Thursday, June 28, 2007

Inconvenient Grace

There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant. A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to tear down, and a time to build. A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them; a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces. A time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away. A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to be silent, and a time to speak. A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. - Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

This incredible journey has been one in which God has extended grace beyond measure to us. It has been much more than God bringing an orphan child into a family that had room to spare. It has been God teaching us DAILY to walk in faith in very tangible ways. As we have wound down to what we feel is the latter stages of the adoption process, we have been waiting and watching God to provide the last portion of finances and orchestrate the paperwork. So imagine how incredibly inconvenient it was for us when I realized that I would need to walk away from a job that I loved. What terrible timing! God called me to obey Him by standing for truth and following principles of scripture and conscience, but I was left asking the question, "What now!?!"

God anticipated that question long before I asked it and prepared a response that would teach us to walk a little closer to Him. The gap to reach our financial goal was $5500. Yes, you read that correctly: was. In an incredible act of selflessness, a family who we have never met bridged the gap for us. An adoptive family themselves, they have been praying for our family and Kristina for some time and now have blessed with this incredible gift. We are speechless and praise God for providing a way in the absence of what I thought would be our provision. Once again, He is showing us that this act of mercy toward an orphan child will be to glorify Him and Him alone. Praise God with us for His faithfulness!!!

He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God
Micah 6:8

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Fumble and Recover

Of course there was one paper that presented a snafu, so we have been working on having it redone. We were promised that it would be ready tomorrow. When that call comes, I will be out the door to pick it up and send it off. Almost done, almost done. That's what I keep telling myself.

Please pray for us as we enter this part of the adoption process. We're going to need to make an important decision very soon. I can't speak to the specifics right now, but we need God's clear direction concerning timing. I know He will be faithful to show us His will. Please pray.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Apostille, not Apostle

Had to explain that one to Robert, "I said apostille, not apostle!" Apparently saying it louder doesn't make the concept any more understandable. Here in the states, we have notaries who verify paperwork as legitimate signed documents. However, the rest of the world can't verify whether American notaries are legitimate, so the Hague Convention created apostilles. An apostille is certificate from the US government that verifies the notaries seals as authentic. Every single form and piece of paperwork included in our adoption dossier muct have its own apostille. I am at the point where I am gathering my paperwork and preparing it for its trip to the Florida Dept of State for apostilling. Apostilling is not cheap; each apostille costs $10.00. I won't complain too much though, Florida is cheap compared to other states. Our friend Tami is in the same place as us with the process. Pray that this last leg can be accomplished quickly. Once its done, everything goes to Ukraine!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Sister Humor

Hannah is sitting at the table enduring her three brothers "boy talk" over lunch. You know, the gross stuff boys think is really funny (particularly when other people are eating). She had had about all she could take and looked up at me in exasperation and said, "Mom, could we speed up this adoption thing? These boys are killing me. We need another sister around here!"

Friday, June 15, 2007

Eventually, a Watched Pot Will Boil

I eyed the mailbox and tried not to get overly anxious about the possibility of our I-171 form being contained therein. I had sent an e-mail to the Orlando USCIS office yesterday hoping they could verify if our home study had even been received. Some others in our group are having concerns over their I-171 as well, so I tried not to get my hopes up. I unlocked the box and peered into the darkness to see a stack of the usual deliveries. I thumbed through bills, a letter from grandma for the kids, a catalog, and then there it was. The anticlimactic government envelope stared back at me as if it had always been there and couldn't understand why my pulse had quickened and I was resisting the urge to dance right there in the street. Feeling a little like Charlie from Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, I flipped it over as the lyrics to "I've Got a Golden Ticket" play somewhere in the back of my mind. I opened it then and there. Not only had our home study been received, but our orphan petition had been approved and forwarded to the American Consulate in Ukraine! I know this happens everyday for families all across America, but this letter was for us. It was for Kristina. At this point we wait to hear on the other paperwork that's being proofed, send everything to Tallahassee for apostilling, and then send it to Ukraine with a request for a travel date! Sounds easy enough, right?

Friday, June 08, 2007

Back to the Water

Summer officially began for us as a family today. It was the first morning that Robert went off to work early and we all slept a little later. After tidying up the house, we ran errands and then met Robert for lunch. But it felt like summer when we headed to the community pool. I claimed a shady spot with a book that I've been working on since my NY trip. The kids threw themselves into the cool blue waters and played for two hours. I am grateful for their ability to get along and play together. They're more than siblings; they're good friends.

We spent so much time together at the pool last summer. Kristina loved the pool. She showed little fear of the water and learned to swim very quickly. It was the one activity that all the children loved. It was great exercise and wore them out. I think about Kristina at camp now. The orphanage closes each summer to give the workers a break and the children are sent to a camp on the Black Sea. Don't get any glamorous ideas; the facility was a Soviet indoctrination camp at one time. I visited it last Spring with Pastor John from Vineyard Church in Virginia. Concrete everything. Not exactly our concept of a summer get-a-way. The children have a very structured schedule at the camp and spend time on the beach daily. As I slathered sunscreen on my four before they hit the water, I thought about Kristina. I considered buying a bottle to slip into her next care package. Sunscreen is a luxury; she'll be lucky if she even has a swimsuit. Apart from overexposure to the sun, I am concerned about her time at the camp. Supervision is not what it is at the orphanage and the kids roam a little more freely than usual. Pray for Kristina that she will be safe and protected throughout the summer.

We continue to watch the mail daily for our I-171. The poor mailman thinks we're stalking him. Pray that that little piece of paper makes it to us soon.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Reality TV

I just saw an advertisement for a program that ran last summer: America's Got Talent. The new season is starting soon. While I'm a fan of some reality shows, this one definitely isn't my taste. Kristina was in her first week of settling in during last summer's hosting program and the children were still away at camp. Fresh from her bath, she was snuggled into the chair-and-a-half with me enjoying command of the remote control. As she surfed the cable free options we have to choose from, she paused on the premier of America's Got Talent and was instantly mesmerized. Thinking she would believe this was a sampling of real Americans, I encouraged to find something else to watch. LOL! What would she think of the people from our country??? But the jugglers, acrobats, singers, dancers, and magicians were fascinating to her. "I do that!" she would declare. We would laugh at her as she hopped up to try the dance moves. She watched the zany series through its finale. We'd watch it for another season if we could see her reactions again!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Living Vicariously

The blog world has created an interesting phenomenon for adopting families. Many of us are now journaling our experience through the process online. The concept remains controversial as some would argue over legal and privacy issues, but there is real value in recording these events not only for ourselves but for others. Undoubtedly, PAP's (Potential Adoptive Parents) can search the web and find another family's blog not only on the country that they're adopting from, but often the city and specific orphanage. Contained therein is priceless information on the conditions and customs of that area of the world. But perhaps more valuable is the experience of the family writing the blog. We get an honest view of the process and learn what to expect and not expect. We are blessed to live vicariously through the experience of another adoptive family. We experience the joy of seeing a child that will be their son or daughter for the first time and glean wisdom from the mistakes they make.

The Hales are in Ukraine now adopting their two beautiful daughters; both girls happen to be at Kristina's orphanage. Imagine our gratitude when they sought out our child to love on her and remind her that her family was coming soon. I am thankful for the families that have gone before us and allowed us to learn through their experience. You have made the path smoother for all of us.