Tuesday, June 10, 2014

TRAVEL DATES!! In HIS time!

Ecclesiastes 3:11 " He has made everything beautiful in its time. "


So, the travel dates came!!  We will be leaving here on July 5th and have Nate forever in our arms on July 7th!!  Return home is July 12th!!  It feels surreal to finally be at this part of this process.  Remember, we started this process in November of 2012.  Committed to Nate in February of 2013, and here we are almost in July 2014 bringing him home!!!  Longest.  Pregnancy.  Ever!  ;)  But, at least I don't have the stretch marks on this one!  But, I have been stretched in other ways for sure!!  I can confidently say that Clay and I have grown more in the past 19 months then in our whole lives up to this point.  There have been lots of tears shed (him and me!) and lots of growth.  Growth in our marriage.  Growth in our relationships with God.  Growth in our trust for God.  Growth in our love for one another.  Growth in our love for Jack and Chandler.  Growth in our love for Nate.  The ability to just let go and let God take over - to trust that HIS plans are better than ours.  To see HIS provision.  I am sure you remember a post way back when I talked about my fear of money issues.  Um.  Guys!  This whole process has taught me so much, but to see God's provision for funding the over $30k to get Nate home!  It is crazy!!!  I love seeing GOD so up close and personal.  Why did I waste so many years of my life not having this intimate relationship with HIM?  I know without a doubt, that we need GOD more now than ever.  We are about to face some BIG huge storms ahead.  We continue to covet your prayers in our lives.  Over the next month for sure, but then on into the next year.  I hear it takes about a year to adjust to a new family member.  Please continue to pray as we transition into our new family of 5!! 

So, flights are booked!!  Hotel is booked!!!  The difference this time is we are not going to be flying out of San Antonio.  The return flight is such a hassle - once you touch down on US soil, you have to get all your luggage and go through customs.  Then, you have to check in all your luggage again, go through security again, and then wait on your flight.  NO THANK YOU!  So, we are departing and returning to Houston.  We will then make the 3 hour drive home with Nate and most likely be home before we would if we had flown.  Sounds like a better plan now.  But we will see!  ;)  So, all that to say - we will not be having a big airport gathering to welcome Nate home.  Plans are in the works by two of our amazing friends to have a little gathering Sunday the 13th at our house.  I know.  Are we  crazy?  But, we know you guys want to meet him!! And, after this initial meeting, we will then go into our "hermit" or "cocooning" stage.  We plan to take at least a month and pretty much just bond with Nate.  Just us.  Clay has 2 weeks off of work! (yay!!), so I will return to work immediately (remember I only work 2 days a week), and then luckily, my boss is on vacation for a bit right after that so I am off work for 2 weeks!  We plan to be the only caregivers for Nate during this time.  Then, after some time, we would love to have visitors and get back into our groove!  But, just give us some grace during this time.  We may be slow to return texts/emails/calls.  We may not be very involved in any extracurricular activities!  ;)   We will be doing doctors visits and just bonding with our little guy.  We don't need a care calendar or any help (if we do we will let you know) - but if you know me, you know what a picky eater I am - I won't eat your food!  Haha!!  So, all we are asking for during the initial time home, is prayer.  Thank you so much for your continued prayer for us.  We are so thankful for you, our support system! 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Wait

Wow.  Has it really been over 4 months since we made a blog post?  That is crazy.  Sorry if you aren't one of our Facebook followers and this is your only way to follow us.  The latest news....drumroll please.....on May 27th, Clay and I became the proud parents of Nathaniel Luke Richey.  It's official yall!!!!  He is ours!!  So, why aren't we traveling to get him??   I wonder that too.  ;)  Actually, we know the answer to that.  So, after court, there is a 10 day mandatory wait, followed by another 2 weeks before we are issued travel dates.  So, we are currently just waiting for those dates.  Due to the 4th of July holiday, we know it will be at least the 2nd week of July before we can travel to pick him up.  We know that God has perfect timing for his arrival in our family.  We know that God is watching over him every day that we are not with him.  We know that God is providing loving caregivers and that he is being taken care of as best possible for his situation. We know that. Does it make it easier?  Yes.  But is it easy to wait when you have held him, hugged him, kissed him, smelled him, watched him fall asleep in your arms, tickled him, made him giggle, and watched him look into your eyes like your other children?  No.  It hurts yall.  Like deep gut wrenching, heart pounding ache.  The desire to hold him close is almost unbearable.  Not a day goes by that tears are not shed thinking of him.  But, you know what?  A friend told me something that really made me think.  The way that we are aching for Nate...that is how God aches to be with us.  Really?  Yes.  Really.   He craves time with us. He wants to hang out with us.  He loves us more than we can imagine.   Just wanted you to know that.  To think about that.  YOU are loved.  YOU are deeply wanted.  YOU are valuable.  You know, just in case you wondered. 

Sooooo, we will keep you posted when we get our travel dates.  How can you be praying for us?
Quick travel dates, preparation of our hearts for Nate, preparation of Jack and Chandler for Nate (and the rest of the extended family), Nate ---his growth and development, good health and no illness for near future, continued loving care, his heart to be opened to us, to feel safe with us when we get him again, for God's peace and love to surround him.  For continued comfort, peace, and patience as we wait.  For good health and no illness in our family leading up to and during the trip.  For rest.  And for time to pass quickly in the wait.  I could go on and on...those just quickly come to mind.  Thank you for your prayers, encouragement and support over the past 20 months!!  Keep it coming.  Next time you hear from us, we will be telling you our travel dates for gotcha trip!!!!  Yay!!!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

No really, how are you?

It's been 2 weeks since we got back from Eastern Europe and meeting Nate.  Every day, for 2 weeks, I have carved out a part of my day to sit and reflect on our sweet Nate.  I watch the videos over and over.  Look at his sweet face.  Listen to his laugh.  And find joy in a child that is ours, but yet, that I barely know.  Since our return, we have had so much encouragement.  And the question I have heard several times over the past few days is, "how are you?  No.  Really.  How are you handling being away from him?"   I am not going to say it has been easy.  But, I will answer in complete honesty.  I told you all when we left him at the orphanage, I was filled with peace.  That was soon replaced by anger.  I questioned why we had to leave him.  What was the purpose.  Why in the world does it take so long.  But, no matter how much I wanted to be upset or mad, or angry, I just couldn't for long. For the first time in my life, I am completely at peace.  In everything.  I have absolutely no doubt that GOD is in control here.  I have no doubt that HE is protecting and watching over our sweet Nate.  I have no doubt that HIS timing is perfect.  I have no doubt that Nate is being cared for as best possible now.  I just have no doubt.  I have peace.  Peace that "He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end."  Ecclesiastes 3:11.  I want you to know that we appreciate your prayers more than anything.  For it is your prayers that have gotten us where we are.  I do not think for a moment that the old Jenny would not have been a basketcase at this point.  But, I am filled up with the Spirit, which gives me hope, joy, and peace during our situation.  So, while we are beyond ready, we will REST knowing that God's timing is perfect.  I was telling a friend today that my fear is gone.  I have no fear in bringing Nate home.  I have struggled with this on and off during this whole process.  Yet, again, peace of trusting in God through the unknown has taken over and pushed aside all fears.  Yes, we know there will be struggles in raising a child like Nate.  A child that has spent almost 3 years in an orphanage.  A child with Down Syndrome.  A child that has not had a mommy and daddy to love him and snuggle him.  But, we have peace in knowing that God will give us the strength to parent a child like Nate. 

As far as the process, all of our documents should head to his country at the end of this week.  At that point, we just have to wait on our FBI background check to come back and send over.  Then, the waiting game begins.  Please join us in praying for speediness during that process.  Our home study will expire on May 21st.  We really need to have him home before then to avoid more payments for an update, not to mention the headache involved in having to do that again. 

We would love for you to continue praying for us.  And of course for Nate.  I pray daily for his caregivers.  That they would continue to find favor in him.  That he would feel loved and know that he is loved and valuable.  For Jack and Chandler as they prepare to have another sibling.  For Clay and I as we prepare our home and our hearts for another child.  And, for continued peace. 
 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Meeting HIM!

Sorry for the long delay between posts.  Alot has been going on, namely, our trip in early January to meet Nate!  We had hoped to chronicle our adventure of going to meet Nate on the blog in sort of a daily rundown of events and experiences, but strangely enough, our blog was a blocked website where we were staying during our visit, so we weren't able to make any posts.

Nevertheless, meeting Nate was amazing.  We couldn't have imagined a better first visit and a better response from our boy.  Jenny and I had prepared ourselves for the worst imagining that he might reject us and push away crying to go back to his caretakers, but it was better than we had dared to hope.  He instantly reached out to us and let us hold him and was in a great mood!  We were kind of shocked, I think, at how natural it all seemed.  It was through this first meeting that we really saw the Lord's hand through EVERYTHING on this journey.  It was like Nate was ours all along and we just had to follow God's path to go find him.  His hair is like mine, his personality is like our other kids, and his appetite...well, he's definitely a Richey!

We were able to spend a good portion of the next four days with Nate, getting to know him, play with him, feed him, and even rock him to sleep (my favorite gift of the entire visit!).  Through it all, we found the Lord giving us reassurance and peace that will fuel us through this next step in the process.  Nate's development, although delayed showed several good signs of progress.  He's eating mashed foods from a spoon now and has gained 3 pounds since his last health report.  He's a very well-behaved eater, sitting in a plain chair without a booster or restraint and placing his hands flat on the table to wait for us to spoon him his bites.  The perfect little gentleman, although he will definitely let you know if you are a little slow in times between bites.  We were also able to see the progress he's making in crawling and pulling to a stand.  He's doing alot of verbalizing and we loved hearing all the sounds he made, but no actual communication yet.

Perhaps most comforting though, was the provision we saw in where God has placed Nate and the caregivers that are watching over him while we are away.  The facility he is in is in good condition and, in fact, our translator told us it is the best orphanage in the entire country!  She would be a good judge, because her work takes her to most of the orphanages in the region.  Beyond this though, the women caring for Nate were amazing.  There was a real affection between them and Nate and we felt such peace knowing that he would be in good hands while he awaits our final visit to bring him home.  They were always walking through the area that we had for our visits with Nate and as they would pass by, they would blow him kisses and talk to him gently in their language.  He always lit up a bit when certain favorites would come by and he'd hear their voices.  All these things, left us amazed and grateful for God's kindness and mercy.


So what's next?  Well, there's definitely light at the end of the tunnel for us and Nate.  We're meeting with our agency here tomorrow to get started on some final paperwork.  There's really not that much left.  Updating our medical records and FBI background checks.  Then submitting some additional immigration forms and that's pretty much it.  Why does that take 4-6 months?  We're not sure either, but I think most of the lag time occurs in Nate's country's courts at this point.  We're waiting on the Lord and based on our recent experience are more confident than ever before that He has appointed just the right time for us to bring Nate home!

We can't thank everyone who's been involved in supporting, encouraging, and praying for us enough.  We certainly felt the power of your prayers as we were traveling and continue to appreciate everyone who has supported us on our journey.  We'll keep updating the blog here regarding any news or progress that we make.

Thank You!

Clay and Jenny.      

Monday, December 9, 2013

TRAVEL DATES!!

So I am sure most of you have heard, but if not, we will be flying to Eastern Europe on January 4th-11th to meet Nate!!  Months of paperwork, FBI background checks, fundraising......and we made it this far!  Now, if you will remember, this it only trip #1.  We will return in 4-6 months to bring him home for reals.  This trip, we will meet him and spend roughly 4 hours a day with him.  We recently got an updated report on him.  Sadly, not much has changed since his last report 1 year ago.  He still weighs only 17lbs.  Yes, 2 1/2 years old and weighs 17lbs.  So, basically he is the size of a 12 month old.  He functions at a 12 month old level as well (still crawling, still drinking out of a bottle).  But, we all know that will change drastically once we get him home!  Praise God!  You know, it dawned on me the other day when we got this report, that God knows me pretty well.  I know.  Not really a shocker.  But really.  I am not one of those moms that is really a "natural".  Being a mom doesn't come easy for me.  I do not just love all children.  (I know...terrible).  But, I do love *almost* all 12 month olds.  That age is my absolute favorite.  Well 12-18months.  So, it really is no surprise to me, that Nate is exactly at the size and stage he is supposed to be.  I have an idea that I will most likely fall in love with him pretty quick....as I do with most infants that age.  Yep.  God has HIS hand in this.  And, I am loving seeing HIS plan all unfold.  This has been the wildest, craziest ride of our lives, and it's only beginning.  But to be able to see how GOD perfectly maps this whole process out...WOW!  Just wow.  I could complain that it's taking too long, or that he is not where I want him to be developmentally.  But why?  God has this all planned out perfectly.  So, we will just sit back and enjoy this ride. 

In the next few weeks, you can be praying for us.  Pray for us as we prepare to travel.  Pray for Jack and Chandler as we leave them.  Pray for Nate.  Pray for the Lord to prepare our hearts for him as well as his for us.   Pray for safety in travel. And for peace while we are in a country with government problems (lots of protests going on which can be scary!).  Pray for patience.  And of course pray for Clay and I in our marriage....I am sure things like this can be stressful on the marriage.  Thank you for your support, prayers, and encouragement. 

We hope to be able to update often while we are gone and show you pictures of Nate.  Some orphanages do not allow photographs to be taken.  So you can pray for that as well.  ;) 

Friday, November 1, 2013

One Year

One Year.  Yep.  One year ago this weekend, Clay and I decided to answer God's call to adopt.  Obviously, the topic of adoption was something that God started stirring in each one of our hearts at a young age.  And, for me, I have had a draw to Down Syndrome individuals for as long as I can remember.  But, the sequence of events that occurred the first weekend of November 2012, brought all those pieces together.  It was Saturday night, and I was reading my friend's (who at that time I had never met in person) blog.  Misty was advocating for a sweet little DS boy who lived in Russia.  He was on the Reece's Rainbow website and she was his "Angel Tree Warrior" - something RR does every Nov/Dec to advocate for their orphans.  I read her blog.  I cried.  I worked up the courage to show it to Clay.  He liked it, but didn't really say much.  We went to bed.  The next morning, unbeknownst to us, was Orphan Sunday at church.  We sat down, they showed us a video, and I lost it.  I knew, Clay knew....as I have told you before, it was then that we knew it was time to answer God's call for our lives.  To push aside our fears and step out in faith.  Something that we had never done before.  So, here we are, one year later.  If you have followed this blog, you have followed us on this journey so far.  We first saw Nate's 5 month old baby picture on February 14th and officially committed to him (aka paid our first huge amount of money - so scary at the time!) 1 month later in March.  Fast forward to this week, one year after we answered God's call: we got the best news we have heard since this process started.  Our dossier was approved!!  We received our verbal referral!  We are waiting on the legal issues now of a written referral (should be about 3 weeks) and with that will come our travel dates.  Yes.  You read that right!! TRAVEL DATES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   We should be meeting him late November/early December.  That is this month, y'all!!!  

My mind is spinning when I think about meeting him for the first time.  I guess it's like when I was pregnant with Jack and Chandler.  I would day dream about what they would look like, how we would bond, their little personalities.  And, then, fear would set in.  So.  Pretty much the same here.  I daydream often about Nate.  What does he look like now?  Will he look like the pictures we have?  Will he come to us immediately?  Will he look us in the eye?  Will he be able to walk?  Or eat regular food?  SO many questions.  And, I will be able to answer them before the end of this year!  But, then fear sets in.  This is for real!  We will have 3 children soon.  One of them with special needs!  Can we handle this?  And, I am quickly reminded of some advice that a man gave me at the very first information meeting I went to about adoption last November....."Fear is NOT from the LORD."  And then all these other sayings come to mind: "God does not call the equipped, HE equips the called."  HE EQUIPS THE CALLED.  Yes.  HE will be the only way we get through this.  He will supply us the patience, energy, love, grace, joy, understanding, forgiveness....that we need to be parents to Nate.  We can do this.  And we will.  Because, if we do not, our sweet little Nathaniel Luke will become another statistic.  Another child that dies in a mental institution.  Sorry for my bluntness, but that is a fact guys.  He will die if we do not go get him.  So, when I am being selfish and all about ME, I am reminded that God asks us to die to ourselves so that we can LIVE FOR HIM.  There are like 50 verses in the Bible talking about this.  For real.  Google it.  "Dying to Self in the Bible"......just do it...google that little phrase and see what pops up.  And then my eyes are opened.  Fear disappears.  And, I know that we can do this.  :) 


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Run the Good Race!

Well, as much as I procrastinated, the Chosen race still arrived and last Saturday we joined over 1100 other participants in running for the cause of orphans around the world.  While it was a pretty grueling event in alot of ways, (5am wake-up call, aching calves and feet, etc...) we were so encouraged by the support of everyone on our team and others that we didn't even know.  We had over 30 runners join Team DomiNATE!  That far exceeded our expectations, which is one of the lessons God is showing us through this experience...He will provide beyond your expectations if you trust in Him and place no bounds or limits in your faith of what He can do!  Here's a video recap of the event: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDP8ejTdTws&feature=youtu.be

Jenny finished the half-marathon in 2hrs and 35min (Jenny's time redacted at her request.) even though she was going slow to avoid injury.  I on the other hand was quite a bit slower and still felt like I was injured!  I finished in 2hrs and 59min.  It was really awesome to see families with adopted kids standing along the race route cheering us on and thinking we could be doing that with Nate in a year.  (I was excited just thinking of cheering next year instead of running!)
Jenny and I had both hoped we would hear about our travel to see Nate earlier in the week and then be able to go into the race last weekend with that news and excitement, but God had other plans.  We're still waiting to hear from his government regarding our application and travel dates, but I think God is showing us something in this.  He's preparing Nate and us for the time when He knows we will be ready to join our hearts as a family in the way He intends.  Keep praying for us through this preparation process and for Nate as God prepares him as well.  Pray for Jack and Chandler too.  They have been amazing all along, but we know they have questions and concerns too.

Lately, a thought has been constant during my prayer time and I think it applies in alot of situations in life, but in particular, it is something I need reminding of as we wait in this process.  It's this simple thought:  "It's not always God's will that I understand...just that I trust and obey."  I've been searching and praying for understanding when I need to be praying for trust instead.

Thanks to everyone for the supporting us in the race last week and we're looking forward to sharing any news about our progress with you as it comes.

Love,

Clay and Jenny