Friday, February 27, 2009

New addiction

Okay, maybe "addiction" is too strong of a word. But we have a new "strongly compelling" way to spend time. If you want to try it, it's easy. Go to YouTube and search for "Ethiopian adoption." So many people have created fantastic videos of meeting and bringing their new children home. Go ahead...try to watch just one. And if you can watch just one with no problem, please post a comment to let us know. Then we'll know it's just us, and we'll call it a pregnancy craving!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Rummage Sale

We're going to try and do one fundraiser a month to be able to afford this adoption. We know God will provide, and that we don't need to worry about where the money will come from. At the same time, it's a work worthy of investing in, whether you're one of God's Kingdom-builders or not!
Here's the text from the poster I made for our 1st fundraiser:

Number of orphans in the world: 143 million
Number of orphans in Ethiopia alone: 6 million
Cost to adopt one Ethiopian orphan: $25,000
Bringing one orphan home to a forever family: Priceless

You can be part of bringing an orphan home!

Mark and Wendy M. are adopting a baby from Ethiopia,
and the first fundraiser is a rummage sale!

Donations of good rummage can be dropped off at the
MPCC parsonage (house by the old bus barn-previously Elde’s)
by March 14th.

Rummage sale will be at the MPCC
Saturday, March 21st, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Questions? Call the M.'s @ 288-5660.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Why Ethiopia?

S0 why Ethiopia? After choosing to adopt internationally, some pragmatics came into play:

1. Cost. Adoptions to Eastern Europe, Russia, China, and others can run anywhere from $40,000-$60,000. Adoptions from Africa generally run from $20,000-$30,000. If we were millionaires, hey, we'd go anywhere. But we're not, and have limited means of fundraising. So we decided to look into African adoptions.

2. Agency. We felt very strongly led to America World Adoption Association. It is a Christian agency that believes very strongly in placing orphans in families where they will have both earthly parents and will learn of their Heavenly Father. That resonated strongly with us. The African countries AWAA works with are Rwanda and Ethiopia. (For those who know Bob and Sarah O., this is the agency they used for all three of their adoptions).

3. Travel. Most countries require two or more trips to the country, with total time in country lasting from 3-6 weeks. With having three kids already, that just isn't feasible for us. African adoptions take generally just a week in country. Now that we can do!

Obviously, the Holy Spirit led us in all of these areas. As I've mentioned before, we took the longest to decide between Rwanda and Ethiopia. And when it came down to it, we went where we felt at peace with our decision!

Aren't there enough kids here who need a home?

One of our hardest decisions was whether to adopt domestically or internationally. We've heard compelling reasons for both types of adoption. We feel our heart-strings pulled by both. We know families who have adopted domestically. We know families who have adopted internationally. Who's right?

Those who are more supportive of domestic adoption urge that these kids are floating in the foster care system, some (many?)suffering from abuse, and all desperately missing the permanent connection of a forever family.

Those who are more supportive of international adoption simply point to the fact that if the children in orphanages are not adopted, they may simply die. Food, water, clothing, and shelter for the millions of orphans around the world are not "givens." Kids who "age out" of the orphanage will have lives on the streets, girls likely victims of sex trafficking.

This is by no means an attempt at a comprehensive view of the orphan crisis. I'm just starting to get my feet wet in this arena. I'm just sharing the bits that I've learned so far.

So who's right? Domestic or international?

The answer, we're convinced, is both. There is no wrong way to care for orphans other than to do nothing at all. No, not everyone is in a position to bring an orphan into their home. But you can help out a foster family. Financially support a family that is adopting. Send gifts to an orphanage. Pray. Whatever you do, do something.

"Pure and lasting religion before God our Father means that we must care for orphans..."
James 1:27

We just felt the Lord leading us to adopt internationally. We prayed and asked for His wisdom, we researched both domestic and international adoptions. We prayed some more, and we both felt at peace with choosing to adopt internationally.

It's Official!

We finally heard back from our adoption agency today that we have been accepted into their program and we are officially "in process!" I say finally as though we've been waiting weeks or months to be approved. We were told we'd hear back in 7-10 business days from submitting our application, and in actuality, it's been six. Days. It's completely beyond me how I'm going to make it through a year of waiting to see pictures of our baby.

I know that I may change my mind later in the process, when we're up to our ears in getting notarized paperwork together, but for now, it's really nice to be pregnant without being nauseous and exhausted. :) (Okay, so I'm exhausted anyway, I'm just not more exhausted).
It will definitely take getting used to this new stage...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

How did we get here?

I suppose that's a pretty legitimate question right now!
For about two years now, God has been planting & watering the seed of adoption in our hearts. It began simply with the movie Christmas Child, a bonus feature of which was a music video for Steven Curtis Chapman's song "When Love Takes You In." It left us with an impression that "maybe someday we'll look into adoption."
A week later, we were introduced to a couple who, coincidentally, had adopted five children (the fact of which had no bearing on why we were introduced).

A week after that, an email in our inbox with the subject "You are God's plan for the orphan." And on it has gone...for two years. But when Anna came along, it was placed more firmly in the someday category.
With our visit back east the past fall, we knew we would have a chance to visit with Joe and Marge's daughter Sarah. Sarah and her husband Bob have 6 kids...3 biological, 2 from China, and 1 that just came home in July from Ethiopia. Our upcoming visit served as a great prompt for us to talk further about "when" we though we would adopt.

Mark and I had both assumed that we would bring another child into our family when Anna was 2-3 yrs. old. The adoption process can take about two years. Hmmm... Anna is one and half. Looks like we needed to pray in earnest if this is what God would have us do now!
And pray we did, along with a lot of research on the internet, and asking a lot of questions. Our time with Sarah in PA, although short, was priceless in starting us out; she shared the scrapbooks she had made for each of her kids, and it made the whole daunting adoption process seem both real and manageable. Not easy, mind you, but manageable. :) And my friend Jen has been a constant support and sounding-board as we sought God's will for our family in this.
Then came November, which is Adoption Awareness Month. I received an email from Shaohannah's Hope about the resources they have available to raise awareness and show hope to orphans, and I ordered the package for church. It included a dvd of compelling videos and inspirational testimonies that challenge viewers to be an agent of change for God, taking part in his heart for orphans. Along with the DVD was a 30-day devotional "Seeds of Change," some "Show Hope" rubber bracelets, and a bucket for collecting change. For our church, we set the goal of raising $200 over the course of the month. We offered the bracelets to anyone who gave at least $10 (on the honor system, of course). :) And in four weeks time, our church raised $274 to give to Shaohannah's Hope. Isn't it something else the way God works? It was an amazing month that God used to change our perspective and our hearts, both corporately as a church and for Mark and I as a family.
But that was the final nudge from God...we both knew it was time. We researched various adoption agencies online, sent for information packets, and started praying for wisdom in knowing from which country to adopt.

Then we were in the whirlwind of moving, so we set a date of Feb. 1st to have made our final decision between the two countries we had already narrowed it down to, Rwanda or Ethiopia. But there was still so much stuff going on with church and settling in that Mark didn't feel that he had yet sought God completely about which country. So we decided that on Valentine's Day, we would go out on a date, take our info packet with us, and really talk about where we felt God was leading us.
We both feel very definitively, for no real explainable reason, that our daughter will be in Ethiopia, and having settled the matter, we submitted our application to the agency the next day!

A Single Step

Our "journey of a thousand miles" has begun!

Our application to America World Adoption Association has been submitted, along with our family photo, application fee, and our letter of request for their assistance in adopting a baby girl, aged 0-6 months, from Ethiopia!