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From 7 to 8


"There is nothing, indeed, which God will not do for a man who dares to step out upon what seems to be the mist; though as he puts down his foot he finds a rock beneath him." F. B. Meyer

Others have asked how we, with a full house already, came to the decision to adopt again from China. How did we decide to grow our family from 7 children to 8? How did we determine, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that we were to step out on faith, again, to find our child in China? Let me tell you... not without some serious anxiety, a few tears, and lots of prayer! Here is our story, a no-holds-barred, highly emotional and occasionally dramatic account of how it all came to be. So consider yourself forewarned ;) Our hope is that our story will be an encouragement to those who are afraid to let go and let God have His way in their lives. That it will be a testimony to God's ability to do mighty things with the most ordinary of people. With God, the undoable becomes doable. And the impossible becomes possible. Even the unthinkable becomes 'thinkable'...

September 9, 2007

What is wrong with me? I can't shake the sense that there might be another child waiting for us in China. I've been trying to sit on these feelings for weeks, but they are just not going away. How can this be? It's impossible on so many levels. Impossible. I've confessed my feelings to Chris and we have been praying about it, me more-so than Chris, I think. Chris is not diggin' the idea of being a father of eight. Add that to all the other reasons this would be such an impossible task and, well, it would be something only He could do.

September 15, 2007

Uh oh. There is a little girl on HFC's most recent list who I am so taken with. I find myself praying for her, that God would give her the perfect family. I don't know what God is going to do yet, but I do know that He is at work in my heart.

Chris is adamant that we are not in a position to adopt again right now. No time, no money, no energy. I can't argue. But my heart is telling me something else. And I am becoming more and more certain that it is God who is telling me something else. Since Chris has promised me that he is praying about this with an open heart, I am confident that if it is God's plan, Chris will get the message, too :)

September 16, 2007

Chris and I have spent the weekend touching on the pros and cons of bringing home another child. Seems to be much easier to think of the reasons not to. We're too busy. We're stretched as it is. We are moving next year and have no idea what is ahead for us. And on and on. It just doesn't make sense to adopt again right now. But I can't shake the feeling that maybe God's plan is different than what makes the most sense. That seems to be the way He works in our lives ;) And in my heart, I trust His plan above mine. I know Chris does too. God will just need to make it clear if He is ready for us to move forward.

Today was one of those days that made me think maybe I'm not quite ready, unless He's ready for me to be ready. Kids everywhere. An overpacked Odyssey brimming with juice cups, spilled cereal and spots of unknown origin on the carpet. Coughing, complaining, fevers and flushed cheeks, all needing momma at the same time.

September 20, 2007

Yesterday AM Chris sent me an email with the subject line "Your new car". Inside the body was a link to a (really ugly) burgundy 12 pax van. I had to giggle, I thought it was a pretty funny thought. Then suddenly I was gripped with the tiny hope that this email was meant to be more than a joke. Now I have spent the last 2 weeks hoping that every time Chris called from work, he would utter those words I was so hoping to hear: some form of "Let's go back to China". I tried and tried to tell myself how foolish that was, he certainly might never decide that he wanted to adopt again. But I couldn't stop hoping that God might, just might, plant the same seed in Chris' heart that He had planted in mine. When Chris answered his phone I casually giggled about the funny email..."ha ha, that's so funny" and inside I am dying! "So, why did you send me that link?" I say, trying to maintain any semblance of being relaxed. He said "You'd better call and see if you can get the file on that little girl." "Whaaaat??? Are you KIDDING me?!" He went on to tell me that that morning, after he was done working out and climbed into his car, he wrestled with God. He was overcome with the reality that God really does want us to open our hearts to another child. He said that the realization of that made him sad, that he would love to think that someday he and I will finally have some couple time, something we've never had in our almost-10 years together. He said he got misty thinking about having to wait longer to have that 'alone' time with me. Then he said he got over it and is ready to get to the business of bringing home another baby. God, I love that man.

September 22, 2007

Since Chris' momentous decision on Thursday, things have continued, if not painfully slowly, to proceed in the right direction. We are going to be bringing home another child, our eighth child, God willing. WHOA. Suddenly, now that Chris is in agreement with me, I'm a bit nervous. But he seems very content with his decision to become a father of eight! which gives me a great sense of peace.

We received Q's file on Thursday. Her file was somewhat discouraging, there is much information that is simply not there. As if someone hurriedly completed her paperwork and forgot to mark the boxes. So we have questions about reaching important milestones. Also, her measurements are a bit concerning. What does this mean? I have absolutely no idea. We are both praying that God makes it clear to us one way or another. I was able to get Dr. Jenista to agree to review her file and we are hoping to hear from her very soon. Also, the agency has requested updated information which we have reason to believe we will receive. So I feel like we'll be able to make an informed decision, just have no clue what it will be!

September 23, 2007

Great Sunday. Church, the sermon, the music... it all made me feel encouraged. Encouraged to move forward, even though I don't know exactly which direction we're headed in. Encouraged even though I don't know how it's going to turn out. Encouraged to trust God and know that in plenty or in want, that He is going to take care of me, of all of us. And encouraged that God is sovereign and He is almighty and that He is ruler of ALL. So any fleeting or momentary problem I have, my God is bigger, stronger and better than it is :)

September 24, 2007

Heard from Dr. Jenista. Not great news. Evidently this little one has either anemia, lead poisoning or a thalessemia trait. None of which are good. She also has not been properly vaccinated for HepB. Good chance she'll never have sight in the affected eye and could have issues with her good eye. Possible retardation/brain issues. All sad stuff to hear. But I know Dr. Jenista is a realist. It's her job to point out all the possibilities. Somehow, hearing all this 'not so good' news is shaking me. Would God want us to take this leap of faith without confirmation that she was meant for us?

September 27, 2007

Today I am confused. I am trying, really trying, to hear God's voice in all of this. Are we really supposed to adopt again? Now? I am torn, confused. But Chris seems to know. He's ready (albeit not terribly excitedly) to get going. It's just hard because we don't yet know who we are paperchasing for. Waiting for. Praying for. Sometimes I wonder if there even will be another. And if not, would that be so terrible? It's like now that I know that Chris is ready, I'm the one with cold feet. But then I 'tell' myself that we'll just wait a bit and my heart starts to ache again. I am trying to follow Chris' lead, which is the right thing to do anyway, but he's not quite sure what we should be doing. I've contacted Lifeline with no success, tried to call CHSFS with no success, contacted a few agencies about their kids with no success and we've requested new info on Q with no success. I know that all success comes from Him so I suppose I've just answered my own question. HE will give us success when HE is ready. So if I'm to wait on Him, which I should be doing in every situation anyway, how do I do it? HOW?!?

September 30, 2007

I'm officially giving up. Giving in. Acquiescing. Allowing God to have His way in every part of my life, including this potential adoption. All signs seem to be leading to this... it's the reality that I should already have known, well before getting my heart so involved. But it's a good thing. I had a mini revelation the other day while I was driving. It was as if God was asking me: Do you want to take this journey white knuckling the steering wheel the whole way? Speeding up just to have to slow down? Passing people like a crazy person and then worrying about being pulled over by a cop? Knots in the pit of your stomach? Or do you want to enjoy it? Check out the scenery? Revel in the time spent with your family? Stop and smell the roses along the way? Actually enjoy the process and not worry so much about how quickly you get there?

So here I am. Turning my steering wheel over to God. If I search deep down to where I really feel anxious about bringing home another, like I have to hurry, hurry, hurry... I find that I am not trusting Him. Not totally sure that He is going to do this for us. Not totally sure that He wants us to do this for us. In reality, in the light of day, I KNOW I do not want anything in my life that He doesn't want for us. So by searching my heart, I hope and pray that I will be able to calm that scared/anxious momma heart and just be able to wait on Him. Trust in Him. Certainly, if He wants it, it will come to pass.

October 19, 2007

Geesh... so much has happened, I really dread starting this, but it has to be done and Chris is working tonight so I suppose I'll just jump right on in.

I have really been struggling with feeling anxious about a baby, our baby, that might be in China, waiting for us. It makes me nervous, anxious and basically want to do something... NOW. The flip side of me wants to run, screaming from the room everytime I seriously consider what would have to happen for us to adopt again. And then you have all the familial changes... financial, emotional stress... more laundry, less free time... WHAT ARE WE THINKING!?!? But no matter how hard I try, I can't make my heart feel settled, peaceful. I have really been trying (and succeeding if I do say so myself!) to let Chris set the pace. We agreed that we would wait on starting the homestudy.. wait on a confirmation of some kind. When we went to get fingerprinted for Jude's readoption on Wednesday, I asked him if he wanted me to bring the fingerprint cards for our new HS agency. Surprisingly, he said yes. So we got those done, but decided to wait to send them off. Then I asked him if he wanted me to call some agencies to get a feel for who was open to asking CCAA for family size waivers. Surprisingly, again, he said yes. On Thursday we received some updated info on Q, all good news as she really seems to have grown and is hitting some milestones, I was so happy to hear she is doing well! But as the days have passed, neither of us feels a sense that she is meant to be ours. As much as it hurts my heart to NOT be able to say 'yes' to this little girl, I know that God's plan would not be fulfilled if I followed my plan.

The next day I received a lot of info, lists, passwords, phone calls from several agencies I had contacted. In the midst of all this another agency calls. As we talked I asked about their newest list.. how many kids? Five?! Geesh... such a small list. I figured that most of them had families already. She said that only one had been referred and their agency policy had no preference for any particular family, whoever stepped forward first was able to pursue that child. By the time we got off I figured I'd have a quick look-see.

Oh my. The first little one that popped up on the screen was so cute! And surprisingly, a boy! 18 months. Repaired ASD/VSD. No family was reviewing his file. This kid has the sweetest face! I request and receive his file and he just gets cuter. File looks encouraging, healthy since his surgery, good height/weight and is hitting milestones on time. Geesh! Talk about confusing!! I call Chris at work and tell him about 'a little boy' and don't get much in terms of a response. Poor guy, what is he supposed to say? Once he finally gets home he looks over the file. I explain that we first have to have his file reviewed by a qualified doc and ask him if he wants me to send the file to Dr. Jenista, he says 'yes'! Dear Lord, PLEASE give us some guidance!!

October 20, 2007

It's been a really long day. Long because of the fact that I am consciously aware that we are deep in the decision making process. Serious, serious business. I am also acutely aware that this decision is not my own. I am determined to follow Chris' lead and let him be the one to decide what direction our family should take. And that's not easy. I want to tell him all the reasons we should bring home this little boy, but I know that won't help him make his decision. He needs to work it out in his way. We heard from Dr. Jenista today. Almost all good news (amazingly!) this little guy sounds like he's really quite healthy. I found myself wanting to hear only good things and immediately minimizing any potential 'red flags' she pointed out: smallish head size, small possiblity of damage to the lungs due to his PH. But I made sure to write it all down, document everything, so that I would be an unbiased messenger when I told Chris about our conversation. When I think about adopting another child my stomach hurts. And not in a good way. Paperchase, worrying, counting down days, bills, stress. But when I see his face, all those worries melt away and I can't help but smile. He's just absolutely adorable! But does that make him our son? We are praying that God will show us, without doubt, if this child is meant to be a part of our family. That He would unite us on this monumental decision. But one thing has become crystal clear through these days of discussing, praying, seeking His will... if this child isn't ours, we're both sure that there IS a child out there meant for us.

October 23, 2007

It was a slow realization, one I didn't want to accept until it hit me smack in the face. This sweet boy isn't going to be ours. Chris just is not feeling like this child is our son. And no matter how shallow that sounds to him or to me!, it's reality. He is adorable. Handsome, in fact. His SN is a need we are comfortable with. He's relatively healthy. But he is not to be ours. Where does that leave me? Well, both sad and thrilled at the same time. Sad for the obvious reasons, but thrilled for much bigger ones. Through this God has confirmed in both Chris' and my heart that we DO have a child out there meant for us. We also have opened our hearts, again, to a little boy. I had really been thinking girl. Wanting a girl. But through this time, talking to agencies, looking at lists, reading stories of abandonment of boys vs. girls, healthy vs. special needs... it became haltingly clear: boys are the unwanted, especially the boys with special needs. They are the undesirables. I have no idea why. I do know when we started the adoption process in 2005 we were both sure we were going for a girl. But we had reason: three crazy boys already at home! But since we've brought Jude home, for the life of me, I can't understand why girls are preferred by the adoption community by such a wide margin. So now that we (well, I say 'we', but Chris was open to a boy all along) are open to a boy, we're both starting to get excited. The kind of excitement that only God can inspire. He is definitely at work and it's just a matter of time before we get to see just what He has planned!

October 26, 2007

We got "THE CALL"!!!! Actually, it was "THE EMAIL", but the 'call' sounds so more like what it felt like. Karla emailed me early in the month just to check in on us, to see how things were going. Since then we've been emailing here and there. On Wednesday night Chris and I filled out a SN checklist for Lifeline, needs we would say "yes" to and needs we would consider. On it we also stated that we would accept either gender and that we wanted the child to be less than 18 months at referral. Karla had said that she didn't think there were any new children that had not already been 'pre-matched' that fit our parameters, and we were fine with that. Yesterday I emailed her asking when the new list would be posted, I was excited to see all the new adorable faces! She replied that it should be up sometime early next week. I was thinking about how amazing it would be to get an email from Karla, sending us a file... then I reminded myself that things NEVER turn out like you imagine ;) Well, this time they DID! Karla emailed me while the kids and I were at Isabelle's Fall Festival. "Can you call me when you have a minute?" I don't think she had finished pushing 'send' on that email when her phone rang. Of course, I was HOPING for news... they had a baby for us to consider, but like I always tell myself.. things never happen like we imagine. Then she said it. "We have a little boy. And he is little. Not even a year. His special need is clubfeet." Okayyyy, I'm a goner. She asked if I wanted her to email his info. "Uhhhh, yes..." I manage. I can't think straight. Suddenly all I can think about is hitting 'refresh' on my email account. Again. Again. No email. Don't want to leave the computer. Refresh. Oh yea! I have to call Chris! Call Chris! Okay, I'll call Chris. When I tell him that Lifeline called with a referral he laughed. "Oh really?" almost knowingly. I think he did know. Just yesterday I asked him what he would do if Lifeline called. He and I both feel very strongly about Lifeline. They are a Christian agency, completely concerned with the children. As it should be. They also know us. And if they match us with a child, that carries a lot of weight. A LOT. And I know how seriously they take their jobs of creating families. He said to call him back in 10 minutes, after I forwarded him the email from Karla. FINALLY I got the email. I was sweaty. Nervous that I might not like what I saw. I know, it's totally superficial. Totally. But that was what I was thinking. I prayed that God would give both Chris and I a peace about it if this was our son. I prayed that He would give us wisdom and discernment. And then it was time. I insisted that Chris see him first... I was so afraid! Chris said, "Oh, Stefanie.... you are going to be in looovvvveee." And he was right. As soon as we both saw his face, we knew. He WAS our son. Absolutely beautiful. Happy and laughing. Perfect. Thank You God for granting the desires of my heart. All the way down to the superficial ones.

October 27, 2007

I'm kinda freaking. It just seems too good to be true. He is SO perfect. Perfect for our family, perfect for a little brother for Jude. Just plain perfect. Why do I doubt that God wants to place a 'perfect' child in our home? Why was I so prepared to have to make concessions when we found our child? Do I doubt that God's plan IS PERFECT?

Thank You so much, Lord. For Your perfect plan. Please help me not to doubt when You are at work. Please don't allow doubt and unbelief seep in and steal my joy.

I got teary last night when I logged onto the bank account and saw that FINALLY, after close to six months, we received the $2000 reimbursement from Chris' work for Sophie's adoption. AND we sold Chris' car yesterday. All in one day. All on the day we received the referral of our perfect son.

Is God at work here? You better believe it.

October 30, 2007

Now we are waiting to hear from Lily. She is going to contact CCAA to ask, preliminarily, if we can proceed with the paperwork to bring Guan YuanYang home. Suddenly, just the thought of them saying "no" makes my heart hurt! I truly feel like this referral was at God's hand, that He orchestrated it all from the beginning. Wanting to adopt, my heart (again) melting to a boy instead of a girl, Chris feeling pulled to adopt again, Lifeline, PRECIOUS boy with clubfoot, of all needs, it has God's fingerprints all over it. If this were someone else, waiting, I would tell them, "Have faith! God brought you this child, He is going to bring His plan to fruition!" But BEING in this position, well, it's much different. It's hard to be so confident. And just knowing that I am lacking confidence in the very thing I believe is God orchestrating, is unsettling. I KNOW God. And He never changes. He is just. He is merciful. He is loving. So why do I suddenly doubt? Maybe I fear that I 'heard' God wrong? Or that He would have our journey be more of a roller coaster than smooth sailing?

I just pray that through this, through every moment of doubt I ever have, that I remember that God has and always will be there for me. For my family. And that when He starts something, He finishes it.

P.S. God, can You PLEASE let CCAA say "YES!"?

October 31, 2007

Oh my. That was the longest wait I've had to endure in a long time. Karla finally called to tell us that Lily said "There shouldn't be any problems!" YIPPPEEEEE!! Of course, upon hearing this news I start blubbering on to Karla about how thankful we are that they thought of us as this little man's family and how God is so gracious.. All true, but I must have sounded like a blathering idiot. Oh well, he's worth it :)

So now we get a MOVE ON! We will start paperchasing like crazy and try to get our dossier done in less than three months from today! That is my goal, God willing :) Today is our first HS visit. We've sent off our fingerprint cards to the Georgia Crime lab and our application to Cradle of Love is complete. I need to get the application off the Lifeline site and complete it and send it in with a check for $250. Also need to order birth certificates and our marriage certificate. Geesh, feels like I've done all this before....


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