Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Two More Days of Free Shipping!


We are still offering free shipping on all orders from our website through this Friday, May 1st. Remember to place your T-shirt and note card orders before then to take advantage of this offer! Thank you, everyone, for your support of our son and the orphans of Ethiopia. We just lack about $900 now to be able to send in our dossier. We are getting ever closer to bringing our son home!

www.duboisadoption.com

Monday, April 27, 2009

It's Not About Me

I was so humbled last week by a precious friend of mine. She sent an email to many of her family members and friends in the city where she lives to tell them about our adoption and the resulting financial need. She wrote:

Please don't feel any pressure to give, but if you do feel led to donate, 100% of the proceeds go toward the adoption costs. **** and I are willing to double your contributions by matching your donations up to $25 per person/per couple. Of course, any amount helps- even just $5 if you have it.

We are so blessed in this country- what a great way to reach out to other nations in the name of Jesus!

I was blown away! I thanked the Lord, and immediately wrote her back expressing our gratitude for her friendship, support, and generosity. Later that night, she responded by kindly reminding me:

Well, I feel strongly about this cause, and, frankly, it's not about YOU, so there! :) It's about helping children, and spreading the gospel, and changing the world's view of rich, greedy Americans...

Oh yeah. It’s not about ME. Her generosity is not about me. This adoption is not about me. The money that we need to raise is not about me. None of it is about me! I had become so fixated on dollars and cents that I had lost sight of the bigger perspective.

So what is the bigger perspective? Why are we adopting?

• There are 147 million orphans in the world.
• We are so wealthy in this country, and God doesn’t intend for us to hoard our wealth.
• It is God’s will that Christians care for orphans.
• God said to “Go unto all the world” and share the gospel with the people he loves.
• Jesus told us that when we feed the hungry and love the lonely, we are doing it to him.

This weekend, I found this passage in II Corinthians 9 about being generous with our money that spoke to my heart:

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously…And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.…He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.

This reminded me:

• Money is seed!
• It is God who supplies seed to the sower. Our job is simply to scatter it.
• We are made rich SO THAT we can be generous
• He wants us to be generous SO THAT it will result in thanksgiving to God!

Wow! The whole point of our adoption, of generosity, and of any “good” works that we do is so that God will be glorified! This is SO not about me. Thank you, my dear friend. I needed that reminder.

Friday, April 24, 2009

A New Era

I am feeling sentimental today. For six years I have volunteered as a counselor at the Hope Clinic for Women. Today was my last day.

The Hope Clinic began as a Crisis Pregnancy Center, and over the years the ministry has grown to include post-abortion ministry, abstinence training in schools and churches, medical services like ultrasounds and STD testing, counseling for guys and parents, and now even a maternity home for girls who have nowhere else to go during their pregnancies. I have seen such changes and growth in the ministry during the years that I have volunteered there. The Hope Clinic has touched the lives of thousands of women and their unborn children.

This is a photo that the Hope Clinic uses on their website and brochure of ME when I was pregnant with M

The first time I walked into the counseling room, I was scared to death. I got to sit-in with experienced counselors for months until I had witnessed lots of counseling sessions. But still, I was scared stiff the first time that I walked in there by myself. I was terrified that I would say or do the wrong thing. But over time, I learned that success in the counseling room was not about what I said. It was dependent on how I loved. Did I listen with empathy and truly love the client with the love of the Lord? Did I offer her forgiveness, compassion, and an opportunity to learn about Jesus if she didn’t know him already? Did I offer her reassurance and resources that would help her to make it through a difficult time in her life?

Oh, the things that I have seen as a counselor… I quickly learned to expect the unexpected in the counseling room. There is no such thing as a “typical” client. I have talked to girls who come from Christian families and private Christian schools and girls who moved out to live with their boyfriend and depend on welfare when they turned eighteen. I have had a client as young as thirteen and as old as forty. I have spoken with a young woman from Ireland and a lady from Iraq. One girl was on cocaine and another had been raped by her father.

I have been stretched in so many ways: to not judge, to offer unconditional love, and to remember that each girl that I met is loved tremendously by our Savior. Through volunteering at the Hope Clinic, I have learned how to speak my faith more boldly and accurately. I have seen lots of tears and had the opportunity to pray with many young women at an extremely vulnerable time in their lives. I have had the opportunity to love Jesus by loving these broken girls that he loves.

The Hope Clinic administration has made the decision to begin using master’s level interns as the counselors instead of lay volunteers like me. I understand and support the change, and I believe that overall it will help to offer a more professional level of ministry to the girls who come to us for help. Other volunteer opportunities are open to me, of course; however, since Madeline was born it has become difficult for me to be a regular volunteer. As she grows and we continue to enlarge our family, I want to focus my ministry efforts on things that I can involve my children in. I want them to see me serving and loving the needy, and I want them to be personally engaged as much as possible. I’ve been praying about this for a while, and I feel like it’s clear that the time is right to make the transition. But still I am sad.

Volunteering at the Hope Clinic has given me the gift of pouring myself out in love and receiving the joy and peace that result. I have stretched myself to do things I was afraid to do, and I have been incredibly blessed. I thank God for my time at the Hope Clinic.

So what’s next?.... Daniel and I are drawn to people who come from other cultures. We love to spend time with people who have backgrounds and experiences different from ours and to learn from them. Ever since our term studying overseas in college, we also have had an appreciation for how difficult and lonely it can be to live in a culture that is not your own. Our hearts have desired for a while now to become involved with a ministry to refugees. We know that God calls us to love the orphan, the widow, and the ALIEN – basically all of the most needy and vulnerable groups among us. Over and over in the Old Testament he told the Israelites to welcome the stranger in their midst and treat them with kindness. We have made a contact with World Relief, a ministry that reaches out to refugees, and we have a meeting with someone there next week!

I am so excited about this new opportunity to reach out to refugees in our city. I am also thankful that through it we will be exposing our children to people from many different cultures and backgrounds, all of whom are dear to the heart of God.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Golden Weekend

God blessed us in so many ways this weekend! First of all, he has restored the peace in my heart. All last week, I felt such stress and unrest. I was afraid of many things: that no one would come to our fundraising party on Saturday; that we wouldn’t have the money that we need to submit our dossier because my workload has lightened up and I’m not making as much; that we might make unwise decisions regarding the changes we need to make as we welcome an African child into our family and community… Oh, but the Lord is good. He is greater than all my fears, and he has reminded me of his kindness to me. “Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.” (Psalm 116:7) I meditated on this verse throughout the weekend, day and night. Even in my sleep I recited it. And once more my soul remembers: indeed, he has been good to me.

On Saturday arrived the long-awaited day of our Green Gold fundraising party. Here’s how it works: A gold buying agent came to our party location with all of her equipment to analyze the value of gold brought to her. People brought old, broken, or unwanted gold jewelry, and she was able to appraise it on the spot and make a offer to them based on the day’s London Gold Fix Price. Our friends had the opportunity to unload unwanted jewelry and take home cash with them. What a great way to make some extra money in a difficult economy! Then we were given 10% of the agent’s total profits for the day to put in our adoption fund. Including a couple of donations that were given to us on Saturday, we made almost $700! Praise God! There were only a few people who were able to make it to the party, but amazingly God seemed to multiply the money that we received anyway. Every dollar brings us closer to being able to send in our dossier and start the clock ticking. Once it (our dossier) arrives in Ethiopia, we expect to wait about nine months to receive our referral (the assignment of our child).

Sunday afternoon, we were FINALLY able to attend a meeting of the Nashville area Ethiopia Adoption Fellowship Group. We have been dying to make some connections with people who are like-minded: to hear their stories, to see their children, and to be encouraged. How affirming and inspiring it was to be in a home filled with families who have adopted or are in the process of adopting from Ethiopia! And how delightful to see their children playing and running and having the time of their lives together. We were so blessed by the conversations we had and connections that we made with families like the Seversons who adopted a five year old little girl a couple of months ago. And like the Weimers who are adopting THREE more Ethiopian children to add to the SIX that they already have (three from Ethiopia and three biological). And like the Johnsons who will travel within a month or two to pick up their five month old baby girl. And the Puttys who adopted a four year old little boy last fall to add to their five biological kids. And so many others. Thank you, Fellowship Group, for your warm welcome!

Yes, God has been good to us. I thank him that he has provided for us, given us new friends and encouragement, and restored the peace in my heart.



One of the two gold ladies hard at work



My dear friend Chrissy came to support us on Saturday



Emily came to help out and encourage us, too



Daniel enjoyed the snacks at the Gold Party :)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Free Shipping on Our Website!

Daniel and I have decided to offer a stimulus package of our own. We are offering FREE SHIPPING on all Go. Seek. Love. T-shirts and note cards through May 1st! We are hoping to stimulate the Africa T-shirt economy so that we can make the required $6,000 payment when we submit our dossier. Everything with the adoption seems to be falling into place quickly, which is a huge blessing, but we are working like mad to keep up with the fundraising side of things.

So check out our website and pick out a T-shirt for someone you love! They make great gifts too! We even have kids’ sizes and onesies, in addition to the fitted and classic T-shirts. Thank you and God bless you!

www.duboisadoption.com

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter Basket

Madeline's Easter Basket 2008


The Same Easter Basket 2009

My, haven't we grown in a year?

Here are a few more fun photos of our Easter activities:



It's a lot more fun to put the basket on your head than it is to hold it.



I can't sit still to have my picture taken anymore....



Easter egg hunt at church



Playing with the sparkly Easter egg lights










































Playing with Aunt Rachel (who is having a BABY in September!!!!)



Cool shoes, Aunt Emily! Can I have some like that?

Drawn from Water

I just read an amazing story about work that God is doing in Ethiopia to save the lives of children from the Kara tribe. If the children of this superstitious tribe are born out of wedlock or without their married mother first announcing her intentions of becoming pregnant, or if they are born with certain physical characteristics, they are considered to be cursed or “mingi.” The children are then killed by the elders of the tribe by binding their arms and legs and throwing them in the river.

In February of this year a team of American missionaries discovered what was going on and began rescuing children sentence to die. In the last two months nine children have been rescued. They have set up an orphanage for the children, and they are calling it Drawn from Water. They estimate that last year 77 children were killed by the elders of this tribe. They expect for the orphanage to grow quickly, and they will need lots of money and support to keep going.

The story of what God is doing to rescue these children is amazing. Check out their website at www.drawnfromwater.org for more details.


Drawn from Water from Drawn From Water on Vimeo.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Fingerprints......Check!


Daniel and I were fingerprinted twice this week – once by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) and once by the FBI. Each time Daniel was told that he should never rob a bank because of his deep and distinct fingerprints. Good to know.

Going to the FBI site on Thursday was a pleasure. The site also serves as the location where people who are going through the immigration process must report to be fingerprinted. When we arrived, we found four rows of chairs filled with waiting people from many different nations – Russia, Vietnam (we think), Mexico, Tanzania, and….Ethiopia! I spotted him immediately. He was sitting on the front row. As my eyes moved over the crowded area, looking for a place to sit, they paused on him and I thought – “He has got to be from Ethiopia!” He had the beautiful characteristic skin tone, the distinctive features, and the smooth dark hair. He left before I had a chance to talk to him (I have GOT to get over my shy-ness and learn to just talk to people), but I confirmed my suspicions by asking the fingerprinting lady where he was from. It makes me giddy to just be in the same room as someone from Ethiopia!

I love to people watch, and this was a great place to do it. We waited on the back row so that we could see everyone in the room. I enjoyed guessing their stories, wondering about the details of what brought them from their home countries to where they are today: waiting in an immigration office to be fingerprinted so they can become citizens or permanent residents of the United States. I was struck again (as I often am these days) by how blessed I am to have been born in America, a country that so many are willing to give up so much to come to. I was born having freedoms that many in this world will never enjoy. And many will risk their lives to attain.

I have done nothing to deserve the life of privilege that I live. I am certain of that. I am also certain that God did not send me to a Christian family with parents who love me in a country where I live in freedom and without fear just so that I can sit back and relax for the rest of my life, while accumulating possessions and saving for a bigger house.

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” - Luke 12:48

Oh Lord, show me your will for my life. I have been entrusted with much. I want to give much. May I be found faithful.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Shrooms!

By Daniel-

This post is, by all accounts, silly. Likely it will mean absolutely nothing to all but a few with Hoosier blood. Sarah, Madeline, and I were hiking this afternoon at Percy Warner park here in Nashville. We were nearing the end of our hike when we passed a man on the trail who was carrying a handful of these:



Morel mushrooms. For the uninitiated, these bad boys are found in the woods in spring and are one of the finest things to hit your taste buds—that’s right boys and girls-they’re edible. And what a delight they are! They’re a bit like a poor man’s truffle. I had assumed you couldn’t find them in Tennessee, as they are typically found in colder climates. But to my delight they were growing right here in Davidson County. Excited by the possibility of finding some of our own, we hunted for a few minutes. It wasn’t long before M started to get impatient and we had to head home. Maybe one day…

Friday, April 3, 2009

M's New Hobby

video

Madeline has discovered the piano. At least ten times a day she crawls over, pulls up on the piano bench, stands on her tippy-toes and starts “playing.” I’ve been letting her bang on it for months now while sitting on my lap. But now that she can do it herself, I think it has become lots more fun for her.

She has figured out that if she moves her hand from left to right, the pitch begins to get higher. She works her fingers up the keyboard, enjoying the changing sound.

I do love to watch her learn. I can almost see the new connections being formed in that little brain.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Adoption Update

Madeline is sleeping right now, and I thought I would spend a few of the precious moments of her naptime to update the world on where we are in the adoption process.

We have been busy bees the last couple of months. Night and day we work on adoption stuff: paperwork, financial statements, training courses, required reading, doctor appointments, home study appointments, writing our autobiographies, doing our taxes, having our friends and employers write letters, and on and on and on. And then there is the fundraising and blogging and, oh yeah, there’s the praying. It is so easy to get distracted amidst all this.

I have become the CPO (Chief Paperwork Officer), CFO (Chief Financial Officer), and CSK (Chief Schedule Keeper), while Daniel is functioning as the CFRO (Chief Fundraising Officer), Webmaster, and CMM (Chief Money Maker). The two of us have diverse gifts, and it works out beautifully. Neither of us could do it without the other.

Here is where we stand:

Home Study

We have had three of the four appointments with our social worker, Bethany. Bethany is awesome, and the appointments have actually been fun. She has asked us lots of questions about our reasons for adopting, our reasons for choosing Ethiopia, and our faith. We have also talked about our marriage, how we handle conflict, and our philosophies for child rearing. We each had to write an autobiography that we discussed with her, detailing our childhood and parents, education and employment, hobbies and interests, marriage and family relationships, and our community and support network. Our fourth and final appointment is scheduled for April 13th. She will come to inspect our house at that one, and we will give her all the remaining paperwork.

Here is the list of documents that we have to provide for our home study. I have crossed through the ones that I am finished with:

  • Autobiographies
  • Birth certificates for all three of us
  • Marriage certificate
  • Employment verification letters (one down, one to go)
  • 2008 Tax return
  • Three letters of recommendation (two down, one to go)
  • Guardianship statement
  • Financial statement (almost done with this)
  • Medical reports for parents (almost done – still have to get Daniel’s notarized)
  • Medical report for Madeline
  • Proof of health insurance
  • Police clearance and background check (I have sent off for this, but we’re still waiting on it)
  • Fingerprinting by TBI (next week)
  • Reading list agreement (Six books that we have to read, but for now we just have to sign that we promise to read them. Then we can finish reading later, thank goodness.)

Dossier

Whew! This is a lot of work. But we are plodding steadily along. Some of the home study paperwork overlaps with the dossier paperwork, and that certainly helps. Every single thing has to be notarized, and that has made some things complicated. For instance, neither of us had a primary care doctor. So I had to find someone that (1) could fit us in quickly and (2) has a notary in the office and (3) was willing to go to the trouble of filling out the form and having it notarized, even though we were not previous patients. It all works out, though, and most of the time I’ve found that people are interested to hear about what we are doing and very willing to help.

Here is the list of dossier requirements:

  • Hague Training (ten hour online course on international adoption). We both just finished this week, and we’re so relieved!
  • Application letter
  • Employment letters (one down, one to go)
  • Financial statement (almost done with this)
  • Medical reports for parents (almost done with this – just have to have one of them notarized)
  • Police clearance and background checks (I have sent off for this, but we’re still waiting on it)
  • Fingerprinting by FBI and TBI (both next week)
  • Three letters of recommendation (two down, one to go)
  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage certificates
  • Passports
  • Completed home study
  • Proof of health insurance
  • Proof of life insurance (one down, one to go)
  • Power of attorney papers
  • Agency recommendation
  • Family photo pages
  • Extra passport photos
  • USCIS Approval (I sent off for this two weeks ago, and it will take several weeks to come back. It will probably be the last thing we will be waiting to add to our dossier.)

After everything is completed and notarized, we have to send the entire packet to the county to be certified and to the state to be authenticated. This means that they will certify at both the county and state level that the notaries who have signed our papers are true notaries. And I just realized as I was writing this that some of our notaries have been in Davidson county and some have been in Cheatham. So I think I will have to have our documents certified in both counties. Shoot.

Fundraising

It is fun watching God provide for our every need throughout the adoption. We have committed our plans to him from the beginning, and we trust completely that he will give us all we need at just the time that we need it. We raised about $1,000 on T-shirt sales so far. We sold lots when we first offered them, but sadly we haven’t had any sales in a while now.

In addition, we have been incredibly blessed to receive two generous and unexpected donations from family members. Thank you so much, guys! You have humbled us with our generosity and encouraged us with your support.

I am also hosting a Green Gold fundraising party on April 18th. I attended one of these parties for a friend, Tracy, who is adopting FOUR children from Ethiopia, and she raised $2,000! Here is how it works: There will be a gold buying agent at the party who will purchase gold at the current London Gold Fix Price and pay everyone for their gold that day in cash. My friends and family can bring their gold (old or broken jewelry, even dental gold) and sell it at the party. They will go home with cash, and the hostess (me) will get to keep a small percentage of the total profits of the party. Let me know if you are interested in coming. I’m having the party at my church where there is lots of room, and it is open to anyone!

I have also picked up a new bookkeeping client, and I am able to do the work from home. I’ve been devoting nighttime and naptime hours each week to that work, and it is blessing our adoption fund, as well.

*****

In a nutshell, that is where we stand with all the areas of our adoption. As you can see, life is crazy. Please keep praying for us that:

  • We keep our focus on God and on why we are adopting throughout all this busywork
  • All of our paperwork continues to go smoothly and we will be able to submit our dossier as soon as possible (and start the clock ticking on our expected twelve month wait)
  • God will provide all of the money that we need at just the right time
  • God will give us guidance on the areas of our life that need to change in order to prepare for the addition of our Ethiopian son (more diversity, increased support network of adoptive families, etc.)

Thank you and God bless you!