11/18/09 - Home Study Update Is Compelete

We received an email today from our social worker Faith - our COMPLETED home study is on her supervisor's desk awaiting approval!!!! God's timing for completion of this step is now!!

NEXT STEPS: Once Faith's supervisor approves the home study, it is sent to Duni, our Family Coordinator at America World, and the DCFS department in Illinois. When met with all three approvals, it is sent to USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) and we wait for our I171-H form, which is permission from the government to adopt an orphan.

PRAISE AND PRAYER: Huge praises that the home study is complete!! (Now we get to celebrate by going for a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup dessert at Pizzeria Unos.) Prayer that the approvals would be quick to follow, particularly Duni's. Her last day as our Family Coordinator (she is moving to Ethiopia to oversee the adoption process there) is Wednesday, November 26th.

11/05/08 - Paperwork Update

The last of our paperwork (application letter, letters of reference, and photo pages) was faxed to Duni this week and approved! Amy did the almost done dance around the living room after receiving the email that all papers were fine as is. The only thing we have left to do (well, not really, but it sounds good to say that!) is eventually have our cover sheet notarized, go to Chicago and have all paperwork certified, and Fed Ex it to America World so they can take it to Washington DC, have it notarized and send it to Ethiopia!!

NEXT STEPS: Still waiting for that home study to be done.

PRAISE AND PRAYER: Praise that we are closer to the end than the beginning! Praise also for the support and encouragement that we have found by joining a Yahoo Group of America World families adopting/already adopted from Ethiopia. Amy is slightly addicted to checking it though, so please pray for her! Continued prayer for our home study to be completed and approved and that we trust in the Lord and lean not on our own understanding.

11/11/08 - Closer to the End than When We Started

A PAGE IS TURNED by Bebo Norman

A page is turned by the wind to a boy in curly grin
With a world to conquer at the age of ten
But as history unfolds and the storybook is told
He finds salvation but not at the hands of man
And the God of second chance
Picked him up and He let him dance
Through a world that is not kind
And all this time, preparing him, the one
To hold him up when he comes undone
Beneath the storm, beneath the sun And now a man, here you stand
Your day has come

A page is turned in this world to reveal a little girl
With a heart that's bigger, as it is unfurled
By the language in her soul, that's teaching her to grow
With a careful cover of love that will not fail
And the God of second chance
Picked her up and He let her dance
Through a world that isn't kind
And all this time, preparing her the one
To hold her up when she comes undone
Beneath the storm, beneath the sun
And grown up tall, here you are
Your day has come

Beneath the air of autumn, she took him by his hand
And warm within the ardor, she took his heart instead
And high upon the mountain, he asked her for her hand
Just for her hand

A page is turned in this life, he's making her his wife
And there is no secret to the source of this much life
When the grace that falls like rain is washing them again
Just a chance to somehow rise above this land
Where the God of second chance
Will pick them up and he'll let them dance
Through a world that is not kind
And all this time, they're sharing with the one
That holds them up when they come undone
Beneath the storm, beneath the sun
And once again, here you stand
And once again, here you stand
Your day has come

This is our wedding song, and who would have been able to imagine, when we felt led to start a family four years ago this month, the journey God would lead us on. For those of you who don't know the whole story or how God has been at work . . .

Our Baby Timeline

* July 17, 2004 - We are married! The following verse is engraved on both our wedding rings.
"A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." Ecclesiastes 4:12

* November 2004 - We decide to try and start a family.

* May 1, 2006 - After 18 months of trying and a change in insurance companies and doctors, we begin infertility testing.

* June 2006 - We are told we are at a 0% chance of getting pregnant.

* July 2006 - We learn we can have surgery to help correct the problem and schedule it for the end of the month! One week later we get a call from the doctor's office: the insurance company won't cover the surgery until we've been on the insurance for one year, May 2007.

* October 29, 2006 - We are pregnant - a miracle!
"Every good and perfect gift is from above." James 1:17

* December 22, 2006 - At our 12 week doctor appointment, there is no heartbeat.
"The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised." Job 1:21

* Early March 2007 - We are approached about a possible domestic adoption. After much prayer and a clear leading from God to step out in faith, we pursue the situation.

* Late March 2007 - We meet the birth mother, start working with Lutheran Child and Family Services and our social worker Faith to complete a home study, talk to a lawyer, and begin to purchase baby girl clothes!

* Good Friday 2007 - We receive some new and detailed information about the adoption, information that had we known from the beginning, we would not have pursued the adoption. After a week of intense prayer and a day of fasting, we receive guidance for what to do next - this is not the adoption situation for us.
"The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express." Romans 8:26

* July 2007 - December 2007 - A situation arises in which we are able to apply for a $10,000 adoption scholarship. We decide to apply thinking maybe this, and money borrowed from family, is how we can pay for an international adoption. One of the requirements for the scholarship is a copy of the completed home study. For privacy reasons, our agency does not send out copies of home studies but Faith, our social worker, writes a detailed letter explaining that we have met all the requirements and do have a completed home study and would benefit greatly by being rewarded with the scholarship. After spending 6 months of asking if we can still be considered for the scholarship and never receiving a 'yes' or 'no' answer, we make the decision to no longer pursue adoption.

* February 29, 2008 - We attend a Steven Curtis Chapman concert and receive a flyer telling about an upcoming free America World Adoption Seminar. As we need so many hours of training to keep our home study active, we decide to attend and register.
"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future.'' Jeremiah 29:11

* March 8, 2008 - With bruised and hurting hearts, we attend the America World Seminar. We sit and listen and hear that God does not have a Plan B for our lives - only a Plan A. He is not surprised by infertility or orphans. We hear from couples who started with less money then us but stepped out to follow God's call to international adoption. Our hearts are ministered to.
"And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

* Early May 2008 - We begin to talk about and pursue an adoption from Ethiopia. We talk with both America World and Lutheran Child and Family Services and learn the agencies are able to work with each other.

* May 23, 2008 - Our completed application to America World is put in the mail.

* June 17, 2008 - We receive the cal - We have been accepted into the Ethiopian program!!

So, what have we learned in this process . . .
1. God has never nor will He ever leave us or forsake us.
2. the massive and empowering impact of prayer - that is the only thing that got out out of bed
some mornings.
3. God works good in all things always.
4. His plans and dreams are bigger than ours.
5. He comforts the broken hearted and binds their wounds.
6. He keeps His promises.
7. He hears and answers prayer.
8. He blesses His children.
Would we have chosen a less painful road to learn all this - defiantly. Would we be where we are today, deeply rooted in God and His word, in an ever strengthening marriage of three cords - God, Mike, and Amy - pursuing an Ethiopian adoption with barely any money but completely trusting in Gd to provide for all our needs - NO WAY! There is no way we would have ever considered an international adoption had we not already had a completed home study. So once again, God's dreams and plans are bigger than ours. And we will continue to trust and follow Him because the God of second chances has picked us up, and He's let us dance through a world that's unkind, all the while holding us up when we come undone, and beneath the storm and beneath the sun and in His strength, we still stand. Our day (for bringing children into out family) has almost come!

11/09/08 - Christmas Angel

We were shopping this weekend and stopped to look at the Christmas items (It is almost Thanksgiving after all!). We have an artificial tree for the upstairs second bedroom (our future children's room!) but don't have a tree topper and were discussing how nice it would be to find an African American angel. While looking at Hobby Lobby, we found the beautiful angel below (and it was 50% off!)

It will look wonderful with the ornament we have written in Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia.

11/05/08 - Further Home Study Delay

Well the home study process is taking a little longer than we have expected. However, this is really the first glitch in the process, so we can't complain.

Lat week, we learned from our social worker Faith (who is so sorry this process is taking so long!) that we needed to have a Child Abuse check run on Mike in the state of Wisconsin where he was born and lived for a long time. Now read this next part tongue and cheek as that is how it was meant - Apparently, an FBI check, two fingerprints, and a police background check didn't quite cover everything!! So we faxed a request off to Wisconsin last Thursday. They will run the check and get the results to Faith. Our babies must not be ready for us yet!!

NEXT STEPS: Waiting, praying, waiting, praying, keeping a good sense of humor! We are also enlisting the help of Amy's brother next weekend to be our adoption journal photographer. We will be driving around Lake County so he can take pictures of us at various locations that relate to the adoption process so far. Be watching for those in a few weeks!

PRAISE AND PRAYER: Praise for all our friends who are in prayer over our home study. Faith is encouraged by that and has said she will take all the prayer that she can get! Prayer for us that we would have peace in the waiting time.