Sunday, December 28, 2008

snow days

Happy Birthday Baby Jesus!
"Nippy" the snow dog

Snowman

Tomorrow we will be attempting to get our fingerprints done for USCIS again. We have had to cancel twice due to snow. Also our dossier was received and reviewed. One mistake was found because I accidentally sent 3 copies of one document instead of 1 original and 2 copies. I had to UPS the missing form on Xmas eve which means we are still not officially on the waiting list. When I spoke with Julie, our case worker, she said we would be approximately 20 on the boys and 30 on the girls lists. She is out of the office until January 5th so we won't hear anything until then.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Dossier sent it!

Exactly 3 months from sending off our contracts, I was back at the UPS store sending off our dossier. I am amazed that we were able to complete it so quickly. Now we move from this busy paperwork season to a season of waiting. Once our dossier is approved we will be placed on the waiting list. Since we are not choosing a boy or girl we will be placed on both lists. It is really weird not having a due date like you do in pregnancy. We have no gauge as too how long we will be waiting. People that are getting referrals now have been on the list approx 5-6 months. The wait can be up to 8 months as well. Even after we have a referral it is up in the air a bit as to how long it will be before we travel. too be continued...

Friday, December 5, 2008

Approved!

Home Study Approved! Planning on sending our dossier as soon as we get the home study.

Edge of a pool

Our 7th Wedding anniversary is coming up and we have a tradition of buying each other Xmas ornaments that symbolize something special that year. So today I hit the mall to find that perfect one. I knew exactly what I was looking for: something that symbolized our adoption (a black baby or child ornament). I went to 4 stores that carry ornaments. Not even ONE of them had a child ornament that was anything but white. Only one store had a ornament of a black angel and that was hallmark. I think it was the first time it really hit me that our child will see this type of thing all the time. I was aware of the obvious struggles like mean comments by a classmate or body image struggles. I just didn't realize to the micro-level our child will be aware of their differences all the time. I feel like I am on the edge of a swimming pool of understanding racial struggles. (I'm not quite sure how to say this). I know our transracial transnational adoption is going to change our lives but I am still on the edge of the pool. Very soon we will jump in, immerse ourselves. We will not be able to ignore how our eyes will be opened. It reminds me of the first time you visit a 3rd world country. You cannot return home and think the same way. On some level you have changed. You have experienced things and seen things that change you at the core. I have always heard about white privilege and maybe even scoffed it a bit because I didn't understand it. I am on the edge of that pool knowing that very soon God is going to allow me to see things my heart was never ready for.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Transracial Adoption

I have been reading this book called "In Their Own Voices: Transracial Adoptees Tell Their Stories". I find this book to be insightful yet very challenging. Most of the stories I have read so far make me feel like I shouldn't be adopting a black child. The children would have preferred to be adopted by a black family. Then I think, wait a minute...We may not look like the best but God has called us to this task. David didn't look the part to win over Goliath. Abraham and Sarah didn't look the part to have a child so late in life. The list goes on. God frequently chooses the unlikely to bless others. No we are not black and never will be even close. In fact I think we are a white as can be. Neither of us can Tan even if we try. For some reason not fully revealed to us, God has chose this unlikely family living in Mountlake Terrace to search the world for there next child.

Home Study completed

We had our final meeting with JoAnn last Tuesday and she has already sent us the first draft. I still cannot believe we managed to get our home study done in one week. We are looking forward to mailing in our dossier.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Visit #2- Check

We just finished our 2nd home study visit which was also the home walk through. Before both of our visits I feel all nervous and kind of crazy and then when it happens its no big deal. Our social worker, JoAnn, has a great calm spirit and brings peace to the situation. We all had lunch and visited and then Andrew had his one-on-one interview. He sometime reminds me of a teenage boy. I ask "how did it go?", expecting to hear ALL about it. He responds, "good." That's it. I have to ply the rest out of him which still isn't much. Oh well, he says it went good. I guess I'll read about it when I read our home study. We plan on finishing the home study next tuesday the 18th!!!! I cannot believe only 2 months ago we sent in our contracts. God has been so good to us, helping us to be so productive. Once it is finished we will send in our dossier and be placed on the waiting list. WOW!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Adoption- Greater than the universe (John Piper)

I found this short video on a fellow blogger's site. please watch- it is about 5 mins.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Home Study not at home

Tonight we had our first home study visit. I assumed they were all in your home, hence the name. This is in fact not true. We met in Bellingham in a small cozy office with squishy couches, decorated with pictures of adopted families. It was nice. I didn't see dust I should have removed or a random toy hidden in the cushions. It was as relaxing as I can imagine a interview on my life can be. Now this FRIDAY (yes, that is in 2 days!), our social worker is coming to our house for the inspection and Andrew's one-on-one interview. I should be freaking out. I work all day tomorrow and am cooking for community group on Thursday. I still haven't grocery shopped or put away dishes from this morning. When I look around at the random toys, which seem to be arranged like an obstacle course, and think hmmm...how is this going to get all clean. Thankfully I have an amazing husband who manages to take wonderful care of our children and clean the house. The past 2 weekends I have worked, when I have gotten home the kids were in bed and he was moping the kitchen. What a beautiful sight! Next Tuesday we will again head up north to Bellingham and have our last meeting. Hopefully God will bless her fingers to write quickly and accurately and we will be able to send in our dossier within the next few weeks. Please be praying for Andrew and I portray ourselves accurately and that God will give us glory strength to get through this week with joy and not frustration.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Home Study

We have our first home study visit scheduled for Tuesday the 11th. I am excited but also nervous. I really have no idea what to expect. Our social worker said the first visit would be about 3 hours. Wow! I'll write how it goes afterwards.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Exciting news!

We received our business permit for the store. Hopefully the build out process will go smoothly and we can open soon.

Also, a wonderful woman I work with gave me some beautiful jewelry to sell for our adoption. What a surprising blessing!

Discouraging news

We received this email from a case worker at our agency. It is discouraging to us but also to the children waiting for families.
"Over the last month we have heard rumors that Ethiopian government was working on changes in the processing of adoptions—this is always a possibility so of course needed to wait for confirmation before fully understanding what this could look like. In the last few days we have received information on additional procedures that the Ethiopian government has decided to implement. This involves centralization of the adoption process. Unfortunately, the goal of the new implementation is aimed at minimizing the number of children adopted internationally. Due to these changes, please note that the timeframe of your adoption will be impacted and the waiting time for travel following referral will be lengthened. Even with this new step we will continue to advocate for these adoptions to be completed in the quickest and smoothest manner. "
It is hard to understand why the government is implementing these new changes. It is disappointing to hear we will have to wait even longer to meet our child. I just keep telling myself that God is in control of which child and when it all happens. I cannot control even the smallest detail. I am again reminded that when God calls us to walk down a path, he does not give us the whole picture. We are to simply obey each step of the way.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

waiting...patiently?

Our paperwork has been received. We are just waiting for our social worker to call us and set up the home study appointments. There is so much hurry up and wait business in adoption. In a way it is so much like pregnancy. Sorry for the guys reading this..... when you are trying to get pregnant you are waiting to ovulate and then you do your part and wait again to find out if your pregnant. Then you wait again to find out if the pregnancy is healthy. etc, etc, etc. It's a fine balance between waiting with trust in God's perfect timing and wanting to do everything possible to make things happen. So here we are... waiting.

Isaiah 40:30-31
"Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint."

Monday, October 13, 2008

More Thoughts on Moses

Since we will be spending the entire year in the Life of Moses at BSF (bible study fellowship), the 2 of you who read this blog will be hearing a lot about Moses. Every day I am amazed at how much I am learning through this amazing story. This past week I have been thinking a lot about Moses' objections to God's calling and Gods responses. I really see this echo in my life as we objected (at first) to God's calling for us to adopt.

1st objection: "Who am I?" Ex 3:11
God's response: "I will be with you" Ex 3:12
2nd objection: "Who should I say has sent me?" Ex 3:13
God's response: "Tell them, 'I AM has sent me'" Ex 3:14
3rd objection: "What if they don't believe me" Ex 4:1
God's response: He gave Moses 3 miracles to perform. Ex 4:2-9
4th objection: "I am slow of speech and tongue- not eloquent" Ex 4:10
God's response: "I will help you speak and will teach you what to say." Ex 4:12
5th objection: "O Lord, please send someone else to do it." Ex 5:13
God's response: Anger. "I will send Aaron to speak for you." Ex 4:14-16

When we first felt the calling to adopt we had many objections. Money, time, house space, car space, college tuition, ability, culture, money, time, money, time, etc. There are so many reasons why we shouldn't open our house and hearts to another person. Just like Moses we presented our questions to God and he continually debunked our objections. Our culture tells us to hoard for ourselves or we will lose what we have. Jesus tells us that we should not store up treasures on earth but in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21). Our culture says only to love our own families and not any one else. Jesus tells us to love our NEIGHBORS as ourselves. Our culture says to do whatever necessary to get ahead financially. We have been told to trust the Lord to provide and spend a great deal on a human life.

God is so faithful to what He calls us to. I pray that you who read this think about what God is calling you to and how you're objecting. Maybe it's time to stop objecting and trust God's promises. What if Moses just kept objecting to God's calling?

Home Study Paperwork sent in!

I am getting to be friends with the guys at UPS. I am there at least twice a week sending of documents. Charlie seems to think that there are fish inside because as soon as we pull up he says, "fishhhhhhh, fishhhh". Strange. Anyways, today we sent off our home study documents and our education requirements. All we can do for now is wait. Once our social worker gets all our documents we will start our home study visits. I have been told that there are about 4 visits one week apart from each other. So hopefully we will be done with our home study and can turn in our Dossier in 1.5-2 months. The dossier is all the necessary paperwork that will be sent to Ethiopia to formalize our adoption. After our dossier is received and reviewed we will be put on the waiting list. Currently the wait list time is about 5 months but up to 8 months. After we get a referral it takes another few months until we can travel to pick up our child. Wow!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Our big boy

Fields of the Fatherless

I just read this great book. It is called "Fields of the Fatherless", written by Tom Davis. I wanted to share a few ideas and quotes:

on pg. 81: "Here's the number again: 143 million (orphans). I know that seems like a lot, but not compared to the number of professed Christians living on the earth. That number is 2.1 billion. There are 159 million people who claim to be Christians in the United States alone. I know you see where I'm heading, but is it so far fetched? With so many Christians in the world, is it so far out of the realm of possibilities to imagine every one of those orphans being adopted into a family just as God has adopted us? If only 7% of professing Christians around the world responded, every single orphan in the world would have a home."

pg. 1
"In this world you are an orphan-
eargly anticiapting you adoption as God's child.
In this world you are a widow-
longing for a reunion with you Bridegroom.
In this world you are a stranger-
a pilgrim waiting to become a citizen of heaven.
And in this world, God has called you to care for the orphan, the stranger, and the widow."

pg. 87
" There is a part of my heart that is empty right now. I know that I have another child, a daughter who is waiting for me. Instead of caring for her by eating right, exercising, not gaining the usual fifty-plus pounds, I must instead pray, dream, and wait. So I'm trying to use this time to dream about what this new type of motherhood will be. Instead of newborn moments, I will have other time with her. I will laugh, love, and care for her as my daugther to me By God, not of my flesh but of my heart."

I hope that one of you out there reading this may be encouraged to read this book or better yet to be called into action to love and support the world's orphans, widows and strangers.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

impact on our kids- all of them



Sometimes I look at our kids and realize how little they really are. They really do deserve and need much of our time. I second guess our decision to adopt with our kids so young thinking, "How will I have enough for 3? or Will our kids suffer because of having a new baby so soon? Do we really have the resources for more children?" I think God is telling me "No, you don't have enough. You need me everyday and all the time. You are going to be pushed farther than ever and will need me more than ever. I am the God of Abraham, Issac, Jacob, Amber, Andrew, Emelia and Charlie. I know what is best for your children and all the children in the world. I am their maker and keeper." So when people ask how we are going to do it, I guess I DO know. We are going to do it because our God is so faithful and gracious. If my kids have to share their mommy and daddy a little more or not have the floor mopped every day (or every week), or wipe their own bums. The results are not up to me. I will give what I have (whether in abundance or lacking) and trust that God will meet the needs of my children as well. God's plan and story are so much bigger than me. Maybe Emelia and Charlie won't play 2 sports, girl scouts and music classes but they will know what it means to share, to be compassionate, and to love other first. They hopefully will look back on their childhood and be thankful that they participated in this plan (willingly or not). Please pray for their hearts as we all prepare to expand once again.
Dear little one,
I don't know you yet. I don't even know if you are formed. But I know a big God, a HUGE God and He has orchestrated this beautiful plan for your life. Just like baby Moses was born to Hebrew parents, you are born to Ethiopian parents. This will be a blessing to you and many. Also like baby moses, God will bring you to our home to be adopted. We will teach you about this God and pray that you also chose to follow Him. Because of your double heritage, I believe you will be better able to relate to people. your compassion will extend like the ocean. I cannot wait to see how God uses you. We are working hard to finish the necessary paperwork so that we can come a hold you. I pray for you all the time and ask God to help you hear my voice. As if I am in the womb with you. That you will know the voice of your physical mother and of my voice, your forever mother. Sweet baby, I wish I could be the vessel to carry you and protect you but I cannot. Like I said before, this is not about me.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sweet relief! The hubby is home!

Andrew is home now. He was out of town all last week attending WineStyles training. It was a great but challenging week. We are all so happy to have him home.
Things are moving along in our adoption world. I was fingerprinted down at the police station for my FBI clearance on Friday. We have ordered all our birth certificates and marriage licences. I have started the 52 pages of questions to fill out for our homestudy. So much done and yet soooo much more to do. Tomorrow I have a phone conference with our case worker to discuss details of the homestudy and dossier. Hopefully this will help to simplify the process.
Today at work I took care of a patient from Ethiopia. It was wonderful to hear her perspective of the country and it's people. They gave me their email and phone numbers so that their family in Ethiopia can meet us when we fly there. Such wonderful kind people.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Big party in Heaven- September 12, 2008

This week has been so full of joy. A very dear friend of mine accepted Christ a few nights ago. It was one of those moments you dream of happening and when it finally does you can help but yell out loud, "Thank you Jesus!". I have been praying for this woman for 5 years now. We have shared everything together- our work, our babies, our lives. I actually was planning/hoping to be able to go to women's weekend at Malibu this past weekend, I was sure that she would finally accept Him there. How could she resist? Well, things didn't pan out and we were not able to go. The amazing thing is she became a Christian the same weekend anyways. Jesus gently reminded me that he does not fit MY plan but that I should follow His. How could I be so faithless to think she only could commit at a YL camp? God is so much bigger than any plans I have.
For all of you out there who have been investing in someone, hoping to see them come face to face with Jesus... Do not lose hope. His plans and timing are perfect.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Big Day


Today we sent our official notarized contracts and half the money for the adoption. Wow! This baby is really coming.

This year in BSF we are studying the life of Moses. During our first lecture last week our speaker asked us to think and pray about which characteristic of Moses we were going to focus on this year. I was tempted to say prayer because it is something I could always improve on and yet still stay fairly comfortable. I felt a strong nagging to pick faithfulness and obedience but that followed with my heart selfishly saying, "dang, I'm actually going to have to do something and be uncomfortable". This is comfort thing is something I have been realizing that I worship. So I left BSF that day and thought very little about it until today. During my lesson I was going over a question that said, "what have you done this week in response to the lecture." As I was reviewing the lecture, my heart sunk-nothing. Our adoption application had been placed on hold in our hands until our life insurance policy went through (long story with too many boring details). I then asked Andrew if he had heard anything about our life insurance and he told me the policies had been issued yesterday. I jumped up and grabbed our application and asked Andrew if he was okay if I took them to the post office. Just then the phone rang, it was Kiersten from All Gods Children checking in with us on the status of the papers. I believe God sent us that call in case we didn't get the message loud and clear already. Why today was the day...I don't really know. But I firmly believe that God was written the story already, he knows the child, whether created yet or not, that will be the next weiseth. Even though the road has really just begun I love how all the struggles will someday speak to our child that we loved him/her before they were created and are willing to go great distances for them.

Friday, August 29, 2008

When God answers "yes"

Today I was reading 1 Samuel and was reminded of how God can answer prayers. The Israelites requested a King to rule over them. I imagine they truly believed this would solve some of their problems. Maybe they thought they would be more comfortable, have less wars and maybe even more power. The crazy thing is that God knew this would not be the blessing the Israelites imagined but he gave them what they wanted anyways. In chapter 8, verse 7 says "'Do as they say,' the Lord replied, 'for it is me they are rejecting, not you. They don't want my to be their king any longer. Ever since I brought them from Egypt they have continually forsaken me and followed other gods. And now they are giving you the same treatment. Do as they ask, but solemnly warm them about how a king will treat them.'" God knew the king would enslave them but he allowed their request to be granted.
My prayers today were that God would teach me how to pray. That I would know him so deeply that my prayers would match his desires for my life. I pray that I don't ask for the wrong thing thinking it will solve my problems.
God, even though I may ask, please do not give me what will bring me harm. As for the child we will bring in to our home, help us to pray and look towards you not to our own desires and plans.

-Amber

Friday, August 22, 2008

Great Video



This video is worth watching. I just read her book called "Reckless Faith". Probably one of the most convicting books I have ever read. I hope you find this as encouraging as we did.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Phone Orientation


This is a picture of our phone orientation with All God's Children (July 31st, 2008). The next step is for us to get the contracts noterized and send in a $A LOT. After we send those in we will start our home study and dossier. The paperwork stage typically takes people 2-4 months. Then we will be placed on a waiting list for a child.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

approval

We got word this morning that All God's Children approved us to start the Ethiopian adoption program. It truly feels like we are pregnant. A nurse I work with (Jen M) said I had the pregnancy glow today. But this time is even better because I am not green and puking my guts out. We will keep you posted as to what's happening. The next step is for us to sign the contracts and send in a lot of money. We hope to start our homestudy in the next few weeks to month. We will see. -Amber

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Ball is Rolling

We sent our application in today to All God's Children. I thought we would feel more anxious but instead we are strangely peaceful.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

We Are Alive!

After 2 weeks of pretty much non-stop action, we are resting at home. Right now Charlie is in bed and Emelia is riding her tricycle out back. The lawn in mowed, the garden is growing, the bills are paid...life is coming back together. In a huge way this is nice to finally be resting but in another sense I miss the hourly reliance on God. When you are doing something out of faith, every action and thought is about looking for and waiting on God.
The next step: we are finishing up our application. In fact we took the necessary pictures tonight. Once we send it in, the ball starts rolling. Wow!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Firework blessings begin


Today we had the privilege of setting up our fireworks tents. I (amber) am in Lake Stevens and Andrew in Black Diamond. I am shocked that I can say that it is a privilege. The craziness of the past few weeks should lead me to feel burdened and drained but instead Christ is alive in me. As I drove home tonight I felt overwhelmed by His goodness. We had an amazing day working together to accomplish something that many have said is ridiculous. My great friend Jennifer helped me unpack a semi-truck worth of fireworks. I was in chaocos and YL clothing...she was wearing dress clothes and pointy shoes. The truck driver looked at us and said "where is the rest of your help?". Well, we were it. We managed to unload in less than an hour and still were having fun. Then Shaunna showed up to help us make a plan. Her expertise helped us greatly. I just adore her and love hearing how Christ is working in her life. Josh, from our community group, showed up next and did the manly work of moving things we deemed too heavy. He was so fun and encouraging, never complaining and quite hilarious. To top it all off, Tom Applegate arrived to sleep in the tent, on the grass, and with bright lights on. Good Luck tonight, Tom. We worked our tails off for 10 hours straight (except the mandatory coffee break) and all left smiling and full of joy. I can say I truly understand the joy of community. I don't how to exactly express my joy. I wish the fullness of my heart could be written down. I cannot wait to see this week ..."together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ"(Ephesians 3:18 NIV). We will keep you posted.
Also, we cannot open until Monday due to permit regulations within the city. Bummer. Keep us in you prayers.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

either God's setting us up to see miracles, or we're idiots.

In the matter of about 3 weeks we're organizing people & resources around two fireworks stand fundraisers -both of which are about an hour away from us & most everyone we know.




The Beginning

It's interesting to look back on life & see when seeds were planted isn't it?
What began as my conversation with a cute girl in the 5th Ashton dorms turned into a life-long commitment to her as husband. And, what was an exciting addition to our 1 year anniversary trip to Paris became the reason you're reading this exciting addition to the blogosphere. That trip is where this story begins....

While my brother & his family were living in Mozambique Amber & I decided, "Heck, we're already going to the other side of the globe. Let's hop down to Africa and visit them too." While there we had the privilege of joining them on a trip to an orphanage -they were hoping to adopt. I will confess that I was not nearly as moved as I should have been. Children clamoring to be held, protruding bellies, little boys & girls without mommies or daddies there to comfort & celebrate them ...all should have left me weeping for years. Difficult to see? Yes. But I allowed the impact to fade. Months after we waved goodbye they adopted a beautiful girl who is now our beloved niece, Malena. (They have since moved back to Tacoma.) Meanwhile, Amber & I moved all over the Seattle area & had two wonderful children. From then until recently the thought of adopting remained a wonderful idea -akin to dedicating ourselves to mission work or having 12 kids. You know, the amazing things that other people do.
The sprout has surfaced.
Soon after the apple dropped on '08, a single thought began to crescendo within our conversations: “What if we really did adopt?” It of course stirred up a million others, “Could we just… you know, do that?! How would we afford it? Maybe we should move to a bigger home first. We need a minivan to hold more kids. If we get a minivan how can we afford to move?! Well, honey, why move to a bigger home if we can’t get the minivan? Which agency should we use? What about our jobs? …What color minivan?” Most of our hyperventilating proved fruitless.

God planted the seed & He is growing it…
What has proven lasting and powerful has been our time on our knees. We have prayed often for God’s help, encouragement & provision. He has been so faithful. God has done many things to snuff the idea that we are doing something great. (The story of our whole fireworks fundraiser fiasco is too long to tell here. The ordeal has had us dependant on Him & seeing his faithfulness daily.) It is amazing to be about the tasks that will eventually be so meaningful. We will some day hold a child (our child!) in our arms because of the resources & wonderful people He is providing today.