Friday, March 23, 2012

How's the Adoption Going?

It's probably one of the most asked question to me these days..."How's the adoption going?" Some people ask it with a smile on their face while others ask it with a wince and hesitation in their voice just hoping I have good news for them, but fearing the worst. (Others never once bring it up--which is equally just as awkward) My short and typical response to this question no matter how it is asked is, "Well??? (long pause) It's going."

I fully admit, it is not a great answer. It does not give details. It does not give much hope. It does not give much disappointment. It certainly does not give you my emotions on an ordinary day in the life of an adoption process. It tells you something but not really anything. It's not a great answer. To be honest, I answer it this way because I question in my mind if people really want the full answer. This question is typically asked in passing where a long and intimate answer would not seem normal--like as we ran into each other at the grocery, being greeted at the door of church, or on a wall post of facebook. It's as if people want an answer just as short as the question they posed. It's honestly the best short answer I can give right now without allowing my heart to be too involved. Maybe people truly want to know the longer version of the answer--the real answer--and I'm not giving them the benefit of the doubt. If that has been you and I've simply answered your heartfelt question with "Well, it's going." and you really wanted more, then I am truly sorry. The truth is my life continues on every day "normally" here, but my mind has this whole other sub-story, if you will, continually running at the same time--a sub-story of all the details and emotions and prayers and thoughts about Nora, the adoption process, and the people I've met along the way. It is never far from the front of my mind or the middle of my heart.

So, without further ado, I've decided I would take a post here--a looonnng post--to give everyone the real answer to the question "How's the adoption going?". To try to organize my completely random and never-ending thoughts about our adoption I'm going to put them into these categories for this post...Timeline of the Process, Nora Herself, A Family's Heart, My Prayer Life, Financial Goals, and The "Adoption Club". Each are quite lengthy so I would actually encourage you to take a section at a time to read through. (Lord help them if they try to tackle this one all in one setting and come out alive!) Maybe one a day for the rest of the next week even--I won't be offended--I told you this is why I typically answer the question with the short version! : )

Timeline of the Process

A "typical" Haitian adoption (if there even is such a thing) takes 1-2 years to complete from the time you enter your paperwork on the Haitian end of things. We were blessed to do that very thing in the middle of February. So, even though we have been at this from our end since last July, we are really only 1 month into our 1-2 year wait. I can almost hear the gasps and looks of pity from many of you right now. I know they are there because when that question is asked directly to me I would say that is the response about 99% of the time. I know...ugh. It seems eternal some days and then other days I realize we have been at this for almost 9 months and for the most part that time has flown by so maybe the wait will go quicker than I give it credit for....maybe....probably not, but I have to have hope.

Our paperwork is currently in IBESR (Haitian Social Services) and some families from our orphanage have been unfortunately been stuck there since last spring. It's crazy in my mind to think I could quite literally be in this exact same spot a year from now when our original time frame put us through this "stage" in 2-6 months. Things are slow going on the adoption front in Haiti right now and there are a lot of reasons for that. One of the main reasons is that the director of IBESR, the President and Prime Minister positions have all been changing a lot lately and the focus of those people are primarily on, well, let's just say...not on signing adoption papers. The President, himself, has to sign dispensation papers for anyone who does not meet the requirements of the Haitian adoption standards before they can officially be out of IBESR (we fall into that category). Because his focus has had to be on other issues since this last fall, the stack of those papers has become huge. Some of these people have literally been waiting over a year for that one signature. For us, once we are approved by IBESR and our papers are signed by the President, Nora's name has to be published in a newsletter before we are officially out of this first stage. Once her name appears in that publication, we can make our next trip down to go before the judge and move onward in the process.

The time frame of when her name is published in this newsletter is also something very unpredictable. It wasn't even on our original timeline because we didn't learn of it until we were somewhat into the process. This publication could be just a few short weeks after we receive dispensation or it could be half a year or more before Nora's name appears on that list. The only way to ever wrap your brain around why these things are so unpredictable is to accept the reality that Haiti's people do not live life like you and I in the US. You will truly never be able to understand that fully until you have personally been there to experience it, but if I can sum it up in a sentence for you...they are a simple people with simple systems that are so archaic compared to ours that we quite literally can not understand it unless we remove ourselves from our reality and enter theirs.

One of my fellow adopting mamas summed it up brilliantly, I think, the other week. Her thoughts were something like this: Haiti doesn't have a governmental "system" like we do here in the US...they have governmental "people". For example, in the US, when a law or requirement or expectation is made by the government, it would hold true no matter who the person was hired to carry it out. When US governmental employees come and go, the law doesn't necessarily change. In Haiti, however, even if there was a certain governmental law being carried out by a person in that position, if that person left their position and a new person would come into that spot, they could change everything if they wanted to and create a different law or rule or expectation--and that is the case many times. Therefore, nothing is predictable. Nothing is expected. Everything is changing all the time because the people of the government are changing all the time. It's not a "system" it's a "people". Does that help this make sense at all? I mean, I know it doesn't make rational sense in our world of thinking, but does it help you understand why the process takes that long? It's not something I like accepting, but I really have no choice. God has called us to a little girl in Haiti and we are being faithful to getting her home despite the process.

Nora Herself

Speaking of that little Haitian girl...have you wondered how she is? I wonder how she is...every day....some days, every moment of every day. (Sigh). Nora will turn 6 months old next Friday! Can you even believe it??? 6 months old. I would tell you what she weighs or what her favorite toy is, but I don't know those things. Here is what I do know (thanks to brief emails from the director, pictures, or from others who have visited her there and communicated with me about it later):
  • She loves to eat. She was started on baby food at 3 1/2 months old because she was downing formula like there was no tomorrow.
  • Her favorite food is bananas. She does not like salty baby foods. (Someone please tell me what on earth that means...I don't recollect baby food being salty at all so I'm curious what exactly they are feeding her!)
  • She is surrounded by so many toys in her crib that she can barely fit in there. The other kids have nothing in their cribs but their beautiful name tags made by some dear little ones who live in Haiti as a missionary family. She is spoiled, but I love that she is being stimulated by toys (see photo below).
  • The nannies dote on Nora like she is the "Queen Bee" of the orphanage. As the director emailed to me once, "Everything nice for Nora." : )
  • She has "her" highchair that no one else gets to sit in. (It's the highchair we sent down for her)
  • She smiles all the time and is a very happy and content baby...rarely fussy unless she is hungry.
  • She is cooing and babbling more and more and even discovered how to make spit bubbles and blow raspberries.
  • She has rolls on her legs and a very round belly. This is significant to us, first, because she lives in a third-world country, and secondly, because none of our other children have ever really had rolls on their legs or a big round belly so we are a bit beside ourselves on that one! : )
  • She can sit up on her own on someone's lap...I haven't heard if she can sit on her own on the floor yet. (see photo below)
  • Her hair is long enough to make tiny little twists...I've only seen this one picture of the twists as evidence, but I think they are adorable and can't wait to do this for her myself (although I'm also glad I have some time to try to figure out how to actually do that)
  • This is the latest photo we have of her. If this was a photo of one of our other children I might have even thrown it out, labeling it as "not very good", but because it is a photo of Nora, I treasure it. No, she is not looking at the camera, but this is what I notice when I look at it: she is sitting up on her own, her hair is either matted down flat in the back or she has a bald spot in the midst of that massive head of beautifully soft hair, she is alert, she is in clothes that actually match, she is outside in the fresh Haitian air instead of inside the damp walls of the orphanage, and she is being held and loved on. It is another photo sent from Haiti that I deem not disposable, but instead...priceless.
All in all, our baby girl is not the 1 month old who was brought to the orphanage by a birth mom and dad who were giving her up out of a love for her and desire to see her live a better life. Instead, she is a 6 month old who is well cared for (at least in Haiti orphanage standards), growing, healthy, and very much her caregivers in Haiti as well as her family here in Goshen, Indiana.

A Family's Heart

Which leads me to my next is our little family in Goshen, Indiana doing at this point in the process? Well, Micah remains Micah...a dad who is enjoying his kids very much and really looking forward to the day Nora is among them in our home. He is the more "steady Eddie" of our crew--he rests in the fact we knew from the beginning of this process it would take 1-2 years so the wait doesn't seem as difficult for him as it does for me. Don't get me wrong, he wants Nora home just as much as me, he just has a wonderful way of handling the waiting time that I am, well, jealous of! : ) Quinn knows who Nora is whenever a photo of her comes up on the computer screen. He often says, " Nora." He even kissed the screen one time, so I'm pretty sure he loves her the best a 2 year old brother can. Toby makes sure Nora is included in our nightly prayers (we would have anyways) and he often asks if she will be home from Haiti today...and is disappointed when I unfortunately say she won't be here today. Lily...oh, Lily, she needs a paragraph all of her own.

Just typing Lily's name and thinking of what I would say to you about her affections for her baby sister tears me up. This girl wants her sister home in a desperate way. She wants to hold her in her own arms as a baby very badly. Just this past Saturday I was having a "girls day" shopping with Lily. Out of the blue while walking through the parking lot hand-in-hand with each other Lily says, "Mom, the only thing that would make this day better would be to have Nora here with us so all of us girls would be together." Oh, my heart. The other night she was having a "scared" moment in her room when she mentioned to Micah she was really hoping Nora would be home soon so she didn't have to sleep in her room alone (although that might come back to bite her as a high schooler when she has an elementary aged sister in her room-ha!). Another example of the love this girl has for Nora is this--when the team from our church came back I was crying while looking at the pictures and she asked me why I was crying. I told her I just missed Nora and wished I could have been the one holding her. She looked at me with all sincerity in the world and said, "Well, at least you have held her, Mom. I haven't even gotten to do that." Ouch. She put me in my place so I just hugged her and reassured her I wished she could have held her by now too as the tears just kept streaming down my face. It's truly hard to help these kids understand this wait...even 1 day seems like "forever" in their minds. There has been much talk between Micah and me about getting Lily on one of these trips to Haiti, but we just aren't sure when or how. We both agree we would LOVE to see her go because it would be an amazing life experience for her, she would be able to love on Nora there, and Nora would be able to meet one of her siblings before coming home. The hard part of the decision really will be if can we afford to add her into the mix of the trip and if we can, which trip to take her along on. The expenses of an additional flight, passport, and accommodations while in Haiti was not in our original plan so we'll just have to see. Oh how I would love to see my girls together though.

And then there is me. This Mama's heart...where is that at almost 9 months into a process that still has 1-2 years more to go? Well, this process is becoming increasingly harder, that is for sure. When you are pregnant and carrying your baby in your womb for 9 months you begin the process by feeling excited you are pregnant. That wears off a bit while you go through a few months of feeling pretty darn sick. Then you begin feeling better physically and you regain excitement as you start to feel the baby move around and your belly actually shows you are indeed "with child". Then the last few months of carrying your child become a bit more burdensome--some because of the increasing amount of weight you have all in the front of you and some because you have now bonded with this child as much as you can without having them in your arms to hold and love. The burden is there because you have grown to love your unborn child so much already and you are SO ready to interact with them and care for them on the outside of your body. Then you go through the pains of labor and you birth your beautiful, perfect baby--there is a bond made that could never have been there completely when that child was just inside you. You can touch them, see them, smell them (unfortunately at moments), and take in the wonder of their unique little self. All of that happens in 9 months. In some ways, I feel these 9 months of adoption process have really been a mirror to that natural mothering process of biological children.

When we decide to go ahead with adopting there was a lot of excitement and happiness and joy--like finding out we were pregnant. Then came the tediousness of putting together a dossier...I would compare that to the sick feelings of the first trimester. It takes a lot out of you to gather all the different forms, send them off to three different places for verifications, getting them translated, and then sent to Haiti. Blah. Then the anticipation and excitement returns as you await your match to your child and you begin to feel a little more spirited as you lay eyes on your first picture of her and you just "know" this is the right little girl for you. Then as the process continues you start to feel more and more burdened like you do in your third trimester. Mainly because you make a trip to meet your precious little one, you bond with her, and you continue to get wonderful pictures of her for several months. You are watching her grow and develop through those pictures. You are getting a sense of who she is and who she may become by stories others tell are bonding because you are carrying her--not in your belly, but in your heart. But here lies the problem. The next stage in a typical birth is that you actually get to birth them and have them in your arms to continue the bonding and further the's the end to the 9 months of waiting. In our adoption, however, we get to stay stuck in this "third trimester" for 1-2 years more before holding her in our arms. It doesn't feel isn't natural. Ask any woman who has had biological children and they will tell you no one should have to stay in the last trimester woes for 1-2 years!

So, that is where this Mama's heart is at. Longing for my child to be out of my heart as a "thought" and into my arms as a "person". I know it will potentially be a long time from now that this will be reality and that just simply hurts. I can not explain the paradox of being so frustrated that someone else is holding and loving on your child when you want that to so desperately be you and yet also being so incredibly thankful somebody is doing that while you can not. I can not explain what it feels like to know your child is 6 months old and you have never known for a second what she has ever weighed. I can not explain how much my heart has warmed to my daughter with only spending 4 days with her out of her 6 months of life. I will not lie--it is hard, very hard to be away from her, but I will also say that when God calls you to something in life, He will equip you to deal with it. Let me highlight the word "deal" from the last sentence. I do not enjoy this--I do not find delight in the wait. I deal with it.

The most annoying line people say to me currently is this, "God will bring her home to you in His time". I do not think for a second that God will bring Nora home to me "in His time" because "His time" for Nora to be in my arms has already come and gone--now He is just making the best with what He has to work with. I do not believe He has "so much to teach me along the road" or that He wants to "use Nora in Haiti for something life-changing to someone else" and that is why this process is taking so long. I actually used to think thoughts like those, but that is changing as I pray more and seek more of God along this road. We live in a fallen world where systems and people are corrupt of His perfect and good will for our lives. We also have an enemy who would like nothing more than to delay every step of this process to keep God's will from coming to fruition. God's heart aches just as much, if not even more, than my own that Nora is not in my arms. I believe with all of my heart He is fighting for her to be here as soon as possible and I'm ready to join in that fight. It is not God's will for her to be living in an orphanage right now no matter how nice it is there--God is ALL about families (Ps. 68:6). He is faithful in loving us, teaching us, walking this journey alongside us, and making things good out of it all, but He is not the one behind a 1-2 year process.

So, as my heart continues along for the duration of this last "trimester" (for however long that takes), I know as miserable as I feel some days and as joyful as I feel on other days, my God is right there with me. This Mama's heart is comforted in that and is stirred to keep fighting at the battle lines of the Spiritual war going on over how long that last "trimester" has to be. I can tell you this, no matter how long it takes me to get to the birthing and holding Nora in my arms stage, I will be--as I was with my other 3 beautiful children when they were born--the happiest Mama on the whole earth and I will marvel at this beautiful creation God has blessed me with in Nora.

My Prayer Life

As I said above and in my last several posts actually, I have been changing dramatically in my prayer life and overall view of who God is. I have come to a passionate understanding on a level I have never known before that my God is a never-changing GOOD God and was, is, and always will be fighting for our lives on earth to be as they are in heaven--GOOD and full of ABUNDANT LIFE! It is no different with this adoption. I believe to the core of my being that God is fighting for Nora to be home in our arms even now (and for every orphan to be in a family and loving home even now!). There are so many things (earthly as well as spiritually) that are opposing that desire of His and it's high time I join Him on the battle line for my daughter--and for every orphan who needs someone willing to fight for them in the spiritual realms.

At the beginning of this process I easily accepted the 1-2 year time frame. It didn't bother me much actually. I'm not sure why, but it didn't. I figured there was nothing that could be done to change it, so why worry about it...just accept it and move on through the process just the same as every other mama going through this ordeal. However, I was basing all of my thoughts and feelings out of rational, earthly things such as...this is the time frame it always is for Haiti, this is the way Haiti adoptions work, God called us to adopt from Haiti so this must be what He wants us to go through, at least Nora is in an orphanage run by loving Christians who will care for her while she lives there, what would others think if my adoption went through faster than anyone else's--wouldn't they wonder what made mine so special? Just accept the process for what it is, don't try to rock the boat, and trust that God will bring her home when He's ready and feels we are all ready too. AHHHHHHH..... (I just screamed REALLY loud).....this couldn't be farther from the Truth. Such lies Satan was feeding me to keep me complacent and not fully trusting on my God to be able to be who He who dearly loves each of us and willing to do anything for us...even fight and fight and fight for our good when we sit unknowingly content with life that is not always good to us.

My prayers now are much less concerned about what others around me think and much more concerned with what God wants and needs. He wants abundant life for me. He wants abundant life for Nora. He wants abundant life for all of us. He is needing a faithful and passionate team of humans made in His image to join Him in the fight for His good and perfect will to be done on Earth as it is in Heaven!!!! It's not in the Bible, but I'm pretty sure there are no orphanages in Heaven, friends, so why would His will be for anyone to be in them here on earth? Now, don't get me wrong, I'm all for orphanages for a temporary--very temporary--place for children to be cared for when they are taken out of God's "Plan A" (healthy, solid, loving family groups), but for a child to stay in that mid-way environment for longer than a temporary stop is not something I see my good God being excited about. His "Plan B" needs to happen in less than 1-2 years.

So, there are two specific things I feel God has been speaking to me about in my prayer life for this adoption. The first thing is about mountains and the second is about doors, but both of them have a running thread of "expectation". First of all...mountains. From moment one there has been something intriguing about mountains in this adoption. Rivers of Hope is located in Petionville, Haiti, which is located in the mountains southwest of Port Au Prince. On our trip there this past December, I found myself consistently drawn to the outside porch overlooking the mountainside as a place of sanctuary and reflection with the Lord. It was calming there. Purely beautiful. Here are two pictures of the view, which are nice but really doesn't do it justice at all.

Each time I took a step onto that porch to look at the mountain I thought of this line... "I look to the mountains. Where does my help come from?" I knew it was in the Bible, but had to look up the passage. It is Psalm 121 and I love The Message version:

I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains?
No, my strength comes from God,
who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.

He won't let you stumble,
your Guardian God won't fall asleep.
Not on your life! Israel's
Guardian will never doze or sleep.

God's your Guardian,
right at your side to protect you—
Shielding you from sunstroke,
sheltering you from moonstroke.

God guards you from every evil,
he guards your very life.
He guards you when you leave and when you return,
he guards you now, he guards you always.

I was reminded by this passage to not trust in the things of this world...the mountains...but instead on the One who not only created the mountains, but also met with humans up on the them many times throughout Scripture. The mountain represented, for me, a place where God intended to meet me...and He has BIG time on this journey. He is where I will find the help and protection and strength I need on this HIM...not in the mountain itself.

Another "mountain" blurb from the Lord had to do with our dossier entering IBESR. When I had first completed our dossier back in September and had all 5 copies of it sitting on my table, I vividly remember saying out loud to my boys in the dining room, "Geeze, what a mountain of paperwork, huh!" See for yourself...

Little did I know, God was going to use that one little line later on when I was stressing about our dossier not getting into IBESR fast enough. One day I was simply praying for God to move our paperwork soon because I just desperately wanted to know we had officially begun our 1-2 year wait. This line from a worship song kept coming to my head, "Savior, You can move the mountains"...even mountains of paperwork! So, again, I decided I should look that up and see what that was referring to. Sure enough, in Matthew 17:19-21, Jesus was answering His disciples' question on why they couldn't throw out the demon from a boy when Jesus came along and did. Here was His response...(again in The Message version)

When the disciples had Jesus off to themselves, they asked, "Why couldn't we throw it out?"

"Because you're not yet taking God seriously," said Jesus. "The simple truth is that if you had a mere kernel of faith, a poppy seed, say, you would tell this mountain, 'Move!' and it would move. There is nothing you wouldn't be able to tackle."

I felt tremendous peace and excitement as I bolstered up my faith and decided to pray that God would show His power and move that mountain of paperwork for me since I couldn't do it myself. Now, I have this Truth in my heart that if I can't physically be down in Haiti making these mountains of paperwork move through the system, I am certainly going to be praying faithfully to the One I know does have the ability to do just that.

One of the other significant mountain blurbs was spoken to me in my class on prayer recently at church. This Scripture was read aloud and it painted a beautiful picture in my head of my prayers for this adoption. It was Psalm 97: 1-6. It reads (once again in The Message),

God rules: there's something to shout over! On the double, mainlands and islands—celebrate!

Bright clouds and storm clouds circle 'round him;
Right and justice anchor his rule.

Fire blazes out before him,
Flaming high up the craggy mountains.

His lightnings light up the world;
Earth, wide-eyed, trembles in fear.

The mountains take one look at God
And melt, melt like wax before earth's Lord.

The heavens announce that he'll set everything right,
And everyone will see it happen—glorious!

In the midst of an adoption where I am on the mainland and Nora is on an island, let us celebrate what God is going to do! Just as the clouds over the mountain in Haiti were bright one second and stormy the next, so are the clouds around God. There is nothing "right" or "justified" in this Haitian adoption really--only God's rule remains right and justified. May His light shine for the whole world to see (do you remember "Nora" means "light"?!?). May anything earthly tremble at what He can do. The mountains in front of me in this adoption will melt away like wax before the Lord. He can make those craggy mountains smooth and even below our feet. God WILL set everything right--even crazy adoptions that seem to have everything "wrong" in it--and everyone will see it happen for His glory! Can you even imagine? I get goosebumps just thinking of it! After reading this passage, I sat in my chair at church with a big smile on my face and an expectant heart for what God wants to do not only in our adoption, but in Haiti for all adoptions. I am expecting Him to do something RIGHT for all of these children who need to be in their homes.

Besides the mountain thing, there is the door thing. It really continues to follow this line of thinking that God is wanting to do something huge in Haiti that will effect each and every adoption from this day forward...ours included. In that same class on prayer, Eyob, our teacher, was helping us break down the different kinds of prayers we pray (asking, seeking, knocking, intercession, proclamation, prophetic, and thanksgiving) and spent time talking through the dynamics of each of them. The findings proved to be very inspiring to me in my prayer life. The first four--asking, seeking, knocking, and intercession--are meant to be longer and private prayers with God. He took us through Matthew 7:7-8 to help explain the first three. Those verses read (in the NIV):

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."

The first prayer we are told to pray is one of asking for something to be given to us. Asking is merely telling God what we want and asking for Him to give it to us. It's our most common type of prayer...presenting God with requests. We discussed how those can be anything from little things like asking God for energy to make it through the day to BIG things like asking God to give us a nation (Ps. 2:8). My heart was stirred...could God be prompting me to ask Him for something as big as faster, more efficient adoptions in Haiti? Wow. My faith would be stretched to ask something so big of God, but did you see what He promises us when we are faithful to asking things of Him? We would have it given to us...we would receive. Amazing!

Then we moved on to seeking prayers. Eyob explained the difference between asking and seeking as this: seeking prayers involve more than just our "head and heart" requests--they involve prayers being prayed that would meet the need of our soul or spirit. They are a deeper or stronger prayer because there is something of hunger and desperation with of these prayers. They wouldn't be prayers for a good test grade (that would be an "asking" prayer)...they would be prayers for a person to come to know the Lord as their Savior or prayers for a nation's adoption program to be miraculously changed to accomplish God's will and desire for these children and their waiting families. Again, just as the asking prayers were answered with reception, these seeking prayers are met with what??? We will find whatever it is we are seeking. We will find the Haitian adoption process miraculously changed, friends, I believe that can happen.

Lastly, in this passage, we move on to the knocking prayer. This prayer is a stubborn and persistent prayer just as if someone was knocking on a door repeatedly with an urgent message. Eyob explained that when both our asking and seeking prayers are embedded with persistence, they become knocking prayers. They are being prayed out of a heart that will not take "no" for an answer because of the faith that person has that God is big enough and good enough to open that door for them. Oh, how I want the doors to be opened for the Haiti adoption process! Am I willing to be in prayer not only asking for our own adoption process to be quicker than Haiti has ever seen before, or to be seeking God to move all Haitian adoption processes in an unheard of fashion of timeliness, but to be knocking on the door of Heaven over and over and over until it would happen? I want to have that kind of prayer life. I want to be that kind of faith-filled human being who loves God so much that I simply want to be in His presence in prayer for these things...and so much more...because I know He will give it to me, help me to find it, and open the door for His goodness to be seen by the whole earth.

I am expecting God to meet me in this adoption process through my prayer time with Him and through His Word. I am expecting Him to show up bigger than the mountains and to level them like wax before me. I am asking, seeking, and knocking for the Haitian adoption process to be radically changed--miraculously changed--for the glory of God and for the abundant life of His children. I believe He is doing something NEW in Haitian adoptions. This was confirmed through another Scripture a fellow mama adopting through Haiti wrote me in an email in the last couple weeks. Here is what she said her email...

"Recently, I've become a bit consumed with adoption timelines--trying to get a grasp on how long we may have to wait for our baby, and the Lord has brought to my attention --on several different occasions --Isaiah 43:18-19: "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." I am so excited to see God's hand guide us through this."

I couldn't agree more with Shelley in this excitement....God is asking me to forget the former things of the way Haitian adoptions "work"--He's saying to me, do not dwell on the past of how these adoptions have been working. See, I am doing a NEW thing in these timelines and how these Haitian adoptions will happen. I am making a NEW way to spring up, a WAY in the desert and a FRESH stream of water in the wasteland of these processes. I am SO excited to see what God is doing! My faith and trust is increasing in what all my God can do.

Financial Goals

Financially, we have been so blessed by many of you in our support raising for this adoption. In a matter of a few short months we were able to raise just over $20,000 of our $25,000 goal amount. That is amazing to say the least! The truth is this adoption could topple over that goal amount by another good $5000 easily if all of our estimated expenses turn out to be on the high end of our estimations. We are certainly praying that won't be the case, but we have to think of them as our potential reality. Adoptions are not cheap...that's just the way it is. We have been blown away by the support we have been given financially as well as prayerfully so far on this journey and we humbly ask you to continue to support us as we go along. For those of you who initially gave when we sent out our support letters...thank you! For those of you who purchased an Etch-A-Sketch calendar...thank you! For those of you who have expressed your prayer support to us...thank you! Each and every one of you are a VALUABLE part of this journey not only for us, but for Nora. We are looking forward to and hoping to raise the last amount of our goal by hosting a fundraiser meal at our church on Sunday, May 6th. Come on over for a yummy haystack lunch if you are anywhere in the Goshen area--proceeds will benefit bringing Nora home. Even if you want to come from a further distance, you know you are always welcome--we would love to catch up with you! : ) The meal will be served after both of our services that Sunday with "to go" boxes available as well. The first service is over at 10:15 a.m. and our second service at 12 noon. Come and join us for food, fellowship, and fundraising! If you have interest in helping us serve the meal, contact either myself or Micah and we'd be happy to have your help. I will post more details as the time comes closer, but for now, you can mark it on your calendars for a delicious meal. Also, I think our church rocks so if you want to come for one of the services, we'd love to have you join us for the morning...1st service begins at 9 a.m. and 2nd service at 10:45 a.m. It is the exact same service for both times, so take your pick! : )

The "Adoption Club"

There is something very unique about this experience of adopting. When you get in the middle of it all, you realize how incredibly valuable it is to have relationships with others who have gone before you, are in the middle of it with you, or are coming up behind you. I have been blessed over and over with amazing friendships simply because we answered the call to adopt. From Denise and Amy befriending me through emails while all of our kids are at Rivers of Hope, to the Zanesville crew I got to meet up with a few weeks back who all have kids either recently home or still at Rivers of Hope (see photo below), to the four other couples in our church who are also adopting from various countries or have their children in their arms now, to the Haitian Adoptions facebook group of 307 members and counting, to one of the newest members of our Rivers of Hope family who was connected from a man on Micah's dad's mission team when they went to Rivers of Hope to meet Nora, to the fellow adopting mom through a different orphanage in Haiti of a little girl who is also named Nora who looks strikingly similar and entered IBESR the same week as our Nora, to Micah's best friend from college and his wife also adopting...all of these relationships and so many more are making this journey so unique and supportive. I would never want to do this alone. I am praying and praying for the next person who comes along in my life who feels the same "tug" from the Lord in their hearts to adopt. You will be welcomed with open arms into this crazy, roller coaster of an emotional road, blessed, and life-changing journey. You will be welcomed with open arms into the "adoption club".

So, now that you are at the end of this ridiculously long post--whether you read it all in one setting (Lord, help you) or you took each section as a day of reading like I suggested, I am hoping you now know why I give the short version of my answer to the original question of "How's the adoption going?" when I see people in passing. This true, long, and heart-felt answer is much too long to spew out at someone in an aisle at WalMart, but nonetheless, this answer is always in my mind and heart waiting and ready to come out. So, if you have the time to chat, I'd always love to sit down with you and give you the longer version of my journey as it continues on, but I also won't be offended if the short answer of "Well, it's going" really is all you have time for! : ) Thank you for listening to my heart here, friends, and for loving me along this journey. I am a better woman because of it and Nora will have a better Mama because of it. Until next time...many blessings to you!

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