Saturday, February 27, 2010

Home Study

So, we had our Home Study yesterday!  It was really exciting getting to this point.  I wasn't really nervous - even though I think I kept trying to talk myself into being nervous!  We knew from a couple of different Agency orientation meetings that the Home Study was NOT a white-glove test, just a time for the social worker to get to know us and check out the safety of our home.  EVEN THOUGH I knew this, I still spent a couple of hours cleaning the night before.  Nothing major, but it had been a while since I'd spent any significant amount of time cleaning the house, so there were some areas that NEEDED attention.  And, let's be honest, nobody wants to show off a DIRTY house! 

The actual home study was COMPLETELY painless.  Bethany was AWESOME and was VERY easy to talk to.  We talked mostly about our families, our marriage, why we decided to adopt, and some potential challenges of raising an adopted, African kid.  Not really a big deal.  Most everything we talked about was the type of thing we talk about with our friends.  But we did talk A LOT.  Bethany was here for about 4 and a half hours, and we talked for about 4 hours and 15 minutes of that time!  In retrospect, it was a LONG time, but it really didn't feel that long while it was happening - I guess it's easy to talk about yourself :)

The other really cool thing is that Bethany was able to connect us with another couple in the area who is a couple of months ahead of us in the process.  They also don't have any biological kids and are adopting from Ethiopia.  I talked to her on the phone today and LOVED her.  We're meeting them AND another family for dinner tonight.  The other family has a 3-year-old boy who they adopted from Ethiopia, and are in the process of adopting their second child (also from Ethiopia)!  I'm REALLY glad to meet other adoptive families in our community.  I think it's good for us to connect with people "like us," and it will be even better for our baby to (hopefully) have some Ethiopian friends. 

So, back to the Home Study.  Bethany said it would take a couple of months to write up and finalize the Home Study, so we're just waiting for that.  Once that is finished, we'll send it to Immigration, and they'll schedule us for our fingerprints.  Once they run our fingerprints, they'll send us our approval letter.  At that point, I THINK the dossier has to go through one (or maybe 2) authentication process, and then we'll be on the waiting list!  So....  I'm HOPING that means we're on the list by the end of June, and also HOPING that's not too optimistic!

NAME Conference

Last weekend we had the great privilege to attend the North Africa Middle East ("NAME") Conference at Lake Arlington Baptist Church.  To be completely honest, I wasn't really looking forward to going, but felt like God wanted me to go out of obedience, so I was hopeful that I would learn something, but still kind of dreading spending a whole weekend at a conference.

Well, I'm here to testify to you that God blesses obedience.  Both Rob and I were so blessed and convicted by the people we met at the conference.  Most of the people we met are missionaries in the NAME region, which is really one of the most dangerous places to be a Christian.  These people are living out their faith in a way that really challenges me.  It's so safe to be a Christian here in America - we really have no idea what it's like to be persecuted - even killed - for our faith.  But in the places where Christians are being persecuted, Christianity is thriving.  Interesting, isn't it?

By the end of the first evening at the conference, I was a bit frustrated because I wanted to GO!  If God would use me, I would go into that region and share my faith with those who haven't heard.  But God said, "No."  I don't know why - I don't know what His plans are, but He has given me a peace about my purpose for now: to pray, and to give.  Up until now I've taken prayer for granted - like maybe it's not really effective.  So, commiting to pray kind of sounded like a cop-out.  But based on the stories we heard last weekend about the power of prayer in these areas, I am now fully convinced that prayer IS powerful, and if God asks me to pray for these people, then I WILL ABSOLUTELY pray.  I was also convicted that by the world's standards, we ARE rich.  Maybe not so much by America's standards, but we DO have money that we can give toward the mission work in these countries.  So, as soon as the adoption is completely funded, we will be giving more directly to the IMB.  God is CLEARLY moving in the NAME region, and I don't want to miss out on what He's doing over there - I WANT to be part of it!

While we were there we went to an advocacy meeting for the Horn of Africa, which basically turned out to be a meeting for Ethiopia.  We met some really cool people who are working over there.  Check out their blog!  I love how they describe everyday life in Ethiopia - it's so eye-opening and helps me feel a bit more connected to the country where our baby is/will be.   Also in that meeting, we found out that 2 churches in our area are partnering with missionaries in Ethiopia to reach the unreached, unengaged people there.  As God would have it, one of the churches is the church we were members of before we moved to our current church, and the other one is just a few miles away from our house.  We're not entirely sure how we'll be able to partner with them, but are very interested in being involved in what they're doing.

Overall, it was an amazing weekend.  God blessed us so much through the people we met, and we're SURE He has called us to be involved in reaching people in the NAME region, even if it's only ever through prayer and giving.  I would challenge you to consider doing the same.

147 Million Orphans

I know, I know.  Long time - no post.  What can I say?  The last couple of weeks have been super busy, but have calmed down enough that I can finally let you in on what's been going on...

First of all, I want to show and tell you about my new shirt:

I ordered it from  I think the ladies that run this organization rock.  Between them they have 13 kids - 7 of which are adopted.  Their mission is to advocate for the 147 million orphans worldwide.  Proceeds from the sale of their merchandise go to feed children in Uganda and Haiti.  Check out their site for more info and then BUY SOMETHING from them!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Ethiopia - A Love Story

Why Ethiopia? 

This is a question almost everyone asks when they find out we're adopting from Ethiopia, and almost every time I struggle with the answer.  For me at least, it's just where my heart was (and is).  But that doesn't REALLY tell you much, so here's the story...

When we first decided to adopt, we initially thought we would adopt from China.  We'd always heard there was a need, and it seemed a pretty popular place to adopt from, so we decided to find out more.  We looked around at agencies and found out that Gladney had a China program, so we signed up for an International Adoption Information Session.  The session, however, didn't cover the China program only, it covered all of their international programs.  During the session we learned that China's process had become much more difficult, and would take MUCH longer than we thought we could handle - especially for our first child.  But as we learned about the other programs, we became interested in Kazakhstan and Ethiopia.  I don't much remember the reasons we were interested in Kazakhstan, but I do remember that we were initially interested in Ethiopia because it was cheaper, quicker and you could adopt infants. 

As time went on, and we thought more about adoption, we began to lean more toward domestic adoption.  At the time, we had a lot of fears about raising a child who wasn't white.  Not at all because of any racial issues we have, but we were really afraid of others not being able to handle it, and that ultimately not being in the best interests of the child.  So, we decided to look into domestic adoption, and attended a Domestic Adoption Workshop at Buckner.  At that point, we decided to adopt domestically.  I began reading books about open adoption, and became convinced that it was by far the healthiest option for all parties.  So, for about a year we were set on domestic adoption.  We wanted to pay off all our debt (except the house), save some money, and then adopt domestically through Buckner.  That was the plan.

Then one day, I got an email.  It was just Buckner's newsletter, no big deal.  There were lots of interesting stories, but one story in particular caught my eye.  There was a couple in Ethiopia meeting their adopted daughter for the first time, and they were blogging about it.  I thought to myself, "At one point we talked about Ethiopia, this could be interesting."  So I clicked the link to go to the blog.  And that was it.  I was captivated, in love, and just sat there and wept as I read through the blog entries.  That night I told Rob about it, and told him I hadn't changed my mind about adopting domestically, but I was absolutely going to pray about the possibility of us adopting from Ethiopia.

I realize in retrospect that everything was different after that.  I began to find all kinds of blogs of people who were in the process, or had already adopted from Ethiopia, and continued to fall harder and more in love each day.  I think it really only took us a few months to decide that Ethiopia was it for us. 

But it was really only after I fell so madly in love that I began to understand the tremedous NEED to adopt from Ethiopia.  I kept seeing these statistics on blogs, and learning more about the HIV epidemic.  One day we watched A Walk to Beautiful...

And, to be honest, I don't fully know how adopting from Ethiopia much changes the statistics or the HIV and fistula epidemics, but it DOES change the life of one child.  It gives one child a chance that might otherwise not have had one.  And it changes me.  It has already changed me.  It has opened my eyes and helped me to see that the world is so much bigger than the little bubble I live in.  It's changed my view of missions, and my desire to feed the hungry, and clothe the naked, and care for the widows and orphans.  It's changed ME.  Falling in love with beautiful brown babies has changed ME. Who would have thought one little link to a blog in a newsletter would have so much of an impact?

When I started writing this post, I thought this was going to be a story about faith.  I thought it was going to be about how what God calls you to do may not always be the most thought-through, rational choice, but something that requires you to step out in faith, not knowing where the road will lead.  I still think that's true, and it does still apply to our situation, but I realize now that this really is a love story.  And, I think, only the beginning of our love story with Ethiopia, and our future child or children. 

Monday, February 8, 2010

Thankful and Blessed

When we decided to adopt - and then later began the process - we didn't really think many people outside of our family and close friends would much care that we were doing this, much less be excited about it.  But the amount of love, support, encouragement and excitement we've received has truly been overwhelming.  Thank you all for your sweet comments on the blog, Facebook and in person - I've learned so much over the past few weeks about how important (and meaningful) encouragement really is. 

For those of you who are curious about where we are right now in the process....

The big thing is that we're waiting for our Home Study to be scheduled.  They told us at the end of January that if our social worker hadn't contacted us by the end of February, we needed to check back with them, so we're WAITING... 

However, we're not just sitting around, we're actually working on our dossier.  (That's the big packet of information that contains anything anyone would ever want to know about us that goes to Ethiopia to tell them about us.)  Friday we went and had our fingerprints done for our FBI clearance; we've had to get more reference letters; and also letters from our banks. 

With that said, I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank Corey at Wells Fargo (Alliance Town Center branch) for helping us with our letter.  We KNOW the documents we need for our dossier are non-standard and not what most poeple need when they come see you, but THANK YOU for taking the time to understand what we needed and putting forth the effort to get it for us.  Our other bank (which will not be named publicly) was not nearly so helpful and, although Rob also visited them on Friday, has still not been able to produce a letter for us.  I don't really want to bash the other bank, but we are SO THANKFUL for the EXCELLENT service we received from Wells Fargo overall, and Corey specifically.  (Corey, you have my full permission to print this out and give it to your boss!)  Oh, and we're seriously considering moving all of our accounts to Wells Fargo after this.

Anyway, I could go on and on about how thankful and blessed we are by so many who have already supported us in this process that we're only a month into, but I'll save it for another time.  For now, if you're reading this and have helped or encouraged us in ANY WAY, we just want to say THANK YOU and how EXCITING is it going to be when we all FINALLY get to meet our baby??!!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

My Boys

Gosh, I love them.  The boys came over Saturday, and we had a great time playing Wii, baking their dad a birthday cake, playing dominoes and cards, and ending up with a movie.   I just couldn't resist taking this picture with them all snuggled up together with "Uncle" in his chair.  The little one had gotten pretty cranky, and Rob finally convinced him to cuddle with him in the chair.  He was out in about 2 minutes.  The big one decided he wanted in on the action too, so they all had some quality movie watching time.  I can't even tell you how much I love all three of these boys, and LOVE how much they love each other.

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, February 1, 2010

S.B.T. - More Natural?

NOTE: Spousal Blog Takeover (S.B.T) is the “very” occasional contribution from Robert to this blog.

Rebecca mentioned that after we made our decision to adopt that I said adoption seemed “more natural” to me, so I thought that I would attempt to explain why I believe it...the key words being “attempt to explain.”

Before I get too far into my explanation, I'd like to satisfy the part of me that finds pleasure and enjoyment out of facts, statistics and other potentially useless bits of knowledge, though I don't believe this will fall into the latter of those three categories. I find the definition of adoption particularly meaningful and beautiful: “the giving to any one the name and place and privileges of a son who is not a son by birth” (Easton's Bible Dictionary). The part of this definition that I find particularly beautiful is how it relates to me and my own adoption. Yes...I was adopted...and as much as I'd really like to string you along and make up sad stories about the events leading to the adoption that may be confusing a lot of my close friends and family right about now, I have to come clean and admit that I am talking about my adoption by my Heavenly Father. You see, I find the definition of adoption meaningful and beautiful because it's personal to me...God adopted me. To explain more concisely what I mean, EBD defines spiritual adoption as “an act of God's grace by which he brings men into the number of his redeemed family and makes them partakers of all the blessings He has provided for them.” The relationship that I entered into with God after accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is that of an adopted son with his adoptive dad.

Okay, so if you were me reading this, you'd be thinking right now, “Hmmm...but you still haven't said why you think adoption is've just said that you think that it's beautiful and meaningful.” And I would say to myself, “You're patient...and you're speaking in sentence fragments.” In all seriousness, I do believe that adoption seems more natural for us, but not natural as it would pertain to rose bushes bringing forth roses or storm clouds bringing rain. I think it is “more natural” like a baby who picks up and imitates the mannerisms of a mom or dad that they may not have realized. For example, Rebecca and I have been friends with Trevor and Jessica for a few years now, and we've had our share of dinners after church and game nights on the weekends through the years. Well, I love to interact with kids (the way their minds work interests me), and one time when their oldest daughter, Kate, was around one, she and I would just stare and make faces across the table. I'd make a face and she'd laugh; she'd make a face that partially imitated mine and I would laugh. There came a point where she started squinting, and I didn't really get what she was doing until someone else chimed in and said she's copying you. Confused for a second, I realized she wasn't imitating the silly faces that I was making, you see, when I laugh or smile, my eyes squint. Kate had picked up one of my natural tendencies. That's how I think that adoption seems natural for Rebecca and I, we picked up on that aspect of God, the same aspect that I find particularly meaningful and beautiful. I'm not sure He intends everyone to pick up on that aspect of Him, but I know that He intended it for us...much as Rebecca has already stated.

So there you have it! That's why I think adoption is “more natural” for us and it's a truly humbling, awesome revelation when you realize that you've begun to imitate God when you weren't even trying, because so often I fail to imitate Him when I try.

"Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." (Ephesians 5:1-2)