Monday, February 6, 2017

Get out of your little white box!

February is African American History month. While I don't have a lot to teach about the history that others haven't already, I have a voice for the present. Lately, I have been so broken at the amount of racism that gets brushed off or lies undetected in the hearts of people all around me. Just because you don't hate people of another race does not clear you from racism. I'm going to get really vulnerable and share my own journey in hopes that maybe it will convict the heart of at least one.
I remember being told things about African American people as a kid. I believe these things were said to me out of fear and lack of knowledge. Not hate. But it rises up to be the same ugly beast inside. I specifically remember when I was 19 or 20. I was driving through downtown Elkhart. I stopped at a light and I saw a black man walking down the sidewalk. Out of instinct, I locked my doors. At that moment I felt the Lord hit me in the heart. "Erin, would you have done that if the man was white?" My answer? "No." Why? Why was it my instinct to lock my doors at the sight of a black man? The conviction and grief that grabbed my heart were unreal. I never thought of myself as a racist person! Heck, I had an African American friend! But the truth was, there was still an arrogance in my heart, a judgment and a fear that was not from God. It was placed there by man. I had a prejudice in my heart. From that moment on I feel like God started to work in my heart as a white woman. To chose to always see others as the way the Lord does. 
To research as to why others have had a less privileged life than I have. To learn how other cultures and other people live. The more you learn about other cultures, races etc the more you learn that you have nothing to be afraid of. The more you learn the more enriched your life is. You learn to celebrate the differences and find joy and hope in those differences.
I recently had jury duty. (Omiword I was a hot mess. I can't even watch law and order.....can you imagine me in a real-life law and order?! Um no!) During the selection process, the defendant's attorney asked my group if anyone automatically assumed the defendant had committed a crime because of his appearance. He was African American. A man in my group raised his hand. While I give him credit for his honesty, it broke my heart. A lot of us have been taught that very stereotype. This is a learned behavior! This is not natural or how God created us to see each other. It is time to see the truth behind our thoughts of others. It is time to take responsibility and change our hearts. To be the change for the history for our children and our children's children.
The other thing that really gets me in the gut is when people say things like "Slavery was in the past. It isn't happening now, let it go." REEEAAALLLLYYY???? We remember the tragedy of 9/11 and say "never forget". But when it is slavery, death, and oppression. An attack on America, by America, we want to say forget it? How does that work? Does it clear the conscience? And guess what, slavery was eons ago yes, but the stigma and lies still remain in hearts today. To see another human as less than because of their race is where the problem began and to say it is over is ignorant. I have many African American friends who have stories upon stories of malicious and hurtful treatment due to the color of their skin. This isn't an issue from our history. It is an issue of our present and it has to change.
I really want to challenge your heart and mind today. When you see someone of a different race do you grab your purse tighter? Do you automatically assume the worst? Make choices that put you in situations where you are the minority. Get out of your little white box! Go out of your way to meet people who are different from you. If you live in an area where you don't think you have the opportunity to meet people of other races then get out of it once in a while. Make the opportunity. Use your voice to make a difference. I want to clarify that while I am speaking of African Americans today this is all encompassing for all people different from you. Get out of your box and meet a Syrian, Iranian, Mexican, Nigerian, Ethiopian, Indian....allow yourself into their culture and don't expect them to only be a part of yours. Learn their hearts and you will be blessed in a way you've never known. I promise you. You won't regret learning to grow in love and letting go of your fears. 
I want things to be different for my babies and everyone else's too. Don't you?

Watch these three videos and allow yourself to hear. They are fairly short but full of truths. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Louder than I'll sing your praise

God has taught me a lot about praising, healing and hope the past week and a half. You see, we have choices to make. When we have been wounded, hurt and broken we have choices to make.  Scripture warns us about unforgiveness and gives us a tangible picture of what it can do in our hearts. We can choose to torture ourselves by sitting in unforgiveness!
Matthew 18:23-35 “Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt. “But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all. Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt. “But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment. “His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full. “When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you? Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt. “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”

And I truly think healing has been coming for us (Not to say it doesn't still hurt...) because we have chosen the way of love and forgiveness. Hear me now....I am not perfect and this has not been easy for me, but I have still chosen it. I have to! I have had moments where anger, fear or doubt have overcome me. But, in each of those moments, God has been faithful to gently nudge my heart. "Let it go Erin. Forgive Erin. Don't allow bitterness to take root...." You see, God has forgiven me my debt. He has forgiven my sin, my wrong doing, and my bad judgments. I've hurt people. But, God still chose the way of love and forgiveness over me. He sets the example and it isn't just for the good of the offender, but even more so it is for the good and HEALING of the wounded. I tell my kids all of the time. "I don't ask you to obey me just to get my way! I ask you to obey me so you don't get hurt and so you don't hurt someone else. The same is true with the Lord. He asks us to be obedient in our daily choices not just for himself, but for the good of the whole!

This song has been one of my favorites since this summer. However the past week and a half, it has been my anthem.


Take this fainted heart
Take these tainted hands
Wash me in Your love
Come like grace again

Even when my strength is lost
I'll praise You
Even when I have no song
I'll praise You
Even when it's hard to find the words
Louder then I'll sing Your praise

I will only sing Your praise
I will only sing Your praise
I will only sing Your praise

Take this mountain weight
Take these ocean tears
Hold me through the trial
Come like hope again

Even when the fight seems lost
I'll praise You
Even when it hurts like hell
I'll praise You
Even when it makes no sense to sing
Louder then I'll sing Your praise

I will only sing Your praise
I will only sing Your praise
I will only sing Your praise

And my heart burns only for You
You are all You are all I want
And my soul waits only for You
And I will sing till the morning has come

Lord my heart burns only for You
You are all You are all I want
And my soul waits only for You
And I will sing till the miracle comes

I will only sing Your praise
I will only sing Your praise
I will only sing Your praise

Even when the morning comes
I'll praise You
Even when the fight is won
I'll praise You
Even when my time on earth is done
Louder then I'll sing your praise

I will only sing Your praise

I have found that praising a faithful God in a situation that seems beyond redemption saves me. That believing in His goodness saves me. You see, John 16:33 says that we are going to have trouble in this world. He never promises us an easy walk. Never. What he does say is "take heart....Be confident, Be courageous....." We can be confident and courageous because we know who He is. We know He is God, He wins in the end. Even though life feels impossible right now, he doesn't ask us to hold back. He doesn't ask us to protect ourselves and refrain from love. He asks us to be courageous and put our love out there!

Something else that I have found through choosing to take heart  and choosing to forgive is another level of love. I'm telling you guys it's unreal. I've always loved Malachi's parents. From the moment I met them. But the deep love for this young couple has grown. I am so on their team. I feel like Andy and I have become their biggest fans. I have even learned to be happy for them and their new little family in the middle of my grief of losing a little guy that I thought was going to be my son. I feel a little bit like a protective big sister. Mama and I have been in some communication. I've been able to send Malachi all of his clothes. I've been able to have some light hearted conversation with his mama. I've been able to cheer her on in motherhood. I've been able to, because God has done the same for me! I feel like God has allowed me to see that even though I didn't get what I want, and what I thought was best, I am only human. I can't see the big picture. I can't chose how God uses me. I can't control everything. (Even though I'd like to!) Nope. All I can control is what I chose to do. I find strength in choosing love and compassion. I am finding step after step of healing through not protecting myself and giving love no holds barred. I am finding hope for a BIG redemption story in letting go of control. I am finding joy in letting go.....

Even when it hurts like hell, I'll praise you. Even when it makes no sense to sing, louder than I'll sing your praise.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

When I don't understand

The reality is.....not all adoption is easy. Some people fill out their papers and boom, they have a baby. Some people meet their child in another country and wait years to bring them home.  Some people are chosen by birth mom's and don't actually get a child until they have met their 3rd birth mom. The reality is....adoption isn't always easy.
This is a truth and pain we are feeling in the depths of our core. A pain we are walking through on a minute by minute basis. September 27th we got the call we have been waiting over 5 years for. A birth mom chose us to parent her child. Less than a week later we met both birth parents. We loved them immediately. The birth father had this sweet, quiet, tenderness about him and the birth mom was mature for her age. She took the decision very seriously and she had a great sense of humor. I loved them. We found out we had only weeks until our soon to be son was going to be born. I began texting with our birth mom fairly often. The communication was good for me. I knew she was serious about her decision and she wanted to keep me included. I really enjoyed getting to know her.
At 1:40 am on Oct. 25 we got the call that she was in labor. We dropped the kids off at a friends house and rushed down to Indianapolis. I was a hot mess of emotion. Our wait was almost over and the whole situation was exactly as I had hoped. An open adoption with birth parents we connected with. Everything lined up. Right down to baby names and what we were hoping for in each other. A little after 3:00 pm Oct. 25 Malachi Theodore was born.
Out of respect for his family I am not showing pictures of his face.

I cried the moment I looked into his tiny face. I loved him fiercely with every ounce of my being. My son. We took pictures and videos and sent them to our boys at home. They couldn't wait to meet him in person.
The next day we got to keep him in a hospital room all to ourselves. The pediatricians came in and asked questions. We were making medical decisions. We snuggled him to pieces. Fed him. Changed him. Kissed his crazy cute lips. We talked to him about his brothers and how much we would love him forever. There was no holding back the love.
The next morning, the 27th, we got the call that shattered us to our core. She changed her mind. Our birth parents changed their minds.......I remember yelling "God no!" and the pain overtook me. I didn't know how to go on from there. I thought I was going to vomit. "How do I move forward? Lord, how do I tell my boys?! How do I break their hearts? " The pain I felt was unbearable. I had a son for 2 days and now he's gone. I didn't even get to say goodbye. He was just gone.
I know the itty bitty details about him. Like his sweet ears are a little darker at the top than the bottom. He needs to be snuggled tight in order to sleep. He scratches at his face if he isn't holding your finger or swaddled. He wants his pointer finger in his mouth to soothe. He has the cutest, squeakiest cry. I know that he sucks down a bottle in seconds and he's so strong he can control his head. I know him.....I miss him.
The drive home that day from Indy was quiet. I don't think the tears ever stopped rolling. We pulled into the garage with an empty car seat on the same day we were suppose to be bringing him home. A pain unfathomable. Andy and I both sobbed. We have done a lot of crying and holding each other. I am so thankful for him. I need him.
When the boys got home from school, we had to tell them. I've never heard my son wail the way he did at that moment. He cried so hard he screamed at one point. They were both devastated and I didn't know how to fix it. I couldn't take the pain away and I couldn't control anything. We just all had to feel it. My family felt it. My friends felt it. It still sucks.
Through all of the uncontrollable pain and unknowns I had to make a decision. I had to make the choice to lean into the only one I know can carry me through this. I had to lean into the Lord. We decided we needed to take a few days off and just be together as a family. The first night, Nahum and I snuck out to Walmart and bought the Pie Face game. That brought some much needed humor and laughter between the waves of pain.

The next day we went to a pumpkin farm and spent the whole day. Rides, games, food....everything. I cried on and off throughout that day, but the time together as a family helped us all. Spending time being grateful for my husband, my mom....I was thankful she was here. I am thankful for what I have and remembering that helps me. It doesn't remove the pain but it redirects my focus to a heart of thankfulness and appreciation. Creating moments where laughter comes easily helps too. Pulling ourselves out of the pit and allowing ourselves to have some fun helps.

The truth is......Even though the birth parents decision broke us and brought us unbearable pain......I get it. I totally get it. They love him. They created him. They gave birth to him. They love him. Even though they are young, I think they can do it. I saw an 18 year old boy act out of fatherly instinct after he was born. He became a man in a moment he didn't expect and I saw it with my own eyes. I saw a young woman in turmoil over a son she wanted but wasn't sure she could parent. We got to know them well enough to know that they can do it. They are strong and they love him.
I emailed our birth mom today. I felt like I needed to release her from guilt or at least for myself to get some closure. I needed her to know that we still love them and that we understand. That we are in their court and that we believe in them. I want them to have his clothes and I wanted them to have the pictures that we took of them. I think it's important that they know that we will be ok. Only by the grace, mercy and goodness of God....but we will be ok. Andy said we have to chose one of two camps. Either we stay angry and harbor unforgiveness. Or, we love them and stand in support of them. We get to chose that. We chose love.
Rather than asking the question "why" I am asking that God use this. That our pain not be wasted. My prayer is that this young couple has seen the love of Jesus through us. Through our love for them and their son. (It's so hard to call him their son even though he is.) That our actions and our words and encouragement can shine the light of Jesus. The pain they caused us is forgiven. That our forgiveness can breakdown barriers.
Not only that, but this sweet African American couple can see walls breaking down in the world of racism. That this little white family loved their dark skinned son as their own. No holds barred. That the barriers that still exist between white and black have been shattered at least in this one moment of time. That love is bigger than the skin we are born with.
I wanted that boy. I love that boy. My heart hurts more than I have ever felt before and I am so tired of crying. But, I have to hold on to hope. Hope that Malachi will have a good life and know Jesus. Hope that we will have an adoption that doesn't fall through. Hope that my boys will be big brothers someday soon. I have to chose to trust. I have to trust that God can move and work in this. That even when I don't understand and even when it hurts like hell God is still God. That he still is a good God. That he is a righteous and faithful God.
As I was getting ready yesterday the song "I Breathe You In, God" came on. I feel like it's where I'm at and what I am choosing. I have to. I need to.

The presence of the Living God Satisfies the depths of my heart And all of me I change when you came
And I'm led free by Your glory and grace And I breathe You in, God Cause You are there all around me (repeat) The kindness of Your loves pure light Pierces through the darkest of all night And everything is possible now For God is here And God is good And You are good, God For You are good to me (repeat) And when I don't understand I will choose You (repeat) And when I don't understand I will choose to love You, God And when I don't understand I will choose You (repeat) And when I don't understand I will choose to love You, God And You are good, God For You are good to me (repeat) Its my privilege To worship You To worship For You are good, God For You are good to me (repeat)

When I don't understand, I choose to love you God.
I also want to thank all of you who have been a support to us. We have felt your prayers, we're thankful for your gifts and your love. I can feel that people are praying for us. And the things that have shown up at my doorstep over the last couple of days are reminders of God's goodness.

 All of you who have gone out of your way to help us out......Thank you. For the people who are willing to keep an eye on my kids if they need a hug...thank you. For all of the texts and voxers full of love and encouragement.....thank you. For those of you who have donated financially to our adoption......thank you. We are still going to use every penny for whatever adoption finally sticks. It is still hanging out in our adoption fund until we finally get to use it....thank you.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Adoption Journey Conference

Hey guys, me again. I know my updates are few and far between, but that is usually because there is nothing to report on. I've been chewing on this update for a couple of weeks because I have been deep in processing mode and busy investigating some new avenues. 
I will try to make this extremely long story as short as possible. Otherwise I fear you would be reading for days. There is a bit more behind the scenes of the story, but for your sake, I will start here;
A while back, some friends from our church invited us to attend an adoption conference with them. We never would have known about it had they not invited us. (Thanks Matt and Dawn!....And to my mom for being here to watch the kids!) So, Feb 27 we headed to the Adoption Journey Conference at County Line Church of God. The first group session the pastor from the church spoke. GUYS.......His story was so similar to ours I could hardly believe it. Granted they ended up adopting from China and we are now domestic, but seriously, other than that crazy similar. I somewhat quietly cried through most of his message titled "Trust the timing of the one who created time". Then, he said "At the 4 year marker we asked God Why? God you called us to this and we desire this why is it taking so long?!" Insert ugly cry here. Of course there were no tissues. At least Dawn had one she so kindly passed down the row. This was the start of the tears for me. Tears that pretty much lasted all day with a few brief intermissions here and there. The conference was amazing. It felt tailored to us. Almost as if God ordained it just for Andy and I. I mean I know there were a ton of other people that gleaned from it, but the capacity at which it touched me was huge! The last speaker of the day asked if we felt like we drank information in through a fire hose. Uh yes! That was exactly right. Too much to take in!
Throughout the day we had moments to visit random booths set up in an auditorium. We met a social worker, Jan, from Gateway Woods. **ahem, if you are considering fostering CALL THEM!** Anyhow, Jan asked us about our process. Our struggles, what we are needing etc.... Even though we couldn't at this point adopt through them, she took her time to help us. She gave me her info to call her the next week and talk things over. So, I did. 
The week after the conference I called her and she mailed us a list of agencies that are willing to take a home study from another agency and will allow you into their program. From all we had looked into we couldn't find one that was willing to take our home study from our current agency or one that was willing to work along side them! This was huge news to us.
Sunday I started scrolling through the list and one specific one caught my eye. Ok, if I am being honest it made me cry. I'm not totally sure why. All I can say is it gave me hope. I've been pretty raw with emotion since the conference and it doesn't take much to get the tears flowing. So, Monday I called G.L.A.D adoption agency. Just that one. And I am so glad I did. I spoke with a woman named Julie who gave me such hope and encouragement. I cried on the phone with her too....go figure. Anyhow, GLAD is willing to work alongside SEC who we have been working with the past number of years. She emailed me some papers to fill out and told me what else I needed to send in. Wouldn't ya know I already had an extra book to mail in and everything else we needed too. So, last night Andy and I spent a couple of hours filling out the paper work and today I mailed it in. 

This means that as soon as they get our package we will be available for birth moms at their agency as well! Double the exposure..... A huge answer to prayer and a giant dose of hope! 
To most of you I know this won't mean a whole lot. But for those who have walked through the past 4 1/2 years of heart ache with us and have seen our weary hearts rub very raw it will mean a lot. It means hope. We needed hope in a huge way and God provided. Keep the prayers coming friends. We need it. Our boys need it. Our future kids need it. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Time Lines

I know I don't post often. I feel like I don't post because it gets redundant. There is never anything to share other than the fact that more time has passed. I go through moments of huge discouragement and moments of hope. I realized today that it has been 10 months since I have updated the blog so I figured I would give you all a run down of where we're at, how we are feeling and what has happened over the past 10 months.
18 months ago we decided to add domestic adoption on top of our Ethiopian adoption. In January the Ethiopian adoption fell through and we had to walk through dealing with hurt, disappointment, loss and discouragement. That was one moment where I cried out to God that I needed something tangible from Him to let me know that we were still in His will and on the right track. Last January I feel like he came through in a big way for us with that. (See post from last Jan. "More Changes Coming Our Way".) We felt God's direction and trusted His plan.
On to now.....nearly a year later. We basically have had no updates, and minimal communication with our agency. It has been very silent. Very hard and very lonely at times. The silence has been suffocating and very discouraging. I have reached out at moments hoping for some encouragement or an update only to get a generic response or silence. I even got to the point a couple of months ago where I thought about looking into another agency where there was more care and more communication. I had my email all typed up and I felt a strong "No" in my spirit. So, I shut the computer and again had a moment of "God I need you, I need something from you to remind me that we are on the right track and with the right agency for your plan to succeed." And again, I felt God come through in a big way in the form of communication from our agency in reference to a potential birth mom. It wasn't by any means a guarantee or even of high percentage that we would be chosen, but it was something. I needed something. Nothing ever came of that situation, but I remember telling God that I would be fine with nothing coming of it. That I just so appreciated the much needed hope, that bit of communication brought. Since that one smidge of communication we are back to silence. Back to waiting in the vast unknown.
Yesterday was Orphan Sunday and we had the opportunity to share a little bit of our heart for adoption with our church family. Facebook was flooded with orphan related images and updates with a call to adoption. It fueled the fire that burns inside of me for adoption. I have no idea why it is taking so long. Especially when I see the statistics every year with the number of children needing families. I just have to cling to the hope that it is God's will and God's way. I recently became friends with Olie's, classmates, mom.  She sent me the most precious text message yesterday reminding me that we are not forgotten. Then today I got a text from a friend I haven't seen in ages. She was asking about financially supporting us. .....These friends, are touches from God. Tangible reminders that there is a plan, God cares and we are not alone. If you have ever text, emailed, called or financially supported us.........if you have ever been one of those tangible touches from the Lord for me, THANK YOU! I have needed each and every one of those. God uses you to encourage my heart and bring me hope. If you know others in this same place, or fostering and God brings them to your mind. Check in! There is a reason God prompts you. You are the hands and feet of Christ speaking hope to someone. I am eternally grateful for every single person God has used to speak hope to me.
If I am being honest, I know these moments are coming more frequently for me because we are coming up on another Christmas. Christmas without a family member is really hard for some reason. The past two have been really hard on me especially. The past two Christmases, I have begged God to not make me go another Christmas feeling like our family is incomplete. This year I'm not. I have ask daily for a child, but I have stopped with my time lines. His word says " Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.....HIS kingdom come, HIS will be done. That is how I pray. Time lines and begging leave me introspective, discouraged and disappointed. Asking for His will to be done leaves me outward focused, hopeful and reliant on Him. It's where I have to stay.
Pray with me for our family to include exactly who it should. That we will be connected with a birth mom that God has chosen. That our life and choices would be a light for those considering to foster or adopt. And that God would continue to pursue us, encourage us and lead us as He has thus far. Pray for the future children my heart longs so deeply for. Pray for my boys as they navigate the waters of waiting for their sibling(s).
If/when there is anything to update, I promise I will fill you in. If we are somewhat absent from blogging it is because there is nothing to say. Thank you for your continued prayers and support. You'll never know how much it means.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Embracing The New Plan

So, with all of the changes, frustrations, disappointments etc we have been challenged with lately, it has been nice to breathe a bit of fresh air. I feel like I am getting my feet back under me. Getting more and more excited for what is to come. I went and bought paint today to paint the new kiddo's room. (It may or may not have taken the paint lady at Menards 3 attempts at getting it right. But hey, it's right and that is all that counts right? :) ) I bought a bunch of cloth diapers from my wholesalers before we sold our cloth diapering company on Saturday too. It was fun to start planning more and embrace the new plan.
From the start of the domestic process I have said that I have a huge passion for the birth mom as well as the child. Through some conversations with a friend in the past week that fire has stirred back up in me more and more. The more I think about it, talk about it and pray about it the more my heart loves this precious woman I don't even know. I really hope she can be a presence in our lives and that we can love her and show grace to her in the same way our Heavenly Father has to us. I'm just excited to see what comes next in our story. God is writing it....He has been, even when things take a sharp turn.
I also had a friend introduce me to a fun and new form of fundraising. I am super excited about this because it is tasty and I get to partake in it along side anyone else who wants to. It's coffee....seriously, coffee...can't go a day without it. (Yes, I'm addicted to coffee, I admit it.) Anyhow, there is this super cool organization called "Just Love Coffee". They sell fair trade, organic coffee, in every form possible and we get a kick back from every order that goes directly to our adoption fund. And we actually get a good percentage too! So, if you are coffee snobs like most of my friends and family, you will enjoy this. Great coffee, great price, great company! If you are curious, check it out here or you can just click on the button on the top right corner of this page. Even if you don't like coffee or want to buy, you should really browse around. It's pretty cool!
Thanks again for all of your prayers and support. We couldn't do this without you!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

More changes coming our way....

November and December have brought more changes and some really tough decisions our way. It has been a very hard 6 weeks for us.
Through various emails from our International adoption agency we started getting the idea that things were not going well for Ethiopia adoptions. Times were yet again increasing. Cost increased.  (Bare in mind that we have a highly respected and known agency. A really good one. This is not a rip off, but the reality of what is happening right now over in Ethiopia.)The agency was making multiple ways for Ethiopia families to transfer out of Ethiopia into other country a reduced rate or at no cost at all. I finally got the nerve to call and ask what was going on. Things aren't great. No one knows how long it will be until we would get a referral (We're talking probably 4-6 more years) let alone if the country will even remain open for adoptions. We were basically confronted with an ugly "Y" in the road. Continue to walk towards Ethiopia knowing full well it is highly likely we will lose money with very little chance of ever seeing a child. Or, continue down the road of the domestic adoption and in time pursue a second domestic adoption and let Ethiopia go.
Ethiopia adoption has been at the forefront of everything we have done for the past 3 1/2 years. The thought of that not happening made me sick. Broken. Sad. Andy and I took some time to really pray and seek God on it. Is this something we just need to press on and persevere through? Or, is this something He used to get us going and is now changing up the direction? Through prayer and upon the advice of our Ethiopia social worker we decided it was best to let go. We both fully have a peace about it, however nothing can really describe the grief we (especially me) are feeling over it. It took me a week before I could even start letting family know. It hurt too bad.
The loss of a beautiful Ethiopian daughter that I've never met or even set eyes on is painful. Not only does it hurt, but made me question so much. What is going on God? Why? WHY did we start down this road if it was just going to close? WHAT was the purpose? I am so glad we already have our domestic adoption process going because the 3 1/2 year wait has become nearly unbearable. Another Christmas feeling incomplete without a member of our family. 
While I was asking God my WHAT and my WHY I feel like he answered in a big way that restored my joy and breathed hope back into me. 
Let me first give you a bit of a background on our domestic agency. They are a very small agency called St. Elizabeth/Coleman in Indianapolis. I had never heard of them before our International agency sent us there for our home study. (Keep in mind that we never would have heard of them had we not started with Ethiopia first and been referred to them.) When we were looking to start the domestic process alongside our Ethiopia adoption we looked into a number of larger and more well known agencies. The cost was significantly more because we would have to start over. However if we used St. Elizabeth/Coleman we would be able to jump right in with no additional work or fee since they had already done our home study etc... So, we stuck with them.
Ok, so on to the WHAT and WHY. As I was in the middle of a broken and grieved place, I asked God these questions. WHY did you start us down this path just to allow my heart to hurt so badly? And, WHAT is the purpose? I trust your plan, but what is the point? My answer came in two parts.
First, our social worker for Ethiopia told me "Things like this happen and families hurt so badly. But, the moment they get their child in their arms (wherever he or she may come from) they understand. They know why. They were to have that specific child from that specific place at that specific time. And God's plan just looks different than we think and plan for." (Insert a little bit of hope here.)
Then, upon suggestion of a friend, I notified someone who is very present in Nahum's daily life of the changes going on. Nahum is a sensitive kid and sometimes it can come out in behavior. I wanted her to be aware. So, after hearing from me about it she talked to him. She told him it was ok to be sad and she would be there to talk to about it if he needed to. But, even though this is sad, there is something to look forward to since he will still get a sibling from around here. Then she told him that she herself had been adopted. (Nahum thought that was really cool and special. You could tell he felt proud that she told him something so special.) Then, through some corresponding back and forth with her we found that not only had she been adopted, but she had been adopted from THE SAME AGENCY IN INDIANAPOLIS!! THE SAME TINY, SOMEWHAT UNKNOWN AGENCY! WHAAAAT??? WHAT ARE THE ODDS?! The timing of it was perfect. It just felt like God was saying "I got you here, where I wanted you. With the agency I wanted you at. For the timing that I have planned...I've got this! It was planned!"  (Insert hope and joy here.
I'll tell ya, over the past 6 weeks I have cried and prayed about this. Over the past 2 I have wept and sobbed and questioned. I grew weary. At just the point I needed I feel like God used these two women to reaffirm his plan and sweep over me with a new hope and a new joy as for what is to come. While I am still really grieving the loss of Ethiopia in a big way, I have the JOY of knowing HIS plan is better than mine and the HOPE of knowing HE will complete it in HIS timing for HIS glory and our good.
Here is how you can pray. Pray that we can really process through and grieve the loss of an Ethiopian daughter. That our boys can process through and grieve the loss as well. Especially sweet Nahum who has been so sensitive to this from the beginning. That we would continue to follow the leading of God's peace and trust His leading. And, that we don't have to see another Christmas without a child we love so much and have never met.
OH!! One last really great thing. Because of the way everything worked out between Ethiopia and domestic we aren't really losing a whole ton of money. The initial start up fee Andy and I paid and our dossier fee is gone. However that is pretty much it! We have money transferring back to us that we will be able to put towards our domestic adoption decreasing how much we owe there. On top of that we are getting a partial refund since we never had a child placed with us from Ethiopia. That money will go into our domestic fund as well. That was an added bonus! :)
Thanks for the prayers. Well keep you all updated as things change and progress.