Friday, November 28, 2014

Resource Review: The Advent Jesse Tree

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

My Story

In our home we have five children, ages six and under. Go ahead laugh, we do. God certainly has a sense of humor and we wouldn't have it any other way.

When my husband and I went through premarital counseling a decade ago we spoke about what we wanted our family to look like. I promise you this is NOT what we envisioned and dreamed about.  We knew we wanted biological children and then one day when our children were older we would adopt.

However, God had other plans.

After trying to become pregnant for ten months I was at my breaking point. People around us were getting pregnant with babies they hadn't planned for, babies they didn't desire.  And here we were starting fertility medications and listening to empty promises from our doctor. I had been faithfully praying, studying His Word and seeking counsel.  I truly felt with every fiber of my being that He had given me the desire to become a mother. So why wasn't it happening?

In the midst of our struggle I decided to stop asking God to give us the desires of our heart but instead to take the desire. I didn't want it, it was painful and it wasn't necessary to happiness.  There were plenty of people who lived amazing lives without becoming a mother, right??  Please know, it was never easy to ask Him to take the desire away but it was all my hard and weary heart could muster. I was tired of asking, begging, pleading and desiring something that just was not happening.

During a Bible Study my mentor challenged our idea of what a "family" was. Dumbfounded I had asked her what she meant.  And she simply replied, "I think you and Aaron would be wonderful foster parents."

After a short discussion with my husband and some time in prayer we came upon a few conclusions.
We were blessed, we had budgeted from the beginning of our marriage for me to be a stay at home mom. So why not.
We were blessed, we had just moved into the house my husband grew up in. A five bedroom, two bathroom farm house with a lot of land.  So why not.
We were blessed, we had the desire in both of our hearts to become parents. How that happened did not matter to us. So why not.
We did NOT go into this with the intention to adopt, we would continue our fertility treatments. Our goal was the same, we wanted to have biological children but UNTIL then we could be parents to children who needed some.  We were on the same page.  So why not.
Lastly, we fell in love serving together. While dating, we went on a missions trip and literally fell in love serving orphans in the Dominican Republic.  Serving together has always drawn us closer to Him and closer to one another.
THIS WOULD BE OUR SHARED CALLING. So why not.  Let's do this!

Within ten months we had our first case and it became clear very quickly that they needed us.
They needed all we had to give, their case was complex, they had faced MANY forms of abuse.  So we quit trying to become pregnant and we dug deep.

Five months into our journey we found out we were not only pregnant but we were 13 weeks pregnant.  Our foster placement was moved to another home about a month after that. They were moved to a home with a more mature foster mom, who had experience with their form of trauma and could advocate for them better.  We were thankful for the transfer because we literally had nothing left to give. Yet we also felt defeated because we did not see their case through to the end.  This was NOT what I had envisioned when we set out to do foster care.

Do you see a pattern here.

It has been seven years and I am still haunted by my "failure." But God makes beauty from the ashes.
He allowed us to know of their "end." Those kids needed to move in order to meet the forever family who had been praying for them and who had EXACTLY the right knowledge to advocate for their special needs.
Even in the gift of knowing their happy ending my failure made me timid. I wanted to hide in our big farm house with our perfect baby and pretend we were not foster parents anymore. We enjoyed parenthood so much and despite our past trouble to conceive we quickly became pregnant again with our second son. I was blissful and happy.  The Lord brought us respite cases that we were happy to do, yet we decided we would not do a long term case for awhile. We would enjoy our babies. We screened phone calls and often never returned messages for cases they thought we would be interested in.
I didn't like failing and I was THRILLED with our little family.  I did not want to complicate that.

However the social workers kept calling and leaving messages about one case in particular.
Long story short, we picked up a newborn baby girl from the hospital who would be in care for
"a month...tops."  Our first son was thirteen months old and I was just into my second trimester with our second.
This would be amazing. A snugly newborn, I was feeling great, we could love her and then hand her off with plenty of time before our baby arrived. However things did not go as I had envisioned.

Days prior to the arrival of our second son we signed intent to adopt papers for our little ballerina.
When he was born we now had a twenty month old, a six month old and a newborn. We were buying
diapers in three sizes and wipes by the case. We were exhausted but we were fulfilled.
Our daughters adoption brought a renewed sense of what redemption means.

We never intended to adopt when we became foster parents. We didn't take our daughter in hoping her case would go to termination. We never wanted a family to be broken apart for our selfish desires. Yet there were reasons that her birth mom could not parent, we watched as God worked in our hearts and in our marriage. He was patient when we were not. He protected her and provided for her. He spoke directly to my heart and asked me to fall in love with her for forever. He redeemed this little girls story in ways I wish I could shout from the rooftops. One day maybe she will share, we have been very open and honest with her about her adoption journey.  She knows she was formed in His image with a purpose in mind. We are blessed to be the ones who get to encourage her
to hold strong to His promises and fulfill her calling.  She is my daily reminder of how sweet redemption is. My very ugly sin is transformed by the blood of Christ, just as her life story was.

Just when we thought the Lord had fulfilled His promises to us He gave us a sweet SUPRISE. This very tired mama had just begun to celebrate the fact we only had two kiddos in diapers and I started to not feel well.
(Go ahead insert chuckle.)
The Lord blessed us with our third son. I guess the Lord did a work in our lives because hiding
"in our big farmhouse" soon became a thing of the past. When you have four small children you start to wonder if having one more would really be that much more work. So WE started calling our foster care agency begging to serve once again. Thus our fifth child (who has been with us a year).

We get plenty of comments and stares but I know that fostering has blessed us more than we could bless any of the children coming into our home. Selfishly we continue to foster as a way to not only serve with one another as husband and wife but to serve as a family. I will be forever thankful to Him for giving me the desire of my heart in ways that I never dreamed were possible.

Friday, November 21, 2014

My Story

Adoption is a bridge between God and man. It is a beautiful story of redemption, bought by pain and loss, paid for by our children.

When we entered the world of adoption ten years ago, all we knew was that we felt called that we had a daughter in China. The adoption world was different then. It was growing daily and there seemed to be such camaraderie between adoptive parents and the sweet blessings of seeing families created.

We were already happy with the biological family we had. In fact, we married and had children so young that we were still in our thirties when both of them were finished with high school. We always joked when they were growing up that we’d have time to travel and “do what we wanted” while we were still young.

God had other plans.
We had a daughter in China.
His ways are always perfect.

The immense joy and blessings of being “older” parents this time are incredible. What an insufficient way to describe our journey these last ten years, but there are not adequate words. How do you explain how incredibly deeply you love any of your children? You can’t.
But love gained by pain and loss of your child is raw. Respecting them as a person with a life before you, with a loss they feel in their soul, knowing they were cheated by what most of us take for granted is delicate.

Even something as simple as guessing a birth date is a bridge between two cultures, two halves of a beautiful life created by a loving God, a beautiful soul we have the privilege of knowing and loving. Her very existence with us bonds important pieces of her past, present, and future. As we raise her to be aware of her birth country, embrace it, and do the same with the country which is now hers, we teach her to embrace and love herself. She is special, she is beautiful; inside and out.

The first time we adopted, we knew for certain God was calling us to come for our daughter. We both had visions of God telling us she was there. Everything lined up perfectly, even the huge responsibility of financing an international adoption. God took care of every detail.
Now we feel that He is possibly calling us again.

The biggest step of obedience I’ve taken in my life is adoption. The hardest part of obeying this time is that I’m not positive of what God is trying to tell me. It was so easy the first time, but like each pregnancy and each child is unique, this possible new adoption is writing its own story.

Adoption is, indeed, a bridge between God and man. It is a beautiful story of redemption, bought by pain and loss, paid for by our children, but also paid for by the Lord.
He purchased the hurt and pain suffered. He knows the stories and backgrounds. He knows the plans He has for them and for us as He interweaves our life journeys into a design only He can conceive.

So, what is He telling us this time?

The adoption world is so different. I wrote earlier how much I love being an older mother, but I don’t desire being an ancient mother. The route I took before is long closed for us. Even if age wasn’t a factor, we are not called to bring home a baby after an excruciatingly long wait.
This time our hearts are called to a little girl who has been in the orphanage for almost all of her eight years and she has a health condition that will require careful attention and surgery 
when she goes to her forever family.

This can be scary stuff if I look inside myself, but that isn’t what God calls us to do. He asks us to keep our minds and hearts, our eyes focused above on Him alone.
What is His plan? What is His plan for this precious little one? What is His plan for our family?

Of course, our prayer is for discernment to understand God’s will so that we will make the decision that is right for our family.

My daughter from China, now ten years old, gave the most heartfelt plea for considering adoption when she said, “Only a sister from China would know and understand the secrets of my heart without me telling her because we have the same beginning from the same place.”

Her insightful, powerful words attack my heart, yet rest peacefully because she was able to speak of loss, joy, and hope in one statement. 

Those words may be a bridge from God to a little girl halfway around the world. Or are they a bridge to a mother who recognizes the trust it took her daughter to share her heart?

I’ll be on my knees waiting for the answer.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

When God Speaks...

 Sometimes being a mom is really hard…like really, really hard.
And naturally, as if being a mom isn’t challenging enough already, we might as well add to the pile a full-time job, a house that needs cleaned, bills that need to be paid, meals to be made, and the never ending to-do list that has to eventually be done at some point.
As a mom, it seems like there are literally not enough minutes and seconds to breathe, let alone even accomplish all that we need to get done in a day. There is always something new that needs to be addressed or completed. Not to mention, there are those days when your schedule is maxed to the limit and the baby throws up on you while you are heading out the door. My poor husband and I got to experience how fast that changes your plans just last week. (Phew, it was sure a nasty day killer!)
As a new mom, I often become overwhelmed and I find myself questioning if I am doing anything right. To make it even more complicated, there are so many articles and opinions out there that are telling you that a parent needs to do this or that for their child. One book may say that a baby needs to be read three books a day to foster language development, while a close friend tells you to be sure to swaddle the baby during bedtime. Then, once you figure out those articles or opinions, new ones arrive and contradict all that you thought you were finally doing right!
 Yet, despite all those tough days and questioning, we somehow, someway move forward.  We somehow, someway get things done, and we somehow, someway survive the day…only to get up and do the exact same thing the very next day.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I look at all that needs my attention and I feel like I could just cry. If I am honest, some days I do just that. I just get so tired, and I feel so little against everything that I am supposed to accomplish. Especially, when all I want to do is snuggle my sweet baby. Yet, even something as some simple as that seems like a luxury amidst all the responsibilities that come along with being a parent.
During a particular bad week, I found myself looking in the mirror as I was getting ready to take on another day at work. I was going through the morning motions, still very much asleep when a deep thought just hit me…  “I cannot do this another day. I am not enough.”
As quick as that thought came into my head, I heard a voice, and it was clear as day. “I know you aren’t. But, I am.”
Up until this day, I have never heard the voice of God. But on that day, in that particular moment of utter exhaustion, I heard Him, and He heard me. He used his simple words to calm the weakness within my heart, and He graciously reminded me that I am never alone.
 I know that I, alone, am not enough. I, alone, cannot accomplish all that will come my way in my life. I, alone, cannot be the type of mother that my daughter needs and deserves.  But God is enough. God will always be enough.  And through Him, I can be just that. Through Him, I am enough. Through Him, WE ALL ARE ENOUGH.

Friday, November 14, 2014

My Story

How did your parents tell you that you were adopted?  There has never been a day that I didn’t know.  It was always an open topic of discussion.  I knew that my older brother and younger sister were my parent’s biological children and the two of them rarely let me forget that as we were growing up.  I remember once “running away” to our neighbor’s backyard after hurtful things had been said during breakfast. 

My biological mother was seventeen years old when she placed me for private adoption.  She was living in a home with domestic violence and alcoholism.  She had grown up with this her entire life.  Her pregnancy was an accident that her father refused to acknowledge.  My mother left her Catholic School and moved to a program for unwed, teen mothers in the public school system.  During this time, her family doctor referred her to an attorney to place me for adoption.  She told the attorney that she valued education and did not want her baby to grow up in the same environment that she had for sixteen years.  On May 22, 1972, she delivered me after being sedated and was never allowed to hold me.  The closest she ever got was through the windows of the nursery.

My adoptive parents also valued education.  My mother had been a high school English teacher and my father was a professor at the local university.  They had one child at the time, but had been told that going through an agency, they would always be at the bottom of “the list” behind other families that did not have any children.  At that point, they pursued private adoption through a friend who was family law attorney.  My brother was 4 ½ when I came home and my sister was born sixteen months later.  Not bad for a family that had been told that they most likely not be able to conceive due to medical conditions.

Growing up, I did not have any friends who were adopted and had a fantasy about what my biological family was like.  Sometimes the fantasy was good and sometimes the fantasy was not so good.  Not knowing was hard.  My parents assured me that my biological mother loved me very much and would give me bits and pieces of information as I grew older.  When I was fifteen years old, I lost my father to a car/pedestrian accident and this led to me feeling more lost as to who I truly was.  As I grew into adulthood, my mother gave me letters that she and my grandmother had written before my arrival that gave me more information.  I finally decided that I needed to begin a search to find my biological family and my mother supported me in this need.

Through requesting information, using the information that I already had, and the grace of God, I managed to locate my biological mother in 2010.  She was still living in the same city where I was born, married, had another child, and divorced.  We have had contact ever since.  The day we met, she hugged me and told me that it was the first time she had ever held me.  We both cried and talked like we had known each other forever.  It was very natural.

Adoption has deeply impacted my life.  It has made me who I am and what I value.  I have married a man who is also adopted.  We have had a biological child and a child adopted from foster care.  I have become a strong advocate for children who come from trauma and for children who are adopted or are in foster care.  We each have very different stories, as adoption can take so very many twists and turns, but we have each turned out to be better off for being adopted.  I often think about how very different my life would be if it were not for the world of adoption.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Confessions of a Waiting Mommy: What TO say to Waiting Families

If you’re anything like me, you love reading those articles that tell you everything NOT to say to adoptive families. Things like…
“How much did they cost?”
“But why don’t you want kids of your own?”
“You know they’re going to end up having a ton of issues, right?”

We haven’t even been matched to a child yet but we’ve heard quite the list of memorable things. We’ve experienced people asking out of pure curiosity and a desire to know more about our journey (you’re sweet, you can stay) to people asking out of sheer disapproval and a desire to make us change our minds (you’re rude, get out of here). Whatever the case may be, adoption is a foreign concept to many people and it’s our job as adoptive families to inform the world of not only what NOT to say, but also what TO say and do through these journeys.

I’ve compiled a list of a few things that people in our circle have done and said that have absolutely blessed us more than words can say as we have been in the waiting stage. Our people are A.MAZ.ING. I can’t say it enough. From our neighbors to family members to bank tellers to friends to church family to random strangers who hear about what God has called us to, we are blessed. It takes a village and our village is simply the best.

1. Tell them you’re praying for them.
It may sound cliché, but its true. When people tell us they are asking for the Lord’s guidance and protection for us and for our child, it means the world. There is NO greater thing you can do for an adoptive family than to pray for them.  
Our friends have been so creative with this. Some families have told us they pray for us on their daily walks as they pass by our house. Others have told us they pray for us during church when my husband leads worship. When we shared that we had moved up to 11th on the waiting list, someone told us they will be praying for us every day at 11:00.

2. Celebrate small victories with them.
Moving up one spot on an unending waiting list may not seem like much to you, but to an adoptive family awaiting that ever so important phone call, it’s basically like winning a million dollars. I remember when we FINALLY (as in waiting-for-this-piece-of-paper-for-four-months kind of FINALLY) got my husband’s birth certificate. Our people went insane. You would have thought we had just won the Boston Marathon as excited as they were. It was incredible.

3. Get your kids involved.
One of my absolute favorite moments from our journey so far has been when I found a random assortment of candy, beads, and hand-picked flowers on our front porch with a note written in the cutest 5-year old handwriting I’ve ever seen from our “secret nebers” saying how excited they were about our adoption. “Will it be a boy or a gal? I can’t wait until it happense.” Our neighbors share our journey with their kids, telling them about their new friend that will soon be arriving. What an incredible blessing to know our child already has friends that are SO excited to run around the cul-de-sac with, get dirty with, and do life with!

4. Surprise them with fun things during the waiting period.
A few months ago, my friends planned a surprise get-together for me as an encouragement in our waiting. OH MY WORD. It could not have been more perfect. We went to a pottery-painting place and all the girls painted things for our child’s room! There were cupcakes, coffee, and beautiful company. They all wrote notes and placed them in a jar for me to read when I needed to be reminded of God’s faithfulness, and spent time praying for us and our child at the end of the night. It was such a random gesture that I spent the first few minutes of it completely shocked and trying to figure out what on earth we were even celebrating. I honestly thought we had walked into someone else’s surprise party until I realized I knew everyone in the room. It was so perfectly unexpected and meant the world to me.

5. Let them cry.
Sometimes I cry because the thought of the loss and tragedy our child will experience before even learning to read is unbearable to me. Sometimes I cry because I miss our child whom I’ve never seen so much that it hurts. Sometimes I cry for their birth mother, because for one reason or another she will not see them start Kindergarten, or wear a cap and gown, or marry the love of their life, or raise a child of their own. For whatever reason it is, I do a lot of crying. As beautiful as adoption is, it comes as a result of something horrific, and it’s ok to mourn that. In fact, it’s healthy. I am so thankful for the friends who don’t feel awkward when I sob over the phone, the adoptive moms I see at church who let me cry in their arms in the middle of the lobby on a Sunday morning, and our family members who understand firsthand the joy and the tragedy of raising someone else’s baby.

The waiting period hasn’t been the easiest, but these beautiful gestures from our friends have been such an encouragement. We are reminded by their words and actions everyday that God has called us to something that he promises to bring to fruition, and for them we are forever grateful.

Friday, November 7, 2014

A Minute With Nikki - Thoughts About National Adoption Month

It’s November! Perhaps my favorite month of the year. The weather is always cooler, the leaves are changing, we begin to get ready for the holidays and, my most favorite of all the awareness months, November is National Adoption Month. The Facebook posts and graphics are abundant. People are coming out in droves to speak about adoption through Orphan Sunday services, adoption awareness events, information meetings for specific adoption agencies and urging us all to be fervent in prayer for the 153 million orphans worldwide. I’ve blocked the afternoon of November 21st off to be at Jackson County Family Court in Kansas City, Missouri, with 500 of my closest friends (in a waiting area where I’m certain fire code is set at 150 people). We’ll all share in a community adoption celebration, a group adoption of foster children into their forever families, and countless private adoption finalizations, scheduled every 10 minutes with every judge and commissioner in the country. November is the one month a year that all who have a heart for adoption come together in fellowship and prayer. It truly is a wonderful time of the year.

In light of this excitement, an adoptive mom and adoption social worker can’t help but think about what she is doing to help the orphan movement. I mean, really doing to help. I find myself asking when it’s time to adopt again. Or, moreover, IF it will ever be time to adopt again. Conventional wisdom states that everyone wants to have more than one child, right? Specifically in my family where the situation is such that we have an only child (who, by the way, is on the precipice on teenagedom.) And what could be better than a sibling who can share the unique and miraculous experience of being adopted? 

But at this time financially and emotionally probably a second adoption is not on the table for us. Life is happening. I work two entirely different career jobs and have a husband who owns his own business. We’re both working a lot and trying to keep ourselves, and more importantly, our daughter’s heads above water. Another $33,000 adoption – whether fundraised or not – isn’t in the cards.

So we talk about options. And I may have to accept the fact that my dream family isn’t going to look like what I thought it would. Me, the one who at age 8 had a collection of Cabbage Patch dolls (not one of which was Caucasian) and had a plan for what her future family was going to look like. And, let me tell you, it comprised of more than one adopted child.  Maybe my “perfect” family isn’t going to be the definition of what I thought it would look like.  I suspect that’s the case with many of you as well.

But the one thing that comforts me this November 2014 is my ever deepening of the understanding of what it means to be committed to the orphan movement. Now, more than ever, we must see that it is the collective responsibility of society to do something for the orphans. There are so many ways to make a difference this November (and every day from here on). Pray, help fund someone else’s adoption, take a mission trip, help out at a fundraiser, and even perhaps adopt a child of your own. Whatever your passion, just do something. I implore you all - own a role in doing something for the orphan population.

Do I want to adopt 6 kids from 6 different countries? You bet! Is that going to happen? Probably not. But I am energized this November in accepting that there is a lot more I can do to make a difference. 

Nikki has been working as an adoption social worker for the past 10 years.  The consummate single gal was married in 2012 and started an adoption process to adopt a 10-year-old with special needs from China soon after.  Nikki loves writing home studies in the Western Missouri area and preparing families for the realities of adoption. - See more at:

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Just Say Yes

Sometimes God asks you to do things that make sense. His requests fit in with the happenings of your life. They seem like a natural progression with the season you are in. They are not necessarily hard and can be seen as the next step. And then sometimes God asks you to do things that make you wonder if you are even really hearing from Him at all. Requests so big and crazy that they are seemingly impossible. These requests would turn your life upside down, change the direction of where you are going and in all honesty, might not make any sense to any logical person. This is the story of one such request.

My husband, Mike, and I had talked about adoption before we even got married. We met just before I took a mission trip to Romania to help in orphanages and minister to street children so from the get go, adoption and orphan care was on the table. It was a topic that came up throughout our marriage as we watched friends adopt and started having children of our own. After giving birth to three beautiful daughters, we had a sense that we were done having children "the old fashioned way" (And low and behold, a few months after having our youngest daughter we were told I needed surgery to correct some post pardum issues and that the surgery would prevent us from having more children). We knew that this was a nudge from The Lord, preparing our hearts and home for adoption.

In 2011, through a series of circumstances, we began to talk seriously about growing our family through adoption and in May of 2013 we were able to bring our daughter, Bridget, home from Uganda. God did amazing and beautiful things to bring her home. His fingerprints were all over her adoption and at every step He was there. We did the usual fundraisers, adoption blog, tshirt sales and grant applications. God blessed all of that and by his grace we were able to bring her home. The process in Uganda, while having some bumps, was fairly "easy" (as far as Ugandan adoptions go) and we were home after 5 weeks in country.

Here, God asked us to do something we had been anticipating for years. We wanted more kids, had a heart for adoption, and felt the timing was right. He opened up doors and we brought our daughter home. It seemed like a natural progression for our family. It made sense. We now we had four beautiful daughters and life would go on as usual. Or at least that is what we thought.

Something very unexpected happened to us while in Uganda. While there to adopt our daughter, we met our son. While in Uganda adopting Bridget we got to spend time at her orphanage. Our first visit there we met an eleven year old boy named Joram. He was sweet and curious. He asked my husband (a pastor) hundreds of questions about the bible. He quizzed me on all the families that I knew that had adopted from this orphanage, eager for updates about his friends. He shared his passion for music with us and his hopes of one day having a family. We played games with him and watched him play with the others. Within 15 minutes of meeting this boy, we had fallen in love.

That night my husband and I were in tears over our encounter with this young man. We were overwhelmed by the emotions we felt for a child we had just met. We were so moved that we emailed our social worker that night for more information. We knew there was nothing we could do right then and there, and so we began to pray. Once the initial emotional reaction wore off we then began to reason. We couldn't afford another adoption. Not so soon! We were still IN Uganda adopting Bridget for crying out loud! And it's not like we had the money. We had extended all our resources on Bridget's adoption. And contrary to popular belief, part time associate pastors of small town churches that also work part time as X-ray techs and stay at home moms that homeschool don't pull in a lot of money! (Weird, I know!). Not to mention the fact that at the time we had four daughters ages 4-8. Adopting an 11 year old boy made zero sense on the "oh, that makes sense" scale. So we decided we would be advocates for this boy and commit to finding him a family.

We came home with Bridget but we couldn't shake the idea that this boy was supposed to be our son. We went back and forth on what made sense and what we should do. We also looked at our finances (or lack there of) and wondered how we would even attempt to finance another adoption if we did move forward. I had gotten sick shortly after coming home with Bridget and we had medical bills. Both of our cars ended up needing costly repairs. Our daughters were all in the throws of transition (how could we do this to them again so soon?). It didn't make sense. It was financially impossible. Adding a boy to our girl-centric world didn't seem easy. But after several weeks in prayer (and having others pray with/for us) we felt that God was making the answer clear- that we were to move forward. There was no doubt in our minds that we needed to try- to step out and say "yes" and see what would happen. And what happened over the next 10 months was nothing short of a miracle.

We had to start all over. All our paperwork and background checks had expired and our homestudy needed updating. We had to pay new application fees, filing fees, get fingerprinted again- everything from square one. We discussed what fundraisers we should do again, but I hate fundraising! Anyone who has done fundraising knows how much time and effort it takes, and honestly, I just didn't have it in me to do it again! We are a homeschooling family and a lot of school was sacrificed during Bridget's adoption. Time spent organizing fundraisers, filling out applications, doing this, doing that (not to mention the time spent prepping for travel and actual traveling). I just felt like I couldn't do that again. I really felt God telling me "no fundraising". I knew I needed to focus on my girls and the bonding and attachment process and getting back into a routine.

There was a great deal of guilt that came with not actively fundraising- how could I not be doing everything I could do for my son on the other side of the world?!?! But truth was, even if I did want to fundraise, there was no time. I had gotten really sick after coming home with Bridget and fought illness for nearly 10 months. A few months after retuning home, both my grandmothers entered hospice and those next two months were spent helping care for them, helping my aunt and my mom and trying to soak up as much time as I could with these extraordinary women. We started school and it was a doozy! Teaching Bridget English and figuring out how to school 4 kids was a full time job in itself! And then there was just one financial need after another. We would get some money saved up and then one of the cars would break, or the kids got sick, or medical bills came in. With our already "pay check to pay check" life, saving money for another adoption seemed impossible. And all the time, our boy was waiting for us in Uganda.

When we started with this adoption we knew it would be hard. But we also knew that if this was The Lord, if this was the path we were supposed to follow, that God would provide. And slowly, we started to see that provision. Friends started contacting me saying that they wanted to do fundraisers for us. One friends did photo sessions and donated all the proceeds, others hosted a dinner at their church, some posted on social media, others hosted garage sales. One friend even included our story in her Christmas cards. It was unreal. We were in a spot where we couldn't fundraise (and after doing so much fundraising for Bridget's adoption, I felt really bad for turning around and doing it again) yet the money was coming in. God was putting our son on other people's hearts and prompting them to action.

We did fill out grant applications, but knew they were a long shot (as they are far and few between and since we had gotten some for Bridget we didn't feel confident about being repeat recipients). We got our first batch of "rejection" letters and were discouraged. Grants had covered a large majority of our previous adoption, so without them we were unsure how we would meet our goals. We reapplied for one grant in specific and were hoping for the best. We were still SEVERAL thousand dollars away from our goal but very close to receiving our court date. I got a call early one February morning from LifeSong For Orphans telling us we had received a $5000 direct grant from one of their partner organizations. But more than that, this organization had also given us a $5,000 matching grant. In early March we were a featured family on the Give1Save1 blog and within that week we reached our matching grant goal. By early April, we were not only fully funded, but actually had extra to help cover expenses while we were gone. Looking back, I'm still not sure how it happened, but somehow, it did. The only explanation is God.

The day after Easter, one week shy of a year since we had last left for Uganda to get our daughter, we were on a plane to go get our son. We anticipated a similar experience as we had with Bridget, and after going back and forth we decided I would only stay 12 days and my husband would stay and finish out the process. It was hard on our daughters when we went to go get Bridget and we also had no long term child care for our girls this time (and unfortunately, a week before we left, my husbands grandmother died and my in-laws who were going to keep the kids had to go to Florida - it was a crazy time).

We hit a few bumps headed out of the gate. Our court date was cancelled twice, but thankfully I was able to do my part before I flew out. I said my goodbyes and figured it would be a few weeks before we were all reunited. I was wrong. Everything went downhill and fast. There were lots of complications. As each week went by, we began to feel the pressure. Not only of being separated, but also of my husband being away from work. He only had 3 weeks of paid vacation. We had 2-3 weeks of income saved up in anticipation of things going as long as they did last time. We figured we could stretch things to six weeks but six weeks came and past and we were still nowhere near the magical word every adopting parent wants to hear..."visa".

We went back and forth on what to do. Should Mike come home? Should I go back? But who would watch the girls? And with the cost of airline tickets, that would be a paycheck itself! So we decided to keep Mike there and wait it out. After ELEVEN weeks (9 of those unpaid) we got the news that our sons visa couldn't be approved at that time and that they would need to investigate further. We had no timeline on how long that would take, or what would happen. So, we made the hard decision to have my husband come home. As gracious as his work had been, he had to return to his job. And for some reason the mortgage company still wanted paid! (Ridiculous, right?) Thankfully, friends that were adopting in Uganda as well stepped up and volunteered to take care of our boy, so even though the situation was heartbreakingly hard, we knew he was in good hands.

Mike came home and 1 week later the girls and I headed out to an already committed to family wedding in Yosemite. While at the wedding we got an email from the embassy saying they had cleared things up and the visa was approved! So now, the "how" of getting me home and on a plane to Uganda came into play!!! My in-laws graciously offered to keep the girls in California and finish out the trip and I drove 1000 miles home in two days, packed my bags and flew back to Uganda the next day.

We came home one week later, just minutes before my 34th birthday.

We left in April and didn't get home with our son till the end of July. What we thought would take 5 weeks took 15. But let me tell you- we made it through. God provided. Those 9 weeks my husband didn't work? Every bill got paid. Every single bill. Friends came over and mowed our lawn. People from church bought us groceries. When I had to fly back to get our son, an old friend from high school emailed and said "we will buy your ticket there". Every need was met. Our money was stretched. What could have destroyed us financially, didn't. Don't get me wrong, we are still catching up and paying things off, but we didn't go completely under.

There is so much I could share... So many more stories of Gods provision in this adoption- but there simply isn't room! But let me end with this: So many times God asks us to do something and we reason our way out of it. I know finances is a reason a lot of families decide not to adopt. I get it! Who has $30,000+ just sitting around with nothing to do?!? But I am here to say, God doesn't need you to figure out the "how" of it all. He just wants your "yes". If you feel God is calling your family to adoption but feel you can't afford it, I want to encourage you to say "yes". Say "yes" to having your mind blown by His provision. Say "yes" to allowing others to answer the call to help the orphans. Say "yes "to growing in faith!

God has a history of asking people to do crazy things that make no sense! What kind of story would Noah's be if he said no to the ark? Or Joshua if he said no to walking around Jericho? The greatest stories of faith that we read about are when God asks people to do the craziest, most impossible things! I'm so glad we said yes! While our transition home has been hard (that is a whole other story...) I'm thankful for our story. When I'm discouraged and consumed with doubt, I can look at what God did this past summer and I'm reminded that it was not us that brought our son home, it was Him.