Sunday, October 30, 2005

Scrapbooking Weekend with Friends!

What a wonderful weekend it was! On Friday afternoon Tina, Liane, Deb and I hit the highways and headed to Tina's parent's cottage located north of Belleville, Ontario on a beautiful lake. We arrived after dark so had no idea what delights awaited us when the sun rose! It was positively breathtaking! A weekend of scrapping with friends is always a treat but to have the added bonus of looking out at God's beauty in full colour was amazing! This was the view we had from the front window of the cottage! We sat at tables in front of the picture window facing the scene above. Can you even imagine? How did we ever take our eyes off this scene to scrapbook?

What was quickly displayed to us this weekend was how quickly things can change in 24 hours! Both Saturday and Sunday were beautiful sunny days with a light breeze Saturday and a little more Sunday. What was evident was that this was the last weekend when the trees would be holding their leaves this fall. It's time to let go which means winter is on it's way. The pictures below were taken of the same tree only 24 hours apart!

Belive it or not, we accomplished a lot of work on our scrapbooks. I think we may have chatted just a bit too and oh yah, maybe ate enough for, hmmmm...a dozen people! All these things just seem to go hand in hand on a girls weekend!
You may notice that my picture is missing from here. Why? Well, truth be told it was 2:00 in the afternoon and I was still in my PJ's! Didn't get dressed until later in the afternoon when we went for a beautiful, fresh fall walk. We're all looking forward to when we can do this again and are hoping to make it an annual event!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Open Arms Open House

What an exciting day! This afternoon I traveled into Toronto and met a lot of other families who are adopting from China through Open Arms. There was a buzz in the house that was electric! I’m guessing around 50 people were there, all with one thing on their minds....babies in China!

Some families are anticipating receiving their referrals within the next couple of weeks which means they will quite likely travel before Christmas! What a Christmas this will be for them! It was fun to watch people being introduced to others in their travel groups. Today the beginnings of friendships formed that could last for many years to come. With Open Arms (OA), each family in a travel group receives a baby from the same orphanage. This means that people keep in touch with one another as their girls grow up, allowing the girls to share something special with other children who can relate to their beginnings. (This past summer my niece Rebecca and I went to a picnic in Courtice that is an annual event for 2 travel groups that went to China 5 and 7 years ago!)

Today there weren’t any other people in the ‘home study’ phase of their journey but there were some who had just had their files sent to China last week. It’s anticipated that I’m about 2-3 months behind them. Wow! It’s more and more real and I’m more and more excited!!!

My social worker feels he can have my home study ready to go to OA by the end of November. (Friends completing references for me, I’ll be faxing the list references off to him tomorrow morning so you’ll probably receive something shortly.) Once my home study is with OA, Deborah (the OA Executive Director) will send it to the province for their approval within a couple of days. Yeah! Moving forward step by step.

Deborah thinks she may host another one of these days in January so by that time I may have a travel group too! Until then...back to the paperwork!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Praising God for Answered Prayers!!!

I am thrilled to share with you that I am proceeding with the adoption of a precious baby girl from China!!!

After many months of praying and seeking God's will, I believe with all my heart that this is what He is leading me to do! I'm beyond excited and at the same time have a peace in my heart that only God could provide!

Over the past couple of weeks many things have happened to help confirm this decision. So many of you have been praying and to each of you I am thankful! I am thankful for your willingness to share your encouragement, ideas, concerns and thoughts with me. I know that being a single parent will not be an easy task but God does not always promise that life will be easy. What He does tell us in Psalm 37:4 is to:

"Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart."

I believe my desire to become a Mom to a beautiful little girl from China is from God and I look forward to the day when she and I will finally meet! I'm trusting God and asking Him to lead each and every step of the way.

God has also provided peace when it comes to the financial challenges that this journey will entail. I'm trusting Him! It was wonderful last night as I was shared with my small group Bible Study how God has answered prayers in such a wonderful way! After listening to my journey and hearing of the answers to prayers they had been offering up on my behalf, they soon asked, 'When do we have the garage sale/car wash to help bring baby home?' That sounds like a fun adventure that I may tackle next spring.

The final peace to move forward came in a conversation that I had with a precious lady at my church. Until Sunday night I was not aware that she too had adopted a child as a single lady. Sunday night it was mentioned to me that I might want to talk with the dear lady as she could provide a lot of insight as to what was involved in being a single Mom and some of the many changes her life took on.

Fast forward to Monday night, a 'God Thing' happened I believe. After teaching piano I headed to the church for our scrapbooking group. The key holder had not yet arrived so I went back to my car to wait for him to arrive. Within 1 minute another car pulled up beside mine (for a totally different meeting) and this lady was right beside me! (I attend a church with 600+ people in attendance on a Sunday so you can see how this was so neat!)

After the church was unlocked I found her and asked if I could talk with her for a few minutes. I shared with her about my desire to adopt a baby girl from China but more than that, to seek God's will and follow His leading. She shared some of her story and how her life had changed in a wonderful way when she adopted her daughter. She said there were some difficult times but I'm sure any parent can attest to this in their lives. She encouraged me to gather a strong support group around me and I shared with her that this group was well established already and praying for me as I sought God's leading in this. What a wonderful encouragement she was and when we parted ways I knew God was opening the door fully to move ahead with the adoption! (I didn't share this with my scrapbooking friends as I wanted to share it with my parents first...that was tough as you know I like to talk and the excitment of answered paryers was just bubbling up inside me!)

That night, for the first time in many, many nights, I went to sleep with a peace in my heart that only God can provide, knowing that I am to trust Him and move ahead with this. That peace is still with me and I praise and thank Him for answering my prayers!

God's timing is perfect! As I've mentioned before, I was planning on removing my name from my agency's list on November 1st if I didn't have peace in moving forward. As I didn't know how God was going to work or what He was going to do, I had begun to prepare my heart for this difficult task and asking God to help me through the grieving that was already beginning to take place. You can imagine my imense joy when He had another plan and I just needed to be faithful to Him and wait for His perfect timing. His timing isalways perfect! (Just as you reminded me last week Joy!)

The next day, Tuesday, I went to visit my parents. They were so excited when I said to them, 'Pack your bags Grandma and Grandpa! We're going to China!!!' They are absolutely thrilled and both shared that this was their desire for me yet they knew that the decision had to come from the Lord and not from them. They said they can't wait to welcome this precious new life into our family! It will be so wonderful to share this trip with them!

On Tuesday I was also able to share with my dear friend Norma and her husband John that I am moving forward. They were both really excited and we shed a few tears of happiness together. Norma is a precious friend and has supported me 100% of this journey regardless of how many times my thoughts changed she was just there...listening, loving, crying and supporting. Since we see eachother numerous times a day I'm sure she felt like she was on a pendulum ride that constantly swung one way then the other. Thank you Norma for your support! Love ya!

(Deb, as you're reading this...sorry I didn't have an opportunity to say anything before you left on your trip! I wanted to so badly but knew Mom and Dad had to hear first. Thanks for understanding! Love ya!)

As I have had opportunities to share my answer with friends this week I've been overwhelmed by their love, support and encouragement. What a humbling experience to have so many caring people tell me of their prayers, love, and encouragement. I'm so very thankful for each of you and appreciate your love and support immensely!

The questions that many people are asking are:
1) When will you get her?
2) How old is she?
2) What's next?

1) My estimation based upon current timeframes is that I will probably travel to China late in 2006. I am working on a timeline that will explain the steps necessary when adopting from China.

2) How old is she? best 'guesstimation' is that she will be born anytime between now and maybe March of 2006. For many years the children adopted from China were being referred around the ages of 14-16 months. Lately the age has dropped *yeah!* and many babies are meeting their forever families before their first Birthday, some as young as 8 or 9 months old!

3) What's next? I spoke with my social worker today and set up our next 2 meetings for the mornings of Thursday, November 10th and Friday, November 18th. He feels that because the majority of my paperwork (police check, fingerprints, medical, etc.) is done he could complete my homestudy by the end of November. I have assignments to complete re: international adoption and I also need to send him in my list of references so that he can get in touch with them.

Another big step for me will happen this Sunday. I will be attending my first official information session with Open Arms (OA), assisting me in preparing for adopting, traveling to China, etc. One of the exciting things about this meeting is that I will meet other families with OA who are at the same stage of the process I am and are people that I may eventually travel to China with! (All families in a travel group receive babies from the same orphanage. This allows us to keep in touch after we return home so that the girls can grow up knowing others who were born in the same province they were.) OA normally sends travel groups of 5-7 families together from what I understand. I have so much to learn and some of that learning will begin this Sunday! Again, God's timing is perfect! I've known about this meeting since the beginning of September but did not allow myself to respond to the invitation until today when I knew it was full steam ahead!

If you've read this far with me....thank you! There is so much that I want to share with you!

I know this 'stroller coaster' of international adoption has just begun but I'm buckled in and can't wait to see what God has over the next hill and around the next corner! Please grab a seat with me and come along for the ride of a lifetime!

Love to all of you, Catherine

Friday, October 07, 2005

Not quite what I had expected

Well, after taking the afternoon off work for my 1 hour phone interview, it was over in a quick 6 minutes! I just laughed when I got off the phone to think that I'd taken the afternoon off work for a 6 minute phone call! :o)

When I initially called the assistance program yesterday I explained that I was hoping to adopt a baby girl from China and was wondering if there was any sort of financial assistance offered to help with the $25,000 cost of completing an international adoption. The lady that called today seemed more prepared to help me begin looking into the adoption process. Oops! I explained that I already have an agency, social worker, etc. but was looking for something else. She seemed somewhat hopeful that financial assistance might be available but if there is, she is not aware of it. After a 2nd call she said she was not really aware of any assistance available but she would do some research. She is going to look into it and email me on Wednesday. Hmmm. Doesn't sound too positive but time will tell.

Again, all this is part of the plan God has.

Thank you so much for all that are praying! I received numerous emails telling me that they are praying and I'm so very thankful for that.

In His time God will reveal the plans that He has. Trusting Him! My heart soooo wants to do this so it's hard to keep my plans in check while waiting on God to reveal His plans. His plans are greater than mine.

Thank you for your continued prayer.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Please Continue Praying

For those who have continued to check my idle blog...thank you! As you have noticed, I haven't written anything for a very long time. Not that nothing has been happening. Actually, quite the opposite. So much has been happening and I haven't known how to put it into words or how much to share.

Friends, my adoption journey is at a very important decision making time. As much as I am the one to physically make the decision, I want to do only what God wants and how He leads me. I am seeking His guidance and leading as to whether to proceed with the adoption or call my agency and withdraw my application. As much as that would hurt unbelievably to do, I am willing to do so if it's what I should.

I am asking that you pray for me and with me, asking God to lead and make it abundantly clear what I should do. After much prayer, I have decided that if nothing has changed by the end of October, I will call my agency and ask them to withdraw my application.

Some may wonder why I have set a specific date for things to happen. My reason for this is that my agency called on May 30th informing me that I could begin my home study. This step of the process normally takes approx. 4 months. To date, I have completed the majority of the paperwork but have not met with my social worker since the beginning of June and the biggest portion of this step of the adoption in both time and paperwork is the home study. While I am praying, seeking, waiting and not meeting with my social worker, I am delaying another single lady/gentleman from pursuing their dream of adopting a baby girl/boy from China. With singles spots restricted to 8% of the adoptions from China, they are at a premium and currently I am holding one of those precious spots. I feel that I can no longer allow my indecision to hinder another person.

All that being said, there are still 27 days between now and the end of October. In that time, God can work a miracle as He is a God of miracles! If He wants this adoption to happen then I can't wait to see Him work! If not, then I will have my answer and my application will be withdrawn.

So many of you are praying with me and for me and I am so very, very thankful for each of you!!!

As a next step, I have an important meeting scheduled for 2:00 tomorrow afternoon, Friday, October 7th to discuss the adoption. Today at work I was made aware of a fairly new program called the, 'Employee Assistance Program.' I had read about it when it first came out and thought it was mainly a program designed to assist people with counseling needs that they might have. (What a wonderful service to offer to employees.) A coworker mentioned to me today that they can also help in special financial circumstances of which the adoption may apply. I called the 1-800# this morning and was told that yes, there is something in place to assist those adopting a child internationally. What that help is I have no idea. It may be financial help in the way of a loan or grant or it may be something totally different. I don't know. Will qualify for assistance? I don't know. What I do know, is that they were able to offer me a 1 hour phone interview tomorrow at 2:00. As I'm guessing you can tell, I'm cautiously optimistic about what I may learn tomorrow.

Dear friends, it will take nothing short of a miracle to allow me to adopt a child. But, if adopting is what God has planned for me then He will perform that miracle and we will all be able to praise Him for it. If the answer is 'no' I will still praise Him for answered prayer!

Thank you again for all your prayers. I will let you know how things go tomorrow.
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