Thursday, April 25, 2013

perplexed, not driven to despair.

I want my kids home NOW!
I am pretty sure this is the desire of every parent who is adopting.
We do not get everything we desire.
While looking over my e-mail recently, I realized I misunderstood our coordinator about the wait time.
She told me the the average wait time before the new investigation was 10-12 months.
Well this new investigation is adding on A LOT of time.
It is looking like 18 months is a more realistic wait time.
Seeing as how we have not even gotten our commune documents yet, we are gong no where fast.
U.S. Immigration has also slowed down on issuing visas.
I am a little confused about God's plan right now.
I am not sure why it needs to take so long.
We are so ready to expand our family and so ready for Irelyn to have siblings.
Another 18 months honestly seems unbearable.
I am trusting that God has a better plan than I could even imagine.
I know that God keeps His promises and this wait is for my good and His glory.
We are praying for peace as we wait on His will and feeling so blessed to have two beautiful children in The Congo.
2 Cor. 4:8-9
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed;  perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Two Months and Trusting!

Tomorrow marks two months since we accepted the kids referrals.
I can honestly say that the time has gone by so SLOW!
I have kept myself busy these last couple months but that does not keep me from thinking about those kiddos.
I wish I had an update since last month but I don't.
We are still waiting for our commune documents.
We were told it could take 1-4 months to get these documents but most people seem to get them in under a month so of course that is the timeline in the back of my head.
Praise God there have not been too many days where I feel the weight of the wait is unbearable,
I feel so joyful that God is doing this thing in His timing.
We are on our knees praying for some forward movement.
We would love to get our commune documents this week!
Your prayers are really encouraging and do make a difference so please continue to pray for us and our kids!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Why we REALLY left our agency - part 4

The day after we chose to leave, we came into contact with some really wonderful people who helped us decide where to go to next.
We knew it was not time for us to give up, just time to change direction.
We started talking to attorneys who we though might be able to help us with getting some money back.  We had paid the international fees for both children.  These fees covered lawyer fees and such AFTER we got a referral.  We never got a referral so we thought we might have a chance.

After a couple months of working towards the goal of getting the money back, we realized that it was just not going to happen.  We cut our losses and decided it did not matter.  It is all the Lords money anyways.  We put it where he wanted us to put it and that is all that matters.
The lawyers help point us in the directions of some agencies who they believe are ethical. 
These lawyers are the people called when an agency is not ethical and something goes wrong.
If anyone would be able to tell us who we should us, it would be them.
We thought about going back to American World Adoption Agency.  Ironically, they are the agency we started with.  We knew we could move forward with a very ethical Ethiopian adoption with them.
Staying on track with Ethiopia would likely mean a 3-4 year wait.  We have been at this adoption for 18 months and we did not want to wait that long for a child.

I had seen a little boy a few months back who was waiting in The Congo(yes it was our Boaz).  I was sure he would have been adopted by now but remembering him made us think of The Congo and the agency he was with.
So we narrowed it down to two agencies.  DCRAS...which we still believe is a wonderful option, and All Blessings International.  We loved the feeling we got when talking to both agencies.  We felt confident that they were both ethical.  Only one of them had our kids...All Blessings International.
Gavin and I felt strongly that we were not going to wait for a referral.  We did not want to wait for someone to find us children when there were already children waiting for homes.  We discussed only adopting one child since we already lost $25,000 and a Congolese adoption is more expensive than an Ethiopian adoption.  We discussed adopting older to avoid the corruption that comes along with infant adoption. 

We decided to tell All Blessings that we were open to a child ages 0-5.  We told them we would adopt more than one but would also be fine with just one child. The next day, they sent us picture of two different kids.  The coordinator, lets call her "K" told us that they had six waiting children but these are the two she wanted us to look at.  Those two kids are now our little Boaz and beautiful Isryelle.

This journey was a tough one but also one that grew our faith.  We feel confident that we made the right choice for us and would not change our minds if we could.  Sometimes it gets hard waiting.  We would have had Ethiopian kids home this summer.  Now we are looking at waiting until 2014 to have kids home.  God literally pushed us through wide open doors to get us to the point we are at.  He reminds us on a regular basis that these are our kids and He has us right where he wants us.  We are still praying that those kids come home as soon as possible, but we are patiently waiting on God's perfect timing.

We still think that adoption is an amazing way to show God's love.  We hope to adopt again, and again, and again.  We hope we will get a chance to bring home a child from Ethiopia one day.  We know for a fact that there are ways to complete an ethical international adoption.  We have realized that it take a lot of research and discernment to find an organization that will help adoptive parents complete an ethical adoption.  Sometimes, agencies that are working ethically don't have the timeline or the rules that we want to follow.  Next time we adopt, we will put what we want aside and think of what is best for the child. 

I am not writing this to scare people away from international adoption.  I simply want to educate families on the importance of choosing an ethical agency.  The sad truth is that finding an unethical agency is not like finding a needle in a hay stack.  There are so many "bad" agencies out there but there are also many great resources to find out which ones those are.

Please feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions.

Why we REALLY left our agency - part 3

We prayed for days.  We talked to elders and pastors at our church.  We were covered in prayer by people at our church.  Then one night I talked to a person on the phone who I had never met. 
She had an awful experience with our previous agency and was still shocked by how bad it has gotten since she adopted her child.  She asked me this question,
"If money was not a factor, would you stay with the agency you are with or would you leave?"
That is a great question!
My answer....we would leave.
This conversation really helped open my eyes to what is important.
God can take care of the money!  He will provide for this adoption.
Gavin and I were both feeling that to stay we would be supporting a very unethical agency. 
We felt God telling us clearly that we should leave the agency.
We were heart broken over the loss of funds and the fact that those kids are victims and we can't help them.  We came to love Ethiopia and were sad that this corruption was taking place.
We knew that adopting orphans through a system that we knew was not ethical was NOT bringing justice to the orphan.  We still wanted a baby.  We wanted to stay in birth order and Irelyn was only 18 months old.
We started praying for what God wanted for us.
Yes we want children but we also want to help solve the problem of fatherless children...we did not want to be part of the problem.
I had so many fears when we first decided to leave.  What will people think?  Will people be upset that we lost so much money...a lot of which was donated? Where will we go from here?  Will we be able to get any money back from our agency?
Then God gave me peace.  We were doing the RIGHT thing.  God will bless that.
The next day, God rained down his blessing.

Why we REALLY left our agency - part 2

From our research, we learned that our previous agency lies, cheats, and that many people have serious concerns about them being unethical. 
Every family I talked to had been lied to about their child's background.
They had been threatened if they wanted to find the truth about why their child was an orphan.
Some had been harassed for years for terminating their contract and hiring a private investigator to find out the truth about their child.
Not one parents who hired a private investigator found that the agency had told them the truth about their child.
Many of the parents who did investigations did find that their children were in fact true orphans. 
There were some who found out that their children were not really orphans and had parents who loved and wanted them.
There were some who found that their child's birth family was bribed to give up their child.
Adopting healthy babies is a difficult thing in a foreign country.
There are so many babies who are orphaned and do need homes.
It takes time and money to properly process those orphans to makes sure they are true orphans.
The majority of adoptive parents want to adopt infants.
The international fees that parents pay for an adopted child are ridiculous.
This is the perfect atmosphere for corruption.
Babies as well as older children are basically be bought and sold.
Parents who are living in poverty are sought out and talked into giving up their children.
Many parents don't understand that their child will be taken away for the rest of their lives. Some parents believe that they will be at the orphanage for a time while they figure out a way to provide.
Staff go out and recruit children from the poor neighborhoods.
There have been cases where doctors were paid off to tell mothers that their babies died in the hospital so that they can be put up for adoption.
The agency we were with supplied babies to four different agencies.  They are known for their healthy infant referral and the wait time in only a couple of months.  We started asking ourselves where they got all these babies?  Why is everything so secretive?  Why will they terminate your contract if you want to know the truth about where you children came from? 
We started second guessing the way we viewed international adoption.

**I want to make it clear that not all of the currupt things listed above were done by our previous agency.  Some were carried out by different orphanages in Ethiopia.  I was told by families who had personaly experienced these things that these sorts of things were happening in an orphanage that our previous agency got children from.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Why we REALLY left our agency - Part 1

Here is the scoop.
We have had to keep our story on the down low for a while now because we were trying to get some money back from our agency.  It looks like that is not going to happen so we now want to share.
We want to be honest and tell you guys about why we really left our agency.
It was one of the most difficult decisions we ever had to make.

I want to make sure to start out by saying that we do not think it is wrong for people to adopt from Ethiopia.  We do not think it is wrong to pursue infant adoption.  We don't think it is wrong for people to use the agency we were with.  We simply felt like it was wrong for US  to use the agency were with.
I have told you guys that we left because we found our kids.  Well that is partly true.
What I didn't tell you is that we did not find our kids until after we decided to terminate our contract with our previous agency.
We had heard some very unsettling information about our agency and the orphanage they work with about six months ago.  We shook it off. 
"We have put too much money into this adoption."
"Those were a few bad cases, ours won't be like that."
"Its in God's hands, whatever will happen will happen."
"No agency is perfect."
These are the things we told ourselves and the reasons we did not leave this agency sooner.
I could not shake the feeling that we were not where we were supposed to be.  I was anxious and nervous.  I was having a really hard time resting in the Lord.  I was searching for waiting children although I knew I could not adopt them because we were already waiting for a referral.  I just did not feel comfortable with the things I was hearing about our agency and did not know what to do about it.

Then a sweet friend sent me an e-mail and asked if there is any way we could switch agencies without losing too much money.  I told her that there was not way.  We were about $25,000 into this adoption and it was all considered non-refundable.  I told her that Gavin and I would do more research about the agency.  I did want to find the truth and know what we were working with.  I wanted to be prepared for the difficulties we might face because we were using this agency. 
The information I found out completely shocked me.

We started getting names and numbers.  I began calling people who have had bad experiences with our previous agency.  The things I was learning disgusted me and broke my heart.  The amount of dishonestly that was taking place within our own agency made us both second guess everything we were doing.  We finally realized that international adoption is not always the beautiful process of giving an orphan a home. 

We both felt so sad about everything we learned.  We felt like everything we had thought international adoption was all about was just not true any more.  I began feeling like I did not want to get a referral.  We were told to expect a referral any time and I felt like I needed more time to figure out what to do.  This was supposed to be such a happy time but we were heart broken and confused.

So we started praying....Big time!

Keep watching for part two:)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

No grant yet....

We got word today about one of the grants we were waiting on.
This grant is pretty good size and we were really praying it would happen.
We were told that our application was up for review in March.
It turns out, they only want to review applications of people who are traveling now.
We will not be traveling until the end of 2013 or the beginning of 2014.
I completely understand why they do this.  This way they can help people with that last little bit they need to bring their kiddos home.  It is still frustrating, we need to come up with $10,000 by the time we file our I-600 which will be in a few months, God willing.

We are waiting on the response to one more grant application.  We applied but did not get any kind of verification that they received our grant which it pretty standard procedure.  I have e-mailed the organization and asked about our application and have not gotten a reply back.  Maybe they will surprise us!

Thanks everyone for keeping us in your prayers. 
We will continue to update you on which grants we do or do not get.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Prayer Request...Something New.

We are so blessed!
That is the first thing that popped into my mind when I started writing this post.
We have three beautiful kids and could not be happier.
We have had a few issues with our business lately.  As most of you know, we are self employed.  My husband is a contractor.  I have to admit that we have been starving the business a little throughout this adoption process.  We have been putting everything we have into the adoption and not putting any money back into the business.  Things are starting to break down and need to be it is time for us to put some money into the business.
This decision was difficult for me but necessary.  We are so close to being fully funded!  We only need $10,000 more for the agency expenses and then about $8,000 for travel.  We need prayer for provision yet again.  God provides every time and we LOVE watching ours and your prayers be answered.  We still have a few grant applications out there.  We are still selling sheets.  We are going to do another yard sale.  We need prayer over all of these things.
We have also been praying about hosting a child from Ethiopia while we wait for our kiddos to come home.  Our home study agency has an amazing hosting program.  The program does cost money.  We feel convicted that we need to have paid all of the agency fees for our adoption before putting money into a hosting program.  If we are going to accept a child into our home for the month of August, we will need to apply next month.  We are praying that if we are supposed to host a child, we will be able to pay all of our agency fees in one month.  At that point, we would still need God to provide the money for the host program.
Just a reminder, we have a separate account for money that is donated by all of you wonderful people.  It will never be used for anything but the adoption of our two kiddos.
Please keep praying for our family. 
Your prayers are make a difference and are important to us!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

UPDATE April 14, 2013

We got out updates of our kids today.
It is so fun to hear that there is an update sitting in our e-mail!
It makes every day of difficult waiting worth it.
Those babies are sitting there getting pictures taken of them, knowing they have families waiting for them!
God is so good!
Both the kids are doing very well.  Boaz still weighs about 22lbs.  Small for an almost 3 year old but looking very healthy for living in The Congo.  Isryelle gained 5 lbs these past few weeks!  She must be feeling better!  She weighs in at 26lbs now.
Those eyes make me want to just run over there and scoop her up!

This is my daughters smile!

This picture has so much personality! His eyes add so much and I am so bummed that I can't show you guys the whole picture.

Hands in his pockets!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Care Packages

We have sent off our first care package!
The package has been sent to Canada first where a sweet adoptive mom
has been kind enough to take it to our kiddos for us.
She is not completely sure when she will be able to travel.
She is coming up against some road blocks so were praying everything works out for her.
We will most likely get pictures of them opening their care packages and I can't wait!
We bought them both crocks, an outfit, cookies, and a photo book of our family.
We got Boaz a toy backhoe...just like daddies and Isryelle got a little doll.
We also packed disposable cameras.
It is fun getting to buy things for our kids for the first time!

The outfits are from Costco.  Boaz's come with shorts, shirt, and onsie. Isryelle's is just a shirt and leggings.  They were only $8!

I thought these crocks were adorable!  The doll is like the size of my cute!
I loved little things when I was Isryelle's age.

That backhoe actually makes noises.  That tie die thing is the photo album.  The one in this picuture is Isryelle's and it says "hope" on it.  Boaz's is Blue and says "believe".
We stuffed everything into these two bags and wrote their names on them.
The camera's are so the foster mom can take pictures of the kid's every day lives and then when we go to pick them up, we can get the cameras.

All Ready to go!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Simply Amazed for the Second Time Today!

As you all know, this morning we found out we got a $10,000 grant.
What I didn't tell you was about my prayer yesterday.  I was driving in the car,
feeling a little overwhelmed about how difficult this process is.
I prayed that if waiting for the money was not needed for our spiritual growth,
that God would supply as much as the money now as possible.
I prayed that God would be merciful and provide the money we needed now.
I honestly just wanted to feel like we were getting closer.
I never expected God to completely answer my prayers.
This morning I was speechless and amazed how how good God is.
Tonight, it got even better.
We had friends give us $5,000!
They are not just friends, but friends who are trying to start their adoption. 
They are people who just like us are not sure where the money will come from to complete their adoption.
They are people who will have to fund raise and pray like crazy throughout their process.
I don't know where this $5,000 came from but I know that they were called by God to give it instead of use it.
We were so blessed by their hearts tonight!  They make us want to be more Godly people.
So this means that yesterday, we needed to come up with $25,000 in the next few months not including travel.
Today we need to come up with only $10,000 not including travel!
We are so thankful that the Lord loves us and our kids so much that he is providing.
We are thankful for people who are willing to sacrifice to bring kids into families.
We are thankful that our God is huge and there is nothing he can not do!

Grant - Praise God!

We have a huge praise report.
We just got word today that we received a grant for $10,000!
In the world of adoption, that is a huge grant.
God once again has reminded us that we are on the right track.
From time to time, I need a little reminder.
This grant means that we now need to come up with only $15,000 in the next few months.
That is not too bad at all.
Thank you to all of you who have been praying for God's provision.
He hears your prayers!
We have a couple more grant applications out so you could keep praying about those.
We are pretty excited to watch what God is doing.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

dossier sent!

Our Congo dossier is complete and translated.   It has been sent to our coordinator who will soon forward it to our attorney in D.R.C.  if she has not already. We are praying we will be submitted to court pretty soon.
We have been told it could take a few weeks to a few months.

Meanwhile, you all can be praying about our finances.  We need $25,000 in a few months.  
Only God can make this possible!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Kiddo Update

We got an update on the kiddos today!
It is so fun to watch them grow and see them in their everyday lives. 
Our agency is beyond amazing!  When their staff goes to D.R.C. they take tons of pictures.  Not only do I get about 5-10 pics of our kids once or twice a month, but I get a bunch of pictures every few months when someone travels.  We are blessed to have over 100 pictures of our kids!
For the month of March, we got picture from the 13th and pictures from the 28th.  The kids are both so beautiful and already look so much older!
She has such a beautiful smile!  She has been a little sick the past month.  She started out with pink eye, has had some sort of stomach bug, has had a fever on and off, and to top it all off...she has lice and they shaved her head!  She has actually lost weight this month and we are praying for her health.  Regardless of her health, she still smiles for us in her update picture.  From the pictures, it looks like she likes to suck on her pointer finger.  Were learning her habits!
Her hair is so healthy and thick!  It will grow back fast!

March, 13th.  She gives us a little smile.

Such a little lady!

Our son is growing so fast already!  He has gained two pounds this month!  He is already losing a little bit of his baby face.  While his sister has recently gone bald, he is growing little fuzz on top of his head.  I love him with hair!  From the picture it looks like he really enjoys eating...makes sense with how much weight he is gaining.
Still waiting to see a smile with teeth.


This boy loves to eat!

Those little feet that I love!
I am pretty sure they have been told that we are their parents.  I told Gavin that they look much happier in their latest update than in the older pictures we have of them and he said he has been praying that they will know we are their parents and that we love them.  God is simply answering his prayers.  I hope they are excited to meet us!