Friday, November 28, 2008

"Currently out of Food..."

Just wanted to let you all know of the situation at the orphanage where the kids are living. Angel, our Liberia contact here in the states sent this message to us this last Wednesday...

Adoptive Parents,

I wanted to update you about the current need at your child's
orphanage. I received word today that they are currently out of food.
Because adoptions were on hold in Liberia for about 7 months at the
beginning of the year, there was a drastic decrease in orphanage
support that comes from the adoption fees. As you know, there is a$3000 orphanage support fee that is part of your adoptions. (This fee
decreases by $1000 for a second adoption and by another $1000 for a
third adoption.) These fees are paid in part when an adoptive
family's dossier goes to Liberia and then the rest is paid at the endof the adoption. At this time, the effect of the hold is being felt.

At the same time, a sponsorship program that has been in place forthe children here in the US has dwindled in sponsors, so that less than half of the children are sponsored at this time. Work is being done on a sponsorship website that should be up and running in about two weeks that should help with this need. The website and this part of the sponsorship program will be run through Christian Adoption Services, and the money that is contributed will be sent monthly for the orphanages.

At this time, enough money is being wired to Liberia to make sure that they children have food over the next few weeks. There is also a container of food that is on its way to the port in Liberia and should be available to the children sometime mid-December.

I wanted to let you all know this, so that you can pray and be informed about the situation. I don't want to create fear in any of you. Know that the caretakers at the orphanages are doing their best to take care of your children under difficult circumstances. We at CAS are doing what we can to secure funds and help create long term solutions. We are wiring $1000 for food today.


It is so easy for me to take for granted the fact that we had food today... more than enough... that we have pillows and blankets and clothes and someone to hug us when we need to hugged. It is not so with everyone... please pray for all the children who go without the things that we have in abundance... wherever they live around the world. Ask the Lord to move in us, his people, to reach out and rise up, and do what is needed to show his love, compassion and care to those He came to save.

When Angel gets me the link for sponsoring children... I will pass it on here in case anyone is interested.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"Things planned long ago..."

O LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago.

Isa. 25:1

The time has come to let the world know... we have been matched with 2 children from Liberia!! Yup. It's true... no more wondering who they will be, and where they will come from, and what they may look like. We KNOW!! Incredible.

We have actually known from the beginning, when we chose to pursue adoption from Liberia. Sorry... it had to be kept a secret (which the kids did AMAZINGLY well at...) b/c we were matched "out of order". Normally, we would have done all the paperwork to apply to the international agency, and then would have been matched after it was all reviewed and approved. Well, b/c we had a practically finished home-study, and they had worked with our home-study agency before... they allowed us to look at the pix of some of the kids from the orphanage that were available. We expressed interest in 2 sibling groups, and they pretty much asked us to choose one to be saved for us!! And... so we did. Obviously, that was a huge part of us choosing to go international... one that we couldn't share until now.

For when you did awesome things that we did not expect, you came down, and the mountains trembled before you. Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.

Isa 64:3 & 4

So, without further ado, please allow me the ultimate pleasure of introducing you to our next adventures... our Liberian beauties... our new children...

Kelvin and Hawa! They are both 5 years old at the moment. Kelvin turns 6 in December, and Hawa just had her birthday, and turned 5 in mid-November. We really don't have a ton of info about them. We know they are orphans, in the most basic sense of the word... they do not have living birth parents. They were brought to the orphanage this past August by a birth relative who could no longer care for them. They are of the Kru tribe. Their health is generalized as "good". That's about all we know. But NEVER has so little information excited us like this before!! :)

We cannot wait to hold them! Anika and Asher are so excited to be with them! Anika has already asked if she can go with Hawa to her Sunday School class so she won't feel scared. :) Too cute. (I think it will be a long time before we do anything without them right by our sides... but she was already thinkin' ahead!)

Kelvin and Hawa (I just really like writing their names...) do not yet know they have a family trying to bring them home. They will not know until our paperwork goes to Liberia. At that time, we can send some flat albums with our pictures to them so that they know what we look like. Most likely that could be the only "contact" we have with them before we meet them. There is just no real mail system there... no UPS truck driving down the dirt road... we've heard the potholes could eat it alive! It's possible to send a few letters to them with another family who travels to Liberia to pick up their kids, if we find that another family will be going there before we do.

Our ETF (Estimated Time Frame... ya... I made that up... cheesy, I realize) has not changed. We really cannot guess at when we will be able to pick them up. Things here in the US are almost complete... but then our dossier gets sent to Liberia, and it's in their hands. Well... let me re-phrase that... it's in GOD'S HANDS, right?? :) But, the process there can be a bit slow b/c, for the most part, they are dealing with no electricity or phones, or computers... at least at the orphanage. Their court system seems to be running smoothly at the time, so we'll see what that means for us in the months to come. Please pray, pray , pray!

We just see that the Lord has brought us through so many possible situations in the past year, but here we are... and he has given us the desires of our hearts. He has done it all...

Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light And your judgment as the noonday.

Psalm 37:3-7

And if you give yourself to the hungry And satisfy the desire of the afflicted, Then your light will rise in darkness And your gloom will become like midday. "And the LORD will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail. "Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins; You will raise up the age-old foundations; And you will be called the repairer of the breach, The restorer of the streets in which to dwell.

Isa. 58:10-12

Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield. For our heart rejoices in Him, because we trust in His holy name. Let Your lovingkindness, O LORD, be upon us, according as we have hoped in You.

Psalm 33:20-22

Friday, November 7, 2008

A "Seuss-ism" to Celebrate

I have always loved Dr. Seuss books. Some of his lesser-known ones are some of his best, if you ask me. I read a phrase tonight to the kids... or rather, I TRIED to read it, but ended up giggling because I was totally, terrifically, turbulently tongue-tied. Yeah... YOU try to say it... out loud, without slowing down... and see if it's as easy as you think!! :)

"And now comes an act of Enormous Enormance!

No former performer's performed this performance!"

(taken from "If I Ran the Circus")

Clever, isn't it? Completely taken out of context, it somehow reminded me of God. He's the one who does enormous acts of importance, and who does things that we have never seen or even imagined! How great is our God!

Along those lines, let me just share a few ways that he's blown us over with mini-miracles in the last 3 weeks...

*Jason applied for his passport on October 21st. His passport ARRIVED at our house on October 31st!!! 10 days! That's incredible!

*We were given our fingerprinting appointment today after sending in the US Citizenry & Immigration paperwork just a week and a half ago! I don't know how long that usually takes, but I was NOT expecting it to be that fast!

*Our home study is virtually updated and re-done for Liberia (in just a two week period!) we are just waiting on our background check to be updated, and a few letters to be finished. So fast!

*In just 3 weeks, to the day, of deciding to move towards Liberia, God has accomplished ALL of this! It's really quite incredible to us!

Obviously, there is still a long road ahead, but we are excited to be able to testify to the Lord's goodness, even in these small (but HUGE to us) areas.

"Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen."
Ephesians 3:20-21

Praise to the one who does acts of "enormous enormance" and can out-perform any "former performance"!!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

An attempt to be thoughtful

I get asked the same questions a lot these days. They are great questions... and ones that deserve a thoughtful answer. So, I'll attempt to be thoughtful! :)
I was asked some wonderful questions recently by someone I love, for her own curiosity and to be able to share my explanation with others who will inevitably ask her. I so appreciated talking with her about it all, and I realized that I sometimes forget that other people care to know the details and the "whys" of our lives & decisions! So, here is a compilation of some questions from various people, as well as some that I anticipate people may wonder, but not want to ask.

Why Africa? Why, when we decided to go international for our adoption, did we decide to go for Africa? Why not try to adopt children who share common roots or nationality with us? Some of you may be wondering, "Why not try to 'blend in' a bit more and add children to our family who will not "stick out" and be noticeably different from us in some obvious ways?" It's a fair question...

Our main reason is that God gave me a draw toward Africa and beautiful black children long, long ago. I remember thinking that I wanted to adopt from Africa someday... back when I was in middle school. I wanted so badly to go to Africa when I was in highschool on a mission/work trip, but it was just too costly. I can't really explain it... I can only tell you that I believe with all my heart that the Lord put a love in me for a very specific people-group... because he knew what my future held. We assumed that if we found kids within the foster care system, they would most likely have been African-American. Then God closed doors and directed us elsewhere. That is why Africa... we didn't even think about any other continents... God had already directed our hearts.

It struck me yesterday as I thought more about this, that as people who love God, we are not called to "blend in". Life's purpose is not to do the easiest thing, or make the least amount of waves, or to be comfortable. In fact, we are called-out & set-apart from the things of this world... we are asked to take the narrow road. Why? For the glory and honor of God.
Now, was our "goal" to become a trans-racial family just to proove a point? Not at all. It just never bothered us that we may look different from other families. We are not naive... we know that many people will judge us and some will even hate what we stand for. I will feel the pain of that in my heart, mainly as I grieve for the things I will have to teach my children about their fellow human-beings, and what those things will cause my children to carry in their lives. But I don't want to let our decision be about the ability to blend in to those around us. This is not about my ease and comfort... it is about one thing, and one thing only. God tells us to care for the orphans and widows. We desire to obey that directive because it was important enough for God to repeat over and over and over to us in his word. Kinda makes me think it's important. :) Not everyone can/will adopt children, but everyone can care for them in some way. There are almost unlimited options as to how that may be done... our way is to bring them into our family, to be their parents, to love them and provide for their needs, & to teach them, above all, that God intensely loves them.
Who knows, maybe God can use us to visibly demonstrate his kind of love to others; a love that accepts and lavishes care upon us because we need him, and more simply... because he delights in us. These children we adopt will be given the full "rights" that come with being our children. If God can choose to adopt us as his children, and freely offer us redemption, forgiveness, and an incredible inheritance... then surely, we can choose to extend love and hope and family-ties to those who are in need, even though they are strangers to us right now... no matter their color or language, or situation.

Why Liberia? Out of all the countries in Africa... why Liberia?
Well, there really aren't all that many countries within Africa that are open to adopt from. We really knew only of Ethiopia and Liberia to be ones that our agency worked with, and that were still actively adopting their children out. We saw a great need in both places, but were drawn to Liberia for several reasons. There were many, many children...400 this one orphanage (which is one of many in the capital city of Monrovia), and they were already living there and waiting for families. In Ethiopia, we would most likely wait longer to be matched. We actually were able to see pictures of many of these children... and seeing the numbers of children waiting was incentive to act! Aslo- adoption is expensive internationally, and we felt we could adopt a sibling group in Liberia, but that it would be more difficult to do the same in Ethiopia, for monetary reasons. (Obviously, that wouldn't have deterred us if we had specific direction to go to Ethiopia, we know God would have pulled it all together... but we were open to either country.)

Is it really a good idea to take children away from all they know and bring them to America? Is that what is really best for them?

Great question. No easy answer here. I absolutely do not think that adoption is the end-all answer to the world's problem of poverty and disease. No way. It is a solution for a relative few... but does not solve the huge, tragic state of things. We have to step-up and open our eyes to the immense need outside of our tunnel view. I heard Beth Moore convey that, if we have the means to own just one book... and we have the education & ability to READ the words that are within it, then we are among the absolute wealthiest people in the world. We (and by "we", I also mean "I") just do not have a clue what extreme poverty is like.

I struggle with the idea of removing these kids from their place of birth. I would much prefer that they have some wonderful options for care in their native country, so they would not have to make huge life-adjustments. I wish that we could mend the brokenness of Liberia. I wish we could see them have food supplies each day, have medical care so that the kids could expect to live beyond childhood, to have drinking water that is safe and won't give them diseases, and to have jobs and more opportunities for education. That is just something I cannot make happen. Our adoption raises the question of if it is really best for these kids to be taken away from their native country. It is not the ideal. Ideally, their birth parents would be alive and healthy and able to feed them a meal each day. Ideally, they could be raised in Liberia in good health and not have a pretty good chance of dying from dysentary or malaria, or yellow fever. So, no... it is not ideal, but it does offer some hope for life.

Interestingly, many birth parents or relatives who cannot care for their children bring them to the orphanages and are incredibly thankful that "the kids will have opportunity and a chance at life"- those are their words to the orphanage staff. It's hard for us to fathom bringing our children to an orphanage because we cannot care for them... but for Liberians in that situation, they are grateful there is that option. I have to try to remember that we are not taking them away from a good or hopeful situation. We are bringing them out of a place where they have no where else to be, but in an orphanage... waiting and hoping that a mommy and daddy will pick them one day.

It is our understanding that he orphanage does its best to feed at least one meal per day to the children. Sometimes the food & clothing supplies are robbed, and they go without, but for the most part, it sounds like the kids have the best care possible in their situation. There are school lessons for kids age 6 and up, and training in a trade for the many older children who will "age out" of the system... being too old to be adopted and given citizenship in the states. They are taught about the Lord and "dorm moms" try to dole out hugs and attention. They are safe, and that's a very big deal.

OK... enough from me. Hope this helps to answer a few questions, it was good for me to think it all through and record some thoughts. :)