Friday, December 31, 2010

Words to Ponder

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world."  ~Anne Frank

May "2011" be the year we start to take steps (however small they may be) to improve our world. Happy New Year to all of our friends and family!

A Christmas full of surprises

This post is a little overdue, but I wanted to take some time to share a little of our Christmas last weekend. It was a beautiful holiday for us, full of surprises from our families. Plenty of quiet planning and secretive conversations had been buzzing through phone conversations & FB messages in weeks leading up to Christmas I'm sure, and we were oblivious to all of it. My sister and brother-in-law sent a special message in their Christmas letter, prompting people to purchase our fundraiser T-shirts (which BTW are still available!) for their loved ones. Anyone who's ever written a Christmas letter knows that open space is valuable and hard to come by, and yet our adoption was included! Thanks Bri and Troy for including your nephews in your annual letter, that was really special to us!

At JT's parent's house Christmas morning, we were given some very sweet gifts in preparation for our little boys: children's books, playdough, a super cute future halloween costume, and a very unique photo album. This special photo album is voice recordable. JT's mom explained that she thought we could fill the pages with pictures of us and use the voice recorder to record messages to our sons. We'll be able to take it with us on our first trip to Ethiopia and leave it at the orphanage when we have to return home. The nannies at the orphanage can show/play it to our sons until we return for them (after all the paperwork has been completed by the government).  We're hoping it will help with voice and facial recognition while we're away from them, so it will be an easier transition when we return to bring them home.  Such a sweet gift, one to be treasured can cry at the thought of this gift, we both did!

Another surprise were 2 PSU footballs for our sons...given to us by a Michigan fan! Now that's a real surprise!! ;)

The day after Christmas we went to celebrate at my dad's parents' house, which is our annual tradition.  Within the hour leading up to driving to my grandparents, my mom is always frantically wrapping all the gifts that need to be taken over, this year was no different. After dinner, we all went into their living room to begin opening up our presents. As my sister was passing out the gifts that she and my parents brought, and as I was passing out the gifts we brought, my grandma started walking toward JT and I with a box.  She was reading something directly to us; we were both caught of guard by the change in atmosphere and stopped what we were doing to listen to her words.  She explained that the entire family had decided against buying gifts for each other this year. They decided instead to give the money they would've spent on gifts to us for our adoption expenses! We were words could accurately describe the appreciation we felt. Incredible, selfless love was handed to us in the form of a gift.  One that we will be forever grateful for.

I feel like we keep saying "thank-you" but it seems those words aren't strong enough to cover all the thoughtful gifts that we've been blessed with this Christmas. Love and hugs to our families always, we don't know where we would be without your support. Thank you.

Oh--and one more surprise...the gifts my mom and sister were frantically wrapping (and later handing out) were all fake! Inside the gift boxes were old magazines and odds & ends from my parents house!   hahahaha!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

It's Christmas eve, I'm sitting at my in-laws house, awaiting the joys of Christmas morning. (smile)

Their house is beautifully decorated for the season; we've had a wonderful dinner together with lots of laughter filling the room and memories being recalled, but still I can't help but let my mind wander to next Christmas and what it may be like. A Christmas with little ones at our house, old traditions to be continued, new traditions to be made. A single thought brings forth a smile on my face and creates a smile within my heart every time I let my mind go to this place.  This special place of family. Our family. As I think of what God has been planning for us, and everything that will take place over the next year, it also makes me think specifically about my little boys and where they are right now. And so, tonight I have a special Christmas prayer for my babies...

Dear Heavenly Father,
As we celebrate the birth of Your Son, I ask that you take care of our sons this Christmas.
You know exactly where they are, the conditions they're living in, the people they're surrounded by on a daily basis; please protect them and keep them safe.
Soothe their cries, wipe away their tears, erase any fears within their young minds.
Send loving, caring people to hold them everyday until we can.
Give them enough food each day to keep their bellies full and their bodies growing big and strong.
Prepare their hearts for the love of family and the love that you alone can give.
Please watch over them tonight, as they play, get fed, and as they go to sleep.
Wrap your loving arms around them to give them a hug from their mommy and daddy.
Tuck them in for us, give them the kisses we can't give yet.
Let them know that they are incredibly special and are already loved more than they know.

Thank you, Father for these precious gifts. 
We feel so blessed to be a part of this divine plan, to have a family perfectly created by you.
Your love for us is indescribable. Help us to share this love with our families and our family yet to be.

In Your Son's Name,

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A prayer request for our friends

We have some very special friends who I'd like to ask you to pray for. This loving couple is also in the process of adopting, but they're adopting domestically, which is a completely different process than an international adoption. Instead of being given one referral, they are given profiles of multiple children on a weekly basis in hopes of finding the most perfect match for their family.  Their profile is simultaneously given to multiple case workers to review for the children they have in their own respective systems.  Each week, they literally see faces of children waiting for families, and as much as they just want to claim a sibling group and wrap their arms around each of them, they cannot until a "match" has been made by the case workers and all the red tape has been cleared.  The entire process is set up specifically for the protection of the children and the prospective families, but can seem like so much time and work before forever families are formed.

Knowing them individually and as a couple, I know that they will make wonderfully caring, compassionate parents to any children placed in their home.  I see how anxious and frustrated they can be as they wait; I can relate to their feelings.  I understand their ache to become parents. I respect them immensely for following this call that God has placed on their lives.  I love that they eagerly press on day after day, optimistically hoping for the long-awaited phone call or email.

They have been praying specifically to know who their children are by Christmas, and as Christmas approaches, I know they are becoming a little more anxious each day. I've seen God do some pretty amazing things in my own life and believe that He is able to do this for my friends, so please join me in praying for this specific request daily until Christmas (or until they meet their kids!). I'm so excited to see this God-Story unfold!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Not just friends, more like family

Every week, JT and I get together with our "life group."  Our LG, is made up of a group of friends from our church that are all at the same life stage, so we're "doing life together."  Last week, we had a white elephant gift exchange Christmas party - hence the huge "chubby bunny" poster on the left! Our good friend Jason, always tries to get the biggest laugh with his gifts - I think he definitely won this year! (The poster is actually him circa 1993 ~ hilarious!)

Over the past few years, these friends have surpassed the friendship status, they've become more like family to us.  We share meals together, we listen to each other, we laugh together, we cry together, we celebrate together, we pray for each other. This incredible group of people recently surprised JT and I with a very generous gift toward our adoption expenses!  It was something they certainly didn't have to do, but something they did because they love and care about us and our kids (who we don't even know yet) so much that they want to help us bring them home.  We are so thankful for all of the support they've given to us since learning about our decision to adopt. We love each of them like family and wanted to take a moment to thank them for loving us!

Thank you Sarah & Jordan, Molly & Jason, Ashley & Dave, Christine & Eric, Kathi & Chad, Jess & Jared for being a part of our family.  We love you and feel so blessed to have you in our lives!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Transracial Adoption ~ through the Eyes of God, through the Eyes of The Church

Lately, we've had some comments made to us regarding our choice to pursue a transracial adoption.  We knew we would face some criticism, some ridicule, but I don't know that any of the counseling we've had, prepared me for the heavy emotions I've been feeling lately.  Some of the comments have been out-right offensive, while others were spoken in almost an apologetic tone, as if they were saying "I'm only telling you this for your own good." While I know that not everyone understands adoption, much less a transracial adoption, these words have hurt deep in my soul and saddened my spirit. I yearn for the opportunity to speak truth into this discussion, to open the eyes of those blinded by the world to a love that God shows to us all, regardless of ethnicity.  I pray that our family will be a visible image of God's love and his adoption of each one of us into his family.

Romans 8:15  For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

Below is an article I came across by Dan Cruver from Together for Adoption ( - an excellent site!) regarding this very topic, enjoy!
The Church is the Theater of Transracial Adoption
God promised Abraham that in him “all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). From the very beginning, God’s promise to Abraham encompassed every ethnic and racial group.

Jump ahead 1,800+ years.

When Paul wrote Galatians 3:7-8, Jesus had already completed his redemptive mission by living, dying, and being raised from the dead.

The result of Jesus’ redemptive achievement is the fulfillment of God’s promise that in Abraham all the families of the earth would be blessed: “Know then that it is those of faith who are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘In you shall all the nations be blessed’” (Galatians 3:7-8).

If we’re not careful, we can step right over the significance of Paul’s words. Because of the work of Jesus to fulfill God’s promise to Abraham, a principal identifying mark of God’s family is that it is decidedly multi-ethnic — as multi-ethnic as it’s possible to be!

Because of Jesus, the church is the theater of transracial adoption. It is the place where the drama of redemption — God’s work to adopt children from every ethnicity — is played out over and over again. The church is, as Kevin Vanhoozer writes, “the theater wherein the world sees God’s love played out time and time again” (The Drama of Doctrine, 400).

As Christians, we have the privilege of playing out this drama on both the macro and micro levels. The macro drama, of course, is the church itself. The universal church continually displays the drama of the multi-ethnic family of God for all the world to see. There’s nothing like this macro drama to be found in all of human history.

But there is also a micro drama in which families within each local church can participate. No, God does not call every Christian family to adopt, transracially or otherwise. But the families God does call to adopt transracially have the privilege of being a micro-theater of the macro-drama of redemption for their communities to see.

The earthly practice of transracial adoption is much more than a way to build a family. It’s an opportunity to display the grand story of redemption before a watching world.

Monday, November 29, 2010

To our church family: W-O-W!

We love the church we attend; we love the fact that so many people who call Calvary "home" want to radically love the world for Jesus.  We love our church's vision of being a "church without walls." For as long as we've been attending, our Pastor has made it clear time and time again, that we should not be known as a church defined by location, by our brick and mortar buildings, by the songs we sing or the clothes we wear, but rather by the lives we live reflecting the love and hope of Jesus. 


For those of you reading this who may be unfamiliar with this concept for a church, I've posted Calvary's vision:


C-WoW (Church Without Walls)

Our Vision: We are on a journey with Jesus beyond our walls to transform people, community, and culture by building a church without walls. This C-WoW vision... all about going beyond our walls in relationships; connecting with God, with each other, and with the world around us. all about going beyond our walls in calling; leading people on a journey to dream, discover, and follow God’s beyond-imagination call for their lives. all about going beyond our walls to be a world-changing movement; bringing Jesus wherever faith, hope, and love are needed.

This past weekend, we were given the opportunity to share our T-shirt Fundraiser with the church, and you all amazed us with your eager response and support! Thank you so much for your financial gifts as well as your emotional and prayerful support. The morning was such an amazing eye-opener of people truly committed to living a C-WoW life. The conversations we were able to have, even in brief snippets, were filled with such authentic & encouraging treasures of words that our hearts needed to hear. When we see others supporting us by embracing an idea beyond what our culture may know as "normal" or "traditional" it gives way to HOPE in the world.  A hope that Jesus gives if we trust Him. A hope that we pray is reflective in our lives.  Please continue to pray for us as we trust Him to follow this beyond-imagination call.

We love you, thank you, and I think W-O-W says it all...

Friday, November 26, 2010

Instant Family...Just add Dossier

We received our dossier packet last week, and have begun compiling this HUGE packet of information to be sent to Ethiopia.  Our agency let us know that it generally takes 3-6 months to complete the dossier, but we're shooting for the 3 month completion date. ;)

Included in the paperwork to be submitted will be a personal letter from us to the Ethiopian government covering a few different topics, such as: explaining our reasons as to why we want to adopt and how many children we want to adopt...

We've decided to adopt 2 children!!

Yep, 2 kiddos! You're probably thinking "they are crazy" and I guess you're right, we might be a little crazy, huh? This is something we've been talking about for a couple months and have finally decided to go for it.  As scary as it seems, we know that we have more than enough room in our hearts to love and care for 2 little ones. We had our home study completed for 2 children, 0-2 years old, so our house may be a little zoo-like this time next fall!  We so excited for ALL that comes along with multiple children so close in age... maybe a little terrifying, but fun all the same!

Throughout our decision making process, the extra expenses of raising a second child kept bringing doubts into our mind as to whether or not we should do this.  However, after a lot of prayer and discussion, we realized how selfish we were being about it. Why would we even think it was okay to cringe at the extra cost of diapers or daycare, when there are millions of children in need of a loving family?  God never tells us that following His call will be easy or comfortable, and as a couple our lifestyle has been pretty comfortable up until this point. We know that this decision is going to change EVERYTHING about how we live our lives, but we feel the gift of two precious little ones will far outweigh any sacrifices we'll have to make. 

So our little family is about to go from a family of 2 to a family of 4 within a very short time. In fact, just a year ago, we were talking about the very real possibility of never being able to have children and now we're planning to put two cribs in one nursery;  very cool how God grows families. (smile) One year from now as we sit around the Thanksgiving table,  we'll count 2 more blessings in our life...and that sounds perfect to me. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


This past weekend we had our home study completed for our adoption.  We were both incredibly nervous about it in the days leading up to it. Why? I guess just we were just nervous about the unknown.  We had been told by plenty of people that we didn't need to worry, and we tried not to...but we still did. We scurried around our little house, making sure everything was in it's proper place, windows were spotless, floors were swept and scrubbed, every dust bunny was captured.  We lit "homey" smelling candles in every room, gave the dog a bath, straightened every bed pillow 3 or 4 times.  Needles to say, we went a bit crazy! :)

Lisa, our caseworker spent a total of 3.5 hours with us over the course of 2 days, and not once did she check for dust bunnies! She used her time to learn all she could about us to finalize our profile to be sent to the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) for approval.  We had been told what to expect time and time again, so why were we so consumed with making things appear "perfect?"  I guess we (like most adoptive parents) wanted to be presented as the best parents/family we possibly could be, so I guess there's no shame in our frantic antics, just went a little overboard!

I'm so thankful for the way the weekend turned out.  Lisa was such a friendly, easy-going person to meet with; she made us feel so comfortable during the entire interview session.  We couldn't have planned a more positive outcome.  Thank you for all of your prayers for us over the past week, we feel so blessed to have such caring friends and family.  Our babe is going to be so loved!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Beyond Words...

What can be said when "thank you" doesn't seem to cover what we're feeling inside???

Last evening as I watched people coming and going from the hall where we held our spaghetti dinner, I had a "love-burst" within my heart. The outpouring of love, support, encouragement, and prayers was overwhelming.  We were thrilled with the number of people who came to the fundraiser (some driving quite a distance), and absolutely amazed at all of your generosity.  It was an incredible night, one that will be an awesome story to tell our child one day.  I loved being able to share our God-story with so many people, and have been praying that He will continue to use our words to touch the lives of others around us.  

To all who came and all who prayed for the event:
We cannot even begin to express how grateful we are to everyone who showed support to us in some way this past weekend; whether it was by stopping by our yard sale, eating at our spaghetti dinner, selling our T-shirts, buying T-shirts, helping out in the (very hot) kitchen, serving drinks, making salads, running our video, adjusting mic volume, dishing out desserts, cleaning up the hall afterward, washing dishes...the list goes on and on of things that could not have happened without the love and support of family and friends. We feel incredibly blessed to have so many people caring about us as we journey this road. Thank You over and over again!!

Some pics from the night:

Dishing out desserts

Sadly, I think this was just a photo-op, this may have been
the only time I was actually in the kitchen!

Part of the actual kitchen crew....couldn't have done it without ANY of you!

My sis and her hubby selling our T-shirts
(see info in previous blog about how to order one!)

Mandi, Jenna, and Andy, eager to serve!

Cute pic of the Bell siblings, after a long night, they're still smiling! ;)

God tells us that "where 2 or 3 are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them" - His presence was definitely felt last evening, and I believe He was smiling as he saw hearts being softened to the call of adoption and orphan care.  Your gifts (whether financial, emotional or prayerful) are helping to change a life forever, and once again I just want to say how thankful we are for all of you...each one of you is now a part of our son's story. How cool is that?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Answered Prayer: the form has arrived!

I just received an email from our case worker that the long awaited clearance form from Georgia finally made its way to her hands, and is now tucked safely in our file!!! Thank you for all of your prayers!!  What a relief to know that it's not lost in the shuffle somewhere!

Another exciting bit of news: We sold our first couple of T-shirts today!! Super cool to see friends wearing them in support! Let us know if you want to order 1... or 2... or 3! :)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Adoption finances...fundraising!!

I feel like I need to write a little about this topic because it can be such a deterrent for so many families, but shouldn't be!

Yes, adoption (either domestically or intercountry) can cost a lot of money, but looking at the numbers should not automatically scare away loving and willing families.  When we were first talking about adoption, financing the process definitely brought forth questions: how much is this going to cost? how can we afford to do this? Legitimate questions for anyone looking to adopt as there are very real costs involved with the process. As I mentioned before, as these questions came up and doubts began to fog our vision, we received a blog update from an adoptive family speaking specifically about not allowing the numbers associated with adoption to be the weed that chokes out your decision. We believe that God is bigger than the biggest check that will need to be written and He will provide for any family that feels called to adopt.  When God places the burden to adopt on a family, and finances appear to be a barrier, His ability to provide can show up in ways never imagined and serve as an amazing testament of His love for the fatherless.  It's incredible, the amount of love and support, not just emotionally, but financially that people want to share when they strongly agree with what you're doing.

Another way to think about financing an adoption, is not as "fees" or "prices" which are related to the services provided, but to look at it as a ransom for the life of your child.  This analogy was shared with us by a friend (thanks Becky!), and it really pulled at my heart strings.  She said to imagine the cost as a ransom we had to pay to bring our child home. If our biological child was being held in another country and a ransom was demanded, what would we do? We would certainly do everything necessary to pay the ransom in order to bring our child home where he belonged.
So we're trying to raise our "ransom" for our little guy. Along with saving as much as we can, and cutting out non-essential monthly bills like TV (crazy idea at first, but it's actually not too bad), gym memberships (looking at myself in the mirror, this may have been a bad idea!), we've decided to get a little creative with a few fundraisers:

First up is a Spaghetti Dinner we're having this coming weekend (Nov. 6th) If you're going to be in the Curwensville Area on Saturday from 4-7pm, stop by Heritage Hall (formerly Grampian Grange), we'd love to see you and chat with you about our adoption journey thus far. Any questions please feel free to email:

We're also doing a T-shirt fundraiser. Our shirts are ready for order and purchase, designed and hand-drawn by yours truly.  We think they turned out pretty cute, but you can be the judge for yourself....

The logo is's a drawing of Africa with a heart where Ethiopia is located (since that's where our hearts are!).  Beside the picture are the words "See the World Be Changed."  We don't think our adoption is going to change the world, but it is going to change our son's world; and if loving families would accept the call of loving the orphan, the world could be changed.

The ladies shirts are a plum colored, form-fitted, and longer length style t-shirt in a super soft cotton.

They are available in sizes Small - X Large
Price:  $20.00 each    or   2 for $35.00

 The Men's shirts are charcoal colored basic tee, also in super soft cotton.  (*Can be Unisex)

 They are available in sizes Medium-XX Large
 Price:  $20.00 each  or  2 for $35.00

We also have kids sized shirts in a cute Indigo Blue colored cotton.

They are available in sizes X Small-X Large  
Price:  $14.00 each   or    2 for $25.00

We're looking into getting a Paypal option available on our blog sidebar, but until we have that figured out, we'd love to take orders by email.  If interested in purchasing a t-shirt, please contact us by emailing: and letting us know what type of shirt you want, quantity, and size.  (Shipping and Handling included in cost) Thanks so much!!

Along with fundraising, there are many types of financial assistance programs available for qualifying families.  Some organizations include:

Lifesong for Orphans (
Show Hope ( 

along with MANY others. A little research can go a long way!

**Bottom line, please don't let the cost of adoption outweigh your desire to share your family with someone longing for a home.  Listen to your heart, follow God's call and be amazed at what He can do!

 "God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. " Ephesians 3:20 (The Message)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

struggle in my heart

Yesterday was a routine day at the busy pediatric dental office where I work, but I was filled with some intense internal struggles.  We had a 4 year old patient with all 20 of her teeth completely decayed down to her gumline.  Every Single tooth in her young little mouth either needed to be pulled or be restored with nerve treatment and crowns.  Although this case was extreme, we see very similar ones like this every single day.  Usually, I (sadly) just accept situations like this, but yesterday anger boiled inside of me.  I'm not sure if it affected me more because I'm getting closer to becoming a parent myself, or because I've reached a place of holy discontent.

Honestly, I found myself falling into a dark place, questioning God..."Why do JT and I need to be interviewed? Why do we need to go through background checks, fingerprinting, and inspection of our home?  Why do we need to schedule routine conference calls with a case worker to make sure we're 'fit' to be parents, when there are people all around me that have child, after child, whom they neglect?"

My struggle isn't one regarding biology.  I believe with all my being that God has been planning adoption as a way for us to grow our family long before we came to realize it.  The struggle I feel in my heart is one of simple care, concern, and compassion for God's children, whom He entrusts to us.  Why do we allow ourselves to become content in our neatly packaged, comfortable lives? Why do we think it's okay to remain within the parameters of what we've defined as safe and routine, while there are thousands of innocent, impressionable lives right next door and around the world yearning for attention, love, and true familial relationships?

I'll admit, I'm guilty. I've been carefully setting up comfortable boundaries around myself all my life. But I know I need to let go of the death grip I've been holding on my life, to enter a place of true trust, yearning to be stretched beyond my place of contentment to truly care for others around me: the hurt, the hungry, the lonely.

I don't know exactly where these feelings within my heart are leading me.
I don't think I want to know just yet, but I'm willing to follow God's call:
"Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight..."
James 1:27 (The Message)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Everything's slower in the south

We received the final clearance that we had been waiting on! Our home study is scheduled for the second week in November, and we couldn't be more step closer to our babe. ;) Our case worker, Lisa, also told me that there's another couple in our area that is looking to do their home study around the same time that we scheduled, so if our dates work for them she can do theirs over the same two days and we can split the cost of her mileage! We'll be praying that our dates sound perfect to them; with her driving 215 miles each way, sharing the cost would definitely help reduce the mileage $$ factor.

Although all of the paperwork we were in charge of is complete, Lisa is still working on obtaining a child abuse clearance for JT from the great state of Georgia.  Since he lived there for a year during college, we need to get an additional clearance from that state as well.  When we first started the process, she told us that GA is notoriously SLOW and somewhat difficult to deal with when getting any type of government form processed. She worked with another couple who had lived in GA previously and getting this particular form was a pretty big hold-up in their process.  Because of their difficulty, she said she would take care of obtaining this form for us. Thankfully as she worked with them, she learned about different routes to take to get forms into the right hands more quickly than normal.  She told me the other day that she still hasn't heard from the particular office she sent it to, but she told me not to worry, as this is typical.  She said we can move forward with our home study and she'll add it in as soon as she receives it. What a help!  Being an adoptive mom herself, Lisa understands the process, and has been terrific about helping us in so many ways.  I'm so thankful for the ease that I feel when talking with her and the genuine concern she shows for any/all of my questions. Please keep her in your prayers as she prepares us for this next step in our process.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Darn you, Christopher Columbus!

We're just waiting on one last clearance form to be returned so we can add it to our homestudy packet of "paper chasing."  We've been waiting for this particular form for 4+ weeks, which is starting to seem like an eternity to me!  We were told that this one usually does take some time before being returned, so I guess I need to be patient (which is extremely hard for me). I've had all the other forms that we need, copied and stacked neatly in a folder for a while now and the whereabouts of this one little form is starting to drive me batty! 

Over my lunch break today, I decided to call the office it was sent to, so I could check the status of the paperwork:
"We're sorry, you have called this office after hours or on a holiday.  Please try back again during our regularly scheduled hours..."

On my way home, I thought, "maybe it's in the mail." As I neared our house, the recorded voice from earlier in the day echoed in my head.

Thank you Christopher Columbus for sailing the ocean blue, ...but I'm still a little mad at you today.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

One Less

My mom shared a new song called "One Less" with me last night.  It's from Matthew West's newest album "The Story of Your Life" composed of songs inspired by letters written to him by his fans.  This particular song is about adoption and as I listened to the words, I couldn't stop the tears from flowing. My heart was overtaken by unconditional love for our son, who will soon be one less. 

Check it out...

Monday, October 4, 2010


"You should start a blog..."
I've heard this time and time again from several friends and family members who we don't get to see as often as we'd like, so here we go.  My hope is that this blog will share snippets from our life as a family,  as we grows from a household of 2 (+Cooper, our lovable little dog) to a household of 3 (or more!).  We've officially started the Adoption Process and couldn't more excited for what God's plan is for our life! We're currently working with Dove Adoptions International to adopt a little boy from Ethiopia.  We're hoping to have the process complete and the little guy in our arms by Christmas 2011.  Please keep us in your prayers as we journey this road.  We know it's not going to be easy, we're prepared for that, but our prayer is that this process will open the eyes of those around us to the fact that caring for the orphan is something God calls us to do.  It's a cause that we can't turn our back on and pretend doesn't exist. With 143,000,000 orphans in need of a loving home, it's increasingly evident to us that this is a cause we should fight for, a fight that NEEDS to be fought.  Although I don't believe everyone is called to adopt, I do believe as Christians we are called to care for the orphan in someway.  What does your part play?

Our Story (in the making)
Approximately 2 1/2 years ago, JT and I felt God calling us to adopt.  He laid a burden for the orphan of the world heavily on our hearts.  We "talked" about it time and time again, but often ended each conversation with "Let's have 1 or 2 kids of 'our own' first, then maybe we'll adopt."  This typical conversation played out several times over the next year and a half, until last fall when we attended an event held at our Church (Calvary Baptist Church - called "Real Religion." It was a self-guided tour throughout the entire church, set-up for each participant to see and feel what it would be like to be an orphan in different regions of the world.  As JT and I stood in the dimly lit stairwell of the church, with photos of waiting children covering the walls, we both began to cry and made the commitment that one day we would adopt.  We kept this overwhelming experience to ourselves, did not share it with any family or friends.  As moved as we were that night, we still had thoughts of biological children lingering in our minds.  At this point we had been trying for about 1 year, with me struggling with infertility issues.  After several doctor appointments and several tests, my doctor had recommended beginning fertility treatments.  As much as I wanted a baby, something inside of me was holding me back from getting the prescription from her. 

JT and I began talking about adoption much more frequently.  We began to wonder if God was saying "Why are you waiting to adopt? This is something I have planned for you now."  Being human, we still weren't convinced adoption was the plan for us at this current time in our lives, that is until we heard it in a much clearer voice! In March 2010, we decided to go to a different Sunday morning service than we usually attend (our church is multi-site, so it's not uncommon to attend a different service from time to time).  We knew a few people at this particular service and went there to see and talk to them, unknowing that this day would be a turning point in our life.  After the service ended, a woman named Becky, who we knew of, but didn't know personally, approached us.  She tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I was Erin.  I told her yes and she proceeded to tell me that she had a "crazy question" for me.  I had no idea what this stranger was about to ask, but her 5 word question forever changed my life. She looked me in the eye and said "Have you ever considered adopting?" I began sobbing, which surprised her (obviously...I now looked like a crazy person!).  She went on to say "I don't know you, I don't know your story, I'm not sure why you're crying, but during the service, the Holy Spirit kept telling me that I needed to talk to you about adoption. I kept trying to ignore His voice and put it out of my head, but then I could picture my daughter (who is adopted) with you.  I could see her as your daughter, so I knew I had to tell you that you should consider adopting."  Needless to say I was an emotional wreck.  I told her that I wanted to talk to her about it, but I couldn't at that moment.  She told me to call or email when I was ready to talk to her.  We left there in shock and amazement of the entire conversation...she didn't know us from Adam, she had no idea what was going on  physiologically with me or how we were feeling emotionally, she wasn't aware that God had already placed adoption on our hearts and had been nudging us to go in that direction.  We hadn't told ANYONE about this, which made it all the more clear that this decision was one God had designed for us.

Approximately 2 weeks later, we were discussing the costs of international adoption, and were saying "How are we going to be able to do this?"  That evening I was checking my email, I had a blog update from an adoptive family in our community.  The title was "The Weed of Financing" the post explained how some folks use the excuse of funding an adoption as their reason not to go through with it.  The author went on to say that if God is calling you to adopt, don't let finances become a weed in your decision making.  Thank you, Heavenly Father...just the words we needed to hear!  A few weeks after that we were talking about how scary the possibility of having a referred child taken from you prior to adoption finalization would be...again that night, I had a blog post from the same author.  This post was titled "The fear of the Reclaimed Child"  Seriously, God?? Talk about a smack to the back of the head!  How could we let fear, after fear deter us from this decision?  We decided that evening that we needed to start researching adoption agencies.  Soon after, we received a newsletter from the college that my brother-in-law attends.  It generally is filled with upcoming events or new majors that they've added.  I was going to throw it away before even looking at it, but decided to check out what was going on at the college.  To my surprise, the ENTIRE edition was filled with alumni who had adopted! Their stories were each different: domestic adoption, international adoption, newborn adoption, special needs adoption.  Directly in the middle of the newsletter was an entire page devoted to adoption resources, including web addresses, phone numbers, contact persons at each agency, etc.  Could this call on our lives be anymore clear??  I took the newsletter and began typing web addresses immediately...we needed to start this process.  Enough "talking" about it already!  As I researched one agency in particular, I saw that they had 3 offices in our state, one in Pittsburgh, one in Philadelphia, and one in...State College??? Crazy!! As I looked further on their website, I found that they have general adoption information meetings monthly church??!!! Seriously Crazy!  I called to reserve spots for JT and I at their next meeting.  We ended up being the only couple there! While we chose not to use this particular agency, the meeting was very helpful and we were able to get all of our questions up to that point answered. I am so thankful for that first one on one meeting with an adoption agency  as we were getting started.

Another special message directly for my heart...
As I was driving to my parents house this summer for my sister's wedding, I had the radio tuned to KLove (a nationally broadcasted christian radio station) which I can usually pick up during part of my drive home.  I was coming upon the mile marker where I usually have to change stations as the DJs were interviewing artist, Natalie Grant who had a new album coming out.  They began talking about her being pregnant and she informed them that both of her pregnancies have been miracles.  She explained that she had struggled with infertility and was given a less than one percent chance of ever getting pregnant.  As she explained her struggles, one of the hosts interrupted her and said "Natalie, I believe that right now as your speaking, there is a woman, and there may be more, but I believe there is at least one woman listening to you who is struggling with infertility.  Would you mind praying for her?"  I began to weep as she prayed a beautiful prayer for the hurt I had been feeling, the struggles I had been going through, the failure I had felt as a woman.  She went on to pray that (I) would be open to other paths that God may have for me (adoption) and that I would cling to the hope and promise that He gives.  I know that there were probably hundreds of other women crying in their cars or at their desks at that very same time, but it was a prayer that I needed to hear at that very moment and thankful that God cared enough to make my radio signal strong enough to pick up those encouraging words. Directly after she prayed, I lost that station.

Up until this point I hadn't spoken to or even seen Becky since that Sunday in church months prior.  I decided I needed to email her to let her know that we were in fact researching agencies to get the process started.  I emailed her late one Thursday evening.  The next day, I headed to Giant after work, and ran right into her! I hadn't seen her in months, and here I was standing face to face with her!  I wasn't sure if she had gotten my email yet, but soon realized she had as she hugged me and told me she was so happy we were going to adopt.  We chatted for a few minutes, planning to get together soon, but as her kids got a little restless she told me she need to take them home. As she left, she said over her shoulder, "I hate this store, I never come here!"  To her, she was just voicing frustration she was feeling, but to me it was confirmation that God had planned our meeting all along!

Over the past several months, we've done a lot of research on different agencies, countries to adopt from, fundraising, etc.  We're currently waiting to get our clearances back so we can schedule our home study.  After that's completed, we'll be compiling paperwork for our dossier (a packet of extensive, detailed information about us to send to Ethiopia).  Each step takes months to complete, so we're praying that everything goes as smoothly and quickly as possible.  We'll keep you posted each step along the way!

This was a lengthy post, thanks for sticking with it and thanks for journeying with us...