Finally!  We are On Deck!  The email came on my mom's birthday, which was perfect, because she's probably asked me a thousand times if we've gotten that email.  I think she was more concerned about it than I was!

On Deck means that America World has reason to believe that we will receive our referral (our babies picture, name, history, medical report, etc...) within one to three months.  It's not a guarantee.  It's mostly just a heads-up that it may be coming soon. 

So we are trying not to get our hopes up too high... but at the same time, it's way better to know that we are On Deck than to not be.  At least something has happened.  A sign that they know we're still here and we're still waiting. 

Although there have been very few referrals given out in the past few months, there have been many, many children coming home.  Here are the blogs of a few of our American World YahooGroup friends who have come home with their children in just the past few days:

The Mullis Family

The Tennant Family

The Wanderer Family

The Jones Family
(home six weeks, but I had to include them, because their girl is just too cute)

I recently visited a used bookstore on the square in Bloomington. Their Africa section was rather small, but I did manage to find The Emperor by Ryszard Kapuscinski - a short, 160-page account of Emperor Haile Selassie's final years as Emperor of Ethiopia. I must say, this was a fascinating book that I managed to read in just a few hours. 

The famous Polish journalist, Kapuscinski, visited Ethiopia during the revolution. He managed to locate and interview many of the former palace staff members. His goal was to find out how the Emperor ruled, and why he eventually fell from power. To keep identities anonymous, each section is simply labeled with the initials of the person giving their particular account of events. The book opens as follows:

"It was a small dog," recalls an anonymous functionary, "a Japanese breed. His name was Lulu. He was allowed to sleep in the Emperor's great bed. During various ceremonies, he would run away from the Emperor's lap and pee on dignitaries' shoes. The august gentlemen were not allowed to flinch or make the slightest gesture when they felt their feet getting wet. I had to walk among the dignitaries and wipe the urine from their shoes with a satin cloth. This was my job for ten years."

Some have compared The Emperor to Machiavelli's The Prince and Orwell's 1984 with its detailed description of how power gets hoarded and abused. Split into three sections: "The Throne," "It's Coming, It's Coming," and "The Collapse," this book paints a clear picture of palace life during a stressful and extremely dangerous era.


Photo of Emperor Haile Selassie in his study at the palace.
Emperor Selassie (left) with one of his pet lions. 
This did not start as a blogging project.  I was just picking up the house in the afternoon, but then...

I cleaned out our shoe closet and THIS is what came out.
We aren't even shoe people.  I wear the same thing every day and I put on River whichever pair are easiest to put on or whichever pair I find two of that match first.  Logan rotates two or three pair.  So how on earth did this happen?!

I found a pair of royal blue flats with cut-out hearts that I bought before River was born.  They are still brand new, because there hasn't been a day in four years that royal blue flats with cut-out hearts matched what I was wearing.  Or were appropriate for my age...

I found three pair of high heeled boots and the shoes that I wore for my high school graduation. 

Logan has more brown shoes than I care to count. 

So what are we doing with all of these?! 

We know that there are people all over the planet and even here in our county who have NO shoes.  We talk about it and we've seen the pictures.  And yet all this time we've been hoarding shoes in our closet.

Many in Ethiopia wear shoes that have completely worn through on the bottom. This photo was snapped by a fellow adoptive AWAA mother, Karen Cassidy, at Trees of Glory carepoint in Ethiopia in November.

I can't even fathom what it must be like to have NO SHOES.  But it happens.  All of the time.  And here we are with all of these shoes in our house doing nothing other than getting in our way.

What difference could these shoes make to someone who has none?  Even the ugly blue ones.

So, to right this wrong, I am giving the dressy shoes to the thrift store and putting the more practical shoes aside to send to Ethiopia.  It is yet to be determined where the royal blue heart shoes are going. 

There must have been a greater plan for me to send shoes to Ethiopia, because just days after this shoe closet cleaning experience our friend Laura Herwehe brought us big bag of brand new flip-flops to send to Ethiopia. 

So, I challenge YOU to clean out your own shoe closet.  I'm guessing we're not the only ones with a few spares.  Take yours to the thrift shop or give them to me to send to Ethiopia.  It's a free way to make a big difference for someone else. 

As much as we are hoping and praying for a referral and a court date before the courts close for the rainy season... it looks more unlikely every day.  So if you are traveling to Ethiopia soon and have room for donations, please let us know!  We'd love to send shoes with you! 
The following is a post from blog of American World Adoption.  Posted June 6th, this is a testimony from an adoptive mother of an HIV+ child. 

HIV is Not a Death Sentence

The following testimony was sent to us by a mother who adopted her son two years ago. His name has been changed to protect his identity. Although privacy is desired, this mother is willing to be contacted if you have more questions regarding HIV adoption. Please email for more information.

"Since bringing our son “Adam” home from Ethiopia in 2009, we have often been asked by fellow AWAA families about HIV positive adoption and I always have two answers for them. HIV is not the difficult “issue” here, and secondly, “How could it not be God’s will to adopt an HIV positive/special needs child?”  I have never read a verse in the Bible where it says, “Run from the sick, don’t take care of those with special needs, and don’t do anything that is uncomfortable.”

We are the body of Christ. If it isn’t us who will bring these children into our families, then who will?

HIV is not a death sentence. HIV is a chronic, manageable condition that if treated properly is considered easier to manage than diabetes. Every three months we bring our son to see his specialist at the children’s hospital, he gets blood work, then home we go. His medications are adjusted based on his weight gain every three months and we make sure to strictly administer them twice a day. If he cuts himself we simply put on gloves and give a quick band aide. When others become curious or probe for answers that are not needed to be given, we redirect the conversation. Only our closest friends and family are aware of his status, which gives us and our son a support system in which to have total honesty. Maybe one day our son won’t mind sharing his positive status with the neighbor or random person, but for now we are going to be mindful about whom we tell. Once it is let out, he can never get that privacy back. Disclosure of his HIV positive status should be done with his best interest in mind. At the same time, we also want to emphasize that we don’t need to hide or be ashamed of this, so it is a tricky balance.

Believe it or not, that is all I have to say about HIV and that is all I tell families who call me with questions about HIV positive adoption. What I tell them next is something I hope they really take into prayer and think seriously about- the emotional, psychological, physical and spiritual needs of their adopted child. We have focused 10% on Adam’s HIV, and 90% on these other areas. Our son came home to us at only 2 ½ years old, and the trauma he experienced in those years was horrible. The nannies at the transition home were wonderful but everything he experienced in his forming years has affected him.  I have stayed home with Adam since he came home. We have worked through and continue to work through anxiety, fear of African Americans, sleeping difficulties, ADHD behavior, and Sensory Processing Disorder. We have been to occupational therapy, read books, listened to lectures, and really have been doing “therapeutic parenting” since he came home. You can’t expect to bring your child home and just say, “Ok go play, or here’s your class go to school now, or run 100 errands in one day.”  Love, safety, consistency, structure and JESUS is what our children need.

Now have we seen healing in our son? YES! God is miraculous and His Grace is sufficient. He is so faithful and has heard every one of our prayers. Our son has bonded to us amazingly and we share such an extraordinary relationship with him. We would give up our lives in an instant for him and I could say that from the moment we knew about him. His smile is contagious and we sing worship songs together all the time. He knows so many Bible verses and at times of high anxiety we will say them together. We constantly snuggle, cuddle and hug all day long. We bike, read, play, run, laugh and cry together. We love our son so much. None of the difficulty he had in his early years will stand in the way of God’s healing hand. But I think what we need to be aware of is that adoption is difficult, these children have trauma, and HIV should be the least of your worries. How will you restructure your day to meet the needs of your child, will you homeschool if needed, will you lay at night with your child for hours while they sweat in fear and cry so loud that you want to cry yourself, will you continue to pursue them when they reject you, and will you take the time needed to build their trust in you, a total stranger, but now called their parents?

You see, HIV is not the “big deal” in the adoption process. Adoption itself is the “big deal” and all of the things that go along with it. We hardly ever think about the fact that our son is HIV positive but we are reminded daily that he is a 4 year old with way more memories, worries, and fears than a 4 year old should have. So when you consider HIV positive adoption, may you spend just as much if not more time preparing your heart, home and family for meeting the needs of your child. Taking care of their HIV is probably going to be the easiest part. Adoption is Plan A for our family and I would never ask for it to be any other way. In fact, we are anticipating the referral of another HIV positive child knowing the HIV may just be the easiest part of the whole journey. Only by His Grace."

 A new friend from church is having a Tupperware Fundraiser for Active Water!  40% of your purchase goes toward Active Water.  That's $10 of every $25 purchase.  She has set her goal at $1000.  Which I think is awesome.

Active Water is an organization that brings clean water and sanitation projects to communities around the globe. 

Click Here to shop! 

Also, my sister-in-law, Lori Wade is having a give-away on her blog today.  She sells handmade purses.  You can see the purses here and participate in the give-away on Friday morning here

A Chain of Goodness is the name we've given to our donation supply chain for orphanages in Ethiopia. Months ago, after reading about the dire need for supplies at many of the country's orphanages, Brandy had the idea to start collecting clothes, formula, cloth diapers, and baby wipes to send with traveling families. We started collecting these items from many facilities across the state of Indiana, as well as donations from family, friends, and strangers, and then redistributed the items to the families heading for Ethiopia. This works perfectly since the airlines allow 50 lbs. of humanitarian aid for traveling families which keeps the cost low. Plus, my employer, Lewellyn Technology, has been very generous in allowing us to use their shipping software and funds to get the packages where they need to be. Many people or "links" have joined together to complete this chain. Without these people, this kind of outreach would not be possible. Thank you all for your love, kindness, support, time, money, and helping this project continue to grow!

If you're interested in donating, please contact us:

I won!!!
A few weeks ago I entered a contest to win this awesome watercolor created by a fellow AWAA Ethiopia mom.  The winner was chosen by the best answer to the question "why it is important to help children in need?"  I was in it to win it with my answer.  It also helped that there were only five other contestants.  When I went back to reread my answer there was a typo in the first line.  But, God bless her, Katie chose me anyway!  I am so excited to have this to hang in baby's room.

I am also excited to add another win to my career.  For those of you keeping track, this is my second lifetime win.  About 23 years ago I won a Halloween coloring contest at the drug store.  My prize of choice- a vampire costume in a box. 

Katie has a whole line of beautiful nursery artwork on Etsy.  Many of them would be suitable for any nursery, but my favorites are specific to little Ethiopian girls.  I especially love the one with the girl in jammies reaching for the white hand.  Her prices are rediculously low.  If I had that much talent I'd probably charge a thousand dollars for a print.  But since they are only about $9, we'll be buying some soon!
A few months ago I stumbled across the website for Brighton Their World, an organization collecting formula for Ethiopian orphanagesThen yesterday, our friends the Seevers (who we met at the Summit) posted about meeting the Hoffmans- the founders of Brighton Their World. 

So I went back to the Brighton Their World website (on the heels of feeling preeeety good about our 617 bottles).  Lo and Behold they have collected enough for 18,277 bottles.  That is really cool. 

I love that their website says...  "Our belief is that once we know the problems exist - we are all responsible for helping to find solutions in some way. Our goal is to always be involved in projects that directly serve and brighten the lives of the least."

Which is a much more eloquent way of saying what I was attempting to say in the last post.  These guys really are an
In exactly one week we collected 3704 ounces of formula.  More than enough to fill the 50 pounds of luggage we were trying to fill. 

It's enough formula to make 617 six ounce bottlesLittle Ethiopian baby bellies full of formula 617 times.  617 times that an overworked nanny at Kids Care Orphanage doesn't have to worry that there won't be enough for one more bottle.  617 times that a baby cries and gets fed.  Enough.

So often we stand around and shake our heads about the state of the world.  How sad something is.  Babies are starving in Africa, isn't that sad?  But what are we really doing about it?  I think most of us are waiting for someone else to do something about it.

Every time we have collected donations it amazes me how quickly it comes together and how easy it is.  This collection would have never happened if this woman hadn't asked for my help.  All she did was ask me and all I did was ask you.  So simple.  No one went bankrupt buying donations.  No one spent hours working.  No one was really inconvenienced in any way.  We all just went about our week and bought an extra can of formula.  But look what good it did?

I understand that 3704 ounces of formula isn't going to change anyones life or solve any long term problem.  I think the best we can hope for is that this little collection inspires someone else to make a little collectionIf we all did just a little bit more... we could do so much. 

It isn't enough to know that there is a problem and to say how sad it is.  We are all responsible for doing something about it.  How ever small the effort may seem. 

James 2:14-17“What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
We were officially 9 months DTE last Friday the 27th.  9 months and still no baby... add those 9 months to the 6 months we spent on paperwork and this has been one... long... pregnancy.  The good news is that I haven't gained 60 pounds this time and not one person has told me that I look pregnant in my face.  Whatever that means.

River and I started back to work today concluding my brain surgery adventure.  It started with a phone call at Smidgens in January and now, June 1st, I'm back to work and feeling like nothing ever happened. 

I would say that the crazy part of the year is behind us, but we still have to make two trips to Africa and bring home our second child.  So I think it's safe to say that 2011 will continue to be an interesting year.