Saturday, July 18, 2015

Trip 1

I've had a decent amount of time between my last visit at Ryan's orphanage and where I am now to process through everything I saw, everything I heard, everyone I met. It's not easy for me to admit but I went into that orphanage filled to the brim with American entitlement. To use a friends word...i was being snobby, even if only on the inside.

In America we would do this medical procedure.

We would never let kids get this sickly.

We could do better.

We are better.

And I think that's what most people feel when they go into such unfamiliar territory. It truly is not easy to walk into an orphanage and see your child not getting everything they could if they were home with you, or born to you. It is absolutely easy to start assigning blame and passing judgement. I get being a mama bear, I'm one too...and I'm the first to admit that those feelings are often even stronger with adopted kids just because they were born into less than ideal circumstances and we fight so, so hard to make them ours. It doesn't come easily, or naturally, it's a battle and we are fighting for them every step of the way. I want to make it clear that I understand and I'm there too but after spending a week getting familiar with the culture and the motives of the orphanage staff and watching their interactions with an open heart and open mind instead of putting on blinders and wearing a cloak of "I could do this better than you"...guys, if we come home and bash these orphanages and caregivers, if we start blogging all the ugly things we see, if we tell potential adoptive parents horror stories...then we're part of the problem. 

That's a really bitter pill to swallow. Trust me I had to overcome a lot to swallow it myself, but it's the truth and while we're getting all uncomfortable and talking about things that aren't easy I'm going to throw a couple other things out there...

1. Adoption is beautiful but creating change from within the orphanage is more important

2. Jesus is the only way miracles can happen and miracles are exactly what these orphanages need.

3. In order to become who He needs you to be, to advocate for these kids, you have to let Him break you and strip you down to what those kids have, nothing.

So, here we go!

I am a huge advocate for adoption, clearly. I believe every child on this planet deserves a family, and I believe there are families who are called to adopt these orphaned children and just refuse to say yes. But, there comes a point where we have to be realistic. There will always be an orphan crisis. We could have some huge revival and have 100 million Christians say "yes Lord!! I will bring home 1, 2, 8 orphans!" And we could clear out every orphanage in the world. But they would fill right back up, because we live in a broken world. So, what if instead of adopting families chastising those who aren't adopting, and those who aren't adopting judging where families choose to adopt from, we all just come together and do what we can on whatever level we can to give all kids the best opportunity possible? That could mean adopting, but it could also mean promoting change within the orphanages and showing grace to the people working there. There are several ways that we can be the shining city on a hill so to speak, even if adoption isn't in your future.

1. Volunteer to travel with an adopting family. 

This is an excellent way to see first hand what goes on in orphanages. Not only will you be able to support your friend who is adopting, you may be able to lend a hand at the orphanage itself, playing with kids, interacting with staff, and just generally coming in with a happy, grateful, warm demeanor. It goes a long way.

2. Look for opportunities to encourage the leaders at the orphanages. If you're there, thank them for their hard work, ask how you can be of service to them. If you're not there see if you can send care packages, notes, anything to let them know they are cared for and prayed over.

So number 2...I know not everyone who reads this is a Christian, but I am so confident in the absolute miracles I saw happen during my week in Bulgaria that you would be if you saw what I saw. We had people all over the world praying over us, and Ryan, and the orphanage. We hit road block after roadblock and watched each obstacle be lifted and we were very intentional through prayer to acknowledge Him working around us, and through us, and in our hearts and gave Him every ounce of glory for everything HE accomplished in that place. The orphanage director was known to be strict and stern, and definitely lived up to that when I first met her but we prayed and we prayed for her and by Wednesday she was like a new person. She even physically LOOKED different, and her entire demeanor had changed and she was open, and helpful and even loving. Every single person in that place was shocked. It was a miracle. 

What I need from my friends and prayer warriors is for you to actively and boldly pray for change to happen from within. I did my best to learn as many names as possible while I was there. The staff, the children, and the agency workers...I pray for them by name intentionally each day and every time their faces pop into my head. I pray for the Lord to soften their hearts, to see the children as deserving of love and attention. I pray that God will give the staff hearts of mama bears who will do anything to protect their young. I pray for the Lord to give those kids the hearts of warriors, to let them somehow feel the love that is pouring out for them from their Heavenly Father and from everyone here who prays for them. Prayer can change everything. Jesus can do anything, and I truly believe we could witness change on a grand scale if we boldly storm heaven on behalf of these children.

The third point almost did me in. Allowing the Lord to strip me of everything and break me until I took off the heavy, heavy cloak of control issues I carried around and dropped them at the foot of the cross. Took off the neediness and left it at the cross...I thought I was prepared for anything when I left for Bulgaria. I worked out the details, I had one of my favorite people with me, I was good to go. I didn't need anything, I figured it all out on my own.

That was my first mistake. Thinking I didn't need anything because *I* was in charge and handled it all. Wanna know the quickest way to making God knock you flat on your face? Forget you need Him to go before you in EVERYTHING YOU DO. 

Everything started off absolutely fine, our flights were uneventful and we had a great time during our NYC layover. 

We found Italian Nutella in Rome, we finally made it to Sofia, Bulgaria...and my luggage was lost. We found our driver though and made it to our hotel and our room that featured gnome sized everything (I am a giant...Kristie was thrilled with the furniture size) and beds that were so close together that if you weren't super close friends before, you would be by morning! 

I was a little stressed out about my luggage but not too horribly until Kristie opened HER luggage and all of her toiletries were missing. The entire bag of shampoo, soap, etc. (another thing that will bond you quickly? Sharing a razor...mine was in my carryon and hers was abducted by the TSA, so...yeah). Then our converter wouldn't work so we couldn't blow dry our hair, and hair dryer in the room didn't work, and it was very quickly becoming painfully clear the Lord had no room for vanity on this trip. We were going to be stripped of all that and our focus was going to be on more important things. So we came to terms with that, and it was getting later, and we were supposed to
Be picked up the next day and driven clear across the country to Burgas, a beautiful city on the coast of the Black Sea, where Ryan lives, and we had no idea who was getting us or when. We had David and friends and agency staff working to figure it all out and we were getting pretty nervous...but it worked out and we were picked up around noon the next day and we were off to road trip it across Bulgaria.

So, I need to stop here and introduce you to this elusive Kristie person. Going through my posts on facebook, and pictures posted in our private facebook group, there was a running theme of "so who's that chick?" I will explain. To put it simply, Kristie is the Cristina to my Meredith...she is my person.

If you don't watch Grey's Anatomy and don't get that reference, then I don't know why we're friends to begin with because it's like the best show ever...but I'll explain anyway. You know how once in a while you meet a person and you're like "oh hi, i didn't know you existed yesterday, but now that I've talked to you for roughly 17 seconds I've decided you're like my favorite person and we're going to be friends FOREVER!" and it's not weird and they don't get a restraining order and it just works? That's pretty much how things went down when I met Kristie. We met in Sunday school, in November-ish, and in March-ish I asked her to go to Bulgaria with me, and then we started hanging out and getting to know each others families and then we went to the other side of the world together and it was awesome. So, that's how we met...but to be totally serious for a second...there wasn't another person on this planet who was supposed to go on this trip with me besides her. She is such an amazing person all the way around. She is hilarious and can make you laugh til you can't breathe, she can pray over you and calm your nerves when you're about to completely FREAK. OUT., and she will tell you to get over your sad, pitiful self when she needs to. She's incredibly smart and strong in her faith and just super awesome. A big part of why I felt totally secure on this journey is because I had her with me, and I don't think I've ever trusted anyone like that aside from my husband. So, yeah...she's my person. 

Now that you know who this super cool travel pal is, lets get back to the journey. We were on our way to Burgas, we're halfway there and surrounded by nothing but field after field of sunflowers, and we stop at a gas station for lunch and my translator, this sweet girl who was a total stranger to me, looked me straight in my face and said "Kristie can't go to the orphanage with you".


I'm sorry...


See, I was in control...sure my luggage was lost somewhere between Rome and Sofia and I was heading to Burgas and 12 hours before this conversation I didn't even know who was coming to take us to Burgas, if someone was coming to take us, but it was fine right because at least I had my buddy! I wasn't alone in this foreign country or alone facing this adoption or meeting this kid who could possibly hate my guts right? And now I suddenly had no control over anything because you just snatched my crutch right out from under me and I was going to have to go to this orphanage alone and meet this tiny person alone and surely my friend hated me at this point because hi, i just dragged you literally ACROSS THE ENTIRE WORLD and now you get to sit alone in a hotel room while I go meet my kid...super fun and exciting times for you I'm sure. God bless her, she was amazing and so chill like "it's fiiiiine...if I'm meant to go I will! It's all good!" And goes back to playing solitaire without a care in the world. Meanwhile, I was losing my mind. We get back in the car and keep trekking on to Ryan's city and I am dying inside, like I think I may have had a full blown heart attack and I was crying and I hate's literally the worst...and in my head I'm still not getting it, I'm still saying what can I do, how can I fix it, how can I snatch back control and then we're in Burgas and we're checked into our hotel and we're gross and I don't have luggage and the room smells weird and we go out and we can't find food and we're exhausted and we're starving and we finally find this weird chicken and there are cats everywhere and I'm about to HAVE. A. FIT.

...and there is this voice in my head, I hear it plain as day...and I don't "hear voices" typically...

God doesn't audibly talk to me...

but I hear...

Do you think you need me yet?


Um...yup...yup I do! I'm not doing too hot out here on my own.

So in the morning we have breakfast, Kristie prays with me, I feel a little better, then I get in this taxi alone and i'm trying really hard not to burst into tears, have a temper tantrum, whatever...and I just keep doing what Kristie told me to do...pray. Just repeat over and over "God be with me...God be with me..," and that was my mantra the whole way there, up the stairs of the orphanage, inside the directors office, up the elevator, down the hall, and into Ryan's ward...God be with me...God be with me...and then there he was, teeny tiny Ryan. Sitting in a baby bouncer, smiling, and I was smitten. I mean it was love at first sight. That feeling when you hold your baby for the first time, they're laying on your chest and you know that little person is who you've been waiting for for months, and they're yours, and they're perfect...I was so there. 

I forgot everything else, who cares about luggage and having clean clothes and frizzy hair and being alone and just forget all of it...I finally had MY kid in my arms and nothing else mattered.

But, while that moment was a fairytale, the experience was far from one. Ryan is a very sick little boy, pounds smaller than I expected, many more serious special needs than I thought. His life is very much at risk. Recognizing all of this kind of lit a fire under me and I really needed our translator to help me advocate for better nutrition for him, and for Kristie to be allowed to meet him. It was no longer for reasons like I NEEDED her there with me, God removed that need from me, He took my crutch and forced me to rely on Him, and I learned very quickly that He was all I needed, but Ryan needed her. He needed to feel love from as many of his people as possible, and the only people he had that week were me, and her. My biggest fear was, and remains, that he won't live to come home. He is truly that frail. I couldn't live with myself if that happened and I hadn't done everything in my power to get her inside that orphanage to show him he had people. 

So, we prayed. We didn't just pray, we had our entire Bible study praying...and talk about some women who love Jesus. Someone I had never met prayed the most amazing prayer over us and our trip and Ryan...we had so many people interceding on our behalf and heaven was stormed with prayers for our situation...and the next day I asked the orphanage director once again if Kristie could just come see Ryan even for a minute, and she was so warm and understanding. She said of course she can come, and not for a few minutes, for the whole visit, and for all the visits. My mouth hit the floor, I felt the presence of God in that room with us, I had never felt anything like that before in my life. It was amazing. 

So, we decided to keep doing what was working. Praying, and praying hard, and praying big huge prayers for crazy big change inside that orphanage, and God didn't just soften their hearts, he softened MY heart towards them. He allowed all the mama bear bitterness to just fall away, he allowed me to genuinely thank them for keeping my child alive, and doing their best, and loving him the best they could. We made a decision to, all on our own, with God of course, change the way the staff at this orphanage viewed American's. We would not be selfish and just focus on Ryan, we would ask how we could serve the staff, and the children, and they were so receptive, and appreciative. A trip to meet my child, and what I thought was bringing a friend for me, turned into so much more. That orphanage became a mission field, and Kristie wasn't there for me, she was there because God wanted her there and was using her there to love on that staff and those babies in ways they have probably never experienced in their entire lives. It was big, and it was kingdom work, and it was amazing. I'm so blessed to have been a part of it. 

Leaving was hard, it was so hard...but we had a layover in Paris and we took that amazing city by storm while we had the chance! It was probably the most incredible experience of my life, and I wouldn't have wanted to share it with anyone else. 

I was a little worried about spending so much time constantly connected at the hip to one person. I have never been with anyone for that long with no break at all aside from David...but it was actually REALLY fun, and when I got home to the frat house I live in and there were boys everywhere...I kinda wanted my girl time back! I can't wait until trip 2, and breaking my baby boy out of there once and for all...but that won't be the end of this journey. I have a love for that orphanage and I will do everything I can to help it become whatever the Lord wants it to be. <3

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Bold Faith

With plane tickets in hand and empty suitcases waiting to be filled, I was struggling. Struggling with the enormity of what is about to happen with meeting (and leaving) Ryan. Struggling with accepting how very different this adoption has been compared to McKenzie's. There were just so many things weighing so heavily and the more I worked and planned and relied on myself to fix all this anxiety, the worse it got. I tried blame shifting the problem on all sorts of things, but last night I was trying to fall asleep and I were called to be bold in your faith. 

Somewhere along the way I lost sight of that, and the farther I veered off the path, the harder I struggled with everything that is happening. I know with absolute certainty that God has called us to these children, but I've made the mistake of letting fear of the unknown and fear of change take over. I haven't been trusting the Lord to go before me, I've been relying on myself to handle everything about a journey that isn't even about me. It's about Him, and honoring Him by saying yes to His will for my life, and being bold and finding strength in Him. He is faithful, and He is in charge, and He will bring Ryan home, and it will all be for His glory. My job is to obey, and get out of the way.

For the first time in weeks I slept like a baby. It's so very freeing to know that we have a Heavenly Father that comforts us when we're fearful, but also reminds us that as Christians we aren't called to be comfortable, we're just called. I woke up renewed, peaceful, and so excited about the journey ahead. Less than 2 weeks to go! 

will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. 

Isaiah 42:16

Monday, June 8, 2015

Not all who wander are lost

It's 3:30am and I'm wide awake debating whether or not I should go for a run since sleep won't be happening anytime soon. It's been a couple weeks of roller coaster emotions. We got travel dates to go meet Ryan and I have been going back and forth between being incredibly excited to finally meet him, to terrified about what I might see when I do meet him, to overwhelmed by all the things I need to do to prepare to go, to being really sad that Dave isn't going to be there with me, but yet totally happy that I'll get to experience the whole Europe thing with an awesome friend. I'm all over the place and yesterday it just all kind of hit at once and it was pretty overwhelming. 

This adoption process has been so much different than when we adopted Kenzi. Dave has a different job that keeps him away all the time. Either he's traveling or gone 12-14 hours a day so I'm pretty much doing the single parent thing while trying to get everything done for the adoption and keep up with the kids and the house and fundraising and lots of crazy life stuff that keeps happening and to be honest I feel like I'm drowning. I don't know how to juggle this many balls in the air by myself and I'm always lacking in at least one area. I might get all my adoption paperwork done but I have a mountain of laundry and a naked kid who can't find a clean towel after their bath. Or maybe I'm rocking the fundraising thing but that means I had to stay up all night and make my house look like a ribbon bomb went off and my kids ate frozen pizza for dinner...again. Or maybe I'm completely on point with the mom stuff and my kids are all squeaky clean and smelling sweet and we did crafts and went to the park...but I have 40 packages that really needed to get labeled and shipped out. I could go on and on but you get the idea. Couple all that stress and feelings of inadequacy with having basically no adult interaction 90% of the time and it really makes for a sad situation! Now with doing everything to prepare for this trip by myself, the anxiety is even worse. I can't eat, I can't sleep, I'm constantly in a state of "OMG I'm going to screw everything up...I'm going to forget this, or that, omg I'm going to get lost or forget my flight number...or or or..." And it's just nonstop. When we were adopting Kenzi I was so chilled out about the first trip, nothing but excitement and I know it was because I was kind of just the sidekick. Dave handled everything, I just had to pack a suitcase and show up. This time, he's swamped with work and as much as he wants to help he just can't. He can't even be there with me and that fact is hitting me a lot harder than I expected it too. Don't get me wrong I'm so excited to have a week of "girl time" that I can barely function...but I kind of equate it to having a baby and your husband not being there with you. It's sad. 

If anything good has come out of all this, it's that I'm learning to take the things I have no control over and lay them down at Jesus' feet, without trying to pick them back up again. It's a slow process though, but I'm trying. I used to kind of roll my eyes when people would say "satan hates adoption" but I get it now. Only when I'm in the adoption process do I constantly feel like a battle is raging inside of me. I know that sounds dramatic but it's absolutely the most accurate description and it's the most exhausting, draining feeling. Our first adoption almost cost us our marriage, we had to fight and claw our way back from a really bad place, and God used all of that to make us stronger. The fact that I've been able to not only keep it together enough to do all the adoption stuff without Dave being able to help much but also be compassionate towards his feelings of guilt about not being as involved as he would like to be is a true testament of how far we've come in the last few years. So, I know God will use all of these spiritual battles to mold us into better, stronger people so we can face everything that is coming our way with Ryan and all of his medical needs, but that doesn't make the battle any easier and it's hard to stay focused on the finish line sometimes when you're struggling, and tired, and often times feeling really alone.

 I know there are other adoptive mamas out there who get it, and probably feel really lonely too. It's not easy to talk about the scary side of adoption, and there are a lot of us who lose friends and family because adoption is time consuming, and not so fun, and it changes you, and people don't know what to say so they just avoid us, or maybe people just don't agree with your decision to adopt especially where special needs are you're kind of left with all these feelings and struggles and you look around and everyone is gone. One of my friends who, like me, has adopted more than once said that some days the difference between throwing in the towel, and having the courage to keep pushing forward, was a phone call from a friend, or a coffee invite, just a little something that reminded her that she wasn't battling alone. How accurate is that?! Adoption is really hard and we all hear the same lines "you chose this" or "you knew what you were getting into" and those comments are only socially acceptable when said to an adopting mother. No one would have the stones to say "well you're the one who chose this"
to a pregnant woman who was nervous about childbirth! So, I guess I say all this to say...I get it. I'm there too and I'm fighting all these adoption demons too. I know without a doubt that no matter what struggles the process brings, if God called you to this wild adoption ride, it will all be ok in the end. 

Maybe there is someone who needed to hear all this and that's why I'm rambling at 3am. Sometimes it helps to know that you're not the only one who is going through a hard time. Adoption is hard, it's the hardest thing I've ever done, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and we will get to it if we just keep putting one foot in front of the other and always, always remember to let God go before us. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Dear Ryan

Dear Ryan,

When we were adopting your sister I used to write a letter to her every weekend on your moms old blog. We're 8 months into your adoption and this is the first letter I've written to you. I think adoption seemed magical the first time around. I had visions of a happy little girl running up to me, excited about her new life, but the reality was much darker. Adoption isn't the fairy tale I thought it was and I've always been a glass half full kind of guy. I don't know how to look at your circumstances and see anything in the glass at all. Everything is about to change for you. You have no idea now, but in a few weeks you're going to have so much love surrounding you. You'll go from never being held to having a mommy and an auntie fighting over who gets to hold you. Everything is different now, we just need you to stay strong a little longer. 

You're going to be seven next week. I'm sorry we can't be with you to celebrate your day, but I promise you'll have the biggest party ever for your next birthday. We have so much making up to do and I have no doubt that your mom is going to spoil you rotten. Which is just fine with me.

You got a new name today. I know that probably doesn't seem like a big deal, but for you it is. You're no longer assigned a name by an organization. A number by an agency. It always bothered me, children being numbered. Cliff #397. You're not a number, you're a precious, loved little boy. You have parents, you have siblings, you have countless people in your corner. Cliff #397 doesn't exist anymore. Today your are Ryan Alexander Morse. You have a family surname, your mom went through a laundry list of names for you, her friends made lists of names for you. Your first name has a story, your middle name has been your moms favorite boy name since she was a little girl, pretending her dolls were her babies. I'm so sorry you spent all those years alone, but now you have a name, and a story, and everything is going to be ok.

We are working so hard to get you home. You hit the jackpot when it comes to having a fighter for a mother. She is going to get you home as fast as possible or die trying. She's never given up on you since the day she first saw your picture almost one year ago. I don't like to admit it but she had to do a lot of convincing to get me to say yes to bringing you home. I worry about her. Your old man is, well, an old man compared to your mom and odds are I'll leave this world a long time before she does. It's my job to know that she's going to be ok, and that you and your sister are going to be ok. But she's strong. She'll be fine and we serve a God who is so much bigger than us and He will take excellent care of all of you. I can't wait to hold you and tell you all about Him. He is so faithful, and He is preparing your heart for this big life change, and my heart to welcome you home. and your mom and Miss Kristie's heart to meet you soon. He loves you so much, more than I ever could and I love you with my whole heart already. 

Welcome to the family Ryan.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes

So every Sunday after church I kind of go over in my head what I heard, what I learned, how it applies to my life, etc. I can't get out of my head how someone described being in this dark place where they hated the real deal hate...and how he carried that hate in his heart for so long that he eventually didn't even recognize that it was there anymore. You kind of patch up all the hurt spots and push all those feelings deep down and ignore them, but avoiding situations and people isn't the same as forgiving them. That requires ripping off those bandages and dealing with some ugly stuff, and that's no easy task. 

I don't know...I felt really convicted this morning that I need to offer forgiveness to someone who has hurt me on the deepest levels imaginable, and revisiting those things will be really scary. I've been in this dark place and it just keep getting darker as the layers keep being pulled back. Lots of painful events and trauma that all points back to this one person. I have let the hate I feel towards them, and all that darkness and bitterness that comes along with hate, invade every aspect of my life. It affects my judgement of situations, my reaction to people in need, what kind of parent I am, how I choose to love my husband, what kind of friend I am, and most importantly it affects my ability to turn my life over to Christ and trust Him fully. I'm always holding pieces back, always looking for ways to independently fix my own problems, because I want to hide that dark part. Ignore it, and if I turn that over to Him I HAVE to deal with it and until now I've never felt strong enough to do it, but I don't need to be strong, I just need to trust. So, after much conviction, and having the exact thing preached in my face this morning and hearing about the awesome healing and redemption that comes with obedience to Him, I'm ready to turn it all over, give my heart to Him fully, and trust him to lead me out of that dark place and show grace and forgiveness to someone who I've never before considered deserving of it.

I don't know why I felt led to share all of that, other than it helped me to hear that someone struggled through some dark places but came out the other side stronger in their faith and walking closer to Him. I thought maybe there is someone out there who needed to hear the same thing. 

My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart
    you, God, will not despise. Psalm 51:17

Please pray for me this week! I'm waiting to hear about travel to meet Cliff and it already feels like a weight has been lifted knowing I can go into the struggles of getting him healthy and on the road to becoming a loved member of our fsmily without all that stone surrounding my heart. Love you guys and have a great week!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Giveaway and an Update!

We have raised $3,118 so far with this giveaway! How cool is that?! We are $382 away from drawing for the Visa gift card, and $1,382 away from being DONE with the giveaway! We have a weekend in Reno and a weekend in Nashville at the Opryland Hotel to giveaway so please consider entering so we can wrap this up! Please leave a comment if you enter and let me know how much you donated, or if you shared, etc so I can get you added to the list of people who entered!

Now for a little update about where we are in the process! We are currently, and very impatiently, waiting for travel dates! All of our paperwork is done, it's in Bulgaria, and I check my email approximately 3,584 times a day for word from our agency that we can GO! Dave can't go with me because of work, but we are so incredibly grateful for our friends Jamie and Kristie who have stepped up to make this trip much easier! Jamie will be watching my kids, and Kristie will be going to Bulgaria with me, so keep their families in your prayers too. It's not easy to sacrifice for others, but I'm so thankful to have found good friends in this world who are willing to be in Cliff's corner. <3

Our FSP hasn't had much movement lately, which is totally my fault. I'm better at selling things to raise money than just asking for help. Maybe it's a pride thing (I know, that's bad!) but that's just the way I am! I haven't been able to make anything to sell since hurting my hand and being told to rest it or have surgery (no thank you on the surgery thing!) so I've been laying low. Hopefully in a few weeks I'll be back in full force and able to craft my little heart out and wrap up this fundraising! 

For now we do have a couple things going on, we are selling capes, you can find more info on those here: Side note about the capes: I only need to sell 3 more in order to place the order, so if you would like one get that order in soon because I'm ordering as soon as I hit the minimum! (How many times can you say "order" in a sentence? Apparently several...)

We also still have a million popsicle holders to sell! They're grab bag style but feel free to specify if you would like boy, girl, or a mix of prints. They're $10 for a set of 7, that includes shipping.

We also have a Wildtree party going on! I'm not big on direct sales type stuff...if I'm being honest I kind of hate it. Wildtree is the only one I really love, and that's probably because it's food! haha It's delicious though and even for someone cheap frugal like me, I find the prices reasonable given that the products are organic, and don't have all kinds of GMO's and other nastiness...and it's still cheaper than eating out which is a trap I tend to fall into if cooking isn't super easy. :) 

Here is how the Wildtree party works. To shop, you go here:

You do your shopping, and when you go to check out it will ask you if you want to checkout through a hostess, and will give you an option to look up your hostess (that would be me!) so you type in my name: Priscilla Morse and I should pop up and you hit the little check mark and Cliff gets credit!

So, that's about it! Thanks again so much for helping us bring this guy home!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Genuine faith shelters the orphan

I have literally written this blog post 4 times...then deleted it 4 times because it just felt fake. I was asked by a friend to write about adoption. What it means to me and my family. How it has changed us in ways both good and bad. What it takes to be an adoptive parent. How did I know I was cut out for this life. The list goes on but you get the idea. 

So...I started writing. First I wrote a very matter of fact post but that isn't me...I like to keep it real. Then I wrote something extremely raw that probably crossed into the TMI zone...and that can be viewed as dramatic and I exist in a drama free zone. I just couldn't get it right, because I wasn't being authentic. The subject of adoption does not have to be super's an awesome roller coaster! Yeah there are low points, but those high points? Pretty fantastic stuff! So, here we go...what adoption means to a crazy lady. ;)


 First I need to say that all of these opinions are my own and what works for me might not work for anyone else. For me personally, the only way I survive in my chaotic world is by not taking life too seriously. Guys...ya gotta LAUGH! Find humor in the things that make you want to pull your hair out. When it comes to special needs adoption there will be days...days and days and days where you will look in the mirror and not recognize the person looking back at you. Your hair will be gray, your wrinkles deep, you will have bags under your eyes and you will smell bad. can be the most prim and proper chica today, but get those kids home and you will be a hot mess sometimes. Reality hits hard and've been warned. Find the humor in it. I am 31 with wrinkles and I sport them proudly. Like the stretch marks on your tummy from carrying your babies, those wrinkles and gray hairs are your battle wound scars! Own them! 

Kind of along the same line as laughing at yourself,  you can't take life too seriously. There will be hiccups and things will be crazy and you're just going to have to go with it. I used to be totally OCD, a place for everything, everything in it's place...pinterest boards full of organizing tips and tricks. Currently...I have a pile of laundry that has pretty much taken over my hallway and my bathroom is gross because I'm hard core trying to potty train my six year old. Yup, you heard that adopted kid is six and still in pullups. We're working hard, she'll get there eventually. I will not allow myself to stress or compare her to other kids her age. She has different abilities, it is what it is...we'll get there.

While I might approach adoption in a light hearted way, I won't attempt to sugar coat it. I feel like this post might be speaking to a few specific people and I would never want them to say yes to bringing an orphaned child into their home because they had only heard about how awesome adoption is. Don't get me wrong, it's totally awesome. I love adoption, I love my adopted children, the entire basis of my faith is basically an adoption story...adoption is amazing. But it's not easy. Early on I made the mistake of portraying my daughters adoption as a fairytale. I thought that would help people see past her special needs, her institutionalization, and just see her as a regular kid who just happened to be rocking an extra chromosome who was orphaned in Russia. While she did kind of embrace the whole family thing, it was still really hard. Oh, and she hated me. Like legit hated me with a passion, would sink her teeth into me and rip out chunks of flesh zombie style. We nicknamed her "zombie baby"...I have barely any photos with her from when she was first home because she was constantly biting me, scratching me, or pulling my hair out. Let me just say it's really hard to bond with a child when they're trying to kill you, but it's not impossible. My daughter was hurt over, and over, and over again. She was abused, neglected, and violated. Her abusers were women. It would have been crazy for me to expect her to understand that I was her mother. She didn't know what a mother was, she didn't know I wouldn't hurt her, she had no reason at all to trust me. All I could do was show her that no matter what she did, I would still hold her, and hug her, and rock her, and whisper to her...because she couldn't hurt me enough to make me want to hurt her back. It took a long, long time...but she finally got it. Mom's stay forever. No matter what. For us that was kind of the turning point where things started to settle down and I started to believe that there was light at the end of the tunnel.


In general, special needs parenting is hard, but you're treated much differently when you adopt kids with special needs...after all you CHOSE to ruin your life, remember? For me, special needs parenting means I can never vent, I can never get frustrated, I can never cry, I can never say that things are really hard sometimes...because the response I will always get is: well you chose this. It's really hard to exist in a world where you are only allowed to have happy emotions. In an effort to protect my heart, and the few friendships that survived adoption, I learned to put emotions in a box. I became very guarded and gave up the whole acquaintance thing. I'm not interested in "knowing" 1000 people. I'm interested in having a small circle of amazing friends who I can be honest with when things are good, as well as bad. It's vital to have a support system. If you aren't an adoptive parent, I urge you to find a friend who is, and be their rock. They will return the favor, trust me. Good friends are hard to find when you're going against the grain with your life, so when we crazy adoptive mamas find someone who truly loves our kids for who they are and wants to be there through the good and bad, there is nothing we won't do for those friends in return. Seriously, I can count on one hand the people I consider friends, the ones I want to make time for and hang out with...those people could call me for help at 2am and I would be in my car at 2:01. Friends like that are like family, treat them as such. 

Wow this is sounding like a real downer...why would anyone want to adopt?! 

I truly think adoption is a calling. Sure anyone can say "hey I have an extra bedroom, lets adopt an orphan!" and that would be great, right? One less orphan in the world...but it's so much more than that. Your entire view of the world has to change. Your goals for your life have to change, the way you live day to day has to change. Adopting a child with special needs means you're going to be invested 100% in the care of a child for the rest of your life. When they aren't cute and little anymore, when they're possibly bigger than you, when they're raging, and when they're crying because someone made fun of them. The. Rest. Of. Your. Life. You really have to know what you're getting in to, and when you feel that calling, and you've weighed all the options, and hear God calling you ransom one of His children and make them your own. The world becomes brighter. You see everything through new eyes. Your heart expands, your patience grows ten fold, you find beauty in the most mundane things. I remember the day my daughter, 4 years old, picked up a cheerio, put it in her mouth, and chewed it. I remember the day of the week, I remember the outfit she was wearing, I remember every detail about that moment because I had never in my life been happier, prouder, just....joyful. I was crying real tears and thanking God that my kid who really should have been in preschool learning shapes and colors...picked up a cheerio, and put it in her mouth. Your world just changes, and it's incredible. 

I think there are a lot of people out there who would make amazing mothers for these broken kids...who understand seeing beauty in the ashes...who could fight through the struggle of raising and teaching a child that wasn't born to them, and celebrate all those tiny milestones with them and have one little breakthrough, the size of a cheerio, melt their hearts and undo months of struggle. I know these waiting children have mothers out there somewhere...I know they were born to one woman while God was preparing the heart of another woman to make that child their own. I just don't know how to help people overcome the fear of all the bad stuff I mentioned in this post. Yes, there is struggle...there is so, so, so much struggle. And it's's not very comfortable when people stare at your child and whisper...but look at their faces. Should our comfort be more valuable than their lives? I don't think so. The absolute bottom line when it comes to adoption is this: you're going to struggle...struggle in your marriage, struggle in your finances, struggle in your parenting style, struggle in your're going to fight with insurance companies, with doctors, with your spouse, with all the people who have an opinion about who you adopted and where you adopted from and why you adopted. Life is not going to be rainbows and kittens. But...and this is a huge're going to be given the opportunity to walk into an orphanage, pick up a broken, sad, neglected child who is just hanging on by a thread...a child that no one has ever lovingly touched before you, who has never been rocked before you, who has never heard "i love you" before you...and you're going to get to save a life. You're going to bring them home and you're going to get their first genuine "wow I have a mommy" smile. They're going to eventually trust you so much that when they're hurting, they'll reach for you. You will become their person, their world, the love of their life...and they're blossom and thrive and sparkle. Nothing beats it, not a single thing in this world is more beautiful than buying back a life.

I truly feel like God was leading me to write this, like there is someone somewhere struggling with a huge decision about adoption. Whoever it is, just jump in. If you feel pulled to these children and their plight...go all in. If it's meant to happen it will, if it's not meant to happen it won't and you will know you were intended to be an advocate and prayer warrior...but really, just go for it! You have everything to gain... maybe not in this life, but it's Kingdom work and you will be so rewarded. If any of my friends, or anyone for that matter, has any questions about adoption and how to get started...please talk to me! I could talk for hours about adoption! I will be in your corner, I will be that friend that supports you through the ups and downs. The money comes together, everything comes together when you're answering the call. I hope whoever the Lord intended this post for reads it, and decides to say yes. <3