Sunday, March 28, 2010

Dress for a Cause - A Fun Giveaway!

NOTE: I grew up with the notion that Raffles are wrong. (I don't think my parents actually said this, but I just picked up that idea, you know.) Raffles are a form of gambling, and all gambling is wrong, right? So if you have a problem with the "R" word, please just don't consider this a Raf_ _ _. Think of it as a DONATION to help an adoptive family bring home an orphaned child from Ethiopia. AND there is a really cool perk - one lucky family will win a super-cool door prize! (Door prizes are OK, right?)


Will you join me in the REALLY FUN give-away and help this family bring their little girl home from Ethiopia. You can see the full details and purchase your 10.00 entry here:

Here is the run down...

See all these shirts and the beautiful pendant?

Well...they can be yours. ALL OF THEM !!

So this is how this puppy works...
You enter into the give away and you choose how many times 1, 2 or 3. It's easy!

One entry is only 10.00 and if you are quicker than me you have already done the math and figured that is like less than a dollar a shirt. Yeah, really.

To sweeten this a bit more, you can have two entries for 15.00.

Really, really want this ensemble of shirts? (Me, too!) Receive a third entry by blogging, tweeting or facebooking about it. They will even send you the wording so you can just repost. Not on their facebook? You can fb friend them by clicking on the fb badge on the left side bar of the blog.

So just head on over to and give it a shot. You will be helping in bringing home a PRECIOUS one...and what is better than that? And if you already have one of the shirts in the set, imagine the blessing you will be to gift it to another person who God may be calling to love the orphan.

Seriously, lets blow the socks off this family and bless them. We are ALL in this together...and helping one another

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Sweet Words of Encouragement

Dear friends, thank you so much for the way that you have surrounded me (us) during this time of waiting. Many of you have sent me scriptures to remind me of God's promises, notes to remind me that you are praying for our situation, blog comments just to brighten my day and let me know that you care, and emails to inquire about how things are going. While this has been a really hard time, it has also been a sweet time as I have seen the kindness of others extended to us over and over again. You have no idea how much it means. Thank you.

I just re-read all of the blog comments that you have written in the past couple of months. I can't keep back the tears. It never ceases to amaze me that there are people out there (other than my mom and my husband) who take the time to actually read my blog, much less seem to care so much.

I wanted to share a few of the scriptures that others have sent to me, so that they can encourage you too: say to the captives, "come out." and to those in darkness, "Be free!"...He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water. I will turn all my mountains into roads, and my highways will be raised up. See, they will come from afar--some from the north, some from the west...the Lord comforts His people and will have compassion on His afflicted ones...(from Isaiah 49)

God is close to the broken hearted. (Psalm 34:18)

Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him! (Isaiah 30:18)

Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge. (Ps. 62:8)

For God is greater than our hearts and He knows everything. (1 John 3:20)

How precious are thy thoughts O God. How great is the sum of them (Psalm 139:17)

Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in Him, for He shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between His shoulders. (DEUTERONOMY 33:12)

Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. (Psalm 27:14)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Adoption Tax Credit

THIS IS HUGE. If you have been thinking about adoption but holding back because of the cost, now is the time to do it! This was just announced:

There is good news for newly adoptive families from the health care bill that was signed into law on the 23rd. The adoption tax credit has been extended until the end of 2011 and increased from $12,170 to $13,170 for adoptions occurring after January 1, 2010 (it's retroactive). Even better, the credit is now refundable.


Bill text:
See page 903 of 906 at
If you find the 2409 page version, its on page 2400. It's the very last section.

USA Today's brief analysis:

"Taxpayers who adopt children: Effective in 2010, the bill makes the adoption credit refundable, increases the credit by $1,000 and extends the increased adoption credit through 2011."

This is such wonderful, amazing news. Many people have been praying for this. The adoption tax credit was scheduled to expire after 2010. Instead the government has chosen to INCREASE it and make it REFUNDABLE. Praise God!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Lots of Pictures

This is what you call a "Grandparents' Post." Lots of pictures of the grandchild. :) This is just a smattering of photos from the past couple of months that I have never gotten around to posting on the blog. Enjoy!

We went to the local park one chilly day when we just couldn't stand to be inside anymore.

Madeline has gotten good at sliding herself now. What a big girl!

Intently watching the train go by. Sweet rosy cheeks.

Madeline's first haircut. My sweet cousin Riley is a professional, and she did it for us. Madeline did great!

First time to go bowling. Daniel took his team at work one Friday afternoon, and we joined them. Madeline had lots of fun entertaining everyone.

Look! My belly!

Second care package sent to Little Brother. Those socks are THE BEST baby socks ever. They come from Dollar General! I give them to everyone having a baby, and so of course, he must have some too.

Playing dress up.

Playing dress up some more.

And yet more dressing up. She LOVES to wear mommy's shoes.

Playing with cousin Annie.

Madeline adores Waffle House. When we pass by and she notices the sign, she says, "Hey! Eat waffle? Eat waffle?"

Realizing that she just ate a little too much waffle and egg.

Playing Pla-Doh. (Notice the wings she is wearing and the dress up bracelet on her tray.)

Madeline brings me one stuffed animal after another, asking me to put a clean diaper on each one. We actually had twice this many animals with diapers on by the time we were finished.

We went biking on the first spring-like weekend that we had. I was afraid that Madeline might freak out, but she liked it!

Eating spaghetti. The girl has gotten really good with a fork lately.

Going through her bedtime routine with Mr. Bear. She discovered that it's pretty challenging to hold the bottle, rock, and read from the Bible storybook all at the same time.

Movie star.

I really shouldn't share this, but I couldn't resist. :) We are pre-potty training right now. We just practice sitting on the potty now and then to get used to it. She is reading her FAVORITE book in all the world - Kitty Up. She has had the entire thing memorized since she could barely talk. It has nearly a whole roll of tape on it, repairing torn pages, and it is kinda wrinkled now after getting left out in the rain.

Bunny bathrobe and bunny slippers. What could be better?

Riding the bouncy horsey at a friend's house.

And finally, riding her new Dora the Explorer trike that she got for her birthday.

Have a blessed day!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Recent Changes

If you are a frequent blog reader or are an adoptive family yourself, then you will, no doubt, already know about the two recent big changes affecting Ethiopian adoptions. But for those who don’t…

On March 10th
a huge change was announced by the Ethiopian Federal Court. (I have been thanking God over and over that this one DOES NOT AFFECT OUR FAMILY because our case was submitted to the court system before this change was declared.) All adoptive families are now going to have to make TWO trips to Ethiopia. This is what the email said that our adoption agency sent last Wednesday:

"Beginning today, families need to be prepared to travel to Ethiopia approximately 4 - 8 weeks after receiving a referral in order to be present in Ethiopia for their appointed court date. Families will remain in Ethiopia for roughly 5-7 days and will then return to the United States. After officially passing court, families will then travel back to Ethiopia approximately 10 -12 weeks later to pick up their adopted child(ren)."

Before this change, a representative from the adoption agency would have power of attorney for the adoptive parents. They speak on their behalf at the court hearing. When adoptive parents arrive in Ethiopia for the first time, they have already legally adopted their children.

From what I have heard this has happened because of a few difficult situations where a family has arrived in Ethiopia and decided that the child that they have already adopted is not a good fit for their family. Ethiopian adoptions are not reversible, and it is difficult for that child to ever have another chance to be adopted.

This is how adoptions work in Eastern Europe, and I certainly understand the reasoning behind the change. But my heart goes out to all of the adoptive families that this affects in a difficult way.

  • It adds $5000+ to the already overwhelming cost of the adoption.
  • It requires two trips in a relatively short time period – twice the time away from the children left at home, twice the time off of work, etc.
  • Adoptive parents will meet their child, grow to love him or her, and then leave him or her behind for months. (The waiting will be oh so much harder for them!)

I understand and support any policy that is best for the children being adopted, but I do fear that there will be fewer children adopted from Ethiopia because of this change. There are many families who have chosen to adopt from Ethiopia because only require one trip is required and consequently, the cost is significantly lower.

The second change comes from the U.S. Embassy, and it does affect us. The Embassy is conducting a more thorough investigation on each and every child to ensure that the child is “adoptable” because of the recent media allegations of misconduct in Ethiopian adoptions by a few agencies.

Prior to this, families could expect to travel approximately 6 weeks after passing court. So if we pass on April 6th, we would have probably gotten to fly to Ethiopia in mid-May. Now, THERE IS A 10-12 WEEK WAITING PERIOD AFTER PASSING COURT. So we are looking at mid-June to early July instead. Bummer.

They tell you before you begin the adoption process that everything is subject to change at any point. Big changes like this are just par for the course.

Please pray for the families who have just recently gotten referrals and are having to quickly prepare to make a trip (and pay for it!) much earlier than they expected.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Words of Comfort

Today has been a down day. I guess you can probably tell by what I wrote earlier. But tonight I have been out at the river. (We are blessed to have a retreat center in our own backyard.) I want to share God's words to this waiting mama's heart tonight.

Do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

- Hebrews 10:35-36

Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.

- Hebrews 12:1-2

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as a son...God disciplines us for our own good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

- Hebrews 12:7 & 10-11

Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.

- Hebrews 13:5

Basically, he told me: "Perservere and fix your eyes on Jesus. I am disciplining you, but I will never ever leave you."

I will sleep well tonight.


Adoption is not for the faint of heart.

When we set out on this journey, I thought the “waiting” part came before we received our referral. I had my sights set on the 4-6 month expected wait between the time that our dossier was sent to Ethiopia and the happy day that we would see our baby boy’s face for the first time. I imagined over and over how exciting and joyful that day would be. Then it’s all downhill from there, right?

Oh, I had no idea. The hard part begins the day that you get your referral. The day that you see your precious child for the first time and know that he is growing up without you and you have no control to change that. Every day you miss a “first.” Every day he is spending more time in institutional care. Every day he is bonding more and more with his nannies and not with us. Every day he is around other sick kids, so much worse than day care (Pneumonia, colds, and rashes have been going around the transition home. I even know of a child who contracted TB during the wait time.) Every day I wonder: Is this even going to happen – what if his birth mother never comes to court or the adoption gets held up by one of those eternal investigations.

And we have no control over anything. I know we can pray. (Believe me, we are!) But as a parent you just want to be able to do something to help. I want to go over there and find his birth mom and escort her to Addis myself. I want to go park myself at MOWA and tell them that I am not leaving until they write our recommendation letter. I want to just go live in a hotel in Ethiopia and care for Little Brother there until we are cleared to take him home. But I can’t do any of these things. Instead, I just try to keep myself busy and keep on waiting.

I know all of the right answers: God has a plan. We need to trust him. He is teaching us important lessons through this waiting time. We get to have extra time with just Madeline before the craziness of adding a new child to the family begins. I know, I know. But right now it just doesn’t make it any easier. None of this lessens the feelings of loss that I have right now. I want my baby.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

No #3

We did not pass court again today for the third time. Our son's birth mother was not able to leave her work at the gold mine to make the trip to Addis Ababa for the hearing. She must testify in order for the adoption to be completed.

She has been granted a leave of absence from work in early April, and so our case is scheduled for 4/6. A representative from our adoption agency is going to escort her on the journey.

Three weeks feels like a very long time to wait. Thank you continuing to pray for us, for Little Brother, and for his first mom's situation. I know that God has a plan in all this.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The King's Heart

I just heard from our adoption agency that the chances of us passing court on Wednesday are slim. Our son's birth mother has been found (we found this out a week ago), but her boss does not want to release her to go to court. She works in a gold mine in an extremely remote area. She is afraid that she will lose her job if she leaves. He has agreed to let her go for a few days in early April, but not now.

There is a flight that travels once a week to the remote area where she lives, and it leaves on Tuesday. (That would be tonight during the night.) The people working for our agency are still trying to get her on this flight which would allow her to be in Addis Ababa by Wednesday. But our case manager told me to not get my hopes up.

When I hung up the phone, I told the Lord that my heart is breaking waiting to go get our little guy. When we got our referral December 29th, we expected to be traveling by now. But the best case scenario is mid-June at this point.

Immediately, God reminded me of this verse in Proverbs:

The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord; he he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.

I know that the heart of the gold mine manager is also in the hand of the Lord. He can change it so that he acts favorably toward our son's birth mother. That is what I am praying he will do. Please pray with me that she will be released and miraculously make it to Addis to appear in court on Wednesday.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Madeline's Second Birthday Party

Because I am too tired to write very much, here is Madeline's birthday party in pictures:

Pink and yellow flowers everywhere for my girly girl. We made the butterfly favors together on her birthday.

We were blessed to have lots of family with us to celebrate.

Playing dress up and having a tea party with cousin Annie. Check out the high heels Madeline is wearing.

Yea for family and lots of fun new toys to play with! Thank you everyone!

Mmmmmm. I think I like birthday cake!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My Baby is Two

Happy birthday, Madeline! We started the day with a yummy birthday breakfast of crepes made by Daniel.

We had planned to have a little birthday party on Tuesday night since Wednesday nights are busy with our church community group meeting. But unfortunately, Madeline is on a "nap strike" and she was crashing and burning by about 6 pm. So.... after our birthday breakfast she got to hurriedly open her birthday presents before dad left for work. We gave her a play kitchen, plastic food, and the cutest pots and pans set ever. I found it all at a kids' consignment sale a few weeks ago, and I have been so excited about giving it to her that I have dreamed about it several times. :)

She had to "taste" every single food item in the bucket, one at a time.

A little while later, she came running down the hall with some food that she had "cooked" for me, and slipped and ended up with her first busted lip. That's no fun any day, but especially not on your birthday!

We've been practicing how to show people with her fingers that she is two, and it takes all of her concentration to hold only the proper fingers up. :)

This afternoon we went to our local park to feed the ducks, but found the the ducks have apparently left for the winter. I guess we're a little behind. We fed the fish instead. We discovered that they like to eat cheerios if you crush them up first. Then we had fun playing on the playground. Madeline has just gotten to where she will slide by herself. It amazes me that she can climb to up the stairs and slide down without any help from me. She is such a big girl.

We met Daniel for dinner out tonight, and then tried again to feed ducks at a different park in downtown Nashville. We were more successful on our second try.

I'm still not used to the fact that my girl isn't a baby anymore. She is more like a big kid every day, and she constantly amazes me by all she knows and can do now. Here are a few highlights:
  • She talks all the time - she uses several word sentences and even uses pronouns fairly well. She learns several new words most every day. It is so fun to watch her learn.
  • She knows all her upper case ABC's and a few of the numbers.
  • She can count to ten.
  • She knows her colors. Well, most of the time anyway. I love that any time I point to something red she exclaims, "Red Like Elmo!" I'm pretty sure that she thinks that is actually the full name of the color.
  • She loves to pretend - tea parties, baby dolls, and her new kitchen are favorites.
  • Stickers, markers, and play doh are part of every single day at our house.
  • She LOVES to be outside. She is completely happy for as long as we are outdoors - never whines, never even realizes that she is hungry. That's my girl.
  • She is starting to learn to climb, but she isn't too focused on things like that. She is a girly girl I'm afraid. (She loves to have her nails painted.)
  • We are struggling with nap time in a major way. A month ago, a day with no nap was unthinkable. Out of the blue, that has become the norm. I still make her lay down in her bed for an hour and a half or so, but she can't sleep. We have been having some long days and grumpy evenings (and a tired mommy) at our house. I am hoping and praying that this is just a spell that she will be over very soon.
I love my little girl so much, and I delight in watching her grow into the person that God made her to be.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


I am so happy right now. We just got our monthly update on Little Brother from AWAA. Once a month they send us a few new photos and benchmark data for his weight, height, head circumference, how much he eats, etc. In addition, we get to ask five questions each month of the transition home staff (the nannies that care for him and have access to his file).

The three photos that we got are so wonderful. He is smiling and looks so happy and healthy in all of them. We have gotten a couple of sets of photos lately from other adoptive families (you know who you are - thank you!) where he looks so sad and lonely. It has been making me so sad. But in these photos, he is full of smiles! I thank the Lord for this encouragement that he is doing OK.

AND in their comments about him, they said that he is "happy and smiley" and is "interactive and likes to play with people." Hooray! Maybe he was just caught at a bad moment when those other photos were taken. Who knows, they might have had to wake him up from a nap in order to see the people who were there to see him.

AND he now weighs 17 pounds and is in the 62nd percentile for his age! Just last month he was 14 pounds and at the 6 percentile! Obviously, they are taking good care of him and giving him plenty to eat. :) All of this makes me feel so very good.

AND, as if that isn't enough, I choose to ask some specific questions about his background and birth family this month. I didn't know if they would have the answers or not, but I figured that it certainly didn't hurt to ask. But I'm so glad that I did because I got some very interesting information about his birth family that could explain a lot of the questions that we have had. (Sorry, it's a little too personal to share specifics here.) I got the name of his birth village too.

So all of this makes me a very happy mama right now. I am seriously considering breaking all the rules and posting the new photos of him. I just want everyone to see him! (We're not allowed to post any pictures to the internet until we have passed court and he is legally our son.) I hope and pray that we will be able to do that two weeks from the today. I wish 3/17 would come quickly! I am praying about it constantly, and I have a really good feeling about this time.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Strike Two

We did not pass court today. Once again MOWA did not have our recommendation letter ready so our case could not be heard. It's a major bummer, but I feel peace about it. Our son's situation has become a bit more complicated as of late. It's probably not appropriate for me to share all of the details on this blog, but I will tell you that I am throughly impressed with our adoption agency, America World. They have gone above and beyond and then some to make sure that our family, our son, and his birth mother are all receiving the best care possible. I feel completely confident in their commitment to do the right thing for every single child placed into their care. I am thankful for this demonstration of their willingness to do whatever it takes to do their job well.

Meanwhile, we must continue to wait. Our next court date is Wednesday March 17th. I am clinging to these verses:

I am confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. - Psalm 27:13-14

God wants us to wait right now. He wants us to cling to him and maintain confidence that he is good and he is in control. It takes strength to wait! But I know that there is purpose in this struggle, even if I cannot understand it right now. I know that God wants what is good for us, for our son, and for his birth mother. I am clinging to that.