Friday, July 19, 2013

Finding Balance...

This past 6 weeks has flown by. We decided to postpone our home study until we got through the month of June with a fundraising yard sale (which was awesome, thanks to some amazing people who donated items and time to make it happen), and our family vacation which had been planned since February.

It was much needed time to rest and enjoy our time together as we head into the thick of our adoption. We were able to spend two weeks in San Diego with my dad and had fun filled days at the beach, a tour of the Midway Aircraft Carrier, and LEGOLAND.

It also allowed us time to really decide which agency to use for our home study and I am so glad we picked the one we did. We submitted our application and payment for the home study two days ago and have been assigned a social worker. We are working on scheduling the home study and filling out all of the necessary paper work now.
The next few months will be filled with what is deemed "the paper chase" in the adoption community where we get every legal document under the sun for our dossier. Thank God for people who have gone before us that are willing to help us decipher the instructions (namely, my sister-in-law). I have read through the dossier paperwork instructions at least three times and every time I finish I say "huh?". I am a smart person but reading these instructions makes me feel like I am in preschool.
I am so excited as we progress into each new step and pay for one more thing as it knocks a little chunk off each time. It can be overwhelming to think about the whole process and finances at once!

I am so thankful every time I see their pictures that it wasn't just a passing emotion because of what I was experiencing when we were in Haiti. I fall in love with them more each day and can't wait until we get our official referral. Every time we see them it keeps Aaron and I pushing forward with his working long hours and my running our household (housework, kids activities, etc.) so we can bring them home. In the meantime we also struggle to find balance between saving for the adoption expenses while still providing fun and athletic activities for our other children here. It is difficult for me especially because I am driven, and when I set my eyes on something I tend to go full speed ahead. I am learning the value of balance in all of this which is not a bad thing. I am thankful for those around me who encourage this as well.

Please continue to pray for us on our journey.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Anxiety and Faith

These past few weeks has been a roller coaster for me. So many things on the horizon and decisions to make. I began feeling anxious a couple of weeks ago knowing we had our summer vacation coming that we had planned long before God stirred us to adopt. Anxious about the home study that we need to get for our next step in the adoption process; which agency to go through, how to pay the $1400. Anxious about school decisions for the next semester as I begin my Bachelor's program at Weber State. Praying for some relief from all of the above, that some miracle will happen...

I am the first to admit that when it comes to finances, my faith sucks. I know that we all stress about finances at times but when I do not have the money in the bank or the knowledge of where it is coming from my stress level rises because I feel very insecure and vulnerable. I am not a fan! I am also a problem solver; it is part of the personality God gifted me with; sometimes a blessing, sometimes a curse. Often that problem solving gets in the way of what God may be trying to do because I am soooooo not a patient person. Sometimes my problem solving is a good thing and I use wisdom in my decisions in order to keep anxiety at bay. Last week I started experiencing severe acid-reflux one night because I was worried about how to pay for our vacation, our home study, Skyler's birthday, etc. It is not just a little heart burn but feels like sharp daggers being thrust into my chest.

God was telling me through this to take a step back and find some balance. I talked to Aaron the next day and asked him if we could wait until after our vacation to have our home study so we could take care of one thing at a time. I am very blessed with a husband who hears me and loves me. We contacted our adoption coordinator to make sure postponing our home study until July would be okay and once we received confirmation a weight was lifted, even though I hate knowing that because of this decision our children have to stay possibly longer where they are.

Today I received an email from the University letting me know what grants and aid have come through for the next year. I didn't receive any scholarships I was hoping and praying for and I received just enough to cover my tuition and books. I felt the anxiety creeping in again and would have loved for that money to have come through. I should be feeling blessed that I can get this education and that I am receiving the grants to do so but the extra would have been a nice security for the girl with no faith in finances. I started thinking about how I can "solve" this problem. Several solutions came to mind; go half-time and go back to work part-time to increase our income, quit school temporarily and get a full-time job, other scenarios with both of or one of these included. None of course with, " Have faith and let God do this Julie".

I am really glad my mom has been here visiting. she let me vent and cry as I expressed the frustration of wishing I knew where the funds would come from, wishing I could get the home study done now, wishing our kids in Haiti didn't have to wait because of money , wishing... She also helped me to remember why I started my education almost three years ago and that it is important that I continue on this path. I love school. I love Social Work. I love the idea of empowering to be healthier individuals, parents, children, etc. I love the idea of taking my Social Work degree in a few years, and maybe going to other places and using it to give others opportunities that I have had. I love being a part of something that is so not about me. I want my children; all five of them; to know the value of education in this country, and to be proud of their mom for doing it and doing it well!

So today, I am trying to have more faith that God will provide in a major way. I am praying that God will increase my faith in this area. I am praying that our adoption fundraising yard sale this weekend will be a smashing success and a lot of money will be raised, if not all, to pay for our home study. I am praying that this vacation to visit my dad will be a time of rest, rejuvenation, and fun for all of us. I am praying that when we come back we will get our home study finished so that we can keep moving forward in bringing our kids home from Haiti. I am praying that no matter what, there will be times of complete awe at God's provision and that when I tell our adoption story in the future; every bump, every corner we careen around, every anxiety; God will have brought us to the other side and my children will see Him, my family will see Him, my friends will see Him, I will see Him.

So for today I will pray and I will wait.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

This week's truths

Boy, how adoption brings out your raw self. I consider myself a pretty content person. We don’t generally live extravagantly and don’t use credit cards. We live a good life! We sent our initial startup fee of $2,250 to our agency last Wednesday and who knew that all these crazy thoughts would creep in. It is not like it sent us to the poor house but that is what it feels like for me. I am a task oriented; likes security type of gal and this adoption is so not that way in any capacity. There are tasks that will need done, paperwork is right up my alley, but when I feel our savings dwindle I start to feel like I am drowning. I like knowing I have a security blanket financially.

This week since sending the check for our startup fees $2,250,I have never doubted that we are supposed to be adopting but the selfishness in me has really come to the surface. Thoughts of “perhaps we could just wait a couple of years so we can have a more vacations”, “ I could do so much with this money for the yard”, etc. I received an email a few weeks back from my aunt in Canada sharing how Alzheimer’s is really starting to take hold of my grandma and with each year worsens. How I would love to go see her. When I say etcetera I mean it. Most are just fleeting thoughts as I turn my eyes to the children we want to bring home and know that it is fear trying to take hold of me. Some are real decisions that seem impossible yet I am forced to choose between bringing our children home and things that are also important such as seeing my Grandma before it is too late.

I am not good on relying on God when it comes to finance and I like my ducks in a row. I also realized this week I have been acting like a child in response by spending in unnecessary areas when I should be putting it all in savings. The rebel in me! I keep praying “God, you know I suck at this insecurity particularly, so can you alleviate it somehow please?” I know there are tests of faith but this is my least favorite. Who knew that God would use my biggest fear to rely on him to provide wholly for us in this process? Please pray for our financial needs during this time so that I don’t freak out and so that I can have a little security back. I am so thankful for how hard my husband is working, the overtime he is putting in, to make all of this even possible. Here’s to more waiting and praying and hoping…

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Who knew? The beginning...

If anyone asked Aaron and I six weeks ago if we would adopt the answer would have been a resounding "No" but "we are avid supporters of others who are adopting". Who knew that four days in Haiti would change the course of our lives forever. Back in February my sister-in-law invited me to join her and her husband on a trip to meet my nephews in Haiti. They have been in the adoption process for a year and a half now and are in the "final stages", although that like every other part of the process takes an eon. I frantically began getting the paperwork and application done for my passport, which as a Canadian living in the U.S. is not so easy. I began researching about this place I would be going and even started to learn some basic Creole; the primary language spoken by the majority population. As the trip dates approached faster and faster I was nervous and excited about leaving the comforts of home. I knew there would be no hot or clean water but the first thing that surprised me was that when you use the toilet you can't flush any paper waste. I'll let you figure that out. I got some great advice to shower at night which felt amazing after long days in the heat and humidity at the orphanage.

From day one at the orphanage I fell in love with every child there; this feeling you get of wanting to scoop every single one up and "rescue" them. I lost track of time and my own "stuff" while I was there. One of my girls in looking at the pictures of my trip said that I looked so happy. It is amazing how much joy you feel when you are giving all of yourself to others without worrying about your outfit looking cute or your hair being a certain way. I remember one night sitting on the balcony upstairs crying trying to process the level of poverty I had seen, the emptiness in the eyes of so many, the desperation of the children at the orphanages to be hugged, kissed, and adored. Who knew that night, God was breaking me down for something I never thought possible.

On Thursday (Day 3), we went like every other day with donations and food for the kids and who knew that two special children would touch my heart in only a way a mother's heart can be. There was no overt "thing" that happened but while I sat with them I felt this stirring in me that I couldn't describe. Friday was our final day and as I spent time with these same two all day I couldn't stand the thought of leaving these two in particular in this place with no family to love them, no promising future ahead. I sat there so blown away by the feelings and emotions I experienced. Who knew that my heart could be penetrated by two children I barely knew.

Coming home on the plane, I said to my sister-in-law, "How do I go home and tell my husband I want to adopt two children?". Who knew that at home he had experienced some things of his own and knew that I would come home wanting to adopt. After talking together and with our kids we knew this was the path we were supposed to travel to bring these kids home. Who knew that obstacle one would come almost immediately. Aaron and I are not rich by any means so we knew that money would be an obstacle; we didn't know it would be our primary obstacle. Although there are not financial requirements for Haiti adoptions, USCIS has some, and at our current income we would maybe only qualify to adopt one child with our current assets. After a lot of discussion, Aaron approached his work and increased his hours permanently so that  we could not only meet the income guidelines but also to increase our monthly savings toward the adoption. Who knew that Aaron's work would be so willing.

The next obstacle was waiting to hear from the agency to approve our application. After many sleepless nights and emails we finally were approved and could begin the adoption process. Who knew that God would continue to open seemingly impossible doors. We then began to share our good news and who knew that some unexpected people would be supportive and that others we would expect support from would be naysayers. A friend has said many times that money is one of the biggest deterrents for adoption and we are here to say that we get it. When this crossroads comes it is the path you choose that makes the difference.

Who knew that I would be typing my first blog post for our adoption journey. Who knew that God would use our story to show that mountains can be moved. Who knew that Aaron would be more impatient than I in just the beginning steps. Each step is a small one toward our greater goal of bringing two more into our family. Today our acceptance and agreement paperwork went in to the agency. Who knows what the journey will look like but I know and Aaron knows that we will not rest until our children come home!!!