12.16.2010

It's never too late!

Red Bliss Story Christmas 5x7 folded card
Create modern Christmas cards at Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.

12.11.2010

a great deal for LAST minute shoppers!

So the Christmas season is almost upon us and that means time for Christmas cards. If you know me well, you know that I absolutely love this time of year!  That coupled with the fact that I am magnet to good deals, and you've got yourself inmy shoes!  There's nothing like getting holiday cards this time of year, and whats even more fun is all the pictures friends and family send this time of year. Shutterfly has one of the best deals happening this holiday season. We have used Shutterfly in the past for sharing vacation pictures, holiday get togethers, and wonderful family memories.  They have a great selection of ALL types of cards!


Shutterfly (shutterfly.com) is giving away 50 free cards to bloggers who share about them on their blogs. So I am happy to share since I love their products. They have 748 of the cutest holiday cards this season. http://www.shutterfly.com/cards-stationery I am having a really hard time narrowing down my favorites....wouldn't you?!


This one is so simple, but so cute. Maybe next year we'll have 3 of us in it?!:

And my FAVORITE, I love the simple mixed with some glitter:)

Time is ticking, and we've got to make a decision soon.  Stay tuned...it'll be showing up in your mailbox!

So if you are a blogger and want to know about this deal go to:http://bit.ly/sfly2010
Everyone should go check out the website because they also have great photo gift ideas if you are looking for a creative Christmas gift idea. Have fun browsing! I am SO MUCH FUN!

9.24.2010

P.S.....a shout out to all those who are CrzY4oRphAns!

A few more things that I just can't forget to share with ya'll (as my sweet sister in law would say)...If you've got even a  mustard seed  of compassion for the 5 million orphans in Ethiopia alone [yes, you read that correctly], then it's a must that you check out these links below!  There's something that just feels good deep down when you know people are doing the right thing.  I think God uses those times to connect us to His forever desire for us to know Him.  He's got this soft spot for orphans, I know because He tells us that and He refers to you and me as orphans before we come into a relationship with His Son.  So enjoy these next few links that bring us together with others who've caught the wave of standing up for those who need forever families... :)

Some of you might be familiar with Veggie Tales and/or the recording artist Steven Curtis Chapman.  A few weeks ago my mom sent me a link to a new song that Chapman has written.  Even cooler, Veggie Tales has teamed up with him for their new DVD "Its a Meaningful Life" due to be released October 5th.  And their message is about adoption!!  How cool is that?!   Check this out, and I know all you tough guys out there will find this sweet in it's own special way ;)



Shaun Groves was on a trip to Guatemala working with Compassion International, and was moved to write this song in his hotel bathroom!  Music plays such a significant role in our household, and although I can't carry a tune, it sure does have a way of capturing my heart.


In this blogging world it is amazing the way we get to interact with other families who are going through the same process.  We might live hours and hours away, but with the click of my laptop I can instantly welcome myself at their table, just as if we were sitting with coffee and chatting it up.  It's like a community of cheerleaders and family, some are home with their children, others are waiting, still others are still waiting to make that leap into the decision to forever expand their family.  And we all get it.  Tears are shed as we relate to tough moments, exclamation points fill up our comments when we really are bubbling with joy for them, and all the in-betweens that we all experience as we patiently and obediently travel this adventure to our children.  Follow this link to my friend Erica's blog The Road Less Traveled and you won't be disappointed!!  Right now she and her husband, David, are in the midst of raising money to bring home their daughter from ET.  They too are working with Children's Hope International and I just love following her posts and hearing what life is like for that family of 6 :)  Take some time to check out what their latest goal is.  Great things are in store for this family!

Happy Friday and enjoy the weekend!!
Kati

Recap of our Summer 2010

What an exciting past few months we've had.  It is incredible to realize this time last year we didn't even have Ethiopia on our radar!  What started with an introduction at church to a now very close friend via a dear, dear mutual friend, turned into an evening dinner meeting a precious little boy and his parents who the Lord used to open our hearts and minds to what now will be the country where we bring our son home from!  We have fallen in love, IN LOVE with what we know about ET and the immense "family" that we've grown into amongst adoptive families, case workers, social workers, adoption coordinators, soon to be grandmas-grandpas-aunts-and uncles, along with all our blog world friends.  It's just fantastic!  So, to wrap the summer up I thought we'd post some pictures of what we've been up to.  It's been a really fun summer and it's neat to think that we'll have a cutie pie joining us in His timing!  Keep praying for his mommy and daddy in ET--they need protection as the rainy season is wrapping up.  Pray for her health as she carries our son.  Pray for him as he will have a forever place in our son's life.  Have a wonderful week dear friends!
In Christ,
Kati

The last day of our community pool is dedicated to the dogs and Brie had a blast for 2 hours straight!

 Justin working hard on house projects  :)  we make a great team!

 Our home study agency and social worker who have played a big role in our adoption thus far!!

I <3 FedEx.  Thank you for letting a grown woman cry when she couldn't mail off documents.  They must see it all ;)

 Getting friendly with a kind postal worker!  She shared in our joyful news of paper chasing to our baby boy

 Playing guitar for our King...I can't wait for him to have time with his son jammin away and introducing to worship...

 Summer fun over 4th of July weekend with family in town
 (my brother Mike is so clever!)


Spending a summer day out at a local farm--our little guy will be the perfect addition to these adventures!



 Birthday celebrations 

Melkam Addis Amet!  Happy New Year!! On September 11, we celebrated Ethiopia's holiday with a small group of friends. We were all tied together by the common thread of adopting from Ethiopia.  It was an adventure as my friend Allyson and I took over the kitchen with spices and smells that beckoned us to travel beyond those four walls. It was so fun, the food turned out just fine (thanks to 3 beautiful ET children who had no complaints of our first attempts!). 

8.22.2010

We are a Waiting Family!!!

Ohhh sooooooo exciting!!!  Here's a recap of how it all went down.....


Last weekend Justin and I celebrated our six year wedding anniversary!  Something beautiful and wonderful!! Although we knew the weekend was going to be busy for both of us, we set aside Friday Aug 13 (hey hey who says Friday the 13th has to be crummy?) as our date night.  Our night to celebrate.  To love on one another as we laughed over memories and enjoying how fun it has been to be together as husband and wife.  This thing called marriage is something special.  For us it has brought a deeper level of passion, confidence, vision & teamwork, joy and steady unending love that makes the day in and day out activities of life  invaluable.   


Getting home just about 20 minutes before Justin, I ran to my computer and checked my email.  FriDaYs!  They are my favorite.  Because each week the gracious Ethiopian team at Children's Hope International sends their families a "family update" email.  I love it!  I think they might do it for their own good too...you know I can imagine working with us crazy anxious mom's and dad's-to-be must have it's own set of interesting stories...they must do it to keep us at bay....but anyway: the email.  It's packed full of encouragement, tips, and helps us families survive each step of the process called adoption.  Well, I had checked my email, no "CHI Update" in my in box.  Bummer.  But what WAS THERE was an email from Angie to me with the subject line of "Dossier back from DC!!!!".  Oh I was soooo excited to read that email in which Angie shared with us that we are an official waiting family.  Do you know how great that feels to write that.  To say that.  To know that?!  


I quickly closed that email, ran upstairs to get ready, and wrote out a card for our anniversary to give to Justin.  He got home just a few minutes later and I was a giddy as a tweener at a Justin Biber concert---ha ha my Justin must have thought I was just nuts for him!!! Don't get me wrong, I am. Totally. ;)  But I was trying so hard to keep it a secret and let him read the awesome news later that night.  It was hard as I was just bubbling with joy and excitement!  (by the way I am a horrible secret keeper when it involves exciting news or gifts!) We made our way up to PF Chang's, got our table, put in our drink order and I slipped his card over to his side of the table.  I was nervous and thrilled, just about to jump out of my seat!  After reading he glanced over and we were both smiling ear to ear; the waiter next to us came over and said "congratulations and happy birthday!!".  Ha ha we let him think that, hey maybe a dessert was to follow?!  


Anyway, in all seriousness, it is amazing, do you get that?  Amazing to be apart of this little one's life even at this stage of our family growing.  There have been dozens of moments these past several months where we were challenged in ways that are unique to the adoption process.  Running in the pouring rain downtown Cleveland with my treasured little dossier shoved up my shirt to keep it from getting wet brought on some pretty odd looks and comments from the sidewalk folk.  Racing to get to FedEx before it closed to ship off our bundle, only to find out that one of the forty two pieces of paperwork was wrong and that we'd have to wait one more week.  Dancing with my man in the kitchen when we shipped off that paperwork just a few days later.  Phone calls to family and friends who are riding right along with us through this process is just incredible.  Because it's all showing me how God will so gently reach down to use His one of a kind grace to remind me He's here right here all along with all of them and that He's excited for us too!  He knows whats coming, He's familiar with the little boy that will someday fill our home with giggles and squirming and sweetness.  


When you read "Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart." you've got to know that it's true!  Even when I think that my deepest longings are there just to keep tucked inside, God knows them and that's where the secret petitions start.  In January 2010 when that longing to be a mom just seemed to be more than I could bear alone within my heart, God had been preparing Justin's for the conversation that would soon take place.  We stayed up late talking about the possibilities of our family.  There will be lots more of those nights over the next several months as we wait to receive his picture and more information on who our son is.  But for now, it's incredible to announce to the world that I am an expectant mom!  REALLY!  It's true:  Justin's going to be a dad!!  Our Heavenly Father totally gets us, He loves us like crazy, and when we hand it over to Him we can let go of wanting to have control of it all.  Learning that we have become a waiting family on our anniversary was an incredible gift.  How cool is that Lord!  Thank you so much for being that visible and helping our hearts understand just how great You are!


Filled with joy (!),
Kati & Justin

7.30.2010

Paper Chasing Pro






After my marathon of a day last week--trying to get all our paperwork county certified and state certified in one day among 3 different counties, made me think "what am I doing?!"  I was in such a excited rush to get things done that I almost let it get the better of me. (For a moment I felt like we were on the Amazing Race--one of our favorite reality shows--and I was, in my mind, racing to get us to the finish line = waiting list.  To "beat" the other families.  To be the best).  When 5pm rolled around last Friday and Justin and I were standing in Fedex frantically making copies of every single document before their 6pm pick up we realized there was a mistake.  Actually, two mistakes.  And both meant we had to go back and make corrections before any of this could be mailed off.  I felt my joy just bottom out and standing there in Fedex tears began welling up in my eyes.  "Why can't people just do their jobs correctly??" is all I kept saying.  I mean is it really that hard to type "Kathrine" or to copy the notaries name from one sheet to another??  We were both frustrated realizing that the day had been productive....just not productive enough.  For us.  But for this process?  For what God desired for us to complete?  It was fine.  Actually, it was perfect.  
Then have no care for tomorrow: tomorrow will take care of itself. Take the trouble of the day as it comes. Matthew 6:34   
Thankfully, I'm completely ok (and quite excited to be honest!) with where we're at with the checklist now, but it took me a while to move from my amped up gotta-get-it-done attitude to realizing that this isn't a race.  No other family is going to "win" our son before we get there.  We won't be late.  In fact, we'll be just on time.  It took a patient, humorous husband, two friends over the phone and a God that knows my deepest desires of my heart to remind me to step back and look at the whole picture.  That there is a family, a man and a woman who are living life, just like me, doing their day to day activities and at some point there will be a child who comes into this picture. 
"I knew you before I formed you in your mother's womb. Before you were born I set you apart...." Jeremiah 1:5   
I can't have any control over what she does today, or when our son is placed into the hands of the orphanage workers hands.  Nope.  Nothing I can do about that.  What I can do is find peace and trust in this waiting process.  And to not miss out on this season of our life, right now, where God has called us to be.


A week later, I'm getting ready to go wrap up those previous "mistakes" and send those off to St. Louis where our adoption coordinator will bundle them together and have them couriered off to Washington D.C.  And then, we will officially have all our paper work turned in!  (YES!!..it feels good hear "well done"!)  Next step: waiting list.  And, again I'm sure I'll have to practice giving my plans and agenda over to the Lord as we joyfully wait to hear from Sharon from Children's Hope.  In the mean time though, we've got lots of great things going on with family and friends that we just can't wait to be apart of!!!  Have a great weekend!


In His Grip,
Kati & Justin
:)


7.23.2010

Welcome Home 171-H!

Yep!  You're reading that right!! Our 171-H paperwork (aka super awesome piece of paper we need to complete our dossier) arrived yesterday!  Whoooo hoooo!  The officer at our fingerprinting appointment suggested it might take 2-3 months...and it took 10 days.  God is FAITHFUL and really must be getting a kick out of all my reactions to His glorious plan :) 
 So, let's put this in perspective for all those of you who haven't or aren't paper chasing currently.... this is the document that we need from U.S. Immigrations stating that we're allow to come home with a child.  It's detailed in the gender, age, needs, and location and it's got to be spot on because that's what the US Embassy will look at when we travel home with our son.  Yeah, I know it's many months away before we even know our son's face, but it was the last piece of paper we were waiting on before we could move towards that day....  
So today I'm running around like a crazy lady taking all 21 documents to 3 different counties to get each notary's signature certified, and then downtown Cleveland to get all 21 documents state authenticated....and then.......FedEx HERE WE COME TO SHIP OFF OUR DOSSIER!!
Once our paperwork arrives to CHI, it'll go to Washington D.C. and then to Ethiopia.  That will take about 2 weeks and then at that point we'll officially be placed on the waiting list ;) ;)  Oh how exciting and wonderful it is!  Remember the game that children play where they hide something and then tell the seeker "you're getting warmer / hotter" or "you're getting colder" as they approach the object of desire?  I totally feel like Jesus is engaging in that game with Justin and I. And it's so wonderful to hear "warmer...warmer...you're getting hotter" as we are almost done with all the paperwork that has been asked of us. One step at a time! What an adventure it has been so far.  From firefighters to doctors, HR employers to government workers, to such amazing friends and faithful family to police officers: the number of hands that have been apart of this journey thus far is incredible.  Just amazing!
So, will you be praying for us today?  That we'll be patient as we wait in lines, request people's help, and cross all our t's and dot all our i's. That I won't even have a hint of road rage (yes, it's true, sometimes I wear lead shoes ;) ). Hopefully: no hangups and we will be shipping off our dossier this weekend :)  Ultimately: remembering that He's got everything in control because He already know's how today's course of events will flow.  
Be blessed!
Kati & Justin

7.15.2010

It surely has been too long since I last blogged, but in the midst of the paste 3 months there have been so many opportunities for Justin and I to settle into this adoption thing.  What comes to mind, and I might as well just mention it now, is getting sick and having to remove myself from a lot of the familiar for 3 months.  What started out as strep throat quickly spiraled into a battle with an intestinal infection, and finally kidney stones.  This began (wink*) with our "Operation Ethiopia Day" when we went at marathon pace to get our paper work off to a jump start, including seeing our new family doctor.  Throughout those weeks, looking back the dust is beginning to settle and I am starting to be able to reflect and rejoice at how the Lord was weaving Himself into that period in my life.  We experienced amazing support from close friends and family, to encouraging words that came just at the right time, to the many instances when the love of my life, this soon to be father, took care of me and provided in ways we'd never ventured into before.  I love that man beyond words!!  All that said, in that waiting time of being off work, away from friends, and being home bound I have really, really begun to value home-maker-ness (that's a new word!) and that I didn't have to let me career define my attitude and success.  I don't necessarily know if that is what the Lord will call me to do once we bring this little guy home, but it seemed to be a sneak preview into what might be.  On a lighter note, upon my return to work in June a coworker and physician mentioned to me "Wow, Kati, you know kidney stones are the closest thing we men can experience to labor pains, so it's no joke that it hurt!"....I giggled because a) he doesn't yet know that we're "paper pregnant" as a new friend put it and b) humor me Lord as I want to experience this whole preparation!

Anyway, adoption preparation is moving along really well!  And at this point we are just a few documents away from completing our dossier!!!!!  Our homestudy is complete, our paperwork has been sent off to US Immigrations, the prints of our fingers have been scanned and scanned and scanned, and thankfully friends and family believe in us and our reference letters are complete!  Whew!! We've had a couple of hang ups and kick backs with paperwork, but Sharon our adoption coordinator gave us fare warning to "be flexible" and Justin & I have had to remind one another of that on more than one occasion.  The pictures below will help tell the tale of the fun adventure we've been on these past 3 months!  It could be a matter of weeks until our paper work is sent off to Ethiopia and WE CAN'T BELIEVE IT!   Yes, we're preparing for the big wait but this is part of us becoming a family of 3 and it's the only way we can get to our future son!.........so bring it on ;)  Little JJ (I've dubbed that for the time being as Justin Jr, it'll work for now) you are SO worth it! <3


Hooray!!!  Sending off our I600A form with my mom there to join in the excitement!!  This postlady was just wonderful :)  Later that week we would get notice from Immigrations that our paperwork needed correction...my immediate thought was oh no, this is supposed to take 2 months as it is, but now this is just going to set us back even longer.  To our amazement, a week and a half later we got the letter we were waiting for!!  Thank you LORD!


Happy Mother's Day!  I totally didn't see this one coming, but Justin decided that he was going to let me fully celebrate Mother's Day and in the card he wrote "enjoy this first and last year of no responsibility but fully expecting a child" and he bought us tickets to game 4 of the Cavs playoff series! I was stoked--never been to a game and it was so stinkin fun--even though we lost pretty pitifully!  And this was a gift from my in-laws!  The artist at Junk Posse had a great deal going offering by one get one free.  So, the necklace above has become a staple for Justin and I :)  We're both wearing them as tender, sweet reminders that our hearts are growing already for this little child, his family and his country.  The Cross is cleverly located where Ethiopia is in Africa.







I tend to have a liking [love] for being in the kitchen...and well lets just say one night 1:00 am rolled around and I was still having a blast in my apron decorating the cookies above!  Close friends, Allyson and Eric are waiting on their second child from Ethiopia (so excited for their family) and so at 1:30 am I drove over to their house and tried to be sneaky by leaving a tub of cookies on their door step for their road trip that weekend.  Ha ha!! Little did I know Eric, the husband, was up and was entertained by his wife's friend's bizzare tactics! :) They were yummy though!  And the cookie cutter came from a blogger friend named Erica, who by the way has a fantastic blog that will get you on board for ET adoption excitement!!! (the original pictures got lost on the laptop crash. This one is posted on Facebook, and since we haven't announced our adoption to everyone quite yet, I didn't post the CUTEST pics of cookies that were Africa with a little heart over ET saying "expecting from ET"... But you get the picture :)...



  
Empress Taytu is an Ethiopian restaurant here in Cleveland (pretty cool, eh?).  Justin was going out of town on business for 2 weeks, and since it fell over Father's Day, I thought I'd surprise him and take him to this place.  It's one of the few ways we can start to identify with what we do know about our little guy: he's Ethiopian!  We LOVED our time there, our waitresses were outstanding and I felt like we could have sat there for hours and just enjoyed one another's conversation and stories.  What a blessing it is to have access to these people and their culture. It was a neat experience and the food settled on our tongues easily.  The coffee ceremony at the end was right up Justin's ally--what a fun, fun date we shared! Can't wait to go back :)


In May I drove up with my mom and dad to Michigan to attend a funeral for a family member whom, although I'd never met her, in the legacy that she left I gained great respect and love for the woman she was.  Lee Ann (my mom's step-sister) was spunky, creative, driven, knew the Lord and passionately wanted to live life fully. She was one incredible woman.  Just recently, she decided that she wanted to learn the trade of metal work, Lee Ann didn't let anything hold her back....she was in her 40s and she was still a learner!  At her funeral many of her pieces of art and jewelry were there for those there.  As I scanned the table my eye picked up on this piece...and I couldn't help the smile that had formed on my face: God is so sweet in how He gives us little moments that are simply meant for us to say "thanks".  This was one of those moments-we're filling our nest and I can't wait to meet Lee Ann in Heaven someday and tell her gift spoke so perfectly to my heart for this adoption :)


Ok, last but not least (I guess this is what I get for waiting sooo long!).  The video above is a song that we sang in church a few months back.  I cannot tell you why, but it spoke so directly to my soul that I felt like the Holy Spirit and I were in true communion as I worshiped that evening.  I started off totally reflecting on the fact that I had been dealing with frustrations over being sick and vulnerable to whatever this bacteria had on my body, and as I sang this song I was reminded that I wasn't alone in this time of resting, healing.  As I began to give it to the Lord, praying for peace and knowing that I could trust Him with it all, I got an overwhelming sense to be praying for my son's mother.  It came out of nowhere (well, we know where!) but once I was able to get over myself and give up my struggles to Christ, it was then that my eyes were opened to the faithfulness He will show her. Could she, will she ever sing this words as a prayer of her heart?  Does she know Christ and will someone introduce her to the Saviour who loves her widely beyond her imagination.  The One whom she can be herself, and in that realize that's just who she was made to be.  Will she be able to trust in You in her pregnancy, her health, her family, her choices and decisions that she is making at this very moment, He will be faithful to her in that moment when she decides to give her son a life that's more than what she can offer him herself.  What about the dad?  Where is his heart?  Whenever that decision comes, I know that it won't be one that is flippantly made, but one that will take months of toiling, fear, unknown, dreams, and tears.  Its humbling to even think through such a choice, but its nothing foreign for some of the women and families I take care of and call my patients.  They make tougher decisions than I will ever face, and I through them I am learning how to pray for this our son's family, this mom, this dad, whom I long to meet some day and wholeheartedly desire to have a family in Christ.  Be blessed by these words and I hope it encourages you today :)

Because of the Cross,
Kati

4.26.2010

A GIVE AWAY!
So, it may be true, yes entirely true that I have become fascinated with most things African, especially Ethiopian.   What can I say?!   I'm an excited, expectant, mom to be :)   If you click here this link will take you to a blog that I really am pumped about.  It is by Erica, another family through Children's Hope International who are in the midst of their second ET adoption.  She is someone I would just love to grab coffee together and meet!  She has found a wildly talented artist on Etsy who crafts BeAuTiFuL jewelry.  The Etsy designer's store is Junk Posse -- check her out see just how creatively talented she is!  Enjoy!

4.09.2010

Second radio call in

Here's the link to Debbie Monterrey (a Children's Hope International wife) who is with her husband in ET meeting and bringing home their son, Beck, for the first time.  Enjoy!

Another call from Ethiopia

4.07.2010

God's showing His goodness :)

Today I had the chance to talk with our CHI adoption consultant, Sharon.  It was a good conversation and she continues to guide us through each step of this long process.  I was reminded of the long wait we are building up to.  As focused as I have been with getting the paperwork together, she took a moment and asked me how I'm really doing.  I can sense the Lord preparing me a little more each week as we get closer to turning everything in.  We are actively collecting paperwork, but when we finish that step, we will then need to shift ourselves and slow our pace down until it comes time for our referral.  Knowing that that time will challenge me, we continue to recognize that the Lord is so near to us as we go through this journey.  Sharon brought up again the issue of guarding our hearts....
"....I want you guys to just remember to guard yourselves in how many people you announce this [adoption] to at this stage in the process.  When the time comes for you to wait for a referral from Ethiopia, you will be pulling your hair out at about the second month in!  It is long, and it can take a toll on you.  You need to surround yourself by a small, supportive community until you guys get more information.  Sometimes people won't understand all the details of why it takes so long, and it can get overwhelming having to answer the same question over and over.  You need to have support..."
 Being a mother to both biological children and adoptive children herself, I look to Sharon for insight and wisdom.  Another friend told me today, "it will be a completely different way of parenting, but there are things to help you learn that".  Towards the end of this month we are attending a day long Hague [required training by the US] educational class that will give us more insight.  Along with a DVD course recommended from CHI, I am thankful for all the preparation we have available to us.  Most of all, we appreciate each and every one of you.  There's a reason why we've felt comfortable and confident in bringing you into this season of our lives is because we value our shared relationship and we trust that in our vulnerability, will be sheltered with your encouragement, joy, laughter, patience, and prayer!   Your friendships are a way God shows His goodness to Justin and to me.

Something else I thought I would share...pretty stinkin' cool (!!)....is that one of the Children's Hope (CHI) families is in Ethiopia right now getting ready to pick up their son.  The wife is a co-host of a morning radio show out of St. Louis.  This morning she phoned in to share their experience, and the link is below.  How neat!  It is great to hear about other families who are experiencing the same thing we will sometime next year!  More links to come as we get their updates...

ET to St Louis radio conversation

4.06.2010

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Ahhhhh.  It's 8:53pm and the cool breeze of a warm night is settling in on us.  I'm sitting outside on our patio blogging away while Justin enjoys the rare pleasure of a good cigar and Brie explores our darkened back yard.  Our day is coming to an end and we are feeling successful.

As I mentioned before, we dubbed today as our unofficial Operation Ethiopia Day.  With our to due list in hand, checked 3-4-5 times last night before we headed to bed, we started off bright and early at 6am.  Our first appointment was with our Fire Department at 7:45am.  Luckily she didn't come in tow with a fire engine...how quickly neighborhood gossip could start!...and that meeting went great.  Lyn gave us some pointers on things we can get to make the home more safe, but overall she said we were in good condition and she signed off all the necessary paperwork.  She also invited us to stop on by the fire station when we bring our little bundle of joy home for a photo op.  She seemed to have caught the bug of our excitement and was already planning to take a picture of him swaddled all up in a fireman's boot :)  Too cute!

Our day continued with duel physicals by our new family doctor at 10am.  Getting the physician and notary together to fill out more paperwork was a breeze...but finding out that my sore throat was really strep throat wasn't so great. Yuck!  No wonder I felt lousy the past few days.  But, I wasn't about to let that hinder our plans for the day.  Justin had taken work off today and we had to take advantage of it.  We left about an hour later after having blood work drawn and another item crossed off on our to-do list!  Stopping at the pharmacy to pick up my prescription helped fill up our time before we needed to head up to Independence to get fingerprinted.  We completed that item on our checklist and moved right along.  Justin was so sweet and decided he knew just what I needed to help get me through the rest of the afternoon.  He took me out to Steak and Shake for a strawberry milkshake :)  All day I've felt like we are a smoothly functioning machine, working towards this light at the end of the paperwork tunnel!  We then headed over to the hospital's human resources to get my employment paperwork signed and notarized.  It was there that we met our first bump in the road when my employer's notary decided to stamp Justin's medical release paper instead of my employment sheet.  I got the impression that I was interrupting her time, but she made a mistake and I had to go back and have her correct it.  Although it's just a stamp, that STAMP is incredibly important and it's a matter of us getting things done the right way the first time.  This also meant that we'd need to get new letters from our doctor, notarized, and that just tacked a little more time on to our day.  It was annoying for sure, but I'm certain we'll have many of those moments to come.

Our last, and most important event of the day was getting to meet our social worker who will be completing our home study.  It was a wonderful three hours!  I was nervous of what she might ask, but Juanita made the whole process run smoothly.  She asked us a lot about our childhoods, how we've become "us", and what our families are like.  She had some fantastic tips on how we can bond with our son every step of this adoption---especially when we take our first trip there and have to leave before we return a second time to bring him home.  She really helped me begin to think like a mom.  While we were sitting out on our deck having dinner together, she gave us tips on using natural household products rather than chemically based products around the house that will be safe for a toddler.  She shared some funny stories of her own experiences as a mom and the three of us bonded in ways I hadn't expected to on our first interaction.  We also learned that her husband has a passion for music and as we walked through the house we paused for a moment in Justin's guitar room.  Pulling out the acoustic guitar that was hand made by a very close friend of his family's, Juanita quickly picked up on the level of detail and beautiful craftsmanship that went into making the instrument.  She mentioned how great it will be for Justin and her husband to meet when we head over to her house in the next month or so to review our finalize home study report.  My smile gave away the ease of emotions---I am reminded again that we are taking every step of this process by the clear guidance of our Lord.  There have been many moments when we've been able to step back and recognize that as things fall into place, it's in doing by His timing.  It makes me wonder where our son's mom is right now....what her life is like, and whether or not he's a known part of her life yet.  As we sit outside tonight talking over the timeline of when we think things will happen, I have no idea where our little guy is.  One thing I know for certain is that he is already known by our Creator, and in that I find myself coming back for comfort often.  Thank you all so much for continuing to lift Justin and I up in prayer.  We can sense it, this peace we experience and the joy we're finding in each step of this process is proof of your intercessory prayer.  As insightfully titled, there is light at the end of the tunnel.  The majority of our paperwork is complete, each now just needs official seals and we'll be set!  We anticipate our home study will be written up by the end of this month and we hope to have all the government clearings completed by June.  That puts us on track to having our dossier sent off by July and we will have then put the ball in Ethiopia's court!

As our nesting continues, we are enjoying each step along the way.  Thanks again for all your encouragement, support, and prayers!

Kati

4.03.2010

falling into place

It is one amazing morning!  All the windows are open in the house, we're both up before noon (ha! those Saturday sleep in's will come to and end when we become parents), and we are moving right along with our adoption!  There's a lot to do, but everything is falling into place.  And the times when we're feeling confused or lost within our to-do list, someone is always an email or phone call away.  We are so blessed to have access to help!

This past week we've gotten in touch with our social worker who will be completing one very important step in our adoption: the Home Study!  As we were looking around for an agency, there were some pretty important things we were looking for.  We wanted to be close, have a good referral from others who had used them and reasonably priced.  In talking with Caring for Kids it was again so clear that our conversation had come about by way of something greater than just mere coincidence.  Because our relationship with our home study agency and social worker is one that will last for many years, I was looking for that instant ease in conversation as I called around.  Within a few minutes of talking with their director, Pat and I were off to a great start!  She herself is an adoptive mom and for 30 minutes it was like talking with a girlfriend :)  I love it when the Lord graces me with moments like that: it was total confirmation that I could be myself and trust that this agency will help Justin and I on our adventure to our little guy.  When Justin came home from work that day he saw my excitement and knew without a doubt we had found something good.  Check one more step off on my to-do list! 

And so I've earned the title as the household adoption project manager!  We are getting paper work together right and left!  Even Brie has had her necessary vet appointment as an honorary family member to confirm that she too is ready to share her territory and not her germs (thank you vaccinations!).   This coming Tuesday is going to be a big day for us.  Justin is taking the day off and we're officially dubbing it as our Operation ET Day.  That morning we'll be rising early to meet the Fire Inspector at our home (that's the one that requires that map of egress out of our house...and just in case you're here and need to know where all your exit options are in case of a fire, some agencies recommend that the map be posted at a visible location ie. the fridge...but I'll tell you just look for a window and run. Hopefully you wore a good pair of [cute] shoes that day!).  After that appointment we'll also be meeting with our doctors, human resource managers and finally our social worker Wanita from Caring for Kids that evening.  Please pray for that day!  There's a lot of weight resting on that day running smoothly and efficiently.  Our goal is to have the majority of our home study paperwork together so that we can give it to Wanita that evening.  We've heard that the social worker can ask some pretty probing questions in her 3-4 hour interview, so we are praying for no nerves and complete peace as we get to know Wanita and as she gets to know us.  :)

There's a lot of talk about paperwork, and believe me there's a reason why that word comes up in almost every sentence!  But the final goal of all of that is our dossier.  This is the document (of papers!) that will be sent off to Ethiopia and it will be us on paper.  It is what their government will see and what will validate Justin and I as a couple who will be receiving a child and the Children's Hope in-country staff will use that to match a child with us.  Ultimately we clearly know that God's hand is at the very center of this entire process, and we trust that He will use what is written about us to move in the minds and hearts of those who are in authoritative positions there in ET to bring us together with the little baby whose last name will become Foster.

So, as I could like every time I start up on this blogging, I want to keep typing away!  But greater things are needed to be done today: for example the future babies room needs to be cleared out so at least it appears that we have some plan in mind to where he will sleep when Wanita's here...and that it's possible to exit in case of a fire ;)  With this beautiful day in front of us I am thrilled to start cleaning up and getting things organized for Tuesday.  The windows are open and the music is on = productive day ahead!

God is so good to us, and if it seems like I can't stop bringing Him up, then it's true!  We are blown away at how clearly present He wants to be as our family grows and our nest is filled.  As we lay every step of this adoption at His feet and commit to trusting that all the emotions, to-do's and hangups are there to be part of the process, it brings more moments when it is undeniably happening through Christ and not by any measure of our doing.  We are having so much fun, despite moments of epic frustration with the wording of paperwork or trying to get US government personnel to answer questions, it really is a pretty stinkin' awesome adventure!  

enjoy you day, and have a rejoice-full Easter!
Kati

3.29.2010

let us know you're following!

Hey all!  This will be a rather short and concise post this time.  We've heard that family and friends are following along with us through our adoption.  We are thrilled!!  Welcome!!! We value and cherish the authenticity of a community that can come along side us and rejoice over each step the Lord brings us closer to meeting our little man.  If you have a Google account, click on the lower right corner to "follow" us as we post along :)  For those of you who aren't Google users, don't worry go to the trouble of making an account.  We appreciate the fact that many people are praying us through our adoption, but we would be missing the mark if we didn't have the opportunity to know each of you and know how we can be praying for and praising with you.  If you want to leave us a post below, you're welcome to!  Let us know what's happening in your neck of the woods!


So think it over, we'd love to get to know this community that we'll introduce our little boy to someday!


Have a wonderful evening,
Kati & Justin

3.22.2010

As I'm getting to know this blog thing, I have accidentally made a few "woops" and "oh crap" happenings along the way.  For instance, why I've put off writing for a week or so now.  I am easily addicted to making this blog cute and creatively expressive of us, and that is where my problem lies... I get wrapped up in editing our blog and then the next second poof, the blog post is gone, or the layout is now different, or I've clicked on something that I didn't really know how to use.  Needless to say, it's 10:30 at night and I am wide awake ready to finally blog away without any alteration of aesthetics.


Some fantastic things have happened over the past 7 days.  We are officially moving at marathon pace to get our paperwork complete!  Last Monday our adoption packet arrived with our official "To Do" list!  For two lovebirds who are driven by crossing off lists, it's just up our ally!  We are anticipating that it will take us about 4 months to get everything gathered up: birth certificates, fingerprinting, government documents, fire inspections, home visits and doctor appointments....just to name a few.  The most important step was for us to find a home study agency in the area that could complete our lengthy report that will eventually be sent off to Ethiopia.  Not having local access to our adoption agency, we were a little unsure of what our next step should be.  Our good friend noticed our uncertainty and made it her goal to help us find a reputable home study agency.  Thank you Lord for how You provide!  Within 2 days we had gotten references from other families and phone calls were made.  Once again, as we prayed for discernment, it was given.  We will be working with Caring for Kids, Inc and it will be wonderful to have them as a resource close by.  Tomorrow morning our paperwork for our home study will be sent off and we'll begin to first major portion of our adoption!!  [I entertain Justin with my free willed enthusiasm-dancing around the kitchen and praising the Lord for these little milestones!!  Nothing like cheap entertainment!]


A few more pretty exciting moments of this past week were one's that we shared with others!  As we've begun to share our exciting news with our family and friends, we've seen an outpouring of support, smiles, hugs, and incredible encouragement!  It's overwhelming!  And it once again confirms that we are being called parenthood through adoption and we will someday bring our son home to an incredible extended network of family and friends :)  Just this week we have rejoiced with friends from church who have sent off their completed dossier, others who just received their referral, and still another family who has just decided to begin looking for an agency to start their own ET adoption.  Our little Ethiopian community is in the making!  And we're marketing for more ;) ;)


Finally, at the forefront of my mind are the AMAZING testimonies and baptisms we got to witness on Sunday morning.  They were JOYOUS, REDEMPTIVE, PROMISE-FILLED, and had JESUS CHRIST written all over them.  I witnessed a woman dance before our Lord and tears came down my face.  As she was transformed, so was I.  We witnessed raw Christianity that means exposing everything for the sake of His cleansing. I am still rejoicing over the invitation to witness those lives transformed!  


What a fantastic week for Justin and I!  We can see God's masterful hand throughout it all, and even then  I am sure we missed some too :)   I am currently reading a fascinating book titled There Is No Me Without You by Melissa Fay Greene.  I'm eager to post about it....it's too late now, but I'll be sharing in the next day or so.  I am only on the second chapter, but still I am silenced by her staggering statistics of Ethiopia.  It blows us away....Stay tuned for more!


Kati

3.11.2010

We're approved to join CHI!

Wow, the past 36 hours have been a mix of emotions for us, me in particularly!

Yesterday morning our application to CHI arrive at their office (thanks to delivery confirmation!) and there Justin and I began to think, "I wonder when we'll hear from them?" What we were waiting to hear was that we were accepted into the ET program based on a preliminary application. From my conversation with Sharon on Friday last week, I knew it would take 3 days to hear back from them. So we prayed. And trusted. And left it at that.

Yesterday evening I got a phone call from Justin while hanging out with some girlfriends. He said that the Ethiopian government had passed a law that day that now a) requires two trips to ET, where parents must be present at the court date for their child before the adoption is finalized in ET, and b) all children will be required further investigations to prove that they are indeed rightfully placed as orphans. Wow. Let that sink in a bit and all of a sudden we are flooded with questions. (And we've not even been accepted into any agency's program yet!) Looking back I can already see that both Justin and I are beginning to attach ourselves to Ethiopia, adoption, and our future little guy by the way we responded to the news.
Me: "do you think we should still move forward?"
Justin: "yea, of course. We just need to find out the details".
Me: "so this doesn't mean we're not going to pursue our adoption in Ethiopia, right?"
Justin: "No, not at all. It just means we'll have to take two trips, save up more money, and find out what it means as far as passing court the first time, how long each trip is, you know."
Me: "ok, good. because I'm not interested in stopping at all."
Justin: "me either."
And so there it was. Flexibility 101 Class has begun....

All night I tossed and turned, couldn't stop thinking about what this might mean, and trying to rationalize in my mind that although I don't see the whole picture as God does, I just felt disappointment begin to sink in. I woke up this morning and shared my insecurities with Justin before he headed off to GE. He too is unsure, has questions, and isn't certain what will become of it. I guess for him it's the details, the financial aspect of flying twice, as well as getting enough time off too. For me, I instantly think: wait time. Justin noticed that immediately and mentioned that this probably means we won't hear back from CHI for a bit longer since this is pretty big news that they'll have to share with families, not to mention process all the questions. Both of us agreed that Ethiopia is doing the right thing. It feels good to talk to him and find out what's going through one another's mind. It really put me at ease to know that my husband, the one leading us with such strength and responsibility, would remind me that there's One much greater than us leading us. I emailed our family and updated them. By that time I had allowed peace to start peering into my mind. Then I got a message from my father in law, reminding us of truth:
"His name is Jehovah Shalom, the Lord send peace" (Judges 6:24)
"His name is Jehovah Jireh:, the Lord will provide;” (Genesis 22:14)

Ahhhhhhhhhh yes. That is the noise my spirit made.......and I started to relax.

This afternoon I was so glad to get to talk to my friend Allyson. She is someone I can connect with and I love how she can relate so well to me in this new season our our lives. Allyson and her husband Eric adopted their son Sammy from ET a little over a year ago he has become our tangible link to ET. You can't help but melt when you're around him! Adding to that, Eric and Allyson are in the process of adopting their second son from ET and it is wonderful to have someone in our shoes along the way. We talked for a while and once I hung up the phone I was more confident and glad that this new rule isn't going to stop us from meeting our future little boy one bit! In fact, we were able to see how beneficial this will be and the smile came back upon my face. I came inside and read an email from my best friend saying that she's been praying for me since this morning. ;) I smile and realize that the Lord is near and He's communicating to my soul!

Riiiinnnngggg, riiiiiinnngggg, riiiinnnnnggggg. I look at the number on my cell phone, don't recognize it, but decide to answer it anyway.
"Hi this is Sharon Turner from Children's Hope International, is this Kati?"
"yes... it is" :)
"I wanted to call and let you know that we received your application yesterday and I have approved you and your husband to join our Children's Hope family. But I wanted to make sure you heard the news and that you guys still want to continue with your adoption process?"
"Yes! Yes! We heard the news, and yes we are still on track for this adoption! We're not letting this change our minds."
"Great, because this is tossing you right into the reality of adoption right from the beginning!"
Sharon and I spoke for a brief time about ET and then got the details in line for the mailings we'll receive this coming week and when we'll touch base next. She agreed to take Justin and I on and will be playing the role as our Adoption Coordinator through CHI. After the conversation she and I had last week, I glad she's helping us. Quickly after hanging up the phone I called Justin and shared the good news with him. It wasn't that we were worried that we might not be accepted, but hearing it has solidified it. We are so excited!

People say that pregnancy has a lot of hormonal shifts, mood swings, etc. I believe them, I see it, I work with it.  But I would like to introduce them to adoption hormones. And they happen to last a bit longer than 9 months. Are you ready?! WE ARE!!!



3.09.2010

welcome to us

"Well, have you and Justin come down from Cloud 9 yet?" my mom says on the other end of the telephone. My response? "I think we're somewhere in between the clouds and making our soles (souls) feel the soil beneath". We recently announced our something pretty special to our hearts.....we are going to become parents through adoption, and as correctly stated, we are pretty thrilled! But, reality often brings us into the moment and we are reminded that this will be a long, patience-tested process but one that will forever change our lives. We are at this cusp: ready to accept each step along the way.


God's hand has been clearly present in Justin's and my life these past several months, even years, as we have developed hearts for children who carry the title orphan. What we hadn't realized was that while we were nervously navigating our mid-late 20s and the ominous question: when are you guys going to have a baby?, God was quietly developing the script for just how our family would expand.


Justin and I have both spent time in Romania loving on kids who hadn't come to know the consistency that only "mommy" and "daddy" can bring. Granted, we were in our teens and early 20s, and never did we allow it to personify itself within, but we did see the need. So we moved on. However, a mustard seed was all it took. Years have passed and in the time, the Spirit has given us a desire so rooted in our hearts that we cannot help but delight in what is to come.


Yesterday we sent off our application to Children's Hope International, with hearts in tow, and we begin to trust the Lord from this moment on. We have requested a little guy, around the age of newborn to 12 months old, from Ethiopia. Our adoption will take about a year, and during that time there will be many moments of waiting, filing paperwork, meeting with social workers, waiting, making phone calls, waiting, sending in documents, waiting, and most of all finding peace in our Saviour's arms. We can use every prayer that you are willing to intervene on our behalf! Did you notice the waiting part(s). Oh for those of you who know me [Kati]!! I do not doubt that the Lord has some important conversations and lessons coming my way ;) But He knows me best, and therefor I trust.


So, please join us in this exciting, joyfilled time of our lives! We wish there was an opportunity to hang out with each one of you and share this great news with you face to face, but some of you are miles away, and we couldn't wait until the next time we saw you to share. We really value the relationship each and every one of you shares with us, and we also long to have you come be apart of this expanded family of love that our little man will someday know. Many, MANY, many prayers would be appreciated!!!


His grace is AMAZING, that He would trust us enough to take us down the road of adoption. We are so burdened for this woman, and man, who will give us a gift of our [collectively] son. Please pray for her health as she carries this little one, their hearts, for courage, and that she would find support from in the community she knows. We may never meet them, but regardless of that, what they give us has been orchestrated by Christ, and their lives will forever be apart of ours.


With love and excitement,
Kati & Justin


Below is a link to a youtube video made for another great agency, not the one we're using, but it still tells the passion and drive behind our decision.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQjObgmNbmE&feature=related