March 31, 2014


For lack of a better idea when it comes to updating, I decided to just go a month at a time and post the pictures (and events) from that month.  I didn't take a ton of pictures, so this should go fairly quickly.  And when I say I didn't take a ton of pictures, I really, REALLY didn't take a ton of pictures!  Prepare to be shocked.

The first picture of March is actually from February.  The first weekend of February, Lucas and I left the twins for only the third time since they were born.  They spent the weekend with Nana and Poppy while we chaperoned/led the annual youth retreat.  At the end of the weekend we spent a couple days with Nana and Poppy, during which we were joined by the cousins.  Here are the Twinners and the Beauties getting a pony ride from Lucas (with Poppy and Jack in the background).  This is the ONLY picture I took in February...
 In March we celebrated the twins 5th birthday!  You would think this would be a time when I took a ton of pictures.  You would be wrong.  I was really focused on enjoying them and celebrating with them and ended up taking almost none.  Basically, the bigger they get, the less I get to hold them, so I spent their birthday days holding them rather than a camera.  Here are the few I did manage to take:

Their preschool does a really great celebration where the kids get to be a special part of circle time.  Not only do they get to be line leader and hold the flag for the flag raising and all the other special things (that the twins divided for their special day...because their twins and that is what twins do), but they get a special moment to show some pictures and talk about where they were born and growing up (the twins showed off a few items from their NICU days).  Then each kid asks them a question (things like "What is your favorite color?" or "What is your favorite food?")  Finally, they each get a turn to hold the globe and walk around the circle (in the middle of which is the sun) as many times as years they are old (to represent how many times the earth has gone around the sun in their lifetime) while the teach plays music and tells a little description about each year of their life.  It is beautiful.
Ryan walking around the circle.
 Allie walking around the circle.
 We asked the twins if they wanted a party with friends or a night with just us at a hotel.  They picked the night with us at a hotel.  We found a great deal at a hotel with an indoor water park.  It was a blast.  We should make it an annual thing.  Everything about our overnight trip was perfect - the water park, the hotel, the bedtime story in the lobby, the food, EVERYTHING.  Lucas and I were a little exhausted at the end though.  The kids discovered that you didn't have to ride a tube through the lazy river, you could run with the current.  We spent a good hour running through the lazy river - completely defeating the purpose of the name!

We still had a party with family though.  Initially, when asked about a theme, Ryan picked dinosaurs and Allie picked dolphins.  I figured, cool, I can make that work.  After putting together the perfect dinosaur and dolphin outfits (Ryan's pants have T-Rex footprint patches on the knees and his shirt - made by me - has a T-Rex on the front.  Allie's dress is a dolphin print - made from fabric I purchased in Uganda and have been waiting to use for the perfect project), and roughly 5 days before the party, the twins told me they would rather have a dragon party.  I didn't have much time to pull it together, but with a green and orange theme, I managed to give them the dragon party of their dreams (thankfully, they dream small).  However, there weren't very many pictures of the party that didn't have an un-flattering view of a party guest in the background, so this is the only picture I have from the party:
They did LOVE their presents!
 On their actual birthday, we had a quiet celebration.  We gave them their presents from us (fishing poles, clothes, and gum - since I once offhandedly answered the question "When can we have gum?" with the answer, "When you're 5," not knowing they would not only remember, but look forward expectantly to the age of 5 specifically for the gum), took them out to Chinese, and took them to our favorite toy store to pick out a few things with their birthday money.  Ryan fulfilled his dream of getting a Dinoco Lightning McQueen and Buzz Lightyear by buying them for himself - along with some really cool astronaut toy sets.  Allie picked out many art kits - like a jewelry making kit - as well as a princess toy. They were thrilled.

Another birthday adventure (thanks to Nana & Poppy) was going to Disney on Ice!  It was truly a magical event.  Too bad I forgot to charge my camera batteries...  I made the mistake of asking Allie if she wanted to keep practicing her ice skating so she could be one of the princesses someday and she gave me this strange look and said, "Mommy, I can't be the princesses.  They are themselves.  I can only be one of the extra skaters."  My children 100% believed those were the actual characters skating in front of them.  Thankfully, for Ryan, it wasn't only princesses.  Buzz and the Toy Story gang made an appearance at the end.  The look on Ryan's face was priceless.  Too bad I didn't get a picture...
For the record, the lady told Allie to pose like that...
 Finally, in March, we left the twins for the 4th time ever in their lives (and the longest) to go to VA for the wedding of my college roommate.  It was a wonderful few days with my best friends from college.  I love these girls, and get to see them way too little.  It was my own magical weekend.  And a Joy to celebrate my roomie and her wonderful new husband!
Me and the girls!
Photo credit goes to her talented photographer...whose name I cannot find!
Other than a really low key spring break for the twins (because we had just returned from VA), that was our March!  Shall we place bets on how long it takes for me to get to April...

March 06, 2014

A Change of Plans

The last few months have been kind of eventful when it comes to our adoption journey.

A lot of people don't know this, but in October, our monthly update from our agency included a notice that there were waiting sibling groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  They were asking if anyone would be willing to adopt 2 or more children and switch countries.  After some talking, we let our case worker know we would be interested.  A week later we were matched with 2 girls.  Sisters.  A baby and a toddler.  We loved them from the moment we knew about them.

I could tell you about the first time I saw their picture, and how they took my breath away.  I could tell you about how amazingly happy we were.  I could tell you about the plans and dreams that filled every free moment.  But instead, I will make a long story short by saying that 2 weeks after we were matched, and the exact same day that our referral was made official, the DRC (essentially) closed.

I don't know quite how to describe the following months.  I don't know how to describe losing daughters I never met, or held, or could even legally call mine.  The worst part was not feeling like I had a right to mourn - or even feel - their loss.  All I will say is that, if you know someone going through the adoption process and at any point something falls through, give them a hug - acknowledge their loss and affirm their grief.  It means so much.

We switched all of our paperwork back to Uganda and decided to just wait for a while.  For once, the wait was a relief.  We needed time to recover.

In the meantime, the length of time families have to spend in-country (the biggest factor in our decision to switch to the DRC - which had a much shorter time in-country required) jumped up to 10+ weeks...and it is highly probable that the length of time will only increase as we wait.  We've been talking and talking each month about when we would reach the breaking point where we say this just isn't feasible anymore - and between the heartbreak of having a country close on us and the reality that we don't have that kind of time to spend overseas, we both realized that we had reached that point.

In the meantime, over the past 6 months (maybe longer) we've been feeling our hearts drawn more and more toward foster care and the need for foster families.  After a lot of talking, praying, and gathering of information we've decided to start the process of becoming a foster family in our community.

It wasn't a decision we made lightly.  It isn't something we think will be easy.  We know that not every child who enters our home will stay, and that no child that enters our home is truly "ours" unless a judge makes a lot of other rulings to make them so.  We also know that providing a loving, stable environment for the children who enter our home - for whatever time they are there - is worth it.  We are excited to move forward in answering the call we feel to care for the most vulnerable in our community.

I thought it would be hard to walk away from my dream of adopting from Uganda.  I thought I would feel torn or grieve the loss of that hope and expectation for our family.  I have been surprised by the peace that has accompanied this decision.  Even while talking with our case worker from the Uganda program (to officially withdraw from the program, and from their agency - which cannot license us for foster care), I felt enthusiastic and confident in this direction for our family.  It has been surprising, but also a relief.  The peace feels like confirmation that this is where we are called for now.

  We still have a heart for orphans around the world, and are talking about tangible ways (other than adoption) in which we can answer the call we feel to care for them.  One of the ways is financially.  See, we've already had some fundraisers for our adoption, but foster care is significantly less expensive than international adoption (they are literally opposite ends of the financial spectrum).  We've decided to contact those who donated large amounts to offer a refund. However, there is some we can't return (either because we didn't keep track of smaller donations and therefore don't know amounts, or because the donation was through items to sell at yard sales, or because it was through the purchase of an item). This money we are planning to donate to (un)adopted - a ministry of our adoption agency that seeks to provide better care and education for orphans and at-risk children in their own country.  See the work they are doing in Uganda here.  This way, the money that was given to help orphans in other countries will still be used for that purpose - just in a different way than we originally anticipated.

We have started the process of becoming a foster family.  It turns out that we pretty much have to redo everything we have already done - paperwork, education, home study, even fingerprints!  We've already accomplished a lot - getting enrolled, fingerprints, classes, our first home study and a LOT of paperwork.  We will keep you posted on our progress.  For now, thank you all for your prayers and support through the last couple of years.  It means more to us than we can express.

p.s. After we had made the decision and started the process, I was looking up some recipes in a favorite food blog, and discovered that she and her husband had been through a very similar adoption journey.  Her post describes perfectly our heart and what we feel as we move forward - MUCH better than what I have just written! Read HERE.

Since I wrote this post, we hit a bump in the road (or, considering the weather this winter, "gigantic pot hole" might be more appropriate!).  The twins turned 5, and one of the rules is that siblings of opposite genders may not share a room after they turn 5 - even our biological children.  Our licensing agent asked if we could be granted a waiver since ours are twins, but we were denied.  The twins very emphatically do NOT want to be in separate rooms (wouldn't you know, just within the last few months nightmares and intense fear of the dark have become a huge problem - they have no desire to be alone at night.  In fact, I think they wish there were more than 2 of them in that room!), and we very emphatically do not want to push anything that we know would be traumatic for them.  We are hoping to write a letter to appeal our case, but, other than that, our only option is to just wait until they are ready to separate and try starting the process again then.  The thought of waiting - especially for another undefined, but probably lengthy amount of time - is excruciating.  We've already waited so long! We were most likely a few weeks away from our license, and the twins have started asking daily when brothers and sisters will come to live with us.  We were all SO ready, and so excited.  This has been tough news to absorb.  Please pray for wisdom and patience as we move forward.