Week in Review: 2013 {Week 22} – And Some Honest Thoughts from an Adoptive Mama

Oh this week. It’s Friday. May has lingered long, and this week has lasted longer, and the mother guilt weighs heavy this week. And to even speak what weighs down seems unthinkable. For it seems that with our Haiti girl I’m not supposed to get tired or frustrated or discouraged. Because things are going so well when they could have gone so wrong. And I realize that. That things are going better than I ever hoped at this point. But our girl, she’s six, acts like she’s four, and has the verbal skills of a two year old. And I’m plain worn out. And sometimes it feels like such an overwhelming gift to have her here and sometimes it feels like I’m babysitting someone else’s kid. Indefinitely. And lately, I just want to hide from it all.

Perhaps some other mama, adoptive or not, can identify. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt this emotionally isolated, this mentally alone. Probably since I last had a two year old. Add in moving and all that means for a family of seven and I’m ready for lengthy trip somewhere very far away.

And I listen over and over again to Jason Gray and his album A Way to See in the Dark and so many songs speak deeply, but this one puts words to feelings we struggle to articulate…

I’ve spent some days looking
For a length of rope
And a place to hang it
From the end of my hope
But where I thought hope had ended
I always find a little bit more

……

My heart is not lifted up
My eyes are not lifted up
But calm and quiet is my soul
Like a child with its mother is my soul

After a while in the dark
Your eyes will adjust
In the shadows you’ll find
The hand you can trust
And the still small voice
That calls like the rising sun
Come

And bring your heart
To every day
Run the risk of fearlessly loving
Without running away
You must run the risk of fearlessly loving
Without running away

Jason Gray, Without Running Away

And here I sit, quietly waiting for God to do a miracle in my heart and move me from where I am now.

But God is good and it will all be worth it and He writes redemption and He restores and He is doing something amazing here and I’m blessed to be a part of it. And I really am thankful, even in the midst of the tired and worn. Because it is a gift. But it isn’t easy. As one introspective child said this morning, “Nothing feels the same anymore.” No, sweet girl, it doesn’t. It’s hard sometimes right now, but it’s going to be so much better. Soon.

And I go back to a quote from Pastor Jim and cling to that…

When life is at its darkest – when the Giant Despair has you locked up, and the black raven won’t leave your door, and the demons whisper ‘give up hope’, don’t do it, don’t give up, look up…and say ‘God’. The greatest faith is born in the darkest hour of despair.

For His Glory ~

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Week in Review: 2013 {Weeks 20 & 21}

All’s been quiet on the internet front lately.  Life just keeps rolling along as smoothly as can be expected when you have five kids, one of them home less than two months, and you’re moving.  Seriously, though, we continue to stand amazed at how well things are going and give thanks to God for this incredibly adaptable girl and her willingness to just go along with these crazy white people she now calls family.  I do miss one of my bio girls who just hasn’t been quite the same since March 29.  I miss her laugh, her real laugh.  And her silliness.  She’s mostly to herself these days.  I try to draw her out, but only getting her alone works, and that’s not terribly feasible in a house of seven people.  Lord willing, she’ll be back to “normal” soon.  I miss her.  A lot.  But God has purpose in this too and we trust the hard work He’s doing in her life right now.

Sweet Haiti girl received her Certificate of Citizenship this weekend.  We are super excited!  Now we begin the process of re-adopting her here.  Please don’t ask me why exactly…we just hear this can be a good move for her future and it will allow us to legally change her full name and the spelling of her first name.

Everyone wrapped up all of their school in the past couple of weeks.  We had our last “official” day on the 10th, but there were loose ends to tie up.  And as I’m writing, I realize that a couple still have reading to do.  Ah, well.  Maybe we’ll really be finished in time for next year to start!

Summer schedules begin to heat up this week and will swing into full gear next week.  June is going to be a crazy month – swim lessons for three, soccer camp (two separate weeks) for one, youth group activities for one, day camp for one, packing, painting, moving, unpacking for seven…whew!  July looks much more manageable (relaxing) though – thank goodness!

I loved this post this weekend by Ann – When All the Negativity & Pessimism is Getting to You.  And this…I know this…But the last two sentences are what we all need….

 Wondering how can we spend our lives to end poverty and stop oppression and if any of them will go out into this world loving Jesus more than their own comfort and double car garages and culture’s applause and their very lives and if their mother has wholly failed them or only just mildly ruined them. Kids eat garbage from dumps. I have yelled. They still bicker.

I see all who they are not. I haven’t hugged and prayed and asked for forgiveness enough. The economy could implode next month. I should bake more peanut butter cookies. They should be kinder. Years are ridiculously short and minutes can be relentlessly long and failures can seem eternal.

I have known it, the mornings that I have struggled to get out of bed, the days when I’ve fumed about all that is wrong in them and me and the world:

When we fixate on the worst in something, we render ourselves incapable of fixing anything.

But attend to the good in something — and we act towards the best in everything.

And as we enter a busy season and as I struggle still to communicate and truly connect with our Haiti girl and as I miss my sweet girl who isn’t quite herself, I focus on the glass being right full.  Always.  Full of His goodness.  Full of His grace.  Full of His mercy. Full of His perfect will.  And we move forward, giving thanks, trusting Him, counting it all grace.




2560.  my inadequacies, weaknesses = His strength

2561.  time out with just my Ellie

2562.  better days

2563.  snow on May 3

2564.  indoor pools

2565.  the Discovery Center and her first time roller skating

2566.  my first Haitian accented “love you!” as I tuck the girls into bed

2567.  looking at houses

2568. praying through decisions

2569.  feeding ducks

2570.  extra sleep

2571.  time in the Word

2572.  an agreement reached, a new home in our future

2573.  girls who speak their hearts, even when they don’t realize it

2574.  seeing the girls in our new house – feeling like it’s home

2575.  last day of school – done!

2576.  Mother’s Day and sweet handmade gifts and $1.00 for “shockolate for Mom”

2577.  a pair of much-needed keys missing; prayers for their return

2578.  packing started

2579.  Mission mornings

2580.  feeding ducks again and Sonic Happy Hour

2581.  warm, sunny days

2582.  whole house clean and ready – my mom and girls helping make it happen

2583.  a slower day ahead

2584.  family time after a long, hard-working weeks

2585.  the quiet of a Monday morning

2586.  sun shining through windows

2587.  heroes amidst tragedy

2588.  being refined

2589.  the realtor’s sign in the yard

2590.  daily trusting we’re making the right choice

2591.  clean SUV

2592.  a littlest one who would rather help us work than watch tv

2593.  packing and unpacking – remembering things we still need

2594.  talking long at night with my favorite

2595.  Friday again

2596.  a cup always full

May your week be blessed and may you know the fullness of His love.

For His Glory ~

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Week in Review {2013: Weeks 16 & 17}

The past two weeks have been mostly good. Life rolls along as we work to wrap up another school year. It’s starting to look like a couple of the girls will get to go past our official end date this year, but I guess that’s just one of the beauties of home schooling. 🙂

Last week I bought Amania a preschool workbook at Walmart. To say she loves it would be an understatement. She asks to do school and is eager to share her knowledge, most of the time. She is especially fond of naming her colors right now. We borrowed a book from the library called The Color Dance about ten days ago. I’m pretty sure we’ve read it at least 87 times. 🙂 I will also catch her singing the alphabet song to herself. She enjoys singing along with songs on the radio, winning (usually by cheating) at board games, and generally just being silly. She really is closer to a four, maybe five, year old, not only in physical size, both in emotional maturity and academic skills. Some of that will catch up, some may not, and it’s all fine. It’s just interesting to observe. I’ve said for a long time that four is my favorite age, mostly because of the incredibly (unintentionally) funny things they say. But I had forgotten how hard it is to keep one entertained. Especially when she has no concept of playing independently like all of our other girls did. On the other hand, it is a blessing to see our other girls step up and help. Everyone is (usually) eager to play or help out, especially if it means a break from school. Grace is definitely her favorite sister right now, but the others are working to win her over, especially Chandler.   It’s funny to think about the fact that the last time we had a baby in the house (which Amania obviously isn’t a baby, but she’s definitely someone new to adjust to who needs lots of help and attention), my oldest child was 5!  No wonder I’m surprised by the amount of help my girls are this time around!  lol

Friday we had to go have some lab work done on A.  I’ve been putting it off for fear of the trauma it would be.  I was right.  Bless her heart, she sobbed and sobbed and then would barely look at me the rest of the morning.  By the time we got home from running errands and picking up big sister, though, she was all smiles.

I finished a new chore chart this week that I will hopefully post about soon.

This week I decided that all of the adoption books and blogs and other things telling me how to parent and attach and bond needed to go.  A couple of good conversations via Facebook messenger followed by re-reading this post shared by a friend a while back convinced me that while many good things can come from reading those books, the One I really need to be consulting is the One who made her and knows her heart and mine.  And just like He showed me her fear that day before her welcome home party, He will show me what she needs.  And that can be hard to remember, but it applies to all of our children.  A three step formula would be so nice.  A ten point list to live by would be superb.  But that’s not what God wants for us.  He wants a relationship and a relationship is built on continual communication and what better way to get me to communicate than to keep me on my knees in prayer?  So I picked up Sacred Parenting the other night.  We had put it away a few months ago.  It was too soon after finishing Sacred Marriage and the book seemed flat and predictable.  But this week, it has been a balm – comforting, encouraging, and pointing me back to the One who loves me perfectly.

In other news, all of the above sat on my desktop all weekend, waiting to be published and just never quite made it.  So, it’s Monday, and rather than say I’ll count God’s gifts tomorrow, we’ll combine the two and make this a Grateful Week in Review.


2552.  sunshine and birds singing

2553.  an afternoon at the zoo

2554.  character training one of the littles….and me

2555.  rainy days and feeling shut in

2556.  making summer plans

2557.  sounds of youngest two laughing early on Saturday morning

2558.  start of a new week

2559.  Haiti girl – one month home

May your week be blessed abundantly and God be glorified!

For His Glory ~

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Pushing Out Fear…

Fear, it creeps in and threatens to cover like a heavy fog.  Fear of the unknown, the uncomfortable, the uncertain.  And the only way to combat the consuming fear is to intentionally whisper the thanks.  All day long.  Every day.  To combat the clouds outside that start to overwhelm the inside, a constant listing of the tangible gifts to push away the fear of the intangible, the unseen.




2483.  an afternoon with Chef Ruth, eight meals stacked in my freezer

2484.  a Thursday to be home all day

2485. naming the enemy out loud, in prayer

2486.  peace in our home

2487.  sunny and 70*

2488.  a day to go slow and be productive

2489.  windows open, fresh air blowing in

2490.   86* in March – yes!

2491.  bare legs and sunshine

2492.  choir and art and awards ceremonies

2493.  catching up on so much with my beloved

2494.  allergies – knowing spring is coming even though snow is forecasted

2495.  long talks with my big girls, learning more about their hearts

2496.  that they still want us in their world; that window still open

2497.  choir spring concert – incredible talent and leadership; a beautiful evening of music

2498.  nearly a month’s supply of groceries bought

2499.  girls who encourage and help me put them all away

2500.  Haiti girl turning six

2501.  a Visa for our Haiti girl – what a birthday!

2502.  Maacs over for another year

2503.  art ribbons and beautiful music

2504.  third-born’s brave speech – eager to try again

2505.  time to catch up a little with a dear friend

2506.  friends taking girls to the Passion Play, us on one last date for a while

2507.  craft room cleaned out, organized; a place I’d actually want to craft something now!

2508.  a bathroom sink

2509.  husband who spends his Saturday serving his family

2510.  two more sleeps….

2511.  being covered in prayer and encouraged by so many

2512.  three hours of sleep

2513.  a venti caramel mocha

2514.  traveling with my favorite

2515.  delayed flight

2516.  arriving in the dark, her smile lighting up the compound

2517.  meeting her birth parents

2518.  her joy as she realized she was really coming home with us

2519.  Pastor Daniel’s prayer over us

2520.  an unbelievable Good Friday

2521.  watching her mix in seamlessly with her sisters

2522.  a party to welcome her home; her staying close to my side

2523.  introducing her to so many that have prayed her home

2524.  Resurrection Sunday – an empty tomb, death defeated

2525.  three quiet hours in my bedroom – much-needed rest

2526.  back to the school routine

2527.  her just fitting in so well

2528.  calling “mama” to get my attention

2529.  nodding “yes” to a hug from Matt

2530.  a week of inside hard

2531.  a loneliness that turns to God

2532.  an encouraging note that makes one strong

2533.  laughter and sunshine and being together

2534.  the gift of meals in the freezer

2535.  an overwhelming homesickness – signs of healthy emotions

2536.  prayers – countless prayers; love and support from so many

2537.  her eating food; a whole new child by Friday

2538.  all the girls laughing

2539.  kitchen dates

2540.  just talking with my mama

2541.  long talks with my girls

2542.  swimming

2543.  early morning walks

2544.  winter that just won’t end – this too a gift

2545.  sunshine

2546.  garage sales

2547.  date night – glorious date night!

2548.  happy girls

2549.  chips and salsa on a Sunday night

2550.  Jason Gray playing on repeat

2551.  time with my Jesus

For His Glory ~

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Week in Review {2013: Weeks 13, 14, and 15} and giving thanks…

For three weeks I have tried to write this post.  It has sat in various stages of completion in my drafts folder.  Here I sit again, hoping to finally click “publish”.

Her first full week at home went amazingly well but my emotions grew increasingly raw as the week progressed.  Two years of prep and planning and praying and waiting followed by two weeks of crazy cramming life in all came crashing down on Friday night as tears flowed and simply would not stop.  And Satan he whispered all week to my weaknesses and my mind spiraled in ungratefulness to God until I was nothing but a hot mess of tears.  And I messaged a friend who replied with so much grace and love and I talked long with Matt and I slept long with the windows open.

And Saturday morning I woke up to this:

Bring Me the sacrifice of thanksgiving. Take nothing for granted, not even the rising of the sun. Before Satan tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden, thankfulness was as natural as breathing. Satan’s temptation involved pointing Eve to the one thing that was forbidden her. The garden was filled with luscious, desirable fruits, but Eve focused on the one fruit she couldn’t have rather than being thankful for the many good things freely available. This negative focus darkened her mind, and she succumbed to temptation.

When you focus on what you don’t have or on situations that displease you, your mind also becomes darkened. You take for granted life, salvation, sunshine, flowers, and countless other gifts from Me. You look for what is wrong and refuse to enjoy life until that is “fixed.”

When you approach Me with thanksgiving, the Light of My Presence pours into you, transforming you through and through. Walk in the Light with Me by practicing the discipline of thanksgiving.

I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord.
—Psalm 116:17 nkjv

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman.
—Genesis 3:2–4

And Satan, he still whispers, but my heart turns to giving thanks….thanks for weakness that makes me strong in Him, thanks for hard days that make good ones shine brighter, thanks for the gift of being a mama to these five girls, thanks for husband and friends and family and so much love and support.  And thanks for hope for all that lies ahead.

And God in His great mercy and wisdom walked me through my dark places knowing that hers were coming soon.  On Tuesday of her second week home, Haiti baby became home sick for her native land.  We have no idea what triggered it, but for three days she would not eat and barely drank.  She slept and cried silently.  We looked at Haiti photos and watched the Jesus Story for Little Children in Creole.  And I held her.   A lot.  (A nearly broken toe ensured that I spent most of that week sitting.)  Two friends spoke to her in Creole, trying to comfort her and encourage her in her native tongue.  A doctor’s visit showed nothing physically wrong, but by Thursday we were looking seriously at a trip to the ER for IV fluids.  But some wise advice and the prayers of countless friends all over the country led to her deciding that popsicles were tolerable and that day she ate five.  Followed by a small amount of water and some white bread, if I remember well.  Friday dawned and a new child was before us.  Her food preferences were still more “refined” than when she first came home and would eat anything we put in front of her.  But she was happier, more talkative, more comfortable, more her.  And she’s been that way ever since.  We know more struggles will come, but we are so thankful for where we are right now.

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I’m in love with this child’s hair.

The other girls continue to adjust.  The older two seem fairly unfazed while the younger two have wrestled more.  This transition has provided many opportunities already to learn about compassion and putting others first and that it’s okay to cry.  It’s given us many new chances to talk to the girls as we try to keep the attention-giving somewhat in balance and we help them try to understand why things are different right now.

The girls are also trying to finish school.  This living, breathing, walking, giggling “toy” that has come to live with us has made school a near impossibility.  And while I have adjusted my expectations, we still have to finish the school year.  And I don’t want to be wrapping this one up just in time to start the next one.  So we plow ahead and I try to maintain some sense of structure.  School wraps up here on May 10.  I.cannot.wait.  Neither can they.

I think that’s about it here.  Have a wonderful rest of the week!

For His Glory ~

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Quiet

Haiti girl falls sad last night and the language barrier makes trouble shooting all but impossible.  She skips lunch and dinner but shows no sign of being ill.  She falls asleep on my lap late afternoon and spends the evening moping about, not interested in play or food or anything.  We pull out Haiti photobooks and turn pages on her past and remember friends and her Haitian home.  She asks to go to bed early and I pray over her as she falls asleep.

And today she continues to mourn her former home and we mourn with her.  Even the sky is cold and grey.  No food.  Very little drink.  An occasional silent tear.  And today is the first day I ask if she’s ready to go home when we are out and she shakes her head “no”, so I ask if she wants to go back to Haiti and she nods “yes”.  And my heart breaks for her.  Homesickness and sadness can be so consuming.

And this inability to really communicate has so far been the hardest part for us. No easy way to understand what she’s really feeling.  No easy way to convey what we want to say.  And if this is the hardest we get then praise the Lord, because we know that this is only temporary and the words will come.  The Lord is merciful and gracious and He is with us, but right now the silence is deafening.

For His Glory ~

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Coming Home

(The journalistic account, because I’m afraid I’m going to start forgetting the details….)

My head, it swirls, as I try to process the events of the past week.  My heart vacillates between disbelief and overwhelm and outright glory.

Monday and Tuesday were a whirlwind of getting ready to go.  Leaving behind a household of four children, a dog, a cat, and a small business is no small task, even for just a few days.  But we did it, and at 3:15 on Wednesday morning we pulled out and headed to KC to begin our journey to Haiti.  Travel went well until our last layover in Miami where a flight attendant shortage kept us grounded for an extra 2.5 hours.  Once we landed we had trouble finding our driver and holiday traffic made the relatively quick drive to the orphanage painfully long.  But reach the orphanage we did and once we pulled in and got out of the vehicle, she was beaming.

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Thursday we traveled to Petionville to get our paperwork from the attorney.  Sarah was beautiful and confident and capable.  The drive to Petionville took over two hours (again, due to holiday traffic) and would be at least an hour in normal traffic and we learned that Lovelie (the orphanage assistant) makes this trek nearly every day (and that’s after riding a taptap two hours, one way, to the orphanage from her home).  We were reminded of how difficult it is to do anything efficiently in Haiti.  Delivering or picking up files, which would take an hour, maybe two, here in the States is an all day affair there.  Everything is so difficult, so inconvenient.  It made me so grateful for the work that Lovelie and Sarah are doing on behalf of these children and the families so eager to bring them home.

After that we stopped at the market to buy some groceries.  Then we returned to the orphanage and held a party in Amania’s honor.  We hung streamers and served hot dogs, chips, and cookies.  Amania handed out lollipops and small bottles of bubbles to everyone.  It was a precious, precious time.  One I hope she never forgets.  The children were so happy for her and rejoiced along with us.

Thursday night her birth parents came to the orphanage to say goodbye.  For two years I have prayed that the Lord’s will would be done in regards to meeting her parents and getting a photo.  I have wanted this for her, for her future, for the questions that will come that I really won’t have many answers to.  But I also didn’t want it.  For reasons that probably don’t have to be explained.  But the Lord willed and there they were.  We were sitting in the guest house after the party and she was outside with her friends when Matt noticed her just staring at some people on the porch and put it all together.  They looked so young…younger than us.  And so poor and helpless.  And my heart just broke.  And as I noticed her mother’s rounded belly betraying another child on the way I wanted to scream.  I know they can’t afford to do otherwise, but oh my heart ached.  Will this child too end up at the orphanage?  We learned that she has two brothers and a sister, all older, and we learned that she wants absolutely nothing to do with her birth parents.  And as one child tried to tease and say they had come to take her home (all in Creole, so I had no clue), she turned their back to them and silent tears rolled down her face as she clung to my leg.  As I picked her up, she cried heavy on my shoulder, holding on with all she had.  And after awkward introductions and an assurance to Amania that she was still going home with us, we went in and went to bed.

Friday morning we woke bright and early.  Our Amania, she loves mornings about as much as her white mama, but Friday morning she awoke with a huge smile on her face.  We’d never seen her as happy as she was that morning (and most of the day, really).  She got dressed with enthusiasm and helped us pack our bags eagerly.  Sadness returned as she saw her birth mother sitting outside waiting to say goodbye again.  And as we circled to pray, Nicole had to force her to hold her birth mother’s hand and she stayed as close to me and as far from her as she physically could without disobeying Mama Nicole.  And Daniel, he prayed the most amazing prayer over us and tears flowed on every face that understood English.   And we drove to the airport, feeling both somber and surreal about it all.

At the airport, Amania came alive again.  Pulling me through lines, her face aglow with a giant smile.  On the airplane she was giddy with anticipation and even squealed when it took off.  She slept an hour on the first flight and was excited when we landed in Fort Lauderdale.  Our long layover was there – four hours – and she appeared to be somewhat unimpressed with her new “home”.  🙂  I pulled Google maps up on my phone and tried to explain to her that we had two more plane rides and then she would see her sisters.  That seemed to help.  We played ball in the airport and let her play on our phones.  We walked around and looked out the windows (not much of a view) and just sat and waited.  Finally that plane took off and she slept the entire three hour flight.  Dallas was a super-fast layover and we fed her on that flight trying to keep her awake.  We almost lost her, but as the plane started to descend she woke up a little.

She was tired and a bit moody when we landed in Kansas City and we were honestly concerned about how she would respond to everyone waiting for us.  Boy, did she rise to the occasion!  That child brought out a side of herself we had rarely seen.  Friendly with everyone, posing for the camera.  It was hilarious.  We went to McDonald’s for ice cream with everyone that came to the airport and she just fit right in.  She loved being the star of the show.  As soon as we loaded up to head home, she crashed in the back seat. She slept all the way home and the slept all through the night.

Saturday she got up and played hard with her sisters.  I am so thankful for the warm weekend we had so everyone could be outside.  They played “futbol”, jumped on the trampoline, blew bubbles, and more.

Then it came time to get ready for her party.  Everyone was showering and putting on nice clothes.  I gave her a quick bath and put her in a new outfit and she started to become very sad.  At first I assumed it was because she didn’t like her dress (it was very cute, but just grey – no bright colors), and I was a tad annoyed.  I figured she was tired so I had her lay down for a bit.  Matt went in to talk to her and check on her and said she had tears running down her cheeks.  I tried talking to her and even caved in a offered her different outfits.  No go.  She was cold and sad and not budging.

So I had her come sit with me while I did my hair.  And silently I prayed.  Lord, you’ve got to help me with this.  You called us, you will see us through.  I don’t know what’s wrong and she can’t tell me, but you do and you can.  Please show me how to help her. And the Holy Spirit revealed to me that she thought we were taking her somewhere to leave her again.  And my heart broke.  I bent down so we were eye to eye and told her we were going to a party and we would never ever leave her and she was safe with us and would come home with us and that we loved her.  And her entire countenance changed and she was happy and playful and content.  (Later at the party, Emily, who is fluent in Creole, asked her if she had in fact thought that we were going to take her some where and leave her and that was the case.  She reassured her, in Creole, that we would never ever do that and that she was safe and loved and home.)

And we went to her party, hosted by our families and attended by so many people.  We were blessed to have everyone there to share in our joy.  She was much more timid at the party, willing to go to those she knew, but not particularly warm to strangers, and glued to me most of the time.  I took this as a good thing.  🙂  We shared about her name and why we chose it and we sang Happy Birthday to her (although she still doesn’t believe us that she’s six) and we sang The Stand, sort of our Haiti theme song.  It was beautiful and wonderful and I’m so glad we did it and that we did it right away.

On Saturday night we took her out for our family standard – Mexican food.  It was warm enough to enjoy the patio and it was fun to introduce her to chips and salsa and quesadillas.  She has eaten like a champ ever since we got to Haiti last Wednesday night and has sampled quite the variety of foods – standard American fare (hot dogs, chips, cookies), pizza, chinese, and mexican.  She didn’t like sliced apples but enjoyed the whole one she ate today.  And I don’t see food hoarding being a big issue (something I was little concerned about), as she seems content to just eat whenever we do and has had no trouble throwing food away when she’s full.  I have not yet introduced her to whole wheat bread.  Considering how they love white bread, that may not go over well. I’m sure if I slather enough peanut butter on it, though, she’ll eat it.  😉

Sunday was church and Sunday school, followed by a long, quiet afternoon and evening.  Monday we laid low and the girls all played most of the day.  Today she has sort of bounced from sister to sister as they do their school and I have spent some time doing a few things with her too.

All in all, I couldn’t have asked for things to go any better than they are.  She sleeps amazingly well.  She does all of her own toiletting.  She is getting along remarkably well with her sisters and is completely comfortable and at home with them.  I don’t think she quite knows what to do with Matt or me.  I think her concept of adults and their role in her life is different than what we think of.  She is warming up, but it takes time each day.  She did call me “Mama” today when she wanted my attention.  The only other time she did that was last June when I got off the truck at the orphanage and she was beyond excited to see me.  She speaks a little more English every day and is becoming increasingly tolerant of the dog.  There is work to be done and a honeymoon phase that will come to an end, but I am beyond thankful for how well the past few days have gone.

Please continue to pray for our transitions and for her bonding to us, her parents.  I admit we feel like we’re flying blind here, but trusting the Lord will lead us. Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

For His Glory ~

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Our Haiti Baby Turns Six

So, my sweet Haiti girl turned six today.  And while we all celebrated with news of a Visa for her and plans to travel in a matter of days, I can’t help but wonder what she’s feeling, and I can help but think of her birth parents.

Amania

Does she understand what’s about to happen?  How her world is about to turn upside down but she is loved and accepted and safe?  Can she comprehend a family, especially a strange American one, being forever?  Does she even know that it’s her birthday and does this day make her happy or sad?

And her birth parents.  Oh, them…  My heart has hurt for them a little bit more each day as her departure comes closer and closer.  I know they made the choice and I believe they did it out of love for her, choosing life for her future.  But do they keep a calendar? Do they know what today is?  What does her mother feel when she thinks about her?  How much do they miss her laugh, her beautiful smile?  Do they have dreams for her future in the States?  Do they pray for her?

Oh, beautiful Amania Hope, we are so thankful for you and so thankful that you will soon be joining us here, in your home.  We are excited to finally have you with us, everyday.  And while this is a day and season of celebration – your birthday, your home coming, we also realize this is a time of sadness as you leave your homeland, the family that gave you life, and the family you have known and loved for as long as you can remember.  We will rejoice with you and we will mourn with you and we will respect you in this process.  This adoption thing is a beautiful mess, but it’s given by God to all of us, and so we know that it is good and it is for His glory, because He loves us.

We love you, Amania.

For His Glory ~

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A Long Awaited Adoption Update

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Y’all….my baby girl is coming home!

I’m not sure where I left off with our updates, but the short of it is we received a copy of her passport on January 28.  Our completed paperwork was submitted to USCIS for final I-600 approval on February 5 and we were told approval had been granted on March 4.  On March 5, we received notice of our Visa appointment, scheduled for March 20.  We will bring our girl home on March 29 – what a Good Friday it will be!

And are we excited?  Yes!  To have this season of waiting come to a close, to have her here, bonding and connecting and growing with us, to have her meet all her sisters and aunts and uncles and cousins and all our wonderful friends….yes, I am beyond ecstatic for this transition.

But I am also absolutely terrified.  Terrified that this could go horribly wrong as we have known some adoptions to do.  Terrified for the toll this could take on our marriage or our other girls.  Terrified of sleepless nights (I’m not a nice nighttime mama).  Terrified of how we will communicate until she learns English and how I will care for her hair (I’m not much of a hair mama either) and what kind of a history will she bring with her and what will it mean for all of us.  I’m walking through each day, my heart and mind half paralyzed.

But as I lay in bed last night, tears rolling down, God reminded me…..If He has called us, He has also equipped us.  And that truth rolls around this morning, mobilizing frozen neurons and softening hard places in my heart, freeing it all up to move again.  I’m still afraid, but walking in truth today.

So what will it look like when she comes home?  Honestly, we have absolutely no idea.  🙂  We have read books and blogs and talked to others, but we have never done this before, so we are planning loosely and trusting the Lord to lead us.  For those that are curious, here is what we know…

We will arrive in Kansas City on Friday night, March 29.  Details are available and friends and family are welcome to come welcome us home.  It will be late and we will be fresh off a looong day of travel and we have no expectations of folks being there, but this is a special time and we will welcome anyone who wants to celebrate with us.

There will be a party on Saturday, March 30.  Details are still up in the air on this and we know the wisdom of this is questionable, but have talked and prayed about it and feel this is what we want to do.  Yes, Amania will most likely be confused and overwhelmed.  She’s going to be confused and overwhelmed anyway, and when we look back with her, we want her to remember and see in pictures all the people that rejoiced with us for her home coming.  And we know there are many people who have met our Haiti girl and are eager to see her with her new family and there are countless others who have prayed with us and supported us in myriad ways through this process who want to meet her as well.  And we are proud new parents who want to celebrate the arrival of our newest daughter.  So we will gather and celebrate and rejoice.  Details are still pending but will be made available via Facebook once we have them nailed down.

There will be a time of adjustment.  And this is where we fly blind.  I am thankful to the Lord that His timing is perfect (as always).  He is bringing her home in March, as I jokingly predicted to a friend months ago.  But He is gracious enough to let it be the end of March, after all of the crazy has passed, and we can settle into  April and just. slow. down.  We have read about “cocooning” and some say to do it for one month for every year the child has lived outside your home.  That’s six months and all spring and summer and a recipe for crazy around here.  So we will take it one day or one week at a time and, again, trust the Lord to show us when we are all ready for more.  But we ask for grace and patience as we try to bond with Amania and help her fully bond with us.  We may be more protective of her and our relationship with her than we have ever been with our other girls.  She has no concept of what a forever family is, having been abandoned at an orphanage by her biological parents at age 3; her only “truth” right now is that Mommy and Daddy will leave you and any one of 60 other “big people” can care for you. We will have to teach her to trust and teach her whom she can trust and that has to start with us, her parents.  And in real world terms that means we will need to be the ones to get her food and comfort her and discipline her until her ability to trust us is more concrete.  Other than at the airport and the party, we may limit how much we allow others to hold her for a while and we will most likely limit our social interactions after those first couple of days to allow her a time to begin to understand who her family is.

We will need LOTS of prayer.  And grace and patience as we find our way through this.  As this season of waiting finally comes to a close, we know full well we are only beginning the real adventure with Amania.  We have no idea what lies ahead, what kind of story she brings with her, what she will add to our family in love, laughter, or tears.  As with all our children, the future is completely unknown, but our ignorance is more keenly felt right now.  We covet the prayers of our friends and family as we go through this time of transition.  We appreciate thoughtful questions as we go through this process, but be prepared for honest answers.

We are, of course, looking forward with great anticipation to her arrival.  We can’t wait to have her here in our home, her home, to watch her play with her sisters, make new friends, learn our language as we learn more about her.  But we also know this will be a time of major adjustments, for all of us.  And we ask for grace as we find our way through this.

It’s hard to believe that in just fifteen days we will (Lord willing) be on the other side of all of this, my dark-skinned daughter safe in my arms, our family all under one roof.  It’s glorious and mysterious (and terrifying) to think about.  But God is good and He who has called us has also equipped us and He will walk by our side each and every day and see us through.

For His Glory ~

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Doing Something Different for Easter

What if we all took back Easter and did something completely different this year?  What if we decided that Easter was about more than fancy clothes, baskets, and bunnies that lay eggs?  What if we all showed up to church on Easter morning in tee shirts supporting orphan care, a cause close to the heart of Jesus?  What if we, as one mom put it, decided to “forget the frock”?

Forget the Frock is a movement started three years ago by a mom who decided that all of that time and money she was spending on Easter “frocks” for her family could be put to better use.  She decided that instead of all the Easter finery, they would don jeans and orphan awareness tee shirts on Easter morning, bringing awareness to a worldwide crisis of children without families.

Enter Haiti Lifeline Ministries and the orphanage that our daughter will call home for a few more weeks and an island with thousands upon thousands of orphaned children and I knew we somehow needed to be a part of this.

So, in that vein, Haiti Lifeline Ministries has launched a new tee shirt design just in time for Easter.  Shirts are just $12 and shipping is available for a small fee.  Proceeds from this campaign will be used to do something new and needed within the ministry – an Adoption Fund will be opened to help place children at Lifeline in forever families.

Will you consider joining us as we do something different for Easter?  Will you join us wearing these great new tee shirts from Haiti Lifeline Ministries and help place orphans in homes?

Go here to learn more about Haiti Lifeline Ministries.

Go here to place your order and take a stand for orphans this Easter.

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For His Glory ~

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