Monday, November 24, 2008

Medical Reports and Court Delays

It has been an eventful Monday. Well, eventful for a family waiting on an adoption. This morning, I was emailed the latest medical report for G. Apparently, as soon as our completed dossier arrived at our adoption agency, they order a more detailed round of medical testing. I was emailed the results and then urged to take these to my pediatrician for review.

While I have scheduled an appointment, being a doctor's daughter, I decided I could decipher these blood work results on my own - ha! I did notice several things are out of the normal range, which are now causing some concern. G did prove negative (again) for HIV and Hep. B, which we are very thankful for. G appears to be anemic, which is not a surprise to me, nor much of a concern. I am hopeful that a few months of a healthy western diet full of meat and veggies will cure this. I am a little worried about one particular score, but am going to wait until I talk to my pediatrician before I let my mind wander too far.

On the other front, we have found out there is a delay in court in Ethiopia. There are only two people working for the Ministry of Women's Affairs who process the adoption requests. One of those two, just went on maternity leave and Ethiopia is not replacing her. So, it looks like our dreams of getting a court date quickly are a little unrealistic. We may be looking at a much longer wait. This is a bit discouraging.

I wonder what G is thinking. He has been videotaped, he has been sent for further medical testing, and they are preparing to move him to Addis. They have not told him about us, but I wonder if he is putting 2 and 2 together?

On a fun note - on G's medical report the doctor noted that G is a very bright boy! Oh, and the doctor wrote that he is 7 years old. I am starting to believe that the key to adopting internationally is the ability to be flexible.

If you are praying with us, keep it up. Despite the set back of knowing there is only one person scheduling court dates, I believe that this entire process is in God's hands and if He wants it to move quickly, it will.

So, we are starting to think about getting immunizations for our trip to Africa and getting the boys room set up. One sounds fun...the other, well, not so much.

Friday, November 21, 2008

We Have a New Social Worker

We have officially moved to a new phase in our adoption. We had a wonderful social worker from CWA who's single purpose was to assist with all the paperwork. She answered dozens of questions, encouraged me and seemed to know just when to send an email to keep me going.

Now, we have just been told we are getting a new social worker. This woman's focus in travel!!! Yipee! We will be talking on the phone on Tuesday and I can't wait to "meet" her. She read our dossier before it was flown to Ethiopia and so she knows a bit about us already.

Prayer request: pray that the I -171H form comes quickly!!! The dossier will not be sent to the courts in Ethiopia until this form is filed. The fingerprinting triggers this form, so now we are simply waiting. This is our hold-up right now, so we could really use that form to get to our house asap. Thank you, prayer warriors!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Discerning If We Should Ask for Help

Joe and I laid in bed and talked for hours the other night about one thing; should we ask for financial help. Some people have approached us and accused us of being prideful because we are not like "all the rest" who send out letters asking for support.

First of all, I don't think "all the rest" ask for help.

Beside that, we feel that God called us to this task. So far, He has provided. Does asking for help mean that we are no longer trusting in His provision?

Or, does asking for help give the great body known as the church the opportunity to serve one another?

We don't know the answer to that question. But, we did decide to not ask for help. Trusting the Lord is difficult business, sometimes.

We will continue to wait upon Him to meet our needs. Maybe we are learning what that really means - what constitutes a need. I think we have many wants that we disguise as needs simply based upon where we live. I look around and I could easily say, "My kids need another pair of shoes." Yet, in Africa, a child would be "rich" for owning A pair of shoes.

I am learning huge lessons through this adoption. I can only imagine how I will continue to be molded, pruned and sculpted as the years go by with our adopted son and our biological children! I am thankful to serve a God who cares enough about my character that He works at it constantly.

Trusting we will find a way to get to Ethiopia - both of us.

We Made it Through Washington, DC

I got the call yesterday, late morning. We made it through the US State Department and the Ethiopian Embassy in two working days. Did you hear that? Two working days to get through two government agencies!

God it so good!

Now, our "dossier with wings" is flying to Ethiopia! Start praying for a court date in 2008!! Why not shoot big? So far, God has blown open the doors, so I now starting to believe that we should pray for big things to happen!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Oh, If OnLy Our Kids Started Their Days Like This


School House Rocks 2 from For His Name on Vimeo.

Orphans from Lindsay Stahl on Vimeo.

Consider the Lillies

Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. Set God-sized goals. Pursue God-ordained passions. Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention. Keep asking questions. Keep making mistakes. Keep seeking God. Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution. Stop repeating the past and start creating the future. Stop playing it safe and start taking risks. Expand your horizons. Accumulate experiences. Consider the lilies. Enjoy the journey. Find every excuse you can to celebrate everything you can. Live like today is the first day and last day of your life. Don't let what's wrong with you keep you from worshiping what's right with God. Burn sinful bridges. Blaze a new trail. Criticize by creating. Worry less about what people think and more about what God thinks. Don't try to be who you're not. Be yourself. Laugh at yourself. Quit holding out. Quit holding back. Quit running away. Chase the lion!

from "In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day."

What You Can Do For Orphans

1. Plead with the Father for them.

  • Pray while waiting. Go online to find a listing of children who are waiting for a home (www.adoptuskids.org or www.rainbowkids.com). Print out a picture and description of a child and tape it to your dashboard. Every time you find yourself waiting—in traffic, at a stoplight, in the drive-through—pray for this child. Plead with the Father on his or her behalf.
  • Pray as a family. Cut and paste a picture of a child who needs a home to make bookmarks for your entire family. Commit as a family to pray for this child every time you open your book.
  • Pray as a church. Organize an evening prayer vigil on behalf of orphans and waiting children. Invite other churches to join you as well. You can pray for children all over the world or you can ask your local foster care office for pictures and names of children in your city to pray for.

2. Speak up for them.

  • In your wallet or purse, keep a picture of a child who needs a home. When you are visiting with other believers, pull out the picture and ask if they, or someone they know, would give this child a home.
  • Become a Court Appointed Special Advocate. These are people from all walks of life who volunteer their time to get to know children in foster care and speak to the court on their behalf. Visit www.nationalcasa.org for more details and to find an office near you.

3. Give them what they need.

  • Give an orphanage a washing machine, a crib, or a package of diapers. You can designate financial gifts to be used for an item of your choice to be given to an orphanage in the country of your choice. To learn more visit www.helporphans.org and click on the “Gift from the Heart” link in the slide show at the top of the page.
  • Organize a drive to collect school supplies or shoes in your church or Sunday school department. To learn more visit www.gainusa.org (click on “Projects”) or www.shoesfororphansouls.org.

4. Support those who support them.

  • Mow the lawn of a foster family, offer to babysit, or organize a few days worth of meals when a new child is placed in their home. And make sure you tell them often that you appreciate what they do.
  • Throw a shower for a family adopting an older child. Often showers aren’t thought of for adoptive families, especially when the adoption involves an older child. This will serve as a great encouragement to any adoptive family.
  • Sponsor a local child welfare social worker. Commit to praying for him or her and send gifts or notes of encouragement.

5. Provide them a safe place.

  • Consider becoming a foster parent or emergency foster parent (for short-term placements). Attend an inquiry meeting at your local foster care office to learn more.
  • Build an orphanage—it’s not as hard as it sounds. Visit www.worldorphans.org to learn how a gift of $4,000-8,000 can cover the building costs of a new orphanage in one of dozens of countries. These homes are built in conjunction with a local church. Consider raising this money as a small group, Sunday school class, or youth ministry.

6. Go visit them.

Go on a mission trip to an orphanage. You can go on a construction trip, a medical trip, or a trip to help conduct vacation Bible school. Taking your family on an orphanage mission trip can be life changing. Visit the following websites for more information:

www.gainusa.org

www.helporphans.org

www.hopechest.org

7. Give sacrificially to them.

  • Support reputable orphan care organizations on an ongoing basis.
  • Give financially to a family in the process of adoption. See www.shaohannahshope.com and www.lifeintl.org for more information about financial assistance for adoptive families.

8. Cheer them on

  • Sponsor a child. This includes both monthly financial support and a ministry of ongoing encouragement through letter writing. Visit www.hopechest.org or www.visiontrust.org for more information.
  • Over 20,000 teenagers a year “age out” of the U.S. foster care system with no place to call home. Call your local foster care office and let them know you have the desire to be a support for a child who is aging out of foster care.

9. Give them a forever family

You can give a child a home through international, domestic, or foster care adoption. To learn more about these three types of adoption call 1-800-FLTODAY to order a free booklet entitled Welcome Home: Eight Steps to Adoption. You can also download this resource, explore other information, and identify key adoption agencies at www.HopeForOrphans.com.

10. Mobilize your church for them.

Churches all over the country are making the decision to launch ministries expressly dedicated to the orphan and waiting child. The impact has been remarkable. To learn more about how you can be the catalyst in your church for a sustained orphans ministry, visit www.shaohannahshope.org or www.HopeForOrphans.com.

God is not looking to you to solve the problem. You are only to be faithful to do what He is asking you do. These ten things represent steps of faithfulness ... some small, some big. But whatever you do, remember this promise in His Word:

And if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness and your gloom will become like midday. And the Lord will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and give strength to your bones; and you will be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail. Isaiah 58:10-11

This Week's Update

I have closed a chapter in this book called Adoption. On Wednesday, I carried my dossier into the Fed Ex office. The dossier that I have spent countless hours working on, the dossier I have cried over, the dossier I have poured my life into the past 60 days. I carried this work in a green folder knowing this would be our last moment together.

I am trying to be over dramatic here, but it truly was a defining moment in this process. Sending the dossier off in the Fed Ex envelope means I no longer have anything to do. I have accomplished all I was asked to do and now I enter the waiting game. For a control freak, that is a very scary moment. I am now trusting Fed Ex to get it to Washington, DC in one piece (which it already has - I checked :)). I am trusting the woman I hired as my courier to hand deliver it to both the US State Department and the Embassy of Ethiopia. I am then trusting her to get it back into the hands of Fed Ex to send it to my adoption agency. I am again trusting Fed Ex to get it there in one piece. Then, I am trusting the adoption agency gets it to Ethiopia. Then trusting the courts in Ethiopia..oh, and trusting the G's mom will indeed show up in court and relinquish all her rights.

Ultimately, I know I am not trusting in any of these things, but that my trust is placed in a much higher source - the Lord, our God, who sits enthroned about the circle of the Earth. So far, He has opened every door and caused the process to move at lightening speed. I am confident that he continues to hold this adoption (and the paperwork) in His hands.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Dossier Joy!

I have to laugh when I look back at my October posts and see my dossier panic attack :) Thanks to wonderful advice, I tackled each document one at a time. Last Friday I sent copies of my dossier to my adoption agency, CWA, for review. Yesterday, I got the email I was waiting for. It read, "Congratulations! Your dossier looks perfect."

The next step is waiting for a form that comes from CWA that I add to my dossier. My case worker promised to over-night it. After I add it to the pile, the dossier flies to Washington, DC. I will hire a courier service to hand deliver it (highly recommended) to the correct government agency. After the US government authenticates our dossier, they take it over the the Ethiopian embassy for the Ethiopian authentication and translation.

Once that is done, the dossier is flown to Addis Ababba, Ethiopia!

Please join us in praying that the dossier arrives to all it's locations intact.

Please join us in praying that the authentication process goes smoothly and quickly.

Please join us in praying that the dossier gets translated quickly and accurately.

Please join us in praying that the judges set a court date before the end of the year.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I've Heard Him!

We received a DVD yesterday from our adoption agency of our son - and I noticed another way to spell his name! We are sure what we will name him, but we still go back and forth about the official name on his birth certificate for the United States.

I was in the middle of Bible study at my house when I saw the postal worker drop off an envelope that I just new had the DVD in it. I waited and waited and as soon as Bible study was over, I pounced on it. The kids were hungry, so lunch came first. But I grabbed my wrap and went down the the living room where our DVD player is. After popping in the video, I realized it was pointless to have brought my food down - I was no longer interested in eating.

The video opens with a song being sung in Amheric (I am guessing) and spans of the orphanage and surrounding countryside. From the orphanage, you can see majestic mountains! The orphanage is painted blue and while and looks very clean. The camera goes through each room and I see a kitchen, a dining area and many bedrooms. In the infant room, there is a tiny baby lying on a changing table - all alone.

We move into the bedroom for the older kids and there are 10 bunk beds crammed into a small room. Obviously all that is done in that room is sleep, there simply is no more room for anything else. Again, it is clean and simple.

Suddenly the screen is filled with his face - smiling from ear to ear. Isabel noticed he is always wearing this simple string necklace and I wonder if it is from his mother. The frame freezes and his vital stats stream across the screen. Then, we are in a room where he is standing and leading some other children in flash cards. I hear his voice!

"A. A for apple," and the kids shout very exuberantly "A. A for apple!"

"B. B for ball." Again, he kids echo.

"C. C for carrot." Yet, I notice the card does not have a carrot on it, instead it is green celery. We'll have to work on that one when he gets home.

He goes on until "G. G for giraffe, " with the enthusiastic children answering in their sing-song way.

I simple was breathless. Suddenly he became so real, with a voice that sounds so beautiful.

The video goes on to show him dribbling a ball - Lincoln gets so upset here because it happens to be a soccer ball and not a basket ball! I immediately think this is perfect - a buddy to play ball with Lincoln.

Next comes some quiet play with Legos - and let me tell you, that boy is serious about his Legos. Again, a huge blessing considering Harry is never far from his Lego sets.

We watch several children cram around a small dinner table and pray before they are handed a small bowl of what looks like macaroni and cheese. Our son looks up into the camera and smiles. We have been told he loves food.

Finally, we see him in his bed. What makes me a little sad is no sheet and no blanket.

Overall, our son looks happy! Honestly, he looks like any other 6 year old boy should look. He looks healthy and he is learning English.

Isabel watched with me and summed it up perfectly. "Why can't we just go get him now?"

Monday, November 3, 2008

We Keep Moving Along

It is time for a general update. When I look back, it astonishes me that we made this decision on August 10th, and we have done so much in such a short period of time. Remind me of that when I begin to get impatient again - like I am sure to do.

This past week was a big one for us. In this week, we were able to get our home study reviewed by our adoption agency, and then pick up our signed, notarized copies of the home study and other various documents.

On Friday, I loaded the kids into the mini-van and pointed the car west - toward Madison. The day was beautiful, those fall days of clear blue skies and lots of sunshine, the fall colors are still hanging on to the trees and it was warm. I had everything I needed; every document had been signed and notarized. Every document was in the precise order and matched up with the cover letter. We popped in a CD and sang songs all the way to the capital. We even found parking right away!

After grabbing a bag of popcorn for the kids to much on, we found the building that housed the Secretary of State and headed to the 10th floor. It was a relatively small office, across the street from the capital building. This office had an amazing view of the lake (?) that is right in the middle of Madison from one bank of windows, and the other set of windows graced the view of the capital from 10 floors up in the sky. I was enjoying those two views, the kids were sitting quietly (!!!!!) eating their popcorn and looking at books when I noticed the official looking over my documents was stuck on the first page.

The pit hit my stomach then. I knew something was wrong.

"Well, your notary on this cover page did not write her statement."

"Statement? What does that mean?"

She slid a piece of purple paper my way with several examples of these mystery statements. "Every notary should know they need to write a statement. How many documents did this particular notary do?" She began to leaf through my huge dossier and noticed that this notary had not written her statement on more than half of my documents.

I was sunk.

"You need to go back to Milwaukee and have her fix these."

The tears began to well up in my eyes. I was NOT going to cry; I refused. I would stay in control and find out everything I needed to get this done correctly. At this point I was already preparing the talk to the kids about our need to miss trick or treating because Mommy would need to go back to Milwaukee and then back to Madison today. But, I noticed that this woman was still hanging on to my dossier; I wondered why.

Quietly, I grabbed my cell phone from my purse and called Joe and asked him if our notary was in the office. She was, so I told him to tell her I would be driving straight there and I needed her to fix these notaries. I think the woman heard me making my plans and as she looked at my tear filled eyes, my four children sitting angelically (!!!!) at the table, the sun shining and the birds chirping outside....well, you get the picture. She chose mercy.

"Listen. I will authenticate these. But you have to promise to go straight to your notary and have these fixed."

"Thank you! Thank you! I promise! Believe me, there is nothing more important right now."

So, she took my dossier and attached this very pretty, official looking piece of paper (purple, again) with a gorgeous gold seal that said everything in this dossier is true and accurate according to the state of Wisconsin.

It was then that I noticed the bulletin board by the door. Covering the board were letters of thanks accompanied with pictures of hundreds of internationally adopted children. This office obviously has been putting orphaned children first for many, many years. I paused to read some of the letters, and time and time again, this office has show mercy on families who needed something done right away, or needed to change a date or a name, or when a family needed to update the child's information.

I couldn't help but call out to God as we got back into our mini-van with praise and adoration. God showed me in that one illustration of grace and mercy how much HE is in this! I had been bemoaning the policy in Wisconsin that said the Secretary of State needed to see the entire dossier - most other states only verify the cover letter. I was irritated that I was going to have to drive my precious dossier to Madison just to have someone I didn't know put some fancy seal on my paperwork. But, this was all in God's plan! If I only had to send in my cover letter, dozens of other documents would have been done wrong! God made sure I had each and every document reviewed by the state in order to make sure it was all done correctly. God also gave me a glimpse of His mercy when I did not get what I deserved. I deserved to go back to Milwaukee and get all these done correctly. I deserved to be turned away. But, there was mercy, and I was given much more than I deserved.

Before we left Madison, I had to take the kids into the capital. We plopped ourselves right under the rotunda and stared at the impressive artwork that surrounded us. It is simply breathtaking. Most of us understood what had just happened. The two older kids were amazed and thankful, as well. It was in this spirit that we looked at this beautiful display. Memories of our fight in Madison earlier this year to save our school also came flooding back. Quietly, the kids talked about that day in January, how we met so many people and made a difference in our state. Again, God was proving to us how much He is involved in our lives. He does always provide.

The rest of the afternoon was a blur; racing back to Joe's work to get our notary to fix all the missing statements (for the record, she felt horrible and had offered to drive to Madison to meet me. I don't think she will forget her statement ever again!), then off to Kinkos to make multiple copies and send two sets to my adoption agency. They are supposed to get it this morning!

On Saturday, we were surprised with yet another glimpse of the power of God in this process. We had to submit our home study to the INS. That was done 2 weeks ago. The INS then schedules fingerprinting that is analyzed by the FBI. The fingerprinting schedule usually takes 2 months (we were told). We got our letter telling us our scheduled day for fingerprinting on Saturday! 2 weeks! We get fingerprinted next week and then wait for the all-important 171 form that says we are cleared through the US government.

If anyone has doubted whether or not this is God's will, I hope they take the time to see how much God has been moving. We prayed over and over again that if this was God's will that He would either close doors or He would open doors. Very simple. Look at all the doors that continue to fly open!

When I think of bringing George home, my heart leaps! The kids are also starting to get excited as we begin to think about the big question that looms on the horizon - who will watch our kids when we go to Ethiopia??? Please join me in praying for that. We are a little stressed about this and need the Lord's guidance and provision. But, I do take comfort in knowing that He will make a way, as He has every step of the way thus far.

I love the LORD!!