The Garrisons

Follow our journey on adoption #3 for child #8!

Friday, July 30, 2010

WARNING: Ramblings from an emotional mom...

So, things are changing around here....meaning, my kids are growing up. I guess things are always changing, but at times it seems more noticeable or visible than others. To start, our oldest (Haley, 14) was gone this week to CIY (Christ in Youth) conference. I was so glad that she had the opportunity to go, and am so grateful for the many volunteers that spent their week with 140 teenagers from our church who made the trip. As I dropped her off, I really couldn't believe I was there. Have you had those moments?...those moments where it hits you that your children really are THAT old and are growing up THAT quickly?? I looked around at the other kids going on the trip...yep, they were teenagers. They seemed so grown up. I glanced back at Haley ...yep, she was looking pretty grown up, too.

I remember when my children were little, older women would stop to talk to them and remind me of how quickly the time would pass, and how I should enjoy every moment. I believed them as much as I could, and I tried to soak in the moments. But, they were right. Time passes too quickly. I mean, I feel like I just dropped Haley off at her first day of pre-school, and now she is in high school. It's crazy to me. Four more years until 18...? Doesn't seem possible.

My other two 'big kids', Hayden and Emma, are going to middle school this year. We homeschooled last year, but all three big kids are returning to school. I am having mixed feelings about this, too. I really did enjoy having my kids home. I enjoy them as people and loved the conversations about all of the 'good stuff' we, life decisions, relationships, etc. I will treasure the year we spent together getting to know each other on a deeper level, and adjusting to our new family dynamics once Elijah was home. It was a special time and there is a part of me that wishes it hadn't been so short. This is the right decision for our family, but I'm just going to miss having them around.

I am beyond grateful for the four children God has blessed us with. I could not be prouder of who they are becoming...their faith, maturity, and responsibility. Being home with them this past year gave me a very real sense of who they are, and what they believe in. It also showed me that they know who they are, too. So, you see, my sadness has nothing to do with regret or has everything to do with how I love these kids and cherish my time with them. It's just going a little quickly for me.

And then there is heart skips a beat even at the thought. Somewhere in Ethiopia I have two more children...children I long to bring home. Children I think of every day and pray that they are safe and have all that they need. Children I know are most likely experiencing a difficult season in their life - one of loss, grief, and hardship. I pray that God will hold them close and comfort them through whatever difficulty is happening that will bring them into our family. Adoption always begins with a loss...that is a very difficult, but very real reality. I want them to know we are waiting for them, and that while we can't take away the hardship they've faced, we want to love them and give them a forever family.

Parenting is hard, isn't it? It's the greatest joy of my life, the thing that has taught me the most, and the hardest thing I've ever done. So far, I am finding the most difficult thing for me is letting go. Of course not ever completely, but releasing just enough at just the right times so that they have that balance of achieving independence all while knowing you are still there. I sometimes have to fight to let go just the right amount and not hold on too tightly.

I am grateful for a God who loves these children more perfectly than I ever could. I am trusting Him as they navigate new schools, make new friends, and take the next step in growing up. I am grateful that I can trust Him with my kids half way around the world, and know He is working on their behalf to bring them home...just as He did with Elijah. I am grateful that He is there even when I cannot be. I am thankful that they are His children first...and filled with gratitude that He saw fit to make me their mom.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Will you say YES....?

I found this video on a friend's blog, and had to repost....will YOU say YES...?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

We like progress!!

Well, this was a week of adoption progress, and that certainly felt good!
We were able to send our dossier to our family coordinator at AWAA to be approved last week! She reviews dossiers on Monday, so we overnighted it on Thursday to be sure it would be there on Friday, in time to be reviewed on Monday. We are hoping that everything will look fine, and it will be authenticated and then sent on to Ethiopia! It feels great to have those papers outta here, and exciting to know that after approval, it will be in Ethiopian hands!

I spoke with our agency this past week regarding our request as well. I had some questions about placement of children, and all that goes into that consideration. We are requesting two children between the ages of 0-5 (or 6?)....either siblings or unrelated children. They will most likely both be older than Elijah. We have discussed whether or not it matters to us if the children are related, and decided to leave that decision up to God (He already knows who our children are anyway!). If we adopted them at different times they would be unrelated, and have different stories, and we would be dealing with those things anyway. The only difference here is that they are coming home at the same time. So, we remain open and are excited to see what our referral will bring! We are also leaving genders open as well (although it would be very neat and tidy if we got one girl and one boy...we would have the bedroom thing all figured I'm pretty sure that's not what we're getting! LOL).

We do not know how long to expect for a referral. We were told that there have been other families who have come along and said they would like two children, and are also open to unrelated children, so we should expect to wait longer than maybe we originally thought for a referral of this kind. So....six months....longer...? We just don't know. Our family coordinator gave us the standby advice of "expect the wait to be longer, and then be surprised if it's sooner". I think it would be awesome to have a referral by Christmas, but we'll see. I don't want to get my hopes set on any kind of time line. (BTW - this wait time is not because there are not many children that need families, but because our agency only works with a certain number of orphanages and there is MUCH to do to get a child paper ready before referral....there are also many times complications with paperwork or details to be filled in before they are ready to be adopted).

It feels good to move on in the process...and to not be getting things signed, notarized, certified, and copied. Now, we just wait, but I'm not sure which is harder - the working or the waiting!

Thank you for your prayers for our family, and for our precious children still in Africa. Please pray for them - that their needs will be met, their bellies full, their health good, and that God will send someone to comfort their hearts in what is most likely a very difficult time for them, whatever their story is. We'd appreciate it!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I Wanna Get Back There....

I found myself this evening reading thru a couple of new blogs. It just so happens that these bloggers are relatively new to the adoption world and SO excited and ON FIRE about what they are can hear the passion in their voice and the purpose in their calling. It has caused me to reflect a little bit about where I am, and how I long to remember the purpose and passion with which I began this journey.

Just for clarification sake, let me just tell you that I have not lost my passion for adoption, or the cause of the orphan. I also still know this is part of my purpose, and am not questioning that.....but maybe the purpose and passion have been a bit taken for granted lately....or maybe muddled in with some of the other emotions I've been feeling.

As we enter the final stage of finishing our dossier (waiting on ONE. MORE. PAPER.), I find myself wondering about what our referral will look like and how these children will fit into our family. I have probably read more than I should about RAD, adjustments of older children, and difficult adoption stories. This has all been in the interest of trying to become 'prepared'. However, I have found that in my efforts to be prepared, I've lost my focus. I've taken my eyes from where they should be - on God and His calling for our lives - and put them on myself.

It's not wrong to be prepared - it's good. It's not wrong to think through what is best for your family, and how it will affect everyone involved. However, I have found, at least for myself, there is a bit of a danger there. It's tempting for me to listen to other's opinions and forget that God's is the only one that matters. It's easy for me to get wrapped up in my own fears and worry about things that aren't happening, and may or may not ever happen. It's easy for me to think about my own desires and make this all about me.

I wanna get back there....back to that place I was when I first discovered God's heart for the orphan....back to the place where my focus was on Him and what He was asking of our family....back to the place where my faith assured me that even if hard things came, He would see me through. I don't think I've really left that place, but I do think that I've kept my eyes on my own fears long enough that it temporarily diminished the passion. So, I'm workin' my way back. I'm going to take my eyes off of myself, and focus on who God is and His promises....because I know when I do, things always seem clearer.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."
Joshua 1:9

Saturday, July 10, 2010

My Emma

In June we celebrated Emma's 11th birthday!! I can hardly believe she is 11 already (don't we always say that??), but we are so proud of the young lady she is becoming!

Emma is the youngest of our three 'big kids' and is the life of our home. She is outgoing and fun, and has a heart of gold. This is the girl that has a heart for anybody or any animal she thinks needs help or feels sad. We have saved many an animal from our basement windows, and helped an injured bird in our backyard by taking it to the local vet med school. She loves animals and thinks she wants to be a veterinarian someday. Emma has a kind heart for kids, too. When we sat the kids down to talk to them about our second adoption and the possibility of adopting two children this time, she was ALL for it. When I asked her how many children we should adopt, she said, "MOM! There are 147 MILLION orphans!" (as if, silly question - she thinks we should adopt many). This is also the same girl who came to us during the week Nathan and I were making a final decision about our first adoption (she did NOT know we were having this conversation at all) and told us that she really wanted to help take care of kids in Africa and thought she might be a missionary in an orphanage someday. She has a huge heart and we love that about her.

Emma is in a local chidren's choir and loves to sing. She also plays piano and is interested in drama. Between rehearsals and practicing, and trying to take care of the world, she keeps busy. :) We love her zest for life and the energy she brings to our home. We are so proud of her, and count her among our greatest blessings!