May 18, 2014

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Love that Endures

violet thumbnail

Our girl needs to come home.

I’ve really, really had enough of the waiting. Honestly, I’d had enough of the waiting this time last year. I was fed up in January after court, when it took five weeks to get the ruling that was promised in one. It was heartbreaking to go home in April without her, when she begged Daddy to make me stay.

I’d say I’m at the end of my rope now that my husband is back in Uganda (our third trip over) and encountering more obstacles obtaining her visa. But these hands are empty — I let go of the rope a long time ago.

Without delving into boring detail, the embassy has basically changed some of the rules on us midstream, asking for documents that aren’t listed on their checklist. They’re saying one document wasn’t acceptable because it wasn’t signed, when it clearly was (just in a different spot on the page). They wanted something rewritten, another file totally redone. And they didn’t bother telling me any of this when I was denied her visa interview in April, or when my husband first checked in with them upon arrival this month. They only make adoption visa appointments during certain hours, two days a week, so it’s not like rechecks can be done quickly. Donnie has been scrambling to obtain what they’re asking for, and covets your prayers for tomorrow, when he will go back to the embassy for yet another document check appointment.

I’m just so totally over the bureaucracy, the power trips by attorneys and government officials, the spending money we didn’t have only to find new expenditures popping up every single day. (This is a child’s HEART we’re dealing with here, and her disappointment from all the delays is the worst part of it all.)

I want to laugh when I look at that fundraising thermometer on the home page, because this process will have cost more than double that amount by the time it’s said and done. I’m laughing not because it’s funny, but at my own naivety on display. I really thought we’d make one trip to Uganda and bring her home.

Silly me.

We’ve been able to make it this far due to saving, fundraising and the deep generosity of friends. I hate to ask anyone to help us again, and it’s been a long time since I’ve asked for help. But now that we’ve encountered a new set of expenses and more time in Uganda (that’s resulting in my husband’s paid leave running out), we really could use some assistance on this last leg of our journey. If you are at all able to help, we welcome gifts of any size through WePay and PayPal, and I’m working on a Facebook album showcasing things we still have left for sale after last year’s fundraising. (If you’re not my friend on Facebook but would like a link to the album, please let me know).

I’m sorry to sound like Debbie Downer again. I injured my knee over a month ago in Uganda and it’s still not healing properly. I’m supposed to rest it — a LOT — far more than what’s easily manageable with three kids and no husband at home. Being in pain makes me cranky. Waiting on our daughter and missing my husband makes me grumpy. Everything combined makes Eeyore look like a bubbly optimist compared to me. Maybe say a prayer for my boys because I’m just a little ray of toxic sunshine these days and they’re the ones having to put up with me!

So many of you have truly shared in our frustration and supported us with your prayers. A few have said that they’d have given up by now. I get why they say that, but….

You don’t quit when times get tough. Even when they stay tough far longer than you ever imagined they could. Other adoptive families with greater obstacles than ours have taught me that.

Love pursues. Love persists. Love keeps going even when nothing tangible remains to fuel it.

An exhausted runner doesn’t quit a marathon at the 25.5 mile mark. She didn’t push herself so hard, for so long, to just sit down when the finish line is finally in sight.

And in the same way, you just don’t give up on love.

I think that a parent’s love, if it is anything of value, must always be a love that endures. If God never gave up on me, how can I give up on this child?

Family collage

The Word says it best in chapter 13 of the book of 1 Corinthians…and I love the elaboration in this particular translation:

“Even if I dole out all that I have [to the poor in providing] food, and if I surrender my body to be burned or in order that I may glory, but have not love (God’s love in me), I gain nothing.

Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious [self-important], does not display itself haughtily.

It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].

It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.

Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening].

 Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end].”

-1 Corinthians 13:3-8 (AMP)

~Amen!~

 

 

 

 

 

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Apr 30, 2014

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New News

I haven’t had a lot to say since we got home from Uganda. I’ve been busy nursing the knee injury I sustained while there, and then had a big weekend celebrating my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. All that coupled with adjusting back to life here has kept me busy. AND, there hasn’t really been anything happening on the ground in Uganda with regard to getting our correct long-form death certificate.

But today, we received good news. The form has been typed and just needs a signature, so it should be ready by Friday. That means we can make plans to go back soon!

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At some point around Mother’s Day, the hubby should be getting on a plane and prayerfully, within a week, clearing the embassy and bringing our little ray of Ugandan sunshine home!

I’ve been working to edit pics from our recent three weeks there, but it’s taking a while. Here’s one of my favorites…

V 6 months

A big highlight of the trip was getting to see pictures of our sweetie as a baby. Here she is at a perfectly adorable six months old!

Hopefully I’ll be posting soon that Donnie is on his way!

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Apr 16, 2014

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Another Separation

Tomorrow, I fly home without our girl.

Things did not go well at the embassy on Monday. It’s really too long and boring to type out, so I’ll summarize by saying that it was due to paperwork errors that are largely the fault of our completely inept attorney. Or, former attorney, that is. We have hired a new one that is helping us get things sorted out. God willing, it will all be finished in a couple of weeks and Donnie will fly back to attend the last embassy appointments, get her visa and fly her home.

Violet and Me

We’ve had a good time together this week. She’s not doing very well with the news that she has to go back to the pastor’s house. It’s not that she has anything against him — he and his wife, “Auntie”, are very loving toward her and I can tell that they all genuinely enjoy being around one another.

But returning there wasn’t part of the plan. It’s not her permanent home. She was SO looking forward to getting on that plane with me this week. She was texting Donnie tonight and begging him to make me stay here with her until the visa comes. It’s just totally heartbreaking to hear this, and to see her cry. She is such a strong girl — for her to cry openly truly shows how upset she is about this.

I wish I could stay, but for reasons I’m not at liberty to discuss here yet, I have to get home. I’d allotted three weeks for this trip, and everyone seemed to believe we could wrap it up in two. It’s frustrating that we couldn’t do it. It’s irritating that this child who has already hurt so much has to hurt some more, all because of stupid red tape and ignorant attorneys.

I’m just so weary of my heart being torn between two sides of the globe. But here we go again — another “goodbye for now.” Another time of waiting. We’re all just so sick and tired of waiting.

As I’ve heard before, redemption is costly. It cost Jesus his life. As we approach Easter weekend, I’m reflecting a lot on the idea of redemption. And what I’m giving up for her sake, the pain we’re all going through, of course it will all be worth it in the end.

Just please keep our sweet girl in your prayers…

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Apr 10, 2014

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Back in Uganda

I haven’t blogged in a while…time is flying by. I never finished my travelogue posts from our first trip and now I’m actually typing from Uganda, having been here ten days already. It’s been a long and exhausting trip—I feel like I’ve been here a month, at least. Donnie was here for the first week and I miss him terribly. Sorry to sound all doom-and-gloom, but I’ve found my faith and patience tested more in the past ten days than probably throughout this entire adoption process combined.

Our days have been filled with paperwork and waiting. And four shots for Violet and a medical exam. And lots of time sitting in the hot sun in Kampala traffic getting from place to place, including lawyers’ offices, all of which seem to be most inconveniently located on the top floors of buildings without working elevators. (And in one case, is labeled the 3rd floor even though it’s actually the 6th!) The rest of our time is spent hanging out at the guesthouse, which is nice, but quite boring aside from the Internet connection, which can be sporadic at times. Or it can be like tonight, where it shows you connected, but pages take forever to load AND the electricity keeps shutting off, making it nearly impossible to create a blog post.

I’ve experienced the scariest thunderstorm I’ve ever been in — scarier even than a hurricane — more mosquito bites than I’ve ever had, and just the constant sticky feeling that one gets layered under sunscreen, bug spray and what feels like a permanent layer of sweat. The best part of the day is climbing onto cool sheets after a cold shower, lying directly under the fan and finally cooling off. Provided that the electricity is on to run the fan, that part of each day is bliss.

Despite all the discomforts and inconveniences…God is faithful. Today we witnessed a miracle in receiving our long-form birth certificate in just one day. That is after switching lawyers…our first one failed to get this to us even though he’s had four months to do it. Now that we have this document, we can move on to the last step of obtaining her visa. If all goes well, this time next week we’ll be driving to the airport to come home. And I can’t wait. This is the longest I’ve ever been away from my boys and it’s breaking my heart.

It’s been so interesting getting to know our daughter. She is quiet at times—sometimes very quiet—and we definitely have a bit of a language barrier. But when we take our time with one another, we can usually sort out what the other is saying, and each day I feel her English gets a tiny bit stronger. I don’t know how this is going to translate into school placement for next year. Our schools get out in mid-May, so she won’t be going anywhere until August. That’ll give us the summer to work on her English and have evaluations to see where she needs to be placed.

So far I know that she likes fish, rice and chips (fries). That is her favorite meal, and if the fish is whole and grilled, the head is her favorite part. (Yes, even the eyes!) She also likes eggs, sweets and ice cream, especially. And soda. I think every Ugandan likes soda and juice. (I kind of dread that first visit to our dentist!)

She loves technology and movies (already her daddy’s daughter) and has a lovely, contagious laugh. She loves to shop and makes sure her outfits are coordinated. I’ve also already sampled the first of what I’m sure will be many moments of preteen pouting over things like being told ‘no’ over a simple request. I think it’s hard for internationally adopted kids to sort out what their new lives will be like. I think they daydream of a life with no chores, with everything they desire being bought for them when they want it, and rumors abound that propagate the lies of this idyllic existence. Unfortunately, most people who are adopting are just ordinary Joes like us who can give a child a good life, but not an extravagant one, and certainly not one devoid of work. I think the collision of expectation and reality can be a shock sometimes. And the whole experience of leaving your culture and calling essential strangers “family” must be so hard. I pray for her adjustment to be an easy one, but realistically know to expect anything.

It’s about time for my nightly “bliss”, so I’ll leave you with a request to please keep us in your prayers for favor at the embassy on Monday and for a safe trip home on Good Friday. Coming home will make it a very good Friday indeed!

 

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Mar 11, 2014

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Labors of Love

I was thinking earlier today that if the adoption experience was equal to the birthing experience, I’d have delivered four or five babies by the time this is all over.

I don’t mean months-wise (although…9 x 4 = 36 and we ARE into our third year of the process) but I mean in regard to the number of times this process has felt like being in labor.

Just so, so much painful waiting…

Except we’re birthing documents, not babies.

Now before I delve into this, a disclaimer: this is not meant to generate any back-patting for me or my family. It just struck me today how much I admire the adoptive families I know. It’s kind of like before you have kids, how parenthood looks stressful, but totally doable and you just have no way of knowing how thrilling and amazing and heartbreaking and exhausting it actually IS. You can’t know it til you live it.

I have to confess that I went into adoption wearing somewhat rose-colored glasses. It seemed easier than those high-risk pregnancies I’d gone through. It seemed like such a beautiful way to build a family — and it most certainly is! — but it didn’t seem especially hard or grueling. I guess maybe I was reading the wrong blogs, because now that I’ve been immersed into the adoption world for over two years, I am blown away by what some people have gone through to adopt.

So the point of this post is to say to all my adoptive friends: you rock for enduring all you’ve endured. We’ve had it so easy compared to so many of you. After I delivered my first child, I had a whole new appreciation for my mom and every woman before me who’d ever gone through that pain and lived to tell about it. And I wasn’t sure I was made out of strong enough stuff to do it again. I feel the same way now about adoption — I have the deepest respect for those who’ve gone before us, and that’s just multiplied for those who’ve adopted more than once. Just…wow. Your strength and perseverance blows me away. Here’s a virtual “high-five” for you all.

Anyway…back to my (probably very poorly articulated) adoption/birth analogy….

The first “baby” we had to deliver was getting our homestudy approved. Not to be crude, but everything that went into that felt as intrusive as the repeated pelvic exams of pregnancy. It felt like documenting everything right down to the time you last burped, with no guarantee that you’d be approved at the end of it. I don’t even know if I was blogging yet when those papers came in, but this was me the day of their delivery:

I was sooooo stinkin’ happy!

And then we entered into our next gestational period: waiting for a court date. It was active waiting, with fundraising and praying and the mailing of papers and the paying of legal fees, and lots of other little waiting in the form of meeting monetary goals and missed communications with the lawyer. And that actually morphed into a time period nearly two pregnancies long, as there were delays in the courts, and with our judge in particular, and then a big false alarm when we were offered a short-notice court date that we couldn’t accept.

But finally, the pushing and groaning and aching and praying and crying was over, and it came. Another crucial delivery complete! Another period of waiting ended.

So then we left on a plane to go meet our daughter, and had the most amazing trip, and court went well and we began the next phase of waiting — to receive the judge’s ruling. We thought the hearing went well, we were promised to receive a ruling one week later, but alas — the promise of a week extended into six and once again, we were agonizing, waiting…waiting…waiting and like contractions in labor, not really able to do anything to alleviate the pain.

For adoption offers no epidural.

And the waiting hurt extra-badly because we’d seen our daughter, and held her and connected with her, only to have to leave her behind.

But then, it came! And OH, the relief when we saw the judge ruled in our favor. This girl was OURS now. Amazing stuff!

But…and I know you’re seeing the pattern here…today we’re “pregnant” again, defined by Webster’s dictionary as, “having possibilities of development or consequence : involving important issues rich in significance or implication.”

Yep. We’re “preggers” alright. This time, the “baby” is her passport, which we’re told would come on Friday, but in reality could take longer than that.

And then she has to pass a physical, and then the United States Embassy has to give us permission to fly her home. Even though the Ugandan courts have already declared she belongs to us now.

More waiting. More laboring. More unknown outcomes. More digging up drying-up reservoirs of blind faith that all things will, indeed, work together for our ultimate good.

I’ve had three high-risk pregnancies, two labors, three births and I’m here to tell you: the physical stress of carrying a baby is nothing like the mental stress of adopting a child. It sounds cliche to say it, but of course it’s all worth it in the end. But now, nearing the end of the process, anticipating my last few “Document Deliveries” I just want to salute every family that’s ever gone down this road. I’ve met so many amazing people and I have a huge respect for them, for fighting for their kids when it would’ve been a thousand times easier to just quit.

Janice and Christy and Tim and Laura and Chicke and Robert and Bonnie and Colleen and Jessica and Diane and a dozen more whose names evade me at the moment — y’all rock, my friends.

Thanks for coaching me, inspiring me to keep breathing and pushing and working hard until our sweet daughter is home.

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Mar 11, 2014

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Nighttime News

We’ve been enjoying an early taste of spring around here, and today we had the windows open. That fresh air always feels so glorious after the house has been closed up all winter long.

It’s still pretty chilly at night, though, and as I stepped into the darkened bedroom to close the window, I was pleasantly surprised by the sound of croaking frogs and chirping crickets. That’s another thing I love about the return of spring. I don’t really notice how silent winter nights are until the sounds of spring reappear each year.

Those rhythmic songs took me back to Uganda, where the nights are much louder than the days, where millions of little critters stay up serenading one another all night long. I will record it for you when I go back, because it’s almost impossible to describe how loud it is. Think of a summers’ night in Florida, amplified times ten.

Anyway, it made me happy to hear that tonight, because I’m glad our daughter will be coming home to us in the spring. Not only is everything green and blooming, like she’s used to, but the nights are not deadly silent and the air bitterly cold. Because to her little tropical bones, anything under 68* is positively frigid and I can only imagine that a silent night would seem very creepy indeed if you’d only ever known a life where nights were always louder than your days.

(Look at Miss V — she is smiling again!)

Which brings me to the news of the day: a pretty encouraging answer to prayer!

Our pastor friend returned to the passport office today in the hopes of completing the process of applying for Violet’s passport. This is the first step of the last three steps we have to take before bringing her home. He has a friend who works there and though I am (understandably) leery of believing things in Uganda until I see them come to fruition, it sounds like her passport could be ready for pickup this Friday!

Which would be amazingly fast and wonderful!

After that, he can take care of the medical exam and once that’s done, we can hop on the plane to go finish the process of getting her travel visa from the embassy.

And then we come home.

We are praying so hard that we’re back home by Easter. What a glorious Easter that would be!

 

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Mar 5, 2014

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Officially Ours

Look at what came today!

YES! Finally, the written ruling! AND the judge just signed it last week. So the delay was within the court itself, leaving me (and other adopting families) wondering if six weeks is the new normal for receiving a written ruling? If so, I am ever so grateful for the illness that sent me home early, that led us to make two trips instead of me staying in-country for six weeks, bleeding money while being unable to move forward. It really was a blessing in disguise.

Anyway…this means that now the pastor can move on to getting the passport and her physical. Once those are done, we will be on a plane to go complete the process and bring her home! That could be in as little as two weeks or so.

I talked to her on the phone today. She was so cute, not really understanding the process still involved. She kept asking, “Can you come back next week? Please come back next week!” Bless her sweet little heart — she just is SO ready to have a family.

And we are so ready to give her one!

It was around 4:30 a.m. when the phone call came this morning. Donnie hopped out of bed and went to the computer to read the document for himself. Then he came back in the bedroom, and even in the darkness, I could see his smile as he kissed me. I stayed awake a long time after, thanking God for the ruling, but mostly just thinking about things in a new, concrete way. It’s no longer the same thought process of the past two years, where every thought of Violet carried with it a big “if”….”IF we’re granted legal guardianship….IF she gets to come home this year…” Even as we met her in January and spent that wonderful week with her, the “Big IF” hung over our heads because we knew the judge could just have easily said “No.”

So this morning, it finally, truly sank in that we HAVE a daughter. *I* have a daughter! Me, this mom-of-boys who always longed for just another touch of girlishness in the house, this mom who always knew that God had left a sparkly pink vacancy in my heart for a reason, now officially has a daughter. I can tell people I have FOUR children now, no longer just three. I’m a mom of four. ME, the previously infertile, a mother of four? How can that be? But it’s real and it’s true and it’s in writing now! And my sons now have a sister, and my husband has a daddy’s girl, and our parents have a granddaughter and our siblings have a new niece. And all our amazing friends have someone new to dote on and love.

That beautiful “It is done” feeling was not unlike what I felt after our biological babies were born. As I looked over their impossibly tiny fingers and toes, ran my fingertip over their velvety new cheeks, and marveled that something so perfect could’ve been made by love and entrusted to me, it was a holy moment. And today brought an entirely different, but equally holy moment, to realize that finally, after two years of struggle and tears and pleading and prayers, this daughter we longed for was ours. Just like the babies laid upon my chest at birth, God has laid her now in our arms and love has once again, multiplied my family.

Whether by womb,

Or by judge’s decree–

Love builds a family.

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Mar 3, 2014

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New Prayer Requests

So many of y’all have stood with us in prayer through this whole process, and our family will NEVER be able to thank you enough.

As we enter this last phase of the process, I have these specific requests to share with you all.

But first, look at this picture we got yesterday… (Yes, I played around with it on PicMonkey, one of my favorite pastimes!)

Her hair is getting SO long…can you believe she’s only been growing it out a few months? It’s getting long enough for us to try some products and styles I’ve been studying on sites like Chocolate Hair/Vanilla Care. I am SO looking forward to that bonding time with her.

ANYWAY…back to the prayer requests:

  • For the written ruling to be in the pastor’s hands in the next day or two
  • For the passport process to go smoothly and quickly
  • For Violet to pass her physical and most importantly, her TB test (because if she fails that, it opens a whole other months-long set of delays)
  • Wisdom for Donnie and I to know what’s best with regard to which of us goes back and stays for the embassy/visa process (one of us must be present for that and it can take several weeks)
  • That we get her travel visa easily and quickly
  • For all trips there and back to be safe and for all of us to stay in good health–including our boys at home!

This has truly been one of the biggest adventures and challenges of our lives and we are just so grateful for all of you who’ve stood behind us, beside us and lifted us up. I mean it when I tell people that I have some of the most generous friends and family in the world! I pray God’s blessings over each of you in return for all you’ve given.

“For if you give, you will get! Your gift will return to you in full and overflowing measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use to give—large or small—will be used to measure what is given back to you.”

-Luke 6:38 (TLB)

 

 

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