"I will not leave you as orphans..." - John 14:18
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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Do NOT Give Up

The following was written for my ministry blog, LaurieCoombs.org.

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Have you ever had a moment (or many) when you wonder whether or not God will deliver what you believe He’s promised?

I sure have.

For the last three and a half years, I have heard God tell me, “Do not give up!” Over and over, “Do not give up! Keep moving forward. Keep moving toward your adoption.”

But nothing has happened. We’re still waiting.

Travis and I began our adoption with nothing but faith, a desire for more children, and confidence in God’s call to adopt. With no money saved and little to devote to such an endeavor, we took the leap, believing God would provide for what He was calling us to do. And He has. Time and time again, provision has come in one form or another usually at the very hour we needed it. This may be too much information to share, but we’re over $20,000 in, yet we carry no debt as a result of our adoption.

One thing I can never call into question––God is good.

Our adoption has been quite a process. It’s been three and a half years since we first took that leap and followed God’s call to Ethiopia, and at this point, it doesn’t seem like our wait will ever end. It’s a struggle––one that my entire family is going through. Each of us, in turn, have had our moments of great faith and our moments of despair, including our children. There are times I am able to rest completely in trust that God will bring us our baby(ies), and there are times of doubt––times that I cry out to our God and ask if we’re just fooling ourselves, if we’ve somehow misread His will.

Our adoption was supposed to take one to two years. This is what we signed up for––not this epic wait that never seems to end. About six months into our adoption, the adoption climate in Ethiopia took a drastic turn as Ethiopian officials began to crack down on the corrupt practices at work within their adoption system. This was a good thing, in our estimation. Travis and I were glad to see the country step up to see to the welfare of its children and birth families. Neither one of us is interested in receiving our child(ren) through corruption, but instead, we seek to adopt one (or two) of the over 4 million legitimate orphans within the country.

When the government announced its plan to crack down on corruption, no one knew the impact it would have on adoption. Some thought the country might close international adoption altogether, while others predicted these changes would simply result in the processing of fewer adoptions. But in any case, the news was not good for our family. Hundreds of families would need to bring their children home before we would (as we had really just begun), and so we began to question whether or not we were on the right path.

We felt God lead us to Ethiopia, we felt Him tell us this is where your children are, but now, we appeared to have hit a significant roadblock.

Is it all over? We thought. What do we do?

Perhaps we heard God wrong.

Both Travis and I were extremely discouraged. To me, it felt as if I were having a miscarriage, and I began to mourn the loss of these children I had yet to see, or hold, or know. But they were mine. In my heart, they were mine. Created for me to love and raise as my own.

I sat down and began to fold laundry, while my two girls took a nap. We had just heard the news, and my heart ached with loss. Wanting desperately to hear a word from God, I listened to the next sermon in a long series I had been listening to as I folded. The pastor began by shouting, “Do not give up!” Tears stung my eyes, and I sat motionless. The pastor continued, “Just because something’s hard. Just because you’ve come to an obstacle on your path does not mean you’re on the wrong path. Everything God calls us to is difficult. Keep going.”

In a not-so-subtle way, God told us to press on.

Two and a half years followed. Two and a half years of waiting patiently (and sometimes not so patiently) for God to bring our baby(ies) home. Each night, we prayed for them. Each night between then and now, Travis and I listened as our little girls begged God to, “Bring our babies home soon!” I prayed, not unlike Hannah, for God to grant us our petition. To bring us our children.

But adoption in Ethiopia remained slow. After this initial setback, the reforms seemed to have curbed the corruption, and for a long time everything seemed to be going well (though very slowly). We certainly had not reached our destination when we had intended, but we figured God had a plan, so we settled in.

But recently, we’ve hit yet another significant roadblock.

Two days after this last Christmas, we received an email from our adoption agency telling us that certain high-ranking Ethiopian politicians were urging the government to close down adoption altogether. On Christmas, however––only two days before––I sat next to our tree Christmas morning, after the girls had torn through all the wrapping paper and wept as Travis revealed to me that he had received an unexpected bonus. A bonus large enough to pay for our next homestudy ($1200!) with enough left over for Travis to buy a couple unexpected Christmas gifts. Once again, God had provided for our adoption.

But two days later, our adoption once again seemed to be slipping through our fingers like sand, while Travis and I desperately tried to hold on to it.

We questioned what we were to do. Should we move forward in trust, paying the $1,200 to keep us in the game, or should we quit? Nothing inside of us wanted to quit, but $1200 is quite a bit of money––money that would simply go down the drain if Ethiopia closed, and at this point, it’s closure could happen any day.

But as I listened to yet another sermon on podcast, the pastor preached the same message I had heard three years prior, “Do not quit!” I’m not kidding you. I heard the same exact words as I had the first time we hit that roadblock through a different pastor within days of hearing this news. According to conventional wisdom, now would be a good time to quit. To simply cut our losses and say we gave it our best try.

But neither Travis nor I can quit. God is clearly telling us to press on. And so we are. We wrote that check, met with our social worker, and committed to seeing this road to the end.

I don’t know what’s in store for us. Other families adopting from Ethiopia are jumping ship in droves, and I don’t blame them. It doesn’t look good. Currently, it seems the country might not close, but adoption in Ethiopia has all but stopped. There are still some children coming to their forever families, but not many. Because of this, it would be so easy to abandon this endeavor, but we can’t. This is not what God is calling us to.

Our journey to bring our children home has been anything but smooth sailing. It seems we’re more like a ship at sea during a storm, fighting the waves toward our final destination than a ship sailing calm waters. But I believe God will bring us to the shore. I’m not going to lie to you. I have moments of doubt. I question whether or not we’ll ever get there, but here’s the thing––I know God is telling us, “Do not give up!” And so, Travis and I are choosing to press on. To fight through this storm until one of two things happen. Either we come to see our endeavor come to fruition and are finally able to bring our children home. Or we come, not to a mere roadblock, but a dead end. To us, a dead end is closure. Ethiopia is going to have to close for us to stop fighting.

And so, this is where we stand. At times, it feels like we’re standing on shifting sand. But in all actuality, it’s not sand we stand on, but a rock. The Rock. And when we stand on the Rock, though the world and our circumstances rage around us in the troughs of a storm, we remain secure. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Much Delayed Adoption Update

It's been a long time, I realize. A really long time.

Travis and I began this blog in an attempt to try to keep you all up-to-date on where we are in our adoption journey, and while that still remains the goal, we're finding we don't have as many updates as we once did––especially since our agency decided to do away with waitlist numbers.

But it's more than that. Honestly, sometimes it's simply difficult to have to say the same thing time after time, yearning to be able to give a different answer. "Still waiting," we say over and over. "Still waiting."

We are happy and so blessed to have so many people care about our adoption, and honestly we love when you ask for an update. So, keep asking! In your questions, we hear your heart and are unbelievable blessed to know our journey has impacted many of you so deeply. Many have become vested in what we're doing, and honestly, if this were an easy road for us, I'm not sure that would have happened to the same extent. God sure does beautiful things through difficulty and trials.

Still, giving updates can become tiresome.

We see people at the grocery store–– "Still waiting."
At our girls' school–– "Still waiting."
At family gatherings–– "Still waiting."
Children's birthday parties–– "Still waiting."
Around town–– "Still waiting."

Oh, how we wish we could have a different response for you all––for us, for our babies––but the fact of the matter is, we're still waiting. And honestly, we don't have any idea when our wait will stop.

Waiting can be very difficult, and in a wait like ours––a wait that seems to last for eternity––it's easy to fall into moments of frustration. Still, our faith tells us to hold on. We know our babies are coming. We know the One who promised is faithful. During each and every dark moment we face in this thing––each time we begin to question Is this ever going to happen?––God faithfully shows up, spurring us on toward His goal for us. Honestly, I believe this journey is just as much about our spiritual growth as it is about having more children to love and call our own.

But it has been tough––let me tell you––this has been a very difficult, long journey, one that is far from over. Still, we are thankful for all its fruit. The compassion we've seen take root and grow in our girls. The patience grown in us all. The faith God is carefully cultivating and growing. It's a beautiful thing, this process of sanctification. Blessing upon blessing has been poured out upon us, and for this we're beyond thankful to a God who knows what we need, even more than we do.

So please, still ask. Ask us where we're at. Ask us if there's any news. We really do appreciate talking to you about it. Honestly, I think it does drive us forward by way of having a constant reminder of what we have to look forward to. And until the day we bring our children home––the day that has been ordained since the beginning of time by our amazing God––we will be "still waiting..."

Here's what we've been up to the last FIVE months (Can you believe it's been so long!):

Avery was in the talent show!

Camping






The Reno Rodeo



Horseback Riding Lessons!



Beach Day! Sand Harbor, Lake Tahoe

The kids first backpacking trip (Overnight!) with the Owens





The First Day of School!
(Ella––second grade, Avery––first grade)

Avery's Birthday! She's 6!




"Sisters Necklace"

Look at that amazing daddy!

Fall Soccer

Ella's Birthday Party! She's 8! (How did that happen?!?)


And that about does it. Until next time...

Monday, June 10, 2013

May Update


Alright, so we're going to have to do our monthly update a little different from here on out. Toward the end of May, we received word from All God's Children International (AGCI), our adoption agency, that there will be a change to how our progress will be reported to us, and the way we update our progress on our blog will reflect this change.

Here's an exert from the email we received from AGCI recently:

"We are still uncertain of how long any one family will wait as it depends on so many factors, age and gender of a child, a family’s openness to special needs, etc.  When AGCI receives a referral for a child, we begin by looking at the date a family’s dossier was registered and then by looking at a family’s desired parameters.  This has always been AGCI’s process so it will remain consistent and unchanged.  Please remember, AGCI is a child centered agency and is looking for the most appropriate family for a particular child, which has many considerations.  In the past, we have also provided families with a waitlist number.  These numbers are actually fairly inaccurate as families are actually placed by the date the dossier was registered and their desired parameters.  A family could be on multiple lists, further skewing the reality of the waitlist number.  For example, some families are simultaneously on the boy list, the girl list and the sibling list.  While we know that it can be exciting to have a “number” and watch for progress, these numbers do not reflect the actual total number of waiting families.  For this reason, effectively immediately, AGCI will discontinue the use of this current number system.  Instead, we will continue to provide monthly program updates based on dates that a family’s dossier was registered, which will provide a more accurate timeframe of movement toward referral. Now, in the program update, AGCI will provide information such as that a placement occurred for a family with a registered dossier date of November 2011 (for example)."
While we began our adoption journey in September 2010, we spent the first six months preparing our homestudy, our dossier, and getting US CIS approval (immigration approval for our children), so we were not officially put on the wait list until April 2011, which means our registered dossier approval date is April 2011. So, we'll be using this date to gauge our progress from now on.

We received our May update on Friday, and there were four referrals (for AGCI only) during the month of May:
1. Infant girl (dossier approved July 2010)
2. Infant girl (dossier approved September 2010)
3. Infant girl (dossier approved October 2010)
4. Older boy (dossier approved May 2011)

AGCI has 4 families traveling to Ethiopia this week and 3 families came home with their children in the month of May! 

All of this indicates that we could have up to a 7 month wait to receive our referral, but it could be shorter or longer. Our expanded referral parameters could possibly shorten this wait, but ultimately, it's all in God's hands who will faithfully complete that which He called us to, so once again we rest on His perfect timing!

So that's it. The change is a bit confusing at first, but it does ultimately make sense. 

Here's what we've been up to since our last update:

One more picture from our Napa trip! It's so cute, I just had to share!

 Mother's Day
Intermission During the Play "Oliver"




Mother's Day at Church

Ella's First Grade Music Performance


Bed Head 


Ella's Field Trip



Date Day!



 Our Girls

Avery's "Nerd" Glasses
Until next month...

Saturday, May 11, 2013

March and April Waitlist Numbers and Update

It's been a while! Quite a while, in fact, but we're back with our updates and with some news as well. And no. We don't have a referral yet (boo!).

But first, the numbers...

Girl:
November - 26
December - 26
January - 22
February - 21
March - 19
April - 18

Boy:

November - 19
December - 16
January - 15
February - 15
March - 14
April - 13


Siblings:

November - 7
December - 4
January - 4
February - 4
March - 4
April - 4

We've been slow going for a while now, as you can see. I suppose that's why I haven't been motivated to post an update lately. But honestly, though both Travis and I have gone through our moments of doubt and moments of great faith throughout our adoption journey (which we've been pursuing for close to three years now), I know we are where we're intended to be. 

God's timing is alway perfect. And while we can only guess at the reasons our adoption is taking so long, we can rest assured that our family (including our new little ones) are in God's capable and loving hands. 

Now for the news: Each year, we need to update and renew our homestudy. We usually begin the process each November, and each time we renew, we revisit our referral parameters. 

Last November, we went through the usual process, but for the first time, Travis mentioned that he thought we should expand our referral parameters to 36 months for all lists, which would mean that we would be open to being referred a girl or boy 0-36 months old at the time of referral or a set of two siblings up to 36 months old. 

My response? No.

I wasn't for it. I had always imagined bringing a baby home, and there was just so much more to think about with older children (It sounds so calloused when I say it out loud!). 

So, we kept our parameters as they were: 0-12 months for a girl or boy and 0-24 months for siblings. 

Recently, however, Travis began a new job (which is a huge blessing from God), which requires us to do an addendum to our homestudy. I contacted our social worker, got the ball rolling, and passed it along to Travis who would have to discuss his new job with our social worker. 

Once the draft of the addendum was complete, our agency emailed it to me for review. I read through the document, and it all looked fine. But as I read the words, "There are no changes to the referral parameters," something inside of me happened.

Still, I tried to respond to our agency, telling them to proceed, but I couldn't send the email. Travis and I need to talk, I thought. What's interesting, however, is that I still didn't want to change our parameters. I was still fighting it.

Travis came home, we discussed our parameters, but still, I told him I didn't want to change them. Why, then, Travis asked, was I bringing it up again? I knew his position. He wanted to expand them, and I didn't. Yet, I couldn't send this email keeping them as they were.

As I'm sure you can imagine, it's been a long road for us, and we really would like our children to be home with us, but I didn't want this to be motivation to expend our parameters. I didn't want impatience to motivate our decision. But after talking with Travis, he assured me this had no baring on his desire to make this change.

Travis and I continued to talk. We prayed. I sought counsel from close friends. And at the end of it all, it became so clear. 

We were being called to change our parameters.

And so this is where we currently find ourselves. It's quite a change, but both Travis and I believe we may be called to adopt an older child. 

This means we may be bringing home a three year old (or two for that matter)! 

And here's what we've been up to since our last update in February:

"Toothless" - Ella lost two teeth in two days!

Easter!







 Things that make a mommy's heart melt: 
"I'm happy that you are my  mom." - Avery
I am so blessed!

 I have a dream... "that I can teach people about Jesus to help make the world better." - Ella
My prayer and dream as well! 

Mommy and Ella "special time"


Last Ski Day of the Year


 Avery and "Wolfie"

Spring has sprung.

Exploring and Park Days with Friends 




Our Tulip Bed

The Sacramento Zoo





Our Trip to the Wine Country









Okay. We're going to try to be better at posting each month! Until next month...