Sunday, October 30, 2011

Gifts For Our Girl

Our awesome adoption agency sent us this precious little lamb for Mia Grace. It arrived with our travel packet, another journal (so glad, because I already filled my other one), and a sweet announcement card.
The lamb is sooo soft and I think our baby girl will love it. I can't wait to post a pic of her holding it one day soon.

I saw this Ethiopia doll, Rahel, about a year ago and fell in love with it. I knew I wanted one for our little girl. It is one of the Heart 4 Heart dolls that Target sales. This past weekend I went to visit my mom and she got Mia this beautiful doll as an early Christmas gift.
It will be fun to have a little girl to shop for this Christmas. Of course she won't be here yet, but we can put her gifts in her room. The plan is to get her room ready the week of Thanksgiving. There is lots to do to get ready for our sweet girl.

I am praying this will be the week that she gets to move to Hannah's Hope. I am also praying this will be the week we get a court date.

Friday, October 28, 2011

How Can you Help?

We still haven't heard about our court date. It's been a hard week of waiting for me. My heart skips a beat every time the phone rings. I think 6 court dates were given out this week and we still haven't heard anything. Despite that, it is time for us to start planning for our first trip to Ethiopia. We will probably be traveling in December or early January.

We have had many people ask us what they can do to help us as we prepare for our trip. One way we are preparing is we are starting to collect donations for Hannah's Hope. Hannah's Hope is the transition home where Mia Grace will be. She isn't there yet, but we are praying she gets to move very soon. Our agency sent out an urgent needs list last week. If you can donate any of these items, we will greatly appreciate it.

Donations Items for HH:

1. Diapers (all sizes)

2. Soy-based Formula

3. Shoes and Clothing for Older Children

4. Shampoos, Conditioners, and Lotions for Older Children

5. 10-20 three-ring binders (2-3 inch)

6. Cold medications for older children and adults

7. Amoxicillin for all ages (250mg or 400mg)

8. Whole Organic Flaxseed

9. Slash Pocket Folders (photo attached)

10. Laptops, specifically one for the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs in Mekelle, Tigray

11. 2-3 Pairs of Reading Glasses from CVS (actual prescription strength not known)

If you want to donate any of these items or anything else you think the orphanage could use, please let me know. I don't mind coming by to pick things up.

Also, we are planning to have a garage sale December 3rd at the ULM BCM. We are still trying to raise the last bit of funds for our adoption. If you would like to donate anything for our sale, we would be so thankful. Again, I don't mind picking up anything. Some sweet friends have offered to let us use their storage building to store garage sale items, so we can store whatever you would like to donate for the sale.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

No More Numbers

Sawyer asked me last week what our number is now for Mia. I told him we are all done with numbers, so our number is now:

He thought that was great news! Of course, I think he expected that when we were number 1,we would go get her and didn't think we would still have to wait to bring her home.

For nine months we anxiously awaited our monthly waitlist numbers. We thought we still had at least nine more months of waiting, so it is still crazy to me that we didn't get October numbers.

Since, we never got to the top of the wait list, I never had the time of waiting for a referral call.
There was no jumping every time the phone rang or thinking constantly about when we would get "the call."

Well, now that we are waiting for a court date I am definitely feeling all of that anxiety that I missed out on before. Today at least four families from our agency received court dates. They will all be traveling to Ethiopia in December to meet their children for the first time. I am so, very excited for them!!

We, however, did not receive a call today. So, no court date or travel plans for us just yet. It could still be several weeks before we hear anything or it could be tomorrow. This is so crazy! I am sure my heart is going to flip every time my phone rings between the hours of 9-7 Monday-Friday.

Praying we hear something soon. We would love to meet our girl in 2011!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Toilet Paper for Cats, Pepper Rallys, and Just Say No

I don't think I ever posted any pictures from our trip to the fair a few weeks ago. I am afraid the fair trip was trumped by the acceptance of our referral for Mia. We took the boys to the fair on Jaxon's fourth birthday. He loved it and kept telling everyone that he was 4.
Justin and Sawyer were very brave with the snake. Jaxon was on the other end of the pen petting the bunnies. He didn't want to have anything at all to do with the snakes. I can't say that I blame him.
Thumbs up for mom before the dragon coaster ride started. It's not really as scary as it sounds or as Jax's face looks.

I love picking up the boys from school everyday. They always have such funny stories to tell me about their day. Things sometimes get lost in translation, which makes it even funnier. Sometimes I have to text Jax's teacher to get the real story.

One day a couple of weeks ago Jax told me, "Mom, the cats are coming to school tomorrow and I need to bring cotton balls and toilet paper for them." Me: "Why do the cats need cotton balls and toilet paper?" Jax: "To eat."

I definitely had to ask his teacher about that one. It turns out a lady from the humane society was visiting with cats. His teacher told them to bring "cat food and kitty litter." I have no idea where "cotton balls and toilet paper" came from.

When I picked him up from school the day the cats came, he was so upset. He told me that I needed to pray for the cats to find families. I told him I would when we got home. That wasn't good enough. He made me stop in the cafeteria and pray that the cats would find families. Then he told me maybe God wanted us to adopt a cat. Does anyone think our adoption may be affecting my sweet boy just a bit.

So, on Friday I picked up the boys from school and here is how our conversation went:
Sawyer: "We had a Pepper Rally at school today." aka a pep rally
Me: "You did. That's fun! Was it for Red Ribbon Week?"
Jax: "What's red ribbon week?"
Me: "Where you learn to say no to drugs." Then I immediately thought, "why did I say that? I really don't want to get into a discussion about drugs right now."
Jax: "Yea, drugs are bad. A girl in my class knows someone who got bit by a drug."

That is just another reason to Just Say No, folks!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pumpkin Patch, Provision, and Our Princess

Jax had his first ever field trip yesterday. Unfortunately I had to miss it, because of work. It's hard to take off, since I only work two days a week. Thankfully, Jaxon's best buddy, aka his daddy, was able to go with him. He made sure to take plenty of pictures for me. The class went to the pumpkin patch and then the park to play and eat lunch. When I asked Jax what his favorite part of the field trip was he said, "riding on the bus." That doesn't sound too fun to me, but I am glad he liked it.
My child is the 0ne in front making the very silly face. Gotta love him!
I am so glad Jax had a fun day with his classmates and his daddy.

Speaking of Dad's, I just have to brag on my Heavenly Daddy. He just never ceases to amaze me and right now I am seriously in awe of what He has been doing to provide for our adoption. I mentioned in my last post that from the moment we said "yes" and adopted our referral for Mia M, God has given us such peace and joy.

Well, He has continued to give us good gifts and we are so amazed at his provision for this adoption. In the two weeks since we accepted our referral, we have received $5,000. Some of it has been donations. Some has been unexpected jobs for Justin and other unexpected sources. We are blown away by the awesome love of our Father.

We still have some money to raise, but I have no doubt that God will provide every cent we need to bring our girl home. Earlier this week, the doubts and worries started to creep in. I confessed this to the Lord and asked Him to show me that He was in control. He has shown me again and again, that He is in control and that He is faithful. Still, in my humanness I sometimes doubt and I allow the fear to overtake my thoughts. He calmed me this week by providing in BIG, unexpected ways.

I want to share just one more story, before I go. A few days before we officially accepted our referral, we showed the boys the video of Mia M that our agency sent us. They were both so excited to see her and kept trying to talk to her. I had to tell them it was a video, not Skype. Jax kept kissing the screen. He said "I just love her so much. She is my princess." It was the sweetest thing and I had to fight back tears.

Mia Grace M,
You are our princess and we can't wait to have you home. Your big brother, Sawyer, wants to teach you new things and read books to you. Your other big brother, Jaxon, can't wait to shower you with hugs and kisses. He tells me every day that he wants to hug you. He sleeps with your baby doll every night to keep her safe until you come home. You will have your daddy wrapped around your little finger in no time at all. He is so in love with you already. I also know that your Heavenly Father is quite fond of you. He continues to provide for us to bring you home. I can't wait to tell you all about Him and His amazing love for you. Hold on, sweet one, we are coming for you.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Desires of My Heart

"Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart."
Psalm 37:4

I have been thinking about this verse a lot lately. I have always loved this verse and I love that the Lord is really bringing it alive to me right now. I know for certain that through our adoption journey the desires of my heart have changed. As I have truly been seeking the Lord and falling more and more in love with Him, He has changed the desires of my heart.

I have had this post on my heart for a while now. I shared some about how the Lord lead us to our daughter, but I really want to share more about how the Lord has changed my heart.

I really think it started last February at the Created for Care retreat. One of the breakout sessions I attended was called the joys and challenges of adopting a child with special needs. I had not originally planned to go to the breakout, but at the last minute I decided to go. I think this was the first time I felt the Lord tugging gently at my heart to be open to His plan for us.

About a month after the retreat I had a conversation with Justin where he told me he wouldn't be afraid if God called us to adopt a child with special needs. I went to bed that night and cried myself to sleep, because I knew I was afraid. As the days went by, I confessed my fears to the Lord and also confessed that I had made some decisions out of fear. I didn't want to live my life in fear any longer.

The Lord showed me that I was coming to Him praying for Him to bless us with a child, but that my hands were clenched tight. He showed me that I couldn't accept all He had for us until I relinquished control and opened my hands up to receive everything He had for us.

This was last March and He has continued to tell me through sermons, through songs, through Bible study, through prayer, through blog posts, to TRUST HIM and NOT BE AFRAID. This has pretty much been the theme of my life for the last 6 months. So, I was beginning to understand that God didn't want me to be afraid and I knew it may have to do with our adoption, but I had no idea what God didn't want me to be afraid of.

We really looked at our parameters again and decided to change them slightly. We also really examined all decisions regarding our adoption. I was struggling with the fact that we would be waiting so long for a referral when there were children all over the world waiting for families, especially older children and children with special needs. I wondered if we should have chosen a "waiting child" from the beginning. We prayed and prayed, but really felt like the Lord was telling us to stay with our agency and wait. At the same time, I felt He wanted us to be open to His will knowing He could change "our plans."

In July, Justin and I went on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. The Lord continued to speak to my heart about not being fearful. One morning the missionary we were working with lead a devotion about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He told us that so many times we ask God to take us out of the furnace, to turn down the heat, when we really should be asking Him to meet us in the furnace. I know it is in my nature to want to be comfortable and to avoid the hard stuff. As I listened, I knew that God wanted me to truly trust Him and go outside of my comfort zone. I also fought back tears in that moment, because I just knew God wanted us to adopt a child with special needs.

So, you would think that the moment I saw our daughter's face I would have known for sure she was ours. I believe a part of me did, but I really didn't know for sure. I am almost ashamed to say that we wrestled with this decision for a little over a month. I thought about this decision constantly. I really wanted to make sure it's what God wanted us to do. He was incredibly patient with us and continued to confirm through His word and through His spirit working in us, that He wanted us to adopt this sweet girl.

I prayed and prayed for God to grant us peace in our decision and He finally did. He finally gave peace to my heart, but here's the tricky part, it was after we said "yes". When we finally gave in to the Lord's calling, He filled us with an indescribable peace and joy. When we decided to delight ourselves in Him and open our hearts to accept the blessing of our beautiful girl, He gave us the desires of our hearts.

I am so in love with our little girl. I know I haven't met her yet, but I know that she is the daughter we have been longing for all this time. I'm so thankful my Heavenly Father didn't give up on me and that He didn't give up on our girl. I'm so thankful He patiently and tenderly lead me to truly follow Him and His plan for our family.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

More Waiting

We are not waiting for October numbers. We will no longer post pictures of our girls' number and siblings' number. That part of our adoption journey is over. This is still so strange to me. We really thought we would have at least another nine months of stalking the wait list and updating our numbers.

A good friend of mine told me a few months ago that she was praying we would get our referral by this November. When she told me this, I thought it was very sweet of her, but also impossible. Well, it's October and we have seen our daughter's face, so I guess it wasn't so impossible after all.

So, one part of our waiting is over, and for that I am thankful. We are now waiting for a court date. I am finding that parts of this wait are easier, but some parts are so, very hard. I think about our girl constantly. I stare at her pictures and watch the video again and again. Oh, how I long to hold her.

I am so ready for her to experience the love of a family. I want to whisper in her ear how much the Lord loves her. I want to comfort her when she is scared and take care of her when she is sick. It's hard to do these things when she is on the other side of the world.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Mia Grace M's Friend, Eve M

Our daughter's story is different than most of the children who are referred from our agency. AGCI has a transition home called Hannah's Hope where the children live and are taken care of until their adoptive parents can bring them home. Almost all of the Ethiopian children referred by AGCI live at Hannah's Hope.

Our daughter does not. She is at Edeget orphanage. She has been there since she was a tiny baby. We are praying HARD that she will be able to move to Hannah's Hope soon, but we were told she may not be able to move until we pass court. We are currently waiting for a court date, so this will be at least a few months away. Please join us in praying that she will be able to move soon. She would receive much better care at Hannah's Hope.

There are 2 other children from Edeget who AGCI were advocating for. One of them is a little boy who I pray finds a family soon.

The other is a sweet girl who is going to soon join my friend, Sarah's family. Her name is Eve M and she and our Mia M have lived together for almost 2 years at Edeget. Thankfully, Eve was able to move to HH, and we hope Mia can join her soon.

Sarah has been praying for our daughter and for our family since she first heard about her. I am so thankful to have "met" Sarah and know that our lives are now connected forever because of our precious daughters. The wonderful thing is that they only live a couple of hours away, so hopefully we will be able to keep the girls' connected as they grow. I see birthday parties and weekend play dates in our future.

I am telling you about sweet Eve M today, because Sarah learned this morning that Eve M. has pneumonia. Please pray for the Lord to completely heal her. Also, please pray for her family as they are so far away from their sick child.

You can read about this family's adoption journey on their blog, From the End of the Earth.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Celebrating, Paper Work, and What's Next

It has been a fun week of telling our friends and family about our little girl in Ethiopia. It is such a good feeling to be able to celebrate with people who have been praying for us and our Mia for so long.
Here is a picture of us accepting our referral. Our caseworker (K) has been incredible to work with. She has been so patient and supportive this past month. It was so nice to be able to rejoice with her that our sweet Mia Grace M now has a family.

We went to dinner with our sweet friends, the Strains, on Tuesday to celebrate. This picture isn't very good, but it's all I have from that fun night of celebrating our referral of our daughter. This family is so, so, very precious to us. They have been a huge support to us during every step of the adoption. Megan has been there to laugh with me, cry with me during the hard times, pray for us, and just listen to me. I am so glad we get to do life with this wonderful family.
It's so crazy that we are going to soon need a table for 10 when our 2 families meet for dinner. Their two girls have been praying for baby Mia from the very beginning. I'm so glad they will get to see their prayers answered as we bring our daughter home.
Sawyer and Jolie are fun friends and they just had to have their picture taken together.

In other news, Justin and I turned in all of our referral paperwork on Friday to officially accept our referral. Yay!!!

This week we will have our Next Steps phone call to discuss what to expect from now on. The big question I get from every one is "when will she be home?" At this time we really don't know. We have to do some more waiting, of course. We have to make 2 trips to Ethiopia. During the first trip we will meet our daughter, spend time with her, and go to court to hopefully have the judge say, "she is your daughter." So, for now we are waiting for a court date. I am thinking this could be sometime in January, but we really just have to wait and see.

So, what are we up to while we wait? We still have some money to raise in order to be able to get our sweetie home. So, we are in the process of applying for grants and continuing to fundraise. Justin is still taking pictures and has a lot scheduled in the coming weeks. If you are local and want to have Justin do a photography session for your family, please let us know. We are also hoping to have a garage sale.

We also need to get Mia Grace M's room ready. I'm so excited to have a girl this time. We are also currently working on updating our home study. It expires in November, so we were already in the process of updating and paper chasing once again. We are waiting for our fingerprint approval from the FBI. I have no doubt we will be busy while we wait.

We also appreciate your prayers as we wait and work to get our girl home!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Mia Grace M

We are so overwhelmed by the outpouring of love we have received from family, friends, and even strangers since we have told everyone about our daughter. Our daughter, those are my two new favorite words. My heart is so full as I think about our sweet girl!!!

We will not be able to show pictures of her sweet face on the internet until she is home. Of course, if you are live near me, I will certainly be delighted to show you her pretty picture.

We also, will not be able to share her Ethiopian name, but I do want to tell you a little about her name.

We chose the name Mia Grace for our daughter over a year ago, when we still thought our daughter was an infant in Rwanda. I announced the name and blogged about it here.

The name Mia means mine or my, and of course you know what Grace means. We chose 2 Corinthians 12:9 for our daughter and for our adoption journey.

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

The Lord brought this verse to me often during our adoption journey. I usually just concentrated on the first part.

When Rwanda stopped accepting dossiers and we had to switch countries, I remembered, "My grace is sufficient for you."

When we found out our wait would be longer than expected and when things were uncertain with the Ethiopian courts, I remembered, "My grace is sufficient for you."

When we first started praying about baby M, the Lord reminded me of the verse again. This time I really thought about the whole verse and what it meant. It says, "my power (the Lord's power) is made perfect in weakness. Wow!!! I love this so much. When we learned about Mia's special needs, all of my fears and weaknesses became forefront in my mind, but the Lord whispered this verse to my heart to comfort me.

Mia Grace's Ethiopian name means mirror. So all together Mia Grace M means a Mirror of my Grace. I have been praying every single day that she will be a mirror, a reflection, of God's grace and love. I can tell you that for us she already is. I can already see the amazing grace of my sweet Lord for leading us to our girl. The Lord has already worked miracles in our daughter's life and I pray that when people meet her or hear her story they will remember how much our Heavenly Father loves his children.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Unexpected Bessing

I have been wanting to write this post for so long and now I can't even think of how to start. Yesterday, Justin and I accepted a referral for a beautiful little girl!!!! We are so in love and we can not wait to have our girl home.

If you have been following our adoption journey then you know that our September number was 47 for a girl. No, we did not jump to the top of the list in less than a month.

I need to rewind a bit to begin this story. On August 17 our adoption agency sent out an e-mail to advocate for two new "waiting" children. This means these children were not within the parameters of anyone of the wait list, including us. One of them was a sweet little boy who is still waiting for his forever family and who I pray finds one very soon. The other was a beautiful 2.5 year old girl. (I can't share her Ethiopian name, so I will call her baby M for now). As soon as I saw her picture and started reading about her, I said out loud, "Is this our Mia?" I really can't explain it, but there was just something about her that captured my heart.

I told Justin about baby M when he got home and we began to pray that the Lord would bring her a family. A couple of days later I just could not get her out of my mind. I came to Justin, crying, and told him that I couldn't stop thinking about her. I didn't know if we were the family, but I knew that I deeply wanted her to have a family. Justin told me I should e-mail our caseworker, K, and let her know that we were interested in learning more about baby M. So, I did.

A couple of days later I heard from K that there was another family who was already looking into adopting baby M. I was happy that she had a potential family, but also a little sad that we were not the family. I continued to pray for her and wonder about how she was doing.

On August 30 I got the call that would change our lives forever. I was sitting down to check my e-mail when I got the call from K. I knew that it was not time for an update call, so I was freaking out a little inside when I answered the phone. K told me that they were still looking for a family for M and asked if I wanted to learn more about her. I told her I did, but asked if I could call her back on my home phone. I sent Justin a text to tell her I was about to talk to K about baby M. He text me back that he was in staff meeting, but he would pray.

K told me all that she knew about sweet M as I listened and wiped tears from my eyes. I will not share all of our little girl's story, because it is her story. I will tell you that she does have special needs. We had not originally requested a child with special needs, but the Lord had been working on our hearts for some time now in regards to this issue. I will write more about this another day.

So, for the past month we have been talking to an international pediatrician, working with AGCI to find out as much as we could about Baby M, praying like crazy for God to show us clearly what to do, and ultimately falling in love with our sweet girl.

When we started our adoption we thought we would be adopting a baby girl 0-12 months from Rwanda. I never would have imagined we would be where we are today, but I know without a doubt that God's hand has been guiding us the entire time. I know He has been preparing our hearts for our little M, since before we even said yes to adoption.

I am happy to say that baby M is the Mia we have been waiting for. Yesterday, we called K and told her that we wanted to adopt baby M. I think we have known in our hearts for a while now that she was ours, but we just wanted to be sure. I can now say that we are sure that sweet M is the girl God has chosen for our family. We are no longer on the waitlist and she is no longer a waiting child!!!! Praise the Lord!!!

"In his heart a man plans his coure, but the LORD determines his step." Proverbs 16:9