Friday, June 29, 2012

Another Son For Our Family!

This month, Scott and I have been in continuous prayer.  We had to walk away from Cullen mid-May, and didn't know what we'd do with our approval to bring home two children.  It was hard for me to think about adding another child to our family, because I felt guilty that Cullen was still waiting for a family, and I felt like I was betraying him.

Then, early in June, I saw a post by a social worker whose life revolves totally around orphans, whether it's taking care of the ones she's adopted herself, or advocating for ones without families, or tackling piles of paperwork for the many families she's helping to bring their own children home.

Her words were: "I was asked this morning by someone in an EE country, 'Why has no one chosen this child? Why has he waited so long? What is wrong with him?' Those questions break my heart. My guess is that he's still waiting because he is a boy. The girls this age w/Ds are chosen very quickly. He's been waiting 15 months :("

As I looked at the picture, I wondered the same things.  Why had no one chosen him?  His dark brown almond eyes stared into the camera, his fine hair brushing just above his eyes, so much like Elijah's did when he was a baby.  I showed the photo to Scott, and he asked for more.  We got a few more photos, including one I remember seeing of him as a toddler.  And then we prayed.  All month, about whether or not he was ours.  

We didn't want to rush, we wanted to take our time, really wait to hear God on this.  We prayed that God would make it very clear if the little boy was ours.  Throughout June, money kept coming in, from the dolls, from my commission for renting my stepdad's vacation properties, selling a few things online.  Every time I turned around, I had more money to add to the jar.

And Thursday, after being still, being quiet all month, I met Scott to sign and notarize documents, and then I wired money to pay the commitment fees.  Commitment fees we didn't have at the beginning of the month.

So, what does this mean?  It means we're trusting God to provide, just as He always has.  But we're yes people, and when we hear "Go," we say "Yes."

Thank you all for your prayers, support, and love for our family!

A Girl and a Bear

There's a story my children have always asked to have read to them.  For years, it's been one of their favorites, and just the other night, Elijah requested it again.  Ayden read it to him, happy to enjoy the sweet story once again.

It's one many of you moms will know, but I'll summarize it anyway.

There was a little teddy bear, Corduroy, who lived in a department store.  He waited with all the other dolls and toys to be chosen and taken home, but no one ever chose him.

One morning a little girl, Lisa, saw this bear, and knew he was the one she had always wanted.  Her mother commented that he looked old and was missing a button, and they left the store.  Corduroy was sad, but had a grand adventure looking for his missing button that night.

When Corduroy woke the next morning, still without a button, still looking old, there was the face of the little girl who loved him, despite his faults, his "defects".  She had returned with all the money from her piggy bank to give Corduroy a home.  Lisa left the store, carrying Corduroy in her arms.  Back in Lisa's room, Corduroy looked around and said, "This must be home.  I know I've always wanted a home!"

This week, my doll is in honor of Lisa, the little girl who loved her bear just as he was.  It's in honor of all the moms and dads who are working so hard to bring their own Corduroys home, emptying their piggy banks, loving their sweeties regardless of their DNA or physical capabilities.

Meet Lisa, with Corduroy (book not included... my children would cry):

Bidding for Lisa and Corduroy is now open on the facebook auction page, and will run until Wednesday evening, at 8:00 EDT.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Heart-to-Heart

I told a friend of mine just yesterday that one of the things I am so thankful for in our church is that, while I feel too overwhelmed sometimes to just flip my Bible to a page and read and glean some deep meaning from it, every Sunday I'm given the opportunity to dig deeper into the Word throughout the next week.

So, today I was feeling beyond frustrated (over some non-adoption things).  I prayed, telling God where I am in my human-ness, my frustration, and I heard back, "Of course you're frustrated over this, I am not in them."  And I felt drawn back to what my pastor preached on Sunday.

I turned to Ephesians 4, and read:

17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.
20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”[d]: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. 

And as frustrated as I was before, I am so thankful for the relationship I have with my Father, who takes the time to calm me down, talks to me through His word, and then guides me in what I need to work on myself.  You know, Abba, I'm really enjoying our heart-to-hearts.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Monday Morning Update 6.25.12

Last week is sort of a blur... it's funny how time can feel like it's moving so slowly, and yet I look back and wonder where the week, or month, or even the year has gone.

And because I didn't do the best job of Monday Morning Updating last week, the big news from the week before is that I read and made my changes to our homestudy draft!  This was after I sent over some MORE last-minute required paperwork, like life insurance policies, health insurance coverage information, and updated salary information. 

Now that that's out of the way, here's last week's happenings!

M: I took the big kids to the doctor to get their TB test results signed, and forwarded the clearances to our social worker.  And I harassed called Sadie's allergist again to find out if she could have the TB test.

T: Still waiting to hear from the allergist.....

W: We went on a 9-mile hike in the Grayson Highlands of Virginia, to the highest point in the state, at Mt. Rogers.  This is an annual tradition for our family, but we missed the rhododendron blooming this year.  Still a gorgeous hike, where we could see God's creativity displayed for miles and miles!

R: Spoke with the allergist, and she said Sadie should be fine to have the TB test, so we popped in to the walk-in clinic and 3 nurses came in, prepared to hold a screaming toddler down.  Sadie just lay there, smiling at everyone, not making a peep, and the nurses were shocked!

F: Listed the newest doll, Gigi, with her own little doll, Gemma.  I changed the auctions to start on Fridays, since the Reece's Rainbow blog features families who are fundraising each Friday.  The auction will end on Wednesday, so you can follow the link to the Doll Adoption Auction.

Sa:  Popped into the walk-in clinic for Sadie's TB test to be signed, and then headed out of town on a day trip to visit Scott's family.  We are FINALLY done paper-chasing for our homestudy!!! (Which means we can focus completely on paper-chasing for our dossier.)

Well, that's last week!  Onward we go!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Updates, Waiting, Keeping Busy

I'd be lying if I said this process, that seems to drag on endlessly, was tiring.  Honestly, I'd rather be paper-chasing, feeling like something is actually being accomplished, than just sitting here waiting.


So, here's what's been going on while we wait.  Per some new Virginia regulations, we had to have our kids tested for tuberculosis, as well.  For Ayden and Elijah, that was no big deal.  But I was reading a lot of mixed information online about egg allergies and TB testing, and I was concerned for Sadie, either that she would have a reaction or get a false positive on the test.  Our social worker said we could avoid having her tested if her allergist would write a note that Sadie had an egg allergy and didn't recommend that she have the test.  We took Ayden and Elijah for their tests, and two days later got their signed paperwork that they are TB-free.

A week and 3 phone calls later, I finally hear back from the allergist that she will not be writing a letter for Sadie, and we should just have her tested.  So, I took my 23-month old to the doctor to be tested for tuberculosis today.  She did perfectly, not a wince, not a cry.  The nurses weren't thrilled that such a little one needed the test, so we grumbled together about the new requirements, crunchy allergists, etc. 

This is the very last step to getting the homestudy finished.  I've already read the first draft and made my changes, so once we take Sadie back to the doctor, the last blank will be filled in and the homestudy draft will head to our placing agency for their changes specific to the country we're adopting from.  After that, it will head to our homestudy agency for their changes specific to Virginia.  Then we'll get the finished homestudy, and can move to the next step.


The waiting is hard, because we can't plan for anything.  Scott has seminars he'd like to attend for work, and they all seem to be in September, October, or November.  He calls me from work to see if I think it will be okay for him to go ahead and register, and I just have to answer "I don't know."

I am the chairwoman of a very large local fundraiser, and the first Saturday in October is the big day.  I'm trying to do everything as early as possible so I can hand the event over to my co-chair if I'll be out of the country with little warning.  If I miss the event, I will be the first chairwoman to do so since the fundraiser started 44 years ago. 

So, here's my current thinking for our timing, based on what I've been told by other families and USCIS agents.  Everything keeps changing, so don't hold me to it.

Homestudy finished: July 6 (two months late)
I-800A approval: Sept. 21
Written referral to travel:  Nov. 2
Travel: mid-November

So, at this point, Scott can go to his seminar in September, I'll be at my event in October, and we'll be missing Elijah's 7th birthday.  I'm just trusting in God's timing for our paperwork and travel, but on different days I feel higher or lower levels of frustration about it.

Keeping Busy

I work for my mom and step-dad, renting out their three vacation properties, and this month has been especially busy.  I joked with my mom that VRBO was going to pay for this adoption, but in all seriousness, it is really helping.  We likely have some upcoming expenses, and it would be so nice to not have to fundraise for those, to give all our friends a break from us harassing them about our newest fundraiser.

I needed a day away from the house, so we packed our backpacks, grabbed our hiking boots, and drove 2.5 hours to the Grayson Highlands, to hike along the Appalachian Trail to Mt. Rogers, the tallest mountain in Virginia.  9 miles out-and-back, and a full day of peace with my husband and three kids.

I'm still making dolls, and I'm moving the auction start date from Monday to Friday, since the Reece's Rainbow blog posts their family fundraisers on Fridays.  The auctions are going very well, and we'll get this adoption funded, one doll at a time!

Well, that's it!  Now back to the grindstone.  And the waiting. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Trusting God

My alarm will go off in one hour, at the way too early time of 4:30 a.m.  My whole life, I've worried that I'd sleep through my alarm when I need to be up for something important, and it's no different tonight.

I'm leaving to go on a weekend trip with 40-something amazing girls and moms, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouts.  And I don't want to miss that bus.  I don't want Ayden to miss that bus.  So, I can't sleep.

My first thought when I couldn't sleep was, "Oh good, I can do just a little more cleaning so Scott won't have to worry about it while I'm gone."  But as I was getting ready to clean, I just felt God saying, "Hey, come hang out with me for a little while."

I've been praying for several days now, well, really several weeks, but very purposefully for several days.  And I've been struggling with fear.  It all goes back to holding that key, that might or might not open that door.  The one we're standing in front of.  My struggle is a result of the seeds of doubt and confusion planted by Satan, and my inner voice is starting to sound a bit chaotic.  "Are you sure you can handle possibly finding another dead end?"  "What if this isn't personal fear, but instead it's God's way of saying this isn't the right door?"  "What if this is God's plan, am I ready for that?"

So, I decided that this quiet time, where I could fold the last load of laundry, or put away the dishes in the dishwasher, or scrub my baseboards, was a great time to hang out with my Abba, my Dad.  I mean, what a great sounding board He is when I'm struggling.  He listens to my fears, He's patient with me, and I always feel so much better afterwards. 

I prayed for a bit, then I went to look for a clip of a sermon I watched several months ago.  Instead, I found a sermon by Francis Chan on being fearless.  On not letting Satan, or the world, turn our confidence into doubt, into not answering God's call.  After listening, I just feel this peace.  My mind's questions of doubt were answered with "Then I will be there."

And I trust Him.  Because He's always been there.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Opening Doors

I'm not sure about the rest of you, but with us, this is our typical order of events:

1. Hear God saying "Go!"
2. Ask God "Where?"
3. Get the answer, "Just go" with our metaphorical key in hand.
4. Start trying out different doors to see if they're the right one.
5. Get a bit frustrated at not finding the right one quickly.
6. Think we've found the right door, start walking down the hall and find a dead end.
7. Go back and ask God "Are you sure?"
8. Hear "Yes, go."
9. Try other doors until you find one that opens, get frustrated again.
10. See a door that looks like it just might be the one.

At this point (where we are now), we're looking at that door.  We know what we'll find on the other side of the door, if the key will just fit.  We're scared to see if the key fits.  What if it does?  What if it doesn't.

So, here we are, and we need to be covered in prayer.  We want to be able to make a confident decision about whether or not to try the key on this door, to see if it opens.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Teamwork Tuesday 6.5.12

There are so many advocacy groups, and one I've recently been added to is the Teamwork Tuesday Bloggers.  A group of ladies commit to blogging about a particular child each week, in the hopes that one of us will be connected to that child's future parents.

This week, it's Benji's turn! 

Benji is six years old, and he was born prematurely.  He has a speech delay, but he's in school and receiving therapy.  Let me tell you something about preemies... they're fighters!  And speech therapy?  That's Sadie's favorite part of our week! 

Think Benji may be yours?  Here are the general qualifications for adding him to your family:
  • No more than 5 children at home
  • Married couples only, must be married 5 years
  • Parents should be 30-50 years of age and in good health 
Do you meet all those qualifications?  I've got even better news!  His country is relatively low-cost, and there's only ONE trip of 4-7 days!  If you think Benji may be yours, get in touch with anyone from the Reece's Rainbow group! 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Monday Morning Update 6.4.12

M:  Daisy was the doll of the week, and she became very popular, very quickly!

T:  We had our in-home visit with our social worker, and it went really well!  Chemicals are locked up, smoke detectors are working, we have screens in the windows, and the kids (who got their own interviews) understand what it means to adopt and what it means to have Down syndrome.

Our FBI prints arrived in the mail!  Thanks to some wonderful advice from the experts who have gone before us, we'll be mailing our documents to a courier, who will take our letters to the Dept. of State to have them apostilled.  (We could mail them to the Dept. of State and wait 8 weeks for them to come back, or we could drive to Washington D.C. in the middle of the night to get there when the doors open at 7:30 a.m., or we could send them to the courier, who arrives at the Dept. of State at 5:30 a.m. to make sure they're apostilled the same day!)

F:  It was a busy day in the Pickett house!  It takes a bit of preparation to be ready to welcome a family of 9 into your home for the night, so the kids helped me with changing and washing sheets, and Ayden even mopped the floor while Sadie had speech therapy and I had a progress evaluation with the coordinator.

I had an interview with our local Boys & Girls Club teens, who are following the beginning of our adoption and the end of the Rhodes' adoption.  The video they're putting together should be finished this coming week, and I'm really excited to see how it turns out!

The Rogers family arrived that evening!  I'm fairly certain that Scott was expecting mass chaos with 14 people under one roof, but we had a great time!  Mel and Erika did a Norwex show, demonstrating some amazing eco- and kid-friendly cleaning products, and around $175 from the show will be going to our adoption fund!  As much fun as I had playing with my goodies this past week, I can't wait until I have the rest of my stuff!  Hosting has many, many perks!  (Oh, and Mel, thanks for my Sharpie-free dining table and my clean oven!)

Oh, and Daisy is the second doll heading out-of-state, and she sold for $60!

Sa:  This was a day we've been waiting for!  Mandy Rhodes was flying back from picking up Joseph and Samuel, and there was quite a crowd ready to welcome them!  Praise God for setting the lonely in their family, and for their obedience!  What a beautiful family!

If you haven't heard of 'Fifty Envelopes', there's a tab at the top of the page that describes it.  Envelope #1 is DONE!!!  Thank you Shelby, for filling an envelope to help with our adoption expenses!  (Ahem... look at the ticker, we are almost 1/3 to our next funding goal!!!)

Su:  It was back to work, getting ready for the next doll auction, on the new facebook page!  This one was designed by a young lady, and made with help from her mom.  She is appropriately named Emma.  Sweet, isn't she?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Giveaway Winners!

I don't remember how much money came in during this giveaway, because I also received cash, but I'm excited that this giveaway has finally come to an end!

The winners will be contacted in order to see which prize they choose, but here's the list!  If you see your name, I'll be in touch as soon as soon as I hear from the people in front of you!

(Prizes will be added under names as they are chosen.)

Martha W.
Kristen W.
Traci M. 
Jen S.

Mandy R.

Karen B.
Barbara W.
Cindy H.

Thank you to everyone who donated items to the giveaway, donated money, shared on facebook, and prayed for us!

Trail Magic

We love hiking.  We love standing at the top of the mountain, looking out in awe at the creativity of our Creator.  The colors He paints across the sky, the details He added to the trees, the rocks, even the bugs.

We've read accounts from other long-distance hikers, and one thing that each one mentions is trail magic.  They'll find themselves in low supply of water, and still far from the next place to fill their bottles.  They'll come to a crossing, and find jugs of water.  Or they've sprained an ankle and a kind person takes them to their home to rest.  The stories of trail magic are too many to count.

There's a bit of trail magic (er... community magic) happening in the adoption world, too.  Strangers, people you've never met, or maybe people you do know who wish to remain anonymous, who give selflessly.  Seriously, look at our grant.  $1,460.  I know where about $350 of that came from.  The rest of the money, I really don't know.  And all our fundraisers through ChipIn... I may have gotten emails about each donation, but there were many names I didn't recognize.

When I read about trail magic in every hiking book, I knew there was still a lot of good in the world, even in the little things, like fresh water in just the right spot on the trail.  Through this adoption, I know there is very much good in the world.  Not just in the money given to our grant and to our fundraisers, but also in the kind words from dear friends and people I've never met, and even surprise packages in the mail.

There was a bit of community magic at my house yesterday.  Earlier in the week, I mentioned that Charlie's Soap has been the only detergent that made my towels smell fresh, and yesterday evening, the UPS driver delivered a 32 lb. container of Charlie's Soap detergent to my door, enough to last 3 years, doing a load of laundry a day.  There was no name included, no one to thank for this kind deed.

The world is a good place, full of good people.  So, I have a challenge.  I don't know what prize I'll give yet, but I'll work on that.  Probably a Visa or Amazon gift card.  Running from Friday, June 1 to Sunday, June 3.  Do a bit of community magic, whatever you can do.  Go to ALDI and put a few quarters in the carts, go put change in a drink machine.  Hide a dollar in the toy section of the Dollar Store.  Give a meal to the homeless person on the corner.  Make a donation to an adopting family.  Big or small, do some magic.  Then comment here (it's moderated, so I won't publish the comments) and tell me what you did.

On Monday morning, I'll draw a name from the list of participants.  I promise, you'll feel so good after giving.  But I'll also warn you, it's contagious.  You may find yourself giving a little here, a little there.  And that's okay!