Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Our I800A Has Left the Building

Well, it's been a few months since I've posted an adoption update because well, I didn't figure hearing about paperwork and medical tests and the notarization of 1.2 million forms would make for a very interesting post. And that, my friends, is what we've been doing. That, and a whole lot of waiting. whomp. whomp. 

But today. Today, I have the best news ever...well, at least until I can share that we have a referral.

This morning at approximately 10 a.m., a package was left on our doorstep by our friendly Fed Ex delivery person. Had I heard him or her arrive in our driveway, I might have jumped off the stairs and sprinted to the van (picture that for a minute...ok, proceed.). Because today, friends, TODAY we received our 


I knew delivery was scheduled for today but was thinking it would be later in the afternoon. And I seriously burst into tears. Like uncontrollable sobbing. I couldn't even open it (at first, anyway!) because I was so overcome with emotion. We began this adoption process November 26, 2015, with the submission of our initial application. We submitted a round of paperwork the first week of December and officially entered "home study" a few weeks later. We have been "in home study" since early January. Our home study was complete in mid-August but due to some unforeseen and uncontrollable circumstances, we are just TODAY receiving our notarized and official copies that are necessary for moving forward in the process. Some of you are probably thinking, "Big deal. That's just a few months." But for those that have traveled this journey (or walked alongside someone else who has), you know what those "few months" feel like. The grief of feeling like I'm "missing" days with a child is sometimes more than I can take. I occasionally read back through the journal that I've been keeping for her and find myself thinking, "This is one sad mama. Oh, wait. That's me feeling that hurt and grief." I hope she will one day read those pages and know just how loved she is...

We have been waiting for these "official" copies of the home study to mail our I800A application and supporting documents to the Department of Homeland Security for several weeks (the forms and cover letter were dated August 30). So you can bet your booty I put those documents in a priority envelope and drove straight to the post office. The package should be delivered to USCIS in Dallas Thursday. And don't you think I won't be using that tracking number. Just sayin'. 

Anyway. Today is a day for JOY and CELEBRATING! We are moving forward in the process! I cannot wait to pick up the boys from school this afternoon and share the good news with those little jokers!

Now what? More paperwork! I know. Oh so glamorous and exciting, right? We will continue amassing all the dossier documents while wait for the Department of Homeland Security to send us our next fingerprint appointments. Once we have been fingerprinted (again) and have all our dossier documents together, notarized, authenticated and signed in blood (not really, but it feels like it!), the entire packet will be sent for translation to Creole and then to the Haitian government for consideration for a referral. 

And then guess what happens! We wait. We wait for the day when we receive an email that introduces us to the daughter that God has been preparing our hearts for. The daughter we already love so much. The daughter we are fighting for daily. The daughter we have already shed many tears for. The sister that our boys ask about almost daily. We wait to see her beautiful face. Oh, what a day of rejoicing that will be!

We are so grateful for your continued support and encouragement through this process. It means the world to us, and we can't wait to bring our girl home to the village that is already loving her so well!

Will you pray with us for endurance through this process? For smooth steps in the coming months? For red tape and bureaucracy to be removed? Will you pray for our daughter who is likely in an orphanage now? Will you pray for her protection and her little heart to feel loved until we can bring her home?

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Adoption Update: 5 Months In

Well, it's been a minute, friends. I was really hoping that our next adoption update on the blog would be:


That, however, is not the case. We are getting closer, but when I think about our baby girl, it's not close enough. Every day feels like "too long" to be waiting on all the things to get done. There have been lots of tears shed these last few weeks. It feels like one of those one step forward, 6,783,593 steps backward kind of dances. I know it's not. Really, I do. Well, maybe. 

So, where are we? We have two key (read: BIG) educational components left. I have to be re-fingerprinted because apparently my fingerprints are difficult to read. We are still waiting to hear about Jeff's. I have a psychiatric evaluation (Um, could this be the end of the road for us?) to do and then we can schedule our LAST - did you read that? - LAST home study visit. If I could insert emojis here, you would find a line of praise hands. We have loved our visits with our amazing case worker, but we are ready to move on from this part. Really ready. I mean, REALLY!

When I think about the adoption process and saying "Yes!" to God's leading us on this journey, I often find myself thinking, "Did we misunderstand? Surely He didn't mean this for US!" Full disclosure: I am not patient. I do not like paperwork. My husband has more things going on right now than he can keep up with. My boys are - well, they're boys. Active, loud boys. 

This was Eli's sentence for his sight word "get."
Bless. Just bless.
But here we are. 

Here we are muddling through this paperwork and trying not to mess it all up because on the other side of that mountain of paperwork is a baby girl waiting to be a part of our crazy family. Waiting to be loved. Waiting to have a mama and daddy to tuck her in at night. Waiting to have brothers who will probably drive her crazy, but also fiercely defend and protect her. Waiting. 

But there are some God moments that shouldn't be missed and since I don't have more to report on our progress, I hope they will encourage you, too!

1) Last week was a rough week. A few things that we were calling "done" came "undone" and we felt frustrated and helpless because it was things that were pretty much out of our control. At the end of this rough week, God sent me a love note in the form of a sweeter-than-sweet note from a friend with a check enclosed for our adoption expenses. 

He sees me. 

2) Yesterday, I got a call that my psychiatric evaluation (Already rescheduled twice, again, due to circumstances outside of our control) was not postponed - but CANCELLED. I physically hurt when the sweet lady told me it might be June before she could get me in. Just a few hours later (there might have been some tears and angry words in those hours!), I got an email. From the clinic. 2 p.m. TODAY, y'all. TODAY! 

He feels my pain.

3) In the midst of all this back-and-forth dancing, my two dear friends have organized and orchestrated a fundraiser for our baby girl! The Fair Trade Fashionistas have worked with the beautiful and incredibly talented ladies at UMUCYO Sewing Cooperative in Rwanda to design the Amie ("beloved" in French) make-up bag. Proceeds from the sale of it will go to our adoption -- and we ordered BIG! We are closing in on HALF of the bags already sold with just the pre-sales that began about a week ago! So exciting! The fact that these friends - one in North Carolina and one in Maryland - coordinated all the design and production with the ladies in Rwanda to help us bring our baby girl home from Haiti to Mississippi and dear, sweet friends all over the stinkin' U.S. are buying these bags...Y'all. We ARE connected!

He shares my JOY!

(PS: You should totally click AMIE above and snag yourself one - or a dozen - of these cute bags!)

4) A few weeks ago, on an especially tough day, a precious friend (and adoptive mama) sent me this message:

"Was just praying for you and your adoption. This came to mind,
 and I felt compelled to share. I know it seems like such a long process, 
and 2018 seems so far away, but our adoption process was over 3 years. 
God used every day to prepare my heart, my husband's heart, our kids, 
our families, our friends, our church and our community for our girl. 
The process was such a time of growth and sanctification for me. 
It was time that I did not want but looking back, I definitely needed. 
He knows the perfect time for your baby girl to arrive...
not a day sooner or later. Will continue to pray for y'all. 
Enjoy the journey and look for God in the tedious process. 

I cannot even tell you what that meant in that exact moment! Nor how many times I've gone back to read it! I have truly had moments where I thought, "Why??!! You called us to this! Why are You leaving us?" And then little love notes - from friends, from strangers, from the people holding the paperwork, from all around. 


And that's where the Walton: Party of 5 journey is today. 

Friday, February 26, 2016

An Open Letter to Future Americans

Dear Future Americans:

I'm am just so sorry. 

I write these words from a place of great sorrow and regret for the direction our country seems to be heading. You will likely read about these few decades in your history lessons and wonder, "What in the world?" I read the current headlines myself and think the same thing. 

We are in the midst of a presidential election campaign when our political parties are battling to determine who will be the lead candidate for them. It is disheartening, I must admit, to look at the top choices. My heart hurts a little that we have come to this. I feel partly responsible because I have been so busy in my own little world in small town America that I have forgotten that I DO have a voice. That my vote is significant in this process. That my voice can be used to advocate for what is right and good. This pains me deeply as twenty years ago, I thought I might one day have a career in politics. I served my university's student body as Student Government President and got just a small taste of what it felt like to serve others and advocate for the greater good. Then life happened, and my service took on a different look. But now, as I research the candidates and learn about their histories and their platforms, I can't help but think, "What if?" 

I am most saddened by the claim that "Evangelical Christians" are backing the current leading Republican nominee, Donald Trump. I am confident you have heard of his antics and very likely his business track record as he has reached "billionaire" status. I have no doubts these claims are true, but I hurt for those who have been in his path on this climb. I had the opportunity early in my career in academia to observe Mr. Trump in action; I regret to say that it was less that impressive. He rambled incoherently through a keynote address to thousands of public relations professionals and students. His language was deplorable and deserving of an R rating - completely unacceptable in any professional setting. When it was (finally!) over, he took questions from the audience and a student asked for his best business advice. Mr. Trump quickly told him, "Get even!" I was aghast. And now, as he is seemingly headed for the Republican nomination and potentially the POTUS, I am especially fearful. Fearful of how this "Get even!" diplomacy would impact our nation. Fearful of how his brash and unprofessional demeanor would be perceived by diplomats around the world. Fearful his "Get even!" mentality could drive an even deeper wedge into our already politically divided nation. I am sorry if "Get even!" has resulted in borders being closed to American citizens or the adoptions of hundreds of thousands of orphans delayed or even cancelled or the import/export relations affected for your generation. I am sorry if you are currently engaged in violent combats with other countries because we have set out to "Get even!" rather than work first through diplomatic relations to resolve conflict. 

I am just so sorry.

Although I thought it could not get any worse at the event I was attending, Mr. Trump proceeded to bring several young women onto the stage for photos with him. I was sickened by his chauvinistic and demeaning comments to these young women (who seemed too star-struck to speak up for themselves!). He interactions with these young women were completely inappropriate, and as I reflect back, I am even more fearful of how his leadership would impact women in our country. Women have been fighting for equality for years and yet we are seemingly on the brink of endorsing a man for the Republican presidential nomination who publicly "ranks" women on their appearance and regularly - I dare say, habitually - uses derogatory and inflammatory language about women and other minorities. I am sorry, young women, if my generation's lack of awareness and forethought has set you back decades because he was the best the Republican party could do. I am sorry if we voted for in the Presidential election as though it were a popularity contest or a reality TV series rather than as though the decision would impact our entire existence as Americans. 

I am just so sorry. 

I am sorry for the conversations you may have been forced to have at very young ages with adults about "adult things." I am fearful for the conversations I may be having with my own children in the coming months and years because of the lifestyle Mr. Trump lives. I am fearful of having to explain to my boys why the POTUS is using "bathroom words" in his Presidential addresses and on national TV bits. I am just not ready for the hard conversations with my young children about bigotry and racism and misogyny, but I fear they may be imminent. 

I am just so sorry.  

I do consider myself an "evangelical Christian" not because I enjoy labels or think people fit nicely into little boxes of being called something, but because I love Jesus and because of that love for Him, I want to share His grace and mercy with others as He has told us to do. But I can tell you today, sweet future Americans:


neither in the Mississippi primary nor the Presidential election. I can assure you I sought out a woman or man of integrity. I sought a candidate with Christian values who respects and values women for their contributions to our world - not on their 1-10 appearance scale. I sought a candidate that supports families and values children. I voted for someone who uses wisdom and self-control before speaking and making decisions. I voted for someone who quotes scripture because he or she is IN THE WORD and knows the promises and wisdom held there. I voted for someone who's spiritual life is not a matter of display, but a matter of the heart. And, if after researching the candidates for myself, there was not a candidate that met those requirements presented on the ballot...I used the write-in option. 

A woman on her knees for her country in 2016

"If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves 
and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, 
then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
II Chronicles 7:14

* Please note that I write these words based on assumptions about the GOP nomination as well as the outcome election. Please know I'm not handing either over to Donald Trump, but it's simply my heart's desire to share the fears and concerns should he win both. I am praying we (get on our knees and) come to our senses before either comes to fruition.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Adoption Update: Almost Two Months In

In case you missed the official sharing of the news last month - we're adopting!

Don't feel "behind" or "left out" if you hadn't heard the news at this point. We're just getting rolling! We've been officially accepted by Lifeline Child Services as well as accepted into their Haiti adoption program. We've filled out a lot of paperwork, written a big check and started reading from the suggested adoptive parent reading list. And now -- you are "in the loop" with us!

Today is a big day in our process though, friends. Jeff and I will be engaging with our case worker (Who is amazing, btw!) in just a few hours for our Orientation Interview. This sounds pretty intimidating, I'll be honest. I have about 2,469,372 questions running though my head coupled with about three times that number of insecurities surrounding being deemed a "good enough" parent to continue this process and well, let's just say that sleep did not come easy last night (Yes, most of this was written in the middle of night. Bless.).

I am sure this conference call will be much less traumatic than I have built it up to be in my (crazy!) head, and that we will hang up feeling even more excited about this process. I'm just sure of it.

So, the significance of this call? This call is the initiation of the home study process. This is about a 4-month process that will create the dossier to be sent to Haiti to match us with our baby girl. It's a BIG, HUGE step, y'all! We are excited about being one step closer to Walton: Party of 5.

I started a journal in November when all this began to really unfold and as I looked back on the first few entries, I can already see God at work in our family - and for our family. Just a few weeks ago, I wrote,
"God is so, so good, sweet one! 
He is already writing a beautiful story for YOU - no matter how it began. 
I pray we can continue to patiently move forward
and surrender the pen to Him daily..." 

Some ways we'd love for you to pray with us on this journey at this point...

  • Pray for focus (and stamina!) with the required paperwork for the process. Again, paperwork is NOT my jam, y'all.
  • Pray for our boys as the "talk" becomes reality for them and changes their roles in our family. Eli has made it very clear that he does not want to be "the baby" of our family anymore. Just bless.
  • Pray for financial provision. We will definitely be letting you know about fundraising opportunities as they are planned! Noonday Collection Trunk Show, anyone?
  • Most importantly, pray for our baby girl. We don't know if she is yet to be born, or already living in an orphanage but please, please pray with us for her protection, her family and all those involved in her care until she is home with us.

We covet your prayers and know that without the prayers and support of family and friends, we would not be where we are today with this process. We continue to pray that throughout this entire journey, people see JESUS. Not us or what we do, but JESUS and what He's doing - for us and for her.

Stay tuned...