Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Matthew Paul McDowell

We finally decided on an official name! Bryon and I have discussed names a few times, but we knew with him being "Paulius" for five years, that we should keep Paul as part of his name. Matthew was the first name that we both agreed on for his first name. We have now submitted both our I-800a Supplement 3 to update our home study and the I-800 application. They were sent about a week apart and we just received the I797c stating the the first has been received and in the process of being approved. I learned that our agency's branch license comes up for renewal on 11/30/11. If our I800 isn't approved and submitted to Lithuania and a court date not assigned by 11/30, then we will have to wait for the agency to go through their annual audit and renewal process! This would destroy any hopes of our son coming home before Christmas. My heart just hurts thinking that we could have to wait another 3-4 months as a result.... our agency has costs us so much precious time and been the source of months and months of delays! Our 3rd caseworker quit on Oct. 14 and now our case is up in the air yet again! We have not been assigned a new caseworker yet. This is driving me crazy! While I will always be an advocate for adoption, I can not recommend our agency to anyone with a good feeling in my heart. It just makes me sick to my stomach to think of people getting involved with such as unstable organization while children's lives are at stake! I will just keep praying that we encounter no more delays and can complete this soon so we can graciously part ways.

On a happier note, I have a huge praise report! We received an anonymous donation from someone through our church. It was such a huge blessing and God couldn't have picked a better time to lift our spirits and show us that He will remain faithful and complete this work that He has begun in us. One thing that I have learned is that you should never enter into something like this without seeking God through every step. If not for faith in what God has planned for this little boy and our family, I would have given up months ago! I know we have many, many more challenges and we work hard to bring healing to our son... yes, healing! This is not some "oh, you are so sweet to adopt this little boy" mission. It is not that simple. Children from institutions like where Matthew has grown up have many challenges ahead. Many have never bonded with an adult and find any physical contact uncomfortable... imagine it taking months before you can even hold or hug the child you have adopted! This is just one of the realities that we could face. Families that adopt need months and months of prayer and help from friends and extended family. It is not easy, and it can take months... even years before an adopted child learns to trust his/her adoptive parents. Some may never feel truly safe in their new environment and could need years of therapy to help them overcome their painful past. These are some things that we would like our friends and family to be aware of and be understanding of as we approach Matthew's homecoming. I am also one that likes to do everything myself and never likes to ask for help. Let me just go ahead and throw this out there... please don't wait for me to ask for help. Don't even ask me if I need help. I will probably tell you "no" and that everything is fine, but let me tell you, I will probably be lying. Just don't give me the chance. Please, this is my plea now because I know I may be too overwhelmed when Matthew comes home or too ashamed to ask (because I feel like a failure when I can't do it all by myself!) Just show up and help where and when you can... pick my kids up from school, bring us dinner, help my kids with their homework so that I can focus on Matthew. Yes, this is my shameless plea for help down the road. I know I will need it and I know I will not ask for it, but for my sanity's sake, I am going to go ahead and ask now while I am strong enough to admit my weaknesses. :)

I hope to have more happy updates to come soon. I sent a letter with the I800 application pleading for them to expedite approval due to medical conditions. We are also gathering letters from the genetics team at Vanderbilt and from school explaining the necessity to get Matthew home as soon as possible so we can petition the judge to waive the appeal period, which requires us to return to the US for 40 days and then travel back to Lithuania to bring him home. We hope to have this second trip waived so that we can bring Matthew home on the first trip. A second trip would also require massive fundraising right over the Christmas holiday when most people are spending all their money on gifts. I am not confident that we could come up with the money for a 2nd visit as we still have about $5000-6000 left to raise to fund our first visit.

Please continue to pray for us, pray for Matthew and pray for our girls as this is not going to be any easy adjustment for them. The closer we come to travel, the closer we come to the reality that we are leaving our children behind for at least two, but likely three weeks. I hurts to think about being away from them that long... it kills me to think about it! Thanks for all the prayers.