Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 in a Jar

Like many years, 2014 has been filled with ups and downs. We have experienced pain, strength, sorrow, joy, excitement, and many other emotions.

This year, Jeffrey and I decided to keep a jar of Blessings, Answered Prayers, Can't Forget Moments, and Anything Else Worth Remembering. We kept our jar (a large mason jar with a cute sticky note describing what the jar is for) on the corner of our fireplace, so we would see it daily, and we and everyone in our home could watch it grow. We have found in past years that difficult times such as the ending of this year, we easily forgot some of the great moments that had happened because they were overshadowed by something devastating and negative. We knew we wanted to end looking at 2014 on a positive note whether it felt positive or not. Unfortunately, this hasn't been an ending we would really want to remember, but thankfully we have many reminders that these last few weeks are not the summary of the year as a whole. Today, we pulled out our strips of paper and read what 2014 looked like for our family in quick snapshots from our jar. Here are some of the things that made it in the jar for 2014 in no particular order:
  • Boating and Fishing with Dad and Leah
  • CJ mowed our lawn! 
  • Raised close to $3,500 at our trivia night!
  • Ethiopian Government NOT CLOSING!
  • Sunday afternoons at mom and dad's-Free food, relaxing, and family time
  • Attended the Empower to Connect Conference for adopting parents
  • WHAT A GREAT WEEKEND- Pappy's with Brent and Erica, WinterJam, Movies (Bookthief), Dinner with Gary and Meghan, Dinner with CJ and Myrah
  • Awesome 4th of July-Movies, BBQ, Fireworks, Friends and Family
  • Jeffrey got a snow day with me! January 6th!
  • The release of Citilights first EP "We are Citilights"
  • I did it! I hit my reading goal for 2014! 25 books in one year!
  • Camping in our living room for 2 weeks due to a bed malfunction
  • Cards game with family (Dad's 1st game in the "new" stadium)
  • Celebrated Eric and Leah's birthday at Ruiz
  • Bonfire with friends
  • Leah surprised me with STARBUCKS!
  • Celebrated Mother's Day with both our moms. So glad we can spend time with both our families at the same time!
  • Rachel had a dream of us in Ethiopia and we met our baby. I believe it was confirmation that we are still doing the right thing.
  • Attending the Deeper Unconference with my dad in Texas
  • CANCUN!
  • Fun Drive-in date with Pete and Camilla from Norway! Getting to know Camilla!
  • Rach's birthday at Hendrick's
  • Awesome time at our 1st Blues game! Mary gave us tickets with Amazing seats!
  • Rainy Date at the Muny, but Jeffrey made it in time from the airport
  • Celebrated 6 Years of Marriage!
  • Reminded of our awesome support system through Jeffrey's sickle cell crisis
  • Mom helped me redo the countertops in the kitchen. They look so much better!
  • I somehow pulled out an A in my grad class this semester

These are just some of the items that were in our 2014 jar. They may not seem big or too exciting for you, but they were worth something to us since we took the time and put them in our jar. Sometimes it is easy to just focus on the huge, the dramatic, and the life changing, but going back and looking at the things that made you smile and made your day, can give you a better picture of the year as a whole.

After looking over our list, I can easily and confidently say that despite our challenges and disappointments, we are blessed people and have much to be thankful for in 2014! We pray that as 2015 approaches we will have many more jar worthy moments. We pray the same for you and your family as well!

May 2015 be a year of laughter, prosperity, and adventure!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

28 December- TWO YEARS DTE

In a couple days (December 28), we will officially be DTE (paperwork in Ethiopia) for two years. These past two years have been the hardest and most wonderful times of our lives. Though we have been waiting more than two years, in adoption world your true wait doesn't begin until your papers are in country.

ADOPTION UPDATE:

Yes, adoptions are going through! Yes, children are coming home! Thankfully over the past couple of months, referrals have picked up (not enough in my eyes), but they have been moving more than in the past few months.

People are still being matched with healthy babies, but it has definitely slowed down tremendously from when we first started the process. We are slowly moving up the list to be matched with our baby. We are on several list. We are on the infant boy list, the infant girl list, the toddler boy list, and the toddler girl list. Currently, our lowest number is for the toddler boy list, but things could definitely change. The list is always changing as more people are changing their request and as people are being matched with their children. We are number thirty-eight for a toddler boy. Though thirty-eight doesn't seem too far away, we still have quite the wait ahead of us. We have only moved around twenty-five spots in the past two years on one of the infant lists.

PRAYER REQUEST:

  • Please continue to pray that the government of Ethiopia and the United States would be efficient and quick in their processing procedures and paperwork. I pray that they understand the importance of their jobs and see that people's lives are involved greatly.
  • Please pray that children will continue to be united with their forever families (in Ethiopia and all over the world)
  • Please pray for strength and wisdom as we continue to walk through this journey that we know we are supposed to be on.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Orphan Sunday

Though our church does not take part in Orphan Sunday, churches all over America are spreading the word about orphans and the need for people to care for them.

Today I would encourage you to find a way to help orphans. I know not everyone is called to adopt, but everyone can be a part of changing a child's life.

EASY STEPS TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE:
1. Pray for orphans around the world
2. Donate to an organization that helps orphans (There are many out there. Research and find one that you feel comfortable with and trust. I can suggest a few if you are interested.)
3. Encourage those who are adopting or have adopted
4. Go on a missions trip that works with orphans
5. Research adoption and foster care


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Micah 7:7 MSG

"But me, I'm not giving up. I'm sticking around to see what God will do. I'm waiting for God to make things right. I'm counting on God to listen to me."
Micah 7:7MSG 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Change of Request

ETHIOPIA UPDATE:
The rainy season is quickly approaching which means courts will close for a couple months or so until rainy season is over. There is no set date as of right now to when courts will close, but it is usually some time in mid August, and they usually reopen some time in October. During this time, no movement will really take place in regards to adoption unless people have already passed courts and are just waiting to clear Embassy.

WOODSON ADOPTION UPDATE:
We recently met with our social worker to update our homestudy and to discuss some possible changes to our adoption. Jeffrey and I have been thinking about making some changes to our adoption request for a while. We have been thinking about changing our request for our child's age. Wait times are increasing and like we have told you all before, it seems like we have quite a wait ahead of us. On the unofficial list, we are 70 for an infant boy and 76 for an infant girl. That doesn't seem like a lot, but we have only moved about 20 spots in the past two years or so. We discussed with our social worker about changing our request from 0-12 months to 0-3 years old. This change in request will most likely move us 30 spots immediately on the unofficial list. Meaning this could help cut our projected wait time in half.  Now, just to be clear, we are not getting on a plane to Ethiopia any time soon; we still have a big wait ahead. Our social worker seemed absolutely fine in making the changes to our request, but we have to have our homestudy say that we are approved for this change before our adoption agency can change our request. We wanted to let you all know of this because this is a big change, and although we could still be bringing home an infant there is probably a greater chance that we will be bringing home a toddler. We know that this could bring a few extra challenges, but we are confident in our decision and excited for the next steps towards bringing our baby home.

Please continue to pray for us and for our baby while we wait to be united as a family. We love you all. Please also continue to pray for orphans around the world.


Saturday, May 24, 2014

2 Years and Counting

WOW! I can't believe that it has been two years since we have started this incredible journey to our family. Just to be accurate, we applied for the Ethiopia program on May 22, 2012 and were accepted into the program on June 8th. In adoption world they don't count your wait until all your paperwork has arrived in the country you are adopting from, so by their calendar we have been waiting about a year and a half.  However you look at it, these past two years have been some of the most trying and most rewarding years of my life.

Jeffrey made the comment about a month ago that maybe this whole adoption process was designed by God to change us more than us changing a baby's life. It has definitely done that. In these two years, I feel like I have personally grown in so many ways and that our marriage has grown.

I have always been one to celebrate others and enjoy doing so, but I want to be completely honest here and say it hasn't been the easiest for me over the past two years. Jeffrey and I have been married almost six years (and I am so incredibly thankful for the time we have had to grow as a couple), but it can be hard to see people all around you starting their families and you just waiting for yours. Since we started the process, we have had friends plan to have a baby, get pregnant, and have their baby. This can be incredibly difficult because you see how long that you have been waiting. I have been waiting for a little more than 2 1/2 pregnancies ( if you count the time we started the process).  If you're reading this and you are one of our friends who have recently had a baby, I want you to know that we celebrate with you, and we couldn't be happier for you. In this time of waiting I have learned to rejoice with others even when it is difficult, but what I am even more thankful for is the experience of the pain. I have always felt bad for my friends who were trying to conceive and having a difficult time or those who have miscarried, but God has truly put these woman on my heart through this process. I don't want to say that I have developed empathy for them because I have not experienced what they have, but I have definitely developed a greater sympathy. Whether this baby is in my belly or in my heart, I have developed a longing and a very deep and real love for this child that I have not even met yet. I have learned the agony of just wanting this little one to be here, and many times when I would lie in bed at night crying, I would begin to shift my wants and desires into prayers for others who have been wanting and longing just like me. I have also learned to celebrate where I am in life!

I have learned to stop waiting for the end but to celebrate the journey. This has probably been one of the most difficult things to do. As a person who is very organized and structured, I like to have a game plan, and I like to be in control of what is going on. Adoption is one of the most unpredictable processes. Since we have started, at least 5 processes/requirements/laws/whatever you want to call them, have changed. When working with two different governments who don't always have it together, I have realized that I cannot control everything that happens; I cannot make things happen faster, so we cannot just sit and worry till the end of this. Jeffrey has been so awesome through the whole experience, and he has really helped me to see that although this is a huge part of our life, it is not the only part, and we must continue to live. Early on, there were many nights of crying, frustration, anger, anxiety, and fear, but now we rest and have peace that all of this will come to into place in the perfect timing. Don't get me wrong, I am not one of those people who believe I can just sit around, and if it is supposed to happen it will. No, while we wait, we are fundraising, keeping our documents up to date, praying, and preparing, but we are doing it under the mindset that this time of waiting is still a time in our marriage and in our lives that we want to enjoy for what it is. It's not that we don't care about what is happening in the adoption; oh trust me, I still check the list on a weekly basis, but I am checking it knowing that it may not be what I want to see, but I am going to enjoy this day/ week/month/year/  for what it is and not for what it is not.

Updates have been hard for me because quite honestly, we haven't really moved much. When we applied, they told us somewhere between 12-18 months was the average wait times. They are now telling the new people who are entering the program that it is a 4 year wait. On the unofficial list that I don't talk about very much, we are still in the 70s (yes, meaning 70 people ahead of us). It's hard for me to really explain the list, but over the past two years we have maybe moved 15-20 spots. Like I said, it is all so unpredictable. There have been things put in place that have really slowed the process down, but they are hoping it will actually see it speed things up once people learn how it works. All we know is that this is where we are supposed to be, so when you talk to us, and it seems like we haven't got a clue to how much longer it is probably because we really don't. Trust us, you will all know when Baby Woodson is arriving!

We ask that you continue to pray for us while we continue on this difficult but absolutely worth it path. We ask you to pray for our baby and for children all around the world who are in need of love and care. Thank you for all your support. We are enduring this so much easier because we know we have an amazing group of family and friends who hold us up and are walking with us.

TWO YEARS DOWN!



Friday, April 18, 2014

Adoption Conference

Two weeks ago, Jeffrey and I had the opportunity to attend an adoption conference. You may wonder what an adoption conference is all about. Well, there may be many different types, but this one was more to equip parents with knowledge and strategies for once your child is home.

Though we still have a long wait ahead of us, we want to be proactive in educating ourselves and investing in our children even before they are here.

Many people who adopt think that they are going to face the same challenges that everyone faces with their biological children, and although these challenges still exist, many times people who adopt will sometimes face other challenges. This can be a little scary when thinking about some of these challenges, but we want to be wise and prepare for the unexpected. We are of course praying for a healthy baby- body and mind, but when you have lived the first part of your life in extreme poverty, are malnourished, and have been in an institution, there may be some emotional, physical, and psychological needs/delays that will need to be addressed.

The conference was very informative, and Jeffrey and I are still processing much of the information, but we are so honored and excited to be the parents of this beautiful child that is waiting for us, and we are waiting for them. We want to be able to meet all of the needs of our children whether they are biological or adopted, and we know that every child and every adoption is different.

Jeffrey said the thing that he really took from the conference was that maybe God didn't call us to adopt to make this huge impact on this child, but maybe God called us to adopt to make a huge change in us. We have been so humbled, stretched, and strengthened through this process, and we aren't even to the best part yet!