Pathways Training…

Pathways Training

Definition of Pathway…
1. a route to or way of access to; way of reaching or achieving something
2.a way especially designed for a particular use
3. A course usually followed by a body part or process.
For our Gladney families this is a mandatory training if you are adopting an older child.  Tonight Tyler went to serve on a panel of parents, where perspective adopting parents can ask questions openly & honestly.
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It’s a little funny to us that he is on the ‘knowledgeable panel’ because it was around this time last year that we were headed to our Pathways training.  You should know we left Pathways emotional train-wrecks!  For 2 days we heard stories, did activities, studied, & listened to experts: all about adopting older kids.  It was information that we were not fully prepared to hear.
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We had not had our homestudy done yet.  We had in our minds that there would be a 2-4yr wait before we would be matched with our kids.  We came to the training with expectations.  We came to the training of dreams of a house full of children, behaving perfectly, adapting perfectly, loving perfectly, & well basically everything was perfect.  Then a big dose of reality hit us in the face.  The Tuesday before our training we got a call from our agency about 5 kids available for adoption ages 2-6 & got stars in our eyes.
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Adopting is hard.  You don’t know everything.  You have to be open to trying new things.  You have to lower your expectations, & then lower them even more.  You do not know where your child has been, what they have been through, who has influenced them, their expectations, or their personality.
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A few weeks after the training we would say yes to our family.  And the very next thing we did was sign up to go to the Pathways training AGAIN!  Why?  Because this time we were headed in with the right mindset.  We were headed in to gain knowledge, build our toolbox, learn from the experts, start thinking & conversing with each other about every situation we could think about & how we planned to react.
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If you are going to or have completed the training I pray that you don’t let the hard outweigh the child.  Parenting is so hard (hardest thing we have ever done), but it is also the most worthwhile thing we have ever done.  We left that training after the first time with our hearts broken & doubting if we could even handle 1 child let alone 5.  Again know this was not the training’s fault, it was ours, we had not done our homework.  We had not read the books, talked to other adoptive families, searched for blogs, openly asked questions to our agency, emailed with other families adopting from Colombia; we had a heart but no plan.
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The heart is important, it is what called you to this journey.  But remember…He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be delivered (Proverbs 28:16). 

If God has called you to adopt, do not be afraid!  Don’t let worry set up in your heart, don’t let other people’s doubts or concerns guide you, don’t let the media dictate your decisions, don’t even let family tell you what’s right & wrong.  You turn to the truth, to the Bible, to the One who first laid this calling on your heart.  Then you need to start walking wisely & do your homework.  If we would have only acted out of our own understanding we would not have 5 kids calling us “Papi & Mami” everyday.

The verse really is true…I can do all things through Him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13).

We must look so silly to God when we try to do things on our own, just like our 2yr old taking 6 minutes to dress herself when Mami is sitting inches away ready to help…

… ask for help families!  That’s one of the blessings of working with Gladney!

At the dinnermesa.

Beth

 
 
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SENTENCIA!

It happened today! The proper grammarian in me says to only use one exclaimation point, but I don’t know if holding the button down for fifteen minutes would properly communicate my excitement! We should be bringing them home within a week’s time!

They are our children. No more dress rehersal. No more going through the motions. They are officially in our family! It feels like a huge weight has been lifted, and to God be the glory! As if salvation wasn´t enough, today He blessed us with five beautiful children. Allow me to introduce the family:

Big brother… This is the oldest boy who turned seven about a week and a half ago. He likes the color blue, loves to help (as long as it is on his terms), and is super creative. He is the one that created a habitat for the butterflies, and his imagination has fueled some creative ideas with Play-do and watercolors. He enjoys being the older brother and setting the tone for the other kids. He is also a soccer fan, and likes Barcalona. Also, I think he might be a car guy. We talk about them a lot, and I think, given that he loves to help, he may become my oil-changing buddy.

Big brother on his birthday… Proud to be a Texan in a few days!

Big sister… Our oldest daughter who turned six a week before we met her. She is all girl. She loves dresses and clothes in general, her favorite movie is “Tangled”, and she can be a bit of a drama queen at times. She´s also a talker… and at times, a singer. All she wants for Christmas is her two front teeth. On a side note, she has got a thick head of hair, and the lice love her, but not as much as we do. She also loves climbing on the monkey bars, and she’s gotten pretty good at it since we have been here. We may have a future gymnist/drill team/cheer leader… Since she is all girl, I’m sure it will be one of those “lady sports” (Just kidding – How many people did I just offend?).

Big sister… Beth had fun doing her hair on this particular day.

Middle brother – The middle child who turned five a day after we met them. Middle brother is a people pleaser. He really doesn´t like conflict, and he is always reminding the others to say please and thank you. Along the same lines, he is always lobbying for things to be fair. It is interesting to me because he seems to be the kid that all the others have no problem playing with… maybe because he is in the middle. He is a daddy´s boy too, which makes Beth a little jealous. He is always wanting to sit in my lap, hold my hand, be on my team, etc… He is also a soccer fan and the best at that memory game where you turn all the cards upside down, and draw two at a time trying to find a match.

Middle brother. On his birthday, he got to pick out the bread he wanted at Pan Pa’ Ya, so he got the most gynormous piece of bread he could find.

Little brother – The youngest son who will be turning four in about two weeks. Beth likes to say he is too cute for his own good. He has eyelashes that go on for miles, dimples, and a “I´m totally sweet and innocent” smile. On top of that, he is a bit of a “yes man”. I get tons of “Si, Papi’s” and he has no idea what he is saying yes to. He loves playing with his older brothers, even if they don’t want to, and he is a bit of a hoarder and a thief. We are working on this, but it is best to keep him in clothes with as few pockets as possible. Also, he likes things neat and clean. Beth also thinks he is a bit vain because he likes to comb his hair in the mirror for hours.

Little brother… I think he was up to something when I took this picture.

Darth- The youngest. Other aliases include “Turd Furgeson” and “Little Toot”. She is a mess. She is by far the funniest of our children, and can entertain herself for hours. She loves dogs and might actually be one. She growls at them in the park, sometimes barks, and has her tongue out a lot of the time. She also likes being the youngest and taken care of by all members of her family (on her own terms). She is one of the most strong willed of the kids, and doesn’t like being restrained. Also her volume knob is broken. She has no clue how loud to talk or when to be quiet. When I tell her to be quiet, she still moves her mouth but doesn´t make a sound because that´s clearly what I wanted.

Darth. Many a napkin have suffered the fate of cleaning her face, and this one is no exception.

Reading the Bible before bed.

The girls watching a movie. For some reason, I’m the adult, but I’m the one sitting on the floor?!?

Papi and the boys. We underestimated the size our fort needed to be when we built it, so my butt had to stay outside.

This was story-time with Mami before church yesterday. When I took the picture, I thought, “Awe… look how they are all so sweet and paying attention”. Then I saw what the camera caught. Darn you, Darth!

This morning as I was riding back from the court after having signed the sentencia, I thought a little about the journey we have been on.

A year ago yesterday, (September 9), we sent in an information sheet, photo, and $50 to learn a little bit about the adoption process.

September 20, Beth and I, after learning about the programs that were available, both felt called to international adoption from Colombia.

December 26, I began demolition on the breezeway to convert it into an office to make room (on faith that someday we might have a family).

February 2, Beth at Gladney informs us that five siblings are available for adoption and asked if we were interested, even though we put down on our form that we were interested in a group of two to four children.

February 20, after much prayer and discussion, we signed a letter of intent to La Casa claiming these five. That same day, we got to see a picture of our future children for the first time.

On March 24, we had the most amazing garage sale in the history of the world, and raised over four times what we thought we would for our adoption expences.

April 13, we bought a huge Ford van for our new family.

June 21, we were approved by La Casa to be the parents of our five kids.

June 22, we got to talk to our children for the first time on Skype.

July 25, I got to sing Happy Birthday to my oldest daughter for the first time on Skype and tell her that we would be coming in a little over a week.

August 1, HR from work told me that my coworkers had donated enough vacation time that I could be gone for the entire 9 weeks I needed, a few hours before we got on a plane to fly to Colombia.

August 3, I got to hug my children for the first time.

September 10, we are officially a family!

As an added blessing, our pastor’s wife informed us earlier today that our church took up a love offering yesterday evening to help us pay for some of the unexpected expenses. We did not ask for or expect this, and humbled does not even begin to describe how we feel. God has blessed us above and beyond not just what we deserve but also beyond anything we ever thought was possible.

Thank you to all that have prayed, encouraged, sacrificed time or money, and rallied around us. You have reminded me of the love of Christ – Before our kids ever knew you, you loved them enough to help us be their parents. This line is cliche, but it is so true. You all will never know how much you have blessed our family, and while it seems so trite, all I can say is “Thank you.”

We are still praying for a lot of our Gladney friends that are still waiting for there children as well as our church friends who have fought so hard for their little boy in Uganda. Please keep them in your prayers as well.

At the dinnermesa,

Ty

Visas…

Just a quick recap of our day for those of you who are following our story…

We left our home at 3am this morning driving down to Houston to try for visas again.  We arrive in Houston no problem with 2 and 1/2hrs to spare.  We have a fabulous breakfast, again at this restaurant because it’s the only one we know how to easily find.  Then we head over to the Colombian consulate to get our visas.  We are second in line & within the next hour the hallway is FULL!  I am getting pretty anxious…Tyler is cool as a cucumber.

I remember that a few weeks ago I send out a prayer request to a few close friends & Donna Craig sent a response of ‘yes I will pray for you & a group of bible verses for encouragement’.  This verse was in my head from the moment that we got in line:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. ” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

It was a lesson that I didn’t want to learn, I wanted to walk into the consulate paperwork prepared, hand it over, be back on the road in 15min, and head off to youth camp that afternoon.

So we walked into the consulate & Tyler asked me to check our paperwork one more time to make sure that we have everything…nope we are missing our plane ticket printouts. We absolutely had to have this piece or we would not be issued a visa.  Panic!!  We get called to the counter as we realize that the only copy we have of the tickets is sitting in Tyler’s briefcase at home or on his ‘fancy high-security laptop’ that only he can access!!  Luckily his mom was able to run to our house and get the record locator number so we could at least pull them up online.  So we had over the paperwork that we had to the consulate employee & explained our situation about the adoption, the missing paperwork, the drive twice now to Houston in hopes that we will still be able to receive the visas today.

We are told, “the Consulate is the only one who can issue visas and he is not in yet.”  That’s it.  So we wait.   About 45min later we get called back to the desk, the Consulate is in & wants to check our paperwork.  30min later we get called to the desk again and are told this, “The Consulate just returned from vacation & is changing how he does things, he wants to go through all of the paperwork with a fine-toothed-comb before he will issue the visas, you will absolutely not receive them today, he will call you in the next 3 days and let you know what he decides.  In the meantime you need to go and print off your plane tickets and bring them back for him to look at.”

Totally dejected we get in the car to head to the nearest FedEx Office to print off our plane tickets.  In the meantime I’ve been checking facebook & we had received so many encouraging messages & we knew there are so many people lifting us up in prayer. Then I received this message from my friend also going through a Colombian adoption in Raleigh, NC:

We are here with the WRONG paperwork and the Atlanta Consulate closes in 2 hours…oh my! We were also told it would cost $50 each, we brought $200 to be safe and found out it is going to cost $225 each. We need to get more money!!

This Gladney family is at the Consulate in Atlanta going through struggles too & they leave this Wednesday to pick up their kids!  And then I got the sweet reminder:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. ” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

It’s not our power, our efforts, our glory or even our kids.  It is God’s power and for His glory and they are His children.  Our prayers changed immediately from, “Give us the easy road to God we give you the glory, no matter what.  None of this would be possible without You, You are the only one who can meet our needs, we are weak and powerless and rely fully on your power!!”

We went back to the Consulate with our plane tickets, when we passed them to the employee she said to wait, & make sure the Consulate didn’t need anything else from us.  In 10min we were called to the window again, “the Consulate says to come back in about 2hrs & he is going to try and have your visas ready today.” TODAY!!!

Miracles from today:

Our friend’s facebook posts:

The Consulate is closed. We are locked inside waiting for them to process the visas. They did receive the proper documents @ 1pm. Hopefully we will leave with them in hand. Waiting and PRAYING!!

Raleigh, NC bound WITH our visas! Thank you for praying.  If you would, please pray for my friend Beth & her husband Tyler who are at the Consulate in Houston having similar problems.

Tyler & I arrived back at the Consulate at 1:30, the Consulate closes at 2:00 & it was still packed with people.  We sat down in the employee’s line of sight hoping that we would be called over to the window…at 1:50 we were motioned over & handed our passports containing our visas to travel & pick up our kids!!!  Unbelievable!

This was the employee who was so patient with us all day. It’s official we are a go for travel!

So I am headed off to youth camp, reminded that we serve a God who still performs miracles, & is active in the world today! Can’t wait to see what He has in store for our teens this week, praying that their hearts will be turned to His all sufficient power & grace!

Also just so you can have a visual of our excitement from receiving our passports, picture me singing & dancing to this song (substitute Colombia for Africa) all of the way down the elevator & to the car…people saw, don’t care :))

At the dinnermesa,

Beth

We have SIZES (we hope)…

So after coming back from Houston earlier than expected I tried to figure out what project to tackle first…

Do you remember in this post when I told you about the Gladney Service team that got to meet our kids?  Well they also gave us a HUGE gift & took tracings of the kids hands & feet & their height.  We love having these for the fun memories for our kids when they are older, but we also appreciate these measurements to figure out their sizes.

So I called up my good friend Brandi & asked her to help me play the game, “What size clothing & shoes do you think my kid’s wear?”  Brandi is a great mom, practical, and I knew she would be able to lead me through this anomaly that is Kid’s sizes.  I was right she showed me the size charts & off we went through Target with the tape measure, looking for kids that were about the same size as my kids are & asking their mom’s what size they are, calling friends who have kids the same age/size as mine are & using Brandi’s son Baby Jake as a model for my youngest daughter.

Figuring out that Baby Jake was a perfect match to baby girl’s size foot 🙂

Thanks Baby Jake, hope this will be a fun memory for our kids to share someday

The trip was a success here are the sizes that we have come up with:

The boys:

Oldest son: Clothing 8/9, Shoes 2

Middle son: Clothing 6/7, Shoes 1

Youngest son: Clothing 4T, Shoes 10T

The girls:

Oldest daughter: Clothing 6, Shoes 1

Youngest daughter: Clothing 2T/3T, Shoes 8W/9

I bought the basics to get us through the Colombia trip: socks, underwear, bathing suits, tennis shoes, one pair of nice shoes.  I have had a lot of clothing donated & I will be going through that tonight to see what sizes I am still in need of.

The haul: I was able to cover the entire purchase with giftcards that we have received from generous friends & family!!

We are still on the hunt for cowboy boots for the boys.  This was their one request, how much do you love that God prepared them a place in Texas!

Thank you to all of our friends who have been so generous to our kids, you will never know how God’s love has been shown to our family through your thoughtful actions!!

At the dinnermesa,

Beth

Best laid plans…

So on Thursday night we headed to Houston because Friday morning we had grand plans of being the first people in line to try & obtain our visas to travel to Colombia…

July 20th is Colombia’s Independence Day =’s the consulate is closed.  Whoops!

But on July 20th I fell in love with my husband all over again…We are lined up in front of the consulate’s door at 8:45, there are 3 full grown men in front of us waiting too & about 5min later my husband very calmly says, “So the consulate is closed today, that’s what the sign on the door says in Spanish.”  Immediately the 3 men in front of us become exasperated & react the way that I felt: frustrated, inconvenienced, & mad that everyone is not running on “American” time.  I turn around fully expecting Tyler to respond as ungraciously as I am prepared to.  Tyler just very calmly says, “Oh well, guess we’ll get to come again on Monday” & begins to head back to the car.

“What?!?”  We just spent extra money on gas & we are going to have to do it again on Monday, he had to take off of work when & he is about to have to take off 2 months of work for our Colombia trip, we have so many projects to still work  on at home that we didn’t have time to travel to Houston.  So I very sweetly asked him, “Why so calm?”

His reply, “There is nothing that we can do about this and I got to have a nap yesterday, a date with my wife (House of Pie & this movie on TV) & relax, we get to head home early & have a full weekend to work on the projects and this gets us one step closer to our kids.”  He also jokingly asked, “Do you remember what you prayed for in the car right before we went in? You prayed, ‘God please get us in & out of the consulate fast’ and He answered!  Next time ask God for our visas too.”

I love this guy, he’s going to be such a great dad! 🙂

On the way back we ate at Tyler’s favorite restaurant (at least when we can’t find a Chipotle)

Stopped at a famous TX monument, Sam Houston

HEADed home (it’s joke get it?)

At the dinnermesa,

Beth

It’s really happening…

Last weekend we were celebrating the success of my husband’s company…

The fellas

All of the supportive wives 🙂

It was a great night!  My husband has been blessed to work with some amazing people. They are full of integrity, smart, funny, and have fabulous wives!  We had a fancy dinner, visited about our families, and enjoyed each other’s company.

One week later…we are headed to Houston to pick u our visas at the Colombian consulate.  Why you ask?

Because we are traveling AUGUST 1st for Colombia!!

Things to accomplish in two weeks: learn more Spanish, clothes & shoes to get, 10hrs of online training done by Saturday, kid’s medicine to buy, tooth brush holders, memorize more scripture, 2 more back-packs, dog’s have to go to the vet, go on a date with my husband, meeting with the  school district, spend time with family & friends, call to the pediatrician, fix brakes on the van, youth camp all next week, finish the plumbing in the kid’s bathroom, become a perfect parent, pray, pray, pray…

This afternoon we’ll get to tell the kids that we will be there in 2wks.  2wks and our family will be together.  We still have to take time to pause and let it sink in: 5 kids calling us Papi & Mami, 5 kids to take care of, 5 kids to hug good night, 5 kids to chase after every day!  Oh my goodness, these lives that we are blessed with!

Time flies.  It’s up to you to be the navigator. ~Rob Orben

At the dinnermesa,

Beth

Making memories…

We have had the privilege to make some wonderful family memories this past week…

1.  The group of adoptees on the teen service trip for Gladney got to meet our kids!  They did us a huge service of getting the kid’s sizes so we can get the right size clothing for them.  They also took time to play with the kids & just love on them.  Then very late at night we got a Skype call from the entire group to tell us about their experience with the 5!  The group said that we are definitely going to have our hands full & that the kids are great!  Busy, silly, and enjoying their picture books & presents that we sent them.  I look forward to reminding my children about this special group of people who sacrificed their time & finances to make this trip and give hope to the waiting children in Colombia.

Skyping with the whole group! We could only see about 4-5 of the group & didn’t realize that we had the privilege of meeting everybody til these pictures were posted to facebook.

Team showing us the measurements that they took of our kids!

2.  The kids got to meet Tyler’s side of the family this week.  We almost had to cancel the call because the oldest two started school this week and weren’t going to be able to be on the call.  Luckily Daniela (the woman at La Casa who oversees all of our Skype dates) is fabulous & said that she would get the youngest 3 for the call.  This actually worked out perfectly.  Our oldest 2, let’s be honest mostly big sister, do most of the talking on our Skype dates so giving the younger ones a chance to communicate with us was great!  And luckily we have a flexible family who came over Thursday afternoon for the younger kid’s call & again Friday morning to meet the older kids before they left for school!!

The kids are loving all of their new family members!  The younger kids were pretty impressed with their new cousin & his bright red hair, and the older kids really enjoyed meeting their new baby cousin.  All of the kids got big smiles when they realized that big sister shares the same name with her new Tia.

Tyler’s parents meeting the new grandkids

Meeing Tio, Tia, & Prima

3.  This call was also special because Tyler’s mom brought her laptop so we could do a walking tour of the house with the kids.  We went through all of the rooms of the house, the front yard, back yard & the vehicles.  The kids are very curious about their new home.  They loved their rooms, the boys are excited about their new beds & toys.  The girls love their new “kitchen”.  The kids took turns calling out who would live upstairs & who would live downstairs (in the bunk-beds).  When they saw the backyard ‘soccer’ was the only word that was said, over & over again!  Our oldest son was not in a smiling mood on the call but he did crack a grin when he got to see the van.  Love that he digs the cars as much as his daddy does!

Tyler doing the walking tour via the laptop, how amazing is technology!

These things got the biggest smiles out of our kids: their beds, food in the cabinet (especially the apple juice),  Papi y Mami’s bed (big sister stated it is big enough for all of us to fit in), the van, and the loudest shouts of joy were for the bathtub!

Our favorite parts during the phone calls:  Our middle son saying, “Papi did a great job on our house!”, big brother saying 3wks is too long away & he wants us there sooner, the excitement of all the kids learning that one of them shares the same name with their new family, and Daniela informing us that ALL of the kids are looking in their picture books & calling us Papi & Mami.  Lastly during the tour big sister asked us to sing them a song…uh oh our knowledge of Spanish songs was next to zero…but luckily Tyler went on a mission trip last year to Peru & learned one song that he has been trying to teach me.  The first song we did for the kids…

Mi Dios es tan grande, tan fuerte y poderoso, no hay nada se no puede hacer.  (My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do)

It was perfect, it was truth & it made my kids smile!

Sweet baby girl holding her picture book about papi y mami

At the dinnermesa,

Beth