Thursday, March 26, 2009

Ages, stages, & statistics

Just the other day, someone asked me how many children are adopted from Ethiopia each year. And I didn't know, but also became intensely curious to find out. Here's what I discovered:

If you click on the graph, it will open larger in a new window. But what it boils down to is that adoptions from Ethiopia to the US have been increasing steadily, and for 2008 the total number of adoptions was 1724. (Source: US Dept of State).

I've heard estimates on the number of orphans in Ethiopia to be anywhere from 4.8 million to 6 million. With that many zeros, I'm not sure a 1.2 difference makes all that much difference!

If 10% of Ethiopian orphans were adopted (going on a 5 million orphan estimate), then 500,000 orphans would no longer be family-less. I'm sure you can do the math, too (probably faster and better than I can!), but it really hits home for me to break it down. 5% of orphans finding a home would 250,000 fewer orphans. A measly 1% of children being adopted would mean 50,000 new families for these kids! Instead, .04% of all Ethiopian orphans are being adopted. Forgive me if my math is wrong. But wow. And with the estimate of a new orphan being created every 18 seconds...we're not doing very well at keeping up or with helping to prevent them from becoming orphans in the first place.

Statistically, only 9% of the children internationally adopted by Americans
in 2007 were adopted from Africa. 71% of the 9% were adopted from Ethiopia. Looking at the Office of Immigration Statistics over a 12 year period for Ethiopia adoption... On average an equal number of boys and girls are adopted from this country. About 60% of children are 4 years or younger. 40% are 5 years or older. (Quoted from here).

I do occasionally sense an undercurrent of criticism for adopting an infant, when there are so many older kids who simply have no hope of ever being adopted. Older than age 5, and their chances plummet. And even though I know that within our personal family situation of having 3 young children already, we wouldn't have the time or emotional resources to support an older adoptee, I still feel a twinge when I hear "Oh everyone just wants the babies."

I'm thrilled when I hear of an older child getting a chance at a family. It's a beautiful, albeit difficult, process. I am thankful that there are families out there that have the capability of taking on an older adoptee.

But after looking at the statistics of the percentage of orphans from Ethiopia being adopted in the first place, all .04% of them, I feel the guilty twinge unwrinkle. Because if everyone adopted an older child, there would simply be another baby growing older to take its place. By adopting an infant, we are adopting an older child...before they get there.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I cleaned the clutter off the microwave last night. I found $4.

(Thanks though, Eric, for the thought to check Mark's jean pockets...) :)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Rummage Sale results!

The rummage sale yesterday was incredible in a lot of ways. Before I go into details, first here's some pics, neither very good nor plentiful, of the team that came to help us on the 15th. The team was from Mississippi, and had willing hearts and hands! What a blessing to have so much help getting set up, not to mention those from our church who stuck around to help, too.

We were equally blessed by the outpouring of love and support from our family and friends for this endeavor. Family and friends from town and church donated rummage. My mom and Rebecca came down for the day to stay with the kids, which freed Mark and I up to do whatever was needed...thank you, thank you!

Mona and Rose spent the entire day at the church, helping with customers and doing more sorting and such, and Grandma Lee (pictured below) stayed at the checkout table for us. Mark stayed in the basement of our house handling furniture sales (clever man that he is, he thought to offer delivery for a $10 fee...and it was a great thought for us and for the folks that came in small cars to buy beds)!

I said that the sale was incredible in a lot of of which is how very few customers we seemed to have. To all of us, it just seemed like a 'slow day' at the sale. Which is surprising, because we did a lot of advertising and the weather was gorgeous...a perfect day to have spring fever and go garage sale-ing. The pic below is of us packing up all the stuff to go into the church attic to have another sale later this year, during the summer. There was a lot of stuff left, and we were so grateful to have a lot of help packing it all out! So many helpers from our church family joined Mona, Rose and I at the church...Chad and Kindra, their friend Tad (who pitched right in despite never meeting us before), Dakota, Asian, Tommy, and even Andrew was a little worker bee.
There's still some more sale money floating in from church members and family that bought items but didn't have the money yesterday, but that's part of what makes the results even more miraculous. This coming week, to file our I-600A, we need a total of $830 (the $670 filing fee plus the $160 for fingerprints). Next week we'll need $175 to start our required online adoption class and as soon as we finish our home study packet we'll need another $800, etc, etc, etc.

But for just this week, we need $830. For being such a 'slow sale day', our total was $826. Our God is faithful...

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Rummage Prayers, please!

Today is the day of our first fundraiser, and I have a certain amount of nervous anticipation about it. Seems kind of silly to be excited about a bunch of rummage, but what can I say?

I will post pics later this weekend of the set-up crew that came this past weekend. Wow-what a blessing! Our friend Scott is a missions coordinator, and he had contacted us a while back to see if we had any work for a team on Mar. 15th.

What a huge help! They had the our basement unloaded and the church filled with all manner of stuff, all organized on shelves...and all in about 3 hours. We ended up with so much stuff that we're actually keeping the furniture in the basement, and advertised that there was so much stuff, we need two locations. Praise the Lord!

So I just wanted to ask all of you to please pray that we get lots of traffic today, that tons of people turn out, that the rummage gets gone, and that hearts are generous in their offers! Thanks!

Paperwork Begins!

We've started this paper chase rather slowly...not quite sure why or how it's worked out that way. But I started prepping our I-600A (Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition). Filing the application, along with copies of our birth certificates and our marriage certifcate, $670, an appt. at the immigration office in Anchorage for our fingerprintsfro both of us and $160, and we can cross that one off the list! Am I forgetting anything for that one piece of paper? :}

And we've started the home study process! Our information packet is in the mail, and when we return our portion (more fingerprints...they can't share), FBI clearance, a health report on each of us (also will be needed for our dossier...they can share), and a written autobiography from each of us, and we'll be ready for visits from a home study preparer! (That, and $1450 plus travel from Anchorage to be ready).

We're starting to get just a glimpse of why adoptions are purely miraculous workings of God!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Mustard Seed Growing

Last week, Mark and I were really struggling in prayer on how to best handle the first installment of the program fee. Basically, the entire process hinges on getting in that first payment of $1125.

We are hoping to apply for and receive grants from more than one source, but you can't apply till you at least have your home study complete or even your dossier, neither of which can be completed, let alone started, without your first program fee.

So, we were praying on it. We have a *small* emergency fund. A little more than enough to keep Murphy away (you'll know what I mean if you listen to Dave Ramsey), but not enough to hold us for long should Mark lose his employment. So we were really torn...we had the $1125 in the bank, but what good was it to start this whole process and not be able to finish because we had a medical emergency or a car accident, etc, with no way to handle it financially? I hope you can see both our dilemma and our hearts in this whole's not easy being totally transparent!

We are just earnestly striving to be good stewards of all we have and are given. So we were in dilemma and earnest prayer about what to do. Last Monday night, we finally came to the decision to go ahead and just pay the $1125 out of our emergency fund instead of waiting for the rummage sale fundraiser that will be this coming weekend...because the expenses are just going to keep on coming anyway!

On Tuesday morning I opened my email, and saw a new email that sent me to tears. Some friends of ours recently received an unexpected bonus, and they wanted to share it with us as a show of support for this adoption. And exactly a week later, a $500 check arrived from them.

Isn't that so like God? He gives us just enough light for the step we're on. Step out in faith on Monday night, by Tuesday morning He reveals just how He's carrying you up to the next step. Praise Him with us today, would you? He's more than worth it!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Did you know?

The Bible talks about orphans and adoption over 40 times. Why don't we talk about them more often?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Video: "Closer Look at Ethiopian Adoption"

Thought you might enjoy this one...

Friday, March 6, 2009


The feedback from my last post has been overall pretty helpful in gaining perspective...I welcome more! I do want to clarify that by no means are we walking around here in the doldrums or dreading this experience. On the contrary, we're savoring it, full of hope and excitement (and a good deal of frustration that we don't yet have the funds in place to complete the next step)...we want to get on with it, already! We're all feeling was so cute just yesterday; Andrew was sitting at the table working on his math, and he was (not uncharacteristically) daydreaming.

A: "Mom, I just can't wait till we get baby Karis."
Me: "Neither can I! What makes you most excited?"
A: "I just want to see what she looks like and to help take care of her."

Me: "Well, it will be a long while till she comes home."
A: "You still have a lot of paperwork to do, right?"

Too true!

My "Weighty" post was more of an effort on my part to get my mind around where my heart already is...and if you're reading this blog, I apologize that some parts are such a rough ride! Have you ever heard the quote, "To have a child is to forever have your heart wandering outside of your body"? I may not be quoting it exactly, but you get the jist. I'm sure we all have witnessed a heartbreaking moment of pain that our children have had to endure, despite our best efforts to protect them. But as my sister reminded me, adopted or not, another skin color or not, each of our kids will experience pain that we can't protect them from, and they will be resilient and it will make them stronger people. And a friend of mine who has one daughter (from an unnamed country so as to protect her privacy since I didn't yet ask her permission to post this) :) and is in the process of adopting again says, "it's been my experience that there are very few truly rude and stupid people or comments." She also reminded me that the stories you hear are the "worst case" scenarios of prejudice or lack of bonding or identity issues or, or, or...and that the chances of even one "worst case" happening to us was highly unlikely, let alone all of them!

When it comes down to it, there are many aspects of adoption that can be scary, which is fine as long as the fear turns into dependence on God so that you aren't scared away. Like I've said before, just because something is hard doesn't mean that it's not right...and it will all be worth it when we finally hold our baby girl in our arms.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


This whole adoption process, young as it may be, brings up a host of weighty matters. And I have debated with myself whether to post about them here, because frankly, it's not all "puppies and sunshine." And because blogging hard stuff leaves you vulnerable to anyone who cares to chime in, whether to agree or disagree, to support or condemn. And because generally, blogging about something means you understand what you're writing about.

But it's quite the opposite here. I'm writing to learn to understand.

I read a lot of Ethiopian adoption blogs. And these are matters that very few seem willing to address. Race, culture, prejudice, self-identity. None of it is surface stuff, easily wrapped up in a nice little package. And maybe these aren't addressed for all the reasons I fear to do so myself. And someday, my children will read these will it affect them? So I tread lightly, but I want to be real, and I want to gain perspectives that I don't have...if for no other reason than it will make me a better mother to my Ethiopian daughter. And God is bringing around us people to educate and encourage us. For that I am thankful.

For us, a child is a child is a child. We want a daughter, and somewhere in Ethiopia is a daughter who needs a family. Perfect, right? Yes, if we lived in a vacuum. If only it were so easy. At first, I assumed that our daughter would face prejudice being one of few African Americans in a primarily white world, at least where we live. But I'm learning that it could be prejudice against us for being "superior whites" who think that an African baby would be better off with us. And even in those statements, I have doubts that I'm the right person for this job, because I don't know even the "politically correct" terms. African American? Is that pc? Or is "black" preferable, or "Black?" Ethiopian American? And does what you say vary by region? And does it matter at all, and if so, why? You would think that a person in the process of adopting from Africa would have answers to these questions. But I don't, and that scares me. Scares me to tears.

Self-identity, from I've been reading, is a big deal for kids who have been adopted. Why isn't there anyone else who looks like me? Why am I different? Does that make me less valuable? Add those questions to the "Didn't my mother love me enough to keep me?" questions, and you've got some deep troubled waters flooding your child's heart.

We're just at the very tippiest point of the tip of the iceberg here, but I have a lot of fears. For our daughter, for ourselves...that we handle all of this rightly. Our family will never be the same, but that is not where our fears and doubts lay. That's where our hope is.

"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God." 2 Corinthians 5:17-20

I know the reconciliation Paul is writing about is reconciliation to God through the forgiveness of our sins through the blood of Christ. I know that. But it speaks to me of new things to come from being an ambassador of reconciliation, and I think that can apply broadly to race and culture. Make us new, forging a path between cultures for the love of Christ to follow.

I know there are some who would say it's not worth the effort, that this is too hard...leave the work to others who "know" more, who are more qualified to handle this stuff. There are those who would say it's not healthy for kids to go through a transracial adoption. No matter which way you slice it or what your perspective is, bringing a child of a different race, any race, will be hard.
But just because it's hard doesn't mean it's not right.
And that's what we need to remind ourselves of...
"Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death..." (Jeremiah 21:8).
For our daughter, and thousands and millions of other orphans, we must choose life over difficulty. Life over convenience. Life over prejudice. We choose to be a blessing for life.

It's my prayer that this post isn't offensive, and that with it you can see our heart in all of it. And if you have valuable perspective or experience, please share...either by email or comment here. Thanks...and blessings.

Monday, March 2, 2009


It's very strange to me how seemingly insignificant details become a big deal in this process!

One encouraging step is that we've rec'd by email the initial paperwork packet to get started with from our intake coordinator. Sign some forms, start an online class, and pay our initial program fee of $1125, and we'll be assigned a family coordinator to start our dossier and home study process!

Another encouraging bit is that we qualified for AWAA's Pastor Discount, which saves us 25% on program fees...rough estimate of almost $1500!

Sunday, March 1, 2009