Luisa's Adoption...

 This is long, I'm just warning you...
Oh my!  Where to begin...?  Luisa's story is so special and meaningful to me, I don't know how to even begin to share it.  I guess it all started once we brought Anaya home, we thought about the fact that we wanted her to have a sister, but I knew after doing her adoption that I DID NOT WANT TO DO ANOTHER INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Anaya and we did have a truly AMAZING experience, one that in fact, gets sweeter as time goes by.  But, I will be honest and was HARD!  I did not like the LONG wait and delays that are associated with adoption as a whole, and truly prayed for God to "just drop a baby in my lap!"  Of course God needed to teach me a few more lessons, didn't just happen like that!

We didn't have the money for another international adoption.  Funny thing is I actually tried to use that excuse!  Ha!  God didn't let us use it for Anaya's adoption, and he wasn't about to let me use it for this adoption either!  I also tried to tell God that it was too hard, I wanted something nice, easy, quick and simple.(Funny. I know!  If adoption were that way, maybe there would be fewer orphans because more people would be willing to adopt!)

We prayed for direction and that lead us {eventually} to do a domestic infant adoption.  You can read about our announcement HERE. 
Both Ryan and I had been reading several awesome books (see my book shelf on the left) that God used to start working on our hearts and minds, we had no idea what He was preparing us for.  We both felt like we just wanted to sell everything we own {which wouldn't get us very much!} and go move to Africa...or some foreign country.  We had a yearning in our souls for more{still do!}  More God, more faith, more doing what He wants us to do.  But, we didn't know what that "thing" was He wanted us to do{I do NOT think this adoption is "it," the end all, but rather just a piece of the life long journey he has for our lives; we want to CONTINUALLY do what HE has for us.}

About that same time, we started feeling led to look into adopting a 'waiting child.'(a child with a special need or older or "hard to place" ~ not a "perfectly healthy" baby like 'everyone else' was waiting for.)  Now hear this...NEVER, in a million years did I ever see our family adopting a child with 'special needs.'  That was something I felt I was not cut out for.  But God...He was working on our hearts and minds and we, longing to do His will set out to do what ever it was he called us to.  We are not special people, just ordinary joe's who He is using to be His hands and feet.  So,....I searched TONS of waiting child websites and eventually signed up under Rainbow Kids.

When you sign up you are asked to fill out an adoption profile, there is a long list of "special needs" that you can mark whether or not you would accept and they send you profiles of waiting children who match your profile.  When going down the list, I knew some of the things that were listed, but most, I had never heard of.  So I would ask Ryan "What do we think about_____________?"  And he would always say "Sure!" { I know, he is an amazing man...! }  Well, I came to HIV and once again asked Ryan what we thought of it, and he said, sure, why not?  So I checked the box!(I had just finished reading several of the books I mentioned earlier, many which dealt with HIV and AIDS~hmmm!)  Soon we started receiving emails about waiting children, sometimes several per day.  And each time I would look and come up with some excuse why we could not take that particular child and go on my merry way!  Well, one day we got an email and these 3 little lines caught my eye :

H09-08 This chubby cheeked girl is developing well. She is described as being calm and gentle and enjoys cuddling. She has good strength, but waits for a family because she is HIV+."

I have quite an affinity for chubby cheeked cuddly children, looking back, I KNOW God had used those words so we wouldn't pass on the gift of adopting Luisa!
So, I inquired to the agency for more information.
Well, they had me fill out umpteen forms and send in our home study. I was a little put off, I wasn't adopting her {yet,} I just wanted a little more information!  A few days went by and I started freaking out.  I wanted a newborn baby (she was already a year old,) I didn't want to do an international adoption (at this point I didn't even know what country she was from!)  I distinctly remember bringing the kids to Spanish class, dropping them off and crying out to God that I didn't want to do this!  *BUT* I would.  We had been praying and seeking God's will in all areas of our life, I would do this, but only if it was from Him.  I would do it, IF He would just make it as "plain and clear to me as the nose on my face!" {yes that is what I said as I was bawling my head off, but wait it gets worse!}  I then proceeded to tell God that IF He wants me to do this, maybe He could give her a name that I like, one on my list{yes, I had a list of baby names, and no it was not long, 8 to be exact, 4 first and 4 middle.  That is it!  But I was willing to give Him a little room because I added that even a variation of one of those names would be fine too!}then I would know that she is the one.{how bossy am I?!}  I mean after all, we don't have the money for this, and our insurance isn't great(excuses, excuses, excuses...)

But then one day a few days later, Ryan was not home, and I get this email from the agency that holds her file and I open it to find the full referral and a picture of a sweet baby girl, and as her paperwork slowly scrolls open on my computer, I started shaking and crying guessed it, HER NAME was a variation of TWO names on my list AND the night before I had told Ryan that I loved the name LUISA!!!!!{for those of you that must know, the names on my list were Lucy Joy and Ava Louise!}  I knew I was staring at my child!  I quickly called Ryan, he came home and we both stood there looking at her, astonished that they sent us the whole referral, and now we had 2 weeks to decide if we wanted to adopt her or not!  Gulp!

So started a flurry of phone calls and investigating our insurance, and trying to find programs to help pay for the drugs!  Are you kidding me?  They are expensive!   We also had to find an Pediatric Infectious Disease Doctor, and we ourselves needed to be more educated on the matter as well.  We prayed for the way to be paved for us since this was His idea, not ours.

I wish I could say I was really excited to do this adoption, but as we were contemplating it, all that I could think of was my fear and dread of the whole thing!  {I only dreaded the adoption process, I truly longed for this sweet girl to join our family!}  Those were the exact words I used, fear and dread.  Then one morning I opened up my Bible and this is the passage I read:

Isaiah 8:12-13
12 "Do not call conspiracy
       everything that these people call conspiracy
       do not fear what they fear,
       and do not dread it.  13 The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy,
       he is the one you are to fear,
       he is the one you are to dread,
WOWSERS!  Ok Lord, I will not fear and dread this, I will only fear you, and dread not obeying you!
God has been gloriously wrecking me, trying to shape me into something useful for His glory!

So we began the process to bring Luisa home.
We filled out the mounds of paperwork, had more meetings with our social worker to update our home study to international, shelled out lots of money, had psychological evaluations done {Ha!~that was fun, of course we are crazy, I don't need a shrink to tell me that!} endured 12 hours of "Hauge Adoptive Parent Training," had our fingers printed, again, and then again,{that's 3 times, 3 different places, 3 different fees, for 3 different entities!!!!  Ugh! anyone wonder why I didn't want to do this!!!}and of course now we wait...

 Here is another amazing story that God used to confirm in our hearts that we are to be Luisa's parents.

-->We had decided NOT to go to the Orphan Summit {a conference promoting adoption and orphan advocacy} because the money wasn’t there, and it was expensive.  But Ryan could not get the feeling out of his head that we had to go, so Wed. morning at around 10am he called and said, "pack your bags we’re going!"  So I got everyone packed and ready, made all of the arrangements for the kids (my parents were on standby just in case!) and we left the house at just before noon!  We dropped off the kids and headed out.  We got to our hotel in Minneapolis MN at around 11pm.  
We were able to hear Tom Davis, Mary Beth Chapman, and the former first Lady of Guatemala speak, to name a few.  We attended several break out sessions and learned so much about orphan care and ministry.  One of the sessions we went to was on HIV  adoption, and when we walked in I noticed the presenter from her blog and organization Project Hopeful!  I told Ryan who she was and was excited to hear her speak.  During her talk I noticed she kept looking at us, but didn't think too much of it…It was a very informative and helpful class, and we left having some of our questions answered. 
The next morning we sat down for the large group session and a girl sat down one seat away from us, and then a few minutes later in walks Carolyn (the speaker,blog lady from Project Hopeful)  I was like WOW!~  There are 1,200 people here and we are sitting next to her!  I noticed she was texting like a crazy lady, but thought maybe she was taking notes?…I got up to use the potty and this girl came in{turns out to be Deanna Jones an author, singer, and blogger} and started talking to me, and I thought she was much more talkative to me than normal bathroom conversation…but ok?  When I sat back down, I noticed that girl was the one sitting next to Carolyn…hmmm.  Then during a one minute break, Ryan leaned over and said thanks to Carolyn for speaking, we enjoyed the class or something like that, and she said,  "are you doing  an HIV adoption?"  And we said, "yes," she asked where and we said Colombia, and she said, "stop by my booth I need to talk to you!"  She was kinda excited, and so we were like ok…? 
So after lunch we stopped by and started talking to her and she said, “I don’t know what it is about you guys, I mean during my talk yesterday I couldn’t stop thinking about you, did you guys notice that I was staring at you the whole time? {um yes, maybe a little} God was just laying you on my heart, and then this morning I woke up early with you on my mind!  I don’t know why or what but I just feel the overwhelming need to tell you God says “YES”  your answer is yes!”{*mind you, at this point we had not yet accepted the referral because we were waiting for more medical information...  That yes meant so much!!!}  So, we start to tell her our story, and we happened to tell her her name, and how Ryan calls her Lucia{cause he couldn't remember Luisa}, but I want to call her Lucy.  Well then she said, “did you just say LUCY?"  "Yes,"  She went on to explain that Lucy has been on her heart and mind for about 3 months now, and she was not sure why!!!  When I told her we have been working on ‘figuring’ this whole thing out for exactly that long, she was so freaked out!  She said “this never happens, this is so incredibly crazy!”   We both had the goosebumps now!!
She told us that she had been texting her friend about us and she proceeded to show us her cell and text messages.  Which went something like this:  "Do you know this couple next to me?  They were in my session yesterday and they have been on my heart and in my mind all day yesterday and I woke up thinking about them this morning.”   “They are an adorable couple” the friend types back…and then something about “they were on their knees when I came in…” (Peder Eydie was singing a song about being on your knees falling before the Lord, so everyone was on their knees!) and more, but I can't remember...It was pretty funny!!

We had been struggling with the issue of disclosure {to tell people about Luisa's HIV or not to tell...} and I knew she was very open and advocating for HIV adoptions so I asked how that worked, knowing some people may not be ‘comfortable’ with it.  She told us that she didn’t tell anyone, not even her family when they did their first HIV adoption and that she could tell it bothered the sister of her son who had HIV.  She was afraid of the stigma and what happens to people in Ethiopia when they have HIV and it made her nervous to have that ‘secret.’  Then they adopted their daughter who was in the end stage 4 full blown AIDs, and they brought her home and started telling everyone since she was so sick, and how much that helped her daughter!  Besides, she said kids are kids and you don’t want them to feel like they have to hide it, it’s not their fault, and they shouldn’t live like there is shame.  There is such a stigma, but the only way that will go away is if people tell the truth about HIV and help educate others to end the stigma!  But she knows it is huge and hard and understands when people decide not to disclose.  I asked how to deal with people who don’t care about the facts, and she said she has had to move on from relationships.  "It’s not about me, them or anyone else, it is what God is doing and we are being obedient to HIM and if people don’t like it, that is their loss!"  So true!  This was the most incredible amazing story and she can’t wait to hear how God works in our story and she wants to keep in touch and hear how this all plays out!

It was amazing, and I am so thankful to God for the miraculous way He brought us to the Summit and for the divine meeting and amazing things that occurred while we were there!  And a big "Thank you" to Carolyn, we have emailed since then, and she has been such an encouragement to me.  She is one amazing mama{she has 13 kids!!} and we share the same heart and passion for children all over the world!

I can't wait to see how the rest of Luisa's story plays out, but I am certain God has big things planned for this little girl.  The name Luisa means "glorious warrior" and we pray that is just what she is, that she will be able to come home, get well, and live a full life gloriously devoted to God.