Thursday, May 26, 2016

Kate's TV Debut

A few weeks ago I posted to Facebook looking for an adoption support group of some sort. We had just started the 5th year of our adoption journey, and as we continued our lengthy wait I was looking for a more established support system. Several friends suggested we try a group at the Church of Brookhills, and so, on April 10th we decided to visit. 

It was a small turnout that night, and we were blessed with enough time to really share our adoption story with the 3 couples that were there. As I recounted the difficulties and delays again, and felt all the emotions that come with the waiting one more time – something incredible happened.

I had a vision. (Some of you may think that’s crazy, but hear me out.) God gave me a flash in my mind – a memory actually – and an explanation of what He wanted to tell me through it – all in an instant.

He reminded me of a moment on our trip to Switzerland this Fall (a 5 day long layover we took on our way to Africa for work). There was an evening there when we were taking photos of a historic church, and began to hear the most beautiful music. We instantly stopped what we were doing and followed the sound – around the church… down the alley… down the block… across the street… and finally into an open air building on the corner where two exceptionally talented men were playing a violin and drum.

These two musicians were amazing. There was a small crowd gathered already, but the longer they played, the more it grew. I was captivated by their music. We listened for the longest time… even taking video clips to share with friends around the world. What a gift! An unexpected concert! It’s a fond memory.

As I thought about it all, God spoke very clearly. He said...

“Ericka… if those musicians had only played one song, you wouldn’t have had time to find them. Few people would have heard them. Very few people would have been able to enjoy the beauty of their music. But because they played song after song, there was time for a crowd to gather. Many people enjoyed their show – even people around the world who saw your video!  
This is true too for your adoption. I’m taking my time to gather a crowd to watch a show that will bring me glory.

WOW.  What do you say to that? I told Rusty about it immediately, and shared it a few weeks later with my brother and sister-in-law. I told them, “I think God’s up to something big”.

Well friends… let me tell you what happened when we announced the wonderful news that we were MATCHED!

We had more than 1,000 people respond to the news (988 on my initial Facebook post alone!) on social media and my blog. Almost 2,000 people have read that blog post. We've gotten some of the sweetest calls and texts over the last few weeks, as well as congratulations in person! We’ve gotten gifts through the mail for Kate from dear friends in Kansas, North Carolina, and Georgia (and have been told there are others on the way). We've gotten messages from friends (and strangers) all over the world - from Botswana to Swaziland, South Africa, Thailand, India, Ukraine, Canada, China, and Hong Kong (just to name a few!) It is humbling to see how many people have been praying for us and our daughter, and following our story over the past 4+ years! 

Just seeing that response alone was enough for me to believe that He is “gathering a crowd”… but then something else happened that blew me away. The day we announced our news, we were contacted by a friend of mine who is a producer at a local TV station. I opened her message to read, “We want to do a story on you!”

And so, within a few days, the Fox 6 car was at our house, and a sweet reporter named Lydia was interviewing us. And before we knew it, our adoption story was being shared live on Fox 6 WBRC, and on the Fox 6 blog (with a link to our blog!) And then it was picked up by their sister station in Montgomery, WSFA!

“I’m gathering a crowd to watch a show that will bring Me glory…”

I guess sometimes God is really literal. I never guessed the “show” would actually be on TV! Of course we think it's neat that our little girl's arrival in our lives was considered "news" here in Birmingham - because it certainly is BIG news to us! This is just one more way we can show her how special she is someday. 

We couldn't embed the clip from the website, but Rusty was able to use his camera and video it on our TV. You can watch his video of the clip above, or click through here to watch it on the Fox 6 site and to read the article.

We shared so much in our interview that of course didn’t make the cut (they only have so much time, and it’s hard to share 4 years in only 2 minutes!) but I hope that our segment did bring God glory… and more than anything, I’m praying that somewhere out there, someone was watching who’s been wondering if they should adopt. I hope our story showed them that these children are worth the wait (because they certainly are!)

We’ve been blessed to see God’s hand, once again, so evidently in our adoption. I’m so grateful that He speaks to our hearts, and that He is faithful to fulfill His promises! I can't wait to see what's next in this "show" He is putting on! 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

It Takes a Village...

They say it takes a village to raise a child, and I am quite sure that's true. But as we have walked through our (long, difficult) adoption journey I will also add that I believe it takes a village to bring a child HOME!

We have had a pretty amazing village from the beginning of our adoption. Our family and friends (all over the world!) have been so supportive - and we saw that in full force when we shared the news last week that we were matched! The response to our news has been incredible!

Our first family picture! 
I wish more than anything that I didn't have to blur out her sweet face!

But outside our family - I have to say that some of the most excited people were our precious neighbors. Friends - these people are our real village... our day in and day out "take care of each other" tribe. We all look after each other's babies, pets, and homes. We chat in our front yards almost every day after work, and celebrate with block parties and cookouts all year long. And these people are the ones who have prayed and asked about our adoption more times than I can count... the ones who have listened to our heartache on hard days... the ones who have said, "I can't wait until your daughter is home!" right when we needed to hear it. So when we texted them the news on Monday afternoon, they were THRILLED! We actually had a crowd outside our door at 5:00 just waiting to CELEBRATE!!!

This isn't even half of the sweet friends who showed up to celebrate with us! 
I wish I could've gotten a picture of them all! We are blessed! 

We took to the front yard for an impromptu party and toasted to our news with pink lemonade, sparkling cider, and pink champagne as more and more neighbors trickled in. Some brought us flowers, some brought gifts, and one was so excited that he jumped out of his car (with it still running) to see our daughter's picture! There was laughter, tears, and CHEERS! It was such a sweet time! We were overwhelmed with how much LOVE is waiting on our baby girl!!!

If you can't tell - that is one excited Daddy popping a bottle of pink champagne for our neighbors!

I have never owned anything with red and white polka dots in my life - but I picked up this shirt on a whim a few weeks ago. 
So glad I had it in the closet so I could "match" our little girl! 

Here are some pictures of some of the precious kids (and their mommas) on our street seeing Kate for the first time. We have 14 kids on our street (with 5 more on the way through adoption and pregnancy!) - so it is a really special place. These babies are so sweet - and we know they will love and welcome our daughter well!

This little one is Piper (our next door neighbor), and she's just a few months older than our Kate. We just adore her - she is so spunky and spirited! She makes our street so much fun! The second she saw Kate's photo she announced with grandeur, "I'M GONNA SHER EVWEYFING WIF HER!" (Melt. my. heart.)

And this is Evie & Lydia (whose mommy's name is actually Kate too!) Lydia will look at our daughter's photo again and again and say, "Kate, Kate, Kate!" and Evie can tell you that Miss Ericka's baby is in THAILAND! Evie is just a few months younger than Kate, and they share a love for accessories and dancing. I know they are going to be fast friends!

Margo (the oldest girl on our street - in the polka dot shorts in these photos) has been particularly interested in our adoption from the beginning. She has asked regularly when our daughter is coming home, and why they (our agency) won't hurry up?! She has checked in on all of our latest news and asked if we would please teach her some Thai (so Kate will understand her when she comes home). She has said the sweetest things to me on some of my hardest days... so I couldn't wait to tell her our wonderful news! She is going to have so much fun playing with Kate when she's home!

One of the things that stuck out in Kate's file - that they repeatedly noted - is that she prefers playing with other children, she plays well in a group, and she shares generously. I know that it's no mistake that God placed us (a family with only one child) on a street that is overflowing with the sweetest playmates for our daughter! He is such a God of detail.

All of Kate's gifts from her neighbor friends 
(and my parents, who showed up at the end of the front yard party!)

We are counting down the days until our sweet girl is home and playing out in the front yard with the other Crestwood babies. We are so thankful for "our village" - every day... but especially on this sweet day as they shared our JOY.