Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Little Something for Your Wednesday Afternoon...

Got 20 minutes???  Grab your lunch and sit down with these gems....
(click over to the full site if you're in a reader or mobile device!)

A Christmas Adoption Story via Ordinary Hero (5 minutes)

Now click here to watch I Like Adoption (6 minutes)

And finally...

To Ethiopia and Back (9 minutes)

You're welcome!!  Hope you had kleenex nearby!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Shop Amazon - Bring Our Girls Home!

Happy Tuesday everyone!!  It's been one week to the day that I've been carrying around pictures in my purse of two sweet, brown-faced girls and calling them my daughters....that seems like a perfectly good reason for a celebration!!

How 'bout celebrating my girls with me while you get ready to celebrate Jesus birth!  I have a suspicion that many of you just clicked over here from some shopping site you were on, trying to take advantage of the last few days that you don't have to pay an arm and a leg to have the friendly UPS man deliver your purchases!  Since you're shopping anyways.....check out our Amazon link!  I've stocked it with some of my favorite reads from over the last year....books that will feed and challenge the souls of your loved ones.  

Using this link, or the one on the upper left hand corner of the blog, to enter the Amazon site will set the Amazon elves in motion on behalf of our girls!  There won't be any fireworks or banners that announce that your purchase is an extra special one...but don't worry....Amazon know that you came through our link and will credit a percentage of your purchase to our adoption account.  Simple as that!  Purchases you were going to make anyways can do double duty celebrating both our girls and Christmas, just with one extra click!  And we all know Amazon's got everything on your list....probably cheaper too!

You've got 8 days left to get that coveted SUPER SAVER SHIPPING...after that you'll find yourself in the unsavory dilemma of trying to weigh the benefits of not having to drive the busy roads with the Christmas crazies against expensive 2 day shipping....or *gasp* overnight shipping! 

Thank you for celebrating with us.  I really can't say it enough.  The outpouring of excitement from all of you in your comments, facebook posts, emails and in-person hugs has been overwhelming and powerful.  You have fanned our excitement into a roaring fire that's helping calm the tide of sudden "to-do" lists and adoption paperwork.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.....

Thursday, December 6, 2012

We've Seen Their Faces!!

Ready to have your mind blown?   Have we got a referral story for you!  It's a like a book with a plot that sucks you in right from the start, leaving you gritty-eyed from endless "just-one-more-chapter" nights.  You mean to put the book down and sleep like a normal person...but then the last paragraph of each chapter makes your eyes go wide and steals all willpower except for the "page turning" kind.  One twist in the plot after another that you COULDN'T SEE COMING....twists that are the best satisfaction a plot could offer.  It's better than what you hoped was coming and leaves you amazed at the writer's craft.  Ever read a book like that?? I have.  I LOOOVE them.  The past few weeks have shown me that I SUPER LOOOOVE living that kind of plot!

A good story has to start at the beginning.....Once upon a time, God stirred our hearts in an undeniable way and called us to respond to His orphaned children by making a few of them Floridas.  We gulped, signed on the dotted line and wrote the first big check.  We laid our resources and limitations out on the table for our social worker and waited to see what she would make of it.  Where would what we had to offer meet the greatest need?  The answer....ETHIOPIA....another gulp, and step forward.  We asked about the plight of orphans, especially the neediest.  She said....OLDER CHILDREN and SPECIAL NEEDS.  We gulped.....and pondered.  We prayed and wondered.  We asked God to make us fearless in the face of His clear call.

Our homestudy was completed last summer and gave us permission to welcome two children younger than Ginger into our family.  Clear responsibilities with the initials R, T, I, C, E, and G made those parameters seem like the smart starting point.  Our names were put on the waiting list......and we waited.  We waited, wondered, churned and boiled, God kept moving His plan forward in our hearts, gently and deliberately.  I started to sense His winds blowing, stirring things up in my heart.  Quite freaked me out.  I found myself crying at every song that came on the radio as I drove from errand to errand and coming to a decision in the darkness of my garage,  unwilling to get out of the car until I was sure.  I had stumble upon a half done radio program about a lady who had done a crazy, crazy thing.  She told of knowing for sure that God was calling her to, against all reason, adopt a pair of African teenage boys even though she had a house full of preschoolers.  God's very clear call to her and her husband, trumped conventional wisdom.  I prayed there in my car that God would give me two things in whatever He was undeniably clear call.....and boldness of faith to follow.  I knew I was at a turning point, for what I wasn't sure yet.  With gulping breath I went to find Scott and warn him that things might be happening and I had already given God a "yes!"  I knew if I didn't come clean to him quickly, my knees would buckle and I might pretend I hadn't been in the middle of that wind.

I read somewhere along the way that 98% of people who are willing to adopt are open to a healthy baby....and only 2% of the orphan need is represented by healthy babies.  That hurt.  I looooove babies.  Scott looooves babies.  Adopting a baby made sense to us, it wasn't scary.  But the more my heart turned toward orphans, the more scared I was about missing our true calling.  We're not adopting because the Floridas need more babies.  Quite frankly, we've got enough for any reasonable person and if we felt the need for more it's just not that hard for us to make our own.  We said "yes" to adoption because we thought we might have something to offer to a desperate need.  We had been praying that God would help us see the greatest need that we were equipped to meet.....especially in a place where there may not be many other people willing or able to respond.  We've been longing to be numbered among the 2%....but freaked out by what that might mean.

I began doing a lot of research about Ethiopia in particular and sibling groups and special needs too.  I found the story of a family online who inspired and educated me.  I ready everything I could and was looking forward to sharing it all with Scott.  Instead, he came home and I was brought to my knees.  Scott walked in the door one day holding out a magazine that our Pastor had sent home for me because it had a section about adoption in it that he thought I would be interested in....  Are you ready for some goosebumps??  The feature article wasn't just about adoption, it was about Ethiopian adoption.  And it wasn't just about Ethiopian adoption, it was about a family who already had 6 kids adopting a sibling set, crazy right?   Goosebumps coming yet??    Scott walked in with the magazine and uninterrupted the article I was beginning to read online with this article about the very same family!!  

It seemed like the pieces were clearly falling into place and we felt ready to move forward.
The waiting continued, the wondering and dreaming of sweet little chubby brown cheeks and hands.  As we waited, I felt the siren call of a particular page on Bethany's adoptive family's website....the page called "Waiting Children."  These are the children that nobody's waiting for, there's no line of hopeful families imagining the call they will someday get telling them they've been matched with a little person.  These children are suffering through their own wait.  They're mostly older children...the only babies you see here will have very significant special needs.  They're children old enough to understand that when the social worker comes to take more pictures, it's really a try-out of sorts.  Those pictures are the sliver of hope that somebody out there somewhere will see something in their eyes or tilt of the chin that suddenly makes them wanted, and ends their wait.  I peruse the list of African  waiters regularly, wondering if one of them needs us and praying for the ones that remain week after week.  Every one of them grabs my heart, but there have been a couple of faces and paragraph biographies that have brought a catch to  my throat thinking I may be spotting some matches between their needs and our resources.  My family has heard countless of their stories read aloud to the family room....I read them and leave the stories hanging with a prayer that God will make it obvious to all of us if we've read about a Florida.  We've seen Him shine a brilliant green light into all of our hearts to tell us to GO for I bit my tongue and listened as valid reasons that the risks outweighed all else held sway.  There have been some discussions, even some questions asked of social workers and phone calls made....but never a bright green light from God.....until 4 weeks ago...

You're not going to believe what happened next.  There was a girl.  A girl I had read about since the beginning of the summer.  She didn't fit what we thought matched us at all, so I began praying for her and for her family to find her.  Three weeks ago the program updates we get from Bethany began to highlight her.  They wanted people to take special note of her needs and help them seek a family for her quickly because time was running out.  She lost both of her parents and was cared for by an older married sister. This girl was not able to be cared for by her family anymore and made her way to an orphanage.   Her time is running out though....she's 15 and on the verge of aging out of the adoption system in Ethiopia.  Her hope for a family  a future and life itself hinge on paperwork being filed by her April 23rd birthday.  My prayers for her started including a little bit of jealousy for the family that would get to rise to her need and be hers.  Reading her story aloud to Scott is when the very coherent thought first occurred to me that maybe, just to explore the very outside chance, we should ask ourselves, maybe, I mean it couldn't possibly work, but just to be sure, I don't know....there can't be any way that it could work, could it.....?????  Scott's response?  "I think we need to request her file."  That made sense to me.  I mean, of course, as soon as we read detailed information about her it would be clear, we would know that it didn't fit or make sense.  So, we got the file....medical reports....and lists of her favorite foods (Tibs - fried beef), favorite activities (jumping rope) and the story of a little girl who had a Mommy & Daddy who loved her...but then they got sick and her whole world fell apart.  Through our tears and thumping heart we started to wonder if she might be ours.

If the story ended there....that would be enough.  We would all stand in awe of a God who does amazing things and sends the the wind of His Spirit to meet the needs of His precious ones.  But goodness gracious, there's more!!  It only took a couple hours of imagining her as ours for us to start to wonder how we could ease the lonesomeness of being adopted internationally as a 15 year old all alone.  "Too bad she doesn't have a sister." Scott said with a sigh.  Which made me think.....I remembered....there was another girl on the waiting list...a girl who's going to be in the same danger of running out of time in less than a year.  I've been praying for her too.  I mentioned her to Scott and we wondered aloud if they could possibly be in the same orphanage and know each other.  Then my optimistic husband said, "We've got to get her file too."  Never mind the fact that 2 teenage girls is doubly ridiculous, never mind the rule our agency has about not allowing simultaneous non-sibling adoptions....."We need to get the file!" he says!  By the next morning the file was in my inbox.  Ever have the feeling that the next move you make will irreversibly set your course and change life as you know it....that you either walk away now or buckle up?  I snapped the seat belt and clicked "open."  The second file contained pictures of both girls playing and walking to school together!!  Did you see that one coming??!!  Isn't that the best twist to a plot ever??!!!  This girl has a similar story.  Haunted by the death of both of her parents, she was cared for by an aunt who taught her about Jesus until the money ran out and she moved in with Grandma.  Trouble and pressure came though, because Grandma is Muslim   This young girl took off on her own rather than give up Jesus....and eventually made her way into an orphanage.  It's as if these two friends came to our door, looking for a family and our decision was whether to invite them in....or send them off to keep looking. We couldn't NOT invite them in to explore the

We convened our counsel of trusted advisers and asked them to find the red flags that we must be missing in order to entertain such a crazy notion as adopting 2 teenage girls who barely speak English.  We wrestled with the balance of how faith and responsibility coexist a lot…we don’t want to be risky in this and call it faith, but we also don’t want to be faithless and call it responsibility.  Neither would point a finger to heaven and be obvious that it's all His Work.  Each counselor came back to us sensing the same rightness, the same evidence of the hand of God moving.  And believe me, we've talked ourselves hoarse through the "worst case scenarios" the "pros" and "cons".....the conversation always ends with their need matching up with the richness of God and our willingness to sit in the front row and watch what He's going to do for them.  Our children are enthusiastic, our families are enthusiastic and our adoption agency (after asking multitudes of question and requiring reams of reading from us) is enthusiastic enough to make an exception to the rule to make this happen. 

So, without further ado, I would like to proudly announce that I am pregnant for 2 teenage girls!  If you see me in person, ask me to pull out the pictures or drop by my kitchen and check out the front of the fridge!  They are due early spring and we're oh so thrilled that they will be Floridas soon!

I know you all are bursting with questions at this point.....but my fingers are worn out!  Message me your questions or leave them as comments and I'll try to answer them in another post!