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!