Monday, March 26, 2018

Our Adoption Journey

I'm so excited to be sitting down and writing this out. Today our adoption was finalized and I couldn't be more thrilled.
 Our journey started May 2017.  Last May, some members of our congregation showed up at church with a slew of children that weren't their own. They had the kids for the weekend for respite care. I help teach children at church and was able to meet them. When I first met Jovalyn, I felt an instant connection to her, and I knew I had to do something. I spoke with a friend who gave me the number of a DYS  (department of youth services) social worker. I called her right after church. She told me they weren't separating the children, and were trying to keep them in pairs, which I totally understood. We made a plan for us to take Jovalyn and one of her sisters for respite care the following weekend (if this or other things that follow don't make sense to you legally, my only answer for you is: "it's Saipan"). They came for respite care and it went fine, but it just didn't feel like the right fit for our family. I told the social worker I was sorry but that it just wasn't a good fit. I told her I could do respite here and there when needed- I discovered that the kids had been living in the shelter here for almost a year.  The social worker called me a few days later and she told me that they were going to try to split the kids up a little bit to see if they could become a little more independent. At this point, all of the kids were super reliant and dependent on each other and clung to each other and were just these timid, scared little kids. She asked if we would like to take Jovalyn for the weekend and see how it goes. I was surprised to hear all of that, and told her I wanted what was best for them, and did not want to take Jovalyn away from her siblings if it wasn't in her best interest. She assured me it was okay, and we took her for the weekend. On Sunday, she called and asked how things were going and asked if we would like to keep her longer and foster her. The weekend had gone great and felt right and we said yes. Jovalyn slowly started blossoming. She is fun-loving, spunky, sensitive, loving, shy around new people, and brave.  About a month after she first came into our home we learned of some pretty devastating news that was most assuring to me that she and all of her biological siblings actually should Not be together. After that, and learning about some of the sad things in her history, I knew I wanted to pursue adoption. She kept growing and learning and living and there really isn't any other way to describe it besides "blossom". She truly blossomed. When I look back at how she was when she first came to us, and even during the first months.. She has grown and bloomed so much. She is a beautiful person and has taught us so much. We are lucky to have her. At the beginning of October Jacob received his confirmation that we needed to try to adopt her, so we tried to figure out the HOW. Here in Saipan, parents rights are sooooo rarely terminated; it is a very rare thing. So we decided to just ask her parents. They said no.  We were pretty bummed. but decided to just be patient. 4 months later in February we decided to ask again. We sat down with them and had a heart to heart and talked to them about all of our dreams and hopes for her. They got emotional and said they'd think about it. A week later we showed up at the hearing, and found out they were consenting to the adoption!!! We were thrilled. That was February 14. About a week and half later her parents signed the consent form and I turned in our court documents. Today we went to our hearing and were granted the adoption.  I still can't believe it. I have been SOOO excited for this day. I've been counting down with excitement and anticipation like a pregnant momma that can't wait to hold her new little baby. 

There were so many things along the way that showed God's hand in this whole thing. I know of a surety that He has a plan for Jovalyn's life (and mine and Jacob's, and all of my other kids!), and it's a good one. He truly cares about all of His children and wants so badly for all of us to be happy and love one another.

I also want to add, if you are considering adoption, please consider foster care. There is no way to measure what your unconditional love can do for a child. To learn more about foster care, I highly recommend the podcast on Marvelous Mom's Club where she interviews Cara Brook from Maskcara.












































Sunday, December 27, 2015

Christmas on Saipan

Christmas Eve was when the fun started. Usually on Christmas Eve we do the whole build up with nativity, Christmas stories in the BoM and Bible, Christmas books, Twas the Night Before Christmas, new PJs, Christmas carols and hymns, etc. But this year we decided to get the kids kittens (remember the shrew problem ;)) Jacob picked them up on his way home from work (just worked til noon) and we spent the afternoon playing with them, then in the evening we went to get dinner (Taco Bell) and went to a Christmas Mass for a little while. It was in Chamorro, so we couldn't understand, but you could still feel the spirit as they celebrated Christ's birth. We only lasted 20 minutes (kids) and then went to meet up with friends for Dodgeball. ---sidenote: whenever someone invites me to play dodgeball I ALWAYS think in my mind that it is kickball! And I LOVE LOVE kickball, so I'm always all pumped to play kickball and then it's dodgeball and I get a little alarmed because I am horrible at throwing and great at getting hit in the face and I haven't had time to mentally prepare! I DO like dodgeball, I just don't love it like I love kickball, and I need to mentally prepare for the onslaught of painful balls being thrown at me--- Anyway it was tons of fun, I got a nice bruise on my leg, did not get a single person out, but also did not get hit in the face! Success! It was great. Then we went to a friends house and decorated Christmas cookies and just enjoyed life and hung out. It was way fun. We didn't get home until after 10, so we just did a quick nativity thing and Twas the Night Before Christmas, and put stockings out.

2 of my cookies- Peace on Earth.. ha! yeah, I think I'm funny ;)

post signatureOur Christmas was pretty relaxed. We just did the normal stockings, presents thing, haha :) We like to keep things simple and low key, and this is the first year where we even had the financial option to do a little more, but we did not :) It's just something that works for us. We had breakfast of poptarts and oranges (Did I mention we like to keep things simple? lol) We played around for awhile, then everyone took naps. After naps we played with our new stuff a bit, Jacob and I read, the kids watched Frosty the Snowman, and we did our nativity and BoM and Bible story stuff, and I made cinnamon bread for dinner. Dinner was knock-off Kneader's french toast. If you live in Mormonville, check out Kneader's.. holy yum. My fav is their chicken caesar salad, and their turkey pesto panini. While the bread was baking, we went down to the beach for a walk. It was amazing. It was so beautiful out, and I feel a lot of gratitude living here. Looking at everyone's pictures makes me miss home and family and snow and mountains, but we are blessed to be here. Our time here is a gift. After our beach walk we went home and had dinner, then went down to the beach for a fire and s'mores. The marshmallows were forgotten, and there was too much chocolate, but it was so perfect. The moon shining brightly on the water. I felt so alive and so at peace. The kids were playing and searching for creatures. One of our friends brought his ukulele and it created the perfect atmosphere. It felt so surreal and I never want to forget that night. Everyone was relaxed and happy. My senses were so alive and the ocean breeze on my skin and in my hair, and the sand in my toes and the fire crackling, and the laughter of easy conversation. It was magical (friends tell me I'm in the honeymoon stage here, ha!)
We had to cut Everett's hair :( Jase cut the sides and it looked AWFUL. I cried. These are before.

Our beautiful walk.
I tried to capture my magical Christmas fire on the beach moment... without success. :)

The day after Christmas was a day spent in the water! (My favorite) We went down to Sugar Dock with some friends and their kayak. Sugar Dock is a "pretty" beach with nice sand calm water and pretty lagoon colors. We took turns on the kayak, and took the kids over to jump off the dock. I'm so proud of both my kids! It's hard to jump from high heights, but they did it! After Sugar Dock we had lunch and naps. 



















After naps we went to Bird Island for some snorkeling and beach combing. Bird Island is a fairly rocky beach with a  lot to explore underwater.



Sunday, December 20, 2015

Saipan

Well we have been here for 2 1/2 months already! On one hand it feels like we have been here forever, on the other it feels like we have been here only a few days.
Saipan is a lot of things. It is paradise. But it is also a third world country. It is breathtakingly beautiful. We are so blessed to be here. One of my favorite things here is to sit in our living room and read with the windows and doors open and feel the ocean breeze on my skin, and listen to the waves crash, and watch the birds fly. It's incredible. We are adjusting. It is a difficult adjustment for most people, and we are included in the "most". It is so hard to describe it here. All of the Americans here seems to agree with that. There aren't many of us. The island is mostly locals (Chamorro), natives from nearby islands, and Filipinos. I know most of you are probably thinking "You live on a tropical island! What is there to adjust to?!" It's not the tropical island part.. That is the blessing that helps us get through everything else. It is truly a different world, in a third world country. Working internet, reliable cell service, hair appointments, and house decorations are all luxuries of the past. We actually don't even HAVE internet at our house, because it isn't available. And the cell data is "3G", but speed wise, is 2G at best. We have shrews that come into our house, and the ONLY thing we can do about it is get a cat.. so we are getting a kitten for Christmas. Shrews/rats/mice in the house... that is a first world "problem" and is just life here.  And geckos? We welcome them in and sometimes catch them and bring them inside to eat the bugs. haha :) And grocery shopping can be very frustrating. You go to the store to get ingredients, only to find that they are out. And it could be months until a new shipment of it comes in. Groceries are extremely expensive. $8/gal for shelf stable boxed milk. Milk that needs to be kept cold is $12/gal or more. I don't want this to sound like complaining, because I am Not complaining. I'm just trying to describe it here. Decorating your house? Definitely a first world thing. It isn't a thing here, and one I am getting used to. I like having things on my walls. Though really, they are completely unnecessary. And maybe that is what it boils down to. Unnecessary things like nice vehicles, new clothes and working internet aren't actually a necessity, and therefore not a part of life here. There are some great things about it that go hand in hand with that though! Consumerism and materialism are pretty non-existent, and "Keeping up with the Joneses?" well, there isn't anything to keep up with! We are enjoying that part of life and living here makes it clear how blessed we are, even here with so little. Most people have less than us. We have neighbors whose houses and all of their belongings blew away in the typhoon (western pacific name for hurricane) a few months ago. It is humbling to see.  The people here are so good and kind and put family above career. You don't see people here working 60+ hours/wk to get ahead. You see people taking off early to spend time with family. They know that family is more important than things. And another of my favorite things: I RARELY see people hunched over electronic devices. I'm sure that is mostly because people can't afford them here, but it's so refreshing to see people constantly engaged with each other, with their full attention, not constantly checking their phones. I love it. So there it is. Life in Saipan in a nutshell. It's amazing and frustrating and beautiful and we will do a lot of learning and growing here. We have a lot to learn from these beautiful and humble and people!
View from Capitol Hill of the lagoon side of the island.
Above picture is our view from our balcony- Lau Lau Bay
Pau Pau Beach, on the lagoon side of the island. We LOVE having the lagoon-- no waves, so the much less dangerous for the kids to play in!
 
Jacob and I on Managaha (a little island in the lagoon) Saipan is in the background
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The view from the apartment the hospital put us in for a month. You can see Managaha in the lagoon there :)

Rainbow at Ladder Beach

                           Morning sunrise from my bed.

This one I took when we went to Lau Lau Beach, Jacob took the kids to collect shells and I laid down and read.

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