Saturday, May 4, 2013

Ethical questions raised

A few days ago, Jacob came home played me this interview he had heard the beginning of earlier that day. Listen to it here if you want some reference for my discussion.

I have a mixed response. Let me first address "the movement" and where we fit in, then I'll address the ethical questions of our international adoption.

In college, my best friend invited me to spend 2 weeks at an orphanage in South Africa (2003 I believe). I LOVE children in general, and my experience sealed it in my heart that I want to provide a  loving home to a child in need of parental love and care. Jacob's conviction came after a sermon that mentioned a scripture about caring for orphans and widows, but was not a strong point or specific instruction in the sermon. I had no idea that greater church leaders were organizing around this issue, nor was our decision a part of that (not that anything would be wrong with that).

This author presents the church in a cut-and-dry fashion, yet a few comments make me think she is not cynical about it, but I guess I'd have to read her book to see if she makes any judgements on the church. I think it is great that the church is being challenged to decompartmentalize what it means to be pro-life. I think it is great for any group to intentionally encourage people to care for children who are in need, either foster care or adoption. And as far as "evangelizing" being a goal, that's just what being a parent is, passing down what you are convicted is true about life. I am a bit concerned that the matter-of-fact tone of the author in this interview may construe church leaders as promoting adoption in a political or business-like  way, which is not how the bible teaches about caring for others, nor has it been my experience with the church.

And then the ethical question. From the beginning we prayed and pursued to offer our family for a child who really needed us. During several delays in our process (which were all to ensure the ethical nature of this adoption), I resubmitted my heart to whatever was best for the child. I trusted God to guide us to where we could best serve, and the US government also made sure that everyone was aware and in agreement with this adoption. The fact that his twin passed away, his growth is so behind, his multiple hospitalizations, and his physical state when we finally got him (which is remarkable as great as he is now), all confirmed for us as well that he needed a new environment, not just to thrive, but to survive. I'm thankful for the hang-ups, even though they were difficult at the time, so that we have the peace of mind now.

I hope that adoption and foster care continue to be important to the church always. I hope that international adoptions would heal their reputation, being more honest and ethical, but not necessarily more difficult for parents and children. Finally, I hope that Enam will love Ghana and feel like his biological family is still a part of him, because I know they loved him. If he grew up and connected with his family there also, I would be happy. All I want for this child is life and to glorify God. None of my children are "mine", they are God's gracious gifts that I get to nurture for a time, not to serve me, but to serve Him. We see adoption as not giving Enam a new foreign family, but enlarging his family with more people to love and care for him. Definitely you guys, our friends and family, are apart of enlarging his family as well. Thanks again for your support.

I'm already having to get used to the fact that I can't just "blend in" anymore. Now on top of dealing with more attention, this interview made me feel self-conscious. I once again had to shake off the possibility of what judgements others might have about our family. But after almost 7 years of motherhood, I know where to turn to find my identity and peace, to the providence and sovereignty of God in my life and reassured in his word. I hope this new book will help improve ethical standards in international adoptions, but would not turn people away from seeking how they may be called to care for orphans or children at risk. In fact, right after Jacob and I got married, we started sponsoring a Hope Child through World Vision. It is a child who is considered at risk for being orphaned. Our sponsorship helps supply her education and supports the economic and spiritual development of her community so that she doesn't end up in an orphanage. Its another great way to get involved.

Sunday, April 7, 2013


So much has happened since I last posted! I work best organized, so let me break it down chronologically.

Thursday morning we took a long taxi ride to Biriwa, near Cape Coast. There we met the woman who brought the Enam and his twin brother to the orphanage. Then we walked through a bit of the village to the family home of his maternal biological family. We met his gradparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and older half brother. He seemed to recognize them, it was the only time he would willingly go to anyone but Jacob or myself. I figure the grandmother must have been his primary caregiver, he was always reaching for her, even when another family member held him. There was so much I thought to say later, but at the time I was a bit overwhelmed. They did not speak english, butthe adoption worker translated for us and the family was very happy and positive about his adoption. We plan to exchange email to send them pictures and updates. I'm so thankful that they wanted to meet us. I think he will love this part of his story and the pictures as he grows up, knowing that his biological family allowed us into his family to love and care for them out of their own love and care for him.

 (left: grandmother, right: older half brother)
family home, extended family

Friday we waited at the US Embassy for about 2 hours to pick up his visa, packed up and headed to the airport early. We got through everything at the airport smoothly. Enam slept most of our international flight; Jacob and I, on the other hand, was another story. We had a 10 hour lay over at the JFK airport, so we changed clothes, took turns napping, watched movies, and played with the babe.

When we arrived, Keiran and Rylan were waiting for us with signs. Keiran came to us, but Rylan just jumped up and down and said, "I'm here, I'm here!" A group of people from church were also there to welcome us. It was great!

At first Enam did not like the car seat, but the boys entertained him and cheered him up. We grabbed Little Caesar's Pizza (they donated pizzas to feed volunteers at our fundraiser last year) and took our family home. Enam really enjoyed playing with the boys. Rylan just kept saying, "hello Enam," and waving even when right beside him. It was really cute and sweet.

He's been sleeping great in his crib too, not perfect, but has transitioned much better than I expected. I'm so thankful, sleeping was probably what I was most anxious about. I'm assuming his catch-up growth (he's no where near the growth charts right now due to his malnutrition) requires a lot of sleep!

He has a very sweet and fun-loving personality. He LOVES his brothers, and they very sweetly adore him also. Rylan tells everyone that "Enam is our baby brother." He has warmed up to me a lot and seems very comfortable in our home. It seemed our house was his first time for him to be barefoot on carpet. He's been pointing at the windows, and it was finally warm enough to play outside. We had a great time blowing bubbles, riding toys, the swing set and trampoline games (they run and wrestle more than jump).
At night, after we read a book as a family, the boys each give him a hug and kiss, and Enam just beams!  His homecoming has been so incredible sweet, a great redemption for the difficult journey to get him home.

Thanks everyone for your support in so many ways: prayers, financial support, encouraging words, scripture, facebook likes and comments, emails, and texts. Also thanks to my sweet neighbors, Michelle, Keziah, Stephanie, Ann Rose, and to our friend Chelsea and my mom for taking care of the big brothers while Jacob and I where out of country.

Jacob is back to work and school now, and I am gradually getting back to my 3 day a week schedule. It is different jumping in with a toddler and aligning our expectations. But he is great and it is much easier than a newborn at this point (certainly not the case before the homecoming).

We still have an adoption "to do" list and expenses ahead, but it is a much lighter load to carry having my family home now.

I can't say thanks enough. Hopefully the cute pictures help :)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The final wait before home

I got to Ghana Monday morning, dropped off my bags, and went straight to meet Enam and Jacob at the hospital. He was doing great, so the discharged him later that morning. The doctor said he had pneumonia, and they were covering him for malaria to be sure. Then the nurse came in and told us his iron was low and that we would need to give him a supplement (a healthier diet will help too once we can get home). She then told us he had sickle cell. When I asked if it was sickle cell disease and was this an acute chest syndrome, she said yes. I was then a bit worked up and preparing myself for caring for a chronic disease, but then I looked at the labs they drew. According to the labs he had sickle cell trait, meaning only some of his red blood cells sickle and some are normal.  This is a much better prognosis! Still I'm curios if our doctor at home will want to retest him to be sure. The good news is that our hospital bill was only about $300 for a 2 night stay, x-rays and labs! W have also been very thankful for things to work out with the delay as we would be just boarding the airplane when he got sick had our first plan worked out.

Now we are just running out the clock until we can pick up his visa and hope on a plane. We will make a quick trip Thursday to his hometown to say goodbye and maybe one last look for souvenirs.
We appreciate Ghana and all it's beauty, but we are ready to get back to home life.

Thanks to everyone who has helped care for us, our oldest boys and our home while we have been out. The support we have felt has been so amazing. I'm so happy that he will not only get to have a loving family, but also e loved by such a caring community.  Thanks again.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

I'm about an hour from flying out to Ghana! Jacob said the Enam did great today and is hopeful he will be released tomorrow.

Pray for a good night. I think we have both been pretty freaked out about finances. Money that we were supposed to have didn't come through (from more than one source and circumstances that were no fault of our own). All week there have been unexpected expenses, including hospital charges now. I think today Jacob and I are both starting to calm down and grasp hold of faith, patience and perseverance. God knows all and more than that he loves us and "has plans to prosper us." So we are shaking off the discouragement, getting our eyes back on the truth, and moving forward.

Hebrews 12 has been a huge encouragement.
(12)Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint rbut rather be healed.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Pray for healing

Jacob called me this afternoon concerned about Enam running fever and acting "out of it". He's been sick all week withe cold symptoms and diarrhea, but perky and playful between naps. But not so much today. Jacob took him to the hospital and they decide to admit him. They gave him about 3 different antibiotics and an anti malaria medication. His fever came down and he was able to be a bit playful before he fell asleep for the night.

Please pray first of all that Enam recover quickly. Second that God would provide for the medical bills.

Thank you all again. We really feel so supports by a great community of people who love our family. It's beautiful to see through this painful process.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

There's always a catch

Enam's visa has been approved!

Jacob met his biological mom today for the visa interview. He said she was happy about the adoption and was very sweet. He got a picture of her and got to show her pictures of our family. I am very thankful for that opportunity.

The catch is that they will not have the visa ready for us to pick up this Friday, but next Friday.

It's pretty expensive for me to fly out there also. Right now we are waiting on our tax return (our accountant doesn't have the estimated return yet) and some payments from work to come in, but we are not sure exactly what they will be. It could be that we have everything we need to pay for my ticket and the coming medical and legal expenses, but it is not in the bank yet nor do we know exactly the amounts. Also, our agency declared bankruptcy, so we are not getting some deposit money back either.  I debated with Jacob all day whether to take the risk and expense. I finally decided that I need to travel for the sake of being more apart of the transition out of Africa into our home. Jacob said that they would go to the village he's from and say goodbye to people there (assuming orphanage and extended family). I just couldn't miss being apart of these special moments and we will just have to trust that the adoption tax credit will really help give us that little bit more to make this happen.

Jacob is in the middle of his night's sleep as I write this, so I haven't even told him yet that I booked the flight. But it seems more right than not going. So please pray for peace and provision about the final financial matters. God has met us at every turn with what we need, I know he will again if I can turn away from my fear about spending money that is not quite in the bank yet.

Finally, I'll leave you with this picture. I was a bit stressed putting the kids to bed, just so much weighing on me and so much to do. Then, I found this in Keiran's backpack. It was so incredibly sweet, it really helped give me perspective and calm my worries.


As I pack to leave, I just have to share a few more cute pictures. I can't get over how beautiful this boy is!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Our projected plan to bring him home!

The biological mother has been located and has agreed to go to the Embassy Thursday for the visa interview.  We have been told she has a good attitude about it all and I am excited to maybe get a picture of her that Enam can keep to remember her by. 

So here is what we are hoping for this week:
Thursday: Visa interview (about 8am our time)
Friday: Visa issued
Saturday-Sunday: Jacob flies back with Enam!
Sunday: I fly up to New York to join them for the final stretch of the journey home

Please pray that it will all go well. Also please pray for Enam's health. When Jacob got him Sunday, he said his skin was very dry and he had several nasty sores on his hands and wrist. The owners of the hotel where his is staying were able to go the the pharmacy and get him some antibiotic cream. He also has a nasty cold and ran a low-grade fever this morning. Jacob said he was coughing a lot last night. Yes, this is what I do for a living, treat childhood ailments, but this is my baby and he is coming out of a completely different environment that gives me enough uncertainty to be nervous. But I'm asking for more faith to trust in God as a mighty healer, even in Africa.  

Here are some of the latest pictures:

 love this cute smile!

Check out those eyelashes!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Visa interview #2

Jacob took Enam to the visa interview today. The good news, other than Jacob getting to spend time with him and take lots of cute pictures, is that they accepted the police report as evidence of the biological father's neglect. The bad news is that they are still insisting on us bringing the biological mom in for the interview. It is disappointing, but it still may be possible to get the visa done this week if we can get someone to give our in-country contacts more information about her whereabouts. We also have one of our congressmen emailing the Embassy on our behalf.

I guess I don't feel completely surprised to have yet another hang-up, but I still feel very hopeful. Maybe it's easier since this may be the last week of adoption bureaucracy.  We also feel very supported in this by our church community, friends, co-workers, and family. We have a great sense of the prayerful support that is carrying us through.

Thank again to everyone who has emailed, texted, or facebook messaged us scriptures, prayers, and encouraging words.  Even the likes on my facebook make me feel supported.

I really feel like we are close. I also feel a great sense of peace knowing that Jacob is there loving a caring for him. I'm so thankful God gave me a man that loves Him and his children so well.  I'm so glad another sweet boy is getting to enjoy the great father that Jacob is.

So here are some great pictures that Jacob has taken. (and may I give a shout out to Apple for the wonderful blessing the iPhone has been! FaceTime and for free! And photos automatically upload and are available to me through the data Cloud. Technology can be pretty great sometimes)

Sunday reunion!

 Dinner with Dad, starting to figure out the sippy cup

 Dressed up for the visa interview (Jacob had to wake him up from a nap)

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Holding our breath!

Jacob has purchased his tickets to fly over for the visa appointment!

I thought having a plan would get me excited, but instead I felt, all of the sudden, very frustrated and angry. I couldn't bear counting down the days, I wanted this whole ordeal done now.  I guess my patience and optomism ran completely out with this last complication. For a couple of days I just felt like I was under a dark cloud.

But earlier this week the sweet care of my family and friends softened my heart. Then I read the boys Lenten devotional: first about Jesus walking on water (Matthew 14:22-36), and then the scripture about faith as small as a mustard seed moving mountains (Matthew 17:20). As I first read to the boys about Peter stepping out of the boat and getting frightened by the wind, I got emotional. I saw myself in Peter, how sure I felt stepping out of this metaphoric boat, exercising great faith at first. But now, like Peter, I felt afraid of harm, I was weak, yet Jesus reaches out for us nonetheless and has compassion and mercy to keep us from sinking. Then the next devotional reminding us what even a little faith can see because the one we trust is so great.

Last night, as I was about to fall asleep, I thought to myself, "I'm going to have faith that good WILL happen on this trip." I tend to protect myself by being pessimistic, generally. I've jokingly said in the past that I'd rather be suprised than dissapointed. What actually happens is that I expect God to give me just enough to get by, or something that will require me to work really hard to get it to eventually be something good.  But over and over, God blesses me way beyond my expectations.  It is not a pleasant suprise so much as it is a humbling realization of my small faith.

So this time I am hopeful and having faith that God will bless our family, and care for my heart if it does not look exactly like I expect. I'm turning my eyes back to Jesus to be reminded of his great love and power, and I know all will be well with my soul (love that hymn) if I keep my eyes on Jesus. (Sounds kinda of religiously corny I guess, but I mean it from the deepest, truest part of myself.)

Continue to pray for us and the Embassy officials deciding his visa case. Thanks for your support again.

Monday, February 25, 2013

We could be close!?

And the saga continues...

The good news is that we have even more documentation for the visa interview, the only concern is that the bio mother could not be located, so the social welfare office had to write up a report instead of being able to present the mom for the visa interview.

Now our agency contact is encouraging us to show up for the interview to hopefully encourage things to move along. The tentative plan is for Jacob to go in a couple of weeks for the next visa interview.  If they say it all looks good, I'll book a flight and meet him there to help bring Enam home. If they do not accept the documentation we have, then Jacob will probably come home and we'll keep trying.

Those are the facts. I can't speak for Jacob, but I am feeling weary. I feel like I'm in the labor phase. We are close, but here comes the hardest part of the waiting. We are so close, but its so painful it seems unbearable. But if 2 natural childbirths have taught me anything, its that however hard and difficult and inconceivable the experience of birthing a child seems at the time, it really is paled in comparison to the beauty and joy in the child that it produces.  Maybe this is part of the reason God provided me the 2 natural childbirths, to prepare me for this difficult and frustrating process.

Obviously, I am struggling to remain hopeful and grateful. But just like in the birthing of my first 2 boys, when I am weak, God is strong. If I can do some deep breathing, relax, trust God's orchestration of events, lean on my husband, and keep sight of the end, I just may be able to bear the unbearable to the glorious end, whatever that end may be. Thanks again for all you prayers and support.

Picture time: My act of love as I wait is this blanket! I have a few embellishments left, but its done enough to cuddle him in.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Kid and Kitchen

   Last Tuesday was the visa interview. The report back is that it went well, but the Embassy wants to interview the bio mom and wants a copy of the police report she filed against the bio dad for not paying child support. Our agency told us this is a routine request, but we were still a bit disappointed to have yet another hold up.
   Our in-country contact is supposed to be getting the police report this week and the social welfare worker locating mom for the interview. We are praying for progress this week. The visa is the LAST thing we need approved to be able to travel and bring him home.

We are keeping distracted from the wait with home renovations! This weekend, my parents came up to hang out with the boys and help us put up a backsplash. We still need to grout, but its close enough for some before and after pictures. Here is a list of all we've done over the last couple of months:
- demolition (so happy to tear out the ugly, old countertops!)
- Replaced ceiling fans
- removed old heating unit and replaced paneling
- painted EVERYTHING
- striped old metal mesh on the under sink doors
- new hardware and striped old hardware to reuse as well
- cabinets and drawers constructed (hired out)
- new light fixture above the sink
- new faux wood blinds
- replaced light switches and outlets as well as covers
- new COUNTERTOPS! (hired out of coarse)
- new sink
- new faucet (became a necessity as I broke our old one during painting)
- tiled backsplash

BEFORE: (really an "after". We replaced the gold dishwasher and half-broken gold stove as soon as we moved in about a year and a half ago)

Next, we will grout the backsplash, debate spending the time and money to extend the backsplash around behind the stove, and make a bulletin board to put above the desk and thereby clean off the fridge. I've been so eager to show it off, though, I wanted to go ahead and post the pictures. We are so excited to have a nice kitchen! Especially those of you who saw how tiny our kitchen was at our last house, can appreciate what a huge blessing this is for our growing family. The sink is really deep on one side and I can't wait for Enam to enjoy sink baths while he's still small enough (well, it may be a stretch, but we'll do it just for fun).

So if you pray for and with us, thank God for his blessing our family with this beautiful home and how he provides for us through it and ask for good news soon on bringing Enam home to "make our family complete," in Keiran's words.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

OMG (not taking God's initial in vain)

Enam's visa interview is scheduled for next Tuesday morning!  Best case scenario, it will be approved  and ready by the end of next week. It's possible that they may want a further investigation (again), but we think we will get that feedback next week if it is so.

I almost can't imagine it! I think there is still part of me that is guarding my heart.  Yet soon, we could be bringing him home and making him part of our family!

Oh, I hope this last step does not drag out. Please pray for us and for what is best for Enam.
(And for the flu season to calm down so work doesn't miss me too much.)

I am ready for maternity leave and watching my family grow!

FYI: the kitchen remodel should finish up next week too. I can't wait to show you the before and after!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Getting closer!

This week was my best friend's birthday and she generously wished for good news on our adoption. Well, thank you Allie!

Yesterday, our in-country-coordinator picked up our visa packet and took Enam (Christopher) for his medical exam. Now our agency has requested his visa interview be the first week of February! If all goes smoothly, his visa could be ready about 3 days after the interview date. We've had enough set backs and complications to know to give ourselves a buffer before hopping on a plane. Still, it looks like we may get to bring him home in February after all!

So just one more step before we get the final approval to pick him up and bring him home. I almost can't believe it! I'll let you know generally about the time we will be traveling and let you know for sure when we will be home (with pictures of course). Pray that it does go smoothly and we can bring him home soon and at just the right time.

Posts are more interesting with pictures, so here's a brotherly love one for you all.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Back on track

(Sorry for the delay in posting. Since November, my life has been crazy from just about every angle. And with the holidays, I really tried to focus what time I had on making it special for my family.)  On to the adoption saga!

Here's basically what happened over the last 3 months! We got paperwork from Enam's biological father in Novemberish, but the immigration office was still not satisfied with the documents. In early December, our agency got more documents to the immigration office and the Friday before Christmas we got word that his orphan status had been approved! This week the documents should arrive at US embassy in Ghana for the final steps.

What are the final steps, you ask? He will have another medical exam and the biological parents will be interviewed. We were told we could travel 10 days after the interview. So yes, a few more steps, but the next word we will hear are our travel dates!

My life is still unusually dramatic and busy right now, but perseverance is my motto (after reading everyone's new year's posts, maybe I should make it the theme of my year huh?!). I'm having faith that this is just a season and good things are in the making.

Now, to redeem myself for my lack of posting, here are some cute pictures of my family!
Happy Thanksgiving!

First day of Advent!

(Sap hands)

Trampoline  picnic!

Pirate costume from Grancy Christmas Eve at home!

 New superhero capes fit great!

Advent candles all lit!

Christmas Round 3: Nana Claus!

 Rylan, in character till the last minute
New Year! (New kitchen)
 We are remodeling our kitchen, so the boys are finding new ways to entertain themselves during our numerous trips to Home Depot.