Friday, August 27, 2010

Rwanda Closing

Hi friends, more sad news. Rwanda is "temporarily closing"- which means that next Tuesday, they won't be accepting dossiers (dossier=big chunk of paperwork/lots of time & money invested), and many babies/children will have to keep waiting for their forever families.

It was very disheartening when we recently heard of Nepal closing, but Rwanda hits home a bit more because our friends are in the process. They actually have just a few steps left to get their dossier in on time, and I am asking you to join in praying that God miraculously works out the details for the dossier to go through on time. Can you please join with me in praying for many, many families, including our friends, to make it in on time? And pray for the waiting children to receive hope from the Lord.

This is what our friends wrote on their blog today:
"OK people, this is huge. Rwanda has now amended their statement to say that any dossier that has arrived at the Rwandan embassy by August 31st (next Tuesday) will be okay. I just spoke with my caseworker who said that this is a long shot, but we are going for the miracle. Our CIS letter is on the truck to be delivered to Kate with our dossier service. From there, our entire dossier needs to be authenticated at the US Department of State's office. Our courier will take it there Monday morning and beg for them to authenticate it that day. This process usually takes two days. We need them to show us favor and be willing to do this so that our dossier can arrive to the Rwandan embassy on Tuesday... just in the nick of time. Please please pray, guys! God really listens to our prayers, and we need you to intervene on behalf of us and Wyatt."

Thanks for praying, warriors! International adoption is very unpredictable, and we are not guaranteed that even Ethiopia stays open. Pray for these children, for these countries and for the leadership to prioritize the adoption of orphans. I cannot fathom the heartbreak and emotions after being so invested in an adoption process. Unless you have adopted I don't think you can understand the emotional investment and how much you fall in love with the country and people, as well as the hope of the child that is waiting to come home.

"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express."
Romans 8:26

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Korah & How To Get Involved

If you're committed to blogstalking adoption blogs, then I am sure that you have read about Korah, the dump near Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The stories of this place are heartbreaking. Before you read anything I have to say, stop and read this blog post.

And now that you have read that, watch this video.

Those precious lives are each as valuable as you or me in God's sight. There are MANY ways to get involved in this community, including sponsorship of children.

I am asking YOU to help in one particular project, that may cause some blushing. Yes, sanitary napkins/pads for women in the dump. I don't want to be graphic, but good grief- can you imagine not having access to sanitary cloths or anything like that?

Here are a few facts that were posted about women & their periods in this community:
  • "ordinary woman are unable to afford basic sanitary protection.
  • one pack of sanitary pads costs more than 50% of the average monthly wage for women.
  • millions of African women are forced to replace tampons/pads with newspapers and dirty rags.
    this can lead to vaginal infections for which there is no available medication.

    these vaginal infections are often mistaken to be sexually transmitted infections leading to social embarrassment and domestic violence.
  • wives and mothers are unable to work when they have their periods, further hindering already impoverished families.
  • girls are forced to take time off school, further jeopardizing their education.
    because of the economic and cultural crises in Africa, its schools serve as more than academic centers. they provide community resources where young people receive basic care and services, such as food programs, clean water and counseling" (Info was given on our AGCI listserve).

Well, the fabulous people on the AGCI listserve have coordinated a drive to not only give women pads, but underwear and a bag to go with the items.

In the words of Sarah, one of the powerhouse ladies heading this project:

"With the Red Tent Project, they did 3 of the 'base' pad and 6-8 inserts per girl. With this amount, they have to wash every day and our goal is to get enough per girl that they only have to wash every other day and they will be better equipped during rainy season when they take a lot longer to dry. The reason there are a larger number of inserts than 'bases' is so that they can customize absorbency - use just one for light days, two for heavier days, etc. Also, just depending on if anything gets on the 'base', they may be able to change the insert and not the 'base' each time. While our goal is 10 pads per girl, I don't think we will quite need 10 'base' pads per girl - so for each kit with this pattern, lets aim for: 6 'base' pads 12-14 inserts 2 pairs panties 1 drawstring bag If you choose to use a different pattern (like the one Jody posted or one of the more "all-in-one" styles) 10 pads per girl would be required as the whole 'unit' is changed every time. I'm so excited that all of you are excited about this project!!! It is another way we can show our African sisters how special they are - and show them how much we love them and God loves them! "

Would you be interested in getting involved? Sewing pads, buying packs of underwear, or making drawstring bags?

Here is a pattern for homemade sanitary napkins. I have another one that I will be happy to email you (email me at yestoadoption(at)gmail(dot) com if interested), and the other pattern also includes instructions on how to make a drawstring bag. The supplies shouldn't be that expensive, and you can even use flannel shirts that you already have.

The goal is to give out 3000 pads and 600 pairs of panties! And do you think it is possible? ABSOLUTELY! What an incredible blessing we can give.

There will be updates on where to ship them when they are done... for now, get crafting! :) Someone will be taking them to Ethiopia in October!

If you participate by sewing, can you please email me a picture of your final products? I promise this will be a no-judgment zone as far as fabric choices and sewing quality :) I think it will be neat to see the entries! Email me at yestoadoption(at)gmail(dot)com. I promise I will not put names with pictures, although I may want to brag that you participated if that is ok!!

Deadline for submission is October 1. Email me for a shipping address.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Yardsale for Our Friends who are Adopting!

You thought I was done talking about yard sales, right?

Well there is a sweet family in our church that is adopting from Rwanda and they are having two BIG yard sales to help bring home their son! Remember how they took our leftovers from our NC yard sale (read here)?

The first yard sale is this Saturday, 8/21 in Clayton, NC, the second will be later this fall in Richmond, Virginia.

If you like yard sales, good deals, waking up early, babies, Africa, supporting other people who are adopting, Jesus, adoption, etc... come on out this weekend! :)

If you think you can make it or would like more information on either yard sale, leave a comment with your email and I'm sure Catherine (the adoptive mama) will be able to give you her address!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Waiting... only the beginning

We wait in hope for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.

In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.

May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD,
even as we put our hope in you.

Psalm 33:20-22

Waiting is no fun. And even though we have been in the adoption process since March, the "wait" just started... It is a wonderful thing that our hope does not come from the idea of having a baby one day. Our hope rests in the salvation that we received from Jesus Christ, and that He will come back one day to restore this earth and all of these babies who need families will be redeemed by God himself!

Now it's your turn: What are you clinging to these days?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Nepal Closed

My heart broke yesterday when I heard that Nepal was closing to adoptions. Those precious babies who will now be doomed to live in an orphanage or worse, on the streets and the statistics that come with that (prostitution, begging, starvation). In addition to those children, are the families on waitlists that will no longer be matched with the children they have wept and prayed for. Goodness, we are only a few months into this process and I love our Ethiopian baby. I cannot imagine the heartache.

The official statement was: In order to protect the rights and interests of certain Nepali children and their families, and of U.S. prospective adoptive parents, the Department of State and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have jointly decided to suspend adjudication of new adoption petitions and related visa issuance for children who are described as having been abandoned in Nepal.

You can also read about it here and here.

Please join with me in praying for these children, for their protection and for the Lord to reveal Himself to them. Pray for the families that are heartbroken over their loss. Pray for the government to prioritize the establishment of a system for adoptions in Nepal and the other closed countries. Pray for the Lord's glory to be revealed in this, that even when we don't understand, His will is done.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Official August Numbers

Hi friends! Thanks for keeping up with our adoption process. We finally got our email update with our August numbers, and we are so glad to be in the official waiting phase of adoption.

For the girl's list, we are #:

For the boy list, we are #:

That is a nice jump from our starting numbers which were 84 girl and 51 boy! We are thankful for this movement! And if you're wondering, we get our numbers updated once per month (alternating months between a phone call and email update).

In Ethiopia, courts close during August and September for the rainy season, so we are told to expect a slower season for referrals in the next few months.

And we also heard from a family that just got on the waitlist this week, that it is an expected 12-18 month wait for a referral (we were told 9-12 months when we got on the list). The case managers met and decided to give families a more realistic expectation... so although I am glad that we moved a few spots in just two weeks, I know that we are settling in for the long haul... this will be a long year waiting for our baby. We are so ready to know who he/she is, and to bring our baby home!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Simplicity & First-Time Parenting?

Recently there has been a topic brought up on our AGCI Listserve: what exactly do you need to have, as parents? There are some variations in the necessities listed, including bumbo seats, high chairs, floor mats, swings, co-sleepers, etc.

Will and I are not at the point where he will let me buy anything baby-related (although I have managed to acquire the beginnings of a book collection, plus a few other knick-knacks, including an ADORABLE pair of baby overalls that someone donated for the yard sale and we HAD to keep). I do daydream of what our nursery will look like, and wander longingly through the baby aisles of Target and Wal-Mart. I've even made a preliminary trip to Jo-Ann's Fabric store and Babies R Us, just to keep my eye out on things I may want to get when it is time to start the nursery prep.

I have three sisters (well, one is Will's sister, but I am claiming her) and they are all great mothers, and all have things that are their "necessity" items as parents. I definitely want to learn from their parenting styles, but also I realize that we won't be bringing home a newborn, and if we are still in our current apartment, our space is super limited! Additionally, Will and I are striving to "live simply" and don't want to clutter our house with items that we won't need, plus we are on a budget...

So what do you think? What are your "necessity" items?

It is not likely that we will start buying things or register or anything like that for a long time, as our waitlist numbers are pretty high! But I am just thinking ahead (doesn't every first time mom daydream?)... so please, enlighten me!

Also, I have heard that some families have a monthly "baby day" (love that idea "Growing by 2 feet"!) or buy a pack of diapers each month throughout a pregnancy... what worked for you??

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Yard Sale Tips from a Non-Professional

Updated April 2012:

With three yard sales under our belt, we feel like we have learned quite a few things about adoption fundraiser yard sales. There are many blogs out there about yard sales, and trust me, I read them all. There are many routes you can take when doing an adoption fundraiser yard sale, but here is a list of things that worked for us. Read about our first AL Yard Sale here, our NC Yard sale here and our second AL Yard Sale here.

1. Advertise! We made a facebook event for all yard sales, and that got the word out to our friends about it, and they passed along info to their friends/neighbors, etc. The word-of-mouth deal brought in a LOT of donations, yet our main shoppers found us on Craigslist. For Craigslist, we listed our events as "Yard Sale FOR ADOPTION" and people made a point to come by. For our first and third yard sales, we put an ad in the newspaper. In Jacksonville AL, the cost of running a small blurb about our yard sale was only $21 for three days! Not a bad investment considering most of our customers came from the newspaper ad. We posted a lot of road signs, that all said a similar thing about adoption, or a little unartistic outline of Africa. There are some intense yard sale people, and if they see your sign around another yard sale, they will definitely stop by. Some people are on a mission!

2. That point brings me to start early. Lots of work organizing the days/night before make for an easy setup on Saturday morning. You should get outside and start setting up way earlier than you think. I'm talking 4:30-5:00 am. Because it doesn't matter how many places you have posted "Starts at 7 am" - the dedicated yard sale crazies will be there at 6 AM! It happened to us every time.

3. Price your items ahead of time. It sure would be easier if you could say, "hey its for our baby, so just make a donation!" but that can make people uncomfortable. They may not want to make an offer, for fear of asking too little or too much. So go ahead, take the time and price things. Have a generic price for most things, like $1 for clothes, $.50 books, etc. This will allow any friends that come to help you to ALL know the same price to tell people. And you should just go ahead and know that even though people will see, by your signs, that all the money is going toward adoption, that people will still talk you down on prices. I am not joking- one person told me that she drove to our yard sale just because she had seen our advertisement on Craigslist about adoption, and yet when her items rang up $1.75 she asked me if I would take $1.50. Just expect that, and know that $1.50 is better than no money at all. Don't be overly prideful about that awesome vase that you spent $10 on at TJMAXX only getting sold for a quarter... yard sale people can be stingy and viscious. Don't take it personal!

4. Talk to people about your adoption. These people came on your property, so like it or not, you get to share the gospel with them! Win/win! We had little cards that I cut out (business card size) with our adoption blog on them. At both yard sales, all salespeople were instructed to give a card out to every customer, telling them that ALL the proceeds were benefitting our adoption. This will bring some great questions about Ethiopia, infertility issues (some awkward conversations were had... more on that later), Christ's adoption of believers, and how God has provided for us so far. For our AL yard sale, we had a big poster with facts about Ethiopia, our timeline, and blog. We left that in AL after our first yard sale and I didn't have time to recreate it for our NC yard sale, but it was a great conversation starter in AL!

5. Put your friends and family to work. Lucky for us, we have some amazing family/friends. Even people that didn't know us that well were willing to pitch in and donate items or spend whole days working for the yard sale. People get excited about adoption, and so let them be a part of it! Our neighbor's pastor donated a couch at 8 am the morning of our 2nd yard sale- and we made some great money off of it. The pastor blessed us financially, and they were able to take part in bringing our baby home. Win/win again! Don't say no to donations, even if the timing is crazy or you feel like there is no more space in your house/garage. You can make it fit!!!

6. Cash Flow. For our first two yard sales, we had a checkout booth. This made it easy for people to check out, and we had saved plastic grocery store bags to help people bag up their items (and they may be more willing to buy more things if they aren't trying to juggle stuff). We had a big jar that said "Donations for McGee Adoption" and "Thanks for Helping Bring Baby McGee Home!" on it. Some people would just drop money in that, and it helped people see that all the profits were for our adoption. Each 'salesperson' also carried a few dollars, just to make it easy in case the checkout line was backed up or if someone didn't want to go over there. Again, everybody had our blog cards to give out. We didn't leave a bunch of money outside. We rarely kept $20 bills outside, and once it seemed like there was a decent money pile we would take it inside, just to be safe.

Those are just a few tips that I can think of about hosting yard sale to fund raise. There are many other great blogs out there about yard sale tips. Here are a few more:

I have heard of people doing other great things, such as painting faces, lemonade stand/bake sales, masseuse for $1/minute... going on during the yard sale, and those are excellent ideas to offer during your sale. We didn't really have the time to bake before hand, but that is also a great idea.

Hope this helps others considering doing adoption yard sales. Our three sales raised around $5,000 together. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask. If you have done an adoption yard sale/ or any other successful yard sale, please link to it in the "Comments" section and I will post the link here for others to use as a reference.

Updated to add: Check with your town officials to see if you need a yard sale permit! That was necessary for us in our third yard sale, the cost was under $5.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Doesn't Take Much...

It doesn't take much to get us excited. With the yard sale behind us and finally being on the waitlist, we are taking huge sighs of relief these days. Want to see some other things that make us excited??


Yes, you actually get a certificate when you get your dossier finished. Amidst all of my blogstalking, I never picked up on this! So imagine my surprise when we get a certificate and a letter from B at AGCI. We joke about mounting it on our wall, because it is such a huge accomplishment. You never know around here, it probably will end up on our fridge at least....

#2: So Will and I decided that we could budget for each of us to get an "adoption tshirt." I had a really hard time deciding on which one I wanted, as there are many cute ones out there and I have a hard time making decisions anyway. I finally ordered one from Ordinary Hero, and wore it to our AL yard sale. Well, last week Will announced that he had ordered his t-shirt. When it came in, this is what I saw:
If you are into running, you will note that this is Haile Gebrsellassie (pronounced like Haley), a famous Ethiopian runner. He is not adopted (that I know of) and this shirt has nothing to do with adoption. Sigh. My husband LOVES Gebrsellassie (and who doesn't, he is so smiley!) and this is how he wanted his adoption t-shirt money to be spent. And if Will's sister wasn't named Haley, our baby might be named Haile (its a common Ethiopian name). My husband also has an enormous collection of t-shirts with people's faces on them. If you are in our small group, you have seen his favorites that he wears frequently.

#3: And finally, I decided to make a little countdown at work to show off our waitlist numbers... I hope it isn't obnoxious, but I am pretty excited, so I don't care!

Now your turn: What things are you excited about these days??

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Successful Yardsale #2!

We had another long weekend of yard sale madness... and it was a lot of fun! We are so, so thankful for the friends and family that worked SO hard to pull this off. There were so many donations and some dear friends spent Friday night and Saturday morning working hard to price, organize and sell to bring home our baby.

After having such an amazing yard sale in Alabama (read about that here), we really didn't want to set high expectations for this one. If we were going to let ourselves dream big, then we thought we might make around $300-500, but what we NEED is about $800 to for the US CIS/ I600 A form that we are about to have to send off. But really, $800 is a lot of money to make at a yard sale, so let's not get our hopes up, right??

Here is the setup:

Endless thank-yous to some precious friends:
Mary Anne & Steve Strothmann, for hosting the yard sale; Heather Fleming for the donations and many hours organizing and selling (she was there Friday and Saturday!!), Haley & Micah Messersmith for the donations and many hours spent helping- even with a 6 month old in tow, Robin Purdy, Katie Stringfellow & David Talbert (you know we love you!), and the many people who donated goods for the sale:

Catherine Robinson, Allison & Bobby Herrington, The Strothmanns, Daniel Wood, Brian Sanders, Brett & Katherine Sanders, Willis & Carol Baker, Laura, Adam & Jeannie Smith, Kurt, Grace Anne Edwards, Jonathan Edwards, Craig & Danielle Eggleton, Sara & Jay Mosser, Stephanie & Aaron Coalson... (and if I missed someone, leave a comment so that I can put it in the blog book). Thank you soooo much!

Now, I know this is getting lengthy and you're ready for the grand total, right?? Well, hold on to your hats. You know how we were HOPING for a couple hundred?? Well... we were BLOWN away when we added up everything. Ready for it??


Can you believe it? Well, of course, God is way more faithful than we can imagine, and he is 100% providing for this baby. Thank you Lord for providing exceedingly more than we can ask or imagine! We have the money to send off the I-600A and a good start on saving for the referral/travel. Praise God!

And while we are so thankful for the amazing turnout and for the tremendous financial blessing, there is more good news! There was a crammed car, truck & extras to be used in another family's adoption yard sale! Some newly acquainted friends of ours are adopting from Rwanda, and they will have yard sales this fall to help with their fundraising. I'm so glad to be rid of this junk yet so thankful that God will continue to use one man's trash to bring treasure as we get our babies :)

The Allisons' car packed full!
Thanks so much for your prayers, donations and financial gifts this weekend, and to all those that came by and bought things, or even brought us donuts or biscuits. We feel so loved on by our community and so thankful to be where we are.
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