Monday, December 17, 2012

A Beautiful Revelation....God's BIGGER Plan....

Well, it sure has been quite a while since "I" have blogged. Rob had to take over for heart hasn't been in it. I usually joke about how terrible of a blogger that I am, I admit, it's not my favorite thing to do, but when I'm passionate about a subject, you will hear from me. I haven't been passionate for a while, I have been distant, distant about adoption, distant about what I truly feel to the depth of my bones is my "calling". This is something that is very hard for me to admit....but pride is my enemy...God has worked slowly in me and in Rob....but mostly me. So here I am, finally after MONTHS of not blogging, you are hearing from me, Deanna.

I've been grateful that Rob has taken the reigns when it has come to this particular area of our share with you all where we are, what has happened, and where we are trying to go. I have not had the words, I haven't been able to feel anything much, other than sorrow, loss, disappointment, confusion, some anger, embarrassment and humiliation....those are all things that I'm sure you don't want to read about! So I let Rob take over...he's so gifted with his ability to express himself and yes, he did speak for me a little, he was accurate in his descriptions of what I was going it was ok with me. It's been over 4 months since we've been home...I think I still struggle some days, but now that I know what I know today, the Gift of God's revelation to me, my days of struggle are fewer and fewer. I think about "her" every day...about "Harper", that was going to be her name, Harper (birth name for a middle name) Sader. I think about her and what she is doing, what she is "getting into" as she was such a "Go Getter"! LOL!! I think about her funny smiles, her silliness, her need for affection, her desire for chocolate (:-)), the ugly doll that she ripped the leg off of and didn't want anything to do with the new one we bought her, her HUGE HUGS, but most of all, her need for a family. It was devastating at first for me, for a long time, the guilt and anger I had....but I LOVE my husband and I trust him to lead our family....that doesn't mean that I don't or won't feel anger toward him when I don't understand why he does what he does, but I KNOW that he always consults God, he never makes moves lightly and is NEVER impulsive, so with his decision to not move forward was no different....I had to trust and support it....even though I was angry and frustrated.

We've all been there....we've all had plans and dreams not go through. When visions and dreams that we work toward for months and even years don't pan out for whatever reason, we don't understand it, the loss that we feel can sometimes be incomprehensible. Especially when you believe in God, your plan aligns with His Word, you feel to the depths of your soul that you are doing what He wants you to do, you've consulted and prayed to Him day in and day out....and then....He brings you to the place where you have been dreaming about for months, and pulls a Switch-A-Roo. We felt like the rug had been pulled out from under our feet! It wasn't going to happen, Charity wasn't our "Harper", she wasn't to be our daughter AFTER ALL! It was pure craziness to me, to us. But as a Believer and follower of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, we hung onto the "He has a Plan" "Trust in Him" "A Plan will be revealed"....we clung to those words, I CLUNG to those words and begged for His plan to be revealed...I prayed for it every day. I had no idea why He would bring us across the globe to meet this precious little girl and then tell us that she is not ours. I couldn't fathom it, but I prayed that His reasons were and had to be good! And they were good...they are good...

We came home, I went into hiding for a little while...used an alias too! I didn't want to hear and read the criticisms from anyone, even though I felt I deserved it. I went into a depression....Rob and I went to see our counselor who is also a devout Christian and he really helped us, helped me. But Rob was not in a good place right when we came I had to hold him up for a few weeks...then it was my turn. All I could think of was that we LEFT AN ORPHAN BEHIND!!! WHAT IS GOING TO COME OF HER!!?!??! I WILL DIE IF SHE GOES TO AN INSTITUTION!!! HOW SELFISH COULD I BE!!?!?! I DIDN'T FIGHT ROB HARD ENOUGH!!! All these thoughts day in and day was horrible. I felt I was living a well-deserved nightmare. The only thing that saved me during those days was the mission I had to find her forever family, to answer any questions any prospective parent that was interested in adopting Charity had. I was more than willing to be open and honest, to have candid conversations about our journey to those that were interested in her.  I told RR about her, to update her description on the website. A good friend that met her had such a different description of her, it was amazing to see how much she changed in only a year. I know that RR does all they can to have accurate & updated descriptions of the children, but obviously that is hard to do. I was thankful that finally Charity would have an updated description of her so that the family that committed to her would be able to envision her properly in their family and know that she would be a good fit.  She is an energetic little girl that is very smart and learns quickly. Unfortunately, Lucy and Ragen are very passive children and I/we were afraid that Charity would not get the stimulation that she needed and deserved if she joined our little family....there were other reasons, but that was one that I had running through my mind. After her profile with RR had been updated, I had many people contact me asking about her. It was a blessing to be able to share our experiences with her and her awesome personality. We took a TON of video, more video than we took of Lucy, and I'm glad we did. I was able to share that video with perspective parents. That was a blessing to be able to do that. I never imagined that I would be using what I thought was going to be our own personal memories, the photos and videos, to find her mommy and daddy.

After a month or so of being home, I was connected to a Mom that had just come home from the "U" in the spring....she and her hubby adopted two children! We talked many many times. They have 6 beautiful children, including their recently adopted children. I remember Andrea saying that she felt a "calling" a pull toward Charity, but wasn't sure if they could really make it happen. Obviously she has her hands full!! She shared with her husband Charity's profile and they prayed about her and prayed for God's direction. Within weeks of her and I having our first conversation, she and her husband committed to Charity! I was THRILLED TO MILLIONS OF PIECES!!! Also knowing that Charity will have brothers and sisters to play with and to show her things makes my heart sing praises! Now, I won't lie, there was a tiny piece of my heart that also ached, only a little. I remember thinking to myself once we got home that the day a family commits to her would be the day that I would feel free....or at least a little less guilty. But when that day came, I didn't feel that way. Harper was my daughter for well over a year, maybe even two. Remember, she appeared on the RR website shortly after we committed to Lucy....I thought to myself then that if we hadn't committed to Lucy, that Charity would be our daughter instead. I've always thought about her and watched to see if anyone was interested in her or if she was on the MFFM never happened so when Rob and I agreed to adopt again, I thought it was a no-brainer, Charity was my daughter all along and that is why no one ever went to get her. So when Andrea said that they were committing to her, a part of my heart definitely broke....I mean, what kind of mother would I be if I didn't hurt just a tiny bit? But that brokenness DID heal...

 ....the healing REALLY began after I got a message from Andrea saying, "did you see our FSP?".....

I thought, OH YEAH, someone gave them a $5000 donation, or even $100000!! NOt that they need $10,000, but that's where my brain went immediately.

So I checked their FSP...and this is what I saw....

So, are you following me?!

God knew what He was doing all along.... Charity was to go home, but she was to go home with a SISTER! MASHA! Masha is living in a mental institution. She is almost 10 years old and seriously on borrowed time. God knew that Rob and I couldn't bring home a child older than most of you know that Ragen has many other challenges other than Down syndrome. But He DID know that the Watkins family could and would. He knew that all along....He knew that the day I saw Charity's photo on the RR website and He knew when I said to myself that I wanted her to be mine....HE KNEW ALL ALONG!

So THAT was God's plan....God brought Rob and I across the world to see a little girl that would fit BETTER in another family....

He brought us there so we would share our journey, so that we would be obedient and let her go to another....

God knew....

He always knows...

Please help the Watkins family bring home their precious DAUGHTERS. They need our you know, and if you don't, all donations are tax deductible. This is a great way to get some year-end donations for tax purposes in. This is a superb way to give back, to give during the Christmas Season, this is what Jesus is care for the orphan and bring an orphan home is the most spectacular experience I have ever had, and to be part of it is just as spectacular....please help and be part of God's on the link below to help.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

It's A New Day

The journey has been long and it has been a roller coaster ride for the last month or so, but in the end, God is working through it all for good.  The best, most happy good is that Charity has a new family that is committed to her, is paper work ready and is hoping to have her home before the end of the year.  We could not be more thrilled for this family and most importantly for Charity.  We are just so overjoyed that she is going to be coming home.  Here is the beautiful family that has given of themselves for Charity:

Over the last month or so, our home has been a pretty dark place.  As I did in the last post, I am just going to bare all and be as transparent as possible so that everyone knows where things have been going and maybe someone else can learn from our journey and road.  What we have learned over the last month or so is that others have traveled this road before us, as if often the case, but because of the shame and guilt that surrounds this road, people don't talk about it.  We have come to believe that this attitude and mindset is wrong.  If we ever are going to learn, we need to share with each other, even if it means exposing some deeply personal feelings and emotions.  So that is what we will do.

When we arrived home, the first two weeks of being back in the US were dark and incredibly scary for our family.  I sunk pretty deep into a hole that seemed impossible to climb out of.  The feelings I described in my last post only intensified over those two weeks, specifically Shame and Guilt.  Shame was the biggie and Guilt was not far behind in all that I was thinking and doing.  Nothing else seemed to matter in life but how horrible of a person I was for letting Charity go.  How shallow I was for not being able to love her.  How sad I was for picking my feelings over hers, a child, who has nothing.  This despair and sadness started as we left the country and only intensified as we landed in the UK for a layover for our flight.  We had to stay over night there and the first feelings of deep shame and guilt were born there.  We were back to our lives, back to food, a clean bed, a hot shower, etc... And Chartiy was sitting back in that orphanage, waiting for a family to love her.  We even had a hard time eating the first few days, feeling intense feelings of guilt and shame when looking at "normal" food.

As we got back home into the US, we immediately flew to pick up our girls at my sisters house and the out pouring of love from them was incredible and sorely needed.  Even though they loved us and spoke love and truths to us, I still was sinking deep into a depressive state.  Then for the next number of weeks, I was a mess.  Rarely talking to Dena, not playing with the girls, going threw the motions at work, not having the energy to workout, not having the desire to do my morning quiet time with prayer and talking to God.  Nothing.  I was numb.  I was angry, resentful, sad, confused, shamed, guilt ridden and dark.  The last thing I wanted to do was talk to God or any human as I thought myself to be lower than scum   All I could think about everyday, all day, was why did this happen to us and why did I not love this little girl?  Why did the feelings that I had for Lucy not come for Charity?  What is wrong with me?  What lesson could possibly be learned from this heartache and why is Charity having to pay the price for my human fallibility?

As the weeks went on, I started to grab a hold of reality day by day and start to find my way back, but back to what or where, I was not sure.  All the while, Dena was a rock for me, for the girls and for our home in general.  She held it all together, when I was falling a part.  What an intensely beautiful human being she is and no words can describe the love I have for her for not judging, not telling me to pick it up, not shaming me, not finding fault in me... But instead, just loving me for the flawed man that I am.... Incredible.... She did not choose this path, but yet she stuck with me and loved me just the same, that is a woman of true character and love, the very definition of a woman who walks in the footsteps of Christ.

Then, one evening, after a long day of the same darkness, I just felt like it was time.  I told myself on that Sunday night, that I needed to be done with all this darkness and tomorrow morning I was just going to start over, one day at a time, not trying to figure out the plan, but just live in it everyday and see what happens.  So the next morning, Monday, I walked downstairs at 515am, sat in the dark living room and just gave myself back to God to work.  I didn't have really anything to say, so I just cried a lot and asked why.   I had nothing to give.  But just came as I was, broken, beat up and shamed to the core.  And God met me there.  He met me in the darkness, in the shame, in the guilt and gave me peace.  I picked up my bible and started in Matthew, randomly.  I read till chapter 5 and that is when God hit me with this verse, " You're blessed when you are at the end of your rope.  With less of you, there is more of God and his rule."  That is what I needed to read.  God knew it and after I read it, I knew it.  I needed to let go of the shame, the guilt, the sadness and just let God work.  Harder said than done, but I needed to try.

Later that morning as I prepared for meetings in the city, I walked up to Dena, read her the verse, told her it was a new day, kissed her and I felt a sense of relief  from her, a weight lifting off her that she did not have to carry the load any more.  Later that day God worked again, showing me that this is not about me, but how I can serve others everyday, even if others does not include brining home Charity.  He gave me two chances to help others that day I went into the city and I clearly saw once again, how powerful serving can be for lifting us out of dark times.  I was blessed to do God's work that day and was hit across the forehead with a simple realization that had somehow slipped away from me in all my shame and guilt and anger and fear:  We are simply the vessel.  Nothing more, nothing less.  God wants to work through us to bring peace to others, to bring happiness to others, to bring love and hope to others.  That is our mission.  Not to have the plan, but to just walk in surrender everyday to whatever the plan turns out to be.  And in that surrender is peace and contentment with who we are and the path that we are asked to walk.

After these experiences in the city that day, I knew that I was on the right path back, but God only confirmed that one more time after Dena and I went to meet with a Christian counselor to help us process the feelings we were having about stopping the adoption.  This counselor opened up our eyes to some things that were very much profound and important.  And through him, I believe God was speaking to me about working on some deep issues that have been with me for some time.  Issues that need to be flushed out for me to grow, to be a better husband and a better father.  Issues that I would likely never addressed if not for this adoption process and a little girl named Charity.....

After I started to come out of the haze and funk, it was time for Dena to process and experience her feelings of sadness, grief, pain, resentment, anger, frustration and questioning.  She needed a few weeks as well to really sit with these feelings and start to see her way through them.  Again, she was not the one that wanted to go in the direction we went.  She stood by me in the decision, but was in no way in the same place as me. So for her, this was a very different experience and one that she needed to work through in her own way.  She cried alot.  She became more quiet and reserved.  She didn't talk to friends very much or family.  She just distanced herself from the world, while still giving her all to caring for our two little girls that we have at home.  It was not easy to watch her go through it, but I tried to give her the same space and time that she gave me.  The time to let go of this loss and look for God in it.  Ultimately she did pull out of the darkness and just like me, is slowly making her way back to living a life fully committed to what God wants of her.

Over the past month, we have seen God's hand working all around us, having used this horribly sad story for incredible beauty.  Again, first and foremost, a family has stepped up and committed to adopting Charity and is very far down the path already to brining her home.  They have other kids with Down Syndrome already, have adopted already and seem to be a great fit for her, from what we know of both them and Charity.  Second, it seems through this story and even through this blog, it is coming out more and more that others have struggled with this issue that I faced in this adoption and so we have been able to help other people talk about their struggles and give light to the situations they face.  To allow people to talk to us and not feel ashamed for their feelings.  Third, through this story, we have had a number of people talk to us about adoption and two or three new families are now committing to bringing children home.  And we have even had a few conversations where families were healed in some way in relationships because of reading this story.  Let be crystal clear on this.... None of these things happened because of us.  All of these things happened because God worked through us in different ways than we had thought or planned for.  When there was less of us, there was a bunch more room for him.

See that is what we are learning more and more through this pain.  We are learning that as we listen to God more, especially in the very difficult times, he shows us the path little by little.  Kind of like little bread crumbs while walking on the path.  He reminds us that it is not about us.  It is about what he is doing through us.  This was not a story about how Rob and Dena Sader were adopting a little girl.  This was story about how God was going to use Rob and Dena Sader as his messengers to bring about a much larger plan.  This was a story about how God was going to bring more people to adoption.  This was a story about how God was using this plan to heal relationships  This is s story about how God was using this plan to help us see changes that needed to be made in me.  And this is a story of a little girl going to exactly the home that God had planned for her all along.

One of the first questions that people ask us as we tell this story, is why do we think this all happened this way.  What we continue to learn everyday is that is not a question of why, because we will never have that answer likely.  So what is the right question to ask then?  We believe now more than ever, the right question to ask is how.  How is God going to use me TODAY.  That is it.  It does not matter why.  We don't get the blueprint upon request, as so many of us would like to have.  We get a promise.  A promise that if we become the vessel, that we will have a deep, meaningful relationship that will rise above any question of why.  And bring us to peace in just being exactly where we need to be for God to work through us that day.

That being said, we will not stopping fighting for Charity until she comes home for good.  We are committed to helping raise money for the Watkins family to finish up the adoption process quickly and also have supported them in other ways during their commitment process.  Charity has about $15k in her fund already from the money that we gave back, both from our own pocket and from the donations that we received.  They need a few thousand more and we will not stop until they get there. We are going to be helping in every way possible to make sure that Charity makes it home to Wyoming to a family that will love her, support her, feed her, clothe her and giver her every opportunity to thrive in a real home that was meant specifically for her.

This is God's story and we are just the vessel's......

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Toughest Decision We Have Ever Made

As I start to write this post, I have tears in my eyes and Dena has tears in her eyes.  To just cut right to the heart of the matter, we have decided to walk away from our adoption of Charity/Harper and not bring her home as our daughter.  This has been an excruciating last few days and there are so many feelings that are inside of us both that are difficult to explain, but I will try in this post because we want to ensure that the people that have helped us along the way in prayer, financially or with kind words of support, fully understand what has happened and what is next for Charity.

Dena and I started this journey back in Dec, actually Dec 24th is when we looked at each other in the eyes and said, lets do this AGAIN.  From that day forward, we had trusted that God had a plan and was working this all out to accomplish his plan to his glory.  A simple vision of restoration of children that are tossed aside and thrown away.  We took it step by step with all the fundraising, paperwork and meetings that needed to happen to just get to the point where you can submit everything to the country to then get an appt to travel.  We trusted God all along the way to open the door or close the door.  The door stayed open all this time.  We arrived here in the country over 10 days ago and had a chance to spend 7 days in the city where Charity lives and had the blessing of meeting with her about 12 times in two hour blocks each time.  She was a beautiful little girl, deep brown eyes and dark brown hair.  She had a great smile and loved to drink juice and eat chocolate.  She put on her clothes herself and loved to play with her dolls, even if they were pretty scary looking.  She was walking, talking and very much understanding the nannies as they spoke to her in her native tongue.  She is an incredible little girl.

When we first arrived to meet her, on the first day, we were taken by surprise at all that made up this ball of energy and fire.  We were sitting in the directors office and out of no where, in comes this brown headed lovie like a tornado, totally unexpected by us.  From that point forward, something just didn't seem right.  Dena and I met with her that night and just kept meeting with her for a few days to feel it out and see what would happen.  What we knew is that we had a different feeling than what we felt for Lucy the last time around after we met her and after we spent time with her.  It was just different with Charity for some reason. We were very confused by this and sought out wisdom from a dedicated Christ following couple we know that has adopted 4 times and also has walked away from one adoption.  We wanted to know if what we felt with Lucy was typical and this feeling with Charity was atypical.  Or was the feeling with Lucy atypical and this process of feeling out and being unsure was more normal.  They said that we should give it a few more days and then decide from there.  We trusted their wisdom and discernment and did just that.

In that time, two things happened.  Dena started to feel real love with Charity and I did not.  It was not an issue of her engaging with me or being afraid of me or anything that she did or didn't do.  I know that some might think that would be the case.  I experienced this with Lucy when we first met her.  She did not want any part of me because I was a man and she had never been around men before.  But over a day or so, she warmed up to me and from there I began to deeply love her as my daughter.  With Charity, she was warm to me from the beginning, but the feelings of "this is my daughter" never came for me.  Dena was getting there, her momma love was building for Charity and it was fun to see.  But also agonizing for me to see because I was just not able to feel the same thing for her as Dena.  It was killing me inside to know that the connection was just not there.  I did everything I possibly could to try to make it happen.  I gave it time, I gave it lots of prayer, I gave it real energy and excitement, I gave it light and happiness and I let God have control to the best of my human ability.  Prior to coming to the country, I had spent the past 6+ months praying EVERY SINGLE DAY that God would prepare Charity's heart for us and that he would prepare my heart for Charity to love her as my daughter.  And then Wed morning came around this week and I just fell apart.  

Dena was not feeling well in the morning time for our normal visit, a bit of a tummy ache, so she suggested that I go and see Charity by myself and see if things would click for me with her alone.  She knew what I was struggling with as we were communicating daily about it.  So I went on the walk to the orphanage about 20 min away.  On my way, I talked to God, asking for his presence and comfort and for his super natural love and beauty to find us both in the orphanage that morning, the morning of our 12th visit with her.  I am sure that God was there and present, but the visit was not what I had been longing for.  It started out very bad, with her not wanting to come to me, after wanting to come to me every day previous, even without her seeing Dena.  And just kind of spiraled downwards from there.  It crushed my heart and my soul to the core and broke me.  I broke down crying in the play yard.  I gathered myself and brought her back to the nannies after about an hour of being with her and walked back towards the hotel.  On my way back, I took a detour to stop and talk to God down by the river that goes through town.  It was quiet there and I do my best talking and listening to God in nature.  I spent an hour there, crying, sometimes sobbing over why I could not feel the connection, why could I not find the deep love for her that I had for Lucy last year.  I got angry with God that he was not providing this connection.  That he had brought us all the way here and brought us to the edge and then walked away when I needed him most.  I pulled out my phone and read my bible for a bit, some passages out of Joshua to see if God would speak to me in that moment.  I sat silently to listen and sat and sat and listened and listened.  How I longed for God to move in me and speak in his still calm strong voice.  How I longed to call her my own....

As I walked back to the hotel from this place, the feeling that we needed to stop grew stronger and stronger.  I could no longer keep trying to force something that was not happening.  I had done every possible thing that I thought was in line with what God would want of me and it was just not there.  So as I arrived back in the hotel, Dena and I started to have a long talk about what happened and where I was at.  As I said, she was making great progress in her own love of Charity and it was amazing to watch.  She knew I was having some real issues though and so it came as no great shock to her when I laid out what was going on in my mind and where I was at.  She calmly looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, lets just go for a walk and go the market and get out of the hotel for a bit to clear our heads.  We did that.  And when we came back, actually on the way back from the market, we decided together as a team, that we needed to stop.  She said that she could not expect me to force something that was not there and I of course could not expect her to try to do this alone without me fully on board.  We got back to the room and started making calls and sending emails to different people to let them know what we were thinking and to ask them what we needed to do to start to unwind the process that we had begun.  It was surreal to be making those calls and it was a nightmare that we just wanted to wake up from.  I started to have significant feelings of sadness, guilt, shame, anger, frustration and was sick to my stomach.  Dena as well was feeling sick to her stomach about what we had decided.  The calls were made and the process was stopped.  We did not see Charity again after my visit with her.

The reason I wanted to give you all this level of detail is because, again, I think you deserve it.  You have supported us and Charity in any number of ways.  You deserve to know what happened and what we did to try to change it.  You deserve to know that we gave it all that we knew to give.  And most importantly, you deserve to know it from us/me so you know the truth.

The truth is that as I sit here and write this post, I am broken.  I feel sadness, shame, frustration and guilt to the core of my being as does Dena.  I feel like this is my doing and my fault and feel that I could not do what Charity needed me to.  I feel like I have let her down.  I feel like I have let Dena down, I feel like I have let my family down and I feel like I have let all of you down.  And part of me feels like I have let God down.  It will take some time for Dena and I to process this loss, as that is what this is, a loss.  Even though it is of our own doing, it is still a loss.  We have been preparing for this for 9 +months now.  For those that have adopted before, it is like a natural pregnancy in many ways.  You prepare and wait and then it happens.  Only this time, it just did not happen.  And it is ripping us apart inside.  I am asking God why......

So what is next.  Lets focus on Charity.  She will obviously stay in her orphanage until another family can get things lined up to try to bring her home.  We actually know of a family that has been following this story for all 9 months that may want to adopt Charity.  They have been considering adoption for a few years now off and on, but never felt the final nudge to take the journey.  But something happened the other day when we told them what was happening in our journey.  God moved in them.  They immediately said they wanted to adopt her and have already started the process with Reeces Rainbow to get going.  They have contacted agencies in the US to start the homestudy and are giddy with joy about the prospects of adding Charity to their family.  This was completely unexpected and a wrinkle in the story that makes me wonder what God is really up to.  In the depths of my soul I wanted Charity to be my daughter, as did Dena.  But maybe all along he has had a different plan.  Maybe he has been doing something bigger and better than we could have ever imagined or expected.  I don't know why, how what or when.... But God does.  And if we truely want to call ourselves followers of The Way, then we have to rest in that.  God knows.

As for the issue of money that some of you might have given for this journey, we understand that you gave out of your hearts to us and Charity to see her come home.  We want to honor the intent of that donation and the gift that you entrusted to us, for her.  We will be giving back to Charity and this new family all the money that we are able to give to help bring her home in record time.  We will also be working with this new family in every way possible to help them speed through the process.  We will be helping with paperwork if they need it, helping with the homestudy if they need it and also helping with more fundraising if they need it.  We just want Charity to come home to a family that loves her and she is meant to be with.  And we will do everything and anything we can to make that happen.    

This is still fresh and still very painful.   We would appreciate and covet your prayers for Charity and this new family at this time.  Please ask that God would bless their journey from day one and she would be home with them soon.  If you have questions or want to know more in anyway, please feel free to reach out to me over email.  If you want to express feelings of support or love for Charity,  Dena or I, please feel free to reach out via email or to Dena on Facebook.  If after all of this detail and transparency, you feel the need to be angry or frustrated with us or feel the need to rip into us for making this decision, please keep it to yourself.  We did not go into this adoption with even a remote feeling of regret or hesitation or doubt.  We did not expect this in any way, especially after already having been through the process with Lucy.  This has hit us like a Mack truck and to be frank with you, we really are not interested in hearing from people that are going to judge us and tear us down.  We believe that God has a plan.  And although we have no idea why this was a part of that plan, it will be revealed in time.  We believe that God loves us just as much today as he did one week ago and we will wait expectantly for him to move in our lives as this season comes to an end and the next begins.  We will adopt again, I am sure of it.  But all in God's time.

As a friend reminded me earlier this week, Genesis chapter one starts with these four words....


We will rest in that.....


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

New Pictures

Here are some new pics..... Driving a car, putting on new clothes and sitting with mommy.... She loves her mommy already and loves new clothes!!

Day 5 and 6

So here is the day five and six recaps since I was too lazy to really go in and make the updates yesterday!

Day five started out pretty benign and stayed that way at the end of the day.  It was a sunday, so not much was really going on, even though most things were still open and doing business.  One of the things that we noticed this time that we really didn't notice last time we were doing the adoption with Lucy is how few people seem to be going to any kind of religious service of any kind.  Whether it be to an orthodox church or a synagogue or mosque or whatever.  Just would have thought there would be more activity around religious settings than there is and last time I guess we just didn't pay much attention.  Maybe we jsut didn't see it and it is happening.  Not real sure.  Just thought it was interesting to note.

Other than that note, the rest of the day was pretty straight forward.  We got up and went to see Harper at our normal time in the AM and had a nice time with her playing and having fun.  She likes the simple things in life it seems.  She likes playing with plastic bags, she likes playing with us and she likes to just generally have fun running back and forth between us and giving us big hugs.  We tried buying her a new doll the other day and a little purse with some things that would resemble minature "getting ready" stuff like a hair dryer and brush etc... She wanted nothing to do with anything we brought, except the bag.  She played with that bag for probably 45 minutes, waving it around, putting her head in it, putting it on top of her head like a hat... It was endless fun for her.  It was the classic example we all have seen before of the child loving the box more than the present inside at Christmas.... Classic...

We wrapped up the day with some singing from the phone.  We are playing a few songs for her everyday from my phone from Sesame Street or Elmo or Ralphs World or something that Ragen and Lucy love so she will start getting used to it.  She sings along sometimes with a really cute high pitched voice that makes us both laugh.  Not for very long, but she tries which is pretty cool.

Day six started off by Dena and I wanting to buy a few new clothes for her to wear, as everytime we see her she seems to have the same thing on and she really stinks something pretty fierce.  We sense that she is not getting much in teh way of baths so we thought maybe some new clothes would freshen her up a bit.  So we went around to a few clothing stores in town and tried to look around for something that would be good for going outside when it is nice yet, indoor friendly as well.  Dena found some pants and a shirt that looked good and so we picked it up along with a few other things for her.  She needed some new shoes so we picked up those as well.

When we got to the orphanage, we could not wait to put on the new clothes and see what she thought.  We had no clue what would happen next and we dropped our jaws when we saw it.... We pulled out the clothes from the bag and ended up showign them to her.  She actually held up the clothes to herself as if she was looking to see if they were big enough or if they looked good on her.  That was funny and surprising, but only a start.  Then she started to rip off her shirt that she was wearing and had no regard for whether or not it came off without tearing.  As she took off her own shirt, Dena and I raised an eyebrow and took it in, feelign pretty good that she could take off her own shirt, good progress for a child in an orphanage and having Down Syndrome.  Then what we saw next blew us away.... She actually started to put the shirt on and not just put on over her head and play around. No, she actually put the shirt all the way on and then looked at us after wards as if to say, ok, whats next!  We were stunned and blown away.  It just was incredible to us that she was doing this on her own.  We looked at each other and just laughed.  Pretty cool.  Then she proceeded to take off and put on this same shirt 3 times in a row with no help from us.  And again, this was not just a plain t shirt.  It was a longer shirt that had a hood and was not easy to tell which was the front and which was the back.  She is s sharp cookie as Grandpa Sader would say.

So after that display of sheer genius, we just were happy as clams and had some great fun with her from that point forward.  We have noticed that she likes the juice we are bringing, so we started to bring a full bottle at every session and try to give to her slowly.  She does seem to have a problem with reflux or something as everytiem we are there, she seems to spit up a bit and she does it before we give her anyting to eat or drink. Not sure if she has a snack just before we come or not, but something seems to make her a little sick everytime we are there.  Mostly when she bends down and forces pressure on her belly while reaching for something at her feet.

So we are on to day 7 in country and already itching to see our girls back home.  We miss them so very much.  They are being loved on and taken care of in awesome fashion by family, but we still miss all their little isms.... We did Skype with Ragen yesterday as Lucy was sleeping and Ragen just set her head on her hands and looked into the screen and smiled and it just melted us.  We miss them so much and are ready to just scoop up this little brown eyed beauty over here and make our way home.  But we are unsure of when that will be at this point.  We have hit some snags in the process that are making things a bit more unpredictable than planned.  So prayers would be great for a smooth ride the rest of the way and timely court date for bringing her home.

Much love to all reading...

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Day 4 Recap

Not much going on for day 4.  We started the day with a quick breakfast and then headed off to see Harper for our normal morning time with her.  This time we went right with her to the play room inside so that we could have her undivided attention on play and building a bond.  There are about 20 other kids in her group that are always together "playing".  They don't so much play as they just sit around and screw around in the dirt while the nannies/caregivers watch them do nothing.  The little kids seem so bored and so under stimulated that it just breaks our hearts.
So we rolled over to the play room and just started goofing around with her in anyway possible to just start building trust with her and building a bond.  She really loves to give hugs to us so we just started with that.  She just ran back and forth between us and gave hugs over and over again for about 10 min.  Then she started to walk over to a storage area for dolls and pulled out this horrible doll that we have in the pictures.  Last time around the nasty doll that we confronted was this eerie looking doll that had steel blue cold eyes and looked possesed.  This time around it was just a horribly beat up doll that had a mullett hair cut and was about to lose one of her legs to old age.  But she loved it so we just watched her play with it and tried every once in a while to enter into her world the best we could.  Alot of the morning session just was us watching her play and trying to understand what he likes and dislikes might be so that we could learn to join her in her play.
We wrapped up the morning session with a change of a diaper of course as they diaper situation is a bit crazy again.  It is not the same as last year where we saw used diapers hanging in the room to dry to be used again, but she stunk of pee and we just thought we wanted to start in on getting her cleaned up a bit before we left.  She left back to the group, looked back and waved goodbye and we walked home to the hotel.

The afternoon session was a scorcher.  It has been still pretty hot here, in the upper 80s and it was humid as all get out.  The orphanage is in a bit of a low area and so there is no wind that gets in and it is stagnant.  We did the best we could to continue to bond with her and play different games with her.  We played with a ball back and forth, we played with some cars, we played some singing games and she was pretty well engaged with us the whole time.  She was sweating, I was sweating and Dena was really sweating.  We were having a good time but we got cut short when the caretakers came in and took her away.  They seemed to be having dinner a bit earlier than normal and so we had to leave a little bit earlier than we had expected.

We bought her a doll as well that day to see if we could get her used to a new doll and see how she reacted to something new.  But in typical little kid style, she took the doll out, looked at it, played with it for 10 sec and then spent the next hour infatuated with the bag the store gave us to carry the doll in.  Amazing.... What we have learned from her in watching her though is that she is alot like Ragen in her play.  She is a bit independent, never really just sits and takes it in, can play with one thing for seemingly forever and gets upset if you interupt her play.  Similar qualities to Ragen and it will be interesting to see how they interact when they first meet.  I predict some fireworks, but shortly thereafter I think all will be well.

Day five recap tomorrow.  We are waiting for this weekend to end so we can get back to paperwork.  They have so many holidays here and so we just are hoping that we can finish up some paperwork on Monday and get in front of the court on Monday as well for setting of a date with the judge to get full custody.  We are praying hard that this will happen by end of next week, Thursday or Friday.  But we just don't know yet what will happen.  Prayers are welcome on this as we don't want to be away from Ragen and Lucy any longer than we have to.

Interesting Questions

I forgot to tell a quick story in my last post about an interesting question we got from the orphanage director the other day when we first arrived at the orphanage.  Last time around with Lucy, we didn't really face any of these odd questions from the people at the orphanage, but we did get the doozy questoin from the judge when he asked if we Americans sold orphans for body parts.  Yeah, we laughed on the inside too, but calmly told him no and that was never something we would do.  Really we just wanted to bust out laughing and tell him he was high for even thinking something like that.  But just like us, we all come into situations both at home and abroad where we confront preconcieved notions and ideas that we just have to do our best to shoot down as quickly and politely as possible.  And do it in love so that the other person doesn't feel like an idiot for asking.
So on this trip, we really hadn't run into anything like that again until we hit the orphanage and the director ended up asking us at the beginning of the interview why were adopting a second child and why we wanted three kids with Down Syndrome.  Our facilitator did his best to translate and then the fine gentleman looked back at us puzzled and asked us if the US govt somehow rewarded us for having kids with disabilities.  He wanted to know if we got extra money somehow for having these kids.  He just could not wrap his brain around the fact that some people just are ok with having kids that don't look, talk, walk, act or generally behave like typical kids.  It is always a bit sad when people ask questions like this because it actually shows more about their mindset and mentality than ours.  But you also have to just chalk it up to more ignorance than anything else.  Just another reason why our adoption cooridination organization has placed over 800 kids in the last few years with families, as this country still is so backwards in the way they think about, care for and discard children with disabilities.

Friday, August 24, 2012


Here are some pictures from our first few visits.  Big brown eyes and a great laugh....

We Have Arrived- Day 1, 2 and 3 Recap

We have arrived in country and are excited about the days ahead.  The journey here was a bit long, as it always is to get over here, but rather uneventful, which is the way that you would hope that traveling would be.  We had a few moments of frustration and a few moments where God showed up to clean up our frustrations in classic ways.
We left Rochester MN on Monday on a flight to Chicago and then transfered in Chicago to a big ol Boeing 777 for our trip to London.  We arrived in London on Tuesday morning and had about an hour and a half to gather ourselves before continuing on to Eastern Europe.  We took a few moments in the American Airlines/British Airways lounge to catch their great breakfast and some free wifi to catch up on email and for Dena to check in on Facebook.  Then we were off again.
We hoped on our three hour flight to eastern europe and instantly I caught my second wind but Dena hit a wall hard and struggled to get any sleep on that flight.
We landed and did our duty to wait in line for what seemed like forever to clear passport control and customs to pick up our bag.  Once on the other side, our faciliator met us and we were on our way to change money.  While I was waiting in line to change money, Dena and our facilitator brought our bags to his car, which was not good timing because as he was gone, they started clearing the airport arrivals area and I had no idea what they wanted me to do.  Some guy with a white coat came up and started yelling at everyone to do something but I was clueless.  And to boot, I was watching the lady in the exchange booth count out my money she was about to give me so I was in no hurry to go wherever they wanted me to go.
Turns out, as my facilitator raced back in to see how I was doing, they were clearing the airport because of a bomb threat and we needed to get out now.  Thankfully the woman finsihed counting my money and handed it over.  We moved fast to the car and out of site from the airport just in case the threat was more than just a prank.  Turns out it was just a prank and nothing came of the threat.
The rest of the afternoon was rather uneventful, we drove around the city with our facilitator and ran some errands with him and then he dropped us at our apartment.  We got a few small things from the store to tide us over and then we turned in for the night after 30+ hours without sleep.

Day two arrived and it was the day of our first appt with the govt agency that gets the adoption process moving when we are in country, called the SDA.  Our appt was at 11am and we woke up at about 9am, after waking up at Midnight with jet lag, to get ready.  Off we went and the appt took all of about 10 min and we were done.  We had the same lady working with us that we had last year and she remembered us and we showed her pictures of Lucy and how she was adapting.  It was pretty cool.  She made a nice comment to us about how she thought we were good people for doing what we are doing in coming back again, we thanked her for the kind words and said to her that maybe we would see her again next summer!  Not likely!! :)

After the appt we took the rest of the day to take a bit of a tour with our facilitator, as last time we were here we did not have the chance to really explore this big capital city.  It is really pretty and has such history that we wanted to take the time on this trip to do that.  So he took us around the rest of the day to a number of different spots, the highlights being a boat tour on the river the city sits beside and a visit to a Orthodox Christian cathedral called St Michaels.  It was kind of your typical large cool old church until we stepped inside and they were doing one of the rituals they do daily.  As a part of the rituals, the priests and head priest were doing this cool chanting thing that I have never heard in person before which was really cool to hear.
At the end of the day, we were blessed to get our SDA Referral approved in teh same day as we had the appt, which just never happens.  We were excited because this meant we could leave the next day to the region and city where Harper is and get all set up at the orphanage to see her over the long holiday weekend of Friday Sat and Sunday.  If we would have gotten the Referral one day later, we would likely have to have waited till MOnday to see her which would have been a drag.  So we were really blessed to have the nice people work so hard, both our facilitators and the SDA people.

Day three started out really early, getting in the car with our facilitator at 6am for the drive 2.5 hours away to her city.  It was a smooth drive with really nice roads and we moved right along.  We arrived in her city and found it to be about the same size as the city we were in last year, but it seemed to be a bit different, it seemed a bit more modern.  The city we were in last year jsut seemed to be a bit more run down.
We went right away to the local SDA office and our facilitator did some paperwork with the local lady and then we were off to the orphanage.
When we arrived, we noticed right away that this orphanage is much smaller than the one last year.  It is just a few groups of kids, maybe two or three and on a very small grounds.  They have some nice outside space to play, but limited inside space.  Although the inside space they have is laid out well and they have a couple of nice playrooms with all kinds of toys.  Good for the rainy days.
We were brought right into the directors office to meet him and to go over Harpers medical issues and history.  Nothing real revealing in this session.  Mostly just the same ol same old.  Heart condition, issues with general health etc... The funny thing that we both rolled our eyes at though was the Directors statement that she " Does not have much of the downs, in the face".  They said she was pleasant and generally a great demeanour.
Then, out of no where, in romps this little ball of energy with dark brown hair, brown eyes and a small that lights up the room.  She flies right by us and right over to one of the nurses.  She must have a nice bond with her because she got hugs and kisses from her.  We both felt a little disapointed actually with this moment, because last time around they kind of brought Lucy to us and sat her on Denas lap just like she had just had her naturally.  It was a moment for Dena to bond with Lucy and created a special memory.  This time it was not so special.  We were caught off guard and she just ran right past us.  A bit disappointing.
So we got a chance to play with her for about 20 min and then left again, with the intention of coming back later to play longer.
We moved off to the hotel and checked in and got situated while our facilitator ran around on some errands. We settled in and he came back to get us to go shopping for food and to buy a fan for our room. There is no air in teh room and Dena takes medication that makes her very hot most of the time, so we needed something to keep the air flowing in the room.  We got all of that done and then had some lunch and then rested a bit.  Then about 5pm they dropped us back at the orphanage for our longer visit for the day.  From there our facilitator left till Monday and we walked back to the Hotel after.  It is about a 20 min walk and is nice to break up the day with that walk.  Last year we took a taxi everytime cause we couldn't walk and so this time it is nice to not have to do that.  Helps to save money as well.
The afternoon session with Harper was great.  She warmed up to us a bit and we had fun playing with her in the play room.  She is so energetic and smiley and loves to hug.  She is walking and talking and everything that we did not really expect to be honest.  We were expecting more like Lucy and where she is at.  Just barely starting to walk, not really feeding herself, not talking, not good with her motor skills, low tone etc...  She is anything but that.  She has great tone, she walks great, she is doing some talking, she feeds herself fine and wow does she have energy.  In abundance.  I think it is mostly cause they really don't do jack with them all day but sit around and do nothing.  The caretakers here don't seem to be all that motivated to be playing.  They mostly just sit around when we see them and talk and don't pay much attention to the kids unless they are doing something bad and then they scream at them.  Anyways, Harper is just very different than we expected and planned for and it is a bit hard to adjust to, since our other girls are so different from that.  That is what we are used to and comfortable with so this is very new.
We wrapped up day three with our staples, chicken on bread with cheese and some chips and water.  Pretty basic, but it is cheap and easy and we don't have to guess what we are eating.
So that is the first few days we have been here.  Will write up our experience for Friday tomorrow.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Time to GO!

WOW...well when it comes to us and the "U", their timeliness has been extremely quick. Either that or they know somehow that I hate surprises and want to keep me on my toes. We will be leaving this weekend and just found out today! Last year when we traveled for Lucy, we got a 5 day notice....this year we were anticipating a more "normal" waiting period....but no, it's us, what was I thinking??? So we will be leaving in 6 days to drop off our girls with family in Minnesota and then on to the "U". Prayers for my girls as we leave them behind and prayers for our safety and this journey as we travel across the globe to meet our 3rd daughter would be greatly appreciated! Thanks so much!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

I'm here....getting ready once again!

Well as I've admitted before and I'll admit it once again, I am not a good blogger :-P Hopefully Rob will lead us on this part of our crusade once again as we anticipate travel within a few weeks. You would think that since we've been down this road once before that everything would be kosher for me, but it's not. Yes, I'm nervous! Just as nervous as with Lucy....maybe even a little more. So I continue to hold onto God's promises.....that if He leads us to it he will bring us through it....He did NOT forsake us with Lucy, and I know He will be there for us with Harper (Charity). All the questions that keep coming up... What if she doesn't like me? Lucy is a DREAM, what if Harper is the exact opposite? What if I don't bond with her? How will I manage 3 CHILDREN with Down Syndrome? How will Ragen learn to accept her? How will Lucy manage seeing her Mommy hold another? Will there be enough of me to go around? Will we be able to stay afloat financially? How will my girls do while we are gone? The questions seem endless.... Please do NOT get me wrong...I am getting very very excited to meet my daughter, to hold her, to touch her, to smell her, to make her smile, to make her laugh, to bring her chocolate and feed it to her when the caretakers aren't looking :-)'s jut the evil one trying to get to me and put doubts in my head...just like last time. But he will NOT win. Prayers for this upcoming journey in my/our life would be greatly appreciated...

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Yes, it is official. We are going back to get a little girl whose photo I fell in love with the minute I saw it on the RR site. Charity.

Some may think it's too soon, but we are just answering a call that is in our hearts. We are doing what Rob and I say a lot, "walking through the door". That's what we said when we committed to Lucy ("Melanie" on the RR site), we "walked through the door". My new motto lately has been, "Faith is not faith at all without action". Not everyone is called to adopt, but we are all called to support families, pray for them, and help in any way we can. I feel that being a mom to these precious children is my calling. That is the way that I can help the dire situation. I never wouldda thunk it in a million years only 5 years ago, and today, it's in my dreams. I have changed and so has my heart. Join us on our journey to bring Charity home. Please pray for us, donate if you can, and share our story.

Much love to all of you!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Much Needed Update!


Lucy is doing really really well, but even better than that, Ragen just LOVES her little sister! They are becoming great friends! They especially like to laugh at one another when one is doing something they KNOW they shouldn't, so mom is in trouble! When Lucy came home, July 23rd, she barely spoke, could not crawl and wanted NOTHING to do with Ragen. Now, she talks ALL THE TIME, crawls everywhere even up the stairs and down the stairs, walks with assistance with only one hand, and can't wait to see Ragen in the mornings and when one or the other comes home from school. Lucy is in school now and even takes the bus! She really seems to love it! She had her very first Christmas program at school last and dad were so proud. One day an orphan with no future, if she had a future, to being in school, learning with other children, a sister who loves her and loves to play with her, and a mom and dad who would die for her. It was a rough road at first, mainly because of Ragen's difficulty with adjusting...but now, I don't think any of us could imagine life before Lucy. She is a blessing to us and our little family. Rob and I are now considering and praying about beginning the process to bring another angel into our family. We have so much love to give, the tools and resources to raise another "special child". Our hearts and minds are open and ready. Who would have thought that the blessing of having Ragen would have brought so much to our lives...

Friday, September 2, 2011

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Things have been very trying, but I'm doing everything I can possibly do as a mother of 2 toddlers with special needs. I'm exhausted by 6 pm! I know it will pay off, it seems to be already, although very little right now, but I'll take it and I'm grateful for it. I am now believing that bringing Lucy home was a wake-up call. Not only did God want us to rescue this little girl, but He also used this little girl to rescue Ragen in a way. I always knew that Ragen had difficulties when it came to her Autism, but I know that I was is a bit in denial...almost like 'if I ignore it, it will go away on it's own', but unfortunately Autism doesn't work that way, it only gets worse if it's not addressed and I definitely wasn't addressing it in all the ways I could have and should have. I know I relied on the school too much to 'turn her around' and if they didn't step up in the ways I wanted them to, I would have someone else to blame if 'I lost her'. I was doing some things, but not everything that I could be doing prior to Lucy coming home. The closer the time came for us to be ending our adoption journey, the more inadequate I was feeling about being a mother as I watched Ragen seeming to be slipping away. The adoption was going to happen regardless of my insecurities...I gave them to God every day, praying He would take care of my 'stinkin thinkin' somehow someway. The time approaches for us to travel to a far away place to bring our daughter home...a girl we had been dreaming of for a couple years now, well, at least I had been dreaming of her for that long. Little did I realize that once again God was sending me another angel from half way across the world to save me, just has He had sent her older sister almost 5 years ago to change me in ways I had never dreamt of. I began to see that I was not saving her, but she was saving me...this new little one showed me that Ragen needed me in big ways, ways that I hadn't been there before. I had always knew that there were differences between Ragen and other children with just Down syndrome, but I don't think I really SAW it. We'd have playdates, I'd see her at school every now and then for brief periods, at church, but then we would go home, shut the door from the world outside and forget what we witnessed or didn't witness. Now along comes Lucy and I can no longer 'shut the door'. Lucy is here to stay and with her here, she has really helped me to 'SEE' Ragen and 'SEE' the differences, and 'SEE' that she needs the extra help from ME, not anyone else, but ME, her momma. The first couple of weeks that Lucy was home was very hard. I kept saying that Ragen was being so difficult and she was having such a hard time adjusting, but if I were to be honest, it was me that was having the hard time really 'SEEING' my daughter for the first time and knowing that I could not run anymore, nor could I give her to someone else to fix, nor was it going to go away....SHE NEEDED MY INTERVENTION, the intervention only a mother can give. So I got up off my butt, stopped whining (although I still whine every now and then :-D), and started exhausting all my resources to find out what I can do as her mother to make her feel better and help her progress as quickly as she can and as quickly as she wants to. I've changed her diet 100% (and thank GOD she is eating it...some things are a little strange, but they fit the bill and she is eating it...PTL!!), changed laundry soap, shampoos, and in the process of ridding my cabinet under the sink of all chemical cleaners. Figured out what type of regulation techniques to use on her based on the stimming she is doing and what time of day it is. I pray to God each and every day and throughout the day, to give me patience, wisdom, peace and for Him to love her through me. I give Him all my insecurities that I have as a mother to have Him fill in the blanks because she is His daughter and I am only taking care of her for Him while she and I are on this earth together.

Yesterday and today God gave me a glimpse, a little reward for all the work, HE LET ME SEE MY GIRL!!!...I got to see into her sparkling eyes as she smiled back at ME, and not just smile into space at nothing. The photo above is the proof. It was the most beautiful moment I had had in a long time with her....what a gift He gave me...

Yeah life is definitely difficult right now and God never promises that it will be easy, but the difficulties and the trials come with GREAT rewards. The kind of rewards that are little to most people, but not to me, and they are priceless. I think God is pleased and I thank Him for many things, but right now I'm really thanking Him for sending me this angel named Lucy...she helped me to find Ragen....


Sunday, July 24, 2011