Monday, June 15, 2015

Father's Day 2014

We decided to go to church with the intern. It would be good to go out of the apartment for a while. We looked forward to going to church because we did not get to on our first trip to this country. I was also eager to see a native friend we had met the last trip that lived behind the church. She had prayed in her native tongue for me to have another baby. The missionaries we were with translated. I cried.

Getting ready that morning was so neat. I had been collecting clothes and planning for her to be in them for so long. Little girls are so much fun!

Brushing our teeth together

Ready for church
First photo with both parents

At church we found out that our friend was in a village for a wedding but her son that we had met before was there. I gave him the message to pass along to him mom that her prayer was answered through adoption! The church service was long and hot but really neat. Listening to praise in other languages is awesome. The guest preacher spoke in Fulani and then it was translated into French. Some Canadian missionaries quietly translated it to English for us from the French.

Baby Girl slept in the baby carrier almost the whole three hours. After the service we talked with an American missionary that we met briefly the trip before. I asked her if the bump on Baby Girl's head was a bug bite. She told us that it was a boil and likely a Staph infection. We contacted the director immediately and she and the orphanage doctor met us at the apartment.

They went and got meds right away and we started her on antibiotics, nasal spray,, and pain reliever. I would have to put hot compresses on the boil to try to draw out the infection. Although it was awful, I believe the level of care we were able to offer her right off the bat helped with bonding. Thankfully, the infection cleared and her swelling went down and she healed up quickly.

At Last

I woke with anticipation. The Prairie Daddy still slept.

I took a shower and got refreshed for The Arrival. Shortly thereafter, I heard the knock on the door and raced to get The Prairie Daddy up.

Together we walked in to meet our daughter. I cannot describe the feelings that you go through in those first few moments. Everything in you that built up to wanting to grab her up and never let go gives way to the realization she has no idea where she is or who you are. You guard her and protect her by being cautious and slow. You softly talk and give her space as she stays close to the one she knows. You wait. You kneel. You offer. You hold back.

There was something in me though that felt like she didn't look like my daughter. Her face was somehow different. I felt weird about feeling this way. There was a reason behind it though, she had a swollen face and a bump on her forehead. More on that later.

Here is the video of the introduction:

And this is the email I sent to our family and friends:
"They brought her to us this morning.  I am desperately in love.  She cried miserably for two hours but wouldn't let me put her down.  We got her to stop briefly for a moment or two here and there.  Thankfully she clung to me, even though still distressed.  She took two bites of peanut butter, a sip of water and a bite of bread but that was all she'd eat. 

After a couple of hours, I put on the baby carrier and strapped her in it.  A few minutes later she was sound asleep.  Bless her heart, she wore herself right out!

She's sleeping next to me on the bed.

Later we'll see if she'll eat and then we'll walk to the market with (The Intern) and we'll make rice and sauce for dinner.

Much love,
A Mama and Daddy Finally With Their Daughter

When she woke up we were like glue. She wanted nothing to do with anyone else. The Prairie Daddy had to be quite careful because she was scared of him. Poor guy, every time he'd look at her she'd cry.

She let me feed her

 And change her

And played with me

 When no one else was around she'd even begin to try to speak.

 When no one else was around she'd even begin to try to speak.

That first night we put her in her new pjs and gave her the toothbrush we bought her. And then we put her in the little bed in the corner of our room and she went to sleep.

I was overwhelmed that night. When I finally crawled into bed I remember having a panic attack inside. I felt like bawling and I wondered, "what in the world did we do?" I was shaking with fear inside and had to pray through the horrible emotions that swelled up privately within my soul.

Thankfully, I woke the next morning and the panic was gone. We were with our daughter and it was Father's Day!

On A Wing And A Prayer

The day came.

We loaded up the car. Dropped the dog off. Took The Prairie Kid to auntie's.

Went to the airport. Checked in. Had friends surprise us to see us off. Ate some lunch. Went through security. Waited.

Took this picture. Too bad you cannot see the GIANORMOUS butterflies and excitement in my being.

And we boarded the plane to Salt Lake City. And then our flight to Paris. And then our flight to our daughter's West African birth country.

It only took us 25 hours of travel to get there. Only. ; )

Thankfully, everything went smooth. No delays, no problems. The first time we traveled to West Africa we were held up in DC and Belgium. We were so glad that we didn't have delays this time.

The airport can be the most difficult part of a trip to this particular West African country as well. We were thrilled to have been there before and know the ropes, and have everything work out smoothly, including getting our luggage just fine.

We. Made. It.

The director of the orphanage picked us up and drove us across the city to the apartment we would be staying at. She explained that the next morning she would bring us our daughter. Wow. In just 12 hours we would be with our daughter!

We soaked in all the sites, smells and memories of this capital city we'd been too once before. There is no place like it. Immediately you realize how incredibly blessed you are in America. And your senses and mind run wild from the over-exposure to such a different life. Culture. Climate.

We arrived at the apartment and met the intern we'd be staying with. We ate and chatted and turned in for a restless, hot, humid and anxious night's sleep.

The Roller Coaster To The Finish Line

Nothing about the adoption process is simple. And we found that out at every turn.

And when you find out the adoption has been finalized in the in-country courts, and the child is OFFICIALLY yours, but your immigration system will not yet let you travel, it is brutal.

And takes months.

We finally had received word to book our trip because we were set to go in late May 2014.


We contacted the adoption airfare agency and got some awesome flights and deals. We were leaving in TWO WEEKS.



And then. Yep. Then it happened. We were told that things weren't so certain. Our baby girl's passport wasn't issued and they were struggling to get it.

Oh. Crush. My. Heart.

We wrestled for days with prayer, communications across oceans, flight change options and decisions.

Nothing was working out.

It was going to cost us $10,000 more dollars to change to cruddier flights. It was too risky to leave and not have her passport issued.

What to do???

And we felt God nudge us to GO IN FAITH. And we had friends and family agree. GO.

So we nervously (OH SO NERVOUSLY) decided to GO. We were trusting the Lord for the passport. And that is no little thing to trust Him for in a 4th world country.

Our pastor called our family forward the Sunday before we left and the church prayed for our trip. We asked the Lord for favor and the passport.

And we packed and printed and checked and double checked. 

Can I just tell you how long two weeks feels when you've waited for something for so long and then you're right on the cusp of the finish line.


Baby, we're almost there!

What You Cling To

The Lord. While you wait to process through all of "The Gaunlet" you have to cling to the Lord so that you don't go nuts. Well, you go a little nuts anyways, but the Lord helps maintain some semblance of sanity.

I appreciated reading this post from another adoptive mom when I was going through The Gauntlet:

Every random month or six months, never knowing how long or when, we would receive one of the best things ever: new pictures of our daughter.

One month after being matched we received this picture. I thought it said, "Mama, please come and get me!"

Then, one of the families went to pick up their kiddos and made this video. I cannot tell you how crazy it was to see motion picture of our daughter. Painfully crazy. Even though the snippets were milliseconds, it was such a gift. I cried and cried and watched and watched. The music did me in every time.

I froze the video at the places where she was captured and made photos out of them. Zooming and staring. Dreaming and longing.

And as if these others weren't torturous enough, a fellow waiting adoptive mom shared this heart-wrencher. And, of course, I tortured myself more, watching, crying, praying and longing. 

But then 5 months went by without anything. That was tough. And, finally, we received the next batch!

And, as if they previous still photo didn't say "Mama, come and get me" enough, this one was about broke me. Does that face not seem like an "orphan poster child" face? She was already about 14-15 months old in these photos.

I longed desperately to make that sweet face light up in a smile.


I tried to figure out her personality from just these few glimpses. She seemed quiet, reserved, observing and not-so-demanding. 

And these photos were sent. Oh, sweet sleeping baby girl, Mama misses you terribly. Just wait, I will come to get you!!!

And, finally, two more months later, we saw a smile! But all of the sudden she seemed SO GROWN UP. Where did my baby go?  Here she is at around 16 months:


And just before we were able to book our trip and go hold this precious girl in our arms, we got these cute photos. She was 21 months old

Friday, June 12, 2015

Immediate Attachment

And one day we were surprised with a match. And we had a face, a story and a picture.

It was so different, and yet had interesting similarities, to having a biological child. You dream of seeing their face. You wonder what they will look like. And then they "arrive."

 There she was right in my hands. Preciousness. I stared at the picture, tracing my finger over every inch of her face, her hair, her plump, sweet arms, her adorable fingers, her pierced ears. I kissed her lips and nuzzled my cheek against hers. I cried and smiled and treasured and held that first picture. I carried her with me wherever I went, even if she was just a piece of Kodak paper with imprinted ink from my HP Officejet.

I ached to make her smile. I ached to hold her. I wanted to jump on a jet plane and race to her. I had no idea how long it would be until I could actually do so. And I naively thought it would happen oh-so-much sooner than it really did.

She was 7 months old in this first picture.

And Jesus sweetly reminded my longing, hurting, aching, I NEED MY BABY heart that He Himself was there with her. He would watch over and protect and care for her until she was in our care. I even asked Him to whisper English in her ear and make her giggle.

The Gauntlet

The process to adopt is insane. You spend thousands of dollars, and what seems like thousands of hours, to prove yourselves over and over and over again. The motivation behind the work is amazing, however. I don't know if there is a stronger motivation than our kids. Even if we don't even know who they are yet.

There is an ongoing crazy cycle of hurry up and wait. Work like crazy, submit, pay and wait. And wait. And wait.

You celebrate every step and then realize it just puts you on the path to another wait before the next step. And you wait. And wait.

You check your mail as if your life depended on it. Really, it feels as though your awaiting child's life depends on it. One day, sometimes even one hour, feels like a thousand years. Time seems to suspend itself in almost a standstill slow motion. Torture. Torture. Torture.

You sometimes feel like you're going crazy. You wonder, ponder, plan, dream, fret, pray, and stir.

And on and on it goes. There are no definite timelines. The finish line constantly moves. The roller coaster twists and turns and jerks you around and exhilarates and excites and makes you sick and scared. There are disappointments, surprises and long periods of nothingness in between.

All you can do is run to the Lord, throw yourself at the foot of the cross and trust He is really going to bring things to fruition and His timing is not wrong.

It is a painful but awesome opportunity to grow in faith and patience!

Plain As Day

We had not even fully started the adoption process yet, only re-certifying with our local DFS for local foster/adopt. We did not quite know what God was going to do. I was walking through the next days with a daze of "Wow. That was amazing. But now what?"

Everywhere I seemed to turn over the next four weeks there were Scriptures, stories, pictures, songs and social media about the nations, the poor, orphans, etc. The Prairie Daddy and I talked and prayed and finally felt like there was confirmation from the Lord to pursue international adoption.

We had one real connection to international adoption, and it was a strong and personal one. When we had gone to West Africa a year and a half earlier, we visited an orphanage. It changed me, wrecked me, forever. And we had friends in this country that we could contact.

We sent an email out and were quickly connected to a center for abandoned infants. We found out the first steps of the process and began looking into what this adventure would entail.

Right off the bat I was discouraged with the cost. I had reached out to agencies to find out what that might look like and it was overwhelming.

But God is never overwhelmed.

In fact, before we even shared with anyone that we were going to pursue, He used a loved one to share with me that a financial situation was about to unfold for us. And low and behold, the amount shared was almost the same amount the adoption was quoted to cost.

Only the Creator of the Universe can pull of things like this.

I was again amazed. It was so surreal. This was the stuff that happened to other people. But this was the story He was writing for us! Wow!

When God Speaks

It was February 27, 2013. I sat before the Lord crying out to Him regarding our desire for our family to expand. I cried. I prayed. And I released my desires through pen on the pages of my prayer journal.

I then moved on in prayer. Listing requests on behalf of my loved ones, church, community, etc.

Then it happened. An unexplainable, undeniable, spiritual happening. He gave me a name. I knew it was the name of a baby girl. It totally freaked me out. I had never seen the name before. But I saw it that day and I knew how it was spelled and how it was pronounced. I wrote it in the margin of my journal. I cried and shook and wondered. I was confused and puzzled, excited and awed. Was I crazy?

I finished my prayer time in fear and trembling.

I then looked up the name and found out it was Hebrew and means "to ascend, go up." I knew it was an adopted baby girl (bio children don't "ascend" from their moms!). 

I still had so many questions. When? Who? How? Where? 

And what would people think of this crazy story? What would The Prairie Daddy think?

But the Lord had more plans for me that day. The Prairie Daddy unexpectedly joined me for lunch and I knew I needed to share. And as I did, the tears that leaked from his eyes and streamed down his cheeks confirmed for me that this was indeed for us both that precious day. 

We knew not what the Lord would do and when, but we knew we could trust the Lord to lead. 

A little girl was in our future who had been named by God Himself.

What Just Happened? Back Story

I only went through some of the most adventurous, wild times in life while I took this blogging hiatus. I think we were so invested in our season that blogging and keeping up with posts was just off the radar. There are times in life where this is such a healthy, needed outlet for me. And, obviously, there are times where it doesn't fit the bill.

Maybe I will back-track and fill in the empty space with the memories of the lapse. They are worth sharing and it would be great for the sake of recording.

Let's start with the back story.

The Prairie Daddy got burned in the Fall of 2012. After he began to heal and we were thinking about life, we felt the Lord move us toward re-certifying for foster/adopt. Our heart's desire was to add a baby to our family. We just didn't know the details God had planned. It had been years of prayer and surrender but we felt the nudge to contact our local Department of Family Services and re-certify.

At the beginning of 20123, a private newborn adoption possibility crossed our radar. Oh how I wanted this to be the answer! For 8 grueling weeks we would get a little piece of information here and there. And then, before any doors closed on earth, the Lord spoke to my heart and I knew I had to let go. This wasn't going to happen. Then the doors officially closed.

I grieved hard. No matter how much I prayed and how many times I had given the hope back to the Lord, I still had become attached to the idea. It was painful.

But God is good, sovereign, perfect and "not slow in keeping His promise." 2 Pet 3:9