Thursday, March 22, 2012

I Love Mile Markers

I grew up in a family that was spread out all over Texas. That never kept us apart though! My mom was a teacher so we would jump in the mini-van and drive to someone's house every long weekend or holiday we had. I remember looking out the windows at those mile markers on the side of the highway thinking "how much longer?" 

Today marks the day that we have our final interview with Gladney and become official parents in waiting! While I'm super stoked that this day has finally come, it's really the beginning of the journey. Now we have to make a profile book for birth mothers to look through looking for that perfect family they want to give their child away to. How can I put into words who we are and why they should pick us? I'm supposed to try to convince a birth mom to give up a child that I never could give up myself if it were my own! Oh how heart wrenching this process is! How I hurt for the birth mothers that have to painfully give up their child so they can grow up in a family that can provide better things for them. 

After we become parents in waiting, we will continue looking out the window at these mile markers and the difference will be that we won't know our ending destination or how long the trip will be. It could be a few days, up to two years or anywhere in the middle. 

I am glad that as I am looking out at those mile markers (that I'm quite certain will start to blend together) that I know I'm not alone in thinking about my future child that I will one day hold in my arms, along with the mother that will carry and give birth to them; and ultimately give them to us. The birth mother of this child is thinking about their child and us too. And beyond us adults in the mix, I know that God is smiling down because He is forming that child, protecting that birth mother and holding our hands on this journey. He knows when the perfect time will be for us to arrive at our destination. 

And that time will be oh so sweet!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Reclaiming the Life God Gave Us!

One thing I never mentioned about the cognitive therapy program (Brain Balance) Kiir is going through is that he cannot watch TV, movies, videos of any sort (yes, this includes YouTube), or play video games until he completes the program. They are working on making his frontal lobe stronger and media usage such as that takes away from the progress.

Therefore, we have had a lot of downtime in our household. As hard as it is to admit, this was not easy taking the TV completely away. I do like a couple of shows and was disappointed by this rule. However, God has done an amazing job (as always) of pointing out where I can spend my time more wisely! We are sitting at the dinner table every single night for dinner. And when everyone is done eating, we just sit there talking for a while. Who would have thought TV was getting in the way of family bonding?! :D

We have cleaned out an entire room and gotten rid of 3 car-loads full of stuff to make room for our second adoption! We have played remember....the kind you used to play with cousins growing up but haven't played since you were a kid kind of games! We have talked about our futures. Our dogs are taken on walks now almost daily. We've tried new adventures. We have laughed, sometimes until our stomachs hurt!
 Conversations have gotten deeper. I'm going to bed at a decent hour. I have more time for prayer, reading, studying His Word! 

Who would have thought...

So when this program comes to an end in early June, I don't know if I'll want to let TV back into our lives.

I kind of like the time we have reclaimed in our family,
in our marriage,
in my life.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Come as you are...

The Bible says
"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, 
and I will give you rest." 
Matthew 11:28

I have probably needed to lean on this verse a lot over the past few months. It has been an interesting year to say the least. For those of you who did not already know, Kelly and I have been trying to have a biological child for 4 years now. We knew God was going to make our family grow in number through adoption, but wanted to try and have at least one together. After consummating our adoption of Kiir, we started trying with a little more effort. This led us to a fertility specialist. After many tests, we found out that I have a genetic defect that can cause miscarriages at any point in a pregnancy, along with serious heart problems, that I don't have a lot of eggs left and will undergo menopause in less than a handful of years; and lastly that the chance of ever getting pregnant in the short time I still have is virtually impossible. 

When we left the doctors office, I was in a state of shock that quickly turned into mourning for what I will never be able to experience. It was so hard to lean on anyone's shoulder when it seemed like almost all of my friends either just had a baby, were pregnant, or trying to conceive. I also go to what seems like a very fertile church and is reminded of that often. Satan sure does find ways to get under your skin!

I meditated a lot on scripture...

"Do not be anxious about anything, 
but in everything by prayer and supplication 
with thanksgiving let your requests
 be made known to God."
Philippians 4:6

...and it helped to remind me that God is in control and wanted to draw me even closer to Him! We really just wanted direction in what The Lord wanted us to do. I felt so torn as to whether we should try a different medical procedure or just give up. After many days of praying, I felt God directing me to give it all up to Him and move on toward adoption. There are moments in my life where I truly feel like the hand of God is on me and that was one of those moments! The micro-second I spoke aloud my submission to His will, I felt an intense pressure lifted off of my body and goosebumps all over. I knew instantly we were to start the process of adoption again. 

As we began looking into the different avenues (foster, foster to adopt, matched adoption, private adoption, international adoption, etc.) I started feeling like I really needed to have a baby in my arms. We could go with the foster-to-adopt route, but then 2 years down the road a judge could order that child to a distant relative and frankly, I'm not okay with that! Then we fell in love with the country of Columbia and longed to adopt a child from there, but the more we researched, we found out that we would have to be willing to take home a child that was between 6 - 24 months and we would not be able to choose the age. I knew at that moment that we had to do private adoption if I ever wanted to hold a baby only a few days old in my arms that I would call my own. 

For some reason I felt incredibly guilty for wanting to do that. I mean, it's a LOT of money to be selfish in what I want! It was a struggle for me to be okay with that. But honestly, this is the only time I will ever be able to fulfill that longing and we can adopt tons more kids after this through many avenues of various ages! Also, God put this baby in my heart and I know He and He alone will help us find the money to bring a baby home!

So, after researching many agencies, we chose to go with Gladney's ABC adoption program. We applied and were accepted! We just finished orientation, turned in all of our paperwork (in record time I might add) and are ready for our home study. For those that don't know, a home study is an official interview with a social worker to make sure you are fit parents.

I am beyond ecstatic, and then it hit me all of the work we have to do quickly, but yet it could take a year or more before we get a baby! This is a birth mother matching program so we could be picked right before the baby is born and have 1 week's notice to prepare OR it could be over a year and nothing. There are so many emotions involved, but they have extreme highs and extreme lows. I don't know how anyone could go through this process and not need to lean on our Lord and Savior! 

For now, I am just meditating on Isaiah 12:2
“Behold, God is my salvation; 
I will trust, and will not be afraid; 
for the Lord God is my strength and my song, 
and he has become my salvation.” 

And Psalm 37:4
"Delight yourself in the Lord, and 
He will give you the desires of your heart." 

And many more promises from God and praises to Him!

Tomorrow will come and with it, new experiences. The Lord does have great plans for my family! I cannot wait to see what they entail! For now, we will wait patiently for the future only He can see.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Raising a Child from Trauma

 This post goes out to any parents of adopted children AND any parents of children that have experienced trauma. For the past 3 years, we have been reading books and attending conferences to learn more about parenting a child from trauma. You see, all adopted children have (or will when they are old enough to realize it) experienced loss. Some children, unfortunately, have also experienced trauma. This could be from growing up in an orphanage, or living in a household that used violence, or experiencing starvation, or seeing/experiencing sexual acts at a young age, or growing up in a war zone. I cannot even imagine growing up experiencing or being exposed to one of these things and yet there are children that have been exposed to many of them in the early years of their lives.

Our son has experienced the trauma of living in a war zone and refuge camp the first 13 years of life, then moving to a new country and ending up in foster care. My heart aches for not being able to prevent the trauma he has experienced and not being able to heal the scars he wears from his first 17 years of life. When he asked me "Why didn't you adopt me when I was younger and just moved here?" I have asked God the same question, but we all ultimately know that His timing is perfect and we can see the answers to that question now. 

When any child goes through trauma, it changes the brain chemistry. Dr. Karyn Purvis, the Director of TCU's Institute of Child Development has done tons of research with neurotransmitters (how the brain works) and children from trauma. A lot of behaviors you can see in a child that are extreme in one way or another has to do with how the brain is functioning or not able to fully function. Now, let me preface this with saying we are not personally having behavioral issues, but I do have friends that are seeing a lot of behaviors that they couldn't figure out until they started learning more about this. 

Here is a video by Dr. Purvis that speaks to this in more depth:

Our son grew up missing some early developmental things and therefore, school has been extremely hard for him. After trying all of the regular private tutoring options, we decided to start digging further into this. Our dear friends Kristen & Isaac have felt led to open a company called "Brain Balance" in Tulsa, Oklahoma. For the past 2 years we've been hearing about this company and what it can do for children. It is a 90 day individualized and comprehensive approach to helping children with neurobehavioral and learning difficulties that surmount their unique challenges. They mainly work with children that have ADD/ADHD, Dyslexia, Tourette’s, Asperger’s and Autism Spectrum Disorders. But after talking with our friends, we are seeing that because of the environment our son grew up in, he is showing some of the same cognitive issues that Brain Balance addresses, it was just a different source than most children. Don't get me wrong, it is intense and not cheap. However, one thing we have learned in our life is that God provides in every circumstance if we follow HIM!

A second part of this program is the nutritional side. They ask you to get a blood and urine test done so they can see what foods your body is having trouble processing due to how the brain is currently functioning. Some of the foods they promote staying away from permanently (gluten, dairy, and eggs) but for anything popping up with a food sensitivity we have to stay away from them for the length of the 90 day program. Afterward, we can start re-introducing them one at a time and see how he reacts. If there is still a sensitivity or any sort of reaction (mood, health, etc.) we will stay away for good. If he does fine we can continue eating them. He is also on some supplements to help heal some damage he has caused his intestines from the foods his body is rejecting. Most of the supplements he will only have to take for the 90 days.

If you want more information on the diet we are personally on, 
you can find it on my cooking blog HERE.

We are excited for our son to begin his 90 day journey with Brain Balance this Tuesday, March 6th! I will continue to let you know how everything is going, but we are already seeing improvement with the diet alone! Kelly normally gets sleepy mid-afternoon and that has gone away. I feel refreshed and have also lost 4 pounds in 7 days! We have seen that our son is thinking more clearly in the simple act of recalling some facts he normally had to think longer about.

A friend told me today that God's sovereignty is shown by placing our son in our home because I was the perfect mother for him. Sometimes it's hard to see it standing in the middle of a situation, but she is right! God has such a perfect path for my life and it is amazing everything He has done to provide for us along the way. I cannot wait to see what GREAT things HE has in store next!

As He tells us in Romans 8:28
"And we know that all things work together 
for good for those who love God, 
who are called according to his purpose"

Our job is to trust, obey and follow.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

God's Call

If you know me personally, you know how passionate I am about most things I'm involved in. Around August, I start getting really excited about college football (GO TEXAS TECH!) In March I start getting my brackets (yes, I do about 6-8 each year) ready for March Madness. When we play games on family night I have to remind myself that it's okay to lose (at least to my son...) When I take food to events I try to make the most inventive, fun looking tasty item there (sorry Some probably call this competitiveness, but I call it passion. Probably because it sounds more positive! Ha!

In a recent sermon I listened to the speaker said that everyone is given a personality and role on this earth because God wanted them to use it in a very specific way to further His Kingdom. I've started to realize that God paired my passion with a deep love for His orphans since I was 10 years old. When Kelly and I got married he always laughed at how passionate I was. One day, when I got tired of his laughing, asked him what was so funny. His response "You don't let anyone stop you." I laughed too, but then realized I don't take no for an answer most times. Don't worry, this led to praying for humility and the ability to say no!

However, I started to realize that God would use this passion for His glory if I let Him. If I died to my goals, my ambitions, my desires; He would start to mold my heart into His goals, His ambitions, His desires while keeping that passion in tact to take on the World! 

Caring for orphans is something the word passionate doesn't even begin to describe how I feel about it! I feel like it is my call to serve, preach, and be His hands and His feet until the day I die for the ones He calls precious!

In the Bible God gives the following promises to orphans and widows:

Defend them; Rescue them; Deliver them; Not to leave them; Come to them; Hear them; Lift them up; Be their Father; Make them a home; Lead them out; Not forget them; Extend mercy towards them; Execute true justice for them; Give them food and clothing; Be their helper; Incline His ear to them; God promises to not forget orphans & widows; Maintain their cause

We are supposed to be His hands and His feet!

Can you answer yes to the following?

For in You the orphan finds mercy.
Hosea 14:3

If you need a little help, watch the following video. I feel like Eric Ludy feels the same passion I do about orphans and love his life story. You can read more about it here. The following video Eric made about our depraved indifference toward orphans. It's powerful, passionate and moving!