Friday, May 16, 2014

Two new Coughlins

The past week the Fort Wayne weather has been rainy and cold. The skies have been filled with dark clouds and there has been an overall sense of dreariness. This also sums up the way our adoption process has been feeling the past few months. Since saying yes to adopting the boys, the adoption process has been painfully slow and most news received has brought us worry more than excitement. But this week, we had a rainbow appear in our sky. We were notified that we passed Congolese court and we are now legal guardians of our two boys!  The Coughlin family has grown!  While there are still several forms and investigations that need completed, this news felt like such a huge milestone.  Praise God!

The next step for us will be to submit paperwork to the US government asking for them to investigate our case with an ultimate goal of them issuing the boys a US Visa.  This investigation can take months, so we'll be practicing being patient.

Prayers needed:
Many of our friends and family have been asking when we will be able to bring our kids home.  The answer is that we don't know.  We are working our way through the process, but ultimately the biggest hurdle we are currently facing is that the Congolese government is currently not issuing exit visas for adopted children.  We are praying that things will get sorted out soon and that they will once more begin allowing children to leave to live with their new families.  Please also be praying for our boys.  Please pray that they are being kept safe and healthy.  Please pray that their foster mama kisses them and loves on them like Jim and I wish we could.  Lastly, please pray that Jim and I stay positive and that we continue to remember how powerful our God is and that His timing is perfect.

Amber & Jim

Thursday, December 26, 2013

New Referrals

Since announcing the end of our adoption pursuit of Jeanne and Gatundo in November, Jim and I have been working on getting moved into our new house and preparing for the arrival of our daughter, Callahan.  Every day we think about Jeanne and Gatundo and wonder how life is going for them and their mother.  We're currently using the room that would have been their room as a storage/workout room, which is really hard.  Being pregnant, I'm definitely in a nesting mode and it hurts to not be preparing the room for them in our house. 

After the  Thanksgiving holiday, Jim and I decided to notify our agency that we would like to be put on the list of parents waiting to be matched with two more children.  The agency asked us about any preferences in gender, age, etc.  In talking it over with Jim, it is amazing how much God has grown us in the past year.  When we started the adoption process, we were very specific about the child that was right for our family.  I think it was just one more way that we were trying to force our plan/control in to the plan that was clearly already laid out for us.  This time around, we feel like our hearts and eyes have been opened even more to the need for families to care for orphans and we are excited about God's plan and timing for us and our family.

We are excited to announce that we have accepted two new referrals.  We will be pursuing the adoption of two little baby boys that will hopefully one day be the older Coughlin brothers to Callahan.  Please be praying for Nathan and Israel.  Both are under the age of 1, so we ask that you pray for their health.  We are also asking that you continue to pray for Jeanne, Gatundo, and their mother.  While we are no longer pursuing adoption of them, we think of them daily.  We want their family to thrive.  We pray that their mother is able to provide for them and that their relationship continues to grow and strengthen.

Wishing everyone peace this Christmas season.

Jim and Amber Coughlin

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Unexpected news

I've stared at the blank blog page now for over 20 minutes and I still can't think of a great way to start this post, so I'm just going to state the facts. On Wednesday evening, we found out that our pursuit of adopting Jeanne and Gatundo has come to an end. Due to circumstances in their village, the adoption is not able to proceed and they will be returning to their mother. It is hard to find words to explain how we are feeling right now. While not exactly the same, many of the same feelings we experienced when our son, Jack, passed are present in this situation. While we didn't conceive these children, the minute we were matched with them, they became part of our world. We've spent the past 6 months praying and planning for them to join our family. Now, they are still on our minds and hearts, but we know that the plans we made for them and our family will not happen. 

 At this point, we are unsure what is in store for us. Our agency has let us know that when we are ready we can pursue adopting other children. We know God's plan for us is so much bigger and greater than anything we can create on our own. We will be praying for wisdom and guidance on what to do next. We are so incredibly thankful for the support we've received from family and friends over the past year. We've been overwhelmed by the many words of encouragement and love. We know that we were not the only ones invested in these two children. Thank you, everyone. 

As for prayer requests, please be praying: 
1. that God keeps our hearts soft and feelings of anger or bitterness away from us 
2. that Jim and I can continue to deal with our heartache while still preparing for the exciting arrival of our daughter, Callahan, in the next few weeks 
3. that we would continue to listen for God's guidance in choices that may lay ahead of us 
4. that Jeanne, Gatundo, and their mother will quickly heal from their separation and that they will remain safe 

 Amber and Jim

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A day to celebrate

A month ago, I was having a Job moment that I blogged about.  Frustrations of life felt as if they were piling up on each other and never ending.  Tears flowed...a lot of them.  But today is a new day. 

Our day started with waking up and realizing that I am officially 24 weeks into our pregnancy.  You may be thinking, "You have a long way to go, sister!"  but 24 weeks is very significant to Jim and me.  Hours before our son Jack was born, a doctor gave us a long talk about not trying to save him once he was born; no form of life support/assistance breathing, etc. because the medical community doesn't feel babies are viable (I hate that word) until 24 weeks.  Jack was born at 23 weeks.  Since that conversation 4 years ago, 24 weeks has stuck with us.  Bed rest isn't a ton of fun, but we've gotten Callahan to 24 weeks and hoping for many more milestones to come!

As if that news wasn't good enough, we got an email today that was an answer to prayers.  We received word that the couple who already had given so much to make our adoption dreams come true had decided to fund the remaining amount needed for our adoption travel. As of today, our adoption expenses are covered! I can't explain the feeling of relief and thankfulness that we are feeling. It is so amazing to watch God at work in our lives and to watch Him lifting barriers to bring these children 7,000 miles away to us. It's also so amazing to see how God is using people to do His work. It makes me question, am I being open to letting Him lead me in the work He's calling me to do? I truly hope so. Thankful for such a fantastic day.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Having a Job moment...

So, one of my favorite stories in the Bible is the story of Job and how God allows Satan to test him. If you aren't familiar with the story, you can find it in Job chapters 1-42 and it is pretty interesting. The story starts with Job a man that follows God and is obedient. He leads a pretty good life. One day God allows Satan to test Job to see if during hard times, Job will continue to be faithful. Various things are done to Job, his home, and his belongings. Things get rough enough, that even Job's wife says to him, "Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die." So loving and supportive, huh? Eventually, Job's attitude sours. I've been having a Job kind of week. On Thursday, we found out that my body isn't doing so great with the pregnancy and I had to have a procedure that evening and go on immediate bed rest. All at once I felt hit by the fears of possibly losing another child, leaving my job for 5-6 months without any advance notice, and knowing my FMLA period would run out well before we are able to get our kids home from Congo. This weekend we discovered a roof leak that we thought was fixed. Then today we found out that the country of DR Congo has decided that both parents have to go there for at least 2 weeks if not longer to pick up the children. Previously, it was going to work out for Jim to go with a friend. Given my current situation, this REALLY complicates things. So, the past few days have just been beating me up emotionally. In the story of Job, God delivers a list of rhetorical questions to Job that had to have Job shaking in his sandals. It starts with God telling Job to brace himself like a man. (Side note, I think that is Jim's favorite part of the story. He tries to fit that line into every day conversation pretty regularly.) Basically God's questions to Job are to remind Job that God is in control and has a plan. My reminder that God is in control came through a piece of mail today from a longtime friend. It was a newspaper clipping from 1998 when my place of employment burned down. I remember seeing the restaurant on fire and thinking, "My paycheck is in there!" I thought my world was ending and didn't know how I was going to make it. That seems so long ago and so insignificant now. Job's response after God finishes questioning him is this, "I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted." Right now things in our life seem a little crazy but we trust that God is in control. Things will work out the way He has planned. Someday this short period of time that seems so critical and stressful will be no big deal to us. Please keep praying for our kids in Congo and for our overall situation. May God allow us all to be together soon. -Amber

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Garage Sale results and Adoption Process Update

Adoption Garage Sale
For the past month or so, we've been collecting items from our friends, family and coworkers for an adoption garage sale.  We were overwhelmed by the response and had a TON of items to sell!  We filled the garage, driveway and the yard with items!  My sister, grandma, and cousin came from out of town to help my mom and I run the sale.  Their help was invaluable!  After two days of making deals and getting to talk about our kids in Congo, we ended up with a total of $1,800 in sales and extra donations!  Amazing!!

My mom, sister and grandmother

Adoption Process Update
The adoption process continues to feel slow although we've been assured this is normal.  The latest photo of our kids shows them looking much happier than the original photo, which makes us feel good.  Lots of smiles.  Just wish we could go get them now, but we know we are months away from that time. Last month we sent our first care package.  The care packages included a few outfits and toys.  We also made a flip photo book with pictures of us labeled in French introducing ourselves.  Hopefully it will help them begin to get to know us as their new family.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Update on the kids: names and weights

A couple of updates on our adoption process since receiving our referral:

We were told our kids names were Josianne and Jonathan, which we loved!  We told everyone and many of our friends began praying for our "Josi and Johnny".  You can imagine our surprise when we then found out while on vacation, that we had been given the wrong names.  Our children are actually Jeane and MiChiki (mi-cheek-e).  Slightly different!  
We received a government document detailing how the children were abandoned.  The document revealed that their mother, age 41, actually brought them to social services and indicated that she could no longer care for them.  The document included her full name, birth date, the name of her parents and their village.  There was no mention of their father.
Along with the official abandonment document came the full medical report on the kids.  At first we thought, okay, nothing too bad.  Then we looked up the conversion from kilograms to pounds.  We discovered our little girl, Jeane, weighs only 15 pounds at 1.5 years old. For comparison, our chihuahua currently weighs 14 pounds. The report listed her as severely malnourished.  MiChiki isn't much better, although the report listed him as only slightly malnourished.  He weighs in at 19 pounds, 2.5 years old.  Both are now receiving regular meals and being monitored to encourage weight gain.

Prayer requests
  • Please pray for our children and their birth mother.  We know that the separation has likely been very traumatic.
  • Please pray for the children's health.  It will likely be several months before we are able to go get them, so in the meantime, we want their health to improve and for their stay in the foster home to be a peaceful time.
  • Please pray for us.  We are so excited for our pregnancy and our two children in DRC, but are tending to feel overwhelmed when we dive into the logistics of having 3 children under the age of 5.   Please pray that we will continue to turn to God for strength and guidance throughout this journey.
  • Lastly, please pray for our fundraising.  We have been incredibly blessed to have received the monetary gift that we did early on.  With accepting 2 children, our expenses have risen slightly and we will now have to raise approx. $7,500 for travel/stay in DR Congo.  We are having our first fundraising event in late July; an adoption garage sale.  So far we've had several families offering to donate items to us to sell and we've been combing through our home for things we don't need.  We are hoping for good weather and a good turn out!  
-Amber & Jim