31 December 2015

How I'm Feeling

If you've had a baby (and probably if you've adopted before, but I don't know), you may be familiar with the feeling when you're nearing 40 weeks, and all the nerves and excitement and fear and everything starts to give way to the overwhelming desire for this current stage to be over. The I'm so uncomfortable I don't care if I'm unprepared for parenthood feeling. Or that was my feeling. The I'm so done with this feeling.

So yeah, basically that. Am I ready for the challenges ahead? NO! No. Do I feel even kind of prepared to parent four children four years old and under? No. I don't even think I know all the things I could be preparing for (despite having read many books on adoption or parenting or grief)? No. I feel about as prepared to bring these girls into my home as I did having Ezra.

The learning curve for me with Ezra was so immensely high that it took a long time before I got my head above water. I mean, some of that was hormones, but a lot of it wasn't. At least this time I know that the next few months may kind of totally suck for me. I mean, there have been times when parenting my biological, never-been-traumatized kids has kinda sucked. Some normal stages of development are kinda sucky. That's not very nice to say, but people aren't always very nice, and small children are just people with no filter on their behavior. You know?

But I am not going to be caught unawares when it happens like with Ezra. And the transition may be much smoother than what I've read about. Lots of people bring children home, and they attach to them, and they love their siblings and integrate easily into the home. I have no idea how it will go. It's all a big question-mark,  a white space on the scrolling page of our family story. And I'm just ready to move into that space and explore it, for all the pain and beauty.

So yeah, I'm excited and relieved and so, so thankful. I'm also terrified of how out-of-my-depth I will be and wary of the pain and selflessness it will require. But the prevailing feeling I'm having is just let's do this. Let's go get our girls and start to be a family.

30 December 2015

Tickets Booked!

Our flights are booked -- yes, OUR flights! Stephen and the boys are coming for a week to Uganda! The four of us will fly over on the same plane(s), and then they will come back without me. Feel free to send a prayer for the boys to fly well because eeeeek! It will be quite the trip. We leave January 12th, so in 13 days NO BIG DEAL.

Please be praying as we figure out how to secure the final funds for the trip. We had a LOT of unexpected expenses on the last trip (what with Mirah being so sick and with our agency not telling us about several large expenses they absolutely should have mentioned to us), so about $2,500 we thought we had ready for this trip was instead used for the last one.

My parents have blessed us by paying for the boys' plane tickets and by using their frequent flyer miles to get me there. Another close friend of ours has given us enough in our Lifesong grant to buy Stephen's plane tickets and probably my and our girls' tickets home! Such generosity enabled us to not be apart for several weeks, and for the boys to be able to experience their sisters' home country. I know they may not remember it, but I think it will mean a lot to the girls that their brothers have spent time where they grew up. I'm also really glad the boys can meet their sisters on their home turf, in the foster home they're enjoying right now. I was dreading their meeting being right after I took the girls from their home country.

The rest of the trip we will have to pay for with a small, interest-free adoption loan. I'm so glad we sold our house; the downsizing means we have extra in our income for a small loan payment as well as the added expenses of having two more children.

I will post tomorrow on how I'm feeling, since people have been asking. :)

25 December 2015

Merry Christmas!

From our growing family to yours, Merry Christmas!
Stella's four, which means she makes awkward faces when people tell her to smile. <3
Our plan is to leave January 12th. I'll be outlining our costs and plans soon. We've been so busy with the end of the semester and with making plans for the trip, I've quite neglected the blog! Sorry!

18 December 2015

FINALLY Introducing...

The judge said "Yes!" So introducing:
Stella Muenich, age 4

Stella is actually laughing in this picture because she put her sister in the wardrobe. It's pretty obvious she's going to be inciting disobedience in our house. I mean, what's a big sister to do but try and get her younger siblings in trouble? She also really likes to help me do basically anything. She is so precious to me. 

Also introducing:
Mirah Muenich, age 2
This child is so sassy. I don't think we've seen a lot of her personality because she was so sick when we got her, but this girl. She's gonna be a handful in the best way.

These are pictures from the last two days we had our girls. I don't think I'll share pictures of them from much earlier -- they're kind of hard to look at for anyone who knows what grief looks like in children. Besides, Mirah was so sick.

14 December 2015

a Pre-Update

We just got an email from our lawyer in Uganda. #finally

Turns out the courts don't close until the 23rd. We were told they close on the 15th by our agency, so we actually have a little bit more time to get over there if we have to. Our lawyer is going before the judge again tomorrow; his response tomorrow will determine our course of action.

Please be praying that the judge's heart will be softened and that he will give us the written guardianship decree without us having to fly back over to see him.

11 December 2015

A Little Update

Our in-country guide (bless her wonderful soul) went to visit the girls today. They are doing fairly well and are doted on by the other kids (who are all older). I had to share this precious one of our younger kiddo.
This totally counts as not-identifiable. Also gorgeous. And I love that big (nearly) bald head.
I have recaps of our trip all ready to go, but I was waiting on the court to come back before I posted all the pictures. Now I'm trying to decide what to do with them. It doesn't help that our agency still hasn't gotten back to us on if I need to travel, you know, in two days. *sigh*

09 December 2015

difficult news

Finally got some news about our case. The judge is refusing to issue the ruling until we appear before him so he can explain the conditions of our legal guardianship. We are trying to figure out the best course of action.

A few scenarios are playing out in my head:

1) We wait until the new judge comes in office on January 8th, not knowing how s/he would rule on our case, and probably having to do the court proceedings all over again (meaning another two months from then before we could get the girls home).

2) I go now before this judge leaves office and get the written ruling and go through the passport & visa process without the family, or the judge's conditions are such that we cannot accept guardianship of the girls.

I wish we could all go and just have Christmas in Uganda as a family, but we don't have the funds. We are trying to get more information so we can make a decision. Please pray for us. I was really hoping to introduce our daughters to the public today...

08 December 2015

Welcome to International Adoption

Got this email today after asking for our court info:
Daniel is our lawyer in Uganda.

*sigh* I'm not entirely sure no news is good news, but I guess no news isn't bad news. I guess. Hopefully we'll have good news tomorrow.

07 December 2015

(Almost) My Girls

The judge is supposed to rule on our case tomorrow. I can't show you clear pictures of the girls until we get the ruling. This one of our sassy little two-year-old will have to suffice until hopefully tomorrow.
Wearing the lil romper. #lifewin

I'll be posting details on our trip over the course of this week. Stephen has had a terrible bout of food poisoning (Lufthansa, you failed us, despite your abundance of movie choices AND awesome outside camera feeds!) since before we even got off the last plane (the plane ride was 11.5 hrs long, so yes, long enough to eat something and get the symptoms of food poisoning from it before even deplaning). Luckily I didn't eat very much of it, so it's hit me less hard. Still, going straight from leaving my precious girls with near-strangers to traveling for 35 hours to feeding the boys and putting them to bed by myself was... was not my favorite period of time in my life.

Please pray (tonight!) that the judge will issue a written ruling tomorrow (around 5:30am Texas time). If that happens, we'll be traveling back right after Christmas, and then finally, finally having ALL our kids in the same place.

24 November 2015

A Sneak Peek (of sorts)

Yes, I've been furiously packing, buying random things (bless you, Amazon! and Target!), emailing & texting a million people, and running around like... well, like I have TWO DAYS to prepare for leaving the country (and one of those is Thanksgiving). I went out and bought a new outfit for our court date because apparently what I was planning on wearing was too casual. Stephen's also borrowing a suit from his dad because what he was planning on wearing was too casual. What can I say? We're casual people.

Yes, these are now the most formal clothes I own. A dress with slacks underneath. #winning?

I'll be wearing my own jewelry: the Freedom necklace.
 Indeed, I really hope the apartment we're staying in has an iron. And clearly I'm an incredible flat stylist. *eyeroll*

On a crazier note, no one told me (until Monday morning) that the girls will be staying with us during this trip.
[pause for effect.]
As in, we will meet them at their orphanage, and they will come back with us to Kampala, and they will be with us for our meetings and our court date and for five whole days we will be together. And then on Saturday, we will take them back to the orphanage and leave them there and fly back to the US.
[pause for effect.]
Ugh this is the worst idea ever when I think about that Saturday, which also happens to be our older girl's fourth birthday. So, I've been focusing on not-Saturday and have only had brief moments of hysterical crying since.

This is everything they will need for 6 days (minus food) I HOPE.
So we need to bring clothes for them and jammies and underwear and toothbrushes and shoes (what size? NO IDEA) and things to entertain them and what?!? What. Okay, do all the things. And that has been my mode lately: do all the things. So here are a couple of outfits they will wear (since they won't be coming to us with clothes).

This is the dress the girls will be wearing to court.
Of course I have a matching skirt for this. But the shirts won't match, so it's not weird.

I bought this romper when we were going to adopt Helene (in 2013). I've saved it basically out of stubbornness that I'll have a girl to put in it. I'm full of joy and thanksgiving and sadness when I think that Mirah will wear it, but Helene never got to. I still think about her a lot. Adoption loss is weird.

I don't know if I'll get a chance to post again before we leave; in addition to packing for myself and two girls I've never met before, I also need to get our boys packed up for staying with my parents for nine days. and have Thanksgiving. I have been promised wifi, so I'll try to update. It's supposed to be about dial-up speed, so you'll probably have to wait until I get back for more pictures.

19 November 2015

Praise God for December First!


LOOK what we got in our inbox this morning! Our court date! We are hurriedly making preparations to leave on Friday of next week!

PLEASE PLEASE be praying we will have a good visit with our girls, favor with the judge who sees our case, and that the judge will give us our written ruling by the time the courts close on December 15th. And for the hundred things that need to happen for our home and selves to be ready to receive them here. Our girls.

You could also be praying for our boys, who will miss us so much, and my parents, who will be watching them while we're gone.

15 November 2015

Sunday Supplication

Would you consider praying for me? I've been a bit down. Here's the only picture we took (before our camera died) on our "fun trip" to get the boys' passports:
I'm accepting my stomach rolls because this is about spending time with my child, not my modeling career.

But this is more how I feel all the time lately:
Continued presence of evidence that I've had children. I just feel less... I dunno. Just less.
I'm not going to use the "d" word [heavens, not divorce! Stephen is the best. Think of the "d" word relevant to this conversation, thanks] because there could be consequences for our adoption if that were to be the casebut I am struggling to find joy in life right now. Which is very strange for me, because my personality is very fun-oriented. I think the combination of stress, waiting, and lack of communication/understanding as far as how the next two months are going to play out has been a bit much for me emotionally.

It's just situational, so I'm going to start trying to take better care of myself, like I did when I had (slight) postpartum depression. In the meantime, I would welcome your prayers for our adoption to move along, for Stephen's ministry support raising to be fruitful, and that I would be as gentle with myself as I would be with a friend who was in the same position.

05 November 2015

BoyMom

I love, love love having boys. At least my boys.
Especially when their father dresses them. Shirt & Shoes | Shorts

If you haven't met him, our oldest is usually a robot in public.
A very loud robot.

 But look at this gorgeous thing. How could I not love being a mom to this kid?
A viable substitute for modeling headshots. #biased

 Especially when he pulls faces. Which is all the time.
This lil body is knock-kneed perfection.
Cherishing these fall days as a mom of only two little boys (Judah was napping during this).

02 November 2015

Happy News!

Got this email today:

To decode: we will receive our USCIS approval in the mail this week! Honestly, this is a big stressor lifted, because I didn't know how long we would be waiting since we had to amend our home study (again). We could not have traveled without this approval, and I was afraid we would be waiting on this one piece of paper to travel. So, this is particularly good news.

So yes, Officer-blurred-name, I will have a great day!

28 October 2015

Dreams

One thing I really appreciate about having my parents be my parents is I've learned to be pragmatic. If I'd had different parents, my dreamer side could have overwhelmed the rest of me. I want to do crazy things for Jesus, big things that shake the world. But I also want to not let my grand imaginings crowd out the fact that most of the amazing things God does aren't on the romantic, adventurous side of the scale, but definitely in the small, inner, daily movings of the Spirit.

In some ways, our adoption is pretty heavily on the adventure side. I mean, yeah, I think that's obvious. And I think that's why I have a lot of dreams. And I've been having to practice letting dreams die. Some of them are big: I dream our children will all love each other very well, and will support and protect each other with the fierceness I feel for each of them. I dream our daughters will be able to grow up with a deep understanding of their inherent value, and that nothing this culture (or the sinners who inhabit it) says or does can shake that inner knowing. Those are big dreams (not impossible, but big).

But the small dreams are hard too. I'm trying to include them in some of our family things, like decorating lil pumpkins for them when the boys decorated theirs. That dream was literally rained on (and of course I didn't get a picture before). So this is what will go in their books:
Our big pumpkin also can't be carved bc it's rotten & gross on the bottom.

Edited: Okay, the picture makes the pumpkins look not so bad. But srsly, they look rough

I've been realizing also how tightly I'm holding on to the dream of having them home for Christmas (see the Christmas sweaters from my last post). I'm a celebrator and I love Jesus, so Christmastime is special. Going for chilly walks to look at lights in our parks. Watching our Christmas movie together. Talking through Advent (especially with Ezra, who loves babies and now the Bible). Christmas morning, together as a family. Buying them their first Christmas present from Mom & Dad. I just get carried away with it.

I'm not saying it won't happen. It still could. I just want to be okay if it doesn't. So I try to remember all the times God has said No and I've thought later what a great "no" it was, and how awful it had been if He'd said yes. So then, after some work, I want what I want (duh), but I really want what God wants. Until I forget and dream again.

24 October 2015

Girl Mom-to-Be

Most Texans are familiar with the long, long wait for cool temperatures. As the weather's finally edging into the 80s (and 70s!), we excitedly bring out our jeans, scarves, & boots (even though we often spend the afternoons lightly perspiring).

Personally, I get even more excited to dress my kiddos. Women's clothing can be a complicated balancing act of what I like, what looks good on me, and what's appropriate for my current stage of life. Oh, and what I can afford. Kid's clothes are less that way. And I am so ready for Ezra to wear his size 4 winter clothes and for the serious nostalgia of Judah wearing clothes Ezra wore as a little bitty. But I'm even more excited for dressing my little girls.

So I thought I'd show you just a couple of things every once in a while that we've bought / been given / thrifted.


Above are the jammies the girls will travel in. Yes, those are drop-crotch jammie pants. I'm not sorry; in fact I'm totally jealous that they can wear them when I could never get away with it (that's basically how I style my kids in a sentence). They also have lil pink cardigans to put on if when it's cold. I have matching shirts for the boys, so they'll be like a little pack in the airport. The shirts are CRAAZY soft and are from The Talking Shirt.


 These are their Christmas sweaters. I bought them on ThredUp in faith that they'll be home for Christmastime. They're just a touch faded but nice and soft -- the give & take of secondhand clothes.

In case you're wondering, yes, I have a lot of matching or coordinated clothes for them. I used to think that was strange, but that's before I had kids. Now I tooootally understand. I'll share a few more outfits here & there as we get ready to travel. Mostly because I cannot contain my excitement. And yes, I know that they will likely develop opinions on what they want to wear, but from what I've read, it may take them some time to figure it out.

22 October 2015

An Unhurried Adoption

I can't help but think lol to my blog post title. We've talked a lot in our church staff team about living An Unhurried Life, and while I think this topic is one of the most important topics for Christians in our culture, I also have struggled to figure out how to apply it to my life. Other than when I was having to assemble our dossier (and probably when we get our court date and have to make travel arrangements), I don't lead a busy life. If you were to map out my appointments and such, there wouldn't be a lot to put on it.

That isn't to say I'm not occupied basically all day, every day. Ezra is so curious and adventurous and high-energy that I can't leave him alone for long (he does have a specific hour to play by himself in his room each day) without the probability of being in danger or getting in trouble or making huge messes (and I don't mean toys; I mean eyeshadow or every hanger in our closet). And while Judah has less of the "entertain me or I'll break things" spirit going on, he's still only 14 months old. He sticks stuff in his mouth. He climbs on anything he can. He has no sense of danger. Alllll that to say, I thought one young toddler was a lot, but that's because I couldn't have handled this yet. It's not so bad; rarely do I feel like I cannot do this another minute -- which is good, since I'm about to have double the amount of young children. [real talk: there are mornings where I think, why can't we just lay back down and pretend it's not morning yet? But Ezra's already jumping on us and yelling]

So while I don't have a lot of extended time with the Lord, like Fadling suggests, and the idea that I could get an overnight with God once a month is like adorable right now, I don't feel busy. I don't feel hurried.

Except for with our adoption. I have felt in a hurry with our adoption almost continuously since we started the process... four years ago. #wompwomp

So, when we talked about this (again) on the same day we got the paper of incompetence that Request for Evidence from USCIS, the light bulb lit up. It was a great altar call of sorts for my heart. Do I trust Him? God is going before us in this adoption. And though I know the enemy is the ruler of this world, everything must bend to God's will. And I have seen the fruit of the singularly slow pace of our adoption in my life. He knows what's best.

21 October 2015

Wednesday WHAT.

I've been busy with a conference this week, but I came home Monday to find this in the mail:
YOU KNOW WHAT I REQUEST, USCIS?!? I can't tell you because I want to be like Jesus. And he loves you I GUESS
And I promptly had a dramatic moment. You know, an I HATE EVERYTHING IN THE WHOLE WORLD moment, quickly followed by a WHY IS EVERYONE INCOMPETENT moment. And then I tried to actually read the document for comprehension, and had a I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS moment.

Luckily, there are actually some people who know what they're doing, and our home study has been updated to include the mysterious "specific requirements" our home study was missing. I've also emailed USCIS to let them know that we actually live at the address on the front page of our home study, and not in Pennsylvania, as they've concluded from the documents we needed because our Uganda agency is in Pennsylvania. You might think that's confusing, but remember, looking at home studies is this person's ONLY JOB. YOUR ONLY JOB, USCIS GUY. I will forgive you. Well, I'm working on it, okk?

And then after calling both agencies (and leaving voicemails), and then emailing both agencies, and venting just a little bit to Stephen, I was able to reconnect with God's heart and re-trust him with our adoption and the timing of it. I'll talk about that more later on.

14 October 2015

Wednesday What?

All day I've been feeling... weird.

I can't name the emotions yet (probably because there are several present), but I feel weird knowing our dossier is being sent to Uganda. After thinking and thinking, I realized at least why I'm feeling weird:

We've never hit this step in our adoption before. We are now officially entering new territory. Up to sending our dossier off, we've done it before. We had a dossier 80% complete when we got on the wait list for our original agency (all of our documents that aren't birth records expired and had to be reattained) 3 years ago. We didn't even finish our home study update when we lost Helene to the DRC closing.

I'm so afraidexcited. Excitafraid? We're getting really close to being able to meet the girls. To actually see them, to interact with them. You parents, you remember your first moments with your newborn? Imagine if, instead of nine months of anticipation, your baby has been gestating for fifty months. Yes, we've been actively taking steps to adopt for fifty months. Our joy will be like the sunrise.

Sunrise over the Kazinga Channel.
The what-ifs are getting equally as real, and it has become a daily struggle to throw off waves of anxiety about the possibility that there has been corruption in our adoption, or that the judge will say no. I don't think I need to explain how devastated we would be to go to Uganda full of hope and have those hopes shattered.

I don't want this blog to become Michelle's Prayer Request Update, but I also want to have grace with myself and recognize that this is a pretty intense time in our lives, and we could really use prayer.

13 October 2015

USCIS and Dossier Update

Tomorrow we'll travel to Houston to get fingerprinted have our "biometric" appointment. I'm not going to complain because I'm never doing it again. They're also sending our dossier to Uganda so our Ugandan lawyer can prepare the final documents that will be submitted with it to the courts there.

She is focused on getting us a court date quickly, as the judges will change in December, and no one knows how they will handle adoptions until they start seeing cases.And we'd like to not take chances, since they can do whatever they want -- require us to live there for some time, require us to bring the girls back to Uganda (called a "heritage trip") every 5 years until they're 18 -- or just deny guardianship. At which point, we'd never be able to adopt the girls.

So yeah, we'd also like to get a court date quickly, and we appreciate her help. Please be praying that all of our documents are received and that we will get a court date very quickly.

11 October 2015

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

Life zips along. Sometimes it feels so out-of-sync with our adoption. Waiting is weird.

Judah broke an animal cracker with his hand and cried about it being broken -- he's definitely moved from baby to toddler. He loves to sing and has his first favorite book. Ezra's finally really interested in reading (though perhaps not enough to sit down and have a formal lesson. Off to public school you go, kiddo). He builds a lot of robots and machines with his Legos. He's basically obsessed with his dad. And singing so loudly.

A still from a video I can't figure out how to upload of Judah clapping for Ezra's singing. #bros


Stephen is now officially out of his student homegroup (small group). Next week, we'll have our first church plant homegroup meeting. I now officially don't disciple any girl leaders here at A&M. Another few concrete steps toward that big life change.

All of that has happened between beginning our home study update and our dossier being filed.Waiting is weird.

Little Note

For some reason, my blog is try-ing to translate into Vietnamese Itself. #wearenotamused

Update: Stephen figured it out. Little hands had somehow turned the translate button that's at the top of the browser bar (i.e. where you'll never find it until you just happen to). All is fine except the last post. I may sometime fix it, but it's a mess.

18 September 2015

Documents to USCIS and Dossier Update

Our second packet --the "Oops! Sorry we sent you an incorrect home study please don't penalize us" packet -- is in the mail and should arrive at the National Benefits Center on Monday unless it gets routed to Topeka or blown up by a meteor, so now we're solely focused on getting our dossier finished and perfect and ready to send.

Our agency is allowing us to send it to them early to review it, so they can send it off to the lawyer in Uganda as soon as we can get the USCIS approval letter to them. Look at this gorgeous packet of time, tears, and money documents:
#awkwardkidsmiles #iknowheneedsahaircut #stillthinkheissocute
This is about 75% of what we need for our dossier!!! I do wish that some things would be a little easier to have completed... but I'm sure it's helping me grow and mature in some way. I haven't yelled at anyone (today). Mad props to my husband for praying for me when I yelled at him last night for asking "how can I help?" when I was stresscrying.

17 September 2015

Prayer Requests

IF you've been wondering how you could pray for us right now:

- PLEASE be praying our blunder with the USCIS doesn't cost us too much time (and money). Please pray we can get a court date with our current approval! That would be incredible.

- I would so appreciate prayer against fear and anxiety. These girls, I'm having to continually lay them at the feet of God. It's like fear is my auto-response -- fear that we won't be able to adopt them and bring them home with us. I want to trust God with the trust that produces peace. Also it's exhausting to be scared. But I'm not to the point of knowing how to both have peace and acknowledge that we won't be certain we get to keep them until our plane touches down in Houston with them in our arms.

- Prayers for casting my anxieties about getting everything done on Him. I'm the kind of person who's always looking forward -- usually that's very energizing to me, to be thinking of what comes next and how we make it come to pass, or different ways things might work out. I love that. But when there are so many things to do, and so very many things that I've never done before or don't know how it will work...man. I just cannot think about all the things that need to happen in the next two months. I need to be present with the kids I'm currently parenting. I need to be focused on what should get done today & this week. BUT that means it would be really helpful to have an outline for what needs to get done and when.

- There are like a hundred (okay, like twelve for this week) things that we've got to get done that could go smoothly or could be like untangling a knotted necklace (anybody? what is more tedious? THE GOVERNMENT THAT'S WHAT). It would be really helpful for our time and stress for most of those things to go smoothly.

I just need grace. and Godly wisdom. and peace. and unction. #yeahunction

16 September 2015

Happy Birthday, Mirah!

Ezra-the-Robot saying HAPPY BIRTHDAY MIRAH. I know. It's underwhelming
Our younger daughter turned TWO in the past week (I probably won't share her actual birthday)! We decided to name her Mirah (Meeruh), as her current name is pretty difficult for Americans. Mirah means "glad," and boy are we glad to have her! I can't wait to see her little face and touch her.

Our older daughter's name isn't changing, so we'll have to keep that one for later. If you just can't stand it, it means "star" in another language. #biggesthintever

We've been soaking up the time with only two little boys. They are so precious to us.

*none of them actually went down the slide*

15 September 2015

Tuesday Timecard

Ooooookay. Okay, Life. You can settle down now.

I've traveled to Waco and back to get our updated homestudy. I've sent it and the other necessary update documents to Immigration Services (USCIS). I've tried not to freak out as I realized later that night that our address was not updated on the front page of our homestudy, so we need to somehow send back in the correct one to USCIS and hope it doesn't majorly delay their processing time.

I haven't finished processing how I feel about it (i.e. I haven't had a good cry about it). It feels like the last nail in the coffin of being able to eek by on our current USCIS approval, which expires in late October. If you have the faith for it, I'm up for traveling in 3 weeks, but I don't see how that's possible.

All things are possible for the Almighty, so I can't totally shut out hope. Or maybe there's some something I don't know that may mean we don't have to stay back and wait for a new I-600A to be processed. The extra $1,000 stinks, but the time is really what hurts. Two months of waiting for one document to be re-approved is way harsh for my heart. I'm really, really wanting our girls home for Christmas.

On the funding front, we only have $1,136.50 left to finish out our $10,000 matching gift! That's amazing! We're going to try to send out a letter to a few people who aren't probably following our story online, but it's difficult to do at this time, as Stephen's been doing the extra beginning-of-semester craziness AND support-raising for his job.

03 September 2015

A Very Important Post

We will be sending in our documents required to update our USCIS tomorrow. I'll be driving to Waco to pick them up; we are that pressed for time. This update could take two weeks to be processed, and it could take twelve! Please, please please be praying with us that we will get it back in record time, so we can send our dossier to Uganda and get our court date... and go meet our girls!

In a related note, with all the activity surrounding the adoption, Ezra's been getting very excited about bringing home his "sistuhs" from "Udanda" and srsly you guys. Melts my heart. His nebulous sense of time also comes into play (I'm not including his speech differences here because it would be difficult to read):

E: Are we getting my sisters tomorrow?
M: No, hopefully around Christmas.
E: Next year?
M: No, Christmas is in a few months. When it gets cold, we'll be close to bringing your sisters home.
E: ...Friday?
M: No, maybe twelve Fridays from this Friday. Maybe fifteen.
E: Fifteen days!
M: No, hon, around Christmas. It's okay to be excited, but we have a while, okay?
E: ...Can we get my sisters tomorrow?
M: *deep breaths* No, honey. *changes topic*

02 September 2015

Fundraising Friday... jk Wednesday...

Sorry that it's been so quiet: Judah got sick (roseola; he's fine) and we had our homestudy update on Wednesday, so things have been a little crazy around here. Hopefully I can get back into the swing of things this week.

Here is our updated "thermometer":

It doesn't look exciting enough. Sorry.
Do you know what that means? We only need $1,501 to complete our matching gift! You guys. You guys! That's crazy.

So we're realistically to this point in our total adoption expenses:

74% of all we need to complete our adoption! That's amazing! I've been so overwhelmed at how faithful God and his people have been. It's incredible.

22 August 2015

Fundraising Friday

I started this post on Friday, so it counts... says I.

Here's a baby picture to make it up to you.


Drumroll please?

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat!
You guys. Seriously you guys.

Honestly, I've had a lot of trouble writing this post. Not for lack of encouragement, but because I feel so unworthy of such generosity. I know the resources of the world are at God's disposal, but he uses people -- people I admire so much, people I call dear friends, people I don't even know -- to support us. I keep wanting to add the disclaimer that I'm not a wonderful mom -- I'm an okay mom. I don't think I'm a bad mom. I will work hard to walk in the way of love with all our kids, I just mess up all the time. Please don't forget that as you're being so courageously generous to our family. That's all I ask.

Here's where we are in relation to our total financial needs (a reminder: the $20,000 won't get us to the end of our adoption; we just need it really fast, so other methods of fundraising wouldn't work).
That's 70% of our total adoption expenses, covered. *in awe*
There are things we can do to fundraise this beyond direct financial support -- we're still excited about the Chosen Marathon race, and we're teaming up with Stephen's brother, David, to come up with a sweet t-shirt to sell as a fundraiser. I'll have more specific news as we know it. Right now is pretty focused on finishing our homestudy and getting our dossier ready to go. Love to all, and just so many thanks.

19 August 2015

Wednesday Whaaat: Why the Rush?

So what's the rush on this adoption? Can we just slow it down if we don't raise the funds?

It's complicated.

There are a lot of things that come into play when you talk about timing in international adoption. The constraint for us personally is our USCIS approval. Ours will run out at the end of October. Which means that we need to submit our I600 by the end of October. Which means (I understand) we need to receive our court ruling from the judge in Uganda by this time. If we don't, we will need to refile our I600-A and get re-fingerprinted. Which, in itself, isn't the end of the world. But it takes time - at minimum two months. And the courts close for about a month around Christmastime. Which puts us at bringing our girls home in March at the earliest (and adds about $1,500 to the cost of our adoption, maybe more depending on what parts of our dossier we would need to redo).

And I don't want to wait that long to bring them home. And I don't want them in an orphanage (even a great one) for a day longer than they need to be, let alone several months. I want them to spend Christmas with us. I want 2015 to be the year we call them daughter and the year they become Muenichs. Can you blame me? We belong together.

18 August 2015

Happy Birthday, Judah!


Our precious little boy is one! He likes food (so much), Ezra, and sharing his feelings with us (laughter, tears, and angry growling). He's both photogenic and actually that gorgeous. Love you, little lion cub.

17 August 2015

Adoption Update (fundraising and process)

Sorry for no posts last week: we had our beginning-of-the-year leadership retreat, at which time most of the goals and plans for how we fill our time as campus staff are prayed over and made. Not too much got done adoption-wise, but it's basically our New Year's Eve for the whole church. We're pretty tired, tbh, but I'm so looking forward to all the changes coming this year family- and ministry-wise.

Some have asked how fundraising's going so far. Here's a thermometer to show you!
I know this is the coolest thing you've ever seen and you're so impressed with my skillz. I know.
I'm doing this according to the matching principle: every gift we've received has been doubled. I also know there are a couple of gifts missing because of the lag time as they process gifts. Still, just from this: we are 30% of the way there! That is awesome.

Our homestudy update home visit is set for August 26th. Our social worker and her bosses will be working very quickly to get us the copy we can send to the US Center for Immigration Services (USCIS). We have to update our approval (they've approved us for one child, and now we're adopting two). PLEASE be praying everything goes smoothly with our update and for a very quick turn-around with USCIS. More on that in a couple of days!

09 August 2015

Fundraising Friday / Supplication Sunday

First, the cute:
We got a new (to us) camera. Hi, Ezra!

Next, the crazy:
Because our adoption is now going so quickly, we will probably have the girls home with us by 6 months from now. SO EXCITING! But it means we need the rest of the funds for our adoption very quickly. The way the fee structure works means we will need the vast majority of the fees (agency costs, lawyer costs, etc) by the beginning of October.
And because we've had essentially two failed adoptions (one with the Congo and one with our other agency in Uganda that shut down), we've spent all the money we've raised (about $10,000 y'all!) and ~$14,000 of our own. If it makes you feel more positive, we've spent $13,000 of that in the past 2 months...Does that? It's so much that it's starting to feel like Monopoly money to me. We just don't deal with money in these amounts in our house.
So anyway, we still need ~$24,000 to complete our adoption. We need about $18,000 of that by the beginning of October.
I know it's a lot, Judah, but let's not have a tantrum about it.

Last, the exciting:
First off, we need that money in October because that's when we'll be making our first trip to see our girls and have our court date. So that's exciting, and that's what I'm focusing on as we figure out how to raise that much in basically 6 weeks' time.
Oh, these girls. Worth it. Worth it all.

We just received incredible news from a couple who loves our family: they are doing a matching gift, dollar for dollar, on all gifts we receive, up to ten thousand dollars!!! That means every $5 gift becomes $10, and every $1,000 gift becomes $2,000! You guys. How could we be so blessed?!?

I used to wonder why people would do matching pledge things, like why not just promise to give the whole sum? Until today. They're doing it to challenge others to give. When you think about $20,000, even a large gift like $500 feels like not very much, but the doubling effect makes everything feel bigger, more effective. And their generosity is an aid to me when I'm feeling overwhelmed. They believe that God can call people to help us bring these girls home so we can call them our daughters. So I will too.

Here is the place you can donate. In the "Gift Preference" box, select Adoption Funding. In the "Adoption Gift Preference" box, select Family Specific. Our account number is 3243. All gifts are tax-deductible and there is no administrative fee (beyond the fee the credit card companies take).

Also, would you consider sharing this post? And thanks for reading to the end. Tomorrow I will try to explain clearly why it will be problematic to slow down our adoption timeline. I'll need grace for it, because I don't think I've done that successfully yet. And I've tried. Several times.

05 August 2015

Wednesday WHAT.

OUR HOMESTUDY DOCUMENTS GOT SENT TO THE WRONG POST OFFICE.

You guys. You guys. I can't.

I should have known to just drive them to Waco. That sounds ridiculous, but they would have been there literally a week earlier. I could have gotten them to Waco faster by crab-walking to Waco with the packet on my stomach. I cannot, you guys.

The worst part? They were sent to a post office TWELVE MILES AWAY FROM THE AGENCY, then rerouted back to Fort Worth. Srsly, China Springs USPS, just call me and I WILL DRIVE UP AND HAND DELIVER IT LIKE A BABY. *drops mic*

04 August 2015

Tuesday Timecard

Filling out as I go! #adulting
[I say that because I've been doing a monthly timecard for my job for four years and I basically always do it all in one go. Usually late. Someday I'll #adult regularly.]

So, this week, we:
- called our city again to try and get our 5k approval
- finished our homestudy update documents and mailed it in!
- talked to some people about the Chosen Marathon
- started talking about a t-shirt fundraiser design
- started figuring out how to get a couple documents (our background checks) for our dossier
- got Judah's birth certificates back in the mail
- called the post office where our homestudy documents got sent instead of where they're supposed to have gone
- I tried to take deep breaths knowing that there are originals we can't get back in that packet that was supposed to arrive on Friday morning and STILL ISN'T AT OUR AGENCY YET WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY.
- got a good lesson in fundraising from my father in law [support raising for staff is really different. It's weird.]
- emailed some more questions about our dossier to our agency
- and probably other things because I didn't do a good job updating through the week. Oh well.

02 August 2015

Sunday Supplication

You might think this blog is mostly for me to shout my inner thoughts at the world. And yes, that's correct. I'm often worried (probably needlessly) that people will get a better opinion of me than is warranted, likely because I have a better opinion of me than is warranted. ;)

I don't know if I'll keep doing Sunday Supplications every Sunday, but I do think it could be beneficial to be specific in my prayer requests to those who may have a heart to pray for us. There are practical things we need, and there are spiritual things, and there are personal heart things.

For today, I'd love personal prayer for my anxiety. I've been really struggling with anxiety. I told Stephen it feels perfectly warranted from a human perspective -- taking care of our family takes a lot of most of my time and effort, and on top of that I have 14 different documents I need to obtain for our dossier, several of which I have to figure out how, all with differing lengths of time needed, and all needing to be obtained with as little lag as possible. And on top of that I need to raise $20,000.

So yes, I can get really stressed out. I've been having trouble sleeping. I've been having to physically calm myself down because I'm holding tension in all these parts of my body. It's helped that we have all of our homestudy documents complete [thank You, Lord], but we are now "broke" in our adoption account. We have some money set aside, but we need that to buy a vehicle that will hold all our kids. So I need to start raising funds, but I can only juggle so many things in this lil brain of mine without it taking a toll on my personal well-being. I can't do it on my own, but I've been trying.

I need to tune more into what God is saying, instead of just talking rapid-fire at him all the time. Oh my gosh, I AM MY FOUR YEAR OLD. Fine, God, there it is for everyone to see, my realization in real-time. LOL. You sneaky sneakster! Yes, I have been avoiding listening to God because this stage is so scary. I'm really, really scared we're going to lose the girls.

So yeah, lots of anxiety. Pray if you feel led, and thanks.

31 July 2015

Fundraising Friday

I realized I neglected to mention in my last fundraising post the expenses we've already incurred. I'll itemize it out when the thought of it doesn't make me feel so tired. Just know it's >$10,000.

Today I want to focus on one really fun way we're fundraising: The Chosen Marathon!


Chosen is a great organization that allows families to fundraise through their marathon, half-marathon, 5k, and even kids' fun run options. There are even "sleepwalker" and "virtual race" options for if you want to support but not race or if you can't make it down to New Braunfels that day. You send in your time in the month of November, and they send you your shirt, bib, and finisher's medal. #swag

This year's race is November 21st in New Braunfels, TX. The race is a Boston qualifier and USATF certified, so it's for serious runners as well as those who want to complete their first race. Plus the route is along the Guadalupe river, so it'll be pretty to look at when you get a muscle cramp have to stop to pee run flawlessly the whole race.


Another amazing thing is, when you register, you select our team, and then you can fundraise for our team if you want to. That way you can multiply your own gift by encouraging others to support you racing! If you're a team-kind-of-person, that might pump you up, but that's not for everyone. No biggie. But if you do like that sort of thing, GO CRAZY!

If you know someone who likes to run, lives near New Braunfels, and / or has a heart for adoption, they can sign up here: http://raceroster.com/events/2015/4188/chosen-marathon and choose Team Muenich Family! But hurryish because the prices go up after August 31st.

If you want to support my 5k race (what am I thinking? Running voluntarily? Who am I?), you can pledge here: https://raceroster.com/events/2015/4188/chosen-marathon/search-pledgees?q=Muenich

If we can rally around this race, we could raise $3,000!

30 July 2015

Wednesday Whaaaat?

My Wednesday Whaaat is dedicated to our doctor's office losing the documents we need. So I had to call our homestudy agency to get them, print them out again, put notary wording on them again, make copies again, write out instructions for our doctor again, put them in a packet again, and give them to the office. Again.

I was supposed to hit "schedule" for this and didn't. Here's my whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat for yesterday.

28 July 2015

Tuesday Timecard

I need to start writing these as I go, not all at the end. Maybe I'll remember it all?

This week, we:
- gave our doctor's office our paperwork AGAIN bc they lost it. #smh
- scheduled an appointment with an international doctor
- sent a few months' worth ($600) of orphanage care fees to the girls' home.
- Stephen finished reading the chapters of The Connected Child required by our homestudy update
- I finished reading the other articles required for our homestudy update
- made copies of our last two years' W2s (homestudy)
- printed out our pay stubs for the last 3 months (homestudy)
- bought yarn to begin the girls' blankets (separate post)

Okay, not TOO bad. I slowed myself down a little bit bc I've been having a lot of trouble falling asleep. I can't be running around doing things right until we get ready for bed.

All we're waiting on to schedule our homestudy update is our doctor's documents and our adoptive family questionnaire. Yay!

I've got to start some fundraisers, because we've officially run out of our non-allocated funds (as in our emergency fund and the money we're saving for buying a car that will fit four carseats. Sorry, lil Focus). More on that on Friday!

25 July 2015

Having Privilege my Daughters Won't

I confess, since we started planning to adopt from Africa almost 4 years ago, I've thought a lot about racism and white privilege in our country. Like A LOT. I think I alternate between trying to find appropriate methods of guiding my children through a reality I don't have to face, trying to figure out how I can fight this war so that my girls will be protected [#saviorcomplex], and obsessing over it in hopes that I will somehow learn enough to feel prepared.

I'm currently raising white sons. White, middle class boys. They and I have the good graces of the world, and I feel it. I feel the wash of approval every time I'm in public with them. People adore my boys. I like to think it's because holy cow they are so cute, but I know their (and my) whiteness really is a factor.

This pic is old, but it's also precious. Also also, they're so white they might be pink.

On Tuesday we were at the grocery store, and one of the store clerks came up & gave me an "instant winner" sticker she found from the game they have here. And it struck me: would she have given this to me if my kids were black? If I was a black mother? I really don't know, and that is one of the saddest things I've ever thought. Not because more horrible things haven't happened (it was a sticker for a game), but because that is a reality that never goes away for some. It may someday be my own daughters who face that.

I can't show you her face, but this is Star's midsection and her gorgeous, gorgeous skin.

I struggle not to rage at the thought. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE. It is. Raising white sons and black daughters is going to make me more angry than I've ever been. And it will tear my heart apart.

But.

I can prepare both my black daughters and my white sons to recognize, externalize, and appropriately combat racism. I invite you to do the same.

24 July 2015

Fundraising Friday

Oh Fundraising Friday, I HAVE NOT MISSED YOU.

Okay, taking deep breaths through this one, guys. It's always tough when I'm trying to get things rolling. I want to get a lot done and not completely freak myself out with how much money we need in the next 6 months. But. Sometimes it's good to write it all out. So here goes:

What's Left:
Agency fees: $11,485 (and 62 cents)
Immunizations: $350-500 (guesstimate based on previous shots, which aren't covered by our insurance)
Orphanage fees: $1,200
Passports for the boys: $220
1st trip flights: $1,800
1st trip food: $300?
1st trip lodging: $800
1st trip car: $500
2nd trip flights: $4,350
2nd trip food: $900?
2nd trip lodging: $1,800
2nd trip car: $500
Visa fees (our entry into Uganda and the girls' entry to the US): $970
US readoption: $1,200

Total Estimated Amount: $26,525

In 6 months is all. Does that number seem large to you? Some of it is because we're adopting two girls now. Extra agency fees, orphanage fees, visa fees, readoption fees, and I'm sure more. Still, #worthit

Might that number get larger? Oh yes. Nothing goes as quickly and for the amount you want. But we'll see. God's got this. I'll start sharing my ideas like little pebbles down a path, but mostly I'm just praying a lot (sometimes desperately and sometimes peacefully, tbh) that God would show us what to do and how to do it, and that He would bless our fundraising.

22 July 2015

Wednesday Whaaat?

I probably won't do this every Wednesday, but I thought this would be funny, mostly because it reminds me of this piece of preschool ridiculousness. FYI that may only be funny if you've already watched Rescue Bots. If you haven't, go about your merry way, having missed NOTHING. Anyway, hopefully laughing at this biz will help dispel some of the residual frustration.

There are so many ridiculous things about the process of adopting. Today I just want to highlight two.

The first is just that it's ridiculous that Texas Vital Statistics only allows you to buy 3 birth certificates at a time. So I had to buy 4 for Judah (at $22 each, YES FOR A PIECE OF PAPER). Which meant I had to do the verification process and then the ordering process twice. So dumb.

The second is that we need "national-level" (FBI) background clearances for our dossier. Which you can get. Except the FBI says it's illegal some states. Which states? I dunno. Nowhere was it clear. Not on the FBI site, Not on the Texas government site it linked to. Not on a Google search. NOWHERE. I spent an hour trying to figure out what I was supposed to do for Texas. No idea, and I think I'm not an internet doofus (though I'm sure all the internet doofi say that). Calling our homestudy agency to check because our actual agency is in Pennsylvania.

21 July 2015

Tuesday Timecard

Okay, Tuesday Timecards are for relaying information to you about what is happening on the ground (and by "on the ground," I mean in the car with my two small children being crazy and me being like we're going to the post office anyway just don't fall apart for 15 more minutes please).
It may also be for either accountability or encouragement, depending on if I'm putting things off or if there's so much to do that it seems like I'm not making progress (*coughcough* see below).

So, this past week, we:
-finished our adoption training courses (10 hours!) through Adoption Learning Partners (separate post on that)
-I finished the chapters of The Connected Child that are required for our homestudy (separate post singing glorious praises for Drs Purvis & Cross later)
-sent $4,000 to our adoption agency and had our adoption grant send another $4,000 because money is no longer a tangible thing to me
-made a list of everything we need for our homestudy and dossier
-ordered Stephen's new passport
-gave the medical forms to our doc to fill out & return to us
-called 4 different local government offices to try and get our 5k permit approved (it's not yet)
-absolutely badgered our agency for photos of the girls (and got them, athankyouverymuch)
-ordered birth certificates for Judah
-wrote out every grant we can apply for
-wrote out every fundraiser we've talked about
-taken deep, calming breaths and forced myself to relax

On a not-totally-adoption-centered-but-still-related note, we kicked our old couch to the curb and bought a gloriously inexpensive, perfectly small, slightly uncomfortable, used pleather couch / "futon" (no one will ever sleep on this futon give me a break manufacturers) that makes for much more space in our living area. We'll be getting rid of the other one and replacing it with either an ottoman or a bench bc no we don't care about comfort for guests, we care about floor space for the thousand four small children we'll have playing together soon.

Soon.

07 July 2015

Homestudy & Dossier Updates

Because we've been trying to adopt for so long, a lot of our documents have lapsed. We have to get new medicals done for all of us and redo our Hague adoption training. We've also moved, so we will have a home visit to our new apartment.

I'm also trying to compile our dossier so we can have it ready as soon after our homestudy update as possible. Dossiers to countries like Uganda are kind of annoying because, besides needing FOUR notarized copies of every document (alllllll the eyerolls over here), every agency has slightly different document needs.

So, I'm off to cull through the money I've spent documents I have to see what I can keep and what I'll need to buy again.

06 July 2015

So, What Now?

Let's get us all on the same page. Here's the plan:

-Update our homestudy
-Update and complete our dossier
-Get court date
-Travel (1st trip), visit girls, have court date, visit girls, visit girls!
-Get court approval
-Travel, bring the girls from the orphanage where we're staying, get their US visas
-Bring them home!!!!
-readopt in US

Okaaaaaay GO!

29 June 2015

Stars and Water

Those are the names I will call our daughters until I can show you their names and faces. Stars and Water. They live in Uganda, that country I just can't shake, no matter what. I can't tell you much about them but that they are related and between our sons' ages (so yes, we'll have 4 kids 3.5 years apart. It's gonna be a lot of fun and quite a bit of work).

I'd love to say I'm cautiously optimistic, but I'm not. I'm vacillating between wildly excited and terrified. So much needs to happen in so little time and SO MANY THINGS can go wrong. When I told my mom we had accepted their referral, she said, "Finally! Aren't you relieved?" and I said NO! I'll be relieved when we touch down in Houston with them in our arms.

Until then, until then feels like the gantlet. I hope I won't, but I may struggle with anxiety until then. I catch myself begging God, as if He likes to withhold good things from me, or keep children out of families.

If you'd like to pray for us, I'd love some prayer for more faith, more hope. If everything goes well, we could bring them home by Christmas. But 50 different things could go wrong, delaying or destroying our adoption plans. Please pray everything about our adoption would go according to his plans -- that nothing from the enemy can stand in the way. That we'll raise the funds. That paperwork will work for us and not against us. That the judges and officials will be favorable to us. That we will celebrate Christmas as a family of six.

25 June 2015

Sad News

I've actually known this "news" for at least six weeks, and most of you may already know this, but we are not actually eligible to adopt from China. We will not meet their net worth requirements. This was missed during our paperwork because we were deciding on whether to sell the house at the same time that we were deciding to adopt.

China requires a net worth of $80,000. We don't come close.

It was a hard blow to my heart. I had a lot of hope that, through adopting from China, we would be able to cross our t's and dot our i's and end up with a daughter on the other side of time & paperwork. I hoped to bring home that sweet little Treasure. I have cried and prayed and finally felt peace that, like the precious girl we weren't supposed to adopt last fall, we aren't able to because God has a different family marked out for her. I am honored to share a teeny piece of God's heart by loving these kiddos and praying for what's best for them, not just what I want.

We are proceeding in a different direction that I hope to be able to tell you all about soon. This is our last "go" of adopting, so I'm praying and preaching hope to myself that the past three and a half years of struggle has been leading up to this situation. To our beautiful, precious little daughters. #spoileralert

23 March 2015

Romans 5 and Suffering

I was thinking the other day about how Judah is now older than Ezra was when the need for families to adopt orphans burst onto my horizon & into my heart. It's been three and a half years since I first longed to add to our family a child who didn't have one. In a month, it will be three & a half years since I got Stephen on board with the logic of the two-birds-one-stone approach: we want more kids; kids deserve families; instead of making another child to increase our family, we can adopt one. [I have my brilliant moments.]

That isn't a long time in light of eternity, but it has been a long time in my heart. We have lost a referral due to the sins of her country's governors (I'll love you forever, little H). We have declined a referral in obedience to God (I pray for you often, precious girl, and for your family). There have been months where I have felt my heart was put in a meat grinder - pulpy, hemorrhaging. There have been months I have been so angry at God I could barely speak to him, and yet there was the hard (at the time) truth that He alone has the words of life. There have been times I thought I was seeing the light at the end of this long, dark tunnel, only to have it be a match, blown out in my face.

I reiterate those thing because I can understand why it would seem super emo/dramatic to talk about my suffering. Ugh, I even want to put it in quotes, but I'm not going to. I have suffered through this process. There has been an abundance of pain, loss, confusion, and the peculiar pain of waiting, just waiting and waiting with no assurance of its stopping.

It is hard to fathom that there is every reason to believe we will be done with this adoption in a year.

That our daughter will be home with us. That we will be knitting ourselves together as a family.

So it was sweet when I read Romans 5 again, with its well-known "suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." I know I've suffered because I do have more perseverance, character, and hope. And I know I won't be disappointed. When I see Jesus face to face, I will thank him for this process, because it has made me more like him, and that is what I want more than anything. More even than bringing our daughter home, I want to BE Jesus, be just like him.




21 March 2015

Important Adoption Update

Again, again, sorry for the quiet. I've been waiting for like six weeks for news to share. It's not the news I personally want, but I have accepted it as God's best for me and am hopeful.

In January, I clicked on the picture of a waiting child, a little Treasure, and felt hope for our adoption spring to life within me. I approached Stephen and we took some time before deciding to ask for more information. When we got it, we took some time to pray over whether we should adopt her or not. Then we submitted a document detailing how we would care for her special need (she is blind in both eyes). I went to doctors; I spoke with our regional and state visual impairment specialists. I spent quite a few hours thinking over and planning first steps for us to accommodate this treasure. So we hear back last week that we have no way of knowing if we can adopt her until Stephen turns 30 at the end of July.

You see, she's in China, this precious little spark, and China requires both parents to be 30 years old before they will allow a child to be referred to the couple. And our agency only has her file until April 30th, after which her file will go back into the shared files of China's Special Focus program.

We had 3 options, essentially: wait until Stephen turns 30 and see if she's still available, then begin our adoption again; decide that the timing was wrong and suspend our adoption again; or begin our adoption again in the hopes that she still will be available in July.

I can tell that the trial of our adoption is bearing fruit in that Stephen and I both agreed to continue this process of adopting from China, knowing that we may have a very disappointing July-August. I trust that, if she's supposed to be our daughter, God will allow us to adopt her. And if she isn't, that means she will have been adopted already, which is a big praise, because kiddos with visual impairment don't often get adopted.

And if she isn't supposed to be our daughter, God will bring our daughter to us, and I will look back and bless this long, painful process for the joy added to our family. Still, I'm holding onto hope that we'll bring this little treasure home around Christmas.

28 January 2015

Adoption Update? Embryo Adoption Awareness

About a week ago I posted a Facebook update asking for prayer about making a decision concerning our adoption. We were seriously considering adopting embryos.

Was there a record scratch or a say whaaa in your brain just now? Embryo adoption is totally a thing. There are many, many families who have frozen embryos left over from cycles of IVF that they are unwilling/unable to add to their families. These embryos can be donated to science (where they will die), disposed of (where they will die), or donated/adopted by another family (where they have a chance to be born).

The idea of giving birth to your adopted child is beautiful, and giving life to these lil snowflakes is sweet and precious. And I really wanted another baby. So we were seriously considering it.

Notice I'm using the past tense. I realized over the weekend that, while I think adopting embryos is wonderful and important, I just don't have a conviction that it's what we should do for this adoption. I think I was considering it so seriously was a result of not having much hope that we could adopt internationally. Also known as not a great reason to bring a child into our family.

We are seriously considering adopting a little girl with a special need from China (why China? Well this is pretty much the earliest we could adopt from China, since Stephen turns 30 in July). Please be praying with us that God would give us clarity in our decision.

Want to know more about embryo adoption? Click here! This was not in any way sponsored or something. I just think it's a great thing.

02 January 2015

When God doesn't bless your godly decisions

Happy New Year!

Our Christmas break has felt quite full, but a pretty good kind of full - family, preparations to eventually sell our house, and lots of processing for both Stephen and me.

I have been mulling over the title up there for the past week, after a prayer prayed by a family member for another family member. My sister-in-law and brother-in-law-in-law are in the process of becoming licensed foster-to-adopt parents, and received an unexpected bonus that will cover the rest of the costs for their preparations. The family member thanked God for blessing them because their desires are godly.

And it's true, and I'm so glad for them. There's no denying that their hearts are turned toward the fatherless, and they are preparing to love and parent a child (or children) who has undergone trauma and who needs a safe place. It is godly, and God, I'm certain, is pleased with them.

But the lump in my throat wonders about us. Are my desires to adopt not from a godly place? Am I just not ready in some way? in many ways? Do I lack a quality that will make me a good adoptive parent? Is God frustrating our adoption plans because He knows we wouldn't be a safe place for a hurt child?

Before you (well some of you) rush to the comments to leave sweet remarks, it is definitely possible that I am not ready. That it is me that's the hold up in this situation. And I'm trying to be okay with whatever the reason is, even though it really hurts a part of me to see others get to do what I really want to do but have not been allowed to yet. I feel left out, yes, but also a little less than. Maybe a little exposed? Afraid others see me as a phony, and afraid maybe I am a phony and don't realize it. Id God not honoring my desires because they aren't godly? How would I know?

Those are the things I'm pondering, bringing to the Lord, and hoping for answers at some unforeseen point in the road.

Now that it's 2015, and I feel fairly assured in my spirit that I won't get to adopt this year either, I'm trusting God that it can still be a really good year. I have at least enough faith to believe I will look back one year from now and see his goodness pursuing me the whole time.