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 a hope and a future. Jer. 29:11

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Sweetest Gift

A few weeks ago some friends of ours went to Haiti to spend a week at the orphanage in Camatin loving on 28 little girls, teaching them some bible school lessons (Daughters of the King) doing crafts and having a teaparty with them. They also feed the community as well as ministered to some individual families in the communities surrounding the orphanage.

Anytime someone we know goes to the orphange we always send a care package for Cadonia as well as something for one of the other girls or a family we have gotten to know there. This trip, my friend Beverly took our care packages. We always send Cadonia a few clothes, snacks she loves (Fruit Loops) and something fun. Woody recorded one of those new recordable storybooks from Hallmark for her about Disney Princesses. We also included a letter to her as we always do.

I love when these friends come home from Haiti because I stalk their facebook pages for pictures of Cadonia and stories about her and all her friends that we love so much. After this trip Beverly told me she had something for me, so of course I was eager to get my hands on it, knowing it had to be something to do with Cadonia. Well, the sweetest gift I have gotten in a long time came in the form of a letter Cadonia wrote back to us as well as a picture she colored. She wrote some in Creole and some in English. She wrote that she loved us much and can't wait to see us in August, Mommi Cheri (sweetie). To my new family,God bless you.

Well, I had just been trying to decide that day if I was going to go at the end of August or if Woody was going by himself for our US Embassy appointment in Port au Prince and when I read that I knew I was going! I can't wait to see her in just a few short weeks.

I have to say thank you so much to all those who have gone to Haiti, have loved on all those amazing little girls at the orphanage at Camatin, those who have made room in your suitcases when you had no room, just so you could take something to my girl for me. Thank you for every picture you have taken and hug you have given. Each of you are a part of our journey to Cadonia and we are blessed because of you!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Oh HAPPY Day!!!

UPDATE on our Adoption Paperwork:

February 5-11, 2011-Went to Haiti on a Mission Trip

March 1, 2011- Contacted Clarity Group and East Tennessee Adoption Services

March 9, 2011-Recieved our dossier prep package from Clarity Group and went to work on getting our dossier together.

March 15, 2011- Home Visit with our Social Worker, Mary Harmon

March 22, 2011-Individual interview with Mary Harmon

March 30, 2011- Woody's individual interview with Mary Harmon

May 19, 2011- Homestudy Complete

May 23, 2011-Mailed I600A form to USCIS to get our fingerprinting appointment

June 3, 2011- Dossier mailed for Translation

June 9-16, 2011- Trip to Haiti to visit Cadonia and the other girls at the orphanage in Camatin

June 23, 2011- Translated copy of dossier received

July 5, 2011 Woody, Josh, Jordan and I went to Nashville for our fingerprinting appointment

July 6, 2011- Paperwork mailed to Hatian Consulate in Chicago for stamping

July 11, 2011-Received dossier back from Chicago, three copies were made and sorted

OH HAPPY DAY-July 20, 2011-Dossier was hand delievered to Haiti by our friend Preston Cunningham who went to visit his girls Redgina and Jesula

July 21, 2011-Received USCIS Favorable Determination Letter (Approval from the US to adopt internationally)

July 23, 2011 Received our US Embassy Appointment in Haiti for August 30th. Even though it is a little early in the process to do this step we are going to be going with 4 other families that are adopting. This has to be renewed online every 45 days until Cadonia comes home.

I must say, the last four months feel like they have held alot of blood, sweat, and tears or at least copying, running paperwork around the state and a few papercuts!! We have been so anxious to get this dossier complete and to Haiti but I must admit that I felt stange letting it out of my sight.

We had two groups of friends that were able to pray over the dossier with us, which was so special. We know that we have been called to this journey, that God is in control and it will all happen in His time!!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Daddy meets his girl

We arrived in Port Au Prince the morning of June 9th and had a mighty wild ride up the mountain to the orphanage. Woody and I were separated in our travel to Camatin because I rode in a van and he was in the back of the truck. The van was able to get there about 30 minutes before the I said it was a wild ride!

As I got closer to the orphanage I started to have fears and doubts about whether Cadonia would remember me when she saw me, after all I had only spend a half a day with her in February. We had talked to her on the phone several times as well but I just wasn't sure. I know that it was just one of Satan's little tricks to discourage me. As we started down the driveway I could see her along with a bunch of other little girls waiting on us on the big porch of the orphanage. What a sight to see. As I got out Cadonia ran out to meet me with a huge smile on her face and a big hug as well. My eyes immediately flooded with tears as I realized we were still so connected after months of separation. I noticed though that she was looking around for something or someone. I asked if she were looking for Poppie and she said yes. I told her he would be here soon and she seemed to understand.

Being separated from Woody for the last 3 1/2 hours I wasn't sure what he was feeling at the time he arrived but was told from the people he rode with that he was pretty much a nervous wreck about whether Cadonia would like him or take right to him or not. He needed to not have worried. When she saw the truck at the top of the long driveway she ran downstairs to meet him at the door. She could hear Woody calling her name and waving to her as the truck drove in and she was smiling and waving back. She even ran back inside telling her friends that her poppie was here and wanted them to come out and see. She immediately went to him when he got off the truck and hugged him like she had known him her whole life. That had to have been one of the best moments of my daughter I connected with months ago meeting the man I have loved for most of my life! The picture above was taken just after Woody arrived at the orphanage.

We had a great trip loving on those girls as well as ministering to communities around the orphanage and getting some adoption stuff done. More to come later!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

30 Days

....the number of days until we go to Haiti. The number of days until I get to spend more than just a few hours with Cadonia. The number of days until Woody gets to actually see his daughter for the first time. It seems like such a long time but I know when we get there the time we have with her will fly by. But still, I am looking forward to getting to know her better. I have been thinking alot about her this week, especially with Mother's Day being this past Sunday. I have been thinking about all the things that I do know about her, which isnt much. I know the following:

1. Her birth certificate says she is 5, and will be 6 in October. (I don't believe that)

2. She says she is 8.

3. She like Fruit Loops.

4. She like dogs.

5. She has 7 siblings.

6. Her favorite color is red.

7. She gets car sick.(the times she has been to the beach with groups from Knoxville she has gotten sick) Poor Girl!

8. She is totally adorable and won my heart quickly.

I can't wait to add to this list got it, 30 days!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Haiti on my mind

I was able to speak and sing at my parent's church a few weeks ago and then again at my sister in law's church for the night service. I spoke about my trip to Haiti and the work we did there and then about meeting our sweet Cadonia. I think since I came home from Haiti I have been so focused on getting our paperwork in for our adoption that I haven't thought as much about the people of Haiti as much as I would have if I didn't have this mound of papers to get turned in. But since Sunday I haven't been able to think about much else, the sweet people of Haiti and the life that they lead. Nothing, Nothing, NOTHING prepares you for the things you will see. The amount of devastation is unimaginable. Yet the people at both of the churches we attended have a love for Christ and a freedom of worship that most people in American may never know. They truly praise Him in the storm. Would you praise Him in this storm? *80% of the people live on less than $2.00 a day *Bowl of rice and beans cost about $1.50 *1/2 are unemployed with no job opportunities *Home to the 2nd largest slum in the world-300,00 people living in 3 square miles with no running water. *There are 1/2 million child slaves in Haiti *1 in every 3 of Haiti's children will die before the age of 5. Challanging us all to be more thankful for what we have, where we live and all that God has blessed us with. Since I have been home He is teaching me to be more responsible with the resources He has given me, whether that be money, time or possessions. I want to make a difference in my world with all that he has given me.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Talking to Cadonia

We got to call the orphanage tonight and talk to our sweet girl. Just the sound of her voice makes me smile and cry at the same time. We found out that Ricot had already talked with her about being
adopted. I asked if she remembered me and she said yes, Stephanie. She sounded very excited when Kevin asked her if she wanted to be adopted and come home to live with us. It was so good to hear her sweet voice.
I told her that some of our friends were coming to see her next week and that we would be sending her some presents. She said yes, she wanted a new dress and a baby doll. I have so enjoyed shopping for her and can't wait to see her in each and every outfit. I just wish I were going on this trip so I could see her face when she gets her gifts. We are not going to get to go until June which seems like a long time away. But in the mean time I will busy myself getting through this mound of paperwork!!! The sooner we get through it, the sooner we will have that sweet voice filling our house.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Holding My Breath

I feel like I have been holding my breath for the last few days. We found out Monday that Cadonia has only been in the orphange for the last 5 months. So before that she was with her parents and possibly siblings. In order for us to proceed with the adoption, her parents have to sign over their rights.

Ricot was able to talk to them on Monday about the fact that we want to adopt her. They were apparently excited that someone wanted to adopt her but were hesitant about signing over their rights. I know that they are told when they come to the orphange that this is a possiblity but I 'm not sure they are ever ready to hear that news. To think that yes, your child may be offered a life that you could never give her but that you also may never see her again has to be heart breaking. So they asked Ricot if they could think about it for a fews days so I know they love her but this is when I began holding my breath!

Knowing that God set us on this path I have prayed this week that he would see us through. That as hard a decision that Cadonia's parents have to make that they would let us bring her here to be a part of our family and that he would ease their pain in making this decision.

It seems like everytime I picked up my bible or a devotional God was giving me the perfect scripture. These are a few of them:

Hebrews 10:36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.

Phil 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made know to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Proverb 16:3 Commit your work to God, and your plans will be established.

Thankful for these verses that I have held onto this week as well as family and friends who have been so supportive.

So tonight I let out a deep breath and a shout of thanksgiving when we received the call that her parents agreed and that we can continue this great adventure of bringing Cadonia home.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

How the Journey Began

I have wanted to adopt a child since before I had a husband or was blessed with three awesome boys of my own. I can remember as a teenager watching a video at church about China and all of the orphans there. That is what I always thought I would do, adopt a little girl from China. Of course life happened, we got busy doing our thing, raising our three active boys. On two previous occasions we considered whether the time was right for us to adopt. One time we received a call from the Tennesse Baptist Children's Home where we had been on a waiting list for 2 years...I was 8 1/2 months pregnant with our youngest child. Somehow the timing did not feel right! A few years later, we were all set to start the process of adopting that little girl from China. Again, something didn't feel right. So we dropped it and I thought that would be the end of our adoption plans.

Since the earthquake in Haiti, my church has sent 3 or 4 mission teams to serve in Haiti. In February 2011, I was able to be a part of one of those teams. I knew that over the course of these trips several families had felt God calling them to adopt girls from an orphanage in Camatin, a 3 1/2 drive up the mountain from Port Au Prince.

Weeks before we left, I felt that tug at my heart about adopting again. I told Woody to be praying and to pray while I was in Haiti that we would be obedient to whatever He was calling us to do. Most of the week the team worked at the church at Savan Pistache, in Port Au Prince. Two members of our team are already in the process of adopting and their girls were able to spend the week with us. I totally fell in love with all three of these precious girls and can't wait for them to come home.

The last full day of our trip we made the drive to Camatin to spend time with the girls at the orphange. Many prayers were being prayed on that drive and not just because the roads were narrow and winding! I continued to pray that I wouldn't force anything and that God would orchestrate this day as He wanted. When we arrived at the orphanage we were greeted by 26 smiling faces, most of them standing on the porch waiting our arrival. I remember getting hugs from many of the girls as I walked in. It wasn't long after we arrived, while I was hugging some of the little girls when I felt this hand in mine. I looked down to see another smiling face looking at me. This is where it began, she grabbed my hand and she grabbed my heart. She began to tug my hand as if she wanted me to go with her so I followed. We ended up on the floor of the room that she shares with 7 other girls. I opened my backpack and took out the silly bands, beaded necklaces, and chapstick that I had brought for the girls. It's amazing how you can give something to one of the little girls, they leave and come back with many girls wanting what you have. They look after each other so well.

Just spending time with this little girl playing on the floor I began to feel such a connection with her. She wanted to sit in my lap or be beside me the whole afternoon. We brought jump ropes and I was able to get her to go play with the other girls. As I stood watching her laugh and play she reminded me of my own children when I would take them to a park to play and they would lose sight of me. She did the same thing, and when she finally spotted me still watching her, she got the biggest grin on her face. It just melted my heart!

As we left Haiti the next day, I felt that as much as I had loved the whole experience I didn't think I could go back to Haiti without being in the process of bringing her home. I now look at pictures of her and see my daughter, Cadonia. Even though in my head I had someone picked out that was younger (maybe 4-5 years old) I knew I couldn't go back to the orphange and bring another little girl home, leaving Cadonia there. It felt like she chose me, but ultimately it was God who chose to put us together.

A couple of days after I got home I was able to tell Woody about her and asked him to think and pray about it. The next day he told me he was ready to bring her home and that he had already been praying about it long before I asked him to. He already loved Cadonia because he could see how much I loved her. It is amazing how quickly God can give you love for a child that you spent about 6 hours with and could hardly speak to because of a language barrier. Our whole family already loves her and can't wait for us to get through the mounds of paperwork and bring her home. There is still so much about this journey already that I need to share but you will just have to wait for one blog at a time!