And the winner is.... KELLY!!   

And to those other wonderful eleven people who so generously commented... if you are interested in a copy of Levi's book, please email me at brandydwade (at) gmail (dot) com.  ;) 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! 
I have been wanting to do a giveaway for weeks.  We have some wonderful goodies from the festival in October and I have two copies of an amazing book to giveaway!  


So here is the thing... I'm calling this a Thanksgiving Giveaway, but what it should really be called is a "Who the heck are all of you people?" Giveaway.


I am dying to know who is out there reading this thing every day!  If you take away the comments on how cute the kids are that our moms leave, we get 0 comments.  But our number of views is getting higher all the time.  So who are all of you?  I can account for about ten of you.  The rest of you... I have no idea.  I am thankful for every single person and I really want to know who you are.  


So please, reveal thyselves!!  Stop being lurkers and tell me who you are!  Just leave a comment.  We can be friends.


River will pick a number on Saturday at 7:30 pm and that number person on the comments list will win!  


So here is what you get... 
On behalf of Bring Love In 
  • Two copies of No Greater Love by Levi Benkert - One for you and one for you to give as a gift.
  • A large fabric handbag made in Burkino Faso from African material


On behalf of Because Every Mother Matters
  • A handmade card 


On behalf of Love Is... Ethiopia
  • An I Heart Africa bumper sticker


All you have to do to win is a leave a comment.  But in fairness, if you haven't checked out these organizations in the past, please take a few minutes to check them out now.  They are doing amazing things in Ethiopia today.


Good luck everyone!!  And please leave me a comment!!  

 
 
This is your chance to give a man in a 
third-world country a job opportunity.  

Let me tell you our story...


When we went to court in Ethiopia back in April we were there for something like eleven days.  Since we were the only family there for most of that time, we got to know our driver and our guides REALLY well.  
Picture
David, Logan, me, and Yonas
Upon arrival in Ethiopia we handed David a big stack of our American money and he left us to go exchange it.  Logan and I looked at each other like... "What did we just do?  We don't even know this guy."  But he came right back with all of our money exchanged and over those first few days we started to realize just how really trustworthy these guys were, how much faith they had in God, and how big of a place they had in their hearts for the children in the transition home and orphanages.  


We watched David with the kids in the transition home.  He was like a big brother to the older boys.  He let them climb around in his van and hang out with him.  He'd sit and talk to them.  He'd tease them, joke with them and just spent time with them.  
In this picture it looks like he's talking about something very serious, but he's actually drawing a goofy, unflattering cartoon picture of the boy sitting beside him, trying to convince him that it looks just like him.


Since we were in Ethiopia for so many days and we were the only family there, we were able to talk to the guys a lot.  We learned a lot about the orphanages and a lot about Ethiopia.  It was during one conversation about the needs in the orphanages that David told us about the government orphanage.  


We knew we had to see it before we left.  So at the end of our trip we went to the government orphanage.  It was the worst of the worst of the orphanages we saw.  The needs there were astounding.  We were completely unprepared for the smell and the sound and the things we saw.  I'm sure that many of the babies we saw that day are no longer alive.  What we saw there changed us at our core.


And so it was because of David, and his directing us to the government orphanage, that we raised money for formula, made dolls, and collected donations to give to the orphanage on our return trip in July.  


When we returned to Ethiopia in July we were so excited to see the guys again.  I cried when Job met us at the airport.  But the next day we found out that David was, "on vacation."  After a couple more days and little prying we realized that "vacation" meant laid-off.  Thankfully, we were able to meet him one evening with some other friends.  


He was let go from his job as a driver.  He was out of work.  His family was counting on him.  He put his hands together and smiled and said, "God will take care of us.  He always has."


I've never seen faith like that.  We come from a country where most people say they believe in God, but when the first thing goes wrong they throw up their hands and say, WHY ME?  I've never seen someone living out real, honest faith that God would provide.  Someone who really had nothing but faith.  


That leads us to the next chapter in David's story.  We're not the only family to call David a friend.  And those friends back here in America have come together to create a campaign on a website called Indiegogo.com.  It's called I Drive Ethiopia.


We're hoping to raise just enough money to outright purchase a used van for David.  So that he can drive again.  Unfortunately, he won't be able to drive adoptive families any longer.  He was never an employee of our adoption agency, and with the loss of his job his connection to them is gone.  But he can find someone to drive.  He wants to work and with a van he'll find a way.


Is David a perfect person?  No.  Are there other Ethiopian fathers just as deserving of a job opportunity as he is?  Absolutely.  But we don't know those men.  We don't have a way to help them.  We do have a way to help David.  And we won't turn our backs on him.


Are there other charities more deserving of your money?  Absolutely, are you kidding me?  But this isn't a charity.  


This is an opportunity to give a man an opportunity.   


Do you want to be a part of it?  If so, here is the link: 
http://www.indiegogo.com/dawitfasil?a=1757623


Whether or not you donate, please, please, please pass the link on!  Please help us spread the word!  The more views and the more times the Indiegogo share tools are utilized on the site, the higher our "gogofactor" and the more visible our campaign is on the site.   Thank you so much!  


A disclaimer for AWAA families.  For obvious ethical reasons AWAA can in no way be connected to this fundraising.  Please do not post this link on the AWAA Facebook group or YahooGroups.  

 
 
I am not going to lie, there are few things in this world that I enjoy more than a good donation collection.  I think it's the thrill of knowing that right now I have a few pair of shoes set aside in the garage, but just by asking, with your help, we can fill an entire suitcase with shoes in no time.  


There is always a little bit of fear with these posts that no one will respond.  That I'll put myself out there and no one will help me.  But I have never, ever been disappointed with the response.  Every single time we've asked for donations, we've been blown away by what we've received.  It is just so exciting to be a part of it.  


Bring Love In needs shoes for their children.  They asked for help on their blog this week and this is right up our alley.  The Larsen family is willing to take the shoes with them on their court trip.


What we need from everyone else are new or like-new durable shoes for children 5 - 12 years old.  We're looking for closed-toe tennis shoe type shoes.  Do you have something in your closet?  Can you spare a few dollars to buy a new pair?


"If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?" -James 2:15-16


The Larsens don't have a court date yet, but expect to travel in December or January.  So for now let's say we need the shoes by Sunday, December 9th.
 
 
October update pictures of the mother we sponsor in Dessie, Ethiopia. 
To learn more about this 3-year sponsorship program visit www.bemmteam.org
 
 
Every November the Indianapolis Grace Ethiopian Church holds a celebration of Ethiopian culture and adoption.  


We went for the first time two years ago.  We had just become DTE and we fully expected a referral within a few months.  We were a couple of naive kids... 


Last year we were just too depressed by the long wait to go to the event.  But this year, we were there, with our daughter!  


There was a huge buffet of Ethiopian food.   Willow ate it right up.  
She also showed off her new walking skills.
Both of our kids were really well behaved.
And we all had a really good time.  
The best part was at the end when they asked all of the children to come up to the stage to dance and sing.
 
 
I just discovered this neat service and I wanted to share it here.  For those folks out there searching for adoption agencies working in a certain country  Rainbow Kids has a simple form to fill out that is immediately submitted to several agencies, big and small, working in that country.  The agencies then contact you directly.  

First go to www.RainbowKids.com.

Click on Country Guidelines: www.rainbowkids.com/Countries/

Find the country that you are interested in and click on it.

Scroll down to the yellow bar that says, "To contact all agencies placing children from..." and fill out the form! 

You'll be contacted by all of the agencies working in that country within just a few days!  So simple!  Have fun!
 
 
 
 
Every year we try to buy gifts that support a cause.  A cause bigger than Macy's or WalMart's bottom line.  We scour the internet and our friends' adoption blogs in search of cool gifts.  But it's hard.  A lot harder than a trip to the mall.  


To our rescue, adoptive mommy and blogger-extraordinaire Tiffany Darling, has created a pinboard with an extensive list of pins of fair trade, handmade, creative and wonderful gifts for the holidays.  


Here is her original post.  
Here is a link to the pinboard.


You'll see the term "fair trade" on these items a lot and you might be wondering what fair trade really means.  It's means simply that the items are being bought and sold with fairness.  You can rest assured that no one in a third world country is being taken advantage of for a better price.  These items are bought and resold at a fair price so that these developing entrepreneurs can build their business, build their local economy and support their families.
 
 
Kristen Howerton from Rage against the Minivan and a few of her friends made this so true video and it is spreading like wildfire.  I think all of my adoption friends have probably already seen it, but I wanted to share it here for those friends and family who occasionally have to go out in public with us and witness the awkwardness.  


I thought this video was hilarious and after I watched it a couple of times I started checking off how many of these comments I've heard myself.  


SEVENTEEN.  I've heard seventeen of these.  


And we've been home for three months.  As funny as the video is, it's not funny that all seventeen different comments have been uttered in front of my children, in public, and by complete strangers.    


It is not that I don't want to talk about adoption.  I LOVE to talk about adoption.  But what I don't love is when someone I hardly know asks me in WalMart if we met our daughters birth mother.  


What I don't love is the way that people seem to think that because she is adopted, the rules of privacy and personal space no longer apply.  I don't love that.  


What I do love, or I should say who I do love, is the lady at MCL Cafeteria who asked River and I what we wanted to drink and then asked casually, "And what about your daughter?"  


She just said, "your daughter."  Without the curious smile, without a raised eyebrow, without a wink.  Just, "your daughter."  


I wanted to jump over the counter and hug her.  It is still our best, most normal, most happy encounter with a stranger we've had in three months, and she has no idea.  She just treated us like a normal family and she has no idea how much it meant to us.