Monday, December 29, 2008

Child Slavery - Read This Article!

We've been getting lots of questions lately about why the Ethiopian government doesn't do more to expedite adoption cases. I like to think that the delays we have experienced are to keep things like this from happening. Check out this infuriating story about children being used as slaves in domestic settings. If this doesn't make you mad, I don't know what will!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Hello Blogger Friends! We wish you all a very Merry Christmas celebrating the birth of the King! We so wish our little ladies were with us (it's harder to celebrate when half of your family is missing!) but we look forward to sharing Christmas together with them as a family next year. For now, this our Christmas card to Baby E and Little Miss J.

video

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Thanks.

So we are still here. We did drop off the grid for a few days after Big Bad Wednesday. However, I've now had a couple of days to think ... really think ... a lot ... about the whole thing and I am feeling a little better now. We have been overwhelmed by the kindness of so many who called, sent texts and emails, posted messages on Facebook and replied to our last blog post
with words of encouragement and hope. I didn't realize how many other families have struggled/are struggling with passing through the court system. I have to say that is something for which I was not really prepared. Just knowing that we are not alone in our experience has been helpful to me. I have been thinking a great deal about what God has been trying to teach us in this. I can't say I have an absolute answer on that point yet but I do know that God has shown me that He does care. I have seen this primarily through the way He has used others to speak truth and hope into our lives during this dark time. My friend Ashley posted this great quote on Facebook: "Be encouraged for the Giver of Good Things, the Renewer of Hope, and the Dispenser of Wonderful Surprises is on your side. He loves you and He never fails. Never think that God's delays are God's denials. Hold on; hold fast; hold out." I am now looking for God's surprise in this. I know there is a reason for this delay and I am trying to be hopeful and patient as we try to figure out what the blessing is going to be in this.

We are excited that Rebecca and Ben will be in Ethiopia in just a few days, armed with a care package from us for the little ladies. They've promised to send us pics and video. We can't wait for that! What a Christmas present! Thanks to these special blogger friends for letting us add a few more pound to their already-stuffed suitcases.

Since these last few days have been pretty sad (it's hard to be around families and kids at Christmas when your own are so far away), I did something that made me happy. I organized all of the girls' clothes in their closet and drawers. Just looking at the sea of brightly colored dresses made me smile. The closet is a bit lonely right now - as are we - given then there are no little people yet to take advantage of that bulging wardrobe. But - they will be here soon because God completes the good works He begins. I am claiming that promise with my little mustard seed of faith- again.


I recently read this poem that reminded me of why we - as the body of Christ - need each other as we journey together through life. It seemed particularly relevant to experiences of adoptive families.

If you have gone a little way ahead of me, call back-
It will cheer my heart and help my feet along the stony track;
And if, perhaps, the Father's light is dim, because the oil is low;
Your call will guide my lagging course as wearily I go.

If you'll say He heard you when your prayer was but a cry,
And if you'll say He saw you through the night's sin-darkened sky-
If you have gone a little way ahead, O friend, call back-
It will cheer my heart and help my feet along the stony track.


Thanks to all of you who took the time to show us compassion and empathy in our time of need. We didn't know how many friends we had out there. Thanks for "calling back" to us.

Please pray for January 29th. Round two.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

THE WORST DAY

So after a night of much hopeful prayer coming from all of the faith my little mustard seed could muster, we got the call today from our caseworker about our day in Ethiopian court. I knew from her voice when I answered the phone that we didn't pass. Little Miss J's paperwork was fine. If we had only been adopting her, our case would have passed. The problem was with Baby E's paperwork. The court decided to ask for an additional document that is not usually required so this was a surprise to all concerned. The Gladney team will now have to acquire this document for our next court date which is not until 1/29. That means we will not travel now until February. As of last night, we were planning on New Year's Eve in Ethiopia. We will now not see our girls for many more weeks. What makes this even more hurtful is that we were the only family who did not pass court today.

This is a bit of a faith-shaking event. I'm not sure what God was thinking on this one. It's hard to process why all of this happened but we are trying to trust that God still has a plan for us and for our girls. We are now trying to regroup and plan what the next step will be. This is a truly devastating day.

Monday, December 15, 2008

PLEASE PRAY FOR OUR COURT DATE!

Our court date is Wednesday, December 17th. We are calling it "BIG WEDNESDAY" around here. On the West Coast where we live, Big Wednesday in Ethiopia will actually already be in progress on our Tuesday because of the time change. Would you please pray for us tomorrow - and for the other families that will be processing in court with us on Big Wednesday? Please pray that there are no "hiccups" and that our girls (and the many other children affected by these court decisions) are cleared to come home soon as our daugthers.

Thanks!

This is the big one.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Highlights from Baby Shower #3!



This weekend we were spoiled with another baby shower in our hometown. I spent Sunday afternoon with dear friends who have played different roles in my life over the years - Bible study friends, college friends, work friends, neighbors, adoption friends, even several former students of mine! What an absolute delight to share the day with these special girls who have supported us in more ways than I can even count through this adoption process. Thanks to Ana, Janet, Jenna, Emma and Kim for making me and the girls feel like absolute royalty. Your friendship is a treasure to me.

We were overwhelmed with gifts - again! - at this shower. We were thrilled to get some of the "biggies" - including our double stroller and our single stroller! Getting a few of those big ticket items was a total blessing given that those things are so pricey. We also got loads of toys, books, clothes, bath stuff, and even a membership to our local zoo! Special gift highlights included handmade "Mommy and Me" aprons for cooking (my friends know my love for cooking!) and handmade butterfly coat racks with the girls' names on them. We continue to be amazed at the generosity and thoughtfulness of all those who have partnered with us in this adventure. Our girls are so loved already.

One other fun shower highlight was getting to share with my friends about why we are adopting. It was special to have a total of four adoptive families represented at the shower. Two of our "inspiration families" (some of the people that got us thinking about adoption) were represented at the shower. Our neighbor Lora has 5 adopted kids from Korea. Shelley, our friend from church, has a precious little girl recently adopted from Uganda. Christy, a new friend we met in the area, has two on the way from Ethiopia and so do we! It is amazing to see how God is moving in different families to provide homes for His children.

Other weekend highlights included Davis finishing the last of the closet construction. He has now built custom shelving in the girls' bedroom closet and the playroom closet. What a guy! He even felt inspired enough to make custom doors for the playroom closet - one has cork to show off the little ladies' artwork and the other is a chalkboard. These are seriously cool. Thanks to Daddy Davis - AGAIN! Also, our dear friends Larry and Kim surprised us with handmade adirondack chairs for our patio in small sizes for little behinds! Larry does finish carpentry and he took this on as a special surprise project for the little ladies. He even put their names on the back in pink sequins! Thanks, Uncle Lar! The girls can't wait to go surfing with you.

We have been blessed beyond measure in our friendships and for that we are so grateful. We are truly rich in what really matters.

Only 9 days left until our court date....Please pray for us on 12/17!

(P.S. I was teased at the shower for making the same "shower face" in every picture. I acknowledge this is a problem. I honestly tried to think of a new face to make in the pics of opening gifts but came up blank!)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Another Update!

We finally got another update. What a joy to see new pics of our girls and know that they are thriving!

“ E especially has grown so much in the past few weeks, and I'm not just talking about her size! Developmentally, E has progressed from standing while holding on to something, to now being able to hold her balance on her own! She can stand for an indefinite period of time, without shaking too much, and seems very comfortable! E even responds to one-step command! It's more falling towards you with her legs moving, but she is getting the idea. She can say "mama" and "dada" as well as anyone else in her room. Now, she does spend quite a bit of time with her mouth on the edge of the bed, so be prepared for her to try and teethe on anything she can get her hands on. J has become much more confident. I mentioned in my previous update how she occasionally likes to be at the edge of the crowd - not this time! She has become very curious, and wanted to spend more time with me when I showed interest in what she was doing. Her eyes and her smile is heart warming too! She goes to the bathroom in the plastic, toilet training seats, which she seems very comfortable using. J really enjoys it when you take her picture as well. E is a bit harder to get to smile, but I just poke her stomach and make exploding noises! That seems to do the trick. Both J and E are healthy and happy!”

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving "Highlights" and Happy Birthday to Baby E!



This weekend we went to visit my family for Thanksgiving several hours away. During the mad food-prep rush, I sent Davis to pick up a forgotten ingredient. On the way to the grocery store, his car died. That's right - d i e d. We spent the day after Thanksgiving getting his car towed to a repair shop only to find out the tranmission was blown. His car was old enough that it didn't make sense to sink any money into it so we had to buy a new car! Needless to say, the timing of this major purchase was less than ideal. However, we are grateful that God provided us with the exact car Davis wanted at a great price. Ironically, the tranmission place where his car was towed (note the cross on the building!) was just two blocks from the dealer where he found his new car.

This Thanksgiving also marked a first in my family. Each year, my mom puts a whole potato into the opening of the turkey. This is supposed to seal in the juices and make for good stuffing. Every Thanksgiving, she carves a letter into the potato. It's often our last initial or my grandparents' last initial. This year, Baby E and Little Miss J were honored by making it onto the Thanksgiving Turkey Potato. Lucky Ladies! Given that their soon-to-be mom is a vegetarian, this is pretty funny. It was so sweet of Grandma to think of the girls and honor them at the Thanksgiving table.

Finally, today is Baby E's FIRST BIRTHDAY! This has been a bit harder for me than I anticipated. Missing your child's first birthday is a bummer because that only happens once in a lifetime. However, I know we are preparing a beautiful place for her and will welcome her home with open arms very soon. Today a neighbor on our street turned 90. All of the neighbors put balloons out in front of their houses to celebrate this special man. Little did they know, they were celebrating Baby E too! In her honor, I made some yummy double ginger and lemon glaze cupcakes that we shared with friends and neighbors. They were quite good (I know this because I ate three of them - oops). We also made a fun Happy Birthday video that we will show her someday when she is old enough to appreciate how dorky we look singing to a camera in our empty dining room! Happy Birthday, Baby E! Mommy and Daddy love you and are coming to get you soon, little girl! Don't grow up until we get there, ok?

(A few of you have asked why we don't call the girls by name or post pics on our blog. We actually aren't allowed to do this - yet. Once they become legally ours, we will be able to share a lot more with you!)

video

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Baby Shower #2 and Some Special Visitors




This weekend, I had my second baby shower celebration. The girls in my small group at church hosted a sweet luncheon to celebrate the coming arrival of the little ladies. They made a vegetarian Ethiopian stew for a lunch called Aleecha (along with some incredible lavender scones). The stew was so good. Thanks to Jenny and Sheryl for taking on this culinary adventure! Also, they gave me a beautiful scrapbook with messages welcoming the girls and lots of great books for their library. They had even included name plates for the books with the girls' names on them and sweet messages - many from their kids - saying how excited they were to meet them. One of the most creative gifts came from Tami (our crafty friend) who is making the girls little aprons for cooking with Mommy in the kitchen. So fun! I was so honored that these sweet girls - most of whom have many Mommy duties of their own - would take the time out their busy weekend to honor me with such a special girls' day.

We also had some of our dearest friends from out of town visit this weekend. They also have two little girls - one of whom is just a bit older than Little Miss J. It was fun to see some of the things we have collected so far being used by an actual kid! It was very fun serving morning oatmeal to a little person at our new little table! Little Miss F (our friends' daughter) and her baby sister were kind enough to endure a day of returns and purchases at Babies-R-Us, Target and Costco. Little Miss F asked all about my girls and provided some 3 year old guidance on what toys she thought they would enjoy. Thanks also to Mama Laura who provided lots of great Mom Wisdom about all kinds of things. While at Costco, we found a doll that both Laura and I agreed we could not pass up. She is so beautiful and looks a bit like my Ethiopian beauties! Davis also enjoyed practicing his Daddy skills with our little visitors. He's going to be a great dad.

I'll close with a quick invitation. If you haven't seen this video yet, please check it out. It's from my hero, Tom Davis, and the ministry of Children's HopeChest. They are currently launching a new outreach in Ethiopia and they are looking for people to sponsor Ethiopian orphans for just a little over $30 a month. Talk about a great investment!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Highlights from Baby Shower # 1!



This weekend, I had my first baby shower! My mom and sister-in-law went all out to throw the girls and me an absolutely beautiful party. I was so touched by all the work that my sister-in-law and my mom (and the countless kind friends she roped in to help!) did to make this day so special. My mom even included personalized pink and white M&M's with the girls' names on them and a video montage she created with pics of us and the girls set to music from the African Children's Choir and the "Baby Mine" song from Dumbo (total tear-jerker!). I enjoyed celebrating our coming adoption with some of my dearest friends from high school and college (two of whom also have two adopted children) as well as my sweet grandma and my mother-in-law, who flew in for the shower from out of state! My mother-in-law also brought with her the first of the two quilts she is making for the girls. It's the cutest thing you have ever seen!

We spent the lovely afternoon noshing on coconut cupcakes, playing games about celebrity moms and babies (why do we know so much about these people?) and opening up oodles of presents for the little ladies. One of the most fun presents was a pair of pink t-shirts that read "Ethiopian Princess". Thanks to Alison, one of my adoptive mom friends, who picked these up from Cafe Press! We also got our two carseats from my grandparents - a true blessing given how expensive those suckers are! My grandparents had also ordered, with my mom's help, a personalized wooden puzzle of Ethiopia with the girls' names on it. What a special gift!

It was hard to even know how to respond to so much love and generosity poured out not only for us, but for our children. A verse written in one of the cards I received is fitting when considering what I have seen through this process: "But he lifted the needy out of their affliction and increased their families like flocks...whoever is wise, let him heed these things and consider the great love of the Lord" (Psalm 107:41,43). Seeing such an outpouring of support from these dear women served to remind me - again - of the great love of God made manifest to us as we love each other.

When we got home from the shower, Davis and I had fun unpacking - and playing with - some of the girls' new toys. We hope they won't mind. A definite highlight was getting their little table and chairs put together and staging a tea party with the dog.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Happy National Adoption Month!



November is National Adoption Month and November 15th is National Adoption Day here in the United States. Given that our awareness of the needs of orphans is heightened this month, I wanted to take a quick moment to share a bit more of our own adoption story. I realized recently that there are some of you reading this blog that are thinking what we were thinking almost exactly one year ago this month - "Is adoption something we could/would/should consider for our family?" If that resonates with you at all, or if you are just passionate about meeting the needs of orphans, then read on.

Let's start with some numbers. Here in the United States, we love statistics. So let's look at some hard data. Here in the US, there are approximately 129,000 children in foster care in need of forever families. Broaden that globally, and the numbers are even more staggering. The most recent report from UNICEF suggests that there are roughly 132 million orphans worldwide with "orphan" being defined as a child under 18 that has lost one or both parents. While the need for any orphan to find a home is critical, the situation in Africa, a continent that has been devastated by poverty, war and disease, is particulary desperate. UNICEF reports that there are 12 million orphans in Sub-Saharan Africa. Ethiopia has one of the largest populations of orphans in the world with nearly half of the children having lost at least one of their parents. In 2005, a government official cited that HIV/AIDS, disease, hunger and poverty threatened to drive the number of orphaned children from 11 percent to 43 percent of the 45 million children in Ethiopia by 2010.

Those are some of "the numbers". There is some variance in the exact data depending on where and to whom you look for information but the bottom line remains the same. Worldwide, there are children who need us to see them, to notice their need and to act. They need us to, as the video above from Orphans Know More suggests, give them a face, a family and a future.


As I'm sure many other adoptive families can attest, the process of actually getting started can be overwhelming - it certainly was for us. There are so many variables to consider that it's hard to know where to begin. We spent hours on the phone and online trying to figure out what the "next step" would be. Thankfully, we had some adoptive families who were kind enough to give us some input that helped us to get started. If you are are considering adoption, it starts with just gathering information and getting educated about the need. The first thing we ever did was go to an America World Adoption seminar. That experience helped me to know that this was the "Plan A" for our family. The amazing thing is that there are so many ways to get involved. Maybe you don't feel called to Ethiopia like we do. If so, that's fine! God may have a particular plan for you that calls you to meet the needs of kids here, like our friends in Minnesota who are bringing kids from foster care into their lives and hearts. In case you are interested, here are some great adoption organizations that we really enjoyed talking to about adoption: American World Adoption, WACAP, Children's Hope International, International Christian Adoption, Children's Home Society, and Gladney Center for Adoption. This is a very short list but it's something to get you started.

The other thing I hear a lot from people is that they might consider adopting but they can't afford it. It's important that you know that there are resources available to help finance adoption. Here are just a few great leads on that front: Shaohannah's Hope, God's Grace Adoption Ministry, HIS KIDS TOO Adoption Bank and The Gift of Adoption Fund.

What we have learned thus far is that God will provide everything you need as you seek to take a step of faith. We have been amazed at how our needs are met daily in concrete ways as we prepare a home for our daugthers. Here's just a small example that has been really meaningful to me. We weren't sure who would throw us a baby shower given our unique circumstances. It looks like when all is said and done, thanks to the kindness and generosity of family, friends and neighbors, we will have had not one, but five, showers to celebrate our little ladies. That to me speaks in a tangible way of the abundance and grace of God and His heart for those in need.

So that's my one minute sermon on adoption! For those of you who are already on that wacky and winding road with us and just wanted a personal update on the latest latest, the girls' room is looking pretty fabulous thanks to amazing Davis. Here's a shot of him installing a light he built for me in Baby E and Little Miss J's new abode (I helped out with the painting!).





Thursday, November 6, 2008

An Update On The Ladies!

We finally got an update today on our little ladies! We feel like we have been waiting forever for this! The update from the in-country caseworker gave us a fun look into their little personalities. We got two new pics today as well. Baby E looks pretty terrified in her pic but Little Miss J looks just as fiesty as can be. She has a gorgeous mop of little black ringlets (her hair has grown SO much since her referral picture) and a huge 2 year-old grin that has "mischief" written all over it. Here's what they told us about our girls:

“This was the first time that I got to sit down and play with J and E, and they are so much fun! E is hilarious, because I'm not sure that she quite knew what to do about this strange white person showing her so much interest. After a few minutes though, she opened up and let me hold her, and really enjoyed playing with my face and hat! Though she still cannot stand or walk on her own, she can pull herself to standing and bounces around the edge of her bed. J is in the older kids foster care, so she spends all of her time with children who are her age or a bit older. This was great, because she took after them, and when I came to play, jumped all over me with the other children. ..It was very easy to get J to smile, because she was having so much fun with all the chaos that ensued from my appearance. E on the other hand, though curious, was much more reserved. I'll try to get one smiling of her next time!”

We can't wait to see Baby E's smiling face in the next picture. It's hard to believe that Lord willing they will be home in about two months! Please continue to pray for that court date. 12/17!!!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Generosity




This was a productive weekend! Our registries are all done, I picked out a swanky diaper bag, and we now have the crib almost all set up! Thanks to our sweet friends Betsy and Sky who handed this down to us for Baby E to use. We continue to be blessed and humbled beyond measure by the generosity of so many people. Earlier this week, my spinning instructor gave us a whole trunkload of stuff for the girls - and I don't even know her that well! Perhaps the best score was a set of little red roller skates that are made to be worn over shoes for toddlers learning to rollerskate. They look way too fun. Note to self: Add some helmets to the registry! We also filled up our trunk again on a weekend visit to Grandma's house. My mom gave us a wonderful set of wooden blocks (she had saved these for years thinking my kids might want them someday!) and some fun stroller blankets she bought at a craft fair. She also picked up two fabulous pink and purple princess crowns (see above) and tutus (I would have put one of these on too but sadly my Tutu is a bit big for these little tutus). Tutus and princess crowns are an absolute must with two girls! I think I may just take to wearing one around town or to work on occasion. You just feel so much better with a princess crown on! My dad also gave me a special framed picture he had put together of me and my mom when I was Little Miss J's age and my mom was the age I am now. It was really fun to see that. In all of this, I keep being reminded of how God longs to lavish his goodness and mercy on us and how He often does that through the people He puts in our lives. Our pastor mentioned this week that we know God's nature because of His actions in our daily lives. As our adoption story continues to unfold, I am growing in my understanding of how generous God is.

Friday, October 31, 2008

"THE DATE"

We got another important call today. We have "THE DATE". Our court date is scheduled for December 17th. Please continue to pray that all goes smoothly in court so that we can go and get the little ladies. Given our court date, it will be early 2009 before we can pick up the girls. We were hoping for 2008 but God knows what is best. We are trusting in His perfect timing.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Our Own Little Spaces

It's amazing how it has already become more difficult to find time to blog in the whirlwind of planning and preparing for the girls. I can't imagine what it will be like once they get here! I have to say it is a bit unnerving to constantly hear the phrase "Enjoy it now" referring to anything and everything when people comment on how our lives will change when the ladies arrive. I'm not sure if comments like that are entirely helpful for the already-terrified-of-the-transition adoptive parent. It's much like approaching someone about to jump off of a cliff and commenting about how TALL the cliff is and how FAR it is to the ground.

I did say in my last post that I wanted to focus a bit in this post on how our little life story connects with the Bigger Picture of the global orphan crisis. I have been thinking about a comment recently posted on the Red Letters blog. The author wrote, "I woke up this morning with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Why doesn't my church ... do more for the world's poor, orphans, and widows? I am just back from Ethiopia and the need is enormous...Are we going to leave this problem to the UN and political organizations like One.org? I think part of the problem is our obsession with ourselves and another part is the lack of accountability among church leadership. I wanted to encourage each of you to ask your church what they're doing with your tithe to serve the world's poor. If the answer is nothing or if you see priorities like big screen TVs taking precedence over injustice, you've got to ask yourself if you're at the right place." While I think we always need to be careful about being too critical of our churches and our pastors, I do appreciate the writer's passionate attempt to focus our energy and our attention on something so dear to the heart of God - caring for those in need, specifically the poor, widows and orphans. It seems that sometimes as Christians we lose our way in this regard because we just get so focused on ourselves and our own needs in our own little spaces in the world. I'm already noticing this in my own preparations for our girls. Our girls will have the benefit of so much love, so much care and so many resources to help them grow into the women God wants them to become - but they are the lucky ones in that regard. As I work on every little detail of building a nest for our daughters, it is easy to forget about the little ones who will still have no place to call home and no family to call their own long after I am gone from Ethiopia, back to my comfortable home with my new family in my safe little space in the world. That kind of complacency is costly and dangerous. If enough Christians get just comfortable enough, we can get lulled into doing absolutely nothing very well. We can also get so self-absorbed in doing good things for our own that we forget about the many others out there who desperately need our help. I am grateful that our church is looking to the future with a serious eye on reaching out both locally and globally to those in need. Our pastor recently preached on being "extraordinary Christians" by making the love of God tangible in our world. That is our heart's desire. If we can do "something beautiful for God" (to use Mother Teresa's words) by forcing ourselves to look out, rather than just in, more often, the world will be changed - and so will we.

On the note of helping those in need, I want to highlight a great organization that works with HIV positive children. It's called From HIV to Home. They do some amazing work helping to meet the many needs of orphaned children living with HIV. As we all continue to ponder what it means to look outward into a hurting world, it is helpful to be reminded of the words of Jesus who said, "I can guarantee this truth: Whatever you did for one of my brothers or sisters, no matter how unimportant [they seemed], you did for me"(Matthew 25:40). Orphans with HIV are a classic example of the "least of these" to whom Jesus refers. And yet, by serving them, we are serving the King Himself.



If you want to learn more about the state of orphans in other African countries, check out Brandi's great blog. I've mentioned her before. She is a mother and a passionate advocate for the children of Africa. She recently got back from Africa and has some stories on her blog that are both heartbreaking and humorous. She really helps you put a face on the orphan and humanitarian crisis in Africa right now.

On another note, we had a fun date night this past week at Barnes and Noble in the kids' section. We sat on the floor and each picked out a stack of books that looked fun that we then read together. We ended up taking home a great little book called That's Not My Puppy that is perfect for very little "readers". The book ends with a picture of "my puppy" that looks a whole lot like our very own canine companion! We also laughed hysterically at a book called Manners by Aliki which we also bought (I was literally in tears in B&N because this book was so funny). It uses worst-case scenarios to teach kids what not to do and why manners matter. We are wondering if it is inappropriate to give this as a gift to certain children we know! That same night, we also hit Michael's to get some "home improvement supplies" for renovating a cool wooden dollhouse my mom found for the girls. Here are a few fun pics from our date night.




Lastly, many of you have asked how you can be praying for us right now. We would ask that you pray fervently for our COURT DATE. We will not be able to bring Baby E and Little Miss J home until we pass our day in Ethiopian court. We are currently waiting to be assigned a date before a judge. Please pray that we are given a date soon so that we still have a chance to bring our daughters home in 2008. Also, please pray for two special friends of ours that Davis went to college with who are also adding two children to their family through adoption in the next few weeks. J and HJ will be adopting two children (ages 9 and 14) from foster care here in the US. They will be going from a family of four (with two very small children!) to a family of six. Please pray that God blesses them richly for this major step of faith. Pray also for a group that we are currently working on organizing. God has put it on our hearts to try and start a network for adoptive families of African children here in our community. We have already made connections with several families with children from Uganda as well as a family that is also waiting for their children from Ethiopia. Pray that God continues to connect us with others who might benefit from a group like this. Our tentative plan is to call the group the Gold Coast African Adoption Network (GCAAN). If you live on California's Gold Coast and have adopted children (or are planning to adopt) from an African nation and would like to be a part of this group, please email us! We'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Garage Sale Mania and Other Good Things



Wow! That last post must have been a good one. I got more comments on that post than on anything else I have written thus far. Thanks to all of you who weighed in on my diaper dilemma. I guess if I actually want to hear from some of you out there, I need to talk more about poopy diapers and my personal meltdowns. Will do! I'm sure when the girls get here, there will be a lot more to say on both of those fronts.

I have been percolating (I love that word) on this post for a few days. I have so many good things to share. This weekend, I had the chance to go with a friend to a killer multi-family garage sale in really nice part of town. The thing about garage sales in nice parts of town is that you actually get really good stuff for really cheap. My friend Jenna and I had so much fun driving around and around this swanky neighborhood hunting for stuff for the little ladies. To say that I scored would be an understatement. I got an antique desk that I am going to repurpose as a changing table (I'm painting it now) for only $45! I also snagged a cool art easel that is really high quality and a MOUNTAIN of clothes. I was literally picking up brand name dresses, sweaters, skirts - you name it - for somewhere between 50 cents and one dollar a piece! Check out the slideshow for pics of some of my treasures. Perhaps the most fun was stocking up on costumes for the costume box in the playroom. I got everything from a Tinkerbell outfit to a Care Bear costume with a stuffed bear head on it! I can't wait to have pictures of the girls playing dress up when they get a little older. I loved playing dress up as a kid and have such fun memories of trying on my mom's brightly colored plastic beads and scarves (this was the 80's after all). It will be fun to share playtime experiences like that with my girls. In retrospect, I realized some of the clothes I bought won't fit Little Miss J (our oldest) for another year or so but it was too hard to pass up cute clothes for a buck! When I got home, I did my first load of kid laundry. You can get lots of kid clothes into one load! It was fun folding all those little clothes up and stacking them in cute little piles. Make it a point to ask me in a year if I still think doing kid laundry is "cute". I have a hunch that the novelty of the experience may have worn off a bit by then.

The highlight of our weekend was attending the birthday bash for my former student's two year old son. EVERYONE at the party was Ethiopian. Needless to say, we stood out a bit! The people we met were so warm and so charming and made us feel like we were a true part of their community because of our daughters. Everyone we met wanted to see pictures and hear all about our girls. One woman even offered to come to our home once the girls get here to help with anything that needs to be done, including translation!

We also got to try Ethiopian food for the first time at the party. It was great! We really enjoyed the different types of lentils and the aromatic spices. Our host was very interested in what we thought of the food (he kept trying to get us to eat more!) and took the time to graciously instruct us in the proper etiquette for eating Ethiopian food using injera bread to scoop up the food on your plate rather than using utensils.

While at the party, we also got some great additional information on the meanings of the girls' given names in Amharic and more background on the region where they are from in Ethiopia. Our oldest is evidently from an area of the country that has a very rich historical connection to Christianity (as does the entire nation) that continues to this day. The amazing thing was that all the people we met at the party were Christians. One man was a pastor of an Ethiopian church in Los Angeles and he invited us to come and worship with them if we are ever in LA. What touched my heart most was how many people thanked us for what we are doing. One woman told me "Thank you for what you are doing for our children - for the children of Ethiopia." I was so humbled by the fact that she was thanking me for getting such a huge blessing! I told her that we were the ones who owed a debt of gratitude to Ethiopia for giving us our precious girls. We are so excited about staying connected to this community that embraced us so openly. Many of the people we met live reasonably close to us and have children. It will be so wonderful to have other Ethiopian children for our daughters to play with as they grow up here in the United States. There were so many kids at the party and they were all absolutely beautiful. It made us long to see our own Ethiopian beauties all the more. The night ended with all the kids gathering around the birthday boy to sing Happy Birthday in English - and then in Amharic! We'll need to learn Happy Birthday in Amharic (right now I'm still stuck on phrases like "Do you have to go potty?"). It would be special to sing to the girls in Amharic on their birthdays to honor their heritage.

In so many ways, these little "coincidences" - things we need provided for next to nothing, strangers embracing us as friends - have helped me to know that we are in the exact center of God's will in building our family through this adoption. I am so happy that we made this decision and I have such peace that we are right where we are supposed to be. I wrote in a previous post about how God "longs to be gracious to us". Each day of this journey, I am finding more reasons to marvel at God's graciousness as we prepare a home for our girls.



In my next post, I am going to be focusing more on Ethiopia and less on my "kid prep" saga. I don't want to overdo it on that. I just couldn't help but share my weekend of "good things". I really want this to be a bigger story that sets our journey against the larger backdrop of the need for orphan relief worldwide. I am also going to attempt in my next post to avoid overuse of the exclamation mark (we've talked about this before). I make myself crazy when I proof these because I just seem way too effusive. I will seriously try to keep those to a minimum next time! <- ha.ha.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

"Microwave Kiddos"






Well, I did it. I had my first "pre-mom" (this is my substitute word for an adoptive "pregnancy") M E L T D O W N last night. I feel like I am living inside of tornado trying to get everything in order for these little beauties. I can't help but think that what I am really dealing with here are "microwave kiddos" because they are ready so fast. In a pregnancy, I would have more than 3 months for appropriate "nesting insanity" because babies need 9 months in mama's oven to cook. Not so for adoptive moms - as I've said in previous posts this makes for lots of excitement but also a fair bit of exhaustion/confusion/exasperation.

It's just S O O O O much by way of "resource procurement". I have been spending every night after work staring bleary-eyed at the Target and Amazon websites (where we also now have registries) trying to answer questions like these:

1.) Which toddler plates are best (did you know toddler plates have suction cups on the bottom?) and don't have the dreaded BPA in them? I'm not completely sure what BPA is but Amazon reviewers say it's BAAAAD.

2.) Can I handle being uber-yuppie-I-live-in-heels-turned-mom-of-TWO-hanging-out-all-day-with-the-little-ladies and deal with cloth diapers? I'm just not sure I can handle adding to the newness of changing diapers AT ALL the newness of scooping poopie from the diapers into the toilet and then washing the poopie diapers in the same washing machine where I will wash my clothes, bed linens, etc. However, if I use disposable diapers the socially-conscious-activist part of me will feel very guilty and a bit lazy. What to do?!

3.) I could drone on here but the list is endless and I'm just making myself tired writing about it.

So the project continues. One thing that I have been trying to focus on this week is inviting God to be a part of even the littlest details of this process. I often forget that God really does care about every aspect of our lives and He longs to be gracious and show us compassion (Isaiah 30:18). So I'm praying about the little things - even about those disposable diapers!

There have also been some wonderful bright spots this week. It's amazing how God knows what we need when we need it. Early this week, I had a sweet woman at work (who I hardly even know!) bring me flowers to celebrate our referral. It was touching how this woman took the time to "see" me in my situation and show kindess. What a great lesson for those of us like me who are often in overdrive and need to slow down to take the time to notice the needs of those around us. A bit later in the week, one of my dear friends gave me a lead on darling store with great sales on kids' clothes. Check out Naartjie for some great fun and funky clothes for little ones. I stopped by yesterday and came home with a whole BAG of stuff for a very reasonable price. It was really fun picking out clothes and imagining the girls running around the park together in their stylish duds! The sweet little pink and green set above is for Baby E.

I continue to be amazed by just how much moms know. I thought that I was a fairly intelligent person prior to getting knee-deep in this process. What I have learned in very short order is that 1. I really know nothing and 2. my mom friends possess detailed and specific knowledge about things I have never even thought about! I'm still wondering how I can get a copy of the secret manual on must-know mom stuff that they must all have copies of stashed away. For now, I have been the humble and grateful recipient of a treasure chest of mom wisdom. I can only hope that I can give back to another frazzled novice mom like me someday.

Another surprise blessing this week was getting invited to a birthday party this weekend by a former student of mine who is from Ethiopia! His son is turning two and he invited us to join his family for Ethiopian food and the opportunity to meet other Ethiopians in our community. We are so excited! I also mentioned that we were having trouble learning Amharic and he offered to teach us. As I said, what a blessing.

The last point of great joy this week was seeing how adoption as a concept can spread. It reminds me of the runners that strawberry plants shoot out. I have had four different people express interest in adoption after hearing our story. That is a dream come true for an adoptive family. I think what it really takes is for people to actually see someone who is doing it so they know it is possible. We had both neighbors and friends that served as role models and inspirations to us of what an adoptive family could look like. What an honor to now play that role in the lives of others. The sad fact of adoption is that for every one child that gets a home and family, so many remain as orphans - often alone, sick and living in poverty. I feel it is our duty to commit ourselves not only to our own children but to helping the millions of children that will remain in Ethiopia. On that note, please check out these three great blog posts from a couple that is working with Children's Hopechest in Ethiopia. Tell anyone and everyone you know about these beautiful children that need homes.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Adventures in Baby Gear Land



I survived creating a basic registry for the girls yesterday. That allowed me to check off one thing (among many, many things) on the "Here Come The Girls Master Plan Checklist". We really only put the basics on this list as a lot of what we want/need isn't at Babies-R-Us. Thanks to my sweet friend Sheryl who helped me take on this major project. She has a set of twins that are the age of our youngest and an older child the age of our oldest. She was a perfect guide for this adventure. An experienced mom is an invaluable resource when your "soon-to-be-adoptive-mom-I-know-nothing-about-kids-gear" head is spinning trying to decide which of the six million sippy cup options will be best for your child (the sippy cup aisle was by far the most difficult!). It was also interesting to see how much gear is related to the first year of life. Babies take a lot of gear!!! I was happy that we were able to bypass entire aisles because of the ages of our girls. There is something to be said about having one of your children coming to you potty trained. Sounds good to me! That (along with other general benefits like no stretch marks) is adoptive mom perk for some of us adopting older kiddos. The whole process was actually quite fun. I had to laugh though when I walked up to the counter (where lots of very preggo moms were sitting with their respective men) and asked if I could start a registry. The lady behind the counter looked at me, paused and then gave me the paperwork and a zapper (what are those called?). I kept wondering what she was thinking. It didn't seem like adoption crossed her mind. Was she thinking (since I don't look pregnant at all) that I was just getting a REALLY early start on the whole process? Was she wondering about my lifestyle choices given that I was there with another woman who was also not pregnant? I laughed inside at that one.

I also didn't leave yesterday empty-handed. I picked up some sweet matching PJ's for the little ladies. One set has electric guitars on them. They were from the boy section but way too cute to pass up for our little rockstars (Sheryl agreed on this). I also scored two very cool Cabbage Patch dolls that might be fun to take with us when we pick the girls up. On the box, there is an "adoption agreement" about caring for you doll (remember that from when we had CP dolls in the 80's?). I know the girls won't be able to read that now but it was still a fun connection. Last night I finished off my adventures in Baby Gear Land by spending several hours on the Internet researching the rest of "the biggies" (strollers, car seats, slings, high chairs, etc.). As I did this, I crossreferenced several killer "must have" lists put together for me by other experienced mamas (thanks to Leah, Laura, Jenna and Stephanie for these goldmines). When all was said and done, I had my final "biggie" list all ready to go. It was 12:30 by the time we got to bed but the day had been productive indeed. As the superheroes always say, all in a day's work!

IF YOU HAVEN'T RESPONDED TO MY LAST POST ABOUT ADOPTION DISCRIMINATION, would you please please do that for me? I'd love to hear your advice and stories as I put together my battle plan.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Full Steam Ahead and Going To War


This has been such a full week! It's hard to believe it's only been a little over a week since we found out about the girls. We are now in "full steam ahead" mode over here. We have officially accepted the referral of our girls, sent in our last check to Gladney (ouch!) and now just have to wait for the court date. We are hopeful that we will hear soon about a court date. Having the girls home in 2008 would be so wonderful.

This week has been one of many surprise blessings. Our pediatrician, who also does aid work in Africa, said that the girls' health records were amazing. He described them as "children that are thriving" - what a blessing! Also, several dear friends and family are blazing forward with putting together last minute baby showers for us. We are humbled by the kindess and generosity of our community toward our daughters on the other side of the world. I am struck by how being an adoptive parent has some fun perks. It's like being in this cool new club (thanks to all of you sweet bloggers that have welcomed us to this club!). There is also a fun energy to all the hustle and bustle of everyone trying to get everything ready so fast.

I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed by how much has to get done - and soon. I'm hoping to register this week for things for our baby shower. That will probably involve a trip to one of my least favorite store on the planet - Babies-R-Us. I've gotten a headache every time I've tried to buy a baby gift there - way too much gear, way too disorganized, generally speaking - way too confusing. Luckily, a mom friend has offered to go along for moral and technical support! I really have no idea what we'll need. The friends with kiddos the age of ours have been really great about offering tips on kid necessities. That is helping to provide a bit of an anchor in this mad dash.

On the work front, I have been gearing up to go to WAR. Why you might ask? Because I found out this week from the HR department that adoptive mothers at my place of employment DO NOT qualify for the same paid leave benefits for maternity that birthmothers do. Even though I have months of paid leave accrued, I cannot use this time as paid time off because my children are not biological. I am outraged - to say the least - and I am preparing for battle on this one. It's really the principle of the whole thing that I find so offensive. Even if I don't win on this one, I have to try. It appears I may be the first adoptive parent they have had to deal with at my organization. For the sake of those who will follow, I have to fight this.

Thankfully though, as always, God provides. When I shared with my boss what had happened, she too was outraged, as were several of my colleagues. My boss made the decision to allow me to work from home for the next nine months in order to give me time, and paid time at that, with the girls. As a mother herself, she said that the girls would really benefit from me having lots of flexibility and freedom. She also said that she would rather me work from home with paid leave than have me take unpaid leave (which I didn't want to do!) and leave a big hole for my department. I was floored! What she offered was better than I could have imagined and in the end works better for all concerned. What a blessing! It reminded me of a verse that has been on my heart this week from Isaiah. "The Lord longs to be gracious to you; He rises to show you compassion" (Is.30:18). I have certainly sensed his compassion and grace this week.

I am still going to WAR on this issue though. They have messed with the wrong adoptive mama. If you (or any other adoptive moms you know) have had experience with this type of blatant workplace discrimination, would you please email me or post a reply here? I'd love to get a sense for what the national state of things is on this issue.


One last thing this week: Please check out this great news story from Good Morning Texas.It features
Belay Tafesse , the Ethiopia Program Director for the Gladney Center for Adoption (our agency). He gives some great information on the current state of the orphan crisis in Ethiopia. The piece also includes a short interview with a little girl who was adopted from Ethiopia. She's now in third grade and is as charming as can be. I am already thinking about how many more kids my house can hold! Baby steps though. Baby steps.

Monday, October 6, 2008

OMG! This Is Really Happening.

Oh My Goodness. We are realizing that our little girls will be here very soon. We have SO MUCH to do before they get here, especially with the holiday season right around the corner! Thanks to those of you who have been replying to our last post with your wise and creative parenting and adoption advice. So far I have learned that our girls should share a room, that we need a Joovy stroller and a baby sling, and that we should have family movie nights on Fridays. Cool! Please keep it coming. We are so appreciative!

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Special Call - Davis' Video Project!

video

Amazing Davis did it again. Any time I ask for something, he always "overdelivers"! He said that he felt like he needed to contribute something to our "documentation efforts" (to use his words), so he made this awesome video of our special morning getting "THE CALL". Enjoy!

To help us prepare for our little ladies, please comment with any helpful hints you have for any great "must have" kid products or any special ideas for creating family memories. We'd love to steal some of your great ideas. We'll need all the help we can get!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

WE HAVE TWO GIRLS - PART III


We are still recovering from the emotional craziness of yesterday. I didn't sleep at all last night and I am a good sleeper. There was just so much to think about!!! Here's a fun pic of "Referral Day". Not my best shot (this is early AM!)but a fun piece of family history for the books! Video to follow...

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

WE HAVE TWO GIRLS - PART II



Ok, so today has been a total blur. As you saw in my last post, we got a call from Jessica at Gladney at about 7:30am our time. We wondered who could be calling us so early in the morning! I was in my PJ's grading papers on the couch (trying to get caught up) when Davis answered the phone. When he said, "Well, hello, Jessica...", I knew something good was about to happen. We spent about an hour on the phone with Jessica going over every detail of our completed referral. It was a very surreal experience - opening an email and having your life change in an instant because you are looking at your kids to whom you will now be joined forever. I couldn't help but wonder if that is what an arranged marriage feels like - to see a picture and know that you will choose to love that individual and commit your life to that person. In our case, we were thrilled to see our two little ladies and learn that are very healthy (we were amazed at how healthy they are!). One of them did have a runny nose. Heaven forbid! If that's the worst case, I think we can handle that! From what we can tell, they are also very spunky. They should fit right in in this house!

The first emotion we both experienced was surprise. When I opened the email, the first thing I said was "Oh! It's two girls!" All along we have been expecting a boy and girl but we had indicated we would consider two girls as well. It appears that God had two girls in mind! All along we have been praying that God would pick the exact kids for us in His perfect timing. It appears he has done just that. Davis is excited and still processing the fact that he is going to be outnumbered in this house! I have no doubt that he will be a great girl dad. I fear, however, that the poor man is going to have to install a few more sparkly chandeliers and ruffle-related items around here (as if this house has a shortage of those!). He'll need a "man-cation" after we get done prepping this pad for two little ladies. All I could think of this morning was "Oh goodness! Two girls...that's butterflies and tutus! Sounds good to me!" I had been praying that when we got our referral that we would know these were our kids. As we worked through the file and learned more about the family situation under which these children were put up for adoption, it was very evident that these are the kids God wants us to embrace and provide a home for. There is a great deal of peace in that.

So after crying on the phone with Jessica and calling the grandparents, we had to rush off to work. We were both very late at that point with heads in the clouds thinking about that fact that our hypothetical kids are now REAL. We have two daughters - ages 10 months and 2 1/2 years - and they are coming home soon! A verse that has been so meaningful to me during this long waiting season has been Hebrews 6:15, "After waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised." I've had this on a chalkboard in our kitchen for weeks. Today, I put the girls picture next to the verse and took a picture. God is good.

On an emotional level, this day has been a TOTAl blur. We have both cried talking to so many different people today. I feel like I have been talking and typing all day. It's almost like I will remember this day more in images, like scenes from a movie, rather than as a unified whole. I will remember driving the 30 minutes to work and trying to cram in as many phone calls as I could to friends near and far. One friend even answered her phone from Mexico (not cheap!) because she knew why I had to be calling. Getting sweet emails at work from coworkers, including a guy friend who told me Davis can come over and work on cars with him and his son if he ever feels the need to escape our little kingdom of girls! One coworker even posted a message in the staff room about "Sarah's Daughters". That felt so weird! I will then remember driving home and listening to SOOOO many voicemail messages from friends I had left messages for that morning. My mailbox actually got filled up and started rejecting messages so people started calling our house instead. Most of the messages began something like "Oh my gosh!..." Many of them congratulated us for having been matched with girls because as one best friend of mine said, "Girls rock!" I was greeted at home by neighbors in the street who wanted to look at pictures and talk about what hand-me-downs they already had for our little lovelies. One neighbor family (they have five adopted kids that are now grown) gave us the most darling first gift for our girls - matching purple plaid dresses to wear to church in winter. SO CUTE and so thoughtful. Our parents are thrilled. Great-Grandma is thrilled. A cousin across the country wants to collect clothes to send to the other kids in the orphanage. Just about every girlfriend I have wants to be called "Auntie"! We have spent hours sending and receiving emails tonight and our Facebook pages (we love Facebook!) are bubbling! This has just been an all around great day.

There aren't that many events life that are truly celebratory and to feel the love, support and genuine enthusiasm that we have felt from people today has been such a special experience and one that I will never forget. Our daughters are blessed indeed. They are coming home to a group of people who are ready to embrace these little ones from the other side of the world (and probably spoil them rotten if Mommy and Daddy aren't careful!) because they are God's kids and that makes us all family. Yes, this has been a very good day.

Check back tomorrow for our video of today's referral adventure! Must sleep now. Mommy is wiped out. Please forgive the rampant overuse of the exclamation mark in this post. I gave up trying to rework these sentences. How often do you have a day like today?! (There I go again...)

TWO LITTLE GIRLS!!!!

We got THE CALL from Jessica this morning. Much to our surprise, we are going to be the proud parents of TWO LITTLE GIRLS. We are VERY late for work right now so more details will follow this evening. These are our little ladies and we can't wait for you to hear more about them. (I told you we hoped to hear something SOON!)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Work Clothes



Ok, so I did a fair bit of ranting in that last post. I just can't help it when I think of the needs of so many being unmet for lack of what seems to most of us to be just a few dollars. Hopefully I didn't sound too nutty! I am really excited about this post today. When I saw this sign out in front of a small church in our town, I couldn't wait to share it with you. Isn't this a great message? "Kindness is faith with work clothes on." I just love that. If we, the global church, are going to make a difference in the world - and be a "powerhouse" for change - we need to put our "work clothes" on - whatever that may mean for each of us. What is so encouraging to me is just to look at how much good is being done in the world by the quiet heroes who are putting their faith into action in so many unique and tangible ways. Every time I am wandering in the blogosphere, I come across another lead about a worthy organization that is doing something good. I want to highlight a few that I think are so cool.

First, there is a t-shirt company called Tiny Rock Star. Their mission is to end the phenomenon of orphans living in extreme poverty. For every shirt you buy, you can feed an orphan for a month. The designs are really hip and their vision is so close to our hearts. Here's one of their fun designs.


Another great group that we support is called Five Loaves and Two Small Fish. They support orphan and widow care, and church planting in Ethiopia. Check out this video to learn more about this important organization working in our children's homeland!
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I also got another great lead from Brandi, a fellow blogger whose son's name is Davis (how cool is that!). She has an organization called KidsLake that encourages kids to get involved in serving God through global outreach. Check out her fun blog. She has a link where you can donate to AHOPE, an organization that cares for HIV+ orphans in Ethiopia, and receive a free t-shirt. These shirts are cute too! I'm donating tonight so I can get one. The free t-shirt offer is only good until the end of September. Don't miss out!

Finally, there is the most darling woman named Tracy from Colorado who sells handmade jewelry through her company called JunkPosse on Etsy (if you haven't checked Etsy out yet, it's more addictive than eBay!). Her stuff is amazing and her work helps to support adoption. Look at this pendant!



What I love about every single one of these examples is that they are about people in "work clothes" using their unique gifts and abilities to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those in need. May we all put on our work clothes and do something beautiful for God. Thanks to those of you who replied to my last post just saying that you are reading our blog and following our story. That means a lot! We hope to have news for you soon!

Friday, September 26, 2008

A Whole Lot of Money



Does anyone else feel like our elected representatives are planning on spending a WHOLE LOT of our money? The apparent lack of fiscal responsibility that got us into this mess is driving me nuts. I am appalled by the greed and corruption that seems so rampant in so many segments of our society today. A few days ago CNN ran a piece on what $700 million dollars could buy. Numerous news outlets have done similar stories highlighting things like how many cups of coffee at Starbucks $700 million could buy, how many gallons of gasoline $700 million could buy, and so on. Here's what I want to see someone report on: How much $700 million could buy in Africa. Given that the malaria nets that are literally helping to save lives by preventing the disease cost as little as $3, $700 million could go a long long way. Given how many people continue to die because they simply cannot afford the $60 a month for the antiretroviral drugs to help their bodies combat HIV, $700 million could go a long way. My friend Joy has been ranting lately on Facebook about how something is wrong with the capitalist system in America today. She cited a recent article in Business Week that tells how the average CEO makes $12.8 million dollars a year. I know they work hard and sell their souls to the company store, but please! It's time to start saying enough is enough. This seems an appropriate place for what some would call "righteous indignation". I'm not sure what the political answer is but I do know that children are dying all over the world for lack of the most basic supplies (like clean water) while one more fat cat in the Hamptons is buying another yacht/jet/mansion. I'm sorry if that sounds too harsh but it just is not right. If you are thinking about some places to really invest your money during these trying times, consider an organization like AHOPE - A Hope for Children. For $10, they can feed a child with HIV in Ethiopia for a week. Or consider Shoes for Orphan Souls. I talked about them in a previous post. They provide shoes for the millions of little feet worldwide that don't even have footwear. Or how about Chidren's Hope Chest, a ministry that seeks to bring hope to orphans worldwide. Currently, they are working on helping to rescue orphan girls in Russia from the sex trade. When financial turmoil is so prevalent, it is good to be reminded about investing in things that will truly last.

On the adoption front for us, another week went by with no news. I am so tempted to call our agency again to try and see if they have ANY information for us but Davis says that would be unfruitful and annoying to all concerned. He is probably right (as usual). I got a few more great nuggets of wisdom from the Streams book I keep talking about. One entry this week talked about the "ministry of waiting" and how sometimes God is calling us to stillness and not action for a season. That seems to be where we are (and continue to be) for now. Thankfully, "we live by faith, not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7). During this quiet season, we would love to make some new blogger friends so if you read our blog, please please please leave us a message. We'd love to know who you are!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Scary Stuff

Today I took dinner to a dear friend who just had a baby two weeks ago. When I asked her how things were going my very together and usually very balanced friend began to cry as she talked about how all she did was feed the baby...all the time. She said she never expected having a baby to take away so much of her freedom. This was not the first time that I had heard a new mom share this frustration. However, to hear it from such a close friend as I held her very cute but very squirmy little girl in my arms made the situation far more real to me. This has gotten me thinking about things that help to make my life sane. Here they are (in no particular order):

1. Getting enough sleep
2. Exercising daily
3. Having a tidy home (this includes vacuuming up dog hair on a regular basis!)
4. Having my schedule under control so that things get done (checking items off my list is particularly gratifying to me)
5. Having some quiet time to wind down before heading off to bed

I'm sure that some of the moms out there are probably rolling on the floor laughing by now at my "tightly run ship" but I am serious. I am also serious in saying that I am realizing that everything that makes my life sane is going to be seriously threatened by these little ones. I find that a bit terrifying. I know God will provide the strength I need but the idea of trying to pull all this off knowing how HARD being a mom can be is sobering. I can't help but think about how Sarah Palin's nomination has brought the whole issue of being a working mom into the spotlight. I'm not sure if Palin is a role model or a myth. Maybe the idea of her is a bit of both. She is, it would seem, the "supermom" many of us hope we can be. I would like to think that I will be able to care for my children, manage my career, stay fit, be involved in my community, have a hot husband (this is already taken care of!), etc. etc. etc. Frankly though, I'm just not sure if that is even possible as a working mom. I guess I'll give it a go and let you know how it goes. I just can't help but think of how exhausted that woman must be - all the time. I wonder what her list of "sane things" looks like. Does she vacuum up dog hair?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Hypothetical Kids and Another Old Picture




Here's another fun old pic I should have posted way back when but those were pre-blog days! This pic was taken at 6am on the morning I drove our completed dossier to Los Angeles to get our final state level authentication. Little did I know that I would end up driving ELEVEN hours that day and to three different counties in order to get all of our docs authenticated at the county level BEFORE the state could authenticate them. (Note: Make sure you double check your state's policies on document authentication! oops.) This day kicked my butt. It certainly felt like "labor" - perhaps of the adoptive kind. I was not nearly this perky when I got home at 5pm!

It's hard to believe that this was taken almost 6 months ago. We know those kids are on the way. It's just so hard when they have been nothing more than "hypothetical kids" for such a long time. We are really just waiting on a dream right now. It's very intangible. That part of this whole process is pretty strange. I am thankful for the many people God has put in our lives that have helped to make these kids more "real" to us during this season - my mom who calls me all the time to tell me about the latest preschool age books she nabbed from her school library's free table (including ones in Spanish!), my friend Jenna who called me to tell me how often she thinks of us with our kids and how she has a picture in her mind of us surrounded by kids passing out hard candy at the orphanage (she even wanted to buy the candy for us to take on the trip!), my friend Kim who leaves me messages on my phone telling me how she is so excited about the kids that she thinks about them all the time, my mother-in-law who wanted to start making the kids' bedding three months ago, my friend Marla who wanted to spend the first day of her vacation with us shopping for kids' clothes, and the list goes on. Perhaps God sends others to help carry our hopes when we feel like we no longer can. Perhaps it is through others' willingness to involve themselves in our dreams that we are able to keep our hopes alive. As we continue to wait (and read blogs about other families from our agency who have already received their referrals), we are blessed to have dreamers along with us on the journey that help keep our "hypothetical kids" present in our hearts. Here is a special poem that I was touched by this week. This too came from the Streams in the Desert book:

If we could push ajar the gates of life,
And stand within, and all God's working see,
We might interpret all this doubt and strife,
And for each mystery could find a key.

But not today. Then be content, dear heart;
God's plans, like lilies pure and white, unfold.
We must not tear the close-shut leaves apart-
Time will someday reveal the blooms of gold.

And if, through patient toil, we reach the land
Where tired feet , with sandals loosed, may rest,
When we shall clearly know and understand,
I think that we will say, "God knew best."

Monday, September 15, 2008

Liya Kebede Launches Lem Lem



This weekend I was doing some serious academic reading (my mom's People magazine!) and discovered a cool story about a clothing line launched by Ethiopian model and philanthropist Liya Kebede called LemLem which means "to bloom" or "to flourish" in Amharic. Kebede recognized that she could use her experiences and connections to empower Ethiopian workers to use their skills to create high end children's clothing to be sold in Western markets. She believes that in order to help heal her homeland, avenues for industry in the global economy must be provided for the people of Ethiopia. She is also committed to having her line produced IN Ethiopia. Given the cost of international adoption, I'm not sure we will be bringing home too many of these luxury clothes for our Ethiopian kiddos! However, they are very cute (as is her darling daughter!) and the story of Kebede and her mission to do what she can to help bring economic development to her home country of Ethiopia is inspiring. To learn more about Liya Kebede, check out the recent Time magazine article and the interesting video below. Visit the LemLem website for more info on this fun and "distinctly African" clothing line.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Gift From a Friend and A First Toy



A friend of mine sent me a surprise gift in the mail after I had the "downer day" last week. It is a book called Streams in the Desert by L.B. Cowman. It's a great book for anyone who is dealing with struggles in life (aren't we all?). I was moved by what I read recently in one of the entries. The text was based on a verse from Hebrews (6:15) that reads, "After waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised." Ironically, the author talks about how Abraham was tested by many things including his wife Sarah's "worrisome temperament". The author writes, "Abraham submitted to God's divine sovereignty and infinite wisdom. And he was silent through many delays, willing to wait for the Lord's timing. Having patiently endured, he then obtained the fulfillment of the promise." The parallels to our situation (and the situation of so many adoptive families on waiting lists) is striking. If we can just perservere (resisting the temptation to give into hastiness and the desire to complain) and allow God to work, our blessing is assured in the end. That is hopeful indeed.

On that happy note, here's another old picture just for fun (you can tell it's old because my hair is a different color!). I'm posting some of these now because we didn't have the blog started at the beginning of our process and we don't have pics of much else right now! This was taken one night after we had sent in our completed paperwork to Gladney. We stopped by Toys-R-Us on a date night just because it was becoming real that we were going to be parents someday. Here's the first toy I bought for my daughter (much to chagrin of my feminist leanings...I said I would never surrender to the Barbie franchise!). It was just too fun to pass up. An Ethiopian princess for my Ethiopian princess! Davis found the dinosaurs a bit more entertaining than the Barbies.



Sunday, September 7, 2008

Cut The Whining!

"I waited patiently for the Lord;
And He inclined to me and heard my cry."

Psalm 40:1

"Let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You.
Let such as love your salvation say continually
'The Lord be magnified.'
But I am poor and needy
yet the Lord thinks upon me.
You are my help and my deliverer.
Do not delay, O my God."

Psalm 40:16-17


"Why are you downcast, oh my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God for I shall yet praise Him
the help of my countenance and my God."

Psalm 42:11

This weekend I was thinking to myself how much my life related to the Psalmist's words in Psalm 40. In my frustration over our adoption delays, I felt very connected to the cry of the Psalmist who expressed anguish at God's seeming lack of involvement in his trials. When I went back and reread Psalm 40, I was convicted by how selective I had been in my recollection of that famous text. I couldn't help but feel like I have been being a pouty little whiner. The author does express his apparent need for God's intervention, but his words are also hopeful in their faith in God to deliver and prevail in any circumstance. I was reminded - again - that God is working. He is ordering our steps. We just need to put one foot in front of the other each day and wait for Him to move. And perhaps cut the whining.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Something I Should Not Have Purchased...



My sister-in-law Stephanie commented on my last post that it sounded like "retail therapy" was helping me get through this tough time. She may be right - at least on some levels. I thought I'd share one more "retail-related" pic of something I should NOT have purchased. Our adoption agency has advised us not to have baby showers, purchase items for your child, etc. until you actually bring the child home. The thinking is that this helps to protect you from disappointment if things change or don't go as planned. That's all well and good but when the wait goes on AND on AND on AND on, you just have to do something - anything! So, you shop a little. We were out one night and ran across these shirts in the window of a shop in downtown Ventura. It's the cutest little African-inspired "Mommy and Me" duo. Even Davis agreed that we couldn't pass this up. The little girl's shirt was shown with bright yellow pants! I hope to find a slightly cheaper version of those litle yellow pants at some point to go with this. If our little girl ends up being 4, this should fit perfectly. If she's a little younger, she can grow into it or wear it as a dress! We really should not have bought this if we were trying to be sensible (as we are WAY too often) but there has to be SOME fun in this process somewhere, right?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A Downer Day and Doing Something Fun...



Well, we are now at FIVE MONTHS of waiting. We are trying to keep focused on God's plan and His timing in the whole equation but it is hard not to keep asking "How long, Lord?". (I'm finding myself a big fan of U2 right now). Yesterday was a DOWNER DAY. We had yet another conversation with our agency and were told that they have no news for us at this time. The feelings run the gamet: frustration, exasperation, exhaustion, confusion. I just feel "flattened" by the whole thing. It makes me want to give up. Maybe that's just one of my character flaws that God is working on. I noticed this last night when we went to a hip new restaurant that just opened in our town. (It should be noted here that we didn't really fit in because we really aren't that hip!). We had to wait in a long line to get access to the rooftop bar. Midway through waiting in line, I told Davis that the wait (especialy in heels) just wasn't worth it to me. If things involve long waits (ex. Disneyland - really any amusement park!, hip new restaurant, parking at the mall at Christmas), I often find myself incredibly disinterested. There is always another restaurant where the food will be decent enough and I can sit my butt down right away. I was struck by the swanky-bar/adoption parallel as I was heading to bed last night. Bottom line right now? Don't ask us if we know anything about our adoption. That appears to be the question no one will answer right now.

In order not to be a total downer, I thought it might be fun to share a pic of something recently that I did relevant to the adoption. There is very little we CAN do, but this was one thing. Based on advice I got on another adoptive family's blog, I shopped the end of season summer sales for stuff to collect to take with us to the orphanages in Ethiopia. We are required to bring several suitcases of humanitarian aid to meet the many needs of the orphans in orphanages in the country. My dear friend Marla, who came for a visit this summer, and I spent two days hitting up all the discount shops in town (Old Navy has BY FAR the best deals!). We came home with several BAGS full of little clothes and shoes for under $100. Pretty cool! I also picked up a shirt for our daughter that says something about her daddy being hot! Here's a fun pic of Marla and our bags of loot from that adventure.