Monday, March 29, 2010

Amazing Answer to Prayer!

This past Friday, we had to meet with our social worker one last time. She just needed to clarify a detail with our home study. She also told us she was able to make contact with all our references and they were all "glowing" (glad to know our friends like us!). Then she gave us fantastic news that was a major answer to prayer. I wrote here about our concern regarding our move in summer of 2011 since Korea has recently become more restrictive of families moving during the adoption process. Our social worker contacted the Korea program coordinator in the Minnesota office, who contacted Eastern (the adoption agency in Korea), and explained the situation with military families to them. She let them know that we have NO choice about moving. Well praise God, Korea has given our agency permission to place children with military families no matter where we are stationed next as long as it is in the Continental US! This is not just for us, this applies to other military families who may adopt through them in the future. But I really sensed God's hand in this. This is a huge blessing!

In other news, it is out with the old and in with the new. The old being John's 2 door manual transmission Honda civic and the new being my new Hyundai Elantra Touring in black, with an automatic transmission. An automatic is a major plus in Washington, DC traffic! This is the first car we have bought together since we have been married. John was able to sell his car to one of his classmates which made for a very stress-free transaction. The new car is not exactly a mini-van, but it is definitely more family friendly.

We had a great weekend. On Friday, John and I had a date night and went to see the Terra Cotta Warriors at the National Geographic museum. They were amazing. Saturday, I got together with a couple friends to sign Easter cards and put together packages for some of the refugees from North Korea that are here in the U.S. Many of them are very lonely and completely cut off from their families in North Korea. Saturday we watched some movies (Netflix - love it!) and Sunday we went to church, and then did some studying (John - schoolwork, me - Perspectives).

Lastly, I wanted to thank those who left questions on my last post. I have responded to all of them on their blogs or through email, but I am happy to answer them or any other questions in an upcoming post if it could be helpful to anyone. Just let me know - I am always happy to answer questions.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Latest Issue of Stepping Stones - Hope Lifts Us Up

I just received the most recent issue of the Stepping Stones newsletter. Stepping Stones is a ministry of Bethany Christian Services whose mission is to support Christian couples facing infertility and/or pregnancy loss. They publish a newsletter which is sent out six times a year, 4 by mail and twice by email. It has been a tremendous blessing and encouragement to me. If you are struggling with infertility and/or pregnancy loss and have not already signed up to receive it, I would encourage you to do so by going here.

The latest issue has an article entitled "Hope Lifts Us Up" by Kat Smith. She writes about how walking the difficult road of infertility has caused her to question hope and the difficulty of understanding verses like Rom 5:5 which says "hope does not disappoint" when each month a cycle of hope and despair is repeated. She goes on to write of her experience walking through Hallmark, and I am guessing many of you will relate to this, I know I do, and seeing the Willow Tree figurines and then looking away. They are such a painful reminder of what we don't yet have. But then she sees one called "Hope Lifts Us Up" and can't stop thinking about it. The thing is hope is confusing to her, it almost seems like she plays a game with hope each month, and so she continues to pray about it. She thinks about asking her husband to buy her this particular figurine because it brought peace to her. But without knowing any of this, her sister ends up giving her this exact figurine. This reminded her that God hears her and says to her, "Hold onto Hope." He had not forgotten her.

And He has not forgotten us.

Back in December I had to attend a briefing with my boss. Afterward we went to lunch, but the restaurant we chose was not yet open. So we popped into one of those quaint little stores with all kinds of knick knacks. And of course they had Willow Tree figurines. I glanced at them and was about to look away when I saw one with a little boy holding a balloon that said "hope." I could not help but pick it up to admire it. Fast forward to after Christmas when my boss returns from her Christmas vacation and presents me with a beautifully wrapped box. I open it and what is inside but the Willow Tree figurine called "Hope Lifts Us Up" that I had admired:

I have it displayed on my bookshelf in my living room to remind me to keep hoping. I love that the little boy is looking up toward heaven because that is where we find "hope that does not disappoint." We find it in the One who knows the plans He has for us (Jer 29:11), whose will is good, pleasing, and perfect (Rom 12:2), who will fulfill all His purposes for us (Psalm 138:8), and is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine (Eph 3:20).

I asked John the other day if he thought it was okay to get excited about the adoption and if it was okay to dream about names and nursery themes. He said yes :) I think I just needed his reassurance.

And so I am. I am hoping. I am dreaming. We are meant to hope.

Monday, March 22, 2010

"Bringing into Captivity Every Thought"

We had an interesting weekend - not quite what I had expected. I think the missionaries who stayed with us may have been expecting an older couple. I could really see how hard it is for missionaries, especially having to depend on others for financial support and how hard they work. But I know that ultimately they are depending on God, and He is completely trustworthy. I sensed that the couple that stayed with us may have been sad or discouraged in some way, but there was never an opening to talk with them about it. I felt very burdened to pray for them though. Friday night we had a fabulous dinner with a small group and then got to hear about what God is doing in Jamaica. Saturday they were gone most of the day, so I studied my Perspectives homework and John worked on his schoolwork. Saturday night we went to a potluck dinner at church where we heard a speaker from The Navigators. I had always wanted to know who and what the Navigators are so I enjoyed learning about their organization. Sunday was church and then they had to leave. John and I were able to have a date night on Sunday - we went to see Hurt Locker (really good, but not sure if it was really Best Picture material) and then ate Ethiopian (one of my favorites!).

We use to attend the church we now go to (and were even married there) when we lived in Maryland a few years ago (prior to us moving to Florida). Now that we are back, we are beginning to connect with old friends and acquaintances at church. I was able to reconnect with one of them Saturday night. She was always one of the most loving and kind people, and such an encouragement to me when John and I were geographically separated during my last year in the army. I had been hoping to reconnect with her, but at the same time, I was wondering how I would feel. When I left for Florida, she had 4 beautiful little boys. She has since had another little boy and just recently a little girl. The thing was when she told me, I felt genuine joy for her. But later that night when we left, it was hard not to let my thoughts get away from me, wondering why the Lord gives one person six children, and He won't even give us one. I know that thoughts like these are wrong, not to mention completely unhelpful. They only sow the seeds of bitterness and discontent. I try to make a point of refusing these thoughts, casting them down, because they are not truth. If the Lord gives someone a hundred children it doesn't take away even one bit His ability to build our family. To be honest I don't understand why we have no children yet. But I do trust that the Lord has a plan for our family.

"Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." 2 Cor 10:5 (KJV)

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Favorite Time of Year at Church

This past week we kicked off our mission's conference at church. It is absolutely my favorite week of church in the entire year. Last Sunday, they had the children bring all the flags of the nations where we have missionaries on stage. It brought tears to my eyes.

This weekend is certain to be a busy one. We have the pleasure of hosting a missionary couple in our home for the weekend. They are involved with medical missions to Jamaica so we are excited to meet them and talk with them about medical missions (something that is on mine and John's heart).

This is completely random, but I've been wanting to share it since I first learned about it in my Perspectives on the World Christian Movement class. It is called Global Rich List. Check it out! It really puts things in perspective, if you make $50,000 or more, you are in the top .98% richest people in the world! Wow!

Hope every one has a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

My Struggle with Waiting for Approval

Now that we are basically through the home study process, I can definitely look back and say it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I actually loved the process of preparation and the growth that occurred. I was able to look back at my life and see how a number of things had prepared me to be a better adoptive parent. I loved learning about the differences with adoptive parenting and some of the different strategies that are available.

But I wanted to explain why the process was such a struggle for me, especially since I now have several blog friends who are beginning the process. It is probably obvious from things I have written in the past that I had a lot of anxiety about the home study process. It was actually the thing I feared the most when we were first considering adoption. You see for most of my life, I struggled with feeling not good enough. It stems from events in my childhood, but it was a struggle that continued into my adulthood. When I became a Christian (almost 8 years ago to the day!), the Lord began the process of healing me. My identity became rooted in Christ; my adequacy and significance were now from Him. I actually wrote about this in my very first blog post. I was set free from needing the approval of others. I was set free from having to be worthy, because Christ is worthy. It is His righteous, not mine. But you see, the very nature of the adoption process requires that you open your life up to someone else's judgment. I felt like I had to open myself up to see if they would find me worthy, worthy to do something I want so much. And I was afraid I would be found wanting. My old fears resurfaced.

I was truly afraid we would not be approved and we would never be parents. John had to frequently assure me that my fears were unfounded. I think one of the things I was concerned about was a legitimate concern. I have been to a counselor in the past and I even took an anti-depressant for pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder (for me the medication only made things worse). Korea generally does not approve of mental health care. But thankfully the counseling occurred long enough ago that it did not disqualify me. I also went to a counseling pastor at my church more recently (2008/2009) because of infertility and the miscarriage, but they didn't count that since it was at my church.

I wasn't expecting our social worker to tell us we were approved when she did. I was both surprised and relieved. I realized as we were talking that day, that she wasn't trying to judge me or see if I was "good enough." They aren't expecting perfect people with perfect childhoods. I realize now that they are only looking to see that you have learned and grown as a result of your life experiences and are prepared to parent.

So if you are at the beginning of this process, do not fear! You will get through it! It is so worth it knowing that you are preparing for your child. You will be stronger, more knowledgeable, and better prepared to parent. It really is as much about preparation as it is determining if you are qualified.

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Closed Door

Last Thursday, while I was at work, I received the news that we won't be adopting Y. This was the designated adoption from South Korea I wrote about here and here. In the post from January (the second link), I wrote about how I wasn't sure what was best and had begun to pray that C be able to parent Y. As I began to learn more and more about the losses of adoption, I became less and less convinced it would really be best for us to adopt Y. The toddler age it one of the most difficult for such a loss to occur. I truly know and believe that this is for the best. Thinking about Y losing her mother was absolutely heartbreaking to me. I am so happy she will not have to go through this. But at the same time, I was sad for us. Even though I had begun to have doubts about the situation and in many ways I feel the Lord prepared me for it, I was still very sad. Even though I tried not to get too attached, Y took up residence in my heart. I know what people mean when they say a child "grew in my heart" rather than their womb. I had begun to picture her as our daughter. I ended up having to leave work early after hearing the news. My boss tried to comfort me by saying what good news it was that we were approved and that we will have a child soon. But what she didn't understand is that it was about THIS child. And I needed time to grieve this loss, however intangible it was.

I took the rest of the afternoon and evening to process everything. I even did some journaling to get my thoughts out. I actually could see a number of positives. First, the situation with Y put us on the path of Korean adoption, which I still believe is the right path for us. More and more I feel that domestic adoption in the state of Maryland was not the right choice for us (30 days until parental rights are terminated). Second, there was a quick resolution after we received approval and so we didn't have to keep wondering which path we were going down. In addition, we will mostly like be able to adopt a younger child, 10 months to 1 year old, so we will be able to bond and attach sooner. And of course, Y gets to stay with her mom, in her own culture and country.

Friday morning, I got a pregnancy announcement (one I had been anticipating and am very happy about), but it was one of those times where I felt like I couldn't take anything else. Pregnancy announcements are not about being envious or jealous, for me they jolt me out of my denial and remind me of this hurt and longing in my heart. I question God - why have we been chosen to walk this path and why are we still waiting. As far as Y, I questioned why God brought her into our life, only to take her. The truth is I am weak and fearful. My faith was shaken. I began to wonder whether God would lead us toward Korean adoption and then take it from us as well. It was so clear that God orchestrated the entire situation with Y and yet it was not to be. It reminded me of our first IVF when we felt so clearly led by God and then we miscarried. I often start my day off at work by reading Blackaby Ministries International Day by Day devotional. On Friday, the devotion for the day was, "God’s Ways Are Not Our Ways" on Isaiah 55:8-9:

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

This was the exact verse that was a comfort to me after my miscarriage. Even when we are following God's will, things don't always turn out as we think they will, God's thoughts are not my thoughts, my ways are not His ways. It was exactly the reminder I needed.

I was encouraged by my hubby and my cousin's faith that YES we will have a child. I needed to borrow their faith, because I was certainly lacking. I had to repent and confess my weakness, fear, and lack of faith to the Lord.

I will continue to trust Him. I will continue to praise Him.

Lord, please take away my worry and fear. Help me to trust you more.

Lord, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" Mark 9:24

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Thank you all for your prayers! Today went great! We each had our interviews, mostly covering our childhoods, families, parents, our marriage, and health and then we gave her a tour of our house. We were both so nervous.

I thought we would have to wait to hear whether we were approved, but at the end she was able to tell us that pending successful contact with our references to verify that they wrote our reference letters and continue to support our adoption, we are approved. We should go on the wait list by April 1st and from there total time until travel to Korea should be between 9 and 15 months. We do have one issue. As of April 1st, we only have 14 months until we get stationed somewhere else. Our social worker is checking with the Korea program coordinator in Minnesota to see what our options are. Korea only allows their children to be adopted in certain states in the U.S. We are hoping that we can get prior approval to be allowed to adopt regardless of where we go, or possibly get permission to adopt as long as we go to a state they approve of, and then John can request to be stationed in one of those states (which the Air Force may or may not choose to honor). The other possible option is for me to stay behind for a few months until we can finalize our adoption, assuming we have already traveled to Korea and just need to do our 3 post-placement visits over the first 6 months. Back in October, we were told that as long as we were stationed stateside it would be okay. But Korea has recently become more restrictive about families moving during the adoption process. I am putting it all in the Lord's hands, trusting Him to work out all the details and timing. It is really not in my control.

I got to call my mom at work tonight and tell her we are approved, which was really exciting. She is really excited about having a new grandbaby. Hard to believe, I am going to be a mom in 9-15 months. It is hard for me to even write "I am" rather than "I may." It doesn't feel real yet.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tomorrow is the Big Day!

Our adoption home visit and individual interviews are tomorrow from 3 - 6 PM. I can't believe it has been almost 5 months since we started this process. Tomorrow is the last big step! At least in terms of the home study. I have learned and grown so much throughout this process, but I am looking forward to it coming to a completion. Once it is and we are approved, we will be officially waiting, which is exciting.

We would love prayers for everything to go well tomorrow.

I actually haven't been as nervous about this visit as I was about last weeks. I am also quite proud of myself for resisting the urge to clean my baseboards. I cleaned, but I was not fanatical about it. This is quite an accomplishment for me :)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Home Study Interview (and my 100th post!)

Thank you for all the prayers and words of encouragement this morning. We could definitely feel your prayers for us. I think things went really well. This was our joint interview and it lasted for about 3 hours. We covered a wide range of topics: why we want to adopt, infertility history, transracial adoption, what age group and what special needs we are open to, how we met, our marriage relationship, our finances, our neighborhood and community, our religious beliefs, our parenting philosophy, discipline, values we want to teach our child, support systems, our families feelings about us adopting in general and about us adopting transracially specifically, etc.

There wasn't anything she came across as concerned about. And she spoke about "when" we go on the wait list, not "if," so that was a good sign. I was really happy, but mentally exhausted afterward. It also happens to be the first day of my cycle so I think that it part of why I was so tired. In addition, I had been working really hard to complete our transracial, transcultural, and older child parenting plans over these last several nights.

We got home a little after one and I called my boss to see if she really needed me at work because I was so spent. By the time I would have gotten to work we would of had only about an hour to work together before she would have to leave so it made sense for me to just take the rest of the day off. I ate lunch, checked my blog and email, and then took a nap.

The other great news is that we are having our individual interviews and home visit next Wednesday, March 10th at 3 PM!!!

You know what I will be doing this weekend! I know our house doesn't have to be perfect, but 5 loads of unfolded laundry probably won't make the best impression :)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Please Pray....

for our first interview for our adoption home study.

It is tomorrow at 10 AM.

I am trying not to be too nervous, but it is hard not to be. I think both John and I have been a little stressed and nervous these last several days.

I would be so thankful for your prayers.