Saturday, March 27, 2010

Big Changes

It occured to me last week when John David had to tell Chad's parents about the changes with our adoption that maybe I need to give an update on what has been happening. About a week after my last post we heard from our homestudy agency that the government had issued a report that said that all people trying to adopt from Nepal should seriously consider switching countries. They have just not been successful in adopting out any children this past year. People who had their dossier's submitted early last year are still waiting for their referrals. And there's also been some concern that the Nepal adoption program has been corrupted. Even if we were able to get our dossier ready to submit by July, it was not looking like Nepal would be the best choice for us. So after hearing about all of this, I asked our social worker what country she would recommend for us to change to. She suggested that we consider Lifeline's China Special Needs program. Any "imperfection" in a child is considered a special need, so there may be minor or correctable things that we could handle. Lifeline also have a very successful CSN program. They actually adopted 40 children through this program last year! This was very encouraging for us since we had not seen any success with the Nepal program. It was kind of funny that this is what she suggested because China is where I started when I first started thinking about adoption. I had even seriously considered the Special Needs program. I honestly can't remember why we went away from this, but it seemed right for us to be brought back to it. We met with the CSN coordinator at Lifeline and she gave us a list of special needs for us to research and think about what we felt like we could handle. I felt like we had a few weeks to make our decision because we were still waiting on our background checks to come back before our homestudy could be completed. On March 19 our background checks came in the mail. So I emailed our social worker and told her to change the country in our homestudy to China! We also had to leave our first adoption agency since the only international country that they work with is Nepal. Thankfully, they were very gracious about it. The only problem that we have run into with changing countries is with Immigration. China is a Hague country, but Nepal is not. That means that there are different forms that you have to file with Immigration. So we will have to submit the other form and send in more fees. We are going to be able to use the fingerprints that we already had done by Immigration so that is good. We certainly did not want to have to do that again. So that is it. We are still determined to adopt. We know that our daughter is out there somewhere, we just have to find her. Hopefully, we are on the right path now. But we will continue to ask God to direct our steps!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

News From Nepal

It is encouraging that we have received some news about adoptions in Nepal. Since we have started this process, there have been very little children that were actually being adopted out of Nepal. Apparently there has been some political problems in the country and because of this adoptions have not been a top priority for the government. But last week, our agency called to tell us that they finally had some news from Nepal. They said that Nepal is going to try to get all of the 2009 adoptions processed by April. This is very excited news for those people who submitted their dossiers last year. Some have been waiting for a year to receive their referrals. Maybe now they can have hope that they will be able to get their children home very soon. She also told us that Nepal will be accepting dossiers between April 15 and July 15 for those of us who have been accepted into the 2010 program.
So what does this mean for us? Well now we have a deadline for submitting our dossier. But we have no control over how quickly we can get this done. Right now we are waiting for our fingerprints to come back (a process that we have been told can take up to 4 months) before our homestudy can be completed. There has already been a delay in this because DHR changed the method that they used with the fingerprints. Our fingerprints were sent back to us and we had to do a few additional steps to submit our fingerprints. But we have done what they have required and resent our fingerprints. I am hopeful that the reason they changed the process is so that it can be done a little quicker. Once our fingerprints come back, our homestudy will be submitted to DHR where it will be for 4-6 weeks. From there it will go to the Atlanta CIS office where it will be for 6-8 weeks. And then we will begin work on our dossier and once it is completed it will be submitted to Nepal.
All of this is completely out of our hands. We have done everything that we can do up to this point. We sent our final paperwork to Lifeline today. So, hopefully, when our fingerprints come back it will not take long to complete our homestudy and get it sent to DHR. I am praying that all of this will happen and we will get our dossier to Nepal by July. I know that only God can make it work out. I have to put my complete trust and hope in Him that it will be done in His perfect timing.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Fundraisers and Homestudies

We have officially begun fundraising for our adoption. Our first fundraiser is through Just Love Coffee. We have our own store where you can go and purchase coffee. We get $5 for every bag that is sold. It would be a great way to help us adopt our little girl and we would really appreciate any help that we can get.
I am very excited that we have made a lot of progress with our adoption in the past few weeks. We had our first homestudy meeting on January 19. Our second meeting was on January 26, where we each went in for individual interviews. And then our last meeting was on February 4. This was the one where our social worker came to our house and met the boys. So now we are done with all of our homestudy meetings. They all went very well (at least we felt like they went well). I was a little surprised at how easy all of the interviews were, I guess I expected it to be a little more intense. But I am so glad that we are done with that part of our homestudy.
There is still a lot to do before the homestudy is complete though. We are waiting for our fingerprints to come back . Apparently that can take a few months. We still have a lot of training to do. We are deligently working on that and trying not to get overwhelmed by the amount of information that we have to learn. And we also have to get our physicals done. So it will still be a while before our homestudy is complete, but we have made a lot of progress.
Everything that we do feels like we are getting a step closer to bringing our daughter home and that is something that can not happen fast enough. We know that this will all happen in God's perfect timing, but we will do whatever we can to help the process along.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Finally Starting!!

I am so excited! I feel like we are finally doing something with our adoption. Since we decided that we were going to adopt in November, we have been waiting to actually get started. I have never been very good at waiting. I am definitely NOT a patient person. I know that God is going to use our adoption as a lesson in patience. I will have to learn to depend on him to take care of this process when so much of it is out of my hands and we are at the mercy of other people to make things happen.
I knew that with adoption there was a lot of waiting involved. I just didn't expect it to happen at the beginning. First it was waiting on bloodwork to come back so that we could send in our initial application to our adoption agency. Then we had to wait for the agency to send their questionnares to all of our references. Some did not recieve them at first, so they had to be resent. Then we waited while our references sent their letters back. Finally, they all came in and we were officially accepted! After waiting for the holidays to end, we were able to get our application in to our homestudy agency. Now we have been accepted by our homestudy agency and we are ready to begin! Yesterday, we went to the police station to have our fingerprints done. We have an appointment with our adoption agency in Tupelo in Monday and on Tuesday we go to Birmingham for our first homestudy meeting. After waiting for two months, we are finally making steps to bring our little girl home!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Adopted for Life

I recently read this book, Adopted For Life, by Russell D. Moore. Some friends of ours that are adopting their son from Russia loaned it to us. So, of course, I read it and told Chad about it. It is really a good book and I would recommend it to anyone, not just those who are adopting. In the book, Moore talks about how we are all orphans, Jesus is the biological child and we have been adopted by God. He writes about how we have all been called to help orphans, maybe not through adoption, but in some way and that our churches need to actively be involved in orphan care. For those who are interested in adopting, are adopted or have adopted he tells the story of how he and his wife adopted their two oldest sons from Russia. He gives some wonderful advice on the adoption process and how to handle things after you get your child home. Anyway, it is a good book and an easy read (Chad hates it when I say that).

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

From the Guy's Point of View

How does God talk to us? It's a fair question to ask and it has many answers. I recently found out that there are 14 families in our church going through the adoption process. Not to mention the other families who have already gone through it and the ones still considering it. So obviously God is saying something to all of us and I'm not the only one that had a decision to make. Like all of the other dads, I wanted to make the right decision for my family. The guys I've heard talk about it were so sure of their decision to adopt. They knew it was what God wanted them to do. I hear them say things like, "God made it clear to us", or "so many things happened that were obviously from God". Part of me wanted to know the exact details of how God showed them the answer. I wanted to know, but at the same time I didn't because I knew the way God made it clear to them would not be the same for me. Then it started. There was no flashing sign or billboard. There was no voice from above. There wasn't even a voice from those around me. It was completely silent and calm, but extremely powerful. God placed a heavy, overwhelming emotion on my heart that I could not suppress or explain away. And it wasn't temporary. It literally lasted months. And He didn't take it away until I finally chose to listen to what He was telling me.

This was really hard for me because I consider myself a pretty typical guy. You know, the kind of guy that likes to watch football, basketball, action sports, action movies, ultimate fighting…but never anything that might possibly cause me to slightly tear up in one corner of one eye. I mean, come on, guys don't cry, right? Well, occasionally, but that's beside the point. I guess that's why God chose to speak to me through my emotions.

Yes, when Amanda first said the word adoption, my response was, "NO, we’re not adopting another cat!!" And for good reason. Don’t get me wrong, I like cats, but our three cats have all caused me a high level of stress in the past couple of years. My cat Sam actually got stuck in the wall. I was getting something out of the attic and she decided to climb up there with me. She got scared and ran around blindly. Then she fell down nine feet into a 1x2 hole in the corner of the house. I had to cut a whole in the closet wall just to get her out. Then a few months ago, our youngest cat Sunshine got extremely sick. The vet couldn't figure out what was wrong. After a few weeks, he was near death and could not eat or use the litter box. So we took him to a different vet who wanted to do emergency surgery to remove what she thought was an obstruction. She was right. Turns out that Sunshine had eaten the Lego construction worker's hat and it was lodged in his colon. So a few months later, and several dollars lighter, the cat has made a full recovery and likes to lie on his back to show me his scar. I think he's just rubbing it in. And of course our third cat Bell is completely deaf in both ears. Sunshine harasses her constantly and she responds by screaming at the top of her lungs because she doesn't know how loud she is. She sounds like a mix between a mountain lion growling and an old lady screaming for help while getting mugged.

Needless to say, I can't handle the stress of another cat. So when Amanda clarified that she was talking about adopting a child from another country, I was relieved. Sure, coming up with umpteen thousand dollars to pay for it and traveling around the world for three weeks will be stressful, but it can't be as bad as having another cat.

So the stress of adoption was not what I was feeling, it was something far more than that. I think it started when I finally realized that we lost a child with our first miscarriage. Someone at church said, "I heard you guys are expecting". I had to correct them and say that we "were" expecting. At first I thought I was upset about us losing a baby, but it didn't go away. I knew we would try again to get pregnant and I knew that would fix the pain Amanda and I were feeling. But it didn't work out that way. When indications of our second miscarriage appeared, we were just confused. The worst part about it was that we were normal. Our doctor told us that 50% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. So now we've had two healthy pregnancies and two miscarriages, so we are perfectly average. But how can this pain be normal? But the pain that started after our first miscarriage began to change. It grew into something bigger and stronger. And it wasn't pain or sadness anymore. It was like every emotion I had was amplified. I'm a pretty passionate person. Whenever I get into something, I go at it 110% until I burn out. But this was different. It impacted everything I did and I had no control over it. I couldn't figure it out and it wasn’t going away. I thought I was in some kind of funk and just needed to get out of it. I was getting emotional over things that would have never triggered this in the past. It would happen when I was teaching Sunday School, listening to sermons, driving down the road; it didn’t really matter where I was, but when it hit, it took everything in me to fight back tears.

In Amanda’s post, she mentioned a sermon that focused on what God was calling us to do. During that sermon I knew that she was thinking about adoption the whole time. It was so clear to her what God was calling us to do, but I was still unsure. I was thinking about adoption too, but I was trying to think of the reasons why this wasn’t what God was calling us to do. I selfishly thought that God should be speaking to both of us. The fact is, He was, I just wasn’t listening. I’m so blessed to have a wife that actively listens for God’s voice.

That night, Amanda and I had a long conversation about the topic. She knew I was holding back, so I tried to explain why. Because of my passionate, almost obsessive personality, I have trouble letting things go until they are complete. So if I agreed to this, then it would consume my thoughts and actions until our daughter was with us. After experiencing a miscarriage, the thought of adoption scared me. I knew that once I agreed to adopt, I would instantly become a daddy again. They call it a “paper pregnancy.” But like a real pregnancy, adoption is not an easy process and something could go wrong. What I feared was a “paper miscarriage.” So I continued to hold back on making my decision.

Then I realized it was all about control. I was holding back because I wanted to stay in control. I try so hard to be a follower of Jesus, but how can I be if I'm not letting God's Spirit lead me. So I gave it up. On the same day that we feared our second miscarriage, I dropped John David off at school. As I headed back home, the song Mighty to Save was on the radio. It's a good song, but never really meant that much to me. And once again, that strong emotion came over me and I was fighting back the tears. So I said, "Okay God, whatever you want", and I let it go. The control was now His. When I got home, I told Amanda I was ready, and off she went. I’ve never seen her so motivated. She made tons of phone calls getting information and asking friends questions. In the meantime, I pondered over my decision and retreated into my work. Part of me was still holding to the thought of backing out. It just didn’t feel real. That is, until the following Friday when we got invited to the Adoption Support Group meeting at our church. I didn’t have much to say because I was at the peak of this strong emotion and I didn't really want anyone to see it. But I agreed to go because I heard there were free t-shirts being passed out. After the first meeting, it was official. We were adopting and everyone knew it. There was no backing out now. But this was a good thing. I felt such a relief. It’s awesome to know what an amazing church family we have to support us through this process.

After that night, the emotions started to subside. It was clear that God was relieving me from the emotional roller coaster I had been on for the past few months. Although it is a relief, in some ways I miss it because it was so obvious that God's Spirit was with me. At no other point in my life have I felt so close to the Spirit of God. It's kinda cool though because as I write this, the emotions start to resurface and God once again shows me that His Holy Spirit is always with me.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Our Decision

As I was reading my Bible one morning, I came across a verse that explained exactly the way I feel right now. Jeremiah 10:23 says: "I know, O Lord, that a man's life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps." This is what I have been praying to God for several months. I have felt a pull to do something that made no sense to me and I knew that it came directly from God. So I have been telling God that my life is not my own and that He is going to have to direct my steps every second of every day to make this work. This is His plan that I am very willing to do and now it is something that I desire so strongly that I feel like I should have felt this way my whole life.
About a year ago, Chad and I decided that we were ready to have another child. I think he always felt like we would not be done after Caleb, but I wasn't so sure. But then I decided that it was something that I really wanted also. So at the beginning of this year we started trying fully expecting for it to be easy for us to get pregnant like it was with the boys. But while we were trying to conceive, I got this strong desire to adopt. It truly came from nowhere and I was extremely surprised. Sometime later, probably late April or early May, I told Chad that I wanted to adopt. We were driving down Rice Mine going to my parents’ house when I made my big announcement. He gave me a look that said I was crazy and said that if I was talking about another cat, the answer is no. Of course I wasn't talking about a cat, I was talking about a child. He reminded me that we were trying to get pregnant. I said I know, I can't explain it, it doesn't make sense, but I want to adopt at some point. He was okay with it, thinking that we would consider it sometime later.

A few weeks after this, we started hearing about several families in our church that were just beginning the process of adopting. They were popping up everywhere. We were thinking that this was all very weird and I started looking up adoption agencies and countries to adopt from on the internet. It really consumed my thoughts. But then on June 1, we found out we were pregnant. It was obvious to us that we would have to put adoption on hold and wait until we came to a point after the baby was born to reconsider. We were very excited about having a new baby and told the boys and then started telling everyone else. We were scheduled for our first ultrasound and doctor appointment on July 7. This obviously did not go as we had hoped. During the ultrasound, there was no heartbeat and we realized that we were not going to have this baby. After blood work and another ultrasound to confirm, we decided to have a D&C on July 10. We were devastated and didn't understand why this was happening.

In the weeks following my miscarriage, I felt God speaking to me through many scriptures. Two verses that meant so much to me were 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 a hope and a future.'" Also Isaiah 55:8: "For my thoughts are not your thought, neither are your ways my ways." Although I was hurting, I knew that God had a plan for our family and it was going to be more wonderful than I could ever imagine. Again, I had a strong desire to adopt and I started looking at agencies online again and really praying about it. Now I started dreaming about adopting and once again, we were hearing of other families who were going through this process.

After a sermon one Sunday morning that focused on what God is calling us to do, we came home and talked long and hard about adopting. I was ready, Chad just wasn't there yet. He still really wanted to have another baby first and wanted to put adoption on hold for the moment. I was okay with that and a few weeks later, we found out I was pregnant again. At some point Chad had a dream that we got pregnant, but then we miscarried again. When he told me about his dream, I said that if that happened I was done. I knew that if we miscarried again that we would have to stop trying. Multiple miscarriages is just too hard.

But we did get pregnant again. This time I did not tell anyone. I was really protecting myself. I was excited about the baby and I knew that there was no way that we would miscarry again and was looking forward to telling our families. But I also had no desire to tell right away. I wanted to make sure that everything would be okay. On Sunday, November 8, it was Adoption Sunday nationwide. We knew this, but I really didn't expect that there would be anything mentioned about it at church. I was wrong, this is what the sermon was about. During the entire sermon, I was praying. It had become obvious to me that we would someday adopt, but I just didn't know how the timing of it would work out. So I was praying, asking God to work it out and make it obvious to us when we were supposed to do it. I almost felt sad that I was pregnant and could not just go ahead and get started in the process. This was really heavy on my mind and Chad, of course, knew what I was feeling. We talked about it on the way home and considered our options of what to do while we were pregnant and couldn't adopt right then.

I felt fine that day, but when we got home I noticed the signs of what seems to be a miscarriage. We prayed, pleading with God to save this pregnancy. On Monday morning, it was becoming more obvious that I was probably going to miscarry. Also on Monday morning, Chad came home from dropping John David off at school and said that he was ready to go forward on the adoption. I was thrilled, but my focus was on my pregnancy. I called the doctor's office and they wanted to see me that day. I had to call Mom to tell her that I was pregnant and miscarrying and ask is she could keep the boys for me while we were at the doctor. After I told her what was happening, she very gently remarked on how God was really working in our church with adoption. I knew that was my chance to tell her what I had been thinking about for so long. She was very excited and completely supportive.

We went to the doctor and he told us that he wasn't sure if I was miscarrying and that it could go either way. Basically we had to wait for 48 hours to do another blood test and that would tell us if we miscarried or not. I really didn't need anymore blood work to confirm it to me. I knew that this pregnancy was not going to last and I also knew that the timing was right for our adoption. So instead of just researching on the internet, I requested information packets from several different agencies. On Friday of that week, I called someone who is adopting to ask her some questions. I told her that we had decided to adopt. She was excited and told us that many of the families from our church that are adopting were meeting with the elders that night to talk about their adoptions. She invited us to come. This made it so real to us. We felt that God was leading us there to help us realize that we would have tremendous support from our church family in this adoption.

After a lot of research and praying, we have decided to adopt a little girl from Nepal. We really wanted to adopt a girl and wanted her to be younger than Caleb. The reason that Nepal was so interesting to us was because two of their criteria are that if you have children of one gender, you must adopt the opposite gender and that the child you adopt has to be younger than your youngest child. Nepal seemed like an answer to our prayers. We have applied with an agency in Tupelo, MS that does Nepal adoptions. We are very excited and look forward to bringing our daughter home to her family.