Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Adoption Progress??

I called our agency yesterday and had a great talk with a woman there. I was very encouraged by our conversation. It is still going to be a long road, but she had some exciting news to report:

~God has answered our prayers! Many of the children who were "caught in the middle" have been released for referral. She didn't know the exact number, but said she was amazed! More than 10 more sure! To God be the Glory!!!

~She is expecting September to be a pretty good month for infant referrals. This comes after MANY summer months with little activity with the little ones! Please pray that this would be the truth and that our expectations on the number of referrals would be exceeded!

~We have moved into the top third of the waiting list. Brandon said this could simply mean that so many people are now after us, but regardless it feels great to not be at the bottom and it feels like progress to me!

~We are still praying for a referral for Christmas and not letting doubt set in that it won't happen!

Thank you for joining us in prayer. If you would like to know more specifics about things please email me and I will be happy to share!

Something is cooking in September

I have told a few of you I am planning to post my menu each night in September... now I have told all of you. Does anyone have any predictions on my follow through for this one? I know it will be less than great since our home is currently under construction, and since I have way to many (in a good way haha:) ministry commitments starting oh so soon! Well, the challenge is out there, we will see how it goes. I might have to enter in several in one day when I get a chance?
Check back to see my progress!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The month of August is waning... have you been praying?

Praying friends,

I asked you to join me a while ago here to pray for the children caught in the middle. I am going to call our agency next week for an update on these children and our adoption. Right after I asked for prayer there was a flood of referrals. Thank you Lord! Since then things have been VERY quiet, esp. with the little ones. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE pray for papers to be signed and referrals to be given soon. These children long for families. I will let you all know what I learn late next week! Lord, you know each child, please open the doors to create families soon! Help us and help the children to live in surrender as we wait! Amen


We are safely home from our travels. I have traveled 20 or the last 30 days and have counted my blessings along the way. Here are some summer highlights:

~A great week at VBS. Brandon and I got to be a part of two of the skits. We had a blast with so many special children. Two sweet boys joined us for 2 nights of great fun and memories. They also enjoyed VBS and it was fun to share that with them.

~A great week at Camp! I attended camp with the G-town youth group. It was a huge blessing and gift. I so enjoyed connecting in LATE night conversations with many students and eating fun meals with great leader friends. The joy of going to a place where "everybody knows your name" is like no other. We experienced a tornado warning, power outage, and bus break down. So many faith stretching experiences I think it was a mix of camp and mission trip prep of sorts. Sometime I plan to blog on the faith lessons learned, but here are some silly things I learned: the great fun of Bananagrams, the Ironman crawl, the drawbacks of flax, the joy "The Freddy" brings to CDYC judges and so much more!

~Solo roadtrip! I was able to spend time with a couple of great friends from high school, college, F/M after college life, and family. The time went way too quickly, but a highlight was eating at THREE Mexican Village's in 4 days. I discovered simply fruit roll-ups, and Hy-Vee brand kettle chips and should have invested in stock for the amount I consumed! I also learned more than I thought possible about Spam.

~While on the roadtrip I was overwhelmed with the ways God has weaved adoption stories into my life. Check this out: One of my greatest friends from SE and her hubby are adopting an infant. We had GREAT conversations about adoption and the joys of paper vs. tummy pregnancy. A super college friend, floormate, and sister in Christ and her hubby are also adopting from ET! We were able to talk and pray for our little ones. We are so blessed to walk this journey together. The first family I nannied for had 3 boys while I cared for them. They now have adopted a sweet little sister. I was able to stay in their home and make new memories with them. So there you have it: Friends from pre-school to current life stage with adoption stories!

~Family roadtrip! We spend the first half with Brandon's family. Great family time, great memories made. Baby A is so big and so busy and so lovely! We spent a super fun day at the lake where I, after a six year skiing break decided to try it... and I got up on the FIRST TIME!! I was so shocked that I did it! The second half of the trip was with my family and extended family. Our trip ended with a 2 day family reunion where I was able to see cousins and their kids who I have not seen in years. What a blessing! I learned that I am a pathetic Farkle player, but I manage OK with ladder golf. I also learned that black bean brownies taste delightfully like Grandpas fudge to me, but my family was MUCH less impressed.

~Now: We are home, giving our wonderful car a rest after all that travel. It is hard to get motivated to get back into a routine... such is life. Since we are going to be around and we have plenty of room: family and friends this is your chance to come and visit soon!

Photos to follow eventually... I must get them from family, friends, facebook etc (read: you might enjoy them by October).

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Flying low or Flying High?

I am hoping to fly low... low season that is :) I have heard people tell me that plane tickets from the midwest to Addis are 1500, and I have heard 3000. I wondered why and decided to get to the bottom of things. Afterall, if you multiply that by 4 (we are traveling twice) you will get very different numbers. It is hard to tell people, "Our flights will either be 6300 or 12,300 (300 comes from the estimated lap child rate)" without a look of confusion from the other person. 6300 or over 12K, it is all A LOT of money to me!

Well, I sent a few emails about this range to travel agencies specializing in adoption travel. Some agencies actually wrote back and said, get this, "your estimate is correct..." What is that?? Today a gentleman from Golden Rule travel really did "go the second mile" as their agency advertises. He called me and explained all about the high verses low fare rates. He even typed in dates, (like say Feb 2nd) and gave me the rates. It is crazy for me to think that we could potentially be on that flight... in my BIG BOLD prayers anyway. Here is the scoop:
Low fare season fares run around 1600 right now. The high season fares are about 2600-2800. YIKES! The high season starts around May so lets kick the prayers in gear for both flights before the rate increase.

The good news about the fares is that they are the adoption fares (with the total money back thing) and if you are willing to take a little gamble around 60 dollars a person to change dates, you can use the published fares which even during the high season are $17-1900. He said that he rarely recommends taking this chance, but that it seems like it could be a very good plan as even if you had to make changes it would still save money.

Please keep in mind that these quotes are the BEST prices ever. We will be at the mercy of the court date and embassy date to some degree so we would figure the upper end of most things. In my mind I will start thinking, hoping, and praying for under 2K a ticket! Yes, that is A LOT, but I can't swim there and it would be a LONG boat ride, so we must pay.

I forgot to mention the frog in the bed...

This is Froggy! Froggy sleeps with us! No, I have not gone mad and started an adult stuffed animal collection. Froggy will be part of the Welcome bag we will one day send to our little one. What is a welcome bag? Well, when we receive a referral we will have to opportunity to send our child a ziplock bag with a few items, photos, and outfit. I have known for a long time I wanted to send one of these stuffed animal, blanket, rattle all in one things. I also wanted to find one with God's word on it to cover our child. Froggy proclaims, "My heart leaps for joy and I give thanks to the Lord in song." Psalm 28:7

So why are we sleeping with Froggy? We are loving on Froggy until we receive the referral call. We want Froggy to smell just like us (for better or worse :) so that our little one will cuddle with Froggy and breathe in our smell. When we get to meet, our scent will be a comfort to sweet Baby. We also feel closer to sweet Baby just having something special that represents the fact that we are on the journey.

Sadly, I forgot to by Froggy number 2. Twins? No, we are not expecting to adopt twins as that is VERY rare, but we are going to sleep with Froggy the 2nd once Froggy is sent to Ethiopia. Generally the gifts sent to the children stay in the care center for other children to enjoy and we realized that if Froggy was a comfort item, Froggy will be missed and a replacement will be necessary. I learned I can order him on-line but shipping is 7.50- Yikes! Maybe I will wait a while and then purchase a larger order from this cool site.

A Brandon and Froggy story: I don't talk to much on here about my wonderful husband, well other than saying he is wonderful. Tonight I got home from Bible Study after Brandon was already in bed. Brandon was reading in bed, and Froggy was sitting next to him on top of my pillow reading a special board book! How sweet! My heart was leaping for joy!!! We are so excited to meet this child who will one day snuggle with Froggy!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Two trips: living in denial or reality?

Up to this point I have chosen to sort of live in denial about the "two trip rule" being set for Ethiopia adoptions. I mean, I know it exists, but in my happy little mind I pretend that something will change by the time we travel. I recognize that with poor ethics in many agencies the first trip is very important. I do pray that the time between court and embassy speeds up so significantly that we would be able to stay in country the whole time with baby... I digress (as usual)...

Today I was hit head on with the two trip reality as I read two counts of it here and here. This saying good-bye business is going to be VERY hard. For those of you who know me, who know my emotions, I challenge you to read these entries and not cry. Leaving our child will be the hardest thing I think I will ever do. I recently read a birth story. Now that sounds HARD and painful. This will also be hard and painful. I am not in anyway trying to downplay child birth. I will be blessed to not experience that pain! The point: Good-bye. Will. Be. HARD!

So... I think since we have a LONG ways to go before saying hello or good-bye I will continue to live in blissful denial of the good-bye of the future!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

If this adoption were a pregnancy I would be asking for Pitocin

Well... OK... I know there are possible side effects of Pitocin and I am not not getting into that on this blog, but I thought it was a fun title!

Today is a special day in our home. Today marks the end of our first "adoption pregnancy." Nine months ago today our adoption journey officially began. I know that many people figure adoption journeys in many different ways. I also know that everyone has different amounts of time for the different stages in the process.

Yes, we have been planning to adopt for two years now. Some would say that makes us in the adoption process for 2 years. Yes, our dossier (huge amounts of personal info and paperwork) went to Ethiopia on January 21st which was 6months 1week and 6days ago according to ticker on the bottom of this page. So you are wondering, how did they choose the "start" of the journey.

Well, the start to a pregnancy is conception. For us the start of the pregnancy was the mailing of adoption applications to the home study and international agency. We mailed them on November 3rd 2009. If our adoption was conceived that day, then today 9 months later we should be due... right?

If only adoption worked that way. Oh how I wish I could tell you all wonderful news. News that would bring a tear to your eye. News that would cause you to shout a praise to Jesus. Sadly, our news is not hugely exciting. The month of July did see many children being referred (over 20) which a GREAT! Sadly for us, only 3 of those children were infants. I ask you to continue to come before God in prayer for the children who are in care to be referred soon! I need to clarify that this prayer has little to do directly with our family journey. Even if every child in care was referred next week, we would still be waiting a long time for our little one! We would however, be much closer than we are right now.

The head worker for our agency in Ethiopia has been on a two week vacation last week and this week. I am praying that next week will be one of the busiest of her life with many phone calls, emails, and faxes to the US with children ready for referral. I am praying that she is renewed during her holiday and she comes back to work ready to work harder than even before. Thank you for joining me in prayer!

If big things happen (like another week with lots of referrals) I will let you all know. If I don't write about this specifically you can assume that I have not heard about any movement. I will be checking in with our agency in about 3 weeks and I will let you know if I have any big news.

Everyone loves good news so... the good news is I "know" through yahoo groups/emails/blogs etc the families at the VERY top for boys (at least 4 of the top 5) and topish for girls (2&3)!!! This means that I will hear quickly when infant referrals have been given and I will be able to CELEBRATE with amazing families as they are being created!

We are still clinging to our "Faith Like Potatoes" prayer for a referral (photo and information about a child... not the child coming home) for Christmas. Those of you who are not in the journey might think this sounds easy. Those of you in the journey with fast moving wait lists might think this seems doable. Those of you with our agency might be rolling your eyes and thinking, "Oh Shelly is such a dreamer... dream on!!!" Well, I know it is a dream and a prayer, but it brings hope each day and is far enough away that I am not getting antsy yet.

Thank you for each prayer! We are given so many reminders in this journey that it is God's story and not ours. That he alone can rescue, restore, adopt, create, sustain, protect, provide... It is very easy for me to think, "If only we had chosen______agency" or 50 other what if's but we are on THIS journey. We have been called to THIS agency for this time because that is where our baby is! We are blessed to be on this journey and even if we must endure 2 or dare I say 3 pregnancies we will cling to the Author of the story!