Family of 4!

We are overjoyed to announce that last week, Cory and I accepted the referral of a little girl from India.  She was born on September 5, 2009 and we hope to have her home sometime this fall!  I didn't realize how much you could already love someone that you haven't ever met.  She's beautiful and is said to be a very sweet and loving little girl.  This little girl's story is amazing and it's as though God knew all along that there was this tiny little peanut in India waiting for us to find her!  Isn't He amazing?  We can't wait to share pictures soon!

We also received the exciting news that our agency is allowing us to do concurrent adoptions meaning that our Ethiopian paperwork is going to stay in Ethiopia and once our daughter has been home for one year, we can continue our journey to baby E!  Maybe we'll be able to have a big family after all?!?


One more picture from Allie's birthday...

Can you guess what could make our family so shocked?!?!

Birthday Girl!

Happy birthday Allie!  We had such a wonderful time celebrating with you!  We love you to the moon and back sweetheart!!!


Family of 3

When I received the call about Allie, I was in shock.  Only 6 weeks prior our first adoption had fallen through and we were both so scared to get our hopes up.  We waited 11 days before we headed to the cities on Easter Sunday.  The next day we met "T" and we were smitten by her.  She was tall...over 6 ft (keep in mind that I'm just a little over 5 ft tall) tall, had the most beautiful eyes, was very articulate, and had a great sense of humor.  "T" had told us when she met us that she wanted us to have the closest thing to a "real hospital experience as possible."  What an amazing person she is!!!  She tried very hard to make an uncomfortable meeting a little less uncomfortable, as did "B" her social worker.  It was hard though.  You are sitting there, talking to the person that could potentially change your life forever...what do you say to that person?  What do you say  to someone that's giving you the one thing that you have been fighting for for so long?  How can you even begin to thank someone who is doing probably the most selfless thing anyone can do?  How do you even put into words how much having a child means to you?
Two days later, "T" was induced and she called us an hour or so into the labor.  We went to the hospital and waited all day and one of the nurses would come out every few hours to tell us about the labor. 
At 10:12 p.m. on March 26, 2008, Allie Grace was born.  A nurse walked out to the waiting room and asked us if we were here for the "E..." baby.  We said yes and were quickly whisked back to the labor & delivery area.  We were placed right outside a room where the door was cracked open and a baby was crying.  At this point, I think I was so in shock and wasn't really comprehending everything that was happening.  "T's" nurse came out and asked if we knew what it was yet and we said no.  She told us that it was a girl and I lost it.  I wasn't able to control my emotions...I was a mess and before I knew it they brought this little girl out and gave her to me.  I was able to walk her all the way to the nursery and even go in with her.  What an amazing experience to be able to be right there with Allie from about 3-4 minutes after she was born! 
Since the time of Allie's birth, we've experienced some of the greatest joys possible.  There is nothing better than the first time your child smiles at you, says his/her prayers, gives you an unsolicited kiss or says "mommy I love you more than pancakes!" 
The road to our children hasn't always been easy, however I wouldn't change them for the world!  God has graced our family with an overabundance of strength, love, and support and for that we are so grateful.  So as we get ready to have an amazing day tomorrow celebrating Allie's 3rd birthday, we look forward to being able to watch as God helps our family grow from a family of 3 to a family of 4.  Isn't He wonderful?!?!

Part 3

(I'm writing this for Allie, for couples that may be experiencing the same journey, and so that I will always remember the details.)

When we thought Nezarah was coming to see where Adam would grow up, we decided that we wanted to have his room somewhat done for her.  So we spent the next week preparing Adam's room.  We put up the changing table, painted his dresser, bought baby things galore, and even purchased the crib.  Ironically, the night we found out that Nezarah had changed her mind was the night that the crib arrived.  We decided to still put the crib together and for some reason, it seemed to help us to see that even though Isaiah would never be we would have a baby someday. 

Weeks went on and we prayed so hard not only for our future child, but also for our child's birth parents.  What's difficult when you adopt is that you don't know what to pray for.  If you pray for a child to raise, you know that someone is going to have to go though immense pain in order for that dream to become a reality.  It's hard, so we just prayed for strength for everyone involved. 

During this time, God had something amazing unraveling.  There was a young woman who was 8 months pregnant who had made the difficult decision to make an adoption plan for her unborn baby.  She choose a family for her baby, however due to circumstances in their lives they didn't feel that this baby was right for them.  This young woman and her social worker ("B") were struggling with the news.  Later "T" said that she felt like this baby was such a gift and someone saying no to him/her was tough.  The next afternoon "B" was in her office and in comes Nezarah's social worker who heard about this birth mom and thought that she knew the perfect family for the baby.  She told "B" that she really fell in love with this young couple who wanted desperately to become parents and thought that "T" should look at there profile.  She did...that profile was ours...and the next day we received a phone call that would forever change our lives.

To be continued...


Becoming a family, part 2

In August of 2007, we attended the first of many visits to the cities to begin our first adoption process. During this time we were introduced to all of the different adoption choices that we had. At that time, two programs stood out to us as good options...domestic and Ethiopian. In the end we decided to do a domestic adoption because we wanted to experience having an infant.

Over the next 4-5 months we jumped through every hoop, completed mounds of paperwork, and created a birth parent profile for birth parents to look at when they are choosing families.

On January 8, 2008 we officially entered the waiting families book that birth parents looked through to choose who was going to parent their child. A few weeks into the wait I was really struggling and was praying to God that somehow I just needed a sign that domestic adoption was right for us and that someday we would be parents.  It was four days later when the phone rang and we were told about a little boy that was born just four days earlier (the night that I was begging God for a sign)! 

We met Nezarah 3 days later and we believed that Adam was going to be our son.  Nezarah was insistent that in her culture there were NO unwed mothers and NO biracial children.  She was certain that Adam and her would be shunned from their friends and family if she were to try to raise him.  I can remember promising her that we would keep their culture alive in his life and how she really seemed to like us.  Walking out that night, we hoped and prayed that this little boy we were going to name Isaiah would be coming home with us soon.  Nezarah went to the foster home that night with her social worker and told Adam all about us and how wonderful we were.  When we heard that, we were certain that this little boy was going to be ours.  Nezarah wanted to come to our home and see where Adam was going to live.  The appointment was made for one week later...they never came.  The night before they were to arrive, the social worker called and said that Nezarah had changed her mind and had decided to parent Adam.  We were devastated, but at the same time I knew that God had something planned. 

To be continued...

I heard this song this morning and it's perfect for us right now...

I have always LOVED this worship song, but as I heard it this morning I heard the words more clearly and it is exactly what we are experiencing right now.  We are waiting on You, Lord!

I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Takeing every step in obedience
While I'm waiting
I will serve You
While I'm waiting
I will worship
While I'm waiting
I will not faint
I'll be running the race
Even while I wait

I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am peaceful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it's not easy
But faithfully, I will wait
Yes, I will wait
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve you while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting on You, Lord


How we became a family...

Three.  That's how many years Allie's been in our lives as of this coming Saturday.  It's hard to believe that there was a time where our energetic, lovable, and happy little girl wasn't in our family.  We continue to thank God for every day that he has given us with her.  I hope that one day she reads this and knows how she was so much more than just a baby girl who was adopted, she was a very intricate part of His plan from the very beginning. 

Cory and I met and fell head over heels for each other about 2 seconds later.  We began dating and less than a year later, on November 27, 2004, we were married.  It was fast, but like many people say when you know you know!

We began trying to get pregnant in April of 2005.  Our plan was to have 3-4 biological children (although it was known that I wanted 8 children...no lie!) and then we would adopt.  I had always wanted to adopt at least one child.  Cory knew that and early on it became something he also wanted to do...someday...

At the end of my first year teaching, an amazingly talented and beautiful person walked into my life. This young woman and I were asked to teach preschool together the following year. We met and within a few hours we began talking about our families. At this time Cory and I were just beginning the infertility process while Kari and her husband had been through the domestic adoption process three times (two successful and one little boy was with them for 5 days before the birthmom changed her mind) with Children's Home Society and Family Services. I truly believe that Kari was placed in my life to guide me through the hurdles Cory and I were about to face.

In August 2006, we began seeing an OBGYN to see if some basic fertility testing/medicines could help us to conceive.  Each month was a roller coaster of emotions.  We went from the highest of highs, when we were certain that I was pregnant, to the lowest of lows, when we came to the realization that this month was not the miraculous month for us. 

By the end of 2006, I was seeing a Reproductive Endocrinologist due to my bicorniate uterus and PCOS.  By this point I felt as though my body had failed me.  I was put on this earth to have babies and I couldn't even do that.  How could Cory love me when I couldn't even give him a child?  I saw how much he was hurting and it was because of me, because I was broken.  I began to wonder if he had known about my "problems" before we had gotten married, would he have still married me?! 

I was in such a dark place.  It was a place where I would never want to be again and I would never wish that darkness on anyone.  I felt so alone...and Cory didn't know how to reach me...I finally began leaning on God and Cory and slowly we emerged as a stronger and more faithful couple. 

June of 2007 brought us to a place where we were undergoing our final IUI after 8 failed cycles.  At this point we had to choose, either IVF or adoption.  My heart was for adoption, Cory still needed time.  I prayed harder than I had ever prayed before and a few weeks later Cory attended a wedding of one of his college classmates.  It was at that wedding where he met a little 2 1/2 year old girl who was adopted and he melted.  It was then that Cory decided it was time to begin the adoption process. 

Little did we know that our little Allie would be born 9 months later!

To be continued...


I've been sitting here...

trying to decide what to write and nothing seems to come out right so i'll just ramble...

we are such a blessed family.  we have allie and wouldn't change that for the world.  she is an amazingly smart, funny, energetic, and social little girl who lights up our life.  we are so unbelievably thankful for her.  there isn't a day that goes by that we don't think about what her birthfamily had to give up so that we could have a daughter.  allie is our first miracle who has an amazing story that we will one day share completely with her. 

i have an unbelievable amount of guilt right now.  i know how lucky we are to have allie and for her adoption to have gone so smoothly and relatively quickly.  i feel as though i should be able to give this whole process over to God and trust in him.  i feel as though grieving this loss that we are enduring right now is saying that i don't appreciate what i have.  i feel like every time i catch myself getting sad and scared about the changes that are taking place that i'm not thinking about the good that can come out of the changes that are taking place.  i feel as though i should be able to just sit back and see what actually happens...however it's just not that easy.  i'm not sure that i've ever felt as many emotions at once (guilt and fear being the top two) as i have in the past week or so and to put it bluntly, i don't know what to do with them all. 

people have asked if we will switch to another program and all i can say is that my baby is in Ethiopia...
I've been posting (whenever I can get to a computer) the updates that our on our agencies website so that our friends and families can stay up to date on the adoption processes in Ethiopia. We have some amazing people in our lives that we know have been right there along side of us for the past two years and who want more than anything for us to bring home our newest little miracle.
Here's the newest update as of March 11:

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) held a conference call today, March 11, 2011, to share information about the news that came last week indicating that the Ethiopian government would begin limiting the number of adoption cases being processed from 50 to 5 per day.
The call today covered many of the same points that have been shared with waiting families over the last several days. Here is what we learned:

The decreased processing of cases was set to start on March 10, and it appears that it has been put into effect.

The reason given for implementing the reduction was for the Ministry, with its limited resources, to improve its screening of each case while devoting time to other priorities.

DOS does not have information about what proportion of the cases processed each day will be match approvals (which happens prior to the court hearing) or final approvals (which happens after the court hearing). DOS is working to get clarification.

DOS estimates that between 800-1000 cases are currently in-process. It is not clear what “in-process” means. As of Jan 2011, DOS estimated that as of January, 2011, over 3000 I-600A cases have been filed for an adoption from Ethiopia.

A very preliminary and rough estimate by the DOS is that families could be delayed up to a year. CHSFS tentatively interprets this to be a 1-year delay for families who have already accepted a referral and notes that the potential delay will likely be influenced by where a family is in the process between referral acceptance and Ethiopian court final written approval. It is unclear how this may impact families who are waiting for a referral. CHSFS is cautiously waiting for more information on what this will officially mean for families with referral and without referral.

DOS was able to confirm that the current Minister of Adoptions is being removed from the post effective next week. DOS is unsure how this will affect processing.
DOS has heard that international entities/organizations have offered to provide technical assistance to the Ethiopian government.

The officials from the U.S. Embassy plan to meet with officials from the Ethiopian government on Monday. DOS will post additional information on its website as an alert.


Daily update...

I wish I could write more right now, but I can't.  I'm too scared, tired, and just plain exhausted from all of the changes this week to even come up with words at this time.  Our plan is to sit back (easier said than done), pray and wait to see what's going to happen with Ethiopian adoption as a whole.  After that time and a lot of soul searching, we'll probably have some pretty tough decisions to make as to how we are going to add another child to our family.  Ethiopia is in our hearts and it's where we've believed that our child is for 2 1/2 years, how do we let go of that?!? 

Posted on the CHSFS website yesterday:

Information from the Department of State.

Government of Ethiopia Plans Major Slow-Down in Adoption Processing
March 9, 2011

Citing the need to work on quality and focus on more important strategic issues, the Government of Ethiopia’s Ministry of Women, Children, and Youth Affairs (MOWCYA) will reduce to a maximum of five the number of adoption cases it processes per day, effective March 10, 2011. Under Ethiopian adoption procedures, MOWCYA approves every match between prospective adoptive parents and an Ethiopian child before that case can be forwarded for a court hearing. The U.S. Embassy is working with Ethiopian government officials and adoption agencies to learn more about this change in procedures. We will continue to share information as it becomes available.

Given MOWCYA's current caseload, the U.S. Embassy anticipates that this change could result in an overall decline in case processing of some 90 percent. If this change is implemented as proposed, we expect, that parents who have begun the process of adopting from Ethiopia but have not yet been matched with a child could experience significant delays. It is not clear if this change in procedures would have any significant impact on cases in which MOWCYA has already approved matches.

Prospective adoptive parents should remain in close contact with their adoption service provider to obtain updates on individual cases.