Tuesday, December 23, 2008

We got our I171!!!

Yeah, it's here! Only 19 days since we had our fingerprints and it arrived in the mail today. For those of you not in the adoption world, the I171 form is from US Immigration and gives Stand-Up Dad and I permission to bring our little ones into the US. It is the last piece of paper that we need to complete our dossier. I had prayed we could complete it before the end of the year and my prayer was answered today. The amazing part is that I found out last week that something was missing from our home study that might inhibit us from receiving this form, but still here it is.
We are very excited!
Here are more pics of the kids enjoying the snow.
Sweet Momma

Monday, December 22, 2008

What really matters...

This time of year can be sooo hectic! This year seems a little more crazy
due to trying to complete a dossier amidst all the other hustle and bustle. It's easy to feel swept away and lose sight of what really matters.

This week our town has seen lots of snow. There are
eight inches in my yard right now! We don't usually get this much, so it has caused
us all to slow down and enjoy the beauty, the fun, and the pleasure that
a bunch of snow can bring.

Every time I see this much snow I am overwhelmed at how beautiful it makes everything. There is a broken down old car and shed near my house (not at my house, but I can see it from my back window) that actually looks nice covered in snow. It reminds me of how we are like that old shed. We can be broken and dirty and ugly inside and then the love of Jesus comes and covers all the ugliness with His forgiveness and we become something beautiful. What an amazing transformation.

If you have snow where you live, take a minute to enjoy the transforming beauty it brings. Just now as I was putting the kids to bed Elsie said that the snow reminds her that God is in control. He can give us good things and take them away. So profound from only twelve years of life.

Here are a few pictures that remind me of what really matters.
Sweet Momma

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Elsie's Adoption Experience

Hi! This is Elsie. I want to tell you my view about the night Stand-Up Dad told us we were going to adopt. Sweet Momma, my siblings, and I had been praying for a long time. I was getting discouraged. I was not at all expecting it to happen that night.
It was Friday, October 17. We had been helping Stand-Up Dad decorate his office and were going out to dinner afterward. Strangely enough, we went to three restaurants before we found one that worked. We had been seated at a Mexican restaurant and given our food. While Stand-Up Dad was praying,he said, "Help us as we begin the process of adopting two children from Ethiopia." When we finished praying, I asked,
"We're going to do it?"
"Yes," he said.
"You're not kidding?" I asked incredulously.
"No," he said. Sweet Momma and I began to cry because we were so happy.
That was two months ago. Now our dossier is almost finished. I can't wait to meet my new siblings from Ethiopia.

Adoption Paperwork

Yesterday I was talking to a friend of mine about my adoption paperwork. She has done three adoptions and understands all that is involved with preparing a dossier. So much of this process is out of my hands. I am relying on other people to complete paperwork, return it to me, check that it is done correctly, and all of this should be done in a timely manner.

I found out yesterday that there was a problem with our home study that had already been turned into USCIS. It is amazing how that kind of information can cause you to stop in your tracks. I am surprised how urgent all of this paperwork seems. There are not many other forms of "paperwork" that draw so much attention.

And still, God is in control. I am so thankful for this knowledge and the peace that comes with it. This morning my Social Worker and my agency figured out what we should do next. So, on we go down the road to a precious little boy and girl who are waiting for our family. Isn't that what it's all about any way?
Sweet Momma

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

It's snowing! I love it! Where we live we don't always get snow, so this is such a special treat. When I was growing up we always had snow and I have so many great memories playing in it and sledding. I had one of those warm mommy moments today watching my kids play. It's so amazing how two inches on the ground can create so much fun for hours. I love to see the simple pleasure of living life on their faces. I love to see M&M laying on her back in the snow, eating as much of it as she can stuff in her mouth. Little Pumpkin worked every angle to get his sisters to pull him around the yard in the sled.
Kids being kids! It's so wonderful!
Sweet Momma

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Holiday Lights

We are a homeschooling family that has the privilege of being a part of an amazing homeschool co-op once a week at our church.  This co-op allows our children to take classes that are difficult to teach in a home setting, like choir.

This past weekend our three beautiful daughters participated in a Christmas concert.  The guitars performed, the orchestra and also the choirs.  Sweet Pea and M&M are in the Elementary Choir and Elsie is in the Intermediate Choir.  They both performed this song called "Holiday Lights."  It is definitely their favorite.  Hand kids some flash lights, turn off the lights and let the fun begin.
Hope you enjoy it. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Here's the story, from a man named Brady, I mean Stand-up Dad

Sweet Momma has given her side of the beginning of our journey, and I suppose that I should add my perspective as well. As Sweet Momma mentioned, I was the last one in the family to jump on the train. Everyone else has been on board with adopting for quite some time, while I prayed, contemplated and researched. For me, there were many issues - including financial, cultural, age (I'm over 40) and perhaps most of all, time. With four children already, I always worry about giving the children the time with mom and dad they need and deserve. I worried about being able to have enough time for six children.

Despite my thoughts and prayers, these fears remained. Meanwhile, Sweet Momma and the kids were getting frustrated with the lack of a decision. I think everyone wanted to know - one way or the other - whether we were going to adopt. In September 2008, Sweet Momma asked me to commit to praying intensely for one month on the subject of adoption so that we could make a final decision. A few weeks later, Sweet Momma took the kids to her parents' house - about three hours away - to visit Sweet Momma's grandmother who was in the hospital. I had to work so I was by myself that night. That evening, I went onto YouTube and searched for "Ethiopian Adoption." Several videos popped up and I began to watch some of them. One of the early ones I watched reiterated that Ethiopia has six million orphans, most of whom will not survive to adulthood. The video described their fears but then said "Yes, god, these two will live. That phrase hit me over the head. That was the answer. Yes, I still had fears but knowing that Christ gave his life or us and having the opportunity to partially repay that gift by providing a better life to two of God's children was overwhelming. I stayed up late that night, watching and re-watching videos and sobbing.

And so our journey begins. I don't have all the answers and I know there will be obstacles and mountains to climb. But when you know you are obedient to God, somehow all the fears become less important. I have told family and friends that for me, adopting from Ethiopia is the biggest step of faith since accepting Christ. But it is in the biggest steps of faith in which we see God the most.
Stand Up Dad

Lil' Box of Love...

My friends who have adopted prepared me for the realization that sharing the decision to adopt with family and friends is not the same as sharing the news of a new pregnancy. Somehow adoption is looked at a little differently. It seems funny to me because I feel the same way without all the morning sickness. I am just as excited and scared and thrilled all at once. I already dream about them and can't wait to see their faces, just like a pregnancy. I guess it's like that phrase I've heard, "They grew in my heart."

Our experience has been wonderful! So many people are so excited about our decision. We have had phone calls from relatives asking how the process is going. I have even been stopped by children at church that have heard our news and want to know when they can see our "new kids". We are so thankful to be surrounded by friends and family that have been praying for us and will continue to pray as we go through this process.

This past week we hit a big adoption milestone. Our Home Study is done and it was time to get our fingerprints for immigration. Here in Washington State there is an option to travel to Yakima and hand carry your documents and complete the fingerprints all in one day. This option can save on time, so I decided this would be the route we would take. So we farmed out the kids to our wonderful family and friends and took off for Yakima.

While dropping off two of our children with my Sister-in-Law, Stand-Up Dad was given a gift. When I saw it I was moved to tears. This simple present embraced us in such a special way.
This square box had a picture drawn by my niece and nephews on each side that congratulated us on our adoption, as only little ones can do. It was filled with home-made Caramel Corn (Mmm, So Good!), water and apples for our trip. This thoughtful gesture was so deeply appreciated by us both.
Sweet Momma
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Thursday, December 4, 2008

How our story begins...

It's hard to say when the desire to adopt began in our hearts. Several years ago I guess. We knew that we wanted to wait to pursue it until our youngest was five years old. This past year when Pumpkin was about to turn five, Stand-Up Dad and I went to the Lord to see what He said on the matter. After prayer we believed it was something that God wanted us to pursue. In January 2008, I began to research International adoption. We had always thought of adopting from China, as we have two nieces from China and several friends as well. My research showed me that there is now a very long wait for China, up to 3-4 years for a referral. We knew that a long wait probably would not work as we are not getting any younger.
More prayer and research. Then God began to talk to me about two children. After visiting with a friend who had adopted siblings of another race she shared that having a sibling helped with the adjustment early on and also as the children got older. She felt that going through the middle and teen years with a relative that looked like you was a blessing.
I introduced this idea to Stand-Up Dad. More prayer and research.
You are beginning to see the process. The decision to adopt siblings led us to the beautiful country of Ethiopia. This is where our hearts settled. There are 4-6 million orphans in Ethiopia alone. If you have seen the news this past year, the crops were not good and starvation has grown. We were excited to hear that a large population of Ethiopians are Christian.

Now that the country decision was made I was ready to get the ball rolling. Stand-Up Dad was still in prayer. The next months were hard for me as I continued to pray and wait on the Lord. God is so faithful in the process. His word has been so precious to me and has shown me His plan every step of the way. One verse that I clung to was Psalm 37:7. " Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him."

Through over a year of prayer God showed me that my desires, even if I believe the desire is from God, is not more important than obedience. That obedience played out in my life daily as I held my tongue in talking about adoption and prayed that God's will would be done. God brought me to a place where I realized that respect for my husband and lining up under his authority was more important than this adoption. I realized that if at the end of this process, we didn't end up adopting, it would be OK. I knew that God had a big plan and I couldn't wait to see what it was.

While I went through my process, Stand-Up Dad was going through one too. I hope He will share about that at a later date. From my point of view he went through what I would expect an awesome man of God to do. He wanted to be sure he could provide for a larger family. Would we have time for more children and so on. When we got down to it, we couldn't completely answer all these questions. This is where the FAITH word came in. We have to take as much information as possible to make as mature decision as we can and then step out in faith and pray that God will bless it.

This is just the beginning of the story.
Sweet Momma