The Process

So after my last blog I’ve gotten such overwhelmingly positive feedback I must make a public statement showing my gratitude. So thank you, to everyone, who has shown such awesome support for our new journey! With that great response, came a lot of questions about the adoption process so I thought this blog I could devote to sharing with you the general process. As always, I’ll keep you up to date with where we are!

As said in the last blog, we have officially registered with our agency, CHSFS. Because we live in Iowa, they are able to be both our local agency and our international agency. I chose this because there would be a seamless handoff from one to the other and will hopefully minimize any confusions, etc. So once our registration was accepted, they sent us our official application packet. This packet is about 30 pages long and includes mostly questions about us. It also has many places for our signatures so they can retrieve all of our personal and public records. On top of that, we need physicals from our physician for all and three personal references. Our references, Dan and Becky Asleson, Greg and Emily Ball and Cheryl Goodwin, are writing what I’m sure are beautiful letters on why we would be good parents to another child/more children. So once all of that is completed, we send it in, with our first payment. (Note: we are now just waiting for all of our physicals and references and then we’ll be done)

After our application is accepted, we will go through an adoption course. This course is based out of St. Paul but as I understand we’ll be able to take it online as well. Anyway, they will go over such topics as transracial and transcultural adoption, adopting siblings, other siblings in the house, etc. After this course, we will have homework that will become part of our homestudy.

After the course, we enter into our homestudy (or adoption study). This includes 2-3 visits with a social worker. One of which will be in her office in Cedar Rapids and at least one other will be in our home. The basic reason for these is to get an in-depth look at our childhood, marriage, parenting skills, etc. The one in our house will be so she can look at all the childproofing measures we’ve taken, etc. At the end of the homestudy, the social worker will write a recommendation as to how good we will be as well as how many children we are qualified to take at that point. This does not mean how many we will be given, but she will give the max number we are allowed to ask for. (Note: we have to wait for our homestudy until we are in the new camp house).

While the homestudy is taking place, we can begin to get some of our paperwork ready for what is called the dossier. The dossier is a HUGE packet of information that will eventually be translated and sent to Ethiopia. So we will be busy getting fingerprinted and getting lots of government paperwork signed and translated. Apparently this is a long and tedious process but can take anywhere from a couple days to a couple months depending on how hard you want to work. (For those who know me, you know there is a good chance I’ll be working to get the record time in dossier submission). J After the dossier paperwork is in working order and we have an approved homestudy, we send it on to our agency that approves it and sends it on to Ethiopia. Once Ethiopia officially accepts it, we are officially waiting for a referral.

A referral is basically at least one picture and all the background information possible on your child. They tell you to expect anywhere from 4-9 months for a referral. Because at this time we are thinking of a toddler in between Trysten and Dailah or a young sibling group, it appears referrals come a bit faster as those are the ones who are least likely to be requested. Once our referral comes in, we have one week to consult with our doctor as well as a doctor who specializes in international adoption to make sure that the health history looks great. We can accept or decline the referral anytime within that week.

Once the referral is accepted, we are officially waiting for a travel date which they say takes anywhere from 8-12 weeks. What is going on in the meantime is basically all of our paperwork going through the Ethiopian courts again, but this time referring to this particular child.

Once we get our travel date, we’re off! We stay in Ethiopia for about a week. During that time, we are allowed to either stay in a hotel or in the care center’s lodging (which we will do because it’s free and from what we’ve heard/seen, beautiful!) Our child will be ours as soon as we hit the soil so we can keep them in our room with us or gradually work into bringing them to stay with us over the week (which they recommend with toddlers). At some point in that week, we are invited to travel south to meet any birth relatives of our child. This may include one or both of the parents but more than likely it is the grandparents, aunt and uncles, etc. It will also include a going away party at the care center for our little one the last night we’re there.

Once home, the child is ours in the States as well, we just have to sign an official paper for Iowa once we get here!

So we’re really excited. I’m having problems cooperating with the slow nature of the process and being so reliant on others. I tend to appreciate control with these kinds of matters! Anyway, I’ll let you know once we send in our application since that will be the next step. We appreciate all of your thoughts and prayers throughout this! Thanks for checking in.

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A Journey of the Heart

So it’s “semi”-official. Zach, myself, Trysten and Dailah have decided to follow God’s lead and adopt. I turned in the registration today to what appears to be a wonderful adoption agency (AA) called Children’s Home Society and Family Services (CHSFS). So I am devoting this blog to share with you why we (myself specifically) chose this route of parenting, though I truly believe it is a personal decision, I am happy to share the news and offer our very personal reasoning.

About Zach and my third date we were in the local bookstore when we talked about parenting. At this point we were very smitten with each other so it was more a “feeling out” conversation, but there were hints that we were each looking at the other as a possible father/mother to our future children. When the topic came up I specifically remember telling him I’ve always felt a heart for adoption. Imagine my surprise when he said he too felt like it was something he wanted to look into, whether or not he had biological children.

Fast forward to May 30th, 2005. As noted in previous blogs, I was 10 weeks pregnant with what would be our second child. That night in the hospital, alone, an angel visited me. Though I don’t typically buy into those sorts of things, or rather, I didn’t until then, I saw her (I say “her”, though I can’t tell if that’s because she was anatomically a girl or more like she felt like I was familiar with her spirit, familiar in the very girl sense of the word). Anyway, when I asked her if she was taking my baby, she said “yes”. When I asked her (again, I don’t remember actually asking her, we were just looking at each other and having a very real conversation without moving our lips) if she was there to take me, she said “ not yet”. It’s taken me a few years (could it really have been that long) of playing that scene out over and over again. Of picturing her face and the calmness she created by being there. But after years of reflecting and searching my very own definition of spirituality, I’ve come to realize she didn’t take me with her because God is not done using me yet.

Which leads me to our present circumstance. For the last two years I too have fought with God. I’ve lost sight of Him, ignored the things He’s called me to do sometimes, and listened whole-heartedly other times. He’s brought my family into the most amazing life presently. After we had Dailah, both Zach and I said we were already ready for another child. Even after saying that, a huge part of me knew I meant something entirely different than what most people think of when I say, “having another child”. See, I’ve always been a very empathetic person. If I see a person crying on the street, it’s typically a matter of minutes until my tear ducts are poring over. If I see a child hurting, or read about it in the newspaper, I don’t just “feel bad” for them. I literally FEEL bad. I put myself there. I am the one being beaten, raped, what have you and want to do anything in my power to take that hurt from a stranger I will undoubtedly never know. So all of this makes sense why God led me to a specific passage in the Bible repeatedly over the last two years since we’ve seriously considered adopting. “Lord, you know the hopes of the helpless. Surely you will listen to their cries and comfort them. You bring justice to the orphans and the oppressed, so people can no longer terrify them.” (Ps 10.17-18) And perhaps even more specifically, “And that’s the way it was with us before Christ came. We were slaves (orphans) to the spiritual powers of the world. But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves (orphans) to the law, so that he could ADOPT us as his very own children. And because you Gentiles have become his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, and now you can call God your dear Father. Now you are no longer a slave (orphan) but God’s own child. And since you are his child, everything he has belongs to you.” (Gal 4 3-7).

Because of these specific Bible passages (and many more, ask me and I’ll point you to at least 50) I believe those who have a heart for adoption are being called to do so. Throughout the Bible, God has a special place for orphans, so too have I. Throughout the last months; I have felt God calling me (sometimes forcing me) to pursue adoption even more wholeheartedly. To not let my own hesitancies stand in the way of what He knows is my path, why He kept me when He took my baby. This, I believe is one of those reasons.

Those of you who know us, know that Zach and I could easily have 20 children and not think a thing about it. We’ve been blessed in life to have two amazing children. I’ve been blessed to carry them in my own physical womb and feel their first kicks, watch them as they breastfeed and turn into their own personalities. Just as God placed them in my womb, He too has placed a child in the womb of my heart. I feel this child there as sure as I did Trysten and Dailah. And it brings many of the same emotions. Excitement, anticipation, reluctance, fear, happiness, etc. But oh the joy! The joy of following what has been asked of me and adopting a child just as God has adopted us. If only I can give the child half the life God has given me, I have done my job.

After much prayer, research, and consideration we have decided to adopt internationally from Ethiopia. The reasons for which are too numerous to name but here are a few reasons.
There are 4.5 MILLION orphans in Africa. Most of these children were left orphaned because their parents have died of the AIDS epidemic, war or famine. These kids have felt loved the entire time they resided in their mommy’s belly, and it is BECAUSE they love these children that the mom’s (or other related person should their parents have died) hand over their children…to give them a better life.
–This adoption program is the most efficiently ran program we have encountered. This country truly loves and cares for these babies and knows the best way to get them the love and care they need is to get them to families who will do that; as quickly and painlessly as possible.
–I truly believe God has bound my heart to Ethiopia. Leslie’s aunt has adopted a very wonderful little boy from there. Every time I see anything about Africa, I get such a personal attachment to it. As if I know the country already.
–This particular orphanage is run by believers as well. Though this wasn’t a huge determining factor, it makes me believe this kids are being cared for with the love and tenderness of a Christian family.

Those are just a few reasons, I could go on. But I want to get to heaven and be able to say, “God, I treated your creation with the love and affection I feel towards you, our Creator.” I take to heart James 1:27, “Religion that God the Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress to keep them from being polluted by the world.”

I wanted to share with you, our family, friends, fellow adoptive parents, anyone in cyberspace, our latest great news. That hopefully one day in the near future we will bring home the newest Klipsch. Whom I’m sure will share our love of life, stories, food, laughter, hugs, kisses and seeing God in the every day. Thanks so much for your continued prayers, blessings and positive thoughts. We hope to be able to count on them in the very near future. I will leave you with the passage that plaques my thoughts whenever I doubt this decision. James 4:17, “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” Love to all! Zach, Tesi, Trysten, Dailah and Stotle (he agrees with all of the above too) Klipsch

Hope

8 months, 22 days and 12 hours ago I was made a mommy for the second time. Dailah Leagh was officially born, early but beautiful as anything. It took me awhile to get past the excitement of pink, adorable outfits to get ready to submit my first blog since she came to us. But alas, here I am. In an ode to my youngest, I must admit I am happier than I’ve ever been because of the life God has given me.

So I was motivated to write a blog this morning because last night was my night with Dailah. What that generally means is should she wake up in the middle of the night, it is my turn to go give her a pacifier or what have you. This also means I get to “sleep in” until Trysten/Dailah wake up. Because my husband is an amazing, devoted, present father, we share these duties equally. Well last night Miss Dailah (or “my b-b-baby girl” as Trysten and I call her) decided to wake up and cry for a good portion of an hour until I finally gave in and gave her a bottle. It was no big deal really, but I was still frustrated seeings after the weekend we had I needed all the sleep I could muster.

And then….I woke up to her coos and giggles. Walked into her room and saw her big smile. Her good morning consisted of a laugh, a smile and kicking her feet and hands in a wave everyone else should try emulating. I tell you, just when I think my kids couldn’t upset me more they go and do that. They smile, or run over and say I love you. They pucker their faces or tell me they want to marry me. So I was thinking of all of my life’s blessings when I went to the TV today to see the Virginia Tech nightmare. At least 31 students dead, another 30 injured from a guy who decided to take out his anger, frustration, whatever, on a bunch of innocent children. These same children (as well as the gunmen, one would assume) once woke up the way my innocent Dailah did. With a smile and a laugh for whoever found them first. To think their young lives were cut short because of something like this pains my innermost being.

My friend, Kathryn, just asked me if I ever think about how depressing it is to bring kids into a world that is capable of so much violence, and ugliness. So much hatred and oppression. I told her of course I think about it. But I also rely so heavily on my faith that if something that horrific was to happen, I know my kids would be with their Creator. In a place where there are no guns, no wayward teenagers or misled human bombs. I know in the midst of it all, once having lost my kids, there would be little comfort in that fact. But when it came time for me to leave this earth, seeing my kids in all their glory, living with our God, well, it would be a mighty beautiful thing.

Besides, I also know that despite the overwhelming sense of ugliness this world has to offer. Despite how often my heart breaks at the tragedies against children of all races, histories, nationalities….I know we were created by the One who knows us better than anyone else. I also know that in the midst of the ugliness, He creates goodness. Some delights so profound you can’t help but witness Him here on earth. Today, for me, it was my little girl’s smile, my little boy’s morning hug and the kiss from my husband.

In the midst of all this suffering, our only choice is to find the beautiful in the every day and to find the hope in the One who created it.