Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve

Five years ago, I waited and waited for the Christmas season. I knew the sooner we got through Christmas meant the sooner I'd be holding my first child in my arms. To our surprise, our daughter came early and that Christmas Eve, we were able to take her to church for the first time. There are no words to express how it felt to breathe in the Christmas story while snuggling my tiny 2 week old Gracie close. For the first time, my mind really processed the thought that God His son to us, as a baby. Christmas Eve has never been the same.
3 years ago, I sat in a new (to us) church building in Alabama, 38 weeks pregnant and knowing no one there but my own family. My heart overflowed again as my precious baby son kicked and moved in my belly while we sang Silent Night in the candlelight. The anticipation for Liam's arrival was great and once again, I felt the Christmas story in a whole new way. Dear Mary, in a strange place, giving birth to her baby, our Lord. Today is Christmas Eve. Tonight, we gather with our church family and listen to the most beautiful story in the world. I will have my beautiful Gracie by my side and my handsome Liam in my lap. But one will be missing. Here I am, another Christmas Eve, waiting and anticipating the arrival of our dear second son. This Christmas, we are forced to trust God more than ever. I can't hold him in my arms yet, and wrap in blankets and warm clothes to keep him warm. I can't protect him in my belly. He is here, on this earth, but he is not with us. Tonight, we will sing Silent Night and think about all that Christmas means and I know I will shed some tears thinking about my boy. Because this is hard. Waiting for him is hard and celebrating Christmas without him is hard. But even though Xavier is not, God is with us. And He is with Xavier. There is no place God can't reach. There is no place God won't go. He came to us. He joins us in the deepest parts of our pain, grief, and emptiness and offers joy, peace, and redemption. That is the beauty of Christmas. And they shall his name Immanuel, which means God with us. Matthew 1:23

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Precious Words

Today, I am recording some excerpts from four e-mails from four different people that I have received about precious Xavier over the past 2 weeks. They have all been music to my heart and balm for my soul as I ache to hold him myself.

"I heard you are waiting to bring home one of my buddies! …. We're excited to pray over him again for you!"

"I noticed him right away because he reminded me of my two year old son. He is so cute he melted my heart. I went over and picked him up and held him. I rocked him in my arms and sang Jesus Loves Me. He fell asleep and slept in my lap for about 30 minutes. He loves to cuddle and be loved on. He is a beautiful little boy…"

"Ahhhhh!! Yes of course I recognize him. Wow God is amazing. I was elated when I found out he was matched….I can tell you clearly what I remember thinking about him, He's perfect…”

"That is definitely where my hubby is going....and GUESS WHAT???? He is assigned to that age groups room!!! So he will be able to love on him for you! I have to say I LOVE how God works- He signed up for this trip the night before we met you two."

Isn't it wonderful that he is so loved?! He may be an "orphan" by definition, but he is so, so loved. So very much.

*I have removed a few words here and there that possibly contained a little too much identifying detail than what we're able to share at this point.


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

We are Rejoicing!

We found him! Our son! Our story to him is long and complicated, but I wanted to share some of it.

During the month of August, we were feeling so discouraged with our situation and really beginning to feel like a match through our agency was a very long time away. We began to look into the possibility of switching agencies, but as we explored possibilities, it just didn't feel right. That was a hard time. We received many photos and files of darling children during those few weeks and it was very difficult for us. Many of these children seemed like they'd be a wonderful addition to our family, but something was holding us back. We just didn't know what.

On August 31, we received a text saying an agency had many boys waiting and no families to match them with. We had family visiting and it was a busy day, so I kind of just shrugged it off for a bit. Eventually, I looked up that agency's site. That's when I saw our boy for the first time. There were many beautiful children listed, but he captured me right away. We still weren't sure though. Switching agencies felt like such a big deal. Later that week, I called his agency, just to get some details. They connected me to an awesome case worker right away. She asked if I had looked at their site and if there was a particular child we were interested in. I still didn't feel right about choosing a child, so I said no. I told her we just wanted to know if they felt like they could match us and get some details about switching. She told me she had a boy in mind, but didn't say who.

The next morning, she called again and asked if she could send a file. She had spoken with their director and they both felt they had a great match for us. It was our boy, the one I had seen earlier in the week who had stolen my heart.

From there, there are just lots of small details that all just lined up perfectly and confirmed that he is ours. Of course, there were also heart wrenching moments that made us gasp for breath thinking we might lose him. I'm not gonna lie, I wasn't getting much sleep during that week. We had 2 weeks to make a decision and we used almost the full amount of time. We wanted him so badly, but we wanted to know for sure he was our son before we said yes.

We are so happy we were able to say yes! We can't wait for him to join our family! He is almost 2 years old, just 1 year and few weeks younger than Liam. His birthday fits right into our family "birthday season". We can't share many more details publicly at this time, but we are more than happy to share about him in a more personal setting. And though I can't share photos yet, I can assure you... he ties Liam for the cutest boy on the planet. ;)

We are rejoicing!!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Sewing for Him

We made the official decision to move forward with international adoption in November 2012. I'm just not going to lie here... the wait is getting long. We didn't contract with our agency until early May 2013, so we're still within their expected time line for sure, but it's just starting to feel very intangible. We're finding much too easy to lose focus, to feel like it's never going to happen, to question decisions made, and to just feel discouraged over all. We've been done with paperwork for a while, so during this waiting time, sometimes it feels like we're not doing anything at all. We've been reading and educating, and you can never do enough of that, but even reading is getting old. We are exhausted with answering "Still waiting..." every time we are asked how things are going. Please keep asking though. Knowing people care far outweighs the frustrating answer. Knowing our baby is loved and thought of by our friends and family is the second best thing to knowing who he is.

Last winter, I took my very novice sewing skills and learned how to make little tag blankies. I started with 4 fabrics and began to sell the blankies to put towards the adoption. It has turned into somewhat of an obsession. I found that choosing fabrics, matching ribbons, and sewing gives me a little bit of creativity that is good for me. More importantly, I'm finding that sewing and selling these little blankies makes me feel like I'm doing something. It makes me feel like I'm preparing for him. I think of him, and of all the children waiting while I cut and sew. I like being able to financially contribute to our little adoption account. It's been good for me.
Proof of my obsession!

Recently, I took it a step further. I made one for him. I know, I know... "He" might be a girl. I definitely don't have a good track record for guessing the gender of our children. But I had to do something. So I just did. Really, there is a really, really good chance our baby is a boy. I spotted this soft, sweet flannel and I just knew it was for him. It's not what I planned. I had planned on waiting until he we know who he is and choosing from several other fabric choices I had in mind. This fabric is not anywhere close to what I was thinking of. But I just couldn't help it. It's all full of love and it's all for him.

So I wait. And I try to keep focused. Enjoy being a family of 4. Love on the current "baby" of the family (even though he is trying with all his might to be big boy). Make sure our house is ready for another person. Work on getting ourselves as healthy as possible (we're going to have to keep up with 3 kids!!). Pray for our caseworker and for our partnership orphanage. Try not to think about the fact that our baby is another month older and we can't be with him... yet. Hope he's being well cared for and loved. And sew. ;)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

A Shelf of Hope

This week, we went through the agonizing process of declining another referral. I share this news because, although sad, it is part of our adoption story. We were pretty optimistic about this little one, so excited to receive the call, and hoping so very much that he was the one we've been waiting for. His file looks great, so we were shocked when we found out that there was more to the story. It is quite the miracle that we know what we know, so we are grateful for that, but gosh, it's still hard.

This referral just happened to come right as we are getting some closure to our declined referral from last October. That beautiful little girl is in the arms of her forever family, finally! They are still in China finalizing her adoption, but are coming back the U.S. soon. We are so happy to see her in the arms of her parents. They look perfect together. It has been awesome that we've been able to follow their story all along the way.

It grieves us that so many children are waiting for families. It hurts our hearts that we cannot welcome them all into our family. But as we grieve, for this little boy we had to say no to, and for all of the precious waiting ones, we remember with hope that soon one less will be waiting and our family will be one person bigger. As much as he is waiting for a family, we are waiting for him. We want him so much.

In preparation and as a tangible expression of my hope that he will be home with me soon, I cleared a shelf for him today. There's not much on it yet; Gracie has stolen his books, Liam claimed his stuffed panda, and we're hesitant to purchase much without knowing gender and size for sure, but it's all his. And I'm sure it will fill up soon enough. :)

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

I Searched the World for You

Well, actually, we're still searching. Or waiting, really, while our case worker searches. Jared surprised me with this special necklace today. He said he was saving it for when we accept a referral, but decided I needed it early. I did. I've touched it many times today thinking of this unknown little one. Praying for some news soon.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

He is Good

I know it's time to update because the past few times I've texted or called family and friends, I've gotten a "Is there any news?!!!?" response. The answer to that is, yes, there is news, but no, not the kind of news we've been wanting and waiting for. In short, it's looking like our wait is going to be a bit longer than we originally thought. Basically, when we started the process of adopting from China, we assumed that we would be matched from the shared list, because that's how many families were being matched at the time. But during the past year, fewer and fewer minor special needs children are being listed on the shared list, and more of those children are being placed with specific agencies through orphanage partnerships. Our agency is relatively new to orphanage partnership. We only have one partnership and currently, all of the children from that orphanage who are paper ready for adoption have already been matched with families (which is absolutely amazing, by the way). The good news is that they are currently working on paperwork for 45 children! Most of those children will be severe special needs, but we have been told that 10-15 of them will have moderate special needs. We don't know if one of the moderate needs babies is our child, and the paperwork won't be ready for another few months, so it looks like it will be at the very least a few months until we are matched, if not longer.

Is that news disappointing? Yes. Of course it is. But it's ok. Adoption is full of delays and changing plans. Our plan has changed all along. One thing that prompted us to start earlier than planned was hearing stories of Ethiopia adoption where the wait time increased dramatically for families in process. Our wait time has not increased dramatically. We are excited to know who our baby is. We want him in our arms. We wish it would happen sooner than later. But we will wait for him. He (or she, of course!) is worth the wait. We've heard it said many times and we believe it! We will pursue him no matter how long it takes.

And in the meantime? While we wait? We remember that God is good. We tell our children "God is good, all the time". Because He is. He has been so good to us. His goodness is seen in our agency's partnership with this orphanage, in the care of waiting children, and in the connection of families. I see His goodness in the joyful dancing of the two miracles our family has already been given. I see His goodness in the sunshine coming in the windows. He is so good to allow us, our little family, to be part of this amazing miracle of life called adoption. He was good when He called us, and He is good in the wait.

We don't know what the rest of the year holds for us. Maybe we're waiting longer so we have more time to save and have the rest of the money we need. Maybe our baby just isn't ready yet. Maybe my heart needs more time to just be Gracie and Liam's mama. Maybe there's a really good reason we aren't supposed to travel this year at all. I don't know. I don't know why children are born with special needs or why they must wait for a family. But I know that my God is good and He has a plan that is far better than mine. Today, I'll rest in that.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Still Here, Still Waiting

I haven't updated much, because there hasn't been much to update. We are in one of our last stages of waiting before being matched. We've been fingerprinted, approved to adopt from China by U.S. Immigration, and had all of our paperwork authenticated, and now it's all on it's way to China! What we are waiting on now is called LID, or a log in date. Our case worker said we could have one in as little as 2 weeks (Eek!!), but I've also heard from families that it took 5 weeks to get one. And of course, we are still in the middle of Chinese New Year celebrations, so I'm prepared for a longer wait. This step is huge because after we have an LID, we are able to be matched with a child from the shared list!

So, for those not in the adoption world, there are 2 ways we can be matched with a child. The first way is to be matched with a child from the shared list, which is released about once a month to all agencies. After we are LID, our caseworker will look on the shared list for our child. We could be matched the first month or it could take several months. The other way to be matched is with a child from an orphanage our agency has partnered with. Currently, our agency only has one orphanage partnership, but it's still a possibility that our baby is there!

So, basically, we're back to waiting. Waiting for a log in date, and then waiting for a match. We are so ready. I mean, as ready as we can be, I guess. But ready. Ready for a face. For some details. Ready to fall in love again. I can't wait to see who this very special little one is. But for now, we wait.