"" Life A Bit Sweeter: September 2009

Monday, September 21, 2009

Facing Giants & The Phases of the Ethiopian Adoption Process

Okay...so there are of course LOTS of things to do to get started with the adoption process.  There are basically four phases of the Ethiopian adoption process.  They include:
  1. Application & Paperchase ($4,455 to $7,105)
  2. Dossier Submission & Waiting ($7,700)
  3. Referral & Travel ($9,420 to $13,070)
  4. Post-Adoption ($1,085 to $4935)
The cost of each of the phases and the items embedded within each phase can vary from agency to agency and state to state (depending upon where you live).  I've provided the ranges from the low end of the spectrum to the very high end of the spectrum.  Over the months to come, I'll blog about where we are in each of these phases. 

For now, I'll share where we are right this very moment.  It's what I call the "Preliminary Phase".  Here's a list of things that we needed/need to complete as soon as possible.

  1. Begin sharing the news of our adoption with family and friends. (9/9/09)
  2. Start a blog to talk about it.  (9/14/09)
  3. Research and select an agency.
  4. Create a plan to save the money needed to fund Phase One of the adoption process.
  5. Open a separate checking account to use for all adoption-related expenses.
  6. Meet financial milestone for Phase One of adoption process:  $6,000
God:  I have to tell you that when I see these numbers, it is quite intimidating but I know this is Your vision and not our own so I'm believing that You will partner with us to make provision.  Help us to get out of our boats of safety and comfort to have the faith to trust you to walk on this spiritual water.  Please guide us along the way and strengthen us in You when it seems like too much to handle.   Out of all the voices calling out to me, I will choose to listen to the Voice of Truth.  Amen

Friday, September 18, 2009

Thanks for Talking Me Off the Ledge

It's always great to have someone that can give you perspective.  Many times, it's my honey, Tony.  This morning, it was my ever loving big brother, Mike.  If you've never heard me talk about my brother Mike, what rock have you been under???....I'm only serious (smile).   Straight up...he is so special to me.  Since we were little kids, I have always looked up to him and mimicked what he did...sometimes it got me into trouble....(hey mike....remember cutting the arm of the couch with a razor blade or how about spilling a slurpee into the tv....sorry I digressed...now back to his good points...smile).

Yesterday evening, what began as a great day of opening up our adoption application packet, ended up in questions of anxiety such as "what if this doesn't go right..what about this....what about that?"  It was really ridiculous because I was working myself into a panic about stuff that really is not an issue.  It was just that the amount of information that you have to fill out is incredible.  So I was really going off the deep end.  I was up at midnight sending out Facebook updates about my anxiety.  My cousin Shelly helped me out initially with some comforting words and I was off to sleep only to wake up in the morning with the same worries.  So I called my brother Mike and was able to share what was going on with me.  Since my dad is no longer alive, his voice is sometimes the voice of reason for me.  If you were fortunate to have a strong, positive relationship with your dad...you may know that it's like your dad saying "Everything is going to be alright."  Just at that moment, your situation hasn't changed but because daddy says it's going to be alright, you feel so much comfort.  That's what my big brother voice of influence is to me.   (Now don't get it twisted.  My husband is not intimidated by this.  He understands the relationship that my brother and I have, what we've been through together through childhood and he celebrates it.)

So today's post is dedicated to my brother Mike.....my hero...big brother....and friend.  I love you babe! You have been a remarkable influence in my life. 

Thursday, September 17, 2009

We Opened Our Application Packet

If you remember yesterday's post below, you know that I was extremely anxious to open up our adoption application yesterday but had to wait.  So today, we opened it up as a family.  It was sooo exciting.  While this may not seem like a big deal, for us it certainly was today.  I'm not sure if I can compare it to the day you find out you're pregnant or when you decide you and your spouse are going to actively try having a child.  Whichever it is, I can remember both can be pretty exciting....well, depending upon where you are in your life and your thought process on having a child at that particular time.

Today was a great day to a beautiful end.  I can't wait to start exploring the papers.  I've started browsing through some of the details and to be honest, wow...it is definitely VERY thorough the amount of information that will be investigated.  At the same time, it's a great thing that this much detail goes into the investigative reports.

Keep us in your prayers....we're just getting started!!!  

(P.S.  Just in case you were wondering...Mekhi's eye is looking a little funny because he collided into his friend Miles on the basketball court at aftercare today...little boys are so rought...can't wait for the dainty little girl to arrive...smile)

Got the application BUT....

So I've been like a little kid waiting for the adoption application papers to come in the mail.  Okay, so I know I just requested the papers a few days ago but a girl can dream, right?  I mean I've been checking the mailbox EVERYDAY, including the  day after I submitted the application packet over the internet.  While we haven't finalized our selection of a particular adoption agency, America World is where we are leaning and I've been waiting for their packet.  So today when I got home from work, I did what I've been doing...went to the mailbox before I even backed the truck into the garage....and NOTHING... :-(   oh well....there's always tomorrow.

Today, Tony wasn't at home waiting for me to get there because he went to the golf course with a friend right after work.  He swung by the house earlier just to pick-up his golf clubs but then he was out.  So the boys and I went on in the house and started our daily wind down routine...change uniforms (them), back the truck into the garage (me),  get a snack before dinner (them), start/finish up dinner (me).  As I went into the kitchen I saw a cardboard mailer envelope sitting in our Reading Room...WAIT!!!!  Oh my, SAY IT ISN'T SO....COULD IT BE????  IT WAS!  There in all of its beauty was a white large cardboard envelope with baby blue stripes .  The envelope had stamped on its front "America World Adoption...To build Christian families according to God's design of adoption."  WOO HOO!!!  YES!  I can't wait to open it but WAIT!!!....there's one problem....my honey isn't back home yet.  He had gotten the mailer out of the front door but didn't pay attention to who it was from.  This sucked because I wanted us to open it together.  I wanted a family picture on our front steps with our family holding the envelope to capture that moment....so gotta wait some more.

I went on into the kitchen, got dinner started and was sure that my honey would be home in the next hour while there was still daylight outside!  I assumed that Tony went to the golf course up the street from our house but nope...today he and his buddy decided to go to the golf course in DC.  Little by little the daylight turned to dark and my dream of taking our pic on the stairs slowly faded.

I called my next door neighbor, Alethea, and in her sweetness she said we could wait until tomorrow morning and she'd come over to take the photo before we all left in the morning.  Great idea BUT the mailer would taunt me...beg me to open it, right?  She said, "No.  Put it away where you won't keep looking at it."  So until tomorrow morning, away the envelope goes so that it doesn't keep calling my name....Michelle....Michelle....Michelle....I know you want to see what's inside."  Good thing I had a long day at work because I'm hitting the sack and if I go to sleep, the morning will just get here faster!  Until then...good night!

In the meantime, here's a tribute to my days (and days to come)of waiting for the Postman...yep, we're going way back....

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Why Adopt Internationally?

So the question that we get right now is why adopt internationally?  Why Ethiopia?  I really wish there was a quick straight-forward answer to those questions but there is not one.  The short of it if you don't have time to read the detailed post below is that we whole-heartedly believe that God has chosen this for us.  It's part of the reason why we were created and part of why the two of us were joined together in marriage.  It's to also show the power of God in all situations.  If you'd like to and have the time to hear the details of God's hand in moving our hearts to this, take the journey with us below...

Since the time that Tony and I married in 1998, we've always talked about the possibility of adopting.  Part of it started with me because I was adopted by my family.  Although the family I was adopted into was my birth father's brother, I've always appreciated that I had somewhere to go and didn't get caught up in the foster care system.  Because of this, adoption has always been special to us and a consideration for our own family.  Even after both of our boys were born, we still wanted to adopt; however, our thoughts were always centered around local adoption.  International was never a consideration and frankly it never even crossed my mind.  Add to that the fact that I hated traveling even on family vacations.  I despised being in one place just riding.  I just wanted to get there.  I sometimes wished I were like the lady from the old show 'I Dream of Genie' because with a quick nod of my head, I'd be at my destination.  Furthermore, I've never had an awareness or should I say honestly, an interest in international mission trips.  As time progressed and the years flew away, our oldest son, Anthony had a baby girl and after having her at the house for a couple of nights, we were CLEAR that we didn't want to adopt anymore.  She's a sweetheart but having a baby full-time was not what we wanted anymore. We didn't want to change diapers, pay for expensive childcare, get up for late night feedings, sterilize bottles, teach someone to use the potty and I think for me, as the only lady in the house, I selfishly began to enjoy all the attention of being my husband's 'little girl' so to speak.  I enjoyed laying my head on his chest and cuddling with him.  In my head, a little girl would take my place in his arms and on his chest.  Selfish I know but that's where I was.

And then it happened, on September 1st at 10:04am.  I tweeted these words on my Twitter page which I can't seem to fully explain: 

"Today, I am learning that my world is so much larger than what I see, touch, and feel everyday.  God what are U doing?  What are U saying?"

It was Tuesday morning and I was surfing the net for grocery coupons and getting my grocery shopping list together.  For a while, I could feel a softening of my heart of some sort.  It wasn't a physical softening where I was having trouble with my heart.  It was more like a compassion for something was opening up but I had no idea what was going on.  It was beautiful what I felt inside my heart yet it's so difficult to explain.  Then at 12:04pm, I added these words to my 'maybe' list of Things I'd Like to Do on my regular blog:  "Maybe adopt a little girl from a foreign nation."

I couldn't believe what I just wrote.  Not me.  But even still, in writing this I was amazingly okay with it.  The only apprehension I had was wondering what others would think.  First, what would Tony think?  We were resolved about this whole adoption thing.  The second biggest thing I worried about was that we were just getting to a place financially where we were changing how we looked at money.  We were focusing on rolling back the debt and certainly adopting from a foreign nation doesn't roll back the debt...it rolls up the debt.  But even still, it wasn't the apprehension of being able to afford the adoption that concerned me.  It was the worry of how a few people closest to me who knew about our past finances and the progress we were making would react.  In my heart I was okay because it wasn't even a definite yet.  I kept it on my 'maybe' because I wanted to be sure that this was a God thing and not just some whim.

I ended up talking to Tony about it and he thought it was a great idea!  WHAT???  My husband thought it was now a GREAT idea.  I mean he was actually onboard with it?  At that point, we were both at so much peace about the adoption.  I also shared with him this unexplainable heart for Ethiopia that I felt was God's leading.  I showed him the statistics about Ethiopia, some of the adoption stories, and how much I had cried since being drawn to Ethiopia.  He agreed that we would pursue a baby girl from Ethiopia.  In praying about it, asking God for repeated confirmations, talking to one of our Pastors about it, we were confident that this was God's vision and not one of our own.  We were also certain and at peace that because this is God's vision, He'll provide the resources. It doesn't mean that the road will be easy.  We know we'll have to sow much and are prayerful that our friends and family will partner with us in small and large ways.

What's so amazing (and funny) about what God has done in our hearts is everything that we said we weren't going to do, God has turned our hearts to do that exact thing.  When you look back at the paragraph explaining why we didn't want to adopt, every single reason was because of something selfish that we didn't sacrifice.  When we made the decision not to adopt, we never one time asked God to show us if that was His will for us.   We just wanted what we wanted...a comfortable life where now our kids were self-sufficient and we could continue to pursue our wants and we just really thought that raising another child just didn't fit into that equation.  So guess what, the traveling I despised so much, we're going to have to travel approximately 2 1/2 days just one way to pick-up our little girl.  We'll stay for 7 days in a land that is not gifted with luxury hotels for our accommodations.  We'll be at a guest house and in some seasons depending upon when we go, we may not have electricity every day.  We'll have to fly back another 2 1/2 days to bring our sweet baby home.  The funny thing in all of that is I am okay and actually excited about that day....the day that I get to meet her face-to-face and hold her in my arms.  The difference now is that we have exchanged our will for God's Will.  Thank you Lord for helping me to learn to give up what I think in my life is good, for what you know in my life is BEST.

Thanks for allowing me to share and put this on record so that one day we can go back in time to this post and share with our little girl the miracle of how she came into our lives.

Peace and blessings to you,

Monday, September 14, 2009

Our Big Announcement...A Baby Sister???

"Whatchoo talkin' 'bout Willis?"  That's the famous line by Arnold of Different Strokes.  (If you're tryin' to figure out who is Arnold or Different Strokes, well baby, you're just too young to know..smile).

In any case, you may be asking yourself that exact same question.  A Baby Sister says the heading of the post.  Michelle, what are you talking about?  I mean you're the chick that has clearly stated over and over that you're finished having children...in fact, you had your tubes tied (okay, maybe TMI --too much information--for some).  So what's going on???

Well, Tony and I are beginning the process to adopt a baby girl from Ethiopia and we are soooo excited.

What?  How?  Why?  Are you sure?  More to come later this week so stay posted!

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