Thursday, September 30, 2010

One Less

Matthew West has written a new song about adoption to be featured on his new album, coming out next week. I barely missed hearing it on the radio this week, so I can't wait to hear it all the way through. It's the story of a family from TN and their journey through adoption.

One Less by Matthew West (The Story Behind The Song) from emicmg on Vimeo.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Ethiopia? Are You Sure?

So, I promised to tell this story in our timeline, so here it is.

During the few days of our Europe airline ticket fiasco/disaster, it was a couple of REALLY stressful days. We were barely speaking to each other and when we did, it was just around the topic of these tickets. We had just sent in our application to adopt and then this happened just a few days later, leading us to question if we had made the right decision to adopt. After Adam spent a full 2 days on the phone with various people trying to work out a solution to my name problem, it came to the point where it was all over. New tickets were booked, the credit card number was given out again, and all we could do was move forward and try to get excited about our trip.

As Adam wrapped up his conversation with the travel agent, he got a beep. He clicked over and the conversation went a little like this. . .

Holt- Hi Adam, this is so and so from Holt. How are you?

Adam- Oh, funny you should ask. We have just had a horrible 2 days and I'm a little stressed out.

Holt- Well, I have some good news. I was just calling to let you know that we received your application and you have been approved. I will be helping you adopt a child from Ethiopia.

Adam- What?!? We didn't apply for Ethiopia. We applied for Korea.

Holt- No, I have your application right here and you applied for Ethiopia.

Adam- Oh no. Did I make another mistake online. My wife is going to kill me. How am I going to explain this one right after this ticket mess?

Holt- Well, I have your application right here. Let me double check to make sure you put Korea.

Adam- Thank you

Holt- Oh, you did apply for Korea. This application must have been put in my box by mistake. I will get it to the correct person and have her contact you.

Adam- OK. I really didn't think I had made that mistake, but after the last 2 days, there's no telling.

This conversation was just what we needed, thank you Lord, to ease the tension, and provide some good news after the stress we had just been through. We had a good laugh out of it and were very glad it was all worked out in the end. Now, we were ready to go to Europe.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Attack Begins

So, finally, we did it. We applied online on July 14. The application was pretty easy. But in those few minutes and hours after you submit something this big, you find yourself asking "what in the world have we done?" and "How are we ever going to afford this?". We knew this decision was not made quickly. It had actually taken several years to get us to this point.

Throughout this process, I have been reading a lot of family adoption blogs and one theme that tends to run throughout many of these are the different ways that Satan seems to attack around the time of application. I was really hoping this would not happen to our family, but it did. Less than a week after applying and less than a week before heading on a long-planned and well deserved trip to Austria, we learned that my airline tickets had been booked in my maiden name. No big deal, Adam said. We could just take my marriage license and be ok. Not so!! Since my tickets and passport did not match, I could not fly. After spending 2 days on the phone with our travel agent, all 3 airlines, immigration, etc, etc, the only option we were left with was to cancel our tickets and rebook them at that current day's prices. Mind you, this was Tuesday and we were scheduled to leave on Saturday.  (How did this happen, you wonder? Adam finally found out that when he booked the tickets, he logged in to the website and it pulled up my maiden name, maybe from booking something for our honeymoon. He clicked the box next to my name verifying I was a passenger, but didn't look closely enough to realize it was the wrong last name. He said he realized it a few months after booking, but called and was told it was ok for me to bring my marriage license. Now the airline's story changes. Why can't all airlines have a simple $50 name change fee?!) So, back to the story, since this was our only option, and I was not going to give up this trip, we cancelled our tickets, which cost $450, and rebooked new ones 3 days in advance. In order to get the best deal, we ended up extending our trip by leaving a day earlier and coming home 2 days later for an extra $1300. Lesson learned: Do all adoption paperwork TOGETHER and proofread EVERYTHING. This was a costly lesson, but one that we hope will be valuable to us during this adoption process.

Well, our trip to Europe started off a little rough with 3 missed flights due to weather delays and then ended in Austria with no luggage to be found anywhere. Fortunately, it arrived the next day, out of nowhere, I guess. As we were picking it up, Adam admitted that he had a really hard time with the luggage ordeal because he wasn't in control of the situation at all. Lesson learned: We are not going to be in control of this adoption at all. We are going to have to get used to that feeling and trust that the One in control, has it all taken care of.

We had a great trip, but spent A LOT of money, because it was Europe. We have traveled to Asia several times, where you can have a really nice dinner for $2.50 a person. The exchange rate goes the opposite way in Europe and they like to charge you for everything (parking in a mall garage- $25!). So, we came home with a nice bill to pay (in addition to the tickets we had just charged to get us there).

When we arrived home, we had a letter from our agency saying that we were officially approved and as soon as we sent them a large amount of money, we could move forward with the process. Sure thing. Just add it to our tab.

The week after we got home and settled back in, my brakes started making a horrible grinding noise, so we took my car in and brought it home nearly $800 later!

Somehow, in the past month, we have still managed to put food on the table and gas in the car, but have definitely felt the attack in our finances. Of course, those questions arise again, "What in the world are we doing? and "Did we make a mistake?". But when I came across 2 Cor. 5:7 "For we walk by faith, and not by sight" I know we made the right decision. God clearly led us to adopt from Korea, the most expensive program in Asia, and He has quickly taken away our financial safety net in order to get us to COMPLETELY trust in Him. We know He can provide financially. We have seen Him do it before in a very big way, so we know it can happen again. So, we plug on and move forward, several thousand dollars poorer, but more excited every day about the journey we are on and the little one we will soon meet and bring into our family.

This journey is going to require some creative fundraising, so if anyone has any ideas, I would love to hear them.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Why Korea?

We began the research phase in late May, early June. This is such a tedious and time consuming phase of the adoption process, but really needs to be done thoroughly. During this phase you have to decide what country you want to adopt from and what agency you will use. We knew we wanted to adopt from Asia since we have been several times and have grown to love the people and culture. We have only been to China and Thailand, so these were naturally our first choices. Each country has qualifications (age, length of marriage, age of children, income, etc) and we quickly learned that we didn't qualify for many countries. We are not old enough yet to adopt from China and the process is so long in Thailand, and the children are usually at least 2 before coming home, that we would have to wait a really long time because of Grayson's age. So, we eliminated Thailand. As we began calling agencies to get information on different countries, we were told there weren't any options for us except for Korea. We had not really even looked at Korea because it is the most expensive country to adopt from in Asia. But because of our age, Grayson's age, and the timeline we were looking at, Korea became our only option.

We definitely were not opposed to this, just wondering if  God was closing all the doors at this time and telling us to wait a few more years or if He was just making our decision really simple by narrowing it down to one country for us. And why does this one country have to be so expensive? We realized that God might have just designed this option for us to increase our faith because we know there will be NO way we can afford this on our own. We have seen Him provide in BIG ways for us in the past, so we know He is capable of doing it again in an even BIGGER way. We didn't want finances (or the lack of) to be the one thing that held us back from an extraordinary blessing, so we decided Korea was it. Grayson's babysitter, since he was 10 weeks old, is a lady from Korea that we just love. Coincidence or God-designed? So, with little hesitation we decided to go for it.

With the country decided, picking our agency was a pretty easy decision. We had it narrowed down to 3 and called each one to talk to someone. We were most impressed with Holt, Int and all that they have to offer after the child is home (summer camps, family picnics, heritage tours, etc). They also have a local office and someone in town for us to talk to. So, we will be able to complete the entire process with them. We went to an informational meeting and were thoroughly impressed. They have been working with Korea for many years and have a great relationship. The process with Korea seems like it will go very smoothly because of this.

So, after two months of researching, making graphs, comparing countries, calling agencies, praying, and talking with our families, we decided we were ready to move forward. A decision like this is pretty scary, but  FAITH UNCHALLENGED IS FAITH UNCHANGED.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Why Adoption?

Our heart for adoption began to grow as we began going on international mission trips several years ago. When we got married, I think we knew that one day adoption would be a possibility for us after we had our biological children. In 2008, our heart for adoption was renewed and grew even bigger as we traveled to China for another mission trip. We were able to visit a foster home for orphaned children with special needs and I helped out with some therapy for a few hours. I knew after this brief visit that I would be adopting. When we returned home from that trip we began sponsoring a little girl that we met while we were there. Over the past year and a half my love has grown for her and for the work that this foster home does for orphans, but since we do not yet qualify to adopt from China, knew that it would be a long wait for her specifically. In 2009 we were blessed with our first child, but in the past few months as people have begun to ask us about the timing of our next child, I just could not get adoption or Addison out of my mind and off my heart. I was beginning to feel that before we had more biological children, adoption was the direction we needed to go.

In May our church began an adoption ministry and held its first meeting. We went to see what it was about. I left even more ready to adopt, but didn’t want to lose this little girl we had grown to love. I began to wonder if God was leading us to adopt from another country first and then go back to China later. Adam went to the meeting as well, but thinking that the info we gathered would be for several years down the road. Although, when he left, he was a little more ready and was ok with me beginning some research. As I began looking at other countries that we might qualify for, I never had a peace about moving forward. I just couldn’t leave our little girl without a family and adopt someone else. On May 21, our anniversary, we found out that Addison, who we adored so much, was matched with a family. I was devastated, but Adam gently reminded me that God had someone else in mind for our family. Someone even better for us. The next day, I woke up with a complete peace about moving forward with someone else and a different country. I then realized that Addison was holding me back and to get me to move forward, she had to be moved out of the equation. Funny how God often uses difficult circumstances to give you the push you need to do what you know is the right thing. We are very excited for Addison (now Emma) who will be joining her forever family in a few weeks. She is going to a wonderful family who is crazy about her and we are now on a journey that will change our family in a very big and exciting way.

To be continued. . . (of course there's more)