Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Embassy Update

After a spotty Internet day yesterday for the folks in Addis, we got news today that the U.S. Embassy has requested a birth family meeting for next Tuesday, Dec. 6th {his 9 month birthday btw!} at 7:30 am. If things go smoothly, we should hear word from the embassy in the next few days that we are cleared & be given dates to travel. {to give you an example of a scenario we would be blessed to follow: a family had their same interview yesterday & found out today that they will need to leave THIS Friday to go to ET!}

Also, the other 3 families were submitted yesterday!!! I am praying that all 6 babies will be home by Christmas...would LOVE for you to join me! ;-)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Submitted to embassy

Last Monday, our file was submitted to U.S. embassy to be reviewed, approved, & obtain a VISA appointment. The U.S. also does their own investigation of adoption cases, proving that each child is an orphan. The embassy takes 1-2 weeks per review & then comes back with 1 of 2 scenarios:

1) the case is cleared & dates are given to travel to get Little Man's VISA so that he can enter the United States

2) the embassy calls for additional information. then, will review the case a second time once that information has been given.

Now, along with all the changes with adoption on the Ethiopian side of things, so the U.S. has vamped up their scruitany of cases on their end as well. Most all cases, if not all in general, have gone the #2 route. The main thing they have called for are additional birth family interviews. {Just fyi, birth families are also called to testify in the ET courts before you are ever given custody of your child, & documents such as this will be in your file that the embassy has.}

CALLING ON ALL PRAYERS :) - on Monday, we were submitted with 2 other families. those families have already received 2 different emails from the embassy. One, that their file was "opened." Two, that a birth family interview was requested. We have not gotten anything from the embassy directly yet. My case manager assured me that this does not mean that they are not working on our case & that they are not consistent in their direct correspondence with adoptive families. However, I am getting nervous about it. Part of me is just so relieved that my baby boy is actually coming home, that I don't care...but, another part of me is begging the Lord that this lack of correspondence means we are being cleared! ;-) {for lots of reasons we would love for them not to request a birth family interview} So, will you join me in praying the following:

1) that the embassy will clear our case the first time
2) that we will hear word from them either through them or our agency SOON
3) that the other 3 of the Southern 6 will get submitted tomorrow - really tonight according to ET time :)

We all just want to get our sweet babies home ASAP!!! :)


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

It's OFFICAL!!!!!!!!!!!

Well, this news is super late in coming, but as of Monday, the Baxter family is officially a family of 3!!! Monday morning we found out the court had received our MOWA letter & issued our "final, final" court decree! I have pretty much been running at full steam ever since trying to get caught up on all the things I have been putting off...it's a little hard to register, have showers, buy diapers/clothes/etc. when you have NO IDEA how old your baby is going to be when he comes home. SOOOOOoooo glad that's over with!!!:)

I wish I could show you all a picture of his sweet little face & announce his name to really make things come alive! However, our agency is extra precautions & doesn't like us to show pictures of our littles until they are safely in our custody....& there is a little debate over what exactly his name will be. It's pretty much set for the most part except we can't decide whether to sneak in a second middle name. I'm for & against it for several different reasons, & Matt is mostly against. So, we'll see how all this plays out! ;-)

Next steps are AGCI will translate our paperwork & make an appointment for our lil guy to have an extra medical exam at the embassy's clinic. Once all that is complete, they can submit us to the U.S. embassy who will then complete their own investigation of our case. The embassy is very strict & only allots certain days that each agency can open files. Ours is Monday. We are praying that our staff is able to get everything done in time to submit our file to the embassy this coming Monday! We know Almaz & everyone will make it happen if they can! :)

Yay!!!!!!!!! Matt & I have been on cloud 9 since last Wednesday {when our case was taken off hold!} I can hardly tell that my head is spinning in 5 different directions- ha!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Roller. Coaster.

So, this post is a little later in coming than I wanted, but now my mind is flooding with ALL the things that I have been putting off! :) I feel the need to take you back to where I was last week, to be truthful of this sweet journey & the majesty of God & our walk to our son.

Today re-read an email I wrote to a friend last week, & I think I'll just use it to fill in the gaps in order to keep this post from being forever long. {For those of you who don't know me well, I'm sure you've figured out by now that I tend to be a little wordy!}

honestly, hearing that someone is praying for us daily is huge. I need to know that someone is interceding for me on the moments/days it gets too discouraging to plead for the exact same thing one more time. We did find out on Monday that the judge issued our written decree, but we still need our MOWA letter before we can move on. we also got confirmation on Monday that MOWA is not cooperating as we suspected. I feel so guilty because I know I should be rejoicing & praising the Lord over this small victory, but I can't seem to get there out of fear that this next hurdle is going to take even longer. ...I just feel so guilty because this is an answered prayer. 

Then that Friday {last week,} one of the other "Southern Six" mommas {that's what we became known as on our agency's list serv} asked if AGCI would be open to talk about making an extra trip to go visit our babies. I'm not sure if they realized that we were all looking at plane tickets for December:), but they agreed to "talk" about it. I dreamed about seeing Little Man again all weekend, & Matt & I started brainstorming on fundraising. Well, on Monday I found out that the option of an extra trip was being taken off the table. We love our agency & they had good reasons, but I was still super bummed because we had no idea when we would hold our baby next. Plus, there still wasn't any new information about why our cases were still on hold & what exactly was going to be needed to get them off even though 2 more of our Southern Six families got their court decrees.

So now I hope you have a little sense of my mental state when the phone rang Wednesday...in fact, don't be surprised when I tell you that I was in bed at 11:00 AM.;-) My case manager told me, much to EVERYone's surprise, MOWA had agreed to go ahead & write our letters!!!! Our orphanage director explained it best, "The steps have been many to get here, but most of all it is God's thing, no one can move men's hearts but God." AGCI expects our letters to get here by the end of next week...Little Man is coming HOME!!! Matt & I are elated to say the least & are truly beyond grateful for each one of your prayers. We aren't really sure about the timing yet. It will depend on when we actually get our letter & how the VISA process goes, but there is a possibility it could be by the end of this year! :)

Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to see these last few years as purposeful refinement, even though I cringed at that thought just 3 short days ago. Thank you for continuing to give me permission to ask for things that may give You glory because I'm beginning to realize the depth of your love for me. I am humbled by your grace in so. many. ways.

so much for not being wordy, huh?! wow, this post took a turn i totally wasn't expecting...here's your reward for making it to the end ;-)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Nursery Update

How 'bout a little nursery update...and some other random subjects? :)

I painted the nursery this week. I had the color picked out since March, so it was probably about time to mark that off the list! ;) It's Benjamin Moore Gray Mist, OC-30, but I used Behr Flat Enamel Paint per the recommendation that it is completely scrub-able. I am really pleased with how it turned out!! {P.S. I got the scrub-able tip from the interior design blog Urban Grace. If you don't know about it, you should check it out...it's my favorite!}

It's a really light gray with more of a green undertone than a blue. I think that will complement nicely with all the blues that will be going in the room.

To be honest, painting the room was a daunting task. It was something that I really wanted to do. As I talked about before, I want to actively move forward in completing his room, but I was overwhelmed to get started, afraid of the rush of emotions I knew would come. So, after several mornings of saying I was going to do it, I decided to jump in & start at 11:00 pm Monday night! That's right, P.M.!! For some reason, it just seemed easier to tackle at night. I put on some worship music & pretended I was on Ethiopian time {they are 8 hrs ahead.:)} It turned out to be a sweet time of prayer, & of course some tears, but I was happy to get a chance to feel connected to bringing my son home.

On another note, we got 5 new pictures of our little man this week. I wish so badly I could share them with you all!! {Maybe someone can share with me how to do those little hearts over the faces?? Not sure if that's even worth it as far as seeing him, but maybe I'll play around with it & see.} Trust me though, he is super cute!! ;) His hair is thickening & the curls are coming in...it was pretty much board straight for the first 6 months. He has the biggest round brown eyes & the greatest facial expressions! Even though we also found out he has a viral infection in his lungs & ears, he is still big smiles like he has been since he's been at Hannah's Hope! We really are so lucky that he is cared for so well. Of course I zoomed in on every square inch of the pictures, & I do believe he is about to have at least one bottom tooth come through. He was drooling & chewing a lot when we were there back in August, & now his bottom gum is a bright light pink right in the middle. It stands out really well against the purply pink of the rest of his little gums. :) There was a family that traveled this past weekend for their court date who took pictures & asked some questions for us...looking forward to getting an update from her next week!

Thank you for keeping us in your thoughts & prayers! I know the business of life, so each thought & prayer genuinely means so much to us.

Hope you all have a great weekend!! We'll be celebrating my dad who turned 60 yesterday!!!

Notice any resemblance?? ;)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

We got an email today with a note from our in-country director. MOWA is still stating that they won't approve our cases until the southern region releases them. It's been 2 weeks since the one family in our group got their written decree from the judge. The note confirmed that the judge is saying that she will eventually approve all the cases where both the birth & adoptive families have given consent before the orphanages were closed, but she is in training & not reviewing cases right now. So, our director is hoping that in the next few weeks the judge will be back to work completely & things will start moving more. Almaz is waiting on the judge to issue her decree so that she can have something tangible to use with MOWA.

This is a very tough spot for all of the families involved. Every single morning we wake up wondering what the day might hold...either (a) hear that we have the judge's decree but still left with tons of questions on timing & validity on whether our adoptions can still really take place; (b) hear that MOWA has decided to write our letters & actually have a clue about when we can bring our babies home; (c) hear that our children were in fact taken back to the south & try to figure out where to go from there; (d) hear that the whole adoption is going to fall through; or (e) hear that there's no news to report & repeat all this the next day. That is A LOT to process over & over every. single. day. The best way I know to describe it is that I feel like my life is paralyzed.

Where is Wonder Woman when you need her??! :)

Seriously, though, I do want to praise God... after learning more about what is going on with cases from the southern region & hearing more stories of other families with referrals who had not made it to court yet {mostly from other agencies,} it is becoming even more apparent how crucial it was that we made it to court when we did. That 'miracle of miracles' the Lord blessed us with is our saving grace right now. It has put us in the position where we still have a chance to bring our little man home, & it continues to be a constant reminder of Hope & answered prayers. Praise be to the Father!!!

Friday, September 30, 2011

One More Stone...

This week we found out that the judge has agreed to go ahead & give us a written decree despite not having our MOWA letter yet. This is very unprecedented - a huge praise! Our agency thinks that this will keep the southern government from having jurisdiction over our kiddos, so therefore, no claims to take them back! One of the families (there are 5 in our same predicament from our agency) received their decree on Tuesday. I was hoping to be able to announce our decree this week too, but we haven't heard anything on our specific case yet. Our agency feels for sure it is coming though - please pray for peace & patience for us & the other families that are waiting daily for new news.

As far as MOWA goes, they have not changed their position to our knowledge. We continue to hope that once they see the judge moving on our behalf, they will follow suit. This seems to be still really complicated, & I don't really understand what all is going on with this part yet. Although, I do know that it has the possibility of holding us up for a long time. Please, please pray against this!! Another one of the families involved said they are being bold & praying for our little ones to be home by Halloween. ...This is actually the timing Matt & I had thought would be possible when we first left for Addis Ababa on Aug. 2. So, when she said that I thought, why would I not keep asking for that myself?:) Will you join me?? It would take several miracles, but I think He's getting us use to asking for those! ;)

THANK YOU so much!!! Honestly, every single intercession means the world to us.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Latest

*Updated*

Yesterday we found out that the rumors are true, the judge is back in office, although the courts don't officially open until October 12. This is a huge praise! As our agency's email stated, the Lord is moving mountains one stone at a time. Even though we have the judge's verbal consent, our director is going to try to get her to put her consent in writing so that we have a little more clout regarding our custody. Our hope is also that the judge will help convince MOWA to review our cases because regardless of anything the judge does we will have to have their approval before our case can be finalized.

We also found out this week that there is no specific "check list" of names that the SNNPR has of kids that they are looking for. This has helped us to rest a little easier; yet, we are anxious each day to get an email from our agency letting us know our babies are still there.

A friend traveled to pick up her baby & sent us new pictures of the T-man. He is getting so big! I wish so badly I could show them to y'all. He has quite the facial expressions. ;) His curls are coming in, & they think he is going to crawl soon...I really hope I can be there to see that!

I know this post is so rambly; I apologize...my thoughts are all over the place these days. ;) Will you just continue to pray for the children being affected by this? {We actually have "met" a family from a different agency whose 5 year old referral was taken. They haven't been able to find out any information on where she is or what is to happen to her.} Please continue to pray for our Protector to keep watch over our 5 babies at Hannah's Hope. Lastly, we are praying that the federal judge will be willing & able to help push our cases through. *This last sentence has been bothering me since i wrote it... you see, i do pray this for myself, but then i immediately confess to the Lord that i am selfish. i tell Him that i love this little boy so much that i only want what is best for him even if that does not mean me. it breaks my heart to say that, tears are filling my eyes, but it is the Truth. so, what i want to ask you to do {& i am only speaking for myself, & the the little man i do consider to be my son} is to pray that the Lord's best will be carried out in his precious life. i cannot pretend to know what that may be.

God guards you from every evil, he guards your very life. He guards you when you leave & when you return, he guards you now, he guards you always. Psalms 121:7-8 MSG

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Needing Prayers!

Dear Friends,

On Thursday we were contacted by our agency with some very bad news. We are writing this post to ask that you, your family and friends send a prayer or a good thought (if you're not the praying type) out for our son and all the children from the South whose adoptions have been "on hold" due to the orphanage closures in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People's Region of Ethiopia (SNNPR).

Those of us with children from the South (5 total) were contacted by AGCI, our agency, with troubling news. A few days ago, two government officials from the South arrived at Bethzatha Children's Home in Addis Ababa, where our son came from and removed approximately 38 children. According to the officials, these children (one of them an AGCI child, that had not had court yet) are being taken back to Awassa (the capital city in the South), where their birth families will be offered financial assistance (one time payment or lifelong aid???) should they choose to care for the children.

Should they decline, the children will be placed in one of three orphanages in the South, where they will start all over the process of possibly being adopted through whatever agencies work with those three orphanages. There is even a real possibility that they will never be available for adoption again and live out their lives in an orphanage.

At this time, our transitional orphanage director is desperately making the case to anyone with government authority who will listen that children whose families (birth & adoptive) that have already been to court and testified their approval & desire for these children to be adopted must not be removed from our transitional orphanage. We have no guarantee that that won't happen. It is a very real possibility that, because MOWA has not yet issued our approval letters & the courts are closed and unable to issue our decrees, the Southern government officials may return and demand to take our 5 children. We were told that most likely this will happen. We are not sure how they have legal authority to do this, but know that the Southern Region in Ethiopia is like a "state" would be within the United States, they make their own laws in their region.

Because our Father has showed us the power of laying our desires at his feet, it is our hope that prayer can change the hearts that are in power there. We are asking you all to pray like you've never prayed before for our children. Please ask God to place a hedge of protection around them, and should they be taken, that he would somehow shield them from the additional trauma this will bring into their lives. Please pray for our director, Almaz, who is an amazing advocate for all Ethiopian children, as well as the rest of the staff at Hannah's Hope. We have heard rumors that the federal judge who ruled over our case is returning back to work early (the courts are still closed due to rainy season,) so please pray that we will find favor from her & that she will have the power needed to fight this injustice. We have no idea what will happen next, but hope that an army of prayer warriors will join us in asking God to act in defense of these children. ...And that he would give us the strength to bear the pain of unspeakable loss should our worst fears be realized.

MUCH, MUCH appreciation goes out to all of you!! We love our little man more than words can say, & the thought of what may happen to him {& honestly, ANY child caught up in this mess} is devestating.

In love & gratitude,
Matt & Amelia

****as matt & i were just praying, i have on my heart to ask you please do not let this situation taint your opinion on Ethiopia as a whole. we love this country, & we LOVE the Ethiopian people. As with most places in the world, they have a struggling national government without a strong line of power or jusristdiction. So with varying internal opinions on international adoption within regional {like states} & national governments & outside influences to boot, injustices such as this are able to come into play without much of the nation even knowing. With all that is said above, please be sure that the people of this beautiful country are a loving & welcoming people who very much want the best for their children.****

Monday, August 29, 2011

A Smattering of News

The most popular question we get is "is there any news." The short answer is no. The meeting that we were told was going to take place never did. The idea was to approach MOWA directly instead, & so far we still have not heard of such a meeting. Yet, our case manager told us last Thursday that an American adoption network is going to have a meeting in ET. That's the reality of the news we get- very vague & translates into nothing tangible. We have no idea who the meeting is going to be with, when it is supposed to take place, etc. We know God is big & our prayer doesn't change - we pray that God will bring unity to the situation so that by the time the court opens back up in mid-October, we can have our MOWA approval letter there & be passed to the U.S. Embassy part of the process. To be completely frank though, the potential of that happening is just as equal as the potential that the Southern Regional Government shuts down adoptions from their area for good. Not that anyone thinks that is going to happen, it is, however, the realness of the complication of the matter. Our case manager told me it was best to not expect any definite news on whether or not MOWA would review our cases until the courts reopen. I don't want to come off as a 'debbie downer' because we do have hope despite this. The Lord was sweet to me, & reminded me of a favorite childhood hymn last Sunday at my grandmother's church & I have been clinging to it ever since...Standing on the Promises of God:
	Standing on the promises of Christ my King,
through eternal ages let his praises ring;
glory in the highest, I will shout and sing,
standing on the promises of God.
Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
when the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
by the living Word of God I shall prevail,
standing on the promises of God.
Standing on the promises of Christ the Lord,
bound to him eternally by love's strong cord,
overcoming daily with the Spirit's sword,
standing on the promises of God.
Standing on the promises I cannot fall,
listening every moment to the Spirit's call,
resting in my Savior as my all in all,
standing on the promises of God.  	
We are also blessed with a very caring director of our transition home. She sent us {the families that are being effected by the freeze on the Southern region} a sweet note 2 weeks ago to let us know that everyday she is on the phone trying to figure out what is going on & fighting for our cases. She told us that everyday she is personally sitting down with our children, telling them how much their mommies & daddies love them... i cannot begin to tell you how much this means! As promised, she sent us a special update last week. While I can't show the pictures, I will brag a little & tell you what she said about Little Man. :)
Our sweetest spirit & with grown up soul baby. He is growing & doing so well. He laughs & smiles all of the time. He loves his food & loves being held & intensely listens & looks at your face.
This just makes me smile...he is the perfect combination of Matt & me...LOVE :)

Also on the news front, I have decided to pursue actual completion of the nursery. I've been doing bits here & there for the last year, but I haven't really worked toward any sort of completion. I've had this huge fear {there's still some left} that I'll have a room that's ready with no sign of my baby coming home, then will have to look at a finished room day after day. I came to the realization last week that I may be holding on to this fear a little strongly. So, I had a talk with the Lord & told Him I would let go & step out in faith a little farther. To be clear, I am still in no big hurry but do think moving forward is the right thing to do for now.

Ready for a sneak peak?? This is a project I completed last spring with some BIG help from a great friend & her gracious client! ;) Matt's grandmother's couch had been sitting in a spare room at his mom's house for a while. I have always had my eye on it, so when I first started thinking about the nursery, it immediately came to mind! It was actually a great fun, retro print, & if had known we were going to get a girl, I might have worked around it. Instead, I wound up painting, recushioning, & reupholstering it.
The Before
{you are actually getting a bonus sneak peak of the fabric I fell in love with ;)}

The After...well need to touch up some of the paint!
{picture lots of fun pillows ;) also, disregard the wall design...we haven't painted yet!}

My Favorite Part
{apparently you are supposed to sign & date a piece when you reupholster it....so, i wrote a little note with mine...actually, i wrote 2 notes because i forgot to take a picture of the 1st one! :)}

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Pictures

Because all I can do is keep going back over the pictures that we took, I thought I might as well share the ones I can here. :) {we are not allowed to share his face publicly yet.} I hope you enjoy!!


The view outside our hotel window. Our hotel, the Riviera, was located on the outside of Addis Ababa {ET's capital} very close to our transition home. You can see some bigger buildings in the background.

Matt & I at the gates of Hannah's Hope, our agency's transition home.

The baby building. They run a VERY clean ship! You can see the mattresses, boppies, toys, etc. that are have been washed & laying out to dry.

Our little man was asleep when we got there on Wednesday to meet him. Ethiopians like to make sure their babies are warm- all the babies are completely covered {faces & all} when they are napping. :)

The babies play downstairs in a large room during the day while the upstairs rooms are being cleaned. They sleep in moses baskets...it's hard to tell, but there's a little one asleep in the first basket!

Upstairs are 3 bedrooms, each with their own bath. Around 3, all the babies are moved upstairs for bath time, bottles, & naps. {meanwhile, the downstairs is cleaned. :)} This is T's crib. You can see our photo album we left for him on the side.

Matt is giving T a bottle here. He's got some LONG legs!! He kept wrapping them around Matt's arm...so sweet!

A close up...LOVE!! T's mostly long & lean, but it cracked me up that he's got fat rolls on his knees! Plus, his little hands have formula in the cracks of his fingers. I could literally stare at this one picture all. day. long.

Another sweet picture I thought. ;)

Little Man rolling over...for the most part on his own ;)

Matt & I had dear friends that are adopting through another agency in town the same week for their court date. Here, we had gone out to dinner with them at Top View on our last full night there. Mollie, I am kicking myself that we didn't get a picture together! :(

Monday, August 8, 2011

Update

We had an awesome time in Ethiopia with our son! I will post some pictures that I can soon, but wanted to write an update on where we are at.

On Friday morning, we were called back in front of the judge & after a few questions {we were with a group of 2 other families,} she told us that we approved pending our MOWA letter. We were thrilled! That afternoon, however, we found out some hard news. There have been several orphanages closed within the Southern region of ET, where our little guy is from. This is a large area, & without getting too technical & detailed, no one is really sure why the particular places are being shut down by the regional government. However, MOWA has decided to hold off on issuing any decisions on cases coming from the Southern region until all matters are resolved within the regional government & orphanages. We have no idea what this exactly entails or how long it might take.

There is a meeting tonight {Tuesday there} with several organizations lobbying for MOWA to go ahead & review cases like ours that have already passed court. These cases already have all their i's dotted & t's crossed, only lacking their approval letter from MOWA before moving on to getting VISAs for children to go home. Please join me in praying that this meeting is successful!!

{Just to be clear, the orphanage our lil man came from before he was brought to Addis Ababa was not one of the places closed. This is a region wide hold that is going on despite individual case circumstances. It is very sad for all kids involved! While my baby is in a transition home with lots of love & private resources, other kids are now stuck in government run orphanages with minimal resources. I'm praying it all is resolved soon for the best of everyone!}

The Lord is Mighty, & I rest in the Promises that He as already shown me! :)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

We Got a COURT DATE!!!!

I woke up this morning thinking, "today could be the day...Lord, please let today be the day." & that's what I prayed all morning long, "Lord, please let us get a court date today." I have been wrecked these last few days longing more than ever to meet & be with my son. After I ate lunch, I started to read for my class...got up & decided to get on my knees to pray. I prayed that God would make my heart in line with His will so that I would want what would most glorify Him. I told Him how much I longed for my son & told Him that I was still so sorry for not stepping out in faith before now. I got back up, sat down in my seat to start reading, & the phone rang...literally just like that boom, boom, boom! I couldn't even talk when Brandi told us we had our court date! {I had just sent Brandi an email yesterday having to deal with a conference call we were supposed to schedule & told her I was still holding out hope to get a court date before the closures, so she knew God was answering my prayer...so, so, so cool!}
Our court date is Aug 5th where we will go before the judge. The birth family will go on Aug 1...please hold both of these dates in your hearts & pray that things will go smoothly. We most likely will not have our MOWA approval letter & not sure how that will work out with the rainy season {whether or not MOWA will be reviewing cases during this time,} but our judge should clear us pending our approval letter. Then, once we get the approval letter, they'll send our case to the U.S. Embassy to get in line for a VISA.
Thanks everyone for praying!!! We are elated to say the least! I just want to hold my son! I'll deal with the rest later :)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Life Lessons & Prayers

well, i'm being brave & sharing an email on here that i just sent out to my lovely community group girlfriends. i'm sharing here because (1) i seem to remember being in a similar place on here before with y'all :) (2) we need all the prayers we can get! (3) - most importantly- To God Be The Glory!

Hi friends!
I wanted to email you all to in part confess & share one of my main life lessons I am relearning, & then to ask for your prayers. Last night we found out that a family that got their referral a week before us got assigned a court date for Aug. 1. {let me back track & also tell you that we have learned this week that the court closing isn’t systemized – like all things in ET - & usually occurs within the 1st & 2nd weeks of August but varies from year to year on exactly when.} With that news, we have a renewed sense of hope that we could actually get to court before the rainy season!

I then began to research to see how many families were between the family that got assigned & us {not that it even really matters bc again, no systems in ET} & was lead to a blog of one of those families. After reading their referral story, the Lord really convicted me of how I am putting him in a box. This is a lesson that I am learning over & over in this adoption. You see, in adoption {at least for me} I think you try to manage your expectations to keep from getting heart broken over & over. Brokenness came for me in March when I figured out that we weren’t going to get our referral when I expected, & I had even been preparing myself for the possibility of brokenness to come again if we don’t get him home by the end of the year. However, in that “managing expectation” mode, I had began to loose faith in what the Lord will do...not what He can do, but what He would do for Matt & me & our family. It brings tears to my eyes because I know the Lord loves me & I know He knows the desires of my heart, but I decided to only ask Him for what is a “reasonable” miracle. I think I even told a few people that it would be a miracle beyond miracles if we made it to court before rainy season & that we would be doing great if we made it to court in Oct. So that’s what I denounced my God to, getting me to court in Oct & never even considering asking to get in before the closure.

I looked up some verses last night & came upon Job 17:11-15 with v. 15 being “where then is my hope- who can see any hope for me.” This one cut me deep...what kind of witness am I being if I, “the believer,” don’t even have enough hope to ask for the hard stuff?? What an amazing testimony would that be if the Lord did get us in before the closure?!

So, here is what I’m asking of you all, my beloved friends. Will you please join us in praying for us to get a court date before the August closure? The Lord is good regardless of when we go, but He has called us to ask {Matt 7:11- "If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"} {side note - the last time Matt & I asked our CG to pray with us back in March when we were broken, it turned out to be the evening before our little man was born!}

Much love & much gratitude,
Amelia

Thursday, June 30, 2011

It's a BOY!!!

I came down with a bad stomach bug on Monday, so I'm just now getting a chance to make this news blog official. :) Late last Thursday afternoon/evening {after a 375 days of waiting} we were matched with a 3.5 month old little boy!!! I was actually in Benton to help my mom with a procedure she was having that morning. After getting up at 4:00 AM, I was taking a nap when our case manager, Brandi, tried to call me & didn't hear my phone ring. She then tried to call Matt, who was in a meeting, & couldn't get a hold of him either. Bless her heart, she had to resort to emailing us that she had "something to chat with us about." Matt got the email when he got back to his desk, called me on my mom's cell {which is loud enough for the world to hear:),} & Brandi conferenced called us while Matt was seriously driving 90 mph to get home to our computer! It was a whirlwind of a time...a little like being in the delivery room meeting your child for the first time without his daddy by your side...but at the same time, the Lord used it to brighten my mom's day & for that I am grateful! I drove back late that night so that Matt & I could get a move on all the paperwork that we needed to fill out to "officially" accept our little man & GET HIM HOME! :)

We are not allowed to post anything about our referrals out of their protection, but I will tell you that we are truly in love. I love everything about this lil guy: the things we know about his personality, his cheeks, his eyes, his skin...you name it! This is one of the ways I believe adoption is such a testament to God & His glory- we love because Christ first loved us {1 John 4:19.}

Yet, now that I have met our miracle & felt God's grace, I am even more anxious about this next phase of our journey. We have no idea how long it will take to get our baby home. Before all the changes in Ethiopia, the standard time from referral to home was 4-7 months. It is undoubtedly longer than that now; plus, add in rainy season where their courts are closed in August & September. Why is it so easy for us to know the faithfulness of His hands, have our prayers answered, & then immediately struggle once the next hurdle comes? Lord, I am weak but trust in Your Purpose. I do not want to miss out on these days with my son. Even more Lord, I don't want my son to miss these days. I pray that you will help us both holdfast to the days to come.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

We made it!

To what, you may ask?? To being #1! ;) Our June numbers are:

#1 for boys
#8 for girls

This means we are THE first in line for the next baby boy ready for referral!!!!! Now, this could be today, tomorrow, in 2 weeks, in a month; there's no way of knowing, but we are rejoicing over our new placement!

I wanted to capture a few thoughts I had this morning on our waiting. I by no means pretend to know the Lord's intentions, yet I can see that He is using this time for our betterment in several ways. Matt & I have been relishing our time together, especially these last few months. Just simple things like spur of the moment float trip on the Kings, bike rides at night, lounging on the couch watching TV/movies {which reminds me I should really do a post on thoughts I've been having about that as well...}, etc. We know that we have a relatively simple life & that our time can be devoted to each other without the distractions of a munchkin to take care of. As I was making the bed this morning, I honestly just felt the need to praise God for the ability to genuinely enjoy these opportunities. Back in March/April I'm not so sure I could have...thankfully Matt wasn't available then anyway! ;)

This time as also forced me to think about my time, i.e. what to do with it. The Lord has me at a place where my current work load is dwindling. Back last winter, I found out that Ginny {who owns the jewelry biz I run/ran} was going to be adopting & thought it best to take a break early summer in order to get their little girl & build their new family. At the time, it seemed perfect. I would be close to having my little one home as well & would need the time to finish getting ready too. Then came March 8th & where we are now. Addition is officially on break, & I am no where near having baby home. So, long story short, the thought of grad school kept popping in my head. I'm starting a class next month - an African history class! I am super excited not only to be learning again, but to be learning about my child's heritage. I think this will be an invaluable use of my time as I wait to get my "little man" {starting to allow myself to go there now :)} home. I enrolled as a non-degree seeking grad student, but the thought is to pursue a history {or similar} degree in order to teach part time on the college level. I would only need 30 hours & have 6 years, so I'll be taking my time. :) I in no way want to make my family any less of a priority than it should be, thus this is just a plan & we'll see how it goes. I've been praying over this decision & will continue, but God has been faithful. For example, the professor that is teaching the Africa Today course has good friends that also adopted from Ethiopia, is considering adopting herself at some point, & was excited for me to enroll! You just can dismiss little details like these. :)

Last, but not least, I want to ask you to join me in praying for my friend, Ginny. You can see her blog {Orbit of the Mooney's} on the blog roll to the side & get more details. Basically though, they have a tremendous opportunity to hit a window to pick up their little girl, Lena, by the end of this week! Lena is a special needs orphan in the Ukraine that is about to age out of the orphanage, meanwhile, the Ukraine is changing their adoption procedure. In order to get Lena home at the earliest time, the Mooney's need to be able to have their adoption papers go through before the July freeze! They should find out on Thursday & could be leaving as early as Friday! Will you please join me in praying (1) that the timing will work out & they will get through before the Ukrainian changes take place (2) for her family {there are 2 little ones home} as Matt & Ginny travel. Thanks!!! I don't have much time to go into all the reasons we love the Mooney's & Lena, but trust me in that your prayers will be coveted.


Friday, May 20, 2011

May Numbers

#4 for boys
#8 for girls

I had a long conversation with my case manager last Thursday night. It was encouraging to hear that even though our agency is recognizing that there may be significant delays ahead, they have not seen any yet. This includes cases that have been referred before & AFTER the new March 8th announcement. We are so very thankful for this movement, but we're still in the boat of "you just have to wait & see" how things continue to play out. There are several families from our agency that are going to Ethiopian court in the next several weeks. Please be in prayer for them - that all of their paperwork will be ready {including the all important MOWA approval letter} & they pass. AGCI thinks the way these cases go will be very telling in predicting future timing.

Sorry for the delay in getting out the May update...blogger wasn't working last Friday morning when I tried. Plus, I had to jet off to see these little girls in action:
They had their dance recital & did a tap dance to 'We are Siamese' from Lady & the Tramp. It was precious! We also celebrated my mom's birthday & went to Old Folks Singing on Sunday {...if only I had thought to take pics...OFS deserves a whole post for itself!} Anyway, here's a few more pictures from the recital:
Pretty girl!!
P.S. Those are chopsticks in their buns ;-)

Asked her to sit on the steps so I could take a picture, & this is what I got! HAM!!!

Look at Olivia's face...makes me laugh every time!

Meet Kati Morrow. I nannied for her the summer she & her twin brother were born. I'm old! Just another set of children {along with their ornery older brother :)} that I consider "mine."

Love this picture of my mom & Grace.

& can't forget about this cutie!! I am blessed :)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Happy 5th!!


Five years ago today, I married this guy, & my life has not been the same since. :)


Have I mentioned that I grew up in a house full of girls? Needless to say, the most adjustment to marriage was figuring out how to live with a boy...oh, the stories I could tell ; )


I love this man. The Lord knew what He was doing when He created him for me; he compliments me so. Matt's patient & laid back...I am a perfectionist. Matt is fun loving & can easily relax...I am a planner & have a constant "to-do" list running in my head. Matt likes to be funny...I laugh at anything. Matt is a starter...I am a finisher. Matt loves the Lord & recognizes his constant need for saving...I do too. We are not a perfect couple, but we realize God ordained our marriage so that He can have glory & He uses us to refine each other.


It has been amazing to see how instrumental our complimentary personalities have been/still are in our adoption process. When we started the process in January {2010,} the paperwork was overwhelming. We were using 2 different agencies, 1 for our homestudy & 1 for everything else, so we had things to go through for our homestudy to make sure it complied with both agencies, paperwork to put together for our dossier, plus a ton of education materials to complete. I became paralyzed every time I even thought about where to start. As Matt noticed this, he began to quietly work on things- he sent off for all the official paperwork we needed from the state, drafted his biography, etc. It gave me time to sort through all the details in my head & get a grip on all of it. By the time tax season came into swing mid-February, I was ready to take charge {& have been point person ever since.} While details get me bogged down & at a loss to start sometimes, Matt is enough removed where he can just jump on in. On the other hand, it is sometimes the details, especially in this process, that make you successful upon completion...& this is where my personality comes into play.


There is no other person I would rather have by my side as I wait to bring home my little one. He reminds me to be patient as he listens to me on the days the unkowns are too much for this planner, & he's good to keep me grounded when I start going down the "what-ifs." There are times that I would rather not have to remind him that I'm trying to be serious, but the fact that Matt can always make me laugh is a true gift from God. In fact, there is a list that I made in a high school Bible study of characteristics I would want in a husband & "sense of humor" is one of the tops. :)

May the God who gives endurance & encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart & mouth you may glorify the God & Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. Romans 15:5-7

Thank you, Father, for this happy day!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

April Numbers

We got our April Numbers last night!! We're...

#11 on the girls list
#5 on the BOY list

We are getting so close to a referral! & I do believe we just might end up with a BOY! :)

Not much time, but just wanted to update on the news! Please join us in thanking our Saviour for this movement!

How 'bout we celebrate with a little Single Ladies? :)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Feeling a Little Lonely

Ok, first of all, I am cracking up. I've found that there are some more readers that I didn't know about...I don't know how you all find me {because I've purposely haven't really "announced" that I even have a blog,} but I'm glad you did! :) Also, I'm laughing at myself as I look at my poor side bar with the blog roll. I can promise you that I check in on more than just those! The ones listed are from when Matt first designed the blog, & I'm sure they are the only ones he knew to put there. I want to update with it more blogs but don't really know how. I'm sure I could figure it out relatively easy- it just takes me so darn long to actually write a post that I keep thinking, "i'll get matt to do that later." :)

In comes the loneliness & the "later"... Matt is a CPA tax accountant, so isn't home much these days. By this time most busy seasons, I've gotten used to being home alone & start to kinda like it...you know, watching the things on tv that i want to, doing projects & reading, eating dinner with girlfriends, etc. Apparently, I didn't plan very well this year. I am coming off of a fun-filled month of seeing friends & family, so now I'm a little sad that I'm back to being by myself. {Let's not forget to mention that I have a child weighing heavily on my heart that I have no idea when I'll get to bring home. :( } Before you get to feeling too sorry for me, let's also remind ourselves that Matt's actually the one doing the work! {Is it sad that I have to constantly put that thought in my head?! :)}

I want to share some of the fun I had last month with you all.

The first week of March, I tagged along with a friend's little sister {Katie, who has also become a friend in her own right :)} to go visit Jessica & her family in Norman, OK. This is one of my nearest & dearest. I don't get to see her near enough, so to say the least, I had a GREAT time! Jess & I got out on our own for a bit, & she took me to the neatest little boutique where I found this:
It's a new line of purses & bags from Fossil, & I'm going to use it for a baby bag!!! {Jessica, who is about to be the mother of 3 in a few short weeks, graciously helped me think through & confirm that it would work.}

Next stop in my March travels was home to Benton for 5 days. I had been trying to get home since February to see everyone & celebrate my birthday, so it was long overdue!! First stop, surprising these chicas from MDO & making a Sonic run.
These are my darling nieces! {I am sure my sisters are going to kill me because this picture doesn't show half their cuteness!} Anyway, I spent most of the time seeing family, saw a few friends {had to meet one's brand new baby!}, & snuck in a day at the races with my dad!

I brought my mom back to Fayetteville with me for her spring break. We had lots of fun running around looking for nursery things. We found some fabrics that are options for a crib skirt, fabric for curtains {on sale!!}, & a paint color for the walls. There are some things you just need your mom for, & these are some of them!

Heather {my oldest sister} came up for the weekend to hang out, work on taxes, & take Mom home. For those of you who don't know, Heather has twin girls, Grace Amelia & Olivia Lauren, who are 5. Let me just say that I was very entertained the whole weekend! There were modeling shows as the girls tried on outfits while we were shopping {seriously, they would walk a "runway," pose at the end, & my mom would pretend to take a picture of them!} Then, there was the "play" Olivia wrote & directed & the singing concerts the girls gave. Matt took some video from his phone of the girls singing:


This one is a little dark at first, but their passion is precious, I had to share!
video

We turned on the lamp! :) Also, please note the balloon art...Aunt Millie decided they needed a treat after shopping! ;)
video
There's a video of them singing & dancing to the 'All the Single Ladies' {the Chipette (sp?) version} that was too big for Matt to email me. He said he could put it on YouTube to upload, so maybe next time because honestly it's the best!

I'm also sad because THIS one turned 3!!! She is Blaire, & I had to miss her party! :( {I know the pic is super pixilated. I stole it off of Lauren's facebook page. Isn't she the cutest?! Had to use it regardless of the quality!} Is it obvious that none of my nieces lack for confidence? ;)

Hope to be back soon with new numbers for April!!

Monday, March 14, 2011

March Numbers - Worthy of Praise

Our March numbers have been late in coming... For the 5 people who read this blog ;), you've probably heard directly from us the news on the Ethiopian adoption front. In case not, I'll give a quick run down. MOWA who is in charge of reviewing all international adoption case in Ethiopia, decided it best to decrease their daily case flow due to a lack in staffing & to help guard against any corruption. From what I understand {feel like I need to caveat because I sometimes think I know better than I really do, ;)} they review the cases to make sure everything about the case checks out fine. If so, they "approve" it, & pass their ruling on to the Ethiopian court who makes the final judgement of whether or not you can adopt your child.

No MOWA approval = No court approval = No taking your baby home anytime soon :(

The unfortunate thing is that it was a drastic reduction from reviewing 40-50 cases a day (worldwide) to 5; thus, basically decreasing the amount of approvals made, some have said, up to 90% a year. Obviously this is a huge deal, but I don't want to speculate on it too much because the implications have yet to be figured out. And, that's the point. Our poor, sweet agency has been working overtime to get answers & help encourage a change where it can, that they have had to delay getting out updates on referral numbers.

Ok, ready??

#16 for girls
#10 for boys

We are THRILLED beyond words for this movement!!

Are you ready for some MORE good news? We got our letter today from Show Hope, Stephen Curtis Chapman's amazing orphan care organization. We got approved for a grant to cover some of our adoption costs!!! The Lord is so good, & we are so thankful! I was about to write that I haven't been that worried about the finances, just trusting in God for His provision, but that's a lie really. While I have been confident that the Lord would make it work for us to afford to adopt, I've been stressed at times at how we were going to afford everything else that comes along with having a baby. Of course He'll cover the adoption, that was His will for us. {Speaking of, I have another blog post that I have thought about doing telling that story. Someone of the 5, hold me to that because we all can see how great I am at posting! Ha!} However, the hard part comes when it's time to trust God with the "extra" desires of my heart. Is it merited that I want a reasonably cute nursery? Will the Lord provide for that AND formula & diapers?? I have to continuously remind myself to release all of the desires of my heart to the Father. Let me be clear, I struggle with the answer to these questions, but what I do know is that He is GOOD whether any of my desires are met or not. Yet, I believe He is our Father, & He wants us to trust him with those thoughts, which He already knows anyway. :) So, thank you, Lord, for your provision in this way. It reminds me first & foremost to give You the glory & secondly that my faith needs to be bigger.

BTW, I know I glossed over the MOWA delay above, but in all honesty last week was a REALLY hard week. I just felt so lost in it all - hurting for my child & the other children over there that would be left in injustice by the longer wait times & confused with how the Lord is shaping my days in the meantime. Someone tweeted out the verses Psalms 68:5-6a:
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families
I have been clinging to that & to other Promises, realizing that God loves these children more that I can ever imagine to love them so He has to have a bigger picture/better plan with all of this. After spending time praying through these verses, I am resting easier in Him & His control. {Also, for all of you praying, KEEP IT UP! There's a rumor that MOWA is considering increasing to 20 cases a day!! Still less than half of what they were doing, but MUCH better than 5!}

See what I mean? He IS Worthy of Praise!

Friday, February 11, 2011

I'm Back

Well, I'm back for another post. After getting busy with work & holidays...& thinking that no one really knows about/reads our blog, I'm now taking advantage of the snow (all 17" of it!)

A few reasons for coming back: 1) a few people have mentioned that they actually check it. {Hi, especially to Julie- Matt & I miss running into you guys on the SEC circuit!} 2) I do think it's important to record our movement. I know that each month the growth is Purposeful, & it's my hope that one day we can look back with our child & God will kindly allow us to see the story being unfolded on both sides of the globe.

So, on to the numbers...

In Nov, we had another HUGE jump.
18 for boys
37 for girls
In fact, we got spoiled & a little big for our britches, thinking it was confirmation we would get our referral by March as we were hoping.

In Dec, back to reality.
18 for boys (that's right, no movement)
32 for girls
To be honest, it was a hard Christmas. It was hard to swallow that there wasn't at least ONE boy referral that went out that month. Plus, the closer we get to March {the month we- or at least me :)- were holding out hopes to get our referral,} the more "we" have had to swallow that that's more than likely NOT the case. I know I keep saying it; I honestly do mean it with ALL of my heart, mind, & soul, the timing is His Timing...it is Good, Perfect, Purposeful, & I truly believe it makes us the happiest...even in these moments. But, I cannot describe the loneliness there is while you wait. With that said, the Lord sweetly reminded me of the birth mom in this Christmas month. While I may be facing some hardships these few months, this courageous woman will know a lifetime of loneliness, wondering, & longing. Perspective is always helpful!

In Jan, back to the normal.
15 for boys
27 for girls

Feb. Again not much movement.
15 for boys
25 for girls

Now that you're all caught up, the big question in our household is: Will the girls catch up with the boys??

Speaking of girls, there's been lots of questions about hair! The Lord & I have had our own talks on this subject too. :) It's one of the biggest barriers between our cultures, & thinking about it, can make me nervous about being a mom to the little Ethiopian cutie! Boy or girl, there will be lots of new things to learn. Therefore, I'm posting a link once again to the We Love our Lucy blog. Kristi did a whole post on tips & products she uses on her little girls & has asked others to leave comments with their own suggestions. I know I'll need this resource later. Plus, I thought that it may help answer some questions of friends & family who are just as curious (& clueless) as me! :)