Manny on Babies

My niece and nephew are here staying at my parents with us. My four year old nephew Manny was laying in his bed and wanted me to come in and kiss him goodnight. So I went in and snuggled with him for a minute and this was the conversation:
Manny: Auntie Rachael when are you going to get a baby in your tummy?
Me: Someday. But first we're going to get a baby from Africa.
Manny: Then you will put him in your tummy?
Me: No, then there will be a different baby in my tummy.
Manny: Well how will the baby get there?
(Here's me thinking, "oh no.")
Me: God puts the baby there.
Manny: Well how does God put it there?
Me: (still not sure what to say, I'm not the mom...so I say,) I don't know.
(to which Manny asked the same question again and I said the same answer of 'I don't
Manny: How does the baby get out?
Me: (still in my not sure what to say stage....) I don't know (to which Manny asked
the same question again and I said the same answer of 'I don't know').
Manny: I think it just slips right out!

I gave him a big kiss on the cheek and said, "I think you might be right!" And we did our little routine of eskimo and butterfly kisses and ended with his new saying, "You're my best friend," and off to sleep my Manny baby went. At least I have a few years before my kids ask the same questions and I'm then obligated to answer! :) For now, I'll be the auntie and leave that up to my sister! :) haha.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! We hope you are enjoying the holiday season with your family and loved ones! Jon & I drove about 11 hours to Pennsylvania to be with my family this year. It's always a loud and crazy bunch when we're together. We have 1 nephew and 3 nieces all under the age of four. Unwrapping presents was a great whirlwind of wrapping paper for about 30 minutes. My favorite gift was from Jon. He got me "The Faces of Layla" book which is a book of pictures of the orphanage where our baby will be. Wow. It has pictures of Ethiopia and all the kids and the orphanage. It made my heart melt. I want to be there so bad picking up our little guy. We got a couple soft toys from my niece and nephew for the baby, and the perfect blanket from my other sister. It's the exact one I wanted to get. It's SUPER soft and an adorable baby blue. Her girls both have them in pink and purple. One of the gifts we got the kiddos were t-shirts we made. They were very excited about them and Manny & Aderyn wore one of theirs today. One said, "Some cousins arrive by stork, mine by 747." And the other one said, "Waiting for our Cousin From Ethiopia." Here are some pictures of the shirts! From left to right: Manny, Aderyn, Natalie, Jane, & Baby Oren


Baby Gifts!

Merry Christmas Eve! We are finally here in PA! Yippee! It's nice to be home and visiting with my family whom we haven't seen since we moved in August. I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my niece and nephew tomorrow! I already got to smother my two other nieces all day yesterday! This will be a fun Christmas with four little ones under the age of four!

We celebrated Christmas with Jon's family on Sunday before we left. Both of our parents are always more than generous on Christmas. We were very excited with two specific gifts from Jon's mom! She got us our first two big baby gifts! We got our pack n' play and high chair! I LOVE them! You should've seen us trying to put this pack n' play together. I was so excited I took it right out of the box and we started assembling it. It took four of us to get it together. Haha. Here are pictures of the ones we got.


A Gift for Ethiopia

This past Monday I sent a letter home to the families of my students telling them about our adoption! My students were so excited! They came in asking all about the baby, and one little girl kept saying, "I just can't wait for your baby to come home!" They all offered me their suggestions for names too, which were quite funny. I got the most encouraging and thoughtful card from the parents of one of my boys. It's definitely going into our "Words of Love" project we've been compiling. I wish people could truly see how much it means to us to hear from people about our adoption. It's such a blessing! Then, this past Friday we had a half day of school before the Christmas break. We had a big school Christmas party and one of my students gave me the most thoughtful gift. Even cooler was the fact that they got this gift BEFORE they knew about our adoption. Wow! Here's a picture of the gift....


This time around... our hearts are in Ethiopia

Christmas is my favorite time of year! We have been enjoying all the sights and sounds of Christmas... well, probably more so me, than Jon, as I blast the Christmas music that Jon is already sick of hearing! And of course, everyday I rush to the mailbox to see who sent Christmas cards! I especially love the ones with pictures! I love watching Christmas movies and lighting all my smelly pine tree candles. This year is a little different though with our hearts already in Ethiopia. It's truly the strangest feeling this year.... a longing I can't explain. We've only been on the waiting list for 10 days... 10 out of A LOT more days, but still, it feels different to be approaching the holiday with our eyes set on our babe somewhere in Ethiopia. I keep thinking...wow, Lord willing, our son will be here for Christmas next year! So exciting! In light of that, you've gotta watch this video by third day. It's just a few minutes long, but I cried through the whole thing.


DO Treat Prospective Adoptive Parents the Same as Expected Parents

Adopting a child is as exciting for soon-t0-be parents as being pregnant. Yet because adoption is not as common as a pregnancy and many people have unexpressed (or expressed!) biases about adoption due to their unfamiliarity with it, family, friends, and co-workers may feel reluctant to talk about an impending adoption. Biased comments, and even more so, silence, is very painful for the adoptive parents. It would be as if you were pregnant, and no one cared to share your joy. Adoptive parents feel the same way expectant parents do- overjoyed, overwhelmed, nervous, impatient, and, most of all, excited. Adoptive parents long for others to discuss the adoption with the same sense of excitement and levity that one brings to a discussion about pregnancy and childbirth.
For us, adoption is not a "second best" option. This baby will be every bit a part of our family as a biological child. The bottom line is that a child is being brought into a family- our family- a small miracle no matter how it occurs.


Babies R' Us, Dreams, and My Manny Baby

Tonight was a fun, relaxing night! Jon and I went out to eat and headed off to Babies R' Us to check out a few things for Baby Oren's Christmas list! How fun! Jon is adorable about all this. He's very interested in all the gadgets, but yet making funny cracks about all the baby gear. When we would watch my niece Natalie when she was her teeny tiny 6 pound self, Jon was amazed at all the gear she required to simply go to the mall. I'm sure we were quite a funny sight tonight, walking around the store not really sure what we were doing or the differences between certain products. Most of the women in the aisle's were obviously pregnant, so it was funny to watch two of them look at my belly to see if I too, was having a baby. I wanted to shout with joy, yes I am having a baby...We're Adopting!!! :) So we picked out our high chair and pack n' play for Baby Oren's list, but will hold off on other big baby items till we find out who our son is. Some of the things will require us having a better idea of his age and size, but we knew we'd need those two things regardless.

So it's been two days of waiting! (Haha). I have been exhausted the last two days due to lack of sleep! When we found out about officially being on the wait list Wednesday night, I was SO excited I couldn't fall asleep. A million wonderful thoughts were going through my head. I usually don't remember many of my dreams, but the last two nights, once I do finally fall asleep, I have been dreaming A LOT about our baby! I have been dreaming about the moment we walk in and meet our son, I've been dreaming about what his adorable face looks like (although I forget the face as soon as I wake up), and I dream about him being here at home with us!

Wednesday night, after hearing about our dossier being sent to Ethiopia, I was thinking about the time I first met my nephew Manny. What a sweet memory!
It seemed liked FOREVER since my sister and her husband left for Guatemala to bring Manny back home. We couldn't wait for their arrival day! I will never, ever forget the moment I first laid eyes on him...it seems like yesterday! Our whole family, and my sister's husband's family, were standing in the airport, waiting right outside the long corridor of the plane. We anxiously waited for them to walk through the doorway. Every time we heard someone coming we got really excited. They ended being one of the last ones off. But then they came through the door and that precious baby boy was sitting there so sweetly with his mommy, snuggled up in the baby sling she was wearing. I will never forget the look on his little face. He had the cutest little hat on with a white and blue striped shirt and the most adorable smirky smile...and man, that smile. I still see that little smirky smile, even at his now, four years of age. I remember the first time I held him. He was so snuggly and content, smiling at everyone who held him. I didn't want to let him go! There were many tears and oohs, and aahhs, and shouts of congratulations and excitement. It gives me goosebumps to think about. We always wanted to adopt...even before Jon and I met, even before Manny ever came home. I met my nephew, held him in my arms, and knew, we would be next!


We Are Officially on the Waiting List!

Wow! What a day! I literally just posted that our I-171H came in the mail, and about 30 seconds later I checked my email and got a very special message saying our dossier was sent to Ethiopia today via Fed Ex and we are officially on the waiting list for baby Oren! Wow! I can't tell you how anxious I have been to hear this news! I can't tell you how many times I've driven home from work with tears in my eyes, just hoping today would be the day we got the news that we're on the list! Even though it's been only 2 months, 2 weeks, and 6 days since we started this process it feels like it's been a lot longer (and we have much longer to go!). The past two months we have been on psycho mode doing homestudy visits, doctor visits, filling out forms, getting fingerprinted, getting references, putting our life story on paper, having a home visit, getting our water tested, writing a will, filling out financial sheets, getting lab work done, and signing our name about a hundred times, and writing some very large checks! That entire packet of stuff called the dossier is now on its way to Ethiopia! We are another step closer to bringing our son home! WHAT A DAY THIS HAS BEEN!!!

Our I-171H!!!

Our I-171H came today!!! WAHOO!!! So I've been stalking our mail everyday waiting for the I-171H, even though I don't really know what it is. But what I'm gathering is that it's a big deal! And it arrived today! (At least I think that's what this is. haha). It says I-171H in the bottom corner with a letter that states "USCIS would like to congratulate you on your I-600A application for advance processing of orphan petition approval and completing the first step in the adoption immigration process" (etc., etc.,). It also said our application has been forwarded to the American Consulate at Addis Ababa Ethiopia (1-2 children) Via the National Visa Center. So anyway, I'm going to post this and email our agency to see what I need to do with this form. If any of you know what it is and what it means, etc. I'd love to hear from you! :)


Shoes for Ethiopians!

Tommy Tom Tom's Shoes! (I stole this from another blogger friend). I never heard of these shoes before, but I think they are way cute. But here is one reason to really love Tom's shoes. They are giving shoes to ETHIOPIA right now. For every pair of shoes you purchase, Tom's gives away a pair to a person in need....... and right now, a person in need in ETHIOPIA! The baby/kid shoes are especially cute! Check out the video and buy a pair for someone on your Christmas list!


Happy Thanksgiving! I just looove the holidays! We spent Thanksgiving with Jon's family at his aunt's house. One thing is for sure, no matter which family we are with, mine or Jon's, there is always excitement! Haha. However, I will say this holiday had a much different "feeling" to it. Jon's cousin and his wife were among the crowd with their two adorable boys Thomas and Samuel. It kind of made our hearts sink a little thinking that our son could already be born, and by himself, without a family, this Thanksgiving. We left that night, tired from a fun day with family, but longing for our baby to be home and enjoying the holidays with us. It's strange to think that he could possibly already be born right now, or still in his birth mother's womb. We are already looking forward to next year when our babe will join the family celebrations! I can't imagine how those we've met in our adoption group must feel who already have pictures of their babies and unable to get them before the holidays. We are praying for you! Soon...very soon...


Super Hard to be Patient

So I got an email from our agency today. Our dossier is complete and waiting to be assembled. They said it will probably not be assembled and sent to Ethiopia until later this week or early next week due to the holidays and people being out of the office. Although I understand that, it was still one of those moments where you feel discouraged and frustrated and the pit of waiting just grew a little deeper. Once AAI sends it, we are officially on the waiting list. It's crazy to think how that stack of documents is our life blood to Ethiopia right now and separates us and our baby boy! Oh the prayers we've prayed over that envelope! Soon....


Some Thoughts on "Race"

I'm reading a lot of books right on "race" and self perception in early childhood. Not only am I intensely interested in it due to our adoption, but I'm also writing a paper for grad. school on it. It's fascinating and has provided so many good insights. I'm reading this book called "Shattering the Myth of Race" by Dave Unander. I wanted to share some of his thoughts:
There are no individuals or people groups ANYWHERE whose existence and culture lack value, because EVERY human being is a bearer of the image of God. The hand of God molded the system of genetic diversity (Psalm 139:13-16), including those characteristics we have falsely distinguished as racial traits. Anyone who disparages the architecture disparages the Architect.
There are so many different ways to do culture. Doing culture differently is not wrong or sinful, unless it violates the Bible. God created mankind to be culture creators: to cultivate, create, and be stewards of creation. There are SO MANY amazing ways to do this. Just because it looks different, and just because it is different, doesn't mean it is inferior. Dave Unander also talks about the Bible on race:
Although a complete study of this question would require a book in and of itself, allow me to highlight several points about what the Bible says on the topic of race. First, the Bible carries a message in what is not said: There is a striking lack of physical description being almost totally absent in the New Testament. This "omission" is consistent with God's word to Samuel not to look at outward appearance, but at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). In the New Testament Jesus stressed to the Jews that God's covenant is not based on ethnic heritage. The Jewish followers of Jesus began to welcome Samaritans (Acts 8:4-6), Ethiopians (Acts 8:26-29), Italians (Acts 10:1, 47), Greeks (Acts 11:20), and eventually anyone who came to Christ as Lord (Acts 15). Scriptures final word on national and ethnic identity occurs in Revelation, which describes the vision John saw before the throne of God of "a great multitude that no one could count" (Revelation 7:9).


Date Night Meets the Adoption Process

Jon and I usually try to have a date night once a week. We try and set aside an evening where we don't do anything "life" related and hang out together. Well, ever since starting this adoption process we are saving every penny! We are looking for your ideas of cheap, fun, creative date nights! I'd love to hear what you do, or even just ideas you might have! I'll post the list later on the things Jon and I come up with too if you're interested!


Oh The Waiting Game

I drive home everyday from work hoping to open my email to a message saying our dossier is in Ethiopia! Once that happens we will be officially on the waiting list for baby Oren and then we get to stalk the waiting list and our agency and hopefully our name moves up quickly! Some online friends I met through our agency's online adoption group sent their dossier to AAI (our agency) 4 days ahead of us and they got the message last week saying they're dossier is in Ethiopia. So we're hoping that means our turn is close!

It's funny because some people still give funny "hints" such as, "Are you sure about this?" or "But what about____" (and fill the blank with pretty much anything you can think of). Some people are concerned you can't love an adopted child like a biological child, some think only infertile couples should adopt (Christians, of all people, should be pro-adoption. After all, God adopted you into His family saving you from a life of misery, and God isn't infertile), and the list goes on. It's really hard for some to understand. I wish those people could just jump into our hearts and be in our shoes for 1 minute. Then they would experience the call of God, and the heart we have for orphans and it would all make sense. As I was driving home from work today I was thinking of how confident and how sure we are of this. There are only four major events in my life that I have felt as sure as this, and the confidence and assurance in every one of them was totally and completely from God.
1. When I gave my life to Jesus.
2. When I married my husband.
3. When I walked onto my college campus my sophomore year. I knew it was exactly where I was supposed to be.
4. Our choice to adopt.

I pray that believers around the world draw so close to God and his heart that the assurance of their decisions are set in stone!


A Small Taste of Ethiopia!!

The Abyssinian Ethiopian Restaurant
Tonight we went to an Ethiopian restaurant here in Indianapolis with Jon's parents. It was really fun! We've wanted to try this place out
for awhile now. It's called the Abyssinian Restaurant run by all Ethiopians serving Ethiopian food. From what I'm told it's accurate Ethiopian food, not like "chinese" food in the States.

Jon's Parents: Magz and Dig as we affectionately call them. hehe. I love how interested and excited Jon's parents are about our adoption. We had a good time sharing what's next in our timeline and the general/common circustmances surrounding orphans in Ethiopia. It's always fun to talk about adoption and get people excited about where God has led us!

Here's the dish Jon and I had. I can't remember the names. They were hard to pronounce. The bread on the bottom is called injera and we were given a plate with rolled up injera. With Ethiopian food you don't use a fork, spoon, or knife. You rip off pieces of the injera and pick up the food with the bread and then eat it. It was quite fun! I really liked my dish. I had beef, jalapenos, onions, and berberre sauce. The injera bread has a slight sour taste. The spices were really good. Jon had lamb with a variety of spices and stuff. I'm still not quite sure if I liked the texture of the injera. It was kinda of spongy. It tasted great but the texture kind of freaked me out. I've been looking for Ethiopian recipes to try at home. I'd like to get good at a few dishes myself!

Baby Oren gets his first gift tonight from Grandma Magz! How sweet of her to bring a gift on our first visit to this Ethiopian restaurant!

Since we don't know how big or how old our baby is yet, she got him a cute little crawling ball. It moves on the floor (while ducks bobble around it) and encourages the baby to crawl after the ball. We were very excited to get our first baby gift! HOW FUN!


And It's Off!!!

Wahoo!!! It's on its way and the long waiting for Baby Oren begins! We mailed our dossier to AAI today! Wow! What a relief! We've been working like mad the last month or so putting together our life on paper, and it's finally done! No more paperwork till we find out who our precious boy is! I'm not exactly sure what happens to get our dossier from our agency to Ethiopia, so when I find out, I'll be sure to post it! Here are some pics from "delivery" day!
Here's the packet our dossier material originally came in. Our life revolved around the contents of this little blue folder. So glad this part is done!!

Here's Macy with the dossier! She can't wait to get a baby brother from Ethiopia! :)

And Macy again... looking so "astute" and proud to be getting a brother from Ethiopia! Haha.


Adoption Do's and Don'ts

Here's a new section we're hoping to add to as we go through this adoption process. This section, like the Adoption Q&A was borrowed from "Cross-Cultural Adoption" by Amy Coughlin and Caryn Abramowitz. When quoted from the book, it'll be in quotation marks.

Adoption Do's and Don'ts
DO treat him like any other kid.
Although it breaks our heart to think that there are probably people in this world who may struggle with our choice to adopt (for some strange reason I cannot wrap my brain around), we are committed to surrounding our son and family with people who love and treat him just like any other kid. In our son's case, he will be adopted at such a young age that our family will be all he has ever known, so he won't necessarily feel any different (outside the obvious), unless he is made to feel different. He is a precious baby, made in the image of God, who if it weren't for adoption would most likely starve before adolescence or die of treatable illness. In the Bible, James tells us that "Pure and undefiled religion is this, to look after orphans and widows in their distress." God has a very special place in his heart for ch
ildren. Jesus celebrated them on several occasions throughout the Gospels. The color of their skin, their ethnicity, where they born, who they were born to, does not matter. Each and every one of us bears the equal image of God and should be treated as such. So one of the most important things for an adopted child is to know they are loved and cared for, just like every other child in the family. It's the most valuable gift we can give!

DON'T introduce him as adopted.

When introducing children, don't distinguish between adopted and non-adopted children. The pain and continual damage this inflicts is obvious. Although many who might make this mistake do it completely innocently, it makes the adopted child feel inferior, like he falls into a different category and will never be considered a real part of the family. Constantly referring to a child as adopted, as inadvertent as it may be, repeatedly drives home the false message that people who were adopted must always be differentiated from those who were not, and that children who were adopted are somehow less genuine than those who were not.


America's First Black President

Wow, what a week it has been! Jon and I aren't into debating politics nor do we discuss at length with others who we support politically. We are committed to knowing the Bible and making decisions, including voting decisions, by our faith convictions. No matter what political party you belong too, and no matter who you voted for, please don't tell me you aren't at least proud of how far America has come through electing its first African American President. In the hustle and bustle of every day life, it's easy for many to not realize what a great part of history was accomplished on Tuesday night. But for many other Americans, it's impossible for them to not celebrate at what this means for their lives, the lives of their children, and the lives of their grandchildren, and the generations to come. Just sit back and think about it.... the first African American President! Do we have any idea how this can hopefully impact Americans to truly embrace all of mankind for who they are.... image bearers of God! Incredible! Just as John McCain said in his concession speech..."America has come a long way from it's cruel, prideful, bigotry." It's incredible that we have gone from African Americans being unable to vote, to an African American being on the ballot, to an African American winning the election. Even though I have my own opinions and convictions about both parties, and about both candidates, I am hoping that the election of an African American President (regardless of who it is, what party he is affiliated with, and what he believes), will bring more hope for our son's future here in America.

On a completely different note: My arm is killing me from the shot I got yesterday! haha. We are waiting on one more document to send our dossier to AAI. Please pray that we can get this in our hands tomorrow, and our dossier can be on its way to Washington on Saturday morning! We've been hearing some news around the blog world about referrals being faster than we first anticipated! Woo-hoo!


Now I'm Feeling that Word... WAITING

I think this week I've hit the first bout of the emotional roller coaster many people talk about when going through an adoption. We aren't even in the referral stage yet! I had a day or so this past week where I just wanted to be with our baby so bad, where I wanted to hold him and let him know he's loved and will be taken care of. It's heart wrenching to know that he will spend the first several months of his life without us.. The slightest bump in the road almost reduced me to tears. We're waiting on one more document to send in our dossier and when I heard it was going to be a few more days to get it in our hands, I almost burst into tears on the phone with the lady giving me this news. I'm also so distracted this week. I have huge assignments due for grad. school and I can't bring myself to do them. My mind is constantly on this baby. Like I've stated before, people going through pregnancy talk and dream over their bellies, and my life right now revolves around a white binder sitting on our living room bookshelf. I take it out about every day and look through it, making sure all the documents are in order. I find myself checking it again the next day, even though I had just checked it less than 24 hours ago. I have to try to "reward" myself when doing schoolwork by saying things like, "after I finish 3 assignments, I can read people's blogs, or read about adoption, or google adoption sites." Haha. It's pretty bad when I have to bribe myself! Well, I'm off to try and be productive today! Wish me well! This baby already has my heart!


Why Was He Placed For Adoption?

Sometimes, people have a negative and misguided view of the circumstances that brought a child to adoption. The common thought is that his birth mother must've been some teenage girl who ended up pregnant through her promiscuity and couldn't take care of the baby, or didn't want to. There are cases, yes, when the birth parents were too young to be parents. But all too often there is a negative view of the child's birth mother that is formed by nothing but stereotypes and egocentric thinking. The devastation in Ethiopia, and other places alike, is an awful thing. These women do not want to place their babies for adoption. They do not want to see them grow up without them. If you have carried and delivered a baby in your own womb, imagine the devastation of knowing you cannot properly feed him and that he might die if he stays with you. What a heart wrenching thing. There are many reasons birth parents are unable to raise a child, and these reasons vary from family to family and country to country. In Ethiopia there is great famine that takes place. Families and children are without food and proper medical care. Children die every day from starvation and treatable illnesses. Just imagine the love it would take, to carry a baby for 9 months and to your devastation not be able to provide for their basic needs, and you choose to place your child for adoption so that your child will be well taken care of and have a better life. When birth parents do this, they have performed the most difficult and purest act of love there is. Often times, the birth parents have died due to the same causes... famine, illness, lack of proper care. So if you think of it, say a prayer for our son's birth parents and all the other birth parents of the many orphaned children in Africa. Ask God to minister to them emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually. Ask God to bring someone into their life so that they can meet Jesus!

Prayers For Our Son

Dear Heavenly Father,
Wow...this whole process has gripped our hearts in a way we cannot describe. We love this little baby, who probably isn’t even born yet, so incredibly much! This baby, this little boy, across the world, probably in his birth mother’s belly, is ours. He will be ours and we already love him more than life. Please protect him Father. Be with his birth mother and father. Please provide for them physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Please give his birth mother good health and nutrition while carrying this precious life, so that he may born vibrant and healthy. Please also provide care for her during and after the pregnancy. Encourage her spirit, and please send someone to share Jesus with her. Our hearts are heavy over the circumstances that will ultimately end with his adoption. Although we are incredibly thankful, excited, and blessed to call him our own, we grieve for the loss of his birth family and we grieve for the heart of his birth mother. Protect them Lord. Be gracious to them, bless them for the gift of life they are bringing into the world.


Who Are His "Real" Parents?

" Our son will have two sets of parents: his birth parents, and us, his adoptive parents. They're both real. We refer to the mom and dad who gave birth to him as his birth parents, not his 'real parents' or 'natural parents.' We, as his adoptive parents, are every bit as real and natural as those who gave birth to him. We will be his real parents by adoption. We will provide for him, love him, talk to him, hug and kiss him, play with him, read him bedtime stories, keep him safe, take care of him when he's sick, teach him about Jesus and about life. We will be his real parents every bit as he is our real son. He will be a permanent and important part of our family. We are very proud of his heritage and how our family will be formed. "

Talking and Dreaming Over a Stack of Papers!

We are well on our way to finishing the dossier! We move quick! We spent HOURS today organizing paperwork and getting things ready to be sent. I go through paperwork like a crazy person! It's the strangest and coolest feeling knowing this last major step is upon us, before the long waiting period! At least now I feel like we're "doing something," whereas in a short time, we'll feel like we're "doing nothing." Jon and I had such a sweet time together tonight. I imagine parents who are experiencing the arrival of a biological child, talk and dream over a pregnant belly, but we talked and dreamed tonight over a stack of papers! We talked about what kind of person we pray our son becomes... a strong man, a courageous man, a protector. We laughed and talked about the dreams and goals we have as a family. We talked about the values we want to instill in our son and our other future children, how we want to teach them to love Jesus, and how we want to raise them to be confident in exactly how God has crafted them. We know the road of parenthood is not easy, is unpredictable, and has lots of ups and downs. But we are so ready to embark on this journey with Jesus Christ as our guide. (Plus all those friends of ours who are raising toddlers and pre-teens that we tell we will be calling to find out what the heck we're supposed to be doing). We also listened to a very inspiring, yet challening message by Mark Driscoll on Educating Children from his Proverbs series. We highly recommend! It has GREAT insights!

You can pray with us for all this paperwork! Our homestudy will not be completed till my last physical exam is done, which isn't until October 27th (our doctor is away this week). So praise God we can start on the dossier in the meantime. (The homestudy is the largest part of the dossier). Pray that all the paperwork comes back written and notarized correctly and that there are no hang-ups in the offices. Thanks again friends, for your support!

On a completely random note: Does anyone know how to get or create stick figure clip-art that can be used on a t-shirt?

Dossier Packet Arrived!

WAHOO!!!! Our dossier packet came today! I'll write more later, I'm going to dive right in! (rachael)

BTW, Dossier is pronounced DOS-EE-EY!!! (jon)


Origins of Coffee

“I’m not addicted. I could quit any day,” said my college roommate while sipping a cup of the magical hot elixir. Many have echoed those words. You’re possibly one of them. Fortunately, I am not! Although, everybody who’s said the aforementioned words would say there’s nothing fortunate about my addiction-free lifestyle! From images of Juan Valdez, to tunes of Folgers being the “best part of waking up,” we are just one among many nations known for our lack of insipid (yes, intended) desire for coffee. We are a nation of coffee addic…I mean we just really like the stuff.

The U.S. coffee market grosses nearly $18 billion annually. (I bet if coffee execs issued “sub-prime” cups of coffee, we’d have a bigger problem than a $700 billion bailout...bloodshot eyes, students missing exams, really bad hangovers, people killing each other at work, and ultimately…rioting that makes L.A. in ‘92 look like child’s play!). Americans also complain about the cost of gasoline, but will pay for a few ounces of something that costs much more. If we pumped coffee at the station, most certainly there’d be riots with a charge of approximately $32 per gallon!

So where does this costly fluid flow from? What are the origins of these TDF (to-die-for) beans? The legend is as follows:
Once upon a time in Ethiopia, there was a staid goat-herder named Kaldi who herded equally staid goats. One evening, the goat-herder was surprised to discover that his goats had failed to return to their stable. He went out into the night to look for them. His surprise was significantly intensified when he finally came upon his herd: his goats were gathered together and appeared to be dancing vigorously in the moonlight.

Perplexed, the goat herder discovered that they were munching on the red berries of a dark leaved shrub. He concluded that this was the cause for their energetic movements. By this time, the goat herder was quite hungry himself, and a fair bit sleepy. Perhaps because this, he decided to throw caution to the wind, and joined his goats in eating the mysterious fruit.

Sometime later, a neighbourhood monk came upon this unique group composed of goat herder and goats dancing about with unabashed glee. Coming to the same conclusion as the goat herder, the monk decided to bring back some of the berries to the monastery. Being more scientifically minded then Kaldi or his goats, he conducted various experiments on the berry before trying it out himself. Trying various preparation methods, he particularly enjoyed one combination where he would boil the roasted berries, leaving behind a steaming brew. After a few sips, the monk found that he could now pray long into the night without getting drowsy. So he spread the word about this wonderful drink across Ethiopia, and across the world.
Certain elements of this story might be embellished, but I think the basic kernel is true viz. the dancing goats part. Everything else is probably mere conjecture.

Nearly 12 million Ethiopians work on either the 300,000+ peasant owned farms or the 19,000 state owned farms. The country has a rich coffee heritage and maintains a current global prowess (2nd in Africa and 7th in the world in exports) in the coffee market.

Did you forget to wash your hands?!

Yesterday, October 15, 2008, the first ever Global Hand Washing Day (GHWD) occurred. According to one report, nearly one million Ethiopian children (plus millions elsewhere) washed their hands to initiate this simple, yet profound celebration.

Estimates say that nearly 2.6 billion people do not have access to proper sanitation, nearly half of the population in Ethiopia. The lack of sanitation impacts the affluence of disease, which often leads to death. A horrific statistic states that nearly 4 million children die annually in developing countries because of simple diahorreal diseases and pneumonia – both of which can be severely minimized by basic sanitation.

The implementation of GHWD is an attempt to impact the thinking of children in Ethiopia and other developing countries. If an entire generation of people can apply the life-saving techniques of hand washing, then thousands perhaps millions will be saved from serious illness and/or death. The little things that we take for granted!

So…did you wash your hands yesterday?! Did you wash them today?! Are you teaching your children to wash their hands tomorrow?


2nd Homestudy Visit

Wow! It's been quite a busy week and it's only Wednesday! Yesterday we had our 2nd homestudy visit and the third one is tomorrow! We met at the office again yesterday and it went well. Pretty much just talked about our family history and growing up and how we met. I spent awhile this afternoon cleaning our house and making sure it was all in place for our home visit tomorrow. Our caseworker will come to our house and make sure it's "suitable for a child," and our meeting will be about our marriage! If you think of it, please pray for us! We have a lot going on and are so tired! We're waiting for our dossier packet to get here from our agency so we can start cranking out more paperwork. I'm officially stalking the mailbox! I can't wait to have this baby home! It seems so far away, but so close in other ways. He's often in my dreams and I can't wait to actually be able to walk across the hallway and get him out of his crib and snuggle him!


Our Adoption Ticker

Our adoption ticker is counting how long we've been in the process, not how long till the baby is home (although I sure do wish it was one month till he's home!) Sorry that's so confusing. Lots of people have asked. Once we get a referral and a travel date, we will turn the ticker to a countdown to when Baby Oren will arrive home! :)


Q&A 2- Where is He From?

"When we adopt our baby boy as an American family, he is both Ethiopian and American. It's a cool thing for us to learn more about where he came from- what the land looks like there, what people eat, how they dress, and what their holidays and traditions are. It will teach us more about our world and is a good way to show our son that we are interested in where he comes from. When he gets a little older we will show him on the globe where his birth country is (and maybe one day get to take him there), we can read books and stories about his birth country, and teach him interesting facts and information about his country. We are very proud of where our boy is from and want him to be proud of it too! It's also important for us to remember that he is an American just like you and me. He's not alone in having coming from another country- all Americans arrived at some point from another country-our grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. When our families got here, they made America their country, and when we adopt our son he will also become an American. He might even feel more American than Ethiopian which is why we want to be diligent in teaching him about his heritage and teaching him to be proud of it! It's a very important part of who we each are! But the most important thing to remember is where he will be when he's with us. After all, it isn't where we were born that makes us who we are; it's where we live, with the people who love us and care for us"

Adoption Q&A- Can you not have biological children?

We thought it might be fun to post a section of common adoption questions and answers. Obviously, we are no experts on the topic, but we have been reading a lot and chatting with other adoptive families, and are very excited about the things we're learning! So we figured we'd pass it on! We hope to address some other questions that people might have in regards to our adoption but might be too afraid to ask. Once I figure out how to get this into a category on the sidebar, I'll do that (so if you know, pass on the info!) The majority of the information and ideas for the Q&A's has come from "Cross-Cultural Adoption" by Amy Coughlin and Caryn Abramowitz. Since I don't want to spend a lot of time writing this as if it were a paper for a class, I will directly put in quotes the answers that come from the book. Why re-create the wheel!

Q&A 1 - Can you not have biological children?
As far as we know, we don't have any fertility problems. I mean, we don't know since we haven't attempted to get pregnant. Our adoption is a response to what we believe about the heart of God and what we understand about the Bible and the heart of Jesus. We believe that God has a tremendous heart for the downtrodden, the broken-hearted, the helpless, the weak, the orphan, and the widow. In response to that, we take James 1:27 very seriously and practically. We cannot think of a better way to live with the heart of Jesus than to adopt, care for, and love a child who otherwise would have been cast aside. After all, isn't that a physical picture of our adoption by God into His family? Where would we be without him initiating and pursuing us?


1st Homestudy Visit

We had our first homestudy visit this past Tuesday! We met with our social worker Heather and she is really sweet! We had been communicating over email for a couple weeks before our meeting, so it was nice to put a name with a face. We have most of our documents for the homestudy completed/already sent out, so the meeting wasn't very long. The agency was really neat. The entire place was covered with pictures of children who have been adopted through them. It was really cool to see all the families that have been created by adoption! We even found the daughter of some friends of ours on the wall! Heather asked us about our reasons for adoption and we were able to share a little bit of our testimony and how after what we know about the heart of God and what we understand about the Bible, how could we not consider adoption? Then she asked really general questions about our request for a baby, like gender, age, etc. We have requested a healthy, infant boy, as young as possible. We have two more meetings next week, one at the agency and the other one at our house! Hopefully by the 4th one, all of our documents will be done and in place!

It's Official!!

With much excitement we announce that our family will soon be growing to 3!!!
James 1:27 "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress..." It's official! We are adopting! We applied to an agency called Adoption Advocates International and were accepted this week! We are soooo excited!

We have chosen to adopt from Ethiopia. It is one of the highest need countries for adoption and has over 4.8 million orphans! Boys are the highest adoption need, so we have requested a healthy, infant boy, as young as possible.

Some might wonder, "why adopt?" but for us, it's not even a question. Due to what we know about the heart of God and what we understand about what it means to truly live a life with the heart of Jesus, the decision was easy for us. The only question was simply "when?" This past June the desire to adopt grew to an overwhelming one and we could sense the Lord leading us in this direction at this time in our lives. We have been praying continually about this and WOW, I never knew I could love someone so much whom I've never met! It's crazy that we have already cried tears of love, compassion, and concern for this little baby that we don't even know yet! I have dreams of what it would be like to hold him, but I wake up and can't remember what his little face looks like. We want to be with him so bad it hurts!

So, many are asking... when? We have begun the process of a home study, then after that we have to compile a huge packet of documents called a dossier. It will take a couple months to put together the dossier. So, all in all, we are looking for our baby to join our family next summer in 2009, or early fall 2009.

We have a BIG God, a powerful God, who is in control of all things. Our very specific, huge, God sized prayer request is that we can bring our baby home in early June so that he can meet our extended family at my cousin Jenny Boulet’s wedding on June 20th. That's really pushing it time wise, and falls much shorter than the time frame we were given. But the process in Ethiopia is currently going very smoothly and plus, God is ultimately in control! Would you join us in praying for an early June travel date? We realize that even if the Lord does not grant us this request, that His timing is always best.

One of our biggest joys has been the overwhelming amount of people who are sharing in our excitement and passion. It means the world to us! We love talking adoption, so don't be shy if you have questions you want to ask. We’d love to hear from you! We love you and thank you again for your excitement as we travel on this incredible adventure!