Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The one about Christmas 2014


First of all, I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!!

Truth is, this year Christmas looks nothing like I thought it would.



We still have empty suitcases & children halfway around the world.  Not what I thought this Christmas would look like at all. There have been, & will be, more tears as we wait to hold them in our arms.

But....

before you think I'm depressed & throwing a massive pity party, I want recount how the Lord has been present this Christmas season:

Christmas is my absolute, favorite time of year.  Not because of the commercialization of it all, but because I am constantly humbled by the magnitude of how much God loves us.  As a parent, I cannot fathom sending my child to die for someone else (especially someone with an ugly, hurting heart).  This is truly beyond my human comprehension & I am forever grateful He sent His son to show us just how much He loves us!

I'M GOING TO PREFACE THE REST OF THIS POST WITH THIS: I AM NOT, IN ANY CAPACITY BRAGGING ABOUT WHAT I HAVE ACHIEVED OR WHAT OUR COMMUNITY HAS DONE, BUT I AM BRAGGING ON BEHALF OF HOW THE LORD HAS SHOWN UP WHEN PEOPLE AROUND US HAVE REJECTED APATHY & IGNORANCE & STEPPED IN TO SERVE & GIVE--ALL BECAUSE HE GAVE FIRST!!

I cherish watching those around us give so abundantly & freely.  In our neighborhood, people took an entire angel tree & provided Christmas gifts for those less fortunate.  A family has also been led to love on children & families spending Christmas in the hospital & have been gathering presents to deliver today.  Good stuff.

If you know us at all, you know our lives have been forever changed & our hearts bent & broken for families & children in foster care & those built through adoption.  For the past several years, our community has been praying about our place in our community.  Several months ago, we were invited to our local DSS to meet with administration in order to hear what the needs are in our community.  We have such a wonderful partnership that is growing & evolving into something incredible & unique.  Last week, we were privileged to host a holiday meal for the child welfare department & I cannot even verbalize what an honor it was to play a small part in loving on the people on the front lines of the battle for families & children!








Things I learned from this event:

1) EVERY gesture of kindness touches someone's heart.
2) EVERYONE needs kindness.  EVERYONE.
3) Our community knows how to serve & does it with GRACE & SELFLESSNESS abounding.
4) The BEST LEADERS put action to their words.
5) Sometimes, being in the right place at the right time means the Lord CAN USE YOU in MIGHTY ways.
5) CHRISTMAS MIRACLES happen people.  For realz.
6) The BEST way to fight off depression is to find someone that needs more than you & GIVE BIG.
7) The Lord NEVER expects you to do it all alone or meet EVERY NEED by yourself: oftentimes, He asks us to speak up, speak out, & challenge those around us to #dosomething
8) GIVING feels GOOD & that's ok. He wants us to experience true JOY & sometimes the best way to do that is to GIVE because HE GAVE.
9) The NEED is GREAT; people are hurting & LOVE WINS EVERY TIME.
10) It is ALWAYS a good idea to recount the LORD'S BLESSINGS.  ALWAYS.

When we volunteered to serve a meal to DSS, we had no idea how much it would mean to the workers of the child welfare department.  I mean, how many of us serve a special meal to our own families around the holidays??  Didn't seem like that big of a deal to us, but the 15+ emails of gratitude we received showed us otherwise:

 "I was truly moved and I know our staff was so appreciative. They are the true heroes in the work we do and I cannot thank you enough for recognizing the job they do and the stress it brings." ~Ben Rose, Director


"I have never been a part of something so thoughtful for Child Welfare staff. That was truly amazing and heart felt!" ~Derek Heath, Investigations

"When I walked into the room for our division meeting I was so shocked to see the decorations and the beautiful ornament left for each worker. The idea was brilliant and very meaningful with the heart inside the state of North Carolina. The next thing I looked at were the center pieces and tree and thought, “Wow, this is for us?” We were told you guys were feeding us but nobody in a million years thought we would get the red carpet rolled out for us! Next we received an email stating what time the food would be ready and for us to go to the auditorium and SIT down as we were being served. I was like, really? This is for us? I supervise intake and the people you work with made sure my staff received their food even though we could not come down and sit and eat. The food was great but the thought was even greater!" ~Justice Johnson, Intake Supervisor

"Crystal shared the story of your pastor’s adoption story and it truly warmed our hearts to no end! In a business that easily makes one cynical it is so refreshing to know that truly kind and caring people not only exist in the world but in this community." ~Sharon Reese, Foster Care Supervisor

"I have worked here for over 14 years and I feel I speak for all of us when I say how wonderful and special it was to be recognized..." ~Tiffany Loiko, Adoption Social Worker

"The joy that was instilled in each of us has remained and continues to be a blessing. While I am thankful and humbled to have been a recipient of such kindness, I am even more grateful to have witnessed the love displayed to our staff, who endure so much and do not customarily receive this type of adoration. Thank you all for making so many happy." ~Cathy Rucker, Staff Development & Community Liasion
______________________________________________________________

And the GIVING our community has done this Christmas: OH THE GIVING!!  Our community has provided Christmas for just under 100 KIDS & FAMILIES that did not have the means or resources to provide for themselves!!! YES!!  People selflessly gave money, wishlist items, & most importantly are now praying over our local families in the most need. REJECTING APATHY & IGNORANCE to show someone else Christ's love?!?  Yes please!!

Several more families are committing to becoming licensed foster parents &/or pursing adoption.  Individuals are signing up to be Guardian ad Litems--child advocates for children seeking permanency.

And then there's this "Christmas Miracle"~

'This will be a Christmas like no other in the Isenhour household this year. As you know, Crystal and I began our adoption journey in January. But the process is extremely slow. Earlier in the month, Sierra asked Santa for a little sister for Christmas. Then, last Tuesday morning, I prayed that this would be our last Christmas without our new child, or, if God chooses, He would make this our first Christmas with our new child. Later that day, Crystal volunteered at a luncheon for DSS hosted by our church. At that luncheon, she was introduced to a social worker. Long story short, DSS delivered a 6 year-old girl to our home on Saturday! She is home with us! Merry Christmas!!"

Y'all.  I. CANNOT. EVEN. EXPRESS. THE. JOY.

People are making a difference in our community & it HUMBLES me BEYOND MEASURE to be in a position to see people stepping out in faith, into the messiness of life, & give of themselves to love another!!  What amazing ways to see the Lord at work!

This is also a very special season because yesterday, JP & I celebrated 8 years of marriage.  8 years!!  Yeah!!  People told us when we got married--& tried to explain to us--that we would love each other more & more with every year that passes, & they were right!  I really & truly loved him as much as I possibly could have the day we said "I do," but Christ-centered, unconditional love grows & evolves & is so much stronger than it was 8 years ago.





8 years looks pretty good on us if I do say so myself, ha! I am truly blessed!

As an anniversary gift, the CCCWA granted us a wonderful gift: we received email notification that our next piece of paper is on its way!  So, we are (un)officially one step closer to bringing home our boys, yay!!  Estimated travel is 8-10 weeks from now, we will keep you posted!  Our prayer has been that even though we wish they were with us, that our China boys have a very special last Christmas in China.

So....

even though this Christmas looks different than we thought it would, it has already been GREAT.  The Lord is sovereign & His love knows no bounds.  He gave us the ULTIMATE example of how to love selflessly, unconditionally, & with all that we have.  We are truly humbled & blessed to know this kind of love!


"And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria.So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. 
Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, 
goodwill toward men!”

~Luke 2: 1-14 NKJV~




Thursday, December 18, 2014

The one a month in the making (Chosen Race, part 2)

Apparently I forgot to publish this publicly!  I do apologize!!

It's a dreary, cold Sunday morning & I'm currently typing as my husband & son are upstairs snuggled comfortably & safely in their beds.  For this, my heart is happy.

It's been just over a month since our family & friends joined us for the inaugural Chosen Charlotte 10 Mile Race.  In  this post, I detailed the events of the days before the race & how God showed up & showed off in His perfect timing to bring our second son into our family. Good stuff y'all. 

So race day.  Oh man, race day.  Prior to this race, I would not call myself  a "real" runner.  I had dappled in the sport several times, even buying an expensive pair of shoes several summers ago (that in all fairness, did change my running world for the better).  Then I experienced an injury & carried a lot of fear when it came to running.  

Then the opportunity to take part in the Chosen Race came around & I knew I'd have to face my fears, strap on a new pair of shoes, & start training. Boy am I glad I did!


Participating in Chosen felt a bit like a wedding to me: there were lots of questions & things to organize ahead of time; things that didn't exactly quite right, & unexpected, unplanned wonderful things.  Then the day got here & there were so many of the people we love in one space celebrating what God is doing in & through our family.  Then exhaustion & processing through it all :)  Not all that different from a wedding....ha!

So the night before the race, family & out-of-town friends flooded in for the celebration.  People came in to volunteer, walk, & run the race with us.  And we lied to many of them...eeek!  We are still sorry about lying, but we are not sorry about why ;-)

Many times on Friday night, we were asked if we had heard anything about the little 5-yr old guy we hoped would become our son.  As you know from my previous post, we found out just that morning that we would have the opportunity to become his family.  But we wanted to tell our family in person first.  

Then Friday night (kinda) fell apart & we missed that opportunity. 

Jonathan & I stayed up late, processing through the events of the day, making a poster for our teammates to sign, & cherishing the news that we are getting 2 sons!

The next morning was only slightly chaotic ;-)

Everyone seemed to make it to the race in plenty of time; there were only 2 registration packets we couldn't locate (which we eventually did); & the atmosphere was electric & exciting as many families gathered with their loved ones to volunteer, run, & walk for someone besides themselves. 

We gathered EqualsZero--Team Patterson around to pray & take pictures prior to the race starting, & it was at this moment that Jonathan, Jayson, & I were able to share publicly that we are getting 2 boys.






It was, by far, one of the BEST moments of the day & this journey for us!!

People signed our poster, we snapped a few team pictures & prayed together before we took off


Our family

Doctors Bobby Levy & Robert Poetta

(Most of) EqualsZero--Team Patterson

getting ready to start

teammates signing the poster

Cousin Erica signing the psoter


JP pinning on his bib
The BEST Papa in the world!! 
Cousins Erica & Emily showing their support--& being photobomed by Dr. Stephen Renfrow :)



    




Our fabulous residency friends, Lauren Thomas, Lauren Paul, & Erica Pate (& little baby Pate)
These lovely ladies manned water station 4 & were a HUGE encouragement!!
pre-race strategizing with our resident marathon friend, Gray Riley

We had a balloon release & a moment of silence in honor of the 10 members of the Hendrick family & crew that died 10 years ago. 

Some of the beautiful women of our family that came out to walk: Cousins Erica & Emily, the PROUDEST Gammie around, & our loving Aunt Donna

My motivation

The best accountability partner & friend a girl could ask for, Alexis Morris



And with that, we were off!  

There are countless stories of the how & why people decided to jump feet first into this crazy journey with us, but I want to share 2 of them with the world:  I love my parents.  100%.   Completely & wholeheartedly for the very imperfect, very wonderful, God-fearing people they are.  My Mama & Daddy did a killer job raising us in a very broken, hurting world & by far the best thing they did for us was to show us God's love.  Mess up? There's His grace.  Get angry? There's His forgiveness.  Let Satan win a battle?  There's stubbornness that knows he does not get to win the war.  Show up.  Be present.  Love with everything you have, even when it hurts or requires sacrifices.  Make allowances for each other's faults but by golly, challenge each other to press into God that much harder next time.  Laugh often.  Notice others.  Be loyal.  Be grateful.  Serve well.  Give 100% in everything you do.  Forgive.  Love. 

All of that being said, I honestly wasn't sure if or what my parent's roles might become for this race.  Knowing they support our adoption journey, I expected them to be present, but I honestly didn't expect this: 



or this....


When I think of my Dad, I think of a man that is loyal.  He shares his opinions boldly & unashamedly.  He does not quit.  He is a man of great conviction & those close to him know exactly where his heart & his loyalties lie.  I love these things about him.  And on race day, I got to see all these qualities reflected in my Mama.  Like me, she has never done anything like this before, but she decided months ago she was going to walk the 10 miles & "not finish last."  Months of training & a die-hard commitment paid off: she never quit & she did not finish last!!  

My Mama is a gifted server & grace-giver.  I'm convinced that on a good day, she could out-give Mother Theresa.  She has a quite strength about her that is not to be underestimated. She always put her family's needs before her own.  She serves well.  She has a natural gift for meeting the needs of others.  On race day, I got to see these qualities reflected in my Daddy. Less than 6 months out from knee repair surgery, he was there waiting at the finish line on bended knee, the official "tag cutter" of Chosen 2014.  

None of the qualities listed above are exclusive to either of my parents, but what touched me the most is to experience what God desires marriages to be: an exchange of the best qualities in each other that demonstrate Christ's love to those around.  Such an unexpected blessing from this day. 

I cannot even verbalize how humbled & blessed our family is knowing how loved & supported we are!!!!  

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you~

Jonathan, DeAnna, Jayson, & our China boys

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The one with #nationaladoptionmonth Day #22

If we're "friends" on Facebook, then you know that this month I have been posting 1 or more posts/day regarding something about adoption.  This is in celebration of National Adoption Month.
For us, this journey is not only about the boys we get to call our own, but about removing ignorance & indifference in our community.

Today is Day #22.  It is also #nationaladoptionday here in the US

Oh the feels.

Then tonight, a spiritual leader near & dear to my heart asked us to reflect on what we're most thankful for this year.

Oh the feels.

Today has been a day of feels & LOTS of them.

In a nutshell, what I am thankful for most this year is that when God calls us to the impossible, He never asks us to do it alone.  He gives us everything we need if we rest in His presence & trust Him with the impossible.

And I am so grateful that He has given us a family that extends beyond biologic ties into friendships that we cherish.  During this adoption, our community has shown their support in very tangible, loving ways.  They have shown up to volunteer & run 10 miles.  They have prayed for us & over us (& our paperwork).  They have donated money to our adoption.  They have bought t-shirts & fair-trade jewelry with proceeds benefiting our adoption.  They have prayed for the Lord to hold our boys tightly, protect their hearts, & keep them safe until we get to meet them (& ongoing).  They have met us where we are & journeyed through days when we cheered & days when we cried.  

For these things & more, I am grateful (and if I could have shared this verbally tonight without crying, I would have!)

Today is also #nationaladoptionday.

Oh the feels.

Days like today are wonderful & hard.  Today, there are many families rejoicing in the finalization of their adoptive journeys.  Children that woke up today with no place to belong, are resting tonight with the commitment of family; a place of identity; a new last name; a place to belong.  We rejoice with them as their journey to healing & redemption begins!  This is the "wonderful" of days like today....

Sidebar: if you want to check out some incredible pictures from today's celebrations, check out Together We Rise online or on Facebook.

The hard part about days like today is that there is an innate sense of loss & pain anytime there is the need for adoption.  And I think about the children waiting for families; the children that will never be adopted; the children that will die waiting.

And then there is my own selfishness.  Selfishly, with every picture I see, my heart wishes it was my boys, my family, my smiling face.  I get how selfish this is, trust me I do.  But it's the truth.  I wish that tonight, our boys were home, safely tucked into their beds, with a new last name & a place to belong.

Instead we wait.  We choose joy; we choose gratitude; & we work through all the feels one step at a time.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The one with the race & THE news!! (Part 1)

The past few weeks have been quite a physical & emotional roller-coaster for our family & this is a feeble attempt to capture the details.  So here we go:

Details you need to know:
-At this point, we are legally matched to our 2.5yr old son & waiting to hear back from China about our paperwork
-We still know nothing concrete about the 5yr old boy we've requested to adopt
-We have been waiting 14+ months to hear if China has released his file & if we get to adopt him
-Our agency is based out of Colorado, so there is a 3 hour time difference
-We are prepping for the Chosen 10 Mile Race that would be held Saturday, 10/18/2014--I am slightly injured & JP has never run that far, ha!
-We are selling our incredibly awesome "Faith of a mustard seed" t-shirts designed by our Jayson & our talented friend Ryan

So here we go:

Friday, September 26, 2014

Per our usual routine, we called our agency to ask for an update our little guy.  When I called for the update, I knew something was up.

Because here's the thing: social workers are smart creatures.  The good ones are quite skilled at saying just enough to answer your questions without revealing information they are not allowed to reveal.  This is what happened during this particular conversation.  She asked me if Jonathan & I had discussed what we would do if we were not matched with him--& my heart sank.  I diplomatically replied "no," we had not & she proceeded to suggest that we begin having that conversation.

That was all, nothing more, nothing less, & no further answers at that time.

Let me interrupt myself here to let you know that our contact person at the agency has been NOTHING but kind, empathetic, & efficient in her communication efforts with us; therefore, we were not angry with her, but understood this was all part of the process.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Two weeks have passed since the ominous phone call.  We spent the 2 weeks looking at each other saying, "this sucks."  And it did.  It really, really did.  Because we may not be social workers, but we're smart creatures too.  When you adopt, you learn a thing or two about "deductive reasoning" & "the gut feeling."  Neither worked in our favor here.

After the phone call, deductive reasoning suggested that his file had been released by the CCCWA (China's adoption authority) & that our agency had it in their hands.  This would have been a good thing except for the discussion that took place on 9/26. So we deductively reasoned that yes, our agency had his file, & yes, there was another family interested in adopting him-or a child like him- & yes, they were ahead of us in line.

Let me interrupt again: the way China works is that everyone that wishes to adopt from China signs on with an agency, describes the type of child they would like to adopt, submits this paperwork, & is placed on a list, in chronologic order by the date they submitted paperwork. When a child comes available, they simply go down the list & offer the file to families whose request meet the child's characteristics.  

In our circumstances, this means another family requested to see his file, or one like it, prior to the date we did.  Therefore, they got to see it first.  If they said "yes, we want to adopt him," he would be adopted by their family; if not, his file would move on to the next family--& we weren't exactly sure where we were in line (we really thought we were family #3).

On our way to dinner the evening of the 10th, our social worker from the agency called us & let us know that our deductive reasoning was correct: there was another family, potentially 2, in front of us in line, they had his file, & they were trying to make a decision.

And so we struggled.  We couldn't really talk about it for a few days as we both attempted to wrap our heads around the reality that God just might have a different plan for this little one than the one we thought He had.

And in my gut, I knew we had 'lost' him.

We prayed ultimately that His will would be done: we know how greatly our lives have been changed, how much stronger we are as individuals, as a family, & how much clearer we see how God loves us through our adoption journey with Jayson--& who are we to want to take that from someone else?!?  We know God loves this little boy more than we ever could, & we trust Him with his life. We felt confident that we could love this little guy, provide for him, & meet his needs, but who's to say this other family couldn't do all those things as well??  We know that more than anything, we want to be God's hands & feet in this little one's life, as we build relationship & work to bring His restoration to the dark, hurt corners of his life....but who's to say the other family wouldn't do those things too??

So we did the only thing we could do: we prayed for the other family to be courageous & wise & we prayed for our little one's future.  We prayed that if God wanted him in their home, that they would be courageous enough to say yes, despite the unknowns.  We prayed that if He didn't, they would be courageous enough to say no & that they would know God's peace about the decision, regardless of the outcome.

So we clung, ever so tightly, to the mustard seed of faith that God had indeed given us His vision for our family & that he would be ours, despite the odds stacked against us.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Jonathan never really did wrap his head around the fact that this little boy might go home with another family.  He just knew God was going to pull through, show off, & bring him home to us.  I, on the other hand, wasn't so sure.  I struggled with God, wrestled with Him.  Did He bring this little guy to us so that we would know & adopt our 2.5yr old?  Was there another child He was asking us to adopt?  Was it only going our 2.5yr old & could I really be joyful & happy if so?

I had a million questions.

Did He bring this little one into our lives so we would have an ounce of understanding of what it's like to love someone we've never met, long for them, & yet not get to spend this life with them?  Was this all so we could relate to how our adopted children must feel about their belly parents & families??  Is this how our children's biologic parents feel about the children they have trusted us to raise as our own??

And I am reminded of the painful part of this journey for all involved: there is no adoption without loss.

So as you can imagine, I didn't sleep much last week:  there's a 12-hour difference between us & our boys, so when we go to sleep, they're getting up for the day.  When we wake up, they're going to sleep.  I often wonder who's tucking them in for the night.  Are they warm/cool?  Are they hungry?  Are they happy/sad?  How will Jayson adjust?  What can we be doing to make the adjustment easier on him?  Is he making real friends at school?  How's my sweet, faithful husband's heart?  How can I love him well through this? Where in the world is the family that has his file?  Are they scared?  Are they at peace?  Are we becoming a family of 4 or a family of 5?  Holy cow, how are we going to do this?!?  What if we "lose" him?  How are we going to cope?  How do we tell Jayson?  Will we be able to find out who adopted him?  Can we send him the 100 wishes quilt we're making for him anyway?  What if they put him up for re-adoption?

These are just some of the thoughts that keep me up at night.

So I did the only thing I knew to do: I started praying.  I prayed for the Mom & Dad that had his file.  I prayed that they would be courageous & know peace in their decision.  I wondered what they were like.  I wondered if they had other kiddos.  I prayed for their family to love him unconditionally & unashamedly if he was going to be theirs.

And I prayed for my own heart.  I asked God to change my heart about this kiddo if he wasn't going to be ours, & I begged Him to help me fall out of love with a child I've never met so that I can focus on the people He's blessed me with.

He didn't answer this request.

Friday, October 17, 2014

I woke up Friday morning before the Chosen race excited, nervous, & feeling as though my heart was being pulled in a million different directions.  I am so very, very honored to be becoming a Mama again to a beautiful little 2.5yr old boy!  And I am so very, very proud to be married to Jonathan & to get to be Jayson's Mama; the magnitude of these blessings is not lost on me!

As much as my heart longs to know what's going on with the 5yr old little guy, I am overwhelmed with joy to get to love our newest son!  Everything we can tell from our video update shows us how adorable, feisty, & smart he is & we cannot wait to meet him!

But every time my phone rang my heart skipped a beat.

So there I was, slightly injured (difficulty with my left IT band from running, so I am walking with a limp), answering questions about race registration, & in my hairdresser's chair getting my hair done for the first time in many moons.

And the phone rang.

10:44am EST, 7:44 Colorado time

"How are you doing today?"  ~agency social worker

"Okayyyyyy (thinking to myself "my answer really depends on what you're about to say!).....what's up?"  ~me

"I have a little boy here that needs a home."  ~agency social worker

"Is it ______ (code name of the 5yr old boy)?!??!"  ~me

"It is!!!" ~agency social worker

And when I tell you I cried tears of joy, I'm being for real: there, in the hairdresser chair with my hair soaking wet & half way done, I cried uncontrollable tears of joy!!!

Best haircut of my life!

"We don't care what's in his file, we say 'yes!'  Jonathan said I could say that!!"  ~me

"I just got off the phone with the other potential family & they have declined to adopt him.  They've had some things come up in their family & they know they cannot meet his needs right now.  She said she had to call first thing this morning.  She was very heartbroken & hated to say no, but have wrestled with the decision & they didn't sleep at all last night.  This morning, she looked at her husband & he said, 'I know, he isn't our son.'  She said she knew he was right, but they haven't stopped crying since.  I hope you don't mind, but I shared a little about your family & how much you've longed for this child.  She seemed very grateful to know he is going to be loved & well cared for."  ~agency social worker

And to the Mama that had the wisdom & courage to say 'no' when I know it broke your heart: If you are somehow, someway, through the miracle of the internet reading this, I cannot tell you how honored we are that not one set of parents, but 2 are trusting us to raise this beautiful little boy as our own.  You are a brave woman & I respect how difficult this decision must have been for your family.  We do not see this as "us winning" but a beautiful part of the story that we will share with him one day & that he will know how much he is loved by your family as well.  Just as I would promise his belly Mama, I promise you that I will love him unconditionally, unashamedly, & with everything that I have to give.  Our family is no where near perfect, but we love each other with reckless abandon & promise we will strive to love him the way our Heavenly Father loves us!  From the bottom of my heart, thank you for letting us love him!!





And that, my friends, is how our God works in mighty & mysterious ways!!  That, my friends, is HIS timing at its finest, writing a story with details we could not have orchestrated if we had tried!!  That, my friends, is validation that all it takes is a tiny amount--a mustard seed sized--faith that God will come through on His promises!!

That, my friends, is how we became the Pattersons, Party of 5!!!!

And now I am emotionally spent & promise to re-convene with details from Chosen Race in part 2

....trust me, you'll want to read it too!!













The one with the race & THE news!! (Part 1)

The past few weeks have been quite a physical & emotional roller-coaster for our family & this is a feeble attempt to capture the details.  So here we go:

Details you need to know:
-At this point, we are legally matched to our 2.5yr old son & waiting to hear back from China about our paperwork
-We still know nothing concrete about the 5yr old boy we've requested to adopt
-We have been waiting 14+ months to hear if China has released his file & if we get to adopt him
-Our agency is based out of Colorado, so there is a 3 hour time difference
-We are prepping for the Chosen 10 Mile Race that would be held Saturday, 10/18/2014--I am slightly injured & JP has never run that far, ha!
-We are selling our incredibly awesome "Faith of a mustard seed" t-shirts designed by our Jayson & our talented friend Ryan

So here we go:

Friday, September 26, 2014

Per our usual routine, we called our agency to ask for an update our little guy.  When I called for the update, I knew something was up.

Because here's the thing: social workers are smart creatures.  The good ones are quite skilled at saying just enough to answer your questions without revealing information they are not allowed to reveal.  This is what happened during this particular conversation.  She asked me if Jonathan & I had discussed what we would do if we were not matched with him--& my heart sank.  I diplomatically replied "no," we had not & she proceeded to suggest that we begin having that conversation.

That was all, nothing more, nothing less, & no further answers at that time.

Let me interrupt myself here to let you know that our contact person at the agency has been NOTHING but kind, empathetic, & efficient in her communication efforts with us; therefore, we were not angry with her, but understood this was all part of the process.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Two weeks have passed since the ominous phone call.  We spent the 2 weeks looking at each other saying, "this sucks."  And it did.  It really, really did.  Because we may not be social workers, but we're smart creatures too.  When you adopt, you learn a thing or two about "deductive reasoning" & "the gut feeling."  Neither worked in our favor here.

After the phone call, deductive reasoning suggested that his file had been released by the CCCWA (China's adoption authority) & that our agency had it in their hands.  This would have been a good thing except for the discussion that took place on 9/26. So we deductively reasoned that yes, our agency had his file, & yes, there was another family interested in adopting him-or a child like him- & yes, they were ahead of us in line.

Let me interrupt again: the way China works is that everyone that wishes to adopt from China signs on with an agency, describes the type of child they would like to adopt, submits this paperwork, & is placed on a list, in chronologic order by the date they submitted paperwork. When a child comes available, they simply go down the list & offer the file to families whose request meet the child's characteristics.  

In our circumstances, this means another family requested to see his file, or one like it, prior to the date we did.  Therefore, they got to see it first.  If they said "yes, we want to adopt him," he would be adopted by their family; if not, his file would move on to the next family--& we weren't exactly sure where we were in line (we really thought we were family #3).

On our way to dinner the evening of the 10th, our social worker from the agency called us & let us know that our deductive reasoning was correct: there was another family, potentially 2, in front of us in line, they had his file, & they were trying to make a decision.

And so we struggled.  We couldn't really talk about it for a few days as we both attempted to wrap our heads around the reality that God just might have a different plan for this little one than the one we thought He had.

And in my gut, I knew we had 'lost' him.

We prayed ultimately that His will would be done: we know how greatly our lives have been changed, how much stronger we are as individuals, as a family, & how much clearer we see how God loves us through our adoption journey with Jayson--& who are we to want to take that from someone else?!?  We know God loves this little boy more than we ever could, & we trust Him with his life. We felt confident that we could love this little guy, provide for him, & meet his needs, but who's to say this other family couldn't do all those things as well??  We know that more than anything, we want to be God's hands & feet in this little one's life, as we build relationship & work to bring His restoration to the dark, hurt corners of his life....but who's to say the other family wouldn't do those things too??

So we did the only thing we could do: we prayed for the other family to be courageous & wise & we prayed for our little one's future.  We prayed that if God wanted him in their home, that they would be courageous enough to say yes, despite the unknowns.  We prayed that if He didn't, they would be courageous enough to say no & that they would know God's peace about the decision, regardless of the outcome.

So we clung, ever so tightly, to the mustard seed of faith that God had indeed given us His vision for our family & that he would be ours, despite the odds stacked against us.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Jonathan never really did wrap his head around the fact that this little boy might go home with another family.  He just knew God was going to pull through, show off, & bring him home to us.  I, on the other hand, wasn't so sure.  I struggled with God, wrestled with Him.  Did He bring this little guy to us so that we would know & adopt our 2.5yr old?  Was there another child He was asking us to adopt?  Was it only going our 2.5yr old & could I really be joyful & happy if so?

I had a million questions.

Did He bring this little one into our lives so we would have an ounce of understanding of what it's like to love someone we've never met, long for them, & yet not get to spend this life with them?  Was this all so we could relate to how our adopted children must feel about their belly parents & families??  Is this how our children's biologic parents feel about the children they have trusted us to raise as our own??

And I am reminded of the painful part of this journey for all involved: there is no adoption without loss.

So as you can imagine, I didn't sleep much last week:  there's a 12-hour difference between us & our boys, so when we go to sleep, they're getting up for the day.  When we wake up, they're going to sleep.  I often wonder who's tucking them in for the night.  Are they warm/cool?  Are they hungry?  Are they happy/sad?  How will Jayson adjust?  What can we be doing to make the adjustment easier on him?  Is he making real friends at school?  How's my sweet, faithful husband's heart?  How can I love him well through this? Where in the world is the family that has his file?  Are they scared?  Are they at peace?  Are we becoming a family of 4 or a family of 5?  Holy cow, how are we going to do this?!?  What if we "lose" him?  How are we going to cope?  How do we tell Jayson?  Will we be able to find out who adopted him?  Can we send him the 100 wishes quilt we're making for him anyway?  What if they put him up for re-adoption?

These are just some of the thoughts that keep me up at night.

So I did the only thing I knew to do: I started praying.  I prayed for the Mom & Dad that had his file.  I prayed that they would be courageous & know peace in their decision.  I wondered what they were like.  I wondered if they had other kiddos.  I prayed for their family to love him unconditionally & unashamedly if he was going to be theirs.

And I prayed for my own heart.  I asked God to change my heart about this kiddo if he wasn't going to be ours, & I begged Him to help me fall out of love with a child I've never met so that I can focus on the people He's blessed me with.

He didn't answer this request.

Friday, October 17, 2014

I woke up Friday morning before the Chosen race excited, nervous, & feeling as though my heart was being pulled in a million different directions.  I am so very, very honored to be becoming a Mama again to a beautiful little 2.5yr old boy!  And I am so very, very proud to be married to Jonathan & to get to be Jayson's Mama; the magnitude of these blessings is not lost on me!

As much as my heart longs to know what's going on with the 5yr old little guy, I am overwhelmed with joy to get to love our newest son!  Everything we can tell from our video update shows us how adorable, feisty, & smart he is & we cannot wait to meet him!

But every time my phone rang my heart skipped a beat.

So there I was, slightly injured (difficulty with my left IT band from running, so I am walking with a limp), answering questions about race registration, & in my hairdresser's chair getting my hair done for the first time in many moons.

And the phone rang.

10:44am EST, 7:44 Colorado time

"How are you doing today?"  ~agency social worker

"Okayyyyyy (thinking to myself "my answer really depends on what you're about to say!).....what's up?"  ~me

"I have a little boy here that needs a home."  ~agency social worker

"Is it ______ (code name of the 5yr old boy)?!??!"  ~me

"It is!!!" ~agency social worker

And when I tell you I cried tears of joy, I'm being for real: there, in the hairdresser chair with my hair soaking wet & half way done, I cried uncontrollable tears of joy!!!

Best haircut of my life!

"We don't care what's in his file, we say 'yes!'  Jonathan said I could say that!!"  ~me

"I just got off the phone with the other potential family & they have declined to adopt him.  They've had some things come up in their family & they know they cannot meet his needs right now.  She said she had to call first thing this morning.  She was very heartbroken & hated to say no, but have wrestled with the decision & they didn't sleep at all last night.  This morning, she looked at her husband & he said, 'I know, he isn't our son.'  She said she knew he was right, but they haven't stopped crying since.  I hope you don't mind, but I shared a little about your family & how much you've longed for this child.  She seemed very grateful to know he is going to be loved & well cared for."  ~agency social worker

And to the Mama that had the wisdom & courage to say 'no' when I know it broke your heart: If you are somehow, someway, through the miracle of the internet reading this, I cannot tell you how honored we are that not one set of parents, but 2 are trusting us to raise this beautiful little boy as our own.  You are a brave woman & I respect how difficult this decision must have been for your family.  We do not see this as "us winning" but a beautiful part of the story that we will share with him one day & that he will know how much he is loved by your family as well.  Just as I would promise his belly Mama, I promise you that I will love him unconditionally, unashamedly, & with everything that I have to give.  Our family is no where near perfect, but we love each other with reckless abandon & promise we will strive to love him the way our Heavenly Father loves us!  From the bottom of my heart, thank you for letting us love him!!





And that, my friends, is how our God works in mighty & mysterious ways!!  That, my friends, is HIS timing at its finest, writing a story with details we could not have orchestrated if we had tried!!  That, my friends, is validation that all it takes is a tiny amount--a mustard seed sized--faith that God will come through on His promises!!

That, my friends, is how we became the Pattersons, Party of 5!!!!

And now I am emotionally spent & promise to re-convene with details from Chosen Race in part 2

....trust me, you'll want to read it too!!













Monday, September 29, 2014

The one with Jeremiah & the t-shirt

So we're hoping to travel in the next few months to get our sweet boys.  We have no official update yet, but please continue praying!

Today's verses from YouVersion--an amazing website/app-- are Jeremiah 33:1-3 NLT

"While Jeremiah was still confined in the courtyard of the guard, the Lord gave him this second message: 'This is what the Lord says—the Lord who made the earth, who formed and established it, whose name is the Lord: Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come.'"

Wow, this one nailed me in the heart like a 2x4 to the face!  A few thoughts: 1) Jeremiah was in jail. JAIL. EEK. 2) He was still seeking the Lord despite his earthly circumstances. 3) He could hear the Lord's voice 4) God promises if we ask, He will answer.

As we wait on the Lord, we find ourselves in the position to live this scripture to its fullest.  We know God has a magnificent plan our lives & our boy's lives; & we know He loves them more than we ever could.  What our souls know & our minds wrestle with are often pinned against each other in stark contrast & sometimes it's tough to see the story God is writing.

So we have "mustard seed" days:  days where we are waiting & we cannot see the plan unfolding.  Days when we know what He's called us to & we cling to His promises because it's all we have.  Days when there is nothing left to do except wait on Him--& the Chinese government--& pray.

Today is a "mustard seed" day.  Honestly, I fear we may be in for a "mustard seed" week.  But that's ok.  We know & trust the journey as God has revealed to us so far, & we are clinging to our mustard seed as we ask Him to show us the "remarkable secrets we do not know about things to come."

As you know from previous stories, God has abundantly blessed us in this journey of adoption.  In addition to the details in this post, we've had friends provide the funds for Chosen Charlotte  advertising materials & the prayer support we've had is incredibly amazing!

We are so blessed.

There are many families that use creative methods for fundraising for their adoption.  After much prayer & consideration, Jonathan & I decided to sell t-shirts to raise money to support our upcoming travel expenses.

We've actually worked on it for several months now, & the we think the result is pretty AMAZING:


Jonathan & I have drawn great strength & encouragement from Matthew 17:20--the "mustard seed" scripture.  This is the inspiration of the t-shirt. 

The Chinese characters represent "faith in God" & the word "faith" & the scripture reference is written by our 7 year old son, Jayson.  

Our dear friend, Ryan Morris, is massively talented & has worked relentlessly to help create the final product. We are very grateful to him & his wife Alexis for how they have helped us & loved on us!

The colors for the design of the shirt were chosen because of what they symbolize in Chinese tradition: the color red represents good luck, celebration, happiness, joy, vitality, & long life.  The color black is the traditional color for young boys (who will continue the family/ ancestor lineages); also represents stability, knowledge, trust, adaptability, will, & emotional protection.  The color orange indicates change, adaptability, spontaneity, & strengthens concentration.

This truly has been an act of love & we are so excited for each of you to have the opportunity to purchase one!  We will profit $9.50 from each shirt sold, & there are kid's, women's slimfit, long-sleeved, & hoodie sizes available in addition to the standard unisex t-shirt!

If you're planning on joining us for our airport homecoming---when we arrive back in the US from China with our boys (there is not a specific date yet & ALL are welcome)--we'd LOVE for you to purchase one so we can see the sea of red, Faith in God when we return home!!

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE:   https://www.bonfirefunds.com/patterson-family-adoption

Thank you all for your love & support, we will keep you posted~

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The one with emails, mandatory unemployment, & goats in Guatemala

Hello~

Today we'll start with emails.  Ahh, emails.  In the process of adoption, every email that comes through could be "the one we've been waiting for."  You know, the one that provides an update on our child or our paperwork.  The one saying the government, immigration, or some other important entity has approved our most recent request.  The one confirming that we've been legally matched to our son.

Those emails look something like these:




And sometimes, emails that come do so to inform us of the next payment due in the process.  For numerous reasons, international adoption can be very expensive--this is different than adopting from the US foster care system which typically requires very little expense on the adopting family's part-- & This blog post from Show Hope does a great job of explaining the expenses involved.  

So sometimes when the chime on my phone signals a new email it's wonderful news, & sometimes it's a new opportunity for us to put our money where our faith is & trust God with His plan!

[By the way, the agency we're working with for our China adoption has been FANTASTIC when it comes to giving us the cost estimate up-front & I'd be glad to discuss this part of it with anyone that is earnestly interested in learning!]

If you've read previous posts, you know my amazing hubby Jonathan--whom I like to brag about publicly--recently graduated & was given a mandatory 8 weeks off between graduation & starting his new job.  This was precious time for us as a family & a couple, but it meant we had no income for that 8 week period.  

So we prayed.  And we planned.  And we saved.  And we pinched pennies to ensure we could finance our everyday life while in the midst of an international adoption. 

You see, up to this point, we have been blessed to have paid for all our adoption costs out of pocket, but we knew this hiatus & the timing of our paperwork could be tricky.  

But as with every story that God writes, He had a plan to show up & show off during this time, despite our best planning efforts!

We knew what the costs were going to be that were associated with sending our paperwork to China, & we knew we were looking at a substantial amount in fees as our paperwork moved.  Honestly, the best plan we could come up with was to wait until Jonathan got his first paycheck--which would include a sign-on bonus--to use that money to move forward.  This would have resulted in an approximate 8 week delay in our paperwork, but we saw no other choice at the time.  

So God showed up & showed us His plan. 

I have to tell you that we have this INCREDIBLE community of adoptive families in our lives.  They are nothing short of AMAZING & it is such a blessing to do life with people that get it.  People that get the joys & sorrows of stepping into this world & recklessly pursuing the Father's heart in this way.  They are truly a blessing from God!  If you're a foster or adoptive family & you don't have a community of support, FIND one!  Right now, go!  Or call me if you get stumped & we'll find you one!  It's that important.

Back to the story: One summer afternoon we spent some time with one of the families & as we were leaving, they handed us an envelope.  We didn't open it until we got home, but the amount of the check they gave us to support our adoption nearly knocked me off my feet.  $2,000.

Of course we tried to give it back, & they wouldn't take it.  

The following week we were advised by our agency that we needed to pay $1,950 to send our paperwork to China.  With no income.  But we had a $2,000 check from friends that love like the Lord does.  So we paid the bill & our paperwork inched forward.  

Chills up & down my spine FOR REAL!  Our friends had no idea, we had no idea [we knew that payment was coming but didn't know when & we hadn't discussed it with anyone].  It was simply what they felt led to give--only God can do that y'all!

Ready for the "goats in Guatemala part?"  

So I have this friend whom I've only met once in person. She too is an adoptive mama & has had her eyes opened to the plight of women living in poverty around the world & how that directly contributes to the global orphan crisis.  She has since partnered with an amazing company that allows women to make jewelry, accessories, & home decor to be sold in the US.  These are women living in areas of the world where they would otherwise be unemployable.  Amazing stuff, truly!

So she emailed me & asked me if I wanted to do a Facebook fundraiser for our adoption.  We would partner together, she would virtually "host" a show, & she would donate her entire commission to our adoption.  Raising awareness & support for women around the world while fundraising AND our supporters would walk away with incredible gifts that would tell the story again & again....no-brainer!!

And one of the coolest parts of it all is that this particular company--in addition to having a superb business model--picks a charitable organization each month & provides donations to said charity as incentive for the entrepreneurs to sell more items.  So during the month of August, for every $600 sold during a show, the company agreed to donate a goat to a family in Guatemala.  Each goat provides sustainability & income for these families.  Whew, I'm getting chills just writing about it almost 6 weeks later!  YAY!

It was the first effort by my friend to partner with an adoptive family & raise money.

Y'all ready for this: our little FB party sold just over $1,200 in goods, so we earned 3 GOATS for GUATEMALA!!  EEK!!  3 GOATS--1 for each of our sons!!

All together, the company donated 98 goats to families in Guatemala, Haiti, & Costa Rica because the Guatemala program didn't need all 98!!  


And the amazingness continues:  our partnership resulted in $450 commission which my friend graciously gave to us to support our adoption adventure. 

Guess how much the next week's email told us we needed to pay?  Remember we are still "unemployed" & income-less.  

$360 translation fee.  EEK!! 

And God shows off yet again!!  Seriously.....I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried!

Y'all for real: God will show up.  He always does.  He keeps His promises that when He asks you to do something, He will faithfully walk the journey with you.  It doesn't always look like what I want it to in my life, & Lord knows His timing & mine are not always in sync, but He is always there, waiting & wanting to show how much He cares about you!

This week our pastor said, "We all want a miracle, we just don't want to put ourselves in a position to need one."  

I challenge you to put yourself in the position to need one.  Most likely it will be hard & it will get messy--hey, He might even turn your world completely upside down--but it is worth it y'all!  Worth the heartache, worth the tears, worth the struggles to get to see His hand at work in your own life. 

It's worth it. 

_________________________________________________________________________________


To check out the company I referenced above, you can find JJ Roberson on FB at JJ Roberson Trades of Hope S. Florida or online here.  It's a great way to educate yourself & support our sisters around the world!

Plus their stuff is BEAUTIFUL!