Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Dreaming, Wishing, Hoping & Praying a Merry Christmas to our future baby son in Ethiopia!

Last year at this time, we were praying for a little boy in Rwanda. We still pray for him, but also hope that he's now been adopted into a caring, loving home! This year as we enter the holidays our prayers now include our future baby boy who is somewhere in Ethiopia. We're dreaming, wishing, hoping & praying a Merry Christmas for him as we prepare our hearts & home for his arrival here sometime in 2011! Keep him in your prayers that he is safe as he waits for us!

Enjoy this video! (Be sure to pause our music player at the bottom of our blog.)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Orphan Sunday -- Nov. 7, 2010

This Sunday is known by many Christians as Orphan Sunday! Churches all around the nation will be setting aside time to pray for the fatherless, visit orphans, and educate their congregations about caring for children that are without families. I had never heard of this until we started the adoption process ourselves, and I think it is one of the coolest things! What a great way to spread the word about the needs of orphans and the opportunities for foster care and adoption.

Watch this video & please pray for orphans worldwide this Sunday! And, our continuing request, please pray for our baby-boy-to-be that's somewhere in Ethiopia waiting for us to bring him home! (be sure to put our music player at the bottom of our blog on "pause" before starting this video)

Why Love Orphans? from Christian Alliance for Orphans on Vimeo.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Out of the mouths of babes

With my eyes half way open this morning at 6 a.m., I heard our 5 year old daughter in our master bathroom talking to Daddy while he was getting ready for work. She woke up with lots to say about God, heaven, love, etc.!!! I only heard tidbits of what she was saying, but one line that really caught my attention was this, "If we're not sure what God is telling us, then we need to read His Bible to understand!" Wow, it's that simple! From the mouth of our "baby" was the simplest explanation of how to understand what God is telling us to do!

During our adoption journey so far, we've encountered many ups, downs, highs & lows -- as to be expected. We continue to turn our hearts to God for answers during uncertain times. Many times, we've wondered, where is He sending us? What is His plan for us in this journey? Who is this child He's chosen for us? Many times the questions go unanswered, but we can always find answers/direction in His Word -- the B-I-B-L-E (as my 5 year old would say).

My 5 year old's words reminded me of His words: "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." Psalm 119:105

Thanks Kaitlyn for putting it all back into perspective! :)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Paper Pregnancy #2 -- 40 weeks to go -- more or less!

Over the past week, we've accomplished much, and yet it's just the beginning!

• Completed and submitted new application for Ethiopia adoption program
• Accepted to AWAA's Ethiopia program as a transfer from their Rwanda program
• Assigned a new family coordinator with our adoption agency. (Basically, she's the one to hold our hand along the paper pregnancy trail so that we don't get lost along the way!) Yeah!
• Given a NEW stack of paperwork to review and sign -- 96 pages to be exact! (These will be merged with our original 128 page stack from Rwanda, so that we can maybe not really start from scratch this time.)
• And, my favorite item (although it really doesn't get us to Ethiopia any quicker) -- we redesigned our blog thanks to Becky at Adopt Africa Digital Designs (http://adoptafrica.blogspot.com/) -- love her!
I think the redesign of the blog is a fresh start for a fresh new "paper pregnancy".

So, here we go! We hope you enjoy this journey with us! And, this time, we hope it only takes 40 weeks or less (like a "regular" pregnancy). :)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

We're in!

Today we we got the word! We are officially accepted in the Ethiopia program with our adoption agency. All of our paperwork, payments, etc. transferred, so we can get back to our home study and dossier prep. Yippee!  Little baby boy, we're one step closer to you!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Ethiopian orphans

A quick video overview of a few of the orphanages in Ethiopia. Just looking at all of these faces reinforces our decision to adopt from Ethiopia. If you have a few minutes, take a look (but make sure you have the tissue box handy) . . . (oh, and please pause my music player at the bottom of the blog so that you can hear the music on the video). More to come . . .

Ethiopian Orphans from Simon Scionka on Vimeo.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

From Rwanda to Ethiopa . . . millions of orphans need loving homes!

From my previous posts you probably know by now, Rwanda officially closed it's doors to accepting new dossiers as of August 31st.  Although it is just a temporary close for them to put in better safeguards for international adoptions, it's unknown as to when they will re-open their doors for new dossier submissions. When we heard this news, we were heartbroken. How could this door be closing when it seemed like that was the direction God was leading?  Over the past week and a half, we've been in agony over which way to turn. We turned our hearts to God in prayer asking for answers too. It seems that along the way we've had a few signs telling us what to do! But the most important fact is that there are more than 147 million orphans all over the world that are just waiting for a loving home to take them in!   I think the message we “thought” we were hearing from God was “adopt from Rwanda”, but maybe His real message to us was just “adopt!” 

So over this brief period of time, we been praying, researching, seeking advice from our agency, friends & family. As of Sunday following church, it became clear to us that we should transfer our adoption program from Rwanda to Ethiopia. We sent our official notice to our agency this week for this transfer and should have a definite answer from them in the next two weeks. Ethiopia is such a different country than Rwanda, but one thing remains the same . . . they have LOTS of orphans in need of loving families. We are learning each day more & more about Ethiopia, but the most striking fact in my mind in that they have 5 million orphans. So we're hoping that by next summer, we'll be able to be a loving family to at least one of them.

We continue to lean on you, our friends and family, as we jump over the new hurdles for completing our dossier to Ethiopia.  Thanks for all your doing and have done to see us through this time!!! Soon, little Xan will be part of our wonderful family! :)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Keep Praying

We are still at a crossroads in our adoption process. We're not sure which way to turn . . .wait on Rwanda or transfer to another country? We're praying for God's leading in this and hope we hear His still small voice to answer our call to adoption. We thought we heard Him over the past year saying "adopt from Rwanda" but maybe He was just saying "adopt"! Please keep praying for us.

-- Stephanie

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Praying for all orphans & outreach to orphans

Although the doors to adoption in Rwanda are temporarily closed. . . there is still so much we can do. Watch this heart-wrenching video from Saddleback on Rwandan orphan care as well as local orphan initiatives. (be sure to pause our music player at the bottom of our blog before turning on video)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

When one door closes . . . another opens?

In my last post, I mentioned that there was a possibility that Rwanda was going to put a hold on all adoption dossiers (applications).  Well, it’s now official.  As of today, Rwanda has put a temporary hold on all dossier submissions while they work toward becoming Hague compliant and to set up a stable foundation for their adoption program. The government in Rwanda has not disclosed a timeframe for this temporary suspension, but has stated they will not accept new dossiers until Hague measures are put into place.

Needless to say, we’re feeling a bit disheartened and feeling this door may be closed for us (at least temporarily). Since there is no specific timeframe for this suspension, many families in the same position as us are deciding from one of the following: 1) wait indefinitely for Rwanda to re-open it’s doors for international adoptions, 2) transfer to another international adoption program, 3) adopt domestically, or 4) end the adoption process. We plan to talk to our adoption agency in the next few days to review all of our options and seek their advice as well.

As we stand at these crossroads, we truly have no idea what God’s plan is for us. We feel as though there is a baby boy, somewhere out there, just waiting to become a part of our family (and we thought/felt he was in Rwanda). However, we need to make a decision as to how to proceed forward.

Please keep us in your prayers over the next few days as we try to make some decisions on this and as we seek God’s guidance in whatever direction He leads us.

My heart is overwhelmed with emotion/tears/fears as we cross this next hurdle in our adoption plan. As always, we’ll keep you posted . . . more to come!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Uncertainty in International Adoption

So, we continue our paper chase, but received some uncertain news from our adoption agency yesterday. We know there are lots of ups'n'downs in int'l adoption, but so far we've only had "ups" and the note we got may be a "down." The note said, "The Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion in Rwanda has implied that they would like to put a hold on accepting new dossiers at this time for the purpose of focusing on becoming part of the Hague Convention and to focus on the dossiers currently in their possession." This is still being confirmed and the actual dates for the "hold" have not been announced. 

We have not yet submitted our dossier, but had planned to get it to Rwanda before the end of the year. The dossier is basically the entire binder of paperwork about our family along with certifications from our gov't to their gov't that we are eligible for adopting from Rwanda. So, if this news is confirmed from Rwanda, the "downside" for us is that they may not accept our dossier when we're ready to submit it. The "upside" is that they may be integrating the Hague Convention safeguards which ensure that their adoptions take place in the best interest of the child with respect to his/her rights as recognized in international law.

With this news, although disappointing because it could slow down our process a bit, we are still optimistic and continue our "paper pregnancy." We'll keep you all posted and ask that you continue to pray for Rwandan adoptions since there are so many children just waiting to be taken to their new homes!

"But they they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." Isaiah 40:31 (KJV)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

"Loving Family" dolls

Our 5 year old daughter has been collecting "Loving Family" dolls over this past year. For her birthday two weeks ago, Grandma gave her the doll house to go with her toys.  Needless to say she was thrilled. This morning while playing with her dolls here are some family portraits she wanted to take with our camera and how she described them:

Our family now:

Our family when Xan gets here:

Our family & friends:

So cute!  I love how she's putting everything together & embracing what our family will soon look like. 

My only question is: does this mean I have to buy a  mini van? 

Talk to you soon! -- Stephanie

Next steps to "Xan"

Finally an update from us!!! Truth be told: Spring and summer flew by and our adoption paperwork sat on my desk. But now fall has arrived (AKA school has started), and we're running as quickly as we can with our adoption process.

So here's the latest . . . we had our first meeting with our social worker on Friday night to begin our home study. It was so nice to finally meet her face-to-face and she really put us at ease about the whole process. We met for 3 hours and had our orientation to the whole home study process. We reviewed the ins/out, ups/downs, tears & joys that come with this journey. After this meeting the ball's back in our court. We still have two more meetings with her before our home study can be complete, but basically need to complete about 99% of our paperwork before meeting with her again. It was such a positive experience to open our meeting with Bible verses and prayers! We love that we're working with a Christian adoption agency and ultimately know that God will see us through this and keep our baby safe in the meantime.

The good news is that I have 3 full days a week now that I can concentrate whole-heartedly on the paperwork/process. Our 5 year old daughter started kindergarten this week/3 full days a week which frees up much of my time. She is thrilled to be in Kindergarten and I've realized that my "little baby" is now a school girl!! Which really makes me even more motivated to bring another sweet baby into our lives, and she keeps asking "Mommy, when is my brother Xan getting here?" Thus, more pressure from her too -- I'm happy to report that she's simply thrilled with the idea of adopting. When we initially started our adoption process last November, we felt she was a bit too young to discuss it at that point. But now, she totally gets it and says "Mommy, we need to hurry because Xan needs a new family and clean water too." So sweet! BTW, the story on "Xan". We've already named our baby-to-be Alexander AKA Xan. This has made life a lot easier when we refer to our baby-to-be with a name rather than the little baby from Rwanda who'll soon join our family. We're not sure if this name will "stick" once we meet him, but for now that's what we call him. :)

This week, Jim & I are writing our autobiographies for our home study. Step-by-step, and little-by-little, we're one day closer to our little baby boy. We love you Xan & pray for you every day!!!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Celebrating 15 Years!!!

Today, I celebrate 15 years of being married to my best friend! Our days have been filled with love, adventure and fun! And, now with our pending adoption, a new adventure is just beginning.

It's seems like since we've been together, God has had us on the 5 year plan! We started dating in college & married 5 years later. Then on our 5th anniversary, we bought our first home in Santa Monica. Then at our 10th anniversary, I was pregnant with our darling daughter, Kaitlyn. And now at 15 years, God has us starting a new adventure into the blessings (and challenges) of adoption. I think He must know that we're always ready for something new in our lives!

We are so thrilled as we are hearing the stories of many families from our adoption agency either traveling to Rwanda to finalize their adoptions or just recently getting back. The stories fill our hearts with joy & tears. Many of our friends and family keep asking us, when are you brining home your precious baby boy??? Well, here's our latest "timeline" which I understand can change on a daily basis. We've just begun the "paper pregnancy" or "paper chase" which takes about 3 - 10 months depending on how quickly we finish the paperwork. After the paper chase officially becomes our dossier, it then goes to the government of Rwanda. From there, it takes approximately 7 to 9 months to receive our "referral" for our little baby boy, and then we can make plans to travel.

So, here we sit with mounds of paperwork, but are encouraged weekly by our new family coordinator and our social worker. We also plan to have our first home study visit with our social worker when we return from vacation in early June (yeah!).

So the answer to the question "when will he be here?" is difficult to say, but Lord willing, by this time next year!!!!! But with international adoption that can change on a daily basis, so we'll keep you posted!

So today I'll close with some favorite verses that have become our daily affirmation: "Rejoice in the Lord always I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. " Philippians 4:4-7

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Paperwork . . . and lots of it!

We just finished printing out 128 pages of adoption agreements, explanations and forms. Looks like I have my evening reading planned for me. :)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Let the paper chase (AKA paper pregnancy) begin!

Yeah! Today we received our official Rwanda program information/paperwork from our adoption agency! We've now been assigned our family coordinator to help us gather our paperwork (dossier) to send to Rwanda. We also were assigned our social worker to begin our home study process. It really feels official now & we can begin gathering all of our paperwork to prove to that we will be great adoptive parents. Yippee! Our "paper pregnancy" has begun . . .

Friday, March 19, 2010

Catching up on our Blog!

Sorry that I've been so delayed on this blog. We've had lots going on, but from now on, I'll be more diligent! :)

Between fun travels, relatives & friends visiting us, and a mix of holidays thrown in . . . TODAY we finally submitted our first "round" of paperwork to our adoption agency. We were officially accepted into the Rwandan adoption program around Thanksgiving, but it's taken us this long to get our act together to review the first round of paperwork. So off to FedEx I went today to send in our official agreements with our agency, first payment, as well as our certificates of completion for a 12 hour training course. We really enjoyed the training course (online), but it took us longer to complete than we anticipated since it was full of vital information regarding international adoption. I realized while taking it that adoption is not for the faint of heart and this training prepared us for any obstacles that we might encounter along the way. In the end we were so glad to have taken this course and to have this important information at our fingertips.

So, today, I cleared my desk of the first round of paperwork (and I FedExed our tax documents to our accountant as well). :) Next steps, we wait for approximately 10 days to hear back from our agency. At that time they'll assign us a family coordinator to help and support us every step of the way. They will also assign us our social worker for the "dreaded" home study, which actually sounds worse than it really is (or at least we hope).

We are OFFICIALLY on our way with our first steps to our precious little boy. Please keep him & us in your prayers. :)

More to come . . .

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Faces of Rwanda slide show

Our hearts go out to the approx. 1 million orphans in Rwanda. (be sure to turn off music player at the bottom of our blog before viewing this video)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!!! 2010 is HERE and we are thrilled to start this new chapter in our family life. We feel so fortunate as we count our many blessings from this past year and are excited to share these with a child who is less fortunate.

Adoption Update:

We’ve spent the last month announcing our adoption plans to friends and family and now we are ready to start the infamous paperwork of adoption. It’s been a rollercoaster ride already in getting everyone’s reactions to our decision. Some are thrilled and are cheering us on, others see this as part of God’s plan for our family, and others are very wary of the idea of intercountry adoption. Needless to say, we’ve been given lots of advice, shared stories of adoption, and many prayers for our family. With prayerful hearts and much support from many of you, we are ready for the journey before us!

Let the Paperwork Begin:

To get the ball rolling, we were sent about 10 documents from our adoption agency that we need to review and sign and return with our first installment payment of $1,500 (you’ll hear us talk about his more, since no adoption is inexpensive). While reviewing these documents, we are also completing a mandatory 10-hour Hague Intercountry Adoption training course that was prepared by the National Council for Adoption. The training course has answered many of our questions and educated us on the ups, downs, ins and outs of intercountry adoption.

We hope to complete our initial documents and the training course by the end of next week to send back to our agency. Once the agency has received this information from us, we will then be assigned a family coordinator to help us through the process and a social worker to complete our home study.

Lots to do before this adoption becomes a reality, but we are thrilled and hopeful for the coming months ahead!!!!

Next Update – why we chose Rwanda!