Unpacking

Last week, we decided to make the journey out west, across our state and into the next, to hug our friends as they celebrated their daughter’s life. We were able to leave the kids with Aaron’s parents, a visit which we had planned weeks before, but had no clue about the circumstances under which we’d need them.

We drove. Aaron did most of the driving, as all my exhaust seems to hit me as soon as I sit down in the car. And, I had no clue how badly I needed this little trip until I woke up in the early morning fog at the foothills of the Rockies. The fog was so thick that we couldn’t see the mountains that we knew were just ahead. But, it seemed appropriate for a day when you will be celebrating the life of a little one, for whom the veil of heaven has just lifted. It made me think of the Corinthians verse that Bekah’s mom recently referenced in her own blog.
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We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

1 Corinthians 13:12

Bekah’s funeral was beautiful in all of the ways that a funeral for a young child can be. Devastating, yet a reminder that this is not the end. Bekah’s dad, Jeff, spoke with such courage and love. He even mixed in a bit of Bekah’s joy and humor. Most of the funerals I’ve been to have been for people who’ve lived long lives, loved God and were ready. Bekah had a short life and I don’t think that anyone was ready to see her leave this world. But, somehow, in spite of the pain of her loss, her funeral was full of joy. And, completely full of hope. The sort of hope that you have only in the Holy Spirit, knowing that Bekah’s now flashing that beautiful smile in heaven.

I got to hug two ladies who mean so much to me. Erin(Bekah’s mom) and Lisa. The three of our families’ stories are woven together because of our Russian adoption. And, I am so blessed to know both of them. They are encouraging and loving and always two of the first people to say “I’ll pray for you.” I could go on for a very long time, but I’ll stop. In short, I look up to both of them and always find them pointing towards God.2014-09-17_0002

Our weekend was packed full, which is how we always seem to do things. The longest amount of time we’ve spent alone together since we were in Russia and it was good. It was a bit like life pre-kids. Road trips and hiking. Our life is currently molded by parenting young children and it’s really nice to remember that we actually like each other, when all of the chaos is removed from the equation.

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Life seems to make a lot more sense from 9,000ft than it does when you’re standing in the middle of your messy kitchen. Coming home meant the literal unpacking of the car and also the figurative unpacking of a weekend away from normal life. I’m still “unpacking” all that has happened in the past weeks, especially with Big L. There’s so much to digest. Many of you have asked me what this all of this news means and if I have any updates. We really don’t know. When we know, I’ll share as I am able, but I appreciate you praying in the meantime.

Uncertainty

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I think that many of you figured that the “hope” that we had, the one with the big obstacle that I mentioned in a recent blog post, was adopting Big L. Bingo. Some of you even caught that I mentioned it in a different recent blog post, although I deleted it pretty quickly. I schedule my blog posts and had been planning to announce it in an earlier blog post, which never happened.

We hit the ground running with this adoption. We were not able, per hosting program rules, to discuss the adoption with Big L.  So, literally the morning she left our house, we put our agency application in the mailbox.

Although we had not discussed adoption outright, we thought we had a pretty solid idea of how she felt about it, because of things she had said about wanting to come back forever and all of the love and affection she’d shown while she was here. Even before we sent off that agency paperwork, things had started to come together for the adoption. A large discount from the agency because of all of our prior training, a friend contacting me looking for an adoptive family to help fundraise for (with no clue that we had just started the process), a well timed post placement visit that we could double as part of our home study update… it all seemed to be coming together.

After she had been back for a few days, I got a message from a friend: rumor had it, another family was in her country “blind” (meaning they did not come with a child in mind) and had coincidentally gotten her referral. This was concerning, but I know her. I was pretty confident that she’d say no, both because she’s not the type of person to open up right away to strangers and also because of how she felt about us.

Our agency contacted the orphanage to follow up with this blind referral, to find out what happened:

[She] told them loud and clear that she has a family who she loves and who she is waiting for and there is no way she would be adopted by another family.   [She] is VERY MUCH in love with her host family and misses them very much!!

That sounds like really sweet, wonderful news. Except, the same day, Big L contacted me and told me that she didn’t want to be adopted. I did not expect the entire process to go smoothly, and for her to hang on to the relationship that we built up over the summer for the entire length of the adoption process. But, I didn’t imagine she would change her mind so quickly, either. Over the past week, I’ve ridden the whole roller coaster of being missed by her to being very clearly pushed away and everything in between.

Legally, she has the right to decline adoption. She will have to express her feelings on the adoption in court. Emotionally, we do not want to manipulate or persuade her into doing something that she doesn’t want. There are enough emotions surrounding adoption, especially older child adoption, without any coercion on our part. We keep telling that it’s completely her decision. We believe adoption is in her best interest, but it also seems like an impossible decision for a child her age. Between what she has told us and our connection on social media, we believe she’s being influenced, partly by someone who does not want her to be adopted and partly by the strong influence that her friends have. As hard as this is for our family, we know it is much harder decision for her.

I’ve debated sharing this here, so publicly, but I also wanted to share about this reality of hosting and older child adoption. I also wanted to share this major prayer request of ours. I am not of the mindset that all orphans are better off being adopted by Americans, but knowing Big L, we feel very strongly that she needs some strong role models in her life. We believe that with a little guidance, she will thrive and continue to be a great light to everyone around her. But, from what we know of her current direction, we are under the impression that she’s heading down a bad path.

I truly believe that this is a spiritual battle for her soul. As a wise woman recently told me, some dark forces have had a hold on her life for a long time, and they will not let go of her so easily.

As we initially announced her adoption, we had a few different close friends and family members say something along the lines of, “Oh good. I knew she fit in your family perfectly, but I didn’t want to say anything!” And, like my mom said a ton on Big L’s last day with us, “she is NOT the girl we picked up at the airport.” No, no, she was not. She was lighter, happier, looking and acting younger. She had the security and the freedom to be herself and to just be a child.

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We all fell in love with her this summer. She is kind and compassionate. She loves people deeply and she is so deserving of a family who can love her so deeply in return. A family who can nurture her, support her, and eventually help her navigate the world.

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My sister shared how she is praying for Big L, which is so meaningful to me right now, as I can barely produce a coherent sentence:

  1. Pray for the Father to draw her to Jesus. John 6:44
  2. Bind the spirit that blinds her mind. II Cor. 4:4
  3. Release on her the Spirit of adoption, in God’s family and [our] family.
  4. Pray for believers to speak into her life and witness to her. Matt. 9:38
  5. Asking the Father to give her the Spirit of revelation and an understanding of the Truth. Eph.1:17

So, please pray for Big L? We have no doubt that her story is not over yet, but right now it’s all so uncertain.

Gus’s First Day of Preschool

Gus had his first day of preschool last week. In my otherwise hard week, watching him enjoy preschool has been pretty awesome.

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On the first day, he had to bring a baby picture. I printed a couple and let him choose one. Here he is, the baby picture he chose and on his first day of preschool, holding that baby picture.

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I think he is still getting used to the routine and certainly how much more energy preschool requires than hanging out at home, but he’s loving it. Each day, he is thrilled to see me at pickup and thrilled to tell me about what they did. Which is usually something like “We played trucks! We played cars! We had a snack. Crackers!”

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Each day they learn a song. It’s sort of a joke in our family that I know WAY too many songs. I have a song for everything. Aaron always thinks I made them up and he’s surprised when I can pull them on Youtube.

One such song is the Peanut Butter and Jelly song. You know it, right? Here it is, for those of you who don’t.

I read on the schedule that they would learn this song on Thursday. Out of curiosity to see what he had really learned, I said “peanut, peanut butter” as I was getting him into his car seat. He looked a bit confused for a second and then said “and jelly!”

Yes, finally, a child who will join me in singing strange songs!

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This is the baby picture he did not pick, which also happens to be my favorite. I had seen a couple of other pictures of him before this one, but this one was “love at first sight”. I could see he was filled with joy.

I love this little guy. I’m so thankful to be his mama.

The Bright Spot

Yesterday, I shared about Bekah’s passing. Aaron’s grandmother also passed away this week. And, we found a very large, discouraging obstacle between us and a hope our family has.

With the windows down, I went 60mph out to a bright spot. A literal bright spot. A sunflower field. It had been on my “to-visit” list for awhile, but I knew that I needed it that day.

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Yellow is my favorite color.

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I find it hard to feel hopelessness when I’m observing God’s creation in the big and small.

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I stayed there for almost 2 hours. 2 hours in a dirty, bug-filled field. Just me, my camera, oh and all of the other people who had come to check it out.
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Actually, not true, a wonderful friend joined me for a short while, just knowing what a rough week I was having and meeting me right where I was at. Literally. Love her.

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I stayed there until the stars came out. I needed to see these two beautiful things together.
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I went home and the circumstances that had weighed me down had not changed. But, my perspective had, just a little.

 

“I believe in a blessing I don’t understand
I’ve seen rain fall on wicked and the just
Rain is no measure of his faithfulness
He withholds no good thing from us”
-Sara Groves

August Photo Recap

Each month, I share how I did the previous month with my 365 goals and also share upcoming goals for the next month. I’m down to my last month of my 365. WHEW.

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August Goals

  • Reconnecting with friends
  • End of Summer Fun
  • Start of School
  • Saying Goodbye to Big L

So, how did I do?

Reconnecting with friends

After visiting my family for a long period of time this summer, it was nice to see our friends again! However, August was still a pretty jam-packed month and we didn’t spend a ton of time with friends. But, the few times and few friends we did see, were well documented instances. Like Busker Fest.

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End of Summer Fun

Yes, we had it! We had so much fun this summer, and one of my favorite memories towards the end of the summer was our silly string fights. It was a great way to laugh as a family and have fun!
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Start of School

August marked the start of the school year for us. I am continuing my tradition of having the kids pose by the gate for their first day of school. This is an easy way notice their growth!
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Saying Goodbye to Big L

I took so many photos in Big L’s last few days with us. And, I’m glad to have all of them.
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September Must-Capture List:

  • Gus’s start of school
  • My birthday :)