Called to Adopt?

Today when reading a facebook post from a friend, I found this link on her wall.  Monroe is in the Ukraine right now…just like our children.  I urge you to prayerfully read his story… 

“Monroe WILL be transferred in just six months time. That’s how long a family has to get to him.  The institution he will be moved to is known to be one of the worst in the country.  There is no way sweet Monroe can survive there.  Absolutely no way.”

To read the whole story from the blog No Greater Joy Mom click here.

Want to Know More About Ukrainian Adoption?

During the past couple of weeks, I’ve heard from two different people about a group that is bringing Ukrainian orphans to the U.S. this summer and is in need of host families.  The group is called “Red Line United” and  here’s a snapshot of what this group is doing:

“In Summer 2010, we will be bringing 10-20 children from Jonkoi orphanage in southern Ukraine to spend three weeks living with families in the Raleigh, NC. These orphans will be ages 9-14, an age where it is difficult to impossible to find adoptive familes. The program’s main goal is to expose children to families that may be interested in adoption, and we need your help to find families!”

If you are at all interested in adoption or if you have a heart for providing three-week foster homes for these children, or if you just want to help this organization in their work, click here to learn more about how you can get involved: http://www.redlineunited.org

As a side note, I recently found a link to a blog run by one of my former high school teachers, Bill Finley, and his wife about their adoption experience.  They adopted a little girl from — you guessed it — the Ukraine!  And what makes it even more special — they adopted after having hosted the girl through a program similar to the Red Line United program.  Here’s a link to their story: http://www.finleylifetothefull.com It is truly amazing what God can do when one family agrees to step up and help make a difference!  Are you being asked to help?  Why not prayerfully ask God to speak to you today about it?

In our second trimester … of adoption!

You don’t have to get too far into adoption to find there is no shortage of analogies for the adoption process!  One of the best analogies I have encountered during my adoption reading, preparation, and training is the analogy of a typical pregnancy.  Having been through two typical pregnancies (if you can consider any pregnancy typical!), I found myself instantly connecting with this analogy for the adoption process.  As with any new pregnancy, the initial phase of adoption is chocked full of emotion, excitement, head spinning “what if’s”, and even a bit of a weak stomach. 

The initial phase also includes sharing the news with family and friends and wanting to tell the entire world about your growing family.  For me, the initial phase will usually also include devouring multiple books offering some insight into my growing family (by the way I highly recommend Adopted for Life by Russell Moore for anyone to read-whether or not you are considering adoption–click here to read a great review of this book from my friend, Melissa).  After you get past the first trimester of newness and become more familiar with the idea and reality of your growing family, the second trimester begins.

In our adoption process, we are in the second trimester.  We have about 4-5 months until our family is together and our adoption “pregnancy” is over.  During this second trimester, we are lovingly bombarded with questions about how things are moving along.  I long to be able to offer detailed insight each time I am asked this caring question.  The reality, however, is that we are still waiting and completing some paperwork.  We still do not know yet whether we are having boys or girls or a boy and a girl, we still do not know anymore about our travel plans, and we still have no certainty about the health of our children right now.  Much like with both of my pregnancies, life has a way of continuing with day to day happenings.  Other than a little less sleep and a few more dr. visits, my life has not been dramatically changed in my day to day world…yet. 

Yet…that is my word of hope.  I know the plans God has for my family.  He has plans to prosper us and not to harm us.  I know God has adoption plans for us.  He has plans for our family to grow in a way I still cannot fully imagine.  In the case of adoption, I do not have the constant reminder of a growing belly and a little heartburn, instead I have the burning desire to hold my children, and the faithful trust that God is in control and will allow exactly what He wants to allow as we undergo this process.  Much like with pregnancy, however, I am encouraged by knowing so many have gone this path before and have weathered the process. 

The second trimester is pretty good…feeling energetic…excited about the unknown..nothing new to share…

In my second trimester,  I will continue to get some sleep each night I can, since I hear the plane ride over to Kiev is quite an intensive “labor” without the option of the epidural!

Thoughts on July 4th and Adoption

July 4th is a wonderful time each year for our family.  We love to do the traditional things like grill out, make a trip to a pool and watch fireworks (lots and lots of fireworks!).  We also like to read through portions of the Declaration of Independence as a reminder of exactly why our nation was created and the principles that are important to us, especially the concept of freedom.

This year, however, I found my typical thoughts about July 4th focusing on what our children in the Ukraine will think about our American holiday once they are Americans.  To recap– when we adopt the children and bring them home with us, the moment they touch down on U.S. soil and pass through customs with their Citizenship and Immigration Service paperwork, they will become Americans– right away!  It’s exciting to know that I will be there at the exact moment that two of my children become American citizens!

So, this year, the children we’re adopting spent July 4th in an orphanage in the Ukraine, totally unaware of what July 4th means to Americans.  And next year, Lord willing, they will be in the United States, they will be Americans and they will be enjoying the holiday that celebrates freedom.  And they will do it while getting used to the idea of what their new country is all about.  Bottom line: even though the last round of fireworks is just about to die out for this year’s July 4th celebration, I’m already excited and looking forward to July 4th 2011!

So … why adopt from Ukraine?

It’s a question we’ve heard quite a bit: why are you adopting from the Ukraine? We’re always glad to talk about it because it is part of our adoption story.  When we first were called to adopt, like most adopting families, we had to make a decision: domestic or international adoption.  While we know that there are many children in the U.S. that need a great family, we really felt led to consider international adoption.  I don’t know how else to say it other than God laid it in our heart to look overseas.

Of course, there are many countries and lots of orphanages to consider when you decide to adopt from another country and it can be a little overwhelming.  In doing our research, we came across resources such as Lifesong for Orphans (watch a great video here about Lifesong & adoption) and Show Hope (Steven Curtis Chapman’s organization) that helped us understand that one of the best things we could do would be to work with an adoption agency that would help us navigate the adoption waters.  After a careful review, we selected Christian World Adoption, which is based in Flat Rock, N.C. and Charleston S.C.  CWA works in specific countries around the world and they can help in identifying the country that is a potential best-fit for your adoption process.  So, initially, we elected to work with … Khazakhstan.  That’s right, Khazakhstan.  You know, that large country just south of Russia!  Yeah– we didn’t know much about it either.  But, we were impressed with their approach to adoption and the condition of their orphanages.  So, we started the process.  But then, we learned that CWA had not received any referrals in Khazakhstan for siblings (if you want to adopt two children, many Eastern European countries require that the children be siblings) in the past eight years of working there.  So, after further consultation with CWA, they advised us to look into their Ukraine program.  And for us, it was immediately a good fit.  There are so many children waiting to be adopted, CWA has processed several “sibling groups” in the recent past and the timetable to adopt from the Ukraine is about 8-10 months (compared to 4 years for China).  So, we decided to change our application from Khazakhstan to Ukraine and we were on our way.

In the months since that decision, we can definitely say that we’ve learned a lot about the Ukraine.  We even followed the presidential elections in the Ukraine (wow, that was different!) to keep tabs on the political climate within the country.  It’s strange how you can become so connected to a place that you’ve never been to.  But, when God tells you that two of your children currently live there, you really want to know all you can about the place where they live.

So, that’s how we came to our decision to adopt from the Ukraine.  We are very excited about travelling there.  And of course, we’re most excited about bringing home our children from there.

One last thing: if you’d like to get a sense of what it is like in a Ukrainian orphanage, watch this brief video.  Warning: you might want to get a tissue; it’s a little tough to watch.