Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Greetings from Africa!

We are safely here in Uganda. We woke up to a beautiful morning, and we are having a great time. Will post more as time allows.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Whirlwind

Getting ready to go to Africa for a month with only a few day's notice is a bit overwhelming. We are scrambling to take care of lots of last minute details, but oh so excited. We leave on Sunday afternoon and arrive Monday night. We should get to meet Tommy on either Tuesday or Wednesday.

Our court date is July 2nd, probably in the morning. Time there is UTC/GMT +3 hours, or 8 hours ahead of CDT and 10 hours ahead of PDT.

It would not be unusual for the Judge to ask us to gather more paperwork and come back in a few days. After whatever day he decides to hear our case, the wait for his ruling will be (hopefully) one week. Then we will be gathering paperwork, getting his passport, and getting a visa. Due to problems at the American Embassy, this may take longer than usual. I am currently planning on six weeks stay (up from the original plan of four to five weeks). Jeff will leave after two weeks, and my mom will arrive that same day to stay with me for the duration.

For the initial part of our journey, please pray for:
- Safe Travel
- Safety in country
- Bonding with Tommy
- That our court date will not be postponed, and that the the Judge will be satisfied with our paperwork the first time around
- That the judge will look upon us with favor

We love you all and have been so blessed by your comments, emails, and Facebook posts.

I need to run and pack but I just have to share this story:

I emailed a friend of mine about collecting clothes for our orphanage and mentioned that we didn't have much for Tommy and that the last thing I was feeling like was shopping. A short while later, a man came up to her at our church, where she works, and told her he had a bunch of baby toys and things to donate. He brought them to another church in our area, but they didn't have a place to store them, so they sent him to our church. She told him about us and he decided to donate them to us! So now we have some toys and books to take for Tommy, and we have a big bag of girl's shoes to bring to the orphanage. Best of all, most of the toys are very light, so they will travel really well. I was pretty overwhelmed by God's goodness to us.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Feeling the Love

This is going to be a long story. A while back a friend of mine emailed me a link of the blog of a woman who was selling crafts to raise money for her adoption. She suggested that I do something similar with little quilts. I thought it was a great idea, but at the time I did not have the energy to do that much quilting, and, truthfully, it is a great deal of work/expense, so I didn't think it would be cost effective. Then I had a great idea- I could make a few quilts and do a raffle. Fortunately, I remembered that there are gambling laws before I went ahead with this genius idea. Private citizens can't hold giveaways that coincide with a purchase or donation. But, non-profits can. So I approached my church in California to ask if they would consider using the quilts I made for a raffle that would support our adoption, and potentially create an adoption account at the church that could inspire and benefit other families as well.

I wrote up a proposal and sent it in for consideration at the meeting, and then explained my idea and the legalities behind it to a very astute businessman (whose "good looks" I happen to share, as he would say) who is on the elder board. He agreed to clarify any questions the elders might have, but warned me that churches don't like to have lots of extra accounts, so the idea might not be that appealing.

We prayed and waited, and heard back that the elders loved the idea not only of supporting our adoption, but also of having a continuing adoption fund to help other families in the church adopt. Praise God!

We feel so thankful for our St. Andrew's Family. We have been blessed by them so many times throughout our lives, from the teaching we received in Sunday School, their willingness to put up with us in Jr. High and High School (any camp counselor of mine deserves a gold medal), to their acceptance of the craziness Jeff teaches their kids (does God really have a Scottish accent?)- this community has walked besides us, molded us, and cared for us. We love them so much.

Here is the official announcement that appears in the church bulletin:

ADOPTION FUND
St. Andrew's is excited to announce the creation of an "Adoption Fund." The funds donated to the Adoption Fund will be used to help couples as they pursue their adoption of a child. Initially, these funds will be used to support Amy & Jeff Klug. Please join us in praying and supporting their efforts to adopt a child from Uganda .

Tax deductable donations can be made out to "St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church;" please write on the check "Adoption Fund." Checks can be dropped in the Sunday offering plate or sent to St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, 301 Avenue D, Redondo Beach, CA. 90277. Thank you for your donation.


Quilt #1: 27.5 in. by 34 in.

Quilt #2: 27.5 in. by 34 in.

Quilt #3: 30 in. by 30 in.

As for the quilts...they are being donated to the church, and anyone who makes a donation to the fund will be entered to win one of them. These donations are tax-deductible.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

It's a Boy!

Tommy Klug (he has a longer name, but we have to be careful about what personal information we post on the blog until after he is legally ours)- 14 months, 24 lbs. He is from the Ibanda region of Uganda. Our court date is currently scheduled for July 1. We are still awaiting confirmation on that (due tonight). If all goes well with the confirmation, we will be expected in Uganda by Tuesday at the latest. Time to get on a plane...

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

One Year

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Father's Day

I am so grateful that God gave Jeff to me.
Jeff loved Leah so fiercely. He placed a high value on her precious life. From the moment we learned I was pregnant he carefully watched over both of us. When Leah was born, he was so protective of her. He stood guard over her during her short life. She never left his sight. He treated her with the greatest tenderness. I wish I could have seen him give her her bath. I am told the way her gently washed and dressed her was a precious testament to his love.
I will never forget his determination to carry her casket from the hearse to the grave. He didn't have to, but he wanted to. This act of service must have cost him a great deal. Her casket was so small in his arms. After months of watching me carry his daughter alone, he had a chance to do the same. I think in those moments he got a taste of my connection with Leah and my pain. He bore all that willingly. Truthfully, I think he longed for it. I couldn't have asked for a better Dad for my daughter.
I also couldn't ask for a better husband. He has grieved alongside me, he has gone to support group with me, he wakes up in the middle of the night to hold me when I cry, when I'm home he calls me throughout the day even though he is really busy at work, and he doesn't complain when I don't have the energy to cook him dinner.
This is my favorite picture of Jeff and Leah. I think it speaks volumes.



Happy Father's Day, Jeff. You are a great Dad.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Communication in Uganda

Since we are preparing to leave on short notice we thought now might be a good time to set up our communication for Uganda. We do not have a computer to take (Jeff's laptop belongs to his work and mine has died), so we will be using internet cafes as much as possible. We do not know what method of communication will be the easiest. It seems that it can depend on where you are and what you have access to (some people have trouble with email but can blog, other have the opposite issue).

Our first preference would be to post to this blog, but since that might not always be possible, we will be setting up an email list to send out updates and prayer requests. We have appreciated having all of you on this journey with us, and want to continue to share our lives with you as best we can while we are out of the country. If you would like to be on that list please email us at lovinglittleleah@gmail.com.
Hopefully things are actually moving this time. We hope that this is really it, but we are also trying to prepare ourselves for a delay. We appreciate you prayers and support.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Turn the Page, or Visa Update

This morning my buzzer rang unexpectedly. I used the intercom to ask who it was, and I hear "post office with a package from the Embassy of Uganda." Our visas!

I ran downstairs, signed, ran back up, ripped open the package, grabbed a visa, flipped it open, saw the visa sticker, and read "canceled without prejudice."
My heart stopped.

That couldn't be good. So I googled the term, and read, to my dismay, that such a stamp signals an error in the application. I was scared. If they canceled our visas without calling, it must have been a big mistake.

I called the embassy. I began some incoherent statement about sending in my applications and getting them back canceled and wondering what that meant. The woman who works there said, "Have you turned the page"

Well, no. So I did.

"We accidentally used the wrong sticker," she explained, "so we put your visa on a different page."

There it was, my visa for entry. Signed, stamped, and ready to go. I stopped shaking. I felt much better. I thanked her profusely and hung up.

We still don't know if we will be traveling or not. We will hear in the next few days if our lawyer was able to get us an early enough court date. We continue to pray that God's will would be done (and that it would be to GO) and that he will guide our decisions, and comfort us if we don't get the answer we want to hear.

He has also been at work to provide for us.

We will keep you all posted.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Chaos

I'm not really sure how I feel. We have been through a roller coaster of emotions, and we are in for days, if not weeks, of uncertainty.

Let's review: June 24th is Leah's birthday. Sometime between now and then, we may or may not be receiving a referral. Our agency clearly thinks they are going to get something done, because they have asked us to time our visas to arrive in Uganda on the 26th of June (really it will have to be the 27th because of flight schedules). But, they don't know for sure if we are going yet, so we do not have tickets. I checked ticket prices a few hours ago, and wow, if God doesn't do something big we are not going to be able to afford to go. Last minute travel is not cheap, especially to Uganda. To be fair, I haven't checked with a travel agent yet, so things may be a little better than they seem. However, we would need them to be a lot better to get anywhere near to the price we had budgeted to pay.

Right now I am really struggling. This is the exact opposite of how I like things. Too much uncertainty, and too many things to do to prepare for all of the possibilities. Here are my biggest fears:

1. That no referral will come and we will find out that we are not going, right in time for Leah's birthday, a day that was already going to be very very hard. I cannot even fathom what that combination of grief and disappointment would feel like, and I do not want to find out.

2. That a referral will come, but that we will not be able to afford tickets OR that the referral will come but we will not get an early enough court date and I will have live with the reality that I have a child that I am not taking care of.

3. That a referral will come, and so will the court date, but it will require us to fly before Leah's birthday and I won't get to have the time to do the things I had planned to mark the day (obviously this is the least bad of my three worst case scenarios, but I still don't like it).

I wish that I could just tell my agency that we want to wait until August so that we could afford tickets, however there is a disadvantage to us waiting until then (besides knowing that we have a child living in an orphanage). My mom is planning on coming to Africa after our court dates finish so that Jeff can fly home and get back to work. She starts school at the end of August, so if we have a court date in August she won't be able to come. Lots of wasted shots!

Pray that we will have peace while we wait on God's timing for this. Right now I feel like He may be a little nuts. I have no idea how He could make any of this come together and possibly work out. Yet, I also know that His ways are not my ways. Today is one of those days when I wish that I was still one of those people whose lives always work. It is so, so easy to trust God when situations seem to work out nicely no matter what, and you can just assume that if something seems unfortunate it is only because God is planning an even better surprise to make you even happier. Ugh.

So, clearly we need prayer. I figure by posting a little window into my insanity, I might even get some extra sympathy prayers. You can't blame me for trying.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Adoption Updates

As many of you know, we have felt that things have been a little rocky recently with the adoption. We have been working with our agency regarding our concerns and feel that they have been heard and at least partially addressed. We feel good about the conversations we have had.

It was difficult for us to confront some of the problems. We were worried about jeopardizing our process. However, we felt that we could not live with our anger because Christ has called us to a different way. This meant working on honestly and lovingly voicing our hurts, pointing out the truth, and working towards reconciliation. It took a few tries, but we believe we have made substantial progress, and the conversation continues. Praise God.

We covet your continued prayer for our adoption. We remain unsure of when we will travel, but have begun to make preparations to travel on short notice, as this may become necessary. To be clear, we do not have a referral yet, but they would like to prepare us for travel in case they can get us one in the next few weeks. The courts will be closing very soon, so if we don't travel by the end of June I don't anticipate going until August or September.

The next few weeks will be very stressful for us. We are counting down the days until Leah's birthday (the 24th) all the while attempting to make arrangements to leave the country on short notice. Jeff just found out today that he has a beamtime at the lab next week, and will be working around the clock from this Tuesday to the next. Did I also mention I really need to finish my dissertation (I'm that close)? And that we have to think about moving? As you can see, our uncertainty/anxiety levels are quite high!

Prayer requests:

- Healing in our relationship with our agency
- Protection for our child, and that we would finally get to meet him or her.
- That everything (paperwork) would come together for us to have a court date prior to the court's summer recess, but after Leah's birthday (24th).
- Comfort as we miss our Leah so much, but especially at this time.

Monday, 8 June 2009

June Gloom

The skies have been rather grey around here, both metaphorically, and in reality. It has been a cold spring, with intermittent periods of warm, but thundery and sticky weather. Most of the nights have been quite cold, and we haven't had heat in our apartment since the mid-April cut off, so I've kept flannel sheets on the bed. Yesterday, in anticipation of today's 80 degree high/thunderstorm, we switched the sheets to cotton.

Today I woke up feeling particularly gloomy. The clouds this morning were especially thick, I hadn't slept that well so I felt groggy, and I just plain didn't want to get out of bed. I couldn't put my finger on why I felt so bad; I just figured this was going to be one of those days.

This afternoon I had a question for Jeff, so I decided to give him a call. I picked up the phone and went into our bedroom, the one room in our apartment where the cell works reliably, and sprawled across the bed. I called; no answer. I rolled over to get up and was hit by the clearest memory picture: lying on my bed, on top of those same blue sheets, nudging my belly in an attempt to get Leah to kick for a video. Making that video was quite an awkward undertaking. Leah didn't kick often, as she was pretty snug in the womb, but she would be fairly reliable with her thumping in the morning after I showered and in the evening when I was settling into bed. The evening was Jeff's time, so the time for cinematography was in the morning. I would lay down, as flat as possible on the bed, so that my stomach actually made a little bump. With our digital camera set to video I would massage my tummy, talk with her, and poke her a little to get her to wiggle and kick. It was tricky to hold the camera still enough to make the difference between my stomach jumping and general camera unsteadiness discernible. It always seemed like she did her best kicking when I didn't have the camera ready.

video

I don't know if the blue sheets triggered all this, or if it was the weather, the timing, or (probably) all three. I am thankful for the reminder of good memories with Leah, but so tired of grieving. And the June gloom has just begun.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Perfect Timing

On Monday evening I flipped to the next chapter in our devotional, and saw the theme for this week: hope. It couldn't have come at a better time, as when I flipped open the devotional I was feeling pretty hopeless.

Don't get me wrong, I have hope in the broadest sense of the word- hope in the resurrection, hope that God's sovereignty will ultimately prevail, hope for the restoration of this earth, and hope that God will use our sufferings for His purpose. However, when it felt like when it came to my life, I only had resignation. We are dealing with a great deal of uncertainty, some from the adoption, but also from our work and living situations (which, of course, affect the adoption), and every time it seems like we might get some resolution, something completely out of our control goes wrong. Last week a few big problems cropped up, and by the end of last week Jeff and I were both emotionally spent.

When I flipped open the devotion to this week's readings, I was overwhelmed by God's timing. The first day He hit us with Romans 5, which is one of those scriptures I memorized years ago that has both helped and frustrated me through this experience.

The next day our verses were Romans 8:23-25:

And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies He has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)

This passage spoke to me. It assured me that I really do have hope. To question whether or not life will turn out the way I want it is not a lack of hope. Real hope has nothing to do with me receiving the things I desire. Real hope is that God will do what He has promised. Absolutely nothing has happened to us that warrants doubting that.

Suffering can be very difficult to do in a Christian community. People seem to see sorrow, or the acceptance that your physical or emotional suffering may continue, as signs that you have no faith. I have lots of faith, I just also happen to accept that my perfect version of reality may not be what God has in store for me. The "American Dream" is not one of God's promises. He doesn't promise me good health, long life, a house, two cars, 2.3 kids, nice clothes, or a flat screen TV. If I don't get any of those things, I can't shake my fist at God. If I do get them, I will count them as blessings.

Thank goodness God interrupts our version of reality with His version of reality: scripture. Sometimes my view gets so distorted that I begin to accept a lie. Hope is not believing that God will make you happy by giving you everything you want, hope is knowing that God has a plan, and it is a good one.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

My Leah Bear


At our support group last week, the leader asked if we had anything physical that we used to comfort us and remind us of our babies. I immediately thought of my bear.

The brand of casket that we chose for Leah's burial (it was actually a combination casket/vault) came with some accessories: a blanket, which I assume they wrapped Leah in, and a little Teddy Bear, which they gave to us at her funeral.

When I first saw the bear I thought it was a bit cheesy. It was wearing a t-shirt printed with the casket motif "Loved and Cherished" in blue, and the funeral directors had placed it by the flowers sent by my Grandma and Grand-Aunts and Uncles (the ones who gave us the plot to bury her). However, when the time came to leave after the service, I couldn't bring myself to leave the bear behind.

Since then, that bear has been a great comfort to me. It is weird for me, because I don't recall ever sleeping with a stuffed animal as a child, and, while I had a favorite blanket, I was very careful with it and rarely slept with it (true to my preservationist nature). In those first few hard hard weeks I slept with that bear often. My two favorite things to do were to put it in a headlock in the crook of my arm, or shove it almost all the way underneath me. It makes me feel less alone, and helps me fall asleep. The bear helped eliminate one of the strange physical manifestations of grief that we (and many other parents) experienced: the feeling of empty arms.

The feeling of empty arms is not just emotional. My longing for Leah left my arms with a physical sensation. They had held her, they knew what she felt like cradled close to my heart, and they had to give her up. My arms wanted Leah back. They ached.

Having that little bear was a poor substitute, but it was something.

I very rarely sleep with the little bear anymore. I keep it on my bedside table, in the laps of these build-a-bears that Jeff and I made when we were first dating.

Last night I had trouble sleeping, despite feeling exhausted. I felt so plagued by sadness. Earlier in the day I overheard some strangers in conversation, and one said "Happy June 1st" to the other. It hit me then: June has started, Leah's birthday is drawing near. I'm not ready.

Last night I was glad for my bear. It was good to have something, anything, to hold onto.