Click here to read our adoption story from the beginning.

4 Years

This big envelope came in the mail this weekend. It's our new home study for the new agency we are using. That along with this giant binder of adoption paperwork represents 4 years of obedience. This week is the 4 year anniversary of sending our adoption application in the mail. I am so ready to trade caring about these papers for caring for a little person. I'm begging God to move soon. Pray for our family's adoption from Ethiopia. We trust You Lord and Your plan, but isn't 4 years long enough?

He Restores My Soul - Adoption Update

We have some disappointing news about our adoption.  Monday we got a call from the case worker at our new agency.  She called to let us know that because of the breakdown in communication in rural Ethiopia, something unexpected had happened.  Because little "A" that we had been working towards adopting the past 3 months was on the waiting child list for so long, the orphanage directors had reached out to other adoption agencies to advocate for him.  One of those agencies found a family wanting to adopt "A."  This family already had their dossier complete and updated, and they had all their agency fees paid and were able to sign an official referral with their agency.  It had already been two weeks before our agency knew this had happened.  Our agency told the orphanage that we were working hard to adopt "A" and very, very close to having our dossier (fancy word for official adoption paperwork) updated, but the orphanage made a judgment call.  The orphanage decided to allow this other family to proceed with adopting "A."

This isn't something that happens often in Ethiopian adoptions.  These were unusual circumstances, but after visiting orphanages the last three summers, I could see how this communication breakdown could easily happen.

We were very disappointed to hear this news Monday, and it has been a rough week dealing with all the feelings that bubbled up after hearing this news about our adoption.

We know we cannot give up, and we are not supposed to quit trying to adopt from Ethiopia.

Our friends and family have been so generous helping us raise money to pay the adoption fees to adopt "A."  We were so very close to having all of our agency fees paid.  We have raised $20,600 since the last week of December!  We were only short $7,000.  That is amazing!

Our home study should be finalized any day now, and our dossier only lacks our final home study copy and about 5 other documents.

Being so close to having everything we needed to adopt "A" made it really hard to accept that we were not going to be able to adopt him.

We are honestly happy that "A" will have a forever family.  He will have a home.  That is what we wanted for him all along.  We are just disappointed that home won't be our home.

All of the money we raised and work we have done updating our home study and dossier can be used to adopt a different child through our new agency.  Our agency has given us a time line that we can expect to be matched with a new child in the next 6 months.

We are going to continue to gather the last of the paperwork needed to complete our dossier, and we will continue waiting for the child God has to place in our home.

It has been hard finding our confidence that the Lord has a plan when we felt so sure that "A" was the boy God had chosen to add to our family.  But God has been slowly speaking into our hurting hearts this week.

On Monday, when I got the heartbreaking call from our agency, I was sitting in the Michael's parking lot about to buy paint.  The plan had been to make as many wood signs as possible this month to sell at a craft show this weekend.  I had just started a new sign.  I picked a Bible verse completely randomly.  I was looking for a Bible verse that was universally loved.  I didn't even think about what the verse or sign said on Monday when I started making it, hoping to make several to sell at the craft show.

On Tuesday, when all I wanted to do was watch mindless television and eat Captain Crunch, I realized that God had given me this verse that I would need before I even knew I needed it.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.

He restores my soul.

He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
— Psalm 23:1-4 ESV

God is restoring our soul.  God is planting dreams in our hearts and reassuring our family that He is leading us.  He has a plan.

Fundraising Update

Our paint party fundraiser went well (thank you Amber at Creativity Junction! & Maribel at Buffalo's Cafe) & so did our home study visit.  

There is still an opportunity to have your donation to our adoption matched.

We have been approved for a $1,000 matching grant through Lifesong for Orphans! You can use this link to make a tax-deductible contribution to our adoption. The first $1,000 given will be matched, and $450 has still not been given toward that matching.  So the next $450 given through their webpage will be matched.

We need to raise $8,014 more to pay all of our adoption agency fees for "A"'s referral. The rest of our goal covers our estimated travel costs.

I started gathering dossier documents to send to Ethiopia this week.  There are 24 documents we need to gather, everything from new copies of our birth certificate to a letter from our bank.  I worked on gathering as many as I could this week.  I still lack 8 documents.  Pray for us as we complete these tasks.  Every single document needs to be mistake free and notarized.  I need prayer for endurance and a good attitude!

We are having another garage sale tomorrow, and I am making wooden signs to sell at a booth at Whistle Stop Trade Days in Clarendon on March 3rd & 4th.  

We are getting so close to being in the "waiting for a court date" stage!

Fundraising update & Matching Grant Link

Yay! Yay! Yay!  We are almost to $20,000!

I mentioned in the last post that we had received a matching grant.  Here's the low down.

We have been approved for a $1,000 matching grant through Lifesong for Orphans! You can use this link to make a tax-deductible contribution to our adoption. The first $1,000 given will be matched! We need to raise $8,380 more to pay all of our adoption agency fees for "A"'s referral. The rest of our goal covers our estimated travel costs.

We have our home study visit this weekend and our paint party fundraiser tonight.  Please pray for our family as we continue to fundraise and finish paperwork. And pray for "A" in Ethiopia!

Fundraising update & Matching Grant Opportunity

We had our BBQ fundraiser this week.  It was a big success!  Our totals are now at $17,925 with $9,950 to go!

We have our paint party fundraiser coming up next Thursday, and we are planning to do one more day of garage sale that weekend.

The most exciting news is that we've been approved for a $1,000 matching grant from Lifesong for the Orphan through Paramount Baptist's fund.  Look for links on how you can contribute to that matching grant this week.

Pray for our family as we work to get our paperwork updates completed these next few weeks so that our paperwork will be done as our fundraising is wrapped up.  Thank you for your prayers!

BIG Fundraising Update

We are at $17,473, and I'm calling that 2/3rds funded!  (Please don't burst my bubble and tell me that it isn't all the way to the 2/3 mark.  I can do math.  It's called rounding!)

We had a successful garage sale this weekend.  We are gearing up for a bbq fundraiser this weekend.

The first week of February we are having a paint party fundraiser.  I'm really looking forward to that one.  It sounds like fun!

That weekend we will probably have one last Saturday garage sale.  We still have so much stuff!  Friends were SO generous in donating items for us to sell, after three days of garage sales, I still feel like we haven't made a dent in it!

On top of all this good news, I got a very positive phone call from one of the adoption grants we applied for.  The woman calling was so sweet and encouraging that I actually started bawling.  God is so faithful!  We should know something about that grant in two weeks.

Our family is incredablly thankful for all of our friends and family who have helped out during this process.  We can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.  We are thankful for every gift - big or small, every act of kindness, every prayer, every auction bid or jewelry purchased, every bit of everything that is beginning to add up to being able to have "A" in our home and in our family.  God bless all of you!  Thank you!

 

Fundraising Update

Our garage sale was a success.  We were able to raise $870 for our adoption making our current fundraising total $10,708!  (Only $17,167 to go!)

We had tons of great garage sale items left, so we have decided to have it again on Saturday, weather permitting.

I'm also planning a paint party with Creativity Junction.  We will earn 1/2 of all money paid for the paint party for our adoption.  I think that's extremely generous.  The party will be on Thursday, February 9th at 6pm, Buffalo Cafe in Canyon, TX.

As we continue to fundraise, I will be excited to see the 1/2 way mark!  Only a few thousand dollars till that happens!

Thank you to everyone who donated all the wonderful stuff to our garage sale.

 

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Fundraising Update

We are past $9,000!  Specifically $9,086!  Only $18,789 to go.

Right now we are working on having a big garage sale at our church's warehouse (so we can be out of the cold.)  We've asked friends to donate stuff they are getting rid of to our sale, and we've started a pretty good pile of stuff.

I'm also listing things for sale on eBay and making crafts to sell.

We still have a few donations from our video trickling in.  I'm so grateful every single time I see one.  I'm honestly over-the-moon grateful when we get a donation from some stranger who doesn't even know our family.  It's humbling and exciting; it makes me so optimistic about the world.  Thank you to everyone who has contributed to our adoption!  We are just past the 1/3 mark!

Fundraising Update

Our bake sale plus gift wrapping fundraiser was a great success.  Praise, Jesus.  We raised $595!  That with a few donations-to-the-cause brings us to a total of $ $8,533.  Only $19,342 to go!

We are finally under the $20,000 mark, which mentally feels so much better.  The other morning I woke up with the sweats because I had this fear that I had done the math wrong and we had just gotten under $30,000 and we still had $29,000 to go.  Dear morning brain, please quit it.  Get behind me, Satan.  We are in the teens!

I am overwhelmed with gratitude for our friends, family, and even strangers who have given to our adoption.

As I write this, it is Christmas Eve, and I've written about the great joy we are celebrating today on the blog.  Give it a read.

Exciting News!

We have news about our adoption.  We have decided to pursue adopting a waiting child using a different adoption agency.  

Watch our video to hear our announcement.

INVITE 25

Copy this into your email, text, or social media messenger & send to 25 friends:

I know this family, and I gave $2.  Can you please give just $2 to make sure this child is placed into a loving home?  Then ask 25 friends to watch this video -->  http://bit.ly/2gukH6z

2 Years Waiting

Sunday was the 2nd anniversary of our DTE.  DTE stands for Dossier To Ethiopia, and it is the date that all our adoption paperwork was officially sent to Ethiopia.  We have been in line, waiting to be matched with a child for two years now.  That a long time.  It was hard not to feel discouraged Sunday.  Our family celebrated our DTE date last year with a fun day of sledding, fro-yo, and a movie.  This year we just did dinner out and fro-yo.  It’s hard to be happy about waiting, but I was glad we gave it our best shot.

Something that occurred to me when I was thinking about how long two years is out of our life.  I’ve been obsessing over the founding father Alexander Hamilton since the moment I first listed to the broadway musical soundtrack of Hamilton.  I bought myself his biography by Ron Chernow, and now I know way too much about his life.  In my defense, it is endlessly fascinating.

In history class we learn these events: Boston tea party, Declaration of Independence, Revolutionary War, Constitutional Convention, Federalist Papers, ratifying and adopting the Constitution.  They all run together in the timeline in my mind.  I picture one leading to the next over a short period of time, but I’m wrong.  As I was reading about Hamilton, I was struck by the lengths of times each of these feats in our country’s history took.  The revolutionary war forged on for 8 years.  Can you believe it lasted almost a decade?  If I knew that in 8th grade, I’ve forgotten.  It took 1 1/2 years to convince congress to adopt the constitution that was written 11 years after independence was declared.

Good things take time.  We live in such an immediate world.  Instant streaming, periscoping, live-tweeting, fast food, and Amazon prime are all part of our daily speak.  My two years of waiting, even if I end up waiting two more years, will all be worth it.  It will be good.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
— James 1:17 ESV

Here's a sample of Hamilton.  This track is aptly titled "Wait for It."  It's actually my favorite song from the musical.  It is sung from the point of view of Aaron Burr, the vice president who kills Alexander Hamilton in a duel.  Fun fact:  when he says "My grandfather was a fire and brimstone preacher," he means Jonathan Edwards.  Yes, the preacher critical in The Great Awakening was Aaron Burr's grandfather.  Whoa!  Clearly I'm down the rabbit hole.  Send help.

Gripping Hope During our Home Study Update

Home studies expire.  So do FBI fingerprints.

 

We are knee deep in updating our home study.  I just went to the doctor today & got a TB test (since I've been out of the country since our last home study.)

 

Friday James, Lucy, and I will be getting our state fingerprinting done.  Next week I'll take the 3 kids for their doctor visits.  And the next week our social worker will come for her visit.

 

Even the cat is in on the home study update action.  Bubbles is headed to the vet for his shots this week.

 

I remember how extremely nervous I was when we did our home study the first time.  I was so crazy nervous that I cleaned behind my washing machine.

 

I'm not near as nervous this time.  Or as excited.

 

Our wait time keeps increasing.  It's hard to get excited knowing I probably will have to update our home study again before we get a referral (or matched) with a little boy.

 

Pray for us during this time of waiting.  Here's what the Lord encouraged me with today.  I'm going to grip hope.

 

Tonight is the In His Hands Orphans Outreach meeting.  I am leading the meeting in a study from a Created to Connect lesson plan by Karyn Purvis.

 

The lesson had a verse from Lamentations.  Normally I don't read and study the book of Lamentations because, well the name says it all.  Expressing grief isn't a favorite topic for most people.  But this verse is encouraging.

I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,

the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed.

I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—

the feeling of hitting the bottom.

But there’s one other thing I remember,

and remembering, I KEEP A GRIP ON HOPE:

God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,

his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.

They’re created new every morning.

How great your faithfulness!

I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).

He’s all I’ve got left.

It’s a good thing to quietly hope,

quietly hope for help from God.
— — Lamentations 3:19-24, 26 (The Message, emphasis added)


How good is that.  As I wait for my child, I'm going to keep a grip on hope.  Thank you Lord for the encouragement from Your Word!

Why I can't imagine not going back

Last week my friend and mission trip leader for the August 2015 ACT trip Shelly Wilson posted a blog titled "Why I'm Going Back."  She explained all the reasons why she felt that God wanted her to go on another mission trip to Ethiopia this summer, even though she, her husband, and her daughter had gone to Ethiopia last summer.

It was great blog post, and you should totally read it.

This weekend I filled out my application to be on her mission team in August.  One of the questions was "Describe why you want to visit the orphans?" and I answered, "I can't imagine not going back."

There are two reason I feel going back isn't even an option for me.  One is that my future son is only a drop in the bucket of the orphan crisis.

I've heard this phrase a lot when I tell people that we are on the list to adopt from Ethiopia.

"You are going to change that kid's whole future."

It's true, and I get goosebumps thinking about what God (not I) am doing in our son's life.

But the fact is that their are millions of orphans in the world that will never get the chance to be adopted.  If you go with the most conservative number, 17.8 million children have lost both their mother and father.  The amount of children that have been adopted in the last decade through international adoption is around 178,000 adoptions.  If you make that into a ratio, it means that less than 1% of those orphans are adopted into a family.

More than 99% of the world's orphans will never be adopted.

Knowing that fact, I can't help but do all the big and little things God sets before me to care for orphans that will never be adopted.

Honestly, I saw needs in the orphanages that were not being met.  I will continue to try to help meet those needs until I hear an audible voice of God telling me to stop.

It is clear to me from God's word that continuing to try to meet the needs of those parentless children is what we as Christians are suppose to be doing.



The second reason I can't imagine not going back is the book of Acts.  If you haven't got out your Bible and read through Acts lately, do it.  Do it, and ask yourself it the early church reminds you of your body of believers.  Most likely you will see some things you and your church are getting right, but you will also be convicted of some things your church is missing the mark on.

Specifically Acts 4:32-37 where it describes the early church sharing their earthy possessions until "there was not a needy person among them" has really opened some serious debate in my head and made my heart so sensitive to the needs of other believers.

On our trip we met the most beautiful, sweet, Christian family.  This family was only a mom and her son, Samuel.  They were both HIV+ and living in a 100 square feet home of corrugated metal and cardboard.  Knowing that this family and I were part of the same Bride of Christ broke my heart in a way that I cannot explain.  This woman was dealing with a serious illness, depression, raising a teenage son with a serious illness, and she was doing it all with less earthly possessions than my 4 year old.

I knew God was taking care of her, and I knew the hope of Jesus was more real to her than most Christians.  But now that I had meet this family, these believers in His church, I knew I was responsible to now live my life like I knew about them, no longer in ignorance of their existence.

Faces are covered out of respect for privacy.
If there is anything I can do to encourage my brothers and sisters in Christ in Ethiopia, I feel I have the responsibility to do it.  Visiting them is encouragement.  Praying for them is encouragement.  Giving is encouragement.  Our mission trip in August will allow me to do all three of these things.

Now that I've told you why I can't imagine not going back to Ethiopia again this August, think about if you can image going.  We have 6 people who have signed up for this trip, and I know God has a few more He is calling to go along with us.  Let me know if that might be you.



I hope I can be the kind of friend you call when the rice is running thin.

Melkam Genna!

Today is Christmas in Ethiopia! Somewhere in Ethiopia, our little guy is probably celebrating. 

There is an AWAA Act mission team in Ethiopia this week. They are throwing a Christmas party for the children in the transition home. I know that will be a fun time. 

Pray for the mission team. And pray for all the children celebrating Christmas in Ethiopian orphanages, that they would hear of the love of Jesus today!


Here is some information that our adoption agency sent us: "While the Gregorian calendar celebrates Christmas on the 25th of December, Ethiopia still retains the ancient Julian calendar in which Christmas falls on January 7th (of the Gregorian calendar.) It’s typically a hot summer day and people in towns and villages dress up in their finest to celebrate.  The Ethiopian Christmas is known as Ganna. To say Merry Christmas in Amharic, one can say “Melkam Ganna!” 

Food served at Christmas usually includes injera, a sourdough pancake like bread. Injera serves as both plate and fork. Doro wat, a spicy chicken stew might be the main meal. A piece of the injera is used to scoop up the wat. Baskets decorated beautifully are used to serve the wat.

Many Ethiopians in the common orthodox faith also attend a three hour church service—standing the entire time!"



Run Daren Run

Check out this website http://www.rundarenrun.com. Daren is running 100 marathons in 100 days to raise money for clean water in Ethiopian communities. I'm so impressed with his goals and ability to use his gifts to help others for the glory of God.

He will be running through my town of Amarillo February 8th and 9th.  I don't know about you, but I'm hoping to give him a high-five.















Water is such a basic need, and there is no reason these communities Ethiopia shouldn't have that need met.  Please consider donating to his cause!



One Year Waiting - Celebrating our DTE Day

Today was the anniversary of our paperwork being sent to Ethiopia.  It is one year since our DTE day or Dossier to Ethiopia day.

Instead of dwelling on the long wait we've had and the long wait that is probably ahead of us, we wanted to celebrate.  We are thankful for everything God has done in our family.  Today we had a family fun day full of sledding, fro-yo, movies, and Thai food.

Here's some pictures and videos of our fun day.

Please pray with us for our little boy.  We miss him even though we don't even know him yet.  Pray he is safe, fed, and being cared for as we wait to have him join our family.

Thank you,
James, Jennifer, Lucy, Andrew, and Gabe