Adoption Timeline

Friday, April 19, 2019

Jesus Loves Me This I Know...

This Good Friday I can't help but reflect on what this day means to me. How did I come to a place where I so deeply believed that Christ died on the cross for me...for my sins?  This post really isn't about my testimony, or how I did come to this belief.  It is a long story, that is beautiful and I will gladly share if you ever want to join me for coffee or brunch.  I like to think about it...and to talk about it.  

But I wanted to share about something else that is one my heart tonight.  If you are reading this, I want you to know you are loved. Right where you are.  In your darkness, in your pain, in your doubts and anger, in your crippling sin, you are loved. That is what today is about. Good Friday.  That while "we were yet sinners...Christ died for us."  Romans 5:8 

I always believed in a God.  I was raised in the church and and sang the songs..."Jesus loves me this I know...for the Bible tells me so."  Even as I studied science more and more, I honestly had a harder time NOT believing there was a higher being that created this earth, our every cells so perfectly and uniquely.  I could not and still cannot wrap my mind around the world just coming to be. There had to be a God bigger then us who created us.  Did I know all the answers? No.  But I believed, and still do, that there is a God in heaven who created this earth. I even believed, and still do, that God sent his only son Jesus to die on a cross for our sins...I believe the Bible to be true and that through faith alone, our once broken relationship with the Creator is restored...this death on the cross was our penalty paid in full.  That is how much He loves us.  But somewhere...somehow...that LOVE part got lost.  

As as child I sang the song...I believed He loved me.  But slowly, as my eyes were revealed more and more to the darkness of the world and just the sin in my own life, I lost the belief that I was loved.  And the sad part was, I was ok with that.  I believed He loved others, I believed the Bible to be true...but somehow my mind started to believe that where I was, the choices I was making, the lack of any desire in my heart...all this meant one thing...yes God loved others, but He didn't love me.  Maybe...if I didn't question so much. Maybe...if I could get this one sin under control. Maybe...if I took a break from "the church" and cleaned myself up...then He will be ready for me.  Then He will love me.  But how is that even possible? I was wise enough to look around and see that any perfect version of myself was no where in the near is impossible.  

Where did this lie come from? I really have no idea. Satan, I guess. Maybe me. Maybe society.  Maybe false teaching or my perception of teaching within the church. I can't really pinpoint it.  But I can tell you that if you ever sit down and really start reading story after story in the Bible, this just that...a lie.  

No where does it say that you have to pull yourself together before coming to the Lord. No where does it say that you won't have doubts or questions. No where does it say that "You are loved if ______."  No where does it say that God sent His son Jesus to die for those that seem to have it all "together."  No...he died for us, WHILE we were sinners.  

He loves you. You....exactly where you are.  He leaves the 99 to chase after you.  Just like I can't pinpoint where this lie came from that I had built up in my head that I had to pull myself together before any God would love me. I also can't pinpoint when I realized...that was a lie.  It was a slow revelation I guess. A lot of questions, a lot of doubts and slowly I believed the truth. Slowly I saw that all the time I thought I had been running from God...he had never left me.  

Maybe you are questioning if God loves you...or maybe you are slowly seeing that He does...but you are so scared to take that first step.  My friends, this is faith.  Not being able to see what lies ahead but believing that what lies beyond this earthly world is better. I don't have all the answers, I still question, I still wrestle, and if I am really honest there are times that I am still angry. I could rattle off miracle after miracle that I have seen in my short life of God's mercy and goodness.  But there are also things that I still struggle with...that I still question "When am I going to see redemption win?" "How many times do I come before you Lord and I still can't see the victory?"  

I think that's ok.  Again, I think if we all sit here and wait to have everything figured out...well we will be waiting a very long time.  And if you do claim to have it all figured out, then you probably should do some soul searching. Because though I believe God is good and God loves me, there are still things I don't think I will understand, victories that I will not see won on this side of Earth.  But one day I will. Until that my brokeness, in my imperfections, I cling to the cross and thank God for this day.  That "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us".  

Its hard to take a leap of faith...but it's freeing. Maybe like bungee jumping (I dont know because I have never bungee jumped).

Back to being loved...that is what this weekend is about to me.  And I just want anyone who is reading this to know they are loved too....whether you are on your knees pleading for a victory or maybe you are completely confident in yourself and don't think you need a God.  Where ever you find yourself this Easter, please here are loved. 

It's hard to walk by through those walls...of the church.  I have been there. When you walked away for so long (for whatever your reason may be)...and then your fearfully take one step after the other.  You feel like everyone sitting around you is staring at you and knows you have doubts, hurts, anger. Can I tell you something...the church...our pastors...are human. They are broken too. We are human, we are going to make mistakes...but my faith is not in my church or my pastor. My faith is in Christ alone. Has my church been a central piece for helping me grow and know the Lord more...absolutely.  But it's scary...its scary to say "Lord I need you" to say "God i know you love me right where I am" its scary to walk by faith. But as I look back, once I got through some of those lies, I realized a life without believing God loved me and was there with me through EVERY storm, is way scarier.  

So I invite you to join me this Sunday, at our small church. Bring your doubts, your fears, your anger, your sadness...and let us dig through this together. Again, I don't claim to have all the answers.  But please don't wait until you think you have it all figured out on your own. Tomorrow is not promised. Let's stop pretending we are living picture perfect lives on Facebook and dive deep. If you don't have a church home, and you don't feel comfortable joining us this Sunday...the invitation is always there. Call me, for coffee for brunch for dinner.  I can't promise I will be able to answer all your questions, but I want you to know you are loved and He is calling you now.  He wants to carry your burdens, he welcomes your questions, fears and anger. (Read Psalms...its a great story of the ups and downs we often feel).  

So tonight as I go to bed, I remember the cross. Thank you for the cross.  And this Sunday, may my voice sing in praise the victory over death. 

"Let no one caught in sin remain
Inside the lie of inward shame
We fix our eyes upon the cross
And run to Him who showed great love
And bled for us
Freely You've bled for us
Christ is risen from the dead
Trampling over death by death
Come awake, come awake
Come and rise up from the grave" - Matt Maher

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

We are literally ONE WEEK away from leaving for China!! This has been a huge week of blessings and craziness! Several people have asked how they can help this last week. We just found out that we were blessed and awarded a $4500 matching grant from Chosen & Dearly Loved Adoption Fund, administered by Lifesong for Orphans!! For every dollar that we raise, that will be MATCHED, doubling the amount we raise! Thank you all again for your PRAYERS and support!! 1 week to go....

Sunday, April 29, 2018

T-Shirts For Charli

We have been working hard the past 7 months to bring home our daughter from China. We hope that we will get all the necessary approvals over the next few months and plan on traveling this Fall to bring her home. It would mean so much if you shared in our joy by purchasing a shirt to help bring Charli home. Throughout this adoption, the Lord kept whispering, to take courage my heart. Sweet Charli, who's Chinese name means "Hero" has already been through one open heart surgery as a newborn. The courage she, and so many other children have, is indescribable. May she be our encouragement, to take courage. "Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!" Psalm 31:24

Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!

Use the link below for the next 3 weeks to order your t-shirt! They are available in adult and youth sizes!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Road Back to China...

Well, we have officially announced our second adoption and I have been meaning to write all the details of this beautiful story down before I forget them all.  This time our adoption journey looks much different...or at least how it came to be.  Forgive me in advance, as this is a very long story, but if I don't write it down, I will regret it. Also, I will preface this with a lot of the magnitude and miracles in this story may not make since unless you have been through an international adoption. But again, I have to write this down so I can always have somewhere to go and read the details of this miracle...God's miracle.

Rewind to 18 months ago...when we brought Morrissey home.  There was never a doubt in Matt or I's mind that we would adopt again.  We felt fairly certain that the Lord had plans for our family to grow again (one day) through another adoption, and most likely China.  I have said it before and I will say it again, you can't undo what your eyes see. As hard as this journey is at times, the beauty from ashes, makes it so worth it.

So we had our plan...we needed Xander and Morrissey to really be in Kinder before we had another child, because I wasnt quite sure I could have 3 under the age of five, or afford childcare for 3 under the age of 5. That would mean we would wait until they were close to the age of 4 and then start the homestudy process.  This is how we did it with Morrissey. We started our homestudy and submitted our dossier to China and waited for a "match". This is called the LID route. Of course, all the while, everyday I would look at waiting children and wonder if they were our son/daughter.  I even requested a few files the first year Morrissey was home, of waiting children and would pray/wonder...could they be? Everytime I would show Matt a picture he would smile, but gently say, not yet.

But I kept seeing faces and thinking quite possibly doing a dossier re-use HAD to be God's plan for us. For those not in the adoption community, that would mean we would use the same agency and submit a LOI (letter of intent) for a waiting child by our one year adoption anniversary of Morrissey.  There were many benefits to this, and gosh there were so many children that needed families now. So, I contacted our agency we used for Morrissey and just let them know I was interested in this, and to let me know if they had any children who they come across with congenital heart disease that needed a family. I filled out the preliminary application and continued to pray.

Shortly after this, China changed their rules and two of them affected our family and would prevent us from adopting from China at that time. First, they no longer allowed a dossier re-use, you had to wait a year in between adoptions. The second rule was that the youngest child in the home had to be three. Xander would not be three until February 26th 2018.

Holt contacted me and said they would be closing my application at this time but once the children were a little older to reapply.  As crushed as I was, I knew God had a plan and I was just thankful that we still could eventually adopt...but we just had to wait.

So I started planning big family trips for the five of us and had prepared myself that we would wait another year...I was ok with this. Matt's dad was very ill, and we knew our time with him was limited, Morrissey was still significantly struggling with sleep, we had just moved houses, and had several other big changes.  I was ok with waiting.

September 11th 2017:  I was doing my usual scrolling through pictures of waiting children and this evening the Little Flowers Facebook page.  Remember, Little Flowers was Morrissey's second home in China.  This is where she lived for about 9 months and because of them was able to have her open heart surgery in China.

Suddenly, I saw this face...and those eyes...and something in me just stopped.  I didnt know anything about her, but it was as if she was looking back at me. I kept staring at the picture and then I showed it to Matt. "Matt...look at her...maybe she is our daughter?" He smiled...but this time he didnt say "not yet."  He said "she's beautiful." Then I started laughing and told him, well, she is super young, she wont have a file ready yet. So, there is no way...but she is beautiful!

A few days passed...and a second picture popped up of her.  She had been evaluated in Beijing and was in need of immediate open heart surgery. Something in me, just kept I needed to ask about her. Maybe I just needed to ask about her so I could pray more fervently, or maybe there was another reason.

Again, she was young. There was no way she had a file prepared...and therefore was not "adoptable".  That doesnt mean that she wouldnt eventually be, but you have NO idea when a file will be prepared for any specific child or if it even will.  And...even if she ever did have a file ready, having your agency find that file, is like finding a needle in a haystack. It doesn't happen.  There are just too many variables. And I knew that...but still something wouldn't stop stirring in my heart..

Oh...remember how I said this situation, doesnt happen. Well it does sometimes, just very very rarely.  But, the funny thing is, I do happen to have one dear friend who this did happen to. Remember Morrissey's best friend from Little Flower...Ying?  Her mommy found her the same way. She saw a picture, of a little girl whose file wasnt ready, and she took a huge leap of faith, picking an agency and by the miracles of God...that agency was able to get Ying's file.  So, it happened to Morrissey's best friend..Ying. And did I tell you what this sweet little girl's name was that I had been staring at for 5 days was....Ying.

So, on September 16th I emailed about 10 different agencies, including our first agency asking about what their waiting families looked like, explained the scenario, asked about fees etc.  I made it very clear, that regardless what happened with Ying, that Matt and I wanted to adopt again.  In particular, we wanted to adopt a child with CHD again.  Every agency told me the same thing, which I expected, the chances of getting Ying's file was slim to none.  But I was able to at least get an idea of which agencies had a long list of families waiting and which ones did not have a lot of families waiting.  In this process of emailing, I was able to find out that Ying was with a partnership orphanage.  What does that mean...that means that the orphanage that she was at, would have all their children's files go to one specific US agency.  So, this changed things...I knew where her file would go. BUT...China also changed another rule in 2017. Partnerships were ending on December 31st 2017.  Files would no longer go to specific agencies, but instead all be released to a shared list.  I found out which agency Ying's file would go to...and contacted them.  Much to my surprise they had ZERO families open to congenital heart disease.  But, we were 10 weeks away from December 31st.  This agency told me the likely hood of her file being prepared by the end of the year, was again, slim to none.  So, if her file was ready before Dec 31st it would go to them, if not, it would go to the shared list. The agency could still try for it, but it is so so so hard to find a file on the shared list.

Matt and I talked about it for several more weeks and ultimately just kept feeling this crazy push to move forward. It seemed impossible, it seemed comical to think this could even happen. But, our thought process was...if they cannot find Yings file...then we hope and pray she is with her forever family that God had picked for her. And if her forever family was not us, well then we would still be all set and ready to go with this agency who had no families open to CHD.  So, as soon as Xander was 3, they could look on the shared list for a child who had CHD.  Remember...there are thousands of children on the waiting list.  Thousands.  So...crazy at it impossible as it sounded...we just kept taking one step after the other.  And all along we said, whatever happens is meant to be. And IF by some miracle our agency ended up with Yings file, then there is no doubt...that God choose her for our family.  It was a miracle and a situation that could only be orchastrated by God.  So we step after the other...prepping our homestudy and trusting that God knew more than we did. It was not our job to know the details of how this would work was simply our job to be obedient.

The weeks passed and before we knew it, it was December. Up until this point, we haven't told anyone about this crazy string of events except for a few close adoption friends. We were trying to keep our hearts guarded knowing the chance of HER being our daughter was very unlikely.  As we got closer and closer to Christmas, our agency still did not have her file and Matt's dad was getting sicker and sicker by the day.  Because partnerships were ending as of the 31st of December, her file had to be signed and to the CCCWA by the last business day for the year, December 29th.

On December 23rd, we celebrated our last Christmas with Matt's dad, Charlie.  We held his hand and opened presents and cherished the hours we had together.  The kids knew PaPa was sick so they made him special presents and we each took our time opening each present.  As I mentioned, before this day, we had not told very many people. But knowing our days were limited with Charlie, Matt and I decided that we really wanted to share this news with him. We wanted him to know, that whether it was her, or another boy/girl, Charlie would have another grandchild.  So, as the evening came to an end and we were circled around Charlie...we had him open one last card. In the card, Matt wrote sweet words and included several pictures of the little girl we had been praying about.  He wept as we shared the details of her story. Matt and Charlie pulled out a map and looked up her birth city and we all talked about going back to China and the miracles that needed to happen in order for HER to be our daughter.  Finally, we shared with him...her name. Charli Ying Gonzalez. This was my last conversation with Matt's dad.

The next week (the week of Christmas) was one of the hardest weeks my heart has been through.  Matt spent most of the week and nights with his immediate family and by his dad's side.  I stayed home and watched the kids and tried to help prepare Wyatt's heart for what was about to happen. 

This was also our last week, the last chance we had to see if Ying's file would be ready and prepared by the last business day of the 2017 year.  It had to be signed at the province level by Friday December 29th.  On Thursday, I called our agency and they said it still had not been signed.  I was sad, but I understood..I knew all along this was a slim to none chance. Plus, with the grieving in my heart over Matt's dad, it was all too much to process.  I just remember rocking with Wyatt and trying to soak in the little moments of joy that week...knowing there was nothing I could do about Matt's dad or Ying...except pray. 

Friday Morning December 29th:  Matt had stayed the night at his parents and I was home with the kids.  Matt called me around 11am and told me his daddy had passed.  Our hearts were broken. I wasn't going to tell Wyatt yet, but he saw me and he knew.  We sat together, cried together and  I explained as best as I could that his PaPa was no longer in pain. There is so much unknown, so much I couldnt explain to him. But I did tell him that even though we dont know all the answers, God does.  God can see a much bigger picture than our feeble eyes ever will be able to see.  That is faith.  Faith in something bigger, someone bigger, who loves us.  And one day when we are standing face to face in front of the King, all this suffering will be gone...and our eyes will be opened to HIS story. 

"You give and take away. Blessed be Your name." Job 1:21

Back to that morning.  After getting the kids settled and my cousin coming over to watch them, I got in the car and started driving to Matt's parents house.  On this drive, just a few hours after Matt's dad had phone rings. It is my agency.  "Her file was signed! We have her file!" The last day it could have been signed in order for it to be released to my agency. It was signed and they emailed us her file. 

So in the same day as we looked through funeral home arrangement papers and planned for celebrating Charlie's life here on earth...we also for the first time, were able to see Ying's file....the only bits and pieces we had of her short life so far. 

Over the next month or so, we still kept everything very discreet.  I think we were in shock over what God had done and still processing so much from not only Matt's dad's death, but also the details of Ying's story.

So here we are, racing to finish paperwork and bring our daughter home. We are overjoyed and honored that God chose us to be Charli's parents.  Of course we still have many fears, just like last time.  But we are trusting that just as God so perfectly ordained the beginning of this story...He will also be faithful to every detail in the remainder of the story.  

So here's to another chapter of unknowns...and to bringing home Charli...our next littlest light. 

 "Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait on the Lord." Psalm 31:24

Friday, April 6, 2018

Walk this way...

Have you ever just had a strange tug inside to walk a certain way...move a certain direction...take a certain path?  In particular, have you had this stirring inside you...and maybe it made NO sense to the outside world? In fact, it didn't even make sense to you. Your wordly mind could not wrap your mind around why you would move a certain direction or take a certain step, yet you felt an unsettling stirring inside, that if you didn't move, you knew you would NOT be walking in obedience.

That is exactly where we have found ourselves the past year.

First...a call or a nudge to walk towards something that seemed scary and quite honestly impossible.  I look back and still remember how many times I laughed thinking this made no sense, and maybe I was crazy, but I couldn't deny we were to keep taking steps. Baby steps.  One step, led to another, which led to another.  There was no clear vision of what the end result would be, or if we would have our hearts broken in the process.  So we just kept moving.  Following that still quiet voice...all the while, laughing...thinking "this seems crazy and impossible."  I still don't know exactly how this story is going to continue...or what the next chapter will be.  But I can with certainty look back over the past 8 months, and with shock, amazement and if I am being honest fear, I can see that this crazy obedience was nothing short of a miracle in the making. God's plan.  A story only God could orchestrate.  I wish, that, in and of itself would relieve any fears or anxieties I may have. But, I guess I am still working on that.  So, right now, I try to rest in joy and peace knowing that as crazy as it all may is good..and it is perfect, because it was not my plan, but His.  If it were my plan..well then I would have a whole lot less to sing be confident about.

Then, also over the past year, we have felt a call, or a nudge, to walk away. To walk away for something that to everyone else, would seem normal, acceptable, joyous and good. Something to ME that seemed normal, acceptable, joyous and good. This one was not as easy...and to be honest, I still am sad and mad to lay aside this encumbrance. Because I too, like the world, do not see it as a weight for me. I wanted to avoid the nudging I was feeling...the voice that was saying...walk away. Lay it down.  I still can't wrap my mind around this either. Just like God called us to walk towards one thing and it made no sense...He can also call you to walk away from something. And it may or may not make sense. It may in fact, seem to go against everything you have known and seem completely crazy.  But...He did not promise us that this road we would walk would be easy, in fact, if anything, we are told, the road is narrow. 

"Let us lay aside every encumbrance and sin which so easily entangles us and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us." Hebrews 12:1

John Piper said.."Don't just ask, is it a sin? Ask...does it help me to RUN? Does it get in my way when I am trying to become...

More patient
More kind
More gentle
More loving
More holy
More pure
More self-controlled

Does it get in my way, or does it help me to RUN?"

So how is your run? Where is God calling you?  I pray if you are reading this, you know He is calling you to RUN.  And my friends, even if it feels like you are crawling, and not running (which I will admit is where I am at many days lately)...He is right there with you.  Running beside you.  Waiting for you. Maybe even carrying you.

What do you need to say YES to? What do you need to say NO to?  Are you waiting for the "perfect" time?  If may be waiting a while.  Scary things, big things, may never feel like the timing is perfect.  But if that still soft voice is calling...then regardless of what our feeble eyes can see, the timing is now.  Tomorrow is not promised to us.

As for these two scenarios in our life...we will continue to try to walk in obedience...and though it may seem like we are in the middle of the ocean and we cannot see the shore, I have no doubt that each chapter He writes will beautiful in the end. 

To be continued...

Saturday, July 8, 2017

A painful change...

It's no surprise to the adoption community, that changes happen. Rules change, policies change, programs open and close.  Some of these rules and changes happen to better protect the children, while others happen and seem to have no reason or purpose.

This week, in China, new rules for prospective adoptive parents were implemented immediately.  There were several changes, but I will highlight the major ones.

  • Adoptive families can have no more than 5 children in the home
  • Adoptive families can have no children less then 3 years of age in the home
  • Adoptive families can no longer adopt 2 children at once
  • Adoptive families have to wait 1 year in between adoptions

To an outsider reading this, you may not think these new rules sound harsh. In fact, you may be even thinking they are beneficial or positive.  But, let me tell you, this week, I mourned over these changes.  Like, I shed tears. I cried for the families that are no longer able to adopt a child they saw as their son or daughter. I cried for our family, as the reality of Ri being our daughter would not exist had these rules been in effect 1 year ago.  And mostly, I cried for all the children that wait.   

It may not seem that there are many families that will be disqualified from these new rules, but oh friends, that is just not true. I cannot even begin to count the number of families who plan to return to China who have 5 or more children, who have a child less than 3, who planned on adopting more than one child, or have only been home less than a year. 

Every family that is now denied = one more child that waits. There are families that were ready to say "Yes".... who now are being told "No". 

I am haunted by the images of children who were ready to be placed, had families ready to move and fight for them, who now are back...waiting. 

And let me be very clear and open on my opinion on a few things.  Do not tell me, that one particular child will "find another family".  Do not tell me "there is another family out there for them."  The facts are very very clear. There are more children WAITING then there are families. Period.  So, eliminating a large pool of families mathematically leads to only one result...more waiting children.

And friends...these are NOT just faces. These are lives. These are lives, that if not brought home, will either sit in an orphanage until they "age out" at 14. Or they will die. There is no sugar coating it. All of these children, regardless of the health condition, deserve a chance at life, they deserve a family.  They did not choose their circumstances.  But we, can ACT. We can speak and act on behalf of those who cannot. 

Let me also be very clear an another misconception.  You cannot sit here and tell me, that a large family or a family with a child less then 3, is automatically not capable or qualified to raise another child.  Do not tell me that it would be better for them to an orphanage with 800 other children, when they could be in a FOREVER home with a large family or a family with a younger child.  I know it may look crazy to some. I know you may think it would be crazy to come home from China and turn around and run back.  But you know what if it is crazy? What if that craziness led to one more child getting a chance at life? Or let's flip it around...the other scary horrific side.  What if our lack of "craziness" led to a loss of a chance at life? What if our fear kept us from doing one of the most beautiful things God had planned for us?

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline" 2 Timothy 1:7

So, tonight, I truly plead with you.  Will you consider where you and your family fit into this?  Does your family still qualify?  Could you, possibly be a forever family to a child who is waiting? Do you have room at your table? Do you have room in your hearts to say Yes?  Maybe it's not China...that's totally OK!! The need friends....spans the east to the west, in all countries including our own.  But please, would you pray? Would you consider where you can help? Would you take that first step?

As long as there are children waiting, our hearts should be burdened.  May we not let new rules stop us from being their voice. May they not stop us from fighting...because these children deserve our fight.