Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Favorable Determination

According to B, our case manager, we are officially "paperwork ready" for a referral! Yep, we got our Favorable Determination Letter last weekend while we were enjoying the holiday with family. Happy Thanksgiving to us, we got our FDL only 2 weeks after our fingerprint appointment! Our fingerprints will expire in 15 months and our immigration approval expires in 18 months... let's pray we don't have to worry about that and can have our baby home before then! (These dates matter for the second trip, where we have our embassy appointment).

I know this may not seem like a big deal to those not in adoption-land, but for us it is a final check on the to-do list! Thanks for praying with us through this journey to our baby. God is so faithful!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Phone Call Upate

November is a phone call update month at our agency (AGCI alternates between a phone call & email each month to stay in touch with waiting families) but we just got our call last night. Our case manager, B, has been super busy referring babies and then the follow up process with those families. I certainly don't mind more babies coming home instead of my monthly call :)

It was great catching up with B, and we talked a little bit more about one of the AGCI updates we recently received. Almaz, the Hannah's Hope director (orphanage where our baby will be) has been traveling throughout Ethiopia to different regions to begin establishing relationships with government orphanages. These orphanages are where babies are brought if a family cannot care for their child.Then, the orphanages work with placing agencies (like AGCI) and some of the children move on to placing agency orphanages (like Hannah's Hope). It is exciting to see how AGCI can make a bigger impact in Ethiopia- one of our favorite things about AGCI is that it has a strong focus on in-country orphan care, and these new relationships with the government orphanages can be a very positive thing for those orphanages. Families who bring home babies from HH bring donations of clothing, formula, toys, etc, and often these items get passed to the government orphanages. Who knows, maybe our baby will come from one of these orphanages before getting placed at HH!

Other than our fingerprints a few weeks ago, there isn't really anything to report on our end. We're just waiting- for the FDL and once we have that, waiting until our referral. God has been so faithful to us during this exciting process and we are thankful to have this season of waiting! This time last year we had no clue that this journey was going to unfold. This thanksgiving we will be praising God for his continued faithfulness and sovereignty over our lives and our family. And I secretly hope that this will be our last holiday season without a little one in tow.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Why Adopt First?

It is really funny how when we tell people that we are adopting, many people’s first question is: “but are you ever going to have children of your own?” or “can you not have your own kids?”

Some are bold enough to ask this to our face, and some have a roundabout way of asking by mentioning their friends’ infertility issues, or their own. At our NC yard sale this summer, we were cornered by a person who said that she and her husband thought about adopting when they had fertility issues, but “it all worked out” and they had 3 biological kids afterall. She told us to keep our heads up because we are young and “never know” what might happen.

Well, in case you are one of the wondering people- we decided to adopt first, because we want to adopt first. This isn’t a “plan B” or “pregnancy-didn’t-work-so-lets-just-get-a-baby” thing for us. (Please know that if infertility led you to adoption- I’m not judging that. I’m just saying this is how our story is happening.)

My husband and I are young, we’re in our early twenties and knew that we wanted to have kids when we were young. Prior to getting married we said we would start talking about starting a family when we’d been married a year. At our one year anniversary, we looked at each other and realized we didn’t want to get pregnant then. After watching some dear friends of ours begin and complete an international adoption, we knew that adoption was also something we wanted to do, and we wanted that to be a priority for our family.
We feel that adoption is a mirror of the gospel. We believe that we have been adopted into God’s family, through his mercy he made a way for our sinful selves to be made pure and holy through His perfect sacrifice. We now have a heritage that is eternal, not from our own doing but because God chose us to be his children. Adopting a child was a very tangible way for us to portray that same picture here on earth.

When the reality of that truth really took hold of us, we knew that we wanted to adopt now. Adoption is a long process, and we knew that we weren’t facing the same timeline as a pregnancy, which worked for our stage of life with my husband being in seminary. We knew that adoption takes a lot of commitment- time, money, and energy. At this point, being just the two of us, we can live very frugally without affecting other children as we save for our baby.

We have a lot of dreams for our future, and adoption was among the list of things that it would be “great” to do one day. When we realized that it was a matter of obedience to adopt, we knew that doing it now would be the only way to make sure it really did happen. We knew that once we had biological children it could be much harder to save, fundraise, or spend time on paperwork.

So getting back to the original question: “are you ever going to have your own kids?” Well, we 100% believe adopted children will be our “own” kids. We have dreams to adopt from other countries and/or domestically, and we also dream of biological children. The only thing we can plan for right now is our little Ethiopian baby that is waiting for us right now. When we think of being parents, we picture little brown cheeks and dark hair. We can’t wait to be parents and are so thankful that God has allowed our family to grow this way.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Oprhan Care Night @ Southeastern!

Who: You are invited!  Invite your friends, small group members, family, and neighbors!

What: Orphan Care Coffee House $5 at the door. Coffee provided by Wake Forest Coffee Company & Homemade desserts

When: Thursday, November 18th from 8-11 pm (TONIGHT!)

Where: Ledford Center at SEBTS in Wake Forest, NC

Why: To help raise awareness of orphans and support the Canaan Orphanage in Haiti and a family that is adopting. 
Although I don't know this family, I think this is a really great opportunity to support each other as a community of believers. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Help Our Friends & Win a Trip!!

Our seminary/church friends, Stephanie and Aaron, are in the beginning stages of an AGCI/Ethiopia adoption. They, like many of us, are trusting God to financially provide for the adoption that He has called them to.

Would you like to help bring their baby home?

And would you like to win a trip to the Tennessee mountains and stay in a way-cool cabin? (Hey, even if you live in TN, it would be a nice little getwaway!).

Go to their blog, http://coalsonadoption.blogspot.com/ to be a part:

Here's what they are doing: someone donated a weekend (3 nights) in a beautiful cabin in the Tennessee mountains for one lucky winner!!
*Dates to be worked out with winner based on availability between Jan-April

How to enter:
* $20 = 1 entry
* $50 = 3 entries
* $100+ = 6 entries
You have until Sunday December 5 to enter, and we'll draw a winner at 6:00pm.
 (Donate on their blog, coalsonadoption.blogspot.com to enter)

Here's where you'll be staying

* 4 bedrooms
* 3.5 baths
* Sleeps 18
Complete with hot tub, fireplace, and game room
For more pictures click here

Everything you need for a relaxing weekend!

So check out their blog and see how your $20 brings them closer to their baby!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Adoption vs. Pregnancy

Let me being this post by acknowledging that I have never been pregnant. I don't know what it is like to be pregnant, but I have observed three sisters go through pregnancy, and several friends. Just like each pregnancy/child rearing is different, each adoption is also different. Different costs, timelines, reasons for adoption, reason a child is abandoned/relinquished, bonding processes, and needs during rearing the child. This is our first adoption and we will be first-time parents.

Since beginning the adoption process this spring, we have received several comments that compare adoption to pregnancy, and I just want to address this subject. Although both means are beautiful ways to bring a child into a family, and both are ordained by God, they are very different processes. We certainly may try to go the pregnancy route one day, or we may have all adopted babies- and we'd be happy either way!

Timing. This is pretty obvious, as with a pregnancy there is a definite countdown. You know that your baby will come in roughly 40 weeks, give or take, from conception. With adoption, you have no clue. There are families that get on the waitlist and get a referral in the same day/week, and some families that wait months or years for a referral. Each type of adoption- international, domestic, foster-to-adopt has its own timeline, and in most cases, it is completely unpredictable and you can't compare your story to another's story.

Mom-To-Be. This year was my first "Mother's Day" as a mom-to-be. One sweet friend of mine messaged me and said "If you were pregnant I would wish you a mother's day, and you are a mom-to-be, so happy mother's day!" While I am just as much an expectant mother, it is hard for people to grasp that I'll "really" be a mom, or share the same excitement with me because of the whole timing issue. An adoptive mom-to-be may celebrate many Mother's Days without having a baby in her arms. An adoptive mom may not know what age to prepare the home for- a newborn, older infant, toddler, older child? To some extent you get to choose some details, but even if you get a referral for a 3 week old baby, the child may be several months old by the time he/she comes home, and the development may not always be at the average rate.

Milestones. As an adoptive parent, milestones are treated differently. You may miss significant milestones, like the first smile/craw/laugh/walk/birthday. But with adoption, you get to not only celebrate birthdays, but can also celebrate "gotcha days" when a baby finally becomes an official part of the family. With pregnancy, you get to watch the milestones from the beginning, even with the development in the womb during ultrasounds.

Gender Ultrasound/Referral. Some families choose to find out the gender during a pregnancy. Although this is compared to a referral (when you find out the details of your child- age, gender, etc) this is not at all the same thing. (see next point).

Background. In pregnancies, the parents know the child's background. You generally know who the father is, and the details of the birth. With adoption, you don't always know every detail. But one thing you do know is that with every adoptive situation- there is a family somewhere that has loss. The loss of a grandchild, child, birthmother, or the sacrifice of knowing that the best decision for the baby is to let someone else raise the baby. When you get a referral, you have the joy of knowing all the details of your child, but you also know that your new baby comes to you because of someone else's loss.

Gospel Opportunities. With an adoption, you are taking a child, who has experienced loss (even if the child doesn't realize it yet), who needs a home, and giving it a family. There are countless ways to compare adoption to the way that God adopted us into his family if we are his children (believers). But, just like with pregnancy, each believing parent is charged with teaching the gospel and living out the gospel. Each marriage must represent Christ and the church, thus providing countless opportunities to share the gospel. Each parent shall love unconditionally and point children to Jesus. Every family, whether adopting or not, has opportunity to mirror Christ! I recently listened to a Voddie Baucham sermon on adoption, and he made a very great point: Bringing a child into your home through adoption IS NOT about how much love you have to give as the adoptive parent. Having love and not being poor and living on the streets isn't the issue. The issue is the gospel. You are adopting because you now have the opportunity to bring the gospel to more people. You can now teach a child the gospel that may not have heard it otherwise. God's charge to married couples in Genesis 1 to "be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth" is not so that we can have one big, loving, rich family. It is for HIS GLORY to be among the earth. Me being a parent means that my babies will be taught who Jesus is and how to glorify Christ. In the same way, any family that has children should not just have children to fill a void in their life or because they want children- Christian families have children to further the gospel and to bring God glory.

I hope that this post is well-received. As mentioned above, I'm not against pregnancy and we certainly may go down that road in the future. But please, consider how you talk with an adoptive family. Don't compare adoption to pregnancy, because they are very different, but both beautiful ways to have a family and both are means to do exactly what God called us to do: bring glory to Him.

Friday, November 12, 2010

US CIS Fingerprints

Today we marked another item off the to-do list: our US CIS Fingerprints! It took about 10 minutes for each of us, and was super simple. The machine didn't like my small fingers though! Now we wait until we get our last piece of paperwork- the "Federal Determination Letter" and then we are all-clear to get our referral (well, we still have to wait our turn, but there won't be anything in our way).

And did you know that when you get your US CIS Appointment Letter, you don't have to wait until your appointment date? At least in NC, you can use their walk-in hours as long as you have your appointment letter. So for those of you who are using agencies that won't let you get on the waitlist until you have that done (ex: Gladney), you don't have to wait! As soon as you get your letter, go get your fingerprints done and that will speed up the process for you to get on the waitlist and be done with the paperwork stage! Call the number on the paper to find out the walk in hours, here in NC there are many hours Monday-Thursday. Remember that these fingerprints are only good for 18 months, though!

Pssst- I'm guest posting today on my friend Shannon's blog on why we chose to adopt first!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

FUN things! (including Giveaway Winner!)

1. Remember our Orphan Care Ministry at our church? Well we had a ladies' night last night and it was wonderful! There were ladies in the adoption/fostering process, mommas of grown and young adopted/fostered children, and some just considering the processes now. It was encouraging and so fun. I can't wait for the next Orphan Care event on December 14- "Funding Your Adoption" at Summit Church at 7 pm in Durham :)

2. You people are SUPER creative! I loved reading the comments on this post about handmade gift options. If you haven't already, check out the comment section on some awesome ideas for Christmas gifts! Even my sister, who claims that she isn't crafty, could totally learn how to make something off that list (ahem, Sarah!).

3. We are good at keeping secrets. And those secrets include people who are way close to getting started in the adoption process. And if you're worried I'm hinting about your family, don't worry, because I'm hinting about several families. Praise God!

4. TONIGHT at the Falls Lake Chick Fil-A on Falls of the Neuse Rd in Raleigh, from 5-8, is a fundraising event for our friends who are adopting from Rwanda. We'll be there with our small group at 6:30. If you're local, come on out- even if you don't know the Allisons! It will be fun! (Check out their blog for details).

5. Africa Totes- I want to do a giveaway every day, wouldn't that be fun? I would love to give everybody a tote, but I can't because we are sold out of totes (if you have already talked to me about buying a tote you're safe!)! Amazing, huh? We're working on getting them restocked and ready. We're also going to get more sock monkeys because those are all gone too, and I've gotten several requests for them! I'll let you know when we're ready to sell- look out for a "Buy Handmade" tab up top when things are stocked!

Ok, ok, you're ready for the winner right?

Random.org generated the winner - and it was #9, Heather! 
Blogger Heather said...
I'd love a tote. My craft idea is to buy styrofoam balls, using a butter knife, stuff the edges of quilt squares into the ball and in the end it looks like a quilted Christmas ornament. You can stuff a piece of ribbon into the top w/ a pin and then hang it from the ribbon. Make sense?It's easy and cheap!
November 8, 2010 12:34 PM
Thanks everyone for participating in our tote giveaway. I plan to do another one SOON because this was just too fun!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Africa Tote Giveaway!

Thanks for all of your prayers and well-wishes on the craft fair. It was a very fun day!

There are a good bit of leftovers though so I'm trying to figure out the best way to sell/give the items that I still have. First things first, who wants an Africa tote?

If you want one just leave a comment with an idea for a handmade or cheap Christmas gift for this year. I'm brainstorming my options now!

Winner will be chosen on Wednesday, November 10 at 12 Noon EST by random.org. Make sure there is a way for me to email you, because the winner gets to pick which one of the 3 fabric options that are in the picture :)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

November Official Numbers!

 Although this month is a "phone call" month with our case manager, we got a quick email last week to let us know our numbers on the waitlist. October was a very exciting month at AGCI. While a family was in Ethiopia at Hannah's Hope, they saw 10 babies come in! The family kindly emailed the waiting families on the listserve, so it was only a matter of time for the "HH10" to be matched with forever families! It was super fun to see many referrals in one day, and for families that were our first blog friends to now be parents!

Anyways, our numbers for November are significantly lower than October's numbers!!

For a girl:

For a boy:

 Yes, 55 Girl, 30 boy!

 We are so thankful for this movement, but more excited for the many babies that now have mommies and daddies!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Last Minute Details

I decided to make some last minute additions to my inventory: 
More flat coasters ($4/set, lots of each kind) and Africa bags! (thanks MIL for sending me them!). 

So, will I see you there tomorrow? 
It is from 9-3 at the Ledford Center Gymnasium (upstairs) at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, NC. There are directions up top on my blog that you can click on. 
It is a really, really cool event. There are super neat things to buy for Christmas gifts or treats! Last year we were able to knock off several things on our Christmas list. 

Hope to see you tomorrow, and if you can't stop by- pray for us that it goes well! We hope at the very least that our adoptive mama group will be able to encourage other people and spread the word about adopting now.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

And Another Adoptive Family!

More great news, folks! Our friends (and fellow seminary family/ Summit church family) Stephanie and Aaron Coalson have been officially approved to adopt from Ethiopia through AGCI! Woo hoo for another Hannah's Hope baby :)

Check out their adoption blog:


So go on over and say "hi" and/or come by and meet her this Saturday at the SEBTS craft & bake fair! Stephanie, Catherine, Ashley and I will be selling some awesome stuff to bring home our babies! (more details to come soon!)
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