Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mummee! Doddee!!

This morning we got to hear sweet Selah's little voice! It put a permanent smile on our faces for the day! We were hoping to Skype with her, but that is not quite working out yet, but we did manage to hear her on the telephone for a brief moment to hear her say mommy and daddy with her absolutely adorable accent which makes it come out like "Mummeeee" and "Doddeee". But just as soon as she said those two beautiful words, our connection went dead. I am very thankful to simply hear her voice, though, and as well and quickly as she said it leads me to believe that her caretakers have been talking to her about us and helping to keep those memories alive! That sits well with my heart :-)

On the "wait" front, I don't have much of any new news. We have had a couple of little glitches with our
I-800 but I am hoping those will be worked out quickly. I know that getting frustrated and worrying will serve us no purpose and that if anything, God has taught me sooooooo well that He has it all under control and the timing will be His...not mine. We just keep praying for our paperwork to fall into the hands of loving people who have a heart for orphans and that they just move that paperwork along zippity quick (and that this, too, is the will of God because it sure helps when our prayers line up with His Will)!

Our boys have been so excited about Selah. They have watched all of our videos and looked at all of our pictures over and over. They have told everyone there is to tell about their sister! We have been so blessed by this, too, because we have just had so much love and support from everyone...even people we don't even know! I pray that from this maybe there is just one heart...or two that is broken for the cause of orphans. And that maybe, just maybe, one of those hearts will feel called to adopt, support adoption, or support orphans in one way or another. Just maybe!!

I have been diligently working on my photos since I have been home. Can you believe I took 617 pictures?! I've never had my memory card get full before! I actually had to change it! Once I got home, though, I went through all of them...deleted a few blurry or weird ones...and edited many of them. I only have a very basic photo editing program, but I wanted to make the photos look their best! It took F-O-R-E-V-E-R! But, I was able to put together a neat video photo slideshow set to Steven Curtis Chapman's "When Love Takes You In". After Selah is legally ours, I will post it for everyone! For now, all I can post are photos of the beautiful landscape and sights from Bulgaria. Here are a few...the first set are from the moutainside areas near Selah's orphanage.

The next photos are of the sights around Sofia...lots of very beautiful and very old churches and buildings:

This church was built around 300 A.D.!

Pretty beautiful place, huh? All this beauty...all this history...but still poverty...and still many orphans that need a home. The eyes of our daughter have forever been engraved upon my heart. As I saw her eyes brighten and her smile become deeper and deeper throughout our week, I had a taste of the power love has to change a life. It may be hard for us as we wait for her, but I am thankful that we WILL have each other and be a family...our story WILL end happy. But the eyes of the other little ones left behind that looked at us like they were saying "Take me, too"....those are the eyes that haunt me and I don't know how their story will end. There is an ache in my heart that longs to find a family for each and every one of them...I believe it is an ache that will never go away again.

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress... James 1:27 

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Last Day...

Today was our last day here in Bulgaria....for now. I am praying we will be back SOON! I know we've got lots of awesome prayer warriors out there asking God to move the paperwork and get us back to pick up our little girl and bring her HOME!

We had some notarizing of documents to do this morning with our agency representative and then the rest of the day was for us to explore. Our hearts are still stuck in the little orphanage in the little village a couple of hours away, but we know that we still need to put one foot in front of the other and make the very best of each day until we get to all be together again. So, since our apartment is right downtown Sofia, we spent the day walking MILES! We saw all kinds of beautiful Churches and old, old, OLD buildings. The history here is amazing. There are really some neat things about Bulgaria, but they have so much to figure out about how to get their country firmly on their feet and to find a way to help the find a way to care for and lessen the number of orphans that are here. So many times as we walked along some streets, I saw young women who were trying to sell goods or do other things to survive, and I thought of how one of these women could be our Selah's birth mother. I think of the day that will come when she will be old enough to ask me about her mother and the inevitable "why didn't she keep me". I pray I will have the right words. I pray that whatever I say will bring peace to her soul and that none of her past will ever hinder or harm her heart, her self confidence, her joy, or her God-given path in life. Months ago, when I thought we had lost the opportunity to adopt her, I gave thanks to the Lord for the opportunity to pray for her throughout her life. I thought I would never meet her or know her personality, but I was ready to pray on her behalf forever. Now I have been blessed with 4 days with her, so not only did I meet her, but I KNOW her and love her with my whole heart! I cannot even explain now how much more passionate those prayers will be!

On that note, my sweet husband is demanding that I get to bed because we will need to wake up in 4 hours to head to the airport!

Thanks so much for all the prayers this week...we have definitely felt them and know they have made a BIG difference!

Once we get home and settled and give our boys lots of love and hugs, I'll get back on this blog and post some of the neat pictures of the sights around Bulgaria...and OF COURSE keep you updated as to any news we hear about paperwork, skyping with Selah, and our next travel date!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Saying Good-Bye...for Now

Thanks so much for all of the wonderful prayers because I KNOW that they helped to make today a so much easier. Leaving was and is in no way easy…but we made it and in the midst of “making it” we had an absolutely precious time with Selah and God opened doors on our behalf that helped to bring so much peace to our hearts.

As soon as we arrived this morning we went inside and our wonderful agency representative and translator asked if we could possibly see the area where Selah lives each day. She explained to the director that it would do so much to bring peace to our hearts as we waited and it would also help us to relate more to Selah’s daily life. The director gave us her blessing and first invited us into her office where Selah was waiting for us! There she sat waiting and as soon as she saw us she jumped up with her big smile that fills her beautiful little face! She jumped right into my arms for a hug and then into Daddy’s too! We had brought a bag of candy and had saved enough bubble bottles for each child in the orphanage and the director let Selah hand out the treats to all the boys and girls. It was so cute…she loved sharing her treats and loved being in charge!

One of the caregivers then took us on a tour. We got to see Selah’s sleeping area that she shares with about 10 other children. She has a little white bed and they have all the beds neatly made and on her bed was the blanket we had brought for her. They are making sure she has it to sleep with all the time and promise to remind her that it is from Mommy and Daddy. They showed us her personal little closet and cubby, the bathrooms, and the playrooms. It truly was a nice as I could imagine an orphanage being in a place where they have little money. The ladies that work there seem to really love the children. They do the very best they can with the little that they have. Everything was so nice and clean and tidy and organized which helped me to understand how important routine is to her. She has lived a life with almost the very same routine every single day…everyone is expected to do the very same thing with the group and there just isn’t a great deal of differentiation. This is what they have to do to best serve many children with few employees. So, each time we did something new or different and she would become nervous and begin rocking and tapping the sides of her little face, I knew it was because of how strange it must feel to her to be outside of this routine.

As we were touring, all the sweet little angels that live there just attached themselves to us…the look up at you with these big sad eyes that just seem to say “I want a family, too….me too…”. It is heart wrenching. I wish I could do something to ensure that each one of those angels had a family…. There was one little boy who kept giving us hugs and literally wrapped his arms around Bryan’s leg and didn’t want to let go. He looked at us with the hugest brown eyes I have ever seen in my life. My big ol’ solid rock of a husband had a lump in his throat…and I was right there with him. Maybe someone out there reading this would love to be his forever family? I can promise you he will melt your heart in less than one second!

We talked with the director a bit more, asking a few questions, and getting such a good feeling from her. We left her our webcam and she gave us her skype account and we set up times when we can skype with Selah! How incredible is that? She also looked through all of the special books I had made for Selah about our family and special toys, baby doll, and a talking picture frame with all of us telling Selah how much we love her! She assured us that she would make a point of either reading the books to her herself or having one of the caretakers do it on a regular basis. She was so kind to us and told us she was so happy for Selah and that she could tell that we truly loved her and would take wonderful care of her. I just kept smiling and crying and thanking her. When Selah was near me, I could hold in the tears, but when she wasn’t I lost that strength and the tears poured.

She understood the trouble we were having with saying good-bye and to help ease that pain and help Selah have a little bit more time with us, she let us take Selah into the village for lunch as well as our regular playtime. That gave us an extra hour! So, off we went into the village to play at the park where she immediately headed to the snack stand and wanted her peach juice….and yup…you guessed it…drank it down in less than 2 minutes! And that lead to a wet diaper (they don’t potty train until 5) which I had to change in the middle of the park and she was quite uncomfortable with that!!!! But, she handled it remarkably well and we ended up laughing together over the awkwardness of the park bench :-)

After the park, we went to a restaurant where our translator ordered her a soup that was similar to what she usually eats. She ate some of it, but once she tasted my chicken and French fries…the soup was history! She will definitely fit into the American way of life! She LOVED the little chicken bites and HAD to have ketchup on those French fries! She made us laugh so hard because she was doing the “raise the roof” dance move to the pop music that was playing loudly at the restaurant! She loves music so much and always sings along with an uncanny ability to pick up the melody and rhythm immediately! The second she heard the music up went the hands and perfectly to the beat, I mind you!

Then came the time to take her back…the time to say “good-bye”. She wanted Daddy to carry her and he said that the closer we got, the tighter she held onto his neck. It was as if she knew something was going on. We went back to the director’s office and chatted and had a last couple of giggles and lots of hugs and kisses. Bryan kept whispering in my ear to stay strong…I think he was doing it halfway to help me and the other half to help himself. We did it and made sure her last memories were of smiles. She blew us kisses and left to go take a nap. They shut the door and again the tears fell. I could feel God, though and I could feel His presence and His gentle reassurance that it would all be okay. I just needed to focus on the future and the still miraculous fact that this beautiful little girl was going to be ours and we were being given this incredible gift.

So now….I think about the day that will soon come. The day where I will have three noisy kiddos running through the house and a quiet night in the future when I will not have just two rooms to go to before I sleep, but rather three. Now I quietly go into each room and watch Zachary and Landon sleeping peacefully and I kiss their little foreheads and whisper my prayers of thanksgiving to Jesus for allowing me to be their mommy and then whisper into their ears “ I’m so glad that God gave me you”. But soon, that quiet night will come, and I will have a third bedroom to go into and I will quietly whisper..”Thank You, Jesus, for letting me be her mommy” and then “I’m so glad God gave me you.”

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Reality is setting in. Today was still a miracle and I am so thankful to God for each moment He has given us…but the reality of our situation and the fact that tomorrow (Thursday) will be our last day with Selah before we leave kept lurking in the background of our minds.

Before we left this morning I was reading my Bible, and in it I read II Corinthians 3:17 which says “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (emancipation from bondage, freedom). God always works in such creative ways to show us the words He wants us to hear. This verse had been one that a very close friend of mine has referred to before in her own prayer life over her child and she had recently prayed that scripture in regards to Selah and the whole adoption process. I knew when I read it that I needed to be claiming that promise from God over our Selah’s life today.

When we arrived today we were alone and without our translator so it was a different situation for Selah. When she first entered the room where we were waiting for her, she seemed a bit hesitant at first, but then she came over to us with a big hug…but the hug for some reason made her nervous…and she began to show some typical institutional behaviors. We had seen these behaviors a little bit the last few days, but today was just like I earlier stated…reality. It hit me so hard and so deep… to the very depths of my heart that this precious little girl who I already love as though she had been born from me…has spent the last four years rocking herself to find comfort…tapping her hands to the side of her head to find comfort…It was reality that my daughter didn’t have a Mommy or Daddy or special someone to pick her up when she was hurt…to kiss the booboos away, to make the scary nightmare disappear, or to simply help her through any of the moments of insecurity in her life. I think of all the times our boys have needed that extra time in the rocking chair, or their backs beings rubbed, or the quiet moments where they could sit on my lap and cry about the disappointments in life. She has never had that…instead she has had to find a way to comfort herself in her moments of stress, sadness, nervousness, or hurt. My heart grieved.

In the midst of the grieving, God reminded me to come to Him. I prayed…I prayed and claimed His promises for freedom from any hurt, ache, or emptiness from her past. I prayed for peace and joy to fill her heart. I prayed that we could meet her immediate needs right at that moment. I prayed for His Holy Spirit to live in her heart…to reign over all her troubles…over all the areas where life had let her down. I held her in my arms, rubbing her back, and silently prayed. And then God, our awesome God, met us right where we were and a peace and calm came over our little Selah and the happy, giggly, spunky little girl was back with the biggest, cutest smile you could ever imagine! We’d made it through. I was given the blessing of giving her physical comfort in her time of need and God calmed her little spirit and set her free.

After that the day went well. We read a couple of books from Grandma and played with the playdough she loves so much. She particularly loved the one book that is a touch and feel book and she would rub the soft fur part of each animal listed in the story to her face and say "awwwww...". So cute! Then we went for a walk again to the village and to the park where she had another bottle of juice, but this time she chose peach juice! She definitely had the straw function mastered and downed that bottle of juice in less than five minutes! She was NOT setting that bottle down until it was ALL gone! From there we went for another walk along a little path to a little country church that was hundreds of years old and very pretty. She wasn’t crazy about walking uphill so I picked her up and carried her. We sang songs together and cuddled all the way up the hill! She has an incredible ability to hear a song and then hum the melody almost perfectly! She held on so tight and kept holding my face and playing with my hair and giving me sweet kisses. I really think my heart just may burst…literally!

On the way down the hill, she wanted to run and have us chase her…I was worried because her muscle tone is not great and she hasn’t had many opportunities to run and develop those muscles. My worries came to fruition and she fell down and bumped her head. She had quite a goose egg on her forehead. I felt horrible! The positive was that when it happened and I quickly picked her up and held her and tried to kiss the booboos…she calmed down. I thanked God that He has again allowed me to be her comfort. Just as I am always so thankful that He has allowed me to be the Mommy to Zach and Landon and given me the blessing of being their physical comfort, I am praising Him now that He has given me this same opportunity with Selah. She is quite an amazingly tough little thing though, because even with that big ‘ol goose egg, she was finished crying and giggling again in about 5 minutes!

We brought her back to the orphanage because it was time for lunch and Bryan put kisses in her little pocket and without us even have to explain it to her, she took the kisses out of her pocket and plopped them on her lips! Precious!
In the afternoon we went back and immediately Selah was comfortable again. I praised God for her comfort and her peace…she didn’t show any of the nervousness as she had that morning. It had gotten quite chilly so we only played outside for a little bit and then went inside to play in the little room. We went through every toy and every creative idea we had for the next two hours in a room that is approximately 5’ x 10’ and filled with furniture. It kind of reminds me of waiting in a Doctor’s office with a small child and trying to amuse them! Bryan is soooooooo good at being silly so we did great and Selah and him had a blast being absolutely silly together! She cracks us up with her wild sense of humor! I think the Schumaker home is truly going to someday be comedy central with Mommy bearing the brunt of it all! :-)

As our time came to an end tonight, she went away easily because she was hungry and ready for dinner, but I guess when she realized she was going back to all the children and we weren’t coming with her, she began to cry…. How are we going to get through the next few months?

Please, Lord, I am asking for speed in this process…please do not let any paperwork be delayed…let us all be together soon