Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Crossing the Valley-Insight During the Wait

AWAA has a blog that I follow regularly and today they posted a blog written by Alison McLennan. I know that Garth and I haven't even been in this valley for a month, and honestly the time since we were DTE has gone by pretty quickly so far, but I know as the months go by, they will get longer. It is at those times that I know I will come back to this blog entry to help me get through the wait. It so touched me that I wanted to share it with you.

"Crossing the Valley" - Insight During the Wait

By Alison McLennan

On October 31, 2009, I stepped into our local FedEx office and handed the clerk five and a half months of eagerness, determination, and hope wrapped up in a two-inch-thick folder. Six weeks later, when my computer screen confirmed that folder’s arrival in Kigali, Rwanda, I wanted to climb up on the roof and scream to the world that the McLennans were finally DTR.

That was a mountaintop moment. “Gotcha Day” will be another. But in between these mountains lies a deep valley known as Waiting, and you can’t move from one peak to another without passing that way.
Waiting is a place of diverse terrain, sometimes dark and despairing, other times beautiful and serene. From a distance the valley appears calm, even stagnant. But all who travel there will tell you that Waiting is a battleground, and the enemy’s name is Deceit.

Deceit whispers many lies in the ears of travelers, some of which are cleverly disguised to sound like wisdom, hope, or noble conviction. The key to a successful journey is recognizing those lies for what they are, and listening for Truth’s response.
Following is a partial transcript of this traveler’s ongoing battle with Deceit in the Valley of Waiting:

1. “Harmless Distraction,” a.k.a. Wasting Time

Deceit whispers: Waiting doesn’t have to be so hard. Distract yourself—watch more television, keep your calendar full, make lots of plans. Time will pass more quickly if you’re too busy to think.
Truth responds: “…suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope…” (Romans 5:3b-4). There is pain in Waiting, but also great reward. Instead of burying yourself in distraction, choose to be still. Allow hours of stillness to open your eyes to hidden stains of pride in your thought life, your fear of surrender, lack of faith, and desire for praise from others. Choose stillness, and you will be better able to discern the voice of Him who leads you.

2. “Conviction,” a.k.a. Self-Righteousness

Deceit whispers: Vacations, new cars, eating out…those people obviously aren’t losing sleep over the orphans of the world. The money for their daily trip to Starbucks could go a long way toward your adoption expenses…
Truth responds: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3) Do you have food in your pantry? Have “leftovers” ever been a phenomenon in your home? Cease your complaints and comparisons, and beware of your misinformed pride in having less than some. Frugality is wise, but it doesn’t make you holy. Neither does adopting make you holy. Surrender your pride and echo the prayer of the repentant heart, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

3. “Optimism,” a.k.a. Idealizing the Future

Deceit whispers: Waiting is the hardest part of adoption. Everything will be better when your baby is home.
Truth responds: “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1).You dream of holding your little one close, rocking him to sleep, soothing every cry and loving away every fear. Are you doing this with the children you already have? Are you cherishing your husband, family, and friends…or are you losing ground to selfishness and pride? Rather than dreaming of a brighter future, devote yourself to loving others better today.

4. “Staying Informed,” a.k.a. Looking for Hope in All the Wrong Places:

Deceit whispers: Spend more time reading blogs, scouring chat groups, listening for rumors. The more information you can find, the better you’ll feel.
Truth responds: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). Rumors are shifting shadows. Even the most sincere promises from trustworthy friends are shifting shadows. There is only one unchanging source of hope, and your adoption timeline rests in His hands alone.

5. “Realism,” a.k.a. Being a Victim

Deceit whispers: This wait is eternal, and there’s nothing you can do about it. You’re helpless, totally at the mercy of a foreign government.
Truth responds: “When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who know my way” (Psalm 142:3). You are not waiting on Rwanda, you are waiting on God. He is good, He knows your heart, He loves your child, and He is faithful. Therefore, wait with hope, make room for stillness, and invest your energy in proactive ways—chronicle your journey, befriend other adoptive families, learn about your child’s birth country. Turn your eyes from yourself to others. Address the needs in front of you today, and leave tomorrow in God’s hands.

Remember, fellow travelers: Deceit’s end-game is confusion and discouragement. The enemy may not be able to prevent us from crossing the valley, but he can lead us down dangerous paths that bypass the many beauties of Waiting. So be vigilant, and remember that no matter what lies the enemy whispers in your ear, one thing is certain—Truth always has an answer. So as you walk, consume Truth, speak Truth, meditate upon Truth. Keep your eyes on the Word of Truth, for “your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105).

Until we meet on the mountaintop…

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Ethiopian courts have reopened!

Today we found out that the courts have officially reopened! There have been some families, like the Chambers, who have been patiently waiting for this day to come. Now all those families who received their referrals are that much closer to getting to meet their new children! Once the children that are currently waiting for their forever families in the transition homes start to go to their new homes, then there will be room for MORE REFERRALS!!!! Of course, that is VERY exciting to us. We are now one step closer to our children! :-)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Adoption family of the week #5-The Chambers Family!

Josh and Autumn Chambers are from Houston, Texas and they have two sons. The Chambers' adoption journey started on July 14, 2009 when they completed the online application to the Ethiopia program at America World. They were able to get their dossier completed in March and were DTE on March 18th for an infant 0-12 months old. Five months later on August 10, 2010, they got a referral for a 2-1/2-month-old baby GIRL! Since the courts have been closed the last month or so, they haven't gotten to go over and meet their baby girl, but courts will be opening this week so they will hopefully get their court date soon! Right now they are starting to pack, get their vaccinations, and gather donations to give the various places they will be visiting. Autumn has a list of items they are trying to get on her September 19 entry, so if you would like to help with that, make sure to read that particular blog. The Chambers' also have a coffee fundraiser and T-shirts for sale on their blog, so if you would like to help them financially, check out those opportunities as well. You can see their blog here. Once they pass court they will be able to post pictures of their new baby girl, so check back often!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Unofficial Wait List

I think I may have mentioned at one point in time that when Garth and I started this adoption journey, I joined a Yahoo Group (YG) specifically for families adopting from Ethiopia through America World. This group has been invaluable to me when I needed help with our dossier, for support when things weren't going according to my plan, and encouragement. In addition to providing help and support, there are several different documents that have been created such as a file with suggestions from those who have already been to Ethiopia, a file with all the contact info for those families who have joined the Yahoo Group (and introduced themselves), and even a file with vaccine information. Well the file that I will be sharing about today is the DTE and Waiting List. Once a family is DTE, the gal who keeps this up to date adds your name, DTE date, and what age/gender of child(ren) you are requesting. There are columns for infant boys, infant girls, twins or siblings, unrelated, boy 12 months or older, girl 12 months or older, and child over 3 years.

Well as of yesterday, Garth and I have been officially waiting for our referral for 3 weeks! Now if you know me at all, you are probably thinking "well Carmen has been checking this list daily since becoming DTE". would be WRONG! I actually just looked at this file YESTERDAY! We are #14 for twins or siblings and #3 for unrelated children! You may think that we will definitely be referred unrelated children, but that isn't necessarily the case, as there would have to be two children available at the same time who meet our personal requirements and that isn't always easy to find. This list is "Unofficial" because it only includes families who have joined the YG and introduced themselves to the group. I am quite certain that there are families out there who have not joined the group or have not introduced themselves to us who are also in line. That said, I am VERY excited about being able to keep track of where we are on this unofficial list and see how quickly we can move up the ladder! I will keep you informed periodically of where we are so you know as well.

Welcoming Angels Information Sessions

Last Sunday I told you about the Welcoming Angels Program that will allow older Ethiopian children (to start) to come live in the United States with host families for about a month in Maryland. Well America World is going to be having some information sessions being held at Baltimore area churches next month for Maryland families interested in participating in Welcoming Angels, the Winter 2011 hosting ministry (tentatively scheduled for February 2011). If you live in Maryland and are interested in learning more about Welcoming Angels, please feel free to contact me and I'll give you the details. I think this is a great opportunity for families to demonstrate God's love for orphans by opening their home for these children and chaperones.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tupperware fundraiser update

Hello everyone! I wanted to update you on our Tupperware fundraiser. It has been going for 5 days already and we have already had more than $150 profit. Thank you to all those who have ordered! This fundraiser will end after 45 days from the start, so you have until November 1 to order these great products. These would make great Christmas presents, birthday presents, or even Thanksgiving presents (as Garth and I will be giving thanks for all your orders!) If some of you are not comfortable ordering online, I would be happy to print out a sheet of the items that are available to purchase for you to look at and make the order for you. You could just send us a check for the total. You can e-mail me at to do this. Or you can click here to look at the products and then let me know what you would like to order.

Thanks again to all the people who have already ordered. Every item that you purchase...not matter the size...brings us that much closer to our children, and that means more to us than anything.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Adoption Family of the Week #4-Lee and Monica Russell

Lee and Monica Russell have been married for 12 years and they have 3 girls, Madison, Chloe, and Ivy. They currently live in Baton Rouge, LA. They have had friends over the past several years who adopted internationally that they watched from a distance and over the last 8 years they had talked about adopting a little boy and prayed about it, but never thought it would go any farther than that. Well, God had other plans in mind. Earlier this year, God put adoption on Monica's heart and He wouldn't let her dismiss it anymore. So, they requested an information packet from America World. As soon as Monica started looking at those pictures of orphans, she knew that God had called them to adopt. On May 17, 2010, they sent in their application for the Ethiopia program and since then have been paper chasing. They are requesting an infant boy up to 1 year old whom they are going to name Shepherd. They are coming along nicely with their paperwork and just had their fingerprint appointment on Friday! Check out their blog here!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Welcoming Angels Program

Over the last several months, I have been very grateful that Garth and I chose America World Adoption as the agency we are working with. Every time I have asked a question (which has been MANY times), had to be reminded to do something that I had forgotten, etc., the person that I was working with was always professional, patient, and kind. So, when I got an e-mail from America World about a new program that they are going to be starting, I immediately decided to brag on them. The program is called Welcoming Angels and it is an international orphan hosting program. Welcoming Angels is based on the premise that God places the lonely in families (Psalm 68:6) and works through the Church to show loving-kindness and hospitality to those in need (Hebrews 13:2). Through Welcoming Angels, older orphaned children from various countries will be given the opportunity to live with families in the United States for short term stays. During the hosting period, children will participate in Christian family life, experience American culture, learn English, and make new friends.

Currently, Welcoming Angels is looking for churches in Maryland who want to participate with the January 2011 hosting program. Secondly, several families from Maryland are needed to host 10 older children from Ethiopia and 2 adult chaperones in January 2011 for 4 weeks. In addition, there is a special need for pro bono medical services to provide children with medical care during the hosting period.

For those who want to help and live outside of Maryland, they are looking for families that have adopted older children, especially from Ethiopia, to serve as mentors to the host families. In addition, in order to keep the hosting program affordable to participating families, individual and corporate donations are greatly appreciated to cover expenses such as airfare for the children and their chaperones.

I personally think this is TOTALLY AWESOME! Not only will this program raise adoption awareness, but think of the blessings that the kids, host families, and churches will experience by participating in this program. America World truly is a wonderful agency.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Online Tupperware fundraiser!!!!!

Hello everyone! I KNOW you have been waiting with baited breath to see what our next fundraiser will be. Well, wait no more! A high school friend and classmate, Lisa Parshall-Swingholm, contacted me recently about doing a Tupperware fundraiser online. She is a Tupperware consultant and she offered to set it up for me. Not only that, but she is going to waive her consultant's fee! Normally, we would get 40% of the profit, but because she is waiving her fee, we will get 60%!!!! Isn't that AWESOME? You will see on the right side of our blog a link to our Tupperware page or you can click here so order today!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

New Blog Design!

For those of you who get these blog reports by e-mail and have never actually gone to our blog, I would encourage you to do so now. Becky Burk, who adopted her son Ezra from Ethiopia in 2008, has a wonderful talent to make boring-looking blogs look really cute! She even created a button for our blog that those of you who have blogs can add to follow our blog. You will also notice a new tab at the top titled "Featured Families". Each week that I highlight an adoptive family, I will post the current one on that page. I will also post them on the home page so their link will always be there, but on the "Featured Family" page you won't have to scroll through any newer posts to get to it. Thank you, Becky, for your amazing work on our blog. I absolutely love it.

I would also like to mention that our referral acceptance fee thermometer is almost half full! I would like to personally thank the one family who donated $4000 to Kingdom Kids on our behalf. You literally brought happy tears to my eyes when I was notified of that...of course I cry almost EVERY time I get a matter the amount. It truly is amazing to see how God is meeting our needs through so many people. May you all be abundantly blessed by our amazing Lord.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Adoption Family of the Week #3-The Cooper Family

Our 3rd adoption family of the week is Tim and Angi Cooper. They live in a small town in Indiana where they have lived their entire lives. Tim and Angi went to preschool together and were high school sweethearts and celebrated their 14-year anniversary this year. They currently have 4 cats and 2 dogs and have been praying for a child for many years. They are very excited to be adding a healthy newborn to 12-month-old Ethiopian daughter to their family as soon as possible. They are leaders in their church's Orphan/Adoption Ministry so adoption is obviously important to both of them. They were DTE on August 20, 2010 and are waiting for their referral. They were able to save all the money they needed for this adoption so they don't have any fundraisers, but they just recently started blogging, so take a look here.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Alldrin family Ethiopia video

The Alldrin family flew to Ethiopia last year to bring their three new children home. Recently, they made this video that shows their journey, including the day they got to meet their children and bring them home. It is 18 minutes long, but well worth the time. If you are anything like me, though, you should probably go get some tissues before you start watching so you'll have something to wipe your tears away. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


OK, I have the straight scoop on what we will have to pay when we accept our referral. For those of you who don't have time/don't want to read the entire blog, the total amount is $9385. That figure does not include the fees that will be due when we travel for court and for the embassy appearance which I will outline below for those "detail" people out there.

Final Program Fee: $1500
This is the 3rd America World program fee that is outlined in our America World agreement

Final International Program Fee: $7500 for two children ($3750 for one child)
This includes the following expenses:
America World Development Project program fee
Child(ren)'s medical exam(s)
Orphanage donation
Transitional child-rearing fee

Post Placement Admin Fee: $385
Administration fee for processing and translating post placement/adoption reports

So that is what is due AT referral acceptance. Also after we accept our referral, we will probably give the information that we have on our children to an International specialist who may be able to give us medical information about our children based on their medical records and pictures. I don't know how much that will cost exactly, but I have heard others say it is around $500. Following the acceptance, we will wait for a court date which is when Garth and I will fly over to Addis Ababa together and be there for about a week. At that time, we will have these additional expenses:

Trip 1: Airfare for two adults $2400 to $4000
This will be booked and paid for by us directly to the airline/travel agency as soon as we receive our court date.

Trip 1: In-Country Travel Package for two adults $1400 to $2500
This is due within 1 to 5 days of booking the Trip 1 flights. It is paid directly to AWAA with a credit card. It includes accommodations in Ethiopia, some meals, tour guides/translators, in-country transportation, and AWAA Travel/Processing fees.

Trip 1: Visas for two adults $40
This will be due upon arrival at the airport in Ethiopia. It is paid in cash by the family directly to immigration officials.

During this time, Garth and I will get to FINALLY meet our children, play with them, love on them, and get to know them a little bit. We will also have time to do some sight-seeing, shopping, and possibly even meet the parents who gave the children up for adoption. I would truly love to meet these courageous people in order to get as much history about the children as possible so when our kids want information about their birth family, we will have something for them. During the latter part of the trip, we will of course attend court to adopt our children and hopefully pass the first time. Following court, we will then come back to Nebraska where we will wait for our embassy appointment, all the while getting our home ready for children.

Approximately 4-10 weeks after returning home from court, we will receive an Embassy appointment date. You will probably hear screams of happiness all across America when that phone call comes. We will then have our trip 2 expenses.

Trip 2: Airfare for two adults $2400 to $4000
Just like trip 1, this will be booked and paid for by the family directly to the airline/travel agency as soon as we are cleared by Embassy to travel for our visa appointment.

Trip 2: Airfare for two CHILDREN $500 to $2000
We will buy these at the same time as our flight tickets.

Trip 2: In-country Travel Package for two adults $1000 to $2000
This is due within 1-5 days of booking Trip 2 flights. It will be paid directly to AWAA via credit card.

Trip 2: Visas for two adults $40
As on trip 1, we will pay this directly to the immigration officials at the airport

Visa/Embassy Fee for two children $800
This will be due at the Embassy appointment in Ethiopia. It will be paid in cash by us directly to the US Embassy in Ethiopia.

Following our Embassy appointment, we will ALL fly back to Nebraska and our new lives will a family of FOUR!!!!!

So, the estimated grand total that we need prior to bringing our children home is: $18,465 to $25,265. We still have a way to go financially, but I know that GOD will provide! However, if any of you find a money tree, please let me know where it is!


If you have been on my Facebook page at all over the last few days, you will have noticed that I have been tracking our dossier diligently. Well this morning when I checked, I was over the moon ecstatic to see that it was IN Addis Ababa! It will now be translated and the search for our children can begin! Over these past few months of paperchasing, the prospect of Garth and me being parents soon didn't really seem "real" to me. While I knew that we WOULD be parents when it was all completed, there was always one more thing that we had to accomplish to complete our dossier. I would imagine that it's like the first couple months of a pregnancy... you know that you are pregnant but you haven't felt the first flutter of your baby. Well seeing that our dossier is in Ethiopia was kind of like that first flutter and I know that this "paper pregnancy" will soon be our live, flesh and blood children! Of course, that could just be the butterflies in my stomach. :-) You can see the journey that our dossier has taken since I dropped it off at the FedEx office in Fremont, Nebraska on September 3. I don't know who "Rahel" is, but he/she is my new favorite person of the day!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Looking for books...and other items!

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Labor Day weekend and were able to enjoy it with family and friends. Garth and I actually stayed home and were able to get a lot of work done around the house, took a bunch of cans and turned them in, and stumbled upon our next fundraiser idea! While driving along, we found a place that will buy books of all sorts, CDs, LPs, DVDs, VHS tapes, software, games, etc. So, we would like to help you clean off your bookshelves, movie shelves, game shelves, etc.

On another note, I have gotten a breakdown of our next payment amounts, but I am waiting for the answer to one more question so as soon as I get that information I will be sharing it with you.

Carmen and Garth

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Adoption Family of the Week #2-The Cheney Family

Our 2nd family of the week is Adam and Heather Cheney and their 3 daughters London, Geneva, and Capri. They are from California and like us were DTE on September 3! They started this adoption journey in April so they have really moved along quickly. Check out their blog here! They also have a Just Love Coffee fundraiser so if you would like to help them out, please do!

Adoption Experiences

On the right side of our blog, you will see a new link to This is a website with a LOT of adoption sources from personal blogs like ours to adoption news to entries from adopted children themselves. I would like to encourage you to check it out! It is a wonderful site to learn more about adoption or just share in the joys and struggles with adoption.

Friday, September 3, 2010

We are officially DTE (Dossier to Ethiopia)!!!!!

All morning I was stalking my inbox when FINALLY at 2:23 p.m. I received the e-mail I had been waiting for...the one stating that our dossier had been handed off to FedEx and would be on its way to Ethiopia. The e-mail included a tracking number and I think I have checked that tracking at least 5 times since I got the e-mail. So far it has only left the Herndon, Virginia FedEx store. In the e-mail they also asked us to keep a few things in mind as we track our dossier:

1. Don't worry when our dossier makes stops in Europe and other countries for long periods of time. It happens frequently.

2. Don't be alarmed if when it finally DOES make it to Ethiopia if it says "wrong address". When our dossier gets to Ethiopia they call one of the AWAA employees there to come get it and because the Fed Ex office isn't near the employee, it isn't always picked up right away.

I, for one, am very thankful that they warned us about this. Since I will more than likely be checking the progress of our dossier multiple times a day, seeing "wrong address" on that tracking page would be EXTREMELY distressing.

So, what comes next? Well, Garth and I are requesting two children. If they are related, we have requested their ages be anywhere from newborn to 5 years old. If they are unrelated, then the older child will be 5 years old and the younger one will be newborn to 2 years old. While we don't really have a time frame for when we will get our referral, there was a family recently who got a referral for their sibling group after only FIVE WEEKS! As exciting as that would be, it kind of terrifies me as well because our next big payment will have to be submitted when we accept a referral. That total will be somewhere between $11,500 and $13,400. Since I don't know exactly how much it will be, I'm going to plan on it being the higher amount so if it turns out it is "only" $11,500, then that will be an added bonus! I will be putting up a thermometer for this new amount so hopefully it will rise quickly!

For now, though, we will keep having fundraisers and believing that the Lord will provide the funds just when we need them. Our referral call/e-mail will likely come sometime between 5 and 10 months.

I hope you all have a wonderful Labor Day weekend and stay safe!


Carmen and Garth

Today I Kissed an Angel

Today I kissed an angel. I knew it from the start. The first time my angel smiled at me; I gave away my heart.

Today I kissed an angel; This angel child of mine. Though not of my creation, My child by God's design.

Today I kissed an angel. My heart is dancing wild; Our family, by a miracle; Blessed by our angel child.

All I Really Want by Steven Curtis Chapman