Monday, July 30, 2012

Be inspired...I dare you


That's the word I've heard a great deal over these past several months since the word has been out about our adoption...that our story, our family, and this journey has been inspiring. While I pray every single use of the word has drawn people to the ultimate adoptive parent, I thought I pass along this little nugget just to set aside any adoption "halo" rumors. Trust me...go ahead and buckle up!

TIMELINE: Move to Iowa Dec 30...move into house Dec 31...attend church Jan. 1...MUST go out and buy school supplies (mid-year because the old ones were "disgusting") Jan 2...for school that will begin following day, Jan 3.

SETTING: Burlington Big Lots...because I refused to pay any more than I must given the fact that this was the second installment of said supplies in one year...have I mentioned that already??? Windiest day you've ever experienced or even imagined.

CHARACTERS: Mother-of-the-Year and her 4 children...who shall remain nameless to protect the innocent.

After the traumatic move to a new state, I once again made the laughable assertion that..."I am the mother of these children...and I can handle taking them to the store...any store...for any accomplish any goal whatsoever!" HA! So there we the one aisle of school supplies to gather all the necessary items. I really was...initially...trying to be upbeat and positive to get the kids excited about jumping right into their new school the next day. (We were still very much reeling from the transition, and I wanted them to begin seeing the positive. ha.) It all went south quickly, however, as one by one, every complaint (in the history of complaints) was laid out for all of Big Lots to hear.

Multiple trips to the bathroom because a couple children were literally sick about the whole deal. Many subsequent rescue expeditions to the same location. Certain child plotting massive injury to avoid going to which I replied that I'd take them to the ER...then drive them to school. Significant lack of supplies needed. Irrational responses when told that we would not be purchasing $2 notebooks when $.10 notebooks would do the same job. I mean, seriously....I didn't even win them over with my suggestion that I blow up a picture of myself and glue to the front of the plain one...bam! $2 value...and a one-of-a-kind original! Or when I talked about the kids in Africa that would be very happy to have any paper at all, thank you very much!

You can imagine the level of anxiety in aisle 6 that day after 2 hours of this mayhem. Of course, it was also super awesome when Chris called and said, "You're still there?!?" Yes dear. Still. Thanks for checking.

We fight the stay in contact with EARTH...and make our way to van. I look up and realize that all the kids are tucked safe and snug in the vehicle, leaving mom to fend for herself. Here's where it gets real interesting.

Mom pounds on window and demands eldest son get out and help with bags and cart. He's also told to get the cart into the receptacle. He runs the cart over and gives it a good shove over the curb of the return. Mom assumes the loud bang is the cart smacking into the other carts. Not so. Out of the corner of her eye, Mom sees this same cart flying across the parking lot...did I mention the wind?!? Mom starts yelling...not the first time that day...for eldest son, who's already returned to van, to chase after cart that is now almost air born. After an unsuccessful attempt of cart vs. boy, he jumps back in van and joins the chaotic shouting of all children and mother as they try to catch runaway cart! Eldest son continues to protest his guilt as Mom continues to talk about work ethic and responsibility. Picture in your mind, if you will, van filled with screaming family chasing a grocery cart...which only by the grace of God,  hits nothing...because no one else is attempting such an expedition.

After seeing that the cart has stopped moving, we decide to leave it alone (I know, right) and go ahead and cross the street to meet Dad for 2 pm. While sitting at the stoplight, Mom again notices this possessed cart shoot out from nowhere, jump the curb, and head straight into oncoming traffic. Not kidding. The situation could even have been salvageable had the cart continued through the two westbound lanes and land in the median. Evidently the wind decided it'd had enough of a workout that day because Mr Cart stopped dead in the middle of those two lanes. Cars were whipping around it to avoid an accident.

You really can't make this stuff up...and as we are all sitting there watching this happen, I realize I need to do something to set this whole morning right. From my impatience, my temper, my attitude, blah, blah, blah...start to finish...mother of the year is out the window. SO...I take a deep breath, throw the van into reverse, and start driving over to the scene of the crime. As I explain to the kids that I have to do something before someone gets hurt...before we CAUSE an accident...a whole new chaotic screaming begins..."NO MOM...DON'T DO IT...YOU COULD GET HIT BY A CAR...SOMEONE WILL SEE US...YOU'RE GONNA DIE...etc" get the point.

I jump out...and run down into the street from the parking lot...stopping traffic like any good impromptu traffic cop would do. I make my way to the middle of the two lanes and grab ahold of that psycho cart. What could only be described as the salt in the proverbial wound, I look up to see all the drivers of the stopped vehicles CHEERING for me. You heard me...cheering, mouthing "thank you," honking horns to show love, blowing name it. Mother of the year turned hero. But sense it would be rude to ignore them, I nodded my acceptance of the accolades and began running with the cart. Had to run...because our friend, Mr Wind, was back for a I had to run...all the way past the waiting cars and up the driveway to the parking lot.

I look up and are pretty far away from Big Mr Cart clearly wants to find a new home. SO...I run it over to the big curb (where another BL cart is lying on its side...having most definitely committed the same atrocities) and kicked it over onto the grass so it's rolling days were over.

Mom breathlessly shoves weary body back into the van and observes eldest child in fetal position saying things like, "GO GO GO!" and "I'M SO EMBARRASSED!" Looking back, Mom sees two middle children biting their lips for all they're worth not to bust out laughing...remember there had been much yelling and tension up to this point.

It was all too much. Mom lets loose with uncontrollable laughter...followed promptly by the children...including the statement, "...did you see those people cheering you on?!?!? That was the best part!!! Maybe you should've yelled out, 'MY BAD!'" Tons of laughter...which was exactly what we needed...interrupted only by the youngest child's exclamation, "WHAT'S SO FUNNY?" He apparently missed the whole thing, start to finish, because he was engrossed in some electronic gadget.

More laughter...the kind that hurts to your antidote for what was ailing us.

There you have it. Inspiring, eh?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Trusting in the Delays

It's hard to trust.

It's even harder to trust when things aren't going your way.

It may be the hardest to trust when nothing is happening whatsoever.

For the most part, that's where we find ourselves.

We were really cooking along with the home study and dossier requirements, items have been sent off for certification and authentication, and application and LOI sent for little C. Those are all listed as though done with ease and without incident...not the case...but it's easier to just shove the past several weeks together for the sake of time and space.

We were then notified that both agencies missed that Chris must have background checks in both states in which he studied while in college. we jump back several months and dive back into the process and filling out papers and then...waiting.

We've had a good many setbacks over the past month...while still feel like momentum is swinging our way. It's hard to express the ups and downs of the adoption process...just know it's hard to conduct normal routine in the throws of all that is adoption.

So there you have it.

This post isn't going to end with some incredibly inspiring news...just plugging along in the mundane...trying to trust our Father in the midst of the frustrations...knowing that He has a purpose for everything under the sun and that He alone will continue to protect and provide for these two little ones just as He's done every day of their lives thus far.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

God uses a song

I was so struck by the truth and power of the lyrics of a song this morning...I feel compelled to share.

You see, even in my best efforts to focus on Christ in worship...leading or otherwise...I find my mind drifting to things like, "wonder if I look ok today...did my voice sound good on that song...did they like my harmony...sure wish I could sing like her" No one wants to admit things like one wants to even believe things like that. But if the truth be told, our pride is lurking in every corner of our mind and heart...even when we are "doing the right thing."

This morning, the Holy Spirit was going to have none of that. Thankfully.

Ps. Leonard had asked me to lead the song, Your Great Name...and even though I've sung it a hundred or so times, including our Wednesday night practice, it took root in my heart in a fresh, new way today. As I reached the second verse, I was completely overwhelmed by the lyrics coming out of my mouth. God brought to my heart the wonderful email I shared with you all from the orphanage worker...the uncontrollable distress of little C, calmed only by the mention of Jesus' name...the power and presence of the Lord completely permeating the room at the sound of His great name. (For the full email, refer back to previous post, A Voice From the Other Side of the World).

See if these words don't hold new meaning through the tears of that little girl so far away...

All the weak find their strength
at the sound of Your great name.
Hungry souls receive grace
at the sound of Your great name.
The fatherless...they find their rest
at the sound of Your great name.
The sick are healed, and the dead are raised
at the sound of Your great name.

Sentimental...yes...but that's not the point. God used that email and the heartache it caused to remind me of my own weakness...of my own hunger...of my own sickness...of my own desperate need for a loving Father, Redeemer, Healer, Lord, Savior, Defender, and King. 

God forgive me for my casual attempt at worship that so often takes place. My heart was overwhelmed this morning, and I pray that it continues to that one day I will use this song to teach our new little ones about the amazing power of the name of Jesus. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Voice From the Other Side of the World

There is very little I could say about the following friend Laura forwarded it to me after wisely holding onto it for a few months. It was sent from someone who knows and cares for our little ones personally. (The asterisks are included for protection as email monitoring wouldn't allow Jesus' name mentioned).

Laura knew it would be difficult for me to read without the certainty that we'd be able to bring little C home with us...but now that it's looking very positive, she sent this treasure my way. I say "treasure" because this is another piece of the puzzle that I'll hold close to my heart...just like that precious phone call that told us the agency was going to hold C's file for us!

Read prepared to be moved...and amazed again about God's presence and protection on each one of his children. He is intimately involved in every matter how small. It gives me such a deep, resonating joy to know both C and J are already being loved in the name of Christ. Overwhelmed.

dear Laura,

when i got your email i literally stopped and just stared, because this evening one of the girls brought C into my room (i have been sick and was off shift) and she was screaming and rigid and just SO upset. no one could calm her down. she needs security so very much, and if anything upsets her she is just so hard to get calm again. it's like she literally can't find anything solid or secure to hold on to. i sang to her, held her tightly, told her i loved her, told her Jes*s loves her, talked to her...nothing helped. then i just started pra ying in Jes*s name (in chinese). i asked Him to come and hold her, and comfort her heart and quiet and calm her. i asked Him to fill the room and just let both of us know He was there. and i asked Him to give C a family...a daddy and mommy who will love her and take care of her and make her feel safe and assured...and who will teach her about her Heavenly Father who loves her so much...that she will one day grow to know and love Him as her Father, and not be afraid or insecure ever again. and it was for sure the most immediate response to pra yer i've ever experienced. as soon as i opened my mouth in the name of Jes*s, C instantly stopped screaming. it wasn't a slow calming down, or even was just a complete stop. nothing would calm her, but HE came and calmed her heart. His peace and presence filled the room to the point where tears were just rolling down my face because i knew He was HERE. anyway, all of that had just happened and i was telling my best friend online about it when i got your email and saw that there is a family praying that she will be theirs. just had to share with you how He answers pra yer, and let you know that i am lifting up your friends and asking Him to let them be C's forever family.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

31 Bags Fundraiser...the results are in!

Quite a few people have asked about the recent adoption fundraiser we did with 31.  My sweet friend Nichole is a consultant and offered to do a party to raise money for the kiddos!

Chris and I had already decided that we would not be asking anyone to give toward the adoption...given Chris' position at the church, we didn't want to raise any questions or conflicts concerning this process. We would never begin to criticize anyone else for doing just wasn't the appropriate idea for us. We believe God orchestrated this whole situation from start to finish and are fully trusting in Him to provide the funds needed as well. It really is another overwhelming element of our adoption story, but God owns it all anyway...and this is His story.

However...we felt like this party would be a fun alternative since people would be buying things with all the proceeds going toward the adoption! All the hostess benefits and consultant commission went straight to the kids! And it was so very much fun! It was definitely unlike any home show I've ever been a part with a purpose! :) We had yummy food and saw all kinds of cool bags and such, of course...but we also had a great time of conversation and prayer for J and C! It was a sweet time of sharing and caring...loved it.

Here's the wonderful group of ladies that were able to join us that night...many others ordered online...we are so very grateful to each one of you. (Sorry for the poor quality...I dragged Bryce down from his room to take a quick picture with my phone. There was definitely no opportunity for a re-do...he got out of there as quickly as possible!)

So...after much shifting of orders here and there, the final total raised was a whopping $1,200!!! Incredible!

Obviously, we still have a long way to go, but we are confident that God will continue to provide the funds needed...just as he's always done. We are simply trusting Him to do so.

Again, we are so humbled and grateful for all of you that have given of your checkbooks and, more importantly, your hearts to help bring these little ones into the Carr family. We love you.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

...and let's just call her "C"

Part Deux. I guess that's what you'd call this installment. Of course, that just reminds me of an incredibly terrible (worse kind of terrible in all that is terrible) Charlie Sheen movie from back in the let's just walk away...seriously...don't even look it up.

I told you yesterday a little bit more about the condition of "J" so I thought the natural follow-up would be to tell you about our little sweetheart, "C." It actually benefits those reading that this blog wasn't started back in January because we know far more about her condition now than we did then. Initially, all we knew was that she had a heart condition of some sort with only 70% oxygenation levels...the key being that the problem could be a simple, quick fix or something irreparable...we just had no idea. And truthfully, we really won't know the full and accurate scope of her medical condition until we bring her home.

After receiving her medical file from the adoption agency, we were able to get it immediately in the hands of a pediatric cardiologist at a large hospital. Again, we are so thankful for the people God has placed in our path since moving to Iowa that has made things like this possible.  The news is unnerving at best.  I still don't claim to have my head around all the medical lingo, but I know it's significant and time-sensitive. As a matter of fact, Chris even got his laptop out the other night at dinner and pulled his "Mr. Carr lecture voice" out of nowhere and tried to explain the situation to all of us. Of course, the kids and I had some fun teasing the "prof," but it was very helpful to visualize the problems.

C actually has 3 things wrong concerning her heart. I know I'll get something wrong if I try to list them so I'll just summarize. A portion of the heart is missing, a dividing "wall" missing between the right and left sides, and there is a very narrow opening in the "tube" that moves the blood out to the lungs. I know all you docs and biology gurus are disgusted with my description above, but it works just fine for the rest of us. Kids are known to have these birth defects...surgeries are common to repair them...but there is nothing minor about these surgeries.

Does that make this any easier? No. Does this mean it's a simple fix? No. Will this be an in and out process? No.

Breathe in, breathe out.

Did God call us to this process? Yes. Did he lead us to this very little girl in need of not only a family and medical care...but also a Savior? Yes. Will we continue to press on knowing the Ultimate Physician is bigger than a missing ventricle? Yes.

Because you see, in all of His precise shaping of her, God did what only He could do. He has saved her life to this very day...every moment has been a gift. Let me explain. If C only had the first complication, she would already be dead. No question. The children that are diagnosed with this disease are done so shortly after birth. They don't survive much past that if it's not dealt with immediately. She is 2. It's nothing short of a miracle. SHE is a miracle.  But in the shaping of her sweet little body, God also included the other two "problems"...which have saved her life to this point. All three conditions have literally worked together to keep her alive to date. Eventually the heart won't be able to take it and will give out...but for now, she's a happy, active toddler who loves to sing and smile and play. God's grace is amazing...and sufficient. I honestly had to keep telling myself that as I listened to the likely diagnosis.

Monday, July 16, 2012

We'll call him "J" for now

To be continued. Let's just get it out there right now. This is will another "to be continued" moment. So for all of you "read-the-last-page-first" kind of readers, suck it up and enjoy the ride! :)

I thought you'd like a closer look at our new little guy. I wish I could post some pictures for you, but at this point, that would be frowned I'll just have to try to explain.

He was born in September 2009 and abandoned at a local hospital. It's heartbreaking to imagine him laying there...alone. But I've come to truly view this as an act of tender kindness...because without it, we would not be able to welcome this little one into our home. There is purpose for everything under the's just hard to see everyday life through the eyes of the Creator...all the heartache, the ugliness, the tragic consequences of wrong choices...every bit of it...God has a purpose for it. So even as I think about this little man being rejected by his earthly parents, I'm reminded that the God who always loves and never fails, never left his side.

J was born with a side cleft and an ear deformity, both on the right side of his face. Picture in your mind your ear being at the curve of your jawbone, seemingly connected or pulling at, the side of the mouth. He seems to be in perfect physical health with the exception of not looking "normal." Kenney and Laura said he's so sweet to all the other kids at the orphanage. He passes out all the toys to everyone before he takes one for himself. If he sees someone crying, he'll go over and try to comfort them. (Remember, he's just 2 1/2 They also said that our two kiddos are inseparable at the orphanage.

As I mentioned in previous posts, we were able to show his medical files to some local specialists the day we received it. After examining it, they said there didn't seem to be any genetic cause for his 2 issues and seemed to simply be a repairable birth defect. Initially, it's simply cosmetic surgery...although the bigger issue will be multiple surgeries on the jaw as he grows. They believe this will be necessary as the jaw will likely not develop as it should on the right side. They're also not sure how his hearing has been affected on the right side.

I'm so struck again by an obvious enormous blessing with our recent move to Iowa. I would never have guessed one of the top perks of this move would be the incredible medical care and attention we would receive in SE Iowa. No offense to my new home...but seriously?!? It just wasn't on my radar. I even had many people question my own health needs in the move...wondering if I'd be able to get the doctors I'd need to manage some old issues. I can honestly say, the healthcare situation for the Carr's has increased exponentially since we moved to SE Iowa! It would have taken several weeks just to get into any doctor back in Indiana...and there wouldn't have been any feedback for several more. Again, that's a freebie...but still a huge part of this adoption journey.

You can probably guess what tomorrow's post will be so I'll go ahead and give you the title...

"...and let's just call her 'C'..."

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Here's a fun pic we were able to get the day we met the 2 new Kolanowski's!

Chris and myself after a yummy birthday dinner @ Givanni's last night

...and then there were two...

If you were tracking the most noteworthy moments of this adoption journey, the next one would have to be an "accidental" meeting with some new Chinese little friends. Of course, we all know there are no accidents in the plan of God, but we surely did not see this one coming!

The kids were excited about adopting at this point but were still trying to process the implications of what this would mean for them individually and for our family as a whole. "Where will she sleep...what will people think of our family being so different...what will I have to do for her...will we still be able to play sports...etc?"

Approximately a month after we first "met" our little girl from across the ocean, the kids and I traveled to Indiana for Aunt Alli's baby shower. I was still in a huge walking boot for my ankle, and it was going to be a quick trip without Chris, but we really wanted to celebrate this new little cousin so we just bit the bullet and went! (more hunt-speak...maybe it's Iowa...not just the hubs)

Unbeknownst to me, Kenney and Laura Kolanowski had been home from China for about a week...having picked up their two kiddos...and called Chris to see if the kids and I would have time to stop and visit. Although it was going to put us back home pretty late on Sunday night, we thought it would be a great opportunity to not only encourage the Kolanowski's but to also give our kids a chance to interact with kids from a different culture...the exact culture of our little girl. What an incredible time we had! Our kids immediately bonded with their the point where we had a hard time leaving!

It was awesome...and then the proverbial bomb was dropped! (haha) Laura was explaining to our kids what it was like in the orphanage there, about seeing the little girl we were pursuing, etc...when she added, "...and she has a best friend too...they're always together...and you should see kind and caring to the other children...he's been available for adoption for awhile but nobody wants him because of the way he looks...he's got a side cleft and an ear's just plastic surgery, but nobody wants's so sad."



The kids talked about it all the way home and, knowing I was on board, burst in the house when we arrived at 9:30 pm and shouted, "DAD, WE'RE ADOPTING HER FRIEND TOO!!! MOM SAID SO!"

After some prayer, we contacted the agency shortly thereafter and began the process of adding the second child. Because he's been available, we were able to gain access to his medical file and had it looked at by several specialists that same day. Short version...we sent the letter of intent...and within a week received notice of pre-approval by the Chinese government.

There's more to the story...there's always more...but that covers the major details! For the 3 month period that we were committed to him but were still not connected to her, we struggled with understanding why God would send us to her at all if we weren't going to get was very hard to continue was very hard not to was immensely hard to pray that God would protect her and care for her no matter what family she joined...even if it wasn't ours. We tried to even reconcile that maybe He brought her to our attention simply to lead us to the little boy...maybe we wouldn't have wanted him at first either...if we were honest. seems as though God has now opened the door for them to come together. That is our prayer...

Friday, July 13, 2012

"If she doesn't get a mom and dad, she's going to die"

That's what the message said. Plain and simple...and impossible to ignore.

I thought I'd go back a few months and clue you in to what triggered the sudden action toward adoption. This wasn't what planted the seed...that's for another day...but what "pulled the trigger." (I must be hangin with the hubs way too much...what's with the hunting lingo?!?)

Our dear friends, the Kolanowski's, were in China picking up their two special needs children when we received the above message along with a picture. They didn't send it to us privately, but both Chris and I felt that God placed that little girl right on our doorstep. We immediately (and separately, I might add) sent messages back to Kenney and Laura asking what we could do to start the process immediately. The little girl has a heart condition and only has 70% oxygenation levels. While I don't fully understand all the implications, I know it's serious, and she needs a family who are able to get her the medical care she needs. I'm also very aware that God has known her since before her birth. He shaped her and formed her in His image, and none of these circumstances are shocking or too difficult for Him.

We immediately connected with the agency Kenney and Laura were using, mainly to expedite the process as much as possible. We found out that in spite of her urgent medical needs, her file was not available for adoption. This was both surprising and sad to us as we just sat and stared at her picture...praying for the floodgates to open for us to bring this little one home.

We began climbing the arduous mountain of paperwork and government requirements we'd be ready as soon as her file became available. We'll skip the daily frustrations and complications we've experienced since the beginning of March, but there've been many. The most notable would include complications and delays with all the kids' physicals (yes, all our own healthy children had to be cleared medically before we could adopt other children who need urgent medical care and aren't getting it), my own physical situation as I shredded my ankle playing basketball with some family and friends on March 4th and was laid up for 12 weeks, and the discouraging news in April from our agent that it was basically a glorified "needle in a haystack" situation...very unlikely that we'd be able to get matched to our little girl.

And that's where we were left...until that wonderful phone call yesterday.

We've already had a pediatric cardiologist examine the file and give us a plan of now we wait on the Chinese government to approve it.

God is faithful, and we are simply doing our best to follow His direction. The path is rocky and sometimes it's hard to stand...but every time I start to stumble...every time I reach all-powerful Father grabs my hand and lifts me to solid ground.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Our most recent miracle

It may seem odd to start a story in the middle...there's no background motivation details or plot leading up to this moment...but those stories are for another day. Today is about a phone call.  Such a simple thing, a phone call, but I think I'll always remember this one.  

Chris and I were relaxing together on the beach to celebrate our 16th anniversary when his phone rang with a call from our adoption agency. Although we've been waiting for this call, I can honestly say it was shocking, which goes to show how deep my lack of faith really goes. 

You see, several weeks ago after waiting for 4 months, we were told that the file of the little girl we've been seeking to adopt was being transferred to a specific adoption agency (not ours) for placement. For all practical purposes, this would mean it would not be possible for us to adopt this sweet one. We instructed our agency to use whatever means possible to gain access to her file.  However, it seemed like all news was bad news. There was a delay while they waited for her file...then it had to be translated...then they said they were going to open her file up to all the families they had in their own data base before considering us...even if they agreed to some arrangement, it would likely add much time and money to the process in order to strike some "deal" between the two agencies....none of which was entirely positive or encouraging. There were tears shed, questions asked, and faith shaken. We even wanted to contact the second agency ourselves but were instructed to simply wait. 

And so we did just that...with the exception of offering up many a prayer...we waited.

It's pretty easy to say you're trusting in God's sovereignty and leaning on His strength when you don't find yourself in a desperate situation...when you don't feel helpless to do anything but that. I was reminded on a daily basis just how much I was depending on my own ability to cross things off my list and accomplish what needed to be done. Self-sufficiency is the ugly cousin of pride, and I know her all too well.

However, in the midst of all my selfishness, God still chose to send that phone call. "The other agency has decided to give you full access to her file. They are holding her file for your family. Are you still interested?" 

Just like that. No strings. No restrictions. No stipulations. Just "it's yours, if you want it" or more to the point, "she's yours, if you want her." 

There is much more. For now, we will just celebrate in, and give thanks for, this amazing miracle God worked for this little girl, for our family, and for His glory. May we never cease to praise Him.