Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A New Look, Paperwork and an Amazing Story

How do you like our new blog header? A fellow blogger, Becky Lee Burk, designed it for us! She has some other things in mind to spruce up the blog! Thanks Becky!!

We are busy, busy, busy with paperwork! To give you an idea of what is required for our home study, here is a list of the documents we have to complete or collect:
  • Copy of of Birth Certificates-all four of us
  • Copy of Marriage Certificate
  • Copy of Income Tax Return
  • Copy of W-2 Forms
  • Copy of Medical Insurance Verification
  • Family Photo and Photos of Home
  • Home Study Application (14 pages including a complete financial report)
  • Autobiographies (6-9 pages of information about ourselves--not easy!)
  • Criminal Record--including fingerprints
  • Child Abuse Check
  • Employment Verification letters
  • 6 Reference Forms
  • School Record Forms-one for each girl
  • Health forms for all 4 of us
  • Copy of Identifying documentation
  • Authorization Form
  • Fee Agreement
  • Copy of Previous Home Study (pray that we find it!)

This is not even an exhaustive list! Wild, isn't it? Amazingly, we are 4 days in and have almost all of this complete! Isn't God good?!

Earlier today I came across this website:

This is an amazing organization whose story will bring you to tears. They rescue tribal children in Africa who are facing culturally mandated infanticide. We encourage you to help this organization in any way that you can.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Busy Weekend!

We had our first meeting with our home study social worker yesterday. We knew there was going to be more paperwork, but WOW, not THAT much! There is way more paperwork for the home study than for our dossier! Needless to say, I was very overwhelmed for a while. It will all get done though!

We are also busy working on another fundraiser project. In praying about what to do to raise money for our adoption, we wanted to do something unique to us. Something useful. We had been stewing over ideas for months and then it suddenly came to me--What do I like to do more than anything? People who know me well could probably answer this question quite easily. BAKE! I love to bake cookies, cheesecakes, muffins, truffles and just about anything else. So, naturally, it would make sense to put together a cookbook! It will be a collection of recipes I have collected through out the years. Each recipe will be one that I have used and enjoyed! We will also be including tidbits of information about the orphan crisis and general facts about Ethiopia. So far, people have been positive about it, but I would love feedback. Do you think this would be a good fundraiser idea?


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Fundraiser #1

You may have noticed a new icon on the side of our blog. Isn't that boy precious??This is our first fundraiser. Just Love Coffee is a wonderful company that is dedicated to helping orphans and adoptive families. The founder, Rob Webb, and his wife have adopted from Ethiopia also. This company was created as a result of their adoption. Here is a part of thier story from their website:

Rob Webb knows coffee. When Rob was two years old, his father started Webb's Coffee Service, which blossomed into a full-blown refreshment service supplying businesses in Nashville, TN and the surrounding areas, and is now run by Rob.
Rob Webb knows the adoption process. In the summer of 2008, Rob and his wife Emily were called to adopt from Ethiopia. After much prayer and discussion with their first two children they started their adoption journey in August 2008. During the flurry of paperwork and preparation, Rob & Emily read books not only on adoption in general, but specifically on Ethiopia. Learning that Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee caught Rob's attention, and after reading about the living conditions and wages of the average coffee farmer, he was compelled to take action. What developed through his reading and his trip to Ethiopia to unite with his daughters was a realization that he could combine his expertise and longstanding desire to roast his own coffees with his desire to help others. Just Love Coffee Roasters was born! Roasting Fair Trade Specialty coffees, Just Love uses proceeds to help an Ethiopian orphanage and families adopting not just from Ethiopia, but from anywhere in the world.

This is such a great fundraiser for us because it costs us nothing! All we had to do was sign up and we recieve $5 from each bag of coffee sold through our website. You can click on the icon to the side or go to to check out all of their wonderful coffees. They have light, dark, medium roast as well as decaf and expresso. We have ordered some and I can't wait to try it. I have heard it is absolutely wonderful!. Our goal is to sell 200 bags. If you love coffee, we would love to have your support. If you know someone who loves coffee, let them know about it.

Also, congrats to 6 families from our agency that recieved word yesterday that they will be traveling to pick up their children next week!!! Woohoo!


Sunday, April 18, 2010


Adoption isn't cheap! But, then again, having a baby by birth isn't that cheap either. One of the scariest parts of international adoption and the decision to move forward as been the financial aspect. The cost of international, well adoption in general, is staggering! It almost seems ridiculous for it to be as costly as it is. But every dollar spent has a purpose.

We have dedicated ourselves to full transperency during this process and this includes the cost of our adoption. For this reason, we would like to share with you the estimated costs we are anticipating in the next year or so. Most of these numbers are estimates and may change, but it will give you a general idea of the cost.

Right now we are in the paperchase stage of the process. The fees needed during this phase are:
AWAA Application fee $250
1st Installment of Program Fee $1500
Home Study $1640 + $900 for 3 post placement visits
Hague Training $175
Documents/Background Checks/Passports $100-$500
USCIS Fee & Update Fee + Fingerprinting $830
Notarization, Certification, and Authentication of Dossier documents $400
Total: $5795-$6095

When our dossier is ready to send (hopefully by the end of July) we will need to send it along with the following:
Dossier Courier Service $150
2nd Installment of Program Fee $2000
Post-Adoption Report Deposit $1000 (fully refundable if all post-adoption reports are returned on time)
Dossier Service and Translation $800
Half international Program Fee $3750
Total: $7700

When we recieve our referral, which should be 4-6 months after completing our dossier, we will need to have the following:
International Specialist Consultation $100-$400
3rd Installment of Program Fee $1500
1/2 International Program Fee $3750
Total: $5350-$5650

After recieving our referral, our court date determines when we will travel. Since the two trip policy is brand new, we really do not know exactly how much more taking two seperate trips will cost. No one with our agency has been assigned a court date after May 9th, which is when attendence at court is required. Matt & I will travel alone the first time and then we will bring the girls with us on the second trip. The following numbers for travel costs are our own estimates:
Airfare (both trips) $6000-$10000
Visas $80
Visa/Embassy Fee (1 child) $400
In-Country Travel Package $2800-$4000
Post Placement visits--these will already be paid to the Home Study agency
Post Adoption Administrative Fee $385
Re-Adoption (this is so the child will have a US birth certificate) $300-$1000
Other Costs (doctor visit, related co-pays, social security card, passport cost, postage, phone calls, etc.) $100-$1000

Which brings the Grand Total anywhere from $28,910 to $36,230. Yikes, right! Our agency's current estimate is a little less than this, but does not include estimates for two trips or taking our girls with us. We know taking Maggie & Violet will add to our expense, but the benefit of them going far outweighes the cost!

So, how are we going to do it, you ask?? By Faith. God has called us to this. By Faith, we will obey. We have already seen God work and cannot wait to see what He has planned!

No, we do not have $30,000 just lying around. That would be awesome, wouldn't it? No, we do not expect $30,000 to just appear out of nowhere, although God can do that if he so chooses! Yes, we do have a plan, but it is not set in stone, either. We do have some savings already set aside for the adoption. Using our past two tax returns we have been able to pay some things off, including our van and a student loan! This has freed up some extra money that we will be putting aside each month specifically for adoption cost and then later for baby costs.

We will also be doing some fundraising. We realize that not everyone may be comfortable with this idea. We completely understand and ask that no matter how you feel, just keep praying for us. We covet your prayers more than any money you could give. We have several fundraising ideas spinning in our heads. We'll save all that for another post.

If it comes down to it, we will get an adoption loan (sorry, Dave Ramsey) to pay the rest of our expenses. There is a great Christian credit union that gives adoption loans for a great rate. We would love to be able to not have to do this, but it is comforting to know that we have the option.

Well, this post has become a long one! Have a great week!


Sunday, April 11, 2010


Not too much news on the adoption front. Just paperwork, paperwork, paperwork! We did finish the Hague Training. That was a great step to complete!

I thought it would be fun to share some family adoption videos with you. These are three families that have adopted from Ethiopia. They have inspired and encouraged us as we have begun the journey. Make sure you have a kleenex handy--Trust me, you'll need it!

If you are having trouble seeing the entire screen, double click and it will go straight to youtube. I tried to make them smaller and couldn't!

This first video is a family that adopted from the same agency that we are with-America World. Many of the places in the video will be places we will be going in Ethiopia!

This little guy is just about the cutest I've ever seen!

Lucy Lane-One of the first videos we found. She is so precious!

Doesn't that make you want to run to Ethiopia and bring home a bunch of those precious little ones?


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Grass Huts & Green Leaves

My girls! Aren't they beautiful?! There are still times I am amazed that I've been allowed to be their mother. They came to us when they were 8 years old and just turned 13 in January. It's been a crazy 4 1/2 years! It hasn't always been easy, but even in the most difficult times, I can't imagine my life without them. They are growing up so fast!

Many people have asked how the girls are feeling about the adoption. They are thrilled! It is definitely the right time. A couple of years ago, we were presented with the possibility of adopting a newborn. It ended up falling through, and though Matt & I were disappointed, we knew it was God's plan. Violet had been asking for a baby brother for years, but when the possibility actually presented itself, she panicked. Her behavior, which is normally a challenge for us =), became impossible. After much coaxing, she admitted she was afraid of being forgotten if we adopted another child. We knew then it was not the right time. So, we prayed and waited.

This time around, it was different. Maggie burst into tears almost immediately! Violet didn't believe us at first--I saw a little apprehension. But then, when Matt told them that they would be coming with us to Ethiopia and how important it was to include them in the entire process, her tears flowed. Tears of joy. The fear was gone, replaced with utter excitement. About 10 seconds later, in true Violet fashion, the tears stopped and she burst out "Are we going to have to sleep in grass huts and wipe with green leaves?" Priceless!

Even now, they are nothing but ecstatic about it all. We gave them each a necklace with the Amharic word for sister on them. They wear them with pride! We have had to remind them not to drive people crazy talking about it. They have spent hours coming up with names for their little brother--Some aren't too bad! I can't wait to see their faces when they see him for the first time. They are going to be such great big sisters!

By the way, we did let Violet know that there are actual buildings and bathrooms in Ethiopia. We did assure her that if it came down it, we could bring our own TP!


Monday, April 5, 2010

More FAQ's

Hello Everyone! I hope your Easter was a blessed one! We had a wonderful weekend spent with family, doing some spring cleaning and some fun adoption paperwork! =)

In the week or so since we have started our "paper pregnancy" we have gotten several things accomplished. We have gotten new copies of our birth and marriage certificates, had our physical exams, gotten Matt's employment verification, contacted our home study agency and began our Hague training. Not bad for a week, right!? I have a feeling keeping all this paperwork organized is going to be a bit of a chore, but we bought a little filing box and are setting up a specific area to keep all of this stuff.

Thanks again to all of you who are praying for us. Keep it up! Right now, our main prayer request is getting our home study begun and completed as quickly as possible. We are trying to work out a way for someone local to conduct the home study, since our agency is out of Kansas City and paying mileage would cost an outrageous amount. We need a completed home study to send in with I-600A (immigration form stuff), so the sooner that can be accomplished the better!

Ok, on to the FAQ's

Do you know him already? and along with that. . .How do you know he is a boy?

No. In fact, depending on the length of our process, he may not have even been conceived yet! We will not be put on the list to receive a referral until our paperwork is completed and sent to Ethiopia. We know he is a boy because we are requesting a boy. We would really be happy with either gender, but the wait for a boy is significantly shorter. We could put in for either gender, and would most likely get a boy anyway. Knowing that we are getting a boy will be beneficial in getting his room ready and preparing for him. During our long wait, it will be nice to have nursery preparations and such to keep me busy! Besides, Matt thinks it's time that he's not the lone male in the house! =)

Why does it take so long?
It just does. In a process like this, it can be easy to get frustrated by how long it takes. The waiting is not going to be easy at all! It can be hard to understand why, if there are willing parents and 4.6 million orphans in Ethiopia, it has to take as long as it does. But really, as you go through the process, it makes sense. We are, after all, dealing with two different governments in the process. Here is a breakdown of the process and the length it takes:
  1. Application & Paperchase-4 to 6 months. This is the stage we are in right now. This involves collecting all the documentation we will need for our Dossier. The Dossier the collection of every document and form that we have and will be collecting, including our home study and approval from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Getting all this together takes time, especially the home study and immigration papers. Not only do all these documents need to be collected, but most of them have to be notarized and then certified by the Secretary of State. Once our Dossier is complete, it is sent to Ethiopia and we are officially DTE and on the waiting list. DTE stands for Dossier to Ethiopia.
  2. Dossier Submission and Waiting-4 to 6 months. Once our Dossier arrives in Ethiopia, it needs to be translated--all 30+ documents!! It is then processed and we wait for our referral call! As of last week, the current wait time is 4 to 6 months, but that could change. The wait for a girl is around 8 to 11 months! When we receive our referral, we will be sent a picture of our son, his medical history and a short profile of him. We then will need to send in a referral acceptance form stating that we do, in fact, want him! I can't imagine not accepting any referral, but I am sure there are instances where this may occur. I firmly believe that the Lord already knows who are son will be and that the boy referred to us will be the child God want us to have!
  3. Court & Travel- 3 to 6 months (we think). As of last week, we officially will have to make two trips to Ethiopia. This is new and won't start until have May 9th, so this may change. What we have been told is that we need to be prepared to travel to Ethiopia approximately 4 - 8 weeks after receiving a referral in order to be present in Ethiopia for our appointed court date. Families will remain in Ethiopia for roughly 4 -7 days and will then return to the US. Up until now, parents have not been required to be present for court. We are hoping that being there will give us a better chance of passing court the first time. The chance of passing court the first time is currently 50%. There are some families that have had to wait until the 8th court date to pass. We are praying it will not be that way for us. Passing court means you are legally the parents of your child. Woohoo! After officially passing court, we will then travel back to Ethiopia approximately 6 -12 weeks later to pick up our son. The hardest part of this process will be leaving Ethiopia the first time without our child. I cannot even begin to imagine how hard that will be! But, we will get through it and it will be worth it all in the end.

Well, that's it in a nutshell! Sounds simple right? This is really just a rough breakdown of this process. Anything can happen to delay or slow it down. We have been told repeatedly to be prepared for anything and everything. We would love to have him home a year from now, but we will be patient and wait for the Lord's timing. His timing is always better than our own!