Saturday, November 22, 2008

We're getting a new addition!

He's not the baby we have been hoping and praying for, but we have finally decided to get the boys a dog. The boys have wanted a pet for a really long time, but Luke and I have not been super excited about breaking into the world of pet ownership. We finally decided about a month ago that it would be really fun to surprise them with a puppy for Christmas. But how do you surprise a child with a puppy on Christmas morning? We have hatched a plan...

My parents live nearby and my dad has trained and bred hunting dogs for years. He is also retired so he is home most days and my mom is semi-retired so she only works two days a week. Don't they sound like great puppy-sitters? We thought so, and thankfully they agreed. We have arranged to go pick up the puppy next weekend while they boys are spending the day with Luke's mom. After we get the little guy, we will take him to my parents house where he will stay until Christmas morning. On Christmas morning we are going to coordinate a time for my parents to surprise the boys and bring their Christmas present over. I can't wait to see their reaction!

The best part of the deal for us is that my parents get to start the potty-training process for us. You know they love their grandsons when they are willing to put up with four weeks of potty-training a puppy! I'm sure we'll still have some work to do when he gets to our house, but my parents will at least get him started on the training process. I'm so thankful they live nearby and are willing to do this. I'm very excited for the's hard to keep it a secret from them.

Here's a picture of the little guy we are going to get. He is a miniature beagle and will be nine weeks old when we get him. We still haven't thought of a name for him. He has such a serious face we feel like he needs a very serious name. We've talked about Cooper, George, Murphy, or Hudson, but we just can't quite decide. If you have any other great dog names for us, please let us know. Just don't tell the boys!
As for our other (and more important!) adoption, I haven't updated in a while because we have some research we are in the midst of right now. As I mentioned a few posts ago, Luke found out that the biggest need for minority adoptions is in the South so we are gathering information from an agency in North Carolina. Once we find out how all that is going to work out, I will post about it. It looks very promising, but we're just not sure yet about some of the details.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Wal-Mart and adoption

Shopping at Wal-Mart has never been an experience that I would call uplifting, inspirational, or encouraging. In fact, the words that usually come to mind when describing trips to Wal-Mart are frustrating, stressful and chaotic! This past week I had a very different experience. First of all, I had my two sons with me and they were amazingly calm and well-behaved throughout the entire shopping trip. That definitely made the trip a unique one! But while we were there, I also saw a family that was such an encouragement to my heart I just had to write about it.

The boys and I were waiting at the water fountains when a mother and several young children walked by to use the restrooms. The mother was white so when I noticed one of her children was black I took a second glance. "Must be an adoptive family," I thought. I noticed she also had two or three white boys with her, maybe biological children or maybe they were also adopted. Then I noticed her second daughter. She was an Asian girl, probably about 9 or 10 years old. This little girl really stood out to me for one reason: she had no arms.

I was immediately overcome with emotion when I realized what this family had done for this little girl. When I travelled to China, we would often see beggars on the streets who were maimed or crippled. They were the outcasts of society, and forced to live on the streets and beg for their survival. I thought of those beggars when I saw that little girl; that was the life she was most likely destined for until this family came and saved her from that. What an act of self-sacrificial love this family demonstrated when they brought this little girl into their family!

Seeing this family reminded me of an adoption that is even more amazing: the act of love God demonstrates when He adopts us into His family. We are all born sinners and destined for wrath, but when we are saved God adopts us into His family and bestows upon us all the blessings of being His child. That little girl had a horrible destiny when she was born, but that family brought her home and called her one of their own. Her destiny in life was completely changed, and she now had hope to live a wonderful life. It's very similar with sinners who are saved by God's grace. We are born with a horrible destiny, but when God saves us by His grace our lives and our future are completely changed. We have blessings and hopes that we never could have had if He hadn't have adopted us into His family.

Isn't adoption a beautiful thing? Earthly adoptions are not only a wonderful blessing for the adopting family and the adopted child, but they also give us a glimpse at the eternal blessings of being adopted by God into His family. I never got to speak with that mom (she was preparing to take several young children for a bathroom break which probably isn't the best time to engage someone in conversation) but I would have loved to have asked her about their adoption story and told her what an encouragement her family was to me. I've thought about them a lot over the last several days, and still get emotional when I think about that little girl and how blessed she was to be adopted into such an amazing family.

God often blesses us in ways that we can never expect or imagine, and I never thought standing by the water fountains at Wal-Mart would be an inspirational moment in my life. Whenever I am shopping and running errands, I am really bad about getting so caught up in what I am doing that I don' t take notice of those around me. I need to learn to slow down and be more attentive to people I come in contact with. You never know how God is going to bless you through them, just as this family blessed me last week.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Discouraged, but encouraged

Yesterday morning was a bit discouraging for me. As I posted yesterday, we found out that the birthparents chose the other family because the other family didn't have any children. (I'm assuming that means they can't have biological children, although I could be wrong in that assumption.) We completely understood why they would want to give their child to a couple who can't conceive. We were disappointed for ourselves, but happy for this other couple. And although I would have loved to adopt this baby boy, that wasn't the main reason I was discouraged. When I found out we were "competing" for this baby boy with a family that can't have biological children, I was very confused and felt like our adoption process had lost its original purpose.

When we decided God was leading us to adopt, we wanted to adopt where there was a true need for orphans to be adopted. That is the reason why we're adopting: we want to fulfill the Biblical command to take care of orphans and bring a child into our family who has no one else to care for him/her. That was our purpose (and still is!) in seeking to adopt a child. When we began this process, we were looking into adopting from Ethiopia or China until we heard of the need to adopt minority infants here in the U.S. We decided if there was such a need to adopt children right here in our very own state, we didn't have to travel elsewhere. So we began the adoption process, eagerly filled out our paperwork, completed our homestudy, and thought we would be bringing home a baby any day. We got two or three calls about potential adoptions before we were even done with our paperwork! Surely it wouldn't take very long before we got matched. Right?

Well... here we are seven months later and have not been matched with a child. Our adoption agency said they had a real dry spell over the summer with birthmothers placing their children for adoption, so we just thought that was the reason why our wait was taking a little longer. No big deal, we thought, this might just take a little longer than we had anticipated. We were very excited when this potential situation came up with this little boy a couple weeks ago, and really thought this might be the child God had for us. At the same time, we also knew it might not be God's will, so we tried to guard ourselves from getting too excited. But when we found out yesterday that the other family had been chosen because they don't have children, one phrase kept ringing through my mind, "Where's the need?"

I was discouraged and frustrated because I don't want to be "competing" for babies with families that can't have biological children. That is not why we signed up to adopt. We want to adopt so we can bring home a child that can't find a home, not a child that has families on a waiting list in order to bring him/her home. I just haven't seen the need to adopt minority children that we thought was there when we signed up for this process. With this news yesterday, I felt like our purpose in adopting had gotten off-track and wondered if we were really headed in the right direction.

Thankfully, my husband isn't quite as emotional as I am and he had a much more rational mind yesterday while I was dealing with all this discouragement and frustation. He assured me that he thinks we are still on the right track and that maybe this conference he is attending this weekend is yet another one of God's smiling providences on our situation. He was excited to talk to others from ministries such as the Micah Fund and ABBA Fund and get their insight into our situation. Although I was having my own doubts about our adoption process, I decided to trust Luke's leadership and judgment and wait and hear what he would learn at the conference.

This afternoon Luke called me between conference sessions and told me that he has been able to make some really good contacts with people from other adoption ministries. He has learned that there are certain areas in the country (mainly the South) where there really is a huge need for families to adopt minority children. He spoke with a woman from Georgia who said they rarely find families in Georgia to adopt their minority children, and that most of their children get adopted to families in Minnesota through the Micah Fund. I was excited to learn this; that this need we had been hearing about really does exist. I was also amazed, once again, at how God works things out. We found out we were not chosen for this other adoption about fifteen minutes before Luke left for this conference. If we had not had that experience, he wouldn't have been prompted to ask these questions of these other ministries. This was such a good reminder for me that God is in control of all this, and I need to not get so impatient and discouraged.

I'll get to talk to Luke more in-depth tonight (he only had a few minutes to talk when he called earlier) and get to hear more about what he has learned. I am so thankful the conference was scheduled this weekend, and that Luke has been encouraged and edified through it. I'm sure he'll have lots more to share when he gets home tomorrow.

So...what started out as a very discouraging weekend has been turned into an encouraging one for both of us. God is always faithful, and I'm learning to trust Him more and more through this adoption process. I know someday when we look back on this adoption process, we'll have an amazing story to tell of God's faithfulness and blessings in our lives.