This is the place where we are have documented the road we have walked in order to adopt our four children from Brazil and the road we are now on as a family. We are keenly aware that adopting is not just a process we've chosen to go through, but part of God's plan for us and for our children. May He be glorified through the process and through our family!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Weekend Away

We're away at Limiar's annual reunion this weekend. We have met so many kindrid spirits--parents, kids and teens. I feel like we should have brought a notepad and pen to record all the advice and wisdom we've been offered from kids and parents alike. I guess we will need to do our best to remember it all at the end of a day.

I've delayed writing this post because I can't think of an eloquent way to process all we learned and experienced. So, in an effort to document, I'm going to resort to a very unrefined bullet list; functional, but not pretty. Maybe we'll come back and process this more later.
  • We learned to be strong and prayed-up when our children test our love for them and our commitment to them.
  • We were reminded to be clear with our children that families are forever and we will not give up on them--ever.
  • We received recommendations to stay at Flats Virmond and another retreat center in Curitiba: Lar Rogate (which we found out isn't used any more and that Pousada Betânia is better anyway).
  • We learned that kids seem to learn English quickly and lose Portuguese just as fast. We will have to work hard to make the language an important part of our family life. Some families have. Most don't.
  • We discovered that there are several Limiar families in and around CT.
  • We got some practical advice about what to bring: a frying pan and toys that will not cause bickering or jealous sibling rivalry... Like crayons.
  • We learned that God can heal the hearts of kids adopted at older ages but that those hearts remain tender because of the losses they have experienced.
  • Luciana and Lino encouraged us that CEJA is working thoughtfully and diligently on our case and that the judge is kind and personable.
  • A new friend recommended that we check out Love and Logic, a system to help parents and teachers raise responsible kids.
  • That same friend talked with us about helping our oldest learn to be taken care of as part of a family by gradually removing "parenting" responsibilities and replacing them with age-appropriate responsibilities.
  • We also talked about having our oldest children record or dictate their pre-adoption memories before they begin to forget the details. One family even has "faith chests" where they keep precious objects and memories from the past.
  • A suggestion was made to have a neuro-psychological evaluation done in Portuguese with our oldest children very soon after returning home. This could act as a baseline and will give the most accurate results if we should later need to do any educational testing.
  • I think we will take the advice to write up our daily routine (for while in Brazil, and then again at home) with our children to help reassure them of the stability of their new family.
  • Lino asked us to send scrapbooks for the kids--one for each, and very nicely crafted.
  • During a "newbies and wannabies" talk at the reunion, we met with another family who suggested that we sleep a lot, bring lice shampoo, have Lino help us have a serious talk about respect and sticking together on the first day with our children, use Google Translator, and implement "Zone Defense" by working together as a team.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


1Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. 3And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary.'

4"For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or care about men, 5yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually wear me out with her coming!' "

6And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?8I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:1-8, NIV)

After a weekend of answering a number of questions from the judge in Brazil and gathering more than a dozen letters of reference from our family and friends in record time, this parable kept coming to mind. I kept thinking, "isn't there a place in the Bible where a woman is seeking justice from a judge who won't give her an answer? Except the woman won't give in and keeps approaching the judge over and over again for that justice. And in the end the judge grants her plea, not necessarily because he wants her to have justice, but because he's tired of her bothering him!"

After searching out the reference and re-reading the parable, I can see that the situation Jesus describes isn't exactly parallel to our situation, but the story does have a number of things that are worth noting and have been an encouragement to me as I thought about them this week.
  1. This parable is first and foremost about the importance of persistent prayer. Luke says that Jesus' parable was told in order to show people "that they should always pray and not give up." What an encouragement at this time when Kim and I might be tempted to be discouraged about how long is has taken for the judge in Brazil to rule on our petition! Jesus' words remind me that, however I may be feeling about the situation, God still wants me to pray about it, over and over if necessary. And unlike the judge who gets fed up with the persistence of the widow, God never tires of our approaching him with our petitions and prayers.
  2. Parables are always interesting to look at because they teach a spiritual truth while telling an interesting story. And this story just so happens to be about a woman and a judge, which seems to make sense given our current situation! Though the widow in the story is seeking justice against her adversary and Kim and I are seeking a family, both of us have petitioned the court for something, and both of us have to wait upon that court for an answer.
  3. Though I am not at all suggesting that, as in the parable, our judge in Brazil doesn't "fear God or care about men," or that she is "unjust," the widow's persistence spoke to me. It was interesting that justice was granted for a seemingly selfish reason on the part of the judge: so that the widow wouldn't "wear [him] out with her coming." As we were putting together the package of information for her this weekend, I kept hoping that the answers we provided and letters we gathered would overwhelm the judge so much that she would see how much we love these children already and how much support we have from our family and friends, and that she would grant our petition. I hoped that she would see that we were willing, like the widow in the parable, to continue to wait upon her and petition her until we received an answer.
  4. At the end of the parable, Jesus brings it back to God and prayer: "will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night?" This statement about God's answering our prayers is in contrast to the act of justice granted by the judge in the parable. God listens to our prayers and grants our petitions out of love and grace, not out of exasperation of us approaching Him! But even in the context of the parable, I like to think about the way God might be working in our own situation. In the parable, God uses an "unjust" judge "who doesn't fear God or care about men" to do His will, namely provide justice for the widow. I am encouraged that God can use the actions of our judge in Brazil to carry out His will, regardless of whether she is a Christian or not (even though I pray she is!), and even regardless of whether she is sympathetic to our case (even though I hope she is!). Our persistent prayer is that God's will be that we are united with these children and that His hand move through the judge to make it so.
  5. This parable, as is so often, ends with a zinger, cutting close to the heart, piercing like an arrow! "When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" Whoa! This reminds me how important it is to continue to have faith and be persistent in prayer. We can say how much we believe that God listens to our persistent prayers, but if we don't persistently pray, we're not really practicing what we're preaching! (God help me to be persistent in my prayers and petitions to You!)
When it was suggested a few weeks ago that we might consider other referrals because of how long this was taking and not having received an answer from the judge, Kim's and my response was immediate and united: "absolutely not!" Though adopting four children was not something we had ever considered until God showed Maynara, Abraao Lucas, Luana, and Brayan to us back in March, through much prayer and many discussions, we felt compelled, yea "led," to petition the court to be their parents. And that is how we have felt ever since March/April when we submitted our petition. These are our children, and we will be persistent in pursuing them, in waiting upon the Lord with our prayers and the courts with our patience. After all, our heavenly Father continues to pursue us, even before we know him, until we are brought into His family! He sets such a good example, how could we possibly give up now!?

I had lunch with a good friend today and he was asking me about this adoption process. He was trying to find out how we were doing "waiting" and how we were staying so positive. My answer is simple, "If these are my children, then isn't waiting for them is the least I can do!" When I'm tempted to feel like "waiting" is a burden, I remind myself that they have been waiting for a family longer than I have been "waiting" for them. When we are united as a family forever, all of this time will feel inconsequential, I am certain. Since God is infinite, what are a few months for Him!?

Now to you, my loves, your Mom and I are persistent, and we will not give up on you. We will continue to pursue you, praying that God will bring us together as a family very soon. I can't wait to hug you all for the first time and all the 10 million times after that! Love, Dad.

God, hear my persistent prayer: that the judge see a family when she reviews all our papers, and answers, and letters; that she feel compelled to move quickly and grant the petition, and that it be soon, Lord; that things move smoothly as we prepare to travel; that we will be soon be united with the children You have had planned for us since the beginning of time. Amen.

LIMIAR (re)union

I forgot to mention that next weekend we're going to LIMIAR's annual reunion. There should be around 100 people there, all with children adopted from Brazil! We just decided to attend, and we're looking forward to a weekend away and the opportunity to build some important connections.

Luciana, Lino and Stuart (all LIMIAR staff that has worked with us) will be there and we're glad for the opportunity to meet them face to face. I think this will be good for our hearts.


We're getting to the end of July, 2009 and still don't know when we are going to go meet our precious children. The latest estimate is sometime in September. That's because even after the judge decides to grant our petition, there is still a tangle of red tape to sort out.
  • Judge decides
  • Submits decision to CEJA
  • If it's a "yes" CEJA creates a document called a "Letter of Invitation" (LOI)
  • A copy of that letter comes to us so we can get visas, a quick 2-day process
  • The letter itself goes to the US consulate in Rio
  • The consulate apparently has to send it up to the US to... USCIS
  • USCIS approves our I-800 which ensures visas for each of the children
  • Meanwhile, Lino makes our court appointments and we make our travel arrangements
That whole thing will probably take 2-3 weeks, but no one really knows because no one has ever done it before. The I-800 process is a new one and we were going to be the first Brazil family to go through it. However, we're told that another AWAA family is beating us to the finish line and will adopt their children soon. They are currently in the pre-travel document-push right now. Hopefully they will pave the way for us. And if things go well, we may overlap some time in Brazil with them.

The thing is that before the judge decides, she will have to receive a report from CEJA's psychologist, Daisy. All the letters (13 of them!) and answers to questions that we sent to Luciana on Monday (July 20) were translated by Lino and another helper that same day and taken to CEJA on Tuesday (the 21st). The psychologist needs to put all of that information into a report (even though I think it would have been easier and just as effective to put it into a folder!) for the judge. Having read all 13 letters from our friends and family and having easily answered all the judge's questions with very well-reasoned and heart-felt answers, We really think that the only thing the Psychologist can say in her report is, "This is clearly the family God has chosen for these four children."

So, everyone is feeling very positive about the future outcome of this process. We all feel like the Judge is looking for reasons to say YES, not reasons to say NO and that she will eventually say yes.

Last Wednesday when Luciana suggested that we might need to move on and look for other referrals... that was really the pit of despair for us. We had dinner that night with our friends Rose and Marcelo. We had dinner with them again this Wednesday and they commented that we seemed much more joyful and less burdened. It's true. We went through that moment of darkness, sustained by God's grace and the purpose He has given us (that's YOU, my children!) and we are now filled with hope.

We WILL be a family. Hopefully, after the LOI is written, Lino will be able to get us some updates on the children... more pictures, clothing sizes, more info! That will make the time go so much faster.

We missed Maynara's 10th birthday in April not long after we knew these were the children God had for us, and it looks like we'll miss Brayan's 4th birthday at the beginning of August too. This is sad for us, but we are focusing on all the birthdays and everydays that we'll celebrate when they are finally our sons and daughters.

Another thing that has been encouraging is the tremendous outpouring of love and prayers and support from our friends and family and some blogland people we have never met. We feel like we've really grown during the last 3 years and we are looking forward to the stretching growth we'll experience as parents.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

It takes a village to raise a child

It's been a flurry of activity here since last night when we got an email from Luciana with news about what's going on with our paperwork in Brazil. Seems the judge is digging into our paperwork and has a bunch of questions she asked CEJA's psychologist to investigate. So, we've spent the last 30 hours or so gathering letters from family and friends at the psychologist's request and answering about a dozen questions with careful detail. We even wrote up a petition for all our friends to sign since the community that has supported us during the three years of this adoption process will be the village that helps to raise our children.

We know that lots of our supportive friends and family members do not live near enough to attend Trinity Baptist Church, so we want to give everyone a chance to be a part of this process. If you consider yourself part of our "village" please leave a comment on this blog post ( These comments may not make it all the way to the judge, but they are part of the testimony of this journey that we are gathering for our children. We truly feel that we couldn't even consider adopting four children if it weren't for all the support we feel from our family and friends.

It really seems like the judge is getting ready to make a decision and that we could hear her final choice in a week's time or so.

Ready... set... COMMENT!

Friday, July 17, 2009

The gears are turning--slowly

We heard yesterday that the head of CEJA went to see the judge and pushed for an answer. Seems the judge did not take the papers hoe last week when we heard that she had, but now she says she will and CEJA feels like this is a positive, even though the judge still thinks of us as too young for "all those children." So, we ask all of our friends to continue PRAYING that God will nudge the judge to make the right decision.

So, the gears are turning ever so slowly. But I guess sometimes the the slowest gears accomplish the most work.

My dear children,

We are not giving up on you because God has placed you in our hearts and we trust that He will place you in our family as a place where you can grow and be loved and become the men and women that He wants you to be. We also trust Him to make us the parents he wants us to be. It will be hard for you to leave your Brazilian home, but we know that if God does this, he has big plans for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Mamãe e Papai

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Not giving up

As the agonizing imminence drags on, doubt creeps in and we wonder what God is up to. Will the judge ever decide on our petition? Why is CEJA, once so eager to push our case through, now asking us to be patient a little longer? Why can't anyone get any straight answers? What if the judge delays another week, 2 weeks, or another month or longer? Can our hearts take it? Did we hear our call correctly? When will God put our family together?

Luciana is concerned about our hearts and how much longer we can and should continue to wait for an answer before we consider the unthinkable--moving on. During a very kind and personal talk with her today, she seemed to be preparing us for the worst. Here are some of the down-heartening gems that came out of that conversation:
  • We've never had to wait this long before.
  • We don't understand what CEJA is doing.
  • The head of CEJA is in charge of this part of the part of the process, she has been doing her job for a long time and she's personal friends with the judge. And still nothing moves.
  • Lino is mad and frustrated.
  • Would you like me to look for some more referrals for you?
  • Now is the time to pray and have faith.
  • If this goes on for another week, we should probably move on to other referrals.
  • No one understands God's plan (followed by a long, sad, story about a family who suffered years of infertility followed by a heartbreaking miscarriage--and years later the children God planned for that family).
I realize that this is one serious downer of a list and that this kind of mood is atypical of the character of the record we've sought to keep here. However, this is real and we really want this the story to be recorded just as it is unfolded by its Author. And the really real reality right now is that we're in the pits. So I'm writing from the pits so that our children will one day know that we didn't give up on them even on days when everything seemed to be going wrong and it would surely be easier to move on or give up. We did not choose to grow our family this way because we thought it would be safe or simple. We're not haphazardly trying to rescue children from their unfortunate situations. (We've always said we're not in the business of rescuing children--just finding the ones God made as our sons and daughters.) We are trudging through dark, mucky waters in the middle of deep forests filled with fog and uncertainty. But we are trudging because we know that the road will shape us and in the clearing there will be a family and a future of joy and many other blessings. We are trudging because we know that our children need us even more than we need them. We are trudging through because... what other option do we have? What parent would give up on their children?

I wish I could be strong enough to bear this burden joyfully. I feel like I have for a long time, and now I am just so weak from the long journey that I cannot bear it well.

Yesterday I read Genesis 19:16-21 where the angels of the Lord pull Lot and his family out of the city of Sodom before it was destroyed with fire. They had to bodily pull him out by the hand and they told him to flee to the mountains so he would be safe. He said to them, "But I can't flee to the mountains; this disaster will overtake me, and I'll die. Look, here is a town near enough to run to, and it is small. Let me flee to it—it is very small, isn't it? Then my life will be spared." And the Lord agreed to spare that small town and let Lot and his family go there instead of into the mountains. Of course God could have given them the strength and protection they needed to flee to the mountains. God wasn't asking him to flee to his death. But Lot felt that he was too weak to do what God asked of him. And that is exactly how I feel right now. I am begging the Lord to let me go somewhere closer, safer, easier... anywhere but the mountains.

Please, Lord. I'm too weak for that journey. You can spare us from it and make miracles happen. Nothing is too difficult for you. Thank you for sparing us from the fire and keeping us safe in your arms... but Lord don't make us go to the mountains.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Pray for the Judge today!!

OK, friends. Now is the time to PRAY (still). Here is the update that Luciana sent us last night (with my explanations added):

Just to let you know that the person from CEJA (the State Judicial Commission for Adoption--they have approved us and are advocating for us) went to talk with the judge (the one who was on vacation for a month. Her responsibility is to the children and she is the one who decides whether or not to invite us down to Brazil to meet them and adopt them). At first the judge was saying the same thing about being too young and 4 kids (which is what she said the day she left for her long vacation) but the good thing is that she took your letter and process (all our paperwork) and said she would take home to think about it. I see this as positive..... but I don't know.... I will let you know if I hear something.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


The following is reprinted from Oswald Chambers' My Utmost for His Highest, July 6 entry, which I was directed to by Kerry Hassenbalg, who is a wise woman, well acquainted with heartache deeper than my own.

"And the parched ground shall become a pool." Isaiah 35:7

We always have visions, before a thing is made real. When we realize that although the vision is real, it is not real in us, then is the time that Satan comes in with his temptations, and we are apt to say it is no use to go on. Instead of the vision becoming real, there has come the valley of humiliation.

"Life is not as idle ore,
But iron dug from central gloom,
And batter'd by the shocks of doom
To shape and use."

God gives us the vision, then He takes us down to the valley to batter us into the shape of the vision, and it is in the valley that so many of us faint and give way. Every vision will be made real if we will have patience. Think of the enormous leisure of God! He is never in a hurry. We are always in such a frantic hurry. In the light of the glory of the vision we go forth to do things, but the vision is not real in us yet; and God has to take us into the valley, and put us through fires and floods to batter us into shape, until we get to the place where He can trust us with the veritable reality. Ever since we had the vision God has been at work, getting us into the shape of the ideal, and over and over again we escape from His hand and try to batter ourselves into our own shape.

The vision is not a castle in the air, but a vision of what God wants you to be. Let Him put you on His wheel and whirl you as He likes, and as sure as God is God and you are you, you will turn out exactly in accordance with the vision. Don't lose heart in the process. If you have ever had the vision of God, you may try as you like to be satisfied on a lower level, but God will never let you.