Change of Plans

It the last two months since we made the decision to adopt there’s one thing I’ve learned quickly: God’s ways are not our own.  And if we’re going in a direction He doesn’t want us, He’ll make it very clear.  I’ll warn you now – this is a long (and maybe confusing) update.  Bear with us if you want.  This changes the entire course of our adoption and has changed our hearts some as well.

For those who have been following along, we had decided on an Agency and a country – Ethiopia.  We’d already sent off the $300 application fee and were on schedule to have an orientation call this afternoon.  Well, my mom taught me early on in my life the value of research.  So researching I do.  All.the.time.  For everything.  Especially for this adoption process.  I’ll admit this: we chose Ethiopia because I wanted to adopt from Africa.  Because Ethiopia was open and it just seemed like a “good choice”.  Not because I prayed about where God wanted us to go.  Because I wanted to go there.  So I got Craig on board and we sent off money.  Then I started REALLY doing research.  Research that didn’t lead to the answers I wanted to hear. And what I found made my stomach drop.  First I got defensive and tried to rationalize what I was reading.  But you can only rationalize so much. After reading about how unethical most (not all) Ethiopian adoptions are, we knew without a doubt that we couldn’t adopt from there.  While we know our agency will do everything in their power to have an ethical adoption, there are some things they can’t control.  And it’s happening very frequently in Ethiopia.  I would never have peace adopting from there.

So that knowledge obviously threw a wrench in our plans.  We have no country now.  And the agency we signed on with only qualified us for that country.  Now what?  It’s funny how when you’re in God’s will everything becomes clear.  After deciding on Ethiopia I still had feelings of unrest (which is why I was researching).  We didn’t really know what would come next.  When we made the decision to back away from Ethiopia, God started opening doors and guiding us where He wanted us.  An adoption “mentor” of sorts was discussing adoption with me via email.  She mentioned the agency they’re using: Lifeline Christian Services.  At church on Sunday another woman (who didn’t know about our change of plans) mentioned Lifeline and that they were opening an office in Charleston.  And then on Tuesday, a friend of ours who works with Craig mentioned Lifeline.  Coincidence?  I think not.  God’s making sure we’re following this time.

So where does that leave us?  We’re not sure yet.  We know we’re now going with Lifeline.  They have an amazing orphan care program through domestic adoption, international adoption, foster care, and their (un)adopted programs.  They’re amazing and it’s obvious they have a heart for this.  But we have no idea where we will be adopting from yet.  And we’re okay with that.  We’re not diving in head first just yet.  We’re making sure we take our time to REALLY pray about the situation and follow where God is leading us, not where we want to go.  We KNOW we are called to adopt.  But that’s all He’s revealed so far.

The following are countries that are or will shortly be open to us.  Congo, Peru, Costa Rica, Bulgaria, Uganda, and Ukraine.

This is also a blessing in disguise because it gives us the opportunity to raise the money we will need to start the process.  Before we can begin our home study (one of the first steps) I think we’ll need around $10,000.  We now have time to raise and save that money without going into debt.  Definitely a blessing!

So there you go.  I’m sure this won’t be the last time God changes our direction.  And while it’s not fun in the middle of the process, there is much more peace knowing we are where He wants us.

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It’s Coming

There are only TWO WEEKS left to RSVP for our Raising Hope fundraiser.  We’re really hoping this event is going to be a success.  Not just for our adoption, but because I want to hold this event yearly to raise money for other adopting families.  However, things are looking a tad disappointing.  Not many people are signing up.  I really hope it’s just because we live in a little tiny town where everyone (including me) waits until the last minute to get things done.  🙂

Haven’t heard about the Raising Hope fundraiser yet?!  Visit the Facebook page for it HERE.  It’s a “date night” of sorts that we are hosting to raise money for our adoption.  There will be live music, dancing, dinner, dessert, photography, and MUCH more.  It’s going to be amazing.  And tickets are only $30/couple.  That’s less than you’d pay for a dinner out!  (Without the music and awesome people!)  🙂

Please do us a favor and spread the word about this event.  Invite your friends.  Invite your family.  Tickets would make a great gift to give a couple who needs a night out.  We even have a few babysitters we can send your way if you need them.

We received our introduction packet in the mail today with some papers that need to be signed.  When we send those papers back to the agency, we also need to send over $10,000 to get things started.  We’ll be honest with you.  It’s going to be tight to find all of that money so quickly without using up a good portion of our savings.  It would be a huge blessing for this fundraiser to be a success so that we can start the home study process and still have money in case of emergency.

We’re not begging for money.  We know without a doubt that God will provide the money if this is His will for us (and we believe it is).  But we also believe that God uses others to accomplish His will.  Maybe He wants to use your purchase of tickets to help us adopt a child.

Adoption Process Update

Our first BIG update!

The social worker with AGCI has officially approved us to adopt from Ethiopia!  Our orientation packet was put in the mail today and we’ll have an orientation conference call after we’ve had a chance to look over everything.  If I understood correctly, the homestudy process will begin after that along with all of the paperwork to complete our dossier (the file of information on us that will be sent to Ethiopia before a child is referred to us).

Here we go!

Why Are We Fundraising?

This question has come up a couple of times in the past few weeks.  Why raise funds?  There are a lot of other families who adopt who never have to raise money.  Why do we?  Well, there are a couple of reasons.

This was a very quick decision.  If you read about why we decided to adopt, you’ll know that while we’ve always been open to the idea of adoption, it’s never been something we planned on doing until recently.  Because of that, this is all coming together VERY quickly, including funding.

We haven’t been saving for adoption until recently.  Because we were able to have our own kids, we haven’t been saving for adoption for years – we’ve been paying Birth Center and midwife fees.  We only started saving to adopt when we decided to adopt – which was not even two months ago.  Yes, we have a savings account.  And a good portion of that will go to our adoption fund.  But it’s not nearly enough to cover the cost of an international adoption (which will be upwards of $30,000).

Adoption is expensive.  Especially international adoption.  In addition to adoption, agency, and country fees, there will be plane tickets, hotels, Passports, Visas, and more travel induced costs.  It’s a lot of money.  And while it’d be nice if Craig made millions of dollars, he doesn’t.  🙂  We just can’t save this kind of money on our own in the time frame we have.


That’s where the fundraising comes in.  We’re counting on everyone around us to help us with this.  We need you.  Not only will you be helping to give an orphan a better life, you’ll be helping us show others that funding an adoption IS POSSIBLE.  You’ll be answering God’s call to ALL believers to care for orphans and widows.  And we fully believe that God will bless you for your gift.  Whether is financial, prayer, time, etc.  God will bless your gift.

Hopefully that answered some questions for those who might have been confused.  Feel free to ask away if you have more.  🙂

When Adoption Hurts

I dare you: ask any person who has been through (or is going through) the adoption process if it was easy.  I can guarantee you their answer will be “no”.  But ask that same person if it was worth it in the end and their answer will be “most definitely”.

Some of our best friends are going through the not-so-easy part of their adoption.  Through a series of (speedy!) circumstances that could have only happened by the power of God, they are almost through adopting the most adorable little boy.  Seriously, y’all.  This kid’s a CUTIE!  But they’ve hit a bump in the road.  If the worst were to happen (and none of us expect it to), they would lose their little boy.  Adoption isn’t easy.  It has the potential to be filled with frustration, heartache, and fear.  I’m glad we realize that now, before we really get started with the process.  We’re going to have our own bumps to get around in the next 2+ years.  Especially adopting from Ethiopia.  We’ll get to that in a future point.  But children are worth fighting for.  Our future child is worth fighting for.  Our friends’ son is worth fighting for.

Please join our family as we pray for these friends of ours.  Pray that God’s hand will remain over their little boy and that His protection will be constant.  Pray that they will have peace over the next several months as they wait on God’s timing.

Pray that the corruption involved in adoption will be stopped.

Pray that our adoption journey will be as painless as possible.  Pray that our family will remain in God’s will throughout this process and that we will be able to bring our child home in His timing.

HIV+

Disclaimer:  The following post has no direct relation to our adoption.  We haven’t even discussed adopting a child with HIV/AIDS.  Please don’t freak out on us.  But the following information needs to be shared.  And we have an avenue (this blog) to share it.

I think it goes without saying that since we made the decision to adopt, I’ve been following a lot of blogs of adoptive parents.  Especially parents who have/are adopting overseas.  I have a few favorite blogs, one of which is written by Natalie.  Just within the last week Natalie posted over on her blog about HIV.   What I read ASTOUNDED me.  Sadly, I grew up believing the stigma that HIV is bad.  Very, very bad.  Up until a week ago I believed people when they told me we needed to stay far away from kids with HIV.  To anyone who has HIV/AIDS: I’m so sorry I believed the lies.  I’m sorry for the stigma our society has placed on you.  To everyone who believes the stigma I used to believe: DON’T.  I want to give you some facts about HIV.  Together we can educate people and change how the world looks at these innocent children.

In 2009 the Kaiser Family Foundation conducted a study titled Survey of Americans About HIV/AIDS which found that levels of knowledge about HIV/AIDS has not increased in the US since 1987.. Let’s change that.

3.8 million Ethiopian children have lost one parent due to HIV/AIDS.  Our future child might be an orphan because of HIV/AIDS.  Did you know there are medicines out there that are so effective that HIV cannot be traced in the blood of someone infected?  These medicines can help people infected with HIV to live normal, healthy lives.  Yet those in Africa don’t have access to this medicine.  It’s expensive.

HIV can ONLY transmitted through needles, sex, and breast milk/childbirth.  And even then – if the person with the disease is being treated with proper medication – transmission doesn’t always occur.

HIV can NOT be transmitted through insects, saliva, sweat, tears, casual contact, sharing dishes, or kissing.

There are NO documented cases of HIV being transmitted through normal family/school/work life.  The virus begins to die as soon as it leaves the body.  This makes it nearly impossible to be transmitted even through blood.

We don’t need to fear these children.  They’ve done nothing to deserve the stigma we have placed on them.   Don’t avoid your neighbor with HIV.  Don’t ignore the child at school with HIV.   Don’t talk about it behind their backs.  Don’t leave them as outcasts.  Teach your family to practice the proper barrier method of wound care (which we should all do regardless of HIV), safe sex, and common sense (don’t share needles!) and there’s nothing at all to worry about.

For more info on HIV/AIDS visit Project Hopeful.   Most of the facts I’ve used are from them.  They’re legit.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VE9XnX7WRog&feature=player_embedded

 

 

Agency

We’d finally decided on an adoption agency (and location) and are almost finished with our formal application. We just need a picture of our house and we can pay the application fee and send it off! (I’m waiting until the grass is mowed to do this lol.)

Once that is finished, the application will be processed. If we are officially approved, we will begin the real work: home studies, dossier prep, doctors checkups, etc. We’ll keep you posted.

Why We’re Adopting

God has been up to some pretty big stuff lately.  Obviously.  We’re adopting.  Internationally.  There’s nothing little about that.  Several of you have asked how we got to the point of making such a huge decision for our family.  Here’s where I attempt to put into words some of what God has done to lead us to this point.

For the last couple of months I’ve been having feelings of being “unsettled”.  Something just wasn’t right.  I kept feeling that God had something bigger for me out there.  That I’m missing something.  I’m not complete yet.  Until now, that feeling was a huge downer for me.  And a bit confusing.  I know God’s called me to be the best mother I can be which, for our family, means I stay home with our kids.  How can there be something else bigger than that for me?  How is my family not my first priority?  Talk about conflicting emotions.  I even saw my family doctor to rule out thyroid diseases and other things that can physiologically cause the “tiredness” and unrest.  Everything checked out fine, by the way.

A few weeks ago I was surfing facebook and found myself begging to God.  “God, give me something to fight for.  Give me a cause – something to invest in.  Something I can do to bring You glory.”

No sooner did I pray that prayer, did I see a link to an article pop up on Facebook via a high school friend.  I didn’t read it right away, but sat down to read it while the kids napped.  I’ll warn you now, this article is not for the faint of heart.  Make sure you’re in the position where you can really sit down and read it if you choose to.  This is the article: http://www.nogreaterjoymom.com/2012/02/if-not-usthen-who.html. To sum it up,  there are children around the world who are considered “less than perfect”.  These sweet babies are placed in orphanages.  If they haven’t been adopted by the time they are 4 or 5 years old, they are almost always placed in institutions and live out the rest of their lives in a crib.  With no one to love them.  No family to give hugs and kisses.  No siblings to chase around the house.  No quality of life at all.  I read through that post and my heart shattered.  To read about such inhumanity broke my heart.  And yet there was joy there too.  Because the entire time I read that article I could hear God whispering (it was so clear it could have been audible) “This blog post was for you.  This is what I want for you.  This is your cause.

Talk about an eye opener!  He told me just enough to catch my attention and give me a direction to follow, but not enough to answer any of my unending questions.

Questions such as: Are we supposed to adopt?  Am I supposed to go on a mission trip to one of these orphanages?  Are we supposed to help support families who are adopting these kids?  WHERE ARE YOU LEADING ME?!?!

That night I mentioned the article to Craig and told him how confused it left me.  He didn’t say much, but didn’t write it off either.  A few days later he ran into a man who was raising money to adopt a child internationally.  Coincidence?  Probably not.  But it started up a conversation between the two of us in which I found out that Craig was indeed thinking about this.  At least to some extent.  He even mentioned it to his mom.  Hearing that he didn’t think I was crazy gave me some confidence.  I got online and started following some blogs of families who have adopted.  The more I read, the more I found myself sharing in their sorrows and their joy.  And the more open I become to the idea that maybe this is what God was calling us to.

Exactly a week after reading that blog post, we made the “official” decision to pursue international adoption.  Looking back on that experience, even as near to us as it still is, I can see God’s hand at work leading us here.  And I must admit, I could feel God calling us to adopt even as I read that blog.  But I was scared and overwhelmed by the permanency of adoption and I let my fear make me think I didn’t know what God wanted.  However, we can’t run from God for long and I soon realized the blessing this adoption is going to be for our family and for the child we adopt.  And the avenue it’s going to give us to make a difference – even if just a little one.

Our First Big Fundraiser

Hi friends!

We’re in the planning process for the first big fundraiser event for our adoption.  I’m really excited about it!  My friend Heather is the brains behind it and is going to make it so fantastic!  It’s such a great idea that if I wasn’t the one helping to plan it, I’d be enjoying it myself!  Do you want to know what it is?  Keep reading!

At the end of April we will be throwing a “date night” of sorts for couples in the Moncks Corner area.  It will be held at the pavilion area at Foxbank Plantation and will be a fun-filled night of live music, dancing, appetizers, dinner, dessert, candlelight, and more.

We’re looking for people to help us with planning and executing the event.  If you’d like to help, PLEASE let me know.  We’ll need all of the help we can get to pull this off!

Some areas of help we are going to need:

  • People to make/bring appetizers
  • People to make/bring desserts
  • People to help with dinner prep
  • Decorators
  • Clean up crew
  • Food servers
  • Ticket collectors
  • People to spread the word about it!

And, of course, we’ll need lots of people buying tickets.  🙂

There’s nothing like a toddler

If you looked up the definition of ham  in the dictionary, this picture of our firstborn would be what you’d find.  He’s just that: a ham.

We’ve been watching a lot of Finding Nemo lately.  It’s the only movie Nathan requests to watch.  And he’ll watch the entire thing from start to finish.  That says a lot since the kid rarely sits still.  Anyway.  We were on the way home from the Children’s Museum yesterday and after about 10 minutes of screaming, Alex started laughing at Nathan.  With a sigh of relief I relaxed my knuckles on the steering wheel a bit took a couple of deep breaths.  (Screaming in the car is the worst.  Especially when it’s your fault because you left the paci at home.)  While Alex is fake laughing from time to time at Nathan I hear from the backseat:

“No Alex.  That’s not funny!”  pause  “And I know funny.  I’m a clownfish!”  (A line straight from Marlin out of Finding Nemo.)

WHAT IN THE WORLD?!  My 2 year old just recited a line from a real movie.  And knew exactly what situation to apply it to.

The bad part is that he’s at this sensitive stage of life where you have to pretend you don’t know what he’s doing or he’ll get embarrassed.  So I’m sitting in the front seat trying my best to master a silent, hysterical laugh.  Difficult, let me assure you.

He’s since repeated the incidence several times today.  And it never gets old.  I love this kid.