Thursday, February 19, 2015

Last Piece of Paper!

Yesterday was kind of a BIG day! We sent off our VERY LAST piece of paperwork that we are responsible for before plane tickets. 
My favorite FedEx receipt of all time. 

WOOT WOOT!! 

That last piece of paper is what is called the PAIR letter. Pre Adoption Immigration Review. This is our government's preliminary approval for us to bring Bradley into the U.S. We have sent it off to be authenticated, and from there, it will go to Ethiopia and we will be IN LINE FOR A COURT DATE! 

Did I just get to type those words? 

Why, yes. I believe I did. 

So now, we wait a little more. Shocking, I know. The authentication process seems to take about two weeks. Once our paperwork lands in Ethiopia, we are in line for our court dates. First, the preliminary hearing (which we do not attend). Then there will be the hearing itself, which we do attend. At that time, we will legally take custody of Bradley. He will officially, on paper, be ours. Cue the tears of joy and relief. 

Almost there. Thanks for sticking it out with us! 

Love, 
Baylor 



Thursday, February 12, 2015

Weight

Today is hard. I don't know why. There is nothing in my life that marks February 12 as a difficult day. No family tragedy. No deep loss. But here I am. Feeling buried, feeling this impossibly heavy weight on my shoulders, feeling a deep sense of burdening.

I want it to go away.

For the last few days I have been feeling like all of the stress I have been living under for the last three years has finally manifested itself in my body. I am EXHAUSTED. Seriously. Every morning when my alarm goes off, I think to myself that I could easily sleep for another four hours. My emotions are all over the map and I feel like I am wound so tightly that I could snap and collapse into a puddle of tears at any moment.

Aren't you jealous?? :)

And as I sit here and really think about it, I realize that this part of my story is probably not too different from that of any adoptive mom. There is all of this tension as you move through paperwork at the start of an adoption. You want it to be perfect. Every i dotted and every t crossed. You get frenzied over your house being flawlessly clean for your home visit. Clean baseboards mean I will be a good mom! You record your entire life history and your beliefs about parenting (Some of which have not even crossed your mind yet, because, really, who thinks about how you might one day handle a hypothetical situation and how your experience with your parents will impact that? We do now!). You take classes on incredibly difficult things about parenting kids who come form hard places. You hear stories of kids not attaching to their adoptive parents and you PRAY TO GOD that will not be you. You finally send off all of that precious paperwork, representing countless hours of work. And then you wait. And you wait. And you wait. And you wonder if your child is alive yet. And if he is alive, is he being taken care of? Is someone holding him, comforting him, loving him in your place?

Then you get to see his face. And every single thing in your life changes. He is yours, but you can't protect him or comfort him. You have to love him from afar. And you know, that even in the best of circumstances, the person caring for him is not you. And you have to trust God and God alone to watch over your son. You have to beseech the Lord to care for him and somehow, let him know that you love him so, so deeply.

And then there is the part you are not ready for. No matter how much training you went through. There is his story. A story that you alone will carry. A story that cannot and will not be shared with anyone, not matter how close, because it is not your story to tell. It is your story to protect. It is a story that carries an enormous weight.

So all of these things are crashing down on me this week. And my body is looking and me and saying, "Yeah...you need a nap, a nice twenty four hour nap." But there are all of the other things in life that demand attention.

My soul is weary, dear friends. And my body is right there, too.

I am so overjoyed that we are really in the final stretch before Bradley is in our arms. And I am trying to hang in there and on to God's grace and provision and strength. These arms are tired, though.

And here I am reminded of Paul and his first letter to the Corinthians.


"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? 
Run in such a way as to get the prize. 
Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. 
They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 
Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 
No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, 
I myself will not be disqualified for the prize."
1 Corinthians 9:24-27

He is talking about preaching the gospel here, but I also see a LOT of parallels to where I am in life right now. I am trying so hard to run this race God has laid before me. Trying to run with purpose, not aimlessly. Trying to discipline myself. 

So easy to say and SO much harder to do. 

God has been at work in my heart in such a deep way over the last three years, and I do not want to give up now. I'm trying to work on my prayer life so that I can stay focused on Christ, because I know that everything else in my life needs to flow out of that. And in that, I am fighting of extreme exhaustion and the feeling of being wholly and completely overwhelmed. In those moments, when I let exhaustion win, I forgo the very thing that will bring me rest. Prayer. 

God is bigger that these things, though. A good friend and fellow adoptive mom reminded me the other week that my circumstances bow before God. I just love that. It is such a clear picture of reality, and it is one that I am clinging to these days. 

My circumstances bow before God. Yours do, too. 

Love, 
Baylor 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Swirling

Gah! So, so much swirling around in my mind. There is my day job (teaching middle school of all things!), my night job (Noonday Ambassador with spring launch right around the corner), my house being in constant chaos over the last two months of renovations (with more to come!), oh and my son living on the other side of the planet (oh, right...that).

I think I have reached my peak for stress intake.

God has been so, so good in my life. Always. But especially in the last few months. He has provided at every turn. Yes, there have been ROUGH times. But He has been there. And in that, He has been revealing Himself to me.

Still, in some moments, like tonight, I feel myself getting very overwhelmed and wanting to just crawl into a hole and cry. For a really long time.

There is just so much. So much unknown. So much to fear. So much to worry about. I can, in a very real way, feel it rising up inside me. And sometimes, if I am being totally honest, I feel like I am going to be swallowed up.

I know I won't be. I know God is greater. I know He is real and here and sovereign. I know that He is watching my son with an unwavering eye. And I know I can trust Him to care for Bradley during this in between time.

BUT OH MY WORD IT IS HARD TO DO!

Relinquishing control, COMPLETE CONTROL, of someone you love so deeply to someone else. I would not do it for anyone else but God.

And I am trying to bring myself back to this place of unwavering trust and solid assurance. But I feel like my feet are on shifting sand. Even when little things happen, tiny things that are unrelated to our adoption, I feel myself overreacting. And I know it stems from the EXTREME amount of stress I have been under for almost three full years.

Still. Even in this. God is here and He is real. I just have to remember that. Remember it and live by it.

Breathing in and out over here. Feel free to join me.

Love,
Baylor


Monday, February 9, 2015

His Name

So much has been going on lately. Mostly stalking the postman as we waited for our fingerprint appointment letters to come in the mail (they came!). Honestly, though, that took up most of my mental and emotional strength. Add to that, renovating our kitchen (before and afters coming soon) and getting to work on our little guy's room and throw in our day jobs, too, and you have two busy Knotts.

But there is something very special that I want to tell you tonight. Something I have been intentionally holding on to until it felt real enough to SHOUT IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS!

I am going to tell you my beautiful son's name.

Are you ready?

BRADLEY ABRAHAM

I love it. Don't you?

Strong. Solid. Honorable. Biblical.

It suits him. And it is a name I hope and pray he will grow into.

Bradley for my own incredible dad. As we moved through the adoption process and thought about names, we knew that we wanted our son's name to have meaning. We knew that we wanted to name him after a man we admire and love, a man we would be PROUD to have our son imitate and strive to be like. So for us, there was NEVER any wavering on what our first son's first name would be. Second to my own sweet husband, my dad is the Godliest man I know. He loves well and without condition. He serves others and puts himself last better than anyone else I know. He models Christ in all he does, and I hope and pray the my boy takes after his granddad, because his granddad is striving to take after Christ.

My daddy-o!

And that ADORABLE face he makes when you reveal to him
that his first grandson will carry his name. 

Abraham for the Bible. At so many points throughout this journey to our son, Adam and I have felt a kinship to Abraham. God came to him and said, "Go to a place I will show you." And he went. We have felt that way for much of the last (almost) three years, that God had told us to go, but had not revealed how or when we would get there. And there was temptation along the way to give up and give in. In those moments, we did our best to rest in God and trust that He knew exactly what He was doing. Turns out, He did. And so we chose the name Abraham for our boy, to remind us and him of what it means to be obedient to God in the midst of a circumstance that feels impossible, to remind us of God's unwavering faithfulness and His undeniable goodness.

And then there is his Ethiopian name. That one I cannot share with you. We are keeping it for him.

So there it is, dear friends. Our son's precious name. I hope you love it as much as I do.

Love,
Baylor




Saturday, February 7, 2015

And Then...

So our fingerprint appointment letters F.I.N.A.L.L.Y. came in the mail. Amen and hallelujah! I cannot begin to explain the relief that swept through my body and soul when I opened the mailbox on Friday and saw those sitting there. Especially since I had cried on the phone with our immigration officer the afternoon before.

That's right. Real tears. On the phone with this lovely, lovely woman who does not know me.

How dignified.

And then, of course, our letters came the following day.

Woot woot! 

So what happens now? 

Well, on Monday we will go get our fingerprints redone. Praying they let us in even though our appointment is not till February 18. 

And then...

Our immigration officer will issue what is called our PAIR letter. This is our pre-approval letter to bring our little guy into the U.S. 

And then...

We send our PAIR letter off to Washington D.C. to be authenticated. This is just  legal process to make our approval letter a certified document. 

And then...

Our PAIR letter will go overseas to Ethiopia. 

And then... 

We will be put in line for a court date. And wait...

And then...

We travel! This is when we will appear in court in Ethiopia and take LEGAL CUSTODY OF OUR SON. 

So that is where we are these days. Whew! 

Love, 
Baylor 

Saturday, January 31, 2015

But I Did It Perfectly...

So by now you probably know that I am experiencing a bit of frustration in the adoption world this week. Our fingerprints have expired. Boo. And we are now at a place where nothing can be done until our prints are renewed. We are waiting for our appointment letters to come in the mail so that we can go get reprinted. Each letter has a barcode that is unique to our case, and so we cannot go without them. Believe me; I considered it.

The most frustrating part of it all is that our prints expired SIX DAYS before we needed our approval issued. And now we are stuck. Grrrrrr. For the last four days, I have STALKED my postman and the mailbox, praying that our letters would come, but they have yet to arrive.

And I have been blaming myself.

For three years, I have tracked every single piece of paper that pertained to our adoption. I have met deadlines, gotten originals of all of our documents, made it to appointments on time, checked and re-checked everything. And I did it successfully. But now, in the eleventh hour, I dropped the ball. I somehow missed that our prints were expiring, so my lapse is causing this delay. And as result of this, I have found myself feeling a lot of things over the last few days. I have been sad, upset, angry, impatient, unfocused, but most of all, I have felt indignant. I have thought about all the paperwork we have completed over the last three years, coupled with where we are now, and I have said to myself…

"But I did it perfectly."

And God stops me right there. He stops me and reminds me that this process, bringing this sweet, beautiful boy into our family, does not hinge on me or the perfection I might think I have achieved. I cannot do enough fast enough to get him home. It doesn't depend on me at all. This boy becoming my son rests solely in God's hands. Color me humbled.

And I am starting to think that is why our print cards have not arrived yet. I am starting to think that God is, once again, using this journey to my son to reveal something to me about Himself. Namely, His sufficiency and my lack of it.

Maybe you are there tonight, too. Maybe you have worked hard and done all the right things for a VERY long time, only to get so close to the end and feel like you have hit a brick wall. I'm right there with you, friend. But there is purpose in this, too. God is still at work, molding us into who we need to be for what lies ahead. Hang on.

Love,
Baylor



Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Another Step

I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to all of you who prayed for us yesterday. From what we have heard and deduced, things seem to have gone well, but we will not know for sure for another couple of weeks.

For now, we are working on getting our fingerprints renewed. I know, right. Third time. We are pretty sure it will be the FINAL time we have to do this. But we would LOVE for you to pray for us, as this has the potential to delay our case. And that thought sends me into a tail spin. I'll be honest. I am feeling super frustrated that after three years of diligently keeping up with so much paperwork, I missed something so key as such a critical point. Grrrr.

For now, we are taking another step toward our little man, and we are SO ready to see him and BRING HIM HOME.

So I'm just trying to hang in there and trust that God is sovereign over my oversight.

Hopefully, I will have some awesome news to share with you VERRRRY soon!

Lots of love,
Baylor

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