Sunday, April 10, 2016

Before 6...comes 5

     1, 2, 3, 4, 5! FIVE! As of March 22, 2016 at 3:39PM...our family of 4 became a family of 5 with the arrival of our precious girl, Emmaline Elyse. She was born at 37 weeks and 6 days...arriving almost exactly a week before my scheduled c-section- just like her older brother! While her birth story was not one that was necessarily expected, it was full of God's grace, faithfulness, and protection. I can say without a doubt that we are all smitten with our new little bundle and we are enjoying the adjustment she's brought to our family. Sleeplessness, dark circles, and all.

     Our daily routines definitely look a bit different right now. My recovery this time was harder than my previous two my first week or two home was definitely rougher than anticipated! BUT, I am grateful to be back among the living and have enjoyed these new daily routines. For example, Landon stays home with me on his "off-school" days now and I get to pick up Sydney from Kindergarten. I have tried to keep these two things as consistent as possible- whether I've had less sleep the night before or whether Miss Emmaline needs to eat at the EXACT moment I need to leave to pick up the kiddos on time. And for the most part, it's worked out really well. Sydney and Landon have been more than understanding and forgiving of my schedule and their little sister's attachment to Mommy. And again, I am so grateful for this smooth transition. It's been an answered prayer to say the least.

     While we have been in a whirlwind of activity with our newest addition, we have also had a lot of activity with our NEXT precious bundle- the little one who will make us a family of SIX! I wanted to update everyone on where we are in the adoption process again since it's been a while. Now that Emmaline has arrived, we have ONE more visit with our social worker and we can begin to finalize our home study. *Our social worker has been a PEACH to work with and slowed down our home study a bit so she could include Emmaline. This saved us a lot of money as we would have had to pay for an "update" to our home study if it would have been finalized before Emmaline's birth.* We do have some more paperwork to complete and some other appointments that need to be made, but those items can hopefully be crossed off now that I'm on maternity leave. Ironically, my maternity leave has been looked at as a GREAT time to check these things OFF...teaching and coaching basketball left me very little time to accomplish these things between the business hours of 8AM and 5PM. No one ever seemed to answer my phone calls after 5PM...Hmmmm. Eric and I also have some trainings to complete as part of our educational requirement for our home study. Most are online classes that we can take at our own pace and on our own time- although we do need to be diligent with the timing of these trainings. This slight flexibility is helpful with our different schedules though. And it might come in extra handy when we need to pass the time during those early morning feedings! While Eric can't always help with the "feeding" part, he has been very helpful with diaper changes and burping so I can catch a few winks here and there.

     Once our home study is finalized, we can begin applying for grants and other financial aid to help with our process. We've also considered hosting another fundraiser or 2. This area continues to be something at the forefront of my prayer list as we get further and further into our process. We'd covet your prayers in this area too! Thank you!

     Once Emmaline is about 3 months old, we'll hopefully be at a point where we can begin the MATCHING process. Our agency prefers our file to be "on hold" until our youngest is around this age so it allows for an easier travel time. Basically, Emmaline will be slightly older when we'd need to travel to China which would make our travel plans more conducive to having little ones at home. Since we are still working on our file and eventually, working towards completing our dossier (GIANT packet of paperwork being sent to China)...we'll work for the next couple of months to get to a point where we're ready to match.

     I have been blown away at the provisions God has allowed in this process already. The timing has been His timing and not our own. We've had roadblocks and set backs, but we've also had victories and triumphs- both big and small. One of the biggest victories I've seen so far has been with Sydney and Landon. I've always had more peace than concern about their transition with all of our family changes. And time and time again, my peace has been solidified as our adoption has continued to be recognized by both of them. They've already planned how our "toddler" (this is what they call our little one) will fit into the minivan. Just the other day, Sydney explained that "The toddler can sit in the way back with me and Landon can stay in the middle with Emmaline. This way we can both watch out for them, Mom!" Comments like these make me so happy and thankful for God's plan and the story He's building with our family.

     And then there's Landon. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, he goes to preschool. Part of his morning routine is a morning question that each student answers. Well this past Friday, Eric had dropped Landon when I brought him home after was natural for Eric to ask Landon what his question was for that day. Here was the question: How many people are in your family? Landon quickly shared that he answered SIX! Immediately, he followed up with "Is that right, Daddy?" Eric and I both smiled at each other...because while we are physically, a family of 5...emotionally, we ARE a family of SIX!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Unfolding {Part 2}

     It's shortly after 7 this morning...and I'm sitting in the sobering darkness of a quiet house. Life has been anything but quiet lately. And so, when I (unexpectedly) woke up as Eric left for sound practice at church this morning, I walked downstairs for my decaf and my computer. To write. To share. To simply the quiet of a house...a house that typically isn't at rest.

     As I reread my {Part 1} post, I had to chuckle because I was 17 weeks along...and now, my computer scarcely fits on my lap due to a nearly 31 week belly. Ha! While I have just 8 weeks left before we meet our sweet baby GIRL, I wanted to sit down and take advantage of this quiet space to  share things that have been on my heart. It's been a little while...but so much has happened. So let's try to wrap up some of my loose ends from Part 1. I'll begin this post with the group: Fund the Nations. Check out their website here!

     I first came across FTN via Instagram which is probably not shocking to those who know me. I love connecting with shops and other adoption accounts on IG. It truly is a great community in that aspect. Fund the Nations helps create t-shirts for fundraising purposes and their designs are some of the most unique I've seen. If you've read any of my previous posts, fundraising is still a hard topic for us to swallow. We've wrestled with the idea a lot. In fact, we've been fairly quiet on that front since a couple of fundraisers (hosted by our dear friends) last Spring. The concept of a t-shirt was no different. I struggled with even contacting FTN to gather information. But after much deliberation and prayer, I decided to email FTN with nothing to lose. After all, t-shirts seem to be a popular fundraiser and I've been known to buy a t-shirt or 2 as a way to help other adoptive families. Maybe we could also give it a try...

     On July 31, 2015...I heard from Ricky, a Fund the Nations coordinator. The process was super simple and he assured me there was no pressure to go ahead with the design until we were ready. The minimum order was just 13 shirts. This felt like a good option. Then came the designing part. What would people want to wear? Would people even wear our t-shirt? I had zero idea. Thankfully, it wasn't dependent on my wealth (or lack) of creativity. Ricky asked me a set of questions about scripture that had stuck out to us on our journey, colors, type of t-shirt, the country we were adopting from, etc. I had mentioned a few verses, but kept coming back to our Blog Name and Steven Curtis Chapman's song. Glorious Unfolding. And then there was the country. Since we were still filling out MOUNTAINS of paperwork for South Korea, I hesitated. I deleted this particular detail at least 10 times. A part of me was afraid to put South Korea. Not because we would back out, but because it felt like such a tall mountain to climb yet. And all I could think about was the verse from Matthew 17:20. He replied, "Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." 

     Doubting this was doubting our Creator who could accomplish anything. And so I submitted our answers and shared our heart to adopt from South Korea. I wasn't even sure how he would use our country in his design and IF he would at all. After receiving our responses and feedback, Ricky sent me our design on August 4, 2015. August 4, 2015. That date should sound familiar from Part 1. And truthfully, it was breathtaking. That may seem like a silly phrase for a t-shirt...but I assure you...when you have ZERO idea of what you want a t-shirt to look like and someone (who you do NOT know) creates a perfect design of your use the word breathtaking.

     And so in the background was South Korea. The birth country of our son or daughter. I received this email at 6PM on August 4, 2015. This was about 8 hours after I had taken a pregnancy test and found out that we were now expecting. Expecting a baby was the only thing that would stall our process with South Korea. The only thing that would potentially remove us from the South Korea program. We signed and notarized papers weeks prior that stated our knowledge and acceptance of this fact. So here we were...overjoyed at the HUGE ANSWER to prayer that God had given life...growing inside my tummy. A tummy that we thought was unable to do just that...grow new life. And yet, part of my heart was breaking...because I knew what this meant for our relationship with our agency and our country program. It was over. Wrestling with such opposite emotions is difficult. I felt ungrateful and grateful at the same time.

     I emailed Ricky and explained our circumstance and he was more than understanding. He told me we could sit on our design as long as we needed to even! There was a part of me that felt foolish for going down this path...after I had hesitated so much to even begin the inquiry process. But, truly, there's nothing foolish about God's plan. If anything, this t-shirt and our blog name has an even deeper meaning now in our our journey. God had just continued to unfold our story at this point. A story that we had started more than 4 years ago...with unexpected twists and turns. There's been lots to unfold and unpack along the way. And again, I am eternally grateful that HE is the author and the illustrator of such a story.