The words I often hear from my husband when my to do list is crazy are...."You can only do one thing at a time so start with that one thing and then go to the next." I know that's common sense but it's funny because if you know me, I want to start on 10 things, get each of those things going, and work towards their completion. Right now is no different.
In working through the details of the adoption, working full-time, and still having to handle my relationship and other priorities in life, sometimes it feels insane. Other times I enjoy the craziness of it all. Right now, sister girl is tired. March has really been March Madness for me and I'm not referring to basketball (smile). My lists are piling and I hate this feeling of not being on top of it. I really believe lists are for me to control and not for them to control me. Then again, have I submitted these 'lists' to God to ask Him to give me clarity on what things I'm supposed to do. So instead, I end up sometimes like a plate spinner, trying to keep everything in motion but my trouble is that sometimes unlike the Bellini twins below, I end up with broken dishes.
My simple prayer today and all that I can muster: Dear God, please help.
Current Country Availability: Ethiopia, United States, Rwanda, Liberia, Russia, Guatemala, and Uganda.
Now you can keep additional adoptive countries close to your heart. This handmade glass tile pendant measures 1" x 1". The front of the pendant features a colorful representation of the country while the back of the pendant reminds you that with this purchase you are decreasing the 147 million orphan count by one. As an adoptive parent, family member, or friend it also reminds you that bringing your child home has brought one more child into a forever family.
Each pendant hangs on a silver-plated chain.
Because of the delicacy of this piece, please do not bathe, swim, or shower in your pendant. All pendants are water-resistant but not waterproof.
CUSTOMIZATION ALSO AVAILABLE: You can also customize the back of your pendant for an additional $5 to say "147 million orphans MINUS two"...or three, depending upon how many children you, a family member, or friend has adopted from that particular country. I will send you a separate invoice for a customized order.
SHIPPING: $5 for shipping within the USA. Contact me for other shipping options.
Please note that each pendant is handmade. I will e-mail you as soon as your order ships.
I'm sorry I've been out of commission on my blog for a week but I promise, I've been up to something REALLY, REALLY GOOD! I hope to be right back on Thursday to share with you what I've been up to.
In the meantime, I asked Peter Kidd over at the Adoption Fathers website if I could share this interview with you guys. Trust me, it's worth every minute of viewing so go grab a cup of joe, tea, or whatever your pleasure and listen in awe as Steve, a dad of 9 children (7 are adopted) shares his heart with you. I promise, you'll be touched.
Yesterday was "C"'s 11th birthday. We're pictured here together when he was still months old. Man, does time fly but it seems like yesterday that I was pregnant with him preparing to give birth. I clearly remember planning my own shower because I'm a control freak like that sometimes....yes, I admit it! As I think about how much life has changed for us and how much is happening in this adoption journey, there's so much that I want to rush but wait...I want to slow it down all at the same time. If I rush the adoption process, I'm also rushing the days that these little ones grow. God, please help me to remember that as fast as I want things to go, help me to slow down enough to truly relish every single day with this amazing little boy....because I do believe that one day, I'm going to look back and miss these days together.
Thank you to everyone for participating in our very first giveaway. Of course an extra special thank you to one of the hardest workin' mamas I know --Kristi J.-- for hosting our giveaway over at www.weloveourlucy.blogspot.com. (smile)
(I'm soooo sorry that I'm just posting but today is my son's birthday and I've been a busy mama myself running to school today for a birthday party, 2 basketball practices tonight, going to the ends of the earth (well the mall) to get a very special gift that my now 11 year old son has wanted pretty please with cherries on top. I also managed to mail out a couple of fundraiser orders! yipee!!!
All that to say you may already know that Kristi announced the winners this morning and I've pasted them below as shared by Kristi on her blog. Take it away Kristi....and the winners are....
1. Jill from http://www.rossfamilyadoption.blogspot.com/ Ok, so it is amazing HOW you think you are "blessing" someone else by giving them something FREE....BUT I was so blessed by going to this blog tonight and watching their VIDEO at the top of their adoption blog!! They have 4 adorable boys and are home with their Ethiopian baby girl now!! They just got home in Jan. and their video made me cry!! You gotta go check it out!! Congrats Ross family and thank you for blessing and inspiring ME tonight!!
2. http://www.teammarquis.blogspot.com/ This is a family adopting from Ethiopia currently!! They have three cutie kids already and are excited about becoming a family of 6!! They have a big heart and big dreams for their future child!! Such a sweet family...check them out! (oh, and i recently bought my 2 older girls their "Africa Peace Sign" tshirts in youth sizes!! I'll be sure to take a pic when they wear them this week.)
3. Meredith from http://www.meredith-brooks.blogspot.com/ This adorable girl has a HEART for Uganda!! She has returned recently from a Mission Trip to Uganda where she was soul searching...She has returned with the desire to open an adoption program to teach the world about adopting HIV/AIDS orphans!! Her heart was touched by an infant with HIV in Uganda...you can read all about it by visiting her blog!! Her story so reminded me of the t-shirt Michelle is selling: "I need Africa more than Africa needs me" SO TRUE!!!
Thanks Kristi for that announcement....
For those who did not win this time, trust me,I'll have another giveaway in the near future so be sure to come back here to visit. In the meantime, feel free to stop by our fundraiser site to purchase necklaces, t-shirts, and Blessings Unlimited items. Every sale benefits our adoption.
I'm also excited because I will begin very, very soon making custom pendants to include the USA, Russia, Korea, Uganda, and a few more. Those who have requested specific countries via e-mail already, I will let you know when they are available for purchase. Guatemala is now available for purchase.
I hope that you understand that right now, the Ethiopia pendants are created by me in bulk because they are what I sell the most. Right now, additional countries and other modifications to the pendants (i.e. minus two on the backs) are considered to be custom work and cost $25 plus shipping. I truly welcome custom orders and hope that other countries will become popular.
Thanks again for your generous hearts, words of encouragement, and supporting our adoption. I feel like I've gained so many friends in the past few days that have enriched my life and welcomed me into their journeys as well. I don't know...I'm kind of feelin' a Golden Girls moment....(smile)
Here's what I'll be watching over the weekend. Feel free to watch it also and come back to comment to share your thoughts....find out more about this epidemic below as shared by the writers of this story....
What Is Obstetric Fistula?
The World Health Organization has called fistula "the single most dramatic aftermath of neglected childbirth", estimating that more than 2 million women live with fistula worldwide. But, it fears even this number may be a gross underestimate. Short of death, the most devastating effect of neglected childbirth is obstetric fistula, a hole that forms between the vagina and the bladder or rectum during prolonged, obstructed labor. This horrific injury leaves victims incontinent. Some develop nerve damage in the feet and legs. The Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia has treated more than 32,000 women with obstetric Fistula. Learn more about obstetric fistula or the work of the Fistula Hospital.
What Happens to Women Afflicted with Obstetric Fistula?
If the misery of uncontrolled leaking of urine (and sometimes feces) isn't enough, these women and girls are ostracized and disdained by their families and communities. Without being cured, women with fistula commonly spend the remaining years of their lives in shame and isolation, literally waiting to die.
How Is Obstetric Fistula Treated?
Obstetric fistula is almost entirely preventable. Women in the affected regions worldwide must gain access to doctors and medical facilities that can intervene when complications occur. Those who do not have access during childbirth must have ways to seek treatment, which is usually a surgical procedure.
Who Is Most Vulnerable to Obstetric Fistula?
Eradicated in developed countries at the end of the 19th century when cesarean section became widely available, obstetric fistula still plagues women throughout the developing world, specifically in parts of Africa, India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nepal. It is estimated that there are 100,000 new cases each year, but the international capacity to treat obstetric fistula is limited to only 6,500 per year.
For every woman who dies from pregnancy-related complications, 20 women survive but experience terrible injuries and disabilities.
In Ethiopia, there are 59 OB/GYNs and 1,000 midwives for a population of 77 million.
One woman dies from pregnancy-related complications every minute worldwide; 95% of them live in Africa and Asia.
More than 99% of The Fistula Hospital patients are illiterate. (The hospital teaches all patients the Amharic Fideles and the Oromiyffa alphabets.)
Number of patients treated at the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital every year: 1,200
Number of obstetric fistula cases occurring in Ethiopia alone each year: 9,000
Number of new obstetric fistula cases resulting from childbirth occurring worldwide each year: 100,000
Number of new obstetric fistula cases resulting from childbirth occurring in the U.S. each year: 0
The year the last U.S. hospital treating fistula patients closed its doors: 1895.
Yesterday, families who are adopting from Ethiopia such as our family received some devastating news. Ethiopia's Federal Government made a decision to require families to now make TWO trips to Ethiopia during the adoption process instead of the one trip where you go just to pick-up your child and bring them home.
As shared with families yesterday, this is what the TWO trips will now look like:
"Beginning today, families need to be prepared to travel to Ethiopia approximately 4 - 8 weeks after receiving a referral in order to be present in Ethiopia for their appointed court date. Families will remain in Ethiopia for roughly 5-7 days and will then return to the United States. After officially passing court, families will then travel back to Ethiopia approximately 10 -12 weeks later to pick up their adopted child(ren)."
No one is exactly sure about the specifics on why the government would make this drastic change that would affect so many families and more importantly waiting children.
There are four major challenges with yesterday's ruling:
This will leave more orphans in this particular region. Many families will decide to NOT adopt from Ethiopia because of the three reasons I list in #2, #3, and #4.
Families will now incur a hefty financial expense in addition to the $25,000 that I've shared with you before. This will now mean that in addition to the $25K, families will now need to pay such as in our in total and on the low end approximately another $5,200 to complete the adoption process.
Families with children at home will need to make arrangements to leave their children twice for a week within a 3 1/2 months - 5 month period. WOW! That's a lot of time to leave our 9 and 11 year old with relatives while we're thousands of miles away! It will be hard on us and them. This will also mean that we will eat up our leave at work very easily resulting in less time for us to bond with our daughter before leaving her with a daycare provider.
It will be heart-wrenching for the adopting parents to leave their child behind in Africa after the first court visit. Imagine this...for almost a year, you are actively and aggressively going through the adoption process. You're pleading for papers to be signed by the U.S. government, saving money, holding fundraisers, and making sacrifices at home to take care of all of the costs associated with the adoption along with preparing your child's room and what they will need when they get home. (Trust me, I have learned that international adoption is not for the faint at heart.) Upon the issuance of the first court date in Ethiopia, you go to court and during your time there, we will meet our daughter for the VERY FIRST TIME. Can you imagine the excitement, tears, and joy? Days later, we must leave her behind in the orphanage while the courts hear her case to ensure that she is a true orphan. As we leave, it will be heart-wrenching to leave her behind knowing that it will be another two and half to three months before we see her again (and that's if all goes well within the court system). During that two and a half months, we'll continue to miss some of her firsts. We'll miss holding her again and looking in her eyes. What an ordeal to put parents and children through.
As irritating as all of this is and knowing that we are just in the beginning stage of this adoption, I still have joy. Why? Because none of this caught God by surprise. He knew this would happen before we signed our first contract agreeing to the adoption process. We are committed to the fight for our daughter.
So Satan, let it be know on this day that if you thought this would shake us, let it be know to you that it hasn't! If you thought it would break us, it hasn't! If you thought you would make us lose the fight for our daughter who will accomplish great things in God's kingdom, it hasn't! We said Yes to this journey no matter how tough it would get and we intend to see it all the way through to the finish line until God says "It is finished"! This journey is not about us, it's about Him. We said Yes and we meant it.
As you can probably tell by now, I love music. Here's a song that speaks of our commitment to God through this adoption. As you listen to the lyrics, think about what is God asking you to do in your life that needs a Yes to Him and His Will....something that will take you totally out of your comfort zone and cause you to rely on Him to complete.
Here are the lyrics....
Will your heart and soul say yes
Will your spirit still say yes
If I told you what I really need from thee
Would your heart and soul say yes
Soul just say...Yes
Open up your heart and tell the Lord Yes
Say yes, yeah yeah
Say I'll obey Jesus, I won't stray Jesus
But this time I've made up in my mind, I've made up in my mind I'll say, say say yes
My soul says yes, my mind says yes, my heart says yea, yea, yes I will Jesus,
I'll do what You want me to do
I'll say what You want me to say
I'll go, if You lead me, if You lead me, if You lead me, if You lead me, if you lead me I'll go oh oh
Lift your hands and tell the Lord yes
Come on open up your heart and say yes, yes, yes ALL God wants is yes, all God wants, all God wants, all God wants is yes, yes yes
I won't be afraid
I'll step out on Your Word
I'll declare Your glory
Yes I will, Yes I will My soul says yea yea yea yea yea yea ~
submit your way to His, tell Him yes tell the Lord yes
I wanna do Your will Jesus,
I wanna do Your will, I wanna do Your will
My soul says yes, yes, yes,yes yea yea yea yea yea yea~ My soul say yes jesus My soul says yes My soul says yes My soul says yes
He's sayin' there is more that I require of thee
There is more that I require
He's calling you higher
There is more that I require of thee (repeat) He said don't be afraid of men and their faces Don't be afraid, don't be afraid
There is more that I require of thee
A really good friend of mine, niki, over at Moms Like Me (DC), shared a great event with me that I attended yesterday. An organization called Empowerment Women International (EWI) hosted an Ethiopian-American baby shower for an Ethiopian couple. I learned a little more about Ethiopian customs and had an opportunity to just hang with a group of great people.
One of the major differences with Ethiopian 'showers' in comparison to American baby showers is that they are not held until AFTER the baby is born. At that time, family members and friends are invited over to bring gifts and eat something called porridge -- not the kind that you've probably tasted. The porridge that I experienced yesterday looked like applesauce but the texture was more like a gelatin. Personally, it wasn't my favorite dish but there were others that I really enjoyed.
The couple whom we brought gifts for Mekbib Gebertsadik and his wife, Meseret Desta are from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia's capital city and came to the DC area in 2001. They are amazing artists and are anticipating the arrival of their first child. Through working with EWI, they obtained business education to really get their art business off the ground. After googling them today, I found that they are well-known in the States and of course in their homeland. You can see additional work here: http://www.artmesk.com/mekbib1.swf
I've been wanting to try Ethiopian food because I'd like to prepare it from time-to-time for our daughter and family. The funny thing is that if you know me, then you know I am NOT a big risk taker when it comes to food. I was born eating southern food and never really experimented with lots of other cultural foods. As I said in an earlier blog post, this adoption journey is opening my life up to lots of firsts and pushing me out of my comfort zone for which I am grateful. In doing so, here's what I had on my plate yesterday:
Sambusa - crispy outside fried wrapper with an amazingly great filling
Injera - a bread used to eat your food...no forks please...yes, I cheated!
Chickpeas - liked it with the injera!
Lentils - yep, like it with the injera!
Cabbage - seasoning was great
Kale --this was seasoned differently than what we do at home and it was REALLY GOOD!!!
Porridge -- not my favorite thing to eat but it was great to at least try it.
Rice with raisins...this was really good also.
Well...see, I surprised myself with how much I actually liked! The funniest part was that I couldn't get the injera right! As I mentioned, the injera is used to pick-up your food. It has a spongy-like taste to it. It came rolled up, almost like a small roll of paper towels. I kept taking the roll of injera and would dip it into the chickpeas and lentils...well, this didn't pick up much food. Smiling and sitting next to me as I ate was a beautiful elderly Ethiopian woman who tried to tell me how to eat with the injera. This beautiful woman spoke very little English and was very soft-spoken. Well, finally, I think she had enough of trying to tell me and decided to show me. She took my injera roll, pulled a piece off an then told me to pick up the food...oh!!! Now, if you really know, then you'd know that normally I would TOTALLY FREAK OUT if someone touched something in my plate...but you know what, the crazy thing was that I was just so grateful for her trying to teach me. I ate my injera and then ate some more....the right way this time!
At the close of the event, there was a coffee ceremony; however, it wasn't the elaborate ceremony that I was expecting and hope to experience when we go over to Ethiopia to pick up our daughter. (Stay tuned because I'm really hoping that before that time, we'll be able to host one at a venue...you don't want to miss it! Ethiopian coffee is considered by many to be the BEST coffee.) Yesterday's coffee ceremony was just a demonstration of the pouring of the coffee and sharing it with the guests.
There was definitely plenty of laughter, sharing, eating, and dancing that I don't want to forget. To share my experience from yesterday, I captured a few photos and put it to a video. The man dancing is Mekbib. He and another Ethiopian guest decided to play a little by demonstrating a bit of Ethiopian dancing...it was fun. Meseret is sitting with Mekbib in the first photo. You'll see me holding my yummy plate. You'll also get an opportunity to see some of this couple's phenomenal art work. Enjoy!
Gotcha Day is a day celebrated by families of adopted children to recognize the day they received the child. The Gotcha Day is the day that the child was placed into the family's home for adoption, in other words, the day the family well....Gotcha!
Please know that I DO NOT like to travel. I mean, I really don't so when God put this in my heart, I was like you want me to go where....and the flight is how long? And the conditions are what...I can't drink the water, huh? I have to get how many shots before I travel??? Okay, God this is sooo out of my comfort zone but the crazy thing is that I can't think of anywhere else I'd rather be when I think about the children there and my daughter that will be there. I can't wait for that Gotcha Day!
To help you understand the excitement and emotion involved with Gotcha Day, I thought I'd share some past Ethiopian 'Gotcha Day' videos. There are videos that show older children as well being brought into their forever families. Turn up your volume as they all share great music to accompany the video and photos.....and just think, our family will one day be able to share the love of our daughter's Gotcha Day with you. Until then, take a peek into the lives of some of these families:
You may know that for a little time now, I've been adamantly opposed to others referring to our adoption as us saving our daughter. It's something that has gotten under my skin by very well-meaning family members and friends. Yesterday, I started thinking about it and started asking myself the question, "Why does that term bother me so much?"
As I began to think over it, I began to realize that it all comes from my childhood. Just before I turned 5, I was taken in and later 'adopted' into my family by my aunt and uncle after my mom died. (They are pictured here with "C" and "MJ".) I always worried about whether or not I would be good enough for my new parents. I wondered if they would love me the same as their biological children. The truth of the matter is that they did and they have. You would have never known that my aunt and my uncle who I still call mom and dad were not my biological parents. They never treated me any different. In fact, sometimes my siblings thought I was the favorite child. When I think about those years, I worried a lot about fitting into my new family no matter how much my 'new' parents tried to reassure me.
That brings us to our Ethiopian daughter. I guess I've been so hard on anybody using the terms saving or rescuing when referencing our daughter because I don't want her to ever overhear anything from well-meaning people who might refer to her as being orphaned, rescued, or saved. That term isn't used with regards to our two biological boys "C" or "MJ". I simply don't want her to ever feel in heart that she might be a charity case. Whether it's said or not, I believe when you don't live with your biological parents, you go through so much mentally and internally wondering why your parent(s) didn't fight hard for you. There's a lot of self-talk that goes on and sometimes a lot of feeling rejected even if those around you shower you with love. For many, many years into my early young adult life, I went through people-pleasing because of this insecurity as an adopted child. I'm not saying that all adopted children will go through any of this; it's just my story. Yet no matter how much I went through at the age of 5 and older, God is a complete healer. He is a restorer. I am amazed at what He has done in my life and who He has used to help me accomplish His purpose for my life. Who would have thought that a child who was once orphaned herself would become a mother to an orphan? So here I am, God. Take all that was meant to harm me and use it for Your glory.
The truth of the matter when I look at the facts is that my husband and I ARE taking her from a life that without the proper medical treatment, nutrition, and resources, statistics say she may not reach the age of 5, nevertheless make it into adulthood. It is our hope that as a family we will continue to sow into the lives of Ethiopian families even after her adoption. So if this is rescuing her, I am okay with it because it's not me doing the rescuing or saving. This is God's doing, His mission and He's the same One who has rescued and saved me time and time again.
Right about now, a trip to the post office is such a happy occasion for me. Why? It's because I've started mailing out our fundraiser items!!! Happy, happy, joy, joy! I can't wait for more orders because I really enjoy making the pendants and packaging up the t-shirts with the "C" and "MJ" who send a special hug in each package...it's really cute!
So I'm happy to say that t-shirt and necklace packages were sent out with love by the boys -- "C" and "MJ" on Saturday and are on their way to:
Fort Worth, TX
We were also blessed by a donation by a friend in Washington, DC!
...and from what I hear, there are a few more orders on the horizon that will be going out this week!
Drum roll, please.....(go ahead, tap your desk now...smile) So to date, with us saving as much as we can and our fundraiser that started last week, we've saved $2,075.50 towards our goal of $3,863 to start our home study and to get our fingerprinting and some of our clearances completed. We are thrilled because this means we are more than halfway there in starting our home study!!! (If you remember, we're breaking our total adoption cost of $25,000 into small bite-sized pieces so that we're not overwhelmed by what we need to save.)
Thanks so much everyone for your prayers, encouragement, and financial contributions! Keep spreading the word!
So who's in our household right now...well, there's my husband (Tony), CJ, and MJ...and we can't forget our little bundle in waiting! We are currently pursuing adopting a little girl from Ethiopia. In this blog, we'll chronicle our process and our 'waiting room' experience. So hang out in the waiting room with us. We'd love the company!