Rockin' Adoption

Things I’ve learned

I’ve learned 3 important things today.

#1. Ben is allergic to ghosts. I’m not sure what kind of allergy test one has to go through, or how many paranormal encounters you have to have in order to relate the two but with all the hours I’ve clocked watching “sightings” as a child and “ghost hunters” I’d say I have the professional credibility to not rule out allergies. Regardless. He has an allergy. And I know this, because the kid doesn’t, no rarely hardly lies.
I wonder if this is something Zyrtec can handle?

#2. When playing the tickle game with Laney; she likes to close her eyes. There’s definitely something to be said about this wild child. She shuts her eyes tight awaiting the tickle with reckless abandon. I imagine its similar to the feeling she gets when she gets bored with me while shopping and runs off without looking back and without a sound. Or maybe it’s the same thrill as finding any sturdy object to stand on and pushing it to any counter top with anything remotely dangerous on top of it. Either way, I hope one day she grows to use her super fearless powers to do something amazing. I know she will.

#3. I am impatient and lazy. I received the Home Study paperwork yesterday as well as the Dossier forms and wanted to dive in immediately because I want things to move as quickly as possible. But I soon became overwhelmed and frustrated because I write like a left handed monkey (No offense to any owners of left handed monkeys with good penmanship). I realized that a lot of this paperwork has to be translated later on for the Ethiopian trip. I realize that it would probably expedite things a better if I don’t need a translator for my actual handwriting.
I need to set aside some time to get most of it filled out.. alone. Without children trying to take over my pen, or eat paper. I think it’ll probably invohttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.giflve some coffee. Decaff of course.

So those are three things I’ve learned.. just today. What three things have you learned today?

P.S. I leave you with this awesome video.

Edit: I don’t know how to post a video.. disregard

** Edit Edit- I figured out how to do it.. sorta.. Wendee helped.

Ethiopian Orphans from Simon Scionka on Vimeo.

Big Shout Out!

I recently “announced” the news that Paul and I are in the process of adopting on Facebook and to his parents.

The overwhelming support that we have gotten is such a great comfort and confirmation that we’re doing the right thing!

I’d like to give a HUUUGE shout out to my first two donors.

Kim Barnes- Thank you so much. I know how frugal you are and that you guys are on a strict budget. So this means a lot. Especially since we’ve never met in real life!

Liz Baughier who is an amazing Austin photographer. And an even more amazing person. She’s not only donated money but offered up her services so stay tuned for an awesome change to get your photo on!

Thank you all for your kind words and your support. I cannot tell you how much we need our friends. And I can not express into words how amazing it is that you are us give an orphan a family! We love you guys. Really and truly!

God works in mysterious ways…

But not this time. I’m going to say something that might have some if not most of you guys thinking I’m looney. But today. I got a high five. From God. Seriously.

Yesterday I took the kids to Mardel a Christian book store, and we bought two books. I picked one out simply because it had a cute cover. And the second one, because I liked the title. I know. I did everything I’m not suppose to do when judging a book. They’re children’s books, I mean, how much sustenance could they have?

So here’s the high five part. I’ve been talking to friends about the adoption and mostly about the costs and fund raising. 30k seems pretty daunting. But honestly. I really and truly have faith in this. And today, only solidifies that faith. I hope that this faith is permanent and not wavering! But I remember talking to a friend about how helping one family can have such a huge ripple effect. And wish I had a way to educate her or explain myself better… fast forward to tonight.

Anyway- I was putting the kids to bed and we decided to read the books I bought.
When I read the cover of the first one, I was like.. oh cool- its by Mary Beth & Stephen Curtis Chapman. They happen to work with our adoption Agency. What a coincidence. The book is called ” A Thunder and Lightening Bug Story” Then I read the dedication. (I’m not sure if that’s the right term, but being that I haven’t currently written any books, I don’t know the term for it) “This book is dedicated to moms, dads, brothers, and sisters who have made room in their hearts for a child who didn’t have a family.” Hi God, I hear you. My heart hears you!
This book is suuuper cute by the way. A great read for the little ones. A book I can’t wait to read my son/daughter once I get him/her in my arms.

The second book “The Boy Who Changed the World” by Andy Andrews. This is a very touching book. It basically talks about how everything we do, big or small can have such a huge impact. Its definitely something I’ve been trying to express to people. But it’s been hard to explain that helping individuals adopt is just as important as donating to larger organizations.

So folks. I loved both books. The second one was just so great. It was great hearing Ben ask me about it and explaining to him about no matter one, all good things no matter how small mean soo very much.

You may be wondering why this is my Godly high five. The books and their random meanings and just little whispers mean so much to me, and just solidify my feelings. You know when you aren’t sure about something and you just ask for a sign, beg for a sign. ANY sign..This was it!

What I got, was a Holy HIGH FIVE!

FAQ

I’ve been getting quite a few questions about my reasoning behind adoption. A lot of my friends aren’t as.. “spiritual” as I am. So its hard for them to understand why I feel the need to do something that takes soo long, thats soo expensive, and that is just out of the “norm”.
Well let me explain a little more. And as non-spiritual as possible.

Why adopt?

While I do struggle with some infertility issues, I’ve obviously been able to make babies. SUPER cute babies. And I’m saying that as non-bias as possible.
Other than the fact that its what God’s called me to do- I can say that after spending some time in foster homes as a child. I know what its like to be in the “system”. To be forgotten. And to want absolutely nothing more than to feel unconditional love. I have an incredibly soft spot for children in need. And I know that there are countries out there who aren’t as governed as ours. And although our childcare system is majorly lacking. Theirs can’t even compare. It’s like comparing apples to…. pizza!

Why not foster then?

I do absolutely plan on being a foster parent. Its definitely in my heart, and something thats very important to me. I actually even told Paul before we got married that it was something that I was going to do and if he wasn’t okay with it, we couldn’t get married. I personally do not feel the need to foster right now. As much as I would love to, I think my kids are too young just yet. And its not because I think all foster kids are crazy and dangerous and harmful around my children. The truth is, I don’t want my kids to get attached to someone who may have to leave in a week, a month, or a year. Sometimes they aren’t able to keep in touch- and although there are a lot of lessons to be learned from all of that. I’m just not prepared to have to go through with that with such young children. But, mark my words.. It WILL happen!

Why not adopt locally? There are tons of babies needing homes in Texas.

While this is very true.. there are also a lot of children.. MILLIONS more that need homes over seas. This is not me being patriotic. But where do we draw the line? What if there were more orphans in Kansas, does that mean I should adopt from there because there are more kids needing homes there? And if I do, what about Texas. My home state? Does that mean I’m turning my back on them as well. No. It just means that there is a need everywhere. If everyone only felt compelled to help within their own circle of comfort, I fear that we would be in a much worse situation.

Do you feel weird asking for money?

Absolutely I do. I remember I went to Target with a friend of mine and our kids and I forgot my wallet. We were suppose to have lunch and just walk around and she spotted me a $20. It made me soo uncomfortable. I hated using it. And I hated asking for it.
So, now here I am. Asking for a little more than a $20. And its really hard. But on the other hand. Its not. Because what I’m asking for isn’t a donation to my kids college fund. What I’m asking for is for you to help me, give an orphan a family. I love that most of you probably at one time or still do donate to orphanages. It’s amazing knowing that your money is going to help out kids in need. What I’m asking for is a more direct donation. You get to see EXACTLY where your money is going. I’m paraphrasing here but I believe in the book “Adoption without debt” the author says “its not about helping a family get a child, its about helping a child get a family”. I can think of no better way to say it.

So yes, adopting overseas is an expensive, scary, and looog process. I’m willing to do it. I have a son or daughter out there. And I’m dead serious when I say this. I have a son or daughter out there waiting for me. Maybe he/she isn’t even born yet. Maybe he/she is and they’re out there, scared, lonely, waiting. God has a plan for me and that baby.

Look Ma!

Two posts in one week! Do you guys see how serious I am about keeping up with my blog and adoption?! SOO serious, I’ve blogged twice in one week.

I wanted to post some pictures of whats been going on here in the Parker house.

Last weekend I had a pretty big wedding and since I had already paid my credit card payments and other “stuff” all the money I made went to the first portion of the adoption fee.
Ladies and gentleman.. THIS is what $1000.00 cash looks like.

(Dear FBI, before you redflag me, please know that I have a legitimate hair/makeup business and have the invoice to prove it!)

It feels really good to be able to have the money ready and available. I know that the rest probably wont come this “easy”. But it helps renew my hope that God is providing, and this is truly something he’s going to help us do.

The adoption contract and other paperwork is signed. The check is made out. What? You thought I’d be sending them cash? You’ve got to give me more credit here!
So the next step after AWAA receives the check and paperwork, were assigned a Home Study coordinator that will do a home study and help us fill out the Dossier. (Doss-E-aye). Which I think has a lot of the government paperwork needed, more detailed info on our family, and will be the deciding factor on if we do in fact get to adopt from Ethiopia. Don’t panic. AWAA wouldn’t let us get this far if they didn’t think it was possible. But Ethiopia has to give their stamp of approval as well. This process can take up to 6 months. I’m impatient. I want to start gathering all the info and documents that I need now. But I have to wait until the Home Study because the requirements may change. AAAND because I don’t as of right now, have the $3500 dollars needed to move on from this point.

I know that a lot of people wonder, if I can’t pay for the adoption on my own, how can I afford another child. There are a million beautiful answers and bible verses that I could bring up. But really, the simplest thing I can say is. I can’t afford to pay for this adoption on my own. I have debt. I have a family. I have debt. Stupid debt. But how many of you have 30k laying around that you can just hand over? Some of you may. But not all of you. This does not mean that I cannot provide for my family. It just means I wasn’t wise enough to save up better!

I wanted to give you a breakdown of the expenses. You can find them on the AWAA website, but I recently found a blog of a couple who just started the process as well and she had it listed too.

Thanks Abbey!

APPLICATION & DOSSIER BUILDING
Application Fee – $250
1st Installment of Program Fee – $1,500
Home Study (varies by state) – $1,200 – $2,500
Additional Home Study Documentation Prep. Fee (varies by process) – $0 – $100
Home Study Visit Travel Fees(could include mileage, etc. based on current federal mileage rates) – $0 – $200
Adoptive Parent Training (2 adults) – $175
Documents/Background Checks/Passports(varies by state and number of states previously lived in) – $100 – $500
USCIS Fee & Update Fee + Fingerprinting – $890 (this could be a little less if Chris’ USAF fingerprints qualify)
Notarization, Certification & Authentication – $400
SUBTOTAL: $4,515 – $6,515
DOSSIER SUBMISSION & WAITING
Courier Service – $150
2nd Installment of Program Fee – $2,000
Post Adoption Report Deposit(fully refundable if all post-adoption reports are returned on time – YAY!) – $1,000
Dossier Service & Translation – $800
1/2 International Program Fee (1 child) *** – $3,750

*** Includes the following:

America World Development Project program fee
Child’s medical exam(s)
Orphanage donation
Transitional child-rearing fee

SUBTOTAL: $7,700

REFERRAL & TRAVEL
International Specialist Consultation (varies by specialist) – $100 – $400
3rd Installment of Program Fee – $1,500
Post Adoption Administrative Fee – $385
1/2 International Program Fee (1 child) *** – $3,750
Trip 1 – Airfare (2 adults; prices will vary by season and location) – $2,400 – $4,000
Trip 1 – In-Country Travel Package (2 adults) **** – $1,400 – $2,500
Trip 1 – Visas (2 adults) – $40
Trip 2 – Airfare (2 adults; prices will vary by season and location) – $2,400 – $4,000
Trip 2 – Airfare(1 child; prices will vary by season, location and ticket – ie: lap pass or child seat) – $250 – $1,000
Trip 2 – In-Country Travel Package (2 adults) **** – $1,000 – $2,000
Trip 2 – Visas (2 adults) – $40
Visa/Embassy Fee (1 child) – $404

**** Includes the following:

Travel Coordination and Processing
Housing accommodations
Some Meals
Tour guides/Translators
In-country transportation
Gratuity to Ethiopian staff and guides

SUBTOTAL: $13,669 – $20,019

POST ADOPTION
Post Adoption Visits varies by state) – $600 – $1,200
Post Adoption Visit Travel Fees(varies by state and location from social worker) – $0 – $300
Post Adoption Report Refund(refunded in installments as, and only if, each report is returned on time) – ($1,000)
Other Costs(include doctor visit and related co-pays, social security card, passport cost, postage, long distance phone calls) – $100 – $1,000

SUBTOTAL: $(300) – $1,500

TOTAL $25,584 – $35,734

Speculation

There has been a lot of speculation on the status of my life. I’ve posted many cryptic messages and prayer requests on FB and possibly Twitter.

Am I pregnant? Moving? Pregnant… the answer to this is no. not really.

(Is it creepy that I used this picture of some random persons positive pregnancy test off google?)

If you know me personally you know that I have a passion for child welfare. You know that I want to, and will become a foster parent some day. Probably not anytime too soon. But it WILL happen. So my next bit of information/news will probably not come as a real shock to any of you. Paul and I, have decided to adopt. Well, we can’t really take the credit for it, because I know that full heartily that God has put this on our hearts and its what He’s called us to do. And who am I to argue with the big Man up stairs? After doing a ton of research I’ve learned that there are over 165 MILLION orphans world wide. Is that not an insane number? Paul and I have decided to adopt from Ethiopia.
The need seems to be pretty great there. I originally wanted to adopt from Rwanda or Uganda but Africa is on an adoption freeze while they try to regulate their adoption procedures Sadly far too many kids are being adopted and sold into child slavery and child trafficking. There are are almost 5 million orphans in Ethiopia alone. Ethiopia is also the only country in Africa not supported by the African government. The doctor to patient ratio is unbelievable. I don’t have the numbers right now but I’ll post about them at a later time.

I’ve been asked why not local adoption. And the easiest answer is- Its not where I’m being called. Its that complex, but simple. I truly without a shred of doubt feel we’re being called to adopt overseas.
Why not an Asian baby you ask? Well first, the wait times for China are like 2-5 years. And we don’t meet the requirements for Korea. And once again, it just doesn’t feel like where I’m needed the most.
I’ve been hesitant (Pardon the I’s and not We or Paul and I, but its actually my personal blog so its easier to say I, but do know- that Paul backs me 100%) to blog about it or talk about it without telling the inlaws (Paul’s family) first because we aren’t sure what the reaction will be. Don’t get me wrong, Paul’s family is AMAZING and they love us dearly, as we do them. But this is definitely something out of their comfort zone. Its not something you see or hear about every day. I’ve had mixed reactions from my own family. And I think that the family has financial concerns. Legitimate concerns. Ones we have as well.

A big concern on a lot of peoples minds is the financial aspect, as well as how our kids will handle it.
I can assure you though that God would not ask me to do something that he wouldn’t back up fully and completely. Sure, adoption is expensive. Crazy expensive. No, I don’t have 25K + laying around. I may never. But I know that I have the will to make this happen. By the Grace of God it will happen! I think the majority of adopters do a lot of fund raising to help finance their adoption, which is something I plan on doing. I’m also cutting back on a lot of things. (Ahem.. my shopping addiction.)
There are several grants I’ll be applying for as well.

So if your wondering if I can afford to do this. My answer is. I can’t afford not to. I can’t live my life knowing what I know now about whats going on in the world with all the orphans, whats happening in Ethiopia and knowing that God has called me to do something, and if I would just put all of my trust in Him, it will be done. I can’t live the rest of my life regretting not doing anything and I can’t raise my children to be sideline children.
That brings me to my kids. I would NEVER ever do anything that would harm my children or cause them any emotional distress. Not on purpose anyway. I don’t see how this would impact my children negatively. I want them to learn to love. Love blindly. Colorlessly, and without limitations. I don’t want them to ever believe that good, is impossible.
I don’t want anyone to think I’m being naively optimistic about this whole thing. I have a TON of fear and doubts. But I’m doing what I can to stay positive and put my trust in Him, because as he promised…
” 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 8:2

So- in closing. I may not have a lot of money. I may actually have more debt than money. I may not have a big house, fancy new car, and covered in shiny diamonds. But I can tell you that I do have a wonderful family, great kids, LOTS and LOTS of love to give, and most importantly, I have an awesome God who has stirred my heart, who wont let me sit idly by saying I care, but not caring enough to do anything.

So friends, family, and strangers. Be prepared. Because I have a child, who I’ve never met, but already love soo much that I am willing to humble myself for and beg people for help. Whether its financial, or volunteer, or spreading the word. I now have a donation option up, and will soon be selling fundraising items, and have several crafty friends donating items for sale. All money earned will go towards the adoption fund.

Below are some facts about Ethiopia:
*Life expectancy in Ethiopia 39 years for males and 42 years for females. The leading cause of death is communicable diseases such as malaria, typhoid, meningitis, cholera, AIDS, tuberculosis, yellow fever.
* One in ten children die before their first birthday
* One in six children die before their fifth birthday
* Woman have an average of 7 children and the maternal mortality rate is 1 in 14
* Ethiopia’s neonatal mortality rate is one of the highest in the world – 49/1000 births with tetanus infection being the second major cause of infant/neonatal death.
* Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries in the world. Over half the population lives on less than a $1 a day. The average income in Ethiopia is US$100 a year. Almost 82% of the population lives on less than $1 a day.
* Malnutrition levels are among the highest in the world.
* Ethiopia is home to 4-6 million orphans, or 12% of all children.
* That is the same number of children under age 18 who reside in Massachusetts, New York State, and Washington DC combined. If every parent in those places died tonight – that would be similar to Ethiopia’s orphan crisis.
*More than half a million of these were orphaned as a result of AIDS.
*Only 42.7% age 15 and over can read and write.
*Only 18% or children reach grade five. That means 82% of children don’t.
*44% of the population is under 15 years old.
*60% of children in Ethiopia are stunted because of malnutrition.
*Ethiopia’s doctor to children ratio is 1 to 24,000
*Per capita, Ethiopia receives less aid than any other country in Africa
*Coffee prices (Ethiopia’s only major export) declined 40-60% from 1998-2002
*Severe drought struck the country from 2000-2002: first year no crops, second year no crops, third year no animals