Wednesday, May 23, 2012

On Flesh And Blood

I saw this video yesterday on another adoptive mother's blog and had to share with you. If you watch from minutes 3:00 to 5:45, you'll see Pleven, the orphanage where my Samantha still waits.

Please make no mistake about what you've seen here. Many of theses "babies", who live on the top floor of the orphanage with Sam, are actually teenagers. They are shown wearing clean clothing and lying on clean bedding only because there were guests in the building that day. And the toys were gifts which were likely captured in these photos and never seen again. Although it may be hard to swallow, this has been the reality for these children (although we expectantly wait and pray that things are changing under new leadership).

I think I've seen this video before. Months ago, actually. I remember watching several youtube videos of Pleven, scouring them for my own child's face. While that little girl who I love so desperately was not to be seen, I continued to watch and cry, attempting to let the reality of it all set in.

Now, as I watch again with new eyes, I see the faces of children who have become very dear to me. These children are no longer just images on a computer screen but real flesh and blood. Today as I watch this video I recognize face after face of children I have met and touched with my own hands. Children I have cried over, smiled at and kissed. Precious, perfect children who react to human touch with a smile. Who reach their arms out to be held and loved. Who longingly looked on as I held and loved Sam. Who walked past our visiting room and watched in awe and wonder as their peer laughed and played.

Today as I think about these children who have been cast aside and who have never known love, I think to myself, these babies do not need my pity. They don't need the tears that I'm shedding for them all the way across the ocean. They need love. Real flesh and blood, hugging and kissing, playing and nurturing love.

And they have so much to offer! Oh my goodness. Take another look at this video. The little girl who appears at minute 4:00...

Anna and I met her in the hallway outside of our visiting room. She had a baba, and so was strapped into a stroller on her way outside. I stooped down to talk to her for just a moment, stroking her face and telling her how beautiful she was. This little girl responded with a smile that could have melted any heart of stone. She was sheer joy and beauty; life sparkling through her dark eyes. Who could have known that this frail, misfigured (probably from starvation and lack of medical attention), skeletal girl would be so alive. So ready and anxious to receive love.

The same story could have been told of my own daughter when she was still a picture and a video on a computer screen.

When I committed to adopting Sam last August, I knew almost nothing about her. I knew she had Down Syndrome, and that because of the horrific lack of care provided by the staff of her orphanage, that she was "severely lagging behind". I had only one photo of her for several months. One photo of a little girl who appeared to be lying on her back in a crib, with deep, dark, sad, lifeless eyes.

I was also gifted with one short video, which I watched, without exaggeration, well over 100 times. The video depicted a little girl with abrupt movements and a short attention span, flailing about as if lacking an awareness of her own body. Emotionless. Smile-less.

I was told that this little girl could barely sit up on her own before falling over. That she was completely nonvocal. She could not mimic. She could not walk, even with help. In fact, her condition was so severe, that after I had already submitted dossier paperwork to her country, I was required to send an additional document reiterating that I did indeed understand just how delayed she was. There was some  concern that Sam would not meet my expectations. That I might be disappointed by what I saw when I finally met her in person.

While I never believed I would be disappointed by the child God had chosen for me, my first impression was nevertheless built around the sad portrait that had been painted for me.
This is a more recent picture showing Sam in the room and the crib where she still lives out her days at the orphanage.
When I walked anxiously up the steps of Sam's orphanage for the first time, I was prepared for the worst. Never in a million years did I expect to be greeted by a little girl SO full of LIFE. So anxious to defy all odds. To try new things. 

A hope-filled child just asking for me to give her a reason to laugh.

A child with 7 years worth of smiles to share.

A child who has never known love, but who already knows how to love.

A child who is eager to learn and to play. A child who somehow knew her life was about to change.

Friends and family, you have walked 911 miles for Sam, the distance from Lincoln to San Antonio (how cool is that Texas relatives!). And you have prayed many more prayers for me and Sam than that! Today, I want to encourage you to turn some of your prayers toward the many children in Pleven who continue to wait. Some who are not yet even adoptable. Let's continue walking those 5,577 miles, praying for Sam, but also for these real flesh and blood little people, who have every potential to blossom into loving, life-filled, world-changing individuals. Pray that all red tape will be removed, that they will be listed for adoption, and that their families will find them. 

Let's also pray that God turns our broken hearts and our tears into action. Love, covered in real flesh and blood, reflecting the One who came in the flesh to live with us, and die for us, and give us heaven.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, and the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

God is changing their world, one child at a time. He's using us.

Please: Pray. Advocate. Adopt.

Love to all of you.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

So Let's Not Get Tired Of Doing What Is Good

First and foremost, I want to thank all of you who have been walking and praying for Sam. You have walked 640 miles...the distance between Lincoln, Nebraska and Dallas, Texas! That is incredible!! And to think that each step was a prayer for Sam. Wow. Thank you again and again for walking and praying her home! If you're still not sure what all this business of walking for Sam is about, you can read about it here. If you're walking (or running) for Sam already, please don't forget to e-mail your miles to I LOVE hearing directly about the miles you are walking, but please also send them to this address so they can be counted in our total.

I also feel the need to apologize. I didn't mean to let so much time slip away since my last post! I suppose I've been lost for words.

Leaving Sam in Bulgaria was heart-breaking. I didn't really know what to expect of my life when I got home, although I fully anticipated being an emotional wreck. I imagined the waiting feeling like agony, but that was okay because it made sense to me. Grief and sadness made sense. It seemed normal, even appropriate, that after holding and kissing and finally knowing my child, that I might find it difficult to re-enter life as I know it.

While re-entry has not been easy (I'd be lying if I said that it was), to my surprise, I'm not who I thought I'd be right now. I'm not the crying-at-the-tip-a-hat-mom, as I'd expected. At least not yet! I've actually experienced many moments of peace, coupled with moments of numbness (to most things other than Sam), and not really knowing what to do with myself. But for the most part I'm functioning. And that's more than I thought I'd have to say for myself at this point in the process.

Today I'm missing my girl and praying that time will see fit to speed along and bring her home. It hurts to think about her. To imagine what she's doing (or not doing) moment by moment. To wonder who's showing her love each day, if anyone is at all. My sinful nature would have me worrying up a storm for her all day and night. But, God knows better, and on days like today His Spirit leads me into truth. The truth that I cannot control Sam's environment right now. I can't hold her. I can't supervise her feedings or discipline the staff who has a choice whether or not to care for her.  The truth that HE can do ANYTHING. He can employ angels to keep watch over her. He can comfort her with His love. He can shield her heart and mind from all harm. He can give her hope that her time is coming, and that she will be home soon. He can do all of this. And I know that He is. 

I also know its true that the LORD is compelling hundreds (if not thousands) of people to pray for Sam and me, and I am so grateful for this. God's answers to these prayers on our behalf are very clearly the glue that is holding me together right now. And I believe it's holding Sam together, too. 

So please, I would ask you, don't stop praying for us. Or for all of the children and families of Pleven who are waiting to be united. 

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Galatians 6:9

And as you labor in prayer, as I know so many of you are, I would ask that you would include these specific requests:

  • Continue to pray that Sam's paperwork would reach Bulgaria in enough time for us to receive a court date and any other services required by the court system before the recess which begins mid-July.
  • Please be praying that we will be assigned to a good judge. I am told that there are some judges who work swiftly and readily approve adoption cases. There are other judges who can be quite difficult and can require a lot from families, delaying the process. Pray that our judge will be compelled by God to seek justice and love mercy.
  • Pray for Sam's continued protection and comfort, and that she would know the presence of Jesus, even in the absence of loving people.
  • Pray for all of the other children who suffer in Pleven. For those who have family coming for them, pray that their processes would be moved along quickly, without delays. For Gabby, who is listed for adoption right now, but has not been chosen by a family, pray that the LORD would hand-pick a mom and dad for her and that they would work hard and fast to bring her home. And for the MANY children who remain unlisted, and not available yet for adoption, pray that the LORD would move mountains for them. HE can do this. HE can make a way for every one of those children to find safety and family.

Love to all of you, friends and family. You are the best.

And, here's a couple more sweet photo and a seriously cute video :)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Have you ever heard a laugh so sweet?

I can't help but feel happy when I watch this one. Oh my goodness, this baby has stolen my heart. I will NEVER be the same.

A BIG THANK YOU to everyone who is walking and praying for Sam. Don't forget to send your mileage to so we can add to our total. Please know that God is answering your prayers in BIG WAYS. Someday I'll be able to tell you all the details and you will be absolutely amazed by the power of God. For now though, please keep on praying. Let's get this baby home!!!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

5,577 Miles to Sam...And You Can Help

Last Friday, after handing my baby over to a stranger in a white coat, as I rode away from the orphanage in the backseat of Mitko's van, I cried and wondered, "How on earth am I supposed to go back to life as usual?" It occurred to me in that moment that I should remain in a state of forward motion. My sinful nature tends toward worry, so I'm very aware that sitting around and waiting may lead to despair. I jokingly thought to myself, "What if, when I get back to the States, I just start walking toward Sam?" I wondered if I started walking right away if, by the time I got to her, it might be time for her to come home. I liked the idea of facing Sam and moving closer and closer toward her until freedom day comes.

The more I thought about this silly idea, the less silly it sounded. Maybe I really could walk toward Sam. No, I don't literally plan on walking over the ocean. But what if I walk all 5,577 of the miles that separate us. What if all 5,577 miles of walking were covered in prayers for her freedom day. So I did the math. If I started today, walking and praying for Sam, I would only have to walk...74.4 miles a day. At that rate, I would walk the whole distance to Sam by July 15th, the day the Bulgarian Court takes its recess. We need to have court no later than this day. And probably, realistically, even sooner. So this day would be my goal.

Ok, so I realize walking 74.4 miles a day is lofty goal. BUT, I figure I might be able to meet it if all of you help. And of course, the more people walking the better, because that means more prayers going up for Sam's freedom!! So I'd like to ask all of you, would you want to walk with me?

My sister, Katie, set up a way for us to keep track of all the miles we walk and pray. All you have to do is track your own miles, and email them to And after you do, the thermometer on the right side of the blog will be updated, and you'll be able to track our progress.

This week, if you walk for Sam, will you please pray for God's favor with USCIS (immigration services)? They are the people who will handle the documents I am working on for the good ole US of A. This paperwork is the part of the 2nd stage adoption proceedings that will take the longest. If Sam's paperwork can breeze through this system, it will likely have no trouble being expedited in Bulgaria and ready before the court recess. Please pray that this paperwork goes through in record time, in such a way that we will HAVE to point to the Lord and give  Him glory. HE CAN DO THIS!! 

Thank you all in advance for your prayers and your miles. God is doing something incredible for my little girl. Let's stand back and watch expectantly for what He'll do next.

As for me, I look to the Lord for help. I wait confidently for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me. Micah 7:7

Soon and very soon, little song bird. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Samantha's Singing Debut

Oh my goodness, friends and family, I have been simply overwhelmed by all of your encouraging comments, messages, gifts, and prayers. You all have truly been Jesus to Sam and me. While I continue to try and respond to each of you individually, please enjoy this video as a "Thank you sooo much!" We love you!

Now, without further ado, in her singing debut, Samantha Love :)