Monday, November 25, 2013

Where we're at...

First of all, Jimmy and I were blown away by the encouragement and support we received after my last post. The Holy Spirit prompted my to share this journey publicly, and I'm so glad that I listened because those of you who commented have given us so much insightful input, and some of you provided trains of thought that we'd never even considered. Thank you for your honesty, and for understanding how incredibly difficult this is. We are in a much more peaceful place now.

This was one of the messages that hit me the most, sent by someone who I've never met, but gave us so much to think about from a different perspective:  

"My heart is telling me that God sent you the MRI. It was His way of giving you a heads up that perhaps this little girl belongs with another family for whatever reason. Perhaps there is another child that is meant to be your son or daughter and that will never be if you harbor guilt for saying no and decide to proceed. There are many more ways I can try to express what I am saying, but I think the true test is are you strong enough to say "no" because you need to do what is best for your entire family? I think your child is out there waiting for you to find them and you should proceed in doing that without any guilt or worries what others may thing. That is the real and true unknown."

So, this is where we're at...

We are trying to use both our hearts and our heads in this decision. One of the "conditions" that Jimmy and I agreed to in this fourth adoption, is that we will try--to the best of our ability--to add another member to our family whose medical issues and needs are not so severe that they might take time and energy away from our other two children. We are aware that there are many unknowns in the adoption process in general, and that it is--by nature--a leap of faith, but we also realize that we must go into this with our eyes open. When you adopt a child with medical conditions, you complete a checklist of conditions that are acceptable within your family, and honestly--for whatever reason--neurological issues have never been on our radar.

I know, to some, that "criteria" may seem shallow--or perhaps heartless--but the truth is that we are somewhat old and we don't have much in the way of financial resources. And if you don't know us personally or aren't familiar with our family's adoption journeys, special needs and unknowns aren't new to us. Two of our sons came home with medical conditions, and one of those sons, who had congenital heart disease, now resides in Heaven. He was a gift from God, and we were blessed to have him in our lives for four months. Daniel will live forever in our hearts. Our profound loss, I'm sure, is subconsciously adding to the emotional conflict that's taking place within us.

Since we already love this child, this little beauty half a world away, and we do believe that the Lord has placed her in our hearts for a reason, we are not ready to close the door with this new diagnosis. Several of you suggested that we get the actual MRI for this child, rather than relying on the report of the MRI. Some have asked, "Are you sure that is her MRI?" Good question. We are not sure of anything. And if it is her MRI, was it read correctly?  And translated accurately?  

We have now officially requested the actual MRI of her brain, and we have also offered to pay for a new MRI, if that's an available option. Even if we decide that her diagnosis is more than we can handle, we are hopeful that this information will help the family who's destined to find her, if it's not us. 

All we can do now is wait. The brutal truth is that, if we are unable to get our hands on this piece of the puzzle, I fear that we will be unable to proceed with all the current unknowns. It breaks my heart to say that, but we have to remain faithful in God's plan, either way. 

On the back of my book, With an Open Heart, I have written this, "What happens when you have one plan, and God has another? Do you still believe?"

If this precious child is meant to be in another family that's better served to care for her, then we have to accept that, and yes...we will still believe and we will continue to trust in God's plan. But we will still love her.

Having said that, we are not ready to give up HOPE that she is our daughter.

Please keep praying for our baby and for discernment. Your prayers will be treasured.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Laying it down.

I'm sharing this publicly because I really feel like we need your faithful prayers. If you haven't read it already, I'll ask that you take a moment to read the post before this one, so that you are caught up.

Just a few days after my last post about our daughter, we received some news that would change everything. Well, almost everything...

Our baby girl's primary medical diagnosis, all along, has been a somewhat "treatable" bone disorder generally caused by a Vitamin D deficiency. She was also noted to have developmental delays that had no tangible explanation. We thought her inability to speak and her late walking were all side effects from rickets and life in the orphanage, and we were ready to deal with it. 

Last week, we received an update containing the most beautiful photo of her, and the wonderful news that our match had been pre-approved. Reason to celebrate.

But along with the photo, we also received an alarming MRI report that had surfaced out of nowhere. It was from an MRI of her brain that had been taken when she was one-year old, and it indicated that she has a very serious brain abnormality--one that is not likely treatable. I felt the walls crashing down around me.

As you might imagine, Jimmy and I were devastated. My tears flowed for two days. We felt so helpless about all of this. This match felt so right, and it felt so good. I mean, I just wrote my last blog post about how much we love this child, and do you recall this mighty quote given by a friend?

"I think that it is perfectly normal to have fear, even when the child is meant to be yours. But courage is not the absence of fear, it is action in the face of it. Anything that might come up that you weren't expecting, well, you will rise up to meet that challenge and it will feel like a privilege to do it because you love her."

And do you recall my response?

"And each day, as we've looked at our baby's precious face, we've realized that we do love her, and we simply can't afford to be afraid of the unknown. Or we might just miss the blessing of a lifetime."

So...what has changed? We still love her, and we still might miss the blessing of a lifetime if we say no to this precious child who has already found a place in our hearts.

Do you have any idea how difficult this is? If I were carrying this child in my belly, would I deny her a chance at life? NO...I wouldn't. So, now, because we've received this new information about her, we're contemplating whether to accept her or not?  My heart aches right now...

Jimmy's reminded me that we can still love her, even if she's meant to be in another family. But I still feel like she's meant to be in ours. As I type this, tears stream down my cheeks. This is a painful process.

We've already had two trusted medical professionals indicate that her condition is "not good." And the more I learn about this diagnosis, and all that the unknowns "could" mean for her future, it sometimes makes me want to curl up into a little ball, and I feel certain that we are in no way equipped to handle her needs. But then each day brings a new feeling of hope. This week, I am trying to get this MRI report to some pediatric neurologists for review, and we will remain hopeful for something...some shred of evidence that this isn't as serious as it seems.

Will she be our daughter? I don't think we're prepared to answer that yet. I hate that we are fearful. I hate that I have written a book about listening to the Holy Spirit and leaping in faith, and now we are the ones who are afraid to dive in with both feet. I feel like our faith is being tested, and we're not passing the test right now.

I hope that you won't pass judgment against us, whichever path we choose to take. We are human. It has been a difficult week, and this is not a comfortable place to be. We have two children who we need to consider in all of this, too.

Please pray for our baby girl. Please pray for our discernment.

I know the sun will still shine, but I will grieve the loss of this child in our family should we choose not to adopt her. I am laying this burden at the foot of the cross, and I have to remain faithful that God will show us the way.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Our Baby Girl

Many have inquired, "Do you know who she is yet?"

The answer is yes. We know who she is. Our love for her is growing already.

I can't say too much, because we haven't received confirmation from our agency (and China) that she's officially "ours," but inside our hearts, we do feel like she is meant to be ours.

I also sense that there's another book in the making here, but for right now, I'm just going to record the short version...

This time around, I have felt a strong calling to the "waiting children," those with moderate to severe special needs who have been designated as "special focus" in order to match them with families expeditiously.  This has been a much different experience than the referral process with our other three children, whom we trusted our agencies to match us with. This time, I felt strongly urged to seek her find our daughter, and then file the necessary paperwork to make it happen. So, over the summer, I began looking at files and searching to find our baby girl.

I remember the night I first saw her face. Her eyes called out to me instantly, and I immediately contacted the agency that held her file. It was not an agency that we'd worked with before, but that didn't bother me in the least. Since I've been part of the Waiting Child Advocacy Group on Facebook, I've learned a lot about the various reputable agencies and how they operate, the dedicated people who represent them, as well as the angels who advocate for the waiting children designated to these agencies. At that time, I also reached out to the remarkable woman who was advocating for this child who'd captured my heart. She has become a good friend and a true source of encouragement.

For two months, the kind-hearted and efficient agency contact worked with me. She tried and tried to get updates from the orphanage where our little one resides to no avail. Her file hadn't been updated since she was a baby, and we continued to receive only sparse details. Jimmy and I didn't feel comfortable moving forward without more information, yet I knew in my heart that I didn't want to lose her.

During that time, we moved ahead with our home study. I knew we had a couple of months in which our home study process would take place, so that gave us some time to try and get the information we needed.  But then, time flew by, and finally, our home study report was ready. The only thing missing was the name of an agency. Jimmy and I sat down one night and had a heart to heart about this child, and our agency. That's when my husband sincerely divulged that he would really feel more comfortable using thte same agency that brought us our two sons.  There was one big problem though. Our daughter's file was not with them.

Suffice it to say, a string of miraculous events took place, and the agency who held her file graciously released her to our agency for us. This compassionate woman, who could have scripted this story differently, truly acted on behalf of the child, and chose to help us. We are so grateful for her decision. But there's just so much that happened in between. So much that I'll have to save for another post...or a second book perhaps...

Jimmy and I have, honestly, both encountered temporary waves of fear, mostly about her health concerns, that kept us from initially saying yes to this child. And it bothered me. I mean, didn't I write a book about listening to God's promptings and leaping in faith? But then every time I've had a weak moment, the Holy Spirit has brought me something...some sign of HOPE, some confirmation that we should trust God and fear not. In a few cases, even a friend or family member has delivered a message of faith and hope. One of those inspirational messages came from a truly amazing mom named Andrea, who currently sits by her precious daughter's side, as she fights for her life in a hospital bed on life support. Andrea took a few moments to share a piece of her strength and grace with these words of wisdom...

"I think that it is perfectly normal to have fear, even when the child is meant to be yours. But courage is not the absence of fear, it is action in the face of it. Anything that might come up that you weren't expecting, well, you will rise up to meet that challenge and it will feel like a privilege to do it because you love her."

She is so right. And each day, as we've looked at our baby's precious face, we've realized that we do love her, and we simply can't afford to be afraid of the unknown. Or we might just miss the blessing of a lifetime.

So, in our obedience to God's calling, we submitted our Letter of Intent several days ago to bring her into our family, and we are now waiting for confirmation. It could take could take months.

So, are you dying to see who she is?  I know...and we're dying to tell you all about her.  But we can't share just yet.

Time will tell, and God willing, she'll be our daughter.  Please pray for our baby girl.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Adding to the Murphy Mix

The start of National Adoption Month seems quite apropos to share this post. This one's been on my heart for a while...

The waiting children.

There are so many of them out there in this estimated 150,000,000 orphans longing for a family to call their own, and some desperately needing the love and support of a family without even knowing it. It burdens my heart. Child advocacy is an act of God, and I am constantly amazed at how I see His hands and heart working through countless, loving people who make it part of their life's work to advocate for the least of these. Once again, I have seen miracles come from Facebook and Yahoo groups. 

As I found myself, this year, verbally advocating for "the least of these" to friends, I realized that it is our family who needs to answer the call once again. The Holy Spirit has been totally working on me this year to bring home one more. I suppose I began strongly feeling this call from above at the tail end of 2012, when I wrote this post.

And the intense feeling just kept growing and swelling within me.

I prayed for months for the Holy Spirit to open Jimmy's heart, too, since I know that this will be a burden on his shoulders, financially, given the advent of his new real estate career this year. But I knew that eventually he would warm up to the idea. After all, my husband has a heart of gold.

That brings me to our BIG, joyous National Adoption Month announcement...we're going back to China! We started building our dossier over the summer and our home study report is almost complete. We have officially applied with Holt International Children's Services, the same agency who brought us our two precious sons.

The fact is...we may not "have it all," but we have enough to give to another child, especially when you consider their current living conditions in an institution. And we have enough love in our hearts. That is what really matters, isn't it?  I guess some would argue that it's not, but we believe we'll reap so much more joy and happiness by having another family member to love.

We are wise enough to know that we won't be able to do this alone, so, I've decided to start a "Trading Stuff for Love" fundraising campaign to help bring this child home. And we are going to sell some of our "prized possessions" knowing that the end result will be so completely beautiful and worth it.

I'll likely be posting these items through our With an Open Heart facebook page.  If you simply "Like" the page at your convenience, you will be able to view the TSFL posts and you can bid on the items (kinda like a silent auction) by sending us a message with a bid/donation amount. The highest bidder gets the item. Pretty simple, right?  Lord, I hope it works...

We humbly ask for your prayers on this journey. And for discernment about that child--our daughter--who waits for us. She will have special needs, and we pray that God equips us to meet them.

We realize that not everyone is called to the adoption ministry, but we have been. It is our sincere desire to say "yes" to God, and through our obedience, we hope and pray that He will be glorified, and that another child will come to know Jesus through the love of a family.