Sunday, January 27, 2008

You. (Yes, YOU!)

I don't have long to type right now but I just had to say a quick THANK YOU to each and every one of you. All of your comments and emails of congratulations and support just increase our joy and excitement, and the encouragement you provide is truly cherished. I read some really great advice on the Wheeler's blog (over there ~>) once that was given to them during a time of heartache in their own adoption journey. I think it's great advice for times of trial and for times of rejoicing. They were told to:

"surround [yourself] with a team of people that believe that God is big enough to do this."

Despite our worries and our concerns about how everything will fall into place, we DO believe that God is big enough to do this for us. Thank YOU for being part of our team.

We love you.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Tough to Type With Hands A-shakin'

I am beyond thrilled right now. I can hardly see, I can hardly breathe, I can hardly stand the fact that my husband is clear across the country on business today! I just got an email from our agency saying that it’s officialWE’VE BEEN APPROVED!!!!!!

The email said they would be mailing our approval packet today or tomorrow so I quickly sent back an email (thanking them profusely, of course, and) asking that they mail the approval packet to our post office box due to our current mail difficulties. Then I set to work at trying to get a hold of Bill. I’m pretty sure that after receiving a voicemail saying “call me right away” and a text message saying “big news – call me asap” he knew full well what information he’d be getting when he called, but he called right away just the same. Poor honey, he’s in Northern California right now with all the snow and coldness and has to go outside to get cell service. Still, I’m sure that the fantastic news I had for him today was enough to at least warm his heart as he froze his South Florida tushy off in the snow.

I’m sure I will have a million things to say about this in a little while but right now I’m just going to sit back and bask in the pure joy of this moment. Oh how I wish Bill were here to share it with me. But before I go, I owe a prayer of thanks for this! God is so good! I'm thinking Psalm 138, which begins "I will give You thanks with all my heart; I will sing praises to You before the gods..."

I Think I've Had My Feelings Hurt...

I spoke with a lady from Ecuador today who really got me thinking. I think she hurt my feelings but I’m not sure. We aren’t really friends, more like acquaintances, but all-in-all I think she’s a nice lady. She and I like to chat about current events and what’s going on in the world and our lives whenever our paths cross. Today I was happily telling her and her husband about our adoption hopes and I was completely taken aback by her response.

She asked if we were pursuing a “sponsorship” or if we actually planned to bring the children here to live with us. When I told her that the children would become a permanent part of our family and would live with us she immediately turned cold. She asked if we are fluent in Spanish and I responded honestly that, no, we are not. Yet. I went on to explain that we have every intention of learning to speak Spanish and we are blessed to have friends and family members who are native Spanish speakers to help us. That didn’t matter to her. She first told me she didn’t believe we should be allowed to adopt if we can’t speak Spanish. She went on to say that it’s just not fair to the children to force them to live in another country with a family they don’t know who speak a language they don’t understand, “even if they are orphans.” At least, she said, if they live in an orphanage they are surrounded by lots of other children that they can communicate with. Ouch. That stung.

Her husband tried to say that kids are resilient and the pros outweigh any possible cons, but she was steadfast. The way she looked at me as she said “I guess you guys just don’t see what I see,” made me feel about “this big”, but just for a second. I walked away from the conversation, half in shock, thinking that this was totally different from any response I have ever had to this adoption. Before today I thought we’d totally run the gamut of all possibilities: from “how wonderful!” to “why would you?”; but now this adds a whole new dimension, “How could you?” …

As I relay the story to you here, the sting of her words is starting to fade. While I really would like to consider her position, she’s right: I just can’t see what she sees. The longer I think about it and the more we pray about this adoption, I just can’t believe anywhere in my heart that this adoption could be wrong for any of us. I truly believe that the lives of each one of us – Bill, Kyle, Katie, the children God has already planned for us, and me – will be forever changed by this adoption, but for the better. Yes, of course, there will be trials and there will be adjustments. There will be difficulties and grieving. There will be bumps and bruised feelings along the way. But I pray that in the end, when all’s said and done, it will be the blessings and the LOVE that resonates from our story. I truly am sorry that not everyone is as happy about our decisions and plans as we are. I’m sorry for the inescapable losses that must exist in order for this adoption to happen. But I will never be sorry for the love that we already feel for our children we haven’t even met yet. And I will never be sorry for wanting to bring them home.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Patience IS a virtue, you know...

Oh how I wish I had something to say. A bit of good news, a big fat HOORAY to share with you all at the end of the day. (And I guess I'll stop there or run the risk of this post ending up sounding a bit Dr. Seuss-y.) Truth is, I don't really have anything to report. Not yet anyway. As of today we still haven't received a response to our application, nor has the application fee check cleared. I am guessing it really will be next week before we hear anything at all.

But, to be fair, at this stage it would likely require a smoke signal or a singing telegram from the agency for me to have received anything - unless, of course, they were to call or send an email when the official decision has been made, which would be really great - since our mail situation is still in an uproar. I mentioned before that there seems to be a problem with our mail. We have a post office box which is receiving mail but I have not received ANYTHING at the house address in at least a week (hello? not even junk mail?!?!) and it seems like maybe the forwarding order that we used to route everything to the post office box back when we thought the house had sold and we'd actually be moving may be expired or something, since the mail doesn't come with that little yellow sticker on it anymore... I really have no idea. I have completed a form with the postal service to CANCEL the forwarding order that sends everything to the post office box and resume delivery at the house of anything addressed to our physical address. Hopefully that fixes the problem. But in the meantime I'm just frustrated and concerned. I am not concerned about the application itself, really. In terms of approval or denial, I mean. I am comfortable with leaving that to God and trusting He has it all figured out for me. What concerns me is what would happen if the post office returned our mail to the agency? That can't look good! Even though it's a (relatively) simple explanation if it were to happen, I would prefer it not happen at all. Will you pray with us that the Post Office doesn't return anything to the agency that has been mailed to us regarding the adoption? I'd really appreciate it.

Other than that it's been a relatively quiet week. Monday night I had a wonderful experience chatting with a group of mamis in various stages of their own adoptions in a prayer/chat group. I stayed up wa-a-a-a-y later than my usual 10:00p.m. knockout time and enjoyed every minute of it. I have been thoroughly amazed by the people I have come across so far as a direct result of our adoption dream. Everyone I have "met" has been so encouraging, so supportive and so welcoming. How lucky I am! My "Blogs I Love" list has grown a bit since I last mentioned it. Check it out, there's some great families listed over there.

I have compiled quite a list of quotes and scriptures from all the blogs I have read and from my own daily reading as well. I'm trying to decide whether I want to just list them all somewhere on the blog here for you to read as you wish, or if I should actually do a post with them in it... anyone have any opinions here? Just thought I'd throw that out there to see if anyone has a suggestion for me. In the meantime, it's getting really close to my 10pm knockout time; time to wrap it up for the night. Thanks for checking in on us. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

NOTE TO SELF: Go back and re-read Philippians 4:6-7

Ok, after this week's worry-fest, a new blog-friend suggested that we go ahead and contact the agency to check up on the application now instead of waiting two more potentially panic-stricken weeks – you know, to ease the nerves a bit. It sounded liked good advice so today I made the call. Well, actually, Bill made the call; I was too much of a scaredy cat to do it. But at least I can admit that, right? Point is, the call was made today.

So anyway, Bill called and spoke to the local office of the agency and it turns out that “the news” is really that there is very little news yet. The local office confirms that it has, in fact, received the application (let’s just not forget to toss in a Hallelujah right there! That was worry #1…) and has apparently found nothing glaringly wrong with the application right off the bat (Thanks are owed here too, for worry #2…). We’re told the application has been sent to the main office for final approval; however, due to holidays, it just went out this week and they take a week or two to do their thing so, technically, my nearly hysterical thoughts of not hearing anything at all before the end of the month may have been pretty accurate. HOWEVER, now that I know this much about the status of our application, I am not going to take the lack of information or response as foreboding a denial. I hope.

So, basically we are back to “Day 1” with an expectation of a two week wait. Whew. I can handle that. At least I know the application isn’t stuck somewhere in some Dead Letter Mail pile, waiting to show up sometime in 2047 as a headline on the local news “South Florida Couple’s Adoption Application Reaches Agency Just in Time for Their Grandchild’s High School Graduation”. (Yes, I am still being a little bit hyperbolic here, thanks for noticing, but bear with me, I think I'm getting over it.) Boy oh boy, you guys are going to have fun dealing with me aren’t you? This is just the application! Imagine when, God willing, we get the approval and are actually in the mix and chaos of all of the preparations that need to be done (not to mention all the waiting that goes along with each and every step along the way!)

Anyway, as my title today suggests, everyone needs a little reminder from time to time. I am incredibly thankful for the good advice of a new blog-friend who saved me (and you, I would venture to guess) from two more weeks of stressful rantings. I am thankful that all seems to be going well to this point. And I am taking this opportunity to remind myself to take a deep breath and re-read Philippians 4:6-7, which reads:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Thanks for checking in on us. Still hoping to have good news to report in the very near future.

Monday, January 14, 2008

What is - “the niggling little thing in the back of my mind ALL THE TIME”, Alex?

Don’t you love Jeopardy? I do. Well, I did for a good many years. Now that I can’t seem to get the Jeopardy theme song out of my head while waiting for a response from the agency on our application, I very well may be boycotting the show for the rest of my time here on earth. We’ll see.

I have to assume that once I know we are approved to proceed I will be able to relax and embrace the process knowing that it will be a very, very long process, indeed. It’s the not even knowing that we are going to be able to go forward that is hard. (Then again, I could be deluding myself, who knows? All of you who have been through this already are chuckling to yourselves about now, I’m sure…) But I’m going with “Once we’re approved, I’ll be able to relax and embrace the process – with one very specific lesson learned.” This last ten days has been full of a gazillion questions, many of which could have been remedied by a wee bit of patience. Yep, that’s right, just a modicum of restraint (and an application mailed with one of the various delivery tracking methods that exist in the postal economy today) and a majority of this anxiety could have been averted, but let’s not point fingers of blame. Especially since they’d be pointed directly at yours truly!

The fact of the matter is, since we opted for an impromptu bedtime field trip – which, by the way, really was worth it and I really and truly don’t regret it; fun is what makes memories, you know – instead of waiting for the post office to actually open to allow for tracked mailing, I am now left to wonder if the application has even reached its destination. Surely it did, right? I mean, it’s just Orlando, I could’ve biked it there by now! But I have no way to confirm, apart from actually calling the agency to confirm and trying to hide the desperation in my voice...I hope I can avoid that until the two weeks has long since passed.

I really think that I could have withstood the meager two week waiting period if I at least knew the application had reached its destination. As it stands, I’ve been checking my bank account daily hoping that the application fee check will have cleared so I will at least have confirmation that it’s there, where it’s supposed to be. (It hasn’t cleared yet, by the way.) If I at least knew it is there, I most likely would have been able to avoid this little freak out until the two week period had elapsed. But maybe not because, you know me, once my mind gets going sometimes it’s hard to stop it. In my Jeopardy-themed thoughts I have realized that we used our physical address on our application, not our Post Office box. Which means that anything mailed to our house gets caught up in the USPS vortex that requires all of our mail to be delayed by approximately one week to ten days before being plopped into our box; which means I could theoretically be waiting an additional ten days to receive any kind of response; which means I could actually not hear anything before January 31st; which means that I probably would have wigged out about this wait anyway and could be thinking in questions set to extraordinarily annoying game show music for another two plus weeks; which means that I could be rambling on this blog driving you guys crazy until then! Please be patient with me as I try to be patient over here.

Time for an old favorite, folks: God grant me the serenity to accept the things that I cannot change, the courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.


Still nothing to report, but I guess that doesn't mean I have nothing to say...I think I warned you that I talk a lot right? Well, if I didn't - I talk a lot. Always have - start with Mrs. Felix in Kindergarten (of course I'm not sure she's still teaching 27 years later...) and go all the way through and all my teachers will tell you so. But, you can be sure I'll keep you posted.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Pennies from Heaven

I was walking in to work today when I almost stepped over a surprisingly bright and shiny penny smiling up at me from the garage floor. I smiled back at it as I reached down and picked it up, quickly checked the date and slid it in my pocket whispering thank you just as I hit the top of the stairs that would take me down to start my day.

I love finding pennies, I always have. I mean, who doesn’t love finding a quarter or a dollar or – dare to dream – a haggard twenty stuck in the front bushes after a wind storm? Of course I do, but I really love finding pennies. Is that weird? Yeah, maybe, and I probably can’t explain it well enough to make it sound reasonable since I can’t even remember when or how or why I came to so enjoy finding pennies in the first place. Somewhere along the childhood timelines of alternately checking payphone coin returns for quarters and playing with massive collections of pennies at the lake cottage or a friend’s house for “penny poker,” while all the rest of the world was tiring of their inadequacy and calling for their banishment all together, I was developing a fondness for the simplicity of pennies. In time I became the kid who’d argue “it does NOT have to be heads up to pick it up!” when my friends would claim the luck of finding a penny is canceled when it’s found tails up. Besides, I’d think, it’s not luck anyway; it’s a wish – a wish from heaven to me...

Where the idea of pennies being heaven’s messaging system came from, I really have no idea. Whoever mentioned the idea that pennies on the ground equate to well wishes of loved ones from heaven to the person who finds it – probably in passing while picking up a penny of their own – couldn’t have realized that it would stick so firmly in my head. Who knew? But whoever it was who planted such a seed in my subconscious is the one I can thank for giving me the pleasantly obsessive habit of never passing a penny on the street without picking it up – or, sometimes, offering it to my children instead. I’ve been known to ignore nickels, dimes and even quarters while going about my business, but not pennies. When you think of pennies as wishes of love, instead of one measly cent, who would pass it up? Not me.

The “date check” part of the habit came later, and I remember exactly where I was when I learned that little trick. During the first night of a class at church a few years ago, as a “getting to know you” exercise, the Deacon handed everyone a penny. One by one, he asked each of us to stand, give a brief bio, and tell us something memorable that happened in our lives during the year stamped on our penny. The stories were great (and some were completely made up, like when the 20-something sitting next me created a fantastic story about what happened in his life in 1968…); my penny was from 1997, the year Kyle was born – easy! Now when I find a penny, I always check the date for something to be thankful for from that year or as a reminder of something from that time.

Since the point of this blog is really our adoption story, you’re probably wondering where the tie is that draws this story back to adoption, right? Well that’s pretty easy. Sometimes "pennies from heaven" aren’t really pennies on the ground at all. Sometimes they’re much, much more than that. You all know we’ve mailed our application to the agency and are praying for an approval to proceed with the adoption. What you may not know is that if, God willing, we are approved we’ll need to send another document back with an approval fee to continue the process. Amazingly enough, just this week, amid all the anxiety of awaiting an approval we received an unexpected check from our mortgage company that is within $25.00 of what we expect that approval fee amount to be! That's a lot of pennies! You can imagine our surprise. A new “blog-friend” of mine passed on a quote she was told by a friend at church early in her own adoption process – “if it's God's will, he'll foot the bill” – and reminded me that God knows our needs even before we do. She’s absolutely right. We’re still praying for an approval but God provided for us even before we're certain if we're approved. He is so good! And we are so thankful for his blessings! Please continue to pray with us that we are approved to continue with the adoption. I will keep you posted as soon as I hear anything.

Oh, yeah! Did you want to know the date on this morning’s penny? It was 2007 – the year we decided to move forward with our adoption but, more importantly, also the year we decided to acknowledge that, even with all our detailed planning, unless we truly let God guide our steps we’ll never get anywhere!

peace and blessings to you all!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Words of wisdom...

I received a poem in one of those forwarded emails once that summed it all up beautifully for me. Those of you who know me, know that when I receive those emails with poems or quotes or "you've gotta hear this" super secret knowledge to be imparted, I generally check them out for accuracy and then rarely find anything worth forwarding along anyway. This poem, though improperly credited in the email I received, stuck with me as a great expression of the faith that I have and the constant struggle to live my life in accordance with that faith. I contacted the actual author, Carol Wimmer, and received permission to post it here for you to read. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

WHEN I SAY, "I AM A CHRISTIAN"

When I say, "I am a Christian"
I'm not shouting, "I’ve been saved!"
I'm whispering, "I get lost!
That's why I chose this way"

When I say, "I am a Christian"
I don't speak with human pride
I'm confessing that I stumble—
Needing God to be my guide

When I say, "I am a Christian"
I'm not trying to be strong
I'm professing that I'm weak
And pray for strength to carry on

When I say, "I am a Christian"
I'm not bragging of success
I'm admitting that I've failed
And cannot ever pay the debt

When I say, "I am a Christian"
I don't think I know it all
I submit to my confusion
Asking humbly to be taught

When I say, "I am a Christian"
I'm not claiming to be perfect
My flaws are all too visible
But God believes I'm worth it

When I say, "I am a Christian"
I still feel the sting of pain
I have my share of heartache,
Which is why I seek His name

When I say, "I am a Christian"
I do not wish to judge
I have no authority...
I only know I'm loved

Used by Permission
Copyright 1988 Carol Wimmer

What to say? What to say?

There is a lot of "down time" in the adoption world. Some of you have experienced it firsthand and some of you are just joining us on our own first steps on the long path to adoption. I am so excited that I have had several people ask about what's going on with the application - that means to me that people are interested in what's happening and how we're progressing. (And it means that I'm not the only one reading this blog too. Although, even if I were the only one, I would still do it anyway because I want to remember...) But I really really appreciate that you guys are following along with us too.

As for the application, the agency says to allow two weeks for a response. Since I mailed the application via regular mail, I can't track it (stupid!! I won't be doing that again.) so I don't even really know if it has reached the agency office in Orlando yet. I will start to count my two weeks from Monday and won't get terribly worried until 1/21/08. Rest assured if I get a response any sooner I will be CERTAIN to post quickly, good or bad. We are really praying for an approval, and a prompt one at that! I hope that isn't too much to ask...

I've been really reflective these last few days and, while there are a few different things that have been on my mind, I'm just going to kind of ramble here for a bit about some of it. I'm not sure if this post will have much flow or structure so consider yourself forewarned!

I can't help but clearly notice how with this adoption process we have truly let our faith guide us step by step from the very first idea all the way through to where we are. Normally I tend to be a bit of a control freak and this time I have willingly and willfully given control of this entire process to God. This is a huge undertaking and something that we want so badly that the only way to be sure that everything will be ok is to let God handle it. That is something I have had trouble doing in the past and I am very thankful for the little reminders along the way that have helped me see that He really is handling everything. Believe me, I know we are really really really early on in the process yet and I really have no concept of what this is going to be like for us emotionally, financially, or spiritually. I'm sure I will have my moments where my faith weakens and where I give in to the worry and anxiety that is inherent in the adoption process with its waits and hoops to jump through and level after level after level of clearance and approval. I'm sure this won't be nearly as smooth and joyful a process as we would prefer. But, at the same time, I am filled with hope that things will run smoothly for us, and I am confident that this will be one of the most joyful things we will ever experience and, much like when Katie and Kyle were born, once our children are all home together with us none of the aches and pains and stomach upset will matter in the slightest.

I keep happening across verses from the Bible that point to what we are trying to do here and every time I do I smile. I try to remember to always say Thank You for the little reflections of Him in our journey. It's hard to admit sometimes that I haven't always been this faithful. I have always believed in God but I haven't always trusted Him like I am now and I don't really know why. Don't get me wrong, I still make bad choices sometimes, I still fall short. I don't always do or say or think the things that I should. But I am trying. I can't imagine how I could have ever thought that I was the one in control of my life - how arrogant! - but I guess I did. And I can't tell you exactly when I gave up on that but I do know that my faith has grown stronger and stronger over the last several years and is very much a part of who I am as a person and very much a part of my family. And no matter what happens in our lives, that is something to be very thankful for!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Signed, Sealed and soon-to-be Delivered!

Last night with hands trembling with excitement, we signed our application to the agency we have selected and sealed the envelope that will carry it to our local office for preliminary approval. So, as we had hoped, our application will soon be delivered to the Orlando office of our agency for determination of whether, on first look, we are qualified to proceed with our adoption. Such traumatic experiences as photo-printing issues and retrieving our passports from the safe deposit box in order to include the numbers on the application truly amount to small things now that the application has been completed and all the crazy thoughts (maybe I should have typed the application on a typewriter, my handwriting is kind of sloppy…will that matter?) have cleared my head. After the finishing touches were completed I sat back and looked at the manila envelope sitting on the table and giggled like a school girl. What an exciting time this is!

Then, just before bedtime with the kids (and me!) already in PJs for the night, an idea struck me. FIELD TRIP! Come on guys, let’s go! So we took a field trip to the post office to drop the application in the mail as a family. Crazy as taking a bedtime field trip in PJs on January 1st may sound to most people who live further north, this is South Florida and it was really pretty nice last night. Not even a shiver as we climbed into the van, some in shirts and shoes and some without. This morning, on the other hand, was 45 degrees! What kind of craziness is THAT??? I am really going soft after 10 years in Florida. Growing up in the Midwest 45 degrees was nothing but here it’s a serious shock to the system! But I digress…

Anyway, back to my thought process regarding the “field trip.” It was a complex decision, really, and there were probably a bunch of weird reasons to do it, not the least of which were: 1) maybe if the application’s there in the box tonight it will be among the first processed in the morning and make it to Orlando faster (hey a little wishful thinking never hurt anyone!); or 2) it would be fun to mail the application together as a family, and we can’t do that tomorrow when we scatter to work and camp; or, most likely of those listed, 3) unless I get this application out of my hands right now and into the “hands” of the postal service, I know that I will have about ZERO possibility of being able to sleep tonight, so may as well make it a memorable experience for all of us – another milestone to enjoy along the way. And, thankfully, everyone was very excited to join me on my little pursuit even though it meant turning off the movie and loading into the minivan at a bizarre hour.

On the way to the post office we each offered a little prayer that our application reach the agency quickly, that we receive a favorable decision on our application and can proceed, and that God continues to walk us through this adventure that in our hearts we know cannot fail as long as it is His will. Be certain, Kyle made sure to repeat his request for a brother but that’s to be expected, I suppose. What I always have to remind myself when I start to get discouraged is that His will cannot fail. I’ve had so many moments so far along the way that I have felt such a peace with proceeding with this adoption, and for that I am thankful, but when I start to worry my mind goes crazy. To rid ourselves of that problem, our prayers are always centered on keeping us on the path that God has for us, that our wants align with what He has for us, and that we never falter in our faith. It can't get any better than that, can it?

Hope to be back to you with GOOD NEWS really soon!