Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Blog To Book

Basically I am using this post for my future reference, because a lot of times I will email things to myself, write things in a "special place" etc and then have NO CLUE where I put something, or that I thought about that something in the first place...

I have mentioned before that I am interested in transforming this blog into a book to commemorate our adoption journey. Other AGCI listserve people have recommended the following websites to do this:

Blurb

Blog2Print


Have you done this before? What site did you use? Any tips?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Black Gold

After recommendation from many people on the AGCI Listserve, Will and I added "Black Gold" to our Netflix Que. It is a documentary about the coffee market in Ethiopia, and follows a man who advocates for farmers in Ethiopia. It was very well-done, and I would recommend that you add it to your Netflix list or search for it at movie stores (are there still movie stores out there??).

For a good review of the film, read Angela's review here.

To check out the film's website, go to http://www.blackgoldmovie.com/

When I was watching the movie I couldn't help but think of our baby- will our baby come from a family of coffee farmers that lives off of so little? One thing is for sure- the Ethiopian people featured were beautiful and hard working.

Another thing that this film really allowed me to see was the importance of buying fair-trade. I really hadn't researched it that much but now I see how money really filters down to the people who do such hard work to care for their families and send their kids to school.

I hope that you will check the film out, but that you will also consider buying fair-trade items when possible. Someone on the listserve mentioned that they saw fair-trade coffee at Wal Mart!

If you are interested in buying fair trade and supporting our adoption, check out our "Just Love Coffee" fundraiser. The coffee is fair-trade, and the company was started by an adoptive family.

Every bag of coffee that is purchased from our site, $5 goes towards our adoption- and trust me, that adds up! We bought some of the "Ethiopian Harrar" and it has been so tasty (and we are coffee snobs). We also got one of the little coffee scoops, and it has allowed for us to have the perfect measurements of coffee for our pot. Before this, our coffee would be too strong one day or too watery the next because I never could measure it right (how many "heaping teaspoons" do we need for 2 people?). This would be a good "stocking stuffer" or gift idea, since it is only $3.50! And I think we get $1 for each of those too!

Check out our coffee site here: https://www.justlovecoffee.com/themcgees

The scoops I was talking about can be found here.

A coworker of mine bought several bags of Just Love's coffee from our site... we have had fair-trade sampling parties in our office on days when we all need a caffeinated "pick me up." This could be something you could do at your office too!

Thanks friends!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

War Eagle!


This weekend we are headed to the "Loveliest Village on the Plains" aka Auburn University (our Alma mater)! Lots of family time, football watching, cornhole playing and eating will take place.

I can't help but hope that this time next year we may have a little Auburn football player or Auburn cheerleader in our home, or at least know who our baby is.....

Here's to hoping!

And, War Eagle!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

September Official Numbers!

We got our number call last Thursday, and it was great to hear from our case worker, B! The first thing I told her was "don't get mad, but we haven't sent off our I-600A form yet" and she said that we were the third family she had talked to that hasn't done this yet... made us feel a little bit better about being slackers!

Anyways, our numbers for the month are:

Girl's List:

Boy's List:
So we moved 3 spots for girls and 1 spot for boy in the last month. Hopefully things will pick up once court reopens in October (Ethiopian courts close every year for 2 months during the "rainy season").

The most simple way to explain the waitlist numbers is that there are 73 families waiting for a girl/ 47 families waiting for a boy ahead of us.... but this is not necessarily true, because some families (like us) are on both lists, so if they get a referral, then we move on both lists!

Thanks for praying alongside our journey. We are staying busy these days but our child is constantly on our minds and hearts. This waiting game is not for sissies, and we are resting in God's grace to sustain us as we trust in His sovereign plan for our lives and the life of our Ethiopian baby.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Congratulations!!

We are so excited that our new friends, the Moores, have just made their decision to adopt "public"- and even more fun news, they are going to adopt from Ethiopia through Gladney!

We recently met Ashley and Adam through our church's new Orphan Care Ministry, where we were matched with them for the "mentoring" aspect. Our stories are pretty similar, in fact we were married a month apart! It is such a blessing to see how God has worked in their hearts and we are excited to see how He will be faithful to them in this adoption process.

So congrats friends! Although there is a long road ahead, you will be so amazed at how faithful God is and how He will provide every need. And when there are times when it seems like money won't come through or the paperwork is taking forever, or there are bumps in the road, remember this:

"The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it."
(1 Thessalonians 5:24)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

More Detailed Pad Project Instructions

This is taken from Andrea's blog... she is one of the project coordinators and recently adopted from Ethiopia. Check out her blog here.

FAQs for Project 1: “It’s a Girl Thing”
PLEASE NOTE–some things may have been tweaked per Sarah and I so please read carefully! Thank you to the AMAZING group of ladies involved!!! And if you live in the Atlanta area and you are interested in joining our pad party—please let me know! AND…thank you Sarah Titus for providing the wonderful answers for us!!!

1. We will provide a kit for each girl. What needs to go in each kit?

12 washable inserts + 6 holders + 2 panties + 1 drawstring bag

2. What kind of material should I use?‘Envelope’ or ‘holder’ – These can be made of many different fabrics: cotton, flannel, twill, etc although I would recommend staying away from stretchy knits and synthetics like polyester.

There are basically two options:

A. To make them with one waterproof layer of PUL (bottom layer) and make the top and two little ‘envelope’ ends out of a different fabric like a cotton print.

OR

B. Without a waterproof layer – the holder/envelope would be made all out of the same fabric.

Both are completely acceptable!!! The only part of these that will be touching skin are the two little ends – the pad or ”insert’ is the more important layer as it is what will be touching skin and doing the absorbing.

Pad or ‘insert’ – These are best using a soft, thick, absorbent material like flannel. Do you have any flannel sheets lying around not being used?? Flannel shirts?? Anything like this will work great!!! You can make these three different ways:

A. By sandwiching a layer of cotton batting (not poly as it won’t absorb) between two layers of flannel and serging or zigzagging all four sides,

OR

B, By cutting 4-6 layers of flannel and serging or zigzagging the edges,

OR

C. By sandwiching a layer or two of terry cloth strips (old towels, etc) between flannel and serging edges (I would recommend using a serger for this option because terry can fray badly if just zigzagged with a regular sewing machine).

Drawstring bag – These can also be made of many different fabrics! I like the way a nice cotton print or a cotton/poly print turn out. Both are durable and easy to clean. You may want to use many different prints so the girls can tells theirs apart and they are unique. I have also made these with a print on one side and a contrasting solid on the other. (You would just have to sew the two fabrics together at the bottom instead of making the bag out of all one piece).

Drawstring for bag – Ribbon, nylon string, cording, etc I would NOT recommend using yarn or regular string, as these would wear out quicker and be a bit harder to use.

3. Waterproof layer? What is PUL???

Here is a great description of PUL fabric: http://www.celticclothswholesale.com/pages/PULFabric.htm This is great to use for the waterproof layer of fabric you can use for your holders/envelopes.

4. How will the holders stay on the panties? Do I have to use snaps?

Touch tape (Velcro) and snaps both seem to be performing well for fasteners.

5. How much fabric do I need for the envelopes/holders?

One yard of PUL will make about 30 ‘envelopes’ as long as you use a cotton or flannel for the top layer.

6. If I am going to hold a party, do we need someone to bring a serger?

Not necessarily, BUT if someone has one–absolutely bring it as a serger will make completing the edges super fast and much easier!

7. When are the deadlines for completing the project?

We have 2 seperate deadlines. We will send the first shipment over with travelers in late October–so our first deadline is October 1st. Our goal would be to have half of the pads in by this time. If you or your party can’t have them ready to October 1st–no worries. We will have more travelers going to Korah later in the year and the Wiphan trip will not go over until late December. Our second deadline is December 1st.

8. Where do I ship our kits once completed?

If you live on the east side of the U.S. you will ship to Andrea in Georgia. If you live on the west side you will ship to Sarah in Oregon. When you are ready to ship please email Sarah or Andrea to get the shipping details. We will send you a confirmation email to let you know we have received your package once it arrives. (OR email me at yestoadoption@gmail.com and I can give you the addresses)

9. Will we be able to find out the response of the girls and ladies who received them so we can share this with our party attendees?

Absolutely! We will do our best to have the delivers take pictures and return with stories from the girls and women. We hope this is something we can even replenish for them year after year as needed—and I know this will mean so much to them and enable many of them to be comfortable and stay in school.

Last but not least–Don’t forget to prewash the fabric so it is ‘pre-shrunk’. We wouldn’t want to send over a bunch of pads and have them shrink out of shape on the first wash!!! Using creativity and deviating from the pattern, etc is totally okay – these are more general ideas and guidelines.

Thank you to the many women helping with this project!!! We are so excited to partner with so many of you to minister to the girls and ladies in this way. This project is not possible without YOU!!! Thank you!!!!!!!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Updates (Korah & Rwanda)

Hi friends! Here are a few things to note:

1. Pad Project:
The deadline for submitting pads/underwear for the Korah project is October 1 (however, they are splitting up the goods and sending them over in October, November and December, so if you are sending them in late, don't worry, they will still be delivered). There are two women orchestrating the delivery of the goods, one in Oregon and one in Atlanta, Georgia. I will email you the addresses, if you email me. If you are not a sewer, you can send packages of cotton underwear to the address I will give you! When you send your package, inside it please include an email address for the ladies to send you confirmation that they received it, and for them to keep track of what they receive and from whom. Thanks for complying :)

Just a reminder, each "kit" should include:
6 'base' pads

12-14 inserts

2 pairs of panties
1 drawstring bag.

I started working on the pads and inserts this week, and they are pretty easy and quick to make. I have a very simple, step-by-step pattern that I can email you (it is a pdf). Just shoot me an email at yestoadoption(at)gmail(dot)com.

Also, if you would kindly email me a picture of your work, I would love to post about the results and show off your hard work for these ladies! No worries, I won't connect pictures with names :)


2. Our friends' Rwandan adoption:
Thanks so much for your prayers for the country of Rwanda and for the families trying to get their dossiers approved. Last week I mentioned our friends' prayer request, and I should report that many miracles happened, and God's divine timing allowed for their dossier to come to the Rwandan embassy on time!! I know it took a leap of faith for them to go ahead and send off their dossier and trust that many people would work in their favor for their dossier to be authenticated. They saw the Lord's blessing in many ways, and it looks like they will get their son from Rwanda afterall! Praise God!


3. Our Adoption:
Things on our end are pretty slow... we are waiting for our September phone call from our case worker to get our new number, and just enjoying life as a family of 2. At this point, I am trying not to get too caught up in the waitlist numbers and watching the AGCI list-serve for referrals, because I don't want to miss out on what God has in store for us here and now by longing for time to pass quicker. There are many things in my heart that the Lord is graciously refining, and I don't want to be distracted from what His will is for me in this waiting period. I know this will get harder the longer that we are waiting (can you believe it has already been 6 months since we started the process?). One area that I struggle with is when friends/family members get pregnant, knowing that from the time of their conception to delivery will be much faster than our whole time in this adoption process. I must continually surrender to the Lord and trust that He is faithful, He is sovereign and this process will bring HIS glory.

We continue to hear of families choosing to begin the adoption process, and our hearts rejoice with them and for the babies that will have mothers and fathers.

Thanks for following our journey, folks. God is good.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Why were those countries closing?

Recently my mom asked me WHY are all of these countries closing to the US. First Guatemala, then Russia, Nepal and Rwanda (and many other countries have had changes in their policies as well).

Well, on the surface level I am sure that Satan HATES adoption because of its clear picture of the gospel, and because God calls us to care for those in need and Satan wants to ruin God's plans!

Then again, from my social work perspective, adoption should be proceeded in a child-centered way, and ethics need to be a priority!! So situations where families reject legally adopted children, or adopted children aren't really orphans- there needs to be investigation and best practice policies established!!!

Here is my (personal) opinion, and what I, with my limited internet research, am finding regarding the recent closures. All italicized words are quotes, and I did my best to link to my research.

Nepal:
Nepal suspended adoptions for "abandoned children" because there was the possibility of unethical things happening. Allegedly, kids were being put up for adoption and their families were looking for them. This wasn't the case for EVERY child, but enough situations in which there needed to be firmer policies put in place to make sure orphaned children really are orphaned, and not exploited kids who are sold.

The official statement says "To the best of our knowledge, all other countries that had been processing adoption cases from Nepal have stopped accepting new cases due to a lack of confidence that children presented as orphans are actually eligible for intercountry adoption."
Read the official reports here and here.

Rwanda:

Rwanda temporarily closed because it is going to now become a part of the "Hague Convention" (which means a lot more paperwork/reworded paperwork that adoptive families have to do), and because they also needed to restructure their adoption program. They also are extremely understaffed so they are way behind in matching children with families. Rwanda looks a lot more positive in opening back up at some point soon, and they will process all dossiers (paperwork) that are dated August 31, 2010 which means that "official" waiting families (like us) will still be matched with children.

The official statement says: "Effective August 31, 2010,the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion (MGFP) in Rwanda is temporarily suspending all new applications for intercountry adoptions so they can prepare for accession to the Hague Convention. MGFP announced that applications from prospective adoption parents already received by the Ministry or any Rwandan Embassy before the above mentioned date will be processed. More information will be provided as updates are received from the U.S. Embassy in Rwanda."


Read official reports here.

What is the Hague Convention?
"Question: What Is the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption?
Answer:The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption is an international agreement between participating countries on best adoption procedures. These procedures have basically two goals in mind:
  • The best interest of children are considered with each intercountry adoption.
  • The prevention of abduction, exploitation, sale, or trafficking of children.

The guidelines and procedures that are set forth in the Hague Convention are also for the protection of birth families, as well as adoptive families. Part of the Convention's guidelines ensures that one Central Authority is in place in each country so that adoptive parents get the most accurate information regarding adoption. The Department of State is the U.S. Central Authority for the Convention. According to the State Department's Web site, implementing the principles of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption is the State Department's top priority at this time. They hope that the U.S. will be a Hague Convention country by late 2007 or early 2008."

Source found here.

Although Ethiopia is not a Hague country, AGCI requires that we fill out our paperwork according to Hague standards.

Regarding the Ethiopian Process
:
One of the AGCI Caseworkers just returned from Ethiopia, and noted:
"When traveling to the South [of Ethiopia] especially, I was struck by the difficulty involved in completing the relinquishment or abandonment process for a child, a process that happens before AGCI or any other agency can even consider advocating for the placement of a child with an adoptive family. To give you a little background information, when a case is being processed for relinquishment or abandonment, there are essentially 3 main entities involved. The first is the Kebele, a part of the government that actually has to process the legal documents and officially approve a child for placement. The second is the birth family member currently caring for the child. Lastly, there is the social worker through a government affiliated orphanage who is actually communicating with the birth family. The Social workers role includes, helping them complete the necessary paperwork to submit to the Kebele for relinquishment and asking all those “right questions” to be sure that the birth family is truthful about their living circumstances, age of the child, medical information, social history, etc."

"Even after that point though when AGCI or another agency is assigned a child for placement, the process is not quite done. Due to the increasing scrutiny by the US Embassy and media attention on adoptions in Ethiopia, it has become increasingly important for agencies to also follow up on the details of each case to confirm the information is true, check for any discrepancies in information, and be sure all viable facts are known and presented as accurately as possible. This means even after a child is assigned to AGCI there may still be discrepancies to correct or further information to clarify or be gathered before we can refer a child. Finally, once these facts are confirmed by our staff we are able to officially place a child with their forever family and jump into the court process. All in all, this entire abandonment or relinquishment process can be anywhere from a few days to many, many months depending on all the variables involved in each case."

If International Adoption is so Unpredictable, Why Do it??
But if the uncertainty of adoption scares you, think about this: if we KNOW that God has called us to care for the orphans, and you are feeling a tug to adopt, are you really going to let FEAR hold you back? Even if we don't see our plans come to fruition, wouldn't it be better to answer to God and say that you answered his call obediently, no matter the outcome?


"If the LORD delights in a man's way,

he makes his steps firm;

though he stumble, he will not fall,
for the LORD upholds him with his hand. "

Psalm 37: 23-24

I hope you found this helpful and informative!

To find out information on lots of other countries & adoption updates, click here.
(Please note that italicized words in this post are quotes, the rest is of my opinion/research.)
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