Aidan Birhanu Miller Robinson

Thursday, September 30, 2010

A riddle for you

What do Andrew Jackson, Saturday, and the dwarfs from Snow White have in common?

They are or were all 7s, and we are too. Just found out that we're number 7 on the waitlist for a referral. Yeah! You know what they say about the number 7? ...

It's LUCKY! Here's hoping that it will be our lucky number, as well.

We also found out that there is one family in front of us that is requesting a girl and two that are requesting boys, so I guess it's still a 50:50 chance on what gender we will get.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Courts have reopened...

The courts have reopened, so let's pray that that means that they will be able to expedite some of the back cases. The 2 trip process has officially begun (the first families are in Ethiopia now meeting their little ones and attending court), so it's interesting to see what that process looks like. Hopefully, those families are not meeting with too many obstacles. I think now that the courts have reopened, we'll see some new referrals going out in the next couple of weeks. Let's pray that we're one of those. :)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fun Weekend

Friday was my birthday. Doesn't matter the number- I'm not telling anyway ;). Liam bought me some things for the nursery, and being the safety-conscience person he is, he bought a TON of safety items for our new guy/gal. One item is an alarm that you clip to your child that will ring every time he/she wanders too far away from you. He said that with my "air-head" personality (love that man), I would need it! I told him there's a flaw in his logic, because this airhead would have to remember to clip it to him in the first place! It really warms my heart at how excited he's getting over the adoption.

We had a wedding to go to on Saturday, so we went shopping for something new to wear. Then, we had dinner at Olive Garden and were going to see a movie, but nothing looked good, so we just returned home. It was a fun day!

Saturday, we went to Jared (Jason's brother) and Julianne's wedding. It was SO much fun! They're such a neat couple and the ceremony was gorgeous! It was held downtown. Congratulations guys! (a big thanks to Sarah for doing my hair at the last moment. You are fabulous!)

Today, we're just taking it easy and working around the house. There's tons of cleaning and laundry to be done, and I'm determined to get it done!

On the adoption front, one of the gals on the yahoo forum said that she spoke to Stephanie on Friday. I was in hopes that, because Stephanie said to call back at the end of next week that there would be new referrals at the beginning of the week. This woman said that she was told that they had already placed all the referrals from this batch and that she's not expecting anymore in anytime soon. UGH! It's so hard to be patient. When will we get to see our baby's face?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Straight from the horse's mouth

Not that Stephanie (the coordinator of the Holt Ethiopian Program) is a horse, but I needed a good uphanism. Anyway, her email today said that there had been referrals given out this week, but that they had not updated the waitlist yet. I'm supposed to email her at the end of next week to see what our new number is (IF we don't have a referral by then). So, I'm thinking that I may not get my birthday wish, but who knows? Come on referrals!

Yet more fortune cookie wisdom (or the wisdom of small pastries, part III)...

Here's the latest from our mystery fortune cookie writer...

Remember three months from this date (9/21/10). Good things are in store for you.

Hmm...3 months from now will be December. I'm thinking maybe we'll travel for the first time then, so maybe my "good thing" will be seeing our child for the first time. Yay!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Some potentially exciting news...

I was checking out the HoltEthiopiaFamilies yahoo group forum (whew, that's a mouthful) again last night and one of the new members mentioned that when she was told her waitlist number yesterday, the program director told her that the number would change though by Monday because they have some new referrals coming in!!!! Yeah! Let's pray that there are at least 9 new referrals. I REALLY would love to have a picture of our little one by my birthday on Friday. What an awesome b-day present for me!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

This wasn't supposed to be us...

Sorry for the long post. Also any men that have been keeping up with my blog, you have my permission to skip this post (as it deals with "women stuff") LOL

I would love to say that I've always had a heart for adoption. My older brother, Kirk, was adopted at the age of 2. I would love to say that because of that experience, I had always wanted to adopt myself. I would love to say this, but it's not true. I've always wanted to be a mom, always wanted to have that special bond that a parent shares with his/her child, always wanted to attend the PTA meetings, soccer games, and school plays...and always wanted to have the experience of being pregnant and giving birth to my first child (well, maybe not the giving birth part). My point is that when I dreamt as a little girl of the family I would one day create with my husband, adoption never entered into the plan. Infertility changed my plan.

This wasn't supposed to be us.

Liam and I met in Killeen, Texas in the winter of 2000. We were both attending a new church and he approached me one Sunday to introduce himself. We felt an instant connection with each other. Our first date was at the local IHop (I know, VERY romantic...poor guy has never quite lived this one down) and we spent 4 hours talking, neither one touching our food. I knew after that first date that I wanted to spend my life with this crazy, funny, intense person. Love didn't beckon quietly for me, it hit me upside the head. Within a month, we were discussing marriage.

Five months later, we broke up. We knew that we loved each other, knew that God wanted us to be together, but we moved too quickly and it nearly cost us our relationship. Luckily, we remained friends (well, we remained on a friendly basis, at least). One day, a couple of months after breaking up, he put a note on my car asking me to call him. I did and we spoke for 2 hours that night. When we got together this time around, we made a promise to each other that we were in this for the long haul- no matter what life threw at us. Over the past 10 years, that promise would be tested time and time again. We've always managed, with God's guidance, to arrive safely on the other shore.

Fast forward to the spring of 2006. We were living in Clarksville, Tennessee. Liam had just returned from a deployment to Iraq for the year. We knew that we had some major decisions ahead of us. I wanted him to leave active-duty military and move back to the Springfield, Missouri area. In 6 years of marriage, we had moved 4 times and had another move ahead of us that summer, this time to Savannah, Georgia. I felt that it was enough. To make me even more homesick for "The Ozarks", my younger sister had just given birth to my parents first grandchild. I wanted to be close to see Jake grow up. After much prayer, Liam and I decided that he would leave active-duty, join the Army Reserves, we'd move back to my hometown and start a family (well, to be truthful, I think the later was in my plan, but not yet in Liam's).

We tried for 6 months to get pregnant before seeking medical advice. Everyone, including my OB/GYN told us (aka me) to relax and it would just happen. Well-meaning friends said that "it would happen in it's own due time", which of course I knew, but didn't really want to hear. I was so heartbroken when it didn't happen for us immediately, like every woman in my family...and it seemed at the time, every woman on the planet. I think even that early in the game, I knew something was terribly wrong.

Six months turned into a year. My sister was now pregnant with her second child, and I was still BARREN. That's such an evil word. It does nothing to describe the turmoil that that one word can bring to a couple's lives. By this time, I was trying EVERYTHING. Any "remedy" on the internet was fair game. In the beginning, Liam was completely on board (what man isn't excited about the trying part of trying to conceive?). However, I lost him somewhere between taking and charting my temperature every morning and ovulation tests. And the thing that no one (especially not doctors) tells you is that every symptom of early pregnancy that you have ever read/heard about, you WILL have. Sore boobs, check! Fatigue/Exhaustion, check! Nausea, check! I was convinced each month that this was finally our turn. And every month, when the dreaded period (or - sign on the pregnancy test) made it's appearance, I would go into a depression, as though I had lost something very real...something that I'd only convinced myself had been real.

I began reading the Scriptures, looking for other women mentioned in the Bible with my affliction. I felt a real connection with Hannah, Sarah, Elizabeth and Rachel. Luckily, by this time, my doctor was on board to start the infertility tests. I was excited, at first, because I felt that FINALLY we would have an answer for the reason why we weren't getting pregnant. That excitement lasted about as long as the first test.

In August 2oo7, I went in for a laparoscopy/hysteroscopy. Basically a small incision in your abdomen where the doc can check out your reproductive organs. It was discovered at that time that I have a unicornuate uterus (half a uterus that is only joined to one fallopian tube). My other fallopian tube was not functional and just hanging. I did have two working ovaries, but only one was attached to a working fallopian tube. So, basically only one side had any chance of getting us pregnant. While I was recovering from the surgery, the doctor explained to my husband that the unicornuate made carrying a baby very iffy. He was told that more than likely, I would endure several miscarriages, each progressing further than the one before. In addition, I had SEVERE scarring in both tubes, so up until that point, I had NO chance of getting pregnant. Luckily, my OB/GYN was able to clear the scar tissue (later tests, an HSG- very painful, do not recommend, showed that the one good tube was working fine).

Liam is not a person to show his emotions very easily, but he cried when the doctor shared the news with him. He said that he felt that our hopes of having a child had just been destroyed in a few, matter-of-fact words AND he was going to have to be the one to tell me. Luckily, my parents were there and they all told me together.

Six months passed, still no pregnancy. In all honesty, I can't say that we were really trying. We were frozen with fear. Afraid to become pregnant, only to lose the child that we had prayed for for so long. We were also extremely scared of what my OB/GYN called the "in between zone"- the 10 weeks in between when a baby is not capable of living outside of it's mother's womb and when a child is considered full-term. That "in between zone" means the difference between a healthy newborn or one born too early to survive (both of which we were told to hope for) or a child born before all of it's vital organs are able to function correctly and now has severe special needs all because we wanted a baby. Yeah, we were gripped with the fear of the unknown.

Eventually, I changed OB/GYNs and this new one referred me to an endocrinologist (reproductive doc) in Kansas City. Both of my new doctors were more hopeful about me carrying a child to term, but on my first appointment with the endocrinologist, she informed us that due to the scarring in my tubes, the only way for us to have a biological child was through IVF. We really struggled with this; the cost, ethics, etc. This was the first time that adoption began to slowly enter our realm of reality. Over the next year, the choice between IVF and adoption was one that loomed over our heads.

**I have to explain before I go any further. I have nothing against IVF (obviously, if Liam and I were willing to pursue it). I have a few friends that have done this procedure and they have beautiful, healthy children for it. Our ultimate decision to pursue adoption was our own personal choice.

Something within me had a very difficult time fully committing to adoption. I'm not sure that I was ready to accept that a biological child might not be in our future. Once a few years ago (before our infertility problems), I had innocently, yet a bit out of superiority, asked a friend pursuing IVF again, if she had ever considered adoption...convinced that if I were in her shoes that that's what I would do. She shot back, "people always say that. If you can't have your own, why not adopt. It's just a band-aid." I didn't understand at the time what she meant. Now I do. Infertility and the choice to adopt are not inclusive. Just because a couple is infertile, does not mean that they should adopt. Nor, should a couple that has children, not adopt. In the case of infertility, one must mourn the dream of a biological child before moving onto adoption. I wasn't ready to give up that dream. YET.

Not that I wouldn't love an adopted child. I knew that whether we adopted or had a biological child, Liam and I would pour all of our hopes, love, and dreams into our child. Honestly, the reasons I was scared to pursue adoption were according to some, selfish, but I didn't feel that way. Since we were considering international adoption, I couldn't help but wonder about all the firsts that we would be missing as a couple; the first time he/she said "mommy", the first time he/she crawled, the first time he reached up his/her arms for a hug. I wanted to be there for all of it. The first heartbeat, the first diaper change, the first of everything.

We went back to IVF (though Liam was still very leary) and started making plans for the fall. In the meantime, Liam got papers for deployment to Afghanistan. The money would be nice, because we could put it towards IVF, but it's such a stressful procedure, that not being together during this time was scary. I was 34 then, though, and really did not want to waste any more time.

All through this process, our marriage took a hit, but about a year before, I finally just said to God, "Lord I give this completely over to you. I know that you want Liam and I to be parents. It's your mandate to all married couples. I just don't know when or how you want this to happen, but I will follow you." I started reading the book called SUPERNATURAL CHILDBIRTH which is a book about turning everything dealing with conception, pregnancy, childbirth over to God and finding scriptures that support His promise to us that He will give us children. I stopped stressing and Liam and I began focusing back on our relationship without the stress of trying to get pregnant.

Liam was in Indiana getting ready to deploy (we had already said our goodbyes) when he got word that due to finishing their training early, he would be allowed a 4 day leave (2 of those days would be used to travel, but we would still have 2 days together). I didn't know that I was ovulating at that time. Since I had moved forward with IVF, I had stopped temping, taking ovulation tests, etc. Surprise of all surprises, and really miracle of all miracles, I got pregnant. I took a home pregnancy test on the Saturday before Easter and as you can imagine was shocked, elated. I literally just sat on the floor of my bathroom and cried, praying to God and thanking Him. I called Liam (who was now in Afghanistan) and drove to my sister's house to share the news. Another cool thing is that the baby would have had my husband's birthday as his/her due date. All signs pointed to God telling us that this was our time. The next day on Easter, I told my parents and other siblings, and our pastor, because I wanted him to be praying for us.

Then on Tuesday (4/14/09), just 3 short days after experiencing the most joy that I have ever felt, I started to have severe pain on one side. I ran across the hall to a fellow teacher, who didn't even know that I was pregnant, but has two kids, so that I could ask her if this was normal. She reassured me, but I still was scared. I called my doctor's office who advised me to go to the emergency room. My sister and I raced to the hospital. They did two ultrasounds (vaginal and external), both were extremely painful, but I won't share all those joys with you. I could tell by the way the ultrasound tech was acting that the news wasn't good. She had to get a colleague and they did the quiet whisper back and forth. Worst of all is she couldn't tell me anything (something about liability and the hospital), so I waited from 10 in the morning until 5 with no news. My beta levels came back; 3,800 (a normal 4-5 week old gestation), but the next news was devastating. They couldn't find the baby in the ultrasound, nothing. The doctor looked at the films and called my OB who informed me that with a beta level of 3,800, they should be able to see something in my uterus. This was an ectopic pregnancy and would have to be terminated immediately or I risked the chance of rupturing my fallopian tube and hemmoraging which would probably lead to a hysterectomy. Because of my unusual anatomy and scarring, he opted to open me up (basically a c-section without cutting into the uterus). He removed my non-working fallopian tube, which later came back from pathology as having "matters of conception", but my beta level continued to grow. He told me that he would need to give me a shot of methatreczane to terminate any pregnancy. I cried and cried. Luckily, my mom and our pastor was there. I kept saying that it felt like I was killing my baby. My baby was perfectly healthy, it just wasn't growing in the right place. I felt like my body had failed Liam and I yet again. They gave me the shot, I went home from the hospital on Friday and began the long process of grieving and healing, both physically and emotionally.

On Monday, I went into the doctor's to have my betas drawn again, and was supposed to go in on Wednesday to have them read to us. As long as they went down, I wouldn't have to have another shot or more surgery. On Tuesday, however, the doctor called and wanted to see me. My heart sank, I knew it was bad news. I went into the office with my dad. He took me immediately back to the ultrasound room and told me that my betas had jumped from 4,200 to 12,000, which meant that my pregnancy had not terminated itself. I told him that I was glad he was doing another ultrasound, because before I had another shot, I wanted to see where my baby was. They did a vaginal ultrasound, starting talking to themselves and then he finally said, "it's on you're right side." I said, "in my tube?" fearful that I was now going to lose my right tube. He said, no, it's in your uterus. I started to cry. I saw the heartbeat, 160 bpm, which was very good. He brought my dad and I back to his office and said that while this is a viable pregnancy, the shot that they gave me earlier in the week, put my baby at great jeopardy. He said that the good news was that the baby should have already aborted itself, but that we didn't know if the shot was still in my system or the lasting effects it would have. He gave me some case studies that were positive, but cautioned me to be guarded. He explained that more than likely, I was pregant with twins, one of which implanted in my tube, the other one in my uterus. This only occurs in 1 out of 30,000 pregnancies and with my "unusual anatomy" mine was an even rarer case. I was overjoyed.

Since we had gone through the whole ectopic pregnancy in such a public way with surgery, followed by a week in the hospital, I knew that I couldn't keep this news quiet and that my little guy/girl needed as much prayer as possible. Unfortunately, God had other plans for our little angel. He was with us for another 3 weeks, but went to join his twin on 5/6/09.

I don't know why we had to go through 3 years of infertility, only to lose our babies. I don't know why God would take one, then let me learn that there was another, only to take that one too. What I do know, now, though is that God used our pain to bring us to His ultimate plan for us: adoption. You see, all of the joy that I expected to feel from learning that I was finally pregnant, wasn't there. I was scared- terrified, really. I began to see that I needed to put away my dream of being pregnant, for a bigger and better dream- that of becoming a mother. How we got there, no longer mattered. Suddenly, all the reasons that we wanted to do IVF became obvious that they were for me, because if I considered our child, I knew that adoption was the right thing to do. Why spend all this time and energy (not to mention money) trying to create a life that God may or may not have in His plan, when He has already created millions of children that need a good home...147 million to be exact. And all of the firsts that I was so determined not to miss, well, they would be there for me- the first time that I saw our child sit up, the first time I saw him smile, the first time that he/she reached his arms up begging me to hold him.

When Liam returned from Afghanistan, we began the adoption process in earnest. Just a few short weeks after his homecoming, we were overjoyed to learn that we were expecting again (again accidentally. Funny, for 3 years we tried everything short of standing on our heads, and no pregnancy. Now, without trying, we'd gotten pregnant twice). The following day (after the positive pregnancy test), I began bleeding heavily. We were heartbroken, but continued to hold tight to God. I went in for some routine blood tests, my beta level was 6. The nurse said that IF I had been pregnant, it was a very early pregnancy. She wanted me to check in two days later for some more blood work. You guessed it, my numbers more than doubled. Long story short...we went back twice a week for two weeks, my numbers were low (never getting above 160), but continued to double, until finally on 4/16/10 (a year after I lost our first baby), they plummeted. We had lost another child.

My reasons for sharing our story is two-fold:

1. I don't want to ever forget that these three little miracles existed. That even though they were with us for such a short period of time, that their lives didn't have meaning, and that they didn't bring us the most immense joy.

2. I want to share with others to NEVER give up hope. If you are going through the valley of infertility, know that God hears your cries. He is there with you and He loves you. Believe with all of your heart that God will give you a child... even though His plan for you might be different than your own. From such pain, has come the most splendid happiness. We're mere days from seeing our child for the first time. Mere days.

This wasn't supposed to be us, but it is. And you know, it's alright. It's better than alright, it's amazing. His plan has become our plan. He gave us a dream bigger than what we had ever hoped for or imagined.

Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope.
Ephesians 3:20

We're waiting for you little one. You are loved more than you know.

"Tears may flow in the night, but joy comes in the morning". Psalm 30:5

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Yep, still...

but refusing to get frustrated.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Happy Birthday, Jake

Jake Brower Gray turned 5 years old today! I'm wondering where the time has gone.

5 years ago, Liam and I were living in Clarksville, Tennessee. Liam was deployed to Iraq for the year, and I was both tremendously lonely (missing him) and homesick (missing the birth of this little guy). Jake was born on a Tuesday and I traveled home on Friday to meet my new nephew. I'll never forget the first time I saw his sweet little face. He changed everything for our family and has had us wrapped around his little finger ever since. We love you, Jake! Happy Birthday Little Man.

Friday, September 10, 2010

I'm thinking maybe....


So I've been looking at the referral database at the HoltEthiopiaFamilies yahoo group. Not everyone that is adopting through Ethiopia is a member of this group, but many people are. There is an area where you can put your waitlist number, the date that you were told that you were this number, and what gender/age you are requesting. Since we're number 9, we're close to the top. There are at least 3 families ahead of us that are requesting a boy, while another 3 are requesting either gender (like us). The families that are requesting boys will get the first boy referrals. Therefore, the rest of us that are requesting either gender, will get either a boy or a girl (depending on which comes up first). Since 3 families will definitely receive boys, there is a good possibility that we may get a girl.

It's funny...We were told in the beginning that if we don't specify whether we want a boy or a girl, then more than likely, we will get a boy. This is because, for some reason, most Americans and Europeans that adopt from Ethiopia want a girl. All of this time in the back of my mind, I've been thinking of our child as a boy. Now, there's a good possibility that it's a girl!

Either way, we're excited! We have no girl name picked out, of course (we've had a boy name in mind for months, years even), and I've had my mind on things to decorate the nursery if it's a boy. But when I always thought as a young girl of the children that I would someday have, I always believed that I would have a girl first. Maybe, but then again, maybe not!
Of course, if it is a girl, I think Jakey will kill us. First, he has to contend with Ava (my sister is due in early November) being a girl and now maybe his cousin too. Poor kid!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Our child's birth mother

I've been thinking a lot lately of our child...what he/she is doing at this moment, what he/she looks like (see my last post), and just who he/she is in general. It's impossible to think about our child, without also thinking about his/her birth mother.

How can you thank someone that you've never even met? How can you possibly repay a gift as huge as the one that she is giving us? It breaks my heart to think that if circumstances were different; if she had the money or resources to raise a child, if she were not alone, if any of the hundreds of things that might cause a mother to have to give up her child were not true, then she would know the joy that too many of us take for granted...the joy of motherhood.

Liam and I have the opportunity (it's actually required now) to meet this incredible woman and perhaps some other members of our child's birth family. Many people have expressed to us that they would feel awkward meeting the birth mother of thier child and I too have mixed feelings about this. However, every negative or "awkward" feeling that I have, is about me. What will I say? How should I act? It has little to do with her or our child, for that matter.

Is it in our child's best interest to know his/her birth story? Yes. Is it in his/her best interest to know some of the reasons that led to his/her adoption? Of course it is. Is it in his/her best interest to possibly have a picture of his/her birth mother? Again, yes. Is it in the birth mother's best interest to hear our story? Yes. Is it in her best interest to meet us and hopefully feel that she has made the right decision in trusting us to raise her child? Yes. I can deal with a bit of awkwardness if it will help my child know the answers to some important questions that he/she may have on down the line.

I feel convicted to pray for our child's birth mother. I can't imagine having to give up a child (well, perhaps through the miscarriages, I have some idea, though not a child that I have loved, carried, and felt move for 9 months), but I do know what it feels like to want something so much that it literally makes your body ache with need and to wish desperately that things were different. I pray for her health. I pray for her peace of mind. I pray that she can somehow feel my deep gratitude envelope her. I pray that she will never doubt her decision. I pray that she knows God's love the way that I do and the way that we will raise this child to know.

Below is what I wrote when filling out the data form necessary for our homestudy. The question was what are our feelings towards the birth mother/father?

There is no way that I can begin to understand the sacrifice and selflessness that these families have shown. Having wanted a child for so long, I can’t imagine the anguish that one must feel at having to give their child away. It is a rare person that can think above their own needs to the needs of another; and for some, this extends to their own child. I see evidence of this every day as a school teacher. It is both Liam’s and my wish to have continued communication with the birth family. Through Holt, we would love to exchange letters and pictures. Not only do we feel that this is important to our child to give him a sense of where he was born and the love that his birth parents had for him, but also to provide for the birth family some peace about their decision.

So, this is my continued prayer...
Bless her life, dear Lord. Give her an abundance of happiness and love and family. Please let her feel the prayers we have for her on each birthday of our child, each Christmas, each Mother's Day, each moment that we spend as parents. We think of her with reverence and love and inexpressible gratitude. Amen.

My Bad!

Okay, so I did it. I broke down and emailed Jennifer (one of the Holt program people) today to check where we were on the waitlist. I've been following some emails about referrals at the HoltEthiopiaFamilies yahoo group, so I thought that we had moved up one or two spaces. She very gently reminded me that she only updates the list every 2-3 weeks. Therefore, we may be number 8 or 7 or even 2. We just don't know, but our OFFICIAL number is still 9.

I don't know why I'm having such a hard time waiting lately. We've waited 4+ years to be this close to finally being parents, I waited a full year to begin the adoption process while Liam was deployed, and I thought that we might have to wait another 2 months for a referral during the court closings*(see below); it's not like waiting is a foreign concept to me. Maybe it's just because we are SO close to finally seeing our little guy/gal. It's becoming SO real and I just can't wait to become acquainted with my child. I stare at other blogs from people that have adopted from Ethiopia, wondering if our child will have any of the characteristics of their children. I'm surprised that the Horton's haven't taken a restraining order out against me. I'm practically stalking Malachi at this point! The wait is killing me! And everyone that has gone through this experience warns me that the wait is so much harder once you have a referral, because every day that passes is one more without your child...a child that you have seen, and read about, and grown to love. I can't imagine loving this child any more than I do now...and I don't know anything about him/her. This whole process is going to be the end of me!

Does my child look like this?

I HOPE!!!!!!!
*Every August-September, Ethiopian courts close down for two months during their rainy season. It's hard to imagine with our technology and industrial advances, but the courts (and much more) grind to a halt during this time. From what I've heard, the rains make traveling very difficult too. This year the courts have been closed since August 9th and they will remain closed until September 26th. I was in fear that this would delay our referral, but apparently, the process has little to do with Court. For people that are waiting to travel, these closings can be extremely frustrating though.

Monday, September 6, 2010

A sad goodbye

We lost my aunt yesterday. Aunt Terri battled cancer the same way that she lived her life, with courage, grace and quiet determination. As one of her close friends said, "she was a woman of great beauty and class". She was greatly loved by friends and family alike and we will all miss her dearly. She was married for 25 years and anyone that saw my aunt and uncle together would agree that their's was a true love affair. We're thankful that she is at peace and no longer in pain. I know that she is being welcomed into God's kingdom by so many that have passed before her. Please keep our family in your prayers during this difficult time.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Our Adoption Library

When we first became interested in adoption, I devoured every book that I could find on the subject. Here are some of my favorites:

Fields Of The Fatherless

By: Tom Davis

Author Tom Davis encourages us to move beyond words and become Christ to those in need. Join Tom as he shares a journey from around the world and our own backyard as people's lives are changed through the power of compassion. Filled with remarkable stories of hope and mercy, Fields of the Fatherless will inspire you to love "the least of these," and discover the joy found in becoming the hands and feet of Christ.

Adopted For Life

by: Russell D. Moore

This is a fantastic book! It's a call-to-arms for Christians and churches to make adoption a priority in our lives.

There is No Me Without You

By: Melissa Fay Greene

This was recommended to me by a friend. Be prepared, you will need a kleenex.

Not unlike the AIDS pandemic itself, the odyssey of Haregewoin Teferra, who took in AIDS orphans, began in small stages and grew to irrevocably transform her life from that of "a nice neighborhood lady" to a figure of fame, infamy and ultimate restoration. In telling her story, journalist Greene who had adopted two Ethiopian children before meeting Teferra, juggles political history, medical reportage and personal memoir. While succinctly interspersing a history of Ethiopia, lucidly tracing the history of AIDS from its early manifestation as "slim disease" in the late 1970s to its appearance as a bizarrely aggressive [form] of Kaposi's sarcoma in the early 1980s, and following the complex path of medication (a super highway in the West, a trail in Africa), Greene rescues Teferra from undeserved oblivion as well as rescuing her from undeserved obloquy (false accusations of child selling). As with her previous books (Praying for Sheetrock; The Temple Bombing; Last Man Out), Greene takes a very close look at what appears to be the fringe of an important social event and illuminates the entire subject. Ethiopia is home to "the second-highest concentration of AIDS orphans in the world"; even as some of the orphans find happy endings in American homes, Greene keeps the urgency of the greater crisis before us in this moving, impassioned narrative.

And one of my favorite:

From Ashes to Africa
By: Josh and Amy Bottomly

Check out their blog:

The bitter taste of ashes was left in the Bottomlys mouths after learning their hopes of parenthood were shattered. Barrenness, regardless of the cause, causes heartache and pain so harsh it seems impossible to approach life again. But for Josh and Amy Bottomly, Africa opened a door to a new life, the life they had dreamed of. Through a little baby named Silas Tesfarmariam, the Bottomlys found their dreams realized. Clouding this new life were the storms of Africawhere beauty and tragedy, wealth and poverty, and humanity and sub-humanity coexist in a jagged tension. Thrown into the squalls of this drastically different culture, the native Oklahomans learned to see God in a different light. Not only is he the giver of children, hes the manager of nations and the keeper of hearts. Join Josh and Amy Bottomlyand Tesfarmariam too!in this inspiringly true journey from ashes to africa. Like the authors, your life will never be the same again.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Why Ethiopia?

"Africa will inspire you
and break your heart
all at the same time."

We've been asked this question a lot. To tell the truth, I haven't really been able to articulate the reasons why we've chosen to adopt from Ethiopia very well. We certainly didn't make this decision frivolously or without a great deal of thought and prayer. One of the most obvious reasons to be cautious is the difference in race. I grew up in southwest Missouri and Liam in Ireland. Neither are known for their diversity. How are we, a white couple, going to parent an African child? Would we do a good job, or would we forever scar the very child that we're trying to help and had prayed so desperately for? America has a long history of inequality amongst the races, and while there has been VAST amounts of improvement, race is still a hot topic in our country.

It might seem small, but one of my first concerns was hair! We have made great strides in bridging the differences between race, but as Oprah says, "hair is one area that we will always be different". I have fine, limp hair. I wash it everyday and it takes me about 10 minutes to fix it in the morning- The polar opposite of African-American hair. I had no idea where to even start!

The first time I heard about a place called Ethiopia was in the 6th grade with the release of "We are the World". My friends and I watched Michael Jackson and his legion of fellow singers on MTV, but had no real concept of what famine was doing to that country. To a sixth grade girl living in the United States, Ethiopia seemed as distant as the moon. I'd seen images of starving children on my television set and felt compassion, but didn't know what I could do to help. Fast forward twenty+ years and I still feel that way, but I'm trying. Here's the startling reality about Ethiopia:

  • 33% of Ethiopians are considered severly underweight when the food surplus in the United States could feed all of Africa.

  • One American eats what 520 Ethiopians eat in their lifetime

  • Only 24% of Ethiopia has access to clean water, and some have to walk hours to get it

  • 81% of Ethiopians live on less than $2 a day

  • The average woman gives birth to 6 children

  • 1 in 7 of these women die in childbirth

  • Women who are raped or unmarried and get pregnant are shunned from their tribe and forced to live on the outskirts

  • There are 4.6 million orphans in Ethiopia

  • Experts predict that with the rising number in a couple of years this number will be between 25 and 50 million orphans!

  • Out of the nearly 5 million orphans, 720,000 of those are a result of AIDS

  • 1 in 7 children die before the age of ONE

  • 1 in 6 die before the age of FIVE

  • Main cause of death~ diarrhea and pneumonia

  • Median age is 17.8 years, 17.8 years!!!!!!!!

  • 265,000 children die daily from preventable diseases (that's one every 3 seconds)

  • Only half of school-aged children actually attend school.

  • There is only 1 doctor for every 24,000 people

**And probably most disheartening, because I too have been guilty of this: American Christians spend four times as much each year on dietary programs as they do on humanitarian aid.

So, why not adopt from Ethiopia? The Bible says, "Pure and geniuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing the let the world corrupt you (James 1:27)." Nowhere does it state to care for orphans, but only if they're the same color as you or only if you risk nothing by taking on a child that is of a different race or culture than your own. Something as negligible as race seems pretty small in light of the above statistics. Intangible differences such as culture and race are of this world, not of God. God cares nothing of where you were born or what color skin you have.

Our child will be beautiful and loved because he or she is a child of God. And yes, when you see us, you will see a multiracial and multicultural family. However, I hope you see more than that. I hope you see a family where love transpires all earthly differences and a couple, once left broken by infertility, who have found their faith restored through a child. Much like humanity so many years ago, found its most precious gift in the birth of a child...the Christ child.

God has a special place for the poor. The poor are where God lives. God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house. God is where the opportunity is lost and lives are shattered. God is with the mother who has infected her child with a virus that will take both lives. God is under the rubble in the cries we hear during wartime. God is with the poor and God is with us if we are with them.
-Bono (lead singer of U2)