Prayer Requests

Last night, we were beyond blessed to have a small group of our church family surround us in prayer, feed us, and send us off with their blessings and support. It was beautiful, and it was exactly what we needed.

In preparation for our evening, I was asked to put together all of our prayer requests. What a daunting task! :) Nevertheless, I wanted to share our list so that the rest of our friends and family and supporters can cover us in prayer these last days as a family of four, over the next month of becoming a family of five, and even into the fall when we become a family of six. Here goes nothing!

  • Our relationship with the Lord: We recognize that our relationship with God is our life source. Without Him, we will surely fail. Pray that we remain close to Him, seeking Him, listening carefully to Him, and worshiping Him no matter what becomes of our circumstances.
  • Chris’s and my relationship: Pray for clear communication and lots of love and grace for one another as we enter into this new season of life and marriage and parenthood. Pray that we stay well connected and sensitive to one another.
  • Poppy and Bumblebee: These sweet girls don’t know what’s coming! :) Pray that we can continue to meet their needs well, all while making all of the necessary adjustments. Pray that they demonstrate resiliency and that Chris and I can read between the lines to help them through their sure-to-be big feelings! Pray that their relationship with one another would grow and be strong and that they would welcome Ladybug with open hearts and open arms.
  • Ladybug: This sweet little one fills my thoughts and my heart with all kinds of hopes and dreams and prayers. Pray that we are wise in her transition and that we love her effectively. Pray that the Lord would minister to her little heart and that she would know how deeply she is loved by Him and by us.
  • Our health: Pray for all of our health. This feels like a high-stakes trip! I am in my third trimester – there is much that I’d appreciate prayer for, for myself (aches and pains and energy and good sleep!) and for Gumdrop (mostly that baby would be safe and stay put!). Additionally, pray that we can adjust to Ladybug’s healthcare needs quickly and seamlessly.
  • Travel and paperwork process: Pray our bags make it to her country and then back to ours again when they’re supposed to. Pray that the airplanes do what they’re supposed to do when they’re supposed to do it. Pray for great seats and smooth trips (and understanding flight mates!) Pray that the paperwork process in country moves along as well as possible so that we are not delayed.
  • Extras: Pray for all of those extras that we know we can trust God with. You know, the “more than simply survival” stuff – taking advantage of the chance to see Ladybug’s country, make family memories, collect keepsakes, take photos, etc. Pray that we could have FUN and that, when our three girls look back on this time of life, that they would know how loved and cherished they each are and how JOYFUL life can be. Even if it’s also really hard and difficult.

I’m teary-eyed when I think of how God has used each of you in a special way to support us through this process. And, I know He and you all won’t leave us hanging now!

When we come home

This post is difficult for me to write because it forces me to articulate some difficult things about adoption. It necessitates vulnerability. If those around us don’t understand some core things about adoption and how the related issues can affect a child and a family, then our plan for homecoming won’t make much sense.

A key thing to remember is that all adoption is possible because a child has first suffered an incomprehensible loss. Yes, adoption is beautiful. Yes, God works powerfully through adoption – as a Christian I know this in my soul firsthand. There is so much – so very much – good that can and is born of adoption. But, as adoptive parents, we must never forget the loss and grief and previous hurts that our child has experienced.

I don’t want to come at this too heavy-handed. It’s true that we do not yet know what Ladybug will struggle with as it specifically relates to her coming adoption, but we as her parents need to be prepared for anything.

Additionally, when a baby is born, there are a lot of things that the baby’s parents do almost instinctively that work toward creating attachment between them and their new baby. Much of the time, birth parents do not go out of their way to foster excellent attachment, it’s just a God-designed by-product of how we parent our babies and young kiddos.

Because we have missed those early days and years with Ladybug, we will be focusing more intentionally on attachment: helping her to learn what “mommy” and “daddy” are, helping her to trust us, helping her to learn what it means to be a part of a family, helping her learn appropriate dependence (to later learn appropriate independence), and more.

All of this to say: we may make decisions or choose to parent in ways that are confusing to others or that others may disagree with. While we welcome respectful guidance and wisdom in our lives, we also want to let you know that we’ll be doing the best we can with the knowledge we have. This may include “babying” Ladybug, seeming to tolerate undesirable behaviors, or making a big deal out of something that doesn’t make a lot of sense to others.

Just remember that while our homecoming is the culmination of the adoption process that you all have lovingly followed us on, it is only the very beginning of a lifetime we have spent the last few years preparing for!

When We Come Home

1. We are super excited for all of our friends and family to meet our new daughter! She’s pretty fantastic, and we can’t wait to share! However, we need to keep her world as small as possible to give her a chance to adjust. Please don’t expect to meet Ladybug right away. If it’s days or weeks, or sadly even months longer to meet her than you had hoped, just know that we, too, wish it could be different.

If you stop by the house and we can’t invite you in or ask that you not stay too long, we’re sorry! We will probably try to avoid a lot of interaction at church or other places initially; I promise we’re not trying to be rude!

2. Please refrain from kissing or hugging Ladybug. Indiscriminate affection can sometimes be an issue for kiddos who have been adopted. We don’t anticipate this being a problem for Ladybug, but please stick to a “hello” and a smile, anyway.

3. This may sound silly, but please don’t feed Ladybug. Feeding and attachment go hand-in-hand: think of the breastfeeding baby and the touch, eye contact, met needs, and satisfaction that the mama and baby experience. So, Chris and I really need to be the only ones to feed Ladybug indefinitely.

4. Please don’t ignore us! I know it feels like I’m asking everyone to allow us to live in a cave, and while we do need some good quality family time, we want and NEED to have the support of our loved ones, too. We would love for you to call, text, or Facebook us; send us some fun mail; bring by a meal; offer to pick something up from the store, help with an errand, or help in some other super tangible way. We NEED your prayers! Celebrate with us!

Many adoptive families implement really structured time frames for a lot of these rules: they may commit to not leave the house for the first 6 weeks except for doctor’s appointments; or they may say no visitors for “x” amount of time; etc. In general, it is recommended to “cocoon”as a family for at least 1 month for every year a child received care outside of your family. For us, that would be at least 3 months. We’re staying away from firm boundaries for a few reasons – the greatest of which really probably has to do with Gumdrop’s impending arrival. For example, we will need my mama’s help with the girls during labor and delivery, so I can’t very well prevent her from meeting Ladybug for six weeks. So instead of imposing firm boundaries of time on ourselves, we’re going to listen to the Lord’s prodding and follow Ladybug’s lead with as much grace and wisdom as possible!

Thank you for caring enough about Ladybug, our family, and learning how best to support this transition by reading this post!

It’s go time

Court is scheduled. Flights are booked.

In a matter of just a few weeks, we will be on our way to Ladybug’s country for a final time as a family of four. We will return as a family of five!

The Lord has blessed us considerably, making a way where there first appeared to be none. Other little blessings spring forth: finances available to take Poppy and Bumblebee along, too; not even needing to miss one of my scheduled prenatal appointments for Gumdrop; more than a few days’ travel notice, and more. It makes the fact that we will leave only one week after her third birthday bearable. God knows why THIS specific timing is necessary, and we rejoice in His goodness!

We’ve known for almost a week and are furiously trying to implement all of the lists and plans that we’ve been building since we returned home the first time. Call this doctor. Buy this item. Prepare this piece. Send this email. Make this decision. All at the same time as swim lessons and Vacation Bible School and bedtimes and visits from family and washing the dishes. Anyone who knows me well knows that my perfectionism can tend to get the better of me, and I’m trying hard to not stress too much. But, I have caught a cold and stopped sleeping as well as normally. :)

I plan to write up a little post about our plan for our new family once we’re home. If you interact with us in real life, try to look for that post to come in the next week or two. In the meantime, prayer warriors, here’s how you can help:

*prep work – that preparing to travel will go well; that we’ll stay healthy and be well-rested

*traveling mercies – smooth and comfortable flights; baggage that goes where it’s supposed to; flights that go when their supposed to; Chris and I to have lots of love to help our littles manage the flight again

*transition prep – for Ladybug’s heart to be as prepared as possible; for Chris and I to remember all of our training and wisdom as it comes to making split-second decisions that are best for all 5 of us; that we can enjoy our family time in country

*homecoming – love and laughter and lots of sweet moments; wisdom and grace in the tough moments; for God to grant us support where we need it

Thank you, and stay tuned!

Home Stretch

I woke up at 4:55 AM today.

That’s pretty unusual for me, but the National Visa Center opens at 7:00 AM EST, and I wanted to be one of the first on the phone to them. Getting three important numbers from NVC was the final thing WE had on our to-do list until “book flights.” Calling NVC is not for the faint of heart, especially if you miss pressing “1” fast enough to stay connected to the call after being on hold for 20+ minutes. Like I did. Twice.

I got through and learned our numbers had been issued; and after an hour of being on hold (partially due to the aforementioned issue of slow fingers), I had the numbers!

Anyway, so now, our lawyer in Ladybug’s country can use those numbers to file another form, which triggers the last few steps. Hopefully, in about two weeks, we’ll receive our ultimate paperwork known as Article 5. Any time from immediately after that to indefinitely after that, court will be scheduled, and we’ll be on our way. We’re talking single digit weeks, folks! (Lord willing!)

Thanks for all the prayer warriors who have stormed heaven’s gates on Ladybug’s behalf! We love you all.

422 Days

We are 422 days deep in this adoption process, and MAN! can we see the finish line!

We have received Ladybug’s official paperwork and submitted our I800 application to USCIS. After receiving the forthcoming approval (1-3 weeks), there are a few more steps: receiving via email some numbers needed to secure her visa (3 days), the US embassy in her country completing her orphan investigation (2 weeks), awaiting one final set of paperwork called the Article 5 (1-2 weeks). Once we have received article 5, our lawyer can schedule court. Possibly in 5-7 weeks, we will have a pretty good idea or know for sure when our final trip will be!

I wanted to offer a brief financial update, as well. We have paid our final agency fees! WOO! We also have saved a reasonable chunk of change to cover plane tickets and time spent in country (3 weeks or so). We really may be “fully-funded,” a long-sought after status everyone in the adoption world loves to reach! BUT, depending on how outrageous the ticket prices are based on summer vacation status and time before booking, we may still be a little short. There’s no way to be certain, unfortunately. We’re praying and trusting that everything will work out the way it’s supposed to!

We really are SO close! I need to share soon all of the flurry of activity we’ve had here as we prepare for Ladybug’s arrival (and Gumdrop’s, too, not too long after!). Stay tuned!

Hallelujah!

Today, just a few days shy of two months past registering for Ladybug in her birth country, we were notified that we received our next big approval! Her country has essentially said, “yes,” to this beautiful new family God is building, and all of her legal paperwork has been released to us. 

This paperwork, called the Article 16 package, is working its way through translation and recording before we’ll use it to apply for Ladybug’s citizenship paperwork. 

We are truly in the home stretch now, folks, and the realization takes my breath away. Hopefully by the end of July we will have a pretty good idea of our court date and travel schedule for bringing her HOME. 

HOME. 

*****

I was laying with Poppy and Bumblebee as they were going down for their naps when a fellow adoptive parent-turned-friend messaged me imploring me to check my email. I clicked over quickly and read the good news in disbelief. I almost froze, but then I yelled out to Chris, “CHECK YOUR EMAIL!” As I heard him say, “Yay! Yay! Yay!” I burst into laughing and crying at the same time, and the girls just kinda stared at me. I happily explained the short version of what happened (I know – they’re too young to get it), and they both smiled and hugged me. So sweet. 

Waiting for this second prime minister approval was so much more difficult than waiting for the first. Ladybug has a bed in her new home now. We have purchased a new vehicle to accommodate our growing family. We have been tangibly and practically preparing for her arrival, and it FINALLY feels like maybe, just maybe, we’re almost there. 

We’re on our way, sweet daughter. 

Ready for sister

Mini Update

It’s now been 34 days since we officially registered with Ladybug in her country.

34 days since we’ve seen that sweet girl.

And while we wait, I thought I would post a small update and give our friends, family, and supporters a glimpse at what’s to come.

Amazingly, three of the six families who traveled last month have already received the final government approval from our children’s country. This is remarkably quick; and while it means almost nothing as far as knowing when we will receive our big approval, it does give us much reason to hope for a sooner-than-anticipated date!

After that approval, there is a flurry of activity between the two countries as we finalize all of the necessary paperwork to secure her eventual U.S. citizenship, prepare for our final trip, be scheduled for court, and so on. The absolute fastest that this post-approval process can go, in my best understanding, is about 9 weeks. Then, our on-average three weeks of travel, and then HOME. We will absolutely be keeping everyone posted!

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A unique opportunity has arisen that we may send a small care package along to Ladybug! Poppy and Bumblebee painted some pictures, and Chris and I will write a card to send her. We also are sending along some stickers (we had a lot of fun playing with stickers together last month), and, most importantly, a family photo of the five of us that she can have to keep!

Please pray that God will use these small tokens of love we send to continue to prepare her little heart for what’s to come and to remind her of our love for her!

Cute little "selfie" chin Ladybug captured on my phone :)

Cute little “selfie” chin Ladybug captured on my phone :)

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Now that the word is out about my pregnancy, I thought I’d give a brief overview of how (and how not) this may affect the adoption. The short answer and good news is that it won’t.

What Gumdrop will more-than-likely affect is my own ability to travel with Chris on our second trip. Thankfully, the adoption process can and will proceed, even if only one of us is in Ladybug’s country for court and to pick her up and bring her home. The sad thing is that I really want to go! So long as I can be there and back by early-ish September, I believe that I will be cleared to travel. BUT, that kind of time frame is not at all guaranteed.

God has given us a great deal of peace about all of this uncertainty, and we are assured of His perfect plan, no matter what happens! Still, we pray that if it is His will, I may get to go on this trip and that we travel early enough to build some attachment before Gumdrop arrives!

Stay tuned and continue to pray with us! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!

Beautiful slippers my cousin crocheted for Ladybug on her cute little feet!

Beautiful slippers my cousin crocheted for Ladybug on her cute little feet!