Sunday, March 27, 2011

Something to think about...

This past week we completed our two home visits!  Our social worker is wonderful, loves big dogs (whew), and really understands how important moving as quickly as possible is to us!  She is now writing up our home study and once it is complete, we send all of our information to DHR and wait for it to be approved.

So we still have some time before we are "home-study ready."  However, we're a lot closer than we were a few weeks ago!

On a different note...

I recently read an article on the state of orphans and the role of the church when it comes to orphan care. I think this is an article that hits on a topic that needs to be discussed in ALL of our churches.  This is not an issue for other churches to worry about.  This is a call, straight from Bible, for ALL believers and ALL churches.

Here's just a small quote from the article about the state of foster care in our country...

By their mid-20s, less than half of those who graduate from foster care are employed.  More than 80 percent of males have been arrested, compared to 17 percent overall.  And 68 percent of the women are on food stamps, compared to 7 percent overall.  

The statistics are staggering and sobering.  But there is good news.  Those statistics can change.  It starts with one family at a time, stepping out on faith and out of their comfort zone, and opening their hearts and their homes to children that need love and stability.

Ok, that's my soapbox for the day.

Take a look at the article... I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Least and the Most

Last week was spent serving in the Dominican Republic.  It's a place we know well, as it was Brian's tenth trip and my third trip to the community of Cielo in Santo Domingo.  A team of 40 (including my parents and mother-in-law!), were able to start building three homes for some hard-working Dominicans and Haitians.

 In case you weren't quite sure of its location: 

We were able to spend a lot of time with the children of Cielo; doing Vacation Bible School, playing sports, and teaching them English while trying to learn spanish from them.  (FYI to Americans: putting a spanish accent on english words does not make them spanish. ) 

There was one morning that truly stood out during our time there.  

We had the opportunity, as we have done in past years, to visit a Leprosorium (otherwise known as a Leper Colony).   It's community of people who have contracted leprosy over the past decades.  Almost all have been shunned by their families and most have lived at the Leprosorium for many, many years.  

Leprosy, once it is regulated by medicines, is not contagious, though it wreaks havoc on the body.  Most of the residents are disfigured and missing limbs.  Many are elderly at this point and have never left the community once they were admitted.  Very few are visited by anyone on a regular basis.  

They are the Least of These.  By society, they are forgotten.  They very rarely get human contact, as the stigma of their disease cripples the hearts of those they once called family.  

We were able to spend some time with them and through translators we got to know a little of their stories. We sang with them and laughed with them.  For some, we just held their hands.   

We gained much perspective in our brief time with them.  

Their Joy is evident immediately.  And it doesn't come from their material things.  It doesn't come from their jobs or their place in society.  In just listening to a few of their stories, I quickly saw that their Joy comes from knowing that this is not their home.  Yes, the Leprosorium is where they currently live.  But this is not the end for them. 

Their joy comes from knowing their Savior.  And knowing that HE is their home.

I was reading in Psalms today, and Moses said this so well:

"Lord, through all the generations YOU have been our home! 
Before the mountains were created, before you made the 
earth and the world, 
you are God, without beginning or end."  Psalm 90:1

At the end of our time together, our group was gathered with some of the residents in their community center. One of the Dominican men asked if he could share with us.  He stood up, hunched over with a cane, and called the translator over.

He wanted to sing us a song about our God.  And so he started singing.  As the song went on, he stood taller and taller.  And by the end of the song, he was spinning around and belting out lyrics at the top of his lungs for us.

And we were humbled.  Because this time at the Leprosorium wasn't about us and how much joy we could bring these residents.

It was about how much the Least of These could show us about our Most High God.

HE is our joy.  And HE is our home.

Monday, March 21, 2011

It just so happened

that we got home from our mission trip to the Dominican Republic about midnight on Friday. Our kennel is closed on Saturdays...... which meant that we couldn't pick up Knox until Sunday after 2:30pm.

This, in turn, guaranteed that I could clean our house on Saturday and it would STAY clean until after our first home study visit with the social worker at 1pm on Sunday.


And yes, don't worry. We admitted to our social worker we had a dog. No use trying to hide this guy.

Knox will get a stern talking to before he meets our social worker on Wednesday.  No jumping up to lick her face to say hello.  Only paw-shaking.

Our first visit went great.  I had talked to enough other adoptive families to know that I didn't need to clean the undersides of our furniture and or repaint the scuff marks on our wall.

Though I did think about it.

We stuck to simple dusting and vacuuming.  And if you haven't had a home study visit yet, trust me, that was enough.

The actual interview part was very relaxed and easy.  Though Brian and I have no idea how we will be as parents, we know that we are called to BE parents and that some, if not all of our children, will come from adoption.  So we were more than happy to talk about that for as long as needed.

Our next and final home visit will be this Wednesday morning. Woohoo!  We have a social worker who understands that finishing this home study is important to us and wants to help us expedite the process.  We are VERY thankful for that.

Thank you to those of you who were praying for us on Sunday during our visit.  We are so thankful to having you walking alongside us in this journey!

Friday, March 11, 2011

First Visit

We've officially got a date for our first home study visit!

In order to get a date on the calendar as soon as possible, we agreed to have our first visit with the social worker about 36 hours after getting back from our week-long overseas mission trip.

Obviously, we thrive on stress and mayhem.

In all honesty though, we're excited about the visit.  We know that this brings us one step closer to meeting our child!

For those of you out of the adoption loop, I want to ask you to pray for the current situation with adoptions in Ethiopia.  Due to some unethical adoption practices by a few agencies, the Ministry of Women's Affairs in Ethiopia has made the decision to drastically slow down the processing of adoptions. Where they were processing around 50 cases per day, they will be cutting it down to about 5 per day.  This impacts many families in process as well as the children in Ethiopia.

There absolutely needs to be investigations into potential child trafficking and unethical behaviors.  We are praying that it will not be at the expense of children who are truly orphaned and ready to be placed with an adopted family.

I have two friends currently in Montgomery who are now in the process.  One family has a referral for their baby daughter and are waiting for their court date,  while the other family is waiting for a referral.

This is always a possibility in the world of international adoption. You are not guaranteed a smooth process or even a happy ending.  My heart breaks for the families who are now truly faced with the possibility of not only waiting, but not having an answer of when the wait will be over.

Thankfully, we have a God who is Sovereign. And nothing, absolutely nothing, surprises Him.

Especially after all of the chaos that happened around the world today, I think this passage is such an amazing promise:

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and 
the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging."
Psalm 46: 1-3 

Friday, March 4, 2011

We're moving forward!

We officially have Child Abuse and Neglect clearance from ALL of our states!!!

After pestering our agency on a almost daily basis, they agreed to email the folks processing our clearance forms and check our "status" with the paperwork.  Once our agency realized that we had been waiting over eleven weeks, they felt it was time to check in.  Our annoying persistence paid off!

Our paperwork has cleared, we have now been assigned a social worker, and are waiting to hear when our first home visit will be!

Now I have to go clean.

And give this guy some obedience lessons before the social worker comes to visit.