Thursday, March 29, 2007

Free Money! (maybe)

Today I followed up on a lead from the social worker who did our homestudy. There's a grant for "reimbursement of nonrecurring adoption expenses for a child with special needs". Evidently, this is a county Public Children's Service Agency (PCSA) grant. Many counties consider children who have been in an orphanage as "special needs". Therefore, we may qualify.

I talked to a real nice lady from Lucas County's PCSA. Sounds very promising. She's sending us the forms. Bottom line...if we qualify, it'd be a $4000 grant ($2k per child)!

Friday, March 23, 2007

It Made It!

Yesterday we got confirmation that our dossier did indeed make it all the way to Ethiopia and was hand-delivered to the powers that be.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The (real) Waiting Begins

If all went as planned our dossier was hand-delivered to America World's (our adoption agency)in-country staff representative in Ethiopia sometime this weekend. America World sent it with a Visiting Orphans mission team traveling to Addis Ababa that left the US on Thursday. We feel good about this after our scare with FedEx.

Now, we wait. The frequency of blog entries will probably drop back fairly significantly because we can't do anything. Except wait.

The documents will be translated into Amharic. Then the Ethiopian government agency responsible for adoptions will eventually get around to matching kids with our request (called a referral). Once we accept the referral it's only a matter of 4-6 weeks before we're on a plane to Ethiopia to pick up our kids.

Rhonda reads Ethiopian adoption blogs extensively. The last adoption from Ethiopia through our agency took only one month from dossier arrival in Ethiopia to referral. That's way out of the ordinary but within the realm of possibilty.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Bethany's Ebay

When I went to bed the other night there was a pile of kid's stuff on the floor on my side of the bed. Stuffed animals, books, dolls, etc. I asked Rhonda why it was there.

It was Bethany's stuff. She went through her room after the 30 Hour Famine. She wants me to sell her stuff on Ebay and give the money to World Vision to help care for poor children in Africa.

Pretty cool!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Poverty Insights

This past weekend our church participated in World Vision's 30-Hour Famine. Participants, ranging in age from 5 to 89, took monetary pledges to go without food for 30 hours to experience hunger. 29,000 kids die worldwide every day of hunger and related diseases (I'm sure our "simulated" hunger pales in comparison). The money raised goes to feed starving kids around the world. Our group raised enough to feed 5 kids for a year.

We used our "Famine" as an opportunity to serve others. All throughout scripture you'll see a list of those we're supposed to serve: widows, orphans, and aliens (the homeless). We directly impacted all three this weekend. We fed orphans, visited widows, and met the needs of the homeless in our community. In addition, we watched several videos that tell the true story of poverty.

Imagine feeding your child weeds because it's the only food available.

Imagine knowing that you're going to die of AIDS and realizing that there's no one to care for your children after you're gone.

Imagine you're 7 years old and a rebel army invades your house and tells you at gunpoint, "Kill your parents or be killed."

Imagine knowing that at age 15 you only have a 1 in 10 chance of reaching your 35th birthday because of the AIDS pandemic in your country.

Imagine being the head of your household as a 6-year old orphan and having to trade sex for a loaf of bread to feed your younger siblings.

These things are happening. We're so insulated from them in America.

Several things struck me this weekend. Poverty in western society is so much different than almost everywhere else in the world. Americans in poverty largely have basic human needs cared for. We eat. We're clothed. We have a roof over our heads. Nearly every major city in America has a place where a willing person can have these basic needs met. Not so in other places.

I realize that by speaking in generalities that someone will come up with an exception (i.e. "I know someone who doesn't have a roof over his head...", etc.) I guess my point is that in most of the world people in poverty have none of the above. In Swaziland, for example, 67% of families live on less than 45 cents a day. (That's the kind of uncomfortable statistic that we like to swat away by saying something like, "Yeah, but 45 cents in Swaziland buys so much more than here in America." The truth is, none of us would change places with them if given a choice.)

It could be argued that much of the poverty in western society (at least what we'd consider "extreme poverty" - homelessness) is self-induced. For example, when we volunteered at the Cherry Street Mission this weekend we found out that 90-95% of the homeless men in the shelter got into their situation because of choices related to drugs and alcohol. They lost their family, their home, their car, their possessions, and their dignity. But their poverty could all be traced back to a choice - THEIR choice. Again, this is a generality...feel free to argue if you think I'm wrong. (By the way, we still have a responsibility to help people who "brought it on themselves". For further reading on this subject consult your nearest bible paying close attention to the stuff written in red.)

In other places of the world poverty isn't a choice. A rebel army kills your parents. AIDS claims 90% of a population before they reach 35. It stops raining. Nobody chose these things.

And one other big difference... The people in America can choose to get out. 76% of the homeless men who enter the program at the Cherry Street Mission end up being fully functioning members of society. There's hope. With some help there's a way out of your homelessness. Contrast that to Africa. Things can't be fixed quite that easily. How do you make it rain?

So here's what struck me biggest and hardest. I participated in this 30 hours of "starving" myself to "experience what others around the world experience every day". So I packed my pillow, my sleeping bag, a toothbrush, and a change of clothes. I found a mat in the children's ministry room to sleep on. All this after watching a video that showed an orphan from Uganda dressed in rags who carried everything he owned in a lunch bag. At any moment I could choose to step back into my comfortable life again.

He couldn't.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


After a two-day vacation to Romulus, Michigan, the "overnight" package with all our adoption paperwork arrived at its destination this morning.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Devil Flies FedEx

When I woke up this morning and found MapQuest directions to "FedEx Freigh Network - Romulus, Michigan" on the computer I knew something was up. Rhonda had called FedEx again early this morning for an update (I think she's on a first name basis with them in under 24 hours). They cannot physically verify that the package is there. All they have is the tracking number and a computer that tells them it's in Romulus (something we're able to do ourselves via the internet).

Yesterday Rhonda was told that the package would arrive at our adoption agency in Virginia (its destination) today. Evidently that's not going to happen either. Today FedEx tells us that the plane with our package on it was grounded because of mechanical complications.

So I get the feeling that Rhonda's ready to drive up to Romulus and kindly unpack their plane for them.

Monday, March 05, 2007


Friday we entrusted 4 1/2 months worth of tedious paperwork to FedEx. Of all the times for them to get it wrong!

It didn't arrive at it's destination today. Rhonda has spoken to the Fex Ex people several times. They aren't 100% sure where the package is. They think it's in Romulus, Michigan - a far cry from McLean, Virginia.

We've got copies of every piece of paper we sent. However, copies don't count in the adoption business. We'd have to start the paperchase over if it comes up missing.


Friday, March 02, 2007

Money Miracles

If you've followed our adoption journey very long you know that it wasn't something we planned for financially. In fact, our "seed money" for this adoption consisted of $974 in our savings account when we started in October.

Our plan was to live more of a simple life. Instead of spending Rhonda's wages from her job as an "as-needed" Registered Nurse, we'd automatically deposit them into our adoption savings account. Even so, we had prepared for the reality that we might eventually need to take out a loan.

Yesterday some friends of ours handed us a check for $500. Completely unexpected! Perfect timing! Today there's a ton of money due with the paperwork mentioned in yesterday's post.

I think I mentioned this in an earlier post but it bears repeating. A month or so ago Rhonda was given short-notice pay (something that almost never happens) 3 times in 5 days, giving us just enough money to make our next payment!

Something amazing has happened! We've paid $9000+ to date toward the adoption without having to borrow a cent! Wow!

Thursday, March 01, 2007


Today we traveled to Columbus to get the Ohio state certification for 18 documents in our dossier. We also received the Iowa state certification for 3 others by Fed Ex today. That means we're done! This stack represents the last 26 weeks of our life. We'll be sending it off tomorrow to America World Adoption Agency. They'll take it from there.