Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Currently . . .

We are finished all the paperwork for the home study and we are about halfway through the 8-hour Hague certification. Once we have received our Hague certificate all home study requirements should be complete. Then all we will need is to pay the home study fee and we can begin the dossier to send to Albania.

A Couple of Neat Events

First, as everyone knows, the auto industry has been hurting and with it so has my paycheck. We are trusting God completely and he has been absolutely faithful. After the first of the year we received notice from Bethany that due to economic circumstances we would have to resubmit our financial paperwork. We knew that it was likely that we would not meet NCIS standards. We commited this to the Lord in prayer. The case worker emailed us saying that it would not be necessary to resubmit the paperwork; they would just use the information that our accountant gave them last year. This was actually a projection for this year which was based on what I had made over the last few years, which does meet NCIS standards.

Second, we were told that Jen's passport would take three weeks. As you can see from the timeline in the previous post, it took only 10 days!

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28

Timeline - 2008 - Present

September 2nd - Began recording CD

September 23rd - We had our first meeting with our case worker. Lots of paperwork to sign, and lots of paperwork to take home.

November 4th - Fingerprinted for the state of Georgia at Toccoa Police Dept.

November 22nd - Meet with case worker at Bethany in Atlanta for our individual interviews.

December 8th - Blood work tested at Health Dept.

January 5th - Physicals

January 6th - Jen mails application for passport.

January 8th - Septic Inspection.

January 10th - Case worker visits our home. Started the required 8 hour Hague certification.

January 16th - Animals updated on their shots. Jen's passport arrives in the mail.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Yard Sales

Sept 20 & 27th - We held two yard sales to raise money for the adoption. We contacted as many people as we could (mostly in our church) to donate items for the sale. For weeks it was stacked and stored in our garage. So much so that I ended up having to park on the street.

We are so thankful for the friends and family that God has given us. Many donated stuff to sell. Several friends came by the day before and helped price and tag everything. Jen's parents helped load and unload an entire garage-full of stuff both Saturdays. Our wonderful friends, the Ord family, loaned us their trailer for both days, let us invade their front yard for the first sale, cooked us breakfast and lunch, and gave up their entire Saturday serving us. Other friends stopped by throughout the day just to keep us company and show their support.

The second Saturday we were able to use a local business' parking lot right on the main strip in town. The Salvation Army was conveniently located directly across the street. At the end of the day we donated the remaining unsold items to them.

The first Saturday, we made $555.55. No kidding. That's five 5's for our fifth child. Now I'm not one to make too much of this sort of thing, but every once in a while I've got enough sense to pay attention. I told Jen that there was something more to this, although I wasn't sure what. We prayed and asked God to show us if there was more to the numbers. I know that throughout scripture certain numbers have signifigance(i.e. 3=trinity,7= completion). I would have to research the number 5.

The next day I was sharing this with a good friend at church. It turned out that he had spent some amount of time researching this very thing. Giving numerous examples from scripture, he explained that the number 5 signifies God's grace and provision! Another confirmation that God would supply our every need along the way.

Between the two Saturday's we raised $898.75. At the same time, over the course of our journey we'd been receiving anonymous donations in our mailbox at church. So altogether, between yard sales and anonymous donations, we've received $1551.75. Thank you, Jesus!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Application Fee

Originally, we were expecting to receive enough in our stimulus check to be able to cover the cost of the $550.00 application fee. However, Uncle Sam let us down. So at this point our only option was to pray. So we asked God on June 17th to provide the money.

We continued praying for a month. We never asked for it from others. When asked where we were at in the process, we responded that we were waiting on the $550.00 for the application fee.

We were heading up north for our yearly trip home to see our families. Jen was hoping that, by the time we left, the application fee would have been paid. She really wanted to be able to tell our families that we had "officially" started the process.

As the date of our departure drew near she asked how I intended to pay for the fee. I told her that it would pretty much have to fall from the sky. We were, after all, about to leave on a 2,000 mile road trip amidst record high gas prices. It wasn't like we had $550.00 just lying around. So we kept praying.

Sunday morning, July 13th, we found an envelope in our church mailbox with exactly $550.00 cash. This was the start of God's provision, and the moment we realized that He even cared about our silly little desires. Thank you, Jesus!! You are so faithful!!

May 30th, 2008

We attempted to fill out the online application. We accidentally sent it only partially finished. We would have to wait until Bethany received it, realized it was incomplete and sent it back for us to finish it.

Normally, Jen would have freaked out because she is highly task oriented. We had heard enough from other families that there would be plenty of delays along the way, but Jen was determined not to have any of them due to us. However, she had peace. She knew that everything, including the timing, was all in God's hands. Within the week we were able to have the application filled out and the process had begun.


We had our orientation meeting on May 21st 2008. Here we would have the opportunity to meet with the director of international adoption with Bethany, have any questions answered, and hear testimonies from other families who had worked with Bethany.

We were specifically searching for a country that would not require such a long stay. At this point, all we knew was that God apparently had directed us to Albania. That night we found out we would have a long referral period with Albania and a long stay once we were there. We figured they would try to redirect us to another country, something that would suit us better. As we talked with the director her response surprised us. She said that if Albania is where God directed you then go for it. The staff at Bethany are all about finding your child and believe that it is all in God's hands. Finances or time should not hold you back from adopting. Their experience seemed to reveal something of the mystery of God's sovereignty and how our stumbling onto Albania was not an accident. What an encouraging confirmation!

We made the decision beforehand that we, in no way, would incur any debt in this process. We knew that if God was calling us into this, then He would make total provision. So, if He was going to fund this adoption then He would cover all of it, including time off from work and travel expenses.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Why Bethany and Why Albania?

Immediately, Jen began searching the internet, devouring everything she could about adoption. Of course, Googling adoption wil bring up 14 gazillion websites offering their services. Some were religious, some were not. Some were more expensive, some were less. Some went only to certain countries, some went only to certain other countries. We suddenly found ourselves having to identify not only what our values in this process were, but also finding an organization that best lined up with what we wanted.

Then there was the matter of choosing a country. Did God have a specific country that we were to be looking at. It made no difference to us, but again only certain agencies worked out of certain countries. Should we choose an agency and then pick the country, or vice versa? Every day I would come home from work and receive a briefing on all the information Jen had found online that day. At the same time we really wanted to get started but the first orientation meeting in our area was a month away.

At one point, Jen asked me if I was at all excited about any of this. I told her that truthfully, I was completely overwhelmed with this decision. I would be happy if I could just pick a child out of a catalog, or something. Every option made the decision more difficult. She asked what we should do, I responded,"Let's just pray that God would make it clear."

The next day, May 7, 2008 Jen was talking with a friend who asked if we had looked into Bethany Christian Services(Check it out
http://bethany.org/). When I got home we looked at their site and were amazed at the scope of their work. Suddenly, there was no other option. Why would we use another agency that only swapped our money for a kid and then was gone? As we looked further, we saw that they were offering a special orientation meeting that month, 2 weeks earlier and an hour closer.

As we searched the website, we saw that they provided adoptions from Albania, a country we hadn't seen with any other organizations. As it turns out Bethany is only one of two organizations that are allowed to operate in Albania. Doing a little more research we discovered that Albania is considered a third world country in Europe. It was then that we remembered Rachel's criteria for adopting (see previous post). Within 24 hours God had answered our prayer and led us straight to the agency and country.

Some other points in our decision for Albania

  1. 70% Muslim population

  2. During the Holocaust gave harbor to the Jews

  3. War torn until recent years

The Beginning

As a couple, we always had adoption on our hearts, just in the back of our minds as something neat to do. If nothing else, our lives would be given to provide a home and family to a child without one.
After having kids of our own, the thought fell to the wayside. After having four, we were ready to be done.
In the early spring of 2008, Jen began remembering this desire and started asking questions. My response was sure it would be a great thing to do, but with all we had on our plates already was God calling us to follow him in this way. I always knew that any needy child would be welcomed and loved in our home as one of our own, but was this really God's plan for us.
Jen asked the kids if they would be willing to adopt. They were all on board except one, our second daughter Rachel(6). Jen told the kids that Daddy wasn't sure if God wanted us to do this, so they needed to pray that I would hear from Him what we were to do.
As a family, we were reading about Roland and Heidi Baker's work in Mozambique. There they work with orphans that literally live and eat in the dumps. It was after reading one of their stories that Rachel agreed that we should adopt. However, her one criteria was that we had to adopt a child that had eaten out of the trash!
On April 27th, 2008 a woman at our church was giving an update as to where they were at with their adoption. As she spoke, it suddenly occured to me that if God had placed the desire and capacity in our hearts to love and welcome a child as our own, then He intended for that to be filled