Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Heartache & Hope

It has been 5 months since I last kissed my sweet boys.  Five months since I last felt the weight of their arms wrapped around my neck.  I miss their sweet little giggles, their tiny fingers intertwined with mine, their flying hugs – I miss EVERYTHING about being around them. I have missed multiple holidays, birthdays and countless opportunities to just be their mama during these last 151 days.  My heart aches for them every single day.

I was doing pretty good up until we hit the 4 month mark.  Since then, I have been morphing into a total hot mess.  Some days it’s all I can do to just make it out of work and to my car before the tears fall.  Most of my evenings are spent pleading with God to get me back to my boys.  In my weakness I am tempted to be angry with God.  Thankfully I have been reminded that God loves them more than I ever could.  While that is hard to imagine, I know it to be true.  And I know He has His loving arms wrapped around my boys. They are His after all.  There is peace in knowing that, but it doesn’t alleviate the sting of the separation. 

While I don’t understand why getting back to them is taking so long, I do know that God is using this wait to mold me into the mother I need to be for these boys.  I have faith in His plans for our family.  God grants me new mercies and new strength every day so I can get through this.  I know that every night when my head hits my pillow I am one day closer to being reunited with my sweet boys.

We have had some good news recently.  Just last Thursday we had to complete a new Power of Attorney form.  It finally feels like things are moving forward again.  I have asked some of my adoptive mommy friends that have gone before me about their timelines.  It seems that the average is 2-4 weeks between the POA form and receiving travel dates.   So, I am hopeful that we will hear something soon.

Thank you all so much for your continued prayers and support.  We appreciate you all so much!

Psalm 71:14  As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Getting to Know Our Littles

In the last blog I talked a lot about our trip and interactions with the boys, but not much about their personalities.  So, I thought I would share with you what Wally & I have learned about the boys so far.

They are both so adorable – I mean seriously adorable.  Their big eyes and happy little smiles absolutely melt this mama’s heart!  They are both 100% BOY!!!  They are full of energy and are constantly on the move!  They love rough housing and climbing on daddy like he is a jungle gym.  In fact, they are like 2 little monkeys and like to climb on everything! They love cars, soccer balls, games, being tickled and playing at the park.  Getting them off of the swings was no easy task! We brought bubbles with us, and those were the biggest hit!  Every day we had to play with bubbles!  They also LOVED seeing pictures and videos of themselves. They are so silly and enjoyed hamming it up for us and the cameras!  They love making funny faces at us, and love it even more when we make them back!  Their big laughs and tiny giggles are the best – I would do anything to hear those sweet little laughs again.  The best thing ever is that they are both really affectionate (after they warm up to you) – I got way more hugs and cuddles than I was expecting on our first trip.  I can’t wait for all of those hugs and cuddles again!

Little K is pretty laid back and so smart.  He can already count to 20 in English.  He knows some English words, and always asked us how to say things in English. Before coloring in his activity book, we had to go through each page and tell him what everything was in English. I don’t think he will have any problems catching on to English quickly.  He is very inquisitive and wants to know how things work and why.   He loves mazes, puzzles, games, crafting/coloring, and taking pictures.  We have hundreds of pictures courtesy of Little K!  Most of them are blurry and aren’t really of anything, but he did get us a couple of good ones of Little A!  He also liked to “do” mama’s hair.  If you ever see my out and about and my hair looks questionable, just go with it!  He is quite the little helper too – he was always stepping in to help his little brother and the other little kids too.  He loves to snuggle and hates good-byes just as much as his mama does.

Little A is such a tiny little thing but has a HUGE personality.  He is very animated and has the best facial expressions!  He is a bit sassy too!  I think Little A is the child my mother always wished I would have.  You know…those moments when you were doing something questionable and your mom said “I hope you have a child just like you”!  He loves coloring and he really loves stickers.  He likes to stick them on you and then try to put them back a bit later. I have learned with this little one around I will always have something on my shirt.  Whether it be stickers, snot or food, to Little A, my shirt is fair game!  He also loves sneaking up on you and surprising you and he loves being surprised too!  As I mentioned before, both boys love cars, but Little A really, really loves cars!  We gave him a car on the 1st day, and that thing did not leave his side!  He loves to sit across from you, have your feet touch and push the car back and forth.  He is very particular and likes to have things organized in a certain way!  I wonder if that trait will last once he is home?!?!

Don’t’ they just sound like a boatload of love and fun?!?!  They totally are!  I cannot wait for our friends and family to fall in love with these 2 just as we have.  We aren’t leaving tomorrow, but we are getting closer!

 Quick Status Update:
·         What’s Happened:
o   Wednesday, January 14th – received notification that our paperwork was on it’s way to our agency form Poland
o   Thursday, January 22nd – received notification that our agency received the paperwork
o   Thursday, January 29th – we received our paperwork
o   Saturday, January 31st – sent paperwork (overnight of course) to USCIS

·         What’s Next:
o   Wait for approval from USCIS (we are praying we get this before the end of February)
o   Wait for Poland to assign us a court date & travel dates
o   Go get our boys & bring them HOME!

  1 John 4:19 - We love because he first loved us.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Highest High and the Lowest Low - Our First Trip

Wally and I were able to take our 1st trip to meet our boys in late November.  I don’t know what a 1st trip is supposed to be like, but I can’t imagine it going any better.  It was so awesome and Wally and I are so in love with these little boys!  They are definitely meant to be a part of our family.

On Monday, November 17th we left Warsaw and made a long drive to meet an adoption government official and the social worker.  After a brief meeting with them, we were on the road again making a 90 minute drive to get to the orphanage.  The boys knew that there were visitors coming, so when we arrived there was a whole group of them waiting to greet us in the entry way.  We got to spend a little time with them and then sat down for a chat with their caregivers.  We learned a lot more about their situation prior to coming to the orphanage and all of the progress they have made since.  Our boys are truly loved there and we are so very grateful for all of the wonderful people who have helped our boys since their arrival.  After that we had to meet the director of the orphanage, and then we were able to come back and play with our boys for a few hours.  They were pretty shy at first, but they warmed up pretty quickly once we started playing.

On Tuesday, November 18th we arrived back at the orphanage at 10am.  The boys excitedly ran to the door to greet us – we knew it would be a great day.  We were only supposed to stay for a couple of hours in the morning and then come back for a couple of hours in the evening.  We got so lucky and got to leave at 4pm and spend the entire day with our boys.  We had tons of play time and were able to share lunch with them.  The weather cooperated and we even got to take them outside to the playground for a while.  Some of my favorite memories of this trip were made at that playground.  Their little personalities really started shining through as the day progressed.  When we went to leave sweet little Mr. K kept holding my arm and asking me not to go…this practice continued the rest of the week. 

Wednesday, November 19th was a super special day.  We arrived at 9am and our sweet boys were anxiously awaiting our arrival.  We were able to sit down with the boys, their caregiver and their psychiatrist and present them with photo books we had prepared for them.  It included pictures of Wally & I, the dogs, our house, and we added polaroid pictures we had taken of us with them.  When we presented them with the books, they were told that we were going to be mommy and daddy.  The boys were so excited.  I don’t know that little Mr. A fully understands it, but little Mr. K absolutely gets it.  We got an atlas out later that day so we could show them where Poland is and where Wisconsin is.  Little Mr. K immediately asked when he gets to ride an airplane to go there!  As his psychiatrist told us, he is so ready for his new family! We spent a lot of time playing with the boys and really getting to know them.  We were asked to stay late this day and put them to bed.  No arguments here – we were able to stay until 8pm and enjoyed every minute we were able to spend with them.

Thursday, November 20th was honestly the toughest day I have ever had.  I am not exaggerating – it was truly heartbreaking.  I knew the good-byes were coming, so the morning started with tears. When we arrived at 9am we were greeted with flying hugs (the best kind) and we had some time to play with the boys before we sat down for a final chat with their caregiver.  She answered more of our questions and shared her thoughts with us.  She told us that she had prayed for a family for our boys for a long time and that she was so happy how quickly we connected with the boys and how quickly the connected with us.  Needless to say we were all in tears…the good kind though!  Shortly after she had prepared a lovely lunch of traditional Polish food – pierogis!!  She had arranged it so it was just us with the boys so we could have alone time before leaving.  After that, we had a few more minutes of playtime and then the good-byes begun.  I did pretty good keeping it together.  We had lots of hugs and kisses and they even called us mama and tata.  The caregiver did an excellent job telling what was going on.  However, sweet little Mr. K saw no need for us to go get things ready – he was ready to come home now.  He ran to the door and put his little stocking hat on and was quite adamant that he would just leave now.  That is when this mama could no longer keep it together and the tears came.  Walking out that door and looking back was more than I could take – in that moment, my heart broke into a million pieces.  I pretty much sobbed the rest of the day and kept trying to figure out how I was going to make it through the coming months.

I loved these boys when we first started this adoption journey; I loved them more when we received their referral, and now that love is indescribable!  It’s like there has always been a secret compartment of my heart that I never knew about, but was always reserved for them – my heart is so full!  I thought that it might take a little longer to love them this way, but it came so quickly and I know it will only grow!  My heart remains in Poland with my 2 boys.  Nothing feels the same anymore – it always feels like something is missing.  When we walked into our home after getting back, it was the 1st time it ever felt empty.

We ask that you pray that the paperwork moves quickly and we are able to get back to our boys very soon!

“Every minute feels like an hour, every hour feels like a day, every day feels like forever, but I will wait for you forever and a day.”

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Francis Family Happenings: August – October

Wow…it has been a crazy couple of months.  A lot of you have been asking for updates, so I will give you the short and sweet version.  In most cases, people get to travel to Poland within a month of accepting their referral.  However, A&K fell just outside of what we were originally approved for regarding age, so we had to update our paperwork.  We used expeditor services and found that they are worth every penny.  Why didn’t we use them on the 1st round of paperwork?  We will know better for next time.  As you will probably notice in our timeline below, we did slow down a bit in October and didn’t expedite anything.  I know what you are thinking…are you guys crazy? Don’t you want to hurry up and meet your boys?  I was thinking the exact same thing and it took everything in me not to expedite things.  And for the record, YES…I cannot wait to meet them!!!  For reasons beyond our control, there was going to be a delay in getting travel dates no matter how quickly we got the paperwork to our agency.  We decide to save money and practice patience.  It wasn’t easy, but we did it.  Well almost…we did end up sending the final paperwork overnight to our agency.  I just couldn’t help myself!  Even longer story short – there is a very good reason for the delay.  I just can’t tell you about it yet.  I know, I know….so many secrets!  I hate keeping them, but I promise I will spill the beans once the boys are officially ours.

Now what?  Well, we are running around like crazy trying to get ready for our 1st trip.  We leave shortly and there is so much to do.  We have also started renewing our paperwork.  That’s right, round 3 of the paperwork is already underway.  It should be fairly simple since we just had to update our paperwork.  We weren’t able to renew when we were updating because we were not within 90 days of the expiration of our approval.  So many rules and so much paperwork!  A&K are beyond worth it!  All of this paperwork will be a distant memory soon!
We are so excited to share our journey with you and are so very blessed by all of your love & support.   We ask for your continued prayers as we prepare to travel.

Paperwork Round 2:
·         August 14th - received our referral for A & K 
·         August 18th - met with an international adoption doctor
·         August 18th - accepted the referral for A & K
·         August 19th - began paperwork update
·         August 29th - completed our part of the paper work
·         September 8th - home study approved
·         September 15th - sent paperwork to USCIS
·         October 1st - found out USCIS paperwork was approved
·         October 4th - received USCIS approval in the mail
·         October  9th - dropped paperwork off at Secretary of State to be apostilled
·         October 14th - picked up apostilled paperwork from Secretary of State & sent to our agency
·         October 27th - received travel dates

We even found time to carve little A & K a pumpkin!
       Philippians 3:14
       I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Monday, August 18, 2014

It's a BOY...and it's another BOY!!!!

Wally & I are beyond excited to announce that we have accepted a referral for 2 little boys!  While we always knew that 2 was a possibility, we never really thought we would get 2 - it's not very common!  This all seems very surreal.  We talked a lot today about how much our lives are going to change and it all just seems so crazy - the good kind of crazy! God has blessed us big time - we are getting 2 sons!

Per the adoption policies, we aren't able to share too much info about our little guys until after everything is official (that won't be until our 2nd trip).  This is in place to protect our children to be.  However, here is what I can tell you...
  • They are brothers
  • They are preschool age
  • We are keeping their Polish names, but for now will be referring to them as little "A" & little "K"
  • They are absolutely adorable - I seriously can't stop staring at their pictures
  • Their mommy & daddy are already in LOVE with them and can't wait to meet them
While Wally & I are more than anxious to meet them, our 1st trip is going to be a bit delayed as we have to update some paperwork before we travel.  I will be starting in on that tomorrow and praying everything goes quickly and smoothly.  If I had to guess, I would say it will be sometime in November.  After that we come home for a few months and then go back for our 2nd trip to bring them home.  Once again, this is all guess work, but we are hoping to have them home by spring of 2015.

Thank you all so much for your love, support and prayers!  We ask that you continue to pray for the process and that we will be able to meet our sons soon.  Please pray that God also prepares their hearts and minds for their new family

“I prayed for this child, and the Lord had granted me what I asked of him.” – Samuel 1:27

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Slipping Through the Cracks

I have to admit, when we started this adoption journey I had a romanticized idea of how it would all play out.  I am fully aware of all of the risks and uncertainties of adoption.  I have heard more adoption gone wrong stories than I would have liked to.  Even still, I hung onto the hope that ours would be different…it would be perfect!  When we started this journey, we never thought that any of that would happen to us.  No one ever starts an adoption journey thinking that they could be the family that slips through the cracks. Thinking that after all you have done, all you have invested emotionally and financially, that you would end up right back where you started just less pieces of your heart.

We have encountered a few hiccups, and to be honest, it has been a pretty tough summer for us.  We don’t have any awful stories and nothing major has gone wrong.  There have just been a lot of ups and downs and unexpected things along the way.  The waiting seems endless, but let’s be real, there are people who have waited 5+ years during their adoptions.  It sure makes my 1 year, 2 months, 2 weeks and 5 days seem insignificant.  What we are experiencing is “normal”, but for the first time, I feel like we might be one of those families that slip through the cracks.  How is that even possible?  Isn’t this God’s plan for us?

It’s a slippery slope, but before I allow myself to fall down the rabbit hole of self-pity, I quickly remember why we are doing this.  It’s not about us slipping through the cracks; it’s about all of those children that have slipped through the cracks.  There are millions of orphans in this world that just need love.  They just need a family of their own, a place to call home and someone to share Christ's love with them.  Every single child in this world is entitled to that.  If we don’t fight for them, who will?  If we don't make them our sons & daughters, who will?

So, no!  Not us!  Not the Francis Family!  We will not slip through the cracks!  Even though we haven’t experienced the flawless adoption (l don’t really think it exists), it is still perfect – perfectly His!  It becomes more beautiful every day!  God is using every hiccup and every obstacle to stretch my heart in ways I could have never imagined.   

I found this quote a while back, and I thought it would be appropriate to end with this.

"No, God never meant for me NOT to have children. That's not my destiny; that's just a fork in the road I'm on. I've been placed on the road less traveled, and, like it or not, I'm a better person for it. Clearly, God meant for me to develop more compassion, deeper courage, and greater inner strength on this journey to resolution, and I haven't let HIM down.

God has singled me out for a special treatment. God meant for me to build a thirst for a child so strong and so deep that when that baby is finally placed in my arms, it will be the longest, coolest, most refreshing drink I've ever known!" – author unknown

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Weight of the Wait

This post is a bit of a jumbled mess, but that is just how life is these days.  I really thought that I was going to be much better at this waiting game then I am proving to be.  They told us to expect 3 months for translation and authentication (April 3rd was the 3 month mark), and to expect 4-10 months after that for a referral.  So, I guess when you look at it that way, I haven’t technically been “waiting” for that long – only 13 days. While I understand that, I have a very hard time explaining that to my heart, and it is quite clear that the heart trumps the brain in this process. Unfortunately it doesn’t matter how you shake it, it seems like an eternity to me.  I wake up every morning thinking that this could be the day that we get “the call”.  I go to bed every night a little sad that we didn’t get it.  I drive my husband crazy all day long with emails & text messages – why aren’t they calling us?  Do you think they will today?  What about this week?  When is it going to happen?  I want my baby!  Please make it happen now! 

I have a new obsession with my phone that would rival that of any teenage girl.  My phone does not leave my side.  I check it way more often than I would like to admit.  The temporary loss of it is enough to set off panic in my house.  Every single time it rings my heart stops.  I apologize if you have called me and I sounded disappointed when I answered – the truth is that I was.  I love you all very much, so please don’t take offense to that.  My newfound obsession is making me lose my manners.  I am horribly rude and check my phone during dinner, events, meetings, and even mid-conversation.  I don’t even mean to do it sometimes; at this point it’s just habit.  I promise, once this adoption is complete, my phone etiquette will return to normal.
With nothing but time on my hands, inevitably, more questions surface.  What is my little one doing right now?  Are they sick?  Are they sad?  Are they scared? Are their cries going unanswered?  How did they end up in an orphanage in the 1st place? (That one is the most haunting for me.)  Why does this take so long when there are so many children in the world that just need love, and I am standing here begging to give it?  I know asking these questions are a moot point, but this is what my brain does to me…quite often.

The uncertainty of every day is wearying.  I try not to think about it, but really, how do I even do that?  I have this constant ache that reminds me something is missing - I am a mother without a child.  Truth be told - on the surface I may appear to have it together, but on the inside I am a hot mess.  I can be brought to tears in a matter of seconds.  Sometimes it is as simple as someone asking how the adoption is going, a song on the radio or if I linger too long in the little’s room.  Don’t even get me started on watching YouTube adoption videos.  I cry right along with those mamas getting to hold their babies for the first time, hoping and praying that someday that will be me.  Thank God I have my husband who has been my rock through this emotional roller coaster.
Thank you all very much for your understanding, support and continued prayers.  I hope we will have exciting news for you soon.

Romans 12:12
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.