Incredible Family » Blog

  • One of my son's favorite movies is the movie "The Incredibles". When our second son was born, someone said that his resemblance to "Jack Jack" in the movie was incredible. Our oldest got such a kick out of that and the nicknames stuck. We are in the process of adding a "Violet" to our family through adoption.

keep praying

We continue to feel like puppets on a string in our ongoing adoption saga.  All of the forward momentum and positive energy that was accomplished in the past two weeks has come to a screeching halt.  An official notice has been decreed once more, this time asserting that there will not be a delegation visit to the United States (which was intended to resolve the stated concerns) and no consideration of exit visas for the forsee-able future.  One of the reasons given was because of the April 14 arrest of a Belgian woman charged with child smuggling after attempting to bypass the DRC’s exit controls and leave the country with her adopted child.

There is quite literally nothing left for us to do.  Our hands are completely tied and believe me when I say we have pursued and considered all options.  I know it doesn’t make sense, but I don’t have answers to anyone’s questions because we don’t have the answers ourselves. We truly don’t know when our sweet girl will be home here with us.

I can’t move to the Congo (yet!)….because even if I moved there and established residency (2 years–I researched!) and applied to the USCIS for an immigration interview to bring her home, I would STILL NEED an exit visa for her to leave.  The one thing we do not have and cannot get.  I am not sure visiting is a good idea right now either because I don’t know how I would ever bear leaving her again.

I am sitting in her dark and quiet room, listening to quiet piano music from David Nevue while I write this post. My heart is broken.  Our daughter is living her most formative years in an institution while she longs for her family and we long for her to be part of ours.  Our adoption is completed and we could have already brought her home.  As the days and months continue to march on, we ache to create memories with her and love her as she deserves to be loved. Her Easter dress hangs in her closet, one item among many that she will have outgrown before she arrives. I can picture her twirling in her pretty dress and dancing to joyful Easter music as we smile at her and begin teaching her about Jesus’ powerful love for her.  Another holiday that is slipping past….without her.  I don’t understand and it’s not fair, and I want to pound the floor and scream and throw everything to the wind to be like the Belgian woman.  I can no longer walk past Lyla’s room again and again–it’s just too painful to see her empty bed and her name hanging forlornly on the wall and the blankets lovingly made for her sitting neatly stacked.  I can’t do it anymore so Mr. Incredible and I are going to box everything up and put it all away in the attic and move the furniture to the garage.  An empty space feels more hopeful than a space so clearly designated for her that is so full of unfulfilled expectation. Most of all, I hurt for HER, for our daughter who is waiting.  Waiting for me to come back for her.  The senselessness breaks me apart.

I was sharing my very full heart with a trusted friend yesterday, and she looked right at me and asked me: “but do you trust God?”

Do I trust God?  When nothing makes sense and I don’t understand why we were called to this path only to be left waiting?  When we trudge onward through a life full of pain in so many ways?  Can.I.Trust.Him?

Her question stopped me in my tracks because I wanted to answer honestly.

Yes.  Yes.  and Yes.  Yes I trust in God, no matter what.  I trust in His presence next to me, and I trust in His care for Lyla.  I may cry and question and feel very, very grumpy and may not be a perfect example of a faith-filled life, but my heart will turn again and again to my faithful savior and leave my many burdens there at the feet of the cross.  Tonight I lift up each of my children to Him, and continue to put one foot in front of the other, trusting.


PattiVZ - April 17, 2014 - 8:30 pm

Lots and lots of love….and some prayers mixed in there too.

Shannon - April 17, 2014 - 8:42 pm

Praying for your Lyla and your family. Every day.

Cheryl Barker - April 17, 2014 - 9:57 pm

Emily, my heart aches for you. As you know, our kids are involved in a seemingly never-ending wait as well. They, too, must continually ask themselves if they trust God — and they do, even through tears, they do. May God move mountains for you all and surround you with his very tender love each day!

Paula - April 17, 2014 - 10:56 pm

I love you!

Natalie - April 19, 2014 - 10:00 pm

praying. praying. praying. want to encourage you that your friend is on point: trusting God. I know it hurts so much. hurting for you and your family and hurting with you. we weep with those who weep.

friday five

I started writing this post on Thursday to be a “friday five” theme….now I guess it can be the Sunday Seven?;)That’s about how the last few days have been–go, go, go!

1. Wedding Weekend
Yesterday was my first wedding of 2014, and the entire day was beautiful!! Great details, plenty of opportunities for creativity, a fun bride & groom, and perfect weather.  I rented a lens I’ve been drooling over for a long time (70-200) and ohhh boy I had fun playing.  I know I love my job when at the end of an entire day of working and shooting I could still keep going!!  I always feel it the next day though and that’s why I titled it wedding weekend…I crashed totally dead asleep for two hours this afternoon, and my shoulders are aching from carrying my gear all day yesterday…but the ‘side effects’ are worth it!  Spring is finally blooming and I’m really looking forward to upcoming spring photo sessions as well!!

blog 2. Adoption Advocacy

change world

I have the highest admiration for a leader of integrity who can mobilize a group of people around a cause and together achieve results. I would absolutely love to serve in a role like Kelly from Both Ends Burning–she is my hero and this past week has been an absolute whirlwind of activity under her leadership.  I’m not sure anyone anticipated the depth of motivation and passion that has emerged from this group of adoptive parents :)   She has helped waiting adoptive families with finalized DRC adoptions come together with a common message and a proactive plan, and she has not shied away from requiring hard work from each adoptive family in this past week.  I am SO happy to have had some action in the waiting. I definitely felt like the action items were taking over my life, but it also felt like the highest priority!  Our voices are being heard!!!  The State Department has taken action and made plans for the DRC delegation to meet Congolese children that are home with their American families (there was no plan prior to this, and this was something we were specifically requesting!! You can see the notice here). Seeing families across the country who already have their children home step up and say “we’ll go, we’ll take time off of work, we’ll spend the money to travel, we’ll do this for you waiting families” has repeatedly given me goosebumps and a profound camaraderie for the adoptive community.    We are very very hopeful that this will get things moving in Congo.  Again, I want to firmly emphasize that all of this work has not been to bring to light another country’s faults.  As Angie wrote in this post, our first priority has been to get our own elected officials involved.  They are here to help with issues that are important to their constituents and this week we made it clear what is important to us!  Adoptive parents have been feeling like not enough has been done by the State Department or the Embassy for our stuck children, and that is what we were unhappy about. Yes, we want our kids home. We want them to have exit letters. But we also want to respect their country and their laws. We are doing our best to go about all of this in a respectful way that shows how much we ALL care about Congolese children!!!  I want to also personally thank every single one of you who has also stepped up and out of your comfort zone–posting about the situation on facebook, changing your profile pictures, signing the petition, sending letters to Congress, calling your state representatives, paying to hand deliver letters to Congress–thank you so so much.

Kelly sent this email yesterday:
CONGRATULATIONS! What you have accomplished in less than ten days is
nothing short of spectacular! Over 100,000 letters to Congress were sent
for your children. It appears as many as 200 members of Congress are
stepping forward to extend a hand to the President and Prime Minister of
DRC to seek a solution to whatever it is that stands between you and
your children. You all became the news in over 20 markets, and more
stories are coming every day. For the first time in the history of my
work in this field, members of Congress are reaching out to me to see
what they can do to help you be united with your children. We have an
opportunity to share your love and committment to your children with the
DRC government officials in less than two weeks. For the next few days,
I want you all to regroup and celebrate your success (after you upload
your one-sheets and love letters, of course). We have made real
progress, and we are just getting started! When I tell you this is
unprecedented (the energy around DRC), I mean it.

And just a reminder if you have something negative to say about international adoption, direct your energies elsewhere–I delete all hateful comments and don’t have the time to engage with irrationality.

3. Crockpot Freezer Meals
As my friend Meri and I have continued to read through our parenting books together, we have been challenging each other and holding one another accountable to making changes in our schedules, priorities, time management, and screen time.  One of the stressors we both share is meal preparation.  I meal plan and grocery shop, but still struggle to find the time to cook.  We are both working during the hours our kids are in school, and then want to pay attention to our kids and their homework once they are home in the afternoon. By evening we’re working again and juggling evening commitments or (gasp!) relaxing!  so doing meal prep after the boys are in bed is less-than-appealing.  Meri came up with the genius plan of bulk cooking together 1-2x a month while our boys play.  We made 10 meals together last Saturday that went into the freezer and will be cooked in the crock pot, and we’re getting together again this Saturday to make another 10.  I am SO EXCITED about this.  It feels so great to have fresh, healthy meals made from scratch ready for my family with the added bonus of talking to my friend about life and listening to music and watching the boys play.  We didn’t use anything canned–it was all lots of chopping and mixing!  I haven’t yet decided if I’ll start using these freezer meals regularly, keep them for when I’m in a pinch, or keep them for my guys when I travel to the Congo for weeks on end.

4. Running!
I have been running regularly and plan to step up my running plan to 3x a week in preparation for a race I’m doing in May:)I can’t say I enjoy running 100% while I’m doing it (unlike biking, which I LOVE), mostly because I feel like I’m dying the entire time, but I like how I feel afterwards and so exercise continues to be an important priority for me. I think I’ve found my solution, which is running somewhere I enjoy–the woods, by water, or along the beach–versus running around my neighborhood or the high school track.  This past week I hiked to one of my favorite lakes that has a pretty flat area around the lake and did a couple of loops around the lake.  I ended by sitting quietly on a rock overlooking the lake for a long while and then hiking back to my car and it was exactly what this introvert needed.  I’m hoping to do that again very soon!

blog photo

5. When my words fail, these are the words of my heart:

blog waiting

Liesl - April 14, 2014 - 5:37 pm

I’d love to share freezer crockpot meals with you! A group of moms meet monthly at our church to make 4 meals–they are great to have in the freezer for those crazy nights or weeks you just can’t get to the food store!

Cheryl Barker - April 15, 2014 - 10:20 pm

So, so happy, Emily, to hear about the progress being made on the hurdle in getting your sweet girl home. Praise God!

sifinalaska - April 16, 2014 - 1:25 am

Wow! 100,000 letters?!? That is incredible! I am still so totally praying for you and your little girl friend…


New pictures of our little girl are incredibly bittersweet.  I’m always overjoyed to see her sweet face and pore over every detail, memorizing each part of each new picture and taking in her surroundings in the picture.  But new pictures break my heart too:  the way her face has turned to look into the camera and her eyes are full of hope….her familiar curly eyelashes brushing against her eyelids….the bags under her eyes from too much coughing at night….her latest hair style with box braids….the crumb on her chin that needs a mama’s hand to unthinkingly wipe off….it’s always the little things that get to me and tear me to shreds.  She’s growing up before my very eyes in pictures, and that hurts my heart.  We can’t wait to hold her and love her here as part of our family instead of a continent away.

While we wait, and you wait with us(!) we are very honored to share a video that conveys a piece of our hearts for our precious girl–email me for the link!  And if you see us in person, we’d love to share our new picture with you as well:)


*I respect all opinions, including ones that are different from my own.  I will gladly publish comments that are not in support of us if they are done thoughtfully and respectfully.  I invite dialogue, particularly about adoption, and would love to chat further with anyone who has questions.  I strive to live a transparent life, and present myself and our family’s story as honestly as we are comfortable sharing–and to that end will openly respond to differences of opinion.  I will NOT, however, engage with commenters who leave hateful comments to me, calling me names, and making false accusations with no true knowledge of our family.  We are fully aware of the corruption often associated with international adoption, and in no way view ourselves as “saviors” of our child.  Please channel your anti-adoption passion into making a real difference in strengthening biological families both domestically and internationally rather than spending time leaving me comments.  I would be more than happy to connect you with organizations we already support that are making a difference in advocating for change at the root level in this broken world. *

Debbie - April 8, 2014 - 1:11 pm

Looking forward to the day we can see pictures here! I’m so sorry you’ve had unfriendly comments. It seems that no good we do here can be totally clean-cut from a corrupt world. “Forgive them anyway… Succeed anyway… Do good anyway…”

Patti Vander Zee - April 8, 2014 - 8:03 pm

People can be so incredibly rude! Praying with you and for you!

Cheryl Barker - April 8, 2014 - 11:48 pm

Emily, my heart aches for you all. May God move mountains and bring your girl home soon!

Liesl - April 10, 2014 - 7:24 pm

I’d love to see you video Emily! Can’t imagine the frustrations and broken hearts you deal with each day. Praying God’s will be done.