Friday, November 13, 2015

I am blown away

We were able to arrange English tutoring for the boys.
As most of you know, adoption is very expensive. It doesn't make sense to most of us, there are kids who need families and families who want them. They cost governments money to keep them longer. But, I digress. The bottom line is that everything about this is expensive, and I am not in charge. The other issue is that adoption wasn't on our radar. We did have some money saved up that we have now earmarked for the adoption and we are prepared to do whatever it takes to bring them home, but the cost is staggering! Even though I trust that this is not our plan, and God has this all figured out, I still wish I knew all the details.

We had decided to host the kids for a month over Christmas, since the adoption was taking longer than originally thought. Orphanages in Ukraine close for the holidays to give the workers vacation. This means that the orphans are sent off to camps. We did not want our kids sent off to camp, we wanted them here, with us. Safe, warm and well-fed for the holidays. So, when the opportunity to host became available, we decided we would move forward in faith with our "yes". I was doing really well with this faith move as I filled out all the paperwork and did the additional training. My faith lasted, until it was time to send the check and buy the plane tickets. It costs $2900 per child to host for Christmas. This gets them as far as Dallas, Texas. One of us needs to go to Texas to get the children, bring them home and then return them again in January. Texas is far and weather is dicey in December and January, so driving was ruled out. That means 5 round-trip tickets to Texas, and $8700 to host. This is on top of the cost of adoption. 

I wish I could say I didn't, but I spent most of two days worrying a whole lot more than praying. During this time, I found and reserved surprisingly affordable non-stop flights from Madison to Dallas. Yet, I still worried. Reasonable flights still add up when you need 5 of them. My worrying wasn't entirely over financial needs. Even though my health is greatly improved, I was concerned I wouldn't be up for this challenge. Mike was scheduled to work a 12 hour shift on the 18th of December, so it would be me traveling all day to get the kids on the 17th. I would need to arrive at the airport around 6am and would not get back to Madison airport until 11:30pm. Then, I would be alone the following day with 6 kids, three of whom would be jet-lagged, while Mike worked. This would have seemed daunting before my illness, let alone now. Post-tumor Natasha requires about 10 hours of sleep a night to be my best self. How would this all work out? 

After two days of trying to figure this all out with human limitations, I threw my hands up and got real with God again. 
N: Ok, God, I am writing the check today. I still don't know how we are going to do all of this. If you want us to do this, you are going to have to provide the means. I don't have enough money, energy or help to pull this one off. If the answer should be "no" because of these things, you have to be clear because I am not getting it. I am writing the checks now, mailing them and then I will buy the plane tickets. None of this is refundable, God. Thanks.
G: silence
Then, I wrote the checks and mailed them. This was super, duper hard for me. 

Natalie, my sister, suggested that I post my worry and let people know the costs, both material and physical that we were facing. She also let me know that my family had been talking behind my back. They had all (my parents, siblings and nieces and nephews) decided to forego exchanging gifts this Christmas. Instead, they would donate the money they had planned to spend to our adoption and hosting expenses. I was floored. As their donations started coming in, so did many of yours. For the next three days, I was getting steady emails notifying me of donations. At one point, all emails on my screen were donations! By the end of 36 hours, enough people had joined us in this journey financially that the hosting and plane ticket costs were covered. Whoa!

Also during this time, my mom called and told me she wanted to buy a ticket and meet me at the Dallas airport. She would hang out with the kids and I and then fly home after we were Madison-bound. What a relief, one more hurdle covered. My uncle called me about an hour later and said he wanted to drive to Texas from Kansas and do the same. Super cool. Then, a little while later, Mike told me that one of his partners wanted to change shifts with him, allowing him to be home the first day the kids are home. I only had one more concern and that was the return trip to Texas. I had been informed that we needed to be there the night before their flight home. This meant I would have to fly the kids to Texas on the 14th, get a hotel, entertain them all day at the hotel and then the airport until their flight to Ukraine at 4:15pm on the 15th, then fly home myself. I knew I would be drained both emotionally and physically by this trip, and then fly home alone--knowing I had just put my kids on a  plane back to a less than ideal situation. You will never guess what happened next, a friend offered to buy her own flight and join me on the return trip. Just like that, every single seemingly unsurmountable wall crumbled! 

The boys' room, with donated beds & bedding.
This month, our family has been doing at least one Lutes Love Moment per day. A random act of kindness to brighten the world. We feel so blessed and loved and want to give others a reason to be thankful this month. Every day, no matter what act we carry out, big or small, we are out-blessed. Every single day, we are blown away by how much so many people are helping our family help these kids. We have had work days at our house to get it ready for three more people, we have had beds, clothes, toys donated. We have had people praying for us. We have had people completing paperwork requirements for us. We have had people printing out the mountains of paperwork required since our printer broke and it has been a ridiculous journey to remedy this. We have had people think of ways to be helpful that we hadn't even thought of. So, so much to be thankful for this year. 

I would like to say that I will do better on my next faith challenge. It is so much easier when it is far in the future or I have a backup plan. Why is it so hard to let go and trust?! Yet, when I finally do, I love the details He has planned for us. The plan is so much bigger and grander than I would have imagined. Just, wow!

If you are reading this and would like to help us cover the costs of adopting these amazing kids, here is the link to our fundraising page. All donations are tax-deductible, and grants cannot exceed actual costs for adopting. Thank you!