Waiting…

As we entered into this blessed season of Christmas, my heart was burdened. I rejoiced in the birth of the Christ Child, but I also had great anxiety at the 20+ weeks of waiting I have done, for approval from India. During these many weeks I have gone crazy when communication with my agency has been lacking, when I get a call from an unknown number, when I check my emails at 4am…just praying that I see an approval email, or even more so when I am told by my agency that my files are marked, “under review.”

I ache to have approval and match with my child. I struggle to not be jealous when I see other families post on our private FB group, “…after 6 weeks we have approval!” or “We only waited four days!” This is so challenging for my heart to accept because here I am, waiting 20+ weeks, there are friends who have waited twice as long. According to my agency, there’s no rhyme or reason to why India approves some families before others. They definitely do not approve in the order that files are received!

As I lay in bed the other night, Christmas eve, I couldn’t help but ask God, “why?” Why do so many families have to wait and wait and wait? Why would India take so long to approve families, when India is reported to have the highest number of orphans/needy children in the world?! There are so many families waiting, and stuck in their process until after approval. Why couldn’t  He give me my prayer of knowing who my kiddo is by Christmas? When I was registered in the beginning of August that prayer seemed more than long enough. … Just all the WHYS?!

As I laid there, the Lords gentle whispers filled my aching heart. “Maybe India takes so long because they truly care about My children. Maybe they are working for your story in ways you aren’t meant to ever understand. etc.” I couldn’t help but ponder the answer to this question I was hearing, “Are you truly giving your cares to Me? Do you trust me? Do you love me? Do you know that My ways are perfect?”

I began to be filled with these scripture passages:

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thesalonians 5:16-18

When was the last time that I thanked God for the period of waiting? When was the last time I saw this time as a time to grow closer to Him and His direction in my life? This adoption journey is hard, friends. It is exhausting. It is crazy busy. And honestly, sometimes the silence is deafening. But none of that means this time of trial and waiting is bad. Actually, the more I prayed about it, the more I could see God blessing it.

But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.
Jeremiah 17:7-8

Why do I so easily become discouraged when the “heat” comes? Why do I allow my heart to listen and react to the voice of deceit and evil? Satan despises adoption! If you don’t believe me, ask your friends/family who have adopted, how often there were hurdles and road blocks. But also ask them how many ways the blocks were suddenly obliterated! God has shown up time and again in my journey. I need to commit to my memory these moments of great blessing, for when these times of waiting and trial come. Approval will not be the end of waiting.

After matching with a child, it will be nothing but waiting. Waiting for match. Waiting for documents to come in. Waiting on court to happen. Waiting for notice of travel dates. etc. I just keep praying that I can know a name, a face, a story…to help me focus on my child during the wait. To know they are mine and I am theirs. After nearly two years, we are so close!

As we journey through this Christmas season, will you pray with me that the hearts of those who are reviewing my files will be moved? Pray that I may finally be able to know and see my child’s face. My heart aches with such deep and profound love for this child I have never met! I long for them to know they have been chosen. I yearn for the day when I can go back to India, and meet my child for the first time!

Thank you for following this journey! Although I have been quiet recently, know that I appreciate all of your love and support throughout the past two years! I cannot wait to do a post announcing approval and match! God bless you +

A mamma who continues to wait.

Adoption. Reality. Awareness.

Did you know that November is National Adoption Awareness month? Before I started my journey to adopt, I had no idea. I don’t remember growing up and hearing people talk about it, preach about it, etc. We, as a Christian people, have failed in our mission laid out for us in James 1:27. We are called to help the widow and the orphan. Do you and your family do anything special the month of November to celebrate and help the orphan? If so, what do you do? How have you used this months awareness to show your children the beauty and the need of adoption?

This month it is my goal to write several short posts about the joys and the trials of adoption. I want to use this platform to help those of you who take the time to follow my blog, understand more deeply what adoption means and is. We have probably all seen the videos of “gotcha days,” on youtube or facebook. The truth is there is so much more to adoption than what  you see in those beautiful moments.

The first thing I want to raise awareness to is that for the adoptive family and child, this has been a LONG TIME COMING! They have spent countless days and hours signing papers, sending fee payments, getting psych evals done (which are a journey in and of itself!), defending their call to adopt, worrying about why things keep going wrong around them, etc. Let me tell you, Satan HATES adoption! So those of us in the depths of this journey know all about the “adoption curse.” But love prevails and in the end of these struggles, our kiddos do come home!

While adoption is a wonderful gift and blessing for all involved, it is also a huge trauma and loss. Every child belongs in a family, especially their birth family if at all right and possible. When it is not, adoption is a beautiful thing. But with that comes the weight of that childs (ren) loss. I ask you to keep that in mind when friends/family are bringing children home to their forever families.

There will be many beautiful moments of bonding and loving. Moments of learning how to be loved. So often our kiddos come from a place where they receive little affection or an inappropriate kind of affection. All of the loss these kiddos have experienced affect them. Think about it, these strangers suddenly show up one day and call themselves mommy and/or daddy. They remove that child from the one place they see or know as home, where they belong.

There is great loss for a child when they are adopted. I am only learning as I go here, but I have witnessed this with many close friends and their kiddos. Again, adoption is a wonderful thing! I am just asking you to be aware that underneath the joy and excitement of finally coming home, there is a level where only time and love can create a bond that will be lasting and effective. These kiddos have to learn what it is to have a mommy and daddy. They have to learn that they are always going to be there. These kids need the space and time to see that mommy and daddy are here for good, they don’t come and go as the adult volunteers may have at their orphanage.

In the adoption world, we call this period of time, “cocooning.” If you want to read about it, this is a good article to read: Cocooning-Lifeline Article. Basically, it is a time for adoption families to settle down at home and learn the new normal. It is a time for the new little one to learn what it means to have parents. It’s a time set aside from the chaos of life, for the family to learn each other more. This period does look different for each family. Some don’t even feel a need to withdraw for a period, while others may take weeks or even months, to step away and be alone together. This is generally a period where friends and family don’t come over to visit, they wouldn’t go to any big gatherings or events, etc.

While it may be hard for friends/relatives to accept or understand, I encourage you to research it. Come to understand it. Follow it. Let these little ones learn to depend solely on their new parents. While you would be excited to meet and bond with this new family member, you have to realize that the parents have sometimes spent years to get to this point. They’ve spent years looking at a photo or video of a child they call their own, and now they need the time alone to make that a reality. Don’t worry, you will have your time to get to know them, they are family now!

Again, I am only learning these things as I go. I have been reading and researching for over two years on this topic alone. I am sure once my little is here it will be made even more real to me. So, I may not word everything 100% accurately or my view may be different once my little is here, but at least it may help you to start looking at adoption in its entirety. That is my hope. I hope through my pondering that I am able to spark and desire to raise awareness for adoption and how we can each play our part.

 

Blessings to you and yours!

 

 

 

Just One.

Since I was young, when I am at my darkest or saddest moments, my heart aches to write out my feelings. I see them as love letters to the Lord. I have so many journals that they more than fill an entire book shelf! I have always found that I can speak my heart most clearly when I write. Tonight is one of those times, but instead of hiding it away behind a fancy leather cover, I wanted to be vulnerable and invite you to hear the words that rest in my heart this evening.

This adoption process is hard. I am worn so immeasurably thin… How many tears have I wept the past three days alone? Too many to count…but God knows! This journey has stretched my heart in ways I never knew a heart could stretch. The entire process is exhausting waves of excitement, fear, joy, anxiety, celebration and dreams, setbacks and fees. It’s a lot. I am often overcome by the weight of this, “yes.” But I push on and continue to be amazed at His providence and support. He pushes me when I am a “doubting Thomas,” and He shows up whenever I am at my weakest and most vulnerable spot.

At times, it feels as if all these appointments, doctors visits, papers that need notarized and signed for what seems like the ten millionth time…will never lead to my child. It feels like I am in one of those fancy doors at a hotel that just keep spinning and spinning, and if you don’t get out fast enough, the end never comes. Sometimes I sit here and stare at the list of “to do’s and Still Owe’s” and I want to give up. I doubt that I have the strength to do it all, after working several jobs to save funds (even though it feels like it’s all due before I can even make it!).

St. Teresa of Kolkata has always spoken to my heart…especially after my time spent at Kalighat (Mother’s Home for the Dying). This evening I was really struggling in my faith when it comes to this adoption journey. I started listening to a talk a beautiful friend once gave on Mother, and a few lines really struck a chord in my heart. These words re-centered me. They reminded me why I began this journey in the first place.

A little over two years ago I arrived back in America, after living in India for four months. It was then that I first felt and heard the calling to adopt. It was also then that I first let fear be my answer and said, “no way, man!” I came up with every excuse. I can’t afford it. I am single. People will judge me. The child could reject me. I’m not experienced enough. I don’t have enough to give them. etc. All lies that Satan spoke (and at times continues to speak) into my heart. But then I saw India. I saw poverty. I saw orphan hood. I saw love. I saw Christ!

“There are more people who have food, than there are people who are hungry. If we all fed just one person, there would be no more people who are hungry. It doesn’t require a Herculean effort.” ~ a friend ~

“Mother Teresa wrote to the Archbishop to ask for permission to found the Missionaries of Charity, … she said, ‘I know, Your Excellency, how inadequate I am. I know that I don’t have the skills to carry all of this out. I know that this is much greater than I am capable of, but . . . wouldn’t it be worth it, to make all of this sacrifice, if even just one of these little ones were brought back to the Heart of Jesus?”

The heart of the Missionaries is just that, going out and reaching ‘Just that one.'” I witnessed it first hand the day I spent hours bathing and changing 300+ women at Kalighat. I will forever remember the moment I walked around the corner and was overcome at the sights, smells and sounds around me. My humanity told me to run. To avoid the discomfort that was sure to be found in this place. Praise God I stayed! That day turned out to be one of the best and most beautiful days of my life.

The memories I have of the love I received from women who were in worse shape than the most horrific photo you could find on the web. Women who had maybe hours left of their life here on earth…living in the most horrific pain and a lot of them were abandoned and alone. Or so I thought. I quickly learned just how present Christ was in their hearts and in the heart of that home, itself! Love lived there. Love was breathing and intermingling as people from all over the world sat beside one another just listening, massaging and dressing the shells of a life that once was vibrant and fully alive. In those hours, “The Word was made Flesh and dwelt among us.”

I came home from that trip, changed. I still am learning just how much the Lord did in my heart during that experience (all four months, not just the one day at Kalighat). I knew that the Lord had called me to adopt. I stepped out into the deep, aware of the challenge it would bring…never comprehending just how demanding it would be. But I am so grateful! Because of that Yes, the Lord has worked wonders in my heart. Here are a few blessings that I have witnessed in the past year of this adoption journey.

  1. When I started out, I was scared of being alone. This journey takes everything out of you! Could I do it without a spouse to lean on? No one in my life really understood what the adoption experience was like and that terrified me. But He quickly provided a friend. Another single Mamma, who ironically (or not so ironically!) had adopted from the very foster home that I had spent four months serving at! How cool that a year after coming home, I would become close friends with not only another single mamma, but one of the little girls I had come to love during my time away! 🙂 Through this friend, I was introduced to many new friends who have all grown (and are continuing to grow) their families through adoption from India!
  2. Just a few weekends ago, I went to Cleveland for the day to celebrate an Indian festival called, Holi. It is the festival of colors! This is to celebrate the change of seasons from winter to spring. It celebrates the victory of good over evil and is meant to spread happiness and love. Let me tell you it did all of that and then some! We threw these bright colors at one another and celebrated the culture of our children, together as one family! Ah, it was glorious! (I also met the families of several more kiddos I had met, while in India!)

Because of my beautiful friend, I have now been blessed with so many friends and fellow India lovers 🙂 It has made this process so much easier to have people who “get it.”

Last week, I found out that I didn’t receive a grant I had applied for back in November (Yes, some grant cycles take months before any monies are awarded or denied). I was bummed because there are only a handful of grants that accept single applicants. So this was a huge disappointment.

I had also applied for another grant, that was supposed to be reviewed and decided upon today. I was so distracted all day at work because I knew that the grant committee had my application open on some table somewhere, and I was begging the Lord to provide some desperately needed funds! I came home to an email that they had decided not to review my application until June 25, because of the amount of applications they had received this round and other circumstances. Not going to lie, that was tough. I sobbed. All day I had been imploring our Lord to provide, and I was so sure it was going to happen…and then came home to find out that it hadn’t even been a possibility, yet.

I did mail another grant out yesterday, and I am continuing to pray for a positive response from both today’s grant (being reviewed at the end of June) and the one I just mailed. I have found one more grant that I can apply for and will hopefully be finishing that this week. Please join me in praying for peace, patience and surrender. Every, “No,” I get is one, “Yes,” for another family. It is still One More Child…a step closer to their forever family. That is cause for rejoicing!

In the next few months, I will owe a lot of agency and filing fees. I am excited that these next steps will include starting the registration process in India, so that I can finally match with my baby! It’s so hard to be working non-stop and hoping and pining for this little one that my heart already is in love with, and I don’t even know who they are or what they look like. I ACHE INTENSELY for that day to come!

I currently have a balance of $1450 to pay for the rest of the first set of agency fees (I’ve already paid a portion off). Almost immediately after that I will owe a nearly $5,000 (this is why grants would be an AMAZING gift and relief right about now!) fee to register with India. I anxiously await the moment when I can check off one more thing from my process countdown. Every heart drawn is one step closer to my little one never spending another moment without her Mamma’s love. (My Dossier is complete, I just need the fee to go along with the paperwork!!!!)

India Adoption Timeline

Pray with me, that the Father would provide (as He always does) the monies needed at the appropriate time. Pray for my heart to find peace in the time of waiting. We all know that our timing is imperfect and that the Father’s timing is nothing but perfection (if only my heart could remember it more often!).

If you or your friends would like to help in any way, please reach out to me! I would accept any help, even just a friendly phone call or hug! 🙂 There are so many ways you could help (as so many of you have) bring this little girl home!

I currently have been painting and selling some Mandala artwork, to help raise the needed funds. I will be hosting a paint party soon as well! I will have my artwork displayed for sale at Muggswigz coffee shoppes June, July and August! You can also commission specific art pieces if you have a particular theme, design or color scheme you like. Be sure to join my facebook group, Talitha Koum Adoption!, to see my latest creations and pieces for sale!

Thank you for reading and following our journey!

Blessings+

A hopeful Mamma

 

paypal.me/JacquelineMcNeill