Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Past 2 1/2 Months

Too much has happened in the last two and a half months to go into much detail, but I wanted to at least try to summarize what's been going on.

Getting the news about Chloe was very, very hard.  Even though we knew in our  heads that she wasn't, by that point she'd become our daughter in our hearts, and that's impossible to ignore.  As far as we were concerned, she was ours, and that's how we grieved.  We were thankful that we had a vacation scheduled just a few days after receiving that news, it was good to get away together for a week.

We took some time to just process then had to make a decision about where to go from there.  We decided to take a look at the China photolisting again and a few little boys that we had taken note of back around the same time that we first saw Chloe were still waiting.  Rams and I felt most connected to one little guy in particular.

The short story is that we decided to request to adopt this little boy.  This time around had a different feel.  Being fairly soon after being turned down for one child that we gotten so attached to, I think it was natural to guard our emotions a little bit.  But we still felt like this was the child that we were supposed to move ahead with, so filled out all the questionnaires, had two different interviews with people from the agency, and waited to hear the verdict.

On Thursday, October 13th, we were selected to adopt him!  Since then we have been hard at work collecting dossier paperwork, and completing our adoption education courses.  Yesterday we FedEx'd about 2/3 of the dossier paperwork to Holt which is a good place to be, seeing as I had felt completely overwhelmed when I had first seen the checklist of items we needed to gather.

Day before yesterday we received an e-mail containing our assignment packet- loaded with pages and pages more forms to fill out, and an invoice for the program fee.  Hustled my butt and got it all FedEx'd out yesterday as well, which was a great feeling!  Many of the forms were related to travel, which made it all start to feel somewhat real.  And writing our son's name on the forms made it sink in further.  As time goes on- as we talk about him with the kids, discuss what it will be like to have him share a bedroom with Gideon, ask the Chinese restaurant staff how to pronounce his name (lol), talk about how to help him through the transition as much as possible, wonder what kind of things we'll learn about him and his past as we get to know him-  he feels more and more like our little boy.

A testimony regarding God's awesome provision- when we first started this process, we fully expected to have to resort to a diet of beans and rice, and selling our second vehicle (and maybe the kids' bikes) to fund this adoption.  But God has provided plenty of work for Ramsey and every time we have received an invoice, the money has been in the bank to pay the bill.  The program fee that we paid yesterday was a hefty fee (and the last one that we will have to pay to Holt!), but the money was there, and it felt so great to just be able to write the check.  We still have USCIS, travel, etc. to pay for down the road, but up to this point, the money has just been there.  We have had plenty of times in the past when God has provided what we needed by some amazing miracle, at just the last moment, with not a penny to spare, etc.- so we do not take this provision for granted, at all!

So that's where we stand- dossier prepping.  Things are moving forward, which feels great.  Based on time-frames that we've been told, we expect to be travelling to bring our little guy home somewhere from 8 to 15 months from now.  Hoping for the shorter end, of course!

And here's some really great news we got yesterday-  Chloe was matched with a family yesterday!!  I'd  been thinking ahead to her birthday, December 4th (which also happens to be my little sister's birthday and the anniversary of Ramsey's and my first date), and thinking that it would be a hard day.  Hard to think of a little person that you love so much, who has no idea that she is so cherished, turning a year older in an orphanage.  Instead, I am rejoicing for her!  There is a tinge of bittersweet, but that is so eclipsed by the thrill of knowing she now has a family.

So there you have it!  Two and a half months, summed up.  : )

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Hard, Hard News

Just about seven months after we first saw that sweet face on Holt's Waiting Child Program photolisting, then inquired, waited, pursued, waited, fell deeply in love, and waited some more--  this afternoon we got The Call that we'd been waiting for.  It could have gone one of two ways and it went the way we'd been hoping and praying it wouldn't.  This is not a house of celebration tonight.  We are mourning and grieving, both for our own loss of the little girl that could have been our daughter, and for this sweet little one who doesn't even know that there is a family who loves her so much, and will grow up in an orphanage unless someone else comes forward to adopt her.

We're not looking ahead to the next step just yet, right now we're just being sad and grieving what feels like a loss even though she wasn't really ours to begin with.  We trust God and know that He has a plan for us, that He will lead us to the child that He intends for us to adopt, and that He loves Chloe so much more than we could ever imagine loving her.  We will pray her home to her family.

Chloe, waiting for her family.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Finally! SOMEthing to tell.

So this week I'm volunteering at Camp No Limits.  It's been such a great experience, it's totally worthy of a long post of it's own.  Which I started to write but am so exausted it was completely incoherent, so I'm starting over.

After being at the point, for quite some time now, of hanging in there but feeling like absolutely nothing is happening, we arrived home tonight to a message on the machine from our caseworker and an update e-mail from Holt.

The phone message threw us for a bit of a loop.  Our homestudy agency wants us in for a meeting at the beginning of the week so that they can write a child specific home study, which has either been requested by the country of Thailand, or by Holt's Thailand program (our caseworker didn't know which).  It seems that our home study agency has been super proactive and has been e-mailing back and forth with Holt over the last four weeks, trying to get our homestudy finalized (which has been held up because we don't know yet if we're going to be accepted to the Thailand program, which we don't know yet because we don't know if Thailand will accept us to adopt "Chloe".  Yes.  We like to do things backwards.).  So now Holt is asking our home study agency to send a child specific home study, which, again, is really backwards from the way things are normally done- usually a home study would be submitted, then you'd receive a referral, then you'd accept the referral, then you'd submit a child specific home study.  According to our case worker, this is beyond the realm of her experience, so she's pulling in a higher up at our agency, who not only has a lot of experience with special needs adoption but who also says in her 20 years hasn't approached an adoption this way, either.  It just wouldn't be fun if we didn't make things interesting.  Yeah.

So the fact that I'm receiving this news while I'm already physically exhausted just makes it so much more draining.  But encouraging.  They wouldn't be asking for this if they weren't still considering us.  Right??

THEN I checked e-mail.  Chloe turned 20 months old today.  The last info we got about her was from 4 months before the update we received today.  We got 4 new pictures (is it possible that she got even cuter??) and an update on her health, development, etc.  She's healthy and developing well.  She was described as "cute", "sweet", "spoiled", "strong will", "smart", and shows signs of worry when separated from familiar caregivers.  It stated that she is so cute and lovely and that is why she is spoiled by everyone around her.  (I pretty much just want to squeeze her and kiss her already.)

In many of the photos we have, including those we received today, there is another sweet little girl.  The report today stated that the other little girl and Chloe have become best friends, like sisters.  I wish I thought Thailand would let us try for two...

Um, and then the report closes by stating that the orphanage staff are so glad to learn that she has an adoptive family of her own??  Jeesh.  I would so love to know exactly what is happening in Thailand right now.  (As much as I would totally love to get my hopes up through the roof, the last contact I had with Holt a couple of weeks ago said that there was another family who was interested but hadn't made a decision.)

So are you getting a picture of where I'm at right now?  I am too tired to do my usual 100% mercurial response, but I still can't help but try to analyze it all, am so glad to finally hear some news, wish we would finally hear THE news for pete's sake, glad that there's again something we can do to try to help our case (meet to work on the child specific homestudy), glad that there's a sort of forward step in motion while still realizing that every time we take what seems to be a step forward we still somehow seem to manage to maintain the same holding pattern, drained, just want to DO this already and bring this child home so she doesn't have to wait in an orphanage any longer, SO excited to receive new pictures and an update, feel like crying over the fact that I'm receiving photos and an update instead of holding this little person, still realizing that we have no clue what the outcome of this will actually be- it all seems to point to her joining our family, from my perspective, but I'm not the one with the big picture here.  We just don't know.  Etc., etc., etc.  And so on.

There.  That's the long, rambling, inconcise version of where we're at.  Hope you can at least get the sense of what's going on, if not the details.  Thanks for your patience, and for listening!   

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

And the Roller Coaster Ride Continues

Last Monday, the roller coaster was UP!  Our home study was submitted to Holt!  Now we're getting somewhere.

Nine days later, with not a peep, the roller coaster is dowwwwn.  Maybe we've been forgotten?  Pretty sure we're not going to hear anything.  Ever. 

(Am I starting to sound like a broken record?  Don't answer that.)

Sunday, June 5, 2011


Today I came home from church overwhelmed by life and came this close to cancelling my own birthday party which was scheduled for 5:30 this evening.  Ramsey sent me to bed for a nap.

I slept for two and a half hours, which was great except for all the weird, vivid dreaming. 

Here's a snippit.  Ramsey and I were on a plane.  In fact, we were the only ones on the plane.  No pilot, no one.  For some reason, this fact didn't seem to be concerning us at all until an automated plane voice came on with an announcement.  Something about the fact that the plane was low on fuel and so would be--- the rest of the announcement wasn't very clear.  I ran into the cockpit to discover that apparantly the fact that the plane was running out of fuel meant that it was going to be crashing.  I yelled for Ramsey to come land the plane, he yelled back something about not knowing how to fly planes, I started trying to tell him to reconsider that ("it's easy, you lift the thing  up to do one thing, and lower it to do something else---") but really didn't have time to finish persuading him when it became obvious there just wasn't going to be time to figure it out.  A gigantic skyriser was looming in front of us- there were levels of balconies on the outside and we were so close to the building that I could see the shock registering on the faces of the people standing on them when they saw our plane flying at them, then the people turning to run away.  I thought something like, "so this is what if feels like just before you crash a plane", then I closed my eyes, grabbed the armrests of my seat with both hands, and prayed (fervently!), "Jesus, the only possible way this plane can not crash, is if You land it!"  I felt the front of the plane lift straight up, then loop backwards, roller-coaster style.  I kept my eyes closed even when it levelled out, and kept them closed as I felt the wheels hit tarmac.  When I opened my eyes, we were sitting on a runway.  My hands were still clutching the armrests.

Take from that what you will.

Here's the latest-  Holt (our international agency) asked us to fill out some very detailed questionnaires, and also have our home study agency submit a draft of our still-being-completed home study, for their and Thailand's consideration as they decide whether or not to allow us to move forward with adopting Chloe.  We booked it to get our questionnaires completed, then learned that our home study agency's protocol doesn't allow for submitting incomplete home studies.  So our case worker diligently continued working away at our home study as we waited on one remaining document (a letter from our health insurance) to come in.  Last week our case worker gave us a copy of the home study to review for factual errors- so close to the end!  Then she submitted it to the agency for review, and the insurance letter arrived.  Last night she called us to get a few final details nailed down, then was going to be sending the home study in to our agency.  It will get one final review there on Monday, then will be forwarded to Holt.

I think last night somehow the weight of the impending decisions just sank in all the more.  As soon as this week or next, or as far away as who knows when, we'll be getting real answers as far as whether or not we can adopt Chloe.  Another dream- I dreamt last night that I answered a phone call from Holt, and, as I began to realize the direction the phone call was taking, I began to wake up.  The dream continued in that fog-like mid-way between sleep and wakefulness state until I realized, "I don't have to dream this," and shut it off.  Nice to be able to shut off news that you don't want to hear. 

I go back and forth between thinking of all the positive things that we have going for us and why they really should say yes, and realizing all the things that they will be counting against us.  When I'm in an especially low place, I wonder if they would be right.  Part of me can't wait to hear the answer.  And if the answer is no, part of me doesn't want to ever hear the answer.

I told God that if we can't adopt her, to please, please give her another family.  Then that reminded me of the story of Solomon and the two women with the one baby- so I asked God, "Doesn't that make me her real mother, then?"

I could babble on and on, because that's pretty much where I'm at right now.  But, ultimately, God knows.  And, ultimately, we trust God.  We are praying, praying, praying.  We are watching videos, and looking at pictures, and reading the write-up, for the 37 millionth time, and falling more and more in love.  This is hard. 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

My Mini-Venture

I got up my nerve this afternoon to visit a local Thai restaurant and ask how to pronounce Chloe's real name.  It's quite pretty...  Wondering how it would sound pronounced with a Maine accent... 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Our Questionnaires for the Selection Committee Meeting are Finished--

we submitted them via e-mail at the end of the day today.  Now we wait (and pray!) to hear the decision.  I asked when the Selection Committee Meeting will be held, I'll let you know when I hear.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Selection Committee Questionnaires...

We submitted "Chloe's" info to an international adoption clinic at Tufts on Wednesday (they move fast- when I called on Wednesday afternoon, the woman asked me if it would be ok if they didn't get back to us with results until Friday since one of them would be out of the office on Thursday.  "Um, sure, I guess we can live with that.") and got their results on Friday.  Glad we bothered, they pretty much told us everything we already know.  Well, she did bring up things that we may want to have ruled out in the future, so that was helpful, I guess.  It was pretty much a formality on our part to make our agency happy anyway, so fine.  After I heard back from the clinic, I told Ramsey the results, then e-mailed Holt to say, "Yes, it's official, we definitely want to pursue this adoption, please send us the questionnaires."

So that begins our committee selection process.  We are working our way through the questionnaires (really hoping to get those completed this evening) then will send them in to Holt.  Holt will use those, and the draft of our home study, to assess whether we will be a good match for Chloe.  No pressure.  We are being asked how we came to the decision that adopting this particular child is the best decision for our entire family, how we will know when our family is complete, how we plan to help this child cope with racism and "white privilige",  how we will prepare this child for adulthood when she will not have the racial buffer of her caucasian family's presence, and what difficult behaviors we feel especially equipped or unequipped to handle and how we would deal with them.  We are being asked what experience we have with children with this special need (um, what are we supposed to say to that?  There aren't a lot of kids around here missing multiple limbs...), what services and support groups are available to help us meet this child's needs, what anxieties and concerns do we have about adopting this child, what are our hopes and dreams for this child and how would we feel if she never acheived these things, and so on, and so on, and so on... 

Prayer request update-  Ramsey has submitted a bid on a job that, if he gets it, would make a significant dent in our adoption fees. We'll hear sometime after the 18th if he gets it.  It would be a huge answer to prayer if he does, so please be praying!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Not THE News, But Still GOOD News! : )

This morning I was thinking things like "No news is no news" and I felt like we would just never hear anything.  Ever.  That somehow our whole adoption would just fizzle into nothingness because we would never, ever hear anything.

At mid-day, I took the kids to the library and when we came home I checked the phone to see if anyone had called.  Nope.  I checked e-mail, expecting the same.  Wait- two e-mails, from the Waiting Child Program manager!  (And more followed!)

Here's the news- the Thai government still needs more information about our family in order to make a decision.  She asked that our social worker send a draft of our home study.  (So we went out on a limb and told our social worker to please go ahead and write our home study for Thailand- they have to write a country specific home study but we had been advised against making ours specific to Thailand until we got an answer.)  They also have a set of child specific questionnaires for families to fill out in preparation for their selection committee meeting (the process in the WCP is that when you have identified a child that you want to adopt, Holt has a selection committee meeting to decide if it will be a good match for the child.).  In order for us to be able to move forward with the questionnaires and their selection committee meeting, they decided to send us "Chloe's" information! 

We now have her full informational write-up, almost a hundred photographs, and about 30 minutes of video of this sweet girl who has, until now, been living in our hearts on the basis of two photos and two paragraphs of information.  This is like a gold mine!  We spent half of the afternoon looking at pictures, reading through her info, and watching videos.  (The other half of the afternoon, I spent e-mailing and phone calling family, our social worker, Holt, and the clinic.)  Watching the videos was amazing.  It was so awesome to get a sense of her personality.  She is such a sweet, patient, easy-going little person...  And so beautiful!  Can you tell I'm in love?  : )

They also asked us to have her information reviewed by medical professionals, then get back to them to let them know if we want to proceed with the process.  Well, we already know what our decision is, but we've gone ahead and sent in our info to an international adoption clinic- they specialize in evaluating the medical information provided.  We should hear the results of that evaluation on Friday, and will give them our "decision" then, though I already e-mailed her to tell her to feel free to send us the questionnaire any time.  There's pretty much nothing that would make us decide not to try to adopt her.

So, in summary- we're still waiting to hear a "yes" but we are extremely encouraged that things are now also moving on the Holt end.  This means that they will be working on things simultaneously as we wait on the Thai government, instead of waiting to hear Thailand's answer and then getting things going with the agency.  If Thailand says yes, we will be that much further ahead in our process.  It also encourages us to see that the agency thinks it's worth pursuing right now.  And it is a blessing beyond description to get to see this little girl- who could become our daughter- in so much more detail, and definitely the boost we needed in the middle of this wait!  (And it feels so good to again be able to be proactive in moving things along.)

(P.S.  Along with all the excitement about this, there is also other good news- the option that we came up with for private health insurance is both acceptable for our home study AND affordable!  Woohoo!)

Thank you, Lord!  And, pray-ers, please keep praying!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Health Insurance

I got a call from our caseworker last night, right in the middle of trying to fend off five hungry kiddos while I cooked supper and waited for Ramsey to arrive home.

She had news.  Not any news I was hoping for, of course.  Turns out that what we currently have for health coverage will not be sufficient.  The word "dealbreaker" was used, in fact.

This was discouraging news, to say the least.  I did not shoot the messanger but I have to admit that, when I hung up the phone, a few innocent bystanders may have barely escaped with their lives.

Ramsey is self-employed so we've never had private health insurance because, for a family our size, it would cost the equivalent of three mortgage payments every month.  Thankfully all we will need to have covered at this time is the child we will be adopting.

God has a plan, of course.  I see-saw between "what are we going to do??" and "can't wait to see what You're going to do!"  Adoption is Trust God Boot Camp if there ever was one.

I will be spending the rest of the day online and on the phone, letting health insurance companies duke it out over who gets to cover one very special waiting child.  Lowest bidder wins, of course.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Boy, God has just got some kind of sense of humor...

The fingerprint results came today!!

The New Canadian Fingerprint Plan

Unless by some miracle the results of Ramsey's paper fingerprints arrive this week (11 weeks ahead of schedule), the plan is now that Ramsey will drive back to Canada next Tuesday to submit his fingerprints electronically.  Feel free to pray for a miracle, Ramsey's not relishing the thought of the 10-hour round trip!

Friday, April 29, 2011

News (prayer request!) from the North.

Well, pray-ers, here's the latest-  There was a bit of a hold up at the border, and, as a result, Ramsey got in to Canada too late to make it to get fingerprinted.  Of course now it's the weekend and the plan was that they'd be coming home Sunday.  The obvious answer would be to stay through until Monday and do it on the way home then, but he has another guy with him and I don't know how flexible that guy's schedule is.  If they don't get the fingerprints done in this trip, it means either waiting a looong time for the results from the paper copy to arrive (which would hold up our home study being completed) or making a separate long trip back to Canada to get it done electronically.

Of course my natural reaction is to stress right out and, I have to admit, when I was on the phone with Ramsey hearing this news, my stomach started to sink.  But almost immediately God reminded me of news we got on Wednesday that seemed like yet another brick wall and that I went to bed crying over that night- and that He resolved easily the following morning.  So I feel remarkably peaceful and am just waiting to see how He's going to deal with this.  I'll let you know when I find out!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Infamous Home Visit!

Of all the myriad of nerve-wracking and invasive home study requirements, the home visit has to be one of the more stress-inducing.  I know for me, in all the years that we've talked about, prayed about, and researched adoption, that's been the One Big Thing that I've worried about.  So I thought I'd write up a description of how ours went while it's still fresh in my mind- maybe it will help ease the stress of someone else that's gearing up for their own!

After all of the paperwork (tax information, background checks, medical information, identifying certificates for everyone in the family, autobiography questionnaires the size of novellas, etc., etc.) is handed in and the  home study is paid for, your file is handed over to your case worker who then calls to schedule your interviews and house check.  Your case worker is the person who will review all of your information and will write your actual home study.

As it turned out, our case worker said she'd come right to our house to do our interviews and we'd get them all done in one day.  Which is a lot to conquer but we were glad to be able to get it over with all at once!  We'd be doing a joint interview with both Ramsey and I, individual interviews for each of us, and an interview with the kids (Reuben was the only one that she was required to interview since he's the only one 10 or up, but she included the other kids so they wouldn't feel left out- they got to draw pictures and chime in.).  And, of course, she'd be looking at our house.

We had one week from the time I spoke with our case worker to the day that we scheduled our interview for.  Which gave us a week to get the house in shape.  When we bought our house, it was a fixer-upper.  We've done a whole lot of fixing-upping but it's still got a ways to go, so we were a little nervous about that.  At this point, the work that remains is cosmetic, and our case worker told me on the phone that would be fine, but still, as you prepare for your house to be looked at, all those little things jump out at you.  No trim around the living room windows... or a kitchen window...  a bedroom floor needs to be refinished...  Is it reasonable to try to paint the kitchen this week??  (No.  No, it is not.  The kitchen remained unpainted.)  So Ramsey spent the week doing home improvement projects that seemed to us to be highest priority, and I spent the week cleaning, cleaning, cleaning.  I am, well, a bit of an underacheiver in the housekeeping department, so there was plenty of cleaning to be done.  (A bonus of the house check- my home is now thoroughly spring cleaned.)

I knew from plenty of others who have gone through the home study process that the case worker wasn't going to be giving our home the white glove test.  But still.  You want to put your best foot forward.

Anyway, the day before our visit was scheduled, three of the kids and Ramsey came down with a stomach bug.  Perfect.  I called our caseworker in the evening to tell her that I hoped it was just a 24-hour bug, what did she want to do?  We ended up postponing our appointment from 10 a.m. to the afternoon and would check in that morning to see how everyone was.  Come morning, everyone was on the road to recovery.  We went ahead with the afternoon appointment. 

Our case worker arrived at 2:30; four hours later she was on her way out the door- joint interview, kids' interview, Ramsey's interview, my interview, and the house check complete, about as painlessly as they possibly could be.

The interview questions didn't feel terrible, most of them seemed to simply expand on things we'd already been asked about in our autobiographies.  The things we said about ourselves that we would consider to be negatives (we argue, I'm a yeller) just didn't seem to shock our caseworker and on we went to the next question.  Kids say the darndest things, you know, so we'd been a little apprehensive to think about what the kids might come up with to say but the kids' interview wasn't horrible (we eavesdropped from the kitchen), and in fact it was pretty fun to hear the things they said- no probing to find out just how terrible a set of parents we were, but more asking about what our family is like and how the kids felt about the adoption, and about how they felt about getting a new brother or sister.  No worries there, I doubt there have ever been a more enthusiastic set of siblings!

And then the tour of the house.  She saw it all within a minute and a half.  She didn't look at the attic, basement, or unfinished side porch, just the actual living space.  She cared the most about seeing the room that our new little person will be occupying, and asked in the interview about the bedroom dimensions and the bedroom windows' dimensions, as well as the square footage of the house.  She wanted to see that there were smoke detectors on both floors, and asked if we owned a fire extinguisher (yes, two, one on each floor.)  Otherwise, it was just a quick tour.  At one point, as we walked through the house, she was passing by the bathroom, so I opened the door to show it to her.  She glanced in, said, "yup, it's a bathroom," then kept on walking.  (So glad I gave the toilet an extra scrubbing!)  So, I don't think I needed to focus so much on the cleaning for her benefit, but it would have been a distraction to me if I hadn't so I'm glad the house was nice and sparkly for her visit.

All in all, I'd say that not only did we survive the home visit/interviews, but I even think it all went quite well.  And really, so much of fear is dealing with the unknown, and now we know- so it'll be so much easier next time around!  ; )

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

News, sort of, and prayer requests.

I spoke with our placing agency today.  They said that our case hadn't come up in the Thai  meeting last week- apparently they often overschedule and don't get to all of the cases.  Hopefully, our case will come up in their next meeting.  Our agency wasn't sure if Thailand meets weekly or bi-weekly- either way, the earliest we would now expect to hear anything would be next week.

Obviously, I'm bummed that we don't have an answer yet, but at least the tension of "we could find out any second" is now off.  I'm back to hoping that we'll hear something in a week or two.

And, while we wait, we continue to move forward on our end.  We're getting the house ready for our caseworker's visit tomorrow.  (Hopefully we'll still be able to go ahead with that as scheduled- the boys both woke up sick during the night last night.  Praying it's just a quick, 24-hour type thing.)  After our caseworker's visit, she will begin writing our homestudy.  Ramsey has his trip to Canada this weekend, which includes getting fingerprinted on Friday.

Please pray for:
  • Chloe
  • that when our case does come up in Thailand we will be granted permission to move forward with adopting Chloe
  • that the boys will recover quickly and that no one else will get sick
  • that we will have a good visit with our caseworker tomorrow 
  • that things will go smoothly when Ramsey goes to get fingerprinted in Canada and that we'll get the results of that quickly
  • that God will provide work for Ramsey
  • that God will give us peace and patience as we wait to hear Thailand's decision 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Home Study Interviews Scheduled!

We got a call from our case worker today, to schedule our interviews and house check.  I swear, the people at our agency have elephant memories- they all remember us from three years ago, when we did a couple of initial orientation type things before Skateboard Ruben.  Apparently this lady ran the orientation meeting that we attended.  Anyway, she was very nice and put me at ease and was not at all scary.  She practically sounded as excited to be getting us through our home study as we are! 

As it turns out, we will be getting through our interviews all in one day- Ramsey's and my individual interviews, our joint interview, the kids, the house, all of it.  One week from today, next Wednesday!  That means we have one week to get the house in shape.  I know not to get so stressed about it that I pull out the Q-tips, but there's still plenty to do without getting that detailed.  I'm so glad to have it scheduled, and at a time I feel good about- a week gives us time to get the house in shape, but still over with quickly so we can keep things moving along.  I so hope we have news by then...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Can I just say that waiting is hard?

Those of you who have adopted before are laughing at me right now, I know.  But I'm not saying that I'm surprised that waiting is hard, I'm just acknowledging it.

Even the shortest adoption process is rarely as short as the DIY version of adding a kid to the family, and many adoptions take years.  Add to that the fact that I am not, by nature, a very patient person (Ramsey, I'm sure, would tell you that is the understatement of a lifetime), as well as the fact that I know enough people who have adopted to have an idea of a realistic timeframe, and I would say that I was fully expecting waiting to be the hardest part of this process.  And I was right, so far it is.

I just didn't expect it to be this hard, this early on.  I did great with it last week.  I knew we wouldn't hear anything, so I just kept on praying and life went on.  This week, though.  This week is "next week", which is when our agency hoped to have news for us.  So each day, between 12 noon and 8 p.m., there is the potential that the phone will ring or an e-mail will show up with our answer.  And when the phone rings, I will either be overjoyed and will call everyone I know (all the way back to grade school teachers) to tell them our good news and will write a blog post punctuated with no less than fifty-seven exclamation points, or I will be heartbroken.  And will write a blog post.  Without exclamation points. 

I'm still praying and praying but now I'm just feeling repetitious.  God's heard everything I have to say on the subject and now I'm sure I'm just becoming obnoxious.  Like the guy in the parable that got his loaf of bread just because he was so darn persistent.  I hope I'm that guy.  I pray that Chloe won't have to grow up in an orphanage, without a family.  I pray that God will move on the hearts of the officials who are making the decisions, and will grant us favor with them.  I pray that God will let us be Chloe's family.  I pray against spiritual forces that want to interfere and keep Chloe an orphan.  I pray that God will let me be Chloe's mama and that I will get to hold her and cuddle her and smooch those sweet cheeks.  And on, and on, and on.  When I feel like I've prayed, over and over again, every prayer that I can pray, I remember that Jesus is interceding at the right hand of the Father and I'm thankful not only that God is God and I can trust Him, but also that I'm not in this alone and that God knows my heart and it's not about how original, fresh, long, etc. my prayers are.

So.  Praying hard, working to get the house ready for the infamous home inspection, and trying to keep in mind that every day that goes by without word is one day closer to the day that we will get word.  No news is good news.  Right?  

Monday, April 18, 2011

For With God, Nothing Is Impossible...

This video is about a new friend of mine, Charlotte Seehawer, and her family.  God led them to adopt their son, Samuel, when it "should have" been impossible.  Adoption from Cambodia was closed but God led them to step out in faith and led them through one door after another in order to bring Samuel home.  As Charlotte says in the video, the doors were "locked up tight" but God opened each and every one.  It was Charlotte's encouragement that if God was speaking to anyone's heart about "Chloe", to listen to Him because God is not confined by man's laws and requirements, that first made us stop and begin to consider if God might be leading us to continue pursuing this adoption. 

We don't know what God has in store (though we are hoping to get a clue soon- our agency is hoping to have news for us this week!  Please be praying!), but no matter what His plan is, I find the Seehawer's story to be such a beautiful reminder of the greatness of our God and how He desires to use each and every one of us.  I hope you'll be blessed as well!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Long Version- Part 2

We decided that, since the agency had left it open to us to check back in later, we would at least go ahead and ask one more time. I e-mailed the WCP assistant on the morning of Monday, April 4th, asking if there were any way that they would consider waiving their sibling age requirement and allowing us to move forward with pursuing this adoption.

I probably checked my e-mail about 243 times between Monday morning and Wednesday evening, when I received a reply. The reply was from the manager of the WCP. She told me that she had recently returned from a trip to this little one's country where she met with their government's Child Adoption Center and had spoken to them regarding their flexibility regarding family eligibility. She had also visited "Chloe". She asked us to answer some questions to share to see if the country's government might be flexible in our case. Then she closed by saying that she looked forward to advocating for our family's eligibility to adopt from this country.

Even though I was so hopeful, I was still surprised to receive what seemed to be such an encouraging response! I shot back a quick reply, then received another e-mail with a little more information about Chloe, and a picture that she had taken of her during her visit- dated March 26th. What a blessing to see such a recent photo of her! She is as beautiful as ever... Her photo makes us just want to scoop her up and hold her... She is so precious.

I woke up at 3:30 the next morning, then couldn't stop my brain from composing answers to the questions the agency asked. I finally got up and sat there in the dark in the kitchen, writing our response. The sun was well up before I finished.

Again I sent off an e-mail to the agency and again I waited. This time, though, I figured that if it took 3 days to get the initial response, then I should try to wait at least a week before letting myself get too antsy.

I didn't have to wait a week- we got an e-mail on Monday afternoon. She had consulted with the country's Program Director and they'd come up with one more question they wanted an answer to- the country would want to know specifics about Ramsey's job and his schedule. I replied to that e-mail and the last thing I've heard is that she hopes to have news for us next week. Which technically begins tomorrow. Again, I'm trying to psych myself up for a wait- Friday is as much "next week" as Monday is!

So, that's where we're at. There's a baby girl on the other side of the world that has somehow, without being physically present, become as much a part of our daily reality as any of our other kids. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says "Pray without ceasing" and, boy, have we been. Ramsey and I have both had it strongly impressed on us that, if Chloe is meant to join our family, it's not going to be without a spiritual battle. We know that the last thing the enemy wants is for orphaned children to be adopted by families that will love them, nurture them, and raise them for the Lord and this is no exception. Too often he wins, by way of apathy and selfishness, but I refuse to let that be the case here, if there is anything I can do about it. Please be praying with us, for all we know decisions are being made about our situation right now. Please pray Proverbs 21:1, "The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord; He directs it like a watercourse wherever He pleases", and above all that God's will is done.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Long Version- Part 1

After lots of research and discussion, Ramsey and I finally nailed down that we wanted to work with Holt International, particularly with their Waiting Child Program (WCP). The thought that we could be a family for a child who is already waiting for a home and might be less likely to get a family because of special needs appealed to us. We applied to Holt's WCP on February 11th. As we browsed through the photolisting, wondering if one of the kids we saw there might become our son or daughter, one sweet little face caught my eye. She was a baby in SE Asia, and it was speculated that her mother had been exposed to thalidomide while pregnant- this little girl was born with no left arm and her three limbs underdeveloped. There were two photos of her- one in which she is looking at the camera with her head tilted to the side and a slightly inquisitive look on her face, in the other she is grinning a dimpled grin right at the camera. She is beautiful.

I didn't know her name so, rather than call her by the number she was listed by, I gave her the nickname of "Chloe".

After we were accepted to the WCP, I inquired about her. More than once, and felt a little pushy. It turned out that there were two elegibility requirements that we didn't meet. The first was an agency requirement- they required a minimum of 9 months between siblings, to avoid "artificial twinning". She and Zuzu are less than 2 months apart. The second was a requirement set by her country- only 0-2 siblings already in the family, though they will sometimes make exceptions for children with special needs. We have five children at home. The girl that I spoke with was nice but tried to gently redirect me- there was a family that had expressed interest in this little one and they fit the requirements, perhaps Ethiopia or Uganda would be a better fit for us. But, if I wanted, I could check back in a month or so...

Well, we felt that we had to take this as a closed door and began to explore our other options. We still felt a pull toward Asia so we looked into China which is much more flexible regarding family size. But we weren't sure if we quite met their income requirement- we decided to get our taxes done and see where we stood.

I just couldn't forget about Chloe, though. I pictured her growing up in the orphanage and, as much as I wanted to adopt her, I'd rather someone else adopt her than no one. As I prayed and fasted about her one day, I decided that I would at least try to do what I could to advocate for her to find a family. So I posted about her on facebook, I made her my signature line in my e-mails, I wrote a blog post about her. When I contacted a couple of organizations about her, I got some comments. Not just comments, but passionate encouragement that if God was speaking to our hearts about Chloe, to listen to Him. Stating that even if man says no, God can still say yes. More than one person told about their children that they had adopted that they were not "supposed to" have adopted.

At first I struggled with hearing this, wondering if I were just hearing what I wanted to hear, or if God was really conveying a message to us. More talking and praying...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Good news regarding Ramsey's Canadian record check!

Because Thailand (and China, which is our alternate country choice) is a country party to the Hague Convention, Ramsey is required to have a Canadian Criminal Record Check completed as part of our home study, because he attended college in Canada. Having his fingerprints submitted through snail mail would mean we wouldn't get the results for well over 3 months, which is considerably after the rest of our home study should be completed, and could hold us up from moving forward with our adoption. We looked into it and learned that having one's fingerprints submitted electonically is a much faster process (days, instead of months) but can only be done within Canada. That alone could be reason enough to take a trip to Canada, if it looked like forward progress were going to be significantly delayed, but, as it so happens (God has such a great sense of timing, doesn't He? : ), Ramsey will be speaking at a conference in New Brunswick in two weeks- his first time traveling to Canada in years. After many phone calls, we were able to get in touch with the actual person who can do the job. Ramsey will pop in on his way to the conference to be fingerprinted and submit his request and we should receive the official results 7 to 10 business days afterward- just in time to plug the results into our, hopefully, otherwise completed homestudy. Thanks, God!

So- I do still have the story of how we've come to the point of trying to adopt a little girl from Thailand on it's way (and I may be biased, but I do think it's a cool story), but I wanted to get this praise out there for those that I had asked to pray about the record check situation. Thanks, pray-ers!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

We're adopting! : )

If you know us well, you know that Ramsey and I have had a heart for adoption for, well, as long as either of us can remember. It's something that comes up frequently in our conversation and in our prayers. We are thrilled when we hear that friends are adopting and seeing photos and videos of homecomings make me cry.

So it probably doesn't come as much of a surprise to many of you to hear that we're adopting again. We've been in serious discussion and prayer about going ahead and taking the plunge for months now, and in February we made it official by applying to Holt International's Waiting Child Program and beginning our home study with Maine Children's Home. We have finally submitted the last of our home study paperwork (other than waiting on a Canadian background check to be processed for Ramsey) and should hear from our caseworker soon to begin scheduling our interviews.

The big question- "Where?" Well, the short story is that there is a little girl in Thailand that we are praying hard that we will be able to adopt. God would have to open a couple of doors in order for that to happen, so please be praying with us about this. This week we would especially covet your prayers- it is important in that both our international agency and the Thai government will be making decisions about their willingness to waive certain requirements so that we can go ahead with adopting this little sweetheart.

Like I said, that is the short story! The long story will be following, probably in several installments, over the coming days. But I at least wanted to get this blog off the ground with the short version so that people have a place to come to be updated.

Check in frequently- I plan to update as things develop. Thank you for joining with us in our journey, and especially thank you for your prayers!

Oh, and p.s.! "Insert Blog Name Here..." is not this blog's permanent title! Suggestions for a better title are welcome! : )