Wednesday, December 23, 2009

We have a date!

Yay! I talked to the homestudy social worker, finally, and we've set up a date for our interview! I'm so excited to actually have it on the calendar! (She'd sent me the dates last week but I never received them because her computer got a virus and ate her emails. Grrrr...)

She's going to try to combine the four appointments into 2 by having extra long meetings. So we're getting together on New Years Eve and then again on January 7th. She seems super sweet and laid back, so I feel like it will go well. And, she said she wants to have it completely done before she goes out of town the third week of January. So that works in our favor!

As soon as our homestudy has been revised and finalized by both agencies, we can immediately send it off with our I-800A imigration form. This is when the US government approves that we can adopt. It takes about 2-3 months to hear back- so the faster we can submit the I-800A, and get it back,  the faster we can send our dossier to Mexico! Can you tell I'm chomping at the bit to get through this paperwork stage? LOL!

I do love all the paperwork, though. It makes me feel like I am DOING something. I have a feeling I am NOT going to like the time period after all the paperwork is submitted and we are just sitting around twiddling our thumbs waiting to hear something. But, I know God has lessons to teach me in that stage, too. Patience. Lots of Patience. I'm learning that the adoption process is very sanctifying....

Unfortunately,  we still don't have any answers from the licensing department about the use of bunk beds. In order to fit everyone, we have to use a set of bunk beds and the health inspector said he didn't think they were allowed. If we can't, then we're going to have to build a bedroom (and, of course, a bathroom)  in the basement for Brent and I.

We had been planning on doing this in the future (I think we're going to need some space for US with 7 kids in the house...), but we were hoping we didn't have to before the adoption. Too Expensive!  There is nothing in Maryland law about the use of bunk beds, but the social worker thinks that it might be  a licensing regulation.

So we're still waiting. She did say that the construction wouldn't have to be finished before the homestudy is complete, thank goodness! That would have slowed us down drastically! 

Here's a little sweetness that God sent our way....
We have to submit a bunch of photographs of each room of our house and the outside for our dossier. I wasn't too thrilled to send a photo of the outside of our house because our landscaping stinks. Our grass is weed filled and very un-lush. We definitely need to do some work on the front gardens, but let's just say "it ain't even in the top 10 of the priority list".

I had jokingly said we needed some snow to make our cute, little red rancher look better and hide the ugly garden. Well, we got it- didn't we! A whole lot of snow! That massive amount of snow hid a multitude of sins in our landscaping. Sooo, now Mexico will think we have an adorable little house AND think the bushes under that snow are just as cute! Brent got a bunch of good photos!

Here are some of the things I'm doing over the next few weeks...
-a notorized letter from our health insurance company saying that the adopted children will be under our insurance- was expected to be here a week ago and still hasn't come....hmmm....
-finalizing a date with the psychologist to do our evaluation
-go to State Archives in Annapolis to find a copy of a document that I need another copy of
-start our 10 hours of adoption classes required under the HAGUE convention- thankfully, they are online! We plan on starting them while Brent is recovering from sinus surgery on the 28th! He won't be able to do much else, so perfect timing!
-find out how many post placement visits state in Mexico requires so we can prepay for them according to HAGUE regulations
-have a conference call with socialworker on the specifics of our dossier paperwork! I love this! I'm giddy just thinking about doing this part! I should have been a secretary!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Please read this...

My friends,
You need to read this girl's blog. At least the first few entries on this page. You. Just. Need. To.


Health Inspection is done! Whew.
We had the guy come out and though he was nice, he was much more thorough than I thought he'd be. We got called on a few things, but thankfully he allowed us to just write a letter saying that they had been fixed. We had to fix a broken window, get a more recent water test and fix a leak that was under our bathroom sink. The leak was a shock! We've never had a leak there! In fact, it wasn't leaking there the night before because I put stuff in the vanity cabinet and all was well.
The water testing man actually came 2 minutes before the health inspector. Instead of testing the water in the basement like normal, he went back to the bathroom to do the test. The water was running for 20 minutes and I guess it was during this time that we sprung the leak! Figures! The leak started WHILE the inspector was there! Kind of comical, huh?
Anyway, all is fixed and a letter has been sent and our health report has been turned in to the homestudy agency.
Then, as if we don't have enough going on, we- ok, "I", decided that painting the living room, dining room and hallway was the next priority. We hadn't painted since we moved in 9 years ago and when we replaced our flooring 5 years ago we'd put up primed trim, but had never painted it. So, as you can imagine, with four kids, it was dirty and messy beyond belief. Since it was primed and never painted, I can't even get the fingerprints off with heavy duty cleaners!
Brent had to work, but my wonderfully awesome Dad and brother came over to paint with me/for me! Mom and the girls came a few days too and were great helps- especially when it came to the finishing touches and getting the room back together! Thank you, Lord for parents with servant hearts! Dad had to work nights, but he graciously came during the day to help me. He had to be exhausted! Thank you, Dad! And, Jordan, you are the best brother a girl can have! Mom and Sammi and Abbie- my house looks so pretty now! Just how I've always imagined it, but could never pull off by myself! Ab- you should be a designer, seriously!

So this week we've just been waiting around to hear from our homestudy agency on a date for interviews. And getting back to some normal school schedule after 2 weeks of chaos. And getting our Christmas tree. And shopping for presents. Whew. Seems like nothing after the past few weeks, though!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

I'm Pooped!

I am so exhausted! It's a good exhaustion, though. Wanna know why? Ok, since you asked, I'll tell you! LOL!

Last Monday, I was emailing a few questions to our homestudy lady and I casually asked if she'd turned in our health department form and how long would it take for them to call for the appointment. Boy am I glad I asked! Apparantly I misunderstood who was supposed to get the Health Inspection Request form! I sent it to my agency instead of straight to the Health Dept.! I was so bummed! I turned that paper in a few weeks ago and now I was going to be behind! (You see I have had it in my head to get this homestudy done by Christmas. I know it is probably unrealistic, but I can hope, can't I?)
Now I had to re-do the form, send it in and wait 2-3 MORE weeks before they even call for an appointment! Count out the "by Christmas" plan!
Ok, can you see where this is going? Already, after such a GOD MOMENT last week, I was already starting to assume control over this whole situation. I wanted MY timeline. My Plan! Sheesh. The nerve I have, right?
 Unfortunately, I didn't clue in to this myself. My loving hubby pointed it out gently. Thankfully, God is quick to forgive and give peace! God gave me a calmness and peacefulness so that I could not be annoyed at my homestudy lady or anyone else that crossed my path! (Oh, I hate when I get like this! Just keepin' it honest, though.)
So, first thing Tuesday, I filled out a new form and sent it with Brent for him to HAND DELIVER to the Health Department across the street from his office.
Later that day I found an email from Brent saying that the actual Health Inspector was there and spoke to him personally! He even set up an appointment ON THE SPOT! For Monday! Can you believe it? I think this all worked out even better than if it had gone right in the first place! So now, we're still on track for finishing by Christmas! I know I don't deserve that, after my snotty controling attitude, but God is so gracious!
And, just because He can, He had the Fire Inspector call and set up his appointment for tomorrow! Whew!

So, the reason that I'm pooped is because we've been working our backsides to the bone getting the house TOTALLY clean and fixed up! Let me just tell you, I've found places to clean in this house that I didn't even know existed!
Brent has been going strong fixing screening in a few windows, installing more smoke detectors in EACH room, taking lots of junk to the dumpster, sorting through every various chemical in our house since certain things aren't allowed in certain rooms, baby proofing (which is so funny because we've never baby-proofed the house, we house-proofed the babies), rearranging our storage room so nothing is stored within 30 inches of any combustion-producing appliance (believe me, I've measured!), putting up a sign that has our house number on it, and vacuuming any evidence of furry friends that make their home in our basement in the winter (just part of living in the country!).
The kids have worked very hard, too. In fact they earned quite a decent paycheck for some of their chores. I think I will find myself broke!
After all this cleaning and fixing, it does feel nice knowing it is done. In fact, I told Brent that maybe we should schedule a Health Inspection every year, adoption or no adoption- just for the pressure to keep it clean! He didn't find that funny. I think I heard him muttering something about getting a divorce....LOL!

SOOOO, we are on the final stretch of our paperwork for our homestudy! I can finally turn in the last bit of paperwork! Next is on to interviews!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Overwhelmed- but you don't want to miss this...

I don't even know where to begin this entry. It's long and complicated, but it is God's story, so I can't wait to tell it.

Since the beginning, this adoption has been God's idea. He planted the seed in our minds. He gave peace when it didn't make sense. He provided confirmation after confirmation. He allowed us to find the children we fell in love with. He made all the pieces fall in place with the agonizing decision over which agency to go with.

So this week has really been where the rubber meets the road. We have mentally and emotionally engaged in this plan, but now reality is setting in and we needed to make some decisions on HOW we were going to financially pay for this. Most people get a home equity loan and are done with it. Well, since we don't our home, that's not an option. We found a few places that offered interest free adoption loans and grants. They look like wonderful ministries and I called and spoke to them to find out the requirements.

The thing is this: getting a loan totally alleviates the need for us to NEED God. Not  that a loan is wrong- I would never, ever say that. God uses those loans in a wonderful way. BUT, this year God has been teaching Brent and I what it means to live in a radical way. We have been discovering that in the US, Christians don't NEED God to show up very often because we are self-sufficient. We have life insurance, health insurance, retirement plans, car loans, house loans, savings accounts... etc.

Not that any of that is wrong. Hear me on this! It's just that we MISS so many blessings because we don't MAKE OURSELVES DEPENDENT ON HIM!  Brent and I have wrestled with this a lot this year. How do you really live a Life of faith in the US? Usually we have moments in our lives where we need God to work, but not on  a daily basis.  We are learning that we want to live life differently than the way we have been. I don't want to get to the end of my days and God show me all the ways He wanted to work in my life, but I didn't need Him to because I'd already had a backup plan because I didn't really think He would show up!  (I know that is doctrinally incorrect, but you guys get what I'm saying, right?)

So, after much discussion, prayer and  peace from the Holy Spirit, Brent and I decided that we would not take a loan out for the adoption. We would step out in faith and let God be the one to provide for every dollar. It was His idea anyway.  If that means that the money trickles in slowly over months and months, so be it. This was SUPER hard for me, because I'm trying to finish all our homestudy paperwork at breakneck speed. I don't want these little Mexican Sweeties to have to spend one day longer than necessary in that orphanage. The thought of all our paperwork being completed, but it just sitting there in a file until all the funds were raised was a very real and difficult reality. But, again came that PEACE. You know- the unexplainable kind. The kind He keeps giving when it doesn't make sense. A total surrender and trust. Ah.

Well, I have to say that right now God has invaded our lives in an INCREDIBLE way. This week God showed off. He just loves it when His people stop trying to control His plan! He wants us to just watch Him work!
This week- out of the blue- someone has decided to bless us with- get this- $20,000. Yes, that's the right number of zeros.

Can I just tell you how overwhelmed I feel right now? I am overwhelmed that God loves us so much that He would do this just because He can! I'm overwhelmed because for the first time I truly put my complete faith in Him with no backup plan and we got to truly see Him work. I am overwhelmed because the people who are blessing us with this support need this money as much as we do. They have given up their future nest egg because they choose to live in obedience and faith also. I am overwhelmed that I am experiencing a little bit of what it must have been like in the early church- when "they had all things in common".

After the tears, the shock, the shaking hands, more tears- I realized that suddenly our lives became VERY clear. Life doesn't look so complicated. Not because we got a huge monetary gift, but because faith is so simple. Worry, anxiety, and fear feel like a dead enemy to me. I feel such comfort and joy in knowing that this God, who chose me and each of my days before the foundation of the world. has each moment of our lives completely under His control.

Even in the midst of such high emotions, a little sadness creeps in when I think about how, in my flesh, I will at some point fail in this simp;e faith. I will again, one day, let fear or need for control creep in. But, hopefully, I will be able to quickly recall this Huge moment of God's faithfulness and sovereignty and I will again step back into daily faith. Oh, grace, sweet grace!

So, tonight, on the evening of Thanksgiving, I must tell you all how thankful I am. Yes, for the physical money- it is a real need- but mostly for the priviledge and honor I feel, knowing that I belong to One who does not struggle with moving mountains. I am His child and I am so glad He invited me into His journey.

Monday, November 23, 2009

One more thing on the homestudy checklist completed!

Today Brent and I dropped off the Request for Fire Inspection at the Fire Marshall's office in Bel Air. I had put it in an envelope and even put it into the mailbox last Friday, but decided early Saturday morning to pull it back out and deliver it in person today while the kids were at their piano lesson. I don't know why, but I just preferred to make sure it made it to the office in person. Also,  Brent knew the Fire Marshal from when he was a firefighter in Hereford years ago, so we were kind of hoping to get a personal connection there! LOL! 

We did see the guy he knew and he sat and talked to us for a while. Hopefully next week we'll get a phone call and can set up an appointment for the inspection- possibly even for that day! Yay- kind of. Uh, now the pressure is on Brent to get a few projects completed on the "honey-do" list. Run a new electric line for the freezer since the circuit blew, clean out the workroom area that is a disaster since we did a kitchen facelift, mulch the gardens, cut down the new closet door so it fits correctly, put new bifold doors on the closets in the bedroom, etc, etc, etc.
I, on the other hand, need to do some major decluttering of the school room. I was so pre-occupied with the trip to Mexico that I never fully organized the school room this summer and so not everything has its own "place". It has quickly deteriorated into a room of piles that need filing or tossing. So this is my job over the next week or two.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Brent is away tonight and I should be asleep. It's 1:30am, but I can't keep my eyes CLOSED. God has been keeping me up and laying His hand heavy on me tonight. So I'll share with you what I've been discussing with Him...I'm sorry if it's a bit incoherent and jumps around. It is late...

You see, I never, EVER considered adoption before this past summer. I always figured adoption was Plan B for people who couldn't have their own biological children. People who were finally sick of dealing with infertility and wanted to move on.
But, now I feel like I have had huge blinders falling off of my eyes! Kind of like how Paul received his sight again and "things like scales" fell from his eyes!

Suddenly, I am extremely aware of this GINORMOUS need that is in our world.


In fact, the number I keep seeing everywhere is 143,000,000.

That's 143 MILLION children in our world who may never know what it is like to be hugged by a momma, or wrestled with by their dad, or had their tears wiped away, or taught how to ride a bike as their dad held onto the back.

They will never know what it's like to feel included in a family. All they will know is abandonment and sadness. If you spend even 5 seconds looking at some photos of orphans, you'll see it. I guarantee it. It's in their eyes, just behind the plastered-on smile they flash for the person taking the picture.

These children need families. God designed children to be in families. To have a mom and a dad who will love them and not leave them. We, of all people, should get this point! We have been hated and mistreated and abused by our first parent-Satan. Yet, God's heart was moved toward us. He ripped us away from our horrible circumstances and wrapped us so lovingly in His arms. He wiped our tears and comforted us, and restrains us even when in moments of deception we run back toward our former family. He even filed the paperwork, signing our adoption decree in his own blood. He calls us His child even when we look or act or speak nothing like Him. This is our adoption story.

Don't you just want to climb to the highest mountain and scream at the top of your lungs how wonderful being an adopted child is? We can.

We have a WIDE OPEN MISSION FIELD, my fellow believers! This is how 143,000,000 people can see Christ! When we show them OUR Father through our hands, and our arms, and our feet, and our kisses, and our smiles- we can radically change the spiritual dimension of our world!

Just imagine if every Christian family started to live out God's command to "care for widows and orphans in their distress". We could pour Christ's love into their lives and they would see what it looks like to be adopted into God's family. But, will we do it?

What if Christians made adoption Plan A instead of thinking of it only as Plan B, like I did? Our witness in this world would look a lot different, I'm guessing.

What if, instead of pouring our money and time and energy into things that we will be leaving to rot for all eternity when we are dead and gone... we got radical?

What if we decided to invest in someone's life and show them what God did for us when He adopted us into His family?

What if we loved orphans the way God loved us?

What if...God is calling you to tear away blinders?

What if He is asking you to sponsor an orphan financially so he can survive a few more months until a family is found for him?

What if He wants you to forego the excessive display of materialism this Christmas and celebrate in a way that would ACTUALLY give Him glory?

What if He is calling you to come alongside an adoptive family and encourage them in their mission?

What if he is asking you to financially support a family who is answering the call to adopt?

What if God is calling you to fast and pray and love the hurting like He does?

What if He is asking you to get rid of stereotypes and prejudices and enter someone else's culture- like He did with us?

What if He is asking you to step out of your comfortable American Bubble and see the children that are a part of His Church?

What if He is calling you to be a soft place to land for foster children who have been tossed aside in our society?

What if He is calling you to be crazy....and adopt one of these children? Just, what if...?

Guess what. He is calling each one of us to one of these "what ifs". It isn't just a suggestion to "care for the orphans in their distress. It is a command. We, His Body, have no excuses. Don't keep blinders on. Let them fall from your eyes.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Our First Adoption Purchase!

Brent just came home from Lifeway and brought our first "adoption purchase"! It's a cd of praise music in Spanish! Yay! I'm so excited!  Some of the songs are ones we sang when we worshiped at Calvary Chapel Chihuahua with the missionaries so I feel like I can sing along.  Right now I'm loving:

Nos Postramos (We Fall Down)

Nos postramos rindiendo el corazon
A los pies de cristo
La grandeza de su gracia a amor
A los pies de cristo

Contando santo, santo, santo
Cantando santo, santo, santo
Es el senor

Monday, November 16, 2009

Need some prayer warriors!


I just got a short email from our social worker about the children! She spoke to one person involved in the adoption (I'm still not sure who) and this person said that she didn't think it would be any problem with having other siblings in the home. She still needs to speak to the orphanage director, but so far so good. SO, if all my wonderful prayer warriors will pray RIGHT NOW, as she is making phone calls, that God would have His will done (I hope that means a "yes"!) in the heart of the orphanage director and anyone else that might have a say in the decision making process.

I feel really hopeful right now, but am trying to temper my emotions so if it is still a "no" answer, I haven't set myself up for too much disappointment.

In other news, my kids do not have TB- or as Caitydid called it Turbo-close-us. She's always saying funny stuff like this and it cracks me up! Her other silly one is manure- which she pronounces "MAN-your". We keep telling her the right way to say it, but now she's so confused and can't remember which one is right. (I think she likes the attention when we correct her, mostly!) Pastor said the word "manure" in the past two weeks' sermons and both of us were cracking up. Sorry, Pastor. It wasn't you. Hey, at least she was paying attention, right? LOL!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Taking the PLUNGE!

Well, today was a BIG day! Here are the highlights...
1. The kids had their doctor visits so that their forms could be filled out for the homestudy and agency paperwork. They all did great, though, Cait was a little perturbed that she had to go to a male doctor still. I'd fully intended to find her a female doctor before this, but we so seldom need a doctor that it kept slipping my mind! With the possibility of adding more girls to the mix, it'll definitely need to be on the "higher priority" list!
Unfortunately they didn't have the TB test needles during the appointment, so we had to come back later in the afternoon once they got their delivery. Everyone was so brave and cheerful. Thank you LORD!
2. I got the dog licenses finalized and copied!
3. I'd been having a very difficult time finding the tax map number, parcel number and tax id number to fill out the Health Department survey. I'd even made a trip to the library to look in the big GIANT sized tax map books. But neither the librarian or I could decipher them! It's tricky since we live on state property. BUT, while I was in the government building getting the dog license copy I asked if she knew where I could find all the tax map info. The lady, laughed and said "In the next cubicle!" Awesome! The place was empty and so I had 3 people all trying to find the info on their computers! Everyone was so friendly. (It also helped that the kids were being super well behaved and charming! LOL!) They were able to pull up a sattelite view of our house (note to self: clean up the yard!) and find all the information just from that! Whew! That headache was over!
4. The next BIG deal was that I put all the initial files and forms in a big envelope and delivered it to my agency's office. It also happens to be her home. She wasn't there but had said to leave it hanging on the inner door handle. SO, I'm just praying that nothing happened to our papers by the time she got home. ALL our life's information is in that envelope! Birth certificates, driving records, marriage certificates, a ton of notorized forms, a check for $250, all our personal information- Everything! Talk about an easy identity theft! But, I'm trusting that God is keeping all of it safe!
I felt giddy with excitement when I left the papers. It's really happening! We are really IN PROCESS!
5. And, when I got the mail, our criminal background checks were there! We're not criminals! It's funny, I actually felt a little nervouse when I opened it. I knew there wouldn't be anything on there, of course, (I have led a very safe, boring life...) but still I felt nervous that I would see some heinous activity listed! Silly, isn't it? But, all was put to rest! I'm no criminal! LOL!
6. And, best of all, the kids were over Mom Trautman's house helping her cook for Thanksgiving so Brent and I had an impromptu dinner out- ALONE! I know I'm going to really have to treasure these moments they will most likely become even fewer and farther between them!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Adoption Tax Credit- yeah, right.

Last weekend it was time to do the nitty gritty research on how we're going to fund this adoption. Since the beginning, we have read over and over about the adoption tax credit. In 2009, it was up to $12,000 per child. So we haven't been super worried about the finances since we knew we'd get it back in our refund. All we'd have to do was float the payments until the adoption was finalized and we received our refund. Easy? ....not quite.

Apparently, the tax credit only reduces your tax liability. It is "non refundable". Well that's all fine and dandy for people that have a high tax bill, but we don't! So basically, we have been misinformed.

Again, out came the ugly monster that lives inside me to torture me with doubt and distrust. I was really feeling like the whole idea of adoption was off the table. There is NO WAY we could afford this without the tax credit. I was near tears all day Monday. (Jeez, I hate that I'm so emotional!)

Thankfully, after talking to a few close friends and Brent, I was feeling a lot better about things. I called a tax guy that was willing to look into the situation and research for us. On Tuesday afternoon he called back and said that things looked a little brighter. We won't get the full tax credit, but since the credit is applied before the child tax credit, our tax liability is higher, letting us get more of the adoption credit. (I don't get it all, I'm just explaining in my simple understanding!) So in the end, things look better, although it will not even be halfway paid for by the credit.

So, we now have an opportunity to watch God show off! Right? It is scary to take this step of faith not knowing where the extra money is going to come from. BUT, months ago I asked God to teach me how to live by faith. Now that He's giving us the opportunity, I'm not feeling as confident. But, I will choose to trust Him, even when it doesn't make sense. We're doing lots of praying this week, for sure!

The Roller Coaster Begins

So we began the roller coaster ride of emotions, last week. In Mexico, the government agency in charge of all wards of the state is called DIF. It stands for something in spanish, but I can't remember it. Once our paperwork (dossier) is sent to Mexico, a committee will meet to determine if we are "approved" to adopt in Mexico. Once approved, they will then match an orphan to the family. But, since we are pursuing these particular  children, we will ask specifically for them. Normally, once someone is matched with their child (called getting a referral) they then begin the "loss process". This is when they go through the process to legally terminate parental rights. It can sometimes (often) be a long process while they do this, as often family members are difficult to track down. It also can mean that the parents refuse to terminate rights. It's awful for the adoptive families then, because the referral falls through and they have to start over.

I wanted to find out if the children we are pursuing had started any of their loss paperwork since the agency classified them as "waiting children" on their website. We were SUPER excited to find out that they have had their loss process completed and are fully available! Yay!

BUT, then the roller coaster started heading south. As I was speaking to the caseworker, she mentioned that in the medical report it stated that there should be no other children living in the adoptive home.
WHAT???? I was so sad. We certainly don't meet that qualification. Now, what are we supposed to think? We decided to use this agency specifically because we wanted to pursue these children. We decided to send an email back to the caseworker asking if she'd be willing to contact DIF in regards to that statement. Was it just a "standard protocol" type of statement, or was there a legitimate reason. And, would they possibly consider us? We know it is kind of asking a lot for her to do this, but she said she would.
We're still waiting to hear some results. We know that if DIF comes back and says "No way" then these children were never meant to be part of our family.

But, then we also have to make another difficult decision. In the midst of all the research and paperwork gathering, I got a recommendation for another agency that has a program in Mexico. It's a solid Christian agency that is run more like a ministry than a business. It's very small but also WAY cheaper than Gladney. Like almost 2/3 cheaper. But, they haven't been in business as long and don't have as many contacts as Gladney (which has been around for 120 years). I've heard glowing reviews of them, and spoken personally to the Mexico Caseworker and feel very sure that it's a good agency.

So, if DIF's answer is "no" then we have a big decision to make. Stay with Gladney or switch to the smaller agency- Generations. Of course, we'd be out the $300 Application fee, but we'd save so much in the long run it wouldn't even matter.

So right now, I feel like we're in a holding pattern. I have all my initial documents all signed and ready to hand in to the homestudy agency here in town, but since a few of them are specific to Gladney, I'm hesitant to turn them in just yet. I hate waiting. I feel so unproductive! But, I know God is just using this time to show me that none of this is going to happen on my timetable. Another way of learning to trust Him in the details. Oooo. This is hard.

Who Am I?

My past is haunting me! When I was 18 I legally changed my last name to Bosse. Unfortunately, I am learning that I should have gotten a new birth certificate to go with the court order. Ugh. So after a few hours worth of phone calls Brent and I (and the kids) headed to Reisterstown to Vital Records for an amended birth certificate! Yay! It took 10 minutes! Easy Peasy. (Actually, it makes me nervous HOW easy it was. I hope it's the right thing! LOL!)

While we were there we headed to the other side of the building to the Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS) for fingerprints and to pay to start our criminal background check. I was giddy with excitement. It's a shame that every person that worked in the offices that day were cranky, nasty people. Oh, well. They weren't going to spoil our joy! I smiled like an idiot to every person in there, anyway!

How it all started... cont.

Once we came home from Mexico we felt like we could again devote our minds to the leading of the Holy Spirit in regards to adoption. Was He still leading us to this? Some days I felt so sure He was. Then other days I doubted the call. I didn't trust my own feelings. This had to be His doing. He had to make the puzzle pieces fall into place.

Honestly, I wish that I could just write that I stepped forward into this adventure with loads of faith and confidence in what God was calling us to do. But, unfortunately, I have had my ups and downs with my lack of faith. (Just trying to keep it real!) Thankfully, God has given me a very steady and perceptive husband who can help me sort through all the emotions and figure our where my heart was not submitted to God.

Strangely, all the things that would hold me back normally (such as the fact that I'd be a mother to SEVEN, one with possible special needs, how would I cook for so many, how would I have time for so many, how would I homeschool so many, I'm not patient enough, I am lazy, I don't know how we'll have the money...) were the things I TOTALLY had a peace about. It doesn't make sense. But isn't that just like Him? He loves not making sense!

Weeks passed. I started making phone calls, finding agencies that have programs in Mexico. (Less than 5!) Two of them are closed to new families. One other I called and it failed the "warm and fuzzy test". (You know, the completely objective one...). Gladney Adoption Agency is the agency we really liked and also the one with the pictures of these precious children we'd seen months ago. I called and had a 2 hour conversation with the Mexico Caseworker. She was extremely friendly and answered tons of questions.

We really felt like God was calling us to these particular children, so that meant we needed to go through Gladney.

After two weeks of sorting through questions and praying tons, we finally decided to send in our Application and Fee. Whew.

Then came a flurry of emails with tons of attachments. LOTS of documents to fill out, gather and authenticate.

Plus we needed to find a homestudy agency in our state that is Hague Accredited (international adoption law certification). God is so good! He led me right to a place here in town- Global Adoption Services! The lady, Judy, is super sweet and must have incredible patience since I've plagued her with phone calls and emails ever since the first contact!

(Anyone not interested in paperwork organization can zone out here....)

I got myself a 21 pocket accordian file and spent several hours printing, setting up folders and deciding what document to put where. Then more email attachments came and I had to redo it all! LOL! So far the system is working...I've kept it simple. There are 3 sets of documents.
1. Homestudy
2. Gladney Agency
3. Dossier
(I think I'll end up with a fourth when we have to submit a bunch of stuff to immigration, but I'm not there yet, so I'm not trying to plan too far ahead.)

So basically I have a "to do" folder and a "done" folder for each of the 3 sets of documents. Also, I set up a blue colored folder for any current documents that are ready for notorization. This is easy to spot and I don't have to dig through the pile of docs in each "to do" folder.

Oh, and both agencies included a checklist of documents to turn in, but most of the documents need additional documents attached to them. To keep all of it straight I made my own list on the outside of the manilla file folder. That way I don't have to flip through the file to find the checklist. It's so fun to see a bunch of items crossed off! Still a ways to go though!

Monday, November 9, 2009

How it all started...

Well, here we go! A blog just to document this amazing, crazy, completely humbling adventure that God has just begun with us.... International Adoption.

Let me start at the beginning...I apologize for the epic sized post but there's been a lot happening!

Two years ago (2007) our lives started becoming intertwined with Mexico. Chad, a missionary our church decided to support, came to speak to our congregation. This spurred interest in the young men of our church to go to Mexico to help Chad build a ministry base house. I volunteered to plan the trip, which was totally foreign to me. I learned a ton about researching, about Mexico, about international travel and laws... and in the process started to fall in love with this country. Brent traveled to Mexico on that trip and loved it. I fought with some jealousy with not being able to go, but over time, God helped me get over it.

Then, two years later, in June of 2009, they returned to Mexico. Their trip this time was not as physical, but much more outreach and relational. This had a huge impact on Brent. He called several times and I knew I was speaking to someone who had undergone a deep spiritual change.

Meanwhile, I'd been going through a horrible spiritual funk. (I can't even think of a better word.) I was mildly depressed, slightly in rebellion to my husband, and disgusted by my utter lack of devotion and love for the Lord. I felt so distant from Him and even became plagued with doubt over my own salvation.

The night before Brent was due home from the trip, all the emotions and distress came to the breaking point. I cried and sobbed my eyes out. I prayed from a desperation that I've never had before. I begged him to shake me out of my apathy. I couldn't conjure up the love or desire. I didn't want just head knowledge with minimal love. I wanted to love Him with all of my being. Nothing held back. No matter the cost. No matter the pain. Even though it was terrifying to get to that place of surrender, it was real. The most real I'd ever been with Him.

And then. Then! Within 24 hours God flipped my world upside down. First, He mercifully gave me peace that I couldn't explain. Then, Brent came home. We talked over a bunch of issues that we'd been dealing with. The next day God plopped me in a Sunday School Class where He was totally speaking directly to my heart. Could I give up everything for Him? Was He worth it? I couldn't stop crying in class and was a blubbery mess, but full of thankfulness the whole day. When Brent and I finally had a chance to talk more, he said that we NEEDED to go to Mexico together as a family. We didn't know how we were going to manage that financially, but God was telling us to just go.

Then we talked about this crazy comment he'd made to me on the phone while in Mexico. About Adoption. "What would you think about adopting from Mexico?"

"Huh? I've got my hands full. Four is plenty. I have never had any desire to adopt. Great for other people. Not for me." Those were all the things I WOULD have thought....Except I didn't. I don't know why, but none of them crossed my mind. Instead, I said, "okay".

Life got busy. Planning a family trip to Mexico is time consuming so I didn't give much more careful thought about his comment. But one night while Brent was working late I was bored and typed "adoption" into the google search box. Sifting through the bazillions of posts, somehow God finally landed me on one particular website with pictures of these absolutely stunning children waiting for a family in Mexico. I was captivated. I couldn't stop looking at them. There were plenty of other children, but my eyes were only for them.

And then my heart just broke. A group of siblings who were lonely. Alone. I read somewhere on the site that Mexican people are very open to adopting children. But, like Americans, the majority only want infants or young toddlers. If they are part of a sibling group it is near impossible to find them a home. So they stay in an orphanage. Surrounded by people, but still alone. Not belonging to anyone. My heart broke more. It just wasn't right. Children were meant to be in families.

Brent walked in the door to find me surrounded with tear- filled tissues and puffy eyes. We talked, I cried, days passed. I wondered... Is God wanting us to adopt?.... We can't get overly emotional over these pictures.... It can't be an emtional response.... So we distanced ourselves from them. I tried to put it out of my mind. After all, I had the biggest trip I'd ever planned to tackle. And we did. God took the hype away from both of us. We became more objective. We prayed. We talked. We prayed more.

Then God took us to Mexico. Oh my. How God used this trip to intensify the change He had promised to me that desperate night back in June. It wasn't the beginning of "the change" but He did use it to show me Himself in a totally new way. I learned so much of the Holy Spirit and what it means to be filled and how to walk WITH Him while in Mexico. And the funny thing is, I hardly even thought about adoption while in Mexico.

And, in the midst of all of it, Brent and I fell in love with this strange country. I can't even explain it. It felt like home. The weird thing is that the city felt like home. And I am NOT a city lover. I loved the Sierra (mountains), but the city has continued to have a strong pull on both of our hearts. I still don't know what God is doing with that whole feeling. Time will tell....

I'll continue in another post.