Tuesday, May 27, 2008


We've gotten our first taste of the waiting that is to come. It has been 2 weeks since our homestudy process was completed, but the report is still not done. This is because of some last minute additional requirements because of the new Hague standards, but I digress.

It doesn't matter why we're waiting, the fact is we are. This is the first moment in the process when we have nothing more to do but wait. This is not how I normally function. I am normally a "what's to be done, let's do it" type of person, so typically waiting is VERY hard for me, however...

Grace, Grace, God's grace
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within...

For the first time in my life, I am not fretful, stressed or tying myself in knots over my lack of ability to speed the process. Now, I won't lie to you and say that the past 2 weeks haven't felt like 2 months because they have. I also am very aware that we've only been waiting 2 weeks and our "real" waiting hasn't even begun yet. That will come after the Philippines has all our paperwork and has "logged us in" so we'll be waiting for a referral. I think, though, that the "sloooow"-moving-time-feeling is more due to the slow down of activity surrounding the process than any anxiety or tension. For several weeks we were compiling information, filling out forms, taking classes, and writing auto-biographies all the live-long day, so now if feels as if there is nothing to do. It's kind of...weird.

At any rate, we hope to get our last bit of info from the friendly folks in the state of Alabama, and have our homestudy report in hand very soon. Once we have that we'll be sending in our dossier and we'll be off to the races. Now our dossier...that's a-whole-nother post...

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Home Study...here we go

WOW!! I mean, I knew that a home study was intense, but I don't think I understood the use of the word intense for this process until I was actively participating in completing it. For those who have not completed a home study (and those who have and want to pat yourself on the back for all your hard work) here is a list of what we've been doing since I last posted on 4/16:
  1. 1. Application

  2. 2. Financial form - basically every piece of financial information you could imagine and then several that you have never thought about much less know where to find :)

  3. 3. Physician form - get a physical and test for things you'd never imagined you'd have to be tested for

  4. 4. Letter from Pediatrician regarding children in the home - stating that they are healthy, normal and not likely to fall apart physically any time soon

  5. 5. Reference Letters from:

  6. 1. Employer
    2. Parents of each parent-to-be
    3. Someone in leadership at church (assuming you're involved in church which we are)
    4. Three separate friends who know you well enough to speak intelligently on your character and you parenting style/skills

  7. 7. Child abuse disclaimer form - a form that states you've never been convicted of child abuse...seriously

  8. 8. Fingerprints for each adult in the home - to run background checks through the TBI

  9. 9. Local background check for each adult in the home...why don't the local officials and TBI have the same background checking data...hmmmm...

  10. 10. Copy of income tax return

  11. 11. Copy of W-2

  12. 12. Copy of marriage certificate

  13. 13. Copy of birth certificate for each person in the family

  14. 14. Self study - a 6 to 10 page autobiography detailing how you grew up, were raised, disciplined, schooled, made fun of on the play ground and how that has effected your adult relationships....oh sorry, that was just me ;)

  15. 15. Questions titled "Thoughts about adoption" - these were easy, just questions like "How will you talk to your child about her adoption story?" and "What do you think could make your placement succeed or fail?" You know just simple questions like that...

  16. 16. Certificates of Completion for 10 hours worth of Adoptive Parent Education classes

  17. 17. Completed US Citizenship and Immigration Services form titled "Form I800A, Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a (Hague) Convention Country" - This simple and easy to use form is only 11 pages long, so really, no biggie

Whew! Now that we are in the home stretch and trying to also gather all our dossier materials (more on that in another post!) I would ask each of you who reads this blog to begin praying for our little girl and her birth family. We won't know what circumstances have surrounded her in the Philippines until we get her packet, and maybe not even then, so I just ask you to pray. Pray for her safety (both real and perceived), her health, her comfort, that her birth mother is safe and healthy, and that God would pierce her heart (the mother's) and reveal Himself to her as the God who Sees, Heals, Protects, Fights for, and Provides.

My story

Shortly before we found out we were going to have Caleb, the Lord began pursuing me so persistently that even now I am overwhelmed with the determination He has to redeem each of us. Here are just a few of the things He worked out on my behalf:

I had been working for a small engineering firm as the bookkeeper for about 2 years and the job I held really did not need to be a full time job. One day, probably 2 weeks before I found out I was pregnant, my boss offered me the opportunity to reduce my hours to part time, if I wanted to. What an amazining providential blessing it was to be able to nap in the afternoon during my 1st trimester!

In January '05, we officially joined Fellowship and a small group there. Caleb was due in April, so when we met our small group (which we are still in 3 years later) I was 6 months pregnant. After knowing us only 2 months, they threw us a surprise baby shower. This was the beginning of my finally feeling like Franklin, TN is my home. We had lived in Franklin for 4 and a half years, and I still had no close friends, but the women in this group are still my friends today.

Shortly after Caleb was born, I was introduced to two women very briefly who would later become two of my best friends, Kim and Missy. Then in the summer, I was walking past a registration table for women's bible studies at our church and felt pulled toward one particular study. At the time I didn't know why. I mean the study was on Samuel II and the life of King David, and I was never very interested in the "Old Testament". I signed up anyway, and was actually very excited because it was a day time women's study and I was finally able to do that since I was, for the first time, a stay at home mom.

When I went to the study for the first time on a Thursday in September, I was nervous because I didn't know anyone...or I thought I didn't. At the end of the class, Kim walked right up to me and reintroduced herself and gave me her phone number and encouraged me not to give up when I saw how much homework was associated with this series of class (it is a Precept Upon Precept class). The next Tuesday, I was scheduled to work in the nursery at church to care for the children of the women in the Tuesday women's study and when I walked in to the room I was assigned to, there was Kim again. The Lord just knew that I needed a friend like her and she is still one of my "nearest and dearest" as my mom used to say.

After all this, I still didn't realize that I had never claimed my faith for my own and CONFESSED with my own mouth my desperate need for my Savior. Then I began studying Samuel II and the life of King David. David's desperate need for the Lord, and his constant willingness to repent of his sins so spoke to my heart and exposed the rottenness in my life. While we studied Samuel II in Precept, the church was studying John on Sundays. Between those two books it became so crystal clear to me that my life showed no evidence of salvation. My tree had no fruit. So one Sunday morning - I don't remember which one, but I do remember who was teaching, the "order" of worship and where I was sitting - I was so overcome with my need for my Savior that I gave my life to Him on the spot and was immediately overcome with an urgency to be baptised. This really surprised me because I had thought before that being baptised as an adult, in front of the entire church, with children being baptised before you and then right after, spot-lighting your "adultness" would be...well...embarrassing. Because of this perception, it was really a stretch of my new faith to reach out and make the committment and sign up.

My husband baptised me in February of 2006. I am still in Precept upon Precept bible studies with a study leader who has become like a second mother to me. And, now, with infertility in our story again, I am so grateful for the God who not only closes, but also opens wombs and who has created adoption as a way to both redeem my life and grow our family.

Caleb's story

I have mentioned here before my sweet son Caleb. Caleb turned 3 about 2 weeks ago and his birthday combined with the frantic gathering of information associated with completing a home study and dossier has caused me to reflect on all the frantic scurrying Steven and I did trying to have Caleb in the first place.

You see, it took Steven and I about 2 and a half years of trying, failing, fertility treatments and doctors before Caleb came to be. The funny part of that is that all of our scurrying and doctor's intervention had nothing at all to do with us finally becoming pregnant. Here's what happened:

When we had been married a little over a year, we decided it was time for us to start our family. (Notice I said WE decided...this had nothing at all to do with the Lord's leading which isn't all surprising since I didn't know the Lord much less what it would feel like to be lead by Him.) I stopped taking my birth control, and away we go. After about 4 months, I went to my annual gyn appointment and told her that we were trying, and when she found out it had been 4 months and my body hadn't yet regulated from being off the birth control, she ran some tests and discovered that I have PCOS which is fancy for I don't ovulate regularly. She prescribed clomid, and, again, away we go. We used the clomid for about a year with no result. At this point my doctor told us that, since she is not a specialist, we were past her ability to help us. She refered us to a fertility clinic. Now, I just want to stop right here and say that from the first mention of the words "fertility clinic" I knew deep in my heart that I would not have invitro fertilization (IVF). Not because it is inherantly evil, or anything, I just knew it wasn't the path I was going to walk down.

When we went to the fertility clinic they explained the process. We would first have 3 rounds of artificial insemination (AI) and if that didn't work, we would move on to IVF (or not). Each round of AI would take one month and have to be timed perfectly. We did all three rounds by July of '04.

About the time we were completeing our last AI, we went to visit my dad and his wife in Alabama. We went to church with them on Sunday morning and we were BLOWN AWAY. Steven and I had been attending the same church together since before we were married, but we had never heard teaching like this, or been to a church that used contemporary worship music. We decided when we left to drive home that afternoon that we needed to find a church like that at home because we'd been talking for awhile about how something just seemed to be missing from our old church...I now know it was real teaching from the Word of God combined with pastors that challenge us to stretch ourselves and give our lives away for Christ.

The following week, we went in to the clinic for a pregnancy test which turned out to be negative. Since this was the 3rd time, they explained to us that our next step would be either another AI, but this time with the injectable medication that is used for IVF and could easily cause high order multiples (you know, triplets, quadruplets, or further crazy numbers that would break my small frame in half), or we could skip straight to IVF. I was devastated. I knew in my heart that IVF wasn't for me, but neither was triplets, etc. Steven wasn't as convinced as I was, so we talked about it...a lot. I felt called to adopt, but I didn't know if the time was now or not and Steven felt pretty sure that it wasn't. He was still holding on tightly to the dream of a biological child in addition to an adopted child. To tell the truth so was I.

So that Sunday we went to church at Fellowship Bible Church for the first time, where we now attend. We were again blown away. At the end of the service, there was an announcement that the "learn more about this church" class called Discovery One that meets monthly was that evening. Yep, you guessed it, we came back! We couldn't stay away. The teaching was line by line, verse by verse, book by book (I later learned that is called "expository teaching". That day I just knew I was learning what God had to say, not what someone else had to say about God). At the end of the class, I went up and asked the teaching pastor if there was anything in the bible about the principles of IVF that would help me understand why I was so uncomfortable with the idea of taking that route to build our family. The things he told me and showed me struck so deeply in my heart that I knew I was hearing the truth that I could not verbalize, but that was driving my hesitation.

The next night, I went to a gathering with some friends, two of which are very godly women. They knew that we were supposed to find something out about our fertility process the week before so after the meeting they pulled me aside and asked me about it. I started crying because I had begun to feel that pregnancy was not going to be part of my life experience. They listened patiently and then one of them said, "Can we pray for you?" Now, I don't know if you've ever said yes to that question expecting the person to pray...you know...LATER, but that is what I fully expected. After all, they did say "pray FOR you" not "pray WITH you" I had never in my life had anyone pray over me much less lay hands on me to do so, but that is exactly what they did. As they prayed and I wept, I began to open my heart to the Lord.

Okay, so, I guess I should tell you that I grew up in Alabama, so like a lot of Southerners, I thought I was a Christian by heritage. In other words, I grew up in and around church, so I thought (when I gave it any thought, which was rare) that I was "saved". The only problem with that is that I had never asked Jesus to SAVE ME. I had never asked him to FORGIVE ME. I had never REPENTED. I had never in my life had a "Romans moment" when I BELIEVED in my HEART and CONFESSED with my MOUTH. Because of this, I had heard a lot of what some people call "Christian-ese" phrases like "Talked to God", "Heard from God", or "Turned it over to God" and I had never had a clue what in the world those words meant...until those women prayed.

In that moment, I understood the meaning of the phrase "Turn it over to God" because in that moment I fully understood that I could not make myself pregnant, and neither could Steven make me pregnant. Only the good Lord, God, could do such a thing because He forms our bodies and knits us together in our mother's wombs. In that moment, I turned my pain, my feelings of loss, my grief, my desire to be a mother, and most of all my attempts to control the situation over to God.

Don't ask me how I know (this is a family-friendly blog), but Caleb was concieved the following Saturday. GOD IS GOOD and HIS MERCY ENDURES FOREVER!!

More on when I actually came to know MY GOOD GOD, in my next post.