Tuesday, September 3, 2013

When God says "Stop praying and just go"

I remember when I was in college and I heard a 90-something-year-old pastor speak. He told the story about being in seminary and telling God that he would be the pastor at the first church that offered him the job after he graduated. He went on to graduate and a church offered him the job of being pastor. One of his friends asked him if he needed to pray about it to which he replied "I don't need to pray about it, God laid it on my heart, I committed to go to the first church that offered me a position and that is what I'm going to do. Sometimes God just wants you to stop praying and start going." Recently God said something similar to us.

This story started over a year ago. In the spring of 2012 when we were in the middle of the process to adopt John and Joshua we heard about a precious 3 1/2 year old girl. This little girl and her story pierced both of our hearts and we have been praying and advocating for her since then. However, her situation has recently changed and for various reasons it has become a more urgent situation and she really needs to be adopted now. We started praying, and let's be honest, I started crying. We prayed our hearts out that someone would step up to adopt her. Then God started piercing our hearts. Finally, on this past Friday while he was at work Matthew sent me a text. Those of you who know him know that Matthew is a man of few words. It simply read "We have to get ____". I called him and asked him if he was sure and he quoted this verse to me: "But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?" (It's 1 John 3:17). And there's more.... Proverbs 3:27 says "Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it's in your power to help them." So with one little text, we have started the adoption journey again!

To answer some questions we are anticipating:

1) Tell us about her! She is a precious 5 year old girl :) That's as much as you're getting for now :)

2) How much will this cost? We are anticipating that it will cost around $15,000 since some of our stuff just has to be updated. We will see though... we estimated around $28,000 for our boys and ended up pushing $40,000. So it is just really hard to estimate. And to go off that, we just have no idea how we are going to do this. We absolutely do not have the money. But two separate friends quoted this verse to me last week: Psalm 50:9-12: "I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird in the mountains, and the insects in the fields are mine. If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it." God will provide it somehow, it's all His anyways... we just aren't sure how yet :)

3) When will she be coming home? We are hoping to be home with her around the 6 month mark. But all things with international adoption are unpredictable, especially time lines.

4) Are you crazy? Maybe a little bit... but we're OK with that.

5) Was this planned? Absolutely and totally not. We had no plans to add any children by any means to our family anytime soon. In fact, Matthew was adamant that we were done having children. I wasn't willing to commit to saying that, but certainly thought that it would be a long time before we even considered having any more children. But every once in a while God tells you to stop praying and just go. Last week He finally told us to stop praying for a family for this little girl and to just GO and to BE her family ourselves. So that's what we're doing. When the Creator of the universe, and the Savior of the world lay something on your heart at some point you just have to stop arguing, stop questioning and just do what He tells you to do.

So get ready to follow us again as we set out on this crazy journey. Please pray for us! There are a lot of obstacles to overcome... but just like before He is able and Christ is greater!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A kick in the pants... Our adoption story continued....

To follow our adoption story from the beginning, check out these links, in order:

Where we started
Starting the journey
A change in plans
He leads

Our investigation had gone well and we were awaiting a court date. John was doing really really well and seemed to be perfectly healthy. Joshua however, was another story.

He was sick.... all the time. He had been treated for malaria, but continued to do poorly. He wasn't eating much, was jaundiced (where his skin and whites of his eyes turn yellow), he cried all.the.time, ran consistent high temperatures, and had horrible constant diarrhea. The director of the home, who now had become a good friend, was truly worried about him and would often take him home with her at night out of concern for him and his well being.

We ended up having the hospital in Jinja (the city in Uganda where our baby home is) run a litany of tests on our little guy and found out he had sickle cell anemia. We were heart broken. Sickle cell is a huge deal... a disease that has to be dealt with day to day. It causes chronic pain that can at time exacerbate into what are called "crises" during which the pain is so severe that often times admission to the hospital is needed so that the pain can be managed with intravenous narcotic pain medications. The tiny little clots that are caused by the disease can also have a myriad of devastating and debilitating effects such as stroke, kidney impairment, cognitive impairment among other things.

Because of our jobs, Matthew and I were both very familiar with sickle cell disease and what it looks like on many different levels. Matthew works in an administrative role at Duke in Emergency Services. The Emergency Department sees a huge number of sickle cell patients on a regular basis and he has worked with the patients, the staff and even is on a committee that works to develop ways to better serve this patient population. I have worked as a bedside nurse both in Duke's Medical ICU and the ED. In the ED I have cared for these patients in pain crisis and in the MICU I have taken care of patients whose disease has been bad enough to warrant the need for various forms of life support.

Our baseline knowledge of sickle cell was somewhat empowering in the way that we were confident that we could care for Joshua well and knowing that he would get excellent care at Duke, but not at all comforting in having seen a small glimpse of what we were getting ourselves and our family into by adopting a child with such a significant diagnoses.

We never for a moment questioned going through with our adoption of these little guys. We had been open from the beginning to a "special needs" adoption. But knowing that the child whom you hope will someday be your son is on the other side of the globe from you, suffering... is pretty much torture.

With this information in hand, our attorney filed to the Ugandan courts to have our case expedited due to his medical fragility. There is a month long court-recess in Uganda in the summers and we were worried about not getting a date before the recess....

Friday, June 7, 2013

How I make it through my nightshifts...

With cell phone picture updates of all my sweeties from my husband.... so precious!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Our adoption story continued : Going independent...

So in February of 2012 we had been with our agency for about 6 months. They had led us by the hand through the process up to that point which included our homestudy, criminal background checks and immigration approval. We had just been placed on the waitlist about 3 weeks prior. They contacted us to have a talk to us about their sibling waitlist. They had given a referral for a set of siblings 3 months prior in December, however, before that, it had been a couple of years since the last set of siblings. They said that the baby home that they worked with only had siblings come through once every few years and that since we were number 5 on the waitlist for siblings that the likelihood of us getting a referral from them was basically zero. So they gave us two options: (1) Switch to one child or (2) leave their program. We prayed and had zero peace about adopting only one child... so we left. You can see the post about that here

We found an attorney, and then after all the drama which has been mentioned before, we switched attorneys and ended up with an amazing godly woman named Rebecca Mugabi. If you are adopting independently from Uganda and have somehow found your way to our little slice of blogland here, I definitely recommend her without any hesitation. There was opportunity for ethics to be compromised, and she was unwavering in her commitment to do the right thing and to honor Christ.

We also were researching and contacting several baby homes and ended up connecting with Arise and Shine Uganda.  We quickly fell in love with the director of the home, Sharon, and she gained our trust as we saw her love for the children in her care and her desire to do the right thing. The baby home at Arise and Shine is only a small part of the ministry she has there which includes primary schools in the Kamuli district (where she is from) and family preservation efforts which include income generating projects such as bead-making, candle-making and sewing, among other things.

We were initially referred to a darling little boy and little girl. However, once we started their investigations we realized that to proceed with their adoption wouldn't be right. After that came up, we decided that it would be a good idea for Matthew to take a trip to Uganda. He met with our attorney face to face and he visited the baby home. There were 2 other sibling sets in the home at that time and only one of them matched the criteria that we had been approved by immigration for (2 children ages 3 and under) and so after praying and speaking with family and friends, we decided to pursue the adoption of John and Joshua, biological brothers who were ages 2 1/2 and 9 months at the time. While he was in Uganda, Matthew's mom unexpectedly passed away. While we were excited that our process seemed to finally be moving along, our hearts were full of sadness at losing Kathy. It was a very bittersweet time for us.

The investigation for John and Joshua was very straight-forward and pretty simple. Their story is one of love and tragedy, and loss and redemption. But it's their story, not ours, and out of respect for them we will not be sharing it publicly.

Everything was going really well with the case, but God surprised us by throwing some information at us that we never expected....

Friday, May 3, 2013

Where we left off... our adoption story

I looked back and realized that the last time I blogged about our adoption was here where I announced that we had parted ways with our agency and that we were pursuing our adoption via the independent route. After a tumultuous few weeks getting out of the gate on that change, things went surprisingly smooth.

But, about that tumultuous start. You see, there is a really big really important topic in international adoptions that every.single. prospective adopter should have heard about: Ethics (and if you haven't heard it, then you haven't done enough research). You see, adoption is a beautiful and wonderful thing, but our world is not. Satan has a way of taking things that are wonderful and beautiful and marring them. He especially likes to do this with things that God intended to be pictures of Him, His character and His gospel. Kind of like marriage... but that's a whole 'nother post for a whole 'nother day.

There is this horrible thing that is going on in the world called human trafficking. This happens to adults who are enslaved as servants or a sexual slaves, and unfortunately this happens to children, who are then presented as orphans and placed for adoption. There are a lot of people in this world who profit from adoption, and THAT my friends, is just simply wrong. Unfortunately, these practices can be especially rampant in areas of the world that have huge amounts of poverty. When people are poverty stricken, many times they will do anything they can to help themselves or their family... even deplorable things like selling and buying children. This is scarily common practice in African countries that do international adoption, including Uganda.

People are scared of this, people are rightly angry about this, and people are very very very sensitive to "red flags" that may be thrown up that may lead people to believe that a person or organization is doing things that would be considering trafficking children. Unfortunately, for those who are especially passionate about this there can also be false assumptions made, accusations made, and an impressive amount of hurtful gossip.

Luckily none of this gossip was spoken directly about our family, that we know of anyways, but was done about some friends of ours. Once the right people asked the right questions they found out that the accusations that were made were false and had been mistakes made by the parties involved that simply did not know the right way to go about these things because of a lack of experience. Even after the accusations were shown to be false, and apologies were made, people were still left in the wreckage who were hurt.

Sorry to be so vague about the exact circumstances surrounding all of this drama, but I don't want to to stir a pot that's long been settled, to call out those who may have been responsible for the hurting of others, or to reopen healing wounds from those who were hurt. God was faithful through the entire situation and He is the righter of all wrongs, not me.

So throughout some of this drama we had a couple of hiccups in our process but to be honest we can now see God's purpose in it. The entire situation led us to an attorney who is a beautiful godly woman who we trust very much. We saw multiple opportunities for her to drop the ball on ethics to save time or to make things progress faster, in which she showed her character by refusing to do. This situation led us to examine and ask questions of the baby home we adopted from, which passed with flying colors! In the end it made us ask the questions and examine the situation so that going in to this process we could do it with our head held high, and confidence in knowing that we were proceeding in a way that would bring glory to God.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

So... whatchya been up to the past 10 months?

Wow... well, I'm so glad you asked. You see, I could make excuses, but none of them would suffice. It's just that, well we've been a little busy. You see, soon after I posted last we saw these pictures...

And promptly fell in love with 2 little boys named John (2 1/2 years old) and Joshua (9 months old). They are biological brothers and Joshua has a serious and lifelong medical condition and was very, very sick. We were working hard to get their investigations done and all the appropriate paperwork done and our attorney was working to have their case medically expedited because of how sick Joshua was. We were completely engrossed in our process.

Then I started to become sick... not sick like Joshua... just sick as in nauseous all.the.time.

Matthew laughed. He knew.

I was in denial.

Until I saw something that looked exactly like this...

Then I cried.

I wish I could say that I'm exaggerating, but I'm not.

I didn't cry because I was sad. I cried because I was completely overwhelmed at the thought of 4 kids ages 3 and under.

Oh, and what was Matthew's response??

He laughed. Again.

And then 14 hours later we got our court date for our boys, and it was in 10 days.

So in a span of 8 months our family went from this:

to this:

and now to this:

So yeah, we've been a little busy. And I just now kind of feel like I'm coming up for air. I hope to keep up with this little corner of the web better than I have been for no other reason than that these days go SO fast, and I want to document as much of it as I can.

Pray for us in all our craziness, and hopefully you can keep checking back to get a glimpse into some of it :)