Tuesday, June 17, 2008

HOME.

For those who don't check the other blog...
We are all home and settling in.
We made it through a whirlwind trip to Africa and brought home the 2 most beautiful and amazing little people.

Go to jodyrlanders.com ---scroll back to get the full story and see how things are looking now at the Landers house.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Houston, We Have VISAS!!!

I'm am sneaking my way off this ferris wheel and heading to Africa!

The call came this morning, the kids have visas and we can go get them!!!

fine line.

i'm walking such a fine line between peace and panic.

it seems like with each passing moment, i swing from one to the other.

it's this "risky hope" as someone else put it.

it's so very uncomfortable.

nothing

I think we can safely say no news will come today.

I don't know, people. I need it to come tomorrow.

I do feel we are in some sort of spiritual battle.

It's very bizarre and I don't really know how to describe it.

On a lighter note:

I did find these replica posters on etsy.

The background is this:

In the Spring of 1939, with war against Germany all but inevitable, the British Government's Ministry of Information commissioned a series of propaganda posters to be distributed throughout the country at the onset of hostilities. It was feared that in the early months of the war Britain would be subjected to gas attacks, heavy bombing raids and even invasion. The posters were intended to offer the public reassurance in the dark days which lay ahead.

Not only perfect for adoptive parents. I think it will be rather appropriate in a house with 6 small children as well.

So here it is. Hanging on our living room wall.

tuesday.

I feel like time is standing still.

I want to crawl into bed and wake up only when the phone rings to give me an answer.

I know that is horrible.

The boys have lots going on this week. I need to be present--fully present--for them.

I'm afraid I am failing miserably today.

I am trying not to be an alarmist.

I am trying to be realistic.

The truth is we have no idea what is going on over there.

It could be that they are just slow.

Or it could be that there is some problem.

We don't know.

In my mind, I understand that I should not be panicking yet.

I should just relax, turn it over to the Lord, and carry on.

Could someone please tell me how to do this?

I can say that the sparkling clean car and continual consumption of processed sugar is not even touching the aching and heavy heart.

It usually helps.

Not today.

OK.

(originally posted monday, 5/19)
Breathe in. Breathe out.

Dakar responded this morning and said, "We are hoping to have a decision by the end of the week."

And this decision determines, not timing, but whether or not we will ever bring Zeke and Kora home.

It was not an encouraging email.

First of all because it looks like at best we will know something at the END of the week.

Which means a full week on the warp speed ferris wheel that is literally making me so sick.

And second, the tone made me so nervous.

I am trying not to panic yet...but I would venture to say that now, if ever, is a very, very critical time. And some of our worst fears are real threats.

The agency even said today that we "need to be asking for God's will to be done in these children's lives." And although I do believe that and it is my prayer, it is so, so scary to think that his plan for these kids might not include us. Neither the agency nor us has ever truly allowed ourselves to go there. You can't in this process. But now we are.

And I can't describe that to you.

Prayer is one of those mysteries that I just have never quite understood. All I know is that He asks us to do it. And so I will continue.

But I must say even in my prayers....I'm so scared.

Monday, May 19, 2008

full circle.

Looks like we are going to do a full circle again today.

No word from Dakar.

Our agency has emailed them and asked for an update.

We won’t hear anything about that until tomorrow or Wednesday at the earliest.

Ugh. It’s the knotted stomach that I just can’t shake.


I’ve read that when you feel poor or out of control of your life–you should clean your car. I’ve found in the past that it actually kind of helps.
So today we are deep cleaning our cars.
Good times.

i hate ferris wheels.

I hate ferris wheels.

I don’t know. They are just not good on my stomach.

I have forced myself a couple times to ride them with the boys. And every time, I just try and concentrate and count until it is over and I can get off! It is just the most uncomfortable feeling.

The going up. The coming down. The constant motion.

Every now and then, it would stop to let someone off. I would take a deep breath each time it stopped. Trying to gather myself until it started moving again. It would start moving again. And I would squeeze the hands of whoever was sitting next to me. And then just hope that we would be the next one to get off.

That’s kind of how I feel tonight.

Like I’m on top of the ferris wheel. It stopped for a second (the week-end). And I caught my breath. But I know that the only way to get off is to keep going around. So I am gearing up for the wheel to start moving again.

Monday comes in the morning. Africa works all night tonight.

Here we go….

it's friday.

The week is over.
I kept telling myself, “It’s OK, Jody. YOu still have three more days, two more days, one more day until Friday. You can do this until the end of the week.”
I was pretty confident that I could not go into a week-end without hearing anything.
It looks like I have no choice.
And that future grace is starting to kick in.
It is nearly impossible to describe the anticipation and then the let-down that came with each day this week. And the weight of wondering if something is going wrong. And the disappointment of being unable to prepare to bring them home after we were almost certain it would happen this week. Our hearts and minds must race with the possibilities that the future of our family is very unknown right now. We do not know what is going to happen…
But for now we are heading into the week-end. The next possible opportunity for any information is Monday.
We are emotionally exhausted. I have never experienced anything like it before. But Andy and I have regrouped after dealing individually with the stress of it all.
And we need to be present and enjoy the boys. There are no other options.
Please continue to pray with us for a favorable embassy decision very soon.

wow.

well, this qualifies, I believe, as a hard day.

andy and i are at our breaking points.

we are trying. but i think the pressure we are putting on ourselves to hold it together and not let it affect us might be making it more complicated.

there are some outside circumstances that are adding strain as well.

breathe in. breathe out.

i don’t know, folks.

ugh.

Adoption, my friends, sucks sometimes.
I literally had myself physically sick this morning waiting for a phone call.
We have indication that we should hear about visa approval this week.
I thought Monday or Tuesday should of been the day.
But the window of opportunity on those two days has closed (meaning they are not working in Africa right now and therefore will not send notice of visas).
So it means tomorrow, I have to do this again.
From 7 to about 8:30 am, I am so sick.
There is a lot riding on these visas. Everything hinges on these visas.
No visas…no homecoming.
And the weight of that is so heavy.
We do believe the signs are positive. But you never know…
With word of approval, it will be a mad rush to get arrangements made to get to Africa.
This limbo stuff I am not crazy about.
I need a nap…but I can’t sleep.
I want to throw up…but I have no appetite.
I want to trust Him and simply relax and wait…but well, I just haven’t figured out how to do that.

monday

(we were told 2 weeks ago that the field investigation should be done within 2 weeks. And the investigators were at the orphanage one week ago. Judging from those signs, we assumed we would certainly have approval this week)

I was up most of the night tossing and turning. I kept thinking, “It’s daytime in Africa. Please let them get their work done today!”
We were hoping for confirmation today but it didn’t happen. Night is falling there now so we will pray for tomorrow.
But we did get new pictures!
And I’m sorry, but this is hilarious….



First of all, they are the most beautiful little people ever.
And check out his shoes! Oh my gosh.
And Kora’s hair. I believe they must be preparing her for her white mama by shaving her head….
We love them.
The end.

As if I wasn't emotional enough...

I walked upstairs because I noticed a light on in Zeke and Kora’s room.
I was a bit frustrated because they boys are not supposed to be in there.
Frustration grew when I walked in and saw baskets stacked on top of each other and a number of things out of place.
Until I noticed this:


Gabe had taken great effort to get up to the shelf to put this note on it.
‘Zeke and Kora. I’m glad you are here. From your big brother Gabe.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Operation Homecoming Blog Auction


We are having fun over at the other blog trying to raise travel funds to bring Zeke and Kora home. My family and friends are putting on an auction using the 'Africa Bags' we crafted and lots of special treasures.
Surely, surely I should never forget those who helped us bring these babies home...

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

breakout 2

Breakout two was taught Mark Gregston who runs a ministry and intensive therapy camp for troubled teens.

Honestly, I walked in the room and wanted to sneak out the back. I just kind of had a feeling he was going to scare me.

And I think that was his point. That's what he wanted to do.

The thing I hear him saying is, "If you are an adoptive parent and you think you are going to get through this thing without some sort of intense suffering, you are a fool."

But rather than making me question everything, it actually was comforting to me.

Because unlike much of Christianity today, we need to understand that God's aim is not a conflict-free home. A suffering-free life was never in His plan.

So rather than shrink from it or be shocked by it, we just need to be prepared. Prepared to embrace suffering if we have to. Prepare to enter into our child's pain and have conflict with our child.

Just because it's hard and the children struggle does NOT mean God's fingerprints are not ALL over it. He calls parents to times like these.

He encouraged us to talk about the hard stuff. Help others embrace it. And don't freak out. (my paraphrase). :-)

I didn't really want to hug him as much.

I did want to say "Thank You" and "I hope I don't ever have to send any of my children to your camp." :-)

But I know it's a possibility....

from my breakouts.

I hesitate to even try and sum up what I learned. But I will attempt to articulate a couple thoughts that I took from my breakout sessions.

I went to 2 breakouts that were specifically addressing the needs, issues, and support of adoptive families.

The first was taught by Karyn Purvis whose book, "The Connected Child," has been sitting on my night stand. I have read it. But I didn't 'get' it until I saw her explain and demonstrate the principles. She is a scientist. A research Ph.D. who is the director of an Institute for Child Development. She's a smart lady. She tried to explain to us what happens in a child's brain when they experience harm or great loss in the beginning of their life. There is science that can clearly show that things change in the body when that happens.

But what struck me was the tears that would well up in her eyes as she talked about 'science.' Coming from a clinical and research background, it was her passion that captivated me. She so longed to train parents how to connect with a child whose brain has been altered by no fault of their own.

It was fascinating. Slightly overwhelming. But hopeful as well.

It certainly prepared me to bunker down for a couple months of hard work when Zeke and Kora first come home.

I wanted to hug her.

I didn't.

But I wanted to.

Orphan Summit

(I snuck away this past week-end to attend the Orphan Summit in Florida. It is an alliance of adoption, foster care, and orphan care activists and workers and parents combining voices for the cause of the fatherless. I am trying to unpack some of the information and blog it in order to remember....)

So there is no way I can recapture everything or really give you an accurate glimpse of the things God did in my heart and the things God is doing around the world on behalf of forgotten children...

But a few highlights--

Kay Warren spoke (or really wept her way through 45 minutes) about the responsibility of the Church. Her faith and evangelical Church had prepared her and she could teach lessons on how to find the best price on chicken breasts in town, how to lose those 10 extra pounds, how to decorate a table, and even have a family devotion. But what her faith did not prepare her for was meeting a woman dying of AIDS living under a tree whose only cry was "Who is going to take care of my children when I die?" As the wife of the most recognizable pastor in America, she was not prepared. And she can almost guarantee 98% of her church body was not either.

Does your church have an answer to that woman's question? I hear that over and over in my head these days. "Does your church have an answer for that?"

143 Million orphans in the world. What is the Church going to do about that?

(I can only blog for 5 minutes at a time these days. I'll be back later with the other reminders and challenges that haunt me....)

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

So.

So apparently our agency does not only email first thing in the morning.

I got an email at about 2 today that said they had gotten word from Dakar that they have 'strong hope' that the Visas will ready within 2 weeks.

2 weeks and we could have clearance to GO!

But nothing is definite.

Andy and I were both very cautious in our excitement.

This is the first we have heard in months. I was smiling. But I would not allow myself to freak out yet.

So I made a couple calls to some friends who I knew would scream.

They did not disappoint.

And they got excited enough to cover my caution.

It was nice.

Andy says he won't relax with jubilee until we are on the plane with them in US air space.

This is progress, folks.

Please keep praying for the action that will happening over in SL in the next couple weeks.

it's a sick game.

Each week day morning I get a little excited.

Because I know it is possible that we could hear something.

I know my agency gets to work at 8 am Colorado time.

I know she is checking her email first thing for word from the Embassy.

If by 8:10 (9:10 our time) I have not heard anything--it means I probably won't hear anything that day.

So by 9:10, I get a wave of saddness.

Another day with no news.

Our agency worker said I was doing a good job being patient.

How nice...
....and how disillusioned of her.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

he's ready for us to pick him up.

Photo taken by the first traveling family.

Doesn't he look like he is ready for us...ready for anyone to pick him up?

Monday, April 21, 2008

their room.

Something is not quite right about it, but I'm not sure what it is.

I'll stare at it while I wait and figure out what is it. Or one of you can tell me I'm sure.

In general, I like it.

It's ready for them.





Saturday, April 19, 2008

in my dreams.

So there has been some talk about Kora and her pink car seat.

It's waiting for her in the closet.

Was given to us at the shower...after being told that a girl in a family with 5 brothers must have a pink car seat.

So it waits.

Our sweet niece and cousin, Adessa, is coming to visit next week.

I'm quite certain Kora would want to share.

So Adessa is going to borrow Kora's car seat for a couple days.

My thoughtful and kind (and quite handy with photoshop) sister-in-law was afraid putting Adessa in the car seat first would mess with the dreams I have of Kora in it.

So to head that off, she sent me this. Kora in her pink car seat. :-)

thank you, Randie.

I can see it even more clearly.

Feels almost close enough to touch.

We're getting close. We have to be getting close...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

wonder twins in pinck

My boy is a little crabby.
But we have another sweet, sweet smile as well...

words are hard to find.

Honestly, it's been a hard several days. I am processing and sorting through all kinds of emotions. Usually, I find that at times like these, it's best not to try and blog. And probably, it's a bit too soon today as well. But somehow this helps heal me. This helps me figure out what is real and what is just a distortion in my mind. So this is pretty raw.

The first family is home. It's our turn now. There is nothing standing in our way from getting on a plane to get our kids except a phone call. A phone call that says, "come get them." I can feel us getting really close. Yet I know too it could still take them several months to make that call. I feel more intense, more urgent than I have yet in this process. And I still have no idea how much longer I have to wait. I want to pray about timing. But honestly wonder if God cares about that or if it's just my personal preferences. I am weary of praying and finding Him seemingly silent. I know in my head that it is more likely that I am not aware of His answers.

I seriously love these kids. It hurts. The longing for them is so real right now.

And yet in the same breath, I am fearful. I wonder if we really are going to be able to do this. Are we going to be able to nurture each of our children in the way they deserve? Are the boys going to be OK? Are we prepared and equipped to help Zeke and Kora through a very traumatic phase in their life? Is our marriage strong enough to handle the extra stress and pressure? Can we afford to feed them (seriously, Dawson has just started eating about 4 times as much as he used to)? How am I ever going to be able to figure out how to braid Kora's hair? Will they all ever know how much we love them and how committed we are to them?

I don't know if we can do it.

So two seemingly contradictory emotions have taken residence in my heart. And they are fighting it out.

At the same time, as the day approaches where Zeke and Kora will be physically present in our family, the critics seem to be on loud speaker. I don't know if it is me trying to prepare myself or wanting build a wall of protection for them before they get here.

I've said it before and I believe our lives and actions were provide evidence, but our love for Africa and our children there does not negate love and passion and commitment to our 'neighbor' here in America. Here and there. Both. Because we chose to give a home and family to children in Africa with no other options, does not mean we do not care about the people here. We have quickly become the biggest fans and advocates for families who are on the edge of caring for these children here as well. Many are our heroes in the truest sense. We have not and will not disengage from active involvement in people's lives here. Our eyes were opened to a need and we could not ignore, we could not turn our back on the children of SL. Race and location on the globe should not be determining factors on who is welcomed into a family.

Wish I could say it wasn't hurtful. Wish I could say I don't care.

I am working on getting a little tougher skin...as it appears having a large, transracial family will require it.

I wonder what heaven will be like? I imagine somehow that black hands will hold white hands. And I don't know why we have to wait for heaven to see it happen.

Our obedience to God is more important than people's comfort. God's promptings and peace are louder still than all our critics. And I love these children more than i dislike the disapproving looks.

So as I ache for them in anticipation of their arrival, my heart breaks as I recognize some of the challenges we will face. And as I wrestle round and round with fear and longing and anger and pure love--I know His grace will be sufficient. And I seen His heart more clearly than ever before. And that can't be such a bad place to be.

So for a blog entitled 'words are hard to find'--that was sure a lot of words.

Take it with a grain of salt...you are reading the heart of a 55 week pregnant mama of twins. I am quite uncomfortable.

Friday, March 21, 2008

we have connection.

Got the pictures this morning of Zeke and Kora receiving our package.
We have complete and utter cuteness from Zeke--

And I believe we have a smile from Miss Kora--

a little update

I got an email this morning from the mom currently in Dakar picking up her daughter from SL. She has a visa in hand!!! They should leave to come home tomorrow! We are taking a deep breath today and thanking God for this family and how they braved their way through this new program. We will hopefully be soon behind them.
She said this about Zeke and Kora after spending a little time with them:

“Zeke is so very tender and cuddly.
Kora has a sweet-heart and a hoot! What a personality she has! “

We are certainly missing them today. Kora apparently has 3 boils on her eye. I don’t know exactly what that means, but I do wish I was there taking care of her.

therapy in blog lurking.

I love this. I needed this.

It is a post written by a Dad who just brought home his 3rd adopted child from Ethiopia…and added her to their already family of 4 biological kids.

I don’t know them, but he does a great job of capturing a lot of the emotions of adoption and family.

This one in particular I just understand. Even now in process, I have moments of longing for a simpler life…

And it’s good to know I am not alone. And that it is worth it.

Read it here.

just good

I was trying to get a quote out of the below prayer to post. But I couldn’t. The whole thing was too good and gave me the words when I couldn’t find them.

‘Dear Lord, in the midst of much inner turmoil and restlessness, there is a consoling thought; maybe you are working in me in a way I cannot yet feel or experience or understand. My mind is not able to concentrate on you, my heart is not able to remain centered, and it seems as if you are absent and have left me alone. But in faith, I cling to you. I believe your Spirit reaches deeper and further than my mind or heart, and that profound movements are not the first to be noticed.
Therefore, Lord, I promise I will not turn away, not give up, not stop praying, even when it seems useless, pointless, and a waste of time and effort. I want to let you know that I love you even though I do not feel loved by you, and that I hope in you even though I often experience despair. Let this be a little dying I can do with you and for you as a way of experiencing some solidarity with the millions in this world who suffer far more than I do.
Amen.’ (Nouwen)

well, that was good practice.

Andy had a conversation at a restaurant yesterday. Luckily he dealt with it graciously and didn’t tell me until after we left what was said. A couple, who we really do not know well, had some strong opinions about our adoption and felt the need to share. Now I was steaming.

Everything in my being felt as though I wanted to turn the car around, flip some tables perhaps, and share a couple things of my own. It was so hurtful. And so wrong in my understanding of the Jesus.

Andy and I talked through it and began to discuss how we will deal with it in the future. Because surely, it won’t be the last time.

I had to do some searching and deal with my own anger. Praying not for God to open the eyes of others, but for me to see all people–including those who hurt me or my children–with eyes of grace and love and forgiveness. This, my friends, is not easy.

I’m pretty sure there was steam coming out of my ears all day yesterday. I’m better today.

This quote posted on Joanna and Taylor’s blog had new meaning this morning…and has become today’s prayer–

“It is not our job to convict the world, but to live as a convicted person.” (John Piper)

those are our kids.

I have been put in contact with ‘the first family’ in the SL adoption program (the ones who are currently in SL picking up their daughter). I love them and have so appreciated their wisdom and encouragement.
Anyway, I was looking through old pictures of theirs from their first trip to SL which was about a year ago. The mom is a wonderful photographer. And I was getting so excited as I flipped through looking for pictures of Zeke and Kora. She had taken beautiful head shots of each of the children in the home. I knew as I clicked through that I was getting closer to some gorgeous, unseen pictures of our kiddos. All the children were smiling beautifully, breathtaking shots. And I finally got to Zeke and Kora– (their only pictures, the only ones with this particular pose…)



They are going to fit right in around here.

its a small world indeed.


Most of you are never going to be able to follow how we are connected with the above people.
I grew up in Colorado with Josh’s family. Have been lurking and chatting with Amy through the blogs. Both passionate about our babies and the place they come from. They live in Oklahoma. We live in Muscatine.

Today we ran into each other in the Des Moines mall.

So weird.

So much fun!

Silas is cuter in real life than he is in pictures…and he is pretty darn cute in pictures.

I got black skin and hair care 101.

We shared a few stories and a couple hugs and enjoyed connecting again (and for the first time) with a family whose hearts beat in such a similar way.

And as all good bloggers should, Amy and I both had our cameras in our purses….

new pictures of zeke.


Friday, March 7, 2008

an update.

We got an update on the kids today.

A couple funny things. I know a lot is lost in translation..but we got a few glimpses into their sweet little lives.

Both are still weighing in at 21 to 22 pounds…tiny little ones.

Kora was taken to the doctor this month for a fever and runny nose and treated with what sounds like an antibiotic (so weird and kind of scary that they go to the doctor without us knowing).

There is a list of questions on the update form.

Zeke’s went like this:
Does the child obey? Yes. Is the child happy? Yes. Sad? No. Angry? No.

Kora’s went like this:
Does the child obey? Yes, she’s very obedient. Is the child happy? Yes. Sad? No. Angry? Yes.

:-)

She’s strong. And perhaps occasionally pissed. I get that.

Zeke is described as ‘an easy going child and likes singing, playing and smiling.’

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

we got to send the kids a package.

The traveling family offered to take the kids a package for us!  I was so excited.  It was our first opportunity to do this.

We gathered all this...to fit into a ziploc.



We were in a major time crunch (like everything else in this adoption...wait, wait, wait, hurry! hurry!) to get this to the traveling family.


So I had big dreams for what I would send them...but they could not be completed in 24 hours. So we had to improvise.


And it came together.


The photo album--with pictures from our time in SL and of all the boys and our family.


I used my Krio workbook to use a couple words the nannies and kids would understand.



We used a little voice recorder and left some messages for them.


Each of the boys gave a little greeting.


For a very goofy group, they were all very serious about their messages...



Andy sang a couple songs with his guitar. 'Jesus Loves the LIttle Children' and 'Jesus Loves Me' and 'You are My Sunshine.'


I recorded myself reading them a bedtime story.



"How long will you be my mother?"


"Always," said Mama.


"How long will you love me?"


"Always." Mama smiled.


"How long is always?"


"Miles and miles forever," said Mama.

Friday, February 29, 2008

someone. somewhere.

(I am a firm believer that in adoption, we are the lucky ones. Not Zeke and Kora...we get the truest blessing, the truest privilege of having them in our family. That being said, I also believe this...)

You know this.

But I am constantly thinking about Zeke and Kora. All the time.

I was driving the other day and thought, "I wonder what I will think about when Zeke and Kora are in the back seat and I don't have to dream about what they are doing or replay every minute that we spent with them in November. I'm going to have a lot of empty air time in my head."

(I imagine I will be plenty busy so there won't be too much worry about my lack of things to think about).

But for now it is my way of bonding with them, loving them from afar. To think, and pray, and dream, and long. It's what a mother does for any child who is separated from her.

And it is what I wish for every child in the world.

I started to remember some of the kids we met in SL. And I know that the days come and go where not a single person thinks about them. No one is planning for their future. No one is dreaming big dreams for them. No one is praying for them, longing for them.

It's heartbreaking really.

And to me, it is part of the miracle of adoption.

I read plenty of blogs of adoptive mothers...and I can tell you they are doing the same for their kids around the world.

A child who was otherwise forgotten, a child with no one left in the world...gets a mother, gets a family...who even in though far away for a time is planning and dreaming and praying. Someone. Somewhere. Cares. Big time.

And thats a whole lot more than can be said for most of the 150 million orphans who go to bed tonight.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

OK.

So this morning I got an email.

I have been waiting to post anything until I knew I could do this without crying....as if you guys can see me or something.

But it's kind of deceiving because it really is good news.

So here is the deal....

The first family (we are one of two families adopting from SL) got their visa!!!! People, this is huge! Everyone has been on pins and needles wondering if they were going to issue visas after the reopened adoption program. So this is very, very exciting news. They will be on their way to pick up their daughter very soon.

And the Embassy in Dakar will issue our field investigation on Monday. Now, this is neither good nor bad...kind of an inevitable part of the process. I have been praying that we could miraculously skip this step...but that is not going to happen. So what this means is that it will be a couple more months before Zeke and Kora can come home. (But from the above information...they will come home.)

So that stung a bit this morning. I needed to mourn the extended wait. I needed to cry. And I did.

But as I continue to process this information, it really is positive. We are making progress...things are moving in the right direction to provide a way to forever families for these kids. And it's good. We are so, so thankful.

And while the wait will continue, at least I know now. I can bunker down and know the kids will not come home in the next month or two. I can enjoy the time with the boys and continue to prepare for Zeke and Kora's arrival.

We can do this. We will wait as long as we have to.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Everything is There.

Our neat stack of completed paperwork, including our I600 approval, is apparently sitting on a desk in Dakar.

All we need now is a stamp. A decision granting the kid's visas.

We have no indication of how long it will take for them to do that.

And we wait...

Friday, February 15, 2008

God of this City

Dad blogged about that song that 'hit' me last week. He has the full back story over at his blog.

It has been blaring at our house for the last week. Andy did it at church this past week-end. I was sobbing (big surprise). Clearly it does not impact everyone the same way...and songs do that...some touch us while other people are unaffected. I guess for me I cannot hear it without seeing that open aired covering that housed 50 or so Sierra Leonian Christians that gathered there for worship. Their voices, their faces, the children dancing in the aisles. I envision them singing it...singing it over their city. A place that is impossible to describe. If you haven't been to similar places in the world, it's hard to grasp. But I see them desperately wanting to claim back their city, to restore His Kingdom reign there...a place where evil has destroyed so very much. I see Sarah and Faye and Aunty Batu and Pastor Samuel who are giving tirelessly their lives to bring the grace and hope and mercy that only God can give. I have seen through them that it can be so discouraging, so overwhelming.

I see our family singing it with them. We want so much to do our oh so tiny part to come along side of them. Not only to 2 forgotten children, but to those who are impacting and bringing change to the whole city. God can restore justice. God can bring hope. God can heal wounds. God can do that kind of stuff.

So when I hear this song, this is what I see.

(And I'm learning more and more that our resolve and commitment to love and justice is not mutually exclusive from desiring it here as well. They go hand in hand. They feed each other. And while these are the faces I see when I hear this song, it propels me to be all the more obedient and proactive here. At the same time, we cannot turn our faces from over there. He's the God of here and there. And sometimes it takes 'there' to open our eyes and expand our hearts. It certainly did for me.)

Watch it here.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

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"Adoption feels like genetic connection because it links you directly not only to your own gene pool but to the genes of all humanity, all the way to the roots from which we all originated....Adoption carries the added dimension of connection not only to your own tribe but beyond, widening the scope of what constitutes love, ties, and family. It is a larger embrace." (Isabella Rossellini)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

you know you are an adoptive parent when....

1. The fact that there are 143 million children without a parent to kiss them goodnight has made you lose sleep.

2. You realize DNA has nothing to do with love and family.

3. You can't watch Adoption Stories on TLC without sobbing.

4. The fact that, if 7% of Christians adopted 1 child there would be no orphans in the world, is convicting to you.

5. You spend free time surfing blogs about families who have experienced the blessing of adoption.

6. It drives you crazy when people ask you about adopted child's "real" parents.

7. You have ever been "pregnant" with your adoptive child longer than it takes an elephant to give birth.(2 years!)

8. You had no idea how you would afford to adopt but stepped out in faith anyway, knowing where God calls you He will provide.

9. You have ever taken an airplane ride half-way around the world with a child you just met.

10. You believe God's heart is for adoption.

11. You realize that welcoming a child into your heart and family is one of the most important legacies you could ever leave on this earth.

12. You know what the word "Dossier" means, and you can actually pronounce it!

13. You have welcomed a social worker into the most private parts of your life.

14. You shudder when people say your child is so lucky that you adopted them, knowing full well you are the blessed one to have him or her in your life.

Author Unknown

(Thanks, Steffany)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

and we wait some more.

Dakar apparently has all needed paperwork except the originals that are being sent from the NVC. When I asked how they send those, our agency said it appears they send them by 'highly trained homing pigeons.'
No doubt. Everything seems to move so slow.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

yeah!

Our I600 approvals arrived today in the mail.
Yeah!!

From what we understand, it has been faxed to Dakar and the visa center in New Hamphire.

It's now sitting on someone else's desk...
The ball is moving again.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

saturday.

It’s one of those days.

I’m highly discouraged that we didn’t hear back from the Immigration office on Friday. Monday is a holiday–adding yet even more never ending days to our wait. I feel like I could have a nice break down if I don’t keep myself distracted. I was cleaning out Quincy’s closet today and moved some of his too small clothes up to Zeke’s room (the few that have survived 4 boys already). My mind raced with images of Zeke in full Landers boy uniform–jeans with holes and a hooded sweatshirt. I do miss them so much. I wonder how long…it’s a pregnancy with no due date. No end in sight. Ugh.

So we are in full distraction/chore mode here. The hope is we can get it done today and tomorrow and then actually take a day off on Monday and PLAY with the kids on their no school day. After a family meeting about the possibility, everyone is quite cooperative.

Friday, January 18, 2008

transracial adoption article

a few tidbits from an article by Justin Taylor on transracial adoption:

"We shake our heads in wonder that the One who upholds the universe by the word of his power (Heb. 1:3) is not ashamed to call us his brothers (Heb. 2:11). We know that we deserve nothing but wrath, and instead have received grace upon grace in the gospel. It is this radical reality of the gospel that frees us from our love affair with comfort and moves us outward to serve those in need. We who have been rescued will desire to rescue others; we who have received the good news will desire to build families where the gospel can be demonstrated and relayed."

"At the end of the day, we have no biblical warrant for designing our lives around things we cannot control, nor do we have warrant for maximizing comfort at the expense of need. We pursue God in faith, and this faith is not by sight."

"As long as sin remains-this side of the return of Christ and the ushering in of the new heavens and the new earth-racism will remain. There is virtue neither in overstating or unstating this reality. But the idea of having qualms about transracial adoption (or interracial marriage) because it will create opportunities for more racial prejudice doesn't ultimately make a lot of sense. As John Piper has commented, "It's like the army being defeated because there aren't enough troops, and the troops won't sign up because the army's being defeated."


J. I. Packer gets it right in his classic, Knowing God: "Our understanding of Christianity cannot be better than our grasp of adoption."

"...my goal is not to argue that transracial adoption is the best or only way to live in gospel-motivated obedience to God's Word and in response to the needs of the world. I'm simply proposing that transracial adoption is one thing that Christians should celebrate and consider. "

Monday, January 14, 2008

Post Adoption Depression.

(originally posted at jodyrlanders.com...just keeping track here too).

I will probably touch on this later. But I'm thinking about it today and wanted to process today as well.

A scary and overwhelming thing called Post-Adoption Depression has come in up in several blogs that I read just yesterday. It is something I have heard about and read about in books. And I've talked about with a couple close friends. I am trying to be realistic and prepared and have my eyes as open as possible. But we know no matter how prepared we think we are, often things like PAD can sneak up and overcome us. And no matter how much reading we do it cannot compare to the reality of living with a newly adopted child and the challenges it brings.

So why am I boring you with this very official term that means very little to most of you?

I told a friend yesterday that I fully expect that we will wrestle with this in some degree. There always is a bit of let down when you achieve a goal that you have invested huge amounts of time, energy, money and emotions into. I imagine the first several months of having "strangers"--very needy strangers--living in your house can be a bit tiresome and confusing. Not to mention the overwhelming feelings of responsibility that will hit us as we enter the trenches of actually caring and providing for these children that we hardly know. I imagine there will be moments of panic--of "Oh my gosh, what have we done?!"

But I told my friend, "I'm not sure who I could admit that to. There is small group of people I would be willing to share it with. Simply because adoption has seemingly been a controversial thing in some ways. People have mixed feelings about it. And I know I could not handle the "I told you so" or "I knew this was going to be too much for you."

And then I started thinking about the tremendous therapy and support the blogs are for me. I don't want to have to pretend when the kids come home. There are going to be some rough days...possibly rough months.

So I am just preparing us all. We are hoping and praying for an easy transition and attachment but also preparing for a nightmare as well. And just because it is hard does not mean it is wrong.

I want to take this blog through the valleys and the moutaintops. I hope we can afford each other the grace to do so.

Now obviously, there are times when it is not appropriate to be completely honest on a public blog. I try and use discretion. But generally, what you see is what you get around here. An extremely flawed mother, with a house full of kids with their own challenges, and a marriage that requires a lot of work. Most days we have no idea what we are doing. And that is not going to change.

We will just add another dimension of doing our best, through the grace of God to make our way through adoptive parenting and loving wounded children. I anticipate it will be quite the ride.

Just be ready...that's all I'm saying...