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!


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


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


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!



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!