Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Who Decides These Things?


Why? Why? Why?

Why do I need to have a state clearance from the state of New Jersey that I was never a criminal there when I have not lived in that state since 1984 and I have a clearance from two years ago stating I was never a criminal there?  Why does that piece of paper expire after a year?? Why???


Why won't they accept that paper?

Why must I get clearances AGAIN from every single place we have lived in the last 6 million years when I have lived IN THIS LITTLE HOUSE IN THE WOODS for the last 23 years???

Who decides these things?

I want to talk to them.

 I want to tell them that it is absolutely crazy that two clearances - one from New Jersey and one from Texas - are keeping us from finishing our home study.  Rob was last in Texas in 1983???  Really?? 

It's nuts.

We are so close. We have been single-minded focused on getting through the mountain of paperwork as fast as we possibly could and we are so close.  Our home study is in final review stage and could be mailed off in a matter of days except for those two crazy pieces of paper.

Why??

I get that clearances are important. One time doing them is fine.  We did them two years ago. We were cleared in all the states we both lived in.  Seven states total. But redoing them two years later... that makes no sense to me and I really really think someone out needs to have their head examined. 

Seriously.

I'm heading for South Carolina to the Great Homeschool Convention in Greenville tomorrow.  I'm praying all the way there and back that TX and NJ kindly clear our names so that we can be one HUGE step closer to our little girl.
















Monday, March 13, 2017

Don't Ever Tell Me...

Our little girl with the boo boos on her knees?


The one who gripped our hearts 2 1/2 years ago and set us on the journey that brought John home?


She was on the Angel Tree this year.


She was on the Angel Tree.


We knew she was available. After we returned home with John she was relisted on Reece's Rainbow. We knew she was relisted but there was no way we could go back.  No way. We were never ever doing it again. I stopped looking at the children. I never ever looked on the pages for the girls. Out of sight out of mind.  Easy.


Until this Christmas. Someone out there picked her to be on the tree. Someone cared enough to put her on the tree so she could find a family. Someone was advocating for our little girl. Someone was willing to yell and shout and cry out for a family for an unknown child across the ocean.  Someone loved the least of these.


And we love the Angel Tree.


Which means that both Rob and I were actively paying attention to the tree.  Just about every day.  And she was on the tree. Her little face. Her same boo boo knees. 


There was no way.


That's what I said.  No way.  I told Rob that God would have to do a MAJOR WORK in my heart for me to commit to adopt her.


Not because I didn't want her. I absolutely wanted her. I wanted her in the deepest part.  If only someone would drop her right into my lap.


I didn't want the process. I didn't want the stress. I didn't want the paperwork. I didn't want the fundraising. I didn't want to jump off the cliff and trust God.  I didn't want to cry again.


I was the one who said no.  Me.


Rob was ready to jump as soon as he saw her on the tree.


Don't ever ever tell me that it is always the women who want to jump first.


I said no.


I couldn't see my way past the terror and the stress and the paperwork and the fundraising.


He didn't push. He didn't manipulate. He didn't argue. He didn't try to convince me.  He understood my trauma. He understood my resistance. He let my no be no.


Okay. Maybe he manipulated a tad.


Like when I suggested that we split the little boys up and put one of them in the bedroom we painted for our little girl. He said no. He said it meant the door was closed. He couldn't handle that.


Oh my. Don't ever tell me...  That was the day I stopped with the closed heart and started to ask God to change my heart.


But I wasn't telling him.  I was super super quiet about those prayers.


Then he dropped the bombshell that completely upended my Jonah ship.


We were finishing our book.  We were doing the final touches. Which meant we needed to dedicate it.  He asked me if I had any ideas.  I actually had forgotten that detail. My brain went blank. I had no ideas.  I could not come up with anything which is highly unusual for me.  So we put it off. Or at least I thought we put it off. What I didn't realize when he asked me was that he had his own ideas. Ideas he neglected to share with me.


Until a few days later when I remembered the dedication and asked him what we were going to do.


It was written.  If I didn't like it we could change it.




We dedicate this book to the daughter who got away.


At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said:


“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
    and naked I will depart.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
    may the name of the Lord be praised.”
— Job 1:20-21






Dear Lord!  I sat down and wept. Rob's heart laid bare. To the daughter who got away.  Our little girl. The one who said no. I would never ever change a word of that dedication.  God gave. God has taken away. No matter what, He is to be praised. So much said in those few verses.  The deepest deepest belief in both our hearts. We worship the One who has given. We worship Him who has taken away.

How could I say no with Rob's heart laid bare?  How could my petty fears stop us from at least trying again? How could I let fear keep me from experiencing more of God's grace and blessings.



A few weeks later we jumped off the cliff for our little girl with boo boos on her knees. We started the process. We contacted our social worker. We started filling out the forms. Then an e-mail. She has been adopted.  She's gone.  Forever to us.  She's in a family but not ours.  Found and lost and found and lost again.  How can it be? 

How can it be?



Our older sons had said yes. Our social worker had said yes. Our hearts had said yes.  Dear Lord, please! What do we do?


Have you seen Mary?


Mary?


Of course not.  I haven't looked at the listings for the girls in a very very long time. I especially wasn't looking for LITTLE Girls. So no.  I hadn't seen Mary.  I had no idea she existed.


Mary.


No, we hadn't seen Mary. We hadn't seen her, but we see her now.  We see her now.


We know loss. We know there are no guarantees. We know that the road we are on will twist and turn and possibly rip our hearts to shreds. We know we could lose her. We know.  But God is good no matter what, whether with torn robes in grief and anguish or sweet rejoicing. Faith is faith. It is a stepping out into the blackness, believing that God is ever-watching, ever-loving and ever-providing all that we need to take each step.








“Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland."











Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Room in Their Hearts



Rob and I were adamant - no more. We weren't going to adopt again.

These two sons of ours who have walked through our adoptions with us through thick and thin... they knew better.


When I approached them 5 weeks ago to drop what I thought was a bombshell... they just laughed. 
Yep.  Figured.  It was bound to happen.
They knew.
They knew.  And both of them... they were all-in...
Go Mom. Go Dad.
They knew.


We worried seven years ago when we considered adoption.



We didn't want adoption to hurt them. We didn't want adoption to rob them of our time and energy.  We were fiercely protective of them.  Elijah was 12 and Ben was 15 and we had never been away from them except when my mom died. 

They were the highlight and focus of our lives.



Aaron's adoption broke every rule in our book when it came to caring for our children.  Because of crazy circumstances, we left our 12 year old and 15 year old alone at home with their granddad next door for 6 weeks.  That wasn't the original plan. The original plan was for 5 days.  But that adoption took a crazy turn that no one expected, and we ended up across the ocean trying to convince a judge that adoption was a much better option for Aaron than living in a soul-sucking mental institute.



The hardest hardest part was only getting to talk to them for 10 minutes a day on Skype (goodness the internet has come a long ways in the past 6 years).  How many calls was Elijah tearfully asking when we would come? How many calls did we listen as Ben tried to reassure us in his young boy's voice that he was holding it all together.




 Adoption should have wrecked them after that.  When we came home they should have said never, ever again. 


But when we saw a little girl they both said go. Go.

And when grief washed over us it covered them as well. They lost the sister they longed to have. Their hurt was deep and they too struggled to give voice to the loss. But with arms open they welcomed a brother into their family. And despite living in the trenches with him these past many months, they love him deeply and would fiercely protect him against any foe.


They should have said never again. 







They should have told us no.





Instead, they laughed. We figured.  It was bound to happen.

Go.

Go get our sister.

Priceless sons who have twice now changed places at the table to make room for little brothers.  They laughingly are already planning on the new seating arrangement. Precious young men who are willing to share what we have for the least of these.  Big brothers who have room in their hearts for one more.

There are no guarantees.

They know this.  Grief could be our companion again.  The process could derail.  We may risk all and lose again.

They know this. They know the crazy. They have experienced the pain. They understand the cost.

Despite it all, they are standing tall beside us.  Risking as well.





Go, they said.


Go.






“Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland."






Monday, March 6, 2017

In Our Never Again



We fell in love with her picture over 2 years ago. 

A little girl with boo boos on her knees.

We hadn't been looking but as soon as we saw her we fell head over heels in love.  Our table suddenly became big enough to add in one more.  Our hearts were definitely big enough. But just when we were ready to jump, she disappeared. She was no longer available for adoption.

Days later, another little girl appeared.  A beautiful brown haired little girl with the saddest eyes.  So with joy and excitement, we committed to her.  Our hearts longed to bring her home.  We prayed and waded through the paperwork and raised the money and all the while we worried.  We worried we would lose her.  We worried that someone would snatch her away.  We worried that the door would close in that country of unrest. We worried. 

But it never ever crossed our mind to worry that she would say no.

She was a seven year old little girl.

How could she say no?

Why would she say no?

We loved children. We had a good home and had much to offer her.  We crossed the ocean to get her. We loved her. We wanted her.  We laid our hearts bare before her.

She said no.

Fear. The unknown. Wanting what we could not offer.

She said no.

No. Nyet.

It wrecked us.

I will not lie.

We left that orphanage gasping for breath.  We left with our hearts shattered in a million pieces. 

We clung to the Lord in our grief as we made our way back to the capital to decide what we would do.  We crossed the ocean for a little girl.  Our hearts longed for a little girl. We chose a little boy

It was a Godly choice and the right one.


That didn't make it easy.


Eleven years in an orphanage is hard on a soul. We went from grief to the trenches.


The trenches were deep and in the worst of it we vowed we would never, ever do it again.


Our grief we hid. The hurt too painful and the wounds too tender. We lost a child but there was no funeral. We lost a child who told us no. We lost a child but gained a child. Wasn't that God's plan? Shouldn't we be satisfied?


Yes. No.  We lost a child.


We crossed the ocean and lost a child.

We gained a child.



Days. Months. A year.  More. Grief nipped at us.  The memories of those five days crashing down on us at times.  A hidden loss only the two of us could completely share. 


Never again. We vowed never again.

Never ever ever again.


And here we are.


In our never again.


But not never.


Because God, in His gentle kind way has called us. 


We are risking again.


We have found space for one more.

We are crossing the ocean for a little girl.


Knowing the risks.


Knowing the agony of loss.


No longer naïve.  Moving forward with trembling knees.


We are adopting again.






“Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland."






Sunday, February 19, 2017

Quiet

I recognize that we have been quiet over the past 4 weeks. 

God has been doing a work in our hearts that I can't share right now.... in time. In time.

In the meantime, the little boys have been hanging out waiting for the day they get their casts off.



Pokémon cards...



learning the fine art of stirring dip...






Discovering you can still ride a bike with casts on your legs...




Learning the states and capitals because Mama teaches history and the test is next week...
 



Digging in the dirt...
 

Yes, Feet are just as good as hands for digging....


Oops... he's not a little boy....


Watching the progress of the new shed since our garage is being taken over by all the BiblioPlan books...
 

More states and capitals practice... ugh!!



That's a tiny bit of what we've been up to for the last month...

On Monday we travel to Philly for cast removal.

On Thursday I travel to Texas for the Great Homeschool Convention so if you are in Texas and heading that way please please stop by my booth!!

.......

“Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.

Often in the quiet is when God does his mightiest work!!






Friday, January 27, 2017

Thank You, Andrea



This morning I need to wipe a few tears from my eyes and take a moment to just say thank you.

In 2002 a little boy was born to a family. He was not what they expected and at first they grieved what they thought they had lost.  But as time passed they began to see that the Lord had blessed them with a very special blessing. He changed their world.  He gave them a different perspective. He opened their eyes.  They could not be silent.  As that one little boy altered their world, they were compelled, they were called to give hope to other families, other little boys and girls. Little Reece became a rainbow of hope around the world.

Through one little boy, Reece's Rainbow was born.

I met Andrea and Reece in person in October 2010. By that point about 300 children had crossed the ocean into loving families.

Andrea had helped advocate for all 300 of those children but except for a board member's children, she had yet to hold in her arms any of the children she had been fighting to bring home.

Until Aaron.


He was only a few weeks home. A scared little boy from a Level 4 mental institute.





He had no idea who she was and how hard she was fighting to get children like him out.
At first he wouldn't even make eye contact.

So we waited. We walked in the Buddy Walk.  We ate lunch together.  And just before we left... he let her hold him. He let her hug him. 


It is one my most precious pictures.

He wouldn't be here without her.

He wouldn't be sitting at our table. 

I can never say thank you enough.

She's fought long. She's fought hard. I've been honored and blessed over the years to have fought beside her.  I count her as a dear friend.



This morning she announced that she will be stepping down as Executive Director of Reece's Rainbow.

The Lord has called her in a different direction.  With 1,700 children home or almost home, many of the families are struggling to help their children heal from the trauma of their past.  The end of the rainbow is often hard as families find themselves down in the trenches with their newly adopted ones.  It's in those trenches where Andrea has found her next calling.  Her desire is to create a place where families can find respite and fellowship while they battle in the trenches.




It is a worthy calling.  It is a needed ministry. She has my blessing and support.  She has the blessing and support of the Reece's Rainbow board. 


I am sad. I told her that earlier this week when we chatted. I don't like change.



I'm going to miss her but I understand her heart.

I'm going to miss her.

Thank you, Andrea.

Thank you.



Monday, January 23, 2017

We Are Home


We are home.

I don't have pictures of us cheering as we pulled into the driveway.

I don't have pictures of our older boys greeting us and helping us haul in our vanload of suitcases and medical gear and tired little boys.

I don't have pictures of Rob fixing chicken noodle soup from the can for the little boys to enjoy.

I don't have pictures of us tucking them in their beds surrounded by their pillows and weighted blankets and stuffed animals.

I don't have pictures of us collapsing in our bed with the football game on as we melt into sleep.

We are home.

God is good.

Thank you for praying!


Sunday, January 22, 2017

Not Home. Not Yet.


Sometimes fevers happen after surgery.


Sometimes when they do, then you have to lay aside all your pretty plans of heading home to your little house in the woods and just stay put.

We stayed put because one little boy kept spiking fevers over the normal threshold. Despite his pain levels decreasing, he couldn't shake the fevers.




So we all made ourselves as comfortable as we could and hung out.


Shriners was kind enough to provide a parent room on the eighth floor so we didn't have to go hunting for a room for the night. 


Last night we split duties.  Rob cared for Aaron who had a rough night of pain in the parent room.  I cared for John. 
 




John's fever broke this morning.  We are hoping and praying that it stays down so we can head home this afternoon. 

Home. 

What a sweet word.

Our little 4 day vigil here reminds me anew of how hard it is on families who keep bedside.  Each time we have sat beside one of our boys, we have come to appreciate those who do this on a much larger scale than we have.  Just finding decent food to eat is a huge struggle. 


Can I just say that my leftovers taste a whole lot better than hospital leftovers?  During the week, breakfast and lunches here are fairly decent as the cafeteria feeds not only all the patients and staff here at Shriners but also all the Temple people who like the food here better than there. Dinners.... well... they consist of the leftover from lunch. 


On the weekend.... well... home is a very sweet word indeed!!  Weekend eating consists of reheating all the leftover food from the entire week and selling that as eatable food.

Since no one ever eats it... it shows up for lunch and then dinner and then lunch and then dinner. 


Reheated food times 10 means that Rob and I have eaten a lot of salad and yogurt and chips and whatever the boys have leftover on their trays. Once Aaron was sprung we not only lost his tray of leftovers, but we have had to find food for him to eat too. I won't share what he had for dinner.  At least he didn't starve.




We are not home yet.


We are praying it happens today.


Little boy is looking perky this morning so we are very hopeful!


Thank you for all the sweet prayers, words of encouragement, e-mails and comments.  We are grateful for each one! 












Saturday, January 21, 2017

Truly

Crazy.

Brave.

Smart.

 Two boys. Two surgeries. 

Son #2 didn't want to wake up from his surgery.  He snored for hours. 


He refused all attempts to wake him up.  The sleeping prince.


When he finally came to, he was as chill as they come.  His surgery went well and he now has the potential to have a pincer grasp in his left hand.   His thumb is in a new place. 





Two little boys.



John's not having such a chill time.  We are trying to keep ahead of his pain and fever and anxiety. 


The next few days will be rough for him until his pain level goes down and he adjusts to the new norm of having two casted legs and one of them in a brand new bent position. 



We are hoping we can head home today. Aaron is definitely ready.  John isn't so sure it is a good idea!




I think once he gets home and realizes that he can still build Legos he will bounce back quickly!


Crazy.

Brave.

Smart.

 Two boys. Two surgeries. 

A long road trip home.

We are crazy. We may be a bit brave.  Smart.  I don't know about smart, but I am glad we did it this way.  We are on the recovering side of the surgeries. We dread the drive but we long for our little house in the woods. 

God is good.

Truly.




Friday, January 20, 2017

Grateful and Waiting

Son #2 is in surgery.

We are back to waiting.  and waiting. and waiting.

Being the laid-back child that he is... Aaron spent his time in pre-op playing Sudoku and chatting it up with his nurses and doctors.  He was as chill as could be although he did make sure I whispered some prayers in his ear, and he enjoyed having me share his stretcher with him for a bit.

Son #1 usually pops awake right away after surgery.

Not so much this time.

Little boy slept and slept and slept. 


Each time he woke up from his deep slumber he would growl and fuss and pull on his IV and try to get out of bed.



Valium to the rescue!!!


At 2:30 am he finally woke up.

Yeah.  2:30 am.

Bright and chipper and ready to start his day!


His mom.....

Not so much.

Surgically - his feet are now flat. One without any surgery at all... the other required the knick of his tendon and manipulation of the bones.  His left knee is sporting a titanium plate with the ultimate goal of getting his knee straight.  His right knee is now bent at a 60% angle for the first time in his life.  Wow!!

We are 50% through the hardest part. 

Praying for Aaron in surgery.

Grateful for John's results!





Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Not Informative Post



On Surgery day for son #1 you arrive an hour early because you are careful that way.


You bring a bunch of their schoolwork with you in hopes that they will be able to get some of it done before anesthesia and pain create brain cell fallout.


You bring along the resident Math Genius Papa to help with the multitude of math problems they have.



You rush to get it all done - waiting all the while for the phone to ring calling son # 1 down to pre-op.




Your rushing was in vain.


You didn't bring enough homework.


You have one starving son #1 and one very bored son #2.


You watch them bounce off the walls for hours and hours waiting for that elusive call. 


Finally after many hours of waiting... they send for son #1 who promptly bursts into tears and spends the next hour going through pre-op with tears coursing down his face.

You whisper prayers in his ears as they wheel him away crying.

You sit in his hospital room writing this blogpost - waiting  and waiting.


and waiting ...







Hopefully tomorrow this will be the very informative post!