Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Quick Update

So, our family has been battling the Norovirus...AGAIN! That means I am very behind on everything I was already behind on. It also means that I missed part 2 of hearing Ann Voskamp speak, going to Austin's Oyster Roast at his school and attending a friend's 40th Birthday party. Also, missing time to do fun things with Travis' mom while she was here. She was such a trooper and took care of the boys while Travis and then I ended up in bed for about 3 days each. The boys had a great time with her; but it was definitely not a great exciting adventure weekend.

Onto adoption information. I just deposited another $415 into our bank account today! Thank you so much to all of you who are a part of this! This last dump of funds was from friends who felt called to donate $500 over the year and have been sending us checks, and then 147 Million Orphan Uganda Beads & mainly from the bird's nest necklaces that I make (you can find some samples/photos) on www.facebook.com/bambooandpluffmud . My suggested donation on these is $15 (and an extra $3 for shipping/price based on sending one necklace).

So, to date, we have raised $12,000! I can not believe it! So grateful! I know that is only about 40% of it. But, we are so encouraged. I started the initial application to Show Hope the other day, too. I have til April 30th to finish the long form. 

**Side note, to anyone who is starting this process (and will be grant eligible): I would recommend going to Show Hope's site and going to their financial worksheet. It is the most detailed. If we had started with this form, we would have had all the other forms ready for our other applications. It asked for a break down of our investments by stocks, bonds, 401K, Roths, etc. All other forms just want to know a lump sum. Anyhow, just trust me on this, if you are going to apply for grants, fill out their form first & use it for all your other forms because they are the most detailed. Then you can be consistent without having to go back/forth to verify your forms.

Paperwork update: Well, our homestudy is somewhere between DSS and our homestudy office. I am pretty bummed that it has taken this long for the final signatures. I hate to at all sound like I'm complaining but the back/forth for the last few weeks of change this/sign that has been one of the things that really is hard as an adoptive parents.

We are just waiting for DSS approval and then Immigration application. It seems really far off right now; but again, it is a great time to keep raising funds. We are also super busy with our current life with our boys and supporting Journey Together, etc. So many amazing things going on there.

I started a blog post three weeks ago about the amazing news that Lifeline, our placing agency, is opening a satellite office in Charleston. Incredible news! I will post more about this later; but if you are a family in Charleston who would like any more info on orphan care in any fashion, we will be meeting on April 17th at 6:30 for an event hosted by Journey Together & Lifeline!

Also, I will be announcing in April our next online fundraiser. Still playing around with our give-a-way idea, etc. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

"I'll be thinking about God..."

He's growing up. 

He's processing. He's become quite an amazing little person with thoughts and concepts and theories.

I'm already holding on tightly. Trying to soak it all in.

Praying my heart out. 

Praying for the rocks he says that are stuck in his heart.

Praying continually that God will help me to see. See the situations in his life.
Help me to "get it". Get why it's hard or why he isn't understanding something. 
This prayer tumbles from my heart often.
Over my friends and situations.

Give me your eyes, Jesus. Help me to see it! Help me to "get it"!

Last summer, Austin shared that he just couldn't obey because of the rocks in his heart. I shared this with my very wise and discerning uncle. He encouraged me to ask him more questions about the rocks. How do they feel? What are they like? So, we have done so.

We've been talking about those rocks. And praying about those rocks as we talk about how Jesus works in our lives and can take the rocks away. Even when we feel them coming back, he can help us keep them out. 

A couple days ago, he was upset after a tiring afternoon and I could tell he was just needing rest. He was whining and crying. He finally said "I just got that zero rock left!" He told me he thought the last one was almost out. "And the branches are coming..." (and he demonstrated branches with his arms sticking out)..."The branches with the fruit...you know of the Spirit!"

He shrugs it off and asks for a cup of water.

I tried not to squeeze him too tightly and pray too loudly; but I was thanking God that my little one is getting it. I was thanking for the renovation that is happening in his heart. I was doing a holy victory dance.

I don't want to scare him into a sinner's prayer that will take him years to unravel and mean nothing and change nothing. I know he won't fully grasp the grace and mercy and all that is Jesus until he is an adult. But, I still don't want to coerce him. I want to lead him to the Cross. I want to pray for his heart and not just his behavior.

And oh, boy, it's hard to not just go for the behavior.There have been times when I just want his outward behavior to look better than his inward. But, I'm telling you, when my kid throws a tantrum in public or sasses me in ways that might make others cringe or questions our parenting, I know that I'm praying for his heart and the battle over the rocks. I'm fighting for his soul not just the next 15 seconds of peace and quiet.

I know he needs to get it together in public. And as our dear friends the Ezzos have taught us to say with grace and humility: "We are working on it." And yes, he'll have a consequence for disobeying. But, I'm gonna give him Jesus. I'm gonna give him Grace. I'm gonna hang onto the Cross and know full well that nothing matters more than the power of the Cross in his life. Nothing. 

Tonight after dinner, we had a discussion about Vampires. (Ugh. I am trying very hard to hold my tongue here and not offend some of my dearest friends. But, I am not a vampire fan. At all. Not at all.) One of his classmates has brought up vampires. And I've told Austin I would prefer he share with her that he is not allowed to play the "vampire game". 

He said: "Well, Mom, you and I are just different. I like vampires. You don't. It's okay..." 

He meant it in all sincerity. So we talked about preferences on ice cream flavor and colors; but Mommy and Daddy set the rules on what is safe and what is not, he started asking more questions. I also know that was tied into the discussion of ethnicity that has been circling our home and the differences in people. So, he was seeing this the same way. Just a difference.

We talked about good and evil. He asked me to tell him about evil. So, we started in the Garden and talked through Satan, good and evil, sin, and Jesus being our Rescuer and defeating evil.  I tried to stick with Jesus Storybook Bible language as much as possible because it is brilliant. It also keeps me off the the ledge of legalism and focused on Jesus.

He came and sat on my lap as I was wrapping up our dialogue.

I thought I had lost him or talked too long. He ran his fingers across my keyboard.

"Hmmm. Okay, Mom. I'm going up stairs to read a book with Daddy and go to bed now....I'll see you in the morning...." And he wrapped his little arms around my waist and squeezed me. 

He popped off my lap and started out of the room, and then he paused...I looked over my shoulder to catch his gaze. He he tilted his mischievous head in my direction and his eyes began to twinkle.

"And Mom... I'll be thinking about God..."

And with that he scampered out of my sight.

The thud of his footsteps pounded out each step.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Adoption Details: Update

We are days away from getting word that our home study is approved and finished. 

Our home study includes copies of our birth certificates, lists of all of our previous addresses, background checks from every state we lived in or had utilities or bank accounts, autobiographies, several applications, several forms and agreements, doctor letter for me saying I am capable of being a parent with a minor health issue,doctrine statements, four referrals, medical reports on all of us, vaccine reports on our animals, insurance reports, life insurance, guardian letter from my sister, home inspection, personality evaluation, certificates for 10 hours of Hague training, 9 hours of International Adopt Clinic training, and about 5-6 hours of online reading/research that included talking to the International Adopt Clinic here for fees on reviewing a child file (which were um..choke..$400) and research on school systems and what our health insurance will cover and won't (for PT/OT/Speech Therapy, surgery, if necessary) DSS clearance, FBI clearance, reports from our meetings with our social worker, details on every family member,etc. I think that might be all of it.

For my friends who are still in "praying about this phase". If you are like me, once I was ready and sure, I wanted to get things moving. So, if you want to collect some of that info, I can fill you in on what you might need.

I thought it could not possibly take this long; but now I understand why. So, we are now grateful for the people who are going over the actual document with a fine tooth comb. One more person at our home study agency and then one more person at our Lifeline, our placing agency. And we will be sending another $2000 to our agency.

As soon as it is finished it will go with an I-800A request to Immigration with a fee of $900. They take 60-90 days to process this form. They will also call us in the process and send us for a biometric hand scan. We have heard the average is 65 right now, so we want to hustle!

So, right now, I'm making sure the I800A form is filled out correctly. I think it's 9 pages and has 11 pages of instructions.

Medical Form
We are also finalizing our Medical Openness form. I realized that I may not have officially told everyone this and hadn't even told some of our close friends merely from getting lost in my own world. In Ch**a right now, the wait for a "healthy" child is years. Right now, the greatest need in Ch**a is for children who are older (3-14) and could age out of the system (at age 14) or are considered Special Needs. Now, SN by Ch**a standards, and US definition are very different. So, we are requesting a little girl that will have some type of mild correctable "special need".

We know we are open to Cleft Lip/Palate, Extra Digit, Club Foot/Feet, ASD/VSD, etc. But, we have to be sure we fill out all the details on the form correctly so they can best match us. Right now, we are also hoping to be matched with a little girl who would be 9-12 months at referrral date (when we get matched) and then she'd be around 13-16 months when she comes home. The chances of this are slim and we will put down up to 2 years old. We also will continually evaluate this based on how long we wait, etc
However, we are going to just keep praying through this entire process and asking God to clearly show us who our daughter is. I hesitate to say exactly what we are doing because I've heard from so many people that during their adoption journey, God just re-routed them, etc. He's leading. We are following. So, we very cautiously want tell anyone what direction we think we are going in; but it's subject to change.

I do have a few secret wishes, for instance, I'd love to be matched with a child from Maio Ming orphanage, since that is Lifeline's main orphanage. I've seen videos of the kids and program there. I know that David Platt just adopted from there, etc. So, I feel connected to it. My other sort of random wish would be that we could be matched with a child who was cared for by Love Without Boundaries. Again, I know it sounds silly; but I just stare at the pictures posted on Facebook everyday and wonder if that could be our daughter. I look at the Nannies faces and the child's expression. I pray for the kids, etc. That's just my emotional side. Again, we don't want to stop listening to God during this journey: ever. But, I want to look at every face, especially the little ones and wonder if that's our daughter. I don't want to miss seeing her and knowing more about how to pray.

Back to Reality:
So, as the I800A is off, we will be doing a little more paperwork and getting ready for our Dossier to go to Ch**a. We also will be paying out portions of the other random fees (that they estimate will reach $3000-$4000 by the end of this process).

We will also be doing:
Grant Applications
More Fundraising
More Journey Together meetings, etc
After our immigration comes back, we can send all of Dossier to China and another $2000 to Lifeline. The Dossier will include our immigration approval, homestudy, and more papers, etc. When it is sent to Ch**a and approved, we will be giving a lock in date (LID). 

Once we are LID approved, we are ready for referrals...So, when are yelling: LID! LID! You will now know why.

And then the real waiting begins.....but at least we are a step closer.

Oh, and to date, in all of our fees and expenses and fundraising costs, we've paid out about $6600. We also have $4400 in our accounts right now (some of it came through Journey Together and some is coming directly to us). I can not believe it; but we've raised and covered $11000. Again, humbled by this. I can not tell you how much God is teaching us on giving and generosity.