Sunday, November 17, 2013

Entering 4th Trimester

On February 14th, 2013, Adam and I received word from our adoption agency that we were officially approved to begin the adoption process for a little girl (or two) from Bulgaria.

This past Thursday marked nine months from that day.

Thursday seemed special to me, perhaps it is my overly sentimental self. Throughout the day I thought about the thrill of that February day, how excited we were to tell friends and family. It seemed to me similar to the way you would feel if you were announcing a pregnancy. However, nine months have come and gone and there is no little Waters. Some days it seems we are further away now than we were 9 months ago.

Oh, but how we have grown!

-In patience. It is, humanly speaking, much easier to wait for something when you know approximately how long you will have to wait. For example, I knew when we were engaged that my wedding would occur on December 18. While the waiting was difficult at times, I could always look forward to that day. This, however, is so different. They could tell you "about 1 and a half years" and 1.5 years later you could still be 1.5 years away...we just don't know. However, God DOES know.

-In faith. When we pray about our adoption, we do so knowing that there is NOTHING we can do. We have to trust so many people along the way. For example, we are currently waiting on UAB to send Adam's medical records to a local doctor's office. We have no control over how quickly these people move. BUT we serve a sovereign God who has power over all of these
"The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will." Proverbs 21:1 
It has grown my heart to pray about things that I previously thought were controlled by man. 

-In selflessness. "He has taken so much out of me that I didn't need." This is what a mom of two shared with me yesterday. She and her husband have been waiting for a little girl from Haiti for over two years. With basketball, Adam in school, fundraising, and paperwork, there has been little time for ME the last nine months. As an introvert, I definitely need some time alone, but even when I'm by myself, I am learning to serve, pray and focus outside of myself. 

It would be naive of me to act as though these nine months have been rainbows and butterflies, or to pretend that the next nine will be any different, but along the way I am learning to trust.

I am so grateful to all of you who keep asking, keep praying, keep supporting. I pray that your heart will grow as well--for orphans and ultimately for our Lord.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Adoption is a slow process...

When we began this journey many months ago, I had great intentions of updating this blog, and thereby updating those who were praying and supporting us. However, each time I thought to write, I found that I had nothing exciting to say. It has been almost 8 months of paperwork and waiting for approvals so that we could fill out more paperwork.

However, it seems that we are nearing a milestone!

A few weeks ago, after creating a paper portfolio of our life, we sent this portfolio off to Montgomery to receive the official seal from the state of Alabama.

This seal allows us to then send this documents into a foreign we did :-) These documents are now in Bulgaria awaiting translation.

Here is a glimpse into where we have been in the process so far and where we are going:
  • Apply for and receive approval from adoption agency
  • Complete courses online to educate ourselves about the adoption process as well as common struggles faced by adopted children
  • Complete four visits with social worker 
  • Gather documents and recommendation letters for social work
  • Social worker writes home study and has it approved by adoption agency
  • Finger prints to receive clearance from state agency
  • Have all documents notarized
  • Have all documents sent to Montgomery for apostille (fancy seal)
  • Send documents to Bulgaria for translation
  • Biometric fingerprints for US Government clearance
  • Medical examination
  • Send US government clearance to Bulgaria
  • Receive approval from Bulgarian government to be "registered" as adoptive parents
  • Wait...wait patiently
  • Raise money for final payment and travel expenses
  • Travel for first visit
  • Travel to pick up little girl
We have already made it so far! Thank you for your support of our fundraising efforts. Thanks to so many generous people who not only have purchased items but even made some things for us to sale. We have been able to pay approximately half of the total cost and have not had to take out any loans! The next big payment is due at the time of the referral, which for us is about 1.5 to 2 years away. Until then, we pray for our child who may already be born, we pray for other adoptive families, and we craft!

We pray that God will continue to teach us patience and endurance and that you will enjoy the journey along with us!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Google it!

That's my motto!
 In class when we don't know the answer to something...that's exactly what we do. My students have learned the hard way, however, that when you google something you have to have the background to translate it.

For example, no matter how many times or different ways I google "deBroglie wave equation" I will not fully understand the explanation because my calculus and physics skills are just not up to par.

Perhaps that is why I can't "google" anything about this adoption stuff and find the answers that I am looking for...

Some of my recent searches have included...
"Establishing sleeping patterns with adopted child..."
"Food for recently adopted children..."
"Language transitions for adopted children..."

One that got me in trouble..."homestudy requirements"

Thanks to google I went nuts got prepared for the home study by

  • Buying cabinet locks
  • Putting plug covers around the house
  • Sweeping
  • Dusting
  • Mopping
  • Pricing gun cabinet...too expensive
  • Hiding ammo

Turns out none of this was really necessary!

In all our education, we seem to be finding more questions that answers....but perhaps that is the point?
It seems that in parenting, like in marriage, it is the journey to the answers that is important, more than the answers themselves. 

Where will I turn when my child won't sleep? What will I do when she repeatedly misbehaves, or doesn't seem to know how to misbehave thanks to years of "training" at her orphanage? 

Will I turn to the Lord in prayer or will I run to my computer and try out since google is yielding faulty results? Will I ask the Lord for patience and guidance or immediately post something on facebook?

Praying for grace for each day of the journey...and to choose each day to lean on Him rather than the wisdom of this world. 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Blessings in Business

The past few weeks have been filled with crafting, teaching, Relay for Life planning and working on chemistry projects through A+ college ready...all while the adoption paperwork and upcoming home study take a back burner.

Here are a few updates from life.

  • Crafts: Marjorie, Rachel and I had lots of fun hanging out, meeting people and selling a few crafts at the Mt. Laurel Spring Festival today.

Last month we raised approximately $1,000 selling crafts, monies which are currently in the mail to All God's Children International to be placed in our adoption fund!

We have a few new door hangers available, just in time for summer and Mother's Day!

  • Paperwork: We are about half way done with a training booklet on adoption and it has been so terrifying eye-opening. It seems to focus on the worst-case scenario, but it is encouraging us to ask good questions, discuss them and look for wisdom. 

  • Homestudy: We will have our first home visit on April 23. Prayers will be much appreciated on that day and leading up to. Also, if you have ever had a home study we would love to have a few pointers.

  •  School: My AP students are having a GREAT year! Their AP exam is May 4 and I can't wait to see how they do. I've been teaching some review sessions on Saturday for a little extra cash. It is very rewarding to be able to use my chemistry knowledge and training in education outside the normal classroom setting. 
Thank you all for reading, praying, and supporting Adam and I!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Gopher Hole

If you have never heard shouts of "GO GOPHERS! DIG, DIG, DIG!" then "You ain't from around here."

In Hueytown, they cheer the Mighty Golden Gophers onto victory and use the namesake whenever possible. Therefore, today's craft show was entitled appropriately "The Gopher Hole."

We found out about this event just as we were starting out with From B'ham With Love, so we got in on the tail end of registration and barely secured a outside booth. The weather report grew more dim as the day approached, and I began to pray to the Lord diligently for blessings on the weather or a booth inside. Through a series of circumstances that were certainly from the Lord, we ended up with a booth inside, dry and warm and large enough for all of our displays.

Most of the clientele at this event was not necessarily in our target audience (people with walkers and white hair do not share our passion for burlap), but we did have visits from a few friends, and it turns out we had just what they were looking they bought lots of stuff!

Things to rejoice about this week:
  • Our first craft show was a success
  • Marjorie and I got to spend quality time together

  • I met a few people who had adopted and they were able to offer encouragement. One lady adopted two boys when they were 10 and 11. They are now grown men with families of their own. We hear so much about the scars that orphanages and abusive homes leave on kids--it was a treat to be reminded of the power of God to heal those hurts, and to use a loving family to do so. 
  • Adam and I completed our finger prints this more box checked off!
  •  We sold our treadmill! Money in the bank and even better just as good: a clear room that I can revamp.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

To care for orphans and widows...

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
James 1:27

It is these words that often motivate me when I question our decision to adopt. When we started this process just a few weeks ago, it was full of excitement and anticipation as we imagined what it would be like to bring a little girl into our home. 

However, the past few weeks have brought more than their fair share of reality. Adoption classes have been a constant reminder of the increased struggles that come with adopting a child that does not quite look like you and whose past is filled with painful scars, often unseen. Phone calls to insurance agencies and adoption clinics have opened our eyes to the high cost of raising a child with possible medical difficulties (or any child for that matter). Increased preoccupation with paperwork have put a strain on our time as a couple. 

When the tension builds and the "are we really ready for this?" speaks louder than the call we were given, where do we turn? 

We run back to the Word, to the only source of truth and cling tightly as the world around us reminds us that it was never a steady place in which to place our confidence. 

The second portion of this verse from James really struck me this morning...."and to keep oneself unstained from the world."

The only way that we are capable of serving the orphan and widow "in their distress" (why did we think it was going to be easy?) is through order for Christ to carry out His work in us, we must "work out our salvation" by keeping ourselves unstained by the world.

This week I am rejoicing in God's constant pursuit of our hearts through His Spirit and His Word. When we are faithless, He remains faithful.

The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand.
Psalm 37:23-24

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The little things...

"Celebrate the little things"
This was a quote from a blog I read at the beginning of this process. So, if you will entertain me for just a minute, I'd like to do just that.

This week's accomplishments:
 1. Printing and binding a good portion of the paperwork for ease of access.
2. Our first call with our case manager who gave us some "homework," reminding us that you eat an elephant ONE BITE AT A TIME!
3. Started copying and signing some things for our home study and successfully buried the table in paperwork. This evening when we were going to dinner we lost the gift card beneath the paperwork...luckily it was found but I had to stop and pray for patience in the middle of the ordeal!

4. Our Facebook page has reached 177 likes and growing. I'm excited to know that each like is another person who knows about our adoption, can pray for us and support us, and perhaps can themselves be encouraged that we are adopted by the King...

5. I have spent some time (with Marjorie's supervision) crafting. I do love to craft, but it is even more fulfilling to know that each order is one step closer to bringing a girl home. I feel that God has gifted us with such a blessing in the form of this little shop. Because of the long wait period of this process we are not really able to begin doing the normal pre-baby things, such as decorating a room, buying clothes, etc. Those things will certainly come, but until then there IS something I can do...craft :-) 

Shipped this lovely wreath to Denver, CO. We've got friends in HIGH places!
Delivered this to a lovely girl at the galleria...another new friend!
Mom and I spent some quality time together creating this item.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Sunday blessings

This morning, and every other Sunday morning, I have the privilege of worshiping on my knees, literally, amongst people half my size.

This morning was the first Sunday since we announced our adoption that I had been with these little ones and thoughts of orphans were heavy on my mind.

Being in a church where the Word is preached does crazy things to people, including opening their eyes to the orphan and widow. Therefore, there are MANY adopted children in our congregation and quite a few in our Sunday School class.

Two of the children who became part of our church family via foster care were worshipping close to me this morning. It was such a blessing to hear them shout out "I'm gonna tell the world that God is good!" As the song ended and we sat to learn about and pray for missionaries in Kenya, one of these little ones crawled into my lap. As she pulled my arms around her, my thoughts wandered to where she may be without adoption...

Where would any of us be? We who are children of God have been adopted by Him and without Him we are children of the world, being led astray by things that will soon perish. This awareness should lead us all to "...tell the world that God is good!"

I am beginning to can I make a difference, not just for this one little girl, but for many can I support other families that are showing kids the love of Christ and helping them find their FOREVER home?

Friday, March 1, 2013

Another chapter

 Our story is much like any other....
Boy and girl meet and fall in love
Boy asks girl to marry him...girl says I thought you'd never ask YES!

First comes love, then comes marriage,

then comes...
A house, house payments, grown-up jobs and bills. It seems that life has become rather routine as we seek to be faithful in the little things--at work, at school, in our neighborhood...
In our downtime, Adam loves to get his hands dirty growing yummy veggies.

 And I don't mind using them to create delicious things in the kitchen.
 And, recently, we have found frustration and entertainment via this little, talkative orange cat.

However, God recently pressed on our hearts that it was time for a new chapter, one that will lead to the pitter patter of little feet, child-proof cabinet locks, and ANOTHER WATERS!

Adam and I are adopting! 

Ever since I can recall we have discussed bringing a little girl into our home through the miracle of adoption. We have been praying about the right time to begin this process and researching various adoption agencies and countries. While Bulgaria was not our first, second, or third choice the Lord made it clear that it was HIS choice for us. 

We are now in the process of filling out our contract and gathering funds for our first big payment (any help would be accepted and appreciated).

This journey promises to be a long one, likely over two years filled with joys and sorrows as we continue to live life while preparing and anxiously awaiting the homecoming of our little girl.

We would love for you to join us as we wait by...
  • Praying for us, for our marriage to continue to grow stronger and for our minds to be most occupied with what God has for us here and now.
  • Praying for our little girl, whether born or unborn, that her parents would choose life and that she would be well-nourished in body and spirit as she grows.
  • Praying for the social workers, adoption agencies, and beauracracy, that the process would go as smoothly as possible and our interactions with these individuals would be an encouragement to us both.
  • Spreading the Word about our new Etsy shop: FromBhamWithLove...the perfect place to get great items for your home and support our adoption at the same time!
  • Donating to our adoption fund...a tax deductible means for donation will be available within the next few weeks...we'll keep you posted!