Saturday, January 31, 2015

Why Adoption?

Emily asked if I would share my thoughts on adoption, so you all get to hear from me today.

When I was young I always knew I wanted to adopt.  At the time, I couldn't explain where the feeling came from, but I just knew that I was going to adopt one day.  However, as I sit here thinking about that feeling and beginning to see that dream one step closer to a reality, I now know why.

I care about adoption because that's the heartbeat of God!

In understanding my own salvation I cannot get the words of the Apostle Paul out of my mind when he writes,

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insightmaking known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 
Ephesians 1:3-10 (emphasis mine)

The Bible tells us of the most amazing love story ever written and at the height of the story, salvation, we read that the way God communicates His love is as an adoptive father.

When you think about adoption, what we all must understand is that it is the unconditional love of the adoptive parent that motivates the adoption.  The picture that the Apostle Paul just painted for us is one of a loving father who is adding sons (and daughters) to His family.  What this loving father does is looks into our corrupt world and sees us in all of our shame, all of our filth, and says, "I want that one!"

Think about that.  Let that sink in.  In the same letter, Paul would write that before believers came to faith in Christ, we were "by nature children of wrath" (Eph. 2:3).  What this means is that we have no quality by ourselves that makes us appealing to God.  In fact, God should want nothing to do with us and if we are truthful with ourselves our sinful nature would be fine with that.  However, then Paul would go on to write two of the most beautiful words in Scripture, "But God," (Eph. 2:4).

But God, who is such a loving father chose, HE CHOSE, not to leave us in that state as orphans under His wrath.  Rather, He walked into our world, looked at us and said, "I want that one!  That one is mine!"  We didn't have to clean up in order for God to see us and adopt us.  That's religion.  Religion says, I'll do good things and clean up my life so that God will love me.  What God's Word says is that I'm chosen and adopted in my current state, with all my filth, with all my baggage, and God cleans us up.  God makes us worthy.  We don't do this on our own.  It's all about GRACE!

God chose to love us and adopt us because on our own, we would have never have chosen Him.  That is the message of the Gospel and that is reason why the language of adoption is used so many times in Scripture to communicate God's love for us.  This is also the reason why I believe that I have always felt this strongly about adoption.  Even if I could have never articulated it like that as a young boy.

What I see now is that since I have been adopted into God's family I am called to minister in the same way.  That is why Emily and I have chosen to pursue adoption.  There are so many kids in our world who need Christian families.  There are kids in our world who, unless Christian parents adopt them will likely never hear of the name of Jesus.  This should break our hearts.  It breaks God's heart.

Emily and I saw Brock and Betsy and our hearts broke for them.  Brock and Betsy live in a place to where they will probably never hear of the amazing love of our Heavenly Father.  Because they are not infants their chances for adoption goes down because people have hesitations adopting older kids.  We certainly had hesitations before committing to them.  However, when we step back and take a look at it God is not calling us to do something He hasn't already done Himself.

God could have said "There's no way I'm adopting that Rob guy.  He may not love me like I love him.  He may not appreciate all I went through to bring him into this family.  He may feel like an outsider because he's not like my other kids.  He is too far gone for me to bring him near."  God could have said all those things, but He didn't.

Yes, adoption is messy.  Yes, adoption is a lot of work.  Yes, adoption is risky.  But that's what God has called Emily and I to do.

As I am writing this I do not want anyone to feel like Emily and I are Christian elites because we are adopting.  Adoption is a very personal choice that everyone has to make on their own.  However, what we are wanting to communicate to whoever may be reading this is, if you are a Christian, you have been adopted into God's family and as members of God's family we are called to love what He loves as we are being made more into the image of His Son, Jesus, and God loves orphans.  He loves the orphan so much that He would sacrifice His own Son in order bring them into His family.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Margaret's Voice

If you were to sit down and have a coffee with me and we got into a deep, real conversation about what is going on in our lives, I am most certain that God’s sovereignty, specifically concerning growing our family, would come up.  You see, when we got married, we knew two things about growing our family 1. that we wanted a large family and 2. that we wanted to adopt. 

Before getting pregnant, I thought I would have all boys, 5 of them to be specific.  When I got pregnant with our first and we found out she was a girl, that idea of all boys went out the window.  I wanted all of my babies very close together and when I was unable to get pregnant for a year and a half after our first, that idea was gone too.  We fostered 3 boys when we lived in North Carolina, hoping to adopt through the foster care system.  They all went to live with family.  We moved to Austin and decided that we would spend about 6 months getting settled and get our daughter started in school and then we’d look into adoption.  Two weeks before she started school I found out I was pregnant.  9 months later I held a beautiful shell of a baby girl in my arms, never to see her smile or hear her cry.  I have learned that we can hope and plan for how our family looks, but ultimately it’s not up to me.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21

I have prayed very specific prayers for each of my girls while they’re in the womb.  And I have seen God begin to answer those prayers even in the way He has created them.  For our oldest, Jane, I prayed that she would love God’s people, the church.  It is evident by Jane’s introverted personality that she is going to work well in smaller, one-on-one settings, and with people that she knows and loves.  For our 2nd, Cora, I prayed that she would love the lost and have a burden for people who don’t know Jesus.  Cora’s personality is the complete opposite of Jane’s.  She is extroverted and will talk to anyone.  She is ridiculously stubborn and quick to reconcile.  When I was pregnant with Margaret, our 3rd daughter, I was a little sad that we weren’t able to adopt an orphan ourselves, so I prayed God would use Margaret to do that.  I prayed that she would love the orphan and the oppressed, and that she would be a voice for those who couldn’t speak for themselves.  Even though she isn’t here, God is carrying out His plan for her life, and we are seeing that prayer answered.

One of the ways God is answering that prayer is that we are adopting!!!!  Several months after Margaret’s passing I was skimming through the Reece’s Rainbow page under the “Newly Listed Children” and I came across this sweet, soon to be 11-year-old, boy.  He caught my attention right away and I told Rob about him.  I also noticed this other, 12-year-old girl, but I KNEW Rob wouldn’t go for adding two kids, so I didn’t even mention it… that is, until someone prompted me.  I happened to get in contact with a lady who has adopted a girl from the orphanage in eastern Europe where these two are located.  They all 3 were good friends and in the same group at school!  She gently asked if we would consider adopting both “Brock” and “Betsy” (these aren’t their real names, but we can’t announce those yet).  I talked to Rob and prayed and cried for months about adopting them, and one day this past December, God confirmed it in Rob’s heart too!

We are going to be parents again! 

If there is one thing God has taught us over the course of our marriage, it is this.  We might have a plan for how we think things should go, but God’s purpose always prevails.  And it’s always best.  It’s not always easy, but it’s good.  We are realizing that our family isn’t going to look like a conventional family, and that’s okay!  In fact, it’s awesome!  We are so looking forward to bringing these two home and our girls are excited about having a big brother and a big sister!  We would love your prayers and support.  We know that it is not going to be easy.  We realize that the adoption part is the “easy” part.  So we would especially appreciate prayers for the parenting part.

It also should be noted though that adoptions cost money… and lots of it!  Rob and I have been so encouraged in our faith by having the privilege of contributing to several adoptions over the past few years, and then getting to see those children come home!  It’s one of my favorite things in the entire world.  So we want to extend the same to you.  We would love for you to give however you can 1. because we need help!  and 2. because we want you to be a part of God’s plan for Brock and Betsy’s lives.  

We thought it would be cool for you to see the breakdown of costs and be able to give specifically towards a certain part of our trip.  So if you give through paypal or mail us a check, leave us a note as to which part of the journey you’d like to give towards.  We’ll cross them off as they’re funded, like we’ve done with the first few here that we’ve paid ourselves.  

$275- Love Offering to Reece's Rainbow and Family Sponsorship Application 
The Family Sponsorship program helps to raise money for our adoption grant.

$1250- Homestudy

$220- Our Passports

$900- USCIS, I-600a, and FBI fingerprinting
This is all the immigration paperwork that we file with our government. It is a petition that requests that we bring a foreign orphan in to the states.

$1000- Various Document Fees 
This is everything from acquiring "official" copies of documents needed for our adoption, to copying, faxing, notarizing, apostilling...(those four steps are done over, and over, and over again.)

$9400- Facilitation Fees
Review/approval of all dossier documents, translation of dossier documents, notarization of documents, submission of documents to the Ministry of Social Policy in their country, all bureaucratic and legal fees, translation of all of the children’s documents required for US embassy to get visa, donation to the orphanage (required)

$220 per child- Medical examination

$230 per child- Visa application in the US embassy

$720- I600 filing fee 

$250-$600 per child- passport (varies by region)

$2500- facilitation fee for 2nd child at the same orphanage

$6500- Flights
roundtrip flight for Emily, 2 roundtrip for Rob, one way for each child

$1000- lodging & food (4-6 weeks in EE)

-to and from orphanage everyday
-to and from court and all other appointments
-to and from the airport/train station

$2600- Adoption Agency
The country we are adopting from is not part of the Hague convention, so we have to have a Hague accredited adoption agency here in the states sign off on our adoption.



Thank you!  We are SO excited to share this journey with you!

Emily’s email- 
Rob’s email-

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Jane: 4 years old

Jane Alexa,

How is it that in 7 minutes it will be your 4th birthday?!  I have so enjoyed watching you grow this year.  It's been a big year for you.  You got a brother for about 8 months.  You shared your room and your toys and your life with him.  Just the other day, 2 months after he left our home, you were talking about Ian and referred to him as your brother.

We also moved to Texas this year.  I have never been more proud of you than when we moved and you didn't cry one time when going into your new class at church.  You were a great example and a great big sister to Cora.  You're learning to respond to people when they talk to you and to look them in the eye.  When we first got here though you wouldn't talk to them but you would smile so big and sweetly at them and then up at me like you knew you were doing good and wanted me to be proud.  And I was.  I am.  It makes me proud that you were desiring and trying to be brave even when you were a little scared.  That is courage.  And I will always be proud when you try your best, especially when what you're doing takes courage.

This year I've really seen you fall into the big sister role.  I love seeing how God is working this out in you because it is nothing we have done.  You ask Cora if she's ok when she gets hurt, you share your night-night in the car when she's screaming because she's bored or sad or she's gotten in trouble.  You tell ME often that it's going to be ok when I'm freaking out over a broken necklace or snake worms inside my house and you warn me when there are tree bugs on the deck.

You are so silly too.  You've started laughing (a forced, fake laugh :) to be silly and make us laugh.  You love to play Candyland (which I LOVE) and you have the biggest sweet tooth, just like your momma. ;)  In fact, I've allowed leftover cupcakes for breakfast for the past 2 days just so I could have one too. :)  You are a Daddy's girl through and through.  I don't think you realize yet that Daddy is here every night to put you to bed now because you ask him to every single night.  You have fun little games just between the two of you... you get to choose how he carries you to bed, upside down, riding on his foot or on his back.  You also smooch, smooch, SMOOCH your daddy.  I love seeing you two interact.  You have such a special relationship.  I pray you always look up to him and are able to talk to him and have fun with him.

In the letter I wrote to you last year I prayed that you would begin to understand that you're a sinner in need of a savior and that he is Jesus Christ.  It's happening.  The Holy Spirit is working in you.  Since we've lived in Texas you've been including Jesus in your prayers, thanking Him for dying on the cross for our sins.  You also make up songs about Him while you're playing.  Just a few days ago I overheard you singing, "Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe.  Sin hath left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow."

This year I will continue to pray for that.  That you would understand that Jesus is real and alive and the sacrifice He made for you because He loves you.  I also pray that you will be a leader this year among your friends and with Cora.  That you would hate what is evil and cling to what is good, learning to not only please man but God.

I love you, sweet girl.  I am so glad that God allowed me to be your mom.  I have treasured every minute of it and I am looking forward to growing with you this next year.  I love watching you learn and grow.  You are my smart, beautiful, big, baby girl.


Monday, March 18, 2013

Video Update

They've started playing together and it is so, so fun to watch.

Jane "reading" The Foot Book.  I love to hear her read.

Cora "reading" Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.  As you can see, she's destroyed the book.  She's destroyed lots of our books and it made me sad but I've decided I'll just have to replace them when she gets a little older.  She really loves to read and this is her absolute favorite.  I tried to read the shorter, board book version earlier today and she got up and got this one.  For now I'm just going to be grateful she likes to read. :)  Also, notice the "Nnnno!" near the beginning.  She likes to incorporate that into lots of her reading. ;)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Long, Hard Day

This morning we all woke up to be at the gym at 8am.  I do childcare and Rob works out from 8-9am.  I felt so bad waking up Cora.  I walked in her room, picked out her clothes, turned off her sound machine and rubbed her back to wake her up gently.  She didn't move.  She was SO sleepy.  Rob picked her up and put her in the car.

On the way to the gym we made a list of everything that was happening today.  Literally 7 things we had to do/be at today.  Lately our whole lives have felt like this but today I actually felt anxious, nervous, clammy hands, the works.  I just wasn't sure we could get it all done.

After Rob's class around 9:15 this morning we were standing around chatting at the gym when I heard Cora smack down hard, face first on the tile.  She looked right up at me and started screaming.  The second scream took as while as it was the hold your breath for 10 seconds, wait for it, type of scream.  I knew she had hit hard but she's also really dramatic.  But then came the blood.  There was lots of it.  And I don't do blood.  We drove straight to the pediatrician and I'm trying my hardest not to be sick.

They decide to see her instead of sending her to the ER and I start crying like a baby in the waiting area.  We had childcare lined up this morning because we had a showing at 10am and needed to get the house ready and have the kids out of the house.  I call my sister April in a panic and still sobbing to log into facebook for me to message the babysitter and let her know we wouldn't be there.  I didn't have her number and I have a dumb phone.

Pediatrician says he doesn't think Cora's teeth are affected but we could see a pediatric dentist if we thought we needed to.  I didn't look much but I did look enough to see blood pooling in her gums behind one of her two front teeth so a visit to the dentist should happen.

We came home.  The showing happened with all 3 kids.  I call the dentist and have to leave a message. They call me back a bit later as I'm running another errand and ask if I can come at 2pm.

Rob was helping a friend load his moving truck so I go alone with 3 kids to the dentist.  They take x-rays of her teeth and dentist comes in.  They don't see anything on the x-rays but the two front teeth are "mobile."  I have to ask if this means loose and he says yes but not bad.

There are 3 possibilities now: 1. That the teeth heal and are just fine.  2. That nerve damage occurs and they turn grey.  3. An abscess occurs and the tooth/teeth have to be pulled.  And so we wait.
One of the worst parts is that Cora can't have her paci anymore.  Every time she sucks it moves those teeth and the tissue around them and causes it to bleed again. :(

Bedtime went better than I expected it to.  I think it helped that she didn't get a nap today.  I think God was sovereign in this and am thankful that He works my schedule for good even when I think it's very bad.  Just another example of His ways being higher than ours and another opportunity to trust Him.  She cried twice.  Once we let her cry for 10 minutes then I went in and rocked her.  She was asleep in just a few minutes.  It was so sweet to get to rock my big baby to sleep.  She has gotten up once just now at 11pm.  We gave her tylenol, I sang her a song and she's back to bed with no crying.  I've prayed for months for a smooth, easy transition for Cora from the paci when the time comes.  I'm so thankful for this answered prayer so far.

I've had several big cries today about this situation today.  I'm just so sad for Cora that she's gone to bed with a paci and had it to soothe her every single day of her almost 19 months and now she doesn't.  I'm also sad that she won't have it for the transition to Texas.  I have been reminding myself that God is bigger than Cora's paci obsession and that He cares for Cora.  This is a big deal to her so it's a big deal to Him.  It's good to be reminded in the midst of hard, crazy times that we have a God who isn't far off and who loves us and cares for us.

*I was going to post a few pictures of Cora with her paci but looking through our photos it's hard to find one where she DOESN'T have her paci.  It was clipped to her always.  So I've posted a few of my favs that haven't been posted yet. Cora and her Gigi, my Grannie.  :)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Cora: 18 Months

Profile of an 18 Month Old Cora- 27lbs (90%) , 33 in. tall (95%), head- 40%

  • Interests: accessories of all kinds, 
  • Enjoys: getting in things she shouldn't be... the pantry, on top of the table, etc., her paci
  • Turn offs- being told no, not giving her what she wants when she wants it
  • Vices- tantrums, crying/whining
  • Strengths- smart, cuddly, cute

Favorites of an 18 month old Cora

  • Foods- anything
  • Songs- This Little Light of Mine (Shine), Pattycake Praise
  • Shows- She doesn't care one bit about the tv
  • Books- brown bear brown bear, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
  • Toys- baby doll,
  • Activities- reading books, 

She has lots of words but some of our new favorites are...

June Apple
tissue (for toilet paper)
Mommy/Daddy when she wakes up or is crying in the backseat of the car

How 18 month old Cora is like her...

mama- likes it when people are over to our house
daddy- thirsty all the time/drinks all day long

Treasuring 18 month old Cora bits & details

Cora will repeat anything we ask her to say.

I literally pray for Cora's safety every night before bed.  Once this past month she came into my room carrying a bag of marbles with 4 in her mouth!  Now I'm quick to put things away and always think about if Cora can get things or not.

Tonight I asked our little boy to get me a diaper and wipes so that I could change him.  He came back a few minutes later telling me he couldn't reach the diapers.  Cora came following after him carrying the package of diapers. ;)  That girl can get what she wants.

She is SO super sweet.  One thing I've noticed about Cora is that when she's reprimanded, spanked or just talked sternly to, she'll often reach up for us to hold her or come snuggle us if we're sitting on the ground.

Cora screams, cries and whines alot.  She always has.  Now though I can see why she's whining (ie. can't reach her cup) and have her repeat after me saying, "Cup, please!"  And she will!  Now if she could only ask without all the screaming... hopefully soon!

Her first paper from Sunday school.

 This past month I took Cora to a chiropractor after she was diagnosed with her 6th ear infection in 1 year.  The pediatrician mentioned putting tubes in her ears so I wanted to try the chiropractor route before we did that.  I happened to find a practice that adjusts kids' actual ears by pulling down and back on the ear lobe really fast, opening the eustachian tube and allowing the fluid to drain from her ears.  After Cora's first adjustment her nose immediately began to pour snot, she developed a fever that night and even had drainage from her eyes for several days!  It was all of the fluid leaving her body.  I wasn't sure if I believed it at first but after just that first visit there was no fluid in her ears!  I was shocked.  She was adjusted a couple times that first week.  We went today after not going for a week and there's still no infection and no fluid at all!  The doctor also felt Cora's spine today and told me that her t5 vertebrae was out.  T5 is the vertebrae in the very middle of the back that is linked to the stomach.  He said often kids who's t5 is out have reflux issues.  Well.  If anyone knows Cora you know she spit up for her entire first year!  We changed Cora's clothes and our own several times a day and she was given the nickname Mt. St. Helen from my cousin Amber. ;)  If only we had found it sooner!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Keeping Austin Weird

We have some big news and it's that we're moving to Austin, Texas!  Rob is going to be the student pastor at First Baptist Church of Oak Hill.  This wasn't our plan at all but it's so cool to see how God works things out when we give it completely to Him.

We have spent the last year going through a Church Planting Residency that Rob helped our Leadership Pastor develop.  Our church is planting two local churches that we were planning to be a part of.  When it came down to it, we didn't feel like they were a great fit for us and we didn't have a peace from God about it.  So... we went back to square one and started really seeking the Lord and what he would have for us.  We prayed specifically that God would make our next steps very clear and that we wouldn't move without knowing that.

Rob wasn't really open to student ministry at first.  He gifting and passions are with discipleship ministry.  After we began praying God really opened our eyes to student ministry and confirmed it in Rob's life through other Godly men that he really respects.  We have "couch dates" on Tuesday nights where we catch up about big things in our life... parenting issues, small group, finances, etc. and we used our Tuesday nights to talk and pray about what God would have next for us.  So one particular Tuesday night we talked and both felt like student ministry is where God was leading and we again prayed that God would make His path clear for us.  Three days later on Friday morning, Rob met our Leadership Pastor Jeff Doyle at a coffee shop where they meet every Friday.  He told Jeff that he felt God leading us towards student ministry and Jeff told him that he knew of a position Rob might be interested in.

Our church Northwake is a mission minded church, more than any we've ever been a part of before.  Northwake has over 30 "far flung friends" or missionary units across the globe.  Every Sunday we pray for a different far flung family.  So for the past 5 years that we've been at this church we've been praying often for Rob and Kristie Satterfield and their children, Shiloh and Judah.  They were missionaries to Turkey for 10 years and unbeknownst to us moved to Austin, Texas a year and a half ago for Rob to pastor FBC Oak Hill.  It was basically a church revitalization.  When the Satterfields got there there was about 40-50 people attending and now there's around 120!  Rob Satterfield had contacted Jeff the day before asking him if he could recommend anyone for student ministry.  The church had grown and he needed help!

So from the beginning of this adventure we have seen God's hand and heard his answer to our prayer to make things clear for us.  We are so thankful for that!  That was last October.  Rob sent his resume', we skyped with Rob and Kristie and in January Rob, myself and Cora flew to Austin to meet the congregation.  Jane stayed back with our friends Scott and Laura, who also happen to be the coaches at our gym.  We were a little nervous about leaving Jane, not because we didn't trust Scott and Laura, we just weren't sure if Jane would be sad or not.  One day about a week before we left I was really struggling with what to do.  When I put Jane to bed she asked to pray and she prayed for Scott and Laura and thanked God she was going to stay with them.  She also prayed for Mommy, Daddy and Cora to have fun on their trip on the airplane and to see the church.  We didn't even know she knew that much about what we were doing.  It was SUCH a sweet confirmation from the Lord that she was going to be just fine.  And she was!  She had SO much fun and we are so thankful to Scott and Laura for taking care of her.

This is proof my children are so different.  Jane would never have been this close to strangers playing.

Airport Nap

Rob, Cora and I had such a great time in Texas too getting to know Rob, Kristie and the people at FBC Oak Hill.  They are such sweet people who really love their youth and see the importance of ministering to them.  They were really some of the most welcoming people too giving up cars, homes, time, and money and watching Cora for us (once overnight!) so that Rob and I would feel comfortable and have a good time.

 This is the only picture I took in TX.  It's in Rob Satterfield's parents front yard.  We counted 16 deer!

 So, this past week the church voted and offered Rob the position and we have accepted!  We are hoping to leave the first week of April but need to sell or rent out our house before then.  We are praying about that too and would love for you to join us if you think about it.  We are planning to rent in TX so it's not the end of the world if we don't sell but would rather not have a house in NC to think about if we didn't have to.  We are however trusting God for that too.  His ways as we've seen aren't always the same as ours but they're always best.