Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Halfway There?

According to the most recent reports from our adoption agency, the average wait time to receive a referral (being matched with a child) for an infant is 7 and a half months.

Today marks exactly 3 months and 3 weeks on the waiting list, which by my calculations puts us half way there!


Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Double Advent

Joy to the World!
The Lord is come, let earth receive her king!
Let every heart prepare him room...

Preparing room in our hearts for Jesus. Isn't that what the Advent season is about?

But how does one actually prepare for an event as monumental as the arrival of Christ into the world? At the moment of conversion, did those of us who follow Christ ever pause to consider the enormous significance of his entrance into our lives and what would happen when he arrived to take his rightful place in our hearts? And during this season of Advent, are we prepared to welcome him into our lives anew?

If we're honest, I think the answer is "yes and no."

The dictionary defines the word "advent" as "the arrival of something momentous." I have to wonder, though, when those momentous occasions occur, do we truly realize what is arriving?

This year, as my wife and I take time each week of Advent to pause and "prepare him room", this season of preparation is taking on a deeper meaning, for we are actually preparing for two advents. We are preparing for both Christmas day, and for what is affectionately known in our adoption agency as "gotcha day." We long for this day, a day that will finally arrive after eighteen months of paperwork, social worker visits, blood tests, two sets of fingerprints, waiting lists, court dates, and a marathon flight to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. A day when we meet our little one/ones for the first time and become his or her (or their!) forever family.

Everything in our lives is about to change dramatically. Nothing will be the same.

Are we prepared to welcome this infant into our lives? Yes and no.

So much will have to change, starting with our names. The stockings hanging over our fireplace have the names "Brian" and "Tracy" stitched into the fabric. Those will have to go. Next Christmas, the new ones will read "Mom" and "Dad."

Our home currently feels like a haven of safety and comfort in the world. Our new family member will quickly challenge that assesment and will reveal to us a world of dangers we either never saw or comfortably ignored--things like exposed electrical outlets, glass keepsakes, and unlocked medicine cabinets.

Our current media consumption, our time spent with friends, our waking and sleeping schedules, our leisure time...it's all about to get tossed out the window and replaced with something new.


How comfortable we've become with the Christmas celebration. The arrlval of baby Jesus seems so innocent and unobtrusive, yet a moment's reflection on the upheaval awaiting expectant parents like us ought to move all of us to stop for a moment to seriously consider the transformation and upheaval awaiting all who sincerely welcome Christ into their lives.

But Advent is not a season of fear. It's a season of joyful anticipation. For when Jesus arrives, his upheaval involves rescuing us from the kingdom of darkness and transfering us into the kingdom of light (Colossians 1:12-13), the true resting place for our restless hearts.

So let every heart prepare him room this Advent season because ready or not, he's on his way.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Creating a Network of Adoptive Family Friends...

I think I've written before on this blog that we are involved in a small group at our church that includes many adoptive families and/or people who have hearts for orphans. It has been a great place for us to find support as we dove into our adoption process. Since joining our small group, one of the other couples has adopted a beautiful 2 year old daughter from Ethiopia.

Recently, I heard that the Faulkners live in the area. They were one of the first families to adopt through Gladney's Ethiopia program. In fact, they traveled with the Bottomlys, and they make an appearance in the Bottomly's book, From Ashes to Africa.

We had dinner with the Faulkners tonight and got to know their three year old son, Deacon, who is a joy! I'm always so encouraged to meet other families who have adopted/are adopting from Ethiopia. My hope is that our child/ren will get to know these other kids, and that they will find strength in their shared experience. I certainly feel that is the case for me every time I meet another adoptive family!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Go Go Galindos!

In the spring, shortly after Brian and I began the paper chase phase of our adoption, I met the Galindo family through their adoption blog. Then I found out that we live close-ish to each other, and I got together with Nell Ann. We talked about all sorts of things during our dinner together. Mostly, we talked about their adoption of this cutie pie:

At the time, they were just a couple weeks away from traveling to pick up their beautiful son.

One of the other things we talked about over dinner that night was my photography business (Starshine Photography). Recently, Nell Ann asked me if I would photograph their family. Of course, I was happy to! Whenever I get to meet a child adopted from Ethiopia, it is such an honor, and so encouraging to me as I wait for my own child(ren) to join our family.

Here's their little guy in his Halloween costume:

And he's already learning to play jingle bells!

I was completely smitten with him! Isn't he just the cutest baby?!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

1 month

We've been on the waiting list one month!

One down... 7-ish(?) to go!

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Dream

I guess it was bound to happen. I had a dream a week ago Sunday. For the first time ever, I dreamed I was holding my child. She(!) was very tiny, fragile, and floppy, like most newborns. (Those floppy heads always make me nervous). I was standing with her in my arms and leaning back, trying to prop her up on my chest so her head wouldn't flop around and so she would be more comfortable. Her eyes were closed. She was so fragile. Her name was Joy.

The Redhead likes the name.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Today, we received an e-mail from our caseworker at Gladney, and the subject line was the same as the title of this post! Normally, hearing that you've been placed on a waiting list is mediocre news, at best. Not today, though! We've never been so happy to be put on a wait list! We are now officially waiting for a referral for our child(ren). The average wait time to receive a referral for an infant through our agency is currently 8 months.

This is what we have stated for our referral preference: 1 child of either gender or twins, age 0-6 months at the time of referral. We are also open to an older sibling (of a single child), either gender, up to the age of 5 years.

This means that we could be matched with one or two children of either gender. If it is just one child, it will be a baby 0-6 months old at the time of referral. If it is two children, it could be twins (age 0-6 months old) or a baby age 0-6 months old with an older sibling age 0-5 years.

So now we wait to see what God will do! It is a relief knowing He is in control and so very trustworthy! It truly is in His capable hands.

"God sets the lonely in families." Psalm 68:6 I can't wait to see who He sets in ours!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Dossier Completed!

We just got an e-mail confirming that our Dossier is complete and is en route to the Dept. of State in Washington, D.C. and then on to Ethiopia! This means that we can now be placed on Gladney's wait list! I'm not exactly sure when this will happen, but I'm hopeful that it will happen tomorrow! I'll keep you posted.

For those of you who aren't familiar with adoption terminology, the Dossier is the body of paperwork required by the Ethiopian government which we have to provide to be able to adopt internationally from that country. We have made more trips to get documents notarized for our dossier than we can count, and it feels like such an accomplishment to have arrived at this point in our adoption process!

If you are an adoptive family, and feel overwhelmed by the paperwork, we used Kate at KBS Dossiers. It was money well spent, in our humble opinion! She is one organized person, and I found her to be very trustworthy in getting this mammoth paperwork job done.

In all of the "to dos" of adoption, I have felt so aware that although we may be running around trying to get stuff done as fast as possible, there is also so much that is out of our hands...waiting for certain documents to arrive in the mail, how long we will be on the waiting list, even the child(ren) who will be referred to us. In this dance of doing what I can to make this adoption happen and surrendering to what I can't take control of, I am so thankful to my God in Whom I trust. His is the unseen Hand that is truly in control of the whole thing. I love You, Lord.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Thank You for Praying!

Praise the Lord! I got an e-mail from the Houston Department of Homeland Security this morning telling me that our CIS Approval notice was sent to us YESTERDAY!

Thank you so much for praying!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Prayer Request

Note: This post will have lots of "adoption speak"--the bottom line is that we're waiting on our one final document to come from Immigration, and it's taking longer than expected to arrive.

Our homestudy was completed in June and submitted on June 30, 2009 to CIS (Immigration). We then received a summons in the mail to come in for fingerprinting. We were fingerprinted at the Department of Homeland Security on July 18, 2009. We still haven't received our CIS Approval (I-171H) in the mail!

I called our adoption agency today, and our case worker agreed that ample time has gone by for it to be processed. She recommended that I send an e-mail inquiring about our status to the government agency that oversees international adoptions in Houston. I sent that e-mail today, and I've been told that I'll likely hear back within two days.

Please pray with us that our paperwork hasn't been lost in the shuffle, and if it has, that it will be located and processed quickly!

We are trusting in God's timing and know that with each apparent "delay" we encounter, each one is part of His sovereign timing in pairing us with our child(ren). Thank you for praying for us and with us!

Brian and Tracy

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Meeting with Another Adoptive Family

While on vacation last week in South Carolina, my dear friend Anne (pictured with me below) wanted me to meet a friend of hers from work who adopted 2 kids from Ethiopia about a year and a half ago. Of course, I was thrilled at the prospect! Anne's friends invited us over for lunch last Sunday, and what fun we had!

These are their two adorable kids, who completely stole my heart. Their son made the beaded necklace that I'm wearing in the above photo and gave it to me. Such a little sweet heart!

What great personalities they both have! Very conversational kids...two little extroverts. He couldn't wait to show me his stuffed animals and she wanted me to know all about her makeup! :)

Many thanks to this wonderful family for sharing your afternoon with me! It meant so much!

Give the little ones big hugs from me!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Today is my thirty-fifth birthday.

I think this is the year that I'll become a mother.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

On their way to Addy!

These are our friends A and A!  They are leaving in just two short days to go to Ethiopia where they will pick up their newly adopted daughter, Addy. Addy is almost two years old, and she is a beautiful little girl.

A&A are part of our small group through our church. Our small group is called "Orphan Hope", and it is comprised of several people in our church who have a heart for orphans. Many of the families are adoptive or foster families. 

Brian and I have been absolutely blown away by God's generosity to us. We are thrilled that He brought us to a church where a group like this exists. We feel so supported by our friends in this group as we journey through our adoption process.

Last night, we gathered as a group to have a little send-off for A&A, as they prepare to leave to bring Addy home to live with her forever family. Someone brought cookies with the stripes of the Ethiopian flag!

It was a wonderful time of fellowship, of hearing what miracles God has done to bring Addy home!

And a sweet time of prayer together.

We can't wait to meet Addy, and we're thrilled that our future kids will have an Ethiopian friend to know and grow up with right here in our town!

To read more about A&A's adoption journey, visit their blog!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


We received an e-mail from Gladney today stating that we are fully approved to adopt through Gladney!  Here's a little snippet of the e-mail, which I'm just cutting and pasting here for posterity:

Brian and Tracy,

Congratulations, you are now Gladney approved and ready to begin the dossier and ultimately the referral phase of your adoption process. I am mailing you both an approval packet with your approval certificate and quarterly training information for your “approved and waiting” period.

It sure feels good to know the wheels are in motion!  Praise the Lord!

Sunday, June 21, 2009


When Brian and I began talking seriously about adoption, I spent hours scouring the internet for information.  I found blogs to be the best source of information, as they were typically first-hand experiential accounts of people who were sharing their thoughts as they were going through the same process we would soon embark on ourselves.

The very first Ethiopian adoption blog I "stumbled" upon was Ethiopia or Bust, authored by Amy Bottomly. I write "stumbled" in quotes only because in retrospect, I can see that it was more a divine appointment than a random stumbling that landed me there. As it turns out, the Bottomlys are one of the better-known adoptive couples in the Ethiopian adoption community, as they were one of the first families to adopt from Ethiopia, and they were definitely one of the first to write a book about it!

From Ashes to Africa is Josh and Amy Bottomly's story of their journey from the "ashes" of a troubled marriage and infertility to the "gladness" of adopting their son Silas from Ethiopia.

The book begins with a quote from Frederick Buechner, "Writing is really quite simple; all you have to do is sit down at your typewriter and open a vein."  And that is just was this couple did! The major thing that makes the book such a compelling read is the openness and vulnerability with which it is written.

Let me share a few of my favorite quotes from the book with you:

"Any time art touches your life with tears, whether through a story, song, film, or painting, it was wise to pay attention to those tears because your tears could help you find your heart. And if you found your heart, you found what was dear to God. If you found what was dear to God, you found the answer to how you should live your life."

This (above) quote was particularly meaningful to me, as I sensed that God might be calling us to international adoption, when I was moved to tears during the movie Slumdog Millionaire. I actually had to leave the theatre and go cry in the bathroom because the injustice to orphans depicted in that film so stirred my heart.

I was also incredibly impressed with the thoughtful way they shared how they have struggled emotionally and spiritually since meeting their baby's biological mother:

"I still feel a flood in my throat every time I think of saying goodbye to Hermela [the baby's birth mother]. I'm almost certain the entirety of my feelings in that moment will remain forever ineffable. Ambivalence is perhaps the best word I can muster to describe how I felt. Part of me felt the rightness of God fulfilling a dream of ours, the rightness of God meeting a need of Hermela's, and the rightness of Hermela's courage and sacrifice.  The other part of me felt the wrongness of adoption, the wrongness of broken families, and the wrongness of abject poverty....

In an ideal world, Hermela would never have had to give up her child for adoption--for whatever reasons....  In an ideal world, infertility would be nothing more than a footnote in the annals of medical history....  [All] of us on some level feel the wrongness of the world in our core. And maybe what that means is that until people like Hermela don't have to give up their children to infertile couples like us, none of us are meant to feel at peace in our skin."

I appreciated that the Bottomlys didn't try to paint a perfect picture or try to tie the loose ends of their feelings about their adoption into a neat and tidy bow. In a broken world, some things will always feel broken, even if they are redeemed, and that is okay.

"There are times, though, when I will recall moments from my journey to Ethiopia, and I will think to myself that Silas could have so easily grown up to become like the street children who approached our car, barefoot and ragged, their eyes hollowed with hunger, their hands cracked and callous as they begged for loose change.  When I think about that, along with meeting Hermela and seeing many of the children at the orphanage, and I think about how my adoption journey with Josh has changed everything from my marriage to my family, from my faith to my dreams, I quietly realize this truth:  maybe all along, I needed Silas more than Silas needed me."

I heartily recommend From Ashes to Africa to anyone considering adopting from overseas, as well as to anyone who is simply curious about international adoption.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Just a Quick Update on our Adoption Process

Yesterday, I sent in the last bit of paperwork required to accompany our application to Gladney (our adoption agency).

We have also submitted everything we can up to this point for our dossier (the packet of documents required by the Ethiopian government).

At this point, all other documents we need to submit are contingent on the completion of our homestudy report. Our home visit was May 21st, so now we are just waiting for our homestudy report to be completed, and I am hopeful that will happen sometime in the next week!

Please pray with us that we will be placed on the waiting list sometime this summer. Thank you!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Book Review: RED LETTERS by Tom Davis

What if all Christ-followers lived the Red Letter words in the Bible--Jesus' words? What if we offered the hungry something to eat, gave one of our many coats to someone who was cold, and truly loved all our neighbors as ourselves? How radically different would our lives be? How different would our world be if Christians were really living as little Christs?
That's what this book is about. Learning to live a faith that is so real, you bleed Jesus. Here's how to start:  Look for Jesus every morning in the eyes of people you meet. And then look for him in the mirror.
-RED LETTERS by Tom Davis

Indeed, the world would be transformed if I chose to serve others as if they were Jesus Himself! Indeed the world would be a different place if I remembered daily that I am called to be Jesus to the world around me...to be His hands and feet in service to the hurting world around me.

~If you've ever struggled to wrap your mind around the HIV/AIDS pandemic that is wiping out countries in Africa...
~If you've ever been frustrated because you don't know how in the world you can make a bit of difference...
~If you've ever read the red lettered words of Jesus in the Bible about caring for the orphan and the widow, and thought "That's nice, but I don't know any orphans or widows"...
~If you're a little disgusted with yourself because you know that the life you live is a luxurious one in comparison to 98% of the rest of the world and you know you aren't helping the way you'd like to be--the way you know you should...

This is the book for you!  It really has me thinking about poverty and how I ought to get involved. We are called to be God's hands and feet in the world, and this book really made me see that I can do much more to reach out with compassion.

The question I am now asking myself is:  What will I do?  (The book gives a ton of suggestions, by the way, of how to get involved.)

Monday, June 8, 2009

A picture is worth a thousand words

Recently, a hollywood producer and his wife traveled to Ethiopia to adopt a baby girl. He brought his camera along with him and shot this brief video that highlights the work of the Gladney adoption agency (our agency).

To view the video, click here.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Greatest of These

Several years ago when I was living overseas and I learned that come winter, the sky would turn gray for months, I decided that I would need to buy a brightly colored bedspread to keep my mood cheerful during cold winter. At least the indoors would be bright if the outdoors insisted on shades of gray.

When we decided to move forward with our adoption of a child from Ethiopia and I began to hear about the marathon of paperwork, I decided to take a similar approach. After all, if it is going to be a frustrating mountain of paperwork, it might as well look cute, right?!

This is my adorable stripy adoption binder that I purchased at Target a few months ago. Isn't it presh? And I just LURRRRVE my colorful post-it tabs, too--if Mama has to be organized, she's gonna have fun doing it!

My colorful binder, my laptop and I have spent many hours at this white desk working on bringing our forever family together. I recently painted these three pieces and hung them above my desk.

I find them encouraging as we walk the path of adoption.  Faith, Hope, and Love--each plays an important role as we journey toward adopting our child(ren).  Faith:  God is leading us in faith on this adoption adventure. Hope: We have so much hope in our Great God and hope that He will bring us together with the child(ren) He has in mind for us.  Love:  Love for God and love for the child(ren) we've never met make this journey one of joy!

We thank You, Lord, for this opportunity to adopt!  We can't wait to meet our sweet kids!

Friday, May 29, 2009

What exactly IS the adoption process?

While everyone's path to adoption is different, it seems like with an international adoption, there is a general set of hoops that every family has to jump through on their way to holding their children in their arms.

Adopting from Ethiopia takes, on average, 18 months (according to our agency). So basically, we're talking the length of two pregnancies here, or as Brian likes to say, "So we're giving birth to an elephant!" (long gestational period).

First Trimester - 
  • Phone interview with the agency
  • Filling out an application
  • Filling out and notarizing a boatload of paperwork
  • Seeing a physician and getting blood tests done 
  • Fingerprinting to receive an FBI Clearance
Basically, the first trimester of adoption is a lot like the first trimester of pregnancy.  Realizing that you really are adopting is so exciting and even the paperwork isn't that bad because you know that there will one day be a baby on the other side.  On the other hand, there is a little morning sickness involved. Our bank simply wouldn't write a letter on our behalf, even though what we were asking wasn't anything crazy. They just wouldn't do it because they are in the process of being bought out by another bank and they "won't write custom letters during the transition".  Alright then! Thankfully, we figured out another way to get the letter we needed to vouch that we have a savings and checking account in good standing. Just like with morning sickness, you roll with the punches and adjust. We're glad that we're done with the first trimester. Whhheeeeeeeeeeeee!

Second trimester: The second trimester is a LONG trimester. It starts off with a bang and then it involves a lot of waiting.
  • Homestudy - An adoption social worker comes to your home and writes a report evaluating you and your home as a safe environment for a child. We had our homestudy visit last week and are currently waiting on our social worker to complete her report.
  • Compiling your dossier.  A dossier is a body of paperwork required by the foreign government from which you are adopting. We have hired a dossier service to help us in gathering an authenticating these documents. She has been a complete blessing and really KNOWS HER STUFF!
  • Once the homestudy is completed, Customs and Immigration send you your approval to adopt an orphan from a foreign country (form 171-H).
  • Once the dossier is complete, it can be submitted to the Ethiopian government, and then...finally...
  • You are placed on your adoption agency's waiting list to be matched with your child(ren). The current average waiting time for an infant 0-12 months old is 8 months.
Third Trimester
  • One day after you've waited longer than you ever thought you could, you receive a telephone call from a very excited adoption caseworker at your agency with your referral.  That means you get to see a picture of the baby you are being given the opportunity to adopt.  This is pretty much the equivalent of having an ultrasound and getting to see your sweet baby's face for the first time in a picture. You also receive any known information about the child (age, health, circumstances that made him/her an orphan).
  • Wait to be given a court date (usually a 1 month wait).
  • Wait for the court date to arrive (usually a 1-2 month wait).
  • Pass court.  The day your baby passes court in Ethiopia, you are considered the legal parents of the child by the Ethiopian government.
  • Travel to pick up your child (usually 3 weeks after passing court). This must be like the birth part--finally getting hold your long-awaited child in your arms!
We can't wait for that!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Have you ever had a stranger come into your house and ask you really personal questions?

  • What made you decide to adopt from Ethiopia?
  • What do you like to do together for fun?
  • What are some things you remember from your childhood?
  • What do you remember of your parents' interactions?
  • What are five adjectives you would use to describe your mother? Your father?
  • How will you prepare your child to face racism?
  • What is your philosophy on parenting and discipline?
  • Will one of you be the primary disciplinarian or will you share disciplining equally?
  • Do you drink?
  • Do you smoke?
  • Do you use recreational drugs?
  • How do you describe yourself?
  • How do you describe your spouse?
We had our homestudy visit, and it was really weird having a complete stranger (the adoption social worker) asking the kind of questions that you would normally be discussing with a close family member or your best friend. It involved an interview of us together and then of Brian and me individually.  She also took a tour of our home to do a safety inspection.

All in all, it went well. She was at our house for 3.5 hours, and she was very nice.  I have to say, though, that I felt kind of rattled for the rest of the day. Even though I had been warned that we would be asked lots of questions, I guess I wasn't prepared to take such a stroll down Memory Lane with someone I had never met before.  

Just another unusual part of the process adoptive parents go through to bring home their babies.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Naming the Blog

The Redhead: "Honey, what should we call our adoption blog?" 

(Silence as husband thinks...suddenly, he swells with pride. A flash of inspiration has struck. A rare moment when the heavens have parted and a burst of creativity descends, filling his mind with the perfect name for their blog. He basks in the glow of this rare event. Finally, a chance to dazzle his artistic wife with his innovation, creativity, and insight. A chance for him to be the creator and not the recipient of inspiration. One shining moment of spontaneous expression).

Husband: "I've got it! We could call it 'Raising Ethiopia' and name it after one of my favorite movies 'Raising Arizona.' We could design our blog masthead to look like the DVD cover art. This will be hilarious! People will love it!

(Silence from the wife's side of the bed. Long silence. Extended silence. Husband thinks, "Wow, I've stunned her with my insight. She's speechless. She's overwhelmed with this rare moment. She's discovering a side of me she's never seen before!")

The Redhead: (with a smile and a twinkle in her eye) "So, you want to name our blog after a movie about a couple that steals a baby from a family with quintuplets?"

Husband: "Well, yeah! This is a perfect title for our blog!"

(More silence from the Redhead, followed by muffled laughter)

The Redhead: (laughing out loud) "So, when our baby is older, you want to tell him/her that the name of the adoption blog was based on child theft. Are you serious?!"

(cue cricket noise)

(husband lowers head in shame)

Husband: Got any other ideas?

(husband defers to the Redhead and quietly wonders what their blog readers would think of his brilliant idea)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Beginnings of a Nursery

This is the room that will one day be our baby's nursery. I love the big window that lets light in and also the plantation shutters to keep light out when it's nap time!

When we moved in, the portion of the wall above the high chair rail was red, as was the entire ceiling!!!  So Brian and I spent the weekend priming and painting over the red, and got it all back to a crisp white. 

So the room is now a blank canvas for us to pain a baby theme whenever we find out if we'll be adopting a baby boy or girl or both!  Actually, I already have an idea brewing that I want to paint argyle diamonds on the wall. It will be a preppy baby room!  And I figure that if I pick the right colors it could work for a girl or a boy.

The dresser was mine until recently when we bought bedroom furniture for our master bedroom. It is from IKEA, and I thought I could paint it to coordinate with whatever colors we paint the room. It is also deep enough that we can put a diaper changing pad foam pad thingy on top of it, and it can be our changing station.

Mom found these cool little bookshelves on the side of the road (score!). Someone was throwing them out and put a sign on them that said they were up for grabs. They are in fine condition, so Mom scarfed them for us and I've had fun finding things to decorate them.  Dolls from a trip I took to Estonia when I was in college, my baby shoes, Brian's baby picture...

A collection of children's books from my own growing up years...

 ...and this sweet book that my sister gave me for our future baby!  The stuffed animal is Babar, the elephant. I loved the Babar stories as a child, and my mom found him up in our attic recently, so I thought he'd add a splash of fun to the nursery!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

To Give You an Idea of the Journey Ahead

The idea of adopting has never been a foreign one for us. Brian is adopted, and my father was adopted. My closest family friends growing up had an adopted son, and one of my cousins is adopted. Basically, adoption was always viewed as a good thing and was considered something pretty normal in the families in which we were raised.

As a teenager, when I would dream about the family I would one day have, I would envision adopted children as part of it. When Brian was in his early 30s, the mistreatment of street children he witnessed in Romania made him want to adopt

When we were dating and getting to know one another, we were both delighted to learn that the other was interested in adopting children. After we married, we began talking more seriously about adopting, but we didn't have a clear direction. Even after attending an adoption seminar at a local church in Southern California, we still didn't know if foster-to-adopt, domestic adoption, or international adoption was for us. If we had to choose an order for those three options, international adoption was at the end of the list (for me).

I had read a blog post several years earlier written by a woman who was adopted from Korea, and she really grieved being removed from the culture into which she was born. "I don't want to do that to someone," I thought. And then I really never gave it a second thought.

This past January, Brian and I went with some friends to see Slumdog Millionaire. Seeing the way orphaned children were exploited was more than I could handle. At one point in the movie, Brian leaned over to me and whispered in my ear, "This is why we're adopting." At one point, I was so overwhelmed by the way they were exploited by greedy adults, I had to get up during the movie and go to the bathroom and weep. Through my tears, I asked God, "How can I be part of the solution to this awful problem?" Even though I was still uneasy about the idea of international adoption, something in me began to open to the idea.

After the movie, we talked with our friends (one of whom works for World Relief) over coffee about the plight of orphans in different parts of the world. In the days and weeks that followed, I couldn't get international adoption off my mind. I began to do internet research about it.

Some of our friends had adopted two children from Ethiopia. I began to learn about the 4 million orphans there who need families, and my heart caught fire for Ethiopia. Finally, I had a real sense of direction about adoption--I felt called to adopt from Ethiopia.

Seeing the Bottomly family meet their baby for the first time was so moving and beautiful.  Brian and I had to pause this adoption video to get kleenex because it touched our hearts so much.  These families made international adoption part of their story, and in the process changed the story of these beautiful children who needed the love of a family. As the stories of the adoptive parents and their adopted children have merged, new chapters of hope and blessing are being written. 

Oh, that the pages of our story will be so blessed!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

It all started in Romania

I saw them every time I walked downtown. Two little girls, about eight years old, standing at the corner of a busy intersection. I was living in Timisoara, Romania at the time. It angered me every time I passed them. Who was exploiting these innocent children? Why weren't they in school? Who dropped them off on the street every day to beg?

Occasionally, my friends and I would bring them something to eat; a happy meal from McDonalds or some other treat. We knew that giving them money would do them no good. They wouldn't see any of it. These children were being used by adults. Adults who took advantage of the sympathy these kids garnered from those who saw them begging for money. Tragically, I witnessed children being used like this all over Romania. I hoped that someday, when I married, I could return to adopt a child and prevent at least one boy or girl from experiencing the exploitation I witnessed nearly every day.

Watching the moving "Slumdog Millionaire" brought back all those sad memories of Romanian street children. I found myself reliving those tragic memories over again. Halfway through the film, I leaned over and whispered to my wife, "this is why we're adopting."

At the time, we weren't even thinking seriously about international adoption, but the exploitation we saw in the film stirred our hearts and we reconsidered our options. We were moved by the story of a college friend of my wife who, along with her husband, had adopted two 3 1/2 year olds from Ethiopia.

Since the Romanian government no longer allows for international adoptions (long story...mostly due to corruption in the Romanian adoption system), we decided to look into adoptiong from Ethiopia, home to over four million orphans.

Though I couldn't change the world for those two little girls I saw begging in Romania, we knew we had the opportunity to change the world for a little one (or little ones) from Ethiopia and spare them from the fate I witnessed far too often in Eastern Europe.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Expecting from Ethiopia - The Adventure Begins

The documents arrived from our adoption agency at the end of March. The first page said it all:


You are about to embark upon the most frustrating, challenging, and ultimately rewarding experience of your life.

I can make you two guarantees.

One-if you stick through the frustrations and possible changes, we will find you the child that is meant to be part of your family.

Two-you will not be happy with this process until your child has come home.

The most important thing that you can do is to keep your eyes focused on the goal.

If you remember that the goal is to bring a child into your home, then the small frustrations will ultimately seem just that-small.

...surround yourself with people who truly understand what it is like to adopt internationally. The loss of control you will feel in this process is like no other you will ever know...

Most of all, do your best to see the light at the end of the tunnel.


Here we go. Join us as we embark on our journey to the child (or children) God has for us in Ethiopia. Hopefully, eighteen months from now, we will fly to Africa to bring home a little one to call our own. One who will be ours, always and forever ours.