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

Saturday, December 21, 2013

In as much

"For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:  Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
-Matthew 25:35-40 (KJV)

I feel like "the least of these" most days. Someone catches me in the hall, hands me an envelope. Pulls me into the lounge, gets out their checkbook. I don't deserve this. We're just trying to help one child. But that's the nature of grace. God gives us gifts that we don't deserve. He started it when He came to Earth in the form of a babe, and grew into the Savior of mankind. We deserve nothing but punishment and wrath, God chose to give us salvation. We are the least of these! I thank God for that!

Been too long since we updated you, and we're sorry. Getting ready for this adoption is quite a process, and with work and school for the boys going, too... Well, sorry, and we'll try to be more diligent!

The support has been pouring in and it's incredible to us. People we didn't expect or friends we hadn't spoken to in a long time, every donation, no matter it's size, is incredibly humbling. It's been a while since we updated, but we are BEYOND the halfway point!
To see how God is moving in our lives, and the lives of those around us is AMAZING! Thanks for your prayers, your love, your encouraging words, and your support. We can't do this without you!

PROGRESS UPDATE:
Commitment contract is done, Home study is underway, and a letter introducing OUR family to the Lithuanian Central Authority has been sent. This is the Lithuanian Government's first chance to get to know us, and we are praying hopefully that they'll accept our request to be matched with Patrikas! Our agency's representative in Lithuania described us after reading our letter as an "unbelievable family," now talk about pressure! But, with God's help, we know we can do it!

Friday, November 22, 2013

I am a puffy-eyed mess!


I am a puffy-eyed mess  

    I can’t shake this sense of urgency; I’ve never felt this before. Pictures like this one certainly don’t make this any easier.  My heart is sick for him and my eyes burn from crying thinking about how long it’s going to be, even in the best circumstances, before we can love on Little-Bit(Patrikas).

"Learn to do what is right. Seek justice, encourage the oppressed, defend the case of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow and orphan." 
-Isaiah 1:17

 

Expositor’s Commentary points out that Isaiah’s “rapid-fire” style hereunderscores the authority and urgency of God's commands to His people(that’d be us tooto obey”Immediate action.  James 1:22 nudges towards the same “Do not merely be hearers of the Word, DO WHAT IT SAYS! (paraphrased & emphasis added)  Go.  Now. Chop, chop.  Shake a leg.  Get off your fanny and start moving!  

 

    So here’s the thing, what happens when the reader and researcher of said verses (i.e. Me) receives the intended message but is faced with the very real, not fast, un-urgent, process?  You wait, that’s what.  Pardon me… I wait.  (You read about me waiting… and hopefully pray too!)  

    Yes, I realize I’m 4 weeks into this.  Yes, I know I need to pace myself.Don’t judge me, I’m new. Patience is not one of my strengths. I’m still accommodating this odd process.  So different than when I was pregnantto add to our family… 1. I already know what Patrikas looks like.  2. I know [some of] how much he needs (developmentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually) 3. I don’t know how long it will be before I get to meet him (at least with pregnancy you know it’ll usually be about36-40 weeks)4. He’s not technically mine yetAnd, 5. There’s a contract involved.  …All of these things are the opposite of having a natural child.  There is one similarity however, that I did not see coming; I am emotional as all get out! (Hence the heartsickness and puffy-burny-crybaby-eyes.)

    As far as an update, our application was approved! YAY! We got our Commitment Contract from An Open Door Adoption Agency on Monday(Today is Friday) and it’s not signed much less mailed yet.  Why, especially with all this talk of urgency?  (I need to preface this with: I’m not saying any of this to pressure anyone into donating.  It’s just what we’re dealing with right now. But feel free to donate as the Spirit leads! J) With the signed contract they also need a check for $2000 for them to send us our Dossier.  This tells them that we are very serious about pursuing Patrikas; it also means that he will be unavailable to anyone else and the people in Lithuania now know our names as Patrikas’ potential parents.

The Dossier, in case you are unfamiliar, is the magic packet of information the governments involved, in our case the U.S. and Lithuania, need sayingthat we are who we say we are, among A LOT of other stuff.  That is to say, we are not human traffickers nor are we any other form of perverse humanness; we are healthy, we are genuine, and we promise to love Patrikas like he was our own flesh.  The Dossier will travel ahead of us gathering various signatures from Idaho’s government, the U. S. State Department, and finally, Lithuania’s Central Authority. 

    Anyway, seeing as how we don’t currently have the full $2000 yet the contract will remain unsigned, our Dossier will continue to be unsent, and we will now get creative in how we can raise what’s needed. Needless to say, I’m rethinking everything in my house reconsidering our need for itso that it can be sold for adoption funding.  Thankfully, the adoption agency is ok with staying in a holding pattern until we have the needed amount to send them.  

    And did I mention that in addition to all of that we also have our Homestudy beginning?  That’s another magic packet of information &reports on us & our family, plus adoption training hours, and home visits. It also has a cost of $1400 but that won’t be due for another 6-8 weeks; that’s ages away compared to the Dossier’s ASAP status. In the Homestudy, every fiber of our household, including all 7 of us, will be turned upside-down and inside-out to ensure our readiness and safety for little Patrikas.  We just received that packet yesterday; it’s pretty intense.  I have to say this though: I do not resent this privacy-violating processthe idea of being scrutinized is not my favorite, but it’s necessary to protect little ones… it’s not personal; its due diligence.  (…Remind me of that later when I’m whining about it, would you please?)

   So generally, I’m starting to feel the gravity of what we’re doing.  It’s pretty huge.  Like I was telling my good friend, and adoptive mama herself, Sharon; I’m not nervous or fearful about the adoption itself; about having a new personality being added to our family dynamicthe magnitude of Little-Bit’s needs, or even having a crib in my room again.  (I’ve already made space!) At this point, as I’m sure will be the case throughout, the hard part is battling the unbelief that God will provide and, in looking at this ginormous stack of papers that is our contract, the legal aspect of it.  The possibility of missing some key sentence worth of vital information that could cause a big fat delay and this is just the beginning.(Remember that sentence for when I start on the Dossier… *Ugh!* Expect neurotic, OCD-like behavior) As for right now, just like with a pregnancy,I’ll consider it labor only in the form of paperwork… hard and sometimes tedious work for a dang good reason.

     As for the unbelief, I’m thankful for God’s mercy and scriptures likeMark 9:23-24 showing us that Jesus himself addresses this subject directly and that we can and should ask for help in the midst of our unbelief to overcome it and that we have the freedom to ask & receive forgiveness for itThere’s also 1Cor. 10:13 where Paul tells us that we arenot tempted beyond what is common for man and that God, who is faithful, always provides a way to stand up under it; whether that be through friends (or husbands) bearing the burden with us speaking truth into our life; scripturally smacking us back in line if needed, or allowing us to be extra sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s correction, guidance, and reassurance, or the most obvious; scripture itself...  Whichever way it happens, through all of this, regardless of how early into the process I am… I get to experience God’s grace and mercy in ways I’ve not been able to before now and for that I’m deeply thankful.


In Christ,

Meg