Every Nation

It’s no secret. Living in a foreign country is even harder than we imagined. We don’t speak the language and our taste buds haven’t exactly adjusted. We can’t drive ourselves anywhere. The phone service is spotty. We’re always lost 😂. There is a little girl who is VERY overwhelmed and scared relying on us for everything. We love her with our whole hearts, but we barely know her. We have a five year old who thankfully does trust and respect us, but she’s frustrated and lonely. We are COMPLETELY at the mercy of the Indian government and even if we decided tomorrow we are DONE! And we are going home.. we literally cannot without abandoning our daughter. We’re quite literally stuck. Yesterday it started to get to us again. I mean have you ever stayed in a hotel room for a month? No? I don’t recommend it lol! Today though…

Our sweet friends Heather and Tony invited us to their English speaking church. This was something I really wanted to do while fostering. We woke up to a pretty good uneventful morning. I was convinced it would be great and God would “honor us” for being obedient and going to church even with a new daughter in India. The church is about 20-30 minutes from the hotel depending on traffic. We get half way there and I realize we have NO CELL SERVICE. Nada, zip, zilc. This is my nightmare. Being lost, stuck, and not having service. I start to panic a bit as often times the Uber drivers don’t know exactly where we are going and we have to gps it. I also don’t know what the church looks like and have no way to contact Heather. We get there and I don’t see it. We are going to have to get out of this uber and I don’t see it. I start to panic a bit. Aj and I yell at each other a bit 😂. Then I see a sign, we ask the security guard and sure enough we are there. We make our way inside and our friends are not there. My anxiety starts to go up… oh man we’re not going to see them and we don’t know how to get home. Immediately a nice usher directs us to a seat and says he’ll find them. And you guys I’m almost crying. I don’t do well with lack of control. I’m so mad at God. I’m literally yelling in my head! We’re trying to honor you! We’re here for you! Why can’t you do ANYTHING the way I want it!! And then I take a deep breath and the worship music starts. I feel like I’ve been slapped in the face by the Holy Spirit saying “prove it”. And so I took a deep breath and I started praising him with all that I had. Angry, scared, literally lost, and alone.

I hear this verse in my head. I let go and let God in. I thank him and tell him a trust him. I turn to my left and my friends are being delivered by the usher that promised us he would. All is ok. The worship was INCREDIBLE. It was like every song we sang was written for our time here. I haven’t heard a lot of them before and it was like they were songs in my heart. I cried like a baby and felt such relief and renewal. Surrounded by my daughters culture. This is what I can tell them about. This is a memory I can share. In awe of hands raised and the warmth in my heart of being surrounded by believers. It felt just like home.

Today’s service was also about plugging in and serving in your church and how crucial it is to our relationship with God. How important it is to be a part of it. We serve at home. It got really hard before we left. We’re in a small church at home. We both serve at a high level. We believe in our church mission but it’s hard not to get burnt out. Today we were able to be fed in our greatest time of need. God is so merciful.

Our cups were filled and then we got to go to lunch with our sweet friends who just “get it”. They get adoption. They understood not to feed my new child who was literally calling her momma and asking for food. They get that kids are hard sometimes. It was amazing. Plus the food was good! The girls were amazing and just as we finish eating I got one bar of service. Just enough to call our uber. As soon as we got in the car my service went out again. The car ride home was full of this….

When we got to the hotel room cleaning had spent a significant amount of time making our room completely clean again. There is a play area set up for Adelyn to play on downstairs and Ansley went right down for a nap. Our spirit is renewed. So we may still be “stuck” but it doesn’t feel quit as big today.

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But God….

If you’ve been following our adoption story this time around, you’ve seen that God’s hands were ALL OVER our matching process. He asked us to #doitscared and scared we did it. There are many pieces that followed that yes. Pieces that brought us to tears. That made us stand in awe of his faithfulness. Those are the pieces I’ve yet to share publicly how big of a deal they were.

Let me start with this image. This is roughly the process we followed with Adelyn. We signed our first piece of paper the last day of February 2016. We brought Adelyn home May 12, 2017. Roughly 14 months from start to finish. With Ansley we signed the very first paper to start the very last day in September 2018. We are leaving June 13, 2019 to go appear in court. We anticipate we will be home by the end of July. That will put our process at around 10 Months start to finish. How? Only God.

Let’s start with CARA approval. Approval was taking families identical to ours around 6 months at the time we were approved. We were approved at 5 weeks. If we were approved even one week later we most likely would have missed our match with Ansley. Possibly even a day later.

The site to match families went down after we found Ansley on Reece’s Rainbow. I had the luxury of being home and alerting my coordinator the moment the site went back up to match us. Our coordinator was checking her phone constantly (at a time India is not normally updating). This isn’t common with agencies.

We had to wait on home-study and i800a update. Everything should have halted in our process until these were updated. Guess what? Nothing stopped moving on the India side.

Our originals were on their way from India. It usually takes around 4 weeks, but sometimes can drag on for months at a time. We were waiting on an email with a CWC letter at the same time. You need these documents to apply for i800, but I wasn’t really worried because we didn’t have i800a. Nothing should have been happening while we waited.

Then things started happening… crazy things….out of the BLUE when our coordinator inquired about our originals we were awarded NOC! NOC is a HUGE deal. It is the document that says the Indian government has no objection to us adopting Ansley. It meant we could try to send a family book (failed haha). It meant we could tell people with more confidence our family was growing. It was a huge win!! This was another document that had been taking families 6 months. We didn’t even apply, and we were awarded. We didn’t have all the required paperwork, they just made a clause that said the NOC was contingent on us receiving those.

So that’s enough to just stand in awe of all God did right? Well he wasn’t done.

At the point we’re STILL waiting on i800a approval. A step that should have been taken care of months ago, but we keep getting stuck.

Then out of NO WHERE we get our court petition. In Hyderabad, where Ansley lives, we have to send a court petition that is notarized to get our court date. This normally is triggered by NOC and since we had NOC the orphanage lawyer started working on it!! We never expected this.

Then it FINALLY CAME! I800a approval. We rushed and got our i800 paperwork in right away! It went ok and we got our approval back right around the time our court petition made it safely to India.

So now we just need ds260 email and article 5 to come and then we can be filed in court. Well that’s what we thought….3 days later however came the email. “You have a court date for a little over a month from now! We are going to confirm you can keep the date as long as your article 5 comes in time.” Guys we had a court date before we finished the step we needed to do before NOC! 7 days later we had Article 5 and started booking our plane tickets!

So in summary it actually went like this:

11-1-18 registered with CARA

11-8-18 mailing i800a pack

12-7-18 biometrics i800a

12-7-18 CARA approval

1-8-19 matched

1-18-19: i800a approval

1-23-19 match accepted

2-12-19 i800a supplement mailed

3-18-19 RFE received

3-12-19 NOC!

4-5-19 supplement approved

4-11-19 supplement in mail

4-10-19 court petition recieved

4-17-19 i800 mailed

5-10-19 i800 approval in the mail

5-6-19 court petition arrived India

5-13-19 informed of court date

5-15-19 ds260 numbers

5-20-19 article 5

We spent so much time upset about our i800a battle and felt defeated. But God had gone before us and fought the battles before we even knew. We sang a new song at church yesterday. “Our God is Awesome”. And boy is he, he is awe inspiring every step of this process. As my sweet friend Kelly says,”God finishes well, he always finishes what he begins in us”. I never could have imagined how he would finish this one.

His plans, not mine

I thank God for this everyday. I was reminded of this again recently. I spoke with a mom that is matched recently with a little one that is deaf, in the right age range, and at the same baby home Adelyn grew up. For just a fraction of a second I was jealous. That’s EXACTLY what we went into this adoption dreaming of adopting. Same special need as Adelyn, same background, same experience. Let me say I’m sure that little girl is AMAZING. But I am so glad Gods plans were bigger and brighter for us. I have grown in my faith this year in ways that will NEVER be taken away from me. I have had the opportunity to take on what will likely be harder, but has been the most beautiful journey. And you guys this child, this child that matched literally NOTHING in our home study… she’s just amazing, and we’re going to get her next month. I knew from the first time I saw her picture, scared out of my mind, that she was the one. If God hadn’t given me that dream, if she hadn’t moved to her current foster home, if it wasn’t for her Reece’s rainbow profile, if I didn’t have so many friends who have adopted more challenging needs the second time around, we could of missed this. Our daughter. We could have missed her. What a tragedy that would have been. But our God is bigger and he knew while she met great hardship that one day he would place her in a family that loves her more than they love themselves.

Bring your baggage with EXCITEMENT and JOY!

So I’ve read about Zacchaeus before… the story several times actually. It’s a common Sunday school lesson. A fun one to think about. Today however, I read it as never before. When I looked at the verse above I realized how BOLD this part of the story is to me. We often think, oh he climbed a tree to see Jesus because his faith was so strong. That is indeed awesome.

But here is the kicker. Zacchaeus just wanted to SEE Jesus. He had no expectation of bringing him to his home. Yet when Jesus told him to come down and he would dine at his home, Zacchaeus felt JOY and EXCITEMENT! Do you know what I think I would have felt in that moment. Oh man I gotta go clean up my house right now!! I’ve got to get anything sinful out of it and make it spotless, and then I’ll allow Jesus to enter. But that’s not what Zacchaeus did. He took him right to his home with joy and excitement.

Was Zacchaeus blameless and holy and that’s why he was fine just bringing Jesus to his house right then? Absolutely not! In the next few verses we see:

Zacchaeus literally had stolen money in his home. It was probably covered in things he had bought with stolen wealth. He didn’t hide who he was. He came to Jesus just as he was. He repented and welcomes Jesus into his home and life.

I’m not leaving out the part where Jesus shames him for his past deeds, it’s simply not there. He came to find us just as we were. He came to seek and save those that are lost. Don’t miss out on incredible blessing because you are too busy trying to clean up your shame. Jesus can help you with that. If only you’ll take him into your home.

Keep fighting the good fight….

My status update to our friends and family on March 28th: “Hey guys we really could use more prayers. I just talked to USCIS and was told because of the RFE we’re looking at another month and a half before that approval. We have three more LONG steps after that. This almost guarantees we won’t be there for court by her 5th birthday and means another month and a half of radio silence. I can’t stop crying and find any peace right now. If you’re shallow enough to doubt my faith or to say just be patient because of that then you’ve either forgotten what it’s like to have your child on another continent, or you’ve never done it. If you are thinking to yourself right now….she should just have more faith and trust God….then you should unfollow this page. This is a place to be real about the joys and hardships and I am really low today.”

I’m not gonna lie… this was one of the hardest updates and most broken I’ve ever been in the adoption process. I literally screamed and cried and screamed and cried and asked God what in the world he was doing breaking my heart all over again. I’m not going to lie, my heart is NOT mended. It’s still broken I’m not with my girl. That she is still missing life here. There are no words to truly explain what it’s like having your child on another continent.

In my quiet time I found this verse this week:

I am suffering and in pain. Rescue me, O God, by your saving power. Can I be honest? No rescuing has happened since then. Not in the form I wanted. Then, this popped into my newsfeed:

I’ll be honest, at first I rolled my eyes when I saw it. Umm God if I’m searching and working towards the things you say we should do then obviously it’s your will and you should be cutting us some breaks here.

I felt very convicted throughout the next few days in my quiet time. I’m happy to tell you that in the past, I would have just let my quiet time go for the next few days, but not this time. You see I would rationalize that God and I needed some cooling off time. I would probably pray some, maybe even worship, but I’m gonna pass on the obedience to be in your word thanks. I’ve finally discovered though that when I’m down and out that’s when I MOST need to be in his word.

I have stayed in his word… every…single…day since I’ve felt broken. God has showed me grace I would have missed, with my eyes closed tight, in lies and fears before. Right after I posted that sadness I had friends jump in and offer to help, make dinner, pray for us, offer condolences. I felt heard. People got how hard it was. I struggle with not always feeling that way. God blew me a kiss in this.

After that he allowed this: Adelyn came home in May of 2017 and was at the airport when Maggie came home in July of 2017. You can see their bodies relax more in each picture since then. They’re growing up together. So good for a weary heart tonight. They DO come home. They’re here. They’re amazing. The love I have for both of these girls is out of this world! They’re amazing. Together their whole lives in India. Came here two hours away from each other and ended up with matching hearing aids 😂😂. Special friends like family are good for the soul. #MumbaiToAlabama #soulsisters #AdelynandMaggie #YashikaandGuyatri

We were awarded a $1000 grant for Ansley’s plane tickets last week. Adelyn came through surgery with zero issues, not even nausea and throwing up.

In this time I was convicted that the “shrines and idols” I had of our new daughter in every aspect of my life needed to be reduced. I needed to quit obsessing and let God. So I went around and on everything I had plastered her picture (with the exception of the fridge and our family wall) I replaced with scriptures that give me strength. Everyday I read them and take a deep breath and pray thanksgiving to God.

Finally, this morning as I was in my quiet time God did give me some peace! I realized the dream I had about Ansley came to me on Christmas night. We weren’t matched with her until after the new year. So we will not go a SINGLE Christmas, Thanksgiving, or New Years being matched with our daughter and not having her in our arms. Holidays are hard for me since I lost my mom. Like really hard. This is the sweetest gift from God to me. I don’t have to spend the holidays apart from her anymore. I know we will be with her before then!

The moral of the story? Don’t LOSE FAITH, don’t stop your quiet time, don’t stop listening. Just when I thought I had really stumped God…. oh there was no peace to be had here…. he showed me. I know that I would have missed it if I had pulled away in my anger. Keep your eyes open. He may still be saying “not yet”, but he sure is trying to cushion the blow. Just like when Adelyn had surgery we tried to make everything comfortable and fun for her…. but it still hurt to have surgery… he is doing the same for me. Just like a loving parent will do.

We’ve been hiding a secret….

There are articles upon articles on the internet. Books upon books at the library. There are blogs, how to bond, how to cocoon, what services to get. It’s an overwhelming information world we live in today. In all the excitement we forgot to tell you waiting moms and dads a secret. Adoption changes YOU , it changes everything you think about the world and makes you a brand new brave person! 

I’m serious guys. I was talking with an adoptive mom tonight that hasn’t brought her little one home. She is pouring over files, doctors, lists upon lists, and comparing notes. It occurred to me that she’s not home yet. She doesn’t know the beautiful secret that is hiding in the “after”. 
Before you adopt you look at adoptive parents and think, “wow those are great people, I wish I could do that!”. And then someday you decide you can. Then you get to know more adoptive parents and you think they are these exceptional people. God made them extra caring, capable, brave. These are people that are just special. They’re adopting kids that are blind, have cp, have multiple needs, may never live on their own.
I’m here to bust up the secret though. They’re not special. They don’t have some special relationship on a higher ground with God. They fear the future. Medical files scare them. They cry and mourn the things their kids will miss. They question if they can handle it all.  
They do, however, say yes. In that yes a story was woven together. A story of horrible pain and trauma, and a story of redemptive power. THEY got to be the parents. In that yes when you truly accept this child born to another with needs you never dreamed of, a power is born in you. An instinct to protect. A desire to learn, advocate, be BRAVE! In your yes a whole new person begins to appear. A person who has other’s respect. A person that is knowledgeable, because your kid needed you to be. A free spirit who unschools, because your kid needed you to do that. A strict routine follower, because your kid needed you to be. Someone who learned to Braille, because your kid needed it to read. Someone who knows sign lanaguge, because your kid communicated better that way. A parent to YOUR kid.  And when you truly let that wash over you, you will be proud and astounded at the person you can be for your child. 
We spend so much time talking about trauma, grace, and redemption for our children, that we’ve forgotten to tell you this beautiful thing. You are a new person in adoption. You are brave. You are fierce. You are beautiful. You are smart. You are connected. You are LOVE. When you wait and you question, don’t ever forget that. You are their parent and you are enough. You will be uniquely and perfectly equipped for YOUR child when you get them home. Don’t ever forget that. You’ve got this, and your are more than ENOUGH. Your “yes” was a promise that will always be enough.

Then there was the ONE, beloved daughter.

If you know us personally, you know that in August we decided to start the adoption process again. I’d like to go back and share some of our previous adoption experiences another day so that they are all in one place, but today I have a purpose. Today, I want to tell you about how we went from searching to loving. How one child went from “orphan” to beloved daughter. This was our matching process to find our way to her.

The matching process in India is unique. You are not simply assigned a child, and each and every agency handles the process differently. Traditionally with our agency you would submit in your home study all special needs you feel comfortable parenting. You will also submit boy or girl, and an age range for your potential matches. While you are waiting for CARA approval (Indian Government) the individual who handles matches has a phone meeting with you to further inquire about your hopes for your family. Our first process went just like that. We went over our hopes and waited for CARA approval. We were called to go over Adelyn’s file the next day and accepted quickly. We did not have to review any more files. This time was a little more messy.

We began getting CARA approval MUCH sooner than we were expected. Like literally months were removed from our waiting. We truly believed at that point that God was going to direct us to our daughter quickly, and for some reason he needed us to find her quickly. I still haven’t heard of any other families skipping the line, so we are eternally grateful for this grace.

Once we were approved we asked our agency to pull a file for us. I had seen a literal “blurb” on facebook about her special needs and age. The blurb stated that she was 2.5 years old and deaf. This was something we have a lot of knowledge about, and our family knows a good bit of sign language. One of the things we said up front this time was that we would accept it if God told us “no” on a referral. We pursued the file the best we could, but in the end we did not feel like this was our daughter.

I’ll be honest. This was crushing to me. I cried and cried. Saying no to a child that needs a family is heart wrenching. I was also embarrassed and ashamed to think that I could turn a waiting child file down. I was scared to reach out to friends because of my shame. Finally, God prompted me to reach out and I took a lot of comfort from them. One friend, another adoptive mom, finally told me point blank that if I felt this way, then this was some else’s child. There are no adequate words to describe how much comfort that brought me. If I claimed to believe that God had orchestrated this all from the beginning, then I had to accept when he said no. So with a heavy heart we told our coordinator to un-match us.

There were no other children in the system at the time that met our checklist (India is moving slow right now) so we waited. Funny enough, I did not feel anxious during the time we had no news. Then Christmas night happened. I had a dream and sent my good friend (who was in India with me our first adoption) a message telling her how funny and random it was. I’ve copied that message below, you can see the time stamp of December 26th.

Weird, random dream right? Even weirder, we didn’t have four year olds in our home study. It only went to 3.5 years old. So fast forward to December 29th. I was taking a break from being a mom for a few minutes and enjoying a long bath. I was on facebook and clicked on a friend’s post for a waiting child. It led me to another page, to another page, to another page, and then to a Reece’s Rainbow page advocating for a four year old little girl that needed a family. I always click on the India waiting kids and say a prayer that they would find their family.

I clicked on the description and here is what I found out. This little girl was 4.5 years old. She was in a foster home that uses ASL for a range of different special needs. It was a foster home with at least one American foster parent. Then I came to where she was, Hyderabad. Welp ok God maybe you got most of the dream right, but Hyderabad had a terrible reputation when we were adopting Adelyn as being insanely long court waits. To be sure, I went into my India group and asked about the current process in Hyderabad. Immediately families started replying the court process was currently about two months there start to finish! WOAH.

So at this point I’m freaking out a little, but I’ve forgotten a very important piece, her Dad haha! So I immediately send him her Reece’s Rainbow link. I thought for sure he was going to say, she’s older than we were hoping, let’s wait for a match from the agency. The thing is though, he didn’t. He immediately started asking me more questions and was super open to her file.

The site to match families in India was down, so we had to wait and pray she was still there when it came up. This is the only part of waiting so far that has almost killed me! I’ve been very peaceful during this process, but I couldn’t handle not knowing if she was ours or not. While we waited over the weekend a double rainbow appeared outside and we all got to enjoy it. AJ and I both felt it was a sign we would match with her. If you know Adelyn’s story, we saw a double rainbow the day we matched with her.

On Tuesday, the site FINALLY came back up, in the middle of the day! Our coordinator grabbed the file for us immediately! We were over the moon! Until we realized the only medical info on the site was a medical report from when she was 1! It was a scary file and very disheartening. AJ was scared, but still confident as soon as we got more information we could move forward. I was disheartened.

I got several new books for Christmas. I had really been wanting to read Letters to the Church, but I felt a nudge that Radical was more fitting to my current situation. So I picked up the book and what do you think I found in the first chapter?

I couldn’t believe God was making this so easy for me! We were still waiting for the updated medicals though.

Then Sunday came at our church. We are praying for direction and change in our church. Our sermon this Sunday was prayer, praise, prayer, praise. I am the children’s church director at our church, so it’s pretty uncommon for me to just sit and enjoy the service with AJ. However, this week I was completely free of responsibility. I sat with AJ and about half way through we both were overwhelmed with emotion. I pulled out a picture and we looked at each other and said no matter what the new medicals said, this was our daughter. God had been very clearly speaking to us. As we both started to cry with joy, immediately after saying yes, we felt a set of arms literally wrap around us. A stranger (uncommon in a small church) said to us that the holy spirit prompted her to pray for us. She said that God was proud of us, he loved us, and he would see us through any trials and hardships. Of course we cried even more. We then showed her the picture of our daughter. She was the first person we were able to say, this is our TREASURED DAUGHTER, and she is in India. We are going to get her this year!

You guys, I can’t make this up. God grew my husband and I so much through this process. I had to be obedient in saying no, and AJ had to be obedient to trusting God without all the facts. He blessed us immensely with an amazing experience of love. We will always be able to tell our daughter of God’s faithfulness in her life, before we ever even met her, she was always meant to be with us. So guys, WE HAVE A DAUGHTER IN INDIA! She is four years old and I can’t wait for you all to meet her when this process is over!