3 coloumn

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Home Study- The adoption process may 2012

   From the begining of the "paper work phase" (dec-may) we were told that one of the most important parts of the adoption application process is the home study. The home study consists of a 7-9 hour interview at your home over the course of two days. This two day process is what can make or break your application with your adoption agency. The home study is a stressful part for every adoptive family and this momma was all worked up in a tizzy the whole month of may preparing for it.
  I went OCD making sure our new house was baby proofed, organized top to bottom and every inch of the place spotless. This has been the only time in my children's life that I have not been worried about them eating off the floor because it was soooo clean;) This month was also a lot of great conversation for Scott and me. We spent several nights asking prep questions, or questions we thought they might ask us, to each other. We laughed a lot but also couldn't help but wonder what the one caseworker who was assigned our home study would think of us.
   Would she see how much we already loved this little girl? Would she be a Christian and understand that God has called us to this? Would she think our children are too young and think we need to be put on hold by the agency? A hundred or more questions plagued me at night and this month was a real struggle of spiritual attack for me. The enemy wanted me to be distracted by doubt instead of on my knees in prayer for our sweet little girl in China.
   As we neared the date we got a little more details of how these two days were going to go down. The first day would include a tour of the home and a 2-3 hour interview with our caseworker and our family. The kids would be present and she would ask us questions about parenting and discipline and she would observe our interaction with them. Our caseworker mentioned that she might even ask our daughter, who was extremely verbal even though she was only 2 yrs 3 months, a few questions too.   
   Needless to say, I was frantic. What if she doesn't like our home? Who knows what will come out of Lillys mouth? What if Fischer throws one of his outrageous fits on the floor? What if the caseworker doesn't like our parenting style? What if Lilly hits Fischer for taking his toys? Ahhhhhhh!
   I had my friends pray peace over us and  Phil 4:6 became my anthem "Do not be anxious about anything but in every situation, by prayer and pretition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God and the peace of God which transcends all understand will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus." I knew in my heart that God called us to this, I needed to be confident in that. He has already given us so many signs and clear direction through the process thus far, he would carry us through. BUT the enemy was doing a full court press on me:(
   If we survived day one...( I know a little dramatic but this process seemed so daunting at the time;)) day two would consist of 5-6 hour interview with no kids. The casework would interview Scott and me together and then separate the two of us and ask us questions as individuals. These questions would consist of...What is the worst this about your spouse? What is the best thing about your spouse? What do you think of your spouses family? What is your family like? If you could change one thing about your spouse, and you can't say nothing, what would it be?
   Are you kidding me??? I am supposed to be honest about all these things? I have an amazing husband but we can both tell you WE HAVE OUR FAULTS and we are FAR FROM PERFECT!! So, Scott and I asked alot of these questions ahead of time so we were not surprised or angered by the answers. (This was really good for our relationship and thought we might try to revisit these questions annually or something!)
   The day approach the end of May and it was time for the caseworker to come. Everyone was dressed in sundays best and smiles ear to ear;) I was ready to get this over with;) Up walked this adorable young gal from Oklahoma who was so sweet and immediately I had a peace. The first day went very well. No major upsets with the kiddos and Lilly did great when asked by the caseworker..."Lilly would you like to have a brother or a sister?" to which she looked over at her brother who was banging her baby doll around and smiled at the caseworker and said, "SISTER!" hee hee it was soo funny!
   The next day was going so well and then it was my turn to do my individual questions. I was excited to get some time to talk with our caseworker by myself. She seemed like a girlfriend I was chatting with from college and catching up on old times. (Except for the fact that she had to take notes the whole time which is super nerve wracking. ;) We talked about my family and I asked about hers. We talked about Scott and my kids and thoughts on being a mom. When asked about our daughter in China, I got emotional which is very normal for me. Everything was going so well...and then she asked me a question I had never thought about..."What are your thoughts and feelings about the birth mom that abandoned your daughter to be?"
   The question caught me so off guard, I was speachless and frozen stiff. I honestly never thought about that. Tears of angry and sadness started to come. Anger because how could someone be so heartless? This one of Gods greatest gifts in life, NEVER to be tossed in a trash can or an ally all alone! Tears of sadness...what was her life like? Does she realize what she is doing? Does she care? Was this a hard decision? Does she know Jesus? ....I get choked up just thinking about these questions I still have and may never know the answers too.
   One thing the Lord reminded me of in that moment was the verse that had become my anthem for this. The verse does not just say to not be anxious and to bring your requests in prayer but WITH THANKSGIVING present your requests to God. That day the Lord reminded me that I was to be THANKFUL that the Lord could redeem this awful situation of abandonment and turn it into something beautiful, adoption- a complete family, where MaeLynn will never have to worry whether or not she is loved or will be provided for.  I probably never know the answers to the questions I have about our little girls birth parents but one thing I can do is pray for their salvation so that when the day of the Lord comes and we are all united in Heaven, I can meet them and let them know how faithfully the Lord loved their little girl and we are family forever in Christ. Please join us in continued prayer for the salvation of MaeLynn's birth parents.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Angel at the Park-Adoption update March 2012

  I've been meaning to continue going through my journal entries from the beginning months of our adoption process but honestly it's been some pretty painful past few months. We are sitting at our third month with all paperwork done and still no match. So many times I have picked up my journal to share more stories with ya all and the tears flow and it hurts so bad. I long for this little girl so much and at times I am so angry that God has called us to such a hard process in life to be quit honest with you. BUT then I am reminded...this is not about me, this is not about her, this is about bringing God the glory and sharing our stories to help God speak through us to others. So, here was another sweet story that happened in March that I felt led to share.

   By March we Scott and I were being plagued with doubt and questions...Are we really being called to this? Is God crazy, we already have two very young kids? Should we wait until our kids are older? How are we going to afford this???? So many questions, I found myself begging God to show us answers and give us peace. We were the only family from our church who was in the China process and had no one locally to talk to about any of this. We felt confused and alone in the process. We prayed he would open our hearts and minds to his leading and on a sweet warm March day, my prayer of confirmation in the process was answered.
   The weather was warm for a change from the rain and the kids were itching to get out. Any day with remotely nice weather is a day that I can count on our neighborhood park being full with moms and kids at play. This was one of this things that drew me to this area and I was really enjoying getting to know the other sweet moms in my neighborhood. Adult conversation with new friends was just what I was hoping for on a day like today.
   As I pulled the kids in their favorite wagon to the park, it seemed pretty quite. Too quite if you know our neighborhood. I was so looking forward to seeing some of the moms I had previously met and hoping to have more adult interaction on this particular day but as we walked up the park was empty. As I unloaded the kids, I couldn't help but think of our little girl in China. I often think of her while playing with the kids and wonder what she is doing or lament that she has probably never been to a park in her life and wishing she was with us.
   Within minutes of being there, this mom and adorable little girl start to walk up to the park. As I saw her face, I was speechless. (Which most of you know isn't very often for me;) She was such an adorable little Asian girl and she went straight to my kids and started to play. The mom was someone I had never seen in our neighborhood and clearly did not look like her daughter. I didn't want to assume she was adopted and really the thought had not crossed my mind, I was just taken in by her tiny frame and sweet smile. The mom walked over to me and introduced herself and asked me about my kids. I started to tear up and felt sooo foolish! I explained that our family was expecting another child through adoption from China and apologized for the tears. She said she remembered all to well that emotional process a few years ago when she adopted her daughter from China.
  Then the tears really started to come. I had never seen this woman before. I had been to the park every time it had loads of kids there and never once even saw this mom or little girl in our neighborhood. Since we had started the process, I had never met a family that had adopted a little girl from China. I couldn't help but hear Gods voice saying, I am here, I hear you, I want you to hear me.
   It was so refreshing to ask this mom about the process. I was able to hear first hand about the emotional struggles, share feelings and experiences with someone who understood what I was going through. Most importantly I heard this mom tell me that the process wasn't easy, it was actually one of the hardest things she had ever done. But she told me it was worth it and if God asked her to do it all over again, she would. It filled me with such hope...such vision for our calling and our family...such peace to continue...such confidence that we were right where God wanted us.  
   Today, to me, this was my answered prayer, this little girl was the angel in the park. As I watched her play with my kids, I was filled with images of the early dreams I had of my kids all playing together. The Lord was speaking to me clear as day.... I see you, I hear you, you are to follow faithfully.
   Interestingly enough, I have still never seen that woman or little girl again at the park. We spend a lot of time at the park these days. Lilly and Fischer LOVE being outside and are both social bugs. (wonder where they get that;) I was so thankful for Gods message to me that day. It makes me feel confidence now as I read the journal entries back to write this that we are right where we are supposed to be. I hope to get all caught up to the current adoption status soon. There are soo many "God moments" to tell. Thanks for coming along this journey with us. If you are in the adoption process or are interested in adopting, please reach out. I would LOVE to chat.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Dreams of Mei Mei-Adoption Story continued Jan/Feb 2012

   January and February were filled with paperwork, paperwork, and more paperwork. I had no idea there was this much paperwork involved in adopting?! Don't they know that there are children just sitting in these orphanages waiting to be loved by a forever family when I am sitting here in NWA answering yet another information sheet on whether or not I have committed child abuse?! Don't you think if I had, I would not be desiring to add to the number of children in my home? BUT on the flip side I am thankful that there is a proven process to place these children in the best possible homes. Bottom line...if this is what is takes to bring home Baby Bennington #3 then so be it. We will do it! (This phrase has become the anthem to Scott and I during this journey. It has helped to keep us focused on God's plan for the expansion of our family:)
  The beginning phases of going through the exhaustive list of medical conditions children have in China and what we "will" and "will not" accept was a very dark time for Scott and I. This was a very emotional time of the adoption paperwork. I cried out to God many times for guidance and reassurance that His will be done and that I not look on this "medical issues" with human eyes and the thoughts of "Can I really handle that?" but confidence in "God can handle that if this is what our child has, help me see this child through your eyes Lord!" To be quite honest, I hated this paperwork phase. Try to wrap your mind around the fact that your child is out there, you feel them, you dream of them, short of carrying them in your womb you feel this undeniable connection to them and you don't even know them. All that is standing in the way of you and the family they are destined to be with is paperwork. More specifically a piece of paperwork that so humanly describes what China calls "imperfections" or "excusable reasons to abandon" and to you, the mom, if this child were born of my womb I would NEVER leave this child for any of these reasons! Yet you are forced to answer!
  After lots of praying and wisdom from our amazing case worker from Gladney. God had helped us navigate through the medical conditions list. We had checked "yes" to either sex of child and "preferranced" a child between the ages of 6-18 months at the time of referral (another word for "match" in the adoption lingo;). God reminded Scott and I that he is SO MUCH BIGGER than that simple piece of paper and that our humanness would not get in the way of his plan. How silly of us to fret that we (2 people of out billions) could ever possibly get in the way of God's plan! Another time of being humbled by self centered tendencies;)
   ONE SWEET NIGHT IN JANUARY I had a dream. Scott and I were at the park in our neighborhood in this dream. Our kids, Fischer and Lilly, were running around the playground with this adorable little Asian child with short hair. The sun was shining. We were all laughing and smiling. I woke up in such a good mood and an even deeper longing for this child.
  I noted this dream a few more times. (I must have liked it so much, I couldn't get it out of my subconscience;) What I really believe is that God was giving me little pictures of our future. I was asking for these signs and praying I would recognize them, was this really one of those times? (You will see in a later story that there is no doubting this was God. Sometimes I think we get these "clear pictures" or answers from God and we run from them for fear of disappointment if they don't come true. My dearest friend and excellent counselor friend, Sarah, helped me realize that it is ok to trust in God and place hope that these are the answers from God. Its ok to even experience disappointment with God, it's just allowing yourself to open up and experience that makes our relationship with God grow! Man, she is so smart!;)
   I noted in my journal on a night in February that I had this dream again and in this dream I called out to the child repeatedly "May, May!" I told Scott the next day about my dream. Later that same day, Scott called me from work and told me about an app on his Iphone he had been playing around with. It took English and translated it into Chinese and vice versa. He sounded kind of excited when he called so I was eager to hear what he was telling me. "Hey babe, remember how you said you were calling out to the child May, May as if it was their name? I was playing around on this app on my phone and I think I know what it means. Mei Mei means little sister in Chinese!" I fell silent. My eyes welled with tears. Scott could not have possibly known that I really wanted a little girl, but God knew. God knew and maybe he placed that desire in my heart because he knew that was what he had planned for us or maybe he knew that is what my heart desired and he wanted to give to his little girl...give both to me and to Mei Mei!
   A few weeks went by and my heart welled with excitement for our little girl. Scott had a couple reconfirming dreams of our little girl but nothing in specific detail. It was precious to me when he would tell me he had dreams of her. What an amazing dad my husband is! I am so blessed to be able to see this side of him.
   All of our children have family names included in them. Our daughter is Lilly Louise after her NaNa. Our son is Fischer Stephen after his Papa. At the end of February, I had the dream one final time and I called her, our little girl, MaeLynn. Lynn is my sisters middle name, as a little sister myself I couldn't imagine a better way to honor my so special older sister than to have her name be a part of our little Mei Mei's name! I was so thankful that God gave us that name for her in this dream. Scott and I both immediately fell in love with MaeLynn and our little girl. (We have now added Ann as her middle name to honor Scott's very special older sister and his mom, our kiddos LOVE their MeMa and Mei Mei will be honored to share a middle name with family too:)
  I can tell you today, I haven't had that playground dream of MaeLynn any more. But instead I am up late thinking and longing for our little Mei Mei. Crying and aching for little Mei Mei. Praying that God is with her tonight. That she will have confidence that her forever family is out there... thinking of her...waiting for her...doing everything in our power to bring her home. If you are reading this, please pray for MaeLynn right now and for us as we continue this journey to bring home MaeLynn Ann Bennington!!!!!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sleepless in December-adoption story continued

   In Novemeber (2011) our church, Mosaic Fellowship Bible Church, participated in Orphan Night. This was a call that originally started in Texas where a church decided they were going to challenge the congregation to take God's word literally and the verse James 1:27 "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." Our pastor gave a Spirit filled message that night about adoption and how near and dear it is to God's heart.
  I (Rachel) have been raised in an amazing christian home my entire life and not once had I ever heard a message on adoption. In fact, I had never even heard these verses about adoption that I could recall. Here are the verses below...

  Galatians 4:4-7
But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.[b] Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba,[c] Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. 

Ephesians 1:4-10
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he[b] predestined us for adoption to sonship[c] through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he[d] made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment —to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. 

Romans 8:15

New International Version (NIV)
15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.[a] And by him we cry, “Abba,[b] Father.” 

Romans 8:23

New International Version (NIV)
23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 

  WOW!!! NEWS FLASH...WE ARE ALL ADOPTED BY GOD?!?! Through Jesus Christs death on the cross, we are adopted by God as his children! I still get tears in my eyes as I am writing this because I know my baggage, my ugly sin, that I am so undeserving but through Gods grace I am saved. He chose me. He loves ME! Wow!! 
  This was all such a new way of looking at things but at this time, Scott and I walked away from this message at church and felt excited about our relationship with God, our relationship with each other and our kids. And excited that God would some day allow us to experience a small scale version of adoption in to a family (on a much smaller, sin filled worldly way;). 

   DECEMBER 2011-SLEEPLESS NIGHT #1- Scott and I had just found out that the sellers had accepted our offer on a house and we would be moving in less than two weeks before Christmas. Our rental house was already decorated for Christmas. Our tree was up and looking beautiful. Our stocking were all hanging by the fire. Our two sweet kids were 22months (Lilly) and 7months (Fischer). In all the chaos of packing the house and all of our belongings, the sleepless nights began. 
   I was laying in bed, tossing and turning. This is very unlike me because I LOVE to sleep and getting a goods night rest had never been a problem (except through my pregnancies). I finally got out of bed and decided to go to the couch. It was a Saturday night and I was checking email and wasting time. I decided I would read my bible and pray about our upcoming move. I opened up my bible and this verse was staring at me...
John 14:18
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
  Ok, Lord. Yes I am blessed and Yes I know you are coming back for me someday to take me to Heaven to be with you, but Lord I am tired and I would really like some rest! My selfish heart was stressed and at this point getting irritated. That night I kept thinking about adoption. I kept feeling that prompting to pray about adoption. Pray for people I know that are adopting or that had completed adoption. Pray for the orphans out there. Pray. The one thing I didn't find myself praying about was adoption for our family at this time.

SLEEPLESS NIGHT #2- I was able to sneak in a sunday afternoon nap with the family but I was still feeling cranky and tired from the previous sleepless night. Sunday night came and again I found myself tossing and turning. Was I pregnant? What was going on! I told Scott, what if God isn't going to let me sleep until I get it? He prayed for me and went to sleep and I was left wondering. As I poured out my heart before the Lord, I felt conviction of my selfishness (a usual situation) but also a conviction about adoption and praying for adoption for our family.
  I thought, ARE YOU CRAZY LORD?! I have two babies under age 2 and you want me to think about adoption? But very clearly I kept hearing the words of an older woman in our church whom I admire dearly telling me in a Bible study I took years ago, " If the Lord calls you something, he will equip you to it also." I didn't want to tell Scott about all this just yet because at this point I wasn't quite sure what God was asking me/us to do. 

SLEEPLESS NIGHT #3 - This was getting old. I was VERY cranky. I told Scott in the middle of the night about the adoption conviction. He smiled and said, well it makes sense I have been wondering what God was up to when all the rest of the pieces of our lives (our business, new home purchase, and solid christian support group) are fitting together. In other words, God was equiping us for something bigger and we didn't even realize it!
   That night I researched several adoption agencies and filled out the initial information form for Gladney Center for Adoption. Scott and I felt such a pull to the Waiting Child Program and the children labeled "imperfect" or "special needs". Hmmm "imperfect", sounds like this baby will fit in with us better than they know;) We are made perfect through Christ and we wanted this next child to know that God choose them for us. At just the right time. No mistake was made on the Creators part in making them, they were predestined to be a Bennington and a child of God;) After I filled out the information form, I slept like a baby!!! Praise God from whom all blessing flow!

(Thanks for reading our special story. We feel so blessed and humbled that God has chosen us to show his Glory to this little child. Yet another sleepless night of thinking about our child in China right now. Please pray for peace for us, for protection for our child, and for Gods provision for our family and our little one until they are home with us!)

Adoption-From the Begining

   Many have asked, "how did your adoption come about?" Several answers come to mind when asked this question. For me, Rachel, my desire for adoption came when my older sister came home from a summer Focus Missions trip from East Asia. She shared her experience with my family and me. I remember it like it was yesterday. We were sitting in our basement and she was going over a picture story board that she was about to share with our church on the following Sunday. As she told us the story of the China One Child Policy and the abundance of children being literally tossed out with the trash, my heart was broken. I was only a teenager, but I could not quit thinking about these babies. How could someone have such a disreguard for something so precious? To this day, I still get overwhelmed with feelings of anger, disbelief and stomache pain over this issue. I decided that day that when I was older, even if I couldn't change all of those babies situations, I would strive to change at least one through adoption.
   My mom might tell you my heart for China specifically began at a much earlier age. My grandmother traveled to New York City and brought my sister and I home a Chinese hand-made doll (the one pictured on my face book). I was obcessed with my China doll. My grandma also got me a pair of Chinese pajamas. My mom said I wore those everywhere! When I was 8 years old I even dressed up as my China doll for Halloween that year. ( I was in 2nd grade, Wow they would never let kids do that today!) Picture below.

(Little did I know that the Lord was preparing my heart for a love for these people and a heart for adopting from China.)
   Scott's heart for adoption also begins at an early age. One of his elementary school best friends was adopted from South Korea. Scott's dad was also adopted. He grew up thinking, this makes sense...there are plenty of children that needs families...one day I will choose a child to be apart of my family.
   Scott and I were on our second date in college when we had our first discussion about adoption. I remember sitting in his old blue ford ranger truck and talking at a park. We were both "dumping" all of our ideals and past garbage on each other trying to see if the other person was going to get scared off. Scott said very bluntly, I don't really care about having any biological children, I want to adopt. I can remember being dumb founded by this. Of all the things he said that night, his statement about adoption had the most impact on me. I had been praying that God would send me a mate that had the same passion for God and heart for adoption as I did. Not only did he answer my prayers, He gave me a tender hearted warrior who was solid in his faith, very handsome, and didn't care about carrying on his legacy through any biological children?! Only God could match two people like us;)
   So, that was that. We were married in 2004 and later that year we begin to pray that God would reveal to us when we were supposed to start the adoption process and who he had picked out for our Bennington Bunch:)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Praise the Lord! Baby Bennington #3 is on the way through ADOPTION!!!

What a big day! Yesterday we received our much anticipated home study in the mail. WE ARE APPROVED FOR ADOPTION!!! We will be adopting a special needs baby from China!!! Please stay tuned for more information about our story, how the Lord led us to this place in our lives, and how you can help!! We will be posting more of our story later and many of the fundraisers we will be doing for this adoption:) The Benningtons are glad you are on this journey with us!! Sooooo over joyed!!!!!