post Summit

May 2, 2010 at 8:36 am | Posted in adoption process, adoption resources, secure relationships, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

We had such an amazing time at the Summit VI conference this week.

The CBN report at our house was a lot of fun and the crew was super to work with!   We managed to have a fun, family morning complete with giggles and tears and a barking dog and boiling tea and steaming muffins.   🙂  We’ll let you know when it airs.

This conference was the first official adoption event that we’ve done since we brought our sons home and I knew it would be good, but I didn’t expect to feel so very encouraged.

Most helpful to me was Dr. Karyn Purvis .   She is wise and serene and practical and encouraging…. just the package I needed to press me forward in my mothering.

Adoption is a hard journey. No one becomes and orphan through an easy, happy story.   And joining a new family is a gigantic transition both for the child and for the existing family.  So to hear the wisdom and the counsel and the soothing encouragement from the speakers and other parents has been a ‘binding up’ of the soul for me.

Also, knowing that adopting Philip and Zach isn’t the period at the end of the sentence as it relates to our family’s involvement in orphan care…. the question now is:   What next?    🙂

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what could’ve been

April 11, 2010 at 10:35 pm | Posted in adoption process, God's obvious goodness | Leave a comment

Tonight our family listened to our daughter, Kelsey, and her missions team tell us of their recent journey to Kenya.   They did their skits and told their stories and we got to see pictures from their safari.

Then came the video of their actual missions work with the children in the Nairobi slums.    aahhhhhh….. those faces!    The faces of  East Africa just jumped off that dvd and into my heart… once again.

She was in Kenya, the next-door-neighbor to Uganda, only 300+ miles from the very place where her brothers were born.

The beautiful faces from the slums of Nairobi pierced me in a weird ‘what-could’ve-been’ kind of way.   Philip and Zach were born into slums also.

If things had been different, their lives might have looked something akin to the lives of the children that Kelsey played with in the Mathare Valley last week.    Had God not called us, haunted us, pushed us, wooed us and drawn us to adoption years ago……what would’ve been?

But God sets the lonely in families.    He picks parents on one continent and children on another and, in a way that only He can do, He knits them together across time zones and governments.   He overcomes finances and hesitations and equips us with just enough faith and just enough confidence to take just the next step.   And so, the journey continues until He has brought together souls that were always meant to be family.

P & Z will never be without us and we will never be without them.

We have all been rescued from ‘what-could’ve-been’.

Adoption Day

January 31, 2010 at 10:05 pm | Posted in adoption process, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

It actually happened.

After more than a year, we finally got our paperwork together, hired a lawyer, got a court date and appeared before a judge.   And then, ten minutes later – it was done and Philip and Zach were legally ours and we were legally theirs.

Someone asked me if it felt different leaving the courthouse now that it was official.   Actually – it didn’t feel a bit different.   We drove home, like we have hundreds of times already, with our sons strapped into their car seats with a day ahead of us to play with them and love them and live with them.

The details on the papers have changed.   We can now claim them on our taxes.   They now have inheritance rights.   We can apply for their American citizenship.    And those things are big deals… in their own way.     But – in the ways of the heart and in the ways of family – this deed was done quite a long time ago.

From our little point of view, it was done when we were able to bring them to the states.   Or maybe, we could back up and call it ‘done’ when the judge in Uganda granted us guardianship.   Or maybe it was even done earlier ~ when were received our referral that these two were assigned to our family.    But ~ more important than our experience and more important than a legal process in a county in Minnesota is the reality that our destiny as a family was written before time began, when God put His purposes in motion for all of us.

Either way – if we look at it from a legal standpoint or from an eternal one – fact is, IT’S DONE!!!

What a combo day!

November 26, 2009 at 9:46 pm | Posted in adoption process, Uganda | 1 Comment

Thanksgiving Day AND Gotcha Day all in one!    It’s been a whole year, folks!    We’re blessed beyond words.

Gotcha Day!

Over the past 365 days we’ve had some amazing days (like this one) and we’ve had some really hard ones (which I didn’t actually have the energy to blog about much).   The boys have grown and have adapted to so much in the past year ~ and so have we.       We are forever re-defined as a family and have stretched and groaned and giggled our way through the past 12 months. And,  with this important anniversary date, feel like we are no longer novices at this thing.   We are now officially seasoned veterans!  <wink>

Thanksgiving dinner brought the first comments about the fact that today is the anniversary of the day we were became a family together.     Philip, especially, was interested to hear about it again and before we ate he thanked God for ‘the airplane and for America and for home and for the plane coming down here’.

Yep – we were all choked up and could each say a hearty ‘amen’ at the end of that prayer.

Later tonight, when we were finally ready for pie, we had our Gotcha Day .   A couple weeks ago, I wrote about being in a bit of a dilemma, not knowing whether to do Gotcha Day or not.   Thanks for your input, friends.   You really did help us make up our minds.

We decided to celebrate the day by looking at pictures from our return trip  from Uganda and there was lots of laughing as we told the story over again.   Haley made a great little slide show for them, which they loved.   And, finally, we gave them their first gift from Uganda.    Each boy got a stuffed animal that we purchased in Jinja – their home for a while before we all became a family.

They felt celebrated.   We felt delighted.   Such a fun time.

Reflections on almost a year (Part 2)

November 12, 2009 at 6:13 pm | Posted in adoption process, Uganda | 2 Comments

A year ago today our boys received their passports at immigration!   You can read about it here.   (And this is still one of my favorite pictures ever!)

What a day it was! The legal details were tedious and boring but what was so remarkable to me was the reaction of the people around us, in the city and in the passport office.

President Obama was newly elected in our country and there were parties in the streets of Kampala because one of the ‘sons of Africa’ had become president of the United States!  It seemed that everywhere I went with P & Z people would curiously ask me about them, often freely giving me their opinion about my purpose there.

Men laughed heartily in the passport office, speculating that one of the small tots on my lap might someday become ‘the next Obama’!   They seemed joyous to be part of the process even.   A woman stopped me in the mall to say that she’d noticed that I loved these boys and she wondered about that.  A university student asked to join me at my seat in a cafe to find out what I was doing with those two babies. When I explained that I was adopting them and we’d be leaving for the states soon, he said, “Now they will have the opportunity to become who they are capable of being.” A minister stopped me in a parking lot and directly thanked me for caring for the children of Uganda and offering them a future.

When I went to Africa, I wondered how I’d be received. Would people see me as a benefactor or as a thief?   In the end, I had nothing to be afraid of.   The Ugandan people were delightful and gracious.    The consistent thing that we heard time and again was an encouragement to raise our sons with the knowledge that they are Ugandan-Americans and to faithfully honor that heritage.

I read an article this morning that reported that 65 children were released to foreigners for adoption in ’08.    P & Z were among them.    And they left with affection and blessing from the dear mamas at the baby home and also from strangers on the street.      What a treasure and a gift my sons are…. my Ugandan born sons.

Reflections on almost a year (part 1)

November 9, 2009 at 8:10 pm | Posted in adoption process, Uncategorized | 3 Comments
Zach

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A year ago I was in Jinja, making regular day trips to the city of Kampala to plow through mounds of international paperwork.    Each excursion day, we’d rise very early to catch our taxi ride by 530 in the morning (so we’d miss the morning rush hour).   Philip and Zachary would be all dressed up and looking ‘smart’, in spite of their sleepy eyes.   Equipped with their cups of hot milk and their hard-boiled eggs we’d pile in the back seat of Abdullah’s car and bump down the road for a another day of legal adventures.

I remember those days being sweaty and long.   I remember those days being filled with the tension of the ‘what if’ it doesn’t work out with all the applications?   I also remember my two small, weary sons staring up at me with tired, vacant expressions not knowing what this strange new lady was doing and why they were along for the ride.     But they cooperated.   They trusted me.   They let me drag them all over town and then back to the orphanage each night.     I wonder what was going on in their little minds?

Philip was old enough to know that I was his mommy and soon I would take him to America.   Each day he’d ask if we were going to America.   Each day I’d say, “Soon…” and we’d get dressed up and eat eggs in the taxi and bump down the road to another official’s office.

I prayed that God would sovereignly erase any harmful memories and preserve and strengthen the good memories of their early days in Uganda.   I prayed that He would knit their hearts to us and our hearts to them.    I prayed for favor in our legal applications.

Like I’ve said before, God put this story together.   He put the details and the specific kids and the favor all in place before I ever got on a plane to head across the globe.  Once I got there, the plans simply began to unfold in front of me.   One answer laid the path for the next step and another answer put down additional bricks in the path for the next step, all the way back to the Minneapolis airport!

In the past year God has continued to work on our behalf —  This time it’s not in spectacular stories of parties and fund-raisers and miracles, but in the regular, mundane, day-to-day of raising babies.

God promises to be with us all the time in every situation.    And, by default, that means He’s mostly with me in the mundane.   And His work is unmistakable.    Philip and Zachary no longer stare vacantly and helplessly, wondering what’s happening to them.    Their eyes are eager with hope and trust each day.   They wake up happy (and loud!) each morning and chorus, ‘Good Moooooorning!’ when we walk in the nursery to get them.

Their hearts ARE knit to ours and ours to theirs.   And (even tho I forgot to ask God about it) their hearts are deeply knit to each other as well.

God has granted the rest of our kids a long-term, happy patience with their toddler siblings and have given all of them a beautiful delight and compassion in dealing with these high maintenance family members.

In every story, there’s a star.    There’s always the big actor that gets top billing.   In this story, it could be two cute little boys  or it could be an amazing orphanage staff or it could be an American family who flew across the world to do something unexpected.   But the star of this story isn’t any of these people.   The star of this story was, and continues to be, God — who orchestrated it all.  From the longing He birthed in our hearts a few years ago to the affection He created in two little boys who were once strangers – God has written the script, cast the actors, directed the story and He alone fills up all the credits at the end.

As we approach the one-year-mark around here, we are looking back with awe and looking forward with expectant hope!

Wrapping it up

June 15, 2009 at 1:05 pm | Posted in adoption process | 2 Comments

Today we (finally!) mailed away our ‘post placement packet’ to our adoption agency.    It was filled with monthly reports on the boys’ progress, Ugandan legal paperwork, medical reports and the obligatory ton of documents to be notarized.  It feels good to have that stack of paperwork complete and paving the way for the final visit to the judge!

Now…. to the courthouse to pick up that set of papers.

Things prepared beforehand

May 8, 2009 at 11:34 pm | Posted in adoption process, devotional | 2 Comments

Today someone asked me – “What made you decide to adopt?”

I really couldn’t  come up with anything to say except, “God just started working on us and then we just couldn’t shake it!”     Which is the absolute truth.

But later on, I started thinking about that.   Just when did God start working on us?

Was it the sermons on racial harmony that we’ve heard in church over the past 11 years?   Those necessary lessons helped break down barriers of racial arrogance.

Was it the friendships that helped us truly believe that children are gifts from God?   Those values were contagious and made us open to more ‘gifts’.

Was it the missions trip to Zambia that awoke and broke my heart and left the indelible mark of Africa there?

Was it the many years of being part of the global awakening for God’s glory that we’ve witnessed through Passion Conferences?   Those years brought us to a place where we were hungry to “wed worship and justice, going to the least of these and meeting their needs in Jesus’ name”.

It was all those things (and many more) that, at the time, didn’t look anything like international adoption at all.    Rather, they were the building blocks that God used to inch us towards the good works, which He had prepared beforehand, for us to walk in. (Ephesians 2:10)

There was never a lightening bolt of instruction from Him.   It was, rather, a spiritual evolution that came over time as God rearranged the landscape of our souls.

And I imagine that’s how it is with you too.   I wonder what sermon topic keeps coming up from your pastor?  I wonder what books have just happened across your path or what retreat you’ve been on?   Maybe there are words from a sage that have penetrated your heart or particular griefs or joys that are re-landscaping your soul.

Whatever those things are, you are in the right place, at the right time for God’s purposes to be accomplished.  God is making you ready for the good works He has prepared for you, that you might walk in them some day.     Amazing stuff.

And when God hand-designs something just for you, there’s joy in it.    All those years ago when I was taking notes in church or serving lunches at Passion…… who would’ve thought it would bring me here!?    I guess God would’ve thought it.

P

P

Z

Z

The quarter in review

March 3, 2009 at 11:53 am | Posted in adoption process | 3 Comments
Sit-n-spin for 2

Sit-n-spin for 2

It seems like the last three month have been somewhat of a blur and with the combination of ‘bonding efforts’ and the winter freeze, we’ve been ‘underground’ for a long time.    Maybe it’s the hope of spring or maybe we’re feeling more settled as a family, but I think it’s just about time for us to emerge from our confinement and get in the game out there!

There are struggles integrating children into an already flowing family.    But, as we review recent history, we’re amazed.  Here’s a short list of change we’ve seen:

  • The boys awoke numerous times each night, sometimes in fright, but always in a state of uncertainty.   Now they sleep like peaceful pros almost every night.
  • For the longest time, they both had blank expressions on their faces most of the day – just trying to absorb all that was happening and trying to get a grip on their  new lives.   Now, they laugh and seem relaxed all the time.  They are genuinely happy.
  • Philip was originally terrified of our dog.   Now they’re great friends.
  • Originally, Philip called us Uncle and Auntie.    Now we’re Daddy and Mommy.
  • At first, they were confused by our schedule and boundaries.   Now they love ‘room time’ (cheering when we put them in there, even!) and they eagerly await ‘yogurt time’ which comes right after that.   They are also reasonably obedient.
  • For months, Philip’s only response to any question was ‘yes’.   Now he voices an opinion and uses his words more easily.    He is a great kid and is coming out of his shell.
  • There were lots of tears at first and the boys didn’t seem to know where to be comforted.   Now, while there are still lots of tears, they run to us for comfort with an immediate and natural ease.
  • Philip no longer has a complete melt-down at the word ‘no’ and Zachary successfully uses some baby sign language to communicate when he wants something rather than screaming for it.
  • And their older siblings have folded them into the family with a deep, genuine, self-giving love that hasn’t faded as the novelty has worn off.   Rather it continues to increase and flourish.    What a gift it is to see that.    The big kids have really ‘brought their A-game’ to this love affair.   Wow.

And there are probably many more things we can point to that show signs of adjustment and attachment.    It’s been hard work.   It continues to be hard work.   But, along the way, we also have some great things to measure progress by and we’re grateful.

Watch for continued updates about the actual, legal adoption process!  Coming soon…..

One more step complete

February 25, 2009 at 4:33 pm | Posted in adoption process | 1 Comment
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A couple of days ago we loaded up the boys and headed to a McDonald’s on the north side of town.   There we met our social worker for our very last visit!  We talked about the transition we’ve all made and the boys’ health and behavior.   We rejoiced to tell her that our parasite reports all came back clean this time!  (woo hoo!!)     She asked questions about their diet and their moods and their sleeping habits and their siblings.    In the end, everything looks good.   Our three month residency requirement is almost complete and the final social worker report represents the ‘next to last’ step in our process.

Adoption takes months (sometimes years) and for us, the end is almost in sight!    Once we have this report, we can go before a judge to present all our paperwork and have this familial reality turned into a legal reality!

Then our boys will officially be ‘our boys’ and can become American citizen as well.   Quite a day to look forward to.

Below is a little snapshot video of daily life we thought you’d enjoy – listen closely for some sweet snoring!

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