Monday, December 20, 2010

Tax Deductible Donations Directly to Our Agency

It's that time of year again, and a few of you have asked, so I thought I'd do a post about tax deductible donations towards our adoption.  Even though we are on 'hold status' with our Agency, tax deductible donations can still be sent directly to our agency or to us to forward to our Agency. {make sure the checks are made payable to Christian World Foundation or CWF}  Any money received in excess of our Agency fees (which are already paid) will be held in escrow until we are ready to travel.  Once we get our 1st travel date, they will send us the check for the donations received so that we can use it towards our travel expenses or towards our current adoption loan.  

You can make tax deductible donations directly to our Agency in three ways:


1. On Line donation
  • Go to www.cwa.org website;
  • Click on the “Donate Now to CWA” link; Provide requested information;
  • In the “Optional” section, select “CWA Family” from the drop down box.
  • 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.

** keep a copy of your check for your taxes.  I'm not certain if they send a receipt out or not. 


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.  

Thanks so much!! 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

First Check from JustLove Coffee!

We just received our first check in the mail for $22.00 from JustLove Coffee! How cool is that? We just registered our store on November 27th and have already received a check.  Very good service!  If you purchased from us… THANK YOU SO MUCH! We purchased some as well to try, and it is AWESOME! We especially like the Fa La La La La Holiday Blend Coffee. We are not, by far, coffee connoisseurs, but this coffee hits your palate strong then has a sweet and almost holiday-ish taste.. it’s very smooth… almost hard to explain unless you try it. (add a little candy-cane creamer and it is yum-meee). 


For those of you who are local, we are planning a Holiday Open House on New Year’s Eve from 3 – 6 p.m. to sample some of the various coffees from JustLove Coffee Roasters. Please feel free to stop in and enjoy some coffee, cookies, and conversation! We’d love to see you!


If you still need some gifts, there’s time to purchase before Christmas, but you need to hurry! It took about a week after we placed our order for it to arrive. Besides coffee, there is also apparel, mugs and sample packages available on-line for purchase. Here's our link again, or you can click the icon to the right of the blog.   http://www.justlovecoffee.com/BaxterFamily6


Thanks again to everyone who helped us out this month! Hope you enjoy the coffee!

P.S.  If you are an adoptive family looking for a fundraiser -- this one is an excellent one to try!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dossier Do-Over

We recently read in our Agency correspondence the following
. . .The Ethiopian Ministry of Women, Children and Youth (MoWCY) has now begun enforcing a guideline that dossier documents have an expiration date of two years from their date of origination (i.e. the date when they were notarized or issued as certified copies). Documents need to be current at the time they are submitted to court. . .

Yuck! Most of our documents were dated November or December 2009. We most-likely will not go to court until November or December 2011. So this means in addition to having our Home Study amended for $750, we now have to do most, if not all of our dossier again. What does this mean exactly? Well, it means we have to have all of our employment letters, medical clearances, banking letters, personal references, local law enforcement clearances, photos, certified marriage and birth certificates, etc., all re-issued, re-dated and re-notarized, AND THEN go through the Authentication process again with the state and federal departments as well as the Ethiopian Embassy. Oh yeah, and PAY for it all again too. Then it will be sent to Ethiopia to be added to our paperwork so that everything is in order and up-to-date when we go to court.   Humph… We will also have to apply for a USCIS extension of our paperwork and fingerprints, as they will expire in August.  We are hoping and praying that they will grant the one-time extension to us.  If not, we can add another $1,000 for the reprocessing of that paperwork. So basically, it's as if we are starting the adoption process all over again-- well, sort of. 


Although it sounds like I’m complaining, I really don’t mean to. Truth is, we’ve done it once already, so the second time should be a lot easier, right? The dossier process really wasn’t that bad for us and I had a very systematic process to do it. In fact, I said that I enjoyed it so much that I should help other families put their dossier packages together. Although last time we did all this paperwork, we didn’t have a newborn baby in tow!  And, we did enjoy our trip to the Ethiopian Embassy and talked about visiting it again, so here’s our chance.  So, despite having to pay for the authentication process again, I guess it won’t be too bad. And, we won't have to start over on the wait list again.  Our Dossier submittal date is still January 2010 -- that won't change. 



And, honestly, we are grateful that CWA allowed us to go ‘on hold status’ during our pregnancy and will allow us to jump back on the list once Baby Faith is 6 months old.  Many agencies void your contract if you become pregnant during the adoption process, forfeiting all of your fees, clearances, etc. And although, at first, we were upset that we had to be ‘on hold’ for 6 months after Faith is born, we understand the logic and are thankful that we can continue the process in August. So, although we will lose about 7 months of wait time, we are still thankful that we do not have to start over on 'the list.' 


We’ve heard a million times that “…adoption is not for the weak-hearted…” Now we know why everyone says that.  The adoption process is daunting, exhausting and sometimes frustrating.  Many times there is so much red tape and processes that have to be followed that it is probably easier to give up; but, we know those regulations and processes are in place to protect the children, as well as us. We still have people who are surprised that we are still going through with the adoption.  I never once thought of quitting.  It's not like Faith is going to take the place of E.  Both girls are going to be very special blessings in our family, so why on earth would we abandon one or the other?  I'm baffled sometimes at the thought  process of some, but I'm sure that's a two-way street!  Ha!  So anyway, just for the record, we aren’t giving up. We will press forward until we bring sweet E home to her forever family, no matter how many times we have to travel, no matter how many times we have to redo our dossier, and no matter what. 
 
I have to keep remembering the path and that it is not MY plan. Sometimes we might have to take the scenic route through life, but think of all of the things we might have missed along the way if we had taken the short-cut! 

You're blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God.  You're blessed when you follow his directions, doing your best to find him. That's right—you don't go off on your own; you walk straight along the road he set.




 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Simply "E" Coffee

We are excited to announce one of our new fundraisers - - Just Love Coffee Roasters. Just Love Coffee Roasters is a Fair Trade Certified company. What’s more is that the founder is an adoptive dad of 2 little girls from Ethiopia. Just Love Coffee Roasters is fair trade coffee helping orphans and their forever families. Portions from all purchases from Just Love Coffee go towards a building fund for an orphanage in Ethiopia. Additionally, adoptive families (that’s us!) can sign up and create their own on-line store, and $5.00 from each bag of coffee purchased from their store will go to offset adoption expenses for their individual adoption. Not only are you helping support the African farmers through Fair Trade coffees, and orphans who are in great need, but you are also helping to bring our daughter home. We named our online store front “Simply E Coffee” You can visit our storefront by clicking the logo on the right side of our blog, or by clicking here
.
What is fair trade certified coffee?
Fair Trade means an equitable and fair partnership between consumers in North America and producers in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. The chief concern of the Fair Trade movement has been to ensure that the vast majority of the world's coffee farmers (who are small holders) get a fair price for their harvests in order to achieve a decent living wage.

Why is fair trade certified coffee important?
The United States consumes one-fifth of the entire world's coffee, making it the largest consumer in the world. But few Americans realize that agriculture workers in the coffee industry often labor in what can be described as "sweatshops in the fields." Many small coffee farmers receive prices for their coffee that are less than the costs of production, forcing them into a cycle of poverty and debt. Fair Trade guarantees to poor farmers organized in cooperatives around the world: a living wage (minimum price of $1.26/pound regardless of the volatile market); much needed credit at fair prices; and long term relationships.

How you can help us and Ethiopian farmers:
Visit our on-line store www.justlovecoffee.com/BaxterFamily6 and purchase a bag (or 2) of coffee or sign up for the 2Buy2 Club. Each bag of coffee purchased on our on-line store will generate $5.00 towards our adoption travel expenses. Plus, you will be helping local farmers in Ethiopia through the fair trade cooperation, as well as help to build a school for an orphanage in Ethiopia. You can also order the coffee directly through us, if you would like.

You can get more information on the history and story of Just Love Coffee our on-line store or the
justlovecoffee.com website.

I'm sure if you visit our home over the holidays, you'll be sure to have a taste of our Simply E Coffee (Justlovecoffee)! 

Christmas is coming! Coffee makes a great gift! Especially if it’s a gift that gives back!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

One year in process!

This week we passed our ONE YEAR anniversary of beginning the adoption process. I’m not sure how I feel about that, which is probably why this is going to be a babbling post, but this is why we started our blog in the first place… to document our journey and thoughts on Bringing E home.


Let’s do a quick recap of One year in process….

• 10 months waiting for a referral . . .

• But the last 4 of them being “ON HOLD STATUS” . . .

• Due to Biological pregnancy (that was previously considered not-medically possible). . . but

• Baby Faith due in February 2011. . .

• CWA placed us on “Hold Status” until Baby Faith is 6 months old. . .

• Will become on “Active status” again in August of 2011 and will get a referral soon thereafter!

Changes/issues that have arisen in the past 12 months:

  • CWA unjustifiably investigated for unethical adoption practices in Ethiopia.
    • Thought: what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger! CWA has definitely come out on top.
  • Ethiopia changes procedure requiring adoptive parents to travel to Ethiopia 2 times – once for the court hearing and then again for the embassy appointment. (thus doubling travelling fees). 
    • Thought – get to meet and bond with Baby E earlier, and soak in the culture of her birth country … not to mention get a dry run of travelling once without baby.. so we will be experts for trip #2! 
  • Time frame between court hearing and embassy appointment creeps into 4 – 6 months due to ongoing investigations and embassy-required paperwork, etc.
    • Thought: New time frame has just changed to 6-8 weeks or sooner! Also, adoptive parents and any bio parents are now appearing in court on the same day! 
  • Adoption Tax Credit is extended to 2011! 
    • Thought: hope we get to bring E home by 2011! 
  • Surprise Pregnancy with some slight complications!
    • God is good and has blessed Baby E with a sister to grow up with!
    • CWA is good in that we were able to go on “Hold Status”… we will go back onto the Active List after our Bio baby is 6 months old.. and then will be one of the first ones up for referral (since our dossier will be the oldest!) 
    • Keep in mind – some adoption agencies contracts state that if you become pregnant (even if it’s a miracle from God) during the adoption phase or referral phase, your contract is null and void and you lose everything!

And, even will all of this, and everything that has transpired in the past 12 months, we are more thrilled and more excited to bring Baby E home. We are not discouraged, we are not giving up, and we will continue to wait upon the Lord! We continue to get questions from people who think just because we are pregnant we will put this “whole adoption thing to rest…” Ha ha ha… they don’t know us very well… do they?

Did I think one year ago that this is where we would be?? Heck No! But, it’s not my plan, and I’m kinda diggin God’s plan right now. He knows what’s best for us. Things are going to be crazy around here for a while, but what a super-double blessing He has lined up for our family.

Here are some quotes from my posts throughout the last year (before we knew that our path would be changing so dramatically)… funny to read them and see how everything has come full circle, and lined up so beautifully, for purpose and for reason. We can see God’s hand in everything and every twist and turn our path has taken over the last year. But, we wouldn’t have it any other way!

“. . . but I guess it goes back to the whole trust and peace aspect of trusting God in this journey. He is the one who first placed this on our hearts, so He is the one who will help us grow and learn patience and peace through all of this. I must admit, I wince and pout (if truth be known) every time I see a change coming that's going to mess with MY plan, but guess what... it's not MY plan :) . . .”
“. . .I think in a world of instant gratification, it's easy to lose sight of the grand plan of things and get caught up in one little detail or set back. But we have to remember, all those little things and set backs were already figured into the grand scheme of things, unbeknownst to us. These little things are not changing our path or His plan for us or for our family-- He already figured them into the 'package deal.' . . .”
“. . . It's all apart of the plan -- the growing, the stretching, the maturing of our faith. The trusting that things will work out -- perhaps not as we have planned in our human minds -- but exactly how He has planned for it to happen . . .”



Baby Faith in 4-D

Ok, at first I wasn't sure what I would think of a 4-D view into my womb to see our sweet baby girl before she was born.  It's kind of like an invasion of privacy or spoiling a surprise.  BUT, holy cow.. I really like 3/D/4D Ultrasounds.  We saw the most wonderful views of our little one today.  We saw her open her eyes, yawn, and even sucking her fist and  playing peek-a-boo with her hands in front of her face.  The best thing is it's all captured on a CD that I can watch over and over again.  It's really neat to see her and her sweet little face.  We can already see how she looks like a good combination of both of the boys!  Of course, we think she's the most beautiful thing in the world.. but we're not biased at all :) 

So, you'll have to tilt your head slightly and have an idea of what you are looking at. (sort of like an optical illusion of the old woman vs. young woman)  BUT, here is a picture of baby Faith in 4-D.  In this photo, you can see a side view of her face!  You can see one of her eyes, which is closed, her cute button nose and part of her sweet upper and lower lips.  The blob up to the right of her face in the picture is actually her arm and hand.  She was trying to play peek-a-boo with us and the ultrasound tech and we were trying to snap a shot before she put her hands back in front of her face.  She's gonna be a stinker! 

It won't be long until she is here and then we can start our journey to get her sister in Ethiopia!    Makes me a little sad that we won't have a sneak peak into E's world before we meet her, but God already knows who she is, where she is, and when she will be coming home to her forever family.  So, we will just wait and hold on to that hope that she'll be here soon to meet her baby sister and 2 big brothers! 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Orphan Sunday, Part V

Happy Orphan Sunday! 

The last TWO ways you can consider helping and orphan or waiting child:


9. Adopt them into your family.

• Give a child a home through international, domestic, or foster care adoption.

• Adopt a young adult who has aged out of the system.

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God is His holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families… -Psalm: 68:5-6a NIV
10. Mobilize your church for them.

• Be a catalyst in your church for starting a sustained orphan’s ministry. Visit HopeForOrphans.org for resources and to learn more about attending a Your Church and the Orphan™ workshop.

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you. -Matthew 28:18-20
Personal thoughts:

I’ve said it before .. adoption is not for everyone. God doesn’t call everyone to adopt, but I do think that it is a proven fact that God expects all Christians to have some part in caring for the orphans and widows (both literally and spiritually). I also heard a lot of great quotes this weekend at the Mid-Atlantic Orphan Summit, but one that stuck with me about if you should or shouldn’t adopt, was this: Wow~  That quote came from Eileen Mestas (http://www.jobsdaughters.blogspot.com/).  I'm not sure if that's her own quote or from someone else.. but it was certainly a quote that stuck with me.  How true!  Eileen was awesome and such an inspiration.  We had the privilege to personally speak with her and meet her sweet twin daughters from Ethiopia.  Such an amazing woman and testimony. (I’ll post later on some of the great speakers (Tom Davis) and testimonies that we heard this weekend).
“God does not call the equipped; He equips those who He calls.”


Bottom line – We had doubts, and sometimes we still do from time to time.  BUT, we didn't want to be one of those couples sitting on their porch swing 30 years from now with regrets and questions about what IF WE DID adopt…how would our lives be blessed now?  Could we have afforded it even though we didn't think we could? etc., etc.  We didn't want fear of the unknown make our decision that will forever change a child’s life (and ours!).

As far as mobilizing in our church. We are not quite there yet, but are heading in the right direction. My goal is to definitely have an Orphan Sunday event next year and we also want to help other couples who are considering adoption.. not sure what that looks like (help with dossier prep, monetary contributions, support groups, etc.) But, we definitely want to ‘pay it forward ‘in some way, shape or form.

“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40



Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Orphan Sunday, Part IV

Here are #'s 7 & 8 (as taken from the Hope for Orphans literature, "10 Ways Every Christian can care for the Orphan and Waiting Child.")

#7.  GIVE sacrificially to them
Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. -2 Corinthians 9:7
#8.  ENCOURAGE them to press on
  • Sponsor a child, support them financially, and encourage them through your letters. Visit VisionTrust.org to learn more.
  • Become a mentor or tutor to a teenager in a foster group-home.
We urge you brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 1 Thessalonians 5:14

See video:  This is the reality for many children today! 


Hope is Fading – Orphan Sunday from Allan Rosenow on Vimeo.



Personal Thoughts....

The video that I posted regarding #8 is tough to watch.  I breaks my heart but that is the reality today for so many children.  I didn't post it to make anyone 'feel bad' but just to advocate for those who live with those consequences every day.  If you are looking for ways to support a child, there are so many organizations out there that support orphans or foster care children.  Make sure it's a reputable company.  Most of your donations are even tax deductible.  Programs like Compassion International support children and you can even write letters back and forth, get pictures and some have been lucky enough to travel to where their sponsored child is and meet them face-to-face. 


Catalyst 2009 Compassion Moment from Catalyst on Vimeo.



Also, consider donating money or holding a fundraiser for someone in the process of adoption.  Adoption is expensive, and there's lots of other costs such as travel fees, embassy fees, and just preparing for another child or children to come into your family.  Airmiles can also be donated to be used for travel, which is an awesome blessing.  Again, most donations made to a family or agency in the name of a family are tax deductible.  If you need names of families that are adopting, I'll be glad to provide a list for you :) 




Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Orphan Sunday, Part III

Here are #'s 5 & 6 for ways that you could consider caring for an orphan or waiting child: (as taken from the Hope for Orphans literature, "10 Ways Every Christian can care for the Orphan and Waiting Child."


#5.  Protect Them From Harm.
  • Become a Foster Parent or an Emergency Foster Parent.
  • Raise money to build a children's home to help remove children from the streets.  Visit WorldOrphans.org for details. 
#6.  Visit Them Where They Are. 
  • Go on a mission trip as an individual or a family.  Visit GainUSA.org or HelpOrphans.org for information.
  • Take dinner to a foster/group home on a regular basis.
Additional Info: 

If you are interested in getting information on becomming a Foster Parent or an Emergency Foster Parent, go to the National Foster Parent Association for specific state information.  http://www.nfpainc.org/  There should also be local organizations that can help you start the process. 

Food for thought . . . According to the most current AFCARS (Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System Report) Report, released in September 2010, there were approximately 423,773 children in the U. S. in foster care on September 30, 2009. The full report is available online via the Children's Bureau website at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/stats_research/afcars/tar/report17.htm.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Orphan Sunday, Part II

Here are 2 more ways you could consider caring for an orphan or waiting child: (as taken from the Hope for Orphans literature, "10 Ways Every Christian can care for the Orphan and Waiting Child."

#3.  Provide for their needs. 
  • Give sacrificially to a reputable orphanage. Financial gifts can be designated for specific items and aid needed by orphans. Visit HelpOrphans.org for more information.
  • Organize a drive in your church to collect school supplies for children in foster care or shoes for orphans overseas. Visit GainUSA.org or ShoesForOrphanSouls.org.

If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food…and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? -
James 2:15-16
#4.  Support those who support them. 
  • Mow, baby sit, or organize meals for a week for foster parents. Pray with them and tell them you appreciate what they do.
  • Encourage a family adopting an older child by hosting a shower for them.

and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds... -
Hebrews 10:24
My personal thoughts :) 

On a personal note, these 2 are EASY.  Everyone can certainly spare a pair of shoes to send to an orphan, or a $25 gift or more towards a foster home or orphanage.  Add up how much you spend on coffee or fast food in a week or month and donate that amount -- you'd be surprised how much you could come up with (and you might be a bit healther for it!)   Or, if you have kids, teach them the importance of giving to others.  Start a change jar and donate what you get in a 3 or 6 month period to an orphanage or foster care home of their choice.  www.ricebowls.org is a really cool spin on a change jar that's easy for kids or your organization to do.  We have done this several times at church and the kids (and adults) really do well.  You fill the 'rice bowl' (which the company provides free of cost) with spare change.  Once it is full, you send it in and all proceeds go to feed children and provide food for orphanages... it's really easy if you commit to doing it!   

Encouragement to those adopting or fostering is also so important.  Most folks to choose to adopt or foster aren't doing it for kudos from others, but it is sure nice to know that others support what you are doing.  Many times families who choose to adopt or foster are often questioned about their motives or purpose.  Be the light in these folk's day by saying positive things about what they are doing :)  Drop off a meal, offer to help shuttle their older kids to play-dates or sporting practice, etc. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Mid-Atlantic Orphan Summit

I'm so excited. Look what I found that is close to me!   Wanna join me?  http://midatlanticorphansummit.com/

Monday, October 25, 2010

Orphan Sunday, Part I


Sunday, November 7th is Orphan Sunday. (an initiative of the Christian Alliance for Orphans). November 8th is actually the ONE YEAR anniversary that we applied for our adoption. At the time, we didn’t realize that we applied to CWA on Orphan Sunday, but found it pretty significant after the fact! 


Back in July and early August, I was already planning to have an Orphan Sunday event complete with a meal, fundraiser, silent auction, etc. But, due to some of the uncertainties with my medical stuff, I had to cancel it. Nevertheless, the hope of advocating for the Orphan hasn’t gone away, so I’m going to take a week or so to post a few ways we can all advocate for the orphan. I’m not saying that everyone should adopt. Adoption is not for everyone, but there are other ways that all people can get involved in caring for the orphan via foster care, support, adoption, etc.

Hope for Orphans, a ministry of Family Life, has published a resource called "10 Ways Every Christian can care for the Orphan or Waiting Child."   I am going to repost their list, a few at a time, a couple days at a time.  Please take time to read and reflect on how you might make a difference in the life of a child, or how you could help or support a family through the process.  
 
I am not posting these to make anyone feel uncomfortable about orphans, foster care or orphan care, but to advocate and be a voice for those who cannot speak.  Most of you reading this blog have supported our family in one way or the other during the last year, and we will need your support and guidance in the coming year as well.  Thank you for all that you have done for us and for others in their journey to save another. 
 
Here are the first 2 ways you can consider supporting an orphan or a waiting child:  (as posted in literature from Hope for Orphans)

 
#1.  Pray For Them. 
  • Tape a waiting child’s picture to your dashboard and pray for the child every time you’re in a car. Visit AdoptUsKids.org or RainbowKids.com.
  • Organize an evening prayer vigil at your church and pray for children in foster care or an orphanage overseas.
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8
#2. Speak Up For Them.
  • Carry a waiting child’s picture and show it to other believers. Ask if they, or someone they know, would give this child a home. 
  • Become a court appointed special advocate for a child in foster care. Visit NationalCASA.org for details.
Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all the unfortunate. Open your mouth, judge righteously, and defend the rights of the afflicted and needy
. -Proverbs 31:8-9
Watch Video:   http://vimeo.com/12616432



 

Friday, October 22, 2010

9 Months Waiting & Update

Wow.. time flies, but how I wish E was home with us. Last year I was SURE she’d be home for this Christmas. Now I pray that she’s home by next Christmas.

Referral/”the List”

The “Referral Clocks” for our agency are moving, but not very fast for girls right now. They are still referring little girls to couples who submitted their dossiers in September of 2009… so they are about 13 (almost 14) months out for referrals. Since we are on HOLD status, we won’t get our referral until probably August next year, when Faith is 6 months old, but at the rate things are going, our delay won’t be too much more than if we were still on “the list.”

Court Hearings/Embassy Appointments

Our Agency has reported that the time from court to embassy appointments are now between 4 – 6 weeks. Last year is was 8-12 weeks, so things are moving in the right direction. They also reported that they are now scheduling both court appointments on the same day (biological family and adoptive family); one in the morning and one in the afternoon. This should speed things up as well as sometimes these hearings were days or weeks apart. 

Acacia Village

Other awesome news is that CWA has finally opened Acacia Village, which will house up to 250 orphaned children who are waiting to go home with their forever family. CWA reports that they love their new space and there are plans for expansion that will allow CWA families and missionaries to stay there as well. Christian World Foundation is still taking donations for this awesome project. Check out this link if you want to learn more http://www.acaciavillage.org/

What’s Next?

We have touched base with our home study provider who will have to do our Home Study Update once Faith is born. We will then need to apply for an extension to the USCIS for our paperwork and fingerprints (they will expire before we complete our adoption process). We are hoping they grant us this extension. Otherwise, we will have to resubmit all of our paperwork and fingerprints to the tune of $890.00.

When will you have E home?

Our hope is that we could get our referral in August or September and then perhaps travel at least once by the end of the year. To complete our adoption by the end of next year would be such a blessing, especially since the Adoption Tax Credit expires at the end of 2011.

The Courts will most likely be closed next year for the rainy season (usually from August until October) when we get our referral, so we will have to wait for a court hearing date until after the courts reopen. But, if we would get our referral, then have our court date by late October… there could certainly be a chance to have E home by Christmas next year. How cool would that be?

But, if I’ve said it once, I’m sure I’ve said it a million times—I’m not in control of the timing of things. So we will continue to wait patiently for our little angel.

Thanks again for all of your support and prayers during our detour!
"Love is never tired of waiting." 1 Corinthians 13:4




Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Thinking Biblically

We attended Catalyst this year again. If you remember from earlier posts, this is where we really felt a definite answer to adopt vs. pursue a bio pregnancy last year (little did we know that God would respond and we’d be doing both!) This year’s topic was Tension – as in the Tension in good. We’ve had quite a year of tension, and yes, we can honestly say it has been good. It’s good to feel a tug at your heart, or a tug at your wallet or just a downright tension that makes you get up and do something about an issue. Without the tension in our lives, I think we’d be content just to sit around and wait for things to happen or complain about why things aren’t happening.


One of our biggest tensions over this past year has been trying to ‘explain’ to people why we feel we were called to adopt, why we are adopting from Ethiopia, and why we are adding to our ‘seemingly’ perfect family. Then, on top of that, we got pregnant – which was deemed medically impossible. Honestly some people think we are downright nuts, and I totally understand. Adoption is not for everyone. But it is something that we’ve been called to do. But still, we have those looks from people, and the ‘what the heck are you thinking’ comments from people, especially now that we are pregnant on top of adopting. Big families are definitely not the norm these days.

That was where my head had been as we went to Catalyst this year. Not that I feel the need to explain myself or my actions to ANYONE here on earth, but it still has me scratching my head and sometimes thinking, “maybe we are crazy…”… you know??

Thursday night’s speaker was Francis Chan. Brad and I adore this guy. We had the privilege to have breakfast with him last year and he is such a genuine and compassionate person. He started Cornerstone Church in California in 1994 with 30 people and by 2000, it had grown beyond 1600. This guy donates like 90% of his income, doesn’t take a salary, and donates all of his book royalties to charities. His home is always open to anyone, any time.  Anyway, lately he has taken a slight beating because he and his wife, along with their kiddos, have decided to step away from Cornerstone Church and go to Asia to follow God’s calling. So they are packing up, saying goodbye to their family and friends, and moving to Asia for an indefinite period of time. He said he’d be hypocritical if he didn’t do what God was asking… but yet even some of his peers disagree with his decision.

What is remarkable is that he is feeling the same tension as we are… slightly different scenarios, but same type of tension. He spoke of this issue, and it made my heart happy about what he had to say, or specifically what his wife had to say. This clip is over 7 minutes long, but if you can, at least listen to the first few minutes. It made us breathe a sigh of relief… not that everyone in our circle live their lives according to scripture… but if you did, would your story fit… or would you be the weird one?

See video below to watch Francis

Catalyst East 2010: Francis Chan

Friday, October 1, 2010

This day I marry my friend (18 years ago)


“This day I will marry my friend, the one I laugh with, live for, dream with, love”

This weekend will mark our 18th Wedding Anniversary (and my hubby's birthday)!  It just seems like yesterday that we were making plans to get married.. and here we are 18 years later.  I guess time does fly when you are having fun.  I can't believe how much we have grown and matured in 18 years.  Can't wait for the next 18 as we begin yet another phase in our lives. 
Many of you know some of our bumps along the way and I can honestly say that those bumps and issues were necessary in order to make us into the people we are today.  We are definitely not the same boy and girl that we were 18 years ago!  God has opened our eyes and used us and our testimony to help others and give others hope in their marriage.  Even though it was a tough battle, I'm glad we fought it and won!  Too many people give us these days!  Like I've said before, I honestly believe God brings us to things not to defeat us or discourage, but to help draw us closer to Him and to mold us into who He wants us to be.  We are all clay in the potter's hands!

Happy Anniversary my love! 


"Let us not love with words or tongue, but with actions and in truth."   ~ John 3:18

Monday, September 27, 2010

Some light reading

Here is a picture of some of the 'light' reading we've been doing to get ourselves ready for the adoption!   Some of it (the large blue book - Adoption Parenting) was required and we had to take an exam on it... others were recommended.  I really enjoyed "Adopted for Life."   I still have to finish "Beyond Consequences, Logic and Control," but I hear it is excellent. 

If you are just beginning your adoption journey, the "Successful Adoption - A Guide for Christian Families" is helpful.  It gives you some good examples of letters to the birth family or to the Country Officials for your Dossier. 

Catching Up

Just thought I'd post a few (well, a bit more than a few) photos from the summer and such... Seems like I was just talking about the blizzard not to long ago!  Boy time flies when you're having fun! 

Dylan shot a "Robinhood" -- an arrow into another arrow.
Colton - Pitching in baseball


Rock Climbing in Chincoteague, VA

Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg, VA with cousins Jack &  Nathan
1st Place Sand Castle Winner -- Our "Crock", Corolla, NC


Dylan pitching in Fall Ball



Colton - Football #31



Happy Momma and Daddy
1st Baby Bump Picture -- 1/2 way there!

Brad and I helping to baptize some of our Best Friends! 

What an awesome day!



Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Baby's got new shoes... well, kind of


check out the cute socks (that look like shoes) that are among the things waiting for Faith (and E too, depending how old she is).... sooo cute!  Oh, girls are going to be so much fun!

8 Months Waiting

Tomorrow marks 8 months waiting for our precious E.  Even though we know our wait is going to be much longer, I'm still counting the months.  One month gone means one month closer to getting her, right?    It's still bittersweet for us... as we are ramping up and getting things together for Faith, it also makes us sad that E isn't here yet.  But, as we are buying one crib set for Faith, we are also buying one for E.  I want E to have her very own too... I don't want E to think that we have forgotten about her.  I think about her all the time.  As Faith is starting to push and nudge me in my belly and let me know her opinion of things, I also wonder if E's been conceived yet, and if she's making herself known to her momma too.  Since the girls are going to share a room at first, I'm torn if I should use the giraffe theme that we started for E now, or wait until E is close to coming home.  But, that would mean we'd have to redecorate in a year.. not sure I want to do that either.  So I think for now, we are going to blend them in but still save a few things for when E comes home. 

Faith will know from the beginning that her baby sister (or big sister) will be joining our family soon.   It will be handy to have two girls so that toys and clothing can be shared, as well as friendship and hearts!  I'm sure God had all of this planned out from the beginning.

Because we have to wait until Baby Faith is 6 months old until we can become 'active' in the adoption again... we are looking at ELEVEN... yes 11 long months of more waiting before we are matched with E.  Then it could be another 4 - 6 months until we bring her home.  But, I plan on counting each one of them down.  One down means one closer.

We are hoping that E is home for Faith's 1st Birthday Party in February 2012.  But, it would be really nice to have her home by the end of next year... especially since our adoption tax credit will expire on December 31, 2011.  But, tax credit or not, she will be worth the wait and worth every penny spent!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

How am I doing?


Not that I think all of you really care about my medical status, but for those of you who ask on a daily basis and to keep me from repeating myself, it was suggested that I post an update here… so here it goes.


I have SVT (supra ventricular tachycardia) which is basically an electrical disconnect in my heart that causes massive fast heart palpitations and concurrent symptoms. (just imagine a run-away freight train in your chest). . . Not typically a good thing when pregnant to have your heart rate in the 200’s. This is not typically a life-threatening condition. Usually it can be controlled by meds. Meds aren’t working for me and as the baby continues to grow, so will the demand on my heart. Surgery is the next option.. which is NOT typically an option when pregnant. My cardiologist is at a conundrum as to what else to do for me. He basically dumped me and referred me to another Cardiologist that treats high-risk pregnant women.

Meanwhile I was referred to a high-risk OB and given a 2 hour Level 2 Ultrasound and genetic counseling (I think it’s kinda late for that). They were concerned with down syndrome for little Faith. So far all looks good. She is measuring a little small, so they changed my due date a bit. I go back in 4 weeks for another ultrasound to see how much she’s grown. My meds and blood pressure can cause baby not to grow as fast as they would like but they think she is doing well thus far and everything is developed as it should be. The high-risk OB was NOT happy, however, with my current cardiac situation and was basically suggesting surgery NOW! Yikes.

Fast-forward to 2nd opinion from high-risk cardiologist… she put me on an anti-arrhythmic drug, along with my beta blockers to see if that will help control my episodes. Bad thing is, the anti-arrhythmic drug will keep me from nursing, once the baby is born AND there are not a lot of studies on this medicine with pregnant women because most beta blockers do the trick on pregnant women. Not for me, apparently. It’s still a Category C drug, but I’m really nervous about it. My only other option is surgery, which is really risky because they would have to sedate me and use radiation…which is not safe for either of us right now. So, I’m under close monitoring on this new medicine, hoping it will control my heart rate.

I am still not allowed to return to work for obvious reasons, but I am blessed to be able to work from home full time (when I’m not running to doctor appointments!). I typically have about 3 doctor appointments a week which is wearing us out, physically and emotionally. Thank God our family and church community is helping provide meals and helping to run the kids to their activities. We are trying to keep thing as normal as possible for the boys. I do not want them to grow up thinking pregnancy is horrible!

I can’t help but wonder what God is up to and what His plan is for us. I know… silly me trying to figure out “the plan.” Life has changed so much in the last 5 months. Lots of detours and re-routes, doors that open and doors that close. Honestly, if we THOUGHT we could have conceived earlier in the game, the same issues that I’m having now are ones that may have held us back from doing so (some medical issues, my age, and ratios of the probability of our child being born with defects). And those very things seem to be what’s happening now. So, what’s the deal? Did God want me to deal with my fear issues and trust Him (ummm. Yep, that’s my guess!). I suppose He’s already proved that medical tests and opinions are not always correct – especially if He has something to say about it. He’s been telling me for months to slow down (see previous posts)… and perhaps I wasn’t as obedient as He wanted me to be… so He slowed me down--- which is really hard! He is continuing to stretch me and mold me but my struggle for control is slowly diminishing. My house isn’t as tidy as it usually is, I’m behind on paperwork, I’m forgetting people’s birthdays, and I’m not attending every single thing that I’m invited to.. but you know what?? It’s ok. The world didn’t end because I forgot to send a birthday card or because I couldn’t attend a shower or one of the boys’ games. I think God has me right where he wants me at this very moment.

One thing that I know for sure is that whatever God’s will is for Baby Faith and for our family… I’m ok with it and it will be ok. No amount of worry and fretting is going to change it, so I’m just waiting to see what our next beautiful step will be! Apparently, God still has some things to show me through this journey, so I’m just hanging on for the ride.

Baby E, Meet Baby Faith!

We are thrilled to announce that we are having a Girl!  So, Baby E will not only have 2 big bros to look after her, she’ll also have a sister to play and grow up with.  2 boys and 2 girls in our family.  We couldn’t ask for anything sweeter!  Girls in the Baxter family are rare gems.  E & Faith will join with Baby Josie and Big Girl Ryane.  Can’t wait for the tea parties!  Now I know why I have been compelled over the years to collect tea sets!  Little did I know that I would one day use them for our daughters.  Thank goodness for our friends (you know who you are) that have girls that have softened Brad’s heart over the years to having daughters.


While we were having our ultrasound (which was over 2 hours!) baby Faith was playing hard to get.  She would not change positions so that the tech and doctor could get a good look at her heart or to determine if she was a boy or girl.   She did give us the thumbs up a couple of times… which has special meaning to Brad.  When the boys were little, Brad would always give them a ‘thumbs up’ for extra reassurance if they were scared or unsure about something.  It’s always been a ‘sign’ in our family that we use… so you can imagine our excitement when we saw this on the ultrasound screen several times! (now true, she was probably getting ready to suck her thumb... but maybe not!) 

Hey Mom & Dad.. all is cool in here.. no worries!

Knowing that I was a nervous wreck that entire day hoping that everything checked out on the ultrasound, it was like she was saying to us, “hey mom and dad… quit worrying… I’m giving you reassurance that I’m ok!” Yet another miracle from God!  Total peace came upon me at that moment. 
Finally after some pushing and poking of my stomach, baby moved and we were able to determine that we were having a Girl!... what a little stinker!   I hope E and Faith like pink because after all the footballs, baseballs, basketballs, camo and GI Joe gear around here... I'm ready for a little pink!  (not that I don't TOTALLY enjoy my boys... you know what I mean)!!  But, I must admit, I have a PINK football jersey! 


I can't wait for these 2 girls to finally meet.  What a sweet moment it will be. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Our Blog is now included in the Adoption Experiences website... not that you have to read it in 2 separate places.  But, this website is an awesome way to see what other are going through in their adoptions.  Ours, of course, is listed under the Ethiopia Adoptions on the left side... but there are other adoptions experiences from different countries too.  If you are following our blog and are interested in adoption, or just like reading other people's posts, please feel free to check out this site. 

Happy New Year

Happy New Year Baby E!


It's 2003!!!   Huh?

September 11th is the New Year in Ethiopia. Enkutatash is the word for the Ethiopian new year in Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia, while it is called Ri'se Awde Amet (Head Anniversary) in Ge'ez, the term preferred by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. Of course I have no idea how to pronounce that!  They still retain the Julian calendar, in which the year is divided into 12 months of 30 days each, and a 13th month of 5 days (6 days in leap year). The Ethiopian calendar is 8 years behind the Gregorian calendar from January to September and 7 years behind between September 11 and January 8. So it is now 2003 in Ethiopia! Confusing, huh? I wonder how that affects the paperwork as it goes back and forth from Ethiopia to the U.S.?

I tried to remember what I was doing 7 years ago in 2003. At the time, we were living in West Virginia, and our boys were 7 and 4. Wow! That was the year we went to Disney. Here’s a picture of the boys on the famous Tea Cups... too cute!

~Colton & Dylan - Disney 2003~
As the New Year begins in Ethiopia and as our year is coming into its last quarter, I wonder if Baby E has been conceived yet or if she’s been born yet? It’s still going to be about 11 months until we will know her face and story, which seems so far away. It makes me sad, but I also know that E will have a brother or sister around the same age as her to play and grow with when she comes home…. As well as 2 big brothers to look after the both of them! (I'm still hoping my belly-baby and E are close in age... maybe even having the same birth month!). 

Life continues to takes twists and turns for our family, but it is all by design. I just wish I had the blueprint! Our path that we began almost a year ago has detoured slightly, and although it’s frustrating to a ‘planner’ like me, I am still learning that everything happens for a reason, and that God’s timing is always perfect, even if it doesn’t match our own understanding.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.  Proverbs 3:5-7 NIV

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Room with a View (kind of!)


This was my view for 6 days last week. Unfortunately, I found myself in the ER and was then admitted for 6 days to our local hospital in the cardiac unit. Keep in mind I had never been in the hospital except to deliver 2 babies.. and that was like a drive-thru. I think I was only there a day and ½. So quite an experience for me.  All is well, though. Baby seems to be doing ok – he/she is a strong little bugger. I was admitted for a heart condition that decided to rear its ugly head now that baby is aboard and giving me increased blood volume. I have an ‘electrical blip’ that decided to make my heart beat at over 200 beats per minute. Fun stuff. If I wasn’t pregnant, it would be simple to treat, but because of baby, they had to be careful of what meds and how much they give me. It took a while to work out the bugs, but I’m home now and on semi-restriction for a few more weeks to make sure I am stable. (thank goodness they’re not checking my mental stability.. ha ha..). The baby seems to be withstanding my issues very well. I was able to hear the heart beat each day in the hospital and received another ultrasound to watch him/her kick and dance around in my tummy. We go in a few weeks for a Level 2 Ultrasound to make sure everything looks ok… and hopefully we will be able to find out if we are having a boy or a girl.


The nurses and staff at the hospital were wonderful. We had a lot of fun in the 6 days that I was there. I was stuck on that floor and not allowed to leave, so we all became pretty good friends. I was the entertainment on the floor since most of my respective roommates were born in the 1920s and 1930s.

On a serious note, what a tragic place to be when you are of sound mind and body and are aware and can hear everything going on. The stories and situations people are faced with… the priests and ministers that come in to try to save the unsaved ... the fear, the heartache and the uncertainly for so many people. Truly heartbreaking.

Although, while we were there, we were also able to show a little bit of Gods light to others. One day my hubby brought me in some flowers. I noticed he was carrying 2 sets of flowers and I asked him about it. He bought flowers for my 1st room-mate. She was an elderly widow who seldom received visitors. He thought they would brighten her day. While she was out for a test, he put them over on her table. She was so tickled when she came back and just couldn’t think who might have given them to her. I couldn’t help but think of James 1:27 (Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.) She was lucky enough to be moved to another floor, and that dear little lady held on to those flowers with all of her might as they wheeled her off the floor. It was a tear jerker for sure.

So anyway, sorry for being away from blogger world for a while, but I am back for the time being. Thanks so much to everyone for their well-wishes and prayers!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Couldn't have said it better!

I've posted about this before and we continue to get questions about the cost of adoption . . . so without getting on my soapbox again, I ran by a blog that I frequent from time to time, and she illustrates my thoughts (and probably all adoptive parent's thoughts) perfectly.  I also LOVE her anonymous caption at the top of her blog as well. 

Check it out!

http://buildingtheblocks.blogspot.com/2010/07/id-choose-you_30.html

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Baxter Family 6 !!

For those of you who have wondered if I dropped off the face of the earth -- nope I’m still alive. I’ve been very sick the last month or so and just haven’t had the energy to do anything. I apologize if you think I was ignoring you! The good news is I’m not contagious and it’s not life threatening. Any guesses? Well, contrary to what doctors have told us, apparently it IS POSSIBLE for us to have another biological child. We are pregnant! Due in February. We’ll call our belly-baby, Baby F. (Faith, if it’s a girl!)

For those of you who don’t know our entire ‘story’ we have 2 beautiful bio boys (ages 11 and 14) but a few years ago Brad and I were told (even as late as this April) that it was "medically impossible" for us to have any additional bio children, unless we went through some fertility stuff. We were ok with that since we had 2 boys and didn't feel we wanted to do the fertility route.  We thought if God had planned for us to have any additional bio children, then it would have happened. Hmmmm...  When we met with our Endocrinologist today, he just smiled and said, "well, congratulations! . . .sometimes these things happen." I’m hoping he knows this is a God Thing.

Come and see what our God has done, what awesome miracles he performs for people! 

Psalm 66:5
We are still in a bit of shock but it was so much more real when we saw his/her precious face on an ultrasound. I didn’t find out I was pregnant until I was about 9 weeks (since pregnancy isn’t something that we were thinking was possible).  I just assumed something was drastically wrong with my thyroid again. So you can image our surprise when the little test turned positive. Actually I went and bought a few more tests of different types and took all of them! Same result!

Now it is starting to sink in and we are getting excited for E & F to meet. I wonder if they may have the same birth month; or even the same birth day? Wouldn’t that be awesome? I’m not sure what God is up to yet, but I think it will be neat for the 2 kiddos to have each other to grow up with, play with and share with.

 
I doubt at this point that E is born yet, so we will continue to pray for her and her birthmother, as always. We are still at bit sad that we won’t get E on OUR timing and terms, but we are rejoicing for this little one in my belly, one who we thought would never exist! Truly amazing. . .

Some people think my life is like a train wreck right now…. But I must disagree. Right now my life is a Beautiful Mess… full of purpose and life. I’m learning that God sometimes brings things into your life (good and bad) to teach you something and mold you for His purpose and for His glory. Sometimes surprises and unexpected events can turn people from God but I choose to allow it to draw us closer and to trust Him more.

What happens to E and the Adoption?

Funny.. some people think that with our latest news that we would just stop the adoption and not pursue. Oh, they are so wrong….. Although, after talking to our Agency today, our worries were confirmed. We have to put our adoption “ON HOLD” until our Baby “F” is 6 months old. At that point we will be ready for our referral and can continue the process from that point. (Keep in mind if things had progressed as normal, Baby E would have been home by next summer)… So our hope is to have Baby E home by Baby F’s 1st birthday (But that won’t be until February 2012!) While we are so happy that God has blessed us with Baby F, we are heartbroken that E will have to wait. We know God has a plan and his timing is perfect and all of our children belong to Him. But our flesh is struggling oh so much. Our case manager said we can petition the Board for an exception, but they rarely grant them. They make the 6 month ‘rule’ so that we can properly bond with our newborn before bringing in another child. Makes complete sense, and once E comes home, she’s going to need a lot of our attention too.

After we become ‘active’ with the adoption again in August 2011, our case will be reviewed by the Board again to make sure we still fit all the parameters of the adoption. After we are deemed ‘fit’ we will most-likely get a referral pretty quick, since we essentially will have been waiting for 18 months. (Our Dossier DTE date is 1/22/10). Before all that happens, we will have to have our home study amended and will have to apply to the USCIS for a one-time extension that will hopefully get us through the adoption.

Let’s just pray that no delays or country stuff happens that would keep us from E permanently! So far all the changes that Ethiopia has made seem to be in the best interest of the child, so we pray that those changes will continue to the positive!

Things we’ve learned in 3 short weeks!!

  • With God, all things are possible.

  • Our ‘plan’ and God’s plan aren’t always identical (that’s a shocker) .

  • Our timing and God’s timing aren’t identical either.

  • We are finding peace with our new ‘plan’ with each passing hour.

  • Doctors are not always right!

  • God is giving E a playmate for life. Someone to grow up with and play with. Sort of like our boys had each other.

You never know what turns are ahead, but as long as you trust and press forward, things will work out the way He intended them to. We have a long haul ahead, but we can do it.

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12