Wednesday, October 31, 2007

525,600 minutes...

So it has officially been a year since we sent our application in to CCAI to see if we would be accepted to their adoption program. A whole year! Last Halloween about this time I was sitting at my desk thinking "Wow - our lives are about to change." And man have they ever.

I am reminded of that song from Rent (one of Laura's favorite productions) that says:

525,600 minutes, 525,000 moments so dear.
525,600 minutes - how do you measure, measure a year?
In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee.
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.
In 525,600 minutes - how do you measure a year in the life?
How about love? How about love? How about love?
Measure in love. Seasons of love.

Here's a look back at the last year and where God has led us.

October 31, 2006
Around 2:00 - full of nerves and apprehension - I dropped off our application packet and a check to cover the application fee at the CCAI offices. Wow - we were really doing this! I drove straight home - called Laura and told her that CCAI said our packet looked complete and we should hear something within 7 days. At 4:30 PM that day we got an email with this in it:

November 2006 - February 2007
They don't call it "The Paperchase" for nothing. That is all we did for a good couple of months. Papers from Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia - send them to Houston, to Washington, D.C., to New York. Visiting various federal buildings in Atlanta. Staying Busy. The holidays came in the midst of all of this and we're not gonna lie - they were hard. We always thought we'd have some little Lauras or Tymms running around by now - and decorating the tree was hard. God was so with us that night - I am pretty sure I felt him hanging ornaments on the tree with us.

March 2007
Wow. What a month for us. We'd spent quite a bit of time at Emory Reproductive clinic the past 5 months or so. We had just tried an IUI and almost immediately I got on a plane to head to Africa for 2 weeks for a mission trip. My mind was everywhere. My wife was back home, wondering if she was pregnant. I was somewhere over the Atlantic ocean - wishing Laura was with me or me with her or something.

It took about 30 hours to get to Capetown and finally be able to talk to Laura. Here I am on the other side of the world - and Laura has to tell me that the IUI wasn't successful. I was mad - not really mad at God - just mad. It didn't feel fair. Then Laura told me she had found out we were officially logged in with China.

How cool is God? If I had any doubts about us adopting He wiped them clear right then and there. I was happy and sad at the same time - and looking back I think thats the point where we stopped trying to control this thing and handed it over 100% to God - and He has been nothing short of incredible with His grace and faith to us since then.

I spent the next 2 weeks sharing God's love with the kids of Africa. I told myself - "soak this in Tymm - you'll probably never be back here again." I met so many cool kids, learned a lot about myself and witnessed a global God like I had never seen before.



April 2007
I ran my first half marathon. That has zero to do with our adoption or this blog or anything for that matter. But I am posting it cuz I did it. It was off-road, in the woods and it was great. Not as hard as I thought it would be and I think a full marathon is completely attainable at some point. This is how I planned on passing the time til we go to China - by running.

May 2007 - July 2007
Waiting. Man - that is what we're doing now. I am thinking to myself - "Did I mess around and pray for patience or something? Cuz this is tough..." The wait for China has increased and when you're not chasing documents or running from one office to another - it seems like time is standing still. So we wait.

And we go to First Friday - an awesome event sponsored by Susan and Dan Chapman to help mentor and provide support for those who are thinking about adopting from China, waiting for an adoption from China or who have completed one already. We have met so many great friends there and have gotten so much out of it. It has definitely made the wait so much more bearable.

August 2007
One late night phone call later and Laura and I find ourselves fumbling around with the question "Have ya thought about Africa? Ethiopia in particular?" Well - no. Not really. I mean Africa has a forever place in my heart as my life was changed earlier this year there. But do you mean - adopting from there? We know God had led us directly to China and He has a wonderful plan for our child that will come from that country - we didn't want to do anything to mess that up. But now we have this nagging thought in our head - this constant buzzing in our brain about Africa.

Well - ya know - we knew we wanted to have siblings - at least 2 kids. And with the way things were looking in China - it could be a LONG time for that to happen (it's gonna speed up I know it is). So maybe we should explore this Africa idea. And explore we did. And man, I'll be darned if God didn't just lay it right out there for us - it wasn't about us. Or about the number of kids we wanted or siblings we felt that our kids should have. Or how we saw our family. This was about how He saw our family. How He was making our family - and it hit me like a lightning bolt in a dream (no joke) - I woke Laura up at 4:00 AM and said "We are supposed to do this - we are supposed to adopt from Africa too." We went and met with an adoption agency here in Atlanta that was willing to do a concurrent adoption and we loved them - they are great people with great hearts and huge love for Africa. I don't think a week had passed from the dream to where we were now - filling out the application and sending it in. We're adopting from Ethiopia now too!

September 2007
Guess what we're doing again? That's right - the chase is on. It's easier this time - we kinda overdid it during China so we had a lot of extra documents - ones we needed for Ethiopia as well. That saved us a lot of time. We love our China adoption agency so much that we decided to use them to do our Ethiopia homestudy. They were so excited for us and so helpful during the whole process.

There was a lot of confusion with the USCIS and how to do what and CCAI stepped up and helped us out through all of that. I spoke directly with our match department and they assured me everything was fine and they're confidence gave us confidence that this could go off smoothly.

After another round of doctor visits, physicals, background checks and just about anything else you can think of - we finally turned all of our paperwork in to the Ethiopian Agency on September 27, 2007 (minus our Homestudy).

October 2007
Whew. Here we are. A year later. An adoption from China in process, a mission trip to Africa under my belt, another adoption from Ethiopia in process. I have been praying for so long for God to give me clarity - what does He want to use me for in this life? And I just now realized that I think He may be setting us straight on our path. I am thankful that God is patient and loving and slow to anger and quick to forgive.

On October 30, 2007 at 4:09 PM our dossier was signed for in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It is being translated now and soon after they will start looking for a match. God already knows who it is - so really, He is going to let them translate our paperwork and then He'll lead them to our child.

Thank you to everyone who has prayed for us, stood with us during the down times and praised with us during the awesome times. We can't wait to see what next year is going to bring us.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Eagle Has Landed...

Feels like a part of us has made it to our child's land. Pretty cool.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Great Ethiopia Story

Here is a beautiful adoption story from Ethiopia that you MUST watch. THIS is why Tymm and I will go to the ends of the earth for our children...Just as Jesus has done for us!

And I thought 7 was a lot!

Yesterday, Tymm, our good friend Tony and myself took off at Cheatham Hill (a trail in the woods) for the longest run of my life! We ran a total of 11.2 miles!!! This is my personal record and I am so proud of us...AND it was ALL MY IDEA! Tony thought I was down right crazy when I came up with that one.

BUT, we did it and I am so happy. It was a wonderful way to spend 2 hours with 2 very good friends. The day was gorgeous, sunny and 70 degrees and being outside just made me downright happy. It gave me time to think about where God has brought us over the past 3 years and I would not trade where we are for anything!

As I was running, I found myself daydreaming of the day we get our referral, both Ethiopia's and China's. We are hopeful that the E-referral will be in the next 3 months, if not even sooner! Tears stung my eyes as I imagined hearing the voice of our Adoption Coordinator, on the other end of the phone telling us if we have a boy or a girl and then seeing the pictures for the first time. Boy, am I ready for this baby...I know that God will watch over our children until we are united.

Anyway, here is a big thank you to my wonderful husband and great friend Tony for coming out and joining me on my "Sunday Physical Challenge". It means so much to me to have friends that enjoy getting outside and running with me. Both Tymm and Tony really encourage me to keep going...I couldn't do it without them.

I don't say it enough, so thanks, T & T!

Laura

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

DTE!!! (Documents to Ethiopia)

Well, we got the GREATEST email from our Agency today (execept the one telling us we have a referral...sometime in the future)! They wrote to tell us that our dossier was back from D.C where it was authenticated by the Ethiopian Consulate and was shipped TODAY via DHL to Ethiopia!!

I asked our Coordinator to send me the tracking number so I could stalk DHL myself and not drive her crazy everyday asking if the package had gotten there yet.

YIPPEE! We are so excited! The paperchase took about 2 months and soon we should hear when our dossier is out of translation. I am not sure how long that takes, but once finished, they start looking for match!

Here is a great link for information on Ethiopia, and any other country you wish to know more about.

Ethiopia Information

Laura

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Hangin' at the crib!

Hi, everyone! It has been a while since I have posted, so I thought I make my husband happy and write a bit!

This past weekend we used our Babies-R-Us gift card, from my aunt and uncle, and bought the mattress for the crib! We also went and picked up the crib bedding we ordered and ran home (after a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte, of course) and put it all together!




We are so excited! Clay (our golden retriever) is very curious about the bed and is constantly sniffing around the bed...he and Peanut KNOW something is up!



Our documents will hopefully be shipped to Ethiopia by the end of the week....praying praying praying on that! After that, the process is a bit vague. The average wait for a child referral is 3 months. We have trusted the Lord thus far, so we will keep on trusting!



Thanks again for all your prayers for our little ones! We know God is watching over them while we wait.

Laura

Monday, October 22, 2007

Hallmark Going Red

Join us in welcoming Hallmark as the newest member of the (RED) family!

Just in time for the holidays, there is a (RED) way to wrap all of your gift items and connect with your friends and family using Hallmark (PRODUCT) RED cards and flowers.


Now, when sending a card or gift, you can also help eliminate AIDS in Africa and spread (RED) to people you love!

Click here to see the Hallmark (PRODUCT) RED collection.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Something New To Me

A lady bug, a panda bear;
A bamboo sprout and jet black hair;

It all means something new to me today.
Embassies and Notaries;
D-T-C and L-I-D;
It all means something new to me today.
HIV, Hep B and C;
Hypocrisy and Jealousy;
It all means something new to me today.
Currency and what it's worth;
Adoption really no different than birth;
It all means something new to me today.
The wait is hard. The wait is long;
Just be patient. Just be strong;
It all means something new to me today.
God is good. God is great.
Let us thank Him for this day;
It all means something new to me today.
In the east or in the west;
A kid's a kid - there is no best;
It all means something new to me today.
When all is said and all is done;
With God and Love, we've surely won;
It all means something new to me today.

Friday, October 12, 2007

It Could Be Nice To Be Alive

Adoption is an interesting world. To some it is just a fleeting though - they know someone who knows someone who is adopting. But to others - to the ones involved in an adoption - it can consume every moment of your everyday. You wake up with it - eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner - and then go to sleep with it.

The beauty of it all though is just how ALIVE it can make you feel. After the years of struggling, the months of testing, the surgeries, the counting days, the stress, the drama, the tears, the letdowns, the fatigue, the anger - trying to have a baby can leave you exhausted and lifeless. We know.

God knew too. That's why He opened our eyes to adoption and with a simple wave of His mighty hand, He took away all that pain we had been living under. He is that big. He cares so much about us that He gave us this "adoption option" and He surrounded that with His glory. And THAT will make you feel more alive than you'd ever know.

We have learned a lot in the past year. We've learned paperwork can consume you whole. We've learned that the wait for China will be so worth it. We've learned that the wait for Ethiopia will be short but still seem so long - and it too will be worth it. We've learned to love. And we've learned to be alive.

I am going to end this with the immortal words of one of my favorite bands of all time - the Beastie Boys:

Dip dip dive, so socialize
Open up your ears and clean out your eyes
If you learn to love you're in for a suprise
It could be nice to be alive

- "Alive" (Beastie Boys)

Monday, October 8, 2007

Thank You Single Sisters!

God showed up at our house this weekend. Seriously. You know what He looked like? A stack of envelopes. Who would have thought? Let me explain...

Laura's mom (Sandra) heads up a group at her church called the "Single Sisters." They are a group of women providing support and friendship to each other as they go through life. Sandra puts in a ton of time and effort to this group - just recently she organized a trip that close to 50 single sisters went on. Laura was able to go along on this trip and spend some precious time with her mom and this great group of people.

So now - fast forward to this past weekend. Sandra was in town to go to our First Friday meeting with us. She showed up Friday afternoon and had a stack of cards for us. Wouldn't you know that some of those single sisters had taken the time and effort to write us some precious notes and donate some of their very hard earned money towards our adoption? We were overwhelemed - they had sent close to $600 for us to use towards the adoption fees and costs (which seem to never end).

We wanted to say a huge THANK YOU to the Single Sisters from the First Christian Church in Kernersville, NC. You guys have no idea what your love and generosity means to us. Thank you so much to

Sandra - Linda - Bonnie L. - Patsy - Phyllis - Carolyn - Reba - Judy - Connie - Robin - Michelle - Bonnie S.

And to demonstrate just how relevant it was and how great our God is - we have a pretty big fee we will be paying this month to the USCIS as we get fingerprinted and approved for clearance to bring home a baby from Ehtiopia.

We were not really stressing over it because God has been so incredibly good to us - and here He came once again - looking like a stack of envelopes. Thank you guys. It is really really cool to see God live and shine through people on this earth.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Stand Up Act Now

I told myself from the beginning of our adoption process that I was going to stay relevant to our adoption here on the blog and not become a raging activist or anything nuts. But you know what I have discovered is this: you can't really have a heart for adoption or a heart for a particular area of the world without having the specific needs and issues of that area lay heavy on your heart and mind.

So, with that in mind I wanted to share this music video with you. I have been blessed with a great friend in life who is incredibly talented. He is an amazing singer, producer and all around artist. He has been involved in many successful projects - one of them being a tour of Africa last year. From that experience he and his group AFAR created a new song on their just released album talking about the water issue (pretty much everywhere it seems).

I am proud to call him a friend and love that he is using the skill God gave him to reach out to people.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Agency Visit

Okay, so it is finally time for me to write my very first blog entry! So last Thursday my dear friend, Mareba and I went over to our Ethiopian agency's office to official turn in all but one of the dossier documents! YEA!

Mareba was one of our personal references and she wrote a letter for us and needed to have it notarized while we were there....that was an excuse I came up with to get her to go with me! Anytime she and I are out and about together, you can bet it will be an adventure!

So we head over to the office and go inside. From there I proceed to sit down with the agency owner, our adoption coordinator and their notary. We go through all 13 documents, one by one, confirming they are all signed and notarized properly.

We then get into a discussion about Ethiopia and the situation there and how things are going. We talk about the major slow down in China, and although it is difficult for all of us adopting from there, the slowdown has definitely shed light on other countries and the desperate need to adopt all over the world. Our agency says that Africa is really on fire right now with more adoptions, so this is wonderful news!! Babies will be coming home!!

I was so happy that Mareba got to go with me and experience such an important day with me. It meant so much to have her there...my sister in Christ. Like she said, it was like she was there for the ultrasound! I love that and I love her...

So in case I don't tell you enough, Mareba...I love you. Your friendship has truly been given to me from the hand of God.

Laura