My Map To Mamahood: Part III

Read Part One 

Read Part Two

…In October of 2014 we received a call from our social worker (this blessed lady had been on the whole journey with us from Russia to now and deserves a million crowns in heaven for it). She had been working with an agency in the Caribbean on a certain matter and because of the good rapport they developed; they began to ask her to send families over who they could consider for a little 3 year old boy. She wanted to know if she could send our file to be considered. I need to be honest here. I was snarky about it. “Sure, send our file. It’s not like anyone has ever wanted to give us a child. Whatever.”From what was explained to me, there is an adoption board on these islands that know the orphans personally. The board likes to meet and look at files of families and they hand pick them for children. I was so skeptical of this process. I had only seen Eastern European orphanages and processes and thus far, I had not experienced one that was not using these children as political pawns. I had not experienced a world where they cared enough to match these children to families they knew would be good for them. I was skeptical, but I wanted to see it too. I wanted to vet this.

Our social worker decided to submit our file; I then expected to hear nothing.

A few weeks later I was working a show (I am a Tour Manager for a few music artists) in Florida. I had done a presentation on Holt International (kiddos who need sponsors) and then proceeded to the merchandise table. This older lady came up to me and said she would be praying for us with our adoption. She grabbed my hand and said, “I just know that you are going to be a Mama… real soon.” In the split second that she said it, I was thinking that it was a nice sentiment and that many people have said this to me. However, when she said “Mama real soon,” my phone began to ring below the merchandise table. I could see that it was my social workers name lit up on the screen. Weird. Since I was talking to this older lady, I could not answer. Then I saw a text message pop up on the screen that said, “Call me ASAP.”

I called her back (mind you… this is like 9PM; an odd time for phone calls like this). She said, “I am just wondering how you feel about soccer balls, baseballs, and boy toys because… you are a Mama. They chose you.”

Sheer SHOCK.

Jared and I walked around in a daze of shock for a week. I don’t even think we talked about it because… WHAT JUST HAPPENED TO US???

We had been on this adoption journey, not necessarily for a certain type of child, but all the ones we had been brought to, thus far, were little girls about 7 or 8 years in age. But here is this little Caribbean boy who is 3…WHAT??? We had been told that when the adoption board picks you, that is it; they consider you his parents and will move you along to be able to come get him. Amazing.

We spoke with the agency soon after this. I told her point blank about my skepticism. I told her they would need to prove themselves to me. She thought I was joking at first; I was not.

They invited us to visit this little one for a week in November. We literally only had one week available the whole rest of the year so we booked our tickets and we flew to the island of Grenada, where little Aiden (that’s his cute name!) lives. I had no clue what we were stepping into, but I was willing to take another risk (heaven only knows why).

The first part of the week we went to his orphanage every day to spend an hour or so with him so he could warm up to us. He was a ball of cuteness. He has a laugh that will send you into happiness no matter your mood before and his smile completely lights up a room. I was stunned. These women who are caring for him are raising him to the best of their abilities and it is SO MUCH more than I have ever seen in any other orphanage. He needs parents, but he has received the next best thing at this children’s home and I cannot even tell you the amount of gratitude this fills me with.

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Little Aiden in his Homework Room at the orphanage

After three days with small visits, we were allowed to take him to stay with us at our hotel for the remainder of the week. He did very well with us although he did take a little bit to warm up to the idea of it just being the three of us. We played on the beach and went to restaurants and walked into town. He grew to love just being close to us. He really values time with just us three. You can tell he craves this type of family.Leaving was very difficult. We knew we had to come back for him. There was no doubt in our minds. We left Grenada knowing he was our little boy; and thus we began the process to change our paperwork to Grenada and try to get back to him as soon as possible.

My Map To Mamahood: Part II

Read Part One

… After we received the call the call that Anastasiya wasn’t on the plane, we decided to continue to Atlanta anyway. There may have been a small part of me that hoped she was a stow away in the luggage compartments and would come running out. However, our hearts were in Atlanta with all these kiddos flying in.I wanted to see it. I wanted to experience these little orphans coming to families who loved them and could give them a good summer home. I stood with the families while we waited and I just cried the whole time. (Imagine me, blubbering incessantly holding an American flag. It was beautiful. HA!) As I saw these little pale faces, possessing barely the clothes on their backs, coming towards us I just knew this is how Jesus feels when we come to Him. Jesus looks at us at our worst and in our most vulnerable states and He sees extreme beauty and His heart explodes in love. My heart exploded in pain, joy, and immense love all at once.

At the airport a lady approached us whose daughter was our age and was hosting that summer. She said, “I just want to encourage you that in just a matter of days, things can change.” She told us the story of how she was trying to adopt a baby 30 years ago and at the last minute the one she thought she was going to raise was taken back by the birth mother. Then a couple days later she got the call about the girl who is now her daughter. It was a beautiful story and I appreciated it, but I thought, “There is no way a few days changes everything for everyone.”

Three days later the hosting organization called us and said that the 7 year old little girl who they told us about in the beginning (but was hosted by the time we called back) now needed a new family. The family she was with had a family tragedy and could not complete the summer, so they wanted to know if we would like to take her since we no longer had a child to host. We thought about it for a few hours (which we didn’t really need to, but our hearts had been through the ringer) and realized that we had a bunch of stuff in our car that would probably fit her, so we might as well give it a try. I flew to Texas and met the other host mom at a hotel with the little 7 year old girl. Her name was Veronika (Ver-row-knee-ka). She was stunning. She was shy at first and she knew what was happening so she wasn’t really happy, but she quickly warmed up to me. We flew home to meet Jared and thus our lives totally changed.

My Map To Mamahood: Part I

In April 2014, I did some guest blogging for a fellow adoptive mama. The next three posts are the blogs I wrote to tell our whole story. This is a great way to get the full background of why I do what I do now. Enjoy!

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My husband (Jared) and I began our journey to adopt in August of 2012. We are a little different than a lot of adoption cases in that we have never tried to have biological children. We honestly were not even looking to grow our family yet, but it was clear on August 12, 2012 that God had other plans. We saw a picture of a little girl who needed a family and it struck a chord so deep, we have never been the same.

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The picture of Alina we first laid eyes on.

The picture we saw was of a little 8 year old girl named Alina. After much research we figured out she was in Russia and began the process to try and adopt her. In December of 2012, we were able to send off our complete dossier (the huge pile of paperwork required to adopt a child) to Russia and then we would wait for our first travel date to see Alina. We rushed through this because there were rumors that Russia was angry with the United States and would likely ban adoptions. We didn’t want Alina to be stuck in a political mess so we did all we could to get to her.

January 1st I awoke to realize our fears had come true. Russia had closed its doors to Americans trying to adopt children. For the next 5 months, I, along with 300 other families, were on endless amounts of conference calls and in multiple meetings with our government trying to see what could be done. We were, by far, not the worse case. Many families had visited their children a couple times and promised they were coming back. With this new change, those families would never make it back to their children. For us, we had peace of mind know that our adoption had not made it far enough to where Alina knew about us yet. Our heartbreak was our own. Alina was not crying over us and that gave me comfort.In the conference calls I was on, we were told Russia had stated that any of the children in their orphanages who it appeared an American had shown interest in were being moved to the front of the line. This meant they were being placed in homes where they were paying families to take these children so that no American could possibly have access to that orphan again. We knew we were in jeopardy of this happening because there had been much press coverage here in Nashville, TN over us as well in some other newspapers in Wisconsin. We had been told that Russia was monitoring all media, even local papers.The “nail in the coffin” email came for us in the spring when our agency let us know that Alina was placed in a home with a family. I read this email from our agency as I was climbing into bed one night. I began to wail so loudly my husband thought someone had died. He rushed to me and held me while I sobbed. He prayed over me and stroked my hair as I soaked his shirt.

I was immensely hurt and so happy at the same time. God had placed a longing in me for this child. I wanted so badly to be her mom. My emotions were all over the place. One moment I was so happy that she was no longer an orphan (because that was the goal right??) but then another moment my stomach was churning at the thought of a family being paid to take her. My prayer began to be that she was placed with an amazing family who can love her to the fullest extent. That is still my prayer today as Alina is now 10 years old.

Alina will always be the little girl who opened me up to the idea of being a mom. Until I saw her face, I never thought I would care to be a mother. Her blue/green eyes and her obnoxiously big white bows had me at first glance and I was forever changed.

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The last picture of Alina we ever received.

God had opened our eyes to one of the greatest needs in the world and it was clear that if we were to be parents at all, we were to start by being parents to a child who had no mother and no father.I began to research other countries and agencies. The process of researching was so depressing. I wasn’t trying to pick out a pair of shoes and I didn’t want to feel that I was. I stumbled upon some orphan hosting programs. I had never even heard of such a thing. Hosting an orphan? I inquired to two agencies about some children they had listed to come for a summer vacation. Each agency, after hearing our story, told me that they didn’t believe it would be good for us to host right now due to our loss. I was so confused. Lord, if you have called me to love on a child in need, why are you not allowing this to happen?I received a Facebook message from someone I did not know (one of her friends that I had spoken with at one hosting agency called her on our behalf). She said that she worked for a hosting agency and believed that they may have a little one that be great for us from Ukraine. I called her and she explained that their program had two little girls (not siblings) that needed a host family for the summer. One was 7 years old and one was 6 years old. Jared and I discussed it for 24 hours and by the time I called back, one the little 6 year old was available so we agreed to host her.

She was so tiny in her pictures. She looks like a porcelain doll that was about to break if she didn’t get some sunshine. Her name was Anastasiya (Ana-staas-see-a). I began all the preparations to make a room for her own, gathered some clothing that might fit her, and fill her room with things to play with. We packed the car for a four hour drive to Atlanta to pick her up. I had a booster seat, toys, and clothes all ready for her in the backseat. As we were on our way, we received a phone call that the plane was in the air, but Anastasiya was not on the plane. A family from Italy had shown up with a referral to adopt her and the orphanage director made her stay behind to see that family first. My heart fell down in my chest to the same place it had been a few months ago. Again? How is this happening again? While I was so sad for us (and I was heartbroken for Anastasiya because she had received a letter from us and cried when she was told she couldn’t go) I was delighted for that family who saw her little picture and said, “This one. We want to visit this little one.” Oh the joy they must have felt when they saw her sweet face. I would have been the highlight of my life to pick her little picture, visit her, and then be able to call her our own. That family was having that chance and even though I was disappointed again, I was elated for them. From all we know, she was adopted by that family and my prayer from that day on was that she got the family and the sunshine she longed for in Italy.

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The only little picture we have of Anastasiya.

I was still alive. I felt like I was limping along, but I was still alive. What was God doing? Was that not His voice I initially heard asking me to step out in faith and adopt a child?”Then I heard the voice of The Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here I am, send me!'” -Isaiah 6:8(NIV)For real Lord… I am saying send me!!!