Thursday, March 16, 2017

A New School

Ever since we told our kids we were moving to Minneapolis, their biggest worry has been over switching schools and making new friends in the middle of the school year.  Nate and I have only ever lived in small town Iowa and we went to the same school our whole lives. I didn’t know exactly how to walk them through this because I hadn’t personally experienced it, but I’ve walked through other fears and I knew that this was going to be an opportunity for God to show up for them individually in an extremely personal way. So in that sense, I could fully enter in to my kids’ fears and worries and anxiousness about having to start a new school.  And as their mom, their fears and worries were also mine.  So since December, every morning before school when we would talk through our move and talk about their excitement and their worries, we would pray for God to go before our family in this move and specifically when it was the kids turn to pray, they would pray some form of “God, please give me a nice teacher and a nice friend at my new school.”

Fast forward to this week.  We’re now living in Minneapolis and honestly, there are a ton of things I could write about and showcase how God has come through for us and has gone before us, but I felt led to write about how He came through for us with their new school.  On Monday, I had to go to the school and start the registration process.  I walk in and was just taking it all in and trying to convince myself this was all a good idea.  The lady helping me was honestly not super kind that day and apparently I was supposed to bring in a bunch of papers that I had no idea about.   She clearly was annoyed that I was there and that I brought nothing with me.  She eventually hands me a packet of paperwork for each kid, and I sit down feeling overwhelmed at the stack of papers in front of me, but I fill it out and give it back to her.  I told her I’d be back the next day with the rest of what she needed.  I walked out to my car and thankfully my friend was at our house and kept the kids with her so I could be alone while I was processing all of this.  I started to get all emotional and freaking out inside and basically just telling myself that this was going to be so hard.  For the first time, I was starting to feel the sacrifice of this move.  We are definitely not in Huxley, Iowa, anymore.  There wasn’t anything bad about the school or anything scary, it was just all so different and I felt like a fish out of water.  I started praying as I was driving back to our house and I felt the Spirit saying “Calm down and trust Me.”  So I convinced myself to not burst into tears, enjoy the day with our friends and I’d deal with all this school stuff later.

On Wednesday morning the lady from the school called and said, “Well, how about your kids start tomorrow?”  Umm, yeah, sure I guess.  I felt sick to my stomach and I knew they were going to freak out when I told them.  Especially Max.  What is it with boys and school anyway?!?  Our friends left before lunchtime and the kids sat down to eat their lunch, and I gently broke them the news that they were going to have to start school the next day.  The girls both said, “Noooo!” and Max buried himself in the couch and just starts pleading with me that he does not want to start a new school.  All while he has tears in his eyes.  Every part of me wanted to say, yep, no more school for you guys!  Except someone had to be the adult in this situation and by default, it was me.  We got in the car and they were all so sad and pathetic looking and in somber moods.  And honestly, I was, too.  It was almost like God just let me in on exactly how they were feeling. 

As a parent, it’s so tempting to try and shield your kids from all their pain and all their fears and want to jump in and either prevent it from happening or immediately take it away when it comes.  But God has been saying to me for months that what if this move is exactly what my kids need to know Him?  What if all these fears and worries they have are the exact thing He’s going to use to make Himself known to each one of them individually? 

We walk in to their new school and go to the office and my intentions were to hand the lady the paperwork and head back home.  I walk in and the same lady that had been unfriendly the day before was like a different person.  She smiled at me and talked with each of the kids and told them she was excited for them to start.  She wrote down who their teachers would be and which classroom they’d be in.  Then she asked another secretary if she had time to give us a tour of the school and show them their classrooms.  This is when God started to meet all four of us and show us that He really did go before us and He was already preparing them for this school.

The kids are still down and not excited to be there at this point.  We start walking down the hallway and right as we do, Avery’s new teacher and her whole class are coming from the other direction.  I was not expecting this at all but her teacher saw her and said, “Oh, you must be Avery!  We’re SO excited to meet you!  Can I give you a hug?!?”  She came over and hugged her and then her whole class started whispering very excitedly to each other that this was Avery.  I was in complete shock.  I was not expecting for her class to already know who she was or that she’d be starting school the next day.  I just stood there trying to process what was happening.  We talked with her teacher for a little bit and then we kept walking.

Sure enough, the next class we meet walking towards us in the hallway was Max’s.  Almost the exact same scene played out with his teacher.  His teacher said, “Oh, we’re so excited to have you and in fact, all the kids are fighting over who can have their locker next to yours.”  And then a swarm of five boys all come over to him and start patting his shoulders saying “Hi, Max! Hi, Max!”  I about burst into tears on the spot.  I kept praying in my head, ‘Lord, let me keep it together!’ This one boy had a giant smile and super red cheeks and said out loud to no one in particular, “Yes!  My locker is by him!”  It was like he was a movie star.  And in true Max fashion, he just stood there not saying a word and I could tell he was also shocked by it all, but then pretty soon I see his little grin and dimples appear.  For whatever reason, this was such a huge gift to me, specifically for him.  Immediately his heart started softening.

Then we went to Mya’s class and she might have the sweetest teacher I’ve ever met.  She also knew Mya’s name right away and had already put a sticker with her name on it on a locker for her.  Mya’s smile was huge the whole time we were in there.

After that, all three of their demeanors and countenance changed.  They started laughing and smiling and it was such a huge relief for all of us.  I could almost feel the weight lifting off of them.  The secretary was kind enough to let us tour the gym, the pool area, the art room and one of the recess areas.  They were so excited to learn they’d get to go swimming once a week. 

On our drive back home Max said, “That school is awesome!” 

I was so filled with gratitude and peace after we left the school.  It was in complete contrast to our drive to the school.  God proved to me that He had gone before us and He had, in fact, prepared this school for our kids.  He took all our worries and He completely came through for us.  I am relieved and in awe at His provision.  My prayer is that our kids will never forget how God came through for each of them and this will just be one of many experiences they have in learning that God is trustworthy and they are deeply loved by Him.  New adventures are new opportunities to trust God for more. 

This morning they were each so excited to get to school.  In our devotions this morning, we once again read the verse that we’ve been praying for almost three months.  Deuteronomy 31:8 “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”  This time, we were able to recount all the ways that God answered this prayer for each one of them.




Thursday, February 9, 2017

Adoption Update and Pictures!

I just wanted to post a quick update on where we're at in the adoption process now and share a few more pictures of the boys. 

On January 27th, we passed court with our boys!!  This was HUGE.  We had been told we would go to court in August of 2015.  It started out that each week had a delay and weeks turned to months and then months turned into a year.  Then on December 9, 2016, God literally just opened up a way to make this possible.  We had so many people praying that we would pass court before Christmas.  We were asking for a Christmas miracle.  Even though we didn't actually pass court before Christmas, there are SO many miracles that God did to make it possible for us to even go to court in January.  The fact that it took us so long to just get past court makes this step that much sweeter.  

In international adoption, every country has different laws and every process looks different.  Passing court in Ghana makes the boys our children.  They are officially and legally Wykles:)

Many people have asked, "What now?".  What happens now is we wait for their birth certificates and all the documents from court in Ghana.  Once we have those things, we file what's called the I-600.  Basically what this form does is looks at all the information we've already provided and the court documents in Ghana and approves our boys to be our children in the U.S.  While we wait for this to be approved, they'll get their passports in Ghana.  We don't really know how long it'll take for this step to happen.  The fastest we have heard of an I-600 getting approved is three weeks, but since Ghana hasn't processed adoptions for so long, we really just don't know.  We're obviously praying for 'as quickly as possible' and yet, we have learned sweet life long lessons through the waiting and trusting. 

After this approval, we'll receive a visa packet from the U.S. Embassy in Ghana.  The boys will go through medical appointments in Ghana and then we will have an exit interview with the Embassy.  If everything is good to go, then they'll receive their visas and we will be on our way to bring them home!  Our agency recommends that we don't travel until the visa is actually printed in case something doesn't go as planned.

With all that being said, we are so grateful for where we're at but there is still a journey ahead and we would love for you to keep lifting our family up in prayer.

Max and I went to Ghana right after Christmas and spent three days with the boys.  Here are some pictures from our time.

It's kind of hard to see what's going on here, but right when we got to the mission center, Max ran up to Joshua and they gave each other a big hug.

Seth, Joshua and my cousin, Lily

Joshua has the BEST smile!  It seriously melts me.

This dude is FULL of life!  There are many adventures to come with Seth and probably some broken bones as well because he's constantly jumping off of something or doing flips or climbing up things. 

Samuel and Max hanging out in the hotel.  He got a whole day to hang out with us, which was such a gift.

Samuel already taking on the big brother role.

This was our last night together before leaving Asikuma.  The boys came to the hotel with us and ate dinner and then we sat around a table and played UNO.  This is one of those times that will be forever cemented in my mind.  God used laughter and lightheartedness to help me see their personalities come through and gave me glimpses of what life will be like raising these four boys.  I think back on this night so much and it just makes me smile.  It was a tremendous gift for all of us.  It was like God was starting to knit us together through a game of UNO.  Samuel and Seth are competitive, like me, and Joshua really could care less.  Most of the time he was scheming on ways to give me all the cards and then would just laugh and laugh when it worked.  

Joshua and I from my trip in May 2016
Another question I get a lot is, "Was it hard to leave them?"  Yes is the answer.  I've been there twice since we decided to adopt them and both times were really hard to say good-bye.  The first time I bawled like a baby as I kissed their foreheads and got in the car to drive back to Accra.  At that time, I had no idea when we would go to court and I couldn't see any kind of end in sight.  But I will say this time was so different.  The entire time with them was a gift.  At one point I had to even talk with one of them and tell him that he needed to stop pouting and just see our time as a gift.  He was already sad we were leaving and it was the first day!  Even in Africa when mom mode kicks in, it kicks in.  However, having to tell him that out loud made me realize I needed to practice what I was preaching to him.  From then on all of us really did just see our time as a gift God gave us that He didn't have to give us.
So when we left this time, I was at the hotel waiting for our ride and I was starting to get emotional.  I was fighting back the tears and trying to talk myself out of losing it in front of everyone.  I took the boys out to this gazebo area and we sat down and prayed together.  After that, it's like God just took all my emotion out of it.  We drove them back to the mission center and I hugged them and kissed their foreheads again and they ran up to get ready for bed.  Instead of being so overwhelmed with sadness this time, I was so filled.  And they were, too.  I just felt this overwhelming sense from the Spirit that we're on our last stretch.  I am still holding on to that as we keep moving forward and we keep praying for them to be home.  It was also so good to be able to tell them that we had a court date coming up and God was, in fact, moving. 
It was such a great trip and hopefully I'll share more on that later!
"The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still." ~ Exodus 14:14