Answered Prayer

April 28, 2009

“I pray that He will continue to reveal Himself and His will to you as you trust Him minute by minute” –Sue Lowe

“…for Your wisdom, your clarity and your peace to be with them in all the upcoming days of questions, answers, and decisions.” –Jodi Tucker

“Give them Your infinite peace that passes human understanding…” –Courtney Day

“..That they would be confident in the decisions they have to make, and would not second guess where you’re leading them. Make your voice clear to them, Father.” –Jen Quirk

“For you to hold tightly to God’s hand as He continues to guide you both through this journey.” –Joni Burns

“..help them to process the information and that they are able to make clear and peaceful decisions.” –Ronnie Lowe

“Lord, uphold them, strengthen them, give them peace, give them clear minds, clear answers as they wait in this waiting room to meet their new little one.” –Helen Alphin

“I ask that you speak clearly to them and confirm your plan for their family in their hearts.” –Sarah

“May you allow yourself to be quieted with his love so that His voice will be clearly heard..” –Courtney Rae

“Jesus, please fill Kate and Steve with the KNOWING that one day they will hold their child and be grateful for every delay and every change of direction.” –Brenda Mitchell

“I pray for wisdom and much discernment for both Steve and Kate as they need to make some big decisions, but I also pray for trust if they feel that not much clarity is there.” –Marci Bucciarelli

“I ask that you surround Katie and Steve with encouragement during this time that will help them find the comfort they need in Your love” –Michal Rudolph

“I ask that you would make it clear to them what you want for their lives, I ask for peace of mind after the decisions are made and Father, finally, I ask that your will be done.” –Katie Gamby

“please grant Your peace, wisdom, and calm to steve and kate’s minds and hearts. we praise You for being in control.” –Kirsten Smith

“Please help make the answers more clear at this moment because I too stand in their footsteps of similar confusion and heartache and I know that the sooner you provide some answers, the stronger and more optimistic we can be.” –Katie Phillips

“Give them peace, discernment, and greater trust in You as their loving and good Father. You are the God of every detail, every paper trail and every child’s heartbeat.” –Megan Kunkler

These were just excerpts from the many prayers that were offered up to God on our behalf. These were just the ones written on the blog, not to mention the phone calls, emails, facebook messages, texts, and “in person” prayers I want to first let you know that these prayers HAVE BEEN ANSWERED!

Although there has been much struggle and frustration and seeking God on what He wants, asking Him to open and close doors and be our clarity when our vision is blurry, He has responded. He has given us a peace that has passed certainly my understanding. So, thank you so much for your prayers. It is so humbling and encouraging to know that so many people are praying. That even amidst your own personal struggles and pain and life, you have taken the time to bring our prayers to God. So, thank you.

I would like to update you a little on the ups and downs of this past week. We had a conference call with our agency and all of the other families who are registered in St. Petersburg on Wednesday. Our agency shared with us a lot of what we had already known from the email they had sent earlier: that adoptions are slowing down, that referrals are taking longer, that paperwork and some of the requirements are getting a bit more complicated. On the other hand, they seemed very encouraged and “regrouped” with all of the new policies and regulations and came across very confident in the life of the Russia program.

After the call, we still felt a lot of mixed emotions. We were encouraged that things seemed like they were moving, but still discouraged that the “moving” is not going to be as quick as we expected. So, we followed up with some more individualized questions the next day with our new case worker. It was great to talk with her. She speaks fluent Russian and she has great connections and relationships with the facilitators in Russia. She was very honest and knowlegable about our case. Here is  some new information that she gave us.

Updates:

  • As many of you know, our agency assigns families to specific regions. Our region was St. Petersburg
  • Our region has been changed from St. Petersburg to a city called Pskov (pronounced piz-kahv)
  • It is about 3 hours south west of St. Petersburg
  • We found out that we were officially registered in Pskov on April 7.
  • The wait time ESTIMATION is 8-10 months from the time of registration.
  • We were encouraged to extend our age limit from 18 months or younger to 24 months or younger. It is not a requirement, just an encouragement.

So, after finding out all of this new information, we were a little discouraged that it looks like we have around a year from now from when the little one comes home, based on our agency’s estimations. And I was completely surprised by the way my heart responded: Peace. Seriously.

I was fully expecting to be upset and confused by this information because I honestly didn’t think I could wait one more day to meet my little one, let alone, potentially another 8-10 months. But, there was peace. There was readiness and excitement for what is to come. What is great is that Steve and I completely agree together. We feel that although this is a set-back, and the wait time is longer than expected, the door to Russia is not closed. We just felt like we couldn’t walk away.

This is our story… and we know that it is not everyone’s who are in the same circumstance as we are, and that you reading this may have chosen a different option or path, but we feel that God has strongly put on our hearts to stay the course. To not let go. To not give up. That is what we can’t wait to tell our little one when we finally meet them. That we waited for them, even when we felt like our hearts couldn’t wait anymore; That in the face of trials and obstacles, we pushed through, with strength not of ourselves; that they are valuable, special and will never be able to say that they weren’t wanted. Ever.

Thank you again for your prayers. They’ve been a real encouragement to us. Please continue to pray for us on our little one as we continue to wait.

Until next Monday, love Kate & Steve.

A Call to Pray

April 21, 2009

This past Wednesday night, after I had the opportunity to share our adoption story at church, I came home and Steve read aloud an email that we received from our agency. Steve read it earlier in the afternoon, but wanted to wait until after my presentation to share it with me.  It was a pretty lengthy email from our agency explaining their findings from a recent trip to Russia.

The purpose of this trip was to see for themselves what is currently going on with international adoptions in Russia and why things have slowed down. They were able to meet with facilitators, local officials, orphanage care takers, etc. What they came away with was a lot of information that we would like to share with you.

What we have learned is that it is becoming more and more difficult for Americans to adopt from Russia. This slow down is partly because Russia is moving more towards a national foster care system for their children and also because of the recent court case that we mentioned earlier in our blog. What we know for sure right now is that our agency is reassigning certain families away from regions that have slowed to a close and into regions where more child referrals are taking place.

We also know that our agency is encouraging families to consider adjusting their desired age range from 18 months to 24 months, and that there are very few “healthy” young children available for international adoption. We were also told that the wait time for registered families is now looking more like 12 months or longer (in addition to what they’ve already waited).

Our agency is contacting each family in the Russia program to explain in more detail what this means for us specifically.  So, we should be getting a phone call sometime this week to walk us through how all of these findings will affect us personally.

After Steve finished reading the email to me, I just stood in the kitchen in silence. I wasn’t even really sure what emotions I was feeling. There is a part of me that feels so frustrated – that we’ve waited long enough, that I’m not sure if I can handle anymore ups and downs. My heart is so longing for our little one and through this news I was once again reminded of how “out of my hands” this whole journey is. Thankfully, HE holds my world in His hands.

Needless to say we are filled with lots of questions right now. There is a lot that we don’t know. We are at a place right now where we are starting to think through what it would look like to change the country we plan on adopting from. We wonder if God is wanting us to wait it out in Russia or make a change. So many questions, so many decisions.

BUT, what we do know is that this is no surprise to God. We know that He is good. We know that His heart beats for orphans. We know that He has placed international on our hearts. We know that He has provided more finances than we ever could have imagined. We know that He is with us and that He is for us. We know that His grace is sufficient for us, that He is a sustainer, peace-giver, hope-filler and we are resting in that.

But, we need your prayers desperately – for wisdom, for clarity, and for peace. We need prayers especially for the next couple of weeks as we will possibly be making some very big decisions. One of the huge ways we have felt God in this journey is through the outpouring of support and encouragement from you. So we are asking this week that you would pray specifically for us and for where we are right now in this journey. Maybe you’ll pray right now 🙂

If you desire or feel comfortable, we ask that you might even post your prayer as a comment on this blog – long or short, one word or 100 words.

The amazing thing about God is that we can’t ask too much or ask too often; He is not a God who is bothered by our prayers, and so we take full advantage of the truth that we have a God whose throne we can boldly approach with all things big and small and that He responds.

Thank you for joining with us, for supporting us through your prayers and encouragement through this journey. We could not do this without you!!

We hope to have more specific information next week of how all of these findings will affect us and as always, we will keep you posted with any decision that we make.

A Love Looking Forward

April 14, 2009

This past week, I had the opportunity to spend some time with a girl who was adopted from an eastern European country. It was so amazing how God crossed our paths, allowing us to have a significant conversation. Our hearts were joined because we both have a love for the same area of the world. It was so interesting to hear her perspective. Her love is a love looking back, while mine is a love looking forward.

She told me a lot about life in eastern Europe, about the culture, the people, her friends and her life. She is beautiful and funny and loves to be with people. She also told me about the hardships of the specific orphanage she grew up in. She talked about how they were encouraged to physically fight with each other in order to “get tough”. She told me about how they were told that they were going to grow up to become prostitutes or live on the streets and that is why they needed to learn to be tough.

Although my heart broke as I listened to her share a very small glimpse of her story, I was reminded of what a picture her life is of the easter account. It’s a beautiful story of redemption: from death to life, from pain to joy, from fear to peace, from hopelessness to hope. God is in the business of taking our pain and making it a reflection of His love and joy. He brings us out of the darkness into His marvelous light.

I am also excited about the opportunity to share my story this Wednesday night. If you are in town, it will be at the Akron Campus in room 352 at 6:45. It is for just women and I have been asked to share about my experiences in India. I’m actually going to be sharing a bigger picture of how God has used India to be influential in our decision to adopt. I’d love for you to be there!

Thanks for waiting and hoping and praying with us. I was reminded this Easter weekend that we serve a God who loves to make beauty from ashes and garments of praise for our despair. I delight in Him, hope in Him and wait on Him. We hope to have good news soon – thanks for sticking with us!

Updates:

  • No updates. Unless you consider “waiting” an update ☺

Prayer Requests:

  • Pray for our little one – to be loved, touched, hugged and sung to
  • Pray for the caretakers – for strength, patience and love
  • Pray for our hearts as we wait

We’ll update again in a week. Until then, love Kate & Steve.

Blessings in the Valley

April 7, 2009

Music has always been a part of my life. There are certain songs that bring me back to specific events and times in my life so vividly. Like when I hear “the ants go marching one by one”, I become a little girl swinging in a hammock with my mom, brother, and neighbors on summer days, singing that song and laughing.

When I hear Paula Abdul “Opposites Attract”, I am immediately transported back to childhood bedroom, singing to my mirror as if I were in front of an audience of thousands. When I hear the song “Shout to the Lord,” I am back in high school, behind a piano leading worship with my youth group.

When I hear “One Pure and Holy Passion”, I am standing on the steps of a church singing beside my husband on our wedding day. It’s amazing how much power there is in music and song.

This past week, I have been thinking through all of the songs that have ministered to my soul over the past few years. The years of infertility, the pain, the desperation, the crying out to God. One of the songs that has been on my mind recently has been “Find me in the River”, by delirious. One of the lines says, “if the blessing is in the valley, then in the river I will wait.”

Blessings in the valley. One of the blessings that I have received as a result of being in the valley over the past few years is the connection of one pained heart to another. Before infertility, it always felt like I got what I wanted, when I wanted it.

My parents were amazingly sacrificial and generous in my childhood and allowing me a wonderful college education. I married a man right after college. And not just any man, but a man far beyond what I could have ever asked or imagined. I lived a pretty pain-free life. Yeah, there were bumps and bruises along the way, but nothing that I felt like I couldn’t really handle on my own.

Then came infertility. This circumstance was completely out of my control, out of my plans, and there was nothing I nor anyone else could do about it. I couldn’t pray enough, hope enough, work enough, bargain enough….and so the pain of my humanity, met the beautiful, loving, compassionate heart of God…in a way that I had never felt before. This irony of hope and peace in the midst of pain and frustration became a gift.

This past week, a dear friend has found out some really painful news about her husband’s health. Although the circumstances of her pain is nothing like my circumstances, there is a connection that I feel to her heart that comes out of my own pain. It is beautiful. I don’t think that I would have been able to have the same compassion for her without the pain of my own infertility. Blessings in the valley. So I ask for more.

Updates:

  • things continue to be very quiet – we have nothing new to report

Prayer Requests:

  • for strength as we continue to wait
  • for our little one – that they would be nurtured and loved until we meet
  • that we would get some news soon that would be encouraging

Until next Monday, love Kate & Steve