Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Beating My Head Against The Wall: Part 3

Really?  More fingerprints???  I think this will be the 5th time that we have needed fingerprints for this process, as if somehow they have changed in the last 3 1/2 years.

The US Embassy is reviewing our case and is finding things that need revising (such as an easily-correctable translation error).  They have requested that both birth moms be re-interviewed, and Lord willing that will happen on February 19th.

The crown jewel of frustration, though, is that the Embassy has requested that we update our fingerprints!  Theoretically this can be accomplished before the 19th, but please pray that there will be no delays.  Our agency is working to try to get us an expedited appointment at the immigration office.  We even ended up sending our paperwork to the office in Texas overnight.  I am once again thankful to have our adoption account available because we had a check to write to the immigration office to accompany our fingerprinting request.

I confess I was working hard on my attitude today.  Both Philip and I felt like biting random people's heads off just to vent our frustration. I mentioned to Philip that I wish I could see the bigger picture.  What exactly is God accomplishing by a longer wait?  If only I knew in my heart that this delay was heaven-sanctioned.  I know it in my head, of course, but occasionally there is a large distance between this short girl's head and heart.

These past two weeks I've been so diligent to prepare to travel.  I have a few suitcases packed with donations, their room is almost clean and organized and perfectly ready.  I've even been skipping classes just to get stuff done around the house in preparation for their arrival.  Nagging at the back of my mind is the fear that this "pregnancy" will never end and people will begin to think we've been lying to them about this adoption simply because we have no kiddos yet!  Silly, I know.

Worry had its moment today.  What if something goes horribly wrong?  How much more is this process going to be delayed?  What happens if my kids outgrow all the clothes I have for them?  Will I be able to see Anya's first steps?  Will they even remember us?  And please may we get the kids home before Anya's first birthday at the end of March!  

In my frantic prayers to God, I asked to see His fingerprints in this process.  I would love to be reminded, as only God can, that this delay is not overlooked by Him, and that He has a reason for allowing it.

Bottom line: We will not be traveling until sometime after the 19th (the length of time is nebulous). Please join us in praying that our fingerprint appointment and subsequent paperwork-shuffling will also be complete by then and that the required forms will arrive in Addis as quickly as possible.  Please also pray for our kids' birth-moms as their process is being drawn out and their heartstrings are pulled again.

Thanks for your interest, love, and prayers!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Much Better, Thank You

Hey, so thanks for bearing with me through my last post- I realize it was rather emotional.  I truly appreciate all the love and care shown me, and I kinda had to chuckle at the moms who had similar meltdowns before their first kiddos arrived.  I guess I'm not as abnormal as I originally thought. But, while the gist of the emotions are still in effect, the rationale has taken over again and I am much more confident that I (and my husband and children!) will survive this parenthood adventure by the grace of God alone.

Flowers that a friend sent me to make me smile!

Update on our adoption status:

I received an e-mail this morning regarding the progress (or lack thereof)  with our case at the US Embassy.  In fact, while our paperwork was received December 26th, the Embassy has not begun to process or review it.  They had no estimate as to when this would take place, just that cases were processed in the order in which they were received.  So, please pray with us that things would speed up a little!  

Our adoption puzzle, 77.4% full

We are at 77.4% completion of our adoption puzzle!  I'm so excited to have gotten this far and have funds available for our upcoming airfare expenses.  Many thanks to those of you who have participated in it!  Hopefully I can finish that up soon and get it in a frame.

I've been so blessed by some kiddo-showers hosted by some dear friends!  The love poured out to my kids has been so wonderful.  Here are a few pics of that...

My mommy (with a friend's daughter) praying for my kiddos

Beautiful ladies!
I finished my scrapbook of our Ethiopia trip!
650 pictures- whew!

A friend was gracious and opened her home

Jungle-themed munchies

Hahaha!  I love that I had "lion food" at my shower :)

Please continue to keep us in your prayers.  I'm not expecting to travel at the end of the month anymore, though that would be really nice.  I trust that God knows what He is doing, and has it all in the palm of His hand.  Indeed, He has proven that His timing is truly perfect over and over.  In the mean time, I can't commit to much and life is on hold.  

People ask me if I'm excited?  Well, YES!... punctuated by moments of stark terror.  But there is more excitement than terror.  Besides, who could possibly be worried when they had lion kibble at their shower??

Friday, January 10, 2014

"Water Broke" Emotions: A Meltdown

Yeah, so remember my last post?  I compared a pregnant mom’s water breaking to this time that I’m in right now, waiting for Embassy.  “It is a time of complete preoccupation with your children.  Tears come easily, and the adoptive mom may not want to see anyone because she’s an emotional disaster.”  I was a teary-puddle last night for a variety of reason but mostly because of sheer fright!  

I think the emotions began as I contemplated being gone all weekend away from my husband at a ladies’ retreat.  Seriously, there are so few evenings left with just my husband and without any kiddos.  I selfishly don’t want to sacrifice them.  

Also, after the barrage of blogs I’ve read and activities I’m doing, I just got scared.  I appreciate people’s vulnerability, and I appreciate a reality check about motherhood.  No, I don’t expect it to be all peaches and cream.  There will be nutty moments, I completely understand this.  But I guess I got caught up in the anticipation of imminent doom.  

For example: one blog was about how lonely mothers get and how hard it is to meet other moms and get social interaction.  Ugh.  One blog was about “after the airport” and how a family gets so stressed after they bring their kiddos home and the novelty of black children has worn off.  Ugh.  I met with a friend (wonderful girl, wonderful mom, love her to pieces) yesterday afternoon and she shared in passing how, since they only have one car, she is pretty isolated when her husband is at work.  Ugh.  I’m scrapbooking our Ethiopia trip and looking at pictures of my Little Man screaming, envisioning years of such behavior.  Ugh.  And my Baby Girl not smiling.  Ugh.  I am looking at my house with about 18 projects in-process, and wondering how I am going to finish them all in the next few weeks.  Ugh.  And no, there is nothing anyone can do to help.  Ugh.  Oh, and the pile of laundry and dishes.  Double Ugh.  

I ended last night curled in the fetal position next to Philip, tears streaming down my face, wishing I had more time with just him.  The last 7 ½ years have been great.  There have been some hard (oh, so incredibly hard) times, but our marriage has been strong by the grace of God.  I am not waiting on babies to be happy.  I’m happy and content with just Philip.  The idea that all this will change and be a distant memory is freaky.  The joys of parenting were elusive last evening.

How on earth am I going to do this??  If one more person pats my hand and says, “Oh, it’ll be fine.  You are going to be a great mom! Your kids are so lucky.”  I just may be rude.  Accidentally, of course.  I don’t feel fine and I don’t know that I’m going to be a good mom.  In fact, I feel rather like a disaster right now, completely incompetent, completely oblivious, completely unprepared for screaming, crying, pooping, loneliness.  Maybe that is what happens when your water breaks.  You realize that the “end is near” and you freak out.  Theoretically, with some breathing and pushing, it will pass in time.

Thankfully, we have a good God.  His Word is true.  When He says that my kiddos are a gift and a reward (Ps. 127), ok.  I will trust that.  He gives good gifts.  Screaming gifts, but still the gift is good.  It is a blessing from the Most High to be entrusted with these two precious lives.  Hmm.    

So, I’m holding on to that truth today, and pressing ahead with God’s grace.  God does give us more than we can handle, but not more than we can handle with His strength.  Since He is strong through everything, I guess that means I can handle everything through Him, right?  Hmm.  

And about my husband?  Yeah, I love him tons and tons, and that will not change.  I smile when I think about this meme:

Well, if my kids know nothing else other than that Philip and I are in love, I suppose I haven’t completely failed as a parent.  :)  Just because my kids are home and my emotions are a mess, well, God's grace got us this far, He will keep us from imploding. He is good, all the time, in every situation. God has given me an incredible husband who lets me cry on his shoulder, straightens out my jumbled thoughts, and puts me back together again. I fully intend on making good use of those broad shoulders of his!

In the meantime, pardon me for being in labor, pardon my air-headed-ness and my clingy-ness and my introvert-on-steroids tendencies.  Ha ha, leg-warmers on goats are becoming a regular sight around here.  <previous post here>

Monday, January 6, 2014

Stages of Pregnancy: Adoption Style

In our church of about 130 people, we have around 15 very small kiddos, preschool-age and younger.  Two of those are still in-mama, two are just a few weeks old, and two are not in-country yet.  One of my close friends, who is also my exercise-buddy, is expecting a daughter in May.  I get to see her tummy-bump get a bit more pronounced every day that we work out together, and I get to hear about midwife appointments, ultrasounds, heartbeats, and all the wonderful and not-so wonderful things that accompany pregnancy.

In an off-beat moment of odd reflection, I began to compare and contrast a traditional pregnancy with an adoption pregnancy.

“Trying to get pregnant” - Deciding to adopt.  It’s an emotional desire with so many unknowns.  It is a decision to make, but if it will actually happen or not is yet to be seen.

“Hey, we’re pregnant!” - We have filled out the initial paperwork, and we are in-process with an agency!  It’s happening, we are taking steps, we have committed time, money and emotions and are looking towards holding a child in our arms!  Yippee!  It is a significant step, but there is still a long road ahead.

“Morning sickness.” - One of my favorite adoption shirts says “no morning sickness yet, but the papercuts are sure terrible.”  There are no words to express the unending paperwork pile.  It’s annoying, never-ending, overwhelming, always present, and always nagging.  Just when you think that maybe you can see the end, another multi-page form knocks you silly.  I remember melting in a puddle of tears telling Philip that I was not fit to be a mom because I couldn't even fill out paperwork correctly.  Who knew that paperwork could be so emotional?  Morning sickness: not just for mornings.

“Pregnancy” - Once you’re adopting, it’s a part of everything you do.  Even though you function normally through the days, weeks, months, and years of the process, it’s still in the forefront of your mind.  It becomes part of the grid through which you see life.  People around you can’t always see the process, but as a mom “carrying” a child, you’re constantly aware of it.  For me, this pregnancy has lasted about 3 ½ years.

“You’re showing!” - It’s sure fun to collect little things for your kiddo.  Even though you may not know the age, gender, or personality of your small person, you start to accumulate a little “bump” of baby things.  It’s as if the adoption is finally becoming real to you and to people around you.  You have something to show for your efforts, besides the papercuts, of course.

“Boy or Girl?” - That ultrasound is like getting your referral: it reveals so much!  Families find out the age and gender of their child or children, and they get a picture.  They learn the health status and they may even have a better idea of when the child will be “born” (brought home).  It’s an exciting time!  We had asked for two kiddos, so when the news came in that we were indeed “twinning” and that our kids were 6 months apart, we were ecstatic!

“Nesting” - It’s the same.  Completely the same.

“Miscarriage” - Though this is not part of every family story, it is a possible reality for both birth parents and adoptive parents.  I would be remiss if I did not at least mention it.  My friend and her husband had two sons in Eastern Europe.  Just weeks before they brought James and Jordan home, James suddenly passed away. (You can read her blog post <here and here>). Pain, trauma, emotions, letdown.  Anger, disappointment, confusion.  An intense feeling of emptiness where there should have been a child.  Don’t think for a moment that an adoptive parent feels less pain than a birth parent when a child is lost to death or to the government systems.  The pain and grief is the same.  Please respect it.

“9 months pregnant” - Oh my goodness, is this baby ever going to be born????  Are my kiddos ever going to be home??  I had been “expecting” for so long, and was SO ready to actually meet my children.  Adoptive moms feel that they simply cannot wait another day, but they still have not begun labor.  Ugh.  It’s the worst ever.

“Baby shower!” - Yes, adoptive parents have baby showers just like traditional parents.  There are things that we need for our kiddos that every other parent needs.  Many adoptive families register at stores just like “pregnant” women do.  We’re registered <here>.

“A contraction!!!  It’s starting!!!”  - Court.  Being assigned a court date is intense.  You pack up and travel to the place where you will meet your kids.  Emotions are high, there is still a fear of loss, and much can go wrong or slow the process down.  Emergencies still happen.  But, if all goes according to plan, you’re in the end-stages of this process!  It’s a nutty combination of excitement and panic.

“Water broke!” - You have met your children, and your heartstrings are going nuts.  It’s getting more intense.  This family-building thing is actually happening, and it’s happening soon, but the adoptive mom is not done yet.  There is still some laboring to go, some time to wait.  It is a time of complete preoccupation with your children.  Tears come easily, and the adoptive mom may not want to see anyone because she’s an emotional disaster.

“Breathe and push!” - Those moments in which I will want nothing more than to keep a death-grip on my husband.  I will need him staring me in the face helping me get through every moment, every decision, every step of the way.  When we travel for Embassy, this will be the stage I will be in.  All the years of papercuts, nesting, and emotions are all culminating in this brief time.  This is it.  This is the time to push and pray hard.  This is the time when we take our children from the orphanage and become completely responsible for their every need.  This is the changing point when our lives turn upside down for forever.  We will actually look like the family of 4 that we are.

“It’s a….” - Girl and a boy!  Yup, two kiddos at once, both of them will come out of the orphanage screaming bloody murder.  At least, Jayce will.  It is a traumatic time for the kids.  No squeezing through a birth canal, but it is a rude entry into the cold, hard world in which we live.  Their lives change, and they will need to adapt and grow, learning to live outside the routine of the orphanage.

“Rest, nest, and love” - Just as traditional families need some family time after the birth, adoptive families do as well.  We love our family and friends, and we truly appreciate them rejoicing with us in our family-building endeavor.  However, just as you would text a new birth-mom to see if it’s a good time to visit, adoptive families need the same courtesy.  

“Breastfeeding” - Praise God that the similarities end here.

(Maternity photos copyright Galaxy Photo Studio 2013)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 in Review: The New Years Letter

For some of you that are just joining this blog, welcome!  I’m glad you’re here and have taken an interest in our little family.  

Each year about this time, I write a “New Year’s letter”.  This is different than a “Christmas letter” because it does not need to be pre-Christmas, but can be anytime between Christmas and the end of January.  I appreciate this flexibility (or excuse to procrastinate). This post is a little longer than most, my apologies.

Some highlights from 2013:

Febuary: I visited a missionary friend who was back in the States on furlough

Catching up with the bestie while she's back in the
States for a few months

March: My first art show at a local coffee shop.  It was a fundraiser for our adoption, and you can read about it <here>.  Also in March, mom and some friends and I cooked for a missions training camp, full of teens.  It stretched our culinary abilities, but we only burned the spaghetti once.

My sis-n-law and I at the coffee shop

April: found me planning the wedding of some dear friends, then Philip and I were off to Costa Rica to visit Philip’s brother and sister-in-law that moved there.  It was a great time to relax and catch up with family. 

Kurt and Sadie - April 6, 2013
Meeting up with the Nephews in Costa Rica

Niece and 2 Nephews
Philip in Costa Rica with the Nephew
I know, it's tough visiting family

Quality time with my new niece!

June: I turned 28 and we had a yard sale as an adoption fundraiser.

Portland Saturday Market with a friend,
encountering some feathered beasts

July: Philip turned 29

Philip preparing for a sermon...  or at least trying to.
He's been able to take on new roles in the church and
has had the privilege of preaching fairly often.

July-August: We participated in two youth camps, one in eastern Oregon, one in Montana.  We were able to spend two weeks working with teens, discipling and training them to share their faith.  It is a very rewarding time, but also very challenging.  

One of my favorite memories was talking with a 10-year-old girl, showing her from the Bible that God is good, and He does love her.  Seeing the truth of His word seep into her mind and take root there…  nothing more rewarding!

Montana camp, Philip and I were captains
of the blue team for the week.  We look
exhausted because...  we were :)

My goofy, beloved Senior girls at the Idaho camp.
Goodness, I love them!

Philip helping a camper share the Gospel
at a park ministry in Eastern Oregon

August: Philip and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary and took a day trip to Mt. St. Helens.

Also, a good friend from Washington/Idaho passed into Eternity.  Don was an example of service, love, and sacrifice.  His life will always be remembered with thanksgiving to God.

Don Templin (center)-- looking forward to seeing him
again in Eternity.  Yes, that's me in the right foreground
trying to duck out of the way!
Mt. St. Helens

September: We celebrated Jayce's first birthday with family

Cake, fruit, and scrapbook pages-- celebrating without my
little man!  :(

October: I cooked for another missions training camp with my mom and friend. We did not burn anything.

November: We traveled to Ethiopia for the first time and met our precious kiddos, Jayce and Anya.  Many of you have read my blog on that trip, and I appreciate your ongoing interest in our process!  You can read past blogs about that trip starting <here>. There are plenty of pictures.

December: Waiting for the next phase of adoption, and finishing preparations for the kiddos.  :)  As of December 26, our case has been submitted to the US Embassy, and Lord willing, we will travel to bring our kiddos home in late January or early February 2014.  Please pray with us that there are no glitches along the way.

Jonathan and Daniel- these two goofballs took up
abode in our basement for the last few years
Ongoing activities: Philip’s brothers lived with us for about 2 years and moved out in September to their own place.  They brought joy and challenge, fun and craziness.

We continue to have a Bible study in our home Thursday nights: dinner for the crew at 7, and study at 8.  It’s a great group of “kids” (mostly college age) and we love them.  

Philip and I are enjoying a martial arts class together.  It's fun to learn something new and wildly attempt to stay in shape.

Philip practicing elbow strikes

I think that’s about it.  Have a blessed New Year. Keep checking back- I'll be posting new updates as the adoption progresses.

May the God of peace give you His peace and may you be filled with joy.

Maternity pics taken by a friend
with an inflatable globe as my "belly"