Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Getting ready!

The countdown has started.  We will be leaving three weeks from today! This will be the first of two trips that we  take to UG to complete the adoption.  On this first trip we will appear before the court.  We will then travel home and wait to hear the ruling from the judge. Other families with our agency have traveled  for the 2nd trip about a month to six weeks later.  It will be a quick turn around for us but we welcome it!  Honestly it is still very surreal to us.  We have booked tickets, made reservations, started to pack, started to gather donations for AFC and filled our malaria and antibiotic prescriptions but it is still hard to believe that it is going to happen.  After looking at a picture of J for the last 16 months we are going to actually be able to meet him!

While this is exciting for us and we have been waiting for this day for so is not quite the same for J.  He will be meeting us for the first time and he hasn't been staring at our photo for over a year like we have with him.  Please pray for all of us as we meet for the first time.  We honestly have it easy...he is coming into our world, we don't have to give up all that is familiar to us but he will have to do that.  Adoption is beautiful and it is an earthly picture of God's redemptive work in our lives but nevertheless it is born out of loss.  Please pray for J as this transition begins.  Pray for the nannies who work so tirelessly at his orphanage  taking such good care of the kiddos who will soon be saying goodbye to him. Pray for our family and for both of the trips that we will be taking to bring him home!  We are so thankful for the prayers that have  already been offered up on behalf of our family!   You are all a blessing to us!


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Court Date!!!!!!!

We have a court date!   March 27th!Wow after all this time of waiting it is finally here and we are so excited and overwhelmed at the same time!!  Little boy we are coming!!  Please keep praying!


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

His reward

How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that left Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom
Stuart Townend

Friday, February 17, 2012

Whoever You Are

I can't believe another month has passed.   And yes we are still waiting on a court date.  Each day I check  email a hundred times hoping there is something from our agency but not yet!  Thank you for the prayers and please keep praying!  We can't wait to meet J and it is hard to believe that he is almost a two and half years old.  We pray that we don't have to miss too much more of his life!  This month we bought the book Whoever You Are by Mem Fox to add to Js library.  The book shows that though children may look different, live in different places and speak different languages they all have the same needs and are the same even if  they do look different from each other!

Have a great weekend!


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Africa's Daughters | Watch the Documentary Film Free Online | SnagFilms

Thanks to my friend Tia for opening my eyes to movies like this one. This is an  independent film and is about 25 minutes long. Please watch it...grab a cup of coffee or tea and take the time. Just an FYI there are a couple of commercial breaks during the movie but it will resume right after the commercial is over.  We have so much to be thankful for growing up in a nation like America.  I attended public school for most of my K-12 years ( a couple of years were in a private school)  and I completely took school and the privilege of attending school for granted.  Every single child in our nation gets an education...that is an incredible thing and  that is not the norm in the rest of the world. The two girls in this short film, Hoctavia and Ruth,  have the dream of going on to high school and eventually on to college. Unfortunately though sending girls to secondary school (high school) and alot of times even primary school  is not the norm in countries like UG. If we are really serious about being Jesus and standing up against injustices then we need to do something about the fact that so many girls never have the opportunity to attend school. Most of the time the reason is simply because their parents/caregivers can't afford the school fees which are often no more than $300/year.  Education does so much for a country as you will see at the end of the movie.  If we are serious about changing lives then it has to start with giving children the opportunity to eliminate poverty in their own countries through things like education.  This is exactly what  is being talked about in Isaiah 58.

"This is the kind of fast day I'm after:
   to break the chains of injustice,
   get rid of exploitation in the workplace,
   free the oppressed,
   cancel debts.
What I'm interested in seeing you do is:
   sharing your food with the hungry,
   inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
   putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
   being available to your own families.
Do this and the lights will turn on,
   and your lives will turn around at once.
Your righteousness will pave your way.
   The God of glory will secure your passage.
Then when you pray, God will answer.
   You'll call out for help and I'll say, 'Here I am.'  
Isaiah 58:6-9, The Message

Africa's Daughters Watch the Documentary Film Free Online SnagFilms

If after watching the film, you feel you would like to help children who otherwise would not get the opportunity to receive an education here is a list of  some of the ministries I personally know about who are making a permanent and sustainable difference in the lives of children and their countries. 

Action for Children

Kilgoris Project


The Adami Tulu Project


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Place at the Table

Lent is a great time to participate in a fast. It is a time of preparation for the highest holy day in the Christian calendar, Easter. Holy Week and Easter are so important to our faith journey that if we encounter them without taking the time to prepare, we risk not grasping the fullness of God's love and grace.  Our hearts, minds, and yes even our bodies need a time of preparation to lead us joyously to the feast, reluctantly to Gethsemane, solemnly to the cross, and jubilantly to the empy tomb.
-Chris Seay, A Place at the Table

The season of Lent begins a week from today on February 22nd. Last year was the first year that our family had participated in Lent.  My husband and I grew up in churches that didn't celebrate Lent. It is something that I honestly didn't think about, and didn't really understand.  So, last year, as I was reading through the book No Ordinary Home by Carol Brazo, and as I read about what it is and what the real purpose of Lent is for followers of Christ, I was convicted about celebrating it.  Lent is a time of fasting leading up to the cross recalling Jesus' 40 day fast in the wilderness.I love how Noel Piper describes Lent...

Traditionally Lent is a season of sober, realistic reflection on our own lives and our need for a Savior. It is a time for turning away from anything that has kept us from God and for turning or returning to him. It is a time to pray that God renew our love for him and our dependence on him.

I used some of the resources Carol Brazo has in her book and then I found this website that had the readings and templates for the Jesus Tree  We were definitely blessed by last year's walk to the cross through the observation of Lent and we can't wait to see how God is going to change us this year.  This is what our Jesus Tree looked like last year.

We are adding another aspect to our Lent observance, and it is the book A Place at the Table: 40 Days of Solidarity with the Poor by Chris Seay.  In the introductory chapters of this book and through the readings that Chris has put together for the 40 days of Lent we are challenged  to look beyond ourselves and have a renewed focus on Jesus that will change our lives and the lives of others.  Each day in the readings he also includes a country to pray for and the specific needs of the people in that country. Chris asks this question in the book: 

Can we embrace the truths of Christ if we do not embrace His posture?  His hands were exposed to disease and leprosy as he touched the sick. His knee bent to the ground to wash the sullied feet of his friends. His eyes lifted in prayer to the Father.  His body bowed and was broken in death.  As we learn to march in step with our Savior, we find that our swagger gives way to a lowly and humble way of walking.

Here is Chris giving an introduction to the 40 days of fasting that he walks through in his book:

We are excited to spend these 40 days in a time of fasting focusing on Jesus and changing our lives to become more like him.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Love and Grace

Sometimes I need to be reminded of who I am in Christ.  There are weeks when it is easy to feel beaten down by this world and it is during those times of failure when I am most thankful for the love and grace that I receive as a child of God.  This video is a great reminder of what was done for us!

Have a great weekend!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Questions that should be asked...

Adoption is awesome!  Unfortunately, though just like anything else that is good it can be corrupted.  Adoption has become a money making business for agencies, lawyers and Baby Homes/Orphanages.  So, as a prospective adoptive parent (pap) what can we do to fight against corruption, protect children, their families and ourselves? We can ask questions and lots of them.  We can educate ourselves by reading about corruption in adoption, we  can speak to other adoptive parents and  we can research. Here is a list of questions compiled by adoptive parents.  These questions are a great starting point for any family beginning the adoption process.

·         Questions for Prospective Adoptive Parents (PAPs) to ask agencies, care centers and lawyers

“How long has the child been in foster/orphanage care?"
Favorable answer for abandoned child:  at least 6 months
Favorable answer for relinquished child: varies and depends on situation.
"Red flag" answer for abandoned child: a very short time, not enough time to have made a thorough attempt to locate birthfamily or find a domestic placement.
"Red flag answer for relinquished child: the child is not currently in care, they are still with extended family.  Once a family commits to the child, we will move the child into care.  

"What attempts have been made to locate any living relatives?"
Favorable answer for abandoned child: radio and newspaper ads (copies of which are available) were run soon after the child was found (in addition to a police report). 
"Red flag" answer: there is nothing (no records of newspaper ads, radio ads, etc) to demonstrate a sincere attempt to locate relatives. It is expected that the PAP will pay for the ads, and nothing is done until the PAP is in the picture.

"How are you working towards family preservation as well as international adoption?"
Favorable answer: sponsorship programs, supporting birthfamilies
"Red flag" answer: international adoption is our preferred option. We believe an American (Canadian, etc) family can provide a better life for the child than a Ugandan family. 

"If money were not an issue, would someone in the family be able to care for the child?"
Favorable answer:  even with sponsorship/financial support, the family cannot or is unwilling to care for the child.
"Red flag" answer: yes, they want to care for the child but don't have the financial resources to do so.

“Can you show all the steps and paperwork involved in determining that the child is truly an orphan?”
Favorable answer: for abandonded child: ads (newspaper and/or radio). Police investigation. Allowing sufficient time for birth family to locate and reclaim child.
For relinquished child: care order (parental rights relinquished) completed before PAP enters the picture.
"Red flag" answer in either case: one or more of the above steps has not been completed

"Does this child meet the USCIS definition of an orphan?"
Favorable answer: legally, it is the adoptive parents' responsibility to ensure that the child meets the USCIS definition of an orphan. Still, the adoption agency, orphanage and/or attorney should be taking steps to make sure every child they refer for adoption fits this definition and understand who can be adopted under US law. Here is the USCIS definition: In most cases, children should have either been abandoned or have experienced the death of one or both parents.
"Red flag" answer: the adoption agency/attorney/orphanage seem unaware of the criteria for a child to be considered a orphan under US law. Even worse, those responsible for the child are willing to manipulate paperwork to make the child appear to be an orphan.

“What is the process for determining which children are eligible for adoption and who makes that decision...orphanage worker? agency? What is the criteria?”
Favorable answer: if there are not any living relatives who are able to care for the child and, if abandoned, all searches have turned up empty, an attempt was made to place the child with a local family. If no one was willing/able to foster or adopt the child from within Uganda, the child was considered eligible for international adoption. If with an agency, the country director has verified that this is the case and that an effort has been made to locate any living relatives PRIOR to considering the child adoptable. If independent, the Ugandan attorney/probation officer/investigator has verified the accuracy of the story before the child is considered adoptable. 
"Red flag" answer:  a potential adoptive parent identifies a child that they are interested in, and then a determiniation is made about adoptability; the investigation is started after the referral is already made. 

"Tell me about your in-country adoption program?  Have there been any attempts to place this child domestically?"
Favorable answer: we try to place children with suitable adoptive families in Uganda before making them available for international adoption. We've found that there are Ugandan families willing to adopt, especially young, healthy children.
"Red flag" answer: the orphanage claims that Ugandans are not willing or able to adopt.

"Can you give us a fee schedule, and are there any extra fees or additional costs that I should be aware of?"
Favorable answer: here are a list of our fees. The fees should be itemized and should make sense.
"Red flag" answer: attorney/agency will not firmly commit to amount upfront (or has a history of being unreliable) or the fees change during the process without a clear reason. Fees classified as a "foreign program fee" or "humanitarian assistance" need to be explained fully.

‎"Do you require families to make a donation to the orphanage?"
Favorable answer: no, in most cases. It may be appropriate for parents to pay for documented expenses incurred by the home during the adoption process. Some adoption agencies may ask families to pay fees that support humanitarian programs in the country or around the world. If this is the case, you need to ask if any donations are made to the orphanage in exchange for each child placed for adoption. It is best if the humanitarian programs are not dependent on children being placed for adoption.
"Red flag" answer: yes. It is against the law in Uganda for parents to pay money or anything in the place of money to anyone who is responsible for the child, including the biological family or orphanage, as a condition of the adoption. When orphanages rely on support from adoptive families or adoption agencies, they become financially dependent on continuing to place children for international adoption. 

"When do I pay my attorney fees?"
Favorable answer: typically, families pay a deposit (between $500 and half of the attorney fees) when the case is filed in court and the balance after legal guardianship is granted and when the lawyer gives the family the papers they need for the embassy including the passport, probation officer report, etc.
"Red flag" answer: all, or almost all, of the attorney fees must be paid prior to court/embassy.

"Are you familiar with the embassy process?"
Favorable answer: yes, the process is known and documents that need to be taken to the visa interview will be provided
"Red flag" answer: no, this is not part of the attorney's work or no, they are unfamiliar with the requirements and regulations of the embassy

"Have any children from your agency, orphanage or whom you represented in court been denied an orphan visa from the US (Canadian, etc) Embassy? If so, how was this resolved?"
Favorable answer: no; if yes, there is a clear and reasonable explanation.
"Red flag" answer: yes, and there is not a convincing explanation.

"Do you allow 3rd party investigations of referrals?"
Favorable answer: yes.
"Red flag" answer: not at all. In fact, many adoption agencies have in their contracts wording that prohibits adoptive families from using a third party investigator. Remember, most agency contracts serve to protect the adoption agency from lawsuits in the United States and absolve the agency from any responsibility for their behavior or the behavior of their representatives outside of the United States. 

"Who is on the ground in Uganda? What are their credentials? For agencies, how often does someone from the US visit Uganda and how much time to they spend?"
Favorable answer: the agency has staff working closely with orphanages or organizations in Uganda. The representatives visit regularly and have close relationships with the staff OR someone is on the ground in-country full time. These are certified social workers who are familiar with international adoption and USCIS rules and regulations. 
"Red flag" answer:  there is no one working on the ground in Uganda. Representatives visit periodically or have only visited Uganda on a few locations. All information is obtained second-hand from others who are in country. Turnover rate is high or staff does not possess qualifications pertaining to adoption (ie- they are not social workers, welfare officers, attorneys, etc). 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Easy but good!!

Here is a great recipe for a weekend morning treat!

Overnight Bubble Rolls
1 cup of brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 pkg. (12rolls) frozen dough rolls
1/2 cup of butter
1/2 cup of walnuts (optional)

Grease bundt pan thoroughly.  Cut butter into small slices.  Place slices of butter in the bottom of the bundt pan.  Mix together sugar and  cinnamon.  Sprinkle 3/4 of the sugar mixture on top of the butter.  If using, sprinkle walnuts on top of sugar mixture in pan.  Arrange the frozen bread dough rolls on top of mixture.  Sprinkle remaining sugar mixture on top of rolls.  Set in cool oven overnight with foil covering.  In the morning rolls will be thawed, risen and ready to bake.  Remove foil and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.  When done flip over on plate.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Our family is excited about the superbowl. I grew up in Massachusetts so I am a huge Pats fan!  But I am more excited about what Tony Dungy and Lifesong have put together for Superbowl Sunday to raise the awareness of the orphan crisis here in America and worldwide.  There is a video and a free kit that goes along with it.

"The big win on Super Sunday would be to raise awareness about the millions of children who need a family. I would love to see thousands of local community groups and circles of friends gathering together to stop and consider how they can help." 
-Tony Dungy

If you would like to show the video during halftime you can download it here