Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Day of Thinking......

All day I've been thinking about what to write - what could I say that could sum up my thoughts on this "anniversary" date of our official wait.

At times my thoughts are mute.  There is really nothing to think, no thoughts to process, no feelings to communicate.  It's another day. Another day that, at times I become numb to.  I decided a long time ago that I couldn't fret over this process (of course, I thought our wait would only be 12 months).  So I go on about my day and enjoy the blessings God has been so generous with to me. 

At times my thoughts are anxious.  Over and over, I think about deadlines and forms and signatures and notaries and fees (oh, the fees).  My head spins at the mounds of paperwork we have collected over these past three years (and continue to collect) and the work that each one took.  The people that were involved in completing these forms - bosses, physicians, friends - and the time they invested in making sure these documents were completed properly.  Please know my sincere gratitude for your role in this.

At times my thoughts are just my thoughts.  I wonder if we are all alone on this journey. Do people even remember we are adopting?  Do they even care?  This process has made me understand that daily people are living, struggling with battles that I have no idea about.  I hope through this I can be more discerning of people's hurts and struggles and can offer support even when they don't ask.

At times my thoughts are longing.  I long to hold that child and kiss those dark brown cheeks.  I want to smell the sweetness of the coconut oil on his or hers skin.  I want to experience the sights and smells of the land my child will be birthed in.  I want to join the circles of families that have brought their little ones home.  When I think about these things I'm giddy.

On July 12, 2011 our family stood in the FedEx store with our adoption documents all in hand.  We prayed over that stack of paperwork asking that God would find favor in our work and bless our diligence in the tasks that had been given to us through that process.  We handed the thick envelope over to the worker-asking him to guard it with his life-and left.  Exactly 10 days later we got the call that we were officially put on the waiting list for our child.  

Thinking back to that day in FedEx, I would have never dreamed we would still be waiting.  The plan I had for our family wasn't this at all. By my calculations we should have been a family of 4 for about 2 years now but that isn't the case and the void is still there. His plan for our family is different.  I don't understand it and at times I get angry and frustrated about it all but we continue to trust and we continue to pray that He find favor in us for our wait and bless our diligence in the wait.....

so many thoughts on this anniversary day..........................

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


I have wrestled with writing this post for several days now.  For about 3 weeks my mind has raced-it is filled with questions, scenarios, doubt, frustrations.....I have wept, I have hurt, I have been numb.....I have been brought to a crossroads asking "What do we do?" "Why"

For those of you that don't know the background to all of this.....
On December 29th word was received from Ethiopia that "The House of Peoples' Representatives and the Ministry of Women, Children and Youth urged stakeholders and the public to undertake integrated work to totally stop adoption of Ethiopian children by foreign families."  (Here is a link to the whole article: http://allafrica.com/stories/201312260586.html)
The groups urging this movement were to submit a formal proposal on January 16th and hopefully families here in the states going through this process would know the "fate" of their Ethiopian adoption. On 16th we were informed that no decision has been reached and there have even been rumors that the meeting hasn't even taken place yet...big surprise there that something in Ethiopia didn't stay as planned (sarcasm there).

(Brutally honest section coming.....)
My heart was and is broken.  For 3 years we have waited patiently (ok, sometimes impatiently) for the referral of a precious little boy.  We have prayed for him, his birth parents and the process.  I have fallen in love with Ethiopia - the culture, the country, but mostly the people....the beautiful people.  I hurt that I may never have the little Ethiopian boy I have longed for.  I don't understand why other families have completed their programs faster than us...I'm honestly so jealous of them....I think "when is it my turn to hold my little boy in my arms?".

During this time I have had so many emotions and questions. 
-Why did we wait so long to start this adoption process when we knew we would do it all along?
-Why did we feel called to Ethiopia only to potentially have this door shut on us forever?
-If God loves orphans (and his word clearly says he does) then why is He allowing a country that can't sustain itself, push to shut down international adoptions all together?
-Did He truly call our family to adopt...did we misinterpret this calling? But if I'm so passionate about orphans, could this calling really be a mistake?

I honestly just want to sit down with God and say "why...why are you doing this?"  I want him to show me "the big picture" once all the craziness fades.
-I struggle over the fact that so many have supported us both financially and through prayers and this will only let them down.....how do we ever re-pay what friends and family have done for us?
-Do we continue on with Ethiopia, do we start something different? Do we continue to invest in a program we don't know the future of? 
There are so many what's, if's and when's at this point? It is one of those times I need God's writing on the walls, in the sky...somewhere very visible and clear that says "do this".
(funny thing is as I just typed that, tears came to my eyes as I thought..."Nikki, all He wants you to do is trust him")

So we are at a crossroads...
-If we pull out of the program all together, before we know an answer from Ethiopia we lose all we have invested in to it.
-If continue on "seeing what happens" we have to pay for fingerprints, homestudy updates and other things to stay up to date....these are fees that if we pay them, we don't get back. (so do we continue to invest in something that is so unsure)
-Do we start another program with a different agency, have more out of pocket expenses and just see what happens?
(If the program closes all together, we have not been told by our agency what monies we might get back)
-There are other scenarios but I'm sure you are bored enough already.

So the Crossroads is before us...the "point at which a vital decision must be made."

If you feel led, would you pray for our family while we stand at this crossroads? Would you pray that God's plan for our family would be very clear to us?  Would you pray for those in Ethiopia that are pushing for this process?  Would you pray for the millions of children that will be affected by this decision if passed?

Here's the deal for me though...if they are going to close it, just close (hear me say though I don't want them to close) and let's get moving....I hate this "hanging/uncertainty" stage we are in.  I'm a doer and a fixer....I can't fix this program (believe me I would have a long time ago) but I can be doing some thing...but as long as we don't know I can't do anything.

We need clarity more than ever right now.  To be honest to start the process all over again, the paperwork, the home visits, the background checks - it all makes me nauseous, but the idea of not adopting a child makes me feel even sicker.

"This is what the Lord says 'Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is and walk in it and you will find rest for your souls...'" Jeremiah 6:16

Friday, November 1, 2013

It’s November which means it is National Adoption/Orphan Awareness Month.  It also means that three years ago we began a journey that should have taken 6-9 months.  36 months later and the journey has not ended and I don’t think it is even close to being over.  In the last 36 months, jobs have changed, we’ve aged, our daughter is older, friendships have grown.  The past several months have been some of the toughest months of my life yet some of the most rewarding.  I have hurt and cried with others, I have cried alone, I have smiled and bellied laughed.  We’ve walked alongside other families beginning the adoption process and bringing their children and we’ve also seen the heartbreak that comes through this trying process.  We have traveled, gone to concerts and honestly have become very comfortable as a family of 3.  Life is “easy” and for the most part very routine and I like it.  However one thing has not changed – my heart still longs for a little boy that I don’t have or even know  yet.  A little boy that may not have been born  or a little boy that is lying in an orphanage bed longing to be held and loved.  Either way, I don’t have my son and my heart hurts for him. 

Over these months, I have questioned God’s call on our family.  Did I misinterpret His will for our family? Did He really call us to do this or is this just a passion and desire of my heart?  Am I being selfish and prideful to the call?  Why is it so hard for me to see others with the children they have adopted? Why does this process have to been so difficult and trying? If scripture tells us to care for the orphans, to seek justice and love mercy, that He will not leave them as orphans, then why on earth is this process so hard?  If He really cares, can’t He somehow change this stupid system we have?  I get angry at this process while my heart breaks for the children. WHY?????  That’s all want to ask and all I want know! I want to throw in the towel and say I’m done-I can’t do this anymore. 

A few weeks ago when I was having “a moment” and really asking these questions God reminded me that this journey isn’t about me. It’s not even about our family or the child we are adopting.  It is about being obedient to the call He has placed on our family.  It is about being faithful and TRUSTING His timing and will are perfect.  It is about Christ loving me so much that HE adopted me through the cross and calls me HIS child!  He loves me, He cares for me, HE died for me and if I truly believe those things then surely He will lead us and be faithful to us.   This life we live day in and day – we make it pretty comfortable.  We like the routine we have with our families- whether that is a family of 1 or 12.  We like life being easy.  But y’all being a follower of Christ was never promised to be easy and routine.  Being content with the easy life is a dangerous place to be.  I love the comfortable. I love the routine. I love the easy. But you know, I love my God and I don’t want to be in those places if He isn’t there. 

So this month as we start year 3 of waiting for our child I challenge you to look at your own life.  Are you too comfortable?  Is life just routine and easy? 

Did you know there are anywhere between 141-153 million orphans worldwide?
Did you know there are close to 400,000 kids in the foster care system in the US alone?
Did you know close to 30,000 children in the US age out of the system?
Did you know you don’t have to be a perfect person to be a perfect parent?

 If you are living and breathing you can help!  Yes, the numbers are daunting but to one you make a difference and that is the point!

You can adopt (don’t let finances be an issue). You can foster. You can Sponsor.

Just don’t let this month go by and not do anything.  Don’t be caught up in this game of life and being content and comfortable with what you have and how you are living – that is not what this life is about.  One of my biggest fears in life, is that I’ll get to be 80 years old, I’ll look back on my life and say man I missed it.  I could’ve made a bigger impact for Him, I could’ve done more but I missed out. 

I don’t want to live life like that….I want to get to the end of this life and say I did all could for the kingdom.

So if this journey we are on takes 36 more days or 36 more months, it is the journey He has called us to.  He is walking right beside us through this journey and will not leave us.  His timing is perfect and so is His will.  “He know the plans” for our family and I am good with that. 

In closing I want to share a verse with you.  A sweet dear friend sent this to me on one of my dark days and I am forever grateful.  She had no idea that on this particular day I needed exactly what she sent me.  I am grateful that she was sensitive to the Spirit’s leading to share this with me.

*M.S. I love you and will forever remember this verse and your ray of sunshine on one of my dark days.

“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit you way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.  Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.” Psalm 37:3-7

If you would like to be a part of our adoption journey and can help support it financially, please go to https://www.purecharity.com/castlesadoption
Thank you for loving, supporting and praying for us over the last 36 months.  Please continue as the Lord leads you.

Monday, July 8, 2013

A Little Help from Our Friends

Hi Friends.  We have set up a fundraiser for our adoption through Pure Charity.  Please click on the link to find out more and how you can help.

As always, we are humbled by you being on this journey with us and ask if you can't help financially that you will lift us with your prayers.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

the wait just continues....

Tenth Avenue North has a song out right now called Worn...here are the first few verses:
I'm tired
I'm worn
My heart is heavy
From the work it takes to keep on breathing

I've made mistakes
I've let my hope fail
My soul feels crushed
By the weight of this world
And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

This is the way my heart feels right now with this whole adoption journey.  I am tired.  I am tired of processes changing.  I am tired of filling out paperwork.  I am tired of renewing fingerprints, home-studies and forms.....I'm just tired of it. 

In the last few weeks, my heart has gone from excitement and anticipation to questioning God's call on our family to pursue adoption.  (Let me pause here and say many families have been through much worse and I even feel guilty complaining, but my heart still hurts for the child we long to have) I have seen families that started their process long after we did get referral and even bring children home all while we still wait (again here my heart say I rejoice with these families and for the children they are receiving) 

About three weeks ago, after studying the referral chart and estimating referral times, I thought that maybe by September we would at least have a referral.  Court times had been moving at a decent pace and referrals were happening.  Then this past week everything changed.  
Here is a basic breakdown of the new changes and how it affects wait times.
Current: 8-14 weeks between Referral Acceptance and traveling for court: under PAIR the time frames will likely be 16-26 weeks
Current: 4-6 months between Referral Acceptance and coming home:under PAIR the time frames will likely be 8-10 months.
 Plus court will close for holiday early August and will re-open around October.

So what does this mean for us????? Well, it looks like yet another year of waiting.......

As I was reading scripture the other day about waiting, I came across the book of Habukkak.  To be real honest, I have no idea what is going on in the book except it is a book of prophesy for  the destruction of Judea and Jerusalem for the sins of the people.  Sounds pretty depressing to me.  Until I read 2:1-4. 
I especially love verses 3 and 4 which say "For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false.  Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.  See, he is puffed up his desires are not upright-but the righteous will live by his faith."

In Matthew Henry's commentary (which I read in trying to understand this book) he says "God will not disappoint the believing expectations of those who wait to hear what he will say unto them. All are concerned in the truths of God's word. Though the promised favour be deferred long, it will come at last, and abundantly recompense us for waiting. The humble, broken-hearted, repenting sinner, alone seeks to obtain an interest in this salvation. He will rest his soul on the promise, and on Christ, in and through whom it is given. Thus he walks and works, as well as lives by faith, perseveres to the end, and is exalted to glory; while those who distrust or despise God's all-sufficiency will not walk uprightly with him. The just shall live by faith in these precious promises, while the performance of them is deferred. Only those made just by faith, shall live, shall be happy here and for ever."

Did you see that?.... "Though the promised favour be deferred long it will come at last"....it is going to come y'all....it will come!  God called us to this - this adoption journey - he has ordained the season in which our family will become a family of 4 - he will orchestrate the heart of the mother who will carry our child - HE is in control of it all and He will not delay.  

I don't understand God's timing or his will for the wait (even though I've read an article entitled  "God's Will for the Wait" but I still have faith and will continue to trust.  My prayer is He finds us faithful - faithful to the call He has placed on our family - faithful to the wait -faithful to the work that is still before us.

Thank you for being on this journey with us.  Please continue to pray for our family as you remember during this waiting time.

Monday, October 15, 2012

It's Been a While

It has been a while since I last posted and for that I apologize.  Before you continue reading, please know that is not going to be "spiritually correct" or uplifting or anything else - today's post will truly be my heart speaking as I write.  

So I am sure your first question is "how is the adoption going and where are you in the process?".   This is a very valid question and the main reason why I am just now posting.  In one simple word the adoption is SLOW.  Two years ago when we started this journey, we thought the wait time for a referral would be approx. 8 months give or take a month or two.  We honestly thought be Christmas 2011 we would have a baby home and by now life would be moving along.  As you know around July 2011, Ethiopia slammed the brakes on processing adoptions.  They went from processing 100/daily to 3-5/day - a drastic change.  To say we were disappointed is an under statement but we always have trusted in God's timing.   As time progressed we became less proactive in our fundraising and planning.  We daily pray for our child, but we couldn't dwell on the wait - regardless of how frustrating it was or is.

Fast forward to July 2012, and we have officially been waiting a year for our baby.  Thankfully during this time, our family was in Costa Rica for a mission trip working with a church plant there.  This was a wonderful growing time for our family and I am thankful we were there when this "anniversary" came around.  

So here we are today.  We met with our Social Worker today (whom we love) to update our homestudy.  You see after so many months your fingerprints and homestudy have to be updated before they expire.  It was a wonderful meeting and we enjoyed seeing our social worker again, but the meeting came with more discouraging news - wait times for referrals are being increased again.....more waiting!  To say this came to us as a low blow is an understatement once again.  In my own mind I was hopeful for a referral by May 2013 (based on the referrals happening now).  However, due to the longer wait times, it could be July 2013 or later before we hear anything.  

I left our meeting angry and upset.  I am angry that we started the process as late as we did - why didn't we start this years ago since we have always know we were going to adopt?  I am angry and confused because daily I am told and read there are 147 Million orphans in the world, yet we are having to wait 2+ years to have a baby home? I am jealous of other families, adopting from other countries, that have not waited as long as us, that are receiving referrals and soon to be bringing babies home.  I question, did God really call our family to adopt?  These are real feelings and questions that I am dealing with (and I am sure other adoptive families do as well).  

This journey of adoption I knew would never be easy but as a mom of one who desires to mother more children, the wait becomes painful.  This is something I have wanted my whole life and the timing is out of my control so to sit and wait is so hard.  

As I sit here and write this tonight, my heart is still heavy.  I can't wait to receive the call that we have the referral.  I long for the moment that Jonathan, Izzie and I open the email together to see our baby for the very first time.  I live for the day I can wrap my arms around that baby and kiss its forehead.....these are the moments I long for.  But what I long for the most is for the ONE child God has for us.  The one perfect child that only He selected for us even before time began.  The one He knew would be perfect for us and that somehow we would be perfect for.  

Please pray for us as we continue to wait and seek God' plan for our family.  Pray that we will discern God's will for our family as we continue on this adoption journey.  We love each of you and thank you for being on this journey with us - through the highs and the lows.

Here are a few pictures from the past few months just to catch you up on our life:

Mission Trip to Costa Rica

Izzie starts Kindergarten

Izzie turns 6

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

"One of the greatest strains in life is the strain of waiting on God" Oswald Chambers

Happy New Year! - I guess it is better late than never huh?  I can't believe we are already into the middle of February.  I hope this year so far has been kind to each one of you.

I haven't posted in a while simply because there hasn't been too much to talk about.  Things with the adoption and with life haven't changed and we are still just waiting - waiting on a referral, waiting on our house to sell, waiting on clarity for God's plan for our family.  To be completely honest, I hate to wait.  I like to be in control of situations in my life and with the things going in our family and currently I have no control.  I have no control of the government in Ethiopia, no control over the housing market and frankly no control of God's plan for our family.  If anything God is teaching me personally to stop trying to be in control.

I read an article not too long ago called "God's Will for Your Wait" by Paul Tripp  To say the timing of this article was perfect is a complete understatement.  Tripp points out 5 ways to look at the wait as God doing something rather than a struggle against the wait.

1)Remind yourself that your not alone.  Think about all the people that had to wait years in the bible.  Think about the hundreds of families that are waiting for a child just like we are - we are not alone in this. Waiting is a part of God's plan
2)Realize that the wait is active.  "To be called to wait is to be called to the activity of worship: worshiping God for his presence, wisdom, power, love, and grace. To be called to wait is to be called to the activity of serving: looking for ways to lovingly assist and encourage others who are also being called to wait. To be called to wait is to be called to the activity of praying: confessing the struggles of my heart and seeking the grace of the God who has called me to wait. We must rethink waiting and remind ourselves that waiting is itself a call to action."
3)Let waiting strengthen your faith.  There are three ways your faith can be strengthened through waiting a) by spending time in the Word, b) opening your heart to God for Him to reveal sin, weaknesses and even the struggles of your wait, c)recongize the opportunity to know others better on the same journey as you.
4)Count your blessings.  Instead of reminding yourself what you don't  have, focus on the blessings that you do have.
5)Long for Eternity.  God intends for us to long for home our eternal home.

After reading this article I realized how selfish I am with this whole waiting thing and to be honest I am still selfish with it. There is nothing I want more to bring my baby home - but I want the baby God has for us.  I remind myself daily that had it not been for the wait thus far, I would not have the baby God wants me to have one day.  These challenges, hiccups, bridges or whatever you want to call it, are, in my mind, designed to help in the timing of the perfect little baby God has for us - when I remember this I don't mind the wait.

So we wait.......and will continue to wait until the day our family is complete.......

Until then please pray for us in the following ways:
-that we would use this wait to grow in our relationship with Christ.  That HE would reveal sin, weaknesses and struggles we have in our hearts.
-for clarity as Jonathan and I make other decisions concerning our growing family
-that our home would sell

Thanks for being on this journey with us.