My blog has moved!

You should be automatically redirected in 2 seconds. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Hurry Up and Wait (Again)

Well, it's been two weeks since we submitted our HS (home study) to the court asking for it to be expedited. Since it generally takes a month for approval I'm assuming we didn't find favor with the commissioner. In my book one month minus a day isn't really expedited service, but that's just me. The fine folks at the court may see things differently.

I was really doing well with all the delays; that is until I took a look at our timeline ticker and realized that A*'s been waiting on us for over six months now.

That number hit me like a sledgehammer.

I think every adoptive family comes to a point in the process when the bureaucratic red tape is maddening. It becomes really difficult to wrap your mind around the concept that 1) a child needs parents, 2) parents are ready, willing, and able, but 3) paperwork or red tape keeps them apart. It just feels completely WRONG.

Yes, the paperwork is necessary, for it prevents abuses and is intended to protect innocent children. I KNOW how important these safeguards are. Yet my mind cannot reconcile itself with my breaking mother's heart. This is my SON. He's not a number on a file. He's not process. He's a CHILD who has lost everything. He's grieving and SICK and he needs a family to belong to; a home where his needs can be met. We are honored and blessed to be able to be that family.... if only we could get him here.

For me, these six months haven't felt too terribly long. I suppose it's because I've been busy chasing papers, reading books and doing the usual adoption preparations. It also helps that I've got the other four kids and a loving husband to to keep me busy. After all the delays we experienced during Jonas' adoption we came much more equipped to peacefully wait the process out this time.

But, I'm really hurting for A* right now. Because our paperwork was vague we don't know how long he's been in the orphanage. I'm not sure sure, but I think he may have arrived in June. By the time we arrive he'll have been there for almost a year. (O Lord please let this not take any longer than June!!!)

I'm sad that he's been waiting so long; sad to know we've been working on getting him home for over half that time. I want A* to get to the doctors waiting here who will take GREAT care of him. I want him to meet his brother and sisters. Dustin and I want what all waiting adoptive parents want, which is to jump in and do the actual work of being a mom or a dad to A*.

For now, I keep praying God uses this time to prepare us even more for A*s arrival, so that when he come home we'll be the best parents we can be. If every minute apart somehow means we're being better equipped to take care of A* then it helps, a little, to redeem the time.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Bringing it Home

I found this amazing article . I, personally, think this is a brilliant idea.

Go read it and come back here to share your thoughts.....

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pivotal Word

Our church reads through the Bible together every year using the One Year Bible. I just found the reading plan online for use on mobile phones. Great for on the go reading! I was so excited i had to share her.

In related news I'm halfway finished memorizing the book of James. I was supposed to have been finished by now, but I fell behind during the holidays. I'm energized and ready to hit the Book hard again. I have to finish up soon to make room for all the Amharic I need to memorize for when A* comes home. I don't think I have enough brain power to do both simultaneously.

I thought I would ask folks to leave me a comment with their all time favorite verse from Scripture or a story of how a particular verse/passage impacted a life changing moment.

My life changing verse is James 1:22.

It's so simple, yet harder to live out than I ever could have imagined at first. Upon first discovering this verse (and the subsequent passage) I realized that being close to life change without ever actually experiencing it would be my perpetual condition unless I learned to put James 1:22 into practice. It's a reminder to me that life is not about merely knowing Truth; it's about allowing Truth to be the driving force in my life, to propel me on to action. Nowadays whenever I'm reading, and a portion of Scripture hits me especially hard, it's usually my clue that it's a "James1:22" verse. Meaning that it's time for me to stop "listening" about something and get busy doing whatever I clearly see God is "calling" me to do through His Word.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Blowing My Mind

In recent years I feel I've let my creativity fall to the wayside a bit. I've been active with writing, but much of what I've written has been pretty bland and factual; mostly to help spread information.

That's not the kind of stuff that keeps artistic/inventive juices flowing. Consequetly, I've begun to feel a little bit... well, stale.

I recently discovered mind maps and thought I'd sit down to give one a try. I figured I didn't have much to lose. I always enjoyed art time in grade school. Why not tap into my inner 2nd grader once again?

With colored pencils and washable markers borrowed from my kids I sat down to see what would come of dumping some of the contents of my mind onto paper. I'll spare you the details of that mess. But, let me just tell you, WHOA! I had a lot of stuff in there that needed flushing out. I was shocked to see all the twists and turns, curls and twirls my thoughts we're making.

My verdict on the mind map: helpful. And, fun. I think it very likely I will continue to use mind maps in the future.

I made a second map to simplify some of the conclusions my first map brought me to because I felt a bit overwhelmed with where to begin. (Trust me an 8x11 piece of paper was way to small for all the mess I had going on there. It was gnarly.) I may have over simplified but (trust me on this) after the knotted mass that was my first map I needed something simple to soothe me. I was tempted to keep going (which I guess is kinda the point of mind maps (supposedly they help your mind think more productively) but I made myself stop for the love of all things pure and simple.

For fun, I thought I'd share my second mind map here:

If you noticed the smudges on the paper just feel free to forget about those. *Someone* we know was a little too deep in concentration, and forgot to swallow her saliva. When she went to blow a speck off her page she *may* have spit all over it. How lame awesome is she!?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Waiting Children Here At Home

My heart beats true for the good old red, white, and blue. And, I'm deeply saddened by the numbers of children waiting for families in the US and the lack of foster families here. Of course my heart is especially tender for those special needs kids and those who have earned themselves a "harder to place" tag simply for being older that 4 years or having chronic but manageable diseases like HIV.

From time to time I'll run across people who are pretty defensive about domestic adoption and who feel rather negatively about international adoptions. I find I can usually chalk it up to one of two reasons.

1) Some people feel it's very unpatriotic to adopt internationally. (I'm not sure if it's because they don't like the idea of immigrants or what. )

2) Some people have a BURNING passion for US foster kids/orphans and somehow feel that all the families going overseas will detract from families adopting here. I get that. I also understand it is a hotly divided topic for which I have no time to discuss here.

I can often be heard telling those people who are against international adoption that I'd never want to discourage ANYONE from adopting, be it domestic or international, so long as they are educated and truly have the best interest of the child at heart.

Certainly, if those people who are so very concerned about orphans in the US finding homes on the issue of patriotism they should go ahead and provide one. (Insert slight sarcastic grin forming at the corner of my mouth. For I have NEVER encountered that argument from a person or family that was ACTUALLY fostering or adopting a US citizen) Surely there are plenty of orphans (all 4.2 million of them) to go around. To those folks I say: Don't just give lip service and say, "Someone really ought to give those kids a chance." Educate yourselves and then DO something. (Stepping off my little soapbox now)

To the families who are concerned about the lack of foster/adoptive families in the US all I can say is that I don't know why God directs some people over seas and not at home. Being one of those people who was TOTALLY open to domestic adoption I have no real answer as to why the Lord ended up sending us to Ethiopia. It's a question I have a hunch I might never have an answer to. Except, that my sons were in Ethiopia and I could NEVER imagine life without them.

That is not to say that their precious Ethiopian lives were more valuable to the Lord than the precious US lives here at home. All I'm sayin' is that God is mysterious. I'm okay with that.

But, that doesn't mean I'll stop trying to find families to foster or adopt kids in the US!

In an effort to highlight opportunities for families interested in domestic adoption I wanted to shine a light on one possibility that many people aren't aware of. Interstate adoption is the process whereby families can adopt from other states within the union. There is a national photo listing* where families can view children who are available RIGHT NOW.

That's correct, I said RIGHT NOW.

There are agencies within your state that can facilitate interstate adoptions. A simple google search will turn some up, or you can contact the folks at Adopt US Kids

*I'm kinda partial to waiting lists since that is how we found our precious son A*, and I think they can be an effective tool in connecting waiting children with their forever families, BUT I want to just put my disclaimer in here and say that families should NEVER make a decision to adopt simply because they have seen a cute face. I urge you to educate yourself first and pray earnestly about that child's needs and whether or not you believe it would be in their best interest for you to proceed.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

For Kim (and anyone else who needs it)

I'm, like, the last person on earth to ever be accused of being hip. I never was a trend setter, I'm not current on a lot of things.

This guy may be a very well known pastor by now but I just discovered him and his story. It's about the miracle that happened to him. I think you'll be glad you clicked this link.

International Adoption Docs

My friend Alisha took the time to compile a list of International Adoption Doctors (IADs)recommended by other Adoptive Parents (APs). I couldn't pass up the opportunity to direct some people who might benefit from her research to her blog.

If you are looking into IADs this will be a great resource for you. When you're there leave her a comment and let her know if you found it helpful. Tell her Jen says "hi".

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Hello friends,

I thought I'd hop on to tell you that I've spent some time compiling a booklist resource for adoptive parents and perspective adoptive parents. It is divided by topics such as Domestic/Foster, International, Adoptee Perspective, Special Needs, etc. It is by no means exhaustive but it contains the most popular titles among adoptive families for every category.

If anyone would like it just shoot me an email or leave a comment here and I'll send you the PDF.

If you know of a title that should be on the list please leave a comment here. Thanks!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Haitian Orphans

I went out last night with a good friend who works for World Orphans. (Which is a great organization. You should check it out) We were discussing how the earthquake has brought much attention to the plight of orphans in Haiti. We know many more folks are desiring to adopt from there all of a sudden, but we are also aware that it isn't very feasible for now.

She wrote a great post which I believe will be very informative for those folks who are new to the world of international adoption and may be considering Haiti in this moment.

It's so frustrating to think that children won't be able to be adopted yet it is very much the case. I know that people will be maddened (we all should be) but it is also really important to realize that the guidelines are important. They prevent abuses and are necessary.

So, the real question for those of us who have felt our heartstrings tugged is how willing are we to help? Truly?

If we can't adopt precious Haitian orphans (for now) are we still willing to spend thousands of dollars to save the life of a child/ren who won't grow to call us mom or dad?

I hope the answer is still yes!

Our family is praying through ways to give sacrificially even now in the midst of our adoption.

Today some folks are facing a nightmare. For them there is no turning away. There is no diversion. There is no flipping the channel to erase the horrifying images. The hunger pangs remain. The wounds still seep. The loss threatens to overwhelm.

We don't want to be saviours. There's only One. We don't want to be heroes. Jesus is THE Hero. We just want to be the kind of people who, when we see suffering, are willing to dig in with those who are facing it and get our hands dirty alongside.

Jesus never leaves us to suffer alone. Because of Him I want to do what I can to share in the (deep breath) *suffering* (there I actually said it) of others.

Corinthians 4:11-13.
Philippians 2:1-3
Hebrews 13: 16 & 20-21

Monday, January 18, 2010

I'm back

It's was a tiring trip home from my Grams' funeral. I arrived home around 1am Friday morning and awoke at 5:30 am to head into surgery for Rory. She had a tonsillectomy and adnoidectomy (that is what it's called, right?). We were back home by 9am-ish and I hit the sack utterly exhausted. I had assumed Rory would want to nap with me as well, but she stayed awake the WHOLE rest of the day.

I've got a sinus infection which has kept me company along with a constant dull ache in my head for about 3 weeks now. One of these days I will find the time to make it in to see the doctor and find out what can be done about this nonsense.

I'm waiting for our Home Study to be returned to us. I'm praying it's any day now.

That's all the news I've got people. I hope next week is more exciting with news of approvals and shipping off paperwork, etc.

We'll see.....

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

In rememberance: My Grams

Evelyn, Jennifer, Marianne, Valerie 2004

I lost my Grams this week. (Tuesday) I had been waiting to post about it until I was sure the entire family was notified.

Since Grams heard the news of her brain cancer just two months ago she wanted to fight it. Despite the cancer's aggressive nature she was able to to live relatively symptom free, up until last week. Which was also about the time she decided she was ready to enter into her rest. It was just like her to make such a determined decision and have it happen quickly after that. God, in His mercy, allowed her to pass away with relative speed. I was relieved that she did not suffer long.

I cherish the time I was able to spend with Grams at Thanksgiving. I enjoyed an afternoon, after most of the family had left for home, to sit on the porch swing with her and talk with a few of my aunts and uncles. She was her usual tangy-sweet self. Full of wit, humor, and tenderness.

I rejoice that Grams enjoyed 85 years of strength and vibrancy, retaining her mental capacities until the end. Never was she bedridden. Never was she unable to do the things she enjoyed so much.

I've pondered over her life much this week. I recalled her great love for my Grandfather, Giovanni (everyone called him John), and how it burned strong long after his death. He died a year before I was born. My grams never remarried. She had had the best there ever was- all you had to do was ask her.

Some years ago, when Grams came to AZ for a visit, I asked her if she remembered my grandfather as a young man or an old man. She began to cry saying she remembered him as a dying man; the stinging pain of her loss still so fresh after all those years. Of course that started everyone at the dinner table crying (and made me feel like a complete idiot for asking such a thing.)

I'm glad to know that she has been reunited with my grandfather and that they are both enjoying the presence of Christ today.

My Grams once told me she would have kept right on having kids after the seven she and grandpa had already had. She had wanted twelve, she said. I was very surprised to hear such a thing. But, oh yes, she assured me it was true.

Grams told me whenever the kids would complain to her that they had too many brothers and sisters she would respond by asking, "Oh really? Then which one would you prefer I get rid if, huh? Should I get rid of Jeanne, or how about Paul? Wait, should I get rid of you?"

I laughed now think how when her children and their children gathered from near and far around the turkey this year you couldn't hear above the ruckus. Who would they have preferred to eliminate, indeed.

After my parents divorced, my mother, sister, and myself went to live with Grams. We spent a few years there. I have many memories of leaning up against her side watching Murder She Wrote, Wheel of Fortune and old time black and white movies. I remember her eating chocolate kisses and laughing that she was a chocoholic.

A few years ago, upon discussing one of Grams habits, my sis and I decided there was sheer wisdom in it. Grams was a fiery red head in her youth and continued to wear the same color lipstick which must have made her look like a bombshell to my grandad during the days they were dating. We determined that she really knew what she was doing with her ritual of never leaving the house without a layer of her favorite orangeish-pink lipstick. The rest of us could be falling apart but, somehow, with a layer of lipstick a we just felt better. (And, being fair like Grams, it really does improve our coloring.)

In all the old pictures Grams is such a beauty. Her wedding photo is my absolute favorite. She's so glamorous- like a real movie star. She wears a veil on the back of her heas with long red curls flowing out around it. Her satin gown is simple and beautiful with a sweetheart neck and long sleeves. A small prayer book with streamers and flowers is in her hands. Her handsome groom looks like Clark Gable with a more Roman nose. I used to study that picture often as it sat on the chest near the foot of the stairs; the same chest that would hold her Nativity scene during the holidays; the set she'd threaten me within an inch of my life if I dared to touch. "Heads will roll," was the warning.

When I was a girl Grams began setting off on adventures. She traveled all over the world. She went to Kenya, India, Israel to name a few. There is even a picture of her with Mother Theresa.

Whenever she came home she would tell me about her trips and encourage me not to get married too soon, to travel the world first.

When I called her at the tender age of 19 to tell her I was engaged to be married I was sure to inform her, "Now I can travel the world with my best friend, Grams!" As if somehow she would forget about how young I was.

I am humbled at how the Lord has taken me and Dustin on our own global adventures. I never could have dreamed up a better life. Grams was pleased too. She told me so at Thanksgiving.

My husband loved to remember the very first conversation he had with my Grams. She had literally just stepped of the plane. She was in town for our wedding and it was the first time she and Dustin had met. And, what was the burning question she just had to ask him face to face? "Are you a pacifist or an activist?"

Dustin knew immediately that there would be a lot hinging on his answer and wished he could respond with, "Which do you want me to be?"

These are just a few of the things which made my grandmother so special to me. I am thankful for the many fond memories I have of her and for the positive ways her presence has shaped my life.

Needless to say I spent a fair amount of time this week with the grievers of the Bible. I looked at Abraham and Issac when they lost Sarah. I studied the words used to express their emotions. I read David's psalms with renewed interest in his expression of grief.

I'm so interested in how God works through loss. What's the meaning of this death stuff anyway? Why do we still need it after Christ has come? What's the purpose in it for us?

I have a very specific memory from my girlhood of looking into Grams' china hutch admiring the various treasures there. I remember I asked her if one day, after she died of course, would she please give me some of the contents of that hutch.

She laughed and laughed at the idea, and at my audacity to ask such a thing.

Oh, out of the mouth of babes. What I wouldn't give now for her to live to be 185! Though I didn't have much opportunity in the last ten years of her life to spend much time with her, the world seems emptier with her passing.

And, yet, how happy I am to have her enter into perfection! Today I know she's resting in the arms of Jesus Christ.

My Grandmother has certainly left a legacy. As I've considered her life I realize how deeply she has touched me; how she helped contribute to my love for justice for the downtrodden, how her spunk carried down through the generations of women she led in our family, how her thoughtfulness created an intellectual family that can often be found discussing loudly (or arguing, whichever you prefer to call it) politics and religion.

As you read this it's likely I've already left for the funeral. It will be held in Kansas City where Grams spent the last years of her life. I'll gather there with all the others she helped shaped and mold into the people they are today. There we'll celebrate her life, and mourn our losses, together.

I can almost hear Grams saying, "Listen, kid, don't cry too much on my account."

Monday, January 11, 2010

End Human Trafficking

Most people aren't aware of just how prevalent human slavery is these days. The numbers are shocking. Most modern slaves are women and children. They are forced into prostitution.

It is estimated that 1.2 million children enter the sex trade every year. Unfathomable. And yet, it is true. Oh how God must grieve!

Today is Anti Trafficking Awareness Day. Please take a moment to learn more about the opportunities to get involved and help make a difference in the lives of others.

Here are some places you can learn more about the issue.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


We received new pictures of A* thanks to some friends who recently travelled to Addis Ababa.

WOW! is all I can say. A* looks completely different. He's gained weight, which is a wonderful thing! His face has filled out and his body looks plump. A* is also sportin' an adorable belly on him now ;-) The eyes remain the same- bright, huge almonds. Oh, and the hair! It was buzzed in his referral pic. Now he's got a head full of loose curls. His hair is so much looser than Jonas'

It's amazing what six months will do for a kid.

It breaks my mommy heart that he's had to wait this long. I can't help but think of all we've missed out on already.

It shouldn't be too much longer now....

A New Way to Help Vanya

I always love it when God presents me with specific opportunities to help a child in need. Vanya is one such opportunity.

Circumstances have been presented to us which enable us to assist little Vanya in finding a forever family that will cherish him. Had God not brought our very special friends to Ukraine and allowed my friend Alisha to volunteer with Vanya we never would have known of his existence. Now that we have been made aware of his needs we simply cannot turn away. We MUST do something!

But, we need your help, because we can't do it alone.

To that end a blog button has been created for Vanya. It links up to his blog. There is also a chip in button. Now friends of Vanya can donate funds toward his adoption through Reece's Rainbow (If you aren't familiar with this organization you should check them out!). Let's put a little money where our mouth is and make it even easier for his forever family to bring him home!!

The pastor at our church tells us he and his wife are always teaching their kids to "see a need, meet a need." In Vanya I see a great need. Together we can make a difference for this boy!

I'm, so excited to see what God will do through your generosity.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Blessings Through The Back Door

When I posted last things were looking pretty discouraging. Our home study had been delayed through the holidays and with the new year came the possibility of having to redo some of our paperwork. The problem with redoing some of the paperwork was that some of the particulars might take a few more months to complete.

After receiving some mixed communication from our family coordinator originally indicating Dustin and I could be at risk of losing A* (because of his having to wait so long.) Dustin and I were extremely concerned for the stability of this adoption. Thankfully we spoke with the director of programs at corporate who assured us nothing was at risk related to A*.

Long story short, it seems the very stressful 24 hours we experienced Wednesday- Thursday was actually God's provision sneaking in under the guise of trouble. I had been talking on the phone with my sweet sister when she made a comment which was straight from God's own mouth to my ears, for when she uttered the words everything within me stood at attention. She expressed the idea that it was possible that all these irritating events were intended by God to be blessings, and that now we were in the forefront of every one's mind at AWAA while they were all simultaneously working to get things moved forward.

I felt that what my sister had said was the truth. And, after being blessed by the prayers of our friends in the AWAA YG (yahoo group) I had a new perspective.

Through the events of this week I was able to practice how to remain calm and still in those moments of trouble and dig down deeper with the Lord to see what He's really up to. I realized it's not just about God working things out and removing obstacles so that our paths will be smooth and straight. It's about getting to know Him in the process and enjoying His presence and goodness in the meanwhile. It's about the peace that is able to hang right alongside deep emotions of grief. It's about being human and truly not knowing what methods God will use to manage the circumstances of life, nor what twists and turns it may take, but trusting by faith in the Source of every good and perfect gift.

I feel I gained a little better understanding of that this week.

Needless to say, by Friday almost every snag that had cropped up against us was resolved. It was if entire icebergs had been melted before our very eyes. God's blessings were coming in through the back door. If I hadn't remained watchful I think I would have missed that understanding. I wouldn't have been able to sit with the Lord while He worked things out. I would have allowed the peace that was available to me to pass right by.

As of Friday our current status is that our home study (HS) has been submitted to the AZ court along with a letter requesting the commissioner expedite our case in light of the fact that A* is waiting (I hope, too, that they informed him of A*'s special medical concerns as well). If the commissioner is feeling generous he may expedite our case. I have to say that I sense that the Lord will cause him to be amiable toward the idea and that our paperwork will return to us quickly. If our paperwork is returned quickly every indication is that we will not have to redo the paperwork which would be time consuming and cause delays. This means that our dossier could be in Ethiopia very soon.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

News From Addis

A friend of mine is in Ethiopia right now picking up her daughter. She emailed me to tell us she had visited with A* for a bit. She writes:

I just have to say A* stole my heart. I can't wait for you to bring him home.....
A* seems reserved but very sweet. He seems very bright. He loved all his toys. The first thing he got out was the teddy bear and gave it a hug. He also liked the train and it sounded like he called it a car, but maybe the word for train sounds like car, I don't know. He really liked the light thing and once I showed him the little button that turned on he pushed it over and over again.

I got video of him looking at your precious book, but I was loud outside so I don't know if you will be able to hear him on the video or not, but he was so cute with the book. I would point to you and say mommy and he would point to you and say mommy. He would look and point and repeat what I showed him. It was precious.

What a wonderful gift to be able to read those words this morning! Yesterday was a particularly difficult day on the adoption front. While things aren't moving any more smoothly this morning I felt this update was a gift from the Lord. I had been very concerned about A*'s health. While she doesn't give details about how he's doing at least I know A* is at the Transition Home and not ill in a clinic. I'm sure if he were unwell she would have told me.

Please continue to pray for our paperwork as we have encountered some snags. I never thought we'd still be waiting at 5 months, especially since things were moving at warp speed initially, but alas we are.

I was able to hear from our Social Services Coordinator that she has submitted our home study to corporate today for approval. If all looks good they will approve it and send it back to her to be submitted to the court tomorrow. She also mentioned that she would add a request for the judge to push our paperwork through quickly since A* is waiting on us. I pray He will be favorable toward expediting our case since she explained it large depends on his mood at the time.

That's all for now. We shall see what else the day brings ;-)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A Voice For Vanya

I've got a remarkable friend living in Ukraine. She and her husband have hearts full of compassion, and it shows in everything they do.

My friend has asked me for help and I cannot refuse her. She's asked me to help her find a family for one precious little boy named Vanya. Vanya is blind and living in a baby home in Ukraine. He does not receive the specialized care required to give him the life skills necessary to manage with his impairment. If Vanya does not find a family he faces being moved into the next tier of children's homes where it is very likely he will continue on being largely ignored, and possibly fall prey to victimization at the hands of older children.

I cannot tell you how much I trust the opinion of my friend. If she says Vanya is a remarkable and loving child HE IS. My friend and her husband would bring Vanya home themselves if it weren't for the fact that they are already in process to adopt sibling boys from Ethiopia.

Please, please, Bloggy friends, help get the word out about Vanya! Follow THIS link to learn more. Then, please post about Vanya on your blog or social networking site.