Sunday, December 27, 2009

The perfect story

We've all heard the stories of money showing up in mail boxes, on the porch or other unexpected places. This morning Ryan and I personally experienced the unexpected financial gift.

Our church has its own little mail boxes. This time of year, its common to find Christmas cards mixed in with the monthly church calendar and other notices. Ryan swiped the contents of the box and headed home. After most of us ate lunch and the kids were settled in their beds, Ryan opened the mail from our church box.

The first envelope was a normal size with our last name printed on the front. The contents of the envelope had us surprised and silent. There were multiple 100 dollar bills along with a short typed note. Ryan read the note aloud and handed me the stack of cash. He then read the note again. I asked him what he thought was in the stack. He guessed at least 10 bills and I began counting. Ryan under-guesstimated. There were 13. We read the note again. I quietly thanked God for this gift, for using someone to anonymously join us on this journey.

$1300 brings us that much closer to bringing home our son from Ethiopia. Thank you Lord for the person who gave so generously.

We're also thankful for several other friends and family who've shared in our journey with their financial contributions. We appreciate each person but chose to highlight the anonymous gift because it caught us by such surprise!

On a side note, our certification papers should arrive in the mail tomorrow which means we can send our dossier off this week.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

a couple of things

1. I sent in our i600a yesterday.  I was waiting to send it with our homestudy but didn't want to keep waiting.  I will send the homestudy to immigration seperately.
2. I just heard from the agency that our homestudy is in today's mail and we should have it by Friday.  Yipee!  That means I can send it to immigration.  I wonder if Holt will send me multiple copies and how that works... hmm.

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Friday, December 11, 2009

More on the Naming Issue

I sometimes find myself to be simple minded and other times my thoughts are pretty deep. In the case of naming a child, its not a simple task or something we take lightly. Based on my last post, you might not have gathered that. I've been having an email conversation with Jen about this topic.

I thought I'd paste a little bit from our conversation to share with you. First, Jen sent me some interesting links. These first two (this one and this one) are from the perspective of an adult adoptee. Her thoughts and the comments she received are super thought provoking when considering naming, or re-naming, a child. Jen also shared their journey of naming their son.

And this is what I wrote to Jen and wanted to share here (of course slightly edited to remove full names):
We intend on keeping part of his Ethiopian name because of the significance of it. What we have yet to determine is how we're going to incorporate our own special name with his given name. Our son, is named after a dear friend of mine who had a HUGE impact on my life and then died a few years later when we were in 10th grade. Our son carries his daddy's name as his middle name. Our daughter's name was chosen because I think its beautiful. It does have bibilical connections but wasn't the only reason we chose it. Her middle name is my middle name - a family tradition. With B#3, we want to carefully select a name. Keeping in mind that our last name is difficult enough and we don't want to add to that. I love the meaning of our new son's name (take the lead to expand) but would also like to know why his birth mom chose that name. I also like his last name but not sure of that meaning.

But of course nothing in simple in my wild imagination. One thing that is continually on my mind is finding the middle ground of helping our new son know his history but to not focus so much on it that he feels different from us. We want him to belong to our family, and to be a rural Iowan just like we are. Because, truly, that's what God did for us when He said he adopted us as His sons. This same thought will be part of the naming of our child. I understand that at some point, he may not like his name, regardless of it being Americanized or not. Kids are kids and most of them find a time in life to dislike anything and everything that has to do with their parents.

Names are important to me. But more than that, being loved and loving others carries more value.

Have a great weekend. We survived our first winter blast and I still haven't mailed the i600a... I've been so lazy about it this week.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Name that little boy...

Ryan and I have spent only a few minutes talking about boy names. Just like when our first son was born, we don't agree on names. Ones he likes, I don't like. Names I like, he doesn't.

Got any good ideas for boy names? Keep in mind, our last name is long and not easy. I sit here and type, Scott just got up from his nap and asked what I was typing. When I read the "got any good ideas" part, he informed me that he has a good one. I think his daddy is influencing him cause the name he suggested is the one his daddy likes. So much for being momma's boy!

done with training

Yesterday we finished up our required adoption training. That's the official part. We still have lots of learning and reaading to do. It was great to meet a few of the couples - most of which had already adopted before. And since we're in central Iowa for the training, we've made a weekend out of it and visited some family and friends.

I have a load of paperwork with me to help bring that little boy home. I'm sending the i600a in tomorrow, and then when I get my signed homestudy, that will go in with it. Then I have to go back and read paperwork to see what the next step of the process is.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

more info on the referral

I guess I was so excited yesterday about our referral that I didn't include any info :)

little boy.  22 months.  healthy. big beautiful eyes.

yipee!!!!!!!!!  Of course, with the referral comes the reality that someone had to give him up for adoption.  It's heart-breaking.  I couldn't imagine having to make that decision.  But I'm so glad to know the history so that I can continue to be in prayer for this little boy's family!

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009


We received a refferal today. WOO HOO! We see no reason not to accept it so that's exciting.

The wheels keep turning in this process and I'm so thankful.

With that said, I feel a bit anxious about the financial part of it. Because our auction didn't raise near the funds I'd prayed/hoped for, we have to use our emergency fund in addition to our adoption savings to move forward. This means that the next few months are super important in the the money saving, and no emergency-spending arena.

*** We need to sell lots more vacation raffle tickets. If you're interested in purchasing any tickets or advertising for us, we'd appreciate it. Thanks.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

referral coming???

Our agency just called.  Our homestudy is done and they're ready to give us our referral.  They were calling to make sure we're ready for a referral.
What does ready mean?
It means approximately $13,000 payment for a single child and approximately $23,000 for siblings.
Sad to say that I couldn't answer with a yes because I don't know.  Last I talked to Ryan, we were a bit short of that amount, or maybe it was the total amount we expect to pay.  I don't really remember.  All I know is that I am prayerful that it will work out in God's time and of course asking God to provide the funds that we may be short.
Could we really have a referral by Christmas like I've been hoping for???

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Home Study

Patience pays off.  Though I must admit that I was planning to email our social worker this afternoon asking him about the status of our homestudy.  I'm so glad that I didn't have to ask - I got the following note from our agency today...

Hello Tamara.  I have completed the home study but I just need two small details.  I need to know what your Bachelors Degree is?  and also we never received the test results for your water so once we have those in I can forward this to you for approval.  Thanks
We're getting closer!!!

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

where is my... homestudy

Last week our social worker told us that he would have our homestudy dispersed by the following Wednesday (yesterday) and that he would let us know when it got put in the mail. Today is Thursday and unless there's a message on the phone at home, we haven't received a call from him.

I hope that he just forgot to call us and be patient. You never know what might be going on in his own personal life.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Raffle Tickets

Yikes, I have less than two months left and lots of raffle tickets to sale. If we don't sale enough, we return the money back. What a pain and dissapointment that would be.

Are you interested in buying in tickets? How about helping us sale a few???

It's frustrating to me because I connect with a lot of people through my work but the rules there don't allow me to sale the tickets. I'm not trying to make excuses and I'm trying not to worry but reality is that I don't connect with lots of people outside of work/church. Pray for me will ya?

Along with praying for that, I've asked a few people to boldly pray with me for siblings/twins. I would add to that request that God would also provide the financial means of adopting another child. Yikes.

Homestudy visit #2

We met with our social worker again yesterday. We had a good little chat with him. We're done. As we left, our social worker caught us and remembered one more important thing.


The important thing he wanted to share: we passed!

I assumed so. In fact, I just figured we'd hear that eventually. He wanted to tell us in person. I really like our social worker.

Next step is that he'll write the homestudy, send to us to verify spelling and wording, then it goes to the national office for the Ethiopia staff to make sure it has all the correct info in it. After that is okay, the social worker will sign it and the homestudy is done!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Social Worker visit

Well, I must say I wasn't intimidated at all about the social worker. In fact, I think we were maybe too relaxed. Our SW showed up and I was just finishing with a few dishes and we still had a couple of loads of laundry on the couch that Ryan had just started folding. Our one remodeled room still had the pile of supplies since we have one wall left to paint. The dining room had molding laying across one side of the room with nails stickign out of it and was otherwise picked up but not looking super clean. We visited with our SW who was very sweet and informative. I, of course, made sure to aplogize for the laundry and explained to him that we're a busy family and this is just how it is at our house.

He seemed fine with that. And so did I until he went upstairs.

Yes, of course they look at every room in the house, including our bedroom that had the door shut for a reason. Our room desperately needs a good deep cleaning but it hasn't happened lately and since the weather is beautiful, it didn't happen this weekend either. Scott was adamant about showing his fish to the SW and the fish desperately need their tank cleaned. Otherwise their rooms looked like normal kid rooms - I swept up the lovely asian beetles that snuck in and the toys were mostly put away.

Of course he didn't look in the closets but he did go in the upstairs bathroom.

And not to check out our bathroom but to see that there was an additional way to get out of the house besides the stairs in case our house should catch fire. Of course, just outside the bathroom window is the roof to the porch which would allow for escape so he wanted to see that. Oh man. I didn't clean that room at all! And neither did anyone else. Hopefully he's not a major neat freak and didn't get bent out of shape when he had to step over the pants and underwear that my son had just pee'd in 5 minutes before!

And if that wasn't nail biting enough for me, he went into the basement.

Okay we live in an OLD house. The basement in much like a dungeon, not like another level to the house like much of the newer/remodeled homes around here. The basement for the most part is Ryan's domain and a place for storage. I don't clean it and certainly don't deep clean it. Yes, our SW saw all of it! Hopefully, he also understood that its not a place our children live in at all. Ryan's domain and the washer and dryer and that's about it!

We meet with the social worker at least one more time. We requested to meet outside of our home. Initially it had nothing to do with our home and everything to do with saving money by not having to pay him 50 cents per mile when we have to drive to his area to do any major shopping. Now that I think about it though, I'll be glad for him to not have to venture through my house again.

Traditionally, they do the house inspection on the 2nd visit. And he explained that when he got there. That would have allowed us another chance to get things deep cleaned a bit more. However, since we requested the 2nd visit to be at an alternative site, he had to do the inspection that day.

Good thing that part is done!

Friday, November 6, 2009


I want twins.  I'd even love to get siblings.  Holt says the chances are slim so I've been trying to tell myself that.  Then I run across a family who adopted twins from Ethiopia or siblings.  I just can't get past it quite yet.  I'm going to boldly pray that God will provide siblings/twins for our family.  Specifically that we'll be offerred (through waiting child or referral) sibling/twins.  He might say no but I'm going to pray anyway.  Anyone willing to boldly pray that with me, for our family?

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Monday, November 2, 2009

Dossier Prep and more

As we're getting ready for our first appointment with the social worker, there's not really a lot to do.  I promised my husband that I wouldn't be crazy trying to clean every little nook and cranny before the social worker comes.  Really, I shouldn't have to worry about having a perfectly kept house when 90% of the time, it's not perfectly kept.  Granted, things will be clean and normal but the leftovers from the auction are still in the dining room and our library room is still under construction. 
Since I've not been so focused on that, I've been using my time to work on gathering documentation for our dossier.  I've really appreciated all those involved who've jumped right at getting the forms done.  Of course, they pretty specific forms and so things haven't gone perfectly.  My employer didn't even notarize my employment form nor did they mention my life insurance benefit that they should have mentioned.  One of our banks got the letter done only I didn't think to inform them that the notary couldn't expire in the next 12 months.  Since their notary expires in February, they're re-doing our letter.  Hopefully the medical letters are done correctly and don't have to be re-done. 
I'm so thankful that we live and work in small rural towns where its not difficult to get those things fixed. 
On another note, I chatted with the midwest branch manager today and that was great to ask a few questions and get some answers.  Because of my desire to get siblings, I've questioned why I even look at the waiting child list.  In talking with "C" today, I learned that our chances of getting siblings is slim to none because of age ranges, etc.  She also informed me that they don't let people stay on the wait list for a while just to get siblings.  We share Holt's thoughts in that there are way too many single children that need homes to wait for siblings.  With that said, I have a variety of emotions: I'm bummed to know that we might not get siblings.  At the same time, I'm relieved to not have to come up with such a large chunk of money.  But on the other hand, we want multiple children which just means that we'll either have to adopt again (paperwork all over again and save $ all over again) or have more of our own.  Sad to say, having our own is so much less expensive and easier.  Glad to say that I still think adoption is such a wonderful option and one that I think I prefer. 
Anyway, things are moving forward and I'm thankful.  THis proves to be a FULL week with something every night (last minute hosting friends for supper who are in town for a funeral tonight, typical Tuesday night, Wed night hanging out with Ryan's uncle who's in town, Thursday is parent teacher conference and bible study, Friday is homestudy appt and having friends over for supper.)  I'll be glad for Saturday morning to come :)

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Artificial Twinning

Artificial Twinning - Children born within 9 months of each other.

From my understanding, Holt doesn't like this because they want the child to have their own identity. For example (their example, not mine), if they're within 9 months, they'll be in the same grade. And if that was the case, they'd at least want them to have different teachers.

My rebuttal: who cares what the date of their birthday is, they can have that same issue. They can be a year apart and if the adopted child is held back for various reasons and Bethany goes to school on time, that will still be an issue. HELLO. Am I the only one making this connection? Likewise, I also think that there would be some benefit to being in the same class - to have a buddy, a helper, a friend, etc. And if we have twins, or adopt twins, we'd have the same thing too.

Now, I understand some of the reasoning. I just don't think what was explained to me carries a whole lot of value. I would love to hear more opinions on this issue. Maybe I need a better explanation from the social worker!

Oh and on another note, we asked to view a file and were denied because of the AT issue. But they said that if a few months goes by and a family is still needed, then we can view the file. What? So AT is only an important issue some of the time??? Again, I understand their reasoning - it's better to have AT issues than orphanage ones but I'm just wishing this wasn't their policy and that I could make my own decision on if that would be acceptable for our family.


Well, I can almost breathe again after the auction. I still have loose ends to tie up but now I can jump back into the adoption paperwork. Here's the latest on that.
  • I really need to connect with bankers, doctors, etc to get notarized letters of them stating clean bill of health/banking.
  • We're viewing the profile of a little girl who needs heart surgery. So far, I don't feel at peace with pursuing her. I need to pray more. At this point I mentioned to Ryan that if someone else wants to pursue her, I will not. If a few weeks go by with no news, I will revisit (and hopefully have a peace from God for either decision) her file.
  • I really, really do want siblings. At this point I'm annoyed with Holt's policy about artificial twinning.
  • We have our first homestudy appointment next Friday. Oh how I wish it was this Friday instead of waiting another week!

Monday, October 26, 2009


Okay, so I'm about to be transparent and real here.  This also means that you will get to see my ugly but real side.  Warning.
I will try to keep it brief.
For months I have planned an adoption auction.  I have spent countless hours designing a website, gathering auction items, creating flyers about Ethiopia and orphans, purchasing supplies, asking God to bless the event, asking friends to make desserts, etc.  I've honestly spent more time on this event than I did on my wedding planning. 
We spent Saturday morning setting up and decorating.  I continued to pray for 3 main things: 1. That it would bring God glory, 2. That it would bring an awareness of orphans, 3. That we could raise a specific dollar amount with the auction.  It came together wonderfully and I was nervous but hopeful.  By mid afternoon, my throat was getting sore and I knew that I needed to sit down for awhile.  That break didn't happen but I did have a chance to get cleaned up (and put on make up for the first time in months), bathe my wild kids, and spend a few moments with family. 
We left to head back to the Opera House so that people could bring their desserts and we could eat as a family plus our friends that were helping.  As we sat together and ate our pizza, I had this overwhelming feeling of loneliness. 
So I began to pray.
Why would I feel so lonely.  Maybe it was that I was sitting in the big Opera House and had stopped running around.  The prep work was done and we were all getting a bite to eat before it began.  Maybe it was the devil playing tricks.  Of course a million things run through my mind.  I felt like I was having this argument with God about the lonliness and the "what if no one comes" thoughts that were running through my head.
But God, I aksed you to bless it in Your Name, not mine. How will they know about the need to care for orphans if you don't bring them through the door?

And the negative thoughts continued.  I should have sent out postcards.  I should have put more in the paper.  I should have...  Seriously, why do we do this to ourselves.  The bible clearly says not to give the devil a foot hold.  Though I firmly believe that we should pray for specifics, I knew that God would choose to do what He wanted regardless of how much work I did and how much I was kicking myself for not doing.  Do you ever have that?  Where you have this battle in your own head?  I should have done the postcards... but I can only do so much with my time.  I should have done this... but I have two little kids that need mommy to eat supper with them. 
And so I shrugged it off and went on, focusing on how to present the desserts, etc.
The auction started at 630 and I'm so thankful I wasn't wearing a watch!!!  People were there but not tons and tons of people like I had hoped for.  It wasn't until the auctioneer walked in that I really realized how little people were there.  There was 45 minutes on the silent auction before the live auction of about 8 items.  Here stood the auctioneer and we hadn't even filled the room yet.  We waited another 15 minutes before I faced the inevitable and went on with the live auction. 
I didn't count the number of people there.  And to be honest, I don't think its important.  What I do know, is that I was really, really dissapointed in the turn out.  There were approximately 30 people there.  Besides the auctioneer, there was only three people there from the community outside of our church.  One was helping with the auction and the other was the auctioneer's son, who also happens to be a client of Ryan's.
The live auction came and went without much excitement.  A few things were bid on by several people but most things kept their starting bid or had one bid on them.  My saddle and blanket went for $25 when the auctioneer started it at that but even he turned and told me that he wouldn't understand if I didn't want to sell it for that much.  This was not what I envisioned.
My heart was happy but broken all at the same time.
Sure, the Iowa Hawkeyes were undefeated and playing at the same time but that couldn't have kept everyone home could it?  It wasn't even raining out.  I feel stupid for planning for 500, thinking we'd have at least 200 and having 30.  There's all these desserts, are people going to be mad that I asked them to make a dessert that I didn't really need?  What are you trying to teach me through this Lord?
Of course, I'm not all negative in my thinking...
At the same time, I was so glad for those who did come.  In fact one of the checks in the donations (they didn't bid on anything) said "we care" in the memo line.  Oh how I wish they would have said that at the event.  How could I stand there and look past all the people who were there to only focus on who wasn't?  There were lots of people there who care about us.  Who see the value in adoption.  Who care for the orphans.  That was so obviously evidenced by the amount of donations, by the desserts given, by the prayers said and the kind words shared.  But I was asking for more.  And it so wasn't in God's design for there to be more that night.  I still don't know why but I'm trying to be at peace about it.
I am so thankful for all the participation.  So, so thankful for the countless hours that mom kept my kids while I worked on adoption stuff.  So, so thankful for Ryan's ability to let me be off in another world focusing on this while he put the kids in bed and didn't get my attention.  So, so thankful for Cassie's amazing help planning, shopping, setting up, getting donations, adverstising, etc.  I'm so thankful for those who have cared through this process, whether they put it on the memo so I could "see" it or not.
We can't always see things even if they are there.
It's so much easier for me to understand and comprehend the tangible.  I specifically prayed for a range of money (between $4500 and $5400).  I didn't set a goal that would fund all of our adoption, or even a goal that would fund the difference of what we'd not saved on our own.  I don't even know where the goal came from except to say that it came to mind while I was praying one day.  We didn't meet that goal with the auction but I'm okay with that.  Because in that I faithful to pray and seek God and He was faithful to answer.  Those who supported us through winning bids, supported us big time.  I heard one lady say that she was writing a check for $500 and wanted the difference to go towards the raffle tickets.  I didn't know what her total was so I added it up later that night.  I was blown away to read the totals on checks and then match them with what they'd purchased.  It was so cool.  And as I held the money in my hand late Saturday night, I was and am so thankful to God who made it all happen.  Cause at the end of the night, we were ~$3,000 closer to bringing children home from Ethiopia. 
Yes, God did hear my prayers and He did answer and I'm so glad to have participated in that!

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Friday, October 16, 2009

yummy water

So far so good. did I mention that I had an email yesterday morning from Doug saying that he would be out that day and have results on Monday. They are wonderful people and I so greatly appreciate them. I had a note on my counter that said nitrates were fine. Monday we should know the results of the bacteria test and then be moving forward again.
Thanks Doug and Jane!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Well Water

Great news: Holt has received all our background checks, etc and is ready to forward it to our social worker. That means that we can start our homestudy soon.

BaHumbug news: Holt informed me today that we need a test on our well water done within 12 months before the info gets sent to our social worker.

Okay, so I'm super excited that this is progressing. However I'm a bit bummed that they didn't catch the well water issue in the last few weeks while we were waiting for background checks, etc. It stinks to have to wait longer when this is something I could've had done. The really cool part about it is that the guy who services our water softener and delivers our bottled water can do the test. He also happens to be a member of our church and VERY supportive of our adoption. So supportive in fact, he donated a reverse osmosis system to be installed to our auction. Anyway, after checking with them, the test will be run early next week and the results back late in the week. That's only a week later. Not so bad, right? It gets better, I had an email from Doug this morning saying that he would test the water TODAY and have the results on Monday. Thank you, thank you, thank you Easton's Water. I love you guys!

Things are progressing slowly. I have some of the documentation for our dossier (application to adopt that gets sent to DC and to Ethiopia) but need to get started on a few more letters - from the bank, from the doctor, from another friend and maybe a few more.

Guys, we're finally moving along in this process and I'm so thankful. My heart continues to grow as does my passion for orphans!

For any of you nearby, we'd love to see you at our adoption auction at the Opera House on Oct 24th. Let me know if you're interested.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Loving Today

While I sit and type at the library, lots of thoughts are going through my mind. So, I'll share a few that will give you insight to our process:
  • I read on a yahoo group that Et doesn't like fundraiser. Their take is that if you have to fundraise for an adoption, you can't afford to raise the child. While I understand their concern, I also look at it mathematically and coming up with $25,000-$40,000 in 12 months to adopt is much more than we'd spend in a year to raise all of our kids! So, I'm trying to be prayerful about this rather than understanding.
  • We finished phase 3 paperwork. Got the next packet of information to read through. I started that a few minutes ago. I'm so excited to be moving through this process.
  • Fundraising has become more than fundraising to me. I want it to also serve as an awareness for adoption and orphans in general. Yesterday while driving, I was trying to organize how the dessert/auction will look and feel to people. I'm praying that God will do far more with the auction than I can even imagine... especially since I have limited hours in the day to invest in fundraising.
  • Speaking of fundraising, I have lots to do for that. I still want to contact the other local papers about putting something in. Yes, I should just fork out the cash and do an add. And I need to finish designing a few posters to be hung in the local towns around here.
  • I would love to be covered in prayer in the coming weeks as I spend lots of time doing this stuff. I don't want to put God in the backseat and try to do this all myself. I don't want my quiet time to go out the window. But I know I don't have enough hours in the day to do it all. Will you pray for me? (and for patience for Ryan as he deals with me?)
  • I don't know what children or child God has in mind for us. But I do know that we love them already as we work to bring them home!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Still trying to digest the info I received from Holt after we didn't get the little boy. I'm okay with the outcome of things but not sure how to grasp their follow up comments that I requested. Here's what she said:
The main concern is no fault of your own - the lack of diversity in your town. Because of that, it's going to be extra important for your family to seek out African or African-American role models, and black communities in nearby areas.
Okay, so my issue with this is that it is no fault of our own and its also not something we can change. Hearing this has been difficult to grasp because I can't increase the diversity here. I can seek out role models but again we live in rural NE Iowa and finding those people nearby is the hard part. So if you would, pray for us as we continue to seek to learn. I'm confident that we can do this but was hoping that we would be considered good enough even though I realize we have a lot to learn.

Tonight we're heading to a nearby town where they recently brought home a little boy from Ethiopia. I'm excited to meet them and listen to their story. Hopefully I'll also have some questions prepared to ask them.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Good News!

Good News #1: God is so good.  The little boy that we were pursuing did indeed get matched with a family.  He was not matched with us and that's fine with me because I want orphans to have families and he will have that.  How exciting for him.  My prayer is that he will have peace and comfort in the coming months as he continues to grieve and transition through all these many changes in the coming months.
Good News #2: We will have a little more time to prepare for adoption and educate ourselves.
Good News #3: We have asked to view the profiles of the other available children from a few weeks ago.  I'm hoping to have those profiles in hand tomorrow.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Well the last few days have been eventful on the adoption front.

Last weekend we attended the first 4 modules of our training in central Iowa. It was a small group and we really had a good time getting to know the other two couples. The training was informational but not overwhelming and not boring. The time went quickly, granted us ladies had plenty of discussion going all the time.

During our weekend, we learned that there are more children being released for adoption than there are parents. This translates to a desperate need for parents who are willing and able to adopt. This also means that once we're paperwork ready, a referral can happen very, very quickly (compared to a 2-4 month wait). Considering I haven't been too quick at returning paperwork to the agency, this gave me a little more sense of urgency.

Granted, with that sense of urgency comes a reality of my life. I have two children at home that also need my attention and a full time job so it makes it a little more difficult for me to get paperwork turned around so quickly. Especially when the physical requires a Tb test that takes 48-72 hours to read. I have yet to have my physical though because I have to work that around my work schedule some what. Yes, I can take time off, but I need to be saving that time off so I can be home adjusting with our new child(ren) when that happens.

Speaking of new child(ren)... we are continuing to pursue a little boy who is between Scott and Bethany in age. The agency has a rule that they want the kids at least 9 months apart. I'm glad my kids were born 24 months which allows room in between for a child to fit within their rules.

Last night we had our phone interview with Holt's waiting child program. It was a time for Holt to get to know us a little more and present us to the selection committee on Thursday. We will be presented with 3 other families. Originally I was thinking we didn't have a chance at this little boy. I had been praying that God would make His will known and that we would be fine with using this as an opportunity to learn. From talking to Holt last night, the other families aren't necessarily any farther in the process than us. That means that we have a real chance of being matched with a child. A real chance. I can't believe that on Thursday evening, we could potentially have another child. (I say have because there is lots of paperwork that would have to be done before he could legally be part of our family).

The realness is setting in. I'm not expecting that we'll get chosen as I try to guard my heart, but I know that it could happen. If we don't get selected for this little boy, there will be plenty of opportunity in the coming months. Yee haw!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Lunch Break

I just spent my lunch half-hour organizing the paperwork we have to send it.  Its repetitive and ridiculous but I get a laugh at it because I require that all the time here at work.  Just to give you an idea of paperwork that I should have had sent in two weeks ago:
- FBI background checks for each of us and an extra one in my maiden name
- State of Iowa background checks for each of us and an extra one in my maiden name
- Child Abuse checks for both of us
- formal application
- copies of birth and marriage certificates
- some other random form
- 4 different checks, I might be able to write two checks: haven't done this one yet
Oh and we've touched the tip of the iceberg!  I have a lot to learn and am anxious to start learning as I continually will be calling on Him!
Now if I can sneak in an extra few minutes, I want to create a flyer asking for desserts for the auction to put in boxes before we leave tomorrow.
The following are a few verses one of my girlfriends just shared with me. Thanks Kara for sharing scripture after I complained to you about the waiting child process.

Psalm 145:13-30

"The LORD is faithful to all his promises and loving towards all he has made.

The LORD upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.

The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time.

You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.


The LORD is righteous in all his ways and loving towards all he has made.

The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.

He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.

The LORD watches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy."


Psalm 31:14-15a

"But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, You are my God.

My times are in your hands…"

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More Children Available

We've been watching the waiting child lists for several months with no action. Then a few weeks ago, there was a little boy that fit the agency and our personal criteria. The committee will interview us about him. Then Tuesday night, a new list of waiting children came out. There were 3 children on that list that we would potentially be interested in. But because we have decided to pursue the first little boy, we can't even look at the profiles of the other children. I'm a little bummed about that because I don't know if the committee will ever choose us to be his family (there are other families interested) and I don't want to miss the opportunity to connect with the other children if we don't get the first one. Policy is policy and I can't change that. Though I'm a bit bummed, I continue to trust in The One who sees the big picture... maybe He has twins in mind for us :)

Monday, August 31, 2009

Hi everyone. I'm slowly transitioning from Mexico missions stuff back to adoption details. We're working hard at adoption details, including raising funds.
To offset the cost of our adoption, we're hosting an adoption auction fundraiser. This will be an online auction for about 2 weeks followed by a dessert and live auction here in Iowa. We've had several donations of items and greatly appreciate that. Realistically though, there's a need for more donations. If you have an item or service to share, I want you to be able to do so. Please let me know ASAP if you would be willing to donate to our auction. To give you an idea of some of the donations so far, here's a list:

prom dresses worn only once
· tie blankets
· hand knitted scarves
· free baby sitting
· baby quilt
· custom designed cards
· hand crafted jewelry
· antique hand quilted quilt
· framed wolf print
· acrylic painting
· silver bracelet that doesn't fit them

... hmm, i bet I have some stuff like that...especially a bracelet from an old boyfriend. Some other things come to mind as great items too:

gym memberships
· guitar lessons
· educational tutoring
· photography sitting
· photography lessons
· livestock - for a pet or for meat
· something you make - either professionally or as a hobby
· Supplies left over from something you sold (mary kay, creative memories, etc)
· that new pair of shoes or jacket you never returned
· that really cool international item you bought but don't know what to do with

These are things I think of cause they're things I like/want but don't necessarily need. Anyway, let me know. We would be much appreciated to hear back from you either way. Just to give you an update on where we're at in the process, I'll share that too. On Monday night we viewed the profile of a waiting child and will be presented to the selection committtee for him. Chances are it won't amount to anything but I live by faith, not by coincidence. I'm trusting in God's will on this, regardless of the outcome. But before we can move too much further, we have lots to do. We have to pay the remainder of our application fee ($250). We have the contract and invoice ($2500) at home to sign and return. We have to do our finger printing for our background investigation and gather up our birth and marriage certificates. We will be emailing our tax info today or tomorrow. Those we named as references are working on their surveys. After that, we head to LeGrand Iowa (Sept 18-19) for the first part of our adoption education requirements. The process is moving along now and we're excited for the end result! Thanks so much for being willing to participate in our journey.

Going to Committee

We viewed a little boys profile last week. We will move forward with this precious child. In Holt adoption terms, that means we're going to committee. From my understanding they will determine if we're a good family fit for him. There are other families interested in this little boy. Regardless of who he goes home with, I'm thrilled to know that he'll be getting a family and a home. Chances are that the committee will choose a family that is paperwork ready if they are also a good fit. That would get the little boy home quicker.

You might also note that this little boy is not part of a sibling group. Though we want siblings and I would love twins, our main goal is to care for the orphans in need of a home, even if that's not exactly what we want. I'm still learning that it's not about me.

We continue to walk in faith...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

You've got Mail - from Holt

We received our contract and other paperwork in the mail from Holt. We stared reading the adoption contract last night. Its only 8 pages long. I got 2 1/2 pages through it before I was falling asleep. It's so detailed that it took me 30 minutes to read through that much! Whew!

With the contract we received our background check information so we need to get finger printed. We received our invoices for some fees so we need to pull $25250 out of savings to send back.

The process is so overwhelming and I'm glad to finally be starting into things.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Profile View

Monday night Ryan and I viewed the profile of a waiting child in Ethiopia. He'd fall right between Scott and Bethany in age. Not sure that it will go anywhere since we have lots of paperwork and training to do before we can be matched with a child. It was exciting to look. And who knows, maybe he will become part of our family.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


I just got off the phone with the branch representative for our adoption.  A while back we signed up for the waiting child program and last week asked to be duel enrolled in the regular program as well.  The rep just called to give me a run down of the process that we'll venture through in the near future:
Stage 1:
They'll send us forms for the background check, an invoice for the remainder of our application fee ($250), an invoice for our homestudy fee ($2900, we'll pay the mileage later), the international service agreement and the duty form.
We'll fill out our forms and send them the last 3 years of tax returns, photos of the exterior of our home, photos of our family, copies of our birth and marriage certificates and some cash.
They'll send letters to our individual references.
Stage 2:
They'll send us forms for medicals, more detailed financials, personal data forms.
We'll have to finish the first 4 hours of Hague required training before our homestudy is completed.  This occurs in LeGrand Iowa on a Friday night and Saturday morning.
We didn't get any farther than that in the process.  So far, not too bad.  Let's pray that God perfectly orchestrates the details of the above mentioned process as we seek to love a child(ren).

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Fill A Need?

I just read a friend's blog where she gave a brief update about their adoption. There is a great need that I think we can meet but let me give you a little background.

About a Child facilitates adoptions in Ghana. Their connection is through a local Pastor. He's doing amazing things for God as he meets children in need of a family and connects them to families. In the recent months (Janel, correct my where needed on this story) the Pastor's office was broken into. Of the items stolen, his laptop was inlcuded in that. As the Pastor seeks to communicate with various villages about the children in need, there are a few critical tools he needs. One is a lap top. The other is a motorcycle. If he had these two items, he would be better equipped to visit the villages and communicate back with the adoption agency and families.

It sounds so simple doesn't it. It is. In America. Unfortunately this need is in Ghana and its not so simple there. I mentioned to Janel that we should pray for those specific items (something I learned to do again while in Mexico). As I take time to pray for these items, I also wanted to ask if you would be able to help fill a need. How many of us use a computer for 3 years only to determine its too old and too slow and get a new one? In fact, I read a friends blog today where she mentioned that very issue. Because we're not in Ghana, gifting an actual motorcycle might be difficult but a lap top might be easier to send over. Would you pray with me? Would you let me know if you can donate a lap top or a financial gift for this ministry?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What an Experience

Yesterday I read on Janel's blog about how God perfectly orchestrated them seeing the homecoming of a family who'd just adopted. It was so cool and I was a bit emotional reading that. I'll never forget the day that I picked up my Pastor and his family at the airport when they brought their daughter home from China.

Today, I had an experience similar to Janel's. Just 30 minutes ago I was driving through town with my boss on our way back to the office from a meeting. As we passed the court house I saw a group of people with baloons. There were several children around and I thought it was sweet that someone got baloons for their birthday. As I paid closer attention I saw so much more than birthday baloons. My boss noticed it as well and questioned what the balloons were for. About that time it hit me that a family had likely just finished their re adoption process at the court house. I explained that to my boss and he acknowledged that it made since considering the family that was out there is the family in town who adopted from Ethiopia recently.

A bit of emotion welled up inside of me as I thought through their day for them and could imagine the picture they took with the judge, the celebration in their family and how other family had gathered around. Like Janel, I was scheduled to be done with a meeting early and would have totally missed it but happened to drive through at just the right time. Thank you Jesus for such a simple but precious gift.

Monday, August 17, 2009


"Waiting is one of God's most powerful tools of grace. God doesn't just give us grace for the wait. The wait itself is a gift of grace. You see, waiting is not only about what you will receive at the end of the wait. Waiting is about wahat you will become as you wait." Paul David Tripp
What a cool quote to put things in perspective for me.  I don't like waiting at all!

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Application Done

I'm embarassed and excited to say that we finally completed our adoption application for a waiting child. Embarrassed because God put adoption on my heart months and months ago yet it has taken me so long to finally apply through an agency. Excited because we're getting the ball rolling and have requested to view some information about a particular little girl and maybe some other children that would be a good fit in our family.

Ryan also informed of how much we have saved up. When I shared that amount with my mom, her reply was that we haven't saved very much. Well, in the big picture of adoption, it isn't very much. In regards to our monthly budget, I'm excited that we've been able to save! I have a feeling that with starting the process officially, I will be more apt to tighten the belt on spending and save for the adoption.

Woo hoo!

and of worthy note: this picture is a huge over exaggeration of the application forms :)

Friday, July 10, 2009


As I've thought recently about using a more expensive agency, I've also thought in general about the money needed to fund an adoption. I've had a few little things in mind to craft and sell for funds. One project is still in its gathering and preparation stages and I've not made one item yet but have a bag of supplies ready. The second item came to mind as I searched over and over for a black baby doll for Bethany only to find one on the internet for way more than I can dish out and decided to make her one. I have made two to date but have yet to put faces or shoes on either of them. That will take time to perfect I'm sure.

The third idea I came up with is a Dinner and Auction. I'm hoping to get my divine food friend to help me out with the meal portion (she has done some amazing stuff with my Sweetheart Supper). Charge a few dollars over the cost of the meal for people to come in. In addition to that, there would be a silent auction in another room. The items, I hope, will come from donations. I made a list of the things I love - some of which are handmade items from friends/family and some of which are purchased. I'm hoping to get some of both. As I made the list I figured why not ask some local businesses (though they're not buddies of mine) to participate. The more I thought about it, the more I thought about doing an online auction so that friends and strangers abroad could participate.

Visiting with a friend about the idea, she suggested I start the auction online and the ending bids of that would be the beginning bids at the Dinner. That's an idea as well. I have yet to decide exactly what I'll do but I plan to ask friends and family and businesses in the coming two weeks if they'll participate. The donation part is critical. So, if you would pray for God to encourage people to participate through donations and then again through purchases I would appreciate it. Also, if you have something you would like to donate and I don't specifically ask you, please let me know. Thanks.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

One Thing is For Sure

As most of you know, I've been really up in the air about making decisions regarding adoption. There are multiple agencies and countries with varying requirements and issues. Which one is perfect for me? I have yet to find that answer. So I began searching the waiting child lists and have found that the children on that list don't fit our criteria (the part about Scott being the oldest). So I was back to square one.

Do I wait 7 more months when I will be 30 and eligible for other countries?

Recently I decided that the experience of a larger agency would be worth the extra money. So at this point, I'm going to trust God to continue to provide as He sees fit.

The past two weeks I've been eager to sit down with Ryan and get the application filled out and sent in. I don't want to wait any longer, especially if we have to wait to be matched with a child. With the recent weeks events, we haven't had the time. My dad flies in on Saturday and I'm hoping that we can find time while he's here to let him watch the kiddos while we focus on paperwork for a few hours.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Is that too much to ask?

We have this criteria for adoption:
 - children in need
 - siblings born after 7/2005
 - "less" expensive on the adoption scale
 - quick process
 - special needs on a case by case basis
Is this too much to ask?
I have been perusing different agencies waiting children's photolistings.  And seriously, I have only found one that semi fits the criteria.  This makes it sounds so business like and I'm not fond of that idea.  I want to be faithful in this journey.
Lord, I know you have the child(ren) picked out for us.  Do you want us to pick a waiting child or get on the list and wait for a refferal? 
I know that months have passed and we've not really moved forward in this process.  I'm torn between choosing an agency and waiting for a referral versus the waiting child lists that don't perfectly fit us.  Lord, you know.
Ethiopia proves to adopt younger children which might increase our opportunities for siblings younger than Scott.  But their process is longer.  Ghana has the shorter process but older children.  Add to that Rwanda (which I know very little about) and I'm turning in circles I think.
This time has proved to be good to pray about the process, for the children and their families.  But I don't want it to be so long that dissapoinment begins to creep in...

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Sunday, June 7, 2009

The second little girl

Initially while peering through the waiting child profiles, I found two little boys who were younger than Scott. They would be a fine fit but it wasn't like I thought they were adorable and wanted to go get them immediately.

There was the second little girl that did grab me. According to her bio, she's 33 days younger than Scott. She's absolutely beautiful. Her short hair compliments her round face and gap between her teeth. There are two things in her bio that I have to check in on. One is that she has syphilis. It can be easily cured if caught in time so I'm hoping that she's in the curable stages. And though her legal birthdate is after Scott's, her bio says that she may be a year older than her legal birth date. I'm not sure of the implications of the birth date. Would we have to change her birth date? Thinking long term, would she mature much faster than her classmates? Does that matter?

I emailed the agency about her today. I've checked my inbox at least 15 times since then and am beginning to understand the anxiety that adoptive parents have during the waiting periods! Please pray for her to find a family and pray for us as we seek to find a child to bring into our home.

The first little girl

I've been pouring over the waiting child lists for the past week. Several children have really caught my attention. Let me share a little about the first girl:

The first girl is beautiful. She's well behaved, helpful with the other kids and is healthy. She seems to be on the waiting child list because she's 6 years old.

Knowing that Ryan wants Scott to remain the oldest child, I asked Ryan if we could adopt her. His response was: "If someone hands us a $10,000 check, I'll take that as a sign from God." I think he was being slightly sarcastic in his comment but of course I didn't let it end there. I assured him that he was putting God in a box by saying that and said that instead we should see if she was still available for adoption and if so, to take that as a sign to adopt her. There was no response from Ryan.

I have been praying that God will help me find a family for this little girl. So, I could use your help in one or more of the following ways:
  • Do you have $10,000 that you would be willing to send in the form of a check so that Ryan will see God's sign?
  • Do you know of anyone who'd be willing to parent this little girl, to give her a loving family
  • Will you join me in praying that this girl will find a family before she gets even older and less likely to be adopted?

As I was praying for this girl in the past few days, a thought occurred to me. A while back I was sitting on the patio of a coffee house with a friend when my doctor walked by. In our brief conversation I asked her if she was having any other kids. She said "no, unless one falls out of the sky for us." She went inside to order her coffee. When she came out we had another slightly more lengthy chat about adoption. I told her that there were plenty of kids that needed families and I would keep in touch with her if I found one. Well, maybe I did. I need to contact Dr. Ryan and chat with her about this beautiful little girl!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

More info on the update

Now that I've communicated with the agency about our plans, I feel like I can be more open about where I'm at. The following is most of an email I sent to another family that I've communicated with about adoption with a few additions:

My two big things right now is that we want to be wise with the finances God gives us. And we want to be obedient regarding adoption. I really don't want to get caught up in all the small details of things. The fact that I typically like the details of things but not so much about the beginning stages of this adoption kind of surprised me. I think that's in part because I am a detailed person and didn't really like any of the options that I read about regarding adoption. There was no perfect fit and that frustrated me. I sat there complaining to God (and others) about it rather than making a decision. [I've started a spreadsheet for comparison but never filled it out thoroughly and part of me wants to compare them like I would a new sewing machine but mostly I just want to love a child in need]. When Michelle told me about your family, I was super excited. I thought it would be great to adopt from a similar situation as another somewhat local family. But as I dug through the details of the contract, I didn't like them. My kids are disciplined as a form of training them and I didn't like what the contract said about that. Likewise, I didn't want to assume the financial responsibility for legal fees - even though I don't agree with going to court and don't plan on that. For me, that just said that unless I have a padded bank account, I won't pursue legal action. The past few months when I've been hoping to be going through the gruelling process of adoption paperwork, my heart has been heavy regarding an agency that would be a good fit for a family. I feel like I'm waisting time. Will I miss our child's birthday? Will I miss the opportunity to provide needed medical care because of my lack of decision?

I met a girl on the ghana yahoo group that lives [nearby] and has adopted from Ghana. I was excited to [communicate with her with the thought of our kids playing together someday]. Then I read about her agency and then the feedback I received from those who experienced that agency was not real positive. Again, I was on the hunt for an agency. These past few weeks have been crazy busy in our lives so I've been spending break time at the office reading about, praying over, and asking questions about another agency all the while looking at their waiting child lists and dreaming of the child(ren) who might join our family. [Sadly, I was hoping that there would be a sibling group on one of those sites that was exactly what I've been dreaming about: Siblings or twins younger than my children, but there wasn't. I was a bit bummed but did manage to email my husband about 3 seperate children]. There are two main agencies I'm looking at now. Both come highly recommended. One would cause me to start my homestudy process over (which isn't a super big deal) [but again, I'm a loyal person and I'd feel like I was betraying Kathy who has started our homestudy] and one wouldn't. These past few days I've been wanting to pick the child off the waiting child list and pick the agency according to that. The problem that we run into is we've only been married six years and we want Scott (born 7/05) to be the oldest.

Last night I read through Hebrews 11 and 12. Chapter 11 talks about the things people did by faith. I couldn't get past that chapter. I can't even remember right now what chapter 12 was about. This morning after working out, I read another version of chapter 11. It's still hitting home with me. If those people could do so much by faith, why can't I trust God in the small details of this adoption? If I'm capable of wading through the details, why don't I quit whining (a proverb about a dripping faucet comes to mind) and wade through the details? I'm so glad that this is the day the Lord has made. It's a new day, a fresh start and I'm so glad to rejoice in it.

Do you think if I go back to the sites again while I'm on lunch that there will be new ones? Maybe I should extend my search to countries I wasn't otherwise thinking of... but that would require me to remember what countries we're eligible for... pray for me, will you?


I emailed our contact at agency #1 this morning and let her know that I wasn't comfortable with their contract. That I was prayerfully considering going elsewhere. I felt like I was betraying her. I am a very loyal person so that was tough for me. She was very nice about it. I'm thankful for that being off my shoulders now as I look at other agencies online and communicate with them via email.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Real Quick Update

Things are crazy. Adoption options are crazy. Based on my email conversations with the agency we chose, we're looking elsewhere. I've said before that I wasn't crazy about their contract. And now the issues with them waiting on adoptions. I for some reason feel like we have to be adopting right now. I hope that's of God. Anyway, I feel like I'm in the rat race once again of picking an agency and a country. Do we stick with an African nation or pick somehwere else? Do we just go with the big name agency that a friend recommends or do I do a bunch more digging.

It's like being at a restaraunt and picking one item to eat from their massive menu. Options are good. But too many options are distracting for me. I'm a simple minded person. I want to be obedient to the Lord in this and not get distracted by all the little details. Would you pray for me? Right now I have two agencies that I'm looking at:
  • Agency 3: I like that they work in Ethiopia, but most agencies do work there now. I like that they are highly recommended by a friend in social work. I don't like that I emailed the contact lady this morning about their waiting child list and have not heard back from her today.
  • Agency 4: They are starting to work in Uganda pretty regularly. Sounds interesting. They have two boys on their waiting child list that seem to be a good fit. One of which had a seizure in the past but no indication of them in the Ct Scan (hello, if that doesn't say Buitenwerf to me, I don't know what would since both my kids have had the random seizure before). I don't like that they'd have to do my homestudy and I've already started the homestudy with Kathy for our 1st agency.

Father, your love is amazing. I want to share that love with others without getting caught up in the details. May this be a joyful experience where you are ever present.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Let the homestudy begin... Kathy is meeting with us tomorrow night regarding our homestudy. I'm excited although I'm a little nuts because my house is not at all ready for guests, let alone the homestudy person! I guess she'll see the real me if I don't get it cleaned after the two other things I have going on tonight.

That reminds me, I should send my contract in for our homestudy... I bet they'd appreciate that.

Friday, May 8, 2009

I knew we were getting some much needed time away as a family. What I didn't know is that the resort the drug company took us to was African themed. I was amazed at all the African decorations, historical info, etc. As we left supper on Wednesday night, we took the skywalk back. Instead of the leisurly walk with the kids, I spent some time reading all that was on the wall. Forget the view of the outdoors, I was looking at African history and tribal information. I took pictures of each symbol and their meaning until I realized there was more. The second half, I only took pictures that I thought would be relevant to our child's culture and history later on.
As I walked through the resort, it was this constant reminder that I told God I would love a child in need in His name. thank you Lord for being there.

Orphan Problem, what are you doing?

From Anita's blog:
“If only 14 % of the world’s Christians adopted 1 orphaned child, the world’s orphan population would disappear. Disappear! Imagine. The Lord calls us to care for orphans over 40 times in the bible. Now, I am not saying that every Christian family is called to adopt. But every Christian family IS called to care for the orphans of this world. What can you do? Giving financially is certainly beneficial, but what about your time? Do you have time to write to an orphaned child—just to let them know that someone in this world loves them? Do you have the resources to visit an orphanage and spend time simply loving the children? Do you have the financial ability to assist another family with adopting a child? Or might there be an empty place at your table?”

Monday, April 27, 2009


I read the following on a blog today:

"A few weeks ago my cousin wrote on Facebook that she is impressed by people who don't just save princesses but also the broken, hurting, outcast and penniless."

I was floored by that thought.

Sure, I'm willing to take a child with minor special needs. But am I willing to take the completely broken, hurting, outcast and penniless? Wow, I'd like to say yes but I know that I'd be lying to myself. I've said many times that I would take minor special needs because I don't have the time (I work full time) or resources (we live in a small community with out specialized doctors). ouch!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Relieved but a tad dissapointed

I received an email this weekend from the social worker. I want to share my thoughts on it, but first I'll share the bulk of the email:

Dear Tamara,
I know you are making your final decisions and raising the funds in order to sign on for the Ghana program. I wanted
to alert you that the director and I have discussed the fact we would like to see one child arrive to his forever home prior to signing on additional families.
We have one family close to bringing home 2 young children. One we have the adoption decree and the other is due to go through Court next week- from there it's approx. another month for the docs to process. The family will need to file the I600 in Ghana and it can be 7-30 days for that process. It appears, by best estimate, we are looking at about 2-3 months before we want to sign on 'new families' --we really need to see at least one through from begin to end to ensure we are in complete understanding of the process. I hope you understand and are not discouraged. We feel this is our responsibility, as the placing agency and we owe it to current and future families to be as educated and prepared as we can to ensure a smooth adoption process.

Yes, we are still in the decision making process. I found it interesting that Carla stated that. She could have gleaned that from the many questions I've asked. She may also be aware of that based on my blog. Now, I haven't officially invited her to view my blog but I'm not trying to hide it from her either. Just a place that I'm trying to be honest and real with myself, regardless of who reads.

I love that they want to be comfortable with the process before they take on another family. I totally appreciate that she informed me of their wishes rather than leading me on.

Two to three months???? Seriously I don't want to wait that long. Notice I said "want"? Yes, I would prefer to be beyond the major paperwork and preparing to love a child but I know that realistically we are no where near that yet! This 2-3 month process might actually be perfect timing, aka God's timing. I'm okay with that. I know that we have lots of money to save before this can all be said and done anyway.

Although I want it to happen now, in my time. I'm more than thankful to let God have control of this adoption and for it to happen in His time. And when things get crazy and I get pushy, help me remember to give it to the Lord! After all, these are his children!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


It has been a good week to be praying, though not often enough, for Ghana, the orphans there and for Carla while on her trip. She should be back home now and I'm eager to hear from her.

It's been a difficult week as well. At one point I wanted to go back to adopting from Ethiopia because even though I've not been there, its familiar to me. But this week I've also been learning alot about God calling us, commanding us actually, to be radical for him. To step outside of what's comfortable. Without a doubt, I know a deep love will grow in my heart for Ghana. I just need to give it time. To read, to learn. I also debated on considering other agencies. Perhaps we still will. But after this morning, God is giving me a little peace for the journey. Seems like I think of these other options (Ethiopia, other agencies, foster-adopt) and the Lord keeps bringing me back to Ghana.

Lord, I don't know what you have in store for Your glory here, but I'm excited to be a part of it!

To date, I don't have a clue how much money we have saved up for our first payments to be sent with the contract. I'm a little frustrated about that but know that it takes time. I have an idea or two for fundraising. I think those will be small dollar items but every little bit helps.

In the meantime Lord, I will continue to come before You, asking for Your will. And Lord, would you bless the mommy who gives up her child. And would you bless the children that lose their mommies. Lord, would you put it on more people's hearts to care for the orphans and widows!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Where I am Today...

Today I'm confused but hopeful. Dissapointed but encouraged. Stubborn but prayerful.

I like things to go smoothly, to be put simply. I work my tail off to make life easier for people I come in contact with. It just seems like the right thing to do. I greatly appreciate that Carla has been so good at communicating with me.

With that said, my heart is heavy this week. This morning I got an email from Ryan's Aunt Betty. She has been a great help in looking at the contract. It followed an email (or was it a comment?) from my friend Ashley who does adoptions. Their concerns regarding the contract with our agency plus my own concerns are the reason for my heavy heart.

I have a few minor issues and a few bigger issues that I need to pray through and let God guide us on:
  1. The contract saying "never" in regard to discipline issues. I believe the bible is true when it says if you spare the rod, you spoil the child. I like how the message puts it: "A refusal to correct is a refusal to love; love your children by disciplining them." Proverbs 13:24. I've asked the agency and they didn't seem to budge on this. However, I think that some actual conversations out side of email might clarify some of the issues I have.
  2. Recently a family adopting from Ghana through this agency (they're how we found the agency) was informed that their son they were expecting to bring home wasn't a true orphan and his family opted to keep him. Although I think that's great for his family, my heart aches for the American family that already loved him. I don't want to go through that heart ache. I know there's a chance that we won't get the child we think we're going to get and I know that God is controlling those situations, but I'm not ready to volunteer to go through that. I've already told the agency that I want to make sure that the child has true orphan status and they were fine with that. In fact, our agency contact is in Ghana right now working through some of those issues.
  3. I still have an issue with taking on the agency's legal fees should it ever come to that. I have no intent of legal action but I also realized that the existing contract language would prevent me from pursuing legal action simply for financial reasons. I wouldn't be able to afford me own, let alone those of the agency. Ryan and I need to decide if they won't change that language and be willing to take on their legal fees, if we're willing to change agencies. Oh, Lord, would you work in our favor as we seek to glorify you. Please continue to open doors wide or slam them shut!
  4. I like what I've read about other agencies having their own orphanage. I know this doesn't work with a small agency like ours and I don't know if it really even matters. I just think its a neat way to streamline the process, plus it allows the agency to have a better understanding of the child's history.
  5. I like and dislike the scheduled, detailed itenerary for groups that travel together (Monday you meet your child, Tuesday you go to the embassy, etc). I like that it allows for bonding with other families. I dislike that I'm unsure of how much free time people have to experience and immerse themselves in the culture.

As you can see, I have plenty to pray about. God has put it heavy on my heart to be praying for clarity and for the small little details to be worked out while Carla is in Ghana this week. Will you pray with me and for me?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Thanks for your support

Yesterday I received an email from a family member stating that he wanted to support us financially with our adoption. I about cried. Here's an excerpt of his email:

[my wife] and I talked last night about helping with a financial contribution to your adoption fund. Since God has been laying it on my heart for some time we feel we want to do something. We've been going out on a date/shopping night... we are going to forego the eating out [this summer] and take the about $20 per week and commit to you guys

Needless to say, I was more than thrilled at their willingness to give. And I love to see how God is working in their lives and that they are (as they said) standing with us in this process, committing to prayer and putting their money where their prayers are.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Answers to Questions sent to the Agency

Questions in Black, Answers in blue, Issues I still have in Red

General Questions and Answers

  1. Can you be working on foster/adoption as well as international adoption at the same time so long as AAC is aware of it? Yes, we simply like to know what options you are exploring, but we are supportive of this.
  2. Does getting pregnant or receiving a foster child affect the international adoption process? Not typically. You would need to tell us as your plans change and of course plan accordingly regarding travel, childcare, etc. . i.e. if a foster child is to be placed in your care the day/week before you are due to travel you need to have proper arrangements made and possibly 'permission' from your Foster Care Social Worker to leave the child elsewhere.
  3. Is it possible to pay month by month to keep the paperwork process going rather than lump sums at certain times? It's set up for bulk payments only at this time.
  4. Are there any families that have completed an adoption through Ghana yet? If so, can I have their contact information? You may contact [said person] who has had [child] home for one year now. He was around 16 months at placement.
    I emailed this person yesterday and hope that it doesn't go to her junk email...
  5. Do families travel together or individually for adoptions? Does an AAC staff travel us, meet us at the airport, etc? Typically, families will travel alone and be met by our Ghana representative. It's possible if 2 families were in the process at the same time and ready to file paperwork at the same time-- they could travel together, but I think it's safe to say most will be a solo trip.
  6. Who are the board of directors for AAC? You can contact [the director] to get all the names and information on the Board of Directors.
    I emailed the Director for this information today.
  7. What is the support once in Ghana? Who is the staff person? Do they help you out with adoption stuff as well as meals, travel, etc? Yes, you are well taken care of by [said Pastor] -with all details of the adoption as well as your stay in country. Often times his wife, plays a role in helping as well.
  8. What support is there for visa, consulate help. Ie: Follow up reminders on due dates, etc. It's best for you to take on this responsibility as well as providing all the proper dates to AAC so we can help in this area as well. We keep all these dates on file. We can help with Visa, etc. as well.
    So, I'm confused. I'll know all the dates and should provide that information to AAC? Isn't this why you pay them to be your agency? Can some one who knows more help me out here?
  9. Is there guidance for hotels to stay in, help planning travel, etc? I've never been to Ghana and don't know much about the place really. Yes, we take care of booking all this for your stay-with the assistance of [said Pastor]. See attachment for some of the details on the process-also a section for travel details/ =)
  10. Does re-adoption mean that you retain an attorney? Yes, some counties you can represent yourself in Court-but you will need to find that out based on your county. You are not required to re adopt in Iowa. (it is recommended but not a requirement anymore). If you choose to do so, it is typically completed through the Courts via attorney assistance.
  11. Are there foster-care services fees in Ghana? I don't know how 'official' the foster care is--- I will be finding out these details next week while I am in Ghana and meeting with the Dir of Social Welfare. I know [said Pastor] often takes on the foster family role-but it's certainly not like the system we have here.
    Sounds like I'll want to hear more about this stuff after she returns from her trip.
  12. Is this considered a private adoption? I'm not even sure what that means internationally. From here on out all our adoptions will be governed by the Social Welfare Department in Ghana. Not 'private'.
  13. Since AAC is small, do they have connections with other adoption groups for post adoption meetings? I actually hosted (up until recently) a monthly adoption support group at my church. [Another church] also tried this and there was little to no interest/attendance with their group. Over the course of a year my group started with maybe 15 and had 1-2 families towards the end of the year. Families are interested but reported not having the time to commit due to other activities: sports/music lessons/work--you get the idea. We eventually joined the two groups thinking (hoping) for one massive group--still not much--a family here or there. I am working on reestablishing something here and hope to have quarterly meetings/events in the near future. You, however, live further away so we would want to work w/you to find a group to best meet your needs. Try IFAPA--they have groups all over Iowa: AAC has an online yahoo group for our families, that in many ways serves a role in post adoption support. We do have many connections to help our families.
  14. What about pre-adoption meetings and educational information where experienced adoptive parents talk about their experiences? Our required education is all Hague Accredited and on line. Because we serve families all over the US and abroad--we do not have educational seminars, etc. at this time. We help families locate that information in their State with the help of their SW/HS agency. However, I host meetings occasionally and pass along all education/adoption related info to those on my mailing list for the support group,etc. The adoption support group was for families to learn from one another and share experiences--we can help you find a local active group in your area. Also, we are members of IAAA (Iowa Association of Adoption Agencies) as well as IFAPA. You will see by the attached flyer the group comes together to make educational opportunities available to our community.

Service Agreement Questions and Answers

  1. Please understand that I'm not being critical but I think its important that professional documents, including contracts, don't have grammatical and spelling errors. I used to write grants and am used to noticing that kind of thing and saw multiples within the document. Just an FYI. (You'll find that I'm not being critical of day to day correspondence, especially when you notice that I don't spell check things :) Please note that English is not [the director's] native language, although I know it's not an excuse, it may be the reason for some grammatical errors that you have seen. Please feel free to point those out to us so we can make the changes =)
    Yeah, well I think that's a lame excuse. Pay someone a couple of bucks to read through it for errors. Guess I'll have to do that for them at some point to help them out...
  2. Top of page 2 and again on page 4 under Home Study: AAC will provide homestudy for Iowa families. If we have someone besides AAC provide the home study, do we need an addendum? Addendum not necessary
  3. I don't understand question #4 on page 3. I think its basically saying not to bribe. Am I correct? Does it also say that you can't provide gifts to the prospective adoptive child? Correct, this is for your own protection. It's not to say that after you have met your child in country and started the process you can't offer him/her a small gift, but you never pay a prospective adoptive child or parent or official for that matter, anything for a placement. You may pay an appreciation to those working in your behalf or offer the Dept of Social Welfare a donation to help care for a family or a child left behind--but nothing more than a typical orphanage donation you would see in other countries. I believe this section also states that all communications go through the agency first rather than a family making contacts to officials, overseas reps, or persons congress, etc.
  4. Bottom of page 3: can you explain to me the difference between Exempt Provider and Supervised Provider? Really, I'm just trying to figure out where Kathy would fit in to this if she does get involved. Supervised Provider: an agency that provides all the child placing services, speaks one on one w/the family and deals w/daily adoption related concerns and communications-in these cases AAC would supervise the child placing agency because we have the proper accreditations and the placing agency does not. Kathy would be an exempt provider in this case since we are the supervising agency.
  5. Page 4 Supervised Providers: If Kathy isn't licensed in Iowa but is capable of the study, can she be considered a supervised provider? Kathy, if qualified as a Social Worker or Adoption Investigator for the State of Iowa, would only be your homestudy social worker. She would not work directly with AAC. You would pay her for her services.
  6. Page 5, #7: do post placement reports have a deposit separate from the report fee? Yes, the deposit is a fee you get back upon completion of each required report.
  7. Page 7, Additional fees: do Ghanaian children get placed in "private foster care for the duration of the adoption"? They can, yes. In our experience, [said Pastor] and his wife care for the child or in the case of another family adopting the child is still w/birth mother. These are also some items I hope to understand and learn during my meetings w/the Social Welfare Dept. There are some major changes going on regarding their social welfare system so we there is a lot to learn in the midst of this transitional time in Ghana.
    This sounds like another one I need to follow up on after she comes back.
  8. Page 7, Additional fees: what is the percentage of families that sign the Additional Fees Consent Waiver? This form is a requirement of the Hague. We have not had anyone use this to date.
    Huh, if it's a requirement, doesn't it have to get used???
  9. page 9, #10: disputes governed by California law and dealt with in San Mateo county... does this make sense if you and I are both in Iowa? Does this change to Iowa for work you're doing? Again, never been an issue, however since the agency director of AAC is in CA this is where a dispute would be dealt with. We have families all over the US and abroad and CA is where AAC began and all the Administrative details are through that office for all families regardless of location in the US.
  10. page 12 international fees #5: I think I understand what the intent here but it's actually saying in either case "without" a qualifying reason. I think grammatically it should say “with” instead of “without”? Please check and if you agree, we’ll change it and thank Tamara for catching that.
    I think I agree with you and I'll make sure to email about it.
  11. page 13 Deposits: When is the $500 embassy consulate child registration deposit due? Before you travel
  12. page 13 Deposits: Post adoption report deposit refund. It refunds if the report is turned in how farm in advance? When is the deposit refunded? Refund at the time the post placement report has been submitted to AAC
  13. Is the post placement fee ($220/ea) in addition to the $400 deposit? Yes, the $220 per Post Placement Report is only if it's prepared and submitted by AAC staff.
    I think I mis-typed it and its a $200 fee, I'll have to double check that.
  14. page 26 breech litigation: does this happen in CA? Technically, yes. But since you live in Iowa, then neither schedules apply to you.
  15. page 19: what is HIM testing/diagnosis? Typo – HIV. Nobody caught that before
  16. page 20: As I understand it the disciplinary agreement follows forever. It says "never" all through it where most agencies seem to be concerned until the adoption is finalized. Please know that we don't plan and mistreating any child but I also don't want someone breathing down my neck telling me how to train and discipline my children for the rest of their childhood. What is the intent here? [Director said:] The intent is to limit our liability. We believe that none of our families plan to mistreat their children, just like no family plans to bail out on post-placement reports, and yet so many parents forget about their obligations once adoption is finalized.
    I'm still not comfortable with the answer here. We'll be re-visiting this one!
  17. I can't find the page # now, but it talks about any legal action will be paid for by the adoptive family. When talking to a lawyer about this contract, she suggested that it be changed so that the agency would pay for their lawyer and we'd pay for ours. How can we come to an agreement on that? We actually plan to keep this as is. Our intension is for a lawsuit to never happen. If we ever did have a lawsuit, it is my understanding our insurances would skyrocket-whether we win or loose. This is additional agency security for ALL clients.
    I'm not sure what to think of this answer... Betty, if you're reading, will you let me know you're thoughts. The same would apply for others experienced in adoption.

Foster Adoption

Although I'm confident that God has asked us to pursue international adoption, I can't help but to think often times about foster-adopting. Those kids need loved too. Maybe we'll do both and Scott just might get the two brothers and two sisters he's been requesting.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Lots of Questions

I recently sent a list of about 30 questions to our agency. Some were answered well within reason and a few were pretty vague. I think I need to call the agency directly to converse more about those questions in question. In the mean time, we're still saving money towards our adoption fund.

Monday, March 30, 2009

I Had A Dream!

I had a dream the other night that we adopted 3 kids. Not sure where that came from.

On another note, Scott used to say that he wanted two sisters. Now more recently he's been saying that he wants two sisters and two brothers.