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Where does my strength come from?

Whew…a tired day after a long weekend—I ask myself the question, “Where does my strength come from?” Does it come from my children–and my pride in them? Does it come from my personal accomplishments? Does it come from my friends and family? Or does it come from my God?

I am learning quickly–if you want to see where it comes from and who you really rely on…fill out adoption papers. I am completely and without a doubt sure that this is what the Lord is calling our family to do. And we are certain that it is the Lord who is calling us rather than our own will. After all, is having more children going to really make our lives “easier”? I think not. But more joyful? Without a doubt!

In June, our hearts were stirred–in July we prayed and felt certain–and in August we began interviewing agencies and began our persuit. We chose a continent/program where there is so much death and darkness…but also one that we have grown to love through our ministry and where we also see so much joy and hope. In our ministry’s start, we had days and weeks where we struggled financially, struggled with how and if it would work, etc…yet God always provided–and today we have 450 orphans we educate, feed and love. Because we were committed to and running this ministry with 4 other families, when we felt a hit–we ALL felt it and we were able to spread out the “blow” a bit. Together we’ve been able to really help, pray and fight for the cause we feel the Lord has set before us. With this adoption, it is of course our immediate family’s pursuit, and although we have an incredible circle of friends and family supporting us–it’s becoming obvious to me that when the Lord wants something for you…there is also an enemy out there that doesn’t want you to succeed…and our immediate family has felt the road block with our health. (I know this may sound a little off the wall to some of you who aren’t believers—but if you believe that God is real—you probably also believe there is an enemy just as real who wants the exact opposite of God…so if he wants the exact opposite of God, I doubt he wants us to adopt or to raise awareness or potentially inspire others to adopt as well…that’s just my guess;).

Our hit this month has been with our children’s health more specifically. For the 5 years we have been parents—we have only made a very small handful of doctor’s visits other than well checkups. In fact, probably only 3 which includes ALL three children and is NOTHING in 5 years when you have 3 children!!! My kids had never thrown up, never had the flu, never given us any kind of scare—that is, until we filled out our application to adopt and followed the Lord on a journey of a lifetime…one that we are STILL completely excited and sure about. And for us–this is the first (and I doubt the last) “road block”.

Unless you have adopted or you’re in the process, this may sound completely CRAZY to you—but if are have and are…you will probably read this and say, “Oh, but OF COURSE that is what happened!” Or if you are a strong believer and you’ve persued something that may give God some crazy glory—you have maybe also experienced similar road blocks. For 5 straight years, we have been without illness other than…gosh, I can’t even remember—but just since the day we interviewed the first agency (within approximately 30 days)…THIS LIST has happened to our three beautiful, healthy children:

Our 5 year old: Got a stomach bug and threw up for the first time in his life (this might not sound HUGE…but the boy has never been sick! Coincidence he got sick the week after we started our adoption??? Maybe…but let’s continue…)
Our 3 year old: 4 trips to the emergency room (yes–I said 4!) She got muluscum awhile back (a skin virus that produces little bumps…it can runs its course no biggie or you can have them burned off…what we are doing now after what you are about to read). She scratched one of the bumps—got a staph infection. And then another. And another. And another. Yes, that many staph infections…all at once! One of the staph infections turned into MRSA–a very scarey form of staph which is an infectious disease that could have stopped us from adopting possibly–THEN at a specialist appointment the dermotogist asked Children’s Hospital to fax them the lab results so we could begin treatment and the tests showed NOTHING was wrong with her. Yes, I said nothing. Either the doctors didn’t know how to read the lab results, misdiagnosed her, never called us to tell us they were wrong and to stop all the medicine…OR Jesus came down and healed her so we could continue our adoption. She didn’t have MRSA or anything else for that matter. We had friends, family and everyone praying for her–and today she is healed…just a few weeks later…and no staph infections, MRSA…nothing! Yet, we spent the last month in the ER, pediatrician and doctor after doctor. Everyone treating MRSA until the power of prayer and a specialist asked to see the lab results again. Go figure. Think what you want to—all I know is the girl is healed.
Our 10 month old: Had to have surgery to remove 2 cysts in his mouth. While Laney “had MRSA” Frank got tonsilitis but the doctor wouldn’t give him antiobiotics b/c MRSA was in our household and he wanted to save the antiobiotics for a more serious time…so he endured tonsilitis. The following weekend he ran fevers of 104. More emergency room time. Doctor just shook his head and said he was fine by the time we were seen. This weekend? What started on Saturday looking like a few allergy or eczema bumps—today is a horrible rash over his entire body. No fever so I got online to see if I could find pictures to match–and it looked like a little bit of everything! So…another trip to the ER. And what did he say? I’m obviously good enough of diagnosing to be a doctor now b/c he agreed with me–he said it looked a little bit like chicken pox, measles, roseola, infitigo, a viral infection, and poison ivy. WELL, OF COURSE IT DOES and of course he has all those things at once! So, he gave us an antiobiotic, shook his head and told me to take him to the dermotologist tomorrow. “Do you have a good one?” he asked. “Well, of course we do–because we’ve had muluscum, staph infections and the uncurable MRSA this month…all which are gone now so you wouldn’t believe me if I told you…yes, I know there’s not a cure…so call me crazy—and yes, we have a great dermotologist.”

So, once again–we may spend our day at the doctor tomorrow. But I’m sure we’ll wake up and it will all be gone and there won’t be any need to. Maybe God is just preparing me for a crazy lifestyle with more children. Maybe God has called us to do something really great and the enemy doesn’t like our faithfulness (sorry if this sounds crazy!). I believe there are hundreds and thousands of children waiting and literally dying to be rescued…to have forever families to care for them and save them in Jesus’ name. Many of them with diseases and problems like we have experienced this month…on top of starvation. I can’t help but wonder from doctor to doctor, how are THEY getting treated??? Will THEY be okay? How are THEIR immune systems fighting these things off? And so…instead of feeling defeated. Instead of backing down. We are making the decision to stay strong and find our strength in the LORD. Not in ourselves–not in doctors–not in anything other than Him. And to continue to follow. And to fight for those who need someone to fight for them. HE will heal them. HE will protect them. And Lord willing—others will follow when they hear His call to boldly make the move to grow their family by adopting one of His who need us.

We’re coming sweet children! Others have heard the call of God, and they are coming too! We will not give up–and we will continue to find our strength in our Savior. We are coming in His name…so hold tight sweet babies!!! Lord, please protect our children in Africa. Keep them safe and…Lord please heal them of disease. Bring them food when their tummies can no longer go on empty…and speak to their hearts and let them know you are sending someone for them. Give them peace Lord. Heal my Frank Lord and I ask for your protection over all of the families following God in adoption. AMEN!

How thankful I am for the support I have in my friends and family–and how thankful I am for those adopting with and beside us…may we all stay strong and keep our eyes focused on what the Lord has called us to! He will give us strength!

1 Timothy 6:12
Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Ephesians 6:13-18 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.

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Jenn in GA - September 13, 2009 - 1:32 pm

you don't know me, and i'm not sure how i found your blog. i just know that God has been putting people in my path who are involved with adoption internationally, and you are the latest on the list.

i believe in warfare, and i'm ecstatic that you have recorded for all posterity the victories that God provided to thwart the enemy this week. think of all the others He has fought for you that you have been unaware of!

i'm following your journey from cumming, and am asking God to show us our next step. we are a family of three; i'm 43, my husband is 45, and we have a 15 year old son. we know that for us to even think about pursuing a next step, we need to have a steady income.

my husband just started his own business providing sound, video, and lighting for churches 2 weeks ago. we're open, but we know without an income, there is no discussion. so, that's where we are. thanks for sharing where you are, and for calling the enemy out! be sure to share what happens tomorrow…

Are These Kids All Yours? - September 13, 2009 - 2:19 pm

Oh wow…..totally know what you mean. We have felt those spiritual attacks hmmmm…..just before summer every year- just before we have 2 intense months when we have between 45-65 kids give their lives to Christ or recommit to Christ! Sometimes it feels powerful, but NEVER TOO POWERFUL FOR OUR GOD!!!! Yep, during every adoption process as well. This week the week we accepted our sweet Naomi- yep you guessed it our kids are rarely sick- all but 2 were sick- ALL week. This was also the week of my husband's kidney stone surgery as well. Yep! It's true that OUR GOD REIGNS AND IS ALL POWERFUL!!!! Now we just pray for healing. Thank you for praying alongside us as well. You will never know that peace that fills my soul when fellow believers join in. You are in our thoughts and prayers- keep it up for CHRIST and THE CHILDREN!!!!

Amy - September 13, 2009 - 7:06 pm

Sounds like your under attack. I totally agree with you on satan not liking adoption and trying to keep it from happening. We don't have children (yet) and satan has been attacking our marriage. Nothing really bad but we've just not been getting along as well and being married has for the first time for us been hard. Thankfully we have the best protector on our side and with a little bit more work with patience and going out on dates together things are better.

I hope your health scares end soon. That is very scary but you clearly have God on your side ๐Ÿ™‚

Anonymous - September 14, 2009 - 1:18 pm

Oh my, your words….thank you. My hubby and I are adopting 2 little boys from Ethiopia. The Lord has stirred our 44 year old hearts:) Our big boys are 18 and 20 so it definitely goes against the worldview of parenting.
Thank you for praying for us during this journey. We will be doing the same for you as well.

All's grace,
Susan Burkhalter

The Young Family - September 14, 2009 - 1:49 pm

Susan, Didn't see a link to email you at. Any chance you are also using AGCI???

Anonymous - September 15, 2009 - 7:04 pm

Andrea,

Susan here. We are adopting through Dove International out of Banks, OR. We don't have a blog yet but my friend is pretty adamant about us posting. If so, I will send you the link.

Thanks again for sharing your heart for the orphans. Your writing conveys what I am feeling in my heart. It is a blessing to read your words.

All's grace,
Susan Burkhalter
burkhalter@wwest.net

Home Study Freak:)

Yep. I’ve officially been labeled. By my husband:). Since we filled out our application to adopt from Ethiopia with AGCI, I have been a complete nut. I watch you tube videos on Ethiopian adoptions and cry my eyes out. I have gone from blog to blog to blog to blog—reading about other families in the process…gazing over their adoption timeline and they are all so different that I’ve realized…that there will be very few things that I have control over. AND–there will be A LOT of waiting. So–I have become, to myself and my husband, for the month of September–the Home Study Freak. I admit it. My name is Andrea and I am in a rat race to finish my home study as fast as possible.

Today’s gigs—fingerprints, background check, physicals for kids and 1st home study visit. (Can’t believe just 10 days from turning in our official application and we’ve already had our home study visit!) Here are a few pictures (taken from my iphone) of some of today’s fun..
Frank joined me at City Hall today. He got Oooed and Ahhhed over by the sweet ladies doing the fingerprints. He also wanted a background check…but in 10 months he just hasn’t managed to get in to enough trouble for that one. Isn’t he cute:) I can’t believe he’ll be ONE in 2 months. Harder to believe he’ll probably be well over 2 when we finally get to go get our child!

And not only does our home study require us to get physicals–but they need to know our children are healthy too. WHEW! Thankfully, the doc just signed some papers for Frank and Laney b/c they have had more recent visits. But poor Parker was due up for his 5 year check up…and shots. Not fun. But nothing that a little Dunkin Doughnuts couldn’t help afterwards:)
The kiddos waiting on the nurse to come back in…and before poor P’s shots!

I filled out the application with AGCI on September 1st. 10 days later. I have 95% of EVERY application, form, fingerprint, certificate and signature required for the completion of our homestudy. 10 days later we had our first HS visit–and we’ve already planned our next one. Next week:). All 3 of my kids had their physicals today (required by our HS agency) and our background checks will be back on Tuesday. Our first home study visit lasted less than 1 hour today as all the forms she brought for us to fill out—I had already downloaded online, printed off and filled out. Yes, all 50 of them;). I had already been to the courthouse, gotten fingerprinted, and you name it–it was filled out. I was afraid our adoption consultant was going to think I was nuts, but she thought it was great and loved how easy her job was today. I even had “sign here” tabs for her on the forms that required her signature:). We’ll have all our visits completed by the 25th which is the day our adoption physicals are on—then we’ll be done with our home study!

Next up—then of course after the home study…comes the dossier (another crazy list of documents and requirements). But no worries…I already got a sneak peak on that list and certified birth certificates from vital records and new social security cards (no idea where our originals were) have already been ordered, reference letters have already been written and are patiently saved and waiting on friends and family computers, and picture of the outside and inside of our home have already been taken. I’ve heard the dossier is crazy, so thought it wouldn’t hurt to have a headstart once the home study is written and complete. I may have little or no control over the wait–and since these things are what must be completed to “start our wait” and get logged in…I’m ok with being a Home Study Freak (and soon to be Dossier Freak) until then;). It will ALL be worth it in the long run!

Whew…gotta run. 3 more pages to finish…then I’m lighting a fire under Richard’s tail to finish his 16 page personal profile. And no honey, you are not aloud to look at mine or copy:).

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Kim - September 12, 2009 - 5:49 am

Love the new label. :o)
And you now win the award for THE BEST EVER Christmas card. Just precious!

whitneypratt@ymail.com - September 12, 2009 - 11:44 am

he is 3 and a half months old- can't believe I left out! ๐Ÿ™‚ He will be 6 and 1/2 to 7 months old when we meet him.

Are These Kids All Yours? - September 12, 2009 - 1:54 pm

Hey, you are not crazy!!! I did the same thing last year….and now that we are in the process again- I have flown through everything possibl including all the paperwork- again! I think it is a nesting thing- like mothers know they are getting pregnant (paper pregnant) and they whiz through it…then they begin the physical nesting of preparing the room, clothes, etc. I totally adore your Christmas card from last year!!!! WOW- totally cute and completely wonderful!!!! Have fun chasing papers ๐Ÿ™‚ It's all for your precious one ๐Ÿ™‚

Amy Cherise - September 12, 2009 - 5:03 pm

you are adorable! love you!

Renee - September 13, 2009 - 8:55 am

Just remember when you hit bumps in the road that it is all for a reason. God has the perfect child in mind for you and some times we have to hit snags to be ready at the same time that our child is.

Adam and Christie - September 13, 2009 - 7:48 pm

I know what you mean by being a home study freak. I was the exact same way! We finished our home study and dossier in 8 weeks, which I believe is pretty fast! I just couldnt stop working on it until everything was done! now we are 4 1/2 months into our adoption and already #3 if not #2 on the boys list!!! Good luck with all of your paperwork! It is so exciting!!!!

I LOVE the Christmas card!!! adorable!!!!!

Tribute to Birth Mothers

[Thoughts from an adopted mother-to-be early this morning]

How loved you are by God–so loved that He sent two mothers to care for you.
In a broken world, things are not as they should be–yet He does not leave things as they are–God looked down and as your Heavenly Father He provided.

He created you. Even in your mother’s womb, your days were numbered and He had a plan–by Him, you are fearfully and wonderfully made. He created you with joy and love–and in the very beginning He entrusted you to her.

She made a decision to give you life dispite the circumstances. For this, she is brave, courageous and strong.
Each mother with a different story, yet the same…
Too young to raise a baby, she felt in her heart God had prepared a family who had been set apart just for you. She was unselish and brave. Bless her.
Too sick to work and knowing her time was short, she carried you miles to a place she had heard would care for you–her heart was broken but she loved you more than a broken heart. Bless her.
Too tired to walk further, she placed you carefully in the chapel and prayed desperately that someone would hear your cry. It was not easy, but she could go no further–and faithfully He answered her prayer. They said you were abandoned, but God was always there–you were never alone. He was faithful and sent someone quickly. How loved you are!
Closing her eyes in weakness she whispered to your father what to do if he also got too weak to continue work and care, and then she prayed God would give him strength and bravery to follow through with her wishes if times became too hard. She gave her fear of the unknown to the Lord and trusted. In a broken world, she was brave. Bless her.

Her loss is my gain. Life is broken, yet beautiful.
It is written: Carry one another’s burdens and in this way you furfill the law of my Son. Even in my joy, I grieve.
Life isn’t always how we dream or plan, and for her–this was true.
Yet God was faithful and heard her prayer. Even in pain, He blessed her.
My loss will forever be her gain. I will never replace her. She is your birth mother. She carried you in her womb. She rejoiced in your kicks while you were still in her belly. She gave you life. She nursed you and you brought her joy. She made the decision to be selfless and protect you when the day turned to night. She is your birth mother, and she is brave. I will always wonder what it was like to hold you as newborn; what it was like to have you sleep on my chest; but this was her joy–and it is as it should be. You were her joy. You are are also mine. All part of a beautiful story.

Life is broken, yet He makes it beautiful–and every birthday I will be the mother who will hold you; I will rejoice in the day of your birth and in God’s faithful protection; In the days of the unknown, He fed you; He NEVER left you! He loved you so much that He brought you safely to this world and in it’s brokenness, He whispered to our hearts we had another child waiting for us. The whisper of the Lord is strong–and although quiet it could never be misunderstood by one of His. You are our child. You ARE our child. You ARE OUR child. I will rejoice; And I will love you forever! How I love you! How I long for you!

I am humbled to know I am the one she prayed for. Help me Lord to be as brave as she was and to mother unselfishly and with courage. Bless her.
With the strength of Jechebed–Moses mother–she grieved in the world’s brokenness yet she took the most incredible leap of faith and prayed someone would rescue you. She intrusted part of herself to me through You. I do not know her, but together we embrace you and one another. Our hands are lifted high.
And like Pharoah’s daughter, I have seen the miracle in the river and I have fallen in love.
My heart leaps for joy!
You are mine! You are mine! You are mine!
My heart longs to be your mother. To see you do the rest of your firsts. To watch you play and live. You are my child! You ARE my child! You ARE MY child!!!

How the Lord must love you to make us long for you so!
All because of a faithful loving God.
And on the other side of the world, one mother’s longing.
And because of another mother’s bravery.

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Are These Kids All Yours? - September 10, 2009 - 9:58 am

I am crying…..I love your post…..and the fact that we are so privileged and so often don't even notice it!

Beautiful Mess - September 10, 2009 - 10:03 am

That was ABSOLUTELY beautiful!

God bless you and all the birth mothers.

emilyvogeltanz - September 10, 2009 - 10:22 am

Hello! I found your blog via Kristi J's rave review of your blog and adoption adventure on her blog. ๐Ÿ™‚
My husband and I are #10 on the wait list for a baby girl from Ethiopia with AGCI. We live in Athens, GA so I was beyond excited to see that you live in Roswell!! (we also used AAA Partners and had an easy + fast home study with them! they were great to work with.)
I'm really enjoying your blog. You are a great writer, keep it up!

Excited to meet you in "blog world" and hope our paths cross in real life sometime!

Joy-
Emily Vogeltanz
Our blog: vogeltanz family . com

3 Blessings - September 10, 2009 - 2:44 pm

Hello! I found you from Lucy Lane's blog. We are also a family of five and we are in the beginning stages of adopting from Ethiopia with AGCI. It is so wonderful to meet other families going through the same process. Such a blessing. I look forward to reading more from you in the future. God's blessings to you and your journey.
Amy

Julie - September 11, 2009 - 6:18 pm

Beautifully written….Just wanted to welcome you guys to the adoption journey!

Sarah - April 11, 2010 - 5:23 pm

Andrea- I finally found this post (the one you mentioned on the listserv… Thank you. This is so precious because it is what is in my heart. I don’t have the gift of words you have, but your gift has become mine- and now I have words.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassions and God of all comfort; Who comforts us in all our affliction that we may be able to comfort those who are in every affliction through the comforting with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Cor. 1:3-4

FRIDAY!

Just got placed with our home study coordinator and our first home study is THIS Friday!!! I’m so glad we chose a company who is so fast! We’ll have 3 more interviews after today’s phone consultation—the 2nd being this Friday. Off to work on my “to do” list I posted earlier today. (And of course edit a gazillon sessions that are in waiting!) Wow…after this week we should have a lot of fun pictures to share…physicals, fingerprinting and our home study!

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Anonymous - September 10, 2009 - 12:15 pm

Wow so awesome that you are adopting! You are using AGCI also! We adopted our son Samuel from China through them! They are so great!!!! I am now praying about Ethiopia with them! I have fallen in love with the two curly haired boys who are called the precious brothers! They are so neat! They are all so cute and need homes! I would take them all if I could! Well I keep waiting on God also! I have also watched the Lucy LAne video many times nad cried through it! It also has been used by God to put Ethiopia on my heart as well! So neat how God works!!!

God BLess, Heidi
schafbuch_3@msn.com

Whew! Our paperwork officially begins this week!

The application to AGCI (adoption agency)and AAA Partners (home study agency) are in. Just got off the phone with AAA and our paperwork menu is before us. I eat paperwork for breakfast—the wait for our child is going to be what gets me! OK…so our homestudy paperwork is just the appetizer. Here’s what we’ll be doing this week (on top of ballet, soccer, preschool, editing portraits and of course working with Frank’s new skills of clapping and waving ‘bye-bye’…video of that to follow;):

1. Date with Roswell City to get fingerprints (too bad they just want mine and Richard’s b/c Laney and Parker would love to do this one…I think I’ll take them with us and let them join in the fun too…wonder if our home study agency will think that’s as cute as we do!)

2. Mail fingerprints to FBI and contact FBI for background checks.

3. Bake cookies for the people I’m asking to write reference letters for us;). Just kidding…but maybe I’m not;). I will beg these lucky four to mail those in asap:). Come on people–I’m going for a record breaking home study time completion here;)

4. Fill out retention letter, child safety agreement, more agreements, more agreements and more agreements.

5. Make doctor appointments for a family date to the doctor…PHYSICALS for EVERYONE! Richard will be so excited;)! Frank even has to have one!

6. Fill out financial statements and ask Richard’s boss for a raise. Just kidding. This momma will be quitting her photography business when #4 arrives:)

7. Complete 10 page parent personal profile. Everything from how the hubby and I handle disagreements, what our wedding was like, what were our favorite things to do as children, and of course the answer to my question I answered last post ‘why ethiopia’…I’m guessing they want more than ‘why not?’

OK…so that’s it for this week:). Off to make doc appointments and start this weeks paperwork! I’ll try to take a few pictures of our physical and fingerprinting fun!!!

XOXO,

Andrea

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loveisspokenhere - September 8, 2009 - 11:35 am

fun stuff!! make sure you take pictures! it is fun to document everything…and it will be so cool to look back and how much the kids have changed throughout the process!!

Adam and Christie - September 10, 2009 - 7:21 am

what an exciting time with so much to do! ๐Ÿ™‚ we are also adoption through agci and are #4 on the boys list right now. i am excited to find your blog and follow along on your journey!