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!

Monday, August 31, 2009

What next

During the last several months (OK, years) we've done a lot of wondering about "what's next." At this point, there's just a little bit of paperwork left before we travel to meet our children, and our "what's next" conversations almost always center around what it will be like when our family is finally all together. We have long conversations full of what I now call "mental nesting" where we try to figure out what the details of everyday life will be like, what sorts of expectations we'll have for our children, what will be important to us as a family, and how we'll convey all that to our children.

We're starting to gather the things we'll bring with us to Brazil, including special gifts for the children. We found a special locket for Maynara on Etsy. We want her to be able to hold it in her hands as a symbol of the importance of who she is and where she comes from, as well as our love for and dedication to her from now on. (These usually come with 3 interchangeable fronts, but the artist sent us 8!)  We also got her a nice journal and matching pencil case to be a safe place to record her thoughts and experiences as her whole life changes before her eyes.

We found a lovely, snuggly baby doll for Luana at, where they sell loads of multicultural dolls of all kinds. We hope that when she hugs it tight, it will still any fears or insecurities she may feel while her whole world is changing around her, and we hope it will remind her that her parents are always there to comfort her too.

Girls are easy to shop for, and we're still trying to think of just the right special gifts for our boys. Something that, when they put their hands on it, they can feel and remember who they are as individuals, in God, and as part of our family.

Another "what next" question is what to do with this blog. The purpose from the beginning has been to document the path God marked out for us to follow to our children, so that He can be glorified in the details and so that our children will have a record of all He did to bring us together. It's for them. However, soon we'll be traveling to Brazil and there are probably dozens (or hundreds) of faithful friends and family members who are going to want a front-row ticket to watch our family come together, and develop while we are away. This blog is probably the best way for us to do that, so I think its focus may shift slightly while we are away. But what about when we get back? What will its purpose be? I'd rather it not be a play-by-play mommy blog, because I feel like I'd be tempted to use too much of my energy on narrating our life. It will be more important for me to actively participate in every moment of this new life, but I'm not willing to give up this document--It's the first journal I've ever stuck to in my life, and I believe the recording of God's details has a way of making us notice them and live them more fully.

I know things will have to change here (as in every other corner of our lives), but I'm still not sure how they'll evolve. I've thought about writing letters to our children here. When we see God working in their lives, when we see them growing in special ways, or when we want to commemorate landmarks in their lives, we may write directly to them. I think that would keep me from the temptation of writing mere status-updates.

As with so much of what's next, I know enough to know that I have no idea what life will be like in another 4 or 6 weeks. But I'm planning on savoring every moment of it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

First present for our children

Last night we spent a few hours filling a box with photo books and other special gifts for our children. The photo books are what will introduce them to their new parents about 2 weeks before we travel to Brazil to meet them. We also included a little stuffed elephant for each child--did you know that no other land animal waits as long as the mama elephant to give birth to her babies? The elephant has been our adoption mascot for a while now. We've collected a shelf full of fuzzy pachyderms to give to our children. These little Hortons were sent along with a note telling the children that we have waited even longer than a mama elephant to meet them and that we love them so very much.

The box needed a little more filling, so we sent everyone a shirt from their Connecticut closet. Today James took the precious box to the post office and sent it off with an Express Mail sticker.

Weighing the box at home to print our postage online, I wondered how our children would know how much we love them from such a small, 4-pound box. I hope they sense that they are part of the family God chose for us all with great purpose and love.

Monday, August 24, 2009


Knowing we're in the final stretch before going to Brazil to meet our children, but not knowing exactly when we will depart is a joyfully tense in-between. We are so thrilled that the judge has given us permission to come and adopt our beautiful children, and we are trying to think of all the details that will need to be accomplished before we go. In one sense, we feel as ready as we'll ever feel, but then again, there are probably things we should do, talk about, or get in order to be really ready.

So this weekend we went shopping. We hit Kohl's where there were some wonderful sales, then Old Navy, where we found some good deals on adorable clothes.
This is the most tangible our children have ever been to us--
"Which dress do you think Maynara would like?"
"Do you think this is too small for Brayan?"
"Luana probably should have something that isn't pink."
"Abraão Lucas will look so handsome in this."

It was so much fun to imagine our sweet ones in everything we chose. (Hoping it will fit, because we still don't have their exact sizes.)

The grandparents also picked up some beautiful wooden blocks at a friend's tag sale, so this weekend, we scrubbed them all and set them out in the sun to dry (thanks, Tio David!).

Thursday, August 13, 2009

We're all in agreement

We are still elated thinking about the judge's decision to grant our petition and allow us to adopt our children from Brazil. Our minds are racing wondering what we need to do to get ready, and our hearts are "oh so happy," as James put it today.

We're not sure when we'll actually be leaving for Brazil to meet our children, because there's still a small mountain of paperwork to accomplish. Back in our post entitled Hope, we started to explain some of the tangle of red tape that needed to be straightened out before everything can be legal, final, and just as we desire it to be. Well, three weeks after that posting, we understand the process better, and I'm going to spell it out here so that the record of our journey is as accurate as we can make it for our children, so that everyone who reads this can pray that God will carry us through these next few steps, and so that anyone who follows behind us on this path will have a better idea of what to expect. I'm working this out as I go, so things may not turn out the way we expect them to (they almost never do), but here's what I've deduced so far:
  • Judge decided to grant our petition!!!
  • We start working on our USCIS I-800 application, and all the documentation that goes with it. Lino has to get copies of the kids' birth certificates, so we asked him to get more photos and info about clothes/shoe sizes while is at their home.
  • CEJA creates a document called an acordo, which is an agreement between the Judge, CEJA, and the US Department of State
  • Until very recently (a couple weeks ago) no one knew who, from the US Department of State would sign the acordo, since the Hague Treaty changed all the rules. Seems like it's almost all sorted out (thanks to another AWAA family getting their acordo before us) now and we should be able to be one of the first families to creep through the new channel.
  • When the acordo is all signed, a Letter of Invitation (LOI) is generated
  • 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 because they will be the ones to issue visas to our children. (Visas that make them automatically US citizens when we arrive home.)
  • USCIS approves our I-800 application which ensures visas for each of the children
  • Meanwhile, Lino makes our court appointments and we make our travel arrangements
So, it's still a pretty complicated process, but until the judge gave us her YES, it was all paused. We've pressed play, and we'll make it to the bottom of the paperwork list and to Brazil as soon as we can.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

For the Record

Kim and I have been through many emotional and spiritual ups and downs over the past 4 months as we waited for an answer from the judge in Brazil regarding our petition to adopt Maynara, Abraão Lucas, Luana, and Brayan, and last night we received an answer to much prayer. For the record, I wanted to write about our experience last night as we learned that the judge said "yes" and granted our petition! Though we still have some "waiting" and paperwork to do before traveling to Brazil to meet our beautiful sons and daughters, we are in the "when" and not "if" stage. And, man, does it ever feel good!

Keep in mind as I tell this story that we have hardly been away from our e-mail for any significant length of time in the past four months. I have my e-mail open at work at all times and Kim has an iPod touch with wireless, which makes a little "ding" any time she receives and e-mail, so she has been checking constantly at home during the summer. Except for some odd times here and there, we probably haven't been away from our e-mail for more than 30 minutes at a time unless we were sleeping, sitting in church, or driving to Pennsylvania to see our parents. We have especially been following our e-mail pretty closely over the past few weeks, as we have had a couple of requests from the judge for more information, which wetired to turn around as quickly as possible each time. (All the while wondering how anyone ever got through this process without e-mail!)

Last night, however, I got home late, around 6:40, from work, and Kim had dinner prepared so we could eat before our friends came for Bible study at our house at 7:30 as they always do on Tuesdays. We sat on the porch enjoying our dinner, leaving our e-mail unattended for some time. We finished dinner, took the dishes to the kitchen and were going to take one more quick look at e-mail before people arrived when we saw something new in Kim's inbox:

Tuesday, August 11, 2009 6:44:52 PM
Re: no news yet [a leftover subject from previous correspondence]

Please call me on my cell right now

How could we have missed this e-mail by almost 45 minutes!? Not knowing what to expect, hoping for the best, dreading the worst, and hearts pitter-pattering, Kim grabbed her cell phone, put it on speaker, and called Luciana. Luciana answered, apologized for the background noise as her husband's family was visiting, and proceeded to talk to us about our petition.

I swear Luciana must have been watching too much American Idol or other reality TV shows, because the way she started out didn't sound good. Our hearts started to sink. In what must have been 10 seconds, but felt like 10 minutes, she said, "Now we've known all along that this has been in God's hands, and that He always knows what's best for each family. And you should keep this in mind as I tell you that..." That WHAT, Luciana, that WHAT! "...that they're yours!" Ours! We can call them "our" kids! Not just "the" kids! "And now we wait some more," she added. But that didn't matter. We were ecstatic, smiling from ear to ear, not even knowing what to say!

About that time, I saw a car pull up in front of our house. Our friends James and Mina were walking up to the house for Bible study. I ran to the front door, opened it and said, "we're on the phone with our adoption agency! The judge said yes! You're the first to know!" Kim talked with Luciana for another minute or so while Mina jumped up and down and James and Mina hugged and congratulated me.

After Kim hung up with Luciana, she called her family on her cell phone while I ran upstairs to call my family on my cell phone. Kim's parents were at a baseball game with 50 people from their church. Her Dad answered the phone, Kim told him the news, and he yelled, "She said yeeessssssss!" To which the whole of left field started shouting and celebrating. Those church folk of theirs have been praying along with Kim's parents for this for a long time.

I called my parents and my Mom answered. They are visiting family in Alabama and were on their way to have dinner with my Aunt and Uncle and their family. I told my Mom right away, she started crying, and told my Dad to pull over! We celebrated together with tears and smiles over many miles. She told me she has been carrying their picture everywhere and showing it to everyone.

I also updated my status on Facebook while I was upstairs on the phone. (Which explains the phone calls that we got during Bible study! Oops!) We got through Bible study nonetheless, prayed for the concerns of the group--and of course this great news!--and then proceeded to call our friends and family after everyone had left our house for the evening.

Whew. What an adventure. For many months I have been praying that the God would open the judge's heart to our petition and that she would see a family when she reviewed all of our paperwork, and not just a big stack of paper to deal with. It took about 4 months--far longer than we or our agency ever expected--but, with God's help, she finally did see a family! All the while, however, the petition has been in God's hands and His timing. We may not ever know why it took so long, but we trust in God's infinite wisdom that this was time well-used for His purposes and His kingdom.

Praise the Lord, for He is faithful!

Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him.
(Psalm 127:3)

Praise the Lord for Maynara!

Praise the Lord for Abraão Lucas!

Praise the Lord for Luana!

Praise the Lord for Brayan!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

She said YES!!

The judge finally said YES to our petition to adopt our four children. We can finally call them ours!!!

And, because of this great news, we can finally introduce to you our two sons and two daughters:

Maynara (10), Abraão Lucas (7), Luana (5) and Brayan (4)
Praise God!!!

Psalm 105

1 Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name;
make known among the nations what he has done.

2 Sing to him, sing praise to him;

tell of all his wonderful acts.

3 Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.

4 Look to the LORD and his strength;
seek his face always.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Brayan's Birthday

It was about four months ago that we first learned about the four children we are still hoping will be our sons and daughters. Not a lot has changed in that time, but our love for each of the for future Fulltons has grown as we've prepared our hearts and home for them. We are still awaiting their judge's approval of our petition. It's hard to be apart from them while we wait with hearts full of maybes.

Today is Brayan's 4th birthday. There are clothes in his closet, a special quilt on his bed and some legos in the play room just for him. We are glad that he is safe and sound with his siblings and we are excited to meet him face to face some day soon.

We're not sure how much of Brazil and the transition to the US you will remember when you get older, but we are glad that caring people are meeting your needs while we work to come to Brazil to become your parents. Being part of a forever family is a very special experience, and we can hardly wait to share it with you.

Happy birthday darling!

Friday, August 07, 2009

She wants more information... again

The judge made another request for more information. This time she wonders about our financial situation. So, we tallied up all of our monthly earnings (again) and checking and savings account totals (again) and explained to her how very careful we've been in the last several years to plan financially in preparation for becoming parents. We sent off our responses in the middle of the night and Luciana sent them to Lino first thing Thursday morning. Dayse, the psychologist, wanted to bring the translated answers to the judge right away.

Deep breath.

We're glad to know that she's working to make a decision, but weary of all these redundant questions. We imagine we're just a little closer to her response, though. We trust God for a "yes" but when we hear things like this from a good friend who has walked a parallel road from the El Salvador program to adopt two older children from Colombia, we can't help but feel that family's pain and dread.

Lord, Have your way.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Bending Hearts

I am thankful that God is giving me peace these days. A couple weeks ago we definitely felt the claws of despair gripping us and trying to drag us downward when we know we ought to be focusing upward. Somehow, God gives us moments of peaceful clarity and trust in His plan. It is beyond my understanding.

Our church has been in the process of searching for a new senior pastor since our previous pastor received a call to another church six months ago. James is on the search committee and so we have been praying a lot for God to make His plan for our church very clear to the elders and committee members. My prayer lately has been to lead the church to seek only Him, desire only Him, and bend our hearts to Him. It is so easy in this situation, and in the process of waiting for our children, to focus on PASTOR or CHILDREN so much so that I take my eyes off God. I must bow my heart only to Him and be satisfied within His presence... no matter the outcome of these circumstances.

I always wondered how the Israelites in Exodus could forget God so quickly and so often. It always struck me as almost comical that God could part the seas and provide bread from the heavens and water from rocks and lead them daily through the desert in a pillar of clouds or fire... and the next thing they do is grumble, or complain, or doubt or rebel or seek idols instead of God. Funny, right? How could they be so thick? God even calls them "stiff-necked people" Confession time: I'm that thick. Thicker, maybe. Last Tuesday I sat to write this post feeling amazing peace and confidence. That same night, we heard from Luciana that the Psychologist hadn't finished the report for the judge yet and I lost it. Cried for hours and convinced myself that I'd probably never meet my children. Completely fell off the wagon into doubt and despair. Then this past weekend at the LIMIAR reunion, I started feeling confident in God's plan again. But today, one more time, I succumbed to bitterness of heart and frustration with the waiting... even anger at God for making me wait though I plead with Him daily to take this cup from me. This roller coaster is worse than 40 years in the desert.

So, what is the answer? The answer is that God knows what His children need. He knows the moment it needs to happen and he knows how to sustain me when I am beyond my own strength to stand up. The answer is to be content with just God. The answer is to bend my heart only to Him and to be wholly satisfied in Him alone.

Easier said than done... and easier for this Kim now than it was for the Kim of 3 years ago.

Lord, help me. Be my everything. Quench my thirst and bend my heart to you alone.

Monday, August 03, 2009

God's miracles with 4 Sisters

James sent me this email on May 20, 2008. Seems like we knew right away that these girls were someone else's daughters, but this email was enough to get us talking about Brazil.

Did you get this? I don't know that this will work for us, but it thought it was interesting--they ARE trying to start a program in Brazil. Interested in talking about it? (The program, that is, not adopting 4 girls between 2.5 and 10!)
My answer was:
why not? we could be a family of 6. let's do it! [pretty sure I was being sarcastic.]
and by the way, i would be willing to switch to the brazil program. yep. i would. [and that's how it happened--God got us to Brazil, where our children live!]

----- Forwarded Message ----
Sent: Tuesday, May 20, 2008 1:00:54 PM
Subject: Sibling Group from Brazil Needs Family!

Dear El Salvador Families,

We were contacted by LIMIAR as they have a sibling group of four girls, who are in need of a family. Let me share with you the information we have at this time on the girls:

Ana Maria (9.4 years old).

Luana (8 years old).

Giovana (5 years old).

Vanessa (2.6 years old).
The court in Brazil wants to keep the girls together.

We thank you for prayerfully considering this request and covet your prayers for these girls.


We met these girls this weekend. With their parents, Stephan and Beth. They were an America World/Limiar family just like us and we were so pleased to be able to tell the girls that we found out about them at the same time their parents did, and that not only did God find them a family, he used them to help us find our family. Such a beautiful connection and a beautiful family! We are looking forward to seeing them at next year's Limiar reunion with all of our children together.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Our Heroes

Here we are with Lino and Luciana at the end of the Limiar Family Reunion this weekend. We have SO MUCH to write under the "parenting wisdom" category and as soon as we process through 3 days' worth of information, we will post it here.