Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Journey to Luisa (Part III)

If you missed them, read Part I and Part II of our journey to our little girl.

So, to recap, we had been exhausting all avenues of research pertaining to cerebral palsy, and I was feeling consistently inconsistent.

Most days, when I would ask Philip what his thoughts were, they were the opposite of mine at the time.  We would typically swap places the next day.

I had so many reservations.  All were selfish.  Disgustingly so, actually.

One was the loss of my free time.  When I would meet my mommy friends at the park for a playdate, I would kick back on the nearest bench and watch the kids run out all their preschooler energy.  I would get in some much-needed adult conversation time.  I loved the fact that Caroline was now so independent and low-maintenance.  Then the negative thoughts would come, creeping in like a dark cloud over my sunny day at the park.  "If we do adopt Luisa, these days are over.  I'll be consigning myself to forever playing on the playground with the kids, helping her do what the other kids are doing, while the mommies lounge on the bench where I used to sit."

Told you they were selfish concerns.

The next day, I would be full of faith and conviction that God had chosen this path for our family.  I would have some perspective.  I would see that he has provided and will continue to provide more than enough to meet our needs.  For years, I have clung to what I see as my purpose in life, "to glorify God and enjoy Him forever."  Answering yes to this calling is how we were to glorify God at this time in our lives.

Then I would have a difficult day with Caroline.  I would think, "How in the world do I think I can parent a child with special needs when I can't even handle the three year old I have now?  No way I am patient enough to handle it."  The fire of conviction from the previous day would be doused by the whining and the fits.

My perspective would return as my preschooler awoke well-rested and reasonable the next morning.  I would convey to Philip all of the reasons I felt that our family was perfect for this particular situation and how I could see that God had been preparing us for this all along.

Then another day would dawn, and with it would come doubt.  I would fret over the limitations that would now be placed on our freedom to just get up and go.  I would think about how difficult it would be to run errands or how this would affect our future family vacations.

As I said, I was consistently inconsistent.

On the weekend of my 30th birthday, Philip surprised with a weekend away for just the two of us.  We went to Desoto State Park and spent the weekend relaxing, hiking, and discussing this decision.  It was wonderful to be able to step away from the business of our everyday lives and really spend some time thinking this over together.  We left that weekend knowing she was meant to be our daughter.

After we had made the decision to pursue Luisa's adoption, the reservations were gone!  The roller coaster of doubt and conviction about the decision had ended.  However, it seemed that I had actually boarded another, unexpected carnival ride.  This one took me on loops of joy and dips of sadness.

I was elated that we now had another daughter!  We were able to share with Caroline, and she was ecstatic.  (I think the thought of a plane ride and a new sister were equally thrilling to her.)  We already had a love for Luisa that is inexplicable.  It is hard to put into words loving a child on another continent, but we were truly head over heels for her.

We called all of our family and let them know about the new addition.  Each call, while joyous, was tempered with the explanation of her special needs.  It was draining to repeat again and again.

I actually went through what I see now as a mourning period.  I had to mourn the loss of the family I had always pictured.  This was not what I had always thought would happen.  I had expected to wait, and wait, and wait, and receive a call from our agency that we had been matched with a child.  To sit with Philip and devour the information about our new baby.  To call everyone we knew to share the news.  To post on Facebook and my blog that we now had another baby in the family.  This experience was just different.  The months spent praying and contemplating without sharing with those we love were agonizing.  Even once we had decided to adopt her, we were told to not broadcast the news until we had received our official referral.

I would have panic moments about what we had gotten ourselves into.  It wasn't doubt about our decision, but worry about what life would be like.  I listened to Jenny and Tyler's song, "When Darkness Falls," on repeat.

When darkness falls at evening time 
And all the world is still 
My heart feels restless, oh my God 
It longs to be filled  

Oh Father rescue me from doubt 
Deliver me from grief 
Let your joy in me abound 
Remove my unbelief, remove my unbelief  

I hear the wind rush through the trees 
A peaceful whistling sound 
But still my soul is not at ease 
And sleep cannot be found  

You are stillness, you are quiet 
You are comfort and peace 

It had been a long road.  We now knew where it would end, and the destination was a beautiful little girl with curly hair, a huge smile, and CP.  It was the road God had chosen for us, even if it took us awhile to find the map.
"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work." II Corinthians 9:8

Monday, July 30, 2012

New Bows

Well, our trip to Colombia is coming up soon!  With it come many expenses.  We have been so blessed through our fundraising efforts so far.  I am still selling these bows:

I have also just begun making these adorable princess clippies.  They are on lined alligator clips.  If you would like a certain character that you don't see, e-mail me and I'll see what I can do.

All clippies are $4.  If you're local, I'll be glad to meet you with them.  Otherwise, shipping is $3 per order.  These make great gifts for little girls!

E-mail me at julieryle at gmail dot com to order.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Journey to Luisa (Part II)

If you missed Part I, read it here.

During the months spent making the decision whether or not we could parent a child with special needs, we sought out a lot of advice.  It is amazing to see how God placed people in our lives to fill unique roles in this process.

My oldest brother just happens to be married to a pediatrician.  We called her first.  She is pretty wonderful about giving objective, doctorly advice and mingling it with just the right amount of godly wisdom and sisterly love.  And she's good at keeping a secret.

Philip's brother just happens to be married to a Colombian, who just happens to be a nurse.  {He actually met her after we were well into the Colombian adoption process.  I think it is so cool that our kids have a Colombian cousin, with hopefully more to come!}  We called her next.  She was able to interpret for us the technical, medical documents (written in Spanish) that we had been sent.  She was also fabulous enough to take the time to type up translations for these documents for us.

With these translated documents in hand, we contacted Dr. Charlie Law at UCP Birmingham.  He graciously reviewed Luisa's files and videos free of charge.  He invited us to his office one afternoon, after a long day of seeing his own patients, to answer all of the questions we could possibly think of.  He didn't sugar-coat his opinion, but offered us his view of her needs and prognosis.

Two families, each with a child with CP, were wonderful enough to be transparent with us about parenting children with this particular special need.  They opened up to us about the joys and struggles involved.  They shared about the endless line of therapists parading through their lives, the financial struggles that come with this territory, and the difficulty of making decisions about treatments and surgeries.  They also shared about the unique joy that parenting a child with special needs brings into your lives.

Several godly friends were there to just listen.  They didn't try to instruct us on what to do.  They let us talk it through.  They let us cry.  They listened.

All of these people gave us a lot to think about.  I could best describe my feelings during this time as consistently inconsistent.  Or maybe as invariantly variable.

continued here...

Friday, July 27, 2012

Summer 2012 Olympic Games!

I was never really into the Olympics. I rarely watched the competitions when I was growing up, and I certainly didn't get involved in the hooplah surrounding the competitors. Until Beijing 2008. On opening day, we became first-time parents.

I may have missed the celebrated opening ceremony that day (I was otherwise occupied), but I saw a LOT of the competitions in the weeks to come. The games were on through our entire stay in the hospital.
When we came home, the games kept me company. During all of those every-two-and-a-half-hours-around-the-clock feedings, I watched the competitions. I was so into it. In my sleep-deprived stupor, I thought that Michael Phelps was swimming in the middle of the night just for my entertainment.

After the games were over, I realized that there is usually very little on television at 1:00am. 

Tonight, we will be watching the opening ceremony with our soon-to-be 4 year old Caroline.  I probably won't be watching any competitions after 10:00pm.  But I will be thinking about that tiny little baby and the hours we spent bonding with the Olympics on in the background. 

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Another Forever Family on Their Way!

One thing I absolutely love about the adoption world is how it brings people of the same passion together.  I have met many great friends through our desire to care for the orphan.

One such family is headed TODAY to Colombia!  The Worleys' two boys are living in the same orphanage as Luisa (Chiquitines in Cali, Colombia).  Join me in praying for them as they go to get them this week!  You can follow along on their blog.  I am anxious to follow their journey, as we will be experiencing the same city, orphanage, and hotel not too long from now!

Chiquitines - feeding the babies

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Journey to Luisa

Our latest packet of documents are headed to USCIS.  We received the full official, translated referral for Luisa last Thursday!  Now our I-800 is on its way to begin the last leg of our process.  Our travel time is not yet certain, though we SHOULD {ha!} have this baby girl in our arms by the end of September.

Now I want to share more of the story of our being led to Luisa.  It is so neat to look back and see how God knit it all together.  {Warning: transparency ahead!}

We first laid our eyes on Caroline on August 8th, 2008, or, as I like to point out, on 08/08/08.  As a mathematician {read: nerd}, I loved the symmetry of her birth date.

Little did we know that on 11/11/11, we would first lay eyes on our second daughter.

We had begun the adoption process four and a half years prior to this monumental date.  Thus far, our adoption journey had taken many different paths.  We began down a path that appeared to be straight, just the "right" length, and had a bouncing baby at the end.  Our first child.

A short time into the process, the path veered toward Caroline.  Now we were three traveling toward a younger sibling for her.  That path was a little too smooth, so we decided to go for a but more strenuous of a hike toward TWO siblings for her.  Then, when we discovered that this path had been blocked for us, we jumped back over to our stroll through the adoption woods.  Just me, Philip, and Caroline, walking down an admittedly longer-than-expected path toward a family of four.

Then, on 11/11/11, BAM.  Out of nowhere.  Who put a sheer wall of rock in the middle of our path?

On that date, I opened a seemingly innocent e-mail from our agency.  It was sent to all Colombia families.  They were searching for a forever family for a special little girl.  She had curly hair, the most AMAZING smile, and cerebral palsy.

But wait, God, that's not the path we chose.
You never have led us toward children with special needs!
We can't handle this.
We don't even know what CP is.
What will our families think?
Surely we can't afford the medical bills.
We can't ask Caroline to make the sacrifices that would be necessary.
We can't handle this.
But we want to homeschool. Can I homeschool a child with special needs?
What about traveling? We'd never be able to go hiking again.
We can't handle this.
We have a two-story house.
Does CP involve mental delays?
We can't handle this.

The next several months were truly an emotional roller coaster for me.  We were so drawn to this little girl with the big grin.  We got more information from Luisa's doctors.  We consulted with doctors and therapists here.  Talked to our insurance agency.  Sought guidance from a few wise friends.  Cried a lot.  Prayed.  Researched.  Tried to not read WebMD.  Met with a CP specialist.  Spoke with other families that had children with CP.  Read some more.  Cried some more.  Prayed some more.

Finally, I realized that we CAN'T do this.

But God.

Of course.

He is able.  In fact, His strength is made perfect in our weakness.

And then we were able to see clearly.  All of our doubts were really just opportunities to glorify Him.

Do we want to be walking a path of our choosing, or of His?
We aren't being led to special needs adoption.  We are being led to Luisa.
He can handle this.
We live in the midst of a phenomenal medical community.
Our families are amazing.
He can handle this.
Philip has a great job with great insurance.  Also, our Father owns the world.
Caroline is an outrageously gentle and caring kid.  She will rock at being a big sis to a child with special needs. 
He can handle this.
We always said we'd choose homeschooling versus traditional school year by year, kid by kid.
Maybe we won't hike.  There is plenty else to see in the world.
He can handle this.
We'll carry her up these stairs.  Or get a new house.
She'll be our daughter.  Whatever challenges she may face, we'll love her without question.
He can handle this.

And so, on February 6, 2012, it was with great joy and a little trembling that we informed our case worker that we did indeed want to pursue the adoption of Luisa.  

I love that God chooses to illustrate to us heavenly relationships through earthly ones.  Earthly adoption is such a beautiful picture of our own adoption by the Father.  I am so thankful that He did not struggle with the choice to welcome me as His daughter that way I did with Luisa.  His list of reservations about me could have filled many blog posts.  

But God.  

Two of my favorite words.  

continued here...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


We've done quite a bit of waiting over the last five years.  There may have been mountains of paperwork to climb, but the majority of time was spent in the valleys of seemingly endless wait.

Currently, I am perched on a mound of paperwork, and the view from here is fantastic.

When we began this journey in March 2007, we were told by our then-agency to expect a two year wait.  Silly us, we believed them.  We were yet to be parents (we had planned for the adopted child{ren} to be our first), so it would have seemed more logical for us to choose a country with a faster program.  However, the wait actually sounded like a perfect time frame to us, since I was still in grad school.

Soon after we began, things in the Colombian adoption world slowed.  Actually, before we sent our dossier to Colombia, we knew that the wait had grown.  by the time we got our approval from Colombia and entered the then-to-be-believed three to four year wait, we were pregnant with Caroline.  What a blessing she has been.

Around Caroline's first birthday, we decided to adopt two.  
 A year later, we were told that siblings was an impossibility, and began dreaming again about our Colombian son or daughter.

More of the story to follow...

Monday, July 16, 2012

He sets the lonely in families

After five years, four months, and thirteen days of waiting, we are beyond thrilled to announce that we have an official referral for a beautiful daughter, Luisa.

Only God could have written the story of our family the past five years.  My prayer is that He be glorified through it.

I will be sharing more of the story in the days to come.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Celebrating the 4th

We celebrated Independence Day at the lake this summer.  It was a wonderful few days full of swimming, BBQ, and relaxation.  {And quite a few games of Skip-Bo.} 

Caroline is getting very brave in her swimming.  She's been swimming at the pool some this summer without her floaties, and now she is venturing with this new skill in the lake.  She was even jumping off the pier and swimming to the ladder without her floaties.  She loves swimming and tubing!

The highlight of this year's celebration was seeing the fireworks the city shoots over the lake.  Last year, we didn't want to keep Caroline up that late, so we missed out.  This year, we took the boat out, found a good spot with a view of the ball field from where they're shot, and dropped anchor.  It was so much fun being out there with all of the other boats and enjoying the show, even it was past a certain little one's bedtime.

Our fearless Captain

Mimi and Caroline (and Stripes)

Aunt Stephanie and Mamaw

Anchored and waiting...

...and waiting.

Show time!
{It is REALLY difficult to get a photo of fireworks when you are on a rocking boa, but there ya go.}

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Pensacola in June

Neither Philip nor I am really a beach person.  Maybe this is because we both grew up on the coast and are a bit disenchanted with the sand, salt water, and heat.  Maybe we would've been non-beach people no matter where we were raised.  Either way, we both prefer a mountain or a lake setting.  

However, it is truly fun to watch your kids enjoy the beach!!  And this little girl does enjoy it.  The sand and salt water do not bother her a bit.  She loves it all!  Swimming, building demolishing sand castles built for her, looking for shells, catching tiny sea creatures in her bucket... the possibilities for joyful moments are endless. 

 A weekend in P'cola with the fam usually involves some grilling out, which we always enjoy.  This time we all spent some time watching Philip grill and Caroline play in the baby pool (since, or course, the beach wasn't enough water play for one day).


We also squeezed in a trip to see Brave, the new Disney Pixar film.  Very cute; if you haven't seen it, I recommend it.  I wouldn't say it's my favorite Pixar film, but still definitely worth a poopcorn-filled visit to the theater. 
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