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 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 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.

(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:

"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 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!