Friday, August 31, 2012

Waiting wisdom

This post was written by Jenn about the purpose and lessons in waiting. Be sure to check out her blog over at Pure and Lasting. (How cute is this family?!!)
So here we are in our last stage of waiting for Maya’s adoption to be complete. It has been a long road. We applied to our agency, America World Adoption, on May 14, 2010. Our dossier was sent to Ethiopia on November 19, 2010. Our estimated wait for a referral was 7-9 months. We waited 19 months to see her beautiful face. The wait was longer than we ever expected, but worth every moment.
This week, I got the sweetest message from a blog reader. She sent in her paperwork a few months ago and was asking for advice on the waiting stage. I thought I would share our experience here on the other side. When we decided to adopt, I read lots and lots of blogs. I ran across many blogs filled with posts bemoaning the wait, desperate to be on the other side of the wait. Chris and I had several conversations about waiting, waiting longer than we expected. We made a conscious decision to settle into the wait, snuggle up and accept it. Every time it got hard, we would remind each other (ok, HE would remind ME!) that this was a choice that we made, knowing that there would be a wait, knowing that there were so many unknowns and there was nothing we could do about it. Our daughter was in Ethiopia. It sounds so simple, but the way we waited was to just accept that we would wait. Deep down acceptance. Accepting what you cannot change. It is something Chris does so well and I have learned through this process. Don’t let waiting steal your joy. It is one of the many lessons that adopting has taught me.
We also believed that God had a plan for us and for our family. A plan that we did not know. So we had to trust. Either we believe God has a plan or we believe He doesn’t. There isn’t much middle ground. For us, we got the amazing, in-the-flesh, obvious proof that God had a specific plan for us through our trip to Ethiopia/Rwanda and Alain coming to live with us. If we had filled out our paperwork any sooner or if the waiting time had been any shorter, he would not be here with us. It makes me shudder just to think about it. Why we are waiting isn’t always so obvious, but I try to remember in those moments that I cannot see everything. What I think is not always what is best. What God has planned is better.
Waiting has a purpose in the process. Adopting a child is not always easy. Attachment is not instant. Bonding takes time. As parents, we have a lot to learn, to prepare for before our child is home. Waiting is vital to the process. Use this time of waiting to prepare your home, your family, your friends and your heart. Adding a child to your family will begin a new stage in your life, an amazing one, but a new one. Let me encourage you (and me!) not to forget to celebrate the stage that you are in now. The waiting isn’t to be overlooked or fast-forwarded. It can be celebrated. Spend more time with your spouse. Do new things with your children at home now. Visit your parents. Go on a mission trip. Talk to your friends and family about adoption and sponsorship. Keep busy with other things. Read. Learn. Live the life you have now, don’t waste today waiting. Be open to God changing you. I am certainly not the same person who filled out that application two years ago. My heart is transformed. My priorities have been rearranged. My desires are new. Embrace the wait.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are quite small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see right now; rather, we look forward to what we have not yet seen. For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.
And because they are the two most beautiful children on the planet and worth EVERY MOMENT OF WAITING!! My sweet boy and his new sister. Melt my heart. This cannot truly be my life :) So blessed!! -Jenn

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Another great repost

Blogger Jen Hatmaker had another great post about "How to be a village"

... just a few days ago, I received this email: 

Our good friends just returned from Ethiopia last night with their two little boys. Ok, they've had their "airport" moment and we were right there with them. What are some things we can do now to support them in the "real life" journey without overstepping our boundaries? Thank you so much for your transparency and honesty. Everyone can benefit when you share from your heart.

I was so moved by this email. Having benefitted from a community that practically smothered us with support throughout our adoption journey, I am so grateful for all the other good friends out there, loving their people and asking how to help. Since reading this email, I’ve been marinating on her question, and I’ve decided to write this Field Guide to Supporting Adoptive Families. (And it will be brief because I will try to remember that this is a blog and not a manuscript and the rules of blogging include succinctness, so that is exactly how I’ll proceed today, except for the exact opposite of all that.) 

Let’s break this down into two categories:

Supporting Families Before the Airport

Your friends are adopting. They’re in the middle of dossiers and home studies, and most of them are somewhere in the middle of Waiting Purgatory. Please let me explain something about WP: It sucks in every way. Oh sure, we try to make it sound better than it feels by using phrases like “We’re trusting in God’s plan” and “God is refining me” and “Sovereignty trumps my feelings” and crazy bidness like that. But we are crying and aching and getting angry and going bonkers when you’re not watching. It’s hard. It hurts. It feels like an eternity even though you can see that it is not. It is harder for us to see that, because many of us have pictures on our refrigerators of these beautiful darlings stuck in an orphanage somewhere while we’re bogged down in bureaucracy and delays. 

How can you help? By not saying or doing these things:

1. “God’s timing is perfect!” (Could also insert: “This is all God’s plan!” “God is in charge!”) As exactly true as this may be, when you say it to a waiting parent, we want to scratch your eyebrows off and make you eat them with a spoon. Any trite answer that minimizes the struggle is as welcomed as a sack of dirty diapers. You are voicing something we probably already believe while not acknowledging that we are hurting and that somewhere a child is going to bed without a mother again. Please never say this again. Thank you.

2. “Are you going to have your own kids?” (Also in this category: “You’ll probably get pregnant the minute your adoption clears!” “Since this is so hard, why don’t you just try to have your own kids?” “Well, at least you have your own kids.”) The subtle message here is: You can always have legitimate biological kids if this thing tanks. It places adoption in the Back-up Plan Category, where it does not belong for us. When we flew to Ethiopia with our first travel group from our agency, out of 8 couples, we were the only parents with biological kids. The other 7 couples chose adoption first. Several of them were on birth control. Adoption counts as real parenting, and if you believe stuff Jesus said, it might even be closer to the heart of God than regular old procreation. (Not to mention the couples that grieved through infertility already. So when you say, “Are you going to have your own kids?” to a woman who tried for eight years, then don’t be surprised if she pulls your beating heart out like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.)

3. For those of you in Christian community, it is extremely frustrating to hear: “Don’t give up on God!” or “Don’t lose faith!” It implies that we are one nanosecond away from tossing our entire belief system in the compost pile because we are acting sad or discouraged. It’s condescending and misses the crux of our emotions. I can assure you, at no point in our story did we think about kicking Jesus to the curb, but we still get to cry tears and feel our feelings, folks. Jesus did. And I’m pretty sure he went to heaven when he died. 

4. We’re happy to field your questions about becoming a transracial family or adopting a child of another race, but please don’t use this moment to trot out your bigotry. (Cluelessness is a different thing, and we try to shrug that off. Like when someone asked about our Ethiopian kids, “Will they be black?” Aw, sweet little dum-dum.) The most hurtful thing we heard during our wait was from a black pastor who said, “Whatever you do, don’t change their last name to Hatmaker, because they are NOT Hatmakers. They’ll never be Hatmakers. They are African.” What the??? I wonder if he’d launch the same grenade if we adopted white kids from Russia? If you’d like to know what we’re learning about raising children of another race or ask respectful, legitimate questions, by all means, do so. We care about this and take it seriously, and we realize we will traverse racial landmines with our family. You don’t need to point out that we are adopting black kids and we are, in fact, white. We’ve actually already thought of that.

5. Saying nothing is the opposite bad. I realize with blogs like this one, you can get skittish on how to talk to a crazed adopting Mama without getting under her paper-thin skin or inadvertently offending her. I get it. (We try hard not to act so hypersensitive. Just imagine that we are paper-pregnant with similar hormones surging through our bodies making us cry at Subaru commercials just like the 7-month preggo sitting next to us. And look at all this weight we’ve gained. See?) But acting like we’re not adopting or struggling or waiting or hoping or grieving is not helpful either. If I was pregnant with a baby in my belly, and no one ever asked how I was feeling or how much longer or is his nursery ready or can we plan a shower, I would have to audition new friend candidates immediately. 

Here’s what we would love to hear Before the Airport:

1. Just kind, normal words of encouragement. Not the kind that assume we are one breath away from atheism. Not the kind that attempt to minimize the difficulties and tidy it all up with catchphrases. We don’t actually need for you to fix our wait. We just want you to be our friend and acknowledge that the process is hard and you care about us while we’re hurting. That is GOLD. I was once having lunch with my friend Lynde when AWAA called with more bad news about Ben’s case, and I laid my head down on the table in the middle of Galaxy CafĂ© and bawled. Having no idea what to do with such a hot mess, she just cried with me. Thank you for being perfect that day, Lynde. 

2. Your questions are welcomed! We don’t mind telling you about the court system in Ethiopia or the in-country requirements in Nicaragua or the rules of the foster system. We’re glad to talk about adoption, and we’re thankful you care. I assure you we didn’t enter adoption lightly, so sharing details of this HUGE PIECE OF OUR LIVES is cathartic. Plus, we want you to know more because we’re all secretly hoping you’ll adopt later. (This is not true.) (Yes it is.)

3. When you say you’re praying for us and our waiting children, and you actually really are, not only does that soothe our troubled souls, but according to Scripture, it activates the heavens. So pray on, dear friends. Pray on. That is always the right thing to say. And please actually do it. We need people to stand in the gap for us when we are too tired and discouraged to keep praying the same words another day. 

4. If you can, please become telepathic to determine which days we want to talk about adoption and which days we’d rather you just show up on our doorstep with fresh figs from the Farmer’s Market (thanks, Katie) or kidnap us away in the middle of the day to go see Bridesmaids. Sometimes we need you to make us laugh and remember what it feels like to be carefree for a few hours. If you’re not sure which day we’re having, just pre-buy movie tickets and show up with the figs, and when we answer the door, hold them all up and ask, “Would you like to talk for an hour uninterrupted about waiting for a court date?” We’ll respond to whichever one fits. 

Supporting Families After the Airport

You went to the airport. The baby came down the escalator to cheers and balloons. The long adoption journey is over and your friends are home with their new baby / toddler / twins / siblings / teenager. Everyone is happy. Maybe Fox News even came out and filmed the big moment and “your friend” babbled like an idiot and didn’t say one constructive word about adoption and also she looked really sweaty during her interview. (Really? That happened to me too. Weird.) 

How can you help? By not saying or doing these things: 

1. I mean this nicely, but don’t come over for awhile. Most of us are going to hole up in our homes with our little tribe and attempt to create a stable routine without a lot of moving parts. This is not because we hate you; it’s because we are trying to establish the concept of “home” with our newbies, and lots of strangers coming and going makes them super nervous and unsure, especially strangers who are talking crazy language to them and trying to touch their hair. 

2. Please do not touch, hug, kiss, or use physical affection with our kids for a few months. We absolutely know your intentions are good, but attachment is super tricky with abandoned kids, and they have had many caregivers, so when multiple adults (including extended family) continue to touch and hold them in their new environment, they become confused about who to bond with. This actually delays healthy attachment egregiously. It also teaches them that any adult or stranger can touch them without their permission, and believe me, many adoptive families are working HARD to undo the damage already done by this position. Thank you so much for respecting these physical boundaries. 

3. For the next few months, do not assume the transition is easy. For 95% of us, it so is not. And this isn’t because our family is dysfunctional or our kids are lemons, but because this phase is so very hard on everyone. I can’t tell you how difficult it was to constantly hear: “You must be so happy!” and “Is life just so awesome now that they’re here??” and “Your family seems just perfect now!” I wanted that to be true so deeply, but I had no idea how to tell you that our home was actually a Trauma Center. (I did this in a passive aggressive way by writing this blog, which was more like “An Open Letter to Everyone Who Knows Us and Keeps Asking Us How Happy We Are.”) Starting with the right posture with your friends – this is hard right now – will totally help you become a safe friend to confide in / break down in front of / draw strength from. 

4. Do not act shocked if we tell you how hard the early stages are. Do not assume adoption was a mistake. Do not worry we have ruined our lives. Do not talk behind our backs about how terribly we’re doing and how you’re worried that we are suicidal. Do not ask thinly veiled questions implying that we are obviously doing something very, very wrong. Do not say things like, “I was so afraid it was going to be like this” or “Our other friends didn’t seem to have these issues at all.” Just let us struggle. Be our friends in the mess of it. We’ll get better. 

5. If we’ve adopted older kids, please do not ask them if they “love America so much” or are “so happy to live in Texas.” It’s this simple: adoption is born from horrible loss. In an ideal world, there would be no adoption, because our children would be with their birth families, the way God intended. I’ll not win any points here, but I bristle when people say, “Our adopted child was chosen for us by God before the beginning of time.” No he wasn’t. He was destined for his birth family. God did not create these kids to belong to us. He didn’t decide that they should be born into poverty or disease or abandonment or abuse and despair aaaaaaaall so they could finally make it into our homes, where God intended them to be. No. We are a very distant Plan B. Children are meant for their birth families, same as my biological kids were meant for mine. Adoption is one possible answer to a very real tragedy… after it has already happened, not before as the impetus for abandonment. There is genuine grief and sorrow when your biological family is disrupted by death and poverty, and our kids have endured all this and more. So when you ask my 8-year-old if he is thrilled to be in Texas, please understand that he is not. He misses his country, his language, his food, his family. Our kids came to us in the throes of grief, as well they should. Please don’t make them smile and lie to you about how happy they are to be here. 

6. Please do not disappear. If I thought the waiting stage was hard, it does not even hold the barest candle to what comes after the airport. Not. The. Barest. Candle. Never have I felt so isolated and petrified. Never have I been so overwhelmed and exhausted. We need you after the airport way more than we ever needed you before. I know you’re scared of us, what with our dirty hair and wild eyes and mystery children we’re keeping behind closed doors so they don’t freak out more than they already have, but please find ways to stick around. Call. Email. Check in. Post on our Facebook walls. Send us funny cards. Keep this behavior up for longer than six days. 

Here’s what we would love to hear or experience After the Airport:

1. Cook for your friends. Put together a meal calendar and recruit every person who even remotely cares about them. We didn’t cook dinners for one solid month, and folks, that may have single handedly saved my sanity. There simply are not words to describe how exhausting and overwhelming those first few weeks are, not to mention the lovely jetlag everyone came home with. And if your friends adopted domestically right up the street, this is all still true, minus the jetlag. 

2. If we have them, offer to take our biological kids for an adventure or sleepover. Please believe me: their lives just got WHACKED OUT, and they need a break, but their parents can’t give them one because they are 1.) cleaning up pee and poop all day, 2.) holding screaming children, 3.) spending all their time at doctors’ offices, and 4.) falling asleep in their clothes at 8:15pm. Plus, they are in lockdown mode with the recently adopted, trying to shield them from the trauma that is Walmart. 

3. Thank you for getting excited with us over our little victories. I realize it sounds like a very small deal when we tell you our kindergartener is now staying in the same room as the dog, but if you could’ve seen the epic level of freakoutedness this dog caused her for three weeks, you would understand that this is really something. When you encourage us over our incremental progress, it helps. You remind us that we ARE moving forward and these little moments are worth celebrating. If we come to you spazzing out, please remind us where we were a month ago. Force us to acknowledge their gains. Be a cheerleader for the healing process. 

4. Come over one night after our kids are asleep and sit with us on our porch. Let me tell you: we are all lonely in those early weeks. We are home, home, home, home, home. Good-bye, date nights. Good-bye, GNO’s. Good-bye, spontaneous anything. Good-bye, church. Good-bye, big public outings. Good-bye, community group. Good-bye, nightlife. So please bring some community to our doorstep. Bring friendship back into our lives. Bring adult conversation and laughter. And bring an expensive bottle of wine. 

5. If the shoe fits, tell adopting families how their story is affecting yours. If God has moved in you over the course of our adoption, whether before the airport or after, if you’ve made a change or a decision, if somewhere deep inside a fire was lit, tell us, because it is spiritual water on dry souls. There is nothing more encouraging than finding out God is using our families for greater kingdom work, beautiful things we would never know or see. We gather the holy moments in our hands every day, praying for eyes to see God’s presence, his purposes realized in our story. When you put more holy moments in our hands to meditate on, we are drawn deeper into the Jesus who led us here. 

Here’s one last thing: As you watch us struggle and celebrate and cry and flail, we also want you to know that adoption is beautiful, and a thousand times we’ve looked at each other and said, “What if we would’ve said no?” God invited us into something monumental and lovely, and we would’ve missed endless moments of glory had we walked away. We need you during these difficult months of waiting and transitioning, but we also hope you see that we serve a faithful God who heals and actually sets the lonely in families, just like He said He would. And even through the tears and tantrums (ours), we look at our children and marvel that God counted us worthy to raise them. We are humbled. We’ve been gifted with a very holy task, and when you help us rise to the occasion, you have an inheritance in their story; your name will be counted in their legacy. 

Because that day you brought us pulled pork tacos was the exact day I needed to skip dinner prep and hold my son on the couch for an hour, talking about Africa and beginning to bind up his emotional wounds. When you kidnapped me for two hours and took me to breakfast, I was at the very, very, absolute end that morning, but I came home renewed, able to greet my children after school with fresh love and patience. When you loved on my big kids and offered them sanctuary for a night, you kept the family rhythm in sync at the end of a hard week. 

Thank you for being the village. You are so important. 

Adoptive friends, what can you add? What has been helpful or hurtful? How has your community helped you raise your children? What do friends and family need to hear?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Just 3 more days to buy a 31 bag!!!!

Just 3 more days!!!!

My friend Erin sells Thirty-one bags (, and she is kind enough to give 25% of each sale to the Oster Family Adoption!!! So, if you need a gift for a friend, family member or just want something cute for yourself, place an order before August 31st, and you'll be giving to our adoption costs!

Here are the details:

Customers can order on this link: . If you live near me, you can choose "ship to host" to save the $4.00 direct ship fee (email me for my address if you need it). ALSO, there is a special for August. If youspend $31, you can get a spirit collection item 50% off. Plus all embroidery is $5! Erin will close it out early on the morning of the 31st. :)

Monday, August 27, 2012

You bless us tremendously

"And it is he who says,
I, the Lord, have called you to demonstrate my righteousness.
    I will take you by the hand and guard you,
and I will give you to my people, Israel,
    as a symbol of my covenant with them.
And you will be a light to guide the nations.
    You will open the eyes of the blind.
You will free the captives from prison,
    releasing those who sit in dark dungeons."
Isaiah 42:6-7 NLT

I want to thank you all. Thank you for checking in and reading our blog. Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for your gifts. No matter the amount, they matter greatly. Each of these things brings us closer to our daughter. You bless us tremendously.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Friday, August 24, 2012

Jen Hatmaker's Blog

A friend of mine shared this blog with me, and I am so grateful! Jen Hatmaker gives an honest portrayal of adoption one year later in her post, "The Truth About Adoption: One Year Later." I especially resonated with the portion of the post that describes the stages. Evan & I are in the "pre-stage." She writes:

Pre-Stage: Waiting for Your Kiddo I just want to touch on this stage, as it bears virtually no resemblance to every single phase that follows. This is the hungry, manic process of paperwork, dossiers, referrals, court dates, in-country travel, Embassy appointments, and deferred hope. Maybe 5% of my adoption friends sailed through this stage. For the other 95% of us, expect delays, frustrations, snags, unforeseen interruptions, bottlenecks, slow-downs, obstructions, and an obliterated “timeline.” (Dear People Who Give Us Timelines, please stop doing that.)

Here is the upside: This is the stage you realize God can put a vicious fight in you for a kid without your blood coursing through his veins. Those early doubts about loving a child without the helpful instincts of biology are put to rest. Of course, you don’t know this kid yet, but you love him in your heart, in your bones. You’ll fight like hell to get to him. You can’t think of anything else. You are obsessed. You dream about him like you did when you were pregnant. You realize that when God said He sets the lonely in families, He meant it, and He doesn’t just transform the “lonely” but also the “families.” He changes us for one another. God can create a family across countries, beyond genetics, through impossible circumstances, and past reason.
Also, dear friends, check out the entirety of the post. You and I will both need the reminder after our child is home and the honeymoon stage is over. Freak outs will happen, and thank you Jen Hatmaker for letting us all know that this is normal.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A gift that God perfectly orchestrated

Evan and I are in the paper chase. We are getting tons of paperwork together for both our Home Study and Dossier. We knew that in a matter of days a big bill would come from our agency for our Home Study ($2,000) and post adoption deposit ($1,000). We need to pay this before we can complete the first Home Study which is an orientation in McLean, VA.

Every day Evan would come home and ask, any donations today? I'd tell him some support is trickling in, but God will show up and provide the $3,000. He may not be early, but He won't be late. And He did. I checked my email, and I saw Jason W's name in the inbox. Jason is in charge of AWAA's Eternal Family Program, where you can donate to the agency on our behalf. When I see his name, I get excited.

Then I saw it. A $3,000 gift. Exactly $3,000. Our supporter is not a millionare, a best friend, or a relative-just someone who loves God. A $3,000 gift days before we receive a bill for $3,000 is not a coincidence, it's a God-incidence.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


My friend Erin sells Thirty-one bags (, and she is kind enough to give 25% of each sale to the Oster Family Adoption!!! So, if you need a gift for a friend, family member or just want something cute for yourself, place an order before August 31st, and you'll be giving to our adoption costs!

Here are the details:
Customers can order on this link:  If you live near me, you can choose "ship to host" to save the $4.00 direct ship fee (email me for my address if you need it). ALSO, there is a special for August. If youspend $31, you can get a spirit collection item 50% off. Plus all embroidery is $5!  Erin will close it out early on the morning of the 31st. :)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

To see your sweet face

In the midst of paper work, I remind myself that all these forms are for a person. A little girl. I wish I knew her face. I look forward to the day that I'll have a picture of her at my desk, in my wallet, on the fridge, engraved in my mind. Until then, I search for images to help me picture her.

World Learning believes all children, particularly girls and other marginalized youth, should have access to free and quality primary education.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Breakdown of our fees

Some might think, "what makes up the $38,000 amount that we need to raise?" Well, I took this chart from our agency's website to give you an idea of the break down. Right now we are in the midst of the "paper chase" which includes collecting documents for the home study and the Dossier. We have covered the application fee and 1st installment of the program fee already. We are working on raising funds for the first two sections right now. Here is the break down:

Application Fee
1st Installment of Program Fee
Home Study (varies by state)
$1,200 - $2,500
Additional Home Study Documentation Prep. Fee (varies by process)
$0 - $100
Home Study Visit Travel Fees
(could include mileage, etc. based on current federal mileage rates)
$0 - $200
Adoptive Parent Training (2 adults)
$140 - $200
Documents/Background Checks/Miscellaneous
(varies by state and number of states previously lived in)
$100 - $1,000
USCIS Fee & Update Fee + Fingerprinting
Notarization, Certification & Authentication (varies by state)
Courier Service
2nd Installment of Program Fee
Post Adoption Report Deposit
(fully refundable if all post-adoption reports are returned on time)
Dossier Service & Translation
1/2 International Program Fee (1 child) •••
International Specialist Consultation (varies by specialist)
$100 - $400
3rd Installment of Program Fee
Post Adoption Administrative Fee
1/2 International Program Fee (1 child) •••
Trip 1 - Airfare (2 adults; prices will vary by season and location)
$2,400 - $4,000
Trip 1 - In-Country Travel Package (2 adults) ••••
$1,400 - $2,500
Trip 1 - Visas (2 adults)
Trip 2 - Airfare (2 adults; prices will vary by season and location)
$2,400 - $4,000
Trip 2 - Airfare
(1 child; prices will vary by season, location and ticket - ie: lap pass or child seat)
$250 - $1,000
Trip 2 - In-Country Travel Package (2 adults) ••••
$1,000 - $2,000
Trip 2 - Visas (2 adults)
Visa/Embassy Fee (1 child) •••••
Post Adoption Visits (varies by state)••
$600 - $1,300
Post Adoption Visit Travel Fees
(varies by state and location from social worker)
$0 - $300
Post Adoption Report Refund
(refunded in installments as, and only if, each report is returned on time)
$28,190 - $38,100
(highly recommended; state dependent; required if only one parent travels)
$50 - $1,500

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Odd Life

I am so excited to see this movie! I was reading my agency's blog today, and they mentioned that they had the chance to view the pre-screening of this movie. It looks like it's going to be a wonderful film that carries the message of adoption. Check out the trailer below.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

We need your support!

As I mentioned in my last post, Evan & I have begun the process of compiling paperwork for our home studies and Dossier. There are many fees associated with these processes, and we need your help! Would you consider supporting us financially? You can sponsor us through our agency, America World Adoption Agency. They have something called the Eternal Family Program where you can donate online on our behalf. Since AWAA is a nonprofit organization, it is likely a tax deductible donation, but please check with your tax professional. If you feel led to give, the website is Once on this page, you need to select the "Eternal Family Program" and then make sure to put our names in the notes section. If you can not give at this time, will you join us in prayer for God's provision? Thank you for joining us in this journey!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

It begins....

We are at an exciting and overwhelming stage in our adoption process. We have just been contacted by our family coordinator and social worker, and we must now begin getting things together for our home studies and Dossier. Evan was kind enough to print all of the directions out while I was visiting family and NJ, and I came home to 2 big stacks of paper. This is intimidating.

While Evan's school district is already under way, I still have 2 weeks before my teacher work days. I have a feeling that I won't be lounging around though. I have a lot of paper work to do.

Two years ago I worked on something called National Board Certification for teaching, and it was a busy and overwhelming year. I wrote and researched constantly, and when I sent in my portfolio in March of 2011, I felt both relief and fear over the results. It all ended up worth it when I found out that I passed. Why do I have a feeling that the Dossier will be the same? I have a feeling that National Boards prepared me for this.

Please pray for Evan and I as we start this daunting task!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Dear Daughter of My Heart (letter 1)

Dear Daughter of My Heart, 

I think about you often, even though I am sure you are not yet born. I want you to know that you are loved by many already. Your dad and I will do our best to care for and protect you. We will make every effort to be respectful of your unique culture, and we will work hard to provide you opportunities to learn more about it. Although you will not be born of my body, you are truly of my heart. I can not wait to meet you and hold you in my arms. I pray now that the world will be kind to you and accepting of our unique family, even though I know this will not always be the case. I pray that they'll see you for who you and appreciate your beauty. I pray for our connection to one another even though we are miles apart and part of very different cultures. I will try my hardest to encourage you to be the unique being that you are and remember that you are not me nor should you be. I pray that you feel fully part of our family and never doubt how much you are loved by us.


eh-MY-ah (mom)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Stepping Out and Being Vulnerable

I've learned a big lesson already in my journey so far. When you step out in faith and choose to live against the norm, you make yourself vulnerable in many ways. We have experienced overwhelming encouragement, and for that, thank you. However, we have also experienced disapproval too. This does not come as a surprise, but the reasons for the disapproval are interesting.

We have gotten a lot "Why not adopt domestically?" or "Why not an older child?" or "What about ______ country instead?" These questions are fair. There are tremendous needs in our country and around the world. No orphan is more worthy than another. Why Ethiopia, then? We were led there. 

In 1 Corinthians 12:12-20, it addresses the importance that we all respond to our unique call. "Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free —and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be?  As it is, there are many parts, but one body." 
My encouragement is this: if you feel passionately about domestic adoption, adoption of older children, or adopting for another country, find a way to meet that need. Adoption is not for everyone, but you can help support the cause in some way. If we all felt passionately about the same thing, many needs around the world would be ignored. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Why Ethiopia?

Why Ethiopia?

In the short time that we have been telling friends and family about our adoption, I have been asked this question a lot. It's a fair question. For many, our adoption announcement has caught them completely off guard. For those close to us in our life's journey, they have heard us mention adoption before. But, why Ethiopia?

I wish I had a perfect answer that would clear this question up for everyone, but I don't. All I can say is that we were drawn to Ehiopia, and God's hand was and is in this whole thing. In our research we can across a lot of staggering statistics about the country of Ethiopia and the children, such as:
  • Ethiopia has a population of nearly 75 million, and in this country about twice the size of Texas, there are an estimated 4.6 million orphans.
  • The children are primarily orphaned due to poverty, and 1 in 10 children die before their 1st birthday.
  • 58% of Ethiopians are illiterate, and about half of the nation’s children will never attend school.
  • There is 1 doctor for every 24,000 children.  Sources for facts: The World Factbook, 2010
These realities broke my heart, and we decided it can be 4.6 million orphans minus 1. I want to share 2 videos that were very impactful in our journey. The first is a video of another family's journey in adoption, and the second shares statistics about Ethiopia.