Saturday, March 24, 2012

We have a date!

This week we have gotten the news we have been waiting to hear for some time now. On Thursday we received a call from our agency saying we had been given travel approval. The actual documents should arrive here the middle of next week. The next step was for our agency to apply for our appointments at the US consulate. Friday afternoon they sent us an email confirming our appointments with the consulate.  We are excited to know that May 6th we will hold our daughter for the first time. We still have some details to work out with travel, but we have a good idea of how the trip should go. I have been amazed as we have journeyed down this road and watched the hand of God at work. We are thankful and praising God that we have a date. We are also thankful for truths like these, "A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling place. God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land." Psalm 68:5-6

We are excited and eagerly anticipating the day our family will be together. We are thankful for the prayers and encouragement of many of our family and friends. We hope that you will continue to pray for Addie and us as we make final preparations to bring her home. We have a few more weeks to wait, but as we wait we will continue to worship and praise God, who is the father to the fatherless.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

And we wait...

Waiting is something we have done a lot over the last 14 months. Yesterday was the day we hoped to be able to meet Addie for the first time. We hoped to give her the first of many hugs. We hoped to hold her and to kiss her beautiful face for the first time. We wanted it to be the first of a lifetime of telling her I love you. However, we are still here separated by 7,000 plus miles from our beautiful little girl. Still waiting on the last couple of steps to take place so we can travel.

It's easy to look at it and ask why the process is so slow. Why didn't our government move  quicker? We're waiting, she's waiting why prolong it, right. Many people ask why is it such a difficult process? And I honestly don't have that answer. We can however rest in the fact that God is in control of the government. Romans 13 says, " Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God and those that exist have been instituted by God." God has given them the power and the authority to regulate and administer the process as they see fit. Sometimes, I may think the process does not make sense or that things are moving slower than they should, but I can be assured that ultimately God is in control of the process and the timing.

From that perspective we may begin to wonder why, if God controls this and we prayed about it why didn't it happen. In my planning last week would have been the best time for us to travel.  Why didn't he allow us to travel this past week? Maybe there was something he protected us from. Maybe there is someone we are supposed to see or meet later. Maybe it's because they had snow this weekend and I'm not a big fan of the extreme cold. Maybe there is something we need to be here for. Honestly, I'm not sure at this point why we are here, and I may never know. We are walking in faith through this as God reveals one step at a time. We have learned through all of this is that we serve a sovereign God. He controls the timing and will have us there on the day He planned, even before the world was formed.  It may not be what I planned, but God knows what is best. Maybe its like when Landon is thirsty at bedtime and he thinks he needs a Coke. He may not understand why I tell him no he needs water, in the same way I don't have to understand why God would want us to wait. I just need to be faithful and believe. Romans 8 says, "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those called according to his purpose." This verse doesn't say that life will be easy or that we will get whatever we want, it says all things work together for good. Sometimes things are working to our good even when we do not realize it. It may not fit the plan I designed, but that does not mean it's not good. 

We are continuing to pray that our paperwork will come soon. We are waiting on travel approval and then we will need to book an appointment at the US consulate office. When that is done we will be ready to book our travel. While we wait we will worship the Father who has shown us what true love is, "not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." 1 John 4:10. We hope that through our journey you will see a God who deserves all the glory and praise for what He is doing.

Heard this song yesterday and thought it was appropriate for where we are at. I know it comes from the movie Fireproof, but I think the song applies. While we wait, we will worship.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

When did our journey begin?

Our journey of adoption officially began January 13, 2011. That is the day we sent our application in to Holt International. Holt has been a great agency to work with by the way. However God planted the seed for this in our hearts over 10 years ago when we lived in Birmingham. Ann and I were at a Steven Curtis Chapman concert and he talked about the adoption of their daughter and the charity Show Hope they created to help others adopt. After the concert we both felt like we needed to look into adoption. We looked and researched and prayed and talked about it for several weeks. We decided it was not the right time for us for several reasons. One, we just never had peace about it. Also, we knew we were moving soon and that would throw some kinks into the process. We have also felt a pull towards international adoption and at the time we were in our mid 20's and in most countries we were too young to adopt. 

The idea of adoption never really went away. Every so often one of us would bring it up. We would then spend weeks praying, talking, and doing a little research. For some reason it just never felt like the right time. Sometime in the summer of 2010 we began talking about it again. I'm not sure exactly what brought up the conversation this time, I think it was actually the result of several things. It seemed like every book I read talked about adoption. Each time I read about it I felt we needed to be doing something. A friend of ours (also named Steve, but no relation to the previous Steve mentioned) and his wife had adopted a few years earlier and on several occasions he had shared with me about their journey. We had also become increasingly aware of the number of orphans. The estimates vary, but a good estimate is somewhere around 140 million worldwide. The reality of what happens to many of these orphans when they age out of the system is heartbreaking to us. Many become involved in crime, drugs, prostitution, or are trafficked for either slavery or sexual exploitation. We wrestled for a while about how to be involved. There are some good organizations that are dealing with these problems, and we thought maybe what we should do was support them. But we continued to feel more and more that God was calling us to adopt. It seemed like everywhere we turned adoption was there. In the fall I had the opportunity to go to Haiti with my brother and a group from his church in Gardendale. It was truly a great trip for many reasons; we helped finish a church, we had the opportunity to share the gospel, but for me it was good to see a group of people truly living out the gospel in various ways. Of course we were on a missions trip, but to see people that lived out the gospel each day. Some living it out in their job or community, one couple who were literally selling all they had to follow Jesus, others who were in the process of adopting and fostering. At this point no one knew we were considering adoption and had no idea how encouraging it was for me. It was great to hear these guys tell how God directed them to follow Him in various ways. One was in the process of adopting a son from Uganda, which before they finished ended up being two sons. As we were there one got a call from his wife that they would be foster parents before he got back. Another one of the guys is fostering two kids and in the process of trying to adopt one of them. As I look back at how all the pieces have come together and the people that God used to bring us to this point it is truly amazing. We understand that we can't adopt every child, but we know that we can adopt this one and see where that leads. Hopefully just as we have been inspired and encouraged by others, we can encourage others to do the same. We also understand earthly adoption is not the end. More than a loving home, clothes, food, and a warm bed we want to point them to a heavenly Father who has much more to offer. What we are doing only mirrors what He has done for us. In a later post I'll talk more about that, but it is summed up in   1 John 4:19 "We love because he first loved us."

A quick update on where we are in the process. Not much has changed in the last couple of weeks. We have received our visas to enter the country. The kids were excited to see the page inserted into their passport. We are still waiting on the US Consulate to issue our Article 5. Hopefully that will be issued soon and we will receive travel approval and be able to book travel. It is looking like the possibility of traveling next week is quickly dwindling. If we do not travel next week the next possible travel date is the first week of April.

Many have asked what to pray about specifically, here are a few things. The Article 5 and travel approval and of course the actual date that we travel. We are anxious to travel as soon as possible, but know that God has a plan. Pray for us as we wait, these last couple of weeks the waiting has seemed the hardest. Pray that upon meeting Addie she will bond quickly with us. Pray for her transition. Although we know this is for her good she has no idea what is about to happen. It has the potential to be a very traumatic experience for her. If you can only imagine that all of a sudden she is pulled away from everything she has ever known. We look different, we smell different,our food tastes different, and we sound different.(Even in my most fluent mandarin I'm sure it still has a southern twang to it. So far I've mastered Ni hao which is hello) Then we will fly her half way around the world and she's awake when she used to be asleep and sleeping when she used to be awake. Her world has literally been turned upside down, and there is nothing familiar to her. Thanks for your continued prayers as we walk down this road.