Monday, September 1, 2014

One of Our Missions



    I don’t know if we’ve mentioned this in our blog before but one of our missions in this adoption is to be proof to others that adoption is doable.  I know what our reasons were for not going forward with an adoption and I don’t think we’re that different from other people. Our desire is to show is that it’s not far-fetched, unattainable, too hard, too complicated, and most importantly… it’s not too scary.   We’ve prayed over this particular point extensively.      
     Since I’m on the subject in this post (by design) I feel I should clarify something…  We totally appreciate Todd asking for prayer on our family’s behalf! We truly appreciated him acknowledging our adoption process to the congregation!  However, there may have been a misunderstanding about questions… We genuinely appreciate it when people ask us about the adoption.  Adoption is a total mystery to most people and are happy to help explain it!  What Todd meant was that maybe the questions could be “How can we pray?” rather than “When do you leave?”  We wanted to let you know that we appreciate either. Your questions are welcomed!
       (Back to the post…)  We’re not saying everyone should adopt… although if we all did there would no longer be an orphan crisis.  The point is… don’t do nothing; there’s still plenty of need out there in many different areas!  Our enemy would love nothing more than for us to be frozen and ineffective because of fear.  …Fear of the unknown, fear of messing up, fear of rejection, fear of opinions, fear of our past resurfacing, fear of being inadequate… All Jesus wants is a willing, obedient heart; leave the rest to Him.  Seriously, it’s that simple!  We humans try to over complicate things, but really all that complicated over-thinking is just a hindrance to whatever it is Jesus wants for you. 
    Hebrews 12:1 tells us “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders, and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”   It goes on to point out in v.2 that Jesus is the Author and Perfecter of our faith… He knows the most effective way to grow YOU.  Your life’s story is being written by Him!  Throw off what holds you back! This verse requires an energetic reaction; a response. I could site many scriptures that support how when we’re walking in obedience that God is behind us; the Creator of heaven and earth has our back!  (Ex. 33:13-14, Jer. 29:11-14, John 14:21, Rom. 8:28, Heb. 11… to name a few) That fact should inspire and empower us! THIS is where our confidence and faith comes from… not from ourselves.  Words cannot describe the fullness of joy the Holy Spirit has given us knowing we are exactly where God wants us to be; it dwarfs any fears we may still have…
    SO… since we’re obeying what Jesus has asked us to do, does that mean it stops being scary?  …Uh, no.  It’s still scary AND we’re going forward in faith.  Both can co-exist.  We just choose not give the scariness too much attention.  Acknowledge it, fine, but don’t dwell on it because that would please the enemy and he’s not the One we’ve set out to please in this.
          Our adoption is well within an average adoption time frame for Lithuania. (Each country is different so if you’re thinking of adopting internationally study up and pray for God’s direction!)  We’ve had a relatively bumpless road thus far, nothing uncommon to Inter. adoption. (And we definitely appreciate it!) Our bumps will come though, you can’t do God’s will without opposition; it’s inevitable. Given how many health issues our little one has there are several potential bumps right off the bat, not to mention all of the unknowns!  But I can say even now, it will all be worth it because I “know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” (Rom. 8:28)   …And we do love Him.  We need to remember though that “for the good” does not usually mean easy or fast or fun.  It means that this is what is required to help transform us into who Jesus wants us to be. (Rom. 12:1-2) 
     The Holy Spirit empowers us to accomplish God’s will; with Him all things are possible!!  My personal theme verse for this whole thing starting way back in Oct 2013 is Jer. 33:3 “Call unto Me, and I will show you great things!”  So that’s what we’re doing.  It’s been an incredible experience; He has shown us great things already!  I can’t wait for what is still to come… 

A progress update…  We got our I-800 immigration application approval!!!  This means that, God willing, we will be getting our travel date this week!  That would mean we could be leaving for Lithuania by the end of THIS MONTH!  WOO HOO!!  (*insert happy dance*)  Also, last week John-Patrik got the package we sent with the doll I made, a photo album with all of our pictures, and some clothes.  The ladies there were so thoughtful and took pictures of him opening it and playing with his new doll.  They say he hasn’t put it down since that day. (Need a Kleenex?  Yeah, me too!)  This month he was moved to a room for slightly older children and hasn’t been able to play with the original doll he loved so much and what I modeled this one after so he was very happy. The house mothers there call it his little girlfriend.   (The blur is the doll that he keeps swinging around.)

All for Him,
            Meg and Rich

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The waiting is the hardest part...

Don't panic, this isn't a blog update about how much I love Tom Petty music!

Well, it feels like it took a long time to get to this point, but...
The light at the end of the tunnel is NOT an oncoming train! Our signed, accepted referral is officially in the hands of the Lithuanian Central Authority, and updated medical stuff has been translated and reviewed by us. Our next batch of immigration paperwork is ready to go in the next few days. This means, we could get a travel date in as early as four weeks! We could be in country by September!

 Speaking of medical documents, they contained some Great News in that department! The earlier reports of autism appear to be incorrect, and he'll be less disabled than we had initially anticipated! Turns out that he CAN walk with help, he LOVES to hug and be affectionate, he DOES pursue and interact with his environment, and he's very active. He's still well behind an average four year old (obviously...) but the situation will be different than we had planned for, in a good way.

We've received a copy of John-Patrik's birth certificate and are now familiar with his "back story." Note that we'll be keeping those details private out of respect for him and for his birth family. This information will help us to bond with John-Patrik, help him with the grieving process (something all adopted children go through), and help him understand why we've been blessed to be a family.

 We can also now send John-Patrik a package! This is really exciting! We should have something ready to go by next week. I hope to include some things for the staff and other children as well.

In a recent picture we received of our boy, he was holding a handmade doll. The doll's name is "Rasa," the Lithuanian word for "Dew." We saw it in several pictures, and John-Patrik appears to be rather attached to it. So... Meg decided to recreate it for him, and she banged it out in one evening. Isn't she awesome!?! 
Here it is:
 photo 20140729_172720_zpsjtz5azcc.jpg
Here is John-Patrik holding the original Rasa:
 photo Patrik4_zpsd0ddc5be.jpg

Things moved so quickly at the beginning of our adoption process, it's been difficult at times for me to be patient now that we've entered the waiting game. We've been waiting for the paper trail to abate, and for the remainder of our funding to finalize. We're very close, we can see the finish line, but we haven't been able to cross it, yet. I've had to remind myself often that God is the one running the show, I'm just along for the ride. It's my duty to be obedient to His Word, and trust that He will make the plans, and allow us to participate in the glorious things He has laid out for our lives.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (KJV)
He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

 That's the beauty of it, we're not supposed to know how it unfolds, otherwise we wouldn't need to have faith. If we knew ahead of time how it ended, don't you think we'd probably get a good chance at screwing it up? So, I'll go ahead and continue to have faith in God's plan for this adoption, since that is how he laid it out for us to operate.

So, how can you help John-Patrik, and his new family? First, and foremost, pray! Too often, we wimpy humans exhaust all of our available options, then 'resort' to prayer, when that should be our FIRST option. Do the other stuff, but by dang, pray! Specific prayer needs right now include the children and the staff at the orphanage, as chicken pox is making the rounds there. That would be hard, so let's support those great caregivers as they love on those children. Down's Syndrome kids are at higher risk for secondary infections related to chicken pox, so keep that in your prayer as well. Second, if you feel so moved, donate on our behalf, through Reese's Rainbow, our GoFundMe, or the GoFundMe for Gathering Family. Donations to Gathering Family don't just help us, but also helps another family that is adopting internationally right now!

Thanks for reading our blog! God bless!
Rich and Meg Theisen


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Good News! And, slightly less good news!


So, first the Good News… We’re OFFICIALLY MATCHED!! YAY!! A very large, important, step that we are now past. This means that John-Patrik is ours according to the Lithuanian Central Authority! They read through our Home Study, went through our paperwork, and liked us and don’t require any additional documentation or information. Excellent! (We like you too, LCA!!)

And now for the slightly less good news… We will not be traveling until Aug. / Sept. (*sigh*) Yes, I’m disappointed. VERY. I thought we were just weeks from traveling and the much awaited meeting of our son. But I was wrong. And this is why… In our “Adoption Process Guidebook” that the agency gave us it goes from sending off your Dossier in section 5, to section 6: “Preparing to Travel”. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE our adoption agency and would refer anyone to them! They’ve been efficient, attentive, and supportive! We’ve never had to wait more than I couple of hours to hear back from them about anything; they rock! (An Open Door Adoption Agency out of GA.) They just need to update the guidebook is all. The other reason I thought we’d be leaving sooner is because the I-800A approval only took 30 days instead of 70. And it did knock off a month and a half, but not enough to go get him before August. So now that we’re matched with our Little-Bit a bunch of other stuff can finally happen in order for us to move forward, each item needing a few weeks respectively:

Our contact in Lithuania receives the official proposal matching us to John-Patrik from the Central Authority

She translates it and sends to us via email.

We ask questions and/or accept the proposal.

Our contact gets permission from the LCA to visit John-Patrik…

She visits him, talks to caregivers, teachers, doctor’s, takes new pictures. She sends information and pictures to us.

We formally accept referral.

Article 17 letter issued

We file the I800 with USCIS (second half of the I-800A process for immigration)

US Embassy in Lithuania issues the article 5 letter.

We file the DS260 immigrant visa form online

Agency’s lawyer takes documents to court and the computer randomly assigns us a judge

Once judge is assigned, the lawyer speaks to judge and gets court date

Then we plan travel.

Also, while all this is happening John-Patrik will be getting another round of many doctor and therapist visits and an updated, full-disclosure, medical report. Whereas before we got a brief overview, this report will be much more detailed.



Although the later travel is disappointing, I’m really trying to keep perspective and stay positive.
 First, God’s timing is best… Period. 
 Second, the disappointment cannot overshadow the awesome news that we’re officially matched; He’s OURS!!! (WOO HOO!!) 
 3rd, having our travel time later puts us into off-season pricing which means food, airfare, and lodging will be significantly less expensive and that is a really good thing!
4th, It also means that we have plenty of time to comfortably raise the remaining funds.
5th, is that I don’t need to think about how my garden will get harvested, canned, frozen, & of course eaten. Nothing will be accidently wasted! 
 And the 6th reason I can be positive is that now I have even more time to study Downs Syndrome.



No, I didn’t want to wait even longer, but this really isn’t about me. Like, at all. This has been God-driven from day one and, as much as my humanness wants to take ownership of it, it’s not mine. It takes effort, diligence even, to keep myself from trying to take it out of God’s perfectly capable, Mighty hands. We just really wanted to meet John-Patrik, and we will… just a little later.



In other news… Thank you to everyone who donated for our garage sale! We raised a nice amount that gets us that much closer to Little-Bit!

AND, Thank You to Jody Price for the changing table! (My back thanks you too!) And Thank you to Lisa Melo who donated the crib, portable highchair, shopping cart cover, sheets, and pretty much John-Patrik’s entire 4T wardrobe!! You guys are awesome! 



Feeling very blessed.



All for Him,

Meg (and Rich)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Nearly GO time!


This week it’s finally hitting me. Thankfully, between life and Jesus’ help, I’ve kept the anxious nerves and obsessive thoughts at bay. With 5 sons, 20 chickens, 2 ducks, 6 rabbits (2 of them pregnant), 2 dogs, and 1 cat… there’s never a shortage of things needing to be done around here. Not to mention getting the garden planned out and in the ground and planting 20 hybrid willows (windbreak), 3 blueberry bushes, 43 raspberries, 2 blackberries, and 25 daylilies. So, keeping my mind busy has not been a problem. I was halfway done planting all this stuff when we got our approval (I-800A… permission from our government saying we are ok’d to adopt from Lithuania; can't move forward w/o it!) in the mail when I realized the waiting was coming to an end very soon. whoa.

That’s when it started sinking in… time is running out to get projects finished, the house prepared, raise the remaining funds, and to get the last things we need. No biggie, right? ugh. We’ve been trying to get some projects done over the last several months in anticipation of not being able to work on them after we get home with John-Patrik. Just a couple more things left. As for the house… we still need to do a garage sale (this Saturday! 5/24, our house!), we did some painting, and we’ve been making some changes to accommodate Little-Bit’s needs and his presence in our family. For example, we downsized our couch so we’d have room to work with John-Patrik easily during therapies and whatnot. We also sold our counter-height kitchen table to get something safer and more user friendly. I even cut off most of my hair to help simplify my life so that I can better focus on what lies ahead. (Long hair was fun but it took some work to do it; now it only takes me 5 min!) I also have 2 knitting projects I’ve got to finish! I could be wrong but I might be an overachiever…

As for the fundraising… We’re trusting God for the remaining amount that we need… He’s already provided every penny thus far through people just like you; I have no doubt He’ll see it through. We’ve been so thankful for such blessings!! But as for the remaining things we need…. maybe our local friends could help us?

Here are a few things we still need if you’d be willing to part with them for a while or even donate them we’d sure appreciate it!

  • Changing table (to preserve my back)
  • Visual Monitor (being raised in an institution he may not make a sound when he wakes up knowing it wouldn’t get him anywhere… sad, but common)
  • Therapy swing
  • Bath Seat that could accommodate a 24lbs+ (32” tall) child


Just a few short weeks until life as we know it gets flipped on its head. It’s pretty exciting! We’d appreciate prayer about our trip to Lithuania…

  1. That the adoption can be completed within this initial visit.
  2. That the instabilities concerning the Ukraine and Russia will settle and/or not affect our trip.
  3. Travel Safety and peace as the boys will still be here in Idaho with family
  4. When we get there; that John-Patrik will find comfort in us to ease his fear.

We have his crib set up in our bedroom (since December), all made and ready for him…. now all we need is him!

Photo
In Christ,
Meg & Rich

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Do Something!

So, it's been a while since we updated you all. Sorry about that. Life gets in the way of us making the time so sit down to update this, but things are very much still happening. Frankly, there isn't much movement at this point to report on, but here's what's happening

There's a song by Matthew West called Do Something. The message is simple, and poignant...

"If not us, then who?
If not me and you
Right now!
It’s time for us to do something
If not now, then when?
Will we see an end
To all this pain?
It’s not enough to do nothing
It’s time for us to do something"

That's how we feel. This is our opportunity to Do Something! To show people that adoption is doable. It's a real, tangible thing that can bless the life of a child, their lives, the lives of their church family, the community, and yes, bless the world!

So, you should do something! Give, adopt, act, serve, help, SOMETHING! Pray for guidance in your own life as to what that Something that God wants you to do is, and for the courage to get off of the couch and GO DO IT!

The progress update...

The home study is complete and we've been officially approved to adopt. All of our paperwork (our dossier) is either at our agency in Georgia or with the Federal Government in Dallas (our I-800A application). Our agency is getting our paperwork translated into Lithuanian while the US government is processing our application to allow John-Patrik to immigrate to the US as our son!

What does this mean? It means that in 30-90 days, the waiting will be over and we will hear from the Lithuanian Central Authority 15-30 days after the processing, and they will give us a travel date and court date with 30 days notice. That means, that we could have a travel date in 45-120 days!

It's really happening! It's not just an abstract idea about something we'll be doing at some time in the future, we're really going to spend 20 hours on a plane and go to an eastern European country that we've only seen on the internet to pick up the boy that God has chosen for us to take into our family!

So, thanks for checking out our update, and again, our apologies for the lengthy delay. A public thank you is in order for Sharon Freeman who organized and pulled off an adoption shower for Meg! Thank you also to the many, many people who gave us gifts and helped with the shower. Also, we just cannot thank enough the dozens of people, friends and strangers alike, who have donated to our fundraising effort. We are so close to our goal, it's very humbling!

In God's love to each you!
Rich & Meg
Here's the official video for "Do Something" so you can listen right now...



Thursday, January 30, 2014

But God...


Have you ever been apart of something so driven by God that, even though you were working at it, in reality, God was actually the One accomplishing it all?  As in, unmistakably so?  To experience it is almost indescribable. It’s like I’m just watching it all happen.  We sign our names, fill things out, write a few reams worth of background information, and get things notarized.  But God has been the One raising the money, blessing the people who touch our paperwork with a mind to be efficient, cutting through busyness to have people return emails, and more than promptly.  These things could not possibly be done by us. It’s all Him.

Initially, when we considered adoption the mile-high pile of insurmountables (cost, paperwork that has to be perfect, tons of international red-tape, etc.) was enough to stop us dead in our tracks.  There’s SO MUCH, we thought.   …Which made it so much easier to talk ourselves out of it.  Again and again. However, those thoughts were not filtered through God’s word.  They weren’t considered in light of discipleship. They weren’t paired with faith. Faith, as a matter of fact, had nothing to do with those fearful thoughts, we realized. But God, in His mercy (Some of my favorite words in the whole bible) was patient with us. 

The phrase in scripture… “Behold, I am doing a new thing!” comes to mind. Like He’s excited and wants you to get on board!  Listen, when God has a mind to do something new, and blesses you with the opportunity to be apart of it, 1. Wake up and accept the opportunity!, and 2. He makes it happen!  (I don’t mean to burst your bubble, but God doesn’t need you to accomplish His will… He allows you… us, to be apart of it.) What He requires of you is a desire for faithful obedience.  You’re not going to be awesome at it the whole time, you’re just not. The temptation to doubt will be all around you. But God rewards faith with more faith!  He builds us up.   HE writes our life’s story; we are His workmanship. HE is the author and perfecter of our faith… and this is what that looks like.  It starts with that first, scary, step towards obedience. But here is the great news: There is blessing in obedience! Not only is it going to be “OK”, it’s going to be really good!
 
I LOVE it when God blows my socks off.  LOVE IT. I pray for it.  In fact, if you know me personally, you’ve probably been in the room praying with me when I’ve said it.  And do you know what?  I think He loves it too.  One of the incredible things that has happened through this adoption is that I’ve have had the enormous privilege of watching our boys’ faith grow.  They have seen, with their own eyes (figuratively, of course) God’s hand moving through this whole thing.  We have a running total on our huge white board in our “school room”/family room of where we are with the adoption fundraising. (Let me just tell you, it was an act of faith just in the decision to do this; I was afraid they might not see the numbers change and lose heart. I repented of my unbelief and have since felt so stupid, I wish I could un-think it!)  But God, in His grace, has provided. Incredibly so!  They have watched that number shrink steadily. He has continued to provide, and through some of the most delightfully unexpected sources!  It has nothing to do with the money. I’ll say that again, it has nothing to do with the money.  …And everything to do with watching the Creator of all things direct His attention on tiny us by supplying what we need.  In humble amazement, I am stunned by this thought.  He makes me giddy.  And my kids are starting to understand just how big our merciful, gracious, God really is and it just tickles me to no end.  I wonder if John-Patrick will ever understand all of this?  I hope so.

All for Him,
Meg

p.s.

Our home study is nearly complete! It should be done in 2-3 weeks, and then our final official dossier sent to the Central Lithuanian authority! This means we could be travelling by April or May!!! Praise God!

p.p.s.
Reece's Rainbow, a great Christian organization that provides help for families seeking to adopt special needs children, has approved our request for help! What does this mean for you? There is now a TAX DEDUCTIBLE way for you to donate towards our adoption expenses. While personal donations to us are NOT tax deductible, a donation to Reece's Rainbow (a 501(c)3 corporation) is. Many people have helped us financially, and we are SO grateful for their sacrifice on our (and John-Patrick's) behalf!

View our Reece's Rainbow page HERE.

We pray that you will prayerfully consider donating towards our adoption, not because you can get a tax break, but because God has moved you to do so.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Moving Forward

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20 NASB)

While it has been nearly a month since our last update, it doesn't mean that things haven't been happening. We continue to be blessed with the love and support of our friends and church family as the process continues to move forward.

We received our dossier guidebook from our agency in Georgia. It's monstrous, overflowing a 1.5" 3-ring binder! So much information! It's got steps of the process, samples of forms we'll be filling out, and more stuff that I (Rich) still need to review. 

The home study is underway. The most difficult part of that to this point was finding a physician's office that also had a notary. Once that was done, it was seven(!) physicals including lab work and TB testing. Then, the home study agency accidentally shredded our check payment so they could actually do the study! Not really a big deal, somewhat amusing, really, but it did slow us down a couple days while they waited to receive another check. 

The first of three home visits was yesterday. It went superbly! I was incredibly anxious about the home inspection process but we did fine. All my worry over the fact that I didn't scrub and/or sterilize all the baseboards and every other square inch of our (already regularly cleaned) home was for naught. Once again, I was reminded that God's got this and I should relax and trust Him!

Our case worker for the home study is great, and was more than happy to volunteer to be a resource for us after we bring John-Patrick home. (John-Patrick is what we'll be calling Patrikas after we get him home.) That has been a great relief and blessing, just knowing that the help is available from trained professionals. Our next visit is scheduled for the 27th. Your prayers are appreciated as that visit nears.

Also, our agency's in country representative has received and forwarded our introductory letter to the Lithuanian Central Auhority. This letter is the Lithuanian government's first chance to meet us and decide if we are an appropriate match for Patrikas. Your prayers for the hearts of those reviewing this intro letter is also appreciated!

Meg and I are also taking sabbaticals from our leadership positions at Christ  Community Church as we prepare for the adoption. Pastor Dan wondered how we will prepare for something that we can't prepare for, and it reminded me of a quote I'd heard from Kung-Fu legend Bruce Lee. He said, "The way of no way is the way." 

That is the method I'm using. I'm trusting God that he has placed the correct tools, resources, and people in my path. I'm using those things to prepare in every way I can. Reading books, talking to people, researching things online, any and everything I can reach.  Has it helped me know what to expect? No, but I'll have no reason to be disappointed, either, as I have no expectations. I know that God will help us to be prepared, and He's doing that right now. 

Otherwise, our financial needs are still there, and we've been very blessed by the generosity of those close to us. We're two-thirds of the way to our goal! Thank you again for your generous gifts, we are so grateful for your blessing of us in this way!

Right now, it's really starting to sink in that this process is really going to happen. It's really going forward. We could really be traveling to Lithuania by April or May! It's exciting and spiritual and terrifying all at the same time. Just, wow!

I opened this post with Christ's admonition to us the we go and make disciples. My prayer as we go through this adoption process is that I can be a man who does that. If I am able to encourage you in some way to become a doer of the Word and not just a hearer, then my prayer has been answered. 

God bless!
Rich