Saturday, December 28, 2013


2013 has been the best and worst year I think Justin and I have faced since we've been married. We thought everything was coming to completion…little did we know it would happen at the same time. 

I haven't updated our blog in a while so I will catch everyone up to date in case you have just come across our page. Justin and I had tried to get pregnant for over 2 years. We always knew we wanted to adopt so in September (2012) we went ahead and started the adoption process and decided we would focus on a biological child later. I stopped taking fertility meds and we began filling out adoption paperwork. In November of last year (2012) we finally got our home study completed and signed the contract with our agency to adopt from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa. At that time we also decided to go ahead and adopt two children instead of one. Sunday, January 6th, 2013 was a day that I will never forget. Anyone in the adoption world knows you become obsessive about checking email. That morning I woke up and the first thing I did was check my email. In my inbox was a beautiful picture of a one year old boy sitting on the ground in a dirty white onesie that hung off of his small frame. We of course said "yes" to that little boy who is our son, Neema. We went to church and tried to contain the excitement. After we came home from church there was another email with our oldest son's photo. I immediately fell in love with the sad, 2 year old boy in the photo. His eyes were downcast and he seemed unsure. I knew Canaan was meant to be our son. Fast forward to March. We were in the midst of fundraisers and piles of adoption paperwork. One morning before work I randomly took a pregnancy test and for the first time in my life it read positive. An ultrasound later confirmed we were having a little girl who would be due in November. We were ecstatic and terrified to say the least.

So, as we journeyed through pregnancy and adoption God has stretched us and taught us more than we thought possible. He has miraculously provided large amounts of money right when they were due for adoption. He has been our stronghold as our adoption process has faced uncertain roads. We anticipated getting the boys this past summer and the investigation process changed and pushed back our adoption again. Disheartened, we trusted that all of this was in God's plan. Frustration after frustration has occurred, all of it out of our hands. Finally, in November, it was time to travel. I was due November 16th and Justin and his father had plane tickets booked for November 19th. Justin and I both wanted a natural pregnancy and did not want to be induced. November 16th came and went. So did the 17th, 18th, 19th… Justin and his dad, Tim, boarded the plane on November 19th which was the saddest and happiest day of my life. Knowing my husband would miss his daughter's birth and I would have to go through natural labor without him filled my emotions to the brim, but we still rejoiced knowing that our sons were finally coming home. I ended up having to be induced and Carson Diane Carroll was born on November 25th.  Come to find out, I probably would have never went into labor on my own due to the excessive amount of amniotic fluid I had (it kept the contractions from dilating my cervix). Thankfully, Justin was able to watch the birth via FaceTime on our phones. 

We anticipated that he would be there a week and a half, maybe 2 weeks. Things were moving smoothly in Africa at the time, which rarely happens.  As soon as Justin arrived in DRC he was able to be united with our sons. I was able to FaceTime the first time he met our youngest son, Neema. He looked unsure of what was happening but he didn't cry. He went right into Justin's arms. The boys adjusted quickly to Justin and their papaw. Neema's outgoing personality was quickly evident as he ran around the room squealing and calling out for his papa. Canaan took more time. He has been in an orphanage his entire life whereas Neema was in foster care. It was apparent they had received very different care. Canaan was quiet and reserved. He slowly came around later in the week and now he is like a completely different child. The pictures of the little boy without a smile now smiles from ear to ear and laughs all day long. Who knew this little guy had the cutest dimples! Evidence of what love and family can do for a child.

When Justin arrived in Africa the DGM (African Immigrations) refused to take our paperwork. The boys can not leave the country without an exit letter and the DGM processes that piece of paper. This came as a surprise because the DGM told us (indirectly) that they would let adoptive children out of the country who had a certain document by September 25th. Well, we had that document and we were on the DGM's list to get out of the country.  Finally, the Wednesday after Carson's delivery the African government accepted our paperwork!  An answered prayer that we had been waiting 2 weeks for. After that we waited for a particular man to sign the paper and Justin could leave with the boys. Later that same week Justin informed me that the man who signs the paper would be out of the office for at least 9 days. Heartbreaking to say the least. I was pretty weepy for the following days.

So here we are at 6 weeks. 6 weeks and the man is still refusing to sign our papers and many other families' papers.  Our daughter's birth has came and gone, so have the first 5 weeks of her life. Thanksgiving and Christmas have came and gone too and my husband still sits in Africa with our sons with no hope of getting them out. The DGM has basically said they refuse to issue exit letters to adoptive families. The United States Embassy in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been little to no help to my husband. There was an alternative plan to get our sons home but that has failed too. Our agency has basically told us to exhaust any other ideas that we have to try to get our sons home (ethically and legally of course). The longer Justin stays, the more expensive it becomes and of course neither one of us are working at the moment. We know all of this is a part of God's plan and we are clinging to the fact that He is sovereign, but it is hard. It is hard being without my husband. It's hard for him to miss my daughter's birth and first month and a half of life. He longs to hold her and watch her grow. It's hard for me to look into my sons' bedroom and know they aren't there. 

I'm not sure how things are going to play out but we are taking matters into our own hands. We are attempting to make our story known. We have sent letters to our senators, state representatives, and congressmen. We need the United States to push the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa (DRC) to pressure the DGM and fight for us. The U.S. Embassy has pretty much done nothing and we need them to take a stand for us and the other families who are stuck in the country with my husband. If you want to help please write, call, or email anyone you know who can help us. Send it to your state representative, the governor, the newspaper, news stations, radio stations, or anyone else you know that might could help. If you have any questions or you want a copy of the letter that I have sent to them please contact me. This is our last chance to get my husband and my sons out of the country. All of our paperwork and fees have been paid. These boys have legally been our sons since March and we can't get them home without the exit letter signed.

We will NOT leave our sons as orphans

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Is There An End In Sight?

There isn't much to update except that there is no update. The government in DRC has basically put all adoptions to a stop. They are not issuing any exit letters to any children unless they received their visas before September 25th. We are still waiting on our children's visas. We hope to hear something next week about our case as I know our agency is fighting for us. We are past the waiting period we were given (not by our agency) and the boys are still waiting. It's really hard to keep waiting now when we know we shouldn't be. I put away the Thanksgiving plates and flatware that I bought for the boys because there is really no chance they will be home this year to use them.

Pregnancy is physically difficult but it is hands-down 1,000 times easier than adoption. Becoming a parent through adoption is one of the hardest things I've ever had to go through. I met my sons through pictures on January 6 of this year and I've watched them grow older through monthly picture updates. They've been my (legal) sons for over 6 months and I can't see them, hold them, or kiss them. 10 months have passed and they are still not in our arms. 

I know God is sustaining us and them as His hand is continuing to carry out this adoption. He has provided the $14,000 that we needed through interest free adoption loans that we just got, which was a HUGE prayer that was answered. He is still working and I have to remind myself that He is faithful and I must continue to be faithful. (1 Corinthians 1:9) It's really hard when it seems that there is no end in sight. We don't have a timeframe anymore because we don't know when all of this is going to clear up with the government. 

As God has taught me more about Himself through adoption (and life in general) I know He is sovereign over everything and in those things there is always something I can learn. So, lately I have tried to not focus on what I perceive as negative things and instead look at the situation/events as "what is God trying to teach me about Himself" or "how can this make me become more like Christ." I would much rather sulk and complain to God about how things aren't going my way but I know those aren't His desires and they shouldn't be mine either. I don't believe that I should pray for things to happen my way. I believe that He desires us to pray so we can become more like Him. I'm still learning what that looks like. Adoption has forced Justin and I to rely on Him because we knew He was the only way we could financially and emotionally make it through certain periods of that time. 

So you can continue to pray that Justin and I will use this "wait" time purposefully. That we will seek how God is wanting to use us during this time. You can pray that we don't mindlessly walk through the waiting period when He is trying to do something in us and with us. And continue to pray for our sons. In one remote orphanage in the Congo over half the children there died this past week due to dysentry...something that would never be an issue for children in the US. Death is very real there for children...for people. They don't have clean water, clean facilities, and many don't have access to good food. Pray that God will keep our sons safe and healthy and that He will work in hearts of the Congolese government so that our sons and many other sons and daughters can come home to their families.


"Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen"
Ephesians 3:20-21

Canaan (3) is in the superman pj shirt that we sent him
Neema (almost 2) is in the orange shirt. 

Today is 4 weeks from Carson's due date. Justin will be there for the delivery, which is definitely an answered prayer as well. November 16 is quickly approaching. I so wish Carson's big brothers were here to welcome her into the world!

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Waiting Is Almost Over

I have not posted in a while because we have to be very careful with what we share publicly. In the past few months we have just been waiting...and waiting...and waiting. We have almost hit the "6 month" mark in waiting for the final part of the adoption to be complete. I am literally checking my email 1,000 times a day in anticipation. We will be given a date and Justin will probably travel 1-3 weeks after that date and be in the country 2-4 weeks after he arrives. As the days to my delivery of Carson gets closer it is looking more and more like Justin may be in Africa when she is born. As much anxiety as that makes me have, I know God's timing is perfect, His plans are perfect, and He is sovereign over it all. We are still not sure if Carson will come first or if Canaan and Neema will come first. There are so many "unknowns" still to come. We trust that God will sustain us and give us understanding when the time comes.

Becoming a parent through adoption and through pregnancy have been wonderful to encounter at the same time. God has taught us so much about Himself through both processes. As He is knitting Carson together in the womb, He is also sustaining and carrying out His plan for our boys to be home. Adoption has definitely been much harder than pregnancy. Knowing that Canaan and Neema are now legally our sons and cannot be with us has been heart-wrenching. I've been frustrated at the change in the whole adoption process and all of the waiting that comes with it.  As we come to the end of this journey and will begin a new one (a family of 5!) we would covet your prayers. Please be in prayer for finances to be secured (the remainder is due when Justin travels), for safety of all of our children and for Justin and his dad as they travel, for a healthy delivery of Carson, and for God to be teaching Justin and I how to be Godly parents that will raise children up to love the Lord and His Word. You can also pray that God will grant us peace about what ever happens with the timing of Justin's travel and the birth of Carson. 

Thank you to everyone who has helped bring us this far, both financially and prayerfully. You are making a way for these boys to no longer be called orphans, but sons, and we are truly grateful.

Alana and Justin

Thursday, July 18, 2013

God's Timing is Always Better

I haven't posted any updates in a while because I wanted to be careful about how much we reveal about our adoption. If you're not in the adoption world it's probably hard to understand why we have to be careful about what we say and how much we say, especially over social media. But to bring you up to date on the boys we are still waiting. I've had several people ask, "do you have any updates?" We are in the last stages of this adoption and we really won't know/have any more updates until they tell us (Justin) that it's time to travel to get the boys. It feels like this journey is taking forever but we could not have chosen a better agency. If you are interested in adopting from the DRC or Niger (new program) you definitely need to contact the agency we're using! They are completely ethical and I could not ask for a better group of people to take care of our adoption. 

This extra time is also allowing us to get ready for all of the changes coming and the rest of the money that's due. We're still not sure where the $12,000 or so is going to come from but we trust that God already has it planned and in His timing He will reveal it to us, whether it's a fundraiser or a loan. God obviously doesn't think like I do or I would have a million dollars sitting in the bank to pay for the rest of this adoption as well as thousands of other families' adoptions. He has never failed us and I know these boys will be home. I can't wait to see how He's going to make it happen. His timing has been in place the whole time and no matter how much I've worried or not worried God has been (and will continue to be) sovereign over it all.

Beginning our family has been both frustrating, exciting, and testing. We knew we would adopt and when we had difficulty getting pregnant we knew we wanted to start our family through adoption first. It just seemed like a no brainer since we were going to adopt anyway. I am now soooooo thankful that God did not allow us to get pregnant when I wanted to get pregnant. I know that we would not be adopting these two particular little boys if I had gotten pregnant in my timing. How wonderful are His plans for us. I spent much time crying over having our adoption pushed back because of US Embassy changes and crying over trying to get pregnant for almost 2 years. Thankfully God doesn't work the way I want Him to.  Justin always reminds me of one of John Piper's quotes, "God isn't as interested in our happiness as much as he's interested in our holiness." Justin always speaks truths to me when I need it. Sometimes we don't understand until later why He does what He does. And truthfully there are some things we may never understand and we must be ok with that because we hold to the fact that He is God and we are not. I have come to realize that in all things we face God desires that we give him glory in every moment of it. He allows things in our lives for some reason, whether it is to shape us, reveal more of Himself to us, or do even greater things that we are not even aware of. 

With that said, God is continually teaching me about Himself through this journey and I'm convinced that I know more about Him and His character because of this whole process both in adoption and pregnancy. It's been more than incredibly amazing to experience parenthood through adoption and pregnancy at the same time! The waiting for both have been extremely hard but the waiting and longing for these boys have by far been the most difficult. Knowing that my children with my last name are sitting in a foster home across the world is tough. I know Carson is safe inside my belly. I know she's getting the nutrition she needs. I've had to trust God in a completely different way when it comes to my boys because they are truly in His hands. God is continuing to sustain the boys and us as we wait. So in the waiting we will chose to be actively waiting, praying and watching for what God is doing and what He wants to teach us in the most difficult times. 

For those of you who are praying for us you can specifically pray:
-The investigation (on the boys) will go smoothly and quickly.
-We will be able to pay for the remainder of the adoption.
-God will be preparing Canaan and Neema's heart for the huge change that is about to take place and they will be able to bond with Justin when he travels to DRC.
-We will be at piece with God's timing and He will "ready" us for the changes that will take place in our home (financially, spiritually, and physically).


Saturday, April 27, 2013

God is Full of Surprises

The past month has been a little crazy at the Carroll house to say the least. I've been deathly sick for about 3 weeks (at least I felt that way). Our friend from Africa has arrived and is living with us for 2 months. We're trying to finish our house which is a long way from being completely remodeled. Those are just a few of the crazy things going on. 

We've got a few updates on our process this month. Our i600 was approved and should now be in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. For those of you who have no idea what an i600 is, it's paperwork that you fill out to adopt an orphan as an immediate relative. I don't think I've ever mailed so much paperwork as I did when I mailed our i600. So, it should have arrived at the US Embassy in Kinshasa (the capital) by now. At this point we wait for them to put our information in the system. Once they do that, our 3-6 month wait will start. The US Embassy in DRC will complete an investigation on the boys to basically make sure they are both really orphans. Once the investigation is complete they will inform us that we can travel to get them! Our agency has told us that we should expect it to be closer to 6 months for the investigations to be completed...but I still have hope it could be sooner!

We also just got updated pictures of our boys this week! Hooray!  Canaan's photos always make me so sad. In all the pictures we have ever seen of him he has not smiled. Not even a slight grin. He was wearing the same shirt he has worn in the last 3 pictures we have seen of him. Soon Canaan. Soon you will smile. You don't know it now but your life is going to dramatically change in a few months and you will have much to smile about! Neema's picture was quite different. He was wearing a cute little outfit of a striped shirt and white overalls. And he was smiling!!! Hands on his hips and smiling! Justin and I were almost unsure if it was him or not because he has grown so much. He lost some of his baby fat on his cheeks and he looks taller.  

Along with the photos we got a brief update form. It included their height, weight, and foster location. They are now in the SAME foster home!!! Hooray!!!! We've been waiting for this for a while! Also on the update form it said they were both in diapers. After talking with other adoptive moms, some of whom were adopting older children found out that their kids were also wearing diapers. We questioned our adoption consultant and she said that in the orphanages the workers just "let the kids go." She said that during her last visit there she couldn't count how many children she held or was with that were soaked. The thought of these children sitting in their own urine all day long made my stomach turn. Just another reason there are no smiles on their faces. Thankfully, once the children are moved to foster care this changes. Foster mamas are very good about potty training and keeping them dry. I just pray that all the kids who are in the orphanage get adopted so they can move to foster homes as well.

So now for the surprise. I will not be going to DRC to get our boys. I have cried and cried and cried because I realized I would not be able to go. Justin's dad is going to go with them. I am grateful that he volunteered to go because I can't. It's a day that I have played out in my head since the day we got their referral pictures. I imagined the foster mamas bringing them out and trying to fight back tears while glowing from ear to ear. I wondered if they would come to me or if they would cry for their foster mama. I day dreamed about the two weeks would be in DRC with them, trying to establish the very beginnings of our relationship. I have to let those dreams go because God has bigger plans for our family. I will not be going to DRC because.....
Yes, thats right. I'm pregnant. That was our ultrasound at 6 weeks and 5 days. I am now 11 weeks. Surprised? We were too. We had tried for almost 2 years to get pregnant. I even went on fertility meds for about a month. After we decided to pursue adoption first and then try for a biological child later we had stopped "trying." I wasn't even sure if we could get pregnant after Justin and I both went in for some testing. Thankfully, God has a MUCH better timing than do we. If I would have had this baby first, Canaan and Neema probably wouldn't be the children we would be adopting. We are due November 16th. So PLEASE pray that Justin will be able to get the boys before then! 

I want to get something straight before I close out this post. I have had MANY people say to me, "Oh I knew you would get pregnant once you started adopting" or "That always happens." Ok, yes, it did happen to us. We did get pregnant while adopting. But it doesn't happen to everyone. So please don't say that to someone has been infertile and are adopting. Also, I want to clarify this: WE DID NOT ADOPT BECAUSE WE COULD NOT GET PREGNANT. We are adopting because God calls us (all) to take care of the fatherless. My boys NEED a family. We would adopt whether we have 10 biological children or 0. Adoption has NOTHING to do with whether or not we have biological children. Millions and millions and millions of children are sitting in orphanages right now, soaked in the own urine with hungry bellies and no one to call them son or daughter. This is why we adopt. We seek to make them our family in the same way that God has made us His family. 

Soon Canaan and Neema. Soon you will be home.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Waiting, Waiting, Waiting.

Our adoption puzzle finally arrived today! I'm really excited about this fundraiser because we will be able to write the names of each person who sponsors a puzzle piece on the back of the puzzle. I think it will be a tangible piece that the boys will get to look at as they grow older and see the names of all the people who helped them get to us. If you would like your name on a puzzle piece you can donate to our paypal account. Please include what name you would like on the puzzle piece. 

Our pastor got us the book, "Adopted for Life" by Russell D. Moore. I've only got to read bits and pieces of it because Justin has been immersed in it. It's a great read and I urge you to read this if you are considering adoption. A friend at work got me the book, "Orphan Justice" by Johnny Carr. I'm only past chapter 3 but so far it's been great. It's a real eye opener to adoption and human trafficking. Whether you are or are not considering adoption, this is a great read for anyone. It beckons our call to do something, just as Christ has commanded us to do.

We finally received new pictures of the boys this month!!! I, of course, can't post them, but I'll give you a little sneak peak. 
Canaan is on the left and Neema (the younger one) is on the right. They are looking at the photo books we sent them! I'm sure they have no clue what's going on, but one day they will know.

Neema has grown so much since the referral picture we received. It was great to see he has gained weight! We also got height, weight, and shoe sizes for both of them! 

We mailed our i600 about a week ago. This was a huge step in our journey. This is where the waiting process really begins. As I have told many of you the United States has made changes to the investigation process before they will issue the children their visas. This is a great change toward more ethical adoptions, but it also set our adoption (as well as everyone else's adopting from DRC) 3-6 months longer. After our i600 is processed and the investigation is over we will travel to DR Congo! We are asking you to specifically pray that the investigation process will be a quick one, but even if it's not we trust that God's will is being carried out and His glory is continuing to be made known through this waiting!

Thank you for your prayers for these boys and for us. There are many, many changes coming our way and I will post more about those on another day! God is good and He has been overly gracious to Justin and I. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A Heavy Heart

I have yet another sinus infection, so I'm missing out on worship with our church family this morning. It  leaves me a lot of time to sit and think about the information I received yesterday. 

This weekend our adoption consultant and 2 other wonderful ladies arrived in DRC to take supplies and love on some sweet children there. I'm in a private Facebook group where all the adoptive moms (and dads) stay connected and the adoption coordinators send us updates. Yesterday they went to some of the orphanages and posted the pictures on the private page. What I knew to be true suddenly became more of a reality to me. In this poverty and war-stricken land, little children sit and wait for someone to come for them. My heart literally hurt as I read the updates from these ladies. At one orphanage they went to they saw younger children being fed while older children sat and watched because there wasn't enough food for them. They gave the younger children the food first because they can't survive as well without food. She posted pictures of blankets on concrete floors, wooden bed frames (without mattress or sheets), and dirty floors. This was where they laid their heads at night. Many of them do not have beds at all. I kept scrolling through the photos and came across 2 very small, frail frames that were twin girls. They were laying on a blanket placed on a concrete floor. They are 8 months old but look more like newborns because of the malnutrition. I just began to sob. They don't know if these little girls will make it or not. They are very sick and their bodies are incredibly thin. My heart hurts so bad for these children. Many of them don't have clean water, more than 1 set of clothes, or even a blanket to lay their bodies on at night. 

Here is a picture that I have been given permission to share. These are the kids eating at the orphanage. What you can't see are the older ones in the back who who are watching the younger ones eat while they can't. Thankfully, our adoption consultant gave the orphanage some money to buy the older ones food as well.

I'm convinced....adopting 2 little boys is not enough. I MUST DO MORE. The truth has now become a living reality to me as I have come face to face with the pictures of these people living thousands of miles away. I was overwhelmed with emotion as I looked through the pictures and read about the conditions of the orphanages. All I could do was sob. I felt so helpless. Why don't more people adopt!? Why don't more people want to give money to help these people?? This is where I'm flooded with emotions. I'm extremely saddened at the helpless state that these children live in and completely mad that more people don't do something to help! I'm angry that parents spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars on toys that their children will just put in their "playroom" and never play with again while children in other parts of the world are dying because there isn't enough food for them to eat. It's not fair. In the midst of my emotional meltdown Justin reminded me that our world is in this state as a result of sin and no matter what I try to do I can't fix it all. It's out of my control. Thank you Mr. Voice of Reason. Justin always seems to have something to say when I'm ready to combat the entire world. At the end of the day I'm glad he's there to keep me under control. I know if he wasn't I would have probably said more things to people that I shouldn't, sold all of our stuff and moved to the DR Congo.

He's right. I can't fix the entire world. 147 million orphans is out of my control. But I can save 2. You can save 2. I wish I were allowed to post the pictures of these children and the devastating reality of where they live. I'm not so sure they really care about having toys or more than 1 set of clothes. They just want to be loved and cared for. Please pray about how you can get involved. Maybe it's not in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Maybe it's in Ethiopia, or China, or here. There are needs to be met and we turn a blind eye to them everyday. I can't do it any longer. I can't act like I don't know. It would be a sin to do so. 

Have you thought about adoption? I know what you're thinking. Yes, I know it's expensive. By all means, I KNOW IT'S EXPENSIVE. You can't use that as an excuse. God WILL provide a way. He always does if it's part of His Plan. He isn't limited by the those things. I think about how much I've cried over these children and how much I hurt for them. God loves them so much more than I ever will or could. I wonder what He feels like. His love and tears run much deeper than mine ever could. He aches more than I ache. He longs for them to be cared for more than I long for them to be cared for. And guess what? He calls us, his church to do the caring for. We are plan A in His redemptive plan. He commands us to care for the orphans and widows and speak for those who cannot speak for themselves (James 1:27 and Proverbs 31:8-9). So what are we going to do? Continue to be comfortable or choose to make a change? I just pray that God will keep them alive and healthy until someone can come to them. Please, someone come to them.

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed.
Proverbs 31:8

There is a new documentary out called "Stuck." I urge you to watch the trailer and then the movie. See how you, yes, just one person, can make difference in the life of an orphan.


Saturday, February 23, 2013

From An Angry Heart That God is Still Changing

I'm not sure if this is a good time to be updating our blog. I'm really angry and my heart is well...almost bitter. I was checking my Facebook and came across a video called "Gallon Smashing." I'm sure you've seen it. It's had more shares than a lot of other videos about clean water, adoption, or dying people in third world countries. It's a video about these guys who walk into grocery stores, bust open gallons of milk and pretend to be hurt. What's really sad is that thousands and thousands of people share this video and other pointless videos like this just because it's "funny." I don't think it's hilarious. I don't think it's funny. I think it's sad. Our lawyer emailed me this week and told me that I could expect our son Canaan to start changing once he moves out of the orphanage because he will get to start drinking milk. He will get to START drinking milk. The people in these videos are wasting gallons and gallons of milk that my 2 year old son can't even get access to right now. Forget the milk issue...There are dying people around the world just because they don't even have clean water to drink or bathe in.

I'm so angry. Angry that people who can do something choose not to. I don't understand it. Obviously I know that everyone is not called to adoption...but if they were, would there still be 147 million orphans in the world? How do I make people see that one person can make a difference? This is where Justin's voice of logic and reassurance would tell me that this is where I have to trust God to change people's hearts and I have to continue on the journey that He has called us to. Lord, this is where I need your help. I can't make others change, but I strongly desire for them to. I know we are comfortable living in our homes worrying about OUR own "needs." But I beg you, open people's eyes to see that they are living in LUXURY and they CAN make a difference. Please break our hearts for the things that break Yours. Please break my angry heart so that I can love people who don't understand yet. 

I don't say these things so that you will give to us. But I ask you to do something. Don't pretend like there are not people dying. Don't listen to the statistic of people without clean water and not try to make a difference. Don't act like you do not see the family who is struggling that lives down the road from you. Don't act like you don't have time or can't afford to. Don't. If you do, you're missing what the Gospel is about. 

"But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth."
1 John 3:17-19

It's not right for me to be angry at people that waste gallons of milk. It's not right for me to be bitter toward people who complain about their brand new SUVS. It's not right for me to roll my eyes at people who are "stressed" because they don't know what to get their kids for Christmas because they already have everything. God has obviously opened mine and Justin's eyes. As much as I want to guilt people into changing, I know I can't. A friend just reminded me that I must walk the road God has called me to and trust that He will call others to himself as well. I'm sorry for the rant. God still needs to do a work in me just as much as He needs to do a work in people who smash gallons of milk in a grocery store. God give me grace to forgive, especially in the times that I don't want to.

Now for an update:
We received pictures last week, but apparently we keep getting pictures of another little boy who is definitely not Neema. Our lawyer is supposed to go out this week herself and take pictures of him because everyone else has snapped photos of another kid. We did see Canaan. He looks like he has grown in the picture and he was holding our bag of goodies that we sent him! He was wearing the same outfit as in the referral picture. Hopefully the outfit we sent him will fit. The one he had on is probably one of the only sets of clothes he has.

This week we got a letter from the U.S. stating our i600a is moving on to Kinshasa, DRC! Yea for progress! We're also constantly checking our email for new pictures (of Neema) and updates on the boys. We are in the midst of the "waiting period" right now. It's hard but we are doing things to help us through it. We've starting getting things ready for the boys' room. It makes it seem more real by actually getting their room ready. Val brought over their first gift Thursday night.  It's symbolic too. :) We flew all the way around the world (airplane and globe) to Africa (giraffe) to give our boys a family name (C for Carroll). I love it. It's perfect for their room. Thanks Val. You know me all too well!

We are still in the process of fundraising. We're going to start a puzzle fundraiser in the near future so be on the lookout for that! You can have your name on a piece of their puzzle that will be in their room for $5. 

I'll leave you with one of my favorite videos. It's what I want our family to look like one day.


Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Waiting Begins...

This week has been eventful to say the least. We have been waiting on an update (pictures and more info on the boys). We mailed our dossier (a bunch of very important paperwork, i.e. certified copies of birth certificates, marriage license) on Jan. 23rd. After talking with someone in our adoption services they told me that paperwork gets lost almost every time when sent by USPS...which was how I mailed it! I immediately began getting paperwork together again so I could mail it. Our lawyer in the Congo could not get the paperwork from court until she had the official paperwork in hand. I soon realized that I did not have any more certified copies of our birth certificates and marriage license. Full of emotions I just began to sob. Overwhelmed with not receiving anymore information about our boys. Overwhelmed that I sent the paperwork through the postal service instead of FedEx. Overwhelmed with the work/evaluations at school. Overwhelmed that our adoption is going to take 3-6 months longer due to the changes the U.S. has made with DRC. Overwhelmed. 

I knew this adoption wouldn't be easy. I knew it wouldn't be a fast process. But I didn't realize how hard it would be emotionally. Even though I have never been pregnant (and still want to be) I almost envy the mothers who are because they know when they will get to see their baby. We don't know. We don't know if they are safe. We don't know if they are being cared for. We don't know if they are being fed or held. And we don't know when we will get to go get them.

Adoption has taught Justin and I so much about faith and trust in God. There is so many "unknowns" and "what ifs." We can do nothing but trust Him. I am still amazed at the ways God is working. I am confident that in all this God has a purpose and a plan for every moment and desires that we glorify Him in it. So with all the "unknowns" and "what ifs" that are to come, Lord help us to glorify you. 

After rushing to order and overnight certified copies of birth and marriage certificates I received a call from our consultant saying we passed court. We passed court? How could we pass court? WE PASSED COURT! This is a huge step in our adoption process and I truly believe that the prayers of our friends and family were heard and answered. Thank you Lord for answered prayers and working even when we didn't realize you were. I just found out today that she did indeed receive our dossier!! Woo-hoo! Even though we know very little of what is going on in DRC and with our boys, we trust that God is there. He is working in our lawyer, He is working in the people who are caring for our boys, and I know that He is working in the hearts of people here. He is working in ways that we are not even aware of and we praise Him for it.

On a positive note some very special people have worked very hard to plan a fundraiser for us! HUGE thanks to Beth Ann and Maddie for all of their hard work. They planned a chili supper and silent auction for us last weekend (Feb. 2nd). We also sold our t shirts. We expected to raise a couple thousand...maybe. We raised $5,000!!!! Amazing! These are the moments that I realize only God can work in these ways. If you came or have donated to us, thank you. I know thank you is not enough but it's all we have. I am overwhelmed at the support and encouragement we have received. Thank you for being Christ's hands and feet to us and to our boys. 

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."
Romans 8:28

We trust that God is working things according to His plan and purposes and He can use all things that happen to make Himself known and glorified. 



Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Cries of An Orphan

(The title of this post will not make sense until you read what Justin writes. Just a warning, when you get to his part you might want to have a tissue handy).

It has been overwhelming to see God at work in all of this. I KNEW He would provide and it's amazing to see how the pieces are starting to form together. Yesterday Justin and I had our fingerprinting done in South Carolina. One step closer. Our DRC consultant called and told us to send our dossier paperwork even though we still have not received i600a approval. We came home to an email that stated our lawyer in DRC already has the boys' abandonment paperwork, commune approval, and birth certificate judgement! We were super excited! Things are moving faster (and more smoothly) than we anticipated over there. We should get updates (and new pictures!!!!) soon. Now we are waiting on the United States government to send our i600a approval and fingerprint results. I have a feeling this is only the beginning of the waiting game.

Now for more "only God" stories. The past week I received a Facebook message from a friend who I have not seen in a long time. She and her husband moved up north and we stay in contact through Facebook. Her message stated that she had something coming our way. Justin said, "she's probably sending a check in the mail." I decided to check our adoption accounts anyway. In our paypal account there was a deposit for $1,500. I was taken back. I immediately sent her a message to make sure the amount was correct and she didn't accidentally type in a few extra 0's. She told me that the amount was correct and she and her husband wanted to give us the money from their tithes while her husband was waiting to find another job. Her husband doesn't have a job right now. My emotions were full. The faith of this family were remarkable to me. They trusted God enough to keep on giving even when their resources have been limited. . .  and even cut short.  In an instant, there was almost half of the $3,500 that we needed to wire to the Congo.

The story gets better. . .

Tuesday night we had a fundraiser. It had been rescheduled so I was anxious to see if we would have a good turnout or not. The total from the fundraiser. . . right at $2,000. Within a week and a half God provided the $3,500 we needed to wire to the Congo. I sent the money to our lawyer today. Since we have started the adoption in September we have paid around $12,000 to date. There has not been one instance where we did not get the money someway somehow. We could have not done it on our own.  I am taken back at how friends, family, and people we don't even know have joined in raising the money. We don't deserve it. We don't deserve their time, money, or efforts with this endeavor that we have taken on but they do it anyway. Thank you.

Canaan and Neema will probably be moved to foster care within the next week or 2! Hooray! Please pray that they are receiving care physically and medically.  My heart aches to be with them, to comfort them, to change their dirty diapers and clothes, and to love on them. Also, please pray specifically that our paperwork will be processed quickly and smoothly so that we can go get them sooner than expected! 


One generation shall commend your works to another, 
and shall declare your mighty acts.
On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and on your wondrous works I will meditate.
They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,
and I will declare your greatness.
They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness
and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
The Lord is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The Lord is good to all,
and his mercy is over all that he has made.
Psalm 145: 4-9

Now for Justin:

Since this is my first post let me take a minute to thank all of you for your overwhelming support.  This is definitely a journey of "unexpected" and "how in the world are we gonna make this happen" moments.  Through the faithfulness of God and His people we have been given the privilege to take part in some pretty amazing things. I know these coming days will be filled with more moments to trust that faithfulness than I even care to think about.  But with that said, this is becoming a journey where God is teaching me more about myself than ever expected.  

Just the other night Alana and I were given a few moments to share with the one person who really planted a heart for the Congo in our lives.  She shared a specific part of her adoption story with us, and in doing so brought into light just how much my adoption  mirrored the one of my future sons.  

You see, most orphans don't cry like normal babies.  They don't cry like us because no one comes to them like us.   No one to cuddle, no one to cradle, and no one to sooth the  needs of an infant who has no way of comforting themselves.  But comforting themselves is exactly what they must do.  Instead of crying they begin communicating.  Communicating with each other in the darkness of a lonely orphanage.  As they lay down at night, to break the defining silence, their small voices begin to moan.  One at a time their moans fill the emptiness in search of comfort from one another.  Each baby echoing the other just to know there is someone there.  Orphans learn to self sooth because they know there's something they need, but they're totally unaware of what that is. Crying is so foreign to them because nurture is so foreign.  

It's mind blowing and a bit overwhelming to think I have the opportunity to teach my sons to cry.  Not just to cry for the sake of tears, but because they know someone is waiting to hear.   To know they are thousands of miles away and they have no idea how good it will feel to be held in the arms of a mom and dad who really want nothing more than to love them is beyond their capacity to comprehend.  I don't even think I fully understand it yet.  What's even more amazing is they have done nothing to merit that love.  No task, no words, not one thing have they contributed to make me love them.  Yet I would already risk everything to let them know their worth.  

It's not often in life something mirrors so succinctly the beauty of what Christ has done for us.  To know my state of worthlessness is to magnify the gospel beyond my own comprehension.  I, along with the rest of the world, was completely satisfied with a self soothing crib that turned out to be nothing more than mere illusion.  Just like my sons I had nothing to contribute.  God loved me merely because he chose to.  Knowing we are given the opportunity to mirror the gospel through adoption should press our hearts toward this purpose.  What better banner for the church to wave than that of teaching those with no cry how to find purpose in the cries they were meant to have.  May they know we are united by comfort and purpose through those same cries only because a gracious God has granted us with that gift.  

                                                       John 15:16-17
16 You did not choose me, but zI chose you and appointed you that you should go and abear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that bwhatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you,cso that you will love one another.

With much Thanks 
Justin and Alana

Saturday, January 19, 2013

More Than a Statistic

For the Update:
We are getting fingerprinted January 23rd! We also owe another $3,500, yuck. Our lawyer in the Congo is continuing to work hard on moving our process along and our adoption advisor said that we could expect to travel around July or August...which we hope will be sooner, God willing.

The beautiful snow that came on Thursday provided me with a wonderful four day weekend! It also gave me the opportunity for some quiet time in the house. At night I often wander if our boys are being taken care of. Are their diapers being changed? Does someone come to them if they are crying or hungry? Justin said I can't think about those things because at this moment there is nothing I can do about it. He's right, but now that we have names and faces I can't

There are statistics that surround everything. Statistics about marriages, divorce, rate of poverty, abortion, orphans, deaths... the list goes on. Why do these numbers not mean anything to people? Is it because we don't care? Is it because the numbers are too great and we feel helpless? Or is it because we are too consumed with OUR needs, OUR wants, and what consumes OUR life. Perspectives change when you see a face that is one of those numbers. Our boys are two of the 147 MILLION orphans in the world. They are two out of the 5 MILLION in DR Congo. Every number has a face. Every number is a life. 

I've heard many people say that if there was a God who loved us then there wouldn't be innocent lives being lost. If God loves His creation then why does He let people die just because they don't have clean water? Why is there poverty? Why do half of the children in Congo die before they reach their 5th birthday? Because His plan is US. He chose to use His church to redeem creation. I'm convinced that too many of us sit back, play on our iPhones while we watch cable tv, and sit in the luxury of our homes while we hear those numbers and choose to ignore them. I am convinced that Christians could radically change the world if we lived the way Christ has truly called us to live. He didn't call us to comfort. He didn't call us to an easy life. He didn't call us to safety. He calls us to a life changing pursuit of Him. And in that, we make His name known and glorified. How do we do that? In every way we can. No excuses. I'm tired of excuses. I'm tired of people patting me on the back and saying "that's great that God has called you to do that." No. He's called ALL of us to that.  For you, it may not be adoption, but He has called us to something that is greater than what we are capable of on our own. 

When Justin was a youth pastor he challenged the youth to memorize these verses in James and they have always stuck with me:
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.25But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. (James 1:22-25)

I do not want to be just a "hearer" of God's Word and of those statistics. I want to be a "doer." I can't save all 147 million orphans but I can save 2. I can't help everyone in poverty but I can help some. I think we should heed the words of Mother Teresa who said, "If you can't feed a hundred people, feed just one." 

There is no way that Justin and I could financially adopt. That is why it's so beautiful that God is providing it the entire way. As stressful as it is, He gets the glory in the end instead of us. God is so much bigger than ourselves. Money is no limit for Him because He has none. We praise you Lord for providing the way even when can't see now how you will.

So what will you do? What's the difference you are going to make? I promise you won't ever regret being a doer of the Word instead of just a hearer. 

"He who calls you is faithful, he will surely do it." 1 Thessalonians 5:24

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The journey started here...

We always knew we wanted to adopt. It was something we talked about before we were even married. I had a heart for Africa then and I don't know why. My feet hadn't even touched ground there. Maybe it was the country. Maybe it was my desire to travel. Maybe it was God already beginning a work that I would have no idea about until years later.

Fall of 2011 our church gave us the "ok" to plan a trip to Africa. After talking to some friends, we knew that we were to go to Sanyati in Zimbabwe, Africa to help rebuild a hospital, and a community. So we planned and fundraised. God provided my husband, brother (in law), and me with over $9,000 in just a few months. I still can't figure out where all the money came from. I just know it was God. The country and people were more beautiful than I ever imagined. The work was hard but the experience was wonderful. When I left, I knew it wasn't goodbye. I knew I would be back.

We returned home and tried to get back to normal "American" life. I couldn't get back to normal. Something in my heart was not content. In July 2012 I taught JumpStart Kindergarten at Alpha Primary. We were able to meet our new kindergarten students and help them get ready for school that began in August. That is when I met a special little boy. I immediately asked him where he was from. He had a sparkle in his eye that was familiar. I asked, "are you from here?" He said, "No! I'm from Ethiopia." I immediately talked to his mother, Chrissy after school that day. She briefly told me of his adoption journey and how they were adopting another child from the Democratic Republic of Congo. She told me there were waiting children in DR Congo. My heart immediately ached. I went straight home and researched DRCongo. I found out that there are 147 million orphans in the world and 5 million in the Congo. Almost half of children there do not live to see their 5th birthday. I knew God had placed Chrissy in my path and I knew Justin and I were about to take a huge leap of faith.

Justin and I had just bought a house which we are completely renovating so our funds are pretty (extremely) low. I knew at the same time that the God I serve can close the mouths of lions and hold back raging waters of the Red Sea can provide a way for us. We may have limitations, but the God I serve does not. I began reading the Word to make sure this was what He wanted for us and it wasn't just my discontent heart. It finally clicked. Why would God not want us to adopt? He calls us to care for orphans and widows (James 1:27) and defend the rights of those who cannot defend themselves (Proverbs 31:8-9). I knew it was time. 

We started the adoption journey at the end of August 2012. Our kitchen remodel held us back in the home study process because we completely gutted it out. We decided to go with an independent agency, which God completely directed. After the long process and looking over all of the expenses we decided it would be cheaper in the long haul if we adopted two now instead of doing two separate adoptions. I emailed Amy True with DRC Services to let her know. When we finally got the home study completed we sent it off to DRC Services and sent the i600a with the money we got for Christmas. The last week in December Amy True (from DRC Services) called and asked if we would be interested in a little boy that was 12 months. My heart leaped and I immediately said yes and that we would really like to have two. She said that she would email the lawyer in DRC and would hopefully get back to us by Friday (January 4th). 

School had started back on Thursday, so on Friday I checked my email every free chance I got. Nothing. My heart sank a little as I anticipated a picture. Maybe I was expecting too soon. After all, we hadn't even got appointments for fingerprinting yet. Sunday morning I got up early before church and check my email. There it was! The subject said, "Carroll Family 1st Referral." I opened it to see the most beautiful 2 1/2 year old that my eyes had ever seen! Dieu Merci Bisala was his name. His eyes were soft and looked unsure in the picture. I was in love already. I grabbed the laptop and ran upstairs to wake up Justin. It was hard to contain all of the excitement. We weren't sure if we should announce the news since we had not officially "accepted" his referral. When we came home from church there was another email...."Carroll Family 2nd referral." I opened it and I met my second son, Neema who was 12 months. In the picture he was sitting on the ground in a dirty white onesy. Absolutely beautiful. 

Later that night Amy called and asked if we could sign the contract for our lawyer and wire $7,000 the following day. $7,000???? I laughed at the thought of having that much money on hand. I told her we didn't have it and there was no way we could do that. I felt tears fill my eyes. She said if we could get her at least $3,500 then she could start the process. I didn't want to lose these boys. I had already fallen in love with them. I knew they were meant to be ours. Through God's provision some very close friends of ours let us borrow the $3,500 that we needed. Who does that? People of faith, that's who. I am forever grateful for friends and family who continue to help us when we do not deserve any of it.

So here we are. Our journey to get Dieu Merci (new name will be Canaan) and Neema into our arms. We have $35,000 to raise which seems impossible to raise by this summer, but I know He will make a way. I am anxious and somewhat fearful to imagine how we can possibly get this money. I trust that our Father has a perfect plan and He is sovereign over all. 

"All nations whom You have made shall come 
and they shall glorify Your name.
For You are great and do wondrous deeds;
You alone are God.
Teach me Your way, O LORD;
I will walk in Your truth;
Unite my heart to fear Your name.
I will give thanks to You, O Lord my God, with all my heart,
And will glorify your name forever."
Psalms 86: 9-12

May this be our prayer today and every day.  Justin and I covet your prayers. Please pray for Canaan and Neema and their health and safety. The Congo is an unhealthy and often dangerous place. My heart aches to be with them and hold them in my arms. Pray for us that God continues to mold us into the parents He desires us to be. And pray that He will provide a way financially for us to get these boys home to us.