Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Department of Homeland Security

Doesn't that sound official and make you feel kinda patriotic or something? Well, I just wrote a check from my very own bank account to the Department of Homeland Security! (I like saying that, can you tell?) We just paid them $830 to apply to bring home an orphan from abroad, and to get more fingerprints done... Well, like Mark says, we have been fingerprinted so many times in our lives, probably more than some criminals, because of all the homestudies we have done and from being foster parents for several years. We are not sure why they have to do it again, it is not like our fingerprints will change or anything... They really like to check you out to make sure you are not a criminal somewhere!! The funny part of the papers we have to fill out for our dossier is a form to have us "checked out" internationally! It is called Interpol. It is like the FBI, but the "International FBI". That is pretty funny, cause neither one of us has ever stepped foot out of this country, let alone did something illegal somewhere out there! Oh, that's not true, I think when I was a kid like 3rd grade or something, my family took us to Niagara Falls and I think I was actually in Canada for awhile!!! Hopefully I did not try to go over the falls in a whiskey barrel or something like that!!
Ok, so that made me think of the song "Somewhere Out There" and it is now in my head and I think it is cute. So I will post the lyrics. You will probably remember this from An American Tail. (listen to the first song on my playlist).

Some where out there beneath the pale moonlight,
someone's thinking of me and loving me tonight.
Somewhere out there, someone's saying a prayer
That we'll find one another in that big somewhere out there.
And even though I know how very far apart we are
It helps to think we might be wishing on that same bright star.
And when the night wind starts to sing a lonesome lullaby
It helps to think we're sleeping underneath the same big sky.
Somewhere out there, if love can see us through
Then we'll be together somewhere out there
Out where dreams come true....

Neat song, huh? It really made me think of my girls. Well I just had to post this, I think it is hilarious about the Interpol stuff. But the good news is....our homestudy is done!!! We are waiting on Colorado Human Services to approve it, which they should...then by next week it will be off to USCIS along with all our other documents and it will just be a waiting game from then on!

I started this process excited, but deathly afraid of the actual traveling. But now...I am so ready to go! I am excited to go to our girls' country and see what their culture is like! I want to meet them so bad! It is sooo exciting! I will miss my children terribly!!! I am really worried about leaving my 2 little ones, especially Madalyn, as she will only be about 16 months old when we are gone! She will have no idea where we are, so please pray for her during that time. We really considered taking her, but with her health issues, we really just felt it is safer for her to be here in her own country near her most awesome Dr McGrath (cardiologist and pediatrician) who knows her best! And she will be well taken care of by some people who love her very much! I know it will be hardest on me...she will probably be fine! :)

I cannot wait to go and get her sisters!!!!!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

How many more are ya gonna have?

I think this is a pretty common question people with more than 3 or 4 kids get asked. I know this happens to people who have lots of biological kids! I know many families like this! And I know in the world of adoption, there are a lot of families with a bunch of kids! These are my kind of families!! :) We have 7, soon to be 9, but many families I know of have a lot more kids than me! Maybe I am wrong, but most of the adoptive families I know don't just stop after 1 or 2 adoptions. It is just not in them...

Alot of people who adopt waiting children and especially children with special needs, just have that "heart for adoption", which I believe is "God's heart for adoption". He does have a special place in His heart for adoption! After all, as Christians, we have been adopted into His family!! I said this in an earlier post, but adoption is God's idea!!! That is why it is so cool!!! And I am thrilled to be part of that plan!

I am ashamed to admit that I used to be part of that group that asked people who were adopting internationally, "why don't you just adopt here in the good ol' USA?". I didn't actually ask anyone that cause I really didn't know many who had. (Except my niece who brought home a beautiful baby boy from Korea a couple years ago, and my own dad who brought my 2 sisters home from Taiwan before I was even born...) My very own family!!! Wow, thinking about that makes me feel pretty lousy about things I might have thought. I just didn't understand, and it was coming from a place of ignorance! It's not that I thought international adoption was wrong, I just thought we have so many kids in this country needing homes, why go outside our borders? I have been a foster parent for 7+ years, and I know about all the kiddos here in our country that need a family! They desperately need homes too! For sure! But God knew Mark and I needed our perspectives changed! He showed us his heart for the orphan! And through the birth of our daughter, Madalyn, he showed us His heart for the orphan with special needs. We had no idea there are so many orphans in this world! Another blog I follow said there are about 147 MILLION orphans in this world!!! That is hard to believe! And those that have special needs like Down syndrome are almost forgotten. They need loving families so desperately! It is a death sentence for a child like the 2 we are adopting, to not have a family to bring them home and love them, feed them, and get them medical care! It is so hard for all orphans!! But a child with Down syndrome will be shipped off to a mental institution by age 4 or 5 if they are not adopted. It is just not right!!!! Think about this...if all the "proclaimed" Christians in this world would bring an orphan into their family, there would be a whole lot less children needing families in this world! Unless you take the time to really research and find out about what is happening in this world, you will not even have a clue that the need is so great!

So I guess in answer to the question to "how many more".... We will continue to adopt if possible, until God says it is "enough". At this point, Mark and I both agree that as long as there are these little ones who need families, especially these little ones with Down sydrome or some other special needs, we will continue to do everything we can to help. And if that means bringing more into our family, than that is what we will do! We feel this charge of James 1:27 more than ever before and we cannot ignore it! And it is quite a ride too! Try it, you might like it!!!!
We got our passport renewals!!! Yea!!! We thought it would take longer than it did. Like 3 weeks longer!! Wow, I am glad we did not spend the extra $120 dollars to expedite them!! One more piece to the puzzle....a big piece, as we need these to travel and we also need copies to send in the dossier. I am so pumped!!

Well the yard sale didn't go so great yesterday...I think we weren't in a great location (off the beaten path at the parking lot of the BP offices near the airport), and the wind blew all day and it got really bad toward the end of the day. I worked my tail off for the past few days to get ready and I was pretty exhausted by the end of it.
We tried anyway...and I think we made about 82 dollars. Not alot, but better than nothing! :)
We still have one more yard sale on June 5th, and we actually have more stuff than we started with the last time. We have had several people donate to them, and one nice lady at our last yard sale donated a bunch of her stuff to us for us to sell next time! That was really nice! We are gonna sell snow cones that day, which my boys are excited about cause they get to make them and sell them! And we will put up balloons and and have other goodies to sell, and maybe really try to make it a great fundraising success!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Well, we finally really did have our last meeting with our social worker! Yea!! Hopefully next time we see her, we will have our girls home and she will be doing post placement visits! What a fun thought, I can't wait! She said she was sending the homestudy to the agency today for review. I am hoping it will be reviewed by all parties next week, approved by the state, and ready to send to USCIS a week from today! Wouldn't that be awesome!!! That is such a huge and important part of the process and I can't wait to be doing that "waiting game". I know, I know...I will probably be complaining later about how long it is taking and how I wish they would hurry up and approve us!! But, hey, I am human! Nothing is ever good enough, right? (Well, hopefully I won't be that bad.)
But I am anxious to get this stuff done so our girls can come home!!! It just seems so urgent to needs to happen, and soon!! It seems like a lot of the other blogs and people I know who started this process around the time we did already are waiting their approval letter and have done their INS fingerprints and everything. I am not sure if their homestudies are done, too. But our agency told us that we needed to send the application at the same time as the homestudy, and I know some people have sent their application early, then are sending the homestudy when it is done. But apparently in Colorado, you need to send it all at the same time. The good of that is that all we have to do is finish up dossier paperwork and do fingerprints (probably in Albuquerque) while we wait, and not have to still be worrying about finishing the homestudy. Anyway...I am excited because it is getting exciting and scary and real and I can't wait to meet my girls!!
Tomorrow is our first yard sale day. We have spent the last few days working very hard to get things organized and stuff. I am tired already, but hopefully it will all go well tomorrow and we will raise lots of money! Thanks to everyone who has donated to our yard sale!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

We were really hoping our homestudy would be done and reviewed last week, approved and ready to be sent off to immigration. But that was not to be. :( We are trying to remind ourselves that there is a reason for this. We don't know what it is, but that is okay. We can continue on and trust that God is ultimately in control and whatever is going to happen, we are okay with that. No, it does not make it easier to accept that things are not going the way we want them to! But it does give us a reason to keep the faith!

So we will meet with our social worker at least one more time this week, hopefully twice before the week is done. Then we shouldn't need to meet anymore and she can hopefully get our homestudy emailed back to the agency. Then they will review it, Reece's Rainbow will review it, so will we, and then on to the State of Colorado for them to officially approve it. Once that is done, we can send it off to USCIS along with our "petition to adopt an orphan". That process takes about 4-6 weeks and so we are really in a hurry to get that waiting period started!

We are really wanting to be able to travel this summer, hopefully be bringing the girls home in August. Not sure that is gonna happen, but that would be great for our timing. It might not be God's timing...and we really we do want it to happen in His time. It will work out for the best if we do not push it for us, but wait on Him. This I know to be true!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Well, we are steadily working on our dossier, one paper at a time. If you have ever done an international adoption or you know someone who has, you probably know how much work goes into getting this done. This is not just your typical paperwork! We are not just filling in some blanks and signing our names! Yes, there is signing of names......but there is so much more that goes into it. For the particular country we are adopting from, you have to have things written just right, in the right color ink, and notarized just perfectly. And when you add other people like appraisers and doctors and mortgage holders to the mix, it makes things that much more complicated and harder to get "right"! We can't bring our babies home without the help and cooperation of all these other people! It is humbling!! We are lucky I think, because God has put special people in place to help us in getting these things done. Pretty amazing, because for example, we had no idea how to get a notary to go with us to a doctor appt. to notarize documents just "perfectly" and be willing to do it again if it wasn't done correctly the first time! But He put someone in place I know just for us. It worked out so perfectly that I know that it was ALL HIM! He has been so good and it is really cool to think of how He has orchestrated all these events. God is GOOD, all the time! We are so thankful for all the people that have helped us so far!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

I had a really nice Mother's day today and spent some great time with my family! I just wish all my children could have been here! Five were here with me, but four were not. I am so blessed to have such great kids! I miss my 2 oldest very much and wish they lived closer! And my 2 little girls, so very far away!! I am always thinking of them. I really wish I knew more about them. I keep staring at their cute little faces and wondering how they are and what they are doing. I want them to know that we are thinking of them, loving them and working hard to get them home! Some days it just feels like it could not go any slower. We are always waiting on something or someone...and my girls just need to be home!! But I know it is a reminder to have faith in the One who started this whole thing! To trust in Him and be patient! I know that His timing is perfect and that it will work out the best if we will trust Him! It's hard, but I know that we would not even be doing this if it weren't for Him, and that is comforting! I know He is with us and that He loves these girls so much and He will bring them home! That really is awesome!!!
Look at this little beauty! I think this is my favorite picture of Arianna. It is just so sweet! We know she has had surgery for duodenal atresia and is doing well. We don't know a whole lot about her heart and what she will eventually need medically, but please pray for her to stay as healthy as possible until that can be checked. Oh man I just want to kiss those little cheeks!!!!
And Magda is just beautiful, don't you think? I can't wait to hold her, she just looks so snuggly!!Please pray for this little sweetie, that she will stay healthy until we can get her home and have her heart checked. Please pray she will not have permanent damage from the pulmonary hypertension!
When I allow myself to really think about these 2 precious baby girls and what they are going through... it is upsetting. I just pray that they have someone who is loving on them, holding them when they are being fed, playing with them and giving them lots of loving attention! It actually makes my heart hurt to think they might not be getting that and that I am sitting here thousands of miles away and I can do absolutely nothing about it. Please hurry homestudy lady, and USCIS office and everyone else that we are going to be needing to help us get this done! My little girls need to come home!! Please Jesus, watch over these precious children! I know you love them and will protect them and that you hear our prayers!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

We had Madalyn's first birthday a couple weeks ago on a Saturday night... April 17, 2010. How fun was that!! She is such sweetie and a funny girl! She is getting up on her hands and knees! She is gonna crawl soon and she is starting to do the army crawl. She knows how to get where she wants! She is sitting alone, babbling and becoming her own little person. She is figuring out that she can be funny and loves to "play" with Justin and laughs and giggles with him! It is so sweet!

Here she is one year ago, less than a day old and facing surgery for Duodenal Atresia (an intestinal blockage) and Tracheal Esophageal Fistula (her esophagus was connected to her windpipe). She was really lucky because alot of kids who have surgery for this end up having surgery at least 1 more time because to reconnect the lower and upper part of the esophagus usually needs some time (for the child to grow bigger). They were able to fix that right away, but not without problems. She ended up having an emergency gastrostomy during the surgery because she started to aspirate from fluids coming up through her esophagus and going into her windpipe... She has been through so much and she is such a trooper! Then she had open heart surgery on Nov. 25, 2009, at 7 months at the Children's Hospital in Denver. They really are the best there!! We cannot say enough good about them! What a precious little ladybug!!!!

This is our little sweet heart one year later! What a difference a year can make! Thank you Jesus, for this precious child! What an unexpected blessing she has been, and continues to be......
We love you Madalyn Grace McKie Westbrook!!!
Well we sent our first papers for the girls off to Eastern Europe 2 days ago! It is soooo exciting. It is making me really want to go and get them. I don't want to wait anymore, but we have to... :(
So hopefully the papers will get there safe and the process will officially be starting for our family! We are done meeting with our social worker for the homestudy. YEA!!! I think our homestudy is basically done, just needs our medical reports and maybe a few minor things...Then we can review it and we are hoping within 2 weeks it will be ready to send to immigration! In the meantime we will continue to gather documents for the dossier. That is hard work!! One of the more complicated and harder things I have ever had to do in my life. This whole process is that way, but also kind of a rush. There is so much to do, but there is such a great prize at the end that we are willing to sacrifice and work extra hard to get it done!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Cool Quote

I found this quote somewhere on the web and I have no idea who wrote it. I just thought this was really neat and wanted to share it!

"God doesn't give children with special needs to strong people; He gives children with special needs to ordinary, weak people and then gives them strength. Raising a child with Down syndrome, brain injury, CP or other special needs doesn't TAKE a special family, it MAKES a special family."

And your ears will hear a word behind you, "This is the way, walk in it", whenever you turn to the right or to the left. Isaiah 30:21

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Psalm 139:13-16

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.