Friday, February 23, 2007

You ought to see my spreadsheet. As you may or may not know, I’m a CPA (or rather, a mostly-retired, technically “inactive” CPA), so organizing my life in Excel comes very naturally. For months and months now I’ve been tracking every little bit of info I can get my hands on about the timing of other families through this adoption process (about 70 of them at this point – and that only includes those who participate in our agency’s on-line forum). Did you know that Excel can calculate dates? Of course, our agency tries very hard to drill into our heads the fact that we really shouldn’t compare timelines. But when you’re this emotionally involved in a process (a child!) over which you have ZERO control, you are reduced to prayer and analysis. It’s embarrassing how many times I have manipulated the dates trying to figure out just when we’ll be picking up our precious girl. Add to that the complications of a wedding we’re trying to work around, my parents’ vacation plans, and my teaching schedule, and we’re looking at a very small window of “ideal” travel time. At this point, the very best case scenerio (based on past experience) would have us traveling the first week of April, while the worst case scenerio (based on past experience, plus a few weeks of extra delays for Tet) would put us on a plane the last week of May. I refuse to even think about the fact that our agency insists families should plan on a 3-6 month wait from log-in date to travel. 6 months means August, and that I just couldn’t bear. We have a lot of godly people praying for early April, so let’s hope that’s God’s will!
"The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much" - James 5:16

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

My heart is full, my mind is blown, my body is tired. Dan and I spent the weekend at a conference sponsored by the college group at our church – our ministry of choice for the past few years. Resolved was a weekend full of little else but fabulous music and incredible expository preaching. Over 3200 people, mostly age 22 and under, gathered to worship our God enthusiastically and with conviction. Sleeping, and even eating, was generally set aside, which says a lot if you know me at all. I’d love to say more, and perhaps someday soon I’ll post exactly how God impacted me, but a fellow blogger has said it all so much better than I could. Challies’ notes from each of the 9 sermons might as well be transcripts they’re so detailed! I’d especially recommend the content from John Piper… you can even listen to them yourself if you’d like. It was such a blessing to be surrounded by so many individuals who are committed to the truth of God’s Word, and despite the exhaustion (and being away from my kids way too much!) I’d go again next weekend if I could.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

One of the moms on an adoption forum I participate in asked this question recently: Where were you when you got “the call” (informing you of your referral)? It was such a fun moment to recall that I thought I’d share it with all of you.
Though I had been on pins and needles for weeks, jumping every time the phone rang, just 2 days before THE call I had spoken with the Vietnam director at our agency who indicated it might still be a while before they would have referral for us. That said, I really wasn’t expecting such great news so soon. Friday morning, December 8th, Dan and I were sleeping in, enjoying a little time without the kids. Around 9 (remember, we're champion sleepers), the phone rang and I answered only because I saw that it was Dillon. Katie, our case manager, sensed I was a little groggy and apologized, but of course I wasn’t about to complain! She told us they had a baby girl for us! I didn’t freak out quite the way I thought I might… perhaps because I wasn’t fully awake! I quickly found paper and a pen to write down everything they knew about her. It’s a miracle any of that was legible because my hands were shaking so badly. The biggest shock was that our girl really was a BABY… only 6 weeks old at the time. We were open to a toddler and only one other infant had ever been adopted from Vietnam through our agency, so I was fully expecting to bring home at least a one-year old. (Of course it was a very pleasant surprise – I’m thrilled that we’ll miss so little of her precious life.) Well, once I hung up with Katie, I ran to shake Dan awake with the news. He was startled, excited, everything you’d expect. Together we sat in bed with our laptop and opened her picture together. Within a few minutes we had a photo order sent off to Costco so we’d be able to share her with everyone. We quickly got ready, donned the traditional Vietnamese hat one of Dan’s co-workers had brought to him, and drove over to my parents to retrieve the kids from their sleepover. It took a few minutes for my mom to understand why Dan was wearing the hat, but instantly teared up when she realized what it meant. Alyssa and Parker caught on then too, and we promptly called my sister to come over, and summoned my Dad from the golf course. Before we left, my mom took our first family “portrait”: the four of us together with Reagan’s photo. From there we tracked Dan’s mom, sister, and nieces down at Target. Parker wore the hat, and Alyssa assaulted them with the picture. One of the funniest moments came from a stranger who was in the same isle my in-laws had been shopping in. Observing all of our hugs and chatter, she quickly figured out what was happening, and came up to me saying: “I don’t know you, but I just have to give you a hug. Congratulations!” We then all went to lunch with my father-in-law to share the great news with him. It all felt so much like announcing a pregnancy, but even better in some respects. We already had a picture and name for our baby, and the hope that we’d get to meet her in less than 9 months! I really think it will be hard for Reagan to ever doubt that she was wanted, prayed for, and greatly anticipated by her ENTIRE family!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Tet isn’t so bad after all. We were repeatedly warned by our agency that progress on the adoption front would come to a screeching halt for the entire month of February. I’m thrilled to report that they were wrong! Not only has February brought us our log-in date, 2 families received referrals, and several others were given the fabulous news that they will be able to pick up their precious children in just a few short weeks! Of course we’re not waiting for any news in particular – we expect that this next step will take about 6 weeks – but it’s encouraging to hear that work is still being done, and that presumably, our paperwork is moving along too. I’m sure that everything will slow down considerably over the next couple of weeks since Tet officially starts on Sunday, but I’ve also heard that the Vietnamese tend to work harder after the New Year celebration, so maybe it will all cancel itself out. One can hope!
On an unrelated topic (kind of)... Since I don’t have any recent pictures of Reagan, I thought I’d dig through My Pictures and find some photos of our bio kids when they were 3 ½ months old. I imagine Reagan will be significantly smaller, since both Alyssa and Parker were almost twice her size at birth, but it’s fun to think about what that stage looks and acts like and try to imagine what she’s up to these days!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

LID!!! We finally have our log-in date! That basically means that the powers that be in Hanoi have approved our paperwork and authorized the government in Reagan’s province to begin compiling her dossier. So, as of Monday, we can officially start counting down our 3-6 month wait to travel. As most of you know, I’m a little compulsive about spreadsheets and such so I’ve been diligently tracking the timeframes of other families who have adopted babies from Reagan’s orphanage through our agency. Of course, we’re not supposed to compare, but even with an extra 3 week delay for Tet we would still travel in May if we don’t end up being the worst case scenario. I’m hoping for early May! The class I teach at my alma matter will essentially be over on May 2nd, the wedding in which Dan is serving as best-man and Alyssa as flower-girl will be past, and we could still make it home in time for Parker’s 3rd birthday. I’m confident God already has it perfectly orchestrated, but it’s fun to see that we’re making progress!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

And I thought our adoption journey was difficult… A dear woman and friend who teaches my Bible Study Fellowship class on Tuesdays spent the summer with her family at an orphanage in Swaziland. They taught in the school, cared for the children, and lived in conditions consistent only with a third-world country (i.e. no refrigeration, no running water, no heating/cooling, etc.). As far as they knew, it was impossible to adopt any of the children, and with their 3 biological children nearly grown, adoption was the furthest thing from their minds. That is, until shortly before they left. Their youngest daughter (who had always begged for younger siblings) had fallen in love with one little girl in particular, and they learned that they might, in fact, be allowed to adopt her. After a couple of months contemplating the decision at home, they decided to pursue adopting both her and another little girl. So in October my friend set out, alone, to pick up these children. She expected to be back by Thanksgiving. Instead, she just barely made home before Valentine’s Day. A series of heart-wrenching events delayed their paperwork, prevented them from adopting the girl they already loved, and finally led her home with a baby girl and 2 ½ year-old boy to occupy the room they had set up for two older girls. Today I saw them all for the first time, and I couldn’t contain my tears. Tears of relief for her and joy for the two children who had been left for dead. R~’s children already seemed to be bonded well (due in no small part I’m sure to the 3+ months she spent with them in their home country), and it was amazing to see this miracle of adoption unfolded before my eyes. Of course the children are very dark and R~ is very blonde, but she IS their mom – no doubt about it. What an amazing legacy they now have – to go from biological parents who cared nothing for them, to a hospital laundry room where they ate whatever they could find for themselves, to a family that sacrificed everything to give them the opportunity to live, to hear the truth of the gospel, and to be loved unconditionally. When R~ first left, I admit I was a tad jealous. Here they had just decided that adoption was God’s plan for their family, and she was already on a plane to go get their children. Of course, all of this waiting we’re doing has its own challenges, but I can confidently say now that I prefer God’s plan for us to God’s plan for her! At least I can hold the babies He’s already given me while I wait for our next one. Dan Phillips over at Pyromaniacs challenged my thinking in this regard with a recent post. He reminded me that all the requests I bring to God which have so far been answered “not yet” only seem urgent because of all the prayers He’s already answered with a “yes.” I’m only longing for Reagan’s paperwork to be processed quickly and to receive updated pictures because God’s already provided us with a referral. I have time to sit and dwell on these things because He’s answered my prayers for the health of our children, the safety of Dan at work, and faithful provision of our basic needs (and MORE!). If that were not the case, those prayers would be the most urgent. So I’m going to try to be grateful for my wait, for the “yeses” that the wait rests upon, and especially for the fact that I’m waiting in California, not Swaziland.

Friday, February 02, 2007

I had a dream last night that we finally received our log-in-date. For those of you not as familiar with adoptionese, LID is the date when the Vietnamese government first approves our paperwork and authorizes Reagan’s province to start compiling her dossier. We’ve already been waiting almost 5 weeks since our dossier was sent to Vietnam, and the family we’re hoping to travel with has been waiting almost 7. It’s supposed to take 2-6 weeks, but since when are we on the quick end of the timeframe estimates? I’m starting to get a little anxious because until we get our LID we really can’t begin the “3-6” month countdown to travel, and Tet is just around the corner. Tet is the lunar New Year celebration that basically shuts down the whole country of Vietnam for most of the month of February. According to my dream we were logged in on January 22. Somehow I think I’m probably a little too optimistic in my dreams! However, some families have been logged-in for 10 days before receiving word, so it’s possible. Unlikely, but possible. Keep praying!