Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Destination Change...Sort Of

I’m so privileged to get guest post twice in a row!  Here’s the deal though.  Unlike my personal blog,, I get to edit myself, any way I want!  I can have as many run on sentences as I want!  Though it drives my mom crazy, being an English teacher and all, I love a good run-on no comma sentences because I want my readers to try to get it all out in one breathe and I’m hoping you can’t by the end because it gives it emphasis!  (Kind of like the one you just read). 

There are other perks about writing and editing your own blog.  One of those perks is I can pick any adjective I want to describe my subjects.  Now, I’m just learning the rules of guest posting, but from what I understand from my lovely bride who manages this blog is, she gets to proof read my post before posting and has the authority to correct run-on sentences as she sees fit AND she get to interject her own adjectives into my work.  NOW NOW, we got’st to talk about this!  Because what I found out later after having skimmed my post from last week that apparently I used the adjective “precious”.  I have nothing against the word precious but I’m just not a “precious” kind of guy.  That is not a word I throw around often even in my most softhearted moments.  My wife is a “precious” kind of gal and last week while proofing my post she sensed a “precious moment” and invoked her editor’s rights and by inserting the word where she felt I meant to put it.

I want to go on the record now and say, if you see the word “precious” in the following post it did not come from me.  Again, I don’t have anything against precious, it’s just not who I am.

Any of you who follow this blog or Christy or myself on Facebook recently saw where we asked for prayers for the situation in Ethiopia.  We asked and still ask that you continue to pray for the country, the government officials making decisions, the adoptive families in limbo and children that desperately need parents.

I always find it funny how God chooses to speak to us.  While we were praying about this time of transition in Ethiopia, Christy and I decided we should at least explore what our Plan B would be if for some reason they shut the program down in Ethiopia.  After all we are at the very beginning stages of this process.  So as we prayed we continued to feel strongly that our heart was no doubt in Africa.  Problem is when we look at other Africa options through our agency the only other program was Ghana, which is a pilot program.  Pilot meaning they are just recently opening up to adoption and our agency is just beginning the steps of adopting out of this country.  As they say in the description, they are looking for families with a “pioneering spirit”. 

Pioneering spirit, huh, what does that mean?  It means that the first families in and the agency will be learning together.  Like they’ll only take 5 or so families, cut it off there, then go completely through the process with those families as an educational experience before opening up to others.  Call them guinea pigs if you will.  In countries like Ethiopia the agencies, for the most part, know what to expect with the waiting and required paperwork because they’ve done it over and over again – FOR THE MOST PART.  In a pilot program, well, no body is sure of anything until they all jump in together and get their feet wet.  Pioneers if you will!

I wasn’t so sure about all this, that’s kind of hard to sell to someone so new to the whole adoption thing anyway so I almost didn’t make the first phone call to even inquire, but something told me I should.  I was about 30 minutes into our 1-hour conversation with Jynger, the Ghana director for our agency, when I knew this is where we should be.  I actually tried to fight off my giddiness (yes, this is one of my words) because I knew Christy would never go for this.

I heard Jynger tell stories of the rural orphanages she had visited, each with no less than about 80 kids.  Rural as in, no running water, bamboo walls, cooking over open fire rural.   She explained that adoption was not new Ghana in larger more densely populated areas but that in the rural areas it’s been unheard of.  The rural orphanages of Ghana are set up, as basically as places for orphaned kids to stay until they are 18, then they are out on their own.  That’s where our adoption agency comes in.  They’ve been tasked to build relationships with the rural orphanages and to start educating them on the importance of adoption and what it can do for the children.  To go into the rural orphanages and offer hope to children who’ve never had it before.

Much like Ethiopia I heard her stories of children orphaned by poverty, death of parents due to HIV & AIDS and other from sheer abandonment for one reason or another.  In Ghana if a mother abandons her child then decides she wants to reclaim the child she can be imprisoned.  So once a child is abandoned the hope of being reunited with their parents is slim to none.   

I was captivated by her story of going to an orphanage where many of the children had not seen a white woman before.  As she sat under a tree talking to the director she looked around to see that about 50 kids had snuck up on them and were hiding nearby to get a peak of her.  The orphanage director motioned them to come near and they did.  They were all over her; hugging, kissing, pulling, climbing!!  They couldn’t get enough.  She said every orphanage was this way.  Full of kids with an unquenchable love for outsiders and people in general!  She said she had never been to a more welcoming country.

In Ghana many of the adoptable kids will be toddler age and older because in their culture villages take in most of the orphaned babies.  Unlike Ethiopia though, there are no transition homes where kids are able to be given more one on one care as they are being prepped for adoption once they are found to adoptable.  The children of Ghana will come straight from the orphanage.

All this and more Jynger shared with me in our hour talk.

Christy and I met for supper that night and the discussion started – but it didn’t end until the wee hours of the next morning because we had found video online that had come out of one the orphanages our agency is working through.

It was when Christy saw a clip of toddlers sleeping on rugs on the dirt floors of their bamboo walled tin roofed classroom while the older kids were being taught English, that Christy looked at me and said, “This is where we need to be.”  “This is where our daughter is.”  I immediately agreed.

Are we pioneering spirits?  I guess!  How heck do we know the difference between this adoption and any other since this is our first anyway??

So, Ghana, here we come!!!

Again friends and family we need your prayers.

We need your prayers as a family embarking not just on a new experience for us, but also for those who are guiding us.  Pray that our pioneering spirit will not burn out but through trials our marriage and family will continue to draw closer.

We need you to pray for the orphanages, the kids and the directors.  That there will be an understanding of the importance of adoption and the hope it can offer these precious children.  Pray that the daughter God has chosen for us and children for the families after us will have a strong desire to want parents, to desire parents of a different race, and to desire parents from a different part of the world.

Thank you friends, thank you family!  We CANNOT make it on through this journey without you!

Note: Any of you who may adopt in the future.  Don’t put the name of the country in your blog address; you might be called to a different country in the process.  Just a suggestion, after all I’m just a precious little guest poster on this site.


Monday, March 28, 2011


The time has finally come...we are mailing off our application one for the adoption.  These precious documents have been prayed over, cried over, and now they are ready to be mailed!  We are so excited! God we are ready for you to take us on a faith journey!!!

Look what else came in....we have piles of t-shirts, in our bedroom!  Hopefully, we will  be able to get them all ready to be distributed this week!  Thank you to everyone who bought a shirt...we are so grateful!!!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Want To Play Adoption?

I guess you would call this a guest post.  I know it’s our family’s adoption blog but Christy has put all the work into this thing so for me to try to take any credit...wouldn’t be right.  But I did ask her this week if I could post after a conversation I overheard our boys having.

Now, you have to remember our boys are TOTALLY opposite.  Winston is the warmhearted, loving, emotional, caring child who’s already grooming himself to either be a movie star or a preacher…go figure that.  Then there’s Wyatt…ball playing, ninja, army, sniper, cowboy or whatever is on TV that we have wardrobe for, as long as, it’s tough.

So you can image my surprise when I walked through the kitchen and heard Wyatt say to his big brother, “Come on Winston, let’s play adoption again!”


Usually, I hear Wyatt get mad at Winston because Winston won’t let Wyatt tie him up like a calf or use him for target practice.  NEVER would I think I’d hear him say, “let’s play adoption again.”

Not really sure how they play or what goes into it other than I’ve seen their homemade adoption certificates, everyone gets approved in a matter of minute, and the best I can tell is the child may even get delivered to your home!  Wow, wish we could use Winston and Wyatt Adoption International!

I’ll admit we are VERY early on in our adoption but in my small world; my heart and mind has changed in so many ways…that the only way you can explain how our gritty 6 year old football, army, ninja, cowboy starts playing the pretend adoption game is that his heart has changed too.

What is it about adoption that softens your heart and opens your mind?

Maybe watching a video of another couples adoption journey and seeing the gates of the orphanage open, as they go meet their child.   Then witnessing vans carrying the adopting families not being able to get out of the van because there as so many kids standing in the drive cheering!  These precious cheering children believe that either their parents are on that van coming back for them or today is their day to be “chosen”.  Then to observe a little 2 year old lead one father by the hand from the van to where they can wait because he has seen this so many times before, yet hasn’t been adopted…. does something to your heart.

What is it about adoption that softens your heart and opens your mind?

Getting to see three kids from Uganda in their new home standing around a toilet and cheering every time it flushes like someone just nailed a last second three point to make to the Final Four!

What is it about adoption that softens your heart and opens your mind?

Getting to see a mom holding her new baby right in front of you and saying through her tears, “We didn’t have the money to do this but God spoke to our hearts and we jumped out in faith and He provided and we have our little girl! And we will go back again!”

What is it about adoption that softens your heart and opens your mind?

Knowing there are 147 millions kids just like the one’s blocking the gates and God has chosen me and blessed me with the means to reduce that by at least one. (Yes I said AT LEAST one…that’s how he been He’s been working on me.)

What is it about adoption that softens your heart and opens your mind?

Hearing a friend put it into full perspective like I’ve never heard before “Because we are here on this earth means we are all part of an equation, there is no getting out of that.  In the equation there is us on one side and fatherless children on the other.  What we have to answer is what are we going to do about it?”

That is just a taste of how the adoption process softens your heart and opens your mind!

I thought it fitting to close this post out with a few lines from the song Hosanna

Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like you have loved me
Break my heart from what breaks yours
Everything I am for your kingdoms cause

And again this verse cuts me deep…

“…once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act.” ~Proverbs 24:12

Waiting Patiently,

Thursday, March 17, 2011


We are so thrilled to present a new bracelet in our fundraising efforts.  It is a GRATITUDES bracelet.  On this adoption journey, God has opened our eyes to see daily the things for which we are grateful.  It has been an experience like no other.  Here in America we tend to lose sight of the true meaning of life and the blessings that surround us.  Being grateful is the memory of the heart…and we need to take time daily to stop our busyness and recognize the people and things that we are thankful for….our blessings.  With the GRATITUDES bracelet you use each bead to count the 10 things you are grateful for everyday!  I wear mine each day…and am reminded to stop and be thankful!  When you purchase this bracelet all the proceeds go towards bringing our baby girl home…and for her we are so thankful!!!  You can buy this bracelet through our paypal store on the right side of our blog or they can be purchased at The Brown Box.
Each Bracelet is $12...They also make great gifts!!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ethiopia News

I have had a lot of questions about what is going on with our adoption process since the whole Ethiopia News broke...and all I can say is we are waiting and praying.  Lots of meetings are taking place this week in Ethiopia.   There is speculation that MOWA will be reconsidering their policy to allow for 20 cases to be processed each day through their office instead of 5 cases as initially proposed.  We are just praying that this will be the case…and children will be placed with their forever families.  We believe that God is the Great Provider and He will provide for His beautiful children.  Please keep lifting them up in prayer. When we get any offical news we will pass it on to you!!!  Love you!!!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Hebrews 13:5-6

This was officially posted on the US Department of States Intercountry Adoption Website.

 (Below is taken from the US Department Of States Intercountry Adoption Website)Ethiopia Adoption Alert

Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues

Government of Ethiopia Plans Major Slow-Down in Adoption Processing
March 9, 2011

Citing the need to work on quality and focus on more important strategic issues, the Government of Ethiopia’s Ministry of Women, Children, and Youth Affairs (MOWCYA) will reduce to a maximum of five the number of adoption cases it processes per day, effective March 10, 2011. Under Ethiopian adoption procedures, MOWCYA approves every match between prospective adoptive parents and an Ethiopian child before that case can be forwarded for a court hearing. The U.S. Embassy is working with Ethiopian government officials and adoption agencies to learn more about this change in procedures. We will continue to share information as it becomes available.

Given MOWCYA's current caseload, the U.S. Embassy anticipates that this change could result in an overall decline in case processing of some 90 percent. If this change is implemented as proposed, we expect, that parents who have begun the process of adopting from Ethiopia but have not yet been matched with a child could experience significant delays. It is not clear if this change in procedures would have any significant impact on cases in which MOWCYA has already approved matches.
The Lord this morning has just put this scripture on my heart...Hebrews 13:5-6 which says
5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,    “Never will I leave you;    never will I forsake you.”  6 So we say with confidence,    “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.    What can mere mortals do to me?”
In a country where most live on less then $1 a day...I know that God will not leave or forsake them.  They are His precious children...He will reign!!! 

Please, keep praying for the children...right now their are many advocates, agencies, government officials over in Ethiopia trying to get this situation worked out...keep praying...God is faithful!!!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Need Your Help...Please!!!

Today I received this email from an agency.  This information broke Friday and we have just been praying that God's will be done!!  Please read the email below and if you feel led...we would appreciate your signature on the petition. 

Help Us Advocate For Ethiopian Orphans

An Important Update

The Ethiopian Ministry of Women's Affairs (MOWA) has announced a proposal to decrease the number of adoptions they will process and approve—even by as much as 90%. They are planning to accomplish this decrease by limiting the number of approved cases to only 5 per working day. This change is currently set to begin on March 10, 2011.
Please know that no one fully understands this proposal yet. Our staff, led by Almaz in Ethiopia, are still sorting out what this could mean for each of the children and families that we work with. These children are their passion and they are working on the front lines in this advocacy. Also, this is not limited to AGCI. This will impact every agency and the families that each serve. This means that all agencies are working together in their advocacy making a very strong force that is working on the behalf of children and families. Currently, all agency staff are waiting for the Director of MOWA to return to Ethiopia. Once she returns they will have a chance to sit down and talk over the implications of this proposal.
To attempt to counteract this proposal, the Joint Council on International Children’s Services (JCICS) has put a “Call to Action” in place. This sort of international advocacy is what JCICS does, and they do it well.
We are strongly encouraging you to read their post below and follow the suggested steps. You can also share this with your family, friends, Facebook friends and church to do the same. It is so important that we are all united in this effort! We are all advocates in our own circles of influence—and it is good to partner with you in this!
Thank you again for all that you are doing at this time. You are all valued and important in this process of promoting and preserving the best interest of children in Ethiopia and around the world.
God Bless,

Hollen Frazier
Executive Director

JCICS Call to Action

March 8, 2011
Joint Council: Emergency Campaign for Ethiopian Children
What You Can Do:
1) Sign the petition to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi – and pass it on!
2) Have you adopted from Ethiopia? Please send us up to 3 photos and 50 words or less with what you would like the Ministry to know about your child – we’ll compile the information and send a book to the Ministry of Woman’s Affairs. Send your photos and stories to by Sunday, March 12, 2011 to be included. Please note that sending photos and stories gives Joint Council unrestricted right to use the information you provide.
3) Share…Please send this Call to Action to family members, other adoptive parents, and everyone you know! Post, forward and share your adoption stories via Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. Make sure you include us in your posts so we can all hear your stories! Here’s links to our pages: Facebook, Twitter and our our blog.
4) Stay informed: Get up-to-date information regarding the situation in Ethiopia by signing up to receive information from us: click here to do so, make sure you choose “country and issues specific information” and “Ethiopia.” And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and our our blog.
5) Help ensure our advocacy can continue: Joint Council is a non-profit and receives no government funding. Please join us in ensuring more children live in safe, permanent and loving families. Donate today!
Again, we appreciate your support...please keep praying!!!

We are blessed because of you!!!  Thank you for supporting our adoption t-shirt blitz!!!  You, our friends, bought a total of 140 shirts!!! WOW!!!  Not only did you buy went above and beyond...we are truly grateful!!! We adore each and everyone of you and are so thankful that our daughter is already loved by you!!!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Answering More Questions

Many have asked us what agency we were using and where does the money go? So I thought I would use this post to answer those two questions.  We are going to use Dillon International as our adoption agency.  After lots of research, we feel they are the best fit for us.  They are based out of Tulsa, which is a huge bonus, and they have great ratings and reviews.  Plus, there is another couple in Ada using them.  They are ahead of us, in the process, so it is nice to learn from them.

We are completing application one this week and hope to have it in the mail by Friday!! This part is simple…but it will be nice to have something marked off the list!

Below are the steps and estimated costs it will take to bring our princess home.

  1. Submit application one $50
  2. Watch an on-line pre-adoption workshop video
  3. Complete and submit application two $300
  4. Attend an international adoption seminar/counseling/training in Tulsa $120
  5. Approval of application-program management fee part one $3500
  6. Home study $1500
  7. USCIS fingerprints and fees $900
  8. Approval of fingerprints/program management fee part two $3500
  9. Refundable deposit after home study approval $500
  10. Begin dossier and pay fees related $900
  11. Receive referral (our child) and accept $2225
  12. Paperwork submitted on acceptance of child and about 2 months later the court date is assigned.  We then travel to Ethiopia for court and will be able to meet our girl. (Travel and accommodation expenses can vary in cost $3800-$5500 for both parents)
  13. Child stays in Ethiopia and we return to the US
  14. Child’s medical exam, US Visa and other expenses $800-$1200
  15. 6-8 weeks later we return to Ethiopia to bring our daughter home. (Travel and accommodation expenses can vary in cost $3800-$5500 for both parents and child)
  16. Final fees paid in country during last trip $4500
  17. Post placement home studies at three, six and twelve months $1400

Total Time Range (from submission of application to bringing child home) 9-15 months
Total Cost Range $26, 295-$30,000

As you can see, this process is lengthy and expensive…but so worth it!!!  We know that God is in complete control so every detail is already taken care of…we just have to be patient.  Keep praying for our girl and us!!!