Life and Times of the Arkansas Stucky Seven

Thursday, October 29, 2009

We Aren't in Kansas, I mean Korea, Anymore!

I want to let you know right off the bat, for less than 2 weeks in, we are doing better than we deserve! Truly, we continue to feel so blessed by HOW God brought Emma Hope to our family, and that He brought HER to our family! She is so sweet and everyday getting more and more comfortable with all of us. Lots of kisses and hugs are shared all day long, so we are so thankful that the dreaded flu (of any kind!) has stayed away from our home. We trust the Lord knows how much we can handle with His help!!
So all that said, we definitely have room for improvement! We are realizing that had it been possible, it would have been helpful to go into her foster home in Korea and see how they do the basic daily things. Meaning, Emma Hope seems overly irritated by the normal stuff; getting wiped off after meals, changing diapers or clothes, taking a bath, laying down for bed, etc. So either this is just how she is, or more likely, we do all these things so differently than how she is accustomed. For example, her foster mother told us she likes bath time. Well, not so much now! We do know that in Korea the whole family sleeps on a pallet/s on a heated floor, all together. So, we have tried to kinda modify that concept by laying on the ground with her on a sleeping bag or bringing her into bed with us. But those don't seem much more successful. And how much do we try short-term fixes, that in the long-term will have to be changed again? Currently, she seems to have fallen into a pattern of sleeping 11:30pm-2:30am, taking a bottle, then 3:00am-7:30am. We are trying to regulate her naps during the day to try to adjust the night-time sleep. It is a work in progress for sure! Maybe the biggest part of the adjustment is Brad and I functioning on less sleep now!!!
So, we are reminding each other it has only been 2 weeks, the first week of that being shrouded in jet-lag/time change! So, again, in the big picture, all is well! The challenges seem to be things that will work themselves out with time. Compared to what we could be dealing with considering she was labeled "special needs", this is a cake-walk! If we could, we would kiss the feet of whoever gave her that label. As a result, we were given another opportunity to trust God in faith and receive our precious girl even sooner than if she had been on the regular track!
Last night, since our "Sweet Cheeks" was wide awake and happy till 10:30ish, Alyssa was up with us making a final decision on her life Scripture verse. We have been talking this through for some time and finally landed on Psalm 71:14-15...
"But as for me, I will always have hope;
I will praise You more and more.
My mouth will tell of Your righteousness,
of Your salvation all day long,
though I know not its measure."

There were so many verses we love, so many directions we could go because of her story, but we are pleased with the simplicity and longevity of this one for her. It was a great way to end a challenging day, with the truth, the anchor, of God's Word.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A few more cute pictures...just because we can!

As much as we have written about Brad's and my thoughts/feelings regarding this whole wonderful adoption adventure, our four older children have some strong emotions of their own! They are crazy about Emma Hope! She gets hugs and kisses all day long! Today the girls have even volunteered to tough out the nightly crying fits as well since they are all sharing a room! EH takes great daily naps in her crib but we have had her in our room in the pack-n-play for nights. Well somethin's gotta give, so we will try having her in the girls' room tonight.
Lest you think our kids are saints, here is a quote from almost-5 Parker, as we were tucking him into bed a few nights ago: "Why does she cry so much? Why can't we just take her back?" Stifling laughter, I was trying to analyze if he was voicing his first words of jealousy or just irritation about typical baby fussiness. It might be a little of both but based on his overall sweetness toward her, I think he just could do without the periodic wailing!
Well, speaking of wailing, I just heard our precious girl awake upstairs, so I'll sign off for now! Please pray for a chunk of sound sleep after a bottle!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Home Sweet Home

So sorry we completely fell off the Blog Planet! We were doing so well keeping up and then we got home and have been in a jet-lag induced fog ever since! Not to mention having a precious PRECIOUS new baby girl that is right on track developmentally for an 8-month old but has the sleeping habits of a newborn! Or at least right now she does! So hard to know at this point if it is still the time change for her or if she is still really grieving her losses or even the difference in how her foster family slept compared with our customs, but we are hoping to see some good nighttime sleep real soon! Thankfully, the older kiddos are responding with love, hugs and helpfulness.
So back tracking a bit, last Saturday we said good-bye to an incredible, blessed week in Seoul, South Korea and began the long journey home! Because of the time difference we got to have another Saturday as we flew and tried to keep Emma Hope happy on the long flight to Chicago. Thankfully, she is truly characterized by being a very cheerful little girl but no matter who you are, she didn't know us yet and it is just plain long! Also thankfully, our travel agent had arranged for us to have the bulkhead seats where there is room to connect a bassinet to the wall, so Emma Hope did sleep some in there. If only Brad and I could have rested more while she did! But in the end we made it to Chicago and we would highly recommend Korean Airlines! They are all about customer service!
After quite a layover, we boarded our quick flight home to Northwest Arkansas! Emma Hope slept the whole flight and we landed 20 minutes early! Love that tailwind! We gathered up our carry-ons one last time and were greeted by SUCH AN INCREDIBLE WELCOMING COMMITTEE!! WOW! We could feel the love even in our zombie state! Thank you so much to everyone who was able to be there and all who wanted to be there : ) It was so great to hug our kids, family and friends! I think there are great pictures but not on our camera so maybe we can post those later.
Anyway, the last five days have been vacillating between foggy and fun, frustrating and fabulous! It is hard to describe how amazing it is to have Emma Hope home, part of our family and the wonderful bonding that is taking place! And then night comes again... it has been really hard to help her settle into deep sleep for any length of time. At the beginning, she was emphatically preferring Brad over me, physically pushing me away in fact. But I am so thankful we have turned the corner on that and Emma Hope and I are now tight too! We trust that as we figure out a schedule and long-term sleep solutions, everything and everyone will start falling into place!
Again we can never say enough THANK YOU's to the Lord for the GREAT things He has done! And THANK YOU's to the entire army of people He has gathered to pray for us, support the process, encourage us, bring us yummy dinners, hug us, shower our kids with extra attention, give us gifts of time, skill, $, and darling baby girl things! We will always stand amazed at the last year and a half and know that God in His sovereignty made all the pieces of this beautiful puzzle perfectly fit. Only He could do all He has done!!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

October 16, 2009 - Emma Hope's Gotcha Day!!!

Hopefully pictures are truly worth 1,000 words because words seem useless right now! So hard to know what to say on such an AWESOME day!!! We did some stuff earlier (Seoul World Cup Stadium- so cool! And last shopping at Seoul's Home Plus - like Wal-Mart) but the great stuff started at 2:00pm!!! Actually the Holt office was hoppin' this afternoon with many families either meeting their child for the first time or pick-ups like ours. Since the normal social worker just had the appendectomy, the only other sweet social worker had her hands very full and it was not the ideal situation. So many families, both foster and forever, with so many emotions to work through and it was chaotic. But we were trying to be sensitive to Emma Hope's foster father and mother b/c it was obvious they were fighting tears. Emma Hope was their first foster child and it was clear they really loved her! Thankfully, we learned they receive a new foster child next week! Phew!
So anyway, EH was sound asleep when we arrived, her foster mother transferred her to me and she stayed asleep THE WHOLE TIME! Through all the instructions and the tears, she slept! I kept thinking it was not going to be good when she wakes up and they are just gone but there wasn't anything to do about we said lots of Kam-sa-ham-ni-das -Thank yous - and they left in tears. So so hard. And then she was ours!!!! What we have hoped and prayed for for all this time happened! God gave her to us as such a precious gift!
So we had already decided that if all was going well, we would seize our final chance to visit Yoido Full Gospel Church, the largest Christian church in the world. I don't know if the building is the biggest, but there are 800,000 members in this church at several locations! Seriously! Back in the 70's, this pastor, David Cho, was inspired to implement large group celebrations with small cell groups, which is the model so many American churches use today! It started here! Anyway, it was so fitting and tied a big bow around this week to go there, pray and THANK GOD there, and still Emma Hope slept! No kidding, through all this and the taxi ride back to the guesthouse she slept on my shoulder! So we walked into the Guesthouse and she wakes up to sweet Mr. Kim, the guesthouse overseer. He was so happy for us! It was great!
She drank her first bottle then upstairs in our room and then...the look in her eyes changed. The look said I don't see anything familiar and I am scared! So we worked through a hard crying time but now...
Right now EH is sitting on our bed giggling! No Joke! Brad is just playing with her and she is truly smiling and giggling!! And playing with toys and babbling! So so fun!!! Oh, now snacking on little pieces of Korean corn puffs! This is too fun! Brad is in heaven with his 3rd baby girl!

I will stop for now! I want to focus on her and get packed up. We fly home in the morning and we so appreciate your prayers. I told Brad this morning I hesitate to use this word about our trip but we can't deny that this whole week, well this whole process has been anointed by our Lord and how we praise Him! Thank you all of you who have been covering us in love, prayer and support!!

P.S. We have decided while we were here to actually call her Emma Hope. I know, none of our other kids have a two-name first name, but Hope is such an incredible part of her story we want to say it a lot! And praise God for the HOPE we have in Him!

As we leave Seoul...

Today is our last day in this amazing country. Tomorrow we will get picked up at 8am by the Holt van and take a crazy fast scary drive to the airport in Incheon. Even scarier this time since we will have our precious bundle with us! But it won't be 5:00PM rush hour traffic like last time, so that is good!
Here I am at 5:30 am wide awake for our Gotcha Day! There are so many thoughts swirling around in my head and memories of the week that I don't ever want to forget. So this post may be boring for you but this is our way of journal-ing the trip, so indulge me!
Yesterday just getting breakfast was such a challenge...we had seen a Starbacks and Mister Donut earlier in the week that we intended to hit. So we walk into Starbucks and see that a mocha, one of our favorites, is $5.30! Well to be culturally correct it was 5,300 won. But you just drop a "0" so it is easy! No tax, no tip, drop a "0"! Sounds like a motto! But seriously, overall this week we have felt like prices are very comparable to ours in the States. But $5.30 for a mocha? We couldn't do it! So we walk across the street to Mister Donut (which claims to have "the world's best coffee and freshest donuts!) and they are closed! Don't open till 10:00am!! What is that?? You sell the best coffee and donuts but don't open till 10:00am??? Crazy! But it fits that with the incredible night life in downtown Seoul maybe morning activities are a little later! Wow! Things are even more hoppin' at night! It is something to watch! So in the end we found Tom n Toms Coffee that makes these huge stuffed pretzels (we had apple and cinnamon oozing out everywhere and napkins are hard to come by here!) and really good mochas!
If someone was preparing to come here and had some time to take a side trip first, it seems like it would be helpful to navigate New York City for a week, in English! Then, even though this seems like NYC times 10, you would at least be familar with buses, subways, the endless alleys and crammed in feeling! Not to mention the walking and walking and walking! Boy, have we walked! Yesterday we got up the courage to take the subway on our own and we figured it out! We made it to the HUGEST bookstore on the planet! So incredible!!! Some employees could speak just enough English to help us find an English/Korean Bible for EH! We found some board books with both English on one side and Hangul (Korean writing) on the other. They also had CDs of kid's Christian praise songs in Korean, so we hope they are similar to what our kids are used to!
Overall, we would both say the Korean people are kind, hard-working and beautiful. We had so much help from various people to get where we needed to go, see what we needed to see, eat only what we SHOULD eat : ) and purchase only what would be truly important for Korean culture. Our friend Ju-eun from the City Tour has gone out of her way to carve out more time for outings with us, negotiate sales transactions for us, take us to more great sights around town ( the beautiful stream that runs through the center of this bustling city, the Seoul World Cup Stadium built in 2002, the bi-level Home Plus Store similar to Wal-Mart, within the Stadium, that has an escalator for your shopping cart!), and educate us about the thoughts and feelings of both the young and older generations here. It has been fascinating to just pick her brain and learn from each other. What an unexpected gift her friendship is.
When families adopt children from Korea, you have the option to come here and escort your child back home or you can choose to have a caregiver escort your child to the States and arrange the pick-up at the nearest available airport. We have seen it done both ways and see pros and cons for both. But for us, as soon as we knew there wasn't that huge of a cost difference, we prayed for the opportunity to visit Emma Hope's birth country for ourselves. We again want to thank everyone who truly made it possible for us to be here. We hope someday we can bring our whole family to experience this unique Asian culture, and also get out of the city to some of the remote country areas. But for now, we have been so blessed to learn a little of what makes the Korean people tick and then to be able to pass it on to Emma Hope.

A Final, Pre-flight Check-up for Our Baby Girl!

OK, we get the hint! You only care enough to respond if there are pictures of Emma Hope!!! So, here you go!! Isn't she just the cutest?! She was sound asleep in her foster mother's arms when we all arrived for her Dr. appt. today. So her f.m. sweetly transferred Emma Hope into my arms and she stayed asleep. It was too short but a precious time! Then the nurse began by taking her temp. and she was just fine but bugged by the thing in her ear! Like, leave me alone, I'm trying to sleep!! Then we walked into Dr. Park's office and he just manuvered her around with no regard for the fact that she had been sound alseep, and she pretty much just went with it! We were standing there amazed at how she just rolled with whatever needed to happen right when she should have been sleeping!
Anyway, she had a very brief exam and everything checks out fine! She is fine to get on a plane and travel 21 hours! Yippee!! It was hard to say good-bye again until tomorrow but that is just how it works, so you do it.
The rest of the afternoon and evening we spent with one of our tour guides from yesterday, our new friend, Ju-eun Lee! She is just precious and helpful and offered to show us more sights and help us do some final shopping. She let us know her friend is an exchange student at the Univ. of Arkansas (Go Razorbacks!) this year and she plans to visit her in January! So we might get to host her in our home next!
We have had another long, long fantastic day! As we sat at a yummy Korean BBQ restaurant for dinner, Ju-eun struck up a conversation with the older ladies at the table next to us and answered their questions about us. (One of those weird moments when people are talking about you and you are sitting right there!!) Then the ladies proceed to order us bottles of Pepsi and take our check!! They wanted to treat us for dinner b/c they are pleased with how we are caring for one of Korea's children and wanting to give her a loving family!! Amazing! Such a blessing and another timely provision from the Lord! (Brad had just been figuring that we were running low on funds...fine, but we'd have to be even more careful tomorrow!) So we were blown away by their generosity to perfect strangers and foreigners at that! We got to practice our Kam-sa-ham-ni-da (thank you!) a lot tonight!!
So this is it! Our last sleep before returning to parenting a toddler! Formula and diapers here we come again! But oh, she is worth it! When she looks at me my heart just melts! Enjoy the pics!

ps... Dad and Mom, sorry for the disconnect with the international phone call. Not for sure what went wrong. All is great here. Hope all will be well there. We love you and will see you on Saturday.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sights of Seoul!

With INCREDIBLE tour guides...we did SEOUL!!!

What an amazingly fun day! If we have to be w/o Emma Hope for these days in between, we sure did have an incredibly fun day with newly made friends from Kentucky (who are also adopting an 8 month old!) and our super fun college gal tour guides! Holt asked us before we came if we wanted to sign up for a "city tour". It was part of the fee anyway so we said sure. But you never know if those kind of things are going to be real long and boring or really great. This was beyond great! These gals had all the time in the world and made such an effort to take us places we wanted to go see and do some shopping. Hopefully the pictures will give you a little taste of our day!
Here are the highlights and more observations:
  • The Ceremony of Opening the Palace Gate was really something! This is done daily at Gyeongbokgung Palace, the main royal palace of long ago kings. I'm told this is also known as the Imperial Palace. It is very ornate, massive, and regal. Our tour guides were full of interesting facts about Korean history and legend.
  • Then we took the subway! Wow, what an incredible subway system Seoul has! Not sure we could navigate it on our own, but it was sure fun to ride with people who knew what they were doing! These parts of Seoul make it seem like New York City on steroids!
  • We went to two open air market shopping areas and our interpreters did a little wheeling and dealing to help us make some traditional Korean purchases! It was fun to sit back and listen. Once again, we are amazed at the millions of people and businesses/street vendors here! But much of today we were away from the thick of the crazy traffic and crowded sidewalks so that was fantastic! Felt like we could breathe!
  • Our sweet gals picked an incredible authentic, sit on the floor Korean restaurant for lunch. They ordered for all of us after kinda getting a feel for foods we like and not so much! For the most part it was DELICIOUS but there are definitely Korean staples that I just cannot do! Brad on the other hand loves super hot/spicy dishes with odd textures so he was in total food heaven!! This was really the first day we have gotten to just sit and visit with Koreans who knew English well enough and were gracious up and beyond what was expected. We all asked them so many questions and they just answered and helped all day! They were such a blessing!
  • One question we had was "to tip or not to tip"? The guides confirmed no tipping and no taxes! How simple is that! It is culturally just "their pleasure to serve" so tipping would be rude.
  • We also had to take taxi rides to some of the places and that in itself is an experience! Wow, people drive fast and close and it is amazing there are not accidents every few seconds!
  • Most of the people we have interacted with have been so gracious, however in the market places or on the subway if you are in someone's way, they will just shove you aside. There is no "excuse me." Lynda about got ran over by a cart piled high with boxes!
  • Steve & Shelly from Louisville were a blast and we laughed and laughed all day! They were wanting to find some of the same traditional Korean gifts we were so it really worked out perfectly!
Well, we are thoroughly exhausted so I will close for now. The last two nights have been very interrupted sleep, so we hope tonight can just be snoozing all the way through, maybe even past 6am! Tomorrow morning we get to go to Emma Hope's final doctor appointment so we look forward to that! Bye for now.

Monday, October 12, 2009

You're Gonna LOVE Her!!!

Our first time of meeting Emma Hope was AMAZING!!! Could not have gone any better! Emma Hope was sooooooo sweet and calm and interactive!! So incredible how the Lord has provided for her needs up to now in such a way that she is confident that she is loved and cared for immensely! That is how she comes across...She is so happy and her foster mom says she is happy and content most all the time! We learned today that she has had two different foster families that have completely loved on her! We have the most precious gifts from both families! Photo albums filled with incredible pictures through her last eight months! Since we had been given only the info. about her first foster family, the gifts we brought for the family weren't quite all appropriate. So we have some shopping to do before we meet again! A little awkward!
So here's the play by play:
We get to the Holt offices and they show us to a nice cozy room where we will visit. We had arrived early ( shocking!) so we had to wait a little while. But in the meantime we saw her pass by in the hallway a few times and we just wanted to go grab her! We thought the Korean social worker would come in first and kind of let us know how it would go (we later learned she was rushed to the hospital with an appendicitis! Please pray for her) but all of a sudden here comes Emma Hope in the outfit we sent her carried by her sweet sweet foster mom. Wow! All of a suddden there she was! In the flesh! As we look back now, it seems strange that neither of us cried b/c we both thought we would! I think we just were so happy and relieved and also conscious of being sensitive to her foster mom. Behind them came a different social worker named DJ or TJ or sometthing that sounds like that! She was a great interpreter and answered a ton of our questions. It turns out this foster mom is new to fostering with Holt. Emma Hope was her first baby to care for and the experience has gone so well that she will definitely care for more babies waiting for their forever families. This family has two young daughters that seem from the pictures to have really doted on Emma Hope! I think we know two other daughters that will take over where these girls left off!!! And two sons!!
Anyway, for an hour we played with the books we brought, she knawed on a biter biscuit we gave her, she played with my necklace, she laid her head on Brad's shoulder, and she really connected with our eyes! Please pray the great groundwork that was laid today will carry over to Friday when she is ours forever! We were also invited to go to her final dr. appt on Thursday at 10am! We will be there!
So enjoy the pictures! We are going to go enjoy a celebration dinner, either Korean BBQ or Japanese tepanyaki/sushi (for Brad) ! Oh, a last amazing discovery...her foster mom told us that she seems to favor using her left hand! This is really sweet since both Brad and I are left-handed but none of our biological kids are! So I guess we had to adopt to get a lefty!!! So fun!

Thoughts so far...

We were wide awake at 6am this morning after the longest night of our lives! We kept waking up thinking we had been asleep for a really long time and then figured out only a few hours had past. We literally woke up around 1:30am but thought it was like the next night already and we had missed our appt. to meet Emma Hope!! Massive jetlag/timezone confusion!!! And this is WITH a sleep aide!
Anyway, by 7am we were out walking around trying to figure out breakfast. Before we came, we had the intention of eating authentic and local foods. Easier said than done! We were never so happy for an Egg McMuffin!!! And then we walked and walked finding Starbucks, Domino's Pizza, Papa Johns, Chrysler, Dodge, etc. We also found the Hotel Seokyo where we had heard others have stayed. It is BEAUTIFUL! The difference between there and the Holt Guesthouse is like the Embassy Suites to a Motel Six! But the price is right here at the guesthouse so we are thankful!
We are surprised by some things:
Very few people know English, so even though people seem to want to be helpful, it is hard.
There are a lot of smokers
The smell of sewage is quite pronounced as you walk by the street grates. It is not hard to understand that with this many millions of people all crammed together in such a small place, it might smell!
As short as Lynda is, I don't feel short here!!! : )

Well, there is a break in the unexpected rain and we need to walk about 5 blocks to the Holt Offices for our First Meeting, so we are going to head out! Can't wait to post pics of our precious new munchkin!!
Love to all!

Some Korean Observations

Wow!! We've made it here!

We are here!!! After 21 hours of travel, we are cozy in the Holt Guesthouse in Seoul! Once again the Lord paved the way ahead. We had smooth travel and peace on the journey. I am not thinking in complete sentences at the moment, so we are just going to work with short thoughts! Bear with us!
  • All the logistics went perfect today (and yesterday)
  • 14 hours from Chicago to Seoul is a really long time to be on a flight! Brad and I have new respect for all of you who have traveled internationally! We wonder what it will be like on Saturday with Emma along!!
  • The Korean people seem very warm, friendly and helpful, but there is definitely a language barrier - we ventured out quickly for a sandwich dinner (and a scoop of Baskin Robbins!) and we were definitely communication challenged!
  • Downtown Seoul, where we are, is like, um, downtown L.A. x10! It is sooooooo crowded, the people drive sooooooooo fast and everything is super crowded together. There are vendors all over!
  • We are out of our comfort zone! Which is probably a good thing, to keep us dependent on Jesus!
  • This definitely has a mission trip feel. Our accommodations are bare bones but has the essentials!
  • we will write more tomorrow after we get some sleep!
  • We will meet Emma in just 17 hours!!!
  • God is good, all the time!
  • Love you all!!

Monday, October 5, 2009

God's time is ALWAYS...right on time!!

This whole adoption journey has taught us so much more deeply many incredible truths about God. Things you know in your mind and maybe even in your heart, but not known FOR SURE until we trusted Him enough to let Him show us. He actually is all that His Word says He is! A huge aspect of what He has taught us more about relates to trusting His timing, because it is always PERFECT. A precious friend of ours has periodically reminded me along the way of the fact that God will provide the funds, or whatever is needed, WHEN it is needed. And He knows way better than we do exactly when His provision is needed! So, at many specific points in the process, when we had to have chunks of money for this or that, EVERY time, by the due date, sometimes in what we would consider the "nick of time", He has provided it. And sometimes in the most shocking ways!
He did it again today! I had literally just finished e-mailing a note to the team at church in charge of extending no-interest loans to families who are adopting. I was confirming with them that because of God's miraculous provision, our account at our agency is "paid in full"!!! It is still hard to believe! Amazing to write! And I was also asking if we could now borrow the last little bit we need for travel to S. Korea from the adoption fund. Before they even had a chance to respond, our kids went out to get the mail. They came back in with a beautiful card containing a check for $1,000!!! I am not joking!! This is how it has been around here for a year and a half! He promised if we would trust Him, and His timing, He would take care of it. He has left us speechless and flabbergasted!
And in the in-between times when I would sound somewhat concerned, dare I say... doubtful, my friend would remind me, "You don't need it yet." She was right...God's timing truly is right on time!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

What's in a name?

We were just thinking about how we chose Emma's name. Her full name will be Emma Hope Bo-ram Stucky. We actually had picked "Emma Hope" for a girl before our fourth child, Parker David, was born in November 2004. We didn't know if he was a boy or girl, so we had to be ready for either! (And we have been so blessed by him!!) Our two biological daughters are named Alyssa Grace and Hannah Faith. So we wanted a name that would flow with theirs. We are thankful we got to save this name for this precious daughter because her middle name, "Hope", describes what God has given us and her by joining us together through adoption. We pray that someday she will come to know Him as her greatest Hope.
Her first name, "Emma", we just like! No, it is actually amazing now that we see the meanings of Emma (which some consider a short form of Emily) and her Korean name Bo-ram. In Korean, Bo-ram means fruitful and industrious. Guess what, Emily means hard-working and industrious! Wow! But if you just go by the name Emma, that means "whole, complete or universal". And oh, the places we could go with that! Does that mean she completes our family? Makes our family whole? Or does it apply to the Lord taking what could have been a broken life and bringing her wholeness in Him? Or could we see the "universal" part as her being from Korea? So many ways to take it!
However her name is dissected, our over-riding prayer for our daughter Emma is that she will choose to be fruitful for the Kingdom of God and always be a blessing to others. Really that is what we hope for all our kiddos!

Trusting the Trustworthy One

How do you sum up the last three to four years that got us to this point in a "blog post"? Some would say we should have started this blog a year and half ago, when we first knew for sure that we were called to take our own leap of faith into the world of adoption. And they would be right! I am now wishing I had! And had we known what the Lord was up to over a decade ago, we should have been chronicling the journeys of all the families God has surrounded us with who have made their own amazing adoption journeys. But now it is today, October 1, 2009, and we've gotten our Travel Call! Holt International says, "Get to Seoul, Korea, she is ready and waiting for you!"
So if you are going to be following along, it might help for you to know the steps along the way that led to adding Emma Hope to our family. Like we mentioned, we have had the blessing of being up close and personal with LOTS of adoptive families. We have been privileged to watch what an incredibly good work the Lord does when people open their hearts to His will for their families and these precious children. So, for several years our children have been asking, "When are we adopting?" I love the uncomplicated, unconcerned way they have always approached the subject. So to be honest it was the adults in our family, the parents, who had the issues! How on earth would we be able to adopt even if we wanted to? It costs thousands of dollars!!! In hindsight, we can now see that all along, God was using the innocence and faith of our children, and the encouragement of those who have blazed the trail before us, to gently prod us forward.
On March 11th, 2008, (Brad's birthday!), one of our church pastors and great friend who heads up the adoption ministry, contacted us about two tickets to the Steven Curtis Chapman concert that night in Fayetteville. These tickets were intended to be given to a couple in our church who was interested in exploring the possibility of adoption. We gratefully accepted the tickets! We have loved SCC's music for years and there was also a stirring in both our hearts that this could be a way the Lord was focusing a very blurry picture. The concert was truly amazing! What an incredible mix of worship, fun, solemn, rock out, and convicting music! And what a birthday present for Brad! The focus of the night was on the overwhelming need for families for orphans, both to actually adopt and/or to support those families who do. SCC's strong encouragement was for families who would love to adopt but are hindered by the financial mountain that seems too great to climb. He begged us to absolutely trust God to make a way where there seems to be no way. That God promises to complete what He is calling us to begin in faith. So that night we committed to get off the fence we had been safely sitting on, and choose to trust the only One who has always been Trustworthy!
As it turns out, that was the right choice!!! What seemed so risky actually became the safest decision! Over the last year and a half, every time we have needed wisdom, provision or encouragement to stay the course, He has been right there leading the way. God has used a variety of means and an army of loving people to finish what He started. He has completely blessed our socks off in providing the $$$ and the confirmations we have needed. THANK YOU to all of you God has used to bring our precious daughter home! We don't have the words to thank you sufficiently but we pray the Lord blesses your socks off too!!!
So, we hope and pray that this blog will be one way God uses to help you see what we have been shown...that "adoption is the visible Gospel", a picture of how the Lord has adopted us who have chosen His free gift of salvation in Christ Jesus. We also hope our story will be helpful in encouraging others to step out in faith and actually trust Him to provide for whatever He is asking of you. We would have missed out on a HUGE blessing if we had either said, "No, we don't think You can do something this big", or if we had just been able to provide for it on our own. As with all things that are God's BEST, the way this adoption has come about has His fingerprints all over it! There would have been no way without His miraculous provision and we offer our Lord all the Glory and Praise!!!