Friday, February 24, 2012

A little Chinese while we wait...

How cool is this?  Our homestudy agency sent us this handbook.  We are their only Taiwan adoption---so far.  They mostly do Haiti adoptions but thought of us when they were ordering the other books.  Yay!  Anyway, this book is awesome!!!  If you're wondering....
I love you=Wo ai ni (Waw eye nee)
I will always love you=Wo yong yuan ai ni (Waw yoong ywan eye nee)

Oh, the best part?  There's a cd for us to listen to. :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

tick tock

As I'm typing this, it's 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in Central Texas.  In Taiwan, it's 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday.  Ling is getting ready to start her day and her birth family is probably getting ready to start theirs or they have already started it.  I got an email from a sweet, sweet friend today and she wrote, "Pray for God's Will to be done and for the family's hearts to be in line with His Will."  I couldn't have said it any better, so I stole borrowed her words.

14 We are sure that if we ask anything that He wants us to have, He will hear us. 15 If we are sure He hears us when we ask, we can be sure He will give us what we ask for.  I John 5:14-15

Monday, February 20, 2012

her birth family

In Taiwan, after the orphanage approves you to adopt a specific child, the child's birth family (if known) gets to either approve or disapprove the family.  That's where we are in the process.  On Wednesday (Tuesday evening/night here) her birth family will get to "meet" us through our homestudy for the first time.  I have gone back and forth emotionally for a few days now.  I am so anxious to get an answer but I feel a deep sorrow for her family and the sacrifice they have made.  We would love for you to pray for her family, for Ling, and for us.  Anytime you want to bring us before our Heavenly Father is alright with me, but if you would remember us all on Tuesday night I would really appreciate that. 

a conversation I want to remember for always

Savannah (our 5 year-old) brought me a placemat map a few weeks ago and asked me if I wanted to see where our baby lived.  I said sure and she pointed to Taiwan.  I told her that she was right and then she showed me where we lived (in South America---teehee).  So I showed her about where we were in Texas and she said that that was really far away from our baby.  I said yes but then rolled up the map to show her we're really just an ocean away.  She was happy and took the map with her somewhere else.  Kyle came home and she showed him Taiwan and then Texas.  He said to her that's really far away, huh?  She took the map and rolled it up like I did and showed him that it's really just an ocean away. :)  Melted my heart.  Watching my kids prepare and gain that understanding is so sweet. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Tons of great info about Down Syndrome click here (Ling goodness)

the miracle of the fingerprints and other true stories

In Texas, it takes 2-3 weeks to get the fingerprint results back in.  Because of a glitch with my information, we didn't get ours done until January 28.  A little sidenote here, fingerprinting in our part of the world can take place at a tutoring center called Sylvan Learning Center.  Who knew?!  Anyway, the goal for the official approved homestudy was February 6.  If you can do math in your head (I can't at all!) you know that those 2 dates are a little closer together than 2-3 weeks. That's basically a timespan of 1 week and 2 days--including weekends (I cheated and looked at a calendar for those enormous numbers).  I don't know that I had even mustard seed faith as I prayed for a miracle.  I asked God to hurry up the state of Texas.  I know, I know...right?  Well, we got to the Friday before the Monday that it was all due.  I stalked my phone!  Nothing....God hadn't rushed those fingerprints through.  I got really sad.  Well, Kyle was coaching a game and Ryan was at an away game so the other 4 kids and I hung out.  We decided to play battle of the bands on Lego Rockband.  Occasionally, I get to come in as a vocalist.  Teehee.  Did you like the way that sounded like a real official part?  I'm not a great singer. I enjoy it but nobody's calling me in to perform even back-up vocals---if you know what I mean.  If I'm standing next to the wrong person at church, I'm completely lost on the notes.  Anyway, we usually only listen to KLOVE, Air1, or AFR but I do know some of those other silly lyrics from my high school days.  Thankfully, Lego Rockband is pretty clean and if it's not, the kids don't get to play that song.  So they chose "Free Fallin'".  Yep, I actually know those lyrics.  Shameless brag coming up---I got a 100!!!!  Just so we're clear, I amazed my kids.  I stink at video games so pretty much this may be my one and only victory on any game system anywhere.  To date, I'm the only one to score a 100 on this particular game.  I'm just sayin'.  So thanks to the distraction and my performance, I left my phone on the kitchen counter and forgot about it.  At 10:18 p.m. I was walking past it and noticed it was lit up.  There was a message!  Even better, it was a message from our case worker from earlier in the evening!  Her message was about our medical clearance forms and being able to wrap it up and oh, by the way, our fingerprints came back already!!!!  Tell me what our God can't do!

The little cherry on top?  When we started this process we had no idea where all of the money was going to come from---still don't.  Kyle is a teacher and coach and I stay home with our kiddos.  We do "meet or exceed" the USCIS income requirements but even if you can't do math in your head (like me) you can probably guess that we don't have $20,000 sitting around in an account somewhere.  Still, I felt like God was specifically calling us to just step out of the boat.  I kept getting that message everywhere I went.  Church, conversations...I couldn't escape it.  I still hesistated, but Kyle was the one to say it was time to take the next step.  He said that after he came home from work one day. He had left his wallet at home and driven our Suburban 35 miles from work on an empty tank. If God could provide fuel from nothing to get him home, then He could provide the money to get Ling home.  Well, we did step out of that boat and our first big adoption bill came from our homestudy agency.  You know what?  The same day that we got the invoice, our tax return was deposited into our bank account.  My mustard seed faith grew "3 sizes that day"!

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling. Psalm 68:5

Homestudy, Basketball Season, and Co-op--Oh My!

So, I mentioned before that we emailed back and forth with the orphanage for about 2 months.  They basically gave us a homestudy through those emails.  On December 29 (Happy New Year to us!) I opened an email that floored me.  The orphanage had approved us to adopt Ling, they just needed to receive our official homestudy.  Oh, yeah, that thing!  So I contacted our homestudy agency here in Texas.  We had already been talking to them but all of the sudden we needed our homestudy completed like yesterday.  I had this stack of paperwork to turn in and so began the official process. Now, I have a teeny tiny bit of OCD and I actually had almost all of the paperwork on hand, so I thought.  I had our birth certificates, marriage license, insurance papers, mortgage, etc...  What I didn't have were notarized medical forms, enough life insurance, a notarized bank statement, notarized employment income letters, and pretty much notarized anything. 

Now, while I don't believe it takes a village to raise a child, it takes one to pull together all of the paperwork!  First were the medical clearances for all 7 of us.  We have a friend in our homeschool family that happens to be married to a doctor.  He actually had all of us come over at the same time, in the evening, and turned the paperwork in to someone at his office to notarize them.  Seriously!  There's a special place in our hearts for this family. :)  We needed a notarized bank statement from our bank.  We turned a sample letter into them, they charged us $10 and basically sent us a statement I could've pulled off of the internet for free.  We went in to talk to them and even had a letter for them to fill in and notarize.  They refused!  Apparently, our bank is quite skilled at adoption paperwork and told us our agency was wrong.  They wouldn't even sign and notarize the statement they sent us.  Thankfully, our homestudy agency was fine with their document. 

Along with this we had interviews to complete for the homestudy.  First Kyle and I went to Marble Falls where the homestudy agency's office is.  We took Cailey, our 11 year-old daughter with us.   About 1 1/2 weeks later our caseworker came and spent an entire day with us.  She did a family interview, individual interviews with all 7 of us, and a couple interview with Kyle and I. 

The whole time this is going on, my goal is to get our draft turned in to the placing agency.  Well, finally, it was done. PHEW!  I came up for a breath of air and then found out we needed the complete official approved homestudy in.  It was a week before the orphanage was returning from celebrating their Chinese New Year and the goal was to get it on their desk so they would have it first thing.  Now what was a slightly tense but meandering process became an all out sprint.  We were still missing Kyle's life insurance, the notarized medical forms, and our fingerprints.  This all managed to happen during basketball season (Kyle's a coach at a public High School, our oldest son Ryan plays for the Christian School that is at our church) and the first week of our Spring co-op (I'm the secretary).  Our caseworker works in Marble Falls for 2 days out of the week and then from her home (several hours away) the other 3.  I didn't want to mail them to our agency if she wasn't going to be there.  She offered to come by our house on her way back home on Wednesday.  Bless her heart.  So Tuesday night around 10 p.m. our life insurance guy had me install a sorta fancy skype  on our laptop, interviewed me online (Kyle was coaching a game), and got Kyle processed for an extra policy.  I had the email paperwork in hand on Wednesday.  That same Wednesday,  I was getting nametags ready for Co-op and tying up loose ends while trying to track down our medical forms and pick up a fax I needed for the homestudy.  I stalked those poor people that had the medical forms for a few hours.  I was expecting to have to drive over to the next city to get them when they called and said they were here in our city at another office.  Woohoo!  I rush and get them, go home and pick up Ryan to take him to basketball practice.  I was scheduled to be in the church nursery that night, and our case worker still hadn't been by our house.  She came by our church nursery to get the paperwork. :)  What a blessing she was!  Now...there were just those fingerprints.

147 million minus 1

Did you know that there are about 147 million orphans in the world?  I have a hard time wrapping my brain around those kind of numbers.  I've wanted to adopt for about 9 years now.  For Kyle (my husband) it's been about 6.  It took us a little while to get here.  We've had a few "attempts" but God always closed those doors.  In early November, my friend, Angela, sent me an email with some pictures of some precious orphans in an orphanage in Taipei, Taiwan.  It was the same orphanage that they had adopted their youngest daughter from.  Each country has different requirements and we had too many children in our home to qualify for Taiwan's program.  Still, we prayed.  We serve a God that can open doors that nobody else can open so we contacted the placing agency and began a conversation through them with the orphanage about 2 little girls.  We decided that until God showed us a specific child we would stay open to whoever He had for us. 

Being open to both was so hard.  There were times I'd walk around in our backyard praying for God to show me which one.  There was a time when I thought my heart would break if I had to choose 1 because that meant that we were not choosing the other.  Does that make sense?  There were several times the burden of it made me break down and cry. Finally, somewhere in those 2 months, I had sent a question to our placing agency about both girls.  She wrote back, "... your child."  Those are some of the most amazing words I've ever read---"your child"!  In that split second I knew.  Kyle happened to be reading it with me and I turned to him and told him, "It's Ling."  Now, of course, I wanted confirmation.  I emailed right back, "Which one is ours?!"  Did I mention that I like to be thorough?  We didn't get a response.  It was like getting to the end of a suspense novel with the last page missing.  Finally the next day, we couldn't stand it.  We were bouncin' off the walls waiting for the reply.  I called.  Yep, it was Ling.  The best part?  The other sweetie pie has a forever family all of her own, too!!!

So Ling is our minus 1 (147 million minus 1).  We're still open to God changin' it up and moving us in a different direction.  The Bible says that God puts the lonely in homes.  We don't want to force an adoption that God hasn't set in place.  A friend of mine worded it well when she said that we don't want an Ishmael, we want an Isaac(Genesis 15-21).  Selfishly, I already love this sweet little one and am anxious to get her home.  With that comes a love that really wants what's best for her and God's got that.  He knows what that looks like and we're trusting Him.

If you want to make God laugh...

Well, welcome! 

I thought to start things out, I should explain why I chose the title of my blog.  It's a quote from the movie Bella (<--a must see).  The first time I heard it, it occurred to me that I must make God laugh--A BUNCH!  I pretty much had a list of "nevers" that I started out with that He has changed my heart about over the years.  I would never drive a mini-van, homeschool my children, have more than 1 or 2 children....  You get the point.  I am pleased to tell you that we did drive a mini-van (for a while), I do homeschool my children, and we have 5 children and are adopting our 6th from Taiwan.  This, by the way, is a very micro-mini list of the things God has changed in me.  The complete list could possibly be a blog all on it's own.  Maybe that one could be titled Beth's ridiculous list of nevers.  Or maybe A Series of Almost Unfortunate Events.

The majority of posts in this blog will be about our adoption.  I'm usually a pretty quiet kind of gal, but if me being real and open about our adoption turns "147 million orphans minus 1" into 2 or 3 or 4... then here I am.  The other posts...hmmm...I don't know yet.  I guess grab some chocolate (I'm assuming you like chocolate.  It's not a prerequisite or anything, though.), pull up a seat, and join us as I pour my heart out on a public blog.

In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.  Proverbs 16:9