A lack of posts could only mean one thing. . .

that I’m now busily mothering 3 girls 🙂

I have neglected this blog since Anna arrived.  It’s been a whirlwind 10 days and we haven’t had much time to breathe around here.   Anna was escorted to Chicago on October 29 and we are enjoying settling in as a family.

There are challenges (the language barrier being the most difficult) but the blessings far outweigh them.  The girls are getting along fabulously.  We are all getting used to being a family of 5 (the laundry & dishes have increased far more than I imagined!)

God’s faithfulness is amazing to us.  During this adoption process, neither Andy nor I were truly convinced the adoption was going to happen — there were so many bumps and so few families who had already done it.  So when Anna finally stepped off the plane, I think we were as much surprised as we were excited and relieved!

Now that the process is over, I plan to make the blog public again and I would love to encourage others considering Congo adoption.

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The orphanage

Before I left for Congo, I told Andy that I did not want to visit Anna’s orphanage.  I felt like it was going to be an emotional trip & since it was so quick, I wanted to enjoy every minute of it.  After all, I reasoned, I’ve seen orphanages before so I had a pretty good idea of what Anna had probably experienced.  I’ve seen my other daughters’ orphanages in China and I worked in an AIDS orphanage in South Africa.  For this trip, I was going to insist that I didn’t want to go to the orphanage.

As with most things related to this adoption, it didn’t go as I had planned.  And as always, I’m glad my plan didn’t prevail.  I truly needed to see this orphanage & God knew it. It’s an essential part of understanding Anna’s story.   As I describe what I saw, it will be straightforward.  I can describe the surroundings but not my emotions.  I don’t have the appropriate words to really describe how it felt to see it.  It was mind-numbing.  I couldn’t even process the emotions I felt.  The orphanage was inadequate and bare.  The conditions were crowded and inhumane.

The other orphanages I’ve seen are virtual palaces compared to the orphanage I saw in Congo.

This orphanage was essentially one concrete room smaller than the first floor of our home.  No electricity.  Concrete floors and walls.  No windows, just a few narrow slats in the concrete.   A pile of mats in the corner to lay out at bedtime.  No indoor plumbing.   No toys or playground.  There isn’t enough food for the children to eat every day.  They typically eat a meal every other day.  About 200 children live there.

The orphanage director explained to us that she works there in order to show Jesus to these children.  That is servanthood.  I can’t wait for this woman to get her heavenly rewards because they surely will be rich!

So my daughter endured this and has emerged as a joyful girl, bright-eyed, curious and compassionate.  God is truly at work in her life and I can’t wait to see what He has in store for her.

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Detours

It’s been an amazing several days around here.   Qutie the whirlwind!  I have gone and returned from visiting Anna.

It was the best detour I ever took.  We are so grateful that God ignored our plans and led us down His path, giving us gracious gifts that we didn’t even know we needed.

I spent 2 days with Anna.  I thought that perhaps I would be able to visit with her a bit while I was in Africa.  Instead, I had custody of her the entire 48 hours I was there!  I had no idea that would happen!  (If I’d known, I’d have taken more than a coloring book and a Magna doodle.)  She’s an amazing kid.  She is resilient like no one I’ve ever known.  She is sweet and delightful.  She’s bright-eyed and curious.  Super affectionate.   She was well-prepared for my visit.  When I met her, she held the photo album that we sent her months ago.  It was tattered from having looked at it so much.  She can identify each family member in it and is excited to meet all of them!  During these 2 days, I was able to talk extensively with people who know Anna well and learn so much about her personality and her background that I could never have learned if we had just met her at the aiport on Oct. 6 as we had originally planned for and hoped for.  Now, when she arrives, she’ll meet a familiar face with whom she has already bonded.  We now know so much more about her that we feel much more confident about meeting her when she arrives.  We know now that she loves Dora, all technology, Skittles, cashews and cell phones.  She has a healthy appetite.  She speaks French.

We anticipate her arriving very soon!

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Proverbs 16:9

“In his heart a man plans his course,  but the LORD determines his steps.”

I love that our God can lead us where He wants us to go even when we think we are headed another direction.  We thought we had this all planned out!

Months ago, when we began thinking of a 3rd adoption, we asked God to show us a country where there was great need and where we wouldn’t have to travel.  At this stage of our parenting, we did not think that travelling would be good for our family.  In fact, before we signed the official papers deciding to adopt, I sent one last e-mail to the agency asking them again to be sure that we would not have to travel.  After receiving that reassurance, we forged ahead, certain that this was the program for us.

Well. . . as I’m packing for my trip,  I just have to chuckle.  No one could have foreseen that the process would change in such a way that it would necessitate my traveling but I soon will be.  No one had a clue except God.  This is not a surprise to Him.  Resting in his sovereignty, we completely believe that there is a reason that this is best.  Maybe it will help Anna to meet me before she comes home.  Maybe it’s important for me to see the country firsthand.  Maybe it’s even good for my girls to see that God cares for them even when Mom isn’t here.  Maybe 50 hours of travel time will allow me time to be still and quiet.

In any case, we marvel at how God has orchestrated it all.  Since the beginning, God’s hand has so clearly been shaping this  entire process.  We have marveled at His work and we have grown in our trust in Him.  He raised the money for this adoption in ways we couldn’t have imagined.  He kept us sane through all kinds of bureaucratic frustrations.  He has raised up a team of prayer warriors so great that we have been humbled again and again to see how much people already care for our daughter.  So when it was decided that I needed to travel,  we had no doubt that God was still in control.   He even raised enough money so that there was enough for this unexpected trip.   He has been so gracious to reveal Himself clearly over these months so that when this moment arrived, we didn’t panic.   This adoption is His and we are blessed beyond belief to be a part of it.

We can’t wait to see what this trip has in store and how He will orchestrate her arrival.  There is no need for me to worry about all the details of how she will acclimate into our family & our lives or how she will learn the language or how the girls will all get along or whether she will feel uprooted when she arrives.

God has this all covered and it’s so fun to have a front row seat to watch it!

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The Plan

I know I’ve been very vague lately and I have to continue to be while we wait for all the details to be worked out.

We have a plan  though.  Sometime soon, I’m going to take a quick trip to Africa and try to handle the situation in person.   I will most likely not be able to bring our daughter home with me, but I can set the wheels in motion so that someone else can bring her soon after I go.

We are praying for God to be glorified in this.  He is giving us clear guidance as we seek to bring her home.  This path is certainly taking many more detours than we anticipated but none of this is a surprise to God!

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Not much to report

Things are plugging along.  Officials are still trying to figure out our case.  We are moving ahead with some other ideas to get her home.  When we know more, we’ll report.  Things are changing each day so we just aren’t positive yet.

Meanwhile, we got a picture of our sweet girl laughing uproariously.  I can’t wait to hear that laugh!

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We are not despairing

We are doing well and feeling God’s faithfulness holding us up.  We are disappointed but doing all we can to fight for our daughter.

Right now, we have been given 2 options as to how we can get Anna home.  The problem is that no one can tell us which option is better and will get her home sooner.  (Either option will likely take weeks or months.)

We are praying for someone to take up our daughter’s case, advocate for her and help us in this process.  We have emailed nearly 20 government offiicals pleading our case.  Our plea is this:  Our daughter is legally ours.  The adoption has been final since May.  She is the daughter of U.S. citizens.  Please help us expedite her homecoming.

We hope that when offices open on Monday morning, someone will be moved by our case and give us the information we need to help us proceed.

May it all be for God’s glory!  May He be pleased with us as we walk this path.

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