February 21, 2015

now we're sprinting...

Earlier this week I was Facebook-chatting with a fellow China-adoption-Mama who is also bringing home a sweet boy from China.  I asked her when she planned to travel, and she replied "May".  She then asked about us.  I replied "Planning for August, but praying for July."  I was shocked by her optimism as she said "Oh girl, you will travel before August.  I bet you travel in May with us."  I laughed it off.  July was stretching it in my mind, but May?

The next day, we were gathered around the dinner table (who am I kidding... Jordan and I were, I'm sure one of the kids was under the table and the other was probably standing on his head) when the phone started buzzing.  I try to keep a strict "no phone" policy around the dinner table, but when I happened to see Eugene, OR on the number, I knew what that meant.

"Your LOA has arrived!!"  said our caseworker.

My polite phone voice flew out the window as I sputtered "WHAT ON EARTH!?!  HOW DID THAT HAPPEN!?!?!"

She laughed and said that due to the Chinese New Year, our file must have gotten expedited to be completed before everyone took a vacation.

You guys.  We were planning on waiting 3 or 4 months for our LOA (letter of acceptance) to arrive.  It took one week.

Waiting for this document was a huge chunk of our 6 month wait out the window.  So when do we expect to travel now?

"I would expect May.  Possibly June, but no later."

You guys.  YOU GUYS.  I have been so overwhelmed, processing this had me up until midnight that night because I did not even know what the next steps were!  I had months to wait, why would I jump the gun and drive myself crazy?  Well, as it turns out, we don't even have time to think.  Our baby steps to pick up Owen have turned out into an all out sprint as we anticipate traveling to get him this Spring.  I don't even need to count months.  I could count weeks at this point and it wouldn't be crazy.

I texted many friends with my outrageous news and one replied "It doesn't surprise me in the least.  God moves mountains to bring his orphan children home."

Oh you of little faith.

How many times have I stepped onto this water and believed I was sinking only to be pulled up by the arm of Christ, telling me that he has prepared the way.  Wow.

I am still overwhelmed.  But as tempted as I am to fear in the midst of this very big change, I'm going to reject it.  I could spell out the many reasons I fear for myself, the transition for Jude and Isaac, just FLYING TO CHINA (cool, but ummm freaky)... but again.  The road has been paved.  God cares about my anxieties and my fears so much that he continually prompts me to just let them go at His feet.  He continually reminds me that he has written this story and he is trustworthy.

So onward we go.  In May.

February 11, 2015

the story of this boy.

Only God can write a story this good. A story that even what the enemy means for evil, He makes good. All the time.
That devil tried to steal family from a sweet baby boy. Steal the love of a father and a mother. God wouldn't have it.
I already love this story, but first we need to back up.  

The week leading up to this one was hard.  It was hard for me.  Hard in the parenting department.  Hard emotionally, hormonally, whatever.  Just hard.  The previous Monday we had just submitted our paperwork to our adoption agency to say we would gladly adopt a boy or a girl.  I knew it was right, but that week, instead of dreaming of the future, I found myself paralyzed with fear.  What if I fail at this?  I can barely keep up with my own two boys, what am I thinking?  I'm not cut out for a big family or adoption.  This just feels hard.

I was signed up to attend the IF:Gathering conference that weekend and the thought crossed my mind more than once to skip the conference entirely.  I never spoke the words, and I knew I would be too stubborn to skip.  I'm so glad I didn't.  But I was exhausted.

February 5.  I was scheduled to fly out of Grand Rapids (by myself) to Austin, TX (by myself) to attend this conference (by myself).  Luckily I had Facebook connected with a gal who I had a mutual friend with, so despite having never met her before, I didn't feel completely alone.

My first flight ended up being delayed 3 hours, which was okay, because already my second flight was rescheduled to be about 2 hours later.  Luckily, I heard about the delay before leaving for the airport, so instead of sitting by myself for hours, waiting, I had lunch with my mom and boys and then left for the airport.

Boarding time was about 20 minutes away when I get a phone call.

Eugene, OR

Said my caller-ID. 

This can only mean one thing.  Our adoption agency is in Eugene, OR.  And they really have no reason to call, except for one.

I have a referral for you!

Said the singsong voice on the other end of the phone.  My heart started racing.  I quickly told the caseworker that I had to get on a plane very soon so, tell me everything as fast as you can!

It's a baby boy!!....

I was shaking.  Us?  Now?  This soon?  I was shocked, but not surprised in the least all at once.  My caseworker said she would email me the file, and all I could think was that I just can't wait to see this boys face.  Can. Not. Wait.

They called to board the plane as I drained my phone battery by continuing to hit refresh. refresh. refresh.

The plane took off before the file came in, and as we ascended to cloud-level, it hit me for the first time that I have a child on the other side of the world.  

I knew that ambiguously for the past year or so, but now I knew it for certain.  There was a boy out there, living and breathing, that I could claim as my own.  

The email was waiting for me when we landed and I saw my son's face for the first time.  Such an odd thing, to see your child's face for the first time... as a toddler.  The beauty and complexity of adoption is more real than ever.

And he is just the most perfect little boy.  In his photos and videos, he is just so happy and full of life and I have nothing but gratitude for the fact that he has already, CLEARLY been loved on.  Oh, Lord, you answered my prayers for kisses.  I pray that he continues to get the affection and nurture that he needs to thrive.  

So allow me to informally introduce you to our dear son, Owen.  

Young warrior.  Thrown from birth into the battle for his life.  He was God's first, but now he is mine
You hear that, son? You have always been and always will be God's first, but YOU. ARE. MINE. 
These fears I talked about?  They don't matter. They don't. They are bred my of my human responses, just fleeting emotions, but NOT truth.  Fears don't care about an all powerful and supernatural God.  Fears don't remember Him. But the Spirit in me does, and that is who I am going to listen to. 
Those fears that say “I could never adopt”? Why not?  That is the question we came to. WHY. NOT? The “I could never” is fear speaking.  Drown that sucker. 
Those fears that say “I could never raise three crazy boys”? Why not?  I have no experience, but apparently boys and girls are quite different to raise, because people tell me all the time.  But you know what?  Man, I love boys.  Ever since having my own in my womb the first time, God has been cultivating a sweet spot in my spirit for boys.  It wasn't long after, I visioned a house full of boys.  Wow.  It does souls crazy and energetic and dangerous.  But wow.  WOW.  So good.  What a privilege.  To raise MEN.
It was a whirlwind of a weekend.  But we are taking this step.  Pushing aside all fear and doubt in the confidence that the Lord has prepared this road for us.  And we couldn't feel more honored.

Owen, my boy.  We're coming for you.  Consider yourself one less orphan.

P.S.  You have no idea how badly I wish I could share these videos and photos of our boy, but we simply can't until he is officially ours.  Just picture the most adorable Chinese face you ever did see, and you'll have it right.

it started on Monday

Before I tell the real story, I have to tell the back story.  The prompts and nudges by God that lead us to change our mind.  To ask different questions, and once again, pray about why we are doing this and what does God have for us.

It seems that the initial decision to adopt was even easier than this one.  The special needs program in China pulled my heart strings.  No, YANKED them.  As I was looking at the faces of the cleft kids and club foot kids and heart kids, I literally felt like God was telling me I was looking into the face of my future child.

When we were discussing whether or not to adopt, the question was never where.  We hardly discussed that, amazingly enough.  It was always China.  Always special needs (which the term is more loosely used in this context than how we say it in America.  Any additional medical need is considered "special needs").

And, it's China.  We assumed there were girls upon girls waiting.  We, too, believed that the effects of the one-child-policy in China were still rampant and that there were baby girls just waiting for families.  I read blogs upon blogs of families who had adopted from China, and at that point, most of them had adopted girls.  This gave me a vision for what this might look like, and I started to dream of adding a daughter to our family.  Also, we have two boys already.  This also seemed like a no brainer.  As we were submitting our application, we checked "girl".  Again without discussion (which seems crazy to me now, but God has His own timing for things).

Until we started getting emails from our agency.  "There is an urgent need for parents to adopt boys, but you will wait 6-9 months for a girl."

An URGENT NEED.  It is boys who need families. The orphanages and foster homes were not overflowing with girls... but boys.

It wasn't the difference in wait time that bothered me.  Our documents had already been in China for nearly 3 months.  I was fully prepared to wait longer for a referral.  In fact, the timeline moving closer scared me a bit.  But email after email came in expressing the fact that boys are waiting for families, while families are waiting for girls.

the adoption of boys, lwbcommunuty.org

Ugh.  My heart.

You see, I have two boys.  Two rowdy, incredibly active, sometimes defiant, but always sweet and up for a snuggle, all-out-boys.  I love having boys.  I really really do.  From what I hear, having boys is very different from having girls.  In fact, more than once people have told me "God knew what he was doing not giving me boys, or only giving me one".... I never quite know how to respond to that, because as much as they exhaust me, it is a pure pleasure to raise men.  And man, I wrestled in a huge way with the fact that boys were waiting, and we were saying NO based on the fact that they are boys, when I had two boys I adored right at home.

So, the conversation started even before our dossier was done.  But it is hard to let go of something you have been dreaming about.  I even have a bag of girl clothes in the closet, because I snuck them out of the leftovers of our garage sale.  It has been the vision.  I just started to question, where this vision came from.  I started to pray, God, did you call us to adopt a girl, or did you simply call us to adopt from China?

We knew that if we checked "boy or girl" from the beginning we would be quickly matched with a  boy.  And this change in vision needed lots of prayer and time.  So we kept our application marked "girl" and prepared to wait and pray.

We waited for months, uneasy, and feeling a little lump in my throat every time I said we were adopting a girl, because it started to feel like when I said that, what I was really saying was that I was saying no to a boy.

In January, Jordan told me that he had been praying about whether we should adopt a boy or girl again.  This shocked me, because prior to that we had said that the vision of a daughter was what was given to us and we needed to pray.  But over the past month of prayer, we both came to think that the vision of a daughter wasn't necessarily of God.

One night, after discussing the possibility of changing our adoption to a boy, I was struggling to sleep and suddenly clearly remembered what started the seed of adoption in my heart.  I woke up and searched my blog, certain I had written about it, and I was right.  A video, I posted 3 years prior, about the plight of being an orphan boy.  I wrote at that point Just having a boy of my own, I can't imagine not loving many more boys. And I realized that is still true today.  The next morning I prayed as I showered (because when else do I get complete quiet and solitude?) and I just felt a huge sense of God telling me to trust Him with my family.  However that my grow.  However many children he has for me, it is already in His plan.  I can trust Him.   

You see, it might be crazy, but here is what I believe happened.  If I had been thinking "boy" all along, I'm not sure it would have lead me to China.  I associate China with girls.  In fact over 75% of families who adopt (in general, but especially in China) go there specifically asking for girls.  I was one of them!  The truth is, that now it isn't "girls" who are being surrendered for adoption in China so much as the special needs kids, and in that crowd, boys and girls are equal.  But boys wait, because more people are asking for girls.  So, I think God lead me to China before he lead me to a boy, because boys in China are waiting.

Now, I want you to hear me on this.  I do not believe that if we had stayed only choosing a girl, that it would have been wrong, immoral, or selfish.  I don't believe that at all.  So, those of you who feel God's call on your life to adopt a daughter, DO.  PLEASE do.  Right now, the way things are, yes you will wait for a daughter, but the only people who are adopting those girls are people who are specifying that they will only take a girl.  If you say boy or girl, you will get a boy with about 98% certainty (unofficial numbers I'm making up myself, but still).  I believe God can give you a vision for adopting a daughter.  This is just our journey... the way God guided our steps to lead us to who is supposed to be our child.  And it simply looks different than we had originally thought.

Over the past many weeks, we've prayed through this decision.  Talked.  I've asked for prayer from my closest friends, and asked them to call me out if I start sounding off or crazy.  And it eventually brought us to Monday.

We felt that we could both say that we truly didn't feel a tug either way, boy or girl.  We would be thrilled with either.  So we took a turn in our journey on a Monday.  We submitted our document on February 2, to say we would love to have either a boy or a girl.

That brings us to the following Thursday... (click to read the rest of the story).