Saturday, March 29, 2008

Why I Love My Agency

This is what I got in the mail today from my caseworker, Jessica. I love knowing that they understand how hard the wait can be, and yet they value their ethical commitments so much that despite the difficulty of the wait, they are unapologetic about it.
God bless the caseworkers of the world, especially Jessica who is so patient with my (sometimes silly and random) questions.


Abe Rooney is one of the major reasons I am finding it difficult to finish this semester.

Other reasons are Elsa, Selah, and my baby.

Distractions, distractions.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Kids and Moms (and Dads)

By Erin H.

I have been thinking a lot about kids lately... kids who don't have moms (and dads)... kids waiting for moms, and what life is like for kids who do not have parents. I have been thinking about the transformation that occurs when a child realizes he has a mom, a dad, a, love and somewhere to belong.

With some of our kids, that "realization" that they have a Mom and a family, that they have someone to belong to, someone to watch over them, someone to care for them and someone to love them, has been gradual. With some of our kids, there has been this "a ha!" moment, where you could just see that they "got it".

There was baby Maggie... almost four months old... laying on the bed in our hotel in Vietnam on our first full day together (I had been visiting her for days at the hospital before this point). Before her hospitalization she had lived in a government orphanage where the babies had their names written on their legs in black magic marker so they could be told apart, and got very very little personal attention. She didn't cry when she was hungry or when she wanted something. She was quiet and tiny, but I could tell she loved being held and loved the attention I was giving her.

I walked away from the bed where she was laying to get a bottle for her, and she made this teeny tiny pitiful (feeble attempt at a) cry, and I rushed over and picked her up and offered her the bottle. She got this look of amazement on her face with a little smile that seemed to say, "Holy cow! You mean that crying thing WORKS with you??" and after that she did not want anyone but me and always wanted me close. She got it. I was there for her. I was her mom.

With Mercy, she was nine years old. She had had a mom before, who did not value or respect her role as a mom. Mercy knew neglect and abuse and loss. Despite that, she came to us with an open heart and a surprising amount of trust. At one point during our first week, Des needed her hair washed (and Mercy had been the one to care for Des up until that point, even though she was only three years older). Mercy told Des to go into the bathroom so she could wash her hair, and I gently told Mercy that I could wash Des's hair, and reminded her that that was the kind of thing a Mom should do. The social worker had warned us that "letting go" of being the caregiver of Des might be hard for Mercy and we might have some power struggles over it... but Mercy looked at me and looked at Des and looked back at me and said, "You wash all the other little kids... You would wash Des's hair too?" and I said, "Yes". And she said, "And then what would I do?" and I said, "Well, you could go play." And she looked at Des again and then back at me, and then she got this huge smile on her face, and you could almost SEE her letting go of the responsibility of caring for her little sister. She ran over and gave me a hug, and then took off to play. She got it. I was there for her and for her sister. I was their mom.

With Solomon, that moment came when we left AHOPE for the second time together. We had spent two days together, and then we had gone back to AHOPE to visit. As we walked through the gate and the kids called out his name and came running to say hi to him, he sat in my arms with huge, silent tears running down his cheeks. He would not make eye contact with anyone (including me, the kids and the nannies) and just stared ahead with this heartbreaking acceptance of the fact that he thought he was being left. Again. It hurt me so much that he had come to accept this from life... that nice people came and went, but he did not truly belong to any of them. I couldn't imagine how his little heart felt and how he had endured all that he had already. I comforted him and held him close and told him over and over again in his ear that I would never, never, never leave him.

He started to relax a little the longer we were there and I stayed with him, but he was not his usual self. And then it happened. I put him in the sling, we waved good-bye, went back out through the gate and headed back up the road towards the hotel for some lunch. He got this HUGE grin on his face, and was bouncing up and down in the sling laughing, and then grabbing my face and kissing it over and over as we walked. He was so happy and joyful. He got it. He was not going to be left again. I was HIS. He was mine. I was his Mom.

Since then I have watched him blossom with love. I have watched him learn how to expect and look forward to being held often, comforted when he cries, rocked to sleep, having his needs met, getting individual attention and being smothered in hugs and kisses often. As I crawled into bed last night, a few hours after I had put him down to sleep, his little body turned towards me, and without waking up, he put his arm on me, snuggled in close and let out a content sigh.
All kids deserve that knowledge, that peace and that comfort. All kids deserve to know that they are loved and that they belong to someone.

I believe with all my heart that our Heavenly Father did not send us down here to go at life alone, to worry about ourselves and to focus our lives on material and trivial things. I believe with all my heart that we are meant to live in families... mothers, fathers and children together, focusing our lives on loving, enjoying and serving each other.

We have several reasons to believe that Solomon most likely spent very little (if any) time with his first mother. And yet even after multiple changes in caregivers and "homes", multiple losses and lots of suffering without a mom to comfort him, he KNEW what a Mom was for from our very first days together. His heart and soul reached out to mine and grabbed on firmly. He knew that he wanted a mom. He knew that hugs, kisses and rock-a-byes were something he wanted, deserved and needed. The other kids we met in Ethiopia knew it too. They knew that they belonged with parents. They knew that something big was missing from their lives.

My heart rejoices for my kids and others that have had their lives changed so drastically...who were once alone, and now live with love, security and family. Watching Solomon over the past few weeks has reminded me of what an incredible miracle adoption is.

And at the same time, my heart aches for the so very many kids who are living life alone right now. . Even the very best orphanage is no comparison to a home and family. It is wrong that these kids must wait and yearn for a family. They deserve, as all children do, the peace and security that comes with the knowledge of knowing that they belong to someone, that they are being cared for and that they are loved.

This is why I support adoption...because I have seen the sadness in the eyes of the children who wait for moms, I have seen the amazing transformation in children once they have been "claimed" and loved, and because I believe, with all my heart, that that love and belonging is what our lives on this Earth are supposed to be about.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Sit? Stand? Both?

Okay, so a few weeks ago I was so excited to tell you about my Sit-N-Stand stroller. Some of you don't know what this is and why it is ROCKSOME! So I thought I would enlighten you.

The basic concept of the SNS stroller is that it is a "regular" stroller for your baby/toddler, but also allows bigger kids a way to ride along. It's not as bulky as a double stroller, and makes it easy for big kids to alternate between walking, sitting, and standing while riding.

Most of the time, big kids will want to walk. But, big kids do get tired and need a rest, so they can chill on the bench, have a drink of water, and talk to Momma. But they also want to see the world! So, even if they are too tired to walk (or it is to crowded/unsafe to let them walk) they can stand and see everything!

When you are 2 kids of different ages, especially when both are young, this is a great solution. When I was a mother's helper, we used a SNS stroller in Disney world for the kids (age 3 and 6.) I can't wait to use this with my girls:)

**Also, these pics are off the One Step Ahead site. Love the transracial family:)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Week 10

Ah, 10 weeks. Double digits. See that lock in that picture? Imagine that it is the "referral lock." Maybe this week will unlock it? We'll see!

Time has been flying by like Harry on his Firebolt (I heart HP!). This week's highlights:

*More donations from church! Wow! Thanks CCC!
*Put together the toy box for the girl's room. It rocks, and looks so good!
*Bought more stuff for the trip. Abigail has outgrown her crocs from last year, so I picked up some of those, as well as some beading things and markers/coloring books. This week's travel prep will include figuring out how to put one my "Chronicles of Narnia" Books on CD onto my MP3 player for loads of listening pleasure for both Abigail and I on the airplane!
*Received an award.

Okay kids, I better get back to work. Good luck to all the families whose court dates were rescheduled from today to tomorrow. I'll be praying that I can add something to your "Passed Court" column.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Special Agent Kirk, At Your Service

So, you know that the FBI is cool. And you know that I am cool. But did you have any idea that I am this cool?

I always thought the FBI would make me famous. (Plus, there is the great power that comes from controlling the FBI.)

I would like to thank the Blog Stalking Federation, especially their founder, Mrs. Jessica Soucy, for their recognition of my commitment to and achievement in forensic blogging. I would also like to thank the Federation for their lovely gift which I intend to enjoy this evening:)

*Also, I am highly amused by the title "brilliant statistician."

Monday, March 24, 2008

How Do I...?

A soon-to-be first-time mommy asked me a very good question today: How did I teach Abigail about God? I've written some parenting advice before, and I don't know if it helped anyone, but I thought I would share what has worked for us. I don't claim to know everything, and I would love to hear other good ideas from experienced parents, especially those who have kids older than Abigail (I could use some good advice, too:)! But here is what I think.

First, I think the most important thing to know in order to teach your child about God is this: know what you believe, and why you believe it. We can only truly teach what we know and understand. I can't teach calculus because I don't know and understand calculus, but I could teach nursing because I know and understand nursing. It is the same with your religious beliefs. You need to know what you believe and why you believe it. This will prepare you to answer those interesting and tough questions that kids ask. Sure, we will all have moments when we honestly don't know (Momma, why did God choose me to be a big sister but not choose me to be a little sister?) and that is okay. (My response to these questions is "I don't know, but you can ask God. Would you like to pray about that and ask Him to show you why He made that choice?) But for the most part, we do actually have a lot of questions that we can answer, if we take the time to really examine what we believe.

For instance, I strongly believe that I need to teach my daughter how to make good decisions. My job is not to teach her to follow a set of rules dictated by me, the Church, her school, or the government. Yes, she needs to follow the rules, and I am teaching her that, but my real job is to teach her how to make decisions when there is no one else telling her what to do (ie- how to be a grown up.) I need to teach her how to decide what to do when there is no black and white, when there is no clear-cut right and wrong; most of life is shades of gray and very little of live is obviously wrong or right. In trying to teach her this, I not only teach her rules (don't lie, don't hit) but I teach her why she shouldn't do those things. We don't lie because it makes God sad when we lie; we don't hit because when we hit people, it hurts them, and Jesus wants us to be kind to each other and love each other, not hurt each other. But the only way I can teach her they "why" behind the rule is if I know it myself. I need to know what I believe, and why I believe it.

Secondly, beyond knowing right and wrong, beyond knowing what you believe about God, you need to live it out. For instance, you can tell your kids to eat their vegetables until you are blue in the face, but if you don't eat your vegetables, your kids will not believe it is important. You need to set the example and make God real and tangible in your own life so that they can see that God can be real and tangible in their life.

Recently I was having some car difficulties. One morning, the car just wouldn't start. I was upset and frustrated, and I knew Abigail was watching me intently from her car seat in the back seat. I stopped and asked her if she would pray with me that God would help our car to work. We did just that, and on the next try, the car started! We thanked God for helping us. Later that day, Abigail couldn't find a very special toy. She was upset and frustrated, but rather than throwing a fit, she came to me and asked if we could pray that God would help her find her toy. We did pray, and within a few minutes, she found her toy. When she found it, she excitedly hollered, "Momma, God helped me find my toy! Thanks God!" Did God cause my car to start or her to find her toy? Maybe, maybe not. But the point is that Abigail understands that you can go to God with all of your concerns, and He listens and helps you. I set an example to her of a living, active, interactive God, and she follows that example. As the scripture says, talk about the things of God from the moment you wake up to the moment you return to bed!

Third, keep in mind that you can't do it for them. Faith is a very personal thing, and you can't create faith within your child. However, you can foster faith and help it grow. By having a mindset that recognizes God's role in giving us good gifts, providing for us, loving us, and leading us, we can, as parents, nurture faith in our children. When we speak to our child about how God answered their prayer, we are showing our faith, and helping them to develop faith. We can't make them have faith, but we can help them understand what faith is. In our house, Abigail and I talk about her bedtime prayers before she prays. We talk about what she wants to pray about (her sister, the orphans around the world (and the cat orphans), our family) and then we talk about what we want to thank God for. During this time, I try to point out the ways that God has answered her prayers, especially in those practical, day-to-day ways that matter to a child.

Finally, you weren't meant to do this alone. Teaching your child about God is a tall order. There are lots of supports for you. The church is a big area of support. When your child has a lesson in the nursery or their children's ministry, take the time to learn about what the lesson was, and what the teachers taught. Then reinforce the lesson in the car on the way home from church. Leave their art project on your dashboard as a reminder to talk about their lesson the next time you are driving to the grocery. Remind them throughout the week about the things they learned about God. (Especially when kids are very young, their lessons are usually "God loves you and wants to help you when you are scared" and such. There are lots of everyday opportunities to reinforce that idea.)

Abigail loves to listen (and dance!) to music, so I am glad to have a few VegeTales CDs and a few CDs of children's praise and worship songs. We often sing together in the car, and talk about the lyrics. We have a few VegeTales DVDs, and some Adventures in Oddessy CDs that share stories with a Biblical theme. I think for kids, the best thing you can do is make God "approachable." These DVDs and CDs really do that for kids. For younger children (infant to 6), I really like the book "The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes." (Check it out- you will love it!) The Christian bookstore is another great resource to help find things that will engage your child while also teaching them about God. Find what works for your kid. (Here is an idea for little boys, and one for little girls.) The Adam Raccoon books are great stories and teach about God. Kids are never too young to hear the great stories of God's faithfulness and love!

I would love to hear your thoughts! What has worked for you?

27 Weeks

No, I haven't been waiting 27 weeks, but the Fournets have. Right now, they are at the top of the FBI list (list of known families who are in process with Gladney), having gone on wait list with Gladney on September 20.

Please keep them in your prayers. Each week that goes by without a referral must be so difficult, and yet Natalie is so sweet as to post this encouragement- it totally convicted me!

Can we all rally around them and give them love and support during this 27th week of waiting for their kiddos? And maybe say a few prayers for them, that the Comfort of the Holy Spirit will be with them, and that maybe, just maybe, they will get their referral!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Cry on my Shoulder

Sweet little girl, I'll hold you.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Look Whose Waiting... Again!

Seriously, how great is this!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Week 9

Where is the time going? My referral wait is 9 weeks today, and I can't even wrap my mind around how quickly this time is flying. So much to do, so little time!

* So many Gladney referrals! What a week! The E. Family, the G. Family, Ashley, Angie, and the Winters! Plus, Jennifer and Jody went on wait list! Woot!
* On Monday I was blessed with 5 large rubbermaid bins of donations for Ethiopia! The family that donated the clothes insisted that I use anything that I can for the new baby, and donate the rest. So that is a double blessing- a new (free) wardrobe for my baby, and tons of stuff for the orphanage!

* Finally got word about the bunk beds. They will be delivered on April 2. Guess I need to get the girls' room a bit more ready:)

* The loan from A Child Waits Foundation has given helped me stop worrying about the adoption finances, and start getting excited about planning my travel!
* Abigail continues to look forward to her sister joining her. This week she gave my mom a list of things she can no longer do when she is a big sister because those are "baby things." The kid cracks me up!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Court Closure

So, maybe you knew, maybe you didn't know, that in Ethiopia the courts close each year for the rainy season. This year they will close from August 8 until the beginning of October. Here is the info my agency provided about how the court closure will affect adoptive families. Keep in mind that I am currently waiting to be matched to a child. Once matched, my paperwork will be submitted to the Ethiopian Court. They will approve me and I will legally become my new daughter's mother. From the time that I "pass court" it will be approximately 3 weeks until I travel to Ethiopia for the Embassy date.

How will the courts closing during the rainy season affect me?

After a family officially accepts a child referral, our in-country representatives will submit the family's dossier to the courts. If the family is approved by the courts before they close for the rainy season, then the family is able to travel to pick up their child (even if the courts are closed). The U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia will still be open during the rainy season, so the family will be able to pick up their child's visa. However, if the family is unable to get a court date before the courts close for the rainy season, then they will need to wait until the courts reopen in October before their dossier can be submitted. It is expected that the courts will have a back log of files when they reopen.

For those families who have accepted a child referral during the rainy season, Gladney's in-country staff will provide families with updates on the child they have accepted while waiting for the courts to reopen.

Will Gladney stop making child referrals during the rainy season?

Gladney will continue to provide families with child referrals even during the rainy season. If the family decides to accept their child referral during the rainy season, the family must wait until the courts reopen in October before their dossier can be submitted to the courts. We are unsure of how long it will take for courts to issue a court date when they reopen as we can expect some backlog.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Another Blessing!

God is so good!

I've just received notice that I've been approved for a loan through A Child Waits Foundation! The loan will be for $10,000, at a low 5% interest rate. Praise God!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

2 Months

Today is 2 months of waiting for a referral...

I am getting a tad bit excited as the G. Family was just referred a toddler boy after only 6.5 weeks of waiting! I am wondering/hoping that the referral of a toddler girl will also be a bit shorter than the anticipated 3-5 months:)

Biblical Names

I have mentioned that the name God "gave" me for my new daughter is a Biblical name. I've also said a few other things about names, queried you, my readers about what you guess my new daughter's name will be, and queried a class of kindergartners about what they think I should name Abigail's sister. So far, no one has "guessed" correctly.

I was just talking to another Christian adoptive mom at my work, and she was trying to guess what the name will be. We got a little silly, and she made a suggestion that almost tempted me to change my name plan.

I mean, how could I not want to name my new daughter "Jezebel Delilah"?

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Q: (as was posted on my Christian Ethiopian Adoption Yahoo Group) Are most of the children from Ethiopia AIDS orphans? And..If the birth parents have AIDS or die from it, how can the children not have it, especially young children? Wouldn't they be exposed in utreo and during birth? Are the HIV/AIDS tests given in Ethiopia accurate?

A: These were questions that I had, too, at the beginning of my adoption journey. As I educated myself, I came to believe that under different circumstances, I could, and would, adopt an HIV+ child. I had the pleasure of meeting an HIV+ child recently adopted into the US, and I can tell you this- she was just like any other little girl, and I had no problem letting Abigail play with her. Her HIV status would not have inhibited me from loving her, and I am thankful that she is here in the US and she is healthy!

Here is my response to the question above.

I would suggest that perhaps you and your hubby read "There Is No Me Without You." This book will help you gain a better understanding of the orphan epidemic in Ethiopia.

Children in Ethiopia may be AIDS orphans. However, they may be relinquished due to poverty or other reasons as well. For instance,in Ethiopia, a widowed woman has very little hope of remarrying. Remarrying is one of the only ways she can gain any kind of financial security. Having children from her previous husband makes remarrying even more difficult. So, since she probably can't provide for her kids, and she almost certainly will not remarry if she keeps her kids, she may choose to relinquish them.

I don't think that there are any accurate numbers for how many of the Ethiopian orphans are orphaned by AIDS. But in a world where a woman may work all day and earn only a few cents, the reality is that children are orphaned by poverty just as much as by disease. Additionally, AIDS is not the only disease that can orphan children. Many diseases that are not fatal in developed nations are certainly fatal in developing nations like Ethiopia where access to health care is limited and there is no health care for people who cannot pay for it. TB, malaria, polio, etc can all be causes of illness and death.

Parents may acquire HIV and die from it after children are born. Additionally, just because one or both parents are HIV+ does not mean that the children born of them will be HIV+ as well. In fact,studies from other nations have shown that a child is more likely to acquire HIV from breastfeeding from an HIV+ mom than from being born of an HIV+ parent.

All children are tested for HIV when they are admitted to an orphanage. Depending on your agency, you may have the option of having additional HIV tests done (in general, the real question of accuracy of the HIV tests has to do with which kind of test is done, the age of the child at the time of the test administration, and how recently the child may have had exposure to HIV through birth or breast milk. That is a long and complex discussion, but suffice it to say that with enough HIV tests done at the appropriate times, you can almost certainly trust the negative results of the tests.) Children are also tested for other communicable diseases when they come into the orphanage.

HIV+ children are, generally, not housed with HIV- children once they go into agency-run orphanages. Additionally, to bring an HIV+ child into the US, you have to go through a special procedure with USCIS. If you don't want to adopt an HIV+ child, you can feel confident that you won't, as the children as also tested for HIV at the American Embassy in Addis before they are permitted to leave Ethiopia.

Please keep in mind that HIV/AIDS is not as scary as it used to be. Because of the amazing anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs that we have, children who are started onto ARV therapy have a life span that is equal to that of an HIV- child. In fact, an HIV+ child who receives ARV therapy in the US will die of a heart attack, stroke, or other "diseases of age" before they die of HIV/AIDS. A child who is HIV+ is not likely to advance to AIDS if they are receiving ARV therapy.

HIV is not likely to be spread to family members or friends. In fact, in a hospital setting, the precautions we take for HIV+ patients are no different than the precautions we take for an HIV- patient, since it kind of takes a lot to acquire HIV. Since I am not sharing needles or having sex with my patients, I can't get HIV from them. It's that simple. The HIV virus is very unstable and cannot live on surfaces, so things like sharing a bathroom or sharing linens does not increase your risk of contracting HIV.

Certainly, adopting and parenting an HIV+ child has it's risks, and it is not for everyone. But I think that there is still this unfair stigma surrounding HIV. You and your husband probably interact with HIV+ people in your daily lives and you don't even know, because HIV is not a "killer" in the US the way it is in developing nations. It is a serious disease, but in the US, it is a manageable chronic condition just like high blood pressure or diabetes. And we know that people are more likely to die from high blood pressure and diabetes than from HIV in the US because of the wonderful medications we have available to us.

My Fat Free Pregnancy

I was talking to the director of Abigail's school and updating her on the adoption process. As a momma to 3, she totally understands the "waiting" as well as the interesting take that older kids have on waiting for their new sibling.

Me: I love when we are out in public, and Abigail makes a comment about "when my new sister gets here..." And then everyone automatically looks at my stomach! It's so funny.

Director: Hey guys, it's not in there!

Me: Nope! This is my fat-free pregnancy:)

And those who know me now may say what they want about how I wasn't "fat" when I was pregnant, but let me just say this: I gained 48 pounds in 17 weeks when Abigail was cooking in my tummy, and 48 pounds is a lot of weight. And I think I carried all 48 pounds in my face.

I much prefer this "fat free" way:)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Week 8

8 weeks. Sunday will be the big 2 month mark! Kind of a slow week in the adoption process, so here are a few of the highlights:

*Donations drive at church continues. We have been very blessed to receive some wonderful donations, and I am so thankful for those who are reaching out to bless the children of Ethiopia.

*Spoke with another adoption loan agency yesterday. I should know if I receive that loan within the next week or 2. Say a prayer and keep your fingers crossed!

*Received the (hopefully final) piece of paperwork needed to complete my pre-certification for FMLA leave. This process was, unfortunately, more complicated than I felt that it needed to be. But, this paper will be faxed to HR this afternoon, and I will be done. Woot!

Well, that's all I can think of right now. Off to finish up some homework and then to a job interview later this afternoon! Yea!

P.S. I just love that picture of the number 8! I found this several weeks ago, and I have so been looking forward to using it on this "Week 8" post!


Q: Was adoption your "Plan A"?

A: Well, since you asked...
You probably saw this one coming. It seems that it is a right of passage for adoptive parents to write the "Plan A" post. You know, the post where they explain that adoption wasn't a fallback plan, wasn't a second choice, wasn't a compromise. The post where they explain how very much in love with adoption they are... not just in love with their child, but with the choice to adopt.

For most adoptive couples, this is a fairly straightforward post. Often, the post will include an explanation that adopted kids are just as much "our own" as biological kids. The "ownership" of children is a frequently-addressed topic, and parents explain how very much this child will be "theirs" despite the lack of a biological connection. It sometimes includes a reference to the very intrusive questions that well-meaning but ignorant people sometimes ask, especially those questions about the boy parts and girl bits that are involved in making a baby, and the potential for exploring fertility treatment. This is understandable, as reproduction is the more traditional way of expanding a family, and many of the non-adoptive circle are just plain curious why that route would not be pursued, or at least perused.

Almost every "Plan A" leaves me nodding along in agreement, and a few even leave me with a tear glistening in my eyes. They speak to the great truth that all people are equal and worthy of love. They speak to the call we have to love- the charge to look after orphans. They speak to the choice involved in love- a choice to love a child just as you choose to love your spouse. They are life-affirming and love-affirming. They are the posts that touch your heart and change the way you think.

I can't write that post.

Why? Well, primarily because at this point, reproduction is not really a valid form of expanding my family. I mean, yes, I assume that if I wanted to become pregnant, I could. I had some complications at the end of Abigail's pregnancy, and I've had some concerning health issues since then, but with modern healthcare, there is no reason to believe I couldn't conceive and carry a child. I probably could. At least, all my doctors think so.

But, being single, while it is technically possible, it is not really probable. I am already not enjoying trying to share the parenting responsibilities of my daughter with a man that is not my spouse, and I really don't want to go down that road again. If I were to re-marry, I would consider bearing a child from my womb (although, the appeal of that option is limited) but until I an married, why would I want to invite another person into my life in such an intimate way?

So, when it comes to adoption, it would be wrong to say that it was or became my "Plan A." That implies that there is a feasible "Plan B." In my situation, I wouldn't say that there is a feasible "Plan B." There is just "The Plan." Adoption. At the same time, indicating that adoption is "The Plan" simply for lack of an alternate plan is an unfair representation of my feelings towards adoption.

Q: So, what are your feelings towards adoption?

A: How much time do you have?

My feelings towards adoption are complex and evolving. When I first started out on the adoption journey, I found myself frustrated when I reached the point where things were "out of my hands." With pregnancy, there is always something I could do- go to doctors appointments, eat right, exercise, read to my bump... With adoption, there's a lot of doing nothing except waiting. I found this frustrating at first, until I realized that adoption really took the focus off me and my abilities and put the focus onto God and His sovereign nature- His perfect plan and His ability to work all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

At the same time, I've been able to appreciate a lot of things about adoption from the very beginning. Pregnancy was very hard on me physically, and after I gave birth, I suffered a very intense post-partum depression. From the very beginning of the adoption journey, I have appreciated that I haven't felt tired, excessively emotional, or been puking non-stop the way I did when I was pregnant. I appreciate that growing my family through adoption does not put me at risk for post-partum depression. And I appreciate the way that adoption allows Abigail to be just as involved in the process of growing our family as I am!

I love the idea of adoption, even though there are times when the actual process of adoption is not my favorite. I love that adoption is a beautiful picture of our relationship with God: He loved us before we were even born, just like I love my daughter now, before she is known to me; He adopted us to Himself, to be His children and to share equal access to Him, just like I am adopting my daughter and she will be equal in my love and affection as Abigail. It's beautiful.

I could go on, but I won't (if you've read this far, kudos!) Allow me to sum up the point of this post: Adoption is a beautiful picture of God's love for us, and it is the method of growing my family to which God has called me at this time. This doesn't just make it my "Plan A"- it makes it something more and better than my plans- it makes it God's Plan. And that makes it just right.

Sunday, March 9, 2008


Q: What can I do to help?

A: When people ask this question, I assume they mean "what can I do to help right now? What donations do you need? What are your immediate practical needs?"

I have outlined some of the ways you can help in the Pray, Support, and Give areas.

I am also collecting donations for the orphanage.

Practical needs include:
~Boys and girls new or gently used clothing size 0-8, including underwear, socks, jackets, and pajamas.
~Children’s shoes of all sizes.
~Crayons and art supplies (stickers, scissors, glue, glitter, coloring books, etc.)
~Blankets and bibs
~Huggies Diapers size 1-2 and Huggies Natural Care wipes
~Nestle Good Start Supreme DHA/AHA powder
~A&D Original Ointment

Additionally, I will be collecting small gifts to give to the orphans:
~Inflatable balls (they especially love soccer balls!) and bouncy balls (Deflated balls for travel. A hand pump to re-inflate the balls will be needed as well.)
~Balloons and stickers
~Costume jewelry, face paints
~Individually wrapped candy and granola bars

In terms of more permanent help and aid...

Would you consider adopting?
Would you consider adopting an older child or an HIV+ child?
Would you consider sponsoring a child (See the Support page.)
Would you consider hosting a child or sibling group through the Bright Futures Camp?
Would you consider supporting Gladney's Ethiopian Humanitarian Aid Programs?

Would you consider asking the Lord what HE wants you to do? I promise, whatever He puts you up to will be just the thing that's needed!


Q: Is it safe to travel in Ethiopia? Aren't you worried about taking Abigail?

A: Here is info provided by my agency in their travel packet for families who will be traveling to Ethiopia:

In a short answer, yes it is very safe! Every so often, there are reports concerning conflicts and skirmishes particularly along the border. You might also hear the jihadists are declaring a “holy war” between the Somali Muslims and the Ethiopian Christians. Remember that Ethiopia is about twice the size of Texas and most incidents in the past are taking place in the outer districts (near the border) and are being provoked by non Ethiopian citizens. Also, remember that our media is in the business of sensationalizing events in order to whet the appetite of the American public.

Gladney has American staff currently living in Ethiopia and sends others from the U.S. several times a year. We would not be doing so if we knew it to be a danger. Also, the State Department has a website to inform interested parties of situations occurring in Ethiopia. You may monitor the State Department site at . You will be accompanied in your daily outings by either one of the Gladney staff or a trusted English speaking driver in whom Gladney has confidence.

So, basically, my agency says it's safe, the government says it's safe, previous travelers have not had any safety concerns, and I will be with a very protective group of people going to very safe places. No, I'm not worried about our safety, and I hope you aren't, either!

Reason #17- Foolishness and Wisdom

"This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength."

1 Cor. 1:25 (NLT)

A lot of people seem to question the "timing" of this adoption. They question why I would want to adopt now when I could wait and adopt if/when I get married again. They question why I would adopt while I am so far from my family. The question why I would adopt when I am still trying to get thru school. They question why I would adopt when I am still in a job where my schedule is unpredictable and keeps me from Abigail some evenings and weekends.

In my gut, I want to respond "do you really think I haven't wondered these things myself?" Because I have- these are questions I have faced within myself. But while other seem to present a "better" plan, a "wiser" plan (and many do this without hesitation!) I am convinced of this:

The wisdom of man is like foolishness when compared to the wisdom of GOD!

So, why should I concern myself with what others think would be "wiser"? The God of the universe, omniscient, omnipresent, all-powerful and all-knowing, has instructed me in His wisdom to pursue this adoption at this time. Um, I think HE might be just a tad wiser than anyone here on Earth, no?

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Reason #16- Adoption is Greater than the Universe!

Naming Survey

A query to a class of kindergarteners: What should we name Abigail's new sister?
Hannah (like Hannah Montana)
Abigail (this was a joke, I think)
Briar Rose

Other names Abigail likes:

You can add your vote here.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


Just watch.

"A Responsibility"

Sometimes, Abigail blows me away. Here is what she told me at dinner tonight...

Momma, when my sister comes, my world will change a lot. It will be a lot different to have a sister. I will have to have a responsibility. I will have to help you and bring you diapers and throw the poop in the garbage. And then I will have to read to my sister and tell her all about my Gagie and my Pepaw and my Teta. And I could teach her how to read.

And I will have to teach my sister how to pray, and how to do beautiful dancing for God when we are at church. And then I could teach her how to use the potty so that she does her poopies in there and it won't smell like poop in our house.

Also, Momma, we should buy some diapers for my sister. Because I don't want her to peepee on me.

Week 7

One month, 2 weeks, 4 days. Time is flying! Here are week 7 highlights:

*Updated my to-do list.

*Kicked off donations drive at church with an announcement in the bulletin. The best part was that as I was walking into the sanctuary and trying to find a seat, the associate pastor comes up to me and is all "Oh, by the way, I just want you to come up during announcements and tell everyone what the Ethiopia stuff is all about." Just like that. No warning. I was literally shaking, but so many people came up to me after service and were so excited to talk to me about adoption and how they can help. Yea!

*My pastor's daughter gave me a whole rubbermaid bin of baby clothes to donate to the orphanage. Thanks!

*Tonight I am going to pick up a stroller. I have wanted a Sit-n-Stand stroller since I decided to adopt, but those things are stinking expensive. Then I found one on craigslist for $35. Dude, I don't care if it has stains or small rips (they will happen once I start using it anyway, especially once it makes a trip on an airplane to Chicago) so this is working out just right! I can't wait to get it. If you don't know why a Sit-N-Stand stroller is super-cool, just ask. I might have to dedicate a whole post to the coolness of this stroller.

*Strongly considered assembling bookshelves and toy box for the girls' room. This is not my favorite thing ever. Almost psyched myself up to do it. But then I read this post, and remembered how frustrating assembling baby items is, and backed out. But almost did it!

*Went to the Great Baltimore Zoo Outing of 2008. Promptly lost all my pictures when my computer spazed out. (The folder where they are supposed to be stored is there, the pictures are not.) Bummer. But fun. But a bummer. You know?

*Had a minor heart attack when examining the quantity of loot that Baby Soucy already has. That is going to be one well-dressed baby.

*Almost wet myself over the Rooney's good news. Then proceeded to exhaust the "refresh" button while waiting for Lori to post "the story of the good news."

Monday, March 3, 2008

I will tell of all your deeds...

I will tell of all your deeds!

Praise and thanks be to God who has known and ordained the Rooney family since before time began, and who has worked all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to HIS purpose!

Ted and Lori have their own Rooney.

Praise God!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

To be near God

My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.

Those who are far from you will perish;
you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.

But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds.

Psalm 73:26-28

Does anyone know the Amharic word for God, Lord, or Jesus?


Totally spazing... somehow, all the pictures I took yesterday at our Baltimore Outing are GONE! I just transferred them from my camera to my computer, and now they are NOT HERE!

So disappointed!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Hague List

You probably remember me talking about the Hague convention here and here. The US Department of State has just updated it's list of "Approved" and "Temporarily Accredited" adoption service providers.

Choosing an agency that was Hague compliant and Hague approved was important to me, and is something that is and will continue to be very important in my international adoption journey. If you are considering IA, you need to check out this list.