Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Blessings and bloggy friends...

We are so blessed.  In more ways than we can count.... 

I have started following many adoption blogs since we started on this journey.  Most of the adoption blogs I follow are families adoping from Ethiopia, and many of them are using Holt International as their agency (as we are).  Several blessings have come from my "blog-stalking" (as Drew calls it)!  I entered a drawing on this blog and we won!  This family is doing a coffee fundraiser through JUST LOVE COFFEE and selling coffee online.  $5 of each bag of coffee sold would go towards their adoption, but they have made the decision to split their proceeds with another family who is adopting.   What a neat thing for them to do and what a blessing to us...  If you are interested in ordering coffee or other merchandise and helping to fund both our adoption and this family's adoption, click here and order!  Each day I'm amazed at the ways God is showing us this is His plan for our family.  Who knew that a "random" family who is also adopting would be such a blessing to us.  Even cooler, we discovered that we are using the same adoption agency, are very close in the process, and only live several hours from each other.  It's crazy to think that we could be traveling to Ethiopia at the same time and our children could be friends someday :)  I love how technology can be used for such a greater good!

I also LOVE this blog and so enjoy seeing her new creations.  Laura sews all kinds of amazing goodies and sells them in order to fund their Ethiopian adoptions (they have already adopted one little guy and are in the process of adopting another).  She did a giveaway several weeks ago on her blog (see here) in celebration of one-month on the waiting list for their little one and I WON!!  We love our ornament and I plan to hang it on our fireplace after the Christmas decorations are down as a constant reminder of our little one...  To order your own ornament, visit this etsy shop

Thank you to everyone who continues to support us through prayer.  You are such a blessing to us and we are so very thankful for your love and continued support!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

All I Really Want For Christmas

This afternoon I've been doing a lot of praying and thinking while Evan naps.  I've been looking at the 4th stocking hanging on our fireplace without a name on it and wondering when that stocking will have a name and face to go with it.  I've been wondering how long we will wait to see our baby's face and whether or not she will be spending our next Christmas with us.  I've been thinking about names and dreaming about how wonderful it will be to see Evan love on his baby sister.  I've been dreaming about little pink clothes and how I plan to decorate her room.  And if I'm being honest, I've been having a little pity party for myself wondering why the list isn't moving as quickly as I'd like.  And then I came across this video and have been bawling like a baby.  There are soo many children who need families (over 5 million in just Ethiopia).

But the truth of the matter is, God is in control and He already has OUR CHILD chosen for OUR FAMILY.  She may or may not be born right now. He knows what the timing will be and He will give us the strength and patience to get us through this long and emotional process.  But sometimes it's just so hard.  Today is one of those days.  But even in these tough days, I pray that I will always be reminded that adoption is NOT ABOUT US.  It's about how we can serve HIM and in doing so, give these orphaned children a FAMILY (a perfect representation of how we are orphaned in sin and then adopted by Christ).  I definitely have a different perspective this Christmas.  I pray we can all take a step back in these next few days and really reflect on why we celebrate Christmas and give thanks for the gift of baby Jesus on that special day in Bethlehem so many years ago.  Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Our Dossier is in Ethiopia!!

We received an email from our adoption agency yesterday that our dossier has arrived in Ethiopia!  To those of you wondering what this means, not a whole lot...  But it does mean we're one more step closer to our little one.  We will still be waiting awhile for our referral...  But it's still exciting news!!

Friday, December 3, 2010

What We've Been Up To...

We've been.... 
decorating the house for Christmas... 

making a paper chain to count down to our referral (we moved at least 3 spots this week!)...

visiting Santa (somewhat reluctantly, but he wanted to make sure Santa knows what to bring!)..

and finally sitting on his lap for a quick happy picture...

and playing at the Indianapolis Childrens museum...

We've been busy, but we're having oh so much fun!!

Monday, November 29, 2010

An Unexpected Blessing

This is Drew again... As many of you know, one thing we wanted to do as we go through our adoption is to provide as much information and encouragement to others that may be considering adoption. I wrote this post a few months ago sharing about the costs of adoption. Going along with that, we received a great blessing recently!

For those who don't know, Lifesong for Orphans is a great non-profit organization that cares for orphans in many ways. One of them is by helping those who are adopting that are facing a mountain of expenses related to the adoption.

A few months ago, we filled out an application through our church and Lifesong. We just got word that our church, through Lifesong, awarded us a matching grant of $2,500! We weren't expecting this, but because our church has set funds aside to help those within our congregation who are adopting we were awarded this matching grant. Wow, what a blessing!

One thing Lifesong does is allow you to set up an account with them so that those people who have wanted to partner with you and your adoption expenses can send their contribution to Lifesong and have it be tax deductible. Since we had a few people ask us if they could help, we filled out the application hoping to just get an account for the tax deduction. But, with our church having a separate set of funds set aside to use for families adopting, we were given a matching grant. So, the first $2,500 given to our Lifesong account will be doubled!

We had decided that we didn't want to try to "raise support" as some people do (which we don't condemn at all, just a personal decision). Although we had decided not to actively fundraise, we have been amazed and blessed by people who have sought us out to see if they can partner with us financially as their way to support orphan care. For those people who have asked us, you can email Ashley or I for more details and our Lifesong account number.

For those considering adoption: As I said in the post about adoption costs - don't let expenses hold you back from adopting. I know that there are more people that want to partner with you than you realize.

We feel so blessed by our church, Lifesong, and those who are partnering with us both in prayer and financially - and we look forward to "paying it forward" for other adoptive families in the future.

Friday, November 19, 2010


We are officially waiting!!  We received our I-171H yesterday and over-nighted it to our adoption agency in Oregon last night.  They received it this morning, approved it (with no revisions- all that double and triple checking paid off!), and added us to the list!  Our agency will now send our dossier to be authenticated by the US State Department and Embassy of Ethiopia and we will be notified when it reaches Ethiopia!

For those of you wondering what #56 means (I've been asked that question several times already)...  Basically, there are 55 families in our agency waiting for children ahead of us....  They aren't necessarily waiting for infant girls (could be older children or boys), but they are ahead of us.  We will be receiving monthly updates as the list moves and our number changes....  Our agency is estimating that our wait time for our referral (child match and picture) will be 3-9 months... Obviously we are praying it's closer to the 3-month mark, but it's totally in God's hands and His perfect timing... 

Thanks to everyone for all the support and encouragement through this process...  It means so much to us!!  As they say in the adoption world....  WE ARE OFFICIALLY PAPER PREGNANT!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The circus and the waiting.....

My parents asked us to go to the circus with them last weekend...  This was Evan's 2nd circus experience, and I think it's safe to say he loved this one more than the last.... 

The popcorn bucket was almost as big as him!

Enamored by all the animals and tricks!

For all of you who may be wondering where we are with our adoption- We are STILL waiting on the immigration document we need in order to submit our dossier and be officially waiting. To say we are frustrated is to put it mildly. We have been flat-out lied to several times that the form was in the mail and on it's way to us only to find out last night that our file hasn't even been processed and was just sitting on someone's desk. Thankfully, we have someone working on it now who we are confident will get it taken care of... I never would have guessed that I would be more emotional during this adoption process than while I was pregnant with Evan, but I definitely am (even in just the 4 months or so we've been on this roller coaster!). As hard and emotional as it has been, we know that God has a plan in all of this. He has our child already picked for us and we are trying to remember that it shouldn't matter what number we are on the waiting list, but it's still hard sometimes. He knows what number we need to be on that list in order to match up with our daughter... Your prayers are much appreciated as we wait and learn more about resting in Him and His PERFECT timing...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Preschool at home!

 One of my friends starting using a homeschool curriculum (it's online and FREE!) for her 3 year old, and she has told me what a success it has been at their house.   So I took on the challenge a couple of weeks ago as well.   It has been wonderful for both Evan and I.  It gives us a little something to look forward to on the days when we don't have things planned and he's learning lots too.  It's Bible-based, so he is learning Bible verses as well as other preschool things.  We are still unsure what we will do for Evan as far as school (public, private, homeschool), but for now this is working great! 
First day- learning about how God created the day and night, the number 1, and the colors black and white.
All ready to start preschool!  I don't have his playroom set up the way I want it yet, but I hope to buy a few things at a teachers store soon to make it look more like school....  I'll post pictures when I have it done!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

My "Nice" Dragon

And now for some pictures that someone (I won't name names!) informed me were long overdue....
 My little dragon- he kept saying that he was a "nice" dragon and not a scary dragon..  Too cute!!  He enjoyed trick-or-treating even though he was a little under the weather this weekend....

I just had to include this picture my mom took last week of E in the leaves.  Too cute :)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Orphan Sunday

True Religion from Christian Alliance for Orphans on Vimeo.

Orphan Sunday is this weekend...  I pray that you seek God and how He wants to use you to help the millions of orphans worldwide.  We may not all be called to adopt, but He does call us to defend the orphans and fatherless.  I hope this video helped you to put things in perspective.  I know it did for me....  

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."  James 1:27

Monday, October 18, 2010

Oh How We Love The Fall...

We had a great weekend!  Filled with lots of family time and fall activities! 

This little guy LOVES the leaves!

Especially when Daddy plays in the leaves with him!
His old bike was getting too small- so Ty gave him his old one last weekend in Chicago.  And he LOVES it! 

Corn maze at the pumpkin farm!

Hay ride at the pumpkin farm!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Recent Happenings!

Evan had storytime at the fire station a couple weeks ago.  The alarm even went off while we were there, so the kids got a true picture of what happens there!  He loved it :)

Ma bought Evan a soccer ball at a garage sale a few weeks ago.  He is LOVING kicking it around...  We may have a soccer player on our hands!!

Reading, Reading and more Reading...  This guy shares my love of reading and it makes me oh so happy!!  We spend lots of time snuggled up with his books :)

We made cut-out sugar cookies last week shaped like pumpkins and then frosted them orange and green.  He had a blast!  Needless to say, my kitchen needed a good cleaning after we finished :)

We made a quick trip to Chicago this past weekend to see Evan's cousins (and their parents too!).  We got to see Hailey play softball and Ty play football.  This guy sure loves his cousins!!  He's already asking when we can go visit again!

They have a golf cart that they use to ride back and forth to the high school just down the road from them.  E loved it!   And he even drove it most of the weekend (no worries, he was only steering and Drew had control of the foot pedals!)

On our way home from Chicago, we stopped at "The Choo Choo Restaurant" (one of Ty and Hailey's favorite places).  It's a diner-style restaurant and there is a train track that goes around the restaurant and back through the kitchen that delivers you your food.  Evan loved it!

Here it is delivering him his train cupcake :)  Too cute!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Family Photos

One of my best friends (Lindsey Sanders- she was also my doubles partner in high school) is a very talented photographer.  She was so kind to offer to take 3-year photos of Evan and also some family photos.  They turned out great and we're so grateful for her kindness in taking the time out of her busy schedule (she has 3 children under the age of 4) to take pictures of our little family.  These are just a few of my favorites.

Loving on his momma :)

Notice the lipstick marks on E's cheek :)

Make sure to look in the background!  She's so creative!

Love his blue eyes in this one!

Lindsey told me after we were finished that she can't wait to take more pictures when we have one more little person in our family photo...  We couldn't agree more!!  Thanks so much Lindsey!  We love you!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Biometrics Appointments- The Good News and The Bad News

Well, here's the good news first:

We received our biometrics appointments!  For those of you unfamiliar with international adoption, this is all a part of the USCIS paperwork we are waiting on in order to submit our dossier.  You submit your application, and then receive an appointment date and time for your fingerprinting.  We knew that our appointments would be at one of two places (both about 2 hours from our house) and that we would have to drop whatever we may have planned that day to make our appointments. 

And now for the bad news:

We received 2 different appointment times!  Drew's appointment is 3:00pm on a Monday and mine is at 3:00pm on a Tuesday.  Seriously?!?  So, needless to say, we will be making 2 trips...  I tell you what- this adoption stuff is not for the faint of heart!! 

And more good news:

Once our biometrics are approved, we should receive the approval form, submit our dossier, and then officially be waiting for our daughter!! 

Thanks again for all the prayers..  We appreciate the support so much!!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

One Less Video

One more life touched by the miracle of adoption..  And who knows how many more lives will be touched through this new song...

You can click on the title to this post OR click on the above link and you should be able to view the video... 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Adoption Costs

This is Drew again. As many of you know, one thing we wanted to do as we go through our adoption is to provide as much information and encouragement to others that may be considering adoption. We decided we'd have an open book, and share all that we could share, because if we could help even 1 more person decide to provide a family for an orphan in need, it would be well worth our effort.

So we wanted to talk about the costs of our adoption from Ethiopia, as that is one of the most often asked questions.

There was a funny story on Jon & Amy's blog that sums up the misunderstandings and interest the people have in the financial part of adoption:

Amy was asked, by a young neighbor girl, in front of other adult neighbors,

Girl: How much did you pay for your babies?

Amy: You know sweetie, people don’t pay for babies. You can’t put a price on kids.

Girl: I heard it’s lots of money.

Amy: We paid money for a service, for people to help us find Jada and Adia. Just like your Mommy paid a doctor so he would help her have you. Does that make sense?

Girl: Yeah…So, how much was it?

I thought this interaction was so cute - and so telling of the misconception out there with international adoption. Yes, it is expensive, but it's not in any way because you are "buying" a baby.

Of our expenses with our agency, Holt, the largest portion goes to the
Ethiopian Program Fee which is basically paid to the orphanage in Ethiopia. They have staff to pay for, kids to feed, agency workers to complete paperwork and assist you while you're in country, etc. If these fees weren't being paid to the orphanages, they wouldn't be able to stay open, and thousands more kids worldwide would be living on the streets, or worse yet, wouldn't survive without proper care.

Here's a breakdown of how the fees work out for our adoption:
Paperwork Fees (homestudy, agency work, post-placement, etc.): approximately $5,000
Ethiopia In-Country Fee (Orphanage, in-country case workers, child care, etc.): appr. $10,000
Travel (Ethiopia requires TWO trips: airfare, hotels, food): appr. $10,000
Various Gov't Paperwork (i-600A immigration form, Visas, etc.): appr. $1,000

You can do it (and so can we)!
For those considering adoption - I will just say this: The Lord will provide for His causes. Don't let the finances discourage you from something so amazing as helping there be one less orphan in this world. We've talked to many people who have said that they would like to adopt, but the financial burden seems to big to handle - don't let money hold you back!

There are many things that you can do:
  • There is an adoption tax credit from the government
  • There are many organizations that do adoption grants
  • Many people send out fund-raising letters (which we have chosen not to)
  • Many people do fund raisers, bake sales, sell t-shirts, garage sales, etc. (we may do some of these)
  • There are interest free loans available (typically used as a "hold over" until you receive the tax credit the next year)
What are we doing - and what would I recommend?
Clearly, the adoption expenses are more than we can handle on our own. We decided early on that we didn't want to do fund-raising letters, even though we don't think there's anything wrong with taking that path.

But, we've had many people come up to us, completely unexpected, letting us know that they wanted to partner with us, and for that we are truly grateful and blessed. The generosity of our family, friends, and church family has been amazing! Thank you so much for your support!

Today, I'm mailing some paperwork to Lifesong for Orphans, a non-profit organization that awards matching grants to families in the adoption process (and has a special arrangement to do so with our church). A matching grant would mean that every dollar donated would be doubled (up to a certain amount) - which would be amazing. The other benefit of having a lifesong account is that any money that people donate now or in the future, will be made out to Lifesong (a 501c3 non-profit), therefore will be tax-deductible, but will 100% go to us for our adoption expenses.
Anyone can set up an account like this at Lifesong and I think it's a great option for most people.

If you're considering adoption, just like we have been blessed by the support of friends and family, we know God will provide for you too. As always, feel free to contact Ashley or I if you would like more information!


Friday, September 17, 2010

Home Study is Complete!!!

Evan holding our Homestudy!!!

Hip Hip Hooray!  We received our original, signed and notarized copies of our homestudy in the mail yesterday.  Today we are mailing out our I-600A application to the US Dept of Homeland Security and should receive the approval of that within 30-60 days.  At that point, we will be able to submit our dossier paperwork to Holt (our adoption agency) which means we will officially be on the waiting list.  I got a little emotional today when I held the homestudy in my hands.  This really is REAL!  We are so excited to have our little girl home!  Thanks to everyone for all the prayers and encouragement. 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Go Irish!!

Nothing much new here....  We've been enjoying this beautiful weather and are spending lots of time outside.  Drew is excited about football season and hopeful for Notre Dame's season.  I am excited about bonfires, sweatshirts, pumpkin flavored foods, and all the other fun things of fall.  And Evan is just loving life and soaking up every bit of the outside before the weather turns cold.  He  is also really into riding his bike right now and we have been amazed at how well he's doing with pedaling and steering all by himself.  As far as adoption updates- We are still waiting for our homestudy to be completed.  We received our first draft today and hopefully will have it completed very quickly.  Then we have a couple more papers to gather to complete our dossier paperwork and one important paper to  file with the US gov't (that could take 1-2 months to get back) and then we can submit our completed dossier  to HOLT (our adoption agency).  Once that is approved, we will be officially waiting!  Thanks for all the prayers and support- it means more than you know!
He loves his momma!!
Kisses from the little man- nothing better than that!!
Watching the ACD parade in Auburn this past weekend.  All dressed up in our ND gear for the big game!!

Matthew West - My Own Little World (Slideshow With Lyrics)

Evan and I listen to a local Christian radio station pretty much all day long- whether we are at home or in the car.  This song has been really speaking to me lately.  Drew and I have been praying over the last few months specifically for God to break our hearts for what breaks His.  I have been amazed at how much my perspectives have shifted as I learn more and more about the poverty and living conditions around the world- and specifically in Ethiopia.   It's soo easy to get caught up in the little things of this world and the things we call "problems".  But there IS a bigger picture and a greater purpose and God longs for us to open our eyes and hearts to the things that have ETERNAL value.  I know I don't want to miss what matters....  Do you??

I had a few technical difficulties with embedding this video... I think if you click on "Watch it in YouTube" you will be able to view it! 

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

He's Healthy!

Evan had his 3-year check-up with Dr. Camille yesterday.  He did amazingly well.  This is the first time he hasn't freaked out when we walked in the door.  I think all of the "talking" we did before the visit really helped- and the pretend doctors instruments from Ma and Papa helped too!  He only cried a little when he got his shot- we were so proud of him.  Dr. Camille said he is a very healthy boy and he weighed in at 39 lbs and 38 3/4 inches... We have a big 3 year old on our hands! 

And for an adoption update....  We hope to have the first draft of our home study in our hands by the end of this week...  I know in most people's terms we are probably moving along quickly- but it sure seems slow to me!!  Check out Evan's "Adoption Rocks" t-shirt in the above picture...  It was one of his birthday gifts...  He loves talking about his baby sister in Africa when he wears it..  Too cute!! 

Friday, August 27, 2010


Our baby is 3 already...  Where did the time go???  This was the first year he really understood what his birthday meant and he was such a joy to watch.  It's amazing how much he's come out of his shell within a year's time... We love this little guy soo soo much!!
He was so excited when he woke up and saw his birthday banner hanging from the fireplace!
Family picture before the party started :)
His monkey cupcakes- this guy loves Curious George and also sleeps with a couple of monkey stuffed animals every night...  Drew helped with the decorating- it took awhile, but it was so worth it to see how much E enjoyed them!
The birthday boy!
Opening gifts- he didn't need much help at all this time... :)
Laughing at the card from Grandpa Brad and Grandma Charna- it sang the Chicken Dance song- he thought it was hilarious!
His big gift from Mommy and Daddy :)
What a spoiled little boy!  He got so many nice toys and clothes...  This was taken right before bed- He wanted us to leave everything "right there so he could play with them in the morning".  Too cute!!