Saturday, October 24, 2009
Our work has had three rounds of layoffs this year alone. Our benefits have been cut - two holidays a year and our vacation accrual has been capped. I still praise God I have a job, but the task is getting exceedingly more difficult. With morale down and having to fill my boss' shoes now that he was let go, (never mind being 8 months paper-pregnant), and all the Mommy and Wifey stuff I'd rather be doing...it's all too much to take sometimes.
But tonight I rest in God's faithfulness. He never said we wouldn't have hard times. And our hard times are relative. I'm not hungry from lack of food. I'm not cold from no coat, no blanket or no power. I'm not wet from not having shelter. I have everything I need and blessings that abound! I have great friends, an amazing family and a wonderful life. It's just hard sometimes...
Just two years ago, our home was almost consumed by fire in the San Diego wildfires. The home behind us burned to the ground, yet ours was almost untouched! A thin layer of ash - resembling just a little dust was all that we had to clean up inside our home. The outside required a hose, but nothing more. Neighbors were in much worse shape - some lost everything, and some had a home but everything inside was ruined. But God literally posted a hedge of protection around our home and everything was in near-perfect condition.
After 4 years of infertility/miscarriage, I am expecting my adopted baby boy by Christmas!
And after three rounds of deep cuts in staffing this year (and others in previous years), Chris and I both have jobs!
I have many friends that cannot say the same. And many of them know the Lord, but the one thing I know is that God is faithful. He will not allow something to happen that isn't for our good or for our growth. We are to rely on Him, not our own powers. That doesn't mean do nothing, but do everything with petition and prayer!
A week ago, Chris and I were getting some updated medical info for Russia when we go back there to court. One of the things we had to get was a chest x-ray. I told Emily we were going and she asked me if it was the same place we saw the skeleton x-rays hanging from the ceiling last halloween time. It occured to me that we were going to the same radiology lab that we had gone to when we found out about our miscarriage - exactly a year ago! Emily apparently did to because she said, "That's the place we found out about the baby not having a heartbeat."
I knew at that point I couldn't take her with us. While she was at school, Chris and I went to get them done. The same x-ray skeletons were hanging from the ceiling. But this time we were there to get x-rays supporting our adoption. It was a strange feeling. I had to use even the same dressing room as the time before, but this time I knew that no one would be able to give me bad news that day! God redeemed even my radiology experience!
Tomorrow is Saturday, and I am thankful I get to spend some quality time with the family! Emily has a Martial Arts championship, and after, we are going to clean out the closets and get ready for Ivan's arrival. I'm so excited for the days to come.
Speaking of days to come - I'm reminded of my favorite chapter of the bible, Proverbs 31. It exemplifies a woman who does it all - works, starts her own business, feeds and clothes her family (and the poor), and is worth far more than rubies to her husband. I love the passage not just because she's superwoman and can do everything (which is encouraging). I love it because she is so, so faithful to a faithful God. So much so that in verse 25, it says, "She can laugh at the days to come" That's the faith I aspire to achieve. I want to be so secure in my faithful God that I can laugh at the days to come!
Saturday, October 3, 2009
So...I thought I was going to be all calm, cool and collected during this wait. Yes, he's in a great baby house. Yes, he has great caregivers. And yes, he's doing just fine. But I want him home now where he belongs. As the days pass, I am definitely missing him. I think about him more and more.
What troubles me is I've only been home 3 days. I have probably 45 more days before I'll see him and more than 60 before I can go get him!
So, what's a mom to do? Well, I can say with all assuredness I will be nesting. Feathering the nest for his arrival. I have to get my husband to clear out all his stuff from Ivan's bedroom closet. I have to find yet another spot for the treadmill that is tucked in the corner of his room. I have to get a stroller and carseat and clothes! I have to sort through Emily's old toys and put out the age appropriate ones for Ivan. I will be busy, but I just want him home now!
I do know that we are so incredibly blessed to have only started this journey such a short time ago and already have a child match and adoption proceeding! I know that the Lord has had me do most of my waiting prior to this decision to increase our numbers via international adoption. And knowing others who are waiting for years for a healthy baby, our experience is really so short...but it's hard to resist that childlike urge to crawl up in our Heavenly Father's lap and beg Him to please, please bring my baby home quickly!
We have the right and the priveledge to do this (and I have) but we have to be prepared for the Parental answer -
You are waiting because the wait is good for you.
Just like we tell our children, God wants to teach us that every good and perfect gift comes from Him and comes in His timing. And believe me, His timing is always perfect! It doesn't mean we can't ask, but it does mean that when do we ask, that we are driven by the desires of His heart and not those of our own. If God shows us that our desires don't align with His, then we must accept that and be obedient.
I can be patient, but if the Lord wills for this adoption to proceed more quickly, I'm fine with that too! :)
Day 2 with Ivan was a magical day! We got up very early and had a leisurely breakfast at the hotel. We also spent much time in prayer about confirmation. We knew this was the child God had for us, but we were a little concerned. This is a huge decision, and although there was some positive reactions to his environment the first day, (and it was such a short time together) we just wanted to be sure that as we left, we were making the right choice!
God answered all of our prayers!
We went to our morning visit, and it was just one translator, Nastia, Chris and me. We were able to see more clearly his little personality. I asked if I could strip him down to see his feet. I think I mentioned that they overdress the babies. He had on the cutest little dress slacks, turquoise green tights and sandals. I just love baby feet, and I heard that rubbing their feet is a great way to bond. So we took off all the layers and finally got to those little stubby feet! My daughter had the fattest little sausages, and Ivan did too! :) So I started tickling his little feet and he was delighted!!! He laughed huge laughs! He loved it! It was great to see him be so free! He was more into walking around on this visit too. He didn't want to walk to Chris much, but he would walk to me, and just as I was about to grab him up, he would spin around 180 degrees and plop down in my lap. So cute! And if that wasn't enough, this child who never said anything to us yet, looked right at Chris and said, "Da Da"! Now, they say Papi for Daddy, and so we know it was a fluke, but we're claiming it anyway!
Chris brought his iPhone and played some music for Ivan. We heard he liked music and liked to dance. I'm telling you, it was so cute watching Chris play this music and sing worship songs to Ivan.
Then we had to leave and go back to the hotel for a bit before the second visit. We went back and met with Jane our translator to settle up payments of the first trip and get all the information we need for subsequent trips to finalize the adoption. A lot of information for sure. Jane was so good and patient with us. We brought a photo album with pictures of Emily, Chris and me for his care givers to show to Ivan. Jane wrote little subtitles in Russian so that his caregivers could tell him, "This is your sister Emily waiting for you" and "This is your Mami and Papi".
We then left soon after for our second trip to the baby house. On the way we stopped to get flowers for the director. She was delighted! We brought some other toys and clothes for Ivan. She said she would keep the clothes separate and dress him in them when we arrive to take him home. Then she asked if we would be okay taking him outside since it was his walking time. We said sure! It would be great to see him outside.
I'm so glad we got this experience. They brought him to us, and he was dressed up like the Michelin Tire Man! I mentioned that they overdress the babies, and he had a lot of layers on. I thought at first, there was no way he could walk in all this! We were concerned that he couldn't walk well on his own. We'd only seen him go small distances inside. At first, he did stumble a bit. I attribute most of it to his shoes being about 2 sizes too small. When we got him outside, he was running! He led me all over the grounds. He is all boy. He would fall to the ground and laugh! And he kept wanting to put rocks and dirt in his mouth! :) He was also so trusting. I would hold him and he would arch his back, go completely limp, and then laugh. I thought that was amazing to be so vulnerable!
We also got a glimpse at his caregivers. He absolutely loves them! One of them was outside and he would wave to her and run after her! She loved him so much, you could tell. It was really great to see. One of the things I had prayed for is that he was favored by his caregivers, so that he could receive love from us more easily. And that is apparently the case. In fact, every care giver or doctor that walked by him stopped to kiss him, or make him laugh. It made it easier to leave knowing that he is well cared for and loved. I did cry a little when we left, but really I felt so secure. They are going to take such great care of him I know! And I know they are excited for him to have a hope of a future.
Being home now, it is more sad to know we have to wait 6-8 weeks to get him home, but I know the time will fly. We will have to go back two more times. One for court, and one to bring him home. Can't wait for that glorious day!
Monday, September 28, 2009
Today was a wonderful, tiring, emotional day. Today was the day we met Ivan! Of course, it is such a flood of emotions, and being a bit jetlagged, and a bit carsick from the driving, I can just praise God that He gave us the strength to get through it!
Today started out very relaxing. We go about 7 decent hours of sleep and had a leasurely morning. There was a wonderful buffet at the hotel. We ate to our heart''s content, and we brought back some small sandwiches made of meat and cheese from the buffet to have for lunch. So glad we did that! It was a long day before we were able to eat again - about 4pm! But it was a nice snack prior to dinner.
We then met up with our coordinators and the other family to head over to the Ministry of Education. We had to meet with a Psychologist and the Minister of Education. The other couple went first, and Chris and I waited for about an hour and a half in the waiting area. The psychologist conducted a two hour interview of us, about our parenting styles, discipline methods and time management. She was very happy with our "method of parenting" and said we will be very successful with adopting a second child. We also had some psychological evaluations using colors, drawing pictures and interpreting pictures. A long process! Then we were quickly ushered over to the Minister of Education and interviewed briefly. We were expecting a long interview, but they were worried we wouldn't have a good opportunity to meet the child since the day was already going so long. So luckily she only asked a few questions, and offered us Ivan! YEA!
Then we literally ran out of the office, jumped in the car and raced over to the orphanage. It was already 1:30pm and we only had until 3pm with the child, so time was important. They were telling us that normally we hear the complete medical report when we get there, but since time is so short, they will ask if we can just see the child, and our coordinators will write all the important info down for us. We got there and went straight away into a playroom. They asked we take our shoes off to keep their floors clean. We had two translators and our adoption coordinator with us. We were joined in the room by the Lawyer for the orphanage, another legal council person and the Head Doctor. Then the neurologist came in, and then finally Ivan! He came in walking holding a finger of his primary caretaker. She described him as very active, but very kind hearted. Not aggressive at all. Has a full range or emotions, but very happy most of the time. Wears a diaper for bed and nap. (I was told that diapers are expensive, so as soon as they are able to sit up they put them on a pot and certain parts of the day (after waking up, after breakfast, etc.) When he first came in, I think it surprised him to see so many adults! And then there was these two strangers who spoke a completely different language. We came up to him on the floor and his little eyes welled up with tears. Broke my heart a little, but I was happy because our Doctor told us that even tears can be a good sign that he is reacting to his environment. So Chris held him a little. Then I picked him up and walked with him. He seemed to like this and the tears receded. Then I put him on my lap and bounced him a little. I pulled his arms out and he started smiling! That was the second thing my Dr. said was so important was any positive emotional reaction to his surroundings. I was at peace at that point. Chris was concerned a little more about his mouth always being open. Always open! I wasn't worried - thinking really it was okay because he is teething and drooling a lot from that. But the psychologist mentioned that he explores his whole world through his mouth first...
We were told he was diagnosed with a hearing impairment at some point. He had many ear infections early on, and they now think that was the cause of temporary hearing loss. Today, they believe his hearing is perfect, but for a few months, it wasn't. And that causes them to compensate in different ways. This orphanage has a rehabilitation program to deal with different types of developmental delays, and this one tried different things to envoke positive emotions and reactions to different situations. The psychologist believes that in order to explore his world with sub-optimal hearing, he depended on his oral senses to learn. So everything went into his mouth. We noticed this today too. The camera and the elephant went in his mouth. But every specialist says this will be no problem once he is home and receiving lots of love and attention.
We also had him just before his naptime, so he was getting tired at the end of the meeting. He just cuddled up and buried his little head in my chest and clung on to my arms with his hands. It felt so nice! I was also very happy about this, because many institutionalized children don't receive affection well, because they aren't used to it. He seemed to crave it!
Then I had to give him up to one of the workers. It was hard, but I knew we'd be coming back tomorrow. So I handed him over and we left for the hotel.
Tonight we met with our coordinator, and she gave us lots of information from the orphanage. But she didn't want to overwhelm us, so she put off most of it for tomorrow. We going to get to see him between 9-10am tomorrow and then again from 1:30-3:00pm. She suggested we bring the Orphanage Head Doctor some flowers since it is her birthday tomorrow. We also mentioned we'd like to bring a gift of supplies as well.
Well, I better head to bed, I have to get up in 5 hours for another long day!
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Tonight I cannot sleep. But I don't think it's the baby that has me restless. I think it's the trip. Today I had to go to the bank and get cash, which was harder than you might expect, becuase the Russians won't accept any american money that has a spot or blemish. So I spent almost an hour looking over $100 bills with two tellers saying, "This one is too folded", "This one is too old", "This one has a stamp on the back", etc. So stressful! Then the fam and I went to the mall to look at travel accessories (a nice daypack, a money belt, etc) to keep our personal belongings safe while abroad. Now my mind is swirling with plans and preparations...Did I get enough cash? What clothes should I pack? What do I bring the baby? Will I have all the right paperwork? Will our visas return on time? What if I forget copies of important papers? Did I order enough pre-packaged food for the trip? Will I leave enough info on Emily for Grandpa and Grandma to take care of her???
But, I know in my heart that I am not called to worry. When it comes to food and clothes, consider the birds and the lillies...Does my God not care more about me than the birds and flowers??? When it comes to my preparation, am I not trusting that God will prompt me to be prepared?
I say this not in a beat-myself-up sort of way, but rather in a remember-that-God-is-in-control-and-not-me sort of way. I need to remember that God has taken care of every detail so far, and he is not going to let me fail now. As long as I remain diligent as an ant. Yes, an ant.
6 Go to the ant, you sluggard!
Consider her ways and be wise,
7 Which, having no captain,
Overseer or ruler,
8 Provides her supplies in the summer,
And gathers her food in the harvest.
I will reap the benefits by remaining diligent. My harvest will be the completion of my heart!
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Do you run?
Have you been out to play in the sun?
When you drink your milk does it dribble down your chin?
Or do you keep it all in?
Do you have a favorite toy?
Do they tell you you’re a good boy?
Do you sleep with a blanket or do you wiggle out of your swaddle?
Do you cry because there isn’t enough in your bottle?
Will you let me hold you when I get there?
Will you look in my eyes…touch my face…pull on my hair?
Is your heart soft and able to feel
Small emotions so real?
Or if it’s hard…will it soften?
Will the short life you’ve had be remembered or forgotten?
Will you embrace a whole new life?
I can make no promise that it will be without strife
But I will pray for you each day
As I do now, each day I pray
That you would accept
…a new land
…a new language
…a new home
…a new family
And the God I love who ordered every step of our journey
As I prepare to come meet you, I look back at the path I took
And from the second I saw your face, I knew at first look
That God made you for me;
You were created to complete our family
And I loved you before you ever were
And I’ll love you forever and ever
My precious son.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
This trip is very short - we will only be gone about 4 1/2 days! We will be traveling for half of it, and from what I hear, we will be rushing for the other half. We don't completely know what to expect, except to know it will be the adventure of a lifetime.
I praise God for is goodness and amazing orchestration of the whole process. When I sit back and reflect upon every twist and turn, every single act of this process, His fingerprints are left upon every tiniest detail! I am trusting Him now to help us complete the process, and funds are something that are dwindling away here at the end! I'm not sure how God is going to make it all work, but I am confident that He will!
Thursday, August 27, 2009
What is the next step??? Well, have accepted the referral, and now our dossier is being registered in that region of Russia. As soon as that is complete we will receive a travel date. We expect to be going to see him in as soon as 3 weeks!!!
Please continue to pray that all goes smoothly in this process. It has been emotionally draining, logistically difficult and also a huge financial burden...but it all seemed like nothing when we saw that sweet picture above. So your prayers are much appreciated! Feel free to leave comments on the site. I'd love to hear your encouraging words!
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Chris and I have completed the homestudy!!! I have an inch-tall stack of photocopied documents that went into this process. We had a 3 hour interview with the Social Worker. We had 10 credit hours of classes (which took us probably closer to 30 to complete) and we had people all over the country writing letters on our behalf...and it all boils down to a 6 page report. Our whole life, all three of us - in 6 pages. Wow! Have I never felt so insignificant! :)
Finally when the report is finished, we kept our momentum going so that we could finish our dossier just as quickly. Well, here we are nearly a month later, and we're still working on it. I have learned some valuable lessons...first, the enemy will interfere with God's good work. No matter what you do, Satan is there to frustrate you, to make you want to give up and stand up road blocks to keep your pace going. If he make you feel that you can't handle something, can't persevere through something or can't tolerate something, he can keep you from God's blessings and diminish your faith. The dossier is much more tricky, because there are probably between 80-100 documents, and the Russians are extremely particular! Even the abbreviation of a state can completely invalidate a dossier document! We must practice extreme patience with this process!
I had a situation with my CPA... well, what was my CPA. I had them prepare my taxes from 2005 to 2007, but I did our own in 2008. I needed a CPA to certify our assets - or really just state that I certify that these are our assets. I contacted them, and they told me in no uncertain terms that since I did not use them last year, they would not do this for me. I was appalled! There was no, "Well, it will cost this much" or "Let's see what you have and we'll let you know if we can help you" It was just "No". Well, after I let them know in no uncertain terms that they have lost this customer for life, I felt so rejected and angry! But God provided another way, a connection to a childhood friend that said he would take care of it for us.
Second, many, many things are out of your control. There are documents that you take extreme care with, have notarized, and then send off to some third party, and trust that they will provide you the proper information in a timely fashion. Some documents have taken weeks to return! Some we are still waiting on. Others returned to us very quickly. But the bottom line is that we cannot worry for the things about which we have no control. I have experienced a lot of stress in getting the forms from our Doctors completed. I have to bring a notary, I have to convince them to write letters (on the spot) and I have to trust that they will have their medical license with them, and also trust that the medical license does not expire within 6 months! I was able to mitigate some of this by social engineering some letterhead from a doctor's nurse for these letters so I could draft them on their behalf ahead of time, but the front office is so trained to "protect" the doctors, that getting a question answered like "When does the Doctor's medical license expire" is almost impossible!
All this leads to the third lesson - All things through prayer and petition! I was trying to complete all these things on my own. Getting rather pious with my husband about the tasks I would delegate to him. Ride heard on everything and worry about the events to come. But I am learning that God knows the timing and we must one - trust that if we have a roadblock, there may be a reason for it and two - we need to be praying to keep the enemy attacks down and for discernment about which roadblocks are attacks and which are of God. I realize now that we are close to the end of the waiting list, God wants to match us to the perfect child for us! He already knows who that is, and a little longer wait or a little push to get things through will divinely line us up with that perfect gift.
Our dossier is almost complete. I am praying that we will have everything by next week done that we can do, and that everything that we can't do will fall into place by the end of August. Our next step is a baby referral and a whirlwind trip to Russia to meet the precious baby!
Romans 12:12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Friday, July 3, 2009
Most of what we learned was common sense parenting. So some of it is well, boring. But we keep reminding ourselves that many people adopting (and therefore, taking these courses) are going to be parents for the very first time! Also, they may be older and not in circles of children. And adopting a child, especially an international adoption, usually means the child is not a newborn infant. They have a life, a past, a history that did not include you as parent from the beginning. They may already be crawling, talking or walking. Some children may have even started school.
But in our case, the baby will likely be between 8-18 months old. The important thing for us to take away is that our new addition will always carry the adoption just like my daughter carries blonde hair and blue eyes - as a trait and a defining part of his being.
The courses all highly encourage us to create a "Lifebook". A Lifebook is not a baby book or a scrapbook, although the outward appearance is similar. The Lifebook is to contain any and all information we can find about the child, both pre and post-adoption. Who are their parents? Why were they adopted? Was there abuse? Who took care of him? What is the country like where he's from? How did I feel when I first saw him? Even if we cannot find a single piece of information on the birthparents or the baby's story, we are to find some significant thing - even if it's just something as simple as a leaf from a tree outside the orphanage he is from. His story is to be detailed and the book should be accessible to the child at all times. We are to add to the book and give the child complete ownership over it. It is theirs to help them define themselves as their life goes on.
So I start to think...a Lifebook...Only the adopted get the Lifebook. Emily doesn't get one, because she was not adopted...or was she??? The more I thought about it, I realized she was actually bought, with a price...by God through His son Jesus. The Lifebook is very akin to the story of redemption, and the story of our being sinners, lost in the world, coming to Jesus and accepting Him as our Lord and Savior and then how our life changes once the Holy Spirit begins to do a work in us. We are adopted by God - the perfect father. We are chastened and prayed for by the Holy Spirit - the perfect Mother. We are loved so much by Jesus - the perfect sibling and friend. The love of God is enough to heal all our wounds from our Earthly parents and Earthly life. I think I have a lot of Lifebooks to start working on! Now I think we all have a Lifebook - a story. My newest baby will have two!!!
We are half-way through the credit hours as of tonight. We hope to be all done by next week. I pray that you take the time to at least think back about your story. And if you are so moved to do so, make your own Lifebook! After all, you were paid for at an enormous price! Much more than anyone could afford.
I think that's it! I have been so apprehensive about money lately. And I know that the Lord is going to have to make some sort of miracle happen near the end of this adoption just to show me He is in complete control and I am supposed to just trust. But I think He is reminding me that the cost of our baby adoption is so great - great just like the cost of my own adoption. It was only possible because He is on the throne and can make anything happen. Therefore, I should be resting that we may not be able to pay this adoption on our own, but that He will provide the way for the funding to be there when we need it! Praise God for his provision and blessings!
Good night all...Blessed dreams!
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Last Thursday I paid the Agency Fee for the adoption. A heafty sum of money - enough to feel like there is no backing out now! I am so thankful for God's peace that surpasses my understanding! Every morning I awake with this peace. As the day goes on, I do tend to get more apprehensive - money, time, chores, work, even telling this surreal adoption story to someone - I get anxious and start to second guess. But God is so faithful to clear the slate every morning and renew my peace! I know it's the right thing and God's will. But why is God's will so hard sometimes? Even when we know the blessings are so amazing!
We went on a camping trip this weekend in the mountains, and I was lulled asleep and awake by some awesome noises of God's creation - I washed dishes alongside some wild turkeys eating the grass in the meadow. I mountain biked next to grazing cows. I watched hawks circle overhead and awoke to woodpeckers right outside our tent. I even watched a squirrel eat a hole in our trash and escape with a banana peel. I didn't even scare him away - I just watched. It was an amazing weekend of enjoying our Wild God! Huge trees, canyons, and mountains with skies filled with birds of prey, side by side with small lakes and gentle meadows filled with butterflies.
My husband reminded me that we serve a God with wild heart, and that he loves to watch us be bold in His world! It renewes my faith that God loves the fact that we are going to travel half way around the world to a once hostile land to take in an "orphan" that, in Russia, is barely considered to be human. These children will carry the "orphan" label with them their entire life and always be treated as one of the lowest civilized classes. We will be entering enemy territory - as many Russians believe that the only reason someone would want one of their orphans would be to sell it's body parts or use as a slave.
I already love this baby as if I carried it, and I haven't even seen a picture. But it is enough for me to know that God knows the number of hairs on his head and I pray is putting a new song in his heart right now.
Don't worry little one - we are coming for you! But be prepared for a wild life - full of adventure, passion and love!
Friday, June 12, 2009
Jesus himself tells us that praying in His name he will grant us the desires of our heart! Sometimes - like little children, we don't like the gift wrap the gift is delivered in. There are some beautiful packages with delicate bows and ribbons, thick satiny paper and elaborate tags. Almost like Alice in Wonderland where the cookies say "Eat Me" and the bottles say "Drink Me". We have no idea what's inside or what it will do to us, but we are enticed by the package. Satan loves to give us beautiful packages to unwrap. Once we choose one of these packages, the others seem to fade away. The one wrapped in comic strip paper or leftover grocery sacks hold the real treasures, but we can't get passed the wrapping!
This was part of the revelation I had in my decision. God has obviously taken away my ability to conceive or carry a baby to term - for a season. And it has taught me much about humility! But then the Lord presented two gifts - adoption or surrogacy. He said, "Look over the wrapped packages very well. Feel how heavy they are. See how beautiful they look. And then choose." I was enticed by the surrogacy package. A baby that is physically ours! Our flesh and blood. Our genetic makeup. Easy to relate to. "That's your dad!" or "That's your mom!" "She's got my eyes" or "He's got his daddy's smile" - just like we do with our precious child now! But then I picked up the adoption gift. This baby is not me...not Chris! We played no part in this child's life yet. But yet when I held the package for the adoption gift, and held it up to my chest, it fit right inside the void perfectly! How much better is a child that God created and then gives to us! When we have nothing to do with it at all! God is not limited to our gene pool. He could pick anything he desired to bless upon our family!
And the scales tipped...
Now we are full steam ahead! We attended an informative session at an agency recommended by a friend from work who adopted her son from Russia. They were absolutely a top notch company! Full of information! We had really been thinking about Africa or China to adopt, but Russia seems to be a better fit for us and our family. For the past week we have been acquiring and filling out paperwork. Next week is our homestudy interviews and Doctor Appts (and more paperwork!) But none of that bothers me. I have such peace and excitement about this process. I am praying that I don't need to learn any patience! That God knows what child he wants us to have already and that nothing would stand in our path for bringing home that precious one!
The hardest part is deciding what choices to make! My paperwork required us to choose boy or girl. Emily has prayed for a baby sister for about 3 years, but she also wouldn't mind a baby brother. Chris and I had also really wanted another girl. But I had a prophetic dream that an Eagle came down to me with a scroll. I unfurled the scroll, and written on it was the name of our child. I couldn't read the name, but I knew it was a boy name. I was so shocked, even in my dream, and I couldn't get it out of my head. So we changed our paperwork to select boy or girl. If there's one thing I learned it's that I don't want to miss out on one more blessing God has in store for us, so I will let him choose! :) Boy referrals come before girl ones (Currently, baby girls in Russia are in higher demand than boys.)
Please pray for us as we go through the process. I'd love to hear your kind words of encouragement. I'm sure the whole process won't be easy, but I do pray that it will bring much glory to God!
Thursday, May 14, 2009
I have yet again taken on more than I can probably handle, but the smell in my kitchen right now makes it all worth while! An old friend from High School with whom I reconnected with via Facebook is quite the foodie. She started a bread baking challenge to bake our way through The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread and I signed up for the task. We are talking about a year of bread baking! 43 loaves if I only do one variation of each. The challenge will consume the better part of a year!
Well, my first bread, called Anadama Bread, came out of the oven about 17 minutes ago. Yes, it's midnight, but I'm contemplating staying up to slice into one of these beauties, because the smell is absolutely overwhelmingly yummy! I cannot believe how glorious they look!
See for yourself! Take a look at my and others photos at our Flickr site. My name is ladygustafson so you'll be able to find all my photos. Bon Appetit!
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Romans 5:3 (King James Version)
3And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
and who wants more tribulations! This road of infertility has lead to a great lesson in patience. I'm an only child. I may not be the stereotypical spoiled brat, but I do have great expectations and being patient isn't at the top of my list. I have had very little patience in my life. I want something done immediately. I'm top of the heap! I'm the only one. I had a mom and dad that sacrificed a lot to make me happy. And I had no model for waiting on the Lord and praying. I was told things like, "YOU can do it," "YOU can make it happen," and "YOU are in charge of your destiny!" So I did work hard. I did well in school and my career. And sometimes I would achieve greatness - and sometimes I didn't. And was I quick to complain! "Bill is making more than me - yet I am more qualified!" "I didn't get promoted! I demand to know what it takes to reach the next level. I will do it!" and "I didn't get as big a raise as Heather! What is the problem? Where do I need to improve." A vicious cycle of comparing myself to ambiguous standards and demanding more. More responsibility. More work. More time. More travel. Whatever it takes to be recognized as elite. And by God it was all about me!
Well, isn't the Lord cute. He put me in situation after situation like that. In school, there was always one person better than me! Dating - boy did I kiss a lot of frogs trying to find my prince. On the job, I would work hard, but I was slow to promote and slow to advance. Of course I had years where I did very well, but the reward was soured by the wait! All goals were achieved, but I always let the rough road of the journey spoil the achievement.
I had always planned to be a PhD. I wasn't sure in what, but I was sure I wanted to teach college. So I pursue my bachelors and go immediately into grad school. Now that seems noble, but I actually was so frightened to enter the workforce full-time that what may seem ambitious to some was actually my way of staying safe - attending school was safe for me! Well, I finished my Master's degree and decided that maybe I couldn't take several more Indiana winters. I decided to throw in the towel and face the dreaded "career" part of my life. I got a job and started working as an engineer. But for years, when recanting my life story, I would say, "I went to grad school, quit and came to work." I realized years later, I never even mentioned that I did receive my Masters of Engineering! I never claimed the prize I did obtain because I fell short of my goal of PhD!
I do it all! I want to be in control of my home, bills, laundry, my family's needs, meals, arrangements, activities, vacations, weekend plans, etc. I tend to take on so much that I have a friend who calls me "The Amazing Andrea" and promises that one day she'll make me a cape!
And then there was my fertility. I assumed like anything else I would be able to plan it out, and achieve the goal! I got married and within 6 months we began to work on being pregnant. Well, that was a process that took 9 months. Much longer than I expected. When Emily was born healthy (although I didn't have the best pregnancy) I assumed that having number 2 would take a while, but not too long. Well, here we are. Emily is almost 6, and we are not there. I should have bought stock in EPT with as many pregnancy tests and ovulation predictor kits as I have bought. I would read pregnancy and conception websites incessantly during the TWW (two week wait.) I would mark temperatures every day, worrying over each .01 degree! And all it did was add stress to my life - affecting my husband, my work, and the child I do have!
God is so good. He has shown me now that the girl who peeked at every Christmas present could now wait days after the holiday to find out what's in the box. He has taught me that all blessings come from Him and how amazing they are! He has made me able to see the greatness in my achievements because they are with his help, and he is showing me how every blessing can bring Him glory!
Romans 5:4 and 5 goes on to say...
4And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
5And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
The hope is the goal. Patience is the tool. If we have patience, we have hope! Patience in other more modern translations is worded as "perseverance!" To persevere means to overcome adversity! Funny how hope plays into that as well! If we have patience we can endure the trail, persevere with hope and enjoy the success and the fruit as a gift from the Lord!
I do pray still for that second baby. In whatever shape or form. From my womb, my genes or someone else's, I know that God will help me to remain patient, and persevere! And best of all, enjoy the blessing as it will bring me joy and bring glory to God!
Yes, not that I'm not busy enough. A friend of mine from high school is quite a foodie, and I am joining her challenge - to bake our way through the book, The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread by Peter Reinhart. 50 loaves at a rate of one per week. It will be a crazy time, and I'll be blogging about the experience here!
Wow, what has happened! My last blog was so long ago. Emily has been skiing twice - once in Big Bear and once in Idaho. We went to Idaho to visit Chris' grandma. Emily has been doing great in Martial Arts as well. She is advancing quite rapidly! She is doing so well in Kindergarten! She's reading books! Real books - not just Dick and Jane types of books. Probably easily a first or second grade reading level. We are so proud of her. She has also completed her AWANA studies (bible verses) and the extra credit book about 4 weeks early.
Chris fulfilled a life long dream. We are Harley Davidson owners! He got his license, and bought a Harley Sportster. He is loving it...me too! I actually got my permit and am planning to take a class to get my license as well. Chris also finished DCO school last week in Rhode Island, and was recently promoted to Lieutenant.
I am working on my infertility blog - I believe that the Lord is using my story for encouragement to others. We are also planning on starting a home fellowship bible study soon in our home. So I have been (with the help of my dear mother-in-love Nanci) decluttering the house and trying to live a little more simply!
So much on the calendar for this summer. Em and I are going to Indiana to visit friends. Then later we are all going to visit my mom in Grand Forks, ND. In november we are going to Maui (thanks to Uncle Stu and Aunt Dar for the condo!) So much fun I hope.
I will try to be better about posting more often. Check out my infertility blog http://www.myquiverisnotfull.blogspot.com/, my facebook "Andrea Renee Johnson Gustafson" and follow me on Twitter (ladygustafson) as I tweet about my side business - going green with Melaleuca!
Friday, April 24, 2009
Then we talked about heavier subjects - what if multiple fetuses take? What if they split? Would we down-select them? (The parts that are so hard to think about, nonetheless discuss) We appear to be on the same page there too! We talked about how our families need to spend more time together. We talked about how our girls (she has two girls, we have one) would feel about her carrying a baby and us taking it home! We talked about what would happen to the unborn baby if Chris and I passed away (or at least that we have to figure it out), which got them thinking about their own life and families. There's so many things to consider! So many things to do!
Lots of time in prayer are getting us through this time! God always seems to bless my steps when I step out in prayer and action. Having a goal is important, but remembering it's His ultimate plan and we have no idea what will happen helps thwart heartache and disappointment along the way.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
In her interview she also asked for everyone to remember the brave Polish families that took in the Jewish children, risking their own lives every hour of the day from being discovered. And then again when the war ended and efforts were made to reunite these children with their Jewish families, the pain and anguish they must have felt to give up those children they loved for so many years.
I am a mom, and I cannot even imagine the heartache these mothers must endure every day! I do know that the suffering I feel from being unable to have another child is nothing compared to what these mothers of past and present are doing for their own children. There are desparate parents in the world that don't know what to do. They don't know who to trust. I know the heartache I feel is why the Lord has given our family the desire to look into international adoption. I don't know if I would be brave enough to do what Irena did, but I pray that God would use our family to make a difference.
International adoption may not be your calling, but there are practical things you can do. Samaritans Purse and other organizations have programs to which you can provide financial assistance, to help prevent human trafficing and rescue and rehabilitation of children in the sex trade. If you know a missionary or missionary organization, support them. Make sure you do your due dilligence and throroughly check out the organization you wish to support (we are called to be good stewards of what the Lord has provided). And pray that your gift would bless a child and their family.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
(Eccl 4:9-12) Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help. Again, if two lie together, they keep warm; but how can one keep warm alone? And though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.
I am considered by most to be pretty outgoing. I'm a say-what's-on-my-mind kind of person. (Yet still working on that whole running my thoughts through the filter of the Holy Spirit before they come flying out of my mouth thing!) But since I work and live in the world, I still had a lot of friends of the world, and didn't have a large Christian community to which to turn in the troubled times. I did a few women's bible studies, but I wasn't developing strong friendships. Of course, since I am the extrovert, my husband is the introvert, and he would practically run me out of church to the car to be the first out of the parking lot and avoid what he called the "F-word" - FELLOWSHIPPING!
We started to recognize that we did need a community of believers in our lives - to balance the time we spend in the world in our day to day lives. My husband and I made a concious decision to get involved with a small group at our church focused on marriage. We started meeting people, young and old, who could share their experiences and minister to the needs of our marriage. Out of that group, a friend and I started a women's group. This is a real ecclectic group of ladies where we can really get real together. We have experienced marriages thrive and marriages end. We have seen babies be born to ladies in the group and babies be taken from the womb. We have watched careers thrive and careers end in lay-offs. We have seen great health and we have seen extreme physical conditions and pain. We have met each other's moms and dads and had to deal with the problems of aging parents - physical ailments and mental ailments. We have survived natural disasters and are working together to get emergency kits in everyone's homes and cars. Our studies tend to go very slowly...but that's because there is a lot of bearing and sharing happening!
One time when I found out I was pregnant, I sent all the ladies a picture of my postitive home pregnancy test! My friend Sharyn said, "I can't belive I'm looking at your pee on my computer screen!" But we rejoiced together. I knew I was blessed to have a great group of ladies praying with me and for me. But it sure came to it's fullness when I lost that baby. I would email out updates - First happy news - "Ultrasound appointment today! Pray for great news!" to bad news "The technician and the Dr. can't find a heartbeat. Pray for a miracle." to no news. No news because I was too emotionally wrecked to write. Too emotionally wrecked to pray! All I could do was cry for days. They emailed encouragement. They sent cards. Their family members whom some I never met sent cards! They brought food. And they prayed and interceeded on my behalf when I couldn't!
You will still go through the valleys, but the difference is when you have a strong relationship with the Lord, and a supportive community, your stay is much shorter. Within a weeks time, I could praise God again. I thank God for those ladies, because their prayers were answered to bring me through it!
Make sure you aren't alone in your journey. Ecclesiastes talks about two being better than one and gives many practial expamples, but then it ends with the "three-fold cord". Wait, I thought two was better than one...how is that three? Jesus said in Matthew 18:20 For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them. When you have a friend who's a believer, Jesus is the third-fold in the cord. And there lies the power to overcome any trial or adversity!
Monday, April 13, 2009
I never considered any other way to have a baby other than the "right" way. Intercourse with my husband. Until just recently I've been known to say things like, "At least I have one perfect child. If that's all I ever have, that's okay with me." I would have never considered adoption because for one, I wanted my "own" child, and two, I have seen some adoptions go awry, and I know I couldn't deal with that (or didn't want to deal with it). I never would have considered surrogacy, because I would not want to "play God" with all the embryo decisions.
Children are a blessing and a gift from the Lord. That is for sure. But God also puts desires in your heart, and glimpses of what the blessings he has in store for you. I prayed for God to take the desire to have another baby away from me. And there are days I am ambivelent. (I thank the enemy for those days) But there are days when the desire is so strong, I could weap!
What I have learned since I became a Christian is that every blessing has at least two purposes. Every blessing has the purpose to, well bless you. But there is something we usually need to do, accept, challenge or lose along the way. And that is because every blessing also has the purpose to make us more like Christ. Usually, because we are human, we learn more in the painful times than we do in the blessed times. If everything were handed to us, how could God see our growth? How could we see our growth? It has been such a huge blessing to me alone to see how far I have come and changed since I became a believer.
All this to say that your infertility is an issue between you, your spouse and God. No one else. When well-meaning people in your life try to tell you all the reasons why you shouldn't seek a test or treatment to track your reasons for infertility/miscarriage or to become pregnant, you need to remember that it is not up to them. You need to do what you and your spouse together feel is right in the eyes of God in your situation. And God is so good! I think that when I was saying those things, the timing wasn't right for me. But now God is saying, "Pray, seek information and come back to Me so we can chat."
When I suffered my miscarriage at 10 weeks I recieved some great advice from a prayer-warrior friend of mine. She said, "You must have a lot of grace with people, especially Christians. They are going to say some things to you that will sound really stupid. But they don't mean to hurt you. Have a lot of grace with them." This is my advice to you - Seek the Lord continually in your situation, and have a lot of grace with those well meaning "dogs" in your life.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
I had three miscarriages in the past year. Two were very early, and I had one at 10 weeks of pregnancy. We had already told my daughter and she was very involved tracking the pregnancy every day. We took her out of school for the first ultrasound, and the technician couldn't find a heartbeat. It made no sense because the baby's measurements all measured to be exactly the right age - to the day! We prayed for a miracle! Jesus had brought the little girl back to life. He had raised Lazarus from the dead. He could make that baby's heart start beating! But He didn't. 5 days later I miscarried. This week would have been my 37th week of pregnancy with that baby.
I should have been at Easter service very fat and very uncomfortable! But God is reaffirming in me that he has a plan for me to prosper and a plan to deliver the desires of my heart. What He expects from me is my devotion, and time with Him. God wants our time. He is more than the God of good parking spaces. He is a jealous God and he doesn't need us to only come to Him with petty requests. He wants to weep with me, laugh with me, stand with me when I'm strong and carry me when I'm weak.
I was working so hard at having a baby and a few weeks ago I was reading about Abraham. God asked Abraham to sacrifice Issac. So many things...Abraham and Sarah were OLD! His seed was to be passed down through Issac! Issac's decendents were to outnumber the stars in the sky! But Abraham was asked to sacrifice him and he obeyed. God did not require him to actually go through with it, but God was able to see Abraham's heart. The angel came and stopped him. God asked the same of me a few weeks ago. He asked me to sacrifice my child. Not my physical child, but the child I was so desprate to have. He made it clear to me that I may or may not have a role in the "creation" of our next child! He has placed a few alternatives in our path - adoption and surrogacy. He wanted to prompt me to pray over these things and help me to recognize how my pride may be getting in the way of His blessings! Ouch! He clearly spoke to me, "I may be creating your child right now, and you don't have anything to do with it." Clomid, temperatures, cervical fluid tracking, ovulation predictor kits and all the rest will not in themselves make a baby. Ultimately it's God that makes the life.
Easter is the holdiay where we can rejoice that we have a Savior, a Great Resurrector and a Lover of our souls! He loves us more than we love our children. More than our earthly parents love us! When the Marys arrived at the tomb on the original Easter, the Angel said, "Do not be afraid!" Becuase Jesus is alive and headed to Galillee just like he had promised! So don't be afraid of anything! God wants to delight us! We are His children. Have hope in Him today that he can heal you, and that he wants to bless you! Everyone's journey is different and He has different blessings for everyone. Be encouraged and set aside time for Him to tell you what he has in store for you!
Friday, April 10, 2009
I had a dream that involved my kidnapping and the murder of my betrothed. Due to the help of sympathetic servants, I was able to escape from my kidnapper and a spectacular city to a barren land. All I was able to leave with was a small bag that contained a bible and a journal.
Just yesterday, the Lord opened my eyes to the significance of the barren land. It was my barren life! My womb was closed, and I was to be praying, seeking God's word and writing about it. I don't know if it was closed by God (like Hannah) or closed by the enemy and allowed by God (like Job), but God was forwarning me that it had come. At the time I had the dream, we weren't yet seeking another child, so I did not understand the significance.
I had recently decided that I don't want to miss out on any more of the Lord's blessings, and that I need to be in obedience to him. As I recant the past years of infertility and miscarriage and our current journeys of exploration I pray that you are encouraged and find the longing to rely on the Lord for your fulfilllment!
Monday, February 2, 2009
Thursday, January 1, 2009
We rang in the new year with some friends. The kids put on a puppet show (Goldilocks and the three bears) and the grownups worked on the 3000 piece puzzle and tried to answer trivia questions!