July 4th means more than Independence Day for me...it means a significant step in our adoption process. As I reflect back over the course of the past year, I am amazed at what all I have learned, what all has changed, and what all I am eagerly still looking forward to.
You see, last year on July 4th we took a little family outing to a neighboring garden called the Defries Calendar Garden. This unique garden is shaped in a circle, divided into 4 different sections representing spring, summer, fall, and winter. Each section houses many varieties of plants that come alive during those specific seasons. Encircling the foliage is a brick path with dated stones...one for every day of the year.
During that time Micah and I had been having deep discussions on whether or not we would pursue adoption, what the right timing was, where we would adopt from, etc. I was already fully on board with the idea and Micah was still processing a few things when we visited the garden. As I walked around the garden looking at the dates on the bricks, I remember feeling a mixture of excitement and sadness. Excitement because I just knew in my heart God was calling us to adopt, but sadness because Micah and I weren't quite on the same page yet and I didn't like feeling disconnected from my man. As much as I wanted to jump into the adoption process (knowing it would be a long haul), I also wanted to have both Micah and I willing and ready together. I didn't want to pursue something of my own desire without him also feeling called and at peace with the decision--especially something as big as adding another member to this Thieszen clan. I remember wondering as I took pictures of our children by their birthday bricks, if I would have another daughter someday to bring to the garden for a picture and what brick I would get to sit her beside.
Little did I know that only 1 day later after the kids fell asleep, Micah would sit down with me, discuss some more details, and give us the green light to begin the process of adoption. It was a moment where I thought my heart would burst into a million pieces. Almost like the fireworks of the 4th of July--just in my heart! : ) It felt good and right and wonderful. The following morning, July 6th, I sent off an email to the director at Rivers of Hope Orphanage letting her know we were going to begin collecting everything we would need for our dossier and to let us know when she had her next little girl needing a family. I think I cried a lot that day--good, happy, excited tears of anticipation and a big ole' "YES!!!" to God. Our process began.
So now, one year later, July 4th, I sit amazed at what all this journey has done for me. One year later, our children have grown up from this....
|Toby 3 1/2, Lily 5, Quinn 1 1/2|
|Quinn 2 1/2, Toby 4 1/2, Lily 6|
One year later I do not have my daughter in my arms, but I do know I have another daughter...Nora Josephine. We have seen her grow from this...
|Nora-1 month old-October 2011|
|Nora-9 months old (taken on July 4, 2012)|
One year later I know the date of her birthday brick--September 30th--and I'm really looking forward to the day I get to take her out there for her very own photo shoot beside it.
One year later, just as all 4 of our children have grown, changed, and matured, I have found my heart has done the same. I am completely grateful for the adoption journey God called us to participate in. I feel as if this past year could not have been any better...well, maybe if Nora would have miraculously come home and Maddie's cancer would have never returned, but I think that is a given. I will be grateful the following things (and so many others) have happened over the course of the past year...
- Meeting and spending a few days with our precious daughter in Haiti in December.
- Almost daily emails with two special women who are part of the ROH families. Amy (whose blog is here) and Denise (whose blog is here) are an incredible source of support in the moments of complete desperation and despair as well as the incredible moments of celebration. I feel as though we are sisters separated by miles. Amy is adopting a sweet little chubs of a baby boy named Alex and an adorable little girl named Grace--they are heading to Haiti in a matter of days to go before the Dean. Denise is adopting Nora's beautiful half-sister, Giselle, and should be heading down to Haiti any time to bring her little princess home to Canada.
- Having the chance to meet Nora's birth parents and thank them for allowing us to raise her in a loving, Christ-focused home environment.
- "Meeting" around 300 families adopting from Haiti through a facebook Haitian Adoptions group. All with common hearts for adoption and for Haiti, they have been a blessing and a wealth of information to weed through!
- Walking alongside several other families in our own church currently working their way through their own adoptions.
- Watching God move in mighty ways by opening doors for things to move along in ways that can not be explained other than it being God.
- Having my prayer life bolstered ten-fold. Wow. I can not get over how much more passionate I am about praying. If you want to deepen your prayer life to a new level, get involved in something where you honestly can not do nothing but pray. It works.
- "Meeting" several other families also adopting from Rivers of Hope Orphanage through an email group and then actually meeting 4 of these Mamas face-to-face where we could share our excitement, frustrations, and longings to have our children in our arms with each other.
- Seeing my children love their sister like crazy even when they have never met her and unfortunately still live an ocean apart from one another.
- Having my heart become even more compassionate for those in need--whether those needs are for food, shelter, a friend, formula, diapers, a mom & dad, or a Savior.
- Being privileged to share my heart for adoption with others who ask about our process in line at a grocery store or even during our fellowship time at church.
- Using my gifts as an artist to help raise funds to cover the costs of getting Nora home.
- Being blessed beyond words by so many friends, family, and strangers who have donated financially towards our adoption. It's not every day I get to watch God lovingly draw others to a cause and collect a relatively huge sum of money in a matter of months to see it happen. I'm so blessed.
- Believing deeper than I ever have before that our God is GOOD and loving and cares passionately for all of His children to have an abundantly good life to live in here on this earth.
- Buying bunk beds for the girls' room and saving Lily's outgrown clothes in the basement for another beautiful little lady to use in the future.
As this July 4th rolls through and we look ahead at another year in the adoption process, I find myself excited to see what all God will continue to show me. A realistic statement would be to say this adoption process over the next year could not be kind to us and Nora could still be in Haiti next 4th of July. However, I chose to place that realistic statement aside enough to acknowledge that God has so far proved to be bigger and better than the process and I don't anticipate His power to be changing. I will go forward believing, as I always have, that He will get Nora home to us as soon as miraculously possible. God could very EASILY have Nora home in my arms and taking a trip over to the Calendar Gardens for her photo shoot WAY BEFORE then. That has so much more hope and appeal to it, doesn't it!
As our Lilypie ticker on the right-hand column of this blog continues counting on, I ask that you please continue to come alongside us on our journey and pray HARD with us for God's Good and Gracious Will to bring our little girl to our home.