Our road to Iris – part 2

We got some great news this week!  We received our USCIS approval from the government, essentially saying that the US gives us the approval for bringing an orphan into the United States.  Lucky us, our fingerprints did not show up at any crime scenes.

Now our paperwork can go to China for translation, and then they will invited us to travel there.  Still, a few months to go.

Also, and maybe even better, we received a grant and a loan from Abba Fund.  Go to abbafund.org to check them out.

Abba fund gives some grants and also interest-free loans to people who are adopting.  Yes, we are going into debt to bring this girl into our lives.  I can’t even tell you how hard it is to squeeze $27,000 out of our current income.  Oh wait, that would be impossible, I’m thinking, for most people.  We went into debt to bring Mesfin home.  It happens and it’s worth it.  No complaints.  I’m just putting it out there for two reasons:

1.  We are aware that living in debt is not God’s idea of healthy living – or the soul’s.  Debt can ruin people financially and emotionally. We have had this discussion with people and they have disagreed with us when it comes to going into debt for adoption.  We agree with God, but we don’t agree with you.  I’m sure Wes Stafford took out a loan to start Compassion International.  Trust me, we have put prayer into this.

2.  I hope that I can explain this to those of you who haven’t adopted, but I love Iris.  Down to my soul.  God has planned for this child to be mine.  I’m sure of it.  You may not understand what it is like for an adoptive mother, but we love these children before we can even touch them or hear their voice.  Remember how much you loved your babies in the womb?  We are right there with you.

I’ll paint you another picture.  Imagine that your child, (Ethan, Ava, Noah, Emily, Olivia, Michael, Josh), went to another country on a trip and he couldn’t get back.  Wouldn’t you spend every dime you had to rescue them?  That’s how it feels for an adoptive mom.  I need to go get my daughter.  At any cost.

If you are moved by the idea of adoption, go to abba fund and donate.  It will save more than one orphan and make more than one mother or father joyous.  Non-interest loans are given to a family, then as they repay, it goes to another, and another, and another.  You will have changed the life of many in your donation.  OR EVEN BETTER, ADOPT!  Don’t let the cost scare you.  Take a risk and let God figure out the details.

And remember these words:

Religion that God our father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.  James 1:27

He may not be calling you to adopt, although He might be…(hard to tell how I feel here, isn’t it?), but He is asking you in some way to take care of the 147 million orphans around the world.  It looks different for everyone, but enjoy doing it, knowing that there is so much beauty in taking care of even just one.

Leave me ALONE morning people!

While I casually sift through my emails this morning (ok, 8:30) I receive a forwarded blog from my wonderful husband (sent promptly at 6:30).  It is entitled How To Become a Morning Person.  I’m already annoyed.

Here are some of the reasons that I should apparently become a morning person:

“Morning people” tend to:

Let me tell you something morning people – you can justify how great your life is because you rise early, but I don’t believe you.  Only people who are constantly trying to change other people into themselves are really miserable in their own lives.  I mean, do you ever hear blogs or podcasts or webinars entitled How to Be a Night Owl?

Yeah, I thought not.  That’s because us night owls actually enjoy it when the morning people go to bed.  Just last Saturday night my husband (morning guy) and I (night owl) were at a Christmas party and by 9 my husband wanted to go home and go to bed.  Come on, 9.  That’s because he had been busy getting up that morning to “be healthier and live longer.”

The best part is, you morning people are trying to change us, all the while just hinting at the misery of being a morning person. Read on…..

Step #3 in the fore mentioned blog on how to become a morning person:

  • Use an alarm. After years of waking up early, this has become
    an engrained habit for me. I wake up at 5:00 a.m. without an alarm. It
    is amazing how consistent this is—sometimes when I don’t want it to be. But if
    you haven’t been a morning person until now, you will likely need to use an
    alarm. It’s part of training yourself mentally and physically..

Watch how I can read between the lines here.  The author wakes up at 5, without an alarm, even when he doesn’t want to!  What?  Sometimes you don’t want to be a morning person?!?  Exactly.

Here are just a few reasons I will never change and why I think the world would fall apart without night people:

1..  Who would see the future midnight premieres of any vampire/werewolf trilogies?

2.  Who would shop at a 24 hours Walgreens?  (I hear the sound of a crumbling economy here)

3.  How would Fed-Ex ship your goods in 24 hours without a night shift?

4.  Who would ever play in a band? (hint here morning people: bands usually begin their sets after you go to bed at 9)

5.  I don’t like to eat dinner with the over 70 crowd at 5.

And the best of all…..

6.  My two love languages are quality time and physical touch.  Trust me reader, I can NOT deliver quality time in the morning.  And really, the best physical touch comes at night.  (wink, wink)  Acts of service are most likely best delivered by a morning person and at the bottom of my list of needs.

I love you morning husband!  And I promise NOT to give you a hard time the next Friday night when you “call” sleeping in on Saturday morning and ask me to deal with the kids.  I promise.  Because really, I know that you just can’t help yourself from being a morning person, but sometimes, just sometimes, you wish you could be a night person.  Everybody does….

Signing off – promptly at 9:30 and ready to start my day!

Please don’t tell my children they are lucky…..

Lately I’ve spent some time thinking about my upcoming adoption.  I have been reading some good books about China and I have seen two wonderful documentaries on adoptive girls from China:  Somewhere Between and Wo Ai Ni (I love you mommy).

In Somewhere Between there is a scene in which an adoptive mother of two girls is in a hair salon and a well-intentioned older woman (upon hearing they were adopted) said “Well aren’t you lucky?  Welcome to the United States little girl.  The best place to live.”

Here’s what she doesn’t understand about adoption.  There is a profound sense of loss for many adoptive children.  They feel something is missing.

When I was telling my Ethiopian adopted son about how the adoptive girls from China were going back in a long-shot attempt to find their birth parents, Mesfin stopped me in mid sentence.  When I asked him what was wrong, he replied, “Don’t you understand, mom?  If I go back to find my mother I have only two things that could happen.  I’ll find out she’s dead or I’ll find her and no longer be able to talk to her.  Either way, it’s devestating.”

He’s 9.  That’s a heavy thing to carry for a 9 year old.

Mesfin is happy, and he loves me, and he feels blessed beyond measure. He does not spend every waking moment thinking of his life in Ethipia.  Trust me, he’s become an American! But there is a hole in his heart that will never be filled.  He loved a mother and a sister once, they loved him, and he will never see them again.

Even for Iris, who has spent her entire life in an orphanage, she is leaving all the people, culture, food, smells, sights, sounds, and understanding of the world to come live with two strangers.  There will be a loss for her as well.  The documentary Wo Ai Ni follows an 8 year old girl who is adopted by two Americans and as I watched the tears fall from her face and I could see her fear of what was to come, I hurt too.

Yes, I’m nitpicking a word – lucky.  It is just a word and in many ways they are lucky.   Because all children are better being loved and cared for by a family on foreign soil then spending forever in an orphange.  There is no doubt about that.

But I long for the day when there will be no international adoptions because Jesus has redeemed this world and made it His again.  No mother will ever have to give her child up for adoption and spend a lifetime yearning for the child they never got to raise.  No one will get HIV and be so fearful of an early death that they have to leave their child on the steps of an orphanage.

And some day I pray I will get to meet the mothers that came first.  The ones that are never forgotten by their babies, even if it is only remembered in the heart.

our road to Iris – part 1 of many


Oh my goodness – isn’t she a beautiful little girl?  And guess who gets to be her mother?  ME!!  (insert crazy screaming here)

I am the lucky mother of another daughter – as of yesterday – when China gave us “pre-approval” on adopting this beautiful little lady.  She is 6 years old and has never had a mom or dad or brother or sister – until now.  And we are it!  We still have some time to go until we can get her – the US has to give us a visa and then China needs to translate all our paperwork and invite us to travel.  But it will come.  Not too soon for sure, but it will come.

Let me give you some roadblocks/experiences/moments along the way that brought us to adopting Iris.

1.  We adopted Mesfin.  Roadblock

Yes, I’m afraid to say, but this was initially a roadblock.  We couldn’t wait to adopt and then we showed up in Ethiopia to pick up a 3-year-old kid, who turned out to be almost 6, who didn’t speak English and who disliked me greatly.  This was evident after about six weeks home when we were driving in my mini-van and the boy who spoke hardly any English managed to get out this: “You can not be my mom.  You will never be my mom.  I have a mom in Ethiopia.”  Ok, where do you go with that?

2.  We adopted Mesfin.  Experience

He is wonderful.  He is adorable.  He is special.  He calls me mom.  And, although he still misses his first mom – a loss that will never go away –  he’s happy that he gets to be a kid with two moms in this world because he says he can’t imagine life without me now.

3.  I took a turn at being the Holy Spirit – BIG ROADBLOCK

Once Mesfin became so perfect for our family, I wanted to adopt again.  My husband was not quite so ready.  So I began to ask and suggest and question and challenge him on a weekly basis.  Some may call this nagging……..I prefered to think of it as being his holy spirit.  I’m a bad holy spirit.  I mean, really bad.  This ended with an ultimatium from the hubby “Stop trying to be my holy spirit or I will start removing kids from this family, not adding more.”  I went mute on the subject, decided to pray, and let the Holy Spirit actually do His own work!  🙂

4.  Big vacation with hubby – Moment

Six months after I let Jesus decide my adoption future we took a family vacation with my wonderful friend from childhood and her family.  He gets really relaxed on vacation and out of the blue says to my friend “Yeah, we’re going to adopt again.”  Say WHAT brother?

5.  I’m excited – Roadblock

I tend to get excited, but not really do anything.  Also, does anyone have twenty-five thousand dollars?

6.  Paperwork – Roadblock

Need I say more?  I hate it, I hate it, I hate it.

7. Time goes by………. experiences I suppose

Some people donate money, we save for a year and are able to pay our initial fees, we eventually get our paperwork done, we look at medical files and more medical files of children with special needs, I cry and pray for the orphans I’m not adopting – and finally, there she is.  I see her picture and honestly, I just feel like she’s supposed to be mine.  We file a “Letter of Intent” to adopt and care for her, and yesterday, China said OK!

We’re doing it again.  And she’s going to be ours.

Be Afraid

Often I think “How can I grow closer to God?”  And there are many answers to this question.  I can pray, read my Bible, have time in solitude.  All of these things will bring me closer to Him.

But, none of those things can guarantee that I will give my life over to Christ.  That I will completely surrender.  The only thing that I can think of that would actually do that is risk.  Taking a risk, doing something that scares the socks off me, something that truly overwhelms me, is the only way I’m guaranteed to give myself over to God.

Just over three years ago we traveled to Ethiopia to meet our son.  Our paperwork said that he was 3, but when we met him it was obvious he was older.  He did not speak a word of English and we had one a few words in Amharic, which probably sounded absurd to him.  “Pee?”  “Poop?”  “Drink?”  “I love you.”  He must have thought he was being adopted by the most profoundly ignorant people in the world who could only ask questions and speak in single words.  Except of course “I love you”, which, if I’m honest, was not entirely true at the moment, as I was freaking out that I was going to be taking this Ethiopian home with me for the rest of my life!  And wouldn’t you think it was odd if a random person (whose skin was the color of no one you had ever seen) started to say “I love you?”

My husband and I were afraid.  It was scary.  We second guessed ourselves over and over and over again.  And we have never before thrown ourselves into the arms of Jesus like we did on that trip…….and the months after.

And do you know what happened?  Jesus showed up.  He came through.  I’m not sure why that surprises me……He was the one that talked me into adopting in the first place.

Christians that live a safe life and NEVER reach outside of their comfort zone are missing out.  Jesus is there for you, he is with you, but if you don’t ever reach the point where you need Him so desperately, then true surrender may escape you.

Risk is where our faith is truly measured.