Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What do stockings have to do with the birth of our Savior?

What do stockings have to do with the birth of our Savior?  Funny you should ask :) 

I don’t remember where I originally found this, but it sure speaks to our hearts during this Christmas season and as we hung a stocking for Baby E. 

Christmas Stocking - Because stockings cover our feet, they symbolize our life's journey. If our journey takes us closer to God, He rewards us with the joys and happiness of eternal life.

Please see the picture below of our Christmas stockings for Colton, Dylan and Baby E. We are looking forward to the Baxter journey ahead.   Hopefully next year we can fill her stocking with peace, love and joy!

Where's Baby E??

Where are we in the process?  We are just about ready to ship our dossier.  Hopefully this will happen within the next couple of weeks.  We have already submited our USCIS paperwork and are waiting approval of that.  We are told that after our dossier is shipped and translated in Ethiopia, it could be about 8 - 9 months until we get a referral of a healthy baby girl.  Then, we will travel about 3 - 6 months after that (you can see the processes that take place between the referral and travel).   Listed below is a sample flow chart of the process so that you can have an idea of where we are:

Sunday, December 13, 2009

An Oldie but Goodie

I've read this a couple of times before, but somehow it found its way back to me from our Adoption Agency. It's about the wait again. It seems sometimes I want things to happen in MY time, not Gods. This was a reminder to us again why things don't always happen when we want them to. Maybe we're not ready yet :) Hopefully someone will remind me to read this again a few months from now when I start complaining about the wait!

"He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver."
This verse puzzled some women in a Bible study, and they wondered what
this statement meant about the character and nature of God. One of the
women offered to find out the process of refining silver and get back to
the group at their next Bible Study.

That week, the woman called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch
him at work. She didn't mention anything about the reason for her
interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver.

As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire
and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to
hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as
to burn away all the impurities.

The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot; then she
thought again about the verse that says: "He sits as a refiner and
purifier of silver." She asked the silversmith if it was true that he
had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being
refined. The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there
holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire
time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the
flames, it would be destroyed.

The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, "How
do you know when the silver is fully refined?" He smiled at her and
answered, "Oh, that's easy -- when I see my image in it."

If today you are feeling the heat of the fire, remember that God has his
eye on you and will keep watching you until He sees His image in you.

Why does the baby's name have to start with E?

Why does the baby’s name have to start with “E”

Just in case you were wondering, or hadn’t connected the dots, we are an alphabet family (Angie, Brad, Colton & Dylan)… so, that’s why there will be a baby “E”.

The name that we like, but are still pondering is Elliana. . (eh lee AH nah.. or ellie-ah-na). It’s Hebrew and means God has responded. Maybe Elle for short or maybe a different spelling. Of course, there is always Emmalee, Emily, Emma, and some others we are pondering. It will probably depend on her given name from Ethiopia, which we will keep as her middle name. Most Ethopian names are difficult to pronounce and some are even spelled like English ‘bad’ words… yikes 

The Great Paper Chase

Where are we in the paper mess?

After we have all information together for our home study and our dossier, it all gets complied together, gets certified in Harrisburg, travels to Washington DC for 2 certifications, then goes to our Agency for submission to Ethiopia. We are hoping and praying to have all of this complete by mid-January or early February at the latest. In order for our dossier to be submitted, our home study must be complete. In order for our home study to be complete, all of our references and physician clearances must be in and we must have 3 home study interviews and appointments.

Here’s what we got accomplished in two weeks:

• Received our FBI paperwork stating that our fingerprints passed – which is surprising.. not because I didn’t think we would pass, but because they said it would take 4 – 6 weeks. It was more like 4 – 6 days!! Woohoo!
• Received our Child Abuse Clearances and Criminal History Verifications.
• Received our Employment Verification Letters from the NRC.
• Submitted our immigration paperwork to the Phila. Office of Homeland Security and Immigration. After 2 weeks, it was returned and had to be sent to a different office… ugghhh… resubmitted on Friday, 12/11/09 to the Texas office. (they changed the process 15 days before we sent ours in).. double ugghh. 
• Received our Local Police Letters stating that we are good citizens and have no record.
• We have our first Home Study appointment this Thursday! Yay!
• We completed our Ethiopia Adoption Training DVDs.
• Started reading our 500 page book. Need to take the test soon.
• Most of our references are in

What are we still waiting on?

• Our physician clearances and letters of reference (we were warned that this could be our hold up and so far, that’s holding true).
• A few more personal references

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Listen to Third Day's Merry Christmas

For those of you who asked about hearing the Third Day song, I think I figured it out.. Hopefully it's playing automatically when you enter the blog along with 2 other of my favorites. Enjoy! If it is not, you can go to the Dizzler gadget to the right and enter THIRD DAY, MERRY CHRISTMAS in the search artist box and then double-click when it comes up.

Hey, I'm trying to learn :)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Third Day - Merry Christmas Lyrics

Hold on Baby E, we are coming. . . Have you ever been driving along in your own little word thinking about you own little things and then BAM... a song comes on the radio and it's like your complete thoughts were turned into a song?? Well, that happened to me today as I was coming back from a little Christmas shopping wondering if we'd have Baby E home by next Christmas. I almost ran off the road! Oh my word, if you haven't heard this song this holiday season yet, get your tissues out! And, did I mention, Third Day is one of my favorites to begin with! (It definitely has more meaning when you actually HEAR the song).

Third Day - Merry Christmas Lyrics:
"There's a little girl trembling on a cold December morn
Crying for momma's arms
At an orphanage just outside a little China town
There the forgotten are

But half a world away I hang the stockings by the fire
And dream about the day when I can finally call you mine

It's Christmas time again but you're not home
Your family is here and yet you're somewhere else alone
And so tonight I pray that God will come and hold you in his arms
And tell you from my heart I wish you Merry Christmas

As I hang the tinsel on the tree and watch the twinkling lights
I'm warmed by the fire's glow
Outside the children tumble in a wonderland of white,
Make angels in the snow

But half a world away you try your best to fight the tears
And hope that heaven's angels come to carry you here

It's Christmas time again but you're not home
Your family is here and yet you're somewhere else alone
And so tonight I pray that God will come and hold you in his arms
And tell you from my heart I wish you Merry Christmas

Christmas is a time to celebrate the holy child
And we celebrate his perfect gift of love
He came to earth to give his life
And prepare a place for us
So we could have a home with him above

It's Christmas time again and now you're home
Your family is here so you will never be alone
So tonight before you go to sleep, I'll hold you in my arms
And I'll tell you from my heart, and I'll you from my heart
I wish you Merry Christmas"

Tax Deductible Donations Directly to Our Agency

If you are interested, Tax Deductible Donations can go directly to our Agency:

You can make tax deductible donations directly to our Agency in three ways:
1. On Line donation
o Go to www.cwa.org website;
o Click on the “Donate Now to CWA” link; Provide requested information;
o In the “Optional” section, select “CWA Family” from the drop down box.
o Please list our family (Baxter) so that we get proper credit for your donation.

2. Send a check made out to Christian World Foundation or CWF with a note indicating “Baxter Adoption Fund.” You can mail it directly to CWA, 777 South Allen Road, Flat Rock, NC 28731.

3. You can send the check (made payable to Christian World Foundation) to us and we will forward it for you.

Note: Even though CWA/CWF must tell donors that the funds are “accepted on an unrestricted basis,” 100% of the donations will go to our account. That’s just a disclaimer because of their non-profit status.

Thanksgiving and what we are thankful for

As we come out of the Thanksgiving holiday, we are thankful for everything and everyone we have in our life. The abundance of family, friends, food and opportunity. So many have nothing close to that. Our boys are awesome little kids, but they have NO IDEA how lucky they are for all that they have. They still cannot comprehend that when we pick up Baby E that all she will bring with her is the diaper on her bottom and a few pieces of paper about her life. No toys, no blankets, no clothing.. nothing. And, anything that she does have in her mind, will be left behind... the familiar faces at the orphanage, the smells, the food she is used to . . the sounds... it's kind of like being kidnapped and taken away from everything. We pray that this will not cause her distress later in life, but we know that as she grows, a lot of things will need to be explained to her. For adopted children, they often go through periods of grief, loss, feeling of abandonment and lots of other things...even if they were adopted as an infant. Eventually she'll learn that she was either abandoned or that her bio parents are dead.. how devastating. We know that we are bringing her into a world of opportunity . . . a safe place that she can feel loved, a place where she can learn, a place that she can prosper . . . but probably for the first few weeks or months, she's not going to understand that.

We are thankful for all of you and thankful that so far, the Lord has provided for our adoption costs. Right now, we've put about $6,000 in -- which totally amazes me. Not sure how we had that to put into it. . But soon, when we are ready to submit our Dossier (hopefully sometime in January), we will have to pay for our international fee ($8200), all of our authentication fees and a bunch of other stuff.-- probably about $10,500. We have no idea where that is coming from at this point, but we continue to walk in Faith. We can hold our Dossier until we save all the additional monies, but that will push our 12 - 18 month time frame back even further... ughhh... We will be doing a puzzle fundraiser and will be sending out letters soon to anyone that wants to donate towards bringing Baby E home. Please understand that this is VERY difficult for us to do. If you get a letter from us, please don't feel obligated to donate. I know it will all work out. For those of you who facebook, you may want to post our puzzle fundraiser on your fb page to help us out :) I'll get the information out soon. Hey, $1 or $5 here or there will all add up. Worst case, we'll go to the bank and get a loan. Or, if anyone reading this has some ideas for fundraising, please let me know. We will probably try to do a pig roast this summer somtime to raise funds for our travel, which is another ($6-8k).

Also, thanks to all of your who attended my first Mary Kay Open House. Any funds raised by me selling Mary Kay will go towards our adoption fund. So if you know any one who uses the products, please pass them my way (unless they already have a consultant). My show on Sunday raised about $200 towards our adoption fund. You can visit me on the web at www.marykay.com/angelabaxter Thanks so much!

Friday, November 20, 2009

A word about the wait

Sadly, we were told the wait for a baby girl is about 18 months.. so it looks like it may be 2011 before we have baby "E" home. The biggest hang up is the courts in Ethiopia. Our Agency gets to take 10 cases to court, two times a month. That's only 20 cases per month, and not every case gets approved on the first go-round. Somtimes the court needs more information, wants to check with any living relatives of the child, etc. Once the court approves the adoption, the child is then moved to the Agency "foster care" home until their forever family arrives. We were also told it could take up to 6 months (after court approval) until we can travel. You see, we need to get an appointment with the Embassy... so that again, is a hang up.

There are also many, many power outages in Ethiopia. This makes communication between the Embassy and the US difficult. They don't have high speed internet either! If they have access, it's dial up, so it could take literally many hours to scan and email one document.

I received this today from a family that had waited a LONG TIME to adopt a sibling group from Ethiopia. It's finally approved and final:

"Waiting on God isn't to be viewed as an obstruction in the way of the plan. Waiting is an essential part of the plan. For the child of God, waiting isn't simply about what I'll receive at the end of my wait. No, waiting is much more purposeful, efficient, and practical than that. Waiting is fundamentally about what I'll become as I wait. God is using the wait to do in and through me exactly what He's promised. Through the wait He's changing me. By means of the wait He's altering the fabric of my thoughts and desires. Through the wait He's causing me to see and experience new things about Him and His kingdom. And all of this sharpens me, enabling me to be a more useful tool in His redemptive hands."

I'll have to print that and put it everywhere! How true. . .

November 20, 2009 - Moving Right Along

Moving Right Along

Today, we successfully:
• Got 2 certified Marriage Certificates
• Mailed our Criminal History Checks
• Got Fingerprinted
• Received our Banking Letter of Good Standing
• Sent References to our Home Study Provider
• Contacted our physician to get information on a reference letter from her
• Contacted the Police Department to get a letter from them.
** If you are reading this, don’t be surprised if we contact YOU for a reference letter!!! Hahaha….

The monstrous list isn't looking so bad, after all!

Next we will begin working on our immigration paperwork and continue to fill out paperwork for our home study provider.

We also received a UPS package yesterday with our training materials from the Agency. We have a 500 page (yes 500 page) book to read and then take a test on. We also have to complete an 8 hour training course and then take a test. Finally, we have to watch a training DVD specific to Ethiopian adoptions. We already started that… it’s really awesome to hear of others’ experiences and what to expect from our new little baby. Things are so different in Ethiopia.. I mean really different. But, it’s amazing to me, that among such poverty and famine, the people of Ethiopia are so proud and work so hard.

Sadly, most of the children are true orphans (both parents are dead). Others are given up by a parent, because one parent may already be deceased, and the other may be dying. It's probably the most loving thing a mother can do for her children -- is to make sure they are safe and secure before she dies. This has to be a terrible and difficult decision for any mother. And the children.. my heart aches for them. I can't even imagine.

November 19, 2009 - Love, Mercy & Grace

One thing that we learned, early on in this process, is that we would need to give love, mercy and grace (forever) to those who do not understand our decision to adopt, and to those who question our motives. Our hope is that people may see the love, grace and mercy that God gives us everyday and start a personal relationship with Christ. Sure, it would be 'comfortable' for us to live our life oblivious to other people's plights… but what would that do for us? Sure, we can sit here and say, wish there was something I could do . . . BUT, Jesus didn't come into this world, and die on the cross for us to be 'comfortable.' I already know this child will bless us much more than we will bless her. Yep, I'm aware that in 8 years, both of our boys will be graduated from high school and college.. and we could be 'free.' Free to do what we want… free to buy this or buy that…free, free, free. But to us, freedom means: FREE TO PUT OURSELVES ASIDE long enough to help another…. FREE to teach our boys that another person's life is more important than a sports car…a fancy house or a fancy title. . . FREE to love another child and have room in our hearts and lives to raise that child…. FREE to bring a child that might not know God, into our home and teach them who HE is. FREE to do what God asks us to do . . . whewww... boy, I feel better now!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

November 18, 2009 – Why Ethiopia?

It’s funny. Once we tell people that we are adopting internationally, and then from Ethiopia, they start asking questions like, did you try China? What about Russia? How about India? What about the Ukraine? It’s like the children from Ethiopia aren’t worth it. It’s very heart breaking. To be honest, we really thought long and hard about Ethiopia. Bottom line – there are over 4 million orphans alone in Ethiopia! 4 Million!! Ethiopia has a relatively quick turn-around time (about 18 months), compared to China (which is now in excess of 4 years I hear). The travel time and time away from our family is minimal, and again, they have 4 MILLION orphans. Of course we know there will be struggles, and YES, of course we know our child will have a different color skin. Duh… yeah, we know that and we thought about it. We thought ahead about it for the child’s first 18 years…. How will our little town treat someone of a different color; what about prom? Will our daughter be asked to the prom if she goes to a predominately white high school? What about our community? Will she be welcomed as our daughter?... Lots of questions… we thought about them all. Then, our 10 year old summed it up in one sentence . . . he said, “Mom, aren’t we all God’s children?” ding, ding, ding, BINGO…. Something so simple that an innocent 10 year old can recognize takes some adults forever to understand, and sadly, some will never get it. But, YES, YES, we are all God’s children. It made me think of that song I used to sing in Sunday school, “Jesus loves the little children”… “red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight…” In fact, I think I actually sung it at that point, probably because I was trying to keep from crying. Both of our boys are so companionate for people. I’m glad. Diversity is all around us. It’s not a bad thing. God likes variety. Otherwise, we’d all be the same, right? As I said before, we are all adopted daughters and sons of Christ. We are adopted in to His arms, no matter what we’ve done, no matter what color we are, no matter what kind of car we have, no matter what ‘title’ we have, etc. Now, I’m not saying that we won’t have challenges ahead, but I know that we can get through them with the support of our friends and family and with the love of God. He wouldn’t send us on this journey, if we weren’t to learn something about it. We are constantly finding that all of our journeys in life are just training for our eternal life. We’ve walked through our share of ‘junk’ but in the end, we are always stronger for it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

November 17, 2009 – Case Manager Assigned

Yay! We had a Case Manager assigned and now have access to our online planner which gives an OVERWHELMING amount of information about the process, fees, timeline, etc. It’s all very exciting, but we are feeling a bit overwhelmed with the paperwork. Everything has to be certified originals and notarized. Even though we have a National Security clearance, we still have to get local, state and FBI clearances, again... ugghhh...

Brad went to the store tonight and bought a big PINK binder to keep all of our documents in. It’s pretty cool… he’s getting into the PINK ZONE.

Monday, November 16, 2009

November 16, 2009 – Touchdown!

This has been a really big weekend for us. We mailed our IAP out on Friday and watched it drive away in the Fedex Truck. The Fedex tracking system says it was delivered today @ 9:47 a.m. Yay!

We told our parents this weekend too. They are all very supportive. Of course, being parents, there are always a few questions, but just out of love  Our next goal is to tell our siblings. We also received 2 phone calls from social workers who can perform our home study. Both of them seem optimistic that they can get it done fairly quickly, depending upon how quickly we can get our medical references, personal references and clearances through. At this point, I am waiting to hear from our CWA case manager to see if Ethiopia requires anything special in their home study. We also told our managers today at work. That was exciting -- of course, people still think we are nuts, but I don’t really care. But, we needed to tell them because the references will be emailed to them within a week. Everything seems to be happening so fast, but I’m sure the wait ahead will be agonizing.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Heading to the Post Office Today

We are heading to the post office today to Fedex our IAP (Initial Application Package -- along with $2500).. that's all the legal stuff that will officially make us a active client of CWA. Yay!! Next we will be assigned a Case Worker who will help us along in the process. We are also in the process of interviewing and contracting with a Home Study Provider. This person will interview our family, come to our home, and look through tons of documents (medicals, clearances, financial, references, etc.) to make sure we are a good match for adopting a child. This entire process could take up to 3 months to complete because of all of the paperwork we will need to get together.

While getting all this paperwork together, we will also be starting our adoptive parent training and filing our immigration paperwork.... Lots to do, but all of this will bring us one step closer to our little girl.

Please continue to pray for us as we go through the mounds of paperwork and legal stuff. Please continue to pray for our boys, as they anxiously await their baby sister's arrival home (...although, they are still hoping that they will get a brother . .). Eh... only God knows which child belongs in our family, so we will wait for His decision and not question. This is God's work, not ours :)

Maybe in our next blog, we will explain what brought us to adoption, and why Ethiopia.

Adoption In The Bible: Romans 8:16 - Gospel.com

Adoption In The Bible: Romans 8:16 - Gospel.com: "When we accept Christ, we become 'adopted' children of God, members of His family. The Holy Spirit Himself testifies to our status as God's children.

We are new at blogging... so hang in there with us.

By the way . . . we are new at this blogging stuff, so hang in there with us as we figure out how to do all of this. We have a lot to say, that's for sure. Maybe our 13 year old can help us figure this out! ha!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wow, Who Would Have Thunk . . .

On November 8, 2009, our family, after much thought, prayer and discussion, filed papers with Christian World Adoption, for the adoption of a beautiful baby from Ethiopia.

Ok, most of you are probably thinking we are crazy . . . we already have to beautiful boys ages 10 and 13, but we've felt a tug at our hearts for the past 2 years to add another Baxter to our family. Biologically, we could probably swing it, but our advanced age (ha! Brad's 40 and I'm 38) we weren't sure if it was for us. But, we are aware of the millions of orphans across the globe that need a loving home and family. We can be that to someone!

This blog will serve as a chronological journal of our walk through this process. We are hopeful that it will be speedy, but expect it to be about 18 months until we bring Baby "E" home!

Please stay tuned for updates!

How can you support us?

Prayer - Please pray for us, that Baby E will be home with us soon, pray for our hearts to be strong through this journey, and pray that this child will be welcomed into our family, neighborhood and community with open and loving arms!

Fund Raisers - Gesh... we are going to try to put together some fund raisers to help us the the overwhelming expense of international adoption. More to follow.