Category Archives: Adoption, Philippine

Becoming

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Small feet shuffle across the hallway in the middle of the night. A thickly accented voice whispers, “Mommy”. I pull back the covers and let him crawl in. I snuggle him close and listen as his breathing turns to soft snores. I know that he knows he is HOME.

Our story was so very different from what is typical. My birthing room was void of the usual bright lights and sterile equipment that had been there during my other four. There were no soft blankets or a bassinet waiting. That moment belonged to another. I did not nurse him in the middle of the night or spend hours rocking him to sleep. It is not I that holds memories of his toddler hood accomplishments of learning to walk and potty training. I was not even there to witness his first day of school or the loss of his first tooth.

 

 

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And so, we work hard these days to win back lost moments.  We are thick into the redemption process, and the one I am seeing who is being redeemed the most is me.  We are training little hearts who were once strangers to become brothers.  Children born with selfish natures and years spent apart, melded together now working to become a family.  I spend late nights praying HIS Word over sleeping forms, asking the Redeemer to redeem these little hearts and lives and make them His.  And I see myself, not so far removed from them, still far less in HIS likeness as I should be, and as I pray over them, I ask my Father to continue this redemption process in this heart.

And I know He will.  He Who adopted me, and called me His, He loves adoption.  I am so glad I get to be a part the process.

 

Why you should consider the Philippines

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Before we adopted, my friend Nikki did a post like this that was very helpful for us. We have been asked many questions about this process, so I thought I would go ahead and write a blog post about it. If you are considering adoption here are some reasons why the Philippines is a GREAT program.

1) THE COST
While all adoptions require a great deal of sacrifice on the adoptive parents part, the Filipino program is relatively inexpensive compared with many other domestic and international programs – up to $10,000 LESS depending on your agency.

2) IN COUNTRY STAY
For us a huge factor was the in country requirements. With four small children, we didn’t want to be separated from them for extreme amounts of time. The requirement for the Philippines is 3-5 days in country. There is only one trip required, and that is the trip to pick up your child!

3) INCOME STANDARDS
This is one which many families enter with knees shaking. Good news! THERE IS NO MINIMUM INCOME REQUIREMENT in order to adopt through the Philippines. The only U.S. requirement is that you meet these guidelines – http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.5af9bb95919f35e66f614176543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=73c63591ec04d010VgnVCM10000048f3d6a1RCRD

4) LOTS OF INFO
The Philippines is extremely thorough with the information that they give you regarding your child. They want your adoption to be successful as much as you want your adoption to be successful. They don’t want you to bring your child home and discover some huge issue that was hidden from you. They are extremely upfront about all information.

5) TIMELINE
The timeline in adopting a waiting child from the Philippines, is relatively fast. This does not apply if you are on the waiting list for a baby. If, however, you are willing to consider a child that may have some special needs (some extremely minor in nature) then, you can expect from the time you turn in your application to the time you bring your son or daughter home to wait about 8-12 mos.

6) SKYPE
This was a HUGE deal for us! If you are adopting a child that is a little bit older, they will usually grant your request to skype with your child once you have been officially matched. The times and how often are left up to the child caring agency and what is convenient for them. We have found that skype has been the best gift. It has taken away the nervousness of being strangers and has given us a chance to begin to get to know our son. I can’t even begin to describe what a gift this has been!

7) CAS
Here is my shameless plug for my amazing agency. Christian Adoption Services has been INCREDIBLE to work with. I have heard nightmares about other agencies, and I can confidently say we have nothing but glowing things to say about our agency. Jim and Jenica run the Philippines program, and they are both absolutely wonderful to work with. They really did everything for me that they possibly could have, and answered my one million questions. If you are looking to adopt, this is the agency to go with!

8) HAGUE
This is by far, one of the most important reasons you should consider the Philippines. Being a Hague country is a huge catalyst for preventing child trafficking. Many, many well-meaning couples decide to adopt, but they have a list of requirements of what type of child they are willing to consider. Unfortunately, this has opened the doors to trafficking. Children that aren’t really orphans are adopted on a regular basis. I strongly encourage you to research this issue before jumping into the international waters, and should you decide to go with a non-Hague country, please do your research and choose and agency that is completely above-board.
In a Hague country, the children have papers describing exactly why they were orphaned. If they, like my son, were abandoned, then you can rest assured that for at least a YEAR or MORE the child caring agency searched and searched through multiple means to find the child’s family and get anyone to come forward to care for them. If the child was surrendered, then there is a fingerprint or signature of the parent that made the decision. The records are very thorough and there is not mistaking, these children are truly orphaned. The Hague requirements protect against so much.

Thinking about international adoption? You should consider the Philippines!

Would it be you?

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Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
James 1:27

What I called discernment, was my way of making my judgemental heart appropriately spiritual. I’ve spent my life in church. I learned to dress up on Sundays, how to behave appropriately, and to tithe of my allowance at an impressively young age. I could quote Scripture and sing any song in the hymn book.

We make rules on our spirituality and make ourselves feel proud to have obstained from so much. We say that we do not, but we look down on those that have stained themselves by giving in to temptation and loosing their purity. Oh, how we must grieve the heart of God!

My life has changed in this adoption journey. So many people say things like ‘oh, how wonderful of you to adopt a little boy’, but what they don’t know, is how wonderful this single act has changed me.

Friends, we have bought into the ‘american dream’. We who have grown up in church. We who can quote passages of Scripture. We who can sing any hymn in the hymn book. We who tithe and give of our offereings. We have missed what HE has said is true religion. We believe to be good parents we must provide lavishly for our children. We believe we must take them on lavish vacations and spend large amount of money on them on their birthdays. When we compare this to His Word, what is truth? God says HE will provide for our children. He says a LOT about the love of money, and in every passage, He condemns it. Why would we want to teach our children that money is so very important?

We believe that we should only have a few children because more than a couple would be more than we can handle. We have begun to think of children as burdens, and not the blessings that He has proclaimed them to be! God has a great deal to say about children, and all of it speaks of how wonderful they are! While I’m not suggesting we all jump on the Duggar train, I think we should throw out our preconcieved ideas of limiting our family size. I think we should compare our thoughts in the light of His truth, and we may find ourselves wanting.

I read a book this year that changed my life. The entire concept of the book was based on the suggestion that if we took scissors and physically cut every passage in the Bible out that talks of taking care of the orphan and poor, our Bible would be so full of holes, it could barely stay together. I read it in shock. I realized that we the church, the bride of Christ have glossed over this hugely important piece of the heart of God.

As we have started the bartimaeus project and begun our adoption, I have read their stories and wept countless tears. Mothers, some children themselves, have given birth. Teenage girls that have been abused by people that should have loved and protected them most and now they are mothers themselves. Young women looking for love in the wrong places, and another baby is born. Parents in nightmarish circumstances that loose their lives and leave a child or many children behind. Who will care for them? Oh, Friend, can I suggest, that God intended it to be YOU and I? He clearly does not desire them to be fatherless. Who will rise up? Who would ask the hard questions of themselves and find that perhaps you could handle another blessing in your life? Would it be you?

This day

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“A Father to the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in His holy habitation.  God setteth the solitary in families:”  Ps. 68:5-6a

Today I met her for the first time over the phone.  Meeting her was like unwrapping a beautiful, unexpected gift.  She has known and volunteered with our Cedi boy since he was first brought to his orphanage as a 4 pound baby.

I’m learning there is a grief in adoption when it comes to your child’s past and you know absolutely nothing about it.  It startled me how much that part hurts.  My experience in parenthood has been being completely immersed in every second of their lives.  His life has been different.  He has 6 years that I will never know.  To find someone who knows and is willing to share those years with me is a connector piece between me and his missing years.  It is beautiful.  It is painful.

Today, I found her, my connector piece.  She shared with me stories that no file could contain.  She shared with me HIM.  I have read how he was sick when he was an infant, but to hear it from the woman who was nurse to him, and helped to make the decisions, was so very different from reading it in a file.

Today she told me about the infection that surrounded his heart.  She told me he needed heart surgery, but the money was not there.  She told me that his caregivers took 24 hour shifts sleeping on the floors of his hospital room so that he would never have to be alone.  She told me that when he came home and they realized there was nothing more they could do for him, they decided the one thing they could give him was love.  He was sent home to die, but he would know love.  They loved him well.  They fed him and cared for him and poured themselves into him.  Against all of the odds, against all of the understanding of the medical professionals, he got better.  In those dark hours HE was a Father to my fatherless boy.  He was watching, He was healing, and He was loving.  Maybe the best medicine for fatherless children, is indeed love.

Today she told me how he could not walk for a long time and they worried about him.  And so, one sweet man who acts as a papa to the children of the orphanage, made him parallel bars and a walker.  They worked with him and loved him.  He not only learned to walk, but he now runs and is in constant motion as all little boys should be.

I cried as I listened to her stories.  I cried for all that I had missed.  I cried for the mother that should have been there, but wasn’t.  I cried for all of the love the wonderful caregivers lavished on him.  And I cried because I am so humbled that God would give me a turn to love this amazing boy.  I am thankful that in the years that I was not there, he had a Father in heaven that was watching over him.  And I am thankful that that same Father, sets the lonely in families.   He has a beautiful work started in this little boy, and I believe it’s only just begun.

Thankfulness

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“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.” Phil. 1:3

We are at the very end of our adoption journey, friends. We are at the part that I had feared would never become real. Our son is acquiring his passport today, and we are simply waiting on a medical appointment and then our green light to travel. After nearly an eternity of paperwork, more emotions than I care to confess, earnest prayers begging God to provide, we are finally here.

I was not going to share this, but because a few people have asked me to put it up. We have been so very blessed with a matching grant from Hand in Hand for up to $3,000. The deadline is this Friday, and unfortunately, there is no online link, all donations must be mailed in. Any amount donated will be doubled up to $3,000. This is the very last bit we need to bring Cedi home.
Please send all donations made payable to “Hand in Hand Christian Adoption” postmarked by November 9th to: (for tax purposes please include our name on the outside of the envelope)
Hand in Hand Christian Adoption, Inc.
Emily & Justin Russell
18318 Mimosa Court
Gardner, KS 66030

So many of you have given to us financially or supported us in prayer, or been a listening ear when my unorganized self has screamed in frustration over the mountains of paperwork spread before me. So many of you have watched our children when we’ve had various adoption related appointments. You have encouraged me when I was weary. You’ve cheered with our victories and with each step closer to bringing our boy home. You have allowed God to use you.

From the beginning of our journey, I prayed that people would step out and become a part of our journey. Truthfully, I prayed this because I hoped that our journey would become personal to you. I hope that each time you see Cedi’s small hand tucked in one of ours, that you will know you helped give him a family. I hope that when you see him playing with his brothers and sister, you know that you helped bring him home. But mostly, I hoped that maybe, when you see him come home, you would look at your houses and find an empty spot that could fit an extra bed, an empty closet that could fit some small-clothes, an empty spot in your heart that could fit a son or a daughter. I hope that you could see, surely with God NOTHING is impossible. Instead of seeing the scariness of adoption, you will see Cedi, and know that the rewards far outweigh anything else. And you will know this, because you helped bring him home.

Truthfully, adoption was not a hard consideration for us. We KNOW what it means to be adopted, because you all have shown us everyday. Thank you for making us part of your family.

That kind of a Dad

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“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thought of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Jeremiah 29:11

I was privileged and I knew then, and I know it even more now. I had THAT kind of a Dad. My Dad is the jovial sort of man that everyone likes. He has a great sense of humor, that I like to think I was privileged enough to inherit. Whatever our interests were as children, he delved into with fervor. My sister decided she wanted to try her hand at gardening. My Dad, knowing absolutely nothing of the subject, took her to Lowes, they armed themselves with books on the subject and enough seeds to cover the entire yard with edible growth.  In the end, not one single, solitary plant lived, but my dad knew the memories they made that day were worth the investment.  He is that kind of a dad.

My dad was the kind of dad that all of the high school boys would come over to watch the game with.  As much as I would like to flatter myself with thoughts that they were coming for me, the truth was, they had found a friend in my dad and knew they were always welcome at our house.  He is that kind of a dad.

The truth is, our Heavenly Father is that kind of a dad as well.

Months ago, when we first saw Cedie’s picture on the special home finding list, I was so very afraid.  He was already five, and would likely be six before we brought him home.  What if he had scars that would never heal?  What if he hurt my other children?  What if he has an attachment disorder?  I had all of these fears and so very many more.  I certainly knew this was not a good time for us to be adopting, and surely the Lord knew that as well.  We could have said ‘no’.  We could have chosen to put it on the back burner, and ignore it.  No one would have blamed us.  But, oh, how I see now, the blessings we  would have missed!  Because the truth is, HE is that kind of a Dad.  He had this amazing little boy set aside that was a precious, precious gift.  This little boy has changed our lives in a thousand ways, and has yet to enter our home.  HE had the best surprise set aside for us, because HE is that kind of a Dad.  He longs to bless His children.

We have been blessed to be able to skype with our new son in this interim that we are waiting to pick him up.  We are getting to know his sweet and funny personality more and more each time we see him.  He has prayed with us, shared his memory verses, and we have seen glimpses of his beautiful heart.  His excitement over having a family has broken me.  He has asked to sleep with our pictures, and he carries the book that we gave him, everywhere.  He calls us Mommy and Daddy in his beautiful accent, and tells us he loves us.  All of these things have been wonderful, but the most moving was when his caregiver shared this with us, “He said, Cedie, would like for you to know that he has waited his whole life to have a Daddy.  He is so very, very excited to have a Daddy.  He would like to request to be the one to take his Daddy’s shoes off everyday when he comes home from work.  He would be honored to have that job.”

God had such a blessing waiting for me, a blessing I hardly deserve.  I get to be his mommy and shepherd his heart.  I am overwhelmed at my Father’s goodness to me.

Friend, if you are reading this, and you have felt a desire to adopt, please lay aside your fears, and rest assured, that HE is that kind of a Dad.  He is longing to bless you.  Would you step out and begin your journey?

Perspective

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“For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.”  Rom. 8:15

“We’ll never do this again, I promise!” His remorseful words were stated as I threw up yet again with this gift of morning sickness. “Don’t say it. This will be so worth it.” I assured him. I could see what he couldn’t. I knew that this baby’s first cry would cause my world to soar. I knew I would whisper in his ear “I know you” just as I had for his brothers. I knew that his first smile would make me cry and I would swear I’d never seen anything so beautiful – just like I had with the ones before him.

Creating life is a miracle, and every single day I am thankful I was allowed to take part in it. Every single day I am blessed by the four I have sought to bless. These four that grew beneath my heart and now fill every part of it, represent my future. Each day with them is a gift, and I don’t want to miss a minute of it. I couldn’t imagine my life being any more full.

I asked him if he thought he could love an adopted child as much as the four we have. “Of course!” he said as he looked at me incredulously. He saw what I couldn’t see. Never had he been sick with our children, or felt their movements deep within, or at great personal cost, given them life. He saw the end result. The beautiful child that we could love and make one of ours.

It is so much our perspective. Opening our hearts to HIS perspective, and allowing Him to work. He gives us His Spirit, He gives us the Spirit of adoption.

Here I am many months from that original conversation, and I see that even though he’s not growing underneath my heart, he is growing inside it. I long for that first moment that I hold him, just like the four before him. I know that just like the others before, the first time he smiles at me, I will cry and swear I’ve never seen anything so beautiful in all of my life. And this time I might whisper, “I can’t wait to know you!” We’ll have the rest of our lives, and I don’t want to miss a minute of it. My heart is full.