Sunday, January 10, 2016

We had a baby!

So the last time I posted on the blog it was a post on our adoption. That was one year ago. Since then we have continued to wait on a match for our adoption in Uganda but we also got pregnant. I was just going to give up blogging (I figured I was too far gone and who really reads these anyways?!) but then I started to read posts from when the two bigs were little and I got all weepy. (Blame it on the hormones!) So I decided when he was born I would allow his entrance to break the blogging silence.

So I proudly present to you the most precious baby boy. Fisher is his name. As in Matthew 4:19 "And I will make you fishers of men."

You were born a day late and have been just as chill ever since. Your labor was hard but quick. Two and a half hours quick. And it hurt. I did it with no pain meds but begged for them the whole time.

You weighed 7 lbs. 13 oz. and were our fattest baby to date. You were also our shortest at 19 inches long. You won your mama over with your red hair in the silliest mohawk ever. We still can't get it to lay down.

Since we have brought you home (I can't believe its already been a month) we have loved the stew out of you.


Fisher, Madelyn is absolutely crazy about you. I am shocked she hasn't rubbed the skin off of you. She talks to you in the most precious baby talk and claps your hands and kisses all over you. Fisher, you have given her so much purpose. She was in a hard season and then you came along. Between you and Jesus, she is a happy little girl.

Camden thinks you are pretty swell but he is ready for you to get bigger and be able to do things with him. My favorite thing he does is ask to hold you and then whispers to you "Its ok, Big Brother is here now." It send my mama heart into over drive. 

Sweet boy, you have already added so much to our family. We are all still adjusting to a new life here with us but you were always meant to be here. I am so glad God designed you to be a Russell. I think you are going to like it here. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Why We Aren't Adopting a Black Child

Racial tension and inequality is something I have always been aware of. Heck, I live in the deep south. The tension is there. But it has never had a direct affect on me.

Until now, that is.

When we made our decision to adopt, people gave their "oh wow. Bless your hearts for doing something so good" and their "congratulations! how old will they be?"

Then the process continued. We were really going through with this and not everyone agreed with our decision.

And then we got some cruel statements. Statements like "I can't believe you are bringing a black baby into our family" and "why don't you just have make such cute kids" and then there was "why does it have to be Africa, white babies here need homes too."

My heart sank. It was the first time (and I know its far from the last) that racism took a bite at me. That sounds like I am on a high horse and have been naive to it, but thats just not true. My heart has been pained since I could understand the difference but I didn't know my roll in this social tug-o-war.

So I count it all up to being naive. People are so plagued with generational opinions on race and who is superior that they won't let their view point go long enough to see that thats just not the way it is anymore. People would rather chose to believe that races are meant to stay separate. They truly think that my two biological children will be damaged by having a bother or sister with a different skin color. Its just plain naive. And maybe even ignorant.

So no, we aren't adopting a black child.

We are adopting a child. End of story. Their skin happens to be brown (thats what we refer to it in this house) but thats just their color of their nationality.

We are adopting a child. A child who lives in an orphanage because their birth mother or father couldn't or wouldn't care for them. A child who has nothing to their name except their name. A child who has experienced more loss and reject than most of us in America ever will.

We are adopting a child. Because thats what Jesus told us to do. When we experienced Lesotho and we held beautiful brown children in our hands, when we saw the pain in their eyes, the longing in their bodies to be held...thats when we knew we were going to adopt from Africa. When Jesus spoke it to our heart.

I have heard so many times in this adoption that "love is color blind". I can't get over that statement. Some days I want to agree and some days I want to hit who ever coined it. No one is color blind. Not in this sense of the term. I know full well my child will have dark skin and I have light skin. I know that this will bring its own challenges especially as they get older. But I choose to love them. Not in spite of their skin color. Not look past their skin color. But them. I choose to love them. All of them. Their different color, their different hair, and the scars that they bring. I choose to love them.

So no. We aren't adopting a black child. Or a brown child. Or how ever else you want to define my child. But if you do chose to define them, please refer to them as a Russell child.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Adoption News

Sometimes the Lord does things that we aren't expecting or prepared for. Sometimes He is silent for a while and then speaks ever so softly to your heart. Many times I need a flashing sign to drop from heaven to get the message. Most often, I miss His voice. But always, always he knows me. He knows what I need. What I can handle. How long to be quiet before he really has my attention. That happened recently.

I fell in love with a five year old boy in Lesotho. His brown eyes and big smile got me. The way he said aussi whitney just made me love him more. He followed me wherever I went and he was sad when I left at the end of the day. I yearned for him to be my son. But I knew he couldn't be because he was 5 and Camden was only 2 at the time. But that didn't break my hope.

About a month ago I found out that that precious boy was matched to a family in Sweden. I was so happy for him but I found myself in a pit. I was sad because he wasn't my son. He belonged to someone else. And the Lord was very quiet.

And then one day He spoke.


"But God," I said, "Lesotho is where we are adopting from. We have touched the children in Lesotho. We have friendships in Lesotho. We know Lesotho." 

But again I heard Uganda. 

And then I saw someone post something about Uganda. And then someone at church wanted to tell me something about Uganda. And then Uganda was in a book that I was reading. 

Uganda. It was all around me. So I prayed for clarity. And I finally told Nathan what was going on in my heart. 

So we prayed. We prayed together and we prayed apart. We talked to our supporters. We talked to Jesus. We made a call to our agency and got some confirming answers about the Lesotho program. It was going to be a very long wait. 

But how could we switch? I thought. Lesotho started this all. If we switched we would be letting Lesotho down. And then I remembered- this is not about a country. It is about children. 

Our child. 

So friends, we are officially in the Uganda program for adoption. We truly believe our child is in Uganda. And we are praying that within 12-16 months they will be home with us. 

Lesotho still holds a huge part of our hearts. In Lesotho we learned that we love adoption. I learned that it is possible for me to love a child that isn't biologically mine. My parents learned that orphans have a place in this family. We love Lesotho. 

But our next child will come from Uganda. And because of that, we love Uganda too. 

Pray for us as we start out dossier. This is the last step before we can be matched with a child. Our child. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014


Have I mentioned we are adopting? Because we are! We are only a tiny way into the process and already this could be one of the hardest things I have ever done. There are so many emotions involved.

I'm happy over the thought of a new member of our family and all the joy they will bring. I am worried that this just doesn't work out, maybe they don't like us or we don't mesh. I am anxious over what my baby is experiencing right now. Are they here on this earth living in an orphanage. Is their orphanage like the one we went to in Lesotho where the children are treated well. Or are they in one of the orphanages we heard horror stories about? Did they get to eat tonight or did a bigger, older kid take their food? Are they wondering if someone is coming for them? Or are they even born? Is their birth mother pregnant right now and wondering how she will ever provide for the little one growing in her belly? Is she praying over what to do or is she turing to alcohol to make the confusion a little less troubling?

And that is just some of what I think daily.

We started this process knowing that it is something we knew we wanted, no needed to do. I don't want to just take care of orphans, I want to make them orphans no more. There are so many children in this world who are just viewed as a inconvenience. When they are the opposite. Children are a blessing from the Lord. We knew we had to do this.

So we contacted the only agency in the US that adopts to Lesotho. The told us their program was fairly new and had a lengthy waiting list. We didn't, and still don't care. We will wait as long as it takes. Because our agency is in Tennessee, we had to find a Mississippi agency to do our home study and post-adoption visits. We selected one out of Tupelo and they have been amazing to work with.

We finished our last home study visits a week ago. We are finishing up paperwork (no one prepared me for the paperwork involved) and are chipping away at the 10 hours of training that we have to do.

We did a t-shirt fundraiser which brought in around $700 and are close to ordering another order of shirts! I have been in utter shock at how people have supported us this far. We have never been a part of a church family that truly bears your burdens, celebrates the highs, and asks you "how's it going" and truly cares about the answer- that is until now. Our faith family has blown us away with the support they have offered us.

We also did a garage sale. We bared the coldest, wettest day in May and sold as much as we could. We were also reminded how much people love us and this baby because friends and family came out just to help out. The night before we were loved on by friends as we were setting up and the day of they put on their rain gear and stood by us!

So whats next? Well we have to finish up all of the paperwork for our home study and submit that to our agency for final review. Then we will begin our dossier (doss-e-ay). This is a collection of more paperwork and legal documents that will go directly to Lesotho for our matching.

Please join with us in prayer that this process would go as quickly as possible. There is a child in an orphanage who has been told they aren't worth a family. We are setting out to tell them they are so, so loved.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


Le- soo- two. We will just start with that.

In March, Nathan and I took a trip to Lesotho, South Africa. It changed our lives. For the better, but I can truly say that we were shaken in every way possible.

You, of course, know that it led us to make the decision that we want to adopt but before I get into all that that is, I wanted to just share about our trip.

Our team met at the church early the morning of our departure for prayer and communion. I loved this time. We were surrounded by our team mates, our families, and just praying members of our church body. They truly cared about what we were doing. And I loved communion. Camden's school didn't start until 9:00 that day so I got to hold onto him for a little extra time. He got to take communion with us. While he didn't understand anything that was going on, I lingered in the fact that I was holding my baby, cherishing the blood and body of Christ, while I was preparing to let him go and go love on other babies. It was bitter sweet.

Our team was made up of so many different talents! We had a dentist, teachers, and pediatric PT, construction workers, nurses, a minister (thats my boo y'all!) and others careers that the Lord put on this team to help us accomplish the things He had set out for us.

Our flight was 17 hours. We were haggard and tired of sitting. But we were in AFRICA! 

This shows just some of the luggage we brought. We were all allowed two checked bags. But personally, we only each used one. All the others were used for carrying supplies. We brought over 100 children's books and 100 pairs of shoes. We also carried tooth brushes, soap, tooth paste, and towels to hand out to the people the medical team encountered. 

The main crop in Lesotho is sunflowers. They were everywhere. It was so beautiful to see rolling hills of the most gorgeous sunflowers.

This is a sweat shop that Old Navy and Banana Republic use. The people who work here work under horrible conditions but cannot get out of the endless cycle that it begins. 

We finally arrived at Beautiful Gate after 5 more hours of driving from Johannesburg. We were so glad to be out of the car and settling into our lives for the next week.

We stayed in this guest house as a team. It was seriously so nice. We had bunks, a kitchen and a living area.

This orphanage is amazing. The campus is bright and well kept. There are toys all on the lawn and lots of room for the kids to run and grow. There are five houses that they children are split up in. Each house has a full time house mother (Mme- said May). Then there are volunteers who come and help with the daily events and routines. These women are amazing. I pray I can have half the patience they have.

While we were there we got to go out and see some of South Africa. We went to a place called the Green Goose. This amazing woman has tons of land and runs her own farm. She then makes her own cheese from her animals milk, feather pillows from the geese's down, and dinner from her garden. It is open by appointment only and we got the royal treatment. It was seriously some of the best food I have ever eaten.

After that, we went to a place called Temple Hoff. The man who own this place raises lions. Thats right people, lions. Like with real teeth! He showed us around his property and then let us love on his lion cubs! A true African experience.

This is my dad y'all. A true man! 

South Africa is gorgeous. And I was so blessed to be able to take this trip with my parents. It was the first time we had been on a mission trip like this and I am glad we got to do it together. It was also so special that they got to watch our adoption journey unfold in our hearts as we experienced each day together.

I took so many pictures at the orphanage. I wish I could share them all but for confidentiality purposes, I can't. So I will leave you with this precious one. This totally captures our time. We were all over those babies and they were all over us.

Here the Mmes and performing a traditional Basotho dance! So much fun being with these women. 

At the very end of the week, we were given the honor to be a part of an adoption ceremony. A mom had come from Sweden and was taking home her son. They do this amazing ceremony in which the Mme hands over the child that she has raised to their new forever family. I was a sobbing mess at this point. I had just said goodbye to a child I would love to call my son. And I was overwhelmed with the fact that this could be us one day. I think my favorite part of this trip was this time. The whole ceremony was performed in both Sesotho (the language spoken there) and English. I was reminded that heaven is not just for America. And love is not just for biological families. God is weaving us all together for his purposes.
Every tribe. Every nation. Every tongue. 

So blessed to have had this experience. I can not wait to return to the place that hold my heart. And I can't help but wonder if my child is there now. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Breaking the Blogging Silence

I feel like that needs to be one of those "Where Are They Now" episodes. So thats just what we will do. Life has been all kinds of crazy-but the best kinds of crazy. I seriously thought motherhood would be so easy (quit laughing...I'm serious, I can hear you!) and of course its not. Something had to take the back burner and blogging was it. I was so sad to let it go for a season because I probably won't remember some specifics but I will take the loss and revel in the fact that I spent a whole lot of time loving on my babies.

So without further ado...the catch up.

Camden started and finished his first year of "day school" this year.

...Annie got bigger and bigger.

     ...and bigger.

... Madelyn Celebrated her first birthday. She is now 16 months old. Yeow. In 2 months she will be one and a half people. Lets all take a minute to catch our breath.

           ... ok. Moving on.

... We traveled to Lesotho (Le-soo-two), Africa. Not much happened there. We only decided to ADOPT  A BABY!

Yep! We arrived on the campus with a heart to serve the orphans and we left with a desire to make them orphans no more. I am going to do a whole adoption update on another post because while we aren't too far into the process, the process (and our future child) deserves more than a few sentences.

So its official. I am back and better than ever. I can't wait to show you what we have been up to!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Madelyn: 1 year old

This post is picture less but please, reminisce with me.