The Crew

The Crew
Christina, Matthew, Joshua and Katie Grace XiHua

Thursday, December 24, 2009

HOPE YOU ALL HAVE A WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS!

We're having such a fun and busy Christmas and I hope you all are too! I don't at all want to put a damper on all of the Christmas fun, shopping and celebration, because that is such a special part of the holiday! This video I am posting is not to make us feel bad, but I just thought is was so poignant and really has made me think about the true meaning of the holiday and to also rethink my spending!
My sister in law, Susanna, works as a writer for Living Water International, (click on post title above to go to their website) , which is a ministry that builds wells for fresh water for people in need world wide! Watch this video, it will change they way you think about Christmas shopping. Every year, I am striving to spend a little less on indulging ourselves in many gifts. I'm still working on it and getting better, but still find myself overspending, ugh! I hope I can continue to improve in my choices and keep giving to those in need! Please take 2 minutes to watch this video-(sorry- you'll have to first scroll down to the bottom of this page and pause my blog music, then begin the video to hear the audio!)






video

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

GETTING READY FOR CHRISTMAS!


I love Christmas and preparing for the season! Here are some fun pics. This is our house all festive, okay it doesn't snow in Florida- but oh well!



Joshua is having fun decorating the tree! It was quite warm that evening!


He's a cutie in his Santa Hat!


Jacob and I on the night of our yearly Christmas party- One of my favorite traditions!


Our tree. Jacob spends a lot of time putting on a gazillion lights!


Here is some of the food I prepared for the party.


Christina's Dance studio performs in Celebration where it "snows" every night during the Holiday Season. She is doing a Ballet number.


She is a beautiful dancer.


Christina and her best friend, Alexis. They are growing up so fast! (and no they don't wear this much make-up in real life - only for performances!)



This is Joshua and Matthew playing in the "snow" at Celebration, Fl. It is so warm this night that the "snow" suds are even melting as soon as they hit the ground!


MERRY CHRISTMAS AND MANY BLESSINGS!


Friday, December 4, 2009

I AM A GUARDIAN AD LITEM. WHAT IS A GUARDIAN AD LITEM?


Exactly what is a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL)? Throughout my life, I have wanted to do something to help children in need. I knew, if I just looked around, there was something I could do close to home. Having attempted to adopt from foster care years ago, and finding that the sweet tiny girl we wanted (only 6 years old mind you) was so badly abused that she could not be placed in a home with siblings, I was shockingly introduced to the world of abused children. It was a world more common than I had realized. WHO would touch a child with intention of harm like that? Don't people know how innocent they are? When you see your own child get a genuine fear come over them, perhaps about a stranger, or a situation where they feel lost, you can see their helplessness and sensitivity. What parent would intentionally harm them or ALLOW or worse yet ENCOURAGE someone in their home harm them in ways that would make ours hearts sick? When the child completely and utterly depends on that parent to protect them? It's almost too much to bear and I know many people who say to me, "Don't tell me about it, I don't want to know." Well, we HAVE TO know, because it is happening all around us. The children cannot protect themselves.
Last year I became a volunteer Guardian Ad Litem. A GAL is a person who advocates for the rights of abused and neglected children in the foster care system. I did 30 hours of training, and pretty much had my first case given to me immediately. I learn most as I go along! I am now on my 3rd case of a sibling group. I visit them a couple times a month. Talk with them, visit their school, observe situations, homes, care-takers and watch for signs of problems. Make sure they are getting the care and protection they need. I attend court with them when needed. It sounds like a lot, but I really only spend a few hours a week working on my case. I promise you, anyone can do this. The reward is establishing a relationship with these broken children. They love for me to visit! They talk and enjoy the attention. I still keep in touch with my first case regularly, even though he is in another county now.
I never thought I would be driving around through the back roads of my county visiting old shambled trailers and finding little sad children inside. Or perhaps a child readjusting in a big beautiful foster home. Or a child trying to find his place in a group home. All of the families welcome me, no matter what has happened. They know I am there for the child's best interest. If you are interested in being a volunteer in your immediate community, consider being a GAL. The program supervisors will work with you and only give you what you can handle. Even if it is just one child who you have to visit occasionally. Or as many as you want, because there are THOUSANDS in your county. It is so rewarding and they need us!

Matthew 25:40
"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

OFFICIALLY ON THE WAITING LIST FOR TAIWAN! THAT DEFINITELY MAKES A HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

BEAUTIFUL TAIWAN ABOVE AND HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

We received an email today from our agency telling us that Taiwan has received our dossier and we are officially on the waiting list for referrals! How exciting! You know what else is interesting? Exactly 1 year ago today on Nov. 25th, I had an extremely prominent dream one night of a little Asian girl waiting for me. That is what began our journey of an international adoption of a little girl from Asia. (you can read about that dream on my very first post). Prior to this dream, I had often thought we might adopt some day (in fact I had attempted to adopt a little girl from foster care years ago, but it turned out she was not able to be placed into a home with younger siblings.) I hadn't thought of an international adoption until I had this dream. Ever since then, I have pursued it diligently. And today, one year later exactly we received our notice of officially on the list. We also received our I -171H - USCIS immigration approval to go ahead and pursue an orphan adoption. Jacob and I were very excited! That certainly is something to give thanks about! HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO YOU ALL!

Hebrews 10:36
You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

1 Chronicles 16:34
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

FED-EX TO TAIWAN!


After a couple of last minute details and our agency's paperwork approvals, our dossier has been officially sent to Taiwan today! It is a relief to get this first half completely finished. It was nine months ago that we had put in our application for a Thailand adoption which after a couple of months fell through due to that agency closing that program. Since then, we had found a wonderful Taiwan program and in 4 months completed our home study and our stage one dossier. I guess once Taiwan receives the dossier and approves it, we will officially be put on the waiting list. And then the loooong wait begins. We've got plenty of work to do during this waiting period to save up funds for the next payment due at the time of referral. We also hope to learn some Mandarin Chinese during this time, especially if we receive a 2-3 year old who we'll need to communicate with somehow! I can speak Spanish enough to carry a simple conversation and have studied Portuguese a bit too, so I am good with languages that have a Latin root. But this is going to be a whole different ball game and I have no idea if I will accomplish anything that will really work when the time comes!!! Well we've got plenty of time to work on it, that's for sure.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

ANOTHER STEP CLOSER!


Last week, Jacob and I had our fingerprinting appointments that were set up by the Department of Homeland Security at the immigration offices in Tampa. So we will await the approval of our USCIS paperwork in the next month or two. We received our completed and approved home study! We have everything ready in our dossier to mail to the agency tomorrow! Thanks to a kind and very helpful gift from Jacob's mom, we can send that paperwork off and our next fees payment a couple of weeks earlier than I was imagining. That will get our dossier off to Taiwan soon and then we will be on the waiting list for our little sweetie! Wow, to get that dossier sent to Taiwan and to be officially waiting will be a huge step in our process!

Monday, November 2, 2009

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!







We had a great Halloween! Christina went as a baby doll, Matthew was The Joker, and Joshua was Spiderman. We have a wonderful, grandma-like babysitter, Jean, who lives in a small retirement community near us. She invited us over at 5 pm for Halloween dinner at their clubhouse. We had all kinds of wonderful home cooked hot dishes to choose from and baked goods. Of course all of the retirees oohed and aahed over the kids! After that, we came home and went trick-or-treating in the evening. Although not a lot of homes were participating this year (I guess a lot of people like to go to gatherings now), the kids still got PLENTY of candy! Did I mention it is so hot here in Florida still? 90's, Yuck! We were sweating all the way around the neighborhood! We need some REAL fall weather! Oh well, it was fun.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

JUMPIN' FOR JOY!


I thought this picture of Christina "jumpin' for joy" was a fitting feeling. So happy to say that we've completed our home study paperwork and sent it off to our social worker a couple of days ago! Now we wait for the home study approval, finish our step 1 dossier compilation and we will be ready to submit our dossier to Taiwan! I think we'll be ready to do that in the next 3 weeks or so. On an earlier post, I did say that maybe I was dreaming when hoping to have our dossier ready to submit in 2 months, but I wasn't too far off. It will be just a couple weeks longer... I think. I work only part time, (guaranteed 2 days per week), but God has been blessing me with an extra day (or sometimes two) of work every week that I can put directly into our adoption account. So it will be such a relief to get this first major chunk accomplished! Just keep at it steadily. Then we will enter the waiting period.....
Proverbs 21:5 Good plans and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

MAKING BLOGGING FRIENDS! (visiting with the Dijkstra family)


Something that has been such a delight for me is having the opportunity to follow along with other bloggers who have something in common with us. It is such an encouragement to take the journey with other adoptive families. When I am feeling discouraged, all I have to do is look at some of the wonderful postings and pictures from their stories, and it makes me say, "Hey! We can accomplish this!" All of your blogs are in various stages of the adoption process - some just beginning, some several years past just enjoying their families. It is a joy to see the kids and families grow together. One of my favorite blogs, (and obviously a favorite of many people as she has quite a few followers!) is "Funky Doodle Donkey". I started following Mireille's blog early this year. Her unbelievably awesome photos keep me coming back every week! When you see them, you are going to say what I said..."I want to come and live at your house and go where you go!!!". Although Mireille and her family live in South Africa, we had the wonderful opportunity to get together when she and her family were visiting Florida. My family had the pleasure of meeting Mireille, her husband Dirk, and her two darling daughters, Jasmine and Juliet for a visit back in July. We had a great time and made a new friendship. What fun! (click on my title to visit her blog!)

Monday, September 28, 2009

BUSY YET FUN FALL FOR US!




I have been using this blog mainly as an opportunity to follow along with our adoption and to advocate for children.  But I may as well start adding more about our family and what is going on around here in our busy lives!   Pretty soon we will be waiting for a referral and that could last a long time!  Then what am I going to write about every week?   I'm sure I will have some interesting cause or discussion, but I think it will be fun to personalize our blog a little.  So today, I am posting a few pics from our past couple of months.  Christina is marching in her High School marching band her first year!  Matthew is playing peewee football and is making some awesome tackles!  And Joshua turns 4 tomorrow!  They make me so happy and I love to watch them grow and learn.  

Sunday, September 27, 2009

CHIPPING AWAY!


  Jacob and I are moving along quickly completing our paperwork!  We drove to our county sheriff's office last week and got our local backgrounds checks and notarized.  So our federal, state and local- done!  We sent off our USCIS application I600 A, US immigration application.  We completed all 5 required online parenting classes, sent off for our notarized employment verification, completed our orphanage application, and will be getting our doctor's letters tomorrow.  There are many more forms we've accomplished, but I can't think of them all right now!  A fun thing we are working on is a family photo album that the birth mother and/or orphanage can view to help match us with a child.  It will be so awesome to get our paperwork completed and our dossier submitted.  I think we may be able to do this in the next 3-4 weeks!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Home Study visits!


We completed our 2 home study visits yesterday!  After getting the house organized and being a little nervous for our home study visits, we came to find it was a very enjoyable and pressure free experience!  We'd all like to say that our house is always in perfect order, right?  In fact, sometimes I feel like all I do everyday is continuously clean and pick up after my busy kids - keeping it organized is the key to peace with a busy family.  And we've read that the social worker is not looking at your house keeping abilities or how well you decorate, they just want to make sure you have what is necessary and safe to care for a child and also to get to know the family.  But, let's face it, who isn't going to go the extra mile to get everything extra clean and organized and make it look like the happiest home-making home ever for your home study?!  It's like the difference between when your just having your neighbor stop by for coffee, or when your own mom my is coming to stay.   This is like the latter, you do that extra deep dusting and scrubbing and add cookies, coffee and a smile!  So, needless to say we've had a busy week!  Of course she never even really looked inside the closets, cupboards, showers or under the beds, ha ha!  But at least we were prepared for anything.  Our social worker laughed and added that she baked cookies and had coffee for HER social worker as well, as she was going through a home study herself!  She was very nice and throughout the interviews we chatted about adoption, kids, travel and all sorts of things.  It was a great experience and now all we have to do is keep chipping away at the paper work remaining.  

Monday, August 24, 2009

ADOPTION/HOME STUDY AGREEMENT


   We completed our Taiwan adoption agreement and home study agreement forms, had them notarized and sent them off to the agency (along with our first big payment)!  We heard back from the agency immediately and are excited to get our home study started next Sunday and begin compiling our dossier.  We hope to move through this portion of our journey quickly in order to submit our dossier to Taiwan and begin the long wait.  I'm hoping for 2 months to complete our dossier compilation, am I dreaming?    We've received several pages of paperwork and have started filling them out and sending them off - such as our child abuse registry clearance and our criminal history checks.  If I look at all of the paperwork for the home study and also for the dossier that needs to be completed, it is a little overwhelming!  But we just take time everyday to get some of it done and I know it will get finished!
Galatians 6:9 
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

YES TAIWAN!!


Well, we sent in our application for Taiwan last Thursday.  On Tuesday we received a call from the agency and we were told they would be happy to move forward on a Taiwan adoption with us, if we were prepared for the fact that the wait times have increased quite a bit.  Closer to 3 years now to wait for a referral.  Well that is a looong time to wait when you have a little sweetie in mind.  However In light of all my research, and finding that the wait times for most of the countries we were considering increasing, (3 years for Colombia, closer to 4 years for China) we decided to go ahead and move forward with Taiwan.  So, here we are taking our first steps again in the process and looking forward to moving ahead!   We have friends from work, a couple who are in the process of a Nepal adoption with the same agency, who have great things to say about working with this agency, so that was a positive for us!  These friends have completed their home study and dossier and have sent it off to Nepal.  Please pray for their quick referral!  (by the way, we would have loved to adopt from Nepal as well, but you cannot adopt from there if you already have children of both genders.  Yes, crazy but true.  So many children waiting for homes and then there are strange qualifications like that)  Please pray for our process to move along and I will keep you posted on our progress!  

Monday, August 3, 2009

TAIWAN!? (click here to read an article)


 I haven't posted anything lately, because well frankly, we were trying to decide where to look next for our adoption.  I just put it into God's hands when I didn't know which way to turn and waited!  We've been inspired to get on the ball again.  We are considering a particular Colombia program (inspired by my in laws mission trip to Colombia and all of those precious kids!), however, this is a 3 year wait for referral and a 4-5 week stay in Colombia.  Now, at this moment, 4-5 weeks sounds like nothing when you are waiting for your precious child.  I mean, we would do that for our own biological child right?  However, when the time comes, a month or more away from our 3 kids could be very difficult to work out here at home.  So, it is not my first choice -at this time.  We are also excited about an agency with a Taiwan program for which we qualify.  This is a little less lengthy process.  Taiwan is not really a country in poverty.  However, I have done a lot of research over the past few weeks and found that the need is great to adopt children from Taiwan.  Unwed mothers are frequently shunned in their homes and in society, they cannot go to school or get jobs.  Most young, unwed mothers have 3 choices... abortion, abandonment, or to go to one of the group homes and orphanages run by ministries willing to help the girls with their pregnancy and adoption of their child.  In Taiwan, domestic adoption is still not very popular, although slowly becoming more acceptable.  Still highly unlikely for a child over 2 years due to the fact that a family would not want their child to know that they are not biological, it would be considered dishonorable.  Also, although Taiwan is more modern thinking than their mainland China, they still feel that the perfect family is one boy, one girl and no more.  So there is a lot of pressure to keep families small.  The abandonment of children is rising at an alarming rate according to a recent article in Taiwan that I read.  Every child needs a home and a family to love them!

Psalm 139:14-16 

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; 

      your works are wonderful, 
       I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you 
       when I was made in the secret place. 
       When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

 16 your eyes saw my unformed body. 
       All the days ordained for me 
       were written in your book 
       before one of them came to be.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

BOGATA COLUMBIA (click here to learn about the mission)




Please pray for my sister in law and her husband, founders of WordServe United Methodist Church in Fulshear, TX as they and 13 other volunteers serve the people and children, living in poverty, in Bogata, Columbia.  They will be on this mission trip from June 13th - June 20th.  There are families and abandoned children in the hills, living in nothing but cardboard or tin shelters, having nothing but each other to keep warm, and depending completely on the mission site established there to feed them.  Please pray that the mission team  will be safe, stay healthy and able to do God's work by serving, feeding and loving those in need.   Also pray that through their work, they will encourage others to join in and serve the poor in their own communities and around the world.  

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

CHILDREN EVERYWHERE!


  If you had a chance to read my first several postings on this blog, you will understand why we keep thinking to adopt a little girl.  As I had mentioned when I had my dream/vision,back in November there was a little girl in my room with wide, Asian looking eyes, waiting for me.  As I had said in the second vision, the girl who appeared may not have been the same exact girl, because the second one looked younger.  However, they were quite similar.  Well, I came across this photo the other day, and was thinking how much this girl resembled my vision.  (much like some of the other pictures I've been attaching to posts) However this girl happens to be from South America.  She is not Asian.  Hmmm... as we research other programs, that widens the possibilities of places I suppose.  But what it comes down to is this; if God has intended for us to adopt a child, then He will lead us to whom is meant just for us.  As we are sort of starting over in our research, or at least taking a few steps backward, it gives us more time to save money and plan for whatever reason He has given us a detour.  And how much has my passion grown to advocate for children and my hope to do much more in the future!
Romans 8:28 "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God."

Monday, June 1, 2009

OKAY, LET'S REGROUP




  So this week, we are starting to do some re- research on some programs we had kept in our folder from the beginning.  We are ready to see what God has in mind for us!  We know that there are countless children out there who need homes... millions,  that is sure.  Why does the process have to be so difficult and costly?  Well yes, of course I am aware of the dangers of not being thorough.  We have heard stories of children being taken from poor families in some countries and put up for adoption.  I would never want to take a child under these circumstances so yes, that calls for research and paperwork to be sure the child is truly an orphan, and is truly going to people who have the best intentions of parenting in mind.  But I've been hearing numerous stories of people here, with wonderful families, having a very hard time finding a program for which they qualify.  Here are some of the reasons, just depending on the country, the orphanage or the agency, (they each can make their own rules as they see fit or as they believe) ... cannot adopt if you have been married before, cannot adopt if just the Mother is over 38, cannot adopt if the combined age of the parents is over 90 years, cannot adopt if either parent is over 45, cannot adopt if you have more than 2 children, cannot adopt if you already have a boy and a girl, cannot adopt if mother is 5 years older than father, cannot adopt if you are overweight, cannot adopt if you have previously adopted from another country, cannot adopt if you are not of a certain faith, cannot adopt if you are not of that nationality.....and the list goes on.  Now of course, these are not qualification for all programs, but you will find them dispersed/popping up throughout your research.  You will find what seems just right and then..oh no..I don't qualify on that one term.  Then travel is a huge consideration.  Many South American countries require that you travel and stay for at least 6 weeks.  What working parents can do that?  All of those children waiting for homes and we can't get there!  Or many countries require 2 or 3 visits, which when flying around the world and taking off from work is very costly!  So the 1 trip country is what we can do.
  Then there is the wait times for a referral...I'm thinking, do I want my oldest to be in college by the time our new baby arrives?
But don't despair!  When you do the research, you will almost assuredly find a program that accepts your family status, with all of your details, whatever they are, you just have to keep looking!  Don't ever rule out and forget domestic adoption, it seems exclusive, but that is not always the case, keep searching the domestic photolistings for that face that needs you.
  So here we go.....

Thursday, May 28, 2009

HEARTBREAK TODAY

We have had extremely disappointing news this morning.  In the midst of a merger of our original agency with another agency, their Thailand Program is closing today.  Because the program with Thailand was run through the original agency, the new agency doesn't have an agreement with the country as yet, or something along those lines.  I have been informed that they will try and begin a new Thailand program, but they do not know if it will be approved and how long it will take, etc.  Here are our options as of right now: 
Wait to see if a Thailand program starts up again with this agency.
Or go ahead and begin the China program and wait over 3 years for a referral.
Or consider the Taiwan or Ethiopia programs.
All are viable options.  There are so many reasons, however, why the program we chose/qualified for originally seemed just perfect, and why these other programs have some individual difficulties for us.  However, we will continue on with our adoption and make a decision in the next few weeks as to exactly where we'll be going.  I know it's just a big setback in a long journey, which I know will have a beautiful ending.
We've just completed so much of our Thailand dossier- Dr.s forms, paperwork, notarized letters, our friends did their notarized letters of reference for Thailand, etc.  Now what? 
My heart is broken today.
I know there is a child waiting for us and we just have to keep going.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

PLEASE CONSIDER BEING A MENTOR! (click here to read about one of many programs)




  As a volunteer Guardian Ad Litem, I represent abused and neglected kids in court who are currently in Foster Care.  Confidentiality is important, but I can tell you that I currently represent a young teen boy who resides in a group home.  His past is one of countless deeply disappointing stories, but whenever I visit with him (usually weekly), he brightens up my day immediately!  In fact, I can honestly say that he has made me a better and more sensitive person and has done me more good than any good that I have possibly done for him.  His smile lights up when I come in.  He tells me I can come over anytime.  All I do is sit and talk with him or watch him skateboard out front.  He yearns for that attention.  He is so precious and valuable, I can't imagine how anyone could not appreciate and treasure him everyday of his life.  As a GAL, my job is to make sure his general needs are being met- i.e.- food, shelter, clothing, safety, kind treatment, medical care, counseling, education.  Then beyond that, I try to advocate and facilitate opportunities that "normal" kids have, such as sports, activities, outings, visitation with separated siblings, socializing, etc, although sadly, I myself, am not allowed to take him on outings according to the Court Program.  This is where it gets really tough.  If the first list is met, we can breath a sigh of relief, they are safe and being fed, and most people in charge just kind of forget about the child and check in once a month.  But it's that second list of needs that makes my heart ache as well.  A child can have all of his basic needs met, but what about one on one time?  What about someone talking to them as an individual and asking them, how was your day?  Do you have any friends at this newest of many schools you've been moved to?  Do you want to talk about anything?  What are your hopes and dreams?  Do you need help with your homework?  Would you like to go to lunch?  To the park?  See a ball game? Do you go to church?  To Synagogue?  Would you like to?  Would you like me to come to your school program or field trip?  
  These are all the things that are own children just assume will happen.  But MANY of these children NEVER have anyone take this interest in them.  In fact, I can't even imagine my kids making it through school without us staying "on top" of their work everyday!  They will soon grow up, "age out" of the system and be unprepared adults with no sense of attachment or guidance.  
Here's the problem...thousands of kids...not enough people who care.  
  Consider being a mentor.  You don't have to sign you life away.  It can be as simple as one outing a month or more if you'd like.  There are many programs in your area. You can even google a children's home or group home near you and call and ask if they need someone to stop over and help with homework or take kids for outings.  There will be an application, a background check and clearance obviously for their safety, but it will only take a teeny tiny bit of effort on your part and in the long run will make all the difference to an child who needs someone to care about them as an individual!  
Matthew 25:35-40
"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me."
Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?"
Then the King will reply, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

BATTER MY HEART BY JOHN DONNE


Every now and then a piece of poetry will catch my mind and I will keep going over it in my head for awhile, picking it apart.  This sonnet I came across the other day is one of those.  I am captured by the way Donne speaks of needing God to literally take over and relieve his heart as he drifts away and disappoints himself by his own actions.  We don't know what he has done to disappoint himself... in this particular poem, it sounds quite serious, the reason that causes the author to cry out to God for help and for relief.  We may not be living a life that could compare to what John Donne is expressing here, but don't we all at times drift away toward that place of disappointment?  Even if it is just an unkind word or judgement.  How hopeful it is for me to know I can call on God anytime, and He is there immediately with love and mercy.
Batter my heart, three-person'd God, for you
As yet but knock, breath, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp'd town to'another due,
Labor to'admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv'd, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly'I love you, and would be lov'd fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy;
Divorce me,'untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprision me,  for I,
Except you'enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.
                                                   --John Donne

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

HOMESTUDY!




 Well, it may seem like not a whole lot is going on since I haven't been posting too much lately when in all actuality, we have been swamped around here!  We have a huge list of things to do and paperwork to fill out and it just so happens it is all coming at us at one of our busiest times of the year (next to Christmas!).  This time of year is so busy, as many of you moms of school age kids would agree (can I get a witness?), because it is the time for the big end of the year final activities.  For us that includes: 2 major dance recitals for our daughter Christina, and for our son Matthew, we have his school musical, choir and violin concerts.  (he is actually taking a break from Taekwondo right now!) With all of this comes- tickets, ads, props, costumes, volunteering, and a whole lot of driving around and waiting in the car with a busy, yet lovey 3 year old and his sticky snacks!  Let's not even get started on the field trips, UGH!  
  In addition to this, Jacob and I are trying to earn some extra $ for the adoption of course, so we have taken on extra shifts when possible.  So, needless to say our free time is pretty much zero right now!  
  Anyway, the good news is- we have received our home study paperwork and are beginning to work our way through it slowly along with the huge dossier stack which is still looming on the corner of the desk!  We should be scheduling our first home study visit soon and we are very excited.  (if we could just have a free day to get the house back in order after this crazy month!)  
  From my viewpoint right now, it appears as a mountain of things to accomplish and I am just barely keeping up with each day.  I know in about 4 weeks, things will slow down considerably.....or am I just dreaming?

Monday, April 20, 2009

WHY NOT DOMESTIC FOR US? (click here if you are interested in domestic adoption!)



. A very good question that some might ask, "Why not domestic?"  I will try to answer as briefly as possible, although I could write so much about it as I have considered it painstakingly!  About 10 years ago, I tried to adopt a little girl domestically, who turned out to be from such a traumatic situation that she was not able to be placed in a home with siblings.  My heart mourned for this girl and I was so angry that someone had ruined a little girl, so that she could not have a future with us. Recently when I started researching this current adoption, I still poured over the domestic listings and found that:
- Many people in America are on waiting lists for a healthy child under 4 of any race.  They will almost surely be adopted.
-I have not seen a listing for a healthy or minor special needs child under 4 without a sibling group and we just cannot take in many children for lack of space!
-I have several friends with beautiful special needs children, but my family's demands on time and our finances are not prepared for that path right now, if possible.  I have to be fair to my family's needs and honest about what we can handle.  It takes a lot of time and resources to raise a child with special needs.  Of course, we're aware there will be needs of even a "healthy" orphan and we will be prepared for who God brings us in any case.  
-We are really hoping for a young child who falls in line age- wise, because it works out best for our family dynamic and especially for bedroom sharing! 
-It can take several years for a child in the "System" to be fully released for adoption in the U.S.
-As a Guardian Ad Litem, I am trying to make a difference domestically and am well aware of the lonliness and challenges of a child in the system.  However, in the U.S.,in almost all cases, the children are being fed, clothed, getting an education, medical, and have resources.  I know it's not ideal, but they have some hope for a future.
-In many countries around the world, an orphan's life can be deplorable and filled with hunger, disease and neglect, with absolutely no resources for their future.  
If I could, I would save them all!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

THE STAR THROWER BY LOREN EISELEY


  In the often quoted story adapted from "The Star Thrower" by Loren Eiseley, we are told of an old man picking up starfish and tossing them into the sea before the tide goes out.  He is confronted by someone who tell him his quest is ridiculous- that there are millions of starfish on the beach and that what he was doing couldn't possibly make a difference.  The wise old man picked up another starfish, paused thoughtfully, and remarked as he tossed it out into the waves, "It makes a difference to this one."
   From: Save A Child 

Friday, March 27, 2009

PAPERWORK!!!


  We received our Thailand dossier packet in the mail today from the agency!  It was a BIG stack of papers.  More than I had imagined.  I waited for Jacob and we opened it together.  We were both excited and nervous!  We just barely had a chance to look through the first 10 pages or so, and we have to leave it as we are going out of town for the weekend.  So, we will be busy over the next month or more reading information, filling out paperwork and documents and getting everything officiated! .....one step closer...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

FORMAL APPLICATION APPROVAL!


  Last week we had the approval go through for our formal application!  (This is a 2nd, more detailed application)  We are excited and waiting to hear when we will get started on the Home Study portion of the adoption. This should be scheduled in the next couple of weeks, I assume!  

Sunday, March 8, 2009

JUST A FEW STATISTICS


There are approximately 143-210 million orphans in the world.
Everyday 5,760 more children become orphans. 
Many live in the street.
Each day 38,493 orphans "age out" of their orphanage as teens.
Suicide, AIDS, homelessness, crime and prostitution is their future almost certainly.
Highest numbers in Africa, China, Russia, Ukraine and many more.
1.4 million orphans in Thailand.     UNICEF

  In Thailand, among other countries, numerous children are sold into prostitution and slave labor.  They are forced to work until they are no longer physically able.  This is not something that we can possibly close our eyes to anymore in today's society.  It's not like when we were children and we "heard stories" about what happens in far away places.  It is time, in this day of technology and travel, where we can't ignore the facts anymore.  We can't act like we don't know what is going on, you can read it, see it, everywhere. Sometimes I see a photo or video of a lonely or starving child and I imagine one of my childrens' faces in his or her place.  Abandoned, completely without protection, afraid, hungry.  Just try it sometime, imagine your child or one close to you, and see if your heart doesn't just break in a million pieces!  
Proverbs 31:8-9  Open your mouth for the dumb, for the rights of all who are left desolate.  Open your mouth, judge righteously, maintain the rights of the poor and needy.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

DONATE?


  Why donate to a family's adoption?  As we were researching the idea of International adoption, we found that it would be a venture that not everybody could hope for because of the costs.  But, every site I investigated about financing an adoption gave ideas about fundraising and writing grants and we came to find that this is how many working class families are making this happen.  We definitely have the means and the desire to care for an orphan, but the money up front is overwhelming.  A major portion of the costs (about 1/3) go to a required donation to the Country's Orphanage or to their child welfare system.  In addition to that, there are medical fees, immigration and visa for the child and for his or her paperwork to be released and adopted.  So, your donation will be giving a child a chance to be released from their orphanage and brought home to a loving family.  It is a donation of humanitarian love and we will care for the child happily.  (the remainder of the fees are about 1/3 to our home study, agency, and documents- and the final 1/3 for travel costs) We are doing everything we can to make this happen- working extra hours, paring back on extra spending, fundraising and grants.  Like we said in the Blog description, we are also setting up a fund to help other orphans as God is calling us to step up and make a difference.   If you have any questions, you can email us at overseas.adoption@gmail.com .  Thank you so much for your generosity and care!

Many hungry children near the boarder of Myanmar and Thailand-click on photo