Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Monday, October 28, 2013

Orderly House, Orderly Heart

Life sometimes gets out of order. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know this.

As humans living in a world tainted by sin, we experience events, emotions, hurt and situations that spiral our worlds into a disordered blur. Much like a child's bedroom may often look like a tornado has swept through and disrupted the order of his or her belongings, sometimes our lives can look the same way.

When processing through adoption, disorder is inevitable. There are so many details to handle - physically, spiritually, and emotionally - that our world can seem like a tornado has picked up us and tossed us miles from the order that we used to know. Good, orderly days happen. And then... the tornado strikes.

This past weekend, after watching a movie that got my emotions all in a bunch, I drove home in tears, attempting to process why I was feeling the way that I was or why I felt like I needed to hide those moments.

When I arrived at home, I quickly rushed inside and began to do what I almost always do in moments like these: I cleaned my kitchen. About halfway through scrubbing my sink, I began to ask myself why cleaning the kitchen was the one thing that I always gravitated toward when my life or emotions spin out of control. And then it hit me...Disorder is not desired. It is not natural. It is not the way were designed to be. Yet this was the effect that sin brought into my world.

Yet, because of the disorder, humans are naturally inclined to search for order. We take whatever we can find that provides answers or peace - even if it's not always the right place to find these things - to bring order into our worlds. We are designed to want...to need order!

It began to make sense to me why I always seek out cleaning the kitchen: It's something that I can put into order. I have control over whether or not my kitchen is orderly or disorderly. 

And something about this act of cleaning and putting my home in order prepares my heart to place the emotional, spiritual, and physical things that I'm experiencing in to a position of order. In the midst of some semblance of order, my heart opens and I can ask questions and process thoughts in a different way. I can refocus my mind on where it should be or what I should be thinking. I can center my disorder back onto the one that created order.

I can began to reevaluate that maybe what may seem like disorder in my eyes, is perfect order in God's eyes. 

The idea of infertility and sometimes even adoption seems like a complete disordered mess in my own eyes based on the 'order' that I expected from my life. Yet, when I take the time to refocus my heart on God, I can see that this 'disorder' was God's order for my life all along...

These things going on inside of me are His order. They feel disorderly to me because their not 'normal' for our society and, yes, quite frankly, it's uncomfortable. But God is greater. He created order, therefore, He can make my disorder into order.

And I trust him fully with that task.

I would challenge you this week to evaluate the areas that you run to when you need order in your lives. I challenge you to consider what it is about that place, thing or person that gives you order. Fill in the blank for yourself: Orderly _______, Orderly heart. 

Then I challenge to you to seek the Lord's heart and to him if it's possible that you find as disorder could be his order.  This is a difficult question to ask, but the answers are far better than what we could have prepared for ourselves.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Adopt Together

Recently, Jarrod and I have been overwhelmed by how blessed we are with such an amazing community coming around and supporting us through our adoption! And overwhelmed is an understatement...

A couple weeks ago, we shared our news of adoption with our church family and what an amazing group of believers we have supporting us at Park Hills Church. And can I just say that it is so good to have it all out in the open and have people know what God's been doing in our lives.


And as if that wasn't enough, when we shared the news of our adoption over facebook with our friends and family near and far, along with a link to this website. In a matter of 30 minutes, we went from 2 page views in one day to over 2,000...


Woah.


In moments like this we have to stop and say thank you to those that are taking the time to encourage us, pray for us, support us financially, or pray about how they, personally, can join us on this journey. We could NOT do this without you.


And we say that so humbly...


We realize that there are so many people, places, and things that are vying for your time and your attention. So asking you to think about one more thing is a lot. And I promise that we understand that. 

But, we realize that this adoption journey is so much bigger than us. 

In fact, we realize that from the very beginning of this process we weren't doing this alone. There's birth parents involved in this. There's us, the adoptive parents, involved in this. There's the baby. There's supporters. There's prayer warriors. 


I repeat...there's so much more than us.


And so we would humbly like to ask you to join us on this process. 


We are first, and foremost, in need of people to join us in prayer.

It is through prayer that we can daily (maybe sometimes evenly hourly) place all of the details of our adoption in the hands of our Lord and ask him to orchestrate it all. It is through prayer that we can shower everyone involved in this process in the presence of the Lord. And it is through prayer that we confirm and illustrate the Lord's power in our life no matter what the circumstance.

Secondly, we are in need of help financially.

Yes - the reality is that adoption is expensive. However, as previously mentioned, we know that if the Lord has called us to adoption, then he will provide the means for us to get there. Therefore, all though I do worry sometimes about the finances, I can also confidently say that it does not scare us. If it scared us, we wouldn't be doing this.

With that in mind, we would humbly ask you to prayerfully consider supporting us financially if you are willing and able. Any size gift makes a huge difference! We appreciate every penny equally.


We are pleased to announce that you are able to support us financially by making a tax-deductible donation through our funding organization, AdoptTogether. Donations can be made online by visiting www.adopttogether.com/stichter. Or donation checks can be mailed to:


AdoptTogether

Attn: Jarrod & Amanda Stichter Adoption
251 W. Central Avenue #278
Springboro, OH 45066

(When making a donation online you will instantly receive a receipt. When mailing a check, you will be mailed a receipt at the end of the year for tax purposes.)


There will also be a couple of fundraisers that we will be doing to raise the finances for our adoption. Please visit the fundraising tab for more details.


So ... we humbly ask that, if you are willing, would you join us on this journey? Would you subscribe to our blog and read and pray through our updates? Would you consider attending our fundraiser(s?)? Would you pray with/for us, the birth mom, our baby and the many, many details involved in this process?

It is only through the grace of God that we can write this today and it is only through Him that we ask you to experience the miracle of adoption with us.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

In Other Words: An Open Letter to the 9,999 Who Don't Adopt Davion

If you watch the news, I'm sure you heard the story of a sweet 15-year old orphan that went before a church in St. Petersburg, FL to plead for a family to adopt him and left without one. This morning, I read the below blog post from Susan's, our adoption consultant's blog, My {Grace Filled} Mess

It's a beautiful picture of hope and the reality of adoption. I encourage you to read, ponder, and pray through the below article.



Taken from My {Grace Filled} Mess:

For several days now, I've been thinking about the phenomenon that has swept the nation.  They're calling it the "Davion Effect" with thousands of families calling to adopt the boy who asked for a family recently in a church.
"I'll take anyone," Davion said during his plea at the Saint Mark Missionary Baptist Church in St. Petersburg, Florida. "Old or young, dad or mom, black, white, purple. I don't care. And I would be really appreciative. The best I could be."
My friend, Susan Michelle Tyrell, wrote an excellent piece today (first published here at Live Action News) and beautifully put into words the thoughts that have been swirling around in my head about Davion, the orphan crisis in America, and our response.


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To the other 9,999 who expressed interest in adopting Davion Navar Henry Only, the 15-year old orphan who went to church to plead for a family and left without one:
According to ABC News you flooded the phone lines and the email until the adoption agency in charge of Davion’s case was “overwhelmed” and nearly crashed from the traffic. And hundreds of you reportedly said you wanted to get information about adopting other children, so maybe I’m only writing to 9,499 of you.
Remember when the agency said to contact someone in your city because “there are Davions in every city in America.” They weren’t kidding. According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services child welfare division, on September 30, 2011, there were an estimated 400,540 children in foster care. The data varies slightly, but 400,000 is a consistent estimate.
Now, of those more than 400,000 children, some are in temporary placements and will be reunited with their family, but 9 percent were in institutions and 6 percent were in group homes. To put that in perspective, that means over 36,000 children would then be in institutions and over 24,000 in group homes. Davion is one of those; his plea is to know a family and not only a group home.
The same is true for many others. The HHS report says of those 400,000, 25 percent had a goal, a hopeful outcome, of adoption.
Those are numbers, numbers you maybe can’t immediately see behind the face of this sweet boy who managed to articulate his need. If you can, remove yourself from the raw data and picture 100,000 (25%) children without stable homes, whether their parents are alive or just incapable of care.
recent story in USA Today reports that the median age of these children is 8 ½, and the story quotes an adoption director, saying, “Older children in foster care and families who adopted kids need more help.”
Older adoptees will likely have more issues when they come to you. They have problems sometimes after being outside a family situation for a while, or maybe, like Davion, forever. They may have been ripped away from someone they loved or may be dealing with intense issues of attachment to caregivers. These are problems that make a lot of people reticent, scared even. But they are kids, and they need someone to fight for them.
Can you actually picture 100,00 children? Imagine a broad expanse of land. There stands line upon line of children, babies to 17-year-olds. Most of them between 8-9. They want a family. They want the pro-life Bible verses and theology to be true after they were born. They need families. They would likely agree with Davion who says,
I’ll take anyone. Old or young, dad or mom, black, white, purple. I don’t care. And I would be really appreciative. The best I could be.
He adds,
If you can, reach out and get me and love me until I die.

Is there anyone alive who wouldn’t want to know someone loved him or her until death? Many take it for granted, but not foster kids, not orphans. It touches me, as an adult adoptee who knows the desires to have a family. You see, this one is personal, and that’s why I write this not only with statistics that bring the reality home, but with a heart that knows what it’s like to be a child longing for that. The devastating pain is preventable, for Davion and for the other thousands.
When I read that you flooded phones and almost crashed a website with your heart for Davion, it encouraged me that families still exist who might fight for these who are not often the subject of the fight. They need that. They don’t need us to cry over sob stories or argue why it’s too hard to change our lives to love them.
Like Davion who says he will take anyone who will love him until he dies, so will most of these 100,000. Even when the issues are too big for our minds, or seem like too much to handle, that doesn’t invalidate all those Scriptures in the Bible. If we fight for all babies to be born, we have to have a place to put them – a good, healthy, loving, and deeply committed place. Natural parents rarely feel equipped for what’s coming. Parenting is on-the-job training for the willing.
While everyone does not have to adopt, and everyone shouldn’t, a whole lot more probably can than think they can. So to the thousands of you who called the Florida agency, who previously hadn’t even begun the adoption process, if Davion doesn’t come to your home, will you invest in that process for another Davion who hasn’t become famous for wanting a family?
When the publicity dies down and American celebrates the orphan who found a home, will you be behind the scenes still pursuing an orphan who needs a home? What about those 24,000 in group homes who long to know what it’s like to be special, who maybe wonder why they were born only to love in a group setting and then age-out and be sent away on their own? Can we really celebrate like all the orphans are saved when 100,000 of them still need a family?
Within church culture, the concept of “the family of God” is stated as a reality, but without adoption – the very thing on which Christianity is founded in the sense of Jesus giving his life to allow others to be adopted into the family of God – without that, the family of God becomes more like a Christian club. Being pro-life has to mean being pro-adoption – and that’s more than a sentiment. Adoption doesn’t happen because we like the idea or quote a verse about orphans. Adoption happens when people like you, people who found a place in their hearts for Davion, pursue that place for the child who may be yours soon. Adoption happens when you find that pregnant woman and offer to help her and adopt her baby – and care for her as well; that’s family. Adoption happens when family becomes more than flesh and blood even when it doesn’t look like what we imagined, even when our schedule changes, even when our comfort changes. Even when it changes forever.

Regardless of religious values, the reality is that there are children in need. The arguments on theology are irrelevant when you picture that expanse laden with children in need.
“It’s not really cool not to have anybody,” Davion says.

So to you, the 9,999 who don’t end up adopting him, please don’t quit. Please consider keeping that paperwork in motion – or starting it now – and searching your hearts and the foster care system.
Look again at that mass of children on the wide expanse, and now imagine adults walking in. From all sides, they come and take children, one-by-one, or three-by-three, and they walk off, away from the expanse and into a home. You can be a part of that.
Please, ask yourself what opened your heart to Davion. If that was a true desire to love an orphan, don’t let that die out in the aftermath of publicity over one. Be the one for the next one.
There are thousands of Davions out there. They need you.


About the writer: Susan was born in Bethlehem to an unwed mother and rescued by Catholic nuns who took her to an orphanage in Bethlehem, which still helps single moms and rescues babies. Today she's an outspoken advocate for LIFE and speaks and writes about pro-life issues nationwide.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Out of Our Hands

I am a control person... Or maybe I shouldn't say control, but I like to 'get things done' in my time. Yep, okay I suppose that's the definition of being a 'control person.' I like to take what's in my control and do it to the best of my ability and get it done in a timely fashion.

In my theory of getting things done, when I'm done with my part and it's handed off to someone/something else, it will move quickly because I put it in motion to move that way... 


It would be an understatement to say that adoption has really tested that theory of mine...


When we first received our adoption paperwork my goal was to complete it as quickly as possible. I didn't want the process to be waiting on us. I was determined that we would do everything in our power to knock out that paperwork in record time and then turn it in, while the social workers grinned at my perfect ability to get things done. Ha... Yes, I'm laughing at that absurd and unrealistic though even now. 


So, naturally, when it came in the mail, Jarrod and I set to work.


And then the hand cramps set in...


And life hit...


And the answers were difficult to come up with...


Needless to say, my plan to turn the paperwork in in two weeks disappeared and I got frustrated. I got frustrated with Jarrod and I got frustrated at myself for my lack of diligence... But in those moments, if I do something to accomplish what I want finished, I can ignore those feelings. 


We went and got the notarized papers notarized. We went and got the witnessed papers witnessed. We dotted the i's and crossed the t's and sealed the envelope ready to go.



Completed paperwork ready to go.

So four weeks later the paperwork was finally finished. Only two weeks past my deadline. But hey, it was done nonetheless. 


It just so happened that Jarrod and I were driving into Chicago for an evening before we both had work conferences. I thought, "Oh we'll just bring the paperwork with us and send it in from the hotel." So I did.


And in the frenzy of the conference, I forgot to mail it.


And then when I left the hotel, I forgot the entire packet of paperwork at the hotel in Chicago, while we left for Atlanta. Realizing a day later what I had done, I pretty much panicked.


Reality set in. Control was no longer in my hands. I had to wait for the paperwork to be found. I had to wait for FedEx to call to arrange shipment. I had to wait for it to arrive in Atlanta. I had to wait... (Are you seeing a theme here?)


And it was then that I was reminded that this is so much bigger than my control or need to 'get things done.' Maybe I needed to let go a little and let it just happen when it happened.


When we received the paperwork back, there was truly only one thing left 'to do' and that was to hand the rather large packet of paperwork over to our social worker last night at our final adoption training class. It was a good feeling to get that out of my hands and have that part done. 


Yet, as soon as the packet left my palm, I felt the gut wrenching reality that there was nothing more I could do to 'move this along'. Someone else was in control of the process now. (In fact, side note, I was pleasantly reminded during that time that we can't officially be licensed and begin waiting to be matched until the government shut down ends...that was a slap in the face after all our hard work.)


That's difficult for me to process and handle. Jarrod, on the other hand, continues to remind me that God's got this and he's already got the perfect timing mapped out. (On a side note, I have the most amazing, patient husband ever. He balances these control things for me.)


And I remind myself of that every day. That God's got it.


So off with the paperwork goes my need to 'got it.'


He's got it. 


God's got it.


And, I don't need to 'got it.'


My hands are open and waiting for more 'to do', yet we trust Him in all the timing.













Officially handing over the paperwork.

Prayer Requests 10/15/13

  • That the paperwork will be processed in the right timing and schedule our home study visits
  • That we will be able to proceed despite the government shut down
  • That we will open up our hearts and hopeful timelines and let God's timing rule. Because He's got it.
  • That the fundraisers we are beginning to plan will be successful to pay for the next upcoming payments for agency applications.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Jarrod & Amanda: An Adoption Story

We are a part of an amazing church, Park Hills Church, that strongly supports adoption and the families that have gone or are going through the process. The video below was filmed and shared with our church this morning to announce and inform them about what God has been doing in our lives. Please check it out for a little bit more 'personal' feel. 


Jarrod and Amanda: An Adoption Story-Full Interview from Park Hills Church on Vimeo.

Prayer Requests (10/6/2013)

  • Moving through the process and getting licensed through our Home Study
  • The emotions as we continue to process all the details involved in this - for the good days and the hard days
  • The birthmom, baby, extended families, travels to and from and raising of finances to be able to be matched to a baby

Friday, October 4, 2013

Adoption Family Photos

Jarrod and I recently had the blessing of connecting with Dustin & Katie Ludwig. Dustin is an amazing  photographer (www.dustinludwig.com) and they were generous enough to agree to work with us for our adoption. We will be using these pictures when announcing our adoption to others and in creating our profile book that will be shown to birthmoms as they consider us to adopt their sweet baby.

Now it's no secret that I love pictures so this session was so fun for me and I know that Jarrod had a lot of fun too! Plus Dustin & Katie made us feel so comfortable! I am blown away by how beautifully they turned out and am so excited to share them with you! 


Also I may have squealed with excitement when I saw some of them because I loved them that much!


















Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Treasure

After a month of feeling really good about what was going on, the hard days officially hit this weekend.

Needless to say…I lost it.

I was a mess of tears and feelings.

Sometimes the moments of hurt just slap you across the face and there’s no way to not respond or to hold it in.

But I’m a firm believer that it’s okay to respond and to feel.

Someone very special to me once told me that sometimes it’s important…even needed…to sit in the dissonance of our emotions and to settle into the discomfort. It teaches us something and pushes us out of our comfort zones. It causes us to have reliance in an entirely different way than in the comfortable moments.

Being aware of the moments of tension in our lives causes us to examine our moments of comfort. And yet it changes our comfort levels at the same time.

It forces a different sort of processing.

So it’s okay to feel the sadness, the pain and distress, the jealousy, the desire to pull away, the fear, and so many more emotions…

Because feeling all of this causes me to continue to fall back down on my knees and trust that God’s got it all in his hands. It’s not that I’m not relying on Him in the good moments of rejoicing. But the difficult moments display a different kind of reliance: I’m reminded how little I can do on my own and how much I need Him to guide me through this.

The below video stopped me in my tracks tonight… It’s the reminder that I needed.



A quote from the video says this, “I want to be the type of man that the more I lose the more I worship God. Because the more I lose in this world, the more of a treasure He becomes to me in this moment.”

Profound huh? This describes it – what I am experiencing in my pain.

My reliance is in Jesus, but as the things that I would naturally find my identity in as a woman are stripped away, I find more and more of a treasure in what Jesus did, who he is and what he offers me.

Then the video says, “Jesus is more present in our brokenness. The gospel is more real and on greater display when we are broken than at any other time.”

So there’s hope. Hope that he can use this situation for his glory…even if I never know what that glory is.

Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

I’m continually learning how to be comfortable in my discomfort and pain. But there’s comfort in that fact that God’s doing something through it. So I'll learn to be okay in my dissonance and find my treasure in him...For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.