Friday, August 29, 2008

Summer 2008 Recap

Peter Pan!

Lauren and Olivia were part of a Peter Pan play this summer through community education. Olivia is a big fan of Peter Pan!! Lauren played the part of a lost boy and Olivia was a "Cleveland Indian" baseball player. (The Peter Pan play was a knock off of the real Peter Pan movie - very cute!) The above is one of Olivia's creations of PP on the computer.

Avery tried out gymnastics this summer and had a blast! By her last class she was able to perform a cartwheel and walked SOLO (without a spotter) on the high beam!

The summer was not complete without time on the our boat and lots of swimming!

4th of July Neighborhood 'Kiddie' Parade

Rides at an amusement park:

3 weddings in August, an opportunity to take our family picture:

Campfires and S'mores

A visit from a special friend from Belguim:

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Why Ethiopia??

First of all, Steve and I chose our agency, CHSFS because of their long standing reputation in the adoption world. We decided against domestic adoption due to the small risk that a birth parent could reclaim a child after a certain amount of time the child would be with our family. We were uneasy about this possibility.

Then, we looked at all the options we had through our agency to adopt internationally. When we began our application process, we were able to come to our decision to adopt from Ethiopia fairly easily by a process of eliminating other countries for reasons outside of our control. For one, China went to a 5 year average wait for a referral; Russia requires 2 separate trips and Korea only refers children up to 14 months in age.

Also, the process of adopting through Ethiopia is more predictable than other countries. Our agency operates their own care center in the capital city. They seem to have a good relationship and good communications with the government and those who orchestrate the adoption process in Ethiopia.

In addition, the travel schedule works well for our family. We are required to travel to Ethiopia to retrieve our son but we are only required to be in the country for 1 week. The shorter length of travel appealed to us, especially since our 3 girls who will be waiting for us at home when we travel.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Naming our son

We will name him one of two ways: keep his Ethiopian name or give him a new name with his Ethiopian name as his middle name.

We've had some discussion in our family about what we should name him. The girls have given us a thumbs down on all the names Steve and I have come up with so far. And they have their own ideas, which don't appeal to us either.

After much debate the other day, Olivia stated that we should wait for our referral and then name him. What a great idea! It makes sense to wait because there is a chance that we will keep his birth name.

As a side note: some people when they ask about the adoption, they refer to him as "the boy". Like, "have you heard any news about the boy yet?"

Referring to our son as the boy just doesn't sit well with us. Even though we don't know our son yet, in our hearts, he is our son. We thought it fitting for now to give him a name to call him, so we came up with the nick name "Jr".

Friday, August 15, 2008

What led us to adoption?

There are several events that led up to this life changing decision to adopt.

This is where it all began.... but please read on because our decision to adopt goes beyond this verse:

James 1:27 states that Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from becoming polluted by the world.

This verse at first gave me a heavy feeling - an enormous feeling of responsibility! I've been blessed with a very comfortable lifestyle all my life. I guess you can say that I am unfamiliar with making large sacrifices. It's not like I haven't experienced difficult storms in my life. It's just that God has blessed me abundantly in respect to the comforts of life. I have received much more than I deserve.

At the beginning of this journey, Steve and I began having several discussions about how we could better serve needs in our world. We have mailed money to this cause and that cause. We have tried to give where we felt the need was greatest.

Until one day, Steve commented about how nice it would be to actually witness where the money is helping - to see first hand the fruits of our labor. Writing a check, placing it in an envelope with a stamp, when you do it without obligation, is a good thing. However, there are ways to experience the results. I know there are many seeds we sew in our lives, some of which we may not know the harvest until we join our heavenly Father in heaven.

When we are called to take care of the orphans, we have the option to monetarily support organizations that help orphans. Steve and I knew we had the capacity and resources to do more than this. We began praying about adoption.

Adoption seems extreme - it did for us at first. I prayed many times that God would confirm the tugging at our hearts. Deep down I wanted God to take this tugging away from me. And for several months, I actually chose to ignore this pull on my heartstrings.

Fear that adoption would be the path God leads us to began to overwhelm me. I feared the adoption process. I feared the sacrifices our family would have to make. I feared the changes in the make up and dynamics of our 'perfect' family. I feared being judged by others. I feared having to come up with answers to tough questions when the answer is buried in my heart.

Then there is this verse:

"and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always: he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail." Isaiah 58:10-11
(**Incidentally, God led me to this verse before we started our adoption journey. I didn't know at the time that this verse would be another confirmation of our decision and take away my fear of adopting.)

When I finally came around again to pray for God's will for the adoption, God replied in the most profound ways. One time when I was making preparations to attend a Christian Women's conference in Colorado, I specifically asked the Lord to confirm the tugging at my heart on this trip. And He did. On my flight out there, I sat next to a woman who shared with me how her and her husband built their family through the adoption of 5 children.

And that wasn't the only way God spoke to me. At the conference, there was a woman who joined my group of friends at our table one night for dinner. She introduced herself and went on the say, "and my husband and I have adopted a girl from China and let me tell you if any of you are thinking about adoption, let this be confirmation that you should adopt." Wow! When you pray for discernment, sometimes God will not only send you a clear message but He will send the message with a messenger!

I am ashamed to admit that even after this conference, I continued to have doubts about whether adoption was the right path. But God is faithful and He continued to confirm our decision in many more profound and perfect ways, such as through a dream, which is an event that is very special to me and I will always cherish. In this dream God introduced me to the voice of our child that we will be adopting.

God placed the desire to love another child into our hearts. He also showed me through my dream that He has placed on our child's heart a love for our family.

What first started out as a feeling of responsibility has evolved into our wanting to add to our family. I no longer feel heaviness in this journey but pure joy as we wait to be introduced to our son.

Honestly, not everyone in our immediate family has been on board this whole journey - I did not fear however because I knew that God would work through each person's heart if this is His will. Now, I am grateful to report that all of us await our new son's and brother's arrival with open hearts and excitement, to which I give all the glory to God!

For one, our girls have come a long ways on this journey. At the beginning, they had many questions, much anxiety and fear about this decision. Recently, they pray almost every meal time for the adoption process to go well and that God takes special care of our child. They have been asked to make some not so easy sacrifices but what touches my heart the most are the sacrifices they volunteer like........ "mommy, we don't need any Christmas presents this year because we are getting a new brother and that will be the best Christmas present ever!"

I know this has been a long and drawn out explanation of this journey, but I just had to share the ways God has had his fingerprints in this the whole trip. I have surrendered the weight of this responsibility to our Lord and take great privilege in soon to be the earthly parent to yet another child...And I have all the confidence that God will carry this journey out to completion in His perfect way.

Thanks for letting me share!
=) Tammy

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Our girls

This entry I will devote to introducing our three daughters...

First of all, we had a special visitor to our home yesterday, our middle child, Olivia's, 3rd grade teacher. She left with me a form to fill out about Olivia. We are suppose to list 5 words that best describe her. I thought this would be a great way for me to introduce all our daughters:

Our oldest, Lauren, is 12. She is 1. musically talented, 2. ambitious, 3. intelligent, 4. methodical and 5. an avid reader. Lauren's current passions include the violin and reading the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. This year she will be venturing off to the local, public Jr High, which will be quite a change from the small private school she has been attending since Pre School. However, we have prepared her and we are confident that she will adjust well to her new school.

Olivia is our middle child and she is 9. She is 1. creative, 2. fun, 3. compassionate, 4. responsible and 5. personable. Just to give you an example of her compassion .... her and her younger sister Avery, pooled all their money together and gave it to my husband and I for the adoption. That moment brought tears to our eyes. She also created a container for loose change and labeled it "for adopshun!" (her spelling) and placed it on the kitchen counter for anyone to contribute.

Our youngest daughter, Avery is 5. She is 1. lovable, 2. happy, 3. active, 4. inquisitive and 5. social. She is very easy going and always has a smile on her face. She has no fears of starting K this year and looks forward to meeting new friends. She also loves the attention she receives from her sisters' older friends!

Steve and I embrace all their differences and encourage the positive in their personalities. We have been so blessed with the fun dynamics each girl brings to our family. Most importantly, however, all three girls share with Steve and I a love for the Lord.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Our adoption journey so far

Steve and I began our adoption journey by attending an information meeting March 2007. After much prayer, discussion and research, we sent an initial application to our agency, Children's Home Society and Family Services (CHSFS) in January 2008. Soon after, we were invited to attend a Pre Adoption Class (PAC) at our agencies headquarters in St Paul, MN.

We attended the PAC meeting in March and continued our quest to adopt from Ethiopia by completing a home study and dossier, making us referral ready May 21, 2008. The home study and dossier included a multiply of forms that needed to be collected and notarized, including a statement from our bank, Steve's employer, local police, just to name a few. We also were fingerprinted by an immigration officer for approval through the US Homeland Security for our Visa to bring our future son home. This approval along with our dossier is now in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia.

The Wait:

We have requested and have been approved for a boy 12 - 36 months old. With three girls already, we thought a boy would add some fun dynamics to our family. Our agency gave us an average wait time of 6 - 9 months. However, we believe the referral could come quicker since we are adopting a slightly older child and there is more of a demand for infants.

Our agency cannot tell us where we are on a list of those waiting for a referral but I am part of a forum and on the forum's "unofficial" list (which accounts for 1/3 of those waiting), we are first in line for boy of the age we have requested. This gives me hope that we will not have to wait the 6 months but if we do wait that long, I'm trying not to get anxious because I know God has the right child picked out for us.