Saturday, April 8, 2017

#bringmercyhome

We are so happy to introduce the newest member of our family, three-year old (at the time of this writing in the spring 2016): Mercy Noelle. She was taken to a babies home in Uganda at 5 weeks old but is an orphan no more. We are honored to be her forever family and we thank all of you who have prayed and helped us ‪#‎bringmercyhome‬ !

I have posted about our time in-country here so I can reflect back on it and hopefully it will encourage other adoptive families, as well. I've said many times before that adoption is both beautiful and messy. You have to be a little crazy to adopt internationally and a lot crazy to do it more than once. Nothing about it is easy but in the end it is so worth it.

Adopting Mercy has grown our faith in ways we could have never expected and we could have never done this without God. We give Him all the glory!













Finalizing Mercy's Adoption

Adoption & Foster Care Resources


Here's a little video that our 13 year-old daughter, Abby, made with pics and videos she took while in Uganda. I think it's pretty awesome and of course it brings back great memories...

Adoption & Foster Care Resources

I have several friends who are currently considering adopting or fostering or are new to it, so I thought I'd gather a few helpful resources for anyone interested in learning more. These resources are also great for those who have already adopted and/or fostered, as well. (And please leave a comment if you have an adoption, foster care, or orphan care resource you'd like to share, too! )

As a personal testimony, I never considered adoption for our family up until about 5 or 6 years ago when I was in my early 40's. After I went on my first trip to Uganda, Africa, my eyes were opened. I began to hear how there were so many kids in orphanages around the world and I began to think about how wrong that is. Kids need to be in families, not orphanages. And kids everywhere deserve families, no matter where they live.

 Not everyone is called to foster or adopt but there is something everyone can do to help promote good and appropriate orphan care practices. And if you can make room in your house and in your hearts, why not consider it? We can't imagine life without our two little ones! They've changed us forever! <3

ADOPTION CONFERENCES & EVENTS:

(CAFO - typically held in May)

(Typically in February & March in Buford, GA)

(Typically in April)

(Saturday before Thanksgiving)

(Typically in October in Irving, TX)

(Nov. 9th)


BLOGS:

(Our adoption story about bringing home our son, Asher, in April 2013)

(Our adoption story about bringing home our daughter, Mercy, in March 2016)


BOOKS ON ADOPTION & ORPHAN CARE:

FUNDRAISING:

(Breakfast Fundraiser in Owasso, OK)

LOCAL TO TULSA ADOPTION AGENCIES:

LOCAL TO TULSA COUNSELING & TBRI PROFESSIONALS:

Christian Family Institute

Family Hope House (TBRI Trained Professionals)

Sharon Pyle, Rebound Mental Health (TBRI Trained Professional)

  Dr. Barbara Sorrells (TBRI Trained Professionals)


ORPHAN CARE:

(Saddleback Church)

PODCASTS & SERMONS:

(Voddie Baucham)

(John Piper)

SUPPORT GROUPS IN THE TULSA AREA:

ECHO
(Support group that meets in Tulsa at Southern Hills Baptist Church on Wednesdays at 6:30-8pm, Room 202)

The Legacy Network
(Support group that meets at Owasso First Assembly the first Monday of each month from 6:30-8:30pm)

Tulsa Area Adoptive Moms
(Facebook support page)


TBRI RESOURCES:

Empowered to Connect

Halo Project (OKC)

Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development

Tapestry Ministry (Irving, TX)


  TULSA AREA ADOPTION ATTORNEYS:

Becki Murphy

  Paul E. Swain

  Stacy Acord


  TULSA AREA HOMESTUDY & POST-PLACEMENT REPORT PROVIDERS:

Cathy Chalmers

Dillon International

Jennifer Giles

Nightlight Christian Adoptions


VIDEOS:

(Rick & Kay Warren)

SaveSave

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Our New Normal

Funny - Steve and I NEVER thought we'd be the parents of FOUR kiddos! But of course now that we are, we wouldn't have it any other way. We love all our kids so much and can't imagine life without any of them. They are all truly a blessing from God.


So...our new "normal". Here we are a year later and we are still trying to figure that out lol. Every day is a new adventure! Mercy has come such a long way from the child we were bonding with in Uganda. She is definitely our most "challenging" and "spirited" one but she can also be so sweet and full of joy. She has grown so much in a year! When we met her a year ago, she was wearing size 2T clothes & size 7 shoes. She is now moving into size 5-6 clothes & is has a 10 1/2 size shoe. She was also about 28 pounds and now she's 37! We've never had a child grow so fast so this is new territory for us!

Mercy enjoys her preschool class with other three and four year olds and attends twice a week. She is also taking ballet and tap and absolutely loves practicing at home with big sis, Kenzie. Her "thing" to do with Abby is "makeup and lotion". And her best little buddy is her brother, Asher. They are practically inseparable and we are so very thankful for their relationship. Of course, they argue like typical siblings but most of the time they really get along great.

One of my favorite things about having Mercy with us is experiencing all her "firsts" with her. Her "first" birthday party, "first" snow, "first" Christmas gathering with family, her "first" dance recital, etc. It's so fun to experience everything through her eyes. Looking forward to experiencing many more new things in the years to come.

April 2016

May 2017

June 2017
July 2017
August 2017
September 2017

October 2017
November 2016

December 2016

January 2017

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." - Jeremiah 29:11

Finalizing Mercy's Adoption

Thank you, Jesus - we are finally "officially" Mercy's forever family. We finalized her adoption on Friday, October 14, 2016. Here's a few pics from our day at court...















Sunday, July 17, 2016

Homecoming!

Day 57: Wednesday, March 23, 20167:20am - Here we go again! Loading up our van then heading to the U.S. Embassy to get Mercy's visa! Steve is on his way to Uganda and he'll meet us in Jinja on Friday! Thank you for praying us home! ❤️πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ❤️πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ❤️πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ


8:50am update - We have Mercy's visa in hand! Happy day! πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰


3:40pm update - So we finally made it to the day when we got Mercy's visa! What a wild ride! We came expecting to be here 3-4 months because the process has taken so long for most families lately. But we've been here a little over 8 weeks now - the exact same amount of time it took for getting legal guardianship of Asher. And we've praying since mid-February that God would get us home by Easter and now we'll be home Easter night. We survived boda rides, crazy chaotic driving, tummy issues, moving from guest house to guest house about 9 times, elections, and we missed being in a riot with police and tear gas by just minutes. God has moved mountains to get us where we are today and we are forever grateful!

We said "we'll stay-in-touch" with our friends from Herb and Ellen's guest house this afternoon. Some of you may remember me mentioning Harriet Ssanyu before. She is the head chef at Herb and Ellen's and for the past three years I've been selling her paper bead jewelry, aprons, headbands, etc. on a Facebook page called Harriet's Bead Creations and in a booth at Bless UR Heart Boutique in downtown Owasso, OK. She told me today the money she makes from being a full time cook only covers her rent. It does not cover electricity, water, food, etc. She has to find other work to cover those expenses. And the money I send her from her sales goes directly to pay her children's school fees. (School is not free in Uganda and is very pricey, especially when you only make about $2 per day.) So Harriet wanted me to thank everyone so much for helping her be able to send her kids to school and help her break the chain of poverty. πŸ‘ŠπŸΏ


One of my passions over the last 3-4 years has been to help other families from the U.S. also adopt from Uganda. We adopted Asher independently so I learned a lot by doing tons of research and asking lots of questions. I also have had the privilege of meeting in person some of the families I've helped a little along the way. Yesterday, was one of those days. I got to meet my fb friend, Holly Erickson, who came a few weeks after we arrived in UG. She and her family just moved to Herb & Ellen's after staying at another guest house and are hopefully nearing the end of their process. It was fun meeting her in person - just wish we could have visited longer.


It's been a long day and now that we are back in Jinja, we have a big "to do list" to hit up tomorrow so I better get some πŸ’€πŸ’€πŸ’€! P.S. - Steve will be here in 2 more sleeps! πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰

Here's a few more pics from this morning at Herb and Ellen's...




Day 58: Thursday, March 24, 2016 - I apologize for the short post today but Steve and I surprised the kids with him coming a day early. So no update except that we are soooo very happy to be together again!



I tear up every time I see that video. Steve was only able to stay the first week (out of 8 that we were in country) when we were in Uganda adopting Mercy. The day we had to say "see you later" was one of the hardest times in our lives because we had no idea what our future held. We had no idea how long we'd be in Uganda. We had no idea if Mercy's adoption was even going to happen. No idea if we'd be safe. No idea how we'd make it without him. But God knew. His timing and provision was perfect & today we were reunited (Steve left Feb. 4th)!

Day 59: Friday, March 25, 2016 - Today we went to the Jinja Nile Resort for the last time πŸ˜”. It was Steve's first time to go and we were bummed to not see any monkeys - usually we have to fight to keep them away from our food and from taking our things!






It was a nice, relaxing time together before we head home TOMORROW! πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰

For dinner tonight, we ate at the Italian guest house up the road - also Steve's first time to go. We had some amazing lasagne, then gelato for dessert. We are sure gonna miss that place!

Tomorrow we are heading home so, of course, we have big prayer requests for our journey to Oklahoma...

1. Please pray for safe travel to the airport which is about 4 hours away.

2. Please pray the airport staff are kind to us. I heard of an adoptive family that tried to go through last week but one of the airport personnel ripped up their adoption papers and said they were not coming through because they were stealing children. Fortunately they had copies and went to someone else's line and were able to go through.

3. Please pray our flights are on time and we make all of our connections - especially in Atlanta. We don't have much time to go through customs and security so please pray we make our last flight home.

4. Please pray that Mercy and Asher travel well. I'm not worried about Asher but Mercy has zero attention span and can not sit longer than a few seconds at a time! 😜

5. Please pray for the transition time for us when we get home - for rest and continued bonding.

6. Please pray for Mercy - for her emotional well being and spiritual maturity as she ages. Please pray that God gives us the strength we need to be the very best family for her. Pray for her past hurts to heal, discipline issues to subside, and for her to feel overwhelming love and joy.

Thank you for praying us home!

Day 60: Saturday, March 26, 2016 - This morning we drove to Entebbe (where the airport is located), about 4 hours from Jinja. Our flight doesn't leave until late at night so we hung out most of the day at the Victoria Mall...






Then we had dinner at Faze 3, a really neat restaurant right on Lake Victoria...

The hummus and pita bread was so good!


A funny thing happened the last time I ate at that restaurant! Then it was time to head HOME!!! Man, we had a lot of stuff! So glad Steve was able to come back at the end of our journey and help us get home!





Watch out USA! Here I come! <3
There's our plane!

The African Children's Choir was on our plane, too, and we got to hear them sing a bit. Such sweet voices! ...


Time to board our plane!Asher had his map ready to give to the pilots so they'd know how to get us back to the States...




Aaaaand she's out! ;-)

Day 61: Tuesday, March 27, 2016 - We made it to Amsterdam!



Time to board our next plane and fly to Atlanta!





The food just keeps coming!

Almost home!!! Grabbed a STARBUCKS (oh how I have missed you, iced chai tea latte!!!) and we are headed to Tulsa!






Wow. So many emotions right now. We are almost home. This is happening for real. I'm a mom of four kids now - such a huge responsibility that I don't take lightly. And this sweet, sleeping princess is about to meet her new "village". An entirely new set of friends and family that love her already and haven't even met her in person yet. Thank you, Jesus. For everything!


HOOOOOOME!!!

















We were so incredibly surprised and grateful for so many friends and family to greet us at the airport! We missed everyone so much and could finally breathe since we were on American soil!

Words can not express enough how thankful we are for everyone's prayers and words of encouragement. There were so many days we honestly didn't know if Mercy's adoption would happen. But our friends and family and even strangers prayed for us and stood in the gap when we were weak. We watched God, once again, move mountains and He has grown our faith in ways we never would have ever imagined.

Psalm 27:14 - Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD. 

Psalm 37:4-5 - Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. 

Psalm 55:22 - Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. 

Psalm 62:8 - Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.