Thursday, August 3, 2017

Very Soon

The plane tickets are purchased. The apartment is lined up-- we're just about ready to go. In three weeks we will be on our way to D's country in Northern Europe. We're gathering up items to pack, including all of the "just in case" things like Tylenol and trash bags. D's bag is already packed. And that alone tells me everything I need to know. We're so excited to see him!

It was about a month ago that I woke up from a vivid dream. Dreams aren't frequent for me, and realistic dreams are even less common for me. In my dream, we had surprised him by arriving in his country. He was at the dentist office, reclined in the chair when we came into the room. He got up, came over and hugged me. In that dream I could feel the hair on the back of his neck and even smell his soap. At that point I woke up, feeling disoriented because it had seemed that real. And my thought at that time was, "It's going to be very soon."

And it is. We will keep you posted on our travels as we are able.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Overwhelmed

It's only Wednesday, but it feels like it should be Friday. This week we were overwhelmed to receive donations in addition to those on our YouCaring account that pushed us up and over the edge of what we needed for our immigration application and dossier. That means we're now working towards in country costs for trip 1. This is a really big deal! We are just over 1/3 of the way to our final total. It's amazed us how many people have given a financial gift in the past few months, told us that they were praying, or have asked about him and shown excitement about our news.

In the midst of the paperwork, planning fundraisers, writing grants and organizing documents it can be easy for me to get tunnel vision and focus only on the task at hand, but a few times each week, I receive the same text, "So Mom, when are you and Dad coming to get me?"

He's waiting so patiently. But each time I receive one of those texts, it encourages me to stay up a little bit later to work on the grant writing, pick up extra sub jobs for the classes with a more challenging dynamic, and pray. He has a face and a name and there isn't a moment that we aren't thinking of him. The only comparison I have is that when I was expecting each of our three biological children, once I knew of the pregnancy, there wasn't a waking moment that I "forgot" I was pregnant. The similarity is that there isn't a waking moment that I'm unaware of him, of the eight hour time difference and that he's beginning his day when we're ending ours and what we need to do to bring him home.

I remember sitting at the big "clash" football game last fall a few weeks after he had headed back to his country. The sounds and activity were overwhelming with the bands on the field, the players, the cheerleaders and dancers, all of the students. I sat and just took it all in. I wondered what he would think of it all if he was here and had a moment where I allowed myself to dream, "What if he's here for this next year?" With the way things are going, there's a chance he really could be here for that game this fall.

I don't want to get caught up on a timeline and predict too far ahead what I think will happen. There's only so much control we have over this-- so much of it will depend on waiting for translation, for his country to decide on court dates, for our social worker to complete her part. But I admit it... we would love to take him to that football game.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Stepping out of the boat

The past few months have been a roller coaster of emotions for our family. And what seemed impossible, now appears to be possible. To quote the Bandit, "We have a long way to go and a short time to get there" but deep in my soul, I believe that we will indeed get there.

I listened to an online sermon today from my home church up north on Peter stepping out of the boat. The message resonated with me, challenged and encouraged me. Multiple books have been written on this and probably countless sermons have been preached on the topic, but only because the idea of taking a risk to do something extraordinary yet improbable reaches down deep inside to a touch-point that God purposely designed and placed there.

 If you had told me a year ago that we would be moving forward to adopt a child, I would have been skeptical. Greg and I had long talked about adoption, but never pursued it.  After locking eyes one last time with D in O'Hare last summer before he left, that whisper came, "Step out of the boat". The hollowness I felt echoed the whisper when his shoes weren't lying by the door, his toothbrush had been packed away and Justin Timberlake no longer played in his room. And yet, I fought it. Because how do I know if this is what I'm supposed to do, or just what I really want?

This whole process has been a time of asking God to speak slowly and use little words so that we don't miss the point, we don't miss His leading and we don't make an error in judgement. It's easy to view everything through my lens and believe there is a tidy answer that aligns perfectly with my perspective. But we all know it isn't that simple.

Amidst the complexity, our prayer has become, "Lead us where you want us to go and close the doors we're not meant to walk through." And after months of slowly walking down a dimly lit hallway and tripping over gray objects, the most important door in the process has swung wide open.

I hear the waves and my feet are dangling over the side. I can't help but wonder if Peter felt like he was going to throw up when he moved his leg up and over the edge, or if he was simply euphoric, a combination of the two, or something else entirely. Someday I'll have to ask.



Monday, January 16, 2017

Full Circle

I had been wanting to join a ladies' Bible study for awhile. In the past, I had attended one that met in the morning during the week, but as I got busier with work, it just didn't make sense to continue. Last Monday evening was the first meeting and it was wonderful. Afterwards, chatting with a few of the ladies, I couldn't shake the feeling that I knew one of them from somewhere. The details began to fall into place: three children close together in age, had lived in the area for a long time. It was her. It was the woman who helped me at Sarah Bush eleven years ago.

Eleven years ago Brenna had strep, Sam and Emily were small and only sixteen months apart in age and I needed to take Brenna to the doctor. Greg had class and work, friends were busy and by necessity it was going to be a family outing for the siblings that day. After seeing the doctor, Brenna laid herself down in the middle of the foyer at Sarah Bush and refused to get up. If you've ever had a kindergartner go limp, you know exactly how hard it is to get them back up-- especially if you need to push a double stroller any distance while carrying the limp noodle.

It was then that this woman, who I had never met before, purposely approached me, pushed the stroller out to my car with me and then re-entered the hospital for her son's appointment. She doesn't remember this happening. I do.

This act of kindness reassured me that I was not on my own as a mother. Her reaching out assured me that people didn't simply stare at our family when autistic behavior was evident for all to see. It meant so much to me and made me love my community more. It made me want to have eyes to see and help others, if (and this was a big if) I ever reached a place with children walking upright that freed up my hands to walk alongside and help others.

God has such a sense of humor bringing this full circle.


"And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father."

Colossians 3:17

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Reflections on the beauty of failure and jagged edges

I had good intentions of blogging regularly while D was with us these past four weeks. It isn't that it has been four weeks without event, conversation or growth. It's just that the longer I host and the more I spend time with him, the more I realize how so much of our time together isn't necessarily mine to share. Here are a few thoughts and snippets that I feel are "mine" that I can let you take a peek at.

D is a wonderful and complex young man. We weathered a rough week during week 2-3, had a big conversation on Christmas Eve that put lots of his questions out in the open. Frank conversation can be hard for me-- I grew up in a home where you often ignored or danced around difficult conversations. This is new territory to simply ask, "Are you angry with me? Let's talk about it." It was also new to reassure him, "It's okay if you're mad at me." And the all time favorite D quote from our time together, "You failed me, mom." The first time I heard it, I felt like I had been kicked. I didn't even have a response because the shock and hurt were pretty consuming. It led to some time in reflection, prayer and digging into the core of why it ate me up when he said that.  The next time I heard it, I hugged him and said, "Then it's really like you're part of the family. Because I fail my husband and children spectacularly on a regular basis. Get in the "mom-failed-me" line and enjoy the view."

And at that point, all passive aggressive behavior stopped and we grew closer.

When friends ask, "How's it going?" I hesitate to share some of those little gems. I don't want to portray D in a negative light. And I don't want to insinuate that hosting was always difficult or without reward. On the contrary-- it's been an amazing time together. We had spiritual conversations that resulted in him sharing his honest views and questions, not just giving me Sunday School answers that will make me happy. I feel like we had the chance to know him better, and not just in the sense of the exotic: "Wow! A teen from Eastern Europe who has a completely different culture and language we can learn more about". No, this hosting was getting to know him better, and that was a lovely experience.

The more I reflect, the more I believe that the rough, jagged edges of our time together came from his comfort level and a careful "push" at us. Are we really safe? Do we really care about him-- even if he's challenging in the moment? Honestly, I came to see these difficult moments as a beautiful thing. Because my biological kids can be real stinkers sometime, but know that we'll always love them no matter what. I hope he came away with the same realization.


Friday, December 9, 2016

Gifts and Waiting

Tomorrow is the big day-- D arrives. He left for the airport at 4 am his time (8 pm our time) today. His new flannel sheets are washed and on his bed. His clothes are washed and put away in his dresser. Three of his four gifts are waiting under the tree, and those gifts have been the most challenging part of preparing for his return. Our family simplified gift giving last year and decided to use the same system again this year: Something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read.

Read? English is his second language. We debated ordering Harry Potter in his language, but after texting with him, were thrilled to discover that he likes "Greg's Diary" in English. So Diary of a Wimpy Kid books are wrapped and waiting.

Want? Who knows what he really wants. He asked for a shirt that says "Captain Crazy" on it. (Thank you Doris at Winning Stitch-- it's perfect!). And he would like a package of Whoppers. He refuses to commit to any other gift idea or hope for a gift. Maybe he feels uncomfortable suggesting a gift. Maybe it's just awkward. I can't pretend to know. We spent five weeks with him this summer, but only now are really getting to know more about what he thinks and feels.

Wear? I almost teared up walking into a department store and being helped by a teenage boy with the same pants size and haircut. A few shirts are wrapped under the tree, but the majority of his clothes are waiting for him in his dresser.

Need? This gift has yet to be purchased. I don't know what he needs. At our initial hosting, I thought he needed many things, but I didn't really understand his situation. I probably still don't completely grasp the reality of his life. I believe he needs more people in his corner-- to believe in him, encourage him and just love him through his teen years. Because really, the teen years are hard enough on their own.

The only thing D has asked for is if we will bring coffee for him to the airport. He doesn't want to be sleepy on the way home, but wants to stay up and visit. This time tomorrow we'll be settling back in with him at home. Looking forward to the 4 weeks ahead!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

When It Isn't What I Hoped For

The past several months have been ones where I have hung on tightly to my faith, believing that we were called to a specific child for a specific purpose. I still believe we've been called to this child, but the path isn't the one I envisioned. Can I just level with you? I don't have a clue as to what God's doing here.

Was this to simply love on this child for a brief time?

Was it to make us more sensitive to those who are vulnerable and to families in the adoption process?

Was it so that he'll have two more people in the world who pray for him each and every morning at breakfast and each night when we tuck in our other three?

Was it to teach us generosity when we briefly peered over a ledge of financial uncertainty-- realizing we'd never accomplish this on our own? Because I swear I will never be apathetic towards anyone fundraising for an adoption ever again.

Was it to show us that God's best might not be in line with what we think is best?

Was it to guard the heart of the one who has taken care of him for so very long?

I really don't know.

Here's what I do know. This beautiful boy is loved by people on two continents.This entire situation doesn't surprise God. I kind of wish it did--- but it doesn't. We were showered with support from some of the most unexpected of friends and family and I don't take that for granted.

He isn't gone forever-- he just won't live here with us. And I can be good with that most days if he's happy. And hopefully as time passes, I can be good with that every day.