Monday, September 29, 2008

Rollercoaster week

This week will be one of those that we'll look back on and try to figure out how we got through it.

My grandfather passed away Saturday morning. He has been going downhill for the past few months; honestly, since my grandma passed away on New Years Day 2007. He had lived a full life of 92 years, being married over 65 of those...

So, I just got the rental car and we're driving the 7+ hours up to my parent's today/tonight. Today is Amber's birthday ... it stinks she has to be stuck in a car all day for that. Hopefully, I can make it up to her soon. She wouldn't have it any other way though. The funeral is tomorrow and we'll drive back on Wednesday. Amber and I will work on Thursday and Friday and then fly out to Baltimore Friday night for my cousin's wedding Saturday. We fly back Sunday afternoon and back to work on Monday.


It's even a bigger rollercoaster for my cousin getting married and his family as he, his mom (my aunt), and his sister drove out yesterday (I think) to Chicago and then driving back Tuesday night to get back for the wedding. His dad has been going through chemo for cancer. God's hand has been on him and he's doing relatively well but PLEASE pray for my Uncle Dave for complete healing from his cancer.

Also, please pray for safety of everyone traveling, for peace for my family, and for my cousin's wedding. Thank you.

I know that my grandpa is complete and whole now. I also know that my grandpa is happy to see his bride :)

Friday, September 26, 2008

State Certified

Another thing got crossed off the list today ... I got the 'joy' of going to downtown Nashville over lunch to get our Power of Attorney document state certified. Parking is always an adventure in Nashville ... I found a parking garage, pulled in, and immediately had the security guard inform me that it was a private garage. There were boatloads of open spaces and made me wonder who were the private people?? Nevertheless, traveled down the road a bit and found a $6/hour spot. Honestly, that isn't bad since I had many opportunities when I lived in Chicago-land to experience $15 short-term parking. I went to the 6th floor of the Snodgrass Tower, gave them our document, traveled to the 7th floor to pay my $2 charge, and came back down to pick up my document.

I had an interesting conversation with the 23 year old girl who I picked up my document from. She asked if the document was for an adoption so I got to share our story. She told me that she had legal responsibility of her 16 year old sister ... amazing story. It made me stand back and realize how much this 23 year old (who looked 16 herself) had on her plate. She told her sister to stay home from school today as there was a threat at her school of a riot. There was a gang shooting at her school in the past week and today was a potential retaliation ... thankfully, I don't think anything happened but man, what in the world is going on!?!

Other updates ... Amber had her individual interview on Tuesday. Unfortunately, we have to wait until Monday, October 6th for our home visit. I think everything else for our home study is in.

We were hoping to get our I-600A mailed in this week and we didn't get it in. We have it ready except for copies of our birth certificates and marriage certificate ... we will do those on Monday and get it mailed Monday/Tuesday.

Only a couple other things we know about ... we have to get the photocopies of our passport photo pages notarized ... we honestly just forgot about those. We also have taken pictures of ourselves and our house ... just have to get them developed.

Have a good weekend ... I think Amber and I are going to do some hiking tomorrow ... it'll be good to hang out together out in God's creation ... have a good weekend!

Monday, September 22, 2008


OK, not really ... but it really feels like it. We finished our class on Saturday and we also finished up our online class last night. So all our parenting 'homework' is done. I can't tell you how happy I am for that. Not that I didn't learn a ton through our 160 page workbook, 2 all day Saturday classes, and 12 online parenting lessons, but I honestly have to say I'm ready for the next steps.

I had my individual interview with our home study agency today. Our social worker is great and she made the whole process relatively painless. She had asked me last week if an intern could sit in on our interview for learning purposes so it was the 3 of us in the interview. Nothing really surprised me ... questions about parenting, our marriage, my health (I had scoliosis surgery 13 years ago), etc, etc. I think probably the hardest question was to sum up Amber in 5 words ... she doesn't even know these 5 words but they were...gentle, loving, stubborn, loves Jesus. I think she would agree with all those....and she has her interview tomorrow so she can get me back. We will then schedule our home visit. Amber will also be taking the I600A form with her tomorrow to ensure everything is filled out correctly so we can get that mailed out this week.

I put our social worker on the spot today to ask her about the timeline of getting the home study done. She said that once the home visit is done and we get the child abuse background check back from the state, they say 30 days to get a draft home study complete. She said she hopes it should not take that long. That draft will get sent to us, to her supervisor, and to AGCI. Hopefully, the turn around for edits is days and then days to get the final one complete. She said that worst would be November .... we're praying that it is sometime in October.

We also got the rest of the documents for our dossier notarized. We have to still get our Power of Attorney county certified and state certified. I'm hoping to get it county certified tomorrow and then get down to Nashville one day this week to get it state certified.

We definitely feel like we are getting close to where we are not in control anymore. Our social worker informed me today to realize that we won't have control much longer and that we need to be prepared for 'feelings' to arise while we aren't in control. These feelings center around us (er, Amber) not being pregnant and having our own child. Amber and I have talked openly over the past couple months about this and we both have an incredible amount of peace about this journey. This is a God opportunity and that is the only way we can explain our feelings. It is something we will definitely be open in discussion about but I know God is preparing us for something bigger and outside of our little imaginations...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

AGCI Conference Call and African Street Festival

We had our biweekly call with Julie today. She said we are doing good and making great progress. Our hope is to have almost everything done prior to our next call in 2 weeks. Open items on our list to get done are...

  • Home study with Miriam's Promise. I was supposed to have my individual interview today; however, our social worker called yesterday and she had a terrible case of laryngitis. So, it got rescheduled to next Monday and Amber's is next Tuesday. With our parenting classes finished this weekend, only possible open item we know of is the home visit. Sweet.
  • Online parenting class - we have completed 5 of 12 lessons and should have these complete in the next week.
  • Power of Attorney form. We have to get this guy notarized, county certified, and state certified. This needs to be high on our list to get done soon.
  • Statement of Reason to Adopt
  • Photographs of our house and ourselves
  • Financial Statement (this will be the 3rd financial statement that we've filled out and, of course, each one has been different)
  • Two references for Dossier - we've contacted our references and they graciously accepted. We're so grateful to Susan/Andy and Amy/Paul ... thank you for all your help!
  • Obligation of Post Placement Report form

Also, we did not know how the timing of getting on the referral list worked. We were VERY happy tonight in what Julie told us AGCI does. They don't want for the I171H form (the form from Immigration) to be received before putting us on the list. Being that Memphis is S-L-O-W in getting those out, we were very pleased to find this out. So, once we get everything above done, our social worker completes the home study, and our dossier is approved by AGCI, we will officially be on the list! How GREAT is that!?!? THANK YOU LORD JESUS ... THAT IS AWESOME NEWS!

Also, if you live near/around Nashville, there is an African Street Festival going on this weekend at Tennessee State University. Amber and I are going to try to go to the Block Party on Friday ... it'd be great to meet up ... let us know if you're going!

Here's a link about the Festival.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Parenting 101

We had our first of two parenting class today ... and it actually went by fairly quickly for a 6 hour day. There was some overlap from some other studies we've had to do, but it was really good to be in a room with 5 other couples all going about the same thing. One couple was adopting from China (they have one daughter from China and adopting another one ... prolly 3+ year wait), one Russia (having major issues/delays due to government), one undecided, one leaning towards Russia, and one other from Ethiopia ... the Seays. We had actually seen their blog before but it is really cool to see how God has grown their family. Amy informed us that there was a Ethiopian Adoption Support Group that meets about 30 miles away from us so that was awesome to hear about that. It was also interesting to hear the family adopting from China say that they are still friends with people from their first adoptions's homestudy and travel groups. We will finish this classroom time next Saturday. However, all this adoption talk made Amber say her patented phrase: "I want our baby now!" :)

Amber and I were just talking this past week how blessed we feel about our adoption process so far. A ton of work but we've had no major barriers so far ... we know there is a long way to go and anything can happen but we feel we're seeing miracles in our daily prayers for our adoption, the process, our child, and his/her birth family and their salvation. Please continue to pray for all that ... we are so grateful for the prayers of God's people.

I got my passport in the mail today! That was quick ... I mailed it out on August 29th ... impressive.

We also had a non-adoption milestone occur last night as well ... Amber's Toyota Camry rolled over the 200,000 mile mark. I love that car and use it as my daily driver for my 75 mile roundtrip to work. I feel very comfortable in that car and would drive it anywhere. It's going to be hard to convince me to buy anything else when that one is ready to retire. We're hoping that time is not soon as we need to get through our adoption and settled into our new budget with Amber going part time.

More gas price gouging ranting ... I saw it for $4.59/gallon today! That is a full $1 over what it was prior to Ike ... and there is no way the price made it from the refineries to the pump that quick ... especially when down the road it is $3.79. And this makes it even more unbelievable...

"Ike landed near the nation's biggest complex of refineries and petrochemical plants, and already, prices were reacting. Gas prices nationwide rose nearly 6 cents a gallon to $3.733, according to auto club AAA, the Oil Price Information Service and Wright Express."

It's unfortunate but I have to keep mental notes of the gouging places and never get gas from them.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Food & Frustration

Amber and I went to Raz'z restaurant in a neighboring town, Smyrna, tonight. The restaurant is owned and ran by Raz ... a Nigerian born immigrant. The food was great and Raz came out and walked the restaurant and talked to each table which we thought was cool. Well, Africa of course came up and we informed him that we were adopting from Ethiopia. He was excited and said "We all have the same flesh; we are all human beings." Amen! We are also all God's children no matter what color, nationality, social status, eye color, hair color, shoe size, nose length, or waist size. He loves us in a way that we'll never understand until we see Him face to face.

Coming home, we noticed gas prices have jumped 50+ cents per gallon today due to IKE. Man, that burns me up. It's not like there was time for the companies to feel the effect from the refineries being shut down today. I can't stand price gouging ... not necessarily because of the increase price but because it is taking advantage of someone. Big pet peeve. I just saw on the news that a TN county had gas at $5.29 ... that is just wrong since gas was in the mid $3.50's...

Please pray for those along the Texas coastline.

Time to get to bed so we can get up early for our parenting class tomorrow.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Joint Interview

On Monday, Amber and I trekked to downtown Nashville to Miriam's Promise for our joint interview. Since this was our first set of interviews, there were alot of unknowns on how it was going to go. Our social worker is great ... she was very easy to talk to and there were no 'weird' moments. I think the hardest part of the meeting was talking about our conflicts when it comes to finances. We really do a MUCH better job now than we used to do in regards to this. I think we do a good job now at communicating on things that may become issues. And I think I have gotten better at not assuming too much when it comes to what Amber thinks or knows about a financial situation. Since I'm a "spreadsheet" guy, I used to assume she knew exactly what/where/how/etc we were but know that's not the way it really works now ... it's amazing what a little communication can do.

In any event, that interview is over with. We found out from our social worker that most our references are in so that's good. THANK YOU REFERENCES! All other paperwork is in as well. I have my individual interview next Tuesday, the 16th, and Amber has hers the following Tuesday. At that time, we should be able to send in our 600-A form to request our FBI fingerprints. We've been told by our social worker that Memphis is S-L-O-W in processing docs so we want to try to get them in as soon as possible. Once Amber has her interview, we can get the home visit interview scheduled.

This Saturday is our first classroom parenting class ... it will be from 9am - 3pm. It will continue next Saturday and then we'll be able to check that off the list.

We tried to start our online parenting class tonight. We paid the $100 fee but didn't realize they had to "process" the payment before getting us our username/password. So, that'll have to wait until at least tomorrow night. Our goal is to have that class done before our home visit.

Our goal is to have the home study done in the beginning of October. It all then comes down to how quick Memphis gets us our form ... praying it's quick! Can't wait to get on the list!

About 2-3 times a week now, I hear my bride say "I want our baby now!" ... couldn't agree with her more ... except I gotta get some home projects done prior to that day.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Our 160 page workbook is complete! We finished it in the car coming home from a picnic from Amber's work. That's a huge thing to cross off the list. Next big thing is the online parenting class that we'll probably start next week.

I think we have all the paperwork turned in for our home study. We have our joint interview on Monday and will schedule our individual interviews then as well. We also have our classroom parenting classes the next 2 Saturdays.

Our goal is to have everything in our control done by the end of the month. That may linger into October with our in-home visit and completing our home study.

All-in-all, moving along well. It was interesting to look at the ticker at the top of the page and realize it's been over 2 months we've been in this ... in so many ways, it feels so much longer ... but it's also like yesterday when I was walking out of church and told Amber I was on board with Ethiopia. No matter how long it's been, God has been faithful throughout.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Project Ryan

Amber and I feel like our adoption is a journey God has set before us and we're thrilled about it (maybe not thrilled about all the process, but grateful for it as we know our child is being protected). In any event, we have felt God also leading us down another path ... and the purpose of this post is to ask for your help in that endeavor. There is an amazing 2.5 year old boy in the neighboring town of Smyrna that has Muscular Dystrophy. Long story short, he is getting a power wheelchair (which is a miracle in itself ... a gently-used wheelchair was just donated to his family which would cost $20,000-$25,000 new). This is absolutely amazing as it will give him independence that we often take for granted. More information about Ryan can be found at

The family still needs a van that will allow him to be transported in the wheelchair. So, "Project Ryan" has been birthed. It is our goal to get his family a wheelchair-accessible van so that Ryan can easily go to doctor appointments, school, etc. I am asking you to think and pray about your involvement in this initiative. If you feel so led, we have a handful of "committees" formed in which one can help...

1) Prayer Team - praying for the project and health/healing of Ryan

2) Donations/Financing - helping collect donations for the wheelchair.

3) Fundraising - we currently have our large fundraiser scheduled on Sunday, October 12th at the Smyrna Bowling Center. If anyone has good ideas for the silent auction that we'll have at the fundraiser, let me know. Or if you have connections for autographed items, that'd be great as well. I think we're going to set a very fair minimum price on items and ebay them if they don't sell. That way, if we don't sell a ton of tickets to get alot of people there, we don't lose out on the silent auction.

4) Van Search - we want to find the best deal on a wheelchair even if it's not local to us

5) Party Planning - We will be having a celebration party to give the family the van. We need help organizing the party and having items donated for it.

I know if you're not local, some of those aren't feasible. All donations are tax deductible with checks made out to "Smyrna Church of Christ". It's awesome that denomination walls have been knocked down and that we're able to partner with the Smyrna Church of Christ. Please note that the tickets for the bowling fundraiser are not tax deductible and if someone makes a check out for tickets, they need to be made out to "Smyrna Bowling Center".

I am so excited about this God opportunity and hope that you will join us in it! I can't imagine what God will reveal through this project. He has already taught me a ton through this and has opened my eyes for some future opportunities He has for me. I know many of you don't live local here so helping with the fundraising/party planning isn't really an option but I hope you still think about helping out. Please email me or comment if you have any questions or if you'd like to partner with us!

NOTE: Let me say it took alot for me to post this. I usually don't ask for things like this but I know this thing is bigger than all of us. I know God is trying to teach/show me how to trust/rely on other people. It still doesn't make it easy.