Sunday, December 5, 2010

Mikaela can sit up!

Mikaela hit a big milestone this past week. She can sit up all by herself now! We are so proud of her. We have been hoping that she would be sitting up and crawling by Christmas, and she just might make it. She spends a lot of time on her hands and knees, rocking and looking around. Sometimes she even takes one to two "crawl steps."

Friday, November 5, 2010

Mikaela at Halloween

It is late, and I need to get to bed, because the kids wake up early, but I want to post a few pictures of Mikaela's first American Halloween.

She was a little cowgirl, and she had a great time.

It was cold that evening, so she spent the whole time wrapped in a blanket, and no one even saw her costume. I guess it is a good thing we got pictures.

She is getting so much stronger! She could not push up like this a few months ago.

Here she is with her Daddy. This is the only shot we have of her full costume.

This is my favorite shot from the evening. She isn't usually this serious, but this is a great shot to see how pretty she is.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

These are the pictures that should have been included in the most recent post. I don't know why it didn't work the first time.

This is Mikaela during one of her breathing treatments.

Mikaela and Gabriela with their grandparents

Mikaela playing pat-a-cake with Great-Aunt Bev

Mikaela, Gabriela, and Josiah with their little cousin, Jason

Although life is very busy with three children under the age of three, Mikaela continues to thrive and grow. She is still gaining weight and is just about on the growth charts now. Cognitively and socially, she is pretty much at an age-appropriate level, although very near the bottom of the range. Verbally she is very, very slightly delayed. Her motor skills still need a lot of work, but she is making progress in those areas as well. We are so proud of her, and both forget that there was a time when she wasn't part of our family. We made a trip out to PA to visit with Greg's family, and it was her first big road trip. She did really well for about four-and-a-half hours of the five-hour trip. The last half hour was really hard on all three kids, and both girls screamed pretty much the whole time. Once we got there, they all did great. Mikaela was a huge hit with extended family members who hadn't had a chance to meet her yet, and I am including some pictures of that trip. Mikaela caught Gabriela's cold right about the time we got to PA, but she was a good sport about the stuffy head and runny nose. While we were out there, however, Mikaela developed a very bad case of croup. We spent most of the night up with her trying to decide if we needed to take her to the emergency room. Finally between steam and cold air, we did manage to get her through the night, but she didn't ever recover like she should have. Once we got back home, we took her to see the pediatrician, and we found out that we had a pretty sick little girl. Mikaela's cold had turned into an ear infection and resulted in some fluid in her lungs. In addition, she was still struggling with the croup. They put her on three different types of medication, including breathing treatments with a nebulizer and told us to come back in a week. Fortunately, that did the trick, and she is now fully healthy. We are so happy to have our happy, healthy baby girl back with us again. We also had Mikaela dedicated at our church this past Sunday. She had been baptized in her home country, so our church decided to dedicate her instead, re-affirming her previous baptism, emphasizing our responsibilities as her parents, and welcoming her into our congregation. It was a very nice little ceremony. I don't have the pictures of that yet; I think they are on my Dad's camera. I will try to get them soon.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

We are still here

Hello to all. As we mentioned back in May, we decided to switch over to a private blog while we were in Europe so that we could share the details of Mikaela's adoption a bit more freely. We did maintain that blog while we were in country, so if you did not get the login information for that and would like to read the details about our trip, feel free to email us at, and we will be happy to send you the login information. Now that we are home, we can go back to using this blog. Our goal will be to keep both blogs updated, so most of the posts will be identical. To bring you all up to speed, I will give a really quick summary of the last few months.

Near the end of May, we flew to Eastern Europe. As we shared with you then, we were still short of the funding that we needed, and we were trusting God to provide everything for us. We are convinced that we were right to follow God even without knowing where His provision would come from, but we realized shortly after arriving in Europe that we had been very wrong not to communicate this information to our facilitators. We had never intended to be dishonest, but by not telling them how far short we were of the funds that we needed, we put them in a very difficult spot and jeopardized Mikaela's entire adoption. As a matter of fact, one of our facilitators told us that if we could not raise $7800 that day, he would send us back to America. We were devastated. We had already come to love Mikaela like our two bio children, and could not stand the thought of loosing her. We called my parents and begged them to pray, and they sent out an urgent plea for help. We couldn't imagine any way to raise that much money in one day, but God is very gracious. The members of our church banded together to raise that entire amount, and other friends and family raised the rest of the funds that we would need while we were in country. Rather than being angry with us, Reece's Rainbow even helped us raise a good bit of the money that we were lacking. We were so humbled and awed by God's mercy and the love that His people showed to us. We will never forget His goodness or the lessons that he taught us that day. Once we got through that initial crisis, we had a wonderful time in Mikaela's home country. We have wonderful memories of almost every day, and I am already wanting to go back. I think it will take Greg a little longer to get there, but he had a wonderful time too. The food was delicious, the people were kind and gracious, and the city was beautiful.

We returned home on July 2, and Mikaela has slipped into American life like she has been here from the beginning. She is a delight and a treasure. We can hardly imagine life without her. She has seen quite a few doctors since coming home, and most of the news has been very good. She had no parasites, no hepatitis (A, B, or C), no other diseases, and her heart condition seems to have resolved itself without surgery. We are so thankful for this. She does have hypothyroidism, but that is easy to control with medication. She is gaining weight and getting happier every day. She celebrated her first birthday on August 1, and we are so thankful to have been able to share that milestone with her.

That covers the highlights, and I will include a few pictures of our beautiful girl if I can figure out how to do that. Okay, I did get the pictures to post, but they are at the beginning, not the end of the blog. I have gotten so used to Wordpress, that it will take a little time for me to adjust to blogger again. Sorry about that. From now on, we will try to post all updates on both blogs.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Praying for the Lord's Provision

This has been a rather difficult week for us. As we have mentioned before, one of our central prayers over the past four-and-a-half months has been that God would provide funds as we need them, and that nothing about the adoption would be delayed even by a single day because of a lack of money. As we have also said before, He has never failed to answer this prayer. The closest we have ever come to being unable to complete a step because we couldn't pay the required sum was back in February when we were preparing to submit our application to USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) for permission to travel outside the country for the purpose of completing an adoption. (For all of you adoption veterans, this was the all-important submission of the I-600A.) In that particular instance, He sent us the money the day before we needed it, giving us just a little bit of breathing room. Part of us longs for that kind of comfort right now.

We received notice of our first appointment in Mikaela's home country two weeks ago today, and we have been praying earnestly since then for the rest of the funds that we will need to complete her adoption. For days, nothing happened, but we didn't panic because God had shown Himself so faithful throughout this whole process, and because we knew that we didn't have to act immediately. We were extremely grateful when several donations arrived late last week, even though we were still considerably short of what we would eventually need. But we knew that we still had time before the money would actually be needed, and so we again did our best to remain patient and wait on the Lord's timing. On Monday morning, we both felt very peaceful and upbeat about everything, until we saw that there were still no more funds for Mikaela. Then, the urgency of our need descended upon us, and it became very difficult not to despair. We set aside some time that morning to pray together, and by that evening we were both doing better, although our desperation had become acute. God encouraged us again through some friends of ours who have been an incredible support over the past few months, and we awoke on Tuesday morning feeling very encouraged. That was the case all the way through yesterday afternoon, but when yesterday evening arrived and God still had not sent anything major, despair began to set in again. We began this morning in a hopeful mood, but that dissipated quickly when He again was silent. That silence temporarily paralyzed us, as we didn't know where to go. We have been diligently and earnestly—though by no means perfectly—seeking His will, especially over the past two weeks. Repeatedly we have sensed Him telling us simply to wait for His timing, and His history of provision served to encourage us in waiting. And we are not talking only about His past dealings with us during Mikaela's adoption, but His faithfulness in continuing to provide for the work of The Shepherd's Crook and His great faithfulness to His people as recorded in Scripture. And now, it seemed that our attempts to follow His leading had led us to a dead end, with no visible way out. We still cannot imagine how we are supposed to finish this adoption and bring Mikaela home, but we know that she is our daughter, and thus she belongs here with us and not in the orphanage. So, we are moving forward, even though we don't know what God has in store for us. His silence from earlier today is starting to lift, and so we are taking the next steps. We are going to book our flights tonight, and we are praying earnestly that He will continue to supply what we need from this point forward. It's more than a little scary to take such a step into the unknown, but as this is where God is leading us, there is nowhere else for us to go. We would not turn our back on our daughter, and we would not refuse to follow the Lord. It's not for us to know how He is going to work in the coming days; our only duty at the moment is to trust and obey.

Please pray with us that our Heavenly Father will graciously supply what we need to bring Mikaela home. It's not easy to trust Him in the midst of such an intense trial, but that is what we are to do. If the Psalmists and the author of Lamentations can praise God out of the depths of their despair, then certainly we ought to do likewise. So, please pray also that we will not harden our hearts, that we will honor Him in how we conduct ourselves, and that our trust in Him would not give way to hopelessness. We are asking Him to open the flood gates and pour down on us what He knows we need. We are praying for a miracle.

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,

for my hope is from Him.

He only is my rock and my salvation,

my fortress; I shall not be shaken.

On God rests my salvation and my glory;

my mighty rock, my refuge is God.

Trust in Him at all times, O people;

pour out your heart before Him;

God is a refuge for us.

— Psalm 62:5-8

In Him,

Greg & Kristie

Tax-deductible donations may be made towards Mikaela's adoption by sending a check made payable to The Shepherd's Crook Ministries to P.O. Box 773, West Chester, OH 45071, or by using PayPal on-line at Just be sure to designate the funds for Mikaela Colleen Godwin.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A new blog

I just re-read my last post, and realized that it didn't come close to communicating the excitement that Greg and I are feeling right now at this point in our adoption process. I think part of that was because, as I was typing it I was focused on Gabriela, but a bigger part of it was probably that the news still hadn't sunk all the way in for either one of us. Now it is seeming more and more real that we are just about to travel and meet our daughter. Our minds are racing in so many directions. We are thinking about travel, and trying to figure out how to wrap our minds around everything that needs to be done. We are also thinking about the kids, and trying to find ways to make this as easy as possible for them. We are trying to get a picture of what still needs to be done for the adoption. And mixed in with all of this, we are starting to imagine what it will be like to meet our daughter for the first time. Will she be afraid of us? Will she like to be held? Will she be social and affectionate, or reserved and timid? We long for that meeting, but we also dread having to leave her in the orphanage day after day.

Now that we are about to leave, we are switching over to a password-protected blog, so that we can be more open with all of the information about our trip. If you would like to follow that blog, just send us an email, ( ) and we will be happy to send you a user-name and password. We will probably still update this blog from time to time, but most of our posts will be on the new blog.

We are so excited to be at this point in our adoption, and we are thankful to have so many supportive people following our story.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Wonderful News!

We have a court date! We are scheduled for Tuesday May 25th at noon, which means we will fly to Europe around the 22nd. We might leave a little earlier, since flights are often more expensive over the weekend. We will try to write more later. We are very happy, but our heads are spinning. I am also trying to type with one hand while I am holding Gabriela with the other, so it will be a little easier later. Please keep praying for us.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The End Is Near

We got some very exciting news yesterday morning: our dossier has been submitted! That means that we are now only three to six weeks away from our first court date in-country, and we cannot wait for that. Even though it hasn't yet been four months since we first learned of Mikaela, it seems like we have been working on this adoption for much longer. All of the little setbacks that have arisen along the way have stretched the last three and a half months into what feels like at least a year. But, we are now—we think, we hope—officially done with the paperwork on this end. Kristie commented recently that where we are now is very reminiscent of what it feels like to have just crossed the 37-week mark of a pregnancy; probably nothing will happen for a few weeks yet, but we still have to be ready to leave for the hospital—or, in this case, Eastern Europe—at any time. This is especially true since we have heard that families adopting from this country have lately been getting notice of their court date as little as five days before, which leaves almost no time for packing. So, we have begun our preparations, both for leaving and for coming home. Our packing is now underway, with one of the new bags we bought almost completely packed and ready to go. We have a new car seat for Mikaela, which is sitting in her room waiting for her. Also awaiting her arrival is her crib, which at last is ready for use once again. (Josiah generously left some teeth marks on the crib rails, as he employed his crib temporarily as a chew toy, and so we had to refinish those pieces.) We are going to spend this week continuing to get ourselves ready, as we want to be prepared to leave to get Mikaela as soon as we have to, and without much scrambling at the last minute. The last thing we want to do before embarking on this trip is to spend two or three days flying around trying desperately not to forget anything as we cram our suitcases full of our belongings. Doesn't seem to me like the best way to start a trip, if it can be at all avoided. So, please keep praying, both for us and for Mikaela as she waits for us in her orphanage. I keep wondering how she's doing, but never having been in an orphanage myself, I can't really begin to imagine. We're praying for her health and her comfort—as much of either as she can have right now—while she waits in her bed. I wish that someone could tell her, and that she could understand, that her Mommy and Daddy will be coming for her soon, but that seems impossible. Maybe she would be able to comprehend this, but I don't know whether anyone would tell her, anyway. So, we continue to wait and to pray, though now with the knowledge that we are one major step closer to having our whole family together in one place.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Quick Update

Sorry for the delay -- we did get our paper redone on Wednesday. We went to Columbus on Thursday and had the apostille affixed to it, and then sent it to Europe. It should have arrived yesterday, and we are still hoping that our documents will be submitted this week.

On Wednesday, Greg re-drafted his employment letter, and then my dad and I went to the bank to have it notarized (there are some definite advantages to the fact that my husband works for my dad :) ). It was quick and painless. Then I took the employment letter to the Clerk of Courts to have it county certified. At first, the girl behind the desk couldn't find the notary's name in the system, but after some patience, she discovered that it had been entered under the notary's first name instead of the last name as it should have been. Once she found the name, she gave me the certification right away, so other than a little bit of lost time, there was no trouble with this step either. Once we got home Wednesday evening, we packed our suitcases and got ready to leave town. We had already made plans to spend the weekend in PA with Greg's family so that we could meet our brand new nephew.

Thursday morning we got up early, loaded the car, and hit the road. Fortunately, Columbus is right on the way to PA. We drove the nearly two hours to Columbus, and arrived about 11:00. We got our apostille with no trouble, and walked to the post office less than half a mile away. We didn't know that the post office was in a Federal Building, and we had to walk through medical detectors just to get to the postal counter. We discussed the possibility of having me wait outside with the kids, but we decided that it would be good practice for the airport. There was a bit of a line, but once we got to the detectors, we got through without any incident. We mailed our package, walked back to the car, and left Columbus about two hours after we had arrived. We had hoped to be there less than an hour. We then stopped to get lunch for the kids, and drove the three remaining hours to Greg's parents house. Gabriela screamed for over an hour of the trip, but we did make it to PA, and we had a wonderful trip.

Now we are just waiting to hear that our papers have been submitted. Please pray that this will happen soon, and that God will provide for us. We are very near the point of needing money for travel and fees, and we don't have it at this point. Thanks for your prayers and support.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Some bad news

We got a little bit of bad news today, which is discouraging after the good news yesterday. Apparently, there is a problem with Greg's employment letter, and we have to have it redone. We got the letter, notarized it, and county certified it today. Tomorrow, we will apostille it, and send it on to Europe. We are trying to figure out the fastest way to get it to Europe, and we are hoping that this will not slow our process down much at all. Please pray that we can get it there very, very quickly, and that our team in country will be able to continue translating the rest of the documents so that our dossier will be ready to submit as soon as this one piece arrives.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Great News!

This will be very short tonight, because we are very tired and busy as always, but we have a little bit of news we want to share. Our dossier is in Eastern Europe! This is a whole day ahead of schedule, and we are very excited. Please join us in praying that it will be translated quickly and submitted soon. It should be submitted some time next week, probably on Thursday. We are asking God to shave a few more days off of the process by allowing it to be submitted a little earlier in the week, and we are thanking and praising him for how quickly everything has happened so far.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Celebrating and Waiting

Well, as you might have guessed from the title of this post, we did indeed get our dossier sent off to Eastern Europe, but it has been a more challenging and tiring experience than we were hoping for. Greg last posted on Sunday, so I will back up to the weekend and start there.

Saturday was a great day. My parents kept the kids so that Greg and I could have an all-day date, and it was wonderful. We bought a car seat for Mikaela and a stroller for Josiah to use while we are in Europe. We had been reading car seat reviews for weeks by that point and feel confident that we have chosen a seat that will be safe and comfortable for her from the very beginning and for years to come.

Sunday was another great day. My brother had been in California for the last three months, and he came home on Saturday evening. We spent most of the day Sunday at my parents' house just enjoying his company and catching up with him. He and Josiah are great friends, and once Josiah had a few minutes to adjust to Allan being home again, he had a blast with his uncle.

On Monday we hit the ground running hard. As Greg mentioned, we found mistakes in quite a few of our forms, and Monday was the day we finally resolved most of that. A friend of ours is a doctor, and he agreed to re-do our medical forms. We posted previously that there was a mistake in Greg's form, but most of you don't know that we also found a mistake in my form quite a bit later. This doctor graciously agreed to redo our forms, and then redo them again... and again. We finally got them right on the fifth attempt for Greg's and the third attempt for mine. Thank goodness for our friend's patience! Another friend of ours is a notary, and she had agreed to coordinate with this doctor to get the forms notarized without even asking us to be in the middle at all. On Monday she finally had the correct forms from this doctor and notarized them for us. On Monday morning I met this notary at the Clermont county clerk of courts to get our documents county certified. This is a strange extra step that is required in Ohio. First, documents must be notarized, then the documents must be taken to the clerk of courts in the county where the notary is registered, and an additional form must be attached that certifies the notary really is registered in the county. Then the document must be taken to the state capital where another form, called an apostille, is attached certifying that the county clerk of courts really did certify the notary. The clerk of courts for this county was an hour's drive away, but I got the forms with no problem. I then returned to my end of town and spent the afternoon checking and organizing forms and emailing our home study agency trying to get three more forms that we needed from them. That evening, we celebrated my sister Meghan's birthday. That was a lot of fun, but we were up a bit later than we should have been that night.

Tuesday morning we got up, dropped Josiah off at my parents' house, and took Gabriela up with us to Columbus. We took a slightly longer route to Columbus, because we had to stop by Madison County to certify two more of our documents. Once we got to Columbus, we parked in a parking garage and walked to a bank to get out the cash we needed for our apostilles. We then promptly got lost. Columbus is a beautiful, clearly-laid-out city, and I am not quite sure how we managed to get lost, but we did. We spent almost an hour and a half wandering around the city before we finally arrived at our home study agency to pick up our forms. We had expected the forms would be ready for us, but they were not. It turns out that they hadn't understood exactly what we needed. A few quick phone calls later, we were able to explain exactly what we needed from them. They drafted, printed, signed, and notarized the forms, and we were on our way. By this point, it was almost three thirty, and Gabriela was crying for her afternoon feeding. We decided that I would stop by the library and feed her (they had lovely benches outside) while Greg took our documents to the Secretary of State's office. We knew that was where we needed to get the apostilles, and we were hoping that they would also be able to give us the county certifications for Franklin county there. Greg stopped by the park bench with me to go through the forms one more time to make sure he understood exactly what to do with each form, and then he set off. About 20 minutes later, I followed him with a much happier Gabriela. Just about the time I arrived at the Secretary of State's office, I ran into Greg leaving. Everyone at the office had been very helpful, but they had told him that he needed to get the county certifications at a different building .8 of a mile away. We had almost an hour before the Secretary of State's office closed, so we should still have plenty of time. Only three documents needed that certification, so they were going to work on apostilles for the rest of them while he ran to get those certified. I went in to the Secretary of State's to wait for him to return. It took him about 15 minutes to walk to the other building, so he still thought he could make it back on time. He was directed to an office with a very long line, and began to wait and pray. After 20 minutes, he finally made it to the front of the line, only to be told that he was in the wrong office. Once he finally found the right office, he got the certifications quickly, but was almost out of time. By running a good bit of the way back, he made it to the office four minutes before five, and we did get all of our documents apostilled. We drove home exhausted but happy. We stopped at my parent's house to pick Josiah up and went back to our apartment. Once we put Josiah to bed, we checked all the forms again, preparing to pack them up so we could mail them on our way to work the next morning. As we were sorting through them, we found mistakes in two of the forms from the home study agency. We couldn't believe it! How had we missed them before? The only thing we could imagine is that we were so distracted by Gabriela and how much she needed to eat that we weren't paying enough attention to catch the mistakes. The only way to fix them was to drive the two hours to Columbus again.

My parents agreed to keep the kids for us again the next day, so we dropped them off early in the morning and drove back to Columbus. We had been crushed the night before, but by Wednesday morning, we were doing much better. God had reminded us that He does have a reason for everything, even if He doesn't choose to show us what that reason is. His mercies truly are new every morning, and we had resolved to enjoy the time together and continue working to bring our daughter home. Things went much better Wednesday than they had gone on Tuesday. We didn't get lost. Our agency had everything ready for us when we arrived. We didn't have to run anywhere. All in all, it was a good day. By lunch time, we were done in Columbus and heading back to the Cincinnati area. We checked and rechecked the documents and this time, everything looked fine. So, yesterday afternoon we sent our dossier off. We had planned to go out to a restaurant for a celebration, but we were too tired. We got carry-out and watched an old episode of Diagnosis: Murder. It was exactly what we needed, and we went to bed at 8:30.

Today, Mikaela is 8 months old, and tomorrow it will be three months since we began her adoption. God has been very gracious. We are thanking Him and still praying earnestly that He will continue to protect our daughter and provide all of the funds we need to bring her home.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Almost There . . .

*Sigh* Okay. We are almost done with the biggest chunk of paperwork in this process. Believe it or not, we encountered several more setbacks with our dossier in the past week-and-a-half. Our hope was to have our dossier complete and waiting so that as soon as we received our 171H, we could have apostilles affixed to our documents and put it all in the mail immediately. Well, our dossier came this past Wednesday—an enormous answer to prayer in and of itself—and we are praying that we'll be able to mail our dossier on Tuesday. A full half-dozen of the documents we thought were ready for apostilles have had to be re-done, and we are going to track down the last of these tomorrow, Lord willing. It has been a surreal roller coaster ride lately, but God has shown Himself, yet again, to be faithful and sovereign over all of this. Every time that something gets held up for one reason or another, I have to remind myself that the Lord is directing this entire process and that I need to trust Him to work out the timing in a way that will be best for everyone. It seems to us, at first glance, that the very best way for this to play out would be for Mikaela to come home to us as soon as possible, but that does not seem to be God's will for this. If things continue to move at this pace, she will still come home comparatively quickly, and I am in no way trying to overlook that fact. We know a number of families who have labored for years to bring their child home, and we are grateful that God appears to have spared us and Mikaela from such a long, drawn-out process. The setbacks that we've had, though, have meant that she won't be coming home as quickly as she could have. Looking at everyone involved, I can see now that waiting a few more weeks to get Mikaela will probably be better for our bio kids, as they're now that much older and better able to handle all of the things that will be thrown at them in the coming weeks. In some ways, the hardest part of this entire process has been learning to open my heart to God's will, and leaving it so, something that is especially hard knowing that our little girl is waiting for us nearly half-way around the world. Hopefully by the end of the day on Tuesday, we'll be much closer to having her here with us, where she belongs.

Our Apologies

We need to apologize to everyone who has commented on our blog posts thus far. Only recently did we realize that people could make comments on our posts, so we weren't watching out for those at first. Please forgive us; we're neophytes when it comes to the world of blogs! Our goal is to respond to your comments this afternoon, so keep an eye out for those, and thanks for following our story and praying along with us for Mikaela's speedy homecoming.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Learning to Be Thankful

Everyone who read Kristie's post from last week knows what a hard time we had two Mondays ago as we attempted to apply for passports for our bio kids and to get our medical forms notarized at the doctors' office. If you have not yet read about this, you really should, partially because I am not going to revisit those events in detail, and partially because it is an excellent blow-by-blow account of how that day unfolded. I don't think that I have ever been through a day quite like that before, and even though it was extremely trying, I'm grateful that we went through it all. And that's not something that I would have said that Monday evening. Allow me to explain.

As the number of roadblocks continued to pile up, I became increasingly frustrated with the way that the day was going. It seemed that at every turn we were being prevented from accomplishing what we had set out to do, and I was getting angry. By the end of the day, I had became rather irritable and a bit withdrawn, convinced that my frustration was justifiable. Looking back over everything that happened, however, I don't think that it was. Monday wasn't the first time in the past few weeks that we have encountered opposition in our efforts to bring Mikaela home as soon as possible. The obstacles might have been more intense and more numerous on that particular day—though perhaps they seemed to be more intense because of how many things happened within those eight hours—but we had already been through several roadblocks by the time Monday morning dawned. In fact, we had to overcome a few more obstacles later in the week, and that got me thinking about how I was handling myself. As far as we can tell, the opposition that we have felt since we began Mikaela's adoption six weeks ago has been satanic in origin. This makes sense, as we are seeking to follow God's lead onto a path full of potential setbacks and dangers that we cannot foresee, all for the sake of rescuing a little girl from a poor orphanage and from life in an institution, a life lived outside of a covenant family and thus perhaps a life spent without ever having heard the Gospel. When I considered more carefully what all this meant, I realized that I had been wrong to stay so frustrated with how frequent the setbacks had become. In Acts 5:41 we read that the disciples rejoiced that they had been persecuted because of the Name of the Lord. Not only had these disciples been told to cease their preaching of the Gospel, but they had been beaten for sharing the wonderfully Good News of salvation through Jesus. And their response was not anger or frustration or withdrawing inside themselves to avoid feeling more pain. No, it was to spend every day, both in the temple and in various houses, proclaiming the very thing for which they had just been beaten—the Gospel. They continued to follow God's command to spread the message of Jesus Christ, no matter what it might cost them, and they did it joyfully.

When I take a moment to compare their situation with ours, I cannot help but feel a bit foolish for reacting the way that I did. Even though both we and those early followers faced opposition, their situation was much more dire than ours. The danger of physical harm was obviously present for those men, and it takes no great leap to imagine that the threat of death was not far off, either. Such persecution of Christians was common at numerous points in the first several centuries A.D., and given what happens to Steven at the end of the seventh chapter, the possibility that they could be killed for what they were doing might well have occurred to them. And yet, in spite of that, they pressed on in open defiance of the command given them by the religious officials and continued to obey the Lord, apparently either without fear or with so much joy as to overshadow their fear almost completely. In our situation, we were merely faced with having to run all over town as we had to clear one hurdle after another. There was never any threat of physical danger, and certainly not of martyrdom, in this, and yet I responded with anger and not joy. The day was frustrating, and I will not deny that, though my frustration should have given way to the joy of being in God's service. Rescuing a child from a desperate situation is one way in which the cosmic war between the forces of the Lord and the forces of Satan is being played out in the world around us. Although the war's outcome has been decided, the battles between now and the end are ongoing and fierce, and it is a privilege and an honor to serve the Commander of the heavenly armies in some small way as He works to redeem His creation, and I thank Him for enlisting me. Soli Deo Gloria.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

An awful Monday

Wow, it seems like we aren't very good at this blogging thing. Either we are so busy that we don't have time to write, or things are so calm that there is nothing to write about. Monday was certainly a day to write about, and this is the first opportunity we have had.

Monday was one of those days when nothing seemed to go right at all. We had two tasks to accomplish in addition to our daily routine. We wanted to apply for Josiah's and Gabriela's passports, and we wanted to get our medical forms notarized by our doctors. We thought we could accomplish those two things and still get some work done in the morning and Greg would still be able to teach most of his Latin class in the afternoon. We left our apartment about 9:00 in the morning to drop our computers off at my parents' house and pick Josiah up, because he had spent Sunday night with them. Once we got to my parents' house, we realized that we had left the passport applications and birth certificates at home. We were a little frustrated, but the post office is pretty close to our apartment, so we didn't think it would be a big deal. After getting Josiah ready to go, we drove back to our apartment and picked up the applications. When we got to the post office, we were encouraged to see that the lines weren't as long as we had expected. We waited for a few minutes, and both kids behaved perfectly. Gabriela slept the whole time, and Josiah chattered at us, and smiled and waved at the other people in the post office. Everything seemed to be going so well. When we got up to the counter, the postal worker looked through our application and said that everything looked good, but we needed copies of our driver's licenses. There had to be a copy of the front and back of each license for each application. We asked if we could make copies at the post office, and he directed us to the copier. It cost 15 cents per copy, and the machine only took change. We couldn't find any change, but we did find a 1 dollar bill and a 20 dollar bill after digging through the car and all our pockets and wallets. By this point, the line was a lot longer, but Greg went and stood back in line to ask them to change our money. Once he finally got to the front of the line, the postal worker told him she could break the 1, but didn't have enough change to break the 20. That left us 20 cents short of being able to make all the copies we needed. The only thing we could do was to drive back home and make the copies at our apartment. Once we did that, we drove back to the post office and got in the line again. Once we got to the front of the line for the third time, the worker began processing our applications. He got all the way through Gabriela's and was just beginning Josiah's, when he noticed one more problem. My driver's license had expired last month on my birthday, and he couldn't process their applications until I had a new license. We drove back to my parents' place and dropped the kids off so they could get some lunch and take their naps. Then we drove to the nearest BMV to get a new license. On the way we ran into road work and the consequent detour, and one of the slowest trains I have ever seen. We finally got to the BMV, and after waiting in yet another line, we renewed my license. The only complication was that the laminating machine jammed while trying to print my license, and they had to do it twice. Then we drove back to the post office, used the copier to make copies of my new license, and finally finished the applications for the kids' passports. Needless to say, we didn't get any work done that morning.

We were supposed to meet a friend of ours who is a notary at the doctors' office at 4:00. The doctors have been difficult to work with from the beginning, so we were both a bit concerned about this meeting. Our friend showed up right on time, and she helped us by notarizing a few other forms while we waited for the doctors. We were trying to move quickly, because Greg's Latin class also started at 4:00. He had given the quiz and answer key to the students' parents, and they were covering the class until he could get there. After a few minutes of waiting, Greg's doctor called us back. He was just about to sign the form, and we noticed he had the wrong one. We had dropped off a form with a mistake the first time, and I had gone back the next day with the correct one. Somehow, the form had never been switched in Greg's chart. The doctor was very irritated, and told us outright that it was all our fault. He grudgingly agreed to fill out the correct form (fortunately I had brought an extra copy of the correct form, because we never did find out what had happened to the one I dropped off earlier), and told us to go back to the waiting room while he completed it. Shortly after we sat down, the nurse told us that my doctor was ready, so we went back again. She made it clear that she thought it was stupid for us to ask her to sign in a blue pen, but did agree to do it, as long as we had one for her. (We had 3) About the time my doctor finished, Greg's doctor called us back over to his side of the office. He signed the form quickly, and left to meet with another patient. As soon as he walked away, we discovered that he had not signed one of the forms he was supposed to sign. The notary finished all of her work, and we all stood in the office and waited for more than 15 minutes for the doctor to come back. We were so afraid he would fight us when we told him that he had forgotten to sign a form, but we had to have it. Once he finally came back out, he did agree to sign the form with little more than an irritated eye-roll in our direction, so that was a relief. Then, our notary noticed that there was one line on the form that asked for the office or doctor's seal. She asked us what that was, and if we needed it. The doctor responded, "We don't have a seal," threw our pen back on the counter, and walked away. We decided that since the form was printed on their office letterhead, that would probably count as the office seal, and we left for Greg's Latin class.

He got to class just in time to answer a few questions, give them an assignment for next week, and dismiss them. Fortunately, the students and parents in the class are very, VERY understanding and supportive, and they were not upset at all.

Yesterday, we found out that Greg's doctor had made a small mistake on his form, and it will not be accepted by Mikaela's country at this point. After all that, we have to re-do it. Today, Greg made a few phone calls to try to find another doctor. Neither of us has any desire to go back to the doctors we had been using.

In the midst of all this frustration and discouraging news, there have been a few bright spots. Both our bio kids have been great through it all. Naps and feeding schedules have been chaotic as we have run all over town trying to take care of things, and both of our babies have nasty colds. Even so, they have remained cheerful and pleasant almost the whole time. My parents have been willing to help us out with anything we have needed. They have fed us, kept our kids, listened to us complain, and helped us figure out the complicated mess of adoption paperwork. Perhaps the most wonderful and encouraging thing that happened this week is that we got new pictures of our beautiful baby girl. We will post those soon.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Feeling Mikaela Kick, From Half-Way Around the World

Even though we've been working to bring Mikaela home for two-and-a-half weeks now, the reality of all of this has only started settling in over the last few days. When we stepped out in faith last fall and started working on our home study, we knew that God was leading us to adopt at some point in the (relatively) near future. For a while, we even thought we knew which child He was bringing into our family, but it was only after that possibility fell through that He brought Mikaela to our attention. Through all of our home study work, I found it difficult to stay focused on the things that we had to do in order to be approved to adopt because, at that point, we didn't know which child we were laboring to bring home. We had no face to look at and imagine sitting next to our two bio children. We had no name for the child that God had out there for us. We had no information about the child's medical history. We didn't know how old this child was. We didn't know where this child was. In fact, if it weren't for Kristie's diligence, I'm convinced that we would still be floundering in the early stages of our home study, meaning that Mikaela would be stuck in her orphanage longer than would be ideal. As it is, we're in the early stages of putting our dossier together, and it is still possible that our daughter could join our household by the end of April.

One would think that knowing whom we're adopting would have wrought an immediate change in me, that I would have jumped into this new batch of paperwork with both feet. Alas, that wasn't the case. At least not right away. For the first week or so, I was largely in shock as to how quickly things were moving. There were still a few pieces of our home study that needed to be wrapped up, but I actually had some trouble following through on them. For some reason, it just didn't quite seem real that God had shown us our new daughter, who is currently thousands of miles away. The sensation was not that far from how I felt during each of Kristie's pregnancies. For both Josiah and Gabriela, the reality of it all didn't sink in fully until they grew enough for me to feel them. And when they started kicking and moving around, it became that much sweeter. As of about a week ago, I reached the point where the fact that we are indeed adopting a little, five-and-a-half-month-old baby girl from Eastern Europe finally made its way into my (somewhat thick) head. Now, I'm constantly thinking about our daughter, stuck in a poor orphanage almost half-way around the world, still unaware that there could be a life for her that's different than what she knows now. Every time I change a diaper—whether Josiah's or Gabriela's—when it's not very wet but still needs to be changed because it's been on for several hours, I wonder how long Mikaela has to wait until her diapers are changed. I wonder whether her skin has ever been—or, perhaps more accurately, how frequently—burned by being left in a wet and/or dirty diaper for too long. It makes me sad to think of her little, smiling face enduring that kind of discomfort and pain. I know that many children around the world are treated similarly, and in some cases even worse, but the thoughts of Mikaela's plight are the ones that make my heart sink. That's all the motivation I need to push to get her home as soon as possible.

Right now, I get momentarily paralyzed whenever I take a step back and survey all of the paperwork that still needs to be done, the long trips (or possibly trip) that lie ahead of us, and all of the money that is still needed. (Thankfully, God has given us the first bit of the funds that we need for this, and we praise Him for that!) But then I'm able to focus in on the things that I am responsible for to get her home as quickly as possible. This is not easy, and there is much left to be done, but we are well on our way now, and we cannot wait to meet Mikaela, to hold her, to tell her that we love her, to introduce her to her brother and "twin" sister, to usher her into her new life with us. Hold on, baby girl; we're coming.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Today was one of those rare and wonderful Sundays when the sermon at church addressed the exact topic that had been most prominent in my mind all week.

Since we decided to pursue Mikaela's adoption, I have been striving to find the balance between trusting God to provide all that we need for this adoption and continuing to bring my petitions before Him again and again. I have been thinking about verses that encourage God's people to "be still and know that [he is] God." Greg and I are constantly struck by how little our 18-month-old son trusts us in certain areas. When we all sit down together for a meal, Josiah immediately begins to ask us for his food. When we lay his silverware down so that we can feed ourselves, he asks urgently for his food again. If he can't see us actively preparing to put the next bite in his mouth, he begins to worry that we might not feed him any more. It doesn't matter to him that every day of his life, we have given him as much food as he has needed as soon as he has needed it. He still worries each meal that we might let him leave the table while he is still hungry. I know that we Christians have a tendency to do exactly the same thing to God. No matter how many times He provides for our needs, we start to worry if we are aware of a need and can't yet see Him preparing to meet that need for us. I have tried to be very careful to avoid this sort of a mindset as we wait for him to provide for Mikaela's adoption.

On the other hand, I don't want to take God's provision for granted in this (or any) area. It would be just as serious of a mistake to know that God will provide what we need and then to dismiss it from our minds. In many different passages, God encourages his people to ask Him for the desires of their hearts. I have thought many times this week about the parable of the woman and the unjust judge. She begs the judge for her needs so many times that He finally gives her justice in spite of his own wickedness. We are told to be as persistent as that widow when we ask God for things. How do I bring my requests to God again and again and again with out slipping into the childish tendency to wonder whether He will really meet our needs this time?

Our church has been working through the book of Hebrews, and today the sermon was about praying with confidence and commitment. There was little new information in the sermon, but it helped to solidify many of the things I already knew and to clarify the interaction between our trust in God and our repeated requests of Him.

One of the helpful points in the sermon today was on the importance of praise. That is one element of my prayers that tends to be weak, and has been particularly so over the last week or so. Most of my prayers have focused on Mikaela. Spending more of each prayer focusing on God, and His character and mighty works of the past will help give my prayers some of the balance I have been trying to find. Rather than dwelling on the significance of the need, I will try to focus on the power and goodness of God. I will still acknowledge the need and ask him to meet it, but I think this shift of emphasis will help.

I came away from church this morning more excited and encouraged than I have been in quite a while. I look forward to seeing His mighty works in this situation. I am more aware than ever before of what a privilege it is to participate in His works through the gift of prayer.

Greg and I are praying for a few things specifically in this adoption. We pray that there will never be a point during which the adoption is slowed down because of a lack of funds. We ask that God will provide everything we need for this adoption so that we do not need to incur any debt. We ask that God will keep Mikaela safe and healthy while she waits for us, and we ask that he would have her home safely by the end of April. Please join us in praying for these things and watch with us as God works in this situation.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Waiting Begins

I knew before we began this adoption that the waiting is the hardest part. I have seen my parents complete 13 adoptions at this point, and I have talked to many other people in the midst of an adoption. I think the thing that surprised me is how early in the adoption process the wait becomes agonizing. Greg and I heard about Mikaela yesterday afternoon, and committed to her about 24 hours ago. Already the strain of the wait is wearing on me. In some ways, having Gabriela makes the wait harder, because she keeps Mikaela on my mind so constantly, and because the contrast between their situations is so stark. At several points today, Gabriela has started crying because of something small that was troubling her. Once, her hands were cold. Another time, she wanted to get in her crib with her little stuffed Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet. Several times, she just wanted someone to talk to her. Each time, I thought about Mikaela as I was comforting Gabriela. While I warmed Gabriela's hands, I wondered if Mikaela was cold. When Greg carried Gabriela to her bed for her nap, I thought about her bed with its little quilt and her favorite stuffed animals. I have seen cribs in orphanages many times before, and I know that often they have dirty sheets, plastic bags poking out, and sometimes two or more children sharing a bed. As I lay in the floor talking to Gabriela and reassuring her that we are still here and still care about her, I wondered if Mikaela has given up crying when she is lonely. We have been told that the orphanage caring for Mikaela right now is very poor and not able to care for its children very well. Even in good orphanages, there are never enough workers to hold all the children, and in a poor orphanage, there isn't a chance. I wonder if my little girl is cold at night and hungry during the day. I wonder how long it will take her to learn to trust us to meet her needs once she comes home. After months of not having her needs met, surely that is what she will expect, even once she comes home. Our contact tells us that Eastern European adoptions can move very fast, and that we might have Mikaela home as early as April. I know that is very, very fast for an adoption, and I hope and pray that things will go that well. But I also know that is a very long time for a little girl to be cold and hungry. I pray that God will move this adoption as quickly as possible. I pray that he will provide all the money we need as we need it. And most of all, I pray that he will take care of my baby girl. I am asking Him to help me wait and trust Him to give Mikaela everything she needs. The first day of our wait is now over. I have no idea how many days of waiting still lie ahead of us.

Meet Mikaela

We have been thinking about adoption for quite some time now. Before we were even married, in fact. Both of us have hearts for adoption—especially when special-needs children are involved—and we felt strongly that God's plan for our family would include adoption. We just didn't think that it would happen this soon into our marriage. He has blessed us with two children in our first two-and-a-half years together, but He doesn't appear to be finished adding to our household at this point. For the past eight months or so, we have been convinced that God was leading us to adopt in the very near future. So, we have been praying hard over that time, trying to keep our hearts open to His prompting. We have considered a number of children whom we have learned of, and just yesterday we saw a girl who melted our hearts unlike any other has. She is five months old, just eighteen days older than our biological daughter, Gabriela. She has Down syndrome and a heart murmur, and she is living in an Eastern European orphanage where the children are often underfed and lack the care that they need. After praying about her for several hours, we became convinced that she is indeed our daughter and that God is leading us to pursue her adoption. And so, we are beginning the work for her adoption in earnest. There is a good deal of paperwork yet to do, and a lot of funds need to be raised before we can bring home our daughter, whom we are calling Mikaela Colleen. Mikaela is the feminine form of the Hebrew name Michael, and Colleen is Greg's mom's middle name. Together, her name means "Who is like God, little girl?" That means that our first two daughters (perhaps our only two, but we're not closing any doors here) are named for the only two angels named in Scripture and each have on of their grandmothers' middle names. We did not plan for this to be the case; we only realized that interesting fact after choosing a name for this baby girl.

Our prayer right now is that everything that needs to be done to complete her adoption will happen quickly and smoothly. We want very much to get her out of her orphanage as soon as possible, but there are a number of hurdles in our way. Perhaps the largest of those (at least from our perspective) is the cost of the adoption. From what we know, it will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $26,000 to complete Mikaela's adoption. Thankfully, the very little bit that we have is enough to begin the process, and we are having to trust the Lord with the rest. He has led us here, and we are confident that He is going to provide all that is needed to bring our daughter home, though we don't know precisely how He is going to do it. We ask anyone who reads this please to pray with us and for Mikaela, that we will be able to complete her adoption and bring her home by her first birthday, which is in August. The best-case scenario has us traveling to bring her home in April, which would be amazing. That means, of course, that we would have to have raised all of our funds by that time. If you or anyone you know would like to help us in that way, please click here to find out how to donate. (There is a fund for Mikaela that has been set up through The Shepherd's Crook Ministries. Just be sure to designate your donation as being for Mikaela Godwin.) We will do our best to update this blog as we continue down this road to adoption. Oh, and we will post a picture of her as soon as we have verified that we are allowed to do so.