Friday, October 31, 2008

A Special Memory - and the Half Way Mark?

Today many who have been waiting for successful court dates and travel dates were disappointed by news of failed court and delayed travel. These waiting families must ache so much. Some have had a referral for 5 months! Can you imagine having a picture of your child and being completely incapable of getting to that child for 5 months and still have no certainty of when you will finally be able to embrace her? People who have not adopted will find it hard to understand, but a mighty, miraculous thing happens when you get the picture of your baby. You suddenly know and love a child you have never met. You instantly take on every emotion as a biological parent would feel. It's powerful, unexplainable, and overwhelming. The Scripture that says, "a hope deferred makes the heart sick" is so true. Please pray for those waiting and hoping to pass court and travel soon!

As for our family and adoption news - well, not much news, but if the estimate of 9 months still stands for the wait time for an infant girl - then we have passed the half way mark. And though there is no certainty that this is really the half way mark for us - its worth celebrating simply because it helps the wait time go by!

So - what is the special memory, you ask? It is more than special. I can't believe I haven't thought about this sooner. It's just plain beautiful how God set up this story (our ET adoption story)-

In February 2005 we had just begun the paperwork for our China adoption (Libby's adoption) when we decided to fly to Uganda, Africa with a group to visit some friends of ours who had been on the mission field for many years to the then unreached Karamajong people of Northern Uganda - the bush of Africa, truly. There are a thousand stories I could tell from that trip, but there is one that applies to this blog and this adoption far more than all the others.

While in Morotto, Uganda we stayed on the Singletary's "compound" - a "safe" (LOL!) fenced-in area where the Singletary's lived when they were not living in a 3-man-tent on top of a mountain -seriously! In Morotto lives a group of ladies who have affectionately been named "The Lonely Ladies of Lia". These ladies (because of the Singletary's obedience and God's love) now know Jesus. Again - so many stories I could chase right here, but I'll refrain. The Lonely Ladies of Lia were so kind and precious. But in their culture they simply could not understand how I could be 30 years of age and have no children. They didn't know we were working on an adoption and it wouldn't have made sense to them anyway. So Terry, as a way to teach these ladies how to pray for others, asked the ladies if they would pray over me that God would give me a baby. And that's what they did. The put a dark Karamajong baby in my arms, laid hands on me and prayed.

At that time I thought it was so sweet and I thought about our China adoption and - NEVER ONCE did I ever think about how God might one day answer their prayers in His own clever way. So, I started thinking about this the other day and remembered that I had photos of this special moment: (get some tissue!)









and I even located my journal to see if I journaled about it - and sure enough I did! In my journal on Feb. 22, 2005 I wrote: "...so Terry took the opportunity to teach them how to pray and they all gathered and prayed that God would give me a child. They said, 'next time you come to Africa you will come with a little baby in your arms.'"

Little did they know - and even littler (I know that's not a word!) did I know that indeed I would come back to Africa and have a baby in my arms - only - I will get her IN Africa!!!!!!!!!!

Well over a year ago I received word all the way from Uganda that these ladies were still praying for me. I remember thinking then that if I showed up in Africa with Libby (our Chinese princess) they would be really confused about how God answered their prayer. I wonder what they would say if I returned to visit them with both a Chinese and an African baby? Their minds might explode!

This adoption story is so good! God is so brilliant, isn't He?! The only way this story could get any more perfect is if I got a referral on Feb. 22 - the 4 year anniversary of this moment of prayer. But things would have to drastically speed up for that to happen - so I'm not "hanging my hat" on that (I'm such a good Texan for saying that).

Enjoy 2 more photos of some other precious Karamajong babies/children:





You know those old "Where's Waldo" games? .... but this one is just too obvious. My sweet (and very white) husband sits with some of the ladies of Lia.
- Stay tuned for the rest of the story! - Cindy

Monday, October 20, 2008

Kolfe




Great news! If you read the previous post you learned about Kolfe - a youth orphanage for Ethiopian boys who age out of the ET orphanges (ages 12 and up). Looks like Tom Davis (author of "Red Letters Living a Faith that Bleeds" and "Fields of the Fatherless") has visited Kolfe recently and believes it is one of the orphanages he will try to find an American church to sponsor. Here's what he posted on his blog:

Today, we were in an orphanage called Kolfe, a boys home with about 120 kids. You would think this place so filled with testosterone, would be a bit dangerous, cold and resistant. Just the opposite. These boys had incredible manners, they showed so much respect to us, even bowing when they met us. And, it is dirt poor. They have nothing, and I mean nothing. They never get to eat meat, and don't even have the money for a hair cut. They just want the chance to be men, to make their mark on life and accomplish something. Many have dreams of going to college, and I want to help them.Sponsoring this place would transform your community, I promise you. I'll post pictures and video when I get home.I think we are up to 6 orphanages that will soon be available for sponsorship. I'm hoping to have 8 by the time we leave. The vision trip looks like it will be some time in April. Please email me if you want to come. Thanks for the prayers. God is doing great things in this beautiful country. With His help we can change the lives of these kids forever. Want to be a part? Just say yes!

But Kolfe has not been sponsored - YET! You - your church - could be the one to take this on! Click here to read the criteria for a church sponsoring an orphanage like Kolfe:

As you read and think about all this - May the following video impress upon your heart the need to get involved. It is the story of a Rwandan pastor discovering how to minister to those with AIDS. (click the stop button on the top right to turn off the music before hitting play on the video).

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Red Letters Campain - Adoption Journaler I Am!



but it's not about me... it's about the story - the story of obedience that leads to fulfilling joy - the story of adoption. My adoption into the family of the King of Kings is big enough, humbling enough, moving enough, fulfilling enough to cause me to overflow - to cause US to overflow ("Us" being followers of Jesus - my family). Overflow into what? The WORLD! Yes, we are called the "light of the world" for a reason - because we were not meant to be hidden away - not meant to be withdrawn, quiet, passive. No! We are meant to spill over, pour out, shout out and work out our faith in Jesus - by the way we live, the way we love, the way we LIGHT UP the darkness!

For those happening upon this blog for the first time - my name is Cindy. My husband, Billy, and I are worship leaders. He is a worship songwriter. But neither of us believe that the most profound, powerful worship can be found in a song. No, worship - true worship is found in the way we obey Jesus. If Jesus says, "if you love me, keep my commands" or "if you say you love me, do what I say" (which, he does, by the way) then the best way to give Jesus honor - show our love - is to do just that. And since His very own word says, "the most pure religion is the care of the orphans and widows..." then, by all means, this is what we are called to do.

While not every couple is called to adopt - we are all called to care for orphans and widows in some capacity. In many of the Scriptures about orphans the phrase "and the foreigners among you" is included. An orphan is any fatherless or motherless, or lonely or neglected or abandoned or country-less person. And for those people - "the least of these" - we are called to go and RE-present Jesus.

For our family - we do this in multiple ways. Billy and I adopted Libby Song - our sprightly soon-to-be 3 year old - from China in Sept. 2006. We started that journey in Nov. of 2004 - yep, that's right - almost a 2 year process (which is short compared to China's current process). For two years I stepped out in faith that God could make me a good mom - a great mom. I feared - seriously FEARED... no, better said - I was TERRIFIED of becoming a mom. So every day the wait for Libby continued, I agonized with wonder/terror over whether I was really cut out for the job. I share that because obedience isn't always easy. But the joy - oh the sweet joy that comes when the walk of obedience is rewarded. The very moment I embraced Libby all fear was gone and I embarked on a new journey of life, love - love that now, because of a little, helpless orphan and a long journey, seemed more powerful, more poignant, more profound than I could have ever previously known.


Shortly after adopting Libby, three things happened. I felt called to adopt from Ethiopia. Billy informed me that he did not. And God brought a large number of refugees in our city to our attention.

I began to pray for God to change Billy's heart regarding adopting from Ethiopia. It wasn't that Billy was hard hearted. He was just enjoying Libby and comfortable with that - and maybe even a bit challenged with that - enough to not want more challenge. I occasionally asked Billy if he was praying about adopting. He was honest and said, "no."

In the meantime, we began the journey of caring for "the foreigners living among us". In San Antonio, there are hundreds of refugees from all over the world.


We began teaching the Somali Bantu English as a Second Language and caring for their children while the adults were in class. And then the Burmese refugees came to our attention. They are the Karen people - many of whom are followers of Jesus and were forced out of their country because of that very proclamation. So here we were with a beautiful Chinese daughter (and an African one in my heart) and who does our Father have us caring for - Asians and Africans - both with whom our hearts began to fall in love. Interesting in light of what I felt our family would one day look like...

A year after first talking with Billy about adopting from Ethiopia, Billy confessed that to obey Jesus he would indeed have to agree to adopt from Ethiopia and so a new journey began. In January of this year (2008) we started the paperwork to adopt an infant girl. In June (after some agonizing fingerprint issues) we submitted our dossier to Ethiopia. Today we've been waiting just over 4 months - with an estimated 5 more months before we even have a picture of our Ethiopian princess. Another long, slow, anxious journey that is sure to bless our socks off!

Why in the world do I share all this with you, you ask? To toot my own horn? - Goodness No! If any of this were actually my idea - maybe - but this was all Jesus in me deciding to come out. I didn't have a choice. I share all this because.... There is an orphan (as defined above) either near you or far far away - but there is at least one orphan you are called to care for. Did I say adopt? No. I said, "care for". What does that look like? You're going to have to ask Jesus. Beware, you may not like his answer. It may cost you something - maybe money or time or maybe your too-big-love-of-self - which is way harder to give up. I'm not accusing or condemning. I'm talking about reality and reality is - we all love ourselves and look out for ourselves first UNLESS - Jesus take over.

Today, this story came by way of a friend's friend to my attention. Maybe this story is the one Jesus will decide to step in through you. I don't even know the whole story yet. All I know is what I read on this blog: http://jobsdaughters.blogspot.com/2007/11/forgotten-boys.html. A woman/family who has adopted 5 children visits Kolphe while in Ethiopia. Kolfe is a "home" for ET orphan boys who have aged out of the orphange "system"....Here is a portion of this family's blog post about their visit to Kolfe. It's long - but like our adoption journey - it is SO WORTH IT!

After lunch, Ryan took us to the KOLFE older boys orphanage. This is where the boys over 12 years old go. This is also the place where Ellie raised $1200 for their library to be built thanks to the Franklin Academy Charter School and my friend Jennifer Hoffert. After today, I CAN NEVER FORGET THESE BOYS!!!!

We pulled into the facility that gave me the first impression of a very run down old prison campus or something like I have seen in the pictures of Germany during the Holocaust. Very depressed and unmaintained. We were greeted immediately by smiling faces and warm welcomes as numerous young men came out to see who was in the white car that just arrived. I was very nervous because I fully expected these young men to be cold and unsociable. On the drive there I was even thinking I would rather not go there at all and was having a conversation in my head that I would rather have gone souvenir shopping this afternoon. We want to get some gifts to bring home to the special people that helped us get here. Well isn't it just like God to show me again that He always knows better and has a plan for everything. Today I met some of the most DELIGHTFUL, HAPPY, SOCIABLE, LOVING, RESPECTFUL AND WELL MANNERED young men in my life!!!! (Teenagers as our society calls them) I AM AMAZED AGAIN! I must have been personally greeted by 30-40 young men ranging in ages from 12 to 18. They all had genuine smiles and either spoke fairly good English or were learning. They all put their hands out to shake, give their names and smile. Within about 5 minutes, my heart was melting again as I could feel myself falling in love with these boys. As Ryan started to give us the tour, they gathered along side and with "pride" started to explain what each building was. They were obviously excited to have visitors. I was so impressed with how well groomed and clean they were. They take pride in their appearance as well, wearing old tattered clothes, but still having a sense of style and dignity. They all asked questions about us, about America, about our adoption etc. They would all take turns asking questions and as some stayed with me continually as I walked. They very politely and in a very gentlemanly manner helped me walk along the very dangerous broken-up cement, big holes, rocks, puddles, etc. on the ground. You really have to look down because nothing is well groomed or smooth on the landscape. There were buildings with broken windows, sheets or fabric on them as window treatments. They looked like they haven't been painted in 20 years. Yet these young men pointed them out to me with pride and joy! I was so absorbed by their joy that I was smiling so big my face hurt. I was complimenting them on how they obviously worked hard because in spite of the run down condition it still displayed a sense of beauty. They had a vegetable garden planted among the rocks and they even have a flower garden. They were particularly proud of their kitchen that has a window that opens into the next room which serves as the dining room and theater. Hoptamu, the young man that was by my side the entire time and spoke English very well, was particularly interested in asking me how I liked everything as he showed me. He said they enjoy the movie room very much. He then wanted me to see their sleeping building. There were rows of bunk beds as far as the eye could see. It was like a barracks on a military campus. My immediate surprise was how neat, organized and well maintained it was. "PRIDE" everywhere. Then it was off to the soccer field where there was a game going on. The field was just a big dirt area full of rocks. It had no marked lines and the goals were made of the same Eucalyptus poles we see so much here. The netting was shredded and falling apart. It seemed to serve no purpose as any scored goals would go right through them. Even the ball was old and tattered. This facility holds up to 180 young men. There were a great number of them there but I don't have the exact number yet. While two teams of boys played, a great number of others watched and waited on the sidelines. Once one of the teams scored two goals, another team would get to run on the field to replace the losing team. We get so used to seeing boys in America play with the proper equipment, i.e, shoes, pads, uniforms. These boys had none of that. They played in beat up tennis shoes, no pads, no matching uniforms. Some only wore one sock. We watched for about 30 minutes, or I should say we talked with a great number of them on the side lines. I felt like I was in such an unusual situation. I can't really describe it.. The place was so depressing, sad, run down, and yet there was such a spirit of joy that it was contagious. As many of you know about me, I don't do superficial. I believe I was there for the purpose of loving on these young men, to encourage them and to let them know that they matter to me and to God. I asked questions of them like, "What do you want to be when you grow up? The answers were: doctors, electrician, carpenter, teacher, go to America, etc. They have dreams and aspirations, desires and goals to be a positive influence and contributors to society. They love to study. They told us they only play soccer on weekends because the rest of the time they study. It is obvious because they too had great questions for us and I was amazed at how well they spoke English.

There were three conversations I had that impacted me the most. I asked if they have a lot of physical fights among them. They all sincerely looked at me with a sense of surprise and almost disgust. Several of them shouted out the following answers: "No, never!" ; "We love each other."; "We respect each other." "We use our minds to settle problems, as he pointed to his temple area." "We are a family here." We witnessed an example of this as Jerry noticed in the distance one of the older boys who was wearing shoes had accidentally stepped on the foot of another. They both respectfully treated each other with compassion and respect.

The second, a older young man about 16 yrs old told me, "This facility is about 30 years old and the government does not maintain it. He said many people come to visit, take lots of pictures but they never come back and they never do anything to help us." He was not angry or resentful at all, he spoke very softly and like it was just a fact of life. He was very joyful even as he told me this.

The third was, "Are there compounds like this in America where boys don't have a mother or a father?". This one crushed my spirit and heart. I told him we did have some children in America that have not parents too. I was immediately struck with the fact that I could not say we had compounds like this. Later, when we drove away Ellie said this was the time she too fought hard to hold back the tears.

These young men even treated Ellie with great respect, honor and genuinely asked her lots of questions. At the soccer game when I was surrounded by about 20 young men, I told them how Ellie raised $1200, (or about $11,000 Birr) to help fund their soon-to-be library. They all looked very surprised, eyebrows raised, eyes opened wide, and a very sincere thank you was expressed to her. They bowed their heads and said "thank you very much". Again those of you who know me and Jerry would understand that we would never feel comfortable taking her into a compound full of young men. She is absolutely beautiful and such a sweet personality that we always have a huge hedge of protection around her. At first we were both right by her side. But I can't efficiently express how safe she was and how respectful they were toward her. It was unbelievable!

So here is what was etched in my mind that has caused me to know I can NEVER walk away from here and be one of those people that never come back and never do anything to help them. Their beds are very old metal, the "pads on them", not mattresses, are also about 30 years old. They have holes in them, they are absolutely trash dump quality. The blankets and pillows etc. are the same. They cannot possibly keep them warm. Remember, I told you there are absolutely no heating systems in Ethiopia and it gets down in the 30's at night. The windows are broken and in desperate need of replacement. The kitchen was like something out of an old Gothic run-down castle. It was all stone walls, floor and no windows or light.It looked like a dungeon. We have photos that can only explain it because I can't even find the words. Their dining room and theatre was a run down building that had old tables that looked at least 30 years old. We didn't see any chairs so I wonder if they stand? The theater was an old 26 inch TV on a shelf with a couple of old benches in front of it. They looked like old bleacher benches from elementary school when I was a child. They are the most uncomfortable things to sit on. We literally had walk with caution throughout the entire compound because the steps everywhere are broken and the ground is all uneven and full of rocks etc.

I have not stopped crying since last night. These are the forgotten boys. No one wants them. I have to admit that until today, I was the most guilty of never wanting or even considering adopting one of these boys. I had all these preconceived ideas about how bad, dangerous and evil they must be and they did not really matter to ME. OH GOD, PLEASE FORGIVE ME!!!! I AM SO ASHAMED!!! I WAS SO WRONG!!! I WILL NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN! I know I must do something!

I spent this afternoon with some of the most respectful, well mannered, joyful, content, happy, sincere, genuine and goal-oriented young men that I ever knew existed. As we wrapped up our visit, Jerry literally had to come pull me by the arm and drag me across the compound. I was pulling away from him and all the boys started laughing. I told them I didn't want to leave yet because I was enjoying them so much. Jerry said we had to be considerate of our driver, he had to get home. I honestly could have stayed there all night. As we got to the car, the boys were following us asking if we could come back tomorrow. Some of them shouted out "DON"T FORGET US!" "PLEASE COME BACK!" I literally pulled away from Jerry, stood in front of them and said "OK, I WANT EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU TO PLEASE COME GIVE ME A BIG KISS AND HUG. AND I MEAN EVERYONE!! I held my arms open wide and stood there as they looked around with puzzled faces. They looked at each other, and at Ryan like "Is she serious?" Ryan shouted out that I was MAMA to all of them. I stood there with Keziah in my snuggly as a line formed and I hugged, kissed squeezed and asked God to bless each and every one of them. They were laughing and honestly thought I must be crazy. Josiah was in Jerry's arms and was laughing out loud as he watched this whole thing. He then started to kiss Jerry's cheek repeatedly as to mimic what he was watching. As the line diminished I looked around and saw some shy ones that were not in the line. I walked up to each one of them and made sure they got a hug and kiss too, whether they wanted it or not. Then some other came running from another direction as if someone had gone to tell them what was going on. They said," I did not get a turn". Then a few of them came back for seconds. The young man who told me he wanted to be doctor for babies came back and I gave him four more kisses not just one. I stood there and waited until it was obvious there were no more in waiting. Even some of the older men that looked at least 18 or older came out to greet me and get a hug and kiss. I was so surprised! One of them held my hand for a long time and was speaking in Amharic, He did not speak English. When I asked Hoptamu to translate, he said, "He wants you to help him get out of here!" THIS WAS MY LAST CONVERSATION WITH ONE OF THEM!

Over the last several years the LORD has been impressing on us that pure religion is to care for the orphan. James 1:22, 27. We have been on this adoption journey for several years and have so far, adopted five children. We are now going to pursue adopting a few of these older boys if the LORD will allow and provide. But, for the first time, I now have a passion to care for the orphan in a new way. While I very sadly have to admit that I cannot adopt all of these children, and believe me I want to, I MUST DO SOMETHING to help make a difference and impact them in a some way. My heart and mind have been transformed! GOD HELP ME TO HELP THESE FORGOTTEN BOYS OF KOLFE.

So, what's in it for you? Well... nothing and everything...it's nothing short of a miracle what God does when we live the way He wants us to - for in the very act of being like Jesus - you meet Jesus in the eyes of an destitute, orphan boy who is filled with joy you have never known even with all your plenty - yes, even in a lonely child, a refugee, a homeless man. Look deep in his eyes, past the hunger, despair and dirt and you will find simple Jesus, the best and only kind.

I don't know how to help the boys in Kolfe. If you have ideas please go to this family's blog (link above) and start a dialogue. Take one step and you will begin to sense a fulfillment you have never known. Maybe you have gone to every self-help, Bible study to overcome some kind of despair from your own life and you still can't get over it. I promise you, when you stop thinking on your own despair and focus on rescuing others from their's - you will find that your despair is gone and indeed is now serving a great purpose. Rescue the perishing and your life will find the most beautiful perspective and finally... you will really know Jesus.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Special Friends

On October 11, our family had the wonderful opportunity to meet with some other AWAA families who are also adopting from ET. We met the Chan family and the Portilla family at and Ethiopian restaurant in Austin, TX for lunch. We had a great time sharing stories and getting to know one another. Here are some pictures from our time together:




Our first taste of Injera bread! It was a really great meal!


Tulio and Karen Portilla and family are on the left. Billy, Libby and I in the middle and Shelley and William Chan on the right.


Here, Billy tried to get a more close up picture of all of us - because he's the "picture nazi".

During lunch, Shelley mentioned that the Austin ET adoption yahoo group (people from all agencies who have already or are currently adopting) was meeting that afternoon for dinner so we decided to stay in Austin for the day to meet everyone. Libby took her nap in the car and when she woke up we were welcomed by Shelley and William into their sweet home. We enjoyed their company and hospitality very much. I'm so excited for the Chan's - they are #1 on the list for a boy. Anyday now they will receive their referral!!!!!!

At 5 pm we met all the Austin families and were overwhelmed by their friendliness. We could hardly eat our burgers because we were constantly meeting new families. What an awesome surprise! We also met some ADORABLE Ethiopian children and some amazing families. We truly had a blast.

We arrived home at 9pm that night and were totally exhausted, but we were also so full of gratitude for such a great experience in meeting other ET families. So encouraging!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Baby Etsegenet Forrest Passed Away

It is with great sadness that I post this news. Baby Etsegenet Forrest (the Ethiopian baby girl that was referred to the Forrest family) passed away over the weekend before the Forrest family could travel to receive her. This kind of loss is so hard to process. Please be lifting up the Forrest family in your prayers. Here is what the Forrest family posted on our yahoo group....

YG,
Thank you for your prayers. We just wanted to let you know that we
found out this morning that Etsegenet died on Saturday.

We are trying to process this information and we are tying to figure
out what is next...

We know that our God is GOOD. And He is Sovereign. He didn't drop the
ball...

1. I asked the Lord that I might grow/In faith and love and every
grace/Might more of His salvation know/And seek more earnestly His face

2. Twas He who taught me thus to pray/And He I trust has answered
prayer/But it has been in such a way/As almost drove me to despair

3. I hoped that in some favored hour/At once He'd answer my
request/And by His love's constraining power/Subdue my sins and give
me rest

4. Instead of this He made me feel/The hidden evils of my
heart/And let the angry powers of Hell/Assault my soul in every part

5. Yea more with His own hand He seemed/Intent to aggravate my
woe/Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,/Cast out my feelings, laid
me low

6. Lord why is this, I trembling cried/Wilt Thou pursue thy worm
to death?/"Tis in this way," the Lord replied/"I answer prayer for
grace and faith"

7. "These inward trials I employ/from self and pride to set thee
free/And break thy schemes of earthly joy/That thou mayest seek thy
all in me/That thou mayest seek thy all in me."

Sunday, October 12, 2008

FOUR MONTHS WAITING!!! Details on fee increase, a note about Tom Davis and a Prayer over Lulu and her Biological Mom

On the eve of our 4 months of waiting mark, I wanted to share with you more details on the reasons behind America World's Fee increases. Duni, one of AW's family coordinators, sent an email explaining the various reasons that AW had to make such a substantial increase. It all makes sense and it's all worthwhile. Before reading about all the details, though, I thought you might best understand some of Ethiopia's situation by seeing the video at this link regarding Ethiopia's Green Famine: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/video/2008/aug/01/green.famine

Ethiopia's food shortage is grim and it is impacting the health of their children in major ways. When America World chooses a child to be referred to a waiting family, that ET child is moved from the orphanage into what is called a "transitional home". This is where the child is kept and sometimes nursed back to health while paperwork is processed for referral and waiting families wait for their paperwork to make it through the ET court system and as the families wait to travel. Read below to see AW's explanation for how this and other factors have affected their budget and therefore the fees we need to pay.

TRANSITIONAL HOME COSTS: Our role as an agency in Ethiopia is quite different than any of our other programs in many ways. One is that we care for the children we are to place in homes. These children come from difficult situations. Some are malnourished and many get sick with common cold, pneumonia or parasites. We don't want to merely "keep" the children until families come for them but deem it our responsibility to give them the best treatment and care we possibly could. Medical care of children, especially when they first arrive in our home is quite high. We also try our best to involve families in the child's life long before they meet them. We send updates with snippets of their children's milestones and pictures. We hire qualified nurses and have a lower nannies to children ratio so that the children can get a more personalized care than they would at an orphanage. We also provide transitional services such as hiring English teachers and an American Social worker to help the children adjust better. All of these things involve significant financial undertaking. We have also found that diapers and Formulas cost quite a lot more than what we projected. This is also due to inflation in the past year and weakening of the dollar.

NEW CAPACITY BUILDING FEE BY MOWA : After many complaints by us (adoption agencies as a whole) of lower productivity by MOWA in completing adoptions, MOWA has mandated a capacity building fee so they can hire more social workers and purchase computers to process adoptions.

TRANSLATION AND AUTHENTICATION OF DOCUMENTS: The cost of dossier translation and authentication both at the department of state and Ministry of Foreign affairs in Ethiopia have gone up.

POST PLACEMENT : The Ethiopian government requires 3 post placement reports the first year of the adoption and one self report per year until the child turns 18. As the agency that facilitated your adoption, we are required to follow up with families to make sure that reports are submitted and on time. We will be charging a one time minimal post placement administration fee to cover the administrative cost.

For these reasons we have been unable to cover the cost with the current fee schedule. I recognize that this is difficult news for families, and that the increase in the cost of your adoption will impact each of you in significant ways. The fiscal situation facing the program is a critical one, and these increases are essential in order to maintain our commitment to offering you and the children you adopt the best care and services possible.

Hopefully that gives you a better idea of what is going on. I completely trust AW and believe that they are doing everything they can to provide the best care of these orphans. Any increase in fees is a tough pill to swallow, especially when the process already costs a total of around $30,000. So please continue to pray for us and other families as we all trust God to provide in the midst of what can already be an emotional and difficult journey.

Another note to make: Tom Davis - author of "Red Letters" and "Fields of the Fatherless" (and who will also be the keynote speaker at the AWAA San Antonio Gala) is currently in Ethiopia searching for orphanges that churches in the US can partner with. Following his journey is quite impacting and offers some amazing perspective and... conviction. Please visit http://tomdavis.typepad.com/ to follow Tom through Ethiopia over the next many days. To get an idea of what you'll find there, I cut and pasted one of his latest entries below:

Ethiopia Day 2 and 3

Oh how I wish you were here! Let me share a few highlights with you. Ethiopia Cultural Experiences: 1. At an Ethiopian restaurant I was shocked to notice everyone was eating meat. Apparently that's quite the luxury, but the shock wasn't the meat, it was the fact that it was all raw. Yep, you got it. Delicacy of the day: Raw goat meat. Not wanting to take home a pet amoeba, I choose to have it cooked well done.

Rawmeat-1Cookedmeat-1

2. Tonight we were invited to a home for a coffee ceremony. The family was unbelievable. Poor, but filled with so many riches. There are 10 kids, and all of them are very close. We were greeted with three kisses on the cheek and treated like we were family. Their hospitality was something to be desired. One of the things I've come to discover is that the poor have so much to treat us regarding what it means to love, share, and give. I'm convicted.

Coffeeceremony-1Coffeeceremony2-1

3. Have I mentioned the coffee?! From one coffee lover to another, you have never tasted coffee like this! Apparently, coffee was originated here in a city called Kaffe centuries ago. They serve macchiatos that will knock your socks off. Sugar, milk, espresso and froth that Starbucks couldn't touch with a ten foot pole. And yes, that's Simon's belly.

Coffee-1

3. Public transportation. In a mini-van seating 12, we managed to pack in 20! At least it was cheap. A whopping .20 cents each for a 30 minute trip.

Orphanages:VERY IMPORTANT OPPORTUNITY: We will have one orphanage ready for sponsorship immediately. I can't say enough about how moved I was by being with these children. Their situation is desperate. I know there are at least 100 of you keeping with this trip and involved in helping us launch Ethiopia. If you are ready to have your church, business or organization sponsor this awesome place called Kechene, email me ASAP at: tdavis@hopechest.org. I would like this orphanage sponsored right out of the gate. There are 87 children there, very poor, half are orphaned because of AIDS. There is a phenomenal staff in place, acting as teaching, role models, and providing the nurture they need to grow up healthy. First come, first serve!

Kids2-1Meandkids-1

Please go to his site (linked above) and follow his journey. If your church is interested in orphan ministry - now is the time and the opportunity to get involved. Tom is spelling it out for you! Just read and allow your heart to fully engage.

Lulu, this adoption is teaching me so much. Your culture and the challenges your people face are changing me. I long to hold you, baby girl. I long to know your face and touch your hair and make you smile. I long to look you in the eye and see you soul to soul. We are praying for your biological mom to have everything she needs while she carries you in her womb. We are praying that God miraculously provides for her and that she will KNOW that you are a special baby, chosen by Him. We pray that she will be strong in these difficult days and somehow, somehow she will have a sense of peace and comfort as God prepares her heart to let you go - I don't know how that is possible, but we are praying -praying for her to have some hope in the midst of her despair and grieving. May she be well fed and protected in the night. May the light that breaks in the morning carry hope in it's warmth. May the Lord give her dreams and visions in the night that reveal Himself to her and may He provide miracles by day to affirm His love for her, so that she will know that He sees her, He hears her and He is close to her. And may you, Lulu, be aware of His presence even there in her womb because you already belong to Him. To the spirits of rejection and abandonment we declare that you have no place in our Lulu. She belongs to the King of Kings and from before time began this was His plan - that she would be born in Ethiopia and she would live with us. No lie you have to whisper shall prosper in Lulu's heart, soul, mind. The belt of truth is wrapped around Lulu with great care. Lord Jesus, protect our baby girl while she is away from our reach. Set her guardian angels guard over her body, soul, spirit, mind and heart. Sing and dance over her in the night. As you form her, mold her heart into the heart of a lioness of God - a passionate heart for the advancement of Your Kingdom - a heart that desires to put an end to injustice, darkness and bring peace, love in the sweet name of Christ. Make her gentle but strong, kind but honest. Give her deep thoughts on the things of You and an even deeper desire to know You and make You known. Give her big eyes that both radiate with Your joy but also portray Your unfailing compassion. May her eyes be full of peace and passion. May her smile be illuminating and contagious. May her voice be gentle and yet bold when used for Your glory. May she love to please you more than man. May her beauty be exquisite both inside and out. May Libby and Lulu have a miraculous and deep bond and may they truly love one another selflessly. May Lulu's life be fueled by the desire for Your name to be known among all peoples because Your name is the one to whom she has eternal belonging. Amen.







Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Power of Worship

There is power when we call on the name of the Lord - the name that has full power! Our ET/YG families have been so heavily burdened this week with the news about increased fees, but last night Jesus decided to step into the YG dialogue (love it when He does that) and everyone that was online last night came together and had a sweet time of worship through worship lyrics, hymns, scriptures, testimonies, prayers and blessings. It was our battle cry - our attempt to focus on the Lord as we forge into the frontlines of battle for our families, finances, agency and most importantly our ET children! One of the things we prayed for besides God's provision and change of heart towards the fee situation was for the Forrest family baby who has been extremely sick with pnuemonia and on oxygen in an ET hospital. Today, the Forrest family posted this good news on YG:

We have learned that baby girl is out of the "danger, danger" zone.
(As I term it) She is doing better today which I feel is 100% a result
of your prayers and many others. She is still in the hospital, is
still on oxygen for rapid breathing. She is eating well and responding
to a new antibiotic. Praise the Lord!...

...Thanks for your continued prayers on behalf of Forrest babe!
Blessings,
Hilary
www.ethihopeia.com

PS I have full confidence in care our agency is giving. One of the
drugs she is/was on our doctor here in America was surprised they had
access too. It would have been her drug of choice as well. Fortuna has
a deep heart for our children and PRAYS for them!

One of the hymns last night that was so powerful to me was the old hymn "Because He Lives". The second verse was so perfect as I thought of the Forrest baby. It says,

How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives
But greater still the calm assurance
This child can face uncertain days because He lives
Because He lives I can face tomorrow
Because He lives all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living just because He lives.

Just praising God for answered prayer today and continuing to request your prayers over all the adopting ET families and the ET children, particularly the Forrest baby. If you would like to visit the Forrest family adoption site go to: www.ethihopeia.com

The cross is lifted over us. We journey in its light!
Cindy

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Some passed court, Others did not

Here is a short paragraph posted by the Wistrom family on our YG that explains what happened with court dates today:

The Wistrom family did not pass court... Duni explained that none of
the families with the older children (I think that would just be Wistroms,
Hutchinsons and Van Wettens) passed court but all of the babies did pass
court. We are so happy for those of you who made it through this momentous
day! Congratulations and please know that despite our heartbreak - we are
rejoicing with you!!!
Evidently, the courts and MOWA changed a regulation during the court
closure and did not inform the orphanages and the agencies. They
knew nothing about the new regulation until they appeared in court.
The new regulation requires that children that are relinquished by
their parent - are now required to have the same paperwork from the
orphanage that the "abandoned" children would get. This is a new
policy. The paperwork can be acquired from the orphanage within a
day or 2 but now the courts are completely overwhelmed from the court
closure. So the earliest date they could secure for us is Nov 8.
They will continue trying to appeal for an earlier court date but
Duni did not sound optimistic. My heart just breaks for our little
boys who have been at the transition home now since March. That is
such a long time to wait for your family to arrive and to watch other
kids leave. Thanks for your love and prayers YG! We will keep you
posted!! with love, Karen Wistrom www.family-from-afar.blogspot.com
We are incredibly happy for those who passed court today and incredibly sad for those who did not after such a long wait for courts to reopen. I know Scripture says to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn, but I'm not certain how to do both at the same time. This group of families adopting from Ethiopia through AWAA is such a family. We all rejoice and grieve together. What a blessings to have such a wonderful, supportive group during this wait.

For those of you who have not read my previous post, please do and continue to pray for the other matters mentioned in that post - especially for the baby in the hospital. Thank you.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Time to Pray

In the last several days I have been heavily burdened for Lulu and the entire Ethiopia adoption process. My concern started as I reviewed the number of people in line for a girl who are ahead of us - around 18 families. If all the families ahead of us are indeed waiting for infant girls then we have a long wait ahead. The last several months AWAA's referral rate of infant girls has been aproximately - 1 per month! If it continues in this manner it will be a LONG time before we receive a referral. I'm talking - at least a year from now. I trust in the Lord's timing, but I am still sad as the wait is hard enough without realizing it's about to possibly be a lot longer. This December will mark 2 years since God put this adoption on my heart and 1 year since we started the paperwork. To date, we have been waiting almost 4 months since our paper work was submitted to Ethiopia. The wait is currrently at 9 months for an infant girl, but unless some changes take place (which is what I praying for!) it will be much longer. Having said all that, let me say again - I trust God in this matter and know from experience that the child God has for me is without a doubt worth whatever the wait may be.

Second, AWAA has - out of necessity - decided to increase some of the fees. While I am not concerned about the money because the Lord has provided, I am a little surprised about how much they are increasing fees - close to $4000.00! Not only that - but $3750 of that is due by Jan. 15 for families who have already submitted their dossier - meaning us. Again, we have the money, it's just surprising that around Christmas time when the economy is seemingly going downhill we've been given this very fast approaching deadline and I know there are so many families who CAN NOT do that without a miracle. My heart is so sad for those who are overwhelmed by this burden. This is coming at a very hard time for many families. Please be praying for them. The increased fees truly are a necessity as AW is doing everything they can to both keep their doors open and make sure that all ET children in their orphanges and transition homes are cared for properly once referred. But the increase, as said before, is way more than any of us were expecting.

Third, tomorrow is a BIG court date for several AWAA families who have been waiting patiently through court closures and are eager for a successful court date so they can go get their babies. Please pray for the following people who's court date is tomorrow - Oct. 8:

October 8 court date:

Redfern
Wempe
Wistrom
Schmidt
VanWetten
Lusse
Hutchinson


Lastly, and this one is a huge prayer request - the following message was posted on our YG by the Forrest family who is waiting for a court date so they can get their baby:

Please pray for our little girl.... Duni just called to say
she has pneumonia or an upper respiratory infection plus diarreah....
She is 4 months and according to last weight check still only 6.8lbs.
PLEASE PRAY. We appreciate it.
Hilary and Jacob Forrest
Today we received another update from this family saying their baby girl is on oxygen with pneumonia and remains in the hospital. The families of AWAA know too well the hardship of this situation and what is on the line. Please, please pray for God to heal this baby girl! And pray for her parents to be comforted in this time.

Thank you for reading and taking all this to heart.
For His Glory,
Cindy


Sunday, October 5, 2008

Updated List - (that we know of...) For Those Waiting for Girls

Black - 1
Bowman - 2

Blackwell - 3

Lunceford - 4

Rothermund - 5

Eckhardt - 6

Heinrichs - 7

Jones - 8
Keiderling - 9
Gillman -10

Mullins - 11
Moffat - 12

Pickard - 13
Delfosse - 14

Dragovich - 15
Gagnon - 16
Bartley - 17

Portilla - 18
Foote - 19!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Redd - 20
Kerby - 21

Reed - 22
Bowers - 23

Carpenter - 24

Monberg - 25

And - in case you need more lists - here's the top 11 overall (from all "lines", I'm assuming) waiting for referral (* = from the girl line!):

Black*
Bowman*
Blackwell*
Lunceford*
Chan
Martin
Hall
Reno
Richardson
Whitaker
Rothermund
*

So..... let's say in the month of October AWAA does a little bit of catching up from the slow month of September and does somewhere between 11-15 referrals - if all of these top 11 get referrals then that would move us up 5 places in line since 5 of those in the top 11 are waiting for girls (see *). However - from the opposite perspective (have to keep things balanced here) if it does take longer to receive a girl referral - can all 5 of these girl referrals happen in one month? Does anyone in our YG know the largest number of girl referrals in one month time? Just curious...

Courts are open again in ET! This Oct 8 (this week!) several AWAA families are to have a court date that they've waited so long for! Pray that all of them have a successful court date! Here's the list of those waiting for court, travel, etc.(I swiped all these lists from our YG - thank you!)

October 8 court date, tentative travel October 25:

Redfern
Wempe
Wistrom
Schmidt
VanWetten
Lusse
Hutchinson

Tentative travel November 1:

Laughner
Britton
Hammond
Nunez
Terwilleger

Waiting for court:

Caldwell
Juvinall
Armstrong
Forrest
Gamble
Witter
Stager
Sloniger
Savage
Pridemore
Sparr
Joner
Howley
Burk
Kulp
Tennant
Semlow