Wednesday, January 14, 2015

::When the Day Seems Long::

Can you even believe this?

I sort of can't.

I think this is home study update number 3, and our 4th home study evaluation since starting the adoption process four years ago. 

I don't pretend to understand why we can't seem to adopt--not internationally, not domestically.  Nothing is working for us no matter how long we wait. 

I'm feeling burned by this entire adoption process.  We've tried to adopt where we believed there was need,  but every door has closed.  Our file for Ethiopia was permanently closed two months ago (so, even though we were on hold and had hoped we might get back to it when the climate changed, the door to Ethiopian adoption has now been firmly shut for us).  We've also just hit one year on a domestic waiting list. 

We have been advised by our social worker to regroup, re-evaluate our plans, and consider starting over again.
I thought we could maybe keep our current home study updated, but we are running into problems with that as I call agency after agency after agency.  
(Did I mention that I'm tired of calling agencies?)

Because all of our current paperwork is about to expire, we have about two weeks to decide if we want to stay where we are (on a list that is not moving at all, with a home study that no one else will take), or start completely over with a new agency.  That means:  new applications, new mountain of paperwork, new home study, new waiting list, new fees.  It is choking me to get all of those words out here.  New everything.

I keep wondering, What was it all for?  Why four years wasted with nothing to show for it?
Why, when adoption is our only method for growing our family, is it so impossible for us?
The last three months have been ones of intense growth for me, spiritually.  I've been fighting hard for joy
This, however, is really challenging the belief that my joy is not rooted in my circumstances, but rather, in Jesus.   This is where what I've struggled so hard to grasp and hold on to lately is coming to life through refinement.  And as I tearfully listen to one more social worker give me another long list of requirements, as I scroll through yet another another agency website telling me how much it will cost to start over,  I find myself having to make the decision again to believe that God is still being good to me.  This long, fruitless journey will not be wasted.   I know the Lord finishes what He started, and if the last four years were only to teach me that my joy should be firmly anchored to Christ rather than to what I wish He would do for me, then in the end it was worth it.  
Today, it all seems long and draining.  
And the words to this song are all I feel like I can sing.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

::the days are long, but the years are short::

Last night I laid across my bed while a certain six year old laid perpendicular to me, his freshly showered head resting against my heart.  His daddy was stuck on the phone, so we had a few minutes before family devotions to just be in one another's company without anything to do. 
He giggled and chattered on about cartoons and friends, and then settled down while I sang some songs to him. We haven't had a moment like this in a while.  Mostly because I am too busy or too lazy or too selfish to make time for just being together without really doing anything in particular. 

When he was really small, he would often wake up in the night with bad dreams or because a storm woke him up or sometimes because we were trying to decide if he really needed a nap anymore and had trouble sleeping at night as a result.  I would climb into his narrow bed and curl around him.  "Mama, will you p'ay for me?"  Absolutely, I would.  No matter how tired, cranky, or confused I was after being awakened out of a deep sleep, I would never miss a chance to pray for him. So I would pray aloud and remind him that he was loved by Jesus and that we are never alone, even in our fears at 2:30 a.m. because God never sleeps.  And then I would sing until his eyes got heavy.  Usually a mixture of hymns and praise songs, I would try to find words that would, on some deeper level, speak to the safety of our hearts in the hands of the Lord. I could never promise him that his body would be safe.  I will never promise him that.   This world is too fallen and too broken for that.  But I always promise him that when we follow Jesus, He keeps our hearts safe.  And honestly, the heart--that's where the worry and the fear originates, so that's where we need the assurances of safety to land.    

The days of summer are winding down to an end, and while I look forward to the school year and all that my son will learn and experience in 1st grade, there is a mental bracing I must do for the speed at which the school year will pass.  These long summer days have, at times, seemed endless and even boring.  But I look at them now knowing they are a gift before we slip into a routine of packing lunches, reading, teaching piano lessons, soccer practice, church activities and commitments, waiting in drop-off and pick-up lines, dinner preparations, homework, bedtime routines, family devotions.

Those moments of just being together, mother and son-- talking about silly things, singing about serious things--I don't want to lose that.  Even if it means staying up later one night than we meant to, I don't want to miss the moments of just being without doing

I am already learning how quickly these days go by.

Monday, June 02, 2014


Most commonly asked question these days: "Have you heard anything about your adoption?"

Most commonly, yet dissatisfying answer given: "Nothing." 

I've got nothing for you, unfortunately. 

Three years ago, we were completing our initial home study. 

I often wonder if this process will ever end.

Monday, May 05, 2014

{just when I needed this}

When I have come perilously close to believing that we will never have any more children,

              when waiting and waiting and waiting is sapping the joy from my life,

                                when I wonder if anyone even remembers that we started the adoption
                                 process more than three years ago....

        the Lord steps in and reminds me that He has forgotten nothing. 

A church member anonymously donated their coin collection (which they had been saving for their own grandkids) to help fund our adoption. 

So today, I'm fighting my feelings of sadness and failure, and I'm focusing on the Lord's love through unexpected blessings.  Considering the timing and how low I've been feeling lately regarding adoption, this is especially sweet. 

Thanks be to God, and we pray He blesses whoever it was that lovingly made this kind sacrifice for us. 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

{New Year, New Plan}

Six weeks ago, our social worker called us. 
She has been as frustrated with the long wait within the Ethiopia program as we have been. She asked us if we would consider transitioning to domestic adoption as the long wait does not seem to be coming to an end any time soon. 
We actually had already considered it but were running into trouble having our international home study transferred to a domestic home study without totally starting over with all the paperwork, fees, and wait time.  We didn't want to start from scratch.  We've already lost so much time. 
We talked about it.  Prayed.  Felt like it was a good time to transition.  I could give you a lot of reasons why, but in the end we decided to  go "on hold" with the Ethiopia program while we pursued domestic adoption.  At #23, we freeze at that spot on the list and then if/when we decide to come back to the program, we come back in at #23. 

To make a long story short, our social worker was able to do the domestic home study update for us pretty quickly.  We had a home visit in early December, and we're currently finishing up some paperwork so that we can get on the list with another agency in our state. 

It has been strange to transition to domestic adoption.  Our hearts have been set for three years on adopting from Ethiopia, and no matter how long we wait, nothing seems to be happening.  Just this past week, the news out of Ethiopia leads us to believe that the inter-country adoption program there may come to a screeching halt very soon.  While nothing is official yet, and there is a lot of different information floating around right now, this could really mean no more Ethiopian adoption. (This news comes to us after we had already begun our transition to domestic adoption, but it has helped us to feel a little more settled in our decision.)  To be honest, I am grieved about the situation in Ethiopia.  I don't know if such an impoverished nation can sustain the overwhelming number of orphaned children at this point, even if their own domestic adoption plans are in the works.  From what I understand, the orphanages are already full, and so are the streets.  The door closing on international adoption there is hard news for the children who are at such high risk and who could potentially languish in orphanages or on the streets while the country moves towards foster/domestic programs.  I do not know what the best answer is for these children, but growing up in an institution or on the streets does not seem to be it. 

I still feel burdened for the children in Ethiopia, even though we are making different plans.  I wonder why we have waited and waited, only for none of this to come to fruition.  I wonder what it was all for. 
But, I am at peace with moving to domestic adoption. I know from our own experience that some agencies are in need of families who are open to a child of any racial background.  If they need a family, we want to be that family.  {Race.  It matters so much, and it matters so little.}  

So, for now, we are trying to tie up loose ends before submitting everything to our new agency.  It has been a long, tangled road to get to this point.  I'm tired of always waiting for children.  There.  I needed to say that to somebody.  I get tired of this always being my thing.  But this is what it is, it's what we've got.  So, it's what we pray through and plead with God about, and then we step forward knowing that He is wise, good, and constant.

If I could name one thing I am thankful for about God's character in wrapping up 2013, it's His constancy.  When I am tired, weak, weary, and petulant, He is faithful, good, and true. 

Come on, 2014.  I am hopeful about what is in store.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

::Merry Christmas Music--Free Download::

Over the past few years we've recorded a few Christmas carols.  This year we added a couple songs and put them all together as a 6 song sampler.
You can download for free or you can donate towards our adoption fund when you download.

Merry Christmas! :)

Monday, November 25, 2013

{thankful for this moment right here--she recognized me}

She's still in there somewhere.

My grandmother.

Body and mind ravaged by Alzheimer's disease, she sits mostly lost inside herself.  She leans heavily on her two daughters who care for her like a precious, beloved child even though she is their mother. Maybe it's more apt to say that they care for her like a precious, beloved mother even though she is helpless as a child.  A reversal of roles.  

It has been hard to live away from my family these last couple of years as Grandmother has declined.  Her moments of lucidity come and go, and she seems to be a mere shadow of the strong, opinionated, beautiful woman who spent her life taking care of others.  Now, she is cared for by others--she is completely dependent on them.

I was home last weekend for a wedding, and I had been looking forward to seeing my grandmother.  I know that it was kind of a toss-up as to whether or not she would know I was there.  Evenings are not her best time of day for engaging with others.  She was seated in the living room, dressed in her pretty pink jammies and slippers, warm and loved by her daughters. I got down on the floor so I could get directly in her line of vision.  I took her hand and talked to her as she stared over my shoulder.  But then, her eyes caught mine and the fuzziness cleared a bit.  I knew exactly the second when she recognized me.  She let go of my hand and reached out to  touch my cheek, and she smiled.   She lost her ability to really speak a long time ago, but every now and then you can understand the words she has tried so very hard to find and form.

My eyes filled with tears, so I hugged her because I didn't want to alarm her in any way.  I sat in the floor and held her hand and talked to her.

She is still in there somewhere.  The woman we all love and depended on.  The woman who spent hours on her knees interceding for her family, who took in folks without families, who gave generously, who wouldn't come out of her bedroom in the mornings until she had spent time praying and studying the Word.
Her life matters, is valuable, is still held securely in the Father's hand.  She is loved by Him. 
And one day, she will rise and be given a brand new body untouched by degenerative diseases.  Praise the Lord that this broken world is not the end.

This fall we've worked on a Thankful Tree in our home to help cultivate a spirit of gratitude for how the Lord has blessed us.

I'm looking forward to seeing my grandmother again soon, but for right now, I am just so, so thankful for the moment when her eyes met mine and she knew me.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


I wrote that last post and then discovered yesterday that we moved from #24 to #23.
Moving one spot on the list since early August is pretty discouraging. In August I was given  "2-5 more months waiting for a referral," but now I think we are watching that time frame double. I know from friends who have been there that the orphanages in Ethiopia are full.  FULL.  Of children waiting to be adopted.  So...understandably, I'm having a hard time reconciling that with the years-long waiting list here.

Please continue to pray for our future kid(s), but today will you pray for us? 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

{are you still adopting?}

I feel like I get this question a lot.  Mostly from acquaintances, or friends I haven't had a good long chat with in a while.

The short answer is yes.  Yes, we are still adopting.

And the long answer is yes. Yes, we are still adopting.

For two years and some change now, we are still adopting.

Two years ago, we finished our initial home study.
For 21 months we have officially been on the waiting list.
Our son had just turned 3 when we began this process.
He's 5 and a half now. 

In May of this year, we submitted the necessary information to try to adopt a baby girl from Ethiopia on the waiting child list with our agency.  She had some special needs and was severely malnourished, but we wanted her anyway.  The agency ended up choosing another family.  That was discouraging, but she should be well on her way to meeting her family soon.

In June, we found out we were #40 on the general list.
On August 24th we were #24 on the general list, and #7 according to child profile (per our parameters).
On September 24th we were still #24 on the general list and #7 according to child profile.

Discouragement has worn away at our certainty about this process.  We've spent the last several weeks praying and talking, talking and praying.  Should we stay in this process?  Should we switch to a domestic process?  Do we still feel the Lord calling us to adopt from Ethiopia?  Are we still committed to this long, long process?  If we had known in the beginning that it would take this long  (we didn't; time lines were much shorter then), would we have done it anyway?

Many questions to work through.
Meanwhile, we still wait. 

This morning I was praying about it all, and I felt very burdened to pray not just about this process and waiting, but for our child(ren).  I felt overwhelmed by the grief that they will endure.  The process of becoming an orphan is GRIEF-FILLED.  I won't pretend to understand the depths of this even a little bit.  Our {future} child(ren) will endure the loss of one or both of their parents, whether through abandonment or through death.  They will endure separation, lack of affection and physical touch, malnourishment.  In their few short years of life, they will live through a trauma I've never been asked to endure and that I can't quite wrap my mind around. 

And they have no idea, not one single notion that there is HOPE on the other side of it all.
That in some crazy display of the Lord's blessings, we are over here waiting for them.
With love, affection, safety, warmth, permanence, food, family....all of it wrapped up in our many imperfections, but still available to them nevertheless.  

So, in light of this brokenness that these kids are living through, I have to say to my selfish heart--SO WHAT if we have to wait for them?  Waiting is nothing in comparison to "orphan-dom."
We will continue to wait.
                                    With hope.
                                                  And anticipation.

Yes, we are still adopting.  And we COVET your prayers that the Lord would haste the day that we see a picture of the one(s) He wants us to bring home, for the little ones who are fatherless and motherless for the time being.
Pray that the Father, who is Father to the fatherless, would hold them close and put hope in their hearts.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

::telling the story--part 12::

Our album "Love & Family" is ordered in such a way as to tell a story about our life together as a family.  This series of blog posts will serve as a catalyst for telling that story so that you can see what is behind each song that we wrote.  Don't forget--you can order our album here:

words & music by Glenna Marshall

One day William said to me, "I want to record a CD, and it should be called 'Love & Family'.  I think we can each pick a few songs each that we've written and kind of tell a story with them.   
I said, "Ummm......okay."
Not too long after that, he came back to me and said, "You need to write a song and call it 'Love & Family' so that we can have a title track to round out the CD."   
I said, "Ummm....okay."  
'Cause it's so easy to write songs on demand.  Right.

But I was up for the challenge.  

So, I sat down at the piano and thought I'd write this slow, heart-rending song about how thankful I am for my family.  I didn't think I had enough slow songs on the CD.  ;)

But, as I thought about our family, and all the stuff that had happened that week, I came up with something a little different.  

I'm waking early on a Saturday morning
I spilled my coffee on the couch
There's a little person doing back-flips off the loveseat
I just caught a Lego in the mouth

I really did spill my coffee all over the couch one early Saturday morning after getting up early with my little alarm clock.  It actually wasn't his fault, but his jumping off the furniture didn't help.  On another occasion, a Lego actually splashed into my coffee cup.
Poor coffee.  :( 
And I've taken a few to the face, too.  All accidental, I assure you.  :)

Yesterday I cleaned up messes all day
The laundry never seemed to end
But the footsteps upstairs are answers to a thousand prayers
And somehow I just cannot complain

I did spend a day picking up dirty clothes all day--and there are only 3 of us!--and I was a little grumbly about it.  I could hear my little guy running around upstairs, and I had the thought that there were years that I yearned for this very problem.  It was hard to stay grumbly.

Just had an argument with my husband
Over socks laying on the floor
But he loves to write me songs
And buys me flowers 'just because'
So I cannot stay angry for long

And let's be honest...what married couple hasn't argued about socks on the floor?  Or wet towels on the bed?  Or crazy, uptight expectations about a clean house?  

But I have to remember the socks on the floor belong to a man I adore and who I am so, so thankful for.  (Note to self--that rhymes, maybe I should save that for a future song.  But it's a little too rhymey. Oh well.)
There are days when I am moody and short-tempered
With the ones I love the most
But they show unending grace and forgiveness just the same
When I am so undeserving of both

All these little nuances about our family....this is what makes us, us.  And honestly, it's all the quirky little annoying things that provide us with MANY opportunities to show one another grace, to remind us how much we need Jesus.  We apologize to each other....all three of us.   Apologizing to a  3 year old or a 5 year old is just as humbling as apologizing to a spouse.  But it's an excellent model for your kids, so do it...even if it feels humiliating.  They will always forgive you almost instantaneously.   Not surprisingly, most kids just want a right relationship with their parents. 

This is love and family, and we want to add to the beauty
Every day is a sure and certain sign
That we are desperate for the love of Christ

Is it crazy that we want to add to the madness beauty of our family?  Some days I do feel a little stretched...even with such a small family, but I have to say I long to add to the beauty of what God has given to me in a family. 
I'm so thankful for the husband and son that I have been entrusted with.  I am undeserving, and I know it.  The Lord has poured out grace upon grace. 
I can't wait to add the next little grace gift(s) to our family.  :)

Thanks for enduring this long blog project with us.  We got a little too busy to keep the posting up like we desired, but hey, at least we finished.  :)