Monday, August 30, 2010

Today Was the Start of "Something"

Today was the start of "something". Today was the beginning of an answered prayer. Today God gave me a glimpse into His bigger plan. Today I was once again reminded that if you invite God into the picture, He shows up.

Remember just a couple posts ago how I said that God was up to something? How I felt that this adoption journey was just the tip of the iceberg to what He was doing in our lives? How all I knew was that He was stirring my heart but I didn't know what it all meant?

This past week a gal from church, Nancy, who helps head up the Compassion Ministry, got in touch with me and asked if we could meet for lunch today. I thought to myself, "Hmmm... this should be interesting." Nancy and I have literally met ONE other time at church when I dropped off an Inexhaustible Love shirt to her that she so graciously bought in support of our adoption. You see, we connected through the oh so popular world of Facebook through some mutual church friends a couple months ago. And if you've been sucked into the FB world you know very well that as creepy and in-personal as it might be, you feel like you get to know someone pretty stinking well entirely based on photos and status updates alone. All that to say, without even "knowing" Nancy I knew that we shared the same heart for orphans, and that I liked her. So going into today, I knew He was up to something!

At lunch today, God showed up. I'm just sayin'... I totally felt Him hanging out with us. (o; It was one of those moments where my heart was beating fast, my eyes were teary, and I genuinely felt like another layer to this story was being unfolded right before my eyes. I sat at the table with two amazing ladies, Nancy and Christine (another gal apart of the Local Compassion Ministry), and listened to them share their heart about how orphans and adoption and bringing awareness to both have been heavy on their hearts. How they desperately desired for leadership to arise within the church to help head up an adoption support group or bring about orphan awareness and how they wondered if I'd play a part in that?! I mean, seriously... it was like God was holding open this door and saying "Hil! Here you have it.. I stirred your heart for a reason... THIS moment! Here is need to be filled, trust me, I'll prepare you along the way. Go!"

It's clear that there is a need within our church for an adoption support group and for an outlet for those who have a heart for the orphans to get plugged in. I have NO IDEA how it will all come together, I'm okay with that- and thankfully so are Nancy and Christine. BUT what I do know is that I'll ask God to prepare me and guide me and I'll pray a whole hekava lot that He takes this desire we have to share, and blesses it! I know this burden on my heart doesn't stop with just bringing our child home. I know that I'm suppose to do more with it... and this is a door that I know was opened up by God, so I'll humbly walk through it.

God knows my fears of leadership roles. I give those over to Him. God knows my fears of failure. I give those over to Him. God knows my fears (and so does everyone else that knows me well enough) of public speaking. I give those over to Him.

Here's to the beginning of "something" far bigger than my plans!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Holy Discontent

They sang this song at church tonight. I'm sure I am only grasping a fraction of the "bigger picture"... but oh I pray that as my eyes are opened that I would have the courage to act. I can't even tell you how many times in this whole journey of adoption it keeps coming back to Proverbs 24:12 "Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what do do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act."

"Holy Discontent" seems to be the theme as of late. I recently read a post from a new blog friend, and fellow adoptive mama, about this very topic and think she puts it oh so well. Check it out if you get a chance!  Thanks Lara for speaking your heart, I echo your words!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Classic Hilary

Personal mail, not so much bills, and packages at the front door have always brought joy to my heart, so you can only imagine how excited I get to see the UPS man deliver packages when I know it's stuff regarding our journey to our sweet boy! My excitement lead to a slightly funny and awkward little encounter with the UPS man as he was dropping off the package today...

I knew that we should be getting our Adoption Planner (The BIG Hefty) at some point during the day, so I've kept my eye out for it. We have a storm door in the front of our house so I just left open the front door so I could see when it got dropped off. I was in the hallway when I saw the beautiful brown truck pull up and without giving it much thought I hurried to meet the UPS man outside in our entry way. While anxiously waiting for him to meet me and hand off the much awaited package I started to realize he hadn't noticed me yet. He must not have heard me come outside and he was making his way up to my door with a quick little skip in his step and his head down looking at his computer gadget thing. There was that split second where I realized that he was about to plow into me and I just couldn't get my thoughts together to say anything. Literally at the last moment he quickly looked up, startled, and said "Oh! I'm so sorry miss!" to which I felt somewhat embarrassed that it was obvious I was overly eager to meet him outside for this package. So I said, "No! It's totally my fault! I've just been looking forward to seeing you all day!"... He then gave me a strange look, which made me realize that my words came out completely wrong and sounded like I had a crush on the poor guy or something! Sheesh Hil! Then it became this awkward moment of silence and shuffling of feet and I couldn't think of anything redeeming to say besides "Well, uh, thanks!"and I took my package. I chuckled as I walked inside thinking, "Classic Hilary"! I always get tongue tied or things come out totally the wrong way and I feel like it's just typical of me to create awkward moments. 

All that to say... we got our Adoption Planner! Yippee! So guess what we'll be reading and re-reading through this weekend?! We'll have a dossier run through call early next week with AGCI to cover the list of questions that we'll inevitably come up this weekend. Let the paper chase begin! 

Oh and a quick little side note... we will be having an Adoption Yard Sale the weekend of Sept. 25th to help raise funds for this journey. We sent out an email to our local friends asking if they had things they would be willing to donate for the sale, but if for some reason you weren't included in that email and you do live local... let me know if you are cleaning house and have things we could sell! Joshua just recently cleaned out our garage so we have space to put everything until that weekend... want to help us fill our garage and purge things from your house?! 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Remembrance of His Faithfulness

On Monday we sent back all our notarized contracts and paper work to AGCI along with our first, of many, BIG checks! When I went to the credit union to get our check I was filled with a bitter sweet emotion as the gal behind the counter asked how much to have the check made out for.  With my heart in my throat I said, "seven thousand three hundred and ninety dollars"... I kept having to remind myself, scratch that, KEEP having to remind myself, that this is exactly what this money is saved up for! So many stories are attached with every dollar of that $7,390! Each dollar represents a generous person, a creative fundraising event, a random blessing, a hard earned dollar, and truthfully it flat out represents God's faithfulness! So like in 1 Samuel 7:12, where God's people stacked stones as a remembrance of His faithfulness to them, we are looking back over the past couple months as stacking stones in our lives!

So what now you ask?! Well, it's time to get our hands dirty and bust bootie in the savings department for the next BIG check and expenses in between! We have a choice to look at it two ways... #1. A daunting task full of anxiety OR #2. A chance for God to once again prove Himself to be faithful and unfold more amazing stories attached to each dollar raised and saved! I chose choice number TWO! (That is until I have my random freak out moments while laying in bed wide awake at night imagining all the worst case scenarios, while my hubby lays right next to me peacefully sleeping AND snoring the night away... just being honest!). In all seriousness though, I truly think REMEMBERING God's faithfulness is key! He funds His callings. Without a shadow of a doubt I know that He has lead the way so far and told us to trust Him, and so we continue! 

This evening we got a call from AGCI letting us know they received all our notarized paperwork and it's complete and looks great! That means we didn't mess up our first "test" of signing and initialing a stack of papers a mile high! Yipee! Our adoption planner (a.k.a. "the big hefty") is on the way including everything we'll need to gather for our dossier (fancy french word for adoption papers), and our required education courses. 

While we are working on collecting everything for our dossier we will also be doing our home study simultaneously. In order to begin our home study we will need to pay half the home study fee upfront of $425 to the social worker and a one time fee of $200 to the home study agency. So $625 to get that ball rolling.  Our savings is currently at $577, so we're getting there! (A BIG prayer request that our adoption agency and home study agency are able to finalize all the paper work needed this week to officially have the HS agency listed as a cooperating agency with AGCI!).

We will be on a paper chase for both the HS and dossier collecting things like birth certificates, marriage license, passports, medical forms, criminal checks, employment verification, letters of recommendation, financial statements, power of attorney and the list goes on and on! My prayer is that I can be like Jude and just enjoy digging in to the overwhelming mess of paperwork/dirt and have fun!

This whole process of the HS and dossier typically takes families 3-4 months to complete. During that timeframe some significant fees that we'll encounter are:

Adoptive Parent Education (online courses): $170
US CIS Fee $670
US CIS Fingerprinting Fee $80 per adult

Finally, once everything is complete and ready to be turned into AGCI and sent over to Ethiopia is when our next BIG check is due. First off, the remaining $450 will be due to our social worker upon completion of our home study. Then with the completed dossier we owe, big breath:

$4,500 International Service Fee

Well there you have it! We're doing our best to lay pride aside and be as open and honest about this whole process as possible, including all the financial mumbo jumbo that goes with it. More then anything our prayer is that God would receive the glory because we know that financial hurdles like these can only be accomplished by someone far bigger than us! We also pray this is read with hearts that know that in us sharing all these dollar amounts, there is absolutely NO obligation to give what so ever! We are truly humbled, and gracious, and amazed at the generosity that's been shown to us so far and we know that it's been God using other's to write His story in our lives! So thank you for being used by God!

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Intimidating World of Adoption Blogs!

Okay, so ya'll need to understand that this whole blogging world is still entirely new to me and oh so overwhelming at times! Just over three months ago I remember looking at Joshua and commenting on how there was no stinking way I was going to do a blog because after looking at all these other adoption blogs I was completely blown away and intimidated! So I thought it best to not even try... I'm a real winner. (o;  Seriously though, you gals are talented and creative and amaze me at your ability to write so well and design cool templates and yadda yadda!

Well, thankfully I got past the intimidation of it all and decided to take on the challenge and I humbly began my journey of figuring out what a "gadget" or "widget" was and how I was going to design our template (PS when I say "design" our template, I mean find a free blogger template online somewhere- I'm not even going to attempt figuring out all these stupid HTML codes!). I stayed up late night after late night trying to get everything set up so that it was actually functional! I will NEVER be a computer programer that's for sure! (Kudos to my dad who's gone back to school to figure this stuff out- you're a smart man!)

So I must say that tonight I am skeptically proud of myself for thinking that I might just have figured out how to do the whole "Grab Our Button" thing that so many of you bloggers out there have! I am scared to even announce it truthfully because I only think I have it figured out... But feel free to check it out on the right side of the blog under the "About Me" section and let me know if I did it right!

For those of you who are like me about three months ago and are sitting there wondering what the heck a "button" is.. from what I gather, it's just a nifty way to promote your blog. Other's can grab your button and put in on their blog as a way of showing their support. So yeah, it doesn't sound so exciting when I say it like that... but everyone's doing it, so it must be cool! (o; I think I said that in Jr High to my parents as well.

Well, my head hurts from all this copying and pasting of HTML codes to figure out exactly how this thing was to work, so I think it's time for bed- but just thought I'd share! And a BIG thanks to all the incredibly gifted and talented adoption blogging mama's out there who don't seem to judge all the new-bee's that come along and try and copy some of your ideas! (o;

Sunday, August 22, 2010

God's Up To Something

God's up to something. I just know it. I'm not sure what exactly, but there's something stirring in my heart and our lives and I'm sure it's God's way of preparing me. Obviously the central theme in our lives right now is our adoption. But I truly feel like there is more to this story that God is writing then getting us to our son in Ethiopia. Like we're just beginning a journey that is far bigger then us. This is just the tip to the iceberg.

Today at church we started a new series on Nehemiah. (Side note... "Nehemiah" seems to be a name that keeps coming up over and over again for one reason or another- I'm wondering if it'll be what we name our boy OR if God is just trying to teach us about the life of Nehemiah and how that applies to our journey? Either way, I smile every time I hear the name!) Anyway... the message today was about the burden and brokenness Nehemiah felt when he heard about the Jews back in Jerusalem and the great trouble and disgrace they were in. When he heard that the wall of Jerusalem was broken down and it's gates were burned down- he wept and mourned. Our pastor talked about Nehemiah's discontent with the news and how it set the stage for an everyday hero to rise. That "for an ordinary person to become an everyday hero they have to come to the aid and need of a situation in a sacrificial way for a nobel purpose." Our pastor encouraged us to figure out what it was in our lives that made us broken, or emotional, or distraught.. what tugged on our heart strings, where we wished we could make a difference... And then pray about it.

So I'll do just that. Pray. My eyes have been captured by the faces of orphans, my heart has been burdened with the desperate needs of Ethiopia... that's about all I know right now- but again, God's up to something!

This is what I know for certain stirs my heart.

Ordinary Hero~ A day in the trash dump in Ethiopia from Kelly Putty on Vimeo.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Bidding Open Until Noon Today

Okay ya'll!! First off, I'd just like to say how incredibly amazed I am at the little bidding wars going on here... bid away, bid away- I love it! For real though, we are so stinking grateful at your all's generosity in buying a shirt to help with our adoption fund!

This is just a reminder that the bidding on the shirts will end today at NOON with the highest bidder on each shirt winning! Again THANK YOU so much for your unending support of all our crazy ways to help fund brining this baby home!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Another Round of Africa Shirts to Auction Off!!!

So a couple weeks ago I was in the Gap and found a bunch of these vintage tee's on sale for a great price... They're super soft and cute and I thought they'd be perfect for another round of Africa shirts! Mom got to work and she's finished them up! There's only FOUR shirts right now- and they're all Smalls except for one XS... it was the only sizes they had left to pick from. As I find more deals on comfy tee's though, I'll pick 'em and make some more!

Anyway, if you see a shirt you like, place a bid! Scroll down below this post to see all four shirts and leave a comment under the shirt you want and the highest bidder will get it! Be sure to leave your name and email so I can be in touch with you! For the next 48 hours the Africa Tee's Auction will be open and 100% of the proceeds will go towards our adoption fund! Thanks so much!

X-Small Heather Grey Africa Shirt

X-Small Gap Vintage T-shirt with fabric Africa stitched on. The sizes run a bit big so it fits more like a Small. The shirt I wore in a previous blog post was an XS and fit me perfect, if that gives you a better idea. Place bid below as a comment. Highest bid after 48 hours gets the shirt! (o;

Small Wheat Brown Africa Shirt

Small Gap Vintage T-shirt with fabric Africa stitched on. The sizes run a bit big so it fits more like a Medium. Place bid below as a comment. Highest bid after 48 hours gets the shirt! (o;

Small Heather Grey Africa Shirt

Small Gap Vintage T-shirt with fabric Africa stitched on. The sizes run a bit big so it fits more like a Medium. Place bid below as a comment. Highest bid after 48 hours gets the shirt! (o;

Small Heather Grey Africa Shirt

Small Gap Vintage T-shirt with fabric Africa stitched on. The sizes run a bit big so it fits more like a Medium. Place bid below as a comment. Highest bid after 48 hours gets the shirt! (o;

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What Are Your Lives About?

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look a the birds of the air, they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add as single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do no worry, saying, "What shall we wear?" For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Matthew 6:25-34

Society would say that life is about making a "happy little home"... or here in Texas, "a happy BIG home"! There is a constant battle in my head raging between the standard of what the world says is successful and what Jesus' teachings say about what's important. Jesus' teachings are radical, the life He's called us to is extreme, the love He says to show other's is crazy.... it's also risky, and uncomfortable at times, and full of unknowns. But what I do know for certain is...  I don't have it all figured out! We've just began to scratch the surface in truly seeking God's story for our lives! I know that so far His life is far more adventurous, and fulfilling, and oh so much more rewarding then what the world's story has to offer! We've seen His blessings in ways we would have never experienced had we said no to the burden of adoption He laid upon our hearts.

The vision that Christ sets before us to go and Love God and Love Other's "to the ends of the earth" isn't the same as what the world is screaming at us. So we're left with a choice. To pour our lives into the worldly story or into God's story?

I choose God's story even though it goes against what seems normal. I choose God's story even though other's might think we're crazy. I choose God's story even when I don't know all the answers. I choose God's story because ultimately, it is His approval that I seek and I desperately want to be obedient to the life He's called us to. I'm totally okay with stepping out in faith in this journey because I know He's teaching me to truly let go of control and completely rely on Him. So I hang on Matthew chapter 6 knowing that as long as we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, then we're good to go! Every time I struggle with this battle it all comes back to His truth, His vision, His commandment of "Go" to His people... and then the battle doesn't seem so fierce anymore. I choose the story where God is the  author, not me.  How about you?                                                                                                                                                                          

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Moving Forward!

Yesterday our much anticipated AGCI orientation packet arrived at our doorstep! After Jude was down for the night Joshua and I anxiously got to reading! Well I got to reading... Joshua sat there while I read everything out loud to him. He kept asking "Are you seriously going to read every little detail in this packet ?!"... to which I replied "Yep! Sure am!". He patiently listened to me thoroughly read each and every piece of paper in the folder, even if it repeated itself a couple times. Because I'm completely in uncharted territory here I feel the need to soak in every word that's given to me and make sure I understand it 100%. So much so that when it talked about having a "transition plan" figured out before bringing home your child I told Joshua to write down "What is a transition plan?" on our list of questions to ask when we have our orientation call. He politely informed me that it's probably exactly what it says it is... a plan of action for how we're going to transition our adopted child into our home. Not to mention the fact that this isn't something we have to come up with until the final stages of the adoption. Joshua is good for me- so I don't over complicate things and stress myself out. And he's patient, that's good too. (o;

All this to say... the packet was pretty stinking self explanatory, even with my over analyzing eye,  in explaining where we go from here! We'll set up an orientation call to either have sometime this week or the beginning of next to go over the packet and any questions we might have. We'll then sign and notarized the stack of papers in this packet and send it back to AGCI along with our first big check of the journey! $7,390 to be exact. Broken down: $6000 Agency Fee, $1000 Ethiopia Program Fee, $350 Non-AGCI home study review, and $40 Eyes Wide Open workbook. The amazing thing about this is the money is in the bank saved up to do just this! After sending in our $300 application fee we are left with $7,760 to cover this first financial hurdle. This is where I look back over the past couple months amazed at His faithfulness to provide in ways we would have never imagined! This is where I have faith that He will continue to work in ways that can only be contributed to Him!

After AGCI receives our signed and notarized contracts and agreements they'll send us a mega adoption planner packet in the mail that includes all the paper work we'll need to gather for our dossier. We can go ahead and start the home study process as well once we have half the home study fee saved up of $500, which we're just a couple hundred bucks shy of.

Joshua and I are continuing to be as creative as possible in saving money when and where we can. My summer jobs of watching Jake and church childcare are coming to an end this week... but I'm confident that God will bring about other little opportunities for extra money. Joshua is still mowing lawns and has taken on a couple graphic design projects for our sweet neighbor of designing power points for her work. A future adoption funding idea we have is setting up an Adoption Yard Sale in September. We're working on the details and I'll keep you posted. We also have a couple more Africa shirts in the making that my amazing mama is sewing up. She finished mine today actually... that's it in the picture! I'll be sure to post on here when they're complete and we'll auction 'em off!  And our plan is to apply for at least three adoption grants once our home study is complete. I promise that we will do our part to be as frugal, diligent, and creative as possible in bringing this baby home!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Good things to tell!

Okie Dokie! I have good things to tell!!! Can you tell Jude and I are happy?! (o;

First off, I got a message from AGCI today saying that they're going ahead and sending out our orientation packet today WITH the home study agency we want to use listed on our contract!!!! Ahhhh, such a blessing! AGCI and the home study agency are still getting all the paperwork finalized, but it looks like we're good to go! THANK YOU for your prayers!

Want to hear some more good news?!  Take that back, great news?!  Remember the adoption auction last month? Well a sweet, generous friend of ours from Atlanta, Kristen, bid on my mom-in-law's 100 cupcakes. She then turned around and organized to have them made for the youth at their church in Atlanta for this up coming weekend to sell for $1 each!!! To make the story even better... my amazing, crazy baking, mom-in-law, not only is whipping up 100 cupcakes, but instead 250 to bring this weekend!!!! So, if all cupcakes sell for $1 a piece there's another $250 for the adoption fund!!! What?! I am just amazed at the creativity and generosity of others in helping us bring this baby home! Amazed.

Oh and there's more folks! Just when you thought, "Wow... people sure are nice to the Helms family!"... there's another dear friend that is blowing us away by her generosity and kindness! My long-time friend from high school, Lindsey Hearing, is an incredible photographer in the Phoenix, Arizona area. She contacted us a couple weeks ago saying that she wanted to head up a fundraiser in the month of September where 100% of her photography sessions would be split between our family and another family (The O'Neal's- great friends of ours as well) to go towards both our adoption funds! Seriously!? Does this not just seem crazy to ya'll?! She is offering 20% off for the month of September, so if you live in the Phoenix area and are needing your Christmas card photo's taken, or any photos for that matter-  check it out, and it helps us out in the process! A HUGE thank you Lindsey for offering your talent and time in such a generous way! You rock!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Quick Update and Prayer Request

Quick update for ya'll!....

So if you follow my status updates on Facebook at all you know that we've been waiting on our orientation packet from AGCI to arrive on our doorstep... and I've been practicing patience.  It's not my strong point- but I'm working on it.

Yesterday afternoon rolled around and I just thought it strange that we still had not received our orientation packet seeing as how last Thursday I was told she would send it out UPS 2 day. So, I called and left a message with the gal we've been working with.

Attempting to make a long story short, here's the gist... AGCI got back with us yesterday evening and let us know the packet has not yet been mailed out because we are needing to switch the home study agency we listed on our contract because they are no longer on AGCI's cooperating agency list. Truth be told, this came as a bit of a relief! While I was bummed that the orientation packet was not yet on the way, I was relieved that we would now have to go with a different home study agency. The ONLY reason we went with this particular agency from the get go was because A. they were on the list to choose from and B. they were least expensive.  The entire time I had a weird vibe about the agency and social worker... but just kept trying to shrug it off. I had literally just gone and talked to Joshua about some of my concerns about this home study agency when I got the message from AGCI saying that we couldn't use them even if we wanted to! Answer to prayer if you ask me... problem solved!

That being said... now we have a big prayer request!

There is a social worker/HS agency that we would LOVE to work with. The cost alone is significantly cheaper... SIGNIFICANTLY! We love the social worker and we have friends who have used her before and have great things to say about her. BUT... she is not yet listed as a cooperating agency with AGCI. After several back and forth conversations it seems that it might just be a possibility to get her on the approved list! She is willing to fill out the approval agreement with AGCI and it seems that AGCI is willing to add her to the list, as long as they get all the important paper work stuff from her. This would just be a huge answer to prayer! It's in the works right now between the two agencies- so it's completely out of my hands at this point, but if all goes well, we will be able to put her on our contract. After that, THEN our orientation packet will for real be sent out!

Here's what it comes down to...

The agency/social worker we really want to use:
Home Study fee $1000
Post Placement fee $100 per visit (3 required)
Payment plan of $500 due with application and $500 due when home study is complete

Our next best option if we are unable to use who we want:
Home Study fee $2500 (this includes 2 of the post placements)
1 additional Post Placement fee $250
The entire $2500 is due upfront

So... you can see why it would be such an answer to prayer if we could use the first home study agency! Ultimately we know God's got this covered and we pray for His plan to unfold. We lay our desires and hopes at His feet and trust that whatever the outcome, even if it's that we have to go with the more expensive home study agency a wait to have all the funds saved up to move forward, then it's okay and it's in His timing. We're trusting and praying... will you pray with us? Thanks!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Why Ethiopia?

I think it's probably safe to assume that some people out there, not all, but some, wonder "Why Ethiopia?" when I tell them we're adopting. It's funny because we haven't actually had many people straight up ask us.... and I hope it's not because we seem unapproachable. Our desire is to be open and honest about this whole process and answer any questions when they come up. So, if you've been secretly wondering, why Ethiopia?.... wonder no more my friend!

Here's the deal, everyone comes to their decision of adoption and where they're going to adopt from differently. This is just our story. There are MANY incredible adoption stories and amazing journeys that have lead people to adopt from so many different places- ALL forms of adoption whether international or domestic are amazing! Joshua and I are for adoption, period.

That being said, here is how we came to choose Ethiopia....

As soon as we felt like "adoption" was laid on our hearts it became undeniably clear that it was God who had brought us to that point. Our  Go Group through church was just finishing up a study called, Becoming the Good Samaritan by Michael R. Seaton. It reiterated what seemed to have become the theme of the year for Joshua and I... Love God, Love Others, simple as that. Our hearts were being transformed and the concept of "Go" was all around us. I guess it shouldn't have come as a surprise that adoption became the burden of our hearts, seeing as it fits perfectly into God's character and what His word says. James 1:27 "Pure Religion is taking care of the widows and the orphans." Proverbs 24:12 "Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what do do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act." John 14:18 "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." Isaiah 1:17 "Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow."

I remember looking at Joshua and saying "Okay, so adoption? Where the heck do we begin?!". I literally googled "Different kinds of adoption" in hopes of having a starting point. Every day when Joshua was at school I would research the different types of adoption from public to private to independent to international. When Joshua would come home from work we'd sit down and discuss each option. I'd love to say that upon reading something specific we were hit by lightening with the obvious answer from God, "This is where I want you to adopt from!"... but it didn't work like that. We prayed for God's direction and wisdom in making a decision and asked that He would lead the way and close doors we weren't suppose to go down. As each door would close for one reason or another, weather it was entirely based on a gut feeling the both of us had, or the fact that we didn't meet certain requirements... we eventually narrowed our decision down to an international adoption.

After looking through the list of countries and the specific requirements that needed to be met in order to adopt from there (age, income level, timeframes, cost) it narrowed us down to qualifying for the Belgium or Ethiopia program. From there, it came down to cost, logistics, the Hannah's Hope home that was set up in Ethiopia, and truthfully just gut feeling. There you have it, Ethiopia it was. I feel like this story would be so much cooler if I could tell you that Joshua and I had always deep down had this special place in our hearts for Africa. I know this is the case for so many adopting families, but I'd be lying if I said that was true for us. It makes me sad that I have lived my whole life pretty much completely unaware of the severe poverty that exists in Ethiopia. After settling on Ethiopia we began praying that God would burden our hearts specifically for the country and that our eyes would be open to the circumstances surrounding the area. Hearing the stories from other families that have been there and seen with their very own eyes the heartbreaking tale of hunger and sickness and hopelessness has just further deepened our desire to adopt specifically from there. I can read statistics... but hearing real, gut wrenching stories, of the desperate need for these children to be adopted- that it comes down to life and death for many- that's what's real to me. There is a need to be met. We can meet that need. And we will. Our eyes have been opened and we don't want turn away and do nothing.

I know without a shadow of a doubt we have enough love to give another child! I know with out a shadow of a doubt I don't need this child to genetically come from me to love him either. I know that if the hospital told me 1 day after bringing Jude home that they accidently gave me the wrong child, I would say, "Tough luck, I claimed him and you're not getting him back!" Well, I'd probably be a little peeved and feisty about the whole thing and wonder how the heck they could make such a huge mistake. BUT, point being, I claimed Jude as our son... I love him not because he is our biological son, but because he is our son. And that's exactly what this little Ethiopian boy will be too, our son.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Young lives making a difference!

This past Wednesday was when Kalisha set up camp at McKinney High School and had everyone who lived locally pick up their "An Inexhaustible Love" t-shirts she had made for us. Of course we decided to join her to thank as many people in person that we could for their support in buying a shirt. Not everyone was able to make it out during the time we were there, so to those who received your shirts later from Kalisha, we'd just like to give you a BIG THANK YOU!

The amount of students, both former and new, that purchased shirts completely amazed Joshua and I! Over and over again in this process we have been taken back how God is using so many young people to make such a big impact on our journey! It started with Tyler, the kid in my lifeguard class, who randomly gave us our first support check back in May. Followed by Kalisha stepping it up and totally offering her time and energy in heading up selling t-shirts for us. While sitting there on Wednesday watching student after student come up to pick up their shirt... every young face represented another individual on our list that is playing a role in this story that God is writing to bring home our child!

I guess the fact that God is using young lives to bless our journey shouldn't necessarily come as a surprise to us. Joshua and I have a unique place in our hearts for youth... having worked at Doe River and now Joshua being a teacher- but sometimes I think without meaning to or even realizing we're doing it- we limit what they have to offer. Here's the deal... "kids" are awesome, and creative, and generous, and ambitious, and vibrant, and desire to make a difference in the world! They are making a difference in OUR life and we are so thankful!!!

If you purchased a shirt in support of us from Kalisha, please take a picture with your shirt, and email it to me at by Aug. 20th.... were working on something creative and we want to make sure you're included!!!

Total Profit $1099!!!

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Ahhh!!! I feel like there's so much to say, I'm not sure where to begin! Okay, first and foremost.... I'd just like to announce that it's official... today we got a phone call from AGCI saying that our application was APPROVED!!! YAY! Now we hang on for the ride and ask God to lead the way!

AGCI will send out an orientation packet in the mail tomorrow that we should get it in 2 days or so. Once we receive the packet we'll set up an orientation call next week that both Joshua and I will have with the agency where they'll answer any questions we have about the Ethiopia program and questions we have regarding the packet.  They'll further go into detail about how the process is going to unfold and let us know our next steps. Once we complete the orientation packet and sign everything, we'll send it back to AGCI along with our HEFTY agency fee and program fee, totaling in around $7,000. Big breath!

Time for "Honest Hilary" here... I'm so excited AND I'm so scared at the same time! We're here, really here, really starting this journey, and this makes my heart so unbelievably happy! BUT.... being here also means another HUGE step of faith in trusting that God will continue to provide in big ways. My mom keeps reminding me that when I start to freak out and worry to just look at how God has been so faithful to get us where we're at so far! I know this is true, I really do. Joshua and I both have prayed so much, "When do we start this process God?" and over and over again we felt peace about $6k in savings being our "Go" mark, and we have just under $7k (after turning in our $300 app. fee)! So now it's time for me to trust God and take that next step without knowing once again how it's all going to play out, just like we took with the first step a couple months ago. We didn't know the "how's" then and we don't know the "how's" now- and I guess that's the point. To trust, and watch, and be amazed at how He works.

All the hard work, all the generosity of so many, all the amazing stories that have gotten us here so far and gotten our savings to where it is so far is for this moment! So instead of being scared, writing a huge check and feeling like "Gosh, now we're back to scratch!"... I have to remind myself that this is exactly what the past couple months have been for! And oh how I am so grateful!!!

Our home study will be one of the first things we'll get started on after the orientation packet. I've done my research and bargain hunted through the 6 AGCI approved home study agencies we are allowed to go with. They all seem equally equipped and experienced, and so I did what all frugal moms do and went with the home study that cost the least! It's going to be  $1,500 for the home study fee and then $300 for every post placement meeting (once we bring our kiddo home). We will owe half ($750) up front with our home study application and the second half will be due upon completion of the home study. So... if I'm throwing out prayer requests, it would be that $750 wouldn't take too long to save up so we could get started on that home study sooner then later! Sigh, oh and pray that I wouldn't loose sleep over stuff like this either- thanks!

There is more super news to share about the great day we had yesterday at our t-shirt pick up day that Kalisha organized, but it will have to wait until tomorrow! It's late and I've been writing thank you cards all day long and my forearm hurts... it's a good problem to have when you have so many people to thank! (o; Our lives have suddenly become consumed with paper chasing to do lists and it makes me smile because it means we're really in this!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

FBI fingerprints... mark it off the list!

In effort to stay ahead of the game, our FBI fingerprints are done and being sent in! Several other adoptive families had recommended we get this done as soon as possible because sometimes it can take up to 12 weeks to get them back. We didn't want to have everything done and be sitting around waiting on our FBI prints to come back, so hopefully this will prevent that from happening! So we dropped Jude off this morning to hang out with his Papa (my dad) and Joshua and I headed down to the county jail booking area to get our prints done. Let's hope that's the only reason we ever hang out in booking! (o; 
And yes, I plan on taking pictures for all these silly steps... after all we need to document this thing!