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!