Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Exactly one month ago today, our world was taken by surprise. I've wanted to share bits of this amazing story, but the story didn't have a clear path, thus, I didn't feel comfortable sharing or talking about it.

For those of you who listened to me cry tears of many different emotions, I'm forever grateful for your friendship and love. I think it's time to release it and share the amazing tale of how God tapped my shoulder and said, "I pick you for a very important job."

Before Dave and I started our home study, I researched and gave Dave the cliff notes, we researched every country you could think of to adopt from. Our first choice was America, and then pretty much every country in Africa, Asia and Europe. The government has a great page dedicated to international adoptions, and I soured it for facts.

When we stumbled across one little country, we couldn't stop researching it more and more. Not just for adoption, but for information. We were hungry to find out as much as we could about this amazing little world that we had never heard of that was so unique and different and amazing.

I inquired about adoption and got a nice response back that adoption wasn't a common practice, but we could put our names on a list if we'd like. If a baby every came up for adoption, they'd go off the list, but don't count on ever getting a call. So of course we didn't do that. But we were thrilled that someone actually acknowledged our email. How cool was it to think in this cute little country, we corresponded with someone. I never stopped looking at pictures of this country and even found myself finding their online news websites looking for a way to learn more about daily life there.

Then, our home study began and we struggled with choosing a country. If you're not in the international adoption world right now, you might not know just how many countries are closed for adoption. And how many of the countries that are open are only open for special needs children. We did loads of research (still researching every day) the different types of special needs that were commonly found trying to get a better idea of what we were comfortable with. We wanted to adopt a 3-4 year old, but we soon found out that in all likely hood, there were going to be big struggles with that too. This is all for another post, though....back on track. We picked S. Korea and went ahead with all that was needed.

April 27th was Wednesday, a day like any other Wednesday. Got the kids up for breakfast, kissed Dave goodbye and started out on my big job of gathering and mailing my i600a. I took a second to quick check my email before I headed out to make copies and mail the package and saw a name that looked familiar, but that I couldn't place.

Shocked, I read the email and it was from the contact I had made in this tiny little country that I fell in love with. A family was needed for a baby who had a special need. In the adoption world, it's considered a "minor correctable" need, but in reality, as "minor and correctable" as it is, it comes with a childhood of surgeries and doctor's guidance.

The email went out to 8 people in different countries. We were the only one who responded. The only people in the ENTIRE WORLD, besides the people directly responsible for the care of this child who knew about this baby girl needing a home. An honor and a huge responsibility.

We were in disbelief. We went to our Children's hospital - met with surgeons and nurses. We contacted our local doctor. We got the guidance of one of the most well known international adoption pediatricians for her guidance. We got our families thoughts and our social worker's thoughts. We talked, prayed, talked, researched, studied, prayed and talked some more.

The thing about international adoption is that many times if you get a "referral" of a child with a special need, if after you do your consulting you find that the need is greater than you can feel comfortable with and you decline, you can get a little comfort in knowing that the chances are good that someone else will look at the child's info and hopefully move forward.

That was not the case with this child. We were it. There was not someone who would look at her file after us if we declined.

So then I struggled with what God was doing with this. Was he saying, "Jen, Dave...this is your daughter!" or was he saying, "I know you have compassion and are someone who will move mountains to make this happen....GO! Find this little girl a family!!"

And I'll be honest, it was a really hard personal reflection time for me. If you know me at all, you'll know I have a heart for orphans around the world. I won't share this little girl's story, but let me tell you, it's heartbreaking. I know that my family could give her a future that she would not have in her "world", and the fact that I was struggling if I had the strength to walk her life with her was such a dark time. (Dark as in, struggling to shower. Struggling to get out of my sweat pants. My entire day that the kids were in school was taken up by this constant stream of research.)

Then, in this strange set of circumstances, I was introduced to this family who had adopted a little girl with this same "special need" less than a year ago. The mom walked with me down my path of self-reflection, research, doctors appointments and digesting. She didn't judge, she didn't make me feel bad for my feelings of uncertainty and she lifted me up. From the first second that we talked, there was this connection and sense of hope and peace.

Through a series of long thought and prayer and many tears on both of our ends, we gave this family the opportunity to consider this little girl as a new child in their family. They're living life with this need every day already and we couldn't help but note that adding a sister so close in age with the same need could make this whole special need easier for both girls. I'll be honest, during the time we were waiting for them to do their research and feel comfortable adopting from a place that is hardly considered a country people adopt from, I felt like I could hardly breath. Were they going to say yes? Or were WE going to be the ones who said yes? We were waiting in the background, ready to move forward if they didn't feel comfortable.

We waited for weeks, constantly in contact via emails and phone calls while they did their research and as of Monday morning, they wrote back with their commitment to adopt this little girl. They are moving forward and we are their biggest cheerleaders and will support them in any way we can.

And I won't lie and say that multiple times in the past 2 weeks while we waited we had moments of doubt, of fear and of peace. Mostly peace though. I realized that God was a part of ALL of this, and I could see it clearly being on the other end. God gave us the choice - and we could have done it! But God also placed this family, this amazing, wonderful family right in front of us. No choice would have been wrong! But the choice that was made, I do believe is the BEST choice for this little girl.

People, let me tell you how lucky she is going to be to be a part of this family. And to know that there is a woman in this little country who I have connected with, bonded with and saw this amazing thing through has really just ignited the hunger I have for this country.

Like, looking down on it all, I see that I have been a bridge, really, with this woman who emailed me a month ago. She saw beauty in the baby and a future if she could just find someone to help her. That someone was me. And when I look at the pictures of this sweet baby girl and imagine her in the arms of her new mother, I'm not one smidgen sad that she's not in my arms. It's ALL right and perfect and the way it is supposed to be.

This baby girl will have such an amazing life, and really, it's all because a woman cared and took a shot in the dark that someone would reply. God picked ME to reply. And I am honored at the role he gave me in all of this. Seriously honored.

So now I get to watch this family go and get this baby girl and I can't wait to see how it all unfolds. In my heart, I'll always have a little connection to her. (OK, OK, I still have tears...*wiping them away*) They could use your prayers, as could the baby and the baby's mother and family. Oh how they all could use your prayers. But, as I said above, God has been directing this all along. He's in this for the long haul.

I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!
Matthew 25:40

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The BABY'S room!!!

Our house has 4 bedrooms. When we moved into this house, I was SO excited to have an office of my own. It was my soap making room, my writing room and just a place for me to be. Problem was, I hardly ever used it.

It was too dangerous to be mixing lye and all that is involved in my opinion in a bedroom away from a sink. So, when it is soap making time, I'll pick out my butters and oils and bring them down to the kitchen.

When I write, I write wherever I may land. And as the kids got older, it was easy enough to pull out the chair in the kitchen and do my work. And if I really needed quiet time, I'd so much rather go to the coffee shop. (And then I'd realize that working at the coffee shop never provided me with the quiet that I needed.)

The office then adopted a twin bed and chair for the times when we'd have a guest spend the night, so in this room I had a soap making table, a writing desk, a big wing chair and a bed with a side table. And a big closet stuffed to the rim with soap making supplies, photo albums and all of the other bits and pieces of other crafts that I've started along the way. A bit cramped, but still mine all mine.

Today, one minute it was sunny and the next SECOND it was pouring rain. We ran like crazy to close all the windows and Miles ran into my office and yelled, "OH NO!! THE BABY'S ROOM!!"

Logan rushed in and said, "What!? The BABY'S room? MOM! The BABY'S room is getting SOAKED!"

The baby's room.

This has never once been uttered out of anyone's mouth. Sure, it's been assumed that the "baby" will have that room, but to hear them instantly, without thought call it the baby's room was pretty much amazing.

Yes, the floor was soaked. But the "baby's room" was quickly dried with the help of my amazing little men. How lucky am I?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Must watch video

In South Korea, adoption has a stigma.  In a news article that I just read in the Korean Times, it said that 90% of babies born from unwed mothers result in her giving the child away.  S. Korea as a whole doesn't support the parents and sadly, many mothers give up their babies when they really would rather not.  It's heartbreaking, really.

This song was written and sang by a Korean adoptee.  I couldn't stop the tears thinking about the thousands of children who grow up and wonder why things had to be the way they did.  The way they still are.  And I think of our future child's mother.  And the heartbreaking decision she had to make carrying that baby full term and making the choice to give her up for adoption. 

Make it through the whole song.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


( used with a singular verb

biometrics definition:
use of special input devices to analyze some physical parameter assumed to be unique to an individual, in order to confirm their identity as part of an
authentication procedure.

 We're checking things off our list right and left right now and the latest is our biometrics appointment, aka: FBI fingerprint checks. 

Our appointment is in a couple of weeks, and from what I'm seeing, people are getting approved withing a couple of weeks after that.  We're going to try to get in early, but there's some debate if that really matters or not.

What this step is is the approval for us to BE adoptive parents.  In many countries, this is the ticket into the country to finalize the adoption.  But in South Korea, you're not actually going there and adopting, you're taking guardianship.  The adoption finalization happens 6 months after coming home.

In many countries, the next step would be going to the country and filing the formal papers, but because of the fact that Korea is different, we actually file the papers in the USA after we get a referral and they must be all done here before we travel.

Which doesn't make a lick of difference now because we don't have a referral, but we're celebrating another box we can check.  We're also celebrating joining the group of men and women who have lotioned up those hands for weeks in hopes of good fingerprints.  The men and women who treck to their state's USCIS office to be fingerprinted.  

Cheers to the silly little celebrations that arise when a box can officially be checked.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

I don't really think this means anything...

bigger than a receipt from any store or purchase, but when the Department of Homeland Security sends you a neat-o letter, it's worth documenting, don't you think?

In other things, God sent a big hurricane into our lives about 1 1/2 weeks ago that has been taking up every single ounce of my being.  My emotions have been put through the ringer, and it left me wondering, "Why!"  (Sound familiar?)  "What are we supposed to do with this?" 

I've spent the last week and a half wondering if I really am the person I thought I was, and then beating myself up even more because of it. I cried a million tears struggling with my steps but I kept plugging away, doing more and more fact gathering...moving, step by step.

And then, God opened another door.  An unexpected door.  A crazy turn of events door.  And tonight, we're left wondering again, "What are You going to do with this, God?" - decision out of our hands.  Knowing that it's all in His hands leaves me feeling at peace.

I will share the whole story in the coming days when God makes his Will be known.  Until then, I'm celebrating a Department of Homeland Security letter.  Cheers.

Monday, May 2, 2011


Another post for another day will be all about the way that I feel unable to step foot into the girls section.  There is almost an invisible barrier that keeps me out.  I glance as I walk by, but I have never crossed the path into the land of tights, dresses, pink, ruffles.

City-wide garage sales were this weekend, and I went to a handful.  I didn't buy much at all, but a good stack of cute-clothes-that-my-baby-may-or-may-not-wear-because-I-have-no-idea-how-big-she'll-be baby clothes.  It was a trial run. Could I pass for a mom who should be looking in the girl section?

 At my first garage sale, I picked up a dress that had see-through bubbles on them, I asked, "What does one do with this?"  And the mom said, "You just need to find some white bloomers."  "Oh, OK."  Bloomers? Aren't they what I wore under my cheer leading uniform in high school?!!?    "And...(eyes down, quickly trying to think...) bloomers are??"

Yep! Bloomers ARE what I wore under my cheer leading uniform...and what little girls wear under dresses! Who knew!? Such a newbie. So much to learn.  I have never in my adult life thought about what a little girl wears under her dress. Not once. Never.

Until now.  And I am happy to say I have 2 pair of bloomers in this house now.  And a pair of tights.  And a red velvet hoodie with a  red heart.

And by the way, am I the only one who remembers her mom calling these 'ruffle butts'.