Monday, January 21, 2013

Where He Leads, We Will Follow - Part 2

This is a Two-Part post. If you haven't already read Where He Leads, We Will Follow - Part 1, you'll want to do that here.

We spent days talking and emailing with Renee, Viktors' host mom, emailing with New Horizons for Children, along with Adoption Related Services (an agency that places children from Latvia) and talk of Viktors has become a staple conversation in our house.

Michael and I have spent days talking about Viktors, his Christmas host family, the possibility of hosting this summer, and what role we might have in his life. We've spent  a lot of time praying for clarity as wisdom from our Heavenly Father and letting Him lead us where He wills.

The more and more we learned about Viktors, the more and more we fell in love with him and we feel an undeniable bond to him. In a way that only God can, He intertwined our hearts with a host family in North Carolina. For such a time as this, God collided the worlds of 2 families - both who love Viktors deeply!


There is so much confirmation, so much peace, so much clarity, and so much excitement! After talking with Renee, Viktors host mom, we've learned so much about Viktors - and we are confident that he will be the perfect fit into our family. We're already anxious about July!!!!

We've already contacted an adoption agency that places children from Latvia to inquire about Viktors' adoptability. There are some complicated factors in play here that will need to be muddled through to figure out if he can/will/wants to be in America permanently. There are some things that will need to be figured out, but we know a few things:

1. God loves Viktors more than we ever could.
2. God does not want children to grow up without the love of a family - He sets the lonely in families!
3. God used a precious family in North Carolina to be tangible, lavish, crazy love to Viktors this Christmas.
4. God used that same family to be Viktors' voice when he didn't have one.
5. God brought us to this place for such a time as this.
6. God is in control. He's got this. All the details, He knows every one of them.
7. God has opened the door for us to host Viktors this summer and we count ourselves blessed!

So, basically we are hosting Viktors for 5 weeks this summer with intentions to adopt him! Yes, he will have to go back to Latvia at the end of the 5 weeks, but hopefully it won't be for long! :) We're just going to relinquish our control to God and just trust Him to work all those details out and for Him to direct our paths!

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.  - Proverbs 3:5-6


Edgars Has A Family!!!

Our dear friends, Jewel and Claude McRoberts have said YES to adopting Edgars! We are over the moon excited for their precious family!

Re-blogged from my sweet friend Jewel's blog, McRoberts Clan:

This all began on a Thursday night (January 10) when I asked for begged my friend Paula for her momma's award winning cornbread recipe.  And of course if you know my friend Paula she loves to advocate for children who need a family.  She sweetly supplied the recipe and stealthily added a link to a blog post containing Edgars' story.  Edgars' story had gone viral!  And just like all of the thousands of people who read Edgars' story, I cried and instantly fell in love with him!  More than 80 families, including ours made adoption inquiries.  And over the past week I spent countless hours amongst a flurry of phone calls, text messages, and emails with Morgan (Edgars' host mom),  adoption agencies, homestudy agencies, family and friends, interrupted only for our fervent prayers to God for guidance and wisdom, and the occassional trip to the potty with my potty-training 2 year old, Isaac, AKA Undie Buddy. 

We've waded through doubts and fears and uncertainties about financing another international adoption, and have decided that God's got this!  He has called us to be Edgars' family, so we are certain He will provide through the help of others. 

Edgars came to the US on a Christmas orphan hosting program for a month.  He was loved, adored and cherished by his host family and they wanted to adopt him.  But Latvia requires that both adoptive parents be more than 18 years older than the child.  Morgan, the mom, is 7 months shy of meeting that requirement.  So after grieving their lost opportunity Morgan starting advocating for Edgars, trying to find him a family.  This was her plea, that I read that Thursday night that has changed our lives:

Edgars – LAST CHANCE – Age 15 (turns 16 in August)
From Latvia

Written by his precious host family:
Edgars came to us with a smile on his face. From the moment we met him at the gate, he radiated openness and incredible warmth – he was obviously a little nervous, but from the beginning he trusted us with his whole heart. One of the first things he ever said was, “Thank you for choosing me.” Edgars immediately began to display a strong desire for physical connectedness with our whole family – he hugged our 4-year-old daughter for airport photos, he stood next to me with his head on my shoulder reading his translated welcome letter. He sat in the backseat during our ride home from the airport, trying everything he could think of to comfort our screaming 10-month-old son – from feeding him puffs to handing over his prized possession (his mp3 player) for him to chew on. We knew Edgars was a special boy the moment we saw him in the photolisting, but we weren’t prepared to witness the incredible kindness, maturity, and optimism that he has kept alive inside of himself with the help of our amazing God.
Edgars has bonded well with all members of our family, though it has been clear throughout that he desires a mother above all else in life. During the first two weeks, Edgars resisted developing a deep relationship with my husband but he is now seeing the value in having a healthy relationship with a father. Edgars is incredibly gentle and patient with small children, and he would do beautifully with siblings of any age or gender, or as an only child. He takes the role of big brother very seriously and enjoys helping out – he is always happy to hold a hand in the grocery store, buckle car seats, or comfort his “small” sister or brother when they get a bump.  
His ability to learn and retain information – language in particular – is astounding. He spoke English with us from day one without hesitancy, though his vocabulary was limited. By day 10, Edgars knew he could translate more efficiently than Google Translate and he hasn’t asked to use it since. We speak English with him at full speed and use the same phrasing we would with native speakers, and I would estimate that he understands and responds without needing clarification to about 85% of what we say. His expressive language has developed at a similar rate, and we are shocked by the nuances and humor he injects into conversation. Edgars is an incredibly intelligent boy who will thrive academically once he is challenged and held accountable.
Edgars is very respectful and helpful, especially to women. He will not sit down at our dinner table until I am seated first. He insists on scraping the snow off the car and starting it up – then he will come back to the house to walk me out. He carries the diaper bag (I KNOW!). He notices when I haven’t eaten because I’ve been taking care of the little kids, and he will make me lunch. Every day Edgars does something to take my breath away.
A few things to note:
He has a blossoming relationship with Jesus Christ. Edgars is being mentored by a wonderful priest who ministers to the boys in his orphanage. Along with his headphones, his favorite Christmas gift was his English language Action Bible, which he stayed up reading on Christmas night until 6 am.
Edgars has some attention deficit / hyperactivity issues and takes medication. However, since being in a home environment and after about a week of gentle correction, Edgars has slowed way down. Things are no longer being accidentally dropped and broken. His need to fidget is almost non-existent, whereas it was constant in the beginning. We still see some of the attention span issues, but in no way would I consider his current behavior to be hyperactive. It is amazing what family life can do!
Edgars’ favorite time of day by far is bedtime. Since the first night, he has welcomed me into his room so that we could talk about the day, do our daily affirmation, and say a prayer together. As the weeks progressed, he has found a lot of comfort in being held and rocked – just for a minute or so – each night before being tucked in. It is during these quiet moments that I can see the little boy who still lives inside this teenager, who desperately wants to be loved and told he is good inside.
Edgars has been in the system since age 2 and has no relatives or siblings. Truly there is no reason that he should be the loving, well-adjusted boy that he is, except by the grace of God. I pray constantly that my sweet boy is given the opportunity to become a permanent member of a loving, supportive, gentle Christian family – because he deserves nothing less. Edgars will bring an abundance of joy to the forever family that awaits him. Writing this absolutely breaks my heart because this child has been one of the greatest gifts of my life. I want everyone reading this to know that Edgars has done nothing at all to deter us from adopting him – we are ineligible (we have an minimum age issue). I choose to believe that my role in Edgars’ life is to be his cheerleader, his advocate, and someday, after he is tightly bonded to his new family, I hope that I can be his friend. I feel so blessed that God chose me to be his interim mom…there is nothing I wouldn’t do for this angel in our home, who is asleep upstairs as I write this. From one mother to another – please give our Edgars what we cannot provide him. Please help Edgars find his way home!

WOW!!  Right!?!  I felt nothing but love for this boy and now we need your help to bring him home!

Edgars needs your help TODAY!  We have taken a huge leap of faith to adopt him.  We had no plans of doing another international adoption, so we have NO MONEY, not one red cent saved to fund this $36,000+ adoption!!  

We need YOU to bring Edgars home and be a part of his story!  And we need several thousand dollars RIGHT NOW to start the homestudy and pay our agency fees!

Here are two ways you can donate now:
1)  You can donate directly to our Paypal account, by clicking on the DONATE button on the top right of our blog, or
2) You can make a tax deductible donation that will go directly to our agency through our Ordinary Hero account,
We would like to ask you to please pray for Edgars and share Edgars' story, so others can be a part of his story too!  From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for helping us bring our son home!

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly more than we can ask or imagine, according to the power that works in us, to Him be the glory. Ephesians 3:20-21

If you want to be a part of the McRoberts' journey to bring Edgars home, please visit their blog here: McRoberts Clan Blog . Keep Edgars covered in prayer and consider donating to bring him home - you can be part of his amazing story! 
Congratulations, McRoberts family! We love you! 

~The Sloan Family 

Where He Leads, We Will Follow - Part 1

During this season of The Lord leading our family to something different than we expected - WAY DIFFERENT than we ever expected, we have learned so much about the wonderful organization: New Horizons for Children - an international hosting program for orphaned children from Ukraine, Latvia, and China.

I first learned of New Horizons when my adoptive mommy friend Andrea over at Babe of my Heart  hosted a Ukrainian girl this past summer. It was so fun to watch her host "Princess T" for a summer and how they loved her with such a great BIG LOVE. In the end, they did not adopt "Princess T", but some dear friends of theirs did! Little did I know that God was planting a seed then for what He would have for us in the future.

On January 10th, Andrea posted about a darling 15 year old boy, Edgars, who was hosted in New York over Christmas break and needed a forever family. You can read her post here: Edgars Needs a Family - the moment I read her post, the Lord brought to mind my sweet friends, Jewel and Claude McRoberts. Their family is dear to us and we have walked through life with them over the past 3 years. I can't describe the prompting I felt to share Edgars' story with them - I knew they were currently preparing their hearts for a child from the Foster Care System, I knew they were open to the possibility of an older girl, but I felt like I was supposed to share Edgars with them, but I wasn't sure what God was up to.

Meanwhile, Andrea had mentioned that she had information on other children that were hosted by New Horizons over Christmas break that were not being adopted by their host families and needed forever families. She and I were chatting online the next morning (Friday, January 11th) and she said she'd email me the bios and pictures of the children with NHFC that she was going to advocate for. Adoptive mamas can testify that some children just speak to your heart and captivate you in a way that is different than the rest. I am a mama who advocates for children who need forever families and I look at a lot (read: A LOT, A LOT, A LOT) of photo-listings of waiting children all over the world. I read their stories; I see their faces; and I know their names. But every once in a while, a child pulls at your mommy-heartstrings, and captures your heart, mind, and thoughts. This little boy did that for me:

This is Viktors. He is from Latvia and was hosted over Christmas with a wonderful family in North Carolina. I contacted his host mom to ask how I could help her advocate for him. I told her that I felt like his story spoke to me and I wanted to talk to her about Viktors. We chatted on the phone the next day; just that morning, she and her darling family had taken Viktors to the airport to go back to Latvia. Her heart was broken and she missed him terribly. I cried on the phone with her and I could hear the pain in her voice as she knew her family was not going to adopt him. Oh, this sweet mama would have brought him home if she could. She loved him so well for four weeks. Their whole family loved him, loved him deeply and with no regrets - and he loved them too! I got off the phone and just wept for this boy, and for this family. God intertwined our hearts for the same boy and I was just sure after getting off the phone, that the Lord had put me in the middle of this story for one reason: to help this family take the steps of adoption and to walk the path of adoption with them. I just knew after days of him being gone, that they would change their minds and decide to adopt him. That's what made sense. That seemed perfectly logical - they LOVED him - surely they'd adopt him! But God was writing a different story; He had a plan that is not what we ever would have expected.

I sat one night and read their blog, Barefoot Walks, and just wept for them and for this boy, Viktors, who has captured my heart. It was that night that I asked the Lord WHY had He allowed me to feel so deeply for a little boy in Latvia; WHY did He not want them to adopt him? I had to be reminded that His ways are NOT my ways, and His thoughts are NOT my thoughts. "Lord, I don't know what You're doing, but I trust you. I relinquish my control to You." Those were the words I wrote in my journal that night. I prayed that God would move on Viktors' behalf - a precious 11 year old boy who was back in Latvia at his orphanage. This boy who had love the lavish, unconditional love of a family for four weeks and was back in the orphanage again.

That night, my heart physically hurt for this boy and that seed that God had planted back this summer when Andrea hosted "Princess T" began to grow. I didn't know what it was, but I knew God was up to something and I didn't want to miss it. It feels so good to follow when He leads and to know He's got this all under control.

Stay tuned for more....


A Closed Door

Let's face it, we humans do not like to hear the word "no" when we want something. As a mama of a three-year-old, I can physically see the disappointment on her face when I tell her "NO" to something she wants. I see her slump her shoulders down, hang her head and begin to pout (and when she'd really turning it on, she can even turn on the tears). I have to say, I feel that way too when I'm told no, but as an adult I've learned to respond a little better than that - on the outside at least (while I might still be pouting on the inside just like my toddler daughter).

Just yesterday, we were at my Nana's house with my parents (talk about a house full of spoiling aunts, grandparents, and great-grandparents). If you know anything about my awesome family is that we love to eat when we are together. I think we were there for about 6 hours and Zoe ate for about 4 1/2 of those hours. It's no news to us that our girl loves to EAT - she's certainly known what it was like to have an empty belly and we know she struggles with food (this is quite common for children who are adopted - particularly from orphanages). She had eaten so much that I told her she couldn't have any more food - I really was afraid she was going to make herself sick. She immediately slumped her shoulders down, hung her little head and began to pout.

I brought that sweet girl over to me, held her hands, and looked into her eyes. I lovingly told her sometimes the answer is "yes", sometimes the answer is "no", and sometimes the answer is "not right now". Regardless of my answer, she needs to accept that because I am her mommy and I love her and she needs to obey me with a happy heart. I have to say, the Lord spoke to me in that moment. The Lord reminded me that I don't always accept His "no" with a happy and obedient heart.

The Lord has taken us on a journey over the past few weeks that we've had to accept His "no". It's not easy. It's not what we wanted. It's not the plan we had. I've pouted; I've cried; I've begged the Lord for a different outcome. However, He wants us to follow where He leads with a happy heart. He's made his "no" clear and made a promise that He has something else in store for our family. I've clung to this verse when I felt like I wasn't sure what God was doing:
"I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." - Jeremiah 29:11

I have to say, I thought we were going to adopt from Haiti. Haiti has a special place in my heart, and He used precious children from there to open my eyes to the needs in Haiti - for the poor, for the orphans, for the country as a whole. Haiti has a little piece of my heart and I was just SURE that we would bring our kiddos home from Haiti. But The Lord said "no"; He's closed the door and He's asking us to trust Him. He's reminded us that His ways are not our ways.
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." - Isaiah 55:8-9

I've shared this before and just fell in love with this song at the Created for Care retreat last March. As I walk in this season, I am reminded of the Truth in this song. I can trust that He has all this worked out. 

Now, if I can just remember to obey with a happy heart because He does LOVE us!


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

School Photos 2012-2013

A sweet mom in our homeschool group took some great photos for our homeschool community. So fun to have "School Photos" for homeschoolers. Because I'm the director, she took mine too. She did such a great job and I'm so happy to have them!

Paula (aka: Mom)

Robert, age 9

Andrew, age 7

Zoe, age 3 

Robert, Zoe, and Andrew Sloan