Quick Post

Today was an exciting day! We received our first call from our assigned social worker, who seems absolutely perfect for our family. She gave us some information to start working on our next steps. Tonight we spent a couple hours reading, initialing, and signing several documents that Ryan will scan and send to our agency tomorrow. Our next big step will be choosing a local agency to complete our home study and starting that process. I am so excited take these next steps!


Am I Pregnant?

No...I'm definitely not pregnant, but I've got to tell you - this whole adoption thing sure feels an awful lot like pregnancy to me! When we made the decision to embark on this journey, I had no idea the parallels that we would see between actually being pregnant and pursuing an adoption.

Exhibit A:
I find myself feeling super emotional about everything, causing me to cry at the drop of a hat. Seriously, I cannot keep it together. The first week at work after we decided to adopt, I found myself just staring at the kids with Hispanic or Asian backgrounds walking down the hall, wondering if my son/daughter would look like any of them (at the time, we hadn't picked China). Seriously, I would go to my office and tears would just fall down my face. More recently, I've cried watching a speech therapy session, listening to our server share that her son passed away years ago when he was 17, and reading blogs about adoption. I. AM. A. MESS.

Exhibit B:
Just like when you are pregnant, and your pregnancy is always in the back of your mind, this adoption is always at the back of my mind. Rather than feel a constant awareness of a person growing inside my body, I have a constant awareness of the love growing in my heart. It honestly feels so full sometimes I think I will explode. I really thought I would compartmentalize better, but the truth is, this adoption is always lurking just beneath the surface of everything I do, waiting for an opportunity to pop up and say hello!

Exhibit C:
You know how when you're pregnant you have this CRAZY love for a person you haven't even met? There is this instinctual desire to protect, love, and nurture this tiny little person growing inside of you? I remember feeling this even stronger the second time I was pregnant because I had a better understanding of what was in there and who would come out 9 months later. Once again, adoption is the same. We're one week out from choosing our country, and I am already in love with this little person beyond anything I would have imagined at this stage. It's really wild.

Exhibit D:
When I was pregnant, I always wondered, "What will he/she look like? What will his/her personality be like? How will this person's life change life as we know it?" And again, I am wondering the same things. Is our child a boy or girl? Will I have another son, or will I have my first daughter? What will his/her beautiful face look like? How will Noah and Liam respond to having another sibling?" So many questions that only time can answer!

Exhibit E:
Waiting. There is a LOT of waiting in pregnancy. Waiting to find out if you're pregnant. Waiting to find out if the baby has a heartbeat. Waiting for maternity clothes to finally fit. Waiting to find out the sex of the baby (we did the second time around). Waiting to make it to 24 weeks when the baby might survive if born premature. Waiting to find out if you passed the glucose test (I failed the first time and had to deal with gestational diabetes). Waiting to hit the 30 week mark...then 37 weeks...38...39...40...and in my case the second time around...almost 41 weeks. Waiting to go into labor. Waiting to finally hold that precious one who grew inside you for 9 months.

Adoption is no different. Waiting appears to be the name of the game, and it doesn't necessarily happen in this order! Waiting to start your home study. Waiting to collect the million documents needed for the dossier. Waiting for fingerprints to be processed. Waiting for all applications and documents to be processed. Waiting for the country to receive your dossier. Waiting for a log in date. Waiting for a referral and deciding to adopt that child. Waiting for your letter of acceptance from that child's country to adopt that sweet one with whom you are now completely in love. Waiting for a travel date to be announced. Waiting to actually travel. Waiting on a crazy long plane ride to reach the country. Waiting to go to the orphanage/foster home to meet your child. Waiting to complete all health checks and legal requirements in country. Waiting to leave the country and bring the child home to his/her new family. THERE. IS. SO. MUCH. WAITING.

So, no, I am not pregnant. But you know what? I totally feel like I am. :)


Save the Adoption Tax Credit

Huge favor to ask. Will you please take 10 minutes to help save the Adoption Tax Credit? This credit currently provides $12,650 for families who adopt and greatly helps offset the costs of adoption. Read more here: http://adoptiontaxcredit.org/. It is set to expire at the end of 2012. Here are the steps:

1. Find your Representatives:
3. Use this letter http://adoptiontaxcredit.org/advocate/sample-letter or write your own
4. Copy and paste the letter into a contact form on that representative's website.

I finally sent this letter to both senators and our house representative tonight, and it was super easy! I am embarrassed to admit this, but it was the first time I've actually contacted a government official. Knowing how easy it is makes me want to do it more often in the future. Here is the letter I sent (with a personal addition in blue):
Dear Representative/Senator _________________:
I am writing to ask you to support the adoption tax credit, which is set to expire on December 31, 2012. Since 1997, the adoption tax credit has helped tens of thousands of parents offset the high cost of adoption, making it possible for them to provide children with loving, permanent families.
The adoption tax credit is especially important to me and my family because we are just beginning our adoption journey to adopt a child born with cleft lip/cleft palate from China. This calling occurred about 15 months after our second son was born with a cleft lip here in Indiana. We are SO fortunate to have an amazing plastic surgeon, Dr. Havlik, at Riley Hospital for Children who can help these sweet children. In their home countries, they are unwanted and unloved, outcasts in their societies. Employment is usually difficult, if not impossible. Indiana has such amazing resources to help orphans, and saving this tax credit will ensure that families will be able to offset the high costs in helping sweet orphans all around the world.  
If Congress does not take action, the current adoption tax credit will expire at the end of 2012. The credit will be reduced to $6,000, and will only benefit the few families that adopt children with special needs and have qualified adoption expenses. Most families adopting children from foster care, intercountry adoption, and domestic infant adoption will not receive any benefit. Without the adoption tax credit, many parents hoping to adopt will be unable to do so, and others will face great financial hardship. The adoption tax credit is essential to ensuring that as many children as possible find the forever families they deserve and ensuring that those families are in a more stable financial position to provide an environment where children can thrive.
The adoption tax credit must be extended to help as many children as possible find the permanent, loving family they need and deserve. And for 2012 it should be made refundable again so that most adoptive families will benefit from it. The best adoption tax credit would be permanent, refundable, inclusive of all types of adoption, and remain a “flat” tax for children with special needs. Enclosed, for your reference, is a factsheet with more information about the adoption tax credit.
On behalf of the countless children waiting to be adopted, and the many thousands of families that stand to benefit from the adoption tax credit, thank you for your attention to this important issue.
Amy Abell
A huge thank you, in advance, to those of you who will follow through! I have had over 1,300 hits on my blog posts relating to adoption, and if our senators and representatives received even 325 email about saving the adoption tax credit in the next 48 hours, we might just get their attention! How awesome would that be??


Today Marks Day One

Today our prayers (and yours) were answered!! Today we felt complete peace and excitement about taking our next step after choosing our agency and country.

Drum roll please..................

We have decided to pursue our adoption of a child with CL/CP through CHINA using Lifeline Children's Services (click to check out their website). They are an incredible, Christian-based organization known for their humanitarian work and excellence in adoption. They have have responded quickly to our inquiries and spent over 30 minutes with me yesterday on the phone. The main office is in Birmingham, AL, but they have 9 other locations around the US. The closest one to us is Louisville, KY. The people at Lifeline fully believe they are fulfilling God's teaching to help orphans, and that means so much to us! Watch this video for more information about Lifeline:


While we did not expect to end up finding our sweet one in China, God surprised us by showing us so many reasons why it is the best fit for our family. First, the China program is Hague Accredited. This is important to us in order to ensure the children are protected. Second, the highest number of orphans born with CL/CP are adopted from China. With strict guidelines and taxes associated with multiple births, in addition to poverty, sweet babies with CL/CP are often abandoned in China. For those who do not know, it is illegal to "give your child up" for adoption in China; therefore, abandoning a child is oftentimes the only practical option families have in China - I know, it's totally heartbreaking. Third, through Lifeline, from application to bringing our child home, it should only take 12-15 months. Special needs children in China can be adopted at a very young age, which is ideal in many ways medically, environmentally, and linguistically.

Watch this video for an example of a Chinese Orphanage. It will bring you HOPE (because the kids and employees look so happy, and they are doing some awesome therapy and play exercises) and break your HEART simultaneously(because there are just so many children who have NO parents): http://vimeo.com/27008457 (Password: maoming)

There is so much for us to learn and so much I want to share with you, but I am exhausted. We spent the past 3 hours filling our the eight page application. Someone told me that completing the paperwork involved in the adoption process is similar to eating an elephant - you have to do it one bite at a time. I am already beginning to understand how true that is! Nevertheless, we are encouraged, excited, and ready to fill out more paperwork tomorrow.

Thank you again for your prayers and excitement as we embark on this journey. Who knows...maybe God will surprise you with a journey to adopt, too, or maybe if your heart is already open to adoption, you will begin doing your own research! I promise to support you along the way!



Well, it was bound to happen. A few days ago, I started to feel a lot of fear about moving forward with an adoption of a child with CL/CP. So many questions went through my head that day...

     Will the baby be able to form an attachment to us?

     What kind of conditions will this child be living in prior to our adoption?

     Will this child know what love is before meeting us?

     Who will take care of the baby before we pick him/her up?

     How will the language barrier impact us?

     How will growing up in a predominantly white community impact this child's identity?

     What will other people say/do to hurt my family when they see we don't "match?"

     How will people treat my sweet ones born with CL/CP b/c of the scars on their faces?

     Will this child's speech be very difficult to develop due to effects of having a CP?

Attachment is such a huge thing when it comes to adoption, and depending on the amount of nurturing and love the child received will impact how he/she will form future attachments. Many children live in orphanages, and when you see those cribs lined up a dozen at a time, it is truly heartbreaking. The alternative is foster care, and obviously that situation largely depends on the caretakers. There are just so many unknowns facing us at this point that when I start to think about them I can feel completely overwhelmed. Then I remember that this baby has had a consistent caregiver from birth - our Heavenly Father - and we could not ask for a better parent until we meet our son/daughter.

My fears about other people can be especially overwhelming because we cannot control other people. I know all we can do is take advantage of teachable moments and attempt to educate people on appropriate language (e.g., real child vs. biological child). Whether we're concerned about the attachment issues, social issues, or medical issues, one thing rings true. God will help us overcome them all. When we rely solely on ourselves, we are bound to fail. But...when we lean on God for understanding, hope, love, acceptance, and peace, He will always come through.

Reading Kisses from Katie could not come at a better time in our journey. Her words have helped melt away so many fears I was beginning to feel because she wrote about the same issues I described above. Even in Uganda under different circumstances, Katie has experienced her kids begin bullied for having a white mom. She has adopted children who have never felt love from another human being before she walked into their lives. Katie relies on the strength of the Lord to meet their every need - social, physical, medical, etc. And you know what, He comes through each and every time.

I'm already wondering how many times I will read that book throughout the course of my life. For those of you who do not know the story, Katie Davis (from TN and at age 18) traveled to Uganda to volunteer for 3 weeks. Several months later, she returned to Uganda to begin teaching kindergarten at an orphanage. She ended up starting an organization call Amazima where she helps (through sponsorship) 400 children receive education, clothing, food, and medicine in addition to being a modern-day Mother Teresa to hundreds and thousands of people around her. As if that wasn't enough, by age 22 Katie had adopted 14 children by herself. The story is incredible!! I won't spoil anymore by sharing with you, but truly, this book is phenomenal. The one thing she writes over and over again is that she is nobody special. Katie shares that she experiences the same struggles as anyone else, but in the end, she chooses to say "Yes" to God's plan for her life.

She writes, "My family, adopting these children, it is not optional. It is not my good deed for the day; it is not what I am doing to 'help out these poor kids.' I adopt because God commands me to care for the orphans and the widows in their distress. I adopt because Jesus says that to whom much has been given, much will be demanded (see Luke 12:48) and because whoever finds his life will lose it but whoever loses his life for His sake will find it (see Matthew 10:39).

At one point, Katies shares that there are...

143 million orphans
11 million children who starve to death or die from preventable diseases
8.5 million who work as slaves/prostitutes/other horrific conditions
2.3 million with HIV

= 164.8 million needy children

Although that seems overwhelming, Katie writes that 2.4 billion people claim to be Christians, and if ONLY 8% of the Christians cared for one child, there would not be any statistics left.

And that profound statement makes my jaw drop to the floor.

I want to be part of the 8%...and I think a lot of you want to be part of the 8%. I have so many friends who are beautiful, nurturing, loving, amazing mothers. Fear should never stop us from answering God's calling to care for orphans and widows because God does not give us a heart of fear. That emotion prevents us from doing exactly what we are created to do - love. And loving is what most of us do best. :)

Today, I don't feel fear. I'm sure it will return at some point, but for now I continue to research agencies and countries and look at pictures of beautiful children just waiting for homes. I appreciate all of your prayers that God makes it clear which country and agency we should choose. We are getting closer and closer everyday!
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