Saturday, February 25, 2017

Show Me State (Meet Our Son)

We both grew up in Missouri. For anyone outside of the "Show Me" state, you may have an easy time believing stuff without pictures or a hands-on experience. I'm not really sure why Missouri got the name "The Show Me State" but I like to think it started with someone trying to describe the Rocky Mountains to someone who has never left the Ozarks.

Guy 1: "Man, you won't believe the size of these rocks. They just shoot up out of the ground for miles!"
Guy 2: "Rocks? You mean like what we have down near Branson?"
Guy 1: "No, man these mountains are enormous compared to the hills we got around here!"
Guy 2: "We'll if they are so big, why can't I see them from here?"
Guy 1: "Well you have to go through about 9 hours of Kansas before you can see them!"
Guy 2: "Nothing is worth 9 hours of Kansas."
Guy 1: "Not much is, but these mountains, you just gotta see them."
Guy 2: "Guess you will have to show me someday." 

If you have been around Bre and I for the past year-plus, we may sound like that ole' Missourian. Our adoption process has been a lot like driving through 9 hours of Kansas. Many of you have been great. Reminding us of God's plan for us ("you will see the mountains") praying for strength for us ("once you get there, it will all be worth it") and encouraging us with love and even financially supporting us ("you got to see the mountains, let us buy the gas"). We have had enough of Kansas. 

Waiting has been a rough season for each of us, and has really effected us in our own ways. I'm the kind of person who wants to just drive faster. The faster we drive, the quicker we see mountains, right? While Bre, on the other hand, is maliciously studying the map to make sure we made all the right turns. Because, it doesn't matter how fast you go if it's in the wrong direction. All the while, we have known, we just have to keep headed west and at God's speed to eventually see the snow caps. Something you really can't grasp, until it's there. On the horizon, you see the first mountain. 

I'm here to tell you, with so much joy in my heart. These Missourians can see the first mountain. And it's close enough to say, we may not even be in Kansas anymore! 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

A Little Update

The last few months have been long, trying, and slow in the adoption realm, but we feel we are finally making some progress! Since March we have been finishing and updating our home study, working on the immigration process, and going through the steps of authentication. I started a new job (part-time in preparation for being home with LT more!) and I went on my first medical mission trip. Our adoption is now fully funded and all donations made from this point on will either go to medical/unexpected expenses when we bring LT home, or to our nest egg for our next adoption :). (another post coming in the future about how this happened...and for those of you that have helped make this are truly amazing. We have been blown away by you and the generosity of our friends and even by people that barely know us! And please accept my apology for not sending you a thank you card yet, that is my next endeavor!)

After the next couple of weeks, we will be sending all of the paperwork that we have been working on over the past 10 months to our agency, who will then review it and send it to China. 

Although frustrating, we have learned a lot over the last several months. We didn't really know what to expect when it came to a timeline, but I have to admit we (well probably actually mostly I) was hoping to be completing it within the year. I know this may have been overly optimistic, but it was as if having a timeline helped me to see that this is real. Like it is not just an idea. Or a dream. We have talked and prayed about having children from the moment we left the doctor's office back in 2008, when we were told it was "very unlikely, but not impossible" that we would have a biological child. I would say since this time I have learned to trust that God has a plan for us that is better than what I could have dreamed up alone. But, seriously, we have really been in the process of adoption for almost 3 years. We began pursuing international adoption about three years ago (I have shared this story in previous posts), and two years ago began pursuing adoption from China. Saving and waiting for me to turn the magic "30" so that we could start the process. And I know those 2-3 years are just a small dot on the timeline of eternity. But they have felt so long to me. And I just feel so ready to just meet our son! 

So, as is quite obvious, this year has not gone according to my plan. Although I say I have learned to 'trust that He has a greater plan', I think I really have just wanted His plan to be the same as my plan. I sometimes find it difficult to believe that He is for me in this; to believe that waiting and things not going as planned are really part of His plan. Why would He do that? If He can move mountains and speak life into existence, why do we have to be bound to all of the conditions and rules of this broken world. I don't always understand the balance is in His sovereignty and Him allowing us to continue to bear the weight of the effect of sin in our world, the brokenness that keeps things from being the way they should be. He could have made this year go like I had planned and we could have brought our son home this year.  

I wonder, do you ever feel like this? You believe He can, and He has, but He is not? And you start to think it is because He is not really FOR you. This life is hard and it is disappointing...often! But what I have learned this year is that the harder it gets, the more I need Him. And the more I lean into Him, the easier it is to get through times like this. I follow Sara Hagerty (who has also adopted and has openly shared the blessing and difficulties she has encountered in her journey) on Instagram @everybitterthingissweet...go follow her! She posts verses each day to meditate on and the theme of November is 'My Pursuer.' If you have grown up in church, you have probably heard Psalm 139 a hundred times, but don't let the impact of it fade on you. This verse was so refreshing for me this week. 

Someone commented on this post, "It is balm to my chapped soul! He's in control, he's my protector, he knows the plans, he's my pursuer, he's my caregiver, he doesn't leave me undone." I love that. He knows the plans. And he does NOT leave me undone. I am choosing to believe this as this year comes to an end. That His plan really is greater. That He knows who our son is and that He is FOR us and FOR OUR SON! That maybe I did have some things to learn along the way, and He is not going to let me just glide through this process without learning them. And even though it is long and difficult, His plan really is best, and He really is in control, and honestly...I don't really want to be in control of this huge thing.

I am still praying that we will find out who our son is by Christmas. I know it is out of my control, but I will keep on asking the one who is in control. And I invite you to join us! We will keep you updated as things continue to progress!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

"It Is What It Is"

I don't remember who it was, but I heard someone really smart once talk about waiting...

You know, that thing that no one likes to do. In line for your favorite ride... In your car while someone in front of you ignores a green light... drive through at Starbucks... checking out at the grocery store... you know... waiting.

Where was I? Oh, what the smart guy said. He actually asked a question. He inquired, "When you go to a restaurant, and someone waits on you, what are they doing?"

I thought back to the times I was in a nice eating establishment. You know the ones where you food doesn't come wrapped in paper, or in one of those red, plastic baskets. I thought of the times I have been in a real, nice restaurant and have been waited on.

The answer to the question is not anything like what I do at the stoplight or in line at McDonald's. No, the person "waiting" on me is not called a waiter or waitress because they are checking there watch wondering when it is their turn to sit and eat. Not at all.

The best service I have had at such restaurant, the waiter was attentive and helpful. Offering food and beverage suggestions, never letting there be an awkward ice to soda ratio in my cup (a pet peev of mine), and never assuming that we would just get his attention if we needed something. No, he wasn't waiting for us to do anything. He wasn't waiting, he was serving.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Cricket Chirpin

I recently learned one of those random facts that get stored away in my brain as useless information from a Snapple can. You may have heard it already, being the wise farmer that you are. You can determine the temperature by cricket chirps, just count the number of chirps you hear in 15 seconds then add 40 and voila, you know what temperature it is. You should try it sometime, it just may not be too effective today--it is the first day of Spring and we woke up with snow on our roofs this morning. As you can imagine, there aren't many crickets chirping outside. However, I know you have heard plenty of crickets from our blog over the last several months! So I thought I would give a little update on what has been going on in the Tyger household.....we have FINALLY started the process to bring LT (little Tyger) home!! Now, don't get too excited, this is a P-R-O-C-E-S-S. But starting is something so we are celebrating that! 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Distractions on #WorldAdoptionDay

I recently stumbled across an article on CNN. Accompanied with a video. It told the sad story of Jia Jia. A Chinese boy, who's "botched surgery" for spina bifidia left him with no use of his legs. He is just one of the estimated one million orphans in China. And he's not an orphan because his parents were murdered or displaced in a war, he is alone because his parents left him, at three months old, alone.

Jia Jia - a botched spina bifida surgery left him paralyzed from the waist down.
Today on my timeline there are a lot of things that people are upset about. Missouri University President Timothy Wolf has resigned as from his position amid racial controversies. People are taking sides and throwing insults. But our blog is about adoption not racism...or is it?

The Christian world is mad at Starbucks again. Not because they put "Happy Holidays" on their window paint or refused to serve those who support traditional marriage. No, tis the season to make up a reason to hate the coffee giant (besides their overpriced coffee). Starbucks rolled out their red cups, with a hint of snow flakes and the church found a new enemy. But this blog is about adoption not Christians overlooking real issues and watching YouTube videos...or is it?

I am a pretty easily distracted person. If you know me, you know this. It's hard for me to focus. So, when I got on Facebook/Twitter this morning, my mind was all over the place. It went from the final scores and articles of my football team losing last night, to the Missouri controversy, to the Starbucks stuff, back to a news release from Mizzou which led me to go back and read the timeline leading up to today, and the counter articles of those against Starbucks, then Mizzous president resigned, the Broncos still lost, and I have no idea if I should drink coffee, watch football or boycott all of those things... I'm distracted.

So distracted, that it took me hours to realize that today is #WorldAdoptionDay. It didn't show up on my news feed. It didn't show up in my email. I didn't think about it at all until a co-worker drew a smiley face on his hand and invited me to do the same so he could post an Instagram.

Northside Staff on World Adoption Day :)
I mean, we are adopting, so I should have probably known that today was #WorldAdoptionDay. But I was distracted. It wasn't the simple fact that I was distracted that surprised me the most (that's pretty common place in my life), it was that the thing that distracted me was revealing my priorities. And that was convicting.

As I said before, this blog is not about racism...or is it? One of the biggest distractions for me today was reading the stories of what was going on at Mizzou and wanting to tweet or post my opinion. That usually gets me into arguments I don't intend and makes a big mess. It's so easy to be misunderstood (or dare I say, even be dead wrong?). I don't claim to know anything about being a victim of racism, nor can I ever remember being mistreated for my ethnicity. But what I do know about racism is that it is one of the ugliest forms of discrimination on the planet. It's much bigger than black and white. It's much deeper than north and south. It includes, but is much broader than Ferguson and Baltimore. I do not write this to devalue the things happening in our country, but to wonder it possible to be outraged by more than one thing at a time?

I believe that having a single cell in your body that thinks it's better than another human being, even at a microscopic level, is one of the saddest views of our sinful nature. And this is seen in the issues that I read about at Mizzou today. And it is evident when I think about the orphans in China. Many orphans in China exist because they were seen as lower, disabled, incomplete  and altogether less than normal. They may have been precious in the eyes of their parents, but those parents were not given support to care for this special child. Not from their government. Not from their family. Not from their friends. But there is no president being asked to resign because of this sickening reality. No protest lines to stand in. No hunger strikes taking place about this. And I ask, is it simply because... we are distracted?

Starbucks makes one drink that I like. It has so much stuff in it (sugar, cream, syrup) that it really can't be called coffee. I have no stock in Starbucks, and if a boycott shut them all down, it would literally not effect my life. And when I say literally, I actually mean literally.

The Coffee Cup That Stole Christmas. 
When I saw the #MerryChristmasStarbucks protests I thought maybe their CEO had said something to stir us up again. But when I finally got to the bottom of it, without watching the YouTube video (seriously people, can we learn how to turn a phone sideways!), I realized what was really happening. Every year something like this happens. Walmart was attacked, McDonald's was attacked, etc. It's just Starbucks' turn to be the target of what I will call "the business who stole Christmas".

I really don't want this to turn into a hot topic blog post, because this blog is about our adoption, not our first world persecution coffee cups... or is it?

I was guilty. I have posted and re-posted articles for and against, muddying up timelines across the net. But now I'm convicted that instead of hitting send, retweet, or post, I should have been bowing my head. I should have been praying for that little orphan that I know God has waiting for us in China. I should be praying for families on #WorldAdoptionDay who are waiting for their babies to come home. I should get on my knees and pray for children like Jia Jia. I think of the "war on Christmas" that is supposedly waged and I think of our little one, who we pray we get to meet this next year. The Starbucks cup controversy has no meaning to them. Christmas (whether that has spiritual meaning to you or just a holiday family time meaning) has no frame in their mind. The love of a family, the hope of new life, the feeling of belonging, all of these are vastly more important than my $5 cup of sugar.

But there's no boycott for them, no YouTube video outrage, and no trending topic because we are distracted. If I keep focusing on what the world wants me to see, I will blind my eyes to the ones who need noticed the most. So use your voice for the causes you believe in. Boycott and protest if you think you must.  But when I stand up for what I believe, I want to make sure that waving my freedom flag isn't blocking the view of those who have no flag to wave. We already have enough distractions.

1 million in China alone. 150 million worldwide.

Today I make the choice. I'll get out of the way for the love of one. #FTLO1

Read and see Jia Jia's story on the CNN website.

Tweet and Retweet others #WorldAdoptionDay Tweets

Post and Share, Like and Comment on others #WorldAdoptionDay Facebook posts

Happy #WorldAdoptionDay

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Bring on the Black Balloons

OK. We will no longer put deadlines on blog posts for you. There is just no harnessing the creative writing potential in us. You will get a blog post when we write it. Period. :)

I want to share briefly about how we came to the decision to adopt from China. We have been pursuing international adoption from the start. Many have asked us why we are not pursing domestic adoption, and I don't have any better answer other than that my heart (and Allen's as well) cannot ignore the needs we have seen around the world and we feel this is a step we are called to take to meet just one of them (see my previous post for more on this). Also, if you have not read the new book by David Platt CounterCulture, you should check it out. Great read!

We began this journey with our hearts set on the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) and were sure that was the country we would be adopting from. All along we have prayed for clarity, for doors to close if we head in a direction that is not best. Through a series of events in the DRC, the government decided to suspend all international adoptions. It has been heartbreaking to follow along with some of the families we know that were in the middle of adopting from the DRC as the suspension was enacted. Please pray for these families! We felt this was a closed door for us for the DRC for now (but who knows what God has planned!).

So we felt a bit like we were starting from square one again. We began praying, talking to people, reading blogs, researching, and really fleshed out what kind of program we would pursue. After several months of this, we excitedly made our decision to adopt from the China Special Needs program. We are still choosing an agency, although there are a couple of agencies that we really like (feel free to send any personal recommendations!) and are waiting for me to get older! (I have to be 30 before we can submit paperwork...I am SO EXCITED to be 30!! People, there really are benefits to getting older. Bring on the black balloons...they won't phase me one bit.)

One of our good friends who has adopted from China told us about an incredible organization called Love Without Boundaries (LWB). It started in 2003 by some adoptive parents to help sponsor children with medical needs in the China program. I have followed their blog for a while and as I was deciding what to share in this post, I came across a recent newsletter from LWB that basically had everything I was wanting to share! It shares some information like that today 90% of orphaned children in China are adopted domestically (YAY!!! this is something to celebrate as this was NOT the case in the 90s) It also shares why there is such a huge need for international adoption from China to continue in regard to the special needs program. The need keeps growing and the number of people choosing this program is unfortunately drastically declining (see the first page of the newsletter where it shares that the annual number of adoptions has dropped from around 10,000 per year to a little over 3,000 annually in recent years). Pages four and five of the newsletter have FAQs, which we have considered and have personally been asked many times, such as why there is actually a greater need for the adoption of boys now, and why a special needs adoption program is still needed. I wholeheartedly support their answers. You also get to learn about a few adorable kiddos that have been adopted from the program in recent years (I love little Matt's story). So I will stop babbling...go check it out!! LWB International Adoption Newsletter

Here are a couple of other great resources to learn about what special needs adoption looks like. Just a word of caution before you prepared for your heart strings to be pulled and to be stretched in ways you never expected:)
No Hands But Ours
Adopt Special Needs
You can also learn more about all of the work that LWB is doing and subscribe to their blog at:
Love Without Boundaries

Check out these awesome website. There are tons of great resources and as we have said from the very beginning... If our journey moves you, good. If our journey inspires you, even better. But above all, we want you to know, we are not doing this because we are extraordinary, but because we serve One who is. We are just waiting and praying for Him to tell us what to do...and waiting for me to grow up. Bring on the black balloons!

Thanks for following us in this journey. We so appreciate your support and prayers!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Love That Requires a Response

I was not the kind of girl that grew up dreaming to be a wife and mommy. I had not thought about how many kids I would have or what their names would be. I still don't know the answers to those questions! 

I'm not sure when God planted the seed in my heart for adoption. I started to feel it in the little glimpses both of poverty that my eyes have been opened to and of beautiful families I have had the privilege of knowing that came about through adoption. I had the opportunity in college to take a few service trips to Mexico, Guatemala, and Southeast Asia. These were my first glimpses into the reality of poverty that exists in many countries outside of the United States, many third world countries. I learned what poverty smelled like, what it felt like, what it tasted like in these places where there was little to no hope of ever getting out of poverty. 

I also took a course called Perspectives in college, where I learned that there are people all around the world that have never even heard the name of Jesus. Then I learned about the orphan crisis, that there are 153 million orphans worldwide. These are things I just couldn't shake from my heart or my mind and I knew that I couldn't be satisfied just living the American dream.

So when our suspicions that we would not be able to have biological children {unless by divine intervention!} were confirmed, we both knew we would be pursuing international adoption. 

Trust me when I say that even though I know this was where the Lord is leading us, I have wrestled with it! The thought  'Are we crazy?!' comes to mind probably on a weekly basis. 
Do we realize it may be difficult! Children coming from orphanages in other countries may have special needs that we can't possibly fully anticipate! 
Why not snowflake adoption? I won't be able to be pregnant and experience all of the stages of being a mother! 
It is expensive, can cost anywhere from $25,000 to $40,000. We don't have that kind of money sitting around! 

We have spent the last couple of years wrestling with these and many more questions. However, the more we have read the Word, the more we have understood our Father's heart for adoption. For defending the defenseless. I have moments when my heart breaks a little to think that I don't get to share stories about pregnancy cravings and little feet kicking inside of me or tiny ultrasound pictures of the little one just forming in my belly. And it is scary to think that we really won't know the needs of our child for sure until we live day in and day out with them. I have been completely overwhelmed at times by the thought of raising $30,000+. As I have brought these struggles to the Lord, He has reminded me of His love. 

Because of the love of the Father, I have been adopted into the family of God.  
In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,  to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.  In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,  which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (Ephesians 1:5-10) 
This past weekend (Easter Sunday), we celebrated our adoption as sons and daughters through Jesus' death and resurrection. I know that I am able to love because of the love of the Father as displayed by the sacrifice of Jesus. This kind of love requires a response. 

I have seen over and over in his Word that He is FOR these children. And He has asked us to care for them.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:27)
For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe.  He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. (Deuteronomy 10:17-18)
And he keeps reminding me that it is not about what I want or my expectations. He has  a greater plan if I will just trust Him in it. We haven't even technically begun the process, but through His grace, we have half of the money we will need for the adoption! He already has shown us over and over that we are not alone in this.  My fears simply amount to nothing when I compare them to his faithfulness to us. 

There is really nothing special about us. Yes, we have a pretty great story (or so I like to think:) ) but ultimately we are just normal people that are starting to understand the love of One. And because of this love, we will go through this crazy adventure all for the love of one of the 153 million.

As followers of Christ, his love for us and his attention to those in need should motivated us to do something. Does your response also have to be to pursue adoption? No. But it could! I pray that our story will challenge some of you and stir your hearts for the orphans, those in poverty, and those defenseless around the world. 

If you want to know why we chose China? Check back next week!