Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Good news!

I heard hopeful words from a friend yesterday (about Ethiopia adoptions).  She talked to a caseworker from another agency who said that she heard positive news through the grapevine.  I felt hopeful, but cautious.

Today I received my regular email update from Rainbow Kids and it contained this tid-bit:

"Very positive news coming from Ethiopia. Yesterday Minister Zenebu, along with other high level MOWCYA officials, met with agency network representatives. In this meeting it was clearly expressed from Minister Zenebu that she does not plan to work to stop adoptions, but desires to focus on eliminating bad practice in Ethiopian adoptions and focus on good practice. She stated that both MOWCYA and the Ethiopian Government do not plan to shut down adoptions within Ethiopia. She encouraged agencies to continue their work as normal."

Then, just 30 minutes later I received this email from our agency (AGCI):

"Dear Ethiopia families,

This week an AGCI representative had the opportunity to meet in Ethiopia with the head of Network ministry to hear and discuss first hand the status of adoption in Ethiopia. The overall sentiment on adoption is that all parties want to avoid closure. The good news is that yesterday there was a meeting scheduled between the minister of MOWA and the network executives and the minister expressed his support of ethical adoptions numerous times. From that meeting it does not appear adoption is on the brink of closure, however there is still great instability in international adoption due to corruption and public perception of the process. AGCI continues to see drastic slowdowns on referrals and processing of paperwork.

An example of these type of slowdowns become evident with the seven children we have been caring for in the Tigray region for the past 14 months. This fall we believed we were in the final stages of their abandonment process. Unfortunately, last month the federal government decided to take over all cases from the regional governments. This means almost all of the children will start the abandonment process completely over. These types of delays are devastating for the children and it is so frustrating as we watch you wait to welcome them home.

As we continue to gather more information from the meetings taking place this week we will pass it on. Please know that AGCI remains invested in Ethiopia and with you during these uncertain times. We are here for you, and we want to support you in every way we can."

This is very, very good news from my perspective.  We are by no means home free with the long wait ahead of us and the constant state of uncertainty within the international adoption process...but we knew that much going in to things.  The more acute possibility of a pending closure of Ethiopian adoptions (based on the statements made by influential officials in Ethiopia just over a month ago) has left me in a heightened state of worry the last month.  The only thing I have to compare it to is this:

I had scares with both of my pregnancies, but I'd like to share the one with Max.  After getting pregnant with Max (after a rough round of in-vetro) I was driving one day and had to pull over the car doubled over in pain.  Mark was out of town so I had to get some friends from church to come pick me up and take me to the emergency room.  There I found out that I was also bleeding and was told there was a good chance I would miscarry, but that nothing could be done so early in my pregnancy and I would just have to wait it out.  I was worried, scared, sad, and while I had hope I felt unjustified in allowing myself to picture life with him and didn't feel "allowed" to do things like imagine the nursery or talk about baby names.  It wasn't until things subsided and I was later able to see my baby (and his heartbeat) on the ultrasound at my doctor's office that I felt reassured.  While waiting for that doctor's visit I had no control over things, and worry wasn't productive...but worry I did.  Did the acute danger of miscarriage passing guarantee that I would carry to term?  Of course not.  No woman has that guarantee.  But even with the possibility always being in the back of my mind it was possible to put that fear aside, relish in preparations to welcome him, and to anticipate the day this little peanut would join our family.

That is all I was hoping for with this situation.  Do we have a guarantee that this will all work out the way we plan and that this little girl will eventually join our family?  Unfortunately not.  But I feel like we are out of the acute danger zone now, and now I am "allowed" to get back to planning her nursery, daydreaming of girlie things, and researching all sorts of odds and ends as we anticipate her joining our family.  Will the concern of things going wrong still be in the back of my mind - sure, but I'd rather it was in the back of my mind than consuming all my thoughts.

Thank you so much to all those of you that have included us and the government leaders in Ethiopia in your prayers and fasts in various capacities...and even to those of you who have just continued to ask how things are going.  We can't tell you how much those things mean to us.  We have a very long journey ahead of us, and while we feel over the moon right now we are also not oblivious to the fact that there will still be bumps in the road that will come up.  We're so grateful to have such wonderful family, friends, and neighbors who support us during this roller coaster process that adoption is.

We continue to pray for all involved in the adoption process from those in government, running orphanages and agencies, but most of all the children in need of families and homes.  We hold hope that in the long run there will be more and more families within Ethiopia in the position to be able to care for their children themselves, but until that major social and economical change has occurred we pray for these children to find their way into loving homes wherever they may be...and we look forward to the day our little one will come home and be a blessing in our lives. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Just a feeling post

The aforementioned meeting in Ethiopia should have happened by now (since it's after 9pm there right now).  I have no idea when our agency will pass on what (if anything) concrete came out of that meeting.  I woke up feeling nervous this morning knowing the meeting was today.  Anyway, no update now.  I just needed to regurgitate my feelings somewhere and this blog seemed like the best place to do so.

Also, I saw this picture on facebook today and liked it.  It applies to all of us with life in general, but made me think specifically about our journeys to add children to our family (specifically this one right now):

Friday, January 24, 2014

Some love for my wall, but not much else to share

I've had several kind people ask if there is any news on our adoption, but other than the little tid-bits that I've already shared on this blog, there is nothing. I've adopted the mindset at this point that no news is good news.  We'll see if anything comes of this meeting on Monday though.

I think and pray all of the time about this, but amidst the uncertainty I've had to make a conscious decision to try and just proceed as if this is just a speed-bump and that it will all work out.  I hope that is the case.  So although the current situation puts a damper on some of my exuberance, I'm still going to share some love that went up this week on our walls that relates to our baby girl.  About a month ago I shared my excitement about a piece of art that I'd been wanting for some time which I got for my birthday.  We finally got it back from the place that framed it for us and it's hung in our front room now.  I stare at it several times a day, and remember that this whole process truly is in His hands.

Another thing I'd been waiting to hang in our entry way was this digital file that I purchased and printed out.  The smaller words you see are cities in Ethiopia.  Maybe our baby girl will be born in one of them...
We put that print in a "place-holding frame" (that's what I'm calling it) and put it on the wall in the entry alongside photos of our other three kiddos.  Someday I pray that I'll be able to replace that print with a picture of our baby girl.

So, that's all I have for now.  No real answers, just more hoping while we wait.

Thursday, January 16, 2014


I took part in our adoption agency's Ethiopia program webinar this morning.  I'll admit that I almost threw up before it started because I was so nervous about what I would hear.  I'll cut right to the chase and say that we didn't really get any new news.  I'm running with no news is good news...because what else can I really do, right?

Anyway, they basically went over the same information we already know and explained a bit more about the meeting that will be held on the 27th in Ethiopia.  The only information they shared that was actually new to me was this...Apparently after the December 26th announcement there was a statement floating around about a follow-up meeting that was to occur 10 days later.  That meeting was finally scheduled for last Monday, but it was postponed.  Of course I want to read in to that, but what's the point in doing that?

I think about our baby girl 100 times every day.  When I do she has chocolate brown skin, dark tight curls, and big brown eyes.  Waiting isn't fun, but I could handle it so much better if I knew that this child that I have fallen in love with in my mind would actually find her way into my arms.  The unknown is just so dang hard.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


Yep.  As a white girl, I'm attacking a post on that word.

First, let me begin by explaining why I am writing this post.  I am a member of a book club with some friends that I really enjoy getting together with and discussing books that we have chosen to read.  In October I was hosting that month’s meeting on a book called the Book Thief.  It’s actually a WWII novel (which I loved, as a side-note) and during one part of the discussion the question was posed by someone asking the group if we felt racism was still an issue today.  Fair question.  I ignorantly assumed that everyone would agree in the affirmative that it is, but was surprised to find that wasn’t the case.  Everyone comes with their own experiences and different points of view, which I can respect…but I became surprised with how uncomfortable I became hearing people say that they just didn’t think it was an issue in our country anymore, or that at least things are so much better than 150 years ago.  For a blond haired, little white girl I was surprised to note the emotions brewing within me during this topic and I tried to not say anything too emotionally charged.  I expressed my opinion and others politely disagreed.  I felt that things were amiable, as they should be, and we moved on.  I couldn’t even tell you now which ladies expressed which opinions.  Unfortunately, the words from that conversation have bounced around in my head for the last 2+ months nagging at me.  Then the other day I came across this article and it hit a little too close to home:

I’ll summarize…A white mother was flying on an airplane with her adopted black (19 month old) toddler.  The baby began to scream during the planes descent due to pressure in his ears.  The man sitting next to the woman told the mother twice to "shut that (N-word) baby up" and then slapped the baby across the face.  Now, I will concede that the man was going through extenuating circumstances with a terminally ill child and I feel for him for that…I could even dismiss some level of him losing his temper due to those circumstances if it weren’t for him laying his hand on the child and for the racial slurs involved.  While I do not pretend to know how I would respond to the kind of stress this man was under, I can guarantee that it would not involve racial slurs.  The fact that this man resorted to those kind of thoughts and words under emotional stress still shows me that those were part of his deeply rooted mindset and outlook, whether he normally expressed them out loud or not.

This story would have angered me regardless of the make-up of this child’s family, but perhaps it hit even closer to home that this was an interracial adoption, as we are trying so hard to pursue ours.  Add on top of that me having just barely finished a civil war novel called 'Candle in the Darkness' (by Jane Austin) and all those feelings and thoughts that I’ve had over the last couple months needed an outlet.  There was one part of that novel where a girl from the south who was a sympathizer for the slaves moved to the North.  During one conversation she had she pointed out to an active abolitionist (white) reverend that while she believed in freedom for the slaves, that the prejudice and discrimination she saw in the North toward the free black people there wasn’t really that different in concept.

So, all that got me thinking back to the conversation at our book club where people were talking about “how much better things are now” for blacks.  This quote perfectly summarizes my opinion on that subject:

“I truly believe “Are things better?” is one of the most useless questions in a discussion about racism. It’s another in a repertoire of rhetorical tricks we use in this country to avoid the hard work of addressing racism in its modern form. By reframing the conversation around how much progress has been made, we further the false narrative that racism is a problem that belongs to history. While we pat ourselves on the back for not being as horrible as we once were, we allow racism to become further entrenched in every aspect of American life.”

The full blog post that I pulled that quote from can be found here.  It’s worth a read, but here is where I give my blanket apology for some of the language contained in a couple of the links I’m going to provide.  Obviously, the news stories provided have clean language, but some of the opinion pieces (and on such an emotionally charged subject) like this one do contain language so…if that offends you then I guess don’t read those! :):

I do believe there is wisdom in celebrating heroes in the civil rights movement and recognizing progress, but I also agree with the author of the previous quote that often people (perhaps sometimes unknowingly) hide behind the guise of progress in order to face current problems of racism today.  And mitigating those modern problems is, in my opinion, offensive to those that have to face them.

Another term that really irks me is when people claim with pride to be “color blind”.  I do not see that as a positive end goal to achieve.  I believe the diversity in our races and ethnicities should be recognized and celebrated, not ignored.  In comparison, I am proud of being a woman and while I do want respect and equal opportunities as a woman, I do not want to be viewed as a genderless entity.  Similarly, I do not believe that most people of color want to be viewed as colorless.  Rather, I believe their race is part of who they are but shouldn’t define their abilities and opportunities or the respect they receive.

"Being 'color blind' has somehow become an excuse for being blind to racism. It has become a way for white Americans to discount the very much present racist experiences of persons of color in this country.

That quote is from a great article titled, "I'm a White Kid from Texas, and I can tell you: Racism is Still a Thing"  Well said.

The following video that accompanies this article about Forest Whitaker being accused of shoplifting is well spoken.  There are several parts I like, but especially the part where Etan Thomas says that he doesn’t want people to look at him and “see a blank space” (being so called color-blind), that he is a black man and proud to be…but that there needs to be respect.

On to some examples.  I could start a very long list of racial profiling by the police.  Now this isn’t meant to be an anti-police statement, but it shows that the prejudice and racism still alive in our country carries over into our police force, often with deadly consequences.  Two huge examples of this both occurred in the U.S. during my time living in Germany as a missionary for my church.  Not only was I abroad, but I did not have access to television, internet or newspapers.  So, I learned of the tragic stories of Amadou Diallo and Patrick Dorismond later.  They were both victims of wrongful shootings by undercover police officers.  Both men were unarmed and wrongfully accused.  Amadou was a recent immigrant from West Africa here pursuing the American dream and sending most of his wages as a street peddler home to Africa.  He was shot 41 times in front of his own apartment as he reached for his wallet to identify himself when approached by undercover cops who thought he was a wanted man.  41 shots, people.

Patrick was having a drink with a friend in front of a cocktail lounge when they were approached by two undercover cops who asked him where to buy drugs.  This naturally offended this security guard and father of two and a heated argument led to a scuffle, followed by the police officer pulling his gun and shooting Patrick to death.  Neither Patrick nor his friend were armed.

If 13 years ago isn’t recent enough for you, I can give you one from just 4 months ago…in North Carolina 24 year old Jonathan Ferrell was driving early in the morning and was in a severe car accident, he escaped and ran to a nearby home for help, banging on the door.  The woman didn’t know him and called 911.  When Jonathan soon saw responding officers he ran to them for help and was subsequently tasered and then shot dead.  By the people whose job it was to protect and serve him.  Of course Jonathan was unarmed.

You want one not police related?  Ok, last September in Florida a 17 year old boy (Jordan Davis) was playing loud music with 3 other friends at a gas station. He was approached by a white, middle aged man who demanded that they turned down their music and like most teenage boys when talked to that way an argument ensued…but this was followed by this man pulling his gun and shooting inside their vehicle 9 times and killing one of the boys.  And, yes, they were all unarmed.  His racist ignorance continues in multiple letters that he has written from prison – a few of them are quoted in this article: 

I could of course continue with examples, and while all of the victims deserve to have their names remembered, my point in sharing these is just to show a few of the examples (albeit extreme ones) of racism that still are part of our society today.

As a white girl growing up in a predominantly white town, I don’t pretend to be able to look at things from the perspective that someone with black skin would…but that is exactly what I have been trying to do more over the last few years as we have pursued our daughter's adoption and therefore becoming a multi-racial family.   

Let me be very clear, we are NOT pursuing this adoption with some sort of savior’s complex, or because we feel it is our duty, or to make up for “white guilt”.  We aren’t pursuing this adoption in any way BECAUSE our daughter will be black, but we believe that all children everywhere deserve a home and a family and since our journey at this time has guided us to Africa and we know our daughter will be black we feel it our duty to try as best we can to try and view the world from her eyes and see how she will experience things.   

While her skin color (and the culture she came from) won’t define her, it will be a part of what will make up the beautiful person that she is and we plan to celebrate that.  Also, just because we will see her, accept her, and love her for who she is (and we believe the majority of people in our community will also) it doesn’t mean that she won’t encounter racism during her life.  She will.  And to ignore that because it is uncomfortable or because we don’t personally have those views only does her a disservice.  If she is able to predominantly escape the hateful, scorning side of racism for most of her life we will be grateful…but even at that there are small things that we as white people tend to not notice through our lens of looking at the world.  For a lighter example of this, please watch this video (by Micah Bournes) that touches on the humor of what is “normal” by giving an example from a label on a hair product.  Seriously, watch this clip:
"Normal Hair"

So, I mean no disrespect to my fellow book club ladies that I love spending time with and getting to know.  And while one of the things I like at a book club is lively conversation and even differing opinions, I tend to feel a little bit of disappointment when I hear some of them say that they don’t believe racism is a problem anymore in America.  While I am pleased to surround myself with people that aren’t bigots themselves, it saddens me to hear that people aren’t aware that there is still racism in our country.  Unfortunately, there simply is.  It comes in the form of hate, violence, stereotypes, being snubbed, and sometimes just ignorance.  Sometimes people are outspoken about their racial views, and sometimes they cowardly express them anonymously through various online sources.  For example, take a look at this seemingly harmless picture of a daddy getting his daughter ready in the morning and read what some of the responses were when he posted it online:

(The dad’s regular blog that he normally keeps is at

Raising up my voice that racism indeed exists is only a small part of the ongoing effort to eliminate racism, and I am sure that I will continue over the years to become aware of more and more ways to view the world through a colored lens...whether that has to do with the way my shampoo is labeled, or my crayons are labeled... hope is that I will welcome those sometimes uncomfortable realizations that I had perhaps not before seen.  I also hope that people will be willing to recognize that just because you don't experience it yourself, or perhaps because it's simply uncomfortable to admit, that racism actually is unfortunately still thriving.  Yes even in the good ol' U.S. of A.