Thursday, April 30, 2009

14

I honestly can't believe it - where in the world does the time go? To think that our first blessing is 14 today! That simply amazes me. Micah, you are truly an amazing gift to us - we feel SO blessed that God chose us to be your parents. You have an incredible heart - a heart that reaches out to others AND to God. We love how God made you that way - not only are you an amazing big brother to all of your brothers and sister, but you are also an amazing son. I remember being scared to be a parent to teenagers and, thanks to you, we just feel excited about parenting during these upcoming teen years. Happy Birthday - I know it's the day you get gifts, but we feel like we got the BEST gift 14 years ago!!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Jada Fund

Somehow - that's what it's been dubbed - Jada Fund. Makes me smile! I just wanted to throw a couple of tidbits out there. Chloe's Closet is up and running!! It is mostly clothes at the moment but I have one book on adoption AND I have a local donation on there - a friend offered to give one of her cakes from her business - so you have to be local to pick it up - but the offer is good for one year - just wanted anyone from around here to know about it - that is a fun donation - thanks Sara! (Selfishly I'm thinking I may need to bid - BIRTHDAYS??? We have a few over here!!)

Also - a couple of other friends have planned a TIP NIGHT for us at Pizza Ranch in Orange City. Wednesday, May 6 from 5-8pm 10% of all dine-in sales AND all tips will go to our Jada Fund. Mark it on your calendar and plan to eat out that night!! :)

What a blessing this all is to us. We are totally overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support - people give that don't even know us. People email and encourage us over and over - we just feel loved on! Thanks all of you for that. What stories we will have to share with our little Jada when she comes home (and learns English, of course)!! Again, God is just SO good.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Amazing

What always amazes me is that God takes care of everything! And again, for this adoption, we have people asking how they can help financially. So I will post some different ways you can help give money toward our adoption.

1) You can give to the piggy bank in the sidebar - this goes through Paypal.
2) You can sign up for a blog makeover at Busy Mama Blog Design.
3) You can order from Amazon.com by clicking on ANY of our links at the bottom of this page - you don't even have to order THAT item, but any order placed by clicking in through our blog - gives a small portion to our family account.
4) You can mail a check to our church and give through them - that would give you a tax deductible statement. If you choose this route here's the address:
New Hope Evangelical Free Church
Attn: Lisa Leusink
718 Florida Ave. SW
Orange City, IA 51041
IN THE MEMO LINE: put "Adoption for Bilby's" and it will 100% get to us and you will get a tax-deductible statement as well.
5) Any Creative Memories orders placed through my site also give a portion back to us - so that is good too!! (Traditional Scrapbooking or Digital Supplies - either counts!!)
6)Lastly, I am starting another blog - I know, I hear the groans now!! - but this one is called Chloe's Closet - I am selling all of Chloe's out-grown clothes that I was saving for Jada and now know won't fit her! I am also accepting DONATIONS of items to auction on this site as well - some designers have offered to send me brand new items to list on there - and that helps us too!

We do still have a LARGE chunk to pay Bethany here before our adoption is finished. This adoption, with all of the renewals and price increases, will cost us almost $10,000 more than Chloe's adoption - and while we wouldn't have it any other way - that is a lot of money!
MORE THAN any financial giving - we SO covet your prayers. We feel so much peace in this, we know God has brought us this far and will continue to lead and guide us - we just are thrilled by your prayers for Jada and our family - God is good!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

More of Our Journey

Joe continues our story:

We continued to wait for more information. As we said we asked for additional medical tests. We also wanted a video so we could see her interaction with others. The video was not an option as well. But God provided something just as good.

Becky joined a yahoo group a week or so ago. It was a group for those who have adopted from Changshu, the same orphanage where Jada is located. At first we couldn’t get a response in order to be accepted into the group and then a few days ago we were accepted.

A woman who had adopted her daughter from Changshu happened to check the email and something caught her eye. We had posted that we were adopting a 3 year old girl with vision problems who was in a foster home. This woman’s daughter was also in a foster home. After receiving her daughter she had the opportunity to return to the orphanage, a three hour drive, and then also had the opportunity to meet with the foster mom. The foster mom brought with her another child she was fostering and the yahoo group mother wondered if it was possible that our Jada was the same little girl.

We sent her a picture and she responded that it was indeed the same little girl. She also sent us pictures she had taken of her daughter and the foster mom as well as Jada. How incredible that God provided us with a mom who has met our daughter and could answer so many of our questions.

What a blessing it was for God to answer our prayers and calm our fears. We know that the future holds many unknowns but we praise God that He has so clearly shown us that He is indeed for us. That He is in control and we can trust him.

We are looking forward to bringing Jada home. I hope our journey encourages you. We also would like to ask that each of you pray for us as we continue on this Journey and bring Jada home to be a part of our family forever.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Our Journey Continued

More from Joe:
After receiving the call from our social worker I read the email with all the information. I contacted Becky and the two of us questioned what all of this meant. We were surprised that there was even a condition called Aniridia.

Knowing that we only had 5 hours to make a decision the engines started and we sought out the council of our local doctor. Jon had helped us with every one of our files and we grew to trust him in knowing and selecting children that we felt we could safely bring into our home. We sent him the medical information and asked if he would have time in his usually busy schedule to look at the file.

We were surprised when he actually had a small chunk of time where he could review the file and meet with us. Becky and I rearranged our schedules and headed over to see him. We were thankful that he was able to meet with us and go over the file but this was such a rare condition, and he had not had any experience with it.

We left Jon’s office wondering what should be our next step. We had so many questions that needed answers so we drove to our agency and hoped that our social worker would be available to help us. We were surprised but happy that she was indeed in the office.

The head director started doing research on the internet and found a specialist at the University of Iowa. She printed out the web page and encouraged us to give him a call. The number was right on the page so we went to the conference room and gave it a try. To our surprise he actually picked up the phone. We spoke with him for nearly half an hour and he was willing to review the file.

The information we received was inconclusive. Aniridia can manifest itself in so many degrees. There are a number of related issues that can join with the condition and all of those can have varying degrees. Basically we were given more information to ponder and more information to add to our list of fears.

After the phone call we received more information from the director of a foundation - The Aniridia Foundation. We decided to call once we got home. I called, was able to speak with someone who was going to pass on my number to the founder of the foundation. To our surprise the founder, Jill, also has Aniridia. Shortly after the call we received an answer from Jill. We spoke for awhile and were greatly encouraged. It was good to hear and speak to someone who knew so much and was so well informed.

We took time to speak with our children to let them know what we were struggling with. We gave them the information that we knew and let them begin the same process of decision making that we were going through.

In just a few short hours we had received so much information. What was totally unknown to us at 11:50 had become a reality in such a short amount of time. A decision still had to be made but little time was left. I had to take Chloe to Kindermusik at 3:45 and Becky had to run to work. We left with all of this swirling in our minds and a promise to cry out to God in prayer to see his direction.

During Kindermusik Becky and I continued to search, pray and seek God. I called her at 4:59 to ask what she thought we should do. Both of us didn’t have a clue. We were so unclear. For some reason our hearts told us we couldn’t say no but we knew so little we couldn’t say yes. Becky called our social worker, in tears, to let her know that we couldn’t make a decision. We needed more time. Our sw basically offered to call Grand Rapids and ask what was possible. We didn’t think they would actually give us more time and that we had to have an answer in the event that more time wouldn’t be given. As much as we didn’t want to we told our sw we would have to say no if more time wasn’t granted.

Becky hung up the phone and our oldest son said, “I cannot believe you just did that. Why did you say no?” We tried to explain the seriousness of the situation and he said, “We can do this, and she needs a home.” What a blessing it is to have children whose hearts are so soft and open. We pray that God will protect that and grow it as they mature.

Well, Becky had to go to work at 5:00. I had to return home and fix meals for the kids. She struggled at work and I struggled at home. I went to the library so we could talk and catch up.

We were encouraged by so many people. Becky’s friend and boss knew something was wrong and we filled her in. She encouraged us that we could do it. I came in and spoke with her and she gave me the same encouragement.

From there I went to the church and just fell on my face and cried out to God. We didn’t know what He wanted us to do. We didn’t know if He wanted this for our family. Were we supposed to say yes or no? What was the wise thing to do? Could we handle this? Did we want this? Why? How? What were we supposed to do?

As I prayed I turned through scripture and wanted to seek in the Word what I should do. Each passage I turned to spoke of God’s power, His might, strength, preservation and planning. Then I would tell God that I needed more clarity, “What do you want us to do?” I turned to another passage and read how God was Almighty, All-knowing and All-powerful. Then in my prayers I told him again. “I know that, but what do you want us to do?” Once again I turned and His Word revealed that He is the mighty God, He is the creator, the One who holds all things together, the One who has all power. At that point I had to rest and know that God was showing me that I need to trust.

I finished my two hours of prayer and returned home to prepare the kids for bed and wait for Becky to return from work.

Becky returned from work. We shared our experiences and how God had been speaking to us. We continued to pray and seek and talk. At 11:00 we came to the conclusion that we couldn’t say no. We needed to move to call and lock this child in for us.

Becky called our social worker and she called Grand Rapids and we were locked in. We felt so much peace. We went to bed and rested knowing that we had done the right thing.

Then Tuesday morning came.

Tuesday came and we both woke up and wondered, “What did we just do?” “What did we say yes to?” The questions started to surface. The fears started to rise. At one point Becky nearly had a panic attack at work; we knew we didn’t want to say no but we were so afraid of all we didn’t know.

The medical information was inconclusive. There appeared to be inconsistencies in her abilities. Based on the research we had done on Aniridia we wanted to ask for medical testing so we would know the level of care that would be required.

We started putting together a list of things we would like to know. We wanted to have a video, we wanted medical tests, we basically wanted updated information on her abilities. We put the list together and sent it to our social worker.

Then we started getting information from other sources. Jill, from the Aniridia Foundation, sent us multiple emails with information. She put us in contact with two families who had adopted from China and had children with this same condition. She contacted us and had us talk with a urologist that worked with her. He was a Chinese national who practiced in China for 15 years. Aniridia can affect the kidneys so it was nice to speak with him.

We spent time seeking council from our trusted friends. We sought council from our Pastor and his wife. We were searching and seeking out wisdom from as many sources as we could all the while continuing to pray for guidance.

On Friday we attended our church Harp and Bowl prayer service. We think it is a blessing that we even had this service since it had been moved from its original date. We tend to think that God moved it just for us because He knew we would need it. What a blessing it was to settle down with our church body and pray, to have a time to just seek after God.

Each Day God would reveal more to us and each day we would find peace only to have it followed up with fear of the unknown. We had so little information that it was hard for us to settle on an answer. Our minds would move between all the different levels and possibilities. We would think of things she would or wouldn’t be able to do. We would think of our desires and hopes and how they may or may not be fulfilled in her. It was a real struggle for us as we pondered if God was asking us to do this.

While we waited for information about this little girl we started searching for opportunities on line. Becky found a wonderful ministry on line. She sent an email and asked if there was any way to get information on this little girl. We were thankful that they had contacts and were able to receive an updated report on her.

During this process we struggled with finding a name. This little girl’s Chinese name was difficult to say and so we were constantly referring to her as “her”, “the little girl” and “she”. It was hard to make this personal when we didn’t have a name. We had picked a number of names that we liked. We tend to go for the Bible names and wanted to select a Bible name since all of our other children had names from the Bible. The problem was that we just couldn’t find a name that fit this little girl. Chloe wanted us to name her "Princess Sparkles" but the boys nixed that fast!!

Over time our family decided to go off of the meaning in her Chinese name. Her name means Jade. So we decided to call her Jada. Little did we know that Jada is a Biblical name and a friend of ours told us that it is found in the Bible in three places. The most amazing thing is what Jada means. Jada is Hebrew for “He Knows”. What an amazing word to us. In all of our struggles our greatest struggle was that we didn’t know. We didn’t know enough about Jada’s condition but we can trust that “He knows”. God knows all that we need to know and we can trust in him. With tears streaming down our faces, we smile and know "He knows". Jada Faith


Friday, April 17, 2009

Our Journey

Over the next several days we want to post our journey of faith. God has been doing incredible things in our lives and we want to give Him the glory for His guidance, direction and patience.
We are so very excited about bringing Jada home to be with us. But we want to be honest with all of you. It has not been an easy path.

As some of you know we have been in process since May of 2006. There were delays in getting our paperwork completed which caused us to have a LID of January 2007. From the very beginning we knew God was leading us in this process. He gave us some wonderful confirmations.

As the timeline continued to grow with China our hearts began to open to children with special needs. Over the last 2 years we have patiently waited as our agency and then China changed the special needs program a number of times. During that time we opened our hearts to a number of little ones. Each time we would consider and then request a child with just a little larger need. Total today we have selected 11 different little ones, only to be told no each time.

A few weeks ago we opened our hearts to yet another little one. We really prayed and had others praying for us. We had such a hope that this would finally be our daughter. We loved her picture, we loved her need and really felt that God and prepared us for her. But yet again we were not selected. We were excited knowing that so many families requested her. We were told that 60 some families had requested her and that there were just a few who had been waiting longer – so we were not selected. Since that time we have continued to pray for her. Chloe hasn’t allowed us to even take down her picture because she wanted to pray and be her friend.

God is good. Becky was able to connect with the parents of this little girl through the wonder of the internet. Her name will be **** and we hope Chloe and her can be pen pals. How sweet to know that God allowed us to connect with her parents. We hope that we can continue to pray for her and see how God works in her life.

God does indeed work in ways beyond our understanding. I think He likes that. It keeps us having to trust in Him and not in ourselves. I think He likes it when we rely on Him more than we rely on ourselves. I think so often we try to teach our children to be self-sufficient and we don’t spend as much time to teaching them to be God-sufficient. He meets our needs and loves to do it. I think God has plans to continue teaching us how to rely on Him for all that we need.

Becky and I had just started to recover from what we considered a real loss in not receiving **** as our child. We didn’t understand why God didn’t give her to us and we were very disappointed. We began the process of praying, again, that God would bring the right child to us.

Just a week after finding out that we were not to be the parents of **** I, Joe, received a phone call at work at around 12:00. It was during a meeting I was conducting but the receptionist passed it to me in the meeting room. As I picked up the phone I noticed that the caller ID screen had the name Bethany Christian Services. I was really excited thinking that maybe this was the call we had been waiting for.

Heather, our wonderful social worker, explained that a child had been selected for us from the portal. She explained that we had a limited amount of time to make a decision and that we needed to have an answer as to whether to lock her in by 5:00. She mentioned that her special need involved her eyes and that she was born without irises. I have to say that the way she mentioned her need that it sounded like something rather simple and I kind of brushed it off. I thought to myself, “ no irises – that is neat because I had just noticed a few days earlier that it was rather hard to tell what color eyes Chloe had. In fact we always said Chloe’s eyes were brown but until just a few days before I hadn’t really paid attention.” So I hung up the phone, finished my meeting and then returned to my desk.

At that point I did what every techie parent would do and I googled “no irises”. Little did I know that I was starting a journey with ups and downs, twists and turns. I learned that the scientific name for this condition was called Aniridia. I read the information and an instant fear settled into my heart.

To be continued:

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

God's Faithfulness

A year after we brought Chloe home, our boys started a new bank in their room - it wasn't their normal one and so it prompted Joe and I to ask them about it. They told us they were helping to save for their next sister. Let's just say that Joe and I were shocked - we thought God was probably done building our family. But sometimes God chooses to work on us through our kids and thus a seed was planted in our hearts - another Bilby! We started in May of 2006 on our paperwork and now, we have been through THREE VERY LONG YEARS of waiting, we have asked for numerous little ones on our agency's waiting children list, and had our hearts broken each time as we were told "no" because we weren't far enough in line. It is amazing what God will do though - just two weeks ago we were told "no" yet again on a little one that we were VERY attached to. We just felt we had to be getting close to the top of the line, and yet again God said "No" - only to turn around the very next Monday and give us our daughter - one we didn't ask for - she was just given to us. We got the call on Monday right before lunch time - we had a daughter! God is so good to us - and we knew all along that His timing was perfect - but man, that wait is LONG and HARD! We wouldn't have it any other way.

Our Jada Faith is waiting for us in Changshu in a foster home. She will be 3 in May - yep, exactly 3 years to the VERY month that we started our paperwork. God is good!! We are thrilled we just can't post pictures yet - until we get approval from China. But don't you fear - they'll be up as SOON as China says yes!!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter

We spent Easter weekend with my sister and her family at my dad and mom's house. What a good time with family - our only "yuck" spot - Micah was sick almost THE WHOLE time - poor kid - we still aren't sure what was going on with that. Here are a few pics of the cousins AND Chloe getting ready for the egg hunt - couldn't miss this tradition - our kids look forward to our annual hunts!!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Gotcha Day

Yes - 4 years ago this wonderful girl was given to us - we all say she's a gift beyond compare!! So today is her Gotcha Day and we had to celebrate! Chloe kept asking us all day what this day was and we kept telling her Gotcha Day, but she insisted it was "My Patrick's Day" - what do we know anyway!?!?! All these holidays just run together I guess! So here she is in her glory!!
She begs to hear her story over and over - I love that. And I love to hear her giggle when I tell her she cried and cried ALL that first day - ok the first THREE DAYS - then she just smiles and says, "Mommy, I was telling you in Chinese that I was hungry." Oh - if only we had known!! :)

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Thinking Back

We are coming up on the very day, 4 years ago, now that God gave us Chloe. That is a fun day for our family - we remember lots of things with her. I remember most how incredibly HARD that day was - we wanted to love all over her - we had been waiting for her for over a year - she, on the other hand, had no idea she needed another home other than the one she had known for her short 8 months of life. I can not imagine how traumatic that day was for her - hey, if you were handed to me with TORNADO hair (thanks, Chloe) you'd be scared too!! :) But it was also a WONDERFUL day - a day we wouldn't trade for any other! We have been blessed. I found this article online though and think it's a wonderful way to portray what might have been going through her mind - in a way that makes sense to me!
When you are harvesting your crops and forget to bring in a bundle of grain from your field, don't go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigners, orphans and widows. Then the LORD your God will bless you in all you do.
~Deuteronomy 24:19

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