Want to win an iPad 2?

 

    Want to win an iPad 2? Enter our raffle! All proceeds will be going straight into our adoption fund to help bring our son, Maddox, home from South Korea.

 Here’s how it works:

 –   For each $10 ticket you purchase between now and Saturday, May 7th  you will be entered into the drawing for a 16 GB Apple iPad 2.

–  Folks, we are simple people. At this time we can only accept checks or cash as payment but that is because…well, we are not technologically savvy. : )   If we figure out a way to add a paypal option to the blog we will do so.  –  You can purchase a ticket online using Chip in here.

 – If you purchase a ticket and  link to this post on Facebook (or on your blog)  you will receive 1 “extra” entry into the drawing. Please leave a comment here if you do,so that I’ll know to give you your extra entry. Sorry, only 1 “extra” entry per person.

–  The drawing will be held on Saturday May 7th, 2011. The winner will be contacted by phone as well as posted here on the blog.

 We can’t begin to thank you for your support! By purchasing a ticket you are joining us in this amazing journey to bring our son home! Thank you!

Overflowing with Joy

 

      I lost my engagement ring yesterday.  I’m a scatterbrained, disorganized mama that can’t keep up with permission slips but I’ve managed to keep up with this ring for almost 8 years.  That in itself is a miracle.I sat down with our social worker yesterday and looked down and it was just gone. It was cold yesterday morning and I’m thinking it must have just slipped off my finger somewhere. You think I would be in an absolute panic about this. I haven’t. I actually am surprised at how calm I’ve been.  Does that ring mean a lot to me? Absolutely. It’s the ring my husband gave me on bended knee when he promised to love me forever and asked me to be his wife. It’s very special and is irreplacable.

  But, it’s also a reminder to me of the old us. The people who were empty and thought they needed things to make them happy. The people who racked up debt and lived beyond their means because they thought they deserved nice things. Houses, cars, shopping trips… Don’t get me wrong those first few years of our life together were so much fun but they left us feeling empty and anxious when we looked at our credit card statements. Something was missing and it wasn’t stuff! What’s ironic about this is it’s the exact reason we can’t fully fund this adoption all by ourselves. We will be doing fundraisers to help raise the money to bring Maddox home. It’s a big hit to my pride and I’m working on it but it’s hard.

   Somewhere along the way, (I mean I know where but that’s a story for another day), we found what makes us whole. What should have been in the center of our marriage like we promised on our wedding day. That something was Christ. And, for all of you that knew me before I can tell you are rolling your eyes. That’s ok. Because I was there too. I thought people who gushed about Jesus were well..annoying. I totally get it. But, then when it happens to you and you can see exactly how He has worked in your life to change your heart it’s almost impossible not to share it.

   So, back to the ring. I’m sad because it was sentimental but I’m completely ok if I never  find it. Our lives are different now and I don’t need a sparkly ring to know my husband is crazy about me. All he has to do is look at me and I have all the confirmation I need. A lingering  hand grabbed in a parking lot, asking me to dance barefoot in the kitchen, a load of dishes put away, those are the things that show me he’ll love me forever. Not a ring. Do I think it’s wrong to have a big, sparkly diamond on your hand? Absolutely not! I think it’s great. And you better believe if I find my ring I will wear it proudly. But, losing it has just been a reminder to me of how far we’ve come and it feels good. It’s like God used my ring to remind me that I can’t do this without Him. I can’t bring my son home without Him. I can’t be the mother I want to be without Him. I can’t be the woman my husband needs me to be without Him. I don’t need that ring. I need Him. And, I’m ok with that. I’m thankful of the reminder.

  This morning I was on the way to take my precious girl to school and I turned the music up. The Chris Tomlin song “All My Fountains” came on. I caught her eye in the backseat and she asked me to turn it up. She loves this song, and so do I. You just can’t be in a bad mood when you hear it. We sang along at the top of our lungs and a tear dropped down my cheek. She asked why I was crying. I tell her my cup is so full of joy that I can’t even hold it in! They are happy, joy filled tears. And she smiles and says, “Well, mama, those sound like a good kind of tears to have!” They are sweet girl. I kiss her head and send her out the door. I’m just where I want to be!

Verse 1
This dry and desert land
I tell myself, “Keep walking on”
Hear something up ahead
Water falling like a song
An everlasting stream
Your river carries me home
Let it flow, let if flow

Verse 2
A flood for my soul
A well that never will run dry
I’ve rambled on my own
Never believing I would find
An everlasting stream
Your river carries me home
Let it flow, let it flow

Chorus
Open the heavens
Come Living Water
All my fountains are in You
You’re strong like a river
Your love is running through
All my fountains are in You

The Great Room Swap Fiasco

    Over the past week we have been preparing to make a big room swap. We finally decided that Reagan would move her bedroom upstairs, Maddox would take Reagan’s old room, and Dawson would keep his current room. Sounds easy enough, right? Wrong!

   Where the kicker comes in is that Dawson was sleeping in his crib that had been converted to a toddler bed. So, we had to get him a new bed so that the crib was free for Maddox. Some friends posted a twin bedroom set for sale on Facebook and we snagged it up for a great deal! Thanks, Dawn and Cybil! Today we moved Reagan’s  room into the playroom until her room is finished painting and moved Dawson’s crib and furniture into Maddox’s room so that we could make way for Dawson’s new furniture. We played up the whole new “big boy” bed and how fun it would be. Yep, that didn’t go well. So far he has gotten up I know 25 times. He keeps insisting he doesn’t like the new bed and wants his bed back with a not so cute little stomp. He has even gone so far as to go in to Maddox’s room and try to climb into the crib (remember it’s been converted to a toddler bed for over a year now). I feel terrible but I’m so glad we are doing this now instead of when the baby gets here! After putting him back in his new bed for the 10th time or so it occurred to me that that bed is the only real bed he has ever known. He slept in there from the time he came home from the hospital.  No wonder he doesn’t want to give it up. That just breaks my heart! It’s a bittersweet time. My baby is not the baby anymore and I’m pretty sure he is catching on to it! And as much as I want my Maddox home I’m thankful for the few months to get Dawson adjusted to the new normal.

   On the other hand, Reagan’s new room is really looking great. I’m slightly anxious about having her upstairs with everyone else in the bottom half of the house but she is out of this world excited. I had this terrible nightmare last night where I lost her in a children’s museum and one of the employees kidnapped her. Y’all, I know that sounds ridiculous but seriously I woke up in complete distress. After making sure my babe was safely tucked in her bed I woke up her daddy and went into the “ugly cry”! I know he thought I was a lunatic. I’m very certain this has something to do with feeling a bit like I’m losing some control over her.  And by that I don’t mean behaviour I just mean she’s growing up! She’ll be 6 this year and super independent for her age. And now she is going to have TWO baby brothers and an upstairs bedroom?? A little much for mama! But, her room looks great. We finished up the paint job tonight and will set up her bed (Thanks Jessica & Jason) tomorrow.  I’m excited to see it all put together.

     And can I just add how super exciting it was for me to dig the boy clothes out of the attic tonight? All those precious little Jon Jons my sweet husband never wanted to see again will be making their 2nd debut on our little Korean cutie soon! I can’t wait to hang them all up in his closet….and then laugh hysterically at the look on David’s face when he realizes they are BACK! 🙂

What’s Next?

   Well, I wish I had some earth shattering news to post but as the adoption process goes we are in a waiting phase. So, what’s next? I’ll warn you that this post is more for my documenting purposes but if you are interested in what we will be doing in this process over the next few months read on.

   I’ll admit I have been on this crazy high the last week! Maddox is ours and just for a moment we got to soak all that in. But this week we are back to reality.

   Tuesday will be our last home study visit and hopefully within the week our home study will be approved and on its way to Oregon where it will once again need to be reviewed. We will make any changes that need to be made and then it will be sent to Korea. In the Korean adoption world we call this HSTK (Home study to Korea). It’s much easier to write out like that! ; ) This is HUGE because it means Korea will officially be starting to make plans for Maddox to come home on their side.

 On our side, once we have our home study in our hands we can file I-600a and I-600.    (Description below)

The I-600A is the first form you will fill out with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This form is completed before an orphan is located or has been identified for an adoption by you. (Basically we are petitioning to adopt an orphan from another country. This can be done before you are matched but our process went so quickly we will need to file both at the same time.)

And the I-600 which is: To classify an alien orphan who either is, or will be, adopted by a U.S. citizen as an immediate relative of the U.S. citizen to allow the child to enter the United States. The petition is filed by the U.S. citizen who is adopting the child. (Basically to identify that Maddox is the child we would like to adopt and  prove that he is eligible for adoption.

 Once these are entered into the system we will be given a fingerprinting date and go to a USCIS office and have our biometrics done. Then the two forms will be processed and our part in bringing Maddox home (as far as our government is concerned) is finished! YAY!

 While all that is happening, over in Korea, Maddox will be going through all the things on the Korean government side that will prepare him (legally) to come home. I’ll post about those as they happen.

 And to answer the number 1 question ~  How long will all that take?

Well, we’ve been given a 6-8 month timeline. The problem here is that the Korean government (not the adoption agencies in Korea) is slowly lowering the number of emigration permits they allow each year.  So, what could possibly happen is the emigration permits could run out before Maddox receives his and then we will have to wait until 2012 before he has one. We pray that Maddox will be able to come home this year and hopefully before Christmas but there are just no guarantees.

   So, if you would consider praying for us could you specifically pray that all the paperwork on both sides moves quickly and that Maddox receives his emigration permit this year? 

Thank you!

Maddox Jeong-Hwan

       At exactly 2:21 pm on March 17th we got a call that changed our family forever! We are officially the parents of the most precious 8 month old little boy! They picked us! It is still not quite real for me yet. The exact words she said when telling us we were chosen were, “It was an easy decision. There were no questions!” Praise the Lord we have another son! We would like to take just a minute and give God every bit of glory for this. 

 

   His name is Maddox Jeong-Hwan. Jeong-Hwan was his given name and we really felt it was important to keep. Maddox, well that was much harder to come up with. I can honestly say when I stored that baby name book I didn’t think it would be coming back out!  But for the last two weeks it’s been sitting on my night stand. I sent my husband text messages with names multiple times a day. All of which were turned down! : ) On Thursday, I sent another name text. This time his response was “I LIKE IT!”  No way! I couldn’t believe it. That name was of course Maddox. And can I just add that my boy is SO a Maddox! It fits him perfectly.

  I want him in my arms.  It’s such an unexplainable feeling knowing that your son is halfway around the world being cared for by a family other than ours. It makes my heart hurt. The mama in me wants to make sure he is eating well, and being given lots of kisses.  I wonder where he’s ticklish. Does he have a favorite blanket like his brother and sister? I want to stroke his cheek and look him in the eyes and tell him how we prayed for him and how much we love him. I want to be the one that rocks him to sleep. Soon enough I suppose. I mean God’s timing IS perfect. We believe in His plan.

 I pray these next few months pass quickly or better yet that God continues to move mountains and our sweet Maddox can come home even sooner than planned. We cannot wait until he is here with us. It’s almost unbearable!

  And since I can’t post his precious picture just yet I’ll leave you with this. Reagan handed me a sheet of paper yesterday. I , of course, exclaimed of how sweet it was and thanked her. This is when she looked at me and said, “Mama, this picture is not for you! It’s for Maddox!” 

 * The quality is bad but the top half of the picture has an “M” and the bottom says “I (heart) U”  : )

We witness a miracle every time a child enters into life.
But those who make their journey home across time & miles,
growing within the hearts of those who wait to love them,
are carried on the wings of destiny and placed among us
by God’s very own hands.
— Kristi Larson

Committee Phone Interview

It’s 10pm. I’m completely physically and emotionally exhausted! There is so much to tell about how incredible today has been.

We had our committee interview tonight. This is where a social worker from our agency calls to review our essay questions for the little boy we hope to be ours.
I sent our questions back all filled out last Sunday and was expecting to be presented to committee last Thursday with our phone interview sometime early last week. Well, that didn’t happen. I found out Wednesday that the phone interview would be today (Wednesday the 16th) and we will be presented in the morning (Thursday March 17th). I had a nice little cry. Ok, that’s a lie. I had an emotional breakdown last week when I heard that news. I think I needed to release all of that. It felt great afterwards and I got to put things in a much better perspective.

Anyway, I decided to contact a specialist in the area of his “special need” on Thursday. With the help of a dear friend I was able to contact that Doctor’s office manager who put the medical file in his hand on Monday. I really felt that having him see his file and give us an expert opinion specifically pertaining to this issue (hemivertebrae) would help us present the best and worse case scenario.

 This afternoon I was sitting on my bed reviewing the questions, praying, adding in some last minute research whenI got an email from our agency with a brand new picture and an updated report on our boy! I just completely lost it! It was just what I needed to get through this interview. My precious boy looked so grown up! He was sitting in a purple bumbo seat with a completely straight face and I couldn’t help but just soak in every single thing about him. Oh my goodness.  He.is.Perfect!

Flip forward to 4:45 pm. Our interview was scheduled for 5pm. My phone rang. I hesitated to answer but saw the ID and it was the hospital. On the line was the office manager from the specialist office. I kid you not! I had fully prepared to go into this interview without his input. This is the kind of moment when there is just no doubt God is in control! She explained he didn’t think I should hesitate. Another just what I needed moment. Y’all do you understand what I’m saying? Minutes before David and I went into an interview that our answers would determine if this baby boy was our son we got feedback from a doctor in the area of his “special need” encouraging us to proceed. Tell me God doesn’t care about details?

Our interview went extremely well. She eased our nerves right at the beginning by saying that she was impressed with how thorough we were. Whew! We went through some things they wanted clarification on and she threw out some pretty tough questions. I felt like we did really well. I was REALLY proud of my husband he is actually out of town and had to pull over in a parking lot to do the interview! I can’t love that man anymore than I do! At the end of the interview she asked us if there was anything we wanted to add. I lost it! I told her how much we already loved him and no matter what the committee decided we would be praying for him forever. I could barely choke those words out. Ugh, I do love him! At the end of the interview she even stated that she can’t imagine why they wouldn’t choose us! 🙂

So, now we wait! We should know something by 3pm eastern time tomorrow( St. Patrick’s Day!) Let’s hope it will be a lucky day!

What happens tomorrow:

 Tomorrow we will be presented to a room of social workers. All our family information, essay questions, pictures…everything will be discussed along with all of our boy’s medical file and history. Together they will decide if our family is a right fit for baby boy. nerve-racking? YES! But, David and I both have this incredible sense of peace over this situation. David even told me last night he could hear the change in my voice. I feel good. God is in control!

In the Wake of the ‘Quake.

  I’ll be honest. I woke up this morning. Rolled over, grabbed my phone to scroll through my email, Facebook, news headlines and the first thing I saw was that an Earthquake hit Japan and Tsunami’s were almost undeniably on the way.

Remember that baby boy I mentioned? And the fact he’s in Korea? This might be where you say, “Yes, but remember, he’s not yours just yet?” and you would be right. Legally, he isn’t mine yet. But, in my heart I’m his mama!

  So…what would any momma do when she wakes up to find out that an earthquake has hit a country just  a little over 700 miles (think distance from Atlanta to Chicago) away from the city that her son is in…and even worse Tsunamis are on their way. I panicked. Started Googling to find out if Korea was affected in any way. Called David who was himself a little bit distressed. As it turn out, Korea, other than loss of internet and some electricity was safe. My boy is safe. I could breath. But, I still can’t hold him or call and check just to make sure he’s alright. Oh, this process is so hard. And now we wait….

 All of that was completely selfish. I know that. My heart IS broken for Japan. I can barely watch the coverage. I think we can get so detached from images that we forget there are real people involved. Lives were shattered today, families broken, memories washed away forever and even after all that devastation our God is STILL sovereign. Do I understand? Absolutely not and I never expect I will. But, I will pray unceasingly for all those affected and continually remind myself the importance of insuring the salvation of the ones I care about…and even the ones I don’t know. We can never take a single moment for granted.

The Process of the Potential Match

I wanted to post what being “potentially matched” means for us but didn’t want to take away from all the fun of the announcement post so below are all the details you probably have no care to hear but I’m writing them out anyway! : ) 

Remember in the “Waiting Child Program” post I explained that a family could review a file of a child on the photolisting before their home study was complete? Well, on February 21st at 1:01 in the afternoon an email hit my inbox listing the new referrals on the “Waiting Child Photo Listing”. I scrolled down the list to South Korea and there he was. The cutest little dumplin’ I’ve ever seen smiled at me through his photo and I’m pretty sure I had a few heart palpitations. I read his the small blurb about his conditions and immediately started praying. I text David and asked him if we could review his file. Within a few minutes I had email Holt and asked for his file.

 Since that time we have reviewed his file and had it reviewed by our pediatrician and an IAP (International Adoption Pediatrician) and a specialist in the area of his special need. The term special need in his case is laughable. He has a hemivertebra. He is perfect!  After discussing their findings in his file and receiving best and worse case scenarios regarding his “special need” we decided to proceed.

 On Monday, February 28th we let our agency know we want to move forward and we are told we are the only family with his file. It’s possible for up to 5 people to view his file and decide if the want to proceed to committee.  If  any one else had his file we would have to have waited two weeks for them to decide if they wanted to go forward as well. Praise the Lord it was just our family.

We are forwarded essay questions to fill out. We spend the next week (yes the whole week , these questions are no joke!) On Sunday, March 6th we email our essay questions back. On Wednesday the 9th, we are contacted to inform us that we will be put before the committee on the following Thursday, March 17th.

 Our next step is to have a phone interview early next week in which we discuss our answers to the essay questions with a social worker. This is the social worker that will present us to the committee. That interview is supposed to last about an hour.

 If I could begin to put into words the crazed emotion I’ve felt over the past two weeks I would but there just aren’t words to describe it. I’m an emotional wreck to say the absolute least! So, this is where we are are. Waiting on the Lord.

Snips and Snails….

It is with extreme happiness and a guarded heart I share with you some incredible news. David and I have been “potentially matched” with the most precious 8 month old baby boy.  I will explain all about being “potentially matched” means in another post but basically he is not our son officially until a committee meets on Thursday, March 17th.

 Potentially obviously mean there is a chance that we will not be matched but throwing all caution to the wind I want to share my heart with you. I’m in love. If you would have told me I would fall in love with a picture even a month ago I wouldn’t have believed you. But, it’s true. My heart has once again been opened to the vulnerability that is motherhood. This time is unlike my other experiences. This child did not grow in my womb. I had no pain on the day of his birth. In fact, I was halfway around the world on that mid July day and I did not know that my son was even born. I didn’t get to hear his very 1st cry, or hold his newborn body against mine late in the night when the rest of the town was fast asleep and soaking in his every smell and sound. I missed the first time he rolled over, and sat up, and the first time he says umma (the korean word for mama) he won’t be referring to me. Does this make every part of my being ache? Yes, it does. But that is where I am.

        Over the next few months, I’ll be missing a lot! His first steps, his first words, his 1st birthday they will all come and go and he won’t even know me. I desperately want to hold him in my arms. I want to know what makes him laugh. I want play “This little piggy” on his precious little toes. I want to be his umma. All those things will happen in the Lord’s timing. Until then, I happen to know that he is being loved, and cared for by a wonderful foster family that adores him. I’ll get monthly checkup from his doctor and maybe even a few new pictures to tide me over until the day I can fly to Korea and bring him home to his forever family.

Before all that comes next Thursday. Next Thursday, could mean that it’s decided we aren’t meant to be his parents. I don’t see how that could happen. I love him. But, it could and until then we have to give it all to the Lord and know that if my precious boy is really supposed to be in our family then he will be. If he’s not, my heart will be broken but I also know that my God has a plan for him. He will find a family. One that will love him just as we would have, one that is just right for him. I believe with all my heart that our family is meant for him but only time will tell.

 I know no one will read this until after that decision has been made but I feel as if I don’t put the emotions that this process has evoked in me down on paper I may just implode. Hopefully, one day these words will be a great big reminder of God’s providence.  And if that is the case I’ll be thankful that He allowed me to express these feelings even as hard as they have been to type.

 One thing I see happening through this process is how my relationship with Christ is growing. For the very 1st time in my life I have had to rely completely on the Lord. There is not one thing left that I can do to ensure this baby boy will one day be my son. All I can do is lay my burden at the foot of the cross and pray.

Home Study…. eek!

  One of the first things you have to do when you start an adoption is prepare a home study. This is basically a combination of documents and a report by a social worker that states we are capable to adopt…I guess that’s a decent definition.

 We’ve been working on ours for about 2 weeks and have completely finished all but one thing on our check list. The last thing we have to do is type our autobiographies. It’s a lot of stuff and has been overwhelming at times but we are almost finished with the part we can prepare.

 On Tuesday morning we met our social worker for our 1st home visit.   I think David and I were both anxious. I mean essentially, if she didn’t like us then she wouldn’t approve us and we could not adopt. It was a big day. Our meeting lasted about an hour and a half.  Our sweet, Lauren, came and took Dawson out for breakfast while we met. Reagan was at school. We had to answer lots of personal background information. Nothing like talking about yourself for over and hour!  By the end, I felt completely comfortable with her and I think she liked us! : ) YAY!

  I cannot tell you how incredible this woman is. To say she loves the Lord is an understatement. The boldness with which she speaks about our Saviour is refreshing. She flat layed it out on the line when she asked me , “If you died  today and had to tell Jesus why he should let you into heaven, what would you say?”  Totally surprised at this question after answering a 100 questions about how often I see my sisters and if we get along but I managed to stumble out an answer that seemed to be sufficient. She then tells us that really isn’t on the paperwork : ) but she always asks because as a mother my number one job in life is to do everything I can to ensure my children’s salvation and how can I possibly do that if I myself don’t know how to be saved and get into heaven. Well, it just so happens I completely agree! But, way to keep me on my toes! LOVE this lady!

       {Enter Dawson}   David fixed him a snack while I chatted about my relationship with my parents or something…I don’t recall. You will never believe what my son did! He threw his plate of grapes and crackers across the room and then threw himself on the ground kicking and screaming. Here we are in front of the lady who decides our future in parenting and now I’m about to have to deal with a 2 1/2-year-old version of a nuclear meltdown. YOU.HAVE.GOT.TO.BE.KIDDING.ME!  Normally, that wouldn’t cause me to flinch but in this particular circumstance I wanted to crawl underneath the table! Thankfully, she was grace filled and tried to make light of the situation. I’m sure she saw that my face was beet red.  I mean really?

 As I walked her out to her car I stopped to check the mail. Inside were our SLED checks. We had just sent them off less than a week before and were not expecting them back for a few weeks. : ) Another thing we can check off our list!

 We will need one more visit with our social worker before she can type up her report. That will take place on Tuesday, March 29th.  After that all our paperwork will be compiled along with her report, notarized and sent to Holt’s Oregon branch. We hope to have it sent to Holt by mid April.

 That’s a big step towards bringing our baby home!  Pray for us!