Thursday, November 26, 2015

Bringing Anna Home

On Feb. 14, 2011 we filled out an application to adopt internationally and sent it off to AGCI. A week later we made the final decision to adopt from Bulgaria, and with that, the great adoption paper chase began. Almost exactly six months later, we submitted our dossier, a huge stack of documents containing pretty much every personal detail of our lives, background checks, etc., to the Bulgarian Government and started officially waiting for our referral.

If you've followed my blog you know these four plus years have been filled with joy, anticipation, impatience, immense heartbreak, deep healing, and ultimately joy again. A week from today Anna Gayle will be forever in our arms. If you ask me how I'm feeling, I think the short answer would be, "It's complicated!" Am I excited? You have no idea. I cannot wait. And I feel like God moved mountains and worked miracles to move us along so very quickly. It will be less than five months from referral to pick up and exactly three months from the day we told Anna "ciao, ciao" to the day we pick her up. That is almost unheard of.

But what else am I feeling? Anxious, nervous, lots of anticipation, lots of uncertainty, some fear. Anna doesn't know that her world is about to be turned upside down. The orphanage and the children and caretakers she is with are the only home and family she's ever known. And while an orphanage is absolutely no place for a child to grow up, Anna doesn't know or understand that. We are not rescuing her. We are adding her to our family. But she's likely to think we're kidnapping her.

A friend told me the other day to trust God and let Him fill in the gaps, and that is some of the most beautiful and valuable advice I've gotten. We are not Anna's healers. God is. We are her family. She is our daughter and sister.

Having said all that, here are our prayer requests:

  • Complete health, both physically and emotionally, for all four of us. Not just on pick up trip but continuing once we're home. The travel, the transition, the whole process can be physically and emotionally draining. Pray for God's supernatural healing and peace for all of us!
  • Amazing attachment and transition time. Do not get me wrong, I know it is work. I know there will be tears and tantrums and grief, but I'm asking God to redeem the time we lost with Anna. Pray that bonding goes well from all angles! 
  • Good sleep and appetites for all, especially our girl.
  • Safe and smooth travel. Enough said.
  • Beautiful, warmish weather in Bulgaria. 
  • For our families and friends as we adjust. Pray for them to understand our need to keep Anna's world small for a while. And please know keeping her world small does not mean isolation. Calls, texts, and short visits from close family and friends are welcome as long as everyone is up to it. Just please understand that for a while we will ask you not to hold or hug on Anna, but you can certainly talk to her, laugh with her, hold her hands, and let her become familiar with you. 
  • Pray for Patrick and I to have wisdom every step of the way. 
Thank you once again for all your support and your prayers!

We love you!

Happy Thanksgiving!!! We have so much for which to be thankful! 

“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭100:4‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Anna Gayle

Yesterday, a judge in Bulgaria officially made us the parents of Anna Gayle!

Anna is two and half years old. She's a tiny, beautiful bundle of energy. She's not talking yet, but we have no doubt she'll have plenty to say when she gets the hang of it. I'm not going to go into all of Anna's needs, other than to say, she's delayed. As a family, we are going to do everything we can to meet those needs, but what she needs more than anything right now is to have a family.

We're praying for travel dates soon! Please continue to pray for all of us as we prepare for this huge transition!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Updates, Transitions from Orphanage to Home, & Prayer Requests

So an update. We have a court date! November 10! We were assigned a judge that asks for a lot of extra documents. There is a lot I could say about that. There are a lot of opinions regarding requesting extra documents at this point. Bottom line? What anyone thinks or feels about this doesn't matter. She wants extra documents, we will do everything we can to get them to her.

I'll admit, I'm anxious. I'm anxious to have Anna here. I'm anxious about the transition and bonding and doing this right. I'm anxious about the responses of friends and family. See Anna doesn't know we're her parents. She doesn't see us as mom and dad yet. All she's ever known is life in an orphanage with multiple caregivers. So when she comes home we have to teach her to see us as her parents. What many others don't understand is that it is NOT harmless for her to be held and hugged and loved on by anyone other than us when she first comes home. For her it could, at the mild end, be confusing, and at the major end, it could hinder her attachments to us and ultimately extended friends and family. Former orphans are often friendly and outgoing, and everyone thinks this is great. While this looks wonderful on the outside, it really means that they are forming lots of shallow attachments rather than deep, meaningful ones. It is of the utmost importance that for a while we keep Anna's world tight and small. That Patrick and I do most of the holding and hugging and meeting of needs. That we spend a lot of time adjusting to life as and learning to be a family of four. It worries me because while I feel like some understand this, others don't. I don't want drama, or anger, or hurt feelings. That is so far from what we want. What we want is to do everything we can to help Anna heal and form healthy attachments. This attachment thing is not magical. It takes work and effort and understanding on everyone's part. But I promise if you allow us this time, which is really just a blip on the radar of her life, there will come a time where everyone can love on her, and she'll be happier and healthier because of it!****

So prayer requests:
* favor with the judge! 
* smooth transition into our home and family. And that the time spent in Bulgaria is amazing and that God uses that short time to bond us strongly. Also that the trips to and from are smooth. 
* amazing bonding and attachment between Anna and the three of us, and vice versa!
* complete emotional and physical health for Anna. I do believe Jesus meant it when He said He came to "proclaim liberty to the captives" (Luke 4:18), and I believe He can and will heal Anna from the hurts and traumas she's suffered in her short little life here on this earth.
* understanding from our many, many friends and family. We love you all so much and are so incredibly thankful for your support. We couldn't do this without you and continue to need you as we go into the next phase! 
* for all of us to be emotionally and physically well throughout this transition, but if you will pray specifically for Andrew. He's very excited, but he's never had to share us. No this is not a bad thing. Not even close, but this is going to rock his world in no small way! 

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your prayers, your support, your love ... we love you and wouldn't be here without you!

**** I almost didn't type any of this, but I've asked God to help us know how to deal with and respond to others. You've all been waiting and praying right along with us, and I don't want to offend or hurt anyone. It is absolutely so far from my intention. High fives, pats on the back, quick hugs/squeezes while we're holding her are all okay. You can talk to her and smile and be friendly, but please, please help us enforce that we're her parents by directing her attention back to us if and when she reaches out. And like I said before, this will not be forever. It will be for just a few months as we adjust.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Eight Years

At 3:51 this morning Andrew turned eight years old. It's hard to believe it has been eight years. Yet, I cannot remember life without my (not so) little buddy. Andrew is kind hearted. He is compassionate. He is loving. He is 150% boy. He loves superheroes and video games. He has great debating skills ... interpretation: he's fabulous at arguing. He sings so loudly in church that people turn around and look at us. He loves Jesus with all of his eight year old little heart.

Happy birthday Buddy!

Friday, September 4, 2015

And Her Name Is (drumroll) ...

We our wrapping up our week in Bulgaria. It has been amazing, exhausting, exciting, and emotionally draining all at once. Today we are back in Sofia to finish up our paperwork. Part of that includes renaming our girl. With our little one last year, we planned on keeping her name. It fit well in America, and we liked both the name and what it meant. However, for various reasons, which I'm not going to explain in depth other than to say due to some of the origins and history, we decided to completely change our little girl's name.

Name meanings are very important to me. Not in a superstitious sort of way, but in the bible God always called people names that had big meanings. He called them what He intended them to be. More than a couple times throughout the bible, even well into adulthood, people's names were changed. So along those lines we decided to give her a name with a strong meaning. It was not easy to pick a name. It took a lot of back and forth, praying, and a little arguing to come up with her name, but we finally got it. Her first name will mean "Gracious; God has shown favor" and her middle name (my middle name also) means "her father's joy". So now that I've strung you along forever, her name will be ...

Anna Gayle 

We leave early, early tomorrow to fly home. Our connections are tight (short notice on flights will do that) so please pray we have no issues and catch all our flights. Also, please pray for continued good health and safety as we travel. Thank you for all your prayers!