Sunday, March 22, 2009

Look what we got in the mail yesterday!

Our adoption planner has arrived! And with it came lots of stress.
The planner is mostly just instructions on how to fill out all the documents for our dossier. The dossier documents themselves are on a cd so that we can print out as many copies as we need. You know there is trouble ahead when you have an entire binder of information just to instruct you on how to fill out some forms. We already have a page of questions for our case manager on Monday. When I was a junior in high school our basketball coach gave us all Christmas gifts that described us in some way. What did I get? A magic 8 ball. Apparently, I tend to ask a lot of questions =)
Along with our planner we received a workbook that we have to complete as part of our education requirement. It's about 200 pages of questions, scenarios, and information for us to think through. When we are finished with it, we have to take 6 online courses and in our free time, we are supposed to be reading some books. I think it's safe to say that the next month or two will be very busy. Hope you are enjoying your Sunday!


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Moving Right Along...

Today someone from our agency called to let us know that our documents had arrived. They put our adoption planner and dossier papers in the mail, so hopefully we will get them sometime this weekend. They also went ahead and set up our next phone appointment for Monday. During that call we will get to talk with our case manager, who will be with us throughout the rest of the process, and she will talk us through all the paperwork that we will be filling out in the weeks ahead. So far, we have been very pleased with our agency. They are very personable, answer any questions that we have, and are extremely prompt. I can't wait to get started on all the paperwork! This is where my strange love of worksheets comes in handy...


Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Today we mailed in our contracts, making us official clients of AGCI. I was expecting to be a little nervous because with our paperwork we had to send in a large check. However, as Brian and I were about to mail it in, we discovered that our fears were not about the money. Instead we were asking questions such as “What if we are terrible parents?” or “What if we can’t handle the difficulties that come with being white parents raising a black child?” These questions and many others often threaten to overtake us. They come from some very real fears. Fears of inadequacy, fears of failure, and fears of the unknown, to name a few. However, when we start to ask these questions we must quickly think of the alternative. “If we don’t adopt, who will care for this child?” “Who will feed him, love him, and tuck him in at night?” and most importantly, “Who will teach him about Jesus and the sacrifice that has been made on our behalf?” Yes, we know that our child will face many hardships growing up here with us, yet our fears of what this child would face if left alone are greater. Our pastor said on Sunday that the opposite of fear is trusting in the Lord. He explained how a lot of our fears come from the fear of man, fearing people and their opinions, more than fearing God and His opinion. This is so true too many times in my own life. My hope is that God will use this process to teach us more about trusting in Him, and that each time we are faced with fear, we will choose to believe God’s promises over our fears, and choose to fear God, more than man.

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

Isaiah 41:10
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.


Monday, March 16, 2009


We've read a few books lately and we'd like to highly recommend a couple of them to you all. For me, these books have played an important role in my change in perspective over the last couple of months, which I'll specifically write about another day.

I've never been a big reader like Heather, but I've had this unquenchable thirst lately for more knowledge about orphans and about Africa. That thirst did not overtake me until I spent months praying. I prayed for a stronger desire to help
and for compassion. These books helped educate me but also helped put a suffering face with the overwhelming numbers I've read about. 5,000,000 orphans in Ethiopia alone was (and still is in a lot of ways) an abstract number to me. But those are not just 0's behind that 5, they are representative of children dying alone everyday. With so many orphans in Africa, adoption is not THE answer, it's just one way to help and make a difference. Africa needs the rich world to care and to act. These books made that clear to me for the first time. I don't think "Love thy neighbor" leaves me the right to pick which neighbor I'm going to love, though I've lived most of my life as if it really was a choice I had.

Regardless of location in the world, skin color, disease or any other factor, we are created to care. To say I care and do nothing in response is empty and useless. Unfortunately, it's been my "normal" for a long time. At the very best, I've chosen when to care based on when it was convenient for me and was only moved to action in some of those cases. I question now if I ever truly cared about anything that I didn't act on. Caring equals action. I've read it so many times but so rarely practiced it that I'm ashamed.

14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. James 2:14 & 17

Ok, enough of being frustrated with myself, on to the books...

There is No Me Without You by Melissa Fay Greene follows a middle class Ethiopian woman's efforts to save as many orphans as she can. It is one of the most powerful books I've ever read in that it shattered much of the ignorance I've hidden behind for all of these years. It's made me question why I've not cared for so long; at least not cared enough to ACT. Why do I sit on my hands so often? This book is not short and not light-hearted. It will challenge you. It opened our eyes in more ways than we can count. We highly, highly recommend it.

Click here to read more.

Fields of the Fatherless by Tom Davis is not one person's story, but it encourages its reader to love the orphan and "the least of these." Davis explores the Bible in an effort to identify how caring for the fatherless is a way to live out the Great Commision in our lives. Here's a note Davis shares from a Russian orphan:

I hated my life since the third grade when I was unmercifully beaten. I felt then that life is lost and death is looking for me. And my tears were telling me that life was nothing in comparison with death. I felt like a little cockroach, which (responds in) fear when seen.
A bunch of American people came to our school. I thought these people wanted to laugh at us. But I was mistaken. They are people willing to give up the most precious gift a person can possess, love. (Their) intentions to share seemed strange as they had their own kids. But these people have such big hearts to give that there is still enough room even for us little cockroaches.
Then I began to feel myself not a cockroach anymore which deserved to be killed, but a little human being. It is a wonderful feeling. Believe me.

Click here to read more.

Thanks for reading,

Friday, March 13, 2009

Baby's First Presents!

This week Brian, Jr. (just kidding) got his first presents; one from Nana (Heather's mom, Pansy) and one from Heather. Both happened to be bibs, but they were both a surprise so I thought I'd post pictures. The "I Love Daddy" one just about made me cry. And yes, this is Brian writing, in case you had any doubts. Maybe Heather's rubbing off on me...

Thanks, Nana...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Orientation Packet

Our orientation packet just arrived! I was hoping it would come today but when it didn't come in the mail I thought it wouldn't be here until tomorrow. Then the UPS man came. It's amazing how a little envelope of information can bring such excitement. Then again, those of you who know me, probably aren't very surprised.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

An Overview of What's Ahead

We'd like to take a minute to give everyone an overview of where we're at in the process and what's ahead.

As of today, our application has been approved by our adoption agency, All God's Children International (AGCI)! Our preference is for a baby boy under the age of 1. AGCI estimates that from now, we'll have a 11 to 17 month wait before we bring our son home. We will not get a referral for many months, so we look forward to the day when we'll see a picture of him for the first time.

Here's a list of what's next:

-We'll receive an orientation packet in the mail sometime this week, and then we will have a phone orientation on Monday evening.
-Next we'll have a home study done and complete the dossier process along with education courses. The dossier is basically mountains of legal paperwork pertaining to the adoption. During this time we'll also have to apply with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
-AGCI will submit our dossier to the Ethiopian government for their review and approval.
-Once the government approves the paperwork, AGCI will refer a child to us.
-Once we accept the referral, Ethiopia will formally approve the adoption.
-We'll finally travel to Ethiopia to get him, complete his Immigrant Visa and bring him home!! We'll probably stay in-country about a week before returning, which will give us a chance to see the orphanage and a learn a little about our son's heritage.

Of course, with two governments involved, half the world apart, and all the paperwork, you can figure out why it takes so long! The process will be very thorough, as it should be.

Given the anticipated timeline, it's likely that our future son is being carried by his birth mother as we write this. Please join us in praying for them. While we are anticipating this child with joy, we are also filled with sadness because we know that for us to have the opportunity to care for him means that his birth family is not able to.

-Brian and Heather

Monday, March 9, 2009

Why Adopt From Ethiopia?

This is another question that we get a lot. First let us say that we know there are many children right here in the US that also need homes. Our hearts go out to them and we would love to one day be able to adopt domestically as well. We took a great deal of time, praying and thinking through this decision, of where we should adopt from first. Time and time again, both individually and as a couple, we kept coming back to Ethiopia. It is such a hard decision because we feel that all children, no matter their birth country, deserve a safe and loving home, and it seems so overwhelming to pick just one child for now. Here are a few of the reasons we decided on Ethiopia:
There are over 5 million orphans in Ethiopia alone
Last year 1,724 of these children were adopted to the US. That's only .0003 percent.
1 in 10 children there die before their 1st birthday
1 in 6 children die before their 5th birthday
Half the children in Ethiopia will never attend school
60% of children in Ethiopia are stunted because of malnutrition
1/3 of the population survive on less than $1 a day

These statistics are just a small glimpse of the many hardships facing Ethiopians today. The country has been ravished by drought, famine, and HIV/AIDS. Yet the people of Ethiopia continue on, trying to care for their country's children with limited resources and very little help. Adoption is not the answer to the cycle of poverty there. However, we cannot ignore the five million orphans that are waiting for someone to care for them. We are so thankful that we have the opportunity to adopt a child from this incredible country. God is teaching us so much already, and we know that our future son will be more a blessing to us than we will ever be to him. We are quickly learning that "We need Africa more than Africa needs us."


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Why Adopt?

For those of you who haven't heard, we have decided to adopt from Ethiopia! We hope that this blog will be a way for you, our friends and family, to follow along with us on this journey. We know a lot of you have questions, and we'd love to talk to you and answer anything that we can. To begin we thought we should answer the most basic question, "Why adopt?"
First and foremost, our decision to adopt is simply a reflection of the adoption we have experienced ourselves. In Ephesians 1, we read of our adoption in Christ:
3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace 8that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.

How amazing is that! That the God of the universe would choose not only to save us from our sins, but to actually adopt us into His family, giving us the title of son. This radical love of God is what motivates us to love others.
As you read through Scripture, it becomes evident that God has a special place in His heart for the poor and the orphans. There are 2,300 verses of Scripture pertaining to the poor. James 1:27 says
“Religion 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.”

In Psalm 68:5-6 we read
"a father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families."
Jesus tells us in Matthew 25
"I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."
Bono wraps it up nicely: "In the scriptures we are not advised to love our neighbor, we are commanded. The Church needs to lead the way here, not drag its heels... But I tell you, God is not looking for alms; God is looking for action. He is not just looking for our loose change--He's looking for a tighter contract between us and our neighbor." We have been learning that if you are a believer, the question is not, "Are you called to care for orphans?" but rather, "HOW are you called to care for orphans?" Right now there are roughly 147 million orphans in the world. It is estimated that if only seven percent of Christians would adopt just one child, there would be no orphans left. Each of these children is made in the image of God and is precious to Him. We have decided that adoption is one way for us to live out the Great Commission at this time in our lives.