Shadows

December 29, 2009

We are still in beautiful North Carolina. There is something about the Carolina blue sky and sun that makes you forget about the cold. We have been having a great time with family and friends.

This past week I have been reminded of how good and loving God is. I was filled with pain and frustration when I wrote last week’s blog entry. Before long I got a call from our new friend, Stephanie, who actually adopted her daughter from the same orphanage as our little boy. Her daughter, Grace, and our son were in the same small group.

Stephanie called to say she felt my pain and also to let me know that her friends and family raised money to send to the orphanage this year for Christmas. The money was spent on new toys and a special meal for Grace’s orphanage and specifically Grace’s group, so that would include our little guy.

It warmed our hearts to think that our son is having a special day, even though we couldn’t be there for it. God answered our prayers by giving our boy something to make him smile this season. We are so grateful that God uses people to be His hands and feet in this world.

Then I received an email from another new friend, who also just brought home her little boy from our son’s orphanage. She deeply encouraged us with words of hope and compassion. It reminded me that as we walk through the longing and sadness of this season, we are not alone.

God has also surrounded us with family who loves us deeply. We have watched our DVD with my parents and Steve’s parents multiple times and each time our parents laugh and cry and grow more and more in their love with their grandson. I am so thankful to have parents who are completely supportive of our path towards adoption. They all bought our little man Christmas gifts and treat him as if he is “here”, and remind us that we are so close…

There is a song by Matt Redman that has been the soundtrack of my mind these past few days. The chorus of the song goes, “Through it all, You are faithful. Through it all, You are strong. As we walk through the shadows, still you shine on.” He is shining on as we walk through the shadows.

As we look back on 2009, we have many “shadows”. The shadows of waiting far exceeded our expectations, and our longing  far exceeded what we thought our hearts could ever handle. But, we have also seen His light shining so much brighter than we have ever seen in our lives.

Our shining moment of 2009 was when we were sitting in a doctor’s office in a Russian orphanage when all of a sudden we heard a knock at the door.  In walked the cutest little boy we have ever laid eyes on. And in that moment, the shadows of waiting parted.

The shining of His light and His goodness overwhelmed the shadows. As we wait and continue to long for our family to finally be together forever, we can’t help but be reminded of His goodness, His plan and His faithfulness in our lives.

Updates:

  • we continue to wait on a court date
  • the holiday season in Russia picks up in January so things may remain silent for a few more weeks

Prayer Requests:

  • for patience as the waiting can often feel unbearable
  • for our little boy, that we would somehow know we’re coming back for him

Until next Monday, love Kate and Steve.

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Much Longing

December 22, 2009

I am currently writing this blog from North Carolina at my parent’s house. Their house is beautifully decorated for Christmas, complete with a tree in the living room and ornaments from Christmas’ past.

I love looking at our ornaments, remembering what each one represents. There is a baby carriage from my first Christmas, a stuffed raccoon ornament that looks like my favorite stuffed animal, and a little piano, marking the year I began piano lessons. The tree is one big reflection on my childhood and great memories of our family.

As I was looking at the tree, allowing my mind to travel down memory lane, I spotted an unfamiliar ornament. I reached for it and read “Grandchildren are life’s greatest gift”. In the ornament was a picture of Lucy, my sweet little niece, and on the other side was a picture of our little man. It kind of took my breath away. It was another jolt of the reality of what is taking place. This tree that is full of Christmas past, is now a tree the represents the hope of Christmas future.

We watched the video from our first trip to Russia last night with my parents. Steve mentioned afterwards that watching the video makes it feel like so long ago when we were with our son. And as we prayed later that night Steve said, “God please speed the day that we will see him again.”

Although I am very grateful, this Christmas is one of much longing. We see his name on a present under the tree, but know we will be the ones who have to open the gift, not him. We put together a Christmas package to mail him and his little friends, but we cannot send it because we were informed that it would most likely get “lost.”It breaks our hearts to know that as we are celebrating and enjoying being with family, we are missing one.

I look at that ornament on the tree and see his big, beautiful smiling face as he responds to his daddy giving him a big kiss. The look on his face is one of delight, security and love. And I wonder…Is he smiling right now? What makes him laugh? Do he and his friends play and giggle together? What does he delight in? Is there a caretaker who gives him a little tickle as she passes by him?

My prayer during this Christmas season, as I am reminded by his ornament, is that something or someone will cause him to smile. Maybe it will be a new toy that is given to the orphanage. Maybe it will be a little extra dinner on his plate to enjoy. Maybe it will be a memory of our time together or a dream that brings him back to our time together. Those are the things that make me smile.

I sent our agency an email today that said, “What are the chances we will hear anything before Christmas?” AsI was typing this blog, I got a response from our case worker. It stated that it is unlikely we will hear anything before Christmas regarding a court date. She added “we should hear something after the holidays, I hope.” This is very unassuring and very difficult to hear.

The following was the way I was ending the blog before I read the email from our agency…

There are so many things that I have learned during this whole journey, but one of the main things is that God has a bigger, more profound story that He is writing than I can see with my own mortal eyes. His ways are not always ours, His thoughts are not always ours.

For a while, that statement would bother me. Why aren’t his ways ours? But now, over time, I have grown at deep peace with that Truth. It is a Truth that allows me to release my grip of control over my life, over my timeline, over my expectations and lay it in the Hands of the God who sees. It is a Truth that allows me to enjoy the present and look forward to the future.

So as I long for our little man this Christmas, I also find total enjoyment in being with family and living in gratitude for what God has done for us this year.

And now, after reading the email, I sit with tears streaming down my face in frustration, fear and sadness. I am praying for the faith to believe what I have just written.

Prayer Requests:

  • we are feeling pretty sad right now – we just yearn to be with our little guy
  • that our documents wouldn’t sit on a desk somewhere in Russia, but that they will be processed quickly
  • for God to comfort and care for our little boy

Until next Monday, love Kate & Steve


The Redeemer of Lost Dreams

December 15, 2009

A couple of years ago I went through the darkest valley of my life. It was the day after almost a year of fertility treatments. It was a year marked by weekly doctors appointments, experimenting with drug prescriptions, up and down emotions, and month after month all I got was disappointing news.

Until one day. It was a day that had become part of my monthly fertility routine. It was the day I would go to the doctor to find out of it “worked”. And this day, began like any of the others.

I walked up the 2 flights of stairs and into the doctors office. The nurse at the front desk, who I knew by name, greeted me with the same look of anticipation on her face. “This is the month”, she would say to me. I would go back for a blood test and an ultrasound with the reproductive specialist. This is where the normal day began to stray from what I had always known.

Usually the doctor would look at the ultrasound and give a frown. He would say, “well, doesn’t look like anything, let’s try again for next month.” Only this time, there was no frown. There was no, “well…” Instead there was a glimmer in his eyes. “Kate,” he said. “You’re pregnant.”

My heart leaped and my eyes welled with tears of disbelief. He told me to call back in a few hours to confirm the blood test. And so I did. For many of you who have been following the blog or watched our video, you would know that the phone call to confirm the blood test became a phone call filled with apologies and sadness from the nurse, informing me that the doctor was mistaken. I was not pregnant.

Then began several months of wrestling through grief. Steve and I decided to not proceed any further with the medical route towards parenthood. We needed a break. Our bodies need rest. Our souls needed to be refreshed. Our relationship needed to be recentered.

Most of all, God and I needed to take a journey together. A journey down the deep, dark roads of expectations, hopes and dreams for our future. A journey that ultimately led to the loving, passionate heart of God, but took many detours along the way.

Many of those detours involved me having to grieve over the lost dream of having a child. Grieving things as silly as never getting to wear maternity clothes, or getting to park in the expectant mothers parking spot at Target. Grieving things like the experience of giving birth and the bond that takes place between a mother and child and husband and wife.

As God allowed me to grieve each of these dreams lost, He held me close and reminded me of His satisfying love for me. The grief was so important in our journey towards parenthood. It allowed for my own dreams to be broken, so that God could open up my heart and mind to bigger dreams He had in store for me. Dreams that would lead us to a big yellow building in Russia. Dreams that would bring us together with the son He picked out for us.

One of the areas that I had to grieve were baby showers. I love parties and being in a room full of people, celebrating something exciting. I love celebrating for others, but I have to be honest and admit that I love being celebrated.

I’m not one of those people who doesn’t enjoy being the center of attention. I am a performer by nature and I am energized by being in the middle of things. In fact, one of my secret dreams is to be on a dance floor, being pushed to the middle of the circle and everyone starts chanting, “go Kate, go Kate.” You can laugh. But, it is true.

Yesterday was a huge redemptive milestone in our journey towards parenthood: my very first baby shower. I never thought this would eever happen. I thought this hope was buried and left behind in my box of dreams.

It was so wonderful. We sat around in a good friend’s house and celebrated together. Friends from all different areas of my life circled around and watched me open gifts. We laughed together, cried together and then ended with a very special time of prayer for our little man. It was beautiful.

At the end of our time, I shared a little bit of my heart. As tears streamed down my face, I looked around the room, into the face of each woman and just thanked God. Each woman in that room played a such a significant role in our journey towards parenthood.

Some had been there from the beginning. Some are just coming into the story. Some have been prayer warriors, some have given financially, some have encouraged with words, some with hugs. But all have been uniquely involved in our story. And I was just so grateful. The shower was far more than I could have ever imagined. Instead of diapers and receiving blankets, the gift wrapped boxes were filled with little boy clothes, mega blocks, and toy motorcycles. I loved every minute of it.

When I came home, Steve and I looked through all of the gifts and read all of the cards. I asked him, “what is your favorite?” He looked around the gift-filled room and he said, “I know this sounds weird.” And we went over and picked up a pack of toddler socks. “When I saw these, reality set in.”

Reality is setting in. A room that has only held a crib for the last 18 months, is now being filled with toys and clothes. We are praying that very soon those toys and clothes with be played with and worn by a very special little boy. But for now, that dream is on hold.

Updates:

  • our agency informed us that they have all of our paperwork and are sending it out to Russia tomorrow
  • we are hoping this is the last of it

Prayer Requests:

  • here is the BIGGEST thing right now: we have been informed that our home study expires in mid-March
  • what this means is that if we don’t receive a court date by early to mid February, we’ll have to start the ENTIRE home study process over again
  • this would be painful to us – so PLEASE pray that we would get a court date soon!!!

Thanks for sharing in this journey with us. Until next Monday, love Kate & Steve.

Child Like Faith

December 8, 2009

So, I guess it started snowing on our blog. I’m not quite sure how that happened. We looked at it one day and it was snowing.

I kind of like it, though. It matches the scene outside my window as I write today – the first “real” snowfall of the season for Akron, OH.  The snow is a reminder of the fall season coming to a close and the welcoming of winter. And that means we are this much closer to bringing our little boy home 🙂

I haven’t said much about the family that I babysit for  on this blog, but they have been a huge support to us during this adoption process. They are like family to me and I am so blessed to have them in my life.

I help look after 4 kids: two girls ages 7 and 6, as well as a set of 2 year old twin boys (just weeks apart from my little D). I’ve been working with them for the last 4 years and I love them like my own nieces and nephews.

It has been so fun watching them learn about our adoption. We decided to wait until we got our referral to even tell the kids that we were adopting because we weren’t sure if they would totally understand what was going on.

Once we told them, we had to convince one of the little girls that we were not going to meet Mrs. Hannigan from Annie. (That was their only reference for words like “orphanage” and “adoption”).

Ella, the 6 year old is so excited. She is counting down the days until February (that’s when she thinks D is coming home – let’s hope she’s right!). Every day that I come to their house, she wants to look at his picture album.

The other morning, Ella and I were sitting at the kitchen table and she was eating her waffle. Out of the blue she asked, “Kate, who tucks D in at night?”

“I’m not sure, Ella”, I said. “Probably one of the caretakers.” She paused for a moment. Then another question.

“Kate, does he have to share the toys you gave him with the other kids?”

“Yes. But, he’s good at sharing. Remember I told you about how he likes to share his goldfish crackers with me and Steve?”

She laughed thinking about that. Then another munch on her waffle as I watched her little mind process her questions. She looked down at her waffle then asked “What does he eat for breakfast?”

“I’m not sure. Maybe oatmeal.”

The conversation then moved to how excited she is for him to come home. How she can’t wait to read him stories and teach him how to play with her toys. How she can’t wait for her brothers to have a new friend.

With tears in my eyes, I told her I was so excited too and told her how lucky our little guy is going to be to have friends like her.

Her questions and excitement remind me of what it means to have a child-like faith. My mind these days have been more filled with the fears of what the next couple of months MIGHT bring. The “what ifs”.

  • What if something happens and adoptions stop all together?
  • What  if our little guy is no longer available?
  • What  if we get over there and the judge says no?
  • What if February turns into March and March into April?
  • What if..What if… What if..

Then there are the irrational fears. The things I can’t control take over my life and I lose sight of the amazing gift of our little man.  But, not Ella.

Ella is seriously so excited about our little boy coming home. She is looking forward to Christmas, not just for the gifts, but because it means it’s one more holiday she can check off, that brings her closer to February. Her excitement is contagious. Her innocent, child-like faith is something that I want more of.

Her mind is more consumed with what it’s going to be like when he does come home than if he is going to come home.  She is thinking about what to play with him when she finally meets him, instead of if she will ever actually meet him.

My prayer is that I would be more like Ella. That my faith in God’s protection over this process, our lives, and mostly over our little man, would trump irrational fears or even legitimate fears.

My prayer is that I would allow my mind to dwell in the belief that God is good and faithful and trustworthy, regardless of the outcome. That I would, like a child, believe that God is bigger than me, so I just trust. Simply.

Updates:

  • we just got word today that we will need to do more paperwork (all because of a tiny correction someone made on one of our documents). This is incredibly frustrating.
  • Thankfully these documents shouldn’t hold up the process, so we hope to get our court date soon.

Prayer Requests:

  • for God to calm our hearts as we wait and wait and wait
  • that God would watch over our little D and somehow let him know we are coming for him

Until next Monday, love Kate & Steve