Sunday, March 22, 2009

Extended Vacation

Sorry for all the time between posts. We don't have Internet at the house currently. So guess where I'm blogging from. Go ahead.

The hospital.

<--This guy thought he could fly yesterday afternoon. Nathanael climbed a tree and attempted to jump to another tree. Yes, I said jump. He claims he's done it before (apparently without incident). Needless to say, he missed. So our journey back to Mississippi at 4am has been put on hold and I'm sitting in the family waiting room of the surgery unit. He broke it badly enough to need pins put in. Please pray for our Tarzan wanna be. And pray he stops telling the nurses that I pushed him down!

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Good News and the Better News

The good news: we are home! We drove back to Florida to spend Spring Break with Robert. It's only been a few weeks since he was in Mississippi to check on us, but it feels like ages ago! We went to church yesterday morning and then drove over to Cocoa Beach to play in the ocean and wait for the space shuttle launch. We've always been able to see the shuttle go up from our house nearly 60 miles from the launch pad, but we wanted a real up close view. Thousands of families and photographers lined the beach hours before liftoff to lay claim to good viewing spots. I parked myself in a beach chair with a book and Robert took the kids out into the surf. When the shuttle went up at 7:43pm, the sky lit up bright orange and crowds of people cheered on our astronauts.

The better news: God has answered prayer! We received an email on Saturday from the director of the organization that advocates for children like "our" girl. The child we have praying for has a family! And while we feel a little sadness that she will not become the next Landrum, it is but a drop in the ocean of joy over knowing that she will not see the inside of an institution and will know the love of a family. God has answered prayer! We firmly believe that she was our second Sophia and so we anxiously await where God will lead us next. God hasn't closed the door on adoption for us, He has simply redirected our path. And while the change in direction can sometimes be surprising, we still rejoice in the fact that He does direct our path! When I shared with Robert the news about our girl he said, "Well, there's no shortage of orphans in the world! Choose another one!" I love his unflappable attitude and the fact that He trusts God so very much. This will give us more time to save and raise adoption funds. It will also allow us time to either sell the house in Florida and move to Mississippi permanently, or move back to Florida and resettle in our home. God's timing is perfect and we trust Him so very much in this process. Continue to pray for us as we seek Him about adding a child/children to our family, raise support, and find where we should be!

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
-Romans 8:28

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

True Love

When God first began to speak to my heart about adopting a child with special needs, I immediately wanted to know why other families had chosen this adoption path. I learned that there were many families who had no experience or training with special needs children. They were adopting because they had a unique love for these precious little ones. One mother told me, "Leslie, I had numerous discussions with my husband about it and the only thing that I kept telling him was 'this could have been one of our children all along.' And, it could happen any day too from a car wreck or anything." That struck a chord with me.

Would I not love a child who was born to me with a disability? Would I not love one of our children who became disabled as the result of some trauma? Love is not an emotion. It's a choice.

We waited a very long time for Kristina to join our family. We loved her from a distance for over a year. We were blessed to have one summer together through Frontier Horizon's hosting program. During that summer, we were able to see her true colors several times. When she came home for good in December of 2007, we continued to work through her adjustment to life in a new culture, with boundaries and a family. There were moments when she really struggled. But what surprised me most was there were moments when I really struggled. In fact, I think I experienced a bit of Post Adoptive Depression.

This wasn't because I regretted our adoption or adopting Kristina. What I learned was that loving someone, truly loving someone, was often a painful process. It was much like the reality of marriage. After the wedding, there's an adjustment period that happens when you realize just how imperfect your spouse is. You learn of his weaknesses, his shortcomings, the things he does that annoy and disappoint you. And if you're not careful, you'll forget that love is a choice and not an emotion. At best, romance is highly overrated. At worst, it can be the faulty foundation for a relationship.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
-Romans 5:8

So what is true love? The fact that God chose to love me, the one with weaknesses and shortcomings who was bound to disappoint, is a beautiful thing. That His love doesn't depend on me, but on Him! Is that not the love that we are to give to our spouses, our children, and those around us? Is that not the picture of the Father's love to his adopted children? Knowing how imperfect we were, He chose us and made us His own. While the post adoption experience brings its own challenges, regardless of the challenges of the child, our response is still the same. We will choose to love a child because He first loved us.

We love because God first loved us.
-I John 4:19

Monday, March 9, 2009

Questions, Questions, Questions

First, let me say thank you to the many of you who have written to say that you're partnering with us in prayer. I am blessed to have so many friends who would approach the throne of God on behalf of a little girl and the family who loves her. So many of you have written with your questions, I will do my best to answer some of them.

How much is this adoption going to cost? We're estimating around $20,000. I'll wait for you to catch your breath before I continue. Okay, better? Moving on . . . because she is special needs we will save a few thousand dollars on facilitation fees. Kristina's adoption was around $24,000. We didn't have the money for Kristina's adoption two years ago and God provided then. We are trusting that He will make a way again if this is His will.

How much do we need to commit to her? About $700 at this point.

What is "our" girl's condition? She is diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. I have been reading everything I can and speaking with other adoptive moms about the condition. Because FAS is a spectrum disease, we won't know how affected she is cognitively until she is little older. The information we have about her indicates that she is delayed, but we believe she could blossom with the love of a family. She also exhibits some of the physical features of FAS. The first time I saw her, I thought she was perfect. And I still do!

Will I post her picture? Soon, hopefully. I don't feel right until we have committed to her and she has been removed from the waiting list. Oh, you're going to love her too! She is precious!

What do the kids think? They're as excited as we are. Kristina insists that she must accompany us back to Ukraine and serve as our official interpreter for the little one. The girls are thrilled about evening out our numbers. The boys initially tried to convince us to adopt a boy ("girls are too much drama, Mom"), but they came around. Nathanael had a report and presentation for science class last week. He was assigned the topic "mental retardation" to research. As he was doing his research and learning about the causes, he made the connection about our girl's condition. He asked permission to talk about her when he gave his presentation to the class. Love him!

Any other questions?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Moving Forward?

Several phone calls back and forth between Robert and I yesterday consisted of, "You're sure?" followed by a text message to confirm in writing that he was indeed on board with another adoption. For those of you who have read my past posts, you'll know Robert wasn't the one who needed the push. We both want to add this little girl to our family, but the financial commitment scares me. We have less than a thousand dollars set aside for another adoption.

However, in my heart, I had already committed. Her picture is the background on my cell phone. I stepped out on Friday and shared with a close friend and co-worker our desire to adopt again (and she didn't faint!). I revamped our family blog and added a new header with all our pictures, including the little girl who would be our daughter.

Late last night I emailed the director of the organization that advocates to find families for these special needs children. I finally fell asleep after 3:30am. When I awoke this morning, I immediately reached for my cell phone to see if she had responded. And she had.

Because of the urgency of finding homes for these children before they are sent away to institutions, they require a financial commitment up front. The money goes into a fund that is returned to the adoptive family once they complete all their paperwork and submit their adoption petition to the Ukrainian government. It is reasonable and understandable. These children are living on borrowed time and need families who are in a position to move forward quickly to complete an adoption. "Our" little girl will be four next month. Four is the magic number that sends these precious children away from baby houses. Many do not survive the first year in these mental institution. If a family can commit to her, the orphanage director may be able to delay her transfer until the end of summer.

I emailed the director back and let her know we weren't in the position to make the initial financial commitment, but we would try. And with that, I came back to this blog and removed the little girl's picture from our family header. I replaced it with a heart and "+1". Then I added a PayPal donation button to the sidebar. This process will be out of our hands. We are praying and asking God to open the door to the child who would be our daughter. Please pray with us.

Commit your way to the LORD,
Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
-Psalm 37:5

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Confessions of an Unfaithful Daughter

One of my blog friends emailed me about a week ago and asked me what my hesitation was with moving forward with this adoption. Even as I clicked away my reply on the keyboard, I realized how ridiculous my response was. I found myself arguing with my own reasoning. The only hesitation we have is the financial commitment that another adoption demands.

And yes, I know what some of you are thinking. We are the same people who adopted Kristina 15 months ago. The same people who God provided those adoption funds for. Finances couldn't be worse (yet we are thankful for what we have). The future couldn't be more uncertain (yet we know God directs our path). I laid awake from 2:30-4:30 last night thinking and praying. I tried to think of what I have of value that I could sell. There are no accounts to tap. Our savings are gone from our Mississippi adventure.

"What you need is a benefactor," Robert teased me as I was wrestling with the numbers in my head. My instant reaction was, "I do. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills." Yet putting that faith into action is easier said than done. This is the conversation that runs through my head. See what I'm dealing with?

We do not have the luxury of time either. The child we are praying over will age out of the orphanage she is in and, due to her disability, will be sent to an institution in a few months. It's not a place she belongs. It's not a place any child belongs. Taking decisive action is of the essence. Yet here I stand, terrified to move. If I could, I would call the facilitator and commit to this adoption tonight. If I could . . .

And Jesus said to him, " 'If You can?' All things are possible to him who believes."
Immediately the boy's father cried out and said, "I do believe; help my unbelief."
-Mark 9:23-24