Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My GREAT Birthday Present!

Today I got the best birthday present EVER!

We found out that we are Expecting a baby boy from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia!!!! We are soooo....excited. We just got our approval to start the process. What an adventure it's gonna' be!

We are adopting a baby boy around the age of 8 months and younger! In around 12 months we will have a new addition! WOW!

I will post all of my blogs that I've been saving during this process we've been going through. I'm so glad that I kept blogs about our feelings and our thoughts. They will be coming soon.

We were planning on adopting from Rwanda, but the agency said that there are some complications there with adopting and recommended Ethiopia. We knew Africa is where are heart has been for a long, which country we realized didn't really matter!

Please pray for us and this journey...we have a lot to get done in the next few months! And we will be preparing to make not just one trip but, 2 (new rules for Ethiopian adoptions). YIKES! I should have never looked at flights's gonna be some major traveling! And my heart already breaks to think I'll go hold my baby and then have to leave for 8 to 12 weeks before going back to bring him home. How will I ever do it??? God please give me strength!

Dear Ethiopia,
I am praying for you and our baby. I am praying for the mother who will soon carry this baby. To think we are praying for a baby who is not even conceived as of yet. God will have the perfect baby in mind for us I'm sure. Please take care of him...we already love him sooooo...much. He is in our hearts and my heart breaks for his mother and the decision that she must make to give him up. We will pray for your country, for the mother and for our baby. Please take care of him until we can bring him home.

Some photos of Ethiopian Orphans...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Are we pregnant, come on just call us already...

I hope that this week we find out if we are accepted to adopt. Then we can start what they call the "Pregnancy Paperwork". Instead of going through pregnancy and body changes, morning sickness, etc. We will be doing months of paperwork to prepare for our baby/babies.

We will also be able to do our home study. This will be several visits from a social worker and I believe some classes to attend on adoption. We are gonna be busy. From what I've read there are tons of papers and a lot of trips to get things notarized. I have nothing better to do anyway, right? HA! Actually summer is the perfect time for all of this to happen.

We have to just wait for the phone to ring or to receive an email. I hope it happens this week! I did pray and I told God that this would be a GREAT birthday present. I told Darren that on our weekend trip also...if they would just call by my Birthday...what a present!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

What is James telling us about the Orphans?

The call to Orphans:

I have been looking up scripture on orphans and caring for them. Wow! There are so many verses.

This morning this is what Darren & I pondered on:

Listening and Doing
19My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. 21Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

22Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.

26If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. 27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

The Message says it this way:

Act on What You Hear
19-21Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God's righteousness doesn't grow from human anger. So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.

22-24Don't fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don't act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.

25But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.

26-27Anyone who sets himself up as "religious" by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.

We know that it's so time we stop "playing religion"...we want to act! We want to act on what God has commanded. We want to reach out to the orphans that are homeless. We don't want to just spew hot air. We don't want to just let His word go in one ear and out the other. We want to act. We want real religion.

Commentary we read put it this way:

"Altogether this is a biblical view, not just James's own thinking. Scripture says that God is committed to caring for the powerless and defenseless, including the poor, the alien, the fatherless and the widow. Since the needs of such people are on God's heart, he expects that same heart to be in us. Further, Jesus himself so identified himself with needy, oppressed people that when we care for one of his people in need, we do it unto him. Any practice of Christianity that does not exhibit this concern in action is deceptive (it misrepresents the truth about God's own heart) and worthless (it is of no value before God). We have to conclude, then, that this first example of pure and faultless religion is a matter of serious obedience required of the church."

It's really that simple to why we are doing what we are doing...if we want to follow our's just a natural thing.

Enjoyed talking to a couple of single girls at breakfast...

This morning as we sat at breakfast two single girls, (in their 20's), sat down next to us. They started a conversation with us and it led into the normal, "What business are you here for" type of talk. Who knew it would become so deep of a 1/2 hour conversation.

One of the girls was here for her work and her friend had came with her. They are from the Washington D.C. area. Sarah said that she was here delivering bone marrow to a donor. Wow! We talked about what a rewarding job she has. She flies donor marrow all over. As Darren said, she is delivering life. A mission in her job.

Her job led into our adoption. It was just a great conversation of encouragement on both sides. We realized the importance that if everyone would go to and get the free kit to quick and easily swab our cheek and be put on the registry...many people would not die from leukemia or whatever other disease that could be cured from this one easy swab. Think if EVERYONE would swab their cheek and be on the registry there might not be a sweet little child dying today because they couldn't find a match. You might ask like we did, "What happens if I am a match?" Here's what we were told: They can ask you to go under general anesthesia and have marrow drawn from your might have a couple of weeks of discomfort afterwards (like a pulled muscle). Pretty simple it seems. Then they also can do like they do for taking blood platelets. You have to take 5 rounds of medicine to produce more marrow in your blood stream then they take it out like they would taking your blood or platelets. She said sometime you feel a bit "flu like" when taking the medicine...but, it's generally not a big deal. We are gonna get our kits.

What can we do to help others? So, many things.

They learned about the need in other countries...we learned about the need right here in our own country. I think we all walked away with some great information and things to chew on. But, more than just swallow and act.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

In Tampa...

4/23/10 - Darren & I snuck away to Tampa for a few days without the kids. They are excited to hang with their NaNa & PaPa. The last time we got away by ourselves was in 2003. Wow! Who knows...this might be our last time for a very long time if we get approved for this adoption journey.

Sitting by the pool today, while Darren was in his conference, I feel my heart could burst. These last few days I have been in on and off tears. As I listened to "Blessed be the Name" coming from the library on Thursday morning with books about adoption in tow...I could hardly see to drive. There was a huge rainstorm...not outside the windows but, pouring out of me. I have a feeling that many more tears will come during this incredible journey.

I was just thinking while sitting here...if my sweet baby had not been taken away from me last year, would I be at this place today? As the song says...He gives and takes away. God has an ultimate plan for sure. I am at such a peace with His plan.

As I read the book, "Ashes to Africa" i am totally moved. I long to hold my baby/babies. I long...

Yesterday on the plane, Darren started reading an adoption book, "Adopted for Life". After the 1st couple of pages he quickly put the book down...I questioned...he looked at me in tears...he said, "Read this paragraph, I haven't even got through the 1st chapter..." I thought, "Wow, look what this journey is already doing to us, what it's stirring in the depths of our hearts." So, I took the book and read the paragraph...this is what it said:

"For a couple of seconds, my mind flashed back to the first time I ever saw these two boys. They were lying in excrement and vomit, covered in heat blisters and flies, in an orphanage somewhere in a little mining community in Russia. Maria and I had applied to adopt and had gone on the first of two trips, not knowing who, if anyone, we would find waiting for us. Immediately upon landing in the former Soviet Union, I wondered if we had made the worst mistake of our lives."

He wasn't in tears about the "making the worst mistake of our lives." It was the need, the fact that there are many who just need love and are living in these type of conditions.

Dear Ethiopia,

Our hearts grow deeper. Our desire increases. Our time talking doesn't go long with out mentioning our hopefully soon to be lives. It's not pushed, it's not difficult, it's not uncomfortable is passionate, it is heart to heart, it is is incredible. I have found over this weekend together...reading, studying, talking...our fears have decreased. There were some initially...but, Love Trumps!!!!

Do I have a child waiting for me in your country, in your land? I pray yes. I pray for a phone call soon. If I "thought" I was pregnant...I would have bought the 3 pack of preg. tests and already have went through them and went and bought another pack...that's how much this waiting is driving me crazy. What day will they call??? All in God's timing, right? Right.

Our hearts quite possibly may be leaning towards 1 or 2 baby boys. Why? Girls are in much higher demand for adoption, boys are not. We can picture it. But, we are prepared if God leads us in a different direction...we are open to hearing His voice.

Thank you Lord for this time alone today. I needed this time to hear you. I needed this time to just read and pray. This trip has been good for both of us.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sara Groves, "I Saw What I Saw"

Hit the send button.

4/19/2010 -

Dear Ethiopia,

Today I hit the send button. We thought we were hitting the send button to adopt from Rwanda...but, to our surprise God had a different plan. Our application is in and hopefully we will be on our way to meeting you. To meeting your country, your people, and our child/children. I still do not know your rules for adopting more than one baby. We are open and willing if that is what God has in mind.

Last night as I fell asleep...I was already dreaming of beautiful tanned babies. Oh, that's all that was swimming in my mind. You know I told a friend today, "These babies will never look like their daddy, but they do look like their FATHER." These sweet babies made in God's very own image.

As I talked to my friend who has been through this whole international adoption thing, (her daughter is from Russia), I was telling her that I almost threw up and pee'd my pants, (can I say, all at once today as I finished filling out the online application. It was nice to hear that when she took her app. to the mailbox that she had the exact same feelings. I would start to hit the button and then back off and go back and re-check everything. Yes, there was some hesitation...but, not for long. She said that it was the same for her. Praise God there are those who know the feelings I'm having! She said that it is just like being pregnant and having morning sickness and all. It is true. My stomach has been so messed up today. Oh, how will I handle not just a few days but over a year of this?

I am in love. Just like carrying a child in my womb 3 times fall in love with someone you've never seen. I have realized that it's not a bit different. Amazing! I pray tonight...I will pray for you and your people and the mother of my soon to be child/children. My heart is reaching across the ocean to you. God will have to give me patience, because I know on my own I would have none. I know His timing is perfect.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Church today...

4/18/2010...It seems that everything I hear lately relates to this whole crazy thing we are pursuing. And as we studied in the book of Mark today and talked about being willing to "give up all our riches" and follow God I have to say that I'm a bit overwhelmed. My heart is full...I "get it". If we are not willing to forgo things of this privileged life we live and do what God has called us to do...then we are just "doing life"...not living life.

It doesn't mean that we will be asked to "give it all up"...but, it means that we should be completely willing to do so if asked. I know that I have prayed for years and told God that I am willing to go and serve as missionaries if we are ever asked. I will give it all up to follow what God wants. That's what it's all about...a willing heart.

I have learned a lot through the process of pursuing a new home. It seemed home after home we found...something kept us from getting each house. But, we kept after the process, (with light talk for years of adopting). With this last house situation I truly believe that God allowed us to be taken as far as packing up our entire house for us to see that He is in control, and when we pray, "If this house is not meant to be, take it away." That doesn't necessarily mean, "Take it away and we'll just find another one." It in my heart meant that moving was not what was meant to be...and our Lord finally got that point across with taking us through the process of packing and then having to unpack for us to say, "We're not doing this again."! When we prayed that if putting in a pool was not meant to be then take it away. And all of a sudden in the last days of the process it was taken away by our neighbor changing his mind for us to go through his yard...there was a reason. What? What could have been the reason?

I believe that reason was that God was asking us to give up the "stuff". The fancy house, the fancy pool, etc. He was preparing our hearts for this journey. He was keeping that cash for us in His hands so we could have it to adopt a child or children that He loves and wants to be given a chance at life. That He wants them to be taught about eternity, (church this morning was so good). We have to choose to be not take the worlds path, or the ordinary path. We must choose to take the God path. To see with His eyes the needs of others, to feel with His heart, to reach out with His hands and feet. Whew...let the tears come! We're not hear for us. I'm not saying, "Look at us, we are doing something grand." Oh, no. We are scared, we talked about how easy it would be to take the selfish route, (we recognize that we are selfish many a time), and keep the money for "fun things" or "material things" or "security". How easy it would be to be selfish and say, we are to old, a different nationality child would never fit in here, this will wear us out, we don't want to be tired. And on and on. But, again, we realize that it's not about us. And our hearts are already prepared and longing because God gave us this awesome purpose :)!

What if we would have never prayed about putting in a pool, or buying a house? What if we would have just did what we wanted? That scares me so much.

As we filled out paperwork today and I asked Darren, "What do you really think?" I a little bit, (very little bit), was hoping he would say, "Let's not do this." My heart wants a child, wants to nurture...but, my worldly side says, "This is a forever sacrifice, this is scary, this will take work." I know that this journey is from my Lord...I know that He wants us to reach beyond ourselves and bring the mission field into our home...go, and bring back those that we can reach for Him. And anything He gives to accomplish is really not a sacrifice, and every great thing takes work! I'm sure we'll leave a bit of our hearts in Ethiopia and want to reach many more there for Him...I am willing. I am nervously excited! I am ready to give love and see the love returned from my children...ahhh, warm fuzzies just now.

I have to say, on a lighter note, that when I jokingly asked Darren if he had a criminal record, (paperwork asked)...and he said, "Yes." I thought he was kidding. He wasn't! In college he trespassed with some buddies and jumped a fence to swim after hours in a Springfield pool. They decided to press charges. He plead guilty and paid a fine. Oh,! I told him that if this keeps us from being approved...won't we be shocked :) I think we'll be fine. But, there's a never know what choices you make years back will show up later on ;)! When I called and asked the lady at the agency if we needed to list this...she laughed! She said, "Yes, list it...but, it was over 10 years ago and not a biggie, I think you'll be fine." And she was still, funny!

We're hoping to have our paperwork ready tomorrow. I need to call and ask a couple more questions. Once we turn in the paperwork we should know within 10 business days if we have been approved...yikes!!!! We really are excited. Anytime you do what God is calling you to's the right thing...and it's good!

Dear heart is there already. I pray nightly for the mother of the child or children we will bring home. I pray that God would prepare her heart to give up her children...that He would protect her and keep her healthy and keep my child/children healthy. I pray that her heart would not be totally sad and broken. As an adoptie I always think of my birth mother and wonder what she feels. Is she sad? Is she in wonder? Only if she knew that I love her for not aborting me and giving me life. I would love to tell her that. So, I pray for this mom that will or has already carried my soon to be child/children. I pray for her heart, I pray for her salvation, I pray for her sadness...I pray...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The start of something beautiful...

4/17/2010: I write tonight with so much on my heart. There are children tonight all over this world living without parents, living without hope. Who will help them, who will reach out? Will I live another day in "my world", will I spend another day worrying more about having me time and being selfish, then worrying about others?

There is so much more to life, so much more to each breath that God breathes through us each and every second of our life. He has put us on this earth for a purpose. Will we find the purpose He has put in us, or will we live another day just for ourselves? These are the question's that have ran through my mind time and time again.

Who will reach the orphans, the cries that come from orphanages throughout this world? Who will say, "You are God's precious one who deserves a loving home."? As that question has run through my mind time and time again...and as I was adopted myself...I had to say, "I want to help, I want to love, and be selfless to one or more of God's precious gifts."

So, the start of something beautiful has begun. Darren, myself and our ever so excited kids have made the decision to reach out to Ethiopia. To reach out to a baby boy in a land of need. We actually began the process to adopt a baby or babies from Rwanda. But, the agency, (we are going through American World Adoption), said that Rwanda has not been the most stable and their government is not set up yet for adoptions so the wait time is growing and the laws are changing. So we knew Africa was in our hearts and Ethiopia would be the place. Why Ethiopia? Why not. There is such a need. Here are some statistics:

Ethiopia counts one of the largest populations of orphans in the world: 13 per cent of children throughout the country are missing one or both parents. This represents an estimated 4.6 million children – 800,000 of whom were orphaned by HIV/AIDS.

The country has seen a steady increase in the number of children becoming orphaned because of AIDS. In the past, famine, conflict and other diseases were the main factors that claimed the lives of parents

© UNICEF video
Street children are continuously exposed to various forms of exploitation, including sexual exploitation. They do not have access to basic rights such as access to proper care, education, psychological support and supervision.

Grim statistics

Many street children like Mandefro don’t have access to basic rights such as proper care, education, psychological support and supervision. Often, orphans and other vulnerable children are forced to work to earn an income. They are exposed to various forms of exploitation, including sexual exploitation.

  • In Addis Ababa more than 30 per cent of girls aged 10-14 are not living with their parents. Twenty per cent of these 30 per cent have run away from child marriages.

  • Twelve per cent of adolescents aged 10-14 – of the 30 per cent not living with their parents – surveyed in two areas of Addis Ababa were domestic workers. They are very young, very vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, and typically have no legal or social support.

  • In the Amhara region, the average age of marriage for girls is 14, while at the national level the mean age for marriage is 17.

  • There are about 2.5 million children with disabilities.

Today as we began to fill out the application it became ever so real that we were "doing this". I got on the phone to call and ask 4 friends to be referrals for us. Putting it in to words kinda' freaked me out a bit. We had kept it so, making phone calls and announcing our intentions was a bit nerve racking. It was like, "We made a step that we can't back away from now." Not that we would want too! As we look at photo's of babies being adopted from Africa, we have to say..."Beautiful!" We know it's meant to be.

So, what is the process? I will keep it short and write a longer post later that explains the whole thing, once we understand it better. We are going through American World Adoption's, (Steven Curtis Chapman is a part of this organization, and adopted 3 amazing girls from China), it seems to be the right fit. We did think a long time about China. The wait for a child is upwards of 4 to 6 years at this point...WOW! Darren and I realize that we are not getting any younger and so we knew that was not God's plan. Once we fill out our application, American World has to approve us so we can start the process. I don't know why they wouldn't, but I guess that is a possibility. We will turn in the app. and go from there. The wait time for a baby boy in Ethiopia is about 3 to 6 months, after our paperwork is finished (that takes 4 to 6 months).

To think we have gotten rid of all of our baby stuff. WOW! What a start over. But, we know God will supply!

What can you do? Pray. Please pray for God to work through every part of this process. We are excited, nervous, thinking we are a bit crazy...but, we are willing. Isn't that all God wants? A willing heart?

Dear Ethiopia, you had us with those big dark eyes and those so sweet smiles. We are giving a part of our hearts to you, we are in love. We are loving a baby who is not even conceived as of yet. But, we know that our love is big enough to reach across the ocean and the deserts to a small country in so need of love. God gives us enough love to reach that far and we are willing to give a piece of us to you.