Tuesday, February 2, 2010

God Is Good

It has been a crazy 48 hours. But we FINALLY have her. We flew into Miami and arrived around 4:30 pm. We had to really scramble to get plane tickets since the pro bowl was this weekend. We were quite fortunate to get anything. Anyway, we had to rent a car and drive about 30 minutes to home for displaced children. (Some type of home for social services) They had offered it to the the Haitian refugees and took care of them until us parents could get down there. We arrived around 6 pm and witnessed a sight I will never forget. Little Haitian children of all ages running around playing with their new parents. Laughing, jumping running. They were so happy. Everyone was so happy.

We sat in a room and waited a while for a social worker to review our case. These poor people had been up for days and yet they were so gracious and kind. You could tell that they were exhausted, but were on a mission to give all they had for these kids. I handed over a couple documents and that was it. Since it was so late and Oslene had already gone to bed we didn't want to wake her and cause even more disruption, so we went back to the hotel and got a good night sleep ourselves. (and had a FANTASTIC Cuban dinner - the food down here is unbelievable)

We arrived back at the home around 10:00 am and they pulled us out of the room and said we "had a small problem". Some how my social security number was attached to another individual and they had no record of me even existing in the FBI background checks. My jaw hit the floor. I could not believe that we had come this far to have this hit us. I saw a future of mountains of corrective paperwork and having to go home empty handed. But since these guys were so tired and it was completely obvious that i was the one who belonged to that social security number, they let us have her. (Unfortunately I have to now research the possibility of identity theft. :Like I need one more thing to do.)

Once we were cleared we got in a van and drove to her little house. She was being given a bottle outside on the patio. I knew I would break down when I saw her and I did. Nothing new there. But we then went in, changed her diaper and got back into the van. From there they took a picture of her, handed us her documents and away we went. Straight to Walgreens where we spent $70 on stuff that I had totally forgotten a baby needs.

It has been hard since we don't know anything about her. She did get checked by a doctor, but they were not real thorough checks. She has quite a rattle in her chest. We had no idea what she ate or what she would like. I brought the wrong size diapers and the few clothes we brought we a bit big. But regardless, we are just thrilled to have her. As I type this she is asleep in David's arms.

I will be sending out a public service announcement tomorrow just to inform everyone the best way to handle her when they get to see her. She is obviously severely traumatized. She also has all the characteristics of a child who has been in an orphanage, so we have a lot of work to do with her. We need to address her needs as if she was a newborn until she stabilizes a bit. She hasn't had a whole lot to smile about lately, so smiles will come with time. But she has huge big eyes that take in everything like a sponge. We can see a difference in her within the first few hours.

Thank you again for your prayers! It is just awesome to see what God has done. I can't wait to see what the next chapter holds. (hopefully a little bit of emotional and physical stability, at least for a few weeks) (<;

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Deeper Faith

In my prayer time today, I was going over yesterday's lesson and wanted to put it out there. Over the past few days several people have brought up the Abraham and Isaac story to me. Some have shown me several analysis of the words and how Abraham said "we will be back" (or something like that) How it was as contradiction. God promised Abraham and therefor Abraham knew that God would not take his son etc. I don't know what the commentaries say on it but this is what has struck me so profound and is what I believe God is teaching me right now. I touched on it yesterday.

I was wondering if Abraham was credited as righteous because he said "Here I am." and obeyed. Maybe he did not think of what God's outcome was going to be because he trusted that "God would work for the good of those who love Him." He knew the promises God had made him, and trusted God would fulfil those promises, but maybe he had no idea how that was going to happen nor did he have any expectations. He just put Isaac in God's hands. It is a fine line and I hope I am making myself clear.

I relate it to my situation this way. I have put Oslene in God's hands. I have from the beginning. I have had no control and have even less control right now. But even through all that I "had faith" that God would bring her to me. "I had faith" that God would keep her from harm. In my mind I had already seen the outcome of MY faith. See how that is backward. God gave us this promise: "In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. " We know this is true because God said it. He didn't say have faith and this thing that you think will happen is going to happen.

I have to do as Abraham did and say "Here I am Lord". (Going to God) and then take the next step in obedience to Him. It is not my job nor my place to see 15 steps down the road and expect that from God because I said Here I am and stepped out in faith. All I do is take the next step and wait on God. In one way this is profoundly comforting and in another way it is terrifying.

We may have been called to step out in faith, to choose Oslene, to pray for her, to support her financially and take every other step that has gone on in this process. But God never promised her to us. (Now I pray every day that he brings her here, but that is prayer, it can not be expectation) And if God never brings her here I have to trust in His promise in Romans 8:28. Trust that it is a far bigger picture than I could ever see and it is not my place to see it. It is my place to say here I am lord and take the next step. Nothing more. I hope that makes sense. It is hard hard lesson.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

When the Rubber Meets The Road

Your prayers and encouragement have broken the blanket of despair and hopelessness that I have felt so profoundly over the past two days. I have such a sense of joy, peace and anticipation I can not even tell you how profound it is. Yesterday, I cried out to God to tell me something, anything, I just needed to know that He was there and in this. I have come to a point in my walk of faith were there rubber meets the road. What is it I really believe. Do I believe in the God of miracles or do I put down my bible and walk away. Seeing only chaos and destruction. An act of cruel chance.

Over and over I heard the same message. "Do you trust me?" "I have brought her this far, I will carry her to the end."

I believe God spoke through several of you yesterday. Reassuring me that not only was she alive, but she was unharmed. Here is a short list of miracles that has already happened and we don't even know the half of it:

1. Oslene was brought into the orphanage extremely malnourished and is now thriving
2. Because of a "computer glitch" her picture was not posted on the adoption agency website and I was the first one who got to see her picture through other means.
3. I was called to pray for her mother and her before I even knew they existed.
4. We have received all the money necessary to pay for everything that has been needed. Totalling over $10,000
5. Oslene's orphanage was on Delmas road, one of the hardest hit areas where all the buildings "pancaked" on top of themselves, and her building remains standing.
6. Not only was everyone spared, but not one child was even INJURED. Not even mildly hurt.
7. Pierre, the director of the orphanage was able to call out to the FHG offices within 20 minutes of the earthquake. (Our adoption agency sent out an email to all of us, but many us did not receive it until a few hours later)

I am sure we will hear of many more miracles as time goes by. I must remember who He is and remember what He has done. This does not even include Konrad or Saxton and the miracles that occurred within their little lives. Just as Saxton likes to sing: My God is so BIG, so Strong and so mighty there's nothing my God can not do.

The whole world has turned their attention toward this tiny tiny little country where our daughter lives, offering huge amounts of support of all kinds. This tiny country has a chance to rebuild and to once again be the Pearl of the Caribbean.

I have one request. If there is anyone out there who can draw, I would love to have a picture for Oslene's scrapbook. a picture of the orphanage, and all around the orphanage are angels holding up the walls and inside the orphanage there are angles who's wings are covering each child. Thinking of this gives me an immense sense of peace. I would love to be able to depict it visually for Oslene. (unfortunately I can not draw anything but stick figures and that just doesn't convey the same message(<; )

Continue praying. We have a long way to go and there is still no word. The last we heard from them was Tuesday 20 minutes after the quake. Those little ones still need a whole lot of protection.

Faith is is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1

Praise God for His indescribable love and compassion!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Faith and Trust

It seems to be taking quite a while for us to get our immigration paperwork and the January 1, 2010 deadline will be here in 3 days. It does not look likely that we are going to make it. It is extremely hard to explain what God has been doing in the lives of this family. This adoption process has forced us to give everything over to Him and through that, God is transforming all of us.

I have learned how amazing it is to give absolutely everything over to Him. From the minute I wake up to the minute we go to bed. This is not an easy thing to do, and some days it doesn't happen at all. But when I give God every tiny aspect of my day I can see Him work in the smallest and most beautiful of ways.

Christmas has been especially profound this year. It has touched me deeply. When you hear the Christmas story every year for 40 years you become numb to it. But this year it has been different. It is as if God has clarified it a little for me.

When I question why things are happening the way they are, why Oslene is still in the orphanage, why it will take so long etc., I fall back on the birth of Christ. There is no other "god" out there that has done what our God has done. No "god" has shown the kind of love that our God has. Our God loved us so much that He, being fully divine, not needing anything, came to be a baby and grow up in and amongst us - humanity. He created us and then we turned our backs on Him. Refusing Him, ignoring Him, following other gods. But regardless of that, He continued to pursue us and show us His love. What other god has humbled himself so much that he came down to live among the ones he created and the ones who rejected him. And then on top of that, He came down to serve those he created. It is profound. He didn't come down to throw around guilt, rule with an iron fist or rise to the top. He came to serve others so that we could see an example of perfect love and self sacrifice.

It does not make any sense to think that Jesus was just a man. The great humanitarians of this world never claimed to be God. They were wonderful examples for us (Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Dali Lama, Martin Luther King etc.) These were people who showed us what self sacrifice looked like. They promoted peace and the service of other, but they never claimed to be God. People say that Jesus was a great man and teacher. His message was one of the service of others. But yet he claimed to be God. He said over and over that he was from the Father and that he had always been. He and the Father were one. He was God in human form. How can ANYONE say that Jesus was a great humanitarian, a great teacher and great leader if he was not what he claimed to be. It seems to come down to some fairly simple logic: either I believe that Jesus is God who came here as a baby, to grow up to be a man that was the example of perfect love. Who then was brutally killed even though he was completely innocent. All this to be the final sacrifice for all mankind. So that we could be reconnected with our God. OR ... he was completely crazy and I can't believe a word of the bible or anything he preached. Why would anyone believe that a liar and crazy man was a "good teacher", "peaceful man", "humanitarian". It makes no sense. If someone says they are God, and they are not, that discounts EVERYTHING they say.

I believe that the evidence clearly points heavenward. I take great comfort knowing that a God who loves me so much came down to be on our level. A God who loves me so much that he wants a relationship with ME personally. A God who loves the world so much, that even though there have been billions and billions of people on this earth, I can have a one to one relationship with Him. With that kind of love, I must trust that He is in control. I must trust that even if it makes no sense to me, He knows far more than I could ever know. I must trust that His timing is perfect and that He knows everything about Oslene. I must trust Him. Either I trust Him completely, or I put my bible down and walk away. I chose to put my full faith and trust in Him regardless what happens.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Where is God in all this suffering?

I have been asked this question several times. It is hard for people to believe in a God that allows such suffering in this world, especially the suffering of little children. I must admit, I have struggled with this myself, and prayed that God would help me understand.

As a teacher, I know various learning strategies and use them when needed. The most successful teaching strategies are visual but even more than that is experiential. When you can live it, you can learn it. I have realized that God teaches in both these ways. Visual, by showing us Christ and leading by example, but also experiential within our own lives. One of the best educational experiences I have had is children. It has shown me how God loves us. It is through this I have learned where God is in the suffering we see around us.

I have two little boys. I love them with all my heart and want nothing bad to come to them. But they are individuals and independent thinkers. It would be wrong and actually cruel, for me to keep them in their room all day and make every single decision for them just to "protect" them from getting hurt. It would actually be detrimental to their development. They must go out and make their own choices in life. This began when they were born and will continue until their deaths. Sometimes their choices will hurt others and sometimes other's choices will hurt them. If they chose to throw a rock on the playground and hit another child in the head, that other child is hurt. If another child chooses to make fun of them or hit them, then my child is hurt. It is my job as a parent to discipline when needed, intervene on their behalf, comfort them when they hurt, protect them from danger and guide them through the choices they have in their lives.

This is exactly what God does with us. God gives us the ability to chose. We can chose to go towards him or away. We can chose to do good or do evil. We can chose right or we can chose wrong. God has given humanity the capacity to chose for themselves. Some people choose love, others chose hate, some chose good, others chose bad. Some chose to allow God to work in their lives, others shut Him out completely. Because of this, their is suffering and because of this there is bravery and self sacrifice. There is pride and there is humility. There is joy and sorrow.

Unfortunately, because of man's evil choices, others get hurt. Just like if another child hits my son. Where is God in that. Where is God in the suffering caused by man's choice to do harm and be completely self-serving? Where is God in Haiti? Where is God in the suffering of those children?

God is in the orphanage workers saving thousands of lives through their dedicated service. God is in the missionaries who go down there to deliver food. God is in the government where changes are happening. God is in other governments that are coming along side Haiti. God is in the families who adopt a child.

You can see this in every situation, just change the perspective. Instead of seeing the death and destruction caused by others, look around and see the compassion, the love, the generosity, the comfort and the love of others. God speaks to us through the Bible, but He also speaks loudly by how He works in and through others.

Where was God in the Armenian genocide that killed my grandfather's family?

-He was in the Turkish family who adopted him and kept him out of harms way.

Where was God in the Nazi death camps?

- He was in the military forces that overcame the evil.

Where was God in 9/11?

- He was in the thousands of people who comforted each other in their loss and gave of themselves to help in any way possible.

Where is God in the suffering of the children of Haiti?
- He is in us!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Knowing God's "will".

This has always been a question that I have struggled with over the years. At times I seem to get so close to understanding but then it seems to slip away. I believe that God is using this endeavor to show me how simple it really is. God is not out there to trick you, play a game of cat and mouse or follow the bread crumbs. We humans, as usual, seem to make things much more difficult and confusing than they really are. The problem comes when we try to find answers outside of God's words. God has given us a very clear road map that is really quite easy to follow, but we so often go in the wrong direction when our eyes are looking elsewhere. When ever I have a question I must go back to Him and inevitably He shows me the answer. What is most profound, is that His teaching and guiding is so gentle and subtle that you don't really know what has happened until you look back and see from where you have come.

I think I can bullet this answer within just a couple verses in the bible:
Deut. 10:12-13
..what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear (reverence or awe) the lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord's commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good.

Romans 12:1-2
..offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Basically, when you live for God totally, you instinctively make decisions that honor Him. The closer I am to Him, the more obvious it is when a "distraction" tries to pull my attention elsewhere.

So how do you know God's will?:
You don't look for the will of God. If you are yielding yourselves to God as a full living sacrifice, God's will finds you.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Why does adoption cost so much?

I used to get very angry when faced with the cost of an adoption. The cost is similar whether it is international or domestic. The only way you can avoid it is to go with your local county social services. (This is how we got Konrad) The bottom line is that people need to be paid for their services. When I was a teacher I expected to be paid in my job. David has to support us as a family, he needs to be paid a living wage to do this. Everyone here in the states and in Haiti have families to support and they all need to make a living. What is unfortunate about the cost of adoption is that there are not many grants or scholarships out there for people like us. It would be wonderful if governments would designate money to support private adoptions whether they be domestic or international, but even then, Konrad's entire adoption was paid for by our government. So no matter how you slice it, it is an expensive process and that cost has to fall somewhere.

Once I found out why the cost is so high I being to see that there is really no way around it. The agency we are working with (Chinese Children Adoption International) is a non-profit organizations as is the orphanage in Haiti. They have been fantastic in clearly outlining the cost of each part of this adoption. Many of the other agencies I researched before did not do this and the cost was some nebulous number. I could never figure out where the money went or why. This is not the case with CCAI and I will list a general overview of the costs below.

Initial Application Fee: $150 ($200-500 less than the others I looked at)
First Agency Fee: $4,000
(This includes orientation, Home study, USCIS filing, Dossier prep. translation and administration)
Second Agency Fee: $800
(State required parent training, international communication and trip planning)
Post adoption Fee: $450
(Post adoption support)
Haiti Processing Fees: $4,375
(Psychological evaluation, lawyers fees, passport, translation, court fees, social history of child, social worker fees, etc)
Child support: $5,000 - broken into monthly payments.
(This is money that goes directly to the child for their physical/social/mental health)
Travel: $3,000 - $5,000
Extras: $3,000 - $8,000
(This can include anything from DNA testing, psychological exam, home maintenance adjustments required by the home study etc.)

We have budgeted on the high end of things and are trusting God to provide exactly what we need when we need it.