Colin & Noelle

Colin & Noelle


CURRENT TIME IN ETHIOPIA.



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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Giving the Gift of Family.


How would you feel if you could give the gift of FAMILY this year? We hope you are not done with your holiday shopping just yet because we have some great ideas about how you can help give that gift to children around the world this holiday season!
 

Africa Ornaments ($13)
First, if you are interested in helping us bring our little boy home from Ethiopia, we have a new fundraiser to announce! Colin and I have been hard at work making some handcrafted ornaments. We have 2 styles available. The “Africa” ornaments are $13 each and the “Ethiopian Flag” ornaments are $8 each (both include the cost of shipping).  Each ornament will also include a little thank-you "tag" you can choose to remove or keep attached in remembrance of your gift. We are willing to work with you to do some basic customization on the ornaments – just ask!  
 
If we know you personally and we see you on a regular basis we are happy to bring them to you, minus the cost of shipping of course! Simply pay via our PayPal account on the left-hand side of the blog. Follow the prompt, and enter your dollar amount. When you are reviewing your donation, notice where it says "Add special instructions to the seller" and leave us your name, address, the best way to reach you in case of an unforeseen issue, which ornament you'd like, and any special requests.

 

Ethiopian Flag
Ornament - $8


Again, each ornament is hand painted by us and goes towards funding our first trip to Ethiopia where we will legally adopt *B* into our family. So this gift literally helps go towards giving a child a family. How amazing is that?!

If ornaments are not your thing, might we share with you some other ways that you can give the gift of family (and hope!) this holiday season?



 
Interested in giving a one-time gift this holiday season?
Consider making a donation that will help empower those in need, provide resources, and ultimately preserve families which prevents more orphans -- a hugely important component of orphan care! Consider giving a gift to a family in need through Samaritans Purse, Heifer International, or Project HOPEFUL.
Or
Consider giving a gift that helps fund or facilitate orphan care and/or adoptions through organizations like Show Hope, which provides grants to adoptive families, as well as material provisions for orphans worldwide. Might we also suggest finding a local organization like Louisville's Orphan Care Alliance, which helps advocate for children and equip adoptive and foster parents through various means . We also cannot say enough amazing things about the work being done by Lifeline Children's Services. In addition to their many adoption programs and birth mother counseling, their (un)adopted program aims to meet the needs and bring hope to orphaned children who do not meet qualifications to be adopted.
Or
Purchase a “gift that gives back” such as jewelry from this Noonday Collection or custom watercolor artwork -- both sold by other adoptive families we know!
 
 
Interested in making a long-term commitment?
Consider starting your own journey to adopt or becoming a foster parent. For an even smaller time commitment, consider offering respite care to adoptive/foster families, becoming an advocate for children through programs like CASA, or sponsoring a child through WorldVision or Compassion.

 
We can’t imagine a better gift to give this holiday season than “family”. Whether that be through preserving existing ones or building new ones. And while we hope you will check out some of the great organizations listed above, we ultimately hope that you will find some place to give generously to this year.
Wishing you all a blessed Holiday Season with your family by your side!
 

Friday, October 18, 2013

IT'S A ...



WE ACCEPTED A REFERRAL!!!


& IT'S A...
  
 
...


...


...


BOY!!!


 

 

Although we were #29 on the waiting list as of our last update, we inquired about a 1 year old boy on the waiting child list. It took a few days for us to receive the information, then another week+ to get the referral acceptance paperwork turned in…but we have gladly accepted! While we were waiting to get the paperwork turned in to make his referral officially ours, we decided not to make any large public announcements. Keeping the secret that we have a little boy waiting for us in Ethiopia – I cannot tell you how hard that secret was to keep!

So now, he is officially our referral. Meaning that the process for us to adopt him is beginning. He is not our child yet – not legally or by any official means. That will happen on our first trip to Ethiopia when we go to court. Assuming all goes well (it usually does!) he will be our son. Until then, for safety reasons, we are not allowed to post any photos of him, but if you see us in person, we have photos of him that we would be more than happy to show you!  And we are being very cautious about what other information we divulge about him as well. Some of that will come in time, and some of that information may never be public.
 
 
But here is what we can tell you, for now:

*He is a little over one year old.

* We are not giving out his name publically until he is ours or home with us, so for now we are just going to refer to him as “B” on here. J

*He is the most adorable baby. He has the cutest little cheeks, beautiful big brown eyes, a smile that will melt your heart, and eyelashes that go on for days…

*He was on the waiting list because he has some special needs that we are not fully divulging at this time. Mostly for his privacy until we can better determine what’s appropriate and necessary to share with others.  While B’s special needs will mean more effort on our part for getting him to some therapies, they really don’t affect anyone else right now as far as we can see. We want you to first see him as the beautiful child that we see – not with any labels. We will share with each person as we feel the need or desire to share. For now, though, it’s really one of the least important things for others to know about him!

 

As For Us…
*We are SOOO excited. A little nervous. Unsure of what to expect with first time parenting… But mostly just so very EXCITED. Please, be patient with me (Noelle) over the next little bit. My brain is on overdrive. My emotions are on overdrive. And I am altogether losing my mind and forgetting half of the things I need to do. I am trying to prepare not only for all the normal things that come with first time parenting, but also with preparing for two upcoming trips around the world, adoption-related things, and special-needs related things. I have so much to research, plan, and get together before we bring little B home. And the excitement of a referral only makes it that much harder to focus…

*We are estimating about 4 months until our first trip, give or take. For now, while we wait to travel, there are people in Ethiopia who will be working on their end of things to prepare for us to get there. We really don’t know a whole lot more than that, but we’ll update when we have something to share!

*We still need to raise some extra money for travel expenses! We have saved and raised a TON this past year and half, but we have just a little more to go! We will be posting very shortly about some cool fundraisers we have coming up to help us bring our little boy home! Keep a lookout for those in the near future!



Again, THANK YOU, to everyone who has helped us out since we started this process! So many of you have offered kind words, thrown us fundraisers, participated in our fundraisers, prayed for us, asked how it was going, etc. Each one of you are so appreciated, and now that we can see B’s face and know his name – it is all that much more real. This has all been for him! And we could not be more grateful.

And most of all, we just feel so very privileged to be on this journey. We serve an amazing, relentless, awesome God, who has never abandoned us in this whole thing, and we know that He is not finished yet. We are so thankful He has brought little B into our life!

-Colin & Noelle

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Garage Sale #2: Update.


I just wanted to thank everyone who helped out with our garage sale this year! Thank you to all the families who donated items and to Leatha for helping out once again! And to everyone who wished us well and prayed for our sale! Seriously, we could not do any of this without you guys! (And to the anonymous person who left us that HUGE donation in our donation jar, we wish we could thank you in person! That was so generous of you! THANK YOU!)
So the total earned through all sales and donations?  $423.35!

That is awesome news! That will almost entirely cover the cost of our home study update we have coming up next week. What a blessing! :)
 
Seeking Opportunity.
And while we are so thankful for the money we raised, I want to share with you something beyond the financial aspect… When Colin and I woke up Saturday morning, we prayed together. We prayed for the yard sale to go well (financially) of course, but there was one word on my mind: opportunity. So I prayed for opportunity. That was sort of my “word of the day”. I prayed that despite how much we made, that God would help us focus more on the unseen than the seen; that we would see each opportunity to share with others about adoption and see beyond the surface level of what was going on in our driveway. Obviously we were there to sell stuff and make money for our adoption. But so often in life, the things we set out to do are about so much more than whatever it is we think we’re there to do.

Unlike last year, we received no rude comments – which were something I had told myself to anticipate. Also, unlike last year, it seemed as if half the people we encountered said, “Oh, adoption? I’m adopted!” or “I adopted my child!” or “My wife is adopted” or “I’ve thought about adoption!” So many friendly stories being exchanged. So much encouragement and support. And while I was alert and anticipating the potential to talk with others about adoption, I found that most of those conversations were truly encouraging to me! The chance to raise funds AND be blessed by awesome conversations about adoption?! I call that a double-win!

What’s Next?
Since we still have so much, we plan to sell a few of our bigger, leftover items online to raise a little more. With the kids’ clothes, we plan to donate them to an event being held by our church called “Free Market” for families in our area who are in need. It’s a worthy cause, and it’s great to be able to pass-on a blessing to someone else that can benefit from these donations!

Thank you again so much to everyone who has helped us out! Honestly, we are humbled by your willingness to help and bring our child home! We appreciate each and every one of you!!

-Noelle

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

One Year Waiting - With Hope.


Yesterday was our one-year mark on the waiting list.
When we originally signed up with our agency last spring, I believe there were about 30-40 people on the waiting list. (There are now over 120!) The timeline, from the point of getting on the waitlist until receiving a referral, was about 6-9 months. We were told at that point, nobody had really been waiting longer than 7 months.

We knew things could often change in this process but we thought, “Cool, we’ll hurry through this paperwork and home study, and hopefully have a referral by next spring.”
Funny, right?
Well, by the time we actually finished our home study (much later than expected), compiled our dossier, and officially made it on the list on September 17th, 2012, we were being told the waiting time was estimated to be closer to 9-12 months for a referral. We tried to balance being optimistic with being realistic.  So here we are at one year with no referral. We have moved from #85 when we arrived on the list, to #29 now.
My point in all of this is that you simply never know with adoption. You cannot predict it. There is no “due date” (with international, anyway!). There’s just a lot of waiting.
And a lot of changes along the way.  Followed by more waiting.
But as we wait, I have learned so many lessons. Experienced so many new things. Had my patience tested and my faith strengthened. And I wouldn’t trade-in this “wait” for anything.
Not yet, anyway. Not until it’s the right time.
Don’t hear me wrong – I am SO excited for the days to come when we’ll get our referral, meet our child for the first time, and get to bring them home. I am “nesting” and anxious and ready. (Oh, yes. And nervous for first-time parenting and all that comes with it!)
But I think the waiting has been good for my soul. It has taught me some of the most irreplaceable lessons. Things I’ve needed to learn and experience in order to grow into the woman that I’ll need to be to parent our future child. I know growth is a lifelong endeavor, but this has been a wonderful season of preparation. I can look back and clearly see what God has been trying to teach me and how He’s been trying to stretch me. I have had several of my deepest moments with Him in the past year. I’ve learned some big lessons. I’ve witnessed some miraculous answers to prayer. And my heart has even been changed in some ways. Waiting hasn’t always been “fun” or “ideal” or even pain-free, but so far each season has brought me tremendous blessings because of the wait. In that sense, it’s been an amazing year.
The Bible speaks repeatedly about God’s people being “refined by fire” similar to what happens with silver and gold. In the refining process the gold is melted and the impurities that are left over are stripped away. That’s when you’re left with pure gold. That’s where the true value lies.
So if the end result is “gold”, then by all means, let’s go through the fire to remove the excess and get down to the valuable stuff. If something is worth having, it’s worth all the waiting, aching, and suffering that comes with the territory.
Notice, I didn’t call it enjoyable. But I do believe that some joy can still be found.
That’s why I wouldn’t trade the past year of waiting for anything, despite how excited I am to move forward.

^^^^^^^^^^
 
Now, this post would not be entirely truthful or well-rounded if I left out the hard stuff…
There have been days that I just felt like this wait would not end. Days when I’ve cried. Days when I’ve seen other mothers, struggled with jealousy, and had to check my heart. Days when I’ve felt alone, despite the support of my amazing husband and all of the other adoptive families we know who are waiting right alongside us.
I have spent time lying in an empty nursery, staring at the few baby items we have, imagining the future. I have often found myself browsing through baby clothes I cannot buy because we don’t know a gender or size – and left frustrated because of the lack of gender neutral outfits past the 3-months size. I have spent time following the news to learn more about the current happenings in Ethiopia, and prayed fervently against the possibility of an impending drought and famine. (I have never prayed so passionately for rain in all my life.)
I have struggled with images of where my child might possibly be at any given moment. If they’re okay; if their parents are still alive. Why are they coming to us? Are they starving right now? Are they crying? Is anyone holding them? When can I get to them? 

^^^^^^^^^^
 
But again, it wouldn’t be completely honest if I ended this here, leaving you with the impression that the above arguments run through my head every day.
Each day is different. But most days – truly the majority of them – are good days. Not perfect. Not always “according to plan” or how I’d like them to go. But they’re good days. Overall, we’re okay. Overall, we’re excited. Overall, we remain joyful.
But do you know what I feel most often? Something I didn’t necessarily expect to feel during the waiting stage…
Blessed and amazed – and unsure of why God would possibly give us such a blessing. I feel privileged to be going through this process, through all the ups and downs. I feel undeserving of this kind of blessing, and humbled that He would call us to this. Humbled that He would see us, know us, and use us.
And in the days when I’m tired of waiting because I feel so ready for our baby to be home, I am reminded that the waiting is part of the blessing.
 

 “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  – Romans 5:3-4
 

And this “hope” that is developed through trials and perseverance is not the same “hope” as you or I might consider it today. It is not “I hope the weather’s nice on our vacation!” The original word that is used (
ἐλπίς) is more closely related to the words “expectation”, “assurance”, and “trust”. It is not a flimsy word. It is not a “maybe”. It’s a confident trust. An expectation of that which we are certain of.

It is also used just prior, in chapter 4 of Romans where it is written about Abraham,
“Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations,
just as it had been said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’
Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead – since he was about a hundred years old – and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why ‘it was credited to him as righteousness.’ The words ‘it was credited to him’ were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness – for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”
–Romans 4:18-25

 
Because of Abraham’s hope – because of his confident trust in God’s ability to do what He promised – Abraham did not waver. He did not relent to the pressure of believing his circumstances over his God. He was called by God for a purpose. He was not perfect along the way. He got impatient. But he never gave up. He never lost hope. He remained persuaded in the goodness of God, as well as God’s faithfulness to His word.
So we will wait. Not perfectly. Not always patiently. But we will wait, in confident trust, that God can and will bring His plan to fruition. We will refuse to “waver in unbelief”. We will be “strengthened in faith”. And we will give God all the glory while we continue to wait.
 
Of this I am fully convinced:
The waiting is part of the blessing.

 
-Noelle

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Garage Sale #2!

I wanted to let everyone know about our next fundraiser… another Garage Sale! We held one last year and raised over $600! You can read about that here. That was in large part due to awesome friends of ours who donated to make it a HUGE sale! Thank you, again!

This year, there will be an AWESOME twist. You see, we have new neighbors who moved in a few months back and it turns out that they happen to be in the process of adopting their first child as well! Talk about a blessing for us and our babies! As a result, we’ve decided to team up this year. Two lots, side-by-side, fundraising for two separate adoptions. We’re hoping that will draw in some crowds! : )

Here’s the deal:
WHERE: Our House (& our neighbors will be at theirs!)
                Message me for the address!
WHEN: SAT. September 28th, 2013 @ 8 a.m.
WHY: To help us fundraise to bring baby Graham home from Ethiopia!

 And here’s where we could use some help:
-Donations. These make all the difference! If you have anything you’d like to get rid of… there isn’t much we won’t take! Seriously. Clothes, electronics, baby/kid items, kitchenware, furniture, knick-knacks, etc. And we are happy to come pick it up from you! (We will take donations until the day of the sale, but it helps us out a lot if we can get as much as possible within a few days before to get everything prepped and ready to set out!)
-Help During the Sale. Last year we had one other person helping us, and I cannot imagine having done it without her. (Thank you Leatha!) With 3 of us, there were moments it felt like we were barely getting by. Leatha has graciously agreed to help us out again. Depending on how many donations we get and how big the sale is this year, we may need a few more people the day of the sale to help run things. We will provide coffee and breakfast as a nice little bribe!

-Shop / Spread the Word. It’s as easy as that! I will try to post again shortly before the sale to let you know what we’ll be selling in case there’s anything that catches your attention! (Hint: We already have some cute boys’ clothes and some pretty cool toys among other things!)


Thank you again to everyone who helped last year, and who have agreed to help this year! We appreciate each and every one of you!

Noelle
 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

When Things Start Getting Real.

As I type this, I find myself at 2:15 in the morning, on a wacky sleep schedule, drinking coffee out of my favorite cup. Enjoying the quiet; relishing our newest update... and giddy at the thought of the numerous paint samples sprawled all over the kitchen table before me.

Between it all, it’s starting to feel real.

Over the course of the last year, I have felt pretty content with our waiting. There have most definitely been hard days, but I honestly feel as if the majority of them have been far more peaceful than I ever imagined at the start. Only in the past two months have I moved from a general excitement to a “wow this is really happening soon” excitement. The “nesting” excitement. The “I’m ready to leave for Ethiopia” excitement. The “I’m ready for my child to be home already” excitement. Okay, so some of that isn't new. ;)

When we started in July at #46, and moved 15 miraculous spots by August 1st, I think that’s when it felt like it was really getting close. Then, when I expected for us to move NO spots in August, we found out today that we were wrong -- again.

Last night I headed to bed tempted to feel defeated after not having heard of any referrals this past month -- and how much more discouraging right after a month of 18. But I refused to worry or let it get to me. I just prayed that by some miracle, we would get our update today and find out we had dropped into the 20’s this month. Now, starting at 31, that doesn’t seem like a very big expectation to move 2+ spots. But when you think there have been zero referrals,  it’s a little hard to see coming together.

There was 1 referral.
But how many spots did we move?


TWO.
We are currently #29.

We emailed our program director to ensure this was not a typo. Although I don’t know all the details, there were some extenuating circumstances on another family’s behalf (that I have never witnessed before) that moved us up two spots, ahead of the person that had been ahead of us. No other families on the list (to my knowledge) were moved two spots. But here we are. In the TWENTIES. Where we have seen families get referrals on occasion. Which only makes that whole "it's getting more real" thing that much more intense. Because although it probably won't be this month that we get a referral, it is becoming more and more of a true possibility.
I have no idea why things were so quirky this month, or why God answered that prayer. But Praise Him that He did!


“But as for me, I will always have hope;
I will praise you more and more.
My mouth will tell of your righteousness,
of your salvation all day long,
though I know not its measure.”
-Psalm 71: 14-15

 
SO WHAT'S NEXT?
We have been told that September *could* be a slow referral month and not to be surprised if there are little to none. With the courts being closed from August until October, referrals do not stop, but often slow down. Once the courts reopen in another month or so, referrals should pick back up. Colin and I recognize that anything is possible and we could get a referral tomorrow or 6 months from now. But our hope is to have one by the holidays, as I have been specifically praying for a referral by Thanksgiving. And we recognize that may or may not happen. As awesome as it has been to see God answer so many of our prayers throughout this process, He is not a “genie”. In His sovereignty we trust He will bring our child to us in His always perfect timing. But it doesn’t hurt to pray. Pray and with us, will you?

 

 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

August Update.

Thank you all for being so patient with me over the past few months as I have neglected blogging. I’ve recently had multiple friends and family members approach me wanting updates after such a long period of quietness and I thought to myself, “Wait, I’m not talking enough about our adoption? That's a first. Well, I guess I better get on that!” So here is where we’ve been since our last blog post in May…

As we finished up our nearly three month adventure in temporary parenting in June, we seemed to launch into a season of busyness that has only recently subsided. Of course, just when all else is calming down, we find ourselves at that time of the year where we need to update our home study. Ah, well. C’est la vie!

So while we're off chasing paper this month, and may not be back for any updates any time soon, I want to catch everyone up on a few things.

1. Our Updated Number.

We received our update on August 1st. While we get updates every month around the first, this was an especially AWESOME month. You see, the most we have ever moved, on a GREAT month, was 8 spots. But for most of this year, we had been moving only a few spots at a time. It was getting a little discouraging. But in the month of July, there were 8 referrals just over the 4th of July weekend. After hearing this, I found myself feeling surprised, followed by feeling slightly guilty at the fact that I was surprised. I believe in a God who created the entire universe, but I’m shocked in the fact that there were 8 referrals? Really? I was convicted that I hadn’t been praying bold-enough prayers. So Colin and I decided to pray for God to double those 8, and bring at least 16 referrals (whether or not they affected our placement on the list). That seemed crazy. Nobody in our adoption group had ever seen anyone move more than 8 or so spots (and some of them have been on this list a while). Not to mention the months where some families move no spots. As the month went on, there were a few more referrals. But we weren’t positive we had reached 16. So we kept praying. Then August 1st arrived and we learned that we had moved 15 spots. We went from #46 to #31. Total referrals? We were told that 18 families received referrals, consisting of 19 children total. What an answer to prayer!

"Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen." - Ephesians 3:20-21


2. Updates On The Young Girl Living With Us.

We recently had the chance to visit with the young girl we had been watching in our home. She seems to be doing very well, and I can’t tell you how happy it made me to see her. That girl will forever hold a very special place in my heart, and I feel so thankful for the opportunity we had to pour into her life for a small window of time, as well as to see her doing so great in her new home! I promise you that while that was probably one of the most challenging seasons of my life, it was also one of the most rewarding. I am so THANKFUL for that experience. Seeing her reminded me again of how blessed I have been to have had the privilege of walking through her struggles with her, despite how taxing and brutal they were on us some days. Every moment of every day we spent with her was worth it in the end. Because she is worth it. And because as much as I had planned to invest in her, God used her to teach me quite a few things. Is it not completely remarkable that when we intend to bless others, we often find ourselves on the receiving end of a blessing?



 3. We Have A New Fundraiser This Month!

A friend of ours, Wendy, sells Scentsy and has offered to donate her commission from sales to our adoption! If you have never bought Scentsy, I vouch for it – enthusiastically. We purchased two warmers a while back and I received a mini one as a gift, and we love using them! They have a variety of great scents, and if it wasn’t for us needing to save for an adoption, I would probably end up spending way too much on Scentsy products. ;) Also, if you are not in a place to buy Scentsy this month, please remember Wendy in any future purchases as a way to say thank you for the kindness and support she has shown us!

If you would like to order, please go to this link:
https://wendyfontenot.scentsy.us/Scentsy/Home

*Find where it says “My Open Parties” and select our party where it says, “Buy from Party”. This will ensure the sales go towards our adoption! Thank you!




Thank you for making it through this entire thing. And thank you for those of you who have been asking us about our adoption and anticipating our updates with us! We are excited to be getting closer to a referral and feel so blessed that so many of you are eager for that day as well. That support means so very much to us! :)

Noelle


Friday, May 10, 2013

A Different Kind of Mother's Day.


Many of you have undoubtedly been preparing for Mother’s Day this past week. Personally, I’ve spent this week doing two things. First, thinking about my own mom, mother-in-law, grandmothers, aunts, and “mother” type women who have poured into my life. Missing them from afar, but cherishing them often. Second, I’ve spent it being exhausted. Playing the role of “temporary mom” to a 14 year old girl has been one of the most challenging (and rewarding) experiences of my life. Granted, it’s not the normal “family” situation, and some aspects of this pseudo-motherhood are different – but it has given me an even deeper insight into what it means to be a mom. It’s hard work. And mothers deserve a day to celebrate their efforts!

But in the midst of the celebrations and emotions that Mother’s Day brings, I’d like us to remember the mothers that may not be the ones sending their kids off to school, tucking them in at night, wiping their runny noses, or nurturing broken hearts -- but are still so equally mothers. Women who have carried and delivered these babies; women who have, often times, sacrificially made the toughest choice they will ever face. To place your child, along with your trust, into the hands of another set of parents because you want the absolute best for your child… can you even imagine that feeling? It blows me away that someone could have that kind of strength and courage.

That’s why I want to share about a special day that honors these women. The Saturday before Mother’s Day is recognized as “Birth Mother’s Day”. Not that Birth Mommas don’t have just as much claim to Sunday’s Mother’s Day, but because it allows an extra day for them to feel recognized, and for adoptive families to honor this woman together. For the Birth Mother who may be suffering from depression or feeling alone and misunderstood, it allows them a chance to feel supported, appreciated, and treasured. Because after all, isn’t a mother characterized as someone who would give up anything in order for her child to thrive? So whether by choice, or by unfortunate circumstances, a Birth Mother has still given life to this precious being, and her sacrifice (sometimes including her own life) should be remembered and honored.
Birth Mother’s Day also allows the child to feel as if their (adoptive) family values where they come from, and opens communication between parents and children. In “open” adoptions, it may provide another good excuse to visit together! In “closed” adoptions, it may provide a special chance to talk with children about their feelings, giving them any “permission” they might be seeking to honor this relationship and ask tough questions. In situations where the Birth Mother is unknown, or where she may have passed away, it can still allow for a time of discussion, prayer, and comfort.

I think of our child’s Birth Mother sometimes. I wonder where she is and what she’s doing. Is her body nourishing our future little one? Is she holding them right now? Is she singing them lullabies to sleep? Is she grieving because she feels unable to provide? Is she no longer living? I’m not sure what her circumstances are, but I pray for her.
I invite you to pray for her as well, and for other women like her. Women who have been in that position, women who are there, and women who are one day going to be there. If you personally know a Birth Mother, encourage her, pray for her, and make an effort to understand that Mother’s Day weekend may be a time of inner reflection, accompanied by a wide range of emotions. Be there for her as needed.

To the Birth Mom’s who may read this: We are grateful for you. We love you. And we are praying for you. Thank you.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The "Thirty-One" fundraiser is back... with a twist!


Some of you may remember the Thirty-One fundraiser our friend Heather threw us last year. Some of you ordered products (thank you, again!). If you loved your Thirty-One products or missed out... not to fret. Because Heather is awesome. And she has yet again contacted us, asking if she could throw us another fundraiser, with proceeds benefitting our adoption! This Thirty-One party will be Friday, April 19th, at 6:30 pm at our house (email me for the address).

But wait! We're switching it up a bit this year. :)

In addition to coming over to our house and ordering fabulous Thirty-One products, we will also be throwing a "Bunco" party! I have never played Bunco, but Heather is the pro and she has done this many times before. She promises it will be easy and fun! You can learn more about Bunco here. For the Bunco-end of our party, we are asking that everyone wishing to take part brings $10 to play, and there will be Thirty-One products being given as prizes... so you could walk away with some fun stuff!

Of course, if you can't make it to the party, you can still order online, here. Or you can stop by the party to hang out and browse the products anyway, even if you can only stay a few minutes. But please, come play with us if you can, because it should be a great time!

We hope you can make it! And bring a friend for the Bunco! :)

-Noelle


Click here to browse more products or place your online order!



Friday, March 29, 2013

Unexpected Changes.

 It's been nearly two months since our last post. Here's why...


First.  It has been a busy couple of months. I was sick for nearly 2 weeks. Then, as I was starting to feel better, we found out that Colin would be leaving a few weeks later for a month+ of training, out of state. So we spent some time preparing for that. Then last minute, he was diagnosed with a (relatively minor) health issue, which meant he couldn't leave for training. Two days prior to his departure date. I was also busy helping with planning a fundraiser our agency. We had thing after thing. Did I mention that this was also the time I thought it would be a good idea to take a 6 week hiatus from coffee?!  ;)

Second. I have a lot that I would like to say. But I know it doesn't need to come out all at once, and it shouldn't come out before it's ready. I really needed a season to reflect. (If you knew me growing up, or talk with me in person on a regular basis, you might find yourself shocked at this statement!)

Third. Our household has undergone some big changes. Although we've known about this for 3 weeks, I haven't felt ready to write about it. I didn't really know how or what to say. So here goes...

For the past two weeks, we have temporarily taken in a young pre-teen girl who is in transition. She was adopted internationally a few years ago, and due to a variety of reasons, her parents, therapist, social workers, and adoption agency staff have all decided that she needs a new home that can better suit her needs. While her new family is preparing their home study to adopt her, she needs a place to stay for a few weeks or so. For privacy issues, I won't give any more details for now. But having her stay with us is a big change and has completely altered our family dynamics. I can't not mention it. It's a hard update to ignore. Everything is different. And I can't begin to explain how much I've learned about myself in this process. I'm experiencing first-hand the things we were told to expect in our home study education. It's crazy. It's unreal. And most days, I am thoroughly exhausted -- but for good reason. This has been an amazing experience. We feel so blessed to be able to meet her needs for the time being.

Let me say one final thing on this subject. I understand that adoption disruption is a hot topic. It is easy to find yourself judging why a family would adopt, then disrupt the adoption and place the child elsewhere. But we have had the privilege of getting to know this young girl's family, some family friends, and some of the social workers they have been working with. Please, do not pass judgment if you have never been in this situation. It is not a decision they came to lightly, or because they don't care for her deeply. Parents in this situation often carry so much guilt and shame, as you can probably imagine. It is not up to you to decide if this is the "right" choice. I just ask that if you see us and this young girl, that you reach out to her in love. Don't pry. Don't stare. Just love her. And pray for her parents, as their hearts are hurting for a daughter they so desperately love -- to the point of finding her a home that will help her thrive and grow as needed. I understand this situation is unheard of to most of you. I understand it is hard to grasp. I am not saying this is "no big deal". I'm simply asking that you  allow your questions and concerns to compel you towards showing grace and compassion -- not judgment and condemnation.

Thank you for your patience with us these past two months. I never saw us here. In fact, I had mapped out how I wanted to spend this month to keep busy while Colin was supposed to be away. Most of that went out the window. Real quick. But I'm learning things so imperative to my growth -- things that I couldn't have learned from "organizing my recipes" and "getting in shape" and "stocking up on freezer meals". But God knows what I need before I do. My plans are not always His. For that, I am eternally grateful.

  
"Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
    but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails."
-Proverbs 19:21
 
 
 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Adoption: Where Mourning & Rejoicing Go Hand-in-Hand.

This month, Colin and I have reached our 4 month mark on the waiting list. We’re presumably within days of an updated number. And we had managed to get through the waiting with no major emotional breakdowns thus far. All good things, right?

Well, yesterday morning I sat down with my coffee and pulled out a notebook to do some prayer journaling. I like to do this from time to time so that I can look back on how those prayers have been answered, or perhaps pray through them again. My intent was to pray for our child, in whatever stage of development they might be in. Then as I put my pen to paper my heart just spilled open in a completely different direction.  Things came out that I hadn’t really verbalized to myself – things I didn’t fully recognize were in there.

You see… Adoption is hard.
And I don’t mean the paperwork. Or the fundraising. Or even the waiting. Or any of “the process”.

Adoption, itself.
Because as beautiful as it is, adoption always stems from loss.


With this awareness, I was prayerfully writing away. I was thanking God for being in control and knowing our baby completely, long before we ever meet them. And then I began writing about how helpless I feel. How out of control it all seems to me. Because deep down, I know that this process isn’t about us finding a perfect little child to fit our family. This is about us providing a family to a child that has lost everything. Before we bring them home, they will in some form or another experience the loss of their birth family. They will then come home with us to the United States where they will experience so much more loss; loss of familiar sights, smells, foods, language, and sounds; loss of their culture and heritage. These are losses that children can feel even as young as infancy and that affect them so deeply – and never completely vanish. This isn't a new concept to us, but the reality of it hit me deeper than it has before.
 
 
We don’t yet know the circumstances that will surround our child’s early life. We don’t know what kind of loss they will endure before we get to them. But one thing we do know is that the closer we get to them, the closer they are to suffering the greatest tragedy they will likely ever face. As we excitedly count down each month and look forward to moving closer to the joy of adding to our family, our child will be out there at some point, suffering. We’re eager to get closer to that moment – but it will be at the cost of another family being torn apart. How am I supposed to feel about that? Even though I know that tragedy happens and it’s not our fault, I find some guilt in rejoicing.

I think the biggest sense of guilt for me comes in knowing that so many of the conditions that lead to the need for adoption are conditions that we could alleviate in some way. I think of this family – our family in a sense – and I think, “What if they’re starving and they need food?” Then I look in my stocked pantry. “What if they die due to lack of clean water or some preventable disease?” And then I realize how accessible and affordable our water is – and how we could likely pay for many of their medical needs just off of the loose change we have lying around. And yet, no matter how heavy my heart hurts for this family, I couldn’t give them any of these things if I wanted to because I don’t know who they are. Last night, when sharing this with Colin, I broke down.  I told him that the reason I feel so helpless is because no matter what I might want to do for them – I can’t. If this was any other loved one of ours, and I knew that food or clean water or simple medicines could save their life, there isn’t one of them that I wouldn’t be able to reach out to and help in some way. If this was anyone else I loved, I could assess the problem and do something.
[I realize that if this was possible, and I could meet their needs, this would probably mean no adoption for us, but again… that’s the double-edge sword of adoption. Rejoicing and mourning. They seem to go hand-in-hand.]

 

These things have been constantly on my mind. Right, wrong, or indifferent… there you have it. I’m not sure if most adoptive-parents-to-be feel this way, but I get the idea that many of them do. It may not be a “pretty emotion” to write about, but it’s real and I think it’s worth talking about and recognizing. Not even for my own benefit, but for our child’s. I have a strong faith in God. I trust that no matter how badly it hurts, He has reasons that are far beyond anything that I could comprehend (Isaiah 55:8). I recognize that despite the fact that I know nothing of our child or their family – He knows them more fully than I could ever dare to imagine. I will be praying for them. Honestly, that’s the best thing I can offer because God’s resources for them far outweigh anything I could ever hope to give them if given the chance. So yes, I feel helpless. At times, I feel frustrated. But I don’t feel afraid; I feel peace in the midst of grieving for this family. And I’m truly okay with that. Mourning can be healthy if we take it to God and allow Him to work in our hearts in those hard moments. If anything, it provides an abundant dose of humility.

But as for our child – it won’t be so simple. Especially early on in life. Not only will they deal with trying to grow up understanding everything I’ve already written about, but they’ll be raised in this American culture where people talk about how “lucky” our child is to be here. While adoption is a beautiful blessing, we must fully recognize that it only exists because tragedy has already occurred. To pretend that it’s always some blissful event and focus only on the joys, is insensitive to the child and memory of their first family. So let’s resolve to look at adoption for what it is – not through rose colored glasses that censor out the pain and suffering. And let’s resolve to talk about it. And pray about it.


Thank you for letting me go to such an honest place,
Noelle :)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Some blessings come in Jars.


I've been trying to find the time to sit down and share something special.

On Christmas Eve, Colin and I headed to our church's Christmas Eve service. As we walked inside, we saw our friend Candace motioning to us from the information desk. She showed us a box and a card that someone had left for us. We opened the card to read, "For your adoption fund. Read the story - pay it forward. Merry Christmas!" No signature. No indication of its origin. Nothing.



A little surprised and unsure of what to think, we took the lid off of the box to find two large mason jars full of spare change, some rolled up bills, and a little piece of paper that read "Christmas Jars, a novel by Jason Wright"! I was floored. Looking back, I almost want to laugh at how awkward we probably looked standing there, unsure of what to think or what to do next.


After the shock of it all wore off, Colin brought the box to the car, and we went in to enjoy a lovely Christmas Eve service. The whole time my mind kept going back to that. "Who could it have been?" "What is this 'Christmas Jars' story all about?" "Why didn't they leave their name?" "How could I thank them if I couldn't identify them?" And then I went through just about everyone I know at church that knows we're adopting (so practically everyone!). I still don't know. And I still can't personally say thank you. But I can say it here: THANK YOU for such a precious gift, our dear Christmas-Jar-Donation-Bandits. Not just the money, but the joy that comes in knowing that others are thinking of us in this season of life. For having a heart that wants to be generous and doesn't care about getting any recognition from it (although I am still going crazy trying to figure out who you are!)



After the service, as soon as I got settled in the car for the ride home, I pulled out my phone and immediately looked up this Christmas Jars book online. I wanted to understand. Long story short, it is a fictional novel that encourages the idea of anonymously paying-it-forward by collecting your loose change over the course of the year into jars. Then on Christmas Eve, choosing a family to bless with the change. If everyone who receives this gift, turns around and does it for someone else each year, imagine how giving our world would look. You can find it here on Amazon, to purchase or learn more. We look forward to reading it and having the opportunity to pass it on! :)


Monday, January 7, 2013

Melkam Gena!

 
 

 
 
Today, January 7th, is Ethiopian Christmas! So we wanted to wish all our family and friends a very "Melkam Gena" -- or "Merry Christmas".
 
We're not doing much to celebrate this year, although we hope to mark this special day in the future with our child once they come home to us. This year, with the (American) holiday season busy as ever, a break down of our only decent computer, and hosting visiting family, we have been keeping pretty busy (hence the lack of posts over the past month) and have wrapped up the holidays in our household. [I still have phone calls to return to some of you -- I promise I'm working on it!]
 
But despite our hectic schedules lately, I wanted to take a quick minute to share a little bit about Christmas in Ethiopia.
 
 
*Ethiopian Christmas happens every year on January 7th. (Ethiopia is on an entirely different, 13-month calendar system, by the way!)

*Many Ethiopians fast the day before, leading up to Christmas. Fasting is very common in Ethiopia. I have no facts off the top of my head, but in the name of crummy reporting, I will say that I have heard that Ethiopians fast more days out of the year than the days they do not.
*Christmas Eve / early morning Christmas Day services are a big part of the holiday. Many will attend all-night services or awake very early to make it to service.
 
*Christmas is actually not the "biggest" holiday in Ethiopia. Timkat (coming January 19th) is known as the Feast of Epiphany (celebrating Christ's Baptism) is one of the largest holidays in Ethiopian culture. I've also heard that Easter (April or May) is a bigger deal than Christmas. Ethiopian New Year (September 11th) and Meskal ("Feast of the True Cross" -- September 27/28th)  are also notable holidays. Christmas is not what it is here in America.
 
*Exchanging gifts is not customary.
 
*Ethiopians will dress in white, traditional clothing on this day.
 
 
 
So wherever you find yourself today, whether you are celebrating Ethiopian Christmas, or simply going about your day, we hope you're having a great one, and that your holiday season has been full of many blessings!