Friday, November 30, 2007

WEEK 5

Pretty uneventful today unless you count the kids trying to make the number "5" with their bodies! Even though it has been the hardest so far for them to make, I think it looks the best! (Even better than their #1)!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Loose tooth!

Isabella started getting a random tooth growing behind her other bottom teeth so we took her to the dentist to check it out. He told us that she has a little bitty mouth and little bitty baby teeth that are significantly smaller than her incoming adult teeth. Even though her adult teeth are a normal size, they are 1 1/2 to 2 times larger than her little baby teeth which are already very crowded, so we have to go back in early December to get SIX of her teeth pulled on the bottom to make room for her adult teeth. The good news is that a few of her bottom teeth are loose, so we are supposed to "vigilantly" wiggle those teeth to see if the loose ones come out before he needs to pull the rest of her teeth...that brings us to last night......
See the pained look on her face? She was excited to pull one of her loose teeth until we went into the bathroom to pull it! That is where our little "drama queen" made the performance of a lifetime...she is so funny when she is dramatic but when she sees herself in the mirror, her performance deserves an Academy Award for sure! Here is the video before we actually pulled her tooth: (When she speaks of Dr. Jai...it is her dentist)
video
After I turned the video off, I bribed her with peppermint ice cream. She quickly smirked and asked me if I could try just ONE TIME to pull her tooth. I did and out popped the tooth! Here is her proud moment after her tooth was pulled:
video
She woke up this morning screaming that the Tooth Fairy came and left her a quarter for her tooth and even left a "pixie dust" trail to her bed!! She then proceded to tell me that she thought the Tooth Fairy left a dollar for each tooth! I told her that she had a special Tooth Fairy who only gave out silver coins, and as her eyes got bigger, she smiled and said, "WOW! I have a COIN Tooth Fairy!"

Indeed, she does!

Ethiopia Program Update

We received this update today from our Ethiopia program directors:

Due to the backlog in cases left over from the court closure during the rainy season, 4 families will be traveling this month to pick up their child/ren. We hope to see many more families traveling in the upcoming months. Congratulations to all of our families who received referrals and families who received court dates recently! Our Ethiopia Program families are continuing to grow every month, and we are excited to be working with all of you!

We are also excited to announce that we recently hired 2 additional staff members for our in-country team.

Travis and Joanna Norwood and their 2 children will be moving to Ethiopia in mid-November to assist with the in-country team (which already includes Belay Tafesse and Ryan and Abby Brown who adopted little Enoch and now their daughter, Marta!). We are glad to have them on board!

Also in-country, to better monitor and maintain the children's health, a full-time nurse has been added to the infant foster care staff, and a pediatrician will soon begin making regular visits to the foster care center to check on the children.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Could it be that simple?

Recently, Shaun Groves and his brother-in-law, Brian, (who is in the process of adopting a child, maybe siblings, from Ethiopia) traveled to Ethiopia with Compassion International and attended the graduation of Compassion's Leadership Development Program. While they were there, they were able to capture wonderful images and video footage of their time there as well as spend time with some wonderful Ethiopian people. This excerpt is from Shaun's blog speaking of his time in an orphanage there. His words are convicting and ever so true:

"Adoption, like marriage, I think, is a living breathing metaphor for God’s love of us. I felt that today. I felt God in me wanting to hold these strangers, kiss them and sing to them, take them home and raise them as my own.

Later, as Brian and I processed what we’d experienced together in the orphanage I became convinced of something Brian tried to teach me long ago. We really do make God’s will too complicated. I do. I wring my hands and analyze and worry, discuss and think, think, think. I pray and beg God to speak. “What is your will for my life? What do you want from me?” I ask. And he’s silent. Or is he? As Brian says, maybe God’s will is found wherever my ability and someone else’s need intersect. Does apathy sometimes come from good intentions - from waiting and praying for instructions we don’t really need after all? Is God speaking already and constantly to us through our ability and excess and the world’s pain?

There are over 800,000 orphans in Ethiopia waiting for parents. There are over 100,000 children in Compassion programs waiting for sponsors. That is need.

We are filled with the power of the Holy Spirit that raises the dead, gives sight to the blind, repairs all that is broken on this side of Heaven and even teaches us how to parent. We have hands that can hug, hearts that can love, stoves that can cook, refrigerators full of food and more living space per person than the citizens of any other nation in the world. That is ability.

Are there 900,000 American Christians asking God to announce his will to them right now when he’s already speaking through their bible, their spare room and their bank accounts?

Could it be that simple?

Compassion International answers "Why Ethiopia?"

Again, this video and explanation was taken from Shaun's blog during his trip to Ethiopia. Dr. Wess Stafford is the President of Compassion International:

After the diplomas were handed out at the LDP graduation ceremony a couple days ago, Wess and two other Compassion leaders washed the feet of three of the graduates. It was the final lesson taught: leaders must humbly serve. Wess was to wash the feet of a male student and a female leader was to wash the feet of a female graduate but at the last second Wess knelt instead before the young lady and washed her feet. No one knew why he made this change in the plan until yesterday.

Yesterday we went to church with the LDP graduates and then joined them for lunch and a few hours of “fun time.” At the end of our afternoon together the Ethiopian Compassion staff asked us to make a large circle, as if we were gathered around a camp fire. One by one we sat in the center and told our story. And answered questions from those in the circle.

When it came Wess’ turn he told us his story and then he told us why he washed a woman’s feet at the graduation ceremony, and why Compassion came to Ethiopia.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

We decided to do something a little different this Thanksgiving, so we went out to Pasadena to have Thanksgiving lunch with our extended family and then headed over to Moody Gardens in Galveston. It was great to see everyone at Thanksgiving and of course, all the wonderful comforts foods of the holidays were delicious as always! The kids had a great time with all their cousins and I tried to take some pictures in their "Thanksgiving" clothes.
Then, we changed all the kids into their Christmas clothes since my aunt and uncle's home was already decked out for Christmas to take pictures for Christmas cards. It was very similar to taming the beasts at the circus, but I thank we got some cute pictures!

Isabella, Poppy, John Isaac, Elijah, David, Granna & Rachael


Right before we changed them out of their Christmas clothes, the cousins all began to dance with each other and it was precious!


We left Pasadena and headed out to Moody Gardens where we met up with my parents, my sisters, my brother and his family. We all got settled into the hotel and got bundled up to see the Festival of Lights around Moody Gardens. It was a very long lit path of Christmas scenes in lights with sounds and music! The kids loved it as they could run and be free and explore all the beautiful lights. Of course, Elijah did a little exploring of his own and saw a gigantic lit toy soldier and went running towards it but didn't see the cable supporting it and was totally "clotheslined" and fell to the ground. We also went to see The Polar Express 3D and we all loved that! The next morning, we had breakfast in the hotel and we went to the ice skating rink.

They had all just entered the rink, so they huddled together I guess so they wouldn't fall!

None of the kids had ever ice skated, and they all did such a great job! They had little metal "walkers" for the little kids (even though some of the adults used them too!) and they helped the kids from falling so much!
Elijah and Aunt Reagan

Daddy & Isabella
Isabella gave her walker to Elijah, so she just scooted along the ice but with great balance and hardly ever fell! Elijah used her walker and literally was running across the ice with such speed and no fear!

WEEK 4

Hooray! One more week down but we have no idea how many more weeks to go. I am guessing that we will possibly receive a referral sometime within our 12-15 week. I am hoping for much sooner but I am giving myself plenty of "stretching" room so I won't get disappointed if a shorter guess comes and then goes with no referral. With that 12-15 week guess, it will put us at sometime between January 18th- February 12th. WOW! That seems so close but yet, so far away! They have told us that sibling pairs in our age range (0-3 years) is harder to come by than placing a single child, so our wait time is not set in stone. We are praying for the Lord's perfect timing.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Free Rice!

This website called "Free Rice" has combined a little vocabulary fun with do something purposeful! They post a word and give several choices of what it could mean and you just click on what you think the definition is of the given word. For each correct word meaning, they will donate 20 grains of rice through the United Nations in an attempt to end world hunger.
Warning: This is very addicitive and you just might learn some new words!

Friday, November 16, 2007

WEEK 3

This day has come and gone in a flash for some reason. I feel like the wait is flying by (even though we are only at week 3!) I guess it is good to be waiting during the holidays since they seem to be so busy, your mind is not constantly thinking about waiting. Again, I am sure I will be eating my words soon enough!
Here is the kids best #3:

(I know, Isabella's hair makes it look like a #3 with a goatee, but it certainly adds character!)

It would seem that the #3 would be a piece of cake, but believe me, it is definitely not! I hope we don't make it to week #13 not only because that is a long time, but also because I can't take the stress of making another THREE!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Red Campaign

I knew the Red Campaign involved Africa, Bono and helping raise funds but I had no idea how they all came together. Ever since deciding to adopt from Ethiopia, the information we have received about the conditions of the people are staggering. Basically, many companies (although Gap has been the front runner) have agreed to create products that reflect the (RED) logo so that the proceeds will go to helping those in need in Africa to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. To better understand what exactly what being done, I went to the (RED) website and found this:

MEASU(RED) RESULTS
The Global Fund has selected established grants with sound performance to receive money raised through (RED). To date, of the $49.8 million received by the Global Fund from the sale of (RED) products, $30.8 million has flowed directly to Global Fund financed grants in Ghana, Rwanda and Swaziland. In these countries this money is helping to finance comprehensive national HIV/AIDS programs led by the ministries of health, to provide antiretroviral treatment for children and adults, to assist in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, as well as essential counseling and testing activities to reduce the overall risk of HIV transmission.

Additional contributions of funds will continue to be made to these programs as they achieve tangible, measurable results in their lifesaving work. Additional amounts of money are sent by the Global Fund to (RED) grants according to the grants’ own requests to the Global Fund – usually every 3 to 6 months – and additional amounts are sent once results have been reported and verified.

To read Impact Stories about beneficiaries of (RED) money in Africa, click on http://joinred.blogspot.com/.

The Global Fund
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria was established in 2002 with the support of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and the world's leaders, to dramatically increase resources to fight three of the world's most devastating diseases. Since its creation, the Global Fund has become the dominant financer of programs to fight AIDS, TB and malaria, with $8.4 billion invested in 136 countries.

The Global Fund is an innovative partnership of governments, non-profit organizations, and the private sector. It is not an implementing agency -- the Global Fund relies on local ownership, planning and expertise and enables countries to design and execute their own programs, but provides funds only on the basis of proven results to ensure that funds are used efficiently to create real change for people and communities.

Global Results
In five years, the Fund has achieved substantial results. As of September 2007, Global Fund financing has provided:
1.1 million people with treatment for HIV and AIDS
9.4 million people with voluntary HIV testing
1.2 million orphans with basic care and support
2.8 million people with treatment for tuberculosis
23 million people with treatment for malaria
30 million families with insecticide-treated mosquito nets

Donate to the Global Fund
Purchasing (PRODUCT) RED is just one way you can support the Global Fund. If you've been INSPI(RED) to do more, please make a contribution to the Global Fund. On the donation form, be sure to check the box designating that you want your money to go toward fighting AIDS in Africa.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Al Mohler Radio Program

The Albert Mohler Radio Program has two segments posted on his website on adoption. One aired on July 26, 2005 and was guest hosted by Russell Moore and Randy Stinson called "Adoption and the Gospel of Jesus Christ". On July 5, 2007, "Is Transracial Adoption Nothing More Than 'Abduction?" aired and was guest hosted by Dr. Russell Moore and Elizabeth Bartholet. Here is the short review on the latter:

While Madonna and Angelina Jolie have made headlines for their adoption of children from sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, there is an ongoing debate regarding the ethical dimensions of 'transracial adoption'. Is it nothing more than a form of cultural imperialism and institutional racism? Dr. Moore considers this debate on today's program and is joined by Elizabeth Bartholet, professor of law at Harvard University.

Waco bound!

We left yesterday to visit my younger sister, Brittany, who goes to school at Baylor University. Since she will graduate in December, we decided to go see her one more time before she graduates! It was a quick trip as we drove up Friday and came home tonight late but so much fun! Since we have been buried with all the adoption paperwork lately, it was nice to get out and celebrate being on the waitlist....if even for just 2 weeks!

When we walked into her apartment, she had this precious sign to greet us:
That is Brad with his Benadryl (he is allergic to everything!), me with my 64 oz. water jug (that I rarely finish in a day!), Isabella with her favorite stuffed horse called "Enchanting", Elijah with his favorite dinosuar, "Rex" (T-Rex) and finally my sister saying "Woo-Hoo!" with her little black poodle, "Beaux"....so cute!
Here are the kids at the fountain in front of a new building at Baylor. It has been so long since I went there that so much has changed and had been built, so we walked around to see all the new things there!
Aren't they precious?! I have no idea what is behind them, but it is a beautiful building!

Friday, November 9, 2007

WEEK 2

We have now been waiting two weeks for our referral.....we are constantly wondering how many weeks until we are given a glimpse of our precious children!

This picture took a lot of time and patience for sure and I am not sure it looks like much because Elijah kept flipping over so he could make an "E" (for "Elijah")! Like I said before, they LOVE to make letters (and now numbers) with their bodies and they have gotten quite good at it!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

I am His

I stumbled across this site called Of First Importance that each day provides "one quote to help you live in the good of the gospel." This was listed in the "About Us" section of the blog:
Josh Etter, Fred Eaton and Bart Byl who are three brothers in Christ whose friendship is rooted in the gospel. All three are members of Crossway Community Church in Surrey, BC, where Fred serves on the pastoral team. Crossway is part of the Sovereign Grace family of churches. We’ve all spent far too much time looking inward instead of upward (Col 3:1), only to futility and despair. This blog was born out of our own need to live each day in the good of the gospel.

Their blog started back in July 2007 and has some wonderful quotes based on Scripture. This quote was from today called "I am His":

“I am His by purchase and I am His by conquest; I am His by donation and I am His by election; I am His by covenant and I am His by marriage; I am wholly His; I am peculiarly His; I am universally His; I am eternally His.

Once I was a slave but now I am a son; once I was dead but now I am alive; once I was darkness but now I am light in the Lord; once I was a child of wrath, an heir of hell, but now I am an heir of heaven; once I was Satan’s bond-servant but now I am God’s freeman; once I was under the spirit of bondage but now I am under the Spirit of adoption that seals up to me the remission of my sins, the justification of my person and the salvation of my soul.”

- Thomas Brooks, Heaven on Earth

Friday, November 2, 2007

WEEK ONE!

Today marks WEEK ONE that we have been waiting for our referral! It is a little weird (but exciting!) to be saying "week" instead of "month" since that is what we were counting when we were waiting for a referral from China. Speaking of China....when we were counting the months we were waiting for China, I took pictures of the kids holding the corresponding number of months we had been waiting. The kids are a little older now and get a kick out of trying to figure out how to "make" numbers and letters out of their bodies, so........the challenge is on to see if they can successfully make each number of weeks we wait! I am sure we will have to get creative but when I asked them how they were going to make all the numbers, they looked at each other and both screamed, "TEAMWORK!"

I just LOVE my kids!!!
(this picture cracks me up!)p.s. I must say that during the "shooting" of this picture, "TEAMWORK" went out the window and they both ended up fighting on which way was better! (HELLO! How hard is it to make a number one!?) We have a long road ahead of us......

Thursday, November 1, 2007

National Adoption Month

This was one of the recent posts on the Gladney site explaining National Adoption Month:

The Gladney Center for Adoption has much to celebrate. November is National Adoption Month - a time to remember families created through the miracle of adoption. The Gladney Center participates in this celebration by honoring the 27,000 children placed with loving families through the agency's comprehensive adoption services.

It is appropriate for National Adoption Month to be positioned in the month of November celebrating a time of thanksgiving. Using white ribbons to raise awareness, National Adoption Month celebrates families touched by adoption, honors birth mothers for their courageous choice, and remembers children who still need permanent homes.

The Gladney Center for Adoption offers many personalized and comprehensive adoption programs. Each program is custom-tailored help create a bright future through adoption. Birth mothers who make adoption plans through The Gladney Center for Adoption may live on its Fort Worth campus or can live at home while participating in the agency's Community Service Program. In either case, dedicated social workers will help her make a personalized adoption plan that is best for her and her child. Gladney offers birth mothers openness and flexibility in the adoption process, private medical care, counseling, an in-house legal staff, education opportunities and lifelong post adoption services.
Gladney's International Adoption Programs have successfully placed thousands of babies and young children in homes throughout the United States. These programs offer adoption opportunities in Eastern European, African, Asian and Latin American countries. Not only does adopting internationally assist families in achieving their dream of parenthood, but also fulfills the dream of children in orphanages and foster homes who await the love of a forever family.

The Gladney Center for Adoption extended its commitment to children and families in 2000 by creating the New Beginnings Program. The New Beginnings Program provides two adoption options. The first is assisting the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services in recruiting loving adoptive homes for children currently waiting in the State's foster care system. New Beginnings also places medically fragile children in loving and caring homes.

White ribbons that are worn during the month of November will remind people of the lifelong benefits that adoption offers to young women experiencing unplanned pregnancies, children in need of permanent homes, and families built through the miracle of adoption. Adoption directly impacts the lives of millions of people. Please join us in raising awareness about the miracle of adoption through the celebration of National Adoption Awareness Month.