Sunday, April 12, 2015

Ask and I Will Make the Nations Your Heritage

This month marks our two-year anniversary in the adoption process.  We never imagined that we would be at this point and not have a child home, much less, a referral.  But here we are. 

And God is faithful. 

Adoption, and international adoption in particular, is so unpredictable.  We have had so many roadblocks, twists and turns.  It would be easy to throw our hands up in frustration, but God has made it quite clear that He is the one who is tarrying.  We thought we would be adopting from Ethiopia.  Then we thought we would adopt from India.  And now, it looks like China. 

We began working on our paperwork for China back in September.  We thought we would have everything finished and ready to be sent to China in October.  And then there were delays and that didn’t happen.  We finally got all of our paperwork finished and sent off in December.  Then it had to be sent to China.  Insert several delays and holidays.  Then we thought we would have everything turned in and approved by the CCCWA (The China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption) in January.  The process typically takes two weeks from the time you turn in all of your paperwork to approval.  There was a delay and it was February before all of our paperwork was turned in.  And then there was the Chinese New Year.  (Who knew this was such a celebration?!)  Delay.  And then there was March.  Surely, we would be approved in March.  But, no. 

Then we got a call that our agency was chosen to go to China on April 15 to evaluate children.  Our caseworker would specifically be looking for a child for us while she was there doing her evaluations, and we would have pictures, video and her personal evaluation.  YESSS!  (This is not how things typically work in the referral process, which is why this was such a special opportunity.) 

Although this seemed so promising, we did not have approval and would not have been able to officially accept a referral.  And then April came.

I began asking questions (internally) like, “Did they lose our paperwork?  What is going on?  Are they going to reject us even though we meet all the criteria?  Are we even supposed to adopt?  I mean, did I hear wrong?  Did I misinterpret?  Why would God provide as He has, and then this not happen at all?” 

In the midst of all these questions, I just felt spiritually exhausted (perhaps I will detail that in another blog post, later).  I was really questioning what the Lord wanted of us with this adoption.  I was begging God to speak directly to my heart, to pierce with Himself, with His Word.  One day I set my heart to read the Psalm-of-the-Day, pick out a characteristic of God and meditate on that.  That day was April 2, so I read Psalm 2. 

I began to read, and I got to verse 8 and the Lord pierced me with His Word, just as I had asked of Him.  Tears flooded my eyes.  This was the second time in a span of 24 hours that I felt the Lord directly remind me of His nearness and love for me in a season of spiritual exhaustion, when my feelings were not lining up with what I knew to be true. 

The words brought such life, such relief, such assurance, such hope.

Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.”

I realize that this verse is about mission.  This is not an adoption promise, per se.  However, the Lord spoke this so clearly as the answer to my questions.  The Spirit whispered that this is what my heavenly Father wanted me to do. 

Ask.  I will make the nations your heritage.

Yes, LORD!  This is the cry of our hearts! 

And then a few days later, we got an e-mail…

We are approved! YAY!  FINALLY!

the trip has been delayed until August because not all of the paperwork was in place in the province where they were supposed to do evaluations of the children.  We can still get a referral when the new listing of children comes out each month.  This happens on a first-come, first-serve basis, essentially.  Therefore, we could be in this position for months because all the adoption agencies are trying to match children from this list and there is no priority given to families who have been waiting longer.  Our agency worker in China tries to work very diligently so that she can match the families with the children who best meet their criteria. 

As soon as a child is paper-ready for adoption and meets our criteria, we can be matched.  Then, it is typically about 3-4 months until you can bring your child home.

I have been so reminded that the Lord is making us wait for a reason.  He is in control of all things, including governments, time and our future.  For whatever reason, it is not best for us to have this child in our family right now.  I am confident that whenever this does happen, it will be His perfect timing and His perfect child for our family.  He knows. 

Maybe one day we will understand why this adoption has taken so much longer than we thought, with so many twists and turns.  Perhaps we will not.  What is important is not my understanding of this adoption, but my confidence in my heavenly Father.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Adoption Update November 2014

After a good, long 19 months, we are pretty much right back to where we started….
But we are moving forward.

One of the first steps in the adoption process is putting together a home study.  Once this home study is complete, you can file with USCIS (United States Customs and Immigration Services).  We have to file an I-600a, which is asking permission to classify an orphan as an immediate relative.  USCIS will then get our fingerprints, go over our home study and then send us an approval or denial.  If we receive approval from USCIS, we can move forward with an adoption from a specific country.

Our home study has been updated.  You must do this at least once per year, or any time any information changes. 

However, as timing would go, our approval from USCIS ran out right around the time we found out that we would no longer be able to adopt from India.  Thus, we have spent the last few months changing our home study and filing a request to extend our approval with USCIS. 

We are now waiting for our fingerprinting appointment.  Once we get our prints, we will be waiting to hear whether or not USCIS will extend our approval.  THEN we will be able to move forward with a specific country.

The boys are getting very anxious to have their sister home.  They talk about her all the time, randomly.  Nathan especially.  He is always asking me, “Can we leave to go get our sister in 15 minutes?”  Or he will say, “I am getting really big because I am eating all the food you are making for me.  When I can’t fit in my clothes, my little sister is going to need them.”  Precious.

We are continuing to seek the Lord for His timing and direction.  We are confident that He will provide, and we are praying that He would show Himself faithful!  We are looking forward to seeing how all of this will develop for His glory!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

I Don't Want Safe Kids

Something happened at the soccer field yesterday that has had my mind reeling ever since.  During a pretty intense game of YMCA soccer, a mom looked over at me and said, “Your boys are climbing on that railing, are you okay with that?  I didn’t want to tell them to get down if you were all right with it.” 

I truly appreciate her asking.  She had no ill will, no judgment whatsoever.  She is so sweet and kind and I enjoy her company.  I know that she wouldn’t let her son climb on the railing.  I told her, “I’m fine with it, but thank you so much for checking.”

Here is why I am fine with it: I want my boys to grow up to be men.  Not girls. 
As crazy as my house is, and for as many times a day I ask myself if I am somehow allowing wild animals to live in my house when I could have sworn I had actual human children, I prefer it.  I do not want to raise passive boys who have no fight or sense of adventure.

I do not want my boys to be rude or rough with things that need to be handled delicately.  I want them to be respectable.  However, if they are not hurting anything, or breaking someone’s rules, I want to say “yes” as much as possible.  You want to play in the dirt?  Go for it.  You want to jump off the clubhouse?  Sure.  It is high and you might break your leg, but you might land it perfectly.  So long as you know the risk.  You want to rappel off the clubhouse with your jump rope?  Okay.  I am just thankful it isn’t the stairs this time.  You want to slide down the stairs on a cardboard box?  Great idea.  Wait there while I get the camera.  You want to push the lawnmower with daddy?  Awesome.  Maybe you can start mowing the whole yard.  You want to climb up the slide the wrong way at the public park?  I don’t mind.  Just don’t get in the way of those trying to use it correctly.  You want to play karate chop on the trampoline and see how hard you can kick each other?  Go for it.  Just don’t do it with a mean spirit and don’t come crying to me when you get hurt because I warned you what might happen.  

Boys need adventure.  Boys need to be able to take risks.  Boys need to be able to build things.  Boys need to do hard things.  They need to be able to act like boys.  My job is to teach and train them to make wise decisions, and sometimes that doesn’t equate “safe.”

Here is what I am struggling to understand.  So often I find us moms telling our kids “no.”  Not because something is bad, but because we think of all the ways they could potentially get hurt.  We are trying to keep them safe from ever falling down and shedding a tear.  No one keeps score.  Everyone gets a trophy just for participating because we don’t want to potentially hurt anyone’s feelings and we want them to feel good about themselves.  Then, these boys who have been told “no” their whole life because something just isn’t safe, get older.  We get upset because men are not leading their families, or not sticking around at all to be a dad.  We are upset when they turn into passive, apathetic men who take no risks and wouldn’t be willing to take a punch for anything of significance.   Haven’t we trained them this way by never letting them take risks, never letting them do hard things, never letting them get too adventurous?  Haven’t we trained them to fear hurt and failure?  It seems to me that we have made safety a god.

I just don’t want that for my boys.

I am not at all advocating parental negligence or stupidity.  I think there is a huge difference between allowing our boys to take risks, potentially get some bumps and bruises and shed some tears, and being an uninvolved parent with no sense of stewardship over the children God has given you.

Here is my point:
If I am raising my kids to be safe, why in the world would they want to risk their life for King Jesus?
If I never let them take risks now, how do I expect them to do that in the future when it matters?
If I raise them to be afraid of everything, how will they stand for anything?
If I am training them to always be afraid of getting hurt, how do I expect them to allow God to take them on wild adventures of faith? 

My biggest fear is not that I won’t be able to keep my children “safe”. 
My biggest fear is that out of their own fear and comfort they would say “no” to Jesus. 

I want my children to be dangerous for the gospel. 

Risking your life for the sake of the gospel is not a tragedy. 
Saying “no” to Jesus because you fear for your safety is beyond tragic. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Of Course He Does

Have you ever lost someone in your life that you really looked up to?

Larry Cranfill is one of those people for me.  Larry and I were never super close or anything, but he served on staff at the church where Kenneth and I formerly served.  He passed away after Kenneth and I had moved to Alabama to serve at Westwood.  Larry had a wonderful, toothy grin and an infectious heart for Jesus.  His desire for God’s glory to be made known among the nations was so obvious that it seemed to ooze out of him at every moment.  He didn’t care if everyone, or anyone, agreed with him; he simply pursued Jesus wholeheartedly and let the chips fall as they may.  I loved that about him.  What a wonderful example he set of living to please God alone.   

Whenever you had a question about something that involved missions and started with “Does God want me to do or go_____”, Larry would just flash that big, toothy grin and say very matter-of-fact, “Of course He does.”  And that was that.  He was excited when Kenneth and I told him about adopting our boys from Ethiopia, and he was always encouraging us when we made decisions in our pursuit of Jesus that looked foolish to others.  He spoke words of wisdom and life (Proverbs 18:21).

Over the last few months I cannot tell you how many times Larry’s words have rolled around in my mind.  There have been times that I start looking at certain circumstances or listening to what so-and-so says needs to be in our bank account, retirement account, college accounts, and the list goes on.  When I dwell on those things it is easy to get caught up in the American Dream, or Pinterest Museum, and ask “What in the world are we doing adopting a fifth child?!  We can’t do this!  Does God really want us to do this?!” 

When the adoption door closed with India, after already being led away from Ethiopia, there were several moments that I asked, “Does God even want us to adopt?”  And it only took seconds to hear Larry saying, “Of course He does.” God then used His Word to gently remind me that He did call us to this and His heart for orphans has not changed. 

There have been so many scriptures that God has used to continually guide us along this path.  Our adoption journey now looks so so different from the one we took in 2009-2010 when we brought Aiden and Asa home.  In one sense, there has been so much more time to just sit around and think about everything.  We have been walking this path for 18 months now and in some ways it feels like we are no closer to the end than when we started.  In another sense, there is a lot less time to think about things because we have a very busy household.  Although so much has changed, God’s Word has remained the same.  He continues to show me that adoption is near to Him and I would be far from Him without it.

Not everyone is called to physically bring a child into his or her family through adoption.  However, God has called my family to do this.  I have realized that every time I ask, “Does God even want us to adopt?” I am focusing on the things of this world.  I am allowing what makes sense in our current culture to drive my thoughts and emotions.    

That is not the way of Christ. 

Does God approve of adoption?  Of course He does.  He has adopted us through Christ.  Moses was adopted (by Pharaoh’s daughter).  Jesus was adopted (by Joseph).  Does God command that we look after orphans and widows?  Of course He does.  Does God say that children are a blessing and a reward?  Of course He does.  Does God desire for these orphans to have a mother and a father who will try their hardest to point those children to Jesus?  Of course He does.  Does God have the means to provide for this?  Of course He does.  Has God used people to provide for our adoption up to this point?  Of course He has.   Has He given us a heart bent toward adoption?  Of course He has.  Is adoption one means of fulfilling God’s mission and extending His glory to the ends of the earth?  Absolutely.

Does it matter that we may never get to take our kids to Disney World or go on a week long vacation?  No, not really.  Not when I think about a child in an orphanage who doesn’t even have a mom or a dad.  Does it matter that we won’t be able to go many places because of the size of our family and the cost?  No, not really.  Not when I think about children who may never hear or see the gospel.  Does it matter that I will have to cook dinner every night because we won’t be going out to eat?  No.  Not when I think about the many children going hungry and the mothers who wish they had the means to make dinner for their family.  Does it matter that our house might feel crowded with 7 people in less than 2700 sqft?  Honestly, I cannot even type all the answers to that question. 

I have to ask myself by whose standard I am evaluating the answers to these questions.  The fight against the tragic “American Dream” is a grueling battle that I intend to engage in every single day for the rest of my life.  When I focus on allegiance to God’s Kingdom rather than building my own, there really is no question as to whether or not God wants our family to adopt.  I keep hearing Him say to me, “I put this on your heart for a reason.  I have provided for you up to this point and I am not going to stop.  Trust me.” 

There are times when we wrestle through finding God’s exact answer for a particular situation, when really all we need to do is remind ourselves of His Word and the mission He has given us and we find that the answer is a simple “Of course He does” or “Of course God would do that.”  No, it isn’t always that simple.  But sometimes it is.  Sometimes we try to complicate things when all we need to do is delight ourselves in the Lord and joyfully follow His simple (though not easy) command to make disciples of all nations.

When we are faithfully studying the Scriptures, when we seek wise counsel, when we are delighting ourselves in the Lord and He has given us a desire for something that He obviously encourages in His Word, sometimes the better question is, “Why would God say ‘no’?”  What a blessing to have His Holy Spirit leading us and guiding us so that we can discern moments like these!

I cannot help but to imagine what Larry would say to us if we could talk with him about this adoption process up to this point.  I know at every turn he would have encouraged us and had stories about Kingdom work that is going on in each country we have considered.  He would have said something like “That’s just awesome.  I am proud of you guys.”   And he would mean it.

I am so thankful as I think of the impact some people have had on my life simply because they passionately followed Jesus.  Some are now at home with the Lord, some are on the mission field, some are diligently serving in churches across the country, some are still around me today.  I am thankful for this great cloud of witnesses, who encourage me to run the race with endurance, fixing my eyes on Jesus, the Founder and Perfecter of my faith (Hebrews 12:1-3). 

Please continue to be in prayer for us.  We are currently waiting on our approval extension from US Customs and Immigration, which will determine if we can adopt internationally.  We have already been approved but the approval only lasts 18 months before it has to be extended.  If they extend our approval we plan to move forward with international adoption.  We cannot move forward with a particular country until we have this approval in our hands. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Over Breakfast on Asa's 5th Birthday

Today Asa is 5 years old. 

As I stood in the kitchen this morning, I watched Asa happily eating his cereal, so excited that today is HIS birthday.  

My heart swelled.

There have been many, many times in the last 4 years in which I thought that we might not all make it to his next birthday.  Those who know us well know that there are some very difficult moments with him.  There have been a lot of tears shed and a lot of deep breaths taken.  Birthdays are not just a day that we celebrate the birth of a person; we celebrate that God has graciously brought us through another year. 

As I looked at Asa sitting at the table with all his brothers, I thought, “I cannot imagine my life without him.”  I whispered the same to Kenneth.  He replied, “It has taken a lot of hard work to get here.  And God has been gracious to enable us to do it.”  He is right.  I would be ashamed if anyone knew just how many times I have wished for an easier way.

This morning, I sat in awe.  Not soaking up the sentimentality of the moment, but rather just in absolute amazement at God.  It is Asa’s birthday, and even though I never physically birthed him, I truly feel like I did.  I do not feel any difference between my sons who came from Ethiopia and my sons who were born from my womb.  None.  They do not look like me, but I don’t even notice anymore.  And honestly, when people ask us questions, it throws me for a loop because I have to stop and think, “Oh yeah.  They were adopted.  It is quite obvious to everyone else that I didn’t birth these boys.”  I am the one who forgets.

Before Aiden and Asa came home to us, I always wondered if parents really felt a difference between their biological children and those whom they adopted, but just never said it.  I wondered if you could ever feel like this child was yours. 

In the beginning, there was a huge difference in the way I felt about my children.  With everything I did, I wondered if Aiden and Asa’s birth moms would be so disappointed in me.  I felt like I was watching someone else’s child even though I knew that they were now mine.  Our family was in absolute upheaval and it didn’t feel natural at all.  There were days I was downright resentful.

I love each of my children differently, and I admire different things about each of them.  However, the distinctions are about personality, not how they came to our family.  In His goodness, somehow over the last 4 years, God has blurred any difference in my heart that I once felt.

I sat over breakfast just thanking God that I cannot imagine life without Aiden and Asa.  Praising Him that in the day-to-day it never really crosses my mind that they were adopted.  Thanking Him that I don’t even notice that they look different.  It is just so normal to me that this is our family.

That feeling I had this morning of, “This is so normal” led me to love my Savior even more.  What a picture of the gospel!  Through the death of Christ on the cross, we who were once enemies of God have now been reconciled to Him.  We are no longer strangers, but sons.  We were once far off, but have been brought near through the blood of Christ.  We were once wild olive shoots, now grafted in.  There is now no distinction between Jew and Gentile, we are one family in Christ. 

It is only through the power of Christ that brothers and sisters from different countries, different birth families, and different backgrounds can come together and form one family and for it to feel so normal, so natural.  Won’t heaven be so beautiful?!  Praise God! 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Closed Door.

God, in His goodness, has closed the door for us to adopt from India.

A few weeks ago, our caseworker let us know that when she attempted to pull our number to match us with a child, she was unable to pull the number.  (Each prospective adoptive family is registered with CARA, the adoption people in India, and is given a number when approved.  When a child is found that meets the family’s criteria, the numbers are matched.)  We had been approved by CARA months ago, and given a number.  It did not make sense that she would be unable to pull our number for this match.  She contacted CARA and they responded by saying that they rescinded our approval (in short).  They stated that they are not accepting any families that have four children already in the home.

Our caseworker filed an appeal.  She believed this would work because A) This new “rule” is nowhere in their guidelines and it is not published anywhere, B) We had already received approval from CARA, and C) Their guidelines specifically state that they will not discriminate based on families that already have biological children (and that is exactly what she felt like they were doing).  Honestly, we had never even heard of this happening to anyone, or thought they could rescind approval.  Our caseworker has been working in adoptions for many, many years and she was baffled.  I think this only proves what a rocky road adoption can lead you on.  It is not easy.  It is frustrating.  It is unpredictable.  It is warfare.    

On Monday morning, the Spirit woke me up around 4 am.  I had the impression that we would hear an answer from CARA.  I had peace about the answer and went back to sleep.  When the phone rang and the caller ID showed the agency’s number, I thought of the man who fears the Lord in Psalm 112, “He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.  His heart is steady; he will not be afraid.”  I knew the answer was going to be “No” before our caseworker even said hello, and I praise God that He graciously gave me peace.

We had waited for a couple of weeks to hear a word back from CARA.  We simply prayed for the Lord’s will to be done, even though we really wanted to bring home a daughter from India.  The Lord can change a king’s heart, so a government agency is nothing to Him, and we believed that.  God could have changed their hearts.  He chose not to. 

I am disappointed.  However, more than that, I am thankful that God graciously prevented something that was not His best for our family at this time.  I am convinced that “for those who love God, ALL things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).  Even when things do not feel “good,” I am led to trust God’s definition of “good” rather than my feelings or what I deem “good.”  And, as I look back on my life so far, there is nothing that comes to mind that I cannot now look back and see how it was “good” or led to something "good."  Maybe some things were painful, but I see exactly how they drove me deeper into the Word, drawing me closer to Christ, which has led to an even greater joy.   

I rest in God’s absolute sovereignty.  There is no doubt in my mind that He led us away from adopting from Ethiopia, and no doubt in my mind that He has closed this door to India as well.  I feel a little like Paul when he kept trying to go preach the gospel to various people and the Holy Spirit kept forbidding him.  After trying to go to two different regions, he then received a vision of exactly where he was supposed to go.  He obeyed the Spirit, which led him to Macedonia, and ultimately, Philippi.  And, if you know anything about Philippians, you know that God did an amazing work among them through the ministry of Paul.  (See Acts 16). 

I realize that I am nothing like Paul. 

I am simply saying that we have felt God’s leading in this adoption, and the Spirit keeps preventing an adoption from certain countries.  I know that this is no accident and God has a glorious plan that involves every step we have taken thus far.  I do not understand it in full, but I am hopeful that God will one day pull back the curtain and help us to see why.  Perhaps, as we continue to follow His leading, we will look back and see exactly why we had to go to wherever this adoption journey leads us next; just as we can now see why God prevented Paul from going to certain countries, and instead led him to the region of Macedonia.

Yesterday, after getting off the phone with our caseworker, I felt the Spirit saying, “Kristy, will you follow me to Africa?  Yes.  Now, will you follow me to India?  Yes.  Okay, now will you follow me to wherever I want to take you next?”  My answer is an unequivocal “Yes!”

We have been asking ourselves so many questions.  Does God even want us to continue this process?  Are these closed doors His way of trying to get our attention and tell us “No” or “Not right now”?  Are these closed doors merely an obstacle, a testing of our faith, to see if we will persevere?  What do we do now?  What is His will?  Why did He lead us here, then there, and then close the door?  Why this timing?  Why are we the family that CARA has decided to make up some new rule about?  What is He doing with this?  Where is He leading?

I don’t know the exact answer to any of these questions.  But, I can tell you that I have no greater desire than to answer “Yes” to my Savior, whatever He asks of me.  I know that God’s timing is perfect and my times are in His hands (Psalm 31:15).  I know that His plan is sure (Job 42:2).  I know that “He does according to His will” and “None can stay His hand” (Daniel 4:35).  I know that when we ask, He will generously give us His wisdom (James 1:5). 

Please join us in praying that God would generously and graciously give us wisdom as we put one foot in front of another, following Him wherever He wants to take us.  Our heart’s desire is to put our lives before the Lord and say “Whatever, whenever, wherever.”  We want to be living sacrifices  (Romans 12:1).

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

How is it coming? Am I excited?

Throughout both of our adoption processes, the most typical questions we have received are:
1.     How is the process coming along?
2.     Are you excited?

I wanted to share an update to answer both questions.

How is the process coming along?
We feel like it is taking forever.  In reality, it is not.  The adoption with Aiden and Asa took 7 months from start to finish.  Because we have been on this train for twice as long (14 months now) the ride feels like forever.  Considering that we have changed countries and had to re-do everything, it actually isn’t that long at all. 

Right now we are in the process of updating our homestudy.  Ours was over a year old and must be updated each year.  The update includes all new physicals for every person in our family, updated reference letters, new letters from employers and banks, new criminal background checks and updated financial statements of every penny we possess or owe. 

We are also working on our dossier, which is the set of documents that goes to India.  The dossier is pretty much our life: birth certificates, marriage certificates, house deed, financials, tax documents, pictures of the house and family, letters galore, physicals, signed statements from our children, etc etc.  Seriously, it is EVERYTHING you can think of, including your blood type.

There are a few grant agencies we will still apply to, as we are about $9,000 short of our goal.  There is a lot of paperwork involved with that, and I will be working diligently on that once we can get the homestudy and dossier close to completion.

Are you excited?
In true transparency, I will say “Yes, but reservedly.”  I have learned that anything can happen in adoption and it is best not to get your hopes up.  Honestly, I know that God has called us on this adventure, but I am not certain of the outcome.  Referrals (the child you are matched with) get lost, children die, children are hurt, the process takes way longer than you think it will, the unexpected can happen in your own immediate family leading to an incomplete adoption, birth parents reappear after years of being out of the picture, and a host of other things.  I am not trying to be a pessimist, but I know better than to think that this will certainly be pain-free and end the exact way we desire.  Yes, Aiden and Asa’s adoption went almost without a hiccup, but many do not.  Until the child is home on US soil, legally in your custody, and legally re-adopted in the United States anything can happen.  I want to be prudent and prepare my heart for however God writes this story.      

I also don’t pretend to think that God is leading us to a “happy” postcard picture type of situation.  Yes, it will be absolutely beautiful in its conclusion, but it will probably be grossly ugly at times (from our perspective).  We have been through this once before, and we know exactly what the first few months are like.  There is a whole lot of ugly.  There is exhaustion, never enough coffee, an immeasurable amount of tears from everyone, lots of praying, lots of repenting, lots of questions, so much adjusting.  Waking up with the goal to survive the day is absolutely legit. 

No lie: When we first brought Aiden and Asa home I literally wrote “SURVIVE” on my to-do list and then I would thankfully cross it off before bed each night. 

Please do not hear me say that this is not worth it. 
It absolutely is. 
Don’t hear me say that I regret it.
I do not.

We would not be adopting again if it were not worth it.  And, either way, obedience to God is NOT optional for this family.  We are following Him on this journey, no matter what. 

There is just nothing that can truly prepare you for the moment until you get there.  Some things help, but until you are in the thick of it you just cannot fathom the things that are done, said and felt.  This time we know a lot more about what to expect and we can be real about the struggle that it is.  **Not every family struggles the way we did.**  And maybe this time will be so much different. 

If you have not read the blog entry by Jen Hatmaker “After the Airport” do it.  This is a very real picture of what the first few months after adoption are like.  The first time I read it, I sobbed.  Someone finally “got” what we had been through. 

There is SO MUCH good that follows. 
And you see God work in ways you never dreamed or thought possible. 
Things are so much more real and the Lord teaches you things about Himself that you may never ever understand if it were not for adoption. 

Adoption is a gift—a gift that I am so incredibly thankful to experience on a daily basis, both spiritually and physically. 

Adoption is the heart of God.

But when I am asked “Are you excited?!” you must know that I am fully aware of the 1 million things that can go wrong.  And you must know that all of the pain and struggle that I remember from the first few months after Aiden and Asa came home just come rushing back like an avalanche. 
To be honest, that part doesn’t excite me much.  It can actually be pretty fear-inducing until I start reminding myself of who my God is.  I know the goodness this adoption will bring, but going through the midst of all-out warfare and testing is never an incredible amount of fun.

When people ask me "Are you excited?!" perhaps I should just answer, "Yes" and move on.  And perhaps that is what people want me to say.  But I want to be honest.  I want people to know that redemption is costly and difficult, lest we forget what it cost the Lord to redeem us.  

The blessed hope in all of this is that God is sovereign over all.  If He has been emphasizing anything to me over the last two weeks as I have studied Amos and Jonah, it is that He is overwhelmingly sovereign over creation and people.  (This seems to be the theme of my year so far.  Every study I do keeps coming back to the sovereignty of God in all things.) 

Even if something goes terribly wrong with this adoption, I rest knowing that God is in control and has purposed it for my good and His glory.  He will get glory through this, no matter the outcome.  That is a blessed thought.  Whether I am saying through tears, “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21) or holding a new child saying “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2), the Lord will get glory!

I love seeing God work through circumstances, and even when things do not turn out like we had hoped, He is always carefully crafting each piece of the puzzle into a greater picture that is stunningly beautiful.  In the end, no matter what, I will look more like Jesus.  And that is the goal anyway!  Praise Him, that no matter what, He continues to transform us into the image of Christ and He who began a good work in us will see it through to completion!

That is something to be most excited about!