Sunday, March 8, 2015

Oliver: Part 2- Big Thoughts

Sometimes my head and heart are so full that I am afraid as soon as I start typing all the words and feelings that are inside will just gush out into a big blob of goo. I blame my fear of goo on the lack of blog posts lately. There is just so much happening inside my head and heart these days. To think about having to specify or define or articulate it all has felt overwhelming. I sit to type something up and end with a blank screen and re-runs of Downton Abbey on the TV. Big thoughts are exhausting.

Big thoughts are also important. As I process our journey to Oliver, both the things that have already happened and the things that are happening soon, I have to think big thoughts or I fear I will miss the greatness of what God has done and is continuing to do.

We stood in church this morning with our people, singing our brains out about how God is enough and is bigger and is for us and never leaves us. As wee sang loud and clapped loud and cheered loud and prayed loud, I kept thinking about something a fellow adoptive mom said to me this week. She was encouraging me and reflecting on God's faithfulness to her own family and then said this:

Will continue our prayers---have a blessed trip----when you feel stressed, lean into Jesus & release ALL to Him. Remember, none of this would have been possible without Him (a Christian American family, adopting from a communist atheist nation...only God).

As my brothers and sisters and I participated in loud, corporate worship, in the middle of of our city, just off of Main Street, with the front doors open to let in the breeze, I was overwhelmed by the reality of the contrast between my home church and the Church in Ch*na. This Sunday in Ch*na, millions of believers worshiped together in secret, or individually. They have to pay attention to what is going on around them as they sing and pray and teach. They may or may not even have access to a Bible. Yes, some areas of Ch*na have more freedom then others but that freedom is nothing like what we experience on a weekly bases.

I am so excited to bring Oliver to church. I am so excited that this little boy will grow up in a family of believers that likes to sing their brains out and jump and dance and clap and shout and leave the doors open. I am so excited that Oliver will be taught about the gifts of the Spirit and be encouraged to walk in them and to earnestly seek them. I am so excited that he will have men and women around him who will pray for him and prophecy over him and teach him to hear the voice of God.

God chose Tim and I to parent Oliver and that responsibility is something we take very seriously. We've attended conferences, read books, watched DVDs, met with other adoptive parents and done everything in our human power to try to prepare for the next weeks of attachment forming and "cocooning" and becoming a family of 5. There are many times when the responsibility of parenting our three kiddos becomes very heavy and feels to big for our shoulders. I've felt the heaviness a lot these past few weeks. The closer we get to leaving for Ch*na, the more I see Sawyer and Jane begin to feel it as well. Regression, sassy-ness, defiance, all the favorite behaviors have reared their heads as Tim and I start packing our bags and putting in the new car seat. I knew it was coming. It is completely normal for older siblings to react to the uncertainty of what the addition of a baby will mean for them and for their family they are comfortable and familiar with. I know in my brain it is normal. But it leaves my heart heavy. The scary big thoughts threaten to take over and on goes Netflix.

But here is the other side of the conversation that the Lord keeps bringing me back to. He gave us Sawyer and Jane and He told us to go get Oliver and He never starts a good work only to leave it undone. He always finishes what He starts. He is all about completion. And He does good work.

The movie "The Drop Box" was released last week and I went two nights in a row. I thought I'd be a basket case as I watched the abandoned babies being brought into Dr. Lee's home and heard their adoption stories. Don't get me wrong, I loved those moments in the film, but the thing that wreaked me as I watched the movie, both times, was how willing Dr. Lee and his wife were to just give their lives away for these "unwanted" children. Dr Lee never sleeps. His health is deteriorating. They have no money. They have a severely handicapped adult son along with the 15 other children they care fore full time. Plus the hundreds of babies they work to save through the box they've built on the side of their church/house. This couple is spending their lives on behalf of abandoned children. They have died to themselves. They have taken up their crosses. They think the big thoughts and feel the big feelings and then do something with them. They don't have Netflix. They don't know who Lady Mary is.

They are happy. They are joyful. They have hope. They love and live like Jesus. It is costing them everything.

Suddenly the responsibility of parenting Oliver doesn't feel so heavy. Suddenly this opportunity to love and teach this sweet boy exciting and full of anticipation for what is to come. Suddenly instead of thinking the big thoughts and turning on the TV, I find myself dreaming and hoping and believing big things for my son. God chose us to be parents to Oliver not because we are "super Christians" or because we know what we're doing or because we are rolling in the dough or because anything. God chose us because, through our "yes" to his invitation to adopt, He gets glory. And His glory is good for us.

Our adoption journey has been very public. Partially due to our efforts, and majorly because of God's efforts (check out my post on the AOL wildness). We want to show the world the love of the Father through our journey to Oliver. We want God to be so glorified through our growing family. He is the one making this all happen. He is the one setting the stage for a Christian family from America to adopt from an atheist, communist country. It's His story and it's for His glory and our good. We will be posting pictures and stories as much as possible while we are traveling and once we are home. We'd love for you to share our story with your friends and family. Share our blog. Share our facebook page.  Share our Instagram: @standard_goods. We believe God is going to show up in big ways while we are in Ch*na these next few weeks and we believe we will continue to see Him show up in big ways in the weeks after we get home. Our desire is to share what He has done and is doing and to see Him glorified in our testimony.

Thank you for your prayers and texts and emails this last week. I'll write a post tomorrow with our upcoming schedule and more specifics on how to pray while we are traveling.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Oliver: Part 1

So I'm about a dozen blog posts behind. So much has happened in the last four weeks and rather then write a novel, I've decided to give the update in multiple parts. Warning: They will be wordy and too detailed but it is my hope that all the posts in this blog will serve as a sort of "baby book" for our son as we record this adventure.

Oliver: Part 1

Back in October I wrote a post about feeling "blah" and exhausted from waiting and not knowing what was coming next in our adoption adventure. After a year of paper chasing and appointments and working hard to fund-raise, the holiday's hit and there was nothing more for us to do but wait for our agency to match us with a child. It was crickets for a while and it was frustrating because I had zero control. I didn't want to whine too loudly though because in the adoption world, we really hadn't been waiting that long and, as far as we knew, we might have a lot longer to wait. So I wrote a whiney blog post and moved on. November came and went without a peep from our agency. My hopes of having a match by Christmas were quickly fading.

Somewhere in the first week of December I got a text from a woman at church who wanted to know more about adoption. She and her husband were in the early stages of the conversation and wanted to hear a bit more about our story. We planned to meet for dinner on Tuesday, December 9th. Tuesday morning came and I dropped Sawyer off at Kindergarten and Jane off at Preschool and headed for a hair appointment. I love getting my hair done but it has sort of been a marker for how long this journey has been for us (again, I know "long journey" is relative). My hair dresser was one of the first people to know we had started the process back in 2013 and since I only see her every 3-4 month or so (don't judge- getting my hair done is expensive, yo) its always an interesting conversation of filling her in on whats happened and whats next. The bummer with this appointment was nothing had really changed since the last time I had come in. We chatted about other things and as I got up to leave and grabbed my phone I noticed a missed call from our social worker. The adrenalin immediately kicked in and I was shaking while trying to pay my hairdresser. Our social worker had told us she wouldnt call unless it had something to do with a referral so I was anxious over the fact that I had missed her first call and even more anxious about hurrying to my car so I could call her back.

She picked up right away and immediately asked if I was driving. I think I said something like, "YES! NO! It doesnt matter, just tell me whats up???!!" She laughed and said, "I think I have an early Christmas present for your family!!" She proceeded to tell me about the file of a seven-month-old baby boy, in need of a family. She said he was missing his right hand and was noted as being in good health. I kept saying, "Seven months?? He is only seven months old??" She said she couldnt believe it either and that the Lord knew what we were hoping for in our hearts in regards to being a family for a baby. Our social worker said she would email us the file and include the photos at the end. There was a pretty short time limit for deciding "yes" or "no" on our part so she encouraged us to talk and pray right away. I was giddy on the phone the entire conversation and kept asking the Lord, "Is he ours? Is this our son? Please let this be our son!"

I called Tim as soon I hung up with the social worker and asked him to meet me at home as soon as possible. I picked the kids up from school and could barely hold it together. As soon as we were home, I threw some turkey and cheese on two plates and put a movie on and told the kids mom and dad would be talking for a while. Tim came home and without saying anything, we went straight to our room and opened the laptop. We read through the medical file and personal file and learned a lot about this baby's health, weight, daily schedule, and the institution he was currently living in. At the end of the documents were six of the sweetest pictures I had ever seen. Sitting on our knees, at the foot of our bed, we saw the face of our son, Oliver, for the first time. It was such a surreal moment. One we had waited for and heard about and dreamed of and now were living out. Tim said, "Let's go get him and bring him home." And that was it. He was ours and we were his.

We called our social worker and told her we wanted to pursue the adoption of this baby. She said, "I knew it. The whole China team knew it. They already pulled his file for you. As soon as they saw him, they knew."  Chills.

We went to dinner that night with some new friends and got to talk all about our adoption journey and this time, for the first time, the story ended with the face of our Oliver. Later that night we drafted our Letter of Intent and sent it off to our agency to be sent to China. We told the kids the following evening and could barely keep from announcing it to the world, but, per our agency, were strongly advised to keep the circle small until we received conformation via Letter of Acceptance which was guestimated to come within 50-60 days.

Miracle of miracles, our Letter of Acceptance arrived at our agency 8 days later. Totally unexpected. Totally not "standard wait time." Totally God.

We wont show Oliver's full face on social media until we receive travel approval (we are praying this comes mid Feb) but here is the teaser we posted on facebook.

Part 2 coming soon...Oh yes, there is more.