Monday, December 24, 2012

A Divine Adoption Story

It's Christmas, again, without my kids. I can't express how much every little brown-skinned kiddo jumps out at me when I go to the store, and how I walk past the toy aisles “just because” and how I hug fluffy snow-suits in the clothing section, wondering when a brown face will be peeping out at me. I'll try not to get too sappy, but this is where my heart has been for the season.
Sappiness aside, has it ever occurred to you the similarities between an international adoption story and God's divine adoption story?
I'll include some of my doodlings for illustration...
We are told in the book of Matthew that “this is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.””
In the book of Luke, we are told the next piece of the story. Mary, pregnant with Jesus, goes to visit her relative, Elizabeth, who is also expecting. Elizabeth's pregnancy was a miracle also, because Elizabeth and her husband, Zachariah the priest, were very old. In addition, Elizabeth had never been able to conceive a child.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice [Elizabeth] exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

After Mary had heard this confirmation from Elizabeth, Mary overflows with the “Magnificat” in Luke chapter 1. It's one of my favorite passages of Scripture because it is a love-filled, awe-filled expression of worship.
Mary had a rough road ahead of her. She was young, supposedly pregnant out of wedlock, going to travel quite a distance right around her due date (no airplanes, cars or trains), have her baby in a barn, have a group of dirty, sheep-laden folk be the first to visit. She would watch Jesus grow up and be mocked for his “unknown” lineage, loose her husband and become a widow, and then watch her firstborn son die a criminal's death. Holy cow. Not a scenario many of us would otherwise choose, and not a happy, care-free environment for Jesus' childhood.
So Jesus was born, as predicted thousands of years prior, by many prophets.
He was visited by shepherds (hardly the upper-crust of society) who had been alerted to the birth by a herd? flock? passel? group? bunch? ...of angels.
Did it ever cross your mind that, 2000 year ago, the God of the universe placed His Son into an adoptive family? Ponder that a moment. Jesus would have known what it was like to grow up with stinging questions like “who's Your real dad?”. He would have known what it was like to be cared for by someone who had not fathered Him, to be looked down on because of the rumors that surrounded His birth. Joseph would have faced the challenge of fielding offensive questions, holding his chin up when people stared, and being disgraced by the assumptions of ignorant people. Their family was a “conspicuous family” and few people would have thought “adoption”. Most people thought “bastard.”
When Jesus was still a young child, He was visited by Magi. These wise men brought gifts that foretold pieces of His life:
Gold- because He was born a King, a Son of the King, and will return as a King,
Frankincense- because of His role as a priest mediating between humans and God, and
Myrrh- foreshadowing His death as a sacrificial sin-payment

The purpose of Jesus' birth was death. From the very beginning, His birth was prophesied to conquer the Enemy and be the blood-payment for deeds that He did not commit. When Jesus died on the cross, He made it possible for anyone who believes in Him to have eternal life, regardless of their race, messed-up family, marital status, sexual orientation, mistakes, victories, or GPA. Just have faith that Jesus took that punishment for your sin, and your sin will be forgiven.
So, what about adoption? Well, Jesus was part of an adoptive family. And, if we believe in Him, we are adopted into God's family, becoming heirs with Jesus Himself. Jesus as our Brother.
It struck me this morning: we will have to travel twice to Ethiopia. The first time, we will complete the paperwork to make our kids “ours”. They will be “ours”, but we will have to leave them in Ethiopia and go away. We will leave promises of our return and maybe some gifts. We do not know when we will be able to travel a second time, but we will come back and take our kids home to live with us.
Have you ever considered? This is the exact thing that happens to us in the Divine adoption! Jesus came once already, 2000+ years ago. He lived and died to pay the price to adopt us. Then, He left to go back to where He came from (with God the Father), to get our home ready for us. We don't know when He will return, we are just given promises that He will, and a Gift to help us as we wait: the Holy Spirit. Then, Jesus will come back again, super excited and triumphant, and take us home to be with Him forever.
Do you get it? It's such a beautiful thing! Praise God for His love of His children, and His promise to return! And worship Him this Christmas season!

Merry Christmas from our home to yours. Have a blessed time with your family!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A few paintings

A random girl.  I kinda like how the paint did odd things.  
I've started a new blog post twice over the last 6 weeks, and have lost interest in both. Maybe some day I'll pull them out and make them presentable. But in the mean time, they sit in my “blog” folder with “IP” in the title, reminding me that they're “in progress”.
My child's birth mom will be grieving despite my joy
My blog is VERY overdue for an update, so I decided on a post that requires very little brain-power on my part. Recently, I've been sketching a little as I think about family. Part of the inspiration was a friend's birthday, and part was just my own reflections and need for an artistic outlet. For better or for worse, here you go!   

My friend likes angels.  

More angels.
This picture started the sketching: remembering the two kids
that have impacted us in significant ways,
but will never be a part of our family.  
I enjoyed the parable about the lost sheep, where the
Shepherd searches diligently to bring his
wandering sheep home.

I think this is my favorite.
3 women, 3 skin tones.
I don't know if they are mother-daughter or just friends,
but it doesn't seem to matter.

And still, more angels. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Brief, Important Update

We completed the paperwork to include two children!

We will, Lord willing, be bringing home two kiddos at the same time instead of just one! This decision was made with much prayer, council, and thought, but we are excited about the possibilities ahead. Nothing is for certain, and He can redirect us if He chooses.

With a sibling group, our next (and last!) set of fees do increase substantially. Specifically, to a total of $11,000, not including airfare and other travel expenses. We are continuing to trust God to supply the need in His timing. He has been faithful in the past and will remain faithful.

Our wait time should not increase substantially because of this change. The children that we will be bringing home will both be under 5 at the time of referral. They may or may not be birth siblings, but they will certainly be siblings when they join our family. There will be at least one boy, and at least one of them will be over two. It is a broad request, but we look forward to seeing what God has in mind for us!

Thanks for sharing in our joy!

Friday, August 17, 2012


Our adoption puzzle at 46.7%
There isn't a good way to give an introduction to this, in part because there was no introduction for us! It was just dumped on our laps, and just as unceremoniously removed from our laps.
The day before we left for our first camp of the summer, I received a call from my cousin in Pennsylvania. In a nutshell, there was a friend of a friend that was going to give birth to a baby boy in September, and she wanted to know if Philip and I wanted the baby? She knew we were waiting to adopt a boy, and this was a crisis pregnancy and they were hoping for a good, solid Christian family in which to place the baby. Uh, right. Wow. How many days do you get a call along the lines of “in 9 weeks you can choose to have your life permanently changed for forever.”? Like, never. But it happened. We were completely floored. There wasn't much I could say except that we'd pray about it.
There were SO MANY emotions rolling through my brain. Actually, so many conflicting emotions that they kinda canceled each other out and I felt a little numb. On one hand, there is nothing that has prepared me for a newborn, white, American baby. Nothing. Everything we'd imagined was an older, un-white, international child. On the other hand, my husband and I have always said that the only way we would adopt an infant (at this point in our lives) is if it was a crisis pregnancy, and we were specifically asked to have the baby placed with us. Well, here it was: a crisis pregnancy where we were asked to parent this baby.
Both Philip and I were confident that this was not a substitute for our Ethiopian adoption. We would not go back on something that we had previously committed to and been called to, but was there a chance that this could be an “in the meantime” thing?
Prayer. Much prayer. Thought, council, and more prayer. We have always been of the persuasion that God directs when we are moving in a direction, not just sitting on our hands. God has the power to close doors and open them. We asked for His obvious leading. We felt as if we should at least move forward with the idea, trusting that if this was God's plan for us, He would put every piece into place for us. If it was not God's plan, He would completely shut the door so clearly that it was unmistakable.
In the time of uncertainty, I went about my day evaluating every aspect: could I do this activity with a newborn in tow? What would I need to change? Nap times, play mats, jogging strollers, car seats, babysitters, diapers, formula, etc.  My girlfriend in New York got bombarded by tons of "newborn" questions.  I'm thankful for her patience!
Sometimes I felt rather excited about the impending adventure. Other times I felt overwhelmed. It was a decision that felt VERY out of my league, and I certainly did not want to push for something that Philip wasn't on board with. A huge part of my prayer had been that God would lead through my husband. I trust God, and I trust my husband's judgment.
Baby. Infant. Domestic adoption. Not my first choice to start a family. I struggled a fair amount and held it before the Throne constantly. In a prayer to God, I tried to tell Him that I honestly didn't want the baby. But.... He wouldn't let me even voice that. Truth came crashing down on my shoulders: this baby was precious in God's sight. Unplanned and unwanted by his birth family, this baby was still a gift from his Maker. He was beloved and valuable. I cannot say that I don't want something that God has deemed so precious. I just can't. Seeing that child through God's eyes completely changed my perspective. This baby was a gift. No, not my first choice for a family, however, all of a sudden, I did want that baby. I would care for, love, and raise that child, and take joy in the fact that he was a good gift from God.
Philip and I began to make calls to our Ethiopian adoption agency. They said “yes”. They offered to write a domestic homestudy for us at a low price. We got a referral for a local adoption lawyer and spoke with him. It was a positive conversation. The costs were relatively low compared to the adoption we're currently pursuing. We asked for council from several trusted friends. They were unanimously in favor. All the pieces were falling into place. All of them. It was so uncanny it was scary.
Hadson and Philip in Brazil, 2008
And then, just as unprecedented as this baby fell into our laps, the entire decision was taken out of our hands and our control. The baby's birthmom decided to parent her son after all. Wow, talk about an emotional let-down! All this emotional upheaval for, well, nothing. The very thing that consumed our thoughts and emotions for 2 weeks was taken out of our hands just as quickly as it had been placed in our laps.We pray it was for the best.
As many times as I have heard sermons and talks on the preciousness of a child, I never thought about it in such a relevant context before. I doubt we'll ever get a chance to meet that little boy, but he certainly is not far from my thoughts, and those thoughts touch a tender place in me. It was also a realization about how much my husband wants a family. I was let down and disappointed and kinda sad, but Philip was much more so than I was. He so looks forward to having kiddos of his own!
This is the second time God has placed an almost-within-reach child in our lives that has changed the way we think. In 2008, God led us to pursue Hadson's adoption in Brazil, and then closed the door in a similar fashion to this baby.

The 50 puzzle pieces sponsored by the camp kids!
Changing gears a little, I did want to share a blessing from this most recent week at camp (third camp for the summer!) Unbeknownst to us, the camp had arranged an Italian soda fundraiser for the week and the proceeds went towards our Ethiopian adoption! Wow. We were instantaneously stunned and completely humbled. After a huge business loss the week before, this gift from the Father conveyed love and care like little else. Through the junior high and hi-school campers, God blessed us and affirmed His provision and involvement in our lives. “Blessing” barely conveys the thought.

Me with some of the girls in my cabin
And, changing gears again, I previously mentioned that our agency signed a contract with another orphanage. They have recently received 4 referrals from this new orphanage (just referrals, the kids aren't home yet), and have stopped working with their previous orphanages. This is a brand new development, and I am not sure yet of the ramifications of this, but will keep y'all posted as I find out more info. :)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

What We Do Know

I debated leaving this post blank, because that's what it feels like-- we know nothing. Ok, it's not that bad. Here is what we do know about our wait time based on our phone-conference with our agency (Dove) this morning:

  1. Kiddos are not matched with families in the order that the families are waiting. The matching process is more kid-family specific: looking for the right family that fits the right kid. This means that families that have been waiting the longest are not specifically going to be matched before a family that has waited a shorter amount of time.
  2. There are 40 families with Dove that are currently waiting.
  3. We have been waiting 9 months for a referral and are on “the bottom half of that list of 40”. Our agency refuses to be more specific.
  4. There have been only 5 referrals through our agency since the beginning of the year.
  5. Dove just signed an agreement with another orphanage in Ethiopia, so their hope is that there will be more placements in the semi-near future.
  6. Changing the perimeters (age, gender, etc) of the kiddo we are requesting may or may not speed up the process.
  7. We will have to re-do significant portions of our homestudy and dossier because they will expire. Some can be the same or simply refreshed, others must be completely new.
  8. We still have a God that loves my son even more than I do, and the timing is in His perfect hands.
  9. God gives strength for each day, but not for the entire process all at once!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Handling "Crazy"

Just a few of the books we have for him

I am ready for the last two days to be over. Between being at the wrong place at the right time, forgetting to add eggs to my pancakes, 3 trips to the grocery store in the same day, and simply being a ditz, yes, I'm ready for it to not be today!
In the midst of my spastic morning, however, God allowed a friend and I to pray for another brother in Christ (a complete stranger) that was going through some rough times. I had to smile as I came home to Philip and declared (still trying to convince myself) that “I can handle crazy if God's hand is in it!”
This bold declaration was tested when we got the e-mail with a list of when dossier pieces will expire, and when we will need to renew them. Great. It looks like our fingerprints expire (no joke...) in October, and other things begin to expire the beginning of next year. I don't know how much we will have to re-do, and how much we can simply get re-notarized. Our agency is not able to fit us in for a phone conference until next Tuesday, so I get to be clueless and waiting-- a bad combination for me! I just have to trust that God's hand is in the craziness and that His timing is perfect.
His bed.  Apparently the cat likes it, too.
That being said, I am excited to see little things come together. I found a new, very nice mattress set at a great price. Now my Little Guy's bed looks like a bed! I found sheets on sale for less than $5/set. They were from Christmas, but who cares? Red and white is cool. Today I found a Noah's Ark story book on sale. Little things like that make me feel a little more connected to my kiddo, as if this whole adoption thing might actually happen someday.
We expected our Little Guy home by now, and some days this weight certainly drags on me. Some days the whole thing seems hopeless and I struggle not to second-guess decisions we made almost two years ago about choosing an agency, choosing an age-range, etc. Other days, I am blissfully happy to wait and be involved with so many other activities outside of adoption. <sigh> Emotions. Gotta love them.
His HUGE stuffed leopard,
in plastic to keep it clean
As a side note, this afternoon, Philip and I happened to see an old friend at a social event. We barely got past “hello” before this individual was wondering if our Little Guy was raised in a mud hut? (Well, maybe, but we don't know...) Evidently “missionaries don't let their children play with kids raised locally because kids raised in a mud hut have seen everything, so get as young of a child as you can” and we should “make sure your boy is from such-and-such tribe in Ethiopia because they are of a higher class than the others” and have “straight noses and finer features” than other kids, and will “fit into your family” better.
I was glad that this person was primarily addressing my husband, because I doubt I could have remained civil. We were speechless that this person would utter such racist comments under the guise of protecting us from a mud-hut-raised--broad-featured--doesn't-look-alike child. I can't think of anything more insulting to adoptive parents!
Stuffed animals from S. Africa
It makes my heart ache for those kids that are older, who don't have much to look forward to in life, who aren't “beautiful” by western standards. They, too, are those kids for whom Christ shed His blood, on whom He pours out His love, who are beautiful in the eyes of their Creator, who's cries reach His ears, and whom He watches out for. What about them?
Yes, this is just something that, as adoptive parents, we will deal with forever. We knew about it when we signed our adoption application and we are reminded about it every time someone goes “Hmm. Oh.” at the news that we're adopting. It's a part of life. But it is still a shock.
Ok, I'm done with that little rabbit trail.  
Crazy. I'm beginning to come to grips with the idea that “crazy” is “normal”. And, as I seek God, lean on Him, walk in His ways and delight myself in His paths, I can totally handle “crazy” if the hand of God is in it!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Weird Blessings

My niece, Blake

In contrast to my “beating my head against the wall” post, I'll take a moment and reflect on some odd blessings that God has given us in the midst of the.... waiting.
Last summer, we were quite certain that it was going to be our last summer being so involved in youth ministries, at least for a while. We were planning on our Little Guy being home (or nearly home) by now, and were resigned to putting all other activities on hold until he was mature enough to tag along and participate with us. Well, now that we're still.... waiting, we can begin to tentatively make commitments. One of the coolest things for me is being able to counsel at a camp where the director of the camp is one of the boys I grew up with. So, two youth camps, a friend's wedding, and a trip to Maine loom ahead of us for the summer, Lord willing!
Such a cutie!
Another blessing (in disguise!) is having more time to think through and process some of the difficult things that have happened in the recent past. There are several specific ways God is at work in my life, and He is allowing this extra time so that He can work on me while I am not distracted by caring for a child. I am grateful for time to spend with Him, and to allow Him to mold me to be a better mom and wife. I am grateful to better learn how to work through the hurt and pain, so I can be a better support to my son when he comes home.
Baby Rylea, 3 hours old!
Philip and I traveled up to Washington last week for the birth of a friend's daughter. Baby Rylea was gently placed in my arms only 3 hours after she was born. You know that old church hymn that goes “How sweet to hold a newborn baby, and feel the pride and joy he gives. But greater still the calm assurance this child can face uncertain days because He (Christ) lives!”? Yeah, it is pretty cool to hold a baby that “new”. It's special to be able to pray for God's protection on her tiny body, as well protection and blessing on her life, knowing that she is in the hands of her Creator. I cannot help but be a little introspective during times like that, wondering if we've really made the right decision to adopt, especially adopt an older child.  I sometimes wonder if there is some mistake we've made, somehow we've overlooked God's path. Honestly, I can say that I have no regrets about our decision to adopt an older child. This is exactly what God has for us at this point in our lives, and He keeps confirming it in so many ways.
However, that being said, I have to confess an almost-physical ache associated with holding a newborn. Realizing that I will NEVER have that experience with my firstborn son weighs heavily on me. I will NEVER be involved in his life from the beginning. I will NEVER know his tiny hands wrapping around my finger, his newborn face scrunching up while he sleeps, his first smile, his soft baby noises. Philip and I cannot share those first few hours, days, months, and even years of his life as a family. My heart screams to Abba to protect and be a Father to my son and my heart aches for the lost time.
The blessing in that? In part, simply knowing we're doing the right thing, that we will be a family of 3 someday, and that his pain and loss will have a happy ending, by the grace of God.
My nephew, Alex
Another blessing we've experiences lately is the number of people that are actively holding my son before the Throne of God in prayer. I can't express how humbled I am (and encouraged!) to get a text from a friend saying that she's drinking a cup of tea and praying for my son. It is amazing to know that the leadership of our church is holding him in prayer and preparing their hearts to love him. I am blessed to be wished a happy mother's day by a teenager who knows our story and assures us of her prayers in this process. I really, truly appreciate it all. It's almost worth the wait just to glean the encouragement of others through prayers!
I am blessed by participation on our puzzle fundraiser. Yup, I'm mentioning that again. But honestly, we're almost at 40%, and anytime we get “the” phone call, I have the funds available to write the check as part of accepting the referral. Now everything we save and raise will go towards airfare and in-country expenses. Praise God!
I am blessed to have time with kiddos though a friend's play group. I can be the third-party observer to mom-kiddo interaction and gleam from their experience and examples.
I am blessed to meet another adoptive family that is... waiting as well, and share stories of how God has miraculously provided for each of us as we take the adoption journey.
Yes, I wish things would move a little faster, but there is so much happening for which I am thankful! Thanks for letting me share some of them! :-)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Beating My Head Against the Wall- Part 1

Enough people freely vent their negative experiences that I do not feel the need to contribute mine. I really do try to keep all my FaceBook and blog posts primarily positive. However, there occasionally comes a time when its just not all peachy.

I do not have a “Part 2” or a “Part 3” planned for this post, but my suspicion will be that, sometime in the future, a sequel “Beating my Head Against the Wall” will ensue.

That having been said... the latest adoption news: this will take longer than we anticipated. Ok, really, it's nothing worse that that. Let me explain.

When we first started the adoption process the wait time for a referral was 3-6 months. When we submitted our Dossier, the Ethiopian government had begun it's overhaul of their adoption program (eliminating some fraud and whatnot) and the wait time had gone up to 6-10 months. Evidently instead of processing 40 cases a day, Ethiopia is now processing 5. Last night, we got an e-mail from our agency saying that referral times were landing in the 12-24 month range. In fact, because of the long wait time, our agency is putting a temporary hold on all new Ethiopia program applicants.

So what does this mean for us? Nothing except that it may in fact be 6-18 more months until we know who our son is. We're already 19 months into the whole adoption process. (Hey, for being 19 months pregnant, I think I look pretty good!)

My initial response to this news was a combination of disgust, frustration, sadness, and amusement. I mean, what else can I really do but throw up my hands and be surrendered to God's timing? It's utterly out of my hands, and totally in His hands. A friend posted on my FaceBook wall that times like this are “a mixture of sheesh, argh and trust. “ She's right.
So, we continue to wait. And wait. And wait some more. Yes, we're a little perturbed that our son won't be coming home for a long while longer. I cringe and get irritated with the idea that it will be even longer before my son gets the love and emotional support he needs, before he knows what a family is like and how much he is loved unconditionally. 

We firmly believe, however, that God can use this time for His glory, both in my own life as He continues to change me, and in my son's life. My son is not forgotten by his Creator, he is not left alone. His future is planned for him by the One that holds the future. There is no emotional damage that the Healer cannot overcome by His grace and mercy. There is no better timing than God's. It's ok. Really, it is. I might still beat my head against the wall sometimes because it is, humanly speaking, a little frustrating. Thank goodness I have a husband that can repair sheet-rock. But the bottom line is that it's ok. We're still adopting, we still have a little brown skinned boy running around over in Africa somewhere, and we will wait as long as it takes to bring him home.

So that's the latest news for anyone who might have been wondering. We appreciate your prayers!  

Monday, February 13, 2012

What manner of love!

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God... (1 Jn. 3:1, ESV)
This is not specifically an adoption-related blog post, but with Valentine's Day looming, I wanted to spend a moment and share some of the many verses about the love of God. He is the perfect Abba, the One that fulfills everything I need.
...You have been raised to new life in Christ... for you died when Christ died, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Col. 3:1,3, NLT) We are safe! Who we really are is wrapped up in Christ Himself, protected by God.
“For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”” (Rom.8:15, NASB) We are not to fear. Because of Christ, we have a standing as a beloved child before a loving Daddy!
“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.” (Jude 24-25, KJV) The words in that first phrase literally mean that God, as a result of His own ability and resources, is able to guard us so that we stand firm. How comforting to know that He is there!
“For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:7-8 ESV) Indeed, the price God paid for our adoption was His Son's blood. When we didn't even know Him, He showed love. This love is as unchanging as God Himself, and extends far beyond our initial salvation from Hell.
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words...He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26, ESV, KJV) God recognizes that we are weak and does not berate us for it, but sends us His own Spirit to help when we can't get the right words to come out!
“...[Christ] is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” (Heb. 7:25, ESV) Jesus is always there to mediate between us and the Father. He is there to take up our case and to make peace. We don't have to stand alone!
“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him. For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.” (Ps. 103:11-14, NASB) God's love for His children is beyond our scope for understanding. He takes our sins away and shows compassion towards us. He knows we're frail, and is not repulsed or annoyed by our humanity.
“But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” (Psalm 86:15, ESV) We have a Father that is consistently patient and loving towards us. He is not moody or inconsistent! He knows our thoughts, never misunderstands us, and extends forgiveness and restores broken relationships.
“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you can endure.” (1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT) God does not leave us alone to stumble through life. He is attentive and aware of our every step.
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (Jn. 14:27, NASB) We have a loving Abba who exudes peace, not tension, fear, or insecurity.
This Valentine's Day, praise God for His love for you!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Adoption Vocab. 101

Like most special interest groups, adoption has its own vocabulary.  And, unless you have adopted or have had your lives significantly touched by adoption, there is little reason that you would be familiar with these terms. 

Recently, we hosted an adoption event highlighting special needs, domestic adoption, and (of course) our international adoption.  One of my handouts was simply a brief vocabulary sheet, which I would like to share with you.  Some of it seems rather silly, I confess.  However, there is a potential to send negative messages and land yourself in hot water with the "mama grizzly."  Or, if not to send the wrong message, simply to be at a loss for words when trying to ask a mama-at-heart about the next phase of her process!  
So, "bear" with me as I share share some politically correct terminology, then leave me a message and give me your input!  

Birth mom (dad)/ birth mother (father)/ biological parent Real parents, natural parents (opposed to "fake" and "unnatural" parents?)
Place (a child), choose adoption Give up (a child)
Choose to parent Keep a child
Birth child Child of their own
Our child Adopted child
Placed for adoption Unwanted child
Parent Adoptive parent
International adoption Foreign adoption
Court termination Child taken away
Child from abroad Foreign child
Interracial Mixed race
Special needs Handicapped
Born to unmarried parents Illegitimate
Waiting child Adoptable/available child

  • Home Study: A social worker's report on the prospective adoptive parents' home, health, medical, criminal, family and home background. The purpose is to help the court determine whether the adoptive parents are qualified to adopt a child.  Basically, to make sure the parents are not growing pot in their back yard or have bare electrical wires strewn around their home.
  • Dossier: When used in the context of adoption, this term refers to a set of legal documents that satisfy the international government's requirements for adoptive families.  Ethiopia wanted to make sure that we had electricity and running water in our home.  No joke.
  • Referral: A match between prospective parents and a waiting child. Some adoption referrals may include the following: photos, videos, medical information, how the child is growing and developing physically, background information, etc.  **THIS IS WHAT WE ARE WAITING FOR**
  • Reactive Attachment Disorder (or RAD): This term is used to describe a condition that generally appears in children before age five, and is thought to result from a lack of consistent care and nurturing in early years. The disorder is characterized by the inability of a child or infant to establish age-appropriate social contact and relationships with others.
  • Bonding: The process that a child goes through in developing lasting emotional ties with it's immediate caregivers.  It is central to that person's ability to relate properly to others throughout its life.
  • Attachment: The formation by a child of significant and stable emotional connections with the significant people in its life.
  • Photolisting: A published listing, either online or in print, containing a photo and description of a waiting child or sibling group, used by agencies to recruit prospective adoptive parents.   My favorite site for photolostings is  Check it out.  You'll want to adopt, too!
  • Placement: The move of a waiting child, teen or sibling group into the home of the family who plans to adopt them.  

What are your thoughts?  What terms would you add to the list?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Referrals, Details, and..... Waiting

I am very excited to report that we just popped over 20% of our puzzle! Meaning, people have sponsored over 200 pieces of my 1,000 piece puzzle! We're 1/5 there! Check out my blog post “An Awkward Subject” if you'd like to read more about the puzzle fundraiser we are having, or use the “ChipIn” widget on this blog to be a part of it! It's exciting and humbling to see it all come together.
I wanted to take a moment and update y'all on our current phase of the adoption: waiting. We are waiting for a “referral”-- a match with a child. We have been waiting for our referral since September, and the average wait time will put us anytime between tomorrow and June. Very specific, I know.
A few weeks ago, we had a phone conference with our agency giving us more details on the process. A child does, of course, start out with a birth family. There may or may not be information on this family, depending on when and how he came to the orphanage. If the child has been relinquished by the birth family, the members of the birth family (or closest relative) must meet with the judge and consent to the adoption. The orphanage directors will remain in contact with the family until the child has been matched with his adoptive family (us).
Children remain in the regional orphanages until beds become available in the main orphanage in Addis. Children our son's age will move into the Gelan orphanage, located south of Addis in the town of Akaki. After we have accepted the referral, our Little Guy will be told of his new family, and his documents and our documents will be reviewed in court. Upon approval, legal custody will be transferred to our family, though physical custody will be retained by the orphanage until we sign for this in Ethiopia. Clear as mud?

What's in a referral?

When we get “the call” from our agency that says we have a match with a child, we'll be broadcasting it from the rooftops! We will receive his information via e-mail along with one or two photographs.
***Please understand: Because our son will still be a legal ward of a foreign country (Ethiopia), we cannot post any identifying information or pictures of him in any public places, including this blog, until he comes home.*** Yes, this kinda stinks, I'm sorry. But, hey, I'm letting you know now so you won't be surprised. Friends and family are welcome to see pictures and hear updates, just not via posts on this blog or Facebook.
When we receive our referral, we will have 14 days to review it, pray about it, and make a final decision. We have the option of having a pediatrician review the information. When we officially accept this referral, we will need to send in the remaining fees to our agency. Funds raised from our puzzle will go to cover these fees.
In the referral, we will learn his name, the meaning of his name, his date of arrival at the orphanage, his birth date (estimate), weight, results of his medical examination, vaccination report, previous medical history (results of HIV tests, hepatitis tests, etc), information on his growth and psychological development, and any police reports if the child was found abandoned.
We will receive height, weight, and head measurements for our Little Guy, as well as 2 pictures, every month we are waiting to complete the process after we accept the referral.
Some of the more specific information will need to be kept private, especially the medical and social history. If my son wants to share this information when he is older, that is his decision. You're welcome to ask questions, but please don't be too disappointed if they don't get satisfactorily answered!
We hope you have a wonderful New Year, and we will keep you as updated as possible on any new developments as we continue.... to.... wait.....