Friday, December 28, 2012

While We Wait - Gifts

I'm not going to lie.  I (Kelley) have been weepy more than once during the Christmas holidays as my heart has longed for our girl.  When we first got on the waiting list with our agency, we were told by our caseworker that she expected us to receive a referral in 3 to 4 months.  Here we are almost 12 months later...with no referral.

Some of you wonder how we can already love a child we do not know.  I know you think this....because some of you have asked.  And the only explanation that I have is....God.  We love (her) because He first loved (us).  He placed us on this journey and, already, He has instilled a love in our hearts for our daughter.

And as our families gathered this Christmas season, I often found myself on the verge of tears (or in tears) as her absence with us for another holiday weighed heavily on my heart.

But God, as He is always so very faithful to do, gave me/us the gift of SO many reminders of His great love for us.  And for our "LG" (Little Girl).

We received physical gifts like these.......that let us know that she was in the hearts of others:






We received precious notes in books soon to be hers....reminding her that she is loved and prayed for.
(This one, by the way, was a tear jerker for me).

Prayers were prayed for her as we gathered at mealtime; sweet prayers but painful reminders that one of us was missing in our (daily) lives but not in our hearts.

And at times when I needed the reminder(s), sweet friends randomly sent messages through cards, calls, Facebook or text messages reminding me that we were being thought of, prayed for and loved.  Messages like this:  "You certainly do not have to worry that she is being covered in prayer...y'all too, I have no doubt".  And this:  "When you get sad and your faith feels weak, you can rest in knowing others are standing in the gap for you".  Messages reminding us that loved ones were thinking of "our little pink boots" and how they SOON would be filled.  Reminders to "hang in there; it's going to be SO worth the wait".  I'm so very thankful for ALL of these gifts, for a loving and faithful Gift Giver who, through the Holy Spirit, reminds others to remind us that we are not forgotten....and when I say "we", of course I mean "SHE". 






Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas 2012 - Thinking of Mary

I guess this is what happens when you're a Mom but, more and more, when I reflect on Christmas and the ultimate gift we've been given in Jesus, I can't help but go to a place where my mind wanders to Mary, his mother.

One of my favorite Christmas tunes has always been "Mary Did You Know" and I do still love the message in that song but, this year, it was replaced by a new one (to me) by Francesca Battistelli.  Her song, "You're Here" has been my personal favorite this Christmas season.  If you haven't heard it, take a minute and listen to the words.  As parents, we never know, when we stare into the eyes of our children who they are ultimately to be.   



Like Mary, I've been given the precious gift of my children and I often wonder what it is that God has planned for them.  It can be exciting and scary all at the same time.  Mary surely didn't want to witness the journey that her boy had to take and, though it doesn't compare, I too have had to watch my boys experience hard life lessons.  (And I'm certain that there will be many more).

Today, as I reflect on how thankful I am for the birth of Jesus Christ, I can't help but be thankful for each of my children.  For our oldest, Jordan, who has matured so much in the last year or so.  He is no longer a boy but a Godly young man with so much wonder for history, music and travel; he continually impresses his Dad and I.  For our soon-to-be middle child who has had almost 15 years in the "baby" spot.  Braeden is such a creative teenager, a talented musician, a loyal friend and has the most sensitive heart.  And to our baby girl, whose eyes we've not yet stared into.....tears build just beyond the surface of my eyes today as you are thought of and loved from so far away.  Our sweet family has remembered you in thought, in conversation and with gifts this Christmas season and we all look SO forward to loving you in person soon.  

God has a GREAT plan for each of you....and we are so eager to see it unfold in your lives.  


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

While We Wait - So Close & Yet So Far

It was about this time last year that we posed for our annual Christmas cards wearing our newly designed/produced Adoption T-Shirts.  And as I penned our (not always) annual Christmas letter, I used that forum to announce that we were adopting.  At the time, we had just recently sent our dossier on its way to Ethiopia and we were so certain that this year's picture would include our little girl.

(November 2011 - Photo Credit to Jeff Williams and the camera's timer:)

As Thanksgiving 2012 approached and I began to think about this year's card/letter, I knew that we had to include her somehow.

And what represents life with girls more than a little PINK?

I not only wanted to have her present through the color pink but I also wanted to honor her country and make note of the fact that she's so close but yet so far away.  

(November 2012 - Photo credit to Emily Drake Photography)

We are SO very hopeful that those little boots will be filled in 2013!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Adopted

God has been impressing upon me for several days that there is something that I am to say here on this blog.

When a child is adopted, they become a member of a new family.  They are given a new identity, a new name, a new home, a new opportunity and, eventually, a new inheritance.

Adoption into God's family is all of that and SO much more.

If you have accepted Christ as your Savior, you have become a son or a daughter.  You are a priceless treasure in the eyes of your Heavenly Father.  You did nothing to deserve it, you can do nothing to earn it.  It is free, it is final; you are forgiven.  He adopted you and you are now His.

If you have not (accepted Christ as your Savior), what are you waiting for?

The price has already been paid.  Forgiveness is yours for the taking.  Please, don't wait one more day to become a child of God.  His son.  His daughter.  Our family.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Monthly Wait-List Update









Well, thanks to Lesley Scott and those wonderful people at Lifeline Children's Services, we received our updated Wait List number today and we are number 3...we are very excited and are already playing through the scenarios in our mind on the timing and the holidays.  Similar to what my bride mentioned last time, to our knowledge, there is no one ahead of us looking for a referral for a child older than 2 years old so that means that we are likely number 1 on the list for a child older than 2, which is both awesome and scary.  The reality of the possibility for us to be on a plane between now and the end of the year to go to Ethiopia to meet our daughter is mind boggling.  

One of the really cool parts of the update was that 10 children were matched with their forever families during November.  Praise God for that and for all of His many blessings.

In one of her recent posts, my sweet bride indicated that I am a Type A personality.  That is true at least to some extent...well no actually it is completely true, but that can be a good thing.  One area that I think it could work well would be if we got our referral and went to Ethiopia to meet our daughter and I was able to stay there while we wait on our paperwork to pass through the US Embassy in Ethiopia.  I could use my Type A personality to bug the poo poo (and I thought my days of using words like poo poo, shoo shoo and tushy were long gone since my youngest child at home is 14, and when I use those words he thinks I am weird...actually he thinks I am weird either way, but as I was sayin) and maybe encourage some greater sense of urgency on their part to speed up the process of bringing our little girl home.  Please pray for us as Kelley and I walk through those kinds of decisions and do what God would have us do.  For me, leaving my daughter in Ethiopia after court may be more than I can handle...Thanks and WOO HOO!!!  We are NUMBER 3!!!!!

Thanks and God Bless!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

While We Wait - Peace and Prayers

You know those (Type A) people who punch the elevator button OVER and OVER and OVER....as if the elevator might come more quickly?

Yeah.  I'm not one of those people.

Really.  I'm not.  (Jeff is but that's another story for another day;).

However, I have attempted to be one of those people in the last several months as we have gotten closer and closer to the top of the wait list.  (As if there is anything that I might be able to do to speed things up).  I've analyzed the wait list over and over again (just like pushing the elevator button); I've spent time plotting out in my mind what steps would need to take place when the call comes (where will I be...where will Jeff be....how will I get in touch with him...how long will it take us to get to the same location so that we can see her face together for the first time); and I have stared at the face of my cell phone, willing it to ring, far too often.

Lately, I've felt so much peace about God's timing and I have (sortof) been able to let go of much of the anxiety.  (Now, next week -or tomorrow- when I'm stressing again, don't hold that against me...okay?).  My brother's wedding, having house guests and the arrival of the holidays has probably been good for me in this regard.  I like peace.

It occurred to me in the last day or so that, while I have this peace, I should do something positive with my time and, in addition to my normal go-to things like cleaning, laundry and, for now, breaking out the Christmas decor, I decided that I wanted to do something I haven't done not one time in the last 11 months.  Pray for my fellow waiting families.  Each of them.

 (Actually, I have prayed for some specific families when they've been at certain points or experiencing certain things in their journey(s) but I've never blanketed the whole group in prayer).

You know, we are not the only Lifeline family.  In fact, when we were added to the wait list in January of 2012, we came onto the list at #29.  Today, there are more than 90 families waiting to adopt a little one from Ethiopia through Lifeline Children's Services.  And there are many others who are in various different steps of the paperwork process.

I have begun to pray for each family and the child (or children) who soon will join their families.  Will you join me and pray for them too?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Dossi-Anniversier!

I was Facebook chatting with a fellow adoptive Mom earlier tonight when, all of a sudden, I realized that it was this very Saturday one year ago that Jeff & I found ourselves finally being able to send our dossier off.  (It was actually on November 26th but it was the Saturday following Thanksgiving....you can read about it here.)

I have to say.....I never in a million years thought that we would still be waiting for a referral this many months later.  I never thought that we would actually find ourselves as close to the top of the waiting list as we are now.  I really thought, because we weren't requesting an infant, that we would receive a referral long before we ever reached the top of the list....shows how much I know.  (His ways are not my ways; His thoughts not mine....but SO much better).

Tonight at dinner, Jeff and I were discussing how close we are and what our next steps will look like.  (By the way, for evidence of how close we are, you need only to see our reaction at the sound of my cell phone ringing.  For any of you that call my cell phone, don't take it personally when I sound disappointed that it is "just you").

AND....how close are we, you ask.  Well....officially we are #6 (as of November 1st), but unofficially, we are certain that we are #4 (because of two referrals that were given out at the beginning of the month) and we also know that one of the top two families is "on hold" for a referral for several months which would sortof make us #3.  There is also a rumor that another of the family's in front of us is on a hold as well (the one family has confirmed it on our FB page; this other family has not)...this would make us #2.  AND....if that is, in fact, the case, the one family in front of us is requesting a Girl, age 0-2 which would mean that we are the next family for a Girl over the age of 2 but under the age of 7.  Makes sense, right?


Friday, November 9, 2012

While We Wait

If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time, you know about my youngest niece, Sadie.  (There's a cute Sadie story HERE).

(Who am I kidding?  If you have read or are reading my blog, you're related and, of course you know Sadie.)

Today, my sister Ashley (aka Sadie's mom), Sadie and myself went to Nashville's annual Christmas Village.  At one point, we were in a booth for a Ugandan ministry that had bracelets for sale to benefit orphans.  First, Sadie helped me choose an African mama doll carrying a baby on her back.  As I was paying for the doll, Sadie came carrying a bracelet and some money.  She proudly told the lady checking us out that it wasn't for her but it was for her cousin in Africa.  So sweet.  And, of course, we had to make sure that Sadie got one of her own as well.  Here she is showing it off:


By the way, Sadie's family is really close to having their own family added to soon.  All of their paperwork, etc. should be completed next week to officially begin accepting foster children into their home.  We're all thinking some big phone calls are in order in the coming days.

In the meantime, being so close to the top of the ol' waiting list is really exciting; especially considering that the month of November has already been very active in the referral department...and there's still a lot of November left.

One of the things that I have found really helpful in the wait is our agency's Facebook group.  It's always nice to "spend time" with people who "get" what you're going through.  If you happen to be a Lifeline family and would like to be added to the FB group, please leave me a comment and I'll be happy to add you.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Dear LG ("Little Girl),

Yesterday, in honor of Orphan Sunday, Jeff posted the sweetest "note" on Facebook and I wanted to share it here so that we will always have it to remember.

"To LG (my Little Girl): 

I have been waiting 306 days today for you to come home. I know you have been waiting a lot longer than that. I prayed and hoped you would be home by now, but you're not. I pray each day for you, that you aren't hungry, or cold, or lonely, or wet, or being abused. I pray that you know you are loved and that Mom and Dad are coming for you in God's time. But still we wait. I love you LG. I pray that this is the last Orphan Sunday that we celebrate apart...".

I love where God has taken/is taking our family; His fingerprints are clearly on this journey and, as we get closer to the end of this part of things, I can't help but wonder where He might use us to help others (adoptive families, adoption ministry, orphans, etc.).

On another (very exciting) note, before we went to bed last night, I took one last peek at Facebook and learned that our agency had given out a referral (on Orphan Sunday...how cool) to the family in the #1 position (as of November 1st).  This family received the referral of a 2 1/2 year old girl which is very encouraging as toddler/preschool-age referrals have been few and far between lately.  For us, this means that we are unofficially (we won't get a new "official" number until December) now #5!  3 of the 4 families in front of us are on a FB group for our agency; 2 of them are waiting for girls, age 0-2 and one is waiting for a girl, age 0-4.  I am unsure of the parameters for the missing family (now in the #1 spot....unofficially, of course) but it is very possible that we are next in line for a girl older than 4.  

Boldly, I'm praying for a referral by Thanksgiving.

Edited to add:  The minute that I shared this update to Facebook and hopped over to make sure that it posted, I noticed a new post in our FB group (the one for families in our agency).  The family who had been holding the #3 spot (since Thursday) received a referral today for an 8-month-old baby girl.  I think that this means that (remember, we are unsure of the family in the #2 spot but think that they are waiting for a boy) we are next in line for a girl over the age of 4 and second in line for a girl over 2.  

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Orphan Sunday 2012

November is Adoption Awareness Month.

Today is Orphan Sunday.

Orphans....(particularly one little one who will prayerfully soon join our family)....invade our thoughts on a daily basis now.  The statistics are staggering but, more than that are the faces.  David Platt has been quoted as saying this and it is so true:

"We learned that orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they are not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do everything changes".

EVERYTHING has changed for us.  And we are humbly grateful to have been wrecked in this way.

So often, it is easy to turn the channel or just consider things as someone else's problem but, as Christians, this is our problem.  If we are His hands and feet, how could it not be?  I believe that we are all called to do something.  Pray, sponsor, GO, give, love, adopt.....

Did you know that there is a statistic that says that 34% of Christians consider adopting but only 1% actually do?  And, further, are you aware that if only 8% of the people who call themselves Christians would actually adopt an orphan, there would no longer be a crisis.  Is God calling YOU?  Is he urging YOU?  We would love to share our experiences thus far, we would be honored to pray with/for you.  You can email us at movedtomove@gmail.com.

In the meantime, I love this video from ONEless:






Thursday, November 1, 2012

And then we were......


But the VERY BEST news is that ELEVEN children were placed (by our agency) into their forever families during the month of October.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Long and Winding Road.....of Adoption (and Life)

Our adoption journey is one that began many years ago.  It's not one that was begun on a whim (not that one that was born on a whim would be wrong....God works in us all differently).  The road has been long and, for a long time, stretched way, way, WAY out before us.  We are committed to this journey because, for once in our lives, we are being obedient to what He has called us to; not because it's the new trendy thing to do or even because we weren't content with the family that we have.

(Actually, allow me to chase a rabbit here...to say that putting yourself through the grueling process of adoption and THEN raising a child (or children) to boot is a "trend", annoys me to no end.  On a MUCH smaller scale, it would be like saying that having a root canal was a trend....so, HEY!, let's all go get one; all the cool kids are doing it).

But I digress...

God placed us on this road to adoption many years ago.  He has orchestrated and directed every step along the path....and we rest in that....most of the time.

Until the moment when a curve in that road occurs....and we can, if only momentarily, not see the road ahead.

There have been a few times in these last months that the road veered slightly to the right or to the left.

Without going into too much detail, we approached a "curve" in the road last week and, as a result, spent the last 5 days or so checking in closely with our navigator.  We want desperately to follow him to our destination (the one where He makes our family complete).  On one hand, we want to stay steadily on this road that He's placed us on and not move ahead of Him.  But on the other, we don't want to put him in a box and think that he can only accomplish this thing in this way...and so, we pray and we seek and He always is faithful in the end, to carefully set our feet back on the road...all the while, teaching us many lessons about ourselves and our need for His guidance, about the people in our life who intercede on our behalf and, of course, about Himself.

We are so thankful.


Monday, October 22, 2012

USCIS Amendment - Check!

As we were heading out the door last Thursday for a quick weekend trip to Chicago (we LOVE that city!), we checked the mail and were thankful to receive our new I171-H.  I mentioned previously that we were applying to expand our age parameter so this is not new news; I just wanted to post for the sake of keeping an accurate accounting of our adoption journey.  The I171-H is issued by the USCIS and, basically, gives us permission/approval to bring a child into the US.  We had originally applied and received approval for a 3-5 year old girl.  Our new I-171H approves us for a 2-6 year old girl.  The process was an easy one and now...we wait some more.  

You'd think, by now, we'd be getting good at it.  (Waiting, that is).  Well, not so much.

Soon we will turn our calendars to a new month and that means that we will get a new update regarding where we are on the wait list.  I hear that there have been two, maybe three (or four) referrals given in the month of October but I only know of one of those that affect our position.  We should be at least #8 on the list as of November 1st.  We'll see if there are any other surprises.



Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Our Girl

I had lunch yesterday with one of my favorite people on the planet.  She and I have been friends for close to twenty years.  We aren't able to see one another nearly often enough but, when we do, we make the absolute most of it.  Sometimes taking up residence in a restaurant booth for, oh, HOURS.  In fact, the last time that we met, we literally wore out our welcome.  The restaurant closed.  I looked up at one point and realized that the two remaining workers were turning off the "OPEN" sign in the window - OOPS!  That didn't stop us....we moved outdoors and parked it on a nearby bench.  And then, when it got too hot, we got in her car and drove for a bit.

As I was thinking through some of our discussion yesterday, I couldn't help but see God in the details.

One of the first questions she asked was about the adoption, of course.

You should know, this friend of mine, she doesn't just ask basic questions.  And she doesn't want basic answers either.   Her thoughts are deep and when she asks a question, she's not just trying to make nice.  She really wants to dive in and see what's going on.  Not just any old "fine" will do.  I love that about her!

And so she asked how I was feeling about the wait.  She asked if I ever wondered if we heard God wrong or if we had considered just throwing in the towel.

My response to her was something like this:  "Waiting is hard.  It's not something that any of us are good at or want to do but, because I know the character of my God, I know that there is a purpose in the waiting.  I know that there will come a time when I will look back on the wait and I will see and know and understand His timing".

As I shared this answer with her, giant tears filled her eyes.

You see, this friend has three wonderful children.  They are spaced out almost exactly five years apart.  And that was not their plan.  Between each of her children, she suffered several miscarriages.  I used to be able to tell you exactly how many but, at this moment, I can't recall.  It was more than one family should have to bear.

Tears filled her eyes and she shared that she could now see why God made her wait as well and that, in fact, her youngest had recently asked his Dad, regarding the miscarriages, "If you and Mom had gotten to have those other babies, would you have me?".

Be still my heart.

And they were able to say to him, "You know, buddy, that's the thing about God....He knows so much more than we do and He KNEW that YOU were the one that was supposed to be our boy".

God knows the one that's supposed to be our girl....and though there are times that I wish I could do something to shorten the wait, the truth is that I wouldn't want any other girl but our girl.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

And, it's off.....

The process has been, shall I say, pretty anticlimactic but, nonetheless, it is noteworthy.....

Today, we mailed out to the USCIS office, the paperwork needed to amend our original request to adopt a 3-5 year old girl.  We have asked that the age of the child we are considered for be expanded to a child from the age of 2 to the age of 6.  The process required our home study agency to issue an amendment to the original home study.  We submitted this new amendment, along with a copy of our original home study, a copy of our original document of approval from USCIS (i171h) and a letter with specifics regarding the changes that we wish to make to USCIS and, we've been told, should receive a response rather quickly.

Once the approval is granted/received, our agency will "officially" change our parameters on the wait list.  It will not change our current spot (#9) either upward or downward, just opens us up to a slightly wider "variety" of children with which we can be matched.

I must admit it was a bit of a good feeling to, once again, feel as if I were doing something in regards to our adoption.  Not that anything I/we did changes His timing; it absolutely doesn't.  I pray the next thing that we do is accept a referral.  ; )

Friday, September 28, 2012

Monthly Wait-List Update

Our wait-list update was delivered a little early this month as our agency's Ethiopia coordinator is leaving for an, I'm sure, much-needed vacation.  (After all, she puts up with a lot of families just.like.ours on a daily basis).  Bless her heart!

As I previously predicted, it looks like we're going to be hanging onto the number 9 for a bit longer.

We have begun the process to expand our parameters to accept a child from the age of 2 to the age of 6.  This requires an amendment to our original home study (which is being prepared next week) and an application to amend our USCIS paperwork.  Once we receive approval from USCIS, our age range will "officially" be updated on the waiting list.  And, who knows, maybe we'll get a referral before then anyway.  Wouldn't that be something?  (Luckily, it's not costing us an arm and a leg).

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Tom Petty Was Right

Tom Petty had it right when he said (or sang), "Oh, the way-ay-ting is the hardest part".

It occurred to me this morning that if this were a real pregnancy, I'd be in my third trimester.  To be specific, I'd be almost 38 weeks pregnant at this point.  And miserable.  (Oh, wait....).  I'd be sitting around with my feet up, visiting the doctor weekly and, reluctantly (ha!), allowing others to wait on me hand and foot.

Instead, I often feel that we've been dropped into the black hole of waiting (which, by the way, is no one's fault; just the way it is).  I can't feel a baby moving and we don't have the promise that we definitely will NOT go past the 40 week mark.  Instead, what I know is that we've been waiting 38 weeks....and we may very well wait 38 more.

If you're the praying type, not even one would be wasted on us (for peace, for patience, for discernment).  We have received some information from our agency regarding our potential wait that is a bit discouraging.  Technically, there is only one family ahead of us on the wait list whose parameters (age and sex) are similar to ours.  That's the good news.  The bad news is that this family has been waiting for 18 months.

We have the ability to amend our Home Study and extend our parameters; broadening the possibilities, if you will.  We know that He has a plan....and it's perfect, as always.  We just don't want to run ahead of him.....or lag behind because we're not listening.

I'm not going to lie and say that we aren't discouraged.  We are.  But this too shall pass and I know that there will come a time that we will look back on these days and know what a vapor they really were.

In other news, we're rounding out another month and new wait list numbers will be communicated soon.  At this point, I am not anticipating any movement on the list.  Last month was a big month for all of us; we're probably due a little lull.  : )



Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sweet Ruthie Grace

One of the absolute highlights of our adoption journey has been meeting fellow adoptive families, both live and in person and via the internet.  Sweet, sweet like minded people are a blessing.

Several months ago, I "met" via Facebook a family from Alabama who were fundraising to bring their sweet girl home from China.  The Boyd family sold our adoption tees for their adoption and I just can't even tell you how exciting it was when they came home with Ruthie Grace and pictures like these showed up on Facebook.







Welcome home Ruthie Grace.......I'm SO thankful that you are one less!

While We Wait - ETC 2012

Last week, for two days (Friday and Saturday), Jeff & I attended the Empowered to Connect (ETC) Conference which, lucky for us, was held right here in our own city.  I consider it such a blessing to have had this opportunity as the conference is only held a few times per year and all over the country; what are the chances that it would land LITERALLY down the street at such a time as this (for us).  God's timing....it's always perfect, huh?

The conference is based upon a book co-written by Dr. Karyn Purvis and Dr. David Cross titled "The Connected Child".  Dr. Purvis is the Director of the Institute of Child Development at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas.  During the past decade, she and her colleagues at the Institute have invested their efforts towards developing research-based interventions for at-risk children.  Throughout her life, Dr. Purvis' personal and professional calling has been to create a welcoming, loving environment for children.  Foster and adoption issues have always been at the heart of her work, and when her own children were small, she served as foster mother to many children  (taken from her bio, found here).  Her work is highly esteemed and her book is required reading for most, if not all, parents pursuing adoption.  It certainly was for us.


I went into the weekend thinking that we would learn a lot of specifics about what to do, specifically, when you bring your child home and how to transition him/her into your family.  As it turns out, the conference was about so much more.  It was packed (and I do mean PACKED) with so much great information; some of which was extremely scientific but Dr. Purvis did a great job of "dumbing it down" for people like me.  I love the way that she took the extremely scientific and interjected practical ways to incorporate this parenting style into your family.  What I love even more is that throughout the event, Dr. Purvis modeled such Christ-like behavior as she spoke often of the children that she "served"and incorporated scripture.  Many times during the event, as she spoke of children she has served, she teared up and her sweet spirited voice would crack; a testament, I believe, to the heart that she has for these children from hard places.


Below are just a very few of the thoughts that we walked away with:
  • Every child who comes through adoption or the foster system have come from what Dr. Purvis calls "hard places".  Even the baby who is adopted at birth.
  • One of the things that Dr. Purvis is most passionate about is giving children a voice.  During the conference, she shared a picture of newborn orphans in a Russian hospital (2007) whose little mouths had been duct taped so that the nurses didn't have to hear their cries.  Some children do not have a voice.  Others are simply not heard.  
  • The human brain develops differently for children/people who have experienced trauma.  All the way back to the womb.  How it develops matters.  You can't just discipline someone whose brain is not properly developed into the behavior that you desire.  
  • Many children need help identifying their own feelings.  Their feelings need to be validated and then they need to be empowered to regulate their own emotions which is terribly difficult for many of these children.
  • Dr. Purvis and TCU teach Trust Based Parenting methods which are based upon more than a decade of research with vulnerable children.
  • Undoing the past isn't necessarily easy.  But it isn't impossible either.  It takes patience and dedication.
  • Things like voice control and body language make a huge difference and saying "yes" often is critical.  (This absolutely doesn't mean that the parent is permissive...quite the opposite).
  • These children do not / will not respond well to the same parenting style that we have used on our biological children.  And to be honest, now that we have been made aware of something different, we don't want to parent the same.  In fact, one of the first things that we did was to apologize to our two boys.  : )
  • Every child needs to know, OFTEN, how precious they are and what an awesome job God did when He created them.
It was a great weekend and, for me (Kelley), filled some of this wait time with something that felt proactive involving our adoption.  An added bonus was that we were able to spend a little time with a fellow Lifeline (our agency) family.  It was so great to meet the Burts and look forward to following their journey as well.  



Friday, August 31, 2012

Monthly Wait-List Update

Have I mentioned lately how much we LOVE our agency?

Yeah, I thought so.

Lifeline decided to surprise us all today by going ahead and sending out our monthly updates.  The long holiday weekend is upon us and somehow Lesley knew that we would all be itching...wishing the weekend away in hopes for our favorite (or sometimes not-so-favorite) email of the month which I expected would come next Tuesday at the earliest.

And so, without further adieu, we have arrived in the single digits, folks.  You are looking at family number........



Better than that....a total of TWELVE children (6 with special needs and 6 healthy infants) were matched with their forever families through our agency in the month of August.  Our family moved a total of 5 spots which is the most movement we've seen in any given month.  Hip Hip Hooray!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

While We Wait (and a family update)

Over here at the Williams household, things are back to school-year-normal.  Jordan is back at Union University for his Sophomore year.  We miss him around here but continue to be so thankful for the opportunity that he has to learn at UU.  This semester, he is taking Greek which is sure to be a challenge.  Braeden is back at the bottom of the proverbial totem pole as a Freshman at Ravenwood High School.  He seems to really be enjoying the new atmosphere and LIKES school.  This is new and different...and such a welcomed change.

We're once again approaching the beginning of a new month and, next week, should receive a new update as to where we stand on our agency's wait list.  The 1st falls on the upcoming long holiday (Labor Day) weekend, so our email will likely not come until next week.  I am anticipating that we will be #10 but single digits would be fun too, huh?

In the meantime, I'm so humbled and proud of my sister Ashley and brother-in-law John who have been attending PATH classes to become certified to foster children.  This decision has come after MUCH prayer and consideration.  They are doing lots of room moving and house prep to prepare themselves for placements and should actually be able, by the end of September, to begin taking in children.  Please be in prayer for their family (and the children who will potentially be placed there) and feel free to follow along as their story unfolds.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Sweet Reminder

Yesterday, following our church's service, a sweet lady in our congregation sought me out to say that, during the service, she'd had an overwhelming feeling that we were going to get our referral call on that very day.

It's the day after and we did not get a call.  But that's okay.  It was such a sweet reminder to me that others are tuned into and praying for our family and that's a great feeling.

Thank you Jesus for friends and family who walk this walk alongside us in every way.

Friday, August 10, 2012

An Adoption of the Heart

"A little child enters your life and fills a special place in your heart.  A place you never even knew was empty." Author Unknown

This blog is normally reserved for thoughts and facts regarding our adoption but tonight, something else is on my mind.

God used my trip to Ethiopia to reveal so much to me and many blessings have come from that trip of a lifetime; not the least of which is a relationship that I now have with a young boy named Teraku.  I once shared Teraku's story on my "old" blog but I think it bears repeating.

In preparing for my trip, one of the people groups that I most longed to meet were the people of Korah.  Korah is adjacent to the trash dump in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia's capital city) and the people who live there are the poorest of the poor.  Many years ago, lepers were taken to live in Korah as they were believed to be cursed.  Generations later, the people of Korah still struggle; many spend their days digging through the trash heaps to find food to eat and items to sell to sustain themselves and their families.  




All throughout Ethiopia, the children excitedly approached our vans; mostly to see what we might have to give them (and sometimes just to get a glimpse of the white people).  We would hear a lot of "give me" or "cahndee" (candy, obviously) and were happy to oblige.  Korah was different.  The children there almost immediately began to ask, "sponsor?", "sponsor?".  

It is clear that they know what a difference sponsorship can/will make in their lives.  And, through Project 61, that is happening and many of the children who previously were destined for a life lived in Korah (with no education) are now attending school and flourishing.  

I met Teraku on our first day in Korah.  His sad face said more to me than words ever could and his friend was lovingly pulling him along, advocating for him to have a sponsor.  "He's a clever student", his friend told me and I couldn't help but to oblige.  



Teraku, on that day, became part of my family.  I had a Teraku-shaped hole in my heart....and I didn't even know it.

When I returned to Korah on that Friday, he was waiting for me.  He had written me a letter in green marker which said, among other things, that "I was his gift from God".  But what he didn't (and likely still doesn't) know is that HE is my gift from God.  That boy makes me want to be a better person and has taught me to love in new ways.

As Teraku and I were visiting on that day, I noticed that he had that same green marker on his arm that was in my letter.  I asked him if I could see what he had written there.  He agreed and I slid the sleeve of his ragged, dirty jacket up to find the sweetest expression of love I might have ever seen.  My name and his, encircled by a heart.   




I long to wrap my arms around him and tell him again how much he is loved.  I want so badly for the rest of my family to meet him and let him fill their Teraku-shaped hole as well.
I give thanks for him and for the fact that, today, most of the pictures that I am sent of him look more like this....


  
(This pic of Teraku was taken in July, as some friends were in Ethiopia and graciously allowed me to send him some goodies.....after all, every good Ethiopian boy needs a Tennessee t-shirt)

There are many credible child sponsorship programs out there and what I want you to know is that child sponsorship truly makes a difference.  And the child you sponsor might get a little something out of it too.  

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

While We Wait - Empowered Conference

An adopted child ALWAYS comes as the result of a loss.

Because of that, parenting the adopted child is different.  Their ability to trust has been threatened and, often, because they have had many caregivers, a parent is nothing special....just another somebody who will take care of me and then leave.  

Thankfully, there are great resources available for families who are adopting, fostering, etc.  We were required, through our agency, to read several of the most well respected books on the subject.  In addition, we did two online seminars as part of the preparation for our adoption.

We recently registered to attend an Empowered to Connect Conference which is being sponsored by Show Hope and is being held at a church (literally) down the street from us.  It is a great opportunity to build on what we've already been reading and learning and, for me (Kelley), it just gives me something to do while we wait.



We are looking forward to learning more and to spending time with some other adoptive families.

Friday, August 3, 2012

August....

.....it's off to a great start.

Yesterday on FB, our referring agency posted this:  "WSA decided to start August off with REFERRALS!!!!  So we gave out 6!  BOOM!  Happy August Everyone!".

Since then we have learned that those referrals consisted of 3 healthy girls and 3 special needs/waiting children.  6 children who are orphans no more.....Praise God!

So, though we haven't officially received a new number, it looks like we've moved up 3 more spots.

Bring it on, August!  Keep 'em coming!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Monthly Wait-List Update

Hey.....it seems I'm getting pretty good at this.

Note my exact quote from the last post:

"It's almost that time again....the beginning of the month and a new wait list number.  I'm predicting we move up three spots this month."


And.


We are.








We moved up three spots in the month of July.  There were actually 4 children placed with families from our agency (one was a set of twins) in July....that's 4 children who are orphans no more.  Praise God!


We would love to know how many of the families (#1 - #13) are actually waiting for children in our same age/gender category.  Our agency has a Facebook page but not all families are a part of it so we can't even scope it out that way.  : )  Believe me, the families that are on the page, have tried their (our) best to narrow it down.  More work on that patience of mine.  


In some ways, it seems just yesterday that we were hoping to reach the teens and now it feels like single digits are just around the corner.  Keep praying, friends (and remind me of my positive attitude later in the month when I begin to whine).

Friday, July 27, 2012

While We Wait

In my last post (FAQ's), I touched on the fact that courts in Ethiopia close for a period of time.  Generally, the courts close from mid-August to mid-October in response to the rainy season which makes daily life in Ethiopia difficult to manage...to the point of closing down government offices, etc.

Waiting families like mine begin to dread the rainy season closings as they draw more near because, obviously, you're about to be GUARANTEED an additional two month wait (two months where, without a doubt, nothing's really going to happen in your case).  Now....the good news is that we can still get a referral during this time.  On the other hand, the bad news is that we can still get a referral during this time.  Funny girl, I am.  Getting a referral, OF COURSE, is always good news; however, this wait that we are experiencing, I anticipate, becomes even harder once we've seen that face.  But, you know what?  If given a choice, we don't want to wait to see that face....we'll take it as it comes.

Anyway, I share all of that to say that the closing dates were recently announced and this year, the courts are closing from August 22nd to October 1st.  This is much shorter than previous closings, which is very encouraging.  We started this thing with hopes of bringing home our daughter by late Summer/early Fall (if this were Twitter, I'd add something like #clueless or #dreamers); now, we hope upon hope that she celebrates Christmas at home.

In the meantime.....


  •  The furniture that we ordered for her room arrived.  We still need to buy mattresses but it appears we have some time.  I haven't begun any decorating and don't plan to do so until we've seen her face and know who we are decorating for.  
  • We had a custom-type closet system installed to make better use of the closet space.
  • We registered, today, to attend the Empowered To Connect conference which is being held in our area in September.  This conference is said to be a great resource for adoptive and foster parents.  We are looking forward to it.
  • Some sweet friends touched my heart by the simple gesture of making a point to eat at an Ethiopian restaurant as a means of connecting with and learning more about the culture of our girl. 
  • It's almost that time again....the beginning of the month and a new wait list number.  I'm predicting we move up three spots this month.  What do you think? 
And.....

  • Not adoption related....we have had a great Summer with all four of us back under the same roof.  I often look at my boys and marvel at how much they've grown and matured in the last year.  Jordan had a great first year at college and soon he will return.  Braeden will start to High School in less than two weeks.  So cliche' but, really, where does the time go?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Frequently Asked Questions

So, we have officially been waiting at this point for 6 months and, often, I'm asked questions about the process that I thought I'd take some time to explain.

You're STILL waiting?


Yes, we are still waiting.  We began our paperwork and educational requirements in September of 2011.  It ("it" being our dossier...the complete collection of paperwork required) made the long trek to Ethiopia and was received there in January of 2012.  Upon it's arrival, we were placed on our agency's wait list at number 29.


How much longer will it be?


I wish that I knew.  We are currently #17 on our agency's wait list.  The majority of the families ahead of us are waiting for an infant or younger toddler (most are approved/requesting 0-2) so we hopefully won't ever be #1; however, it isn't as easy as it seems it should be.  Our agency only has access to certain children from certain orphanages.  Our call could come tomorrow......or in 6 more months.  (Lord, PLEASE don't let it be 6 more months.)


What exactly are you waiting for?


Well, for now, we are waiting for a referral.


What's a referral?


A referral is the actual matching of a specific child to our family.  When that time comes, we will receive a call from our agency's director with basic information, as well as an email with a picture and any history and medical information that is available on her.  


I keep anticipating how this will happen and where we will all be when that call comes.  I have told Jeff that I don't want to see our child's face for the first time apart from one another.  I figured we were both present the first time we saw our boys; we should be together when we see our girl too.


Jeff and I have contracted with the Vanderbilt International Adoption Clinic and, once we receive our referral information, we will forward it to the clinic for their review.  They will report back to us within 24 hours (with any red flags that they see based upon the medical history provided).  This clinic will be responsible for our daughter's care when she first arrives home; they are familiar with internationally adopted children and their illnesses, parasites, tendencies, etc. and also have someone in their clinic that can speak her language (which helps to make the transition more tolerable).  She will eventually transition from there to our regular pediatrician.


Are you picking out the child that you want?


We are not.  Our dossier clearly outlines the age and  gender of the child that we have requested and been approved for.....a 3-5 year old girl.  There is always a possibility that we could go slightly younger or slightly older than that parameter (with an amendment to our home study) but the child that we are referred should fall into that range.


What will happen after you receive your referral?


We'll begin waiting.....again.  Once we have accepted a referral, paperwork will be filed with the Ethiopian courts for the adoption to take place.  We will wait for a court date to be granted which, hopefully, will be 4-6 weeks after the referral is accepted.  Ethiopian courts close for a period of time in August and September for the rainy season so, IF we were to get a referral before then (not likely) or, for that matter, during the rainy season closing, the wait for a court date could/would be longer.


Are your boys going to Ethiopia with you?


We plan for our entire family to go on one of the two trips.  We had really hoped that one of the trips would occur during the summer months while they were out of school but it doesn't look like that's going to happen.  Though we hate for them to miss school, this is one of those once in a lifetime experiences and we definitely want them to experience their sister's country, her culture and meet her in person as soon as possible.  Not sure which of the two trips they will take....if either were to fall during a time that they were out of school, that one would be the obvious choice.  If not, we'll have to cross that bridge when we come to it.


Two trips?


Yes, we will go first for court and, at that time, she will become our daughter; however, she will need a visa to be able to travel.  We will return home and, yes...you guessed it...WAIT for her visa to be issued by the US Embassy.  We will return to bring her home once that step is completed.


Those are the main topics of discussion that seem to be coming up.  The process is tedious and can be confusing; I am happy to help iron out some details for any of you who wonder what in the world is going on.

If you have any other questions that I haven't thought of, feel free to post them in the comments section and I'll be glad to answer (if I can).

Monday, July 2, 2012

Monthly Wait-List Update



No flowy words;
just a much anticipated
monthly update from our agency.

We are currently number 17.
We took three giant steps forward
which is a great thing.

I'm not going to lie;
though we are SO excited
for such forward movement,
we thought that we would be
much further along at
this point in our 
adoption journey.

Referrals have picked up
greatly over the last couple of weeks; 
our agency actually referred
FIVE children to their
forever families recently.

Please continue
to pray for God's perfect
will (and timing) for
our family.  
We are ready.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Anticipation

.....okay, so I know that just seeing that title has some of you singing (or at least humming) that old Carly Simon tune; not that I'm old enough to know any Carly Simon songs....

But....

It's that time of the month when we begin to look forward expectantly to our monthly wait list updates (which we generally receive the first week of each month).  The past week or so has been exciting as we've heard of at least a couple of referrals in our agency.  We should make a grand entrance into the TEENS on this month's wait list (we are currently number 20;).

Since last month's update, Jeff and Jordan both received all of the necessary travel vaccinations (Braeden and I were up to date), Jeff graciously moved his gun safe out of what will be "little girl's" (we sometimes just refer to her as "LG") room and what has been the Guest Room has started to undergo a transformation (if you count removing the bed and piling a lot of "stuff" in the floor a transformation.....it always gets worse before it gets better, right?).  In addition, I (Kelley) completed my Beginner's Sewing Class and, every now and then, we talk about little girl names....nothing solid yet; we're gonna need a face first.  : )

See you next week (unless, of course, we get "the call"...wouldn't that be something?).

Sunday, June 17, 2012

$4 For 4



Just about a year ago, Kim and I were busy packing for the trip of a lifetime.  Prior to the trip, we'd never met but, as it turns out, we spent ten days together that I can promise you were life changing for each of us (and our families).

Kim and her family have committed to and almost completed the process of adopting FOUR children.  They have worked hard and prayed hard as they raised the funds to give these four children their forever family.  They are now in the home stretch......could you, would you help to bring them home?

All they ask is that you give $4 for their 4.  You can't even buy your favorite Starbucks drink for $4.

So....head on over here and give $4 for 4 sweet faces that you'll see on the Charity Project site.  Note the before they had a family faces and the after they had a family faces.  It rocks my world.

To sweeten the deal a bit, once you make your donation, comment back here and I will enter you in a drawing for one of our adoption tees.

Thanks so much!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

While We Wait

"I love decorating my home and helping others do the same.  I dream of sewing magnificent window treatments and beautiful smocked dresses for my nieces, but the truth is that I can't hem a pair of pants."


The above is a snippet of the "about me" portion of my original blog (www.mytwosons-kelley.blogspot.com).

I have always been an idea person.  I love beautiful things and I can visualize the way that things could, should or would look....but I've often struggled in the execution of those things.

I have ALWAYS loved children's clothes.  I even enjoyed dressing my boys (in those years before they started having an opinion and I always got my way:) which, if you have boys you know, isn't always a lot of fun (just because boys' fashions are so much more limited than girls).  Anyway, when I was pregnant with Jordan (our oldest....that would be, um, 19 years ago), I vowed that I was going to learn to sew.  But I never did. I was given a sewing machine back then AND I took a smocking class.  However, that little smocked bishop never became anything because I never learned to sew.  I kept that sewing machine for many years but could never even get the darn thing threaded.  Eventually, I traded it out for some custom window treatments....that someone else made.

When my nieces came along, once again, I wished that I could sew.  I could wander around a fabric store forever and always saw the sweetest things that I wished I could make.  Only now, guess what?  No sewing machine.

So....all these years later and the prospect of dressing a little girl stirred my heart again to learn to sew; so, for Mother's Day I asked for a sewing machine.  And my sweet husband, though he doubted that this idea would ever come to fruition, delivered.


One of the things that I've been seeing in the little girl fashion world are pillowcase-style dresses (not made from actual pillowcases, although I plan to try some of those as well) and I decided that this would be a good thing to begin learning with.  I purchased an inexpensive downloadable PDF tutorial which included templates for arm hole cutouts and went to town.  I'm certain I could have figured it out without purchasing this tutorial but it really has been very helpful (with dimensions for all sizes, from 12 months - 8 ); and it included a second PDF tutorial booklet for making Peasant style dresses as well (which I haven't tried.....yet).

First Attempt:


Second Attempt (planning to add a monogram):


Third Attempt:

Fourth Attempt:



Okay...so, after four, it's getting a little comical so, in addition, I am taking a beginner's sewing class at a local fabric/sewing shop (so that her wardrobe isn't exclusively pillowcase dresses:).  I had my first class yesterday and am so excited about all that I hope to learn there.  In the class, we are making a reversible A-line style child's dress/jumper.  We are also learning to applique.

So, this is one of the ways that I'm spending my "while we wait" time....and, so far, it's been a lot of fun.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

GREAT news!

Whew.....

Being so negative (see yesterday's post) is hard work.  : )

So, with that in mind, I want to update with something more positive.  Something MUCH more positive.

First, I failed to mention that our update email advised us (I was busy focusing on the negative, remember?) that there are children in their care who, as soon as paperwork is completed, are ready to be referred (hopefully) soon.  It seems that the process has changed up somewhat and more paperwork is required before referral than was previously the case.  This is really a good thing because of the fact that more i's have been dotted and more t's have been crossed before court and Embassy which means that there are less "hiccups" in the process once your referral is received.  In the past, families have received referrals and then waited MONTHS and MONTHS to be able to travel for court and/or Embassy -or- traveled relatively quickly for court and waited MONTHS to go back for Embassy (and bring their children home).  With the changes that are being made, the wait for a referral can potentially be longer but, once that referral is received, court and Embassy dates are hopefully much quicker and more predictable.  Good news.

With all of that said, I received a Facebook message from a fellow adoptive mom yesterday who is trapped in that timeframe between court and Embassy.  She and her husband are adopting two precious older girls who I met while in Ethiopia last July.  These girls have been longing for a family for quite some time; watching as many other children come into and out of the orphanage, bound for their forever homes.  And NOW they have a family of their own but haven't been granted an Embassy date so that they can make their way right here to Tennessee to begin living the life that they've only dreamed of until this point.  Will you do me a favor and pray for this family?  God knows who they are.  (Pray also for their mom who is experiencing some illness this week).

And speaking of prayer, I am reminded of Bartimeaus, who BOLDLY and SPECIFICALLY asked Jesus to receive his sight.  In fact, the Bible says (in Mark 10:47) that when Bartimeaus (who was blind and begging) heard that it was Jesus who was passing by, he "began to shout "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"" (note the exclamation point).  And so, taking a clue from Bartimeaus, I am praying BOLDLY and SPECIFICALLY that our daughter is one of the children who is currently in the care center, almost ready for referral.

And God, in His sovereignty, may answer that prayer.  And He may not.  And that's okay.  Because He knows best and His timing is perfect.  GREAT news.

(And, by the way, SIX children were matched with their FOREVER families in the month of May.....that's some good news, huh?).  VERY good news.


Coming soon.....a couple of "while we wait" updates.  Fun!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Wait List Update (aka This Sucks!)

Warning:  This may possibly be the most "real" update ever written on this blog.



As promised, we received our monthly wait list update first thing this morning (I love our agency!).

And before I tell you what it said about our progress on the list, I want to tell you about the email that I received from Jeff immediately following the update email.

Jeff's email was simple and straight to the point.  It simply said:

THIS SUCKS!!!!!


And to be totally transparent with you, I couldn't agree more.

I have tried, each month, to write each post with a positive spin (and, honestly, it hasn't been hard to do).  Jeff once said that I was a cup half empty person and he was a cup half full person (he's in denial); I've tried to prove him wrong on that and I think I've been successful thus far.

All good things must come to an end.

We did move up on our agency's wait list.  We are now #20.


We moved up one spot.  ONE.  Beats the heck outta none, right?  Pshaw......

Seriously, we are beginning to become weary in the waiting.  And though part of me feels totally selfish to put that in black and white, it is the truth.  And this is our blog and it's what we'll have to look back on in years to come; to remember what we were going through and how we felt and, well, this is how we feel.  So I write it.

I texted with my girlfriend this morning, half joking about how I intend to respond to the next person who says, "God's timing is perfect".  (By the way, YES, yes it is).  But really, I'm thinking of saying this:  "Perfect timing....let me tell you about perfect timing....I think that it's the PERFECT STINKING TIME to kick you in the shins".  I mean, really....I now realize how some of that perfectly logical la la "encouragement" sounds to people in their moment.  Sorry....real post, my blog.  Blah.

It's funny, really, how much we already love this little girl.  The one that we don't yet know; the one we haven't yet seen; the one with some really cute clothes in her closet, an American Girl doll and furniture soon to be delivered.  The one that we talk about and dream of and the one who it is beginning to physically hurt not to know.

Today, we're (only) one step closer.  And today I'm not totally okay with that (as if it matters).

Waiting will definitely become even more difficult once we see her face and even though I know that as much as I know that, YES, God's timing is perfect,  today it just sucks.