a great job. All this is what your adoption funds are paying for. People have asked- what is the difference between AOH and other agencies? What I have listed is it. This is not the norm for agencies in Liberia and as always AOH is paving the way to set the standards by which adoptions should be handled. Especially in a country where they are still learning about adoption and its benefits.I hope I have not offended anyone by this email or feel that I was in judgement to you. I thought it would be helpful to info what I have learned and hope this helps you with the wait process and understanding why it is what it is. And as always- when I ask Patty why it is the way it is in Liberia; she responds: "who knows why it is- this is Liberia after all!" Right!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Preparing Me for the Unpredictability Ahead

Anyone who has read my previous posts, knows that I have been so impatient to get our adoption process going again. We have been waiting for a long time for Pat's birth certificates to come and haven't been able to turn in our dossier because we are waiting for these documents. We can't have a referral until all of our paperwork is turned in, and I've been so frustrated with this delay. Today, I got a little clue as to why God might be delaying the coming of those documents. He's teaching me that there is a bumpy road ahead when we start dealing with the Liberian side of our adoption process, and I've got to be OK with the unpredictability ahead.

Today, Donna, from Acres of Hope, sent out a great email explaining all of the behind the scenes work and unexpected problems that the staff has to respond to in Liberia while we are waiting for our adoptions to be complete. It was humbling to read about all that goes on there, and all that the staff deals with on a daily basis. I'm amazed they are able to get anything done with the conditions they work in. After reading her email, I was reminded that I need to sit back, relax, and trust in God's Sovereignty over our situation. Liberia does not have a "well oiled machine" adoption process. It is a third world country, and I have to be OK with knowing that it will be impossible to predict when our son will be home. The wait that we've had waiting for the birth certificates is probably just the beginning and it has been teaching me so much.

Donna asked everyone some great questions today in her email:

"Maybe we should be asking ourselves, 'Am I in God's waiting room for a reason? There is a lot to be learned there. Are we above learning what he has to teach about patience, his timing, attitudes, compassion, and etc...? Is there reason beyond my understanding or control?' "

So whenever anyone asks from now on, "When will your adoption be complete?" I'll just shrug my shoulders and smile and say, "God knows."

I was telling a friend of mine, in an email, that I always struggle with impending change. Even if I'm really happy with the way things are right now, just knowing that change is coming kills me. I just want to hurry up and get there so I can know, good or bad, what it is going to be like.

Throughout these last two years, as I've felt like my life was falling apart, I've experienced God talking to my heart in a way I had never before experienced. His message has been "TRUST ME." Over and over again, He's said this to me. I was thinking about how the words "trust me" can be used manipulatively, like a teenage boyfriend telling his girlfriend, "Don't you trust me, baby?" But when God says, "Trust me." He isn't manipulative, He truly is TRUSTWORTHY. And once again, He's telling me, "Trust Me, Becky."

"Trust Me that the birth certificates will come at just the right time."

"Trust Me that I started this process in Your heart, and I won't abandon You in it."

"Trust Me to prepare You for what's ahead."

"Trust Me to match You with just the right child."

"Trust Me to time things perfectly, for everyone involved."

"Trust Me as I stretch you and refine you so you can be the woman, wife, and mother that you long to be."

"Trust Me that I am intimately involved in your life and in every detail of this adoption."

So I guess I'm stuck in God's waiting room for awhile, but I know it will be good for me. : )

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


It has been awhile since I've posted because I haven't had anything truly exciting to share. I felt compelled to write tonight, even though nothing has really changed. I think some rambling would be therapeutic for me, so here it goes....Recent thoughts that have gone through my mind:

  • We're still waiting on paperwork for our dossier and seem to be stuck. The momentum that we had going in January as we raced to get through our home study documents has fizzled. Thankfully, the call on my heart has not fizzled, in fact, my heart is growing in love for our son. I met a friend for lunch the other day and told her of the fears that I've been dealing with. I've read some accounts of other adoptions lately that have left me nervous and fearful. I told her, "What if I can't love him?" She answered, "But you already do." That is so true. Every day, I love him more. I'm thankful that this process is slow. It has given my heart more and more time to prepare and grow in love. It's weird how I can almost picture him, but not quite. It's similar to the feeling of having a word on the tip of your tongue that you can't quite remember. He's very real in my imagination. I'm glad that God sees him for real.

  • I was frustrated on Sunday about the stalled process when I visited my friend who has adopted from China. I whined to her, "Am I ever really going to have a son?" She shared with me how she used to feel the same way as she watched other families' adoptions completed, feeling like it was never really going to happen for her. Then she smiled and said, "But it really does happen. Noelle is home." I needed the reminder that this really is going to happen, just not on my timetable.

  • I love how my heart is also growing for the nation of Liberia. I have been watching videos on "You Tube" about Liberia, and I'm amazed at the love that I have for the people and children that I see. I think that they are amazingly beautiful. I have been looking at pictures and videos of other countries and I continue to have compassion, but I am not moved like I am for Liberia. I know that God has clearly confirmed over and over again that our son is in Liberia. It is so nice to have that peace and not be doubting whether or not we chose the right country to adopt from. It is strange to have so little control over who he will be, but my heart is at peace about it knowing that God has already selected our son for us and is directing us to him. Every time I get this ridiculous panic that other people are ahead of us in the process and might receive the referral that we were meant to have, I know I must make God shake His head and say, "Oh, Becky, you of little faith. Have you been with Me this long not to trust me now?"

  • When we were doing our home study assignments, one of the assignments was to draw a picture of your future child the way that you imagine them. I am going to try to scan in and post the picture I drew. I'm a little shy about my lack of artistic ability, but I thought it might be fun to be able to compare what are son really looks like to the drawing I made for our homework. When I drew this, I thought we would be adopting two little boys. I'm not closed to that idea either, I have just felt like God has put it on our heart to be focused on one for right now. I'm really curious to see how God leads our family. ("Curious" is a better word than "impatient" to see, which is more of the truth, heehee).

  • Wow, this is getting long, but there are just a few more thoughts I wanted to write about before I forget them. God has been reminding me again to trust in His delays and in the wait. I was struck today about how much I have to do and learn before this adoption is complete. I really needed to be reminded to stop living for a future event and to return to living day by day with gratitude for what I have. My life has been so sweet lately. I believe that there are seasons in our lives, and I feel like I am emerging from a long winter into a really sweet, beautiful spring. I just need to enjoy it and quit worrying about speeding up to get to the next hurdle. There is plenty to enjoy right now. I have been having so much fun working out and trying to get in shape. I've been enjoying my girls and this beautiful weather we've had lately. And I have a lot to do to prepare myself spiritually before our adoption is complete. I just needed ANOTHER reminder to chill out and go with God's flow.

  • One of the things that I want to be concentrating on in my time of waiting is really praying for my children. I have been praying through a list of spiritual virtues, one for each day of the month, for my kids. I also really want to be diligent in praying for our son's healing. Everything I've read about adoption reminds me that every adopted child will have experienced loss and grief. I want to use this time to begin praying for his healing right now from all that he has endured. I don't need to wait until he gets home to start covering him in prayer and seeking God for his healing, God sees him now, so I want to spend more time lifting him up and praying for the Great Physician to heal him from any emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual hurts he has. I'm also praying that God will prepare all of us to be a family and that the transition, adjustment, attachment, and bonding will be miraculous. I have so much to pray about, read about, to do, and so many areas in me that need to grow and mature, I need to be thankful that God is giving me so much time to get ready. My paper pregnancy will be long, but good for me, and on God's perfect timetable.

Good night for me, almost good morning for you. I pray that you will have a very blessed day. You are growing in my heart everyday. I can't see you or hold you or protect you, but I trust Jesus to do those things for me. I'm already your Mommy in my heart. I love you.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Song I'm Singing Today

We are a moment, You are forever
Lord of the ages, God before time;
We are a vapor, You are eternal,
Love everlasting, reigning on high….

Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!
Highest praises, honor and glory,
Be unto Your Name!

We are the broken, You are the healer,
Jesus, Redeemer, mighty to save
You are the love song, we’ll sing forever,
Bowing before You, blessing Your Name…

( I think this is from Revival in Belfast)

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Putting God in a Box

Four times this weekend, God has given me major food for thought about how I want to limit him in this adoption journey. I have a box that I keep trying to keep Him in, and somehow, I'm feeling that He may have a different idea.

The first was this quote that I found on the same blog that I found the orphanage pictures. It comes from the book "Seizing Your Divine Moment" :

I am convinced that God longs to put His fingerprint in our lives, to act on our behalf and surprise us with His magnificence. I am equally convinced that most of the time we do not give God a context in which to do this. The mundane is not really the best context for a miracle. When we play it safe, we squeeze God out of the formula. If we go only where we know and do what we're certain will succeed, we remove our need for God. Whenever we respond to God's invitation, our need for God becomes heightened. Whenever we take on a God-sized challenge, self-sufficiency is no longer an option.
The second was a quote in a devotion that I read on the Proverbs 31 Ministries website. When a women who's best friend and husband had died, was asked how she was really doing, she answered, "I have stood in front of my Sunday school class and taught the sufficiency of God for 30 years. If I can’t live that out now, what does it really mean?”

The third was a movie Pat and I watched last night.....Little Miss Sunshine.....weird movie, wouldn't recommend it, although I did laugh my guts out at the end. Anyway, there was a part in the movie where a teenage boy is talking to his uncle about wishing he could sleep off his teenage years. Here's their conversation:

Dwayne: I wish I could just sleep until I was eighteen and skip all this crap-high school and everything-just skip it.
Frank: You know Marcel Proust?
Dwayne: He's the guy you teach.
Frank: Yeah. French writer. Total loser. Never had a real job. Unrequited love affairs. Gay. Spent 20 years writing a book almost no one reads. But he's also probably the greatest writer since Shakespeare. Anyway, he uh... he gets down to the end of his life, and he looks back and decides that all those years he suffered, Those were the best years of his life, 'cause they made him who he was. All those years he was happy? You know, total waste. Didn't learn a thing. So, if you sleep until you're 18... Ah, think of the suffering you're gonna miss. I mean high school? High school-those are your prime suffering years. You don't get better suffering than that.

I don't know why that part of the movie stuck with me so much, probably the idea that suffering and pain are not the enemy. Although the movie probably wouldn't attribute it to this, I believe this is a biblical concept.

I wrote in an earlier post that I am hoping for a baby or a toddler, or at least a boy who is younger than Amy. Because our girls are so young and still needing me so much, we also put on our application that we weren't open to any special needs. This past week on the yahoo groups, there have been discussions about children who have special needs that are desperately needing homes. It got me thinking about where my heart is at. If God said, "I have an older boy for you than you are thinking." or "I have a little boy for you with special needs," how would I feel? Would I obey? How would I know if God was leading us in that direction? Regardless of how God leads, I think the questions are good for me to ask myself. Am I limiting God? I hope not.

We go to the Saturday night service at our church, so the final food for thought item was the closing of the sermon tonight. Our pastor was teaching on Luke chapter 7. Luke 7:23 stood out to me, "And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” And also after Jesus talks about how the people looked at John the Baptist and said, "He's too radical for me," yet looked at Jesus and said, "He's too liberal. He hangs out with the sinners and tax collectors." My pastor talked about how people are constantly clinging to excuses to not follow Christ. Jesus said, "But wisdom is justified by all of her children." (Luke 7:35) Our pastor talked about, despite all of the excuses we can make or the way we see people failing, the truth is we can see the fruit of the lives of people who are "not offended" by Christ, and who are willing to follow him. His wisdom and leadership leads to blessed and abundant lives, even if for this short time on earth it also means suffering (like John the Baptist). As he prayed for us all before he closed the service, he asked that God would show us where we are trying to put Him into a box, and not allowing Him to truly lead our lives.

Who knows, maybe God's plan is to give us a healthy baby boy like I'm dreaming about. I think the soul searching is the important part. Do I have a yes heart toward God or not?

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Pictures of the Orphanage

I was reading one of my favorite adoption blogs and came across this website address:

These are photos taken by Mercy Ship volunteers who visited Acres of Hope, the orphanage that we are adopting through. I believe that these photos are over a year old, but it did my heart good to see pictures of the orphanage and the happy kids. It looks like a cheerful, clean place. I fell in love with the little boy pretending to drive the truck. I'll take him. : ) Hee Hee. Hope you enjoy the photos as much as I did. I felt like I found a treasure.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Sunnier Days

I'm sorry that some of my last posts have been a little bit of a downer. I really think winter was getting to me. It was almost 60 degrees today and by next week they are predicting 70. It sounds too good to be true! The sunshine has seeped inside me. I didn't know how much I was missing it until I felt it. Spring is in the air, hallelujah!!!!! (I know, Pat, it's not Spring yet....but the promise of it is here)

It's amazing how hopeful I feel with a little sunshine in my brain. I thought I'd touch on a few random things that have been happening and that I've been thinking about:
  • Our immigration fingerprinting went well. We got there right before closing on Friday and barely got them done before Pat was late for work, and before their weekly report was sent off. I kept telling the girls as we were driving to the office that we were going to get one more step done in getting our baby brother home. The office told us it should take about two weeks to get our clearance letter back. There are four pieces to the puzzle that must be completed before you can get the referral of your child. Number One is a completed homestudy. That part is done for us and already mailed to Acres of Hope. Number two is the clearance letter from INS and we hope to have that soon! Number three is the completed package of documents called your dossier that needs to be sent to Acres of Hope. We have some minor details to finish on that and we still need Pat's birth certificate, then that will be in the mail. The final step is Acres of Hope identifying a child for our family and letting us know. Once we accept a referral the adoption process begins in Liberia. I'm really hoping that we will have a referral before the summer. I can't imagine seeing his face in a photograph. : )
  • One of the things that has been keeping me busy is helping out with the Adoption Ministry for our church. I'm really enjoying that. It is a new and growing ministry, so it is exciting to see adoptive families coming together to get to know each other. I went to coffee the other day with the lady who began the ministry and one of the highlights of our conversation for me was having her share how special the moment was for her when she got the referral of her daughter. She said that she started crying when the phone rang and didn't stop during the whole conversation. When she saw her picture, she fell instantly in love. I am so longing for that moment.
  • I have been listening to a CD series about bonding and attaching to adopted toddlers. There is a lot of scary information, but a lot of hopeful information, too, and some great practical advice that I'm excited to try when our son gets home.
  • A few people have asked me what we plan to do about names. We really haven't talked about it. I read on the yahoo group that the children in the orphanage really look forward to getting their new name. It is a special part of the process for them. I guess we are just waiting to see how old our son is and what his given name already is and how his picture makes us feel.
  • For her birthday, Karissa got a new bike and Amy is so excited to ride Sissy's old bike. It was so cute to hear Amy say, "And Mommy, my bike is for OUR BABY BROTHER!" I could just picture the three of them riding their bikes together, our little boy pedaling like crazy on the little hotwheels trike that has been a family tradition. There is something about those little hotwheels type bikes that are so cute to me. I love how fast their little legs can get going on those things. I was sad to see Amy outgrow it, and now I know my little boy will be riding it someday soon.
  • I am so interested to see the age of the little one God has planned for us. My heart longs for him to be a baby or a toddler, but Pat is hoping for a preschooler. We both want him to be younger than Amy who turns four in April. As much as I want him to be my baby boy, I am so glad that I don't do the choosing. I completely trust God to select the right little boy to join our family. I was telling my mom that I have given my hopes to God, but I do not want to tell him what to do. I would never want the responsibility for running my own life. It will be so wonderful to see what God has in store.

"Who are you little one? I know you are out there. I know God can see you. I can't wait until I can."

Monday, March 5, 2007

A Discouraging Day

I had such a discouraging day yesterday. It shouldn't have been, it was birthday party day for my oldest, and we had a successful cowgirl birthday for our little five year old. But there were moments throughout the day that stuck with me and left me feeling beat up by nighttime. (Lack of sleep probably didn't help either : )

In preparation for the party, my perfectionism set in and so did my nagging. "Hurry up! People are going to be here any minute! Would you please get that family room cleaned up." My kids responded with grumpy attitudes and no work ethic. During the party, my daughter lacked the gratitude I thought she should have, and my husband was hard on her (Which was probably what she needed, but the mommy in me didn't want her disciplined on her special day.) My other little one cried all the time because she didn't win the party games and played drama queen one too many times.

I felt like I was a failure. I had prayed earlier in the day that I would be able to get ready for the party peacefully and that I wouldn't nag and that we would all have good fellowship with our wonderful friends. I felt myself doing what I didn't want to do and kept doing it anyway. I have also been praying through spiritual virtues for my kids and yesterday's virtue that I prayed for was gratitude. Then when my precious kids didn't behave like perfect little robots, I began to question my parenting ability. And then of course the next thought after that was, "I'm not a good enough mom to the ones I already can I have another one?"

Even when I know that one of Satan's most effective tools is discouragement, I still fall for it every time. This morning when I read "Our Daily Bread" these paragraphs from today's devotion jumped out at me:

Satan loves to distract us with criticism, and he tries to get us to use it on others as well as ourselves. We judge prematurely and try to correct others before we know what they’re saying. That’s what Eli the priest did when Hannah was crying out to God. He interrupted her prayer and accused her of being drunk (1 Sam. 1:12-14).
But God lets us pour out our hearts to Him in full honesty (Ps. 62:8). In fact, the Psalms indicate that it is when we are expressing our doubts and fears that God resolves them. Many Psalms that begin in despair end in praise (22; 42; 60; 69; 73).

I am slowly learning to trust God for the raising of my kids. I love them so much and just don't want to fail. God keeps reminding me that I will fail, it is inevitable, but that he can cover over my failures with His grace. My prayer for parenting lately has been, "Please, Lord, cover where I fail." I have lots of doubts and fears about this adoption, too, and I'm trying so hard to educate myself and be ready for what is coming, but God has been telling me that in that too, I need to avoid perfectionism, to know ahead of time that there will be times that I fail our son, and to let Him cover where I fail.

P.S. I was pretty proud of the cake I made for our cowgirl, so I thought I'd share a picture of it. It was a really fun party and our friends were so generous. The highlight of the party was when Karissa leaned in to blow out her candles and her hair STARTED ON FIRE!! I was able to get the fire out before it hurt her. Her hair still smells funny and has some charred ends. What a day!

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Email Subscriptions Disappeared

I'm not sure what happened, but when I went to feedburner to check on the email subscriptions to this site, they had disappeared. It now shows zero subscribers. I'm hoping it is just a glitch and that those of you who want it are still receiving an email when I add new posts. I'm using this one as an experiment. If you were signed up for the email subscriptions, can you let me know if you did or did not receive a reminder for this new post?

Tomorrow we are going in for our fingerprinting at the Immigration office. We still don't have the birth certificates from New Jersey to mail our dossier, but I realized that maybe I just had unrealistic expectations of how fast they would arrive. My birth certificates came so quickly, I was comparing the wait time to that, but NJ is a densely populated state and Pat said their website says to expect a 6-8 week wait after the request is submitted to their office. They sent our first request back, requesting more documentation, so I guess it has only been about a month since we sent the second one back. Donna at the stateside Acres of Hope office will be in Liberia for the next couple of weeks anyway, so I guess there really is no reason to be in such a rush. I just want that feeling of having our part all done.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understandings. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.
-Proverbs 3:5-6