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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Adoption Family of the Week #10-The DeVol Family!


Shannon and George DeVol have been married for 9-1/2 years. Shannon had always wanted to adopt and while George hadn't always had the adoption desire, he did have a special place in his heart for adoption. After about 3-1/2 years of marriage, they had their first daughter, Christin. After she was born, they started researching adoption, but before they could do anything about it, they discovered they were pregnant again, and had their 2nd daughter, Lindsey. Shortly after Lindsey turned 1, they discovered they were pregnant again. They were a little shocked but thrilled and this time they had a boy who they named Jack. Shannon's pregnancies were all very difficult, so while they were pregnant with Jack they decided they wanted more kids, but no more pregnancies so they would look into adoption again for the next one. When Jack was born, he was unexpectedly very, very ill and only lived for two weeks before going to be with Jesus. That time was obviously very hard, but it also brought them closer to the Lord and they learned what a great support system they had. When they felt they were ready to consider more children, they knew it was time to get serious about adoption.

They could both picture themselves with a little black boy, so they began looking at Africa and that ultimately led them to America World and Ethiopia. They are thrilled to be a part of this program. They were DTE on August 6 and are currently waiting for a referral of their infant son. Their girls LOVE to look at other families pictures and learn about Ethiopia and Christin asks almost daily how much longer until they get... their on deck e-mail...a referral...they go on their first trip...they get to go pick up their baby, etc.

Their fundraisers include a Just Love Coffee store, t-shirts, and a $5 radical campaign where people will give up something like a cup of Starbucks and donate $5 to their adoption. Check out their blog here and support them in any way you can!

Go Big Red!


No, this is NOT a post about the Nebraska Cornhuskers...although we did play a very good game against Missouri yesterday and won. :-) This post is about another Big Red...also known as Secretariat. Garth and I went to see this movie last night and if you haven't seen it, you should. It was EXCELLENT! In case you don't know, Secretariat won the Triple Crown in 1973...the 2nd most exciting event to happen that year. :-)

Seriously, there were several lessons to be learned through this movie and I wanted to share four of them with all of you.

First, Secretariat was sired by Bold Ruler, whose offspring wasn't known for their stamina, and Somethingroyal who was an older mare. In the movie, Penny Chenery Tweedy won Secretariat (who hadn't been born yet) by losing a coin toss. Somethingroyal's unborn foal was considered less desirable than the other foal. This made me think of older orphans and orphans who have medical conditions. Many people consider them to be "less desirable" because they think they will have more problems, they will have more trouble bonding, they will have the medical issues to deal with, etc. But just like Secretariat, they are not "2nd best". They deserve the chance to be the best that they can be and I bet parents who have adopted older children or those with a medical condition will tell you that they are the best...not 2nd best.

Second, Penny was not really supported by her family. Her brother automatically wanted to sell the farm because it had been losing money and her husband also wasn't too thrilled about having his wife being gone for long periods of time to take care of the farm. They tried to get her to sell it several times so they could be finished with it. But Penny stood her ground and wouldn't give up. I know several adoptive families who have someone in their family who is not very excited about their adoption plans, and I would guess that the majority of adopting families would tell you that there was someone who either tried to talk them out of it or was just generally not supportive of their plans. This is when we need to stand strong and not let someone else convince us to give up our dreams and lose what will undoubtedly be one of the most exciting days of our lives...the day we bring our child(ren) home.

The Belmont Stakes was the 3rd race that Secretariat would have to win to win the Triple Crown, and it was the longest race out of the three. In the movie, there is a scene where Lucien Laurin, Secretariat's trainer, and Penny are discussing the training of Secretariat for this race. Most trainers at the time didn't train as hard before the Belmont Stakes so their horse would be well-rested for the longest race. But Lucien knew that Secretariat LOVED to run and he was considering training Big Red hard before the race in the hopes that he would run faster each time, which is what they ended up doing. While training him, you could see others watching and Penny makes a comment about them thinking they were training Secretariat too hard. In the end, their unusual training worked, as Secretariat won with a time of 2:24 and won by 31 lengths, which has never been beaten yet. Sometimes, we have to go against conventional wisdom to do what you think will be best for you. History is full of these stories, the men who go against the odds to create something that others think is foolish, or embark on a new path that isn't the norm. Even though people might look at you like you grew a second head or outright say that they don't agree and think it's a bad idea, stick to your guns and don't give up just because someone says you should.

Lastly, when Secretariat eventually died in the fall of 1989 at the age of 19, they performed an autopsy on him. Now this part wasn't in the movie, but his heart was about 2-1/2 times the size of a normal horse. Not only was it bigger than normal, it was perfect. The veterinarian who performed the autopsy was quoted as saying "We just stood there in stunned silence. We couldn’t believe it. The heart was perfect. There were no problems with it. It was just this huge engine." This perfect enlarged heart is what his stamina is attributed to. Similarly, I believe that God gives families an enlarged heart for orphans. Now it might not be larger physically, but certainly emotionally. I believe God gives us these enlarged hearts also for stamina, as the adoption process is not a sprint, it is a marathon. You can usually tell who these people are because they talk about orphans A LOT! As one of the people with an orphan-enlarged heart, I can honestly tell you that we are NOT trying to drive you crazy with our fundraising endeavors, e-mails asking you to help orphans, or blog posts about orphans, but when the Lord puts something on your heart, it's really hard to think about anything else. Most of us sit in our nice warm homes with all the amenities that we enjoy like heat, air conditioning, TVs, toys, games, multiple cars, washing machines and dryers, enough food in our freezers and pantries to feed us for at least a month, automatic dishwashers, etc. without another thought to how others are living. But those of us who have an enlarged heart for orphans are thinking about those orphans who barely have enough food to eat, don't have a blanket or coat to keep them warm, and no toys to play with. It breaks our hearts and we wish we could save EVERY orphan out there and that makes us try everything we can to get others to help out as well.

There were some other lessons to learn from the movie, but those were the ones that spoke to me, personally. So again, if you haven't seen it, you should. It is even OK for children to see. It was also very refreshing to see a movie with no profanity, sex, or violence. So once again, GO SEE IT! Oh, for those of you who are still wondering what the most exciting event was in 1973, well on April 1 of that year, Ned and Linelle Kelley were blessed with their favorite (and only) daughter...and named her Carmen. :-)

God Bless!

Monday, October 25, 2010

One Stop Adoption Shop


I confess...I am one of those people who stalk blogs to see what fundraisers other adoptive families are having so I can get some really awesome stuff as well as help other families bring their kids home. The problem is that sometimes I will see things that I know I want, but that isn't the time to purchase, so later I have to try to remember where I saw the fundraiser. Well now I won't have to try to remember. The One Stop Adoption Shop is a blog where adoptive families can have a link added for their fundraiser so people like me only have to remember one place to go. There are easy to use tabs across the top for coffee, reusable grocery bags (one of my favorites, by the way), art, jewelry, give-aways, beauty products, clothes, magnets, puzzles, and miscellaneous items. I for one am going to be buying Christmas presents, birthday presents, Valentine's day presents, etc. from there. In addition to getting some really great items, you will absolutely make that family's day when you purchase something. So check it out today. You can click here to go to it. New fundraisers will be added every Sunday evening and each week a different fundraiser will be featured. This is the first week it has been going, and the featured fundraiser is a raffle for Dallas Stars tickets! Each chance is $5 or you can get 4 for $15. You will receive two $100 tickets for the Dallas Stars vs. Edmonton on January 11, 2011. The family having this fundraiser will also be adding more tickets as the entries come in!

If you are a family out there who is adopting and would like to have your fundraiser linked, you can send an e-mail to OneStopAdoptionShop@gmail.com with your name, blog or fundraiser web address, and the name/details of your fundraiser. Like I said before, new fundraisers will be added on Sunday nights.

Also, WHEN you purchase something off this site, let the family know that you linked to it from this site as well. We would love to know how many people are utilizing this blog. Christmas is right around the corner so avoid the crowds at the mall, crazed shoppers racing for that last item, and have a very relaxed and rewarding Christmas season by shopping online in your pajamas and helping these families bring their kids home. You won't regret it!

Adoption Family of the Week #9-The Adkins Family!

Amy and Lee Adkins live in Littleton, Colorado and have one daughter, Lilia, who they adopted from Russia in January 2007 after struggling with infertility for about 5 years. They have no doubt that adoption was God's plan for their lives because they were a family willing to hear the call of the orphan's heart and respond to it. Lilia is now 5 years old and last year they felt the Lord calling them to adopt again, this time from Ethiopia. They began the paperwork in September and were DTE on March 18 for a 0-12 month old little boy. They received their referral for a 2-1/2-month-old baby boy in September and are currently waiting for a court date so they can go meet him! They were led to Ethiopia this time because Lee had always felt that he might raise a black son, it was a good program, and the need there is so great. They are waiting patiently for their court date and Lilia can't stop talking about her baby brother. :-) They can't imagine their lives being any different than it is now and can't wait to be a family of four. Check out their blog here and pray for a quick court date!

UPDATE! They have a court date for December 16!!!! See prayer really DOES work!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Grocery Shopping

As you know, Garth and I are trying to save money every way we can to allow us to put as much as we possibly can towards our adoption. One of the various ways we are attempting that is by spending less on groceries....and that falls primarily in my court. I REALLY do not like grocery shopping. In fact, before we were married Garth told me that he enjoyed grocery shopping and would be glad to do it. While I knew that I had hit the jackpot with him, that certainly confirmed my original thought. :-) However, I think his previous "grocery shopping" was to go in and get about 5 prepackaged meals and then leave. After a couple trips to the grocery store with a list from me, grocery shopping became less fun. Ha! So, the job got transferred back to me. I have always used coupons whenever possible, but it took so much time to go through all the coupon inserts, look online, etc. So, when I was listening to Kat 103.7 about a month ago and heard about Michelle's Money Savers, I was intrigued. Since I don't like grocery shopping, I try to get a month's worth done in one trip. Yesterday it was time to go. On Thursday night, I went to Michelle's Money Savers and started looking. She has made it really easy to save money. On Wednesday or Thursday morning, she lets everyone know what the weekly ads are for several grocery stores in the Omaha area. That in itself is awesome because then you can look through them all in one place to see who has the best deal, but THAT'S NOT ALL! She also ads links to coupons from the various online coupon websites that will help you save even more! It was so easy and when I finished making my list and getting the coupons printed out that she had, I was actually excited about grocery shopping to see how much money I would save.

So, Friday morning I got up to go grocery shopping before I started working. While I was standing in line, I kept watching the amount go up..and up...and up. I was cringing when I saw the total, but then the exciting part started...the clerk started scanning my coupons. When she finished, I had saved $54.93!!!!!! I was ECSTATIC! The money that I saved on groceries is going directly into our adoption fund! How awesome is that? I would encourage everyone in the Omaha area especially to check out Michelle's Money Savers. The savings really do add up! For those who live outside the Omaha area, if you have some of the same grocery stores you could save too. The ads may be different in different areas, but there may be some crossover of specials. At the very least, it's worth taking a look. I don't know if I will ever "like" going grocery shopping, but utilizing this resource will make it somewhat tolerable, at least. Thanks so much Michelle!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sesame Street:Song: I Love My Hair

I used to love watching Sesame Street as a child. So I was thrilled when I heard about this new character. One of the top writers at Sesame Street and his wife had adopted a girl from Ethiopia. She kept telling her dad that she wanted long flowing hair that was straight, not curly. So, this dad created a new character to help his little girl...and millions of other little girls...build self esteem. Often, Barbie is the first lesson little girls get about beauty. You can see the ABC News video about how this new SS sensation was created by clicking here. To stop the music that automatically plays, scroll all the way to the bottom and click the pause button on Carmen's Playlist.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Prayer

This little Hannah knows how to pray! “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them. (Mark 10:13-16 ESV) Enjoy!

Weekly Encouragement

As you know, adoption is not a quick process. Even if you are really fast at getting your dossier completed, you still have to wait for that referral, then wait for your court date, then wait for your Embassy appointment before you can bring your child(ren) home. To help you through all this waiting, the family coordinators at America World send out weekly encouragement e-mails to us. In every issue of these weekly e-mails, there is a picture of an adopted child who is home, a Bible verse of the week, a tip of the week, an offer to pray for specific prayer requests, and a link to the America World blog.

Through the months, I have really looked forward to receiving these weekly e-mails. While families are paper-chasing, the tips of the week are geared primarily for getting the paperwork done, changes to paperwork policies, etc. Now that we are waiting for a referral, the tips are more related to that waiting period: Different classes we can take online to prepare us for our children, things that the Ethiopian government requires before we will pass court, etc. For example, one of the more recent tips of the week referred to being "on deck". When a family is approximately 1-3 months away from receiving a referral, America World will send out an "On Deck" e-mail with information on what to expect when their referral arrives. At that time, America World asks families to verify their current child request age and gender by e-mailing their family coordinator. Families requesting to adopt siblings need to verify with their family coordinator whether they wish to wait on the siblings requested or are open to a single child. When referrals arrive in the AW office, Family Coordinators first review and enter the children's information into their database and then make the much anticipated referral call! Their desire is to devote all of their time and attention to processing the referrals so that phone calls can be made as quickly as possible after taking care of certain paperwork pieces.

During this adoption process, there are obvious highs and lows, and I for one appreciate America World's dedication in trying to keep us well-informed with any new procedures, paperwork, etc. They truly are WONDERFUL!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Adoption Family of the Week #8-The Toone family!


Lee and Kylie Toone are from Sandy, Utah and they have been married for 4 years, desiring children that whole time. Kylie has had a desire to adopt since she was 9 years old when her church did a fundraiser for African orphans. When she and Lee married, he quickly came on board. While they originally hoped to have biological children first and then adopt, the Lord had other plans in mind...to have them adopt first and hopefully biological children will come later. At one point in time, their pastor said "God has no Plan B. Adoption is Plan A whether you are able to have biological children or not. It should NOT be a fall-back plan."

They began their adoption journey in early 2009. After researching adoption for 6+ months, they finally decided to go for it. They applied and were accepted to AWAA in September 2009. For the first 9 months they didn't get very much done adoption-wise because they moved and waited until they bought a new house to proceed. They quickly learned they were waiting on the Lord. Lee and Kylie are thrilled, honored, amazed, and blessed to be chosen to care for one of the world's orphans.

To raise funds for their adoption, they are selling "green" reusable grocery bags. You can see a picture of them here. Kylie wrote the message on the bag to tell the story of adoption. I personally purchased 2 of these bags and they really are wonderful. To purchase a bag, click the Donate button on the side of their blog. Check it out today!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Adoption family of the week #7-The Delfosse Family!


Jaime and Dean Delfosse are from Denham Springs, Louisiana and currently have three children: John Peter, Christopher, and Jane-Grace. They are hoping to add one or two more babies/toddlers to their family and were DTE on September 3, 2010 (just like us!). This is the 2nd Ethiopian adoption for the Delfosse family. They first adopted Jane-Grace in July 2009. She was almost 2 at the time. Jaime had wanted to adopt since she was 15 years old, and she and Dean talked about adoption when he asked her to be his girlfriend...15 years ago. He thought it was a good idea then, but they started pursuing adoption seriously about 4 years ago. When they first started thinking about adoption, they had thought they would adopt from China, but when they applied to adopt, they no longer qualified for China. They applied for El Salvador with Ethiopia in the back of their minds, but when the El Salvador program seemed to be going slowly, their director asked them to consider Ethiopia and they knew it was right. They chose their blog name, "Not Quite Brangelina" because people will tell them they are JUST like Brad (Pitt) and Angelina (Jolie). Jaime usually responds with "Yeah. We are totally just like them. Except for the cash, the abs, and the paparazzi. We are like Brangelina in a Dodge Caravan." The Delfosse family currently has three fundraisers...Beignet baby clothes, Show Hope t-shirts, and Web, Print, and other Geeky Stuff. Check out their blog today!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Something Momentous was happening!

This post is copied from Karen Wistrom's blog. They have adopted 2 boys from Ethiopia and Karen wrote this post on September 29. It moved me so much that I wanted to share it with all of you. Karen also has some very cute pictures on her blog of this construction project, so jump on over to her blog to see them. Enjoy!


Something Momentous was Happening

I never fully realized the full ramifications of being an orphan until we adopted two orphaned boys from Ethiopia. Other than the obvious and devastating loss of their parents, an orphaned child quickly spirals down an abyss of loss; loss of opportunity, loss of family inheritance, loss of status within their community, loss of protection, loss of ... everything.

In Ethiopia, an education requires monthly fees, school books and a school uniform. Without money to pay for school fees, that child cannot attend school, and the opportunity to get an education and "make something of themselves" is lost. Any family property, livestock or land is lost. Anything passed down from parent to child, from mother to daughter, from father to son ... is lost.

It's a parent's most valuable legacy ... the things we teach our children. The wisdom gained through hardship and experience, that we attempt to pass down to our children to (hopefully) lessen their mistakes. The advice and counsel we try to give as they navigate through childhood into their turbulent teens. But for an orphaned child ... their is no such legacy.

This last weekend, my parents came to help us with some house painting and to build a new railing for a deck. My dad's construction background comes in very handy on these types of projects and Jay and I are very willing to take instruction and learn from his expertise. This time, we had a new little helper that was extremely curious about all the tools that were suddenly appearing and the fresh load of wood that arrived with Grandpa.

Jayden (9 years old) ended up working alongside his grandpa all day, and well into the next day. Little boys are sometimes known for their short attention span, easy distraction, and quickness to boredom - but there were tools involved, and measuring tapes to learn how to use, and levels to hold in place until the bubble reached just the right spot! A dream come true for a curious (and mechanically inclined) little boy!

Jayden tucked himself along his Grandpa's side, and Grandpa was happy to have such an attentive helper and hard worker. And amid the hustle and bustle of all the projects, I had one of those moments where it suddenly dawns on me that something momentous is happening.

Planets are aligning,

broken cogs are suddenly meshing perfectly

and a little boy who was once an orphan, was in the process of gaining a birthright ... a new heritage ... a legacy, right before my eyes.

I stopped to watch (and take a few pictures) as Grandpa patiently explained to Jayden how to hold the deck spindle in place so he could screw it securely in place. How to check it to make sure it was plumb and straight. After a few, Jayden caught on and I watched my Dad smile approvingly and Jayden's face break into a brilliant smile. Pretty soon they had their own rhythm going and they were working together in perfect harmony with few words needing to be exchanged. When grandpa needed a different drill bit, Jayden anticipated it and presented the right one. When a new railing section was ready to be placed, Jayden was ready with the platforms and jigs to help with the placement. When the drill started to lose power, Jayden walked over to the charger to bring a fresh battery. Later on, I watched as Jayden demonstrated to his little brother, some of the finer points of the tools. Pointing out the different drill bits and the various screw heads. Pretty soon, Wesley was trying his hand at the hammer and drill, and sitting patiently while handing deck screws to his Daddy right when he needed them. Later, I thought about what Jayden's birth mother had told me about his birth father. "That's no child of mine," he had said, disclaiming him as his son, and setting Jayden on a path of despair, starvation and bitter poverty.

And now ... this little boy not only has a Daddy that claims him, he has a Mommy, a brother, 2 sisters, 2 grandpas, 2 grandmas, and more cousins, aunts and uncles than he can count. And little by little, knowledge and wisdom and experience are being handed down to him within the birthright of his new family.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Adoption Family of the Week #6


Josh and Candace Jones are from Royersford, Pennsylvania. They met in college where they both studied graphic design. While they were dating, they discovered that they both had a passion for adoption. After they had been married for a couple years, the Lord blessed them with their son, Cole, in 2006. Last year, they went through a couple miscarriages, and at that time they felt the Lord was telling them that now was the time to adopt. After talking to several agencies and exploring all their options, they started falling in love with Ethiopia and knew that their new child would come from there. In January of this year they applied with AWAA, did their paperwork as fast as they could (which was REALLY fast in my opinion), and were DTE on May 21, 2010. They are currently waiting for a referral for a baby girl age 0-12 months. For now, they are both working as graphic designers-Josh full time and Candace part time working from home. They have made some BEAUTIFUL prints that they are selling for a fundraiser here. You can also follow their adoption journey here.

DTE for one month!

We have officially made it through our first month of being DTE. Truthfully, it hasn't been that hard. I'm quite certain as the months go on, however, they will become more difficult. This month, Garth and I have watched a few more adoption videos from Adoption Learning Partners. For those who are adopting, I would highly recommend them. I watched a video titled "The Journey of Attachment" and really enjoyed it. Attachment does not always come easy with adopted children, so the more techniques and hints I can get to help facilitate that is always appreciated. We also watched a course entitled "Conspicuous Families". This course helped us to look at our lives through the eyes of our future children and was also very good. Since Garth and I are open to adopting a 5-year-old, one of the classes that the Ethiopian government requires us to watch is titled "Adopting the Older Child". That will probably be the next one that we watch. Once that class has been completed, we will get a certificate that the Ethiopian courts will have to see if we do indeed adopt an older child. Also on October 20, Garth is going to attend a webinar entitled "Food for Thought". It will talk about the impact of poor nutrition in early development and tips and insights for adoptive parents to help children catch up and thrive. We have also moved up the unofficial waiting list from 14 to 13 for siblings/twins so that was exciting. As court appointments start to get into full swing, the referrals will come faster. YEAH!!!!!

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