Our God is Bigger

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It’s been three months since our last adoption update. We have heard a bit of news about our dossier. It arrived in Nicaragua on 11/11. We were told that translation and registration would take 4-6 months and not to expect much of anything to happen in December, due to the holiday. On 12/15, I received an email that our dossier was translated!! However, one document did not make it into our dossier from our agency. Initially, we were told that we would have to return to Ohio to redo some paperwork. By God’s grace, our agency still had a copy of the needed document and was able to track down the woman who had signed it in the summer. After it is notarized and apostilled, it will travel to Nicaragua and be translated. Then, we’ll be up for approval. I’m praying we hear of our approval (with NO needed updates or revisions) in February.

The Lord continues to provide! We are thrilled to announce that OUR ADOPTION IS 100% FUNDED! I can hardly believe this, even as I type. We have been completely blown away by all the ways that He has shown us that He is intimately involved in every detail. We are humbled and give all the glory to Him!

On March 23rd, we submitted our initial application to begin our Nicaraguan adoption process. I remember feeling panicked paying the $295 application fee…and then terrified after we paid all of our homestudy fees and first agency fee, and FORTY-THREE DOLLARS remained in our savings account. We had completely exhausted our personal funds; yet, we still needed more than $31,000 to pay for this adoption.

Early on, the Lord used the following hymn to comfort and encourage me:

He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials He multiplies peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

He has proven His faithfulness over and over the past 9 months. We have received $12,800 through gifts from friends and family, as well as almost $19,000 in adoption grants. How does something like that even happen?!?!? He just kept showing up and providing exactly what we needed for that next payment. I had heard stories about God’s financial provision during adoptions. I just never dreamt it would happen to us and to the extent that it did.

On March 23rd, the day we submitted our initial application, I read an article that was hugely confirming in our decision to move forward. Here’s an excerpt:

When we utter even the weakest yes, we find God to be big. Bigger than we once thought. Bigger than our lack. Bigger than our doubt. Bigger than the needs before us. Bigger than we can comprehend. Bigger. And He proves Himself good, steady, intentional, on time, able, strong, and sovereign.

So we take our small, mustard-sized faith, combine it with what we know to be true about God, and say YES.

So. Praise God. There is absolutely no way we could be adopting from Nicaragua by our own strength and resources. So very, utterly thankful. And we most certainly have found our God to be BIGGER.

Adoption Update

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I realize it’s been almost three months since we announced our plan to adopt from Nicaragua. I’m reading through my journal and reminding myself of all the ways the Lord has worked and provided for us. On 8/12, I wrote…We continue to face resistance in the adoption process. Seems that everything that can go wrong does. I don’t want to give up at the first sign of trouble, but I also want to make sure we’re not forging ahead if You are closing doors. Do You want us to keep going? I asked for clear confirmation. I opened my devotional, and the key verse was from John 14:18: I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. My second devotional that morning was titled “When You Want to Quit”–Among the weights to be thrown off is the fear that shrinks back in the face of suffering. The Christian must be in constant motion toward the goal despite opposition.

Time and again throughout this process, He has reminded us that He is WITH us and He is FOR us.

Since June, we’ve been busy with a LOT of paperwork. An international adoption process is time-consuming and difficult. Add to that our living in Mexico but adopting from Nicaragua, and it makes things that much more crazy. When people ask how things are going, the best way I can describe it is, “1/2 step forward, 10 steps back.” Every single action that we have attempted in our adoption process has met resistance. It has truly been an opposed process. But, God. He has been ever faithful, ever trustworthy, ever present.

In June and July, I spent close to 50 hours completing applications for different adoption grants. Soon after, I found out that many grant organizations would NOT allow our agency to receive grants for our family, due to a pending tax designation. It was a devastating blow, and I scarcely knew how we could continue with the process. Since then, God has provided more than $10,000 in generous gifts from friends and family to pay two agency fees. Also, the tax designation issue was resolved, and we received an adoption aid grant that will fully cover (!!!) our final agency fee, once we receive our potential match(es).

Grant and I had to obtain fingerprints as part of a pre-approval process from the US government to adopt a child from Nicaragua. We were having a terrible time finding a place in Mexico where we could complete the fingerprints. Over the course of about six weeks, I spoke with several US consulates in Mexico, the US embassy, several officials in the US, but no one could really give us much help. We were given two options: fly to Juarez and file our paperwork, go home, wait for approval, return to Juarez for our fingerprint appointments (separately) OR the exact same process in Mexico City. The flights, hotel costs, taxis, and time away from our kids/work were completely overwhelming. I resigned myself to one of these two terrible options but decided to make one last phone call, and He provided, yet again. I spoke with someone who, not only was kind and understanding of our situation, but gave us wonderful advice and agreed to schedule a fingerprint appointment for us at whatever office we chose. We were already planning a States trip and were able to complete our fingerprints AND all of our US paperwork for our dossier. (Our dossier is a huge pile of paperwork, each document notarized and apostilled, that Nicaragua requires us to complete, in order to adopt a child.)

Upon returning from our States trip, we still had the burden of obtaining notarizations and apostilles for all of our Mexican documents. This would prove infinitely harder and more costly. For example, having a document notarized here in Mexico costs about $50 per document, whereas in the States you can usually get something notarized for free. We did receive good news in that we could complete the apostille process in the capital city of our state of Sinaloa, rather than having to travel to Mexico City. We called the apostille office two times prior to going, in order to confirm exactly what was needed and how long it would take. But, once we arrived, we were given a list of additional items to be fulfilled (and paid for), prior to receiving the apostilles. Unfortunately, there was not enough time to complete the extra things now being asked of us, so we had to return a few days later. (10 hours total driving time, plus time sitting in various government offices)

Amidst all of this, every single paper that we needed was either delayed or seemingly vanished. We had to redo applications and return to offices multiple times (7 times for my visa). We would arrive to appointments to later find out we actually DID need documents that we were assured we would NOT need. We needed to print documents. Our printer suddenly stopped working. We went to Office Depot to print, but the text of our documents would be missing.

But, God. He orchestrated events, brought good out of what I deemed bad, and continually worked on our behalf, on behalf of our child(ren) in Nicaragua. And, as of yesterday, WE HAVE COMPLETED OUR DOSSIER!!! We sent our Mexican paperwork to our agency today. From there, it will travel to Nicaragua and be translated. According to the timeline given to us by our agency, translation and registration takes 4-6 months. At that point, our family will be considered for possible matches each month. The real waiting has begun.

From the beginning, this entire process has seemed far beyond our abilities or resources. We don’t know from where the remaining $12,000 we need to complete this process will come. We don’t know how we will manage the 10-20 week stay in Nicaragua. Grant will be there for the first few weeks but will then return to Mazatlan to work. I will remain in Nica for the duration of the child adaptation period with the new member(s) of our family, along with our other 3 children. Where we will live? What will we do about transportation? How will I not have a nervous breakdown trying to bond and attach with our new child(ren), as well as taking care of Ez, Eve, and Elias, BY MYSELF??? There is much unknown. But, God. His timing is perfect. He loves the orphan child far more than we. No matter what evil comes against us, He is in control.

Would you please pray…

  1. for protection of our paperwork as it goes from Mexico to the States to Nicaragua
  2. that Nicaragua would find our dossier complete with NO necessary modifications or additions

Once we receive a potential match, and review the limited medical information given, we will travel to Nicaragua within a few weeks at most. As we will not know WHEN we will receive a match, we’ll be booking our flights and lodging at the last minute. Through God’s provision, we received a $3,500 matching grant. Our estimated travel costs, including flights and the 10-20 week stay in Nicaragua, are $7,000. We would love to fully cover our travel and time in country through our matching grant!!! If you are interested in giving towards our adoption but haven’t had the chance, this is a perfect opportunity…your gift essentially doubles!

Go here Lifesong for Orphans. Click “Give to an Adoptive Family.” Complete the donation form and use 5489 for “Family Account Number.”

The next update will hopefully include our acceptance as an adoptive family by the Nicaraguan government. Stay tuned!!!

We’re adopting from Nicaragua!

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Adoption has been a topic of conversation for the past 12 years, for as long as we’ve been married. We seriously have prayed about starting the process 3 different times: first, when I was pregnant with Evie; second, in early 2012; third, in the fall of 2014. We’ve been intentionally praying for God’s direction for our family and adoption for about the last 9 months. In November 2014, we began to pursue adoption in Mexico. We explored adopting internationally from Mexico through an agency in the States. Thanks to Elias’ birth here (and his immediate Mexican citizenship), we also had the opportunity to become permanent residents and complete a national adoption. However, every time we tried to take a step forward, doors closed. The Lord continued to burden our hearts heavily for adoption, so we didn’t understand why we could not progress in any direction.

On the morning of March 6th, I prayed in frustration to the Lord, “Do you seriously want us to pursue adoption from another country?” It was really more of a rhetorical question, because why would He ever ask us to adopt from another country, when we were living in Mexico and serving orphans here?? Immediately, the country of Nicaragua popped into my head. I thought that was the strangest thought, as I knew nothing about Nicaragua, had never been there, knew no one who had ever visited there, etc. About a week later, I had a scheduled consultation with an agency in Indiana, MLJ Adoptions Inc. (Earlier in March, I had contacted about 6 agencies that had pilot adoption programs in Mexico. MLJ was the first agency to respond.)

During our consultation, we spoke about their Mexico adoption program. At the end of our conversation, I asked if they had a Nicaragua program. At this point, I had no idea if Nicaragua even participated in international adoptions. They did in fact have a Nicaragua program, and she shared a lot of information with me that morning. Right before we hung up, she mentioned that she thought she knew me. I assured her she didn’t, as we lived in Mexico. She asked if I had ever taught at Mason High School in Ohio. Surprised, I responded yes. She had graduated from Mason High School, while I was a teacher there years prior. She also said she had interned at the Back2Back home office in Mason. It was a shocking “coincidence” and really confirmed our decision to stay with this agency.

I waited to share this Nicaragua idea with Grant and asked him to pray about the possibility of adopting outside of Mexico. On the morning of 3/23, I read several articles and devotionals that prompted me to seriously consider moving forward with the adoption process in Nicaragua. Due to a cancelled meeting, Grant returned home for breakfast. He told me that during his prayer time that morning he felt the Lord telling him that it was time to start the process. I told him about Nicaragua, and he said, “Let’s do it!” That day, we submitted our initial application to MLJ to begin the Nicaragua adoption process. We received our fee chart from MLJ and realized we would need close to $8000 to move forward.

Soon after, we found out that, due to living outside the US, we would have to pay for someone to fly to Mazatlan to conduct our home study. I emailed a home study agency, and a social worker responded immediately. She told me that she’d just received a message from a woman in Mazatlan who wanted a home study at the same time as our family. Another “coincidence” that would allow us to split travel/lodging/per diem fees and save about $600.

Amidst this, our Back2Back support account was at an all-time low. We were preparing to leave for the States for a visit and knew we would have to spend most of our time raising support, in order to stay in Mazatlan. The $8000 also hung in the back of our minds. God provided in several ways on our trip, and our Back2Back support deficit was brought down to $5000. We trusted that He would provide this and allow us to be fully funded for the remainder of 2015.

I texted a friend, who had recently adopted from China, and shared with her our plan to adopt from Nicaragua. She excitedly responded that she had just contributed to an adoptive moms’ devotional book, of which the editor was the director of an organization in Nicaragua that supports adoptive families who are in Nicaragua to adopt. (Nicaragua requires a 10-20 week stay in country, where the adoptive parents live with the child full-time. This allows a focused time of building attachment in a familiar environment to the child.) We later attended an annual conference on orphan care, where I met this organization’s director.

The Lord continued to confirm our decision to adopt from Nicaragua through various Scripture, articles, and friends. Our first payment of $3500 was quickly approaching. We received notice that we were due to receive an amended tax return that would cover this payment! Praise God!! Days later, we found out that this return was again delayed, possibly for months. We did have money in our savings to cover this payment but didn’t know if the Lord would call us to put a serious dent in our savings, after He had taken us through so much to pay off our debt and build our savings. After much prayer, we realized He did want us to use this saved money and trust that He would carry us through. So, we put the check in the mail.

Days later, we returned to Mazatlan. We received an invoice for our home study…$3000…due 5 days later. I had no idea how we were going to come up with the money. I started to worry that maybe I had NOT really heard Nicaragua from the Lord…maybe I had dreamt that up on my own. Maybe this whole adoption thing was a huge mistake! I asked the Lord that morning to give me clear confirmation that we were on the right track. I felt the Lord bringing the word “faith” to mind over and over again. I read 2 separate devotions that spoke of Hebrews 11:1, Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen . Later, I was flipping through the adoptive moms’ devotional that I referenced earlier and saw a chapter on faith. The key scripture? Hebrews 11:1. The author of this chapter adopted from Nicaragua, after having served in Mexico.

Now…this is a lot of detail, but hang with me. This all took place 5/19.

Early in the morning, I received an invoice for $600 for the home study. We wiped out our savings paying this, literally. $43 remaining.

I shared all that had taken place with Ezra and Grant. Ezra was visibly moved and told us that she wanted to give her $30 of birthday money towards the adoption. She reminded me that we could put that together with our $30 we had received from selling a few bracelets. At that moment, I received another invoice for our home study for $60. Ezra was floored! She tangibly saw how the Lord had provided, at exactly the time we needed it.

Later that afternoon, I spoke with a friend and financial supporter. She said she felt the Lord prompt her to give $5000 for our Back2Back support, the exact amount we needed to be fully funded for 2015.

That evening, I received an email that our tax refund was being issued…$2800. This would essential cover the remaining $3000 that was due days later.

Up to this point, we’ve paid close to $7,500. We are very close to completely exhausting our personal funds. But, He proves faithful. We are confident that He will continue to provide for our remaining $26,000 that we’ll need to finalize this adoption and empty a crib in a Nicaraguan orphanage.

Click here to see our personal tax-deductible fundraising site for our Nicaraguan baby!!!

We give ALL glory and praise to Him, our Provider. Jehovah Jireh.

We’re back! Read about our trip to Mazatlan!

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We recently returned from a 12 day visit to Mazatlan. If you prayed for this trip, THANK YOU! We truly felt the prayer coverage. The Lord taught us so much during our trip, and we are just beyond grateful for the opportunity we had to go back, as well as allow our girls to experience Mexico! The first week, we spent a ton of time with the staff. We had dinner with each staff family individually and also with the entire staff several times. We got to know each family’s story and how God had brought them to Mazatlan. It was a great time for us to ask questions and get a clearer idea of what life looks like in Mazatlan. Grant and I were also able to visit the three children’s homes with our girls. Ezra and Evie started playing right away and looked right at home. It was neat to see that there is no language barrier when it comes to kids playing together. We visited the beach a few times, too, as it was just a short walk away from the Team House. The Team House is where groups stay when they come to Mazatlan for short-term mission trips. The Mazatlan site director and his family, along with the other staff/families all live in the same neighborhood, within walking distance. The executive directors of Back2Back, Todd & Beth Guckenberger and their family stayed in the Team House with us for a few days, too, and it was awesome getting to know them. The Lord met us in some cool ways while we were in Mazatlan. I’ll share just two. This past July, a former Mason student of mine sent me a message on Facebook. She had read this blog and knew we were struggling a great deal with fostering. She shared a story with me that greatly impacted my life. In November, while in a quiet time on our first trip to Mazatlan, the Lord brought this story back and again used it to encourage me. Two Sundays ago, Beth Guckenberger was speaking at our church service held at the site director’s home in Mazatlan. A few minutes into the service, Evie was crying so I left the room and missed the rest of the message. I felt pretty sorry for myself all day, as I was really looking forward to church. That evening, Beth spoke again. This time, Grant took care of Evie so I could stay. Guess what story she shared? I literally almost fell out of my chair, as Beth began to describe the exact same story that my student had sent me nine months earlier. Beth had taken a trip to Israel and observed some sheep on a hillside. The sheep were in a perfect line and moved ahead just a few steps at a time, as the shepherd weaved in and out of the line speaking to each sheep. The sheep would turn their heads toward the sheperd then obey him immediately and completely; for, if they didn’t, they would not eat. You see, the green pastures that Psalm 23 talk about are really not that green at all! Rather, it’s a barren desert. The sheep had to trust that the shepherd would lead them to the small tufts of “pasture.” How differently I read that Psalm now! I had always imagined that pasture as green and lush, a place that I could “fill up” then be set for a while. Instead, the Lord taught me that I must be 100% dependent on Him, completely trusting that He will lead me to that next tuft of grass. And, while waiting, my head is turned up to Him, ready to hear what He has to say. Another surprise the Lord gave me was regarding a Donald Miller book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. Grant decided to bring it and read it while in Mexico. I had started it about a year ago but didn’t get beyond the first few chapters. One evening, I had the book with me, and one of the staff commented that this book had been the tipping point to saying “yes” to coming to Mazatlan. She said that another staff member had actually included that in her testimony and had also been a huge part in the decision to come on staff with B2B. Well, I had to finish it, then! That night, as I was reading, the Lord did a little something. I read about a dad with a 13 year old daughter. She was rebelling, and her parents were obviously very upset about it. The night after we talked, Jason couldn’t sleep. He thought about the story his daughter was living and the role she was playing inside that story. He realized that he hadn’t provided a better role for his daughter. He hadn’t mapped out a story for his family. And so his daughter had chosen another story, a story in which she was wanted, even if she was only being used. In the absence of a family story, she’d chosed a story in which there was risk and adventure, rebellion and independence. “She’s not a bad girl, my friend said. “She was just choosing the best story available to her.” At this point, I had a huge lump in my throat. I thought about Ezra and her independent spirit. I thought about how similar she is to me and how incredibly rebellious I was and still am, at times. I knew that it was my and Grant’s responsibility to create a family story that allowed her a great role to play. “I started researching some stuff on the internet,” Jason said, “and I came across an organization that builds orphanages around the world. And that sounded to me like a pretty good ambition, something maybe my family could try to do together. It sounded like a good story.” Cue the whole body goosebumps. Ok, God, I hear you. p.s. The orphanages were in Mexico🙂 The second week, a small group of 16 arrived. Grant followed the “group schedule,” which consisted of a meeting in the morning and spending the rest of the day at one of the children’s homes completing work projects then play time with the kids. The girls and I participated in some group activities but had to be back at the Team House for nap time. A few times I felt like the girls were in the way of the work projects needing completing, but the Lord always allowed us to connect with some kids before leaving, confirming our visit that day. I also drove to the grocery and got gas during this week! The last day, several staff, the group, and our family went to the aquarium with the kids from Salvation Army. For most of the kids, it was their first time! It was incredible seeing how excited they were to see the sea lion show, sharks, alligators, etc. Ezra and Evie had a wonderful trip. There are 8 children that are part of the staff families, and the girls loved spending time with them. Ezra even got to attend a sleep-over with the other girls. She cried when we left and asked if we could live in Mazatlan forever🙂 While still a lot to process, Grant and I will continue to move forward as the Lord allows. There are still several steps before anything “official” would happen. In the meantime, we would be so grateful if you would continue to pray for our family. This is obviously a huge decision, and we want to be careful to not get ahead of the Lord. We will keep praying that the Lord directs our steps and that we will obey whatever He asks of us. Feel free to check out our pics from the trip!! If you have any specific questions or would like to know a little more detail about our time spent in Mazatlan, please let me know! https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10200483521226803.1073741826.1120447828&type=1&l=717b741f87 Please check out Back2Back‘s site, too! There are many opportunities for short-term trips, as well as more information on how Back2Back serves the orphan child.

What’s next for us?

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It’s been almost 3 months, since my last post. And, our lives have changed a great deal! First, our foster son is now in another placement. I think it will be quite some time, until I’m able to accurately describe what that experience meant for my family. I know the Lord will be revealing His purpose for those 9 months well into the future. We’re feeling a mixture of emotions but are confident that the Lord has His hand on that little life.

Our next bit of news is that Grant and I are returning to Mazatlan, Mexico, with our girls. After we returned from our previous trip there, Grant and I committed to praying about what the Lord may have for us regarding orphan care. We obviously were still fostering at that point but felt the Lord possibly moving us in another direction. After a few days (we thought this time of prayer would last months!), it was clear that the Lord wanted us to reach out to Back2Back, the ministry with whom we had partnered in Mazatlan. That led to setting up our upcoming trip. We’ll be there for two weeks, one week working alongside the current staff in Mazatlan. Then, one more week with a small group completing projects at the children’s homes. We pray that the Lord will give us (and the staff) clear confirmation about if the Keys family could have a future in Mazatlan.

What we want is to be on staff in Mazatlan. What we want more is to be where God wants us. Please pray!

Back from México!

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Grant and I have just returned home from, what I hope, is a permanently life-altering trip. We spent the last week in Mazatlan, Mexico, a beautiful coastal city on the Pacific. 11 months ago, when we started our Radical Experiment, we committed to setting aside a week of our year to “give our time in another context.” On January 12th, I wrote this post. Since then, as many of you know, we became foster parents. The idea of leaving behind 3 kids made the idea of a mission trip seem impossible. But, God wanted us in Mazatlan, so everything just fell in to place.

Grant and I had a week of time off that would expire at the end of the year, so we were looking at different vacation options. Both of us really were interested in a mission trip but couldn’t figure out how to make it work with the kids. On October 29th, I went to Bible Study and asked that my group would pray that a mission opportunity would open up for us before the end of the year. That same night, a friend mentioned how she had heard Beth  Guckenberger speak at her church and the impact it had on her life. I remembered reading Beth’s book Reckless Faith earlier in the year and the longing it stirred up in my heart to spend time in Mexico…a desire I’d had since high school. Another friend suggested I check out Back2Back, a local organization that serves orphans in Mexico, India, Africa, and now Haiti. I’m not sure why I hadn’t thought of it earlier, as I had already went on a mission trip with them in the past. I decided to look at their website that night to see if there were any trips that we could join. So, long story short, the Lord allowed several things to work out, and we booked the trip that week!

The week leading up to the trip was incredibly difficult for me. I was wrought with anxiety, so much so that I was starting to dread leaving for the trip. I understand now why that time was so rough. Satan did not want me and Grant in Mazatlan!

Back2Back recently launched its program in Mazatlan at the beginning of this year. Currently, the staff on site work with three different childrens’ homes: one focused on teenage girls, another for special needs children, and the third, a Salvation Army home. Each day we would visit one of the 3 homes, usually completing a work project first, then hanging out with the kids for the rest of the day. Our work projects included starting razor wire on the top of a fence, lots of painting, and mixing and pouring concrete. If you have been looking for some way to “give back,” or if God has begun to speak to you about your role in orphan care, I strongly suggest that you check out this organziation! http://back2back.org/

While on the trip, the Lord really worked on both of our hearts. I had no anxiety the entire time we were there, which is a real miracle for me recently! We had a lot of time to spend with Jesus, undistracted and quiet. The Lord protected our travel and our health. We truly had a richly blessed week. The Lord continued to protect at the airport on the way home. While standing in line for Customs at Dallas, our flight attendant rushed up to me. By the grace of God, a flight attendant on our flight had just happened to look down and found my driver’s license who knows where, recognized me, and sought me out of tons of people in the line at Customs.

This trip was unique in that there were only 7 of us, 5 participants and 2 staff members from the main office in Cincinnati. This allowed me a lot of time to get to know some of the staff that are on site in Mazatlan. I was able to talk about what life was like there for a mother. I loved that I was able to work alongside Grant, serving the homes and the kids, throughout the week. However, if Grant and I were on staff there, it would not look quite the same. Grant would be out working every day, while I would be at home with the kids. The staff women with kids do a whole lot in the background for Back2Back, while also caring for their children. I was so thankful to see how this would look for us, if we lived there.

This trip was different than I was expecting. I have been on several mission trips, and they always give me that “mountain top” experience. The high only lasts for a short time, though, once I’m gone. This feels more…permanent, I guess would be the word. I was expecting to bond with one or two kids and feel greatly impacted by those new relationships. Instead, God used this as a time to show me that this could be our new reality. The last night of our trip, we shared our “picture of the day.” Most days, I would think of this “God moment” right away. That night, I just felt sadness that the trip was over. While I missed our kids, I was not ready to leave this city, these orphans. Right before my turn, the Lord just overwhelmed me with the thought that this wasn’t the end for us in Mazatlan. We would be back. It was startling and gave me goose bumps! We were asked to think about one word that would describe our trip. I experienced so much this week. The Lord moved my heart in some dramatic ways. Trying to figure out one word to describe so much was hard. Broken. I met many broken children. I met staff who had been broken for these children. And, God broke my heart, too. I have an ache for these kids that seem to live in a whole other world. I pray that He leaves that ache there, so I will not grow weary of praying for them or whatever else He has in store for my family, regarding orphan care.

Perlita

The last part of the trip, I read a book called Anything. Essentially, the author and her husband told the Lord that they would do anything that He asked of them. She talked about praying and surrending each “big” thing in their lives, things that could take the place or priority over God: house, career, kids, money, etc. I thought about all the things that I hold on to for dear life-my family, my health, my comfort. I’m not sure exactly what the Lord is preparing us to do, but I want to be ready to say YES, whatever it is, whatever the cost. God, we’ll do anything. Anything!

Mazatlan

Another Divine Appointment

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He did it again. The Lord allowed us to be a part of a clearly orchestrated divine appointment. (Click here to read about the first crazy meeting the Lord set up!) And boy did I need it. The last five months (can you believe it’s been that long!) have been very, very difficult. My emotions have ranged from excitement to despair to anger to frustration to deep depression. I have questioned over and over if we made a wrong decision with becoming foster parents. I rack my brain trying to think about if this was something that I had pursued, because I wanted it…that maybe I had misread all the seemingly clear and loud confirmations from the Holy Spirit. I have begged the Lord for some sort of sign that we are in fact obeying what He had called us to in January. I had pleaded for hope, even a tiny shred, as I did not feel I could go on much longer. Well, He gave me a lot more than a shred this morning.

During our foster son’s visitation, we decided to go to breakfast. I could see Evie smiling at a couple sitting next to us. I looked over and recognized them. I thought they looked like someone we had met while volunteering at Southbrook, a church we attended about 5 years ago. Turns out, it WAS them. I’ll condense the conversation.

Me-We’re having breakfast, while our foster son is at visitation. Them-We’re foster parents, too! Do you happen to know…? She’s our neighbor and friend. Me-Yes!! She’s the case aide that monitors his visits. Them-Do you still go to Southbrook? Me-No, we attend Apex now. Them-I know it’s a big church, but do you happen to know…? I work with her.  Me-Yes! They’re our House Church leaders!

*Our case aide is also a gift from Jesus. She’s a Christian and has been the person with whom we’ve had the most contact.

*Our HC leader had actually talked to me about this family several times and their experience with fostering!! She never told me their name, so I didn’t make any connection until this evening.

The whole “random” meeting blew me away. We had planned on going to another restaurant and decided to eat at this place, at the last minute. I’m so very grateful that He, despite the fact that I did not deserve it at all, confirmed that we are where we should be. Thank you, Jesus!!

Now for an update of the past two months…the last time I posted was in the midst of the worst of the worst. I had just read a blog post written by an adoptive mom that gave the time frame of 3-4 months as the “starting to get better” stage. She was right! Things did start to improve soon after my last post. Our foster son is now bonded to both Grant and myself. He’s sleeping and eating wonderfully. He’s saying words and signing a ton, right along with Evie! He is a different child.

Grant and I were invited to a meeting for him next month and will be given an opportunity to share. We’ve compiled some information, detailing his behavior when he was first placed compared to now. WHAT A DRAMATIC DIFFERENCE. I guess I try to not think about what it was like in the beginning.

So, you would think I’d be jumping for joy right now, since he’s doing awesome and life should be easier, right? Well, I’m certainly thankful that he’s settled in to our family. However, this will make it a hell of a lot harder when the day comes for him to reunify with his birthmom. While that has always been the goal, it is now infinitely more difficult to imagine him leaving our family. Initially, we were told that he would probably be with us for a year. We have found out that he could be reunified much sooner than that.

I seriously do not understand how to do this foster parent thing well. We have felt very isolated during this process, as we don’t know well any current foster parents. What I needed the past five months is for another foster mom to tell me that what I’m feeling is normal, that I’m not crazy. My friend Kate,  a former foster parent and mother of 7, said it well. If the church was doing its job of caring for the orphans, there would be tons of support. I would never feel isolated, trying to figure out if I was slowly going insane. I could call 5 families for encouragement. But, the church is not stepping up. I’ve posted this stat before, and it’s staggering. According to this website, in 2011, there were 2,789 kids waiting to be adopted in the state of Ohio. Guess how many churches there are in Ohio? 14,657.

You can probably think of 10 good reasons why you shouldn’t foster or adopt. I get it. I had my list, too. Obviously, it’s not easy, either. It sucks for a lot of the time. BUT…don’t you want to be a part of the church body rallying together to eliminate this ridiculous idea of kids WAITING FOR A HOME? Shouldn’t we be WAITING TO ADOPT KIDS?!?

I’ll end with this really cool translation of a verse I’m sure you’ve heard. By the way, we just upped our foster/adopt license to 3 kids. We’re waiting for our next placement. Would you join us?

Psalm 68:5-6a NLT  Father to the fatherless, defender of the widows-this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families…