Monday, November 14, 2011

And the winner is...

 In our non-scientific yet as random as we know how to be method...we choose our winner!
Thank you to everyone who posted on Facebook, followed our blog, posted on your blog, and/or put our button on your blog.  We completely believe that God is going to provide for our needs.  Look for more exciting give aways in the future.

Morgan ~ message us with your t-shirt size and we'll get you fixed up.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Giving some stuff away!

Here's the deal.  We need to broaden our blog readership in a big way.   So we want to reward you for helping us.  This package - 1 of our custom adoption t-shirts, 1 copy of Matt's book "When You Come Home" and one copy of "Lovesongs and Lullabyes" can be yours!  Here's how.

1 chance for simply becoming a follower on our blog
1 chance for doing a facebook post referencing our blog
2 chances for putting our blog button on your blog
2 chances for sharing on your blog

Please email us at or send us a facebook message to let us know you've done these things so we can give you credit.
We will be randomly selecting a name on November 14.  Let's get this party started!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Don’t Worry, Keep Walking

Yes, it has been a long time. Too much to ‘splain, so let me sum up.

In the two months or so since our last blog post, we’ve had some personal health issues, and other very troubling issues with family distract and derail us from our quest. Beyond that, all of our fund raising efforts have either fallen flat, or in some cases they’ve yet to leave the ground.

Quite honestly, Martha and I have felt very lost and abandoned.

Today, however, is a new day and the Lord has given us encouragement through our pastor, Scott Palmer and a kick in the pants through our 14 year old daughter, Courtney, who is wise beyond her years. So, we as a family have decided to take action, and I’ve decided to get off my blessed assurance and write about something that’s been on my mind the last few weeks.

In September of 1988 Bobby McFerrin released a little song titled “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” A fun tune encouraging those who listened to find happiness in, or in spite of, life’s troubles. Then in August of 1994, a group of loonies, otherwise known as Soul’d Out – the Christian band Martha and I are in – just for fun came up with alternate lyrics to the song, based on the Israelites’wanderings in the desert. We called it “Don’t Worry, Keep Walking.”

While I enjoyed Mr. McFerrin’s song okay, I’ve actually had some of the words of our version echoing in the wide open spaces of my noggin, and I think I know why.

The Israelites wandered in the desert for so long because of their own mistakes. They doubted God’s faithfulness to do what He said He’d do (thank you Brother Scott). They grumbled about the way God was providing for them (perhaps manna left something to be desired but hey, it sure beats nothing). And probably the most egregious of their mistakes, they turned from God to their own devices.

While you’re not going to find any golden calves in our living room, Martha and I have made our own blunders. We froze. We allowed life’s problems to distract us from the extraordinary. We quit looking for the cloud by day and fire by night. We quit walking. Not that we meant to, it just kind of happened.

I mentioned Courtney earlier. She is so cool! At lunch today Martha and I were lamenting the whole adoption saga and Courtney stepped up, and in a loving, gentle way she challenged her parents:

“Well what are we waiting for?” she asked.
Martha and I blinked at each other. “Uh, good question.”

“Have you been pursuing God about it, believing in His ability to provide and taking action upon that belief?”

I cleared my throat and Martha began to nervously arrange the salsa bowls on the table. “Not exactly. See, we don’t know what to do.”

Teenage eye roll. “Well have you asked?”
“Hmmm, not lately…”

Sufficiently humbled by my beautiful daughter, I then proceeded to explain how it’s difficult for someone of my limited mental capacity to trust my interpretation of God’s will. Isn’t that like asking a three year old to explain molecular biology? I don’t think she fully bought it. She’s now grounded until she can quit making me feel silly.

So, what are we going to do about it?

For starters, we’re going to approach the throne daily, as a family, asking for clear direction. We’ve rededicated ourselves to the family prayer time that seems to ebb and flow with the business of life. We want and need His guidance. We anticipate hearing from Him and following His will.

Secondly, we’re going to take up the torch for the fundraising efforts. This is where I ask for your help and prayers. See, I’d rather sell my internal organs off than ask someone for help. Yeah, I know that’s awfully prideful and even foolish, but here I am facing the facts that we need help to make it happen. So pray for me and my sinful pride. The last thing I want is to stand in the way of the Lord’s glory. Pray also that the Lord give us a plan, bless our efforts and make them fruitful.

Finally, I believe that we will be called (if we haven’t already) to step out in faith, not knowing where the provision is coming from, but trusting that it does. Did you hear that giant gulp? Oh, that was me.

It’s time for action, and the action we’re going to take is to take our case to the Lord, day by day, hour by hour and minute by minute until He moves. In His good time. Lord, move, or move me. During this time of presidential campaigning, we’re going to revive our fundraising efforts for a cause that’s nobler than all the politicians on Capitol Hill.

The desert is vast. The challenge is big.

It’s time to get walking again.

~ Matt

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Cost of Adoption

Estimated Costs:
Agency fees (includes China Humanitarian Aid, document translations).....$5,915.00

Home Study.....$4,500.00

Fingerprints/background checks/Citizenship & Immigration/medicals/copies of licenses.....$4,100.00

Travel Expenses.....$17,610.00

Post Adoption Legal Fees.....$950.00

Total Estimated Cost.....$33,075.00

If I think about how much money it costs to adopt a child for too long I either get queasy or angry.  The queasy part, well that’s obvious.

The anger, that’s another story.  To put it bluntly, sometimes it seems to me like the whole adoption industry is nothing but a racket.

Allow me to qualify that statement by saying this: I think there are tons of adoption agencies, and individuals who work for them who truly care about what they’re doing.  We’ve experienced it firsthand.  For them it’s not just a job, but a passion to find homes for kids who desperately need them.  For most of these case workers they’re not in it for the money, believe me.  They put their hearts on the line with the adoptive families and children every day.  But they need to eat, and make a living, just like the rest of us.

All that being said, after the governmental bureaucracy and red tape (times 2 for international adoption), a hand out at every turn in the road, certifying documents, then certifying the certifications, etc, etc, it sometimes feels like we’re being scammed.  What kind of world do we live in where a whole industry is invented for finding homes for orphaned children?

The obvious answer: a broken world.  We live in an imperfect, broken world where there are people who exploit children every day (not just orphans) for personal gain, or worse.  People are swindled out of their savings every day - ever hear of a Ponzi Scheme?

But no one subjects us to it against our will.  We know going into it what we’re facing and we wade right in.  So why do we do it?  I would say for our family it comes down to a couple of specific reasons. 

Reason one: the call of God.  No we haven’t heard an audible voice or seen a 600 foot image of Jesus, but still, we’ve felt the call.  In our hearts.  The place where Jesus often does His most profound work.  Martha and I had our hearts turned toward adoption before we had Courtney, when we were struggling to have a biological child of our own.  The seed was planted then and it grew.  Adopting Cassidy was like applying a hyper dose of Miracle Grow on it.  From that point on our lives were forever changed in a super natural way.  God’s call on our lives had brought on some blood, sweat and tears (good thing I always liked that band), but it had also opened our eyes to the dramatic need all across our world, not just in China.  There is a tremendous, unrelenting need for families who will step up and care for the widow and the orphan, like we’re commanded to do.  Some dear friends of ours have a blog called “One More in China”.  Another friend’s is “One More Ladybug”.  Yet another is called “A Narrow Path”.  Ours is “The Adoption Call”.  Seeing a theme here?  It’s our mission – our ministry.  We’re going to follow it where ever it takes us.  For the sake of the call.

Now, before you start believing that we’re this awesome, noble, totally altruistic family, please don't.  We’re not.  So not.  Which leads me to our other reason: we want to.  Yes, it’s that simple.  It’s an incredible, amazing thing to watch God transform a family of three into a family of four – soon to be five.  Simply put, the girls would love a baby brother and Martha and I would love a son.  My best friend is taking his son through a biblically based right of passage that he has developed on his own, and I can’t wait to do that for my little boy.  Plus, I’ve gotta admit, traveling to China is just way cool.  Neat how God matches our calling with our desires, huh.

Yeah, our estimated cost for adoption is over 33 grand.  Is it hot in here or is it just me?  Please pray for us in this area, because we're going to need His help to cover the cost.

But to stand half a world away and to have this little child brought into your world, perhaps kicking and screaming at first, and to have your heart stolen yet again by this precious little face with dark brown eyes, to watch as your family grows in love and laughter, then to see that child who has become as much a part of the family as if they’d been born into it give their life to Christ, well that’s…….Priceless.

~ Matthew

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”  James 1:27 (NIV)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Attention fellow bloggers!

Look to the right side of the screen to get our blog button.  You simply have to copy the code in the box to an html box on your blog and...Voila! have our button.  Help us spread the word?  Anybody need a t-shirt?  Click on the store link at the top.

Monday, August 8, 2011


I've just got to share this conversation posted by a friend on her blog.  CJ is an adoptive parent and Mr. I is well...I'll let you decide what you think. 
CJ: I've got 10 kids; 7 are adopted from China.
Mr. I: Why in the h... would you do that?
CJ: Well, sir, there are millions of children in China alone needing a family.
Mr. I: Well, adopting 7 won't make a difference.
CJ: Tell that to them.
Mr. I: Tell it to who?
CJ: My 7 children.
Mr. I: Tell it to the 3 you didn't adopt when they lose out.
CJ: Lose out on what?
Mr. I: Their inheritance.
CJ: What's an inheritance?
Mr. I: That's what it's all about.
CJ: Sir, my inheritance isn't on this earth.
So, it was a seed. Probably planted on rocky soil but nonetheless, it was a seed.

Thanks, C.J.  Good reminders for me as well:  Adopting one child changes the whole world for that child.  Whatever I may give up here is not worth anything compared to adding to the treasures in heaven. 

 "But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal." Matthew 6:20

~ Martha

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Wall one goes down

We got a very short, to the point e-mail from our agency yesterday.  To shorten it further, "We can proceed."  And there was much rejoicing!  My last conversation with the agency on this issue was something like, "They've never approved this before, but we can try."  And God clears a path! 

My first thought was to post this news immediately, but I didn't.  I've been trying to figure out why I'm not shouting it from the mountain tops.  I've debated (and still am) whether to share this, because this posting my very personal thoughts is putting my heart out there for all to see.  I said I would do that from the beginning of this blog, but it's proving harder than I suspected.  You see, I prayed every day many times that God would cause the answer from China to be "not a problem."  He has done exactly what I asked in this situation.  Now I find myself thinking how many of these big and small miracles God's going to have to do to make this adoption come to fruition.  I must admit to fearing that.  Yesterday, even as I was thanking God for doing this for us, I was questioning why He would keep it up?  Why would God keep working like this for me?  I know me.  So does He.  Is He absolutely sure I'm up to this?

I learned a long time ago that God is big enough for my questions.  So I've been asking them.  What He put on my heart is the story of the man in Mark 9 who brought his son to Jesus.  The boy had been demon possessed for years.  The disciples had not been able to rid the boy of the demon.  Jesus response was, "O unbelieving generation, how long shall I stay with you?  How long shall I put up with you?  Bring the boy to me."  The father did that and said to Jesus, "If you can do anything..."  I think Jesus was a little offended, "If you can?  Everything is possible for him who believes." The boy's father answers, "I do believe.  Help me overcome my unbelief."

Matt & I have discussed this passage many times.  I love how the father believes, but knows part of him doesn't.  This is the conflict I'm feeling.  God just showed me yet again that He CAN and WILL provide.  I honestly have no doubts that God can do whatever God wants to do.  I struggle with letting go, realizing I'm not in control at all, and believing that God wants to and will keep working His miraculous ways in my family. 

In this whole process, I know God is going to grow me.  This adoption process is a very slow and He knows two of my biggest struggles are impatience and wanting to be in control.  My poor husband.  These are not his struggles, but He's going to have to watch the painful process of my ups and downs.  Jesus' answer to why the disciples couldn't drive out the demon?  "This kind can come out only by prayer."  So as I make that phone call to set up the home study process, my prayer is simply: I do believe. Help me overcome my unbelief. 

Thank you for all the prayers.  God is answering!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Prayer please

No long post now, but our doctor's letter is on it's way to the facilitator in China.  Please pray for a favorable response. 
Thank you!

Saturday, July 9, 2011


Sorry for taking so long to get a new blog post up, I seem to have myself spread pretty thin right now.
When I think of the word “wall” several images spring to mind.  The Great Wall of China is one for sure.  We went there on our trip to adopt Cassidy, and what an experience.  Standing there gazing at those ancient stones and imagining all of the labor it must’ve taken just to build the section I could see, I was dumbstruck.  Okay, so I’m dumbstruck quite often, but I’m currently building a retaining wall in my back yard, so it’s possible I might have the teeniest, tiniest inkling.  I also think of the Green Monster at Fenway Park in Boston.  As of yet I haven’t had the chance to see it in person, but it’s an icon in the baseball world.  I’ve always been fond of the story of Samson, and I’ve pictured myself, chained up between pillars supporting the walls of the great city and through the Lord’s strength yanking them down.  Without the part where I die, of course.

Walls support, divide, hide, commemorate and demarcate.  But it seems most often, they frustrate and/or hurt when we run into them.

Such is the situation we find ourselves in with our adoption journey.  We’ve barely taken our first steps and already we face an obstacle.  It seems that during the time since we adopted Cassidy, China had changed their rules regarding a particular medicine one of us takes.  What wasn’t an issue six-plus years ago is now a big issue – as in showstopper.

Now those who know me any at all know that my first tendency is to want to blast right through the wall.  I’m not one who quits easy, so if I can’t plow through it I’ll try to go around, climb it, or dig under.  I’d love to just reduce the wall to rubble, but it begs the question – is that what I should do even if I could?

Psalm 46:10 says “Be still and know that I am God.”  That’s the verse that’s been rattling around in the old noggin lately.  I’ve also been recalling the Biblical history of Joshua and how Joshua and the Israelites obediently marched around the walls of Jericho and God crumbled them.  I think maybe God is telling me “Hey, I’ve got this.  Don’t go beating your head against this one.  I led you here, I’ll see you through.”  God has to tell me these things or else I’d hurtle myself headlong into the wall – like I’ve done so many times in the past.

So, we’re taking steps with our adoption agency that we feel the Lord has led us to take.  Our family doctor has written a letter describing the medicine and why we’re on it.  He was also kind enough to recommend us for adoption even with the medicine.  We’re going to send the letter to China and see what they say.  Yikes.

This is where that word faith comes in.

I can, with all honesty, say that I haven’t been sweating it too much.  The Lord has never done anything in our lives the way we planned it, or saw it going, so why should this adventure be any different?  His plan has always been so different.  Along the way there have been trials that taught us faith and humility.  But you know, His plans are so much more awesome than our tiny dreams.  Without fail, His way may be rough and rocky at times, but it has led us to some beautiful places (thanks Wayne Watson).

Who knows what China will say?  They might say it’s all good and we’ll go rocking on our merry way.  Or they might totally reject the letter.  Either way, we will not be moved, because “greater is He that is in us, than he that is in the world.”

So, I guess if I were to summarize I’d say we’re waiting on God to move.  When He calls us to action we’ll be ready.  If the wall grows bigger and more formidable we’ll take a deep breath and rely on Jesus, the author of all our joy.  For we truly believe that He has led us here, and He will not abandon us.  His grace is sufficient in our weakness.

Please be with us in prayer on this matter.  Then sit back and wait, it might be fun to see what new and creative way God comes up with in dealing with this wall.

My head could sure use the break.

~ Matt

Friday, July 1, 2011

Adoption perspective

Next week, the girls and I will be attending an annual event put on by Dillon International called China Camp.  It's an opportunity for kids adopted from China to spend a few days together and learn about the Chinese culture.  I've had the privilege of teaching 4 years old at camp for the last few years.  It's been a really amazing experience. 

We receive newsletters from Dillon leading up to camp every year.  The latest has an article in it that I just have to share.  The sweet lady who penned it has been teaching Chinese cooking to the kids every year since I've been there.  She is both an adoptee and an adoptive parent.  This article gave me a whole new perspective.  Hope it does the same for you.and

Reflection of a China Camp mother and why I volunteer

Come second day of Camp and it is picture day! Yeah!

Our adorable, beautiful children from China come together as a body of campers to smile into flashing cameras, becoming celebrities for a day. All around me proud fathers and mothers click away with love swelling in their hearts at how beautiful & special each and every one of their sons and/or daughters are. There is a certain euphoria in the air, a certain kind of organized chaos masked by smiles and "cheeses" and excitement that 'my picture is being taken'.

This is the same day when I am overwhelmed. I catch myself heavy in heart. I look at 200 smiling children, 200 loved children, 200 joyous children, 200 innocent and hopeful children. I also see 200 faces of children that will deal with all the emotions that come with loss. 200 beautiful faces who left their birth country to form families and come to camp here in Tulsa OK., 200 faces that one day may ask or have asked "why'?

My heart never fails to tighten and a blanket of sorrow enfolds me. Each year, on picture day, I dread this feeling. I am totally overcome by how 200 elated children, living life to their fullest, could be the child who may feel the pain that "for this joy, I had to somehow lose a part of me".

To say I detest picture day is too harsh. But I do detest the feelings that overwhelm me, that to be here I had to become apart from someone who gave me life. I am apart from the smells, sounds, taste, language and more, a place where "little me" yearns to be.

Picture day, I am in turmoil, because it contradicts all I have come to learn, believe in my Faith. Especially to be thankful for the Grace and life I can partake.

The recurring thoughts are "look how perfect each and every child is. Look how confident they all are, look how happy they all are." But my heart also sees hearts and minds that could hunger for the unknown pieces of history.

I am totally aware that this heavy heart comes solely from my very own adoption mystery. I had often fallen deep into the water of loss and pain I feel for my unknown birth family. To say I do not miss them, mixed into this wonderfully blessed life I have, is a lie. I too have wondered who they are, who do I look like, are they still alive? Most of all, Why?

Now, a mom of 3 little miracles, I have often looked into my children's eyes and wondered who they could have become if they had not joined our family. What could have become of them?

No choice of theirs, I have taken them out of their homeland, out of their culture, selflessly they have accepted.

China camp is my only small way to return to them their history, their culture, their identity. One of many ways, I can thank my children for forming this family.

I love my Chinese culture, I love the children, I love our Chinese children. I love food, I love cooking, I love sharing the most awkward, bizarre and exotic Chinese taste with the children. I watch with amazement as their eyes open wide at strange vegetable and animal parts and see their noses wince from an unusual smell. I love to see their face cringe at that attack of their tongue when tasting something totally unlike anything they have ever tasted. Their excitement when they discovered that strange smell can be so delicious.

Most of all, I feel a deep unfathomable obligation to take the children on a journey, returning to the land of their birth. I cannot replicate the exact attacks of all 5 senses when we are in China, but if, in a tiny minute way, I can bring parts of their homeland to them I feel I may have repaid them for their unselfish hearts to make my family.

To volunteer and teach at China camp is not merely about 2½ days of being part of classes to make a chinese mythical dragon, nor use a calligraphy brush to write, nor to make yummy dumplings nor to sway and dance like a Chinese fairy nor to defend like the Kung Fu Panda.

No it is not. It emcompasses so much more. It signifies and symbolizes where words are too weak to explain.

To volunteer is to travel back in time with my children. Back to the land of their ancestors, to be able to replicate what they could have eaten, smelled, and touch; what their forefathers created, played games centuries old and create lifetime friendships.

Come second day of camp I see my past, my present and my future.
I can't wait to see Tian this year and thank her personally.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

T-shirts are here!

We have custom designed t-shirts to sell for an adoption expenses fundraiser.  Check out our store!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Getting out my jars

Consistency is not my strong suit.  I set out to begin an exercise program, and something distracts me.  I set out to improve my diet, and I get the munchies.  I set out to read my Bible every single day, and then some days I just don't.  I set out to write on this blog weekly and I skipped a week, then I'm writing 2 posts in 2 days.  I set out to adopt a child and I find myself not forging wholeheartedly ahead with the paperwork and contacts and such.  Why am I like that?  Most of the time it's a lack of discipline on my part.  The adoption paperwork?  I was asking myself that same question this morning.  I really want to bring our child home as soon as possible.  As I really examined my heart, I'm finding fear winning out over faith.  If I forge ahead completely, I have to completely trust God's hand to work in so many areas.  I've been dragging my feet a little, waiting to figure it all out first.  Then this morning, I read this scripture passage.  Sorry for the length, but I want you all to see what God oh so gently smacked me with today.

2 Kings 4:  1 The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the LORD. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.” 2 Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?” “Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.” 3 Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. 4 Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.” 5 She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. 6 When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.” But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing.   She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.”

My job is not to know how it's all going to happen.  My job is to use what I have, then start collecting jars.  Or in this case, I need to get out the paperwork, make a few phone calls, and watch God do the rest.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Happy Father's Day

This post is not really about adoption.  I just thought I'd share a few thoughts I have about dads on this Father's Day.  Here's some things I think are marks of a great daddy.
  • Your 3 yr old tells people, "Daddy goes to work so we can go to Walmart."
  • Response when wife thanks you for working so hard for us? "I'm just doing what I'm supposed to do."
  • Have this conversation when planning to take cover during tornado warning: The daddy,"If we need to, you and the girls get in the bath tub and I will put a mattress over you." The mom: "What will you do?" The daddy: "That's not important."
  • You keep driving your beat up 6 yr old Chev Cavalier because it gets good gas mileage, it's paid for, and what's the big deal about a truck I've always wanted when there's a kid to be adopted?
  • Retirement?   Don't know if that'll happen, but what's the big deal about that when there's a kid who needs a home?
  • To the kids when facing a big day/event:  The daddy: "What does Daddy always say?"  Girls' response:  "I know, I hard, do your best, and Daddy will be proud."
  • Say repeatedly to your kids:"There is nothing you can ever, ever do that would make me not love you."
  • Take on a work project on the side (when you already don't really have enough hours in the day) to help fund adoption expenses.
  • Tell your wife and kids every single day that you love them.
  • Go with your wife and kids to church every Sunday and serve there.
  • Tell your daughter when she returns from a mission trip, "I am so proud of you.  Do you realize that you helped change some people's lives for eternity?"
Wait ~ these all describe the Daddy of my girls, my husband!  I'm not proclaiming his perfection and he sure couldn't proclaim mine.  Just thought it would be good for him (and others) to know just some of the good stuff.  We are planning for the next addition to our family to be a son.  If that's God's plan also, I know I will enjoy watching Matt get to be as good of a dad to his son as he is to his daughters.  I know he will try explain that "boy" brain to me like I try to explain these "girl" brains to him. 

Happy Fathers Day to my husband and to all of you other dads out there who do your best every day to be the dad God wants you to be.

"As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;" Psalm 103:3

p.s. Won't Matt be surprised that I got back out of bed and wrote this after he was asleep?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Choices and Playing Cards

I would say most parents, given the choice, would pick nothing but the best for their kids.  I’m sure my dad might’ve preferred me at six-three, two-fifty coming out of high school as an offensive guard and a nose guard instead of five-nine, two hundred.  Momma might’ve preferred a Pulitzer Prize winning author instead of the mental midget I can be at times.

When I dream of my own children’s futures I see Courtney successful and happy, making an eternal difference for the Lord in the lives of others.  I can picture Cassidy winning Olympic gold in gymnastics to the glory of God.

But what about the other things – those things we might consider bad.  No parent would choose for their kids to have disabilities and handicaps.  Heck, my parents didn’t choose for me to be a knuckle-head.  I just turned out that way.  But would we turn away from our children if they were born less than perfectly healthy?  I couldn’t, and I dare say, most wouldn’t.  I’ve got two cousins whom I greatly admire and respect for their dedication and bravery as they raise special needs children.

Yet we’re approaching a point in our adoption journey in which we’re going to be asked to choose those issues/defects we’ll accept and those we won’t – they call it special needs.  We have decided we’re going to adopt a special needs child.  The biggest reason we’re going that direction is because our girls would love a baby brother, and well, it’d be cool to have a son, and the most sure fire way to adopt a boy from China is if you’re willing to take one with a special need of some sort.  It kinda makes me feel like a weasel to even put it that way.

Nevertheless, that’s the choice we’ve made, and we’ll soon be faced with decisions as numerous and wide ranging as there are special needs: Cleft lip and pallet or Down’s Syndrome?  Spina Bifida, blindness, deafness, mental retardation, club foot, autism, missing toes.  You get the picture.

But how do you choose?  Martha and I agonize over this.  How do you look at all these children, equally deserving of a loving family and home and say, “I’ll accept you, but I won’t accept you.”  It rips me up to even think about it.  I mean, aren’t we supposed to play the hand the good Lord deals us?  I know I’m thankful my folks didn’t look at God and say “Uh, try again, would ya?”

For me, the dread is real and formidable.  I would like to think I’m bold enough to tell the adoption agency, “You pick, I’ll handle whatever comes my way.”  But honestly, I don’t know if I’m that brave.  I want to be, but am I?  I doubt it.  And I’ve got my family to think of as well.  My wonderful wife and I have two of the most precious girls in the world.  How much are we willing to disrupt their lives?  What are we willing to put them through?  While that’s a good and valid consideration, I don’t want to hide behind it either.

I wish I had this big, elegant answer, but truth is I don’t.  So, I find myself praying and falling back on that faith thing, asking God to show me His good and perfect will for our family, hoping I’ll have the courage to follow the road He puts us on.

When the time comes, we’ll make the choice, and we’ll live with the consequences however they turn out.  My biggest prayer is that we don’t make “our” choice, or “my” choice, but that we make His choice.  Then I know we’ll be able to handle whatever hand we’ve drawn.


Friday, June 3, 2011

What's going on?

Short update in case you wonder (or even if you don't :))
We sent our first paperwork into Lifeline Adoption a few weeks ago.  We had our first official conversation with our social worker there yesterday.  Exciting stuff!  Our next step is to find and contract with a home study agency and get that going.  Along with that, the next step in the reams of paperwork will begin.  My head's already spinning.  I think it's time to obtain the BIG three ring binder and set up lots of dividers with brightly colored tabs!

I'm told the whole process from start of paperwork to hugging our child will take about a year.  My friend who left Guangzhou, China yesterday says it was 1500 degrees there.  Maybe she's exaggerating a little.  We may be there this time next year!

Upcoming news:  We have a Hand in Hand, Heart in Heart logo on it's way and some t-shirts in the works.  Yippee!

Prayer requests:  1)We have to fill out paperwork telling the agency what special needs we'd be willing to accept.  Such a tough question.  Please pray for God's will to be evident.  2) Fees are due at every step from here on out.  Please pray for God's perfect provision.

Question: Have you become an official follower of our blog?

Thank you all for your prayers, well wishes, and smiles.  They mean SO much to us!

"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work."  2 Corinthians 9:8.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Why China?

Martha ~

Note:  If you are reading this blog, please click on the follower link so we'll know who you are!

Why China?
This is a question Matt & I have already been asked on several occassions since we've let it be known we're on the adoption trail again.  I guess people expect a quick one sentence, firm answer.  I can never come up with that.  So I will attempt to offer some answers here. 

The first and foremost reason is that's where our heart is.  God led us there to get our Cassidy and He is leading us there again.  When we got to the Chongqing Children's Home to meet Cassidy for the first time,  Matt & I both got a mental picture that will never leave us.  We were in the elevator with our travel group.  When the doors opened to our destination, we saw a sea of little faces either walking around or in baby walkers.  I would guess there were 20-30 kids who almost all turned to look at us when those doors opened.  That was just a fraction of the 400 children who lived there at the time.  We think often of those faces and wonder where they are now.  Those 400 are just a fraction of the estimated 500,000 orphans in Chinese orphanages. 

Some facts about China that make a difference to us ~ It is a communist country.  Freedom of religion does not exist there.  To put it on a personal level, Cassidy mentioned recently that if we hadn't brought her home from China, she might never have known about Jesus.  That means everything!
Family name and reputation is invaluable to the Chinese people.  Children "age out," meaning they are no longer available for adoption at 14.  Between 16-18, they can no longer live in the orphanage.  Without any family, family name, and many times without a proper education, the future is bleak.  There are no social services.  No one to help them up.  Poverty and homelessness likely awaits them at the age of 18.   Because of a growing gender imbalance, more and more men of marriagable age cannot find women to marry.  Young women are being kidnapped and forced into marriage.  These young women on their own are easy targets.
Since 2007, the adoption of "healthy" girls from China has slowed incredibly.  The wait for us in 2004 - 2005 was six months.  It is now 3-5 years.  This time, we plan to adopt through their special needs program.  Children in this program can have needs ranging from very minor to very serious.  Boys and girls are both available in this program.  I've heard that superstitious people there believe that people with any visible deformity are bad luck.  Think about what kind of future that promises.

I feel that I've rambled on, yet there are probably more facts that would help explain the "Why China" question more thoroughly.  Maybe I'll do a continuation later.

I know without a doubt that God loves every child He has created.  He loves them equally whether they are in China, Ethiopia, Mexico, or the United States.  Every child deserves love and a home.  God has simply called us to love another of His children that just happens to be in China. 

"I will not leave you as orphans.  I will come to you." John 14:8

Friday, May 20, 2011

Hello World Part 2: The Case of the Missing Nothing Box

Matt ~

Mark Gungor, a national marriage speaker/comedian tells of a special gift most men have in their brains called the "nothing box."  For the majority of all males, the nothing box is a special place.  They can crawl inside, pull the lid shut and think about absolutely NOTHING, and continue breathing.  It's truly an anointed place.  I do some of my best non-thinking there.

So one day back in March of this year I woke up and to my great horror I couldn't find my nothing box.  I remembered having it out the night before but I was very careful to put it back in its spot, right between my wife and work boxes.  This morning, however, my brain fired off thoughts like an M-16: Adoption, golf troubles (I tend to hook the ball), adoption, things to be done at work, adoption, college fund for my two daughters, adoption, retirement savings, adoption…

Being nearly astute sometimes, I noticed that the dream of adoption kept popping back up in my mind.  As my wife chronicled in the previous blog post, we'd talked about it often, and agreed that we'd like to but we didn't see how it was possible.

So I stopped and asked God about it and the conversation went a little something like this:
Me:      "Hey God, have You seen my nothing box?"
God:     "Yeah, sure.  I created you."
Me:      Crossing my arms over my chest.  "You know what I mean.  I seem to have misplaced it.  I can't find it.  I keep tripping over the adoption box."
God:     "I took it."
Me:      "You took what?"
God:     "Your nothing box.  Replaced it with your adoption box.  It's time you slow down and listen to me son."
Me:      "You did what?  How could you?  I love my nothing box."
God:     "I know, I know.  But you were abusing it.  You were going there instead of addressing the adoption box."
Me:      "What's to address?  We've done it once.  I only keep it for the memories."
God:     "It's time for you to open it up.  There's new stuff there."
Me:      Gulp.  "Really?  What new stuff?"
God:     "It's time you take a good hard look at this.  Figure out what fears are holding you back.  Get them out in the open and take them to me.  Let me handle them.  I want you to do this."
Me:      "Oh."
God:     "Clever retort."
Me:      "You made me."

So anyway, after much apologizing to God for being a smart mouth I agreed to think about it and God agreed I could have my nothing box back.

Initially, all I could see were the obstacles, the first being the 25-30 thousand dollars needed.  Don't know about you all, but that's a whole lot more than chump change to me.  Then I recalled something about the Israelites and manna, and the way God had provided for Martha and me all throughout our twenty-two years of marriage.  Why would he stop now?  Okay, but what about retirement?  We need to get that built up.  I wouldn't care if I lived in a shack, but I've got a precious wife who deserves more, and I don't want to be a burden on our kids.  Then the thought hit me: where in the Bible does it say anything about retirement?  All I'd do is sit around in my nothing box all the time anyway.  But I'm forty-four.  Um, remember Abraham?

For every excuse, the Lord had an answer.  Faith.  Nothing more and nothing less.  Faith that He'd show us the way to make this dream come true.  Faith that He'd show us how to raise the money.  Faith that He'd provide.  Like He always does.

I don't want Him to walk this road for us.  He's already walked one for us once.  But I want him to lead us down the road and to guide our steps.  So I prayed to God, asking Him to light the path.  Then all of the great and wonderful things about the adoption call began to drift across the landscape of my mind.  I love kids.  Another child would be awesome!  I loved realizing how God picked out Martha, Courtney and I for Cassidy and then sculpted us into a family.  I find peace in knowing that Cassidy has professed Christ and belongs to Him now, something that likely would never have happened if she were still in China.  Another child that needs a family could have four people that love him or her totally and unconditionally.  How much more important is that than my personal comfort!

I had – or rather, God had sold me on it.  A week or two later, on a Saturday morning I talked to Martha about it, and well, the rest is yet to come.

We're thrilled and we're anxious to see how God provides.  But we're not scared.  The Lord Jesus is not the author of fear.

These days, I find myself feeling more and more like I'm square in the center of God's will for our family.  I'm also spending a fair amount of time in our adoption box.

They're both pretty cool places to be.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Hello world

Martha ~

How to start a new blog? I guess with the reason why we are here. We are starting a new adoption journey. Matt & I feel strongly that this is God's call on our life. Sharing it from the beginning seems appropriate. Although we certainly don't know what the trip will hold, God does, and we wait expectantly for all He will do.

Some background ~ In November of 2009, I shared with our church family that God was calling me to do something for Him involving adoption while introducing a new song, "Break My Heart" (lyrics by my hubby). I really didn't know what, but I knew that the call was there. I will admit to getting distracted very shortly after that and not cluing into God's will and not searching as diligently as I should have for exactly what that call was.

Matt and I talked several times over the next few months that God was calling us to do more for Him. Exactly what? Didn't know. The subject of adoption has come up occasionally since 2005, when we adopted our daughter, Cassidy. When the subject came up, we both admitted we had the desire to adopt, but we kept saying we don't have the money anyway, so that must not be it.

Late 2010 ~ My dear daughter, Courtney, asks me if we are going to ever adopt again. I paraphrase...

Me: "Dad and I just haven't felt a strong calling. "

Courtney, "Have you asked?"

Me: "Not in a while. Beside, I just don't see how we can ever afford it. We just don't have the money."

Courtney: "No offense, Mom, but as a Christian, what kind of faith is that?"

Tag. I promised to pray about it.

Early 2011 ~ I started feeling that God was calling us to adoption. It seemed every song on the radio screamed it to me. Brandon Heath - "I don't want to go through the motions." Matthew West, "My Own Little World" and "One Less." Third Day, "Children of God." I promised God, however, that I wouldn't present it to Matt. I don't trust myself in determining God's will versus my own when it comes to kids. I asked God to tell Matt if this is His will so that my influence wouldn't be there. Matt actually said a few things in conversation that led me to believe God was working on him too, but miraculously, I remained silent.

Then one Saturday morning, Matt asked me about the adoption agency that a friend is using and told me to call them with a few questions. We talked a lot about it that day. We agreed to pray, seek God's will, and wait for an answer.

The next day, what is the special music selection at church? "When Love Takes You In." Yep. That's about adoption. God speaking again. New sermon series? Taking our walk with Christ to a new level. Yep.

Later in the week, after much discussion with God, each other, and our girls, we came to the conclusion that another adoption from China is exactly what God is telling us to undertake. I will tell you that from a purely human perspective, it's absolutely crazy, coo coo, nuts. As I shared earlier, we don't have the money to do this. We are in our 40's, for goodness sakes. I could actually think of lots of other excuses, but I've realized they would be just excuses. If the God of the Universe says, "Do this. I'll take care of the details," we choose to obey.

What do we hope to accomplish with this blog? First of all, I don't want anyone to think we're trying to impress with our faith, our commitment, whatever. I will tell you that I'm already having panic attacks when my faith waivers. This is terrifying and exhilarating at the same time and I hope to be very real here.

I hope we will gain some prayer warriors.
I can't wait for us all to be impressed with God and His provision.
I hope someone else will see the miracle of adoption and dive in.
I hope God is glorified in it all.

Hebrews 11:1 ~ "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."