Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Why Is Adoption So Expensive?

I'm sure that unless you've adopted yourself or know someone close to you who has, you might be wondering why adoption is so expensive.  You're certainly not alone, and take comfort that Travis and I had the same thoughts before God led us down this path.

First, let me tell you what all the money is not for.

It is not a donation.  We hear from many people what a good thing we're doing, how great it is that we're giving a child a family, etc.  While all of this is true, adoption is about so much more than this.  The blessing we will receive from this child will far outweigh the blessing we can give to him.  We try to think of it more like paying a ransom for our child.  Think of it this way: is there any price you wouldn't pay to get your child back?  It's the same for us, we just haven't held him in our arms yet.

It is not a business.  Adoption agencies, at least credible, Christian agencies like the one we work with, are non-profit organizations.  They receive no funding from the government and nothing from the countries they work with.  Their mission is simple: to join children with their forever families.  The money we pay them is entirely for the processing of our paperwork, our homestudy, their in-country staff and facilities that will care for our child before we can, and advocating for our child and us to the Ethiopian government.  I can't even tell you how much they do for us, especially while we were in Ethiopia.

It is not lining the pockets of corrupt government officials.  I know all countries have their problems, and each country is different, but I feel confident that the international fee we pay to Ethiopia is going where it should.  The money they receive goes to help run all the orphanages in country and to pay the MOWA (Ministry of Orphans and Women's Affairs) workers to process our paperwork as well help get orphans paper ready for adoption (meaning to verify that a child is truly an orphan and to obtain evidence to prove this so).

We decided that because we would be fundraising some of this adoption, we'd keep track of our expenses so you could see just where your money would be going.  If you click on the Adoption Funding tab at the top, you can view a quick total of our expenses thus far.  Please, please, please do not hesistate to contact me if you have further questions about any of this.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Africa Awaits...

I'm sure some of you have wondered when this post would appear.  I've had many people begin to ask us what our next plans are.  Would we have a biological child?  Would we adopt again?  And when?

Truthfully, we always knew we would adopt again, we just didn't know when.  But we've felt a stirring in our hearts that last couple of months that led to subsequent prayer and the decision to go back to Ethiopia.  We've been accepted into AWAA's Ethiopia program again, this time to bring our son home.

So now we begin this crazy process all over again, but this time with a little less fear and a bit more confidence. My goal is to have our dossier completed and sent off by around the time Mia turns 2 in February (a crazy thought in and of itself!).  Infant boy referrals have been around 4-6 months after dossier submission, so we're hoping for a referral by the end of next summer.  One big difference this time around is that Ethiopia has changed their travel policies so we'll make 2 trips this time.  (Before you think anything bad, please know this is for the good of the children, and I can explain it later in another post.)  Tentatively, we'll all three go on the first trip, and then my mom will accompany me on the second when we bring our son home (approx. 4-6 weeks later). 

Although we don't look at adoption as just a mission, it's how God is building our family, it is clear in Scripture the responsibility we as Christians have to the fatherless.

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

Seek justice,
encourage the oppressed.
Defend the cause of the fatherless,
plead the case of the widow.  
Isaiah 1:17

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.  
 James 1:27

So now we come humbly before you to ask a question we didn't our first time around.  Will you help us in this journey?  God may or may not be calling you to adopt, but perhaps He's calling you to be part of this ministry, prayerfully or financially.  Adoption is expensive, we're looking somewhere around $25,000 - $30,000, but we know that what God begins, He will finish.  He is faithful to His word. 

Please click on the links above to find out how you can get involved and help bring hope and love to the fatherless.  It all starts with one...  

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Say Cheese!

So when your husband's a photographer, you might think we'd have tons and tons of family photos.  Wrong.  It's a tricky thing to actually photograph yourself in a picture while taking it.  And Travis is incredibly picky when it comes to actually being photographed.  But when Mia's one year anniversary came around, I knew we couldn't let the moment pass us by.  And I'm so happy to know photographers like Maike Tillen.  She knew exactly what we were looking for, and I feel captured our family well.  Here's a preview of some of my favorite shots.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Our First Year with You

One year ago today we held our sweet baby girl in our arms for the very first time. After months (and years!) of longing and praying, in a single moment we were transformed into a mother and father and we became a family of three.

I can't even begin to tell you how much joy Mia brings to our lives every single day. She. is. awesome. I hope you enjoy this video I put together to commemorate her one year anniversary with us. It's amazing to see how much she's grown and changed!

We love you, Emilia Jane. Our life is so much richer and fuller because you're in it.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: New Food

Note: It must be said that while my daughter does love to eat, she loves to eat those things she loves to eat. For instance, while I cut some corn off the cob for her, she wanted to eat it the same way Mama and Daddy were, right off the cob.

"Daddy, you just help me a little bit."


"What's this part? Are you sure I won't like it?"

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ten on Tuesday - Mia's Top Ten

This is one post I've been mulling over for awhile now. I don't have an actual baby book started for Mia, for a variety of reasons, but one being that I hadn't yet found one that had an adoption focus. I never wanted her to have a baby book that had a ton of empty pages because they didn't apply to her (i.e. pregnancy, birth, ultrasounds, hospital stay, etc.). I did actually see one on another family's blog (My Family, My Journey) that is adoption focus and has plenty of pages for those extra special events in her life, but just haven't gotten around to purchasing it.

Anyway, I digress. I tell you all this to say that while I don't have an actual baby book, I do have a small journal that I've kept all her important milestones. Awhile back I started a 10 Things Mia Loves list. It's evolved and changed as our little one continues to grow and change herself, but I wanted to share Mia's Top 10 List with you:

10. Her Giant Teddy Bear: Given to her at a baby shower last March before we even had her referral, I remember wondering what the heck I was going to do with so many stuffed animals. This bear, however, has found a special place in her heart as she requests it almost every morning when she wakes up in her crib. She take a few moments to roll around with it (it's as big as she is!) and then is ready for her "mil" (milk).

9. Being Outside: I'm pretty sure my kid would live outdoors if I'd let her. Don't get me wrong. I love spring, summer, and fall because the weather is for the most part pretty temperate. But I'm not one of those people that enjoy sweating profusely in the sweltering sun. I do make an effort to take her out a least once a day, but tears almost inevitably follow when it's time to go back inside.

8. Sneezing & Tooting: Must I say more? What kid doesn't think these are hilarious?

7. Wind chimes: This one surprises me. We have a couple of wind chimes outside, and it is her most favorite thing to make them sing. It must stem from her love of music, but I have never seen a kid get more excitement from such a small thing.

6. Ducks: Ah yes, our Quack Quacks. This was the first animal noise she could make, and has since applied the sound to all birds. And when she's feeling extra silly, she'll tell you cows and sheep also say Quack Quack with a big ol' grin on her face because she knows she's teasing you. I thought it apropos that she should be a duck this year for Halloween.

5. Her Grandmas: She's got three of them, and she loves them all. Besides Mama and Daddy (and Papaw, too!) these three ladies are her most beloved playmates. She's certainly got them wrapped around her finger and they can't get enough of her either.

4. Anything electronic: This kid loves cell phones and anything that might look like a cell phone. Remotes, walkie talkies, computers, cameras, you name it. Most items become like phones to her, as she walks around the house with them to her ear. I used to occasionally let her play with my cell phone, but after she accidentally called 911 (twice!) with my locked phone, I had to cut her off. They call back, in case you were wondering.

3. Blueberries: Our kiddo certainly loves to eat (and now, please) but she has a love affair with blueberries that I just don't understand. She asks for "blues" at least 4 times a day; in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening, and even in the car. I have to cut her off because you know what too much fruit will do. I'll leave it at that. We almost had a meltdown yesterday at Meijer because the lady in line in front of us was purchasing a pint of beloved blues. Mia couldn't quite understand that they weren't ours. I kept telling her she could have some when we got home, to which she said, "Yeah!" and then promptly pointed back to the blues. Oh well. I guess you really can't reason with an 18 month old.

2. Doggies: It's a good thing Hank took so well to her because Mia absolutely adores him. She loves to love on him, including giving him kisses (sometimes with her tongue - yuck!) and "gently" patting him on the back. And now since she's learned the parts of her face, she likes to point out his eyes to us.

1. Her Mama and Daddy: This one brings tears to my eyes as I type. I could not have asked for a more affectionate little girl. She loves to give us hugs, kisses, and cuddles, and she above all other things, wants her Mama and Daddy close by at all times. She hates to be separated from me, which is something we've been working on, but I do secretly love that she prefers me to anyone else in the world. I mean, isn't that how it's supposed to be?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Will Starve for Food

I've had Africa on my mind a lot lately. It's hard not to especially as Travis and his youth group are gearing up for their annual 30 Hour Famine. The Famine is an event started by World Vision in which youth groups all over the country go 30 hours without food in order to raise money and awareness for starving children all over the world. Did you know that 25,000 children die each day from hunger and other preventable causes? That is a massive amount of kids. The good news, however, is that hunger related deaths are 100% preventable.

This is our fourth year to participate, and each year our kids have raised around $7,000. With World Vision's matching grants that number gets multiplied x 4. Pretty cool for a group of 30 kids, wouldn't you say?

The 30 Hour Famine is probably the most near and dear to our hearts as we realize that our daughter could have been one of the countless faces you see in the promotional videos. I think it especially struck Travis harder this year, having been home with Mia for almost a whole year. He came home the other night from youth group and said that he just wept watching a video with his kids about the hunger plight of the kids in Niger. He said, "I just kept seeing Mia's face in these kids. How much more personal does it have to get before we realize we have everything to give?"

I know there are plenty of good causes that need financial and prayerful support. This is one of them. Would you consider donating $30, $60, or even $90 to this effort? Just $30 will feed a child for an entire month. Your donation is tax deductible. If you are interested, please leave me a comment with your contact information, and we can make arrangements. You can read more about this awesome event at: http://www.30hourfamine.org

Thursday, August 5, 2010

They Grow Up Too Fast...

I've been somewhat sentimental lately in regards to Mia. I suppose it's because I feel like somewhere in the last month we turned the corner from baby to toddler. Her vocabulary literally exploded in what seems like a week, and she now adds probably 2 to 3 new words every day. She now regularly says Mama, Daddy, Mamaw, Nana (which works for Nana, Banana, and Savannah), Babby (for Gabby!), blues (blueberries), quesedilla, baby, book, duck, kitty, whale, truck, boy, girl, ball, please, cheese...the list goes on and on. She's become quite the parrot (like when I called her a little punk the other day), but she's also putting together the words with the actual objects which some days shocks the pants off of me.

We also got in four new teeth last week. Four! We doubled our teeth! And she just looks bigger to me. Every morning I think she's grown an inch. And her hair. Where to begin. I noticed in the bathtub last week how long it was getting and decided to do a little experiment in pig tails. Oh. my. goodness. She not only looks adorable, but it really makes her look like a little girl. We've also been exploring more hair products, which I'm sure is only the beginning of what will be a life long experiment for Mommy.

Here's a quick video especially for Auntie Anne who wanted to see all her new teeth, but bonus! you can also see her trying to wear Mommy's shoe and some of her new vocab.