Monday, January 31, 2011

We've been checked out.

The steps to adoption are really astonishing.  Especially when you compare them to the qualifications you need in order to get pregnant.  Oh, that's right.  There are NO qualifications to meet in order to make a little bun in the oven.

But what if you want to care for a bun that was formed in someone else's oven? We've learned that you've got qualify for what is equivalent to top level clearance at the Pentagon.

In just a month, we've each had to get: 

An FBI clearance

An ABI clearance (that's just for Alabama)

A State Police Clearance

A Set of Fingerprints for a national background check

An HIV/communicable disease test.  (No worries, we're clear). 

One Child Abuse and Neglect background check for EVERY state we've lived in since we were 18.      Uh, what?  Brian and I have been kind of all over the place the last decade.... and it wasn't with each other. That's a lot of states. 

Oh, we also need to watch ten hours of online training about international adoption.  And we'll need to be biometrically fingerprinted in a few months too.

You know, a few basic requirements.

I wonder what our foster care system would like if some of this was implemented on folks trying to biologically reproduce?

We probably should run some background checks run on this joker, too.  He WAS alive for five months before he became part of our family.  No telling what shenanigans he was up to during that time.  Does home destruction show up on background checks?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I've been wallowing in the the "What-ifs" this week.  Now, this is nothing new for me.  I'm a "what-ifs" kind of girl.   And a rule-follower.   That can be a doozy of a combination.

For example.... cooking.  I need a recipe.  And I need all of the ingredients. No substitutions.  "What if" it tastes horrible because I forgot the cilantro?  "What if using cheddar cheese instead of monterrey jack will alter the intended flavor combination?   "What if" I poison Brian because it wasn't cooked enough?

You see what he has to deal with.

I never pulled an all-nighter in school. Not once.  All work was done ahead of time.  I could leave nothing to chance. I always read my assigned reading.   "What-if" there was a fire in the dorm the night before an exam that took 12 hours to put out. How would I study?  "What if I came down with the measles at 11pm the night before a paper was due and I hadn't finished?  I had to be prepared, people.  If it was in the syllabus, I was completing it.  It was done by 10pm the night before.

I live on the edge.

Back to this week...and the "What-ifs."   This adoption journey is already been a bit of a roller-coaster.  I'll compare it to Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disney for now.    Nothing super crazy, just some small hills and quick turns.  We haven't gone upside down or dropped straight down screaming our lungs out yet.

But it's been stressful.  For Brian, the burden is providing for us as family and for the adoption.  In case you hadn't heard, adoption ain't cheap.  Like most men, he wants to be a great provider for us, and he is.  My job, on the other hand, is to be in charge of spending his provision.  Just kidding.  But really.

I feel the burden of making sure that we are using our finances wisely in this adoption.  I have been the one who has done the research for adoption.  Not because Brian didn't want to,  just because this is the stuff I love doing.  So I have researched. And researched.  And researched.   And that can be good and bad.  There are a lot of good resources out there and there are a lot of opinions from folks out there as well.  And some of those people are bitter and kind of crazy.

In my "What-if" mind, I start listening and doubting.  I have found the agency, the home-study placement agency, and researched the Congo.  All of this I have shared with Brian, but I have done most of the legwork.  So I feel the weight of the adoption decision.   "What-if" I didn't choose the best agency for us? "What-if there was something that was a better fit? "What-if I didn't research enough?"

I've stalked researched a lot of families that are in the process or finished with their adoption from the DRC as well.  It is a crazy process.   And we knew that going into it.  It's a country that is new to international adoption and it is the 2nd poorest in the world.  So when we talk about Third World countries- this is at the top of the list.

Because of those factors- it's very volatile and unstable in the adoption process.  Which is actually normal for countries just opening to international adoption.  And as I said before, we knew this going into it.  But I "what-iffed" it a lot this week.  "What if" the country shuts down adoptions before we complete ours? "What-if" another civil war breaks out?  "What-if" our child gets sick and dies before we get to bring them home?

Those are, unfortunately, real concerns.

I spoke with someone who just brought home their boy from the DRC in December.  She spent a week with him in the hospital while in country because he had malaria.  The doctors told her that he probably wouldn't make it.  He did.

The day she went to court with him, she expected to be there an hour for processing.  For NINE hours she sat with her young son, while the judge wrote everything on carbon copy paper.  All paperwork was in boxes around the room.  No technology.  This is a whole different ball-game.

I know we are taking a risk.  But the DRC grabbed our hearts and hasn't let go yet.  There are days when I can stamp out my  "what-ifs" with Truth.  And there are days when the "what-ifs" win.

Today, Truth wins.  My God is bigger and He reminded me that this morning as I was reading.

"I will have no fear of bad news; His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord." Psalm 112:7

I am choosing to trust today.  Choosing to remember the call that God has imprinted on our hearts to adopt.

We are pressing forward to the DRC until God tells us otherwise.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


As I written about before, when it comes to kids, my husband and I are clueless.  With a
capital C.  As in, haven't changed a diaper.  Ever.

Now, when it comes to teenagers, we're good.  We have both been in student ministry for over seven years.  So we can handle the angst, the drama, the texting, the overall goofiness of adolescents.  Especially since they are other people's kids.  :)

So combine our cluelessness of the general population under age 7, with our journey to internationally adopt and you have two people desperately in need of some help.  And a lot of it.

It is amazing to already be connected to women in our city who have or who are in the process of adopting internationally.  They are in various stages of adoption, from having their children home with them for years, to a family who is in China RIGHT NOW, (about to meet their two new sons in a few hours!!!), to friends who are in the same part of the paperwork process that we are.   God has already provided such a network for us.

On Friday, I had the privilege of meeting and having lunch with two amazing women, at two very different stages of the adoption journey.

Joy Portis is mom of eight, (yes, I said eight) children.  She and her husband Cole have biological and adopted children, including children with special needs AND a foster baby (who I immediately fell in love with upon meeting.) You can read their blog here.

Layla Palmer is a VERY gifted, artistic woman who has a blog called The Lettered Cottage.  Layla and her husband Kevin are about to start their adoption journey to Ethiopia.  Layla is extremely gifted in design and photography. (Seriously, check out their blog. It's ridiculously amazing.)  They, like Brian and I, have no children and will be adopting first.

I walked away so encouraged from our time together. I loved hearing Layla's heart- her honest questions about this process. She asked about things that I needed to hear.  Joy is such a down to earth woman, with no pretenses, who exudes a peace that comes from knowing what God is calling her to do.  She has eight children.  Eight small people to take care of. That's a lot. But I can tell you, from the first minute of  talking with her, that those children are LOVED.  Each of her children are special and wanted and cared for.   This is not a family that is concerned about keeping up with appearances or with the neighbors in our crazy town of Montgomery.  This is a family that is living out the Gospel and living out what scripture continually tells us to do.  They are taking care of the orphaned, the brokenhearted, and those in need.  I was so encouraged and challenged by their example.

So Brian and I have decided that we should adopt eight children from the Congo.  Go big or go home, right?   Ok....just kidding everybody.  Breathe.  We are going to stick with adding one or two little Words.  Yes, I did say two.....  we are going to be open to a sibling group.  Not a definite... just "open" to the idea.  And we have to be "open" to the idea now on our paperwork in order for it to ever be reality, if the situation happens to arise. For example,  if we are given a referral for a baby and that baby has an older sibling, we need to have already been approved for the possibility of siblings in order to adopt both of them. I was saying at the beginning of this post we are clueless.  And probably crazy.  But God has called us to this adventure, so we are all in.   He has already been SO faithful with his provision and with putting people in our lives to help us along the way.

I can't wait to see how He continues to write this story.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


I became a crier about 7 years ago.

I'm pretty sure it's because I refrained from showing emotion until my mid-20s.  Apparently I thought crying wasn't cool.  And being cool was my goal. Obviously.

Not everyone can rock a 3X denim jacket and FAUX denim skirt.
Or front teeth that a straw could comfortably fit through.

I was serious about being unemotional. It drove my family nuts.  I refused to cry during sad movies.  Mom would be sneaking peeks at me to see if I would break and I would be swallowing quickly and digging my fingernails into my hands to remain strong.  Seriously.

My mom probably prayed for years that I wasn't heartless and did, in fact, have feelings.  Which, of course, I did, I was just bottling up in order to maintain my extreme level of coolness.  Cool people didn't cry.  

Well, I got to my mid-twenties and my tear ducts got tired of holding back the years of pent-up emotion.  So I became a crier.  About lots of random things.

Like....The Biggest Loser. If they've got a story about weight gain and heartache,  I'm boo-hooing with them about emotionally eating.  Ask Brian, this is a weekly occurrence.

Military families reuniting? Forget it. I'm a basket-case. Especially surprise reunions.

One Shining Moment after the NCAA bball final four? I'm a little weepy. Slam dunks are awesome.

The book Same Kind of Different as Me?  I was sniffling, snotty-nose crying through most of it. Brian asked what the book was about and I couldn't tell him.  Only because I was trying to not burst into tears again.

It's embarrassing, really.  Brian sometimes looks at me in bewilderment wondering exactly WHY I'm crying.

So you can only imagine how I've been with this whole adoption business.  Waterworks frequently.  It doesn't take much and I'm a blubbering fool.  But it's a good cry.  Because I can't wait to meet our baby. And I am so excited for our friends who are waiting to meet their babies too.  And I'm emotional because God is doing some amazing things in the hearts of those around us about adoption as well.  I cry because I'm blessed.

So....I'm over being cool.  The fact that at one point I was going back to school to be a Librarian ended that dream years ago anyway.

Monday, January 10, 2011

It's a Winter Wonderland!!! Everywhere but here.

Two hours north got 5 inches of snow.  Two hours east got 6 inches of snow.  And we got this.

If you look carefully, you'll notice the tiny icicles hanging from the roof.  Which are currently melting. 

Our Winter Wonderland!!!!
You're probably thinking- but what about the children of Montgomery? How are they coping with this weather tragedy?  No need to worry, because they are enjoying a day off from school.  In fact, they knew about this day off since Saturday.  That's right, my northern friends, I said Saturday. Quit laughing. We take every Winter Storm warning very seriously here in the south.  Can you tell we don't get them much?

So, the kids are fine.  In fact, they are probably headed out to lunch right now with their parents- since most of the businesses were closed today too.  

Friday, January 7, 2011

This is why....

Our heart breaks for the Democratic Republic of Congo-

This is common.  And it's not reported often in the U.S.  But an extended article yesterday named the DRC, the "Rape Capital of the World." 

Here is an overview of the situation in the DRC since 2000- About Congo

So, why the Congo?  These babies are born into a country where they are already fighting for survival the minute they arrive.  If they manage to survive malnourishment; then the chances are great that they will either live on the streets, be abducted to fight in the rebel army, or abducted as a sex slave for the rebels.  For many, the future is grim.

That is why we have chosen the Congo.  Yes, we want to adopt.  BUT we also want to build into this country, not just take a child out of it.  The DRC doesn't need all of its children removed.  It needs leadership, redemption, and hope.  We would love for you to pray with us and for us as we decide how to pour back into the country. 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A word from His Word from this Word

I'm fully aware that my title is absurd. I just couldn't help it. 

I already shared these thoughts today with a few girlfriends because of the theme running through our lives through significantly different circumstances.  So I figured, some of you might be encouraged and challenged by this too. 

I read part of the Bible each day (or, lets be honest, some days), a devotional entitled Jesus Calling, and another called Streams in the Desert.  Though it doesn't happen all the time, this morning all three lined up with the same Truth: we are often asked to wait on the Lord, and He promises that he DOES and ALWAYS comes through. 

*From Streams in the Desert-  God does not open paths for us before we come to them, or provide help before help is needed.  We often expect God to open and clear many miles of road before us, but He promises to do it only step by step, only as our need arises.  

*From Jesus Calling-  God is able to do far beyond all that we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20-21).  Instead of letting difficulties draw us into worrying, try to view them as setting the scene for God's glorious intervention.   Love that!

*I am reading in Genesis now and today's section was about Abraham and Sarah. If you don't know the story- God promised them a child, and many, many descendants.  It was YEARS before he came through. God had their best interests in mind, he KNEW what their desire was, but it was on HIS timing.  They got tired of waiting, so they manipulated the situation for a son and had Abraham impregnate a servant, Hagar. Though God still kept his promise to them, their decision and impatience made for dire consequences with Ishmael, the illegitimate son.  Abraham and Sarah had to wait much longer than THEY thought for Isaac, and in fact, they pretty much thought it was ridiculous when God did come through because it didn't make sense. But God's promise to them never changed. It just didn't match up with their idea of how it should go. (The story of my life!)    

At this stage in our lives, Brian and I have been blessed with a great community of friends all over the nation.  We are walking with many of them through some really rough times.  Their circumstances stink.  In fact, they aren't fair.  It seems like God is not coming through. My guess is that either you or someone you love is in the same place. 

Even today, hours after I read this- I received an email from our agency with an updated list of wait times for paperwork/court dates AFTER we have chosen our child.  They are already longer. More paperwork= increased wait times. Immediately I became anxious.  And then I was reminded- God is able to do more than I can ask or imagine.  We know he has called us on this journey- so if (and when) it get harder and more frustrating I want to choose to wait for God's glorious intervention rather than live in anxiety and fear.  

And that is what I am praying and believing for our friends as well.  For some, life stinks right now.  Circumstances are heartbreaking.  But our God is bigger and He has not forgotten.  He WILL come through.