Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Why did we adopt? Part 3

Each day God revealed to us about adoption or Africa. It was unreal!
The first day as I sat down to do my daily Bible reading, I randomly opened my Bible up and began reading. The passage I'd opened to was Mark 9:33. I began reading there. By the time I'd read 3 verses, I came to verse 36 which says, "He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, (37) Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me." I got the goosebumps. I didn't need to read anymore than those five verses. God had spoken.
Another day, my friend Emily had left a little gift hanging on my front door knob. It was a beautiful bracelet made in Africa. She just thought I'd like it and since she was home visiting from college, she brought it for me. Hmmmmm....
Each night we prayed that God would show us clearly what he wanted us to do with the dream he gave me. Then each day we waited to see what He'd do.
On Friday, the final answer came. I was at a convention when my phone rang. It was Blaine. He'd been at his last physical therapy appointment. Physical therapy was a frequent appointment he'd had for the last 6 months since the accident. This appointment had been made weeks before. As he walked in for his appointment, the P.T. asked him, "So what's new?" Blaine told him that we were considering adopting. He asked, "Where from?" Blaine sort of shrugged his shoulders and replied, "Ethiopia."
Now keep in mind this is early 2006 and very, very few people had adopted from Ethiopia at that time. Absolutely no one we knew. Or so we thought.
Dave replied, "Really??? Cool, that is where our youngest 2 girls are from. They've been with us for just a few months."
Are you serious??
Got it! Total confirmation.
So the phone call I received from him was almost giddy. He knew God has spoken and he knew what we were to do; adopt from Ethiopia! He told me to make the phone call and do what it to move forward. It was an exciting time!
It wasn't long before we decided that we should adopt siblings because our kids were older and the new child would need a playmate.
We chose Children's Home Society and Family Services because of another answer to prayer. Because of the supernatural way God chose to tell us we were to adopt, we really were conscious of asking Him each and every step of the way what He wanted us to do. We went to their initial meeting and during a break, I began looking through the calendar they make up with pictures of adopted children on each page. As I quickly paged through it, my thumb stopped on a page with beautiful children on it. " I wonder where they are from?" I read their story and as it concluded, it said this family currently lives in _______ (our town)! What? CHSFS a huge agency and does adoptions all over the U.S. But the one page I stop on and read about...this family with Ethiopian kids lives in my little town? More confirmation. Ok, we've got our agency.
After paying the initial fee, we signed up for the earliest pre-adoptive classes that were available at CHSFS. We had to wait 3 months to get into those classes. Ugh...we were so ready. Why did we have to wait, Lord?
We could never have forseen what was coming our way.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Why did we adopt? Part 2

I knew that adoption would bring stress, good and bad, and I simply was not up for it.

Katie later came to me later that day and said, "Mom, I really don't understand why you and Dad don't adopt. We have a great family. We have a big enough house. We have enough love.

I replied, "Katie, you have no idea what it takes to raise children. It's a lot of work and commitment. I just started on a walking program with my friend. We just bought a boat. We just got to take you kids to Cabo San Lucas. Children require a lot of money. People with lots of children can't do all these things."

Mom, we're talking about kids with no family and no home." And then the clincher, "And how do you know that this is the only chance this child will hear about Jesus and one day go to heaven, all because you adopted him."

Oh, stab me in the heart!

I told her that everything she was thinking and saying was 100% correct. But I also told her that as a potential mother to this child, my heart had to be in it. I had to want it and I didn't anymore. The stress of the past several months had taken so much out of me.

We began talking with friends about taking a cruise with them. Boy, if anyone deserved it, it was us! A cruise it was.

Just a few weeks later, it happened. I had a dream.

In my dream, I am on a cruise to Addis Ababa, Africa. I'm shopping in the outdoor market, my arms full of bags. I'm alone but having the time of my life. Then I realize that I forgot what time to get back onto the ship. Finally, I find an English speaking man on the beach and ask him. He tells me he's in a hurry and runs off towards a small boat. I then realize he's going back to the cruise ship, as well. I then put my hands down and take the hands of two children. I never see them but I tell them, "Come on you guys, we have to go now!" That is the end.

When I awoke the next morning, I immediately told Blaine about this dream. I just thought it was so weird. Addis Ababa, Africa? What was that? Why did I remember that name so clearly?

Blaine asked me if there was a place called Addis Ababa and I told him that I had heard of it but it was probably in Saudi Arabia or Iraq and possibly I'd heard about if from the war. It was late March, 2006. I also told Katie and Blake that morning and I told Lisa, my friend who we were planning the cruise with.

The dream didn't mean anything to me at the time. It was just so clear and striking.

A couple weeks later, we found ourselves at the funeral of Blaine's grandma. At the luncheon afterward, a woman was showing the pictures of her adopted grandchildren. Blaine stood behind me, looking at the pictures and commented, "They are beautiful!" Then he leaned down and whispered in my ear, "Get the name of their adoption agency."

WHAT? I almost fell off my chair.

We talked about it the entire drive home and I realized that my husband was serious about this.

Less than a year ago, he had said that adoption could ruin our perfect family. What had changed?

It was the accident. He said that he realized that life was short and precious. He learned that it was not all about us and how early we could retire and have 'us' time. It was about eternity and how we could effect it.

Wow. Ok. I'm on board now. If this is where the Lord has led my husband, I was now listening.

As soon as we arrived home, I called my friend...the one with the cute little 4 year old who sat across the table from Blaine just a week before. She knew about adoption and was the only one I knew who could help me.

She was of course excited when I told her how serious Blaine was about this. We talked, she gave me phone numbers and details but then I remembered something. Each of her 3 adopted children came to their family at the age of 3 weeks old. I quickly told her that I really was interested in adopting an older child. Blake and Katie were 16 and 14 years old. I just couldn't handle a tiny baby at this stage of our lives.

"Oh, if it is an older child you are thinking about, you need to check out Adoption Advocates. I've had them on my favorites for years. They do a great job with the kids. They do adoptions in Ethiopia."

I'm thinking, "ETHIOPIA?? Huh??"

She gave me their website and told me to check them out, telling me that these kids were loved and wanted but for various reasons, their biological parents couldn't parent them. I told her that we were leaning more towards domestic adoption and thanked her for the information.

By then it was 10:00pm and Blaine was getting ready for bed. I stopped off in the office to check out this website quickly.

I can honestly tell you that if I'd ever seen an Ethiopian person before, I didn't know it. I wasn't even sure what they looked like, other than they had brown skin. Now I could pick out the Ethiopian person in a crowd! They have a very distinct look. But then I had no idea!

I read about Ethiopia on this website, looked a the pictures and read a little about the orphanage they ran. Paraphrasing, it said, "AAI facilitates adoptions between children and American parents. Located in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia..."

There it dream!

I called Blaine in and had him read it. He remembered, as well. We both agreed that God wanted us to do something with Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Africa...wherever that was!

We went to bed, silent for a while, while trying to take it all in. What did God want from us? Clearly, He was telling us something.

I told Blaine that I didn't want to be like Jonah from the Bible. God clearly told him to go to Ninevah and he didn't really want to go, so he went the other direction. Well, we all know what happened with Jonah. He got swallowed up by a fish who God directed to take him to Ninevah and spit him out there. Not so pleasant. I didn't want to disobey God they way Jonah did.

So we decided to pray every day until God gave us confirmation about what he wanted us to do. The very next day, it started.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Why did we adopt?

This is going to be an old story to many of you who know us well but for the sake of some people who are newer to reading this blog and haven't heard it, I thought it was high time for a revisit. Actually, I don't know if I've ever shared it on this blog before...hmmmm.
This is going to be long...maybe 7 or 8 installments. I'm going to include all the pertinent info and am going way back to 2005 so it all makes sense. As you read, just watch and see the faithfulness of God who still speaks to us today as He did in the Bible.
Here it is how it all began:
Katie (my 18 year old), then 13 and I began dreaming of adopting a little boy just like her little cousin, Benjamin who came by way of adoption from Colombia. We spoke with Blaine about it and he *seemed* to think it was a good idea so I did some research but when it came time to plunk down some home study money, he decided it wasn't such a good idea. "We have a perfect family right now. Why would we take the chance and ruin it?" Just being real here. Those were his feelings at the time. So we have up on the adoption.
A couple months later, Blaine and his dad (who worked together) were on the side of a highway, checking out some of their property when a woman who was distracted by a bee in her car, swerved off the highway and struck my father in law's truck. Marv was standing at the back of the truck and was killed instantly. Blaine was on the side of the truck and was thrown into the air and landed in the ditch by the highway. As you can imagine, this was extremely traumatic to the family...the loss was enormous.
Blaine was rushed to the trauma center. He had a severely broken femur, broken neck and half of his face was broken to pieces. He spent 2 entire days in surgery repairing the femur and mending his face together with metal plates.
It took him months to recover but on Christmas Eve that year, he walked across the room, unaided by a walker or crutches. What a gift that was! He did it for his mom.
Three months later in March, we went to lunch at a friends house. Dan had experienced a similar horrific accident a few years before and was offering support to Blaine and us. I always loved and admired this family. Their oldest son and Blake were great friends. They were in the same home school co-op as we were. They had 2 biological children and had adopted 3 black American children. This had always intrigued me and seriously impressed me!
Well, that Sunday after church we went to lunch at the Clark's house. Blaine sat across the table from their 4 year old son, Isaiah. I watched that day as Blaine's heart melted for that boy.
As we got in the car to leave, he commented on Isaiah's cuteness. I agreed and off-handedly said, "We should have a little one like that." I didn't really mean it, not at all. It was just a not-thought-through comment. But he replied, "Yeah, we should."
All I could think is, "He didn't just hear what I said or he NEVER would have responded like that."
When we got home, I started doing dishes and began wondering where Blaine and Katie were. I found them in the office looking at waiting children on the computer! What??
At this point, I am NOT INTERESTED! After the past 6 month we just came through, the very last thing I needed was more stress. Do not even go there!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hurdle crossed

Today I find myself sitting in yet another hospital room posting on my blog.

Katie had her surgery yesterday. We were told that it would take 30-45 minutes and then someone would come out and tell us what kind of tumor it was. We were told that if it was cancer, it would take him about an hour to do staging (going to the next layer of tissue to check for cancer and on and on until they don't find anymore). She was nervous going into surgery and so were we all but we all felt confident that they wouldn't find cancer.

God had given me many assurances in songs in the past couple weeks. One day, when I was searching for His voice to get me through, He literally spoke loudly to me through Bob Marley. Yes, I said Bob Marley.

"Don't worry about a thing. Every little thing is gonna be alright." Hearing that gave me such a peace at that moment...seriously.

"Oh, no You never let go, through the calm and through the storm. Oh, no You never let go, every high and every low. Oh, no you never let go, Lord You never let go of me."

But as 45 minutes passed, then 1 hour, then an hour and a half and no one came to tell us anything, I was certain that whatever news we received would not be good. I thought, "She is so full of cancer and they are trying to stage it all so they can give us an idea what's to come." Or "She is bleeding so badly that both doctors are needed to work on her so no one can come out and update us."

The ob oncologist finally came out 2 full hours after surgery to talk to us. I was completely prepared for bad news. So when he told us there was no cancer, I was numb. I could not accept the good news. I listened, asked a few questions but couldn't let it sink in.

He told us that it was a boarderline tumor. It's my understanding that this means that it is precancerous. It was completely contained so that is good. He did do staging just in case. He checked her lymph nodes and the fatty layer on her stomach. He didn't find anything concerning there but we will know tomorrow from pathology what they find. But it is not cancer and that was my concern.

She was given an epidural simply for pain management after surgery. It is helping to keep her relatively pain free. She's itchy from the pain medicine that is going in the epidural but they are giving her Benedryl for this and it's helping. She's been up and walking and is doing great with that.

Tomorrow morning they probably will shut the medicine off and she will have to begin oral pain meds. Pray this goes seamlessly for her.

Thank you for your prayers and support. Your encouragement means so much. I've read them all to her and she just smiles with each one.

Sunday morning, God spoke encouraged me with this song.

"Our God is greater,
Our God is stronger,
God you are higher than any other.
God You are HEALER,
Awesome in power.
Our God.
Our God."

Blessings and thankfulness,

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Our latest hurdle...yep, one more

De and Katie. Awwwww......

See De's face? This is how we are feeling today:) "Yahooooooooo!"

I better explain.

Last week, I took Katie in to the OBGYN for an appointment. She hadn't been feeling right and felt she may have a cyst on her ovary.

The doctor said she felt a mass in her abdomen and sent her immediately for an ultrasound which showed a 24 cm. mass on her right side. They could not see her ovary at all so they felt it probably was a cyst but she needed a CT scan and tumor markers done.

The doctor was very alarmed and even though she remained calm, we could tell she was concerned.

So was I.

Two days before, Aliya had asked me, "What is your greatest fear?"

It didn't even take me a second to think about it. My greatest fear is seeing my children suffer.

And here it was.

My daughter is getting married in less than 4 months. We have the MOST beautiful wedding dress purchased and plans are being made. What if this is cancer? What will happen to everything then? I mean everything. What will we do?

God has brought our family through some real doozies. I know we are not alone in suffering and trials. Many people suffer much, much more than this family has. But most would agree...we've had some big things to deal with...the accident in which Blaine's dad was killed and Blaine critically injured, Blake's cancer scare, the house fire, Blaine becoming paralyzed and now my daughter (my closest friend) has a mass the size of a volleyball in her tiny self.

Yes, I did say the size of a VOLLEYBALL in a girl who weighs 112 pounds and is just over 5 feet tall!

Really? I could not believe we had yet another huge obstacle to overcome in this family.

My mind went completely out of control. I completely related to David in Psalms 31 when he talked about wrestling with his thoughts. I was wrestling big time.

The only way I can describe what was going through my mind is to say it's the emotion you would feel if you lost your little child at the Mall of America and couldn't find them for 15 minutes.

What would you think?

"Who has my child? What will they do to them? Where will they take them? Will I ever see them again? Are they crying right now? Are they scared?" On and on in rapid succession you mind would go. Complete panic! I struggled to control my thoughts.

That is what my mind was doing. Horrible. Agony.

On top of that, I had to be strong for Katie. To act like things were ok and I was unaffected and fine. That's a role I have played before with Blaine and I don't like doing it. So hard.

Finding the words even to pray to God were hard to come by for me. I mostly just said to Him, "Please, God."

By Tuesday afternoon, I began to feel God's peace. I found myself much less panicky and more trusting. Many people were praying and I really began to feel the presence of God holding me up and supporting me.

Thursday was her appointment to review the tumor markers and CT scan. De went with us and we prayed before we went in. The doctor came in and I immediately saw the relaxed look on her face. She told us the tumor markers came back fine...she was looking for a rare tumor that can effect teenagers. The CT scan showed that yes, she did have an ovarian cyst, 24 cm. (huge) but no other organs were involved!

She doesn't feel it is cancer at all and neither do we. Katie will meet with another doctor who will assist in the surgery next Thursday. He is an OBGYN oncologist and will be there just in the rare case that there is cancer present. This is standard procedure in the case of such a big cyst. Her surgery is scheduled for March 21st. She'll be in the hospital 2-3 days and recovery will take 6 weeks.

But she WILL be ready for her beautiful wedding and she WILL be fine!

We are just praising the Lord for His incredible mercy and grace. I'm sure this experience will make us all stronger and even more empathetic to others' suffering. Even though we would never ask God to "Bring the rain" like the song says (we've had to much rain and we personally wouldn't ask for more), we will learn from the things He allows to come our way.

We are even more able to see God's lovingkindness through this latest hurdle in the E. family!

Thank you for your prayers,