Saturday, August 23, 2014

Adoption Update!

Greetings from the Pearl of Africa!

We have been in Africa now for 1 week! First off, it’s BEAUTIFUL here and the people are beautiful as well! We are lodging just south of Kampala (the capital city of Uganda). It’s beautiful here and they are taking very good care of us! It’s also a long stone’s throw from the children’s home that the little guy is from. The question(s) you are all probably wondering is how are we and how is the little one? We are well and he is well! Look for our next update….


We met our little guy on Sunday, August 17, 2014. He just blankly stared that day. He was very much in shock. If you think about it, how would you feel if you were going about your daily routine and just finished lunch, and then all of a sudden, people whom you have never met come in and take you to live with them! You would probably either scream or just go blank. He clung very tightly to us and slept a lot as well as stared at us. It was a great and emotional day for all 3 of us!

Monday, we went to town and exchanged money, got passport pictures taken and got groceries/toiletries. There was a very pleasant surprise from our little guy…it was our first time seeing him smile, laugh and yes, even SING! J

Tuesday was our first court hearing. Normally there are 2 or 3 hearings which takes 2 or 3 weeks and then there is a ruling which may take another week. Turns out, we only need the one hearing and the ruling will hopefully come next Tuesday! Pretty crazy! The ruling is whether or not legal guardianship is granted. Overall, it was a pretty fun and nerve wrecking day. However, we did see the beauty of the Lord of lords.

Wednesday and Thursday, we hung out at the guesthouse having fun, bonding, laughing, smiling and getting food and snot all over our clothes! Lol They were very enjoyable days! During these days, we saw a lot of growth in him! He actually is bonding quite well! Showing lots of emotion and expressing needs and building trust. There is a lot of work left to be done, but it is encouraging to see these steps;. We are also getting to see his personality-which we LOVE!

Friday, we went to the Buganda Parliament and Palace. That was fun! We got to learn about some of Uganda’s history and current state of affairs. This was neat to experience as this is part of his history and we were able to document these tours so that when he gets older he will be able to learn about the culture. We are also enjoying very much the company of the staff at the guest house. We are getting to know each other rather well. It has been fun to learn about our son’s culture through them (vegetation, language, history, lifestyle and food-which has been GREAT!)

Friday night we almost got no sleep, because the little man was crying for almost the whole night. We aren’t exactly sure what the reasoning was. It could have been constipation, teething, an overwhelming day and also the changes in his life recently. So, we are quite tired today! However, it was exciting to watch him stand for the first today!

We are very excited to visit to visit Sojourn Church tomorrow. They are located in Kampala and are part of the Acts 29 Network-the same network River City is a part of!

Thank you for your prayers, support and encouragement! Please continue to pray for us. For bonding and attachment, for our hearts to rest and delight in the Lord and to walk in the Spirit-preaching the Gospel as we are led, making much of Christ.


The Svalesons


Friday, August 8, 2014

Adoption is So Much More Grand Than Children and Family

As we draw near the time to leave (August 14, 2014) to, Lord willing, meet our son, I want to draw our attention to the true grandeur of adoption.

It is great that a child will be cared for. It is exciting that a family will grow in depth and breadth. Those things are blessings and workings of God's grace. Yet, those things pale in comparison to the reason that adoption exists. Adoption exists to be the most real display of the gospel of Christ. That is a bold statement; and it can be taken lightly, but shouldn't be. (Note: I did not say it is the greatest display of love; that would be laying down one's life for another [John 15:13]; though that is not necessarily void in adoption.)

Here are some implications of the statement "adoption exists to be the most real display of the gospel of Christ." That implies that orphans exist for the glory of God. That implies that parents that suffer greatly because of the difficulties that are unique to parenting adopted children are for the glory of God. That means that poverty is for the glory of God. That means that suffering is for the glory of God. Even though God is absolutely saddened that there are orphans and poverty and unique sufferings, He sovereignly has them exist for the glory of his name. Is God cruel? By no means. Here's why.

If the Lord is the ultimate and the most satisfying, then the best thing He can give us is himself. Problem: we were all children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3), not children of God. So, the best thing that we could have (God) is not what we had (God's wrath). How then could we be transferred into the family of God? Adoption.

How did that adoption happen? The Word became flesh (Jesus Christ) in order to live and fulfill the covenant established on Mount Sinai as the true Israel and to die and fulfill the covenant established with Abraham as the one who was obligated to fulfill the covenant. So then, we became heirs. But heirs with no benefit until we would die to lay hold of our estate (the kingdom of God). So, Christ was raised from the dead, ascended to the right hand of the Father, and sent his Spirit in and among all who would believe (John 1:12-13) such glorious news to not leave us as orphans (John 14:15-27).

We were adopted from the domain of darkness, of sin and into the kingdom of light, of holiness, of righteousness. We were once sons of wrath and of the "prince of the power of the air" (Ephesians 2:2), but now we are sons of the Most High God, Yahweh himself!

Reality: even though we have been adopted, we still struggle with identifying ourselves as children of God, and so we sin. Yet, He reminds us over and over and over that we are his and He is ours; and He graciously restores us, disciplines us, and gives us great delight and joy in him.

He, Christ, left his home for certain death to bring children into his family.

As we leave our home, we may not be going for certain death, but we are definitely going to die (to sin and self). We go to bring an orphan into our family that he may no longer be an orphan but rather a son. There will be times when he will think, feel, and act like an orphan and not "like a Svaleson"; but we will be there to graciously restore him, discipline him, and give him delight in belonging to our family (Lord willing :-). Oh, there is so much more grandeur to show!
(Let me make a quick note. We cannot draw every parallel. We are not rescuing a child from a lesser culture and area; Christ did that for us, but we are not doing that in this case. The United States isn't any better than other cultures.)

And all of this is done to display the glory of God in Christ Jesus. This is done to make disciples of Jesus who make disciples of Jesus. This is done because we want to make Christ's name the greatest, because his name is the greatest. Adoption exists to be the most real display of the gospel of Christ. And we are excited to be a living, breathing, walking testimony to that reality.

In Christ,

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

We've Been Matched!!!!!

Oli otya? (Luganda for "How are you?", a common greeting in Uganda)

We are beginning to learn Luganda, one of the most common languages spoken in Uganda (English is too, but we already know that). "Why?" you ask. Because, Lord willing we will be heading to Uganda soon to pick up our son!!!! :-) That's right, we have been matched with a child and accepted the referral!

"??!!!???!!!???" That's probably what you're thinking, right? Because that is pretty much what we thought. :) Well, here is the quick version of a long story......

So, there we were, sitting at number 12 on the waiting list (and we are still number 12...we'll get to that later) in February. Being at number 12, we figured it would be quite possibly years before we were matched with a child and received a referral. Then, out of the blue, on March 11, 2014, we received a request to send our homestudy to Uganda. Our international agency, Lifeline Children Services (fantastic agency by the way), had been working on getting things ironed out with a potential new partner in Uganda for quite a while, and our homestudy was going to be sent to that new partner, Oasis Children's Home. They had 3 boys that were potentially available for adoption, and requested homestudies for 3 families.

"HOLD UP!! How did you get to be one of the 3 families when we were number 12 on the waiting list?" That is a great question, and we are glad you asked. So, it turns out that there were 9 families on "hold" that were ahead of us on the waiting list. That means that for a myriad of reasons they were unable to be matched with a child and accept a subsequent referral (most likely many of the families were pregnant). So, we were simply next on the list of eligible families.

We were surprised to say the least.

Now, there is one big thing to note: there were no guarantees of being matched or referred or even of the children being legally adoptable. Lifeline (our international agency) doesn't give referrals until children are as close to 100% legally adoptable (that is orphaned), and that process can take months, at least 6 months most of the time. There was also the added unknown of this new partner, Oasis Children's Home, and the way they like to match guarantees. All we knew is that there were 3 boys and 3 families being looked at, and that nothing goes as planned. :)

We figured it would be 6-8 months before we heard anything. And then maybe another 6-8 months before we could possibly go to Uganda. It was 1.5 months (April 29, 2014) when we heard HUGE news. We found out that Lifeline was going to be making a trip to Uganda to find out if ethical adoptions are still a possibility in Uganda. If they are not, that would mean program suspension, not closure, but suspension (we can talk about that with you if you are curious what that means). AND there is also a legal Act that is in the process of working its way through the court system in Uganda that would install a foster care type system that would probably eliminate all possibility of international adoptions. THAT is HUGE news.

Three options were given of possible routes if ethical adoption is deemed impossible or highly improbable and a suspension on the program occurs. Here is a summary of them.
1) Families can stay in the Uganda program and wait in case the suspension might be lifted.
2) Families can switch programs (that means leave the Uganda program adopt from a different country).
3) Our case might be unique...

At that point we were like, "Huh? Our case?". Yes, that is when we found out that we had been matched with a little boy! Would we accept this referral? Yes! The third option above included subsequent options due to our case being unique...interesting. :)

Anywho, a day or two later we found out that the little boy was about 9 months old and his name is John Luke. We received a picture of him from when he was taken in to Oasis Children's Home, and a few days later received an updated picture. Let's just say that he is cute. :)

There was a lot to do after receiving and accepting the referral. And, with the impending children's Act in Uganda, it seemed that it all needed to be done quickly. So many little bits to this that can only be described by saying that God is the one who is moving things as he sees fit, blowing up all kinds of probable timelines and situations, having probation officers and others in Uganda cooperate when they normally may not (kind of like when God moved in the hearts of the Persian Kings to rebuild Jerusalem recorded in the book of Ezra). It has definitely been crazy. :)

Now we are waiting for some paperwork to come to us so we can get it notarized and sent back so we can wait for a court date in Uganda. We are also waiting to hear from Lifeline regarding their findings in regards to ethical adoptions in Uganda. They will be making the trip May 29-June 7.

There are 3 main realities that come under 1 umbrella reality.
1) There is still no guarantee that this child will be a Svaleson. There is much that needs to happen for this to happen. It is even possible that we can go to Uganda, be legal guardians of John Luke for weeks, and then come home without him.
2) We are short on funds.
3) Everything that needs to happen can happen.

Those three fall under this one reality:
In all of this, no matter the outcome, God will be glorified. And THAT is what excites us most. As hard as it would be to have all of this fall through, or as hard as it would be to be parents of an adopted child, or as great as it would be if everything worked out, God WILL be praised by believers. And he IS working all things together for the good of those who love him and are called according to his be conformed to the image of his Son. The reality that God will be glorified is what propels us to go forward, to follow him. And his glory brings a smile to our face and joy to our hearts. :-)

With all that said, here is our plan moving forward:
1) Be excited!..and grounded in reality.
2) Save as much money as we can.
3) Fill out more grant paperwork.
4) Learn Luganda.

There are a few other things we would like to share with you. So, look for some updates within the next 10 days or so!

Join with us in praising God! Join with us in worshiping Jesus Christ! Join with us in celebrating! Join with us in living for the glory of God's name because we have been united with him by his blood and Spirit! Join with us in ministering to others in Jesus' name! Join with us as we make disciples of the nations! Join with us in clinging to the promises of God in joy and in sorrow, the promises that we will be conformed to the image of the Son! And thank you for joining us!! :-)

In Christ,
Josh and Marissa Svaleson

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Quick Update - February 4, 2014

Here's a quick update on our life!

We should find out this coming Friday where we are on the wait list for Uganda! So that's very exciting! We look forward to that email every month.

Though it is not adoption, we are in the process of becoming licensed for Foster Care. That is exciting and it's moving QUICKLY! It looks like we may have two kiddos in our care in the next couple weeks. They are cute - we have gotten to know them a bit already!

In case you are wondering, foster care is NOT taking the place of adopting from Uganda. We are still pursuing adoption from Uganda - while waiting we want to care for kids in our community.

That's a very quick update!

Thank you everyone for your support in both adoption and foster care. We REALLY COULDN'T fulfill God's call on our life without you. Neither waiting to adopt, nor foster care is easy :) . Please continue to pray for our family as we continue on this journey.

The Svalesons