Our Show Hope Essay

A few people have asked about our Show Hope essay we (we means I on the blog.) wrote for our grant application. I thought I’d share it here with a few updates.

**Violets immigration approval came. We sent it off to the facilitator in Poland, and we’re waiting for dates. We also wired the money for her visa yesterday. Some people have asked what happens next. The honest answer is that I have no idea. At some point the facilitator will take a pile of paper to a judge and get a court date, and then we get to go to Poland.

But really, the end of an adoption is near when I give up trying to understand what’s happening and just give people money, and know that at the end, I’ll most likely get my girl. I think it’s a fair trade. Normally I’m on top of information about the process, where everything is, who it’s all with. But at this point, my brain is over saturated, and I’m on a 5 second delay. When people talk to me these days, there’s a 5 second delay while I process what anyone has just said to me before I respond. I attribute the 5 second delay to all the things I have to keep straight in my head. Theres a lot move through in there. The 5 second dealy most recently reared it’s ugly head at Gymboree yesterday. The clerk was genuinely concerned for me, but I told her it wasn’t her fault- I’m just at the end of an adoption and I’m on a 5 second delay. I apologized for not warning her in advance. But I digress.

**Our Both Hands Project is on Saturday. We’re down to the wire, but just tonight I was able to speak with the widow we’re working with and finalize a schedule. I’m starting to get really excited about this!  When the project is over, I’ll write a blog post complete with pictures and a video. But just know it’s coming.

 

Anyways, here’s our essay. I took out some personal details and such, so what you’ll read is somewhat edited version. I went through 5 drafts before I was happy with it.  The Show Hope application process is no joke. It took over 2 weeks to get everything ready and in the mail. It was crazy, but worth it. Enjoy. When you get to the bottom you get to see a picture of more Violets room. I’m really happy about how it’s turning out.

We’re Alex, Charity (I’m the writer), Lev and soon, Violet, who’s waiting patiently in Poland for us to come back and get her. We love each other, love Jesus, and on a less profound level, love photography, Curious George, trains, ice cream, missions to Russia and eastern Europe, hiking in the woods, walking, reading, biking and movies involving long dresses and British accents. Some might not call it the most exciting life, but we like it, because God gave it to us, and we’re glad we can share it with another child and all the people he puts in our lives.

When we began to think about a family, adoption as a method of family building was not something we thought much about until I was 26, and doctor told me that my body didn’t work right. That was very uncertain time as we pondered what our family would look like. But the Lord knew how it was all going to be for us, and brought us to something better in adoption. He graciously allowed us to let go of the idea of biological children and embrace adoption not as the next best thing, but as the Lord’s best for us. Through the adoption of our son, Lev, in 2010, we learned to love the gospel more clearly and to see our salvation, as children adopted into the family of God, mirrored in the adoption of our son.  It was a powerful experience for us, seeing everything in Lev’s adoption as an earthly reminder of our own salvation. Lev’s birthmother, our roles as his parents, and God’s love for us all played parts in us seeing the enormity and profundity of our own salvation.

When we decided to adopt again, we chose eastern Europe and Poland specifically because Alex is from that region and is grandmother was Polish. We knew that if we ever go on the mission field, it would be to Poland, or Belarus (Alex’s home country), or Russia. And when we read Violet’s history this past August, we knew that while Lev would certainly have been loved by his birth family if he had not been placed with us, we knew that guarantee did not exist for her. At the tender age of 1, adoption was already her last hope. If the Lord had not seen fit to send her to us and us to her, she would be without hope and without a future. And her adoption is again mirroring the power of the gospel. While Lev’s adoption was a broad and beautiful view of how God loves us and makes his children, Violet’s adoption is a picture of hope. In the same way we walked into that nursery and saw our daughter in that crib, rocking violently the way kids in orphanages do, small and alone and without hope, and reached down and picked her up and promised her she would never be alone again, is the same thing that the Lord did for us- picking us up, making us his children, and promising never to leave us or forsake us. It’s the single most humbling thing that we’ve ever done- pick up that sweet little girl and recognize our own state before God, while at the same time, seeing the wide and deep and free grace and hope offered to us in Jesus. We are so in love with this little girl, for all she is already to us and all that she already is and will be one day in Christ. She shows us that adoption is a pursuit. A heart wrenching, gut twisting, budget busting pursuit of family, justice, God, and his glory. We would never have chosen this path for ourselves. And God knew that and chose it for us, and we’re so glad that He did.

As we go forth as parents to Violet and Lev, the most important thing we hope for our children is that the Lord will grow in them a love of the gospel, and a love for Himself as they process and learn about their adoptions. And then, we hope that they will take that love, and give it away to others so that they and everyone else can see that the Lord is good and faithful and kind. While we have high hopes for all that our children can do in life, our greatest one is that their earthly adoptions will allow them to see how great and beautiful the gospel is, and that they will embrace it wholeheartedly and share it with others wherever the Lord takes them.

 

Violet's room is almost done. This wall faces east, and I took this picture around 9 AM this morning. I really love how the light floods into her and Lev's rooms and makes them feel large and airy and full, even though we;ve chosen to limit the amount of stuff in her room.  We picked very neutral and soothing greys and yellows for her room and a minimal amount of objects and stuff in her room to minimize sensory overloads.  We're also working on purging a bunch of other stuff around the house as well since we like this minimal thing way more than we thought we would. It's freeing to get rid of all your unnecessary stuff!

Violet’s room is almost done. This wall faces east, and I took this picture around 9 AM this morning. I really love how the light floods into her and Lev’s rooms and makes them feel large and airy and full, even though we’ve chosen to limit the amount of stuff in her room. We picked very neutral and soothing greys and yellows for her room and a minimal amount of objects and stuff in her room to minimize sensory overloads. We’re also working on purging a bunch of other stuff around the house as well since we like this minimal thing way more than we thought we would. It’s freeing to get rid of all your unnecessary stuff!

 

 

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Updates and Brain Dumps

So, updates- in list form though, because theres not much to elaborate on.

1. We sent Violet’s paperwork to the USCIS. It took 10 days to get a letter that said that they received our paperwork. Everyday Lev and I run out to the postbox to see if it’s our lucky day. It never is. I think the USCIS likes toying with me. It’ll show up. But I don’t have time lines anymore. I’ve given those up almost entirely. I just tell people that every day that goes by is one day closer to going back.

2. Our Both Hands project is coming along. I had to take a day or two to get over the customary disparaging remarks people like to make, but once I did, I discovered that I’m really excited about this project/fundraiser. It’s going to be a great service day. Our team sent out 250 letters, and I’m still sending a few more out this week. I’ll be writing a better post later this week or next.

3. Violets room is 90% ready. I just need  to hang a few last things, and find some curtains, and we’re good to go. I also want to get her a pair of shoes, but I think I’m going to wait to do that until we get there. I forgot to trace her feet in September.

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Sidenote: we did not paint the trees. They’re decals. We love them.

Also, here’s the main question people have been asking lately.

Are you going to do this again? This is kind of like the question you get when you graduate from College, or when people ask families with more 3 kids if they are going to have more. Kind of nosy, and  not their business, but I usually answer like this.

“I hope so, but not right away.”

I like the idea of adopting an older child maybe between 5 and 7. And definitely from Poland but we need to wait several years for this, and I’m ok with that. This has been a good experience. Except for the part where we had  to get a police clearance from Belarus. But I was on a first name basis with Oleg, the consulate general from Belarus, who pretended he didn’t speak English. I don’t hold that against him becuase he was always nice. So it wasn’t all bad.

Also, since we’re not actively adopting again for a while, I’d like to do something in the realm of adoption support and infertility support. I talked to my pastor tonight about having an infertility “Support group”. But support group is not really the phrase I’m looking for. I’m thinking more like doing something along the lines of a short Bible study/discussion group about a response to infertility. THe support aspect is there, but I’m also going for something along the lines of thinking about how the Lord uses intangible losses to shape our faith. I don’t want it to be a “Woe is me” thing as much as I want to it be a group of women who come together to talk about this loss, and be sad about it, but looking for ways to think redemptively (not the word I’m looking for, though) about it.

Another thing I’m thinking about is becoming a court appointed advocate for children in the foster system and court system. I think that working with people from my church in low income communities, and adopting and seeing kids in precarious situations has helped me think through my ideas about justice and children and immigration. And one thing that I’ve seen over and over is that the US citizen children of documented immigrants with limited language skills,  migrant workers and undocumented migrant works  are often lost in the shuffle, ignored by their social workers, and don’t have equal access to the resources they need to succeed, and their parents aren’t  sure how to get them these resources. I don’t like this, and something I pray about (not all the time, honestly, but more now that we’re near the end of this adoption) is ways to help parents advocate for their children. I’ve become more and convinced by Abraham Kuypers quote where he says that people don’t need another government program, they need CHristians to honor their savior. Basically I’m working along the lines of all social justice has to be pursued alongside the Gospel. I can advocate, teach people how to access the resourced their kids need and so on, but at the end of the day, if I’m not pointing them to Jesus, I’ve only done half of what I’m called to do.

Here’s the quote from Kuyper: (NOTE: I’m not suggesting that government programs are bad, and I’m not sure that Kuyper would have argued they are either, but I can’t say for sure. Government programs provide much needed relief and help for people. So please don’t hear me saying that. I think the quote is more for people like me and all Christians  to see that 1) we’re all called to work for social justice and 2) social justice can’t be fully realized apart from a relationship with Jesus, which means it has to be part of and result of our endeavors to bring the gospel to places it’s not. )

“the holy art of “giving for Jesus’ sake” ought to be much more strongly developed among us Christians. Never forget that all state relief for the poor is a blot on the honor of your savior. The fact that the government needs a safety net to catch those who would slip between the cracks of our economic system is evidence that I have failed to do God’s work. The government cannot take the place of Christian charity. A loving embrace isn’t given with food stamps. The care of a community isn’t provided with government housing. The face of our Creator can’t be seen on a welfare voucher. What the poor need is not another government program; what they need is for Christians like me to honor our savior.”
― Abraham KuyperThe Problem of Poverty

I got off topic there. But really, my brain dump is really a sign of how adoption has changed how I think. I don’t think that everyone thinks this way, or comes off a set of almost back to back adoptions with such a dramatic shift in how they think about social issues. I’m not saying that you’re shallow if you’ve adopted and don’t think about this. But however you’re changed, the change occurs. Adoption really does change you. It makes you aware of how fragile life is and yet how resilient people are, and how great our capacity to love is.