Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas Time Again

I'm resharing this post from two years ago. This year I won't listen to this song. I know what it says, and I know that it speaks to the deepest desires of my heart. But I will share. Praying that next year our daughter is in our arms and not in an orphanage. 

From December 2012: 
I posted this last year, and I'll post it every Christmas until our little girl comes home to us. Praying for you sweet girl . . . praying that you'll be here to share Christmas with us very soon.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Reflections of a Year Gone By

It's hard to believe that Christmas is less than a week away, and the New Year is rapidly approaching. We're trying to soak up every last second of Christmas around here as we know it will be behind us all too soon.

I've had more than one person mention to me that we've had a rough year. It's funny, but I'm always a little taken back by the statement. I'm not hurt or insulted. It just kind of surprises me. But as I reflect on 2014, I can see where someone might get that idea.

The first four months were relatively uneventful. Then Patrick started off May by falling off a ladder which resulted in two broken feet and surgery on one foot, but he was back on his feet (pun totally intended) in about eight weeks time. While it was inconvenient and certainly messed up some of our plans, it could've been much, much worse. God protected Patrick and has healed him.

In July, we received "the call" that all adoptive families anxiously anticipate. In August, we were blessed to meet the most precious little girl and fell madly in love. In September, our hearts were broken, and we found out that we would not be bringing this sweet girl home to live with us. What we went through was awful. The grief was indeed gut wrenching, but we went through it. Yes, there are times when I find myself thinking about the what ifs and what should've and could've beens, but mostly, I feel peace. If I could do it all over again, I'd still get on that plane and fly all the way to Bulgaria to meet that precious baby girl. If somehow our being there helped her parents to realize that they did want to have her and raise her, then I'm thankful for that. God has been faithful. He always is.

In October, my grandfather passed from his earthly life to Heaven. I miss him every single day, but I wouldn't ask him to come back for the world. He lived a full life here on this earth and he left behind a beautiful legacy. He was richly blessed. We are richly blessed. The best way to show honor and love for him is for us to live our lives to the fullest.

There have been other "rough" moments in 2014. But the beautiful moments have far outweighed the rough ones. I'm glad we don't have the ability to go back and change things. Not because I wouldn't but because I would, and in doing that, I think I would learn far less about myself and who God is and as a result, miss out on many blessings.

Having said all that, I'll now say this. I have very specific prayer requests for 2015. Some are big. Some are small. Some are obvious and shared by many. . . I pray for the health, protection, and well being of my family and friends. Some I keep in my heart and trust to God alone. The biggest, and the one I'm going to ask that you join with me in praying is that in 2015 we do get to bring our daughter home. I'm asking you to join us in prayer that we receive a referral, and that this time it leads to a finalization of the adoption and a little girl living in our home. I'm asking that you pray that God will prepare our hearts to meet the needs of this little girl . . . to be the family she needs . . . to be the family that needs her.

About a week ago I came across this scripture,

25 “So you shall serve the Lord your God, and He will bless your bread and your water. And I will take sickness away from the midst of you. 26 No one shall suffer miscarriage or be barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days." 

Exodus 23:25-26(NKJV)

Like so many scriptures, I've read it before, but it felt like I was reading it for the first time. If you know me, you know I'm a pretty literal, black and white kind of person. As I read, I found myself thinking, "God this doesn't apply to me. I'm not physically pregnant. I'm just adopting." (Just . . . yes, I know) As always, He responded, not in audible words, but in words spoken to my heart. I may not be physically pregnant, but never the less, I am (we are) pregnant. Losing our little girl was a miscarriage. It was a still birth. It was the loss of a child that still lives on this earth (and please know as I say that, I am in no way demeaning or lessening those that have suffered the heart break of miscarriage or the loss of a child from this earth . . . my heart hurts for each of you). For a time, following the loss of the referral, I thought we'd never have a daughter. I felt like the dream and the promise had been stolen from us. I thought that from this point on, we'd be barren. But as always He. Is. Faithful. So I'm standing on this scripture, and I'm asking each of you to stand with us. 

Enjoy these last few days of the Christmas season. Take the time to soak it up and cherish your loved ones, and take the time to thank God for sending His son. It may sound cliche and trite to so many, but He really is the reason for the the season. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

She Will Be Different

I think it goes without saying, that most parents assume their second child will be different than their first. Most parents don't have to be convinced of that. Personalities are different . . . birth order makes a difference . . . what worked for your first may or may not work for your second. In adoption, I think it's more than an assumption. I'm pretty sure it is a fact.

I don't talk a lot about the "after" of adoption. I don't talk about bonding and behavior issues and sleep deprivation and tantrums and food struggles. I don't talk about those things, not because I don't think they exist or that we'll face them, but because I haven't lived them yet. It's the road we've yet to walk, but one we know exists. It's life after the orphanage . . . after the gotcha day magic has worn off . . . it's life in the trenches, and it's not always pretty.

Andrew was not an easy baby, and I would be lying if I said that we bonded immediately. He was whisked off to the NICU before I even had time to even get a good look at him. He was born prematurely by emergency C-section. He weighed 4 1/2 lbs the day we brought him home from the hospital. He HATED to eat, and all he wanted to do was sleep. When he finally did wake up, he cried. Between trying to chart feedings and not sleeping more than an hour at a time, I was exhausted, and we were in sheer survival mode. However, over time we bonded, and I fell madly and deeply in love with my little guy. And thankfully, Andrew turned out to be an easy toddler and continues to be easy to this day. He has his rough moments and even days, but he's pretty obedient and he has the sweetest heart.

I was thinking about all of this and about the likelihood that our next experience will be drastically different. Andrew never threw tantrums. I didn't allow them. If and when he started, I shut him down immediately. BUT Andrew has never been without. He has always been loved, hugged, fed, spoiled, and wanted. He knows he can trust us. But our daughter will not know this. She will have known neglect, true fear, lack of love, and quite possibly hunger. She will come from a place of lack.

When we received our first referral, we had to fill out an extensive questionnaire dealing with discipline and bonding and all the "after" issues that we may face. As I was thinking about this, I realized that we need to look at our daughter as if she's a newborn. When Andrew was around 4-5 weeks old, he woke up to the world, and by woke up, I mean he started crying. There were nights when he would cry for hours. There were times that I thought he would cry forever. But I didn't punish him. He was a baby. He didn't understand. He was learning about the world around him, and so I rocked and I soothed and I sang old hymns. Eventually, he stopped crying so much. Eventually, the smiles and then the giggles broke through. I realized that we're going to have to look at our daughter in some ways as a newborn. She's not going know us or trust us. She's going to be full of fear. There is going to be a huge learning curve. It takes more than a few days or even a few weeks to build trust. It takes months and even years. It takes a lifetime for some kiddos to heal.

I'm not saying that we're going to let her run amuck. We will set boundaries. We will teach her right from wrong. But things will be different with our daughter. We will take our time. We will give her time to learn to trust. We will allow her to grow and learn. Yes, things will be different. She will be different. But different can be good.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Hello December

In an effort to actually blog, I'm blogging from my phone so please excuse any and all mistakes.

I spoke to our caseworker at our adoption agency today. Everything is pretty much the same. We are still waiting. We're caught up on our paperwork, and are in one of those rare lulls where there is nothing to do. We don't have to think about updating anything until around June. Hopefully, at that point we will have another referral. We're praying that we'll have some sort of news in the early part of next year. For now, things are starting to wind down as everyone prepares for Christmas.

I've had a lot of people tell me that I'm strong (that we're strong), and that they don't think they could handle this kind of thing. I really feel like I need to clarify that any strength I have doesn't come from me. It comes straight from God. We've grieved. We've mourned. We've been sad. We've been angry. And through it all, He has shown Himself faithful. Without God I would've been a complete and total mess. I just want to be sure that the credit goes to the One who totally deserves it.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Ours was full of food and family, and we have so much to be thankful for. And now, it's December. It's hard to believe that Christmas is just around the corner. The weeks leading up to Christmas are my favorite. I love the decorations, the music, and the movies, but mostly I love the why behind Christmas. . . God came to Earth not as a king but as a baby. He lived and worked and loved right along side us, and He taught us how to do the same. Enjoy this Christmas season. Cherish the little things. And remember why we celebrate.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

And Then It Was November . . .

Talk about time flying by. I haven't blogged much at all lately. We've been busy, and when I have had a few minutes to just relax, blogging hasn't been at the forefront of my mind. I also have a virus(?) or something on my computer which makes it impossible to get anything done without crazy pop-ups and my screen freezing. My computer needs to make a trip to the doctor.

It's hard to believe that October has come and gone, and November is here. Be prepared to be bombarded with photos, but first, a quick adoption update. We are still waiting and praying. There are going to, once again, be changes in the Bulgarian government so we're praying that things don't get slowed down by that. Please continue to hold us up in prayer as we do our best to wait with grace and patience. Sometimes that is easier said than done.

Now without further ado . . .

Andrew turned seven and had multiple celebrations with friends and family. 

Partying with his friends at Peter Piper Pizza . . .

Hot dogs and cake at Mimi and Opa's . . .

Opening his presents before school . . .

 And finally, doughnuts at school with all his classmates.

October also brought the passing of my grandfather from this world into Heaven, and while it was so incredibly sad for all of us, we got to spend a lot of time with family. We're spread across the country, and it's rare that we all get to be together. The reason was sad, but the time was sweet. One of my cousins, along with her husband and three sweet kiddos, stayed with us. We loved having them. 

All dressed up and spiffy (Rose, Georgia, Lawson, and Andrew) . . . 

 Georgia loving on my sister's dog Pecos . . . 

 Rose, Andrew, and Georgia watching Peter Pan (notice the mouths gaping open).

And then there was Halloween which we don't celebrate  (haha! . . . whatever).

Captain America on the way to save the day. 

November (the first week)

The first week in November brought cooler temps, early sunsets, and the end of our 5th season of soccer. 

Thanksgiving and Christmas and 2015 are all right around the corner. I look forward to seeing what it holds for us!