Friday, July 29, 2011

Love Letters

For each of my children, I keep a journal.  I write little love letters to them, here and there, throughout the years, whenever it occurs to me to do so.  I write down the funny, cute things they say.  I write down their likes, dislikes, favorites, best friends, dreams, snippets of conversations, of their personality and spirit.  Sometimes I have gone a full year without writing in the journals; other times I have written four or five times in one month.  There are no rules.  Just a book full of letters.  Someday I will give them their journals, and pray that they mean as much to them as they mean to me.  

I first wrote in Isaac's journal in November of 1999.  Derek and I were married in August 1999, so I am actually surprised, looking back now, that I started his journal THREE MONTHS after the wedding?  Wow, I had forgotten how soon after our wedding I had started that.  Oh, and by the way, Isaac was born October 2002, years after that first entry.  Who says a love letter cannot be written to somebody before they exist?  Because I already knew that I loved him very much, even then.  

And so it was with great joy that I began to shop for a new journal recently.  Because I have so much I want to say to Gideon.  My son.  True, I don't know him yet.  I have never met this child.  I don't have cute sayings or cherished memories to record.  But I do have words of love.  And so I am filling the first pages of Gideon's new journal with love letters, in the hopes that someday, they may be precious to him.  A record of how very much he was loved, even before he knew that I existed.  

And I am eagerly awaiting the day that I will have my dear Gideon home with me, when I will have so many things to write about.  Just hoping I will have enough energy at the end of the day to pick up a pen!  

Who says a love letter cannot be written to somebody before they know you exist?  I already know that I love Gideon very much.  He is my son, and I am his mom, and this is a record of that love.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The heart of our Father

An awesome message about the heart of our Father:

Thank you to Amy, sweet little Pauline's new mommy, for sharing this video!
I had to repost it here because it is worth
more than

Orphan Sunday 2011 from Christian Alliance for Orphans on Vimeo.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Message from Jesus!

Have you heard of this book?
I love this book!  
And I love Jesus more after reading this book!


Heaven Is for Real is the true story of the four-year-old son of a small town Nebraska pastor who during emergency surgery slips from consciousness and enters heaven. He survives and begins talking about being able to look down and see the doctor operating and his dad praying in the waiting room. The family didn't know what to believe but soon the evidence was clear.
Colton said he met his miscarried sister, whom no one had told him about, and his great grandfather who died 30 years before Colton was born, then shared impossible-to-know details about each. He describes the horse that only Jesus could ride, about how "reaaally big" God and his chair are, and how the Holy Spirit "shoots down power" from heaven to help us.
Told by the father, but often in Colton's own words, the disarmingly simple message is heaven is a real place, Jesus really loves children, and be ready, there is a coming last battle.

This is an awesome true story!

I read it in one sitting.  It's pretty hard to put down.  One of my favorite messages of the entire book is about how much Jesus loves children.  He really really loves the children!  Really really!  (Gotta love how a four-year-old communicates messages of truth from our Lord!)  If you ever start questioning whether it is logical to spend $25,000 to ransom one child out of an institution, just reread the words of Jesus as told by little Colton.  Jesus loves each child so very much, so we should, too.  It's that simple.  If we are loving the children, we are doing God's will.  

We don't need to sit around waiting for a big booming voice, accompanied by a hand reaching down from heaven with airline tickets extended and dossier already completed, addressed, and ready to submit.  It'd be nice, but apparently that's not how He chooses to run the show.  He has too many lessons to teach us and muscles to strengthen along the journey.  A lot of polishing to be done.  Refiner's fire, and all that.  So we keep going in faith, and we trust that He will work it all for good.  Because He loves the children.

Another really beautiful message from this book involved Colton's sister.  A sister who had been lost due to miscarriage before Colton was born.  Colton assured his parents that she is happy and loved in heaven, because she has been adopted by the Father.  Adopted!  She is not alone.  She is loved so very much, and she is waiting eagerly in heaven to hug her family again.  Awesome, right?  Can you imagine the joy that must have brought to her mommy and daddy's heart to hear?    

And one final thought on this book.  Todd Burpo, the author, is one of my favorite authors now, for this reason:  he helped to save my daughter's life.  

Colton Burpo suffered from appendicitis.  His appendix burst and he required emergency surgery.  And I just read this book last month.  And honestly, I had never known about the symptoms of appendicitis.  Had I not just read this book, I would have thought my darling Gracie just had the flu when she began to act ill last week.  She was vomiting and had a fever.  Kids do that, know what I mean?  Really, she did not seem all that sick.  But I had just read Heaven is for Real, and by Friday morning, her symptoms seemed a little too suspicious to me.  She was holding her tummy, lower right side to be exact, and started moaning and screaming, and that was the clue that tipped me off that this was no flu bug attacking my baby.  But really, she only did that for about ten minutes.  

I scooped her up, rushed her to the ER, and by the time we got there, she was calm and quiet.  Miserable, yes, but when the doctors asked her where it hurt, she just said, "My tummy."  The doctors did not initially believe anything serious was going on, because what they saw was a little girl with a slight fever, a tummy ache, and a sweet smile on her face.  They kept her in there for hours, running a couple of tests, but seeming to not really think she was in any distress.  It is now believed that it was during her screaming fit that morning that her appendix ruptured, and apparently once the appendix ruptures the pain subsides, and the poison slowly and silently begins to seep through the body.  Had I not just read this book, where this exact same scenario happened to little Colton, I would not have known to insist on further testing.  

Thankfully, they listened to my concerns and decided to transport her by ambulance to the children's hospital nearly two hours away, where I was told they would just keep her for observation overnight.  But once we got there, the doctors quickly assessed the situation, listened to the symptoms I described seeing earlier in the day, and informed me that she needed to get into surgery NOW.

And after the surgery, when my baby was resting peacefully, minus her "naughty appendix," the doctor told me that it had been quite a mess in her little tummy, and that had we waited much longer she would have been in grave danger.  

All of this to say that I believe that God made sure I read that book when I did so that I would know what I did when I needed to.  Thank you, Jesus!  It hurts to breathe when I think about having to say goodbye to my baby girl.  I am so so thankful that I do not have to do that yet.  That I got to bring her home last night and that she is back to her mischief, back to irritating her big brothers, back to leaving a trail of dollhouse furniture and baby clothes from one end of the house to the other, back to picking every blueberry in the garden and eating them all before anybody else gets a chance to try one, back to giggling and cuddling and being stubborn and cute and healthy.  Praise the Lord!


Sunday, July 24, 2011


(Warning:  extreme use of enthusiastic punctuation marks to follow!)

Guess who has a mommy and daddy?
Two of my absolute favorite little boys in the world! 
That's who! 
This little boy:
and this little boy:
are going to be home where they belong in a few months!  
This news has absolutely MADE MY DAY!
Shane and Oleg have a family!
I have been so in love with these two since the first time I saw their pictures, and my heart has been hurting at the thought of their bleak future.  And I was beginning to despair.  August is just a week away!  Oleg was a week away from losing his grant.  And remind me again why I was doubting?  God has not forgotten Shane and Oleg!  He has a great plan for them!!!
And the fact that they are going to be brothers?
I am SO HAPPY!!!
Because I have known since I first saw them
that they were meant to be brothers.
And they are going to live in Idaho with a wonderful mommy and daddy who are already working so hard to get them home.  
Congratulations, Christensen family!
I am rejoicing with you at this announcement, and I am praying for a smooth, quick adoption process for your family!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Gracie's Recovery, Day One

So Gracie and I will be spending the next few days in the hospital while she recovers from her appendectomy.  She had a really nice morning.  She was sweet and cheerful and sitting up, looking out the window at the lovely fountain and rose garden across the street from her room (seriously, I think they gave us the best view in the whole hospital.  It is beautiful!)  Nurses kept popping in to say hi to her, and she was so darling and polite to all these people who kept poking her and listening to her and messing with her.
I wasn't really that surprised when she grew cranky around two o'clock.  She needed to nap, and she's been through a lot.  Cranky is to be expected!  

But she went way past cranky very quickly.  She has spent the last four hours completely miserable.  

She has been sobbing, hysterical, completely irrational, inconsolable, doesn't seem to hear anything I say to her, and seems to be hearing noises that are not there.  She kept saying things like "Stop talking, Daddy!"  And Daddy wasn't talking.  And "No, it's not for the water, it's for the couch."  Huh?  There was no reasoning with her.  Nothing she said seems to make much sense.  And see how puffy and red her eyes are? 
It took us an hour to get her to take a sip of juice (that she had asked for) because she kept coming up with bizarre reasons that she couldn't drink it yet.  We weren't holding the cup right.  Five minutes to calm her down.  Then the straw was bent at the wrong angle.  More calming down.  Then she decided it was in the wrong cup.  We went and got a new cup.  More tears.  Then she wanted to pour it into the new cup.  Except she was shaking and trembling so much that it spilled.  On and on the juice battle raged.  Finally she drank a little juice.  Poor little lamb.  

And then she was writhing on her bed, screaming and calling out, "Mommy!  Mommy!  I want Mommy!"  And I was right there, holding her face, kissing her forehead, and she kept calling for me.  Break a mommy's heart!  At first the nurses didn't seem too concerned, but as this went on, hour after hour, Derek and I tried to convince them that this is beyond "I'm in pain and I'm sick of being here."  She was totally loopy, in a whole other place, talking gibberish.  She was telling me, "When my mommy comes back, she will pay me."  Uh, okay, sweetie.  
Anyway, it is suspected that all of this is a reaction to the pain medicine or the anesthesia.  They are not really sure.  She has no fever or other complications that would indicate infection or other serious problems.  There is no indication that there is any serious problem.  It was just a really rough day (and she is under the influence of narcotics, so we have to consider that.) We are taking her off morphine and trying something new.  Please continue to pray for my sweet girl!  She is asleep now, praise the Lord.  Praying that she sleeps through the night and wakes up feeling more like herself.  

And as I am here, hugging my baby and cuddling her, with nurses adoring her and popping in every ten minutes to see if she needs anything, I think about my sweet little Gideon.  
I wonder if he has ever been so sick.  I wonder if he has ever had anybody pop in to his room just to tell him how cute he is.  I wonder if he is laying alone in his crib right now.  

I think about Edwin, and his surgery he had to have a shunt put in.  I wonder if he was alone in the hospital as he recovered.  
I wonder if he was in as much pain as Gracie has been today.  I wonder if anybody was there to kiss his forehead and hold his hand until he fell asleep.  I wonder if anybody has ever told him that he is a beautiful and wonderful miracle, and that Jesus loves him?  

I think about how unfair it is that so many kids are left alone to fend for themselves, and that they don't have a mommy to sit by their bedside.  My Gracie is so small and helpless and needy today, and I wonder why the world is like this?  That there are so many kiddos who are small and helpless and needy and don't even have somebody there to hold their hand and tell them they are wonderful and loved and that things are going to get better?
I wonder why little four-year-old Camille has been left in a crib for four years.  She is in the same orphanage from which my Gideon was transferred.  Does nobody see her beauty?  Does nobody see the value of this little muffin?  Does nobody see what a gift she is?  People visit her orphanage fairly often, but nobody ever remembers seeing this little girl.  She is left in her crib, in a back room, day after day after day.  Nobody popping in to admire her, to tell her her voice is cute like a little mouse, to ask if she needs anything.  No smiley-face pain chart for her to point to.  Nobody hovering over her, coaxing her for an hour to take a sip of juice.  

There are 147 million orphans in this world.  And it all just makes me so sad.  And mad.  Sometimes mad, sometimes sad, sometimes ashamed, sometimes inspired.  There are so many children like Edwin and Camille and my precious little Gideon.  So many dear ones who have been left alone and forgotten.  And yes, I know I can't save them all.  Heaven knows I've been reminded of that enough times lately.  But still.  I can't just do nothing.  

But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? ~1 John 3:17

I have seen the need.  There are children who are left laying in cribs.  So many precious children.  Some are hurting as much as my baby is tonight, and all of them have hurting hearts.  But unlike my Gracie, they don't have anybody there to tell them how much they are loved.  I am praying for all the forgotten little ones tonight.  Praying that Jesus whispers in their ears tonight and tells them how much He loves them.  And tells them that He has not forgotten them.  

Friday, July 22, 2011

Gracie's Emergency

So remember the little fever and vomiting thing I mentioned yesterday with my little girl, Gracie?  Well, tonight we are at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital, and in a little while Gracie is going to be minus her appendix.  She started getting worse in the middle of the night last night, crying out in pain and thrashing around.  By early this morning she was clutching the right side of her tummy and moaning and screaming, so I quickly dressed and fed everybody and took Gracie and the boys to the emergency room.  We got Gracie admitted to an ER room immediately, and then spent hours there, mostly waiting, with a few tests sprinkled throughout the day.  Amazing how long it takes to run four tests. 

My boys were amazingly good throughout this whole thing, watching DVDs on my laptop and then watching all the bonus features on the DVDs, and then watching a fishing show on cable.  They were hungry and bored, but such good little guys! 

Gracie lay nearly motionless in the great big hospital bed, clutching her stomach and sweating, with labored breathing, obviously miserable and in pain.  And we waited and waited and waited. 

From the beginning, they were worried about appendicitis, but they wanted to run some tests and observe her for awhile before deciding.  And for the record, absolutely every person who helped us at Grays Harbor Community Hospital was extremely kind and helpful.  They kept us waiting for hours, but they sure were nice!

Finally Derek was able to get away from work around 3 pm and came up to the ER.  He stayed long enough to talk to the ER doctors and make a plan with me, and then he busted the boys out of there (they were famished, and about ready to burst out of their skin from being good and quiet for so long, poor little dears). 

So then Gracie and I got to go for a ride in the ambulance to Mary Bridge, about an hour and half ride (thank the Lord for our good health insurance!  This is going to be expensive, but it could be so much worse without good insurance!)  Our little hospital decided that the larger children’s hospital in Tacoma was better able to decide whether to take out a three year old’s appendix! 

So as soon as we got up here, the very friendly and kid-oriented Mary Bridge team examined my little bundle of misery and quickly decided that this was indeed an appendix gone wrong.  So they hooked her up to an IV (she’s also pretty dehydrated, since she wasn’t able to keep anything down yesterday or today, even a sip of water) and now she is getting some morphine and water, and she is looking happier than I’ve seen her in 48 hours.  Soon we will head to surgery and get my sweet little cupcake on the road to recovery. 

So in case you’re wondering, I am going back and forth on that whole faith versus worry issue today.  It just shreds a mommy’s heart to watch her little tiny girl looking so sick and miserable, and to be told to wait and wait and wait some more.  And I do admit I’ve spent a bit of time pondering the worst case scenarios.  But I am also trying to remember to pray and to place my worries at Jesus’ feet.  And to not hyperventilate.

Please pray for my daughter, for her safety and for an uncomplicated surgery tonight and for a quick recovery and protection from infection and complications.  Pray for the team of surgeons and nurses who will have my daughter’s life in their hands, that their hands will be guided by our Great Healer, Jesus Christ.  Please pray.  I will post an update soon.  

UPDATE:  Gracie is out of surgery and in recovery now.  She is going to be fine, it appears.  Her appendix was ruptured.  The surgeon was surprised by that, because she was so sweet and smiley when he came to meet her before the surgery.  He said he would not have been nearly so chipper if his appendix was the mess that hers was.  Guess my girl is one tough cookie.  The doctor will be watching her closely for signs of infection and abscess.  We may be here for a week or more for her recovery time.  Thank you for your continued prayers for Gracie.  Praise the Lord!  Our God is good!  My precious girl, oh thank you you Father for my precious beautiful sunshiny girl!

Thursday, July 21, 2011


So I've been holding my sick, feverish little girl and wiping up vomit all day:

but I think I'll take a few moments away from all that fun to post a quick update on our progress.  

side note:  Gracie saw the first picture a moment ago and objected.   She said, "I not sad.  I happy!"  So she convinced me to take another picture to show you that despite this yucky flu-thing that hit her this morning, despite the fact that nothing she eats stays down longer than ten minutes, and despite the fact that she is a steamy 101.9 degrees currently, she is "happy!"  What a little sunshine!

First, thank you so very much to the Gideon-fan who contributed to our FSP adoption account!  If you would like your name on one (or more) of Gideon's puzzle pieces, please let me know.  We are so grateful for each and every contribution.  

Also, we have two new puzzle pieces to add to our puzzle today!  Thank you, Chris and Nancy, for loving our little boy and being a part of his rescue plan!

And that news leads to this:  today we were finally able to send in our passport applications!  This has been really stressing me out, because we need those passports before we can do some of our paperwork, and we've been worried that our process could get held up if we don't get those passports soon.  We don't need them quite yet, but soon.  And between the homestudy fees, adoption education training fees, fingerprinting fees, our Durango needing a couple hundred dollars worth of work last week, medical bills that just keep coming, and all these people around here that keep wanting to eat (several times a day, if you can believe it!) we just hadn't quite come up with the $245 for passports.  

I tell you all of this to let you know that the donations we have been receiving are so very appreciated, and that we finally have passports on the way!  The very sweet lady at the post office who helped us with that today said that it is generally taking about four weeks right now.  Oh, I hope she is right, because I've heard it can be as long as ten weeks!  Gulp.  That could be a delay that Gideon just can't afford right now, so please pray with us that the passports will be in our mailbox this time next month!  

In the very near future we are going to be sending in our application for USCIS approval.  That is the next big step of our process, once the homestudy is complete.  The problem is, that application has to be accompanied by a check for $830.  And so far we don't exactly know where that money is going to come from.  We are praying that God will provide the funds for that application so that there will not be any unnecessary delays for Gideon.  

And for those of you who read a lot of adoption blogs, you may be familiar with the following video, but if you have not seen this, or have not seen it lately, please take a few minutes and watch.  It explains better than we ever could why we are doing what we are doing:

Monday, July 18, 2011

Walking Sunshine

This is Yasmine:

She just turned seven years old.

She is an orphan in Eastern Europe, just like our Gideon.  She has Cerebral Palsy, just like our Gideon.  But unlike our Gideon, she does not have a large grant to help her mommy and daddy to bring her home.  And unlike our Gideon, she does not yet have a mommy and daddy committed to her.  She is still waiting.

According to the most recent report, she is still at the Baby House.  But not for much longer.  Not much longer at all for sweet Yasmine.  Her days are numbered.  She is facing transfer to an institution any day.  Truly, she may have already been transferred.  This just is not known at this time.  

From her Reece's Rainbow profile:

Girl, Born June 19, 2004
Yasmine is walking sunshine!  What a glorious smile and a personality to match!  Yasmine was born with CP .  She has congeinital hydrocephaly as well.   Her feet/ankles are turned in, but she is able to pull to a stand and tries so hard to get around!   Surgery and therapy can make a world of difference for this darling little girl.
She is already 6 and facing the institution soon.    She is blessed to still be at the baby house. 
Let's find a family for her FAST!!!

Darling Yasmine is waiting for her mommy and daddy.  This picture, taken more recently than those above, shows a glimpse of her beautiful spirit, don't you think?

Wouldn't you just love to know this child?  To sit and listen to her thoughts?  To brush her hair and put ribbons in it?  She is a precious little lady, waiting and waiting for her family to find her.  

Does this look like a child that should be locked away?  

She is getting older, but I pray that somebody will see that she is not "too old."  She is not "too damaged."  She is not "too much work."  She is a treasure
waiting to be discovered.

Please pray for Yasmine!
Share her story.
Her mommy and daddy are out there, somewhere.
I have to believe that.
Could you be a part of God's rescue plan for Yasmine?

Friday, July 15, 2011

It's Not a Suggestion

Every morning, to start off our homeschooling schedule, my kids and I read aloud from a beautiful little book together:

Every day there is a verse, and then a little letter, from the Lord to us.  Today I felt like the Lord was speaking directly to me, so I wanted to share the message, which is titled:


Trust God all the time. 
Tell Him all your problems. 
God is our protection.
~Psalm 62:8 (ICB)

Do not worry about tomorrow!  This is a command, not a suggestion.  I divided time into days for a reason--to make your life easier.

When you pick up the worries of tomorrow and carry them around today, it just makes today harder.  And it doesn't help tomorrow at all.  Sometimes you carry around the worries of next week, next month, or even next year!  You stumble and stagger under the weight of worries that I never meant for you to carry.

Don't just let go of your worries--get rid of them entirely by bringing them to Me.  Then concentrate on My Presence with you today.  I will give you all that you need, taking care of you--and helping with your problems--today.  Then tomorrow, I will do it all over again.  Trust me.

Thank you, Jesus, for that reminder!  Because it is so easy for me to go from preparing for this adoption and praying for this adoption and to cross right over into worrying and fretting about this adoption.  (Well, not just this adoption.  Actually just about every aspect of my life!)  Worry is one of those things that I keep trying to leave behind, and then I find myself worrying that I have been worrying.  Let's just say that a 31 year habit is not an easy one to break! 

But I have found that God is working in my heart in new and wonderful ways through this adoption journey.  I thought He and I were fine before.  And we were . . . fine.  But now I feel CLOSE to Him again, closer than I have been since my faith was fresh and new and I was fifteen years old.  I don't just read the Bible to say that I did.  I find myself reaching for it before my eyes are open each morning, because I am hungry for His presence.  Longing for intimacy with Him.  I am not saying this to tell you how saintly I am becoming, either!  But rather to testify how GREAT He is!  He has been moving in my heart and filling me with His spirit each morning. 

And when my heart is filled with His love, I am able to get out of bed, face the day, and let that love begin spilling out of my heart onto all of those around me.  And that is awesome! 

So the worry that I used to carry around with me every day, because it seemed like it was mine to carry?  Lately I really don't have much time for all of that.  I am too full of His love!  And when I forget and start to carry the worry of tomorrow, He is always there, waiting for me to give it back to Him.  So I can get back to doing what I am supposed to be doing.  Loving my little ones.  And trusting Him.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Puzzle Update

We have an update on Gideon's Birthday Puzzle!  
Five new pieces to add today:
Thank you for loving Gideon and contributing to his gift, and to his rescue!  Someday when he is older he will see your names there and he will see how loved he is!

The puzzle is looking a little better today:
Still a lot of pieces left!  
If you would like to be a part of Gideon's rescue, 
you can use the red ChipIn box to the right.
Any donation of $5 or more 
gets your name written on a puzzle piece.

We have some online adoptive parenting classes that we have been completing the last few days.  They are one of the many requirements for completing our home study.  Honestly don't feel like we're learning much from these classes,  but that could be because we have already read a couple dozen books about adoption.  All sort of seems like review of things we already know, and statements of the obvious.

We were up until 1 a.m. last night to finish up one four-hour course.  I guess that's what to expect when we don't start it until 9 o'clock!  But what else can we do?  Try to complete the course with the kids bouncing like monkeys all around us?  Because you can probably imagine that is exactly what they would do if we announced that we were going to ignore them and stare at a computer screen for four hours!  So if anything calm and focused is going to happen around here, it has to happen after bedtime.  
Hence our 1 a.m. cram session!
I was pretty tired today.
But oh, so worth it!
Because we are now 
one step closer to hugging our son!  

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Little Boy's Birthday

Yesterday a small boy's birthday came and went.  He turned five years old.  He did not know it was his birthday.  It was a day like any other for him.  Laying in a crib.  Hungry.  Alone.  Waiting.  Meet Edwin:

Boy, Born July 11, 2006
Edwin is a handsome little boy with dark hair and dark eyes.   He was born with Goldenhar Syndrome. This is a very rare condition, and is accompanied by several additional medical complications for Edwin.    His medical records indicate:  congenital nervous system malformation – internal obstructive hydrocephalus, subcompensated form, rickets, mental delay, right micropsia, acoustic meatus atresia – Goldenhar syndrome, delay of physical development.  This little boy needs SURGERY to relieve his hydrocephaly and a family who will love him and save him from certain death in a mental institution.  
***Due to the severity of Edwin's needs, families interested in adopting this child in particular must be HOMESTUDY APPROVED before an official match or commitment can be made.***

$1105.00 is available towards the cost of my adoption!

This little boy was transferred to the same institution as my darling Gideon.  There are dozens and dozens of children in that institution, yet only two are listed as being available for international adoption:  Gideon and sweet Edwin.  He has hydrocephalus, and from what I have heard, he does have a shunt in place.  He suffers from rickets, which is caused by severe Vitamin D deficiency.  Which makes sense, considering that he never goes outside.  He is also diagnosed with quite a list of other special needs.  Some of these may be fairly minor, and some could be significant.  There is really no further information available, and so no way to know how these issues affect him, and what his potential may be.  This photo is pretty outdated now.  I have heard that he is painfully thin, and painfully neglected.  

In a few short months, Derek and I will be in the same building as Edwin.  We will be so close.  But the chances that we will actually see him are virtually non-existent.  You see, Edwin has been relegated to a laying-down room.  Yep, that's just about what it sounds like.  A room for the kids that they've already given up on.  They lay in cribs, all day, every day.  And visitors are rarely even allowed inside the institution, but NEVER into the laying-down rooms.  

Can you imagine what this boy's life is like?  I wonder where he finds the strength to hold on?  To keep waiting?  And then I remember:  "I lift up my eyes to the hills.  Where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth."  Psalm 121:1-2    The Lord loves little Edwin so very much.  

So yesterday Edwin's birthday came and went.  For him, this could mean good news and bad news.  The bad news?  He's a year older, and people are less likely to take on the risk of an older child.  

But now for the good news:  Yesterday, Edwin officially became available for international adoption.  Until he turned five, he actually did not meet the criteria to be adopted by anyone except a family from his own country.  This is a fairly new policy in his country.  Until recently, children were considered adoptable if they had any special need, (although in the case of certain special needs the child would have to be available only to families from his own country for their first year.)  But recently the rules have changed.  Now there is a list.  A very short list.  If a child's special need is on the list, then they are available for international adoption.  Down Syndrome is on the list.  Limb differences are on the list.  But so many needs are not.  Hydrocephalus is not.  Cerebral palsy is not.  FAS is not.  HIV+ is not.  So for those children whose needs are not on the list, they are not available until they turn five years old.  Hence the good news for Edwin:  today he is officially free to be adopted.  

Things are undergoing major changes currently in Gideon's country, as far as adoption goes.  The list may be expanded.  There has been mention, again and again, that more special needs will be added to the list.  Please pray for more special needs to be added to the list!  We will not be personally affected by the new list, because our Gideon will turn five years old next month and will then be available for adoption.  But there are so many children who had been available and now are not.  Children with cerebral palsy, and hydrocephalus, and HIV.  Children with rare and unusual conditions and syndromes.  Children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.  So many children.  Some of them already had families working to bring them home when this new list was published.  Those families are now stuck in limbo.  If the list is not expanded, they may have to wait YEARS until their chosen child turns five.  YEARS!  Please, church, PRAY!  There are children's lives hanging in the balance!  Pray that the government of this country will add all of these special needs to the list, or come up with some sort of case-by-case review system to allow children with very rare special needs to still be adoptable.  

Pray for the Lord to work mightily in calling forth a family prepared to love Edwin and able to provide him with the medical care he so urgently needs.  Edwin is a living, breathing little boy.  He was seen about a year ago, before his transfer, and he seemed to be very strong despite his conditions, crawling around his crib and trying to amuse himself.  He needs somebody to scoop him up and hug him and give him the life he longs for.  A life outside of a crib.  Outside of the laying-down room.  Outside of the institution.  Please consider sharing Edwin's story on Facebook or on your own blog.  Please consider giving to his grant fund.  A larger grant could REALLY help a family to make that leap of faith!  

Yes, Edwin has a long list of diagnoses.  Yes, it's intimidating.  His potential is unknown.  His needs are unknown.  His mommy and daddy will have to take a leap of faith in committing to this little one, trusting the Lord to guide them in wisdom.  But one thing is for sure:  Edwin is created in the Lord's image, cherished by Jesus, and God will mightily bless the family brave enough to commit to him.  

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
   for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
   for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
   for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
   for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
   for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
   for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
                             ~Matthew 5:3-12

 Happy Birthday, adorable little Edwin!  It may not seem like there is much to celebrate this year, but maybe next year you will have a family to call your own.  Wouldn't that be the best gift ever?  We do not celebrate your circumstances, Edwin, but we celebrate YOU!  You are a miracle!  

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Why Gideon?

The other day I posted our top ten reasons why we are adopting.  Those were from a list Derek and I wrote long before we committed to adopting Gideon.  Those are our reasons for adopting.  Today I wanted to share why we are adopting Gideon, in particular.  There are an estimated 143 million orphans in the world today.  So how did we come to select one child to become our son?

Let me tell you, it's not easy to pick one.  Picking one child means leaving all the rest behind.  We spent months looking at the Reece's Rainbow website, as well as other waiting child photolistings, while we prayed, pondered, talked late into the night over and over again, got our finances in order, studied God's word, and waited for circumstances in our life to align just right.  During that time we fell in love with so many little ones.  How can you not love each and every one of them?  They are cute.  They are full of potential.  They are hopeful.  They are waiting.  They are so so needy.  And most of all, God says to love them.  So we do.

You know those families that need a bus just to get the family to church every week?  The ones with twenty or so kids?  I wouldn't mind being one of those families.  Nineteen Kids and Counting is one of my favorite shows.  I love large families.   I love kids.  And who knows.  Maybe someday . . .

But at this point, we had to pick a child.  Well, many kids caught our attention, and I printed out their photos and prayed over them daily.  (Some of those are the children I advocate for on this blog.)  But we waited on the Lord, and prayed for clarity, and He showed us one particular little boy.

God used another lovely family, a family who was adopting from the same orphanage and happened to see this little boy there.  In the midst of the excitement and busyness and challenges of their own adoption, God nudged them to notice another little one who was still waiting.  He was not the orphanage favorite.  He was not right in the middle of everything.  In fact, most of the time he lay in his crib, sad and lonely.  And when he was allowed out, he was not treated very well by the orphanage workers.  He was a lost little boy, stuck in a crib.  That family took pictures of him.  They came home and talked about him.  Their sweet twelve-year-old daughter wrote about him.  They did not forget what the Lord had laid upon their hearts.  And Derek and I saw those pictures.  We read those few details that were available about this little one.  We read about what his life was like in Orphanage 9.  And we knew.  "This is your son," the Lord told us.  We just knew.  We could not turn away from this darling little boy.  It was love at first sight.

So why Gideon?  Because he is the one that the Lord has chosen to bless us with.  And we are already so in love with him.  If that family had not advocated for sweet Gideon (who is known by the name Eddie on the Reece's Rainbow website, although that is not actually his name), then we wonder if we would have noticed him.  Before the new pictures were taken, this was his profile photo:

Sad sad little guy.  But would we have noticed him in a sea of waiting children?  Would we have been brave enough to say yes to this face?  It is seriously just not the most flattering picture.  And neither is this:

I hope that we would have, but the new pictures:

certainly helped!  There is no mistaking the spark of life in that glowing little boy!

And speaking of what helped us to make our decision, there was also the issue of finances.  I felt the call to adopt burning in my heart, and every day that went by that I was not following this call, I felt like I was disobeying God.  I saw the need.  I heard the call.  But the money.  Wow.  We just don't have $25,000.  And Derek is the money guy.  He's the guy that has to have all the numbers lined up in the columns in his little blue book.  He has charts and lists and plans for budgeting our money.  The money.  That's where he got stuck.  He was in total agreement that we should adopt, but he kept saying, "Maybe in two years we can have enough saved up."  He made charts to show me how long it would take.  Ugh.  Two years?  There are kids who need a mommy and daddy right now!  God said to do this!  Are we really going to let MONEY get in the way of this?  Have some faith!  

But Derek really worried.  REALLY worried.  I'm talking about still being up at 5 am with worry.  Night after night.  He's the sole provider for this family.  He's the breadwinner.  He's responsible for making sure we all have everything we need, all the time.  The stress of worrying if he was going to run us into financial ruin was a heavy burden for him.  He was just stuck on the money issue.  He figured we could come up with a few thousand, but not twenty five thousand!  One day Derek said, "The only way we are going to be able to do this any sooner than two years from now is if God just comes up with about fifteen or twenty thousand dollars for us to use."  He was being sarcastic, of course.  God doesn't write checks.  

Or does he?  Just days after that comment was the day we saw Gideon's photos.  The day that God said, "This is your son."  And next to Gideon's picture do you know what was written?  It said, $16136.50 is available towards the cost of my adoption!   How's that for a confirmation?  God is the provider, the giver of all good things.   And God pointed us to our son and provided Derek with just what he needed to make the leap of faith.  Oh, our God is so good!  That generous grant will be available for us to use to pay for our airline tickets, facilitator fees while we are in country, to pay for Gideon's passport, visa, medical exam, and his airline ticket home.  What a blessing that grant is for us!  And we do not know who exactly the Lord worked through to provide that grant.  We do know that there are people who love our little guy very much, and they listened to the Lord and obeyed.  I pray that He blesses them richly and mightily.  For their obedience one more little child will be rescued.  

God is orchestrating a beautiful thing.  He created this child.  He has sustained this child and been his Strength for five long years while the child has waited.  He has brought together the funds to provide him a generous grant, because he knew that Derek would get stuck otherwise.  He put the burning desire to adopt in our hearts, and He brought Gideon to our attention at just the right time.  He has done all of this, because he loves Gideon so much!  He cherishes him.  This is God's rescue plan for him.  And we are so very blessed to be a part of God's plan!  

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 
                                    ~Psalm 139:13-14