"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." John 14:18

Our Family

Our Family

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Congratulations and Upcoming Event

Congratulations to Ron Thompson. He was the winner drawn for the Predators tickets for Saturday night's game with the Redwings. Thanks again to all of you who helped support us in this drawing. Go Preds!

Please also remember we have our dinner and silent auction coming up on Sunday evening, April 17th from 5-8 at the TN Baptist Convention Building on Franklin Road in Maryland Farms. If you did not receive an evite and would like to go, we would love to have you. Please send me an email at v_elaine@yahoo.com and I will send the evite to you. This will be a wonderful time of fellowship and a special time for us to share with all of you, our story and what God is doing in our lives. We will also have some GREAT auction items that you won't want to miss out on!

We have several "Date Night" packages that include a gift card to a restaurant, movie tickets, comedy show tickets, etc and babysitting. We are still in need of some volunteers to help babysit. This would require you donating 3-4 hours of your time on one evening to babysit for the winner of this auction item. If you are interested in helping out with this, it would be greatly appreciated. Please email me at v_elaine@yahoo.com if you can help with this.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Very Encouraging News Regarding Ethiopian Adoptions

The Joint Council has posted ...

"Since announcement, the Department of State has heard many rumors, but none have been substantiated. The U.S. Embassy can confirm that the Ministry of Women, Children and Youth Affairs has shuffled the portfolios of key adoption personnel. The Embassy has not been able to confirm how this reorganization may affect the processing of cases through the ministry. Additionally, the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa is discussing the possibility of developing a consolidated assistance proposal to MOWA to find out what the resource needs are and find what assistance can be given to allow MOWA to accomplish their goals."

Another large adoption agency that processes many Ethiopian Adoptions posted ...

"We want to update you on the feedback we received from our foreign staff in Ethiopia, which was confirmed in a discussion with our adoption colleagues in a Joint Council caucus call later in the day. At this time, all Foreign Staff on the ground in Ethiopia are reporting that MOWA has completed their staffing changes and are now currently working at full capacity to complete those adoption cases currently re-scheduled or assigned a court appointment through the courts of Addis Ababa. Our staff believe this to be around 800 cases they are working at full force to complete with no restrictions on the number of cases processed each day. This is great news! We are thrilled to hear these drastic changes do not seem to be going into full effect.
We are also pleased to report that for new cases moving forward; it appears the original changes proposed by MOWA will not be implemented to the degree of 5 cases a day. At this time it is unknown whether or not MOWA will issue a formal statement regarding how they will process cases in the future, but from all discussions it will not be a drastic decrease from before. Through the continued work, meetings, and advocacy of many Foreign Staff members in Ethiopia, it appears any future changes within the case processing for MOWA will avoid sweeping and disproportionate alterations to the number of cases processed each day. Rather, the hope is that MOWA, Joint Council, Adoption Service Providers, the US Department of State and other NGO organizations can come together to support the government of Ethiopia in strengthening the process for ethical adoptions to continue while also improving the general social structures to assist with family preservation in Ethiopia. This plan was acknowledged in the recent posting by the US State Department this morning at http://adoption.state.gov/news/ethiopia.html. We understand the US Department of State cannot issue a formal statement without MOWA issuing a retraction. Based on the information we are receiving, MOWA is concentrating on processing the current adoptions and the new staff is not focused on numbers, but doing their jobs."

It is awesome to see God's hand at work. I know so many of you out there have been praying with us and others involved in adoption that God would do a mighty work to change the news we received regarding the drastic cut backs beginning March 10th. Please continue to remember us and these children in your prayers so that these processes will continue to improve and they can come home soon to be with their forever families.

Valerie & Chris

Friday, March 11, 2011

Some More News...Please Keep Praying

Below is an article released yesterday. In addition, there is a meeting that will be held this morning by the US Department of State and all agencies contracted to adopt from Ethiopia. This article sounds very hopeful - we'll let you know more when we have updates. It is amazing to see God working right before our eyes. We serve an awesome God! PLEASE continue to pray for our child and these other families and children. Also, if you've not already signed the petition to stop the MOWA directive, please refer to my previous post on March 7th or to the link on my facebook and sign the petition.

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11


(From National Council for Adoption) NCFA Issues Statement Regarding Ethiopia Adoptions
At the end of February 2011, the Ethiopian Ministry of Women, Children and Youth Affairs (MOWA) issued an unexpected directive indicating a dramatic reduction in the number of inter country adoption cases to be processed by the Ministry. This directive is scheduled to go into effect by Thursday, March 10, 2011.

In 2010, more than 2,500 Ethiopian children were adopted by American families. Should MOWA implement the recent directive as indicated, the number of adoptions from Ethiopia could fall as much as 90%, although the full impact of MOWA's decision is unknown and cannot be predicted at this time.

This ruling follows a year of significant progress in improving and increasing transparency in the Ethiopian adoption process. Following several safeguards enacted last year, NCFA's confidence in the Ethiopian adoption system has grown significantly. Additional protective measures may still be necessary, however, to increase global confidence in the process. MOWA's recent decision appears to have surprised many Ethiopian government officials, as well as the Central Adoption Authorities in the U.S., Italy, and Spain. Many within the adoption community, including the U.S. Department of State (DOS) and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), members of Congress, child welfare officials in many countries, and the National Council For Adoption (NCFA), have criticized the MOWA directive as unfair, unnecessary, and harmful to children in Ethiopian orphanages who await permanent families.

NCFA is grateful for the swift action taken by the U.S. Department of State, led by Special Advisor Ambassador Susan Jacobs, to communicate with Ethiopian adoption officials in an effort to reach a favorable resolution that will serve the best interests of abandoned and orphaned children in Ethiopia.

"We are encouraged by the advocacy taking place behind the scenes and hopeful that these collective efforts will bring clarity and an immediate adjustment to this unjust and unnecessary ruling, which has the potential to negatively impact so many vulnerable children," said NCFA president and CEO Chuck Johnson.

Unconfirmed reports indicate that personnel changes within MOWA have resulted from the rogue handling of this decision, and because of this, NCFA is hopeful that new leadership will offer opportunities for better communication and a swift resolution to this looming crisis. NCFA respectfully calls on MOWA to amend its recent harmful directive and ensure that subsequent reforms reflect a comprehensive child welfare policy that retains the option of inter country adoption for Ethiopian orphans while ensuring policies and procedures that serve the best interests of children.

NCFA's website contains the most current information they have: https://www. adoptioncouncil. org/

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Few Thank Yous, Some Sad Changes, and Some Precious Reminders that He is Sovereign and Greater Is He that is in Me, Than He is that is in the World.

I have many varying things to post today so please forgive the hodge podge.

I received the check from Chick-fil-A today. We had $558 in sales assigned to our adoption so Chick-fil-A gave us 15% of that which totaled $83.70. We also received another $21 in bucket donations at the cash register so altogether we raised $104.70! Thanks to all who came out. In addition, this weekend we received an anonymous letter with no return address and it was signed "Friends". They apologized for not being able to come to Chick-fil-A and enclosed a nice cash donation. Thank you to whoever you are - we so appreciate your willingness to help.

The next topic is much harder for me to write about. We were informed on Friday evening that there will be drastic changes in the number of adoptions that are processed in Ethiopia due to changes in procedures at MOWA (Ministry of Women’s, Children’s and Youth Affairs). Here's how it works: Once a family accepts a referral of a child and once all paperwork is in order, the case is submitted to court. The COPY of the dossier goes to the court but the original dossier goes to MOWA. MOWA must write a letter of recommendation to the court approving the adoption. If the MOWA letter is not there by your court appointment then your case does not pass court. The case is then given another appointment and hopefully the MOWA letter is there by the next court date. What this announcement is saying is that MOWA will be writing LESS letters than in the past. They were writing about 30 letters a day. NOW they plan to write only 5 letters per day. This means that there will now be long delays in waiting for our child to come home. Here is a link to one of the articles that provides more details: http://www.voanews.com/english/news/africa/-Ethiopia-to-Cut-Foreign-Adoptions-by-Up-to-90-Percent-117411843.html

While we certainly don't advocate corruption, coersion or any other immoral procedure in adoption proceedings and we understand the need to weed that out, we also understand that this way of doing it slows down the process so much for children in the pipeline. In an ideal world, we can prevent the need for adoption, but we are a long way from that world. So, until then, children will pay the price. This is heartbreaking to us. We have both shed many tears the last few days and I know there are many more to come. I was reminded by another family who has adopted though that God is still in control of this and He has led us to adopt from Ethiopia for His reasons and in His time. She told us of a book called "Sun Stand Still" about the story of Joshua and his battle against the 5 Amorite kings and their armies. After being asked to help, Joshua and his army marched all night to surprise them. After an all day battle Joshua and his army were winning. With nightfall coming on Joshua feared the enemy would be able to retreat, regroup, and restrengthen. So, he asked God to make the sun stand still. Joshua 10:13 "So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped....The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day." The book is about not only asking God to do things (supernatural things), but really actually believing He can do them. So, surely, if my God can make the sun stand still; if He can feed 5000 with only 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish; if He can raise from the dead 3 days after death.....He can overcome 5 letters per day. Thank you my friend for such a precious reminder that God is Sovereign. That God is Bigger than anyone or anything. That if God is for us, who can stand against us?

We know that God loves adoption for His word tells us such. He teaches us to reciprocate this redemption in the very adoption He has offered us. (Eph. 1:5). We walk by faith, and not by sight. The uncertainties are many, fear looms large, and the temptation to wile away our blessed American lives on our own comfort and consumption is so strong. There is no other remedy against this weakness, but to turn our eyes to Jesus and His will for our lives. There is a job for everyone in the Kingdom. Everyone’s gifts can be used in some small or great way. Our roles will look different and our callings diverse…but they will and should be always united in the care and concern for the least of these.

Why adopt from Africa? Why adopt internationally? We are fortunate to live in a land whose government is doing much, though it is far from perfect, to care for its orphans. In America we have foster homes where children have roofs over their heads and food to eat, clothing to wear. It is not so in other countries. Orphans roam the streets, are sold like cattle to traffickers, or die, naked, in alleyways, trash piles, and city dumps. We have this knowledge that generations before us did not. I read a quote from an adoptive mom that said "We want to see an Ethiopia where children are safe, fed, and given the love of God. But it hasn’t happened yet. Their home is not safe. We have a safe home to share. Anybody who has adopted a child knows the huge commitment in time, money, energy, and spiritual muscle it takes to parent the child. This isn’t a fad. It's a calling. A little dark face in our family is not the “latest hot accessory”. The only bandwagon we are jumping on is the one God has called us to, which was to obey Him, by reaching out to the orphaned. We are all children of God, adopted into His family by the blood of Jesus Christ. We are all of Adam, the wrong race, but He embraced us anyway in our poverty and with all of our “special needs”. A Christian worldview does not overemphasize any one culture nor does it place importance on the amount of melanin in an individual’s skin, their eye shape, their hair texture, not the shape of their nose or the size of their lips. Race, culture, socio-economic status are not how disciples of Jesus categorize people. God loves diversity, and I don’t think He has anything but a big smile for those families that have embraced all kinds of diversity into their lives. He Himself has the most culturally diverse, multi-racial family ever.”

Please continue to pray for us. More importantly, please continue to pray for the children. It is so hard to think of our little son or daughter waiting for us to bring them home. I know that God is in control and so, though it is a daily struggle, I must rest in the knowledge that He knows best and His timing is perfect. In Him, all is, and all will be well. I will leave you with a video that is sung by many of the children's choirs in Africa. The words are "I am not forgotten, I am not forgotten, I am not forgotten, God knows my name. He knows my name. Light over darkness, Strength over weakness, Joy over sadness, He knows my name. Father to the Fatherless, Friend to the friendless, Hope for the hopeless, He knows my name. I will praise You. I will praise You. For I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am not forgotten. Never forsaken. I am not forgotten. He knows my name."


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Silent Auction Items

As mentioned in a previous post, we are hosting a Banquet and Silent Auction on Sunday April 17th from 5-8pm at the TN Baptist Convention Building on Franklin Road. We would love to have all of you join us. We'll be sending out an evite soon.

We have several great items already for our silent auction but would love to have a few more. Specifically, if anyone has gift cards, passes or tickets for restaurants, movies, sporting events, or stores that they would like to donate, we'd love to put them in our auction :-) Also if anyone has a vacation rental or timeshare and would like to donate a weekend for auction, that would be awesome too! Lastly, we have put together a few date night packages with restaurant gift certificates, movie tickets and babysitting. If any of you would be willing to donate a evening of babysitting for these items, please let me know. Thank you SO much for your donations. Our family really appreciates your prayers, your love and your support. Please feel free to contact me via email if you'd like to help - v_elaine@yahoo.com.


Friday, March 4, 2011

The American Dream...It sounds good doesn't it? But God has called us to more than this.

Prior to November 16, 2010, my dreams included things like taking the whole family on a Disney Cruise, buying a new car (our old Yukon now has 150,000+ miles on it!), going on a trip to Europe someday, etc. etc. While there's nothing wrong with any of these things, God has given me new dreams that now rank much higher. Now I dream of a little girl with spiral curls, or a little boy with chocolate brown eyes. I dream of traveling to a place that has few roads, where the people are not dressed in designer clothing but they are generous with what little they have and they welcome you with a smile. I dream of holding a child close to my chest and letting them know they are loved and secure, a child who would otherwise not have anyone to hold him or her and love them this way.

It would have been SO easy to continue to coast through life and live out the American Dream. To be honest with you, I'm afraid that's what I've been doing for quite sometime now. Oh sure, we went to church every Sunday and read our Bible but did we really live it out? Were we really taking His words to heart and letting the Gospel transform all areas in our lives? Or were we coasting along and keeping God in His own little box? God did not call us to coast. I am convinced that one day when I meet Him face to face, He will not say "Valerie, I wish you had kept more for yourself. I wish you had gone on more grand vacations. I wish you had bought yourself a nicer home or car, etc." What's funny is that I once thought that getting to do all those things was such a blessing but none of those things could have blessed us as much as this adoption process has. Please don't misunderstand - there is NOTHING about the adoption process that is easy. Adoption is hard. Can I just tell you that? It is VERY hard, this adopting thing. It costs a lot of money. It takes a lot of time. It is an emotional roller coaster. The waiting is sometmes unbearable. It is stressful and taxing on your family. It is very hurtful when some friends and family aren't supportive at all. It is discouraging when you hear bad news from the Embassy about the process slowing down due to corruption in the government. BUT.. it is also exhilerating to be following God's will. It is awesome to have so many praying for us and for our child. It is rewarding to know that God has a plan for us and for our son or daughter.

We've been very up front about the fact that we've decided to adopt because we were called by God to do this. The Bible is VERY clear that we are ALL called to love and care for the orphans and widows. Some families may not be called to adopt but we are ALL called to do something whether it be volunteering at the TN Baptist Children's Home, helping widows with their chores/home upkeep, supporting a family that's adopting by praying for them or lending financial support, etc. I want to "borrow" a few words here from a friends blog - Candi, I hope you don't mind but you said this SO well. Candi wrote "I want to challenge you to really help those who are willing to bring in another child. It is not something you wake up one morning and think, "hmm, I think I'll adopt." It is a long and strenuous process that only God can put together. Pray over that and see where you are supposed to fit in. None of us were called to coast - we were called to do God's work. And I promise you, you are in the plan to care for the orphans. If we all did our part, wow, just imagine the work God could do for orphans."

God does not call us to be successful. He calls us to be faithful to the task. Even when it's outside our comfort zone. More than that. I would say instead, ESPECIALLY when it's outside our comfort zone.

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9-10