We truly are a family redefined. We are husband, wife, son, daughter, step children, biological and adopted children and most importantly, Children of God.

A friend pointed out that I needed to update my blog header. After our adoption from Ethiopia, I had updated it stating how the adoption of Sara Joy completed our family. Well... the journey continues. After much prayer, we have decided to follow what we feel is God's calling for us...we went to Ghana with the intention of adopting a four year old girl, Isabella Hope. Little did we know that she would be the catalyst to bringing home not only her, but her half brother and sister. We will now be adding not only Isabella Hope to our family, but also Mary Grace (9) and Gilbert (6) who we will transition to the name Nathaniel Timothy. The shock is wearing off and the JOY and EXCITEMENT are overwhelming. Now truly, our family is complete. The great part of journeying with God, is that it's always an adventure. He knows where we are going, and for us it is all a marvelous surprise. Looking forward to sharing our family adventures as we walk daily through life and as we venture off to Ghana to bring home Mary, Nate and Isabella! It's always an adventure redefining our family!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Pure Joy

I desperately wanted to write this post yesterday, but I was so excited that my mind would not settle to allow the right words to come to mind.  I'm not sure I'm there yet today, but I'm going to try....
Beautiful Ghana!

Yesterday I got the news that will change our life and our family forever.  We received word that we successfully passed court in Ghana.  Not only will it change our lives, but it will change the lives of three siblings in Ghana.  Praise God for that.  I posted the quick information on F@cebook and received so many wonderful comments from people who are just as excited as we are that these kids will be coming home and how blessed they are to be part of our lives.  I think that's true, that we will be a blessing to these children, but more than that, they are already and will continue to be a blessing to us.  
Nathaniel, Mary and Isabella

Adoption is something so special.  I know it's not for everyone, but I thank God that it is for me, for Tim, and for our family.  You can't imagine the blessing of adoption until you have experienced it on your own.  Three children, born of other parents, forever and completely bonded to us - without sacrificing the truth of who they are and where they came from - but providing a new, secure future, one that couldn't be provided in their original home.  I don't know what it's like from their perspective.  I'm sure it's kind of scary, but we'll walk through their fear with them, and love them through whatever they bring with them, love them through the unpacking of the emotional baggage they will bring with them.  After all, we all have baggage and they will accept ours as much as we will accept theirs.  Once all of our bags are unpacked, our new, forever family will form!  LOVE that about adoption.  Adoption is definitely a process.  It's an uphill battle from the beginning.  It's emotional.  It's raw.  It's heartbreaking.  It's also pure joy.  Pure love.  Both ways.  
Kids at Auntie Ruth's foster home - including Nate, Mary and Isabella

Mary, Nate and Isabella call us Mummy and Daddy.  The first time you hear it, your heart melts.  In their thick Ghanian accent, it sounds like music to my ears.  Right now, they call us that because it's all they have to call us..... soon, once they are home and settled, they will call us mom and dad, because they feel it.  They know what the word means.  They will know it means forever.  They will know it means security, unconditional love and care.  It will mean to them a warm place to sleep, three meals a day, hugs, kisses, discipline, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE and more love.  It will mean vacations, schoolwork, chores around the house... but it will also mean family... family forever!  Oh how I can't wait until they use those words not because they have nothing else to call us, but because in their hearts, they feel it!
From top to bottom :  Mary, Nathaniel and Isabella

So, yesterday when I wanted to just jump into this and shout it to the world, I knew I wouldn't express about these kids what I wanted to... to really say what they mean to us.  I'll start with Mary and give you a little glimpse into her.

Mary Grace:
Mary Grace - LOVE that beautiful smile!

Mary is a beautifully sweet child.  I have seriously never seen a child more happy than Mary.  EVERY. SINGLE. DAY we went to the foster home, she came running out to greet us with a smile on her face.  She didn't have to - that is just Mary.  She was not trying to impress us - at the time we were not even aware that we would adopt her, we were there to meet Isabella.  But every. single. time. she would come out to greet us, with a smile on her face.  
Love this girl!

I asked her the last morning that we were there... I asked her if she was ever not happy.  She gave me a strange look and said "what do I have to be unhappy about".  Oh Mary.... you are a gift to us.  If you can find happiness where you are, you can find happiness anywhere!  
Mary with Mom

Not only is she always happy, she is so helpful.  Her foster mom, Auntie Ruth told us daily what a help she was... and we witnessed it.  It wan't often that you saw Mary without a infant/toddler on her  hip.  
Mary Grace - always the helper, we saw her often with a child on her hip.  Such a beautiful girl. This day we took the kids from the foster home out to dinner.  

She was always caring for the younger ones.  She helped feed the kids, she cleaned up after them, she tended to them when they were crying and she re-directed them when they were getting into things they were not supposed to.  While this is amazing for a nine year old little girl, and one would want to keep those traits, my desire is to keep them but at the same time, see her be a CHILD.  With all she does, it's easy to forget the age she really is and the things she should be doing.  I can't wait to see her transform into a child again!  She speaks English very well (LOVE her heavy accent) and reads amazingly well.  She seems to be a very smart child.  Very patient.  
Our beautiful Mary Grace Roach

The other thing I noticed, was that Mary asks for very little.  During one of our phone conversations when I asked her what I could send her, she simply said books.  She wanted books.  And then reminded me of the stuffed giraffe she had asked me to get for her while we were still in Ghana.  I promised it to her, and it is being sent her way.  She just asked for so little.
What a precious girl!  Love her!

Nathaniel Timothy
Nathaniel Timothy Roach

Nate (or Gilbert as they call him in Ghana) is a very introspective child.  He is a typical boy and likes to play, but he is also a bit reserved.  His smile is contagious, but he doesn't give it out as easily as Mary.  When he smiles though, you know you've received something special from him. You know he is truly happy.  
Such a sweet boy!

Nate likes to draw and color.  My guess is that he will be very artistically inclined.  On our first trip to Ghana, we took coloring books and crayons for the kids and Nate spent tons of time at the table coloring picture after picture for us.  Not only does he color well, but he can draw well also.  He drew a picture for us to bring home - it was of the cartoon turtle "Franklin".  I brought it home and asked Cameron what he thought it was.  Cameron knew immediately that it was Franklin.  It is a great picture.  
Nate (left) with Johnathan - Auntie Ruth's nephew

I have all the notes from the kids in a file in the drawer.  I carried them home on my carry on so they would not be damaged.  When he comes home, I will show him just how much these things meant to us for us to carry them home and save them. Nate is the quietest of the kids.  He reminds me a lot of myself.  Not wanting to be the center of attention, but involved in the mix of things.  He is a very sweet child!  
Nate and Isabella playing.  Love their sweet brother / sister relationship!

He too speaks English well (again, in a charming thick Ghanian accent) and writes and reads well also.  I'm anxious to see how he blossoms in school!  When I talked to Nate and asked him what I could send him he asked me for wheel shoes (roller skates).  It's funny, because there is nowhere to skate in Ghana where he lives, but you can bet that one of the first things he gets when he gets home is a pair of roller skates!
Tell me that isn't a handsome guy!  You can tell he and Mary are siblings.  Love you Nate!

Isabella Hope
I love this picture of our Isabella Hope Roach!  It depicts her well.

Isabella is a character.  She is a bit shy when you first meet her, but she warms up quickly.  She is a little ball of energy and a bit mischievous.  She liked to fall asleep on me - so I think I might have a snuggler on my hands (YAY me!!!).  
Isabella with Dad

She is stubborn.  Oh is she stubborn.  She loves to play and is always up to something.  When we were in Ghana, it didn't take her long to warm up to us and make herself right at home with all of our things.  There were documents and other things that we carried with us in Tim's backpack, that we set in another room so the kids would not get into it.  Well, out of that backpack also came some things we brought for the kids.  Even after we had taken all of those things out, we would find Isabella in the other room digging through the backpack making herself at home with anything that was in there.  The camera.  The water bottles... anything and everything that was in there.  She is not re-direceted easily.  She knows what she wants!  
Isabella finds entertainment in anything - even a small tree branch!

When she wasn't digging through the backpack, she liked to be in charge of the water at the house.  She would go over and turn the water on and off.  When other children came up, she would turn it on and off for them, but she wanted to be in charge of the water.  

She created ways to entertain herself.  We gave her one of our water bottles and rather than drink out of the bottle, she would take the cap off and pour water into the cap and drink it from the cap.  Yes, a TINY water bottle cap.  Whatever!  It entertained her and it wasn't hurting anyone :)  She couldn't have been getting much water with a capful though.  
I miss this face!  We'll be there soon Bella!  I promise!

She shared readily (with the exception of the water faucet) and played well with the other kids.  She did have a bit of a temper though when Mary tried to get her to do something that she did not want to do.  We'll have some correcting to do when we get home :)  It feels like when she warms up to you, she loves hard.  Like with all of her.  
Mom and Isabella!

We spent three days with her and she really began to love having us there.  When we had to leave and told her we would not be back the next day boy was she angry.  She DID NOT want us to leave!  She loves hard!
We were having fun with the camera on the phone.  This picture has another boy who will come home the day after Easter.  Far left is J, me, Isabella and Mary.  We were having so much fun.  Not the best picture in the world, but it shows the fun we were having.  From Isabella's crooked smile, to Mary's beautiful smile.  Love, love, love these kids!  I need to hug them again soon!

So, these are our babies.  Many have asked when they will come home.  I'm not sure.  There is more to the process still ahead of us.  While they are legally ours in Ghana, we still need permission from the US government to bring them home.  They will investigate their case and make sure that the children are truly orphans. While I am grateful for this step in the process, ensuring that children are brought home legally and ethically, it's difficult when all you want to do is get your kids under your roof.  So, we have to wait for our court decree and pray that no corrections have to be made to it.  Then we will get birth certificates and file for the I600 (the immigration side of things).  We need an appointment with the Embassy to get their Visas and once we pass that, passports will be granted and printed.  Then our babies can come home!  It will be some time yet, but we are on our way. The process is moving and we are so thankful.

God  has had his hand in this journey.  From seeing Isabella face and instantly falling in love with her, to learning of her siblings and falling in love with them.  God changes hearts, because we were only planning on one child.  God knew we would bring home three and HE introduced us to them, one by one, and brought them into our heart one by one, and before we knew it, we knew God planned for our three!

So, here I sit... mom of six.... just waiting for all my kids to be united under one roof!  Thank you God for your blessing of these children!  They are yours - on loan to us - may we raise them to know and love you!  My heart overflows with your blessings!!!

In Christ,