We are SO excited to have you become part of this exciting journey that we have been on. January 2010, we began our adoption process to Ethiopia. However, December 2011, 4 beautiful siblings from Ghana stole our hearts. The purpose of this blog is to encourage and inspire you to live courageously.
I have always been afraid of heights. My greatest fear is falling. But... I absolutely love scenic pictures of snow peaked mountains and can only imagine the breathtaking view. However, mountain climbing was never on my"to do list."
After a LONG and FRUSTRATING week... Sol and I came to accept the reality that God has given us our own "Mount Everest" to climb...
Last week, I mentioned the small baby step "I thought" we had made with her. She approached me with the first sign of "genuine"affection and told me how much she loved me. After a few days, her behavior spiraled down (again), she wanted to leave and decided to stop calling us her mom and dad.
I can't tell you how many dark valleys we have gone through with her since she arrived home.
Our own logic tell us why she is pulling and pushing away...
but our heart is worn and we are exhausted.
Loving her must be a daily choice...whether she pushes or pulls, we have a lifelong commitment to her. Besides God, we are her only hope and yet this doesn't mean we have to accept her choices of chronic lying, stealing and manipulation. Unfortunately, these are behaviors that she has learned in order to survive.
We have tried every "attachment book method.." and the only resources that daily save us from falling are the Bible and praying. Our Creator has formed and created each one of our children so uniquely.
Only HE can see the beauty that is hidden within our daughter.
Unfortunately, right now... we struggle to see it.
We are still climbing... and have a long ways to go.
Everyday, we have to equip ourselves thoroughly by
an abundance of patience...
an overflow of God's love...
plenty of wisdom and discernment
and eyes to see past all of her fear, pain and grief.
I have come to a place where I have stopped asking for answers.
All I really need is...
the confidence to know that when this "mountain" seems nearly impossible to climb... we will eventually get to the top and be able to see the incredible view of all the valleys and hills that we survived through climbing our Mount Everest.
It all started last Thanksgiving 2011... I stumbled upon these beautiful faces that were posted on our agency's waiting child list.
I can still recall the feeling of being overwhelmed when I heard God tell me that "these were OUR children!" A week later on Tuesday, November 26, 2011... Sol and I said "yes." We made the phone call to our agency to begin the mounds of paperwork and well... the rest is history.
Our children have now been home for nearly 10 weeks and yet it feels like they have been with us forever. Blending our family together has been one of the most difficult things Sol and I have ever experienced together and yet even on a day that is full of meltdowns, defiance and manipulation... it is still beautiful.
All 6 of our children have literally thrown all of their struggles, pain and grief at our faces with hopes and expectations of "please help and heal me..." It is exhausting, overwhelming and yet in the depths of our hearts... we know we wouldn't want to be anywhere else or do anything else. We pray and we hope that God's healing, powerful and unconditional love would penetrate through us and pour out to our children.
If I went down the list of challenges we have faced with each child, I think I could literally scare a family out of adoption. Then again, I'm not the type of person to paint a "perfect" picture of adoption. Adoption is exceptionally hard. Adopting a sibling set of 4... well, I'm sure you can fill in the blank. We get enough public stares and smiles a day for us to know that we aren't the "normal" family. BUT in spite of all the obstacles we have faced... I will ALWAYS believe in adoption. EVERY child DESERVES to be loved and fought for. Through our love for them.... they WILL heal. Even though sometimes it feels like we take one step forward and 10 steps back... I still believe there is at least 1 oz. of love poured into and received in their beautiful broken and wounded hearts...everyday.
After fighting a 2 month battle with our 7 year old daughter who doesn't understand the meaning of love and did everything to reject our love... she finally told me yesterday "how much she loves her mommy..." - She poured love back into my weary and exhausted soul. Words cannot even begin to express how much those words meant to me. We have wondered if she would ever express any emotion of connecting with us... but she is... it gives us hope and we can only continue to live in hope that God will heal her and continue to show her how much we love her.
One of the greatest challenges we face EVERYDAY is homeschooling 4 and entertaining our other 2. Unfortunately, we were told by their previous school in Ghana that all of our kids were academically at their appropriate grade levels and received perfect grades. To our surprise, our 10 year old is barely at 2nd grade level and our 7 year old is between K-1st grade. It has been a rough road for all of us. In the beginning, they displayed a tremendous amount of defiance towards learning and would cheat their way through their schoolwork. It was an ongoing battle. Their street smarts were nearly overtaking us. On top of that, we have a 2 year old who has the street smarts of a 13 year old, with an attitude of a 50 year old. She will do anything within her cute little self to manipulate all 5 of her siblings and her parents to get what she wants. Fortunately, we have learned to outsmart her. One day, she will make a great dictator or politician.
To keep this ship from sinking, we always have to be a few steps ahead of her and the rest of our children.
Needless to say...there is never a dull moment.
In spite of all the crying and meltdowns, the sound of laughter always rings louder from our house. All 6 of our kids are learning and growing to love each other and accept the new boundaries from Sol and I. As we love our kids with very defined boundaries, our home continues to provide for them an extremely safe and secure environment.
Tomorrow provides me its challenges... but it also gives me the joy of watching all 6 of my beautiful blessings learn from their weaknesses and grow in their strengths.
I can hardly believe I am actually sitting down and have time to make this announcement... but 3 weeks ago we became a family of 8! Yes...our 4 beautiful Ghanaian children are home!! The US embassy found incredible favor on our family and granted our children their I-600s and visas in an expedited manner. THANK YOU ALL for your prayers, words of encouragement and support for our family. We have felt every single one of your prayers and wouldn't have had the strength to walk this journey without them.
The adjustment from 2 children to 6 has been quite an adventure and we daily celebrate each milestone of growth. We are discovering each one of their strengths and weaknesses and they are learning to trust and accept our love for them. It has been one wild ride for our family. The refining process has been humbling and brought us to an utter dependance on God. But we are SO grateful and SO blessed for all that He has done for us and how HE has brought and blended our family of 8 together. Please continue to pray for our family as we begin a new chapter of our life.
" Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess,
102 years ago, my sweet Grandma came into this world and never failed to bless every person that crossed her path. This morning, she went to be with Jesus. She was escorted into heaven with beautiful singing from all of her children. Through my tears, I realized that there is nothing more beautiful than celebrating her and the legacy that she left behind for her entire family. She was widowed young and yet still managed to send all 7 of her children to college. Her love and kindness towards people was a gift. Grandma was determined to live a life that was devoted and committed to God, her family and others. I want to follow after her example. She was a woman that lived joyfully, never complained and was always the first to consider others before herself.
I wish she would have been able to meet her 4 great grandchildren from Ghana, but I know she would be proud that during her last days on the hospital bed, our children's I-600s and visas were approved!!
Our children are FINALLY coming home!!
The past few weeks have been an emotional roller coaster for our family. From receiving the dreaded news of Grandma's massive stroke to celebrating our I-600 approvals and visas. Nothing could be more emotional than grieving a loss of a loved one and celebrating the birth of 4 children. As sad and excited as I am, my head hurts just trying to make sense of it all.
At the end of the day, all I can say is "God is good." Grandma is with Jesus now, rejoicing and celebrating on our behalf. As much as I miss her tremendously, I know she wouldn't want me to cry too much. Like her, she would want me to live joyfully and love well.
We are thrilled that our children will finally be coming home. Although some may say the adoption journey just begins when your children come home.... I tend to differ. Ours began already. We have finally finished off one rough and challenging chapter and we are now embracing a new chapter in our adoption journey.
"For you turned my griefs into joy; you took off my sackcloth and you clothed me
I have finally allowed myself to catch up on emails, journal and actually complete a thought... let alone...just cry.
Crying is good...tears are healing. It's good to finally FEEL again. Throughout the past couple of months, Sol and I have had no choice but to be strong.... as a result, we are exhausted. Now God has graciously given us some time to heal, rest and reflect.
Recently, my reflection has been centered around the question/comment I have received from several peers as to "Why were we so naive in bringing our current children with us to Ghana?" I finally felt the necessity to speak up and answer this potentially offensive but curious question... because I think it would be speaking on behalf of our children too.
So to start off... we have NO regrets towards bringing Ethan and Isaac with us to Ghana. We would NEVER chose to place our children in any type of dangerous and harmful circumstance! Our hearts continue to ache as we watch and listen to our children daily process their fears and frustration. But the truth is... we made a choice as a family to adopt. It wasn't just Sol and I. At a high cost, Ethan and Isaac have chosen to be part of this journey with us. When we invited them to join us, we didn't paint a perfect picture.... we gave them the real thing and told them how hard it was going to be. Of course they immediately accepted because in their minds they could only imagine the fun of having more siblings! It just showed us that God had already been working in their hearts.
We felt a strong conviction in bringing Ethan and Isaac with us to Ghana to meet their siblings for the first time. We wanted them to see, smell and taste Ghana to help them understand their siblings' culture and life.
It was priceless and the memories made are so precious.
The first day we met our children at their home, we were warmly embraced by neighborhood friends and extended family. Our oldest boys took Ethan and Isaac by the hands and ran off to chase lizards. There was something SO beautiful about that picture.... It was if they had all been waiting for this moment.
From the second we stepped foot on the beautiful red dirt of Ghana, we never heard a single complaint from any one of our children.... Not even during the long, hot and dusty drive in a taxi to an orphanage to deliver soccer balls/jerseys OR walking blindly in the dark after a crazy thunderstorm through thick mud to meet and pray for a lady that was very ill OR even waiting 6 hours for our court hearing without an iphone or ipad to entertain them. Mind you.. - we were speechless. These are Southern California children I'm talking about! They had every reason to complain. But they chose not to.... BECAUSE I think they saw something far more precious and valuable. (God gave them a different pair of glasses)
When we arrived at one of the orphanages we planned to visit, all 6 of our children immediately gave hugs and high 5s to every single child. Although a storm hit us pretty hard while we were there, our older boys managed to pump all of the soccer balls in the dark. They weren't afraid of engaging in the messes and being a part of this moment.
God was doing something so beautiful in each one of their hearts.... something so personal.... Just between them and Him. It wasn't anything Sol and I could even try to teach or show them.
You may think I'm biased towards my children... perhaps I am, but really... I was shocked at how Ethan and Isaac embraced the Ghanaian culture and life... let alone allowing themselves to love and have compassion on the less fortunate. We were SO amazed at how all 6 of our children completely blended together the first night we became a family of 8. There was no separation or difference.
None of us would have been able to experience these sweet moments if we chose not to bring Ethan and Isaac with us. It would have still been beautiful... but not complete.
The trauma that we experienced will never be erased from our memory, but the beautiful memories that came before and after continues to bring a smile to our children.
Our prayer for all 6 of them is that in spite of hardship and suffering, God would give them the courage to persevere and not live in fear.
Our prayer for ourselves as parents is that God would continuously give us wisdom to equip, teach and guide our children.
He has a specific journey chosen for each one of them. He loves and cares for them more than we could ever. Sol and I have been shaped through alot of hardship in our own lives. Over the years, we have learned to step back and just let God take over.
We make the choice everyday to look ahead and walk courageously... even when we don't have the answers. I know our journey has raised many eyebrows and rubbed people the wrong way... but we are okay with it because we have full confidence that we have always been exactly where we should be - in God's hands.
Our 4 year old son, Isaac was asked to draw a picture to express his thoughts towards everything that took place the night we were detained. Sol and I remember watching how quickly his careful and detailed drawing suddenly became crazy red scribbles all over the paper. He tried to make sense of everything...but it was all chaos to him.
I never fail to compliment my children's artwork, but this time I had nothing to say. My heart sank as I felt the frustration and confusion that our 4 year old son and the rest of our children were trying so hard to define.
As the days passed by and our children began to display more anger and insecurities, it became harder to maintain the positive outlook and hold on to the peace that God had given us. It was heart breaking enough to say our good-byes and squeeze all the love we could into our 4 adopted children let alone leave them to deal with all the abuse and pain they had experienced. We were left to believe that God would bring healing and comfort to each one during our time apart.
18 hours later when our plane finally landed at the LAX airport, Ethan and Isaac finally breathed a sigh of relief. All they could think of was their buddies, legoes and the security of being in their own home. We welcomed ourselves home, stepped off the airplane and trekked down to the baggage claim. Unfortunately, the US Immigration stopped us and we were taken to a small seated area to wait. We were EXHAUSTED and not ready to be questioned again.
Even though there wasn't a problem with our passports, Sol was bullied and mistreated by a few of the immigration officers. Halfway through, I closed my eyes as it hurt too much to watch my husband, a US citizen himself, be ill treated by US immigration officers. Once again, we were ALL traumatized and fearful of what they were going to do with us. Ethan and Isaac were shaking with fear and worried that their parents would be taken away... again. Sol felt betrayed. Betrayed by our own people that we thought would be the ones to welcome us home. I felt helpless because this time I couldn't fight for my husband. Instead, I had to sit there quietly at the mercy of the other officers. We tried to explain to them that the Ghana Police never placed any charges on us and the media had it all wrong...we were never arrested at the airport in Accra.
With a couple cuts and bruises on Sol's leg, 2 traumatized children and all of our luggage, we were finally released to go. I don't know how we made it home... but we did... and when we finally entered into our home, we were warmly welcomed with flowers and a welcome home banner from friends and family. There was nothing more comforting and assuring than to know how much we were loved and supported. In that moment... I was reminded again that God's presence had not left us. He was still there. Nothing made sense that night....I put my head to my pillow and pleaded with God to shower His healing on our family and bring an end to this chaos. We had experienced enough.
The next morning, God gave me comfort through Psalm 27 and reminded me that He is the One who is fighting this battle for us. I'll admit, finding peace and remaining in His peace is very difficult these days... but every morning we wake up, God never fails to show up and remind us that He is still in control and we are on the right path.
"The Lord is my light and my salvation — whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?
When the wicked advance against me to devourme, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.
One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.
I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord."
It still amazes me how quickly news can spread like wildfire. It's been humbling to experience so much love and support from thousands of people worldwide.
A million thank you's to all of you!!
I have been hesitant to post an update due to the fact that there isn't much of one. But since we have been receiving comments from a rumor that was posted on another blog stating that "All 8 of us are home," I thought I should clarify that "All 8 of us are NOT home!"
We are still waiting for our investigation/I-600 and visas to be processed.
PLEASE continue to pray!!!
For Ghana adoptions, it is normal procedure to take 2 trips. The US embassy is allowed up to 60+ days from the date of 1-600 filing to process visas. We filed on June 20th. Due to our circumstances, we are thankful that our agency has requested that our children's visas be expedited.
As we have found time to reflect on the nightmare that we experienced, we realize that even though none of this made sense, more good than harm came out of it. It is evident God has never left our side.
For waiting adoptive families, I pray that as you have journeyed with us you will not let doubt and fear creep into your own adoption journeys. With any adoption comes a great cost but we all have to remain strong and believe that through whatever obstacle or heartache, God never fails to equip each one of us with His supernatural strength. We are all in this together!!
As we wait, would you continue to pray for the remaining part of our process to be expedited and that all 8 of us would remain physically and emotionally strong.
Two days ago, I decided to shut down my blog to avoid being bombarded by the media who has inaccurately told our story. I figure that after 24 hours, our news is history and will soon be forgotten. I am truly thankful for that because this adoption story was never intended to be about us but only a picture of GOD's incredible love for us.
Thankfully, their version of our story doesn't affect or change who we are and the validity of our adoption. It won't prevent me from finding my voice and speaking up.
Whether or not I am taken seriously, I am speaking up for children that deserve our love and commitment.
Honestly, I don't have any regrets as to how we handled our traumatic situation. I am proud and surprised at the amount of strength and courage all 8 of us had to push through. In the midst of all the uncertainties and discomfort, we were well loved and cared for by Ghanaian friends and other Americans in Ghana. The assurance of prayers for us from around the world became our hope and our comfort.
We were however disappointed that there were others who took advantage of our situation and tried to blackmail us for the their own fame and for money.
Do I have anger and resentment towards those that falsely accused us for child trafficking at the expense of emotionally traumatiziing all 6 of our children?
We didn't deserve to be treated the way we were.
I admit it was hard to forgive the officer that interrogated us and detained us for no reason.... but we have chosen to because we understand that child trafficking IS real and to some extent he had every reason in his power and limited understanding to be suspicious of us only because of the several trafficking cases that have gone under the radar.
I get it.
My hope is that all this happened only to show the Ghana CID our genuine commitment and love not only towards our adopted children but also to the many other orphaned children in Ghana.
And at the end of the day...I think they saw a glimpse of it. We were released under the care of 2 amazing Ghanaian officers who asked for forgiveness for the way our case was handled and eventually shared their contact information with us in hope of visiting all 8 of us in America one day.
I remember sitting in the dentention cell wondering "how much longer?" and asking God all the "whys" when it dawned on me....EVERY child is worth fighting for even at the expense of being detained for false accusations.
Even our eldest adopted son told us that he knew we were going to fight for him and his siblings.
He had no doubt.
It was and still is worth fighting for. EVERY CHILD deserves to be loved and given a chance.
Prior to our separation, I reminded our children of the sacrifice that Jesus paid by dying on the cross for our sins. He was an innocent man yet falsely accused and humiliated. He didn't deserve any punishment and yet He chose to do it because of His incredible love for us. The unnecessary punishment we (the Moghadam family) were given was nothing in comparison to what Jesus has done for us. That was the only comfort I could give to our children and ourselves.
At the end of the day, we are accountable to God. I can leave it ALL at Jesus' feet and just walk away. It doesn't take away the emotional scars from this traumatic incident but I am left with a greater love and compassion for the officers that work in the Ghana CID, the hundreds of inmates that we met in the dentention center and the several orphans at the orphanages we visited.
God can still be glorified in all of this. He has brought many beautiful people and ministering angels along our path. We are truly thankful.
Words are not enough to express how grateful to all of you that have been praying and taking action on our behalf. We are emotionally exhausted and traumatized from the entire incident but we are thankful to have support and prayers from friends and family worldwide. Our case is not complete yet but our chief officer from the Ghana police department has apologized for their overreaction and stated that our detainment was a mistake on their part. Although we have many pending circumstances before uniting our family, we have complete trust in God that He will provide a way out and heal our family from this traumatic situation. We are SO thankful to our dear friends here, our adoption agency and to all of you that reported our case to the State department and the US embassy. Action is being taken place and we are praying for God's justice and mercy to reign.
During our detainment, a pastor was able to share his Bible with Sol. Sol opened the Bible right to Psalm 31. That night on the floors of the detention center, the Lord gave comfort to Sol through this scripture.
" In you, Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame, deliver me in your righteousness...
(4) Free me from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge.
(8) You have not handed me over the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place.
(21) Praise be to the Lord for he showed me his wonderful love to me when I was in a besieged city.
(24) Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord."
We FINALLY got the date... June 14th!! We leave for Ghana in less than 3 weeks!!! It's been over 24 hours and I still feel like my head is spinning and my feet have yet to touch the ground. Sol is still in shock... a very HAPPY shock.
The moment has finally come!!
I'm speechless... Would you mind taking a moment to rejoice with us?
It has been one long journey of waiting, hoping and trusting. Lessons of listening to God's voice and obeying it even when it didn't make sense has grown our faith in so many ways.... and yet we are still learning to trust HIM every step of the way. I can't even begin to thank HIM enough for all the prayers He has answered so far. HE didn't have to answer so specifically and go above and beyond for us, but HE did. HE did it because HE loves us and HE cares for these children.
One of my dear friends cried with me over the phone yesterday and told me it was as if we found out we were pregnant with quadruplets. Quadruplets that we have been praying and waiting for. I can't explain the feeling, but I can tell you that just as pregnancy stretches a mother's belly to provide space for the growing baby, our hearts have stretched far more than enough to love and embrace these children whom we have never met.
We are truly grateful and EXCITED for the upcoming journey that's ahead! There is ALOT that needs to get done within these next few weeks, so PLEASE continue to pray for our family.
1. Pray for visas to be processed quickly 2. Pray for our children as they receive this good news 3. Pray for God's continual provision for all that we need to do to prepare for our trip; One of our hopes is that we can also bring meaningful gifts for each child in our children's neighborhood. 4. Although we have not met our fundraising goal, we believe God will provide for us every step of the way. Please continue to join us in praying that He would provide enough funds for us during this first trip to Ghana. 5. Pray for all of us to stay healthy!!
There is not a moment of my day where I am not thinking of our children in Ghana...
As I tuck in our boys to bed at night, I wonder and pray for them as they will soon wake up to begin their day of school.
As I clean our dinner dishes and pack up leftovers and lunches for the next day, I wonder if their tummies are full and whether they had enough to eat that day.
As I throw in each dirty load of laundry in our front load high efficiency washing machine, I think about their caretakers and our children hand washing their laundry in buckets of dirty well water.
My heart is torn...
I received more pictures today and a sweet video of our children. Today was one of those days where I didn't think I could wait one day longer. We have been waiting exactly 1 month for our court date. Our agency has informed us that our wait for a court date could take from 1 month up to 6 months.
I know that I have no choice but to rest in the presence of God with the assurance that His hand is on our children. Whether they have enough food to eat and water to drink, I have to believe that He is providing for their needs. Even though all 6 children aren't under one roof yet, this mama's heart never stops thinking about each one of them!!
So... I am asking you to pray for a miracle.(For those of you that know me, it isn't easy to put myself out there like this... but I figure it never hurts to invite more people to pray!)
We are asking those around us to pray that we miraculously get a court date by June.Whether God chooses to answer the way we want, we feel that He has asked us topray boldly.(This seems to be a reoccuring theme throughout our adoption journey.) We believe we can never ask too much from God. He has never failed to answer us and we trust He will provide the perfect answers at the right time. Our 4 children and their caretakers have been praying and waiting for answers. There are so many other people involved in our adoption process just waiting for God to answer.
Will you join all of us in prayer?
Pray for God's favor on our court date and that it will happen in June.
Pray for our papers to be transferred from the bottom of the pile to the top of the pile.
Pray that all of us involved will be able to witness God's hand move in ways that we could have never imagined.
I still have a blog post dated, April 28, 2010 that was never published because I had a difficult time completing my thoughts. We were only 3 months into our adoption process and were overwhelmed with a couple obstacles that would potentially slow down our process by several months. I remember sitting at my laptop wondering what God's purpose was in all of this and can still recall myself wondering if our child had been born yet, if our birth mother was pregnant or going into labor.
And now I have decided to publish that broken and unfinished post from 2 years ago because little did we know that on that "same day"our youngest daugher would be born. Today, 2 years later we celebrate her 2nd birthday
The title of my post was: Joyfully Persevering
"It's been a while since I've sat down to write. I think part of the reason is because we've been hit by some pretty challenging obstacles across the way. It was tempting to go around the obstacles or give up, but Sol and I chose to go through them, tackle them one at a time and trust that this is the journey that God has for us.
"Perseverance: continued steady belief or efforts, withstanding discouragement or difficulty; persistence."
I love one of Robert Frost's quotes: " The best way out is always through."
Psalm 27:13,14 "I am still confident of this; I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart. Wait for the Lord."
James 1:4 "Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
Once again I am blown away... God was there in the midst of our birth mother's labor and the birth of this beautiful baby girl. He had/has incredible plans for each one of us that I don't think I will ever be able to piece together. And yet...it's okay - I don't need to understand. I am thankful that we did persevere and didn't give up. Although we aren't at the finish line yet, I am so grateful that we chose the way through and not the way out.
To our sweet 2 year old princess,
You are a miracle and beautiful gift to us and all those around you that have loved you and cared for you. God has chosen you and brought you into this world and has incredible plans for you.
Everyday I look at your picture I see a sparkle in your eyes and I am reminded of
His faithfulness and goodness in your life.
I wish I could give you a TIGHT squeeze and LOTS of kisses.
We can't wait for you to become part of our family and
yet we know that God's timing is the best.
May you always remember how precious you are and so loved by many.
Here is a verse God has given for me to pray over you:
" The Lord your God is with you. He is mighty enough to save you. He will take great delight in you. The quietness of his love will calm you down. He will sing with joy because of you."
13 years ago, March 15th,1999 Sol and I began our courtship. 13 years ago around April 24th, 1999 our eldest son in Ghana was born....
Last night, I fumbled through my boxes of journals and managed to find my beat up journal from 1999. Without even dusting off the cover, I skimmed through to find April 21st's entry. My journal entry for that date was a reflection from an intense conversation Sol and I had about missions, ministry and orphans. It was filled with hope and excitement for what God had in store for us and the dreams and visions we shared together. Little did we know that around the same time across the other side of the ocean in West Africa, a precious mother was about to give birth to her son. Of course there must have been hundreds, thousands of miraculous births on that day... but this particular birth was part of our "future story" that Sol and I had no idea about.
I wish I had all the pieces of this birth mom's story, her pregnancy, her labor and what it was like to give life to this beautiful baby boy. What I really long for is to share a cup of tea with her and just listen to her story. I want to let her know that I value her and admire her courage and strength.
13 years have passed by and this beautiful baby boy is now entering his teenage years.
Emotions that I cannot even explain.
How I wish I could go for a long walk with him, hear his story and assure him that we love him and will always be by his side. Although we weren't a part of the first 13 years of his life, we may have many years ahead to celebrate together.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Ɔbabarima (Son)!!
13 years ago, you were brought into this world and
given the precious gift of life.
It is evident that God has faithfully taken care of you until now.
Although your journey carries its own pain that nobody may ever understand as well as blessings that only you could see, He has kept His promises and has never left you or abandoned you. You have been loved and cared for by many people even those that haven't met you.
"May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you."Numbers 6:25
As you enter into a new season of your teenage years, we pray that He would raise you up to be a courageous young man.
Joshua 1:9 is a verse that God has given me to give to you:
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
We have ACTUALLY received our I-171h (our I-600a approval) within less than a week!(The I-171H is basically a document issued from Homeland Security allowing us to
bring an overseas orphan into the US. )
We can finally take a long BREATH from paperwork!
I was informed that it would take at least 4 weeks to receive our approval from the USCIS. So I had this conversation between myself and God where I told Him that it would mean SO much to me if we got our approval before Easter. I honestly didn't think it would happen, but Easter has always been such a significant time of the year for me. It's not "magical" but it's very real and personal. God graciously reminds me of His incredible resurrection Power and this beautiful gift of redemption that He has given me. He never ceases to amaze me with the ways in which He answers.
Yesterday I took a deep breath before opening our mailbox.... and there it was on top of our stack of junk mail. "Department of Homeland Security." I let out a sigh of joy, cried my eyes out and ran to the house. I held back extra tears and waved the precious piece of mail to Sol and the boys.
" It's HERE!!!"
I trembled with excitement and had to celebrate yet another hurdle. I breathed in every bit of thankfulness.
God, you are SO good.
So... now what?
Now we wait for our court date. The second to the last push of our adoption pregnancy.
Although we don't have anymore paperwork for a while, we now have to begin preparing for our first trip. We will have to make 2 trips to Ghana. The first trip will be our court date where we will receive our final adoption decree and meet our children for the first time. The second visit will happen after Embassy clearance when we will bring our children home with us.
The wait is not over..... but we are so thankful for all that God has done and brought us through so far. There is still so much ahead of us and so many unknowns, but every answer that we receive continues to affirm that we are on the right track.
Our prayer for our children in Ghana is that this Easter weekend they will experience God's amazing resurrection power and be reminded of how much they are loved. We pray for continual healing in their hearts and that God would knit all 8 of our hearts together even while we are apart.
About a month ago, Adopt Together asked us if they could film our story. The purpose of this film is to allow others to come alongside us and support us through Adopt Together as we wait to bring our 4 children home.
Please continue to pray for our family from here to Ghana.
I don't think I have ever been so anxious about having my fingerprints done. My anxiety began 2 years ago. It started out with getting our criminal clearance for the initial part of our application process. After the 4th time of receiving my results that said "failed, poor ridges," and spending over a couple hundred dollars. I began to build a "phobia" of getting fingerprinted. This was only the beginning.... - there was more criminal clearance for the 2nd part of our application process ( 4 more times trying and ending up with a written notice)... and finally the USCIS appointment for our orphan petition. Sigh.... - long story short... it all turned out but I was SO fearful of my fingerprints being REJECTED! So... this time for our I-600A (orphan petition) fingerprinting renewal, I did my homework. I did everything I could to prevent my fingers from getting too dry. I asked for as many suggestions as possible and after trying some of them, I decided the Gold Bond Ultimate did the best job.
Fortunately, we received an appointment with the USCIS rather quickly, but it didn't give me much time to prepare. I lathered lotion everytime my hands were washed. If you have young boys, you can relate.... from handling dirty laundry, to wiping down toilet seats, around and behind toilet bowls to washing hundreds of used cups and dirty dishes.... my hands are constantly being washed. Thus the dry hands. This morning was our appointment and guess what - I PASSED! Ah... the joy of seeing a green light with the word PASS turn on the computer every time my finger was printed. No red REJECT button flashing for a redo or a failed attempt. My fingerprints were a success. In fact, the officer that helped me said she was amazed at how perfect my ridges were! THANK YOU GOD!
I took a moment to celebrate... one more hurdle behind us.
Now all we need is our I-171h form (our approval) and we are completely done on this side of the Atlantic Ocean... for now at least. Our dossier has been sitting in our adoption agency's office for the past couple months waiting for this I-171h form. Once we receive our approval form, all of our paperwork can be sent to Ghana and we can finally begin to wait for a court date.
I wonder when the waiting ever ends. Perhaps, I'm wrong, but I feel like most of the adoption process is waiting. It's a very unusual, abnormal process because we are waiting to become united with children in another part of the world whom we have never met or talked to. BUT...
Every bit of the waiting and the loneliness that comes with waiting is SO worth it.
As I was reflecting today on my fingerprinting phobia, I realized that God has created each one of us so uniquely. As the Creator, His fingerprints are all over us. I was humbled to be reminded that God as my Creator considers me beautiful and will never reject anyone of us. He has uniquely created our children from here to Africa. I have begun to see God's fingerprints on Ethan and Isaac and I cannot wait to see His fingerprints on our children in Africa. They are all beautifully and wonderfully made by Him.
Steven Curtis Chapman's song came to mind as I was leaving the USCIS office in Santa Ana. Part of his song really hit home to what I was processing through today as I was thinking about our children and my fingerprinting. My prayer is that they know and believe how beautiful and unique they are to God. In spite of the tremendous loss and pain they have gone through, He is not finished with them. He has an amazing hope and a future ahead of them. We are only a small part of it. I'm so humbled and thankful.
Fingerprints of God
by Steven Curtis Chapman
I can see the fingerprints of God
When I look at you
I can see the fingerprints of God
And I know it's true
You're a masterpiece
That all creation quietly applauds
And you're covered with the fingerprints of God
Never has there been and never again
Will there be another you
Fashioned by God's hand
And perfectly planned
To be just who you are
And what He's been creating
Since the first beat of your heart
Is a living breathing priceless work of art and...
Now we are adopting 4 African children? I love it! It's a beautiful picture of God blending cultures and ethnicities together.
After discovering myself as the onlyAAAFA mom (Asian-American Adopting From Africa) among hundreds of families within my various adoption groups, I began my intense google search. I searched for at least one Asian- American or perhaps a Chinese-Persian American couple adopting from Africa.... nothing.
I have searched for blogs, yahoo groups, online adoption forums.... nothing.
I know there are Asian families adopting from Africa... but to my dismay, my search produced 0 results.
I have to admit, after several days, weeks of doing my occasional google search, I was a bit discouraged. I know the answer, but I have asked myself many times: " When adopting, why do Asian-American families prefer to stay within their comfort of adopting children that have the same hair color and skin color as them?"
My apologies if I appear offensive for asking such a personal and bold question. I'm sure I might raise an eyebrow or two, but it's something I've been reflecting on. I believe adoption is a very personal calling and I don't take lightly the decision of "where" to adopt from. It's NOT an easy choice to make. But I admit, sometimes I have wished for another AAAFA mama that could walk this adventurous road with me.
From day 1 of meeting Sol, my parents had to accept the fact that I was going to break all cultural norms. Over the years, they have embraced our interracial marriage with all its uniqueness and have welcomed it as a beautiful gift. Now they have shown an even greater compassion and love for our children from Africa.
On the topic of our adoption, the questions arise... " How do your parents feel about your adoption? " " Do they have any problems with you adopting from Africa?" " Do you think they will be able to love your children just like their own biological grandchildren even though their skin color is different? "
I answer proudly: " They are SOexcited, they don't have ANY problems and yes, I have full confidence that they will love these children like their own biological grandchildren!"
I respond with so much pride because I am proud of my 1st generation Chinese parents. They are one in a million and a true example of God's limitless love.
Last Sunday, my father, a lay pastor, invited Sol and I to share our story during their Sunday service. If you know us well enough, we do not thrive off speaking behind a microphone. Thankfully, my father's church is a small homey church.
As we started to share our adoption journey, my heart welled up with so much joy. Here we were given an opportunity to share with Chinese believers who can't understand much English what the amazing love of Christ looks like. His love covers all cultures, all races and all colors of people all over the world. His love doesn't and shouldn't limit us.
The response from people was so heartwarming.
Sol and I want our story to be told in a way where the attention isn't directed at us. We are not rescuers, amazing or brave people. We are just vessels carrying out the blessings that have been given to us by our Amazing Creator, God and transferring them to the children that He has appointed for us to receive these blessings.
So now as I reflect back to my previous question of why there aren't many Asians adopting African children..
I have recently discovered that 90% of the financial support we have received so far has been generously given by the hearts of Chinese people worldwide.
I'll let you reflect on that for a minute...
Although I wish the world we lived in didn't have so many cultural barriers, I am SO grateful that we are among a few that have chosen to break our cultural barriers and have opened the door for others to join us.
I imagine, we will stick out like 2 sore thumbs once our children come home... - but it's okay,
I know God will look at us and smile.
Who knows, may be one day another AAAFA mom will find my blog from performing the same google search I did.
"The LORD is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens. "
3 weeks ago, we signed and notarized all of our acceptance paperwork. 8 Documents, 16 notarizations... another $160.
Wow.... it's actually happening!! We signed all of the paperwork stating that we accept the adoption order of these 4 children.
Whew - emotions.... ALL over the place.
A couple weeks ago we FINALLY received our homestudy update (3rd one and hopefully the last one!).
One less hurdle.
I came through our front door, waved the papers to Sol and dashed upstairs to whip out a cover letter for our I-600a and gather all of our documents together to send to the USCIS. Within 20 minutes, I was on my way to the post office mailing our I-600a form, 3 homestudies and our former I-171h form. As I was driving, Ethan (our 7 year old) commented on how we were JUST at the post office mailing adoption paperwork. His question to me was
" mommy, how come it takes so much work to adopt?"
I wish I had an answer.
I wonder the same thing sometimes - " WHAT'S TAKING SO LONG???"
But, it is what it is. It has been a long journey for our family. I have to remind myself that everyday is one day closer to bringing our children home from Ghana.
I have been praying that God would open the doors for us to get a court date by the end of April.... but that is a long shot now. It doesn't mean that I stop praying for a speedy process for us to get a court date. But it does mean that I need to stay focused on where He has us right now during this season of waiting and preparation.
Yesterday, a friend of ours sent us a short video clip of our 2 older Ghanian boys playing the drums. My mommy heart melted and the floodgates of tears opened. With every new picture I receive and the more I learn about our children, I feel my heart expanding and I also find myself fighting my emotions from being too attached to these beautiful children. All the "What ifs of our adoption not going the way we hope and plan" begin to takeover to the point where I can't take it anymore.
and then I PANIC....
lots of deep breaths
until He reminds me for the 100th+ time that...
HE IS IN CONTROL.
I can't take this into my own hands. Ultimately, we want what's best for any one of our children, biological and adopted. Half of the time, I'm not sure what's best. So I just mind as well stay focused and let God decide what's best.
I tend to spend more of my energy anticipating the unknowns and creating worst case scenarios that I lose perspective of all the blessings that He has already given us. Although there are still so many hurdles ahead of us, each hurdle we cross brings more hope to one step closer to bringing our children home.