Friday, March 21, 2014

High Five for Friday!

Can you believe it's finally Spring? It felt like it would never come, and I'm oh so happy it has! Here are my top 5 moments for the week!

1. SPRING! It's finally Spring! It's time to keep the windows open, eat brats from the grill, and sandals! Spring is such a wonderful time of freshness and regrowth. We're looking forward to what it brings.

2. I'm in Missiouri visiting my sister-in-law and niece this weekend. My sister-in-law, Hattie, is due with their second child in a few weeks, so we wanted to spend some time together in the little time that remains before she's a mother of two. My niece, Sofia, is just over two and is so much fun to hang out with. She's always doing something different than she was the last time I was here. The weather is even nicer down here too. I think we're planning on doing some tie-dye while I'm here this weekend.

3. We had a meeting with our pastor on Sunday to discuss his adoption from Ethiopia a few years back. It was great to finally talk with him (we'd been having scheduling conflicts for a while now), and learn more about his process. While we don't really have specific questions for families who have adopted, but it helps to know how their process went. I think it's maybe like when someone is pregnant, no one ever has the exact same experience. And obviously this is not a pregnancy, but I feel like I can compare it. Who knows, maybe I can't.

4. We had another meeting with Bethany this week. I think we may have honed down on Uganda, but it's not for sure yet. We had some additional questions for the staff there, but they also like to know the couple adopting really well, so we also met some other members of the staff. They have been very helpful and encourage us to ask as many questions as possible. Bethany provides us with a portal that all employees can see. We have specific people that we're working with at Global (their HQ is located in Grand Rapids, MI) and also a local employee that helps us. So if we ask a question, it's open to anyone who can give us the best answers.

5. Adam and I are moving some stuff along on our house, too! It's just me visiting Hattie and Sofia, so he's at home doing some major work. I'm hoping there is some paint on the walls when I get back. (A girl can dream, right?)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Country Decisions

Adam and I are currently in the process of deciding which country to adopt from. While we did feel called to adopt from Africa, we never really knew if we had a direct sign of where to adopt from. When we started the process with IAG, they worked only in Ethiopia. So that made things easier. However, now that we're working with Bethany, and got approved for Ethiopia, Uganda, and South Africa, things are a little tougher.

How are we supposed to just decide which country we adopt from. It seems so much harder than that. We got more information on each country from Bethany:

Bethany has employed partners in Ethiopia that work to make sure children that they receive referrals from orphanages in each region have either had both parents die, or both parents have knowingly given up their rights to the child. The orphanage then makes a 'life book' of the child that is given to the adoptive family. Ethiopia is a very well-established program. Wait times are 32–37 months for a child under 3; 31–32 months for a child 4–7, and a short wait time is estimated for children 8+ or a sibling group where one of the children is a teenager.

Bethany has employees in Uganda that work in different orphanages including:
  • Sanyu
  • Nsambya
  • God's Mercy
  • Peace Transitional Center
  • Heart of a Child
They employee third-party investigators working in Uganda to determine the history of the child and to locate any living relatives. If the child has one or more living relatives, the investigator ensures that they have given up their rights legally. A life book is also provided to the adoptive family. Wait times are 3–12 months, but Uganda is a pilot program, so there could be changes and we are told we would need to be open to a changing estimated wait time.

South Africa:
Bethany has a strong partnership with Wandisa in South Africa that refers children from orphanages and works with Wybrow-Oliver Attorneys to ensure the adoption process is ethical. Wait times are 12–18 months.

We have full faith that God will show us where our child is. We firmly believe that God has a child already out there waiting for us, and we just need to be patient in waiting for Him to show us. As for the age of the child, we've determined that we would be okay with adopting a child six and under. We feel that because of our age, we wouldn't feel as comfortable adopting an older child. 

We have another meeting next week with Bethany to speak with the Branch Director before we more forward. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Hive Five for Friday!

With vacation behind us, it's time to get back to the high fives on Friday. I'm  going to combine the last few weeks so I don't miss anything.

1. Of course vacation deserves a high five. It was a beautiful week in Cancun. There were no agendas, no emails, and lots of sun. It was so nice to wake up and have nothing to do. Every morning, we would wake up and Adam's dad would call some chairs under an umbrella. We would eat a little breakfast, and it was the beach for the rest of the day. The resort had a wonderful pool and the Ocean felt great.

2. While on vacation, I read the book Kisses From Katie. Have you heard of it? It's an amazing story of how God uses a woman (a teenager, at that!) to do his work in Uganda. Katie Davis shares her story of how she moved to Uganda and adopted 13 girls, started Amazima Ministries (amazima means 'truth' in Lugandan). It is a truly inspiring story of adoption, faith, and God's incredible love. I highly recommend reading it.

3. The weather. I think I've talked about the weather in the last few weeks, but you guys, this is getting serious. I think, think, that the weather is finally warming up. For good. We've had days in the 50s and 60s this week. It's supposed to get a little chilly this weekend, but I can handle 40s, too. After Daylight Savings last week, it's staying light until after 7 at night. Summer is coming soon after a bitterly cold winter.

4. A classmate from high school is getting her Bachelor's degree in psychology and asked if she could interview Adam and me for one of her classes. She has to interview a couple who's been married a year and a half, and apparently we're the only people she knows! It will be fun talking with her again (we haven't talked since high school), and helping her out.

5. Adam and I are meeting with our pastor on Sunday to talk about adoption. He and his wife adopted from Ethiopia a few years ago, so we're hoping to get some insight from him. Since our church is pretty big, we don't know him very well, so we're excited to talk more with him, too.

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend. Blessings to you!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Post Vacation Life

Praise God for wonderful views and vacations!

Sunrise view from our room.
Adam and I recently got home from a very needed vacation to Cancun, Mexico. Where we stayed a week at Fiesta Americana Villas, and recommend it if you're looking to take a trip. We met Adam's parents down there and spent the week soaking up the sun. Whenever we're able to spend time with them, we are usually found asking life questions–they're practically seasoned vets on this whole life thing.

There has been some movement on the adoption front. We've decided to work with Bethany Christian Services, which is headquartered in Michigan, and has an office in Des Moines. We had an initial informational meeting with a woman named Marlene to learn about Bethany and so she could learn about us, why we wanted to adopt, and answer any other questions we had.

One thing that we are stuck on is where to adopt from. It was easy when we were working with IAG because the only country they worked with was Ethiopia. Now that we're approved for Ethiopia, Uganda, and South Africa, it's difficult to decide on just one. We're still asking questions and are praying God will show us which country our child is in.

We're looking to set up another meeting to discuss the financial aspects of this program. More information to come.
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