Monday, December 30, 2013

Say it aint so....

Oh Ethiopia, how you tear at my heartstrings! Well, as we assumed, there is more bad news on the Ethiopian adoption forefront. We received an email from our agency regarding a press conference made by the House of Peoples’ Representatives and the Ministry of Women, Children, and Youth. They are urging stakeholders and the public to undertake integrated work to totally STOP the adoption of Ethiopian children to foreign families. They urge everyone to work closely to end foreign adoption COMPLETELY.

My heart continues to break for this country and most importantly for the children living without families within its borders. The country of Ethiopia has heard of abuse allegations, and while these stories are not nearly a majority, they do unfortunately occur. As such, they are calling for initiatives to facilitate situations to raise children within their own communities. They did attempt to speak on these “initiatives” however and focus only on halting adoptions as their Golden plan.

There is obviously little I like about this news, except for possibly the realization that Ethiopia SHOULD start taking action to care for its children. Because, while I dream of bringing home our child from Ethiopia, I know our adoption comes at a high price, that of abandonment. Helping families keep their kiddos is and should be the best solution to the orphan crisis. Furthermore, I know God never plans for a child to be born and abandoned. That is not Gods “first plan” per se. God is good, and I know that He loves families. But, as we all know, we live in a very broken world, one where poverty, sickness, death, and abandonment seem to flourish. Luckily, we have a brilliant God who has wonderfully beautiful “back up” plans. I was reminded of His greatest back up plan again over the holidays…Of course nothing catches God off guard. Nothing makes him scratch his head and say, “wow, I really didn’t see that coming!” He knows everything after all. And Jesus may well have been his “Golden Plan” from the start. So, I yearn to see what comes out of this new development and how God will move in the country of Ethiopia. I pray it will involve aid to the sick and poor in that country. I have been praying for a revolution and maybe this is it….

I have to admit though, that it is very discouraging news for countless families waiting in adoption limbo…such as the Reicherts. I personally have been feeling a little down about our adoption recently, mostly because I’ve been pondering about whether we heard God wrong in the first place. We truly felt like God told us to start our adoption journey, and in turn our family, 2 years ago, from the country of Ethiopia. And so, we did. But low and behold, we became instant parents to the furthest thing to an African infant out there; a blond haired, blue-eyed 2½ year-old fair skinned family member from Ohio!  Since that moment, we have basically heard nothing but disheartening news out of Ethiopia. So, did we hear wrong?

I really cant answer that question, mainly because I’m still waiting to see how much crazier this journey is going to get. What I do know is that our adoption preparedness has and continues to guide us with our current little guy and for that we are thankful. I know that sometimes when we say “yes” to God, the original plan isn’t at all what you thought it would be, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t the Golden plan from the start. Lastly, I know that we still feel a very strong calling for orphan care. I don’t know what our “back up” plan is, but I do know that for now we are going to simply wait on God to lead us again.

Please pray for the country of Ethiopia, for the families in limbo, and most importantly for the children laying in orphanages waiting for families. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

1 big year

Have you noticed recently that time has really started to fly by? I mean we are nearly at the end of 2013! Where did this past year go?! Don’t you love when people say that? Well, I personally, know exactly where this year went…Exactly one year ago, nearly to the date; Jay and I basically became parents overnight. Little man has officially been with us for an entire year. It has been the most confusing, crazy, at times frustrating, yet beautiful year of our lives.
Jay and I, like most new parents, have taken hundreds of pictures throughout the year and I recently put together a book for little man detailing this past year with us, so as I said before, I know exactly where this past year went. It is amazing to see this little one's HUGE transformation. Our first few days/nights looked something like what you see to the right.

He slept on the floors, he was scared, his vocabulary wasn’t strong and he had no way to talk about his fears. He had no idea what was going on and neither did we! He cried a lot, we cried a lot. But slowly, he started coming out of his shell. We grew into each other so to speak. We have, as our family likes to call it, a “new normal”. And we have noticed our little one, isn’t so little anymore. He is growing and learning, and he has truly changed by leaps and bounds. He has quite a vocabulary now too. He has what I call “J” isms. Here are a few of my favorites thus far:
1.)     I no eat all my veg-a-tables cause then I get too big and break you ceiling.
2.)     Tomorrow is bring you fruit snacks to school, so I have more fruit snacks now?
3.)     What is my chocolate milk doing right now? (while in the car,  miles away from his chocolate milk)
4.)     I no go potty now, I just went yest-a-day.
5.)    (While throwing a tantrum and yelling at me) Me:  please come here, Him: “NO, IM BUSY”.
6.)    “Why do you keep doing this?!” (while being put into time out)
7.)     Why you pee in my bed? (for the record I did no such thing)
Everyday he is saying and doing more and more things. He is silly and funny, sweet yet spunky, independent, loving, smart, energetic, …in other words, he is more than we could have ever hoped for and I think we are doing pretty good for our first year!

There are however, the challenging medical issues that seem to always face our “J”. After we finally got caught up on over a dozen vaccinations, he was still getting sick pretty often. He was also snoring something awful (much like a 50 year old overweight man with sleep apnea). He underwent surgery for adenoid and tonsil removal with ear tube placement in May. We have been consistently treating whole body eczema with various creams and lotions.  This past month he was diagnosed with asthma requiring at least two breathing treatments a day (sometimes up to 5!), and now is currently having some tummy trouble that could end up being a lactose intolerance issue.

So, basically, everything we learned in the hours of adoption education mandated by our agency and the country of Ethiopia, ranging from “Bringing home an older child” (above the age of two), “Disciplining the adopted child”, and “Common Medical Issues” has proved invaluable! We never even thought those educational sessions would be of value in “our adoption situation”, but again, God works in such CRAZY ways! He knew what we needed to learn, not only for our international baby, but our little man right now. I get chills thinking back on the last year and seeing how God beautifully prepared us for “J” prior to him ever stepping foot in our home. And “J” is preparing us even more for our Ethiopian child and the near certain issues and concerns we will face with them during their first year home.

                    (this pic was done on a recent family photo shoot)

I have to say, I continue to be a bit nervous about our future, much like I have been from the start. We take every day at a time, and consider each day with little man a blessing (even when we are on our 15th tantrum of the day because the banana we handed him broke into two halves prior to him eating it all).  I guess that’s what not knowing what the next day holds, teaches you….to be especially thankful for each and every moment you get. I know that sometimes in our busy lives we can begin to take things for granted, and so in a weird way, our unknown circumstances are a beautiful gift from a very loving Creator. He is definitely making us lean into him in a very dramatic way, but I think he does some of His greatest work when we do just that.

On the Ethiopian adoption forefront, not to much news lately. A few referrals from last month (2), so once again small movement. November is national adoption month. If you haven’t already, please consider asking your congressman to back the Children in Families First Act (CHIFF). It helps to do just that. This legislation redirects U.S. resources to focus more on ensuring that all children grow up in a family and helps to cut some of the red tape that is such a hindrance now and this is both domestically and internationally. More information can be found at Http://

Lastly, in honor of National Adoption month, I wanted to give a huge “You Guys are Amazing” shout out to a family from my hometown, The Tipton’s. They are currently in Costa Rica, adopting not 1, but 3 kiddos there! They listened to God’s calling, and their family of 4 just officially became a family of 7! Their story can be found on their blog at
So exciting to watch and read about this family’s adventures through the adoption journey!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Social visits

This is the symbol for adoption

Ask anyone who has ever or is in the process of adopting about paperwork, and I bet you will hear an earful about the extreme AMOUNT required along the entire process. We are officially well into a year of our referral wait, and recently met with our social worker to update our home study. Once again, we had to trudge through another hill of paperwork prior. I call it a hill this time around as it is not nearly as an exhaustive process when simply updating. After some discussion and careful reflection we decided to add ourselves onto the girls waitlist along with our wait on the boys list. Luckily for us we don’t end up at the bottom of the girls list when we jumped on, in fact, we were added as if we were on both lists the whole time. I would probably feel bad if we still had waitlist numbers, because it would appear to those behind us that no movement was made, however there is no more waitlist numbers, so no hard feelings.

We will likely need at least two more updates to our home study prior to our referral, and may continue to make changes as we see fit, but for now we will remain on both lists for a baby less than 12 months old. We did consider increasing our age parameters, and may in the future, however we have to maintain birth order in our home (per our adoption agency policy), and our little guy is three now, so our Ethiopian baby needs to be at least 10 months younger than him. Little man has been with us nearly one year already (can hardly believe it!). His story into this process is discussed IN THIS POST

Speaking of little man, this summer was a blast with him. He loves swimming, is a great traveler, and loves being outside enjoying the sunshine! Our social worker met little man during our visit, and deemed him suitably adjusted to our home. While we think he is doing great, it is always helpful to hear from professionals how well your child is doing and adapting.
I cannot begin to explain what a joy he has been for Jay and I. When we were first thrown into this “parenting thing” we were overwhelmed, scared, and anxious. Sure we had started the adoption process, but figured we had a solid two and half years before we became parents. We could still grow up a little ourselves! We had plenty of time to read books, and watch a couple of our friends try their hands at parenting before we actually did. Then, in one day, everything changed. Little man was here with little notice, and we started the most exciting chapter to our lives to date! In the beginning, we had no clue what we were doing, but we trusted God and together (all three of us) we figured it out. Looking back, I see how this sweet little boy has paved the way for our future dive into international adoption. More importantly, his story in all of this gives us a strength we honestly didn’t know we had. Adoption is not for the faint of heart. As I have heard some describe it, “You never really know what you’re going to get”. One of the main reasons we started the adoption process with our sights on an infant was largely due to the fact that they would have little to no recollection of their life prior to us. They wouldn’t struggle as much with adapting and their questions regarding their past would likely be simpler (if there is such a thing) to answer. Trust me, I know how this makes Jay and I look, like cowards in one-way or another. But, God had other plans, and suddenly we were thrown into parenting a toddler, with an excellent memory, who comes with a lot of “extraneous circumstances” and in time our preconceived ridiculous notions were thrown right out the window. We have come to learn what any adoptive parent will tell you, that kids of all ages need love, and nothing is too much for God to handle. In His loving hands, children will prosper and scars can heal, and tough questions will have answers. I love having found the knowledge that we CAN do this. We ARE doing this, not internationally, domestically, but doing it nonetheless. What I hope more than anything is that those who think that adopting an older child, one with possible “baggage” and “special needs” is to much for them, would understand that behind what you think YOUR doing, God’s doing something even bigger, and HE is working through you for the good of that kiddo. Be open to His leading, to His ways. They are GOOD after all….

My favorite part of our visit with our social worker was perhaps when little man pointed out the framed Africa picture located in our living room. He told her, matter of factley, that that’s where our baby is coming from. I have to add that he plans to share most of his toys with the new baby….except his orange bike.

Ethiopian Education:
Recently, Ethiopia celebrated New Years (Sept 11), so I wanted to welcome everyone into 2006…again! As you may recall, they have a different calendar known as the Ge’ez calender.  

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Thick Skin

It’s my own fault really. I get a few seconds of freedom and my heart turned to Ethiopia. I googled “Ethiopia Adoption” and began to idly choose web pages to browse. I opened one, then another, and another. Some were blogs of adoptive parents, others were informative sites for prospective parents. Then I started hitting the negative ones, and I CHOSE to read them, a lot of them. I know I have talked about these types of articles on the blog before, but I CHOSE to read them again. My gut churned as I read opinions from other readers. Opinions like this one regarding blending a family through adoption from Ethiopia by white Americans: “I cannot comprehend the sloppy use of 'family' when in fact they are American Buyers. End Users. Consumers, Infertiles, Slavers” or this one “It seems cynical to me that white Americans will journey to foreign countries in Africa, South America and Asia to "save" children instead of looking into local adoptions. There are so many brown and black...children waiting for a "forever home" But wait: The laws are often (more) strict in the US and most couples.. act as though the country's children are part of a bounty-filled "all-you-can-adopt" buffet. Ka-ching!”.  There were many people who think white “westernized” people have no business adopting black African kiddos, some go so far as to compare it to slavery…..some flat out call it slavery.
I read an article about a girl returning to Ethiopia and having a court overturn her adoption, because her biological family was tricked and bribed into giving her up for adoption. I can see why many people have the negative opinions they do when they read stories such as these.

These stories and posts stir a lot of emotion in me. I get angry, I get sad, I get frustrated, I get nervous, and sometimes… I hate to admit it…but I worry. I worry that people will think this way of us, of our kiddo. I worry “Did we make the right decision? Did we hear God right? What if this isn’t meant to be? What if….what if…..what if….”

So again, I say it, it was my fault really. But, one thing immediately came to mind, and I have to think it was God’s still small voice inside of me, saying “Remember Haiti”. And so I looked back at my missions trip photos years ago. It was a trip that changed my life forever, a trip that will change my husbands forever, and one that will change one (or two…or twenty :) ) children’s lives forever. On that trip, I saw real poverty. I held orphans begging to be taken home, orphans seeking a life to live, with stability and love, a real home, not an orphanage. I held a baby and prayed to God to welcome him into His loving arms as he had recently died of dehydration. I made a promise that trip that I would take notice of the orphans, and one day, I would open up my own home. I have included some pics from that trip here.


The truth is that stories of unethical adoptions are not the “norm”. They do happen though, and its scary and something I pray STOPS. But there are thousands of children who are adopted into loving homes, who grow up in love and stability, and who grow into well adjusted adults longing to make a difference themselves. This is what I pray our adoption is all about (for reasons why we are adopting from Ethiopia, you can read our testimony at the top of the blog). 

I carried my concerns into church with me this weekend. I spoke with a middle school mom who was on an adoption wait list for nearly 3 years before her and her husband decided this was clearly not the calling they thought they heard years before. As you can imagine, my worries increased. But then something amazing happened.... As we walked to our seats, I locked eyes with a gentleman and his young son both clearly from Africa, as they were wearing traditional African ceremonial garments. He nods and smiles at me, and so does his son. We only share a moment, but it was a gift that I needed right then...We walked to our seats, and I'm smiling because I just shared a beautiful moment with a small family that I felt connected to...and then the service began. The opening prayer, the communion scripture passage, the sermon itself all pointed towards adoption. A story was told about how a young couple were called to adoption but were not sure if they heard God correctly, and certainly didn't know how they were going to do it, but God provided. The pastor talked about the generosity of God, and of course of how we are all adopted. It was like God was saying, "I know you are worrying about whether it was ME who called you to this journey, you worry if you actually heard ME saying to step out, guess what kiddo, it WAS. And I'm still calling you to it." My aunt sitting next to me elbowed me, and whispered in my ear, " You know the pastor is talking to you...right?" I had not even mentioned my worries or fears to her yet.  The truth is, yeah I did know and it was what I needed to hear at that exact moment. The sermon also spoke on how God calls us to service, not to meet a need of HIS, but a need of ours. He is meeting our need through this adoption. And the timing will be perfect for the child our family needs. 

So for now, I am going to grow a thicker skin and stop reading all the negative stuff about adoption. There is so much good not talked about in the stories of adoption especially over the Internet. I have started reading a new book, called Carried in Our Hearts. It is a book of "inspiring stories of families created across continents". Exactly what I should be reading about these days! 

On a personal update note, we have received our next load of paperwork for our homestudy renewal. We are actually working on two homestudies, but its a bit early to discuss the details on that now. There were several referrals last month, which is very encouraging. The next several months should be slow however, as Ethiopia once again closes (government offices anyways) for their rainy season. We are hoping to hear of a re-opening sometime in September or October.

Education: Ok lastly, as I have not done this in awhile, and  because a little person in our home is currently learning his letters, here is a little Ethiopian tidbit for ya: Ethiopia is the only African country with it's own alphabet!


Sunday, July 28, 2013


One year….12 months….52 weeks….365 days….8,760 hours of waiting…We have our first year down. One…whole….year…..down, 12months behind us, 52 weeks nearer, 365 days closer….to our child half way around the world. In a way, the wait hasn't felt that long. The craziness of life intrudes and pressing matters at home cause Jay and I all to often to NOT think about our adoption, to NOT think about Ethiopia, to NOT think about our child, their country, or our new family together. The year anniversary of our placement on the waitlist re-surfaced a lot of the NOTS in our life. We have NOT been praying regularly for Ethiopia and for the adoption crisis. We have NOT been supporting third world countries with donations and making valiant efforts to buy fair trade goods, and we have NOT been actively researching the country of Ethiopia or how to integrate our kiddo into our home when the time comes.  It is quite disturbing to re-read the posts a year ago at our excitement and preparation, and compare it to the lethargic tone our wait has become. We understand of course that this is not acceptable. Complacency is how our world has come to look the way it does. And this wait for us, as I enthusiastically stated in an earlier post, is a time for preparation and eager anticipation and faithfulness. 

So, with that said, Jay and I are trying to be MORE active during our wait. Any effort to help the orphan crisis is helping bring our child home sooner.  I have included ways at the bottom of the blog that everyone can help the crisis as well, both in big and small ways. Again, there are thousands of families waiting for children stuck in orphanages. Efforts should be focused on helping support countries, families, and children in need all over the world. This is how we begin to make a dent in this crisis.

On a personal adoption note, Jay and I are preparing to meet with our social worker to update a few things and for her to see our new "normal", meaning our family with our little guy.  We are still contemplating the changes we will make to our requirements (boy, girl, siblings, age, special needs, ect) and ask for prayers of guidance in the matter on our behalf. We are once again getting excited and anxious for our Ethiopian kiddo. To think that we are closer than we were a year ago to seeing their sweet face is incredible to think about. This is the longest pregnancy ever!

My mother-in-law recently purchased the book pictured on the right. It  details Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) life as an "Instant Mom" to a toddler, something I can very much relate to! It is also educating me on a lot of different aspects related to adoption. Very enjoyable read! In fact I read quite a bit of it on our annual vacation trip to upstate Michigan. We had an amazing time with family and friends, and look forward to introducing all our lake friends to our future kiddo.   They did get to meet our current little guy, and he had a blast with everyone. It is amazing how a vacation changes, in a good way, when a little person is involved in it. Seeing his face trying new things is always amazing. Again, we are grateful for the time we get to spend with him and we LOVE having him in our lives.

Here's to hoping the next blog post is about something amazing on this journey.....

Ways to help the orphan crisis:
-Buy fair trade goods
-Buy fair trade coffee from sites like ours that give some of the proceeds to help with clean water efforts in third world countries. Here is the link to our STOREFRONT! But there are lots out there!
-Numerous adoption agencies, like ours (All God's Children), have links to support the people of the countries they work with. Here is All God's Children's SITE!
-Call your senators and make yourself aware of adoption legislation.
-Support a couple near you who is adopting, even encouraging words during the wait is powerful.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Ups and downs

Ya know, looking back a year ago, I remember reading about the “ups and downs” the adoption journey would take. I remember thinking, “Well, ours WILL be different”. I hate to admit it, but all those negative Nancy’s out there in the adoption circuit, were unfortunately right. We recently received more frustrating news from our adoption agency. The wait continues to grow, and grow, and grow. The necessary paperwork requirements continue to grow and grow and grow.  At the start of all this, it was beaten into our brains that no legal documentation we completed could ever expire. We created an excel spreadsheet specifically designated for adoption paperwork expiration dates. Trust me excel is neither of our finest strengths, but we completed it to stay on top of the adoption paperwork mountain. A few weeks ago, we heard that our agency is actually recommending that we ALLOW our paperwork to expire, in order to save us money along the way. They believe that the wait is looking like greater than 3.5 years before that long awaited referral call comes our way and likely another 6-8 months until the baby is actually home.  What’s more, they are no longer giving out monthly updated waitlist numbers. We will continue to get an email monthly depicting the number of referrals the agency has made that month, but we will have no substantial way to document our “progress” (and I use the word progress lightly). To be honest, we are a little confused, a little annoyed, but more than anything just heart broken for all the waiting kiddos stuck in orphanages.  I guess you could say our five-year plan for our family has basically been shattered. But through this entire journey we are learning a very valuable lesson: WE are not the authors of our story. God is. He is writing our adoption story for us and He is writing for HIS glory. I read this on another adoption mom’s blog and it does fit into our story beautifully. You see, over a year ago Jay and I said, “yes” to God, but we had no idea what “yes” meant and we still don’t! We had no idea that saying “yes” would or could mean the “adoption” of someone very close to home.

On May 8th Jay and I were granted full legal custody of our nephew, who as you recall has been with us for the past 7 months. It has been a very emotional journey, and continues to be a process we are working through day by day. “Adoption”, we are finding, whether domestic, international, foster care, guardianship or custody is NOT and easy or flawless process.  We are learning that through the trials, frustration, and tears, it is all and will be all worth it. Parenting this amazing little boy has been an absolute delight (except for perhaps the occasional temper tantrum in public and potty training but hey he is three and we are told that’s normal). He just started a new school, we moved him into a newly decorated big boy room, and we just celebrated his third birthday. We are having a blast with him this summer with trips to the park, the zoo, Grandma and Grandpa Reichert’s pool, miniature golfing, baseball games, sprinkler runs (see below),and lots of bike rides.

While the adoption of our international delight (you see what I did there?) continues to be prolonged, we are more excited than ever to get him or her home and we are anxious to see what our family will look like in the next couple of years. Jay and I will be getting the chance to update our preferences for our child in our updated home study within the next few months. And in case you didn’t catch it a few sentences back, we may be expanding to include a boy or a girl, or possibly even siblings. Who knows right?! A year ago, we thought we knew how this was going to play out, but the Almighty keeps surprising…so for now, We are going to take a break from making our own plans and just enjoy the ride we are currently on.

Ethiopian Education:
I haven’t done this in a while, but found this picture recently, which helps one to understand the size of the great continent of Africa. Thought id share for perspective. 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

We need a change

Jay and I have a favor to ask, of all of you. Whether you are family, friend, or just someone stopping by to check out our progress in bringing our child home from Ethiopia, we NEED a favor! We aren't asking for money or donations....Well let me just explain….

Obviously, international adoption is a very big issue to Jay and I.  We truly feel that God called us to bring a child, our child, home from Ethiopia. And along this journey we have learned perhaps more than we really wanted or cared to know about the corruptness of the world and its “leaders”.  You see, the number of orphans continues to rise, while the number of adoptions has dropped 60% in the last 6 years alone. The adoption process has become political, corrupt, and broken. Good people and families are no longer able to adopt, the process has become so long, expensive, and disheartening that many find it nearly impossible to bring a child home. Yet, children continue to pour into orphanages world wide that are not able to care for them properly. 

Jay and I recently attended a special event, the STUCK tour documentary reveal in Columbus. I have posted information about the tour on the blog and on social media sites before we attended, and while we knew it would be eye opening, we had NO idea the magnitude of brokenness surrounding international adoption practices in ALL countries.

We purchased the documentary to share with family and friends and we would love for EVERYONE to check it out. Even if you don’t live close, you can watch the documentary Here, for a small fee, with all proceeds going to help the cause. I encourage all of you to watch and see what is happening around the world and in our country. Please take a moment to at least watch the trailor located at the top of the blog. But this isn’t our favor…

The Stuck documentary is touring nearly 80 cities, and completing the tour in Washington DC on May 17th. They will then march onto Washington to draw attention to this issue, calling OUR leaders to make necessary changes in international adoption practices. You see, it’s not just “the other countries” corruptness that is hindering orphan care; it starts right here, in this country. Our system is flawed, really flawed, and things need to change. Babies and kiddos are dying, they are alone, and they need a voice. Albert Einstein said it best; “The world will NOT be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything”.  

So, what is the favor? The Stuck movement needs at least 1 million signatures on their petition for OUR government to take notice of this issue. They currently don’t think this is something worth their valuable time, but every day that a child lies alone in an orphanage, while their adoptive family waits in limbo in another country for paperwork and bureaucracy jargon to be completed, is wasted time. These kids matter. For those of you who are parents, you would never let your child go one day without proper food, clothing, and love, but these kids spend their entire lives without these basic needs being met. What’s worse? Many DO have families pursuing them from other countries, desiring to bring them home, but too much is standing in the way. Personally speaking, we have been on the list for 9 months and have moved 21 spots. At this pace, it will take nearly 5 years to bring one kiddo home. This is devastating.

Here is the petition.  Please sign, please take 10 seconds our of your busy day to call your senator and tell him that this IS an important issue to you and to people you know, and it NEEDS to be an important issue to Congress and to the President.  You can also text "orphans" to 67463. We are  FAR way from 1 million signatures, but every one counts. Please pass the word, it doesn’t take long, and we all need to stand up for what is right. Please visit for more information. 

Thank you!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

It's been awhile....

I know it has been awhile since our last update, but the adoption front has been rather SLOW, unfortunately. Last month, there were no referrals made and thus no movement on the list, which was quite disappointing. When we started this whole process, the estimated wait time was approximated at a little over 2 years from joining the waitlist, to referral. These time frames fluctuate, but the more I research I do on families currently getting referrals, and looking at our movement in the last 8 months on the list (cant believe we have been on it that long), the more we are starting realize that 2 years is not a realistic time frame. When I calculate our movement thus far, and keeping nearly the same pace as our first 8 months, our referral may not come for nearly 4-5 years! Talk about disheartening. There are over 6 million orphans in Ethiopia alone who are need of homes, but movement in getting them home is overwhelming slow. Jay and I recently heard about a movie concerning the issue of international adoption and the orphan crisis called STUCK (rather fitting title). There are limited viewings, in limited cities, but Columbus is one of them and we are defiantly going to check it out. This film is an award-winning documentary that uncovers the personal, real-life stories of children and parents navigating through the rollercoaster of bureaucracy surrounding international adoption and the flaws that are present in the process. I have enclosed the trailer for this film HEREIn watching the trailer I don’t know whether to cry or get angry!

In light of the recent progress, or lack there of, our adoption agency has made some changes to their policies when it comes to family planning. When we first started our process, it was strictly forbidden to adopt or give birth to another child while waiting. They are now allowing this, so long as there is at least 10months age difference between the child and the Ethiopian child, with the later being the youngest (they are very strict about maintaining birth order). I do not know what this means for Jay and I quite yet. We still have our nephew and luckily, no matter what happens with him, our adoption will not be hindered.

So, exactly where are we currently? We received word today that we are officially #95 on the waitlist. We started at 116 eight months ago. I pray for bigger movement, in fact I yearn for it. But, I have to say that God has a lot to teach us, and we do feel like He is drawing us nearer to himself through this process, and that is comforting and much needed. We appreciate continued prayers.

I have decided that I am going to blog our progress with each 10 spots we move and with special updates. I initially thought this would be a monthly blog about our process, but I’m afraid it would get really boring over the next 4-5 years. Not to mention full time parenting to a toddler takes a lot of our energy and spare time. Thank you all for following and we hope to hear of more referrals soon.

Monday, January 28, 2013

First Adoption Milestone!

We have officially hit a milestone in our adoption…we are into the double digits! The month of January has us officially at #98 on the wait list. SLOW progression, we were not expecting this slow of movement for our first six months on the wait list, but we really do have to be thankful for any movement at all. Every number surpassed, is a child who found a home.  Jay and I figure, we will be retired by the time our baby comes home, so we will have a good amount of his college saved up for! Truth be told, the last couple of months, as many of my last posts have chronicled, have us enjoying the wait ever so slightly. It would be really challenging if we were attempting to bring our son home from Africa when our current little man’s future is still so uncertain. We still have our little guy (a family member of mine) staying with us, our little family is hanging in there and we are rolling with whatever is being thrown at us. There are still very stressful moments, a lot of uncertainty and a bit of frustration with everything going on. There are still challenging moments, as we are attempting (as never before parents) to raise a 2 year old who loves to test boundaries and get His way (as most healthy 2 year olds do…or so I’m told). We are attempting to obtain temporary legal custody to help better care for him. We would really appreciate prayers in this matter, and I will not delve deeper into this aspect, but the more prayers for this little guy, the better. God is moving in this situation, and He is growing Jay and I tremendously. My faith has NEVER been tested as much as it is in this situation. But, that’s why we are here, to grow.

Let’s get back to Ethiopia for a moment, shall we? I would like to take this time, as I have done in the past, to vent for a brief moment. I tend to read a lot, in my spare time, about Ethiopian adoptions. From blog posts written by adoption hopefuls like us, to parents already home with their kiddos, and basically any adoption article I randomly come across in between. I recently came upon an article written by E.J. Graff entitled “Don’t Adopt from Ethiopia”. I was of course intrigued, and a bit nervous. The article tells the story of one father (a widower) who gave up his child to an orphanage in hopes that when/if she ever got adopted, she would send money back to care for the rest of her family. In fact, he was considering giving up more of his children because he is poor. The author goes on to state that we should stop adopting from this country all together, as people are unaware that they may never see their child again when they give them to an orphanage and that Ethiopia is only interested in making a profit. Instead we should send money over for mosquito nets and medicine.
 Trust me, I have read all about how corrupt governments make a profit on children through international adoption. That was my first question when interviewing adoption agencies, “how are you helping the country and people itself and not just making a profit?” The truth be told, what frustrates me about authors like this is that they fail to understand that there are a reported 6 million orphans in Ethiopia ALONE! Why in heavens name would anyone write an article telling others strictly not to adopt from this country, who clearly deserves and demands attention to their GROWING orphan CRISIS? How in the world are mosquito nets and medicine going to save them from their circumstances right now?!? Why should a child spend one single day in an orphanage if it can be avoided? Did you know that it is estimated that if 1 out of every  17 people who call themselves a Christian adopted a child, there would be no orphans in the WORLD?! I for one, will not stand back and wait for clean water, mosquito nets, and medicine to cure the orphan crisis around the world. But, do understand this, I will also do everything I can to help with those efforts while adopting as well! Our agency, All God’s Children, actually takes some of their profits to strengthen Ethiopia itself. In fact, it leads mission trips their often, and even has donation links for those wanting to help provide for those mosquito nets and medicines, as well as for those who are genuinely interested in providing and caring for the poor. The reason for our LONG wait, is in fact to make sure that family members understand their circumstances and to be sure that they sign over all parental rights, that is if parents of these (at times) abandoned children can be found or if they are still alive. Our fundraiser, Just Love Coffee, also takes proceeds and supports clean water efforts in 3rd world countries. Jay and I are buying our coffee through them for this reason. And I wish I could write to this author to inform her that Ethiopia, is actually one of the FEW growing economies and is in fact taking extra efforts to ensure the ethical treatment of biological parents and children through their Ministry of Women's Affairs. But, no need, plenty of others shared their opinions with the author (an adoptive mom herself) themselves. Our son, he WILL return to his homeland one day, and I hope we raise in him a fire to help his country and the orphan crisis in his lifetime as well.

Ok…deep breath….sorry for that rant. Just for the record, we are not a couple who is looking to adopt a baby for popularity or for recognition or any other ulterior motive. I have personally seen poverty face to face, I have cared for orphans (in Haiti) and have seen their desperate circumstances. They dont want to wait for their country to change, they want a home, a family, and love NOW. 
To our son, we are coming. …no matter how long the wait, we are coming. And we will not stop praying until you are home, and after that, we wont stop praying for your parents and your country as well. We promise.

Ok, quickly Ethiopian education this month is focused on the Ethiopian calendar. There are 13 months in the Ethiopian Calendar. Each month has 30 days and the last month has only 5 or 6. New Year is celebrated on September 11th and they are almost eight years behind our western calendar (prior education focused more in depthly on the New Years and the Julian calender...there will be a test at the end on all this...hopefully your paying attention!)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Good tidings

The Christmas season has come and gone, and what a season it was. If you read our post last month, you remember that Jay and I have a new little friend staying with us, while family members go through some tough stuff. He has officially been with us for over a month and what a month is has been. I have seen first hand the generosity of dozens of people, willing and able to make our transition a little easier. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you, thank you, thank you! What was a very stressful and confusing (for all of us) situation, was made easier by individuals who helped with every need we had whether we realized it or not. The news lately, and life in general, has shown how cruel and sinful this world we live in really is. However, the generosity and love poured on us during this time has proven to me that GOOD and GODLY people are still here, and making a difference in this world one random act of kindness at a time (yes that was an Evan Almighty reference...I love that movie!).

Along with our transition, Jay and I had the great responsibility and privilege of teaching the little guy all about Jesus in preparation for his birthday (Christmas).  Jay, I, and little man attended his parents and brother's church, a beautiful, old building with great wood detail and cathedral ceilings. While we have been taking him to our church, he attends Sunday school and has never entered a sanctuary for worship. As we entered their church on Christmas Eve night,  we got to see his little face literally light up at the site of the amazing cathedral sanctuary (the image at the top is of the sanctuary) and the joyous sound of the band and choir worshiping. He was awestruck. His little jaw literally dropped, and it truly was if he was entering into God's great presence for the very first time. He didn't want to leave! It was an amazing site to see, and to be honest, Jay and I needed that look, and that moment, just as much as he did. This past month has been emotionally challenging for everyone.

This season, I was/am reminded of why Jesus calls us to have faith like a child. No matter what is going on in life, no matter how confusing your situation is, or how scary what your going through has become, there is always a time to stop, take in the Spirit of God, let your guard down, and just let your jaw drop at how amazing God is even in the midst of constant question, worry, and frustration.  The little guy demonstrated this the instant he walked into that old church sanctuary, and we needed to be reminded that no matter what is going on in our lives, or more specific: this situation, God is in control.  He loves this little boy more than we do, He loves our Ethiopian son more than we do, and He has a plan for all us. I am learning to give up control to him and to stop daily and practice my child like faith.

Ok, time for our adoption update: The month of December dropped us down to # 100 on the official wait list. I was so hoping that we could finally put triple digits behind us, but hopeful that next month will definitively. This Christmas, our amazing family members surprised us by not having the annual gift exchange, but instead donating to our adoption fund to bring home our little one from Ethiopia. What an amazing act of generosity! We were completely overwhelmed. This past month has been a crazy roller coaster of  emotions and with everything going on with our family (and our new little roommate) our adoption has taken a back seat.  It was so wonderful to once again think and plan for our son, to dream of the day we see his beautiful face, our travels to bring him home, and the excitement of introducing him to this crazy wonderful family.

Lastly, a little education on Ethiopian Christmas, which will take place on January 7th. As you recall, Ethiopia follows the ancient Julian calender, so the dates are different. The celebration of Christ's birth is called Ganna. The day before Ganna, people fast in preparation for the next day. At dawn on Christmas day, everyone awakes and dresses in all white. Most Ethiopians have a traditional shamma, basically a cotton wrap with colored stripes on the ends. Everyone goes to mass very early, around 4am. The choir typically assembles in an outer circle and each person entering the church is given a candle. The congregation will walk around the church three times in a solemn procession, holding the candles. Then the mass takes place, with women and girls separated from the men and boys. The center circle is the holiest space in the church where the priest serves Holy Communion. So, while Christmas in our culture is over, Christmas has yet to take place in our "other" culture. Our decorations are down, but I am hoping the more we learn about Ethiopian culture, the more we will incorporate aspects into our culture and daily life, and perhaps next year we will keep the tree and decorations till after Jan 7th. This year, maybe we will wear a little white in honor. Happy Holidays everyone!