Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Home Study & The Paperwork Pregnancy

This morning, Tuesday April 26th, (M's 6th birthday!) we met with our adoption caseworker Beth I. who works for Lifelink International Adoption. We had a great time discussing our current family situation and our desire to adopt again. When we were leaving our caseworkers office we saw a picture on her wall of a family that has ten (10) kids. They had a few bio kids and then adopted from Ethiopia. Once in Ethiopia they found that the children they adopted had more siblings. They have adopted the children to keep the family together and their joyful smiles was absolutely amazing.

Seeing this large family in the photo calmed some of my nerves which always creep in when I think of being the bread winner for so many mouths. God will provide....I'm sure of it. We may not always have what our hearts desire but then again God doesn't promise us what our hearts desire. I was reminded in a message at church a few weeks ago that the heart is "deceitful and desperately wicked". Maybe God has given me the desire to hunt and garden because one day that will be the only means of food. I don't want to set our family up for difficult times by expressing in this public forum that I'm ready for God to test us however when we started this blog I told myself that I would be honest and share my thoughts and feelings. I've tried for years to do things my way and I'm tired. I'm ready, today, to put this in the Lord's hands and I'm ready for him to drive (okay fly) us all the way to GOTCHA DAY!

We have to do 5 visits with our caseworker in to get the homestudy finished and this part of the process completed. We are going full speed ahead and have our individual visits scheduled for next week. By this time next week we should have 3 of the 5 visits completed! Paperwork Pregnancy here we come!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Spilled the beans...

Yesterday morning I dropped off the reference form at our church office. Pastor Don was not there. Since the enveloped was addressed to our placing agency and stamped I put it in a plain envelope to hide the evidence! (I have to admit, secrets are kind of fun to keep!) After I left the office I left a voicemail for Pastor Don so he knew what I had dropped off and that we were keeping it confidential for the time being.
I had a friend over yesterday afternoon. We wanted to get the kids together to play and she also had some adoption questions. When we were talking briefly about adoption and setting up the play date the week before it was killing me not to tell her our plans to adopt again but I kept it to myself. I will keep her name confidential since they are not entirely sure about adopting yet. They are just exploring some things that God has laid on their hearts. They already have biological children but they just don't think their family is complete.
Moments after she arrived the phone rang and I didn't recognize the number. I answered it and it was Pastor Don. He was calling to say he had received the reference form and had a few questions. I was trying to answer his questions with half sentences so that my friend didn't understand the nature of the call. But she was too intuitive. When I got off the phone her eyes were wide and she said, "Sorry to ease drop but are you adopting again?" Oh man! I spilled the beans! She has been sworn to secrecy!
When I told Tom about it that evening he said that maybe it was in God's plan for her to find out. Maybe it would be helpful for their decision to see that we have had such a wonderful experience and blessings from our adoption that we are jumping in again! To think we could have a part in another family's decision to adopt, giving another orphan a forever family!
My friend had a lot of questions and in the midst of trying to answer her questions I was able to reassure myself of some of my fears. God was using her questions and situation to help me put more faith in his perfect plan for our family. Now I am excited to watch it all pan out, impatient but excited!
Here is some of the advice that I gave to my friend. It ended up encouraging me and reminding me of the reasons why I am passionate about adoption and what God has done in our lives that has made it such a blessing:
"As for adoption, I still have lots of thought swimming in my head to share with you but ultimately it comes down to this. COMMIT to PRAYER. Set aside time to pray together about this decision as much as possible. Get VERY specific with God on what you want him to do in your life. I say ask Him to make it so obvious one way or the other on what you should do. Ask him to plant people and circumstances in your daily life to make it clear his direction for your family. ALSO, ask him to change your heart on the matters that you are fearful about if you feel him leading you in the adoption direction. Pray for an open mind and open heart towards very specific orphans. He will make you feel completely content and satisfied and SURE that this sweet little orphan from across the world is YOURS! He will grow this little one in your heart over time and before you even hold him or her so that when you do there will be NO questions left in your mind about this little one that will take the name!!! Also, pray for your bio children and their open hearts and minds. And once you make a decision to go for it, start praying with them. Pray out loud the truths you want to see in their lives. Like asking God, in front of them, to help them love and accept this little brother as their own. Tell them stories of how we are all adopted into God's family. Tell them all the great things that this little guys will do with your family, especially God things, that he would have NEVER had opportunity for otherwise. Write these things down too. So that when you look back with the kids you can show them how God Answers their Prayers! Show them pictures of orphans, especially those with special needs and let them ask questions. If you don't have an answer for them let them know you will look into it or pray about it and get them the answer. Use this amazing time, whether you end up adopting or not to broaden their view of the world and see beyond their own needs or wants. Thinking of others and their basic needs. OK, well thats some of the things I've been thinking.... hope that's not too much."
Everyday I get even more excited about this sweet little man! The journey to him has already begun to change me for the better and I am so glad!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Doubt, fear, weakness & perfection!

So it was SUPER fun to tell some of my closest friends. It made it all seem so real! I have one more that I am DYING to tell but I am kind of thinking it would be more fun to wait until I have a photo to share! Plus, all of our family... can't wait to see their reaction. I LOVE surprises and I just want to blow them away! But then once I told a couple of people I was feeling like, hurry up already, get this baby home! Can't wait to see the sweet face we will call our son! How old will he be? What will his special need be? What part of China will he be from?
It was interesting to see the reactions of our friends. BUT For some reason I am a little nervous about family and friends knowing. It's so silly I know. I went over and over it with Kelly and Hilary. I shared with them my insecurities as a mom and a Christian women. However, My deep love for my children and heart for orphans doesn't necessarily equip me for the day to day tasks of being a mom. Having a willingness to adopt doesn't make the realities of it just fall into place and there in lies my struggle. Can I handle this? Do others think I can handle this? What if he's really sick like L was? How will I leave the other kids for so long when we travel again? What if this process takes forever again? Will I ever sleep 8 hours in a row again? What if I am the oldest mom in his kindergarten class? How will we afford the adoption and a new van to fit us all? What will my other kids think? Will they all get along? What if he doesn't attach or adjust well?
You would think that being the second time around that I would go at it without fear. That
knowing what to expect would give me confidence. But just like every labor and delivery is different every adoption journey is different. AND Satan is on the prowel. He plants these questions in my brain. He doesn't want to see me changed, he doesn't want to see this sweet boy find his forever family, he doesn't want us to step out in faith and see God amaze us once again! Fear keeps poking its way into my thoughts. I keep trying to remind myself when a doubt comes into my mind that not only did I have those same questions every time we added to our family but that they are lies from Satan and GOD is victorious! He is made perfect and glorified in our weakness! So I guess its good to be weak!
DO NOT misunderstand me. I am 100% positive that we are supposed to add to our family again through adoption. I already have a deep love for a little guy who may not even be born yet. What I question is can I be a good mom to all these kids? I question my strength, my ability. I do really try my best but I often fail. When I feel insecure about my own abilities then I worry how I am viewed by others. I hate that! Anyone who has a large family can testify, people say the craziest stuff! Six kids is a lot I totally get that! And I just want to do it well, not just well GREAT! I want to be a GREAT mom! I want to point my children to the Lord and hopefully as a family we can point others to the Lord too. God will not give us more than we can handle and He is the one that created this desire in our hearts so he will get us through.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Doh! Need a bigger vehicle.

I've been stressing over the fact that our van "only" seats 7.  As we prepare for our second adoption we need to decide to go with a 10 passenger van, Explorer, Tahoe, or a minivan that seats 8.  With T getting older his legs are getting longer and cramming him in the back seat isn't going to work anymore.  I went to a Ford dealer yesterday and looked at their big vans and I quickly realized that the church type van is not for me.  I started the big 12 passenger van and sat in the driver seat only to feel like I was going to be transporting prisoners between prisons. 

Looks like I'll be visiting a bunch of dealers in the next 6 months as I look for the perfect vehicle.

Contract and Character References

We received our contract from Living Hope today and found out that we need to make five people aware of our second adoption because we need references. Our Pastor Don Zimmerman, Fred & Kelly Versluys, and Brian & Hilary Vincent will be asked tomorrow, April 19th, 2011, to fill out a Character Reference. These fantastic five are about 12 hours from being told about our adoption and their requirement to be sworn to secrecy. If anyone finds out about the adoption before we share this blog is is because one (or more) of these five spilled the beans!

I am so exited to go through this process of adopting another child from China. After work today I had to run to Sam's Club and I saw a Chinese family with a boy about 18 months old and I couldnt help but think of our fourth son. One of the things we dont want to do is upset the birth order. Our current youngest, B, is almost 12 months now so our goal is to adopt a child under the age of 18 months at time of travel which we estimate is 12-18 months away. I for a moment will break the tough guy persona and will admit that I am almost in tears thinking that our son could be a few days old right now.

The plan is gather the funds for the contract tomorrow, deliver the Character References tomorrow, and send the contract back on Wednesday April 20th. Our goal is to get this paperwork done is record timing so we are aiming to have the references and contract returned by LHAA by 4/21/11.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Home Study Application & North Face

Beth and I discussed filling out the application for the home study and getting it in the mail ASAP.  Last time we adopted we waited to fill out the home study application but this time we are pushing hard to get the paperwork done as fast as possible.  Beth pushed aside the typical things that come with being a homemaker and decided to crank out the application early this morning.  Today I dropped both the Adoption agency application and the home study application at the post office.  Tomorrow Beth plans to contact Living Hope Adoption Agency  (LHAA) to gather information on finger prints, background checks, and birth certificates.

Beth and I dont want the kids knowing about this just yet so we've been talking in code.  Last time in China we bought North Face jackets so we are referring to the adoption as getting a North Face jacket.  Its a fun little way to talk about the adoption without them catching on however I think the kids are going to think we are a little obsessed with North Face!


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Adoption Agency Application - Check

Last night (April 9th, 2011) Bethany and I sat down and filled out the application to start the special needs adoption process for our second time.  Together we went through the special needs checklist selecting what needs we were prepared for.  It sounds shallow but it is important for adoptive parents of a special needs child to agree on what needs they can care for.  Settling in, getting the child home, and acclimation is an already difficult process for everyone involved.  If you fail to agree on the nature of the needs your child has then you may have a problem or conflict between parents when the needs of your special needs child begin to affect your daily life. 

A perfect example is our precious Peanut (L).  When we adopted L we knew she had a cleft lip and Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD) - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002089/.  VSD is basically holes in your heart.  Little did we know that Peanut was in Congestive Heart Failure, had a collapsed lung and was preparing to fight for her life.  What started as an awesome journey after coming home from China quickly became a test of faith.  There were times where we thought we would lose Peanut after her heart surgery because she contracted a bacterial infection called Abiotrophia.  This infection went way beyond our little checklist but in the end Bethany and I both knew we were adopting a very sick little girl and together we were prepared to dedicate ourselves to getting her the best treatment possible. 

Getting back to our application....we filled it out and identified the special needs we were ready to face.  We know there is a little boy out there waiting to celebrate Gotcha Day with his Forever Family.  It will be going into the mailbox first thing Monday morning on April 11th.  I think I will drive it to the post office just to get it there quicker!

With Joy,


Son, I don't know where you are, what you look like, or what you will become but I already have a spot for you in my quiver.




Only with God! Tears stream down my face as I read my dear husbands blog entries! Its a miracle alone that he is blogging but really GOD did change his heart. The kids and I were sure this was NOT going to happen. So here's how we got to this point from my end. Its long winded though sorry!
My heart was still longing to adopt one more time and I was talking about it a lot. Even with a newborn and four other children to care for I was still thinking about whether or not our family was complete. Was I crazy? I would spend time reading other blogs and living through their experience and dreaming of our next one. This was the first time I had to even consider getting rid of any baby items. Until now Tom and I were on the same page about how many children we wanted. We had actually planned on having one more biological child after L's adoption. But NOW things were different. Tom was not interested in jumping back in again. Much of it was probably due that we were feeling spread thin with the five kids.
One night at dinner one of the kids was talking about the baby brother we were going to adopt, they always talked about it as if it were already decided, a fact, only a matter of time! Tom said sternly but kindly that our family was complete now and there would not be anymore little brothers or sisters. B would be the caboose! That evening Tom and I had a very serious discussion. I needed to know for sure that we were done. I needed to emotionally disengage if this was never going to happen. Tom assured me that he was done, our family was complete. I spent a few days grieving that loss. I completely stopped reading adoption blogs. I started thinking about all the things that I could start packing up and passing on permanently. At first it was really sad to say goodbye to all the cute stuff but as I continued I have to admit that felt a little freeing. Still sad but I forced myself to retrain my brain. Anytime adoption came to mind I would talk myself down and move on.
One morning when I was driving the kids to school the kids were all chatting about the baby brother they were going to have from Korea. (more on that another time) I had to put a stop to this because just like my heart was getting more attached the more I dwelled on it, so was theirs. So I said, "listen guys I really want to adopt again too but dad and I had a long talk and we will not be adopting again. Our family is complete and I don't want you bringing up around dad anymore." They all spoke up asking "WHY?" I had to explain all the practical reasons why it didn't make sense to add to our family. They then gave me some wonderful reasons why we should. Reasons without the cares of the world. No concerns about money, space in our home, crazy schedules, judgements of others or any of the tough stuff. They simply thought about how fun it would be to have a little brother that looked like L and was as fun as she was! They all love babies. They also told me all the reasons that a little baby needed us! Talk about melting my heart. So I told them, "lets leave it up to God. He can do amazing things and if its really in His perfect plan for our family then he can change dad's heart!" And THAT He did!!! I can not wait to tell the kids! It will blow them away and be yet another prove in their lives that GOD ANSWERS PRAYERS!

Can God Change an Unchangeable Heart?

Earlier this school year I was driving T, G and M to school and M said something about God changing my heart.  Immediately G said "Don't talk about that, Mom said we cant talk about that!".  With that banter I couldn't help but ask what it was that Mom didn't want them talking about.  No one was willing to tell me so I started getting a little frustrated and finally I got G to crack.  He went on to tell me that mom and the kids have been praying that God would change my heart because I had said since B was born that I couldn't handle anymore kids.  It wasn't that any of the kids were difficult, instead I worried about the college years and my ability to support all these kids. 

Little did I know but Bethany has continued praying with the kids while I have continued ignoring the signs telling me that WE CAN DO THIS.  God has blessed us more than we could have ever imagined, not only with a job in this poor economy but with great benefits.  Over and over I've been thinking about the verse in the Bible (Matthew 6:25-27) which says we shouldn't worry because God takes care of the birds, animals that don't reap or sow.  This week I took T, G, and M on a walk through a forest preserve and we came across a ridge that over looked a river.  I shared with them this verse in Matthew and immediately I admitted to myself that Bethany and I are ready to adopt again!

I'm starting this blog documenting the process of adopting a special needs son from China.  We are planning to keep this quiet as long as we can because of the emotional roller coaster we are about to jump onto.  The kids are in the dark, our parents are in the dark, our friends are in the dark, my employer is in the dark.  When you read this it is because we are almost ready to travel (or either Bethany or I let the cat out of the bag).  Get ready....because God changed what Bethany thought was an unchangeable heart!


Let me introduce the Dobbertin's

If you don't know anything about our family please allow me to introduce The Dobbertin's.  Bethany and Tom met at Lake Geneva Youth Camp in the early 90's.  The first time Tom saw Bethany she was walking out of the canteen (snack shop) and she immediately caught his eye.  Years later Tom told her his stomach jumped the minute he saw her and she didn't believe him.  Tom proved he saw her that day by describing what she was wearing and so she pulled out pictures her parents had taken when they dropped her off.  To her suprise Tom was right about what she was wearking and this confirmed what he said; that he fell for her the moment he saw her.  During our time as campers and then as counselors we met many kids but two stood out to us.  Beth was a counselor for a girl that was adopted from China and the same week Tom was a counselor for a boy who was adopted from Korea. 

We didn't realize how much these two kids touched our hearts until years later.  While we were dating we started discussing what we wanted in a family.  We talked about having a large family of five or six kids and both of us agreed we'd like one or two of them to be adopted.  As we got closer to getting engaged we agreed that we wanted to adopt a child after we got married and we agreed to adopt from China. 

Today we have five children, Trevor, Garrett, Mallory, Lindsey, and Brock .  In March/April 2009 Bethany and I traveled to China to bring Lindsey home.  We were away from our other children for 16 days!  Yes, 16 days!  That time away was tough but the benefit was worth it as Lindsey has transformed our lives.

With Joy,

The Dobbertin's