Sunday, March 29, 2009

Mystery of Life # 367

Today I am contemplating one of life's big mysteries. Namely, why does the phrase" Mommy, let's go build a snowman together" actually mean "Mommy, I want you to build a snowman while I watch"?
Still, I am happy to report that I have regained most of the feeling in my fingers and my boys think I'm a hero (for now, at least).
Today, I am thankful for my bread machine and crockpot. How nice to spend the morning outside and to come in to the smell of bread baking and beef stew simmering away! I am also thankful to live in Oklahoma, where yesterday we got about 5 inches of snow and today the temperature has climbed into the mid-50's which makes it really nice for playing outside and taking advantage of all that snow before it melts.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Meet Rosie!

Romans 8:15-God has not given us the spirit of fear, but the spirit of adoption, by which we cry, Abba, Father.
We are very pleased to announce the official addition of Abigail Rozina (Abi Rose) to our family and pleased to finally be able to share her picture with you. Isn't this the most beautiful little girl in the whole world?

The LORD has done great things for us; we are filled with joy! -Psalm 126:3

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Tonight's The Night!

Yes, tonight somewhere between midnight and 7 a.m. (Friday in Ethiopia) the judge will decide whether all of our paperwork and all of Rosie's paperwork is in order, and if so Rosie will legally become a Moffatt.

Some things to keep in mind:

Roughly 30% of families do not pass court on their first issued court date.

If a family does not pass court initially, a new court date is usually issued approximately 1-1.5 months after the original court date.

We are told we can expect communication from America World within 24-48 hours after our court date. Most families hear from America World mid-day on the day, however confirmation from Ethiopia can sometimes be difficult due to power outages, disturbances in phone lines, etc...

I'm sure we'll let everyone know as soon as we know. '

We would appreciate your prayers.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Approaching Our Court Date-Type Thoughts

Court is now quickly approaching. On Friday a judge in Ethiopia will decide whether or not all of the paperwork is complete, at which point he will have the power to make Rosie legally our daughter. Emotionally, she's been our daughter since January 6, but we need that paperwork to be able to bring her home.

It has been an interesting couple of weeks. It has been a lot like the end of my pregnancies with the boys (minus the puffy ankles). I am tired. At almost two years into the process, I am really, really tired. My emotions are very close to the surface, and as such it takes very little for the tears to flow.

My mind has also shifted into overtime. Many of the last nights have been spent laying awake and thinking.

Up until last week, I honestly couldn't think of anything worse than not passing court. Then, we heard the new TB guidelines issued by the CDC and found out that if Rosie were found to have TB when she goes for her visa physical that she would not be granted a visa until her treatment was complete-at least a 6 month delay. And on that day, I couldn't think of anything worse than that.

But regardless of how things feel, I knew that there were things that were worse. And so began the battle for truth to win in my mind and emotions.

Truth: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Truth: Regardless of the outcome of court on Friday, it is for my good.

Truth: As much as I love Rosie and want to hold her and love on her and take care of her and protect her, I know that my God loves her more, can hold her closer, and can take better care of her than I ever will be able to.

And so, once again, it is about more than just an adoption. It is about learning to live out the reality of what I say I believe is true. Learning to live as if what matters most about Friday is not whether or not we pass court. What's really important is learning to trust God completely for the outcome and praise Him regardless of whether I can see the good in a situation or not.

Truth: That's not an easy thing to do. There are moments of perfect peace, but there are the moments when it is a battle of the will to choose to concentrate on what is true, not what my emotions tell me. And I don't always win those battles.

I am thankful for friends who are here to encourage as we approach the end of this stage of the
journey. Yesterday afternoon was spent with my mentor and friend. I won't presume to tell her story online, as it is her story not mine, but suffice it to say that she is walking through a valley darker than any that I could imagine. My worst fear has come true in her life, and although her heart breaks and mine breaks for her, it is still a challenge and encouragement to see her and hear her making the choice to rest in what she knows is true, even when our "human" eyes can't see how the situation is for God's glory or her good.

Truth: I will never (or at least as long as I am on this earth) fully understand all of what God is doing. I have human vision, not God vision. Isaiah 55: 8 "My thoughts are completely different from yours," says the LORD. "And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.

And so, today and tomorrow and Friday, I WILL rest. Not in a fatalistic, "well God's in control and I can't do anything about it-type way" or in a "what's supposed to be will be-type way", but in an "I am learning that trusting God because His ways are far better for me and my family than anything that I could imagine or hope or plan and so I will learn to trust and lean and rest-type way".

By the way, if you run into me in the next couple of days, remind me of that,okay??!!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Rosie's Room

Finally, the nursery is finished! As promised, here are some pictures:
The view entering her room
Rosie's toddler bed, compliments of Daddy, and quilt, compliments of Favorite Auntie Keri
I love the rug we found for in front of her bed. It's a rag rug and so soft and squishy underfoot
Close-up of her name and butterflies above her bed
Chest of drawers, shelves, and more butterflies

Flower bouquet from Pottery Barn Kids

(I usually resist all things Pottery Barn due to prices, but got these on sale!)

Rosie's doll ( the first one I bought for her) , the doll bed (compliments of my friend and mentor, Linda), and little quilt (made by Mommy)

I'm working on a little mattress for the doll's bed now. Other signs around the house point to a 3rd little one soon to join us. There's a 3rd hooded towel hanging in the children's bathroom, a 3rd car seat in the minivan, another stool under the bar and a 5th chair at the dining table (with a pink booster in it).
I finished my last round of typhoid vaccine today and have everything packed except for my clothes and toiletries.
Our court date is Friday in Ethiopia(somewhere between midnight-7am here). We should know definite travel dates within 4-5 days provided we pass.
As someone who likes to make plans and be organized, I really dislike this state of limbo waiting for court and definite travel dates. Staying busy helps some, but I will be so glad when Friday is here. Gareth is taking the day off to be home with me when the phone call comes to celebrate together or to have hugs and support if we don't.
I'm sure we'll post as soon as we know something.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Spring Break

I hadn't made any plans for Spring Break. I was just planning on plowing ahead with school.
What I hadn't counted on was the amount of noise that could be made by all of the neighbor kids who weren't in school.

In the end I decided it was just too mean to make the kids sit and do schoolwork while listening to everyone else outside playing. So, instead we enjoyed a week outside. The weather was fantastic, and we enjoyed getting our vegetable garden planted. Spinach, mixed leaf lettuces, radish, carrot, onion, peas,cabbage, broccoli, and brussel sprouts are now happily at home in their raised beds. After it warms up some more I'll put in the green beans, tomatoes, and peppers. I hope that we do as well this year as last and that soon we'll have lots of pictures of garden produce! Our nectarine tree is in full bloom, and we hope to put in a self-pollinating apple and cherry this Spring.

Noah really got into the gardening this year. He loved helping to prepare the soil and dig the holes for the plants. It was great to see him carefully measuring the spacing between onions to get nice even rows. Hopefully this year I have him convinced that he won't get to eat any nectarines if he pulls them all off of the tree so that he can see them better!

The other favorite activity this week has been bike riding. Nathan got a bike from Grandpa and Grandma for his birthday, and he loves it.

This week-end has found me sewing curtains, painting shelves, and making up a few more butterflies for the nursery. Hopefully I'll be able to post pictures of the finished product tomorrow. But for now, I'd better see if I can get those curtains and shelves up!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Adoption Update

We've finally had an update about new Embassy guidelines. It's happy and not so happy news. Happy news-if we pass court we should get to keep our travel dates. Not so happy news, the CDC is implementing extremely strict guidelines regarding their new TB testing policy. Every child will be tested before their visa is issued. For toddlers and older children, this will mean a skin test. For babies and children under 2 this will involve a gastric aspiration, which means a 2-3 day hospital stay. If a positive skin test is obtained, then the child will have a chest x-ray. If the chest x-ray is suspicious, then a sputum test will be obtained. In Ethiopia, a culture of a sputum test can take up to 8 weeks. If the sputum test is positive, then the child will not be able to come home until they have completed 6 months of drug therapy in Addis under direct supervision by the consulates medical team.

I agree that not bringing active TB into the USA is a good thing, but my heart breaks for those children who will have yet another long delay while they are tested, re-tested, and for those who will have to be treated. Treatment could begin in Addis and then continue under supervision in the USA. I'm not sure who to write to, but I'm going to find out. Anyone out there know the answer to that?

Anyone who thinks that it is in a child's best interest to remain in an orphange instead of with a loving family who is waiting for them obviously doesn't have their head screwed on straight. And, I can't imagine that it would actually be that difficult to arrange for treatment to begin in Addis for a couple of weeks and then to transition smoothly to the health dept. or family dr. here in the States. Easier on the waiting families, better for the child, and still not a risk to the American public-everyone would win. Oh the frustration of bureaucracy in action! And another opportunity to learn to trust God with all of the circumstances of our life. It makes an interesting tight rope, trusting the sovereignty of God while still working to fight for justice for the poor and oppressed and common sense in government.

Please pray for us. Court is 8 days away. There are 11 families with court next week and it is now a near-constant battle not to give in to worry. Passing court, the chance of positive tb tests, delays in the ability to travel, all of them fight for my attention, as I fight to concentrate on what is before me and the truth of God's Word.

Please pray for Rosie. That she will be healthy, that she will be at peace, and that God will prepare her for all of the changes coming her way.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Packing and Pictures (or lack thereof)

Well, it's finally done! After almost a week of packing, unpacking, re-arranging, and packing again, I have all of the items to take to the orphanages we will visit in Ethiopia packed. And, I finally got it down to 2 1/2 suitcases. This leaves 1 suitcase for Rosie and I to share, and a half a suitcase for my Mom! (Don't worry, she's cool with that.) We wanted to pack really light so that we would have room for lots of donations.

Wondering why it took so long to get it all packed? It's because of how much there was. Thanks to my choir friends and the homeschool group from our church this is what I needed to fit into our packing: 112 (4-dose) boxes of electrolyte replacement, 72 pairs of crocs, 15 pairs of socks, 3 pair girls undies, 7 t-shirts, 2 pair shorts, 3 sleepsuits, 23 toothbrushes, 500 band-aids, 4 tubes triple antibiotic cream, 4 tubes of hydrocortisone, 2 bottles of multi-vitamins, gallon ziploc bag of hair accessories, 22 boxes of crayons, 10 boxes of markers, 8 boxes of colored pencils, 64 pencils, 1 pencil sharpener, 25 ink pens, 3 highlighters, 1 pair scissors, 20 notebooks, 16 coloring books, 4 children's CDs, 100-piece puzzle, large bag of stickers, bag of girls' bracelets, 25 small tubs of play-doh, 2 travel size etch-a-sketch, 16 balls, 8 dolls, 4 recorders, 18 toy cars, 1 toy airplane, 8 jump ropes, quart bag of plastic animals, and 4 baseball gloves.

I am so excited to have these items to take and want to send another big thanks to all of those who helped gather items to bless the kids I will have the chance to meet!

Now it's on to trying to pack the small infirmary I am taking with me for just in case. My packing list gives a whole new meaning to "everything but the kitchen sink", but it is Ethiopia and I don't know exactly what Rosie will need and want to make sure I can treat anything she has when I get her and can treat any nasties that Mom or I might pick up. A look at my carry-on would give the impression that I am going to start my own hospital, equipped as it is with stethoscope, thermometer, nitrile gloves, iodine, ointments, bandages, and a large assortment of pills to treat just about anything you can think of.

We haven't heard anything about changes to our travel dates yet, so I am going ahead and getting prepared now, and then if they aren't changed I'll be ready, and if they are I'll have some extra time to play in the garden and fit in extra school with the boys.

Some of you have asked about where a picture of Rosie is. For now, there aren't any posted. Ethiopia takes the privacy of its' children very seriously, so until Rosie is legally a Moffatt we aren't able to share her photos online. But I promise that as soon as we hear that we have passed court there will be pictures posted!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Back From the Farm

Nathan had been planning his birthday party for months. He started back in December, and had been refining the big plans ever since. The plan: a trip to the farm to spend time with the only person ornerier than him-his Grandpa. Nathan and Grandpa together are big trouble. Nathan refers to Grandpa as "that teaser", and spends the entirety of any trip to the farm seeing how he can tease and pester Grandpa, who happily returns the favor.

He wanted to go fishing, too. Not that a fishing trip is actually about catching fish at this stage of life. It's about riding in the back of the truck in the field, casting your line into the water as often as possible, messing with worms, stomping in cow pies, throwing rocks in the water, and seeing if you can wade in before Mom catches you.

He also enjoyed planning his birthday menu. It was planned entirely for the pleasure of the boy's stuffed animals. He wanted baked tilapia (his bear likes fish), new potatoes (bears like potatoes, too), cooked carrots (Noah's bunny loves carrots), and baby peas (Bunnies like peas, too). For his cake, he asked for carrot cake (bears and bunnies like carrot cake), and he wanted it decorated with carrots and bunnies. King Arthur Flour was selling some great carrot and rabbit cake decorations, so that was easy.

That boy loves his cupcakes! Well, to be honest, he loves frosting, and it's worth eating a cupcake in order to have all of the frosting off of the top.

And now, it's off to unpack, do laundry, and try to get the boys calmed down enough that they'll be ready for school tomorrow!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Adoption Update

If there is one thing that is predictable about international adoption, it is it's unpredictability.
It's fairly inevitable given how many people and government organizations are involved to make an adoption happen. Especially as governments seem to be prone to delays, changes in policy, and changes in operating procedure on a frequent basis.

Yesterday's e-mail brought us this news: the American Embassy in Addis Ababa has decided that they are under-staffed, and as such they are going to reduce the days that they will issues visas for children being adopted from Ethiopia. So, instead of families being allowed in every Friday, they will now be allowed in twice a month. Also, they have decided to add a new medical test to the physical that is required before a visa is issued.

What does this all mean? Honestly, we're not sure. But, we were told to expect that this may bring a delay of 1-3 weeks before we can travel. Our agency only just got the news yesterday, so they can't tell us for sure yet exactly what the delay will be for each family. This will affect how often families can travel (currently there are groups of families travelling weekly, but this will no longer be an option and so in-country processes will have to be reviewed in terms of how many families can travel at a time, how will they transport them, house them, etc.. and once the consulate changes take effect, seeing just how it all actually plays out) They did say it might take them two weeks to get it all figured out. Do you remember what happens two weeks from today? Rosie's court date!

The first thing that sprang into my head when I read the news yesterday: Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. Written in Proverbs, and describing pretty well my instant reaction to the e-mail, heartsick. Longing desperately for Rosie to be home and no more delays or setbacks.

My second thought: And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.( Romans 8:28) How good to rest in the truth that this too is for Rosie's good and our good, even if we can't see how.

In the midst of disappointment, it is so sweet to be able to rest in the knowledge that it's all for our good. Nothing that comes (or doesn't come) our way is for our good, sifted through the loving fingers of a God who knows what we need and can see the big picture, even when we can't.

Not that we're never disappointed, just that we don't lose hope.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Brotherly Love

As promised, here are a few of my favorite pictures of the best buddies.

March 2005

May 2005

October 2005

December 2005

December 2006

March 2007

May 2007

September 2008

November 2008

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Happy 4th Birthday Nathan!

There are only a handful of occasions in life so memorable that you can remember where you were and what you were doing down to the minute even years later. 2:40 am on March 11 will always be one of those times for Gareth and I. At 2:40 on March 11, 2005 we were at home in our little house in Dursley, Gloucestershire with a midwife and a doula and very busy welcoming Nathaniel Christopher into the world. Consider this photo proof positive that he fitted his nickname of Tadpole. I changed it to Tadpole, because Gareth said it was unkind to call him Little Buddha. You'll just have to trust me that when you propped him up he had so many rolls that he looked just like a little statue of the Buddha. He was precious, all 9 lb. 12 oz. of him.

And so, today we celebrate Nathaniel. I can't imagine life without him, and I'm sure Noah wouldn't want to either. They love and fight and play like only brothers can.

Stay tuned for more photos of the best buddies!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

New Travel Dates

They're here! We have our new travel dates-April 10 through April 18, subject to passing court. We will probably need to actually travel to Washington on April 9 in order to be there in time to catch our flight to Addis Ababa on April 10. 4 weeks and 3 days to go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Why Ethiopia? -Warning, Long Post Ahead

The short answer to the question is, because that's where God put us. But, the process that He has taken us through is much longer. So, if you wanted a short answer, there it was. If you want the longer answer, then grab a big cup of coffee and here goes.

It has been 23 months since Gareth and I began actively pursuing this adoption. About 2 months before that, I began researching adoption options and agencies. Domestic or international, open or closed, what agency, what country, there were lots of choices.

Initially, we chose an international adoption because we were not convinced that a domestic adoption was a good fit for our family. Adopting a child out of the state system was a process that we weren't really up for. As an openly active Christian family who was planning on homeschooling and does discipline their children, we weren't sure that we really wanted a social worker nosing around in our life. Our experience with social workers at the children's home we worked at was far from positive. (Since then we have met some fantastic social workers employed both by the state and by private agencies, and I no longer loathe all social workers!!!!!!). We had also had extensive experience dealing with children who were products of the state foster system during our time working at a children's home and were not prepared to take that risk again. Leaving our positions at the children's home was in the end an easy decision because when the girls we were caring for found they couldn't break us any other way, they used being horrible to our children as their weapon of choice. So, for the period of time that we have young children at home, that wasn't a risk we were open to. On the domestic front we could have also applied to an agency like a crisis pregnancy center to adopt an infant, and initially that was appealing. But, the more I looked at all of the families who were waiting for that perfect white baby, the less appealing that route was. I didn't want to be part of a beauty pageant where our family profile would be put out there with all of the other profiles while we tried to convince prospective birth moms that we were smarter, richer, more beautiful, and had a better house and better education than the other families who were waiting. We were also not open to the idea of an open adoption, as I felt that I would struggle not being the only Mom in the picture and wasn't convinced that having multiple influences was not necessarily in a child's best interest. (Disclaimer: I recognise that this is not the case for everyone who chooses to adopt from within the United States. I personally know a couple who has adopted through crisis pregnancy, and I have the utmost respect for them and the beautiful child they are raising. And, as the last couple of years have passed, I am growing more open to the possibilities of open adoption and the chance to show love not just to a child but to a birth mom who may need to be loved as well. But, at the time those were are thoughts, and I want to be honest with you about the choices we made and the thought processes that led us there at the time.)

Anyhoo, having ruled out domestic adoption, this confirmed that international adoption was the route we were interested in. At which point, I began shortlisting agencies. I felt that choosing the right agency was more important than selecting a country. I wanted an agency that was small, had a personal feel, was specifically Christian in it's outlook and approach and that had a reputation that was above reproach. There are lots of agencies out there, but in the end we chose America World Adoptions. For those of you who follow contemporary Christian music, you may recognise this as the agency that the Steven Curtis Chapman family has used for their adoptions. I love what AWAA has to say about adoption. If you have a chance, you really should visit their website: and read what Brian Luwis (AWAA's founder) has written about the Spirit of Adoption.

So, when Gareth and I agreed that we both believed that God was saying it was time, we applied to AWAA to join their program. At which point, we needed to choose a country. AWAA is involved in facilitating adoptions from: China, El Salvador, Ethiopia, India, Kazakhstan, Russia, Rwanda, and the Ukraine. Kazakhstan, Russia, and the Ukraine were out of the question because they involved making multiple trips to the country during the process and Gareth did not have enough vacation time to be able to do this. China was out of the question because I wasn't yet 30, which is China's minimum age to begin adopting. India and Rwanda were not yet open when we began this process, so we were left with El Salvador and Ethiopia.

We rejected Ethiopia immediately. Our experience at the children's home was proof enough of the race issues that we didn't really want to deal with. Racism, we found, can run both ways. We didn't want to risk our daughter one day rejecting us "because we were white, therefore we couldn't possibly understand". We didn't want to risk the awkward stares and rude comments that might be forthcoming. We were afraid of how she might be welcomed (or not) in the backwoods area of MO that I call home and we still visit to see my parents.

El Salvador, on the other hand, was immensely appealing. I speak some Spanish and was confident that with some work I could have a good enough grip on it to happily converse when we travelled down to bring our daughter home. El Salvador is relatively close, and relatively inexpensive in terms of international flights, so the entire family could travel down together, and it appeared that the wait times were short and the program was relatively inexpensive. So, we prayed and applied for the El Salvador program. 6 months later, we had a dossier ready to submit. Quite literally the day before I was going to send it away, we got the e-mail from our agency that El Salvador was not processing children for adoption. The program wasn't closing, but they could not tell us when, or if, we would ever be able to complete an adoption. We could choose to stay in the El Salvador program, or America World would transfer all of the money we had invested so far into another program of our choosing.

We were heartbroken. Hadn't God been working? Weren't we walking in His will? We looked again at the countries that were available and arrived at the same conclusions. The countries available to us were El Salvador and Ethiopia. By this time, when I pictured my daughter she had beautiful big brown eyes, beautiful bronze skin, and long, dark, straight hair. She looked Salvadoran. She did not look Ethiopian or African in any way.

We began to pray, asking God what He wanted us to do. We asked friends to pray with us. We had 1 week to make a decision. And, as I remarked to my mentor, we couldn't make a decision in a week. Gareth has never made decisions easily and certainly not swiftly. I called my family in tears, and talked to my Dad. Now, my Dad isn't an openly emotional guy. We have almost never had "deep" conversations. But, as I explained the situation and began to talk about how afraid I was to adopt from Ethiopia and how our child might rebel because of difference in skin color and how I didn't want to risk exposing a child to the unkindness of others just because her skin looked different, my Dad and I had one of those rare conversations that I treasure. He told me that he didn't care if our daughter was purple with green polka dots, they would still love her. He reminded me that how our daughter felt about who she was and the value that she placed on herself would be made up in large part by hearing my responses and to our teaching her about the love of God for her and the value He places on her as something beautiful that He created. He reminded me that if a child is going to rebel, they will choose to find something to be rebellious about, and if it isn't about skin color it will be about something else. And, God began to move. You see, one of the things that I have learned is this adoption isn't just about an adoption. It's also about God continuing the process of growing me up. Or, for those who prefer a slightly more religious term, about sanctification.

For a long time, I couldn't understand why God allowed the experiences we had at the children's home. After all, we had gone there to serve. We wanted to love those kids and to be the parents they never had. What purpose had it served to allow such a bad experience? But now I see. He was growing me up. Although I didn't see them immediately, God had lessons that I needed to learn. Mostly about attitudes that I needed to change. And, I am grateful. I am not the same person I was 3 years ago. Still not perfect, but not the same either. And, the same goes for this adoption journey. It's about learning to trust God in a whole new way. About not limiting Him because of my fears or worries or preferences. Inviting Him to do what He wants to do through us and learning to wait patiently. And, gaining a whole new understanding of what it means to be adopted by Him.

I can't explain it, but as we talked and prayed over those couple of days, we were given such a peace about Ethiopia. A peace about opening ourselves up to some of the things we had feared. A realization that our daughter could look Salvadoran in my mind, but she could also look Ethiopian with beautiful bronze skin and slightly darker hair. Yes, I could be excited about learning to make cornrows and two-strand twists!

Couldn't God have taught us some of those lessons in an easier way? I suppose he could, but I'm not sure that we would have learned them as well or have such a vivid reminder of the things He wanted us to know and put into practice.

And now, here we sit, with a picture of the most beautiful little girl waiting in Ethiopia. When we see her, we see our daughter. And, I wonder, what else is God going to teach us through this process?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Why Adopt?

Perhaps the question I get more than any other is, why adopt? The other thing that we hear a lot when strangers hear we are adopting is, "that's such a noble thing to do".

Let me respond to the "noble" part first. There's absolutely nothing noble about it. I count this adoption as one of the biggest blessings of my life, right alongside marrying Gareth and being given Noah and Nathan. I am absolutely in awe of the fact that God would allow us to adopt and that He has sent multiple people alongside us who have helped to make this adoption financially possible. Yes, Rosie needed a family, but, we are the real winners here. The privilege of making her a part of our family is something I pray I never take for granted.

Now, on to why. There are several answers.

First, and perhaps easiest. I have always wanted to adopt. Even as a very little girl, I wanted to adopt. Maybe it was Pollyanna or Anne of Green Gables, maybe it was having relationships with some kids who had grown up in a boarding school with dorm parents who didn't really fully invest in them and seeing the long-term results of not having loving parents who were fully invested in them. I'm not sure where the seed was initially planted, but it's been there a long time.

Second, Gareth and I wanted to grow our family. I really dislike the term "biological children", but for lack of a better one, we were blessed with two beautiful biological children. Even though we were told it might not happen, God saw fit to grant them to us, and we love them dearly. But, we also believe that there is more than one way to build a family. Adoption is an equally "real" way to have a family, and we agreed from an early time in our relationship that we wanted adoption to play a role in building our family.

Third, there is a need. The statistics are staggering. It is estimated there are between 143 million and 210 million orphans worldwide (recent UNICEF report.) To give you an idea of the enormity of these numbers, the current population of the United States is just a little over 300 million… Every day 5,760 more children become orphans. 2,102,400 more children become orphans every year in Africa alone. I could continue with statistics for pages and pages, but the ones above ought to be enough to give you an idea of the enormity of the problem.

Fourth, and most importantly, caring for orphans isn't optional for those who name the name of Christ. I'll be re-visiting this idea later in another post, but for now James 1:27 says, "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." And, we believe that one of the very best ways to care for an orphan is to see them placed in a family.

So, that's the answer in a nutshell ( not a very small nutshell, I hear you say!!!!!). Tomorrow's question: Why Ethiopia? I have to say, this is one of my favorites, as I love to remember the process that got us there.

Adoption Questions

For those of you who visit our blog to keep track of what the boys are up to, please excuse my next couple of posts.

As our adoption completion draws nearer, I am getting more and more questions about our adoption: Why would you do something like that?, Why Ethiopia?, Why not adopt from here in the States?, Are you infertile?, Are the boys really yours?, Are you trying to be Angelina Jolie?, Won't it be weird having a black child with such blond boys?, How much does that cost?, and the list goes on and on.

We are very fortunate in that the majority of our family and friends have been supportive of our decision to adopt and are waiting excitedly with us. Unkind or rude responses have been the exception to the rule. And, sometimes those unkind responses have simply been out of ignorance or lack of thought as opposed to intentionally offensive. It has been a good growing experience. My normal inclination is to be a fairly private person, so personal questions from strangers or not close acquaintances aren't my favorite thing. But, I am learning to anticipate the questions and then to answer them kindly.

I think that having a ready response is important. It means that I am less likely to be caught off guard and say something I shouldn't or didn't intend to. And, it is important for Rosie and the boys. How Rosie feels about herself, her position in our family, and the fact that she will obviously look very different from the rest of our family will be in large part learned from us in the early years. How the boys learn to respond to those who may someday be unkind will be learned from us, too.

I want my responses to sometimes awkward questions to build Rosie up, to give her confidence in our love, to help her feel secure in her position as our daughter, and to re-enforce the fact that her skin color may be different from ours but that it is beautiful. Most importantly, I want my answers to re-enforce these truths: She is God's creation, created in His image. This gives her a beauty and a worth that is more important and longer-lasting than whatever current trends the world may view as desirable or beautiful. I want her to love her skin color, but more importantly, I want her to value her position as a child of God and to not get caught up on focusing on her self-esteem but rather to focus on God-esteem. So often these days it is easy to get caught in the trap of worrying about how we feel about ourselves and viewing ourselves through our own lenses or others' lenses instead of the using Gods' eyes to see how He sees us, the value He places on us, and recognizing that true beauty in His eyes comes from having a clean heart, pure hands, and a desire to wholly follow Him. Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).

So, please bear with me as I work my way through these answers. I have always found writing things down helpful if I need to think or process information. This gives me a way to do that, and maybe it will answer questions you might have, too.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Tea for Two

I love that my boys have such different personalities. They may look alike and are often mistaken for twins when siting down so that their height difference doesn't show. But, if you know them, then you know just how different they are.

Noah is usually gentle, compassionate, loving, articulate, and well-mannered. It seems to come fairly easy for him, and he's pretty much always been this way. Nathan was born a ruffian! He came into the world at 9 lb. 12 oz. and seemed to always feel that he had big shoes to fill. He is loud, energetic, rough-and-tumble, and loves dirt and mud more than anything except Mommy.

So, it was much to my surprise when Nathan was the one to invite me to my first tea party. I've been waiting for this day. I always wanted to play tea party with my children but assumed that I was going to have to wait for Rosie to want to have tea parties, as the boys had never shown any inclination towards having one and it didn't quite seem like the perfect game to play with boys. But, once again Nathan has surprised me. He called me to come upstairs and when I did, he had the table all set including quilts for our laps so that we could be "comfy and warm". He proved a perfect host, showed off excellent table manners, and had remembered that I like pears best. Such fun. Now, I have only to hope that Rosie will love to have tea parties too, but that she won't talk him into wearing a pink feather boa while hosting!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Getting Ready for Rosie

The last few days have been a flurry of activity, as with a deadline now looming close, the pressure is on to have everything ready for Rosie's homecoming. Today was spent working on the nursery. I just love the 3-d butterflies on the wall. I found them at Pottery Barn Kids, but they were in the wrong colors. But, that was nothing that some spray mount and scrap booking paper wouldn't fix. Now they're perfect. The daybed is actually Nathan's old crib. Toddlers at the transition home sleep in cribs, so we wanted to give Rosie some of the familiarity and comfort of a crib, but also wanted her to be able to get out on her own without risking her crawling over the side. Although he wasn't initially convinced by my plans, my brilliant husband used his wood-working skills to convert it into a daybed. And, it worked out great. As it is just over 4 feet tall and she is just under 3 feet tall it should give her at least a year or two's growing room.
Now, on to the curtains, bed skirt, and shelves. Oh, and the doll's bed. We have a very cute little doll's bed that was given to us, and so I am hoping to get a mattress and little quilt made out of the same fabrics as Rosie's quilts for her to have to put her baby dolls to bed.
I have to say, I am in full nesting mode, just like with both of the boys. I haven't started scrubbing skirting boards and outside windows yet, but with about 5 weeks to go I'll probably mange to get that done, too!!!!!!!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Adoption Update

It's late. Like, after 11:00 (which is late for us), and really, I should have just gone straight to bed. But, I decided to check e-mail to see if Dani had had her baby and to check on Abby Riggs. To my surprise, there was an e-mail titled "New Court Date" in our inbox.

Yes, we have a new court date! Unbeknown to us, our agency petitioned the Ethiopian court system for an earlier court date for several families who were given court dates quite a while after our actual referrals. And, those petitions were granted. We are now scheduled for court on March 27. Yeah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We now have court in 3 weeks and 4 days. Should we pass, we will also have earlier travel dates. We should hear the end of this week or early next week about new travel dates.

Oh my goodness. I need to get busy. I have so much to do to get ready. I need to change the ticker on the top of my blog!!! I just put it up this morning.

But, seriously, all excitement aside, I am so grateful. God is obviously moving in the hearts of Ethiopian officials and in the court system. Several months ago when things began to slow down for families who were waiting for court dates and for thsoe who were not passing court, our little "yahoo group adoption family" began to pray together for God to intervene and to be faithful to His promise to "set the orphans in families" . Last month, a couple of the ladies divided up each day into 48 1/2-hour segments and many of us signed up to cover a half-hour slot on a daily basis so that we could quite literally pray without ceasing for our children, those working on our children's behalf, and for all of the officials whose paperwork, signatures, and blessing were needed for adoptions to be completed. And, we are now watching as God does amazing things in Ethiopia. Last month saw record numbers of children referred, and now we watch in awe as March begins with more great news. God is good!

And now, I really must go to bed. The next couple of weeks are going to be even busier than I thought!