Monday, May 1, 2017

Love Hard

Hey friends.   So much has happened in the past 5 weeks.  Our breath knocked out of us in joy and in pain. High moments and very low moments.   

To me, MOWA approval was like the equivalent of my water breaking after a 4.5 year long pregnancy.   I was finally laboring and had a scheduled c-section date(court).  This is when you normally take custody of your child and begin the process of birth certificate, passport, and visa.   Days later you board a plane and bring your child home.  The day before we were scheduled to leave, the Ethiopian government issued a suspension of all adoptions.  After receiving the news, I went to my car and broke down.  

My c-section had been cancelled.   

We had no idea what was going to happen.  Our agency left it up to us whether to travel or stay home.  It wasn't even an option...I needed to be with my son more than ever.   

A few days later Josh and I were in Ethiopia, walking up the stairs to meet our son.  I have never been more nervous.   We found him in a room behind a table playing with his ball.   He was as beautiful as I had dreamed.  I knew in an instant he was going to come home.  It didn't matter what we had to do.  He must come home.  

As many of you know we passed court so Townes is officially our son.  The Ethiopian government still refuses to sign our exit letter so we can not take him out of the country.  I am still here.  I am missing my girls something fierce.   I do not know what to do.  We have no idea how long this will take.  Days, weeks, months.  I won't let myself go to years.  I just can't.   

This is by far the hardest thing I have done.  Your prayers are the balm to my hurting momma soul.   I have deeply fallen in love with Ethiopia.   The country, who's government is holding my son captive, is the same country that I am finding my refuge.   These people.  They are the most beautiful people I have ever met.  For many, every day is a struggle.  But yet they always smile.  They walk down the road hand in hand.  Arm in arm.  The children, who do not have a mother or father, give off more radiance than I have ever seen.  Beautiful people.  I can see how much God loves them.  I feel it.  They remain faithful while staring in the face of hunger and pain.   I want their kind of faith.  It's far more than mine.  

I am taking every day here to learn more.  To be better.  To love harder.  

Continue to pray.  I love you.  My village is something awesome.  

Friday, March 24, 2017

Pinch me

Today has been the most surreal day I have ever experienced.   I was in a really low place this morning.   I sat in my bedroom floor and wrote a post about how the last few days have been harder than most.  We still thought we had months left.  I sent our case worker an email telling her how much I was struggling with our wait.   

A few hours later my phone rang.  It was a Washington number.   I only know one place in Washington.  I tried not to panic but they haven't called me in months.  Maybe she was just calling to check on me after I sent that email.   Making sure I was going to be okay.  I mean it was pretty ugly.  

"Mandy, do you know why I am calling?" 

"Umm yeah, no, maybe? Do I???"

"Yes!   You have MOWA approval!!!"

After that we both just turned into blubbering tears and snot.  And I honestly don't remember a single word she said.  

Guys only hours after I posted how much I was struggling, we got the last approval we needed.   This is God.  He knew just when we were ready.  When our hearts were ready.   

What happens next?   We get submitted to court on Monday.  They could tell us a court date then or early in the week.   There's a good chance we could be leaving in the next week or so for Ethiopia!!!   

It's finally happening and it's your prayers that have helped us get here.  I can't stop crying thinking about the love and support we have received.   I will keep you posted when we get our court date!   And don't stop the prayers.  Please pray as we prepare to meet our son and for his heart.   This is going to be incredibly difficult for him.  Thank you tribe!  


Time seems to be my enemy and my saving grace right now. It's odd. 

In one hand, time needs to slow way down.  Our boy is a little boy now, no longer a baby.  That became more evident to us in his latest pictures.   We are missing precious time.  Taylor is less than 2 months away from graduating high school.   Raegan is finishing her last weeks of middle school.   I want to freeze time.  

Then I want to speed it up.  I want to be at the end of this wait.  The faster time goes, the closer we are to him.  On Fridays I find myself saying "Yes!  Another week down!"   I want to get our boy and bring him home.   And more than likely we still have a pretty good wait ahead of us.  

I'm beginning to really struggle.  It seems to worsen daily.  The desire to have my family together is to the point where I find myself crying whenever I am alone.   I need to get my mind right.  I need to settle back in to where I was a few months ago and where I've been for the better part of this 4 year journey.  Knowing that it would be a while before we got the call.  I was for the most part content. Or maybe a better word was prepared for the long wait.  Well, I've thrown that out the window and I need it back.  There are families that have been waiting far longer than us.  They seem to do it with such grace.     

If you find my grace, can you send it back?

Cause my wait is just plain ugly right now.

Okay, enough whining.  I'll leave you with a side by side of the first picture we got of our boy to the latest.  My oh my.  


Friday, February 3, 2017

Happy Birthday

Our boy turns 2 today.   It's a bittersweet day, as a waiting momma.   Another year we have missed.  He is getting so big, and handsome.   He is the same size as his big sister.  He is learning all kinds of new tricks.  One being walking with support.   There was a day when we thought he might never walk.  Learning that he is doing so well makes my heart smile.   He is beginning to lose his baby face.

This is so hard.

Today I am going to try my best to be happy and celebrate this beautiful child God has given us.   Even if He hasn't quite placed him in our arms yet.  I know our time is coming.   When we can finally say this was all worth it.   I have learned so many things during this wait.  I can't say I am thankful for it but I know it is teaching me.  It is teaching me to be faithful, even(especially) when things aren't going the way I want them to.   As fast as I want them to.

We are in the midst of the last piece of this wait.   Only needing one more approval.   The one approval that can be quick or take forever.   We have no idea when we will receive it.   But we will continue to pray that it is soon.  I am so ready to smell and kiss my boy.  I am ready to tell him how much I love him.  I am ready to show him to you.

So Happy Birthday sweet baby boy.   I hope your day was filled with love, laughter, and dancing.

P.S.   He is one dancing machine!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Closer every day

Sorry for the blog silence.  It is quite busy in the Thurman household these days.  After we accepted Y's referral this summer we found out we had to completely redo our dossier.  I quickly brushed the dust off my binders and folders I had thrown in a cabinet after learning of our last baby boy's illness and subsequent loss of his referral.  We spent this past summer and fall updating our homestudy and gathering documents for dossier #3.   Three dossiers in 4 years...

Third time's a charm.  Right?!?!

As I type, I have a huge smile on my face.  There are many things I am thankful for during this holiday season.  One being that WE PASSED PAIR!!!!   This is huge guys.  There are two approvals we must have before traveling to bring our boy home.  One comes from the US Embassy(PAIR) and its purpose is to determine if the child being adopted is a true orphan.   Our case was closed last week and we received our PAIR letter in the mail Friday!   So next we need Ethiopia's approval.  This comes from MOWA.   This is a monster.  We are currently seeing cases sit at this step for a very long time.  Way longer than in the past.  Ethiopia has made some governmental changes recently and we are beginning to see movement again.  We are prayerful that this continues.  If I have learned anything in the past 4 years, it is this

Don't hold your breath Mandy.  It's Africa.  Things change all the time. 

This is our last step and we are more than ready to get our boy.   We get frequent updates on him and I have many friends traveling now to bring their children home.  They give him sweet love for me. We were able to send our first care package to him.   A photo album of his family.  I want him to know how much we love him.  He is doing so well.  Growing like a weed.  Sitting up by himself like a big boy.  Always smiling.  We are missing so much.  

Can you please pray with me that we move through this last part quickly?  That MOWA continues signing positive letters and letting families, who have longed to hold their children for far too long, go get their babies.

I will continue to update during this part of our process.   It is happening guys.   We are closer every day.  

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

God's Master Plan

I don't even really know where to start.  In my last post I told you that our agency had told us we couldn't really move forward in Ethiopia.  Our hearts were broken.  We still felt so strongly that our son was there.  Weeks went by.  I was struggling.  I spent most of my day dreaming about the son we would never know, crying, becoming more and more depressed.  Many things bothered me.  Our first referral, F.  We couldn't find him so I feared he had already become a victim of the sex trade. Our second referral, Y, was so sick that we were unsure how long he might survive.  Not that money is everything, but we had spent over $32,000 and were left with what seemed like nothing but emptiness.

On April 6th, I was at my lowest.  I remember saying how I felt God had completely abandoned us.  I couldn't feel Him anywhere.  I was angry.  Very angry.  I was in my car crying, screaming out to Him.  I began to question everything.  Were we really called to this?  I even questioned His love for me.

Why?  Why have you left us here?

My precious, fellow adoptive momma, friend had sent me a post from an agency asking for paperwork ready Ethiopia families earlier in the week.  Josh and I had discussed but there was no way we could start all over again.  Financially or emotionally.  We couldn't afford another $30,000+ nor could our hearts handle sitting on another wait list.  I had pushed it aside.

Until that moment.

I decided to call them and just ask what the fees would be.  It was nothing serious and I knew it was even ridiculous to call.  I asked for the Ethiopia coordinator.  She got on the phone.  I asked about fees and kinda filled her in on what we had been through the last 3 years.  I began to talk about our F.  I started to cry.  It hurt to talk about him.  Remember, we had been told he couldn't be adopted. Read here for more.  She asked me for his name...then his orphanage...then I heard

"Mandy, we have him."

"Do what?"

"Yes, we have him.  He's being adopted by a family that is completely in love with him."

And there I went.  Full on ugly sobbing.  Tears of disbelief and complete joy.  I can't go into details but our precious F is going to have a mommy and a daddy.   It's the answer to over a year of prayers.  The conversation could have ended there and it would have been amazing.  I mean, what are the chances that I found our F?   With God nothing is impossible guys.

So once I recovered we moved on to Y.  Our last referral that we learned, after 7 months, that he was so incredibly sick with 2 debilitating diseases.   Read here for more.   She told me about another little boy that was at Y's orphanage that was on their waiting child list.  She told me to take a look.

Okay.  Here we go.

I had always questioned the photo we had received of Y.  I did not feel that it was actually him.  It didn't look like the initial photo of him.  It didn't look like a child with the disability that he had been diagnosed with.  We were told it was, so I didn't push anymore.  I was laying in the bed still reeling from finding F when I took a good look.  Guess whose face was looking at me?  Yep, the same little boy whose face we had fallen in love with.

Mouth drop.  Well actually heart drop.

So I was right.  We had been given the photo of a different child.  I don't know why or how.  But we did and I was looking right at him.  The child we had stared at for months was sitting on this agency's waiting child list.   Waiting for his forever family.

I promise I am not making this up.  In one random phone call, I found 2 of our boys.  There are 5 million orphans in Ethiopia and in one 30 minute conversation I had found them.

So the same day that I felt that God had completely abandoned us, He began to untangle the web He had been weaving for so long now.  A plan that I was having trouble wrapping my head around.  I still am really.

I called the next morning to learn more about the little boy whose face we knew all too well.  His name starts with Y also.  He is 15 months and has some health issues.  Possibly significant ones. This agency has been amazing and we have received a diagnosis.  We do not know what this means exactly for his future.  There is a long range of possibilities from nothing to very serious.

He's beautiful.   And he's our son.  God lead us right to him.  Again.  And we can't turn away.   As scary as it is, we can't turn away.

So, different agency means we start all over again financially.    This is where we struggle.  We have no clue how we are going to do it.  We are just recovering from the previous $32,000.  We can only pray that this money went to benefit children in Ethiopia.   But now we have to come up with $14,000 in 2 weeks and another $3,500 in 30 days and another $5,500 in 2 months.  This doesn't include travel or any other fees required after the initial 2 months.   And there will be more.  

People have always said that God will provide.  And He did with the first agency and referral fees.   I must believe that He will with this also.  But I will not lie.  I am nervous.  I find myself being annoyed that I am so nervous.  I must trust Him.  I must trust that He, who makes all things possible, will make this possible too.  Our God that has moved so many mountains, sometimes right smack into our path, is working a miracle.  

Shew, so with ALL that being said my incredible friend has made us a fundraising page.  Josh and I struggle asking for financial help.  It is difficult and feels uncomfortable, but we can not do this alone.    If you would like to support us by giving a donation, please see Missy's page here.   If you cannot give financially, please support us by continuing to pray that our boy becomes stronger and healthier.  That we are able to move quickly through this process and finally bring him home.  We are amazed and speechless by the support we have received in the past 3 1/2 years. We love you all.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Finding His Purpose

I woke up this morning with an overwhelming pain in my heart.  This seems to be my new normal.  I miss my boys.  I miss being their mommy.  I have never wanted anything more in my entire life.

Throughout this journey, Josh and I have prayed for God to take hold and lead.  We would only follow.  Giving over complete control has been hard.  There are many times I wanted to grab the reins.

"Hold up here God, wrong way."

I wanted to tell Him that on March 24th, 2015.  And again on February 8th, 2016.  Both days when we lost our boys.

I have been holding off on writing this post.  Praying things would change so I wouldn't have to.  But they aren't and this is just where we are.  We are being told not to continue our adoption journey in Ethiopia.  There are many changes occurring and things are very unsettled.  Some of the proposed changes will greatly effect the opportunity for these children to have forever families.  This is disheartening.  Since the need is so great.  Millions of children who will never know the love of a mommy or daddy.

We have been given the opportunity to switch to our agency's China program.   We have prayed about this over the past month and will continue to.  Currently our hearts are not there.  I'm not sure if they ever will be. We are deeply in love with Ethiopia and 2 precious boys there.   We know this very well means we will never bring home our son.

So here we are.  Over 3 years, 2 boys, and $30,000 later.   We are more broken hearted than we have ever been but we know our God is unfailing and faithful.  I just can't help but wonder...

What was His purpose?  Why did He bring us to this?   What are we supposed to do now?

I am struggling with this being God's plan.  To open all of these doors and break our hearts for His children, to only slam them shut and leave us here.   To have us fall in love with 2 boys.  One having over a 75% chance of being a victim of sex slavery when he ages out and the other with such a severe disability it is unknown how long he will survive.  

I know that is not it.  That is not my God.  I know there is more.  I just wish I could see it.  Like right now.

Currently we are working on finding F.  The first little boy we were referred.  We are prayerful we will find him and fight to make him not just another statistic of a child left behind.  It is easy to run wild with the possibilities of connecting with F and having a future with him.  He can not be adopted but we yearn to have any type of relationship with him that we can.

I do know that Josh and I feel strongly led to help these children that will never come home.  Like our 2 boys.  We plan to travel to Ethiopia this year and become active with our agency's (un)adopted program.  

Is this it?  Was this His purpose all along?   Are we being called to love these children instead of bringing one into our home?

I wish I knew but in the meantime we will pray and continue to follow.  Thank you for your continued support.  This has has been hell and you all have been there for us.  We love each and every one of you.