Saturday, October 31, 2009

October Update

We received an email from our agency with updated photos and information on our kiddos! We finally saw a picture of them together, and you could just tell they love each other, and that they have hearts full of joy. They were both smiling, and we just can't wait to go get em!

We also learned they do not speak Amharic, so that makes me a little more anxious to go get them. It's strange to explain, but I was more at peace believing they had care givers who were talking to them, explaining their transition, coaxing their grief, etc, but now that I know they don't understand what they're saying either, it makes me want to hasten this step of their transition. But, it's all God's perfect timing, and He is in control of taking care of them and protecting them and making them feel love, so what more could I ask for them. . .

Can't wait until December 1st, when we pass court, and I can post their sweet faces for all of you to fall in love with too!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

We have a COURT DATE!!!!!!

So God speaks to me, and since He knows I hear Him, He's very specific, and He's very intentional with me. I could list countless stories of God asking me to do AB or C, and the moment I did how the blessings poured in. So, back in September God asked me to fast from Sugar until we received our referral. And I did, expecting it to be 9 months or more, and our referral came at 9 days. And then our referral was pulled the next morning, but I obstinately refused to go back on the fast. For days I persisted in my resistance, constantly justifying to God why it wasn't fair. . . and finally, in a prayerful fit of tears, I repented of my bad heartitude and agreed to be obedient. This time, He called me to fast from flour and sugar, not until our referral, but until we traveled, with my main prayer focus to be on our court date. Our court date? But we didn't even have a referral yet, I argued! But, I agreed and committed to Him I would fast and pray.
While I was still laying there, the phone rang, and it was our second referral call, for our siblings! I was on fire for the Lord, fasting without reservation, praying diligently for the Lord to bless our court date. Court opened, dates were being assigned, I was being obedient, things were clicking along. But then, for some reason, I don't even remember why, I justified breaking the fast. God had told me at the beginning I could break the fast for our family birthdays, for Thanksgiving, and Christmas, but it wasn't any of these, and I was just being rebellious. And I continued through this rebellion for a couple of weeks. And court date assignments STOPPED. Not a single one.
My birthday came and went, as did the kids, and I began to have a change of heart with God and my fasting disobedience. I repented, agreed to return to it, and struggled for two days to be obedient. I'm the best justifier in the world, and it gets me no where but outside of God's will for my life.
Yesterday, I woke up and had a new resolve with Him. Jason and I committed the entire family to a different particular fast until we passed court and with that, I was able to withstand temptation and fulfill my fast yesterday. I fell asleep in peace last night knowing I had chosen wisely all day.
God has never been unresponsive to me, He always rewards my efforts to press into Him more, and yet, I'm still shocked every time He does. I hoped for some movement in the Ethiopian courts today, there are 11 families ahead of us in line for court dates, and I just simply wanted to see their names pop up on the Yahoo Group and rejoice with them over their court dates, I was poised to type a gazillion exclamation points, and then it happened! An email from our agency, could it be, it was!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
OUR COURT DATE ARRIVED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Who am I that God rests His favor so abundantly on my family? Who are we that He is so lavishly pouring Himself out on us??? May we turn it back as Glory to His Name!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Pray, Pray, Pray for our children's first earthly father to appear in court, for all documents to be in place, so that we may be one of the 50% of families who pass court on the first go round.
PRAY DECEMBER 1st!!!!!!!!!!!! That means, the night of November 30th until the morning of December 1st, because of the time difference. PRAY WITH US TO BRING THEM TO THEIR NEW HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh, and one more note, our first care package will be traveling to Ethiopia on 11-18-2009, and will arrive to them on Thanksgiving Day! Which means that over our Thanksgiving celebrations, our children will be seeing the faces of their new family for the first time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How cool is that??????

The Bio-Sibling Effect of Adoption

I've answered this question many times to myself and others, and this mother's wisdom says it better than I ever could. I watched a TLC program about a mom with 17 children one night and her quote at the end of the program was, "If you have an opportunity to expand your love, take it." It's been posted in my kitchen ever since. This post echos that thought.

From Blessings from Ethiopia - The Weimer Family

To each and every person reading this post who knows the concrete conviction of being called to care for the older orphans yet also bears the weight of the accompanying thoughts of fear, I want you to know this...Please hear me loud and clear, as we have now SIX times over displaced our "original" kids' birth order:

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.

My biological children have a greater capacity of love in their hearts than I could ever impart to them by just giving them a safe Christianity, by maintaining their status quo, by simply modeling "godliness" as parents (as if that's the end-all be-all for a Christian family). My kids...all of them...have lived out self-sacrifice and understand (because they live it!) that laying down one's life does not steal anything from us. That is the lie of the devil, who would have us believe that sacrifice is not worth it; that there is nothing for us in return; that God doesn't really mean what He says when He said to His followers that "anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. [Because] Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it" (Matthew 10:38-39).

Do you really believe that? That whoever LOSES his life for Jesus' sake, for Jesus the Orphan's sake, will actually FIND it? Ask yourself honestly. Because you might answer YES prematurely. I have no doubt that you might believe it for yourself, but do you really believe it for your children, too? That if they "lose" their "place" in the family that Jesus will instead impart to them LIFE? REAL life???

What is birth order anyway but just a sequence of how your child came to you? Let's not make an idol of that sequence. Because that's what it IDOL. Something standing in the way of you taking up the Cross to follow Him, to BE JESUS in this world. Let's not place a value on birth order that God did not intend to be there.

Consider the older orphan. Consider the sibling groups. Consider the ones who are not often considered.

And whatever you do on your adoption journey, PLEASE I beg you, do NOT steal from your children the opportunity for their love capacity to be expanded. Do not deny them the true gift of learning early in life that "My life is not my own."

When your feisty and spunky 7-year-old biological daughter, who is now the middle child of 9 after being knocked down to #5 from #2, pleads "Please, Mommy, Please!!! I want another sister my age!!! Can we PLEASE adopt again?!!," your heart will beat out of your chest, not just because you can envision another child saved, but because you know that your daughter will NEVER EVER live a limited, safe Christianity. She won't even know what that means. In fact, she won't even have the capacity do so.

And all because you didn't limit her, either. You didn't limit God.

Give your children the gift of the greater capacity to love. Let it ripple out into the future. Let it change the world.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Court Dates and Speculating

So, I usually hate to speculate, because God is so full of surprises that I'm usually proven wrong, but I can't help but try and figure out some things with our adoption timeline. . . So, we'll start with the for sure news . . . the family who is scheduled to take our first care package to B&D passed court today, yeah!, so our care package will be on its way soon! We can't wait to know they've seen our faces too!
Another family unfortunately did not pass and announced they were rescheduled for court on November 24th. Although, court dates are not necessarily scheduled in order of referral, they generally are, and we are number 12 on the list of yahoo group families waiting for a first court date. I don't anticiapte getting a court date until mid December at this point, if that early, so we are going to take a deep breath and conclude that we will not travel before Christmas. We're a little surprised that there are no families in our group scheduled for court between the 12th and 24th, and only 4 families for the entire month of November at all. We're hoping this is not a trend that continues, we're anxious to get them home and shorten the amount of in-transition time between their two families.
And, that's all we know, or guess, for now. We have 12 screaming 8 year olds in the other room here for Nathan's birthday. Guess I better down this Excedrin Migraine pill and go back into the trenches and relieve Jason for a bit.

Friday, October 16, 2009

OUCH - 14 Times and counting!!!!

Today was the day Brooklyn has been dreading for months since we agreed she should travel with us to Ethiopia - vaccines at the International Travel Clinic!
She fared quite nicely I'd say, thanks to her age and her Immunization Records, she only received two shots today, the Flu Vaccine, and her Typhoid Fever vax! Jason had 5 shots, and I had to have 6! Ouwie!
So, you're counting 2+5+6 and thinking I can't add because that's only 13, not 14. . . .
The real ouch was when she tallied our bill to $725.00!!!!!!!

Since we were already at $725, we decided to save spending an additional $180 and get Brooklyn's Meningitis and Hep A vaccines at her pediatrician , and we all have to go back for the Yellow Fever vaccine next month which will be another $450 dollars. PLUS! We are researching whether or not the boys need to have the Typhoid vaccine. Jason and I also have to go back for 2 more Hep B shots next month with the Yellow Fever, the boys have to have their Hep A and Flu shots, and then we all have to have the Hep A and B boosters again in 6 months. Geeze!!!

All worth it though! I feel like I've done a hundred push ups. . . think I'll go take some Advil.

Our Nephew Rhett!

My brother and sis-in-law are adopting their second baby through AWAA China, and today she awoke to new pictures of her son! They are waiting on their TA, basically an appointment with the consulate in China and their travel authorizations, etc, so they can go pick him up! We're both hoping to travel by the end of the year, but God is in control of the time table and we're both good with His perfect plan.

Enjoy his adorableness!

More Bureacratic Hoops on the Horizon

Ethiopia, a country roughly twice the size of Texas, has approximately 5 million orphans. Earlier this year, all court cases for children who were registered as abandoned, rather than relinquished, were halted in their process while Ethiopia conducted an internal investigation into whether or not children were being obtained by orphanages illegally for the purpose of selling adoptions. Our agency and orphanages were not included in this investigation, but it nonetheless held up many of our families waiting to travel and gather their children home. The investigation was completed, new process were installed by the Ethiopian Government, and all those cases have been resolved and the children are home with their forever families.
Now, in response, some 6 months later, our government has extended the issuing of visas for adopted Ethiopian children from one week to possibly several months while they conduct their own investigation into each child's legitimacy for adoption. A process that is already conducted in court by the Ethiopian justice system. In order to pass court, our children's father must appear in court to testify why he can not raise his children himself, and prove their orphan status, and then we are legally declared their parents. Now, the US Government is saying it wants to investigate that again.
Satan is just trying to screw with adoption. He is trying to make it as difficult, long, and bureaucratic as possible to discourage new families from pursuing adoption, and to leave these 5 million children in bondage.
We do not know how long this could delay our "expected timeline" but the truth is, it doesn't change the day our children will be in our arms for the first time by one second. God has been in control, knew this was coming, and prepared everything perfectly in full understanding of this coming. We are at peace with His ability to fight this war and to win the battle for these children.
Pray with us that this does not become a hindrance in the adoption process for any family or any child who needs a home, and that this situation would be quickly resolved and absolved.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Shots - Shots - Sing a Song of Shots

So I took Brooklyn to the Dr. today just to confirm that she did in fact have the swine flu, and since she's over the worst of it, she was simply thrilled to get a three week pass from P.E. out of going to the Dr, until our impending travel came up in conversation. Although I've been consciously aware, and discussed the need for international travel vaccines often, I've never put it into a time frame in my head. Today I realized I'm already behind! So add that to our list of to-do's. Pray for us Friday! We'll be going to get our shots and Brooklyn said she'd rather have the swine flu again, although she quickly added a "not really God," to the end of that exclamation!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Court is Now in Session! All Rise!

We received word today from our agency that the courts in Ethiopia did open for cases finally and all the families who were scheduled for last week posted their new court dates on the board today!!! Our agency is hoping to have court dates scheduled for all of us within the next 2-3 weeks!! So exciting!!!!!
In the meantime, we've done some shopping for our care package and have set the things out in the kitchen for the kids to play with, the cat to rub on, the dog to sniff etc. They should have our love (and crazy smell) all over them by the time it's time to send them to Ethiopia!

Friday, October 9, 2009

We've seen their faces, what's next?

We've set their beautiful faces as the backdrops on our phones, they've been added to the refrigerator, and we smile every time we look at their precious eyes, and noses, and sweet cheeks. . . They've been grafted into our hearts, and we're beginning to long to go to them, hug them, assure them God has redeemed their future, and bring them home. But what happens next many of you are asking us. . .

The next thing is that we go to court. Here's what our agency said to us regarding court. . .
The court confirmed today that they will not be reopening until Oct. 12th. Once they begin work it will likely take a week or more for them to issue new court dates.
I know this time of waiting can be so hard as you long to be united with your children. I am sorry that we will have to wait more time for any new news. I am hopeful that new court dates will be given for early November but we will not receive any confirmation from the court until they begin work again. At this time, the court is putting all new cases onto a waiting list and will provide us with your family’s confirmed court date sometime in early October. We will contact your family with the date as soon as we receive it from the court. Roughly 60% of families will pass court on the first issued date, while 40% of the cases will require a second court date for successful completion of court. Second court dates can be issued 2 to 8 weeks after an initial court date. Once a family has successfully passed court they can anticipate traveling 2.5 - 4weeks later.

Families who received referrals on the same day (or within the same week or few weeks) as other families will not necessarily have a court date within the same week or few weeks. Each adoption is unique and court dates do not always fall within chronological order of receiving a referral. The paperwork needed to secure a court date, and the time frame to acquire the paperwork, is unique for each adoption. These factors, along with the court’s appointment availability, will affect the timing for your specific court date.

Often times after families pass court; America World cannot immediately begin to plan travel. Documentation from the Ethiopia court systems must be completed and received in order to move forward with booking flights and further travel plans. Therefore, please be prepared to possibly book flights a week before traveling.
So there you have it, we're waiting on court dates to be issued, praying that once that date arrives, their father will appear in court, and all the necessary paperwork will be in line for them to pass us on the first go round, and then we'll proceed with figuring out when we can travel!
What are we doing in the meantime?
1. Getting our care packages together. We're required to send at least one, but of course we'll send as many as we can! We're creating a family album to send so they can begin to see our faces, recognize our home, our pets, their grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. We'll also be sending along a toy for each of them, an outfit and one of those nifty cards that you can record on . . we want our voices to begin imprinting on their hearts.
Care packages are sent through other families who are traveling to pick up their children. Our sweet friend Karen has agreed to make room in her luggage for ours, and we are praying earnestly for her to pass court on the first try so that she can take our package and pick up her son at the end of October! She'll also take pictures or videos of B and D for us, so we'll hopefully get to see them in action!!!!!! These are crucial to beginning the bonding process, and for easing the difficult transition these babies will go through. They'll see us one day in the Transition Home, have one more night there in the familiar, and then leave with us the next day for ever. It's looking at our pictures and enjoying the things we send that will make us a little less "scary and strange."
2. We're trying to decide on a name for little boy D. His given name is a little difficult for me to wrap my tongue and mind around, so we're contemplating different ways of Americanizing it. I stopped by and spoke with an Ethiopian family who owns a restaurant in Dallas and they gave me some great advice, but we're still undecided. . . He'll officially keep his given name, but we'll call and have him go by a slightly different version of it. . . Little girl B is an easy one, and she'll also keep her given name, but it's got a natural American "nickname" that we all fell in love with instantly.
3. Complete Online Training. Because we're adopting older children, and their memories of their first family are in tact, and they've already developed many coping skills, mannerisms, established their personal norms, etc, we have to prepare ourselves for the challenges that this will bring along with it when we blend them in to our family with our expectations, boundaries, etc. I'm sure another 2 hours of online training is not what Jason's looking forward to after the 8 hours of Hague we already completed, but alas, it will help save more hours than it costs us hopefully!
4. Figure out where we're going to put them! If you've seen our house, you know this is going to be a feat! We're tightly packed in as it is, and it's going to get tighter! We've got to buy new beds, bigger dressers, and clear out some closet space! My clothes horse pre-teen is not looking forward to this particular situation!
Well, I'm suddenly feeling a little overwhelmed. I think I'll go eat some string cheese now.