Sunday, February 7, 2016

My New Calling

Before you all get excited that Rita has posted a new blog post, I’ll spoil it for you and let you know that this is her husband this time around.  Like many of you, I’m a big fan of Rita’s blog posts and realize that I can never be as eloquent as she is with words.  However, I’ve felt strongly over the past while that I needed to write down my experiences with adopting our daughter, and a few things happened to me today that solidified my resolve to document my feelings and my experiences.

Nearly seven years ago I was called to the stake young men’s presidency, accepting the new calling with a level of frustration and a heavy heart.  You see, I poured my heart and soul into the young men’s program in my own ward, and now I was being torn away.  It was with great difficulty that I accepted the call, but determined to see the silver lining, I realized that now I would be able to have a greater level of influence as I could work to ensure that the other eight wards in my stake had trained leaders, and programs that would help mold and build great young men.  I’ve served as the stake young men’s president for the past three years, but today, I was released.  I asked to be released, and as I listened to the new members of the stake young men’s presidency, my heart sank.  They had just called a young men’s leader from my own ward to be the new first counselor.  A leader who was dedicated to scouting, loved the young men in our ward, and who I wanted desperately to lead my own boys who are now just entering the program.  My heart was heavy laden, and I only became more saddened with feelings of guilt as I realized that because I had asked to be released, this man was now going through what I once did.  I began to second guess the clarity I had felt prompting my request to be released.  I became more saddened and hurt when good friends approached me during church and made comments like, ‘I bet your glad to be released from that prison’, ‘I see you’re all smiles while we’re all sad and angry that they just took our best scout leader’.  Even the newly called man indicated that he was not happy that he had been taken away from our ward.  For the next hour, I sat quietly weeping internally because I felt like my decision to be released from my calling as the stake young men’s president had angered and frustrated many of my friends.

I didn’t want to be released.  I loved my calling.  Over the past seven years, I’d poured my time, talents, and energy into the young men’s programs of my stake.  As I pondered this with increasingly heavy heart, I was comforted by the Spirit of the Lord as it spoke to my mind and gave me clarity.  It told me that I had accepted a new calling.  With complete clarity, my mind recalled all of the wonderful blessings that the Lord has given me and my family over the past year in preparation for our adoption, which is set to finalize in just a few weeks.  The Lord provided a way for us to build our wonderful home.  Rita was offered a part-time job as a school nurse that has a flexible work schedule, daycare option, and advisor that had recently returned from China after teaching English to Chinese students for two years. We were blessed to raise the funds necessary for all of the adoption expenses up until the last month, and as an answer to a sincere prayer and a family fast, an anonymous donor offered to fund the rest.  Just this past weekend Rita ran into my cousin at the store. After approaching Rita saying that she had felt prompted to speak with her, she explained that her husband had served his mission in Taiwan and is fluent in Mandarin.  He had just finished helping missionaries teach two recent converts the missionary discussions and wanted to help do the same for our daughter after she was home, something that we had been praying that we would be able to do with her, but weren’t sure how we would do it.

Then my mind went to the experience I had when we were looking for the right child to adopt after feeling inspired that we should do so.  Rita had searched and combed through hundreds of children’s profiles trying to ‘feel’ which child would be right for us.  Every time she thought she had found ‘the one’ I simply did not feel that same connection.  I began to wonder if something was wrong with me.  Why couldn’t I feel the same way?  I had reserved myself to think that the time was just not right, and I had tried to convince Rita of the same.  Then, out of the blue, Rita sent me the profile of a 10-year old girl.  I read her profile and felt good for the first time, but still unsure if she was the one.  That night I prayed, like so many nights before, that I would know and receive a confirmation that this girl was to be our daughter.  The next day as I sat in a meeting at work, my mind totally affixed on work related things, my mind became completely clear and I was miraculously blessed to have a witness, beyond any doubt, that she was to be my daughter.

As the church meeting closed, my heart was still heavy with the thoughts of what asking to be released from my calling had done to our ward and my friends.  But I had received a re-affirmation that I had been issued a new calling.  A calling to be the father to an abandoned now 11-year old orphan girl living on the other side of the world.  I had been issued this calling over a year ago, but the moment had just arrived that I needed to devote my time, talents, and energy into my family as I had done with my previous calling.  There is no doubt in my mind that we didn’t simply choose to adopt, we have been chosen to adopt, and the miracles that have happened in my life over the past year are a testament to that.  I know that the Lord is at the helm of my life, and I know that our ward will be blessed by this man’s acceptance of his new calling in the stake young men’s presidency.  If only we could see the results before we are asked to have faith…but that’s not part of the Plan.  In the meantime, I’ll pray for the leaders of our ward, and continue to have faith that those whom God calls He qualifies.  This is my testimony.

Dennis

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Staggering news

I did a lot of crying on Monday evening. Anytime my mind went back to the phone call, the tears would start to fall. Dennis was the same. We walked around most of the evening with red, puffy eyes and wads of tissues. But these tears were different and our children weren't sure what to think. We had told them the news, but seeing our tears left them unsure if what had just happened was good or bad.

Around 4pm I got a call from a woman saying she was representing a law firm. My initial reaction a sinking feeling of dread. What now? I thought. Has someone filed a lawsuit against us for some reason? Surely this was going to be one more of a thousand obstacles we've had over the past year and I braced myself.

"I would like to inform you that a donor, who would like to remain anonymous, has heard about your adoption and would like to make a donation." She paused for a moment and then finished, "They would like to cover the remaining portion of your adoption costs."

I sat in silence completely dumb-founded. This had to be a mistake.We had only raised a little over half of the estimated costs, leaving a huge amount that we had figured would have to be covered by loans. We had spent the past several weeks trying to decide how best to secure the loans. To consider that someone would be willing to cover it was staggering.

I sat in silence, completely at a loss on how to break it to her that the cost was higher than they knew.

She must have guessed what was going through my mind because she then told me that the donor was aware that the remaining portion was quite large and that they were willing to cover it.

I fumbled for words but all that came out were unintelligible sounds. When the words finally did come, they were strangled off by shock and emotion.

The woman laughed and said, "That's okay, this is the fun part of my job." She gave me a few instructions and the call ended with me still in a daze.

When Dennis got home from work, his eyes filled with tears when I told him the news, and he walked quickly away. A moment later I saw him in our darkened room, kneeling at the side of our bed praying. When he came out of our room, we hugged and cried, and then cried some more.

We gathered our children, telling them the news and then knelt together in prayer to thank our Heavenly Father. Just the day before we had held a special family fast that somehow things would work out financially, but we had thought our prayers would be answered in the form of loans with low interest rates, and that was something we would have gratefully accepted.

I slept fitfully that night, partly still in disbelief and partly filled with feelings of guilt that this was being done for us. There are so many people more in need and more deserving than we are. And then I remembered that this was not only being done for us, but for a little girl who has waited for almost 12 years for a family to call her own.

I realize that our donor wants to remain anonymous, but I hope he or she reads this even though words are woefully inadequate at this point. I hope they feel our deep love for them even though we don't have a name or a face to attach to their actions. That night when we knelt together as a family, I prayed that the windows of heaven would be open and pour its blessings upon them. I pray I will never forget the way I felt that day- that if and when things become difficult after our little girl comes home, that I will remember that God has laced our journey with angels, both seen and unseen, all along our way. I will repay this debt somehow- I promise. You have my word on that.

This little girl is of infinite worth to our Heavenly Father. What else would explain the blessings followed by the opposition all along the way, as if heaven and hell have been engaged in a year-long tug of war. Things may continue to be difficult for us after she's home, but this week I realized that after all that has happened, heaven finally won. Our little girl will be home soon.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Forgetting God

The last few weeks have been a bit of a lull... a blessed lull. Well, relatively speaking. In our house nothing is ever really a lull, but they're as lull-ish as can be expected and my tired body has been drinking it up. It has been like surfacing for air after being underwater for too long. Afternoon cuddle time with Calista has once again resumed its rightful place in the universe and life again feels like it's closer to coming into balance.

Taking a break from fundraising so we could focus on our children wasn't an easy decision to make, especially knowing that we hadn't met our fundraising goal, but it was what we knew we needed to do. The cost of an adoption is much steeper than any dollar amount, and unfortunately no one knows this better than my children who have paid the highest price.

I've discovered that preparing for an adoption is in many ways like preparing for a marathon. Spending money on the right running equipment is only the beginning of what will get you to the finish line. The rest comes in countless hours and miles of preparation and we have so much preparation to do, mostly in the way of preparing those within the walls of our home.

I gave myself permission to shut out the vastness of the unknown, and just focus on what I do know- that God has blessed me with a more beautiful life than I could have ever hoped for. That regardless of the hardships that might come, I have known more clearly than I've ever known anything else that this is part of God's plan for me and my family. I gave myself permission to submit to the blind type of faith that the world rages against, and what sweet relief that has brought.

The past year has brought more challenges than we've ever had in our married life. Since we began the process, it seems like every area of our lives has been challenged. Satan has been on overdrive, pummeling our family from every possible angle- health problems, unexpected expenses, job challenges, fading friendships, strained family relationships. Dennis has said several times that the only other time in his life that he can remember being challenged this much was before he left to serve a mission. But as difficult as it has been, I've seen my children blossom into beautiful human beings- thoughtful and caring, hard-working and self-sacrificing. In the areas of our life that really matter, we have been blessed more abundantly than we've been challenged. It has been wonderful to be able to once again focus my days on the five beautiful little people that I get to raise and the wonderful man by my side, and shut out everything else.

A few nights ago I was going over our finances and was reminded how far we are from meeting our financial goals for this adoption. I don't regret for a minute taking the fundraising break that we did since our family needed it so desperately, but seeing the numbers made the all-too-familiar grip of discouragement begin taking its icy hold again. As I felt my mind darkening, I knelt in prayer and asked for the faith that has so often carried me through the past year.

But how distant God felt as I started to pray. It was like having an awkward conversation with someone I hadn't really talked to in a while. And here I came knocking, asking again for more. The lull that I had been enjoying for the past couple of months had made me more lax in my relationship with God. When I shut everything else out, I had also shut Him out without even realizing it. How grateful I am to those looming finances for bringing me to God again. I thanked Him for the hardships that had brought me so often to my knees over the past year and wondered why it's so hard for me to stay humble. Why do things in life have to be so hard for me to remember God? How quickly I forget Him when life becomes easy- but it's been struggling through the muck and the discouragment and despair that I have felt closer to God than I ever have before . I think of something James E. Faust quoted before he died, "The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay." And it's a privelege I would pay again and again.

Here are a few of our latest lovely lullish moments.
Without photo sessions to work on during the afternoons, this little lady and I get to spend a lot more time together.




Luke spent an hour assembling his Mila's shopping cart


A morning trip to Krispy Kreme

Calista falling asleep during our nightly reading of the BFG
Our little Cave Woman has decided that she is quite the comedian and keeps us laughing

Camden practicing the piano with Mila

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Luke-isms that could bring CPS knocking...

Not a day has gone by since this little man was born that he hasn't made me laugh. I was looking through my journal entries from a few months ago and came across an entry that made me cringe and laugh at the same time. Oh, how I love that little man. I have never met anyone with his level of honesty or dry sense of humor. 
________________________________________________

May 2015

We were at our pediatrician's office this morning for Luke's annual check-up. Our pediatrician has been one of our strongest and most vocal critics about the adoption. I went into today's appointment planning to not bring it up, and to just get in and out as quickly as possible. I figured he already thought I was a half-brained idiot, and I didn't want to add any fuel to the fire. But what I hadn't taken into consideration was that my little loose canon was my side kick that day.

Dr: Luke, how long do you spend playing video games each day?

Luke: My mom tells me I can't play more than an hour a day.

Dr: It's a good idea to not exceed 30 minutes per day of screen time.

Luke: Yeah, well my mom says an hour, and she's my mom.

Dr: Okay... what other things do you like to do? Ride your bike?

Luke: Yeah

Dr: Do you wear your helmet?

Luke: Nope.

Dr: Do you wear sun screen?

Luke: Never

Dr: Do you ride in a booster seat?

Luke: Psssh... yeah right.

Dr: You know, research says you should ride them until you weigh 80-90 pounds.

Luke: 80-90 pounds!!! (rolls his eyes) Whatever, that's like a giant.

Dr: Do you read 30 minutes per day?

Luke: I hate reading (which he doesn't... little turkey!)

Dr: Are you on any medications at all?

Luke: You mean aside from the sleeping pills that my mom gives me?

At this point I had to cut in and clarify that I had only given him a small dose of melatonin twice when he was having trouble sleeping, and the last time was at least six months ago. The doc didn't seem impressed or convinced.

Then Luke laid into him on the ridiculousness of having to receive his immunizations via injection. He couldn't get over the fact that no one had been smart enough up to this point to invent a way to swallow your immunizations.

By this point, the doctor seemed to have given up, and just put his head down and started charting his assessment.

Oh well... I guess I wasn't going to be changing his mind about us either way, so what's the harm in a little honesty from an 8 year old?

________________________________________

After I read this, the baptism announcement that he and I made up together seemed especially fitting. I love that kid to pieces.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

When we became hers

Within days after submitting the list, our agency began sending us profiles of children who met our criteria. They sent three or four profiles per day to review, but still the process of elimination was painful. So many beautiful faces and so many stories of children who were desperately pleading for a family.

After a day or two, I emailed our case worker and told her how hard this was for me. How would I know when we came across the child who was meant to be ours? It felt like such blind selection. She encouraged me to be patient and reassured me that this part of the process often took many months. Along with her email, she had attached three more profiles.

I've come to believe that what draws a parent to an adoptive child during the selection process is a recognition of something- either within themselves or in someone they love. As I scanned the pictures, one little girl immediately caught my eye. It seemed like I was looking at my little Lauren: energetic and happy, but sweet and trusting... and absolutely beautiful. She was described as helpful, gentle, friendly, and thoughtful of those around her.

I sent her file on to Dennis, wondering if perhaps he would recognize it too. Immediately he responded and said he wanted to know more. I asked him if he had read in the profile about her special medical need. He had... it was the very special need that just days ago he had been so firm about not considering.

I was surprised but cautious of committing my hopes to another child. We had already looked at so many children and my hopes had been dashed so many times. There are so many children who will never know that they will always hold pieces of my heart.

We reviewed her file for a few days, but by this point I was mistrusting of my instincts. I told Dennis that because I felt so strongly that we were supposed to adopt, I didn't entirely trust my emotional compass. I needed his objectivity and emotional distance to help with this decision. This child would not be mine to raise- but ours- and without an unwavering committment from him, we would be setting ourselves up for well-intended, but certain disaster.

As I researched her condition, I presented Dennis with each unknown that we would potentially face. There was much, much more to consider than a three-word diagnosis; most of which we had never considered as being part of our life plan. I asked him to really put ourselves a year... five years... and ten years down the road. Were we really ready to do this?

And then one day after work, Dennis tearfully told me he had had a sacred experience, confirming to him that she was the one we were being led to. And just like that- as beautifully simple as that- he knew, and that was that. Once he knows something, he never looks back. How I wish I had his simple faith. We went to the temple to pray about it, but he had already received his answer. She was the one we were being led to and he was completely committed, and I had known for a long time that all I needed was his committment because my heart was already there.

Several weeks went by. Before we made public our plans to adopt, a few more things still needed to fall into place. A small part of me was still holding back. It felt surreal that after so many months of searching and praying, that we had finally decided to move forward. Like a bad dream, I was afraid Dennis would wake up one day and realize we had made a terrible mistake.

We had requested an update on our little girl, knowing that the file was several years old. The little girl in the referral picture looked to be about 7 or 8 years old, and by now she was almost 11.

The moment in time when we received the email with the update will always be frozen in time for me. We were standing in line to go into Disneyland when I heard the email notification on my phone and I read the subject line. This was it... with trembling hands, I clicked on the pictures.

I had to do a double-take. This wasn't the same little girl we had seen in the referral picture. She was more grown up. She had changed a lot in the years between the referral picture and the update. Her smile seemed more reserved, having lost much of the youthfulness from the first picture we had seen, though she was still beautiful.

In my mind, this was the moment. Up until now, I hadn't realized that part of my emotional reservation came from wondering if what had drawn Dennis to her was the recognition of Lauren. And she was her own person now- independent of any resemblance of Lauren. It became a stark reality that we would not be adopting the little girl, but a young woman quickly approaching notoriously difficult years... and completely unnavigated years at that. Would this change his mind? Would this be the moment when he would say it had all been a terrible mistake?

I leaned over and asked him if he would like to see an updated picture of our little girl. I watched him intently as he quietly studied the picture for a moment. And then with the tenderness of a father seeing his newborn baby for the first time, a smile came over his face.

"She's beautiful, isn't she?"

And that's when I finally let it sink in that this was really happening. With thousands of miles between us and with her having no awareness that we even existed, at that moment, for me she became ours and we became hers.



Monday, November 23, 2015

"You're just like your mother"

Following our ordeal with Ian, things didn't get easier. We considered several other children whose profiles drew us in. One was a beautiful little girl, a burn victim from Africa, with a heart-breaking story. But again, the answer was a gentle but firm "no."

By now I was terribly confused. I felt like a wind-up toy that was stuck against a wall, with no way to see where the Lord was leading us. Mila's personality wasn't mellowing out like I hoped it would as she got older. If anything, she was becoming more difficult to manage. I took a long, hard look at our finances and reminded myself that there was simply no way we could do this. And even if we had the funds to bring a child home, who was I kidding? I didn't have the emotional resources to extend myself more than I already was. Maybe this had all been an Abrahamic test. Maybe now that God knew that our hearts were willing, He would let us drop it and continue on our merry little way. I told myself it would be a good thing if that were the case. I was never cut out for this adoption thing anyway. I had heard of so many adoption stories of hardship. Why would I want to do something like that to my sweet little family? That was something only special people did- the kind that glow with patience and motherly love. And heaven knows- maybe a little too well- that I am certainly not one of those people.

But even with this new resolution, the feeling that one of my children was missing wouldn't leave me. I was emotionally exhausted and I desperately wanted to reclaim my life- the life I used to know before every waking thought was consumed by adoption. My sweet husband was also so very tired, but I asked him to bear with me a little longer. I still felt like we needed to complete the preliminary paperwork for an adoption, and begin a homestudy.  If this was what the Lord wanted for us, then at least we would have done our part in every possible way. If not, then after our homestudy was no longer current, we could put this all behind us. It involved a fair amount of upfront costs that we simply didn't have the money for, but I felt like we needed to take this last leap of faith and show the Lord that if this was what He wanted for us, then we would exhaust ourselves in our attempt to be obedient.

Ever being the wonderful man that he is, he agreed to indulge my persistence yet again. I love that man.

The mountain of paperwork to fill out and the things we had to do to prepare our house were overwhelming. One of the first things we had to do was to sit down and narrow down our search. What ages, gender, and special needs were we willing to consider? Up to this point, I had left that door wide open. Some months before a friend had suggested that it might be helpful to narrow down what type of child we were looking for. We had bounced all over the place inquiring about boys, girls, sibling groups, all sorts of special needs, and children of all ages. I still had no idea what (or who) we were looking for, but it had to be done. There was no way the agency would know which children's files to send us to review if we didn't even know ourselves.

As Dennis and I sat down to review the list of special needs, the process of elemination was surprising painful. The list was long as we went through each one discussing the dynamics of our children, the accomodations of our house, and the amount of time we could realistically devote to a child with those needs. The process of checking boxes or leaving them unchecked felt ruthless as I thought of the hundreds of thousands of faceless children waiting behind each unchecked box. I hated doing it.

Towards the end of the list was one special need- a medical need that would require on-going management and that had a laundry list of unknowns. Dennis shook his head, "Not that one," he said. "Leave it blank. I don't even want to go there."

I reminded him that we weren't committing to a child with this special need, but simply saying we would consider it.

Again he shook his head, "Nope. Leave it blank."

We argued back and forth for a few minutes, and then pulling out my Latin card (that I keep tucked away for special moments like this), I rolled my eyes and said, "Whatever..." and checked the box.

"You're just like your mother."

"Why, thank you."



I love this amazing lady. Anyone who knows her knows that she can move mountains, so anytime I am compared to her, I consider myself a lucky lady.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

When God told us, "No"

Almost daily, we receive questions about our adoption: What led us to adoption, how did we choose her, etc. Over the next few blog posts, I thought I'd share portions of the story that led us to our sweet little girl across the ocean. It has been one of the most transformative and sacred experiences of my life.

This first portion is the most difficult for me to put into words. Even as I think about it, tender feelings of love for my Father in Heaven and His special care for "those who are the least of these" surfaces, and a lump rises in my throat. I know that God is near... nearer than we think- and that He cares about the details of our lives... more than we know.

________________________________________

Some of you have met Mila, our youngest. She has a few nicknames that affectionately describe her personality- Cave Woman and Beasty (from the movie Maleficent), being the two most fitting. As harsh as they sound, they have been given with love, and partly out of desperation to find humor in the exhaustion that we feel at the end of the day because of her. While I love my little cave woman to pieces- in full disclosure- she has been our smallest baby, but has had the biggest personality. Maybe it's the combination of a Latin name with Latin genes. Whatever it is... all of that squeezed into less than twenty pounds, spills over into ear-splitting volume and enough energy to fuel a troop of caffeinated monkeys.

So, that being said... why would we consider adoption now, when our quiver was so recently blessed with such a rogue little arrow? I've wondered that same thing, at least a hundred times.

About a year ago, my sister shared a post on Facebook about three orphaned sisters in Ukraine who needed a family. Something unexpected happened inside of me, as I felt like there was someone unseen literally pulling me with a rope to find out more about these girls. After a couple of emails, I quickly learned that the post was outdated, and the girls had been adopted domestically. I struggled to gather my swirling thoughts. I was so confused. Why had I felt such a strong pull, only to have it lead me into a brick wall? Why was I feeling so deeply drawn to those three small pictures, even knowing that they were no longer available for adoption? I'm still not sure, but something inside of me changed deeply that day.

Out of curiosity, I began researching everything I could about adoption: the process, bonding with an adopted child, and talking to anyone I could that would help me understand it. I soon realized the magnitude of what I was looking into, and it was overwhelming, to say the least. Perhaps I was getting in over my head in thinking that this was something we should be considering at this point in our lives. We had just moved into our new house and we were still recovering financially from the move- not to mention the fact that I had five children under the age of 10, with my youngest being only 7 months old.

I discussed it extensively with Dennis for several days, and we both decided that now was simply not a good time. Perhaps in a few years it would be, just not now. And just like that, we decided to close the door on the idea of adoption.

And yet, I couldn't let it go. For weeks, it kept me up at night, and when I did finally sleep, it was filled with dreams of children. I felt the same sense of desperation and urgency a mother does when she turns around in a crowd of people, only to realize that one of her children is missing. All throughout the day and into the evening, I would continue researching and combing through hundreds of pages of children's profiles.

Dennis, however, didn't feel that same sense of urgency and it created feelings of frustration for both of us. He wondered why I was being so obsessive over something we had both agreed on not to do, and I couldn't understand how he wasn't feeling the same sense of urgency that I did. I spent many hours on my knees pleading for clarity. It seemed like every night my prayer was the same, "Father, I will do whatever You want me to do, just help me to know what that is, and I will do it." We inquired seriously on several children, but for one reason or another, knew they weren't the ones we were being led to.

There were several nights when I went to bed feeling heart-sick after hours of searching through hundreds of profiles. There is something inherently wrong about "shopping" for a child. How would I would pick him or her out of a sea of faces? I didn't even know who I was looking for! I couldn't help but imagine my biological children staring back at me through a profile picture and a few vague paragraphs, hoping against all hope to be seen by someone who would call them their own. Would I even recognize them?

The weeks went on, and I came across the profile of a sweet little boy in Ukraine. His screen name was Ian, and he stole my heart. I was put in contact with people who had met him, and they told me he was a diamond in the rough, more precious than we could imagine. His personality seemed like he would fit perfectly into our family. He even looked like he could have been one of our children. And best of all, Dennis was beginning to warm up to the idea of this sweet little boy joining our family. I was elated. It seemed like this is was who all the sleepless nights had been leading us to. After several days of prayer and feelings of peace, we felt like it was time to go the temple to seek our confirmation.

As I sat in the temple praying, I felt an overwhelming sense of God's love for this little boy. He was one of God's most precious children. I knew it. I could feel it in a way that was almost palpable, and tears of love began to flow. I also received a strong witness that God is in control, and that for Him, nothing is impossible.

But just as clear as had been my understanding of his infinite worth, I began feeling the tides of change from what I expected God to say, to what He was actually saying. A distinct and unmistakeable feeling of "no" was beginning to come over me. How could this be? I had felt His peace in the days leading up to this, and even just minutes before- and now the answer was "no?" I pled for understanding, and perhaps a different answer.

The silent tears turned to muffled sobs as once again the answer was a firm "no." Some of the temple patrons watched me with mild concern, but I couldn't stop the tears. I was a weeping like I hadn't wept in years- not for myself, but for all those precious faces that had flashed before me on the screen as I searched for my child. I was grieving for all the heart-wrenching stories of abandonment and loneliness that I had read. The flood gates had opened and though I had never met any of these children, it felt like I was grieving the pain and loss of my own biological children.

But now, something else followed- a more gentle feeling of reassurance, though it did little to stop the tears. "There is another family who needs to blessed by Ian. He would be good for your family, but there's another family who would be better for him." It provided some comfort, but I had no idea how long it would be before that happened, and he had already waited so long. God's time table is often so very different from our own. How many more years would he wait while I was expected to continue living my posh little life? I left the temple feeling devastated. Where had I gone wrong?

The tears flowed freely in the days following whenever I thought of my experience in the temple or little Ian. And yet surprisingly, all I wanted to do was go back to the temple- to that same place where God had told me "no." Because even though it broke my heart, I had never before felt God so close, or His love so strong.

It reminded me of when I was a little girl and my mother would scold me for doing something naughty in church. I remember crawling under the pew and crying. But more than anything, I wanted to crawl back on her lap and have her remind me that she still loved me. I would slowly move towards her, finally resting my head in her lap, where she would stroke my hair and dry my tears with her soft hands. Those are some of my tenderest childhood memories.

I told the Lord that night after the temple that I would accept His answer, but that if in three months Ian hadn't found a family, that I would petition Him again. As the three month mark drew near, I had begun praying about Ian again, to ask if perhaps the Lord would now consider us as candidates for His precious son. As clear as my answer had been that day in the temple, I wanted so badly to think that perhaps it had just been a matter of poor timing on my part.

Just days before the three-month mark, I received the news from my friend. Ian had found a family! As I read on his adoptive momma's blog the details of how she found him, it was nothing short of miraculous. Clearly, it was part of a larger master design. Ian would be coming home to his new family soon- sooner than if we had committed to him. And the family he was coming into was perfect for him, a much better match than any mortal person could have designed for him. Again, the tears flowed freely, but this time they were tears of joy.

I realized that somehow this will all be made right. The day will come when the tears of the motherless and fatherless will be dried, and we will see His hand in all things.

______________________Ian________________________

I'm not sure why I felt prompted to share something so personal. Perhaps it's because of how many people have told me they have felt stirrings that seem to be leading them towards adoption. Because adoption has become so near and dear to my heart, I love hearing people's stories, and hope that this might help someone who might be feeling like God is preparing their path. Whatever our stories are, they are as unique to each of us as the fingerprints on the tips of our fingers. But this I have seen over, and over, and over again- adoption stories are full of miracles and constant reminders of God's love for each of His children.