Monday, April 26, 2010

"My favorite book says we're all adopted."

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” Psalm 68:5 NIV

“Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.” Psalm 82:3 NIV

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:18 NIV

So, why does God care so much about the “orphan”? What makes orphans so special to Him? His care and concern for them are mentioned throughout the Bible. And over the last couple of months, He has been teaching me (constantly, it seems) about His heart for the orphan.

The first thing we have to acknowledge is that at one time we all were orphans – alone, lonely, unloved, hopeless, unprotected, and scared.
Contrast that reality to the reality of being adopted. Adopted children "belong" to someone; they are adored; they are special; they are chosen; they have been ransomed and given hope and a future of promise; they will receive an inheritance.

Our adoption t-shirts say, “My favorite book says we’re all adopted.” That doesn’t mean that we’re all automatically a part of the family of God. It means that “If you’re a part of God’s family, the only way you got here was by being adopted.”

Just as our family has chosen to go through the adoption process, God has chosen to adopt us. (His "process" was through Jesus.  Ephesians 1:4-6) The orphan cannot “make” anyone adopt him or her. Adoption has to be initiated by the one doing the adopting. You have to be “chosen” to be adopted. Children cannot adopt parents; parents must choose to adopt the children.

In the same way that the orphan cannot make the parent adopt them, the parent cannot make the orphan allow themselves to be adopted. It’s a mutual agreement. Each party must fulfill its own individual role in the process, and they cannot be switched.

What if we were to go to court in Ethiopia to adopt our children, and one of them were to say to us, “No, thanks. I don’t really want to be adopted by you. I understand you have good intentions and all, but I think I’d rather remain an orphan and just hope something better comes along”? There would be nothing we could do. No matter how much we want them, and no matter how much we love them and understand that their lives would be dramatically improved, it takes a desire from both parties to come to an agreement and to complete an adoption.

Honestly, I am sure that in some ways it will be a scary thing to our children to be adopted by us. The children we are requesting (ages 3-9) will be old enough to understand what is going on. They will have to leave forever everyone and everything they have ever known and go to live a new life with people they do not yet fully know. Surely they will wonder, “How can I be sure they will love me? What will my new life be like?” I imagine that they have grand dreams of a better life, but it will take a big leap into the unknown to get there.

Unlike them, however, we can see the other side of the situation and know that our adopted children will be completely adored by everyone in their crazy, new, big ol’ family. They may even get tired of all of the attention and doting that they receive from their slew of new relatives and church family. (I’m under no illusions that life will be perfect, but no matter what, those kiddos are going to be loved.) We know that they will have opportunities that they have never dreamed of and a quality of life they have never known.

Isn’t that just like what happens when we have the opportunity to join God’s family through adoption? We’ve been wanting something better. We have been dreaming about it and longing for it. And now the opportunity is available - because HE decided to make it available. It “sounds” just like what we’ve always wanted, but there is a certain comfort in the familiarity of our neediness. We’re afraid of adjusting to a new “normal” – an awesome normal, but new just the same. We say, “What if this…?”, “And what if that…?” We keep delaying and denying when we could be enjoying and rejoicing. We keep questioning and procrastinating when we could be praising and celebrating. We have to get to the point where we will accept His free invitation to join His family.

When we accept by faith God’s invitation to be adopted by Him (“as sons” because in that day and culture only sons received the inheritance - so I am perfectly fine with being called “a son”!), we are no longer orphans. We are no longer “alone, lonely, unloved, hopeless, unprotected, and scared”. We now "belong" to someone; we are adored; we are special; we are chosen; we have been ransomed and given hope and a future of promise; we will receive an inheritance. We are adopted!

That’s why God wants us to care for orphans as He does. Adoption is a living, vivid picture of what He has done for us.

“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.”
Ephesians 1:4-6 NLT

Thank You, Father!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Today's accomplishments...

1.  "Home Study" visits completed
2.  "Application Letter" written to Ethiopia's Ministry of Women and Children (the office which chooses children for us and gives us referrals) explaining why we wish to adopt from Ethiopia, telling about our family, describing the children we hope to adopt
3.  "Non-employment Letter" written (also to Ethiopia's Ministry of Women and Children) explaining my reasons for not working outside the home

Not that exciting
         ...except for the fact that IT'S DONE!  : )

Thursday, April 22, 2010

"Adoption Fund Night" fundraiser at Chick-fil-A was GREAT!

Tonight's Chick-fil-A fundraiser for our church's adoption fund was a tremendous success!  It was a ton of fun, and I believe it was also great in the monetary sense, as well.  (We'll find out in a few days what the exact total was....  Update- $567!) 
We would like to thank all of our friends who helped out in various capacities to make it a wonderful night.  We could NOT have done it without you!  THANK YOU!

And "thanks" to Lesa, Jennifer and the rest of the great Schillinger Rd. Chick-fil-A staff.  You're awesome!
(Below are just a FEW of the great friends we spent the evening with!)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

"Home Study" underway...

We had our first home study interview on Friday.  We have the others scheduled for next week.  The kids will be interviewed one day, and we parents will be interviewed another day.  The social worker will also look around our house to see if we have adequate space and if our home is "safe for children". (Gee, I sure hope it is, since we already have four living here!  But sometimes I do wonder if it's "safe for parents"!) 
And on top of school, all the other "regular" stuff and the home study interviews next week, we have soccer practice x2, piano, dance, 3 kids getting dental work done, a piano recital, soccer games x2, plus the Chick-fil-A night fundraiser.  B-u-s-y week ahead ... that just means that things are moving forward!   Yippee!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Woo hoo!!!

I just received a call from our social worker, and we now have an appointment for our first home study interview!  I was just thinking this morning that I REALLY wanted some adoption news to post on the blog, because I was getting a little desperate to find something interesting to post, e.g., last week's post of flower pics from the neighborhood.  It just felt like nothing was happening, and that was getting to be a wee bit frustrating.  So, finally, we are moving forward... 
Please continue to pray for the whole process as we get closer to bringing our children home...
Again, "Woo hoo!!!" 

Monday, April 12, 2010

Birthday thoughts...

I was just thinking about M’s 10th birthday. (TEN!)

…And that led me to thinking about our Ethiopian “blessings” – does anyone celebrate their birthdays?

Now, I will readily admit we don’t do big birthday celebrations in our family. We don’t spend months planning the huge party that costs hundreds of dollars. We don’t invite everyone we know to bring a pile of gifts so huge we need to rent a U-haul to get them all home. In our family you get a cake, a gift, and a little singing. Maybe you’ll even get to choose what we have for dinner on your birthday. It’s not fancy, but we make sure you know that you’re loved and that we’re thankful that you’re a part of our family (which is what birthday celebrations are really about, anyway).

What I want to know is if our beloved Ethiopian children have anyone to say to them, “This is a wonderful day that we celebrate because you’re special, we love you, and we’re glad you were born.” I wonder if anyone (besides God) even knows their birthdays. I will be so glad to get them home and celebrate their lives. I can’t wait to let them know how special they are and how happy we are that God has chosen them to be a part of our family. And I pray that in the mean time God will let them know in His own special way that they are special to Him and that He has an awesome plan for their lives.

Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

(Hey, M, what do you want for dinner? I love you!)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

$25,000 really isn't that much money... WHAT!?!?!

I've been reading lots of other people's blogs lately... LOTS. 
"The Road Less Travelled" has a great perspective on paying for adoptions. 

$25,000 sounds like a fortune, but if only 500 people would give a mere $50 each, the goal would be reached.  (Or $100 from 250 people.) $50 or $100 isn't really that much for a one-time gift to change the life of a child forever. (And when the donation is made through a church adoption fund, it's even tax deductible.)  I hadn't thought about it broken down that way before. 

Please pray for us and all aspects of our adoption journey.  Thanks!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Some pics from the neighborhood...

I've really enjoyed all the beautiful spring flowers on my morning walks in the neighborhood. Just thought I'd share a few...

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Want to help children but not ready or able to adopt? (There's still something great you can do!)

Gospel for Asia has an amazing child-sponsorship program. We began sponsoring 4 children with GFA’s Bridge of Hope program over 3 years ago. We chose each one to coordinate with each of our biological children’s birthdays. We have all of our children’s pictures hanging in our kitchen.
For only $28 per month, your child will receive: the opportunity to hear the Gospel, receive an education, nutrition, and medical care. You will receive an information packet with a photo card of your child along with your child’s photo and information and handwritten letters from your child.

Gospel for Asia sends 100% of all donations to the field. NONE of it is kept for administrative fees! ZERO!

There is no reason that nearly every American couldn’t find at least $28 per month in their budget to sponsor a child (or children!) somewhere in the world.

Find out more about the Bridge of Hope program here and more about Gospel for Asia at (And be doubly certain that you watch the “Endorsements” video on the Bridge of Hope page!  Also, while you’re on their site, don’t stop with just helping a child. Take a look around. There are many great opportunities for giving to some of the poorest in the world.)

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'” Matthew 25:40 NIV

* * * * * * * * *

More about our family's experiences with Gospel for Asia:

We have been participating with Gospel for Asia in sharing the gospel since 2004, and absolutely love everything we know about them. We feel completely confident in recommending their ministry to anyone. Our relationship with them began when our oldest was 8 years old. He wanted to go on a mission trip to Mexico with some men from our church. He was extremely disappointed that he couldn’t go and just could not understand why we were being so “unreasonable”! Even though he could not go on that trip, I felt that it was important for him to be able to do something, but there aren’t that many opportunities available for 8-year-olds.

Very soon, the Lord led us to the GFA web site, and we started reading the stories. His favorite was a story about a woman who had been going to someone else’s house to listen to the GFA gospel broadcasts. She really wanted to have her own radio so she could have people come to her home to listen to the gospel. She had no money, so she sold the door from her house to have enough money to purchase a radio. It wasn’t long before she was having dozens of people everyday come to her home to hear the gospel.

At that time, GFA had a program called “Max Missions”. Basically, instead of raising funds to go on a short-term mission trip, you could raise about the same amount of money to support a native missionary for an entire year. We helped Deke write letters to friends, family and church members. He raised over $2000! This supported a missionary for a year, plus he chose to purchase radio air time and a bicycle for a native missionary. Since he was only 8, and the youngest person to do a “Max Mission Trip”, Gospel for Asia featured him in their brochure. (Yes, that’s actually him in the picture below. Now he’s 6 feet tall, with size 13 feet and dark brown curly hair!)

We have thoroughly enjoyed our relationship with Gospel for Asia through the years, and we wholeheartedly recommend their ministry to anyone who seeks to impact the world for the kingdom of God.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Thought for the day...

"We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty."
Mother Teresa

Monday, April 5, 2010

"So... WHY Ethiopia?"

We've been asked that question a lot lately.  The short answer is that we felt God leading us there.  That's the truth and the only real reason we need.  

In all honesty, we didn't know much about the country or any specifics of the real need that exists there before we began this journey.  But since we began the adoption process in January, we have learned a lot about adoption, a lot about God's heart for the orphan, a lot about the "Biblical-ness" of adoption, and a lot about the country of Ethiopia. 

Here is a little of what we now know... 
What the statistics say:
~ One in ten children die before their first birthday
~ One in six children die before their fifth birthday
~ 44% of the population is under 15 years old
~ 60% of children in Ethiopia are stunted because of malnutrition
~ The median age in Ethiopia is 17.8 years old
~ 1.5 million people are infected with AIDS (6th highest in the world)
~ There are roughly 4.6 million orphans in Ethiopia
~ Per capita, Ethiopia receives less aid than any country in Africa
~ Half of the children in Ethiopia will never attend school
~ 88% will never attend secondary school
~ Coffee prices (Ethiopia's only major export) declined 40-60% from 1998-2002
~ Ethiopia's doctor to children ratio is 1 to 24,000
~ Severe drought struck country from 2000-2002 (first year no crops, second year no seeds, third year no animals)

What God's Word says:
Psalm 82:3-4
Defend the cause of the weak and the fatherless; Maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Deliver the weak and needy from the hand of the wicked.

Isaiah 1:17
Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.

Jeremiah 22:3
This is what the Lord says: Be fair-minded and just. Do what is right! Help those who have been robbed; rescue them from their oppressors. Quit your evil deeds! Do not mistreat foreigners, orphans, and widows. Stop murdering the innocent!

James 1:27
Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.

Deuteronomy 10:18
He ensures that orphans and widows receive justice. He shows love to the foreigners living among you and gives them food and clothing.

Psalm 10:18
[God] will bring justice to the orphans and the oppressed, so mere people can no longer terrify them.

Psalm 146:9
The Lord protects the foreigners among us. He cares for the orphans and widows, but he frustrates the plans of the wicked.

So... why NOT Ethiopia?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Luke 24

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them,
"Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!"
Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 'The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.' " Then they remembered his words.

Friday, April 2, 2010

"My friends, adoption is redemption. It's costly, exhausting, expensive, and outrageous. Buying back lives costs so much." (Derek Loux)

Thank You, Jesus, for giving Your life to buy "me" back...

Luke 23:32-56

Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, "He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One."

The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, "If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself."

There was a written notice above him, which read:

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: "Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!"

But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong."

Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."

Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."

It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last.

The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, "Surely this was a righteous man." When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea and he was waiting for the kingdom of God. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus' body. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.

The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Ethiopia "travel twice" rule REinstated...

March 10th - Ethiopia Federal Court change announced a change in policy that now required both prospective parents to travel to Ethiopia for the court date.

March 25th - Announcement that March 10th change has been put on hold.

April 1st - Change reinstated.  This change requires both prospective adoptive parents, who submit paperwork to court for an official court date after May 9th, to appear at court in person to testify to their desire and commitment to adopt their referred child(ren).

I'm glad we were still planning to go anyway...   And I'm glad God is never surprised by anything!

Nothing is impossible with God...

Even before we actually began the adoption process I dreamed of taking all four of our bio kids to Ethiopia to pick up our adopted children. To see the type of life their new brother and sister are coming from, to witness the poverty, to smell the smells, to see the level of need that will be all around them, to recognize that Jesus loves the whole world just as much as He loves them, and to ask, “Why me? Why do I have so much when others have so litttle?” and to add, “Thank You, God” when they begin to grasp the truth about the life of privilege they live every day would be a priceless turning point in their lives. Not only would it be helpful in the amount of compassion and understanding they would show toward their new siblings, but it would hopefully also carry over into the lives of those they are yet to meet (and, who knows, maybe they would even begin to show more “compassion and understanding” to one another!)

That’s been my "secret" dream…
but I have just dismissed it as an impossible whim. (I confess that I didn’t really pray about it, I just “thought” about it - and knew I didn’t have the power to make it happen).

Until now...
I am praying. God has the resources. I believe it is within His will for me to ask this. I believe it will be good for our family. However, this will mean approximately $10,000 - $12,000 more in travel expenses, because we will not only have to take our four, we will also need to take someone to be a “nanny” (or a "man-ny"!)during the times we will have to have meetings, etc. Just typing those numbers makes me a little doubtful, I must say. But I am going to confess, “I do believe. Help me overcome my unbelief.” (Mk. 9:24b)

I know God CAN do it. I guess my question is, “Is that what You want for us, Lord?” If it is what He wants, He will do it. If it isn’t what He wants, He won’t. And I am fine either way. I see “potential benefits”, but those are just my imaginings of what would be the outcome of the kids going with us. Only He knows what is best, so I am praying that He will make His desire clear and provide whatever is necessary whenever is necessary however is necessary.

We would love for you to join us in praying about this.  Thank you.