Thursday, November 29, 2007

Coincidence? I think not!

You know, not 2 hours after posting this, I got a phone call from the state of Illinois. They insisted they could not authenticate my divorce decree since it had not been certified by the circuit court county clerk.

Oh, but it had! I knew exactly where to tell them to look.

This was obviously divine intervention because:
1) On caller ID, it showed up as "No Name." I don't normally answer calls from strangers, so it must have been God that directed me to pick up.
2) I was off work today, and was randomly available to take the call at a time when I am not normally available, even on days I'm not working!
3) I remembered exactly what page to look on and what to look for to prove the certification of the divorce decree. How often can you say that? I can barely remember what page I am on in my current book!
4) Since when does a state worker call to let you know they are very sorry but they will be unable to assist you? That never happens! And not only was this lady so kind as to call, she actually thanked me for explaining what she was overlooking!
5) She gave me a little blessing by saying it would go out FedEx tomorrow:) Yea!

Anyway, so there is another little thing:)

Isaiah 62:2

" will be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will bestow."
Isaiah 62:2

Do you know, God "gave" me a name for my new daughter before I even knew I would be adopting? I am keeping the name private until I travel, but as this process unfolds, I see more and more how her name is a promise, just like she is!

I will respect her Ethiopian heritage by using at least one of her names as a middle name (she will have at least 2 middle names.)

But God continually reminds me that while HE never changes, the whole process of following Christ is a process of us changing!

I think God likes a little change:) (Or maybe a LOT of change.)

Nothing Says Lovin' Like FedEx

I love my FedEx man. Mmm. So nice.

Today he delivered a package to me. When I saw that the return address was my own handwriting, I worried. When I read "State of Washington," I groaned.

"Oh no!" I thought to myself. "I must have mixed up the labels and sent Eryka's reference letter to myself on accident rather than to the State of WA for authentication. I only just sent it on Monday, and I sent it 3 day saver, so it definitely did not have time to get there and back yet!"

But behold. The FedEx man brought me glad tidings of great joy!

The letter had indeed traveled to Olympia, WA and back in those few short days, and it bore upon it the famed golden seal of the State of Washington! And so, I now have 2 of my documents for my dossier authenticated. (Waiting on the docs from Illinois and to take my PA docs down to Harrisburg once my home study gets fixed.)

One of the nicest things about this adoption process so far is that I have had my friends and family say such nice things about me... Eryka wrote a particularly touching letter of reference. So thank you! Thanks also to Doctor John, Josh and Moriah Huff, and my sister, Faith.

"The Most Pointless War"

Here is an interesting article from Newsweek about the rising tensions in Ethiopia and Eritrea.

In other news, the first multi-screen movie theater has opened in the capitol of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa.

And I like Starbuck coffee.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Q: How much longer?

A: I don't know.

To be honest, once I submit my papers to the Ethiopian government, pretty much everything is out of my hands. I can guess the approximate time for my referral (3 months from the time of my dossier submission) but after that, everything depends on court dates. And embassy/visa appointments (these determine travel dates.)

So, sorry kids. It could be as soon as April (being optimistic) or well into June.

A Case of the Gimmes

I want this.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Pointing Me in the Right Direction

As read on another Ethiopian adoptive parent's blog:

This is the kind of fast day I'm after:
to break the chains of injustice,
get rid of exploitation in the workplace,
free the oppressed,
cancel debts.
What I'm interested in seeing you do is:
sharing your food with the hungry,
inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
being available to your own families.
Do this and the lights will turn on,
and your lives will turn around at once.
Your righteousness will pave your way.
The God of glory will secure your passage.
Then when you pray, God will answer.
You'll call out for help and I'll say, 'Here I am.'

If you get rid of unfair practices,
quit blaming victims,
quit gossiping about other people's sins,
If you are generous with the hungry
and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out,
Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness,
your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.
I will always show you where to go.
I'll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—
firm muscles, strong bones.
You'll be like a well-watered garden,
a gurgling spring that never runs dry.
You'll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew,
rebuild the foundations from out of your past.

Isaiah 58:6-11 (The Message)

Those last two lines are amazing. So full of hope. Because, you see, God has been using my entire life- my sin, my brokenness, my imperfections, my failures, my dreams, my rebellion- to prepare me for this moment. He is going to redeem all of that past to build this new thing.



Last week, someone at work said I should be on Oprah. She meant that I was so passionate about adoption, Ethiopia, and helping and loving children that I should be on the show to inspire people. She said she admired me. She said she thought I was fearless.

But I do have fears about this process. The adoption process is not just the paper chase and the wait for the referral and traveling to Ethiopia. The adoption process is all of this, but it is so much more. It is the process that makes a child you have never met your child. That makes you, a stranger, into this child's mother. It is the process of becoming a family and creating a history together, while still respecting the individual history of the time before.

And this is one of my fears.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


I knew there would be a few snags along the way. And on Wednesday I hit my first one.

Because of the differences in requirements from my home study agency and my placing agency, my home study social worker did not have the necessary number of personal references to complete my home study. Additionally, because of the holiday, my placing agency was not available to review my home study. So, two minor snags resulting in a short delay in my home study.

But it all worked out:) I called the director of Abigail's day care/school, and she whipped up a quick reference letter by Wednesday afternoon. And yesterday I received another reference letter in the mail, so now I have more than enough references for both my HS agency and my placing agency. Hopefully I will have a notarized copy of my HS by the end of the week since I plan on taking everything to Harrisburg to get it authenticated on Thursday.

Then, a copy of the HS to USCIS, and soon an I171H!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Little Dictionary

Can I just brag on Abigail a little bit?

Yesterday, during our home study, Megan asked Abigail what adoption meant, and Abigail said, "adoption is when the baby is in a momma's tummy, but when the baby is born, the momma can't take care of her or buy her food or clothes. So the momma gives the baby to a new family. And God makes them a family and they love each other forever."

And then she went on to explain that since we are adopting a child she gets a new dresser and will get bunkbeds.

I just thought that was so sweet!

Also, relatedly, at school, Abigail's teacher has been doing "meditation." When the kids get worked up, she sends them to a quiet place and they sit there and "get rid of their negative energy" and "think about happy things to get some positive energy." Kind of new age, I know. So I told Abigail that when she was getting rid of all her negative energy, she can focus on how much God loves her and how much her family loves her to help her get "positive energy." And she can pray that God will help her have a good attitude.

So, the other day she was talking about how her friend hurt her feelings, so she had to go to the quiet place and "get rid of her negative energy." And I asked her what she was thinking about to get "positive energy."

And she said "my new shiny dresser."

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Done Like a Turkey on Thanksgiving Day!

Yes, folks, my home study is done! I should have it before Thanksgiving, too!

It was really NOT a big deal, and I am glad I did not go overboard with the cleaning. We sat at my dining room table and went over a bunch of paperwork and questions. Then a quick tour of the house.

Abigail was her usual great self, and the HS lady was very impressed by her. And of course she was looking adorable. I do think Megan was a little taken aback by the streamers and cupcakes, but I explained that they were for the party, and then she got excited:)

(I will post pics of the party on my other blog.)

So, that's it- the last "big" thing on my end. Now I just sit back and wait for my I171H.

Friday, November 16, 2007


I'm surprised by how many people immediately link me to Angelina Jolie when I mention that I am in the process of adopting from Ethiopia. It doesn't offend me or anything, especially since I think that is really the only frame of reference most people have for international adoption, specifically from Ethiopia. It does kind of annoy me though, because AJ and I are, of course, very different people, and I don't think it is fair to extend her reasons and motivations for adopting to me, or mine to her. Oh well, it is what it is.

Recently, allegations were made in Ethiopia from the birth family of AJ's adopted Ethiopia daughter, Zahara. Basically, a woman claimed to be Zahara's birth mother and stated that she never legally relinquished the baby. Zahara was relinquished in 2005 by her grandmother who testified in court and presented 3 witnesses who claimed the birth mother was dead and the biological father was unknown. AJ adopted the baby when she was 7 months old. The Wide Horizon's adoption agency, a well-known and established agency in Ethiopia, has backed AJ and states that the adoption was perfectly legal in all respects according to Reuters. They report that someone had paid the Ethiopian people to make the complaints.

This really irked me. What this comes down to is a child. People out there, for reasons unknown, are willing to rip apart the life of this little child- they give no thought to her. I don't personally know AJ or Zahara, but it seems evident that they love and care about each other and their whole family. And someone was willing to tear that child out of the family and home that she knows just to make some trouble or get their 15 minutes of fame? Why?

Why is our society so willing to punish children like that?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Down with the HS

My Home Study is Saturday morning, so between now and then I have a few things to do:
~Tidy up the house
~Clean bathrooms and kitchen
~Vacuum and wash the kitchen floor
(I am not going crazy with the cleaning, just doing what I would normally do to have people over)
~Review paperwork and make sure everything is in order
~Make copies of a few things
~Figure out how to address the "male role model" issue

BUT, because Abigail's b-day party is Saturday afternoon, I also have a few other things to do:
~Make cupcakes
~Re-do the party favors (a few more kids RSVPed so now I have to redistribute the loot.)
~Fill balloons and hang streamers
~Figure out what furniture to move to make room for 9 girls ages 3-6
~Finish the laundry so that Abigail has her "favorite" stuff to wear
~Decide, and make, whatever I am making for dinner for the grown-up "helpers" (John's mom is making chili- what else should I have besides cornbread?)
~Make a playlist of princess songs
~Put away breakable things

So, that is where things stand with the HS. I am not really worried or worked up about it, but I do hope we have nice weather. And that someone will pick up the balloons for me.

Any advice- about the HS or the party?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Encouraging Words

As emailed by another PAP:

"The Will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you!"

Reading Recommendations

A few weeks ago I finished the book "There is No Me Without You" by Melissa Fay Greene. I was not going to say anything, but this story has stuck with me so much that I feel I need to say something.

I highly recommend the book for anyone who would like to learn more about the orphan epidemic in Ethiopia, and the roles that HIV/AIDS and poverty play in creating orphaned and abandoned children. The facts are rolled into a story that winds across 20 years and shows the mighty hand of God Himself in caring for these beautiful children who are so in need of the basic necessities of life: food, water, shelter, and also in need of love.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

2 Degrees of Separation*

Okay, it was cool before, but this morning, it was just plain cold! When I woke up, it was 59-60 degrees in the house. Don't know what happened to the heater- it just never turned on!

Now, I am about to get personal here... it was so cold in my room (probably about 56-58, given how much cooler my bedroom usually is) that I decided I would rather wait and go to the bathroom at work! I was not going to freeze my hiney!

Thankfully, the heat seemed to remember that it was supposed to come on, so I didn't have to call maintenance. But still.

Ah well, think of all the money I saved! Several dollars (and one very full bladder) closer to my daughter!

For a similar story about turning on the heat, click here.

*Get it? There were 2 degrees of separation between cool and cold? Get it? Man, just tell me to stop making bad jokes!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


A word about patience I saw on another adoption blog...

"For it is not yet time for it to come true. The time is coming in a hurry, and it will come true. If you think it is slow in coming, wait for it. For it will happen for sure, and it will not wait."

Habakkuk 2:3
New Life Version


I woke up this morning and it was a balmy 62 degrees in my room.

I have actively been working to save money for this adoption. Since acquiring money is not always easy (especially since I can't really work overtime and go to school at the same time) I have focused on reducing my spending. This has included things like eating out less, brown-bagging it for lunch, cutting out afternoon Starbucks runs at work, engaging in cheap or free family activities, and looking for ways to reduce my bills.

One of the things I have decided to do is keep my house a little cooler. I have the heat set to come on at 65, and to be honest, between cooking, doing laundry, and conserving the existing heat, I don't think my heat has yet come on except maybe once or twice overnight. In fact, it is usually about 70-74 degrees in my house, except for first thing in the morning when it is about 68.

So why was it 62 in my bedroom this morning? Well, I keep my bedroom door closed all the time to keep Lily (the cat) out. Combined with my bedroom being on the outside corner of my building, my room always cooler than the rest of the house. This is much more noticeable in the cooler months. Also, since I have my door closed, I keep a small fan going to keep the air circulating. I also have "blackout" curtains up from my night-shift days, so I don't get the benefit of the warming sunshine during the day. So it is just cooler in there. The rest of the house was 70 when I checked the thermostat, but my room was 62.

Don't worry. I am totally coping with this well. Flannel jammies, flannel sheets, a blanket, a big down comforter, and some nice fleece socks keep me warm at night. I also have my $4.88 pink fuzzy slippers from Walmart to keep my feet warm! And a zip-up fleece hoodie if I am still cold. And besides, it's amazing how telling myself that "each night I go to bed bundled up is one night closer to bringing my daughter home" can warm me:)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Reason #7- Arms of Love

Arms of Love

Sunday, November 4, 2007


Today we had a wonderful message about being homesick. You can listen to it by clicking here and then clicking on "online" next to the November 4 sermon- Homesick.

When Abigail was visiting her dad over the summer, she was gone for 6 weeks. I was homesick for her. Even though I was in my house, my "home" is really defined by being with my family- with Abigail. When she returned, I finally felt like I was "home."

And now I am homesick for my new daughter. I want her here with me- to be with her family and to know the comfort of love. To be in her "forever home."

And that ache in my heart is reminding me, over and over, how God is homesick for us. He created us to be with Him- to be in constant intimacy with Him. But because of sin, we are separated from Him. He is in our "forever home" waiting for us to be reunited with Him. He desires us- He longs for us the way I long to be with my daughter. He is homesick to be with us. How amazing is that?

80% live on < $2/day

Here is a report that appeared in the Economist about the current economic situation in Ethiopia. Pretty shocking stuff.

Reason #6- 1 John 3:18

"Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth."

Reason #5- Let Love In

You wait, wanting this world
To let you in
And you stand there
A frozen light
In dark and empty streets
You smile hiding behind
A God-given face
But I know you're so much more
Everything they ignore
Is all that I need to see

Friday, November 2, 2007

Cooling Off and Getting Cooler

This week the leaves have burst into shades of yellow, orange, red, and purple that can't even be captured by words like Merlot, sienna, eggplant, and saffron. Every walk from the house to the car is accompanied by the sound of crunching leaves, and occasionally by the whisk, whisk of corduroy. The days are brisk; the hours between dusk and dawn snap at my skin. It is autumn in all it's glory, and I welcome the cool days. Once a fan only of summer, I find that growing up has helped me appreciate the passage of time. I love to see how the year changes, and the changes the year brings.

Some of those changes are really quite cool, and here is a little list to perk up your Friday afternoon:
~ Yesterday my FBI clearance packet arrived in my mailbox (no arrest record.) This was sent October 20, and I got my clearance on November 1. That is quite possibly the fastest turnaround time ever! (This is not the USCIS document but rather a "background check" performed by the FBI.)
~ Last week my company awarded the employees with a bonus based on hospital performance- 1% of my income from the past year (or something like that.)
~ I thought I had drained my Dependent Care Flex Reimbursement Account, but I actually had quite a bit of money in there!
~ The bonus combined with the Flex Account money equals out to the amount I needed for my home study and post-placement fees!
~ Today I was talking to my chiropractor and she has a friend from church who is an Ethiopian native! She actually was a Freedom Fighter before getting married and settling in the US. My chiropractor is going to give her friend my "business card" and hook us up! Maybe I can get some Ethiopian cooking lessons? :)
~ Abigail continues to bless me with her excitement and enthusiasm for her new little sister. The other day we were going through her dress up clothes in anticipation of getting the new dresser. She sorted out a pile of things that no longer fit, then turned to me and said "Wait Momma! Don't put the for garage sale! I want to save them and give them to my new little sister so that she can dress up, too!" Another discussion in the bathroom:
Me: What if your new sister wears diapers and goes poo-poo and pee-pee in her diapers?
Abigail: I will teach her how to go potty on the potty!
Me: You will? What if it's stinky?
A: I will wipe her butt! I will get her a little potty like this (indicates a small training potty) and show her how to sit on it! And then, when I go potty, she can sit on her little potty. And then I will wipe her butt and we will flush her poops down the toilet! And then she can have grown-up panties like me!
I would love to see that happen:) She also continues to pray for her new little sister each night. The other night she prayed that she could tell her new little sister about Jesus so that Jesus could live in her heart and make her heart happy. I nearly shed a tear of joy! I am excited about the love Abigail has for her sister, but perhaps more so, I am excited about the love Abigail has for Jesus- a love so great she wants to tell others so that they can be "happy in their heart."

Before and After

All the hardware and everything is the same! Can you believe it? I am so excited to fill it with stuff for my girls:)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

On Parenting...

"People with kids often tell people who don’t have kids this thing about how when it’s your own kid, there’s this feeling, and you can’t explain it, it’s just different. Doesn’t matter if your kid is biological or adopted, it’s your kid and the instinct you have concerning them is primal. You see them and the feeling you have inside you reaches to the very center of your gut. All of that crap is so true, no really, it is, and it feels distinctly like that sickness you feel in your stomach after eating an entire bucket of candy."

Heather Armstrong