"I will not leave you as orphans - I will come to you." John 14:18

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving. . .

As I have enjoyed being with my family the last few days, it's given me a lot of time to process the changes that are going on in my heart and in my life. What a blessing it is to be able to share with people about the gift that God has given me. . . the gift of His knowledge and direction. I was very blessed to be able to share my story and my plans with my distant cousin, and even more thrilled when I saw and heard how supportive she was. I have found most, if not all, of the people in my life to be extremely supportive.

I have had quite a few dead end contacts the last 2 weeks which is why I haven't posted anything. I was able to make a contact with a foster agency that only works with children ages 11-17. Thankfully, the woman sent me some information in the mail and left me with a promise that she would pass my information on to the proper people. I recieved the paperwork she promised and was able to muddle through very little of it without explanation. So, I did the best I could to hit the internet and friends again and find another "in". My friend encouraged me not to give up. She's been through the system and has mentioned several times how slow they are in getting back to people. The crazy thing is that I can't imagine children sitting around waiting for homes yet the Department of Children's Services are dragging their feet in screening homes and placing children with people who are desperate to have them!!

I also got on adoptuskids.org which features children in the United States that need homes. Many of them have special needs - physical, mental, and/or developmental disabilities. I found an email address there where I could put in for some more information.

I have called and left a message for the folks at DCS to call me back regarding starting my PATH training in January. Many friends have asked about my timeline. . . I'm looking at starting the training in January, which will last about 3 months. After that, I will begin my home study and application process which will take 3-6 months. At the conclusion of that process, I will (hopefully) be accepted as a foster parent and can become a caregiver immediately. Can you believe that it's possible that NEXT Thanksgiving I could spend the day with my child? Can you believe that NEXT Christmas, my little one may be making his or her Christmas list for Santa? Can you believe that NEXT year, I may become a mom? What a thrill! How frightening!! Seriously! Am I ready for this? I'm sure I'm not, but am completely confident that God wants to use me in the life of a very special child. I can hardly wait to see who He has picked out for me!

Friends, I do hope that your Thanksgiving was as special as mine - with friends and family. May God continue to bless you as we head into the season of the Celebration of His Birth!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Information Overload

This week, I have thrown myself into the information highway and have found that I am more confused than ever. I have done internet searches. I have read an adoption book. I have printed massive handbooks and read them. I am no closer to finding my child this week than I was last week. My brain is swimming with all of the facts and not even sure where to start. I was able to send in a request online to talk to someone at a state agency, only to find when I spoke with them the next day that they are not the people that I need to talk with. This agency was a stage agency that took care of placing foster kids, but the children they work with are ages 11-17. The good thing out of that conversation was that the woman was able to send me an informational e-mail and a promise that she would drop some information in the mail to me. So, now I'll wait a few days to recieve this information from her regarding the PATH training which is the mandatory training that prospective foster parents go through prior to applying. I've looked at the PATH training schedule online, but it's just about like reading baseball stats. . . unless you know what you're looking at, forget it.

The best thing that happened this week was meeting a new friend. Two friends from church who are sisters told me that they had a friend that is a single mom of two boys that she adopted through the foster system. The kicker is that she adopted as a single mom. . . Thank you Lord! Finally, someone like me! I have had oodles of people come out of the woodwork and open their hearts to me about their adoption journies or to offer someone that they know that would be "willing to talk to me about adoption". While all these people are SO helpful and incredibly valuable, the one thing I was craving was to meet someone like myself who is single, who's always been single, and who had successfully adopted. My friends from church contacted this friend of theirs on Facebook, and she in turn contacted me. My heart soared when I talked to her. Finally! Someone who REALLY knows where I'm coming from. Someone who has felt the pressure of knowing that God is leading you to adoption and not having a clue where the support is going to come from. Someone who is content with her singleness and status as a mom. I am so thankful for this new friendship and can't wait to find out more information from her. Truth be known, it was through her leading that I was able to find the website where I put in my information and recieved the call I spoke about earlier. She is such a blessing to me.

Will you please pray for me this week? Please pray that I will continue to knock on doors and get answers that I need in order to find my child. Please pray that I will continue to wrestle with and answer the questions that are posed to me about my future from family and friends. Thanks again for your support.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

God has chosen me. . .

God has chosen me to be adopted into His family. He has loved me with an unconditional love and disciplined me with a Father's touch. I am so amazed that He choses to use me when I mess up my relationship with Him and opportunities that He gives me on a daily basis. Because of this incredible love that He has so freely given me, I cannot be silent. I must share God's love. I cannot be still. I can no longer wait for my life to start. Today is the day.

God has chosen me to be the plan for a child who needs a forever family. He made it clear to me tonight while I was at the "Cry of the Orphan" rally in Franklin, TN that He is calling me to join Him at work where He is. I am scared. I am not worthy. I will mess up. I will disappoint. I will fail Him. I will fail myself. But, even knowing this, God has chosen ME! I am the plan! I've often wondered what God's plan is for my life. How could I have been so self-centered?? It's not about me! What is God's plan for my child's life? The plan is ME!

God has chosen me to take this journey of obedience by inviting me to join Him in His work. All I can do is respond with a "Yes".

God has chosen me to share with you that there are 147 million orphans in this world. James 1:27 instructs us that "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

God has chosen me to respond to His command to care for orphans by seeking adoption. What has God chosen you to do? What is your part? Have you ever considered fostering? Adoption? Financially supporting orphans or orphanages? Missions to an orphanage? Donating to help a child find their forever family?

So, where do I go from here? I have no idea. But, you can be assured that this week will be full of questions, meetings, internet searches, and phone calls. I am not willing to let another day pass that I am not pursuing bringing MY child home.

Lord Jesus, please watch over and care for my child while he or she is away from me. Please God, comfort them and let them know that Mommy is coming soon. Please help them to be safe, warm, fed, and loved in my absence. Amen.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Cry of the Orphan

While doing some research on the web last night, I happened upon an announcement for a very special event here in Nashville that will take place on Sunday. Did you know that Sunday, November 8th is Orphan Sunday? It's a day that is set aside for the church to commit to praying for and caring for orphans. I had heard about that briefly on "The Fish" - one of our local Christian radio stations. So, I happen upon this website, http://www.cryoftheorphan.org/, and find that there is a free concert on Sunday from 4-6p featuring speakers and singers, including Steven Curtis Chapman and Geoff Moore. This event is designed to help raise awareness for orphans. Whether you're considering adoption, have adopted, have been adopted, or know what adoption is - this event is for YOU. It'll also be aired live on-line for those of you who can't be present. Will you please visit the website and look into it? Will you consider finding out what you can do to support orphans? Prayer? Adoption? Fostering? Financial Support of someone else's adoption? There are so many opportunities.

A song that has been on the radio has caught my attention in a huge way. It really has ministered to my heart as I seek what the Lord would have me do regarding adoption. I tried to load it onto my playlist, but apparently am not smart enough to figure out how to download it there first. I would love to share the words with you though. The song is by Leeland with a guest appearance of Brandon Heath, "Follow You". If you hear this song on the radio or even on your iPod or CD player, will you please think of me and pray for me when you hear it? I am so blessed by the followers that I have. . . I know that will bless your efforts. Enjoy these lyrics and may they speak to your heart as they have mine. . .

Follow You
You live among the least of these
The weary and the weak
And it would be a tragedy
For me to turn away

All my needs You have supplied
When I was dead You gave me life
So how could I not give it away so freely?
And I?

Follow You into the homes of the broken
Follow You into the world
Meet the needs for the poor and the needy God
Follow You into the world

Use my hands use my feet
To make Your kingdom come

To the corners of the earth
Until Your work is done

Faith without works is dead
On the cross Your blood was shed
So how could we not give it away so freely?

Follow You into the homes of the broken
Follow You into the world ooooh
Meet the needs for the poor and the needy God
Follow You into the world

And I give all myself, I give all myself
I give all myself to YOU

Follow You into the homes of the broken
Follow You into the world (Follow YOU)
Meet the needs for the poor and the needy God
Follow You into the world

Follow You into the homes of the broken
Follow You into the world
Meet the needs for the poor and the needy God

Visit here to see a video of this song and hear the amazing lyrics.

Totally unrelated to my adoption journey, but completely exciting none-the-less. . . I had the privilege of a surprise visitor at school yesterday. The editor of an online newspaper was interviewing people in White House (where I teach) that "make a difference in the community". What an honor! What a HUGE surprise!! Click here to hear the interview and see a wacky picture of me. I have no idea what I was doing in this picture - talking with my hands, no doubt!

Enjoy your weekend friends!!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Choices. . .

As I walk this road, I realize that I am completely alone. Don't get me wrong. I have countless friends, family, supporters, and cheerleaders that are coaching me and cheering me on from the side. But when the rubber meets the road, I am the one that has to make the final decision. Whether you agree with my decisions or not, I am the one that has to live with them.

I am a person that craves feedback. I always want to make the right decision, and (right or wrong) look to others to help me in my decisions. I take opinions and suggestions very seriously and consider if they will work for me or not. Sometimes, people influence my decisions and sometimes they do not. So, I need your help. Here's what I'm thinking so far. . .

Domestic or International? I am leaning towards domestic. I served for 4 years on the mission field here in Nashville prior to my teaching career. I chose home missions because I feel very strongly that we need to first minister to the needs of those in our Jerusalem. That is NOT to say that I do not value foreign missions - on the contrary. But God called me to home missions because of my passion for teaching the gospel where I am. I understand and agree that there are SO many children that need homes from Russia, Ethiopia, South America, and a whole host of other areas. But I also know that there are a whole host of children that need homes that are from the US.

What age? Realistically thinking, I'm not sure that I see myself raising an infant. Those formative years are SO important and a time that I would LOVE to be a part of, but as a single mother, I know that they only option would be to have a daycare raise my child as I wouldn't be able to stay home. There are some amazing daycare's out there; Daycare's that are focused on training and teaching children in positive ways. . . I'm definitely not down on daycare. . . but I am not sure that would be the best option for my child. Maybe it's selfishness or a lack of trust for finances. . . why would I want to pay $800 - $1000 a month, when, if I had an older child, I could take them to school with me? So, that's why I'm leaning towards an "older" child. . .maybe 4 or 5.

Male or Female? I feel as though I'm most equipped to raise a girl. I certainly won't close my home to a boy, but I feel very strongly that a boy needs a father-figure. I have a strong church family, and an incredible family - but I'm not sure it's fair to any of them to assume that they will take on the father-figure role.

So - based on the age of child that I'm focusing on, and the domestic issue, I am wondering about fostering to adopt. I realize that most of the time the children in the foster care system are really hurting. They are struggling with a whole host of issues that I have never experienced and know little about. I feel very strongly that God will give me the skills that I need to raise a child in this situation. I've been looking at the Tennessee State Foster Care website and am brought to tears by so many of the videos and biographies of children looking for homes. How is it that a child, a child, has to market themselves for a home? How sad is that - that a child needs to put himself out there for others to look at and choose or reject.

So what are your thoughts? Have anything you'd like to share?