Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goodbye 2013

2013 was the longest, hardest year ever  yet it ended as one of the best years of my life. 

Watching this sweet boy grow up in pictures as we waited for endless approvals, the next court date, court orders to be sent...the waiting, waiting, waiting was agonizing. Not knowing when we would be on our way to India to finally meet and bring our boy home was terribly difficult. My heart longed to just hold him and tell him I was his Mama and he had a family that loved him. 




But God has been glorified in all of this. He saw us through it all and gifted us with this amazing little boy who in just two days has learned to say Thank You and I Love You, complete with more hugs and kisses than I have ever received. 

Thank you, God, for this precious blessing. Looking forward to all the love we will receive in 2014. 

ps still working on the big blog post for his story. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

We're coming to America - today!

Ok, really leaving today... home Christimas Eve 7:30pm. I am going to sit down in a few days and type up this entire story. I just can't get over how God has blessed us over and over again. It has been truly amazing and just when I think things could not get better, they do. I just don't even deserve all this goodness. Leaving today I have so many mixed emotions. I am THRILLED to be going home and can't wait to hug Katie and Braden! And just be home with all my loved ones. It will be good!!! But leaving is hard because India is part of who Ryan is and I know I won't ever be able to give him this much culture. India is so beautiful and the people here are just exquisite. I am so thankful to bring a piece of India home with us! 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Medical and embassy appointments are done!



We arrived in Delhi Wednesday. I think. The days are running together. The smog here is crazy. Apparently it's only like this in winter. We miss Pondicherry where we strolled the streets with lots of people, tuk tuks, mopeds, stray dogs and the occasional cow. Pondicherry was beautiful and full of color and gorgeous architiecture. 

Pondicherry 




Delhi Smog - blah . It's like this all day in winter. No blue skies and puffy clouds. And it's terribly hard to breathe. 


I am so thankful the medical and embassy appointments are behind us. I was expecting it to be way more complicated but it was fairly easy. We did have to scramble for some documents at the last minute and the embassy didn't even ask for them. We pick up Ryan's visa Monday and then get packed up to head to the airport at 11pm so we can be home by Christmas Eve. 

Ryan is doing so well. I'm just in awe. He's only been with us 5 days but it seems like 5 weeks. Several Indian people have tried to take him and give him hugs and he shakes his head No and  squeezes me tightly. He knows I'm his Mama and he will not go to strangers. Yesterday he said, Mama Mama, patted me on the leg showing me his photo book we sent him, pointing to the picture of Daddy saying Papa Papa. Melt my heart!! This was taken Day 2 as he played in the mirror. God is so good and we are so thankful He chose us to be Ryan's parents! 


Monday, December 16, 2013

Passport arrived today

There are so many things I want to share. God has been blowing us away this entire journey. I just don't see how anyone can say he doesn't exist after hearing our story. Our little guy came back to the hotel with us today. It was hard and he was SO brave. Lots of tears and it was impossible to console him. He only wanted to be held, with either one of us standing up. As I was rocking him here, Scott took this photo. Do you see the "smoke"? There wasn't any smoke in the room...He then took a video and we are convinced those are angels dancing over us, promising HE is with us always. I will share the video later when I can. It's amazing!
 He finally turned a corner and he was laughing and sharing cookies with "Papa" and drawing on sheets of paper.  Every time he sees letters, he starts singing the ABC song. So sweet!! 

Will share more later.. He's out and I need some sleep too!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Yesterday was beautiful

I will share more later but it was an amazing experience. We spent two hours with all of the children at the orphanage playing, hugging, cuddling, kissing them all. I'm not sure if this is typical but the Sister told us we could come and see them anytime while we're in Pondicherry. We went back today twice, greeted again with lots of love from all of the children. They all want some much attention. Ryan ran to me with open arms asking to be held several times. He calls us Mama and Papa. The orphanage has done an amazing job at preparing him although he's really too young to truly know what's going to happen tomorrow when we leave his home forever. I will write a longer post on how it all happened later. For now, it's been such an blessed experience. We are enjoying every minute in India but anxious to get home to our big babies :)

Friday, December 13, 2013

Good morning from India!

We arrived at our hotel in Chennai around 2:30am, got settled, fell asleep around 4 and back up at 6:15 to face the day. We leave for the three hour drive to Pondicherry in a few hours. It still doesn't seem real. I cried all the way to India! We will update once we can with pictures of our sweet little guy. Please keep praying -- love to you all!



Sunday, December 8, 2013

India or bust!

We leave for India Thursday, THIS Thursday. 

I can barely believe it.

I've been nauseated, nervous, excited, anxious, scared but CONFIDENT we have made the right decision. You see Ryan's passport has been applied for but not issued. We are taking a very risky leap of faith. We could face delays and other unknowns but after days of praying (to include extensive praying with a prayer pow wow of special, amazing, Godly people), we know God has gone before us to pave the way and He will be there to make it all happen. We are trusting Him completely. This is His story!

Please pray for our travels, pray that Ryan's passport is ready and waiting for us when we arrive, pray for his precious heart as he deals with the loss of the only home and people he's ever known. This will be hard for him and as excited as we are, we have to remember this will be huge adjustment for his little heart. Pray God is preparing him for this as we know He is. 

We should have him in our arms by Saturday!

We will arrive home Christmas Eve at 7:30p.m. Perfect, right?


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Court order is in!

Can barely believe it! The email from the orphanage said to buy our airline tickets... Our agency says to wait. The passport should be in within a week. Of course a week to us here isn't always like a week in India.

So of course we wait some more. 

And pray. 

And hope his passport arrives very soon as flying so close to Christmas is mucho dinero! 

Thanks for praying with us. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

waiting

Still waiting for our court order to arrive at the orphanage. I woke this morning, checked through 18 (Black Friday) emails, none from India or our agency. So we wait some more - maybe we will hear something next month (two more days until December, ha!). We do need to square away the last bit of travel information and I am hopeful we will receive it from our agency soon. I've been waiting since March for it! This weekend I plan to work on MORE paperwork. I just thought we were done. ;) I've got two documents to complete - one is a TB waiver and the other is for immunizations. These documents just prove we will have our son immunized for the shots he may not have received and if he should have TB, we will have him treated. It sounds simple enough but one document is nine pages long! We did find out that our adoption is full and final so we will not have to readopt him here in the U.S. Thankful for that!

While it isn't our turn to travel to India yet, I do know four beautiful Indian children that are finally with their forever families! I've been blog-stalking them all week.

Two older children -  For Such A Time As This

Sweet toddler twin girls -  The Hutson's


Sunday, November 24, 2013

blessings received through adoption

I was pondering all the ways we have been blessed through this adoption by countless friends and family members. There are many people who may not feel called to adopt personally so they choose to bless others that are doing so. I think that is so very cool!

Here are some of the ways we've been blessed:

Prayers - I would estimate thousands of prayers have been offered up for our family, our son and our entire adoption journey. The easiest way to help someone adopting is to pray for them - and tell them you're praying for them. We are so very thankful for friends and family who have walked this road with us, supported us, loved on us, cared for us and prayed for us.

Financially - we have been blessed with the generosity of so many wonderful friends and family members. I am blown away whenever I think about how far we've come and how God has provided these amazing people to come along side us and help. Our amazing friends and family have purchased dozens of photo sessions to help pay for adoption fees, they've made donations to our adoption fund, they have helped us raise money for our matching funds grant and one talented friend recorded a music cd and donated half the proceeds to our adoption fund and the other half to another family. Yes, this really happened!! Check out his work here - Jeremy Crook

Garage Sale Donations - Several awesome friends donated items for our garage sale which was a huge fundraiser for us. These sweet friends could have kept their junk and sold it themselves but they didn't. That says so much about how they love Ryan (even though we didn't even know him then) and how much they love us.

Donation of frequent flyer miles - one precious friend is donating sky miles to help pay for a portion of our travel expenses. This is an enormous blessing because international airfare for just two people is crazy expensive and since we may be traveling around Christmas or New Year's Day this will drive the prices up even more PLUS we will make travel plans just days before we need to leave. It won't be cheap!

Hand made gifts - I've had talented friends craft, stitch, and sew the most incredible little items for Ryan's room. I hired someone to make bedding for his crib and she did it free of charge. Such a sweet blessing! She has some neat stuff here Aimee Doodles

Pressure washed house and carpet cleaning - our fabulous neighbors own a cleaning business and they have cleaned all the carpet in our home for free AND they pressure washed the entire outside of our house and drive way as a gift to us. We were blown away! If you're local, check out their business Veterans Carpet Cleaning  They do fantastic work!

Dog grooming - A sweet friend from church is giving our schnauzer, Nugget, free hair cuts until Ryan is home. Such an incredible gift!

Sick leave donations - A few co-workers have donated sick leave days so I can still be paid part of the time I am home with Ryan. This will help with the financial burden of unpaid maternity leave.

T-shirt purchases - our t-shirts are being worn all over the country from Hawaii to Florida. One sweet friend wore hers to Africa on a mission trip and shared about adoption with several people along the way. That's what it's all about! Spreading the love of adoption so MORE children find forever families.

I am working on a fabulous thank you card that I intend to send out once our boy is home so watch for that soon. In the meantime...

Saying Thank You seems so inadequate. We appreciate each and everyone of you for being a part of Ryan's story. 



“We want you to know that adoption is beautiful, and a thousand times we’ve looked at each other and said, “What if we would’ve said no?” God invited us into something monumental and lovely, and we would’ve missed endless moments of glory had we walked away. We need you during these difficult months of waiting and transitioning, but we also hope you see that we serve a faithful God who heals and actually sets the lonely in families, just like He said He would. And even through the tears and tantrums (ours), we look at our children and marvel that God counted us worthy to raise them. We are humbled. We’ve been gifted with a very holy task, and when you help us rise to the occasion, you have an inheritance in their story; your name will be counted in their legacy...

Thank you for being the village. You are so important"



Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Verbal approval

We received word bright and early this morning via email that the judge approved our petition for guardianship. This is a huge step! We were told it will take six weeks for the written order and then the orphanage will be ready to apply for his passport. These are the worst case scenarios so we *should* be in India by the New Year but we would be thrilled to be surprised with traveling sooner. I am so elated my heart could burst! 


In my kindergarten class this week we have been learning about India, comparing and contrasting how different their homes and schools look compared to ours and how they are the same. We will eat some Indian treats and do a project with different spices. I have told them a little about Ryan on very simple terms since they're only 5. These kids are so excited to meet him. It's the sweetest thing I've seen! To go along with our unit we made these little Tshirts and just happened to wear them today! 

Thank you all so much for the fervent prayers, messages, emails, hugs and love during this step. God has used so  many of his people to sustain us during this time and we are praising Him for that!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

no court hearing this week

Boo. We heard from a friend that the judge is on leave this week so our case will not be heard.  Maybe next week but since Diwali is Sunday, that may not be likely. Our agency has emailed the orphanage to get an update...

So ...
         .....we wait some more to find out when we will be awarded guardianship of our little guy and we  pray for peace through this agonizing wait, pray for mercy from the committee that will decide our son's fate, pray for quick decisions and turnarounds regarding our case and others that are also waiting along with us, pray our son is happy, fed, loved, and cared for until we get there, pray that God will continue to prepare both his heart and ours for the time when our worlds will collide.

Thank you for praying with us. <3

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Downs and ups

This week has been filled with ups and downs and downs and ups. A few weeks ago I woke up with some weird sensations in my face, blurry vision, felt very foggy and unlike myself. I knew it was stress related but Scott insisted on taking me to the doctor who scheduled an MRI for a few days later. I went to the neurologist this week to discuss the results. As I was waiting to see the doctor, I got a message from a fellow adoptive Mama that has a little one in the same orphanage as Ryan. For some reason I felt totally overwhelmed at that very moment with adoption stress. I started to tear up in the waiting room and by the time I went to sit across the desk from the doctor in his office, I was sobbing and blubbering "international adoption ... (sniff, sniff)....no, not Russia....(sob)... India... (sniff)... my son (sob some more)...." I am most certain he was probably thinking, Lady I am not a psychiatrist, I'm a neurologist! He grabbed me some paper towels so I could wipe the snot from my face and after a few minutes I composed myself and we talked more about the results. He wasn't concerned at all about my pituitary gland and said we would monitor it yearly unless I had other symptoms creep up. The doctor totally agreed that the numbness in my face is most likely stress related and felt it all should subside once we have Ryan home. I continued to cry off and on all day... I was a mess!

I need to remember :: Psalm 46:10 :: 
Be still and know that I am God.
Know that He is working on our behalf even when I don't see it, feel it, hear it. He is always there working with us to bring our boy home -  In the good times and the hard times. He is there.

The day of this debacle I asked our case worker if she had heard anything about our court hearing. She sent me an email the next day saying we FINALLY have a court hearing for OCTOBER 28! PRAISE GOD! Of course there are still a lot of unknowns. We aren't sure how many hearings they will conduct. I have heard anywhere from 1-5. Our case worker says usually two but I'm bracing myself for several. From what I've read they usually take place consecutively (weekly) but there are a lot of Indian holidays in November so we may not finish the court process until the end of November, possibly longer. Once we receive the verbal approvals, the written one will be prepared. We were told it can take 1.5-2 months for the written approval to arrive at the orphanage. I inquired about this from a group of ladies I know that have adopted from India and was told it's possible the pages upon pages of documents are all typed up. On a typewriter. Which explains the 2 month wait! Of course once we get the written approvals we will still have to wait for his passport but that step is only taking about 2 weeks, which should give us some time to tie up loose ends before we travel.  It still looks like January before we head to India but at least we finally know something and we have a date to pray over. Please join us in prayer. <3

Over the summer we inquired about the number of children at Ryan's orphanage because we wanted to send them all a small care package. After 3 months we finally heard back about the details of the children and my sweet mother in law and I collected 30 stuffed animals, lots of candy, and 30 toothbrushes plus another photo book for Ryan. Today it arrived and the sister at the orphanage was SO excited! I was glad it arrived (since I sent it to the wrong address - yikes!) and overjoyed at how happy they were to receive such small tokens. Everything came from the dollar store but they were just thrilled - with so little. We plan to bring more goodies for them when we go to India. :)

Here's a small sample of what we stuffed in the box. I went back for more candy and toothbrushes. You can never have too much candy which means you definitely need toothbrushes, right?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

When part of your heart is 9292 miles away

In the past week I was surprised to receive several emails from people interested in adoption and/or currently adopting from India so people do read what I write. Cool!




Yesterday was Ryan's referral-versary. Nine months ago we were matched with an adorable 10 month old baby boy. He's now almost 20 months old, no longer a baby but a toddler. I know I say the waiting is SO hard. I know I say it a lot. Maybe I say it too much.  We haven't been waiting nearly as long as some people I know adopting from India. In fact, our case has moved quickly compared to typical India adoption timelines. For that I'm grateful but my arms still long to hold him, my heart longs to have him home where he is loved, cared for, prayed over, hugged, kissed, fed, bathed, tickled, read to, chased - that's a lot of verbs cause that's a lot of love to dish out! So ready!

We are still waiting to find out if we have cleared court and been awarded guardianship. We haven't been given any court dates so we have no idea if our case has already gone to court or if we are still waiting to enter that phase. Our case worker checked last week and the orphanage did not answer her questions about court -  only asked for more passport photos of Scott and I. Typical India fashion - it doesn't even surprise me anymore. :)

In other news, last week Scott got his typhoid immunization and yesterday I got mine. The last shot I need for India! Yeah! And our visas should be here any day now. SOOO ........ WE ARE READY TO TRAVEL....Hint, hint India!! :)



Friday, September 20, 2013

Visas sent



I spent many hours on this the past 2 nights. India didn't make any of it easy but luckily they weren't asking for a lock of hair or vile of blood. 

Yet. 

After my doctor appointment today, I gathered the rest of the items and mailed off our VISAS along with another $315.40. I am kinda nervous that our passport is included in that package...Praying it makes it's way to Atlanta and back to Alabama in one piece and we are praying I filled it all out correctly. It was very complicated - and I've filled out my share of documents in the last year and a half. If it's approved, we are good for traveling to India for five more years. Ya know, just in case. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

And just like that...

he's 19 months old. It is currently September 20th in India. Our little guy will be waking up soon. It's been almost nine months since we were matched and watching him grow older each month is hard. Much harder than I had anticipated BUT he's healthy, appears to be happy, is well loved at his orphanage, and already ADORED by his family here so I am choosing to be thankful for that  {{{while praying for a miracle that our case would clear court quickly so we can bring him home}}}

Someone shared this blog post with me recently. So much of what the author says resonates with me as an adoptive mother. Ok, not much but maybe All 12 of the bullets  -  


"She loves a child she’s never met. It’s possible. So possible. It’s irrational and crazy but it’s reality. Does she love them like she will once she gets to know them? No. But she loves them. She wakes up loving them and goes to sleep loving them. She drives to the grocery story and aches to have them safe and snug in the carseat waiting for them. She pushes her cart around the store and hears a child cry and her heart pounds wondering if her child is crying? Alone? Hungry?"    You can read the rest of the post here, Dear Friends of Waiting Adoptive Moms  
Until next time -  hopefully with good news from court :) 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

small update

Our agency heard from Ryan's orphanage last week. They expect our case to take about 3-4 months to clear court and for Ryan's passport to be issued, then for us to TRAVEL TO INDIA. Sister at the orphanage said she filed our case last month, right after we received NOC. Our new expected date for travel went from 3-4months (back in January when we were matched) to 12months now. She expects we will be in India by Dec 2013-Jan2014, so a year after being matched but I guess we'll take it. It's nice to know we are making some progress and we have a date to look forward to even if it's six months later than originally planned. Of course we would love for a miracle of travel by November but I have learned in all of this to not get my hopes up. The constant disappointment is too much to bear at times. Our next step is to work on our travel visas so we will be doing that soon since September is half way over and hopefully December will be here soon enough. "Keeping myself busy while I wait" has been my mantra since May and it looks like that will continue for the next few months...

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

four thousand less

So our fund raising thermometer has taken a dip down.

$4,000 down

Apparently we did not receive an anonymous donation in July like our agency told us which means we have $4000 less for travel. This is HUGE - of course not too big for God, but the stress and worry isn't what any of us needs right now. School just started, my 17 year old is now driving, my grandmother passed away last week, our baby boy is STILL in an orphanage 9,000 miles away, and we now need MORE money when I thought we were fully funded! I know one day I will look back on this and realize it is just money, but right now I want to cry - as I have been for days now. In the past year-and-a-half I have PRAYED for God's provision, asked for donations, had a huge garage sale, sold dozens of items on Ebay and Facebook, did an enormous amount of fundraising with my photography business - working two jobs I might add, applied for 7 grants (received two) and two loans (received one). I am still saving for maternity leave while I'm out for at least three months, assuming the bonding and attachment go smoothly.

God sure didn't say following him would be easy but he did say he would provide so I'm clinging to that and praying for Him to show me some creative ways to generate {{more}} funds without adding to my grey hair collection which is quite out of control these days.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

N O C

Yesterday was such an eventful day -  first of all it was the first day of school. I sent Katie on to 11th grade and Braden to 6th. I have a junior in high school and one beginning his last year of elementary school - it happened in a blink I tell ya. Just a blink - BAM they're 17 and almost 12. Anyhow, I made my way to kindergarten bright and early at 6:45a.m. It was a day filled with so much anticipation and excitement, especially after the phone call I received from our case worker. She and I have had some monumental phone conversations in my "office" at school. Ok, it's really my bathroom but I like to pretend it's my office. She called to inform us that the orphanage had received word from CARA that our NOC (no objection certificate) had been issued. This means no one in all of India objects to us adopting Ryan and everything was done ethically on all ends. The sister said, for the second time, that Ryan carries his photo book we made for him around all the time and kisses our pictures. So thankful the orphanage is fostering this relationship and love for us across many oceans. ALSO, Ryan turned 18 months old yesterday, too. Well technically it was today but with the time change by early afternoon here, it's already tomorrow there so it all happened on the same day. For some reason, I like to keep track of time like that.

I'm weird. I know. And I don't try to hide it.

So THEN today I received an email with a copy of the original NOC. The Sister from the orphanage is preparing to send it on to the high court. This is a HUGE step! Praying for a quick court date, a miracle, whatever it takes to have this sweet boy home SOON!

Our coveted NOC -


Our annual Back to School Photo. Next year Ryan will be in this picture too!!! :) :) :)  



Thanking God and praising HIM for these milestones.

In everything give thanks
1 Thessalonians 5:18

Thursday, August 1, 2013

some say he's lucky

Often times we have well meaning people tell us how lucky Ryan is to be adopted by our family. It's a sweet sentiment but we're not sure we would call him lucky.

He was relinquished when he was 10 days old, from the only mother he knew. Not real lucky.

He spent many, many months in an orphanage, waiting to to be old enough to be placed for adoption. He didn't have a mama to hold or soothe him when he cried, or a daddy to tickle him, or brothers and sisters to play patty cake and peek-a-boo with. He still doesn't - yet. Not real lucky.

He was rejected by 3 Indian families. Not real lucky.

He's almost 18 months old and still living in an orphanage. Not real lucky.

He will be leaving behind the only life he's ever known and facing a great deal of loss; grief and loss he will keep with him for forever. Research has shown that even very young orphans have memory to recall being abandoned. Not only that he will carry this loss with him and have many unanswered questions about his first family for the rest of his life. Not real lucky.

All children belong in their rightful families, in their rightful culture. That is God's plan for families. All families should stay together. Unfortunately, we live in a fallen world and that doesn't always happen. Sometimes as Americans, we think our life, our culture, our opportunities are better than anothers but that isn't true. A family is a family no matter where they live or how they live. We aren't adopting Ryan to give him a better life. We are adopting because we were called to adopt. Because we have a heart for orphans. Because we love this little boy so so much. We wouldn't say he's lucky. It's quite the opposite. WE are the lucky ones! We are the ones that have been called to give this precious boy a new life, a new home, a new everything. Not better, just new - and filled with lots of love.

We are the lucky ones.

Now onto to some pretty awesome news!

A few weeks ago we checked with our agency about the grant from Hand in Hand and our case worker informed us that  the grant had been processed along with another one from National Christian Foundation. We quickly told her we didn't apply with that organization. She was insistent we received $4,000 from them so we called the office to find out about it. We were throughly confused at that point. What we found us blew us away - we received a $4,000 anonymous donation, by way of National Christian Foundation - still don't know a thing about them but we are VERY GRATEFUL and VERY THANKFUL whomever you are!

AND - we got word last Wednesday (July 24) that we received our coveted ARC approval (state level clearance). It's possible we received it a few weeks before then. Our agency has asked a several times and finally got  an answer that we did in fact receive it. THANK YOU JESUS! We waited 10 weeks (ALL summer) for this clearance. I know most families adopting from India wait many, many months for these approvals and we were so very relieved to know we made another little step in the right direction.

We are now waiting for the federal clearance - NOC (no objection certificate). Once this is received our case will go to court. From what we've been told, this is usually a quick process once we get the court date. When that is complete, we will be awarded guardianship and the orphanage will apply for Ryan's passport. We can make travel plans when the passport is received by the orphanage. WE CAN'T WAIT FOR THAT DAY!

There has been a hold up with the consulate in Atlanta for all cases with our agency awaiting NOC clearance from India. It's been terribly, terribly frustrating.  Please pray for a quick resolution - we, and several other families, have been waiting for this to be cleared up for a few weeks now. Satan will stop at nothing to keep these children in orphanages instead of their rightful homes...
LORD MOVE MOUNTAINS TO BRING OUR BABIES HOME!!!

Friday, July 5, 2013

6 months waiting



Six months ago we were matched with our sweet baby boy. 

Six months ago he was 10 months old. He's now almost 17 months old and growing older every day. 


Six months ago I just assumed we would be further along in our adoption at this point, close to having him home even and yet we still have so much waiting left to do. Some days it's agonizing. Really nearly every day it can be agonizing because we have absolutely no idea when we will receive any of our approvals and move forward with completing our adoption of Ryan due to the unpredictability with the India program. 



I feel like our life is in limbo. 

We have been contemplating putting our house on the market in the spring but we're not sure if our adoption will be final by then. Doing so before we travel to India would mean we'd have to update all of our paperwork which would cause more delays. We would like to make vacation plans but aren't sure when we'll travel to India so that's been put on the back burner, too. There are other life decisions that are hanging in the balance as well because we can't really do much without it affecting our adoption in one way or another. On that note, we have been waiting for our ARC approval for nearly eight weeks now. It could be eight more weeks, eight months, or even 11 months like one precious family I read about recently. Eleven months for one approval. My heart sinks a little when I read these things and I pray that is not God's plan for our sweet boy or any of these beloved orphans waiting for their families. BUT we've waited TEN YEARS to begin this adoption so waiting a few more weeks/months   p r o b a b l y won't kill me. Make me crazy, most definitely - and I consider myself a pretty patient person. I teach kindergarten :) 




THEN I read this: 

Isaiah 43:5-7 (NIV)


Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
    I will bring your children from the east
    and gather you from the west.
I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’
    and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’
Bring my sons from afar
    and my daughters from the ends of the earth

everyone who is called by my name,
    whom I created for my glory,
    whom I formed and made.




God's promises right there >>>  I will bring your children from the east
    and gather you from the west.
I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’









Praying the next blog post is one announcing our ARC approval! :)

Also boldly praying and believing in the miracle that we will be on a plane to get our boy VERY SOON! Please join us in believing and praying this prayer. 





Friday, June 7, 2013

there is peace in waiting

Fourteen months after beginning our adoption and five months after first seeing his sweet face, we are waiting to hear when the state where Ryan resides will make their approval on our case (the coveted ARC approval, which is then sent to CARA for the prized NOC approval). It is hard to carry on with life as we know it while our little guy is 9,000 miles away waiting for us, even if he doesn't know it yet. :) So far our summer has been spent working on things around the house like painting doors, pressure washing, landscaping projects, as well as volunteering at church, photography work, beach trips - anything to keep myself busy and my mind very, very occupied! 







The most difficult part in our wait is not knowing a clear timeline on how things will progress until we bring Ryan home. From what we know, this is how India is. Each state is different, each judicial system is different, each orphanage is different. The guidelines set in place aren't always followed due to lack of personnel, funds and organization. I can't fathom trying to organize the adoption of thousands of children and daily I pray for the hard working people whose job it is to do so. So we wait and pray for the best possible outcome for ALL orphans, around the globe, waiting for their families.

In all of this God is teaching me (again - cause I'm a slow learner) that I need to trust Him with this adoption, trust HIS perfect timing; not Natasha's, not India's, but God's perfect timing. Waiting is hard when your baby is growing older each day half a world away, waiting is hard when you haven't the faintest clue as to how long the wait will be, waiting is hard when there are so many unknowns, waiting is hard period. But I trust God knows what's best for Ryan and for our family and knowing that gives me peace. 


{There is peace in waiting}


Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
Psalm 27:14




Friday, May 17, 2013

We have our Article 5 Letter, now what?

A huge praise! Our I800 approval arrived last week and I quickly applied for Ryan's visa application which resulted in this landing in my Inbox Tuesday morning


This means CARA (Central Adoption Resource Authority, the organization that oversees all Indian adoptions) can begin the NOC (no objection certificate) process. Basically CARA will approve the Article 5 letter and send it on to the local level in the region from which we are adopting. This is the ARC (Adoption Recommendation Committee) process. In order to approve it, they will be checking to see that all of our paper work is in order and has been completed correctly, the orphanage has submitted their paperwork accurately, and the committee will be looking to find no objection to Ryan being adopted by our family, etc, etc. This sounds simple enough but from what I've read, many, many people are waiting months for this step (5 months, 7months, 10 months...)  This is where we need the PRAYERS of MANY! PRAY these good men and women move quickly on behalf of ALL orphans, not just ours. PRAY that they are able to do their work effectively. Who knows what setbacks or obstacles they might be facing that could cause delays. PRAY that everything is in order when they view our file. PRAY for these children waiting to find their way home to their families. PRAY for my patience as summer starts and I find myself with more free time. I intend to find all sorts of ways to keep myself distracted from waiting for approvals. I am open to suggestions. :)

After the ARC approval, we still have to wait for the final NOC, court, then wait for his passport to be issued. Still a few months away at least but we are finally waiting on India so that's positive news.

Thank you for praying for us and for our baby boy who's not so much of a baby - turning 15 months on Monday. Praying he's home with us very, very soon cause we are very, very ready!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Take a look at this --->>>

Ok, look right and then down a little. Our fundraising thermometer has risen! We were blessed with TWO large grants last month from JSC Foundation and Hand in Hand Christian Adoption Inc. TWO! For a total of over $9,000!!! In case you don't know, grants do not have to be paid back. We had prayed fervently for any sort of financial assistance, applied for 7 grants and two no interest loans. I spent at least 60 hours on grant paperwork not knowing if we'd even get a grant and we received TWO!  We also learned Scott's employer, UPS, has a reimbursement program that pays out once our adoption is final. So I THINK we are just a little short if all of our estimates are right and there aren't any additional costs that might creep up on us. Praising God for answered prayers! Everyone I know that has adopted said not to worry about the financial part because it all works out in the end. I never doubted it would but to see it all unfold before our eyes is miraculous.

Thanks to so many generous friends and family members that have prayed for us, encouraged us, offered donations, booked lots of photo sessions, sent text messages, emails, ooh'ed and ahh'ed over his photos, and loved us through this. We appreciate you so very much!




Now for an update, we are currently waiting for our I800 approval (the petition to classify an orphan as a relative). This should arrive any day now. I have filled out Ryan's DS230 (visa application) and I will mail it out with our I800 approval once it arrives. If I'm understanding the steps correctly, once his visa is approved we will receive our Article 5 letter. The rest of the approvals will take place in India. We still do not know when we will travel. Unfortunately with so many changes with the India program and the unpredictability of the approval process, it still may be several more months but we are praying for late summer but fall is probably more realistic - and it literally pains me to type that.... While I had hoped we would be further along by this time, I now have to find a way to keep myself occupied all summer while we wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait some more. If you have any suggestions, let me know! :)

Sunday, April 7, 2013

the cost of adoption


“My friends, adoption is redemption. It’s costly, exhausting, expensive, and outrageous. Buying back lives costs so much. When God set out to redeem us, it killed Him.”


– Derek Loux


"International adoption is so expensive", I hear that all the time. Astonished people ask why a country or agency would charge so much to adopt an orphan.  Simply put every person that has a hand in adoption has a job to do. We don't work at our job for free so we shouldn't expect them to work for free. Once it's broken down, you see that while $25,000  ($29,000 if Katie and Braden travel with us) is a huge expense, it's really isn't that much when we are talking about the life of a child. A child that needs a family.  When we were called to adopt, we didn't have more than $150 to go towards our adoption. We were not sure how it would be possible to pursue but God has provided every penny so far, at just the right time. Most days I am not at all stressed about the financial part of adoption. On days when I get worried, I remind myself that God would not send us down this road without any provision. He gave me the desire to pursue photography eight years ago, knowing this part-time job would help to pave the way for our adoption before I even knew for sure we would one day adopt. The same God that started this journey many, many years ago is the same God that will provide. We are most certain of this! 

People often ask me why adoption is so expensive and what all the costs are for. Below is a breakdown:


Breakdown of Adoption Fees

US Agency Fee
Application fees, agency service fees, home study fees, dossier and authentication fees, post visits and reports

$9700 (We have paid all of this - PRAISE GOD!)

India Adoption Expenses
Official fees, court fees, documents, orphanage fees, application fees

$7000

In-Country Expenses
International flights (for 2), hotel, in-country flights, food, guide, driver, tips

$5000 (an extra $4000 for Katie and Braden to travel with us)

Out of Pocket Expenses
Fingerprint fee, medical reports, passports, citizenship and immigration services, required adoptive parent training courses, birth certificates, marriage license, citizenship certificate

$2200 (We have paid most of this - PRAISE GOD!)

Post-Adoption Costs
Attorney fees, court costs, post adoption services, new birth certificate

$600

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Why international adoption? Why India?

Scott and I are often asked why we chose international adoption as opposed to domestic adoption or foster care/foster to adopt? Most of the people that ask this question don't know a lot about adoption. They usually assume there are lots of available children ready to be adopted here in the U.S. Compared to the millions upon millions of orphans in third world countries, that just isn't true.  In India alone, there are 86 million orphans. There is such a need for loving, Christian homes for these children; children that may never know Jesus, experience the love of a family, go to college. The best response I've found recently was on this blog: Why International Adoption

Why India? We have been intrigued with the people and culture of India for quite some time. The children are beautiful! Another reason we were drawn to India was the female gendercide epidemic. You can check it out for yourself with a google search. "Our" plan was to adopt a girl from India. In this quest we've met a few bumps along the way. The first one was last August. A friend was on a mission trip to Haiti and came across an 8 month old boy that needed immediate medical attention. His mother begged the mission team to take her son because he could barely eat or drink. Our friend insisted his wife call us and ask if we would be interested in adopting him. His medical needs were far beyond what we thought we could handle and, well, he was a boy. We were already in the India program, pursuing a girl. Seemed logical that we should decline, right? That sweet little guy did find a loving family, received much needed surgeries and he's doing so very well now. Check out this video about him - Delcardo We were back on track to adopt a girl. We were certain "our" plan was also God's plan. That changed in early January when we got a call from our agency asking if we would consider a boy. Scott and I spent some time in prayer, seeking God's will for our family. If we didn't accept the possibility that God could want a boy for our family, then He could certainly put a stop to adopting all together. So God chose a boy for us - and while it was not part of "our" original plan, we could not be happier with HIS choice - a beautiful, precious, "active and affectionate" 13 month old BOY!


Saturday, March 30, 2013

God's timing

Last Thursday Scott took Braden, our 11 year old, to the doctor. She initiated a conversation with Braden and asked if he could have any 3 wishes, what would he wish for? Now I do have to say I have the most selfless, compassionate, and amazing young man - in case you don't know him. :) Before the doctor could finish her question and without a hint of hesitation, Braden said, (wish 1) to get my brother home (melt my heart). The doctor asked what wish 2 would be and he replied, play outside all day long. He didn't have a wish 3. Most kids his age would want toys, video games, candy, money.. I just love his sweet heart! Now if that wasn't enough, later that day I got a message from our case worker. Unbeknownst to us, she had requested the Sisters at the orphanage call baby Ryan by the new name we've given him. She said the Sisters told her Ryan was now responding to his new name! And if THAT wasn't enough, the exact same minute I got that message, an email landed in my inbox from Hand in Hand Christian Adoption, Inc.  We have been awarded a $5000 matching grant! For every dollar we raise, they will match up to $5000. Awesome, right?

All these amazing signs, all on the same day, two occurring at the exact same time.  God's timing is impeccable. Truly in awe of how God is working in our lives - and so very grateful, during this Easter season, for the God who sent HIS son to die for me, would weave a way for OUR son, 9200 miles away, to our very family.




If you feel led to make a donation to this fund, please make your tax deductible check out to “Hand in Hand Christian Adoption” postmarked by May 2, 2013 to: (for tax purposes please include our name on the outside of the envelope only…do not put our name on the check itself)

Hand in Hand Christian Adoption, Inc.   
Scott & Natasha Chalker 
18318 Mimosa Court
Gardner, KS  66030

We appreciate the love, support and prayers that have been extended on ours and Ryan's behalf. It means so very much to us when you ask about updates, send messages letting us know we are in your prayers, and reassure us that this WILL happen on days when we feel discouraged. Thank you sweet family and friends <3
                                                                                                                                                                                                           


Sunday, March 17, 2013

miracles abound

What an emotional week/weekend...

A little background first - in August of 2011, cancer was detected in a lymph node under my husband's arm. He had surgery to remove the node, then had an additional surgery to remove 23 more lymph nodes in that area just as a precaution, followed by 30 radiation treatments. He received a clean bill of health in early 2012 and has had no issues since then. A week ago he found a lump in his leg, had an ultrasound and the surgeon recommended surgery and biopsy. We spent the week praying specifically for miracles, the kind of miracles that can only come from God. Well, really, all miracles come from God. :) Without a hitch, God provided TWO amazing miracles.. the surgeon removed the nodes Friday and found them to be completely benign (still sending them to be biopsied) and he was in no way concerned in what he found. Praise God! PLUS we received our referral paperwork from India. All on the same day! 

We waited ten weeks to get this paperwork! What a sight for sore eyes - especially after a day spent at the hospital!

We have officially accepted baby boy "N" as our son. <3





Today, on St Patrick's Day, I'm remembering I'm not lucky but blessed.



Friday, March 8, 2013

no news is good news..

unless you're adopting.

Our updated home study was approved in early February and we received the supplement for our immigration approval this week. We are still waiting for referral paper work to be sent from India. We were told it was sent last week...

so we wait.

and wait.

and wait.

Once we sign the referral paperwork it will be official even though we were "matched" nine weeks ago. It can be so painfully frustrating to wait for something one week, which then turns into another week, which turns into another week and before we know it months have gone by. Daily I am asked how things are going with our adoption and daily I have to say, nothing much is happening.

Waiting is hard on me but it's not about me, it's about our sweet boy who needs to be home with his family.

Adoption is hard. That is all.  :(

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

happy birthday baby boy!

It's 5:30am in India, February 20, 2013.

You are one today.



I'm trying to let that sink in.

It makes me a little sad that we have missed your first year. We missed your first smile, first laugh, first crawls and scoots, first steps (if you're already walking). BUT we are so looking forward to all your firsts you'll have with US! Your first plane ride, the first time you ride in a car seat (bet that will be funn!), first time eating at a table with your family, your first hugs and kisses, your first friends, oh the list will go on and on. We are so very, very excited for those moments.


On your birthday, and everyday, you are adored and loved already by your family here and we are working very hard to bring you home as quickly as possible so we won't miss a second more. 


Friday, February 15, 2013

dear baby ryan

I'm participating in an open letter campaign, so check out the link below this letter. :)


Sweet Baby boy,

How is it possible for our hearts to long for you so? Mama, Daddy, Braden and Katie think about you all day, every day. I check the weather to see what it's like in your area of India. Always warm and humid. Good thing you'll fit in JUST FINE down here in south Alabama once summer rolls around. :) Often times I find myself checking the world clock on my phone to see what time it is and I ponder what you must be doing - eating breakfast, playing, napping, going to bed. You turn one year old next week and I wonder if you've taken your first steps yet...or if they will celebrate your special day in the orphanage...or what your favorite foods are.. I wonder about a lot of things because I haven't met you yet.  Although we haven't met I love you fiercely in an inexplicable way. I love your sweet smile, amazing dimples, beautiful black hair, big round eyes, and precious feet that I can't wait to tickle because chances are, they've never been tickled before. I love that God hand picked you for us and out of all of the millions of orphans in the world YOU are the missing piece puzzle piece of our family puzzle. Witnessing all that God has done to make you a part of our family has left me in awe so many times. From the generosity of others to how fast our adoption has progressed just proves that God's fingerprints have been all over this journey. Watching it unfold has been such a tremendous blessing and a lesson in never losing faith. For Mama always knew we would one day add to our family through adoption, I just had to learn that it wasn't in my time that it would happen but in His time. I can't wait to bring you home and show you all the love we have for you! This last bit of waiting will be the hardest and I will constantly remind myself this :

Trusting His perfect timing and loving you even more now than I did when I began writing this letter.

With love,
Your Mama





Open Letter Campaign

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

All signs lead to our baby boy

Back in December we went to see the movie Life of Pi. I saw the previews and it looked interesting but I had no idea it was about the adventures of an Indian boy until the movie started. While watching the movie, the narrator set the scene for the movie in an area of "French" India. I didn't think much of it until yesterday. I googled what the setting was for Life of Pi and where it was filmed. (Side note, how did we ever survive without google? I use it multiple times a day!) So upon google investigation I discovered part of the setting for the movie was the exact city where our baby boy's orphanage is located and they also shot some scenes there, too!  Unbeknownst to us at the time we watched it.. so now I have to buy it when it comes out next month and watch it again. Maybe one day I'll read the book...

If you haven't seen it yet, be sure to rent it! It's one of those make-you-think-at-the-end kinda movies.


Sunday, January 27, 2013

How we love this boy already


Braden, our sweet 11 year old wrote this recently. He has a love for football, writing, and bringing his baby brother home from India! I'm copying his letter exactly (typos included).

Dear Atlanta Falcons Organization,
My name is Braden Chalker, and I have been a fan of the Falcons for quite a while now. I have been to three of your previous games in 2010 against the Carolina Panther, and in 2011 against the New Orleans Saints, and this previous week 15 vs the New York Giants. I am eleven years old, and have been a fan of yours since the first game I went to. I live in Enterprise Alabama. I have always cheered for ya'll in the good times and bad. My family and I are adopting a baby boy India. So, for the last few days we have been tossing up some different names for our new baby boy we are adopting. When my family and I were watching the Falcons VS the Seahawks game, it was getting into those final minuets of the 4th quarter. When ya'll were down by one with 31 seconds left, I still new that ya'll could could it. The Falcons are the comeback kings, I thought to myself. So when Matt Ryan threw the bomb to Harry Douglas and got us on the fifty yard line, I knew we needed one more key play to get into field goal range for Matt Bryant. Matt Ryan then threw the bullet pass to Tony Gonzales who got us into field goal range. When Matt Bryant lined up for the field goal kick, Pete Carroll, the Seahawks coach, tried to ice Matt, but it did not work. Matt attempted the field goal for real, this time, and he made it! I was overwhelmed with joy that Matt had sent us the lead. But the game wasn't over yet, though. On the final play of the game, when Julio Jones got a pic, I was so happy that my team is in the NFC title! that is how excited I was when I found out I was getting a baby brother! The funny story is, we, well, my mom came up with it, decided to name our baby brother Ryan because Matt Ryan is #2 and my brother was born on 2-12-2012. If you could, please, maybe could you donate some money to our adoption fundraiser? Because then I would be happy to have him in my life and teach him everything I know about football and the Falcons, and maybe take him to a Falcons game in the future. Thank you for being such a great inspiring football team. You can check out our story at www.miamyindianangel.blogspot.com
Sincerely,
Braden Chalker

Friday, January 18, 2013

what's next?

"when will you bring him home?" - that is the million dollar question we've been asked just a couple of times ;)  There are a lot of things that have to happen first. Please join us in prayer!


  • First we need our home study and dossier updated to include BOY since everything was written for a girl. Our home study will have to be approved by the state again but since we have been matched, it shouldn't take as long as it did originally. We have already started over this bump in the road but please PRAY for quick turnarounds here.
  • Next we have to apply for a new 797 (immigration approval, the one we just got Jan 2 won't work for our adoption). This step was approved in less than 10 days so please PRAY for speedy approval #2! Two is our magic number in this adoption anyway so it was meant to be that we'd have to apply for TWO 797s! :) 
  • Once we receive the new 797 we will then move forward with more paperwork (I 800) and wait for that approval. Then the DS230 (Visa application, for those of you versed in adoption lingo). PRAY this hurdle is a short one! 
  • Wait for CARA (Central Adoption Resource Authority - India) to receive the Article five letter so they can start the No Objection Certificate process.  PRAY some more and most of you won't even know what any of that is or what it means, and I don't exactly either but PRAY BIG that everything goes off without a hitch!
  • THEN the orphanage can begin the court process to award us guardianship. PRAY the judges are open to hearing our case and then deciding QUICKLY!
  • After his passport arrives, we can make travel plans to get our baby boy!
So when will we bring him home? No one knows for sure. India has developed a new way of processing adoptions and with all the changes there really isn't anyway to know exactly until we are awarded guardianship and he has a passport. So really, at the end we will know! Our best estimate is 4-5months and really that could change either way. I know all of this will happen in God's time but I am asking that we PRAY God wants this to happen quickly.. cause of course, that's what we want! Hahaha, ok, not really. All in God's time, I keep reminding myself... but really, knowing that sweet baby boy is turning 11 months this weekend, ONE YEAR old next month, all in an orphanage is making my heart heavy.  I'm grateful that he's been taken care of thus far but I just want him home with his family... I haven't been able to sleep in weeks. I wake up every night around 2am, thinking it's 12.5 hours ahead of us in India, and I wonder ... What he's doing....Is he happy? Is he playing? Is he eating? What's his favorite food? Is walking yet? Does he have teeth? If so, how many? The list goes on and on... Then I am reminded, Psalm 46:10, Be still and know that I am God. 

I keep asking myself how can I love someone I've never even met? The best answer I can conjure up is God made him to be my son, a part of our family. I just love him. 

Stay tuned to see how God will answer these prayers in the coming weeks! So thankful for your prayers, support, and love. 

p.s. don't forget to PRAY! thanks :)


Friday, January 11, 2013

MATCHED!

So much has happened so quickly!

  • December 20, 2012 - biometrics appointment in Birmingham. These are the fancy, electronic fingerprints that are needed to complete our I 797. Mostly uneventful trip, other than the crazy weather we experienced. 

We waited our turn, scanned our prints and we were done in about 9 minutes total. Drove three hours there and three hours back for a 9 minute appointment. Fun times! We really didn't need our passports but I brought them just in case. 
  • January 1, 2013 - we received a letter from USCIS stating our 797 was on it's way! This is the immigration approval so needless to say we were thrilled, and it was approved in less than 2 weeks. Very impressive! 

  • January 2, 2013 - our 797 arrived at our agency! What a great way to start 2013... and we'll take it. Happy New Year to us! 
  • January 4, 2013 - Our case worker called about a potential match - 10 month old, precious little one, adorable baby BOY! BOY? BOY! We had never really considered a boy and felt a girl was in our future all along... We spent the weekend in prayer and discussion, open to the possibility that God wanted a boy for our family. He knows best, right? Always.
  • January 7, 2013 - MATCHED to the sweetest orphan in ALL of India! He is incredibly precious and I cannot stop staring at his beautiful pictures. In fact, I wear my Iphone battery out each day looking at his sweet dimples and bare feet... feet that have never worn shoes or socks and for some reason that worries me. ;) I've counted his fingers and toes, examined his ears, marveled at his black hair, his long eyelashes, and his ability to stand while holding onto things. He looks so strong. And amazing. 
January 7, 2012 My mom went to heaven

January 7, 2013 We were matched with our son


I've been saying God's fingerprints are all over this in so many details...  and we are just so excited!

Unfortunately, since we've switched gears we will have to amend some of our paperwork now that we are now accepting a boy, redo our 797, etc. We already had to fix some of our documents due to a mistake and we were just waiting for a referral so we could do it all at once. We've been told this shouldn't set us back too much and our agency is hopeful we will travel in 4-5 months. Praying we have the finances in place to take Katie and Braden along, too. They are old enough to travel such a great distance and I would love for them to see where their brother lived and experience the Indian culture firsthand. Please keep us close in prayer as we go through this next step of organizing documents on our end and then wait for India to prepare documents on their end. Still some waiting to do but at least we can see the fruits of our labor - this precious little boy... who now needs a name... 
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