Wednesday, December 29, 2010

He did it again!

Why do I doubt? I mean, I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that this adoption is what God is calling our family to do, but I still sometimes doubt HOW it'll happen. How will we get 28 THOUSAND dollars in less than a year's time? That's a lot of money, on top of all our regular bills, something we couldn't obtain in ANY way without His help. He constantly reminds me that THIS - us adopting our child from Ethiopia - is His plan. His constant reminders, His constant dreams He gives me, His constant whispers in my ear, His breaking heart for the orphans that He's given both Michael and I, and His constant reminder that He will provide for this adoption BECAUSE it's His plan....

I have absolutely no reason at all to doubt. But I do. Hey, I'm human after all! I don't doubt anything other than us not being able to get the money needed. God knows my heart and knows that I want to do this adoption 100% debt free. I want to pay cash (or check!) for every single thing. There are tons of Christian organizations out there who offer 0% interest loans for adoption, but I really feel like we need to do this without any loans and thankfully, Michael feels the same way.

Anyway, just a few days ago, I was beginning to worry about the money again. We had several expenses coming up in just the next couple weeks/month and our adoption fund was depleting because of all the other expenses we've paid (a little over $2000). Michael and I prayed and again, God proved to us that He is our provider. He will provide just EXACTLY what we need. Thanks to a donation from an awesome family, we were able to pay off our ENTIRE home study yesterday! With their donation, we had the exact amount needed to pay it off...

Even more awesome, somehow we "overpaid" on our mortgage this year and just so happened to get a check back in the mail for the EXACT amount needed for our I-600A Immigration Fee and FBI fingerprints. Tell me that's not God! I dare you! :) How can both of those happen just by chance? To have the EXACT amounts? That's impossible without God, in my honest opinion...

Isn't it just amazing how He works, though?? You'd think by now I wouldn't doubt that we'd get the money needed because this is what? The third or fourth time He's done this? Just totally awesome and just total proof that when it's God's plan, all the right doors will open! I love how He works!! It's just humbling and awesome and has brought me to tears way too many times the past few months!

I'm SO excited for this next year and to see just how God works. He's given me lots of ideas and dreams on some things to do, and I can't wait to share with you all soon... If I don't blog again this week, our family wishes you a very safe and happy new year full of God's tremendous blessings!!!

Love in Christ,
Amanda

Monday, December 27, 2010

Home Study Update and T-shirts

I forgot to update ya'll on the home study! For those of you who aren't Facebookers, we had part 1 of our home study done last Thursday. Our home study social worker is very nice and helpful and we feel very comfortable with her doing our home study. After a lot of paperwork, a few signatures, and lots of questions, it was over! She was here for around 2 hours, and seemed very happy with our "interview". She said our family seems like a great match for an adopted child and she was extremely impressed with our "very well behaved children" and said "it's a direct reflection of how we are as parents". In the coming months, we'll be continuing to obtain all sorts of documentation, background checks, fingerprinting and whatnot. Then we''ll meet again with her, and hopefully finish up our home study report and get the dossier completed. I'm hoping we can get all of this done and the dossier submitted by my 25th birthday in April, so then we can finally be put on the waiting list for our child!

Also, we received our shirts last week! I LOVE them and they turned out to be just what I wanted! We mailed out all the pre-ordered shirts on Friday, so hopefully you all who ordered them will be receiving them soon! If you haven't ordered and are wanting to, you still can! We have a little over 100 shirts, sizes ranging from Youth XS-L and Adult S-2X. I have changed the cost to $20 (youth) and $25 (adult), which includes the shipping and handling (some people were getting confused with the shipping and handling costs, so I figured it'd be easier just to include it with the shirt cost!). 100% of the proceeds from the tshirt sales are going directly toward our adoption fund. We have several thousands of dollars worth of expenses coming up in just the next couple months, so the proceeds are going straight to those costs. If you're interested in ordering, please use the "Donate" button to the right and in the "notes" part of your donation form, include the quantity and sizes that you want. Some people have asked if they could just donate and not get a shirt, and I just wanted to clarify that, yes! That is definitely okay! We are grateful for ANY support!




Front:




Back:



Close up of letters, made from the word "tasfa" 
meaning hope in Amharic (Ethiopia's main language) 



Thank you again for everyone's support, love, and prayers! We appreciate it more than you'll ever know!


- Amanda

Friday, December 24, 2010

Despite being excited for Christmas...

I'm having a rough day today... I am so excited for Christmas and all the family time we're able to have (which lately has been rare - poor Michael leaves way before the kids and I wake up in the morning and lately hasn't been getting home until the kid are in bed), but my heart is also aching for our child in Ethiopia... I have a feeling this is gonna happen with every holiday we go through without him/her! It's so weird, to me, that I can long for a child I don't know, have never met, and have never even seen (except in dreams). God has definitely put a whole lot of love in my heart for this child... He's put a lot of love in our childrens' hearts as well! Aydan and Ilana both pray for their brother or sister daily; just the other day, I caught Ilana praying in her room, completely on her own (head bowed, eyes closed, and hands folded - the whole thing!), that God would please bring her brother or sister home for Christmas so he/she wouldn't be alone for Jesus' birthday. Makes me smile to see how God has put this love in her heart as well!

It just breaks my heart, though, to think about this child and all the children worldwide who are all alone for Christmas. Here we are, most of us getting together with family, enjoying all sorts of holiday festivities, presents (probably way too many), and tons of food, and there are literally MILLIONS (more than 147,000,000 to be exact) of lonely, hurt, malnourished, hungry children who have NOTHING and want nothing more for Christmas than a family. Just one person who will actually hold them. One person who will love them... I can't wait until we're able to bring our child home, But I still can't help but think of all the rest of the ones left behind... As Michael said just last night, "We won't be able to stop at one, will we?" He knows me way too well!

So, while you are enjoying this Christmas season with your family, friends, and loved ones, remember all the many children out there who are alone. Please take just a minute out of your busy day to pray for them. Please pray for our child that God has picked out for us, as well. Pray that he/she will be comforted and feel God's arms holding him/her until we are able to do it. Remember just how blessed you are and how much you have in comparison to the many children (and adults) worldwide. Most of all, remember what this Christmas season is really about. It's not the food, not the presents, or anything else; instead it's a holiday to remember the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ... It's amazing what a little tiny baby can do for this world!






Thursday, December 16, 2010

I Will Follow

Have you heard this song? It's a semi-new one by Chris Tomlin called "I Will Follow" (to watch it/listen to it, you may wanna pause the blog music down at the bottom of the page)



It's such an amazing song and really fits our life perfectly right now! When I first began to actively think about adoption, I had so many doubts. So many questions... How could we do this? What will people think? How can we afford it? Is this God's plan? God began opening our eyes more. Both Michael and I, together and separately, were constantly hearing, reading, or seeing things about international adoption. He began working on our hearts, as well, basically knowing that once we had our hearts in it, there was absolutely no way we could turn back. And boy did He know what He was doing!

Once we decided this was it, that this was what God wanted for our family, we basically handed everything over to God. Let Him take control. And doors upon doors began opening... We began following Him, loving those He loves (orphans). "All His ways are good, all His ways are sure. We will trust in Him alone."

Many have wondered where we're at in the process. As mentioned before, this is a LOOOONG process. We're just getting into the home study process and starting to obtain, order, and fill out documents. We've paid for our parent education classes, which are not your ordinary "how to parent" classes, and will be starting those soon. These include: Adopting The Older Child, Medical Issues in International Adoption, The Journey of Attachment, With Eyes Wide Open: A Preparation Guide to International Adoption, Conspicuous Families: Race, Culture and Adoption, along with a specific one on adopting from Africa. 


In the past two months, God has proven to me that He will provide for this adoption! Somehow, we have been able to pay over $2000 in adoption expenses. $2000 may not seem like much, but for us, that's huge! We never could've saved that much in two months if we tried. I'm still not sure how we did it. There's really no other explanation other than God! God is providing that extra money and also working in so many friends' and family's hearts and the outpouring of love and support and prayers have been incredible. We appreciate each and every one of you who have helped us, either by prayer or by monetary donation. We are blessed beyond belief! 


God is AWESOME!


Also, to those wondering, we should have the shirts by Christmas! I can't wait to see them!! We'll be sending out the pre-ordered (and paid for) shirts as soon as we can! Thank you!! If you're reading this for the first time and wondering what shirts I'm talking about, please check it out HERE.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving Thoughts

I haven't written in awhile and have had some people ask if anything new has happened. As of right now, not yet... We'll be sending out some paperwork for our home study and a check tomorrow and are hoping to begin that process soon. Otherwise, no new news on the adoption journey!

We celebrated Thanksgiving a few days ago and had a wonderful day with our family! This weather is definitely going to take some getting used to! Where we're from, we're used to Thanksgiving usually being cold and having to bundle up in coats! On Thursday it was in the mid 80's and we could wear shorts and t-shirts! We spent Friday getting a Christmas tree (we get real ones and will hopefully continue doing so - we absolutely love the tradition of picking one out as a family; not to mention the wonderful aroma they make!) and decorating the house on Saturday. It was an absolutely wonderful family weekend, which is something we've really needed...

Despite it being wonderful, I couldn't help but think all weekend of our precious little boy or girl thousands of miles away... Wondering if he (did I tell you that I think it will be a boy and that I had a dream about him?) is born yet and if he is, what would he be doing at this time? My heart ached, thinking that he is all alone, without his mommy or daddy and most likely with very little food... And here we were, enjoying our day with lots of our family surrounding us, eating a huge feast of food... Oh, how I SO wish he could be here in our home celebrating Thanksgiving with us, eating until his little heart (or tummy) is content! I don't know why, or even how, I ache for and love a child so much - one that I don't even know or have never even met! It's just incredible how God can put that love in my heart... All I know is that I absolutely canNOT wait until he is here with us.... And I pray (although it's very unlikely) that maybe, by some chance, he will be here for next year's Thanksgiving or Christmas.

I hope you all had an amazing holiday weekend! Also, just to let you know, you can still pre-order tshirts (for more info, just scroll down to look at some earlier posts) that we're selling as a fundraiser to raise money for the adoption. I planned on ordering them last Monday, but because of Thanksgiving, the company was closed for the whole week. So if anyone else wants to get an order in, please contact me at nunezfamilyadoption@gmail.com or via facebook! :) I'll hopefully be placing the order tomorrow!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Today is National Adoption Day

Many people throughout the United States are celebrating this day by holding adoption events, having parties celebrating their own adoptions, among many others.... I can't wait until we're able to celebrate this day with our very own addition to our family via adoption!

I'm also taking this day to be SO thankful to all that have helped and are helping us along this adoption journey. The love, support, and prayers we have received has been absolutely incredible and I must admit, very humbling for Michael and I. We're both the type of people who don't like asking for help because we're "do-ers".. We like to do things on our own, but obviously, and unfortunately, with Michael's salary, we can't afford to do all this on our own.... The amount of people willing to help either by prayer, donation, or fundraiser (which by the way, I'm taking pre-orders until today for tshirts and then will be selling them after we receive them, where shirt sizes will be first come first serve! Click HERE for more info) has been absolutely incredible and we're just in the beginning! God is SO good!

So I just wanted to say thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, to everyone who has been such a huge supporter of our adoption... You all have had Michael and I on our knees nightly praying in thanks and many times in tears... We feel so incredibly blessed and we're not sure how we'll ever be able to thank everyone enough. So today, I'm going to be thinking and praying for all our supporters and our loving family and friends. Because without you and without our amazing God, we would not be able to do this...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Check out the new graphic at the bottom of our blog! :)

So since starting this process, we've had several people ask if there's a way to know how much we're raising along the way. I thought it'd be cool to do some sort of graphic that I can update as we save, do fundraisers, and receive donations so that all of our followers and supporters can see how close their donations are getting us to our goal! The closer the airplane gets to Ethiopia and the more blue on the line, the closer we get to our goal! Hope you all like it! I think it's pretty cool, anyway! :)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

T-Shirt Pre-Order

Hey guys! We finally found a company to print our shirts, and it was yet another God-incident. This company actually started off when they decided to do their own t-shirt fundraiser... For what? Adoption, of course! How cool is that?

We are going to be ordering at least 100 shirts (in all different sizes from youth small to 3X), but we decided to offer a pre-order sale this week. If you want to order one, please e-mail us at nunezfamilyadoption@gmail.com with "T-Shirt Order" in the subject line and include your name, address, phone number, size and quantity of tshirts. We will then send you a paypal invoice in which you can pay via paypal, debit or credit card, or echeck.

If you pre-order, you can save $1-2 per shirt!

These will be ordered soon and take about 2 weeks to be made and delivered. We're hoping to have them by the beginning of December, but we will keep you updated when we get them!



Order from now until Friday, November 19 and $AVE!
Youth (S-L) - $16  $15
Adult (S-XL) - $20 $19
Adult (2X-3X) - $24 $22

(Plus $5 S&H for 1 shirt, $10 for 2 or more - 
Those in the Port Charlotte area, we will hand deliver for free!) 

If you have any questions, please comment below!

Thank you SO much for everyone who has expressed interest in these shirts! We appreciate all the love and support SO much. The comments have been so encouraging! We love you all!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

What is the Home Study and the Dossier?

What is a home study?
"The adoption home study is a detailed written report of your family compiled and prepared by a social worker. This can take three to six months to finish. The adoption home study requires the prospective adoptive family to gather different documents, answer several questions, and explore their reasons for adopting. Through a series of visits and interviews the social worker can get a complete picture of who you are and what life is like in your family." Our home study can take 2-4 months to complete

 What is a dossier?
A dossier (pronounced dah-see-ay) is basically a collection of documents and papers. This is what all has to go into our dossier and it can usually take 4-6 months to complete (I sure hope we can get it done sooner!). Once it's finished and completed, it is sent to the Secretary of State where it is certified ($10/document generally). After it has been certified, it is sent back to us, in which we sent it on to Children's Hope in St. Louis. It will be reviewed and sent to the MO Secretary of State to be certified. It will then be sent to a courier for Ethiopia in Washington, D.C. The courier for Ethiopia will walk the documents into the Department of State in Washington, D.C. to be authenticated. Upon return of the documents from the Department of State, the courier will then walk the documents into the Ethiopia Embassy, in Washington, D.C. for a second authentication. The embassy will add their stamp, signature and seal to the back of the Department of State page. Once the documentation process is completed, the dossier will be returned to Children's Hope, processed in their office and express mailed to the Children's Hope Coordinator in Ethiopia. That is when we get on the waiting list for a referral for a child!

So what all is in a dossier?
  • Letter of Introduction - a one page typed paper stating why we want to adopt from Ethiopia
  • Photos of us and our home - 6-8 pictures all on specific papers in specific ways
  • Photocopy of I-171H or 797C - Approval Notice from CIS and Fingerprint Expiration Dates (this must be notarized, certified and authenticated)
  • Original copy Home Study (notarized) and a copy of the license of the home study agency
  • Letter of Commitment (from the home study agency)
  • Employment Letters (letter from employer stating job title, salary, prospect of continuous employment, etc.) and a Letter of Non-Employment (for me, which is a letter stating that I don't work outside of the home and why)
  • Financial Statement (Basically stating our salary, net worth, liabilities and assets)
  • Birth Certificates (certified for every one of us, including the kids)
  • Marriage certificate (certified)
  • Medical letters (one for Michael and I - basically explaining that we're in good mental and physical health and free of any contagious diseases and are effectively able to parent)
  • Local Police Clearance - A separate report for each of us
  • Three Reference Letters
  • Letter of Obligation (a letter written to say that we will submit post adoption reports every year until our child is 18 years old)
  • Clear color copy of picture page of our passports

Why does adoption cost so much?

First of all! Great news! Yesterday we were approved with the adoption home study agency we applied with on Monday! We will be getting a packet of info probably today or tomorrow in which we'll send back our agreement signatures, a large check, and then we will be assigned a social worker to begin our home study!

 Secondly, I've had lots of people ask exactly what all will be happening in the coming months, how long it will all take, and how come the adoption will cost so much... Yesterday we got our adoption packet from Children's Hope International and it has the whole fee schedule that I'll be happy to share. I'll probably link this page to the links on the right and keep updating this as we pay them off so you all can see how much progress we're making! :) I'm going to make a separate post with what all will be happening in the next few months.



Fees
(red means paid)
  • Children's Hope International (CHI) Application Fee                                 $100
  • Florida Home Studies and Adoption Inc. Application Fee                          $250
  • CHI Agreement/Document Processing Fee                                                $900
  • Home Study Fees  (plus $.50/mi for social worker traveling to our home)   $1300
    • Post Adoption Reports                                                                    $750
    • Florida State Clearance Background Checks                                   $24/each
    • Medical Exams                                                                                $?
    • Parent Education Classes (10 hours)                                                $150
  • I-600A Immigration Fee                                                                            $750 
    • Fingerprints                                                                                     $85/ea
  •  Dossier Fee                                                                                             $3600
    •  Dossier Authentication Fee                                                             $500
  • International Program Fee                                                                         $7200
    • This includes translation, liaison with government and agency authorities, social services, development fee, facilitation, adoption and travel coordination, physicians, orphanage fee and child care
  • In Country Fees 
    • Upon Referral of child                                                                     $450
    • Visa medical exams for child                                                           $100
    • U.S. Visa and photo                                                                       $400
    • Passport                                                                                         $55
    • Birth Certificate                                                                               $30
  • Travel Costs
    • Air Fare (Round trip US to Ethiopia for TWO trips)                        $6000-$8000
    • House of Hope Guest House (incl. tax and meals - 5 days ea. trip)   $1000-$1250 
    • Cost for adopted infant to return (on lap for child under 2)               $300
    • Cost for seat of child over 2 are about 75% of adult fare      Approx.$1000-$1500
  •  Other Costs
    • Document Certification Fees (Notarizing and such)                         $Varies
    • Transportation and hotel stay in Awassa for birth parent meeting     $150 (approx)
Total Approximate Cost:  $25,000-$28,000

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fundraising... T-shirts?

So we've read lots of ideas on fundraising, and one of them that we really liked was a tshirt fundraiser. I have created a design that we both really liked and were just curious what everyone else's thoughts were and if it'd be worth doing this as one of our first fundraisers. We'd be selling them for $20 each (for S-XL) or $24 for (XXL & XXXL). We're also looking into the prices for kids sizes, because I know Ilana already wants one!

This design is obviously the continent of Africa, and the blue heart (matching the one on our blog) is right over Ethiopia. The letters of HOPE is made up of tiny little words saying "tasfa". Tasfa means hope in Amharic (Ethiopia's language).






Then, written on the back is "I helped defend the fatherless..."




So anyway - what do ya'll think? Questions, comments, tips, advice? Please be honest! :)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Today Is Orphan Sunday

Today is Orphan Sunday. Lots of churches and other organizations around the nation are doing special services, sermons, or even just showing special videos about orphans and the need for us to help them. Unfortunately I found out about it too late to be able to do anything with our church... Even so, I woke up this morning thinking about blessed I am:


I am blessed to wake up in a nice warm bed, with not only clean sheets, but a thick, warm, clean comforter. 

I am SO blessed that I woke up and was able to snuggle with my children in our bed when they woke up. (Many of the orphans in Ethiopia are only fatherless and lots have biological mothers. Unfortunately the mothers either just don't have the resources to take care of their babies or they're sick and dying, so they have to give them to orphanages. I just cannot imagine having to give my babies away knowing I couldn't afford to keep them or that I was so sick that I could not take care of them anymore... It breaks my heart to think of not being able to cuddle with my kids every morning and my heart breaks for these mothers...)

I am blessed that I have a nice clean kitchen to be able to cook and bake in. And that I have the resources to be able to make my kids cinnamon rolls this morning.

I am blessed that even though those rolls look and smell so yummy, I have a choice to not eat them (I am choosing to fast today and instead of eating, taking that time to pray fervently for orphans around the world, for our little boy or girl, and for God to speak to me on how to help in more ways than adoption). There are so many out there who don't have the choice to not eat - they just don't have food. Period. They CAN'T eat.

I am so blessed that we are able to have TWO vehicles when there are people in Ethiopia that can't even fathom having ONE. And with these two vehicles, we have the money to afford the gas to drive to church separately (Michael's playing on the praise team, so he had to be there early).

I am so blessed that we have the FREEDOM to go to church every week. Without having to worry about being persecuted or even killed for worshiping our amazing God. 

I am blessed with an incredible, handsome husband who loves God, is a fabulous spiritual leader of our home, lives to provide for his family, and is honestly one of the best fathers I've ever known...

I am blessed with two amazing, beautiful kids who mean the absolute world to me. They are some of the greatest joys in my life.

Lastly, I am blessed that God has chosen me to be the mother to one of the many beautiful children in Ethiopia. I am SO blessed that he/she will be able to call me: "Mommy"...





So... Today is Orphan Sunday. What can you do?

-Pray: Pray for the orphans around the world. Pray for God to set the lonely in families (Psalm 68:5-6a "A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families...")

-Give: There are lots of organizations out there that you can give to. Here are just a few (click on the links for more info):
         -Compassion International - You can sponsor a child for just $38 per month to provide not only the daily needs of a child, but also help them learn about Jesus along the way
         -Show Hope - Show Hope is an orphan care and adoption fund organization created by Steven Curtis Chapman (a famous Christian singer).
         -Operation Christmas Child - With Christmas coming up, Operation Christmas Child is starting again. Pack a shoebox with simple toiletries and gifts for a child who won't be receiving any Christmas gifts at all! This is so simple to do and can make such a great impact on a child! Click the link on where you can drop your box off if your church is not collecting them (Collections are going from Nov 15-Nov 22)

Remember: Remember how blessed you are. Even when times are tough, remember how much better you have it than so many of the orphans worldwide...






Lastly, God calls us to care for the orphans. There are so many scriptures supporting adoption and orphan care, which I'll make a post about sometime, but for now I'll leave you with this:

Ilana learned a new Bible verse yesterday. Since we've been talking so much about orphans, she wanted to learn a verse about them:

video

"True religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans..." James 1:27

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Once again, God provides...

You'd think by now, after all of the nudges and blessings God has provided so far, that I wouldn't have any doubts throughout this process. Satan's working hard at telling me that we can't do it. That we won't have the money... Just two nights ago, after speaking with the home study agency (where I thought we just had to have half the amount for right now) I found out that we needed the full amount within the next few weeks. Upon calculating how much we had saved and how much more we'd be getting in the next couple weeks, we were a thousand dollars short. I began panicking, wondering how we'd get THAT much in just a short amount of time... So what'd I do? I prayed, of course! Prayed fervently that God would somehow help us obtain that. Even throughout praying, I was still doubtful that we could do it and figured we'd have to put starting the home study off until after the first of the year... Michael reassured me to trust God and that God has been calling us to this, so He will provide...


Once again, God amazed me with his perfect timing and perfect blessings... The following evening, Michael got a phone call from his best friend, who is like his brother. They talked for awhile and then he announced that he and his wife wanted to send us a check to help out with our adoption. A check in the EXACT amount that we were needing... When Michael hung up the phone, about ready to cry, he explained to me what they were sending us, and I was literally speechless and almost in tears myself. Once again, God prevailed and met our exact needs by blessing us through this amazing couple... How can I possibly doubt that this is a total God thing? NO one knew the amount that we were needing, besides God... What are the chances that someone would give us the exact amount needed at the perfect time? Slim to none... This was no coincidence! This was a God-incidence!

Not only that, but we've gotten numerous messages from people asking for our address, that are wanting to help. Some people that are good friends, some we haven't talked to in years, and some we don't even know. I am just amazed by the outpouring of love and support that everyone is showing us and am absolutely humbled by this all... Michael and I are just in amazement of how God is working throughout this process... How awesome is He?!

To everyone who is giving, whether monetarily or in the gift of prayers, from the bottom of our hearts... Thank you! We will never be able to repay the kindness that we are receiving, other than to pay it forward in the future....

We love you all,
Michael and Amanda


P.S. Thanks to a great suggestion from someone, I have put up a donate button to the right of the page so you can donate via paypal or debit/credit card - cool! I didn't know you could do that! This will go into our Paypal account, which will be directly deposited into our adoption fund account! Thanks for that tip!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

We have been approved!

We sent out our application packet to Children's Hope International about a week ago and I got a phone call today from a number I didn't know. I almost NEVER answer numbers I don't know because they're almost always telemarketers... Something in my heart said to answer and it was one of the directors from the Ethiopia adoption program, from Children's Hope! She said they got our application and she just wanted to ask a few questions (basically why we chose Ethiopia and questions like that). I answered every question she had with full honesty and she said "Ok, this sounds wonderful. I'd like to congratulate you for being accepted into our adoption program!" And then proceeded to tell me what was next and told me to be on the lookout for a very large packet of information and more papers. She also said to go ahead and begin our home study, which is a long process of lots of paperwork, medical clearances, extensive background checks, etc. This is our next big cost, which will be about $2500...

Now we are officially going to be thinking about and starting fundraisers to help offset some of the costs (approx. $30,000 total). We would absolutely love to do this debt free and be able to pay 100% of the costs with cash/checks and we know it's totally possible and that God will provide... How can you help? Do you have any ideas of what we can do to help raise money? If so, please e-mail us at nunezfamilyadoption@gmail.com or reply to this blog! :) One thing that I have done for a few years is Day Lily Designs, a photocard design business. I am currently running a special right now for the month of November in honor of National Adoption Month, and 100% of the proceeds are going to our adoption fund and also to help support orphans worldwide. You can find more information here . If you or anyone you know is looking for photocards for the Christmas season, I'd love to make them for you! :)

We are both just SOOO excited to finally officially start this entire adoption process and cannot wait to see God working along the way! :) God is SO good!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Why Ethiopia?



Several people have asked me why we chose Ethiopia. A few don't necessarily agree with it, some have no response and some have even asked why we don't adopt from the United States when there are so many kids here who need homes. While I can't argue with that comment, I will try to explain why we chose Ethiopia...

When we first began truly thinking of adoption a few months ago, we originally were wanting to adopt from Vietnam. We found out, though, that Vietnam is currently closed for adoption and no one knows when it will open back up. As I began to do more research, God began speaking to my heart. He began calling us to the ones with little chance of adoption. While most people adopt from  the United States or Asian countries, God was leading us in a different direction... Towards Africa, more specifically, towards Ethiopia... Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries in the world, and 3 years ago, it was reported that there was a staggering 5 MILLION orphans. That is just a little less than the population of our home state of Indiana. Imagine if all of Indiana's people were actually orphans... Absolutely breaks my heart to know that there are that many children without parents, just in one country...

Yes, we could adopt from the United States, and while I have no problems with other people doing it, it's just not what God put in our hearts... I believe that orphans and foster children in the United States have a lot more potential and opportunities than the orphans in Africa, specifically Ethiopia. Did you know that in Ethiopia, out of every 10 babies, one dies before their first birthday? And that out of every SIX children, one dies before they turn five! This is why we feel led to adopt here. Ethiopian adoption is becoming more and more popular, but still, many couples are opting for the infants, and the older children and/or sibling groups are getting left behind. I have absolutely no problem with people adopting infants and little ones, but God has opened Michael and my hearts for any child He wants to give us - baby, toddler, or young child. We are keeping our hearts open for any child, boy or girl, from infancy to 3 years of age (due to agency requirements because of our children's age).  It honestly breaks our hearts to know that there are children Ilana and Aydan's age who have no mommy or daddy. Who have never known what unconditional love feels like, and most importantly, who have not gotten the chance to know our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ's love...

What's even more amazing, lately,  is seeing Ilana's heart for the orphans at such a young age. We have obviously been talking a lot about orphans around our home and when explaining to her about how there are lots of little girls and boys her age who are far away who don't have a mommy OR a daddy, her heart broke as well as her eyes filled up with tears and she asked why. I explained that they're just waiting a little longer for God to give them a family, and her response was for us to bring them all home so we could be ALL of their family... Oh, how I love that little girl with a heart so big! And oh, how I wish we could bring all of them  home...

Anyway, long story short, after lots of prayer, "God nudges" (or shoves sometimes!), and research, we chose to adopt our little girl or little boy from Ethiopia.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

God's perfect provision and timing...

So I had a total God moment today... While I am extremely excited and know this is God's call to our family and have absolutely no doubts about that, I have been having doubts about where the money for this adoption is going to come from... Some days I just worry how we can afford this when it's going to cost more than a brand new car, but God never fails to show me that He IS taking care of us and that He WILL provide everything we need for this adoption!

The next step after applying (which we should hear back in the next couple weeks if we have been approved for the Ethiopia adoption program with CHI) is the home study. What is a home study? Basically, it's a screening of our family, home life, background, finances, etc. They do personal interviews with us, check our home, do extensive background checks, fingerprints, and lots more. It's a long process with lots of paperwork... Anyway, this isn't an inexpensive thing either and the price varies per state... The agency that we will be using requires half of the money down to start it and then the rest towards the end. I had been worried about if we'd have enough saved by the time we do the home study and although we started saving for this not too long ago, I still wasn't sure... So, upon adding everything up, I was amazed to find out that we have the exact amount needed to start the home study. Literally to the EXACT dollar. Tell me that is not a God thing! When I calculated it, I literally got goosebumps and almost started crying... This was just Him telling me not to worry... Isn't our God an amazing God?!

That said, we will need to start raising money soon because unfortunately, we can't do it all on our own. :( Anyone have any great fundraising ideas? Please feel free to share! Also,  to anyone who doesn't know, I make photocards (among other designing needs) and have a facebook page HERE  I will be running a special on all my cards from Nov 1 - Nov 30, in honor of National Adoption Month, where 100% off the profits will be going towards adoption and orphan care. You can read the full details here! :) Please feel free to contact me for more info or pass this info along to your friends/family!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Turning in the application already!

After many prayers as a family and couple, Michael and I have made our decision on the adoption agency and country from where we are adopting. What's amazing is that with this agency and country, we are able to start the process 6 months before we turn 25, which means NOW! I was overjoyed when I heard this news and upon praying even more, and after another "God shove" we have decided to go ahead and turn in our application with Children's Hope International (which you'll probably be seeing me refer to as CHI).

You see, when e-mailing back and forth with the program director for the country we will be adopting from,  she gave me all sorts of information and asked me lots of questions. When she said we would be able to start the process now, I was excited, but began doubting, wondering, and praying "Wow, should we start now? Should we go ahead and turn in our application, or should we wait and pray more? I'm not sure what to do!" Before I even finished my prayer, I heard an e-mail notification. I finished my prayer and went to check, and saw I got an e-mail from Show Hope (the adoption and orphan care organization Steven Curtis Chapman created). I opened it and the first part of the e-mail said this:


"YOU are God's Plan for the Orphan!
The United Nations reports that the number of orphans around the world 
waiting for help is more than 140 million. This global crisis is present even
in the United States where over 120,000 children now wait to be adopted 
from the foster care system. But God commands every Christian to act and to 
care for orphans and we would like you to join us this fall as we serve the orphan....."


How is that not an answer to what I was just praying about? And there's no way that could've been a coincidence that it was e-mailed at that exact moment... I told Michael about it, and he confirmed my thoughts. Now is the time. This is God's calling for our lives and we are ready to follow Him...

So, I'm sure you're wondering what country we decided to adopt from? We have submitted our application in for adopting from Ethiopia. We could adopt an infant, but we have decided to keep our hearts open for whatever child God has for us, and are willing to any child under the age of three of any gender. We know, without a doubt, that God already has the perfect child picked out for our family. We are so excited to begin this journey and cannot wait for the day that we can bring our little girl or boy home to his/her forever family! Ilana is just as excited and wants us to bring home a brother for Aydan and a sister for her, that way they can each have someone to sleep with. :) Oh, how I wish we could!!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

We're adopting! Why?

I have always dreamed of adopting internationally, ever since I was a child. I thought it'd be something neat to do, but never fully realized the complete need for it until a few years ago... I truly believe God has always put it on my heart to do this and it's something Michael and I talked about doing before we were even married and before we had our own children. It was sort of just a dream for awhile, but became a more active thought after the birth of our son, Aydan. We found out that I wouldn't be able to get pregnant again, and if by some crazy chance I did, I'd have too many health complications for myself and the baby, that it would be best to not even try... That broke my heart, as we've always wanted a large family, and I've always seen us with 4 or 5 children... So, through God's guidance and direction, we've decided to make that dream of adoption become a reality...


Just a warning - this may sound completely crazy and I'm sure many of you won't believe it, and believe me! I almost didn't either as time went on and began doubting it. Thankfully I wrote it all down as it happened, well knowing that Satan would put all these doubts in my head, trying to make me believe it didn't happen... On June 28, 2010, I had a dream, and in my dream I was singing praises to God. I woke up with a Chris Tomlin song in my head, at 12:09am and laid there thinking about how great it was to wake up with a great Christian song in my head, even though I was tired and it was just after midnight! As I continued laying there, wide awake, out of nowhere, I heard God speak to me, saying word for word "Great things are going to happen to you." Of course, knowing me, who is extremely impatient, didn't reply with "Wow! Really?" or something more "holy" or whatever, I replied with a simple "When??" His response was "Just wait." To which I almost had to laugh, because it was like a little joke He was trying to play on me. He knows I hate waiting, but I'm sure that was part of His plan - to teach me patience! I finally fell back asleep and woke up with part of a song stuck in my head:

"I’ve seen dreams that move the mountains
Hope that doesn’t ever end
Even when the sky is falling
And I’ve seen miracles just happen
Silent prayers get answered
Broken hearts become brand new
That’s what faith can do."

As time went on, I thought day in and day out about what happened and what great things God could be talking about. I started feeling "God nudges", as our pastor calls them, and they started occurring almost daily. Before too long, these nudges began changing into something more like shoves... I began having all sorts of dreams and lots of "god-incidences" began happening. Eventually, I opened up to Michael about it all, and found out he'd been having the same types of nudges and "god-incidences".... About what? Nothing other than international adoption!

We began praying and actively thinking about it. I began researching and getting excited about the possibility. Lots of my research just confirmed how we definitely need to do it. Did you know that there are more than 143 MILLION orphans throughout the world? And those are only the ones accounted for! It breaks my heart to think of how many unloved and unwanted children there are out there, when I'm here, desperately wanting one and loving them, even without knowing them! Did you know that with almost every breath you take, one orphan child dies from lack of nutrition, water, and most importantly, love?

But as I began researching adoption agencies and saw just how much it would cost us (international adoption averages 25-35 thousand dollars!!), I began having doubts. How would we afford it? Michael's job certainly doesn't pay THAT well! But as we continued praying about it, we felt God telling us that if this was His plan, He was going to open all the right doors and make it happen and provide for us... So we're trusting Him completely, like it says in Philippians 4:19, God will supply all our needs for this!

Anyway, this blog was created by us so everyone, near and far, can keep up with our adoption journey! It will be a long drawn out process, and averages out to take at least 18 months from start to finish, usually even longer. We won't be able to start most of the process until April, when I turn 25, as most countries to adopt from have a minimum age of 25...


Please pray for us during this journey!
Love in Christ,
Amanda


Here's a video that really touches my heart and explains a little why we are doing this.


True Religion from Christian Alliance for Orphans on Vimeo.