Friday, October 22, 2010

Reflections on the Heart of God in Adoption

My husband wrote an amazing blog this summer as we were preparing to travel to bring Brielle home. It spoke perfectly the things my heart and mind had been meditating on with regards to how our adoption process has been a window into God's own heart and adoption plan. Here is the link to his post entitled "The Second Trip"

Friday, October 15, 2010

Our Health Insurance Ordeal

I can't believe it's been almost 2 months since we brought our precious Brielle home! The time has flown by, and she is adjusting so well to our family! I am so thankful she knows she is loved and taken care of, and she picks up everything so quickly. She is truly a master imitator which means that when my boys do things like "forget" their table manners, she jumps in right along with them banging her spoon and making buzzing noises. She still does the cutest little shoulder shaking dance when she is excited and lets out piercing squeals of delight.

Our biggest struggle thus far has been battling some oozing infections on her head that the doctors believe to be impetigo but could possibly be fungal in nature. She also still has diarrhea everyday leading to may diaper and out fit changes. The main reason I have not been able to put a stop to all this nonsense except by giving her antibiotics and a thorough, painful routine of picking through her hair and putting cream on all her sores is that we have been having a horrific ordeal with our health insurance company. We were told that she would be added from day 1, but being an individual family plan in Tennessee she had to go through medical underwriting which we assumed would not be a big deal since she has no chronic illness. Also, I had falsely been led to believe by several health insurance informational sites that they would be required to pay for the first 31 days of her being home. Unfortunately this is for group plans only which are regulated at the federal level and not at the State like ours. Tennessee has very few restrictions on what insurance companies may and may not do. Therefore when our company came back and said that because she was not up to date on all immunizations (being from Ethiopia where many are not available) it would be $700 extra per month to add her on in addition to what we are paying for the rest of us (which is around $400 total). The Healthcare bill is a playing a huge role in this amount! My mouth dropped as the implications of this catch 22 became evident: we would now be saddled with an $800 dollar bill from initial doctor's visits and vaccines that occurred before we found this out. Of course our small church can not afford to pay $700/month extra and of course we can not pay this huge medical bill now, but we are trusting in the Lord and praying that our doctor's office will by chance have mercy and lower the amount we now owe them.

Thankfully, there is a program called Cover Kids Tennessee for lower income families whose kids are unable to get health insurance. We just found out yesterday that beginning Nov. 1st, she will be covered by this insurance and it will most likely mean less out of pocket than our other insurance. Praise the Lord! Perhaps in a year we will apply again once she is caught up on all her vaccinations and then hopefully be added on for no additional cost.

All that said--I can't wait for Nov. 1st so I can take her in and get her labs done and scalp cultured if we manage to not be able to rid this infection before then! To all of you who are adopting and have group health insurance consider yourself very blessed. If it's individual coverage you have---make sure you know your State's laws regarding adopted children. Tennessee has no protection for adopted children in this regard. I pray that this changes in the future, but for now, I am thankful for His provision through Cover Kids.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Our Family Cheerleader

Brielle is adjusting amazingly well! She is such a happy girl! I love that the first word we knew she understood is "kisses". Within a few days of being home, when she heard the word "kisses" she would either blow a kiss or kiss us on the cheek. I love that the first thing she really understood is that she is loved! She is very affectionate with her family but not so with strangers which is a really good sign in terms of attachment. She is friendly with people, but does her nervous expression which happens to be sticking her tongue out and moving it around. All of her pictures of her homecoming have her tongue out! Her first week with us in Ethiopia, she was extremely subdued and quiet. We had heard she was one of the happiest little ones in her room, but we had yet to see what they meant. Now we know they were right. She is so full of life and not quiet AT ALL. In fact, she gets so excited about everything and exclaims very loudly squeals of delight with lots of hand clapping, waving, and shoulder shaking. Well maybe not shoulder shaking quite so much, but she does love to dance, and for all those who know anything about Ethiopian dance--it is all about the shoulders, so we'll have to show her some of the moves as she grows up.
Brielle is now saying several words and even 2 word phrases such as Bye-bye Dada as she waves to him going to work as well as "up", "mama" and "pup-pa" for our new puppy. Yes we did just get a new puppy 2 days ago just in case things weren't new and exciting enough already--more about that next post.
We are still dealing with her impetigo which keeps popping up on her scalp and are about to start round two of antibiotics. I ended up bringing ringworm home from Ethiopia, so the two of us have been itching like crazy! Thankfully my sores are starting to clear up and hopefully hers will soon too. I've had her on soy toddler formula to give her a break from lactose while she was having diarrhea and it seems to have helped. I am hoping she is not permanently lactose intolerant, but we shall see. For now, I'm just thankful I'm not having to change her outfits 4 times a day anymore.
Somehow, I have begun homeschool with my daughter Kendra and am praying the Lord gives me amazing grace and strategy to accomplish everything I need to. There are literally not enough hours in the day, but somehow they must all be done! I feel like I am being stretched beyond my limits, but know that the Lord is expanding me in so many ways for His Glory and my maturity! I love that His mercies and strength are new every morning!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

We're Home with our Brielle!

This has been a whirlwind month! Only 2 weeks after we returned home, we got a phone call that we were cleared for embassy on the 18th and left a few days later! We were so blessed to get an embassy date less than one month from our court date! We have been home for a week and a half now and Brielle is doing great. She is so precious and fitting right into our family. She has struggled with some sickness since being home but is doing better and sleeping and eating well. She knows the word "kisses" and loves giving them to her mommy and daddy and brothers and sister. She also waves when I say hi or bye and seems to be understanding things pretty quickly. We are enjoying her exploring everything and taking great laugh out loud delight in the simplest of things like the swing in our backyard. We are so thankful to the Lord for the gift of her life. My mom and sister were able to be here for the first week which was very special a HUGE blessing in so many ways. My sons both got croup and my youngest one was extremely sick, so between Brielle and Bryan, we spent 3 out of 5 days at the doctor's office. Thankfully everyone is feeling better and we are getting a taste of what our new "normal" as a family is like. I feel like I'm sprinting to catch up with the rest of life that was put on hold during this last month, but I couldn't be more grateful for the fabulous end to our adoption process and this wonderful new beginning with our Ethiopian princess!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

We passed Court and hope to bring Brielle HOME SOON!

Wow! It has been a whirlwind month! We are so thankful that on our 9th anniversary our precious Brielle officially/legally became our daughter---an orphan no more! She is an absolute joy and delight and we loved every minute with her. I miss her so much! I will write more about our trip very soon. One of the reasons I haven't been able to yet is that we will most likely be going back in a matter of weeks and are getting ready like crazy! We believe that our paperwork was submitted to the embassy today, so depending on how fast we get clearance and how many spots are available, we will either be leaving in 1 1/2 or 3 1/2 weeks. There are many reasons we are praying to go sooner rather than later, but once again we rest in the Lord's timing and trust He knows best! Thank you for your prayers and as soon as I am able I will write about our trip!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

We have a COURT DATE!!!!

I was beyond excited when the phone rang a little after noon on Friday, July 2nd with news that we had our court date. My jaw dropped once again with this second, big news call from our agency (the first being our referral), when I heard what the date was--July 20th-our anniversary. It will be 9 years since we've been married and 10 years exactly since I was first in Africa on our family's trip to Kenya. The Lord did so much in my heart then both towards Nathan and the people of East Africa. It could not be more perfect that we are getting such an amazing anniversary gift from the Lord!!

I am also considering this my BEST early birthday present this year as I am turning 30 on July 5th and was really hoping and praying that I would hear by my birthday. Of course, I so trust the Lord's timing and knew it would be perfect regardless, but the fact that He gave me this gift brings me to tears over and over again. His ways are so amazing! There is no one like our God!

So, I got the call and had only an hour to get flights found and confirmed by our agency before the holiday weekend! I was only a little stressed--:) but thankfully our good family friend Colleen Reagan who is a travel agent dropped everything she was doing and helped find us great flights. We travelled with her family to Kenya in 2000 and it is very special that she has now had a hand in our adoption. It's super expensive to fly to anywhere in the summer, much less Ethiopia, but we have enough for this first trip, and I know the Lord will provide for the second! We are leaving July 15th and returning on the 25th! We are planning on taking a two day trip down to the Awassa area the 22-23 and will work out all the the details of our trip with our agency early next week.

These next 12 days until we get on a plane are going to be CRAZY busy! I want to enjoy every minute with my precious ones here at home because I know I will miss them so much. It was so hard to leave Kendra and Carson when we went to Croatia in 2008, and I know this will be no different leaving all three. However, I know they will be in excellent hands, and I am very excited to have an anniversary trip with Nathan that includes getting to hold and play with Brielle and have her grafted so perfectly into our family!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

He's turned my mourning into dancing!

He's turned my mourning into dancing again! He's lifted my sorrow. I can't stay silent. I must SING for His joy has come!

On Friday morning, June 25th, after an intense afternoon and night of prayer for Brielle after finding out she had malaria and still no news on the birth certificate, I woke up with great peace in my spirit. I had been told by my family coordinator that I would hear some news about the status of the birth certificate--or at least news about when they might find out news :) per my emailed request. I had really been praying that I would hear that it was found by Friday.

Several hours into the morning, I checked my email (for the 6th time I admit) and saw a big heading: SUBMITTED FOR COURT I opened it and it said that all our documentation ie. birth certificate was in and our papers had been submitted for court. I immediately started screaming Thank you Jesus!!!! at the top of my lungs over and over with my hands raised in the air. My kids all had their ears covered and I was trying to convince them I was really REALLY HAPPY!!! It was such an amazing gift to my heart. This means that we will hear within a week or two when our court date is and can start planning for our trip. It should be sometime in July--most likely mid. We are so excited!!

This morning (Sat.) I woke up and had a message from Ashlie Fulmer, a dear adoption friend from AWAA that is over in Ethiopia for the summer to volunteer at the transition home and spend time with her baby boy that she is adopting. She had gotten to see the 1 year olds and said that Brielle looked completely healthy and happy. She was smiling and doing all the hand motions to the games/songs that the nannies were doing and looked great. This news thrilled my heart!! I had done some research on the medicine she was on for malaria-Coartem-and supposedly it is the very best and works in 3 days. I know the Lord's hand is on her and can't wait to get over and love on my girl!

Truly no eye has seen nor ear heard any God like ours who works on behalf of those who wait for Him!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Waiting on the Lord for a court date

Psalm 27:13-14 "I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!"

As we are still waiting on the Lord to bring the birth certificate for Brielle so that we can receive a court date, my heart takes refuge in the perfect plan and timing of the Lord. In my spirit I am at peace with knowledge that it will come at the right time. There is a day and a time that only the Lord knows when we will meet Brielle for the first time....then when she becomes legally ours.....then when we get to bring her home. All these moments are known by God and set in his plan. I trust Him with all my heart!!!

This trust and peace is accompanied by a groan and longing that is too deep for words.... Many tears have been sown in this season of waiting. I believe I am receiving a taste of the longing of the Heavenly Father for his children. I am so in awe of the picture that adoption is of the heart and reality of God. Experiencing the adoption process is like diving into the depths of God's love. Even though the agony of longing unfulfilled right now is great, the joy that will surely come will be much greater. I love meditating on the reality that one day there will be no more sickness and pain, and God will wipe away every tear from my eyes. The One who my heart longs for Most of all--my beloved Jesus will be with me in Glory and Fullness--never to be separated again. These windows into his heart are precious to me and bring me great comfort in my yearning.

Even now my baby girl is sick with malaria on the other side of the world and it breaks my heart that I can not hold her and comfort her and lay my hands on her as I pray. I am thankful that the Lord has sent doctors and nannies and America World Adoption friends to do those things. I believe that angels are ministering to her as well. I found at stat that said that every 30 seconds a child dies from malaria. Truly the Lord has his hand upon this precious one and has spared her life. He has a great and awesome destiny for her on the earth. Praise the Lord she was able to receive immediate medicine and medical attention!

Please pray with us that she would recover quickly and fully and that the agency representative that has been sent to expedite our birth certificate would come back with it in hand and a speedy court date would be set.

Ps 33: 18-22 "Behold the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul form death and keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love be upon us O Lord, even as we hope in you."

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Happy Referral Day!!!!!

We could not be more excited that today we had the blessing of getting a referral for a beautiful 15 month old baby girl! She has the most beautiful smile in her pictures! She is so precious and beautiful and her name is actually a few letters rearranged from the name the Lord gave us for her--Brielle. We don't know what it means in her native language, but as far as I can tell online, in other languages, it might actually be derived from Gabriel (which is what Brielle) is derived from and means "God is my might!" How amazing is that?!!! I can't actually post her name or pictures until we pass court which I hope will be sometime in July. We will be traveling for court and should find out exactly when in a couple of weeks. My heart has felt like it was about to be torn from longing to see her face and know who she is the past couple of days. How sweet of the Lord to bring our referral today. It couldn't have been more perfect timing. We get to celebrate with all of the Tarr family this weekend, and then my parents are coming into town next week for my Dad's and Carson's birthdays. What a glorious time of celebration. Please pray for Brielle's health as she is on nutritional rehabilitation for malnourishment and just recovered from pneumonia. I can't wait to be able to give updates as we get them. We are hoping one of the families traveling next month will be able to take pictures of her and a care package. Thank you for your prayers and support this whole process. We are so blessed!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

We are Next in line for a Referral!

Well, as far as we know, we are #1 on the referral list for our baby girl. The two precious families in front of us both received theirs today. I can't believe it! I am so excited to finally see who our Brielle is, but I trust the Lord's perfect timing. Once we get our referral, we will travel to Ethiopia approximately 4-6 weeks later for our court date. We will then return home and wait 4-12 weeks for the US embassy to process their own investigations and clear us for her visa. We will then return and get to FINALLY bring her home with us! Please pray for all the details to go smoothly and for peace and joy as we continue to wait.

Friday, April 9, 2010

We are ON DECK!!!

We got a very fun email today from our adoption agency telling us that we are officially On Deck for a referral. This means we should expect to know who our daughter is sometime within the next 3 months!! It could happen this month, but since we are still 4th on the waiting list, I think it's safer to guess it will be next month for us. We'll see!! On a fun note, I got down a blanket I began knitting 6 years ago after I had Kendra and had put up on a shelf after only doing a small amount. I felt compelled to get it down today and begin making it for Brielle! It was so amazing to get the on deck email today as a confirmation that the Lord really was prompting me that it is time to start preparing for her. The time will be here before we know it.

On that note, I am so thankful we went ahead and got our necessary vaccines for the travel. Unfortunately it was 8 shots for me and 6 for Nathan! I actually fainted shortly after and still can not lift my arms in the air without pain, but it was a labor of love. :)

We will still most likely need to take 2 trips to Ethiopia unless something changes again. I doubt we will make the cut off date for only taking 1 trip. The Lord knows his plans for us, and they will be perfect!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

We will be taking TWO Trips to Ethiopia this year!!!!

We just received the news this week that the Ethiopian government has made a new law this past week requiring that families appear at "court" to testify to their willingness and commitment to adopt their child. This means that we will need to now travel 2-6 weeks after receiving a referral for about a week and then return home while the US Embassy processes our daughter's visa.

The embassy has also stated that they are going to be doing more extensive investigations into each case due to some recent allegations regarding certain adoptions and agencies (not ours) that have been in the news lately. All of these measures will ensure that Ethiopia stays open and continues to be a great place to adopt from. However this means, our time between trips will be approximately 2-3 months.

There are parts of this news that is challenging in areas like finances and logistics. The hardest thing might be spending a week with our daughter and then not getting to take her home with us the first time. I know we will have a better understanding of the heart of Jesus longing to return NOW for His bride, but knowing that it is necessary and right for it to happen in its perfect time.

We are excited that we will get to meet our daughter earlier than we would have otherwise and will get to spend a whole week with her and the other children there. We will get to spend more time getting to know Addis Ababa and Ethiopia and will have life changing adventures I'm sure.

It's possible we could get our referral in the next couple of months, so we need to start getting our shots and thinking through the first trip, as the moment we get the Big Call, life will turn into a whirlwind to make all the arrangements and prepare in a matter of weeks!!

Our hearts desire is that we would be able to pass court before it closes at the end of August. While reading comments posted on our yahoo group, I've seen that you can pass court the first time or not for many times. It all just depends on things that are totally outside of our control. We rest in that fact that this will all happen according to God's perfect timing!

Thank you for keeping our family in your prayers. We are greatly in need of them!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

We're now #4 and some thoughts on the Earthquake

There is a family who just received their referral after 8 months and a week waiting. Previously it has been 9-11 months wait time for infant girls. We are now 4th on the known list for a referral for a girl. While there are surely some families we are unaware of, it seems realistic that our wait time will be under 9 months and that is exciting. I am trying to get as much done in many different areas of my life as possible during these last months of waiting. My heart wants the wait to be over, but the rest of me knows I have plenty to keep me busy in the mean time.

My heart has been very tender this week with the news of the Haiti earthquake and all that has ensued. I have personal friends who will be leaving within a week to serve there and a part of me wants to join them. The other part of me would rather do anything but go. It has been exactly 16 years since my house was destroyed in the Northridge earthquake and my life was turned upside down in a matter of seconds. By God's grace in having wonderful American engineering our house did not collapse but was close. So there is a part of what happened in Haiti that hits so close to home and at the same time does not even compare to the devastation of what is happening there. Even though I had to move overnight, my family was safe and we were able to move into our grandparents home in Nevada where we received new clothes and were cared for. It was still traumatic to escape my destroyed home and never see it again, to not get to say good-bye to all my friends and to change schools mid year in middle school. Yet my faith in the Lord Jesus-as the unshakeable one-who promised to use this for Good in my life as I trusted him was the greatest gift of all. He was my anchor of hope in the midst of a great shaking. My hope and prayer for the people of Haiti is that they will find that same hope and reality in God that I experienced. Though there suffering is so much greater than mine ever was, the Hope of God's Word and presence is just as real and powerful for them as it was for me.

To this day I hate earthquakes. Each time I have experienced one since the "big one", I think they are about to give me a heart attack. They terrify me and remind me how fast life can change--how quickly everything can be turned upside down. Yet I sing everyday, "Even though the mountains are shaken, even though they may fall in the sea, my heart will not fear. I will not be afraid, for the Lord my God is with me." This is the greater truth that I know will enable me to face whatever shakings still lie ahead of me. This is is the gut wrenching cry I have in my heart for the people of Haiti. This is the only refuge that will endure.