adoption update

it’s been a while since I’ve blogged anything about our adoption proceedings. But most of that is because there has been no news. No news other than Puelston Child #3 was coming the old-fashioned way and we were hoping to wrap up our home study ASAP.

Well…just about the time we were completing the last bit of paperwork for our home study, the country we were pursuing (DRC), started seriously slowing down adoptions and paperwork processing and other things relating to bringing children home from there. Because the situation was pretty volatile, we decided it would be wise to pursue a different avenue.

Enter Ethiopia. Adoption from Ethiopia is more stable, due to similar adoption growing pains occurring there several years ago. We know several families whom have brought home children from Ethiopia and felt like it was a good choice. So all our home study paperwork was geared toward Ethiopia. Hooray! So glad to have something a little more concrete and completed.

We narrowed down an agency choice (since our home study agency here in MN doesn’t do adoptions from Ethiopia) and spoke with them and they suggested waiting to begin the paper trail until Baby #3 was around 6 months old – the process can often go quickly, and it wouldn’t be good to be in a place where Kyle and I needed to travel to Ethiopia twice in three months when I couldn’t leave a baby. And it would also give us time to settle into a family of five, bond with the little person, etc. – all Very Good Reasons to wait.

But in the meantime, we certainly could begin putting together the money needed for each step along the way. It’s not like $30,000 was growing in our backyard, and we haven’t quite got that in savings either. 😉 So my mind has been working on fundraiser ideas, places I can cut back on spending and other assorted ways to get the money ready.

I finally received a hard copy of our final home study document a few weeks ago. The day after it came, I was super surprised by some news as I scrolled through Facebook that morning. The agency we were planning to use for bringing home a child from Ethiopia announced that their Haiti program was accepting new families…AND that Haiti’s requirements for adoptive families had changed.

Pause for back story: the first thing that sparked this adoption hope in my heart was a photo of a little girl sitting in the dirt outside a medical clinic in Port au Prince in 2010. Just after the earthquake devastated that already fragile country, Kyle went there to minister with a team from our church. His photos and stories gripped me and I wondered who would care for the hundreds, yes thousands of newly made orphans in that country. I wanted, I hoped, I prayed that we could be a family to care for at least one.

But as I researched Haitian adoption, I quickly set that little desire on a shelf in my heart because we were too young and hadn’t been married long enough for their requirements. Not to mention that things were super up in the air for a couple years after with families having a hard time getting paperwork processed and the government/infrastructure there being so disabled. So we looked at other places with dire needs, and found ourselves looking at the DRC in Africa.

So you can imagine my delight when I read that Haiti had set the “age” for adoptive parents down to 30 and that now a couple had only to be married five years instead of ten! This was exciting news. To be eligible to adopt from the country that had first stirred my heart toward caring for the orphan…it would be a kind gift of Providence.

That same day, devastating news came for many families adopting from the DRC – the final authority that issues exit letters for adopted children announced a suspension of all activity in their dept. for up to a year (presumably while they straighten out some things they are concerned about). Since then, they’ve agreed to issue exit letters for some kids that received visas before the suspension, but this is still a major blow to families hoping to bring their children home soon.

I couldn’t help but wonder if we’d have been knee deep into an adoption in the DRC right at this moment if we hadn’t gotten pregnant. I paused and asked God if this was His way of keeping us available to adopt from Haiti instead. I don’t think He cares too much of the tiny specific minutia of our hope to “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly”…we seek to be obedient to His call on our lives and to go where He sends us – in ALL Things, not just adoption. So whether we adopted from a central African country, Haiti or Kazakhstan, we can obey and He will be glorified.

But I do truly believe He is intimately involved in the details of our lives and time and again He has clearly hemmed me in before and behind, in ways I can’t see at the time, to bring me to a place where He pours out His blessing in a gracious way that wouldn’t have happened if I’d “gotten MY way”.

So to wrap it all up with a God-sized bow, the same morning that I found out about Haiti’s change in requirements AND heard about the news of the DRC effectively shutting down adoptions for a time, the reading in my little daily devotional was from…Isaiah 30:18. 

Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you,
and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
blessed are all those who wait for him.

I’m not kidding or making things up when I say that every time, EVERY time, God wants to remind me of His timetable and goodness in situations where I wonder if and when He plans to show up, He drops that verse into my life somehow. A sermon. A song. Having it be THE verse that I read in the little Bible reading app. A blog post. Whatever – He uses it. It’s his love letter to me…the words I so need to rest upon.

And so…He waits. We wait. We are blessed as we wait for Him. We pray for our future child(ren) as we wait for them. He shows us mercy. He intervenes on our behalf. I smile at the way He speaks into my life. He is MY God.

The process to adopt from Haiti can take up to two years, which honestly will work out well as we certainly aren’t twiddling our thumbs with nothing going on in our lives here. Ahem. Raising/keeping alive the three children we have is a feat in itself!

However, as soon as we have our first pile of $$ saved up, we can start certain parts of the paperwork and make another step toward our Haitian sweetheart. I hope by spring we’ll be ready with a savings account loaded with what we need.

And if you’ve made it to the end of this insanely wordy post, you have my applause and a hug. You must really love me/us. 🙂 Thanks for the prayers. For the love. For buying t-shirts (which are still for sale by the way, though now their awesome Africa boundary is a signpost of our journey rather than a definition, I guess). For being excited with us about biological babies and adopted children and and and.

This winding road and the bumps and shifts along the way may feel confusing and not at all how Google maps would have planned the trip…but I know that at the end of it all, there’s grace. There is Love and Mercy and a God who pours it out like a waterfall upon His children. I can’t wait to see the view from the next pit stop… the next historic overlook on this crazy adventure. Kyle and I used to remind each other (in our oh so complicated days of long-distance dating and Kyle’s job hunt) “The steeper the climb, the better and more incredible the view”.

We’re gonna climb.

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a girls dream

About a month ago, I was asked to speak at the MOMS group I’m a part of at Bethlehem Baptist Church. We were asked to share a testimony of God’s work in our lives, and when I thought about it, I kept coming back to the story God has thus far written in my life…

You can hear the recording of that morning here – I was the first one out of three women that shared. I typed it all up and read it mostly because I didn’t trust my memory and I knew I might cry at a couple points. 🙂 Yes, I’m a crier. As I shared what is most definitely GOD’s story, though sometimes I call it mine…I hoped that it would encourage and bless those who heard it and lift the Lord high.

A Girl’s Dream 

Psalm 139:16 – All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD, and he willgive you the desires of your heart

As a young woman, I had a secret little dream that I never uttered to anyone. Mostly because it wasn’t a special dream or a big dream – it was just a simple dream of a girl. A dream that included marrying someone I had known all my life, finding a place to settle and STAY there, raising our babies near their grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins. A dream of a cute little house in a small town, or maybe a suburb, filled with joy and laughter and a life that brought joy to the Giver of all Good Things. I didn’t grow up near my extended family – my parents were MN transplants when they moved here when I was 2 years old. Family vacations always meant a road trip to FL, MS or TN to see my grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins. We had wonderful friends here in MN that became like family, but there was always that hole without family close by.

After high school, I found myself going off to college in Indiana and that was the beginning of a journey that would, strangely enough, or should I say gracefully enough, brought me back almost to where I started from. 

This adventure of grace took me to six states and a foreign country in the five years before I came “home”. The miles were many. The lessons were precious. And the ends of chapters were often cliffhangers, the story: beautiful.

In junior high, God very clearly called me to be a missionary to Australia. He never made it clear whether this was a life long call or a short term thing, so when He brought that call to pass in 2003, and then very clearly brought me back to the US a year later due to visa issues…I looked toward going back at some point in the near future. But God had other plans…

He dropped me in Orlando, FL when I returned to the US – 2000 miles from my MN home I had left a year prior. From there, I quickly I transitioned into a job at a camp in Washington State, working as a camp cook with a friend I went to college with.

The theme of my song during all this transition and moving across the country and back again was Joshua 1:9:” 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.”

And He was with me. He hemmed me in before and behind – clearly making my path before me. My Father was so faithfully by my side, leading me with His kindness and bringing me into communities of sweet believers that challenged and renewed my faith. He carried me through the lonely times of living by myself in a tiny 8 x32 foot trailer and starting over finding churches, community and the best place to get groceries. He brought amazing friends into my life that became like family when I was 2000 miles or more from home and my own flesh and blood. He provided all I needed and much more.

During this time, I received my first email from a guy I grew up with in MN named Kyle. We emailed back and forth for about 5 months and then one day in July of 2004, I woke up to the fact that I really, really liked him and I knew, with a settled peace in my heart that could only come from God, that I would marry him someday.

Two years and two months later, after a long-distance relationship and the accrual of many frequent flier miles, I happily became Kyle’s wife. I married a man I’d known since we were 10 year old kids on the playground. Our mom’s are best friends. Our families shared holidays and events. I’d known him for more of my life than not. God heard my simple dream and gave me the desire of my heart.

I moved back to Minnesota just before our wedding and for the past 5 years, we’ve lived in the same small town half an hour north of here. God gave us a beautiful home and in the same breath, an opportunity to use it for the Kingdom when a friend of mine needed a safe place for herself and her four children after her alcoholic husband abandoned them. But that’s a whole nother story of God’s work in our lives.

Today I’m no longer a weary traveler…God has given me the chance to sink some roots down – into a relationship with a wonderful man that daily shows me God’s grace, into a community, a body of believers, into friendships with new friends that have become old friends. I still get the itch to go on adventures, and God has been gracious to allow us to travel, though on a much less frequent basis than in my single years, but now my adventures are in homemaking and child-rearing. Making a game out of staying in the grocery budget and blowing bubbles for a millionth time because of the joy it brings my 18 month old once again.

Today I want to testify to the goodness of God in the land of the living. Sometimes I wonder why me? Who am I, God? Why have you lavished me with blessings and good when others I know and love are going through unspeakable grief and trials that seems to never end?

Recently I read this from Francis Chan in his book Crazy Love and it gave me some perspective.

“Maybe life’s pretty good for you right now. God has given you this good stuff so that you can show the world a person who enjoys blessings, but is still totally obsessed with God. Or maybe life is tough right now, and everything feels like a struggle. God has allowed hard things in your life so you can show the world that your God is great and that knowing Him brings peace and joy, even when life is hard.

To be brutally honest, it doesn’t really matter what place you find yourself in right now. Your part is to bring him glory…the point of your life is to point to Him.”

I’ve chosen to say: Blessed be Your Name in these times of the sun shining down on me, while the worlds “all as it should be”, and I can only pray that seeing His great faithfulness over and over in my life will sustain me should the road become marked with suffering and I find myself in the desert places. He promises that this world will have tribulation, but in the same breath I know He has overcome even the most horrible things of this fallen world. I ask Him humbly for faith to walk through whatever lies ahead in the story He has written for me.

In the end, I only want to point to Him – whether the road is sunshine kissed and flower filled or dark and rife with pain.

A girl dreamed a little dream – a big God who loves that girl made it reality. He is good.