Friday, February 26, 2010

I-171H Received

Yay!  We received our USCIS Form I-171H Form today!  We were fingerprinted on 1/25/10 and this was approved and sent on 2/23/10.. so it took about 4 weeks!  Very awesome, since I was expecting it to take 3 months. 

That's one more thing we can cross off the list!

This form expires in 18 months, so hopefully we will have everything complete by then!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Field of Dreams - 1 Month Waiting

Yay! One month waiting. Not too bad. We’ve had our ups and downs of wanting E to come home NOW to periods of time when we realized that we are not yet ready. I suppose that's why it takes 9 months for a baby to come!  It gives the parents time to prepare their home and their heart. We’ve talked many times in church about the timing, process, etc. And lately, all of those sermons are flooding my mind. Yeah, yeah, I know.. the plan, the process, God’s timing, etc. But I love when our Pastor and friends put it so eloquently in fresh new ways… a way we can all relate.

Last year, I remember, was a good analogy of a baseball field and how you can’t get ‘home’ without first touching 1st, 2nd or 3rd base. How many times in life, business and relationships, do we want to get home without running all the bases? How many people do we know in relationships or business that skip bases and get to home by cheating?  Here’s a small snippet of that awesome sermon about running to 1st Base (which is where we are in the game)
Running to first base takes faith. We must believe that God knows best.

Running to first base takes patience. Stay the course. Do things the right way not necessarily right away.

Running to first base takes humility. Every thing in your being will tell you to run the bases your way. In the end we must realize that God knows best. He is running the show. We must let go. If we can die to ourselves we will establish a strong foundation of character. Then we will be ready to continue on this journey with God guiding us every step of the way!

Our good friend, Sam, spoke recently about embracing the process (see his blog here His analogy of the process/event made me think about our upcoming process and the adoption process in general. Everyone on the outside remembers the "Gotcha Day," the photos, etc., but I'm sure most of us will never forget the process that brought us to the event. . . the trials, setbacks, unknown, etc. And, once we are far enough in the process to look back, I'm sure we'll be able to see God's alignment in it. For us, I already see it, but we have a long way to go yet. Sam said,

ask anyone to tell you a bible story… most likely they will remember the EVENT . . . Moses leads the people to the Promised Land! They don't talk about the 80 years those people wandered in the wilderness or the fact that Moses didn't even enter into the Promised Land. That's the process and it's not nearly as sexy . . . Noah builds an ark! Brought the animals in 2 by 2! Everyone knows that, but did you know that it took Noah around 100 years to build the ark . . . with his only help being his children . . . do you think he questioned at times if he really heard right from God? Building a massive boat in the middle of dry land? 100 years of a process brings us to the event. . .

His sermon focused on two main points:

Romans 3:28  What we've learned is this: God does not respond to what we do; we respond to what God does. We've finally figured it out. Our lives get in step with God and all others by letting him set the pace, not by proudly or anxiously trying to run the parade. MSG

Proverbs 16:9   In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps. NIV

Sam also said this –( I Love the last part!):
There is a plan in place for your life. You have an idea of what it should be, but in the end it's God's plan not yours. It can be a truly frustrating thing if you cannot get in step with God and His amazing story. A lot of times we just want to know what's next. This leaves us wondering the question all children ask their parents. Why? When my children ask this it just sets me off. What do you mean why, it's because I'm your dad and I said so.    I think God feels this way with us too. In the end, it's because God said so.

Ahhh.. the EVENT. . . can’t wait for that day, but I know that we first have to run all the bases, touch each one without being called out, and then continue walking through the process (with our heads up) until God’s timing for that child, and His timing for our family collide. It might not be when and how we want, but oh what a sweet day that will be!

“This is God's universe and He does things His way. You may have a better way but you don't have a universe.”  ~J. Vernon McGee

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Voice of Truth

Recently, CBS aired a story about corruption in Ethiopian Adoptions. A similar story was aired in September on an Australian network. Both stories attacked CWA with false allegations of unethical adoption practices in Ethiopia. CWA has spent many hours investigating the allegations and defending itself against a twisted story full of inaccuracies and allegations.

If you haven’t seen either of the news pieces, I caution you to not even waste your time or let the media poison your mind. If you must watch, please do so but with the knowledge that the story was created to make a good media story. Please look at every position, factor, and motive behind the story before forming an opinion.

I must applaud CWA though, for their 1 hour + rebuttal interview in which they put to rest the allegations made by the Australian journalist. It’s even quite entertaining. If you saw both news pieces, I encourage you to watch the 8 part interview with CWA’s attorney on Youtube:
It’s a long watch, but so worth it.

They have also made two statements, which can be found here:

When you defend the defenseless, there is always going to be those who question and oppose that, so that’s not a surprise. What is surprising is that news media can report on things without being accountable for their accusations. Adoptions are risky. In order to defend the defenseless, there is always risk involved. As our Pastor spoke about several weeks ago, "We are the servants who are given a life. If we take our lives and take risk to build God’s kingdom, we are rewarded in heaven. If we take our lives and play it safe, it’s actually a riskier way to live. . ."  His sermon was based on Psalms 82:3-4 You're here to defend the defenseless, to make sure that underdogs get a fair break; your job is to stand up for the powerless, and prosecute all those who exploit them." MSG   Brad and I were on-stage guests that week and spoke about our upcoming adoption and what it means to us to defend the defenseless. We also talked about the risks involved in an adoption. We know that the risks are there, but we are trying not to dwell on them. We must first embrace the process as we walk thu one step at a time. (I’ll post later about our good friend, Sam, and his sermon about “Embracing the Process.”)

I could go into lots of details about the claims, but bottom line – CWA has done an excellent, excellent job of preparing us for many of the risks involved in the process and once the child comes home. They have been very transparent.  They also require 10 hours of training, including on-line courses, lots of reading, dvds with testimonies of adoptive parents that have brought children home, entire segments on special medical needs of Ethiopian children, etc.

I can understand that occasionally, things may go wrong, things that parents may not have prepared their hearts for. . . things that may seem unfair. That happens in every family whether biological or adopted.  It stinks!! But, I think many times people look for someone to blame. But that doesn't necessarily justify attacking CWA.

One of the biggest things in the media is that people want a ‘guarantee’ that a child will be healthy or a guarantee that there will be no problems, or a guarantee that life will be peachy . . . I’m sorry.. children, families, and life in general doesn’t come with a guarantee. We are all clay in God’s hands to mold and sculpt to glorify Him.   

Unfortunately, the unjustified accusations will ultimately hurt and hinder international adoptions. At the end of the day that directly affects children who are in need of a forever family and families that are waiting in the process.  Please pray for the children and families that are waiting, and for the management and staff at CWA that they can continue to combat the allegations as they continue doing God's work in defending the defenseless. 

We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

Monday, February 15, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day, Part II

Ok.. this really has nothing to do with the adoption, but I couldn't resist and it's quite fitting for Valentine's Day.   I came across this picture of Brad and I when we were in 7th and 8th grade!  Can you believe it??  (Please ignore the parachute pants and the 80's hair styles going on).   We have been together since then and have been married for 17 years so that makes us a couple for ummmm..... 25 years!   Talk about trials, tribulations and such.  Oh my word it makes me chuckle.   In those 25 years, we've moved 5 times, had 2 beautiful boys, walked thru a total marriage redemption, came to know Christ, renewed our marriage vows, was baptized as a family, and can now minister and help others from our experience in our marriage.  Our life isn't perfect, but we've come a long way from parachute pants and Aerosmith. 

Jesus spoke of Christianity as a banquet, but never as a picnic -- Anonymous

                                                                        15th Wedding Anniversary/Renewal of Vows

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day Baby!

Even though we don’t know your name, face, or if you are born yet, you are already loved. Friends and family are anxiously awaiting your arrival, even though we don’t know when that will be. Gifts have already come for you.  Not a day goes by that someone doesn’t ask a question or give a kind word for you. We pray for you and your mommy and daddy every day. We pray that you are safe and at peace until we can come for you. Please know that You are loved. You will always be loved and everything begins with God’s Love.
We love because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19
We don’t know the timing of our first meeting, but we know that God has a plan and He will watch over you and keep you until we meet. We know that you are His child and He will care for you. We know that He has chosen you for us and our paths will soon cross… on God’s timing.
“For I know the plans I have for you” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Happy Valentine’s Day Baby!

Sweet kisses to you from your forever family -- Mommy, Daddy, Colton & Dylan

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Puzzle Update #2

Well, being snowed in does have its advantages.  I finished the puzzle! (and, all the pieces were there -- which is a miracle in itself!)   Now we are going through and writing the names of those who have sponsored pieces.  As you can see, there are still many pieces available for sponsorship -- but we have time!   I'm so excited to show Baby E when she's older!!  It will be neat for her to see the names and meet the people who have sponsored pieces.  Pretty Cool! 

If you are interested in sponsoring a piece or a row of the puzzle, please contact me via email @

Blizzard of 2010

We often wonder what Baby E will think when she sees snow for the first time.  Well, unfortunately, over the last week, we've seen our fair share of snow.  So, we want to put these pictures in our blog so we can show her the "Blizzard of 2010."  We received about 22" of snow on 2/5/10 and 2/6/10... and it took us most of 2/7/10 to dig out with the help of a friend with a Bobcat!  (Thanks Ryan!)   Then, on 2/9/10 we were hit again with at least another 24" of the white stuff along with 40 mph winds. which caused 3 to 4 foot drifts.  Lovely.   We have been blessed with the fact the the federal government has been closed -- so we haven't had to travel in this! 
Being trapped in doors for nearly a week has made me realize why some wild animals eat their young!  ha ha... no, the boys are doing well being cooped up, but it is taking a toll on mommy.   Luckily, I think we can get out today... Unfortunately, the forcast is calling for more snow next week. 

These pictures are from the 1st Snow!  2 of the driveway; one of the grill (no bbq for us).. and then one of my 2 snow angels :)

Hurry up Spring!!! 

Friday, February 5, 2010

Why does it take so long, Part II

Recently, our Case Manager spent 4 weeks in Ethiopia watching and learning the process from the other side. From what he wrote, it is simply amazing that they are able to unite so many families with children. To us living in the U.S., it’s hard to comprehend a world without email, fax machines, scanners, blackberries, or even cars, for that matter!  Following is a message from him, explaining what it takes to get ONE document, for ONE adoption, for ONE court hearing. God Bless the staff at CWA and all agencies in Ethiopia working so hard for all of us for the children.  This really puts the 'waiting' aspect into perspective. 

     I had the privilege of spending a few days in Soddo with our Children’s Cross Connection in Ethiopia (CCCE) partners on my trip to Ethiopia. One of those days I spent with the social workers, Sister Amarech and Ato Eyasu, so I could become acquainted with exactly what they do on a daily basis. They picked me up from where I was staying in the morning and we set off to see what we could do about getting a zonal document for a little boy I’ll just call ‘B’ who is now in the orphanage, but used to live in a nearby village.
     We spent about an hour on bumpy dirt roads before we arrived in the village where B’s father lived. As soon as we arrived, I noticed that the atmosphere was much different than in Addis. I don’t think we saw another vehicle in that town and certainly no other white faces. The children were very curious to see the car and get a closer look at the ‘forenge’, me. As we drove, most of the kids either yelled ‘forenge’ or ‘money’. When we stopped, they really just wanted to see. Stephne had warned me not to go handing out Birr.
     Our driver asked around and found that B’s father had been staying at his brother’s house since his wife passed away and he was sick. The fact that Ethiopia is typically a much more oral society than written one is evidenced by the fact that I only saw two street signs in Ethiopia and those were in downtown Addis. I was amazed that the social workers could find anything. We drove up to B’s uncle’s house and asked for the father. He came out and Sister Amarech explained what we were there for. She asked him if he would be willing to accompany us to the zonal court and see if we could get the last needed document for Federal court. He agreed, but wanted to change clothes first.
     As a side note, Ethiopian hospitality is remarkable. B’s aunt quickly brought out stools and chairs for all of us to have a seat and offered to make us coffee, but we weren’t going to be there that long.
     When the father was ready we piled into the car and headed back out into town. We stopped on the way because B’s father wanted to show me where B’s mother was buried. Once we got back into the village, our next task was to locate three witnesses who would be willing to verify in court the background of this family. Sister Amarech explained that this was no small request because we are asking people to give up a day where they are trying to provide for their own families to come and support another family. Due to the circumstances, the father’s illness and mother’s death, those in the community were compassionate and we only spent about half an hour locating the witnesses. Then, of course, the witnesses wanted to change clothes as they might be appearing in court later.
     Once everyone was ready, all eight of us piled into a Land Cruiser and drove about 30 minutes to the town where the zonal court was located. When we got to the court, we found that they were closed for lunch. Lunch in Ethiopia is from 12-2pm. We stopped to eat a lunch that Stephne graciously prepared for us. However, apparently a meal is not a meal unless injera is involved so we also shared some tibs and injera.
     When the court opened up again, I went with the social workers and B’s father to speak with the judge in his office. I was told that we were fortunate to see a compassionate judge that day and he agreed to hear the case later in the afternoon. We first needed to submit a formal request though. Sister Amarech came prepared with a pen and paper and we all sat on the benches as she wrote out the formal request letter in Amharic.
     We sat for a while longer and eventually were called in for the hearing. Even though the building appeared to be crumbling, the hearing was very formal. The judge wore a black robe and sat at a desk with a bright red table cloth. There was a man who assisted the judge and instructed everyone on where they were to stand or sit and when to stand and sit. He was an older man, but I wouldn’t want to cross him. B’s father and the three witnesses were all asked to place their hands on a Bible and make an oath before giving their testimony. Then they came in one at a time and sat in a chair a few feet in front of the judge while he interviewed them and took notes.
     After we were dismissed we were invited to have coffee in a room next to the waiting area. The coffee was strong, but appreciated especially after attempting to understand what is happening without knowing the language and eating two lunches. The judge’s assistant came to let us know that we would receive the document, but we needed to submit another formal request letter first. Sister Amarech again wrote out the letter and submitted it to the court. Eventually we did receive the letter and all piled into the car again. We dropped everyone off at their homes and thanked them. One of the witnesses insisted that we stay and eat sweet potatoes, so we sat under a tree, peeled and ate some sweet potatoes before heading back to Soddo…incredibly humbling. Finally, at 6pm we arrived back at the orphanage having obtained one document for one child. It was a good day!
     I was amazed that the Ethiopians would so generously give, not out of wealth, but out of poverty. And they gave to me, one who is beyond wealthy by their standards. I also gained such an appreciation for the work that is done on the front lines at the orphanages. Not only are they caring for the children and carrying them through malnutrition and sometimes sickness, but they are also fighting for these kids by spending endless hours traveling and pleading their case before officials. Please continue to pray for the staff that work tirelessly to care for these children whose alternatives are unthinkable.

Additional Information on the Court Hearing Process

     Some of you may have heard me say that there is a ‘rumor’ that Ethiopia may require adoptive parents to appear in court for the adoption hearing. Here is an update from our case manager regarding that:

Our CWAE attorney, Derrese, has confirmed that it is not just a rumor that adoptive parents MIGHT be required to appear in court for the adoption hearing. This is being discussed among the members of the court, and is under consideration. We will keep you informed of all developments as we hear of any forthcoming.
     Currently, our agency goes to the court hearing for us, under a Power of Attorney. Recently, there have been cases in which the parents go to pick up their children (after the court case, etc.), and decide not to take them (for whatever reason – medical, personal, etc.) Then, the courts have to go through the revocation of rights and those poor children are put back into the adoption circuit until they are matched with another family. (this hasn't happened in our agency)  This isn’t sitting well with the Ethiopian courts, which it shouldn’t. My best guess is that perhaps there are undisclosed medical conditions that are discovered when the parents arrive to pick up their children. (again, that’s just my best-guess). I’m sure there are other agencies in Ethiopia that are not as forthcoming with medical information as others. 

    While this is still unconfirmed, I see this as a double-edged sword. On a positive side, we would perhaps be able to see and/or meet our little girl a few months earlier, check out her current health situation and just hold her in our arms and squeeze her tight. We might also get to see the Orphanage in which she is staying (before they move her to the transition home). Although, depending upon the region, this might not be recommended. So, would this mean we would travel all that way and not get to see our baby? 

      So, I know it is out of our hands and God has a perfect plan for the situation. Just keep this in your prayers. Perhaps if this would happen, it would speed up the process and we’d have our baby girl home earlier? Or perhaps not, and this will just be another process in which our patience and faith will be tested. Either way, we are up for the challenge. 

    On a negative note, if we did get to meet her, we would have to give her back and come home until we travel again for our Embassy appointment. Gut wrenching to think about. Not to mention the fact that we would have to travel there 2 times verses 1 time, which will double our travel expenses. Plus, that means we would both have to take leave from work to travel, which would reduce the amount of time off once she comes home. And, I’m not sure, but that may mean that we could come face to face with her family and/or a remaining living parent during the court hearing? Gut wrenching again to think about the sacrifice her family is making for her. 

And again, these are all just the rambling that go on in my mind… scary, isn’t it :)