Wednesday, November 27, 2013

He said "Yes"

Today was the day.  The day we "met" the boy we pray we will get to call "son."

Let me back up to yesterday though.  Yesterday we spoke with our translator and asked him to contact the orphanage director to ask her thoughts on us sharing with Max our intentions.  Our translator told us the orphanage director was thrilled to find out that he has a family that wants him because she's "been worried about that boy."  Worried that while so many of his friends have families working so hard to come get them, that he would be a left behind.  She said that she would have the conversation with him and then, separately, with Kate.

This was all yesterday morning our time.  What we did not expect was that less than 24 hours later we would be sitting on a Skype call with him for the very first time.  But you know, when I stop and think about it, why wouldn't you immediately tell a child they have a family when that's what they've been waiting for their ENTIRE life.  I guess I just thought since everything else moves slower than I would like, that this would be no different.  Wrong!

So, we gather around the kitchen table this morning to call Kate.  It rings and rings until finally Kate's caregiver answers the call.  She knows us know as she's there every Wednesday morning when we Skype with Kate.  Kate was not there so she ran off out of the office to get we thought.  But no less than a minute later, Max sits down in front of the computer.  Kate is nowhere to be seen.

"Uhhhhhh....  What does he know?  Have they told him?  Does he know who we are?  Should we say anything or just pretend like we called just to chat?  You know, because it's completely normal to Skype with someone you've never met who lives halfway around the world."  These were all the thoughts racing through our minds in that moment.

Having no real idea where to start, I said, "Hi Max.  My name is Ashley."  Then Adam introduced himself and we introduced the girls too.

"Do you know who we are?", I asked.

To which he replied, "Yes, you are Kate's family that is coming to get her."

"That's right, we are."  At this point, I ask the translator if he knows whether Max has already been told our intentions.  He said, "I think he probably has."  Alright, well if he hasn't this is going to be really awkward and will completely blindside him, but we'll just assume he does and figure it out later if we're wrong.

With a deep breath and only a little hesitation I said, "We are Kate's family, and we would like to be your family as well."

His answer: "I agree with you" followed by a huge and contagious grin.

Oh my goodness...we just asked another child if he would allow us to be his parents!?!?!  What!?!?  I mean, that's not exactly an every day occurrence so why did it seem so normal, so natural?  I'm sure there are days that Charlee and Andee wish they had the option to answer that question...ha.

At this point, the orphanage director got on the call, too, and shared with us that when they told the kids earlier in the day "Kate got so excited that they would get to stay together" and that "Max cried when she told him because he has always dreamed of having a family."

Yes, 10 year old boys cry because they have hearts, hearts with desires that God has placed within them, hearts that yearn for a family.  After all, family is God's design.

God sets the lonely in families,
he leads out the prisoners with singing.
Psalm 68:6

Our conversation continued and we learned a little more about Max and some of his favorite things.  He loves to build things (I see Legos in our that!) and he loves basketball.  Daddy's gonna have to step in for the whole sport thing, but I'm happy to be one of his biggest cheerleaders!  The girls turned the Christmas tree lights on and Max said, "Bright", at which point our translator said that we probably didn't need him anymore because he had quite a few English words he threw out during our conversation.  Smart boy!  We took them outside to show them the Christmas lights on the house.  They both thought that was pretty cool...what they don't know is that ours is nothing compared to other houses around...shhhh, don't tell them!

I cannot wait for the two of them to be home next Christmas.  To have 4 extra hands hanging ornaments on the Christmas tree.  To hang and fill two more stockings.  To gather around the fire pit together and roast marshmallows.  To be a family.  I.  Can. Not.  Wait.  And I can't think any more about that because the tears are already flowing.

We were really hoping to host the two of them this Christmas, but because of certain circumstances it will not be possible.  And I'm okay with  I will wait.  I remind myself that these two have waited 10 years so I can wait a few extra months.  I remind myself that our family is God's family.  He will knit us together exactly as He has planned according to His design and in His time.  There is nothing more beautiful, more freeing than letting go, saying and meaning, "Thy will be done."

I will write the story of how this all came to be and our decision to pursue Max, but that's for another day as his sisters are going to be awakening soon.  By the way, he seems okay with the idea of living in a house of girls.  I think knowing he will have a Daddy helps in that regard.  Now, the butterfly bathroom really may have to go, but because adoptions take longer than anyone ever wants, we have time to figure that one out.

For now, Adam and I thank you for your prayers.  We thank you for your love and for your support.  Many of you don't even realize it, but God uses you to keep our eyes focused on Him when we face discouragement and setbacks in this process.  We need you and we love you.  Thank you for allowing God to use you in even our lives.

I will leave you with just one picture for now from our call this morning...

Only God could enable your heart to melt just as much over a sweet child's face that you didn't hold at birth as it does over one that you've been blessed to hold since birth.  Because He's that good.

Our Reece's Rainbow page has also been updated with the addition of his sweet face.  Obviously an old picture, but with a face that cute who cares how old the picture is!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A secret and a certification

We have a secret.  There's a little something Adam and I feel we need to let you all in on.  I take that back, it's actually a bit of a big something.  A big something that's been laid on our hearts for about 2 months now.

So, about those even numbers I mentioned here about 3 months ago.  Let's just say that while I was getting used to the idea of an odd number of children, God was more or less just teasing me with that idea.  All the while, He was still working.  He was busy opening our hearts further than we expected.

He wasn't done with us.  And from experience I can say there's no better place to be than undone.

And so with hearts and hands open to the Lord and HIS timing and HIS plans and HIS purposes, we will be pursuing not just one child through this adoption, but two beautiful, amazing children.

Stepping out in faith and letting the Lord lead sometimes takes you to places you never would have imagined on your own, places that you would have said "no" to previously.  This place for us has less to do with the number of children than it does with the fact that this time, it's a BOY!

A boy.  I still can't wrap my mind around this one.  Do you know what a boy means?  If you do, please let me know because those 3 letters are going to change everything around the predominantly pink bathroom that the girls currently share upstairs.  Yep, pretty sure the cute little owls may see their last day long before I ever intended.

Even writing the word "boy" kind of causes me to take a deep breath.  It's not that I'm opposed to boys by any means, but once you get it in your head that you're going to be a "girl" family, the whole boy concept certainly can feel like a curve ball.  Speaking of balls, I'm fairly certain we'll be seeing our fair share of those in the near future because we hear he's quite the athlete.

I really want to share with you more about this precious boy, but I'm going to have to leave you hanging for a bit on that one.  Yes, we do know his name and quite a bit about him.  And I'll share some of what we know hopefully within the next week or two, but for now I'd like to ask that you join with us in prayer.  You see, this boy does not know us.  He knows we exist because one of his closest friends is K and he knows she has a family coming for her.  What he doesn't know is that he has a family coming for him...if he would like one.

Our next step is to ask him if he would allow us to be his family as well.  So would you please pray that the Lord would prepare his heart to receive that question and our hearts to ask it?  Would you please pray for wisdom for us as to how best to communicate our intentions to him?

I may not be able to share more about our boy now, but I can share something else that's super exciting...

Our home study is officially complete and we are certified to adopt children in the state of Arizona.  Now we just have to convince a certain foreign government that they should also allow us to adopt!  To do that we are continuing to compile our dossier.  Currently, we are waiting on a fingerprinting appointment from USCIS as well as an FBI clearance letter.  Once we have these two things we will submit our dossier.

It is so very challenging in this waiting to be continuously mindful of the fact that ALL of the waiting really is upon the Lord.  It is He, and He alone, who continues to strengthen us in the waiting.  It's easy to get so caught up in the doing, thinking you actually have control over any of this, and forget that He's got it...ALL of it.  He's got them.  Not just the two children we are pursuing, but each and every child who is fatherless.

They are each His.  Not forgotten.  Not unloved.  Not unworthy.

Now it's just a matter of whether the Church will step us as the bride of Christ and be the mother to these overlooked, but not forgotten, children.

The Gospel is not a picture of adoption,
adoption is a picture of the Gospel.
-John Piper-

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

I don't know lonely

There are days when loneliness gets you.  It puts you in a place you don't want to be and keeps you there a lot longer than you want to stay.  Lonely is where I've been for a few days now.  Days that have me remembering that the only person who will not fail me is my Jesus.

God brought me out of a long period of darkness and sometimes I wonder if He's given me a sensitivity to the loneliness.  There are days when I don't want to get out of bed and once I do all I want is to crawl back in.  These days scare me.  They stir up fear within me because I don't ever want that darkness to return.

But sometimes, if I were to be completely honest, I miss it.  Not the darkness itself.  I miss the way I couldn't help but draw nearer to Jesus.  Those were days that had me feeling defeated, but not forgotten.  They were desperate, but not hopeless.  Those were days that were so painfully lonely that it was truly just me and Him. But what better place to be really?

Today my loneliness is different.

It's got me thinking about Kate.

Wondering what her loneliness is like.

As I wonder, I quickly realize I don't have the slightest clue about lonely.

I've only known lonely within the context of a comfortable American life beside a loving family who championed me each step of the way.

I've only known lonely with my Savior.  The kind of lonely where I know that no matter what I feel, the truth is that He is always with rock, my refuge.

But her lonely...

Her lonely stands separated from my lonely by a world I never knew, never will know...worlds apart.

Her lonely is without the safety a family should provide, without the comfort of a Savior.

Her lonely happens within the confines of a large cement building, surrounded by the lonely of so many other children in the same situation.

Her lonely wonders why she isn't worthy of a family.

Her lonely believes she is not wanted.

Her lonely wipes away its own tears, instead of having the loving touch of a mommy to wipe them.

Her lonely doesn't get to greet a daddy at the end of his work day with a tight hug.

Her lonely doesn't hear, "I'm so proud of you" as she experiences the firsts of life.

Her lonely doesn't know the words, "You are precious.  You are loved."

As I think of her lonely and my lonely, I am in awe of God's great redemptive story.  I stand in awe that He has brought so much healing to my life and has turned it around in ways I never knew possible.

Look among the nations, and see;
wonder and be astounded.
For I am doing a work in your days
that you would not believe if told.
Habakkuk 1:5

Now I look forward to the redemption that I pray K will experience one day. I wait expectantly. I hope.

I have a feeling that one day it will be from her lonely that I will learn to love better, to care more deeply, to live more fully.  In so many ways I know that she will be the teacher, I the student.

I pray that God would His love within us to prove that lonely can be abandoned for forever family.

I am reminded that I have been rescued and redeemed and my story's not over.

I have hope that she will be rescued and redeemed and that her story is just beginning.

We adopt not because we are the rescuers.
We adopt because we are the rescued.
David Platt


I know that my life is being changed through this process, but I continue to be in awe of the fact that my 3 year old's life is also being changed...

The day after I returned from taking Kate back to LA to fly home, this is the conversation my littlest one and I had...

Andee:  Walks out of her room asking, "Is Kate downstairs?"
Me: "No, honey, she's on a plane flying home."
Andee: "With no mommy and no daddy and no things?"
Me:  "Yes, honey."
Andee:  "But you can be her mommy."

The simple beauty of a child's world.

And just today she said, "Mommy, when Kate come back?  It taking long time for Kate come back."

Even Andee, at 3 years old, has not forgotten Kate.  Her little life was blessed by an orphan...and will never be the same.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Stop signs

This is what I used to think a stop sign was:

Until my dear 6 year-old came home from school one day and while I was making lunch randomly announced slightly hesitantly "Mommy, I got a stop sign at school today."

It took me more than a few seconds to think through what in the world she was talking about.  This is my little girl who is mostly the stereotypical rule follower.  You tell her not to do something and she won't (unless she's not listening, but that's never a problem...ha!) or you ask her to do something and she will.

When we got the stacks of handouts at the beginning of the school year, the sheet outlining the process of discipline was one I only briefly skimmed over.  Thankfully I did at least skim it so that somewhere in a corner of my mind I remembered something about this "stop sign" phenomenon.

Anyway, I stopped preparing lunch and sat down with Charlee who proceeded to explain to me why she got a stop sign.  She was somewhat apprehensive as I would imagine she didn't know what to expect in terms of a possible consequence.  I just listened as she shared with me that she was talking after her teacher had asked her to stop...possibly more than once.

I took away two things from this:
First, I was elated that she shared this with me.  The fact that she chose to tell me about it meant the world to me.  Not because it was a big deal, but because I want desperately for my kids to always know they can come to me with anything and one day this "small thing" could be a "big thing" and I still want them to come.  My prayer is that the foundation is being laid in their little lives that they know they can trust me to love them in spite of the sometimes not wise choices they make...just like Jesus loves me when after 35 years I still screw up...daily.

The second thing that secretly thrilled me about this stop sign is that I NEVER would have gotten a stop sign...EVER!!!  So why does this stop sign excite me?  Because it means I have a little girl who is social...who loves people...and who LOVES to talk...apparently to them....during class.  So, while her choice of when to talk wasn't the greatest the fact that she will most likely never be labeled a "deaf mute" like her mom was brings joy to my heart.

I thanked Jesus this day that the phrase "stop sign" has a whole new meaning in my life and that it made me smile and reminded me of the grace that He continues to show me daily.
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