Thursday, November 13, 2014

Adoption Update

I wish that I had some really exciting news to share, but that's not the case.  Quite the opposite actually.  My heart is heavy as I type this and I confess to being just plain weary at this point in our adoption journey.
A little background of our journey . . .

We started the adoption process in June 2011, which seems like an eternity ago.  We were officially on the waitlist with AGCI in July 2012 to adopt an infant boy from Ethiopia.  We had been expecting a 1.5 to 2 year wait, but in March of 2012 God spoke clearly to us that we were to adopt a little boy who is HIV positive.  Because not many families are open to this special need, we started to prepare ourselves for our son coming home much sooner.

Never.  Never in a million years.  Never would I have dreamed that it would be almost 2015 and we would still be waiting for our son.

As the wait continued on long past what we expected, God was working in our hearts regarding His Truth about children, our family, His plans and whether He was really Lord of our lives in this area.  These wrestlings led to a dramatic transformation in our hearts and a practical walk of faith in obedience to His Truth.  Which led to us finding out in August 2013 that another Gilbert was on the way!

Because of the longer wait, our agency had changed their policies to allow families to do a concurrent adoption or to have another biological child.  My pregnancy with Brogan didn't stop us from continuing to move forward on the waitlist, but we knew that we wouldn't be able to accept a referral until Brogan is at least a year old.  

He just made 6 months so I've mentally been readying myself for updating all of our paperwork and getting things in order so we would be ready for that referral.

Yesterday we received an email from AGCI that changed all of that. 

The adoption climate in Ethiopia has gone from a relatively quick and smooth process, to kind of longer, to rocky, to much slower, and now to a pace that is barely moving.  Year to date, AGCI has placed 10 children with adoptive families in the Ethiopia program as compared to 35 placements in 2013 and 62 placements in 2012.

There are many reasons for this slow down, many of which I probably don't even know or understand, but a main issue has been corruption.  This is info from AGCI's email . . .

In the last two years, we have been advised that some European agencies and some U.S. based agencies are reportedly operating on a “fee for child” basis meaning that the orphanages receive a direct fee for each child referred to an agency. Consequently, these agencies seem to be receiving the majority of referrals. Obviously, this practice potentially could be fairly lucrative for orphanage directors.  AGCI cannot pay such direct, per child referral fees as per our accrediting body, the Council on Accreditation (known as COA). The Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-Country Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention) specifically prohibits the payment of fees or other consideration to release a child for adoption purposes because this is considered “child buying”. Child buying laws and regulations are vital to prevent the exploitation of children, a premise AGCI takes extremely seriously. AGCI remains firmly committed to ethical adoption practices and we know our families would want nothing less.

They are right.  We want no part in corruption or unethical practices.  But it is beyond frustrating that those who give up their integrity end up with their children home, while so many families like us keep waiting AND there are so many children waiting . . . the ultimate victims who are stuck in the middle of this whole heartbreaking slow down.

AGCI's assessment was summed up like this . . . the challenges to the adoption climate seem insurmountable at this time.

Talk about a kick in the gut.  Tears started rolling as I let these words soak in.  I'm so thankful that Chad was home so I was able to sob on his shoulder and he was able to lovingly remind me of what we know is true.

We were so thankful when we began this journey that God spoke so clearly about three things: a boy, from Africa, who is HIV positive.  I wrote this in my first blog post . . . We know it will be a hard journey and we want to be able to look back and know that we heard God speak and were led by Him alone.  I wish I wasn't so right! 

So what now?  AGCI is giving families the option of staying on the waitlist as long as you are open to special needs and know that it could still be a long wait, change countries by switching to another AGCI program, or terminate your contract if you are led to pursue a different plan.

We begged God to speak in the beginning of this whole journey and we are doing the same now {and would appreciate you joining us in that prayer!}.  We will not make a move until we hear from Him.  We have feelings about what we might should do, but we know our feelings can lead us far from the walk of faith marked out for us.  So we pray and wait.

I've been teaching Hebrews for the last few months and not only have I loved the study, but I see clearly how God has used it to prepare me for this.  The call for the original audience was to have courage to walk in faith instead of fear and to believe in the One True God and all His promises.  This Word couldn't be more timely and relevant to our lives today.  Those in Hebrews 11 were all commended for their faith, their faith in the always Faithful One.  Abraham received a promise of a child {just like we have} but had to wait 25 years to see the fulfillment.  {Oh Lord don't let it be!}  We would never have imagined that this would be the road God has for us but it doesn't mean that something has gone wrong or that God isn't faithful.  It just means that like so many things . . . His plans are different than our plans and we can't even imagine the good that God has in store for us.

Brogan was not a part of "our plan" three years ago.  There are no words for how grateful I am that God led us to obey when He revealed that His plan might look different than we thought.  I can't imagine our life without my sweet Brogan and he will forever be a testimony to us that trusting God is always, always the better way! 

After I got my tears out {you can trust God but still cry like a baby!}, I spent the rest of yesterday a little down, but just praying for faith.  I had to run home from worship to get a pacifier for Brogan and as I got back in the van I pulled out my phone.  I didn't push any buttons, but somehow music started playing.  It was Fernando Ortega's song I Will Praise Him, Still and it was God's voice right to my weary heart. 

The chorus says, "For the Lord, our God, He is strong to save
From the arms of death, from the deepest grave,
And He gave us life in His perfect will,
And by His good grace, I will praise Him, still."

In those moments, as I was reminded of the Gospel, what I claimed was this . . . If I trust God for my salvation, if I have put all my eggs in this basket . . . that He has saved me and secured my ETERNITY with Him . . . then how could I not trust Him with this?  

So there it is.  We can and will trust Him.  We will wait if He says wait, knowing that it is for the best.  We will move if He says move, knowing that He knows the perfect timing for our journey.  We will trust no matter what lies ahead, knowing that He knows our son.

We would so appreciate your prayers as we seek God!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Little Guy . . . Big Change!

I've been meaning to write a post about our little dude since we found out on January 2 that he is, in fact, a dude!   

{My loves waiting for the big reveal during the ultrasound.  We were all hoping for a boy and there were some major screams of excitement when we were right!}

{As per our tradition, we went to Carter's to buy a new outfit for baby brother.  This picture also became our announcement on facebook that another little man was on the way!}

{As is also tradition, we went out to lunch to celebrate God blessing us with another healthy baby boy!}

Like I said, I've been meaning to post about our little guy since January.  Three months is a long time to have something on your to do list, especially for this girl who really likes to check those boxes!  

I planned to write about our little man's name, Drew Rutherford Gilbert, and how we chose it.  But now I realize that my slacking has turned into perfect timing . . . as of this week, he has a new name!

What?!  I know.  Totally unexpected.  We pick a name, start calling them by it as soon as we find out boy or girl, and never look back.  Not this time though!

Brogan Rutherford Gilbert is the new name of our little guy!

Here's the story . . .

On Saturday night, Chad had a dream.  Now Chad NEVER remembers his dreams {unlike me who can tell you several dreams every morning!}.  But this dream was very vivid and woke him up in a panic.  In the dream, Chad was talking to Grayson and then Grayson handed him a phone.  When Chad said "hello" the only word he heard was "Brogan" and then he woke up.  And he didn't just wake up, but woke up feeling like someone had just audibly spoke Brogan to him and he was a little freaked out.  He got up at 4 am and tried to figure out what the name meant.  Maybe he was supposed to be praying for someone? {even though we don't know anyone with that name}

So when he woke me up later, the first thing he asked was if the word Brogan meant anything to me.  Nope.  Not at all.  He told me about the dream, but I just said that was weird and rolled over.  {Obviously I wasn't showing too much concern for his stress!}

Chad googled the name, but he spelled it Brogen.  Even so, the first hit that came up was a baby name website.  So Chad jokingly said that maybe we were supposed to name Drew this name instead.  Nope.  He's already got a name.  {Still dismissing!}

Chad mentioned the dream a few times on Sunday, but I just waved it off.  He asked at one point how I would spell the name and I said "Brogan."

So then imagine the eye rolling that happened when I got a text from Chad on Monday morning with this screen shot from  He had googled it again with the different spelling.  He wouldn't let it go!

My first response was "Badger?  Really?"  
{Another website said it means "strong or sturdy" so we're going to go with that!}

But then I noticed what would cause Chad to excitedly call me a few minutes later.  See the 14 names listed that people who like Brogan also like?  That short list has all the names of our kiddos.  Even Paige, the name we had picked if this little one was a girl.  

Chad called freaking out, "What are the chances of that?!  Out of all the thousands of names, that Ava, Grayson, and Paige would be on that list!"  

At this point, Chad was definitely seeing this as more than just a crazy dream.  And I was at the point of having to actually consider and pray about changing Drew's name.  UGH!  It wasn't that I didn't like Brogan, but I've been calling this kid Drew for months!  I said that I would pray about it, but would really need God to show me in some other way that this was a change He wanted us to make.

That confirmation didn't come through a dream of my own, but by spending two days watching my husband get more and more excited and more and more sure that our little man is Brogan.  Chad is a passionate guy, but not usually about stuff like this.  With baby stuff, he usually just goes with the flow {and by flow, I mean, he goes with whatever I want!}.  But I have never seen Chad like this before!  He was going to have a hard time letting this go and I was going to have a hard time telling him no!

I read a book recently called "For Women Only" {which I highly recommend} that gives insight into how men think and how we can understand and love them better as wives.  A huge focus was on their need for honor and respect, which I thought I understood, but this book took me to a whole different level.

So on Tuesday as we were talking about what a big deal it would be to change his name, Chad sealed the deal for me.  He said two things . . . That he was so honored that God would speak to him in a dream and let him be a part of choosing this new name for our son.  And that he really appreciated the respect I was showing him by not just dismissing the whole idea.  

This had become a matter of honor and respect and I realize more than ever how profound that is for a man.

"Then name your son." I said.  :)

And Chad hasn't stopped being over the moon excited about it since!  It's going to take a little while for us, especially the kids, to stop staying Drew, but we're all excited!  {Grayson says, "What's that name for Drew?  So cute!}

We chose Rutherford as the middle name in honor of Samuel Rutherford, a Scottish pastor from the 1600s.  Right before I got pregnant, when God was speaking to our hearts about being open to His plans for our lives regarding children, Chad and I were both reading The Letters of Samuel Rutherford and they were having a profound impact on our hearts.  His letters were written to his flock while he was in exile and forbidden to preach for two years.  His words are so deep and rich and his counsel to those in his care was filled with bold Truth.  He suffered much, but still encouraged others with words like these . . . "I look not to win away to my home without wounds and blood.  Welcome, welcome cross of Christ, if Christ be with it." 

We pray that Brogan Rutherford will be a bold and faithful man of God like his namesake and we look forward to seeing how Brogan will be the perfect fit for our little man!