India Adoption: The Journey Begins

Lauren Waller
Lauren Waller Hobe Sound, Florida

Amid the trash heaps, the rubble, the slums, the heat, and the death-defying traffic we made our way to Purani Khondii. This is where we foreigners were going to share the matchless treasure of Christ with children we had never met.

Our Story—Separately

Initially, I (Lauren) was not a huge fan of the weather, or of children. I didn’t know what to expect. But I knew that we had a priceless opportunity. The treasure carried within these jars of clay changes lives (2 Corinthians 4:7).

What we encountered far surpassed any of my expectations. It was clear that the Lord didn’t only bring us there to work on others’ lives — He had work to do in ours. At these children’s camps is where the Lord really started teaching me of the value of children and the value every human life. Each child is made in the image of God and is a life worth loving (Genesis 1:27). And those gorgeous, eager brown eyes begging for more melt even the hardest of hearts. For the first time, I began to have the desire of having my own children.

Fast forward three weeks, unconscious in a hospital bed, life was fleeting and the thought of children further.

Fast forward three years, and I was married to the love of my life, Shawn, with a bright future ahead of us.

Shawn’s story begins in 2004. In his freshman year of college, the Lord brought him to repentance and salvation when confronted with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. While attending college to become a physical therapist like his dad, the Lord gave him a heart to see others come to know Christ, both in this country and abroad.

As he was considering medical missions as a means to do that, the Lord directed his heart to take a short trip to Brazil. During his time there, he was brought to the favelas, or slums, where he saw many children living in the streets suffering from malnutrition, starvation, and poor health. It seemed a dark place with no hope. While he couldn’t physically bring the children back to the States, he brought their faces and their stories home with him in his heart. This was the first seed that God planted deep inside him prior to meeting me.

Our Story—Together

Fast forward to one year into our marriage, when the trial of infertility begins. At first, it wasn’t hard (for me). The traumatic brain injury made infertility a strong possibility. It also made the recent memories made in India dim, unclear, and a distant, faded, partial-memory. After all, the desire for biological children had only just recently appeared on my radar, even though Shawn desired children strongly from the beginning of our marriage. But, with infertility front-and-center, the strong desire for children, and India still on the mind — however dimly — adoption quickly became an option.

And then, in the Lord’s sovereign will, and with medical intervention, I became pregnant. I was shocked at how quickly attached I became to this life growing inside of me. Before this happened, I was trusting that the Lord would change my heart and my attitude towards children. He certainly did.

But it wasn’t to last. As we continued to monitor the pregnancy through bloodwork, we found that hormone levels weren’t rising as they should. Heartbreakingly, early within the first trimester, we lost our Anaya.

After the miscarriage, during my recovery, adoption took front and center. If the miscarriage showed me anything, it was that I did want children — biological AND adopted. But we aren’t the ones who make the decision about which comes first. Shawn began researching agencies and asking questions. So after three months of physically recovering from the miscarriage, we decided on two more months of medically-assisted attempts. But since we don’t decide whether life begins or not, they were to no avail.

In my heart I can sometimes wonder, “why would the Lord give me my own child and soften my heart towards the idea of having children, only to take mine away?”

I think the answer lies in what we named the baby we lost — Anaya, or “God answered.” God answered so many prayers with the fleeting life of Anaya. He answered our prayer for a child — however brief. He answered the prayers for the desire of a child. He calmed my fears of “will I have a desire for my children? Will God change my heart?”

God answered.

Our Story—Looking Ahead

He answered a lot. And now that we have answers to some of these questions, we want to adopt — from India, where the longing first began. And we ask for your help in making this happen.

When we found out that India has the largest orphan populations in the world — 30 million (more people than the entire state of Texas), baby girls are buried alive for being born female, and children are abandoned on the street and put in orphanages for the smallest things (as well as financial strains and things families can’t control), India was really the only country we considered. Each child should be given the same opportunities and privileges no matter their station in life. And a child’s gender shouldn’t determine whether they live or die.

When the Lord saves individuals, they are adopted into His family. They have no worth of their own (Phil 3:9), and yet they receive all the same rights and privileges as God’s only Son — Jesus Christ (Romans 8:14-17). We want to give a little girl the same opportunities that we have. Only the Lord knows the identity of our child, but we are hoping and praying for a little Indian girl.

We believe the Lord has uniquely equipped us to care for a little girl who has some form of physical special need. The Lord has given us both hearts and unique skill sets — as a physical therapist and one who has walked through the difficulties of recovery. We are trusting that the Lord will uniquely use our stories in the life of a little girl. We hope to call her Jubilee as a reminder that the Israelites waited eagerly for the year of Jubilee, the year of redemption and liberation. It also reminds us of our excitement as we watch the Lord continue to unfold His plan. Our hearts are rejoicing in the anticipation of seeing how God will unfold the details of that plan.

Our Story—Where You Come In

We realize that we are living in unprecedented times with so much uncertainty. But, as believers, we know the One who is certain (Numbers 23:19,Hebrews 13:8,James 1:17) and who holds all things in His hands (Colossians 1:15-17).

We also know the heart of our Lord. We know that even though our times shift and change, He does not, and that He still cares for the orphan and the widow (James 1:27; Psalm 34:18; 68:5). If you would like to help, please consider coming on our journey with us in one of these two crucial ways.

Partner With Us

As to our future adoption plans, Lifeline (our adoption agency) has estimated that our adoption will be anywhere from $39,000-$42,000. From our family savings, we have been able to cash flow about $6,000 so far.  Shawn has been taking on additional clients as a physical therapist, and we have been doing as much as we can to set aside as much as possible for Jubilee’s adoption. 

If you’d like to contribute in any way, please view the important details below this post, and visit the “donate now” button at the top right of the page.

If you cannot partner with us, but would still like to be a part of our journey, there is still another absolutely crucial thing you can do.

Pray With Us

We don’t know what kind of special needs our Jubilee will have or what the financial needs will be when she arrives home, but we are trusting in the Lord for His provision and care. Would you please consider praying that the Lord would continue to provide for us (and her) in the meticulous, sovereign, and good ways that He cares for the needs — and desires — of His children?

We are at the beginning of a long journey. Because we’re working with a lot of unknowns (and two governments), Lifeline has estimated that adoption from India will take 2-3 years (only time will tell how Covid-19 will impact this estimate). 

For a little picture of what has to take place in that time (and where we are in the process), you can view or download our “India Adoption Timeline” (the download may not accurately reflect where we’re at, but it will help you read the descriptions better). We will also try and post any new updates on here. Be sure to subscribe at the right (the “receive story updates” button) so that you won’t miss any of our updates!

While this page represents only a snippet of our story, we welcome any questions and the opportunity to boast in the Lord’s work in our lives in so many other ways. If we can offer any additional information about our story, our desires, or our plan, please do not hesitate to reach out or comment and let us know! It would be our pleasure to provide that to you. 

Be sure to check out our video on here as well! And don’t forget to subscribe (click “Receive Story Updates” on the right sidebar) so that you won’t miss any of our updates! We will have another exciting update coming soon! :+)

Thanks for lending us your “ears” for a few moments; it’s a privilege to have you as part of our journey. 

Shawn & Lauren

P.S. Please share with anyone you know who would like to pray for us!

 

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Thank you for praying. Some have also asked how they may participate in giving towards our adoption.

Contribute Online (click the button on top right of this page): Online donations have a 2.2% credit card processing fee before going towards our adoption.

Write a check: Checks must be payable to “Lifesong for Orphans,” and must include “Waller #8951” on the memo line of the check. Please mail to: Lifesong for Orphans, PO Box 9, Gridley, IL 61744. No fees will be taken out. 100% of this donation goes directly to us.

Individual donations of $50 or more and yearly donations totaling $250 or more will receive a tax-deductible receipt.  Receipts for donations under $50 will gladly be sent upon request.  Lifesong is a 501©3 tax exempt organization.

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Raised to date by 61 people
 of  $40,000
203 days left

My Story

Amid the trash heaps, the rubble, the slums, the heat, and the death-defying traffic we made our way to Purani Khondii. This is where we foreigners were going to share the matchless treasure of Christ with children we had never met.

Our Story—Separately

Initially, I (Lauren) was not a huge fan of the weather, or of children. I didn’t know what to expect. But I knew that we had a priceless opportunity. The treasure carried within these jars of clay changes lives (2 Corinthians 4:7).

What we encountered far surpassed any of my expectations. It was clear that the Lord didn’t only bring us there to work on others’ lives — He had work to do in ours. At these children’s camps is where the Lord really started teaching me of the value of children and the value every human life. Each child is made in the image of God and is a life worth loving (Genesis 1:27). And those gorgeous, eager brown eyes begging for more melt even the hardest of hearts. For the first time, I began to have the desire of having my own children.

Fast forward three weeks, unconscious in a hospital bed, life was fleeting and the thought of children further.

Fast forward three years, and I was married to the love of my life, Shawn, with a bright future ahead of us.

Shawn’s story begins in 2004. In his freshman year of college, the Lord brought him to repentance and salvation when confronted with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. While attending college to become a physical therapist like his dad, the Lord gave him a heart to see others come to know Christ, both in this country and abroad.

As he was considering medical missions as a means to do that, the Lord directed his heart to take a short trip to Brazil. During his time there, he was brought to the favelas, or slums, where he saw many children living in the streets suffering from malnutrition, starvation, and poor health. It seemed a dark place with no hope. While he couldn’t physically bring the children back to the States, he brought their faces and their stories home with him in his heart. This was the first seed that God planted deep inside him prior to meeting me.

Our Story—Together

Fast forward to one year into our marriage, when the trial of infertility begins. At first, it wasn’t hard (for me). The traumatic brain injury made infertility a strong possibility. It also made the recent memories made in India dim, unclear, and a distant, faded, partial-memory. After all, the desire for biological children had only just recently appeared on my radar, even though Shawn desired children strongly from the beginning of our marriage. But, with infertility front-and-center, the strong desire for children, and India still on the mind — however dimly — adoption quickly became an option.

And then, in the Lord’s sovereign will, and with medical intervention, I became pregnant. I was shocked at how quickly attached I became to this life growing inside of me. Before this happened, I was trusting that the Lord would change my heart and my attitude towards children. He certainly did.

But it wasn’t to last. As we continued to monitor the pregnancy through bloodwork, we found that hormone levels weren’t rising as they should. Heartbreakingly, early within the first trimester, we lost our Anaya.

After the miscarriage, during my recovery, adoption took front and center. If the miscarriage showed me anything, it was that I did want children — biological AND adopted. But we aren’t the ones who make the decision about which comes first. Shawn began researching agencies and asking questions. So after three months of physically recovering from the miscarriage, we decided on two more months of medically-assisted attempts. But since we don’t decide whether life begins or not, they were to no avail.

In my heart I can sometimes wonder, “why would the Lord give me my own child and soften my heart towards the idea of having children, only to take mine away?”

I think the answer lies in what we named the baby we lost — Anaya, or “God answered.” God answered so many prayers with the fleeting life of Anaya. He answered our prayer for a child — however brief. He answered the prayers for the desire of a child. He calmed my fears of “will I have a desire for my children? Will God change my heart?”

God answered.

Our Story—Looking Ahead

He answered a lot. And now that we have answers to some of these questions, we want to adopt — from India, where the longing first began. And we ask for your help in making this happen.

When we found out that India has the largest orphan populations in the world — 30 million (more people than the entire state of Texas), baby girls are buried alive for being born female, and children are abandoned on the street and put in orphanages for the smallest things (as well as financial strains and things families can’t control), India was really the only country we considered. Each child should be given the same opportunities and privileges no matter their station in life. And a child’s gender shouldn’t determine whether they live or die.

When the Lord saves individuals, they are adopted into His family. They have no worth of their own (Phil 3:9), and yet they receive all the same rights and privileges as God’s only Son — Jesus Christ (Romans 8:14-17). We want to give a little girl the same opportunities that we have. Only the Lord knows the identity of our child, but we are hoping and praying for a little Indian girl.

We believe the Lord has uniquely equipped us to care for a little girl who has some form of physical special need. The Lord has given us both hearts and unique skill sets — as a physical therapist and one who has walked through the difficulties of recovery. We are trusting that the Lord will uniquely use our stories in the life of a little girl. We hope to call her Jubilee as a reminder that the Israelites waited eagerly for the year of Jubilee, the year of redemption and liberation. It also reminds us of our excitement as we watch the Lord continue to unfold His plan. Our hearts are rejoicing in the anticipation of seeing how God will unfold the details of that plan.

Our Story—Where You Come In

We realize that we are living in unprecedented times with so much uncertainty. But, as believers, we know the One who is certain (Numbers 23:19,Hebrews 13:8,James 1:17) and who holds all things in His hands (Colossians 1:15-17).

We also know the heart of our Lord. We know that even though our times shift and change, He does not, and that He still cares for the orphan and the widow (James 1:27; Psalm 34:18; 68:5). If you would like to help, please consider coming on our journey with us in one of these two crucial ways.

Partner With Us

As to our future adoption plans, Lifeline (our adoption agency) has estimated that our adoption will be anywhere from $39,000-$42,000. From our family savings, we have been able to cash flow about $6,000 so far.  Shawn has been taking on additional clients as a physical therapist, and we have been doing as much as we can to set aside as much as possible for Jubilee’s adoption. 

If you’d like to contribute in any way, please view the important details below this post, and visit the “donate now” button at the top right of the page.

If you cannot partner with us, but would still like to be a part of our journey, there is still another absolutely crucial thing you can do.

Pray With Us

We don’t know what kind of special needs our Jubilee will have or what the financial needs will be when she arrives home, but we are trusting in the Lord for His provision and care. Would you please consider praying that the Lord would continue to provide for us (and her) in the meticulous, sovereign, and good ways that He cares for the needs — and desires — of His children?

We are at the beginning of a long journey. Because we’re working with a lot of unknowns (and two governments), Lifeline has estimated that adoption from India will take 2-3 years (only time will tell how Covid-19 will impact this estimate). 

For a little picture of what has to take place in that time (and where we are in the process), you can view or download our “India Adoption Timeline” (the download may not accurately reflect where we’re at, but it will help you read the descriptions better). We will also try and post any new updates on here. Be sure to subscribe at the right (the “receive story updates” button) so that you won’t miss any of our updates!

While this page represents only a snippet of our story, we welcome any questions and the opportunity to boast in the Lord’s work in our lives in so many other ways. If we can offer any additional information about our story, our desires, or our plan, please do not hesitate to reach out or comment and let us know! It would be our pleasure to provide that to you. 

Be sure to check out our video on here as well! And don’t forget to subscribe (click “Receive Story Updates” on the right sidebar) so that you won’t miss any of our updates! We will have another exciting update coming soon! :+)

Thanks for lending us your “ears” for a few moments; it’s a privilege to have you as part of our journey. 

Shawn & Lauren

P.S. Please share with anyone you know who would like to pray for us!

 

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Thank you for praying. Some have also asked how they may participate in giving towards our adoption.

Contribute Online (click the button on top right of this page): Online donations have a 2.2% credit card processing fee before going towards our adoption.

Write a check: Checks must be payable to “Lifesong for Orphans,” and must include “Waller #8951” on the memo line of the check. Please mail to: Lifesong for Orphans, PO Box 9, Gridley, IL 61744. No fees will be taken out. 100% of this donation goes directly to us.

Individual donations of $50 or more and yearly donations totaling $250 or more will receive a tax-deductible receipt.  Receipts for donations under $50 will gladly be sent upon request.  Lifesong is a 501©3 tax exempt organization.

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Day 444: We know who she is!

March 12, 2021

We’re matched!

Ever since we started this journey, we wanted to name our girl Jubilee. While her name is not yet Jubilee, her personality definitely is.

And Lord willing, we now know who our girl is (!!) (She’s the one I wrote about in the last post :+D)

What came before this post was the longest, shortest, most challenging,  most emotional, most amazing, and about-any-other-superlative-you-can-think-of-est month ever. 

We have to be very careful in what information we share, but she has the biggest, happiest grin, and we even gave her a theme song. (Listen here.) If music could describe her, we think this song would :+) (Let us know what you think in the comments!)

ANY attempt to describe what happened this month falls woefully short.

But we saw the Lord work in amazing ways — ways that we’ve never seen or expected.

One of many highlights:

One of Shawn’s past coworkers that we consulted has an Indian coworker herself that…wait for it…has adopted an Indian girl herself, and…wait for it again, speaks our little girl’s language (spoken by only 6% of India)! What are the chances?! (Apparently 100% when God’s wants it that way :+)

She (among so many others) gave us very helpful insights.

That’s just one of the many amazing highlights. (Like I said, woefully short.)

And though that was an absolutely amazing answer to — some very specific — prayers, the decision was not easy.

There are still so many unknowns.

We now need a home study update before any of the next steps can occur (which is a lot of mini steps), then we have to get another check mark from the US government. We also need to put together a dossier of more official paperwork to be sent to India. 

Following that we wait for India’s officially official approval of her adoption. Then we move to the courts (which has timeframes that vary).

Like I said, LOTS of unknowns.

Please pray with us:

—The next season of waiting begins. Please pray that it would pass quickly and that we would bring our little girl home soon. Every. Single. Day. She’s in an orphanage is one more day she’s not with us. It’s one more day that she is not getting the nurture and care we would like to provide for her

—Please pray that our everything needed for our home study update happens quickly. We have to submit updated financials and medicals (the medical part can take a while)

—Lifeline estimates that the next 16-or-so steps will take us about a year. We don’t even get “official” approval from India until step 17, so please pray that all of this happens very quickly

—A move across the world to another country with another language and away from everything she’s ever known is trauma. Please pray that the Lord would prepare her heart for a move, and that Jubilee would endure it with a smile on her face, and that she would quickly know that we care so much for her

—That she would be safe and grow strong

—That we would be patient and trust the Lord as we wait

—That those in the Indian (and the US) government would feel (and act on) the urgency of getting these children into families

—We are now in a stage that can be greatly impacted by COVID. Please pray that it wouldn’t be

—Please pray that COVID would not delay our girl’s (or any child’s) homecoming

—Pray that the Lord would keep us motivated to work hard and bless that

—Now that we’ve been “matched” we can apply for a few more grants, please pray for the Lord’s provision here (most of the rest want us to wait until we’re closer to travel though)

—Praise! Shawn found his passport! Thanks for your prayers!

In other news, our puzzle is almost complete! 449 pieces! (Only 51x left!) The Lord’s kindness and generosity through you all continues to greatly encourage us. 

What’s even more encouraging is the texts and words from so many of you telling us that you are praying. It is so humbling and so appreciated to know that you are pleading with the Lord for us and on our behalf.

We are simultaneously on steps 9, 10, and 11 of a 25 step process (step 25 being travel). So we’ve got a ways to go, but God’s grace is sufficient for our needs (emotional, financial, etc.). As always, we need to trust Him.

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Day 394: Trust the Lord…Here too

January 31, 2021

Still reeling from the shock, surprise, and excitement of finally getting India’s approval to adopt, within 24 hours, our agency called us.

“We’ve pulled a file for you.”

Wait…what?

Our heads were still not on straight. We didn’t know how this worked. 

Yes, we had been told how it’s supposed to work, but being in it is different from hearing about it.

Over the phone, our agency gave us the overview of the little girl— her “mini bio” per se. Not thinking quickly or clearly, and having “our expectations” of what we think we’re capable of, initially, we declined. 

We were still getting our feet under us.

After several more days, detailed looks at other files (including hers), prayer, thinking, emails, and questions, we decided we wanted to take a closer look.

But a few other families, who have been waiting longer, had the same idea.

So, we wait. And we trust.

And in the process, we keep looking— we actively wait. 

“No one is going to adopt your child.” Extremely comforting words from a dear friend come back to remind us of God’s perfect sovereignty and infinite wisdom (Romans 8:28; 11:33; Colossians 2:2–3).

We don’t know who our child is, but we do know God is wise. We know God is good. We know God is faithful, and we know God is sovereign.

So we pray, and we trust.

We want every single one of these children to be in a God-honoring family. And we want that family to be the one God intends.

So please pray with (and for) us:

      • That these children would be placed in God-honoring families, no matter who that is
      • That we would be patient as we wait
      • That the Lord would grant us much wisdom as we review files, ask questions, and seek to determine what’s best for our family
      • That the Lord would grow and strengthen our marriage through challenging conversations and decisions
      • That we would have the resources and contacts we need when we need them
      • That the Lord would make it abundantly clear who our child is
      • That our child would be safe and grow strong
      • That we would find Shawn’s passport…we can’t seem to locate it right now

In other news, our puzzle is at an astonishing 436 pieces! (Only 64 left!! We are almost there!) The Lord’s kindness and generosity through you all continues to amaze us. Thank you so much for your kindness in helping us bring our child home. We can’t wait! (Or actually, we can wait. We are waiting. Please pray for us as we actively wait!)

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Day 361: Trust the Lord

December 19, 2020

Eek!! (that was my excited squeal)

Okay…regain composure. Let’s try again.

Human Adoption: When a family chooses a child without a family to be part of their own.

Spiritual adoption: When our heavenly father chooses undeserving children to be part of His family and called His children. These children have no worth or merit of their own but are still given the privilege of being called God’s sons and daughters.

Human adoption is but a shadow of spiritual adoption. But one of the main commonalities is: we don’t deserve either.

 

We don’t deserve to be God’s children.

We don’t deserve the privilege of taking in another’s child.

 

But the further along we get in the India adoption process, the closer that reality becomes. 

So without further ado, on Wednesday, December 9, 2020 (day 351) we received initial approval from the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) in India!

 

Translation: India approved us!

 

Words can hardly express our excitement! We are one big step closer to meeting our child. 

So what happens now?

Well, according to Lifeline (our adoption agency), we are now on step 8 of 25, and this is a big one. (They’re all big, but this one seems especially large.)

And what step is this” you might ask?

Matching. 

Yes, we’re now in the matching phase when we get to “find out” who our child is.

 

And I plead with you, please pray for us.

When we received approval from India, we also received access to their portal and the “waiting children.”

Guys, this is heartbreaking. 

We are now able to see the names and faces of many Indian children that don’t have homes. 

Our agency’s matching team has access to further information about each of these kiddos. When they think one meets our “criteria” — age, special need, background, etc. etc. they will pull the file from the “public” site and allow us to review it.

At this point, we have a little bit of time to say “yes, we would like to look into this child further” or “no, we don’t believe we are equipped to care for this child.”

If we say “yes,” we then have 30 days to ask questions and review the child’s medical files and any background information, pictures or videos. We can also use this time to speak with family, friends, and doctors about their thoughts.

If we say “no,” the child goes back onto the waiting child list for other (many loving and potentially better equipped) families to review.

 

Guys, saying no is hard. 

 

Every one of these children needs a family.

Every one of these children needs a chance.

 

This is the beginning of another unknown amount of wait time. The amount of time it takes for us to be matched depends on several things:

  • Our openness to age
  • Our openness to gender and [the big one]:
  • Our openness to special need

I’m thankful for the way the Lord wired us women. As one who never really wanted children, when I saw the faces on that site, my immediate thought was, “why don’t we adopt her…and her…and him?” (In my mind, by the time we’re done, we could end up with 12 or more…abilities and resources notwithstanding.)

I’m also thankful for the way the Lord wired my husband. He is thinking logically and rationally about this: what our desires are (and why) and what we are/aren’t equipped to handle. He helps me think.

For me, when the logical side my brain finally kicks in, it’s real easy to become fearful. With God’s grace, what are we equipped to handle? What if we make the wrong decision?

When a child is born to you biologically, you know that the Lord has already determined that you are capable of handling that child—with His grace (1 Cor 10:13).

When adopting, you know that God is still completely sovereign and works everything for the good of His own (Romans 8:28), but it’s not as clear cut. Human responsibility *seems* to muddy the waters a bit…or a lot.

This is where fears come in and insecurities arise. What if we make the wrong decision? What if we don’t get all the information we need? What if we can’t handle her or him?

 

I guess there’s a reason that the lesson of my life for the past ten years has been trust the Lord: 

I’m still learning it.

 

So please pray for us:

    • That the Lord would help us (me, Lauren, specifically) to trust in His sovereignty and goodness
  • That the Lord would help us (me, Lauren, specifically) to trust His sovereignty and goodness
  • That the Lord would give us an immense amount of wisdom and grace
  • That the Lord would grow and strengthen our marriage through these challenging conversations and decisions
  • That we would have the resources/contacts we need when we need them
  • That we would trust the Lord in who He chooses to send our way
  • That we would trust the Lord in our decision-making
  • That we would be patient in the process, but dare I pray it? That it would be soon
  • That the Lord would make it abundantly clear who our child is
  • That our child would be safe and grow strong

Thank you so much for your prayers! We need them more than ever! Each new step in the process shows us another area (or areas) we need to be dependent on the Lord. We covet your prayers.

In other news, our puzzle is at a whopping 388 pieces! (Only 112 to go!) Thank you so much for your kindness in helping us bring our child home. We are so excited to introduce her/him to everyone who helped! (Just warning you now, when that day comes, I’m going to be an emotional wreck.) :+)

Oh, and Christmas Eve signifies a year since we began the process. :+)

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Day 326: In All Things, Give Thanks

November 14, 2020

“How do you explain sight to someone who’s blind?”

This, and other, questions are ones we’ve had to think through as we consider international adoption. It came up again as a mom-friend and I were discussing the learning styles of different children.

“Wow, I’ve never thought of that,” she said, “it shows us how much we take for granted.”

In the past few months especially, I’ve been convicted of how important gratitude is as an attribute of the Christian life. Shawn even had the idea to start a gratitude journal — where we begin and end each day with three things we are grateful for. As we began doing this, I even took it a step further and thought to myself, “What if — one day — everything was taken away that isn’t written down?” 

Whoa. Sobering.

(Side note: Actually, since I began writing this, several things that I have written down have malfunctioned. I’ve found that being grateful for them as gifts from God helps with contentment when they are gone.)

My friend’s comment — about how much we take for granted — just once again reminds me, as good as we think we’re doing with gratitude, we still miss a whole lot.

Because this topic is becoming a precious truth to me, I’ve started studying it in scripture. But the other day, I wasn’t really even thinking about it and started reading in Colossians 3. In the few verses following the “put off, put on” passage (verses 15-17), some form of thankfulness is expressed three times:

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. [emphasis added.]

Just prior to these verses in verses 5-14, Paul finished describing what actions and attitudes believers are to “put off,” and conversely, what actions and attitudes believers are to “put on.” In the verses that follow (15-17), Paul describes the general disposition with which we are to do it.

There is obviously a lot more to these verses than simply gratitude, but it really struck me that thankfulness is so important that it made it into these verses three times. 

Let Christ rule in your heart, and don’t forget to be thankful.

In your interactions and singing, do it with thankfulness to God.

Whatever you do, do everything giving thanks to God.

Another precious truth in my life is the doctrine of God’s sovereignty, and our resulting responsibility to trust Him. Jerry Bridges ties these two truths together in his book Trusting God. He says, “The extent to which we genuinely thank God for the blessings He does provide is an indicator of our trust in Him.”

Wow. Think about that for a bit.

According to Bridges, thankfulness is an indication of trust.

If you are alive right now you have so much to be thankful for. Thanksgiving shouldn’t be a holiday we celebrate once a year — it should be every day. Even if circumstances are not ideal, even if elections, or whatever, don’t turn out as we would like, we have been given life. On earth. We are not suffering eternal punishment.

If you are not a believer in Christ, there is still time to repent and believe so that you don’t suffer eternally (2 Corinthians 6:2; Mark 1:15, 1 Thessalonians 1:8-9).

If you are a believer and want to know the will of God, this is it: give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

For all of this, and the countless other blessings (health, home, country, mind, etc), we should be grateful. We need to be grateful. We must be grateful. And ultimately, our gratitude can only be rightly directed to one place — one person — the God of the universe who has given us all things to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17). Whatever you have, you have been given (1 Corinthians 4:7b). And for that, we must be grateful.

And we are. We are grateful for many things, not the least of which is the 372 pieces in our puzzle! Through this wait, the Lord has continued to provide through the generosity of His instruments, and we continue to be so humbled, and grateful, for that.

So pray with us:

  • That in all things (including what our nation is going through right now), we would be grateful
  • That would specifically be grateful for this period of waiting and what the Lord is doing in this season
  • That we would receive approval to adopt from the Indian government
  • For our daughter — that she would be safe and grow strong
  • That we would really learn the lessons the Lord wants us to learn in this time
  • That the Lord would prepare our hearts for times to come
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Day 268: Life, Death, and Fish Bones

October 10, 2020

Happily cleaning the dishes after our dinner, I felt sharp something in my mouth. My mind froze. I didn’t swallow.

After a week of delicious, leftover, Birthday-Carrabbas, we finally began to cook our own food again. So we decided to make fish. We were trying a new fish (“barramundi”) along with the previous mahi-mahi we purchased.

And so, as we were eating, Shawn and I were talking about the day and about the email we had just received from our caseworker about CARA (India’s Central Adoption Resource Authority). She was letting us know about advocacy efforts on our behalf for approval from the Indian government, as we’ve been waiting well over 3 months now.

She gave us both encouraging and discouraging news that was…wait for it…another opportunity to trust the Lord. (The Lord knows I need to learn this.) 

It’s encouraging because it sounds like India is doing their best to make sure Indian children get into good homes.

The news was discouraging because we still don’t have approval.

Shawn and I finished dinner as we were discussing her email and whatever may happen with CARA approval. As I was contentedly cleaning dishes at the sink, I noticed a bit of remaining food caught between my gums and my teeth (there is a point to this, I promise). As I was loosening it with my tongue, I didn’t immediately swallow it.

I felt something sharp.

So I fished whatever “it” was out of my mouth. 

It was fish meat surrounding a tiny little bone. 

And I was immediately praising the Lord.

We actually know of someone who died from a small bone in her food. Like her, I could have swallowed it. I should have swallowed it. But I didn’t.

“Somehow” this little bone ended up caught in somewhat of a crevasse in my mouth. And it occurred to me: the same God who is sovereign over life, death, and minuscule fish bones, is the same God who is in control of governments,  paperwork, and the hearts of men (Proverbs 21:1).

It was just the reminder that I needed.

 

 

So please pray with us:

        • That we would trust the Lord’s sovereignty and timing

        • That the fact that this is “out of our control” would drive us to prayer, not despair

        • That our file would end up on the right person’s desk

        • That they would look upon our situation with kindness

        • That they would do any research accurately and quickly

        • That Jubilee would be safe and grow strong

Thank you so much for your kindness and your prayers! We are thankful you are on this journey with us.

All our love,

The Wallers

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Day 254: God Knows Best

September 26, 2020

There are many points in the process where adoptive families are in a wait of an unknown duration. We are in one now. But among other things, this wait is a good reminder to “keep the main thing the main thing”:  these children need families. They need the Lord most of all. And death is not a good thing unless you know Christ. Anything that distracts from those truths is not worth dwelling on.

We (or I) can also get caught up in “what ifs.” “what if our Anaya was alive?” “What if we did [this or this or this] differently?” Well thankfully, the Lord knows our hearts better than we do (1 Samuel 16:7b, Jeremiah 17:9-10), and He gives us His Word. Not only did He give us His Word, He gave us faithful pastors to explain it.

A helpful point, that addresses this very issue, was brought up by Pastor Jon in his sermon on Sunday about contingencies. He gave the example of Jesus speaking in Matthew 11:20-24. He said, “God alone has that knowledge, God alone knows the future, God alone knows contingency.” God knows what could have been. He knows what would have been. And God knows (and planned) how things are. We need to trust Him; He knows best.

It’s easy to get discouraged at times: at the wait, at the constant stream of pregnancy announcements, and so many others. But as Daron Roberts said in his sermon on Sunday, “Discouragement is just one step away from self-pity.”

To battle against self-pity, below are some truths I constantly have to keep reminding myself:

    • God calls me to honor Him in my life, not someone else’s (1 Corinthians 10:31)
    • God’s timing is perfect
    • The Lord is good and does good (Psalm 119:68)
    • “In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” And that good is becoming more like Christ – the main goal of the Christian life (Romans 8:28-29)

So whether things are going as we would prefer or exactly as the Lord planned (hopefully the two are the same…often they’re not), we need to remember Isaiah 55:8-9: 

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

With those verses in mind, even though my deceitful heart would prefer things going my way, I must remember that God’s ways are FAR better. Also, as much as I would like to pretend I am, I am not omniscient. And unlike someone I know, I don’t turn the kings heart wherever I want (Proverbs 21:1).

God is omniscient. God is all-powerful. God is all wise. God is all good. I am none of these things. Even my best efforts are filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). It only logically follows that if things went my way…they wouldn’t turn out very well.

When things aren’t going as you may have planned, rather than being discouraged, be encouraged. God knows better than you.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading the sermon I get to preach to myself every day! And thanks so much for your prayers, the Lord is moving — not only in our hearts, but in India! While many aspects of this process are discouraging, we did get some really exciting news these past two weeks. Even though Covid is still running rampant in India, they are now issuing visas and opening borders for families who have finalized adoptions! 

At this point, this doesn’t affect our process, but we are absolutely rejoicing that many children will finally be united with their forever families! This is definitely a huge answer to prayer, even specific requests that were made two weeks ago. Are you encouraged? We’re encouraged. 

Knowing that the Lord hears and answers our prayers should cause us to — even more — boldly approach the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16). So please pray with us:

    • That these families would quickly be able to travel to India to pick up their children — and the process would go smoothly
    • For CARA approval for us — we need approval from the Indian government to move any further in the process 
    • That the Lord would continue to provide — spiritually, emotionally, financially, etc. He has been abundantly kind thus far, but we always need more grace
    • That the Lord would prepare our hearts for the matching process, and that we would be granted great wisdom and grace when the time comes
    • For contentment in where the Lord has us, and that we would remember (and take to heart) the truths of all of those verses (and more!) written above
    • For the pandemic to slow in India…and here…and everywhere. But also that we would trust the Lord’s faithfulness nonetheless
    • Also, we are having homeowner’s insurance renewal issues. Please pray that the Lord would give us wisdom and guidance as we navigate these waters

Thank you so much for your care for us and following up with us about how the process is going. We are thankful for each one of you and the opportunity to share our thoughts and needs.

Sincerely,

The Wallers

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Day 240: This season of waiting

September 12, 2020

Right now, we’re all in a season of waiting due to Covid-19. When will life return to normal? Will it ever?

We are still waiting for CARA approval from India so that our adoption can move forward. So far, comparatively, our wait has been relatively short. But we don’t know how long the wait will continue. Maybe we’ll get approval this upcoming week. Maybe we’ll be waiting another 14 months. We just don’t know.

Many of you are also in seasons of waiting that are not Covid-related. But how do we respond when we are seemingly thrust into these trying times? Doctor Zemek wrote something very helpful that aids us as we biblically think through the circumstance of waiting.

To begin, believers need to think through waiting, not as a trial to be merely endured, but as one of the primary ways God uses to build our character. Romans 5:3-5 encourages believers to rejoice in our afflictions because afflictions produce endurance. When we wait, when we endure, our character is proven, and this proven character produces hope.

On the contrary, when we fight against these seasons of waiting, we rebel against God who ordains all (Ephesians 1:11) and who instructs us to endure afflictions with joy (James 1:2-4).

Nowhere does it say in Scripture that waiting is, has to be, or even should be, easy. In fact, in the Old Testament, we see quite the opposite with encouragements and instructions to wait patiently (Psalm 25:3, 5, 21; Psalm 27:14; Psalm 37:7; Isaiah 40:31).

In the New Testament, waiting on the Lord is not singularly focused on simply the present, but it instead looks ahead, to Christ. Passages such as Romans 8:18-21, Philippians 3:20-21, and 1 Thessalonians 1:10 encourage us in our longing to waiting eagerly for the life to come. 

After all, every believer is waiting (and hopefully longing) for the return of Christ and our future glorification.

As Doctor Zemek so encouragingly writes,

So as we wait for the glorification stage of our salvation including the resurrection of our bodies we know that the reaching of that goal is guaranteed by God in His Word. And as we celebrate this season of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, although physically spread out because of social distancing, we’re still spiritually One Body in Him. Furthermore, He who is our Head is “the resurrection and the life.” So just meditate on this: our physical resurrection indeed is future but we have been blessed with eternal life already. Therefore, that sublime reality calls for our unceasing praise no matter what the circumstances.

This is a good reminder for all of us. Whatever we’re waiting for, believers have already been blessed with eternal life. When we think about this truth, we realize that our season of waiting is smaller than a grain of sand on the shores of eternity. And this reality calls for our unending praise — no matter what.

So please pray:

          • That we would wait patiently and learn the lessons the Lord wants us to learn during this time
          • That we would make the best use of the time
          • That we would receive CARA approval
          • That the Lord would prepare us to wait more
          • That we would be a gospel witness to everyone we receive the opportunity to interact with
          • For the families who have been waiting far longer than us (in this and various stages), that they would be patient and turn to the Lord in this season
          • For the children who need and are waiting for families

Oh, and just because we don’t necessarily see the Lord working in, for example, CARA approval, it doesn’t mean He’s not working in that — or other — ways. It is such an encouragement and blessing to see the ways that He IS working, for example, in provision! Our puzzle is now up to 339 pieces! 

We don’t know the stories behind each piece, but we know there is one. We can’t tell you how humbling and how sweet it is to put each piece of the puzzle together (and to imagine just a glimpse of the story behind each one). We can’t wait to write names and messages on the back of every piece! This puzzle will be a tangible and sweet reminder of the Lord’s kindness, not just for Jubilee, but for us also.

Thank you so much for your generosity! We only have 161 pieces left!

Sincerely,

The Wallers

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Day 226: Take a little, throw the rest out

August 29, 2020

I’ve been thinking about thinking a lot — about how important critical thinking is — especially in the days we live in. Critical, biblical thinking is important in every area of life, and adoption is no exception.

What can I do?

As hopeful adoptive-parents-to-be, Shawn and I were listening to an adoption podcast that made me think of a few very important points. The first is, if you or anyone you know has been in the adoption or adoption education world for long, it can be easy to think at certain points in the process (and we’re in one now), “I have no control.” Or “There’s nothing else I can do.” And it’s tempting to lose hope.

(Actually, you don’t even have to be an adoptive parent for this to be the case.)

And this is where biblical thinking is important. We need to recognize outright lies and half truths. Not just the ones that come from outside — from other people — but the ones that come from within our own hearts. 

Because, to a certain degree, from a human perspective, this might be true — there may be nothing else that we can physically, tangibly do. 

But just because there’s nothing we can physically do, doesn’t mean there is no hope. There is hope, because there is something very important that we can do. 

We can pray (Eph 4:6).

We can petition the only One who actually has the power to do anything (Psalm 34)! And this, this is a reason for hope.

So have hope this week (and every week!). When you are feeling like you’ve lost control, like there’s nothing else you can do, that’s a great thing. That’s exactly where the Lord wants us.

We need to come to the end of ourselves so that we depend on the Lord. 

Biblical filters

The other thing that I’m learning is the importance of having a biblical filter and biblical discernment.

As you are well aware, there is a lot of garbage out there. And social media makes everyone’s voice a great deal louder. 

And not every resource digested is written by someone who has the same worldview as you. So while it’s good to research and educate yourself on things you don’t know, all of it needs to be filtered through the lens of the Bible (Phil 4:8-9).

What does that mean?

Ultimately, that means know your Bible. Know it, and know it well. Use the lens of the Bible as a filter through which all worldly wisdom must go (James 3). And that filter is going to catch a lot of junk (like an N95 mask).

Often times, this means gleaning some tips from an article or podcast, but throwing the rest out. 

But adoption and adoption education aren’t the only two subjects this applies to. This applies to life. And that’s one reason I’m so excited for a series our pastor just began Wednesday nights. The series is called “Critical Thinking in Critical Times” and it’s all about how to think through and respond biblically to the lies and errors the world is throwing at us on a daily hourly basis. I would highly recommend tuning in (at this link). It’s so helpful and so encouraging.

Pray with us:

    • That we would think critically and biblically in this season.
    • That we would take our thoughts captive and trust in and depend on the Lord (2 Corinthians 10:5, Proverbs 3:5-6).
    • That we will think rightly about where we’re at in the adoption process (Phil 4:8-9).
    • That we might be an encouragement to others.
    • That we would receive approval from the Indian government, and that they would handle this Covid-crisis with grace and wisdom.
    • For our daughter — that she would have her needs met and grow strong.
    • For the Lord to prepare our hearts for challenging days sure to come.

And guys, our puzzle is up to 330 pieces! Each piece of this puzzle is such a neat reminder of the Lord’s work in our lives, and we are filled with gratitude when we see the outward expression of God’s love through His instruments. We only have 170 pieces left!

Thank you all so much for your love, prayers, and encouragement. We truly appreciate them.

Learning to wait patiently,

The Wallers

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Day 212: God Works in Mysterious Ways

August 15, 2020

God works in mysterious ways
His wonders to perform
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm

In deep unfathomed mines
of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
and works His sovereign will

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take!
The clouds you so much dread
Are big with mercies and shall break
With blessings on your head

Trust not the Lord by feeble sense
But trust Him for His grace
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face

This poem, by William Cowper, that I learned in junior high while an unbeliever, has stuck with me for these many years. The word pictures, the cadence, and the truths contained within this poem have made it memorable. The fact that I’ve seen it so true throughout my life in various events and different seasons makes it…poignant.

And this adoption is no different. Thursday marked one year since we found out about the life of our little Anaya then soon learned out about our heartbreaking loss.

So unlike this time last year, I’m not pregnant, and we don’t have a child. But I am about seven months “paper pregnant.” (My belly’s not getting bigger, but our pile of paperwork certainly is.) And we’re still waiting. And we’re still learning.

One of many key themes in my life is what Paul Tripp calls “holding things with open hands.” Friends, we must always remember that our lives our in the Lord’s hands. Not our own.

As the Proverbs say,

“Trust the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding” (3:5-6). 

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (16:9).

“The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.” (21:1).

Or, as Shawn says, “we do our best, and trust the Lord with the rest.”

So, that’s what we’re doing. If the past years have taught me anything, they have taught me those truths (and believe me, I’m still learning).

And this is true of our adoption as well. Going back up to that poem, Anaya – the child we lost — was definitely a frowning providence. But Lord willing, we’ll see the Lord’s smiling face in the countenance of Jubilee.

With so many unknowns — even new ones that happen almost weekly — we are reminded that trust is absolutely essential. This week we were told that India is now changing some processes in regards to the psychological evaluation. We do not yet know if ours needs to be updated or changed yet (= more time + more money) but please pray that it goes through as is. Our eval was done via video conference, so we don’t know if we’ll have to get another done (and we don’t know when or if we will know).

Also in the pattern of trust, we have told our adoption agency we would like a young Indian girl. But we ultimately don’t know what age or what gender we will be matched with (but we do know the One who does).

So please pray with us:

    • That our hearts will continue to rest and trust the Lord’s sovereign purposes — whatever they are

    • That India will take our psych eval the way it is (which says — and you may beg to differ — neither I nor Shawn is certifiably insane)

    • That we will not be anxious (Phil 4), and that we’ll remember Proverbs 21:1 (we are thankful for the Lord’s timely and kind reminder of that verse this week) and prayer toward that end

 

    • For our daughter (as a dear friend so wisely put it, “for now, she’s Jubilee”) – that she would have her needs met and grow strong

    • That the Lord will continue to provide (and you can praise the Lord with us that we did receive another grant!)

And guys, this is so cool, we’re up to 330 pieces this week! Each piece of this puzzle is such a neat reminder of how “the Lord works in mysterious ways.” It is unbelievably humbling to see both God’s love and the love of the body of Christ represented by every one of those pieces. I can’t believe we only have 170 left!

Thank you all so much for your love and your prayers. We truly appreciate them.

Learning to wait patiently,

The Wallers

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Day 198: Biometrics

July 31, 2020

Hey guys,

So last Wednesday (July 22) we drove down to have our biometrics taken. It was a pretty uneventful morning. Shawn and I got up, went for a short run, quickly proceeded through our morning routine, and left rather hurriedly. Thankfully, the traffic was not bad at all. There were quite a few people out, but I’m not sure that everyone is back to work yet.

When we arrived at the USCIS Application Support Center (ASC), it was pretty empty. There was a small masked group of people gathered in front of the door, and at right about 8 o’clock, they scurried away. I was surprised at how very controlled the ASC was. We live in a different world now, right? Outside the door, there was a lady sitting at a table “guarding the door” with an official nearby.

When we mosied up, the double-masked official checked our paperwork and IDs, and asked the obligatory checkup questions: “Are you sick? Have you had any symptoms? Have you been around anyone who has had symptoms in the last 14 days?”

After I “passed the test,” the lady at the table checked my paperwork and ID and let me inside. Indoors, there looked to be one large, open, empty room (with maybe two more in the back) with 12 chairs neatly spaced 6 feet apart. Immediately on my left there was another “station” with a “spray shield,” a desk, and a person behind it. This lady again checked my ID and told me to proceed to the front of the chairs. (Everyone inside had double masks, a trick I learned from Shawn. “You’re not supposed to wear a mask more than once, so you wear a washable mask over your N95 so you don’t have to throw it away.”)

Following this, they let Shawn inside. (I think there were  a total of three employees in the room with us.) To the left of the chairs, there were about 4 or 5 cubicle looking areas. They wanted me to go to the third one where a nice [masked] lady proceeded to roll my fingers across a screen to take my fingerprints (it’s a lot more complicated than it used to be — no more ink and paper).

After I was done with the uneventful fingerprinting (that probably took between 5 and 10 minutes), I went to stand at the back of the — still empty room — to wait for Shawn. I felt fairly awkward, but that only lasted about two minutes indoors because, from across the room, they told me I could no longer be inside. There were still a few people outside though, so the awkwardness did continue…just outdoors this time (I didn’t have the car keys).

Shawn was inside a few minutes longer (I guess he didn’t put a date on something), but we then left. Overall, it was a pretty uneventful experience (praise the Lord!).

We expected to wait 2-3 months from the time of submitting our paperwork to the time of I800 approval. (This would have put us at August 10-September 10). But actually, 8 days after we got fingerprinted, we received our I800A approval!! So exciting :+D Kaylee (our case worker) said that’s definitely the quickest she’s seen approval following fingerprinting. So yeah, we’re pretty psyched. :+D

This really doesn’t mean anything for us right now, but it’s definitely an exciting step. :+D

Kaylee called us to congratulate us, and she also told us that she missed a call on our behalf from a granting agency. She asked us to sign a “release of information” before she called back, but that’s more super exciting news. Now, we’re excited about opportunities there. Please pray for us and for them!

We had very little news to update on — aside from our trip down south — when I began writing this on Thursday. But as we all know, the Lord doesn’t work on our schedule, just reminding us once again that His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9).

So please pray with us:

  • Our three month CARA approval window is up mid-August.  That’s when our agency has a plan to start advocating for us to the Indian government. So please pray that we actually get CARA approval before that needs to happen.

  • I asked Kaylee about the new president of CARA, and we do not yet know if they have officially appointed someone. However, they have listed a temporary director on their website.  So please pray for whoever ends up in that position.

  • Please pray for our hearts as we continue this season of waiting — that we would trust that the Lord is sovereign and that He works all things for our good and His glory

  • Please pray for the hearts of those at the granting agency we applied to: that they would look with favor upon our family and that they would prioritize the glory of Christ in all of their dealings.

But in other news, our puzzle has 302 pieces. That means only 198 left! We’re so close! It is so humbling to see what means and who the Lord uses to provide for His children. Thank you so much to everyone who has contributed to our adoption. Whether that’s through financial gifts or through prayer or kind words, we are incredibly overwhelmed and so utterly grateful.

Thank you all so much!

The Wallers

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Day 184: Exciting News!

July 18, 2020

One afternoon last week, Shawn asked me if I would go out and check the mail. 

Now normally, this is no big deal. But those of you in Florida know, it’s hot. Like, go outside and melt your face off, hot (and for me to say that — the one that’s wearing a sweater when it’s 80 degrees — means it’s hot).

But, I figured, the mailbox is only like 50 feet away, so it won’t kill me. Besides, we have air conditioning (Praise the Lord!).

So I meander out to get the mail, and there’s a package! It just so happened to be one that I was waiting for since early June, so I was excited and immediately distracted. I also grabbed some political mail, whatever else was in the mailbox, and headed inside.

Shawn asked if we got anything interesting. I responded with something about political mail from a cousin of a friend of ours. Kind of — what I hoped was — nonchalantly, I gave him the package (I knew it was a gift for him). I then went in the kitchen and bobbed around a bit. I was about to throw the mail away, but I figured I should actually check it since I didn’t actually remember looking at it.

Then Shawn hears an excited squeal. With concern he says, “What?! What is it!? What’s wrong?!” 

“We got two letters from USCIS!”

“Well,” he said excitedly, “let’s see what it says! Let’s open them!”

Suspecting and hoping it was what we thought it was, we hurriedly (and carefully) open them. To our delight, it was as we thought, we received our fingerprinting appointments!

Normally, getting letters in the mail from the U.S. Department of Citizenship and Immigration isn’t typically a reason for rejoicing (at least, I wouldn’t think). But last week it was. Our appointments are scheduled for next week. So please pray with us:

    • That the appointments actually happen. With Covid cases in Florida increasing daily, please pray that this office would remain open and that we would get our biometrics taken.

    • That we make the appointment. At a normal time of day, the appointment is about forty-five minutes away. But ours is at rush hour. And if we don’t show up, our case is “considered abandoned” [scary]. Please pray that we make it on time (we may leave at 4 am…kidding).

    • That they would process everything quickly and smoothly, without any hiccups. These days, the world is full of unexpected snafus at every turn. Please pray that that wouldn’t happen here.

    • For our hearts. This will hopefully be one more step completed, but we still have a lot to go, and a lot of waiting to do. We need the Lord’s grace and patience.

    • And, as always, for Jubilee and her mom. It’s really hard for biological parents to know what to do some times. For almost anyone at any point, it’s hard to part with a child. Please pray for wisdom, safety, and salvation for her.

Also, thanks to y’all (spelled correctly this time?), we’re now at 280 pieces! Our puzzle is really coming!

We love you guys!

Sincerely,

The Wallers

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Day 170: Process Updates

July 4, 2020

Phew! It’s been a big week. And we have exciting news! Well, at least hopeful news :+)

This week we heard the news that Lifeline spoke directly with India’s office that handles adoptions (CARA). Lifeline updated all of us adoptive families on the conversation points in that meeting. 

In our Zoom call, we were updated on each aspect of the adoption “journey.” And as a result of the call, it now sounds like Lifeline can now expect and more formally advocate for a quicker turnaround in many of the stages of Indian adoptions (including the one we’re in).

Ya’ll, this is exciting.

(I think having an agency in Alabama is bringing out the Southern that’s…not really…in me. It’s my dad’s influence?? Oh well, never mind. Tangent.)

Our host from Lifeline started our call with “Keep in mind, this is international adoption, nothing is certain, and things often change.” But still, this is good to know. And Lifeline has seen quite a bit of movement for other couples since following up after this meeting (!!!).

It sounds like Lifeline already has an excellent relationship with CARA, but it looks like there are quite a few potential transitions that may occur in the next few months. Some of these are leadership transitions, and some would make for a more streamlined adoption process.

So please pray with us:

 

 

  • That leadership changes would go smoothly, and that the Lord would have His hand on the ones who take new roles

  • That the adoption process would become quicker and more streamlined

  • For our CARINGS approval, and that we would be patient and trust the Lord in the process (and that fingerprinting — from our side — would happen soon)

  • For our hearts as we wait. That we would trust the Lord, learn a lot, and make the best use of our time

  • For our Jubilee. That she is cared for, her needs are met, and that her heart would be softened toward the gospel

  • For those families that have been waiting to travel since before the lockdown. I can only imagine how difficult that must be, so please pray for a special measure of grace for them

And for even more great news — as you might know, we met our matching grant! (And we added that as a $4000 gift to our fundraising.) Hurray! And, we’re at 256 pieces! We have officially met the halfway mark of our puzzle :+) Thank you so much for your generosity and prayers!

We cherish your prayers as we continue to wait for Jubilee!

Sincerely,

The Wallers

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Update • June 20, 2020

June 20, 2020

As I write, the doves are singing, the geese are honking (rather loudly and persistently I might add), and the weather is HOT. Also, two more, rather uneventful weeks have passed with the main message being “wait.”

India is locked down until at least June 30 when they will, once again, reassess. We have been informed by our adoption agency that their team has come up with a unique plan for every family in the India program on how to move forward once things open up, but once again, the theme here is wait.

BUT we have good news from over here in the US of A! According to our agency, the USCIS will begin reopening the adoption support centers for the purpose of biometric fingerprinting July 13 (yay)! However, we still need to [wait] to receive our letter for our appointment. But we’re at least headed in the right direction. 

My heart is brought back to the scriptures where waiting is not simply a part of life to be endured, but a part of every Christian’s life where believers are to exercise patience and dependence while eagerly anticipating the Lord’s work. We get a glimpse of this is Psalm 27:14, “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”

So, as always, thank you so much for your kind gifts and your prayers. (We now have 240 puzzle pieces!) Please continue praying: for India to reopen, for fingerprinting to go quickly and smoothly, for the lost and hurting to come to the saving knowledge of Christ, and for us to patiently wait for the Lord, trusting in Him and eagerly anticipating His work and His arrival.

We love you guys!

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June 6, 2020

June 6, 2020

Wow, today is June 6, which means yesterday was June 5. If you don’t know, the significance of that day is indelibly marked on the collective consciousness of the Graham-Waller memory.

If you haven’t heard the story, you can read in detail about it on CaringBridge (go back to day 1 to get the whole story). Or I’ll give you the very short version. Nine years ago yesterday, and three days upon return from my trip to India, my brother and I were t-boned on my side of the car.

The Lord’s grace woven throughout the story is amazing, but the short version is that I survived a traumatic brain injury (and I can still function as a *mostly* normal adult — the lack of normalcy may not have anything to do with the TBI…). There are obviously still difficulties (and this is probably the reason Shawn and I can’t have biological children right now), but the Lord knows all of that, and He knew that we would pursue adoption of our little Indian girl :+).

Updates

So anyway. The latest news and updates. After our last post, we pretty quickly reached our matching goal! Words can’t describe our plethora of emotions. But they can try :+):  Super excited. Extremely happy. Overjoyed. Exceedingly grateful. Beyond humbled. Throw some more superlatives and joyful adjectives in there, and you’ve kind of described how we’re feeling.

Speaking of joy and excitement, we also heard back from some of our grant foundations! So that is super exciting as well! As you can see from the image, our puzzle is still coming together (224 pieces!). We are so…[all of the adjectives above]…for you guys and the work the Lord has done so far. It’s so humbling and such a privilege to see all that the Lord has accomplished in such a short amount of time.

But speaking of time, India’s lockdown is loosening, but has been extended another month. That we know of, this isn’t affecting us too much yet, but please pray for those nearing the end of their India adoption process. I can’t even imagine how hard this is for them; they need a special grace and wisdom right now. (And those orphans need to be with families!)

We are still waiting for our fingerprinting appointment to be scheduled, and we do not  know when that will be. We did receive word that fingerprinting did not resume the day it was supposed to, but no information has been given on when it is supposed to restart. Please pray that that will be soon and that the backlog will be processed quickly and efficiently.

Oh, and not directly adoption related, but related in a third-degree sense, please pray for  us and our roof. Those of you in south Florida know that we have had 100 year rains in our area in the past few weeks. We already knew that we were going to need to replace our roof soon, but these rains have made it evident that that will be sooner than expected. So please pray for wisdom, a fix, and everything else related to that.

As always, thank you for your prayers. Thank you so much for your support. We look forward to answering any questions you may have and keeping you updated on how things are going.

Love you guys!

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Another Two Weeks Down

May 23, 2020

Hello everyone!

Other than that we’ve had an extremely busy two weeks of life, the adoption front has been fairly uneventful — as far as things we’ve had to do. We did receive a letter from the US Department of Homeland Security (which is always a little intimidating). It informed us that they would be making us a biometrics (fingerprinting) appointment sometime in the next few weeks. I also found that if we don’t make that appointment we are considered “absent” or something and we forfeit what we’ve done so far.

That’s unnerving.

We also received notification that we are now registered on CARINGS! This means that we are now registered with the Indian government so that India’s CARA (Central Adoption Resource Authority) can begin to put us in the queue.

The way I’m thinking about the past two weeks is that we’re one step closer to being “in the system” (which, ironically, we’re actually excited about in this case).

So if you don’t fully understand the function of/difference between all the acronyms, neither do I (and I thus didn’t explain it well). All I know is, we’re one step closer (or two I guess).

How’s the puzzle?

Well, if you look over to the side, you’ll see that we now have 169 pieces! The Lord is so kind to use very kind-hearted and generous people like you that are reading this. So we still have over half of the puzzle left, but it’s definitely coming along thanks to people like you guys.

Everyone who has donated thus far has had their money doubled thanks to First Baptist Orlando. Because of them, we received a $4000 matching grant — which we are still working on (with only a little left!). 

Thank you to all who have contributed thus far!

How to pray

Our next steps are to show up for the biometric appointment and to get approved by CARA. 

• We are praying that we are able to not only attend that appointment, but that it wouldn’t be significantly delayed due to COVID.

• We are also praying for a quick approval by CARA. Kaylee (our social worker) told us that that normally takes 3-5 months, but they’ve seen it take as few as 2 or as many as 8 — with no rhyme or reason as to why. So please pray with us that that happens quickly, but whether it happens quickly or not, that we would be patient and trust the Lord.

• Also, we applied for several grants a few weeks ago. We can pray that they would be kind to us and assist our attempts to fund our adoption :+)

Thank you all for your generous love, support, and prayers! Please don’t hesitate to contact us or comment with any questions! Love you guys!

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Another Two Weeks Down

May 23, 2020

Hello everyone!

Other than that we’ve had an extremely busy two weeks of life, the adoption front has been fairly uneventful — as far as things we’ve had to do. We did receive a letter from the US Department of Homeland Security (which is always a little intimidating). It informed us that they would be making us a biometrics (fingerprinting) appointment sometime in the next few weeks. I also found that if we don’t make that appointment we are considered “absent” or something and we forfeit what we’ve done so far.

That’s unnerving.

We also received notification that we are now registered on CARINGS! This means that we are now registered with the Indian government so that India’s CARA (Central Adoption Resource Authority) can begin to put us in the queue.

The way I’m thinking about the past two weeks is that we’re one step closer to being “in the system” (which, ironically, we’re actually excited about in this case).

So if you don’t fully understand the function of/difference between all the acronyms, neither do I (and I thus didn’t explain it well). All I know is, we’re one step closer (or two I guess).

How’s the puzzle?

Well, if you look over to the side, you’ll see that we now have 169 pieces! The Lord is so kind to use very kind-hearted and generous people like you that are reading this. So we still have over half of the puzzle left, but it’s definitely coming along thanks to people like you guys.

Everyone who has donated thus far has had their money doubled thanks to First Baptist Orlando. Because of them, we received a $4000 matching grant — which we are still working on (with only a little left!). 

Thank you to all who have contributed thus far!

How to pray

Our next steps are to show up for the biometric appointment and to get approved by CARA. 

• We are praying that we are able to not only attend that appointment, but that it wouldn’t be significantly delayed due to COVID.

• We are also praying for a quick approval by CARA. Kaylee (our social worker) told us that that normally takes 3-5 months, but they’ve seen it take as few as 2 or as many as 8 — with no rhyme or reason as to why. So please pray with us that that happens quickly, but whether it happens quickly or not, that we would be patient and trust the Lord.

• Also, we applied for several grants a few weeks ago. We can pray that they would be kind to us and assist our attempts to fund our adoption :+)

Thank you all for your generous love, support, and prayers! Please don’t hesitate to contact us or comment with any questions! Love you guys!

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So…how’s the puzzle coming?

May 9, 2020

Well, I’m glad you asked!

Due to the kindness and generosity of 18 individuals and families, we have pieced together just over a quarter of the puzzle (130 pieces)!

If you are reading this and are one of those donors, thank you so much. We can’t tell you how grateful we are and how humbling it is that you would be so kind to help our family out (during a pandemic of all things). It is a genuine privilege to count you as friends.

Also, if you are one of those people, would you please message us with the note you would like to write on your piece(s)? You can also tell us what color you would like it written in.

But, you may be wondering, how is the adoption itself coming? Is it “on hold” like the rest of the world?

Well, thankfully, no, not quite :+). We received word from Lifeline that they were going to mail our application into the US government yesterday for our I-800A (this gives us permission from the US to adopt).

To get our I-800A approval, we will need to get fingerprinted again. Unfortunately, those sites are closed until at least June 5 due to COVID. Please pray for those sites to reopen in a timely manner and for us to get fingerprinted quickly.

Next week, Lifeline plans on submitting our CARINGS application (managed by CARA). Once that’s approved, we have permission from the Indian government to adopt.

Despite India’s total lockdown continually being extended, they are still processing initial approvals. Please pray that continues.

After we receive approval from CARA, which typically takes 3-4 months (but sometimes over 8), we enter the matching process! While India is still processing initial applications, we do not know if they will be delayed at all. Please pray that somehow, things move along, and potentially even quicker than before.

Meanwhile, we’re still depending on the Lord and working on our puzzle. 

Thank you so much for being part of our story! Whether that’s by reading, contributing, praying, or some combination of the three, we greatly appreciate it (Jubilee does too).

We love you guys!

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Great News! And a Neat Idea

April 24, 2020

Our home study is complete, and we have sent off our application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to get our I-800A!

We are simultaneously “applying” to the US government (USCIS) and the Indian government (CARA/CARINGS) for eligibility to adopt. But our first priority is the USCIS. After the USCIS receives our information, we will then get a letter from them acknowledging that they received our application. At the same time,  they will schedule us for a finger printing appointment.

That’s where the sticky part comes in. Because of Covid, fingerprinting, which is required, is currently shut down. We don’t know how long it will remain closed, but right now these sites are closed until the beginning of May. (And when they reopen, there will probably be some backlog in appointment issuing.)

Now that our home study is complete, we’re working with a lot of moving parts to try our best to get a few grant applications in before their April 30 cut off.

So our first order of business — as always — is to pray. 

1. Pray for us and the other adoptive families in this stage to be patient, wait on the Lord, and trust in His timing.

2. Pray also for the government officials, that they would be kind, have a good attitude, and also, ultimately, trust the Lord. I imagine this is pretty stressful for them too. 

3. Pray that these sites would open quickly, and the workers would be efficient and quick in completing these appointments.

 

4. Pray that we would be able to get our grant applications submitted before the cut off, and that these foundations would be kind in providing for our adoption.

After the USCIS step, we can move forward to the next step.

This is all very exciting, and yet, a cause for more dependance on the Lord – just like all of life, but its cool to talk about specifics.

Speaking of specifics, we get to speak of the Lord’s sovereign provision! 

We received a $4000 matching grant!

A very kind church in Orlando has a heart for orphans and wants to support Lifesong adoptive families. So everyone who has been kind enough to donate so far, your money is actually doubled! And anyone who gives to help us out, up until $4000, your money is doubled. This is a huge blessing, and we praise the Lord for it. So we were thinking of doing something pretty cool…

Puzzle Fundraiser

And this is where our neat idea comes in. We decided to have a custom, 500-piece puzzle made for Jubilee to have in her room. The front will have the picture of our adoption announcement, and on the back, we plan to show her how many people helped bring her home! The process will look like this:

How this works

•  Each piece is $15. 

•  Everyone who donates “buys” a specific number of puzzle pieces for us to put together. (And everyone who has already donated has already “purchased” puzzle pieces.)

•  On the purchased puzzle piece(s), we will write your name, a verse reference, and/or a very short message (the puzzle pieces are quite small).  The more pieces that you buy, the longer your message can be.

 

•  When the puzzle is complete, we will get a double-sided frame so that Jubilee (and us) can see who helped bring her to her forever family! 

We hope that you will help us bring our Jubilee home (and remember, your money is doubled until we get to $4000)!

If you decide to donate (or already have), please message us and let us know whose name (you can buy for other people) and/or message what you would like written on the puzzle piece(s). 

We’ll try and do regular puzzle updates on here (subscribe for updates at the top right of this page — where the megaphone icon is) and Facebook so that you can see the puzzle coming together.

Thank you so much for your prayers and support!

– The Wallers

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The First Hurdle – Almost Crossed!

April 20, 2020

We are getting ready to leap over our first hurdle (that we’ve been working on since January)! As we are getting ready to finalize our home study, we just received the paperwork and needed documentation to complete our I-800A.  

This form is basically permission from the US government to initiate the immigration process for our daughter. During this process, we are required to get fingerprinted again. As of right now, Covid-19 is delaying these appointments.

Please pray that those fingerprinting sites would be reopened and any backups would be minimal.

Please also make sure to subscribe at the top right to receive future updates!

Thanks again for your prayers! They mean so much to us!

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Comments

$500

Jordan&Liz

Mar 25, 2021

“Continuing to pray, love reading your updates!”

$50

Hidden

Mar 6, 2021

“Praying for you guys. :)”

$150

Hidden

Mar 6, 2021

“Praying for you guys. We love you and can’t wait to meet Jubilee!”

$200

Offline Donation

Jan 30, 2021

$250

Hidden

Jan 23, 2021

“Praying for you!”

$7,000

Offline Donation

Jan 5, 2021

$300

Offline Donation

Dec 26, 2020

$50

Offline Donation

Dec 25, 2020

$45

Offline Donation

Dec 25, 2020

$100

Judy

Dec 20, 2020

$90

Offline Donation

Dec 17, 2020

$150

Offline Donation

Dec 13, 2020

$300

Todd

Nov 13, 2020

“Shawn and Lauren, we are excited for your adoption journey and trust that you are getting closer to bringing a child home to your family. Many people helped us with our 5 adoptions so we want to bless others who are doing the same. Praying for you as you navigate the adoption road ahead of you and looking forward to seeing who the Lord will bless you with!”

$50

Joseph

Nov 9, 2020

“Praising the Lord for you Shawn and Lauren Waller! :+)”

$100

Teresa

Nov 8, 2020

“I’m praying the Lord will help you on this journey to finding your child.”

$50

Laurabell

Oct 16, 2020

“Praying for you!”

$15

Offline Donation

Sep 7, 2020

$15

Offline Donation

Sep 7, 2020

$106

Offline Donation

Sep 6, 2020

$2,500

Offline Donation

Aug 17, 2020

$100

Offline Donation

Aug 10, 2020

$50

Offline Donation

Aug 6, 2020

$100

Steven & Daphne

Aug 1, 2020

“God bless you and every step you take towards your girl. We know God is writing an amazing story for your family. We are grateful to be getting front row seats to His miracle!!”

$200

Offline Donation

Jul 23, 2020

$100

Laura

Jul 20, 2020

“I'm so thrilled for you as you begin this exciting journey! I will be praying that God uses this adoption to put the love and mercy of God on clear display to a watching world. "I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people." Eph. 1:18. Love you guys!”

$100

Mark & Krystal

Jul 19, 2020

“Hi Shawn & Lauren, We are so excited to hear about your pursuit of adopting a little girl from India. We are praying for you guys, as you embrace the joys and challenges of this new journey. We love you both dearly. Mark & Krystal”

$130

Offline Donation

Jul 13, 2020

$300

Hidden

Jul 8, 2020

$100

Hidden

Jul 4, 2020

$250

Hidden

Jun 20, 2020

“Dear Shawn and Lauren: We are excited to share your joy as you look forward to the arrival of your daughter. Thank you for letting us peek into your lives and see how God is working in you and through you. You are loved!”

$25

Offline Donation

Jun 18, 2020

$4,000

Offline Donation

Jun 18, 2020

$100

Offline Donation

Jun 16, 2020

$100

Penny

Jun 8, 2020

“Love you guys!”

$50

Hidden

Jun 6, 2020

“Love y'all!!!!! Excited for your journey.”

$25

Elizabeth

Jun 5, 2020

“Praying for this little one! So excited for your family!”

$100

Irving and Emily

Jun 2, 2020

“Dear Jubilee, We are so thankful that you are a part of the Waller family! God is so kind to give us our families. They are a reminder of how important God's family is. It is our prayer that you would turn to Christ as your Savior and Lord so that you might not only be a part of the Waller family, but a part of God's family! John 1:12-13 Love, Emily and Irving Campbell”

$100

Kevin

May 25, 2020

“We love and miss you guys very much! Praying for you!”

$500

Hidden

May 23, 2020

“Praying for God's blessings on you as you walk this journey. Love you guys!”

$100

Mark

May 23, 2020

“Thanks for sharing with us your journey of adoption. Praying for you guys. We love you guys! The Summerville Family”

$50

Rusty, Jenny, & Elliot

May 23, 2020

“We know that little Jubilee will be as much of a blessing to you as you will be to her! Trusting the Lord that your prayers will be answered and that your hope will be fulfilled! ❤️”

$500

Offline Donation

May 18, 2020

$1,000

Offline Donation

May 18, 2020

$100

Patrick

May 14, 2020

“Delighted to come alongside and watch the Lord work beautifully in your lives as you live in the "waiting" and soon in the completion. We have loved reading each update and getting a glimpse of your heart and His kind providence at work in every single detail of this whole process. Rejoicing, praying and waiting with you Wallers!”

$300

Marco & Amanda

May 8, 2020

“Praying!”

$500

Emily

May 3, 2020

“Emily and Chris ...from everlasting to everlasting, the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children - Psalm 103:17 with more love than you can imagine...”

$100

Jonah and Karina

May 3, 2020

“Praying for you in this journey of adoption! Much love to you and your family! Praying for your sweet daughter!”

$50

Lourdes

May 1, 2020

$100

Justin & Alyssa

Apr 29, 2020

$100

Hidden

Apr 15, 2020

$100

Hidden

Apr 14, 2020

“We want to be a part of blessing a child with you two as parents!”

$50

Hidden

Apr 13, 2020

“Our hearts are with you. Our prayers sent daily.”

$100

Ron & Caren

Apr 11, 2020

“Lauren & Shawn, I've been praying for God to bless you guys w/a natural birth or an adopted child...... &/or BOTH (..!!!) for about last 3 months. Penny was so excited she couldn't contain the news....We're very proud of you both as to how you're going about starting a family. I will continue to lift those special prayers unless you share up-dates requiring something more specific. Please don't hesitate to text, email or call. Blessings & hugs, AC XOXO & UR”

$200

David & Bethany

Apr 11, 2020

“Thanks for sharing your story with us! We will be praying for you on this journey and can’t wait to see God work. God bless you and keep you.”

$50

Hidden

Apr 11, 2020

“We'll be praying for you that the adoption process will go well.”

$20

Hidden

Apr 11, 2020

$50

Deborah

Apr 11, 2020

$100

Mark

Apr 11, 2020

“Love you guys!”

$100

Anna Cook

Apr 11, 2020

“We are beyond excited for you! Praying it all works out sooner than expected.”

$50

Hidden

Apr 11, 2020

$100

Karen

Apr 11, 2020

“Thank you for sharing your journey. Praying for you both for Gods timing, provision, blessings and encouragement EVERY step of the way. ❤️”