Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Waiting Child

A lady from my church who adopted from China gave me a book to read about adoption. She said that it was her all time favorite book about adoption, and I now see why! The name of the book is The Waiting Child. This book is not just a book about a family loving an orphan and bringing her home, but about this orphan's love for another orphan.

This is a true story about a little girl named Jaclyn. Her family adopts her from China, but when they bring her home she cannot forget a little boy in the orphanage that she basically mothered at the age of three. This book took me a little while longer to get through than most books not because it was boring, but because the reality of what life in the orphanage was like for this little girl. My heart broke as she would tell stories about surviving in the orphanage and the memories she clearly recalled after she was home in America. Stories of rain coming through the window at night, and then being punished for wetting the bed. Stories of rats running the floors at night, and other stories that made me just stop and pray for my baby and all orphans around the world.

I know not all orphanages are nightmares, but I don't believe any of them are what anyone would truly want for their child. Even in a place where people love the children, there are just too many children and not enough workers or resources to be the place it really needs to be.

The story inspired me. This very passionate little girl thought not of what she had in America, but only what this little boy did not and how he desperately needed a family like her. I don't want to give it all away in case you decide to check it out, but the little boy is not forgotten. This little girl makes a way to her "baby" and brings him to a forever home.

I want to thank Jane McCoy for letting me borrow the book for such a long time. Between school, work, and life, I unfortunately do not get to read for pleasure as much as I would like.

I think we could all take a few lessons from Jaclyn. Throughout the book, she reminds you of how truly wonderful life in America is and how we truly take so much for granted. She reminds you that even when life is going great for you, there are people struggling who need your help. I think the biggest reminder is that even when it seems impossible, do not give up. Keep fighting for what you know is right.


Sunday, April 28, 2013

A HEAVY HEART

Today I woke up with Ethiopia and our adoption really heavy on my heart. I think about it all the time of course, but there are times when it just really pulls me. As I woke up, I just couldn't get it out of my head. It's not that I don't want to think about the adoption, but I am really trying not to stress about it because it is totally out of my control.

I started by praying and asking God to somehow make a way where there doesn't really seem to be. I usually try to avoid news articles and things that could possibly dampen my spirit, but I am also a strong believer in being educated and knowing what we are getting ourselves into. When I Googled recent news articles on Ethiopian adoption, I found of course what I have been trying to avoid-an article about how Ethiopian has slowed their adoptions down by almost 90% since 2011 and an article on how an Ethiopian girl just revoked her adoption from the Netherlands because of abuse. I hate how the articles that the world sees just says everything against adoption. I hate how people who have no right to adopt a child like this couple from the Netherlands and many others are ruining it for people who truly want to love and support children. When the Ethiopian government reads and hears about articles like this, it just makes them less willing to sign off on adoptions. I can't really blame them, but the real people who are suffering are the children. Right now from our adoption agency alone, there are around 150 families who are ready to welcome an orphan into our lives forever, but we wait.

As I was reading, thinking, and praying about Ethiopia, I happened to look down at the calendar on my laptop and notice that today marks exactly four months since our papers have been in Ethiopia. In pregnancy world, I would be in my 2nd trimester. In adoption world, I am still in my first. I am still feeling morning sickness, I have quite a wait ahead of me, and I am yet to know the gender of my baby. Four months sounds like such a huge accomplishment, but it also rings very heavy on my heart.

I recall telling friends in the past how I can't believe they are already 4 months pregnant, and how time is just moving so quickly. Today, I feel the complete opposite. Instead of feeling like "Wow! It has been four months!" I feel more like "It has only been four months..". Some of you may be thinking this isn't really positive or a way to look at the glass half full, but when I planned on developing this blog I planned on being 100% honest and this is just how I feel today. To think that I may have to endure this wait six more times seems unbearable at the moment.

As I type this now, tears are running down my face. My heartaches, and I feel inadequate to do this. Sometimes I question God and ask Him, "Why?" or "Are you sure?" Sometimes I feel like He picked the wrong woman for this mission. Thankfully, I have a strong man beside me who constantly reminds me that God doesn't call the qualified; He qualifies the called. I don't know how I am going to do this, but I know that in the end my heartache, my tears, and my pain will all be worth it. The day that I get to bring my baby home none of this will matter anymore.

Today, I ask you to please pray for me and for Jeffrey. Please pray for our adoption process to move. Please pray for our baby and for all the other children in the world who are waiting for their mommies and daddies to bring them home.

Monday, April 22, 2013

MY REVIEW OF STUCK

Jeffrey and I both took the day off work. I recently posted about the film STUCK, and how I really wanted to see it. Since we were unable to attend the STL showing, my mom bought us the film. She gave it to us today, and we just finished watching it.

Surprisingly, I didn't cry nearly as much as I thought I would. I think the film did an excellent job at showing how children get literally stuck in the adoption process and they are left in institutions for years when they have families in America desperately wanting them to be home.

Like many government policies and ideas, things sound much better on paperwork than they really end up being. Sadly, as paper work sits so do the children. Adoptions are taking longer than ever and are sadly decreasing due to all the regulations and finances. Jeffrey and I desperately want our friends and family members to see the need for children all over the world to have the right to a family. Many of the children who are being adopted internationally are not even looked at as humans in their countries due to disabilities, health impairments, diseases, etc. Many organizations and people believe that children should be adopted domestically to preserve culture, but when you are looking at third world countries the chances of children being adopted domestically are incredibly slim. 

Jeffrey said, "I thought it was very eye opening even to the stuff that we knew about adoption. The stories of other adoptions that I had no idea about of what really happens to those countries that close adoptions. To hear real people's stories about the situation was really touching. It encouraged me to pray that much harder for our adoption just because we have no control over what the Ethiopian government or our government will do, and so we must put it in the hands of someone who has total control."

I personally think I expected something a little different, but it was still very informative and shows a lot of parts to the adoption process that many people may be unaware of. There were some disturbing photos and some shocking statistics, but I think I was expecting even more. Not that you have to have these things to motivate people towards action, but because orphanages and institutions all over the world are usually not what anyone would want for their children, I thought they would shed more light on them. For some people I am sure it was very eye opening, but I think since I have been educating myself so much I was not surprised at all by what I saw. Like Jeffrey, the movie clearly made us think about our own adoption and the journey that is still ahead. We face so much of the unknown. 

The film takes you on a journey of several different families and children. It takes you to many different countries and shares both exciting and excruciating moments. I like how it touches on different aspects of adoption. It touches on cost, medical, wait, government, etc. I appreciated how they talked about children who have been institutionalized and their progress after adoption. I don't think many people are aware of the social, cognitive, and physical development issues that come from being institutionalized. I thought this was a very important issue to bring up. There were many other issues that were shown through this film, but I don't want to tell you everything because I really do want you to see it on your own.

We would like to share this film with our friends and family very soon. If you are interested in seeing the film, please let us know and we will be sure to invite you. Even if you are not considering international adoption, I ask you to consider watching this film and educating yourself. You can after all be a voice for the voiceless. Children all over the world need families, and you can help on their behalf. 

If you want to check out the organization that is showing this film and also asking for people to step up and sign a petition checkout https://bothendsburning.org/

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

STUCK IN STL

I know I posted about this film a while back ago, but here is an update!

STUCK is a new award-winning documentary film, produced by Both Ends Burning that uncovers the personal, real-life stories of children and parents navigating a rollercoaster of bureaucracy on their journeys through the international adoption system, each filled with hope, elation – and sometimes heartbreak.

STUCK steps into the complex human experience of adoption, exploring the challenges faced by birth parents, prospective adoptive parents – and children.

The film follows Tihun from Ethiopia, Nate from Vietnam, and Erickson and Therline from Haiti on their individual voyages from orphanages in their native countries to their homes with families in the United States. Filmmaker Thaddaeus Scheel tracks the chapters in the lives of these four children, and the three couples seeking to be their parents, revealing along the way the intense hope and disappointment they experience on the odyssey to unite as families. Some stories are heartwarming, showing incredible examples of kids who blossom after joining their families, while others offer insight into the emotional and physical impact institutional life can have on these kids.

*I copied all that from the Vimeo site

THIS FRIDAY, APRIL 19th YOU CAN SEE STUCK IN STL! It is playing at AMC Chesterfield for one night! The cost is $15. To buy tickets go to http://tickets.samuelgoldwynfilms.com/
Unfortunately, Jeffrey is playing drums so we won't be able to attend the showing. I really wish we could! We are however going to buy the movie and invite friends and family to come see it! Educate yourself on the world of international adoption.

Watch the trailer by clicking on the link below!

STUCK Trailer


Monday, April 8, 2013

THANK YOU IN ADVANCE FYI

This blog is intended for those of you have donated to our behalf directly to our adoption agency through online donations. We have a feeling that many of you have donated towards our adoption journey and that we have not been able to thank you. We want to let you know that we are not ignoring your generosity. We are so blessed to have such a huge group of people who love us, who love adoption, who love baby Woodson, and love to fight for orphans.  We want to let you know that through some of you letting us know that you have donated online, we are discovering that it takes a while for our adoption agency to notify us of your gift. They try their best to let us know within 10 work days, but your gifts are processed through two different departments which can take a little longer. Our adoption agency just recently started this program that allows family and friends to donate to adopting families directly online, and there has been a huge amount of donations coming in. I know in the Ethiopia program alone there are over 150 families, so with all the other programs I know there are a lot of families receiving donations.

From what you are telling us and when we receive the notification it is taking 3-4 weeks for us to be notified. We just want to let you know this, because we don't want it to seem like we are ungrateful. Like I said, we have the best support system anyone could ask for, and we thank you for what you have done. As long as you don't give anonymously, we will be sure to let you know we received your donation. If you give anonymously, we thank you now. WE LOVE YOU SO MUCH! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

We pray for those of you who have donated. We pray that you will be blessed in ways you can't imagine just like we are being blessed through your giving. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

THE LIST

In my last real post, I talked about a list that moms have composed to give you a pretty good idea of where you are in getting your referral. Since we have been on the list, I have come a bit obsessed with checking the list. The list is usually updated weekly, but sometimes more than once a week. As beneficial and informative as this list can be, it can also be a discouragement. I have seen our name go up and down due to a variety of different reasons that I am not going to get into, but it seems like we aren't moving as quickly as I had hoped. 

I have decided to take a break from the list for a variety of reasons, but the major one is to just stop worrying about where we are and just let it all happen. Looking at the list every day sometimes more than once a day is not going to change our status. So as much as I do want to keep you all informed on where we are, I feel like this is something I need to do for myself. I have decided to not look at the list again until June 28th which is our 5th wedding anniversary and exactly 6 months from when our papers were sent to Ethiopia. 

I know it will be hard for me not to look, but I think it is a good decision. We are currently 80 for a boy and 81 for a girl. Hopefully the next time I look at the list, we will be a lower number; I am hoping a much lower number. The list has been very encouraging for me to look at as I have seen people receiving their referrals and bringing their babies home, but it has all been discouraging for me as I have not seen a lot of movement, and I have seen how long these people have waited for their children.

Don't worry! I will still have plenty to write about in regards to the adoption and what is happening, so I will continue to keep you up to date on other things just not on the list for a while. Thanks for being understanding and so supportive.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Getting Real with the Numbers

"When are you guys leaving?"
"You guys have all your money! That is exciting!"
"I can't wait to meet the baby this summer!"
"So do you guys have the baby room ready? When is your baby shower?"
"I'm so happy you guys are so close!"

These statements and so much more seem to be the opening to a lot of conversations we have had lately. Since this has been happening much more than I had expected, I want to clear some things up.

First of all, I want to talk about the fundraising. Yes, we were extremely blessed by the trivia night, and we were so happy to raise such a large amount of money, but that was just a portion of what we still need to raise. We have wanted to be really open and honest with everyone in this whole process. We have totaled up what we still owe and have subtracted what we have raised and saved, and we still have a total of $17, 563! Yes, international adoption is extremely expensive. So no, our fundraising and our need for support is not over. We do not want to overwhelm all our friends and family with fundraiser after fundraiser, but we are planning on having a few more. We are praying that some of you will feel lead to give in ways that others cannot. We have said this before, but we know that many of our friends and family see the need to rescue orphans and bring them into loving homes. We know that many of you have already gave on our behalf and for that we cannot thank you enough. For those of you still considering, we ask you to please pray about giving on our behalf. We do have a place on the right side of this blog where you can donate online straight to our adoption agency. Please make sure you follow the directions below the picture on our blog to make sure your donation goes to our behalf. You can also mail us or personally give it to us. We know that the Lord has called us to bring this child from Ethiopia into our home and be a part of our family, and we know that the Lord is going to provide everything that we need in order to do so. I have had many nights where I have been stressed and worried about the finances that are linked to this adoption, but I am now standing firm in my faith and trusting that all things work for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.

Okay, that was a long first. We have just wanted to be very honest this entire process. If you want to know more about our finances, please don't hesitate to ask. We have a list of things and how much they cost to get the number that we have, but I didn't want to write out a huge list of every detail. I will gladly share it though.

Okay so now to the next big question.... WHEN IS THIS BABY COMING?
REAL ANSWER: WE HAVE NO IDEA! However, we have a pretty good estimate that it will not be this year. Ethiopian adoptions are taking much longer than they used to for a variety of many reasons. Many people assumed that with our trivia night, the baby was coming super soon; however, we knew we had such a large amount of money to raise that we needed to get started on fundraising right away!

I can tell you that many of the families that are bringing home their children right now have been waiting for 2 years since their papers arrived in Ethiopia. Although we are praying that things go faster than they look, we want everyone to be aware so you can be praying for us during this long waiting period.  There are many nights like last night where I just cry. The thought of having to wait two more years seems unbearable. I am not saying it will be two years, but we probably have at least another year possibly more. Our papers have only been in Ethiopia since December. A group of moms that are adopting from Ethiopia from our adoption agency have pretty much got the system down, and have made an unofficial list of everyone who is waiting. Right now, we are #82 for a boy and number #81 for a girl. It seems crazy that in a country full of orphans that it would take so long. Government regulations and requirements have really tightened up, and they are really examining each family and case much more closely than they have in the past.

So in what turned out to be a much longer post than I had expected, here is the short version of the numbers:
Cost remaining: $17,563
Time remaining: Not certain, but most likely at least a year or more ahead of us.

Like always, we ask that you please continue to keep us in your thoughts and prayers. We love you.