Monday, February 4, 2013

Called to Cebu...

For the vision is yet for an appointed time,
but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it;
because it will surely come, it will not tarry.
Habakkuk 2:3

Our family has entered the final step of our adoption...the call from ICAB of the Philippines to 'Journey to Cebu' to get our is a bit of what God has done over these rather long two years of paperwork and waiting.

It all began on a sunny Wednesday afternoon in  early 2011....

I (Katherine) was sitting at my computer working on the material for our up-coming speaking engagement at an adoption conference. The familiar 'ding' sounded, indicating emails had arrived, so I clicked to see what they were. One was from our dear friend Michelle McGowan of In His Hands Orphans. She wrote:

March 9, 2011

Hi Katherine,
When we were at the Parenting Foundation last week, guess whose huge family picture I saw hanging up in the window?!!! I was so surprised to see you all! How cool!!! Mymy told me how happy she was that you had adopted the 3 children and what a special family you are. I told her she is certainly right about that! I am going to ask if she can be one of the chaperons this summer.

Do you know anyone who may be interested in adopting the beautiful sibling group on the attachment? The little ones are twins.

We have know Michelle for years. It was quite common to received emails like this from her, to help find parents, which we always forwarded on by different venues to see if 'others' would be interested in pursuing an adoption. I had every intention of doing the same this time, but I wanted the names and ages of the children first. So I emailed Michelle back asking for that information. While I waited for her response, the four children's picture filled my computer screen. I glanced at it a few times while I keep working; then I was compelled to stop and study the photo. That was when it happened. The Lord spoke to my heart through those soulful eyes of the oldest boy, as if he said, "Will you adopt us?" The impression from this child's eyes, with the thought of adopting them, caught me off guard. Though we had been 'praying' about adopting again, I never expected the Lord to answer by email.

After a while, the children's information arrived. The oldest was 13, the girl 9, and the twins, were 4 years old, and their names all began with 'J' (which had a special meaning to our family. For at that time, everyone who had joined our family by marriage or birth had a first name beginning with 'J'). 

We all looked at the pictures and read some of their background causing quite a chatter among the entire family. Then after family worship that evening, I seriously posed the question to my husband about pursuing their adoption. He said right away, "It won't hurt to ask." The next morning I sent an email:

March 10, 2011 8:57 A.M.

Uh, Michelle....will the Philippines let us have the children?
We had a family meeting last evening; it was agreed we would ask, knowing it will take a miracle. Funny thing is we have less children in our home today then we did when we adopted from the Philippines last time. :-)

We all just slid into the decision to request adoption of the 4 J's, as we fondly started to call them. It was as if we just knew and had to go forward. Come to find out, God had already prepared the the email which came in response to our query was...well, totally unexpected!

March 10, 2011 9:26 A.M.

Oh my goodness!!!! Somehow I thought these are your children!!! I am so overwhelmed by your heart.

I met these beautiful children in April last year and they were all so sweet. They are in a wonderful, loving facility run by Paul and Marlene, an American couple that were called by God 16 years ago to move to the Philippines to care for orphans. At that time, I really wanted to find them a home, but their paperwork was not ready.

While Diana and I were in the ICAB office with Imelda, Jacky, Irene and Jenny, Irene gave me the paperwork on these children and Diana and I said that those were the kids we met last year. Diana asked that they be put on hold for Madison. While riding in the car after leaving this office, Diana asked, "Do you think we will be able to find them a family?" and I said that I think I might know who their family is - the Sanfords.

Is God at work here or what?!!!!!

Yes, God is at work. Once Madison Adoption Agency (MAA) knew we were still under 50 years old (at the time :-), they were willing to help us pursue the adoption. Our next concern was financial. But the Lord met us there too and reminded us that we are to seek 'help' from him and not ourselves. He would care for our needs...we were to 'look unto the hills from whence cometh our help, our help cometh from the Lord.' 

In March, a formal request was made by MAA to the Philippines (ICAB) for consideration of our family to adopt the 4 J's. Soon two hurdles were presented to us. The first was in April. ICAB requested we write a synopsis of our family and how we believed we could handle four more children. The second was MAA had to 'go to bat' for us with the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) on two fronts: 1- the size of our family (only 6 children allowed in the home) and 2- the limit for international adoptions was 3 children.  The processes was on hold until we got approval from both countries to move forward. 

Thankfully, MAA met with the director of DCFS; speaking about us and our desire to adopt a sibling group of 4 children. The Director remembered us from our past adoptions and was impressed to learn we had raised two foster-adopted children to their 18th birthday; not to mention, several other adopted children to their 18th birthday. She said the only hurdle for us would be to receive an expanded foster care license (allowing 10 children in the home). The first hurdle was crossed.

What followed became almost 2 years to the day of paperwork, paying as we could afford, jumping more hurdles, and addressing road blocks. Adoption is a 'hurry up and wait' process and this is the longest one we have ever been through; but it was worth it! 

In November of 2012, we formally accepted the children.

On January 14,  2013, they went for their medicals and visa interviews. 

And on January 26th, we received the invitation to travel to Cebu to get our 4 J's!

We have already met them via Skype: first time was Christmas Day, the second on New Year's Eve, then each Friday following until last evening when we told them we will be in Cebu next Thursday. The children are so very excited, as are we. These times of Skype, have truly helped relieve the anxiety and bond all of our hearts as family. The only thing missing from these on-line visits are the hugs. But on Thursday, February 7th, they will be getting lots of hugs and kisses!!

Join us here again as we post updates regarding our Journey to Cebu...

A father of the God in his holy habitation. God setteth the solitary (and siblings) in families.
Psalm 68:5-6