On Monday, December 5th we found out that our agency had received the files of 44 children. We waited with anticipation to see if our son would be in that group, if we would get a call, and if our waiting would be over. It was a hard reality to learn that we were not done waiting. I struggled to find peace, to choose to believe God was still in the midst of all of this, and to wrestle through how much I wanted both His plans and my right now to coexist.
Last week was hard. I desperately wanted to be matched before Christmas. It was also the first point where we were “wasting time” in the adoption. Our dossier paperwork had gone through all the steps it could while we were waiting to be matched and it was essentially just sitting in China waiting for us to be matched so that we could get on to the next thing. People whom we had been moving at a parallel pace with were now passing us up, and as much as I was trying to trust that God’s timing was perfect…I was frustrated.
Around Tuesday I hit a wall. I was sad. I wanted to get in my bed and stay there. Maybe for the day. Maybe the rest of the week. Maybe until they called.
By the end of the week, through the strength of a praying husband and a bag of chocolate, I had gotten in the groove again. I was beginning to resign myself that this was not going to happen before Christmas. We would get into January before we would see a match. I started to wrap my mind around that and try to get my expectations in line.
The end of the week was our normal variety of crazy. I had a double root canal on Thursday. We got to pick our van back up after being in the shop to be repaired from a wreck. Bennett had been out of school sick and Russell and Elliott were quickly on their way to catching his cold. Plus, we were holding an online auction to raise money for the adoption. It was, thankfully, taking my mind off the struggle of waiting.
On Friday morning both the big kids had Christmas parties at school. Elliott and I partied it up in Campbell’s third grade class, then we started walking down the hall towards Bennett’s class to set up for his party. I stopped to talk to one of my fellow Girl Scout moms for a few minutes.
And then my phone rang. I’m on high alert for that these days. I fumbled around in my purse and looked down at the number.
It was our agency.
I answered the phone and there in the middle of the crowded hallway, our agency director told me that the dust had settled. That she had the file of a little boy that she wanted to send us. His file had first been sent to a family in line in front of us and they had been waiting on that family to make up their minds. She had met this little guy during a trip to China and loved him. She was thrilled to send his information on to us to review.
As much as we wanted to pace ourselves and be wise, we both knew quickly. By the evening we had spoken to a doctor about him. We waited impatiently through the weekend to talk to our agency on Monday morning.
This morning we officially said yes and his file was locked in.
Friends, meet Isaiah. Otherwise known as Yang Yang.
Way, way back when we were first starting the process of this adoption, I asked God for something specific. Would He show Himself in the dates? When we looked at the life of our son, would He allow us to see significance in his birthday?
I didn’t quite know what that would mean. Did I want him to share my birthday? Our anniversary? Would it provide the confirmation my heart needed if our son shared the birthday of one of our other children? Although I didn’t know exactly what it would look like, I longed for God to provide some confirmation along the way that we were saying “yes” to the child that was supposed to be ours.
When we began to look at this little guy’s file, I looked back at my calendar to see what I was doing on the day he was born. January 13, 2015. It didn’t mean much of anything to me. Not a birthday. Not an anniversary. Not a remarkable day that I could recall.
And then I began to think about what was happening in our life in those days. We were in the midst of making the most scary, most overwhelming decision we had ever made. We were struggling not to be overwhelmed by fear as we weeded through this call God had placed on our lives – to say yes to adoption.
On January 13, 2015, I stopped fighting against what I knew God was telling me. I created this blog. I wrote this blog post, my very first one. Sitting at our kitchen table, perhaps more terrified than I had ever been. Also more sure that God was speaking than I had ever been.
On a random day in January almost two years ago, I didn’t know where that yes would take us. I didn’t know the beautiful girl that God would lead us to and the way He would wreck us as we watched up close the beauty of redemption. I didn’t know the ways that He would change Russell and I, deep down to our core, as we lived out our calling for adoption. I didn’t know that we weren’t done, that we would say yes again.
And I certainly didn’t know that on the day we first said yes, our son was born.
Let’s be real for a minute. Adoption is CRAZY expensive. Statistics say that one of the primary reasons that people don’t adopt is because they are deterred by the cost.
I get it. Please. Two adoptions in two years? I’m pretty well versed in how expensive it is.
In the beginning of Elliott’s adoption, Russell and I had a conversation with each other about our willingness to stick out necks out financially in this. Would we take out a loan for the whole thing if we had to? Would we go into debt for this?
We were blessed during Elliott’s adoption to receive all the funding we needed very early on. Through a mega garage sale, our own savings, and so many generous donations, we were able to not think about the money part for much of her adoption.
This adoption has been more difficult in so many ways. We had exhausted a lot of our own financial resources the first time around. We were given so generously to during our first adoption that we have not felt comfortable turning around and asking those around us for direct donations again. I work less so that I can be home with Elliott more, so we have less disposable income. Our church is going through a building campaign, so we have been sensitive to what we are asking our church community for. And overall, we are in a harder economy than we were 18 months ago.
As we continue the wait to be matched and the days tick by, we are also moving farther along in the paperwork process in China. This means that while we remain hopeful that we will get a match soon, the time frame between when we are matched and when we will travel will be much shorter than last time. At this point, we will likely travel about 8 weeks after we get the call. That feels a bit overwhelming when we consider how much money remains to be raised.
A few weeks ago, my bestie asked if she could do an online auction for us (yes, obviously :). Before I knew it, she was off and running. I feel overwhelmed and thankful at how much work she has put it, how many donations have been made, and the prospect of how much money we could raise through this.
I am EXCITED about the donations that have come in over the past few weeks. Kendra Scott, Noonday, Younique, Scentsy, home decor items, LulaRoe, Rodan & Fields, some AMAZING handmade stuff (dolls and scarfs and blankets oh my!), and so much more.
Starting tomorrow, Wednesday December 14th and running through Friday December 16th at 8pm, we are holding the auction on Facebook. We would love for you to come and shop. All items will be shipped this weekend or early next week, so you should have in time for Christmas!
Click on link below to join group:
When we sent our dossier paperwork to China in October, we began the wait to be matched.
This is a hard wait for most people in the adoption process. Other than the moment you meet your child, probably the next most significant point in the process is the moment you know who that child is. All of this work, this fundraising, this waiting and yearning – it’s all for this child. Finally knowing who they are feels like a sweet victory.
We officially began waiting on October 19th. After months of paying careful attention to every detail, of pushing towards this major goal, our paperwork was done. And it was time to wait.
We were matched with Elliott 13 days after we began waiting. 13 days. Less than two weeks of waiting. While we knew there was a possibility that the waiting could be longer this time, what we had learned about the need for families to say yes to boys and our eagerness made us hopeful for a quick match. We had also been told by our agency that they were expecting files to come from the Chinese government at any point and that we were not too far down the list, so it felt likely that at any point we would be receiving “the call”.
And yet days went by. Weeks went by. Halloween passed and we were in November. All the sudden we were halfway through November. All along we had been telling ourselves that surely we would be matched by Thanksgiving. The day before Thanksgiving I mourned that it was not going to happen that way. Then we were into December and still waiting. Quickly, we were heading towards the two month mark.
As if the emotions of waiting aren’t hard enough, life seemed to swirl around us like a tornado as we waited. Sickness after sickness. Stomach viruses. Ear infections. Strep. Asthma. High fevers and random rashes. Bronchitis. Sinus Infection. Last week, two days after I finished a round of antibiotics, I got another round of strep so bad it was almost unbearable.
A car accident. An insurance dispute. An emergency room trip. Our debit card tampered with. Fraudulent charges on our bank account. More identify theft. Yesterday a fractured tooth with abscesses under two teeth needing two root canals and two crowns.
It feels like we come up for air from one thing just to be pushed down from the next.
All the while we have been waiting. Waiting to see the face of our son. Waiting for some of this to make sense. Waiting for some relief. Waiting to feel like the madness has stopped. I have gone from questioning whether we should quit this adoption to begging God to push us to the next point. I began to understand that we were experiencing the ugliness of spiritual warfare. The enemy was trying to stop us in our tracks. With that, I began to plead with God: have us be matched. Provide the rest of the money we need to do this. Get us on a firmer foundation so the devil will leave us alone.
And every time, God has responded to me the same way. You don’t need your circumstances to change. You need me. Your circumstances don’t put you on a firm foundation. I do.
Towards the end of last week, we found out that our agency was expecting many files in the coming days. Monday morning 44 files came in and the announcement was made “calls are coming!”. We waited hopefully. No call came.
On Tuesday our caseworker told us that they were still working through some of the files, but it was likely we would not be matched in this batch. Late that afternoon she called with a file for us to look at. A 10 month old baby boy. The medical need was something we had never considered but we agreed to look at it.
It’s hard to put words to what this part of the process is like. There is so much emotional buildup to waiting to be matched that emotions are inevitably high. But there is a starkly practical part of this as well. Conversations with doctors, evaluation of photos and videos, questions about development and potential and ongoing needs. For people like us who make decisions in a spiritual context, it’s a weird place to be. And to try to juggle all of that, while still guarding your heart and remaining disconnected enough to make a wise decision…it’s hard. It feels unnatural at moments.
We dove into the process of evaluating his file. We spoke to a doctor Tuesday night, requested more information from our agency, and went to bed cautiously optimistic. We woke up Wednesday and prayed before we went our own ways. God, would you show up here? Would you be clear?
Before my day had even really gotten started Wednesday we got more information. This precious baby boy was significantly more severe than we had thought. He was beyond our capabilities to care for him. This was not our son.
We are back to waiting. Yesterday I was left raw. It had been a roller coaster of a week. My hopes had been up and down so many times and I was left grieving for this boy and for us. I felt frustrated, sort of like after the waiting and the hurting a carrot had been dangled in front of us. And now we were supposed to find some way to step off the hopeful roller coaster and go back to waiting again.
Yesterday, in the midst of my Thursday pity-party, a dear friend challenged me. Could I believe that God was in Isaiah’s story before I was? Could I believe there will be eternal impacts from this journey that go beyond what I can fathom right now? Could I trust every part of this to be used for good whether I understand it or not?
We’ll see with our own eyes. He was always in control.
Today, although I feel the weight of wait on me, I have been able to wait with hope again. To resist the urge to squirm out from underneath the pressure I feel laying on top of me. To choose belief.
And to look forward with expectation to how we are going to see God in the rest of this journey. How we will celebrate the glory of a God that can bring great things out of chaos, that can protect us from the many arrows of the enemy, and can bring home the son He always meant for our family.
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. (James 1:2-4 The Message)
A few weeks ago, about 4 weeks actually, Elliott got sick.
We spent the week at home. We missed school and work. I held her for most of our days. Two trips to the doctor later, she was diagnosed with ear infections and a wheezing cough that might be the start of asthma.
That Friday we picked up the big kids from school and Bennett started throwing up immediately. (Just for the record, he has one volume when he’s throwing up. Unbelievably loud. And he basically doesn’t even try to get it in the toilet). By Monday morning, the most evil stomach bug I have ever encountered had taken myself, Russell, and Campbell down as well. A trip to the emergency room on Halloween night for me. Days and days of trying to recover. It was a nightmare of a week.
That Friday the bigs were back at school, Russ back at work, and Elliott and I operating like normal. That Saturday I was at Urgent Care with Bennett getting a Strep Throat diagnosis. Less than a week later Elliott would have a 105 fever and we’d be trying to get her wheezing under control with the inhaler for days in a row. One more week later and it’s Friday night and my oldest is asleep on the couch at 5:45pm. 104 fever. Rash covering her torso. Today it’s Sunday and after days and days of feeling bad I missed church and went to the urgent care for a sinus infection and bronchitis diagnosis.
It’s been 4 solid weeks of this. Just when we think a break is coming, that we are getting back to normal and we can safely wash the sheets and Lysol the house again – another one bites the dust. I cannot express how tired we are, how behind we are at everything, how many times we have been to the doctor, how many combined days of school and work we have missed, and how many cans of Lysol Russell has gone through (long live Russ’s love affair with Lysol).
Somewhere in the midst of all of this, somewhere around week “stomach virus of death”, I began to question what exactly was going on here. Was this a warning sign? Were things so hard right now because God was trying to give us some sort of smoke signal that we couldn’t/shouldn’t adopt again? Maybe things are hard because somewhere along the way we stepped outside of His will for us?
As I went to the Lord with this, in His kindness, He reminded me that it is not His character to speak in calamity and frustration like that. He reminded me that hard doesn’t necessarily mean we are the wrong path, that sometimes things are just hard.
Having made peace that this was just hard, not wrong or outside of God’s will, just hard – I let the thoughts of that go. And truthfully, I expected things to get better.
But it continued to be really hard. And we continued to be sick on top of sick.
It occurred to me one day that all of this started at the same time, literally to the day, that we began the process of waiting to be matched with Isaiah.
As we have waited out the past month, the most uncertain time in the adoption process for me, the time littered with some fears of how things went for us last time we were matched, we have been hit hard over and over again.
Last Saturday all five of us were in the car heading to the pediatrician to have Elliott’s lungs listened to again. I told Russ that I thought this was a deliberate spiritual attack. That it felt like the enemy was coming after us in attempts to make us quit this adoption. That I felt vulnerable in the midst of the waiting, with the lack of the funds to complete this adoption, with no time to think about fundraising, and it felt like every thing that came up was making me feel like we were just a little further from making this adoption a reality.
An hour later, as we left the doctor, a car drove straight into us. The man told us that he didn’t even see our car.
If I had any doubts about spiritual warfare before, they were basically gone at that point.
As we have continued to navigate through sickness and opposition and financial junk, we have began to look at this with spiritual eyes.
It’s been 4 weeks. 4 weeks of sickness. 4 weeks of waiting to see the face of our son. 4 weeks of attack. 4 weeks of struggling to believe that God is going to provide financially for the rest of this adoption. 4 weeks of weariness. 4 weeks of wondering if today is the day the phone is going to ring. 4 weeks.
4 weeks of opportunity for us to change our minds.
A few months ago a friend of mine had a dream about Isaiah. In it, he was wearing rainbow shoes. The Lord called him a walking promise. Ever since she told me that, I have quietly wondered and asked the Lord what that means. How is he a walking promise? What does that mean?
Last night Russ and I were talking about this feeling of attack against us. I was speculating about why the enemy might want to attack us when my husband looked at me and said, “Maybe there is a promise on Isaiah’s life that is greater than we know. Maybe he will walk out something great. Maybe the enemy knows that the very best way to mess up the great promise God has on his life is to prevent him from being adopted”.
Maybe he’s right.
Blessed are those who consider the helpless.
The Eternal will stay near them, leading them to safety in times of bitter struggle.
The Eternal defends them and preserves them,
and His blessing will find them in the land He gave them.
He moves ahead to frustrate their enemies’ plans.
One year. Today it has been one year since we met our beloved Elliott in a wood furniture filled room in Changsha, China.
In 365 days, Elliott has transformed significantly. In every way possible she seems like a much different child than the baby we held in our arms for the first time that day. Physically she has changed significantly. She has gained 15 lbs and grown 6 inches. She has grown a head full of the most beautiful black hair. Her skin looks different. Her eyes are brighter. She smiles easily and laughs loudly.
Developmentally she has changed in so many ways. She came to us barely walking. These days, she runs everywhere. She drags chairs around the house to climb up and get into whatever it is she feels like she needs to get into. She swings, jumps on the trampoline, and rides her tricycle. She came to us with no speech. No babbling, no even attempts at making sounds other than crying. Now, she is putting short sentences together (“Ellie do it!” “Thank you mama”) and repeating EVERYTHING. Her language has come so far, as has her desire to communicate and her trust that we will respond when she expresses her needs. She is **mostly** potty-trained and can take her shoes on and off like nobody’s business.
Perhaps the most significant changes, the ones I feel down to the core of my being are the ones that have happened spiritually and emotionally. A year ago we met a vacant version of the little girl we know now. Today, there is a presence, a light, in her eyes that sometimes overwhelms me. Where there once was desperate clinging and fear, there is now peace. She isn’t scared to be put down. She isn’t scared that her next meal won’t come. She isn’t scared to go to sleep. She glances back at me when she’s running around the yard, just like a kid should. She knows who her mommy is, her daddy, her sister, and her brother. She knows her grandparents and aunt and uncle and cousins. She knows that she has a place and that she fits. She knows home.
Being Elliott’s mom has brought me indescribable joy. She is the most hilarious, often outlandish, little person. She never fails to make me laugh with the things she does and says next and she is a constant surprise. She is bold. She is strong. She is determined. She is insanely smart. She remembers EVERYTHING. She is unbelievably cute. Like just so ridiculously cute. She has added so much to our family that we didn’t even really know was missing.
Happy one year, Elliott Hope. I can’t believe I’ve gotten to love you for a full year. I will love you forever, my baby girl.
After a small delay from the Chinese Embassy in D.C., all of our documents arrived at our agency on Thursday October 13th and we were DTC that day! That means that our COMPLETED dossier was shipped over to China to begin the process of being logged in, translated, reviewed, and eventually leading to official approval to adopt our son.
Less than one week later, on October 19th, we were LID (log in date). This means that our dossier had been put into the official system and was starting to move through the series of steps. I have to pause here and remark: I really, really dislike administrative work. Papers and details are exhausting to me. Our adoptions are such a testimony, in many ways, of how God equips us and carries us through when He calls us to do something. Two home studies, two dossiers, in two years. Ordinarily that amount of detailed work is enough to make me feel like I am drowning. God has been good to me though because I flew through this last one. I am grateful for the endurance to do this thing that is outside of how I normally operate in the name of bringing our children home.
Now that we are LID, this also means that we are now officially waiting to be matched. We waited 13 days after LID before we got the call to be matched with our first adoption. Our agency has given us a range of 0-6 months that we could potentially wait this time, but they are expecting some files to come in the near future so we are hopeful that we might be on the shorter side of that. I’m trying to keep it together, but this is a weird reality. They could call at any minute! Will today be the day? Will we see his face today? Is the ringer of my phone on? I haven’t looked at my phone in ten whole minutes! Way to go, Kristin!
Our prayers have been that God would help us to navigate all of this. That He would help us in the waiting. That He would help us to believe that He has gone before us and He would help us translate that into our emotions. That we would cope and wait well (seriously, put down the candy corn Russ and Kristin). And that we would trust that His timing in our lives is purposeful. That He is involved in the details of what is happening here with us and with Isaiah in China.
Isaiah, we can’t wait to see your face.