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 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 emotional 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!



Thursday, April 3, 2014

TRIVIA NIGHT RECAP

I need to start by apologizing for not posting this sooner! Life has been a bit busy, and we haven't had the chance to stop and post.
This picture captures the fun that was had by all!

WOW! Once again we have been overwhelmed by the beautiful people who love and support our family. There are not enough words to express our gratitude to all the people who came, helped, and donated. We were able to raise $3,600! This is an awesome amount to add to our adoption fund!
The McGovern's Table!
Kaitlin and Aunt Janeece
THE AWESOME GRADERS!


Hartwicks shopping at the silent auction.
                
Whether you placed first or last, you are all champions to us!


WHAT AN AWESOME TURN OUT!
We had such a fun night. It felt more like a family reunion than a fundraiser!









WE HAVE TO GIVE A SPECIAL SHOUT OUT TO AUNT LEAH! SHE ORGANIZED THE WHOLE EVENT, AND DID AN AWESOME JOB!
We love these guys!
My Best Friends!


Bryan and Eli

So Sorry we couldn't include a picture of everyone who attended! If you were there, we THANK YOU! Thank you for making this night so special! We could not have done it without you! We are now closer to bringing home Baby W! We can't wait for you all to meet her/him! We can't wait to meet her/him either =)

Please continue to keep our adoption, our baby, and orphans all around the world in your prayers!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

To Our Valentine

Baby,

On a day where you are supposed express your love to those you love, we want you to know that there was not a moment that we didn't think about you. When daddy and I went on our date, we talked about you often. Although there are a lot of things keeping us from bringing you home right now, nothing can keep us from loving you the way we do. Love has no boundaries. No oceans, no miles, no time frames, no governments, no waiting list will keep me from loving you. Happy Valentine's, Baby Woodson. You are far more loved than you can imagine right now.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

GREAT NEWS BUT THE REALITY OF IT AS WELL

I am not sure if the title to this post is accurate. I do believe that this is great news, but I sometimes feel like when Jeffrey and I post something that sounds like great news for the adoption, people suddenly think that we are getting our baby any day now.

This past week, I posted on Facebook about some great news. Through this whole journey, I have tried to be very real and informative about what is happening, so let me take a few minutes of your time to explain.

GREAT NEWS: Ethiopia has decided to not close international adoption. Many of you were probably not aware of this, but a few weeks ago, it did not look good for adoptions in Ethiopia. Due to media shining light on bad cases of adoption, the government was considering closing international adoption like many other countries such as Guatemala and Russia. Ethiopia is now working to make sure that adoptions that occur are adoptions for children who are truly orphans and trying to remove some of the terrible things that occur for money reasons.  SUMMARY: ETHIOPIA IS CONTINUING INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION BUT HOPING TO REMOVE SOME OF THE CORRUPTION THAT IS TAKING PLACE THROUGH ADOPTION.

GREAT NEWS: We are working with an adoption agency who we truly believe operates in a manner we approve of. They do multiple interviews of birth parents (if they are alive if not they find closest living relative) to explain what international adoption means. They want to make sure that no one has tried to give them money in exchange for their child (yes, some orphanages are trying to make money in very disgusting ways). If they are older children, our adoption agency makes sure that all the stories line up. They make sure that the children were not trained to say answers. Our adoption agency only works with orphanages that have a positive relationship with the government of Ethiopia, and if they feel a story does not line up, they will not proceed with an adoption. SUMMARY: OUR ADOPTION AGENCY HAS A POSITIVE RELATIONSHIP WITH THE ETHIOPIAN GOVERNMENT, AND WANTS TO DO WHAT IS BEST FOR THE CHILDREN OF ETHIOPIA. OUR ADOPTION AGENCY BELIEVES THAT IF A CHILD CAN BE REUNITED WITH THEIR BIRTH PARENTS THAT THIS IS OBVIOUSLY THE FIRST OPTION. THEY WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT THE CHILDREN THAT THEY ARE REFERRING TO FAMILIES ARE TRULY ORPHANS.

GREAT NEWS: The US Government has added an extra step to the adoption process that makes sure that under US law children are truly orphans and are not passing court in Ethiopia and getting stuck there because they do not pass through the requirements of the US Government. This was happening often with adoption agency. It wasn't happening with ours since they do such intense background and interviews before allowing a child to be matched, but in some other cases this was happening.  SUMMARY: THE US GOVERNMENT IS TRYING TO MAKE SURE CHILDREN ARE TRULY CLEARED AS ORPHANS BEFORE COMING TO THE US.

REALITY FOR US: Many of our friends assumed that since we were so excited and happy to hear that international adoptions were staying open that it meant that we would soon have our babies in our arms. This does not look to be the case. SUMMARY: WE STILL HAVE A LONG WAY TO GO.

REALITY FOR US: With the US Government now stepping in and doing this new step in the process, things have slowed down significantly. There have been 150 applications (from all different adoption agencies from all over America) submit their paperwork through this new process over the past couple of months, and only 25 cases have been processed. This is a new position for the US, so we are hoping to see them become more efficient in processing these papers, but right now it seems to really slow things down. There are currently 7 families from our adoption agency waiting for their clearance letter. SUMMARY: PAPERWORK IS SLOWING THE PROCESS DOWN.

REALITY FOR US: Wait times are increasing for a variety of reasons, but the reality that we want our friends and family to know is that they are increasing. The family at the top of the list from our agency has been waiting for 36 months. Wait times are looking like they will be increasing to 42-48 months (YES! FOUR YEARS!). Although we have almost been waiting 2 years, in adoption time frame, they only mark us at 13 months since that is when all our paper work officially arrived in Ethiopia. SUMMARY: WE BELIEVE IN THE IMPOSSIBLE, BUT WE ALSO WANT OUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY TO BE AWARE OF THE FACT THAT WE ARE POSSIBLY LOOKING AT ANOTHER 3 YEARS POSSIBLY MORE TILL WE MEET OUR BABY.

OUR SUMMARY: WE ARE NOT AFRAID OR WORRYING ABOUT THE FUTURE. WE ARE WALKING IN PEACE AND ENJOYING LIFE UNTIL WE ARE UNITED WITH OUR BABY.
WE ARE PRESSING FORWARD BY FINANCIALLY PREPARING FOR THIS BEAUTIFUL JOURNEY. PLEASE CONTINUE TO PRAY FOR US. THOUGH IT IS NOT EASY TO WALK THROUGH THIS AND OUR HEARTS ACHE OFTEN, WE ARE BLESSED TO HAVE FRIENDS AND FAMILY WHO ARE CONSTANTLY THERE TO ENCOURAGE AND SUPPORT US.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Photo Shoot Fundraiser

We want to give a huge shout out to everyone who participated in our photo shoot fundraiser! We thank you for allowing us capture your beautiful family while supporting our family in progress. Each shoot was unique and it's own. Checkout some of these photos from our shoots. I don't know if favorite is the best word because we had so many, but these are some of the great people who helped make our dream of bringing Baby Woodson home a little closer. Many Blessings to you all! 

Rachel's Favorites-









Jeffrey's Favorites-