Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Last Post...

...from this place! Tonight is the last night we are spending in our apartment on the west end of Richmond. Tomorrow we are moving to a house we are renting in a neighboring county! :)

While this will be a new start and we are super interested to see what God has in store for us, it is also a bit bittersweet.

In each room we have such sweet memories. We have memories of family meals and family game nights in our dining room. Giggles and fun in the playroom. Lots of living in the living room.

I bedrested in this home.. desperately hoping to keep Solomon in as long as safely possible.

We brought him home from the hospital here.

Xander took his first steps here.

I spent countless hours in various parts of our home nursing my sweet baby boy.

Solomon crawled here. Xander said his first words here.

My girls have had SO much fun here. Julianne and Lainey started to learn to swim in our community pool. We spent lots of time on the playground.

We hosted birthday parties here. We had company here. My aunt came here last Thanksgiving. It was also Solomon's first Thanksgiving.

We also cried a lot of tears here recently.

We even had a bit of excitement (and stress!) A hurricane AND an earthquake!

But the good has far outweighed the bad.

Each of our various homes have had numerous memories and stories within them.

I can't wait to see what this next home has in store for us.

....As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. ~Joshua 24:15


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Divine Appointment: Doctor Appointment Style

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us? And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" ~Isaiah 6:8

God never ceases to amaze me. I don't know why I am still shocked. But this Friday I had yet another chill bump moment.

On Friday, I took Solomon and DeLainey to our family doctor. Solomon had a weight check and DeLainey needed cleared for surgery.

Our doctor is a really neat guy. He has this amazing way of taking input from the patient (or the patient's parents.) He's pretty laid back and relaxed. He is a homeschooling father of six children and he "gets" us and our quirks. He understands the role that our faith has in our lives.

Anyway, so he saw Solomon and said that we don't need to do any more weight checks. He examined DeLainey and filled out the form that her orthopedist had sent.

Easy peasy right?

Except I knew what the next question was going to be. We'd called and spoken with him several times about Annalise. And I knew he would follow up and ask me if we had gotten the information he requested and would ask if we had any updates.

In fact, I was so sure he'd ask that I'd prayed before we arrived. I prayed for the tears to stay in my eyes and not come rolling out on my cheeks. I prayed that I would have the voice to explain what happened yet I prayed for God to let me continue to be the huge adoption advocate that I am-- Even when my heart hurts so.

See, Dr. P has been very interested in our adoption story. Not just interested in a casual way. He's been interested in an information seeking way. Slowly over several appointments we've been able to share bits and pieces of our story.

So I let him know that Annalise was not going to be coming home to use and joining our family and I saw the emotion flash across his eyes. A knot rose in my throat and I blinked back tears.

I told him that we loved her and we have no idea why God had intersected our lives for such a brief period of time. I told him that we may never know on this side of Heaven. He shook his head in agreement.

I let him know that we are grieving deeply and that this is such a loss for us. He said he could only imagine the pain that we are feeling.

I felt the need to continue to talk, so I told him that we believe that God is good and that we can feel Him holding us as we walk this road.

And then I felt the need to shut my mouth. (HA! I know some of you are thinking.. FINALLY?!? LOL!)

He shared that he and his wife are discussing adoption again. They had discussed it a number of years ago but that it had come up again.

And most recently, they had discussed the possibility that an adoption could fail.

I got goosebumps-- right there in the office.

We talked for quite some time more. We were in the exam room for almost an hour. (Unheard of for most doctors, I know but luckily we were his last patients of the day!)

He never said how it had come up. Had it come up because we have shared bits and pieces? Is God using Xander's story or Annalise's? Had it come up because he did the children's adoption physicals? Had it come up because we came to him for advice on Annalise's behalf?

Maybe he needed to hear that it was a hard road if an adoption fails, but that God is our Sustainer? Maybe he needed to know that people do make it through failed adoption? Maybe he needed reassurance from someone who had been there and done that, and really wanted to return the t-shirt?

I may never know. But I know that God is still using me- as broken and grieving as we are. As imperfect as this story is and as imperfect as I am-- He can use this and He can use me.

Use me, Lord. Send me!


Saturday, September 24, 2011

What I was Trying to Say..

Last week, when I was doing my reading for a Women's Bible Study, I came across a passage that instantly made me think of a blog post that I made some time ago.

Except she explained it so much more clearly than I did...

Here's the passage, taken from the Resolution for Women by Pricilla Shirer.

"Maybe it feels as if choosing contentment is a simultaneous choice to quell your desires and silence your future aspirations, to quit ever hoping for more. On the contrary, contentment is the equilibrium between the enjoyment of life now and the anticipation of is to come. Contentment serves as a guard against desires gone wild. It is the key to unlock you from the bondage of unrestrained longing that wells up, within your heart and inevitably begins to control your life, making you a slave to what you don't have instead of a fully engaged participant with what you do. It is the faith-filled belief that what God has bestowed on your now is worth gratitude and appreciation, not merely because it is enough, but because it is good.

By choosing contentment, your not getting rid of your desires; you're just demanding that they assume an appropriate, humble position in your life, not bossing you around like a tyrannical dictator forcing you to submit to his ever-growing and ever-changing list of demands. It means you no longer allow your yearnings and aspirations to control you, to rob from you the full use of gratitude for what you've currently been given, leaving you unable to enjoy this because He hasn't seen fit to give you that.

Making this resolution of contentment will offer you an opportunity to look forward to tomorrow with peace and ease and an appropriate level of anticipation instead of the frustration and hurriedness that often accompanies our glances towards the future. It will be your ticket to live with goals and ambitions inspired by His expansive, mind-blowing will, without having to sacrifice today's blessing.

In staying surprisingly satisfied, you actually receive the best of both worlds. You give yourself permission to enjoy fully the things you have, the person you are and the life you're currently living while continue to harbor the dreams that keep you growing and stretching into the future..."

This lesson couldn't have come at a better time....


Monday, September 19, 2011

Frequently Asked Questions: Adoption Loss Edition

This post will be honest and raw. It's just kind of where I am right now.

So, how are you doing?

Days are okay. The busyness of our home is a blessing. We are busy homeschooling DeLainey and Julianne, Xander is adding new language daily, Solomon is on the cusp of walking any day and fall programming has started at church adding AWANA and Bible Studies into our schedule. We are also busy packing for our move.

I still jump when the phone rings and check my email often. Every day I wake up and walk through the house expecting to see her things that have now been packed away.

Every now and then, something comes up that takes us by surprise. Like when I got an email asking to reschedule the appointments I had to cancel.

Nights are much worse. When it is quiet and the busyness has died down, I have more time to think. Sometimes I find myself over analyzing each phone conversation or email trying to see if there were signs that this wasn't going to work out.

The only thing we have found that might have been a small sign was a quick questioning when we were visiting. During the last day we were there, the director mentioned that another agency worker had brought up that we said that we would open to adopting again. It was a response to a question that we were directly asked by the foster care worker.

She asked us to clarify our stance and we explained that if once things were settled at home and Annalise was medically stable and thriving we felt called to adopt again, we would be obedient and that we were open to another blessing through pregnancy. The director pressed us further asking if Annalise would be the last child in our home and we said that we couldn't guarantee that, but that we weren't out just collecting children. We told her that we love and care for each of our children as individuals. The director seemed satisfied.

We felt at the end of that conversation like everything was smoothed over. It was never mentioned again. But that conversation haunts me at night. Should we have been more vague? Should we have said that she would be the last child and later said "Oh, oops, we changed our mind?" Deep down we feel like we did what we should have. We were honest. But at night the thoughts start swirling in my head.

Nights have gotten a little easier. I shared on Facebook that nights were hard and that is when I think of Annalise most. Several friends have committed to pray for me and I believe that the prayers have made a difference. I know over time things will get easier and that things like this just take time.

Are you still going to adopt?

For now, we still feel called to adopt. Some days the path seems a little unclear (domestic, foster or international?) Some days we are frustrated and hurt and consider stepping off of the path. But for now, we are still on the path.

Where are you in the process now?

We are back to waiting for a match. Our profile book was sent to the local agency we used to adopt Xander. They asked for a second copy and that book was sent to their satellite office. We have a great relationship with the adoption coordinator there and trust the agency. Right now, we are not actively seeking to match with any other agencies.

Are you scared to try this again?

Truthfully? Yes, sometimes. We have now seen the best and the worst of adoption. We've worked with a wonderful agency and a terrible agency. Thankfully, we have fabulous memories of Xander's adoption. We try to use those memories to help us keep perspective. Adoption does work and can be a wonderful experience. When and if we do match again, I'm sure some feelings will bubble up, but the adoption professionals that we work with have told us that it will be normal and they will help us through.

We appreciate your thoughts and prayers,


Friday, September 16, 2011

More Comfort through Song Lyrics..

Brandon and I bought this compilation CD just a few weeks ago. We bought it on a whim and had no idea how comforting the words would be...

Two months is too little

They let him go

they had no sudden healing

To think that providence

Would take a child from his mother

While she prays, is appalling

Who told us we'd be rescued

What has changed and

Why should we be saved from nightmares

We're asking why this happens to us

Who have died to live, it's unfair

This is what it means to be held

How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life

And you survive

This is what it is to be loved and to know

That the promise was that when everything fell

We'd be held

This hand is bitterness

We want to taste it and

Let the hatred numb our sorrows

The wise hand opens slowly

To lilies of the valley and tomorrow

This is what it means to be held

How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life

And you survive

This is what it is to be loved and to know

That the promise was that when everything fell

We'd be held

If hope is born of suffering

If this is only the beginning

Can we not wait, for one hour

Watching for our Savior

This is what it means to be held

How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life

And you survive

This is what it is to be loved and to know

That the promise was that when everything fell

We'd be held



Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Words of Comfort...

I've found comfort in a lot of words recently.

Yesterday I received a card from a sweet new friend. A friend that has intertwined her family with ours in a powerful way. Amy.. the words on the card you sent made me weep. The effort you went through to send me a card, share your intimate story of your own failed adoption, and the reminder that we both believe in the One that has planned our lives and will work everything for good in the end touched me deeply.

Brandon came home from church Sunday and excitedly told me about the sermon.. on perseverance. (I was home sick with sick kiddos.) He said it gave him goosebumps as the sermon started.

Many of you have sent messages of thoughts and prayers for our family. We are so thankful for each of you and your outpouring of messages.

When I got into the van on Friday afternoon my eyes stung. I wasn't sure I had any tears left at all. I was driving to get some groceries and I heard a familiar song that took on a whole new meaning to me. I pulled over as soon as possible and laid my head on the steering wheel and sobbed. My body shook. As the song ended, I played it again. And again. Eventually, I could sing with the song. Just a few words, here and there. And eventually, I could sing the whole song with misty eyes..

Today the same song came on as I was running errands, and I turned it up. Loud. And I sang like no one was watching. It was me and God-- an intimate worship experience in the middle of afternoon traffic. I've internalized the words. This is our song for now.

One day my song will change but for now, this is where we are. (Emphasis mine.)

I Will Praise You in this Storm by Casting Crowns

I was sure by now

God You would have reached down

And wiped our tears away

Stepped in and saved the day.

But once again, I say "Amen", and it's still raining

As the thunder rolls

I barely hear Your whisper through the rain,

"I'm with you"

And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives

And takes away


And I'll praise You in this storm

And I will lift my hands

For You are who You are

No matter where I am

And every tear I've cried

You hold in Your hand

You never left my side

And though my heart is torn

I will praise You in this storm

I remember when

I stumbled in the wind

You heard my cry to You

And raised me up again

My strength is almost gone

How can I carry on

If I can't find You
And as the thunder rolls

I barely hear You whisper through the rain

"I'm with you"

And as Your mercy falls

I raise my hands and praise the God who gives

And takes away


I lift my eyes unto the hills

Where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord

The Maker of Heaven and Earth

(Chorus x 2)

Heart torn, but praising Him in the storm,

Saturday, September 10, 2011

I don't know what to say...

A beautiful set of bracelets that a friend from high school made me. I put their inititals on the inside of my wrist so it is easier to read. It is my reminder of the little people that I have the great pleasure of hearing call me Mommy. The first Sunday I wore this to church, I got multiple comments about how gorgeous it was and when I showed them the inside, many of the mother's clutched their chest and said how perfect it was.

Tonight, we clutch our chests for a different reason. We are heartbroken. It feels like someone has reached inside our chest and snatched our heart out.

The last 48 hours have been a whirlwind with amazing highs and incredibly low lows. To go from the mountaintop of being told that we have ICPC approval to being told that we cannot come get our daughter, is a long way to fall.

And we've both fallen and the landing was hard.

I'd like to say that we didn't fall into the pit of despair. But we did. Thankfully, we both have amazing friends that jumped in and rescued us and set us on the side of that pit, like a lifeguard does for a drowning swimmer. They breathed scriptures over us and told us that they loved us and that they never doubted for a second that we did all we could.

We have no idea who He has intended to have join our family.

But we stand on the solid rock of His Truth.

He has not left us. He is still with us. He is Father to the fatherless. He has called us to build our family this way. He is not done telling His story. At the end of His story, He will have the glory.

I'm enraged that we could be treated so callously by a social worker. The fact that I had to explain the importance of permanency for Annalise to an "adoption worker" sucks the air out of my lungs and leaves me speechless. I ache to know that a birthfamily trusted this agency.

Everywhere I look, I see signs of her.

Clothing I washed and folded

Hairbows that were bought for her curly thick hair

Diapers waiting to cover her sweet bottom

A carseat that her big brother sat in when he was a tiny baby that I washed especially for her arrival.

A changing table that was purchased.

A crib waiting for a sweet 10 lb baby to lay in it

A stack of pictures that I carry everywhere with me, so I can show my friends who we are eagerly anticipating and constantly praying for.

A stack of papers that we gathered and completed to complete this process.

A tiny suitcase with a coral homecoming dress, matching hat and shoes.

An email box full of messages about her.

A file folder with her name on it.

A blanket a friend crocheted especially for her and mailed and a tiny onesie sent from across the country.

The dress I wore when we met her.

I know God is going to turn these ashes into beauty in only a way that He can. He loves me. He loves Annalise more than is humanly possible. He saw that we loved her sacrificially, just as we love all of our children. We were willing to do whatever it took to bring her home and care for her the best way that we could. We were obedient.

We still carry her in our hearts. We look at her pictures with fondness. We are better people because of her. We will never forget her smile and the way that love took us in when we met her.

And so tonight I go to bed with tears and swollen eyes and hope that I dream about her.

Heavenly Father, please help us pick up the pieces. Guide us down the path that You desire for us as a family to travel. We thank you for the brief visits that we were allowed to have with her. Thought we ache, we trust Your goodness. We love You and we praise You. Amen.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Urgent Prayer Needed...

It's been a whirlwind here at our home this morning. I don't want to jeopardize anything by giving details but we would appreciate your prayers for this process to be smooth and without any further difficulties.

I feel like the rug has been snatched out from under us. :(


Thursday, September 8, 2011


After I found out that we had to provide more information to the state something changed within me. Deep down, I started to wonder if we would be approved to adopt Annalise at the state level. I wondered if we would ever get ICPC clearance. After all, they had already gone out of the norm by asking us for a child-specific homestudy and that required an addendum and more documentation on our part. Fear had started to creep in and I did everything I could to keep it at bay.

But I carried a tiny piece of fear with me. And that fear haunted me at night, when the house was quiet and everyone else was sleeping.

Today, ALL of that fear is finally GONE. I refreshed my email at 5:15pm just as I was sitting down from an afternoon of doing the seasonal closet switcheroo. And I saw it! There was an email from our socialworker with the local agency telling us that she got a notice that we got approval today.

Of course it was after business hours when I read this glorious email. So I immediately called Brandon and told him the news. And we both started dialing every number we had for either of the agencies and their respective socialworkers. We both left several voicemails, just in case.

We are hoping to find out tomorrow when we can travel and take placement of our newest princess. And maybe, just maybe, once we know when she is coming home, we can rescue our appointment for next Thursday in Philly!

We appreciate each prayer that has been said on our behalf during this process. I can never thank everyone enough for the prayers..

Just last night, I walked into church with slightly swollen eyes and one heck of a makeup job to cover my splotchy face. I had been crying but had to attend a meeting and other obligations. I pasted a nice fake smile on my face hoping no one would notice.

It was so incredible, that several of our new friends asked if we knew anything about Annalise's homecoming yet. Almost every time I turned around someone else was asking. I blinked back tears and told them no, that we didn't know anything more. I told them that I had already cried that day and that it was a really hard day for me. And each one told me that they would continue to pray. Your caring and attention to the details of our lives has not gone unnoticed. We are humbled that you care about even the tiniest details.

Thank you so very, very much.



Yesterday, I did something that I prayed I wouldn't have to do.

I had to call and cancel Annalise's appointments. When we matched in July, I was given a list of specialists that we would need to set up appointments with. I was never given any dates for when Annalise would be coming home but was asked to find specialists and set up care with them.

So I guessed. I thought surely, surely, by September Annalise would be home.

That first appointment was scheduled on Friday, September 9th. And we've had to come to grips with the fact that she won't be home by then.

And then, I had to cancel the appointment at CHoP, for next week.

We are bummed. I've cried. But our hands are tied. We have done everything that has been asked of us.

I'm not losing hope. I know deep down, that God can still do it. He can. And as much as I want to believe that He will.. I have to be realistic and say that right now it doesn't look like she will be here in time.

I'm brokenhearted and I've cried buckets. Buckets and buckets of tears.

And I'd do it all again- over and over. She is worth it. She matters.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Photo Credit

Last week when we were driving to Lynchburg to visit some friends (since we still had no power at Casa de Bees) I received a phone call from our homestudy agency. I was hopeful when I answered that it was good news.

I hoped it was our phone call telling us that the Interstate Compact process was done and that we needed to make arrangements to bring Annalise home.

It wasn't.

Instead, I was asked to address some specific concerns that were raised during the ICPC process. We were asked to do something that is not normally done during the ICPC process for private adoptions.

I was bummed. I was annoyed. And my frustration was almost at it's boiling point. I almost asked God, "WHY!?" We had had no power since Saturday, we were living in hotels with four children 8 and under (not exactly my idea of fun) and now this.

But I was scared He would ask me, "Why not?" Who am I to think that I'm so special that I should never have difficult or hard moments in my life?

Instead, Brandon and I discussed that we would continue to do whatever it takes for Annalise to come home. We are committed to her, in good times and in bad times. That is what parenting is about, biological or adopted, special needs or typical!

We told our friends about the hurdle that we now had to clear. They prayed for us.

Thursday, I had the pleasure (ha!) of typing a 4 page document explaining away these concerns and enclosing a 16 page document from our insurance company and a copy of a law.

I even managed to crack a few jokes with friends about how much better it would be to write this letter with a glitter pen instead of making a boring, old typed document.

I did it with grace that God provided. I did it with strength that God provided. I was almost joyous towards the end of my writing when I saw how easily the words flowed and all of the resources I needed were easy for me to find.

Before lunch on Friday, I saw the rough draft of the addendum. It was completed and mailed out the same day. (Amazing turnaround!) And now we wait some more...

Our socialworkers at both agencies have commented that we've been quick on our feet to provide the additional information and to set things up. THIS is God blessing this process, friends. Brandon and I have very few "connections" here... and yet (most of) the people we've spoken with have gone out of their way to help us or to give us information about someone that can. We continue to thank God for each of these blessings. Some may choose to see these occurrences as coincidences or happenstance. I see the sovereign hand of the Almighty, expediting parts of our process, so that our baby girl can have permanence in a family that loves her so very, very much. As much as we love Annalise, the One who created her loves her more.

Annalise, not a day goes by that we don't think about you, talk about you and wish you were here. We never imagined the process would take this long and we are doing everything in our power to get you home as soon as possible. We continue to pray for everyone involved: you, your foster family, your birthfamily, the workers at both agencies, the government officials that are completing ICPC, all the way to the postal workers that we count on to deliver these documents and the notaries that make these documents official. We pray that everyone does their jobs to the best of their abilities, with what is best for you in mind at all times.

Heavenly Father, we continue to walk the road that You set our feet on. We are continually amazed at Your planning for our lives and we are excited to see what our future holds as Annalise joins our family. Comfort Annalise and prepare her to join our family. Continue to encourage Julianne and DeLainey especially. Breathe hope and joy into their thoughts about their sister and keep them from feeling that Annalise joining our family is hopeless and that Annalise has been forgotten. Help Brandon and I with the decisions that we are going to be making about Annalise's care. We love You and praise You! In your precious Son's name, Amen.


Saturday, September 3, 2011

Why special needs?

We've gotten this question quite a bit. I've openly shared on our blog that we specifically asked to be homestudy approved for a child with special needs. In fact, I was a bit annoyed when I read our homestudy and it said were were approved for a child that is "healthy or with mild, moderate or severe special needs."

I remember turning to Brandon and saying, "Healthy children have less trouble finding adoptive parents. That isn't where we are called."

I know what God has put on our heart. We are commanded to care for widows and orphans (James 1:27.) When we prayed about how to do this, we were led to adoption.

Personally, I have always had a desire to adopt and I was thrilled. But in our case God has asked us to do something that we never thought possible. When you adopt, you get a nice neat little checklist asking which medical conditions you would accept in a child and you are asked to check "Yes, No, or Case by Case" for each condition. We prayed before filling out our form. We researched the needs we were unfamiliar with. And then we marked them ALL yes. It was probably the single most spiritual moment I've had in my life. I knew without a doubt that I was in the center of God's will. We trusted God to choose the right child for us. And without a doubt, He has.

Annalise's medical history is hard when you see it on paper. We are currently waiting on a copy of her medical records to arrive. In her foster home, those records fill a 4 inch notebook. Our girlie has seen more than ten different medical specialties in her short life. She has already had three surgeries. But when I held her 10 lb body and looked into her eyes, I saw Jesus and I knew that I am exactly where God has asked me to be.

Have you asked God where He wants you to be? And then did you listen? Or did you reason your way out of it? The sweet peace of being in the very center of where He has asked me to be is so peaceful. I sincerely hope each of you find the center of where He has asked you to be too.

Have no fear. We are not naive when it comes to her significant needs. But we trust that God will guide us down this path with her just as He has all of our children.

"...Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."
Matthew 25:40.