Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Year Ago

I fall into that generation that knows the initials "J.T." as James Taylor and as Justin Timberlake. So, as I get ready to turn another year older I reflect on the past year.

What strikes me first is that it was a year ago that we started the adoption process.

Wow! What a year!

The decision to adopt was one that we arrived at after much thought, discussion, investigation, and, most importantly, prayer. At the time, Benjamin had just turned 12 and I was about to turn 44 (so you can do the math on my age as another birthday approaches!). Kelly Clarkson's "Stronger" was number #1. With its chorus of, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger" that song is very apropos.

There were people who supported us, people who tried to talk us out of it, and people who thought we were crazy (in both camps).

Despite being an extremely private person, I also started a blog to document our journey. I would never have guessed that it would be read beyond a few friends and family members. I certainly wouldn't have imagined that a year later we would have over 70,000 hits.

What a journey it's been so far.

There were all the ups and downs, rushing and waiting of the adoption process with the home study and all of the paperwork ("Mount Paperwork" as we knew it) that had to be filled out, notarized, and apostilled (A year ago I didn't even know what apostilled meant!) and would become our dossier.

Once the Ukrainian SDA had received our dossier we had to wait for the invitation to come over. There was the soft rejection of our dossier and the re-submission. Finally, the day arrived when the invitation came and then came the mad dash to get ready for our trip.

For those who have undertaken this journey, you know how emotional it really is. I have never been so profoundly changed by a trip before in my life. Not only did I have the amazing experience of meeting our new son for the first time, but I met other children whose beauty and joy broke my heart and made me want to promote adoption even more strongly than I had before. As I have written numerous times before, not a day has passed that these kids aren't in my thoughts and prayers. I cannot ever forget them. I am also thankful to those of you who have e-mailed me inquiring about different kids that we met. I pray that they are adopted into loving families. As the beginning of Psalm 68:6 tells us, "God sets the lonely in families . . ."

Of course the real journey began not in Ukraine but once Cava came to live in our home as part of our family. Many people asked me if I was going to continue blogging once this happened and I answered with a resounding, "YES!" To me, this is where the rubber meets the road. The journey up to meeting the child is like those romantic comedies you see about the couple getting together, but those films always end just where the real story is. And the same is true of our adoption.

Unlike when you have a biological child, there are no What To Expect When You're Adopting books. Instead, I have read many, many books about parenting adopted children and we continue to go through the challenges that is involved with raising a child who has spent most of their formative years in different orphanages. By the way, thank you to all of the people who've offered suggestions on books and articles to read.

When people hear our story, we get a variety of responses (some of which I've written about), but most of them tend to fall into the "More power to you" sort or the, "Wow, I could never do what you guys are doing" type. And, if you had asked me a year ago, if I could deal with what we have dealt with during these first few months, I would've said that I couldn't either.

Some have commented that I have far more patience than they do and that was why God knew to put Cava in our home. I have to correct them. No, it's not because I have more patience that God gave us Cava, but because I needed to learn patience. And I struggle to learn that lesson every day. But more than teaching me patience, God gave us Cava because Cava needed us. I will repeat what I have said before, "He wasn't born to us but he was born for us."

So as I turn another year older, I will answer what I am continually asked by people, "Knowing what you know now, would you still do it all over again?" ABSOLUTELY!

Adoption is not about getting a perfect child, but getting the child God has for you.

I don't know what our first year together as a new and improved family has in store for us, but I do know and trust that God is continuing a good work in all of us and that our hope is, ultimately, in Him.

Thank all of you who have been following us through this first year of the blog. We deeply, deeply appreciate and value all of you and the love, support, prayers, e-mails, and comments we have gotten. There are days when we have felt alone and down and your comment or e-mail has provided us encouragement. We are so grateful for all of you.


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    1. hank you so much for shearing our experience so openly! your blog is like a precious jewel for us!

      we're just at the beginning of our adoption journey. waiting for our home study and the upcoming educational seminar in May. we're really looking towards the adoption and praying for that. at the same time we're having lots of questions, sometimes fears of the unknown.

      most of the people do finish their blogs on the day they bring their adopted child home. some would share some pictures of their "true American" child. but they don't share what happens the day, the month, the year after.
      your blog tells the real story. and on the one hand it prepares us towards what's coming, but on the other hand provides a great example of how to deal with what's coming.

      in some of your posts you've mentioned some books that you've read and where helpful for you. would you, please consider making a list of those?

      God bless you!


  2. Happy blogiversary!!! You are touching so many lives by sharing your experiences with us. I know you have changed mine. God bless the Blackwell family.

  3. Thank YOU for sharing your journey! Your honesty about what this side of adoption is really like is SO refreshing, and so important for those thinking about adoption AND those home (and probably struggling). Love that you tell it as it is, and not as what everyone wants to hear.
    Happy Blogoversary!

  4. It's overwhelming to read all of your comments. Thanks to each of you for writing them. When I read them I am amazed at how God has used this blog to reach others in so many areas of the world. I realize that this is all God and I give Him the glory. Just know that I not only appreciate your taking the time to write and tell us what our blog means to you, but that your blogs do the same for us. I pray for each of your families daily. God bless you and I believe that you are all blessings to us.