Thursday, February 28, 2008

Let the Little Children Come to Me...

I think it's safe to say that the last couple of weeks have been some of the most emotionally exhuasting we have ever seen. We have spent that time trying to do right by Brighton - trying to give him the dignity and respect his short but gigantic life so much deserves while at the same time trying not to worry about our daughter who is currently still in Ethiopia (at the same orphanage Brighton was at). We know God has her. But we still worry. We can't help it.

All of our efforts to make sure Brighton was treated in the manner we thought proper for him seem to have paid off. We received an email yesterday with some amazing photos - pictures of the grave marker that a local craftsman in Ethiopia had made for Brighton.

It is incredible. And man - it is BIG. Seems really fitting for him - his life had a big impact - his marker surely reflects that.

There is a picture of Brighton at the top with these words underneath:

Dedicated in Memory
Brighton Asher Hoffman
October 25, 2007 - January 8, 2008

"...let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them,
for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these..."

Mark 10:14

Further down on the marker is a flat plate with the following inscribed on it:

Brighton Asher Hoffman
son of Tymm & Laura Hoffman

It is simply beautiful. And right. And perfect. It helped to heal a tiny little piece of our hearts that still ache for him and what could've been.

We can't wait to visit it in person, in the country our son was born in - with his little sister in our arms.

Wow - what a journey the completion of our family has turned in to.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Not Just a Friday

It's 11:32 PM right now and in 28 more minutes it will be Friday. But this isn't just any Friday. This is a pretty special day. At least for us it is.

When we got Brighton's referral we knew we had to wait the required 90 days before he would be free and clear for adoption. That 90 days put him clear on February 22, 2008.

We keep our family calendar on the fridge so we always know what's going on - and we had marked that date with some excitement. February 22, 2008. It said "Brighton is free for Adoption!!!"

It's hard not to look at that calendar on the refrigerator door and think about the flurry of activity that would have been taking place on that date. The excitement. The anxiety. Court date applications. Mental travel preparations. Relief for having made it there. It's hard not to feel a little bit sad for what might have been.

But ya know - Brighton is so much more free right now than February 22, 2008 could have ever made him. And he is currently reaping the benefits of a much bigger adoption than we could have hoped to provide for him. There is a lot of comfort in knowing that he is home.

Brighton might not have made it to February 22, 2008 - but his legacy will live on much longer than that.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Opening Our Hearts Back Up

Ever since Brighton passed away - and even though we have pushed forward to continue our adoption from Ethiopia - we have done so with a little bit of a guarded heart.

We haven't been quite as quick to look at little girl's clothes or allow ourselves to feel that overwhelming excitement. I am sure it's just a built in defense mechanism - or maybe not - but whatever the case, it's there and we hadn't fully embraced this with the reckless abandonment we had for Brighton.

Until today.

See Cupid showed up today at our house with some of those cute little girls clothes shown above - and I think we may have crossed a bridge of some sort.

Our daughter deserves as much love as her brother Brighton got from us and we are going to give it to her. She deserves every bit of excitement and joy from us - every bit of clothing that mom buys and every single stuffed animal that dad can find.

Yeah - we're gonna open our hearts back up. I don't think we really know any other way to do this...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

2,100 times...

From day one, when we started this crazy, exciting, tumultuous, unpredictable journey called "Adoption" I repeatedly said I wasn't going to become some raging activist for something and be annoying to everyone around me. I didn't want to be that guy.

Well - guess what? I am now that guy. Bear with me a second before you try to kick that soapbox out from underneath me. I won't be on it long - I promise.

When we prayed about what to do with our wait for China - God turned our eyes towards Africa. But He didn't just turn our eyes that direction so we could say "Oh wow - look - we can have a child in our arms much faster!" No, instead - along with our eyes - He also turned our hearts and we have not been the same since.

I recently picked up a book called "On the Move" - it's part of the whole (JOIN RED) campaign and it is basically a transcript of the speech Bono gave at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. in 2006. He illustrated it with photos from his 1986 trip to Ethiopia so it had a couple of draws for me. I found the whole book intriguing, eye-opening, shocking and compelling - but there are two things I wanted to share from it (and then I'll hop off this box).

Poverty is mentioned more than 2,100 times in the Scripture. 2,100 mentions! That's a lot of references and it is not by accident. The one this book quotes is this:

"As you have done it unto the least of these brethren, you have done it unto me" - Matthew 25:40
According to this book it's the only time Christ is judgmental - and it's on the subject of the poor. It got me curious so I went back and read the 9 verses leading up to the one above.

In a nutshell - Jesus is explaining the final judgment and how God will be separating out His obedient followers from pretenders and unbelievers - with the real evidence of our faith being the way we act. Now I know deeds aren't part of the deal to get to Heaven but if you aren't bearing fruit for God's kingdom it's probably a safe bet that you probably won't be treated the same as those who are.

So here's Jesus, talking in the confusing way he can, explaining how he will invite the followers to take their place in his Father's kingdom saying "I was hungry, you fed me; I was thirsty you gave me drink..."

And so the righteous are all like "Wait a second Lord - when did we see you hungry and feed you? When were you thirsty...?" And then it leads into the verse above - basically saying that we need to treat everybody like they are Jesus - no easy task, right?

I like the footnote from the Life Application Bible. It says we have no excuse to neglect those who have deep needs and we cannot hand over this responsibility to the church or government. Jesus demands our personal involvement in caring for others' needs.

Whew. Soapbox work is tough - I am getting winded. Bear with me - I am almost done. There is one more quote from this little book I bought that is tough to hear and even tougher to try and process in your own mind about your own self. So I am going to leave you with that one. Here it is:
"6,500 Africans are still dying every day of a preventable, treatable disease, for lack of drugs we can buy at any drugstore. This is not about charity; this is about justice and equality.

Because there's no way we can look at what's happening in Africa and, if we're honest, conclude that deep down, we really accept that Africans are equal to us."
Tough to swallow isn't it? It was for me. And even though God has already turned my eyes and my heart towards that land in desperate need of help - this did a lot to turn my mind there as well.

So I wrap up my soapbox stand by saying - we can do something. We have to do something. Buy something (RED). Support the ONE campaign. Click on one of those links to the right or find a better one and tell me about it so I can link it up. But whatever the case - do something. Start small and see where it takes you.

To quote David Crowder - We can be the remedy and surely we can change something.

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Rewards of Waiting...

I have had the following excerpt sitting on my desk for - gosh - I dunno how long. A long time. I have been meaning to post it over and over and over - and for some reason I just never have.

I am not 100% sure where it even came from - probably from an adoption meeting or get-together or handout or something - because the content is all too relevant. Regardless of where it came from or how long I have sat and stared at it - I am now going to post it. Mostly because I need to read it.

We've all been forced to wait in doctors' offices, traffic jams, and checkout lines. During those times, we have nothing to do but try to be patient.

In God's Kingdom, waiting is defined as an "active stillness." We should be active because we are continuing in our present situation. And, we need to be still because we are focusing our attention on Him for guidance. Practicing a lifestyle of active stillness requires a purposeful and expectant attitude, a patient and determined frame of mind, and a prayerful and obedient heart.

There are rewards for waiting on the Lord. We receive the supernatural energy and strength we need for godly living. At times, when responsibilities overwhelm us, we might be tempted to get out of step with God. Even though we know He's calling us to keep a steady pace, we may fall behind. At other times, our schedules leave us little time to think. So, we make quick decisions, pushing ahead of Him. In either case, we risk becoming tired and emotionally spent because we are operating in our own strength.

Patiently waiting on God brings us the physical energy and emotional reserves we need to keep going. Being patient also enables us to discover His will, which is always for our good (Romans 8:28). We also gain spiritual victory over our trials and disappointments.

Our all-knowing and all-powerful God is always on time. But we often leave too early or arrive too late. Pick a situation in which you're tempted to overrule God's perfect timing. Then submit to Him, realizing the issue is a matter of trust.

Hits pretty darn close to home for those of us smack dab in the middle of an international adoption. Or two. I need to read this again and again and remember that a good chunk of the reward is found within the journey.

And I don't want to miss out on any of it.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Are you there China? It's us...

With the China "wait to referral" time slowly growing it is all too easy to place that whole process far away in the back part of your mind. In the safe part. The part where our feelings can't get hurt by thinking too much about it.

When we were in Colorado recently, adoption was in the front of our mind. We had recently lost Brighton and it just seemed like the whole process of international adoption had been weighing heavily on our hearts and souls. So while Laura was in class one day I decided to Google-Map how far away the CCAI HQ was from our hotel. Come to find out they were about 3.7 miles from our hotel. I figured what the heck - we had talked to CO a few times as we prepared to pursue our concurrent adoption so I thought it'd be neat to go see them, introduce myself and check out the headquarters.

Man - I am glad I did.

I drove over there by myself and found they have a realy nice office space in a really nice business park that has the Rocky Mountains as a backdrop. After introducing myself and accepting their offer of a tour I was introduced to Sheri. She works in the travel department and she had drawn the short stick and got to give me the tour. But you know where I stand on coincidences - and this was surely not one. Come to find out her husband is from Africa - she has lived in Africa before and she was SOOO excited about our concurrent adoption. It was too cool.

On top of that - she gave me a wonderful tour. I kept thinking "Man, Laura is gonna be jealous I got to do this." Sheri walked me through all of the steps of the process and introduced me to everyone. I didn't get to meet Josh and Lily but I think I met everybody else in the building. And the pictures - man I can't explain it. There is something about all those pictures of all the children they have helped bring home to their families - they are hanging everywhere. It is just neat to see. The whole trip reminded me of why we are doing this and gave me a much needed boost of excitement for our child in China. it also gave me an "in your face" kind of reminder that the ball is still rolling with China. It is easy to think just because we are waiting so long that things aren't happening - but they really are. Kids are coming home still. And that is a great thing.

So the next day, Laura got out of class early. She had to see this place and hopefully meet Sheri. So we headed back over there to the CCAI offices and put in a request for Sheri so we could get a tour for Laura. We interrupted her lunch and everything but she was so glad to stop and take us on the same tour again for Laura. And this time we did get to meet Josh and Lily.

So here's a big thanks to the entire staff at the Colorado office - for being so kind and welcoming to us as we marched through their halls and offices interrupting their workday - not once but twice!

We are so glad we got the chance to visit them and to meet Sheri and Josh and Lily. Sheri's excitement for our concurrent adoption made us even more excited as well. We left her with a little snapshot of a cerain little someone and we have since heard from her saying she has the picture on her desk and has been saying little prayers for us.

If you find yourself in Colorado and are using CCAI as your agency definitely make time to visit them at their main offices.

God placed us where we needed to be at that time and and brought who we needed to be with into our path. It was a great visit and a wonderful way for Him to let us know that Yes, China is still there.