Friday, September 30, 2011

Ahhh...

There's
no

 time
like


family

time!!!


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Healing

Lately, life has gotten very sweet. Or maybe it has always been this sweet, and I just needed some dark seasons to pass by before I could fully taste the goodness.

My parents at speech therapy during Daddy's
hospital stay, more than a month ago.

My dad and I chatted on the phone yesterday for half an hour, about life, faith, cooking... When he has his stroke on July 20, I prayed I’d see him even SMILE normally again… yet there I sat yesterday, not rejoicing that we have Daddy and his smiles in a partial sense, but that he is on a road to recovery that is so full that I can now ask him for advice on both complex Biblical doctrine and the best way to skin garlic. I hung up the phone and laughed out loud at God’s mercy. Don’t get me wrong… there is much healing to go. But distances he has already come point straight to the goodness of God.

There is so much more I want to write about our sweet, sweet life right now, but my dad’s progress is enough beauty for one day.

"I am the LORD, your healer." - Exodus 15:26


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Waiting Wednesdays

For those of you who are waiting...

"Biblically, waiting is not just something we have to do until we get what we want. Waiting is part of the process of becoming what God wants us to be." – John Ortberg

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

You're Invited: Adoption, Not Legalism

I’ve been gone from the blog world lately.

I haven’t read blogs and haven’t written them.
Oh how I miss blogging!

But life happens, and in my case, beautiful, wonderful things in life happen. I have so much to post, and I’ll get to it eventually… pictures of our beach trip, stories of our foster care/adoption certification classes, a schedule packed out busy – but only with things I LOVE and that fuel me! It is a truly blessed season of life.

Until I get back to posting, (which probably won’t be until Thursday,) I leave you with an invitation. I’m skipping my foster care certification class tonight – using up a precious absence when I’m not allowed many – in favor of something even better than PHYSICAL adoption and fostering… our SPIRITUAL adoption to God the Father.

If you want to hear a talk tonight about our spiritual adoption and how we need to leave the orphanage of legalism, come up to Saint James.

Fall Rhema
Community Wide Bible Study
Tuesdays: Sept. 20 - Oct. 25, 9:30 AM or 6:00 PM
Taught by Lana Hayden & Ann Pemberton
At St. James United Methodist Church
9045 Vaughn Rd, Montgomery, AL 36116

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Waiting Wednesdays

For those of you who are waiting...

"Those who do not hope cannot wait; but if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it."  - Charles Spurgeon


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Stoned. Yes, Stoned.

Last week, someone from the United Methodist conference asked us if a missionary couple could spend Monday night at our house. We knew no details. The couple turned out to be African, more specifically, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They’ve spent more than a decade moving around Africa as directed by the UMC.  They currently live in Cameroon.

At one point, they lived in Senegal, which is 95% Muslim. There, they were twice STONED for their faith!!  Police intervened both times.  The guy who organized the stoning is now the pastor in charge of youth in Senegal. Talk about a modern day Paul!

Even as I type this now, my mouth gapes and I have little commentary to add… American Christianity is so plush that it scares me. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Waiting Wednesdays

For those of you who are waiting...

"If the Lord Jehovah makes us wait, let us do so with our whole hearts; for blessed are all they that wait for Him. He is worth waiting for. The waiting itself is beneficial to us: it tries faith, exercises patience, trains submission, and endears the blessing when it comes. The Lord’s people have always been a waiting people."  - Charles Spurgeon

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Not Your Teddy Bear


Amelia, 2 months old, with a short term
missionary who graciously loved on our
girl while we could not.
 Adoptive parents must be careful not to fall in love with an illusion.

I speak from experience. I first fell in love with Amelia on some level in November 2008 – long before she was even conceived. The love increased as we progressed in the adoption process, and bubbled to boiling as we received our first pictures of her beautiful face. I was determined to know Amelia even before I ever met her. I squeezed snippets of information about her from every short term missionary and adoptive parent who passed through her orphanage. In my mind, I created a paper-mache version of her from photos, facts, and 9 second video clips… dab “snuggly” here, “sweet-natured” there, glue together and wait for her to dry. It was a comfort to imagine that I knew my daughter.


And then, on that glorious, hot February day when I finally held our beloved girl, I discovered that she is not paper mache. She is not static. She is complex and alive! On that day, I touched her warm, soft fleshy cheeks and heard her both laugh and cry. She was not a newborn awakening to the world, but a ten month old who already had personality and preferences. The box I’d put her in just would not do. And so began Amelia’s six month journey towards busting the piƱata I had made of her. I am glad she succeeded. The real Amelia is better than any version I could have crafted.

Still, exposing my hallucinations for what they were was a bit uncomfortable –both for me and for Amelia.

You see, the wait to adopt a child is excruciating on the parent. It is filled with unknowns and silence. And so we fill our minds with whatever knowledge we can gather… and often subconsciously fill the gaps with our own beliefs and expectations. We picture life once the adoption is complete – the good and the bad! We use fragmented descriptions of our child to create a persona of them in our mind. We do whatever we can to feel like we hanging on to something real.

The problem comes when OUR “real” meets TRUE reality. When the imaginary version of our child is shoved to the side by the child herself.


Amelia's first days in her new home.

Psychologists describe it as the Teddy Bear Syndrome. During the adoption wait, Imaginary-Amelia was my teddy bear. I could see into the future and smile at life with Imaginary-Amelia. Sure, it wouldn’t be perfect. I’d done my homework and learned about attachment issues. But I’d be the perfect mother for all of Imaginary-Amelia’s needs. I knew the bumps ahead like the back of my hand, and I was prepared for each one.


Fast-forward to the early days at home with REAL Amelia, and you can see the mirage begin to melt away. Amelia would not take a sippy cup… she’d rather starve. And while this battle lasted only 24 hours before it’s quick, happy resolution, it made me crazy for that one day. Imaginary-Amelia never had this particular problem. I’d never thought of this! Imaginary-Amelia would have trouble being away from me and I’d have to quit work – THAT would be the big problem!*** I was prepared for that, for no other reason than that I’d thought it through. But Real Amelia throws curve balls. She is so… REAL! Unpredictable! It is as if – gasp – she’s HUMAN!

***(Real Amelia loves our church preschool, although she’d prefer to be with me, and thus I am still employed!)

Okay, can I stop calling her “Real Amelia” now? :-)

Amelia has adjusted so quickly and so well. I shudder to think how poorly I would have handled it had she not. It took me months just to realize that my greatest frustrations did not stem from any “issues” SHE was having, but instead from the issues that did not conform to the version of her that I’d created in my mind. I’d prepared myself for certain things. There was a prescription I had ready for our new life. What I had not prepared myself for, however, was the fluidity that comes with any human relationship.

I do not have the same control over Amelia as I did when she only lived in my mind. Thank God. Do I really want to be the kind of parent who imposes expectations so heavily upon their children that it stifles their true personalities? No thank you. My baby girl is too tough to be stifled anyway. She was going to blossom in spite of me. I’m just glad I can now enjoy watching her bloom into the girl God made her to be. She is teaching me to love surprises.

You Have To Do Your Post-Placement Visits!


Amelia Mercy - 2 months

How precious was Amelia at two months! Oh what I would've given to have my hands on her then.  Oh how blessed I am to have my hands on her now!

Last week, Brad and I had a nice visit with Amelia’s social worker, chatting about our upcoming foster care classes, and telling her about the amazing strides Amelia has made in half a year. These visits are required by Uganda. Until Amelia is 18, Uganda requires updates every six months about Amelia’s well being in America and in our family.

Recently, I read a concerning article about adoption in Uganda. It said that Ugandan lawmakers are becoming weary of Americans who bring Ugandan children home as their own yet do not later comply by sending the required updates to Uganda.
"Very few international adopters keep the Probation and Social Welfare Officer in Uganda updated with the progress of the children they have adopted. The Uganda government is not happy about this."
I love it that Uganda wants to see my growing girl's precious face.  I think it's wonderful that they keep track of how she is! I applaud them for it and encourage all of us to comply with Uganda's requests.

I asked our social worker about this, and she agreed.  We must be vigilent with our post-placement reports.  And this is not only true for families who adopted from Uganda.  It is important that ANY parent who adopts from ANY country comply with the post-reporting laws of that foreign country.

Lack of communication damages the reputation of American prospective adoptive parents. It sends a message that we do not care about their laws, and it causes them to wonder about the well-being of the children we adopt. If we don’t work well with them, we cannot expect them to be sympathetic to us in their lawmaking.  Lack of post-placement communication with the birth-countries of our children could eventually complicate the process for future hopeful adoptive parents. Worse still, it could cause less children to find families.

So please, complete all of your post-placement visits. :-)

I am assuming here that you have an agency who handles the post placement reports for you after each post-placement visit. If that is not the case for you, then you will need to research and find out how to send post-placement reports at the appropriate times and to the appropriate place in your child's birth country.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Infertility, Adoption, Redemption, and God's Hand in Suffering

This week, my friend sent me a link to the most incredible story I've read in a long time.  It is full of redemption, hope, pain-turned-to-joy, miracles, and the clear hand of God orchestrating every detail so that the heart-aches turned into beauty.  Better yet, it's a true story, and it just happened.  Please go read it.  Every single word will bless and amaze you.

Friday, September 2, 2011

My Week Rocked!

Really, this week couldn't have gotten much better. 
1) Preschool officially kicked off their new school year this Thursday, and Caroline could not have been any more pumped. Which made Amelia pumped.




2) Yesterday, a social worker came to check on Amelia since she has now been home for SIX MONTHS!!! Where does the time go? She is getting so big.  All the moms at preschool are amazed by how she ended the school year as a baby and is returning as a full-blown lanky, confident, stomping-through-rooms-looking-for-fun toddler.  She's 17 months old now.  There's not a baby in the house.  Waaaah.



3) I was one of the lucky few -- (make that 400) -- women to register for the rockin' Created for Care adoption conference that I am chomping at the bit to get to!!!  It is truly nerdy how ready I am for it.  It's not until late January.  Shesh.  Five months. I can't wait!  Yet, I will wait.  They didn't give me a different option.


4) My precious roommate (didn't know we had a roommate, did ya?) is also on youth staff at our church.  So I get the hook-up on a sweet gig teaching middle school girls' Sunday school this fall.  Oh yeah!  That's what happens when you know peeps in high places, my friends.


My point to this post? My week rocked. Fo sho.  And I didn't even tell you the nitty gritty details of all the other good that God did.  Let's be honest... I'm a whiner. I don't do posts like this often.  If I say it was awesome, then you KNOW it was!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

We're Getting Certified to Foster!

Plug your ears for a moment while I scream in sheer excitement.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
HHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
HHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

"What are you yelling for!?"
Can you tell I’m happy!? I found out today that Brad and I were squeezed into the oh-so-jam-packed FOSTER CARE CERTIFICATION CLASS I’ve been praying with all of my heart to get in to for… umm… 3 days? Is 3 days all? That’s not much of a wait. Which makes it even better. Orphan care stuff usually involves lots of

W
A
I
T
I
N
G

It feels so good to decide we want something and then POOF! It is granted. For all of the complaining I did over our adoption wait, I feel it’s only fair that I jump up and down a bit over the suddenness of all of this. Ahhh.

Is anyone terrified at the thought of our family with a foster care certification? You're not the only one!
Look at the fear in her eyes! The food in her cheeks! The crumbs on the ... okay, I digress...

We will take ten 3-hour classes on Tuesdays starting September 13. And no, we don’t feel quite ready to foster. But I feel so drawn to the classes that it feels like perhaps God is drawing us to them. I am so excited and expectant. Our current plan is to use our certification to provide respite (babysitting) care for foster families who need a break. We don’t plan to begin full-time fostering… yet.  Just foster-babysitting, aka respite care.

However, I am thankful that, should God call us to full-time fostering, we will be ready. (Can you ever REALLY be ready for that? Scratch the “ready.” We’ll be CERTIFIED.)

Okay, plug your ears one more time.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
HHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
HHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!