Friday, December 14, 2012

ONE.LESS.ORPHAN

We have a new daughter!!!! I am shaking and crying and so happy to share our news with you!!! Thank you all for helping us make this happen through your encouragement, support and prayers.

Meet our daughter...

video


 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Court Date

Last Monday we received THE email that we have been waiting for!! We received a court date!!!

On December 14, 21012 an orphan will become a daughter. Our daughter.

We have thought of her and known her as our daughter since we first touched her, but in 10 days it will be official. She will have our name!!!!

Wow...in 10 days we will have a new daughter and I won't even have to have an epidural or eat hospital food!!!

This has been a long journey. A long paper pregnancy. I can't believe that we are so near the end and so near our new beginning. 

It's been nearly four months since we met Gracie for the first time. Four months of missing her so badly. Soon we will be back for her and we will be looking at her in the middle of the night like a newborn baby.

There is still more waiting. Court will be in 10 days, yes I'll say it again...10 days! After that, documents have to be ordered/issued and the holidays will probably cause some delay. We will be given a travel date to pick her up once these things have been taken care of. Typically this happens about a month after court. I'm not certain if or how the holidays will impact this timeline, but I'm praying for things to happen quickly.

Meanwhile, we have been preparing for her arrival. Her clothes are all washed and put away. The clothes we are taking on the trip for her are all packed in a suitcase. Today I bought diapers, wipes, socks, shoes and travel size baby bath and lotion for her. I nearly cried as I bought sizes that were for a 1 year old rather than a child almost 4 years old. Soon we will take her bed out of the box, put it together and set up the room that she will share with her brother.

Please pray that all goes smoothly in court and that our adoption will be granted on December 14th. Pray that we will be able to pick Gracie up as soon as possible. Please pray that she somehow remembers us and feels our love until we return to bring her into our family forever.

He has not left you an orphan sweet little one. Mommy and Daddy are coming soon.


Friday, November 9, 2012

A Matching Grant!!!!

It's been almost two months since you've heard from me. During those two months no news has been...well, no news. This is the part of the process that is really hard. You meet your child and then you leave your child and then you wait, and wait, and wait.

I've managed to keep incredibly busy over the past few months which has made the time go by fast. At this point our dossier is waiting on one signature and then we will be assigned a court date. We hoped all along to be able to bring Gracie home before Christmas, but we are now expecting that it will be January. As soon as we have a court date I will should it from the rooftops (and blog about it) and you will know.

Now on to some very exciting news! We applied for a grant with the adoption support group we are apart of and got word yesterday that we were approved!!!

We have a $2500 matching grant!!! This is HUGE!!! This opportunity could not have come at a better time. We will need $6,000 for our final trip to pick up Gracie. If this matching grant is fulfilled we will be FULLY FUNDED!!!

Here are the details on how you can help: 

1. Prayer – Please pray that we receive our court date soon and that the judge blesses us by granting our adoption. Pray that God will prepare all of us, including Gracie for the upcoming changes to our family. Pray that our matching grant is met and that those who pray and contribute are abundantly blessed.


2. Financial Support – Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to help us pay the remaining expenses to bring Gracie home. We have now come to the final amount needed to pay for our final trip (three plane tickets, 6 nights hotel, 7 days food) which will equate to approximately $6,000.

Trinity Lutheran Church and Lifesong (www.lifesongfororphans.org ) have graciously given us a Matching Grant of $2,500 to help with the final costs to bring Gracie home to our family.  

What this means is that if we are able to raise $2,500 then Trinity Lutheran and Lifesong will match that amount and we will receive $5,000 towards the final costs of our adoption! 

This will mean that our adoption will be fully funded and finances will not keep us from walking our daughter out of the orphanage that she has lived in for nearly four years. This means that she will see that there is more to life than the four walls that she has lived within. This means that when she turns four she will have a birthday party instead of being transferred to a mental institution for adults. This means that we will be able to get her the medical help and therapy that she needs to thrive and develop to her full potential. This means that she will have a family who will raise her to know Jesus Christ and teach her that she was made perfectly by God just the way she is. This means that she will know what it is like to be loved by a family and friends.

We ask that you prayerfully consider being a part of this amazing journey. If you are able to make a tax-deductible financial contribution you can send it to the address below. Lifesong is a trusted, non-profit organization administering the funds on Gracie’s behalf.

1. Please make checks payable to: Lifesong. In the memo section of the check please write (preference Meeks #3189 adoption). *Note: In following IRS guidelines, your donation is to the named non-profit organization. This organization retains full discretion over its use, but intends to honor the donor’s suggested use). 

2. Mail checks to:
                                    Lifesong for Orphans
                                    Att: Meeks/#3189
                                    PO Box 40 / 202 N. Ford St.
                                    Gridley, IL 61744

3. Donations may also be made via PayPal by going to this link. Please make sure to enter this note in the payment description: Preference Meeks #3189 adoption.

Thank you for your prayers and support throughout our journey to bring Gracie home. We will keep you updated as we receive our court date and our travel dates! Please pray this entire process will glorify God and fulfill His purposes!

If you have any questions about adoption please feel free to ask us. We can’t save every orphan, but we can all make a difference. If you feel God calling you to expand your family through adoption, don’t let any obstacle stand in your way. If you place trust in Him and follow His command, He will show you the way.

God’s Blessings,
 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

One Month

I know I have been quiet since we returned from our trip. I think I needed time to absorb everything, recover from jet lag, catch up on things at home and complete more paperwork.

But today. Well, today marks one month since we walked into the orphanage and saw Gracie with our own eyes for the first time. This week has been a hard week.

When we came home I was on cloud nine as they say. I was so ecstatic that we had met our girl and fell madly in love with her and would be bringing her home soon. The euphoria has now worn off and I am missing her so badly.

As each day passes I feel further away from her. I feel like as time goes on I am forgetting how she smelled and felt and sounded. I have to force my memory to go back there. I am also reminded that we still have a few months to go before we can bring her home.

This is all just part of the process and I always try to see the bright side of things. My husband has been my rock. Monday I just could not stop crying. We went to lunch and he told me not to be sad and reminded me we would have her home soon.

So as we are now one month from our first meeting with Gracie, we are also one month closer to bringing her home.


This is what we have left to do to bring our baby girl home.

Send off I-800 application (done)
Get I-800 approval (done)
Wait for article 5 appointment
Wait for court date
Raise the rest of the money needed for fees and travel (about $8000)

We are past the paperwork and now just waiting. We are working diligently on getting the money that we still need. My husband is working extra hours and away from the family a lot right now. I have a couple of grants that I am applying for and we are going to try a couple more fundraisers. Tax deductible donations can also be made to our account by clicking on Gracie's picture on the sidebar.

God has truly been involved in every little detail of our adoption story and I am so amazed by His works! There are just so many things that either didn't work out or did that led us to where we are now and I am in awe.

Thank you to everyone who has prayed, donated and helped us out in any way. I can't wait to be able to announce that we have a court date and even better, that we are bringing Gracie home.

Please pray that things move quickly with our paperwork and that our article 5 appointment and court date are set quickly. We are praying that our sweet girl will be able to celebrate Christmas with her new family!



Friday, August 17, 2012

Trip One - Day Five

Today was our last visit with Gracie...for this trip. As soon as we left the orphanage I started writing in my journal. I will share that with you so you will know what I was really thinking at that moment rather than me trying to remember.

We are in the van driving away from our last visit with Gracie. The next time we see her we will be her legal parents. The next time we drive away from the orphanage she will be leaving with us and will no longer be an orphan.

I did it. I stayed strong. I walked away with my head held high and with no tears knowing that we will be back. Of course I am sad, but I had to be strong today. If I start to cry I fear I will not stop. 

We have so many people praying for us today. I absolutely feel covered in blessings. I feel covered in prayer and love. Thank you for that. I was told to soak it all in and I have done just that. I have enjoyed every moment. I have cherished the trip, the time with my husband, the food, the city and, most of all, our time with Gracie.

Once in the van, I opened the window to breathe in the air and reflect. The wind is blowing across my face and through my hair. The sun shining on and warming my skin and my spirit. I can feel His Holy presence. As the wind blows on my face I remember my husband blowing on Gracie's face and neck this week to keep her cool. I feel my Heavenly Father comforting me in the same way. I know that I am honoring Him and He is pleased. 

The tears are flowing gently now. Tears of happiness, peace and love. Writing that, I realize the shirt I wore today. It says faith, hope, love in English and Bulgarian. We have come, met her and gone...
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13
We returned on the long drive to the city where our attorney and the airport are. It is a much more fast paced city and we love it as well. We walked for miles. I want to share pictures with you of where we ended our day. It was very special.

This cathedral is the amazingly beautiful as you can see. The inside is even more amazing.


When we walked in Jimmy said he wanted to light a candle for Gracie. He purchased a candle and I captured the special moment as he light the candle for her.



I can see this photo being blown up to hang on our wall.



The sun was shining behind us as we walked up to the church. We noticed our shadows and decided to taking a kissing shadow picture for a fun memory.



Excuse the wild hair. It is a really breezy day. I loved these gates in front of the entrance.


With all my heart, thank you again for blessing us with your prayers. They got us through this day and soon we will be on our way home.


 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Trip One - Day Four

We did not get much sleep last night since we have a little one who is sick at home. I would have been awake taking care of him at home, but I ended up awake here worrying about him and his caretakers. Just a mommy worry...I know that I know he is in good hands. We were very tired this morning and decided to skip breakfast in exchange for a little extra sleep.

Today was wonderful. Gracie was as happy as ever. After our morning visit she was loaded into a car with two orphanage workers...and no car seat! We followed the car to a photo place to get her VISA photos taken. The people drive crazy around here and I held my breath and prayed that there would be no accident. I imagined that if something were to happen I would completely lose it and run to their car to take care of her and comfort her. Then I really saw how much I just love her to pieces and how much I feel like her mommy!

We got to the photo store safe and sound. The social worker held Gracie and was very standoffish. She would not let me touch her! Seriously, I think she was afraid I would grab her and run! Gracie was amazing. She sat in the chair like such a big girl, let them take her picture and made no fuss. When we came out of the store our driver said he has never been in and out from taking a photo so fast. He said most of the time the children fuss and fidget. Well not our girl.

We went to have lunch to wait for the photos and the social worker took Gracie back. After lunch we picked up her super cute VISA photos and went to see a notary to sign legal documents stating we wish for our attorney to continue the legal adoption process. We were just all smiles in this little, hot notary office in a run down building as American Rock n' Roll music played on the radio.

About an hour later we met up to head back to the orphanage. Gracie was super happy today. Just smiles and giggles. Today I sat back and watched her love on her daddy. They are so cute. Earlier in the week he noticed that she likes to run her hand over his whiskers so he decided he will not shave until we leave. He wanted her to be able to do that all week if that is what she likes. Then today I noticed her rubbing the hair on his leg. Just the little things that are so cute. All week he has been blowing on her face and neck to keep her cool and checking every little scratch or rash on her body. He bounces her and tickles her and she just loves it and has the sweetest laugh.

When our visit was over she immediately started whining. As we walked the halls toward the entrance she whined the entire way and just kept looking at us. She knew we were leaving and it was so sad.

Tomorrow is our last visit. I don't know if I will even have it in me to write tomorrow. If I do, you will probably need tissue and you will probably hear some real emotion from me. My husband has told me that I can't cry because then he will cry. So, I'm expecting we will both be crying.

After our visit in the morning we have a 3 1/2 hour drive back to meet with our attorney, sign more papers and spend the night before our trip home. It will be a busy day so if you don't see an update you will know that we are busy and I'm probably crying anyway.

This journey has been amazing and Gracie is so worth it. The others are too. My husband stands at the window and looks at the other children. Today he asked me "what about those children?" "Are they adoptable?" Then he said, "There is a little boy who is so cute. He keeps looking up here and waving."

That is not a hint that we are bringing home another child. I know that my husband would want them all. Please know this though...there are millions of Gracie's all over the world. If you have ever had the slightest thought or tug at your heart to adopt then make a move. It takes time, work and money. Yes. But the reward is so great. It is so worth it. Gracie was worth it. They all are.

 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Trip One - Day Three

This morning was the first time I cried since being here. You would think I would have cried the first time we saw Gracie, but I was just happy! You would think I would have cried when she reached out for me as we left the first day, but I knew we'd be back. Well, my eyes did get full of tears but I did not cry.

Today, we walked through the orphanage hallways and heard the sounds of children playing outside below the room we were in. Jimmy and I looked out the window and watched them. Suddenly, two little girls saw us looking. They stared back and started smiling. They were precious and sweet. We smiled and began to wave at them. They loved it. They were giggly and sweet and loving the attention. Attention that was given from the second story of the building above them, through closed solid glass. They could not hear us, touch us or smell us but they could see us and they craved our attention.

I walked into the playroom and cried.

A few minutes later Gracie came in and was just as sweet as ever. When the caretaker came in she told our translator that when she was bringing Gracie down the hall she was smiling and bouncing because she knew where she was going. She knew she was coming to us.

The past two days we have only been able to get her to smile by tickling her. Today, she smiled on her own will. When I held her she smiled. Not because she was being tickled but because she was happy.

We just returned from our afternoon visit. It was a good visit. She like to chew on her clothes. When she does this we tell her no and redirect her attention to something else. She laughs and lets the clothes go. When we were leaving the nurse saw her chewing her shirt and I could tell from her face she did not like it. When I walked closer she pinched Gracie's nose and held it to try to make her let go of the shirt. I was boiling. As we were leaving she told the translator that she has seen a change in Gracie. She said she is responding positively to our visits and is acting different.

I cried silently on the entire car ride back. Then as I got to the hallway of our hotel room I bawled. I got in the bed and bawled. I can hardly breathe. We only have three visits left.

I wasn't going to do this. My husband said "you can't cry because then I'll cry." Well sorry honey. We'll just have to cry together.

I am going to get out of here and get some fresh air.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Trip One - Day Two

We slept very well last night. Much needed rest. Today was an "adventure" of a day. We had breakfast with our guide and headed to the orphanage.

The pediatrician met with us this morning. She basically read us Gracie's medical file which was information we have already read. She was very positive and nice and said that Gracie has only ever been sick twice of respiratory illness. "Other than the condition of Down syndrome she is very healthy" the doctor said. Well...ok. She did say her hearing was shown to be deficient and she discussed that she has a thyroid problem. She said Gracie was not well and not progressing until they began the thyroid treatment. Well I did hear what she had to say, but it was difficult to listen since Gracie had just been put into my arms. I just wanted to visit with her. Our visit went well. She was less vocal this morning than yesterday. I have a feeling she is more of an afternoon person. She seems happier after her nap and meal. Aren't we all?

After the visit we were walking toward the van and noticed our driver was patting his pockets and searching his bag. We knew what was about to happen. We got to the van and he looked into the window and said "Oh no. How did I do that?" The keys were in the ignition and all doors were locked. I kept thinking about the memories we were making and wondering if they even have locksmiths here. The driver and my handy husband pried and scraped at a window latch until they broke it off and they were able to open a window on the van. Very handy guys they are. I was impressed.

When we got back to the hotel I checked in with the babysitter. This is what had just happened at home...

The babysitter locked my keys in my car!!! Hmm...interesting how things happen. She had to call one of my "emergency contacts" who then called for help. The situation was resolved easily. I just don't know what to think of that happening to us here and to our family at home just within a couple of hours of each other. Just crazy!

I came back to the room and had a nap. Yes, I slept 10 hours last night and then needed a nap after lunch! Plus it makes the time between visits go by faster.

Our second visit today was wonderful. We played and laughed and she was more vocal again. She is ticklish and has a sweet laugh. When she laughs she laughs loud and hard and it is the only time we see her smile. Yesterday I noticed an enormous amount of wax and dried crud in her ears. You know the crease parts above the opening to the ear canal. I can tell you this. She is 3 and I'm sure there was 3 years worth of crud in her ear. Now maybe we have figured out why she can't hear well. So today, I brought Q-tips with me. When I saw the opportunity I got them out and started cleaning. You really would not believe the amount of stuff that I was able to clean out. She really did not seem to mind. She moved her head a little but did not complain or make it difficult at all. Some of the things we do for our kids at home we just do. We take them for granted. We do not see joy in cleaning our children's ears. It is just something we do. This was different. This made me feel like her mother. Like for the first time someone was showing her love simply by cleaning her ears. I will never forget it. Every time I clean any of my children's ears I will remember this day.

After our second visit we went for dinner and took a walk. There is an amazing center square here that has many shops and outdoor places to eat. The weather is beautiful and the streets are full of people. It has a huge awesome park with play structures for the children. We saw the most amazing tree house (photo below). We found an awesome farmer's market. I've never seen one as big as this. We walked through and just enjoyed looking and smelling the fruits and vegetables. I tell you, I would love to have a "center" and farmer's market area like this at home. I would take my kids there and enjoy our days so often. Well, that is if we could have this dreamy weather as well.











There are many areas that are not so nice. They are old run down buildings and homes and even a gypsy village that our guide showed us. This "center" around our hotel is just amazing though. There is a huge park with several playgrounds and it is just full of people and children. While just a couple of miles away on the top of a hill is an orphanage full of children who have never been outside of the gates.

We bought some souvenirs today. Some things so that we could always remember this city. Some things to display in our home and some things to give to Gracie when she is older. We love the things we purchased. We got postcards, oils, religious plaques, a little doll, magnets, a coffee mug, wooden carved jewelry boxes and a wooden carved plate.

Things are so inexpensive here. The first night we ate at the hotel and spent $22 (local money) on dinner which is about $15 US. Then we found many places to eat around the center area. We have been eating lunch and dinner for about $8-12 (local) which is about $5-$9 US. That is for both of us. We would spend $40 plus for a lunch back home. 







So now we are back in our hotel room and guess what? The air conditioning at the hotel is out. We decided we would tell someone so my husband went to tell our guide. The next thing I know Jimmy knocks on the door and our guide follows him into our room...wearing ONLY a towel!!! I am not even kidding. Then he stands on a stool to feel the A/C vent. I went into the bathroom fearing what would happen if the towel fell off.

Like I said...today was an adventure!!!


Monday, August 13, 2012

Trip One - Day One

Our trip here was so super long. I thought I would be able to sleep on the flight, but had no luck. Once we arrived I thought we were going straight to a hotel close to the airport. Again, I was wrong. Our guide met us at the exit and told us we would be driving to the orphanage city right away and it was a 3 1/2 hour drive. We had just completed an 18 hour combination of three flights. We loaded up in a van with no a/c and headed out. My stomach was in knots.

I hardly remember arriving at the hotel.  There was one detail etched in my memory though. At the turn to our hotel there was a road sign. You know those signs that say "Children Playing" or "Slow. We love our children." It was one of those signs only it was in the local language with English translated at the bottom. The translation said this..."Save The Child"



I don't really think I need to explain much more about that sign.

We got settled into our room, went down for dinner and enjoyed it very much. We love the local food. I was nervous about not being able to eat, but the food is awesome!

After dinner we went for a stroll to explore the city around our hotel, came back to the room, showered and went to bed. Only, I did not sleep. I did not sleep on the plane. I did not sleep in the car. I did not sleep in the hotel room bed. I was wide awake and as nervous as ever. Oh, by the way, my husband slept on the plane, slept in the car and slept in the hotel room bed. At 7am this morning I fell asleep. At 8am this morning the alarm went off. We got ready, had breakfast, went for a walk around town and came back to our room for a few minutes before leaving. During those moments I wrote in my journal and prayed. I wrote about the fact that in just a few minutes I was sure I would be a different person than I had ever been before. After writing I noticed scripture in the margin of the page that says this, "The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusted in Him." Psalm 28:7. I found this so fitting. I prayed on this as we made our way to the orphanage. I cannot explain the way I felt in the car. There is no such description.

When we got out of the car we saw a worker carrying a baby into what looked to be an emergency vehicle. I got even more nervous. When we stood in front of the massive building I could not believe it. This place is huge. There were many plants. Very well cared for plants. That's all I'll say on that. Then there were many steps leading up to the building. These were grand steps as if we were going into some fancy governmental building. Suddenly I realized I could not breathe. I immediately started to pray for the strength and ability to breathe. I prayed for the Lord to be my strength. I could not really figure out what I was doing in this place. It was definitely one of those moments that you feel like you are not inside your own body but you are watching the event like a fly on the wall.

Our guide spoke to several people as we stood in the hall not understanding any of it. We were asked to be seated in the director's office and I was so nervous about what he was going to say to us. Then, suddenly, we were escorted out of the office, out of the wing, down stairs, up stairs and into a room full of toys in which we were told "the child" would be brought. We waited for about 15 minutes that seemed much longer.

The door opened and a woman in a white nurse dress brought her in. Whoa! Here she is. A real, living, breathing, very little person. No longer a picture. She was scared and making lots of sounds, but not crying. She did not want to come to me. The guide said that is a good sign. I agreed. We slowly began to play with her. She does not know how to play. We were in awe over her. She is so different from the picture in real life. It is her, but she is smaller and just different. She is beautiful. I love her hair. Her eyes, oh, her eyes. I had no idea how blue and beautiful they are. We made eye contact and held each others eyes for a lengthy amount of time. This was a moment that nearly brought me to tears. A moment of our souls touching.

She puts her toys and everything in her mouth. She kept chewing on her shoes and we kept re-directing her. She didn't like it but she caught on. We visited for about an hour and a half and it was wonderful. The caretaker came back for her and they left just like that. We left the building and were told we would return in four hours.

Nothing in between those hours matters. We went to eat and just chatted about her and how amazed we are. We then walked around the town some more. We came across a pharmacy type store and went in. We found a baby chew toy/rattle and bought it for her. We rested for a bit and it was time to go back.

When she was brought in this time she was different. She was in a different outfit. She was happier and we could tell her belly was fuller. She was happy to see us and we started playing right away. We gave her the toy we had purchased and she loved it. We noticed that she had nearly chewed holes in her little shoes. It was a wonderful visit and she was not happy that it ended. Neither were we. She reached out her arms for me and it broke my heart. The caretaker smiled and told our guide that "she has attached to me in just two visits." I know this could be a good thing/bad thing, but it happened in a good way.

We have had dinner, talked to family and friends, showered and are now completely exhausted. I wanted to share this day with you before I go to bed. We cannot wait to see her again tomorrow. Thank you to all of my friends and family. For everything. Good night.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

On Our Way!

In seven hours we will be on our way. I've tried to prepare myself in every way. Our bags are packed with everything we could imagine we might need. Though, I still don't feel prepared. Emotionally prepared. I'm trying to prepare myself for great joy and heartbreak to collide. I know this feeling.

The only other time in my life that I have experienced joy and heartbreak at the same time was when we got Logan's diagnosis when he was just eight days old. Joyful. Heartbroken.

But the joy shines brighter now and the heartbreak of those days disappeared. Gone, but not forgotten.

I love the song that says, "Lord, break my heart for what breaks yours." My heart has been broken for the orphans with Down syndrome that I have read about, seen pictures of and many who have not been able to be rescued from the hell they live in. Many have been moved to institutions. Many have died.

My heart has been broken...for what breaks His.

It is hard to prepare myself to experience the joyful-heartbreak again. Only, this time I know the heartbreak will be even more heartbreaking than before. I know I will see things I wish I'd never seen. I will be glad to have seen them though. Only glad because His heart breaks and we must act. I also know that the Lord will be there. He will help me see the joy and He will sustain me until we can go back to take our daughter out of there forever.

But there are others. So many others that will still be there. My heart will always be broken for them.

We can't save them all, but we can all do something. Adopt. Advocate. Pray. Help an adopting family. If you feel the desire to do any of these things do not ignore it. In fact, you should do these things even if you don't feel the desire. We are commanded to do so.


James 1:27

27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Don't let the world pollute you. I have had people (even friends and family) tell me not to do this. Not to follow what God wants us to do. I have had to tell Satan he can not have her. She belongs to us. She belongs to Jesus.

Please care for the orphans. Do something.

I plan to update my blog daily while we are visiting. Please understand that there will be no pictures.

Thank you for praying for our family. God Bless you.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

TRAVEL DATES!!!!

Yesterday was the day. It's been a crazy 8 months. Paperwork, home study, paperwork, fundraising, fundraising, paperwork, fundraising....wait, wait, wait, wait. Last week I was emotionally and physically drained with all things adoption. Over the weekend, I relaxed and tried to stop obsessing over when we would receive travel dates.

Monday morning I opened my email and the first email said "TRAVEL DATES!!!" Oh yea...we got our travel dates!!! Oh yea...we're going to meet our daughter!!! It's hard to contain my emotion right now. In fact, I have so many emotions I don't even know what to do. I'm over the moon excited, but then there is this part of me that is terrified. Well, it didn't really take me long to figure out that the terror was driven by pure evil. I have become good at knowing when I must cast evil out of this adoption. Every time we get close to taking a big step in the adoption I have felt the presence of evil. Thankfully, I knew beforehand that this would happen and I learned to denounce Satan promptly. It has become so apparent to me that every time something good is going to happen for God, spiritual warfare ensues.

My husband and I will be on a plane to Europe in 11 days!!!

August is a busy month for everyone. Back to school rush can make many moms crazy. This is no ordinary August for us. I have to travel out of town for my brother's wedding the first weekend. The second week my daughter goes away to summer camp. The third week was light on the schedule and the week that held the smoothest childcare arrangements. The fourth week there are back to school meetings and preparation. The last week of August, school starts.

As you can see there was a one week window that would be perfect for us to travel. For months I have prayed that we would travel August 11th - 18th...our only free week. Any other week would have caused major stress.

Our travel dates are August 11 - 18 and I have to say Praise God for that! I've seen how wonderfully things come together when you have faith and follow Him.

I am so thankful that God has shown me that He will take care of the details if we will just follow Him.

Next detail...airfare.

I immediately contacted the travel agent to book our tickets. Has anyone noticed that the Olympics are going on? Have any idea if that may have impacted airfare? The country our sweetie pie is in also has a long vacation period during the entire month of August. Not good for airfare.

Our tickets were priced at $3366. Our RR account had $2418 in it. I decided to post a link to our RR account on Facebook in hopes that we could get closer to covering our airfare.  Terrified, but praying. Within one hour our RR account had $3388 in it. I was in tears. This is not what I thought would happen. But God shows up. He moves people. Gracie will meet her parents in 11 days!!! Praise be to God!!!


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I realized today...I love her

For eight months I have busied myself with paperwork and fundraising. I have barely, if at all, come up for breath since we decided to adopt. I have over 200 pieces of paper in my very organized adoption binder. We have crossed every T and dotted every I. My dear husband has eagerly driven to Austin twice to get everything apostilled. We have spent many days checking our email every five minutes and racing each other home to check the mail. We've had four garage sales, sold some jewelry, had an iPad give-away, a crawfish boil, an online auction...and more to raise funds. We have been about to raise about $8000 and we have paid over $11,000. We still have about $12,000 left in travel expenses and our final agency/program fees. I know there is more as these numbers seem low but these are my best quick calculations for now. Money was a big part of our adoption fear but after I turned that fear over to God He showed me that it would all work out. I promised to do my part so I worked my behind off fundraising. So many people have been apart of helping us that I can feel my heart smile and cry when I think about it.

So, that is where I have been. I have been keeping my mind and my heart consumed with paperwork and fundraising.

Then, about 3 weeks ago, I was told our dossier was submitted, approved and we have a verbal referral for Gracie. The wait then began for a written, signed referral. Once we have that we also receive travel dates, book our trip and prepare to meet our Gracie. This is expected to happen 3-4 weeks after the verbal referral. As of today, it has been 3 weeks and 4 days (but whose counting). Every five minutes I check my email. All day long, I calculate what time it is in her country. I try to determine if our attorney is asleep or awake and working. If I feel that she is awake, I check my email again. At 2am our time it's likely her work day is beginning. So, I check my email when I should be sleeping. When I wake up in the morning, before I even get out of bed, I check my email through sleepy eyes.

I have prayed and asked everyone to pray. I am trying so hard to honor God's timing in this. That is all I know to do.

But today I was sitting at my computer at work and I realized that night was falling in my baby girl's country and I started to cry. Out of nowhere crocodile tears were flowing down my face. I grabbed my car keys and ran to my car to cry and save myself from embarrassment at work.

Sitting in my car, I let myself go somewhere that for the past eight months I have not allowed to happen. I realized today that I love Gracie. It may sound silly, but I have been protecting my heart from loving her. I have been protecting myself form the pain and sadness that I feel today. She is 6,112(ish) miles away. 6,112 miles away from her home. 6,112 miles away from her family. She doesn't even know what a home and family are, but soon she will. For 3 years, 5 months, and 21 days she has been without a real home, a real family. Today I let my mind and heart go there. I put my guard down and I yearned and cried for our baby girl. Today I realized...I love her. When I look at her picture I feel something different than before. Even though I've never met her, I miss her.

Please pray with me that we will get an email with our travel dates soon. We are ready to look into her eyes, touch her cheeks, stroke her hair and tell her that we love her.
 
 

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Approved...waiting for dates!!!




Our dossier has been received, translated, submitted and approved!! Well...there's an update for ya! I'm so excited!! I was told that we have a verbal referral and are now waiting on the written referral. Once we get that our attorney will give us travel dates. We are still expecting August. Praying for the week of August 10th(ish) because my baby brother is getting married the prior weekend and we have lot's of back to school things to do the following two weeks. It will all work out. Thank you for your prayers and support!



Thursday, May 24, 2012

An Update & History of Our Journey

Yesterday we received great news! Our USCIS application for adoption was APPROVED!!! We should be receiving the notice in the mail soon. The next step is for our entire dossier to be taken to Austin for state apostille and then off to Gracie's country for review. We are hoping to meet her in August! I was very excited after I received the news. Then, last night I started to get nervous. All along this journey I have allowed fear to creep in. Thankfully, I can turn to scripture and know that God did not give me a spirit of fear. If He did not give it to me, I don't want it (and you know where it must come from). I tossed and turned all night and then I was reminded that this journey has a much bigger purpose than adding a child to our family. I should not worry about having too much on my plate. I should not worry about any of the things that I usually worry about. For God will sustain us.  He will carry us through all of those little, insignificant things that I worry about. He reminds me of what is important. Let me take you back to the real beginning of this adoption journey...

This is one of those painful stories. One that I try to push out of my mind. One that I wish I had never experienced. One that I'm glad I did.

There are many faces. Faces of children with Down syndrome. The faces that I see when I close my eyes at night. The faces that cause me to weep. Faces that deserve a family, love and a home. These faces are real children. They remind me of why I will get on a plane soon and have no fear.

In July 2011, pictures of a sweet girl named Teri Lynn started spreading across the Internet. A desperate attempt to save a little girl from a life and early death in a mental institution. At the young age of five years old Teri was moved from an orphanage in Eastern Europe to a mental institution. Just weeks after her transfer an update photo of her became public and was devastating to anyone with a heart, especially those of us who have a child with Down syndrome.

These are the before and after photos of Teri Lynn.




When I saw the transformation of this child I had an immediate physical reaction. I found myself sobbing and sick in the restroom where I work. I shared these photos with my husband and we were one of the many families that inquired about adopting her. Everyone rejoiced as the news came that Teri Lynn had a family that was going to adopt her. I will never forget how this stirred me inside. Thus, our adoption journey began.

Through many twists, turns and even heartbreak we were led to Gracie. Yes, we were led. In quite an interesting turn of events it was clear that she was the one.

Now, there is another. Another story of a child transferred. Pictures that will break your heart.



Ksenia is nine years old and (sigh) I have no words. You can read more about her here. She is only available for adoption to Canadian families at this time. Share her story, blog about her, scream out to those in Canada and please pray for her to find a family soon.

There are many more who will and already are in this same situation. One of neglect, abuse, starvation and being drugged so that they will just sleep quietly.

This is not just what happened to two unlucky little girls. This is what will happen to all of these precious children if they do not have a family come for them. This is the reality that won't go away.

My heart breaks that I cannot save every last one of them. But rejoice, it will, when I have Gracie in my arms, can fill her tummy like she's never known and can tuck her into a warm bed at night with more hugs and kisses than she has had in over three years.

This is why I cannot let fear lead or consume me. I have to be led by faith and trust in God. Every time I have doubt, I remember these pictures. They are not just pictures; they are precious children.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

While I'm Waiting...

I love, love, love this song and have learned to love it more during the adoption process...

While I'm Waiting (John Waller) :
with underlining for emphasis
I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
While I'm waiting
I will serve You
While I'm waiting
I will worship
While I'm waiting

I will not faint
I'll be running the race
Even while I wait

I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am peaceful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it's not easy
But faithfully, I will wait

Yes, I will wait
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve you while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting on You, Lord
 
 
Our family (and friends) are anxiously awaiting USCIS approval. There is a hold up and I have been in communication with our case worker on what the hold up is. It is minor, but is causing a delay that has now accounted to several weeks. It's nothing to cause concern regarding our approval, but unfortunately we are at the mercy of the dark hole of inter-office file transfers. I seriously wish someone could just walk to the vault of files from 40 years back and dig out the one very important file that is needed for our approval as I am really on the verge of becoming impatient right now...but patiently, peacefully and faithfully I am waiting.
 
I had a dream last week that was nearly a nightmare. I rarely have/remember my dreams, but this one has stuck with me. I had a dream that I was the passenger in a car that one of my friends was driving. In the back seat were some of our children. We were driving around a curvy road that seemed to be a mountain on one side and a cliff on the other. Yes...the cliff was on MY side of the car! I was feeling a sense of panic as my friend (who I could not identify in the dream) started taking the curves too fast. I said to her, "you should probably slow down around these...." and off the cliff we went. My heart was racing and I immediately began to pray! Very clearly, prayer was my answer. I am so thankful that even in my dreams, in my time of fear, I prayed. I prayed that our pain, injuries and suffering would be minimal. I prayed that if we died in this accident that our family and friends would have peace. Then, I prayed the Lord's Prayer. It is then that I woke up and...continued to pray. Thankful that this was just a dream, I continued to pray. What craziness is this? What did this dream mean? I could not get it out of my mind. Then, I started to tell a friend about the dream and it hit me as if I was solving my own problems in therapy.
 
Michelle, you are not in control!
 
A little about me...I like to be the driver. I like to be in control. Clearly this dream was a message to me that there is only so much I can do to move this adoption along. I have crossed all the t's and dotted all the i's and now...I have to trust...I have to be patient...I have to wait...I have to pray.
 
God knows how this adoption will unfold. He knows how much time is needed for us to prepare our hearts and our homes. He knows how much time Gracie needs. Obviously three years in an orphanage is three years too many in my book, but this is not my book. It's God's book and I'm going to turn one page at a time until He is ready to reveal the story to me in His time.
 
Pray with me, friends. Pray that we will have the patience to accept the things that we cannot control. Pray that we will move quickly on the things that we can control. Pray that God works in our hearts, home and family while we wait. Pray that Gracie is doing well and that she knows love from her caretakers.
 
As we do not know the path of the wind...we do not know when it will blow, but eventually it will.

 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Update

I realize that I have been MIA on my blog lately and need to give some updates. The house is so quiet and still this morning that I have finally found a good time to share some updates.

Funds: Our fundraisers have been huge successes and kept me very busy last month. At one point I had four fundraisers active at the same time and seriously did not even realize so many were over-lapping. We raised $400 with flipflop2adopt, $538 (minus $20 for a counterfeit bill) from a garage sale, $1100 from the iPad give-away, and $1200 from our crawfish boil! To everyone who donated, helped out, showed up, offered any kind of prayer or support...thank you so much!! The high cost of adoption was one of our biggest fears. I realized early on that I would have to give all of my fears up and turn them into trust in the Lord and that, my friends, was the best decision I've made.

We are about $10,000 away from having all of the ransom money needed to bring our Gracie home. We have covered all of the adoption costs and fees and are now down to the travel expenses. We have a couple of local fundraisers going on so I have faith that we will get there. To help out please click here to donate to our FSP.

Paperwork: You would not believe the paperwork. It's a good thing I'm pretty organized and don't mind paperwork because I know some people who would probably be thrown over the edge by all of this. It's definitely a different kind of pregnancy...one full of ink pens, signatures, paper cuts and government involvement rather than...Well, you know I'm also experiencing heartburn, nausea, doctors and weight changes.  The symptoms of pregnancy are different, but the same. So, back to the update...

A lot of important things have happened over the past week. We received our FBI clearances in the mail. I had to send those to Washington DC to have them apostilled by the US Dept of State (they were sent to a courier and should be back to us on Wednesday). On Monday, we received our biometric fingerprint appointment from USCIS. Our appointment was scheduled for May 21st but I was told we could walk in at any time so we went on Tuesday. It was the most efficient government office I've ever been to. We were done in less than 10 minutes and I was a happy mommy!

Now we are waiting on approval from USCIS to adopt. Once we get that approval we can submit our dossier to the country that Gracie lives in and wait for them to tell us we can come to meet her!!! Really???  Are we that close to holding our daughter??? I am anxiously awaiting...and constantly checking the mail!! I just found out from another family that they did their fingerprints on Monday and received approval in the mail on Friday!! If my head is on straight (and we have as good of luck as they did), we could receive our approval in the mail TODAY!!! Any ideas who will be looking out the window and meeting the mailman at the mailbox before he can do his wonderful job the way he is supposed to do it?

I have a few more items to take care of that need to be added to our dossier. This includes taking photos of our house (inside and outside) which means...well, I need to clean house! Speaking of the house...it's not still and quiet anymore. I've got to go make the little one breakfast and start cleaning now...while I check out the window for the mailman, of course!

 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

And the Winners of the Give-Away are...

Oh WOW!!! I am so happy to be able to give away these great prizes!!!

I just have to say that many people helped out in so many ways and I am touched!!!
We had 127 entries via donations and people sharing on FB and Emails!!

Between the Flip Flop 2 Adopt Fundraiser, the Give-Away, Garage Sales & Crawfish Boil we are well on our way to rescuing Gracie and bringing her to a loving family...a family that includes all of you! 

God is bigger than than any obstacle! I walk in faith!

OKAY...So I know you want me to just get to it right???

I pulled the winners in a completely random drawing via www.random.org and the winners are...



an iPad 3 now belongs to...


 TAMI CARTER


a Photo Session with Kerri Liles Photography now belongs to...



LINDSEY WALL



a Massage Envy Gift Card now belongs to...

 


EMMA HALTOM

I am so so grateful to EVERY SINGLE PERSON who participated in this give-away. Every single dollar, message to a friend, and prayer on our behalf has meant so much. Just unbelievable. I can't wait for you all to continue on this journey with us as we continue with paperwork, fundraising, travel and bring home this precious baby girl.