Monday, April 30, 2007

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“When you are standing in a mass grave in Rwanda, the question that came to my mind was not the question that was coming to everyone else’s mind, perhaps. I’ve had people ask me, where was God in the midst of all this? But I could sense, at least from Scripture, what I knew of my heavenly Father, was that I knew where God was: He was right in the midst of all of that incredible suffering. The more relevant question for me was, where are God’s people?” (Gary Haugen)

Friday, April 27, 2007

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"Now, the range of our possible sufferings is determined by the largeness of our heart. It is possible to evade a multitude of sorrows by the cultivation of an insignificant life. Indeed, if it is your ambition to avoid the troubles of life, the recipe is perfectly simple — cut the wings of every soaring purpose and cultivate a little life centered on yourself, with the fewest correspondences and relations.

By doing this you will escape a lot of life afflictions. Cultivate negations, and large tracts of the universe will cease to exist. For instance, cultivate deafness and you will not hear horrifying things. Cultivate blindness and you will not see ugly things. Stupefy a sense, and you shut out a world. And, therefore, it is literally true that if you want to get through the world with the smallest trouble you must reduce yourself to the smallest compass." (J.H. Jowett)

Monday, April 23, 2007

breakdown.

I had the first of probably many complete adoption break downs. I cried in frustration like I have not done in a long time.
I am pretty confused. Pretty frustrated. I feel like I cannot distinquish between what I want and what God wants. We have to make decisions about the timing of everything and I don't know how to do that. We have prayed about it. We have sought council (and everyone has a completely different opinion). We have waited for peace.
I don't feel a peace about moving forward without the house sold at this point.
But I don't feel "peaceful" at all right now either. As if people don't think I am crazy enoegh already, when I try and explain the urgency I feel for a child I don't know--they almost lose complete faith in me.
My soul is uneasy, my heart heavy, and my mind confused. I can't bring them all to the same place.

I had a discouraging conversation with a "friend" who I do really respect. We didn't get the chance to finish and maybe I would feel better about it if we did. There are just so many "opinions", so many convictions, so many cautions--and somehow we have to make sense of it and move forward with complete confidence. I have been okay with the critiques until yesterday.
How do I know I am not convincing myself it is "God" when it is really me?
It seems like something so in line with God's heart and not something I would naturally be brave enough to do....

This is only the beginning. I must learn how to bring it all together and then take each step with faith and trust that regardless, He will catch us...

Thursday, April 19, 2007

kind of annoying.

So this whole thing is kind of annoying.

It's been kind of annoying from the minute God started to open my eyes to a whole new world. A world where suffering is so intense, needs so great, and problems so overwhelming.
It was so much easier before. Before I knew that children actually starve to death every day. Before I knew that mothers who love their children profoundly die every day because they can't afford medicine or can't find clean water. Before I knew the realities of war that seperate and destroy families. Before I knew there was something I could do...

I was thinking today about what a hard process adoption is. There are lots of hoops to jump through. It's a lot of work--not to mention emotionally exhausting. And that doesn't even begin to touch the challenges you face once the child is home. It's crazy. Life was much easier before this whole adoption thing took residence in my heart.

Sometimes I think, it would just be easier, people would understand (and probably approve) if we just forgot the whole thing. We can go about our merry way with our 4 beautiful children and our new house and our mutual funds.

But the problem is every time I close my eyes, I see their faces. Little brown eyes. In my dreams, it's their faces that follow me. I cannot forget. It's kind of annoying.

But somehow I believe it's all part of God's plan. I can't forget because my child is in Sierra Leone somewhere and the only way to get him/her to us, is for God to consume my heart and haunt my dreams like this. Otherwise, who would do this? It's crazy. And I'm wondering if only crazy people get to experience the abundance and adventure of really following Him--even if it takes you to Africa.

ugh.

Sometimes I think people would be more excited if we told them we were buying a boat.

We are starting to talk a little more about our African adoption and the glaze and blank stare some people have given me kind of shocked me.
Everything is so real in my mind and heart. The passion so alive. The need so obvious. The desire so intense. I just can't even imagine not being excited about it...for myself or for anyone else.
I have to remind myself that this is something God has laid on our hearts. I cannot hold everyone else to the same calling...God will move them if He wants. I must only be faithful to His promptings in my own life.

I can't say that is doesn't hurt me though. Sometimes I feel like if given the opportunity, a righteousness anger could explode. I can feel my body tense and heart rate speed up...how can we not get this??
I am well aware of my tendancy and must be on careful guard that my passion and anger does not turn to self-righteousness--how thin the line can be sometimes.

People understand boats and second houses and luxury cruises and padded retirement accounts. But bearing the weight of another nation, loving and caring for a child who has no family--well, that's just crazy.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

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"when people ask me why I adopted my kids from a certain country, I tell them because that is where my kids were."

money.

The reality of the financial burden of this adoption hit me today.
I have really no idea how we are going to pay for this.

Andy has traveled on 3 trips this past month to bring in some extra income. But he is exhausted and I can't keep asking him to do that. Bless his heart, he would. But he might kill himself in the process.

We have enoegh saved up to get us started, but we will deplete our own resources pretty quickly. It is an expensive process.

Everything I read says to not let finances be a deciding factor and trust God will provide a way.
I have believed that from the beginning, but now as the rubber meets the road, it seems very scary.

----

Risk more than others think is safe.

Care more than others think is wise.

Dream more than others think is practical.

Expect more than others think is possible.

(Cadet Maxim, West Point Military Academy)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

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"...a few families from foreign countries were throwing lifelines to individual children. The life-changine opportunity was not without a price--the adopted children would lose their country, people, faith, language, culture and history. A child could end up the sole Ethiopian for hundreds of miles; another, the only child of color in his or her school. But the adopted child would gain the one thing on earth worth more than a homeland: family." (Greene)

Monday, April 16, 2007

Aren't Your Lives Crazy Enough?

We've been asked this question a number of times. And the answer is "yes"...if you judging from the standpoint of the American dream. But perhaps, that's not what we are going for anymore.

Aren't you stressed a lot already? Yes. We have 4 little boys under the age of 7. One with an ongoing medical issue. Andy has a stressful job and I am always tired. But our lives in comparison to those around the world are a complete luxury. We are living what would be considered a vacation to so many.
And while we can be stressed and we are often flat out tired, we LOVE being parents. It is our greatest joy. And to not open up our hearts to a child who has no home because we are "busy" is inconceivable to us.

This adoption is not the easy way. It's not even really logical to many.
We will have to cut back even more with our finances. We will have to forego new cars and fancy vacations. We will get less sleep. We will have more pair of shoes to tie, one more soccer practice to go to, one more sandwich to cut, and one more summer camp to fund. And we believe it is worth it.

We have prayerfully considered each step of this process. We want to be aware and wise and not push ourselves to a breaking point. Our support team asks us hard questions. And we respect and appreciate that.

But we will not deny a child a home on the altar of our own selfishness.
Andy and I have felt our mind and hearts and our beings come alive in this process. There is somehow renewed energy and new life when we give ours away.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

safety first.

I read on another adoption blog that one mother went out and bought a fire extinguisher. She was preparing for the homestudy and she checked it off her adoption "to do" list.
That sounded like a good idea. So since I can't do too many things, I went out and bought a fire extinguisher and another CO2 detecter. And I felt like I did something...
Passports ready to be mailed Monday...

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"If the world is sane, then Jesus is mad as a hatter and the Last Supper is the Mad Tea Party.
The world says, Mind your own business, and Jesus says, There is no such thing as your own business.
The world says, Follow the wisest course and be a success, and Jesus says, "Follow me and be crucified.
The world says, "Drive carefully-the life you save may be your own-and Jesus says, Whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
The world says, Law and order, and Jesus says, Love.
The world says, Get and Jesus says, Give.
In terms of the world's sanity, Jesus is crazy as a coot, and anybody who thinks he can follow him without being a little crazy too is laboring less under a cross than under a delusion."
Buechner

Friday, April 13, 2007

watch.

http://www.makepovertyhistory.org/video/

go to above site (click and paste)--scroll down and watch "orphans of nkandla"

Paperwork

I'm not crazy about sitting around and doing nothing...which may be a problem if I understand the adoption process.
But we right now are waiting for the house to sell and I can't do much of anything so today--
I filled out our passport renewal papers--will try and get our pictures done tonight.
I ordered 2 certified copies of our marriage liscense
Ordered 2 certified copies of my birth certificate.
Ordered 2 certified copies of Andy's birth certificate.

We can be waiting for those in the mail while we wait on the house...

I have just read that these are the kind of documents we need for the international dossier and waiting for them all to arrive often slows things down. I understand that since I don't know really what I am doing, there will be so many other things to wait on once we get into the process more. But it made me feel good today...made me feel like I was closing the gap even while I wait.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

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"Of course, for most of Africa's ten million, fifteen million, twenty million orphans, no one is getting a room ready. No one will ever come." (Greene)

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"It turns out not to be very difficult for children to adapt to electricity and plumbing, a clean water supply, modern medicine, cars, groceries, paved streets, playgrounds, school, shoes, bikes, dance lessons, and loving parents. What is hard--even impossible--is for children to survive the death of their parents without loving substitutes." (Greene)

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"They loved their sons more than life...adults who treasured children; and then they'd discovered a country full of orphans. Both halves of an equation were suddenly obvious to them, even it it sounded slightly crazy to their friends." (Melissa Greene)

paradox

"Imagine that you are looking at the world through a telephoto lens. Up close, you are charmed by the smiles of little children cuddled in the arms of beaming adoptive parents. Many of us prefer to keep the focus that tight. IF you dial back for the long view, however, you see poverty, injustice, and the sorrow of parents who must relinquish their children to keep them alive and healthy or to avoid the stigma or punishment. Everything you see, whether close or distant, is really there. The joy and tradgedy coexist. The is the paradox of adoption and we are all caught up in it. Your family's cohesion over the long haul depends on how you come to terms with tha paradox." (Cheri Register)

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"I am deeply respectful of the families who care for our children. But I am so very interested in any help that can be given to us to keep the children's first parents alive. Adoption is good, but children, naturally, would prefer not to see their parents die." (Huddash Halefom)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

a band-aid.

Along the line, there have been a number of times that we have wondered if maybe we might be crazy.

After family and friends traveled to Africa on different occasions, they returned saying that the African people have negative feelings towards adoption. They do not like to think that Americans come in and take their children. Their dignity and pride wants so desperately for them to be able to take care of their own.
I understood that.
I thought maybe we were misguided in our passion.

But one day while driving I thought, "I understand that adoption is NOT the answer. Adoption does not cure Africa's problems. It saves very few of the millions. But it will be very hard to not take personally the problems of those left behind when we love a child born in Africa. They will serve as constant reminders and ambassadors to help us not forget. And our ultimate aim is that their first parents do not die."

I had such a peace about that position.

A couple days later I read this in "There is No Me Without You"--

"Adoption is not the answer to HIV/AIDS in Africa. Adoption rescues few. Adoption illuminates by example: these few once-loved children--who lost their parents to preventable diseases--have been offered a second chance at a family life in foreign countries; like young ambassadors, they instruct us. From them, we gain impressions about what their age-mates must be like, the ones living and dying by the millions, without parents, in the cities and villages of Africa. For every orphan turning up in a northern hemisphere household--winning the spelling bee, winning the cross-country race, joining the Boy Scouts, learning to rollerblade, playing the trumpet or the violin--ten thousand African children remain behind alone." (Melissa Greene)

More Stirrings of Our Hearts

I read one day in a book about a young African mother who prayed daily that her children would die before her. She was terrified because she knew that if she died, there would be no one to care for her 3 young children.
I remember weeping and thinking, "That is not OK. That is not OK with me."
If the roles were reversed, I would want someone to step up and say, "No, your children will not be alone. I will not only care for them but I will love them as my own."

Why?

Why adopt?
For us, there are a number of reasons. And they will unfold I am sure as we tell our story.

But first of all, it is so clear biblically the place that orphans hold in the heart of God. And as we seek to aliegn our own hearts with HIs, it was clear to us that when God commanded us to care for the orphan and look at the least of these...he meant that in the most literal terms.

The second just seems so logical. Children don't have families. We are capable of caring for and loving and advocating for another child. Deep gladness and deep hunger meet.

Our eyes were opened to a need. We felt a responsibility.
We are scared to death. But the only thing more scary to us is not doing it.

skipping ahead.

While I was following logic and responsibility with my actions, my heart was skipping ahead. I read the following by another adoptive mom,
"It's hard to explain to anyone except maybe other adoptive parents, but it is like trying to hold back love for a child you have not met yet. Once you've committed to this process, you heart trips so far ahead of you that there isn't much you can do about it."

That was it.

patience.

As we began to fill out more paperwork and received a schedule of payments, we realized we might need to pull back a little.

This is a huge financial burden and we still have a house that is not sold. Everything in us wanted to push forward, but wise council encouraged us to simply wait until the house sells.

That was so frustrating for me. I was so tense. I prayed so fervently for a miracle and for the house to sell! The thought of waiting made me weak.

jump

After much research, I found an agency that I just had a huge peace about for no explainable reason. I sent in the application on March 22. I had Andy take it to the post office as a final indication that we were on the same page. We spent many hours talking and rethinking this decision. And in the end, we both felt like we just needed to jump.

Our application was accepted on March 28. I remember feeling like I did when I saw those 2 purple lines appear on pregnancy test. It was sheer excitement mixed with a healthy dose of fear and panic.

I called that day to find a social worker.

We were assigned one on April 1.

Research

For about 2 years I did some pretty regular, intense research. On adoption, on the orphan crisis. During this time, our hearts were particularly taken by Africa as a continent in crisis--with poverty and war and emptiness that we know nothing of. I could not read enough or learn enough about their needs. As a family, we adopted Sierra Leone and began to focus our research and resources on this country. Rebuilding from a 10 year civil war, it is one of the poorest countries in the world. The suffering of it's peoples are indescribable to Americans. We don't have a compartment for the horrors they lived through and continue to battle daily.

Naturally we came to another intersection. Our heart for adoption met with the huge need in Africa to help care for their orphans. It felt very natural to concentrate our adoption efforts on Sierra Leone.

The Beginning.

Andy and I always talked openly about adoption. Never real seriously, but even before we were married, we always thought it was an honorable decision and one that we might make one day. Over the years, we talked about it occasionally, both of our hearts still soft to the idea.

After Quincy was born and we survived the trauma of his birth, I began to think about it more seriously.

I remember reading the above Beuchner quote one day, "The place God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet."
I began to think about what my "deep gladness" is--and without to much meditation it is obviously being a mother. I love being a mom. There are times (not always) when I think, "this. This is what I was made for."
The second half is the world's deep hunger--and I began to learn and study about the orphan crisis in the world. Children without MOms and Dads. Children without families. And it was obvious too that a deep hunger lie within the millions of orphans.

So bring the two together and they seem to so simply, so logically intersect at adoption.

Here we go...

I am going to start journaling our way through our African adoption here on this blog. This may of particular interest to some and not so much to others, so I will keep it here. And there are still so many unknowns, I hesitate to open my heart and journey up to all. But I also do not want to forget this process and the clear calling and conviction God put in our hearts. Thus, our story....