About Me

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I am a wife, daughter, mother, bilingual teacher, poet, author, women's Bible study teacher, world traveler, orphan advocate, and an adoptive mother.  Our adoption journey has been filled with a lot of hurt and loss, along with even more hope, grace, and healing.  Through it we have experienced more of God than we ever bargained for and have watched Him miraculously redeem our story when we surrendered all the broken pieces to Him.

Surviving the Valley Series

Surviving the Valley Series
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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Reading material

Mike and I just finished reading Beyond Consequences, Logic, and Control, a book that our agency sent us after Colombia asked for more specifics of how we were preparing ourselves to adopt  a teenager.  It was actually a very enlightening book, one that I'm glad we read.  It opened our eyes to a lot of what we've seen through Julian over the last three years and helped us to understand him in a new way.  Now we're taking an online course on Adopting the Older Child Internationally.  We're a little over half way through the course, and it, too, has been very interesting and helpful.  Once again, already knowing and living with Julian made the course much more real.  It has kept us from going into this blindly, already knowing part of the challenges that may be ahead of us.

Waiting is such a hard thing to do.  Waiting on the adoption to be complete is one thing.  Waiting on answers in order to prepare one way or the other, that's a different story.  Especially when we've been in this spot once before.

It still feels so incredibly crazy to know that we've now completed this entire process TWICE.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Limbo Land

Our second complete dossier is now on its way to Colombia.  Once it arrives, it will be translated and then presented to the main people over our case.  I called our attorney to let him know they were coming, and he said he would be in contact with our agency's lawyer, who will be the one to present the paperwork.  So for the next week or two (hopefully not more), I guess we just live in limbo.  I don't know what is worse--being so overloaded with complicated, tedious paperwork that you can't think straight, or just waiting, completely in limbo........

I still can hardly believe that we actually walked this road again.  I don't know if there are words to describe the range of mixed emotions that I have experienced over the last six months.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

God just sent me an angel

Stress and overload can do a lot to you.  You can only juggle so much and then eventually, something's gonna give.  For me, that one thing that decided to give this week happened to be my memory.  After being stuck in bed all weekend last week, even though Mike got the groceries I sent him out to get, our food supply got pretty low and the pantry was pretty bare by the end of the week.  So, I ventured out to the grocery store to stock back up on all of the dry goods we were out of.  After a much slower pace through the store than usual, I got to the check out, swiped my debit card, and COMPLETELY DREW A BLANK on my pin #.  I knew what four #'s it was, but I couldn't for the life of me remember in what order. (Mind you, I use my debit card for basically everything because I refuse to carry cash....so this was definitely a very rare moment in time).  I tried several different combinations of the numbers, and then I had to call Mike to come rescue me with his debit card.  (Fortunately, we live a mile away....)  He was my angel that night.

It took me at least 24 hours to finally remember the crazy number.  Now I am sure of it and can visually see the number pattern on the touch pad.  So, I ventured out to the second store to finish up my grocery shopping for the fresh foods.  Mike and David went to church together because they had plans last night, and I went off to the store, very confident that I knew my pin # this time.  So, I get what we need, get up to the checkout, swipe my card, put in the CORRECT pin #, and it declined.  Still not sure why, other than the fact that my bank has been alerted that my card may have been stolen since someone used several wrong pin #'s.    So, quite embarrassed, I asked her to suspend the transaction while I call my husband.  Problem is, he's in church--likely to not answer.  I sent him a text, but before there was even enough time to get a reply, the lady behind me offered to pay for my groceries.  I insisted that it was too much money ($60 worth) and that my husband would come soon, that something was just wrong with my card.  However, she still insisted and ended up paying for all of my groceries.  A complete stranger.  God truly did send me an angel.

In fact, He's sent me a lot of angels recently.  An immigration officer who approved our paperwork over the phone in order for us to meet a deadline.  An empty room that allowed us to get our immigration fingerprints done three weeks ahead of time.  A friendly guy who offered to stay late in order to squeeze us in for our FBI fingerprints.  A lady who said she couldn't put a rush on an order but did it anyway.  An immigration officer who told us absolutely no extensions, but then she found a way to give us one.  A psychologist who once insisted that we were mentally unstable to now speak and write to me with incredible respect.  A lady who owns an express apostille business in Pennsylvania who said she'd be praying for our documents to arrive quickly and asked for our blog so she can follow our story.  The director of an agency who submitted our names for a grant that we didn't even know existed. A grant foundation that gave us $1,000 more than the grant was even for.  A friend who paid the entire translation fee for our documents when we didn't have a clue where it would come from.  A friend who downsized her closet and passed on more, nicer, and cuter clothes to me than I've probably ever owned in my life.  Friends who have given us just the amount of cash we needed to cover a need or just enough cash to keep our savings account afloat until we get through the rest of this process.  Friends who have loved us through this from the very beginning, four and a half years ago.  

This has not been an easy road. First, because it was not something we planned or were at all financially prepared to do.  Second, because it's something that has never been done before (reattempting a case you were once denied for in Colombia), so at times it's felt like we're walking a tight rope.  Third, because it's terrifying walking a road you've walked before, knowing the heartache it led you to, wondering every step if you're just absolutely crazy for even trying again.  Fourth, because we live a very frugal life with minimal expenses and little financial stress, and now suddenly we're having to depend on God for every penny.  Fifth, because of so many deadlines that seem impossible to meet.

Yet, today, once again, God reminded me of His constant presence by sending me an angel at the grocery store.  

Friday, January 18, 2013

In our hands no more

Everything required of us to send to Colombia is now officially out of our hands (not that any of it ever was in our hands, spiritually speaking).  All of our documents and reports are with our agency, ready to be sent out early next week.  Unfortunately, looks like that will be Tuesday, due to the holiday. (I think I have grown a love/hate relationship with holidays recently....need them desperately just for the mental and physical break, but hate how they keep interrupting this process.)  I e-mailed our lawyer to let him know they were coming so he can communicate that with the people over our case.  

Subconciously, I'm just not able to think beyond the present or plan at all ahead right now.  I saw where that got me last time, and besides completely changing how I live life over the last three years, there's a part of my heart that just won't even go there.  My whole focus has been on arriving at today, getting through this tedious process of collecting all these documents in as timely of a manner as we could.  Now what?  I can't even go there.  Somehow my heart won't let me.  Yes, they gave us an unofficial, informal approval back in November.  Yes, they let us know we found favor in their eyes, but still wanted more specific information on a few matters (family support, specific preparations, and the whole scenario with Julian). But until the rest of those documents arrive in Colombia, within the time frame they are wanting, no official approval can be given in written form.  I'm find myself still holding my breath.  

I'm just glad it's completely out of our hands now.  

Thursday, January 17, 2013

And the rollercoaster continues

My birth certificate arrived in PA, was apostilled, and sent straight to my agency, where it will arrive tomorrow morning.  I'm so thankful I had that gut feeling at the last minute to do another online search for an express apostille place.  The one I had found and contacted would have taken two to three business days and was almost double the price.

Our paperwork may just start making it's way to Colombia tomorrow, but I have a hunch it won't make it out until Monday.  Still waiting to hear on the grant $, but we've found a way to work around it for the time being.

I got a very surprising phone call this morning from our immigration officer.  Remember that extension that she said she absolutely would not give us for Julian?  She called today to tell me that we now have another 45 days.  Guess there's still a chance out there for him.

What a ride.

Just for the record, my agency has been nothing but wonderful to work with this time around.  I'm so grateful we listened to the recommendation to go with them again.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Another step closer

My birth certificate finally arrived today at 3:45, almost EIGHT WEEKS since I ordered it.  Mike had stayed home all day so he could sign for it and get it back in the mail yet today to be apostilled.  It should get to my agency by the end of the week.

Still waiting to hear on the grant.  I'm trusting that God is ahead of us on that one, just like He always is.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Final details

My birth certificate is supposed to be sent out today, then I need to send it back to PA to be apostilled.  I found an express apostille place online that was started by a family after their own adoption of a child from Colombia.  I've been e-mailing the owner back and forth regarding our situation, and today she told me she will be praying that it arrives to her quickly. :)  How encouraging is that--more prayers, and from a perfect stranger!

We're still waiting to know the exact amount of grant money that will be available to us.  Pray that we will know as soon as possible and that it will be enough to at least pay our agency next week.  I'm assuming all will be sent to Colombia early in the week.

Trying to turn everything over to God and claim His peace that passes all understanding.  This has been a true faith-stretching experience.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Plumb - Need You Now (How many times) [2012] NEW SINGLE

Don't think I could find a better song to express the depth of my heart over the last six months, especially the last four weeks.  I think going through this process all over again after the anguish I went through the first time may be one of the hardest things God has ever asked me to do.  The process itself hasn't been hard--it's all the deadlines that keep coming up, having to push everyone else to hurry up or just sit back and wait for things that are totally beyond our control (ex....PA deciding to update their computer system).

Friday, January 11, 2013

Why now? Why me?

Lovely.  Look what I just found online.

 Pennsylvania is temporarily taking more time than usual to process birth certificates. The state office is upgrading their computers and this is the cause of the longer processing times. There is no way for anyone to speed up this process. We expect the times to shorten sometime soon.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The value that a single piece of paper holds

A week before Christmas, we got a pink piece of paper in the mail.  My favorite color or not, it held news I didn't want to hear, another deadline that I knew could not be met.  That piece of paper held incredible power over Julian's future. Today I had to respond to that pink piece of paper, regretfully stating that we just couldn't make their deadline because there were too many variables beyond our control.  Unless someone changes their mind and extends that deadline (which they already said they would not), then it looks like we will just be able to bring one of the boys home, not both.  No matter what, though, as long as the adoption of the younger sibling continues to go through okay, we're tied to both of them for the rest of our lives.

We also put a package in the mail today--our dossier, containing all but one last document that will go straight to our agency.  There should be no more documents passing through our own hands.  That package was filled with all sorts of different papers, all with fancy seals and stickers and even on special paper that can't be copied.  I realized that the specific papers that that envelope held had already cost thousands of dollars in order to retrieve.  That's not even the amount of money that was paid to our agency in a grant, nor the money that was paid to translate them all, nor the money that we will hopefully be able to use from another grant to finish paying the agency, pay our attorney, and cover some travel expenses.  That was JUST the money that went into gathering all those fancy papers with their fancy stickers, seals, and stamps.  (Fancy papers we had collected once before, but they've been expired for several years now). Then besides paying for all those special pieces of paper, we had to make sure that the words printed on them are exactly correct without a single mistake, without any ability to convey the wrong message.  Wow.  That's a lot of power that a fancy piece of paper can hold.

Yet the most powerful piece of paper right now is the one that is holding our entire process up. The clock is ticking, "Juan" continues to get older, wondering if he'll ever be part of a family, and all we can do is wait.  One silly little piece of paper, one that I ordered the very day after Thanskgiving before ordering any of the rest of them, and here we all sit, just waiting on it.  I tried every avenue to get another one quicker, but each attempt led me straight to a brick wall.  Who knew that getting a simple little birth certificate could be such an ordeal?  If I were not a woman of faith, I think I would be tearing my hair out by now.  I have a feeling that God is using this crazy delay for a reason, though.  They said it will be another week and a half for it to get here.  Ten more days.  Funny how after four and a half years of waiting for this child, those ten days suddenly seem like an eternity away.

One single piece of paper with a special stamp on it, attached to another piece of paper with a special sticker.  Who knew how much power those two pieces of paper could hold?

Friday, January 4, 2013

Journeys with David

A few weeks ago, David made a comment to me that completely broke my heart, though it was one I knew was coming soon.  He said, "Mommy, once I'm in middle school, you can't read to me anymore."   Ouch.

Now, to understand the depth of that comment, you have to understand the special bond that David and I share because we read together.  We have been reading books together at night since he was a toddler, and once we hit the chapter books, that's when the journeys began.  He and I have traveled the world together and learned so many amazing things together by the simple sharing of books. We took a journey into the life of a fifth grader with dyslexia who struggled to stand up against a school bully, we journeyed through a third grader's change of life after he developed bacterial meningitis and ended up losing his legs, we learned all about blindness and the process that a dog goes through to become a seeing-eye dog, we traveled to New York City to get a first hand account of the tragedies that took place on 9/11, and we've journeyed to Jerusalem and back through a fictional perspective of the end times.

Many of these journeys took place through a single chapter book, while others took place through a series of  20-40 chapter books.  I didn't even know what a gift I was giving to my child by opening his life up to the world of reading, nor did I know what a gift I was giving myself by going on each journey with him.  Even when we went on long trips, we'd find books on CD so we could listen to a book read to us for hours on end rather than pre-exposing him to little video games and such.  Those just proved to be more journeys that we went on together as a family.  I never forced him to read aloud to me, but somehow he developed a fluency of his own and became a good reader.  His teachers have let me know that the exposure he's had to such high level books have proven to put him at a very high academic ability, stating that there is not a single book they will read in fifth grade that will even begin to challenge him.  The best thing that our journeys through books have done for us, though, was that our experiences and travels only served as incredible bonding experiences because we did them together.  I will miss them.  I will miss traveling to new places with him and learning new things with him.  I guess I am just going to have to get a second copy of everything he reads so I can read alongside of him instead of with and to him.

However, he's NOT in sixth grade yet, so I am cherishing every page we still turn together, and when I hear him ask me to read his library book to him, I'm there by his side in an instant, just like I was yesterday after we came home from the library with a new book.  I love that he loves the library and always has a book in mind that he's wanting to read next.

David knows he is a good reader and that he has excellent comprehension, but to this day he still tells me that he's a good reader because I read to him. If you are the parent of a school-age child, please don't miss the opportunities you have to read with and to your child.  Yes, it's important for them to read alone to develop their own fluency, but reading to them is one of the greatest gifts you can give them.  It's also one of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself, creating  memories and learning experiences that will last a lifetime.

Thursday, January 3, 2013


My first "teaching" experience happened to be in a little building in Warsaw, Indiana called the Alternative Learning Center.  I had asked my college advisor what I could do to keep up my Spanish skills for the year before I went to Argentina.  She hooked me up with an opportunity to teach ESL to adults in the evening at this little school,  many of whom spoke Spanish.  I never imagined how life-changing the experience would be, how much I would fall in love with teaching, how close I would grow to my coworkers there, or how this job would open up many doors into my future.  I kept teaching there all through college and even after I got married.  That little school and all the people I met there will always hold a special place in my heart.

Thanks to Facebook, I reconnected recently with one of those amazing coworkers and found out she is visiting her daughter (who graduated from high school with me) not too far from where I live.  Today we met up together at a little Colombian bakery and just had a lovely time catching up.  It was such a great way to start bringing this much needed break to a close.  Plus having a little taste of Colombia again was great!  (We planned to go to a Cuban bakery, but it was closed, so we went to the Colombian one instead.)

Tomorrow I'm meeting up with another great friend who recently moved to Georgia and is in town visiting for one more day.  There's nothing like reconnecting with old friends.

Silence no more

Yesterday the world slowly started coming back to work, thus ending this period of silence.  You know, it was actually nice while it lasted.  As much as I was tempted to fret through each day, I realized that there was absolutely nothing I could do to change it, so I might as well enjoy it.

I got in contact with my agency and home study agency, and between the three of us, I think we'll get Colombia's newest request from us covered pretty quickly.  I contacted my lawyer, but for some reason, the phone connection was horrible, so it was not the professional conversation I was hoping for. However, he understood what I was asking and I understood enough to know that he's going to talk to the psychologist as soon as possible to discuss the situation with Julian.  Our immigration officer was supposed to be returning to work today, so maybe we will hear from her, too.

Unfortunately, we're STILL waiting on those other two documents.  I am so hoping that they come by the beginning of next week.  I want to kick myself for not having taken care of them in the midst of waiting for everything else, but we were too stubborn to spend another penny on this process until we knew if they were going to let us proceed to finish the process, so I waited.  I remember them both coming very quickly last time around, so I wasn't expecting this wait.  The holidays didn't help, either.

I'm sure I could find a thousand things to fret about right now, but God has given me a real peace, reminding me that He's got this under control.  Honestly, the one thing I've never asked of Him is to bring those boys home.  All I want is for others to see our life and see the absolute presence and sovereinty of God.  If that involves bringing one or both of those boys home, then that's what I want.  If it doesn't, then that's okay, too.  I can't believe I'm actually saying that after pouring so much money and energy back into this process, but it's the honest truth.  What I truly want right now is for this process to be over so we can live again--with or without one or both of those boys.

 Mike and I both are at that point--we just want to move on and live life. We're tired of fundraising and pinching pennies, tired of putting life on hold, tired of all the phone calls and e-mails, tired of waiting on this or that piece of paper to arrive, tired of keeping Julian up in the air regarding his future, tired of speculating over possible timelines.  What I hate the most about the international adoption process is all the energy that goes into it, sucking everything out of you rather than allowing you time to just prepare for the new reality that is to come.  There are so many unconnected people involved in the process, all with opinions of their own, that just complicate it rather than help move it along.  I'm not complaining, I'm just saying.....If you want to pray for us, just pray for our perseverance to make it to the finish line so we can begin the race set before us.

Did you read the latest story about the family bringing their five adopted children home from Peru the other day?  I sure needed to hear that story and read that blog to be reminded that after all the tedious work, God's plan will prevail and will not be thwarted.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A new day, a new year

Happy New Year!  We brought in the new year just as peacefully and quietly as we celebrated Christmas.  David spent the evening with a good friend from church, and Mike and I just enjoyed one another's company. (For the record, I kicked his butt in Scrabble for two out of three games!)

Before David left, he and I brought the year to a close by enjoying a lunch date together, watching a movie at home, and then reading together.  We talked about what were the best things about 2012 and the hardest things, and we talked about what we're looking forward to in 2013.  He's looking forward to another great soccer season with his new team, and he's looking forward to another awesome semester at school with his teacher.  Wow.  The power of a teacher.  That boy's eyes just light up whenever he talks about his teacher, and I am constantly amazed at how much he has learned through him this year.

Mike and I are looking forward to bringing this adoption process to a close as soon as is humanly possible, yet we know that God has a perfect time for that to happen.  We are looking forward to seeing what God has planned for us as a family and how He plans to use us to reach others.  We are also looking forward to watching David continue to grow and mature into the little man that God is creating.  We love him so dearly and love the joy that he brings to our home each and every day.  He is a gift that keeps on giving.

We hope to be able to finally devote some time and finances to fix up our home, replace some carpet, drywall, etc. and to eventually finish our outdoor haven behind the house.  We'll see what God does with our resources this year, but we know from experience that when we give to Him first, He multiplies what can be done with what we have left.

In just a few hours, I plan to pick my little guy up from his friend's house to take him to his sweet twin cousins' birthday party as they celebrate their 8 years of life.  Sickness kept our families separate at Christmas, so it will be nice to spend time with them today.

My goal for the year:  Trust God.  Every day.  For Everything.  Every year is life-changing.  I have a feeling this one is going to be more life-changing than ever.