Nov 7, 2010

Those who come along side us..

It wouldn’t be fitting to continue Hope’s story without introducing the Dollyhigh family. They’ve played a big role in her adoption story, and yet, we’ve never met them. When we were moving into our log home back in September of 2009, we decided that our white wicker furniture just wasn’t going to work in our new master bedroom. In the house on Baskins Circle, we had a beach themed master bedroom with large paintings of the beach, and white wicker furniture. Not exactly the rugged lodge look that a log home requires. I found all of our wicker furniture in second hand stores, and on craigslist. We found a “new to us” king size log furniture set that was perfect for our new mater bedroom at our new house. So, I listed our wicker furniture on craigslist.
I received a few calls on it, but one call in particular was a divine appointment. A lady called me asking if I’d be willing to split up the dressers as they couldn’t afford to purchase all of them. We began to talk and one thing led to another. We found that we both homeschooled our children, and I learned that her husband was a pastor of a small church about an hour away from where we lived. I happened to mention that we were in the process of adopting a little girl from Thailand, and that really was interesting to her. She confessed that she had been really praying about adoption, but had no idea where the money would come from to complete the adoption.
At that point, we believed we were close to travel. Of course, I had no idea we were still over a year away from actually bringing Hope home. However, I was able to share with Marianna how God had met our every need up until that point, and how I had every confidence that He was going to continue to do so.
Chris and I prayed about it, and decided that the wicker furniture needed to be given to this family as a blessing from the Lord. We were not at our old house the day they came to pick up the wicker furniture, so our neighbor had to show them the rurniture, and so we actually never met them.
Today, Trent Dollyhigh is landing in Atlanta with their son from Africa! They are bringing their daughter home shortly. Marianna will make the trip to bring their daughter home. They both went to appear in court and meet their children. They had to leave them in Africa while their paperwork was being processed. These children are not biological siblings, but God is much bigger than biology. We have been so blessed to be a part of their story, as they have been a part of ours!
We do plan to meet sometime soon. After the holidays and all the kiddos are home, and settled. God is so AMAZING!!

Oct 25, 2010

Our Journey to Hope!

Eph. 3:20 Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us,
We are traveling to Bangkok from Nov. 21-Dec. 03!
As many of you know, we have been on a journey to adopt a little girl from Thailand. She was left at the hospital when she was born by a young mother who said she couldn’t care for her. She has spent her entire life in an orphanage for children with disabilities, but attends a special school for children who are blind. God placed the call on our hearts to adopt her after we received an email about her a few years ago.
We praise God that we have reached the end of one part of our journey, and are preparing to make the trip to Bangkok, to bring our daughter home! Though we thought this time would come much sooner, we are thankful that God has been with us throughout the long months of waiting. Thailand is notorious for unexplained delays in the adoption process, and we are not the only family that has experienced such a long wait. In fact, there are 3 other families who have been waiting longer than we have, and they are not ready to travel yet. We continue to pray for them to stay strong as they wait. So, we are so thankful to have Hope home by Christmas!! What a wonderful Christmas present! God is so good!
We chose the name her “Hope” because it means “confident expectation”, and that sums up our prayer for this little girl as she joins our family. We continue to pray that she will have the peace of God as she makes this transition, and that it will be better than we can think or imagine. We pray that God has prepared her heart to know us as her parents just as an infant knows the sounds, smells, and comfort of its parents. We pray for total peace for her, for the boys, and for us as her parents. Most of all we pray for her salvation. We know that God is holding her heart in His hands. We pray that He will draw her to Himself and show her how much He loves her. We pray that you will join us in praying for her and for us as we bring her home.
Throughout this process, God has done wonders for us financially! There has never been a time that we have not had the money to pay a fee when it came due. As we prepare for this trip, it is the most costly part of the process. Airfare is running around $1,600 per ticket, and that is the bulk of the expense we are still trying to cover. We are planning to take Nick with us because we will need his help, and he wants to go. JC doesn’t want to go, and this works out well because we would have concerns about his health due to the smog, and danger of picking up another illness that could complicate his CF.
We have been blessed with the opportunity to raise funds through a matching grant program through a wonderful ministry called Lifesong for Orphans. We have a grant amount of $3,000, which means that every dollar we raise up to $3,000 is matched dollar for dollar. This gives us the opportunity to raise $6,000 for our adoption! All gifts are tax deductable, and every dollar counts! So, please prayerfully consider supporting us and helping us meet our goal!
Below are the details for how to contribute in a tax deductible way.

Lifesong for Orphans ( is a non-profit Christian ministry dedicated to help meet the needs of orphan children around the world, and obey God’s call to “visit the fatherless…in their affliction” (James 1:27).
The number of children worldwide without families to love and care for them is astounding… there are over 1.5 million orphans in Eastern Europe alone!
God tells us in His word He has heard the cry of the orphaned and abandoned children (Psalm 10:17, 18) and He has made a way for them to be cared for – through adoption. As believers, He adopted us into His family through Jesus Christ, and did not leave us as spiritual orphans!
We believe adoption at its core is evangelism--a vital part of the Great Commission is bringing the mission field home. God desires orphans from all nations to be adopted into Christ-honoring families so they may ultimately be adopted into His eternal family through Jesus Christ. God calls us to fulfill James 1:27, “visit the fatherless…” but not all are called to adopt. Some are called to pray, some to give financially, some to go on mission trips, and some to adopt.
Chris and Melissa have sensed God’s call . . . and have joyfully stepped out in faith and obedience to adopt Wanida from Thailand. As you may already know, international adoption can cost around $25,000 and prevents many godly families from adopting. We believe God has raised up the McMann family “for such a time as this…”. Lifesong has partnered with a local adoption ministry close to the McMann’s home called Promise686 ( to extend an Adoption Matching Grant of $3000. This grant will help raise the funds necessary to complete the adoption of this young girl. This means Promise686 partnered with Lifesong for Orphans will match “dollar-for-dollar” everything the McMann’s raise from their church, family, and friends between now and December 1, 2010, up to $3000. We invite you to support them financially to make this adoption possible. Your gift is tax deductible and you will receive a tax-deductible receipt. *100% of all funds raised will go directly to cover adoption costs--nothing will be taken out for administrative costs.Will you invest financially in the life of this little girl? . . . It will be an investment with eternal return.Questions?: contact Leah at 309-747-4517 or email her at
Online donations may be accepted through the Lifesong paypal account:
Check and Money Orders may be mailed to:
Lifesong for Orphans
PO Box 40 / 202 N. Ford St
Gridley, IL 61744
NOTE:***Please write “MCMANN 1515 ADOPTION” in the memo section of the check, so the funds will be properly credited.***

Aug 20, 2010

Play All

You might have to be visually impaired or just quirky brained like me to understand how God spoke to me today. I’ve really been struggling with fear regarding bringing *W* home. This process has been so long, and now things are moving so fast. Our agency was involved in the adoption of the Russian boy, whose adoptive “mom” put him on a plane back to Russia. She didn’t inform the agency, Russia, her local agency, or her social worker. She put this 8 year old boy on a plane, alone, with a note pinned to his jacket.

So, now parents of older children are required to watch a webinar specifically geared towards the adoption of older children. Along with that has been a thread on an email list for parents of older adopted children. The topic was discipline issues including hitting, screaming, kicking, pinching, and other issues associated with severe attachment disorders. I also spoke to a friend whose 9 year old little girl has been home for a little over a year. Her daughter has been acting out sexually, which would be indicative of some sort of abuse. All of this has added up to me thinking “WHAT HAVE WE DONE!!”

I have to confess that I have allowed this to rob me of sleep and create total panic in my heart. So, in my heart I also know that God is much greater than fear. Nor, is fear from God. He doesn’t send us fear, but power, love, and a sound mind. My mind has been far from sound these past few days. The stories and “worldly philosophies” are frightening and hopeless. I felt paralyzed and overwhelmed. I was lost in a sea of doubt: what if she acts like that?, how will it affect the boys?, how will it affect our marriage?, will I know what to do if she acts like that?, do I have the patience for that?. People already think we’re crazy.. Well, at least some people do anyway. So, is she going to come home and just confirm that? I have actually either cried, or sat frozen with fear, for the past few days.

Nothing like selling God short after all this time. I’m really good about talking my way out of how God has worked in this process and twisting the whole thing around in my head. I can convince myself that we have a pretty “dramatic” story. Mom is visually impaired, oldest kiddo has CF, adopting a blind child, it stands to reason that we would get a grant from Show Hope.. I can go on and on like this.. The point is that I can tell myself that maybe I totally missed it. That maybe God was trying to get us to go the opposite direction.

God and I have always had this “bargain”. Despite the fact that I’ve been legally blind my entire life, I still lose stuff all the time. Often, I say out loud.. “Lord, please show me where my….is.” Sure enough, whatever it is, always shows up shortly thereafter. When I get into these panicky moods, I like to watch old “happy” tv shows. Sort of lightens my mood. So, this morning I put in a disc from season 1 of The Andy Griffith Show. I can’t see the menu, so I just pushed play. Something immediately popped into my mind.. I thought that perhaps the “play all” button wasn’t first on the list. So, I figured I should put the menu back on and have Chris check. It turns out that the “play all” selection was the very last one. Now, I know this may sound very strange to some of you, but I felt God say in my heart “If I can take care of this, so you can watch this DVD without a problem, I think you can depend on Me in this adoption”. Play all.. God didn’t intend for us to get half way, or even 9/10 of the way through this adoption. He wants us to select “play all” and finish with courage and faith. We are praying and believing that God will give her peace and help her bond with us. We love her, but we know God loves her even more. The journey continues, and what a grace and mercy filled journey it has been!

Aug 8, 2010

Out of the Ashes, Beauty Will Rise!

So, it’s really happening now. Our lives are changing forever. It’s a change that will make us a family of 5, and make Chris and me the parents of 3 kids! It will forever change the life of a little girl who has grown up never knowing the love of a family, or the safety and security of parents who love her unconditionally.

We aren’t looking at this situation through rose colored glasses though. We do realize that there will be challenges ahead. God doesn’t promise us that life will be free of problems. He only promises that He will be there to walk with us through the problems. God has carried us the entire way through this process despite how difficult it has been. The waiting has been long, the paperwork has been ridiculous, and the overall stress has been crushing at times. However, God has been with us, and carried us through the process. He has made a way in the most difficult of circumstances. The money has been there whenever it has been needed, and every obligation has been met. The long months that have turned to years, have been heartbreaking, but we have always had peace that God was in control. That is something that is priceless.

As we wind down this process and prepare for our daughter’s homecoming, I’m reminded of some past emotions that I have not dealt with. I really thought I had dealt with all the anger I had towards Chris’s family, but I obviously have not.

Chris was given up for adoption by a teenage mother, and was adopted by his adoptive parents when he was 10 months old. His adoptive father divorced his adoptive mother when Chris was 18 months old, and has had very little to do with Chris ever since. Chris hasn’t seen him since he was about 15 years old. His adoptive mother was mentally and physically ill all during his childhood. They had very little money, and Chris often went without essentials like food. His mother was verbally abusive, and very controlling. She was ugly and hateful, and very self serving. She made the lives of everyone around her miserable.

To make matter worse for Chris, his mother’s sister, brother, and parents expected him to bare the brunt of the responsibility for his mother’s care. Her uncontrolled diabetes led to her having her leg amputated, and months in and out of the hospital. Chris bore the brunt of her care, both at home and in the hospital. He was responsible for going to work, school, and caring for her. She refused to follow doctor’s orders, so her health only worsened.

After Chris and I met, her control became more bizarre and excessive. She would face illness, and make ridiculous and unreasonable demands . She made every attempt to break us up by calling me every name in the book. She told our entire church that I was trying to get Chris to sleep with me before we were married. She told me that if Chris and I ever did marry, we would surely end up divorcing. I still carry the pain of some of those professions to this day. What was supposed to be a very joyful time for us, was, in reality, a nightmare.

As we prepared for our wedding, Chris’s aunt joined in the cause of the nightmare. She felt that, if we married, the responsibility for Chris’s mother (her sister) would fall on her and her husband. This was something she definitely didn’t want. She would have rather seen Chris sacrifice his life and future to ensure that she was not stuck with any responsibilities that she didn’t want. She made her feeling about our marriage quite clear. She was the most miserable person you would have ever wanted to meet on our wedding day. So much so, that her husband actually apologized to me, saying she is just worried about who was going to care for Chris’s mom now. They are all fortunate we didn’t just tell them where they could shove it, and disappear off the face of the earth, after the wedding.
Chris’s mother’s health deteriorated to the point that she ended up in a nursing home shortly after we were married. She died within about 5 years of our wedding. By that time, both the boys had been born, and we had been transferred to Georgia. When she became very ill, Chris was left to make all the decisions, and the family stepped back. We also were responsible for the funeral arrangements and costs. Once all the arrangements were made, then the family chipped in some money towards the costs. She had no life insurance, and no money whatsoever. We had to borrow money from my parents to pay for her funeral.
Since her death, Chris’s “family” has made no effort to keep in contact with him. They don’t even send him a card on his birthday. When we travel to Ohio, we call his aunt and uncle, and we usually meet them for dinner somewhere. They tell him he’s just like a son to them, but they don’t even send him a birthday card. We only see them because we initiate the visit. Now that my parents are selling their house in Ohio, we won’t be traveling back there anymore. So, I’m sure we will lose contact with them altogether.
Chris is fairly indifferent about the whole thing because he said he has always been treated different by the “family”. So, now that his mom is gone, their true feelings are just showing through. It makes me angry though. I just can’t imagine that anyone could treat my husband that way. They’ve missed the opportunity to get to know a wonderful man. His life wasn’t a mistake, and it wasn’t disposable. He wasn’t around just for the convenience of others. He did have a right to a life and a future. He should have been treated as if he were born into the family.
As parents, it is very important to both of us that our daughter be treated as just exactly that.. our daughter. We have already stressed that to everyone in the family. It is critical that she be treated no differently than the boys regarding gifts, and family privileges. Chris is the first one to say that she isn’t going to feel like the odd “man” out.

Part of what God is showing me right now, is that I have to forgive Chris’s family for the hurt that they caused us both all those years ago, and thank God for what it has taught me. We have learned so much of what not to do to an adopted child through the experiences that Chris went through growing up. God has used those painful experiences to mold us into the perfect parents for this sweet little girl that God has always planned to be our daughter. I pray that God will help me to forgive the hurt, and turn it into strength.

God has a marvelous way of turning the ashes of our lives into something beautiful!

Jul 19, 2010

Oh me of little faith!

There are times in our lives when we are given a glimpse of the reasons why we have to travel the rough roads, to get to where God wants us to go. This adoption has been. For us, a very rough road. It has been filled with frustration, doubt, and hardest of all, waiting. When God gives us a directive, and we proceed forward, despite what others may say, somehow we feel as though we are standing alone when God doesn’t seem to back us up as quickly as we, or our critics think He should. We begin to question whether we really did hear from the Lord, or if we somehow dreamed the entire thing up for selfish gain and impure motives.

That is where I was last week at this time. So unsure about what God was trying to tell me to do regarding the adoption. I felt very strongly, and Chris agreed, that we were not to update our home study, but why? It didn’t really make sense if I really thought about it. Was it worth the risk of losing her after all these months of waiting? What about those who had donated financially to help us bring her home? Didn’t we owe it to them to continue? Do whatever it takes to get her home? Lord, what are you trying to say here? I knew though, that He was speaking very clearly about this, and from past experience, I knew better than to be disobedient.

To make a long and extremely complicated situation very short, there was a critical error in our United States Immigration Adoption paperwork that no one had discovered. It enabled us to adopt a child, but not a child with special needs. *W* is blind, and has always been blind. When we went to file for permission to adopt her specifically, it would have been denied. This denial would have been catastrophic for our adoption process. It would have literally sent us back to square one. If I had not refused to update our home study, our adoption agency social worker wouldn’t have found the error. She discovered it when she was looking through our file and researching whether we needed to update or not.

Now, there is no question. We most certainly do have to update the homestudy to correct the error and add the special needs provision. Of course, we now know that God was prompting this so the error would be found, and the adoption could proceed without any delay. If we had just gone ahead and updated, the error would have not been discovered, our application would have been denied, and we would have been forced to start again.

The Lord knew that we would take that denial, if it had happened, as a closed door, and would not pursue the adoption any further. We would have taken it as a sign that God was closing the door. A perfect example of God not testing us beyond what we can stand. The other thing to consider here is, if her paperwork would have come any sooner, the application would have been denied because the initial immigration paperwork, with the error, was not ready to expire. So, no one would have even looked at it before it was sent in. Again, it would have been rejected and we would have been back to square one.

Aside from no error whatsoever, this is the best possible scenario. It involves the least amount of money for us, and will take very little time to correct. Thankfully, we have a new social worker at our agency who is very on top of things. She makes sure things get done right. She is very careful, and exact. She is wonderful!!

I can only say that God has His hands all over this process, and I am amazed and humbled at His grace and love for us and our daughter! May we never forget how God has been faithful through this entire process, and may it be a precious treasure to *W*. That she may know always that she was chosen, not just by us, but by God.

Jul 14, 2010

Fish or cut bait

After much prayer and struggle, we have made a difficult decision. We have decided not to renew our homstudy, which probably doesn’t mean much to some of you. We’ve already renewed our homestudy once, and we really don’t want to go through it again. The homestudy is a collection of documents including criminal background checks, medical history, drug tests, police clearances, 911 records, and home visits from a social worker. Most of the process is just paperwork and time consuming. The biggest issue we have with renewing it again is the cost. It runs about $1,300 for each renewal plus the processing of the background checks, etc. This is money we really need to pay for the trip to Thailand.
The part that is most frustrating for us, is that the paperwork we need from Thailand is probably sitting on someone’s desk, just being ignored. We feel that, as adoptive parents, we get no respect whatsoever, from Thailand. Who cares if the family has to spent thousands of extra dollars… Who cares if it takes years until we get the paperwork together fo the family to travel. After all, we’re giving them a child, right? Well, I’m fed up with the total disregard that the DSDW has for us and our feelings.
The bottom line is this.. Our USCIS I-800A approval expires in November. In order to renew it, we would need an updated homestudy. If we receive our “To Whom It May Concern Letter” and updated background, we can apply for our I-800 and we won’t need to update our homestudy. If we don’t receive those documents, and we don’t update our homestudy, our I-800A will expire. The bottom line is that we have waited 14 months for this paperwork, and if it doesn’t show up by the time our I-800A is due to expire, we are going to let it expire.
We have invested so much time, money, and emotional energy into this adoption, and it breaks my heart to think that it might end this way. However, we can’t and won’t keep going indefinitely. What was supposed to be a short process has turned into a nightmare. If God is in this, and if it is His will, then He will make it happen before the paperwork expires.
We are praying that God will open doors that no man can close, and close doors no man can open. It’s in God’s hands now. What a nightmare this process has been!! If I could say one thing to couples thinking of entering the Thai program, I would say…RUN!! Don’t do it!! Adopt from a country that actually wants to see the kids get into their adoptive homes. Either way, the journey will come to an end by the end of the year.

Jun 6, 2010

Trial by Fire.

JOB 23:10
But he knows where I am going. And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold.

The Lord brought this verse to my mind this week as I was reflecting on the long wait we’ve endured, and how I felt about it. I belong to an email support group for parents who are adopting from Thailand, so emails come in my inbox from people who are in all different phases of the adoption process. Honestly, when people join the group and introduce themselves, part of me wants to scream “Stop! Turn back! Don’t do it!” I want to tell them that the wait will be longer than they ever expected. That once you get attached to a child, there’s no turning back. I want to say that it may seem easy at the beginning, when you are busy with paperwork, but it becomes so much harder than you can imagine when the real waiting starts. Then I’m reminded of why we started this process in the first place…

The reality is, that God has called us to this adoption. God’s callings are not always easy, in fact, most often far from it. In the midst of this process, God is trying to teach me several things. First, it’s not all about me. The waiting has been hard…for me. I spent too much time focusing on how hard it was on me, and not enough time trusting God. The waiting is a time of testing, and I want to come out as pure as gold! I want to learn what God wants me to learn. I know I’ve fallen short so many times. Every time things looked grim, I fell apart just like an Israelite. Thankfully, God is forgiving and patient!

People ask us all the time if we will adopt from Thailand again (which is odd because we haven’t even retrieved #1 yet!). My first reaction to that question was…NO WAY!!.. God has really convicted me about that. All my reasons for saying “NEVER AGAIN” are totally selfish. They have to do with me not wanting to go through the wait and uncertainty again. Again, this brings me back to being willing to do whatever God asks me to do, no matter what. I’m not saying God is asking us to adopt again. I’m just saying that God is telling me not to rule anything out. Allow Him to be in charge, and all will work together for good.

In the mean time, I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the realness of our daughter. I know it must sound so weird to those of you who have not adopted before, but there is this disconnect of sorts from the fact that we are dealing with a real child. So, I’m starting to buy clothes and toys, and things that make this feel more real to me. Even if it’s just garage Sale items that are inexpensive, that helps me feel more connected to her. We’re collecting books that make noise, and books that have textured pictures. I’m also collecting children’s read along books on tape and CD. All of these little projects help me stay focused, and give me something to do during this final stretch. Getting ready for her to come home sure helps make things feel a lot less like playing house!