Thursday, December 23, 2010

All I Really Want



Well I don’t know if you remember me or not
I’m one of the kids they brought in from the home
I was the red-haired boy in an old green flannel shirt
You may not have seen me – I was standing off alone
I didn’t come and talk to you, ‘cause that’s never worked before
And you’ll prob’ly never see this letter anyway
But just in case there’s something you can do to help me out
I’ll ask you one more time

All I really want for Christmas
Is someone to tuck me in
A shoulder to cry on if I lose
Shoulders to ride on if I win
There’s so much I could ask for
But there’s just one thing I need
All I really want for Christmas is a family

Well I guess I should go ahead and tell you now
If it’s really true about that list you have
Somehow I always seem to end up in a fight
But I’m really trying hard not to be bad
But maybe if I had a brother or a dad to wrestle with
Well, maybe they could teach me how to get along
And from everything I’ve heard
Sounds like the greatest gift on earth would be a mom

Is someone who’ll be there
To sing me “Happy Birthday”
For the next 100 years
And it’s OK if they’re not perfect
Well, even if they’re a little broken, that’s alright
‘Cause so am I

Well, I guess I should go
It’s almost time for bed
And maybe next time I write you
I’ll be at home

‘Cause all I really want for Christmas
Is someone to tuck me in
Tell me I’ll never be alone
Someone whose love will never end
Of all that I could ask for
Well, there’s just one thing I need
All I really want for Christmas
All I really want for Christmas is a family

Just a family
That’s all I really need

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Warning: Tissues Needed!

There's a little girl trembling on a cold December morn
Crying for momma's arms
At an orphanage just outside a little China town
There the forgotten are

But half a world away I hang the stockings by the fire
And dream about the day when I can finally call you mine

It's Christmas time again but you're not home
Your family is here and yet you're somewhere else alone
And so tonight I pray that God will come and hold you in his arms
And tell you from my heart I wish you Merry Christmas

As I hang the tinsel on the tree and watch the twinkling lights
I'm warmed by the fire's glow
Outside the children tumble in a wonderland of white,
Make angels in the snow

But half a world away you try your best to fight the tears
And hope that heaven's angels come to carry you here

It's Christmas time again but you're not home
Your family is here and yet you're somewhere else alone
And so tonight I pray that God will come and hold you in his arms
And tell you from my heart I wish you Merry Christmas

Christmas is a time to celebrate the holy child
And we celebrate his perfect gift of love
He came to earth to give his life
And prepare a place for us
So we could have a home with him above

It's Christmas time again and now you're home
Your family is here so you will never be alone
So tonight before you go to sleep, I'll hold you in my arms
And I'll tell you from my heart, and I'll you from my heart
I wish you Merry Christmas

Little Ones-Merry Christmas!!! We're preparing a place for you and rejoicing you'll be home next year for Christmas!

Monday, December 6, 2010

REFERRAL DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

"Like cold water to a weary soul
is good news from a distant land."
Proverbs 25:25

We are so grateful and excited to share with you all that we received our referral last Thursday, December 2nd! Little Boy M just turned 3 years old and Baby Girl H is not quite 4 months old. It has been a long wait and some days we wondered if we would ever hear those long awaited words, "we have your referral." We cannot begin to even describe the mixture of emotions that day held. Grief for these little ones and all they've lost and suffered and yet tremendous joy in knowing we get to play a part in God's plan of restoration for them! It is truly awesome!

Seeing their pictures was incredible! I would've never said I believed in love at first sight...until I saw them. I saw him first and my heart instantly melted. I felt such intense grief for him and all he'd lost and yet the joy of knowing he would be my SON filled me with such love and hope for him. When I looked in his eyes, it was like I'd always known him. He has captured our hearts!

When I saw her it was nothing but sweetness and joy. She's sleeping in our pictures so I still have yet to see her with her eyes open. I honestly never expected a little one so young, so that was a special blessing! I got such intense butterflies looking at her. She is such a sweetie!!! I feel like she's my song...when I think of her I can't help but want to sing!

Here are some common questions we've gotten and the answers to the best of our knowledge.

Are they related?
No, they are not biologically related. But, they'll be brother and sister in our family:)!

Can't you post pictures, names, etc?
Unfortunately because of legal rules we cannot post any pictures or personal info about the kids until our adoption is finalized which happens on our first trip. We do have pictures on us and can show those in person.

When can you travel?
We're hoping to maybe travel in March sometime. There are many variables that play into this, but that's our best guess at this point.

When will your second trip be?
Our second trip will be 4-6 weeks after the first trip. The first trip is our court date where we legally adopt them at the Ethiopian court. Our second trip is for our Embassy appointment where the kids will receive passports and visas.

What's next?
Next we wait for a second round of medical testing to be done. After that, our paperwork is submitted to court and we wait for a date.

Feel free to ask any other questions and we'll do our best to answer them. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all the prayer and support!!! You have all played such a vital part in the lives of our children already and we are grateful to the Lord for you all! Keep praying with us as we await their safe arrival into our arms.
Little Ones-The day has come and we've seen your faces! It was sweeter than we ever imagined it would be. The thought of holding you and bringing you home into this family brings joy unspeakable into our hearts! You are so treasured and special to us. We're so glad we found you both and anxiously await the day you are finally HOME! We love you!

Here are some photos that capture all the emotions wrapped up in seeing their faces.







ALL PRAISE AND GLORY BE TO GOD!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Wealth Purposed for Blessing

Is anyone else in shock that Thanksgiving is almost a week away and Christmas close on it's heels?!? Check this out. These links take you to blogs that list places you can shop this Christmas where 100% of the proceeds go to an adoption, orphanage, orphan/widow care, and more. Even if nothing fits your Christmas shopping list, it's neat to see God's people creatively using their gifts to create wealth purposed for blessing! Feel free to add any other organization in the comments section if you don't see them on these links. Happy shopping:)!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Weekend Summary!

We are humbled by the love, prayer, and support that our family, church family, and friends surrounded us and our children with on Orphan Sunday. IT. WAS. AWESOME. We had a tremendous outpouring of generosity and have now raised over $6400 toward our adoption (since September)!

So, the whole day was anything beyond what we imagined it would be. First of all, we spent the weekend at the Mid-Atlantic Orphan Summit. My sister and 3 other friends joined us there Friday-Saturday. Breathing living testimonies, speakers, break-out sessions, new friends:), justice ministries, and so much more. The conference was Christ centered, gospel focused, and the people involved were so humble. I'm so glad we went!

Then on Sunday, our church family gathered for Orphan Sunday. We watched the video put out by Cry of the Orphan for Sunday School and then had a worship time focused on "The Spirit of Adoption". God stirred our hearts and I think brought all of us to a place of renewed gratitude for our personal adoption stories into His family. Sunday night we had a spaghetti dinner, heard adoption testimonies, watched videos, heard hearts shared, prayed, and auctioned off the beautiful items that were listed in previous posts. It was fun, heart wrenching, inspiring, overwhelming, and encouraging all at the same time. God brought together a night that we believe glorified Him and united our hearts with one another, our 2 little ones in Ethiopia, and orphans around the world. There was such a spirit of family throughout the whole day. These little ones have a whole church carrying them with their mom and dad and praying them home! After all, we're not the only ones adopting them:).

THANK YOU SO MUCH to everyone who helped out! People not only were supportive of this day, but they made it happen for us! So, I'm sure many of you are wondering how much the items went for, right?

Here's the rundown:
Chest-$500
   My brother and sister-in-law (who made it) got it and then turned around and gave it to us!!! We were blown away by that.
Patchwork Quilt- $400
   All my brothers and sisters got this and then, AGAIN, turned around and gave it to us!
Primitive Shelf- $300
Window Mirror- $200
Table Runner- $50
Hardwood Mirror Shelf with Hooks- $270
Bath Gift Basket- $75
Crocheted Afghan- $60
Apple Pie- $75
Walnut Wooden Bowl- $50

You know 20 years from now, we won't remember how much money we raised, what color tablecloths we chose, or what the date was. But, what we will remember, is the love that was shared, the hearts that were stirred, and most of all, the faces of the 2 precious children the Lord's bringing into this family. Please continue to pray with us on this journey.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Perfect Exclamation Point!

So, here's the chest I said was coming...and it was well worth the wait!
 Handcrafted Poplar Wood Chest!
Take note of the Africa-heart engraved on the inside lid, bottom right corner.

Monday, November 1, 2010

More Items!

Here are several more auction items. Also, if you missed it, check out the other items in the previous post.

Bidding for all items will open Sunday, November 7th at 8:30 AM and go until the end of the evening program. Remember, we will ship items! Email me at RJCote84@aol.com with any questions or bids. We are so excited for this special evening!
*Little Ones-we wish you could see how much your family loves you! 
My sister made this primitive/distressed shelf. It's a cream/linen color. Great piece for any homespun antique decorators! 
 Here's a close-up of the distressed look.
Antique 1920's refinished window mirror. Who knew an old window could look so neat! Black distressed antique finish.
 Here's a close-up of the distressed finish.
There's one more item coming! My very handy brother is making one of his famous toy/blanket chests!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Check it Out...

Orphan Sunday
*From Ethiopia to Our Hearts*
A Fundraising Event Benefiting Our Ethiopian Adoption
Sunday, November 7 at 5:30

-Spaghetti Dinner (no cost-special offering will be received)
-Our testimony as well as those of other families who have adopted, including WJTL Station Manager Fred McNaughton
-Teaching focused on God's justice for orphans, with Anne Pierson, of Loving & Caring
-Silent Auction for several handcrafted items
*RSVP with the number of people coming to the meal to ZionChurch@aol.com or 717-872-2141

Pictured below are some of the auction items that have been donated. Most of the items were handmade by our awesome family! We will ship items out of state:). If you are unable to come, but would like to place a bid, please email me at RJCote84@aol.com

 Bath and Soap Gift Basket (soaps, lotions, bath salts, oils, candle, washcloths, and more!)
 Hand sewn autumn table runner. Perfect addition to the table for Thanksgiving dinner! (42x16 inches)
 Hand sewn patchwork blanket. This is absolutely beautiful and fleece-lined! I love Africa in the bottom corner with the heart over Ethiopia:). 5x4 feet
 Here's a close-up of the fabrics and the Ethiopia-heart feature.
Beautiful hardwood shelf with 4 wrought iron hooks and an oval mirror. 36x16 inches

More Items Coming...check back soon!!!

Monday, October 18, 2010

*H*O*P*E*


It seems that referrals have started moving again in Ethiopia. Last week 3 of the adoption clocks jumped ahead!!! As our agency said in their last newsletter, "Recent referrals finally nudged us forward a bit, with the anticipation of more exciting activity soon". Eveidently, there are more referrals to come! We don't expect our referrals to be in this "movement", but it should certainly move us closer to our little ones! We learned that most of the referrals being made right now are from, Soddo, the orphanage we specifically prayed for several weeks ago where they had 58 children in a 25 children capacity orphanage. This is an answer to prayer and we're so grateful!

I've been thinking a lot about the word hope lately. I so often limit hope to something more like "wishful thinking" or wanting circumstances to change. I hope it doesn't rain today...I hope I don't run out of gas...I hope I remember that meeting after school...I hope we get a referral soon...I hope we're not late. Biblical hope has nothing to do with my circumstances really, but rather everything to do with the person of Jesus Christ within any circumstance.

When biblical hope is produced in me, my life thrives and grows like a well watered tree that is a blessing to those around me. When hope is not present, my world too quickly unravels and I'm the only one left in it! I become the center and look to my circumstances to assure me that I'm ok. I sometimes find hope being this illusive thing I'm trying to grab hold of. During those intense "heart yearning" days for these little ones, it seems the more I grasp at hope the harder it is to find. Oh to abide in Jesus as my starting and ending place, so through the Holy Spirit, hope is abounding in me!

The theme verse from our wedding has the word hope in it 2 times. I remember we both really loved the verse and wanted to use it. It's actually framed in our house 3 times (various gifts from friends). I remember putting all the frames up and thinking, do I really need this verse up 3 times in my house? We did and we do. It's a constant reminder that it's through the power of the Holy Spirit that we hope. I wanted to share a few verses about hope that have meant a lot during this journey.

Do you have a favorite verse/thought/quote about hope? I'd love to hear it:)!

Our Wedding Theme Verse: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.
Proverbs 13:12

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
Romans 8:22-25

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1

And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
Romans 5:2-5

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The African Children's Choir

This weekend we went to see The African Children's Choir. Wow, what an incredible gift! It was truly a special blessing on this adoption journey. To see their beautiful faces full of JOY and to see God glorified through them was so stirring. At one point each child stated their name and what they want to be when they grow up: doctors, teachers, hair dressers, preachers, lawyers, nurses, and more. That's when I handed the tissues out! If you have never heard of them, I encourage you to visit their website to read more.  http://africanchildrenschoir.com/  You can also look them up on youtube to see video footage. Here are some pictures from the evening.






Friday, September 24, 2010

When there's nothing left to do...SING!

Check out this link and watch this powerful song/video off of Compassion Art...you'll be blessed.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2x22CkAEeA

Thank you everyone for joining us in prayer this week! Nothing to report yet, but we are hoping and praying to hear some positive news soon. More than ever, everything is totally out of our control...we're powerless. But, I am so grateful we serve a powerful God who is close to the widow and orphan. I find this song so encouraging right now...'there is always a song and I'll try to sing along over you".

Little ones, we're singing over you and praying our hearts out for you; singing of our joy to come. You've already changed our lives and we haven't even seen your faces...but oh how we long for that sweet day! 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Day of Prayer

Tomorrow (monday), we along with our church family are setting aside a special day of prayer for orphans in Ethiopia. Last week we were informed of documentation delays (see previous post) which has led to precious children...sitting....waiting....afraid...alone...outside and inside orphanages. Our agency has put a call out for God's people to join them in prayer. Today, our church family laid hands on us and lifted this whole situation before the throne of our God. What a special experience to be surrounded by our brothers and sisters in Christ. We've set aside tomorrow to join together in prayer at the start of this week. If you read this blog, please join us in praying for this situation; specifically for the Sodo orphanage to see doors open.

"Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my sighing. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to You I pray. In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation."
Psalm 5:1-3

Friday, September 17, 2010

Pray

We received an email from our agency yesterday sharing a little bit about why referrals have been so slow the past few months. Evidently, they keep adding documentation that is needed for a child to be referred to a waiting family. Below is part of the email we received that further explains the situation...please join us in praying that God would move in this situation and that we would all continue to put our trust in HIM! There's a good chance that our children could be waiting in the orphanage from the way things sound. It's a pretty weighty realization for us...

"...if we had documents for all the children in the various child care centers right now – the adoption clocks would suddenly jump ahead literally by months! Those children are sitting there, waiting for families to bring them home and love them. Countless others are outside, waiting to get in. What is holding up the process is documentation, and we can do absolutely nothing about it ourselves. 

Now, perhaps as never before, we need your prayers. God has told us to pray specifically so we know when He has answered. This week our prayer focus is on [one of the orphanages] where they are bursting at the seams with children and have only one social worker trying to complete documentation on all of them. They have been short-staffed for months and it is hard to find qualified social workers in such a remote location to fill the vacancies. The local Ministry of Women’s Affairs moved their office and put the process weeks behind. Officials keep adding new requirement in an effort to safeguard the process. This is good, but sometimes presents new challenges to the orphanage staff.  It seems to be one challenge after another, all conspiring to slow down the process of getting children’s cases ready for court.


This past week I read “Adopted For Life” by Russell D. Moore. He reminded me afresh that there are unseen forces who labor against adoption. We feel those every day, whether we recognize it or not.  Won’t you pray with me that God will defeat those forces and bring our children home?"
Please pray with us today!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Geography Lesson

So, where exactly is Ethiopia? Honestly, we could probably name about 10 African countries between the 2 of us when we started this whole process! One of the many things we've been doing during our wait is learning everything and anything we can about Ethiopia and Africa. We've been studying our african geography and thought some of you may want to join us. See how many contries you can name before looking at the map. Hopefully you'll do better than we did:)!

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Little Bit of Movement Goes a Long Way

There has been a little clock movement as of late which is very exciting! They actually added a new clock to clarify wait times for adopting 2 young children and age preferences. Kind of confusing, but doesn't really affect us too much.

Boys (0-24 months): August
Girls (0-24 months): September
2 Children (0-36 months): August
2 Children (0-48 months): NOVEMBER!!!!

We are on the 2 children (0-48 months) clock. This means they are currently working on families who got their dossier submitted in November. We got our dossier submitted in December, so we're getting closer! There's no telling how long it will take them to complete November families..days, weeks, months??? We'll just have to wait and see. We've had encouraging conversations with our case worker recently and are very hopeful that the next few months could hold our referrals. Please pray for steady referrals (not for children to come into the orphanages, but for paperwork to become ready for the little ones who have been sitting and waiting to be deemed "adoptable" so they can be referred to waiting families).

This past month God has been networking us with missionaries in Ethiopia, Ethiopia ministries, local orphan ministries, and within our own church. We are super excited to pull all this together for our first adoption fundraiser, Sunday, November 7th at 5:30. I'll do a separate post all about it, but please mark your calendars if you think you can make it!

Little ones-we're hoping and praying for you...can't wait to see your faces!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Somewhere Out There

I know blast from the past, but anyone remember the movie, American Tale? It was one of our favorites growing up. I woke up with this song in my head a few weeks ago and looked it up on Youtube. The lyrics are so sweet and I think anyone separated from ones they love can relate. Praying our little ones will SOON know that they have a mommy, daddy, and whole family who have been waiting and praying for them each step of the way!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Stirred-Humbled-Compelled

Well, after many traveling issues on the way down to Peru, we did finally make it there and had an awesome trip! The three words I keep using to describe the trip: stirring, humbling, and compelling. It was a remarkable time of serving in kingdom work in Peru alongside our brothers and sisters there. The Shipibo people are sweetly devoted to the Lord and grateful, grateful, did I mention grateful? What an example of people who are able to give thanks continually. And this gratefulness is driving them to radical abandonement for Jesus. Literally, several men we met leave in a few weeks to go deep DEEP into the jungle to share the gospel with uncontacted tribes. Uncontacted meaning they've never had human contact outside of their tribe. These men and their families know this is very dangerous and they may not return. But, they are so full with the gospel message that they have to share it. Oh to have the gospel so heavy upon us that we lay down our lives for it. It's hard to even put into words everything that happened. I've included a few pics to try to capture some images. I could go on and on about it, but one post would not be enough. I'll try to give highlights over the next few weeks.

On the adoption front...not too much to report (but we know that doesn't mean nothing's happening)! We continue to wait and pray for them. Remember, we're considered December. The clocks now read...
GIRLS: September
BOYS: August
TWO CHILDREN: October
So, after over a 2 month drought with no movement the girl clock finally moved ahead! This is the first time in CWA history that girls have been moving faster than boys. Honestly, we're very weary in waiting. But, a little bit of movement gives us a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel.

We were able to make contact with missionary friends who live in Ethiopia who are friends with our adoption case worker. We will defnitely be able to hook up with this family when we go over. They actually drive past our adoption agency's care center everyday...pretty cool! We're really looking forward to learning more about their ministry while there. They adopted a little girl from Ethiopia several years ago and encouraged us in the wait saying "it was all a blur and so worth it on this side of things." Somedays I find that hard to be true and being reminded of that by someone who's walked through it was very encouraging! Now for some recent pictures...

We were pretty excited to be on a plane actually headed to Peru, considering we had to take a detour to CHILE! Long story, lol:).

Somehow being above the clouds I felt closer to our little ones. Hopefully next time in the air we'll be on our way to hold them in our arms!

A welcome service they had at the Shipibo church. These women did beautiful dancing and singing for us.

This is their church from the outside. Lovely people.

We had lots of these furry guys in the house we stayed in, known by the natives as Tarantula Town.

We got these little hats for our kiddos. Maybe we'll bring them home in winter!

Remember the myrtle tree we planted for them....this was what it looked like Easter morning...now...

I can only hope that this is an image of what God's done and is doing in this time through us, for HIS kingdom...beauty from the ashes!

"Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the Lord's renown, for an everlasting sign, which will not be destroyed." Isaiah 55:13

Friday, July 9, 2010

Headed to the Jungle!

Not much news on the adoption front. Things continue to move, and hopefully the clocks will move ahead soon! They currently read...
Girls:August
Boys:August
2 Children:October
We are considered a December family. When we do receive our referral (photos and information on the children), we will make our first trip 2-3 months after referral. Our second trip will then be about 6-8 weeks after that. We're really hoping that maybe we'll be able to travel at least once before the new year! It's been really encouraging to watch some other adoptive families we've gotten to know these past few months receive referrals, court dates, and continue moving ahead in the proccess.

In other news we are heading to Peru tomorrow morning with 15 other people from our church! We will be working with churches in Lima, the Shipibo indians in Pucallpa Peru, doing work projects, children's ministry, dances, dramas, teaching, health clinic, eye glasses clinic, and more. We are greatly anticipating partnering in kingdom work with the people of Peru. The foreign mission field is really where God started opening both of our eyes to adoption. What a gift it will be on this wearisome journey to take this time to serve children. Our children are not here yet, but God certainly has many in need of His love and the gospel. God's been teaching us so much about His true biblical gospel and we want to do whatever it takes to be a part of that. A friend of mine recently gave me this quote. I don't think anything says it much better for where we're at these days...

"The place that God calls us is that place where the world's deep hunger and our deepest desire meet." Frederick Buechner

Friday, June 18, 2010

Empty Beds

Every time I go to the mountains, I hope for God to show me something in His creation that teaches me more of who He is. At the mountains several weeks ago, one of my wildlife "dreams" came true:). Little did I know what God was showing me.

One of the dogs discovered a little baby fawn, crouched down, hiding in some weeds in the backyard. We all quietly and cautiously went out to see if we could catch a peek of the little thing before it darted away. Well, not only did we catch a peek, but we got so close we could have touched it's white spotted fur! Now, if you know me at all, you know that everything in me wanted to pick-up that little baby, warm up a nice bottle of milk, and take it home as the newest member of our family, haha! Don't worry, I restrained myself. But, I definitely entertained the thought.

When a fawn is born, the mother will lick it clean to try to remove all the "scent" off her baby. Then, the mother will hide her young for the first few weeks, moving them to different locations every few days. Often the fawn wants to go with their mother and the mother has to gently use her foot to push the fawn down into it's hiding place (talk about tough love). The mother then places herself far enough away to deter any predators from following her scent to the fawn, but close enough to keep a watchful eye. This fawn had captivated me; it was such a tiny, helpless, and beautiful creature. All day I kept asking my husband, "you're sure that mother will come back, right?" It wasn't until we were on a walk later that it dawned on me...that little fawn was just like our babies in Ethiopia...far away, hiding, at risk to all kinds of predators, helpless, and afraid. In one instant my heart broke in a new way for our little ones. The paralyzed look of fear in that fawn's eyes so reminded me of the look I've seen in many of the pictures of orphans in Ethiopia. As evening approached, I found myself fervently praying that God would send that mother deer to rescue the little fawn; hoping that I'd wake up in the morning to find the place where it had been...empty.

That night, Nate and I decided to go out spotting. We drove around for awhile and spotted several deer. But, my heart and mind kept wandering back to a tiny spot in the woods, where a little fawn waited to be found. As we pulled in the driveway, I asked Nate to pull a little further in so I could spot the backyard. Clicking on the spotlight, my heart leapt as I saw a beautiful mother deer carefully bending over her baby. She of course jolted her head up and ran for the tree line as fast as she could, afraid of giving her baby's hiding spot away. We quickly went inside to ensure the mother felt comfortable again. Lying in bed that night my heart was so full; they'd found each other. The following morning, we found nothing where the fawn had laid, but a soft matted down bed of weeds that was...empty.

The mother had to come in the night. Some might have called it delayed, some might have said, why couldn't she just keep her young with her from birth. But, she was protecting her baby the way God had created her to. And we're doing the same with our little ones right now. All we can do is look up to the sky and pray and pray and then pray some more. Some days, it doesn't seem like enough. We want to hold them, kiss them, and protect them. We want to have pictures to show people, stories to tell, memories to share. But, we're faithfully waiting where God has placed us. And we have to believe that praying for these little ones right now is exactly what they need. And when the time comes, we will find each other. It may be in the dead of the night, it may be delayed. But, I know that when we do, there will be 2 more orphan beds...empty!


Look carefully in the left corner and you see the white spots.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Closer

Our agency keeps these really handy referral clocks (on our online adoption planner) that give us an idea of where things stand in the "waiting room". Some agencies tell you what number you are on the waiting list throughout the entire process. Our agency feels this causes stress and comparison, so they avoid this until families are really close. These clocks do however show what month the family they're currently working on submitted their dossier (papers) and officially went on the waiting list. In other words, the next referral will be offered to the family whose dossier was submitted that month. We submitted our dossier December 21st so we're considered December on the clock. Also, we're the two children clock. When the clocks were first posted at the end of March, they read...

Boys(0-24 months)-June
Girls(0-24 months)-May
Two Children(0-4 years)-August

For what seemed like forever, we saw no movement. Referrals were slowly trickling in with the hopes of our spring referral changing to a late summer or maybe even late fall referral. Well, the past 2 weeks things seem to have shifted. In just a matter of 2 weeks the clocks now read...

Boys(0-24 months):August
Girls(0-24 months):June
Two Children(0-4 years):October

:-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-)

Just to know that there's been movement is so exciting for us. We don't really know how much longer it will be for us. But, we do know that with each step, every emotion, and every referral, we're moving toward them: our children, the ones God has for us, these precious gifts we're so honored to be waiting for. The clock is not on December yet, but it's only 2 months away!!! And for now, we're one step closer.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Leave a Comment!

This blog has become a really neat way to journal and track our adoption journey. We're often told by people that they've been reading our blog, which is great. But, we'd have no way of knowing who they were unless they told us. We would love to hear from the people who are reading and walking along with us. I just discovered that there's a handy dandy 'comment' link under each blog entry. It currently reads '0 comments', but you could be the first to change that! If you visit our blog please feel free to leave a comment, prayer, word of encouragement, verse, or whatever's on your heart. We can't wait to share this with our children someday and tell them their story. We'll show them all the people who prayed along with their mommy and daddy for them to make it safely home. You are all a part of this unfolding story and we want to always remember that through this blog or as I like to call it, "my online scrapbook"!

There's not really any news on the adoption front (that we're aware of). We know God is working in ways we cannot see. Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1 Things continue to be slow in Ethiopia due to the upcoming elections this month. Unfortunately, this does not mean the number of orphans is declining, just that paperwork is crawling.  We did find out that two of the orphanages on hold have officially had their licenses revoked. All of those orphans have now been moved to other orphanages. That leaves two that are still on hold. Our agency has heard a mixed bag as to whether or not they will be re-opening. We're so blessed to be surrounded by friends and family standing and praying with us. All we can say is...keep praying!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Among the briers and desert...

Easter morning, we planted a tree. This wasn't just to replace the tree that had died in our back yard 2 years ago. No, this tree was special. A name we feel like God's given us for one of our children is, Hadassah. Hadassah was Esther's Hebrew name before it changed. Hadassah also means Myrtle Tree. In biblical times the Myrtle tree was a sign of Yaweh's promise to not forsake His people and His victory. I won't go into the references, but Isaiah, chapter 41 and 55, are some of my favorite images of God raising up Myrtle trees admidst deserts and briers. Our children are in "deserts" and "briers", fighting to survive. Out of such a sad and tragic situation, one we can only imagine at this point, we know that God is already raising a beautiful image of His faithfulness which is our eternal hope. We will forever look at these children's faces and not only rejoice that God drew us together as a family, but we will rejoice that He has taken the "deserts" and "briers" of our life and turned them into "Myrtle trees" by adopting each of us into His family.

So, for now we'll watch out our back window as our Myrtle tree blooms this spring, thanking God for the symbol of what is still to come! I was recently told by a retreat speaker that being in a place of waiting is good...it makes you yearn. We're definitely yearning! Here are some pictures of our special tree.
We found our tree at the one and only Stauffer's greenhouse. It's very nice if you haven't been yet this season.
Nate woke up early Easter morning to dig a home for it...what a guy:)!
We'll post pictures when it blooms.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Oh For Grace To Trust Him More

We have finally received our USCIS approval!!! Even though we've been on a wait list, we technically have not been considered "paper ready." Meaning, if a referral had come through for us, we would not have been selected because we were still waiting on USCIS. Now, when it's time, we will be ready and ripe for a referral.

We also found out that the Adoption Tax Credit has been extended until the end of 2011. This credit will be a big financial help with our adoption but cannot be claimed until the kids are home. It had been set to expire December 31, 2010 which would have really put us in a race against time so to speak. We were afraid our adoption may not be finalized by then, which would have meant, no credit for us. So, now we just have to hope the kids are home by December 31, 2011.

There is an important meeting this week concerning the orphanages on hold in the Oromia region. Please join us in prayer for them to be re-opened! God's been teaching us a lot about trusting in Him. It so often seems the harder we try to trust the more we make a mess of things. Our prayer has become the song, Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus. There's especially one line that has been such a comfort.
Oh for grace to trust Him more...Oh for grace to trust Him more...Oh for grace to trust Him more...
His grace...not by our strength or striving...but through His grace!

Friday, March 12, 2010

2 Trips It Is

We just found out as of March 1, that all adoptive families will now have to make 2 trips to Ethiopia. We knew this was a possibility, and in many ways, we are relieved that a definite decision has been made which we can now prepare for. We're very thankful that it happened at this point in the process for us. Some families literally have to switch gears for their first trip in a few days! Our first trip will be about 2-3 months after we receive our referral for 5-7 days. We will appear at the court hearing where we officially adopt them and the birth family gives them up. We'll then come home for 2-3 months and return for a 7-10 day trip where we appear for the embassy appt and then bring them home. I spoke with our case manager earlier this week and he assured me that these kinds of decisions are making adoption stronger and healthier in Ethiopia. Although it's so hard to predict when getting 2 children, he said that we can hope for a referral by September. That is if referrals continue at the slow pace they've been going. Keep praying for the four Oromia region orphanages to reopen! Here are the ups and downs as we see it for 2 trips. For us, we'd travel 3 times around the world to get them home if that's what it took!
Downsides
-Paying for 2 trips to Ethiopia instead of 1
-Taking time off work, twice
-Meeting our little ones only to leave them there for 2-3 months
Upsides
-Meeting any surviving birth family at the court hearing
-The children would come home on an IR-3 visa, meaning we wouldn't have to readopt them in the states
-We'll meet them earlier in the process and be there when they actually become "ours"
-We'll be able to take lots of pictures, give the children special things until we return, and meet their caregivers for the time we'll be apart
-2 trips to soak in the culture and country of our children

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

We're All Waiting

Things are still moving very slowly in Ethiopia these days. They have upcoming elections in May, and it seems the focus of the country is there. We were told that they are currently finishing up referrals from families who went on the waiting list for infants in June. Please continue praying for the Oromia region to reopen. There are many families who received their referral late fall and finally got to see the face of their little one only to have the orphanages be put on hold. I can't imagine how difficult these past few months have been for them. There are also countless children with no place to go right now. I've been so focused lately on "our waiting" for these children and how hard it is. The other night Nate had the thought that our children are waiting for us as much as we're waiting for them. They may not even realize it yet. But, they're waiting, we're waiting, their birth parents are waiting, and really we're all waiting on God to bring restoration. It was a different perspective that helped us put our trust in Him.

A praise is that we were able to sell all of our puppies to wonderful loving homes! It's been a lot of hard work, but was so worth it. God made some really neat connections through our puppy buyers and many of them are now praying for us in their home churches. We had a successful fingerprinting appt on March 1st. They had to work hard to get a print from Nate's thumb he had surgery on, but they got it! Hopefully we'll receive our paperwork back sometime in April. Even though we are on a waiting list, completing this last step through USCIS is what makes you 100% ready to go in the eyes of Ethiopia. Some agencies will not put you on a waiting list until this step is complete. Our agency does allow you to go on the waiting list while you're in the process of completing this, assuming you'll have at least a few months of waiting.

We will be purchasing our puzzle soon and posting details about how you can get involved in our first official fundraiser! You may have noticed there is now music being played on our blog. We're a little limited with what we can add, but I hope you enjoy the songs! On Our Side has especially been meaningful as of late. Here's a photo after our fingerprinting appt. We celebrated with some $.99 McDonald's coffee:-).

Monday, February 15, 2010

"Walk On"

Well, nothing much has changed. We're...waiting. We know there is a great purpose in the waiting, but it's still hard. When we think of Ethiopia and our children from a physical perspective, things seem so far away and out of our control. But, as we look at the sky, pray for His perspective, and serve those around us, the waiting somehow becomes a gift. A time when we can reflect on how big God is and learn to trust Him more. We've also been enjoying this unique season where it's just the 2 of us. As much as we long to be parents and have children added to our family, we know the season we're been in is about to change forever (which will be a wonderful new gift)! Along the journey, God is encouraging us with little things and seems to be whispering, "walk on". So, that's where we're at. We're walking on in what we know He's called us to. We haven't heard anything new on the 2 trip possibility. We're also waiting and praying for the Oromia region (where 4 orphanages are located) to start accepting orphans and adopting them out. A praise is that we FINALLY received our fingerprint appointment for the beginning of March. This is the last step for us to complete in our immigration paperwork through USCIS. Once this is complete, there is nothing holding us back from accepting a referral when the time comes. We will soon be starting our first fundraiser involving a puzzle. Yes, a puzzle:). Hopefully I've captured your attention and you'll check back! First we need to send our 10 fuz balls to their new homes!

Monday, January 25, 2010

1 Month of Waiting!

1 month down ??? to go until we meet our little ones! We're currently finishing up some grant applications and waiting on our I600A to get approved through US Immigration.  Nate had a surprise surgery a week and a half ago and has been home recovering from that. We also have 10 little fur balls aka golden retriever puppies who are keeping us very busy! A lot of people have been asking us what they can specifically pray for. We are going to start a side bar on our blog that will list prayer requests we have as they arise. Here is a specific situtation that was just recently brought to our attention. As many of you heard, there is a possible change pending concerning the number of trips we would have to make for our adoption. Below is an email we received from our case worker that explains the whole issue very well. Please keep this in your prayers as we and many other adoptive families across the country await to hear any decision made. 
    We thought we'd share an Ethiopian adoption issue brought to our attention
today. According to our Country Representative, Ato Zerihun, there is currently a discussion by the court system in Ethiopia whether or not to require adoptive parents to appear in person for the court hearings of their prospective children. This has the potential to make Ethiopia a two trip country; one trip for court and one trip for the Embassy appointment.
    This discussion has been precipitated by the alarming number of cases being revoked – 43 thus far. We are attempting to get clarification on the exact nature of revocations, but assume those are dissolutions.  The network of adoption agencies will meet with the president of the First Instance Court to discuss this proposed procedure. We do not have a date for this meeting as yet.
    AT THIS TIME, this is only in the discussion stage and no changes have been made to the requirements. We just want to keep you informed as we learn more ourselves. As always, your prayers are requested regarding this potential development. There are obvious benefits to parents meeting their children before court, but it could be prohibitive for families who will find it difficult financially to make two trips overseas. We will keep you apprised of any additional developments as we hear of them.

Friday, January 8, 2010

More of a Framework...

Early this week, we were able to talk with our new case worker, Ben, who will lead us through the rest of our journey. He actually just spent 4 weeks in Ethiopia himself. As we were talking he kept referring to a family he spent his time with when he was over there. We figured out that it was the Shannons! This is the family that my dad is friends with and we were able to connect with them as we were starting our adoption. They just left to be missionaries in Ethiopia and our church has been following their story and recently just joined them for a day of prayer. It turns out they needed temporary housing and actually stayed at CWA's facility the few weeks that our case worker was there as well! This is just another exciting connection that God's making through all of this!

There's a lot of variables that will play into how the rest of the process goes for us. We're trying our best not to get out heart set on a timeframe, genders, and ages as all this is in God's hands. This is of course easier said than done! We did find a few things out that we want to fill everyone in on...

1. Our referrals will come at the same time or very close together for both kids.
2. Twins would be a possibility. But, twins often have a harder time surviving there and the chance of both surviving to the point of being adopted out is much lower.
3. Getting 2 children will not make our process longer. If anything, he said it would make it shorter or about the same. This really surprised us...but we're not complaining:).
4. The longest someone has currently been waiting for an infant girl (which is currently the longest wait) is 8 months. This is the only timeframe they give out; the longest someone has been waiting.
5. There are currently 63 families waiting for children from Ethiopia. This is the highest they've ever had! It's really exciting to know that there are other familes and churches all over the country who share the same vision God's placed in our hearts.
6. CWA is currently working with 7 orphanages in Ethiopia. This is the most they've ever worked with!
7. They will actively be looking for a toddler or infant for us, whichever comes first. Once we get 1 child we will automatically be at a much higher priority for the 2nd child.
8. The children could or could not be siblings. This really could go either way.
9. When we receive our referrals we can show pictures to people, but cannot post anything on the internet containing names, pictures, or any other personal information that may be released to us. He said people have actually had adoptions halted because they shared information too soon. Yikes!

I think that's a pretty good summary of the interesting stuff we found out. Ben also shared with me his thoughts on Ethiopia while he was over there which were very insightful. That will probably be a whole other blog as this one is getting a little long:).