Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Faustina.

Let me just say, God is good. He is everything good. He works on our hearts and convicts us of things in order to do His good. I'm so thankful for this, because left up to ourselves, nothing would happen. God has done quite an amazing thing in our lives over the last few weeks. He has squeezed past the craziness and the clutter of our lives and has given us an amazing gift that we want to share with you…Faustina.

:::backing up:::
A few weeks ago Brandon and I decided that we had had enough of "commercialized Christmas." We were tired of going to the store with cash in hand to find something (anything) to give someone              (everyone) for no reason other than, hey, it's Christmas, we're supposed to, right?

Someone posted this picture on Facebook and, quite honestly, it rocked my whole world.


I was convicted. And when I say, "convicted," I mean I threw up a little…not really, but I wanted to. Disgusting. I was ashamed to be a part of such a selfish culture. Then I realized that while our culture is often self-absorbed God has given us the precious gift of options. Those children on the left have no options - they hope to receive their basic needs but they have nothing to give anyone. The women on the right have their basic needs met and the option to decide what to do with the rest. We are blessed with the ability/means/resources to give!

Brandon and I discussed it and decided once and for all that Christmas was going to be different. Don't get me wrong, we're all for gift-giving. I love coming across that perfect gift for so-and-so and being so excited about it that I can't WAIT to give it to them…and I usually don't wait. What I have a problem with is excess. And getting stressed out about finding something to wrap up and give someone when, to be honest, I have no idea what they would like…or what they need, if anything. 

So, we decided that the best gift we could give anyone this year is not a trinket that will need to be dusted every other week or a toy that will be played with for 5 minutes and cast aside. The best thing we could do is give the gift of purpose. Of a relationship. Of caring for someone on the other side of the world who desperately needs it. 


This year, please accept our gift to you all - Faustina. She is 5 years old and lives in Ghana, West Africa. She lives in a one-room tin home with her brothers, sisters, and her mother who is sometimes employed in the local market. In the names of you, our family and our dear friends, Faustina will be provided with food, clothes, medical care, and better educational opportunities throughout the coming year and beyond. 

Please join us in praying for Faustina regularly - for her health, for her provision, for her family, and most of all that she would hear of the love that our Messiah, our Savior, the God of the universe has for her. 
The same God that loves you and me loves this precious little girl. She is His princess. 

May your holiday season be a time of peace and thankfulness!

Monday, November 21, 2011

progress!

Here's a little of what's been going on lately:

* Over the last few weeks, we have received two financial gifts from two very generous, amazing families.
 (Funny story…I wasn't quite prepared for our home study to cost as much as it does. I was, of course, fretting a little over this newfound information. Within just a few days of speaking with our home study agency, we received these two gifts that covered the cost exactly. I'm not exactly sure why I was so stressed about it - we had just seen God work through others in an amazing way not even two weeks before. Someday I'll learn about this thing called faith…)


* Our adoption agency sent out an email saying, "In honor of National Adoption Month, we will waive our "program fee" of $1,000 if you get us your contract by December 31st." Yay! Needless to say, our contract is ready to go out first thing in the morning.

* A friend and I were talking about a month ago and she asked me if we were planning on designing t-shirts to sell for fundraising. I said that we were and that I had a few ideas, but that I hadn't decided on anything for sure. She said, "Well, my husband is a designer and he loves to do this kind of thing. He'll help you out!" One dinner/meeting at Freebirds later, he's designing our t-shirts and working on making our blog more awesome and a bit less "free template-y."

* We found out that there are other families right here in Midland that have adopted/are adopting from Ethiopia! Three of these families are friends of friends, and I can't wait to get together with them, hear about their experiences, and get a few tips and tricks.

Did I mention that my Lord is faithful?

Friday, November 4, 2011

um, whoa.


An anonymous donor knew that we were $3,500 short from being able 
to write our first check to the adoption agency.

(Don't worry. From my experience, your jaw dropping and your eyes watering are a normal reaction).

Father, I'm overwhelmed by your goodness and so thankful that you work through
good people to accomplish your good works. 
Thank you for allowing so many people to be a part of YOUR story of hope and redemption. 
It's so wonderful to be reminded often that this isn't some harebrained idea that we dreamt up but that this is actually your plan for this child and for our family. I love you immensely.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Fundraiser #1 - complete!


Our first fundraiser is officially behind us, and as you can see, 
it put us a lot closer to our first goal!
After it was all done and everything was counted, 
we had made just about $1,900 which made our total $4,442. 
Only $3,558 to go!


People started showing up an hour early - as soon as the sun came up!

We had a little of everything…including the kitchen sink.

Yard sales are incredibly annoying. 
They're stressful, tiring, and way more work than they're usually worth. 
But, this one was wonderful and was worth every single second of work that went into it. 
We're a little over half way to our first goal! 

(We are incredibly grateful to all of you that donated "treasures" 
and your time to make this happen. 
We could never thank you enough, and we love you all.)


The yard sale's "closing ceremonies."
video

Monday, October 17, 2011

what made me cry today.

I simply cannot comprehend this. I can't wrap my mind around the 5 million that live in Ethiopia alone, much less 147 million?!  That's 147 million people that will never hear their birth story. Never see a picture of themselves as a newborn baby wrapped up against their mother's chest. Never be playfully thrown into the air and land safely in the arms of their father. Nobody cares if it's their birthday. Or if they get enough to eat. Or if they've outgrown their shoes. These children are out there literally on their own.

My heart hurts.


Saturday, October 8, 2011

"how many kids do you have?"

Someone asked me this question the other day.

And I actually hesitated.

Then I slowly answered, "Well…we have two here with us right now, but our third one is in Ethiopia. Soon we'll get to find out who he or she is."

It was an amazing feeling. I have no idea who our next child is, but he or she is already taking up residence in my heart. Simply wonderful.

Monday, October 3, 2011

yard sale!

It's time for our first adoption fundraiser - a yard sale!  We'll be setting up shop on Saturday, October 22nd.

Now don't get me wrong, our family has plenty of junk sitting in the attic, but we don't have anywhere near enough to make a dent in that big, scary number (aka, our first payment).  We're gladly taking donations in the form of "treasures/junk" that can be sold in our yard sale.  OR you can just come by and buy it all up.  :)

If you'd like to donate anything please let me know!



Monday, September 26, 2011

timeline.

Here's the short version of what we're shooting for:

We should have our first $8,000 (aka, our agency fee) turned in by the end of 2011. This ensures that our application doesn't expire and we won't have to re-pay our application fee.  Unfortunately, we can't apply for any kind of assistance with this first chunk of cash.  We have to come up with all of it.

After this we will have to wait about 3 months for the U.S. paperwork to clear, our home study to conclude, a few other things to happen, and then we'll be all set to go from the U.S. side of things.

Once this is done, we've got another 6+ months of waiting for the Ministry of Women's Affairs in Ethiopia to take care of the Ethiopian side.  Apparently there's no real way of knowing how long this will take, but we've been told to expect 6-9 months.

After the MOWA has decided to let us have one of their precious babies, we'll be matched with a baby living in Hannah's Hope, an orphanage located in the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa.  We'll finally get to see pictures of our baby, we'll receive their medical information, and we will take over their orphanage expenses.

Six months later, we'll board the plane to Ethiopia!  We won't get to bring our baby home at this point - this will just be a 10-day-long trip to begin the bonding process, make final decisions, and take care of a few legal things.

Six weeks after that, we'll return to Ethiopia, finalize the adoption, receive our baby's U.S. Citizenship, and return home to begin our new, wonderful life.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

moving right along.

I'm so thankful that God has been so blatantly obvious about this whole thing.  Sometimes I need to be slapped with the obvious (figuratively) in order to really understand His will, and He's been, well, faithful.

When I filled out the pre-approval there was a space where we had to list our top three "country choices." I tried to put "Ethiopia" in all three blanks, but it wouldn't let me.  I finally clicked Taiwan and China as our 2nd and 3rd and turned that bad boy in.  When our coordinator, Erin, called the next day she said, "I think Ethiopia is your best bet. For the other countries you have to be at least 30, so those won't work."  My heart fluttered a little when she said that.  "I knew those other countries wouldn't work," I thought, "our baby is in Ethiopia!"
After receiving our pre-approval, we filled out the actual application and sent that in immediately. We received a call not even 3 days later and were told that we had successfully made it through that phase of the process also.

Next came our first phone interview!  We received a HUGE packet of information and were told that we needed to be very familiar with all of the information before the phone interview. We spent hours going over every detail - agency contract, adoption process, timeline, fee schedule           (…oooohh, that fee schedule) - and, finally, we were ready.  On September 7th, we had our first interview and it went perfectly. 

We were pumped up and ready to go.  The next step?  Write a check.  A big check.

Oy.

Erin had given us a list of fundraising ideas (and they were great ideas), but still…yikes.  I started doing a little research to find out what kinds of things other families had done to fund their international adoptions.  There are lots of awesome blogs out there - it's like a little community of families who are all in the business of helping each other bring home their babies.  I'm excited to join in on it and get this ball a-rollin'!


Saturday, August 27, 2011

The email that started it all.

On August 21, we were in San Angelo for a baby shower for my friend, Sarah, and her new baby girl.  Over the years Sarah and I have had lots of adoption talks.  I mean, LOTS.  Throughout the course of the weekend several friends asked me about whether or not we had started the adoption process and I would immediately think about that stack of paperwork sitting in the dining room, and then mutter a quick, non-committal reply like, "Oh, yeah, kind of. We'll really get started on it pretty quickly, I'm sure."

On August 23, I received an email from Sarah. The subject line simply said
"for your adoption heart."
As I read the quick description of the video I could feel my heart start pounding. Tears welled up in my eyes. I clicked "play" and proceeded to bawl throughout the entire 7 minutes and 35 seconds of the video.

The Video
(I'm sure they don't mind me sharing it…)


ETHIOPIA, Lord?!  How terrifyingly daunting.  I didn't even know where to begin, but I knew it was right.  THIS was the reason that paperwork had been sitting there for 6 months. THIS was God's plan.  It had to be His plan, because there's no way we could pull it off on our own.

My family was already in bed for the night, so I spent the next few hours researching.  I think I looked up every possible adoption agency that works with Ethiopian adoptions.  Finally, I found the perfect one for us.  As I scrolled through the pictures of all of the case managers, directors, coordinators, etc., I felt like I knew them.  It seemed like they were already rooting for us!  I was overwhelmed with excitement…and peace.  Both at the same time! Crazy, I tell you.

I filled out the pre-application at 11:35 p.m. on August 23rd.
At 11:45 a.m. on August, 24th, I received a phone call from the agency. We were approved to begin the process of bringing our baby home from Ethiopia.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Our story begins...

We've always known that we would adopt.  From the very beginning of our marriage we have known that the Lord has called us to share our home and our hearts with children that were not born into a family.
After our son, Josiah, was born in such a traumatic way in July of 2010, we were advised not to have any more children biologically.  We knew that we wanted more, we had hoped that all of our kids could be fairly close in age, and knowing that adoptions usually take a while, we started the "foster-to-adopt" process in early 2011.  In March, we had an adoption counselor come to our house, meet our family, and conduct our first interview.  We were approved to begin the process and I had ALL of the paperwork filled out within a week.

And it sat there in the dining room for 6 months.

That huge stack of papers took hours to go through and I just tucked it all back into the folder and left it there.  I thought about sending it in every single day, but I just never could bring myself to do it.  I was terrified of the "foster-to-adopt" program because I knew that there was always the risk of bringing the child home, loving him or her as our own for months, and then unexpectedly having them removed from our home.  The process of adopting a foster child takes forever, and I knew that  I would be afraid to get attached to "my" child because of the fear of losing them.
We thought "foster-to-adopt" was our only real option since domestic adoption is crazy expensive and foreign adoption…well, that's like "remortgage-your-house" expensive.

Oh, we of little faith.  We had taken matters into our own hands and, as a result, spent all that time wondering if we were doing the right thing.
Little did we know that God was readying our hearts and preparing us to hear from Him in a massive way.  In a way that would require us to trust Him like never before.