Saturday, September 23, 2017

Lost Papers and Lost Certificates

A girl and her Papa....

I laugh when I see this picture!

Playing on the iPad was so exciting that her little fingers just pushed and pushed and pushed every single button over and over and as fast as she could. Papa had to teach her to push it one time. One time. It took a while, but she soon learned.

If you are praying alongside us for Mary just keep right on praying!!  We still don't have plane tickets and our court is scheduled for Thursday.

It seems hopeless.

But on Friday God moved part of the mountain.

One of the many issues is that an important paper we needed for court was lost by one of the governmental agencies over there. Ours weren't the only ones lost so several families have been biting nails over here and waiting and waiting and waiting. On Friday morning, our spitfire of a facilitator and two other facilitators stormed into an office on our behalf looking for those lost papers.

I was sent a message that morning to pray and so pray we did. We asked some of our fellow prayer warriors to pray and pray they did.

Those women pushed on the mountain and it moved.

Those papers are now where they are supposed to be.

It's not over.

We need the mountain to topple into the sea on Monday.

The chances of that happening are slim.

But God moved part of the mountain on Friday and we KNOW He can bring it to dust in one breath.

So we are praying hard and asking you to please pray hard.

We want to be frantically calling for plane tickets on Monday afternoon!  We want to see our little one this next week. We want to get through court so we can come home and count the hours until we can go back and get her. Our hearts are longing with every breath for this to happen this week.

Either way we know that in the end - when the dust has settled - we will see God's handiwork in all the mess. And in that we take comfort.

We pray. We wait. We long. We trust.

On Friday, while the mountain was being shifted, we learned some rather horrifying news on a different front....

On the U.S. side of the adoption, as part of the U.S. requirements for immigration, your homestudy has to be certified by a Hague agency.

We paid a lot of money for our Hague certification.

We were certified and qualified by immigration to adopt. We hold that approval in our hands.

The agency we hired... and the agency that about 30-40 other families who are part of our Reece's Rainbow family hired  - lost their certification as a Hague agency.

This doesn't affect our ability to have court for Mary but it does affect our ability to get her out of the country.

Our homestudy needs to be certified in order for us to get through immigration.

Since our agency lost their certification... we lost our certification.

Unless there is a way for us to be grandfathered in (and that is very doubtful) - we have to hire another agency to certify us.

It's several thousand dollars worth of headache plus a lot of paperwork that just makes me want to cry.

But our iPad loving girlie is worth it.

So we are working hard at trying to figure out what we need to do to redo our certification.

And we are again asking for prayers for not only us but the other families who are in the same situation. Many of the families are not even close to being funded and adding this new cost on is just about drowning them.  It was hard news on Friday. A lot of tears and a lot of discussions. Pray for wisdom and clarity as we all move forward with this news!!


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Trying Not to Cry

We still don't have plane tickets.

It is very doubtful whether we will make it to court next week apart from an act of God.

The obstacles and barriers seem so big right now and our little one seems so very far away.


We at least understand to some degree why we can't just hop on a plane and go back.

Little girl has no idea how hard we are praying and much we are longing to hold her in our arms again.

All she knows is that we were there and we are now gone.

All she feels is the abandonment and loss that is part of being an orphan.

I am trying not to cry.

There are so many parts to this story that we are not free to share on this blog, but it all boils down to us being here and little one being over there.

We are wading through our days waiting and PRAYING and hoping that God will move some mighty big mountains that will allow us to keep our court date next Thursday. Those mountains are mighty big. Way too big for man to move. No matter what - we will trust in Him. But we sure would like them moved.

Please keep praying with us.

And keep praying for the other families who are also waiting and praying and hoping because we are most certainly not alone.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Obstacles and Barriers

Two weeks ago we said goodbye to our little girl with promises that we would be back.

Two weeks ago we looked back and saw her little arm waving goodbye as we walked down the long path towards the gate.

Two weeks ago we walked out of the gate holding back tears and breathing promises... we would be back. We would be back.

We don't have plane tickets.

We have a tentative court date set on September 28th, but at this point we have no idea if we will be able to keep that date.

Several pieces need to fall into place in order for us to purchase our tickets. Right now those pieces are scattered across the floor and we are looking at them and biting nails and praying hard.

The streamlined adoption process... okay... not really streamlined because NOTHING in Mary's country is ever ever streamlined... but the relatively streamlined process over there has been upended.

We don't know exactly when we will see those gates again or our precious treasure inside them.

There are powers that be over there who have entered into the process who are doing everything they can to upend the process.

They don't understand adoption. They especially don't understand special needs adoption.

Why would we adopt sick children?

Do we sell them for body parts?

Do we gain financially from adopting them?


What is in it for us?

Why in the world we would adopt them they ask?

They are making it harder over there. These new powers that be.

They are adding on rules and requirements. What used to be a rather bumpy road has now become an obstacle course.

So many obstacles are being dropped onto the course right now that it's hard at times to even see the course.

We can't purchase plane tickets even though our court date is less than two weeks away.

We are waiting and praying and biting nails and trying to make decisions and trusting the Lord that He holds our little one in His loving arms.

We have great facilitators who are working overtime trying to work through all the new rules and regulations that are being dropped on them by the day. 

We have little control but we serve a Great God.

We know He's set us on this course.

He has provided all that we need. This past week we received donations that mean we are now fully funded for this adoption.

That brings us great peace as we wait.

We are not the only family waiting and praying and biting nails. There is comfort in numbers and each time someone gets over a new obstacle the rest of us cheer them on.

There is also comfort in knowing that surrounding us and the other families are mighty prayer warriors.  We need prayer warriors. We need the obstacles to be removed. We need the new powers that be to be toppled from their thrones. We need the bumpy roads back and not the crazy, ever changing obstacle course. We need prayer coverage in a big way and so I am asking - begging you to pray.

I have refrained from sharing about the obstacles until now. When we were in country we were quite shocked at the changes and the barriers.  We watched as our facilitator worked tirelessly to get us through them. The amount of new paperwork required was unbelievable. Just getting our court date was a miracle. Knowing that we may not get to keep it makes us sick.  I have been quiet but as I look around and see so many families struggling through the barriers, I knew I needed to say something. We can't carry the burden alone. We need prayer support.

I cannot share any more than I have shared.

I can ask you to pray.

Pray that our pieces will fall into place.

Pray for the many many families who are in process alongside us that their pieces would also fall into place.

Pray that God would change hearts.

Pray that thrones would tumble.


And pray some more.

Our little one needs us.

Friday, September 8, 2017

I Miss Her

How could one little girl capture our hearts so fast?

How can the empty spot at our table seem so terribly empty right now?

We only had just a few short visits yet she stole our hearts.

She completely stole our hearts.

Soon baby girl.


.... and no... I did not give her the make-up. She had it when we came and held on to it with the grip of death...

For those who have asked - Mary is six years old and is in a 6-7 size range.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

If You Leave Me Now

As all the world knows by now, the internet's a great place to find recipes. Who hasn't gone to the web to search for a fresh new casserole, or tips on grilling chicken?

Today's blog features a recipe the world seems to have learned without the internet. Here's how to break a little girl's heart in five easy steps:

1. Let her live with her mother until she gets sick. Then have her mother abandon her.

2. Send her to live in an orphanage full of strangers. Give her nothing to call her own, not even one set of clothes. Make her share everything, so that she won't want to share anything. Train her to see all other children as rivals, not friends.

3. Give her false hope by bringing in a new set of parents.

4. Rip those new parents away from her by making them wait forever for a court hearing. A month is good, longer is better.

5. Bring the parents back. Then rip them away again by making them wait ten more days before they can even start the paperwork to take her home.

We left Mary around noon yesterday, on our way back home to wait for court. It broke our hearts to do it. She is too young to understand why we left, and too stubborn to forgive. We have no doubt that she will punish us when we return for court-- probably severely. It may take days to gain back the trust we lost by abandoning her.

Trouble is, we won't have days. After court comes a mandatory ten-day waiting period, because... Who knows why? The process has become so unpredictable that we don't dare wait out the ten days in country, for fear it will become three weeks. Much as we hate to, we're planning to fly home again after court-- which means abandoning her yet again. Poor child. If only we could wish the next six weeks away, for her sake and ours.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Baby, What a Big Surprise

It's Friday morning, and we're sitting in our hotel trying to sort through what's happened this week. It all started on Monday morning, when we walked into the government office that handles adoptions here. This is where we would see Mary's file for the first time, and request a referral to meet her.

The first thing we learned was that Mary wasn't where we thought she was. We hoped and believed she was still at her baby house; but alas, she has already been transferred. Her new home is a special needs institute for boys and girls aged 4 - 18. Some are only mildly disabled, others profoundly so. Most of them spent the summer at "camp"-- a nice word for a not-so-nice place where the children go so the institute staff can have a holiday. Mary and some other little ones were to be summoned back from camp a few days early, so we could meet her. The rest of the children would come back for the first day of school, September 1st.

The next thing we learned set our hearts spinning. While sifting through the foreign conversation in the office, we heard the dreaded word "brat"-- brother. Unknown to anyone before now, Mary had a brother-- which meant that we might lose her. If the brother was available for adoption, then we might have two choices: take both, or take neither. They would not split up brother and sister for foreigners, even if the siblings had never met.

The next while was a bit tense, to say the least. Our lawyer hustled us out of the office so that the officer could investigate the brother's situation. Our facilitation team also investigated, calling its contacts in Mary's region. We had minutes to decide what we would do if the brother was available. How could we take both, when we didn't have a bedroom for a boy?

Imagine our relief when we got the news: the brother had already been adopted. They are happy to split siblings for natives, just not for foreigners. We went back into the meeting thinking, "Problem solved"-- only to learn that Mary had another brother!

The good news was that this second brother didn't seem to be "in the system," which meant that he probably wasn't available for adoption. Our facilitators seemed satisfied with this; but it was cold comfort to us. We left our appointment not knowing for sure if we would ever meet Mary.

We spent the next 28 hours in a fog of the unknown. It was a time of praying and wondering. We had no news until Tuesday afternoon, when we went back to pick up the referral.

It was then that we heard, through unofficial office gossip, that the second brother had not been found in the system. We would hear no more until we reached the institute; for only the director there had Mary's full file. The files in the capital hold only bits and pieces, many of them wrong. It is a sad, broken system, and we were feeling its brokenness as we left with Mary's referral.

We headed out to region early Wednesday morning. A two-hour drive brought us to the director's office, where we finally got the straight dope. Mary's brothers were both younger than she, and came from a different father. The younger was adopted, and the older was with his father. So that issue was finally put to rest, 48 hours after we learned of it. It was the biggest relief of the day.

We also learned why Mary was abandoned, we think: because she has epilepsy. The poor child lived with her mother almost four years, until she got sick enough to need a hospital. It seems that her mother dropped her off there when she started having seizures, and never came back. The mother lost her parental rights, and Mary became a ward of the state. She went from the hospital to the baby house, where she spent about two years. Then it was off to the institute this past May.

The actual meetings always come as a surprise to us foreigners. We were on our way to a pre-school room when we came across a caretaker in a hall, overshadowing a tiny little girl. It took a second to recognize her as Mary; for she was much more haggard than the girl in her pictures.

She was also terrified, of course. It took most of her strength to climb the stairs to the pre-school room, where we all sat while our facilitator read through her file. She was playing with a puzzle when we saw the first seizure.

It's the sort of thing that's hard to believe until you see it with your own eyes. Mary suffers from a fairly rare type of seizure called "atonic"-- without muscle tone. One second, she's as alert as can be. The next, she flops down like a rag doll-- as if someone cut a wire in her brain. Two to five seconds later, she goes right back to what she was doing before-- as if she has no idea anything happened.

This is a long way from what we were expecting, to say the least. We'd been told that Mary's epilepsy was mild, and caused her few problems. Yet in the first hour we spent with her, she had at least ten drop attacks. We also saw times when her eyes fluttered, but she didn't drop. We think these little episodes are probably mini-seizures. Plus her hands are shaky, although this may be a side effect of her medication.

The biggest danger of drop attacks isn't the seizures themselves, but the falling. Mary smacked her head on the table once in that first meeting, even though the caretaker was holding her. She had another drop attack on the way out, right at the top of the stairs. If the caretaker hadn't been holding her hand, then she surely would have fallen down the whole flight.

What we're wondering now is, how in the world are we going to keep this little girl safe? The seizures come on too fast for her caretakers to react, even if they're being careful. Rob's spent the last few visits following her around with his arms corralled around her. Lest you think that's over-protective, he's already saved her from falling many times. She's safe on a couch, provided she's sitting back. She's only safe at a table if she's strapped to her chair-- up high, so that her head can't fall forward. It's all rather scary, and we are a bit overwhelmed!

The first step is obvious: The child needs a helmet or headband to save her poor head from hematoma and concussion. The next step is to find her a good doctor. An EEG will give us a better idea what we're dealing with. She needs off her medication, which obviously isn't working, and on some better ones. From what we read, though, atonic seizures don't always respond to medication; and even if they do, it takes time and trial to find the right ones. People also recommend the ketogenic diet, which sounds dreadful. "Welcome home, little girl, here's a list of all the things you can't eat: anything sweet, and anything fun."

Then there are the behaviors. Mary is an active child who is tired of being restrained. She seems to see us as her ticket to freedom, her chance to break all the rules. We have little authority over her; for we aren't her parents yet, and aren't on our home turf. The caretakers are nice, but we're still  paranoid about upsetting them. Beyond that, Mary's way behind developmentally. Her calendar age may be six, but her developmental age is somewhere between two and three.

And yet... what a darling. People used to call epilepsy the "sacred disease," probably because they associated it with visions. We know it's more scourge than sacred; but even so, there's something special about it. It's a whole new feeling, having a child flop down in one's arms like that. There's nothing we wouldn't do to help this helpless little girl.

Needless to say, it's been an exhausting week. We are emotionally drained and physically worn down. We plan to stay and visit for a few days, and then head home Sunday or Monday to wait for court.

Alas, the wait may be far longer than we like; for adoptions are getting harder over here. Certain government figures seem to care more about national pride than they do about children's lives. Please pray that the Lord will tear down all the obstacles they throw up.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Hold Me Jesus

(Rob writing)

We've all seen public service announcements about risky behaviors, from opening suspicious emails to texting while driving. As a responsible citizen, I feel I must warn the world against a new danger I've discovered: thinking in airports. Based on our experience of the last 48 hours, Julia and I estimate that simply walking into an airport lowers one's IQ by at least 30 points. Factor in the jet lag from an international flight, and the number doubles. The mere act of boarding an airplane can turn geniuses into dullards, and dullards like us into imbeciles. We have no doubt that pending scientific experiments will confirm these numbers. Until they do, be advised: Friends don't let friends make life-changing decisions in airports!

Dull as my brain was in those airports, it was still sharp enough to notice another danger. I've read enough history to know that experiments in communism usually come to a bad end. But I've also seen the dangers of excessive capitalism; and the airlines are a good example. Their strain to promote first-class travel goes a bit far, to say the least.

In the airport: "Travelers from our gold class, silver class, platinum class, and sapphire class may board to my right at their earliest convenience. All others, line up at the stock gate to my left on your way to the cattle pen. The fact that you paid $1500 for your ticket doesn't matter, only that you paid less than these fine folks."

On the airplane: "Travelers who hold emerald cards may use their quick menu (TM) to order service the instant they board. All others, wait for our flight attendants to fork some hay into your trough. By the by, emerald card holders, we're sorry you have to endure the rabble passing through your mansion on the way to their slum. Just know that it will make them envy you all the more, which you probably want; and that it will encourage them to spend more in the future, which we definitely want."

I suppose I shouldn't complain, though. As Julia never ceases to remind me, it's my fault we're going through all this again. It's the pictures that do it. They show you pictures of all these beautiful kids, and tell you the kind of lives they're doomed to lead if no one helps them. The thought of being someone's last chance to escape that kind of life... That's what moves me to tears. It's well worth a few rough days at the airport.

Hopefully, it's also worth the anxiety we're going through today. We ran into some possible problems yesterday, and we're waiting to see if they can be resolved. Nothing we can share right now. You can prepare all you want, but you can never prepare for everything that might happen when you walk into one of these government offices.

Please pray that something good will happen today.

Well, sometimes my life just don't make sense at all
When the mountains look so big, and my faith just seems so small
So hold me Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace?

--from Hold Me Jesus by Rich Mullins

Monday, August 28, 2017

What is Good

He has shown us what is good... to seek justice. to love mercy. to walk humbly with Him.

We are here.

A bit brain-fried from 24 hours of traveling.

But we are here.

All our stuff in four carry-on bags...

...So that we could meet this sweet lady at the airport. She brought us 2 suitcases loaded with baby bundles and comforters. All of it made by the loving hands of some amazing ladies who know what it means to do good.

We are here. In a world that has become familiar to us. 

How can it be that over the past 7 years we have come to love this place?

It is the birthplace of two sons and in a village not too far from here... a little girl... whom we hope to call our daughter.

We are here. Jet lagged. Bleary-eyed.

But at peace.

In an apartment that made us smile.  Greeted by a doll that bears the names of so many who have come before us. Adoptive families. Their names a testimony of those who also crossed the water to do what is right. To love mercy. To walk humbly.

He has shown us what is good.

He has gone before us.

We are so not alone.

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Suitcases are Out

We took a family trip yesterday.

I have no words.

Change is hard.

It is really hard.

Praying for my son as he find his place.


I'm not packed yet although the suitcases are out.

I think that is a step in the right direction considering we are leaving at noon tomorrow!!

This week we had to stop and take a moment to recognize all the people who have given so freely to this adoption.

Mary's songbird puzzle is covered with names on the back.

Each one precious.

It will hang as a beautiful testimony to her of all the people who have helped love her home.

We are in awe of God's provision for this adoption. 

We are truly in awe.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Confessions from a Muddled Brain

 I am supposed to be blogging. We are leaving in 4 days and I should be over the moon excited and going crazy on here and sharing all about our preparations etc. etc. etc.

I AM over the moon excited. I AM going crazy.  I just cannot begin to put into words the thoughts in my head and heart right now.

Elijah is leaving for college on Thursday. We are driving him to JMU and leaving him. 

That alone is sending me into a tailspin. I should be perfectly capable of being rational about this because I've done this before but still.... It's hard to let go.  I want to stop time from spinning so quickly.

Which is nuts!!

 Because I want time to speed up so we can cross the ocean.

And I want it to stop because I hate letting go.

I can't think straight.  Nothing inside my muddled up brain makes any sense at all. 

Our entire family life is changing in one big huge breath.... but I quit breathing months ago.

So there you have it.

Confessions from my muddled brain.

I'm going to try to do better.

I really am.

I just need to get through the next 2 days with my Kleenex box by my side.

Because I'm going to need it.

A lot.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Let it Begin With Me

My brain is a jumbled mess right now.  We are 10 days from travel yet it feels like a thousand. It's like the world went into slow motion. Brown eyes keep staring at me but I can't bear to change my background picture.

This past weekend was a nightmare. Our little house in the woods is not very many miles from Charlottesville, Virginia and what took place there makes me want to vomit.

The city we love was filled this past weekend with a whole lot of people filled with passion and hate.  That passion and hate killed three people and harmed many others. 

I am grieving this morning over the wrongness of what happened.  Neo-Nazis, White Nationalists. I truly want to be sick.

This week I've been clinging to Micah 6:8 as I think and pray. 

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Do justice. Love kindness. Walk with God.

Let it begin with me.


I am struggling to blog. I can't find words. There is so much in my head and heart. We have so much to do and decisions to make.

I would be ever so grateful for prayers right now.  Just pray for us. Pray that the Lord goes ahead of us and makes a way.  Pray for peace to reign in our hearts. Pray for wisdom as we make decisions.  Pray for clarity as we make plans. Pray for our sons. Elijah heads for college next week, two days before we leave. The little boys are upended right now and struggling with our leaving. Ben will be carrying the burden of caring for them while we are gone. Pray that God provides all we need. 

It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

Thank you.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Another Thirteen

Seven years ago this sweet boy completely upended our lives in a village across the ocean.

Today he turns 13.

He's grown so much on so many levels.

And we are blessed to call him our son.


We have two thirteen year olds in our house!!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

How Can I?

Breathing is difficult these days.  I don't suffer from asthma so I can't blame my shortness of breath on that.

I blame the computer.

Well - not really my computer but my computer screen.

Each day... each time I sit down... I am compelled to look at the most beautiful brown eyes. And I stop breathing. And I pray.  And I pray some more. 

My prayers are pitiful.  Just Dear Lords.  And Please.  And then I choke back tears. And gasp a bit.

It's a problem.

Putting the picture of the child who is calling you across the ocean as your background picture on your computer is a definite problem.

It makes breathing difficult and keeps me from focusing on the tasks at hand. 

How can I look in those most beautiful eyes and not want to head for the airport immediately? How do I focus?  How can I keep from counting the weeks (3), the days (21), the hours (I'm not THAT math-smart)?

I'm the one in this household not holding it together very well. The male population around here goes about like nothing at all is about to upend our little house in the disappearing woods. Their emotions are in lockdown until we actually see and hear and know for certain.  They are being realistic. Wise. Careful. Discerning. I can't lockdown my feelings.  I'm lousy at the wait and see attitude that has them serenely passing through the current set of days.  I'm crashing through the house cleaning and gleaning and dragging loads to the thrift shop (if isn't being used then we must not need it).  I'm standing in the little girl aisles in total panic. I'm organizing and counting money and writing to-do lists and planning meals and staring at those beautiful brown eyes and pleading my Dear Lords and Please.

Three weeks.

21 days.

A lot of hours.

A whole lot of time not breathing very well.

I'm not sure I'm going to make it...

Maybe I should change the background picture on my computer!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Can't You Just Picture Her?

Sweet boys and Mama...

Thank you Shelby for taking such sweet pictures of our little loves.


This morning I contacted our travel agent which makes everything very very real. There is something about buying plane tickets that brings to life the reality of what we are doing.

In case you missed our news....



Can't you just picture her in that picture above with her brothers???

For those who are asking and wondering about our  travel details... just Rob and I will be traveling on the first trip. We will be there for about 7-10 days and then will come home and wait for court.  We do want to take John and Aaron with us on either our court trip or pick-up trip but are not that far enough ahead in our planning to know exactly what we are doing. So stay tuned!!


Do you want to hear a secret???

The Adair family that I shared about HERE... They are considering adding another sweet one!  A little boy. Their household of girls is going to be totally upended by a noisy, precious, little boy.

Money is the ONLY THING standing in their way.

What is a ransom worth?

They have a $1,000 matching grant. Their grant account needs to read 3,193.00.  They are still 5,000 short for the girls and to add on another one is thousands more.

Oh Please Please Please!!!

Every 5.00 is doubled. 

Please help them reach their grant and maybe maybe a little boy who needs a family full of sisters will be opening presents under their tree this year.

Friday, July 21, 2017

A Rally Cry

I'm home from camp and trying to get back into the swing of life and work and stuff and such.

School starts for the boys in two weeks.

We have a new book that I desperately need to start working on. Rob has been writing for months, but I have yet to get started on my part.

I am editing the audiobook that Rob and the older boys made.

I have one last homeschool convention next week.

It is our busiest time of the year for our business.

We are leaving in 5 weeks.

I was up early early this morning so I could start attacking the to-do list.

But I took a break and checked Facebook.

After stumbling upon one post, I immediately set aside my to-do list. There is a family who is leaving in two weeks.


Rob and I have a real tender heart for this family because they adopted three little sisters a year ago. We met those sisters and spent time with when we were across the ocean. 

We fell in love with them and were so thankful that this family stepped up to adopt them.

They are heading back for two more sisters.

They are 8,000 short.

But what makes me really sad.... They have been listed on Reece's Rainbow for months now but they have only had 1,002.00 donated towards their adoption. 

They originally needed to raise 30,000 for their two girls and have basically moved heaven and earth on their own to raise 20,000 of that.  They are 8,000 short. They have sold stuff, crafted, sold more stuff, had auctions and on and on and on....

They leave in 2 weeks.

They are so short and a tad discouraged and could really use some support.

Oh please... please... please.... won't you give today?

Can we get their grant account moving?  I don't have anything to offer except a plea.

Can we rally for the Adairs???