The 4 Month Mark

This blog entry was written on April 30, 2012.  I had trouble getting it to post that day and then forgot about it until logging in today.  Oops!  Anyway, here’s my post from a month ago…

Here we are, four months after Liam and Cora became American citizens by stepping off that plane.  In some ways it seems impossible that they’ve been home for a third of a year already!  In most ways, however, it’s like they’ve always been here.  They are 2 pieces of our family puzzle that God hand-picked & set in their place.

The ability to see their perfect place in this family does not come without choice…and prayer.  I love our Ghana-born children just as much as the ones I birthed, but love alone does not make for a peaceful home.   Liam is very well attached to Sam, but he & I are still a work-in-progress with regards to attachment.  That was never more evident than this past week.  For four days, Sam was out of town on a deep-sea fishing trip with his dad and it was just me and the kids.  Overall the girls did well.  The big girls have learned that they can handle daddy traveling as long as they can skype with him.  Cora followed their lead, and though she asked everyday when Daddy would be home, she trusted that he would be here when I said he would and she was fine.  Then there’s our boy.  In Liam’s four months home, Sam hasn’t traveled more than 1 night, and there wasn’t an entire calendar day where the two men of this household were separated…so this four day fishing trip was a BIG first for Liam.  It went far beyond just missing Daddy.  His appetite diminished.  He slept very little.  He wet the bed.  He acted out.  His entire equilibrium was off-kilter.  Daddy is who Liam looks to for security…and I can’t blame him.  Daddy brought him home from Ghana.  Daddy stayed with him while I was by Cora’s bedside in the hospital.  Daddy is the only other boy in this house full of girls!    It’s no wonder WHY Liam admires his Daddy so…and it warms my heart beyond measure to see my two boys doing “guy stuff” together…but it makes Daddy’s absence that much more difficult.  I am happy to say that, thanks to the prayers of some wonderful friends, Liam did sleep Saturday night, all night…and he didn’t even wet the bed!  Huge progress over the first few nights.   He still hasn’t regained his full appetite, but I suppose that could take time.  He wasn’t happy that Daddy just got home last night & he had to go to work this morning, but I think he understands why Daddy has to go to work.  Hopefully tonight they’ll get a little one-on-one time.

I hope I don’t come across as complaining.  I’m not.  I’m just being honest.  I like to keep track of these experiences in order to look back upon them in the future.  They’re benchmarks for our progress as a family, I believe.  Adoption, especially older child adoption, is a miraculous blessing born of great sorrow & tragedy.  No child having gone through this process is unscathed.  I’m sure no two children behave in the same way, or have the same issues to overcome…but no matter what the circumstances, there is a loss that has been experienced…and in our case the losses are great: birth family, friends, language, culture, … , the list could go on & on.  Our youngest children have only been in this country for four months…the culture shock and over stimulation is EVERYWHERE.

Flood Update

I am so sorry that I haven’t posted any updates on the crisis at our children’s orphanage.  Honestly, this week has been such a whirlwind that I’m not sure I had the ability to articulately write before now.

RECAP: On Wednesday, October 26 at approximately 2:00 AM, Christ Outreach Orphanage in Kasoa, Ghana, experience severe flash flooding that destroyed most everything the orphanage owned.  The buildings are secure, though there is obvious cosmetic damage to walls and such.  All the food, clothing, shoes, games, school supplies, and more were completely lost.  Some of the top bunks in the dormitories and a few of the school desks were able to be salvaged…but that’s it.  By the Grace of God, all the children were safely evacuated…but they have been displaced.

UPDATE: By the amazing works of our Heavenly Father, our friend Eric happened to be staying in Ghana this past week to visit his son & daughter (you can read their story HERE).  His initial plans were not able to be carried out, and he was “stuck” in Accra for the duration of his trip.  Because of this, when the flooding occurred, Eric was able to be the hands and feet of Jesus…and not just to our children, but to all the children at the orphanage!  We sent money to Eric & he matched it.  Honestly, it wasn’t a lot of money at all, but God does AMAZING, AWESOME things when you give in His name!  Eric was able to take this money and follow where God led him.  He hired a taxi to take him to Kasoa (normally about an hour drive took over 4 hours because of flood damage & traffic).  The events, as they unfolded, are nothing short of a miracle.

At a gas station, Eric met a man who was willing to sell him mattresses for the orphanage at an unheard of discount.  Essentially he was able to get TEN brand new mattresses for the orphanage children to sleep on for the equivalent of about $160!!!

After that he continued on to purchase 100kg of rice for the children to eat (about a 2 week supply) at nearly 1/2 the regular price.

With what little money he had remaining, Eric asked his taxi driver if he had enough to get clean drinking water for the children, since their well was contaminated by raw sewage in the flood.  The driver must have laughed, because that little bit of money was enough to order a TRUCKLOAD of water for the orphanage!!!!!!!!  It couldn’t be delivered until the next day, so there are no photos, but it was a 2-3 MONTH supply of clean drinking water!!!!  PRAISE GOD!!!!!

A classic story of Loaves & Fishes.  God is SO good!!!

There is still so much that is needed.  The children have only the clothes they were sleeping in when the flood swept through.  None of them have shoes.  The rice supply Eric was able to take will only last a few more days…they need food!  There are some mattresses for the children to sleep on now, but not enough.  The school at the orphanage lost all their supplies.  The need is great.  Our God is greater!  Please, pray for provision for these beautiful children.  Pray that they will remain safe & nourished a midst this crisis.  Pray over whether you are being called to “care for widows and orphans in their distress” (James 1:27) with a financial contribution.  If so, instructions are HERE for tax-deductible giving to benefit the children of Christ Outreach Orphanage in Ghana.

Blessed Beyond Measure

There are times in our lives that we, or at least I, wonder if anything could ever possibly go my way.  I have battled controlling thoughts in my life that what I’m doing, day in & day out, isn’t worth the effort.  Sometimes those thoughts are put in my head by unsupportive family members or acquaintances.  Sometimes they’re just there.

 

Well…I can say with absolute certainty that God has provided for our needs just as He promises.  This adoption journey isn’t over yet, but as of right now, thanks to some AMAZING friends and the blessings of some people I’ve never even met…it appears as though our fundraising has been a success and we will have all we need for our travel to Ghana!!!  THANK YOU ALL!!!

We are keeping our fundraisers operational until our second trip to Ghana.  ALL funds received from this point on will be used to buy food for the orphanage on that trip.

 

The month of September has been filled with so many amazing blessings.  We became a family of 6!!!  Dear friends of ours passed court in Ghana just days after we did…making them a family of 6 as well.  We began our homeschool adventure.  And my sister and her husband welcomed their beautiful new baby boy into the world!!   Welcome baby Mason!  WE LOVE YOU!!!

 

The blessings keep pouring in.   In October, we get to FINALLY meet our Ghanaian angels for the first time.  We will spend 2 weeks loving on them…hoping to establish enough of a trust that they will know in their hearts that we are coming back for them AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.  Unfortunately, the timing of our trip to Ghana precludes us from sharing in the celebration of my cousin Jerry’s wedding.  I’m saddened to miss the grand Hollywood event…not because of locale, but because I love my cousin dearly and would cherish the opportunity to witness the beginning of his life with his beautiful bride.  If you’re reading this Jer…know that there will be love & prayers sent your way from Africa that day!  Blessings to you & Tasha!  xo

 

We have so much to celebrate & be thankful for…

 

Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in obedience to him.  You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours.  ~Psalm 128:1-2

Help Us Bring Cora & Liam Home FOREVER

I’ve been asked by several people to post all of our fundraising efforts in one place so that they can easily share it with their friends.  I can not express how deeply this process has impacted me in finding out who my true friends are…the ones who will help you when you REALLY need it.  THANK YOU!!!!!

We’re nearing the end of this long journey to bring our children home from Ghana.  Sam & I will travel over for 2 weeks next month to spend time with our kids & file our I-600.  Then we’ll have to return home…without them.  😦  We don’t know if the time span will be 2 months or 6 months…but we know that it will approach us soon and we need to be able to cover all of our expenses.

Airfare is on the rise (like everything else) and so we’re raising funds to cover our travel expenses for that final trip to bring Cora Miriam & Liam Charles home.

Our newest fundraiser is only for a limited time (ends Oct 28th)…it’s seasonally appropriate and is all fall-planting flower bulbs!!  These will ship directly to you (continental US only) & we receive 50% of all purchases!!!!  Check out Flower Power by clicking the image below…

Our next fundraiser is some awesome family & adoption themed t-shirts from Adoption Bug.  There are 6 designs to choose from and we receive a significant portion of the purchase price (amount varies) direct to our adoption fund!  Check them out!

Next up is our super-charged COFFEE fundraiser!!  Ok…I’ve heard this stuff is delicious, but in the efforts of full-disclosure, I’ll admit I don’t drink coffee.  If Dr Pepper had a fundraiser program…that’s where I’d be!  lol  Anyway, Just Love Coffee is an amazing organization.  In addition to the fact that all the coffees available are fair trade or direct trade, insuring farmers were all paid a fair, livable salary for their crops, and the fact that they donate a portion of each sale to an orphanage in Ethiopia, we receive $5 per bag!

Our final fundraiser efforts are being made directly from our home.  I make custom hair bows & hair accessories as well as baby pacifier clips.  There are a variety of items for sale on our site and I also take custom orders.  Check us out!

So there you have it.  All of our fundraisers in one post.  We so gratefully appreciate all the support of our family & friends!!!  Please pray for us that God will bring Cora & Liam home very soon.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.   ~Matthew 6:33

Time Can be a Blessing

I’m trying to find the positive in this seemingly endless wait.  I know that God’s timing is perfect and mine is seriously flawed (since my timing is innately selfish).  I want what I want and I want it right now!  Not sure if that’s human nature or just part of the American culture.  Whatever it is, it is not holy.  It is not what is right.  Therefore, I will continue to wait until the timing of our children’s homecoming is perfect…what a glorious day that will be!!

Throughout this adoption journey I have sought information, connection, and understanding within the adoptive community.  I have connected with other families through online forums & social networks.  I have made friendships that have become pillars in my strength as I travel down the road of international adoption with them.  An amazing group of believers, with whom I can bare my soul in request of prayer for myself, my family & my beloved children in Ghana and return the prayers for them as well.

One of the closet bonds I’ve formed is with a woman named Jenni, who has lived a seemingly parallel life to mine (in her adoption journey anyway), just a few hours away!  We have more similarities than can be counted…and thanks to the TIME we have as we both continue to wait for our children to come home, we decided to meet in person finally & connect more closely.  What a BLESSING!!!  We packed up our families & headed to Pittsburgh…just a few hours drive for each of us.  Our families spent 2 full days together…shopping, dining, playing, swimming, exploring…it was so much fun!  All of our children played wonderfully together the entire time.  Our husbands got along well (didn’t even know beforehand that they’re both IT guys!), and Jenni and I laughed & laughed over silly things like a doll we saw at IKEA.

What’s really awesome is the way God brought our 2 families together…through this journey of faith to care for orphans…that he connected our families with a bond we will forever share: the love of our God & Ghana.  I eagerly await the first big gathering of our families with ALL of our children there to share in the love.

Thanks again for joining us W family…we had a blast!  And thank you Jesus for bringing our families together through our obedience to your call.

He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just.  A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.  ~Deuteronomy 32:4

On the Other Hand

I feel like I’m singing that old Randy Travis song…and in my head I am (and I don’t even listen to country music).

On one hand:  This week has been filled with abundant blessings for many of my “adoption friends.”  Several of them have received Embassy clearances and/or gotten their children’s immigrant visas and will be traveling to bring their precious loves home in the coming days.  Still others have had smaller victories, in the receiving of USCIS pre-approval (also known as I-171H…which we are still waiting for!) or making their first travel arrangements to meet their children and attend court.  Some friends are not as far into the process as us, but have made significant steps in their individual journeys with completed home studies, submitted dossiers and the like.  I am very truly filled with praise and thanksgiving that God has answered prayers for these families.  I rejoice with them as I know they will with me when our moment comes.

On the other hand:  It is PAINFUL.  I’d be lying if I said it is easy to watch other families, some who began their adoption journeys long after us, preparing to bring their children home when we haven’t even met our children in person or been to court yet…nor do we have any idea right now when we might get those opportunities!  I truly believe God’s timing is perfect.  I can not even fathom what His plan is or why He is making us wait so long to complete our family.  I ache for my little loves in Ghana as they sit in an orphanage that’s struggling to feed them.  I cry out to God, begging Him to move mountains so that our paperwork will get processed when nobody else’s is.  I try to live out Isaiah 1:17 as I defend the cause against my family who tells me this journey isn’t “worth it”.

Every night, just like tonight, I find myself lying in bed…hurting, yearning, sobbing…feeling downtrodden & without much hope.  Thankfully, every morning I wake up with renewed hope.  Hope for good news.  Hope for encouragement.  Hope for ANYTHING to get me through another day of waiting.  So tonight, like so many nights, I focus on scripture to get me through until morning comes again.

Psalm 39:7 ~ But now, Lord, what do I look for?  My hope is in you.

Prayers for Friends

This past week I have not been able to focus on adoption stuff because I have been lost in prayer for some very dear friends.

The first – a friend, a husband,  a father, a coach, a man of integrity…undergoing a radical surgery tomorrow to remove his bladder & fashion a new bladder out of part of his intestines.  He has a rare and aggressive form of bladder cancer that will only keep recurring if this surgery isn’t performed.  It is an 8-10 hour procedure and will have an extensive recovery period.  He & his wife are young, otherwise healthy, athletic people with 3 children ages 8, 6 & 3.

The other – a friend, a wife, a mother, a teammate, an amazing beacon of God’s light…recently found out that the wildly aggressive cancer she battled a decade ago in her breasts has returned in her bones.  She just learned this news and as of this blog post does not yet have a planned course of treatment.  She & her husband are another young, athletic couple who have 2 children ages 8 & 6.  Both families are struggling with the reality of these diagnoses and I’m certain they welcome your prayers.

I have had a personal struggle with these 2 particular cases for a few reasons: 1 is that both of these cancer patients are in FAR better shape than I am.  They eat right, they exercise…things I am not very diligent about.  We are constantly told all the things we need to do to stay healthy & avoid these issues and it didn’t help them.  😦  2 – we all have 3rd graders.  Ivy has grown up with the oldest child in each of these families!!  The thought of how this disease would rattle our family hits me quite hard as I sit & pray for those children.  3 – I have watched cancer rage through the bodies of family members…cutting lives all too short.  The idea of that kind of devastation hitting either of these loving, compassionate, Godly families just tears me apart.  So I ask you, please, to keep these friends of mine in your thoughts & prayers as they battle this treacherous disease.  Pray for healing of their bodies and comfort & peace for their families.  Thank you.