How do you mourn a dying dream?

Note: I wrote this post this morning, published it and immediately took it down. I’ve floundered all day about whether or not I should share it, or simply pack it away. Maybe I’m oversharing. Maybe I’m talking too much about adoption stuff. When’s it gonna get funny around here again?! C’mon, lady! Talk more about roaches, or your husband dissing Target, or dudes manning the tables at Victoria’s Secret!


*big sigh*

I finally realized that this place – this little internet place – has become a great space for me to grieve and you guys are so freaking up for the challenge! (The challenge being my crazy emotional state, of course…) The fact is, it’s easier for me to unload my grief when I write it down, and you all have walked right next to us on this entire journey.

So here it is…

I pulled the dirty rubbermaid bin off the shelf today and opened it up. Filled with magazine articles, newspapers, scrapbooks and journals, the bin smells like history.

My history.

I dug through the old journals looking for a very specific book. It was the one I wrote in during my very first visit to Belarus and Russia as a fifteen year old. I wanted to feel the pages and read the words that the younger version of me looped in hapless teenage fashion nearly twenty years ago.

I wanted to see if maybe, just maybe, I had convinced myself of a lie all these years. Maybe I didn’t decide I wanted to adopt on that trip. Maybe I’ve worked up some sort of story in my mind that’s justified all these years of longing and desire.

I wanted to see if I was wrong.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find that journal. It’s somewhere in this house, but currently I don’t know where. But there were a stack of journals from the years following that first trip. Journals starting from the day I turned to sixteen to the day I birthed my first child. Pages and pages of history recorded.

I pulled out the oldest book and dusted it off. It begins on June 4, 1994 – my sixteenth birthday.

Most of the journal is slap your knee hilarious to read. Lord Almighty the angst I lived through in those days. They boys I liked, the confusion I felt. Most of my prayers centered around who I should go to Homecoming with and how to tell a boy I didn’t like him. *eye roll*

(Side note: Tia – please don’t become that girl. Stay oblivious to boys or, if you must notice them, just stick to trying to crush them at every competition.)

But then I came upon the one entry I feared I would find. Sixteen year old Kelli took a break from the perils of teendom and recorded a single, heartfelt plea:

Dear God. I love Russia. Can I go back there someday? Can I work with the orphans again?

That was it. That was all I found, but it was enough to remind me that I didn’t make this dream up. And as I flipped through the pages of the rest of the journals, the common theme followed me. A love for Russia and Ukraine. And prayers to someday adopt began to appear with regularity in the journals starting in 2000 – the year Lee and I got married.

The dream really was there a long time ago and today I am very, very slowly letting it go.

I don’t have anything to bury in the physical sense. I kind of wish I did. Would there be more closure if I placed this dream in the earth? I don’t know. Perhaps I will get to that point. Maybe I will do that eventually. Today I’m just coming to terms with it.

The very honest fact of the matter is this: Our Russian adoption is very, very unlikely to proceed. There are still diplomatic discussions taking place between our two countries, but Lee and I have come to a place where we must face reality.

I’m doing okay, really. I think I did most of my heavy mourning last week. This week I am simply…well, I’m sad (and a little bit foggy headed), but also hopeful. I am still very, very hopeful.

Thank you to so many of you who have been calling and writing. I really can’t explain to you what it means to me to be poured into the way you have encouraged me. One friend emailed last week and shared with me something I had never before considered. An excerpt from her email:

 The words “wait” and “hope” are often translated from the same Hebrew word.

Isaiah 40:31: “Those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.”

The word “wait” there is qavah, which means “to look for, hope, expect… to wait or look eagerly for.”

May you, Lee, Sloan, Tia, and Landon take courage as you continue to wait and hope, because of the One on whom you are waiting and in whom your hope rests.

While it seems that my dreams of adopting from Russia are coming to an end, I’m not entirely sure my dreams of adopting a child are ending. I spoke with another dear friend yesterday who gave me the freedom to mourn this loss before immediately moving on.

Because this really is a loss. One doesn’t easily give up a lifelong dream. I am allowing myself the space needed to release this heartache before moving on. And in the meantime, we are researching our options and praying for a new revelation – a common dream.

The kids and I discussed this development yesterday and I was so concerned with how they might react. But they surprised me – especially Tia. After we talked about it, I stood at the table and brushed her hair. She is my child who locks things up inside so I wanted to pry a little to see what she was thinking.

“Are you okay with everything that’s going on with the adoption?” I asked.

“Yeah,” she said with a nod.

“Good. If you want to talk about anything or have questions, let me know okay?”

“Okay.” She turned and locked eyes with me. “I’m just gonna wait for my little sister to come home…Hey Mom! Can I have some Nutella?”

You know how you mourn a dying dream? You lean on the faith of a child and you eat a little Nutella.

You can read more about our adoption journey here.

A lesson learned and learned and learned again

20121231-090810.jpg We close out 2012 in Arkansas. As I look out the window at the snow, which slowly melts on the ground, I feel a similar thawing in my heart. It’s grey and gloomy, but the hope of Spring calls with promise. There are a few months before the grass will begin to green and the flowers bloom, but I know it’s coming. The snow and ice provide a necessary fertilizer. I just have to wait for the beauty to bloom.

It has been a hard week in more ways than one. My heart has been broken and twisted and squeezed and tugged. I have mourned mostly in secret because who wants to be around a killjoy at the holidays, right? But I’ve been sad.

You see, I have been to the orphanages. I know what they’re like. I have seen the children. And for more than half my life I have been waiting for the moment when I could bring one home. So this week has been a punch in the gut. Had we begun the process six months earlier, things might be different, but we didn’t and God had a reason for that. I don’t know what that reason is, yet, but I trust His timing even if I don’t like it.

As I enter into 2013 I believe God has laid the word “Wait” on my heart. This will be my challenge this year. I will wait upon The Lord. Hope is not lost. There is a chance the adoption will be able to proceed. But there’s a better chance that it won’t and I am waiting for God to tell me what He has planned.

I am praying for the little girl that is supposed to be ours. I have even begun praying for her by name. A name has been on my heart for some time now, but I haven’t had the guts to say it out loud. But this week changed that. I am crying out for her by name. I will share that name with all of you when I feel the time is right, but just know that I believe she is real and I believe she is out there waiting for us.

I haven’t written much in the last few weeks. Usually at the end of the year I post my top posts from each month as an end of the year recap, but I don’t have the heart to do that this year. I did, however, receive a report yesterday that revealed my top post of 2012. This was my most viewed post and it surprised me.

It didn’t get the most comments and it wasn’t passed around more than the others. But it remains my top post.

The title of this post? Hope is Slow.

I needed that reminder yesterday and today and for the rest of my time here on Earth. I will always need to be reminded that the hope that I long for is slow, but IT IS NOT DEAD! Hope is alive. Hope is real. Hope is here.

But hope is slow.

It’s fitting that that very post would be revealed as my top post in a time when I feel like hope is dying. It is right that it was revealed to me yesterday when I needed it most. It makes perfect sense that the words I needed to read again would come from the very trip and experience that pushed Lee and I over the ledge of doubt and gave us the courage to step forward toward adoption in faith.

Hope is slow, friends. But it is not dead.

Happy New Year.

To read all my posts from my trip to Tanzania with Compassion International, click here. This was the defining moment of my year. I will carry those lessons with me for life.

Onward and Forward

We did it.


Yesterday we mailed out a package filled with every detail of our lives to the capital building in Tallahassee for apostilling. From there (and barring any major mistakes on my part) the package will head to our adoption agency, most likely by the end of next week. I have one piece of paper that needs to be apostilled in the State of Arkansas and I’m waiting on one more document that will need apostilling in the State of California.

And then?

Then our dossier is complete.


As in done.


Into the hands of Russia. Metaphorically speaking, of course.

And now we don’t know what will happen. Will Russia close? Possibly. If that happens we will take a little time to breathe and are open to exploring other adoption options. But they might remain open. This whole political stand off may pass on by and if that happens, then we are that much closer to seeing this thing through.

So we wait and you know what? Waiting isn’t a lot of fun. It just isn’t. I want to know. I want to know now! I don’t want to wait. I don’t want to see what kind of blessing might be at the end of the unknown.

I’m so human and so impatient.

A friend reposted this video the other day and it’s served as a good reminder for me. This was made a few years ago and yes, that’s Sloan you see in the video. He was around 6 when they shot this at our church in St. Louis. Besides being an awesome and adorable look back at him and all the other kids I love so much, it’s been a good reminder that even when waiting is hard, there are rewards to patience.

I want my cookie now. I don’t want to wait for two cookies.

But I will wait. I will wait and I will work on patience and grace and love and peace until we are presented with the next step. I will wait for the blessings.


What are you waiting for? Can I be praying for you in the wait?


I haven’t had the heart to write this week. Between Christmas, birthday, a traveling husband, the flu, the tragedy in Connecticut and some adoption drama, I have felt a bit boggled and crazed.

I walk from room to room in my house with a very clear purpose in mind and by the time I reach the bedroom, I have forgotten why I went there. My brain is scattered and I can’t remember the most minor of details. The pantry is nearly bare and the fridge is empty of all but a few leftovers that have been in there for…well, for too long.

In the midst of all this chaos, I am trying to sit still – to breathe. I’m trying to keep perspective. I’m trying to spend more time on my knees and less time listening to all the noise.

Every day this week, I’ve put my kids on a school bus and sent them to a place that should be safe, but instead has become a warzone. Yes, our school is secure. But so was Sandy Hook. Yes, it probably won’t happen here. But it wasn’t probable there, either.

I got a sweet email from Sloan’s teacher this week assuring us that she loved our children and would do anything to protect them. I sobbed as a read that because she shouldn’t have to feel that way. Teachers shouldn’t have to think about how they will protect their children if a gunman comes in.

Teachers shouldn’t have to think about taking a bullet for a child.

The shouldn’t have to! But they do have to. I shouldn’t have to worry about my children being safe in school, but I do have to. My children shouldn’t have to walk into a building armed by policeman and doors locked tight.

That’s prison. It shouldn’t be school.

I think we’ve all lost a little innocence this week. Or maybe we were never as safe as we thought?

These things have served as a distraction along with the fact that Congress passed the Magnitsky Bill this week. I don’t really understand that bill, but from what I am reading I understand why Russia feels outraged. And Russia’s retaliation is to threaten to shut down adoptions.

Will it happen? Who knows. This is political bantering at its finest. Unfortunately, the collateral in all this back and forth are the children lying in orphanages.

Right now I am not panicked by the thought of adoptions closing down. I feel a peace. I truly believe that if God wants us to adopt a little girl, He will bring us a little girl. If He doesn’t, I will wait expectantly for what He does want to do with us. I don’t believe our family is complete yet and that is where I find this comfort.

But while I feel a peace, I am also in constant prayer over this. It is on my mind at all times. I’ve never felt more out of control as a parent and I have to cling to the One who I believe is in complete control. I have to focus on Him because if I don’t, then a blanket of grief and fear begin to close in and I feel like I’m going to suffocate.

I’m not a person prone to fear or doubt. I count it as a blessing that God has knit a unique measure of peace inside me that has always given me the ability to trust, to believe and to not wallow in the fear of the unknown. But this week has shaken me a bit. This week I’ve had to keep things simple. I’ve had to sit and think and ponder. I’ve had to focus on Christ as Lord and let everything else fade away.

Truly He taught us to love one another

His law is love and His gospel is peace

Chains will He break, for the slave is our brother

And in His Name all oppression shall cease.

Sweet hymns of hope in grateful chorus raise we

Let all within us praise His Holy Name

Christ is the Lord

Oh Praise His Name forever

His power and glory

Ever more shall reign

Adoption Update: Month Six

It’s been six months since we began this adoption journey. Shaky hands placing a thin sheet of paper into a crisp white envelope were what started us on this path. We told no one as we took this tiny, yet enormous, step forward. A step of faith. We had waited for the burning bush long enough – it was time to take action.

It’s been a roller coaster ride ever since.

I love reading the status updates and blog posts of my expectant friends. It reminds me of the exciting days when we were expecting a child. I would scour books and marvel at the fact that the child inside me was now as big as an apricot, a walnut, an orange, a pineapple, a small elephant (Sloan…that kid was huge!). I love the anticipation of pregnancy and the posts of growing bellys, gender reveals and approaching due dates leaves me happy with memory.

It dawned on me recently that part of what makes this adoption process so difficult is it feels so…lonely. I don’t have a cute, growing belly to dress. I don’t have weekly markers that point to the impending arrival. Whereas in pregnancy, most mothers can breathe easy after that twelve week mark passes, adoption always feels a bit tenuous.

I keep waiting for the floor to drop, for something to happen to end this journey. I think part of the reason that I feel this way is because I’m not celebrating the milestones – the little moments that mean we’re getting closer.

So here are a few little moments:


Our paperwork is nearly done. We submitted the first round to our agency for review and were only missing a few documents. Unfortunately, one of them is going to take about six weeks to complete, so we’re in a bit of a holding pattern, but there are things we can be doing to keep moving the process forward so that when the paper comes, we’ll be set.

We are almost $10,000 into the process. For awhile it felt like we were going nowhere with the funds, then BOOM! We had the next payment. We still have a long way to go, but I’m in awe of how far we’ve come.

Would you like to be part of that process with us? We could still use your help. I have ideas for some other fundraisers that I will kick off in the new year, but for now we are still running our Story campaign. So far we’ve received almost $2,000 from dear friends and readers through online and personal donations. Thank you!

It feels more real. I get a little scared to admit that, but the fact of the matter is this has shifted from being an idea to being a person. There’s a person out there waiting for us. A little girl. She’s real and she is ours. She is as real to me as any of my children were in utero.

She has become more real to the kids as well. There isn’t a day that goes by that they don’t mention their baby sister. They are excited to meet her and I’m so proud of how they’ve embraced the idea.

There are still challenges to be met in this process, though, and we would love your prayers:


We still have a lot of money to raise. A LOT of money to raise. God has been so faithful to provide and we prayerfully wait to see what He’s going to do next. But I am a terrible fundraiser. I am being stretched and pulled in this process and have learned so much already.

The paperwork needs to be coordinated and sent to various states to be apostilled and I am so nervous that stuff will get lost in the process. We are also on a bit of a clock and with our final clearance six weeks away, this leaves me a little worried that a lot of the paperwork will need to be redone. If we don’t receive a court date within one year from the notaries, the paperwork expires.


There are emotional challenges to prepare for. I don’t expect that bringing an adopted toddler into our home will be all sunshine and roses. It’s going to be hard and I’m sure there will be days when I sit on the floor and cry from exhaustion and an overwhelming sense of fatigue.

Kind of like I did with every one of my kids when they were newborns and I couldn’t figure out how to manage life with all the change.

In so many ways, this adoption journey mirrors a pregnancy. But it differs in a lot of ways, too. People don’t always understand why we chose adoption. I find myself still feeling like I need to defend our decision to do this and I must constantly stop and remember that we all have a different journey in this life. Our path won’t look like your path and that is okay.

Will you pray for us? As we head into the holiday season, I find myself longing for my daughter. I want to know who she is and see the completed picture. This is the exact same way I felt when I hit about seven months pregnant with each of my children. I was just ready to be done!

The only difference was that when I was seven months pregnant, I knew I only had to wait eight more weeks. At this point, we are very likely still looking at another year.

Adoption is hard. It’s so very, very hard. I may not have the growing belly, but I very much am growing a baby. She is growing in my heart and until she’s in my arms, I fear I will feel incomplete.

Thank you for praying.

Climbing the Mountain

He walked up to me and tugged on my sleeve, his eyes peeking out from beneathe a mop of white blonde hair. I knelt down so we could be eye level and he jabbered something unintelligable to my untrained ears. With no one to translate nearby, I sat down and pulled him into my lap and did the only thing I knew to do.

I counted his fingers, one by one.

Odin, dva, tre, chiteri, pyat, shest, syem, vosyem, devyet, decyet…

I don’t remember his name or anything else we did that day. I just remember sitting on the floor of the orphanage with a little boy in my lap, counting to ten over and over. I left that day with a seed planted deep in my heart to go back and to bring one of those precious children home with me.

That was nineteen years ago.

We are at the bottom of this mountain called adoption – base camp. The peaks that stand above us are daunting and intimidating. Had we chosen to make this climb ten years ago, or even five, it would have been much easier, much less intimidating, less expensive and less scary.

But we were to climb  the mountain at this time, and by faith we take each step forward knowing that reaching the summit is only hoped for, but is not promised.

Though I am not much of a mountain climber myself, I love to read stories of people conquering the world’s greatest mountains, particularly Everest. The dedication that they put to training and preparing for the climb fascinates me. Climbers go to Everest with a dream. To most of us, it’s a crazy dream. Why put yourself at that much risk for a mountain? It doesn’t make sense.

But to them it does. It’s a singular passion that drives them to grueling training sessions, thousands of dollars raised and spent and all is done with the very real knowledge that they could never actually make it to the summit. There are so many factors that could come into play to end their quest for the top, yet on they push because passion ignited is impossible to put out.

This is the place that Lee and I are in. We are standing at the bottom, looking up, a fire burning inside to reach the top but we know we must take it one step at a time. First, set up at base camp, get acclimated to the surroundings. We are reading and researching, filling out paperwork and communicating with those who have gone before us, who know the path and can tell us what to expect with each turn.

We are leaning on our adoption Sherpas.

Perhaps the most daunting peak that looms high before us now is the cost. It is the piece of this puzzle that shakes my faith the most. And yet, every morning as I pray and lay my fears down before the One who ignited the passion, I hear a very small whisper deep in my soul.

I Am bigger than the mountain. I Am bigger than the cost. I Am the one who still does miracles so great. I Am bigger than your fears and doubts. I Am bigger than the impossible.


I cling to these promises like a lifeline.


Jen Hatmaker wrote a post this week that opened my eyes to so many of the challenges we are yet to face. Before reading her post, I held the likely false assumption that our summit moment would come when we finally step off the plane in Tampa with our daughter in our arms, but I don’t know that this is the case.

That will be a beautiful moment and the view will likely be astounding, but there will still be more mountain to climb. There will be adjustments for us as a family, new dynamics to get used to, new routines to follow and a new person to learn and know.

The summit is still a ways off and there may be some rough climbing ahead before we reach it. But I trust that we will reach it.

Right now, all I see are paperwork and deadlines. Keeping the summit in view is crucial to getting through this phase of the process. Without that hope, without a picture of what might be, we would give up. Because this is really hard.

When I was pregnant with Sloan, I held a picture in my head of what I thought he would look like. He was our first born so I really had no idea, but there were loose images that would float through my dreams. I remember clearly holding him in the hospital after he had been all cleaned up and we’d been transferred to our new room.

I knew him. His face was so familiar to me. All those loose images came crashing together to form the face of this tiny child who seemed to have always been buried inside me all along. It was as though I’d known him my whole life.

I have a similarly loose picture of our daughter. There are no distinct features, of course. Russia is not like many other countries you adopt from. We have no guarantee of a skin color, eye color or hair color and none of those things matter to us. But there is this vague image that is floating and swimming and I cling to it with the hope that sometime in the next year I will walk into a worn building and lay eyes on a face that has been waiting for us since the beginning of time.

I’m climbing the mountain for her.

We are all climbing a mountain of some kind. Ours happens to be adoption and we would love prayer for the process. How can I be praying for you in return? Perhaps your mountain is the need for employment or a financial burden? Perhaps it is life changes or illness? Whatever the mountain you are facing, I would love to join you in prayer.


No one should climb the mountain alone.