Happy Birthday to Mommy!

What a year!  How does one even sum it up?

The kids grew another year older.  They are adding lots of new words to their vocabularies which makes talking to them much easier than interpreting grunts and screeches.  We obeyed God and worked really hard to do it as quickly as possible.  We stayed persistent even when unfortunate surprises came our way.  God showed up and did his part.

I really wish it could be that simple every year.  We sought God.  God had an idea and wanted us to follow him in it.  We obeyed.  God showed up when things were beyond overwhelming.  We are thankful and are blessed by obeying.  Simple.  Right?

No.  We are totally human!  But we do have this little tiny piece that wants to be where God is and doing what God wants us to do.  Because we know it's a great adventure we don't want to miss out on.  But it is scary!  And a lot of his plans make me feel uncomfortable.  There is a huge risk involved.  Sometimes financially, most always emotionally.   But someone told me once we don't live life on our feelings we live it on facts.  Absolute truth facts.  The feelings will follow.  We can't let fear determine our steps we must choose to let our faith determine our steps instead.

God showed up.  He gave us a sense of wanting.  A sense that our family wasn't complete.  It started slow. A odd but defining conversation after a movie while I was pregnant with Luke.  Facebook stories, Focus of the Family Radio shows, Friends of Friends, we would find our selves sharing them with each other.  "Isn't that sweet?"  We would say.  "That's awesome".  The stories started coming more regularly and became frequent.  We started teasing each other...we have an empty seat at the table.  We have an empty seat in the car...and even in the truck when we use the bench seat.  

Grant went to see the Doc because my body was done having kids.  I knew it.  I felt it in my soul down deep.  No more.  I don't have the energy to do that again.  Opening up to an honest conversations about adoption was scary.  That was for other people.  The child won't look like us, can we really love it?  What in the world will our parents say!!!  Our three came really close together and I was afraid to tell them Luke was coming....  this was not on there radar at all!!!

It was summer last year.  Driving to and from the beach (all on our own and no one drowned or got lost!!) we talked a lot about adoption.  Getting close to saying yes but knowing the significance of saying yes.  It was a lot!  Life is already a lot with a 5, 3, and 1 year old.  But then God put these friends in our path that were also processing adoption and she had three old brochures of adoption agencies that they were not going to use for other reasons.  I read them on the way back to Oklahoma.

Two weeks later during a nap time Grant said ok let's watch the DVD in that brochure you like.  I think the DVD was made 20 years ago and super outdated.  But by the end we were in tears...we knew we were saying Yes God you can change our lives, our plans, lead us in a direction we never dreamed for ourselves.  Then we said it out loud to each other we are doing this...we are expecting a baby!  ....  A few short breaths later  "Our parents are going to think we lost our minds!".

August 1, 2014 we signed the first application to start the adoption process.  We didn't tell a soul.  Not because it's a secret or because we were ashamed more because we wanted to make sure that we followed through to obey the calling God put on our hearts.  We said yes to adopt and then just followed what God provided and seemed most logical to us for our situation.  We chose China.  Because the timeline and requirements (2 week stay) seemed reasonable to us.  After we chose China we found out that we would be apart of the Waiting Child program. That all international adoptions out of China are from the special needs list.  Since we had already said yes to adoption and yes to China this just seemed like what God had planned and we chose to trust him with this part.  Special Needs to China is a birth mark to serious even critical health issues.  We worked together and came up with a list of needs that if our child had one of those that we could still be great parents to that child giving them all the attention they need in that medical area.  We would have to learn a lot but we could do it while at the same time giving our other three children the attention they need as well.

The social worker needed to talk with our kids and because they can't keep a secret we told them and let them tell their grandparents and watched the confusion on their faces.  But at this point we were already in love with the idea of a little girl on the other side of the world.

International adoptions take a while to complete.  Ours is actually on the faster side... A little over 10 months.  That is a long time to allow God to grow a space in your heart to love a child as your child.
Somewhere around the beginning of 2015 we were LID (Logged IN Dossier) and we were able to choose a child off the Waiting Child Page or wait for a referral.  I just couldn't help myself I had to look on the list.  There was an adorable little girl with a sign that said "Tell my Story"  the more I read about her the more I wanted to know.  Her need was confusing and may have self corrected but we won't really know until we meet her.  I emailed Grant and he wrote back "that might be our Caroline.  Ask to see her file".  Sure enough 48 hours later we said YES!  A little girl born and thankfully found by a police officer in the spring of 2011.  She lived in an orphanage for the first 2 years of her life.  We don't know why but she was unable to walk at that point.  She was then was transferred to another orphanage who happens to partner with our adoption agency this orphanage has physical therapy training for their caretakers and within a short period of time she started walking and is now a bundle of energy and everywhere!

The same summer God led us to say yes He was led a short term mission team to her orphanage and they encouraged the caretakers to prepare her papers for adoption.  Both our files and Caroline's files were ready at THE SAME TIME!  Lots of waiting and paperwork later we were gearing up to go get her this summer.

Then March 31st came.  Grant came home early and wouldn't be returning to work.  He was a part of a company layoff.  A lot of fear came in seeing him walk through the door.  Not financial fear but fear that we would no longer be able to bring our Caroline home.  In a few months God had grown a fierce attachment to a little girl we've never met but couldn't imagine life without.

God provided.  And to be honest I can't even describe the last month.  God had blessed us with enough in our accounts through fundraising and grants that the agency cleared us to go on with her adoption.  Two months rolled by without a job offer.  My photography business was also rapidly coming to a close with no sessions scheduled after May so that I could stay home with the kids this summer and work on attachment with Caroline.  We never doubted we go on with her adoption we just didn't see what the future held with our careers and our finances.

Then the phone rang.  Can you come to an interview this afternoon?  Before the end of that day Grant had a job offer.   The new company allowed Grant to work there despite our departure to China at the end of his first work week.   The night before his first day on the new job I photographed my last session.

This has been quite the year.  A year of obeying. A year of blessings.  A year of lessons learned about Trusting God fully.  A week exactly from my birthday I will be holding my fourth child in my arms.  I am blessed "lucky even" to get to be her Mom.  God offered this child to us and made it all happen.  I look forward to many years to see where God leads us next and to see who each of my children including Caroline grow up to be and if they follow God where He will lead them.

"The LORD has done GREAT things for us, and we are filled with JOY."  Psalm 126:3
Our Caroline Joy... the first picture we saw of her.

Physical Therapy at the second orphanage she at the bottom smiling her awesome smile!

And hopefully you can watch this sweet tiny video.  It was at Christmas time and they were saying Thank You to the American group that sponsors their physical therapy training.

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