Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Other Side of the Story...

One of the strangest things about this adoption process for me so far has been the whole idea that there is a story taking place on the other side of the world that I know NOTHING about, but has EVERYTHING to do with me! The story of my child and how he's eventually going to make his way into our family! The story of how God is preparing individual's hearts, protecting a birth mom and her womb, showing her hope in a hopeless situation, providing the daily nutrients in a place where food is so sparse, and simply orchestrating a million tiny details that we may never see in order for Isa to specifically be OUR son!

The only thing I have to compare it to is being pregnant with Jude, and in that, I knew how the story was unfolding almost to a tee. He was growing inside of me, I could feel him kick, I could see on an ultrasound each month of how much he grew, I could hear his heartbeat. But with Isa, I have NO IDEA how he's doing, I can speculate that his birth mom is probably pregnant with him right now- but I have no idea how far along she is. From the instant I found out I was pregnant with Jude I read up on every stinking book that would tell me exactly what was happening to him at each stage of my pregnancy, what I should and shouldn't eat, and how I could take better care of myself in order to ensure his well being!

I think we're all inclined to be "out of sight, out of mind" type people- but I can't afford to be that way with this, this is my son! It's quite possibly the hardest and scariest thing ever to feel as though I have absolutely NO CONTROL over the life of my child.  But that's just it, I'm not completely powerless! I HAVE PRAYER! So while I desperately wish this whole adoption journey was being filmed like a movie where I could see both sides of the story coming together, it's not going to happen that way. So I've been taken to a new level in my prayer life, and I'm thankful for it. I figure if I can have an ounce of positive influence over the life of Isa before I wrap my arms around him, then I'll sure as heck pray my heart out!

My prayers lately have been this:

That his birth mom would have supportive people (hopefully family) surrounding her.
That she would have a friend she could confide in that would love her and encourage her.
That she would daily find hope and peace in a her situation and know that God already has plans for her unborn child and it's not worth giving up!
That she would have plenty of food each day and warm shelter at night.
That she would have a healthy and safe labor and delivery.
That Isa would get the proper nutrients and love needed each day to be healthy.
That once she decides to relinquish her rights as his mother, that he would quickly make his way to Hannah's Hope and spend minimal (if no time at all) in a government run orphanage. (There's no such thing as a "good" government run orphanage). Hannah's Hope is wonderful and the quicker he can arrive there, the better care he'll receive.
That ultimately God's hand would be all over this story!

I'm so thankful for a God who is big enough to move mountains, yet personal enough to hear little ole' Hilary's prayers! I know He is at work right now over in Ethiopia and while I don't know what that looks like, I know that I can pour my heart out in prayer and trust that He hears me!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I feel like this...

I feel like this picture captures how I feel so well! There's life as I know it now- being a mama to Jude, then there's the life to come of being a mama to Isa as well, and that life seems so far off! I know in the grand scheme of things this wait won't be that long. But right now, today, it seems pretty distant- and truthfully sometimes hard to even imagine.  My daily prayer is that God would use this time to prepare me to the exact mom that Isa will need! It's hard to wrap my mind around what life will look like once the day finally comes where we'll bring him home. But I trust entirely that it'll be in His perfect timing! Truth be told, I'm thankful for this wait time, because each day I fall more in love with the idea of being a mama to two. I trust that God is at work in me and around me, and that in time, Isa won't seem so far away! I'm thankful for the work that God is doing in our lives as we wait for Isa to join our family! Maybe next Thanksgiving we'll be praising God for the sweet face of Isa joining our family! 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Purchase Your Own Adoption Countdown Kit!!!

Have you finally finished the paper chase of your dossier and been given your oh so desired number on the wait list?! As a fellow adopting mama I know the joy of watching our number drop each month and being that much closer to seeing the face of our babe! What better way to countdown then to tangibly see your official number each month on an Adoption Countdown Wall!  After making a countdown for our family in hopes of helping our 3 year old better understand the wait for his brother, other people showed some interest in having one as well! So as a way to fundraise for our adoption, we've decided to make them and sell them as a little fundraiser in helping us bring our sweet Isa home! 100% of the proceeds will go towards our adoption fund!

If you're interested in getting your very own countdown kit for your family but want to get a better idea of what the finished product looks like, check out two that I made for my sweet blog friends Kelly Jo and Alison. There are three "looks"to choose from. For a girl we have a chocolate brown Africa (or country of your choice) with light pink numbers, and for a boy we have a light blue Africa (or country of your choice) with chocolate brown numbers. If you're on both the girl and boy lists we have a gender neutral option, a red Africa with light blue numbers. Simply pick the kit option below that suits you best!:

  • Kit Option "Crafty":  If your crafty and wanting to put together your own countdown, and would just like me to send you the customized PDF/template of your specific country and list of numbers, I can do that! You can then cut them out yourself and creatively hang it however your crafty self pleases!                                                                                            Cost of template $15
  • Kit Option "You Cut It": We will mail you the countdown kit that will include:  Sheets of card stock with your customized country and listed numbers printed out, measured and cut ribbon to tie the numbers onto twine, and one long piece of twine that will hold all your numbers. The "catch" is... YOU get the job of cutting out all your Africa's (or country of your choice) and hole punching them... and you save my little hands some cutting work!                                                                                                                                        Cost of "You Cut It" kit: $30
  • Kit Option "You Hang It": We will mail you everything you need ready to go! This kit includes: Your customized country with numbers already cut out and hole punched for you, pre-measured and cut ribbon to tie the numbers onto twine, and one long piece of twine that will hold your numbers. All you need to do is pick your wall and hang it up!                                                   Cost of "You Hang It" kit: $40

To place an order simply email me at  Let me know your official wait list number and the country you're adopting from, as well as what color scheme you want to go with (boy or girl). Specify what kit option you desire along with your mailing address. To make a payment you can either do so by using the PayPal "donate here" button on the right hand side under "Several Ways to Help" or you can mail me a check. I will start putting your order together as soon as payment is received.
Thanks so much for your support in helping us bring Isa home and we look forward to counting down with you!


Saturday, November 20, 2010

My Sweet Friends Giving Thanks Giveaway!

Okay friends and family! One of my sweet, funny, creative, orphan loving, blog friends, Lara, is hosting a Giving Thanks Giveaway fundraiser for her adoption and you need to check it out! Time is ticking seeing as it only goes until Nov. 22nd- So go on... check it out! I'm super serious when I say that there is some AWESOME items to win and it would be well worth your while to buy a slice of pie and help bring her baby home! Their journey to their child is near and dear to my heart seeing as we're right in the thick of this together! She's just a couple spots ahead of us on the boy wait list and I oh so hope to be able to travel together with her family one day to bring our babies home! I'm thankful for a community of adopting families through this crazy blog world and even though I've never "met" Lara I can wholeheartedly say that she's great and I look forward to the day I can hang with her in person!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

And His Name Is....

Well, after much thought and back and forth discussions, Joshua and I have settled on the first name of our baby boy! Ahhh! I feel like in announcing his name, it makes him all the more real! But before I let you in on what that name is, I'd like to add here that the game plan is to wait and see what birth name he is given and then incorporate at least part of it as his middle name. We think it's important for him to have a little bit of his heritage in his name just as we hope to share with him his culture and roots of where he was born as he gets older.

There's a lot of pressure in picking out the name of your kid! I mean, after all, they're going to have this name for the rest of their life! Figuring out the perfect combo of unique, but not weird, trendy, but not overly common, is a bit of a challenge! And as much as we'd all like to say that we don't care about other's opinions.... we all desperately want people to say "Awww, what a great name, I love it!" (This is when I struggle with the people pleaser in me for sure! So if you hate his name, please just don't tell me!) And throw in the mix the importance of wanting a name that has a great meaning... and sheesh, we're lucky we settled on a name at all!

So here it is... drum roll please..... Our little guys name will be Isa (pronounced "Eesa").

Isa Helms! Isa is a variant of Isaac (Hebrew) and Isaiah (Hebrew), and the meaning of Isa is "laughter; salvation of God; the Lord helps me".

Oh how I love this meaning!

I feel the need to share a little background as to why we settled on Isa as his name. Joshua and I had been throwing names back and forth to each other for quite some time, unable to agree on one- surprise, surprise! My sister knows a gal that is married to a man from Africa with the name Isa, so she had thrown that name out there to me in passing conversation. I liked it... it was an African name that I could actually pronounce AND that I could spell for that matter! I brought it up to Joshua and he was a bit wishy washy at first- but then when we looked up the meaning- we both agreed that the meaning was pretty darn cool, I mean how can you not like "laughter; salvation of God; the Lord helps me"!?. Without being a 100% settled on it, we weren't sharing with people that it was the name we were leaning towards. But I was falling more and more in love with the name as I would write it on every little scrap paper I had around the house, while on hold with the cable company or just sitting at the computer desk. (After all, every girl knows you need to like writing the name out, just like before you were married you'd happily write out your soon-to-be married last name just to look at it!). I thought it sounded good with his brother's name Jude too... like, "This is Jude's little brother, Isa". When we would ask Jude if he wanted his brother's name to be Isa, he'd say "Yeah, Jude and Isa... it's good!". Hearing Jude's sweet voice say Isa could have sold me on the name alone!

So... here's the really cool part that sealed the deal!
A gal from my women's bible study approached me a couple weeks ago one Tuesday morning after class. She said, "I'm really nervous to talk to you about something"... which made me really nervous that she was nervous- but I said "Don't be nervous, what is it?!" (Geesh, I just said nervous way too many times in one sentence!). She proceeded to tell me how a couple weeks ago she woke up in the middle of the night and felt like the Holy Spirit said, "His name is Isaac, this is MY story". A little confused she was like "What God?", but that was all she heard, "His name is Isaac, this is MY story". All she really knew for certain was that this wasn't a message intended for her but that she felt the burden on her heart to share it with ME! So here's a gal who has NO IDEA that the name Isa (variant of Isaac) is written on every stinking scrap piece of paper around my house, and that it is the ONE name that both Joshua and I were in agreement on because we LOVED the meaning- so when I started getting teary as she was telling me this, I quickly had to let her know how crazy this was! You see she was nervous to talk to me because she didn't want me to think she was crazy... I didn't think she was crazy AT ALL, I just once again thought God was crazy for all the ways He's worked in every detail for this story! Isn't that so like Him though? God is crazy! He's crazy about His children... so why I'm always taken back at His involvement in the tiny details of this journey?!  I shouldn't be- He's crazy about Isa, even more than we are (Which seems hard to fathom sometimes)!

So yep, that sealed the deal! I figured if God is waking up other people in the middle of the night letting them know what our kid's name is going to be, then we might as well go with it! (o; And thank goodness for this dear friend that was willing to go out on a limb and be obedient to share with me the burden that the Holy Spirit had clearly put on her heart... our son's name! I can't even tell you how this whole journey has truly made me realize the importance in being obedient to the Holy Spirit's nudges in life- from the get go of this adoption we have been blessed by other's who have followed through to do or say what they feel like God is leading them to do! May I be so bold to listen and be obedient to the nudge of God as well!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Jude Man

Today my Jude man and I made a quick trip to the Credit Union and from there ran to the post office to mail off our I-600A form application with a check ($830) that included both the application fee and our biometrics fee to the USCIS.  I sure hope I filled everything out right and included all supporting documents that were needed- I get so nervous reading government gargin that it starts to make me doubt that I can read at all! I re-read through all the paperwork like 10 times and then had Joshua read through it and make sure I didn't miss anything obvious, so I think we're good to go! Now we'll just wait to hear back from them with our biometrics fingerprint appointment and hopefully our I-171H Notice of Favorable Determination form! I'm not sure how long the wait normally is?

Okay, so my little partner in crime, Jude, just brings so much stinking joy to my life! Do you ever just have those moments where you look at your kid and seriously wish you could give them the world?! He just makes being a mama easy and a joy! (I say that, completely acknowledging that on certain "crap days" I would totally disagree with that statement and probably laugh at it!)... But as a whole, he's just the most tender-hearted kiddo that genuinely seeks to do right, that it makes loving him pretty darn easy! After running to the post office, we ran into Ross real quick and as we walked past the kids clothes isle, Jude saw this shirt that had Iron Man on it. Jude is seriously crazy about anything Super Hero and his eyes immediately lit up! I'm currently working with him on the whole "You don't get something just because you want it, when you want it, thing"... and he's doing surprisingly well with it, normally responding with "I know mama, I'm just lookin'". But today I took a look at Jude and his sweet eyes and then saw that the super hero shirts were just $4.99, so I thought, what the heck- I'll get it for him! He proudly carried it around the store the rest of the time we were there and when I went to check out it rang up for $7.99 instead. Ugh! The whole reason I was cool with getting it was because in my mind $4.99 seemed like a good deal- but not $7.99! (Side Note: I HATE spending money on kid's clothes because A. they don't wear them long enough at all to make you feel like you're getting your money's worth and B. there's barely any material anyway that it seems stupid to pay a lot for such a little article of clothing!). So in the moment of being annoyed with the price difference I just decided it wasn't worth getting the shirt and kindly told the gal behind the counter that I'd pass on the shirt. Well Jude didn't hear this conversation, so on the way out to the car he's excitedly saying "Mom, mom! Can I see my shirt?!". My heart immediately sank because I knew that I was totally about to discourage his little super hero heart! I told him that I needed to talk to him when we got to the car about the shirt and so he quickly climbed into his car seat and looked at me in anticipation. Me: "Jude, you know how I thought the shirt was on sale and was a good deal? Well, it turns out that it cost more than I thought and so I didn't end up buying it. Sometimes things like this happen." Jude's eyes fill with tears, not tantrum tears, real disappointment tears, slight quiver of the chin tears. And he seriously responds, "It's okay mama, my feelings aren't hurt. It's okay, I understand, it was expensive, right?" as he blinks back the tears. Talk about feeling horrible about a $3 savings!!!! I seriously got teary eyed myself because I felt so bad! Well, any time Jude sees me cry, he gets super sensitive and concerned, and so then he was like "Why are you sad mama?! I'm okay, my feelings aren't hurt, don't cry mama! Maybe we can find a cheap Iron Man shirt at another store?". How sweet is this?! Such a tender heart! I'll tell you what, this whole mom thing is a fine balance of trying to teach your kiddo to value what they have and not be a spoiled brat while truly desiring to give your child the world out of love! I still don't know if the "right thing" should have been to go back in there and buy him the shirt or not- and I didn't. All I know is that I'm grateful for a kid who cuts me some slack and let's me know "I didn't hurt his feelings" when I know I really did. Sigh. LOVE HIM!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Show Hope

So I thought the paper chasing was over once I turned in our dossier, but I was mistaken! The grant application process also requires a bit of paper chasing as well- that of which I'll gladly do if it helps bring our kiddo home! I mailed off our Show Hope grant application today and prayed God's blessings on it as I handed it over to the lady at the post office. Ultimately I have peace that as long as we do our part in pursuing every avenue possible for funding that God will show up, just as He has so far. That being said, I still hope and pray that at least one of these grants gets approved!

That leaves me with one more grant application to tackle, Lifesong's Both Hands grant (one for the widow, one for the orphan). The game plan is to start working on that next week.
This weeks my goal is to finish up our USCIS paperwork and get it mailed off. We're marking one thing off the list at time!

Sunday, November 7, 2010


SERIOUSLY?! Can you believe that we jumped from being number 71 on the wait list on Oct. 25th to NOW being number 59 on the November boys wait list?! This makes a mama's heart awfully happy!!! This could also have the potential to make a mama's heart get her hopes up that each month is going to drop this fast! So... while this was a super great month of matching babes with their forever families I'm not banking on this kind of movement every month. ALTHOUGH, it would be awesome if it kept up this way! 12 spots a month would put us getting our referral in 6 months!!! Sigh... oh how that would be wonderful!

The truth of the matter is that there is no easy pattern to follow for the amount of referrals that go out every month. There are so many factors that go into the process. So here's the gist of what I know (fellow AGCI mama's, correct me if I'm wrong here)... Hannah's Hope can only take about 50 kids at a time. Even when a child is referred to a family, it doesn't mean that a spot automatically opens up for another kid to move into HH.  It's still months before that referred child is actually leaving HH and on their way home. For instance the blessed families who just received referrals this past month will not travel for their first court date until mid-January (they don't return with their child at this time). After this trip, the families will return home for about  4-6 weeks and then fly back to Ethiopia for their second trip, their Embassy date, and at that point bring their precious baby home with them.  It's my understanding that until there is a space opened up for another child to enter, referrals may slow down a bit. What I'm unsure of is how many families there are ahead of us that are just about to travel for their 2nd trip and pick up their kids and how many spots that will open up for new kids to arrive at Hannah's Hope and be referred to the families on the wait list.

I am a part of an AGCI Ethiopia list serve that our agency has set up and it's such a blessing to be in touch with fellow families that are in the same process as us! We can follow families that are number 1 on the list and could get "the call" any day now and cheer them on when they do get that long awaited referral! We also connect with those that are just a spot ahead or behind us, truly making a connection with them hoping that maybe we'll travel together when it's our turn to go get our babies! It's such fun and a true encouragement to see God's involvement in every detail of each families story! I'm learning more and more about the process by following along on this list serve to each phase the families ahead of me are in.

So here's to a GREAT month of October and to our new November number 59!!!! Hoping that number just keeps dropping!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Worthy of the Prize

We are blessed to be one of 18 adopting families that Worthy of the Prize has partnered with to help raise funds for our adoption! Today through Sunday Worthy of the Prize is hosting an Adoption Auction that will benefit the 18 families it supports! Check it out and help spread the word!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Trucking Right Along...

First off, we'd just like to thank everyone again for your involvement and support in our photo shoot raffle over the past month! We are so excited that our dear friends, Gwen and Dustin, won the drawing and think it perfect timing for a photo session for their family, with a little baby girl due just around the corner! Be sure to check out the video posted on the blog entry below of the drawing! When all was said and done we were able to raise $395 to go towards our adoption fund! We would like to specifically thank Liz at Still Moments Photography for thinking creatively and generously in helping us fundraise to bring our baby boy home! Liz, it speaks volumes of your character and heart for taking on a crazy family you didn't know to support their process of adoption just because you felt lead to! Joshua and I are blessed to have met you and partner with you in this journey! 
Side Note... I forgot to mention we got this for completing our dossier!

The next thing on our agenda to take care of is our USCIS Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition. (Sounds like a lot of important mumbo jumbo doesn't it?!) IF you're wondering what purpose it serves, as was I, according to the USCIS website, it's "To classify an alien orphan who either is, or will be, adopted by a U.S. citizen as an immediate relative of the U.S. citizen to allow the child to enter the United States." (So yeah, I'd say it's important stuff!) The filling fee for this application is $670 and then it's $80 per person (Joshua and I) for biometrics. The good news is, WE ALREADY HAVE THAT IN SAVINGS (thanks to our last yard sale and raffle)! Wahoo! So as soon as I can get on this, I'll get it mailed out and then we'll wait to hear back, hopefully with an approval, and we'll receive our I-171H, Notice of Favorable Determination form! I'll keep you posted when I get that sent out. 

I've also been working on two of the three grant applications we are applying for! The Room for One More Child application was all online and I already sent that out last week and will just have to wait to hear back from them. I'm still working on gathering all the documents needed for the application for a  Show Hope grant. I've submitted the online portion of the application and have 30 days to gather the remaining required documents and send them in, in order for the application to be reviewed.  We're praying that no matter the outcome, if we receive any grant money or not, that ultimately these organizations would be blessed for all they do to help adopting families! We trust that God knows the remaining financial need to be met and that He's going to provide for it one way or another. We just want to do our part in pursuing every avenue possible to make that happen! 

I thought this was fitting picture for the title to this blog entry (o; 
We have come so far in the past five months in tackling this financial hurdle! God has been so faithful to provide in some awesome, unique, creative, and unimaginable ways! God has used so many of YOU and we have already raised over $15,000! This is just crazy amazing to me!!!!  The remaining amount of funds we'll have to come up with are the fee due upon acceptance of our referral, which is $4,500, and our travel expenses for the two trips (budgeting for airfare to cost $8k total + travel expenses = $10k?). For those of you who have traveled to Ethiopia, let me know if that sounds about right? The good news is, we have time to come up with these expenses! While our wait time is somewhat up in the air, it's probably fair to say we have at least a year before our referral. So we plan on continuing to fundraise, praying that if it's God's will we receive some grant money, and trust, trust, trust- that He funds His callings! 

So that's where we're at for now! Continuing to be amazed at His goodness and faithfulness! P.S. we're still waiting to hear our official wait list number for November, but I'll be sure to share as soon as we hear!