Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Desires of our Heart

"Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart." Psalms 37:4. I just received an email from our new agency stating that they have received our application and the girls have been removed from the waiting child list and are now officially on hold to be our children!!! They're sending the paperwork to us tomorrow.

Next, we'll have to send in a pile of documents that will be translated and sent to Ethiopia. After they arrive in Ethiopia, our case will be assigned a court date and then we'll travel to pick them up once we pass court. We're estimating sometime in January or February to be home--but who knows-lots of variables.

This is all so surreal. I look at their pictures now with a longing-knowing that they are waiting and don't know that we are coming yet.

Please pray for them as they wait-that they would be safe, healthy and strong. Pray also for the process to go smoothly and that they would not have to wait unnecessarily (they've been waiting since July).

We can't post pictures or even their names until after we have passed court in Ethiopia (they are super cute!).

The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with JOY.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Round Two

I sent our application to our new agency this morning. We enclosed a letter stating our desire to adopt two little girls on their waiting child list. Nothing is official yet, but once our application is reviewed and accepted (which shouldn't be a problem) they will be officially referred to us and we will start the process of passing court in Ethiopia and bringing them home. We are praying for God's provision in this matter and trying not to get too excited about everything (which is extremely hard once you've seen their little faces).

We take comfort in Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." This was one of the scriptures cited in my bible study this morning. It is amazing how God continues to speak to us through His word and reveal his plan.

We don't know how this will all work out, but we know that God can do all things. This may not have been the "plan" that we were on, but Isaiah 55:8-11 states "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, " declares the Lord. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, My thoughts, than your thoughts..... We're relieved to know that we don't have to have it all figured out. God is doing that part and we just have to follow Him.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Proverbs 4:11

So our church service today spoke directly to us-what else would we expect this week. The whole service was about God's calling in your life and stepping out to follow Him. The songs spoke to us. The scripture cited spoke to us, particularly Proverbs 4:11 "I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths." We continue to pray for wisdom and we're grateful for the clarity and peace that God has brought our family this week!

Play Ball

*Caleb started T-ball this past week and had his first game on Saturday. He loves it and it has been really good for him to be on a team. His coaches are great and he's having a blast. Nick couldn't be more in his element I just keep reminding him that Caleb's only in T-ball, not the pros.
*Caroline started preschool 2 days a week which she loves. Every night she asks me, "Do I go to school the next day"-meaning tomorrow. We're in a continual countdown to the next day of school.
*Colton keeps up with the rest of them, riding bikes and scooters and anything that makes a "vroom vroom" noise. He's also developed a love for football-much to Nick's delight.

Friday, September 18, 2009

God Answers Prayers

Warning, this is a long post. This has been an awesome week of prayer and prayers have been answered! God has brought great clarity and direction to us and we are excited to see what He will do in our family. We began this week with a lot on questions and a heavy burden about what we should do with our current agency. It has been amazing how God has walked us through all of this.

I started my women's bible study group again on Tuesday. I couldn't have been more glad to be starting a study than I was that day. I'm surrounding by women who love God and are seeking to do His will-truly a blessing. Several things spoke to me as we started the book. In particular, on the first page, was a statement that "So encompassing is God's attention to events within creation that NOTHING happens by chance." We are at this point in our adoption for a reason.

We contacted our social worker who completed our home study and she supported our desire to change agencies and is ready to make necessary changes to our home study. This gave us reassurance that we were moving in the right direction.

We then started the process of researching other agencies-again. Through a series of events, I came across an agency. As I've mentioned, we're one of 300-400 families on our current agency's waiting list. This agency has 9 families on their list, thus wait times are estimated to be around 3-6 months for a referral. They do not have restrictions on birth order or months between children's age like our agency, making it likely that we would be able to adopt siblings.

I contacted several families who have used this agency and asked them for feedback. All feedback was positive-more reassurance that we were heading in the right direction.

One mom gave me her number, so I called her yesterday. She just returned 2 weeks ago with her little girl and had adopted twins 2 years ago through the same agency. She had only good things to say about the agency and the care of the children in their care center. I mentioned that we had requested information about two sisters (a 3 and 5 year old). She later called me back that night and said she had taken lots of pictures of the kids in the orphanage and wondered if two sisters that she had seen were the same girls that we were interested in. She asked if I knew what orphanage the girls were in-I did not. I asked her to send pictures of the girls she had seen--it turned out that it was not the girls we were interested in. I wrote her back and told her that those were not the same girls, but that I had found out that the girls we were interested in were indeed at the same orphanage. Today, she emailed me pictures of another set of sisters that she had met--and it was them. What are the chances that I would contact this mom--chosen off a list of 20-30 other families. That she would have just returned from Ethiopia. That she just happened to have a bunch of pictures of the same girls that we just happened to come across at an agency that we had never considered in our initial agency search?? As we've gone back to their pictures, we feel more and more sure that these are the girls God would have for us.

This week I contacted the accounting department of our current agency and we found out that we would only lose $2,000-significantly less than we were original told.

Given that these are waiting children, the time frame of our adoption would be significantly shorter than we anticipated. This means that fees would be due significantly sooner than we had planned. As we talked tonight about how we would get this all done, I said to Nick, "I'd have no hesitation about this if I had a job", I then said, "I just want to look at their pictures one more time." As I sat down at the computer, my email showed that I had JUST received an email from my old boss asking if I would be interested in coming back to work a couple of days a week--are you kidding me? It's like one thing after another this week. Each time we've made a decision to move forward, God sends a little reassuring event as if to say "Yes, you're on the right track."

He's got it all figured out and its just up to us to follow Him. To take the right steps.

Prayer requests:
for these precious girls and all they've been through
for God's will, that if they are meant to be our children-things would work out
for my potential job and schedules that would have to work out for that to happen
timing and finances to fall into place

My bible study for today ended with the statement, "Don't just wait and see. LIVE and see." We pray that we would not just sit back and see what happens with our lives and this adoption, but that we would trust in God and be His hands and feet as He works out His plan-a plan that is not based on coincidence.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

We Need Your Prayers

Our blog has been pretty quiet this past week as we have struggled through an ever increasing wait time for referrals at our agency. I spoke with our specialist yesterday and she confirmed that wait times have continued to increase over the past few months and she indicated that our wait time will now exceed 18 months. When we began this journey, the wait time was approximately 12 months. It then went to 14 months at the time we joined the waiting list. People not in the process may not understand the significance of a few more months (or 6 or 10). Imagine one of your children is in another country. You know they are there. You know they need to come home and you're told you need to wait another 6 to 12 months to bring them home (in addition to the expected 1 year you've already planned on waiting). This is our dilemma.

My heart has been completely unsettled about this issue -"Hope deferred makes the heart sick...." Proverbs 13:12. Last week Nick and I decided to pray daily and specifically for patience, wisdom and clarity regarding our next steps in this process.

It is hard to know what is the calling of God to make a change and what is my impatient heart wanting to speed up the process. The bible says, "Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord" Psalm 27:14, "Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret..."Psalm 37:7.

The bible also says that "You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised" Hebrew 10:36. One thing we are totally clear on is that it is God's will for us to bring our children home from Ethiopia.

We are called to live by faith, "But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him" Hebrew 10:38. It is by faith that we began this journey and by faith that we continue it.

We are now contemplating changing agencies. This is a huge decision as we have already paid for two-thirds of our adoption and only half of that money will be refunded. It is also huge that we follow God's calling for our family and that we do it His way and not ours. Our way of course would be that the agency we are already with would have a short wait and we'd be home with our children next year. Unfortunately, we will probably not know who they are until 2011 with our current agency and there probably will not be a "they" because our agency has repeatedly told us how unlikely a sibling referral would be (I know, this should have been a red flag to us in the beginning, but I was honestly blinded by the paper chase and getting on "the list" that we overlooked it as a minor detail, when in fact it is pretty major).

So, this leads us to our next big steps:
1) we decide if we should leave our agency (an agency with an excellent reputation in Ethiopia and a stable program and strong record)
2) we then have to pick another agency (kind of scary to start the process all over again)
3) we begin the process of re-collecting documents to send to the new agency and Ethiopia
4) we find ways to make up the financial deficit that changing agencies would entail
5) we wait patiently for God to bring our children home

We will continue to "seek His Kingdom" and pray that "these things will be given to (us)" Luke 12:31. The bible says, "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart" Psalm 37:4.

Please pray for wisdom for our family as we pray through these decisions. Please also pray for the children that are waiting in Ethiopia and orphans in general who are longing for families.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day Weekend and Referral Update

So we spent our Labor Day weekend in bed. Unfortunately not in the "we relaxed, slept in, and watched a good movie" way. It was in the "whole family had fevers, night sweats and coughs-but not swine flu" way. We missed out on an action packed weekend of fun. Caleb missed school on Friday, a "Royal Reading Ball" at his school that night, a birthday party at Chucky Cheese on Saturday, and I missed my girl's night out pedicure on Sunday. Did I mention that I stayed up until midnight Wednesday night sewing costumes for the ball? And, I don't even know how to sew--my mom helped. All in all, a big bust. Thankfully, we are all well now and ready for a new week.

I didn't post about the adoption last week, because honestly I didn't feel like posting the big zero again. This week's update did bring good news. Seventeen kids were referred to nine families. Good news because 17 is a lot of referrals, and it looks like lots of those were siblings. So, we've moved up on the list to about 289 (my unofficial list, but a good estimate I think). I also read on our adoption forum that referrals will be coming in large groups now, instead of trickling in each week. This means that we can expect several weeks with little or no referrals and then weeks with big numbers. This explains the dry spell in August. Hopefully, things keep moving along and no more slow downs occur.