Adoption journey

Over the past year, the Lord has been growing, teaching, and challenging our family in so many ways! We are responding to the Lord's leading and are expanding our family through the adoption of a precious baby!

Monday, June 25, 2012

How we can afford international adoption...

When we began the process of adopting a baby from Ethiopia, we heard a lot of questions about how we were going to afford all of the adoption costs, fees and travel that added up to about a year's salary. Our answer... we are trusting the God who called us to adopt to also be our Provider for the finances and details of the adoption. 
I have recently had questions from others interested in adoption about what sites/books/foundations/grant programs that have helped us through our adoption journey. Here are several resources and ideas from our journey...
Bethany Christian Services is the agency we are going through to adopt. Bethany has a great reputation in foreign countries and is known for solid ethics in adoption practices. We are thankful for  our wonderful and incredibly helpful case worker!
Families Outreach is a great orphan care foundation, run by some wonderful people in our church, who can  help you navigate through the adoption process. They also offer a grant for adoptive families.
Show Hope is another wonderful foundation begun by Steven Curtis Chapman. They have many resources as well as a grant for adoptive families. 
Lifesong is another organization that offers a grant program with matching grants and other options to help with the finances of inter-country adoption.

We also had several fund raisers to help raise support... 
Just Love Coffee - We receive a specified amount for each bag of coffee sold through our link on their site.

Catering - I utilized my New Orleans heritage and love for cooking to cater meals for families, as well as a Life Group Christmas party.

Etsy shop - I currently make Africa shirts for babies, boys, girls, and adults. I also make boys tie shirts and initial shirts. Check out our store!

Girls cap sleeve shirts $12.50 each
Monkey tie shirt for infants and boys $10 each
We are also very thankful for the generous gifts that have helped us through this adoption process.

Stay tuned for another blog on books on adoption and orphan care!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

How I got my baby to sleep through the night...

As a mom of three boys, I thought I knew a few things about babies, breastfeeding, feeding and sleep schedules. I was wrong!!! Here are a few things I've learned since baby boy # 3...
1. If a baby is crying... it's for a reason! My job as a Mommy is to find out what that is... not to train him not to cry! Don't let people guilt you into thinking that you must make your baby "cry it out" to teach them to sleep. You will not spoil your precious baby by meeting his most basic needs. Many babies in foreign orphanages no longer cry. This is not because they are feeling loved or having all of their needs met. They no longer cry because they know no one will come when they cry. I want my children to know that they are loved and that it is my joy to meet their needs.
2. There is no such thing as "colic".  However, food sensitivities/allergies and reflux are very real things with very real solutions. Since I have cut out dairy, soy, peanuts, wheat and eggs from my diet, my "colicky" baby is now the happiest baby ever and consistently sleeps 10-12 hours straight at night... some nights even 13-14 hours!! My once fussy baby happily puts himself to sleep and awakes as a sweet talkative baby in his crib.
3. Throw the Baby Wise and scheduling books out of the window!! One thing my husband and I have learned, is that the foods I'm eating and giving to my exclusively breastfed baby are much greater factors that affect sleep, rather than feeding and sleep schedules.  When baby boy #3 came around, I didn't have time to monitor or schedule feedings or nap times.  Due to lack of time to plan, as well as his sensitive tummy, I basically threw out all of the book's teachings and fed him whenever he wanted (On Demand) and put him down for naps when he seemed tired. He is not spoiled and is my best sleeper! Feeding your baby on a schedule isn't always the best for every baby! My baby is only awake from 8am to 7pm and needs to get all of his daily nutrition in that 11 hour time frame. If I only fed him every 3-4 hours, he could not possibly get all of the calories and nutrition he needs to grow. By the way, my 5 month old is over 17 lbs, in the 90% with height and weight, and wears 9 and 12 month clothing!
4. Introducing solid foods will not help your baby sleep through the night!! Our pediatrician has told us numerous times, babies' main source of nutrition in their first year is breast milk. Introducing other foods is more about practicing to learn how to eat. If you fill your baby up with solids, he may not have room for the best food... breastmilk. Also, families with a history of food allergies, IBS, and other tummy problems should definitely wait until after baby is 6 months, as to not cause further and future tummy problems.
5. This life is not my own!! I have been bought with a price, by the blood of Christ. If I am to display this selfless love to my children, I can not live for my own pleasures everyday in front of them. This food lover and passionate cook is learning a lot about discipline and self control, as I choose to sacrifice eating dairy, beef, soy, peanuts, eggs, wheat, caffeine/chocolate and tomatoes (we have 12 tomato plants in our backyard) for the health of my baby. My desire for certain foods is not more important than the health of my baby. 
6. PRAY!!! We ask the Lord each night to give our boys (and us) a good night's sleep. We seek the Lord for wisdom in raising our boys. He is our Creator, Savior, and the ultimate Wise Counsel. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The gift that grew my kids imagination... and love for God's word

As a mom of 3 little guys, I'm often looking for great gift ideas... for gifts that don't just clutter every room of our home, but actually inspire creativity, grow little imaginations, and develop in my boys a love for our Lord.   Over the past few years, a few gifts have fit into this rare category. 
Adventures in Odyssey cd collection
 My all time favorite gift from my parents to the boys is Adventures in Odyssey Bible Eyewitness Collector's Set. Any of the Adventures in Odyssey audio dramas are wonderful, but we especially enjoy the Bible Eyewitness series that takes the boys imaginations right into the Bible stories!! I love hearing my boys play and act out Bible stories with their toys!! 

Recently, my 5 year old came up to me and asked, "Mommy, do you know the story of Onesimus?" "You really should read it." This evening at bedtime, the boys asked my husband to tell them Bible stories they had not heard before (which is not an easy task;) Thankfully my husband also has a great love for the Word of God and told the boys the stories of Shamgar, Mephibosheth and Nehemiah. While talking about Shamgar, my husband explained the judges in the Bible. He told them about how God's people would love and worship God, but then they would turn and worship idols. He talked about how other people would come and hurt God's people, and how God would send someone to fight for them; he reminds them of Gideon and Samson (Bible characters the boys are familiar with). My 5 year old son responds, "Oh like the Amonites?" I am constantly blown away and challenged by my sons' knowledge and love for the Word of God!

Jonathan Park is another great audio series for kids. My boys enjoy learning about science, animals and listening to adventures in the Amazon and Galapagus Islands, while also hearing about God's creation and Bible principles.

Jesus Storybook Bible

I'm also really thankful for the Jesus Storybook Bible, a gift from my sister. The boys enjoy reading story after story and have grown such a sweet love for God's Word at a young age.
My oldest son, when he was 8 months old, reading his Bible.

Our little 5 month old is not quite old enough to enjoy Adventures in Odyssey and the Jesus Storybook Bible yet, but we will be introducing him to Veggie Tales pretty soon! A couple of our favorite board books are Veggie Tales, Oh Where is My Ducky and God Love You Very Much I look forward to seeing another little guy grow in love and knowledge of the Lord with these great resources and gifts!!

What are YOUR favorite gifts?? 
I would love to hear other resources/gifts that inspire creativity, 
grow little imaginations, and develop a love for the Lord!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Boys night backyard camp out

One of the reasons we are so thankful for our new home... is our backyard!! We are blessed with our own nature center in our backyard! The boys love exploring in the bamboo forest, climbing the trees, making lots of discoveries, learning about many types trees and birds, digging in the dirt to create watering holes for their toys, making a fire pit with Daddy for s'mores... and most recently camping out!

Josh had so much fun preparing for this time with the boys! He built a camp fire where we cooked authentic yummy hobo dinners. Even Samuel joined us outside for dinner:)


The boys always enjoy roasting marshmallows and eating s'mores! After s'mores the big guys settled in the tent for a fun boys night camp out. They read Boxcar Children and were having a blast with Daddy... 

Josh saving the tent from the storm!
...until the thunder and storms came in strong!! 
They brought the camping trip inside:) Maybe next time they'll actually get to sleep in the tent;)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Adoption update

Our dossier has been in Ethiopia for 13 months... a lot has happened in 13 months! We found out we were pregnant, moved twice, and welcomed our new baby boy!! Amazingly enough, none of those changes affected our adoption!

Due to many changes with policies and procedures in Ethiopia, our adoption agency has increased the wait time  to 18-24 months from the time the dossier reaches Ethiopia. We are currently 13 months into this process. Since we've been waiting so long, some of our paperwork (home study and immigration) began expiring and needed to be updated. Those updates cost a large chunk of funds, funds that were not part of our original budget.

All that to say, we are making shirts again! Check out our Etsy shop or facebook page for adorable Africa shirts for infants, boys, girls and adults! I can custom make one just for you! Also check out my newest item, trendy tie shirts for little guys:) All proceeds go to support our adoption.