"Sometimes I'd like to ask God why He allows poverty, famine, and injustice in the world when He could do something about it...but I'm afraid God might ask me the same question."

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Ripple Effect

One of the most incredible parts of the adoption experience is the number of people that are touched by the process. It excites me that, in some way, we might be the spark that helps someone consider adoption, choose to get involved in orphan care, travel on a mission trip, etc. We have been fortunate to have good friends who have influenced our decision to adopt. Their adoption experience has, no doubt, had an impact on our family. We have learned so much from them, gained so much support from them and continue to receive so much encouragement from them!!!

(my wonderful friend and her beautiful daughter)

This is a picture of my awesome friend and her daughter. Her little girl came home from Guatemala about three years ago and has been a blessing to many since she has been here! I have heard countless stories of people that have witnessed her adoption and been moved by her story. It is awesome when people that had never even considered adopting start to think about it because they see a wonderful family do it and are able to see the blessings that follow.

I love the quote (by Paul Shane Spear) "As one person I cannot change the world, but I can change the world of one person." I look forward to changing the life of the one little girl we hope to bring home. This is a beautiful sentiment, but I really think that through one adoption, many more lives are changed. Take, for instance, all of the friends and relatives of ours that had no idea we were planning to adopt. It may come as a surprise to some of them. Now they are thinking about it and hopefully it doesn't seem too weird... Maybe they will tell someone about us, who talks to someone else about it, and maybe that person is interested in learning more about adoption, etc. What an awesome "ripple effect!" Or, maybe, young people that go through the process with us will learn from our experience. I know our children will grow up realizing that adoption is an option and an experience that can be part of any family. On Christmas Eve we told more of our family that we were in the process of adopting. Our 18 year old nephew said "I think that's cool. I would like to do that some day." His girlfriend said the same thing! How exciting to hear something like that from young people. They didn't seem to think it was weird at all! It just makes me smile to think about the potential "ripple effect" we may have!!!

(Our nephew and his girlfriend)

I look forward to 2010 and all of the "ripples" that come along the way!!!
Happy New Year!!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Annual Gingerbread House Party

We are so lucky to live in a wonderful neighborhood with the best friends on Earth! One of the many special things that we do together, is build awesome gingerbread houses each year. Our friends invite families over to create holiday masterpieces. Our kids love the decorating...each year our "house" has a new twist to it. This year one highlight was the addition of little Christmas lights along the roofline of the house. One of the best parts of the night is connecting with families that we have not seen for awhile. Isn't it wonderful when the holidays bring people together to celebrate? Thanks to our friends The Kneelands for a great night!!!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Do you have an elf on your shelf?

We are lucky enough to have an elf that visits our house each year in December. He showed up on our porch one night a few years ago, and he has been coming back each year to check in on us and make sure we are behaving ourselves. He has an important job. He watches us and then flies back to the North Pole each night to report his findings. He ends up in a new spot each morning...the kids like to find him when they wake up... Today I found myself feeling a little overwhelmed with shopping, wrapping, baking and entertaining... I caught the elf looking at me and realized that I needed to take a few deep breaths, relax, and enjoy the magic of the season. If nothing else, the elf is a great reminder that the season isn't about presents and goodies. Most importantly, I hope our elf is able to "report" that we are a family that understand the true meaning of Christmas. As our youngest reminded me today, "The real reason we have Christmas is because Baby Jesus was born."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Twas The Night Before Christmas...for the orphan...

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the land
there are parentless children, with no toys in hand

No stockings to be hung by the chimney with care
no hopes for a family soon to be there

Their beds are not snug--but cold and quite bare
there are no goodnight kisses--no one to care

While we in our homes, laughing in delight
all settle down for a Merry Christmas Eve night

When in some one's heart--there arises a clatter
there are children in need--who's lives really DO matter!

Away to the computer please go in a flash
to see the sweet face with whom YOU could be matched!

While a child you see--their beautiful face all aglow
could this be MY child--could I already know??

When in the dreams of the orphan--what always appears
is a family to love them, to care and hold dear

As you stare at that child--your heart beats real quick--
for you know in your heart that sweet face will stick

More dreams sweet children have--to call parents by name-
come mama! come daddy! come family to claim!

To the ends of the earth--your heart seems to call
now child--I'm coming--I wish for you ALL!

So on a plane to your child--over rooftops you flew
to hold this dear soul--a wish did come true

And then in a twinkling-I saw through the door
this child of my heart-that was waiting no more

As I got my camera and was turning around-
into my arms did he come with a bound!

He was dressed in many layers from his head to his foot
and into my heart his life was just put

there was no round face--no plump little belly
just sad little eyes, and legs shaking like jelly

In a swirl of a pen, and a stamp and a seal
my world became brighter--like I could suddenly feel!

We spoke not a word--they weren't needed at all
and I knew in this moment where I got this call

God layed his hands on my heart--and to the occasion I rose
and He could do it for you--this question He'll pose.....

It won't be a shout--no not even a whistle
it won't be real clear--but faint like a whisper

Can you make room in your heart--if you try with your might?
And make a difference for one--help them see the light?

I can see you exclaim as you hold your child tight--
Thank you Lord for this gift--you got it EXACTLY right!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Sharing The News

Well... it has been about six months since we started working on our adoption. It has been much longer that we have been thinking, talking, and praying about it. We have enjoyed the fact that no one knew what we were up to. It was a special little secret that we would share with our family and friends when the "time was right." We decided that since we have submitted all of our paperwork and are at the point of waiting for a referral, we better start sharing our news. We had a great weekend- our daughter had a dance show and all of the grandparent were over for dinner following the show. The kids were so excited to finally be able to talk about our their new little sibling!!! The kids grabbed a bottle of non-alcoholic champage and made the announcement... "We are going to be getting a little sister!!!" I think we could have knocked all four grandparents over with a feather. It was silent for a few seconds before the questions came and the excitement surfaced. I have to admit that we were nervous about what their reactions would be. These are people that haven't learned what we have about Ethiopia. They grew up in a different era. My mom has even been known to innocently say the word "colored" about people of a different race (I have since convinced her that the word "colored" is not used anymore... I used to say, "really? What color were they, purple?") My mom called me the next day and assured me that she is truly excited about our adoption. She went to the movie The Blind Side the following day and said it touched her even more knowing that we were going to be adopting. It means the world to me that she is understanding and excited about it. All in all it was wonderful to make the announcement and gain their support and encouragement. We are blessed to have family that realizes that we are going to all grow in love and be blessed beyond measure by the new addition to our family. The most wonderful commment of the night came from my father-in-law. He was getting his coat on and appeared to be deep in thought...this is a man who was raised in the south before the Civil Rights era...he looked at us and said, "If I was a little girl, I would want to be a part of this family." It was so touching! We are so lucky to have such a wonderful, supportive family!!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Girl Effect

This is one of my favorite videos... it means a lot to me because one of the things that I have learned throughout the adoption process is that girls are still not valued as much as boys in many parts of the world...

***Be sure to pause the music at the bottom of the blog before watching***

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Dossier Is Done!!! - First Blog Post -

Our dossier is done! Those are four words I wondered if I would ever be able to type. Those four words may not mean anything you if you haven’t adopted, but they are very exciting words for those on the road to international adoption. Our family has made the wonderful decision to adopt a little girl from Ethiopia…Yup… Africa. What an incredible journey to be on! The road will be long, but we are hoping to welcome our little girl home within the year (maybe even sooner!).
The reason we decided to adopt was because we were called to do it. I can’t really say why or when we were called, but the seed was planted long ago. We have spent years learning about adoption, experiencing adoption with friends, volunteering with organizations doing work with orphans, and learning all about Ethiopia. Don’t get me wrong…the decision to adopt was not entirely “easy.” The decision did not happen overnight. There have been times when we questioned why we would do this… “Do we really need to answer this call?” The ultimate decision has been based on the quote at the top of our blog… if not us, then who should be helping these kids??? Before deciding to adopt from Ethiopia, we wanted to be sure that the reason we were doing it was because we want to have another child be a part of our family. Our daughter will not be a charity case. She will bless our family more than we will ever hope to bless her. That being said, adoption is also one of the many ways to help others.
There are about 6 million orphans in Ethiopia. It is hard to picture 6 million children without families. Imagine you are sitting in Lambeau Field (The Packers are a big deal around here) and you look around the stadium. The stadium holds about 60,000 (or more) Packers fans each time they have a home game. You would have to fill Lambeau Field up with orphans 100 times to equal the number of children who are without parents in Ethiopia alone! There are 147 million orphans in the world…
So, what can we do? In my opinion, we are all called to do something, but not all the same thing. To some God says, "This orphan is no longer an orphan, she is your daughter." Others might take care of children by sponsoring a child in Guatemala to go to school, and others might volunteer to go on a mission trip. Some may care for those living in their own community – volunteering at food banks, mentoring young mothers, etc. As a family, we have had the privledge of collecting underwear, socks, formula and medicine for little ones in orphanages. Our daughter has had the awesome experience of helping to organize a collection drive at her school - nothing is too small or too big. What makes our world special is that we are all called to action in different ways. All of these opportunities are equally important.
Here are some questions that we know some people might ask:
Aren’t you scared of what it might do to your family? How it will affect your kids, and what kind of short- and long-term implications might it have? Aren’t you afraid you are going to be taking something away from your children that is legitimately theirs? Will they feel ripped off? I can tell you that all three of our biological kids are extremely excited about our adoption plans. They have been learning about Ethiopia and over the past two years. It has been awesome seeing our daughter carry her Africa bag to school instead of a regular book bag. It is amazing to hear our son ask over and over why we are not adopting sooner, and it has been heart- warming to listen to our youngest pray for his “sister in Africa” when he says his bedtime prayers. The kids are excited.I have read in depth about how adoption can change family dynamics. Everyone that I have known or spoken to who has adopted and had biological children first, has told me the same thing: It will be wonderful for your kids. One blog that I love to read shared this bit of information:
“To each and every person reading this post who knows the concrete conviction of being called to care for orphans yet also bears the weight of the accompanying thoughts of fear, I want you to know this...Please hear me loud and clear…You are NOT taking anything AWAY from your birth children. Instead, what you are doing is imparting to them something eternal: You are expanding their capacity to love. Think about that for a minute before you read anything else. How do you plan to teach your child to love others unconditionally and in total compassion without giving them the opportunity to do so? I'm telling you now, You CAN'T.”
– Heidi W.
Our biological children will have a greater capacity of love in their hearts than I could ever impart to them by just talking about the needy kids in the world and showing them pictures of little kids in Africa with bloated bellies. Our kids may have to sacrifice a little, but will understand that our lives are no more valuable than the orphans in Ethiopia – they know that we just happened to be blessed by being born on the continent we were. Helping others does not steal anything from us.

We hope to keep family and friends updated about our adoption through this blog. I promise that most posts will not be this long! We look forward to sharing information about the process we have gone through and are going through. Please join us on our journey – we appreciate all of the encouragement and prayers you can provide along the way!