Thursday, February 28, 2008

No Direction Yet

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

We got more news today about what happened with JJ's family. I guess his birth father was still in favor of the adoption, but the father's older sister was not. She had been in Ghana for medical care and had just returned. When she heard about the adoption, she wanted JJ withdrawn and will be raising him herself. The father didn't feel like he could disobey his older sister. Respecting elders is a cultural norm in Liberia.

I have had a lot of people ask what we plan to do next. The answer to that question is honestly I don't know.

Pat asked me this morning if I had received any insight yet. I told him that when I close my eyes I have a vision of a dead end with a huge wall in front of me. It's like the end of a very narrow hallway and there are no doors on either side. I'm just standing there looking up the big wall, completely void of any spiritual discernment or direction of what God's will is for us. Maybe it is just too soon to make a decision.

We have been given a lot of advice that I respect and appreciate. There seems to be four different opinions that others have asked us to consider.

1. Sometimes, we try to force something to happen when God has shut a door and said, "No." Maybe we are trying to do something that God isn't really asking us to do or blessing the effort.

2. Please keep pushing on. Stay with the process. Sometimes God asks us to do things and in the process we face many obstacles that we just need to press through in order to be obedient.

3. Take a break from it all. Concentrate on your new baby coming and after he/she is born you can revisit the idea of adoption.

4. Consider another program/country/domestic adoption plan that is less risky and more consistent.

We have listened to the heart of our friends and family and appreciate all of the food for thought. I truly am considering all of the above thoughts and seeking God in prayer. Now we just wait for the answer.

I wish that I could remove the emotion of impatience from the decision making process. I'm afraid that I am going to want to make a rash/hasty decision just because I am so desperate to get to the end of this journey. I'm tired of trying to grow our family, and I just want to be a family.

I also don't want to be like Sarah in the Old Testament. God had promised to bless her with a child and she took matters into her own hands and messed everything up. Our world is still dearly paying for her impatience. I want to wait and be patient for the child God has chosen to join our family. Help me, Lord, to slow down and follow instead of trying to run ahead.

On Monday mornings, I lead a Women's Bible Study at church. We have been studying the book of Colossians lately and Monday's study was on where to go for wisdom. I didn't know on Monday how much the study was going to apply to my life this week. : )

One of the questions that the study we are using asked was, "Why would God allow us to come to the end of our understanding?" The answer that I wrote on my study was that running out of our own understanding sends us to Him, and He is our greatest need! Running out of our own understanding removes the delusion of self-sufficiency. Self-sufficiency is a dangerous and a deceptive place to be.

My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
- Colossians 2:2-3

Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgements and His ways past finding out.
- Romans 11:33

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. - James 1:5

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Not The News We Wanted to Get Today

We did get our phone call from Acres of Hope today, but it wasn't to tell us our case was finalized in the Liberian courts. Instead, it was to tell us that we aren't going to be able to adopt JJ at all.

JJ's father returned to the orphanage and removed him from the program. He was under a lot of pressure from his family, especially his sister, to not go through with the adoption. One of the staff members from AOH visited with the family and explained that this case was at the final stages in the courts, and that our family has been preparing for JJ to be a part of our family, but their minds were made up.

In the beginning, we were told that JJ's father was injured during the war and lost his leg. Being disabled, he had been unable to provide for his son, so he and JJ's mother came together to relinquish him to the orphanage for adoption. I thought that since both parents were together and in agreement to the adoption, that we were safe from this happening again. I've been worried that the anti-adoption propaganda floating around Liberia might cause problems. I'm not sure if that was the case here, but I think it might be. I pray that they will be able to take care of him. Hopefully, the extended family that was so against the adoption will be able to help care for him.

Karissa, my wise beyond her years little girl, listened to me tell her that JJ would not be able to be a part of our family. She gave me a back rub and said, "Mommy, all of the things that have gone wrong for our adoptions aren't bad things."

I asked her what she meant, and she said, "They are good things because now they don't have to leave their families."

I know that this news will be frustrating to our friends and family members who care so much about us. I don't have a lot of answers to the questions I'm sure you have. When Rachel called today, she was in tears right along with me, and was just as frustrated that this could happen to us again.

I'm not sure I understand exactly how things work, but I think the children in the orphanage are wards of the state. The orphanage provides shelter and helps to facilitate the adoption, but they are like foster parents, and are accountable to the Ministry of Health. I don't know if they have the authority to not return a child when the birth family comes back, even if they have gone through the relinquishment process. I think they see themselves as a humanitarian organization and can't keep a child that parents want back regardless of where we are at in the process.
At least, I think this is how it is.

I do know that the staff meets with the adults bringing the children to the orphanage three times before they allow them to leave them at the orphanage. They explain what adoption means and make sure they understand and have time to think about it before they will take the children in. Then they do all the relinquishment paperwork ahead of time, and then they give the referral and start the process. These precautions don't keep lost referrals from happening, though. I don't know how to fix the problem. I guess it is just the risk you have to be willing to take. I don't want to adopt a child that a family wants to raise themselves. I just want a child who needs us to be his family.

Pat and I aren't sure what we want to do next. If we accept a new referral, it will take approximately 6 months for this new adoption process to be complete and that puts us right at my due date for the baby. If we continue, we will have to update our immigration fingerprints and documentation and our homestudy, because these will expire soon. Please pray for us to have discernment about where to go from here.

Works for Me Wednesday

For Works for Me Wednesday today I wanted to share these great banks we found for teaching our 5 and 6 year-old-daughters how to manage money. They earn five quarters on Saturday after completing their assigned jobs for the week. These banks are sturdy, cute, and perfect for teaching them the financial values that we have as a family.
Here's a picture of the banks and a link to where to find them: (You can find them other places, but this was the best value that we could find)

The banks are transparent and have three separate compartments. This is nice for seeing how much is in each category at a glance. The money slots are in each of the three roof lines of the bank, store, and church. The money is removed from the bottom of each compartment.

I've been thankful for different resources to teach our kids how to deal with money. I recently watched an Oprah episode that broke my heart. She interviewed the director and a homeless man that were part of a documentary where the homeless man was given $100,000 cash as a social experiment. The cameras followed him and documented what he did with the money. The man blew all the $100,000 because he didn't know how to manage it. He also was taken advantage of by people, betrayed by friends, and married a woman who left him as soon as the money was gone. He had thought that it was a never ending amount of money and that it would solve all of his problems. He ended up right back where he started, but now he was also disheartened, and ashamed. It was awful. The show left me with a desire to make sure that my children grow up knowing how to be good stewards and managers of the finances God blesses them with. It also left me heartbroken for a man who realized the emptiness of wealth. He needed Jesus to heal his heart, not $100,000 cash. It was a heart wrenching show to watch, and I want a different reality for my kids.
Stop by Rocks in My Dryer for more Works for Me Wednesday Tips.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Sweet Birthday

Thank you so much for all of the happy birthday wishes. With all of the other things going on, my birthday snuck up on me. I didn't really have any expectations for it, but the whole weekend ended up being a celebration and a sweet reminder of all of my blessings.

Friday night, I went to a women's event at my friend Marisa's church. The speaker spoke on godly girlfriend relationships and how important they are. I left the event that evening so grateful for my friends. I plan on dedicating a future blog post to how much I enjoyed that evening.

Saturday began with family breakfast, and then Pat took the girls out so I could have the afternoon to myself. My friends, Jennifer and Marisa, and I went out to coffee and the dollar theater to watch Enchanted. I know you are asking yourself, "Isn't that a Disney kids' movie?" No, is a family movie (at least that is how we justified it). We are all just romantic at heart and thoroughly enjoyed the fairy tale. We have the greatest dollar theater here. Tickets are $3.50 and that price includes your admission to the show and two food items of your choice. I always get their caramel corn and something to drink. It is a great deal and a fun theater.

We went to the Saturday night service at church, and then over to Daiquiri's house to "hang out" after church. Hanging out ended up being a surprise birthday party for me. I was so blessed. The whole night made me feel so special.

Monday, my actual birthday was great, too. I guess the judge in Liberia didn't get the memo that he was supposed to finalize our adoption for my birthday present. Despite the judge not coming through for me, there were little things that made it such a special day. Monday morning, my sleepy little four-year-old woke up remembering that it was Mommy's birthday. My mom and dad called and serenaded me, and my nephews left me the sweetest message on the answering machine. My friends and family sent cards. We went out to dinner at Olive Garden, and I got to spend Monday evening at the mall ALL BY MYSELF!!! It was great day. For a short time, I forgot that I'm getting old! : )

A few of you have asked how my doctor visit went today. I actually canceled that appointment for today. My doctor was just going to listen to the baby's heartbeat on the Doppler, and now that we have our own, I decided to just wait until the ultrasound on March 11th before I go in again. Thanks for remembering and checking in on me! Cutie Pie or Monster Truck is doing very well, and I'm grateful. My final birthday gift was to hear a 164 beats per minute right before I drifted off to sleep Monday night.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Pat's Passport Has Arrived!

Pat is preparing for his trip to Liberia. He will be getting his immunizations next week, and his passport came yesterday! I'm so thankful for how quickly it got here. I worried about not paying the expediting fee, but now I'm glad we saved the money.

It is beginning to feel like this might really happen. : )

Monday is my birthday. Don't you think a phone call from Acres of Hope telling us that we are finalized would be a nice gift?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I Have a Confession to Make

OK....I have a confession to make.

I love American Idol. : )

I don't just watch it. I even call in and vote. : ) (Um, like 20 - 30 times - blush - Redial comes in really handy.)


It starts in 16 minutes. Gotta Go.

Fess're watching it, too. (Right, Missy?)
Adoption News:
Being the ultra patient person that I am (ha ha), I emailed Rachel at AOH to ask her about how things were going with the finalization. On February 6th, they were estimating that 15 children would be finalized in the Liberian courts within two weeks, but I hadn't heard of any being done. She said that because of all of the "excitement" over the last few weeks and the possibility of adoptions being shut down by the Embassy, the judge overseeing our cases decided to wait and see what would happen.

The Liberian staff is guessing that at least half of those cases will be done by Friday, Monday, or Tuesday. Unfortunately, there is no way to know if we will be in the first half, because the judge doesn't seem to be concerned with working chronologically. I do know that we are one of the 15 though, and I hope that by early next week, JJ will be officially our son according to the Liberian courts.

These would be the next steps after finalization:
1. Get JJ's passport

2. Schedule a birth family interview at the Embassy. During this interview, the living relatives of the child go to the Embassy to be interviewed by the consular. During that interview, she decides if she believes that these people are truly the birth family. She also makes sure they understand the concept and permanency of adoption. Sometimes she requires a DNA test to prove that they are related to the child. This adds 6-8 weeks to the process and longer if the DNA results are negative. Other times, she is fully convinced that they are the birthfamily, and the interview is successful. In some cases, these birthfamily interviews have not been successful. It is a really scary last step of the process.

(One family this week had an unsuccessful interview. If I understand it correctly, the birth mother is dead and nobody knows where the birthfather is. They were told that if they can't locate the father, the adoption is off. They have been waiting over a year, and Julie has already been to Liberia to meet their little boy, Teddy. It is devastating news. Please pray for the Redman family.)

3. If our interview is successful, than Pat will fly to Liberia and have an appointment at the Embassy to get JJ's visa and then bring him home. : )

My new hope is to have him home before the end of April. We'll see : ) I don't mind having him home sooner, though, Lord. : )

Baby News:

This has been a rough week for me. It is the 13th week of my pregnancy and that is one of my scary anniversaries. My first two pregnancies with Karissa and Amy were perfect and free of complications. As we tried for our third child, we had four pregnancy losses in a row. The first loss was at five months, the second was an early miscarriage at 6 weeks, and the last two losses happened at 13 weeks. Other than the early miscarriage, the other three had no warning or explanation. Everything seemed great until we tried to find a heartbeat. That is why every heartbeat that we are able to hear is such a blessing to me. There is no sweeter sound. : )

For the last three weeks, I have thought that I've been able to feel the baby move. I've doubted myself because all of the pregnancy literature says that you shouldn't be able to feel the baby move before 14 weeks. But I knew that this feeling was unique to pregnancy, and it was a comfort to me even if it wasn't the actual baby moving.

Then over this last week, I haven't been able to feel that movement any more. It added to my stress and fear. Yesterday morning, though, I had a great prayer time and as I said, "Amen," I could feel the baby again. It was such a gift.

Later yesterday afternoon, the Doppler that Pat bought me for my birthday arrived, and the whole family gathered around to hear Baby's heartbeat. Pat tried to find it in the same location that the doctor has been finding it for me, but all we could hear was my heartbeat. I started getting nervous. Karissa kept asking, "Why can't we hear it?" I think she was nervous, too. Finally, Pat said, "Where did you feel the baby moving?" I pointed to the spot, he put the Doppler on it, and there it was, 170 beats per minute!

It was such a gift to me to have confirmation that the movement I was feeling really was the baby. A huge weight fell off my shoulders and of course I teared up. Pat said that if it was going to make me cry, he was sending it back. : )

I am so thankful to have this now. I don't want to listen too often, but whenever the fear roles in, it will be so nice to have the reassurance.

It is the 13th week and we still have a heartbeat!!!! Praise God!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Houston.....We Have a Heartbeat! : )

My doctor visit went very well today. We were able to immediately hear Baby's (a.k.a. Monster Truck or Cutie Pie) heartbeat. I felt lighthearted and peaceful this morning, but I started to feel the tension and apprehension moving in as we neared the office. Pat and I prayed together in the parking lot before we went in, and God blessed us with great news.

Pat just ordered our own Stork Radio Doppler. It should arrive any day now, and I'm so excited to have it. It will be so nice to be able to listen to Baby's heartbeat any time I need reassurance. I think it will be neat for the girls, too. It can't get here soon enough. : )

We are scheduled for another check-up on Feb. 26th, the day after my birthday, so I'm asking for another great visit as a birthday present. We also scheduled an ultrasound for March 11th. I'm really looking forward to the ultrasound. In the past, we have had this ultrasound at 20 weeks, but this time we will be looking at 16 weeks because my doctor wants to take a look at the baby's heart and this is the earliest that he can get a good peak. I think he bumped it up to make me happy, too. I'm a little impatient. : ) We may be able to see the sex of the baby at that time, but most likely, we'll have to settle the Monster Truck, Cutie Pie debate at a later ultrasound.

Still no adoption news, but on Feb. 6th the Acres of Hope website said they were hoping to see 15 cases finalized in the Liberian courts over the next two weeks. We are one of those 15 cases, and this is the second week, so hopefully I'll be able to post that we are through the Liberian courts some day soon!

Thank you for loving me and praying for me. Your prayers are felt!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Looking Back

(Today's thoughts were inspired by this post.)

There has been so much to be afraid of lately.

Anti-adoption propaganda has been showing up in Liberian newspapers, and unfortunately many people have believed the lies. One of the Acres of Hope families lost their referral this week because the birth mother believed the stories of child trafficking and removed her kids from the program.

All week last week there was a looming threat that the US Embassy in Liberia might put a hold on adoptions. Thankfully, that did not happen, but it was a tense and stressful week of wondering.

I'm 12 weeks pregnant this week, and my last two miscarriages happened at 13 weeks. This nagging voice of doubt keeps taunting me, "Is this your last week? Will Tuesday's doctor visit bring bad news?"

I've dealt with fear of inadequacy as a mother. Fears that I'm not doing enough and not being enough. Fear, fear, fear.

In the midst of it all, God has been calling me to a deeper level of trust. I had some amazing quiet times of prayer this week that have left me with a longing for that complete abandon, surrender, and sincere trust in Him that is so trustWORTHY.

Fear keeps threatening to take over, but peace keeps responding, "BE STILL!"

My friend and I were talking about how to trust God. We're told all the time, "Trust Him," yet rarely told how. During that conversation, I was having a hard time articulating what I was thinking, but I came home and read this. The author put into words what I was trying to say.

The ability to trust comes from looking backward. As I look backward, I see the memorial stones of past evidence of God's provision and grace in my life. When I look backwards, I see the countless blessings, the many, many times that Jesus carried me through storms, the joys, the memories, the love, and His constant presence. He has been my best friends since early childhood.

It's so strange too, that coming out of this season of loss, of all of the miscarriages, I've come out of it trusting Him more, not less. I survived. I was comforted. I felt His comfort in a way that I had never felt it before, and I was given renewed hope for the future.

So today facing an uncertain future, an unpredictable adoption process, a scary pregnancy anniversary, and all of the everyday things that make me wonder if I will ever be enough, I look backward first and see the One in which I trust.

Here's an oldie but a goodie:


One night a man had a dream.
He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Scenes from his life flashed across the sky and he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand, one belonging to him and the other to the Lord.

When the last scene of his life had flashed before him, he recalled that at the lowest and saddest times of his life there was only one set of footprints.

Dismayed, he asked, "Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you, you'd walk with me all the way. I don't understand why, when I needed you most, you would leave me."

The Lord replied, "My precious child. I love you and I would never leave you.

During your times of trial and suffering when you saw only one set of footprints...

That was when I carried you."

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Want to Win Something Cool?

I love blog giveaways. : ) I even won one in December. My new e-friend, Lelia, gave me over $100 worth of cosmetics from her BeautiControl Business. It was so fun to receive my package in the mail the other day. Thank you, Lelia!

By now, my good friend, Daiquiri, has become legendary on this blog. : ) She has just opened an online photography business, and in honor of her grand opening, she is hosting a giveaway. The winner will receive one of her photographs, any size print you choose. I already have one of her prints framed and hanging on my bedroom wall, but I'm still hoping to win another one. : )

If you'd like a shot at winning, stop by her blog, Call Her Blessed, and join in on the fun.

Monday, February 4, 2008


"NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses]" Hebrews 11:1 (Amplified).

Faith is not simply saying that what God says is true; true faith is acting on what God says because it is true. Faith is not so much in believing in spite of evidence, but obeying in spite of consequences.

(I wish I could give credit to who said this. It was a sermon note that my good friend, Rochelle, had written in her Bible, and she's forgotten who said it.)

Saturday, February 2, 2008

False Allegations

I just wanted to clarify that Addy's Hope, the agency that came under scrutiny in the situation in Liberia this week, did not take the 10 children out of Liberia illegally. There were false accusations made against this agency. They responded to those accusations on their website. You can read it here.

I have made connections with many people in the adoption world who are adopting through Addy's Hope, and they love and trust their agency.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Not So Bad

Phew....This was a long day of wondering what the announcement would be today from the embassy, and at least for now, the news wasn't so bad. I think this situation needs to continue to be covered in prayer. AOH did a great job of explaining it, so I'll just post the response the put on their website this afternoon:

Many rumors involving alleged child trafficking and illegal international adoptions in Liberia have been flying over the past few days. It has also been reported that a “hold” has been or will be placed on all adopted children leaving the country. Indeed, ten international adoption cases came under the scrutiny of the Liberian government some days ago. Some of these children left the country before the investigations were concluded and this raised alarm. First of all, we want to assure you that Acres of Hope Liberia is not involved in these cases, nor any illegal or unethical practices, nor have we been accused of such. Furthermore, no “hold” or moratorium has been placed on adopted children leaving the country.
When AOH/AOHL staff heard of the possible difficulties in obtaining visas and getting our children home with their adoptive families, we asked the impending travelers to please hold their plans until we got confirmation of any action to be taken by the Liberian or US governments. In fact, the staff of AOHL has been working tirelessly to work through the issues raised by this upheaval and to advocate for the children and families in the AOHL adoption program. Patty (Executive Director) and Eric (Country Director) have been at the Capital building today, meeting with many Liberian government officials. They feel encouraged by these discussions. In fact, many of the legislators are strongly pro-adoption and were happy to unite with AOHL for the future of the children.
Currently, we have one family in Liberia right now to pick up their children. Although they were told yesterday that no visas would be issued until this was cleared up, the visas were granted today. This is a good sign and, coupled with the conversations with the legislators, leads us to move forward as normal and we have given the go-ahead to the families with visa appointments next week.
While we are not out of the woods yet, we feel positive and encouraged. We will keep you updated if changes occur.
Finally, we have also caught wind of a rumor that families will be required to stay in Liberia for three weeks when picking up their children. Acres of Hope Liberia has been given no such direction and we advise that families preparing to travel soon plan a one-week stay.

I also wanted to thank you for praying for my friends, Kim and Dale. There was good news posted on their blog this afternoon. They are going to continue to Liberia and get their son. Thank you for praying for them. You can visit their blog here to follow their journey. They have got to be so exhausted and drained. This has been an amazing roller-coaster week for them. Please continue to pray for them.

For now, I'm feeling cautiously optimistic again. : ) I'm really thankful that the director of AOH was in Liberia to deal with all of this firsthand.