Saturday, February 24, 2007

Good Stuff

What a great day!

What a great week!

I've been out of town most of the week. That's why I haven't been blogging. But here's just an example of the kinds of things that have happened this week:

An acquaintance of mine ordered new living room furniture. While I was out of town the furniture company called and told him it would be arriving early. Because he didn't have a place for his old stuff he contacted me to get rid of it (for those of you who don't know, people always call youth pastors to get rid of their junk - I mean useful items - like 8 track players, broken VCRs that just need "someone to take a look at", TVs without knobs, Atari controllers without a game system, boxes of hats with misprinted words, Carman VHS tapes, etc.).

Long story short...our church's youth room doesn't need any more furniture in it. But before we started down this adoption road Rhonda and I talked about replacing the stuff we had in our own living room. (well, mostly Rhonda...I mostly just smiled, patted her knee, and nodded because the stuff's still good, just a bit outdated.)

When the adoption process started, Rhonda realized that new furniture was out of the question.

But today we've got new (as in different and better) Lay-Z-Boy brand furniture in our living room.

But it doesn't end there.

I loaded (Rhonda says I should put "we" instead of "I" here but I'm not sure stumbling across the snow counts) our old living room furniture in my truck and debated what to do with it.


Our Indian friend (as in from India, not Native American) popped in and visited. Long story short again...their family has been borrowing furniture for the entire 2 years they've been in Toledo. In fact, today is the exact 2-year anniversary of their arrival. They have been praying for furniture. The next step seemed obvious. We drove the ALREADY LOADED furniture over to their house and unloaded.

But that's not all...

She called the man who loaned them the furniture to tell him that he could have it back. The man informed her that just a few hours earlier he had visited the Cherry Street Mission, Toledo's homeless shelter, where he met a family that needed furniture.

So the stuff that was on loan to our Indian friends for 2 years became available on the exact day it was requested by a needy family.

So four families received "new" furniture today. Only one of them planned it.

Now convince me that ALL THAT was a mere coincidence!

We're Done! -- (Almost)

We received Form I-171H in the mail today!

That's the magic paper from US Immigration that every adoptive family waits patiently to show up in their mailbox. For us, this is the LAST paper we needed to complete our dossier.

It says: "It has been determined that you are able to furnish proper care to an orphan or orphans as defined by (blah blah blah...)"

We weren't expecting this paper for several weeks. We've been told by our social worker that it typically takes at least 6 weeks from the time the home study is sent in. And Cleveland is known to be "especially slow". For us it happened in 16 days! If you consider the fact that we sent in an amendment to our request only 5 days ago this is especially impressive!

Now that we've got all our paperwork we'll take the stack to Columbus to be certified by the state. Then the stack is mailed to be authenticated at the Federal level. Then we're done.

I don't know the timing of it all but I'm guessing our dossier could be in Ethiopia within a few short weeks.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Bethany's New Room

We finished Bethany's room today. If we ever get rid of the other junk piled in the corner (not pictured) she could probably move in. Time for a garage sale. Probably wouldn't get too many customers in this weather, though.The carpet in this room is well-worn. But instead of recarpeting the room like we had planned, Bethany found this area rug at Lowe's to cover the bad spots. Now all we need is matching bedding.

A Progress Update

We got our passports in the mail on Valentine's Day.

Our homestudy is finished and has been sent to US Immigration.

Next step: Wait. Wait for US Immigration to process the fingerprints we submitted back on January 12. Everything else we can do is done! Could be another month before we can proceed any further. (If only we were dangerous criminals the government might work a little faster!)

When all that's done we take our huge stack of paperwork to Columbus to get every sheet individually certified by the state of Ohio.

Then we send that same stack to the Federal Government and they certify them.

Then the stack goes to our Adoption Agency and we're done paperworking. They find someone to interpret every document into Amharic and the stack (called a dossier) is sent to Ethiopia.

And the process of waiting is placed in a different government's hands.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Just the Beginning?

Yet another verse has come alive and attached itself to me. "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10

So here we go again - already. The question for our family is this: What else has God prepared for us in advance?

We don't think it's too early to start asking.

We're even willing to consider that this may not be our last adoption. (The verdict's still out on that one.) We do know, however, that this adoption is only the beginning for us, not the end.

My prayer lately has been "God, give us as many fatherless children as you want us to have."

Maybe it’s "just" these two from Ethiopia we’re waiting on. Maybe more. Only God knows at this point.

Pray for us.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Someone Notify Jack

This has nothing to do with the adoption...just normal life.

For our regular readers from places like Alaska, Canada, Finland, and Sweden you probably won't consider this newsworthy at all. For the past 3 days it has been snowing in Toledo. We're running out of places to put it (at least not without a lot of extra work).

Last night Bethany and I shoveled for a few hours. (By the way, Kailey's been a little under the weather or she'd likely help too). We did ours and our neighbor's driveway. It snowed more and blew last night. So...we shoveled ours and our neighbor's driveways again. Everything we had done was undone. Two days in a row of shoveling a foot or more of snow. Then we moved down the street and helped a few other folks.

I'm working from home today. There's a Level 3 snow emergency. That means no one's supposed to be out on the roads without a good excuse. We had to take a break from shoveling to help push a truck that was helping with snow removal.

Our neighbor lady tells me she hasn't seen this much snow since the storm of '78. Another tells me that the wind was so strong that the weathermen can't decide how much snow actually fell. Another neighbor totaled his truck last night when the high winds spun it around as he was crossing the I-75 bridge. We've had several days of sub-zero windchills.

Evidently Jack Frost didn't get the memo about this global warming thing.

Bethany after the first day's storm

Bethany after last night's storm

Wealth (again)

I've been out of town for several days. Had lots of time to think. It's taken me several tries to get this post just right. I hope it illustrates the degree to which my heart has changed (and continues to change) in the past year.

You'll notice that this post is sprinkled with a degree of personal conviction. I think I'm starting to sound like a broken record. Sorry about that. I'm just on this journey trying to align myself with Jesus' expecations for his followers.

When I came home from my trip I saw a library book on the kitchen counter that Rhonda must have checked out. "Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger: Moving from Affluence to Generousity." Funny. That's what I'd been thinking about the entire time I was away.

I had just visited a big church with a big modern building in one of the most affluent counties in America. As I looked around I couldn't help but wonder how much of it was necessary. Once again I was struck with how much stuff we have - particularly in the church.

Then I read this from Sarah Cunningham's new book called "Dear Church" The author asked a social worker how churches could improve their relationship with the local community:

"Churches? I don't see anything that churches could do." She wasn't being mean, but rather to-the-point. "We've already got tons of churches. Look around. There's a church on every corner. I bet you could count nine or ten within three blocks of here," she reminded me. "And nothing has changed, has it? But some of the social issues just keep getting worse and worse. Drunks wander the streets. The same homeless people have been circling in and out of the shelters for the last 15 years. Kids don't have anything to do to keep them out of trouble. Meanwhile, the churches keep right on existing, holding their services every Sunday. And it never changes anything. It seems pretty obvious to me that churches are not the answer."

Not the answer!?!? Why not? Why aren't we the answer? What's stopping us from being the answer - or at least part of it? We've certainly got all the stuff, don't we?

We're stable. We're predictable. We're safe. And compared to the people who need its help the most, the church is rich. Rich, but not the answer?!?!

God help us.

Take it further. I wonder if Africa (for example) looks at America the way this social worker looks at the church. "The richest country in the world?...Nope, that's not the answer!"

Haven't read the book on the kitchen counter yet. The title's enough for me to wrestle with for now.

Monday, February 12, 2007


We have the best kids!

Bethany spent an hour shoveling snow from our entire driveway and the sidewalks. At dinner I told her we'd give her $5. She refused to take it! When I asked why she said, "Save it for the adoption."

Dear Brother, From Kailey

Dear brother,

I am glad we are going to have you in our family. I have never had a brother before, and I have never been an older sister either, so I don’t know what it will be like. You will have two older sisters, a mom, and a dad and your sibling in your family. You will also have a dog named Jazzy. It seems like its going to take forever for you to come and the process to be over. I pray for you every day and can’t wait to meet you.

Love, Kailey

Dear Sister, From Bethany

Dear Sister,

I pray for you every day. I’m really, really, really, happy we're adopting. I guess you could say I’m ecstatic! I can’t wait to meet you. I hope I’m a good big sister. I also hope you like our house. I especially hope you like your room! I know I like it. My favorite part of this house is the family room because it’s the room where our family spends the most time together. You’ll probably end up having a favorite room too.

Love Bethany, your big sister

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Six and Under

Yesterday our family coordinator emailed. She suggested we consider raising the ages of the kids on our official request to the Ethiopian government. Otherwise it could result in a much longer wait. Our current request is four and under.

We've decided to change. We're still requesting siblings, either sex, but now six years and under.

Monday, February 05, 2007

The World's on Fire!

Today I'm wondering...

Will the world change before we get our kids?

The Middle East and Horn of Africa has been coming to a slow boil for the past 5 years. Things aren't getting any better. Iraq. Israel. Afghanistan. Al Qaeda. Somalia. Darfur. Chad... And Iran is planning to announce some sort of "giant achievements" on February 11 which will include "a dramatic declaration of their nuclear rights."

It's days like these when I'm tempted to do two things: worry and doubt.

Worry that our kids will be OK in such a tough region. Doubt that they will be.

But without these two little devils (worry and doubt, not our kids!!!) there wouldn't be potential for things far greater.

Faith. Hope. Trust.

Pray that the latter take hold, not the former.

Friday, February 02, 2007

New Friends (part 2)

Tonight we had dinner with a couple in Toledo who found our blogsite a few weeks ago. They have two biological sons and have adopted a special needs (part Korean) girl from Ukraine. Great kids! It was so encouraging to see an interracial adoptive family "in action", siblings and all. Someday that's going to be us!

They were just approved by America World (the same agency we're using) to adopt from Ethiopia. And we've discovered we have many things in common. Their decision to adopt mirrors ours in so many ways. Very faith driven. 2 more kids. In the few short hours at their house we gained lots of insight from their experience adopting their daughter. What a great connection to have! And keep.

Plus, the homemade meal was excellent!

Let the Frustration Begin!

We're still doing paperwork.


All day today. Adoption paperwork.

Our agency told us these days would come. Days of frustration. Now I believe them.

I felt like we were in the homestretch on this paperchase a month ago. Now I don't know where we are. I think we're on the homestretch again.

I think.

We started in October. I'm done predicting when we'll be done. I was hoping for the end of January. Now I'm hoping the end of February. March, anyone? Who knows?

It's like running the wrong way up an escalator with a broken leg.