Monday, May 18, 2009

The roller coaster ride begins

As some of you may recall from my previous post, we have been waiting for several months for our Bulgarian agency to receive the files of the girls that we hope to adopt so that we could officially submit our "commitment papers." We heard from the agency director this morning that one of our girls is in the process of being adopted by another family. Unfortunately we will not know which of the girls it is until our agency receives the file of the other girl (her file is currently with another agency as well, but our agency is the next in line to receive it if another family within that agency does not step forward). We knew that this was a possibility and had prepared ourselves for this when welcoming the girls into our hearts, but it was still difficult news to receive.

We are disappointed to know that this little girl will not be joining our family, but we rejoice knowing that she WILL know the love of a forever family. We know that she will be joining the family that the Lord has prepared for her and that the child who is meant to be with our family will be with us as well. Our Heavenly Father's plan is perfect for each and every one of us involved.

There is another child that we are strongly considering. We learned of this child (whose file is currently with our agency) just over a month ago and we were immediately drawn to them, but we knew that we could not walk away from either of our girls. They were already the children of our hearts and we were committed to bringing them home. Now that we know that one of our sweet girls will be joining another family, we feel that the Lord is once again guiding us to this other child.

Please pray for us as we grieve the "loss" of one of our girls and make a decision concerning this other child. We know that the Lord's hand is guiding this process and that His plan is bigger than our own. As always, we are excited to see where He leads us!

Monday, May 11, 2009

iPod Giveaway

As many of you may know, adoption is expensive. In an effort to raise the funds to bring our girls home from Bulgaria, we will be giving away a blue, 8GB iPod nano.

Here is how it works: For each $5 donation made to our adoption fund, your name will be entered into a drawing that will be held on June 1st (for example, if you make a donation of $10, your name will be entered twice, $25, your name will be entered five times, etc.). For an additional (free) chance to enter, all you have to do is share our blog/giveaway information on your blog, Facebook , Twitter, etc. (please make sure you leave a comment letting us know you have shared this giveaway with others so we are able to enter your name into the drawing). On June 1st, we will draw a winner! To donate, use the ChipIn widget on the sidebar. All donations will go directly into our adoption account.

We appreciate each and every donation that is made to our family's adoption fund. Every dollar goes a long way in helping us to bring our girls home and we are excited to be able to offer something in return! We thank you in advance for supporting our adoption and helping us to complete our family!

Winner will receive a blue, iPod nano, earphones and USB 2.0 adaptor.

Features include:
8 GB capacity for 2,000 songs, 7,000 photos, or 8 hours of video
Up to 24 hours of music playback or 4 hours of video playback when fully charged
2-inch LCD with blue-white LED backlight and 320-by-240-pixel resolution
Supported audio formats: AAC, Protected AAC, MP3, MP3 VBR, Audible, Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV
Supported video formats: H.264, MPEG-4; Supported image file types: JPEG, BMP, GIF, TIFF, PSD (Mac only), and PNG

*Please note: This iPod was acquired through an IT convention attended by my husband and has a small engraving on the back ( It is brand new, unused, in it's original packaging.

How "our" girls came to be. . .

After being immersed in the international adoption process for almost a year, I was ready to be done. Five was a great number, right? I certainly thought so. But as we sat in our small, cold hotel room in a tiny town in Eastern Ukraine, a quiet voice whispered to my heart that our family was not yet complete. I quickly silenced the voice by placing my earphones into my ears and turning on my iPod, letting the music drown out my thoughts. I was just not ready to think about doing this all over again. I had just come home from Uzbekistan four weeks prior and we were two weeks into our first trip to Ukraine. I just needed to focus on the here and now.

As we boarded our flight home from our first trip to Ukraine, I noticed several "older" Ukrainian children with their new adoptive parents. The joy and excitement (mixed with a little fear and trepidation) at the thought of their new lives, surrounded by loving families, was evident and it struck a cord in my heart.

On Christmas Eve (2007), just a few short day after returning home with Evan, we happily dressed the kids in their Christmas pajamas and lined them up on the couch for pictures. . .the first pictures of all five of our children together. I shed a tear or two as the miracle of that moment sank deep into my heart. Once the photo shoot had concluded, we tucked our little people into bed and I headed back to the home office to look at the pictures we had taken. My heart all but stopped as I pulled up the first picture on my computer screen. I very clearly saw 7 children sitting there. I shook my head, blinked and ultimately chalked it up to severe jet lag, but the impression had been made upon my heart and I could no longer tune out that quiet voice that continued to whisper to my heart that our family was not yet complete.

I waited several weeks before I shared these thoughts, impressions and experiences with Richard. I knew that he would think I had completely lost my mind (I thought I had completely lost my mind, so there was very little doubt that Richard would concur). In the mean time, the Spirit continued to remind me that there were still children missing from our family. At the playground, I would quickly count my children. . .1,2, 3, 4,5 and was confused to feel that someone was still missing. One Sunday morning, an elderly lady at church walked up to our pew and took a long, hard look at our family. She then asked us, "When did you adopt two more?" Richard and I looked at each other, confused and then she quickly corrected herself, "Oh, there are only 5, I thought I had counted 7."

The official "adoption talks" began in May/June 2008. Although we both wanted to return to Ukraine, with travel times lengthening, we knew that it was not the right choice for our family this time around. We soon learned that, Bulgaria, whose international adoption program had slowed to a trickle over the past few years, was once again moving. With no age or family size restrictions and travel times and fees that fit our situation, we felt that it was the right program for us. We only wished that the agency we had used for our previous adoptions had a program in Bulgaria.

A few weeks after we began talking about Bulgaria, I learned from our agency director (without mentioning our plans to her) that, About A Child would be partnering with a Bulgarian agency to begin a program in Bulgaria. We knew that the Lord had led us to the place where we would find our "missing piece(s)."

Shortly after we learned about our agency's plans to open a program in Bulgaria, we had to put our plans on hold. Joshua and Evan had been accepted for treatment at Shriners Hospital for Children in Philadelphia and the initial treatment would be rigorous. We knew that we must put their needs first and so our adoption plans were placed on the back burner. We knew that the Lord's timing was perfect, THAT had certainly been made manifest many times throughout the process of bringing Joshua and Evan home and we knew it would be the case this time around as well.

In February, as I was making plans to schedule Joshua's next post placement report with our social worker, I was reminded that our current homestudy would expire in mid-May. An update would be exponentially cheaper and involve far less paperwork. We knew that another adoption was in our future and so we made the decision to update. Shortly after making that decision, I learned of two beautiful little girls who were available for adoption in Bulgaria. The first little girl that stole my heart was "M." She was a beautiful 8 year-old girl, listed with another agency, just waiting for a family to call her own. I then learned that "M" had come to the agency as a referral for another family whose dossier was already in Bulgaria. They had two weeks to decide whether or not they would accept her referral. In the meantime, I learned of another little girl, "D." She was a gorgeous little girl who had just turned 7 years-old. She was born with cerebral palsy, but she was not letting that slow her down. Her amazing smile won me over in an instant and I knew that she was meant to be ours.

A few weeks later, I learned that the family who had been considering "M" had turned down the referral and that she was, once again, available for consideration. As soon as I showed her picture to Richard he said, "She's the one!" The agency that the girls were listed with was nearing the end of their two-month period with their files (in Bulgaria, the Ministry of Justice maintains a list of 700+ children (most who are older, sibling groups or have special needs). Bulgarian agencies can request the files of the children on this list to share with their clients for consideration. Each agency has two months to try to find families for the children whose files they are in possession of, at which point the files are given to the next agency who has requested them). Although the agency that they were currently listed with was wonderful, we were still hopeful that we would be able to use our previous agency (and their Bulgarian counterpart) to bring the girls home.

I contacted the director of the Bulgarian agency working with About A Child and told her about "our" girls. I shared with her the indentifying information that I had and soon learned that she had requested M's file back in mid-November and that she should be one of the next in line to receive it and, in the meantime, she requested D's file as well.

We have been waiting for several months to receive the files and we are still waiting. In the meantime, we have completed our homestudy update, have officially signed on with our agency and will be filing our I-800A (request for immigration approval to adopt an orphan from a Hague Convention country) as soon as we have received a copy of our homestudy. We know that, if it is the Lord's will, we will be able to bring "our" girls home and we know that the timing will be perfect. His plan is so much bigger (and better) than ours. We are reminded of that each and every day as we step back in awe and take in all that He has blessed us with.

So, while we are still waiting to know whether or not we will be able to bring our girls home, we DO know that we are on the right path and that it is the right time and we are doing everything that is in our power to move forward in every way that we can. The rest is up to the Lord and we are excited to see what He has in store for us!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Back on the front lines. . .

I am very excited to announce that the "Trenches of Adoption" are once again open for business! We are heading back to the front lines to welcome TWO more beautiful children into our home and family.

We began the process of updating our current homestudy at the end of February and officially signed on with our agency last week. Our newest additions will be joining us from Bulgaria. Although we are still awaiting official confirmation concerning their availability, we are hoping to adopt two, beautiful "little" girls, ages 7 and 8 years old (the youngest with mild cerebral palsy) who are currently listed on the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice's Waiting Children's list. We are excited at the prospect of evening out the estrogen in our home and cannot wait to share more details of our journey with you!