This week what I have known in my heart to be true became legal and permanent – forever.
Elisabeth and Emma are my daughters.
I get to be their mommy.
As you’d expect, I think they’re more than perfect. Each one has captured my heart in her own special way – from the fact that Elisabeth was born the very year I began praying for my children who might be out there, to the way Emma whispered nkwagala nyo (I love you) for the first time. They feel familiar – like I’ve known them for a long time – and at the same time are full of new surprises every day and stories that remind me they’ve been waiting, too. Elisabeth is strong, quiet, and wise. She taught herself to swim in a week and has already picked up a lot of the Spanish I’ve been speaking to them. She is the perfect model of a first-born and loves to care of little ones, but also finds me frequently to ask for snuggles. Emma is the quintessential baby, adoring her big sister and loving every minute she spends in the Ergo on my back. Her English is very limited, so she has been the answer to my prayer to learn more Luganda on this trip. Both of them have tender, generous hearts and are eagerly praying for a daddy already.
We have rounded the final curve of this journey home, but several big steps still lie between here and home. My prayer all along has been to have them home for Christmas, but today that looks nearly impossible. Would you pray with me that the last few pieces of paper come together in record time? If you know me, you know that Starbucks red cups are one of my favorite treats of this season. One of the things I’m beginning to learn is that God delights in our smallest desires – even the silly ones. He may say no in order to make room for an even better yes, and when He does, we get to trust and that is beautiful, BUT I do believe He wants us to ask.
I think when we ask for something trivial, knowing that He may very well say “no”, we force ourselves to step deeper inside a more authentic experience of Him as our Father.
So, I’m asking Him for Starbucks red cups. Just three of them. Not for the girls – they will not understand the significance – but for me. I’m asking Him to have us home in time for me to buckle the girls into my car, drive to the Starbucks where so many of my first prayers for them took shape, hand them each a hot chocolate topped with whipped cream, and whisper, “this is from our Daddy. This is the season where we remember He sent His Son to bring us Home. Now these red cups, the lights, the chill in the air, the green and sparkle and smiling people? They will always remind us of the time He showed off to bring us home. He is really, really good.” It’s just a little thing, a small desire of my heart, but I think a lot of my Father-daughter relationship with God is built in these moments – where I ask Him for something and choose to hope expectantly and then still trust His goodness if the answer is not this time.
So will you pray with me that we’re home for Christmas?
Perhaps the most awkward season of parenting is this one where an adoption is imminent, but miles of ocean and red tape still separate the waiting ones from the arms so ready to embrace them forever. As I go about my normal routine, they are always on my mind. Are they carrying water right now? Is someone coaching them to memorize the alphabet yet? What sounds fill their ears as they fall asleep? Crickets? Music? The words, beautiful or not, of the adults around them? Do they feel safe? Will they be terrified of me?
This kind of wondering and speculating can drive a mama’s heart to frantic anxiety because these children feel so real, so ours, and yet so out of reach.
Or are they?
When I was little, my mom used to tell me that when I wanted to talk to Jesus, I could ask Him to pull me onto his lap. That image has never left me and now, as I long to pull the girls onto my lap and meet their every need, it seems so obvious to just ask Jesus to do that for all three of us while we wait.
Throughout the day, my eyes close and He whispers “I’ve got you. What do you need?” The God who is not constrained by distance or time can gather us in the same space and doesn’t He love to build and restore? He’s the God who loves to make something out of nothing, to take what is not and make it real.
And so I ask Him to – even now when they don’t know I’m coming and my imagination of their days could be drastically inaccurate. Even now as I wonder what their personalities are like and if I’ll get to teach them to read, pull their first tooth, be the first one to say “I love you”. As paralyzing as the 10,000 miles separating me from the girls may seem now, life has taught me that even after those miles are crossed, fear and lost time and language barriers and trauma surface to remind that physical nearness is not the cure-all answer to our hearts’ ache. The kinds of wounds we’re dealing with here cannot be healed by cuddles and bedtime stories and back logged vaccinations alone. These are wounds, mine and theirs, that need the touch of a perfect Father – and we happen to have One who knows no limitations of time, space, and distance.
So when that Father sits beside their African beds while I eat my American lunch, why wouldn’t I ask Him to begin His work in them (and in me as their mother)…even now. I ask Him to begin building up their little hearts to know me, trust me, want me. I ask Him to gather their broken places in such a way that they will feel safe with me.
And you? Maybe the distance you feel is not miles, but invisible walls around a child’s heart. Maybe you’re a teacher whose little students walk home to empty refrigerators and absent parents and the few hours you have with them seem so insignificant to heal. This is for you, too.
Below is a PDF download of the verses I am praying over the girls (and have been praying over my yet-undiscovered waiting children for years). Many of them are from the Old Testament and I know that can be a hang up. They were specific to people and places and battles then, yes, but Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever. Those stories, words, and promises are recorded so that we know what we can ask. The history of those men and woman long ago is a promise for us to cling to here and now – to remember that just because our problems might be smaller than those of Gideon and David and Noah, our God is not.
He is waiting for us to ask Him to be bigger.
To access the full size pdf, click here.
The countdown has begun…
My bags are packed and my ticket is on hold,
but I still need to finish out this fundraising before I can jump on a plane
and scoop up the little girls who I think about all.day.long.
SO, I thought it might be a fun time to do a giveaway.
AND THE WINNERS ARE…
Prize #1: Caroline Norment, Jamie Price, Stephanie Rudnicki
Prize #2: Jeanne Hildebrandt, Jennie Thengvall
Prize #3: Erin Cook
Prize #4: Sarah Crane
Prize #5: Liz Hatton, Shauna Braaten
Prize #6: Amy Ammar
Ladies, please email your shipping information to BringingEHome@gmail.com ASAP!!
How to enter:
- for every $10 donated to the Little E Fund, you will get ONE entry
(so…$100 = 10 entries!)
There are several different prizes, so here’s how we’re going to do this thing:
Names will be drawn using Random Number Generator
When you make your donation, use the comment box to say whether you’d like to be entered for:
Prize 1: Teal/Brown Ugandan Bead necklace (18″) from Five Little Cranes [THREE WINNERS]
Prize 2: You Are My Sunshine 8×10 matted print from MangoSeed [TWO WINNERS]
Prize 3: Custom Dome necklace from CandaceKane [ONE WINNER]
Prize 4: Hand Stamped Copper Africa necklace from EagerHands [ONE WINNER]
Prize 5: $30 Gift Card to EchoesofMercy [TWO WINNERS]
Prize 6: ABC Bible Verse Memory Cards from MichelleMusic AND the Micah 6:8 print from FancyThat [ONE WINNER]
(Each prize also includes a Ugandan Bead Necklace!)
You can also specify how many entries you would like assigned to each Prize.
(Ex. If you donate $50, you can request to have two entries for Prize 1 and three entries for Prize 4, etc)
Winners will be announced here on Tuesday night.
(sorry y’all, I’m extending this to tomorrow night. To honor the people who donated the giveaway items, I feel like there need to be at least as many entries as there are prizes)
To donate, click the button that looks like this over on the sidebar —————–>
These amazing t-shirts are also still available here: Echoes of Mercy
(note: these are a pre-order, so shipping will be in 4-6 weeks)
Some very precious news came across my computer screen last week.
Little E has a friend (in the same home) who also needs a family and they were aware that I had been approved for two children.
They asked if I would consider a second referral.
This is a weighty decision, obviously, because I am only one and my heart filled with fear over how I could possibly be enough for two.
But so many things in my life have added up to make me ready to say “yes”
and this yes will place me forever in a position of dependance on my Father,
forever in a position to need His wisdom, His healing, His patience…
which is where I want to be anyway.
So many times I fear unnecessarily, living from a heart that still fails to believe that God is who He says He is.
And that I am who He says I am.
But these little girls are God’s invitation for me to step up on top of fear and see something new about Him.
So, they will be sisters. And I will have two daughters.
They are very close to the same age
(although age is often difficult to estimate in these situations)
and already have history together that will allow them to provide support and stability for each other in this transition.
And they are beautiful. And I am in love.
And so, the waiting is now twice as hard.
Last week, I was nearly ready to travel because I had enough raised for Little E.
Then as I began to divide the funds up and realized that there is not enough, my heart sank.
Why do I so quickly move back into assuming that God will not provide?
Even as I was fearing, a $20 donation came in through PayPal and it was as if Jesus was saying,
“I got this.“
And so now I am not worried.
I know it’s not consistent to believe that God will heal cancer and yet not believe that He will provide for orphans.
I’ve never struggled to believe that He would provide for others’ adoptions, but mine?
It’s just hard to trust.
Because of course, adding a second child means adding a second expense.
(the question I hear most often from friends is “how are you going to make this work when you get home?”
My adoption agency would not have approved me to adopt two children if I had not been able to show that I can
financially provide for them both. My fundraising is NOT to cover non-adoption related expenses when we get home. )
I have raised enough so far to pay for:
the costs listed below are estimates provided to adoptive families by agencies
- Home study and post placement (Two home study visits and four post-placement visits over the next year)
- Program Fee x 2 (this is how the agency pays their staff, processes paperwork, etc)
- USCIS Immigration forms/background check/fingerprinting
- My ticket to Uganda and back (this includes at least one change fee as our return date is unknown)
- US Adoption procedure x 2 (making it all legal in the US)
- Processing of passports and visas x 2
- One-way tickets to the US x 2
- Legal fees x 2 (since the children are not related, two separate legal fees are required)
- In-country expenses (anywhere from 8-16 weeks…or more)
- US Embassy required medical appt in country x 2
Here are some different adoption agencies and their estimated cost based on adopting ONE child from this country:
Holt: $25,080 – $33,620
While I wait, I’m still open to receive these sweet foster babies, which is a welcome distraction from the waiting.
Patrick has been with me for the past week and it has been so good for me to soak up these days with him as I pray
for the people who are in the girls’ lives right now as they wait.
And (hopefully) foster care will continue to be a part of our lives after the girls are home and settled.
I want them to grow up knowing that there is nothing more meaningful than to know the God who loves
and show His love to everyone around us.
Speaking of which…
To donate: Little E (x2) Adoption Fund | To purchase shirts: Echoes of Mercy
**This is a pre-order, which means that the shirts have not yet been shipped to me. Once I have a substantial amount of orders placed, I’ll get them printed and shipped out to you asap. Thank you for being patient! This is the best way for me to make it easy on the folks who will be helping me with packaging and shipping. Estimated shipping date will be 3-6 weeks from now (9/5).**
Her picture is propped up on my dashboard – the sweetest little smile on her face that has already seen so many hard things.
Throughout the day, she’s on my mind constantly. I pray over her interactions with friends and caregivers, over her memories of how she came to this place, over the people in charge of her legal process…and mine.
In about two weeks, my paperwork will be completed and I’ll be free to go straight to be with her while we wait out the rest of the process in her country. I still need about $10,000 in order to bring her home, but I have some exciting news! A very generous person has offered to match up to $6,000 raised before this weekend! This is a huge opportunity for me and one for which I am very grateful. This week, I was able to get some new video and pictures of E and I can hardly watch them without crying (and being so thankful for the people who are caring for her right now).
I am also SO thankful to those of you who have given, written to tell me you’re praying, sent clothes in Little E’s size. I have felt so loved and encouraged and am so excited to bring her into my amazing community.
So, there are a few things you can do to help me get to E as soon as possible!
1. Share this post
2. Make a donation here
3. Go follow @bringingehome on Instagram to bid in an AMAZING auction. 100% of the proceeds will go to bringing her home and it’s only “live” for the next 24 hours. Here’s a little sample of what you’ll find there:
I had noticed him getting more and more tired before the snowy night I drove him to the emergency room.
Although he had been to several doctors, no one had caught anything. Ten hours after waiting in the emergency room, we were sent home. Even the stress test the next day showed nothing. By chance a doctor called the house encouraging my husband to go to the hospital. He found a hint of a problem in the test results and was concerned.
The attendants joked and laughed as they wheeled him away, assuring me that it this was super routine and that they would come get me shortly. I will never forget the sound of lonely footsteps returning across the hospital floor and the less than joking face that greeted me to take me to the doctors.
And this is what they found. My husband has an unusual genetic problem. He has inherited a weird gene that keeps his cholesterol from breaking down. At 35 he had failing arteries and the doctors began to lay out possible plans. Amazed doctors and nurses shook their heads. It was an outright miracle that my husband’s life had been spared. Although he was the worst case our 70-something cardiologist has in his well- established practice, he miraculously suffered no heart attack even though a main artery failed.
Eight months later they tell us to treat it like cancer. Normal medicines, exercise, and diet are not working. They begin to look for rare medicines rarely produced. And they make plans for our kids to be tested, too. We are not out of the woods and know subsequent surgeries as time progresses are a possibility.
Yes, everything changed that night.
Everything changed because we brushed up against heaven. In an instant, we realized how close heaven is to all of us. A step away. One tiny, little step.
Now I suddenly count my blessings every time he walks in the door. Every time I hold his hand. Every moment good or bad is a treasured paint stroke on this beautiful canvas we call life. Watching a game of catch between father and son is suddenly a treasure. The sight of my eight year old dancing with her father in the kitchen is pure beauty.
When all of this happened, we were not strangers to the idea of making every moment count. We had thrown all our chips in with God more than once. Sometimes with easy-to-spot rewards, but often with rewards only understood after the sting of perceived failure subsided.
But in the days and months since that snowy night, I am aware that God is moving. My heart broke open and out came a tumbling of humanity and fear. Thinking myself bold and adventurous, I had not realized how I was allowing fear of the future to take my hand and be my companion. I didn’t even recognize its nearness anymore.
But, I can’t look away. It’s seems a microscope has been held up to my heart and I am suddenly unable to dismiss the tiring tug of war between fear and faith in my heart. The future feels frightening and unknown. Even more than it used to. I can’t ignore my over-processing of every possible danger. Or fearing the worst in every event. I know the Lord is calling me to step out in faith in areas of my life and yet I step back in hesitation.
Yet the Father is kindly wooing me.
He is gently speaking to me and asking me to leave my perceived safety of pride, fear and self-protection. He is asking me to come into His embrace and receive the love and peace of this gentle Shepherd-God.
My heart, with so many layers of orphan identity still intact, is terrified even as it desperately longs for the heavenly Father’s embrace.
Each day I am choosing to trust myself and my loved ones to this story He is creating. Allowing Him to paint His way. Not shielding myself by anticipating the worst but receiving His promise of goodness with faith.
Choosing to be persuaded that God is truly my loving ally and full of kindness toward me. I am looking forward to seeing His best in my life.
Knowing that He is more kind and more full of love than I can fathom. And that nothing will separate me from that love. Nothing.
And this masterpiece he is creating is extraordinary.
Sarah Patrick is an ordinary woman living the extraordinary journey of a God-led life. She is married to the most amazing man, Eric, and together they are raising a house full of cuties. She loves to ride horses, listen to and play music, and write semi-regularly from her corner of the world over at The Patrick Palooza. Her deepest desire is to find a way to make a lasting impact on the fatherless, fearful, and hopeless.
In 2009, I struck up a friendship with a girl in my nursing school class. We shared this dream to practice nursing overseas, one that led us to Uganda, where coincidence after coincidence found us fostering five precious children. That friendship was forged over sleepless nights and children nearly dying and spiders and a roof that caved in and afternoon tea on the porch. But perhaps the sweetest part of that year for her was the man who steadily pursued her heart via Skype and email and eventually became her husband.
Their wedding was gorgeous and soon the most beautiful baby boy was born. But the daddy loves his country and his country asked for one more year. A year away from his wife and seven months away from his son. He took it all in stride and she held together bravely. Baby learned to love the sound of his daddy’s voice on Skype.
Then word came that he was coming home. Late at night, the gym filled with families waiting to be complete, we waited.
This blog community has hugely blessed me over the years. Many of you have walked along with me since the early Uganda days…now three years ago. The last two years have been intense and for that reason, this blog space has been a bit quieter. The quiet isn’t over, but I needed to share some really special news with you all.
If you’re new to this space, these posts will give a good backdrop to this new season of my life:
Not Right Now | Waiting | How Wounds Can Heal Us | To Love In Uncertainty
So, here’s the news. This summer, I had the opportunity to travel abroad with a friend who is adopting two children. We rolled into the village where her children live and I prayed, “God please don’t let any babies be brought to the ophanage while I’m here. I don’t want to have to ask you about them right now. I’m content.” And, wouldn’t you know? No babies were brought to the orphanage that week, but a little girl was planted firmly in my heart.
Now there have been many times in the past when I’ve prayed about adoption. These foster children who have come in and out of my home keep my heart very open to the possibility. With each one, I pray, “Is this the one?“. That means I’ve asked the question 19 times. Each time, the answer has been “not yet“.
But this child. This situation. This deep knowing in the bottom of my heart. This feeling that I’ve known her forever. This is different.
So yes. I’m in the process of adopting a little girl.
This is as surprising to me as it is to you. I’m single. I only have a tiny bit of savings. I don’t know how long it will take or how all of the details will come together, but this is what I do know: I will not stop waiting and praying and going until she is home.
Her country is one where the adoption process can be long and unpredictable, so I am prepared to live there. Many doors have already been opened to allow this to happen and I am grateful that we will be able to be together for much of the waiting. I have already missed out on 4 years of her life, so each minute now is precious. Right now, the plan is to go be with her in early September so long as I have the funds. I still need about
$18, 000 $10,200 which is crazy overwhelming, but everything so far in this process has given me complete confidence that God is the one who has placed this little one in my heart and He will be faithful to place her in my home.
There will be several giveaways coming up over the next few months and my little Etsy shop is becoming my main way to save for “Little E”, which is what I’ll call her here until she’s home. If you would like to donate something to be used as an auction/giveaway item to raise money, please contact me! I have been so encouraged by the way my family, friends, and community have responded to the news of Little E. My heart is overwhelmed with love for her and eager to finish the process of bringing her home.
Thank you for being a part of this story!
P.S. This absolutely does NOT mean the end of my work as a foster mom. As soon as Little E is settled and our attachment feels secure, I am eager to dive back into this world of foster care again. In the meantime, Baby Moses is still with me. After a month together, I’m dreading the day he leaves, but so eager to put him in the arms of his forever family.
He started making eye contact a few days ago and when that happens, it’s impossible to not fall in love with the little boy whose big eyes stare at me over the bottle day after night after day. I tell him that he’s perfect, that someone is praying for him right now, begging that the next phone call will bring the news that their baby is ready. He grabs my finger and I tell him he’s so strong and that one day, maybe he’ll use that strength to fight for the ones who are waiting for families.
It’s impossible to hold one of these waiting ones or to look into the eyes of the ones I love across the ocean and not think, “Are there children out there waiting – right now – for me?” My friends walk off those airplanes with sons and daughters, beautiful and tall, whose eyes tell a story of long years spent waiting. And I’ve been there – lived there – long enough to witness their waiting. I know the ones who have watched friend after friend walk away with their new family and one of them scoots up next to me and says, “Will my family come next?”
So to keep my heart from breaking and theirs from growing hard, I take their faces in my hands and say it over and over and over. You’re beautiful. You’re loved. You were created on purpose. I tell her that she is loved – that this God she reads stories about is real and He’s a Father to us all, but especially to the ones who wait. I tell him that there are things in life that hurt us and if they hurt us they hurt Him, too. They can talk to Him like a Father.
On Mother’s Day this year, I tiptoed into the hospital nursery and scooped up one of the tiniest ones who was waiting. Just a few weeks later, I got to tell her forever mommy and daddy that I held her that day, told her they were coming, and prayed she would feel safe.
And I pray almost daily that there is someone doing the same for my children who might be waiting out there. I pray that someone is tucking them into a bed at night and kissing their foreheads and treating them with respect. I pray that when they look into the eyes of their caregivers, they see delight and safety reflected there. I pray that if they are alone, He would fill them with an unexplainable confidence that this is not their forever – that someone will come for them.
Isn’t that what our Father did for us? While we were waiting, He made a way for us to know that this is not out forever.
So while they wait for me and I wait for them and this little boy in my arms is waiting for someone else and I’m sure you’re waiting for something, too, let’s cling to the truth that this waiting is not forever and that the Father who planned our lives is good even when the minutes and hours aren’t. He promised.
Maybe your waiting looks different. Maybe you’re waiting for a new job or for a spouse to come home from deployment or for school to start or for your child to attach to you fully or maybe just for the baby to finally fall asleep. If, like me, you just need to be reminded over and over that He is good, pop on over to this little Instagram space where my friend posts daily lifelines to the Father who keeps His promises.
Jen is one of my favorite people in the world. This whole family, actually, brings me so much joy. Earlier this year, we met at their house for a freezing outdoor session of family pictures and as they pictures show, they LOVE each other so well. One of the things that has most blessed me about this family is their transparency and vulnerability when it comes to growing in Jesus. I always come away from time with them feeling incredibly loved by God and safe with His people. Naturally I’m delighted to share this friend with you…
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
We sit across from each other in our sun room, hot and sweaty from a work out and she is crying, frustrated, and had just finished yelling at me. I am shaking a bit and mad and not sure where this is going. I am asking my Father, what should I say? How should I feel? Where is this going? I know she is not this mad about a work out. Father, please give me the words.
We sit in silence for a bit and then the words come.
How long will you punish me for a choice your birth mother made? I am surprised it even came out of my mouth, but it did. My Addie girl put her head down and wept. I continued to pray and talk about it. How hard it must be to have others make such huge decisions for her. She eventually looked up right at my eyes and said “I am mad at her and I have been taking it out on you.”
Father, thank you for leading me. I went on to reassure her I will never give up on her and that I am committed to her until the day I die. These words are not only for her but for me, too.
As I have painfully watched Adanech continue to live with an orphaned spirit, God has shown me that I live with the same one. I live as though I am an orphan without a Father who loves me and hears me and wants to help me. Even after three years, I watch Addie run from me when she is in pain or trying to sneak food. She still lives as an orphan, sometimes. I often tell her that she is exhibiting behavior of an orphan and remind her that she is anything but that. “You are my daughter, my child.” I tell her. For me, when the rejection comes and I am broken, in pain, I run from God. That is also behavior of an orphan. I am an adopted daughter of God the Father. I am learning in each moment to lean into him, to run to him, to believe Him when he says He hears me. To know that He is thinking of me makes me cry writing these words: ”It is just to unbelievable….He thinks of me…really!”
This eleven year old daughter of mine has given me a glimpse into my Father’s heart that I’ve never experienced. She is such a gift. As I heal and walk closer with my Father, I see her healing right along with me. She needs to see me live without an orphan spirit. The more I heal, the more I love, the more I see his fingerprints over every inch of it. As I speak truths to her, God is speaking them to me.
Me: Adanech, you are my daughter you are my child
God: Jen, you are mine, I came for you.
Me: Adanech, you are no longer an orphan, you are not alone.
God: Jen, you will not walk through this world aimlessly, you are my daughter, you will never walk alone.
and so on…
Wow, wow, wow! The tears, the pain, the sin revealed, the brokenness, the desperation. It is all so worth it, so worth it. Because every once in a while I see a real smile, I get a hug full of love, I get honesty and I see joy, real joy beaming through those beautiful dark eyes. My Father knew before time began that she would be mine and that through her He would show me that I am His.
To read other contributions to the You Are Not Alone series, click here
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