Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Year in Review.

I have never been one to write an end of the year letter, a year in review. But this year seems worth doing. It has been a year like none I can remember.
When I was young, I found pride in my life, which was full of adventure and never quite knowing where I would be in six months. I traveled as much as possible. When I got married, it was honestly my biggest fear, giving up the adventurous, unpredictable life. And my mom so wisely told me that the biggest adventure was just beginning. She was right. Life married, then with one, two, three, four kids is A HUGE adventure. And we moved a lot. I never felt like I was missing anything.
And this year seemed to be a year of final calm. We had a good job. A good community. New friends. Life was good and I was starting to get content. It scared me. Because when I am content I forget that the world is full of other people. When I get content, my world gets full of first world problems, like no Starbucks for twenty miles! And I forget that life is to be lived to the fullest.
It is such a balance of being content in the life we have and not too content to live without awareness of a world outside of me.
This year, 2013, was going to be our first "normal" year in a while.
And then January happened. And my heart stirred about adoption and a little boy's face I had seen just eight months earlier on a blog. We started the year taking this step of faith to start the adoption process. And a year later, we have raised all the money, we have travelled to Eastern Europe and met him, and we are getting very close to going back to bring him home.
Then we decided to try swim team. The girls loved swimming and swam every day. We joined the pool and David learned to swim. Verity learned she is not really that afraid of water.
This year was a year of firsts. Nathan made his first feature length film. A film that in January we never imagined would become as big as it has. A film with actors that people have heard of and a much bigger budget than imagined. The film is Killing Poe. He is currently editing it.
There were more firsts. I ran my first marathon. Anya joined a volleyball team. Karis and David joined soccer teams.
Karis has learned a lot about horseback riding, she takes lessons once a week. And she can now walk to trot and stop on her own. Her confidence has grown, and it has been a blessing to watch.
We have made it through another year of homeschooling and continue with our Classical Conversation co-op. Anya has started playing the flute. She goes every day to the intermediate school for an hour in the afternoon.
We have had friends move away and made many new friends.
We are completely blessed!
And we are not keeping our fingers crossed. But really hoping that by January 1st we might have another first... all the kids potty trained. At least for a couple of months! She is definitely not interested, but M&M's and cheerleading are getting her a little more interested. And we are hoping that by January 1st we might be there.
I cannot wait to see what 2014 brings!
So from our house to YOU! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

THANK YOU!

This will be a short post, but OH so necessary!  It has not been quite a year since we started this whole process. When we started the cost of adoption seemed so HUGE! I tried to be realistic. I figured the most for everything. And the amount it came to was $35,000.00

$35,000!!!!

That was staggering. I honestly have no idea what made me think we could come up with that money! We are not rich by any stretch of any imagination. But we also knew that God could provide. So we stepped in faith. And our church came along side us and supported us financially beyond what we could imagine. And friends started giving a little here and there and some gave a whole lot. We were part of Give1Save1, that helped us raise money. Our church did a fundraiser. And I even had a friend raise money through a race she was running and donate the money to our fundraising. And slowly it started coming in. Then once we were past the homestudy, we were able to start applying for grants. We applied for a few. It is a LONG process. We got one really quickly. A grant for $5000 in October.

We went on our first trip last month and it cost less than I had planned. I also found out because we are adopting a child with special needs, we get a "discount" from the NGO we are working with. Our final costs, which are mostly estimates, dropped to around $30,000.00 instead of $35,000.00

This weekend we got an email from someone saying they wanted to donate $1000.00 and another phone call stating we had received a grant for $2500.00.

I have done the numbers over and over. And with all of this, travel being an estimate, it seems that we are fully funded! These last amounts will cover our final country fees and finish covering the cost of travel for our second trip. That second trip is kind of a guess as far as cost, but we are trusting that what we have is enough. It seems like it should be.

And so I want to say Thank You! We want to say thank you for joining with us on this journey. I never imagined last January how this would work, how it would all come together. But it has! And we are SO thankful!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Our Trip... Part 2

First, I just wanted to say "Thank You" for all the encouragement I heard about my "Part 1" of Our Trip. It was such a blessing.

This one was harder to write....

The meeting and the newness and the unknown were a lot. But those I could deal with better, because those were the things that were familiar. It was not easy, but I have loved and I know what love is, I know what comes.

But then you add the politics of it all. The politics of two countries and an institution, they do not go well with the heart. They are all about rules and bending of rules and looking out for themselves, not necessarily the life of a child. And it is hard to live in a world where I cannot wrap my head around how we can put our own good and advancement over the lives of children.

And that is what it felt like what was happening so much of the time.

So the days we spent on a strict schedule, only allowed to see him at certain hours because of his strict schedule. But that "schedule" that could not be altered involved a snack, that never came. We were told he was small because of his disability. We were told they feed him extra. But the words did not match the actions. And we wanted the words, "We just don't have enough to feed them all," to come. Just something to admit they are trying, but it is too hard to have enough for them all. THAT we could deal with, but they were not telling the truth. And explaining this is hard because why would they lie? I do not know. I do not know why some people are treated better than others, but I know that prejudice runs thick.

We struggled to focused on what we were there for, not all the politics.

When we went to the orphanage, we kept our mouths shut and nodded enthusiastically as we heard about this country (which I LOVE) and looked the other way when things happened that we were not supposed to see. These things were not bad or awful, just part of a world that seems so secretive, at the sake of protecting the children. But the secrets make it seem so much more than that.

And we focused on what we were there for, to love this little boy. 

And we dealt with phone calls and people trying desperately to prove that they are better than others and we should trust them. And we listened to more lies. And we desperately tried to make decisions based on truth. And it was exhausting.

People say that adoption is not for the faint of heart, and they are right. There is so much mess that goes into this.

And the trip, it all combined, the fears and unknowns, the politics and the egos, were all just A LOT to take in.

But in the end, we know his life is worth fighting for. HE is worth fighting for. And he belongs in our family. So we came back weary and jet lagged, ready for some normal. And now, I am ready to GO again. To get done what needs doing.

And our amazing case worker here, who will fight for these children, so much better than I can is helping us fight for him. She is already giving her kidney to one of the kids who came home. A different adoptive family. Who does that? Someone who geuninely cares about these children! And she has made it known to his country that our little boy needs to have his needs met! And we are going to ask for tests to be done, to get him to a doctor to start having him cared for there as soon as possible if it is possible.

All our paperwork is in, we are waiting for a final I800 approval and then it goes back to Eastern Europe after it has been apostilled and then there is a pre-interview with the Embassy, then an Artice 5 is issued, the MOJ signs it and we get a court date. Then there is court and we pray we pass without ny hiccups. Then he is ours! Then we get to go back to bring him home.

So for now, we wait and we pray.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

First Trip, Part 1... We choose Love

It is hard to explain the trip, the one I had waited for. In a few words, it was just "A LOT." It was a lot of emotion, a lot of feeling overwhelmed, a lot of frustration, and a lot of heartache.

I do not know how to describe the moment we saw him, the little boy who we had been waiting for. I was not prepared to see how small he was. I was not prepared to see the fear in his eyes. Part of me wanted to look away. It is painful to see someone starving. I did not FEEL love.

My mind raced back to when my daughter was born eleven years ago. I was one of those weird moms that did not FEEL love then either. I was not overwhelmed with affection for her. I knew, though, that she needed me. So, I loved her. I made that choice. It was not that hard, but it was a choice. I knew I wanted to keep her safe. I sang to her and I did the actions of love. And, over time, affection grew.

Love is a choice, NOT a feeling.

Each of my children, except my fourth, came with the same fear and unknowing. And each of them needed the actions of love from which grew affection. By my fourth, I knew what was coming and affection could not be contained. From the moment I saw her, I knew already what it would feel like and the feelings came quickly.

But, each day, when it gets hard and no one listens and I am tired, I choose to love. It becomes a habit, a good habit, and one that happens naturally after you have chosen it enough.

These things are what filled my mind as I looked at a terrified little boy. I was so uncertain that we could meet his needs. It is so difficult to look at a child who is hurting. It is easier to look away, to pretend I do not see. And a small part of me -- a part that I am horribly ashamed of -- wished I had never looked at that blog and seen those eyes. Because then I would not have to make this choice. Life could go on being easy. Not that life is ever easy, but we live a pretty easy, comfortable, and blessed life. BUT I did look, and it was time to make my feet, my actions do the walking that my heart and mind have believed in for so long. The actions that declare each child deserves a home, a family, and to be loved -- this little boy as much as any. And just because it is hard does not mean I should not do it. Because I know that one day I will stand before my God, and on that day I cannot say, "It was too hard or too uncomfortable."

So, we choose love. We choose to do the actions of love. Love is patient and kind and not self seeking. I will hold and sing and protect. I will stay up late and get up in the middle of the night to soothe and comfort. I will take him to appointments and to doctors and care for his needs. It will be hard and exhausting. It is scary. But I know the actions of love will someday turn into affection.

And affection grows.

I choose love, to hold him and put his cheek on mine. We fed him. When he cried about food that they took away or when he was afraid, we wiped his tears. We held him. He wanted to look out the window ALL - THE - TIME. So, we did, and I dreamed dreams for him that he may not even know to dream, whispering about the world that waits for him.

And just days after leaving, we are starting to do the actions. We are starting to fight for him here, to put a plan in place for when this little man gets home to his family. We are preparing our family for what lies ahead because they are excited and thrilled. But, it is going to be hard, and we want them to know their place, that they ALL are part of this family. We are planning to start a schedule, to put things in an order that the kids can count on. We are working on figuring out what medical needs we need to meet immediately and setting up appointments.

We are choosing love.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Happy Birthday to David!

Today, this boy turns 6!!!!

He is a blessing!
Truly like no one I have ever met.
He is full of life and joy. Compassion and kindness. He is 100% boy and all wonderful!
His life is worth celebrating!
I am thankful to be his mom!
He has brought so much to our family.
His oldest sister says if you have not spent a lot of time with him, you really should because he is so great. His littlest sister dresses in his clothes because she really just wants to BE him. And none of us blame her, because honestly, we all wish we were a little more like David. And Karis spends most of her day playing with him.
He is handsome and smart and an amazing artist. He plays soccer and loves to build legos. He loves boy movies and guys nights with his dad. But spends most of his days with the girls in his life. His smile melts my heart every time. He has a soft heart that overflows with laughter most of the time. He is absolutely one of my most favorite people in the whole world! And I am so thankful that I have spent the past six years knowing him! I am a so blessed to be his mom! And am so excited to see the man that he is growing up to be.
Happy Birthday sweet David! You are SO loved!