Thursday, December 17, 2009

Filled with Anticipation

If you happen to run in to me you will probably find me smiling. I am filled to the brim with anticipation. Nesting has been kicked into high gear and the realization that we should be just a few weeks away from Mercy's homecoming makes me down right giddy.

I laid in bed last night wide awake until after 1 a.m. running through the scenarios in my mind...playing the "guess the date of Mercy's homecoming" game in my head...thinking of all the things I want to do before she comes home. You know, like paint the walls in the stairwell to the downstairs playroom. Yeah, important stuff that she will really care about (insert sarcasm here). I'm just crazy happy or maybe just crazy. Who knows! Who cares!

Winter clothes for our sweetie are definitely in order. I've done some clearance shopping the last few weeks so she won't freeze. I also bought a heated blanket for the girls bunk bed, which I am planning to order tomorrow. I can't wait to get it all set up and ready to go. Their room is small so the bookcase headboard will be essential for extra storage. I dream of the night I get to tuck her in for the first time, pray with her, and check on her 20 times.

I got the official paper copy of our approval in the mail yesterday and it said our papers were forwarded to the National Visa Center on the 11th. Our adoption agency said we should e-mail the embassy to request a visa appointment on the 28th provided we have that passport.

I keep praying and believing that we are just a few weeks away from Mercy coming home. Excitement abounds. We are praising God for all he has done and continues to do!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

So Close I Can Taste It

I received the following e-mail today regarding our I-600 approval:
Case approved! The notice is in the mail to you and on its way to the National Visa Center. It can take about 5 days for the approval notice to get to the NVC and then 24-48 hours for it to be uploaded into the system. They will then schedule an interview in Accra. Please let me know if you do not hear from the NVC in this time frame.

"Approved" is just about the nicest word I could hear. We are soooooooooooo close.

I was told we have the death letter for Mercy's father (although I haven't seen a copy), but she still doesn't have her passport. They actually ran out of passport books to print them on, which seems so "Haiti" to me.

Airline tickets are crazy high right now because of the holidays. I hate the thought of getting the OK and then not having the money to buy the tickets, but as a friend reminded me, God has already gone ahead of me and made the way for it to happen. I don't know how, but He does, and that is what I am counting on.

Keep praying! Lord willing, I believe it won't be long now!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Chance to Serve

On Wednesday our life group served a meal at the St. Vincent de Paul Outreach and Food Pantry. We made the decision that both Delaney and Keaton were old enough to help and brought them along too.

On the way there we talked about what kind of people we might encounter and that no matter what their outward appearance might be that they should be treated with love and respect. Smile, be friendly and most of all serve them as if you were waiting on a very special guest.

From my perspective, we live in a community where the disadvantaged are mostly invisible. A small town in the midwest with lovely parks, nice places to eat, and good schools. You generally don't see people who resemble the homeless and I don't think I've ever seen anyone hanging out in the streets begging. You can generally go about your business and not be made to feel "uncomfortable" by the less fortunate. I think that might be a bad thing.

You see there are people who society deems the have nots or disadvantaged living in every community. To pretend they don't exist in the places we live is wrong. When I looked at the room filled with hungry people who had waited outside in the freezing weather, I did not see statistics. I saw worn and weathered faces of sisters, brothers, grandparents, sons, daughters, fathers and mothers. Each of them children of God. Each with a story uniquely theirs.

The reality is that any one of us is one job loss, one medical diagnosis, one bad decision or one tragedy away from being THAT person.

I don't know that a bowl of soup and a friendly smile made a difference to anyone going through our line, but I do know that I was blessed by serving. My children were blessed by serving. We will do it again and I hope you will think about doing it to.

There will always be poor people in the land.
Therefore I command you to be openhanded
toward your brothers and toward the
poor and needy in your land.
Deuteronomy 15:11

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Wait...It Isn't Getting Any Easier

Yep, still waiting. Only it's starting to feel different. A little more painful. A little more longing in my heart for this girl (if that's possible).

In ways it is similar to the month or so before you deliver a newborn baby. You start to get a little more uncomfortable. You don't sleep as well. You dream about what it will be like to walk through the door for the first time with your child.

Earlier in the week we received our I-797C (notice of action) for our I-600. Basically it's a letter they send to pacify you and let you know they received your application and it is in process. I've also been in touch with our senators office to see if they can assist us with an expedited approval because of her living situation.

I also found out that the new process for filing the I-600 through the central location in Texas has an interesting twist. After you send them to Texas (instead of your local office), they forward them back to your local office. Hmmm...

So where are we at?

Praying for I-600 approval.
Praying for Mercy's passport (they ran out of booklets to print them on).
Praying for her father's death letter we will need for her visa.
Praying for continued provision.
Praying for Mercy's heart.
Praying that we will have peace as we wait on God's perfect timing.

He has made everything beautiful in its time.
He has also set eternity in the hearts of men;
yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
Ecclesiastes 3:11

Sunday, November 29, 2009

What's In a Name?

We've had a lot of discussion around the house recently about what Mercy's middle name will be. Before I had traveled to Ghana we discussed the idea of having her birthmother's name as her middle name as a way to honor her. However, when I discussed this idea with Mercy she reacted negatively. I think for now it might just be too painful for her.

We'd like to have a name that meant something special. Honestly, I know it's hard to pair anything with Salzwedel and have roll off the tongue. I'm hoping you can help me out with some good suggestions!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

God IS in the Miracle Business

Yesterday I decided to check ticket prices for flights to Ghana and was most unpleasantly surprised to find out tickets were now $1,000 more than just a couple of weeks ago. And I did it again - put God in a box. Like God doesn't own the cattle on a thousand hills. Like He couldn't provide however much extra we would need. Like whether we need $1,500 or $3,500...He knows.

As we were leaving the house around 6:00 I remembered I hadn't gotten the mail today. You know, never really look forward to it. Usually just bills and junk mail, but today there was something different. A hand addressed envelope with no return address. And inside that envelope was another envelope with "Mercy" written on it. And inside that envelope was


Just like that...boom...$1,300. Just yesterday the mountain seemed huge and today not so much. That, my friends, is God. And when I doubt or have fear I need to remember this moment and all of the other moments where God has shown His loving faithfulness. He will complete this good work He began.

Thank you Lord and thank you anonymous. We are blown away by God's goodness and your generosity.

"God owns the cattle on a thousand hills,
the wealth in every mine;
He owns the rivers and the rocks and rills,
the sun and stars that shine.
Wonderful riches, more than tongue can tell -
He is my Father so their mine as well;
God owns the cattle on a thousand hills -
I know that He will care for me."

Monday, November 23, 2009

Fingerprinting: A Day to Remember

Today was a GREAT day! We traveled to Milwaukee to be re-fingerprinted. Honestly, I wasn't looking forward to the long drive and of course I was disappointed that we even had to go through this again. When I realized this would have to be done it was really just another reminder that Mercy wasn't home. I am really eating my words now because it was a very memorable day.

We left on time (a miracle for us!) and had a leisurely drive to Milwaukee. We stopped for breakfast and it was nice to be able to just talk without being interrupted. We reached our destination at USCIS about 15 minutes early and even got a parking spot close by. After digging around for some change for the meter I got out and promptly stepped in a large pile of doggie poo. Seriously. Even this could not deter our joyful mood. Actually we got quite a few chuckles out of it. Sick eh?

We got right in and were blessed with a friendly employee who chatted us up and shared a few laughs. She asked about who we were adopting and was excited that we were bringing an "older" child into our family. She was fun and we were in and out in 30 minutes flat.

We took the opportunity to explore Milwaukee a bit and drove down by Lake Michigan to walk around the Milwaukee Art Museum. Unfortunately the museum was closed, but there was still plenty to explore for free outside. I was particularly enjoying the beautiful architecture in the area. It was fun and leisurely which was a welcome distraction to the wait.

We made a pitstop in Oshkosh on the way back home and had a late lunch at Red Robin with our great niece. It was a long day and we are tired, but who knew a date for fingerprinting could be so much fun! We were blessed with an amazing day.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Praying for Mercy

Today our I-600 paperwork arrived in Texas! It feels SO GOOD to have this out of my hands. I was so excited to have mailed this yesterday so when I came home from my morning ladies group and saw I had new pictures in my inbox I was doubly thrilled.

Until I opened them.

I noticed with the previous set of pics (and other people commented as well), that Mercy just seemed off. She wasn't her usual perky, smiley self. Needless to say I have been very concerned for her well-being and shed quite a few tears over these.

We are praying for all obstacles to Mercy's homecoming be removed. We are praying that any approvals we need will be obtained quickly and without fail. We are praying for a hedge of protection to be placed around Mercy. Also, we are praying that the finances needed for travel will not be an issue and that anything we need for when that time comes will be there. We are trusting God for his love and protection over Mercy's life. Our hope is in Him.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Kindness of "Strangers"

I've recently become "bloggy friends" with a wonderful family from the midwest who is currently living in Italy and adopting from Haiti. Her husband happens to travel to Ghana quite frequently with his work.

I was blessed when she wrote recently to ask if there was anything I had wished I would have brought back from Ghana but didn't. I was amazed by her generous offer and wrote her back to let her know I had bought a Ghanaian clothing item for everyone but myself. She quickly offered that her husband needed a reason to shop in Ghana and that he would be on the lookout for something special.

The box arrived the other day and I opened it to find an exquisitely embroided ensemble and a figurine that symbolized "life is precious". The outfit also came with a headwrap that I have not quite mastered (yet). I plan to wear it on the day Mercy is dedicated at church.

I feel blessed that God chose to connect me with this family via the United States, Italy, Haiti & Ghana. The world is certainly feeling like a smaller place all the time.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pictures Are Better Than Gold

A friend's husband got these pictures of Mercy while he was in Ghana recently. New pictures always bring about a flurry of emotions. I wonder what she is thinking. I wonder if she wonders if I'm really ever coming back. Oh how I love this sweet, spunky girl!

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.
Psalm 130:5

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Life of Excess

I sat in our basement yesterday and cried. I've been cleaning, organizing and purging down there in preparation for adding another member to our family and was just suddenly overwhelmed at how much "stuff" we have. Mind you, I've already sold or given away huge amounts of "stuff", but I still felt deeply ashamed of all that we have.

"Stuff" packed up in boxes. "Stuff" we don't care about. Boxes and boxes of clothes the children have outgrown.

Why. oh. why. did. we. buy. all. this. STUFF!?

We do not live an extravagant lifestyle by American standards. I generally clearance shop and don't spend any money on perks like a professional dye job or manicure. We don't live in a huge house or have a new car. Our shopping and spending habits changed drastically a few years back when Jeff lost his job, but we still have work to do. Learning the difference between what we NEED and what we WANT has been good for us all - including the kids.

When I looked around at all of our "stuff" I realized how foolish and wasteful it was. I wept for the dollars I spent on things that don't matter to us. Things that get shoved to the back of a closet. I think of all of the good that could have been done with that money. A few dollars here and there would have added up to a lot that could be given to people making a difference or to people lacking the basic essentials to live.

The truth is that I have a deep desire to simplify. I want to be a better steward. My possessions have slowly lost their meaning and I am thankful.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

November 23rd the day we have our FINGERPRINTING appointment! Of course I wish it were next week, but I am thrilled that we have an appointment at all. Knowing we are in the home stretch is quickly becoming the hardest part of the wait. It's like having a piece of cheesecake sitting in front of you, but being told you can't eat it. HARD!
Lilypie Countdown to Adoption tickers

I was blessed with new pictures today. One of them shows her talking on the phone with me. I love, love, love this girl!

The Good, The Bad, and the Wee Bit Sad

Yesterday was a rollercoaster of emotions kind of day. I was thrilled to wake up and find an e-mail containing the last bit of stuff we needed to file our I-600. It is a huge relief to have everything to be able to do this. It was sweet to see our last name behind Mercy's on an official piece of paper. Unfortunately I can't do anything with this paperwork because of our expired fingerprints.

Normally I would be semi-content to wait, but the reality of Mercy's living situation has me feeling in a hurry. I haven't said much on here, but the orphanage where Mercy was living was closed at the beginning of summer. She has pretty much been bounced around from place to place since then. She is currently being cared for by a lady I was told is her grandmother, however, the social welfare report I received says it is her aunt. Familial terms seem to be used very loosely in Ghana so it's hard to know how exactly this person is related to her. I did have someone check on her last week and was told that the "grandmother" was out traveling and she left Mercy in the care of her older male cousins (again, a guess). You can imagine that this has been very concerning. If she were in an orphanage setting I would at least feel confident that she is being supervised and fed. The reality is that I don't know either of those things are happening right now.

It was also the sad realization that one year ago yesterday Anchise was placed back with her mom. I have spent a lot of time reflecting on Anchise and my journey to Haiti. The truth is that I wouldn't change any of it. I am so thankful for the people that I've met by being a part of the Haiti crowd. I am thankful that I got to love Anchise (and still do). The reality is that I think my children are best cared for by me. If Anchise's mom is able to care for her, then that is where she belongs. Maybe my role in her life was to reunite her with a mom that loves her. I may never fully understand it this side of heaven, but I am at peace with it.

If you feel inclined to pray, we covet your prayers for Mercy, our fingerprinting appointment and the final steps to bring her home. Please pray for our remaining finances needed ~ we need about $1,500 yet to buy Mercy's plane ticket and my in-country expenses for pick up. Also, please take a moment to pray for sweet Anchise. I pray God's blessings are showered on her and her mother.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Jumpin' the Hoops

One of the things non-adoptive families have been curious about is why in the world your fingerprints expire. All I can say is that it makes no sense to me personally. At some point you just get used to jumping through all the ridiculous hoops. You almost expect them. Like if something actually made sense it would almost make no sense to someone who's been in the adoption process for some time.

Our fingerprints expired last Thursday and I haven't received a new appointment yet. I was excited when I went to the mailbox today and found an envelope from USCIS. The letter said this:
We have received your request to be re-fingerprinted. You will receive an appointment letter within 6 weeks. If you should have any questions please contact your adoption agency.

Seriously? They sent me a letter to let me know they would send me another letter with an appointment. Why not just schedule a time and send one letter thus freeing up more time of one our valuable government adoption workers? Nothing really surprises me at this point, but after talking with Mercy this morning I am happy to jump through whatever hoops necessary. It is worth it. She wants and needs a family. We want her to be a part of our family. I will keep jumping with God's strength.

But I will sing of your strength,
in the morning I will sing of your love;
for you are my fortress,
my refuge in times of trouble.
Oh my strength, I sing praise to you;
you, oh God, are my fortress, my loving God.
Psalm 59:16-17

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Duck Duck Goose

Mr. B and I went to the park today to feed the ducks and the migrating Canadian geese. It was a great distraction from the ongoing waiting. We haven't had a very nice fall so it was good to enjoy a day outside with warmer temps and a bit of sunshine. The geese were a bit aggressive this year and would literally walk right up to us to grab some bread. Brezlan got a big kick out of it as you can see by his expression. I can't wait for the day when Mercy can join us in these fun, everyday activities.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Care Package Take 4

I think this is the fourth care package we have sent to Mercy. Knowing she has new things sent by us makes us feel just a wee bit closer to her. Her favorites are the pictures and chewing gum. That girl LOVES chewing gum. And of course she wouldn't be a good Ghanaian if she didn't carry some of her items on her head. Love that! Love her!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Remembering Patience

I met MANY amazing people during my time in Ghana. One of them happened to be a wonderful young lady from Germany named Steffi. She e-mailed me some pictures she took the other day and many memories came flooding back.

Some of my time there was spent with a precious little one named Patience. This sweet girl had a deep sadness that I will never forget. When I saw the picture of me looking down at her I was taken right back to that moment and all of the feelings that went along with it.

I am thankful that my heart has been broken for "the least of these". It's good to be changed.

Monday, October 19, 2009

14,984... the number of Delta miles I need to get a free ticket to Ghana. Today I received a wonderful gift of Delta SkyMiles! Combined with the miles I had from my first trip I am only 14,984 short to get a reward.

The best part of this gift, however, was the message that came with it. You see, this person was gifted with a ticket to visit her son last year. She, in turn, felt the Lord's prompting to return the favor to me.

It made me think a lot about how life would be if we purposefully sought out ways to bless others with both our time & treasures. I feel personally challenged to do better in this area. I think it would make this crazy world a much nicer place.

A generous man will prosper;
he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.
Proverbs 11:25

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Happy Birthday sweet Mercy! Today you are six years old. I pray that someone is making you feel special on your big day. We thank God for your life and pray His blessings will be poured out on you.

I talked with Mercy on Monday afternoon by telephone. She seemed very sad which I have not experienced in previous conversations. She asked many times when I was coming for her. The person with the phone said she is expressing a lot of concern about wanting to come home. I have been told her adoption decree will be ready for pick up today and I pray it is true. This precious one (and all who are waiting) needs the love and security only a family can bring. Lord, let it be!

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Gift of Encouragement

Adoption is HARD on many levels. It is hard financially. It is hard emotionally. It's hard spiritually as you struggle day to day between trusting in God's timing and my own selfish "I want it now" attitude.

I believe that people need encouraging words to press on ~ especially since most faith journeys have their share of struggles. There have been many times recently when I have felt weak and it is the encouragement and prayers of friends and loved ones that have kept me going.

When we came home from church yesterday we found the gift of encouragement tucked in our doorway. The note said:

Salzwedel Family ~

We love that you're living out God's command to care for the orphans and making Mercy a part of your family. What a blessing for her to have an earthly mom and dad as well as the opportunity to be brought up in the Lord - her heavenly father!

We pray this gift would be helpful to your family as you bring Mercy home! We're praying for you all and look forward to the day we'll meet her.

Stay strong in the Lord as you wait on His timing! Blessings.

Inside the card was a very generous gift to our adoption fund. Praise God for this encouragement. Praise God for these anonymous givers who did more than just help financially, but ministered to our spirit to keep pressing on in faith. We are feeling grateful, humbled and encouraged.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on
toward love and good deeds.
Hebrews 10:24

Friday, October 9, 2009

2 Outta 4 Ain't Bad...

...but it isn't that good either! Remaining needed paperwork:

Birth certificate...check! In hand.

Relinquishment...check! In hand.

Dad's death certificate...check. In hand. Oops...there's an error with the name. Uncheck.

Adoption Decree...nope. We were told it would be ready today, but no dice.

It's been five full weeks since we passed court in Ghana so we are really at a loss as to why we don't have the decree. The weeks drag by waiting for this silly paperwork that is separating us from our daughter. I wonder what Mercy is thinking and if she worries I'm never coming back for her. I pray her little heart is protected during this season of continued waiting.

I love the Lord because he hears my voice
and my prayer for mercy.
Because he bends down to listen,
I will pray as long as I have breath!
Psalm 116:1-2

Monday, October 5, 2009

Miracles Happen!

Give justice to the poor and the orphan;
uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute.
Rescue the poor and helpless;
deliver them from the grasp of evil people.
Psalm 82:3-4

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Denial Is Not Just a River in Egypt

I've been putting it off and putting it off, but I officially need to get my butt in gear and send in a request to be fingerprinted again. Sigh.

I'm already regretting informing USCIS of their error on our new I-171H, but I didn't want it to cause problems in the long run. So tomorrow I will begrudgingly draft a letter requesting a new appointment. I will mutter under my breath about my husband having to take an unpaid day from work, arranging for childcare x3 and possibly an overnight stay to drive 4 hours each way to have this done.

Most of all I will remember the words spoken to me a few months ago...
"If she is not home by the time your fingerprints expire, then I'm not doing my job".

C'est la vie...

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What's Your Name?

Just for fun and just because I need to remember our silly, beautiful girl and her laugh. Mercy thought her new last name was quite hilarious.

Miss. that. girl.

Wordless Wednesday - Pressure

Said acquired paperwork
still not in hand...

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Back-Up Plan Gone Awry

We've been doing a lot of things around here to save money. We've changed insurance companies to get a better rate. We switched to a bundle package to save on our phone/internet/cable. Best of all we have been in the process of refinancing our house to get a much lower interest rate and save money on our monthly payment.

Since we have some equity available in our home we were initially told we could probably get at least a couple of thousand in cash when we refinanced. Needless to say we were thrilled at that prospect and that it certainly would be an answer to prayer! We just found out our home didn't appraise high enough because of the market so we no longer qualify for that type of loan. We can still refinance, but there would be no cash out. Bummer.

I checked with Jeff's work this week about borrowing from his 401k. They do not offer a loan program through his employer and adoption was not a qualifying event for "hardship withdrawal". Drat!

Two. doors. closed.


I've sat down several times to fill out an adoption loan application, but it just doesn't feel right. I make up my mind that I'm sick of wondering where the money will come from, I pull out the paperwork, and I just can't do it. Something deep in my gut tells me it's not what I've been promised. Plus, the thought of filling out another 10 page form to prove myself worthy AGAIN doesn't sound appetizing (although I'd do it if I felt I was meant to).

So as we reach the final stages before Mercy comes home and I compare what we have vs. what we need, I get overwhelmed sometimes. I know many adoptive parents are in this same situation. I have been trying very hard to cast all of my cares and not carry this burden. I pray every day for clarity and wisdom about finances. There is no back up plan...God WILL provide.
“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
Matthew 6:31-33

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Breaking News

Our facilitator spent 5 hours at the birth and death register, but I am thrilled to report we have a birth certificate. We also have the death medical needed to get the letter. It is expected we will have the adoption order by mid next week and then we can file our I-600! Once we have this approval it is just waiting for the visa and then I can travel and bring her home.

The potential hold up is that Mercy's passport has not yet been applied for. I am told it will be applied for on Monday and that it can take 6-8 weeks or longer to be approved. I am praying that somehow her paperwork will get in the right hands and we will have quick approval.

Please pray for speedy approvals for all necessary paperwork. We are praying for God's continued provision for the pick up trip. What seems to be impossible for us has always been proven POSSIBLE with God. It seems we could be in the home stretch...thank you Lord!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Next Week

Today was the big day - the day I would get an update on the status of my needed paperwork. Here goes:

Adoption Decree: person who signs them has been out for two weeks. He did happen to come in today and managed to sign two decrees. The assistant took them to foreign affairs to be stamped, but can't remember which two names were signed for.
Verdict: It will be ready for sure by NEXT WEEK.

Birth Certificate: New and efficiently done computerized (?) birth certificate process vs. handwritten. I am in the middle of this new and improved process.
Verdict: It will be ready for sure by NEXT WEEK.

Death Certificate: Oops...did we need that?
Verdict: It will be ready for sure by NEXT WEEK.

It's been a downer of a week for me so I was really hoping for some positive news. I know I've had a bad attitude, but I need to choose to praise instead of feel down. I am reminded how weak my flesh is. I am ashamed when doubt creeps in and I am blinded to the fact that God is faithful. I am saddened that I so quickly forget the amazing ways God has provided for this journey. I hate that!

I am hoping and praying that NEXT WEEK I will be able to report that I actually have all of these things. Please join me in that prayer.
So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.
Hebrews 10:35-36

Monday, September 21, 2009

No Words to Speak

I don't know what to say that you haven't heard before:

Frustrated with not having paperwork that I should have had a long time ago...yep, you've heard that one already.

Worried about the cost of bringing her home and how to come up with that...yep, you've heard that one too.

Sad that this time last year I was preparing to go meet Anchise and now I'm feeling raw again with that date on the calendar approaching...been there, done that.

I have many thoughts and posts swirling in my brain that I don't know how to put into words where my heart will be clearly understood. I will just say I need prayer. I am at a loss.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

WHEN is She Coming Home?

That is a superb question my friends! I only wish I knew the answer. We were thinking it would be 4-6 weeks from when I left Ghana, but alot depends on a few sheets of paper.

We are needing some specific paperwork (one of which I THINK we will get for sure this week):
~ birth certificate
~ passport (can't get without the birth certificate)
~ adoption decree
~ father's death certificate

Once we get these papers we can file our I-600 locally. I've talked to the gentleman who handles our case in our local office and he told me to e-mail him when I was overnighting our paperwork so he could watch for it. Once we have I-600 approval we will just be waiting for her visa to be issued and she can come home.

I am going to be an optimist and say she will be home in the next couple of months. I am praying somehow it is before October 29th when our fingerprints expire. Nothing is definite in this process, but all in all I would say we have had a pretty good timeline. God is able, so we just keep on praying and believing!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Life is Grand When You're 4!

Could someone please stop time? I want to freeze Mr. B in this moment and not let him grow one bit more. My wild child turns 4 today.

Let's just say Brezlan is full is personality. He has an opinion on everything. He is a total momma's boy. He loves digging in the dirt and trucks of all kinds. He LOVES pancakes and would eat them for every meal if I would allow it. You never know what he will say. He has no fear. He makes me crazy and delights my heart in every way possible.

Happy Birthday baby boy! We love you so much.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Two Weeks

It's been two weeks since I...

saw her face

touched her hair

held her hand

rubbed delicious smelling cream on her

colored with her

heard her singing
bought her plantains

cut up her "kitchen" (chicken)

watched her dance

played countless hands of Uno with her

watched her working with playdough

held her tight while she mourned

walked the streets of Ghana with her

drank tea with her

heard her laugh
watched her pout

snuggled in close with her to go to sleep

heard her call me mommy...
I. miss. her.

Lord, please remove any obstacles to bringing her home.

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.
Matthew 7:7-11

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

How God Sent Me to Africa

I've really been struggling with what to say on the old blog. I'm still processing the events of the trip and all that I've felt about it since being home. In light of that I thought I would take a step back and share how God provided for this trip.

When I heard I had to go to Ghana I'll admit I freaked out a bit. As I've said before, we do not have credit cards to fall back on. I know that is something a lot of people have opinions about, but it's what is right for us. We made a lot of poor choices using credit cards when we were younger and quickly learned they were not healthy for our financial situation. God used some really hard financial times to teach us about good stewardship and I will praise Him for that trial until my dying day.

When I shared with all of you that I had to travel, a few people helped spread the word that we had an immediate need. In typical God-like fashion I was blown away in how IMMEDIATELY we were provided for. In one weeks time we received almost $1,000 in donations. Initially when I checked ticket prices they were around $2,200. After waiting a couple of additional days to book my flight and checking at a couple of travel agencies, I was able to get my last minute ticket to Ghana for $1,400. Amazing!

I called a friend to see if I could borrow some luggage from her for the trip. Not 45 minutes later someone who I hadn't discussed our luggage situation with showed up at our door with a brand new 3-piece set of luggage. Amazing!

God even provided right down to the shoes on my feet. When I went to Haiti the cheap sandals I wore were trashed by the end of the week. I knew if there was one thing I needed was a good pair of shoes to wear. I went to a local store and ended up finding a pair I loved that were even on sale. They didn't have my size in stock, but a store about 30 minutes away did. The sales person offered to have them hold them for me, but with all of the preparations going on I didn't have time to travel to pick them up. I ended up running into a friend on my way out and told her what I was doing and about the shoes. She offered to drive to pick them up for me and pay for them on top of it all. Amazing!

The day before I left we received a donation in the mail for $200. My flight to New York was delayed due first to computer problems and then the weather courtesy of Hurricane Bill. I ended up missing my flight to Ghana and had to spend the night in NYC. I was not blessed by the airlines with a voucher for the hotel and ended up spending $160 for a room close to the airport. If I hadn't had that $200 come in I would have been short on cash in Ghana. Amazing!

These are just some of the amazing ways God cared for us so lovingly on this trip. So when worry starts to creep in about how to afford ANOTHER trip back to pick Mercy up I try not to think about it. God CLEARLY has this covered. He deserves all the glory. I continue to be amazed by His faithfulness.

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Philippians 4:19-20

Thursday, September 3, 2009


We spent LOTS of time coloring at Rye Manor. I think she could have colored all day long. I sure miss that girl.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The First Time I Saw Her Face

After an interesting flight to New York and subsequent full day delay in getting to Ghana courtesy of Hurricane Bill I arrived in Accra.

It was strangely familiar to walk off the plane and onto the tarmack. The heat hit my body the moment I touched the ground. I walked toward the building knowing my life was about to change in a whole lot of ways. I made my way through immigration and customs and followed the winding ramp down praying I would see a sign with my name on it. I recognized my driver Edward immediately.

The drive from the airport also had a sense of familiarity. The heat, sights and smells were reminiscent of my time in Haiti. At a stop light our car was approached by a man in a wheelchair begging for money. A young boy tried to clean our windshield for a small fee. We continued down the streets seeing trash, people , barbed wire and many small buildings full of people selling their wares.

We checked in at Rye Manor and dropped off my bags before we proceeded to the children's home. I was greeted with hugs and smiles from the children. They all wanted to be held. Each of them a beautiful treasure - deserving so much more, but making the best of the hand they had been dealt. I adored them all, but quickly found a favorite to share a few moments with before heading to Mercy's grandmother house to pick her up.

We left the home and drove down the bumpy roads to Mercy's grandmother's house. Passing people and buildings, unaware of where we were going or how far we would have to drive. In the distance and on the left I saw a little girl twirling in her peach-colored dress. I couldn't see her face, but even at the distance my heart knew that I was catching my first glimpse of Mercy. We pulled over and got out of the run down vehicle. We crossed the street and I saw her standing by a line of homes. The little girl in the peach dress - Mercy in the flesh. I could hardly believe my eyes.

I was introduced to her grandmother and what I believe were her brothers. I restrained myself and asked if I could hug her. She said yes and we talked for a few moments. Her grandmother handed me her bag and we walked to the car hand in hand. We were immediately mother and daughter. No looking back. I could hardly believe it was real. The day I had dreamed about had come to pass.