Monday, November 25, 2013

Cocooning (aka Where Did You Go?)

Hey everyone!! We are SO EXCITED to bring Isaac T home very, very soon! We know many of you are very excited also, are very invested in our growing little family, and have expressed interest in meeting our son right away. Because of this we wanted to take a minute ad explain a process called cocooning that we will be implementing as soon as we leave the airport and arrive home. 

Cocooning is basically where a newly adoptive family takes a dedicated amount of time to stay home, get to know each other, and build bonds and *attach*. Attachment is a big buzzword in the adoption world and is highly recommended by adoption experts. Most children attach naturally when they learn that their parent(s) will meet all of their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. This continues UNLESS something happens to disrupt that attachment. 

Without publicizing our son's personal story, it is fair to say that for pretty much all children in his situation, the next few months will be extremely difficult. Please understand that EVERYTHING is brand new and therefore scary. Almost every sight, sound, smell, taste, and texture will be new. His family is also so so new, and he will have to grow to trust us as parents who always provide and who are always there for him. In the orphanage/transition home he has had a rotation of people come in and out to care for him. This is very different from a family structure. 

All this to say, we would love if we could invite everybody over to meet him and bring him everywhere we would normally go right away, but this just is not a logical possibility. We don't know exactly how long we will cocoon. Three months is what we have been saying as a general guideline, but it could be more or less just depending on his needs. Sometimes we may go out to very uncrowded public places, sometimes we may invite one or two people over, but there's no guarantees on these things. It's even a possibility that after we leave the cocoon we will go back into the cocoon if that is needed. Please know that we love you and we want you to get to know our son, but ultimately his needs will come first. 

When we do start to break out of our cocoon, there are a few things to remember. If you happen to see us out and about, feel free to say hi, talk to him, wave, high five, etc. For now though, please please please refrain from hugs, holding, kisses, pats on the back, and other physical signs of affection. As his parents, we want him to be safe, and part of safety is a healthy sense of stranger danger. You all are obviously not strangers to us, but you are very much strangers to him. This guideline goes both for friends and family, and please know it won't last forever, just until Isaac T gets to know you. :) 

A special note for when he eventually starts coming to church... this is a special situation because not just one or two, but dozens and dozens of you will likely want to approach him and meet him. Please realize that although we want each and every one of you to get to know him, if a mob "attacked" that would be an incredibly overwhelming and anxiety-filled time for him. Give him space, let him get used to things, smile and wave and only approach if he looks safe and comfortable. This is just for a season, it won't be forever, and we want him to enjoy attending church and not fear it. :) 

Finally, although we just discussed numerous ways that Isaac T's arrival is different from a newborn coming home from the hospital, there are some similarities too. We will most likely be frazzled for a while, lacking sleep, lucky to take a shower and to put on clean clothes. Although it may seem to the contrary, you really do have a huge role to play in Isaac T's homecoming. We covet your prayers for all three of us as we transition into this new normal and as God begins to heal our son's heart from his great loss. It will be easy for us to feel isolated during the cocoon, so please text, call, email, and generally stay in touch. 

Thank you for your understanding. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask. We can't wait to bring Isaac T home!! :)

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Our Referral and First Trip to Ethiopia

Currently it's 7:30 am, and I've been up since 3:30. The jet lag has my body confused, which creates a disorienting and unwelcome feeling. As I type a pot of coffee is talking with spurts and pops, but I know somehow it will be a disappointment. After being to Ethiopia and having the best coffee in the world, the java brewing doesn't stand a chance. But, I'm moving too fast. Let me go back to July 2nd. On July 2nd I, Brandon, was running a youth camp for my church students at El Shaddai Ranch in Missouri. The camp thus far was wonderful. I'd seen students draw closer to Jesus, recommitments, and a joy that is only found when one separates from the world. Amid everything I received a message from my wife, Julie. She had tried to call others as well, but the lack of cell reception made it almost impossible to get the call. Fueled by fear I quickly accessed my phone. My first thought was that Julie or another family member was in some sort of accident. Perhaps she was hospitalized. Maybe a loved one had died. At any rate my fingers scurried to get in touch for some answers. When Julie picked up the line she was breathing heavily. My fear darkened. Julie sounded exhausted or as if she was hyperventilating. In quick breaths she muttered the words, "We got... the call." Her message was clear, but it didn't register. "What call?" I asked. My mind was a million miles away from hers at the time. With a brow covered in sweat and students running around me, I couldn't put two and two together. Julie replied, "We got.. the call... the agency has a little boy for us! I need you to get home as fast a possible, and they will give us details." The trip home was a blur. I made a 30 minute drive in about 20, weaving in and out of cars. My heart was beating out of my chest as I thought about the possibilities. After all the work put into this adoption I was about to see a picture of the child God picked for us. My tires screeched as I halted in the driveway, winded and mindless I ran in. Julie and I quickly made the call. We sat in front of laptop as the agency requested. Both of us were excited, but possibilities loomed in the air. What did he look like? How old was he? Did he have 10 fingers and toes? So many questions cluttered my mind. After connecting with the agency we were told we would be the parents of a beautiful five year old boy from Ethiopia. We saw his picture and fell in love. His tall and thin frame beckoned for our arms to surround him with hugs and kisses. As my wife said, "He's perfect." The following three months was like a dream. We were waiting patiently to visit our son for our first trip. Ethiopia asks adopting parents to take two trips. I worked continuously, Julie planned our trip. We collected donations for orphans to take with us. Our church gave us an incredible "baby" shower. Julie worked on little T's room, and I prepared my ministries for the time I would miss. We left on October 11th to go see our son. Nothing would be able to stop our desire to unite with him. We flew through several countries, our luggage was lost, our bodies fatigued by time changes, but nothing would stop us. On October 13th early in the morning we sat in the guest house of Hannah's hope. Julie was dressed in my clothes, which swallowed her. All of her clothes were in the lost luggage. We could hear children playing outside. I wondered if one of those happy voices belonged to my son. My heart yearned to walk outside, but I held strong. After breakfast the opportunity came. With the smell of eggs and french toast lingering in the backdrop, we walked out of the front doors of the guest house. As we did this a gorgeous child walked up. The collar on his striped shirt was bent and half was turned up. He smiled as if he knew us, but didn't really know us. We felt the same. I managed to spout, "Hi T...." T smiled and looked at me and said, "Mommy!" Then turning to Julie he said, "Daddy!" I quickly corrected him, but I'm sure we'll treasure that moment as he grows up. The next few days were wonderful. We spent as much time as possible playing with our son and the the other kids. Little T preferred to have us alone though. He would grab my hand, and we'd follow back to the guest house. There we played board games, hide and go seek, and just cuddled. T stuck to a schedule that Hannah's Hope maintained as well. During his nap or meals, we'd get away and see Addis Ababa, which I'll talk about in a different post. October the 16th was a day of rejoicing and sadness. That morning we went to court and came before a judge that would decide if T would be our son or not. Julie and I, and another adoptive couple, sat in a worn down waiting room. Surrounding us were families from all over the world that were adopting. I could hear a buzz of languages all around me. Each parent a little worried and nervous. Even through the language barrier I could tell that. Then the moment arrived. Both us and our friends went before the judge together. She was a sweet looking lady, nothing like one might expect. Her black robe draped a coat rack, as she sat behind a desk flooded with papers. Only a few simple questions were asked, nothing we hadn't prepared for, and, as quickly as it had begun, she pronounced us the parents of our children. A rush of emotion overpowered me. Tears formed in my ducts, but I pushed them back down. I had said that October 16th was day of sadness too. The reason being that this was also the day we'd depart, and I dreaded it. Julie was noticeably frustrated and sad about leaving our son behind. We both felt helpless, like bad parents, as if we had some sort of choice in the matter. That night an interpreter came and explained to T what was about to happen. We would leave back to "America", but would come back soon to take him with us. T took it well I think. I had hidden a couple gifts under his pillow that we hoped would help him while we were gone. These included a photo album of us, and a talking photo frame. We gave them to him earlier, and Julie was already worried that the frame's batteries would die in a matter of weeks from T pushing it to hear our voices. Maybe those gifts would help a little. They were all we had to lighten the burden of our departure. Finally, We put our retrieved luggage and odds and ends in the van then, and headed for the airport. After getting home we slept, and the next day began opening all of our luggage. It smelled of Ethiopia. It smelled like our son. We just left everything out and reminisced. Another day has passed. Although the smell is almost gone, our bags still sit on the floor, and soon I will have that lack luster cup of coffee. Little T is stuck in my thoughts now. I miss my son.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Waiting Game

When it comes to adoption you will find that emotions are just part of the gig. Even the manly-man may shed a tear (In the case I suppose I, Brandon, am that manly man. Although I do enjoy a pink shirt now and then). Julie and I have realized that anxiety, disappointment, or even helplessness grip us when we allow them to. Actually, I recently went to see Les Miserables, with Julie. This was her choice of movie mind you. I was told that my clothes would be soaked with salty drops of empathy before the final scene. I walked out dry as rock in the desert. I know, maybe I have no soul, or probably real life is so much more intense. Within this adoption we are now playing the waiting game. I believe that God is in this, and I trust Him, but my very human reaction at times is to feel sadness. With so many of our pals on their second or third kiddo, we are just ready to finally begin parenthood. Yes, emotion is very much a part of adoption. I will say that it will all be worth it soon. When I look into the eyes of my child, I'm sure all the waiting, anxiety, and helplessness felt will be washed away by my tears of joy. That I look forward to.

Monday, January 7, 2013

We Need Your Help

Just a quick note that now you can donate through a third party, and it's tax deductible! We love this organization. You can paste this link in your search bar . Another option would be to search Village to Village Intl. (international), and visit the website. Then search for the Boatners. We are one of the newest families on the site.

The Adoption Emotional Roller-coaster

What a new year! We have been on a bit of an emotional roller coaster leading from Christmas through to today, but I'm excited as we press on. Let me start from the beginning, as it is essential to give you some background...especially for those that are thinking about adopting. My family (PB posting by the way) has had some wonderful new editions. Actually within the last 2 month my brother and sisters have had a combined 4 children. That's a bunch of new faces to meet, and we loved every minute of it! This wasn't the emotional part of our trip, although seeing children does make you yearn to have yours home. Part of being a family in the adoption process, at least with AGCI, means that at times you receive pictures of waiting children that need homes. Well, just before Christmas we got a picture of two little boys. These guys were right up our alley in age, need, and we were quick to act on letting the agency know that we were interested. Because of the ages of the boys we also knew that there would be a great chance that we would be able to adopt them (most adoptees want babies, but we are great with older children). Being Christmas time we found offices closed, which is totally understandable. That left us playing the waiting game. Even worse we allowed ourselves to become emotionally attached to the boys by talking about names we could give them etc. On New Years Eve we got an email telling us that the boys were given to another family. I want to say here that we are ecstatic for that family, who we follow through various channels. I am very happy for them, and the boys will be a beautiful addition. Still though, a small part of us was hurting in a big way. Again, our adoption process has taken about 5 years, and we are very ready to be parents! I'm so glad I have God with me, because through Him I know there is a plan. We have children waiting for us, which we will meet in God's time. By the way I believe that will be this year. --PB

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Hello all Pastor Brandon here for an update! I've hijacked the blog due to my wife working incredible hours teaching 4th grade. I'm very appreciative of her. In adoption news, we have been placed on the waiting list for our Ethiopian adoption. That was such a huge milestone for us. Leading up to this point we knew we had some control of the timing of our adoption, but now it's in God's hands totally. For me that's a wonderful feeling. I totally trust God. We have however learned that our official number is more of a gauge than a concrete reference. For instance we began at number 56 then dropped down to 54 thanks to referrals. We quickly began doing the math to see how long it would take for us to tick down to meeting our little one. Our next update though had us moved up to 57. I was in disdain, but found out that some families, who had been in the program longer, had changed their criteria. I suppose with adoption you are always learning. With that in mind, Julie began studying the criteria by which other families were adopting through the Ethiopian program. We found a wonderful community linking many of the families from our agency. Within that list Julie realized that although we are now number 57, because we have less restrictions, we are really somewhere around number 15 for a child that is slightly older (4 or 5 years old). So, we could possibly find ourselves in Ethiopia as soon as 2013. In any case we both know that God is in control. It was God that led us to adopt, and in His time we will bring home the child He's always planned for us! Blessings, Brandon

Sunday, January 8, 2012


We are waaaay overdue for an update... so here it goes!

Brandon and I turned in all of our agency fees over the holidays!! This is such a HUGE milestone. We have also been approved with our home study agency. :)

What we're working on now:
- Completing our home study
- Lots of online adoption education courses, including one in Kansas City soon for our home study.
- FBI checks and medical checks
- A bazillion other documents that all have to be notarized. :)

God is totally working, and we're trusting in His control. It's amazing how everything works together in exactly the right timing.