Not my will, but your's be done.



Friday, December 31, 2010

It's New Year's Eve. 2010 has been an amazing year for the Carlin family. While Josh didn't make any more money than in years past(in fact he made less than in 2009), and our house isn't any bigger, we don't have any new cars(or any new used cars, for that matter), and our bank account is still just as small as it used to be...I can still honestly say this was the most awesome year ever. God has been working over time in our little family. He's opened our eyes and our hearts to new things. He has lead us down a completely unexpected path, and has blessed us every minute of our new journey. There is no other place I rather be, than right where God has us at this very moment.

I don't want to give you the impression that this year has been a problem free bed of roses, because it hasn't. We've had our fair share of rough patches. Going through rough patches is very different when you are in the center of God's will though. I'm not minimizing the roughness of the things we've gone through; I am maximizing the goodness of God to see us through those rough patches.

I almost hate for this year to end. But with 2011 come incredible new adventures and the blessings that come with them. After the year we have had this year, I can only imagine what wonderful things the Lord has in store for us for this next year!

My prayer for you, for the new year, is that you will find yourself smack dab in the middle of God's will for your life. That you will follow him radically and without abandon. And that you will experience the amazing peace that comes from knowing that you are loved by the creator of the universe.

2011 is going to rock!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Almost Done...

with our dossier!!

We are done with all our immigration paper work and fingerprinting. I had my fingerprinting appointment on Monday, and Josh had his done today. The poor thing had to work all night last night. He got home at 8 this morning and slept for about 3 hours before he had to get up and drive to Houston to be fingerprinted. When I woke him up late this morning I noticed that he had bandaids on two of his fingertips. I almost had a heart attack! I figured he had cut himself during the night while he was working. You can NOT be fingerprinted if you have any cuts on your fingers. But I freaked for nothing. His hands just had little cracks by his nail bed from his skin being dry. I sprouted 2 new gray hairs for nothing. Besides the whether being awful to drive in, everything went smooth with his little trip to Houston and back. We are all done with our USCIS stuff!

Now we are just waiting on our I-171H, which is our official USCIS approval. This can take weeeeeks, but I am praying that we have it back in 2-3 weeks. I would really love to have our dossier in the mail in about 2 weeks, so that it has time to get to where it's going, get translated, and be fully ready to be submitted to the SDA as soon as they re-open at the beginning of February. It is looking doubtful that we will have our immigration approval by mid-January, but that's what I'm praying for.

There are a handful of papers that need to be notarized. By now we are getting really good at having papers notarized, so this is no biggie at all. Earlier this week we got the copy of our 2009 taxes from the IRS. I was so stoked!! I was starting to really worry that something was wrong and it wasn't coming. Several new gray hairs over this also. But, it's here, so I can stop worrying. I think the gray hair is here to stay, unfortunately.

The best news of all, though, is that we FINALLY got Josh's employment letter from the HR department. And miracles of all miracles, it was actually done correctly! It's really hard to explain to someone, in writing, the exact way that these documents have to be done. God had his hand on it though, because it was done great and has already been approved by the team in Daniel's country that checks all documents.

Tomorrow we will be having that handful of papers notarized, and then I will be sending a big stack of documents off to Austin in the mail to be apostilled. I'm really nervous about doing this, but I'm just going to have to trust that it will be ok.

Sick ward update:
Ray is doing great. The baby is doing much better. Still snotty, but no fever and he seems to feel much better. I, on the other hand, have developed a yeast infection in my right breast. I have never had any issue like this before and it is not fun. It feels like Kellen has a mouth full of razor blades when he nurses. Ouch! To make matters worse, my right boob is my good boob, when it comes to nursing. I'm a jersy cow on that side, so he does 3/4 of his nursing on that side. Sigh. Tomorrow I am going to get some purple medicine my sister told me about that should clear it up.

I'm doing the final touches on having all of Daniel's stuff set up and ready for his arrival. I plan on having it done in a week. January 7 is orthodox Christmas, so it'll be my little Christmas present to him to have all his stuff completely ready.

Gotta run! The baby is fussing to nurse and I can't avoid it any longer. Time to bite the bullet.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Past Week

What a whirlwind the past week has been! Last Sunday morning, Ray woke up sick. Her symptoms mimicked her illness from a little over a month ago. You know the one that landed her in the hospital for 5 days?! Nothing hurt. Just a super high fever. I'm not even going to mention how high, lest some of you mothers might faint. Let's just say, that her doctor said that she gets the award for highest fever that he has seen this year....by over a degree. Yikes! Anyway, similar to before, no aches or pains, just a super high fever accompanied by just feeling awful, as you can imagine. This time, we pumped her as full of fluids as we possibly could from the get go, and luckily we narrowly missed hospitalization. Praise the Lord for that though, because she would have most likely still have been in the hospital on Christmas. The doctor confirmed that it was indeed another severe UTI. He set her up with an appointment with a pediatric urologist at Texas Children's Hospital, since no doctor around here will do the bladder test that she needs done, under sedation.

By Christmas Eve she was finally fever free, but still felt yucky. She is just now almost back to normal. Poor girl was sick.

And now little brother is sick. He got a snotty nose that progressed to a full blown cold. He now has fever and just looks plain terrible. I can tell the poor little guy feels rotten. Add to the equation the vote that was supposed to take place mid-week last week, and needless to say, I haven't gotten much sleep for over a week. Josh got up at about 7:30 this morning and took over sick baby duty, so that I could get a few hours of sleep. I slept like the dead for 3 hours straight. I could have slept until noon, but I was afraid at what I would find when I emerged from my bedroom.

The past week hasn't been all bad though. In fact, in spite of the sickness and stress of the vote, it has been a very good week. The good news about Daniel's country not voting to close, in itself, over shadowed any other problems that we were facing.

The vote news was not the only good news that we received this past week though. I don't know if you have taken a look at Daniel's grant through Reece's Rainbow lately, but it has grown ALOT in the past week. And when I say alot, I mean like, took an $11,000 jump! Yes, seriously, I do mean

E.L.E.V.E.N

T.H.O.U.S.A.N.D

D.O.L.L.A.R.S.

Josh and I spent a couple of days with our jaws on the ground and at a loss for words. We have trusted from the very beginning that God would provide funding for our adoption. He promised to provide, if we would just obey him and walk by faith in the direction he called us. Even though we believed that he would do it, it is only human nature to question him at times. I found myself praying things like, Uh, God. You know how you said you would provide and all? Well, we are getting closer and closer to traveling time and we are still about 20,000 dollars short. I'm just wondering when you were planning on provided that, because I'm kinda thinking sooner would be better than later.

Silly me, so quickly forgets how he has been faithful to provided for every single step of our journey thus far. Why in the world would he stop providing now? Oh, me of little faith. In a matter of just a couple of days, the amount of funds we needed was more than slashed in half. We are right at $8000 dollars away from what we need for our adoption to be completely funded. Josh and I continue to marvel at all that God has done in our lives in just over two months since we commited to adopt Daniel. We've lived a lifetime, and it's been amazing. It hasn't always been easy, but I wouldn't trade this journey for anything in the world. We have been able to sit back and just watch God's hand at work in our lives. That, my friends, is priceless. To know that we are in the center of God's will for our lives, and that he is using us for his good pleasure, does not hold a candle to any other victory that I have accomplished on my own.

I want to thank all of you who have chosen to be a part of this journey with us, either through donations, prayer, encourgement, or some other form of support. It has been overwhelming to see God's people rally together. I LOVE how God has used each and every one of you in your own unique way. This is not just our journey and our story. For each of you who have joined with us in your own way, this is now your story too. God has used you to fulfill his command to care for orphans. We just can't thank you enough.

Ok, I'm going to run before I start getting emotional. Hopefully, I will get a chance to post some Christmas pictures soon.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to those of you who prayed so fervently about the vote. God has heard our prayers and is acting on the behalf of those little ones!! Thank you, Lord!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Vote News!!

The vote did NOT take place. While they did discuss the bill, they either chose not to, or did not have time, to vote on it. It will be rescheduled for sometime after the new year. The GREAT part is, when they do vote, it is going to be a vote about whether or not Daniel's country will join the Hague convention, NOT a vote about closing adoptions with the United States. Praise God!!

As of right now, we are not sure what the ramifications will be to our adoption, if/when they decide to join the Hague convention. There are some "worst case senarios" floating around, but I honestly don't think that any of them will keep us from Daniel in the long run. So while the time table is a bit unsure as to when we will be able to get to Daniel, it is looking like we will definitely be able to get to him at some point. And best case senario is that our adoption will continue with a hitch(this is very much a possibility), and that we will be traveling to get him in March-ish.

I will post more in the future about why Daniel's country joining Hague would actually be a good thing, but for right now, please continue to pray that our adoption will be able to continue without delays.

PRAISE THE LORD, for no permanant closures!!!!! That news is the best Christmas present ever!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Lastest Vote News

Bill 4313(relating to a possible halt in adoptions from Daniel's country) is scheduled for a second reading and vote on December 23 in the morning. If it gets postponed again the earliest it can be rescheduled is the week of January 11-14.

Please continue to pray that the bill is changed to continue to allow the adoptions of children with special needs, or that it is voted down completely.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Part 2

I'm so sorry that part 2 of our adoption story has been such a long time coming. When I wrote part 1 I really intended to finish the story in the next day or two, but I didn't get the chance so it kind of got pushed to the side. If you missed part 1 or need a refresher you can read it here. As Paul Harvey would say, And now, the rest of the story....


July 1, 2010


The majority of this day was probably like any other. Typical Texas summer day. Hot and humid. We probably went swimming. I don't recall what we had for dinner or what particular activities we did that day. It was just a normal day.

That evening, after the kids were in bed, I got on the computer and was surfing around. I ended up on blogger, which was a rare thing for me those days. I had been so sick and tired during my pregnancy with Kellen, that I pretty much quit blogging and reading blogs all together. It was during my pregnancy though, that God started doing some amazing things in mine and Josh's life spiritually. Looking back I see that God was just paving the road to where he was leading us. I love how he does that. Rarely does he just drop a radical life altering plan on his children, without first preparing their hearts.

So there I was, surfin' the net, and I started to do the blog hop. To this day, I'll never know how I ended up on the blog that changed everything. I've gone back in my mind several times and tried to figure out how I ended up there, but I can't figure it out. I guess I followed the blog chain somehow and God guided my clicks.

I found myself on the blog of an adoptive mother who had recently returned from Eastern Europe with her two new daughters in tow. If you will remember, I hadn't read any adoption blogs for over a year. I casually began reading the post I had been linked to. It was a heavy hearted post. She talked about the conditions that her daughters had lived in when they were orphans.


She talked about laying rooms.

And medicated children.

And urine soaked cribs.

And institutions.

And neglect.

And dehydration.



And then she showed pictures of the ones she had to leave behind.


It was too much for my heart to bear. I sat at the computer sobbing. While I had always had a special place in my heart for orphans, I had never felt anything like this. The grief I felt for "the least of these" felt unbearable. The scales had been removed from my eyes, and I felt so utterly overwhelmed by the desparate nature of their situation. I didn't even have that, "I have got to DO something" feeling yet. I just felt grief.


I was still sitting there crying when Josh walked in. Crying is not a regular thing for me, and he looked shocked to see me that way. He tried to comfort me and asked what was wrong. I just mumbled that I had read something sad and that I was going to take a shower.


I stood in the shower crying and praying. At first I didn't even know what to pray because I just felt so sad. Something in my heart had been changed and I was pretty sure that I could not just go on being the same person I was before. I had no idea what I could do, but I knew that I had to do something.

I prayed,
Lord, my heart is so full. I can't sit and do nothing. You have got to put mine and Josh's hearts on the same page. Give us the same desire, whatever that desire may be.


After praying, the best I could through the emotions of my broken heart, I got out of the shower feeling the Lord's peace. He would work his will in our lives in his timing. I got dressed and walked back in to our bedroom to find Josh's sitting in front of the computer crying. Hard. Apparently, I left the blog post I just read was still pulled up on the computer screen. When I got in the shower, Josh had sat down and read what I had just read. I found him in the same state that I had just been in. His heart was broken. He turned to me and said, "We HAVE to do something. Now." I told him that he really didn't have a clue as to how much adoptions from Eastern Europe cost. I explained that from the research I had done in years past, that adoptions from those countries are expensive and the travel is long and you have to make more than one trip to adopt. I totally expected this to deter him. Money had been the main issue when we had discussed adoption in the past. I saw hurting children. He saw dollar signs. Lots and lots of dollar signs. Dollar signs that represented money that we did not have, or have any hopes of having anytime soon. Being that he is the sole provider for our family, I don't really blame him for being concerned with the money aspect of such a huge commitment.


So I reminded him of all those dollar signs that were floating in front of his eyes the last time we broached the topic of adoption. It didn't deter him in the slightest. He said that he didn't care about the money, that we "had to do whatever it takes" to get to those children and rescue them.


Where had my husband gone, and who was this man?? Had the Lord seriously answered the prayer I had just prayed like 5 minutes ago in the shower? The same prayer that I had prayed over a year ago when I surrendered my adoption desires to the Lord? When I had prayed it I truly thought that I was giving up my dream for good. Now God was giving it back to me. Josh was not only fully on board with adopting, he was passionate about rescuing orphans. God ignited something in Josh's heart that my poking, proding, and pushing never could have. My best efforts might have gotten Josh to reluctantly go along with my wishes. But the Holy Spirit had lit a flame in him that no one on earth could put out.

In the months that have passed since that time, Josh's passion hasn't wavered in the slightest. The hand of God writing on the wall could not have made the Lord's call for us to adopt any clearer. We have never doubted it for one minute. We may have had times of discouragement and fear, but never have we questioned if this was truly were God has lead us. I don't think that it is possible for God to have made it any clearer to us. It took a couple of months for me to navigate through my fears of what all adoption from Eastern Europe entails, but once again, Josh never wavered for one moment. We had no clue how God's plan would be accomplished in our life. It seemed so incredibly impossible. But we have been shown, time and time again, that with God, all things are possible.

The end of this story is yet to be written. I fully believe that the Lord's hand will continue to be on us as we follow him in obedience. There are still aspects of this adoption that terrify me, but I trust that God will give me the strength to obey him. In spite of the fears, I look forward to the rest of this journey. I long for the day when I can hold my little boy in my arms. God is good, and he is able to do exceedingly more than I could ask or even imagine. Praise be to the one who fulfills my dreams in ways I never thought possible. He is truly the giver of all good things. I cannot wait to see what he has in store for us in the months to come.

Friday, December 17, 2010

I overheard....

Luke and Ray talking this morning.
Luke: "I'm adopting a boy and girl from China. Where are you adopting from?"
Ray: "I'm adopting a sister from Hong Kong."(Poor thing. That girl needs a sister.)
Luke: "Ohhhh. Does she have a special need?"


From the other room I was cracking up! But I was also smiling. From the very beginning of this adoption journey, months before we committed to Daniel, Josh said that he thought it would be awesome if one day our children chose to carry on our family's ministry by choosing to adopt children of their own.

We want nothing more for our children than to love the Lord with their whole heart and follow where he leads them. Whether that means they are the CEO of a large company, or a trash man, we want nothing more for them than to be in the center of God's will....where ever that may lead them.

Hearing them talk about where they want to adopt their future children(or sisters) from, warms my heart that they already developing a heart for the things of God. If God leads them to adopt one day, I will be one happy grandma!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Paperchase Update

Well, the 5 Days of Christmas Giveaway is over, and boy was it fun! The Josh, the kids, and I had the best time drawing the winners every evening. Thank you again to everyone who contributed!

Now for the paperwork update:
-We got our completed homestudy. It, and the other paperwork that goes with it, were approved by the team that looks over the documents in Daniel's country to make sure that the SDA will accept them. That is GOOD news.
-Sent a notarized copy of our homestudy to USCIS to join our Application for Advanced Processing of an Orphan Petition, which has already been submitted and received.
-I called USCIS to see if our case had been assigned and officer. The lady I talked to said that it hadn't. The next step with our immigration paperwork is to be given and appointment to be fingerprinted with the F.B.I. The lady said that our case wouldn't be assigned an officer until they had received our homestudy(I hadn't sent it yet, at this point). Once they had our homestudy they would assign us an officer and then schedule us for our fingerprints. I was a bit disheartened to hear that. It would take several weeks for them to receive our homestudy, assign us an officer, and then schedule our fingerprints. AFTER our fingerprints are done it can take several weeks to get the "all clear" from that. AFTER that they will make a decision about whether or not they will approve us to bring Daniel into the country. Needless to say, we wouldn't be getting our approval by the beginning of February, which is when we were hoping to have our dossier submitted to the SDA. Quite a process.
Instead of hanging up the phone and crying(which is what I felt like doing), I explained to the lady over the phone that we were adopting a waiting child and told her from what country. I went on to tell her that said country is considering closing all adoptions with the US. The lady said that she knew about that, and then told me to hold on. She came back a few minutes later and said "I hope you weren't planning on going out of town for Christmas, because your fingerprint appointment is December 27th and 3:00."
WHAT?!?! I freaked out!! I almost did a back flip, and I can't even do back flips!! That lady is my new best friend, and I don't even know her name! She was very sweet and told us good luck with everything! She even laughed at Ray crowing like a rooster in the back ground. I hung up the phone and paced around the kitchen for about 15 minutes saying "Praise the Lord!" over and over and over. I'm pretty sure that Josh thought I had lost my mind for good this time! I'm thinking that it is looking good for us to get our approval paper by the end of January. At least that's what I'm praying for!

-I faxed in Josh's medical paperwork and my re-done medical paperwork to be checked over. Mine passed. Josh's didn't. Apparently there was a small marking that resembled a possible scratch out, so Josh's had to be re-done. I despise bringing paperwork back to be re-done. The dr's office was nice about it though, and even did it that day. I faxed Josh's re-done medical to be checked, and it was approved. Done with all the medical stuff. 'Bout time.

-We got our notarized state criminal background checks in the mail. They passed the check too.

-Applied for two grants. Heard back from one saying that they are on hold for the rest of the year and not giving out any more grants and to check back with them after the first of the year. Haven't heard anything from the other one. With our adoption being independant, as opposed to through an agency, we are VERY limited as to what grants we can apply for. In fact, there aren't many at all who even accept applications from people who are adopting independantly. Sigh.

-STILL HAVE NOT GOTTEN THE LETTER WE NEED FROM JOSH'S WORK. I'm getting frustrated and irritated, to put it nicely. They payroll lady tracked down someone who was willing to do the document. So I gathered ALL the necessary paperwork and included very. specific. instructions. The secretary at Josh's office overnighted it to the HR lady who said that she would do the document.
She never did it.
Now all the paperwork I sent her has expired. I had to do somemore and bring it back up to Josh's office. Still waiting to hear something about it. I'm ready to get it back because I have a VERY strong feeling that it isn't going to be done right, so we'll have to have it redone. Just call it a hunch.

-Luke's room(which won't just be Luke's room for long!) is fully ready for the arrival of his brother! There are bunk bed AND a toddler bed. Ray graduated to a big bed, at the same time that we got bunk beds for Luke and Daniel. I hated to take apart the toddler bed, since Kellen will be in it in a year or so, so I just found a place for it in Luke's room. When Daniel gets here we will probably put him in the toddler bed for a while, since that it what he's used to, and then transition him to the bottom bunk. For now, Ray has claimed the bottom bunk. She has slept in it every night since we set it up. She sleeps better now that she sleeps in the same room with Luke. Guess she didn't like being alone, poor thing.
Beside the beds being all set up,we also had a chest of drawers given to us and we put it in the boys room. I cleaned out Luke's closet and we are fully prepared for Daniel to get here! I even have a few clothes in the dresser. All we need now, is Daniel....

We are SOOOO close to being done with our dossier. We just need the letter from Josh's work. Our immigration approval. A notarized copy of our 2009 taxes(waiting for that to come in the mail...You can say a prayer that it gets here soon!). And a notarized copy of our actual Petition of Adoption. And then we are DONE, baby!! 3 of those 4 documents I am waiting to come to us, the adoption petition can be done anytime. We just need to fix some of the wording on the document we have and then get it notarized and that's that. SO CLOSE to being done with the paperwork.

Of course all of these documents will have to be apostilled in Austin, but I've gotten pretty good at that by now. I can actually do it by mail this time, if we get all the paperwork in time.

Prayer request of the week:
-That we get the letter from Josh's work
-We get the copy of our taxes from the IRS(I requested it around the end of October and they said that it can take up to 60 days to receive it. It has almost been 60 days, so I'm starting to get nervous. I don't have 60 more days to apply from another one.)
-The vote next week. I haven't heard anymore news about it since I posted that it had been postponed from this week to next week.

I really do plan on finishing the story of how God called us to adopt. I got busy with the drawings and just haven't done it yet. Maybe tomorrow....

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

3 Winners!!


And the winner of the candles is.....

JANA LEBLANC!!!


Now, for the extra prizes!!

First we have a pretty blue and yellow bracelet.
I bought this bracelet off of etsy as a part of another family's adoption fundraiser. Isn't it pretty? The colors are for Down syndrome awareness. The neat thing is, those are also the colors of the flag of Daniel's birth country. Neat, eh? I think so. The lucky winner of this sweet bracelet is....

RUTH TOMPKINS!!


The last prize is 4 flower hair clips.
I got them thinking that I was going to get into some kind of bow business. Then I realized....that I wasn't. The lucky winner of all four of these cute bows is.....

THERESA WALKER!!
(She actually has a little girl, so that worked out perfect!)


Thank you very much to those of you who participated in the 5 Days of Christmas Drawing! Your donations have blessed us beyond measure. I truly wish that I could have given a prize to everyone.

Merry Christmas!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!!

And the bracelet goes to...

DEBBIE JORDAN!!

Tomorrow is the last day of the drawing. I will be drawing for the candles! I also may throw in another goodie or two while I'm at it!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

And the Christmas Chest goes to...

MICAH MAK!!!


I will be drawing for the bracelet tomorrow evening!!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

And the next winner is...

CYNDEE WILLIAMS!!


Sorry for the late post. We went took the kids to the Live Nativity and went looking at Christmas lights. Just got home and got everyone bathed and in their pj's.

I'll post the winner for tomorrow's drawing around the same time tomorrow night. Exciting!!

Just in case you needed an incentive...

Pretty, eh?

Day 2 of the 5 Days of Christmas Giveaway!

Later today we will draw for the winner of the diamond earrings!! While the diamond ring may be gone, it still isn't too late to enter the drawing. We still have diamond earrings, a Christmas chest, a gorgeous bracelet, and some blinged out candles to giveaway! Plus, I just may add a few goodies to the last day of the drawing.....

Stay tuned!

Friday, December 10, 2010

And the winner is......




CHERYL NAPPER!!

Day 1 of the drawing later today!

Only 6 more hours until a winner is drawn for the diamond ring!! There is still time to enter if you haven't done so already!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Good news on the vote!!

On November 30 two amendments to the bill were filed. While we do not know what the amendments are, but we are PRAYING that it changes the bills in a way that will allow the adoptions of special needs children to continue. After this, the vote was scheduled for the morning of December 16.

Today the vote has been pushed back to the week of December 21-24!! This is wonderful news! We are PRAYING that the date being pushed back means that they are taking the time to change the bill before it is voted on again, instead of passing it in its current status.

The Legal Division of Daniel's country has already recommended that the bill be rejected as is, because it will cause conflict with other area of the Family Code that are not being changed.

While the fight is not over yet, this is progress in the right direction!

Continue to pray that the bill will be rejected as it is!
Pray that the ammendment that have been filed leave room for the children who WILL NOT be adopted in their own country to still be allowed to be adopted by families in the United States.

PRAY!

The lives of HUNDREDS of children depend on it!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

2 more days!

Only two more days to get your entries in for the 5 Days of Christmas Giveaway! I will draw around 5:30 on Friday evening for the winner of the diamond ring!

Remember, even if you don't need a diamond ring, the diamond in this ring is the perfect size to be made in to a diamond pendant necklace, and then you could sell the gold to Cash for Gold!

AND, if you don't win the diamond ring on Friday, your name is still in the hat for the other 4 days of drawings!! You just can't beat that!

Now stay tuned for part 2 of our adoption story. I promise that it is coming soon!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I think it's time to share....

our story.

Our adoption story. How this whole journey began and why. This could be a novel, so I'm going to do my best to summarize and just hit the high points. We'll see how that goes.


I've wanted to adopt...for like, forever. I had a desire to adopt long before I ever had the desire for biological children. I wasn't one of those typical girls growing up who day dreamed about their wedding, and their future children. I never sat around wondering how many kids I would have and what their names would be. I just didn't. I didn't not like kids. I baby sat alot as a teenager and was comfortable around kids and thought babies were cute. But I didn't desire children or motherhood. I was super boy crazy, so there was no doubt that there would be marriage in my future(hopefully sooner, than later), but the whole white-picked-fence-stay-at-home-mommy-of-several-children thing? Um, no thanks. A hot husband and a cool career was pretty much my life goals as a teenager. One day, when I was married, successful, and ancient(like 35), I would have a couple of kids. I had no real desire to give birth, so I thought it would be cool to adopt. Help someone less fortunate or whatnot. So when I became this really old dried up 35 year old, I just adopt me a couple of a kids. That was my plan.


Then college came around, and after a couple of years of trying to head down the career path that I thought I wanted, it came to decision making time. The career I was pursing was 7 day a week(usually), 12-15 hours a day, high stress, life consuming job, that didn't leave room for a family. Not only that, but it was going to take me a good 8 years or so, from that point, to finish all the necessary schooling, training, and qualifications, to be able to achieve my desired career. By that point(about 20 or 21 years old), I was starting to feel my first motherly pangs. I started thinking, maybe it would be cool to be a mom one day(not that I had despised the idea before that, it just had not ever been something I had given much thought to). So I decided to abandon my career dreams and pursue a more "family friendly" career. Teacher education. That sounded like a good career for someone who was going to possibly be a mom one day. Plenty of family time in the evenings and weekends and summers, because Lord knows I wouldn't be staying at home, homeschooling or anything crazy like that. Sometimes it's fun to look back at the plans I had for myself and just laugh.


Over the next couple of years my desire to have children grew, but the desire to adopt never faded. After Luke was born you would think that the completely amazing and forever life changing experience of becoming a mother would diminish any previous desire I had to adopt a child. But it did just the opposite. After Luke's birth it was like a switch flipped in me. I began to realize what an amazing gift a child is. An utter miracle. The idea that there were children out there somewhere in the world that didn't have parents that felt about them how I felt about Luke, was appalling to me. I would love that child, where ever he or she may be. That warm fuzzy feeling of "it would be so neat to adopt one day", turned in to a burning desire of "I KNOW adoption is in my future". I knew that I was capable of deeply loving a child that I didn't give birth to. I wanted to be a mother to a child whose mother either couldn't, wouldn't, or didn't want to be a mother.

Josh and I get married and over the next several years the topic of adoption is brought up. Often. I won't say that Josh completely resisted, but he wasn't passionate about it like I was. We'll just say that he was ambivalent, at best.


We had Raylen. That didn't slow me down too much. I dropped bits of adoption information here and there. I knew that it was not the right time for us to adopt right then, but I didn't want Josh to think that I had lost interest. I guess I thought if he heard it mentioned enough, that it would get stuck in his brain or something. He was still ambivalent though.


Then we had Treyson. I stayed in a grief induced mental and emotional fog for months after his death. Once the fog lifted, I was back on the adoption train. FULL FORCE this time. Treyson showed me how short life is and that it must be lived to the fullest. I did not want to live my life with regrets. I was so wounded from the loss of Treyson, that while I still had a desire for another child, I was unsure if I ever wanted to be pregnant again. That made the thought of adoption even more appealing. I was adoption crazed! I read adoption websites, adoption blogs, adoption anything I could get my hands on. I showed Josh videos and articles and pictures. Still, there was nothing but a polite, "That's cool", on his part. The more I pushed, the more he resisted.


Before you go thinking that Josh is heartless or anything, he is actually the exact opposite. He is a very tenderhearted person with the spiritual gifts of service and mercy. He has such a servant's heart and is always putting other's needs before himself. That is why it baffled me that he wasn't completely on board with this adoption thing. He felt sorry for orphans and the less fortunate and had a desire to help them, but it wasn't the permanant kind of help that I had in mind. The best I could get out of him, as far as a commitment to adopt, was that one day a long time away when we had more money a bigger house and older kids, he might consider us adopting. And let's just face it, the only reason I got that much out of him is because Josh rarely tells me no to anything. This was his way out of committing to something he didn't want to do, yet not have to straight up tell me "no". (oh, and did I mention that the man doesn't like confrontation, either?)


By this point I was really frustrated. I was passionate about adopting one day, and Josh just plain wasn't. I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. Here I was with a deep passion for something that I thought that God had called me to do one day, yet it seemed like that day would never come. I couldn't force Josh into agreeing to adopt. That has to be something that you go into in complete agreement. And even if I could get him to agree to it, that wasn't the way I wanted to do it. That wouldn't be fair to a child. I wanted Josh to be just as passionate about the whole thing as I was, but he wasn't.


I was faced with a decision. I could either 1. Continue down the path I was on of trying to convince Josh that adoption was a wonderful thing and we needed to do it in a couple of years, or 2. Let go and give it to God.


As much as the thought pained me, I knew that the right thing to do was to give it to God. That meant, completely taking my hands off of it, and trusting that if God had truly called me to adopt, then he would call my husband to the same thing at some point.


So on April 29th, 2009, I gave my desires to adopt to the Lord and stopped trying to control my husband and force him in to MY calling. If you are wondering how I know the exact date, it is because I journaled it in my spiritual journal. I don't journal alot, usually only fervent prayer requests and petitions to the Lord, and other major things. But this was a major thing to me. On this day I completely let go of it. As painful as I anticipated it being, it really wasn't. It was freeing. It was no longer my issue. I prayed that God would give Josh and I the same vision, in regards to adoption, whatever that vision may be. I was truly willing to give up my dream, if that was what God had for me.


Giving it to God gave me so much peace. I quit the research. I quit the adoption blogs and websites. I quit talking to Josh about it. I quit dwelling on it all together. I thought that this would be very hard, but really it wasn't. I had full faith that if it was meant to be, that the Lord would give it back to me, this time with Josh on board. And if it wasn't meant to be, then that meant that he had something even better planned for my life. Because he does know best, you know?


Surrender, again.


Two months later, I found out that I was pregnant with Kellen. It briefly crossed my mind that maybe this was somehow God's final answer about the whole adoption thing. That thought hurt, but I chose to trust that whatever his will was, that was best.


The months rolled by. No adoption talk. No adoption thoughts. If I heard of someone adopting I would think that it was wonderful for them, but in the back of my mind I thought that that was probably all it would ever be. Someone else's adoption story. If the Lord was calling me to minister in another way, then I was willing to do it.


Surrender.


Surrender.


Surrender.



Then July 1, 2010 happened.


And I will never be the same.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ramblings of the wounded

If you've been following my blog lately you've heard me mention the legislative stuff going on in Daniel's country. I haven't talked about it in a whole lot of detail, and the reason for that is because it is too upsetting for me to think about in detail. If you've been following my blog since the beginning you may have noticed that I never really talked about Treyson's birth and passing in great detail on my blog. To write about it in detail means that I would have to dwell on it. While my thoughts are never very far from Treyson, I don't really think about the hard parts for too terribly long. One of the ways that I survived my grief when we lost Treyson was to think about the good parts and all the ways God had blessed us, taught us, and changed us for the better through the process. While my mind would stray to the hard parts now and then, I wouldn't stay and dwell on it. It was just plain too hard. Today marks 2 and a half years since we lost Treyson, and it is still too hard. My mind is well trained to shift back to the blessings when it has taken a wrong turn down memory lane. They say that time heals all wounds, but I don't think that it so. I think time helps take the sting out of wounds and allows us to learn how to manage our loss, but the pain never fully goes away. I'm okay with that though. The depth of my pain is a reflection of the depth of my love for Treyson. Without the great love that I felt, and still feel today, I would not have been driven to pursue the Lord as passionately as I did during my pregnancy with Treyson. That passionate love and earth shattering loss helped shaped me in to who I am today. The Lord used every step of that journey to draw me closer to him like never before. To show me how deep and wide his love for me truly is. And to teach me that even in my darkest moments, that he will never leave my side.

Countless times during my pregnancy with Treyson, after we had gotten the news that he would not live long once he was born, I told the Lord, "I can't do this!! I won't survive if I have to just helplessly watch him die!! I love him! Please take this cup from me!!"

It was out of these pleading with the Lord that my blog was born.

Surrender

I begged the Lord to heal Treyson and take that cup from me. But I finally surrendered and said, "but not MY will, but YOUR'S be done."

And it was. His will was done, and in the end it was all to his glory. Does that mean it was easy? Heck no! But in God's strength, not my own, I was able to survive that loss. He gave me the strength to handle the one thing that I said I could never handle: Lose a child.

In praying for Daniel and the legislative vote looming ahead, I found myself pleading with the Lord in alot of the same way I did for Treyson. I heard myself saying, "God I just can't do this! You just have to intervene because I can't survive if we aren't able to adopt Daniel!! I love him!!"

Not only was my prayers very similar to when I was pregnant with Treyson, but when I think of Daniel's country closing it's doors to adoption before we finalize our adoption, I feel alot of the same emotions I felt while pregnant with Treyson. I know that alot of people may not understand that, but it is true. I love Daniel already. I love him like he is mine. God placed a love for him in mine and Josh's heart that is just the same as it is for our other children. God picked Daniel especially for us. Daniel's life has a purpose. He is our child.

But so was Treyson. And even though it was for one brief hour here on earth, Treyson's life had a purpose too. It terrifies me to think that Daniel's purpose just might not entail ever making it to our home to be a part of our family. We fully believe that God is all powerful and can do anything he desires in this situation. But I would be a fool to try to claim that I know exactly what God's purpose is for Daniel's life right now.

I don't at all mean to be a downer or sound like I am throwing the towel in and giving up. Not at all!! If anything, I am trying to express the gravity of the legislative bill that will be voted on and the importance of prayer! With God, all things are possible! So please commit to pray that God will have his hands on the heart of the people who will be voting on the bill in a couple of weeks. I am linking to a post on a blog that I love. She is an excellent writer and does a much better job at urging folks to pray. In fact, I probably should have just linked to her blog first so that you could have skipped my blabbering. I don't do emotional blog posts too often, but this just seemed like the right time. This blog is excellent if you are even remotely interested in adoption. And I recommend it very highly to those who AREN'T interested in adoption. Adeye just might show you a thing or two. God has used Adeye in our life in a HUGE way. I think I need to blog about that soon too.....

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Soup for Brains

It took me until last night to realize what the date was. I spent all day yesterday thinking that it was December 5th. I should have known to check the date because I woke up that morning thinking that it was a week days.(I don't know what week day I was thinking it was, I just thought it was one of 'em.) As I sat nursing the baby I was planning out our school day.(Yes, sometimes the school days doesn't fully get planned out until that morning. Doesn't happen regularly, but lately it has a little more than usual. Sue me. ;) ) Anyway, it didn't take me long to realize that it was Saturday. The thought did occur to me though that maybe I would have the kids do school anyway since we've missed a day here and there due to adoption preparation. (I'm horrible, right?) But alas, the kids woke up knowing that it was Saturday, so my plan was foiled.

Since yesterday was only the 4th, TODAY is actually 5 days until the 5 Days of Christmas Giveaway! I think D Week fried my brain! In spite of the brain frying effects, I will say that D Week was a roaring success!! We did have some bumps along the way, but that's life, right? I've also learned that when you choose to follow the Lord down the road less traveled, that Satan goes into full attack mode. But he can't fool me. I know who defeats him in the end, and I am constantly reminding him of that fact. Despite his best effort, THIS battle belongs to the Lord. NOTHING is going to stop me from going where the Lord has commanded us to go. My little boys life depends on it.

I have more good news too! Apparently I am not the only adult in our household that is free of HIV, syphillis, TB, and mental illness! Yay for Josh's sanity! I've questioned it several times, because of his undying love and devotion towards me that only sees to grow as the years go by. I tend to wonder if a man that knows me as well as he does, and yet loves me completely unconditionally, can truly be sane. But apparently, he is. Nice to know. That man truly does have the patience of Job. I am continually tempted to put him up on a pedastal, but the Lord is constantly reminding me not to do this with any person. Jesus is the only one who I should have up on a pedastal.

This adoption journey has knocked a few people off the pedastal that I had them on. I knew when we chose to obey the Lord by following where he was leading us, down this international adoption path, I knew that not everyone in our lives would agree with our decision. You can't please everyone. It's just a fact of life. I knew there would be resistance, even among some of our family. Sometimes that is the cost for following Christ, even some of your family and loved ones disagree with your decision. Josh and I both not only expected this, but we were prepared for it. What I didn't expect was a few of the people that I really look up to spiritually, to be against us adopting. THAT surprised me. The mandate in scripture to care for orphans is plain and simple, not vauge and left open for interpretation. Not only that, but the call that God gave Josh and I individual is crystal clear. I guess when the Lord speaks to you so very clearly, you expect the spiritual giants in your life to automatically get that. 8 or 9 out of the 10 or so people that I personally know and respect their walk with the Lord deeply, are very supportive of us. But there are one or 2 out there that choose to sit on the sidelines, instead of being a part of this amazing journey with us. God is all over this adventure so far, and I hate that they are missing out on the blessings that the Lord has heaped upon us, simply for choosing to obey.

Nay-sayers don't bother Josh. All that matters to him is that he is obeying the Lord. That is an awesome quality and I respect that about him. Overall, the Lord's goodness over shadows any disappointment I have over loved ones not being supportive, but my feelings do get hurt at times. I laugh about it at times though, when I think that if they are not supportive of us adopting, what are they going to do when one day God moves our whole family to a mud hut in Guam!!

Anyway, this post is all over the place! I started out not knowing what day it was, and somehow ended up in Guam. Like I said earlier, I think my brain is fried. I think what I started out saying was, that you still have 5 days to enter the giveaway for a bunch of cool goodies! I failed to mention in my last post, that if you facebook, blog, tweet, whatever else, about the giveaway, it will get you an extra entry for how ever many of those you do. I appreciate you getting the word out! Even if a person can only donate a little, alot of little donations can add up to alot! Like I've said before, God can mulitply any donation, large or small!!

My computer has been uncoopertive lately, but if it chooses to behave, I plan on posting a little Q and A sometime this week. I've gotten alot of the same questions about different aspects of our adoption, so I'd love to have a chance to answer those in a public forum.

Make sure you let me know if you blog, tweet, facebook, etc. You can let me know either by commenting in the comment box or by emailing me at josh-jesscarlin@hotmail.com.

Have a wonderful week!!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The 5 days of Christmas giveaway!!

We have decided to turn the diamond ring and bracelet giveaway in to an even bigger giveaway, called the 5 days of Christmas!! New items have been added to the giveaway! It is now called The 5 Days of Christmas Giveaway, because something will be given away every day for FIVE days!! Entries in to the giveaway will go like this: $5=1 entry, $25=6 entries. If your name is not drawn on day 1 of the giveaway, then your name will remain in the hat! Now, to view the prizes!!

Day 1 Prize: Diamond Ring!!(December 10th)
Day 2 Prize: Diamond Earrings(December 11th)
This is one of the new entries in the giveaway, and aren't they gorgeous?!?! The diamonds are in a 14k white gold setting. Simply beautiful.
Day 4 Prize: Handcrafted Bracelet(December 13th)
I know I skipped day 3. I uploaded the pics in the wrong order and didn't know how to fix it. I'm not compter savy. Anyway, back to the prizes!!

Day 3 Prize: Blinged-Out Christmas Chest
This chest is perfect to give a Christmas present in, store Christmas decorations, or to use as a decoration itself!! The top has the added touch of just the right amount of bling!!
Here is a picture of the front. It's bigger than it looks in the picture. I'll measure it and post the dimensions.
Oh, wait, those sweeties aren't for sale! They sure are cute though, eh?
Back to the prizes, once again!
Day 5 Prize: Super Cute Pair of Candles(with a touch of bling!)
These candle are lightly scented. I can't really tell the scent. Strawberrish, maybe. I don't like scented stuff much, but these are just the right amount of scent! They would make a great Christmas gift for a lucky winner!
If you have already entered the giveaway, then consider yourself entered across the board for them all! I am so excited about the prizes and I can't wait to draw the winners!! There haven't been a whole lot of entries yet, so the odds are really good of you winning a prize! Get your name in the hat today! You have to use the Chip-in on the side of the page, or donate by cash or check in person. All donations made directly to Reece's Rainbow are annonymous to us, therefore I wouldn't be able to enter you in the giveaway.
Support a great cause and have a great chance at winning some awesome prizes!! Thank you so much to all of you who have donated to the giveaway so far!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Want a letter from Santa?

I have something cute that I'd love to share! Sarah, at Seeking Rainbows is doing a fundraiser for a older boy or girl with Down Syndrome on the Reece's Rainbow site. For a $10 donation, she will send you child a personalized hand written letter from Santa! I know that some families may not do "Santa" and that is completely fine. But maybe you have a little someone in your life(neice, nephew, a friend's child, etc) that believes in Santa and would love to get a letter from him! The idea is super cute, and all proceeds are going to a wonderful cause! Having money in the grants of the children who are waiting really makes a difference when possible parents are looking at them. Money is usually the biggest barrier that keeps people from adopting these special needs children. Help bring down the barrier today by buying a letter from Santa!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Depraved Indifference

It's D Day!!

Or, more acurately, D WEEK. The D I'm talking about is DOCUMENTS. My goal for the week is to be done with all the documents for our dossier, minus our USCIS(immigration approval), and one other document that I am waiting to come in the mail.

Monday was a success. We had a stack of documents signed, notarized, and faxed off for approval(they were all approved, praise the Lord!!). My stomach was in knots the whole time we were working on the papers, but in the end, the notary only messed up on one, which is understandable when you are notarized 20-something documents.

Tuesday we went to Austin....and back. I can't complain though. The kids did amazing!! Although, Ray did have to stop to pee about 17 times on the way there alone. Poor thing. I guess that happens when you have bladder issues.

In Austin we had our state criminal background checks and fingerprinting done, and we had a mountain of papers apostilled. Then we found the closest UPS and sent new Child Specific Petitions and Power of Attorneys to Daniel's country because the batch I overnighted through the postal service STILL HAVEN'T BEEN DELIVERED. Last I tracked the one I just sent they were in Denmark and still and schedule to be delivered tomorrow.

While I didn't meet any other adopting families or Russian speaking hippies while we were at the Secretary of State's office, the lady we worked with was pretty cool. She even knew about Reece's Rainbow and said that shshe loves to look at the kiddos on the website all the time. How crazy is that?! 999 out of 1000 people have never heard of Reece's Rainbow, yet the lady at the Secretary of State's office is a big advocate for them. Amazing!


Today I had our Proof of Home Ownership document done at the County Appraisers office. I scheduled a mobile notary to meet me there. Everything went soooooo smooth. The ladies who worked in the office were very nice and helpful. They did everything just right. The notary was super nice too. Everyone did their part right and the document looks perfect. Until.....I notice that the notary's commisison expires in less than 12 months. That is a big no-no for us. All of our documents have to be notarized by a notary who's commission doesn't expire for at least 12 months. I didn't even think to ask him about that ahead of time. Oh well. Live and learn, right?

Our homestudy is complete except for one little detail. We are waiting on a document from Josh's employer. The document we got from them was done 6 kinds of wrong(yes, seriously), so now getting them to fix it(or even contact me back) is proving to be difficult. Tomorrow I think I'll try calling every hour on the hour until she gets tired of listening to my voicemails. The employment documents is important because what ever income numbers they put in the employment letter has to be the same in the homestudy. The social worker can't complete the homestudy until I get her the numbers. We can't finish our immigration paperwork(which can take a loooooong time to process) until we send them a copy of our COMPLETED homestudy. Frustrating. And confusing. And somewhat stressful(actually it is very stressful, but I'm trying to remain calm since being stressed fixes nothing.)

I'm going to run for tonight. I've got so much more that I am wanting to blog about, but our computer has been on the fritz so I've barely been able to get online the past week or so. Hopefully tomorrow I will be blogging good news tomorrow about how our paperwork was delivered to our facilitator and I got a correct employment letter from Josh's employer. A girl can dream, right?

Also, don't forget to pray about the legislative bill that will close all adoptions between Daniel's country and the United States. It is still scheduled to be voted on sometime between Dec 14-17. There is hope even when it seems hopeless. The battle belongs to the Lord.

"The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord;
he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases."
Proverbs 21:1



Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Explaination of the Adoption Fees

Wow. I just have not been able to come up with any good titles for my blog posts lately. I guess my brain is drained. If you are here visiting this blog looking for entertainment, you might want to just keep clicking. My posts lately have lost their luster, and tend to focus more on practicality.

For a while now I have been meaning to write a post that breaks down and explains all the fees and expenses associated with our adoption. Somewhere along the way I got side tracked, and completely forgot about it. I have been so immersed in the whole thing, that I forget that those around me(especially those who are completely unfamiliar with international adoption in general) really have no clue why in the world adoption costs so much. I can see why when you start hearing amounts like $22,000 and $28,000, you could possibly start to wonder if something unethical is happing somewhere down the line for an adoption to cost so much. I hope that this break down helps explain where all the money is going and why it costs so much. If you get to the end of the post and still have questions, please feel free to ask. If I know the answer I will readily give it. Here goes:

$1000-Promise Trust Deposit
This was our very first adoption fee. :) This deposit put Daniel on hold for our family with Reece's Rainbow. It takes him off the waiting child list, so that we can start the process of adopting him. The reason Reece's Rainbow charges this Promise Trust Deposit fee is because when anyone with half a heart looks at their website, they immediately want to adopt about 20 of the children on there! But once the rubber hits the road, not everyone is cut out or prepared to do so. It would be unfair to a child to take him off the waiting child list because someone has great intentions, but isn't actually going to be able to adopt them. Being removed from the list they miss out on the chance of a family seeing them that is truly equipped to go through the process of bringing them home. It is basically a safety measure for the child. Our Promise Trust Deposit will be applied towards our travel expenses when it comes time for us to travel.

$275-Love Offering to Reece's Rainbow and Family Sponsorship Application
I really wish that we could give them more. What they do for these children is just amazing. They provide an avenue for children who have been written off as useless. Not only have they helped united over 300 children with families(that would not have been adopted without the exposure they received from RR), but they also provide hope and help to so many more!
The Family Sponsorship program helps to raise money for our adoption grant. (Aren't they just great?!) RR truly does everything in their power to make sure that every child finds a loving family.

$1100-Homestudy
We were super blessed to be able to have our homestudy done at such a reasonable price. Reece's Rainbow informed us that the average fee is about $2000 for a homestudy, and I have heard of others paying closer to $2800 for their homestudy. Praise the Lord that we were able to have ours done for such a reasonable price, and that our social worker was nice, speedy, and knowledgable about the requirements of homestudies for Daniel's country. Such a blessing!!

$830-USCIS, I-600a, and FBI fingerprinting
Can I just say that we were blessed here too?! We barely slid our application in before fees went up on this one. This is all the immigration paperwork that we file with our government. It is a petition that requests that we bring a foreign orphan in to the states.

$1000-Various Document Fees
This is everything from aquiring "official" copies of documents needed for our adoption, to copying, faxing, notarizing, apostilling...(those four steps are done over, and over, and over again.)

$1000-Medical Expenses
We haven't gotten the lab bill in yet, and insurance doesn't cover the bloodwork part of our medical expenses, so I am praying that we don't go waaaay over this figure.

$5000-Flights
This was an estimate given to us by RR(Reece's Rainbow), of what we can expect to have to pay. From the research I've done, I'm thinking that we can expect to pay a good bit more. We will be bringing Kellen(which we are pretty sure won't be a full ticket fee, but there will be a fee). Also, there is a very good possibility that we will be bringing a friend or family member to keep the baby while we are at the orphanage and in court. I have to find out for sure if Daniel's orphanage will allow him in or not. If we do have to bring someone with us, we will of course, be paying their ticket and expenses. The main reason I am thinking that we will be paying more than that is because when we anticipate traveling, the prices will be approaching peak season prices. $5000 is just an estimate, but I am prepared to have to pay more than that.

$1700-First trip lodging($80/night for 3 weeks)

$1100-Second trip lodging($80/night for 2 weeks)
This is just an estimate too. It is very possible that we could end up paying a little more or less. From what I've seen from other families experience, I think this is a pretty good estimate.

$700-Food and supplies for 1st and 2nd trip

$2000-Transportation
-to and from orphanage everyday(sometimes twice a day. yay!!!)
-to and from court and all other appointments
-to and from the airport/train station

$600-Daniel's passport

$555-Daniel's visa and medicals in country

$1000-Orphanage donation/dossier prep
It makes me sad that this is all we are giving the orphanage. If we raise money over our intended goal, it will either go to another waiting child with special needs, or to Daniel's orphanage.

$8600-Facilitator Fee
I put this one last so that I could explain it in detail. You probably saw $8600 and went "Facilitator What?!!" I know it seems like a huge amount of money(because, well, it is), but I want to explain to you how it is saving us literally thousands of dollars.
We are doing an independent adoption, which means that we are not using an adoption agency. The facilitators are people in Daniel's country who are helping us tremendously with our adoption. We have one main facilitator that we are working with, with several others assisting her. Let me just say, the facilitators do it all!
They:
-Review and approve all our dossier documents. They check them over thoroughly and check for errors and make sure that they will pass the scrutiny of the SDA
-Translate all dossier documents
-Notarization of dossier documents
-Submission of dossier to the State Department of Adoption(SDA)
-Work with the SDA until dossier is approved
-Pay the legal and expedition fees
-Translation of all Daniel's documents required for the US Embassy to get his visa
-make all our appointments and go with us to translate
-Set up living arrangements and transportation
-they know the system, the region, and help us navigate through it all
-show you where and how to get food(markets and restaurants)

Basically, they are amazing! Without their help we would need an adoption agency to do this adoption. Paying a facilitator as opposed to an adoption agency saves THOUSANDS. I love our facilitator already!!

I hope this helped explain where the money goes. Alot of the expenses are travel related. The money isn't going to the government or an agency, and just a small portion actually goes to the orphanage. If you have any other questions please feel free to ask! I may have failed to fully explain one of the fees or expenses. It is my hope that we raise more than enough money to fund our adoption, so that any of the extra proceeds can go to another waiting orphan's grant, or to provided needed items for Daniel's orphanage.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Laptop Fundraiser Reminder

For anyone interested, the laptop fundraiser is still going! The drawing will be held Nov 23, so you only have a few days left to enter! 1 entry is $10, 2 is $20, and 3 for $25!

The laptop fundraiser is being put on by a wonderful lady named Lisa. She is Daniel's Christmas Warrior. The Christmas Warrior program is a program through Reece's Rainbow that helps raise grant money for waiting orphans(all with special needs, of course). Lisa has such a heart for orphans, and Daniel inparticularly. It blesses my heart beyond measure to know that there are people out there that advocate for and love Daniel, just like we do! In fact, there are people out there that have been loving and advocating for him before we even knew he exisisted! Amazing!

Anyway, you only have a few days left to get in on the raffle, if you are interested in doing so. Tonight I will be looking over our homestudy in detail and seeing if every. single. aspect. lines up with Daniel's country's criteria. Once again, it has to be worded just so. Exhausting process. Our social worker is 100% awesome though! I've heard some horror stories about other adopting family's social workers, and we have been very blessed to have a super nice, extremely knowledgable, and easy to work with social worker. During our home visit, she and Luke even had a long discussion to the pros and cons of different video gaming systems. She's the mom of 4 boys and Luke was pretty impressed with her game system knowledge.

Anyway, besides reading the homestudy, I play on playing Uno with the kids and spending time doing absolutely n.o.t.h.i.n.g with Josh. Hooray for doing nothing for one night! Let's see if I can actually make myself do nothing.....

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Update(I seriously couldn't think of a better title)

This has been quite a week. Overall, we made steps in the right direction, but it was not without much stress, prayer, worry, prayer....and more prayer.

-I finished all my medical clearance stuff. I am officially HIV, syphilis, and TB free! Whew! *wink* I am also free of drugs, alcohol, and mental disease. And shocker of all, apparantly I am completely sane. Yeah, even I was surprised at that one. Inspite of passing all my medicals with flying colors, I'm not completely done with the process. There are two documents that I needed from the dr and one was signed in black ink, instead of blue. Out of the 900 documents that have to be done for our adoption, this is the ONLY one that has to be signed in blue ink. Now the whole document has to be redone. Not the dr's fault though. The document criteria can be a tad bit ridiculous. I have to go get the document redone this week and I'm not looking forward to it. Like I said before, I don't like telling people that it wasn't done right, especially when they have gone to alot of effort to do it right in the first place, but they just messed up on one out of 32 rules for filling out the paper. Ugh.

-We filled out our I-600A form and got it in the mail, but it took running around like a chicken with my head cut off all afternoon one day to do it. Guess I should explain what the I-600A is. It is our immigration paperwork. It is basically a petition filed with the government seeking there approval for us to adopt a foreign orphan and bring them back in to the United States. I mailed in the application form, our marriage license, mine and Josh's birth certificates, and a cashiers check for $830. Yep. The application fee is $670, and then it is $80 a piece for Josh and I to be fingerprinted with the FBI. Once they receive our application, they will put our case on file, but they won't process it until they receive a copy of our completed homestudy. I went ahead and filed our application, though, because the fees are going up on November 23. This was another form that had to be filled out very precisly. I am pretty sure that I am going to have a head full of gray hair by the time this adoption is finalized. The documents are killing me, man!

-Last week I mentioned that Ray was going to have to have a test done on her bladder this week. I dreaded it all week. Ray was pretty traumatized by her recent hospital experience, and this test was going to be worse than anything she experienced while in the hospital. Needless to say, I was NOT looking forward to having to subject her to that. I made arrangements for Josh's mom to keep the boys so that Josh and I could both be with her for the test. We got the hospital and did the whole admissions, hospital bracelet, argue with the folks about how much they want you to pay, and get her in to the hospital gown thing. Only one parent could go back with her for the test. As much as I wanted to be with her, we let her pick, knowing that she would pick Josh. This girl is a major Daddy's girl.
They got in the room where they would do the test, and as soon as the nurse said "catheter", Ray started screaming. I don't think the nurse expecter her to know what that was, but after her hospital stay, she knew exactly what it was. Josh couldn't pry her off of him to put her on the table. After a few minutes of trying to fight her, the nurses basically talked him out of having the test done. They said that they were pretty sure that they wouldn't be able to do it with her fighting like she was and that she could be injured in the process of trying to start the catheter. So, the test didn't get done. Now we're not really sure what our next step is with her....

-Packet 1. Remember the packet of documents that I made the trip to Austin to have apostilled, then I paid good money to have with shipped overnight to Daniel's country?? When they did NOT arrive overnight. That was ok. I really figured the overnight thing was too good to be true anyway. I kept checking everyday with the tracking number to see where they were. The last updat on the USPS website, was that they left Chicago to go overseas on Nov 10th. By the time Wednesday rolled around and they still hadn't arrived, I started to freak out. Thursday I called USPS and put a trace on them. (Which really doen't help me at all, since they said it can take up to 30 days to trace the package!!!!) Thursday evening I got an email from my Reece's Rainbow stateside helper(she is the one helping us through the dossier document gathering process) saying that I should probably go to Austin and have another set of documents apostilled and sent overseas through UPS, not USPS. Sigh. I was pretty upset about this. It felt like starting over. These are such important documents though, that I really didn't have a choice. So yesterday I resigned myself to the fact that I would be making a trip to Austin on Tuesday. I figured out how I would get the documents printed, signed, notarized, and faxed to Reece's Rainbow tomorrow, and apostilled and sent overseas on Tuesday. Then tonight after church I come home and check the computer and low and behold my documents made it over the ocean!!!!! They arrived in Daniel's country and made it through customs!! They haven't been delivered to our facilitator yet, but I am expecting them to tomorrow or Tuesday. PRAISE THE LORD!!!! We still need to pray that the are delivered to our facilatator and translated ASAP, but it is sooooo good to know that they FINALLY made it overseas.

-We also got a draft of our homestudy!! It just needs to be checked over by us and Reece's Rainbow to make sure everything is worded right and that all the information is correct, and then she will send us the final draft!! Oh, and we were APPROVED!!! YAY!!! I was pretty sure that she was going to approve us to adopt after how great our home visit went, but it really good to see it in black and white. I've heard alot of social worker horror stories, so how wonderful our homestudy went was a HUGE blessing!!

-Last, but most importantly, the vote in Daniel's country has been scheduled. We got official word today that the bill is scheduled to be read in Parliment sometime between December 14-17. If it passes this second vote, then all adoptions between Daniel's country and the United States will be closed. Closed, not postponed. Completely closed. Even those adoptions in progress. I cannot even begin to tell you how important it is that this DOES NOT HAPPEN. Not just for Daniel's sake, but for the sake of literally hundreds of families that are in the process of adopting from Daniel's country right now. I'll post more about it this week, but please be praying about this. The only saving grace right now is that the bill is close to the end of the list of bills to be read, so we are PRAYING that they don't have a chance to get to it. That is only a temporary fix, but it'll work for me for now.

That's my update of this week. Be praying that our documents make it to our facilatator tomorrow! Praise the Lord for the victories that we have won so far!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Want to know his secret?

(That is Daniel on the right. His friend, Timothy, is on the left.)
Somebody whispered in my little boy's ear, "Hang on, baby! Your mama is coming!"

Why else do you think he would be smiling so big. Hey, he may not know english, but I'm pretty sure he understood her. ;)
Doesn't that little face just make you want to smile?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Paper Chase Update

Things are progressing quite well, paper wise. The only part of the adoption process that we really have any control over is part of the paper chase. And even then, it isn't really in our hands all that much. For a control freak/planner like me, this can be very stressful. So doing what I can do helps take my mind off of all the things that are out of my control in my life(adoption related or otherwise).

When I was in Austin getting documents apostilled to be sent over seas, I went ahead and got 3 documents for our dossier apostilled. There is another adoption term. Dossier. Our dossier(pronounced dos-ee-ay) is all the documents that will be sent over seas together and submitted to their government so that we can adopt Daniel. All different sorts of documents and papers make up a dossier: our homestudy, marriage license, medical records, proof of homeownership......and the list goes on and on and on. Almost every single document in our dossier has to be apostilled in Austin. In fact, off of the top of my head, I can't think of a single document that doesn't have to be apostilled. But long before getting apostilled comes things like official letter head, notarization, and tracking down the right folks to fill out and sign each and every document. Once you have it done perfectly, then it has to be faxed off, looked over by the document checker people, and approved, before it is ready to be apostilled. It can be quite a processes. I've tried to take it one step at a time and keep chipping away at it, instead of looking at the big picture, which can be very overwhelming.


So anyway, while I was in Austin getting our pre-dossier apostilled, I had a few dossier documents ready to be apostilled also. I went ahead and had it done so that I could set them aside completely finished. So far I have 3 documents completely dossier ready, and I have 9 others ready to faxed off to be checked over and (hopefully) approved to be apostilled. The document gathering part is pretty stressful to me, and I have a serious case of document paranoia. Each document has to be done very precisely in order to pass the scrutiny of the international courts. I don't like telling complete strangers how to do their job, so explaining how each document much be done has been stressful for me. I pray the entire time someone is working on a document that God will guide their hands, because I really do not want to have to tell them that it isn't done right. So far only one document has been messed up in the notarization process, so that has been a huge blessing!


I also had my blood work and TB test done today, so once those results come back, my medical paperwork can be done. Josh should be getting his bloodwork done this week also, so that's another step in the right direction.

Non-adoption news:
The baby cut tooth 7. I think it was painful for the entire family. Yikes! Number 8 is coming in right behind it, but hopefully it won't be as bad.
The baby's new hobby is pulling all the books off the bottom two shelves of each and every bookshelf in our house. We have alot of bookshelves, so that equals alot of books.
The baby(he does have a name, but usually just gets called "the baby") has figured out where Luke and Ray's rooms are and he can crawl there from any point in the house in about 7 seconds. We do have a small house, and that kiddo is fast when he's on a mission. He also has learned that he can push open the bedroom and bathroom doors if they aren't completely shut. It's been interesting.

We thought Ray had completely recovered from her UTI, high fever, dehydration, hospitalization thing. But when I took her to her post-hospitalization check up today, the dr found that she has a UTI. Don't know if it is the same UTI or a new UTI, either way she has to have a urinary tract test done now. The test is invasive and we were really hoping to avoid having to do it, but it looks like that is what she needs. Depending on what the results are, she may wind up having surgery. Pray for her, when you think about it. Her test is on Friday morning and I am dreading having to subject her to that.

Last but not least, please continue to pray for the upcoming legislative vote in Daniel's country. Still don't have a date on when the vote is going to take place, but it could be as early as next week. The wording in the bills states that all adoptions will be halted(even those in progress) until new laws are put in place. Pray that the wording in the bill will be changed! Russia did/is doing some things very similar to what Daniel's country is trying to do, but they have continued to process adoptions while they are working out there new system. Daniel's country could do the very same thing, but that is not the way they are leaning right now. Pray they will change there minds and allow adoptions to be processed while they re-vamp things.

Thank you for all your prayer and support!

Monday, November 15, 2010

My Sweet

The unknowns hang over our heads like big dark coulds,
and sometimes it feels like I'm waiting to be swallowed up in the deluge.

This paper chase seems never ending.

The process is stressful,

and exhausting.

And the results are completely out of my hands.



But that sweet little boy has been waiting for me, for 4 years too long.


So I can't stop now.
Gotta keep moving. Gotta keep doing. Gotta keep praying.
E.V.E.R.Y.D.A.Y
until he is home,
where he belongs.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

New Raffle!

It's time to start a new raffle!!

My friend, Carol, made this GORGEOUS bracelet to raffle off.
Yeah. That's right. I said she M.A.D.E. it. She is a very talented jewelry maker(Do jewelry makers have a title? Jeweler? Oh, I don't know...We'll just call her a jewelry maker.) Anyway, she made this beautiful(and very expensive!) bracelet and donated it to be raffled! How sweet!
The entries go as this: 1 entry for $3, 2 entries for $6, and 4 entries for $10. The drawing will take place on Monday, December 13th, so get your entries in now! One entry could win it!! And here's one last look at this little work of art.


Seriously, I don't know how she does it! That is a talent!
Don't forget that there are still two other raffles going on right now, also. The laptop raffle, which goes until November 23, and the diamond ring raffle, which goes until December 10th. Entries for the laptop raffle can be made here. Entries for both the diamond ring and bracelet raffle can be made through PayPal by clicking on the Chip-In at the top of the page. Make sure that you note in the comment box which raffle you are donating for. You are more than welcome to entry both raffles with one donation if you so choose(i.e. An $8 donation can be one entry in both the ring and bracelet raffles). Just make sure that you say in the comment box when you pay with paypal what raffle you are wanting to enter. Thanks!

The Heart of a Child

I have a sweet tenderhearted friend from our homeschool co-op.(I actually have also of sweet mama friends from co-op, but I am talking about one in particular here.) Through reading about orphans and adoption, along with some other truths the Lord has been revealing to her recently, she has found her heart broken for orphans. Her oldest is a year younger than Luke, and he and Luke are friends. He son has seen her looking at and reading about orphans online and has been asking questions. She showed him Daniel's picture and then explained to him that Daniel is an orphan. She told him(on first grader terms) what it is like for orphans in Eastern Europe, and how orphans with special needs are sent to institutions if they aren't adopted by age 5 or so.


A day or two later while she was in the kitchen, her son came up to her and said, "Mom, do you know that if I was an orphan and I lived over there, that I wouldn't be able to be adopted because I am already 7?"


"Yeah, you're right" she said.


He walked off and returned a few minutes later with a bag. He gave her the bag and said, "I want to give my money to Luke's family to help them adopt that little boy."


My friend figured that he had gathered all of his change and given it as a sweet tenderhearted gesture. But when she looked inside the bag it was full of dollar bills.


This first grader, already sensitive to the things of the Lord, was selfless enough to give everything he had to help someone he doesn't even know. Sure, his gift is only a drop in the bucket in the face of the total cost of adoption, but his example supersedes his donation. Instead of spending his money on a new toy, or thinking "I'm just a kid, what can I possibly give?", he gave what he had, desiring for it to be used to help someone else.

I want to be more like that. I want to be more spiritually sensitive. I want to have a heart for the things of the Lord. I want to give to others without abandon. I want to be able to bless others through my obedience to God. Colby gave what he had to help someone less fortunate than him. I see Jesus in Colby, and it makes me want to be more like Jesus myself. I am so very thankful that the Lord used a child to teach me how to be more like him.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Are you Kate's mama?

A couple of posts ago I mentioned that November is adoption aweness month, and that my goal for this month is to make my readers more aware of adoption and the needs of orphans. I have a blog post I'd love to share with you. For those of you who are locals and attend Hillcrest Baptist Church with me, this will be an extra treat for you. The lady who wrote the blog post I am going to link it is Cheryl Johnson's sister!! Cheryl is our Minister of Educations wife, and I know that you will be thrilled to have a little peek in to her sister's life. Her sister has adopted several kids from Russia and EE, and is actually in the process of adopting a little girl from EE at this very moment. She is in Daniel's country and is just a doll! The blog post was written on Sunday, which was Orphan Sunday, and it could not be more fitting. Her post called, "Kate" broke my heart. While I am thrilled to my core and praising God that he has chosen us to have a hand in saving Daniel's life, my heart is constantly breaking for the ones left behind. My Reece's Rainbow friend, Mel, who is adopting a little boy from Daniel's orphanage right now, says that the children understand. The nannies explained to her(through a facilitator) that the children have seen parents come to the orphanage and adopt other boys and girls. They know what a mama and papa are and what a family is. They may not fully understand, because they have yet to experience it, but they know that the boys and girls who leave the orphanage with parents stay forever with the people who have been coming everyday for several weeks to love on them. Mel said that when she walks by the children they point and say that she is Timothy's mama. They know. When she is with Timothy near the other children, if she squats down to talk to him or give him hugs, the other children crowd around. They want to share a bit of Timothy's experience. They want a bit of Timothy's mama, since they have no mama of their own.

This breaks my heart. And this isn't an isolated case. You can check out Cheryl's sister, Marsha, at A Bunch of Whaleys(and boy, there is a bunch of them!), and you can also read about sweet Kate, who is waiting for her mama to come for her.

*Here is a link to Kate on the Reece's Rainbow website.)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

CSP. POA. And apostilling.

Today I made a trip to Austin in order to get our CSP's and POA's apostilled. What's that you say? You aren't familiar with the international adoption lingo? Let me interpret what has become every day vernacular around the Carlin household. A CSP(Child Specific Petition) is the document stating that we desire to adopt a specific child. The majority of international adoptions do not work this way. Normally with international adoptions, being matched with a specific child comes way down the road in the adoption process. In fact, in Daniel's birth country, being matched with a child(also called, receiving a referral, in adoption lingo), doesn't usually happen until you are there in country to adopt. Special needs adoptions work very differently. The adoption process starts with the desire to adopt a specific child. POA is Power of Attorney. I'm sure you know what that is, but you might want to know why that is an important part of the first packet sent overseas. The POA's give the Reece's Rainbow facilatator the ability to act on our behalf in Daniel's country. Simple enough. On to "apostilled".... Pretty much every document sent overseas for our adoption has to be notarized. An apostille is just and additional authentication the is required for our documents to accepted internationally. A sheet of paper authenticating the notarization or certification of each and every one of our documents is attached each paper. It is on the Secretary of State letterhead and has The Department of State seal on it. Very official.

Our CSP and POA documents need to be in Daniel's country ASAP. We are praying that these are the documents that will hold his transfer. While the orphanage has been notified, through our facilitators, that Daniel has a family coming for him, these documents are the first "official" notification that we are in the process of adopting him. We are praying that once "official" word reaches them that we are coming, that that will be enough to keep him for being transferred to an institution. Continue to keep that in your prayers until we are told otherwise.

So here is the apostille story, which could also be called the God-is-so-amazing-and-continues-to-make-his-presence-very-evident-in-my-life story. But since "apostille story" is alot shorter, we'll go with that.

As most of you already know, Daniel is scheduled to be transferred to an institution sometime this month. When God called us to adopt him, we knew that we were going to have to go into battle mode, and that one of the main enemies that we would be at war with would be time. Time is not something that Daniel has much of, so we have been fighting hard to get to him as fast as possible. Documents can be apostille in person, or by mail. They are apostilled by walk-in at the Secretary of State's office. Having the documents done by mail takes about 10 days. Austin is a bit of a drive for me to make with 3 young kiddos, round trip in one day. But I also knew that Daniel doesn't have 10 days to waste. My documents were approved to be apostilled and sent overseas Saturday morning. Going to Austin on Monday wasn't an option for me, but Tuesday or Thursday would work. Of course, I wanted to get it done as soon as possible so I talked with my mom, and she was able to get off work on Tuesday to help me with the kids.

We left at about 7 this morning. We drove to Houston and I dropped my mom and the kids off at my sister's house, and headed to the Capitol! Once I was in the quiet of my car by myself,(that rarely happens), I started to worry and panic. I have been stressed the past several days to the point of feeling downright oppressed. I've gone from worrying about Daniel being transferred, to Ray in the hospital, the super-fast last minute home study home visit prep, to demolition in my kitchen and complete disarry in my house, to being completely distraught over the legislative mess in Daniel's country. I know that worrying is wrong and doesn't change anything anyway. But try telling that to a mama who has the possibility of not being able to see her child ever dangled over her head. Daniel is my son. It may not be legal yet, but he is mine. I know that the outcome is in God's hands, I'm just fighting my human mama nature to worry about my child. So, the terms stressed and oppressed fit me perfectly in recent days.

All that to say, once I got in the car alone in the quiet, I really started to feel the panic. I started praying fervently, but quickly realized that I should enlist some help. I texted a sweet friend, who I knew would really pray, and asked her to pray about my trip. I spent most of my trip to Austin praying. Every time I would stop praying, I would start thinking, which made me start worrying, so I would go right back to praying. I was so heavy hearted that my chest hurt. Literal heartache. I kept my hand on my chest for most of the trip(I guess because it hurt), and at one point I was praying so fervently that I started raising my other hand. I quickly noticed that I had no hands on the steering wheel, and decided that maybe I should pray quite so hard while I'm driving.

I made it to Austin in a very timely manner and in one piece(in spite of the no handed driving). I found the building super easy, thanks to GPS. Then came the task of parking. Ugh. The problem wasn't that I couldn't find a parking spot, the problem was that I've never used a parking meter and I wasn't sure what to do. I know that sounds ridiculous. I was even thinking that to myself. I mean I'm 31 years old and I don't know how to work a parking meter?? I felt like "little country girl done gone to the big city". I moved to a couple of different spots before giving up and deciding that I was just going to have to figure the darn thing out. I waiting until no one was walking by(which took a few minute because down town Austin right by the capitol building happens to be a busy place.), then I got out with my wallet and a handful of change. I've seen people in movies put change in the machines, so I was hoping that knowledge would serve me well. I was fully prepared for it to require some secret code, known only to city folks, or have to swipe some special badge that us country folk don't have. Turns out, they do take change. Apparently, is one thing I learned from the movies that is correct. Parking meters taking change? True. Couples making out in the bed right after waking up and before brushing their teeth? Not true. Don't believe everything you see in movies.

Back to the story though....
After I put money in the parking meter, I got back in the car. I hadn't expected the whole parking meter thing to go so smoothly, so I wasn't mentally prepared to head straight to the building I needed to go to. I took a minute to pray, check over my documents for the ten millionth time, and pray again. To you, it may sound silly to be so stressed about this papers, but in an international adoption, your documents are everything. Leave one out, mess one up, lose one, and it messes the entire thing up. So after re-checking, yet again, I get out and head to the building. I find it, go inside, sign in, and the officer points me to where the room is that I need to go. When I go in, I'm the only person in the waiting area. The employee gets me started on the paperwork, which was super easy. While she was looking over my papers she pointed out some pictures of several kids on the wall behind her and said that those are kids whom have been adopted internationally that they have apostilled documents for their parents. I look up and see Wade and Yuri. You know who Wade and Yuri are, but I do. Wade and Yuri are two little boys from Eastern Europe. Josh and I read about them back in July, and God used their story and sweet faces to call us to adopt. Now, right in front of my face, was the exact same pictures, of the exact same boys, that God used to break our hearts for orphans in EE. Can we say, God thing, or what??? As soon as I saw them I said,(a little too loudly), "I know who those boys are!" The very nice worker lady, who ignored the fact that I yelled in the Secretary of State's office, was pretty shocked herself.

Right after that, while she was still working on my documents, a man and his pre-teen/early teenish daughter walk in. The lady asks him what he needs. Wanna guess what he needed? I'll just skip the suspense and tell you what he needed. He needed documents apostilled for his international adoption from Daniel's country. Hum. Another God thing. It was wonderful to be able to chat for a minute, in person, with another parent that is going through the exact same stress and worry over the legislative vote in Daniel's country. Not to mention that we got to talk adoption document talk and have a few laughs while speculating if we will survive the paperwork monster. It was refreshing to talk to someone that is in the process like we are.

While we were talking a lady came in. She needed a document apostilled for her Chinese adoption. And right behind them came in two guys. When they found out where we were adopting from, they started speaking Daniel's native language, which is NOT a common language for random folks to know how to speak fluently. Not only that, but the lady adopting from China started speaking the language too! These guys had a wealth of knowledge, not just about Daniel's country, but where I can find native food for him to eat, and where I can learn about the language and history of his country. At this point I've started to feel like I'm in the twilight zone. After I got all my paperwork done, I said my good byes to everyone and left. As I was walking out of the building, I stopped and sat in a chair close to the exit for a few minutes. I prayed and thanked God for the supernaturally smooth apostilling process. Then I thought about the people I had just met, and wondered if may I had been with angels unaware. The whole thing was just too far fetched to be a conincidence. God's hand was obviously at work. He knew I need those folks. Even though we only met for a moment, it completely lifted my spirits. I'm not totally convinced that the two dudes with fairly ratty clothes and shaggy hair, weren't actually angels.

I headed home, with plenty of time left on the parking meter.(Once I found out it took coins, I put in all the coins I had. I may need to find a parking meter tutorial on youtube before my next Austin trip.) I stopped at the first post office I came across(which turned out to be about 3 miles down the road), and overnighted the papers overseas. Once the documents arrive in Daniel's country and are translated by our facilitator, I am praying that we will know something more definite about the status of Daniel's transfer.

While I do find myself falling struggling with worry over the many unknows, in one day alone, God has shown me how his mighty hand is guiding me and going before me to prepare a way. I can not stop praising him for the incredible way which he showed himself present and active in my life today.