Archive for August, 2011

Paperwork, that is.  We’ve been doing a whole lot of paperwork lately.

We’ve been working on a grant application that is due this week.  There was plenty of chasing down paperwork and crunching of numbers which had to be done.  They required a letter from the pastor attesting to our incredible character.  But I am the pastor.  So, they had us ask an elder to do one on the church letterhead.  The problem with our 2010 tax return, which has not been submitted due to the adoption refund, came back to haunt us so to speak.  We had our CPA fax us a letter explaining why we were not sending them a copy of our 2010 tax return.

Everything seemed to be resolved until I went to look for my 2009 W-2s.  I have the tax return, but somehow misplaced the W-2s.  Thankfully our CPA come to the rescue again.  He scanned them and e-mailed them so we could include them in the application for the grant.

Please pray that our hard work is worth it  besides the sanctifying work that was (hopefully) done in our hearts.

This morning I got a less pleasant call from the CPA.  The scanner had issues with some of the receipts we sent for our aforementioned adoption refund.  I would have to re-scan some things.  I would have to identify the exchange rate so he could know some of the amounts spent in China.  We also had to conjure up a copy of the decree and its translation.  More angst.

Then we came across the “donation certificate”.  It may be called a donation, but without it we aren’t bringing the boy home.  $3,000.  This may make our task much simpler (please, Jesus, please).  Then Amie found a letter that served as a record of the financial transactions with the adoption agency.  That amount was well over $9,000.  This put us well over the maximum for the adoption refund.  Instead of sorting through all the other receipts for postage, consulate fees etc.  all we may have to send is those 2 things along with the decree.

Big sigh of relief.  Maybe.


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The Great Name Game

Yeah, we’re all over the naming thing.  We chose Micah for Marina.

We’re struggling with Mervie.  I jokingly call him Bo-Ash-Phin.  A cramming together of Boaz, Asher and Phinneas.  Phinneas is her favorite.  But the 2 in the Bible are a mixed review.  One was zealous for the Lord, and the other zealous …. for himself.

So, the 3 current choices are:

Benaiah = “Jehovah has built” or “Yahweh has built up”
1)    one of David’s mighty warriors, son of Jehoiada the chief priest, a Levite, set by David over his bodyguard, later having remained faithful to Solomon during Adonijah’s attempt on the crown, was raised into the place of Joab as commander-in-chief of the army

Boaz = “fleetness”
1)    ancestor of David, kinsman-redeemer to Ruth, daughter-in-law of Naomi

Asher = “happy”

1) son of Jacob by one of the surrogates.

I’m not sold on Ben, but I like the character.  He’s one of my favorite minor Bible characters.  He’s one of the Mighty Men, and there’s something I like about that.

But we are at a stalemate right now.

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Amie came across this video, where Mark Schultz talks about his own sense of abandonment as an adopted child.  He received wise counsel and it ended up as a new song- Everything to Me.  Here is his story:

We’ll have to save this for our soon-to-be daughter.  She knew her mom.  She’ll struggle with this.  But her mom loved them both enough to know when to give them a chance at a better life.  That has to be one of the most difficult decisions anyone ever has to make.  But sometimes you can barely take care of yourself, forget 2 children.

I’ve had some people say something along the lines of “there are kids here that you could adopt.”  Yes, there are and it would not be wrong to adopt them.  They need forever families too.  Each adoptive family will have their own decision making grid.  Part of mine is comparing where these children have come from and what they will probably experience if not adopted by us.  A child in the foster care system has got it much better than an orphan in a place like the DRC- all things being equal.  By God’s grace we are reaching “deeper down” and lifting them higher.  We can only adopt so many kids- and for me, this makes more sense.

Pregnant women have three options.  So did we: do nothing, adopt domestically and adopt internationally.  We chose to adopt internationally.  What will you do?

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At some point Grand Funk Railroad’s Mark Farner became a Christian.  I was never a GFR fan, but I picked up his solo album Just Another Injustice and enjoyed it.  I can’t seem to find a video for the title song, so Judgement Day Blues will have to do.

What brings this up?  The great differences in process for people seeking to receive their adoption tax credit.  Our taxes haven’t even been filed because our accounting firm is waiting to find out what “additional information” is needed.  The IRS office they’ve been working with has not been clear.  You reply and wait until they get to you.

There are a large number of frustrated people out there.  But some have experienced a rather smooth process.  One couple that traveled with Amie to China adopted from the Congo in 2010.  They got their adoption refunds without a problem.  No questions asked.

But the other extreme seems far more common on the adoption boards.  I hesitate to link. While I wonder how our government can afford this, I also know they made a promise to citizens.  The IRS, in many cases, is resisting the law passive-aggressively.  Some offices appear to be holding up the process without clearly communicating what additional documentation is needed to verify the adoption refund (my accountant has scanned copies of all our receipts ready to go).

I’m just wondering at what point do we call our elected officials to let them know how citizens, rightfully expecting the government to obey it’s own tax laws, are being delayed, put off and more.  Some agents are doing their job well.  But some are making the lives of citizens unnecessarily miserable.

I happen to be preaching on James 5:1-6 this week.  Part of it says:

4Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts (armies).

So, someone greater than our elected officials hears our cries.  I take comfort in this.

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The time for the long-anticipated decision has come.  We, through our agents, contacted both TLC and Discovery about a show to “unveil” the decision with proceeds to go toward the program fees for the adoption.  We had some great ideas to fill a 30 minute show, building tension and anticipation.  We showed them power point presentations and how great we all were at acting.

But… they turned us down.  So all we have is this blog post to announce to the zillions of people following our journey toward adopting again.  Do you want me to go on like this for about 30 minutes so you can pretend it is on cable tv?  I thought so.

Watching out for her little brother

We have decided to adopt the children currently know as Marina and Mervie.  Marina is a 4 year-old girl, and Mervie is her 1 year-old (half?) brother.  I’m still trying to figure out how the names work there.  Her legal name is Micheline, but somehow that has morphed into Marina.

We are not sure which of their names we’ll keep, or what we will name them.  The naming efforts, after a hiatus, have resumed.  And we are making about as much headway as Republicans and Democrats these days.

Amie has mentioned the possibility of having a fund raiser to choose who goes to the DRC to pick up our new children.  Something like each vote is $5.  Perhaps it would provide 10% of the airfare necessary to travel there and back.  Then again…

Jadon is quite excited to have another brother and another sister.  She really wants a sister, somehow thinking that a sister will be more compliant than a brother to her wishes.  She’s old enough for the 2 of them to share a room.

Marina’s had a hard life, I’m sure.  So pray for her and her adjustment.  They have lived with their mother and grandmother.  It sounds like there has been no stability as far as men have been concerned.  But things reached the point that she is unable to care for her children properly. We are excited about what God can begin to do in them through His people.

The process isn’t done.  Now we wait again.  As noted above, one of us will travel around the new year to take care of the legal stuff on that end and bring the children home.  Like any pregnant couple, we have time to prepare rooms, have the bunk beds we bought off Craig’s List refinished etc.

On the other end, they should have enough food, love and care.  She will receive some lessons in elementary English to help ease her transition.  We’ll send a picture so she can learn who we are.  Pray for the stability of the region so everything happens in a timely fashion- no small order these days.

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I’m wrestling with all of this more than Amie is.  As husband and father who is the provider, I think of the money.  Both the additional money to adopt 2 kids instead of one, and the additional money to raise those kids.  Many people face this when they get the news twins are on the way.  The difference being I can decide if I want to add 1 or 2 right now.

Sometimes God doesn’t play fair.  Or at least it seems that way.  He’s got incredible moves none of us can counter.  “Reading” providence is a risky proposition.  I hesitate when someone says “God told me to…”.  I’m a Presbyterian, though I’ve had some very unpresbyterian moments.  But those are extraordinary, not to be expected.  God doesn’t provide big neon signs.  Unlike in the In Plain Sight episode we watched last night, we have no “spirit guide dog.”


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Steve Taylor’s first EP had a silly rap song (with a serious topic) with that title.  It was about facing the moment of death, when you discover you were wrong about Jesus.  I’m using it for the moment of decision.  That day has arrived.  Our number in the queue has come up.  Unlike the deli, where you have plenty of time to figure out what you want, we are caught in a quandary.  It is one we did not expect, and did not want.

Before I get there, Steve and his wife are among the number of musicians who are Christians living in Nashville that have adopted.  The most prominent, of course, is Steven Curtis Chapman.  But artists like Geoff Moore and Arlin Troyer (now a PCA pastor) are included in the mix.  Christ Community Church in Nashville, whose preaching pastor is Scotty Smith, is one of the churches in the PCA that has cultivated a culture of adoption.  Great stuff!

Looking back at our first adoption, we did not want to be in a position where we were deciding between kids.  We wanted God to use means to say “this is it”.  I guess I’m fooling myself abit.  We did decide between kids since we did a special needs adoption.  We chose Eli, he was not picked for us.  You get a horrible feeling, or at least I do, holding the fate of others in my hands.  If it doesn’t scare you, I suspect it should.

So here we are, and the ante has been upped.  We were asked about a sibling group recently.  And then our number came up and we were also asked offered a particular child for referral.  Now we have to sort this out.  We have to decide who will and will not be in our family.  It doesn’t just affect them, but our family and other families.  Call me crazy, but I’m really intimidated.

In some ways this day came too slow, but thanks to the IRS dragging their feet on the 2010 Adoption Refund it has come far too fast.  But we’ve been able to borrow some money from family.  We had an interesting time looking for adoption loans yesterday.  You can get a car loan easier, and at a lower rate.  In many ways, it was disappointing.  But we are borrowing against our tax refund.  So now we have been given a power no one should enjoy.  Pray for us… and we’ll let you know in a few days what happens.

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