Sunday, October 7, 2012

Heartbreak and Healing

My post today will be a cut-and-paste from a letter I read to our church today. I haven't the energy to write it all out again. Please read (it's rather long), and pray.

Thank you for giving us the time during today’s service to give you an update on our adoption process. It is easier for us to communicate with all of you at once rather than to repeat this information again and again. We come to you with heavy hearts as we received word on Monday evening that the three children we were hoping to adopt would not be matched with us. As of yet, no reason has been given for why this match will not be allowed.

            Last April, a sibling group of 3 was placed “on hold” for us, meaning that while our paperwork was being processed in the Philippines, no one else could adopt them. In June, our dossier was approved by the Inter-Country Adoption Board in the Philippines. We have waited since that time to hear word, preparing our home for the arrival of these three precious children. We had a few communications come from the Philippines, mainly in the form of clarifying questions. Everything was on track to move forward. We were told that all that was left was the “official” referral and a court date.

            We have struggled to understand why or how this happened. We were given assurances by both our Bethany social worker and the liaison between Bethany’s main office and the Philippines that the children were a great match for our family. Both of those individuals are still working towards finding out why the Inter-Country Adoption Board for the Philippines has denied the match. For our part, making assumptions as to why this has happened is counter-productive to the healing process we must go through.

            As our emotions were quite raw for a few days last week, we waited to tell Rachel and Joshua. Joshua’s age has proved to be a great buffer for the hurt that goes along with this news. Rachel, on the other hand, is still processing raw emotions that come with anticipated siblings not making an appearance. We ask that you pray for our children as we continue to work with them through this time.

            As for us, we would ask for your prayers as we navigate uncertain waters regarding adoption. Yes, we still intend to adopt. Yes, we would still like to adopt from the Philippines. No, we don’t know what our next steps will be. Yes, we place our unknown future into the hands of a known God.

            I have taken great comfort in the story of Abraham, who, when God told him it was time to move from all that was familiar to him, also didn’t know what the final destination would be. God simply said, “I will show you.” We know that adoption is God’s choice for our family. We don’t know what the destination will be. And that’s OK.

            I also take great comfort in the midst of this great sorrow, as I walk through prepared rooms in my house that stand ready for children who aren’t coming at this time. My comfort comes from Psalm 34:18: “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit.” I can tell you that I know what it means to be “crushed”. Rachel knows what it means to be “brokenhearted.” We are all clinging to the promise of God’s nearness at this time.

            We have been so thankful for the prayers and support of this church during the long process of our adoption. It has meant so much as many of you have continually asked us how things are going--if we’ve received word yet. You have rejoiced with us with every little step, and for that we are exceedingly grateful. We desperately need your continued prayers and support at this time.

            Please also pray for James, Venus, and Maricris, the three children we so longed to adopt. Pray that they would have a forever family soon. Pray for their continued healing at the orphanage in which they currently reside. Pray for the children God will match us with in what we hope is the near future.

            Thank you, once again, for being our safe place at this time.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Parting Is Not Always Sorrow

This entry is only slightly related to our upcoming adoption. As we worked to make room in our house for more children, many items got moved to a small storage room connected to our house. That storage room became over-filled, and we were faced with the need to purge items.

Two days ago, I made some of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. You might feel like I’m being a bit over-dramatic when I tell what these decisions had to do with, but if you’ve ever taught in a classroom, you will understand just how difficult these decisions can be.
You see, I said good-bye to every piece of paper, every manipulative, every storage bin, every idea book related to my five years as a kindergarten teacher. This was no small task. I spent several hours this past Saturday opening up three large bins, twelve smaller bins, two boxes of books, and three file boxes—all filled with a year’s worth of teaching supplies on the kindergarten level. These items have been sitting in my storage room for the past three years with hardly any use. When we started homeschooling, there was no need for all the worksheets, thematic bins, and large group lessons.

I was actually quite proud of myself as I went through each piece of paper, recalling hundreds of lessons. I had notes from parents, some good and some not so pleasant. I had a journal I had kept during my first year of teaching. I had pictures of students from 2004, when I had my first class (oh, how I loved that first year!). I didn’t cry once, but I did feel the pain as many items went straight to recycling and others went to a bin to be donated. It took many years to collect these items—some of them were collected when I was teaching preschool many years ago. It took just a few hours to part with them.

When I was finished, I was left with two full large bins, ten empty small bins, two boxes of books, and two bags full of Mailbox Magazines to give to a kindergarten teacher at our local public school. We took the donation to her today, and she was very appreciative of the gift. I was happy to see new life breathed into these items and also happy to have freed up much space in my house.

This doesn’t mean I will never teach professionally again. But as I intend to homeschool my children through high school, I don’t see myself returning to it for quite some time. Most of my collected items will be obsolete by then, with new ideas and trends taking over. I might as well let the old items go, to live a little longer in someone else’s classroom.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

WARNING: Poor Analogy to Follow

“Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come. It is like a man away on a journey, who upon leaving his house and putting his slaves in charge, assigning to each one his task, also commanded the doorkeeper to stay on the alert. Therefore, be on the alert—for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— in case he should come suddenly and find you asleep. What I say to you I say to all, ‘Be on the alert!’”  Mark 13:33-37 (NAS)

            I am very aware that this passage is talking about the Christian’s readiness for the second coming of Christ, but I see a lot of parallels between this and our adoption. In just the first verse, we are reminded that “you do not know when the appointed time will come”. Adoptions work completely to the opposite of pregnancies in this regard. With a pregnancy, you are given a “due date”—in my case more of a rough estimate—and you can begin planning with that date in mind. With an adoption, you are basically waiting on papers to be pushed, agencies to coordinate, the stars and planets to align, etc. There is no “due date” given. It’s really just wait for the phone call. That wait can be the most frustrating, heart-wrenching thing you do.

            We are also reminded FOUR times in this passage to “be on (keep on, stay on) the alert.” Continuing my poor analogy, this means for me that Trey and I must learn all we can about international adoptions, make needed changes to our home (see the previous blog), get copious amounts of paperwork pulled together, and pray like crazy. We can never just sit back and wait for the phone call. We must be busy every day preparing for the additions to our family. To refrain from doing so demonstrates a carelessness so tragic, so selfish, that I haven’t the words to express it.

            So no matter how frustrating and heart-wrenching the wait becomes, we press forward. We continue to prepare our home and our hearts. We find things to do in the expectation that the call WILL come, even though we don’t know when. And I am reminded that I must also do the same as I wait for Christ’s return.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012


I have seen many friends walk through the process of adoption. Each family had to make adjustments to their houses in advance of welcoming a new member. These adjustments range from purchasing a new bed to purchasing a larger vehicle. There are not any families in my circle of friends who have adopted a sibling group, so I have little to which to compare our own preparations. However, as I look back over the last two months, we have made some SERIOUS changes around here.

For those of you who don’t know, my family lives in Vermont, where my husband is a church planting pastor as well as a full-time IT team member for our local school system. We have two children. We homeschool. We live in a 1400 square foot home that was built in 1830. We have ONE bathroom.

The closet after the wall and old plaster were removed.
When our adoption is complete, we will have 5 children. Two boys and three girls with ages spread from 6 years to 14 years. I currently have three bedrooms and an office in my home. We knew we wanted the three girls to share a room as they are all pretty close in age. We also knew that this would require the largest room in the house—our master bedroom. So began phase one—moving all of our daughter’s furniture out of her room and into our room and moving all of our furniture into her room. At the same time, demo started on the closet in the master bedroom. Many closets in these old New England houses were simply afterthoughts, stealing a bit of square footage from the room to put in a wall that runs the length of the room. This produces a closet where you can really only see the clothes that are closest to the door. The rest hide in darkness.

The closet after new sheetrock was hung and mudded.
So we blew out the entire wall. I’m so thankful for a husband who reminds me of Neo in “The Matrix”. He can watch a Youtube video and know exactly what to do from demolition to hanging sheetrock. Within two weeks, we were able to create a new closet system that would work for 3 girls who are on the cusp of the teenage years. We also painted the room lavender. A set of bunk beds was given to us. I hit Kohl’s and got a tremendous amount of bedding for 50% off with a 15% off coupon!

Then we turned our attention to our Jeep. It seats 5. This wasn’t going to work for a family that would have seven members. So we traded it in for a 7-seater van. The cash register that lives in my head was really starting to go off at this point, but every bit of money needed was provided.

Next was the project of turning an office into a bedroom. Our church had recently moved into a storefront property in the heart of our town which left the other building empty. A perfect place for an office! So we moved two bookcases, several boxes of books, and a desk out of my house and into the old church building. We were once again given a loft bed. We are still getting this room ready, but in the next week, there will be a fresh coat of paint and a new dresser in that room, all ready to welcome our oldest son.

In the midst of all this came the need to reconfigure the homeschooling space. I had my own little classroom set up in what traditionally served as a dining room in this house. I knew I couldn’t put 5 children in that room and keep my sanity. So I took over my kitchen. We purchased a bench to increase seating at our kitchen table and I moved most of the homeschooling supplies into the kitchen. The old homeschooling room is now used for the two computers that our children will use to complete some assignments. Again, I’m thankful for my “Neo-like” husband who can build computers from scrap parts.

The funniest thing about all of these changes is where all the adult clothes have ended up. As we moved into our daughter’s old room, we were given a “closet” that is really nothing more than a hole in the wall. Just enough room for my jeans, pants, and Trey’s dressier suits that he never wears up here. The remaining clothes are in drawers in our son’s closet, in a storage bin under our armoire, on a PVC pipe-created rack, and in the nightstand next to our bed.

Now about that ONE bathroom…

Monday, May 28, 2012

Are We There Yet?

Yes, it’s been over seven months since my last blog update. That’s not to say that there hasn’t been anything going on; it’s just so hard to wait when things seem so close.

In the past few months, we have been earning our hours of study through webinars and book reading. We have also inquired about several sibling groups on the waiting child list through our adoption agency. In early April we inquired about a sibling group of three. After what seemed like the longest week ever, this sibling group was placed “on hold” for us. This is different from a referral because we are still waiting for ICAB (Inter-Country Adoption Board) in the Philippines to review and accept our dossier…the same dossier we sent to them seven months ago.

I can’t say much due to confidentiality requirements at this stage of the process. I can say that this is an older sibling group. One boy and two girls. I can also say that they are all beautiful! There were many things that drew us to these children, things that I will get into later when we have an official referral and a court date is set. For the time being, we continue to pray for these precious children who have been waiting for a forever family for quite some time.

Having a child or children “on hold” basically means that no other set of parents can pursue the adoption process with them unless we back off on our desires. We do not see this happening. We still have to wait for ICAB to even approve us, so in the extremely remote chance they do not accept our dossier, the children will go back on the waiting list.

When our dossier is reviewed and approved the children go from being “on hold” to being a “referral”. This part of the process should move relatively quickly as we have already said we would pursue adopting them once our dossier passed ICAB. Then a court date is set, plane tickets are purchased, and…off we go!

Sounds all very lovely, doesn’t it? However, my heart has been aching since we first set eyes on the sibling group’s pictures. These children are mine in heart, and every day they are not here with our family is another day they grow older, another day we are not making memories with them, and another day they spend in an institution.

I am asking all of you who read this to pray. Pray that ICAB will see fit to process our dossier quickly. Pray that God will work out all the details to come. Pray that we will be able to fund the remainder of adoption costs. Pray especially for my patience through all of this. Pray for our children who are waiting in the Philippines, who do not know that there is a family in Vermont who already loves them very much and who cannot wait to be under the same roof with them.

We thank you for your prayers and continued support.