Thursday, June 6, 2013

Caroline Faith's Referral Story!

I spent a lot of time yesterday trying to write out Caroline Faith's referral story.  Well, 16 pages of typing and over 10,000 words later, I think I have it all complete! :)  Yes, you could definitely say that God's amazing hand of faithfulness has been on our precious little girl!  He is writing an amazing story with her life, and the story's theme is His goodness, faithfulness, sovereignty and His perfect timing!!!

Jody and my Mom have both suggested that I should write a book about our journey one day.  And who knows?  Maybe God will provide that opportunity in the future.  With hundreds of blog posts, and 16 pages of her referral story, and over 3 years in this adoption process, I definitely think I would have lots of material to write the book with! :)

This will be the majorly "edited version" of her referral story.  There is a lot of information that I wrote about that cannot be put online, and we cannot post any pictures of her either.  She is not home with us yet, and we don't want to ever jeopardize anything in getting her home.  These are rules put in place by our adoption agency, and we want to respect them.  Thanks for understanding...

The Story of Caroline Faith's Referral

Dear Caroline Faith,

Today I want to share with you all of the amazing, God-ordained details of the day at we got “THE CALL” for you, sweet girl!  

Starting back in the spring of 2012, God had used bluebirds to remind me of His faithfulness, and that He would bring you home in His perfect timing.  Every time I saw a bluebird, I felt like it was a sign from the Lord that He was with you.  I began to see bluebirds often throughout March and April, and always at the exact time that I needed some encouragement from the Lord. I prayed that God would allow me to see a bluebird on the morning that we got the call for you! 

Another thing that I had always prayed was that we would never make it to #1 on the list.  I always prayed that we would get the call before we ever even knew were #1!!  Also, I had prayed for years that when I saw our daughter’s picture for the first time, that I would immediately just KNOW in my heart that you were ours!  

I had always felt like we would get “the call” sometime between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm our time, which is between 9:00 am and 12:00 pm, Pacific time in Portland, where AGCI is located.  So, every day as it hit 2:00, I would begin to lose hope, as I realized that was not the day.  I was really struggling emotionally as I waited on the Lord.  I wanted to continue to wait to see your precious face in a way that glorified Him.  I began to try to not wait by the phone every day, and instead just trust the Lord fully and live the life He was calling me to as we waited.  I finally got to a point where I surrendered you completely to the Lord.

It was around the end of April that I felt like my joy in the wait was coming back.  I had finally given you completely to the Lord, and I was determined to finish the wait in a way that honored the Lord.  We were excited that the school year was ending and our Memorial Day weekend vacation was approaching soon.  

Usually we go to Florida every year during the first week of June.  But back in February, we had called to get information to book a condo, but then neither one of us had a peace about moving forward with it.  Well, we finally decided to book a short vacation to go stay at the Grand in Fairhope, AL for 2 nights and then go down to Orange Beach for 2 nights on Memorial Day weekend.  We were excited to do something a little different this year!

Over the past several months of the wait, I began to get a strong sense from the Lord that Daddy was supposed to answer “the call” for you.  I told him about it, but he said he wanted me to answer it as this wait had been so hard and emotional for me.  But I still continued to feel like he was supposed to answer the phone.  I had almost emailed our case worker to ask her to call Daddy’s cell phone first, instead of mine, but I never did.  But I just really felt like Daddy was supposed to hear about you first!

I woke up early on the morning of Thursday, May 23rd to finish packing for our vacation.  We were trying to leave around 8:30 or 9:00 to head down to Fairhope.  It was kind of crazy getting all the last minute stuff packed in the car, and I was rushing around that morning.  I took a quick shower but did not wash my hair or anything, since we were going to hit the pool that afternoon.  I just threw my hair in a ponytail, and just decided to put on a little make up in the car when Daddy was driving.

I was hurriedly loading some stuff in the back of the car that morning when I heard a loud pecking sound.  I thought it might be a woodpecker up on our basketball goal in our front driveway.  It caught my attention so I looked out there and much to my surprise I saw that it was a bluebird!  It was sitting on the corner of the bottom of the roof of our house.  It must have been pecking on the gutter to make that loud of a sound.  I watched it for a few seconds, and then it just flew away right across our front yard.  Even in all the craziness of trying to get out the door on vacation, I could not help but smile and whisper, “Thank You, Jesus.”  I knew that He was with you.

We finally got all our stuff and all the kids loaded up in the car, and we were on our way to Fairhope!  We had never been there before, so we were excited to see what it was like.  We had just started out the trip when Daddy told me about a text he had gotten earlier that morning at 7:30 am from our campus pastor, Ken, who Jody works with.  I got tears in my eyes when Daddy read Ken’s text to me…

Strong sense to pray for your child in Ethiopia this am; for release to your arms; freedom, joy and life.  You and Alison r loved.”

It was so precious to me that God had prompted him to pray for our daughter that morning.  Well, a little while later at 10:04 am, I got a text from his wife, Kim…

“Hey!  Just wanted to wish u a happy happy vacation!  Hope you have a wonderful time away with ur family and that many laughs r had and many memories made.  Will pray for ya’ll while u r gone.  Much love!

I replied this back to her text at 10:47 am…

“Thank you so much, sweet friend!  We are really excited to get away for a few days!  Needing a little break from all the busyness!  Jody got the sweetest text from Ken this morning that God had placed our adoption process on his heart this morning and he was praying.  Jody read me the text and I got tears in my eyes!  So precious!!!”

Kim immediately texted me back…

“Oh, I’m so glad you told me.  Ya’ll must have been on both of our hearts cause I didn’t know he sent it and he doesn’t know I texted u.  Love that!  Next vacation will b with 4 sweet faces traveling with you! Thankful for ur family and feel so blessed to serve with u. Have so much fun!

I loved hearing that they had (unbeknownst to the other) separately texted us that they were praying for us that morning.  God had put us on both of their hearts at the same time, and they had both been faithful to pray for us, and let us know they were praying!  Precious!!!  

Daddy and I always get to have good conversations on road trips.  We got to talk a lot about you.  I told him that morning that I really thought we could have about 6-9 more months of waiting ahead of us, and that I was actually okay with it.  I told him how I had (finally!) given you completely to the Lord, and I had given up any sense of control that I thought I had on your situation.  Daddy reminded me of how I had to do the same exact thing 11 years ago, when we were first trying to have children.  The month that I finally gave everything to the Lord and stopped trying to plan and control it, the Lord blessed us with the news that your biggest sister was on the way!  Daddy said, “It will probably be that way again this time!”  I knew that he was right.  God could not bless us with you until we had completely given everything to Him and trusted Him fully for you!

Just the day before, our agency had released some new updates that the Ethiopia waitlist times were now extending to 2.5 to 3.5 years, and they would no longer be giving monthly waitlist numbers.  They also announced that they were capping the Ethiopia program except for waiting children.  It was a lot of tough news, but Daddy and I talked through it all in the car that morning.  We both agreed that this really did not change anything for us.  We knew that we were close to the top of the list.  We knew that God had called us to wait for you.  We had already made it 32+ months on the waitlist.  We knew that the Lord would be faithful to carry us through the rest of the wait, and bring you home to our family.

Well, we finally made to FAIRHOPE, ALABAMA!!!  We were so excited to be there!  And downtown Fairhope looked to be every bit as precious as we thought it would be!  It was almost 1:00 pm, and we were all hungry.  Daddy and I thought it would be a good idea to go ahead and eat lunch before we went to check in at the Grand. 

DeeDoc had told us about a little restaurant in the downtown area called Panini Pete’s Café and Bakeshoppe. 

We finally found it.  It was in a neat little area right off the main street called “The French Quarter”, and it really did remind us of New Orleans!  

We got to the restaurant and they seated us in this little glass covered, green wrought iron gazebo.  There were about eight tables or so in the gazebo.  It was such a cool atmosphere!  We sat down and started to look at the menu.  Everything looked really good!  Lots of paninis! :)  Our waitress came by to take our drink orders.  After she left, we looked at the menus again to try to decide what we wanted to order.

Thankfully, Daddy’s phone was sitting out on the table, and all of a sudden at 1:08 pm, it started vibrating.  A strange number popped up on his caller id, and it said Portland, OR under the number!  AGCI is located in Portland, Oregon!!!  He picked up the phone and showed it to me!  I was SHOCKED.  STUNNED.  My stomach started doing backflips!!!  I just KNEW this was it!  This was “THE CALL” about you, sweet girl!  This was THE CALL that we had been waiting on for over 32 months!!!

He tried to hand his phone to me to answer it, but I immediately gave it back to him, and said, “No, you need to answer it!”  Remember that feeling that God had given me several months ago that Daddy was supposed to take the call???  It was all playing out, and it felt completely surreal!!!

He answered the phone, and started to walk out of the gazebo to the courtyard area that was right outside the door.  I motioned for the kids to stay at the table, and I followed right out the door behind him.  I could hear him saying, “Hey, Melissa.  Yes, we would love to talk to you about a little girl!” ( Insert Mommy’s squeal right here!!! ) “Yes, Alison is with me.  Actually our whole family is together!  We are at a restaurant right now in Fairhope, Alabama!  We probably need to go check in to our hotel, so we can get our computer set up.  Okay, let me hand the phone to Alison so ya’ll can plan a time where we can talk to you about her.”

Then he handed the phone to me!  All this time, I am still in complete SHOCK!!!  I really felt like I was having an “out of body experience”! :)  We were standing in this gorgeous, green courtyard area on the phone with our AGCI case worker talking about you, our DAUGHTER!!!   It was completely surreal!

I picked up the phone and said, “Hey, Melissa!”  She said, “Hey, Alison!  THIS IS IT!!! This is the call you have been waiting on!!!”  I told her how I just could not believe it, and how I was just in total shock!   I was not expecting the call that day at all!  Of all the days I had woken up thinking this was the day, and then walked around with my phone glued to my hip, and was totally expecting my phone to ring…this was NOT that day!!!  :) 

I then asked her a few questions about you!  That is when we found out you were 9 months old, and some other specific, wonderful details!  We were so excited, and we began to try to figure out a time that would work for us to take the hour long referral call with Melissa.  We had not even ordered our food yet, and by now it was a little after 1:15 pm.  We still needed to eat lunch, and then go check in at the Grand and get the computer hooked up.  We finally decided for her to give us a call back at 3:00 pm.

Then we went back in to our table, and ordered our food, and began to tell the other kids everything that we knew about you!  They were so excited!  

We then realized that my phone was down in my purse the whole time, and I had MISSED THE CALL!!!  Melissa had called my cell phone at 1:05 pm, and I had not even heard it ring!  The phone call that I had been waiting on for SO LONG!  I couldn’t believe that I missed the call!  Your Aunt Laura later said that she loved “the fact that Alison probably for the first time in her life didn't have her phone in her pocket and had truly surrendered it all to Jesus.” :)

Our case worker, Melissa, even said later that she had to admit she was pretty shocked that I didn’t answer my phone!  And when we got home from vacation, we realized that she had called our home phone at 1:06 pm!  So, we had missed the first two calls for you, sweet girl.  But thankfully, Daddy answered his phone, and that’s just how it was always meant to be!!!  :)

We then tried to eat some lunch.  I think it was probably yummy, but I honestly could barely eat a bite!  I was just so excited, and my stomach was still doing flip flops!!!  I remember eating a few chips, and a bite of chicken off a panini.  I remember Carson complaining that he didn’t like his grilled cheese, so I gave him some turkey panini.  And I remember a french-fry falling in my iced tea!  Haha!  But other than that, I don’t remember anything about that meal.  All I could think about was YOU!!!

Before we left Panini Pete’s, we asked our waitress to take a picture of us!  I wanted to remember that moment forever!  We all have the BIGGEST smiles on our faces!  That is the smile of PURE JOY!!  Then we left the restaurant and headed to the Grand to check in to our room so we could take the REFERRAL CALL!!!

Daddy called our campus pastor, Ken, to tell him the news because we just couldn’t believe the timeliness of his text earlier that morning.  We were even more stunned when he told Daddy how he got to our church that morning (where Daddy works), and had a strong sense from the Lord that we were going to get the call for you that day!  The Lord told Ken to pray hard for your release that morning!  Ken told us he doesn’t get those feelings very often, but he had definitely gotten a prophetic word from the Lord!  It gave us chills to hear how God had so strongly prompted him to intercede for you that very morning!

We got checked in to our room, and I immediately began to hook up my laptop (which thankfully, God had prompted me to pack!) to the internet.  Daddy got all of our suitcases up to the room, and we were ready to take the call a few minutes before 3:00.  The kids put on their swimsuits, and we found the movie Madagascar on TV for them to watch.  Perfect!

Melissa called Daddy’s cell phone just a few minutes after 3:00, and we officially began the referral call!  We had her on speaker phone, so we could both hear what she was saying.  Then she began to walk us through all of your paperwork.  It was a lot to take in, and we had some moments of tears when we heard your story.  But God’s goodness and grace covered every part of your story, and we knew that His hand of protection had been on you, sweet baby. 

Melissa asked us how we were feeling, and if we still wanted to proceed with you.  Of course, we said, “YES!!!”  And then it was finally time to see pictures of you!  Ahhhh!  We were so excited!!!  At 3:51 pm, Melissa sent the email with all 8 of your referral pictures!  We gathered the kids over to the computer, so we could all see you for the very first time together!  (They had been playing , jumping and doing flips on the beds while we had walked through the paperwork part of the call!) 

We opened up the picture from your very first day at Hannah's Hope!  You were so precious and tiny!!!  Then we opened up the current pictures of you, and we just instantly FELL IN LOVE!!!  We were all squealing, and laughing and crying tears of joy as we looked at your PRECIOUS face and your absolutely ADORABLE smile!!!  It was truly LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT!!! 

I knew in that moment that you were our daughter!  There was no doubt about it!!!  You were God’s perfect plan for our family!!!  I sat there gazing at your sweet pictures and I felt an instant Mother’s love for you!  It washed over me so fully!  In that moment, I felt the exact same way as I did when I saw your older brother and sisters for the first time!  It was such an amazing, God given feeling of complete JOY and LOVE as I looked at you, and I saw how perfectly He had made you for our family!  You even look like us!  You have the same smile as Daddy and Carson!  Only God!!!  He is SO GOOD!!!

Melissa talked for a few minutes after that, but I honestly don’t think I heard a word of what she said!  We just couldn’t stop looking at your pictures and talking about you!  We got off the phone with her, and she promised to email us everything we needed to do next since we couldn’t even think straight to remember what she was saying!

I just love that God gave us the blessing of all five being together when we got the call!  And the fact that we were all on this last minute planned vacation made it so much fun!  Plus, I loved that we were in FairHOPE because hope was something I had been clinging to over the last several months!

Well, the other kids were ready to get out to the pool after all this!  So, we headed out to the pool in a complete fog of LOVE and JOY!  My heart and head were still spinning with thoughts of you!  I could hardly even think!  I knew our first step was to contact your international pediatrician, so I tried to go ahead and call her office.  They said they were closed for the day, so I left a message and then went ahead and emailed your file.  I was shocked to later get a personal reply around 6:55 that night!  She said she would be happy to review our file the next day!

It was so hard to fall asleep that night because my heart was still spinning from everything that had happened that day.  I finally fell asleep, but then woke up at 3:30 that morning.  The first thought that came to my mind was the picture of your ADORABLE face!  I immediately got a huge smile on my face as I was laying there in the bed!  Then all I could do was think about you again!!!  I think I finally fell back asleep around 5:30 that morning. 

The next morning, Daddy went to work out and then he brought coffee back to the room.  I sat on one of the rocking chairs on our balcony overlooking the resort and wrote in my journal.  This is what I wrote on May 24, 2013…

“This morning I sit here in a rocking chair overlooking the gorgeous, peaceful grounds of the Grand Hotel in Fairhope with the beautiful bay in the backdrop and my heart is bursting with JOY!!!  We saw our daughter’s PRECIOUS face yesterday!!!  We got the call from our agency on Thursday, May 23rd while we were at a little restaurant (Panini Pete’s) in downtown Fairhope, AL!!!  God is so good and so faithful!!  She is absolutely perfect for our family!!!  We are all completely IN LOVE with our little Caroline Faith!"

God’s goodness and sovereignty were just so overwhelming that I could hardly take it all in!!!  I felt like my heart might burst!  And all of the many answered prayers…we never made it to #1 on the waitlist, I had seen a bluebird the morning we got the call, Daddy getting the call for you, the meaning of your Ethiopian name, and that we all fell in LOVE with you instantly and just knew you were our daughter!  God had finally released you to our family, and His timing was so PERFECT!!!

 Later that day, we got in touch with our social worker, and she was so helpful and immediately signed the social worker release form and mailed it to AGCI that day!  Then we got in touch with our international pediatrician (on the Friday afternoon before Memorial Day weekend...another answered prayer!!!), and she reviewed your file and wrote her report.  She called me to review your file at 3:56 pm that afternoon right as the kids were about to watch the cannon fire at the Grand (which happens every afternoon at 4:00)!  I loved talking to her all about your health and how much you had grown…and how PRECIOUS you are!  She thinks you are a doll too!

Then, while sitting under a huge shade tree overlooking the bay, I emailed her report to B at ACGI, since Melissa was out that day.  B had been one of our first case workers when we went through the paperwork process, so it was neat to work with her again that day!  Then B gave me a call to say she had received the report!  Now all we had to do was one final step to officially accept your referral… a quick email to AGCI! 

It was now official…on May 24, 2013, we accepted your referral!  PRAISE GOD!!!  We were overjoyed that God allowed us to get so much done in 24 hours, while on vacation!  Such a blessing!!!  Now, we would just need to get the referral paperwork signed and notarized once we got home!

I hope that as you read this long story, Caroline Faith, that you are once again convinced of how LOVED you are by the Lord and by your family!  You are SO WORTH every second of the 32+ months that we spent on the waitlist! And you are SO WORTH every tear we cried, every piece of paperwork we signed, every prayer we prayed, and every day of the past 3 ½ years that we have spent dreaming about you…you are WORTH THE WAIT!!! 

Every single detail of your story is so special and so God-ordained!   His grace and redemption are seen all throughout your beautiful story.  He brings beauty from ashes and grace from pain.  And all the amazing blessings, miracles and answered prayers that He has provided are too many to count!  Great is His faithfulness!!!

And we now look forward to seeing the rest of your story unfold as we trust God to bring you home to our family.  God has brought us this far over the past 3 ½ years, and I know without a doubt that He will be faithful to complete this adoption journey.  He has proven His love and faithfulness over and over and over again.  He is always faithful.  We trust Him completely! 

As I was reminded the other day by a friend and fellow adoptive mom, we need to always trust God to write our story…He writes the best ones!   Yes, He does, sweet girl.  Yes, He does.

We pray that our story will always bring Him glory!

“Now FAITH is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”  Hebrews 11:1


Meaghan said...

Alison, this is so beautiful!!! LOVE that y'all were all together to see her for the first time! So needed to read this after getting off the USCIS conference call. PRAYING y'all get a court date before they close!

Amy said...

I love your referral call. So perfectly planned by God. I am so thankful for your family and cannot wait to see your girl in your arms. Love you!

leemeandthegirls said...

Crying. So excited for you! God is so so good!

Megan said...

So excited for you, and I can't wait to meet her! Thank you, Jesus.

Shannon said...

How beautiful!!! I loved reading every word. I'm so incredibly happy and excited for this next leg of the journey as you joyfully wait on your official court date. Praise God!! Thank you for sharing it all. And yes....I would buy the book that you decide to write about this adoption journey....just let me know the release date! :-) Hugs!!

Jennifer said...

This gave me chills because I have followed your story from the beginning and we were in Fairhope visiting my Mom over Memorial Day weekend. I pray for you all often.

dominique said...

Oh my goodness. The Lord orchestrated Caroline Faith's story perfectly. Just reading this I can sense that the wait was so worth it.

Courtney said...

Love all these God ordained details! He is so faithful!

Amber said...

Just perfect. I love every detail. God is so good!!

Robin said...

Such a beautiful referral story. It is always so amazing when our children are revealed to us. I have been following your journey form the very beginning and I am so happy for you all.

Jenni said...

Love you already Caroline Faith!! Hurry home!

erica said...

So beautiful. Love it!!! Brought back so many memories of our own referral.....thanks for sharing.

Brittney Galloway said...

Oh gosh, tears of joy first thing in the morning! I just loved reading this story. Can't wait to hear about when you will be able to travel and hold her in your arms!

It is hard to believe that I met you three years ago in Vancouver, and that we have been following Caroline's story from the Middle East since then. So happy that she will be joining your family soon!

Elle J said...

All things beautiful in His time. Praise God for Caroline Faith's story, for your sharing of it, and for the community that will continue to support your family.Blessings to you, my Friend. Love every word of this post. HUGS!!!!

cal+claire said...

So SO excited for y'all! I can't even imagine how much joy must be in your hearts!

Emily Ferris said...

This made me tear up! I'm so happy for y'all & praise God for His faithfulness!

Megan said...

So Thankful for God writing this amazing story that only He could orchestrate and to you for sharing it with me! Love and prayers to your family!!

Stephanie said...

Love reading this! What an awesome God story! So happy for your family! Praying she is home soon!!

G said...

Wow...such an amazing and beautiful story--I'm so thankful that you shared it. The details are unbelievable. I read this in a waiting room and could BARELY hold back the tears. Blown away by God's fingerprints all through your sweet Caroline Faith's story. I so can not wait to see you all together!!!!!

TorahGirl said...

Thank you Jesus!

Ashley said...

LOVE THIS! Thank you so much for sharing! Ive been following your blog since the beginning!! I will continue to pray for you sweet family!

Mrs. J said...

oh my goodness! TEARS streaming as I read this! PRAISING JESUS! thank you so much for your faithfulness Lord! Your testimony is so God-honoring. I am so excited for your family!

Jessica said...

Beautiful, just BEAUTIFUL, Alison. I do think you need to share your story in a book someday. God is SO good.

Heather said...

oh I just love this. loved hearing every single detail. dying to see her pic! so happy for you. God is amazing! and yes - He does write THE BEST stories.

Unknown said...

WOW!! God is SO very good!!!!! The details are incredible... He orchestrated each and every one!!!! LOVE this!!!

Unknown said...

Wow, wow, wow. What a story! So very excited for you!!!!

Unknown said...

I can't believe I almost missed this! Caroline Faith is going to love reading her referral story! I can't believe it has really happened. Can't wait to hear your official court date and for you to hear the words, "She is YOURS!" Loves of love!