The Complete Life

August 25, 2009

Last week, we went to the Cleveland Hopkins Airport to send off 2 of our recent high school graduates, Ryan and Janaya. They will be spending the next year on a ship porting at different stops all around Asia, showing God’s love to people who don’t often hear the name of Christ. It’s a pretty amazing opportunity.

Before we said goodbye at the airport, they both presented gifts to Steve and me. Ryan pulled out of his pocket a plastic bag full of quarters. He said, “this is for your quarter collection” (an obvious reference to our adoption fund). My eyes welled up with tears and I just couldn’t believe that amidst all of his packing and saying goodbyes to his friends and family, that he would think to do something like this for us and our little one.

Then Janaya handed me and Steve 3 cards, one for me, one for Steve and a third card. We didn’t understand so she explained, “this one is for Baby Garcia. But you can open it whenever you want.” After some tearful goodbyes, we got back in the car and read the card out loud. We both became overwhelmed with emotion. This is what it said:

“Dear Baby Garcia, Know that I am praying for you ☺ I am so excited to meet you when I return to the States. But even more than that I am soo excited for you to come live here because you will be deeply loved and cared for always….Anyways, this money is for your fund. Enjoy. I love you whoever you are, wherever you are baby.”

Also in this card, Janaya included money for our adoption fund. I was so deeply moved on so many levels. I am so amazingly proud of these high school students. These are just 2 of the many who have been constantly supporting and loving us through this journey of adoption. In the midst of major life changes these 2 are going through, they thought of how they can serve and encourage others.

I was also emotional thinking about the fact that when we come to the airport again to welcome home these students, we won’t just be “Steve and Kate” anymore. But, we will be “mom an dad”, and we will have a little one with us to greet them.

We are so grateful for who God is continuing to use to bring our baby into our arms. Through prayer, encouragement, wisdom, hugs, asking questions, and giving financially,  there is no question that we will be able to tell our child about the countless friends, family, strangers, and blog-followers who have been cheering their little life on. We are humbled and overwhelmingly grateful.

This past week I have felt like God has been bringing me back to a verse that I always loved. James 1:2-4. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness (endurance, waiting). And let steadfastness (endurance, waiting) have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

I often battle in my mind this feeling of “if I can just be a mom, I will feel complete, I will lack nothing.” If I can just…If I can just…If I can just…

However, what this Scripture is speaking to me is that it’s the endurance of trials that makes me complete. A baby will not make me complete. A nicer house will not make me complete. James informs us that it is the trials and the testing of our faith that brings about completion.

Doesn’t that blow your mind? Isn’t it just like God to flip what the world thinks of as completion and perfection? A “complete” person is not one who walks around with a plastered, ‘happy-all-the time’ smile on their face. Life is not a sitcom, where bad things never happen…and if they do, they are solved within 30 minutes 🙂

No, the complete life is the weathered life. It’s the life that experiences storms. It’s the life that hurts. It’s the life that gets frustrated. It’s the life marked by trials. I’m learning that these are the things that produce in me endurance and steadfastness…which in turn gives hope and patience and peace that this adoption will happen.

It’s in these trials when we come to the place where we realize that He really is all that we need. And that is when we can start counting the joy. Now Lord, help me to live that way…

Updates:

  • we are pretty much up to speed on all paperwork
  • now we just anxiously wait for the day when the phone call comes telling us we have a referral!

Prayer Requests:

  • that we would continue to see God’s molding through these trials
  • for our little one, wherever he or she is, that they would be loved and held and well cared for until we arrive

Until next Monday, love Kate and Steve

The Latest Update

August 18, 2009

Well, this week has been fairly uneventful on the adoption front. Just lots more waiting. I often times walk into our little one’s room and wonder what it will be like to go in there and see our little one laying in his crib or playing with his toys. Right now, it is just a reminder of waiting.

I go into a quiet room and just pray for our little one, for his his/her life right now. I think about where our child may be sleeping. Is he comfortable? Does she have a little stuffed animal to hold? Is he sung to sleep at night? Soon, and I truly believe soon, those questions will have answers. The room will have an occupant. My heart will have relief.

So because there is not much to report, we thought we would give a brief overview of the last year or so, since many who read this blog are new. Sometimes, it’s good to look back and see how far we’ve come and also look forward to what is ahead.

2007 was our year of prayer and guidance for our parenthood.

In May of 2008, we finally decided that God was leading us to adopt a child from Russia. We needed $40,000, we had $0. All we had were big prayers and an even bigger God.

June – August of 2008 was filled with lots of paperwork; we completed our home study; we went to Cleveland to get our fingerprints; fire inspections; background checks and interviews.

September of 2008 we sent our completed paperwork (dossier) to Russia to be registered in the area of St. Petersburg. Our friends from Michigan had a fundraiser dinner for us and blessed us tremendously with their encouragement and generosity.

October of 2008 was a month filled with emotion. Our paperwork had been  turned in and we began the “helpless” feeling of nothing to “do”.

In November of 2008, our close friends threw a celebration dinner to raise money for our adoption. It was an absolutely amazing night and we raised over $10,000. God absolutely blew us away and showed us that He was working and moving even when things didn’t “feel” like it.

December of 2008 and January of 2009 were filled with more waiting. Between our holidays and holidays in Russia, there was not much movement and we began hearing rumors of the closing down and slowing down of adoptions in Russia. Those were a scary couple of months, but God continued to give us peace in our decision.

February and March of 2009 could be charactized as “intense waiting”. God was showing us so much about Himself and His sustaining power and there were times when the waiting seemed like it would never end.

In April of 2009, we were informed that our agency was going to change our region from St. Petersburg to Pskov. They felt that we would get a faster referral if we were to go with Pskov. The wait time that they gave us was 4-8 months, but it could be longer because there are so many unknown factors.

So, here we are – the middle of August, 2009. We have been waiting 4 and ½ months since we changed to Pskov. We are at the lower end of the projected waiting time. We do feel like things are moving. We know of another family who just finalized their adoption in Pskov and we heard great things about the judge and the court and the whole process. So, we are very encouraged by that.

In the last 15 months, God has taken us on a journey that has been filled with excitement and frustration, joy and grief, hopelessness and hopefulness, perseverance and feeling close to throwing in the towel. But, He has been our Sustainer, our Guide through the rough waters. He has given us deeper joy and peace in Him than we ever would have known without this journey.

He has also given us compassion for others who are in the waiting room. He has created in us a deep dependency by slowly and graciously taking our hands off the steering wheel.

There were many times when this process wasn’t pretty. There were times where I raised my proverbial fists to the sky in frustration of God’s timing and plans. And each time, He would let me yell…and then bring me close to His heart and whisper His love to me through peace, through His Word, through friends, through family, through Steve.

And so we continue to wait…hopefully not much longer…but who knows?

Thanks for waiting with us, for taking this journey at our side. We truly could not do this without you and your prayers and encouragement. We have been deeply and widely blessed with amazing friends and family.

Updates:

  • we keep discovering more paperwork that is expiring and will need to be redone 😦 This is an unfortunate reality of this process
  • we are officially in the new window of possibility our agency quoted to us with regards to getting a referral

Prayer Requests:

  • at times the waiting has been unbearable – please pray for strength for Steve and I
  • for our little one, wherever he or she may be right now, that they would be cared for and loved

Until next Monday, love Kate & Steve.

No Pictures, Only Feelings

August 11, 2009

I recently purchased a book that I would HIGHLY recommend for any couple who is in the process of adopting a child from another country. It is called, “The Complete Book of International Adoption”, by Dawn Davenport.

It is such a great resource, highly practical, full of great stories of adoptive parents. What drew me in was the way Dawn began this book with a prayer for all children…

“I pray that all children will be loved for who they are, for no reason other than that they are.
I pray that all children will be loved as first best, not second best;
that they will be loved with an intensity that can move mountains, because life will present plenty of mountains that will need to be moved.
I pray that all children will have someone who will…
Seek them, and only them, out of the crowd on the stage;
Push them to reach for their goals and discover their unique gifts;
Hold them accountable for their actions with love and dignity;
Advocate for them through this maze called life;
Explain the unexplainable;
And smile when they walk into the room, just because they did.
Mostly I pray that all children will have someone who knows them well enough and loves them deeply enough to see the divine spark that is unique in them.
I pray that this be the birthright of all children throughout the world.
And since this birthright can only be fulfilled by parents, I pray that each child, regardless of the circumstances of their birth, finds their parent and each parent finds their child.”

Isn’t that beautiful? As I close my eyes and picture what it looks like to be sought out, to be pursued, to be loved so much, with such a strong intensity; I get overwhelmed with emotion.  There is nothing quite like the proactive love of a parent to a child.

This is the type of love that goes before a child and protects their every step. Its a love that walks beside a child, proud to be their parent just because they are their child. Its a love that comes behind a child and pushes them to greatness and guides them into the scary places of life. Its a love that reaches around their child and is a refuge in those scary places. This is the kind of parent that I so desire to be.

My prayer is that our little one will see our eyes light up as we walk in the room to meet them for the first time. I pray that their heart would feel ours leap with joy, excitement, and wonder. I pray that they would hear in our voice soothing words of comfort and peace. This is my prayer for our first encounter with our child.

I have been thinking about those first moments so much lately. I don’t know why, but I just feel like my mind continues to draw towards that day when I will see my baby face to face. It is such a strange feeling because I have no pictures in mind when I think about that day. I have no context to refer back to. I have no pictures, I only have feelings.

These feelings are more vivid than any I have ever felt. These feelings range from excitement to fear to overflowing love that can’t be contained. And so I take those feelings and hold onto them like pictures, until the day that I will no longer need to imagine.

Updates:

  • we have been corresponding with families we met through this blog who have shared recent stories about their Russian adoptions.
  • These stories have been encouraging to us because they remind us that adoptions are indeed moving forward…we continue to wait.

Prayer Requests:

  • continued strength as we wait and dream
  • for the caretakers of our little one, that they would love and nuture our child until we can finally bring him/her home

Until next Monday, love Kate & Steve

Peace

August 4, 2009

I am writing today’s blog from beautiful North Carolina, sitting in my parents’ house. I am here visiting and enjoying being with family. But, this trip is different than any I have had before.

Yesterday, I got to meet my beautiful, new niece for the first time. She is my brother’s daughter. She is just gorgeous. Thick, precious hair, a cute little nose, long eyelashes (like her mommy). As I rocked her in my arms, I looked at her darling face and I thought about what word I would use to describe her. Peace.

Kate and Lucy

She laid there, not a care or worry in the world. Her mommy has taught her that when she is hungry she will be fed. When she has a dirty diaper, it will be changed. She is safe. Secure. Has no reason to feel fear or worry. Those feelings have not even been introduced into her little life yet. She trusts…without even trying to trust. She just does.

It is a beautiful picture of peace. I thought about what that looks like for us, as adults, to truly be at peace. To be able to rest in our Father’s arms, knowing that our needs will be taken care of, to trust because I have no reason not to, to trust because I know that God’s love for me is bigger than my circumstances.

Lucy (my niece) has reminded me about trust and peace, and how these two words go hand in hand. As we trust, we have peace. My prayer is that my life could be described as peaceful – that as I live in the flow of the story that God is writing for me, that I would live in peace, trusting that God has my days planned out for me.

I want to be reminded that He is caring and madly in love with me. And He also sees the bigger picture – He sees the other “players” that will move in and out of my life. He knows what I need to make me a more textured person, to make me more loving, more patient, more trusting. Peace is what I long for.

It also made me think about our little one. One of the things that we have read as we have studied international adoption is that many of the children have reasons to not trust. Many children come from a background that has included neglect and pain.

For many of the biological parents, it was a selfless decision to give their child up for adoption – to know and believe that someone else could offer them a better life…a terribly difficult decision, I am sure.

But the reality is, that although the decision was selfless and absolutely loving on the part of the biological parent, our child may not see it that way. They may see that they were “given up” or abandoned. They may struggle, even at a young age, with what it looks like to trust and live in peace. It is my desire that through their life, they will be convinced that they are deeply wanted, and that we will do everything we know to do to meet their needs, to be there for them.

But peace and trust will take time. We know that our little one will not just trust us right away. They don’t know us. They don’t know that when they are hungry, we will feed them. They will not know that when their diaper is dirty we will change them. They will not know that the deepest prayers of our hearts have been answered through their life. They will not know what it looks like to trust us.

So, as I pray today, I pray that our child will trust easily. That even now, in a supernatural way, our little one’s heart will begin to be prepared for us…that even in their little soul and body, a stirring and a desire will be placed in them that longs for parents who love them. And that when our eyes meet for the first time, they will feel deep within them peace.

It seems crazy to ask that for a little infant. But, I feel that is the prayer that God is putting on my heart today for our baby, so I pray.

Thank you for joining with us. We are so grateful that you are sticking this journey out with us. It’s long and tough, but I know and trust that God is going before us and preparing the way for us. Thank you for trusting that with us.

Updates:

  • we are hearing positive reports out of Russia that adoptions seem to be moving at a decent pace
  • we know our name is on the list, we just continue to wait

Prayer Requests:

  • Peace for us
  • Peace for our little one

Until next Monday, love Kate & Steve