Monday, September 24, 2012

The Opple Archard and A Fuh-size

All day long I've been getting my words all tangled. This morning I was trying to explain how I was related to someone and I said, "my husband is married to his brother." What?!?! I corrected it but the tongue-twisting has continued. Tonight I was talking again and said, "Yes, like Moah and Noses." Everyone laughed. I tell that because this blog post isn't looking much better. I've had to rewrite this paragraph twice. So bare with me and I'll mainly stick to pictures.

We had a great time with Mom and Dad with the highlight being a first-time trip apple picking. It has to become an annual tradition because it was so good. We found a treasure apple orchard and Dad treated us to oodles of apples, fresh apple cider and apple cider donuts. I'm not a donut fan but these came highly recommended and were amazing!

There are finally pictures to share after friends enjoyed a mountain trip today and picked up our camera from the restaurant where I left it last week. Twisting words and forgetting stuff. I've been on a roll lately.

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This is a favorite. I tried to crop myself in but you could totally tell...

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Jason modeled fun for his boy

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There were loads of apples. Our new favorite are jonigolds. Kind of like fujis in crispness and galas in sweetness. 

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Golden delicious. We picked a bushel full of these!

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This place had a petting zoo...

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...and bamboo forest to walk through!

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And, just to prove I was there.

To top off the whole trip, on the way down the mountain a black bear ran across the road in front of us. I missed it but everyone else, including Levi, saw it. He still talks about it a lot alternating only between the bear story and stories of the moose his nana must be seeing as she and his papa are out visiting Montana. While Mimi and Papa sadly had to leave us Friday, rumor has it that when Nana and Papa return tomorrow a tiny, stuffed moose will be making its way to our house. Levi only knows another surprise is coming. He's been saying, "Fuh-size! Nana bing a fuh-size." The boy speaks my language. 

After today, I totally get fuh-sizes. 




Monday, September 17, 2012

Surprises

A surprise came to us today. Not a referral...but something wonderful. We reviewed the day and all we'd do before the surprise came. We had the schedule packed so we only had about five minutes of sitting, waiting and watching.

And then began the wait....

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wait for it...

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wait for it....

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Surprise!!

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Mimi and Papa are here...

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...and we are so, so happy!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Choosing Trust

Our pictures and all of our information made their way out of America, across the ocean and into the hands of the workers at our orphanage. Whew, that feels miraculous. We were just holding them, praying, one week ago.

There is excitement and uncertainty and a host of other emotions. It's fun to share the updates most of the time. When we started sharing in 2010 it was as a step of faith declaring we believed what God was showing and speaking. Lately, {let's be real honest} it's been a struggle to continue to share. The whole orphanage assignment far away from Kolkata has led to lots of speechlessness and prayer for both of us. We are blessed beyond measure with the incredible orphanage our daughter is in. Please don't read this wrong. We are so, so thankful and blown away by the connection that our friend worked there. But my heart, in particular, is still un-attaching from Kolkata, "the arm-pit" of India, where life for girls is extremely rough and where there seemed to be so much purpose in adopting an older child. His ways are not our ways. And a little girl without a family in Karnataka is as much in need as a little girl without one in Kolkata. We're having to surrender what we expected in exchange for what he sees best to give. It means walking by faith and seeking him for what to do with a vision thought to be from him.

In this happy time of seeing rapid progress in our adoption, this has been our point of struggle. A friend of mine calls this time of expectation before the end result being in the waiting roomThat applies. Being anxious to know every detail of what's going on behind the hospital doors, wondering how long you'll have to sit and wait, worrying whether everything is okay, feeling your life is on hold until you know the outcome. 

But even this time in the waiting room far away from Kolkata comes with opportunity cost. One option involves time-passing, pacing and worrying while the other involves settling in, earnest prayer and trusting. The opportunity presented to us in waiting is a chance to choose trust. We get the beautiful opportunity of choosing to lean into God in absolute faith. In the closeness that results there is safety in asking hard questions and letting him hold you until the doors open and everything is known. When you see her face and know if she is the daughter who has been promised. 

These are the things we're waiting for, stumbling over words about. We are doing our very best in this exciting time-- to calculate the costs, to enjoy every day with each other as three, to pray she makes it safely to the orphanage, to ask that she is greatly cared for and to daily choose trust when we don't quite understand or see the whole picture. 

We wait in hope for the Lord;
    he is our help and our shield.
21 In him our hearts rejoice,
    for we trust in his holy name.
22 May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord,
    even as we put our hope in you.  

Psalm 33:20-22

May that be totally true of us in this exciting and uncertain time.

Monday, September 10, 2012

What Matters Most

It was a wonderful, relaxing weekend full of lawn mowing, football games, soccer games and lots and lots of talk about India. 



First was pancakes with friends planning to travel to India next summer.



Then, a Team India reunion.









Also, this weekend I had the chance to revisit a friend's blog. She has spent time in India and her words challenged me so much. The challenge was ringing in my ears last night so, I wanted to pass it along. Read it for yourself and see if it isn't so for you as well. 


Isaiah 58:10 says, “…spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed.”  Many people I have met have told me they would like to adopt or go on a mission trip but can’t afford it or don’t have the time.  Of course there are other things one could be doing with one's time and money.  Fun things, and even needful things.  But it says “spend yourselves”.  The Amplified Bible renders this “…pour out that with which you sustain your own life…” 
God is asking us to sacrifice; to give up a bit of the all-American dream for the hungry and oppressed.  I have been humbled here to see what is really necessary for life, it's not much.  Several months ago Gabi asked, “Why does everyone else have nice furniture?”  “They have furniture, you have siblings,” I answered, “One is earthly, the other’s eternal.”  Shortly after this we were blessed with some like-new furniture from someone who sold their beach house.  God doesn’t disregard our desires.  We don’t all have to live like monks on bread and water.  He does tell us, however, to store up our treasures in heaven.  Before writing off making a bold move, like adopting or taking a trip to volunteer in a far away land, consider the blessings God has given you.  Consider the sacrifices you may be able to make.  And consider where you want your treasures to be.


I could stop right there with that. It could use some mulling over. But I will give one quick adoption update before I do. This week, by week's end, our paperwork should be in the hands of orphanage workers. The more we've found out about this place, the more grateful and awed we are. Our daughter is (or will be) in a good, good place where she is being given incredible care. How could a mom and dad ask for more? She hears Bible stories daily, is learning the love of a family through a foster program and gets routine medical check-ups. We are beyond grateful and very excited for the workers to have our pictures and packet. And soon enough, the six photo pages and beaucoups of papers I handed to the UPS worker will be in Karnataka where big things will happen! It's just a matter of time! :) 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Hip, Hip Hooray, Goodbye Doh-see-ay

Are we really already at the point that we have an orphanage and we're sending all of our paperwork to Indian officials? It's so hard to believe. Of the six "simple" steps in adopting from India, we are here:

Choose an Adoption Service Provider 
{Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt} 
Be Matched with a Child
Apply for the child to be found Eligible for Adoption
Adopt the Child (or Gain Legal Custody) in India
Bring Your Child Home

The dossier (doh-see-ay) is a specific group of documents (16 in our case) that all have to be notarized and then apostilled (app-o-steeled). And while apostilling sounds fancy, it's simply the Secretary of State's office stamping each document to say that, indeed, the notary is a legitimate person authorized to vouch for signatures and official documents. We had all of ours certified yesterday without a hitch. I floated out of the building overwhelmingly grateful for American systems that are dependable and speedy!



Today I made 360 copies and glued pictures of our family and house. Levi is so glad it's all done and Jason and I are too. Here's what's headed to India:

Birth certificates, marriage certificate, passport copies, physician's letters, financial forms, tax returns, a bank statement, employer letter, three references, home study, police clearance, family photos and a big, fat check

We still lack our clearance from Immigration but are told we'll send the other information to get our orphanage started working and then follow up with our clearance letter. Just yesterday we went for fingerprints.

{Enter funny purse story}



As with many government buildings, we were greeted by security guards and asked to step through metal detectors. Levi didn't know he was creating a security hazard when he ran through the detector without being asked. After we got him back in arms, we shoved all of our stuff into those beloved grey bins and each took turns making sure we weren't a treat to the lady who would roll our fingers across glass. We were deemed safe but my purse raised questions. If you looked in my purse you'd know why. As the security officer pulled open my bag I chuckled to myself because I knew what he was getting into. He rummaged through crayons, wart pads and other muck. About 30 seconds in he mumbled, "It was the book" and wiped his hand off as he handed back my purse. The book, my Bible, apparently caused suspicion. I understand it's a weapon and threatening to many, but Jason and I laughed in the car because we knew the truth. The officer had to pick some object, any object, to give him a reason to get his hand out of that rat's nest. The Bible just happened to be the biggest object, we guessed. :)

So tonight here's what's next. First, we wait for word that our agency approved everything and then that our orphanage has received it. 

Cue the fireworks and feet propping....and grant applications and yard sale prep. 

Our pictures and every detail of our lives are India bound! Hip, hip hooray!









Walking by Faith in an Orphanage Match

I was at a consignment sale a year ago and just before I left I found a little picture book about India. It quickly became a treasure and the very first thing I bought for our daughter. The book starts like this:
In a little city in the heart of India there was a big park called the Lal Bagh...
Yesterday, we found out that in this city with the big park and cute fictitious sheep a little girl is waiting to become a Tegen. We have been matched with an orphanage in the state of Karnataka.

Grateful, shocked and processing are words to describe us yesterday and today. We are one step closer to our daughter, but we will not be traveling to Kolkata like we thought. As best we understand, she is far, far away from the place I visited in May. We should be honest and say we are surprised and going through a bit of mourning over what we thought would be. But with every paper we've sent our prayers that God would direct our journey. And, we trust him in this new, unexpected twist. We are thankful. As it's turning out, our new orphanage is somewhere quite incredible even if it's not close to Kolkata.

Some time back I worked with a friend who adopted from India. She was the one who told us last August that India had changed their whole adoption system and this summer traveled with her family to India for an internship. When Team India and I were on our way back from Kolkata on new tickets, we ran into her family in the German airport. They were heading over for their summer serving at an orphanage and we got to pray for them as our paths crossed going to and from India. 

Yesterday, I discovered that this sweet family spent their entire summer not at just any of the hundreds of orphanages in India but at OUR DAUGHTER'S ORPHANAGE. Out of all of the places they could have worked, their love was quite possibly poured out on our daughter and her friends.

How thankful we are to know that this family was there and that it is a place where Christians are overseeing the children's care. And, what a gift that our daughter should be familiar with foreigners visiting often and even speaking in southern accents. :) That truly encourages my heart.

As you can imagine, this assignment and the news that our dossier should be sent to India as soon as possible has caused a scramble to get our documents in the mail. We spent the majority of the day today working on it. Tomorrow I hope to show you a big accomplishment and give a good glimpse into what's involved in adopting internationally. There'll even be a funny purse story thrown in the mix.

Jason and I both thank you for any whispered prayers for us as we continue to surrender all of this new, unexpected information and for preparations in sending everything to Virginia. 

Looking forward to sharing pictures, stories and big accomplishments tomorrow!