Monday, February 23, 2015

We're doing it wrong

I guess most people follow the timeline of:  1.apply to adopt  2.home study  3.dossier  4.child referral 5. LOI (letter of intent)

We didn't do it like that.  We sent in our application, looked at the waiting child photo listing, sent a request for more info on Evie, received the info on Evie, sent in our LOI, and we're just now doing our home study and working on our dossier (i.e. paperwork, paperwork, paperwork).  We're doing it a little bit backwards, but that's okay.  It will actually speed things up for us, which we're totally fine with.  We're hoping to have her home before the end of the year, which feels like a lifetime away right now, but I know it will go by fast.  Time flies when you have kids, I think all parents can attest to that.  Especially once Summer rolls around. 

The kids are definitely ready for their little sister to be home.  We usually get passes to Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun every year.  Since adoption is, uh, not cheap, we decided to not get them this year.  When we told the kids, their initial reaction was met with groaning (of course.  Mine was too a little bit, to be honest) but when we told them it was to save money to bring Evie home, they were totally cool with it.  Seriously, their demeanors changed in an instant.  We were driving home from church yesterday, and Isaac said "Mom, I think we're missing someone."  My first instinct was, alright, where's Elijah?  Did he even get in the car?  Then Isaac says, "Oh, I know who it is.  Evangeline."  He loves her.  He talks about her more than the other kids do.  I think he's gonna have a special connection with her.  I think he already does.

So right now, we're just waiting on our first home study visit, which I am assuming will be some time this week.  We're getting our house ready for two more little feet.  I guess that baby gate we took down a few months ago will be going back up in another nine months or so...  maybe even sooner!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Depraved Indifference

I LOVE this video. There's really nothing I can add to its message...I think he pretty much says it all.  It was a major life changer for me when I watched it a couple of years ago. 
This situation isn't exclusive to Liberia.  There are children in every country of the world who need food, clothing, love, compassion, and a family to call their own.  

Matthew 25:40  "The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Friday, February 13, 2015

I Have a Family!

Just recently, it was brought to my attention that under our daughter's photo on Holt's waiting children listing it says "I have a family".  I was freaking out a little bit when I saw it because I hadn't heard anything from them.  They originally told me that no other family was looking at her file, but here was one of those "what if" situations.  I took a breath and called the lady that had sent us all the info on Evie, praying that the news would be good.  When she picked up, I told her that I had seen her updated picture, but that I hadn't heard anything about it.  I think she could sense a little bit of anxiousness in my voice, because she laughed a little bit and said, "Don't worry.  That would be your family."  Yay! 
Thankfully, I saw it on a day when they were in the office because I don't think I could have made it through a weekend not knowing!
Something else a little bit exciting happened today...we had a meeting with someone from Holt this morning and she told us that since we've been matched with a child already, the process will go much faster!  That's amazing in that we will get her sooner, but it also means that we will have to raise the money faster.  I'm not sure right now what type of fundraising we will be having, but we will for sure post it when we know!
We have so many family and friends that have offered support and help along the way.  We're so grateful for all of them!! 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Her name!

Obviously from the title of this entire blog, her name isn't a surprise or something we were planning to keep a secret.  We went back and forth with about 5-10 different names.  Gianna, Roxie, Everly, Ellis, Lucy, Stella, Piper, and Sloane were all on the list.

The name we finally settled on is --
EVANGELINE!!!  Surprise!!  ;)
I think it's so pretty and classic.  We will call her Evie for short, because one thing I decided I definitely wanted was for her name to end in the -e sound.  You know, Laney, Chloe, and now Evie.

The other thing that we loved about this name was the meaning.  Her name means "good news". I can't think of any better news than that she will be joining our family.

I can't wait for the day when we can share her picture!  She is a doll!  I just want to squeeze her and kiss her!  But more than that, I can't wait for the day when I actually can squeeze and kiss her!

We love you, Evie!  We can't wait to meet you!!

A little step...

To hold a particular child until your home study and dossier is done, we had to fill out a few forms and write a letter of intent, basically saying that we will provide her medical needs and that she will be treated just as our biological kids are.  I sent all that in and I just got an email yesterday that our Letter of Intent has been sent to China.  After the home study and dossier are done and sent in, we will get the official approval from China that she is matched with us. We're kind of in the "pre-matched and pretty for sure she's yours as long as everything goes okay" stage.  A lot of this process is going to be a hurry up and wait situation, and we were fully aware of that when we started this.  I have no patience and all, so this will for sure be a test for me.  God knows how to grow and stretch His children. 
I'm hoping we get a call from our social worker early next week.  Tomorrow, we have an appt. with the Holt director here in our city.  (We are so blessed to have a district office in the city we live in.  It makes things much easier.)  Hopefully, we can get everything turned in to her that will get us started on the home study process. 
With the way that everything has worked out so far, I feel like I've totally underestimated my God.  There are so many what-ifs in this process and so many times I think "well, what if God is just testing us and we won't actually be able to see this through?"  Every time I've thought that, something that I've been worried about has been worked out just fine. 
So we announced it last night on  I went back and forth on when to announce it, thinking that maybe I wouldn't want everyone to know so early, especially if something were to happen and it should fall through.  But all of that is nonsense.  If I am to trust God, I have to trust Him with every single step of this.  And to put it all out there allows us to have the support and prayers of our friends and family.  Yeah, there are going to be bumps in the road, but whatever happens, He will work everything out according to His purpose.  He has already promised that.

Romans 8:28  "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

The beginning of our Journey

I started this blog to journal the entire process of our adoption.  Me (Sarah) and my husband Mike have been married for 14 years.  We have 5 wonderful kids -  Laney (13), Chloe (11), Elijah (9), Isaac (7), and Jett (5).
Michael and I have always talked about adoption since even before we were married.  I guess it has always been on our minds and in our hearts for the last 14 years.  We also wanted biological children.  We've done that 5 times, and it's been amazing...knowing your child is growing inside of you, feeling the squirms and the kicks, and just watching your belly grow...there's nothing like it.
Mike has told me that when we were first married, we both came to an agreement that we wanted 6 kids.  I don't remember the conversation, but it sounds like me, so I'll go with it.  After our 5th was born, I thought, well...we're close.  Maybe that 6th just isn't in the cards for us.  But God.
He started stirring our hearts for adoption again a few years after Jett was born.   Mike and I talked about it and we both felt like it was something we wanted to do, but we agreed to wait.  He had just started taking classes to earn his degree in electrical engineering, and we were planning a move to Florida after he was done.  We decided that it would be easier for us to just wait until he was done with school, and after we had moved.  But that's the doesn't really matter what's easier for us.  What's easier for us is not what Christ has called us to.  He hasn't called us to an easy life.  He's called us to a life of sacrifice, a life of serving, and a life of taking care of those who can't care for themselves.  A life that shows people His love and His grace and mercy. 

So here we are a couple of years later...

We're finally taking the plunge.  We've been talking about it for a while and now we're here.  The story behind it is this:

My heart has always had a special place for people with special needs - Down Syndrome, to be specific. I've visited homes for people with special needs...working with them, playing games with them, sharing meals, and just loving them. The desire to adopt a child with Down Syndrome has been in my heart since then.  Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago...  Mike and I attended a concert here in KC, called Winter Jam. If you're not familiar with it, it's a concert featuring well known Christian rock bands. As it was completely sold out, and there was no assigned seating, Mike and I had to sit about 10 rows apart - I had Laney and Isaac with me and he had Chloe. During the concert, they feature the adoption organization Holt International. The speaker was sharing his life story, about the life he had lived in foster care, and how he and his wife had adopted one of their daughters through Holt. I didn't have to listen hard when I heard God tell me that it was time. It wouldn't have been any more clear had it been on the jumbo tron. I turned around in my seat to see if I could make eye contact with Mike. I couldn't see him, but was hoping that he was hearing the same thing. We got home that night/morning around 12:30am and after we got the kids to bed, Mike called me into our bedroom. I walked in and saw him standing there with tears in his eyes. His first words were "Sarah, it's time to adopt." He told me how he heard God's calling, the same as I did, and that we shouldn't wait any longer. It was time. We were adding another child to our family and we knew it was to be a child with Down Syndrome. We both knew. We both heard it and we both felt it. We prayed together that night and just asked God to lead us, to open doors for us, and for guidance as we start this journey. I woke up the next morning and checked our bank account, as I was hoping to see our tax refund in there. I saw that there was a deposit that was a few thousand less than what it should be. I started thinking that the IRS had screwed us over, until I checked and found that it was a refund from something completely different. Something we were totally not expecting. I called my good friend, who has adopted 6 times and told her the whole story. The first thing she told me was that she was getting goose bumps, the second was that the amount that had just been dumped into our bank account unexpectedly was the amount we would need for our home study. I think we got an answer.

We logged on to Holt's website and started looking through the waiting child photo listings.  There were three little girls that we had our eye on.  Something inside me kept going back to one in particular.  I can't explain it, but I just felt something drawing me to her.  We requested more information on her...she's a sweet, 2 year old girl from China, who has Down Syndrome. We received her information, went over all of it, including her medical records and her history, and have chosen to move forward with this amazing little girl. We've been told that no other family is looking at her file right now. They told me to send in a couple of different things and once I did, they would send our info to China and hold her for our family.  I'm done with that and from what I understand, we need to fill out one more form after we receive it from Holt, then they will send it to China and we will get the word that she's waiting for our family.

That's where we are right now.  I had a meeting with the KC Holt director this past Monday, Feb. 2nd, and she went over a ton of stuff with me.  Mike of course wanted to be there but he had to work, so we decided I should go to get things rolling.  There's just so much, it's so overwhelming.  There was just no way that I would have been able to remember everything and repeat it to Mike, so she told us she would meet with him at a later date.

We have so far to go.  We are just now at the beginning, and while I know that this is going to be a long, drawn out, emotional process, I know it will all be worth it in the end. The next thing on the to do list is to get started on our home study.  After (and a little during) that, we will complete our dossier, then wait for immigration.  After that, it's a waiting game.  That's going to be the hardest part of this whole process.  The waiting.

We know that whatever happens, it's God's doing.  He has been so faithful through this whole process and we don't want to take one tiny step without Him.  We want to do his will and everything according to His plan.  We want every part of this to be to His praise and His glory. 

We're coming for you, baby girl!