Wednesday, October 31, 2007

the biggest "THANK YOU!"

What a precious, precious support team! We have maxed out the full potential of the matching donor. Thank you. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

We are truly, truly humbled and so very grateful for all of you who have joined us in the last 20 days. We feel a huge burden lifted as the financial fears and strain no longer loom as heavy.

We know how very blessed we are. We know that we are not doing this alone. And we know when God resources a call, he uses people like you all.
We promise to tell Zeke and Kora someday about all the people that loved them and helped to bring them home.

Thank you. The words fall so shamefully short to expressing our hearts. Yet we don't know how else to say it. So, thank you.

Sierra Leone

These pictures were all taken by my brother-in-law, Taylor, on their trip to Sierra Leone over the summer. They went as our initial connection for families for africa (familiesforafrica.com). These pictures are stunning, capturing the beauty of the country and the people who have endured so very much. To me there are glimmers of hope in a place where it is often hard to find. (These are his property, so please don't reproduce...we are hoping to compile them somehow someday.)
So here is the birthplace of our babies...




Tuesday, October 30, 2007

round and round.

We got an email this morning saying that the first family in our program (who we are watching to see how things go as an indicator of how they could go for us) were given the requirement for a field investigation. This is not good news. It prolongs their process by 2 to 4 months.
The only glimmer of hope is that there is a new person in the position at the Embassy who controls these things. We are praying he is going to be easier to work with!

I'm just sad this morning. There reality of Zeke and Kora being in my arms seems so, so far off.

Monday, October 29, 2007

because she knows...and because she blessed my heart.

I got an email recently reconnecting me with an old friend from high school. We used to play basketball together and I had not talked to her since I graduated. Anyway, we reconnected and she had been reading the adoption blog. She is a beautiful (OK, strikingly beautiful) black woman. I believe she was the only black girl in our little Christian high school. I didn't realize it in high school, but apparently she has her own adoption story. She was adopted by white parents as a baby. I got all personal and asked her to tell me about it. She was very comfortable telling her story and sent me the following email. I cannot even tell you how much it encouraged and challenged me...

"Growing up I never felt that weird about my parents being white, in fact I can only remember one time I heard someone talking about it, I think I was in fourth grade and some kid was talking to another asking if he knew my parents were white, so it wasn't even anything negative, but I do remember that's the first time I thought..."hmmm, I guess it is different." My parents never made me feel different and neither did any of my extended family. I think that's also important, that your family, people who will be their aunts and uncles, cousins grandparents, that they look at the twins the same way they look at your four boys. I know that from your blogs it will never be an issue for you though, I can hear just through your words that you have already taken that role of mother even though you haven't met them yet.
I became more self conscious about my parents being white in high school I think, but only around people I didn't know. If you have a core group of friends who accept you and love you then it makes all the difference and I am grateful for them. Most are still my close friends still. My parents did a good job making me feel important so although there were awkward moments here and there with strangers, I got over them so fast! Now as a young adult I am very proud of where I came from and the parents I have, I wouldn't change it. I know that God blessed me with that specific family. I would not have had an enriched fulfilling life if I wasn't adopted."

She also offered black hair care lessons...but unfortunately she lives in Colorado. But I may still find a way to take her up on it.
She is an amazing woman...and she reached out to me when I needed it so. I hope one day Kora will tell her story with as much grace and confidence.
Much love and many thanks, Sarah!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

safe.

an unfinished project...at the blank black screen, it is over for now...

Friday, October 26, 2007

no news.

I am coming to terms with the reality that we will not get a court date this week. Which means we will wait..wait through another week-end and into another week. My mom from the beginning said she was praying that something would happen and we could bring the babies home the first trip. I just laughed at her knowing that she doesn't understand the process and that it is simply impossible. I didn't even bother to adopt the same prayer, because the agency and the government says "No, sorry. Not going to happen." Well, I'm getting desperate. It now has become my prayer. I am searching for some loophole, some person who we can pray for..some person who can make a way for Zeke and Kora to come home the first trip. It's a long shot. Impossible really. And I understand that God may not answer in the way we want. Perhaps there is something in the process that He is not done teaching us yet. And I'm not really wanting a theological debate about prayer and such...bottom line, I don't get it. But I know I'm supposed to do it. And I know the desires of my heart. So I am going with that for now...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

safe in my arms

All of our boys were shooting around with some other kids in the gym after Dawson's basketball practice. At one point, Max took a ball to the head pretty hard. It bounced off and a everyone kind of chuckled. Max did too at first. Then he realized it actually hurt...bad. His eyes scanned the room looking for me. Once his eyes found mine, he walked calmly over to me and buried his face in my sweatshirt. He cried, hiding his face in my embrace. I rubbed his head and thought for a second what a privilege it is that he was looking for me. I love being the Mom...the one that when his little heart or his little ego or his little head is hurt, his eyes scan the room for me. I love being the safe place to fall. How lucky am I to be that to 4 little men. I hope they always know where they can find me...no matter how old they get. And perhaps my sweatshirt and my kiss won't fix things for long...but for now, I am thankful. And honored. And humbled.

And when I consider the privilege of being Mom, I can't help but think about Zeke and Kora as well. I wonder who their eyes search for when they fall. I wonder where they hide when they are embarrassed. I wonder how long it will be before they are safe in my arms.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

not particularly happy


I found this picture that my brother-in-law and sister took of Zeke and Kora back in June when they traveled to Sierra Leone. We did not know at this point which child (HA!) would be ours, but they did get to visit The House of Hope and meet all the children. Zeke and Kora apparently were not horribly impressed. But beautiful nonetheless. And Kora has longer hair--I don't know how all this happens, but I will learn soon enough.

so...

So the big official stack of paper is written in Greek. Not really, but it might as well be. Because I understand very little of it. Basically it is instructions for applying for immigrant visas, getting immigrant physicals and immunizations for the kids, and petitioning for the I600. All part of the bringing Zeke and Kora home...just not sure in what order and exactly how it is done. But we will work our way through it. The agency says it is good sign that we are in their system. Everything at this point is still hinging on a court date...which we are still hoping for either this week or next.

This process...is just exhausting. And confusing. And filled with every extreme of emotion. I feel the need to hug to every adoptive mom out there. I had no idea.

Monday, October 22, 2007

'official looking' mail.

Got a huge packet of paperwork from the US Embassy in Dakar. That's good, I think. I don't understand exactly what I am supposed to do. But hopefully tomorrow I will get a chance to talk with our agency and figure it out. No court date on it, but I do believe it is a sign of things moving in the right direction....

Sunday, October 21, 2007

home.

I made it home safely from Colorado.
Quincy looked at me tonight and said, "I thought you were going to pick up the twins."

I wish, buddy. I wish.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

day 2.

Day 2 over. Tomorrow morning, we fly home.
I am anxious to be with the boys and Andy.

The training today was very good. Very educational and matter of fact. I have been reading everything I can get my hands on about these issues for quite a while now. So I wouldn’t say that it was information that I had not heard before. But it is different when it is coming from real live people who lived through real life circumstances. It was therapeutic to hear them talk about it. Didn’t freak me out…I think I already went through that stage. It’s too late now…I love Zeke and Kora and would climb any wall. And I guess the thing I got most out of it was that that was OK. That is was good and right to embrace these children with all that we have. To love these pictures…to feel like they are “our children” already. I guess I was feeling that way, but thought maybe I was doing something wrong. Because people don’t really get that…I don’t really get that. I ‘love’ these children that I have never touched…that I have never seen. But I do. WIth all my heart. And I needed to know that I wasn’t crazy. And that yes, there is great possibility of heart break. But that’s what adoptive mothers..and all mothers do…we love without looking back or worrying about future pain. We have to. And this is no different.

So I held it together until the end when I asked my question about balance…about protecting our hearts when we know the possibility that the door will slam in our faces and loving, loving so intensely these children? Then I wept…and snorted like I do when I cry like that. But I didn’t care. And the answer was clear from the seasoned adoptive moms and speakers…you can’t love too much.

training.

I am presently in Colorado at our agency's "training" class. I have found it refreshing to be around others who are going through similar journeys and who can at least validate my feelings. I could sit and listen to the issues and the families talk for several more days than I have to. I LOVE being a part of this.
We learned a little about the history of adoption and some of the terms we use...which really is fascinating and good for another post.
I sat through 2 hours on newborn care. Which was fun because it's not often that I get to be the expert at the table on something.
And we talked about grief...and how grief is central to all adoptions. I know this and have wrestled with it for over a year now. My heart already hurts...for Zeke and Kora and the grief they will have to endure. And for a first family and a country whose loss created the situation in the first place. Adoption is Plan B. As was Jesus on the cross. After the fall in the garden, the cross became Plan B. And God's heart is in redemption...in adoption. What a priviledge. What an honor. What saddness we must be willing to embrace.
We had a discussion on transracial family...which I loved. Heard from an African woman who does orphan care in Nambia. Loved her. Begging us to love these children and accept them unconditionally...with not an ounce of 'less' in us. Everything in me stirred with anticipation...I long to love these babies so very much.
Today we will talk more about attachment ect...which will open our eyes to just how hard it can be sometimes to love like that.

I have met some wonderful, brave families...all stepping out in pursuit of God's heart.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

HUGE!

I have some really great news and a huge breakthrough for us. It involves the finances of this adoption. Which is always just hard for me to talk about. I so wish Andy and I could fund this on our own and we didn't have to really ever talk about it. But it's just not reality for us. We cleared out all of our accounts to pay for the first 1/3 of this process. And when we jumped into taking Zeke AND Kora, our financial burden grew that much more. We need 20,000 more dollars to pay for the remaining fees and expenses. We have raised 5,000 so far. And we don't even know how to express adequately how much the support means. Many of you have wanted to take this journey with us and it has brought us great strength.

So all that to say, just yesterday I was sharing with a close friend that I was starting to get a little nervous about the upcoming trip and upcoming payments. I was learning what it was like to just wait on God's timing-- which usually doesn't come too far in advance. And then several hours later, I got a phone call. From a person who would like to remain anonymous, but he had an amazing proposition for me. For the next 30 days, he will match any donation made to our adoption...dollar for dollar...up to $5,000! Meaning in the next 30 days, anyone's $25 is actually $50, $100 is actually $200... each dollar bringing us one step close to these children. This is HUGE for us. We are thrilled with the opportunity and so very grateful.


And so if anyone has been wanting to partner with us...now would be the time. You can do so on the donation link on the right sidebar. Or you can send it directly to us. Email me at jodylanders (at) gmail (dot) com ---if you need an address.
I will be keeping track on the thermometer over at the right (automatically doubling any donation). Again, HUGE. Huge for us.

OK, that was kind of painful for me to talk about. But this was a special opportunity from the generous heart of someone that we could not let go. The money is just one of the hoops to jump through to get Zeke and Kora to a family. And we are trusting God to resource a call that we felt so strongly.

Thank you. THank you for letting me be honest and vent here on these blogs. Thank you for following our story. Thank you for loving and encouraging me in the process. Thank you for the practical support. And thank you for loving these 2 children across the ocean...

Monday, October 15, 2007

yeah, yeah, and oh my gosh.

We got wonderful news...times 2 today.

I know this adoption process is confusing to many of you, so you will just have to take my word that the following is great news. There is one family ahead of us in the process waiting to bring their daughter home from Sierra Leone. They have already appeared in court and were waiting for the approval of the I600. This is where adoptive parents have run into trouble before and everyone was unsure how this was going to go since this is the first family through after the reopening of the program. Anyway, today they got their I600 approval! That is huge news for all of us in this particular program. They are getting very close to returning to SL to pick up their daughter.

AND our agency worker said we should have a court date within 3 weeks! 3 weeks we should have a travel date and I understand they give you 2 weeks to make arrangements. So we are looking at possibly being in Africa, meeting Zeke and Kora next month. (Now I am taking this news, or trying to take this news, with a grain of salt, because it hardly ever goes the way we want or think it will. So we will see, but this is progress...)

AND oh my gosh. I was skipping around the house with the vacuum cleaner after reading the email. So excited. Then started to panic just slightly. Lots to fall in place before we travel...funds, child care, order. :-) We are trusting God like never before to provide and give grace where we need it.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

what i needed.

Last night a more seasoned adoptive Mother was checking in her beautiful son into the nursery. She said she had just heard about our adoption and said, "I am just so happy for you!" All of a sudden there was rest and calm in my restless heart. Not sure why. Other than I so needed to hear that. We get a lot of reactions about our adoption. But not very often do we get, "we are so happy for you." But this mother knew. She knew that we are really the lucky ones. She knows how these children bless you beyond your imagination and change your life forever.

It was much like I felt hours after Quincy was born. We were in shock and in a bit of a whirlwind of medical activity. People were calling and we were trying to explain the little we knew about our condition. I remember how I felt when after speaking to a number of different people, a friend called and as soon as I got on the phone she said, "Congratulations!." Again, calm in my restless heart. Yes, our baby was very sick. Yes, we had no idea what was going to happen. But just like with our other healthy babies, he was our brand new baby boy. And we were so thankful for him. And so in love with him. Although we were all scared, we also wanted people to rejoice with us over Quincy.

And that's how we feel about Zeke and Kora. We don't know what is going to happen. We assume there will be some hard years. But we want people to rejoice over these children with us. We are the ones that are so very blessed. Two children find a family and a a family is forever changed. It doesn't get much better than that.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

and now in color.

because I have nothing new to share.... ugh.



(I am going to need serious assistance in the hair care department. Currently looking for a class to take....)

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

so they are little.

Thanks to the help from my fabulous sister-in-law, Randie, I was able to find a growth chart calculator. According to AMERICAN growth charts, Zeke and Kora are below the 5th percentile in height and weight. I imagine they will bulk right up once here and living by American food consumption practices. But just goes to show you what a big place the world is...

and they sent new pictures too.


growth charts.

We got scanned in growth charts for Zeke and Kora yesterday through email. They were hard to read, but from what I understand they are both in the 45th percentile in both height and weight. I need to do a bit more research to see how their growth charts compare to our American ones. I assume they are a bit different.

Monday, October 8, 2007

these will have to do for now.

I read a lot of adoption blogs. I always thought it was funny how everyone posts pictures of the clothes and the rooms and gifts they have for their future kids. But I get it now. It's because the kids are not here!!! They are not here for us to take pictures of. And so we take pictures of their clothes...and imagine them in them. We take pictures of their rooms...and imagine them sleeping in their beds. We take pictures of their birthday parties...and imagine they were here to open their presents.

So for their birthday--
Backpacks to take on the plane to come home!!!

and some t-shirts

Sunday, October 7, 2007

heroes.

I was given a microphone this week-end. And there were a number of people that were not. A number of people way more deserving than I. A number of people who have been in the trenches caring for the broken, and unwanted, and fatherless for years before my eyes were opened to it. A number of people who have quietly and faithfully served the very least of these...and were never given a moment in the spot light. A number of people who are pursuing with the same fervor and passion a home for a child without one. And they are my heroes. They have been my inspiration and they have made me brave.
In our home church, we have families who love and care for children in our foster care system--both temporarily and permanently. We have precious friends (follow their story at hotflawedmama.blogspot.com) at Calvary who are waiting to give a home to siblings from Ethiopia. We have a number of families who have adopted hurting and lonely children and given them a forever family. We have people who work tirelessly every day to give a bit of hope to the addicted and forgotten parents and children of Muscatine.
We have a special opportunity in our little church in the middle of Iowa to embrace and love children from all over the world. To support the families who care for them day in and day out. To be an extension of God's heart. What a privilege. What an adventure.
I'm certainly thankful that I am not alone.

public speaking is my new diet plan...

I got to share for 2 minutes in our week-end services the past 2 days about the adoption and I didn't eat anything all week-end.

It was the anticipation of crying uncontrollably or talking too fast that had me all worked up. Still not sure if I was articulate, but we made it through.

I prayed that I would tell our story and share our passion and gave a bit of a voice to those who cannot speak for themselves.

I will now resume eating...

Saturday, October 6, 2007

The Babies Turn 2 on Monday.

Happy Birthday, sweet boy. Happy Birthday, sweet girl.

"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." (John 14:18)

---

"Somewhere in the middle, You'll find me. Just how close can I get, Lord, to my surrender without losing all control--Fearless warriors in a picket fence, reckless abandon wrapped in common sense--Deep water faith in the shallow end and we are caught in the middle--With eyes wide open to the differences, the God we want and the God who is-But will we trade our dreams for His or are we caught in the middle." (Casting Crowns)

yeah for me.

Copy and Paste this address: http://jodylanders.wordpress.com/2007/03/01/im-totally-asking-for-it
for evidence of why I am so proud of the below project.

I made these last night for the new room we are starting to put together...

Thursday, October 4, 2007

brown eyed girl

i have no other daughters and i'm pretty sure i can safely say this is the most beautiful girl i have ever seen....

a picture.

(*there apparently is a saying in parts of Africa--"Just leave them beneath the banana tree." It is said in regards to birth defect and handicapped babies born there. Beneath the banana tree is where they are often left to be exposed to the elements and die.)

This is one of my favorite pictures from my Dad's visit to the orphanage. I think it might be because we know the story of the little girl nuzzled in the arms of one of the beautiful nannies. I see Jesus in every inch of this picture.

I think I have discovered that perhaps I have searched for God in all the wrong places. Because all along he has been 'beneath the banana tree' with the world's broken, discarded and forgotten children...

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

a couple more

Dad said Kora acted much like a big sister to Zeke..she would often put her hand around him like this.

I love how she is standing back, just watching, keeping a watchful eye on her brother....

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

grab the kleenex

(OK, maybe I was the only one that needed them, but here we go...)


Papa and Zeke

Kora, Zeke, and Papa

recap

Recap of current status for new blog followers:

Pursuing the adoption of Zeke and Kora from Sierra Leone, West Africa. They will be 2 years old next week. (picture in sidebar and others throughout the archives)
We are currently waiting for a court date (could be any day now). Once we receive one, we will travel to Sierra Leone to meet the kids and appear in court.
We will not bring them home then. We have to then return to the US for another 3 to 6 months and wait for the US Embassy to issue their visas and passports.

Scroll down to post titled "This Day" for our referral day.

Go back and read from oldest entry to the current one for a better understanding our journey and decision to adopt.

Thank you for praying and supporting and partnering with us as we seek God's heart..we see it more clearly than ever before in the eyes of these children.

compassion

"The word compassion is derived from the Latin words pati and cum, which together mean "to suffer with." Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears." (Thomas Davis)
-

"Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human."
(Henri Nouwen)