Monday, October 29, 2007

Fighting Fear

Thirteen years ago on October 28th, 1994, Kim and I were anxiously awaiting the birth of our first son, when joy turned into tragedy and a birth followed with a funeral. I don't mention this for your sympathy, for God has carried us and blessed us many times over since. We have 4 healthy beautiful children and are anxiously awaiting bringing home our two from Liberia. But the baby shower on Saturday resurfaced many of those same feelings for Kim. Two weeks after her shower in 1994, Kim and I lost Jeremy. She was 36 weeks pregnant, and all the clothes and gifts she imagined using with our son, she soon afterward had to put into storage. So each of the beautiful outfits she has already imagined Josiah getting dirty in or wrestling in, and Gabriella she imagines as a sweet, innocent princess, all braided and bright smiled. We can't wait to squeeze each outfit with them in it. But fear has creeped in. What if we loose our referrals? What if some complication is found with the embassy interviews? What if some family member comes and takes them back? What if? We remind ourselves of verses like

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear - 1 John 4:18

Say to those with anxious heart, "Take courage, fear not. Behold, your God will come with vengeance; The recompense of God will come, But He will save you." - Isaiah 35:4

We're just being vunerable when we say "it's not easy". So we'd just appreciate your prayers for us to continue to be faithful, to continue to trust, and to continue to be patient. We don't want fear to rob our joy. Thanks!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Showers of Blessings / Getting Kids Pushed Back

Kim's best friend Cari hosted a surprise baby shower for Kim today for Josiah and Gabriella - and trust me, that was no easy task. Kim and Cari have been friends since high school(over 25 years) and her whole extended family are our adopted family. They have become aunt and uncle to our kids and vice versa. Also Cari and her husband adopted a sweet little girl from China, and two of her sisters have adopted from Ethiopia. So not only do we have a great resource for questions, but a wonderful source of encouragement.

So about a month ago, Cari called me on my business cell phone, but I was on another call at the time, so instead of listening to the voice mail, I proceeded to tell Kim "could you call her back and see what she wants, i think she meant to call you". She replied "Cari wouldn't make a mistake like that, perhaps she's planning a surprise birthday for me" because Kim turned the big 4-0 on Oct 13th. So i listen to the voice mail as Cari explains she's planning a surprise shower for Kim and that I can't let Kim know. So here I thought I blew it before it even started.

So I got Cari a list of friends and family and the ball was rolling. She picked today - Oct 27th as the best day that worked for every one. Now the trick was to get Kim to Cari's house. Cari and Kim meet quite often for lunch or go shopping but they typically don't meet at each other's house, because Cari and Kim are 45 minutes apart. And in the past they've gone away over night once a year for a "girls getaway". So Cari thought she could pretend to have a getaway south of her house (because she lives south of us), so that Kim would have to drive to her house on the way there. So the plan was to go shopping just south of the Wisconsin border at Gurnea Mills Shopping Center. Kim said "that sounds great, we are going to be at my mom's that weekend and you can swing by Waukesha and pick me up". On the side, Kim was planning an early Thanksgiving in Waukesha because of some family things going on. So Cari's first attempt was foiled. So she quickly had to devise two plans - one to cancel the fake shopping trip that wasn't going to happen, but also to still get her to her house. So due to some scheduling conflicts that came up in her family, they could only go shopping in Oshkosh (still south of her house). But Kim was still insistent on going to Waukesha early (because the kids were off a school thursday and friday). So we had to arrange for Kim's mom to become suddenly sick with the stomach flu, so that Kim would not be in Waukesha until after the party. Shortly after receiving the "unfortunate news" my mother called to see if Elizabeth could spend the night, so that she could join my mom at the surprise.

So Kim arrived at Cari's house around 1:45 this afternoon. Cari said, "come in I have to get something", and as Kim walked in there was a large group of women in the kitchen that yelled "surprise". There were no cars in the drive way so Kim was trying to figure out what was up before it finally clicked. A lot of time and effort was put into it. Everyone brought a bead for a necklace for Kim. They had a special cake. Cari made a framed african themed collage of our children with an African runner on the table. After they ate there were a couple games they played. 1) 20 questions about Liberia 2)Multitasking - they had to balance a basket of rice on their head while hanging up clothes on a clothes line 3) sculpt Josiah and Gabriella out of play dough. And then the gifts.

We were tremendously blessed by people's generosity and thoughtfulness. Kim and I had given away most of our younger clothes to friends having kids because we knew we were done having our own. That was before God changed our hearts about adoption. So many of the gifts were clothing which were much needed and appreciated. Kim said "now I just wish we had our children to put in them". We also received a double stroller and gifts of money. We plan to purchase a dresser for the clothes with the money. Anyways, Kim had a wonderful day, was completely surprised, and we were humbled by the generosity.

Unfortunately we received the following news today regarding scheduling our kids pre-visa interview at the US Embassy in Liberia. Once this appointment is scheduled, we will most likely travel two weeks later: "This date has been pushed out a little due to some emergency cases (Darling Boy, Johema...) where these children needed to get home due to severe medical conditions. This has bumped everyone's appointments at the Embassy. I know it is hard to keep waiting, but know that waiting a few more weeks to get your child home has saved the lives of other children. You can be sure that you are on the schedule and we will let you know as soon as possible when you can schedule travel."

We would rather wait knowing our children our healthy in order to save and help those who are much needier. If you have a moment, I would encourage you to read the story of Darling Boy at - (post from 10/15 The News-Charity is Home)regarding the Alonso's incredible journey. I was deeply touched through their testimony.

Again thanks to all of you who support and encourage us, many of who blessed us today with your generosity. We appreciate it all so much!!!!!!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Blessing or Burden?

Kim and I were discussing the reality of having 6 kids and the changes that will need to take place once Josiah and Gabriella get home. And one of the immediate realities is that we can not all travel in our current van. The Lord blessed us with a Honda Odyssey 6 years ago and it has served us well, but unless we get a new vehicle, we can't legally all ride together. There will be much "bigger" things that will have to change as we adjust to not only having 2 more children, but children from a different culture with much different needs. So we began discussing that and the issue of what a "burden" they will be came up. As we've travelled down this road of adoption we've received all types of responses. Especially having 4 beautiful healthy children of our own (which is already "crazy" you know) why would we ever want 2 more. Of course our Christmas vacations in Bermuda will have to take the back seat for awhile, and my new Corvette, well perhaps i'll be able to afford it on Social Security when I'm 65. But in our society, children are an inconvenience. Children interefere with a "preferred lifestyle" and some parents just can't wait until the children are out of the house. But God has an entirely different view...

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; they shall not be ashamed, but shall speak with their enemies in the gate." (Psalm 127:3-5).

So the next time you kiss your burdens good night, Thank God for the blessing they truly are. And someday very soon, we hope to experience kissing Josiah and Gabriella good night. And soon after will come the runny noses, and dirty diapers, and spilled milk, and we'll thank God for each of those too!

P.S. Saturday night we carved the pumpkins we picked a couple weeks back and wanted to share them with you.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Lots of Snapshots

We were blessed to receive so many updated photos of our children - enjoy!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Gabriella's Adoption Finalized

Just wanted to share some exciting news. We hadn't heard anything since September 13th about the status of either our kids adoption process. So we finally felt the need to request for some info. We know AoH does a wonderful job in all that they do, and many of them go way above the call of duty in many cases. So we didn't want to be just one more burden of asking. But couldn't help ourselves anymore so asked, and we were delighted to find out that Gabriella's adoption has been finalized. They have applied for but have not received her passport yet, so we are still waiting on that. Also the plan was to have their pre-Visa interview in mid-November, but there are no guarantees. AoH received the Visa schedule from the embassy for appointments through November 6th, and our kids names are not on there. So we need to continue to be patient. But we are yet another step closer.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Orphan Reports

Boimah Mambu
Outgoing, very active, and still a baby at heart, Boimah adds a lot of spice to the toddler room. Boimah (pronounced Boy-muh) is a strong willed boy, who is also strong physically. Boimah is very active and energetic. Whether indoors or outdoors, Boimah is almost constantly on the move. He prefers being outdoors, but if he's allowed to run around inside, he's content with that too. Outside Boimah really likes sports. Though he's young, he's already learning how to play soccer and loves participating in relay races. As far as toys goes, he loves cars, balls and just about anything designed for little boys to play with.

Kimberly Peters Calm, even-tempered and reserved, Kimberly is a sweet baby who loves to be held. Kimberly, which is pronounced by the Liberians like
"Kee-muh-lay" is smart, playful and a very good-natured 18-month old. Kimberly is quiet and easy going. She is quite shy in new situations, acting even quieter than usual and not saying a word. But when she's comfortable she will talk to herself, smile, and play with her friends. Kimberly loves to be held and if she had her way she would almost always be on a lap or a hip of one of her nannies.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Bath Time for Brie

Here are some cute pictures of Gabriella (on the right) sharing a bath with two of her friends - Tracee and Bess.
They are all so cute and looking like they are having a fun time washing up.

We are hoping to be getting some more pictures over the next couple days, and with any luck even an update. We are trying to be patient at this stage in our adoption. Thanks for being patient with us.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Starting to Day Dream

Unfortunately we have no new news to report. We had hoped to receive some updated pictures by now from AoH but haven't received anything yet. So I will just share some random thoughts.

We headed up to Door County this past weekend and picked apples and pumpkins. It's become a tradition my mother started several years back and so it's fun to get together with all my siblings and their families. It was a nice day to enjoy each others company, and to take in the early fall colors. While we were there we made friends with another trans-racial family there also picking apples that had an older daughter and adopted a boy from Chicago and 2 other children from Haiti. Haiti is where our adoption journey began, so it was great to connect and hear their journey and get some practical advice from parents who are 3 years past their homecoming. The greatest info they shared with us was about a salon in Green Bay that does African hair very reasonably.

Until we hear otherwise, we are still trusting we will be traveling in 8 short weeks. Kim is starting to get us prepared by making copies of all our important documents. We bought two large storage bins on wheels that we are hoping to fill up with donations and supplies for the orphanage. Mentally I'm going through travel arangements and coordinating where our existing children will be during our 10-12 day journey. It all still seems very much like a dream. I'm sure reality will hit very quickly once we pick up Josiah and Gabriella. In my mind I was even working through saying their names. Because in reality they are Boimah and Kimberly. And so our plan is to address them Josiah Boimah and Gabriella Kimberly, and then eventually drop the second name once they make the association. I wonder a lot how they are going to respond to us and being ripped from their culture and being dropped in the middle of northern Wisconsin at the start of winter. I wonder how they will greive that loss, and how long it will take them to trust us and know that we are here to stay. I wonder how well I will do at sheltering them initially. My nature is to want to show them to the whole world, but I know that during that initial transition, they'll need time to process it all and adjust. I wonder what their personalities are like. I wonder how it will change the dynamics of our existing family. I wonder how noisy meal time and bed time and van time and getting ready for school time will be. I wonder what it will be like the first time they call me "papa". I wonder....

As I shared last month, Kim and I just celebrated 15 years. So we are hoping to take advantage of this trip to Liberia by way of Brussels, to schedule a day in Paris before we pick up our children. Being such a romantic city, it would be great to experience that and connect in a special way before our lives are completely changed by Josiah and Gabriella. Lets face it, there are not too many baby sitters interested in caring for 6 children these days. And not many would we trust with 6. So the days of Romantic get-away weekends are going to be much more infrequent and more difficult to pull off.

So those are just some random day dreams. For now it is all one big question mark. So as we wait for it all to play out, we look forward to sharing the highs and the lows of this journey called adoption.