Friday, November 7, 2014

Adoption Update, Two Years On



The short story:

We are still paying off the legal debts incurred by Evie's adoption and are making some more fundraising efforts to help reduce that debt.

The long story:

A little over two years ago we got the call we had longed for but had nearly despaired of ever recieving: an expectant mother had chosen our profile and wanted to place her baby in our family.

We were torn between joy and doubt, but because the Lord had brought us that far we decided to continue to suppress those doubts and trust Him some more.

One of the major factors in every family's decision to adopt (or not adopt) is finances.  On the one hand, we don't want mere money to hinder us from following such a necessary and noble calling as adoption.  On the other hand, we are to be responsible stewards of the money the Lord has provided, staying within our means, staying out of excessive debt.  I don't know of a single adoptive family who has not struggled mightily with the question: can we afford to adopt?

For our family, in the end, we decided to take that leap of faith, trusting that the Lord - through means we could not yet imagine - would provide the funding we needed beyond what we already had in our meager bank account.

In the previous few years, while we applied for and then renewed our home study, we had already applied for many (and recieved a few) of the adoption funds, grants, and no-interest loans offered by charitable organizations.

During the months leading up to Evie's birth, we pursued other fundraising options: Just Love Coffee sales, an on-line auction, and a whole lot of direct giving.  We were overwhelmed with the generous outpouring of love and funds from our friends, family, acquaintances, and a few complete strangers!

Through all of these means, we ended up with the amount we needed.  Whew!  Immense joy, immense relief, immense gratitude.

Just as we had gotten Evie home and the dust was settling, though, we got a phone call that sent a ripple of fear through us: a potential birth father had shown up and wanted a DNA test.

Okay, we thought, this could be a good thing.

Or this could be the disaster we most dread.

We were told by a number of reliable sources that birth fathers rarely show up and even if they do, they rarely push for their rights.

Evie's birth father pushed for his rights.

This is where adoption gets even more complicated, where you have to truly come to grips with what you believe and why, where you wrestle with legal definitions and God's providence.

As parents, we support parental rights and would never want to unfairly tear apart a family.  On the other hand, as the pre-trial and then trial proceeded, we realized that this man was in no way fit to care for this precious baby girl.  He is not a particularly bad man, but he is not equipped to father a child in any way more significant than through biology.

Here, I must add that Evie's birth mother gave us her unwavering support from the moment she chose our profile book.  To our knowledge, even in the face of opposition from friends and family, even through a legal trial that brought out the ugliness of old and broken relationships, she continued to stand by her choice, to stand by us, in our mutual desire to see the best for Evie.  She knew all too well the brokeness in her own life and fervently wished for a different life for her daughter.

By God's grace, the judge in the case ruled in our favor and terminated the birth father's parental rights.  A little more than three months later, the adoption was final; Evie was - and is! - a Shaw forever.

All of this legal wrangling took a large emotional toll on all of us and we will long remember the joy we felt and the party we had when we learned of the judge's decision, and later when we learned of the finalization of the adoption.  Many of you rejoiced with us at those times, and sharing our joy with a community of like-minded people only sweetened the moment.

The other effect of the legal proceedings was financial.  If any of our children had a medical need, we would do whatever was necessary to preserve his life and quality of life, regardless of time and money.  Similarly, we committed to doing whatever it took to keep Evie where we felt the Lord had placed her in his perfect timing.  This meant, though, that our initial financial number fell far short of the eventual cost of the entire adoption process.

And that brings me back to "the short story" above.  We are going to be making some more fundraising efforts over the next few months to help reduce that debt at a faster rate than we otherwise could.

If you gave two years ago, we thank you sincerely and heartily, and if you have no more desire or ability to give, please know that your contribution was very important and we very much appreciate what you gave before.

If you are in a position to help us now, whether or not you gave before, we thank you in advance!

I have opened an Etsy shop with a few items of handmade jewelry, photography, and household items.  Go to etsy.com and look for AnneGirlStudio.

Watch for more adoption fundraising efforts coming soon!

Soli Deo Gloria.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Halloween/Reformation Day

We missed out on our church's Reformation Day Celebration last weekend and our hearts missed the old days of Mission OPC's Reformation Celebration and going with Pat and Katie to "the main building" to trick or treat with the elderly and infirm there.

In order to comfort ourselves, we went out and gathered candy from the neighborhood.


This stealthy ninja was rarely seen, but his bag of candy seemed to grow steadily.


Johanna went to a youth group party rather than trick-or-treating, but she posed for pictures with the others.  She was "Margo" from Despicable Me.


Evie was the sweetest little purple fairy you ever did see!


Enough pictures, Mom!

Will declined to participate in the festivities this year; too old, apparently, even for his favorite Darth Vader costume.  

Micah and several friends dressed as nerds for a party.  He said that everyone was going as nerds, but he was the only one who needed a costume.  Funny, Micah.

Here's a throwback to 2010 (?) - Sam pinning the 95 Theses to the Wittenburg Church doors.