Monday, December 28, 2009

Court Date!!!!

We received an email from our agency this morning letting us know that January 21, 2010 will be our first court date in Ethiopia!!! Of course we are thrilled. We realize that there's a 50/50 chance that we won't pass court the first time, but it's a step in the right direction. After all, if we're going to pass on court date #2 or #3, there's gotta first be a #1, right?

We had a wonderful Christmas together as a family, and spent some special time remembering our adoption process and our adoption in Christ. The boys each received an Ethiopia t-shirt and the girls each got an "Ethiopian" baby doll and a bracelet with all the colors of the Ethiopian flag.

Sometime early last week, our little guy received the care package we set and saw our pictures for the very first time! The family who so graciously delivered our care package returned from Ethiopia this past weekend and emailed us some new pictures last night!!! So exciting to see more of our little guy, to see him sucking the lollipop we sent, wearing the outfit we sent, holding the toys we sent, and looking at pictures of us! Of course, our hearts ache to see him, to bring him home, but we are thankful for the little glimpses that we get through these pictures. Lord willing, I will be getting another care package ready to be sent with another family who will be traveling in a couple of weeks.

I received three more vaccination shots today. So, my arm's a little sore again, and it's possible I'll get some flu-like symptoms from the yellow fever shot, but we'll see. Joe and I are purposely going a week apart for this shot so that if we start feeling lousy, at least it won't be at the same time!

Well, I'd like to think of a creative way to end this post, but my mind is pretty much fried right now. Hopefully I'll be able to get some Christmas pics downloaded from my camera and posted sometime this week. So that's it, I'm done :o)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Another week . . .

This week has been a little less busy than last week. Granted, a lot of last week’s business was self-induced with all of the referral-receiving-adrenalin flowing through my veins! But, by God’s grace, that has begun to settle out and I am breathing and sleeping and taking a little bit more sane approach (I think) to the tasks that need to be accomplished.

I am still, although a bit more gradually now, gathering supplies for our trip to Ethiopia. Of course, we still don’t know when that will be, but I’ve started a little stock pile. There are some things we will need for ourselves, some for our little guy, and hopefully we will be taking many donations for our agency’s transition home as well as the orphanages. On Tuesday Joe and I received four of the eight shots/vaccinations that we will need before we travel . . . my arm’s still a little sore!

No news yet on when our first court date will be. I say “first” because there is a pretty good chance that we won’t pass our first court date – not because of any issues we know of, but because that just seems to be the case when dealing with courts and adoption cases in Ethiopia. We realize there is always the possibility that our case will never pass court and that this little guy was never to be ours, but so far our agency has never had it happen that a family didn't, at least eventually, pass court. They say the chances are about 60/40 (60% that you will pass), but from the last few months that I’ve seen, that seems a little optimistic. We are confident that God’s timing is perfect in all things, and we will see what He has for us. Of course, you may need to remind me of that if/when we don’t pass the first time!

Our agency is usually able to inform families of their court date within 2-4 weeks of accepting a referral. For us, it has been two weeks today. Of course, I was hoping we’d be more toward the two week range, but we’ll see! Our agency is just outside of DC, so they are actually closed today because of the snow there, and will have a few more closings the next two weeks due to the holidays. So I keep trying to remind myself that it may be even later than the estimated four weeks until we know our court date. I am so thankful, though, that God directed us to this agency where we are confident that these people are in it to serve their Savior by serving orphans, and that they have the children’s best interest in mind!

And so, another week has passed – in our lives and in this adoption process – and this morning I was wondering, how do our hearts grow to love someone so much that we have never even met? My mind immediately went to my relationship with Christ. How do I grow to love someone so much whom I have never met, whom I have never seen? God reminded me this morning that love is a choice. Throughout my walk with Christ, each time, by His grace and strength, I make a choice to act in a way that pleases Him, my love for Him grows. So, in a way, our love for this little guy in Ethiopia has been growing for over four years now as we began to pray about and seriously consider adoption. Until two weeks ago, there was no face or name to this love, but it was still growing nonetheless. Now there is a face, there is a name! And as our love continues to grow for this little guy, we are so thankful for our Savior’s love for him and for us!

We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Christ-filled New Year!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Frantically Waiting . . .

So, it has been a pretty crazy week since we got our referral. Our agency received our referral acceptance papers on Monday and sent us more information on what to expect and prepare for in this next leg of our adoption journey. Wow! My head was spinning once again! If you're anything like me - usually a "type A" planner - then you can understand! I've spent quite a few nights with very little sleep as my mind runs 100 mph. I made a list of all we need/want to get done and supplies needed/wanted to be gathered before we travel, and that seemed to help me settle down a bit . . . also, the frequent, gracious reminders from the Lord that I don't have to get everything done this week ;o) I spent the early part of the week getting a photo album and small care package ready to be sent with another family from our agency who will be leaving at the end of this week to go pick up their child.

Sunday afternoon we drove up to Joe's parents for a few days. Joe was speaking at a banquet at his friend's church (the family that God used to get us started in this adoption), and we had a great time talking with other adoptive parents and getting their encouragement, insight, and advice.

We sent our little guy's profile to the doctor at the international adoption clinic at Riley Hospital in Indianapolis for her review. We should be hearing back from her in the next few days with any help or insights she may have. We also saw an international travel doctor on Friday to discuss what immunizations, etc. Joe and I will need for travel. Ethiopia does not require any immunizations, but knowing that we need to be parents to our little guy in Ethiopia and also to our four children here when we return, we felt we should go ahead and get the recommended immunizations . . . so we'll be getting quite a few shots over the next several weeks . . . the kids were really relieved that it was mom and dad getting the shots this time!

On Friday we did our annual Christmas shopping trip with the kids, but with a little difference. My grandparents usually give all of their great-grandkids some Christmas money. In the past we have purchased gifts for our kids with that money and then wrapped them to open on Christmas morning. This year, with hoping/praying/planning to put more of an emphasis on our adoption in Christ and giving rather than receiving, we talked with the kids about using part of their money to buy something for orphans in Ethiopia that we will take over when we travel. We left it up to them to decided how much they would spend and what they would purchase. They really had a great time planning and buying, and it was fun and interesting to see what each one of them chose!

We don't have any new news regarding our adoption status to share at this point, but hopefully we will be getting a court date in the next couple of weeks. Our care package should be getting to him at the beginning of next week, and hopefully a few days after Christmas we should be able to see some new pictures of our little guy! We also chose a name for him. Early on we had decided that we wouldn't even discuss names until we had a face in front of us. We thought and sought advice on whether to keep his Ethiopian name or change it to a more American name. In the end, we decided to give him an American first name and keep his Ethiopian name as his middle name. Still can't share what those are yet, but Lord willing that will be soon ;o)

So, as I said, crazy week! The Lord has been gracious to me, and my husband very patient with me ;o) as I continue to plan and prepare. Joe is also planning and preparing, of course, but he remains a whole lot more "level-headed" than I am! I've found that in some ways, it's easier to not be able to do anything, but sometimes it sure feels good to be able to "do" something!

Sorry this is kind-of a hodge-podge post of our week, but just wanted to post what's been going on in the "process" this week. We appreciate so much your continued support through your prayers. And we continue to be in amazement at how God has used many of you to continue to provide financially for this process. He is an awesome God, and there is no word in the English language big enough to express how grateful we are to be serving Him!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

We Have NEWS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I waited to post this until we could contact all of those who needed to know before it "went public". Yesterday afternoon, December 4, 2009 - exactly three months after our dossier was sent to Ethiopia - we received a referral for a beautiful 2 1/2 - 3 year old little boy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We can't share any more information than that at this point, but wanted to let you all know (all 3 of you who read this blog :o) ) our big news. My head is still spinning!

Today we FedExed all of our signed referral acceptance papers to arrive at our agency on Monday morning. At that point they will begin working on setting a court date. If and when, Lord willing, we pass court the first time (seems there's about a 50/50 chance of passing the first time), we will then schedule our trip to Ethiopia to pick up our little guy. Also, once we pass court, we will then be able to share pictures with all of you!

We appreciate so much your prayers and support throughout this time. It's just so crazy that all of the "maybes" and "what-ifs" are now replaced . . . with a beautiful face!

Some have asked about the kids. Joey and Gracie are just absolutely thrilled. Joey has been obsessed with names for a few months now, so he is really concerned with what his name is going to be. Madie actually cried when she first found out. She has been concerned since the beginning about us traveling to Ethiopia and being away from her for so long (about 7-10) days. But we've talked and reassured her of what is going on and she is excited now. Joshua just keeps asking when the "boy on daddy's competer" is coming! Of course it will be an adjustment for all of us, but right now we are just rejoicing in God's clear blessing and direction for our family!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

"Why Ethiopia?"

This is a question that we have been asked a few times throughout this adoption process. It's a good question, and I usually give a lengthy answer (I know, shocking!). One of our reasons was that as we (mostly Joe) did research early on, we saw what a great need there is in Ethiopia, especially when compared to that of other countries that are open for adoption. As I was doing a little Christmas shopping yesterday, checking out the fundraisers on the blogs of some other families within our agency who are also adopting from Ethiopia, I came across this entry on one of their blogs.

Why Adopt from Ethiopia?
• One in six children die before their fifth birthday
• 44% of the population of Ethiopia is under 15 years old
• 60% of children in Ethiopia are stunted because of malnutrition
• The median age in Ethiopia is 17.8 years
• 1.5 million people are infected with AIDS (6th highest in the world)
• 720,000 children have been orphaned by AIDS alone, and there are 4.6 million orphans in Ethiopia.
• Per capita, Ethiopia receives less aid than any country in Africa
• In the 90s the population (3%) grew faster than food production (2.2%)• Drought struck the country from 2000-2002 (first year no crops, second year no seeds, third year no animals)
• Half the children in Ethiopia will never attend school. 88% will never attend secondary school.
• Coffee prices (Ethiopia’s only major export) fell 40-60% from 1998-2002.
• Ethiopia’s doctor to children ratio is 1 to 24,000.
• In 1993, after 30 long years of war, Eritrea broke from Ethiopia and became an independent nation leaving Ethiopia landlocked without any major seafaring ports.

The truth is, there are a number of reasons and influences that moved our hearts to Ethiopia, but the most important is the Holy Spirit's leading and working in Joe's and my hearts to being of one mind in this area. We continue to be overwhelmed with gratefulness that God has allowed us to follow Him on this journey!