Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Powerful Post... Not Mine, but the One I Mention Below:

I just want to share a link to Andrea's blog, it has been so inspiring to me during our decision to adopt.  A family in our small group told me about the blog in February when we first started talking about adopting.  Our friend's brother was Andrea's husband's college roommate... got that?  If not, it's not that important.  The important thing is that Andrea is in Ethiopia RIGHT NOW picking up her son Isaac.  Every time things get difficult during our adoption, every time we have to sacrifice to be able to afford this adoption, I really, really hope that I think about her story today, about meeting Isaac's birthmother.  It has given me so much drive to fulfill God's plan for our adoption!  Anyone who is reading our blog that is questioning why we are adopting please read Andrea's last few posts.  Then, if you still question why we have chosen to adopt an orphan from Ethiopia, then I can't help you... and you need to pray :-)  ...but for real... I don't know how anyone can question our decision after visiting this blog.  I had the priviledge of meeting Andrea and her family a few weeks ago, and I hope that after our adoption we can hang out again and have Ethiopian play dates!  Reading her blog has been such a blessing to me and Jason (yes, he reads her blog too).  Please pray they have a safe trip home and pray for Isaac to get adjusted to his forever family!

Also... I posted a video at the bottom of my blog.  It's the video that got Andrea started in her adoption process, and it's a must see.  Again... after watching the video, if you question our decision to adopt then there is something wrong with you :-)          

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I'm Finally Done... and We Were Accepted!

Adoption Update:  While typing the post below I got a call from our adoption agency saying they reviewed our application today and..................
We were accepted into their Ethiopia program!!!  Yay!!!  Man, if I think this is exciting I can't imagine what lies ahead!  Thank you God for placing this in our hearts!

Okay... so, I bought a dresser from the Salvation Army when we bought our house last January... a...year...and...a...half...ago.  I had this great idea to save money by buying a second hand dresser, sand it, refinish it, and antique it.  Little did I know I am not a very dedicated furniture refinisher and lacked a lot of motivation, therefore it took me way longer than intended to turn this...
into this...
But... as of last night... it is complete!!!
And, I actually like it... I wouldn't say I love it, but for the cost... I would definitely do it again.
Ahhh... my first piece of refinished furniture, done!  Now our next project, that I might be blogging about in the year 2024 (hopefully just kidding) is to paint our downstairs bathroom.  We already bought paint, and it is definitely going to be outside of our not-so-creative accounting mind set... but I will let it be a surprise. 

A little funny story from last night:
The little hardware pieces on the two doors on the dresser are held into place by little pins/nails and when I had some trouble hammering it into place I thought I would pry it back out and try again.  Well, when I pried the little, tiny, itty bitty nail back out I lost it.
I searched everywhere for it, then called Jason to search, but it was no where to be found.  After about 30 minutes of searching the floor on my hands and knees I had to use the restroom... so I gave up on my search.  When I went to wash my hands I saw this in the mirror...
    When I came downstairs to show Jason, the first thing he said was, "Let me take a picture.  You have to include this on your blog."  Hahaha... what have I gotten myself into with blogging... even Jason is thinking of our lives in "bloggable" moments.  Gotta love it!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Fun-filled Sunday

What a way to start of our week!!  Our church had an awesome first service in our new building downtown... I know a lot of people worked a ton to get this building up and running... and it was soooo worth it!  What a great place to worship, in the heart of a broken city, where no one else seems willing to go.  In a building that has been vacant for years, now a church can reach out to so many in need of the Gospel, what a BEAUTIFUL picture.

Then it was off to lunch for Jessica... we will miss you!!!  But I know you will have such amazing opportunities for God to use you to help so many people in Haiti.  We will continue praying for you and can't wait to hear stories and experiences you go through while away.

Next, it was off to the bowling alley for a little missional community (MC) competition.  Our MC definitely won for attendance... Go Josh and Meghan's MC!  Wooowhooo!  I'm glad attendance was all that mattered, because if we had to rely on my bowling skills we would have been in trouble :-)

Here was the oh so great girls team!!!
And the boys team with their crazy bowling names:  Can you guess who goes with each nickname???

And our cheerleader who liked to play in the fan on the ball return :-)

And after bowling... back to the awesome new church building to hear a few bands play.
Cory Watkins

(We love you Devon!!!  Sweet sound of success!)

Now off to bed... after such a long day we need some rest!  We have a LONG week ahead with lots of home study paperwork to fill out and fundraiser planning.  Please be praying for us, our adoption agency will be reviewing our application this week!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Our Application has been SENT!!!

It’s official… today we mailed our adoption application to our agency, All God’s Children. Yay! Now we just wait to be approved (which hopefully there isn’t any reason we won’t be). Here are a couple of pictures of us filing out the application and other paperwork… (I’m still getting used to taking “blog” pictures… I’ve never really been a picture person).
Along with our application we had to send a picture of our family. Thanks Sterling for taking the time to sort through your pics and find a good one of me and Jason… while trying to pack and prepare for your missions trip to Romania. As I am typing this you are on a plane flying across the world, and I am praying you have a safe and life changing trip. (If anyone is looking for a great photographer in the East Atlanta area, look up Andrew Sterling Photography on Facebook! He is a beginner, so he doesn't charge a ton, but he is very artistic and does awesome work, and I'm not just saying that because I'm his sister!) Here is the family picture we sent with our application:
We also had to send a picture of our house with our application… so… my wonderful, amazing, lovely, oh so awesome husband woke up early this morning to mow the grass before work, so that I could snap a pic before I headed off to the office today. Thanks Jason!!! I love you!
Finally…. Thanks Rhonda for FedEx-ing our package for us!!! We are so excited to officially begin the adoption process. Now we have a ton of paperwork to fill out for our home study agency and lots and lots of fundraising to do!!!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!!!

I had an awesome weekend... celebrating Father's Day with two amazing men that I am very thankful for - my dad and Jason's dad.  Saturday night we went to the Braves game, one of my favorite things to do in the whole world, with three of my favorite people... my husband, my dad, and one of my little nephews.  We had the best seats I've ever had, and it was such a blast!!!  Thanks Casey for the tickets (just in case you or Marianne ever happen to read this) we loved it.  Below are a few of the pictures from the night:
 Me and My Dad 

Jason and Taylor hanging out & eating some of the good 'ole ballpark food.

A view from our great seats...  Taylor wanted a picture with his favorite player, Brian McCann, catching in the background.

And this afternoon we hung out with the wisest man I have ever known.  ("You may want to shake it first." & "You may want to pour the juice out of the can." Hahaha, I always appreciate a little advice... or shall we say... wisdom from a grey beard).  We loved hanging out, eating some great food, playing cards, and watching golf for Father's Day.

I love these two guys!!!

Jason and I also want to say Happy First Father's Day to Ryan... you have become an amazing dad to four beautiful children!  Josh, Landen is so lucky to have you as a dad.  I wish both of you many more wonderful father's days!

Happy Father's Day to you too Brannon... I hope it was a good one.  Thanks for letting us hang out with Taylor Saturday.  Congrats on being a dad again, even though she isn't quite ready to celebrate yet... she'll be here before you know it.
We love all of you guys!!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Why Not Have Your Own Kids First???

I (Jason) am sure this is a question that many of you are asking, so for clarity I have decided to break down the thought processes behind our decision. PLEASE understand that this has not been an easy decision for either of us, but it is definitely what we feel is in the best interest of our family for the long run. So, why not have our own kids first?

For starters, we long greatly to have biological children and Good Lord willing that will happen for our family sometime in the not-so-distant future. For now however, that is not exactly what the Lord has placed on our hearts. It is easy to sit and dream of a day when it will be more convenient to reach out to a child in need and provide a loving forever home for that child. It is another thing all together to actually put the rubber to the road and take steps in the direction of adopting a child. Britney and I have simply decided, with a little spiritual prodding, that the time for us to adopt is now. For the logical thinkers out there I have compiled a list below of several factors that have also coaxed us in the direction of seeing this process through at this particular time in our lives.

1. Financing – As some of you may already know, international adoptions cost, on average, somewhere between $20,000 and $30,000. With both of us having steady full time jobs (Thank God!) and not having other children to provide for currently, we feel that now seems like a better time than ever to pursue an international adoption. We can save, fund raise, and run around like the crazy people we will have to be in order to complete the adoption. If we already had children, it would make these things more difficult… definitely NOT impossible, but just a little tougher with time and finances.

2. Traveling – International adoptions can require the adoptive parents to visit the country on a couple of occasions, once for a court date and again to pick up your child. This will be much easier to do while only thinking about our travel arrangements, whereas if we already had children, we would have to make plans for them as well.

3. The World’s Perspective on Adoption – So often, adoption is seen as a last resort or even a burden when instead it should be seen as an amazing opportunity!! God commands us to love and care for Widows AND Orphans, he calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves, and he commands all of this only AFTER having done just that for all of those who are in Christ!! We have all been orphans outside the mercy of the Lord God Almighty, but He adopted us through the life and death (substitutionary atonement (shout out to KW at NCCd)) of his Son Jesus Christ. Christ’s adoption of us cost Him greatly, but the reward far outweighed the sacrifice. We see the adoption of a child for our family having a similar reward. We want the world to see how our love for an adopted child, in some small way, mirrors the love that Christ has for each of us every day of our lives. While we can never love as perfectly as Christ, we sure can give it a shot.

All of that said, having biological children, we hope, is simply a matter of time. What is interesting to me, however, is how often it is assumed that everyone can get pregnant whenever they would like, which is simply not the case. We have lots of friends and family that cannot have children and we know plenty more that have more complications than we could cover in a month of blog posts. So, before you ask “why don’t you just have your “own” children?”… please think about what you are really asking. We understand this is a question on several people’s minds, and we are obviously okay with answering it, just check your intentions before asking. Currently, we have no reason to believe that we are unable to have biological children, but that chapter of our lives will have to wait a brief period until God can bring our international baby home to rest. We are all people born in the image of the One True God, and biology and genes are simply the mechanism God chose to use to bring it all together.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Now What?!?!?

Once we realized adopting from Haiti wasn’t a viable option for our family we decided to take a few months to regroup. We were asking ourselves so many questions… Was God closing the doors in the adoption process because it wasn’t His plan for our family? Should we look into adopting from a different country? Should we look into adopting domestically? Should we wait until we have biological children and have been married longer? So many questions!!!

We were in the middle of tax season, both working six days a week, and were completely overwhelmed. Jason doesn’t like to be pestered about things, especially when he is tired, so I had to be very careful not to overdue it with the adoption discussions. He told me we would start talking again about adopting after April 15th, and that we shouldn’t pursue it any further until we had saved a good chunk of money in order to cover the adoption costs. My heart sank… I knew it would take us several months to a year (which seems like F.O.R.E.V.E.R.) to save as much as he wanted to. It also takes about a year to actually adopt once you begin the process, so that would put us at a minimum of two years before we would adopt. I am continuously trying… key word “trying”… to be a submissive wife, let Jason call the shots, and trust that God will lead us as a family; so I agreed with Jason’s plan. I prayed like CRAZY that God would either change his heart, to make him long for adoption, or to change my heart to be at ease with his decisions and trust him. I did occasionally send Jason a link to a blog with a cute adoption story, email him bible versus about orphans, tell him sad statistics about third world countries, and did other not so subtle things to let him know I was still thinking about adopting.

Well, Jason stuck to his word, and after April 15th we began to talk about adopting again. We had Friday, April 16th off, so we used the long weekend to talk in detail about what we were feeling as far as the adoption was concerned. We went turkey hunting… and I absolutely loved it! I loved being in the woods for the first time since December…and loved how relaxed it made me. Sitting against a tree, watching the sun come up over a field, watching the fog lift, and listening to the day begin… what an amazing time to pray and think… it doesn’t get much better!!! After our long weekend Jason agreed to pursue adoption without having saved the money originally intended!!! Requiring us to rely on God’s provision. That is not to say that we do not intend to take responsibility for our decision and that God will simply mail us a check. More-so (I like to make up words) that thru our faith and discipline thru his Word, that God will be sovereign to see the adoption process thru if that is His will. So, welcome to our walk in FAITH!!!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

“You’re being serious aren’t you?”

Sorry this post is so long, we are just trying to catch everyone up on where we're at. Hopefully they will get shorter going forward.

In February, Jason and I were hanging out with our Missional Community (small group from church) when a couple we are very close to began talking about adopting a child from Haiti. They know a friend of a friend who goes to a church with a Hatian-American man whose family operates an orphanage and school in Haiti. They were explaining that as a result of the January earthquake, this orphanage was urgently trying to find families interested in adopting the pre-quake orphans in order to accommodate the thousands of newly orphaned children.

After we left that night, Jason and I were joking about adopting a child from Haiti. Talking about how neat it would be, how cute the dark skinned child would be (okay… that is what I was thinking about, not Jason), and what a testimony it would be… and at the same time we realized it wasn’t really a joke anymore… we both looked at each other and said, “you’re being serious aren’t you?” Well…. From that point on our hearts have been opened to something we couldn’t turn away from. " ... Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act ..." Proverbs 24:12.

For the next couple of weeks we began researching Haitian adoptions, gathering documents, and trying to get in touch with the extremely busy orphanage. We found out very quickly the difficulties of trying to adopt from an independent orphanage rather than through an agency; the primary obstacle being communication. We communicated mostly through e-mail which was done on their end with generator power only and was sporadic at best. In one email we were told some days they did not even have money to purchase gas to run the generator.

We were given a list of documents needed to create our dossier, so we began to obtain medical exams, criminal history reports, employer letters, birth certificates, marriage license, etc. We received profiles of the children available for adoption from the orphanage, and once Jason and I agreed on one of the children I emailed the orphanage to let them know. (Thank you to everyone who prayed, and continues to pray, for this little guy). We waited about a week and had not heard anything in return, so I emailed again, called and called, and still didn’t hear anything. I finally got in touch with the orphanage director’s wife, who lives in Miami, and she said her husband, who was still in Haiti, must not have received our email so she would send it to him again.

The following day we received an email from the orphanage director inviting us to visit the orphanage for a week in order to get to know not only him and the other staff members, but also to develop a relationship with the children. As we began to plan our trip, we got on the CDC website and realized there were quite a few immunizations we would need before our trip; including Hepatitis A and B, Tetanus, H1N1, and Typhoid. We rushed to get these from the travel health clinic in order to be ready for travel to Haiti. In the mean time, I did a lot of reading about Haitian adoptions and found on several websites, and in several books, that in order to adopt from Haiti, you have to be at least 30 years old and have to have been married for at least 10 years.

Ummmm…..according to both of these regulations, Jason and I aren’t even eligible to legally adopt from Haiti. I immediately called the orphanage, and her voicemail box was full, I emailed… and got no response. I finally called the orphanage director’s son, who lives in Macon, and asked him about the two requirements I had found. He said he wasn’t sure about the requirements but he would call his dad and ask and then call me back… I never heard anything in return. I wanted to scream, cry, throw up…. I felt like a complete idiot for getting as far as we had in the process without looking at the simplest requirements. I wanted so badly to meet the little boy we had only seen one picture of. I wanted him to be a part of our family. I wanted him to have three meals to eat every day. I wanted him to have the love that only a mom and dad can give. But, all I could do was pray… trust that God has a purpose for everything we go through… and have faith that He has perfect timing.