Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thankful for You!

Thanksgiving 2013.  You are growing in our hearts more and more each day.  Today, I am thankful for God moving in our hearts to bring us to you.  You are so special to us.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Today's Thoughts

So much has taken place in our family over the past few months.  We are in the full swing of adoption-mode.  It is unbelievable to us how not long ago we were discussing whether or not God had adoption as a plan for our family, and now we cannot even imagine having that conversation!  For us, it is certain-  how could it not be, of course that is how our family would grow!  God has made it so clear to us!  We are so thankful for his guidance.  Matthew, Ryan, & Noelle are so excited!  (Well, Noelle smiles at everything, so we will count that as excitement)   Whenever we drive anywhere in our van, Matthew and Ryan have to take turns sitting in the back- which means 2 kids in the middle bench, one in the back.  During every single car ride, the child who rides in the back seat is so sad, telling us how they need their brother or sister next to them.  It is too lonely back there!  I try to encourage the kids to use that time to pray for their brother or sister as God prepares them to come home.  Matthew questioned whether or not we were really serious about adoption, because he wondered what is taking us so long to go get his brother or sister!  ha!  Ryan says, "No brodder, no sisser here"  in a sad voice and will look over at the empty seat.  I think he is copying what Matty says, but it is still so sweet to hear.   I'm serious- this happens almost every car ride.  It's crazy!  Little one- our family is waiting for you!

So, some of the details are falling into place.  Our hearts are heavily pushing us toward China.  We have researched and prayed over many adoption programs, but in our hearts, we come back to China every time. This is where God's leading really comes into play, He is directing our paths and we are walking step by step in faith. If the doors close or He changes the path, we will know that is His leading.  All we can do is follow and see what unfolds.  Walking by faith!

A little bit about the orphan crisis in China.  We have all heard about the "one child policy" that China has imposed on families.  Recently, in some ways China is making changes and growing more lenient regarding this policy, but in some areas of China it is strictly enforced.  Another component of the orphan crisis is the social stigma with having more than one child.  In Chinese culture, sons are often preferred  since the expectation is that sons will provide financial stability for their parents in the future.  In some cases, if a family plans to have only one child, and that child is a girl, the parents may feel more uncertain about their own future.  Orphanages in China often have children that have been abandoned because of a disability or health issue, that perhaps the family did not feel equipped or willing to care for.  Abandonment can also take place because the family viewed the disability as a curse, which is a common view in Chinese culture.  Many families in China also live in poverty despite the fact that the Chinese economy is so wealthy.  For some families, that plays a role. Although every child in an orphanage in China has a different story of why their birth family chose to not parent them, these are some of the factors that may have played a part in that decision.  

I was so sad to learn that many children grow up in these orphanages.  Paperwork can have a lot to do with it!  Children need their "adoption papers" to be ready before being available for adoption.  In some orphanages, they are so understaffed or disorganized that it can be years before a child is available for adoption!  By the time they do receive their papers, many children are at an age where it is more difficult to find a family to adopt them.  These truths are heartbreaking.  No child should grow up without a family.  It is so painful to think that logistics and paperwork can play a role in keeping a child an orphan.  That happens all over the world!  Some countries are not even open to international adoption, and others are open to it but have very strict guidelines that must be followed and make it more difficult for families to adopt.  Meanwhile, it is the children that suffer.  Our hearts need to be moved to remember that these are not just numbers, they are children.  Some know nothing of the world outside of their orphanages.  I pray that God would raise up more and more families willing to step out into adoption, and I pray that leaders would help change the rules that accompany the adoption process that make it so difficult for families to adopt!  And for when the issue is poverty or illness, for more programs to help families be preserved and stay together in the first place.  Churches, this is what we need to support!  Parents should never feel that it is better to place their child in an orphanage because they don't have access to food or shelter, or a means to provide for their child.  It is so hard to become aware of these global issues and feel that you can have any impact for change.  It is so important to remember that God is in control and He is working in the midst of it all, for His glory. 

And what can we do?  I think of Andy Stanley who said during a sermon,

"Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone."

We are a few months away from starting the application process to adopt from China.  We need to wait until I am 29.5 because China cannot receive our dossier until Andrew and I are both 30.  I am actually looking forward to turning 30 for this very reason!  :)    The dossier takes about 6 months to complete, and it is a collection of paperwork that gets sent to China before we are placed in the system.  Once we are in the system, the next step is to wait for a referral of a child! 

In the meantime, our family is preparing.  Finances play a big role in international adoption, and though I am not as scared of the financial aspect as I was in the beginning, I know we need to be prudent in how we move forward.  I am not as scared of the adoption fees because I am beginning to realize that God will provide it, end. of. story.  Now day to day, my feelings may change, but I am praying to be grounded in trust.  Although adoption is expensive, one misconception about adoption fees is that the money just gets sent to the other country.  This is so not the truth!  There are many facets to the adoption process, so much legal work,  the required home study, the need for passports, travel, clearances, orphanage fees, and so much more.  But God will provide it and He has already begun to.  We are selling everything we have had in storage, and we are collecting anything that others want to donate for us to try and sell!  In the past few weeks, we have had about $300 put into our adoption fund just by cleaning out the clutter and selling things online!  What a huge blessing!  We have also experienced the generosity of others who want play a role in helping our family in this journey.  My little nephew James asked us to put whatever money we would spend on his Christmas gift into our fund to adopt.  What a heart he has!  He gets it!  I'm so proud of him!  We are also brainstorming some fundraising ideas, and one idea in particular is feeling pretty special for our child, but I'll share at a later time when the time is right. 

Well, all these thoughts must come to a close because nap time has ended in this house!     :)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Moved to Act

Today is Orphan Sunday.  I am so thankful for today- as many churches raised awareness of the orphan crisis throughout the world.  In our hearts and in our home, God is awakening our own hearts to the needs that so many children have  - for love and for a family.  We just watched the documentary Stuck.  Please, take the time to watch this documentary (available on netflix).   God has been changing our hearts and making us more aware of the needs of so many children throughout the world.  And for our child.  Knowing that an adoption is before us means that our child will endure hardship and pain that I wish I could keep from them.  I pray that God will surround them with someone who will give them love and nurture as they wait for that day that they are with us.   And I pray that they are with us soon.

God has given us this one life on earth.  His word promises us that what we do to the least of these, we are doing unto Him.  He is the driving force behind our love for the child that is alone in this world.  And as many adoptive parents have said over and over again, this is not about rescuing a child-  this is about a child joining our family.  Children are a gift from the Lord.  But there is no doubt that the situations that so many children are living in- by no fault of their own- is so broken and I just wish that each one could be snatched right out of that pain and placed into a loving home.  We cannot live indifferent to the needs of these children.

We have to be moved to act.  

In your churches and among your family and friends- I urge you, please reach out to the families that are stepping out into adoption.  You can play a huge part in encouraging these families, praying for them, helping them as they raise the needed funds, and really-  walking alongside them as they  bring their child into their family.  That is huge and it is life changing,  And it is worth every effort.

Please pray for us, and walk alongside us, as we take this leap of faith.  We have already been so blessed by the support of some very precious people to us.  We couldn't be more thankful. We are in awe of God placing support around us, and truly guiding us step by step in this journey. 

And to you, the little one that God is burning a fire in our hearts for, we are praying for you and loving you, you are treasured and valued to us.  Our family is waiting for you and we love you.