Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Impatience simply means...

Today I want to share with you a journal post that a fellow adoptive parent shared with me as she attempted succeeded to encourage me in this season of waiting.  She has written in words what I often feel in my own heart, only she has done a much better job of bringing clarity to this heart struggle.  It's not that hearing the phrase "God's timing is perfect" isn't true, it's just not always the phrase one needs to hear to address what the real heart of the matter is.  I think my dear friend makes a clear point and explains it best below.  

If you are an adopting parent yourself, may you find encouragement in this, as I did.  If you are a friend who wants to encourage an adopting parent, maybe you can find a new means of encouraging them or at least a better understanding at what they are really struggling with in the wait.  For me, I do miss our daughter.  I know that may be hard for someone who hasn't walked the path of adoption to really grasp.  How do you miss someone you have never met?   But I'm telling you her absence in our house is felt...Every.  Single.  Day.  
A journal post from an anonymous adoptive parent:
"Here's something I wrote about 2/3 through our first adoption process. I surely did not understand before being an expectant-adoptive-parent how hard the wait was. I did not understand how love grows before you actually meet your child. When watching my friend go through an adoption (before ours) I kept wondering why she was worried or not trusting in God's timing. I had no clue really about the emotions involved. I have since apologized to her! :-) So I have to keep that in mind when talking to people who don't understand ... to understand that I was the same way once. However, I had to "write this" to counter all the comments sent my way about trusting God (even from my husband!) I had to put into words that I could still trust in the Lord and be "impatient" but impatience had to be defined….

Impatience Defined
In our adoption process…
Impatience does not mean I don’t think everything will work out okay;
Impatience does not mean I am a control freak;
Impatience does not mean I do not trust in Providence;
Impatience does not mean I do not have confidence in my agency;
Impatience does not mean I don’t suppose my child is being cared for until I’m united;
Impatience does not mean I do not believe God’s timing is best.
Impatience simply means…I miss my child!"

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Babies R' Us Joys and Sorrows

We have begun working on Mercy's room this weekend.  It was time to begin cleaning our stuff out to make room for hers.  It's helping to bring a little excitment to this season of wait we are in.  It lets us feel like we are "doing" something to continue to move closer to her homecoming.

This afternoon Scott and I were kid-free so we took advantage of the time and headed to Babies R' Us to look for a car seat and crib bedding.  It was such a strange feeling to pull in the parking lot.  I had many mixed and conflicting thoughts and emotions running through my head.  I said to Scott how it seemed so strange to be heading inside to look for "our" own baby stuff.  The last time we shopped at a Babies R' Us together was 13 years ago when we were pregnant with Michaela.  Here we are thirteen years later and it felt just like that day oh so long ago.  I had a twinge of excitement to be needing these things for a little one who is joining our family.  Only the last time I had that kind of excitement I waddled into the store, and this time I walked in while watching all the other "waddling" women instead.  That's when a new thought hit, "I'm too old for this."  Seriously, everywhere I looked there was a young preggo mommy with a young dad pushing a shopping cart behind.  I began to think people were staring at us wondering what we were doing there.  I felt like I wanted to explain to every person we bumped into in each isle we shopped, "we're adopting."  Needless to say there were moments it felt awkward, like I didn't belong.

Once I got past those awkward feelings, reminding myself I did belong then I got excited.  It was fun to find a sippy cup that had cute ladybugs on it.  I also got excited over a bib that is made of a material that feels like fabric, but can be wiped off like plastic, because it was practical and in a cute girly pattern.  Then came picking out the car seat, which Scott researched for safety ratings, and bonus it was on sale, that was exciting!  Slowly all that excitement began to turn to grief as we walked past the isle of bassinets, bouncy seats, and excersaucers.  The reality of not needing any of those because our daughter will be two when we bring her home hit.  Honestly, my heart ached a little because those objects were a sudden reminder that there is part of her life, those early years, that we have missed out on.  Then we walked towards the bedding and I spotted a baby book.  It had the most adorable cover and even matched the theme that I plan to do in her room.  I got giddy with excitement to find such a perfect and beautiful cover on a baby book and grabbed it and opened it up and as I began paging through tears filled my eyes and I felt sick to my stomach as I read some of the questions to be filled in.  You know the ones like "When I first found out I was pregnant I felt ____________."  Why did it have to say "pregnant?"  Why couldn't it have said "expecting?"  Then there was the page of "firsts," the first time you ate solid food, the first time you slept through the night, the first time you rolled over, your first step, first word, first smile.  It hurt so bad, just ached in the pit of my heart to know I will never know the answer to so many of those questions.  It hurt to know that I have a book like that for each of my other three children, but this book that seemed so perfect at first glance of it's cover, was not going to work for our daughter.  I put it down and walked away with so many conflicting thoughts.  My heart aches for those answers so I can share them with Mercy, but I most likely never will.  I will be at a complete loss for words when she wants to know what her first word was.  My poor girl will have pieces missing and that's not the way it should be.

Monday, January 7, 2013

While I'm Waiting

It has been a really hard week.  I don't know how well I can portray it in words, but I'm at least going to give it a try.  I often have expectations in this adoption process that when unmet leave me very disappointed.  It's so hard to want things a certain way, and then remember you have zero control to make those things happen.  You see I have prayed often that we would travel in  March rather than May.  Asking God to "move mountains" to make that miracle happen.  I have even asked that we be in China to be with Mercy for her 2nd birthday which is the very beginning of March.  I have wrestled all week, obsessively checking our email, hoping and praying for our Letter of Acceptance (LOA) to arrive, knowing we need to receive it this week if travel at the beginning of March would be a reality.  Well this week came and went and nothing.  At one point I received an email from our caseworker with a subject line of "Great News," my heart leaped as I thought it was our LOA, only to find that is was an update of a change being made in the adoption process, a great and positive change at that.  However, I was robbed of the excitement this change was making to the process because I was to disappointed in it not being our LOA.

My emotions were up and down this weekend.  I shared with Scott how I don't want to get past this season of waiting and look back and realize I spent the entire time worrying about the future only to find none of my fears and worries to come to pass.  I shared that I am constantly reminding myself of the verse "do not worry about tomorrow for today has enough of it's own."  Last night I spent time praying.  I see how I am struggling to control things, even through my prayers, to keep things on my timeline, to keep things moving in the direction I desire and want.  Through praying I was reminded how little control, really no control at all, I have in this.  And so like so many other things in my life I began to let go.  I still went to bed with a desire to bring Mercy home soon, I still prayed the Lord would see fit to make that happen sooner rather than later and I still cried tears of grief that she is not hear to kiss goodnight.

I had a song in my head when I woke up this morning, it's one I heard earlier in the week.  The song is John Waller's "While I'm Waiting."  Part of the song is "I will worship you while I'm waiting,"  I prayed that as we head to church this morning this would be my heart's posture as I worship God this morning.  In that moment I knew I could begin worshiping God just by thanking Him now.  So I started thinking of things about this adoption I could be thankful for.  As I began thanking Him for our other three children and how we have been able to witness such a heart of compassion being cultivated in them.  How we get to see even in their own little ways how they love this little sister they have never met, how they too have a longing for her to be here, I was thankful for how this season of waiting is also teaching them.  In this culture they are being raised in today "waiting" is not something they have to excercise often.  How wonderful that they are learning at such a young age how to wait on the Lord for something so important to them.  But even more than thanking Him for this lesson on waiting I also realized a few things as I brought my other three kids into the picture.  And that is that if the Lord would answer our prayers to travel in the timeline we have placed before Him, we might possibly miss some very key events in the lives of our other children.  I hadn't made that connection before, rather blind to it really, but now it was right there in front of me.  After pondering some other things in the future of our calendar I realized that there are several reasons this spring that I would not want to be in Ch*na during certain times because of our other three kids.  So I surrendered completely.  I found myself thankful for the Lord's Sovereignty, that He is in control of this and He sees the bigger picture that my narrow vision does not see.  I am so thankful I serve a Lord who loves me the way a perfect Father should.  He hears my pleas, desires and requests, but He doesn't give me everything I want or ask for because He knows best.  I am so thankful to have a new peace in my heart this morning to help soften this season of wait.  I am so thankful for verses like "do not worry about tomorrow for today has enough of it's own."  Today I want to live for today, a day to be with my church family, to worship the Lord with them, to spend time with family and celebrate a few birthdays, and while I know I will think about Mercy often today, I am laying down my tendency to worry.

The Lord is really using a devotion that I have had for a couple years now to speak to me.  I don't know why I would be in awe of today's message, which came after all that I wrote above.  Moments like this I never see as a mere coincidence.  Here was today's devotion:

"I AM LEADING YOU, STEP BY STEP, through your life.  Hold My hand in trusting dependence, letting Me guide you through this day.  Your future looks uncertain and feels flimsy--even precarious.  That is how it should be, Secret things belong to the Lord, and future things are secret things.  When you try to figure out the future, you are grasping at things that are Mine.  This, like all forms of worry, is an act of rebellion:  doubting My promises to care for you. Whever you find yourself worrying about the future, repent and return to Me.  I will show you the next step forward, and the one after that, and the one after that.  Relax and enjoy the journey in My Presence, trusting Me to open up the way before you as you go."

Deuteronomy 29:29 "The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words in this law."

Psalm 32:8  "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you."

 John Waller "While I'm Waiting"

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Referral, The Final Hour

Thursday morning we woke up with a peace, confidence, and excitement in our hearts. When I read my morning devotion it was as follows:

"Come to Me with all your weaknesses: physical, emotional, and spiritual.  Rest in the comfort of My Presence, remembering that nothing is impossible with Me.  Pry your mind away from your problems so you can focus your attention on Me.  Recall that I am able to do immeasurably more than all you ask or imagine.  Instead of trying to direct Me to do this and that, seek to attune yourself to what I am already doing.  When anxiety attempts to wedge its way into your thoughts, remind yourself that I am your Shepherd.  The bottom line is that I am taking care of you; therefore, you needn't be afraid of anything.  Rather than trying to maintain control over your life, abandon yourself to My will.  Though this may feel frightening--even dangerous the safest place to be is My will." 

The devotion gave three verses to reflect on that morning:

Luke 1:37  "For nothing will be impossible with God.”

Psalm 23:1-4 "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures.  He leads me beside still waters.  He restores my soul.  He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,  I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (ESV)

And then there is the one that made me cry, both tears of sorrow for my doubting and unbelieving heart, and tears of joy because we knew we had found our daughter.  If you follow this blog at all then you know that I have quoted this verse over and over again during this adoption journey.  It has almost become my "life" verse for this adoption because we have lived in the truth of it so many times.  Well when this verse showed up in my morning devotion I knew it was no coincidence and all those fears were washed away because I know this verse to be true and I believe the Lord was doing it once again in our lives.  Everything we had prayed for the Lord answered in our daughter.  We were just to blind to see it until we sat in the church office and laid it all out, and our eyes were open to seeing God's mighty hand at work and our many prayers being answered all in the face of this beautiful little girl.

Ephesians 3:20-21  "Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen." (ESV)

The whole week had felt so surreal, but we were ready; ready to make that phone call and say to our caseworker "Yes, this is our daughter."  And that is exactly what we did.  We had already sent the paperwork the night before, so she set everything in motion and our Letter of Intent was sent to Ch*na.

We woke the kids up for school and for the first time the boys got to see the face of their new little sister.  Michaela had already known about her, but was now assured by us that she was "the one."  Michaela knew that in her own heart all along; she had that childlike faith that Scott and I lacked.  So she was beyond excited and couldn't believe it had taken us so long to decide.  The boys looked at her picture with beaming smiles and little "aww's."  Matthew actually sat down and read through her entire file, noting things he thought we should know about her...as if we hadn't read it 100 times ourselves.  He studied his little sister and let us know the kinds of things she likes and doesn't like.  It was endearing to see him read up on her like that.  Mason asked if he could take her picture to school to show and tell his friends.  Of course, we told him he had to wait because we needed to tell the rest of the family before we could tell friends.

We spent the day calling family and friends and telling them our exciting news.  There was so much joy throughout the day.  All that paperwork, all the day dreaming, all the wondering who God was calling us to was finally revealed through three little pictures and some words printed on a piece of paper.  We would be lying to say fear doesn't still creep it's way in, we just fear the unknowns of how our life will be forever changed when she comes home.  But what we don't fear any longer, is whether or not she is our daughter, we are sure she is.  And there is a deep longing in our hearts to see her face in person, to hold her, kiss her, to learn her personality and to begin the healing her heart will need for all that her short little life has already endured.

Referral Day 3

Wednesday morning Scott and I were both up early.  Scott had to return to the office, but wanted to spend some time praying before he left.  I laid in bed, praying and reading my Bible too.  I read my normal daily devotional for that day, and this is what it said:

"Give yourself fully to the adventure of today.  Walk boldly along the path of Life, relying on your ever-present Companion.  You have every reason to be confident, because My Presence accompanies you all the days of your life--and onward into eternity.  Do not give in to fear or worry, those robbers of abundant living.  Trust Me enough to face problems as they come, rather than trying to anticipate them.  Fix your eyes on Me, the Author and Perfecter of your faith, and many difficulties on the road ahead will vanish before you reach them.  Whenever you start to feel afraid, remember that I am holding you by your right hand.  Nothing can separate you from My Presence!" (quoted from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young)

The devotion than lead me to Isaiah 41:13 "For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” (ESV)

Which then lead me to a verse I had highlighted in my Bible and know well, Isaiah 41:10 "fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."  (ESV)

Then my eyes were drawn to another verse on the page, it wasn't highlighted, it's just where my eyes went.  Isaiah 41:17 "When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the LORD will answer them; I the God of Israel will not forsake them." (ESV)

In my prayer time and through the devotion and God's Word I knew the Lord was addressing my fears and His peace was right there with me. 

Scott came in the room to say goodbye and I asked Him what he was hearing from the Lord.  He too had an incredible quiet time and the Lord spoke to Him through verses in Matthew 7.   

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!"   

The Lord reminded Scott how we had prayed that the file we received would be the ONLY file, and that we prayed for this very child and now were doubting that the Lord would give us this good gift.  Please don't misunderstand, I'm not saying that any child is a bad gift, I am just saying that we wanted our first referral to be our child and we were no longer sure she was that child.  Scott shared with me how he felt the Lord was rebuilding his confidence that this little girl was "the one."   Scott using the word "confidence" really stood out to me because in my devotion it talked about being confident.  Again we rested in the Peace that the Lord brought to our hearts.

Scott left for work, the kids got off to school and I was left to battle the thoughts in my mind, fears of the "what if syndrome" is what I like to call them now.  Yes, as quickly as I rested in God's peace and believed He was leading us to adopt this very child, I just as quickly walked back into fear and question and doubt if this was our child.  What can I say but I'm human.  I cried periods of uncontrollable tears throughout the day.  I talked on the phone with a friend and she suggested I contact someone who had an adopted child with a similar need and she might be able to encourage me or answer some of my fears.  I called this woman who graciously spent time on the phone with me.  I could hear her little one's in the background, but she gave me her full attention and looking back I know she was God's grace to me, a voice from him rather than a voice of fear.

 Scott and I touched base on the phone and we both felt we needed to sit and seek some wise counsel for this decision because the clock was ticking and time was running out.  He contacted our Pastor who graciously offered to meet with us that evening.  My mom watched the kids and we headed to the church office.  We laid it all out, fears, the "what ifs", the things the Lord had been showing us and speaking to our hearts.  We spent a great time praying together and Scott and I walked away from that time feeling more confident again and encouraged.  What we learned through the wisdom of our Pastor and his wife was that when we listened to God's voice things seemed so positive and there was always a peace about this little girl, but when we listed to man's voice, whether it was the voice of fear, or the voice of the doctor (who we remain thankful for because it was her job to share with us every possibility), or the voice on the internet (because I spent way to much time researching things on Wed. when left to myself), those were the times that the crippling fear and confusion came in.  God was clearly showing us she was our daughter, He was giving us peace and confidence in that decision, and we kept doubting anyway.  Scott sums it up best when he says "It's like we asked God the same question over and over again, Is she the one?"  And God responded "yes, she's the one."  Every.  Single.  Time.  We were like Gideon, throwing out fleeces, getting the same answer, but still questioning.  Thankfully we serve a gracious and faithful God who didn't give up on us while we doubted.  We knew by Wednesday night that she was the one, I think we knew it all along, but now we had full confidence.  Why we didn't have that all along was only because of our own human weaknesses. 

Wednesday, we spoke with our caseworker, at MIDNIGHT, to tell her that we were emailing her our Letter Of Intent to adopt this little girl.  We also told her that while we were confident she was the one we still wanted to wait until 9am the next morning. We had both decided that we wanted to give the Lord the night to allow us to "rest" in our yes.  And that is exactly what happened. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Referral Day 2

Tuesday morning came too quickly, we got all three kids off to school.  We knew we needed more prayer for what this day was going to bring so Scott called the church office to inform our Pastors what was going on.  CHOP called around 8:30 in the morning to let us know they received the file and would be in touch again to schedule a conference call with Dr. Lockwood, the international pediatrician.  Scott put in for a half day from work and planned to work from home for the other half.  We decided not to tell the boys until we knew for sure that she was the one.  It would be too difficult for them to understand if we had to say no.

Scott read over her file some more and noticed that her caregiver at the orphanage had given her a nickname, Báixuě.  When he looked up the meaning it meant "white snow."  He didn't think much of it because it seemed fitting, after all her hair is white like snow.  But later on that morning, as he was looking out the sliding glass door in our family room and praying about whether or not this little girl was "the one," there just so happened to be big, fluffy, white snowflakes falling from the sky as well as a blanket of the white fluffy stuff all over the yard.  He felt the Lord was already beginning to confirm in his heart that she was our daughter.  We continued to talk about her, and pray about her throughout the day.  We were beginning to let our hearts go to that possibility that she was our daughter, the one we had prayed for, the one the Lord had called us to adopt.

Our CHOP appointment was set for 8:30pm.  We put the boys to bed and Michaela was at a Youth meeting.  We spent a little over an hour on the phone with Dr. Lockwood.  She was wonderful in giving us as much information as she could gather from this little girl's medical records and orphanage report.  She was wonderful in answering all of our questions and hearing our concerns.  The biggest problem that came from that phone conference was that it was her job to give us the best and worst case scenario.  And the worst case scenario brought about a crippling fear.  When we got off the phone I just wasn't sure anymore.  It felt like someone had sucker punched me right in the stomach.  I felt sick and scared.  We called our caseworker right away.  We thought we would be getting off the phone with Dr. Lockwood and calling Tiffany to say yes, but instead we were calling her to ask "what is the last possible minute we have to make this decision?"  She told us 9am on Thursday morning.  We shared some of our concerns and fears with her, and she assured us that very few parents make this decision without feeling some insecurities and uncertainties.  It is, after all, a walk of faith with so many unknowns, so many things you can't see.  Around 10pm Michaela returned home from Youth Group.  The dear friend who brought her home could tell we were distressed and she prayed with us.  Another grace along this difficult journey.

I cried a lot that night.  We truly did not know which way this was going to go.  We were scared, unsure and all we could do was pray.  We got to bed late again.  I once again wasn't sure I would be able to sleep, but thankfully sleep came, again.