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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Absolutely Heartbreaking

One of the great champions of international adoption, well-known Christian singer Steven Curtis Chapman, adoptive father of 3 sweet girls from China, lost the youngest of his beautiful children today in a horrific accident. You can read about it here. My heart breaks for the whole family. Please pray for them ALL right now. I just cannot even fathom the pain they are all experiencing. It is absolutely hearbreaking.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Right. Now.

That is when I want to get my baby from Ethiopia.

Here are just a few reasons (follow the links and read the comments).

And here is another.

Come to think of it, yesterday would have been better.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Oh Yeah, Those Big Things

Here is the official announcement of the aforementioned Big Things:


The following is an excerpt from the official e-nnouncement we sent to our families that answers some questions and gives some background on our adoption:

Why adoption?
The number one reason we are adopting is because we wanted another child. We love being parents and Thing 3 has reminded us just how much we enjoy "babyhood". (Thing 3 will be between 2 and 3 years old when number 4 arrives home so we will not be double-babied, just fyi) However, given the great difficulty we have had with pregnancies, particularly the last one, we struggled with what to do. God planted a little seed about this almost a year ago and we have spent the better part of the last year praying, studying, researching, reading, and praying some more about the possibility of growing our family through adoption rather than childbirth. There are many, many children in this world that need parents. Having been blessed with three biological children, knowing there are children that desperately need a family, and having the desire to bring another into our family makes adoption the perfect avenue for us. The vision we have to adopt is truly from God and He has blessed us with many confirmations while we have acted on that vision.

Why International? Why not a U.S. child?
In researching adoption, it became clear to us that international was the best path for us at this time in our lives. Many international adoptees live in circumstances that we here in the U.S. would find unimaginable. It is for a child like this that we desire to provide a home, family, and a better chance at life. The children are either abandoned or orphaned. There is no chance of being reunited with birth parents as many of them have died or live in such extreme poverty there is no chance for a child to survive. Though international adoption is more costly financially, it has many more substantial returns such as enriching our family culturally and racially, as well as giving a child with the greatest need a family that desperately wants to give them all that they need--and then some!

Why Ethiopia?

For many months we carefully researched and read all of our options in international adoption. We thought our desire was first with China, but the wait times are incredibly long and we would have had to start the process when Thing 3 was pretty small still to be able to bring our child home in the next FOUR YEARS (or more!) and we weren't ready to take the plunge into adoption at that point. Ethiopia popped up as an option but we automatically resisted it thinking it might just be more than we could handle to be both adopting AND adopting "conspicuously" transracially and we felt ill-equipped for the special challenges that would bring. However, despite our uncertainty, we kept being led back to Ethiopia and couldn't seem to get away from it. The more we read about Ethiopia we knew that our child was to come from there. The Ethiopian people have a very strong sense of community. It is a culturally rich and beautiful country. They value children highly and live out "It takes a village to raise a child". Adopted Ethiopian children attach easily to their new parents because they are loved well by their people. (In fact, our agency actually has their own transitional orphan care home in Addis Ababa for those children who qualify for adoption and we have heard many rumors of the biggest problem being the babies and children are getting "spoiled" by all the love they receive there!) The incidence of drug and alcohol use in pregnancy is practically non-existent due to the highly religious nature of Ethiopians. Because of HIV, Malaria, Hepatitis, and poor nutrition there are over 4 million orphans in need of families. Our desire for a child seemed to mesh perfectly with their needs for families-truly a God thing! :)

How are you going to raise a black child?

Since there are rarely any native sub-Saharan Africans with white skin (ha ha), chances are pretty good our child will not be white either. Therefore, there will be unique challenges in raising our next child that we will not experience with our current Things---not the least of which is what to do with their hair!! We are doing all we can now to prepare ourselves for those challenges. A unique aspect of adoption is that unlike biological, you know ahead of time some of the challenges you will face. We have become serious students of caring for African skin and hair (a true art and job in and of itself!) as well as pursing many learning opportunities to learn about African culture and foods. We have made several African friends in the process and have been greatly blessed because of it (but not by some of our attempts at African cuisine-that is a skill still needing some, um, tweaking, around here :) We will also complete many required education courses as part of the adoption process that deal with transracial adoption issues. We are very excited and honored to have this opportunity to bring home our next child from Ethiopia. We look forward to the unique experiences that having a child from Ethiopia will bring to our family. It is our goal to raise our children to not only value their own culture, but to value and see the beauty in all the cultures of the world.

What about the health of your child?

Our child will be healthy by third world standards, simply due to the sad fact that those who are not healthy just do not survive due to poor nutrition and lack of medical care. Baby #4 will be tested for disease including HIV and Hepatitis. The nutrition s/he will receive while in our agency's orphanage will be at least adequate. All of the documentation we receive on our child when first referred must be submitted to and reviewed by an International Adoption Specialist MD and he or she is trained specifically in the "lingo" of international health issues. We must have this review to be able to accept or decline the child referred to us so we will know as much as possible about our child's health when we accept our referral (note: "referral" means when they match a child to you and send you the info on that child and we can either accept or decline the referral at that point). There is a good chance our child will have some minor health concerns such as parasites (charming, eh??) or be somewhat smaller in size but those things can be immediately and easily remedied by simple medicine and good nutrition.

When will you bring Baby #4 home?

Well, that's a good question. Going through an international adoption is arduous. Not only are we constantly weighing our motives and desires; we are weighed by all those around us. We will have to open our home and lives to scrutiny by social workers, doctors, financial institutions, local government, the State Police, and the FBI. We will complete hours of education, tons and TONS of paperwork (which we already are developing hand cramps from and are signing things in our sleep!), and get creative financially in order to be able to bring our child home. The whole process takes roughly between 12 and 18 months. The next month or 2 will be a big flurry of paperwork, home study, financial figuring and getting things together for what is called a dossier. This dossier is our complete package of documents, certifications, home study, etc. that must be government certified, translated and submitted to the Ethiopian government for review. If we meet all of their requirements and approval, we will then be placed on a waiting list for our referral. This is estimated at close to 6 months (for an infant) after the dossier is submitted. From that point, we must wait to be assigned a court date in Ethiopia-typically 3-5 months post referral- where the court will review our case and approve or refuse our adoption-and refusals/delays are not uncommon if there are any missing pieces of info. This can also be tricky b/c the Ethiopian courts close for a month or 2 for their new year in the summer so this timing is sort of up in the air. Once we pass court in Ethiopia, the child is "officially" ours, even though we have never met them yet!! After court, we travel to Addis Ababa to meet our sweet baby for the first time-woo hoo!!! If we get all our paperwork and financial stuff together ASAP, we are praying to get our referral around Christmas this year but it will most likely be in early 2009. Like we said, it is a long process, but so worth it!!!

So there you have it-that's the general gist of things with us. We are thrilled about this but know we have a ways to go in our process. Thanks for reading along and we'd love your prayers and encouragement along the way!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Best Birthday Present Ever

SO, it was sweet little Thing 2's 6th birthday yesterday!! And as a HUGE surprise, Mommy went against her better judgement and aforestated adamant refusals agaist rodents, and got Mimi a surprise-a hamster!!! Mommy stayed up till 1 a.m. getting the "habitat" all ready and perfect, getting a sign made for the cage, giving hammy food and water and making everything perfect. Mommy and Daddy were VERY excited to give Thing 2 this perfect surprise that she was not expecting AT ALL. They even had a hard time sleeping they were SO excited to see her face in the morning when she saw her surprise! Turns out we were ALL surprised in the morning to come down and see the hamster in it's cage-b/c it was dead.

Do we know how to do birthdays right around here or what????? What a great memory maker.....