The Chicken Broccoli Casserole Incident

We call it the chicken broccoli casserole (henceforth known as cbc) incident (henceforth known as cbci).

It all started on a cloudy Bogota morning exactly 1 year ago. Isabella, Emery, and Shepherd had known us as papi and mami for 16 glorious days. Promises of going to the rooftop pool poured from our mouths. A day of wave splashing, giggles, and “papi, mami, Mírame” (translation-look at me) were in our future. It would be a great day.


We readied ourselves for the pool. Readied our human flotilla and marched to the elevator.


We had arrived…to a locked door behind which was a glassy-surfaced, closed pool. Splashing, giggles, and “papi, mami, Mírame” had turned to wailing, drooping faces, and “por qué se cierra la piscina” (why is the pool closed…and why have you forsaken us our loving parents,  you liers. Well, maybe not that last part).

Back to the elevator we went, trying to make our cortisol filled brains think quickly which is like trying to push a car with flat tires.

In a moment of brilliance, I said, (well probably Tori as she’s the brilliant one) “Let’s take them to see a movie.” Turbo it was (pronounced tour-bo in spanish).

indexBut it started in less than an hour and a half. We’d need to do dinner, clean up, and then catch a taxi to the theater in Bogota rush-hour traffic. This would be a feat.

Tori quickly began to rustle up some CBC (see above). The kids had never had it. We were sure they’d like it no less than lollipops and bubble gum.

In 40 minutes it was ready to be devoured. 55 minutes remained.

We prepared plates. Sat down at the table and what do you know. NO ONE LIKED BROCCOLI!!45 minutes to go. Plates were pushed away and arms were crossed.

We were frustrated! The kids were frustrated! Everyone was frustrated. Brains sputtered.

And then, it was said. Uttered was one of the phrases that you read in books never to say to children let alone adopted children.

“If you don’t eat this, you won’t eat anything.”

It was done. The CBCI had just taken place. Spirits were crushed. Fears were confirmed. We were awful parents.

Amidst hunger we readied ourselves for the movies. We hurried to catch an unconfirmed taxi which meant there’s always a chance, though slim, we could be kidnapped. We weren’t kidnapped probably because the driver saw the evil emanating from our family, mainly us, the parents.

We watched the movie and then at 8:30pm in the darkness of Bogota we waited for a taxi. This time we decided to get a confirmed and therefore, safe, taxi. Well, the mall was closing so the entire population of the mall decided to get a taxi as well.

Wiating for the taxi on CBCI day

Waiting for the taxi on CBCI day

We were 792nd in line and a taxi only came every 41st minute.

Actually we were like 10th in line and a taxi only came about every 20 minutes. Taxis came less often because It was rush hour and it was less difficult for them to find people to fill their taxis. They didn’t need to rely on the sure-fire paying people at the safe-taxi place at the mall.

So we waited and waited and waited. The kids had not eaten. Well they did eat some crackers but  we waited still.

Finally after a LONG TIME it was our turn for a taxi. The driver took one look at us and then refused to take us home because he saw how mean we were. Not really, but he should have. Did I mention our brains were sputtering?

We arrived at our apartment, ate some type of food, probably something delicious like spaghettios and then went to bed.

This day has become one that we look back at and laugh about. Isabella, our oldest, later told us that she was scared of us in that moment and wondered what we would really be like. I agree. I scared myself. I saw deep down into the darkness of my own heart in that moment.

I read recently that our reactions to life are more likely to be affected by the type of environment we’re in than they are by our actual character. In other words, I was the product of a safe, protected environment and when my environment wasn’t safe and predictable, the beast in me was unleashed. The stress of the situation forced out my real character.

What’s the lesson from this? I am really worse than I think I am. You are worse than you think you are.

Unless you deal with that, unless you dredge out who you really are, unless you deal with the darkness of your heart you’ll surprise yourself and blame everyone else for their faults against you (don’t have time to write about this but not dealing with who you really are will turn you into a know-it-all cynic who can’t be taught anything who won’t take responsibility for your actions).

By God’s grace, our whole family is drastically different from that infamous day our family calls the CBCI. Our kids are different. We are different. I’ve come to REALLY know that I am more despicable than I could ever imagine but more loved by Jesus than I ever dared hope. When I respond the wrong way to my kids or my wife, when I’m pressed, I try to remember that Jesus died in my place for that. Not only does that clear me, but that changes me. I’m cleared of wrongdoing and then given the real power, by his spirit, to change, for my good and for his glory.

The CBCI changed me only because I could honestly deal with the person I really am because Jesus fully loves me. If he didn’t, if I feared he really didn’t care about me or really does offer me forgiveness, change is shallow and becomes about changing other people, i.e. my kids, co-workers friends, rather than changing myself.

Our responses, the evil that we’ve set in motion, doesn’t have to own us. We just have to own IT. Only then will we REALLY change.


1 Year Ago

1 Year ago yesterday our caseworker, Beth, called us.

“Are you willing to consider adopting a sibling group of 3 in which there’s a 12 year old?” she asked.

IsaEmShep copy

We did more than consider.

Now, 1 year later our lives have forever changed. They’re home. They’re Youngs. We are thankful for them. They are instruments of God’s grace in our lives to change us for our good and God’s glory. We love them and are beginning to love them more every week. But this ain’t no fairytale.

We’re all learning and changing but change is hard.

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Tomorrow: 9 weeks and 1 day


It’s an enormous day in our minds.

Tomorrow will mark the day that Isabella, Emery, and Shepherd have lived in our house for 9 weeks and 1 day. 1 day longer than we were in Colombia.

It’s hard to explain the momentous occasion that this is in our brains. Colombia was like swimming with the sharks. It was painful survival. It was us praying everyday for God to be gracious to us. It was us begging God to help us love our kids. It was us trying to find 5 minutes to hide in our bedroom and cry while we begged Jesus to return.

Now we’re home.

It’s still survival but it’s much less painful. We still beg for God to help us love our kids. We still retreat to our bedroom for 5 minutes to cry. We still beg God to be gracious. Though I’m sure one day we’ll have appreciation for the 9 weeks spent in Colombia, tomorrow puts that painful survival in the rear-view mirror by 1 day.

We haven’t blogged too much (correction: at all) because honestly our hearts, minds, bodies are just tired and raw. I’m not sure you’d want to read what we have to say so instead we post pictures to our facebook page and I’ve included some here. You probably think by now we’re golden award parents. Ha, I guess it depends on which day you ask our kids.

In short, the kids are doing well. Everyone is learning. Everyday is a war of wills, minds, and hearts. So even in the midst of the battles we try to look back and learn and think ahead with hope.

We’re trying to put the difficulties into perspective. In reality, they are slight, momentary, and preparatory. In light of death, they’re slight. In light of eternity, they’re momentary. In light of my sinful, prideful self, they’re preparatory. I need to change and God has promised to do just that for my good and for his glory.

So for now, we’ll quietly celebrate tomorrow. We’ll continue to survive. We’ll continue to battle.





Young Party of 5

The paperwork is done. It’s settled. The gavel has fallen. They have been adopted…past tense. Nevermore will they be orphans.

They are now son and daughters.


ImagePlease note: I’m not shooting “the man” the bird. This was incidental.



Update 8/23/13

Well, we’ve been here a day over 6 weeks. We were hoping that all legal paperwork would be completed today but it didn’t happen. I can’t even begin to tell you the variety of emotions that we’re experiencing right now. Not to mention how hard this “not knowing” is for the kids.

Here is how you can help:
1. Please pray that God would continue to pour out his grace on us. Daily we need strength. One of the cool things is that we can look back over the weeks and see God giving us strength to get through each day.
2. Please continue to pray for our children and for us to be compassionate and patient with them.
3. Please pray that God would supply the funds that we need. We are now looking at being here for probably around 2 more weeks. Between food, the cost of having to cancel and reschedule our flights, as well as the $100/day for our apartment, we are looking at needing an addition $3,000-$4,000.
4. Lastly, pray for us to come home. We’re ready. The kids ask everyday when we’re going home.

The most encouraging things you can do for us is to say you are praying, actually be praying, and to send us scripture. Outside of those things, please just agree with us that this is difficult. We also love receiving random emails about how your lives are going, funny pictures of your kids/spouses/dogs/whatever. Be creative in making us laugh. Please.

Thank you for your continued support and prayers. We could not have made it this far without out you.

Swimming With the Sharks


How are you doing? What’s it like?

Those are the two most predominant questions we have been asked over the last 3 weeks. So, while giving you an update on our status (yes, we’re alive, but barely) I’m going to try answer those questions. We’ve also been keeping track of what’s happening day-to-day but those posts will come at a later date.

We’ve been here one day shy of 3 weeks. While it’s hard to believe it’s been that long, it also feels like we’ve been here a couple days shy of a decade. During this time we were required to take the kids back to the orphanage for a follow up visit (yes it was as bad as you can imagine), we have been to the hospital 3 times for sickness, we have visited the embassy doctor to get vaccinations to be cleared for our U.S. arrival (yes that was also horrible), we have gone to 2 movies (a perfectly peaceful 4 hours), we have celebrated Karen’s 13th birthday, we have walked dozens of miles to abate boredom, we have visited the McDonalds play area for 2 hours at a time. In general, we do whatever we can to survive.

That’s a short list of what we’ve been doing. I’m sure it’s tempting to think we’re on a vacation or that this is a joyful and awesome time for our family. Now hear me when I say this, UMMMMMM, NO! This is about as peaceful, exciting, and joyful as being in a submerged cage 100 ft below the surface of the ocean off the coast of South Africa amidst a gam of Great Whites.

Are we excited to add to our family? Unequivocally, yes! Have we changed our minds about adopting 3 beautiful children? Unequivocally, no!

Here’s what I’m saying…Being in a foreign country, living with 3 little humans who have no idea what it means to be a family, love one another, share, or not fight, living in an apartment about the size of Old Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard, waiting for what seems like a never-ending judicial process…ALL of this takes its toll. The word “trapped” comes to mind.


The day-to day process of doing what we’re doing is like trying to herd a hundred rabbits who have lighted fire starters attached to them across a sun scorched prairie without creating an inferno. You get the picture? We manage chaos.

Feel sorry for us? Don’t. That’s not the purpose of this blog. We just want you to know how we really feel. While we wait at least another 3 weeks, we want you to pray heartily for us. Scripture sets the pattern for us in that we can be honest in our pain. So here we are, honest as we could be. Though we can be honest, we don’t have to writhe in our pain. Though we are weak, we have hope. We have strength. When we are weak, we are our strongest. We are beginning to come to the end of our own strength and we look to something greater.

The Lord is my strength and my shield;
in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;
my heart exults,
and with my song I give thanks to him.

Psalm 28:7

Therein we find our strength. Every day we ask God to pour his grace on us, to give us strength that we don’t have, And he does. We have to remind ourselves that what we are experiencing is not God punishing us or just making life miserable for us. Jesus has already taken care of that. Jesus willingly stepped in to take our punishment. Our struggle, our suffering, points us toward and reminds us of what Jesus experienced when God the Father turned his back on Jesus. Jesus stood in the darkness of the Father’s wrath so that we could experience the light of his presence.

When the days get long, when we feel lonely, when the darkness seems to close in and we feel like we’re swimming with the sharks, we look to the cross. Because of Jesus, we can be sure that God the Father will give us strength to endure the day. He will not delay. He will not turn his back on us. He is our strength and our shield. In Him our heart trusts.

P.S. This blog in no way reflects our experience with our agency or any gov’t officials. Gladney has been great and Colombia is a beautiful place.


We are 5 days from hopping on a plane and heading to Colombia. We are 6 days from meeting our kids, face to face, for the 1st time ever. That’s right! The tickets are booked. Our apartment is reserved. There is nothing but time and a flight that separates us from our kids.

We will not be blogging while we are in country. Mainly because of that whole 3 new kids thing which means we are probably going to be exhausted and we probably won’t feel like. Additionally, we don’t want to say anything that will mess up the process. If we do blog, we’ll save them and then publish them when we return.

If you’d like to keep track with what little we do say, you can email us at YoungsInColombia@ and request to be added to an existing private Facebook group we’ve created. Please know that if we don’t know you, we may or may not add you, which I’m sure you understand. If we do know you and you haven’t been added, go ahead and email us and let us know.

Lastly, THANK YOU for “purchasing” a day to help us bring our kids home. Your generosity overwhelms us. We’ve had complete strangers give. We’ve had a recent college grad give. We’ve had people who are in the process of adopting give. When we are asked to talk about how God has used people like yourself to bring our kids home to us, we are speechless. It astounds us.

If you’d still like to sponsor a day, there are still some available. You can do that here. Then click on “How.”

Thank you so much. The next time you hear from us on here, you’ll see photos; photos of the 3 most beautiful children in the world.