Sunday, October 31, 2010

Adopting "Your Own"....

Over this last year, there have been so many comments about adoption directed either to me, or to friends of mine who have adopted or have been considering adoption.  Some of them are encouraging.  Some are rude, or just plain infuriating. Right now, I’m going to discuss the latter, and talk about one of those comments that is very difficult to hear for a mother who is adopting two children from Ethiopia.

“Adopt your own.”

As someone in the middle of the international adoption process, I realize I have so much to learn.  I have so much to yet experience, and so many more inconsiderate comments to try to respond politely to.  But before I go on, let me say that without a shadow of a doubt, it is all worth it.  And for those of you who are wondering how I could possibly know it is worth it when I haven’t even held my children in my arms yet, you can rest assured that I already love my children with everything within me.  Just as a mother begins to love her little one as he or she rests inside that growing belly of hers, God floods my heart with anticipation and true love as I wait to meet my babies in person for the first time.  It is truly amazing.  

Several months ago, a friend of mine had started asking me about adoption.  She was in the beginning stages, and knew very little about the process.  She didn’t know what country she wanted to adopt from, or what agency to choose.  All she knew was that she wanted to adopt a little girl (having all boys at this point).  So, just like any of us would do when we have a question, she summoned the great and powerful Facebook.  She asked the question, “Which country should we adopt from?” and wow….that brought on the gamut of mostly uneducated and uncompassionate replies.  One lady even suggested to her that she make friends with a guidance counselor at a local high school so she could kind of intercept the pregnant teens that might not want to keep their babies.  (ummmm….yeah….I’m not even going to touch that comment right now.)  Honestly, though, the comments that stung the most for me, were the ones that spoke of adopting American children. 

“You should adopt your own.”  This is the mentality that was being expressed over and over again on my friend’s Facebook wall.  People were mentioning how important American children are, because they are right here where she lives, and so many are languishing in the foster care system.  Is this true?  Absolutely.  There are so many children in the U.S. who are in need of a family.  They deserve a family just as much as anyone else.  But what makes them “your own?”  Why should someone adopt an American child, over a child from Uganda, for example?

Is it because we live in the same country?   Is it because we might speak the same language?  Did God actually mean to say, “Pure religion is caring for widows and orphans that live in the same school district as you because those are your own?” You can read James 1:27 yourself.  I don’t think there is any translation of the bible that will say that. 

I don’t think God ever localized orphan care.  His heart is vast, and His love goes beyond measure.  Who can comprehend it?  It is truly amazing.

Let’s look at the great commission for a moment. Matt 28:19, “Go you therefore and make disciples of all nations […]”.  Mark 16:15, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to all creation.” And Even John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that who ever believes in him will have eternal life.”  So God loves people enough in all nations to die for them and bring them into the Body of Christ, where we are all brothers and sisters, to allow the same salvation that he gave to us to be given to them (and actually, the Jewish people were the first to receive salvation…not Americans).  But it seems like what I often hear from my fellow Christian Americans, is that we can all be a big family, but we should seek first to make American children our sons and daughters.  Is this truly what so many believe? 

The term “our own” is not even biblically supported.  We all were with out hope and we were a people who had no name, but He grafted us into the Vine (Jewish heritage, the promise of God, Abramhamic and beyond).  He has given us equal share in the Kingdom by His Grace and Blood.  Ephesians 2:12 says it best:  “Remember that at the time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.  But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.”

When I read over these scriptures once again, I am overwhelmed and humbled.  If Jesus had simply adopted “his own”, salvation and membership in the family of Christ would be reserved for the Jewish people alone.  Wow.

Yes, there are many children languishing in foster homes in the United States (there are also many children thriving in foster homes, because there are many good foster families!).  I have experienced the foster care system myself, having been a part of CASA, and also having gone through the foster to adopt classes.  It is no easier than any international adoption process, and it is heart-breaking to find out what turmoil so many children go through, being tossed around from family to family. The government gives these children food, clothing, and education, but their longing for a healthy and loving family life often goes unfulfilled, because they are caught up in a system of red tape.

But in Ethiopia, 1 out of 20 children die in their first month of life.  1 out of 10 dies before their first birthday.  1 out of 6 die before their fifth birthday.  (

In Russia, like many countries, once they are labeled an orphan, their chances at thriving are slim.  According to the Russia Ministry of Education, the typical orphan statistics are grim:
  • 60% of orphanage “graduates” are unemployed or not in school
  • 50% use drugs and abuse alcohol
  • 60% fall into prostitution to survive
  • 15% take their own lives

India has the largest population of child laborers under the age of 14 in the world.  There are conservatively 25 million orphans in India.  Many of these are caught up in the sex trade.  In 2009 it was estimated that 1.2 million of India’s children were involved in prostitution.  (,

Swaziland.  This small country in Africa has the highest rate of HIV/AIDS in the world, giving it the name, “Nation of Orphans”.  Generations of people in this country have been decimated by AIDS leaving many children orphaned and alone, without anyone to call mom or dad. 12% of the total population are considered to be orphans.  The average person in Swaziland only lives to be about 28 years old. (

These four countries represent just some of the statistics for orphans in the world.  Unlike the United States (even though I have seen the flaws and weaknesses in the United States own system), they don’t have a system set up to provide food, clothing, and education to their children.  Many of these countries want to take care of their orphaned children.  They want to provide them with all that the U.S. can provide for it’s orphans and neglected children, but unfortunately, more often than not, they lack the means or education to do so.  

Don’t the children of Ethiopia, Russia, India, and Swaziland deserve a home and family just as much as the orphaned child here in the United States?  Doesn’t every child in every country across the world deserve this?  Yes.  And little 5 year old, Melissa, living in a foster home in Kentucky, deserves a permanent loving family, just as much as 7 year old, Amara, living in an orphanage in Ethiopia, does.

I believe in adoption.  I believe in it whether you are adopting from the country you live in, or from a country far away from you.  I believe in my own adoption story, which reached it’s pinnacle when Christ adopted me, and took me in as His own, with every problem under the sun, called me “daughter”, and saved me from an eternity without Him.  Adoption saved my life.   

I.  Love.  Adoption. 

Every child is worth it.  Every life is worth it.  My little Alexander and Eliana are just as much “my own” as any child born in the United States would be.  A child being our own has nothing to do with a child’s birth country.  It doesn't even have to do with genetics.  It has everything to do with the immense love and bond God places in our hearts for our children.  It is the most amazing representation of what He has done for us as His children.   Thank you God, for allowing me to experience just part of the joy you experienced when I first called you Father.  I am in awe.  I am overwhelmed.  I am overjoyed that I get to call Alex & Elli, son and daughter, and that they truly are….my own.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

New shoes for little feet....

Last night we received a baby gift from some friends (Sandi & Andrew), and I just had to share the sheer cuteness of it!

These are Robeez, and they're perfect for little growing feet, because they have soft little soles.  LOVE them!!!  I can't wait to put them on Alex & Eliana's feet!  Can't WAIT!  :)  There are SO many cute pairs.

So, that's all I've got for today.  It's funny how something as simple as a pair of shoes can brighten your day just a little as you wait on bringing your babies home.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Court Dates, Kentucky Basketball, and Fund Raising....

Okay, so let's just say that last week was really hard.  We have been told for more than three weeks in a row that we would be getting our court date "this week."  It's one thing when you don't have a clue when it's going to happen, but when your agency actually tells you it's going to be any day, you cling to that hope.  And then when Friday has come and gone, your hopes are crushed until Monday comes, when you can start waiting with hope all over again.  I think our agency is just as surprised as us that we haven't gotten a date yet.  But, there is sun on the horizon.  We were told that last week another change in court procedures took effect.  This could be a positive thing!  Basically, the way it has been, is there is a preliminary court date, which just involves the birth family.  Then, 3-4 weeks later, we are appointed a court date, in which the children officially become ours in the site of the government in Ethiopia and the United States.  With this latest change, they are going to try to streamline court dates.  The way they want to try to do this is by having the birth family and adoptive family court appearances on the same day.  The birth family would come in the morning, and then we would go in the afternoon.  This would mean that we could have a court date 3-4 weeks earlier!  This is the bright side.  :)  There are some risks to doing it this way (apparently they are going to give adoptive families the choice to go to the earlier one or later one).  You could show up for court, but the birth family may not show up, further delaying things.  You could show up for court, and a birth mother might say she actually wants the children back, this happening usually after you have already met and bonded with your children.  The latter is not the norm, but it is possible.  At this point, Wes and I feel like the risk is worth it.  Of course, nothing will be definite until we actually have a court date.  Oh how I long for a court date!  It's coming.  I know it's coming.  :)

So, in the midst of the waiting, Wes and I are still trying to raise funds.  We have been fund raising fiends this year.  We have done knitted hat sales, where my mom has knit so many hats!  She is Norwegian, and knitting was a requirement in school, and now she can knit beautiful sweaters, dresses (for our baby girl), scarves, and hats.

By the way, you can buy one of these in any color you want for $25, and if you happen to have a favorite team (I'm guessing your favorite team is probably the Kentucky Wildcats, though), my mom can always make a hat that may or may not have letters that kind of look like that teams logo/letters (legally, we can't sell team hats....the hats above don't really stand for University of Kentucky, but for Unusual Kumquats...heehee).  They are $25, all hand made by a 100% Norwegian!  Just drop me an email if you're interested in one!

We have gone on crazy adventures to obtain signatures of the entire 2009-2010 Kentucky Basketball team (that's right....the team that had 5 of the top 25 recruits last year, including John Wall, baby!)and Coach Calipari on several basketballs.  And it paid off!  We paid about $35 per ball, and last week we sold 6 basketballs for $2500 within 4 hours of posting it on facebook.  AMAZING!!!

We sold T-shirts designed by the wonderful Kari Gibson and made around $1500 for our adoption!  By the way, there is still time to hop over to her blog and win a missions trip to Ethiopia in February (or you can nominate someone else to go if you win and you can't go).  You'll see the missions trip giveaway tab on the upper right hand column of this blog.  Get on over there!

And next month we will be doing one of our final fund raisers, which will be selling our newly designed T-shirts!  The unveiling will come soon!  Keep an eye out!  I will give you a little taste of the theme, though...."Worth It."

And finally, we just found out that Wes's work gives adoption assistance in the amount of $4,000 for EACH adopted child!  Yes, you read that right!  EACH.  That means we will be getting $8,000 from the wonderful St. Joseph Health System once we have brought Alexander and Eliana home!  Can you believe it!  I almost peed my pants when I found out the other day.  Yay for a company that believes in adoption so much that they give that kind of assistance! 

Recently my mom wrote me an email, saying she just felt like we were going to be able to finalize this adoption without any debt.  I think she was right.  More and more it is looking like everything is going to be covered.  I am humbled, overwhelmed, overjoyed, amazed, in awe....

So, I end this email with joyful hope.  There is nothing that can stop God from lavishing His love on His children!  Now God, you may lavish me with a court date.  ;)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Beautiful song from an adoptive family....

As yet another day passes with no court date (soon it will be a month since the courts reopened), I've been sitting here working and listening to Pandora (Kari Jobe station). This song just happened to come on while I was sitting here. It is so so beautiful, and it just really touched my heart as I was sitting here aching to be with my babies. If you haven't heard it yet, please listen....

And here is the story behind the inspiration for the song....I don't know why, but I bawled when I watched it....I love adoption.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

I Met My Son Last Night.... my dreams. Right before I woke up, I dreamed that Wes and I were in Ethiopia. It was just the two of us, and then two Ethiopian ladies walked up to us, one of them holding a little boy. It was our son, Alexander M. (apparently, they were going to bring Elli T. next). So Wes stepped away a few feet with the video camera and starting recording this moment. They handed Alex to me, and I just held him close, and then I started kissing every square inch of his head as tears ran down my cheeks. It was beautiful.

I woke up to a new day. It's Monday again, and unlike the rest of the working world, in the adoption world, you always look forward to Mondays, because that means your agency is open again, and perhaps there might be a spot of news about your babies.

It is almost 3 weeks since court reopened in Ethiopia, and we are still waiting on our court date. I've been pretty calm about it, but honestly my insides are just bursting to hear about that date, especially when others keep getting theirs. I'm sure hundreds of adoptive parents out there can relate.

The funny thing is, I know so many more who are still waiting on referrals.  When I was still in that group, I would think parents were crazy for getting uptight about waiting on travel dates.  I mean, they knew who their children were.  They were SO lucky!  But now that we are here, and we have seen the faces of our son and daughter, there is no patience to be had.  Just like before when we were dying to just get our referral, now we are just dying to finally go to Ethiopia and bring the miracles of our lives home.

So here's to Monday, a new work week, and lots of hope to hear of a solid date so we can finally buy our tickets to travel to see our son and daughter for the first time. The wait is oh so hard, but oh so worth it.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

One Month Ago Today...

One month ago, today, we received one of the most amazing phone calls of our lives....our referral call.  And on that call, we were told that not just one, but TWO beautiful babies were going to become a part of our forever family.  I cried the ugliest cry ever all day long, as is evidenced on our referral video.  I've been told it's difficult to watch without crying yourself....I'm just sayin''s a tear-jerker.  ;)

So here we are a month later, and life goes on as usual, but with a new anticipation and outlook on life.  We are scared and thrilled all in the same breath.  Scared, because it has been just the two of us for the last 7 years and we know nothing about being parents!  Thrilled, because it has been just the two of us for 7 years, and we can't wait to have two miracles join our forever story.

Now, we are just waiting on a court date (which looks like it might be around Christmas time), so we can go say "YES" to the Ethiopian courts, and meet our precious son and daughter for the first time in person.  What an amazing day that will be....

And for now, I will reminisce, and leave you with a reminder of the joy this beautiful adoption process has brought us.  If you haven't seen it, grab a tissue.  You're about to see God's heart unleashed in our lives in a seriously tangible way...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Mission Trip Giveaway! Go to Africa for FREE!

Okay, people...... Saddle up your horses, because you've got a trail to blaze!  (okay, so maybe I went to a Steven Curtis Chapman concert last night, and am chock full of his lyrics today!)  Seriously, though, this is an AMAZING giveaway!  One of my BESTEST BLOGGY FRIENDS EVER is giving away an AMAZING mission trip to ETHIOPIA with Visiting OrphansKari Smalley Gibson (along with her fabulous husband, Roger!) will be heading up this team from February 17-26th.  IT.  WILL.  CHANGE.  YOUR.  LIFE. 

So I am encouraging you right here and now, to get in on the action.  All you have to do is buy one single t-shirt.  Heck, you can buy 20 t-shirts!  But DO IT!  I'm going to right now!

This is the shirt I just bought!

And if you can't go yourself, you can enter for someone else.  How easy is that?!!!    You wouldn't have to fund raise.  You wouldn't have to use your savings.  You just get to GO!  That is amazing, and probably the best giveaway I have ever heard of.  So head over to her blog today, and get in on the action.  You will NOT regret it!

Get on over to the Simply Love Store right over HERE!