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,

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.