Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Familiar Spot

Well, I have found myself in a familiar spot once again that I have frequented throughout our adoption.  A spot that seems to demand action, but a spot that confuses me most of the time on what action I should take exactly.  This spot seems to be the battlefield of Truths that result in two different kinds of action and I just don't know which one to follow...or if there is a way to do both at the same time.

In the moments of our adoption when God seems to be "on the move" and doing amazing things that can only be seen as acts of Him, I find myself on a high like no other.  And, yes, those moments are scattered throughout our process everywhere--He is at work, there is no doubt about that!  He has done such miraculous and incredibly personal things along this journey that solidify my faith and confidence that He loves me, knows me, and is working for me way beyond what any other could possibly do.  Those moments are the spots I find myself "placing a rock", if you will, to mark that in this way, on such and such a day, God allowed me to see I had been in the presence of the Almighty and was touched by the Holiness of the Miraculous and lived to tell others about it.  Those spots are literally written down throughout this blog for others to see the glory of the God who made them happen.  They leave me speechless and incredibly grateful for my Lord.

In the moments of our adoption when God seems to have "gone silent" and the process moves along at a snail's pace or is halted all together for various unknown reasons, I find myself instead in a spot of complete frustration.  Complete frustration that, in that moment, in that spot, I feel as if I do not know what else to do.  It is a place where no matter how hard I pray or no matter how much I trust God or praise Him, FORWARD ACTION in this adoption seems to elude me.  This spot seems to demand from me both inner peace and yet the desire to fight, which seem opposite.  It demands complete belief that God can move the mountains and yet total acceptance if I'm not seeing it happen, which is hard for anyone.  It seems to ask for expectation that God is going to WOW me and yet humility when it hasn't happened as I so solidly believed it would.

It's not a comfortable, cozy spot to be in.  It is, for me, a very confusing spot where I want to cling with all my might to TRUTH and completely destroy any lies Satan is trying to use against me, but yet I struggle to know what Truths to believe, or better yet, how to believe all of the Truths at the same time when they seem to request opposite actions.  I mean, do I remain peacefully and contently silent in the wait, believing God can do this thing without my valiant efforts, or do I fight along side Him by doing everything I can to see this come about, believing this to be His Will?  Even further, do I even believe that this IS His Will?  Do I believe that it is part of His Plan for our adoption to take this long, for us to be stuck where we are right now, for Nora to continue to be cared for in this orphanage instead of in our family or do I believe His Will is being fought against by every evil force Satan can muster to make this adoption fail and therefore needs some sort of spiritual breakthrough to actually get it to happen?  Do I accept our current situation as it is because it is God's Will or do I fight against it because it is not God's Will?  And then realizing I am in no place and never will be to ever even truly know what the will of God is comes into play and leaves me with such confusion on what to do.  Can anyone see the dilemma I face while in this spot?  It's agonizing to my soul and spirit.  Despite the fact I continue on with everyday life with a pretty joyful spirit and can function just fine as a wife, mom and woman, these things take me to a place I just want to run away from because the confusion is just too hard to figure out.

Like I said above, this spot is not new to me in this adoption.  It is a spot where I have come to over and over'd think I would have learned my "lesson" and remembered the way to get myself out of this mess, but alas, here I am again...oye!  I have been blessed by God in these spots before with Truth and yet I walk away from it and for whatever reason seem to forget what He taught me.  Each time I find myself in this spot, these are the words--the questions--God has spoken to me.  They are questions that do not completely answer all my other questions or silence all my doubts or even show me exactly what His Will is or isn't, but they do give me direction for my prayer life and a peace about the actions I decide to make.  The questions God asks of me are the following: "If you get out of your head and into your heart, what does it have to say?  What do you feel in your heart?  What do you desire in your heart?  If you just stop THINKING and just start FEELING, where does that take you?  If you stop trying to rationally and logically understand it all and just tell Me the truth of your heart, what would that be?"  Yep, in those spots, God takes me right back to the place He lives and reminds me He wants to meet with me my heart, not in my head.  When I asked Jesus Christ to come live inside of me, friends, I didn't ask Him to live in my brain, I asked Him to live in my heart.  I find that in these moments of complete and utter confusion, I am trying to make decisions with my head instead of my heart and it continually doesn't work.

The hardest part, I think, about making a conscience choice to go from my head to my heart is the fact that head knowledge is "safe".  It is based in facts.  It is based in what is known, what is seen, what is proven or can be proven.  Heart knowledge, however, is built out of passions and feelings.  It is "risky".  Hearts can be broken, right?!?  Heart choices are not always sure.  They aren't always predictable.  They aren't always built or based on logic.  They are intimately personal and therefore hard to speak to others, to God, or even to myself sometimes because they have feelings attached that could be deeply hurt if left in the wrong hands.  Trust--deep trust--has to be present for my heart contents to be shared.  But, when they are shared, even just between me and God, I think true love--God Is Love, love --is experienced between both parties involved and that presence of Love seems to melt away all of the other concerns my mind previously had.  I just know and trust that God has heard my heart and will do everything He can to answer those desires because He loves me.

So, friends, I have spent much time over the past several days pouring out my prayers before the Lord.  I have, however, unfortunately spent much of that time praying out of my head and continued to be frustrated as I still didn't seem to understand what to do or not do.  This morning, as I came to Him once again, I was gently reminded of the difference between praying from my head and from my heart.  I allowed myself to "go there", to take the risk, to trust my God with my intimate heart desires.  It was rich and energizing to say the least.  The peace and excitement that has come today has been incredibly refreshing.  I have delighted in Him--in His Presence and in remembering what all He CAN do.  Out of the desires of my heart, I have prayed for movement to be seen once again in the world of Haitian adoptions.  I have prayed specifically for our own as well as all others.  I have prayed many other specific desires my heart contains that need only to be known by my Father.  They have all come not from my head, but from my heart.

Today has been a very good day, friends, a very good day.  A day where I have spent time in the Lord's Presence, shared intimately with him from my heart, been assured He has heard me, and now have seen evidence of Him at work on that "movement desire" I spoke of here.  Who knows if that movement has much to do with my own prayers or just my ability to see God's work again clearly.  At any rate, I know He is using these examples to reenforce the Truths He has reminded me of today--He wants to hear the desires of my heart!  No, we have no news for our own adoption yet, but there are other families who have had huge breakthroughs in their cases today and have been moved forward when it seemed so bleak to them.  As these reports have come in, I have sat in awe of the goodness of our God and in the fact that He alone is able!  I am excited to see what is ahead of us in the remainder of this adoption because I know...deep down in my heart I know...that God is at work on the desires of my heart.

"Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this" ~Ps. 37:4-5

Monday, February 18, 2013

One Year Later

February 18, 2012.  One year ago today we officially entered IBESR, the first big step on the Haitian end of this adoption.  It was just over 7 months before that date we had begun the process on the US side of things so it wasn't the very beginning of our adoption, but still a very significant date in our process.  The timeline we have always been told is adopting through Haiti will be around 1 1/2-2 years after entering IBESR.  Well, let's just keep praying Nora is home well before another 1/2 year-1 year!

This past week was "Carnival" in Haiti celebrating Mardi Gras.  All of the government offices were closed for the majority to all of the week so we are hopeful this week will bring better news for our process.  (Sidenote--can you even imagine if our government would close down for a week to celebrate a holiday???  Crazy!)  We are still waiting for the decree to come out of Archives and deeply desire to see this movement since we have been here for at least 5 weeks now when it should have only taken 1-2 weeks to get out.  Please continue praying for the release of our papers.

I had to laugh a bit yesterday when picking up Lily from a birthday party.  As I waited for her to gather her stuff I got the chance to talk to the mother of Lily's friend.  This mom and I have become friends over the past year since our girls became friends in kindergarten.  She and I were discussing if there was any news about Nora or a timeline of when we would get her home.  One of her comments is what made me laugh...she said, "It seems like this is taking forever.  I mean, as long as I've known you, you have been trying to adopt her!"  How true.  It's time to bring this girl to the homestretch when you realize there are people who have never known you to NOT be in the process of adopting-ha!

Well, here's to a "new year" and a year where Nora will, Lord willing, grace our household with much joy and light!

Nora around the time we entered IBESR last year.
Nora now--she's really grown!

This is the dress we sent down for Nora when she was 6 months old.  Can you say that dress is s.t.r.e.t.c.h.e.d. out!!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Length of Adoption--A Time to Rise Up

Many of my posts have somehow referred to the length of our adoption process.  Whether it be walking you through the actual steps involved in adopting from Haiti, suggestions of things to do during the "wait", my emotions and frustrations with being "stuck", or how much I just want to be DONE with it all...they all have to do with the fact adoptions (generally speaking) take a lot of time to get through.  One of the more frequently asked questions I hear is "Why does it have to take soooo long???"  Back in October I even dedicated a post solely to that very question entitled "The Dreaded Question".

I'm delighted to say since writing that post, I have come to a very peace-filled decision as to what my response to that question should be.  As I explained in that post, what made that question so "dreaded" was the fact I never knew how to answer it and it didn't seem to reflect a genuine care for where I was IN the process.  I never knew if the person asking wanted the long version of why it takes so long, the short version, or if they were just trying to sympathize with me.  I never felt peace about any of the answers I felt gave, so I came to the conclusion it would just be better easier to encourage others to not even ask that question unless they wanted the long version of an answer.  Well, as much as I do want others to care about me in the process, I'm not sure that was the best approach either.  It was a creative way, I think, for me to subtly avoid the topic, or fact, that adoptions (and international adoptions more specifically) just take an agonizingly long time.

So, I find myself thankful for hearing, what I believe was, a direct word from God about this "dreaded question".  The words were so clear in my head it was as if He spoke them to me face-to-face.  I can't quite remember where the conversation in my head started from, but somehow the idea of a person asking me why it takes so long to get Nora out of Haiti was placed in my mind.  Instead of my general eye-roll with hearing that question, I immediately had a response that could only come from God.  My gut level response was, "You are asking the wrong question!  The question you should be asking is: WHY ARE THERE NOT MORE PEOPLE WILLING TO TAKE THAT LONG TO GIVE A FAMILY TO THESE CHILDREN WHO NEED ONE?

Let that sink in a bit.  I had to.

Yes, God, yes.  This was the "answer" I had been searching for through this whole adoption.  The "answer" that turns the negativity of the original question into motivation for change.  Instead of feeling like I was some sort of a freak of nature for wanting to put myself and my family through a very long, hard ordeal to get Nora into our family, it was creating a sense of challenge for more people to jump into the same boat.  And why?  Why would I want or encourage anyone else to go on a similar road we have gone on this past year and a half?  Well, two reasons come to my mind.  1) Because God told us all to look after the orphans in their distress and 2) because there are still over 10 million children who need you to.

There is an epidemic in our world, friends, that most people are willing to look blindly past.  An epidemic where children are literally dying in masses because they have no one to love them and make sure they have the basic essentials for human life.  Children who have no one to call Mommy or Daddy.  Children who have one meal a day at best.  Children who share a bed with as many other children they can fit into it.  Children who don't even have a bed.  Children who are silently waiting, hoping, and praying for you someone to consider them WORTH the long journey it will take.  Children wondering not "Why does it take sooooo long?" but rather "Why doesn't anyone want me?"

All of these thoughts of mine were confirmed a few days ago in the release of a trailer for a new documentary film set to be released across a US tour in March-May.  Did you know that the stats prove over the last 5 years adoptions have decreased by 50%!  50%.  In 5 years.  That means 50% of children who were asking the question of "Why doesn't anyone want me?" got their one did.  It is time, friends, for this trend to change.  It is time for others to rise up and decide enough is enough.  It is time for our focus to NOT be on the long wait, but on the children who need people to be willing to go through it for them.  It is time for others to say, these children ARE worth the long wait.  These children ARE worth the work I will have to do to get them here.

The movie I am referring to is entitled "STUCK".  It is a documentary exposing some of the issues causing the long wait for international adoptions and the desire to see these issues addressed so more and more children can find families.  It is a film I will encourage each and every person to watch.  If you are anywhere near a theater on their tour (see tour itinerary here) I simply ask for you to attend the event and allow God to open your eyes and ears to the desperate need in this world...the need for love.

Until then, may I simply leave you with the trailer to watch...

I'm excited about this new direction my heart has taken regarding "the dreaded question" .  I am thrilled it is not a question I dread anymore.  I am actually quite looking forward to people asking me now.  Just the other day I had a person ask and I beamed as I answered his question with a question of my own.  To hear the question catch him off-guard and have him pause an extra moment was encouraging to me.  Encouraging to me, not because my question caught him off-guard, but because I believe God can use these "pauses" and "extra moments" of silence within our discussions to awaken more hearts towards His desire for us to take care of the orphans of the world.  I enjoyed walking alongside this man for a few moments as he gave the idea of adoption a second thought.  I hope and pray as more people do this, the "second thoughts" will turn into actions and we will see a HUGE, God-made upswing in the stats of adoption this year.  May we all work together to get these beautiful, precious children into the families they deserve and were meant to have no matter how long it takes.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A Calendar and God's Creativeness

We live life in light of the calendar, don't we?  For example, our weeks are composed of 7 days but the calendar is what tells us which of those days are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  Our appointments for the doctor, hair cut, or meeting are scheduled for certain times of certain days and we mark them on our calendar so we don't miss them.  Birthdays would not really be kept track of if it wasn't for calendars to help us know when 365 days had past since the last one.  A calendar has become important to our every day life.

One of the down-sides of a calendar is that we also know how long something is taking when it might be better to simply not know.  This adoption would be one of those examples.  Because we have the ability to track things, we also can become very disappointed when something does not happen within the calendar time frame we have stamped on it.  Just because the calendar says it should have happened, we become annoyed that it has not even though the calendar was a human invention and not how God determines the timing on anything.

Two different things come to my mind when contemplating my own "calendar issues".  First of all comes on the Haiti side of this adoption process.  Our adoption decree is still in the National Archives waiting for a signature of approval so we can move forward to the next office/step in our process.  This last signature is one of 4 we needed in our current "stage" in the legalizations of our decree.  These four signatures are typically obtained, according to the calendar, in 4-8 weeks of time after leaving Parquet court.  We have been given several different emails from our director letting us know her hopes to have our decree in her hand by the end of the week so she could prepare it for MOI (the next stage).  The problem is this has not happened yet despite the various emails...
  • November 25th email from our director: "They are preparing the adoption decree now, hope to have it next week to prepare the paper for MOI. Let's pray."
  • December 18th email from our director: "The lawyer said at the end of this week, we will have the adoption decree. Hope everything will work well to continue the process and send it to MOI."
  • January 11th email from our director: "I am waiting for the attestation of the signature in the Archives.  I hope to have good news next week."
So, here it is February 5th and we still don't have the decree signed by the 4 people and ready to send to MOI.  It is our understanding that most likely our director meant in the first email sent on November 25th that the decree came out of Parquet court to begin the process of getting the four signatures on or around November 30th.  If we mark out on the calendar 4-8 weeks from Nov. 30, we hit anywhere from December 28th-January 25th.  We are now a week and a half past that 8 week date.  But then there is this email sent on December 18th that we do not understand.  Perhaps our decree was not obtained from Parquet court around the Nov. 30th mark as originally told to us in the previous email and so we didn't get out of Parquet until Dec. 21.  If that is the case our 4-8 week mark would be anywhere between January 18th-February 15th, which means we are still within the given typical time frame.  But what really matters is the last email sent on January 11th.  We know according to that email it was in Archives at that point waiting for the last signature.  This signature "should" take 1-2 weeks to obtain.  That would be why our director said she hoped to have it the following week for us.  However, now it is Feb. 5th, 2 1/2 weeks later, and we are still in Archives.  Can you see where calendars make this process all the more complicated and frustrating?  It is something we use to stay sane, but yet when things don't go according to them, it drives us insane!  Ugh.  At any rate, for the Haitian side of our process, we are praying TODAY that the lawyer's heart would be stirred to check in at Archives and find a signed decree ready to be picked up and taken back to our director so she can prepare the rest of the paperwork and get it to MOI as soon as possible!

As frustrating as the calendar is in this journey, it has also been a cool way to see God's Creativeness.  If you remember, there are two sides to this adoption--the Haitian side and the American side--that are happening alongside each other.  So, as mentioned above, on the Haitian side we are currently stuck in Archives.  On the US side, we are waiting for our birth parent interview to be completed.  This birth parent interview was originally scheduled for December 5th.  Nora's birth mom DID come for that interview, but she forgot her ID card so they would not interview her and rescheduled the appointment for February 12th.  I was so disappointed the appointment was scheduled so far out.  I even tried to email them requesting an earlier interview date, but it was denied.  Again I found myself in disappointment, however, as our director said in an email response to my sadness, "God knows why, but we do not. Let's give Him the Glory and be patient as He always asks us. Every time you think about this inconvenience, please Angie, Praise Him because He is in control of this situation."  Yes, God is in control and deserves our Praise no matter what the situation is--He has a plan we do not know!

And now for the Creativeness of our God...

I am a part of a private facebook group of around 600 members connected to a Haitian adoption.  A few weeks ago one woman posted a question that red-flagged me instantly.  She was asking if anyone knew if offices around Haiti would be closed on February 12th due to the Mardi Gras holiday (which is highly celebrated in Haiti).  What!?!?!  I had not even thought of Mardi Gras being a holiday the very day the US Embassy scheduled our interview.  I knew the Embassy honored both American and Haitian holidays so I immediately sent our director an email asking if she thought the office would be closed and if I should be contacting them for a reschedule of our appointment yet again.  She replied that, yes, it would be a good idea to ask them because she assumed they would be closed.  So, I sent off the email asking if they would be open for the scheduled interview on the 12th and if they were going to indeed be closed, if they could give us an earlier appointment time instead.  A few days later they replied with their sincere apologies for scheduling the appointment on a day they were closed for Mardi Gras and rescheduled our appointment for Thursday, February 7th.  Wow!

I was first of all elated we got an earlier appointment date instead of being pushed back another potential 2 months like before.  Secondly, I was amazed at how creative God was in moving our appointment date up earlier when we could not get this to happen on our own.  He loves us so much and is working for our good, friends, even when we do not understand His ways.  He used another person in our group to open my eyes to the holiday issue and used it to show me HE can move the mountains--HE can move the appointments--HE is the One in control of each and every step of this journey and HE will see us through this to the very end.  Praise HIM!

So, even when we think a calendar has everything orderly and under control, God shows up and proves once again He does not work on a calendar type schedule, but He can use it for our good when we give it up and rely on Him instead.  As I take this example on the US side of our adoption and apply it to the Haitian side, I have to remember the same Truth.  Even though we seem "stuck" according to the calendar time line, God is in control and can use anything and everything--even a setback--as a tool to bring about His goodness.

Will you pray for us as we continue to place our adoption in the hands of our loving God whom we TRUST is always in control?  Will you pray that our focus will remain more on trusting Him than on the calendar dates that keep passing by without Nora in our arms?  Will you pray for Nora's birth mom interview to go well this Thursday resulting in one more required part of the process being checked off the list?  Will you pray for our decree to be released from Archives today and picked up to move on in the process?  Will you pray for Nora to be protected and strengthened physically, mentally, and spiritually while we are apart?  We would be grateful for all these prayers.  Thank you, friends, thank you!

One thing that helps when the calendar days pass by is an email with photos of Nora included.  These are the ones we got last night--so sweet and yet so longing, huh.