Monday, December 30, 2013

Join Us In Prayer

We received this email from our agency today. Please join us in prayer. Pray that Ethiopia remains open, not just for our sake, but for the sake of thousands of orphans in Ethiopia. We will know in 2 weeks if Ethiopia will remain open to international adoptions and we will keep you updated. We are staying hopeful until we know more. Thank you for praying with us!

Dear Andy & Erin,

We are sending out this email as a response to recent information regarding the status of adoption in Ethiopia.  Over the weekend in Ethiopia a multiday meeting was held by the House of Representatives along with MOWCYA officials.   In attendance were numerous Ethiopian government officials and public stakeholders, roughly 400 people were present.  A research paper prepared by MOWCYA in conjunction with Parliament was presented regarding issues of sexual harassment, drug abuse and adoption within Ethiopia.  Following the presentation of the research, the group of attendees were divided into six groups to discuss and respond to 15 questions.  Roughly seven of the 15 questions were directly related to adoption. (America World is in the process of translating the research paper and questions.)  Each group had a mixed representation of parliament officials, MOWCYA officials, Court President and officials, NGOs, adoption agency representatives, teachers, and public attendees.  America World’s In-Country Director, Adey, was present at the meeting and in one of the working groups. 

The groups reviewed the material, discussed for several hours,  and then had one individual from each group present to the larger group suggestions for addressing the issues noted.  Regarding adoption issues, it was noted that many Parliament officials involved strongly lobbied for the closure of international adoption while many of the groups encouraged a greater focus on domestic adoption while continuing international adoption as a good option for children.  At the conclusion of the group presentations, the speaker of the House of Representatives stated that government officials were shown to have had conflicts of interest leading to corruption and did not speak positively regarding international adoption.  In closing he noted that a strategic plan would be provided after 10 business days.

We know many of you will have questions regarding this.  We have provided as much information as we have available at this time.  There have been numerous changes in Ethiopian adoption over the last few years and we are hopeful that any changes made will not disparately impact your family’s process.  Discussions of Ethiopia “shutting down to international adoption are not new.  Nevertheless, this is a crucial time in Ethiopia regarding the direction of international adoption.  Ethiopia is a country that values their children and has been historically very supportive of international adoption. While the prevention of corruption and safe guards on behalf of children are critically important and reform is needed, adoption is a very politically charged issue within Ethiopia.   Several government officials continue to be greatly supportive of international adoption and recognize that numerous children are in great need of a permanent family. 

We know all of you are deeply concerned regarding your adoption as well as the welfare of Ethiopia’s children.  We share your concern.  Please join us in praying for the Ethiopia officials and the children of Ethiopia.  We will continue to keep families updated with any new information as it is received from Ethiopia.   

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Update And A Meal

Ok, I have been terrible at keeping up with blogging. Sorry! People ask me all of the time how things are going and if I would just keep this stinker updated you all would probably feel a little bit more informed huh? Well, since it has been a long time I am going to meld two posts into one. The first half is all about how I (Erin) have been feeling the past few months, and the second will be all about our fun Ethiopian meal. Here we go.........

Sometime around Aug 10th (give or take a week) Andy played a song for me in the car. I couldn't tell you what the song was, what it was about or who it was by. All I know is that it struck a chord in my heart. Up until this point we haven't really even felt like our kiddo was even born yet. I mean, the reality of timing and our age limit made that pretty obvious. We just knew we were praying for her before her bio parents had even begun to think of her. What a cool thought! Anyhow, when he played that particular song, on that particular day it hit me. I think she is born. I just really do! I don't know who, what, when, where or why, but I truly think she has been born. As parents, part of our job is to love on and protect our kids. It is something I am unable to do for her right now. She will go through a loss greater than I have ever experienced in my life and I can't be there to protect her or hold her through it. She will lose two parents and God only knows what else before I will ever meet her. That. Is. Hard! Hard! Hard! This was a feeling I didn't know how to process.
The next day (Sunday) we were singing "The Glory Of It All" at church. We sang " At the start He was there, He was there..." Yes, I am aware he isn't talking about being at the start of my daughters life, but God used it. At the start of her life HE was there, when all is lost He is there. I just felt God's presence in a real way. Touching my heart and reminding me that HE IS THERE. That, is all that matters. As important as I will be in her life one day, I don't hold a candle to God, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I would much rather Him be there with her than me. It gave me such a peace and a zap back to reality that I can not always be in control or protect, but that doesn't mean my kids aren't being cared for. In fact it can mean the absolute opposite. God is in control and God is holding her. That, is all that matters.
So yeah, in a nut shell, we still have some time. We could get a call tomorrow or we could get a call in 2 years. But, God is in control and we will wait.

Now, on to the food. I have heard from a number of people, and blogs of adoptive parents, that there are three things they had wished they knew more of. 1~ Amharic (the native language in Ethiopia), 2~ How to make Ethiopian food and 3~ How to take care of their babies hair and skin. So, I decided to tackle one of those three. Food of course! I love ethnic food so this was a fun adventure for me. There are few people I would ever invite over for dinner on Ethiopian night. But we do have a few adventurous friends, so we invited some over to join in the Ethiopian fun.
This my friends, was a 2 day long adventure.
I first started by making Ayib, an Ethiopian cheese. In the States Ethiopian places often serve plain yogurt because you can't buy Ayib here. BUT.....You can make it!!!! ;) Yes, I made cheese, and it was easy!
Then, I started the Injera. Injera is the bread they eat with meals over there. It is made with Teff flour and it is fermented for days! Lemme tell ya, I was a little nervous with this stuff. When I opened the container on my counter is was all brown and bubbly. It was so bizarre looking and it was an interesting process. My injera tasted ok, but it wasn't right. It is suppose to be crepe thin and spongy. Mine was like a big ole pancake. Fail! Oh well, I will keep trying. I made Gomen, which is a collard greens dish. Shiro Wat which is an uber spicy, chick pea flour, pasty main course.  Misir Wat, which is again a very spicy, red lentil dish. Yassa, which is marinated onions (8 of them) and chicken. Kik Alicha, which is a yellow split pea stew and last but not least a super crazy, spicy, tomato salad. The salad I didn't even attempt  to eat because it was fire hot. The other stuff???? I plowed it! I'm not sure I even took a second to breathe.
Not to toot my own horn, (I mean they weren't even my recipes) but it was DANG GOOD! We all enjoyed it and I even had enough left over to send home with our new Ethiopian friend Getabalew. According to his mommy he liked it! Even the crazy, hot n' spicy Misir and Shiro Wat! That kid must have some iron clad taste buds!
One of the three down and 1 1/2 to go! (I say 1/2 cause I half way know how to care for her hair already thanks to my profession and tips from my friends who already have learned.)
There ya go. That's us in a nutshell for now.
Annnnd  I will leave you with a little picture of our fun friends who joined us for the meal ;)

Monday, September 2, 2013

A Rescued Heart

Hey guys, I know this is normally where we post about our adoption process, but today I wanted to post about something else. My friend Natalie!

Nat and I have been friends for 12+ years, (Holy cow that dates me!!) and I am super proud of her! Why?!?! Because she followed her dream, worked really hard and WROTE A BOOK!!! Any of you who know me know that I am not a reader. Sadly, I'm just not. However, when I read her book I couldn't put it down. I finished it in 24 hours! No, I'm not kidding. It was that good and I want to share it all with you. Here is some info on her book and I hope you all take the time to buy it and read it! You won't be sorry!

How long did this book take from the first sentence to the published book? Was that longer/shorter than you expected?
 It took just under five years.  It was shorter than expected because I never thought it would happen! I had read all the statistics of first time author’s getting published with a traditional publisher and the low percentage and time frame was eye-opening. So I kept a level-head through the whole process knowing that my chance of getting published (without self-publishing) was extremely low.  Thankfully I ended up being happily surprised with a contract to be published.
Did you randomly pick the character’s names, or do they mean something to you?
Some of the female names had been on our girl baby name list over the years (Ava, Lucy, Julia). The remaining names were randomly picked, but I tried to fit the name to each character. For example, Matthew. I liked how common the name is, how the name is solid and goes with his character and personality that is strong and compassionate. Also, Matthew means “Gift of God,” which I found fitting for his relationship with Ava.
How did you come up with the setting/location of the story? Is it based in places you know? 
I wanted a setting that I could be familiar with and visit if I need to. I chose Rockford, IL. It reminded me a lot of South Bend and I did hours of research on the city, its landmarks and activities to help add to my storyline. Since I hadn’t been there before, I got on Google Earth and I could see what the city looked like and how it was laid out to help me visualize better as I wrote the scenes and the places where my characters went.
What’s your proudest moment? 
When I got the e-mail that the publisher loved my book. If you had been a fly on the wall you would have seen me double check the e-mail twice, just to make sure I read it correctly. Then you would have seen me jumping up and down, praising God and thanking Him while my children looked at me like I was a crazy woman...which, let’s be honest, probably isn’t too different from any other day. And then you would have seen my kids and I (Greg would have joined in, but he wasn’t home) turn on some music and bust out the best dance party EVER!

Can you tell she is a lot of fun?! :)  Buy the book ya'all! Here is a link to where you can buy it.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Paper Work. Check!

Well praise the Lord the paper work is finished. Done. El fine'. Completed. DONE-ZO! (Insert giant exhale here) The past few months I have been so overwhelmed with work Andy took over a vast majority of the paper work. I just couldn't do it anymore. I couldn't be more thankful for him!
Yes, this is really what some of our evenings look like. What you can't see in the picture is the vast array of notary stamps, seals and signatures. DONE!
So we mailed in our Dossier and a fat check and now we wait.  This is only half of the actual stash of papers we sent. I never got a picture of the full pile. It actually doesn't even look that bad here. I think maybe the pile feels bigger because of the time it took :) I should have taken a side view.
What's next? Well....waiting....a. whole. lot. of. waiting! My mom and I were talking about the wait and she just couldn't believe it would still take another couple of years. Unfortunately it is our reality. BUT I am just trusting that God has a special and particular someone in mind for our family. And maybe, just maybe she needs to be created. Psalm 139:13-17. The truth I cling to. The truth I wait on.
While we wait, we will start fundraising. My Bible study girls are going to help me do some fundraising this fall....not sure what yet but I am so grateful for the help. This fundraising stuff is a stretch for me. I don't like it and I'm not good at it. Thus far the ONLY fundraising we have done has been thanks to the ideas and volunteering of our friends. Without all of you this wouldn't be possible! Thank you friends!
Please keep praying for God's hand of protection and blessing on our little girl. She is coming to us because of tragedy. Due to the death of parents who loved her or the poverty of parents who loved her. Pray for her. It is a sad and hard reality that she will endure pain, even if she is very young, she will have experienced a loss most of us cannot imagine. Please pray for her.