Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Worth It

A few months ago I was having what I call a "really hard adoption day" when God popped this song into my head. It's an older song - one that I haven't heard of thought of in years. So when it came to mind, I pulled it up to listen to it. (And I'm so glad I did!)

As it began to play, I was immediately overwhelmed with God's presence. I picked up my computer, walked into my daughter's room, closed the door and began to worship through tears as the words washed over me...

I don't understand your ways 
Oh, but I will give you my song 
I'll give you all of my praise. 
You hold on to all my pain 
and with it you are pulling me closer 
and pulling me into your ways. 

Now around every corner 
and up every mountain 
I'm not looking for crowns 
or water from fountains. 
I'm desperately seeking, frantic believing 
that the sight of your face 
is all that I'm needing. 

I will say to you... 
It's gonna be worth it, 
It's gonna be worth it,  
It's gonna be worth it all, 
I believe this. 
It's gonna be worth it, 
It's gonna be worth it,  
It's gonna be worth it all. 

God spoke so clearly to me that day through this song. He reminded me that all of this waiting... hoping... aching is going to be WORTH IT - because our daughter is worth it! She is worth every hard day... every bit of work... every moment of waiting. One day when she is in our arms, we will know for a fact that she was worth it all! (And now, having seen her sweet face, I can already tell you that is true!) He reminded me that someday, when she is safe and loved - here in our arms and in our home.... someday when she knows how much Jesus loves her and that He has a plan for her life... all this will be worth it!

But then... God took it a step further.

God reminded me of who I was when I started this process - and of how far I have come in the past 4+ years. He reminded me how much I have grown... how much my faith has grown. (And how that growth will make me a better mother to our sweet Kate when she is home!) He reminded me how much I have learned about Him... how I have seen His character in new ways... how real and true His faithfulness has become to me through this journey. And God spoke very clearly that this is why it our journey is ultimately worth it.

I do not believe for one second that God is making us wait for our daughter because He wants to teach me something. I do not believe that a loving God keeps mommies and daddies away from their babies... or leaves babies waiting for families in an orphanage. That kind of injustice comes at the hands of men - not from God. My God is a loving Father who sets the lonely in families (Psalm 68:6)... who gives good gifts to His children! (Matt. 7:11 & James 1:17) But I do believe that He is a redeeming God - one who does not waste anything. And I believe that He will take the brokenness and injustice that exists in the adoption world (because my goodness - it should not take so very long to become a family!) and He will use it for our goodness and His glory. And so, I know He has been using this wait (and every painful moment in it) to bring me into even closer relationship with Him.

And someday... when I get to heaven and see His face, I will know that ultimately THAT is what has made this wait worth it all.

So friend... whatever it is that you're waiting on... whatever it is that you're going through... you can trust that He is there for you, right by your side, drawing you near to Him in the waiting. And however hard your season is right now, please know that He will not waste one moment of it. If you let Him, He will change your heart in incredible ways, and show you more of Himself and His love than you've ever known. Someday, I promise, if you open your heart - you will see that this season was worth it, dear one. Hang in there, and lean in to what God is teaching you. It's gonna be worth it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

What's Next?

Now that we have finally been matched with our daughter (which we are thanking God for every day!) the #1 question we are getting is... "so, when do you get her?" Our quick response is, "We're praying for August!" Unfortunately, the complete answer isn't that simple. So I thought I'd write a blog explaining what is next in this process.

For months now, I've been feeling like we would travel in August. Even before we got matched, I told Rusty that I had this feeling that God was up to something big. I told him (and my brother and sister-in-love) a few weeks before we were matched, "I think we're going to get matched soon, and I think she's coming home quickly!" August has been very much on my heart.

I've felt this so tangibly, that we even turned down a photography job for the first week of September, because I am convinced we'll be in Thailand then. I have never felt so sure of anything - which is interesting, because I haven't had a clue about any of the timing thus far in our adoption! But saying out loud, "We are traveling in August" feels just as real to me as saying, "the sky is blue." The crazy thing is... nothing about this is logical.

Our agency has been telling us since we started this process 4 years ago that the time it takes to travel after matching is typically 6-12 months (or longer). The bigger, more popular agency is saying 10-15 months right now. I have never heard of anyone getting travel dates faster than 8 months. And yet here I am - praying and believing for a 4 month window. I know it seems insane... but I just can't shake it. I have such peace about this! And I know that my God is BIGGER than any timeline, and that He has the ultimate authority over every list of approvals. So we are praying and believing and preparing for August!

So... what's next? 

Article 16 (First Approval)

The next thing we are waiting on is our Article 16. This is a document, approved by the Thai Adoption Board, that says that we are allowed to adopt our daughter. One thing that is different with most Thai adoptions, is that the government agency presiding over adoptions (the Thai Adoption Board) doesn't see the adoptive parents' file, or the child's adoption file, until after matching. (I know it seems backwards, but it is just their process - and we trust that our orphanage director has all our paperwork in order!) So once they review our file and our daughter's file, they will approve our Article 16 (also called an adoption decree or "first approval").

This can take a long time. I know families that have been waiting for 9 months already. The reason it takes so long, is because the Thai Adoption Board only meets 2 days a month - typically the first and third Wednesday of each month. One of those meetings is happening right now - as I type this! So we have asked all our friends and family to pray through the night tonight that this will be our meeting! Again - we know it will take a miracle for this to happen so quickly for us, but we believe that God is at work in this. We recently found out that our Orphanage Director will be at this meeting in person, so we are hopeful that will give us some favor!


Our next step is filing some forms (and fees) with the US Immigration office. We have already filed our I-800A - which was the approval for us to adopt a Thai girl, ages 0-3. But once we have our Article 16 and Kate's file, we will need the US Immigration office to approve us to adopt this specific child.


Once we have our Article 16 and I-800, we can file the DS-260 with the US Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand. This is (from what I understand) a form asking them to issue our daughter a visa to come into the US while we are in Thailand taking custody of her.

Thai Adoption Board Dates

Once we have our Article 16, Immigration approval, and Embassy approval - then we can schedule our travel dates and a date to appear before the Thai Adoption Board in person (the same people who approve our Article 16). This will be an interview after we take custody of Kate, and our final approval before leaving Thailand with her!

Post Placement Visits, Finalization in Alabama, and Finalization at the Thai Consulate

We are hoping to stay in-country with our daughter for 4-6 weeks after the Board Meeting to allow her time to adjust and attach. But once we are home, we're still not done! Many countries allow international adoptions to be final once the child is home on American soil - but not Thailand. (Honestly, while this is a lot more work for us, I do believe it is done out of love and concern for their Thai children! They want to be sure it is a healthy placement before things are finalized.) And so, we will be required to do 3 post placement visits with a social worker, more paperwork, finalization in a court in Alabama, more paperwork again, and finally a trip to the Thai Consulate in either Washington DC or Chicago to completely finalize our adoption in the eyes of the Thai government.


So that's it! That's the (basic) run-down of what the rest of our process looks like. We still have a lot of paperwork, prayers, preparation - and unfortunately, waiting - do to. But we are confident that God has His hand on this process, and that our daughter will be in our arms soon!

Thank you to each and every one of you who are standing in FAITH with us and praying Kate home!

"Now FAITH is the substance of things hoped for,  the evidence of things not seen."
 - Hebrews 11:1 -


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

A Care Package for Kate

We had no idea that we would get the opportunity to send a care package to our daughter. I've heard of other families sending care packages to their children, but our agency never mentioned it to us. Even after matching, the only thing we were told that we could send was a "Welcome Album" of family photos (which we are still working on putting together). But a few days after we announced that we were matched, I was contacted by a fellow adoptive mom who was about to leave for Thailand.

Caitlin and I had connected before, because she volunteered 10 years ago at our daughter's orphanage (and wrote to tell me that the children there get really great care, which was a comfort!) This time she was writing to say that she and her husband were leaving for Thailand in about a week to adopt their little boy (so exciting!) and that they had a visit planned to our daughter's orphanage. She asked if I would like for her to take some gifts for our daughter - would I ever!?!

We quickly called our agency to get their okay, and their stance was to send what we wanted (keeping it small enough to fit in a shoebox) and that the orphanage staff would have the final say. Caitlin and her husband live in Oregon, so we knew we had to work quickly to get the package to them in time for their flight!

We set out to buy a few special things for our daughter. I knew almost instantly what I wanted - but it proved to be a little more challenging than I expected (on short notice). I went looking for a simple, pink cotton dress in a 3T, and it took NINE stores before I found one (I may or may not have cried in frustration in store #6 when everything cute was either a 2T or a 4T!) Luckily, after several trips all over town we finally found everything we wanted to send!

We ended up with a pink and purple ruffled dress, two packages of hairbows for her pigtails, some stickers, two small My Little Ponies, and a little Princess Belle figurine (obviously we know which princess I hope is her favorite!)

We also bought this sweet book, "Under the Same Moon" - which is about loved ones who are separated but loving each other from afar. I cried in the aisle at Khol's when I read it the first time! Rusty and I were able to take turns each reading a page at a time to her, so she'll be familiar with our voices. We also taped a photo of us onto the front and back covers, so she can see our faces each time she reads it.

My favorite addition though, was this little bunny! If you know me, then you know how much I love bunnies. (It's actually my husband's nickname for me). The very first thing we ever bought our daughter was a little handmade bunny in Thailand. So I really wanted to send her a stuffed bunny... but I also really wanted it to have a recording that would play our voices when she hugged it! I couldn't find anything ready-made that would work (Build-A-Bears were much too big) but the sweet girl at Build-A-Bear was very helpful! She sold us a voice box (and gave us a little heart too!) and shared some advice for cutting open and re-sewing a different stuffed animal.

I was lucky enough to find this sweet, soft bunny at Target, who had a music box inside. He came open easily once I found his back seam, and already had a little pocket inside for the voice box. I did a little bit of surgery on him to add the voice box, the sweet little heart from Build-A-Bear (that we covered in kisses and prayers), and some extra stuffing to make him softer.

We recorded ourselves saying "I love you" in Thai with her Thai nickname (Namfon), and "Mommy Loves You" and "Daddy Loves You" in English. Then my chiropractor had the great idea to add a few drops of lavender oil to the bunny (and all the other items we sent). We're hoping it will be soothing to our daughter, and that when we wear the same scent (the day we meet her) it might be something familiar that will help with her attachment.

All her gifts fit into this sweet little polka-dot bag. I included a note explaining everything, and telling them that the stickers and hairbows were for her to share with her friends (since her referral said she loves to share with the other children!) Then we were able to overnight it to Caitlin in Oregon (thanks to a sweet friend who covered the UPS expense! God bless you Kristin!)

Caitlin and her husband and son will be visiting the orphanage on June 6th (the night of June 5th to us here in America). Now we are hoping and praying that the staff will allow her to give our daughter our gifts, and to take photos and videos of Kate to send to us! We only have a few posed pictures, and to see some candid shots (or video of Kate) would be such a treat! We also sent a video to Caitlin of the two of us introducing ourselves to our daughter in Thai and English... telling her we love her so much, and that we can't wait to hold her in our arms. We are also praying they allow Caitlin to show the video of us to Kate! We are hopeful that these gifts will help Kate get to know our voices and faces, and be more comfortable with us when we finally meet her.

We're so grateful that Caitlin offered to do this for us. As you pray for her visit to the orphanage to go well, would you also pray a blessing over her family's adoption? Her son is just adorable, but he is still adjusting to this big transition and has just started bonding with his mommy and daddy. Last night they shared that he is sick and had to go to the doctor in Thailand to be treated for pneumonia. I know they would appreciate your prayers for healing and bonding during this time!