Monthly Archives: July 2015

Hope

Last week we were matched with a precious little girl.  We were elated to say “yes” and to announce we had found our daughter.

Just a few short days later, we found out additional information about the child we thought was ours and had to make a horrible decision.  She wouldn’t be coming home with us.

Immediately, our agency asked to send us another referral.  Literally through my tears I listened as our case worker described this second little girl while I tried to process the loss of the child I had imagined as my own.

I couldn’t think about another child yet.  Processing my grief was enough.  I had pictured this child in our family.  I had to mourn for her, to cry for her future, we had to tell the big sister and big brother that she wasn’t going to come home and be ours.

Around Tuesday evening, we began to be able to turn our attention to this new little girl, this new referral we had been sent.  I think I could accurately say that both Russ and I felt numb.  It was not the desperate excitement and instant love we felt before.  It felt natural at this point to stay guarded.

This time felt scarier, riskier.  The reality is – it’s not.  The practical risks remain the same.  Our hearts, however, know the pain of loss in this situation now.  I could see both of us keeping walls up, not wanting to get attached to her.

We agreed to look into the file.  To be prayerful and talk to doctors.  This time looked so much different.  We didn’t let ourselves fall in love, we didn’t tell many people, we didn’t even tell our kids, we talked to multiple doctors.  We avoided looking at her picture much for a few days.  It felt so much harder for me to figure out how to make this decision a second time, while Russ seemed to gain confidence and clarity by what we went through.

On Wednesday we spoke to a doctor.  The report was overwhelmingly positive.

And still…fear.

We decided to ask for a recent video showing her development.  We wanted to feel as safe as we could.  We asked on Wednesday.  We prayed that evening that we would receive a current video by Friday morning.  We knew there was a possibility we may not be able to obtain this.  We had another appointment with an International Adoption doctor set up for 10:00am on Friday morning.

I began to realize on Wednesday that my confidence in my ability to hear God had been shaken.  I was scared to make a decision again that would ultimately hurt me.  I was looking to feel as safe as possible with this referral, as if I could eliminate any future pain by doing so.  As I processed through this, I found the Lord taking me back to the idea of hope over and over again.

Psalm 62:5-6 says “My soul quietly waits for the True God alone because I hope only in Him.  He alone is my rock and deliverance, my citadel high on a hill, I will not be shaken.”

I began to realize that although I felt shaky, I was not shaken.  He still had me.

On Thursday morning our case worker called.  She had received all the videos taken the previous weekend and had started to send them to me.  In total, we received 9 videos of her on Thursday from only days before.  Videos showing an adorable, strong, delightful little girl.

We cannot eliminate all the fears.  And God never told us obedience wouldn’t be terrifying.  If I didn’t know that before, I certainly do now.  Over and over this week, however, we were led back to Hebrews 6:19 – “we have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”  Our confident expectation in who He is and what He promises allows us to face our fears.  It allows us to make the choice to be vulnerable to get hurt again, because we trust the One who carries us through even when it hurts.

Because although facing pain and loss is scary, He himself is our hope.

And so, we said yes again.

We don’t fully understand the events of the past week.  We may never fully understand them. Our hope, however, doesn’t rest in our circumstances.  Our hope rests in the God who writes our stories, who lines out our steps, and who lifts our chins when life feels overwhelmingly hard.

And who redeems those desperately sad moments.

And so with so much joy, we introduce our daughter, Elliott Hope King. 

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This girl also has quite a story.

We asked God in the beginning of this journey to be clear, to bring us THE child that He intended for us.  We know that journey could have gone many different ways, and to be honest, we didn’t expect the heartache along the way.

But God gets all the glory for bringing this girl to us.

While we were saying “yes” last week to a little girl who would not ultimately be ours, two other families were saying “no” to this girl.  For no tangible reason.

Except that we can only assume she was meant to be ours.

There was one thing that never made sense to me about our initial referral.  When we were in the midst of deciding to adopt, someone we trust spoke some words to us in confirmation.  The short version of that statement is that our child already loves music, which is a heart connection for our whole family.

There was nothing in our initial referral about music.  I looked up her name, I scoured the video.  I wanted it to fit.  I ultimately reasoned that we may not know that part until we actually meet her.  Or maybe it was the human element to prophecy and it was just not accurate.

When I was on the phone on Monday, in the very midst of my sadness, trying to process what our case worker was saying to us, she listed off a few facts about this new baby. “One year old, born 2013, loves music.”

Loves music.

Our girl.

Thank you, Jesus.

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Grieving

Last week was fun and scary and overwhelming.

On Friday morning we left for vacation for several days with my family.  That morning, before we left, I posted the blog I had written about being matched.  We had covered our bases – met with an International Adoption doctor, prayed, felt peace about moving forward.  We drove the several hour drive on Friday to the vacation house feeling relieved, soaking up the encouraging words from our community on social media, and enjoyed being away with family for a few days.

At some point in the weekend, I remarked to Russ that even though I felt so loved on by people via Facebook, the blog, and Instagram, I still questioned if I was supposed to share her picture online.  Not for any particular reason, it just felt like another moment I was being highly vulnerable.  As I have gotten older, I have become more introverted, more private.  Although I have loved writing and sharing about our journey, it has also felt uncomfortable for me at many points.  As I questioned the wisdom of of continuing to share openly, I felt God take me back to the beginning.  When we started this, I felt Him tell me to be vulnerable.  To live this out loud.  To be willing to say the good parts, the hard parts, the scary parts, the amazingly beautiful parts of the adoption process.  And to trust that He would use that vulnerability for His glory and to bring awareness to the great needs of orphans in the world.

We had a great weekend with our family.  As we were packing up on Monday morning to leave the vacation house. our case worker called.  I knew in her voice that something was wrong.

The agency’s in-country guy, Richard, had gone to the orphanage over the weekend.  There had been significant changes in our little girl since his last visit.  After years of experience in working with orphans, working with adoptive families, and advocating for orphans, Richard is a valued, trusted opinion in the life of our agency.  He knows the kids, knows what life in an orphanage is like, and works hard for the betterment of these kids.

He came back from the weekend visit and indicated to the head of the agency that in the time since his visit in April, she seems to have become severely autistic.  Richard forwarded some pictures and videos on to the agency, some of which we have seen, indicating the change in her demeanor.  The change was fairly drastic.  We also confirmed that some behaviors we had question marks about in the original video we saw of her were likely related to autism.

Our agency recommended we give up that match immediately.

To say that we were heartbroken is an understatement.  But also significantly confused.  Why would God allow us to walk down this road to this child only to stop us at this moment?  Is this a test of our faith?  What kind of people give up a child in this way?

We weren’t quite ready at that moment to say that we were walking away.

We prayed, we talked and processed, we cried and grieved.  And then my brave husband did the thing he’s supposed to do – he acted as the gatekeeper for our family.  He spoke the words that we both struggled to and acknowledged that as hard as it is to say no, we aren’t prepared to take this on.  In all of our decision-making in this process, we have had to walk a line between meeting the needs of a new child and making sure we are doing what is right for Campbell and Bennett.

We aren’t equipped to take on this need.  What a hard, horrible thing to say.  But we also don’t know if it is kindness to take this child into our family, knowing that we don’t feel called to parent a child with this need.

One part of our decision is that we had to know what will come of her, a question I think naturally arises at this point.

Little “Rosie” (the name our agency had given her) will likely be given further medical evaluation to figure out exactly what is going on.  They will be able to more specifically match her with a family that is equipped for her specific needs.  She is part of an orphanage partnership with our agency, which means they have more control over what happens next.  There is a chance that she will not be adopted out, however, as is the chance with all kiddos in orphanages.  Our agency talked with us about how difficult her adjustment would be – she is not engaging or attaching – and that her life may be much better to leave her where she is.  As a person with more severe needs, she would be given life-long treatment.

As for us, we are grieving.  We had begun to imagine this little girl in our family.  That doesn’t just disappear.  We are allowing ourselves space to be sad, to work through our confusion, and to heal.

Our agency has sent us another file.  Because of the circumstances, it was not a huge beautiful moment.  This file contains very little information and we are gun shy – we need a little more information in order to feel like we can make an honest decision.  Our agency is attempting to get us more information about this little girl.  If that’s not possible, we will likely go back to waiting.

Here is one thing we do know, without doubt.  We do not walk an aimless road here.  This has been twisting, a little roller-coastery, different than we expected, but isn’t that true of all of life?  Psalm 37:23 says “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way.”  We do not understand all of this.  But we walk it out with hope.  Hope that God has gone ahead of us.  Hope that we will walk through the front door of our house in the coming months with the child HE intends to bring into our family.  Hope that little Rosie will get the family she is supposed to.  Hope that we will someday get to see the “why” behind all of this hard stuff.  Hope that God will keep being enough to guide our decisions and to comfort us in the painful and scary moments of this process.

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Elliott Rend King

There are days you remember forever and ever.  I’ll always remember the days I found out I was pregnant with Campbell and Bennett.  I’ll remember vividly the days they were born.  The day I married my love.  The day I gave my life to the Lord.  There are other days scattered throughout my life, some happy, some sad, that stand out as significant to me.

There are lots of days in this adoption process that have been marker days.  The day I heard confirmation from God that we were supposed to move forward, the morning I woke up and our remaining funding had been fully paid anonymously, the day of our beautiful garage sale experience.

On Tuesday, July 21st, I woke up and did normal things.  Drank coffee, prayed, doled out snacks, got ready for the day.  We were waiting for a match, to see our daughter’s face for the first time.  We had been waiting for 13 days at that point, but we fully expected to wait longer.  I didn’t think this was going to be one of my days.

Our agency had been waiting for a batch of files to come in for several weeks.  These were files from a new orphanage partnership.  I had been told previously by my case worker at the agency that there was a small chance we would be matched in this group of files, but there was also a significant chance that those ahead of us waiting would be matched and we would move up to the front of the list.

As I finished sipping coffee that Tuesday morning, I logged onto Facebook.  The head of the agency had posted in the Facebook group that the awaited files had come in.  If you were waiting to be matched, you might be hearing from them, she said.

I called Russ to tell him what I had seen.  We acknowledged again that God’s timing is perfect.  Maybe today was our day, or maybe not.  Either way, He is faithful and we are believing we will see her face and we will get her at just the right time.

I drove Campbell to VBS, the whole time trying to keep my thoughts in a good place.  I anticipated that it was going to be a long day of trying to keep myself sane.  I envisioned myself going to sleep that night without getting a phone call.  Trying to weigh hope and fear and keep my expectations in check.

As I was checking her in to her VBS class, I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket.  I pulled it out and looked down.

Delaware number.

I knew.

I answered the phone and the excited voice of my case worker was on the other end.  She had the file of a little girl she wanted to send us!  She told me a little about her – age, medical status.  She hadn’t looked at her picture yet and she opened it while we were talking on the phone and screamed out loud “AAAAGGHHHH, she’s so cute!”

We hung up, I called Russ.  I told him what I knew and he said he’d meet me at home so we could open the email together.

One of the beautiful things about this point in the day was that my dear friend, Sue, was dropping her girl off at VBS at the same time.  She witnessed me getting the call, then snapped some pictures and a video of me calling Russ to tell him.

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Russ and I met at home, opened the email and sat in silence for a little while.  How do you know?  When your babies are born, they are undeniably yours.  How do you know that the email someone has sent you is your child?

The reality is, you spend months covering it with prayer and you beg God to be clear and you ask for peace.

We sat in silence for a few moments.  Then Russ said “That is my daughter.”  I felt so overwhelmingly grateful for him.  He knew.  While I was up in my head trying to figure out how you even know, he knew he had asked God to speak clearly and give peace and he had that.

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seeing her for the first time!

And WOW!  Our caseworker was not joking.  She is adorable.

Tuesday was a whirlwind of looking at her pictures and video, telling some people, making a doctor appointment to review her file, and trying to let it all sink in.  It all felt like a blur, sort of surreal.

I woke up Wednesday morning and everything felt different.  I felt like the mom of three kids.  Two blue-eyed cuties asleep in their rooms and one spunky two-year old little girl across the world.

Yesterday we met with a doctor at the International Adoption Clinic at Texas Children’s.  We would be hard-pressed to not say yes.  We knew on Tuesday that she was ours, but we wanted to know everything the doctor had to say and proceed with wisdom.

The reality is, she is tiny and has catching up to do, but she is perfect.  We feel confident that with the love of a family, she will thrive.

We have OFFICIALLY said yes.  We submitted paperwork yesterday to make her ours.  We are hoping to travel potentially in November.  Let the real waiting begin!

So without further ado.  Meet our daughter, Elliott King.

IMG_1403IMG_1425“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”

Officially waiting to be matched

On Wednesday, July 8th, we received the news from our agency that we were officially LID.  We are waiting to be matched!

Let’s back up a bit.

On June 22nd, our I-800a was approved by US Immigration.  We received it in the mail on the 24th after waiting for 40 days.  I was just a little excited.

IMG_1155 The next day, the 25th, my mom and I drove the approval to Austin to be certified by the Secretary of State, then back into Houston to drop it off at the Chinese Consulate.  It was a fun day & great one-on-one time with my mama!

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On Tuesday, June 30th, the kids and I picked up our final document from the Consulate and overnighted it to our adoption agency.

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The next day, July 1st, our agency sent all of our paperwork to China.  After months of collecting documents, notarizing, certifying, and authenticating, we were finally DTC (Dossier to China).

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Once the documents are mailed to China, they must arrive there and get logged-in the Chinese system.  This can take anywhere from a few days to almost a month.  Our agency had warned us that the log-in (LID) process had been moving sort of slowly lately and that was sort of an unknown.

I emailed our caseworker on Wednesday July 8th.  Mostly I just wanted to make sure everything made it to China fine.  I was SHOCKED when she wrote back that we were LID that morning!

That means that we are officially waiting to be matched with our Elliott.  We know that it could be anywhere from today to several months, which is somewhat excruciating.  Talk about a lesson in patience, trusting God, and believing that we will be matched with OUR child at just the right moment.

When the time comes, our agency will call us and tell us they have a referral for us.  They will tell us brief information (age, medical info) and ask if we want to look at the complete file, which they will then email to us.  The complete file will include all known history, medical reports, and pictures/videos.

We have prayed specifically that God would be gracious enough to allow the first file to be the one.  We have also prayed that we would hear Him clearly.  That we would not get wrapped up in the emotions of those moments, but that our hearts would want HIS plan for our family more than anything.  We are grateful for your prayers as we approach this monumental point in the adoption process!