God is writing another story

God is writing another story. It starts with 3 Johnsons, a ministry to unwed mothers in Taiwan, 2 passionate God-loving ladies, an 18 year old girl and 1 tiny baby. Let's see where the story goes...

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Check out those kissy cheeks!

The photos above are from just a couple weeks ago.  Selah appears to be growing well!  Christel is holding her in the nursery at House of Hope.  There are several volunteers/nannies playing with the babies all together on the floor -- a great photo opp!!
This photo was taken several weeks ago over Chinese New Year, but it is a favorite of mine.  Selah was actually Christel's roomie for the week (thank you so much Christel for giving of your time to love, cuddle and care for Selah!).  In this shot is a friend of Christel's holding Selah.  I think the expression on our sweet pea's face is just adorable!!  Wish those were my arms holding her... 

We are very blessed that the folks involved with His Hands ministry care so much about babies!

The Latest News

Here's a quick summary of what's new with our adoption process...

Selah's room:
~I have been prepping the walls today and filling nail holes.  I hope to start the first coat of paint this evening.  I'll post before and after photos.  The paint color mom and I chose is so fresh and pretty--can't wait to show it off!  I am also on the lookout for cute wall hangings.

Family Photo Pages for the Taiwan judge:
~We've been hauling our camera around with us wherever we go.  You never know when a great photo opp will present itself!
~We will finish Selah's room quickly since a photo of the nursery will be included in what we sent to the judge.

Official Documents:
~We hope to receive our Chinese translated documents from His Hands in the mail next week.
~We expect to receive our IL state certified marriage license next week.
~We did not apply for our "change of country" with US immigrations yet.  We will apply soon since we don't know how long approval will take.  Our finances are super tight lately due to my hours being cut at work and this application has a fee to submit.  Please pray that sales pick up at Chattanooga Coffee Company--the owners and all of us employees really need to see business picking up asap. 

Raising the Funds:
~Eric and I knew from the start that we'd have to make time for fundraisers for this adoption.  Our referral came as such a surprise that we didn't have the money saved up.  We are thinking of doing a benefit concert / ice cream sundae bar.  We are also thinking of an all church garage sale / bake sale / bazaar.  Or maybe an auction of some kind with donations from local businesses.  We are open to ideas...

~Honestly, this part stresses and intimidates me big time.  With our first adoption I had more free time to write grants and plan creative ways to raise funds.  Our life now is much more active and involved.  Eric and I sincerely appreciate your prayers for God to provide.  We seek his wisdom for which avenues he wants us to pursue.  We certainly don't expect him to hand us a pile of money on a silver platter! lol  (although...He DOES own the cattle on a thousand hills...no no I digress...heehee!)  Seriously though, please pray that we have the strength, energy, creativity and courage to do whatever he leads us to do.  Thanks all!!

Selah's Referral

Since I view this blog as an Adoption Diary of sorts, I want to record details that our family will enjoy reading in the years to come.  I also hope that the words and photos here will be a type of keepsake for Selah to read when she is older and ready to digest her adoption story.  Below is the edited version of our referral email (some things are too private even for a private blog).

Referral for Adoption Name: Ping Chen
Birthday:  October 22, 2010
Weight at birth: 1300 grams
Weight at referral: 2800 grams
Nationality: Taiwanese

Personal and Family Information
Ping Chen's mother is 18 years old.  She has no other children.  Ping Chen's mother lives with her mother. 

Ping Chen was born on October 22nd at 30 weeks gestation, via uncomplicated vaginal delivery.  following her delivery she struggled with her breathing and was placed on a ventilator. She remained on the vent until October 29th. She has no residual breathing difficulties or issues noted on her discharge summary. While in the hospital she received weeks of Oxygen and will be need to be followed by a eye doctor for check for retinopathy of prematurity (ROP).  This is a common occurrence in premature babies.  Her current ROP is Grade 1 and it should improve over time.  She has had one follow up since discharge that showed steady improvement. Ping Chen will also need to follow up with her neonatologist for brain and heart scans to ensure that there are no residual effects from her premature birth. She spent two months in the hospital and has been home with us at the House of Hope for about one month. 

Ping Chen's mother is a full time high school student and when she is not at school she works.  Even with her busy schedule she went to the hospital most days to visit her daughter.  She was very proud to show her daughter to us.  Ping Chen's family wishes to give her up for adoption because they all want her to have a chance for a great future.  They are very grateful to her future family for caring for her and loving her. 
After praying about it we are excited to refer Ping Chen to you.  In the future, Ping Chen's mother and grandmother would like to have photos of her, and meet you when you come to Taiwan.  Please pray about adding this precious baby girl to your family and let us know as soon as you are able.  

Eric and I do actually have a video we took of us reading the email and viewing the photos.  The quality is crummy since it was taken with my phone, and it also has some embarassing moments.  So I think that will be one video that "stays in the family"! lol

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

If you are new around here...

Click Here first for a bit of an explanation of the blog, especially if you don't have a gmail account.  Thanks!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Next Steps

So what's next in our paperchase?  Here is what we **hope** to accomplish by mid-April:

1)  This week I'm mailing our change of country application to USCIS, and mailing our marriage license to the Illinois Secretary of State to get it state certified.

2)  When our Chinese translated home study, power of attorney and adoption contracts arrive from His Hands via FedEx (next week??), we will take all of our remaining documents to our local county clerk's office for county certification.  This has gone quickly for us in the past--last time it took only 20 minutes!

3)  Then we will FedEx everything to the Tennessee Secretary of State for state certification.

3)  Next we take everything to TECO (Taipei Economic and Cultural Office) in Atlanta for authentication.

Home Study
Power of Attorney
Adoption Contract
Police Background Checks
Medical Letters
Employment Letters
Marriage License
Financial Statement

4)  Last, we FedEx the completed dossier to Holly and Trena at His Hands where they apply for a court date

I love checking the steps off my list!!! :)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Cuddle this

Sleep tight, precious one...Jesus is watching over you.


Eric and I (and lots of other folks too) are praising God with us today.  We received our home study document from our social worker this morning!!!  It was actually ready to go yesterday afternoon, but with our work schedules, neither of us was able to go pick it up.  So this morning after dropping Noelle off at preschool, I immediately headed over to our s.w.'s office.  I had a big grin on my face on the drive over. 

When our s.w. greeted me, I gave her a big hello hug and a thank you card.  She was actually quite surprised to see me, as she thought Eric was the one coming to pick up the home study.  We got right down to business looking over the 5 notarized copies (good thing we did - one of them had no notary stamp) but then ended up talking for about 45 minutes!  We had such a nice visit.  She has ridden right along with us on our 2+ year adoption roller coaster and is truly excited for our adoption of Selah.  Thank you Lord for giving us this social worker and friend!

After our visit I rushed home to the computer to scan and email the home study to His Hands before I had to leave for work.  What an awesome feeling!!  This was our first big milestone for this adoption.  Yes!

And even better,,,this evening (tomorrow morning in Taiwan) we received a lovely email from His Hands saying that they received the Home Study and our Power of Attorney documents and they look GREAT.  Yay!  The email also said some sweet things about Selah is and how excited they are for us to meet her.  I have a big ole cheesy grin on my face.  Ahhhh :)  Thank you Lord for this incredible blessing!!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Soooo we think we will have our home study in hand tomorrow morning!  I will drop Noelle off at preschool then head to our social worker's office.  There should be 5 lovely lovely copies of this oh so important document waiting for me.  I will let you all know, because this will be a momentous first step in bringing Baby Selah home to Chattanooga...!!!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Sorry friends

I feel really bad about being such a complainer in my previous post.  I also feel embarrassed. :(  I almost deleted it several times because my whiny words kept whirling in my head.  I decided to leave it, however, in an effort for transparency and openness on the blog, as well as an accountability tool for myself--to rest more upon God's Word and trust in him.  I know he is working all things out for our good and his timing is the best and he is always in control.  I know this.  But sometimes my human-ness gets the better of me. 

Yep, I'm a work in progress.  Praise Jesus, that when I'm not living very patiently, HE is always patient with me! :)

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10

Friday, March 11, 2011

We are stuck here

Disclaimer:  This is a whiny post.

I feel really sad right now because our social worker never called us today to come pick up our home study report.  It is a week past when she said it would be ready and I don't want to get my expectations up for Monday either.  I am really confused because she indicated it would be quick and easy.  I wanted to email her this morning but Eric said not to bug her.  Granted, she is doing us a "certain favor" (mum's the word on that) so we really appreciate her help and don't want to bug her or annoy her.  But it should be a short easy document to finish up-- I actually did the editing and revising of the old home study and made her a photocopy.  She seemed to appreciate me being proactive.  I thought it would save her lots of time.  Theoretically she just needs to type in the edits, sign and notarize.  Pretty please, can we have our home study?  Pretty please, with whipped cream and cherries on top?

Sorry to be such a downer folks.  I'm a whiny pants because Holly and Trena can't translate a home study they don't have.  No more of the paperwork steps can be completed until this happens.  When we received Noelle's referral from China, we traveled in 3 months.  For Taiwan, the time from referral to travel can sometimes stretch up to 12 months.  The court process is a big part of that, getting our AIT (American Institute in Taiwan) appointment, getting Selah's visa, etc.  The thought of having to wait that long makes me quiver in my boots.  I pray every single day for the Lord to move things along much quicker.  I am praying for a miracle--to travel this summer.  I pray for him to remove any hindrances The Enemy may throw in our path. 

I am asking myself:  Is this home study hassle a hindrance meant to delay an orphan getting a family, or is it God trying to slow things down, for reasons only He knows??  THAT my friends, is the question.

In writing this post, I do realize I'm not as rational as I normally would be, due to:
a) I've been sick for 2 weeks,
b) I'm exhausted,
c) My time of the month is almost here which makes me weepy and emotional.(I just made the fellows reading the blog blush--sorry guys!)
d) _______________ (fill in the blank)

Ok this is me signing off.  Gonna have me a little cry and then maybe I'll feel better.

Hey--I told you it was a whiny post! ;-)

About this blog:

For those just joining in -
Everything will make much more sense if you start with the first post.  Just go to the Achives section (top left) and click on the earliest month/posts.

Making Comments -
PLEASE make comments!!  I LOVE comments on the blog.  I appreciate the feedback and it's always nice to know our family and friends are reading along, praying along, and supporting our process.

Regarding Privacy -
When our adoption case makes it through court we will open to blog up to other readers.  Right now we just want to keep the details, photos and such in our circle of family and friends until we can say "Selah is OURS!!!"  (we had a bad experience once upon a time, hence the private blog)

About your Invite -
Unfortunately if you do not have a gmail account, your invite will expire in 30 days.  I had forgotten about this frustrating fact when I started the blog.  (I sure wish Blogger/Google would just accept folks who have other email addresses besides Gmail...)  Soooo, when your invite expires, just send me your email again and I will resubmit it to get you reinvited.

Thanks for joining in, ya'll!  Love you!!! :)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

His Hands Babies, group video 3/10/11

Watch all the way through and you will see some absolute cuties,
including several Selah "spots".

Please no video sharing.  Thanks!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Selah - video #2

Please no video sharing. Thanks!

Selah - video #1

This was the first video we saw of Selah.  It was filmed before we were matched.

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing

Please no video sharing. Thanks!

I'm Missing

I'm feeling a bit sad and sentimental today.  Granted, this dreary rainy day could be a contributing factor.  Mostly though, I feel sad because I'm missing what was and what will be.

I miss China.
Today in the restroom at Barnes & Noble, an Asian mother came in with two small boys.  They were speaking in Chinese and my ears perked up.  As she was trying to get them situated in the stall with the changing table, the toddler boy escaped.  Mom swiftly caught up to him and led him back to the stall.  Her motherly scolding yet loving voice brought me instantly back to our two weeks in China when we adopted Noelle JiaZhen.  Images and sounds from our trip swirled in my head, and I instantly wished we were back there again, reliving that experience of almost 3 years ago...

From the nannies in the orphanage, to our wonderful guides, to the people on the street, hearing words spoken in Chinese has become very special to me.  No, sadly I don't speak Chinese.  Eric and I learned just a few words to assist us with the whole adoption travel experience.  We have the high goal of enrolling in a Mandarin class here in town.  We'd also like Noelle to take lessons if she shows interest.  Now with Taiwan travel in our future, these wishes are again coming to the fore.  Selah is an infant and won't be speaking anything but baby-babble (well unless of course she turns out to be a baby genius, which all of the Johnson children are bound to be! lol :-)), but we would love some independence to be able to interact with the Taiwanese people and Selah's family.

I think someday we will go back to China (and let's add Taiwan to the itinerary).  Noelle occasionally asks about her previous life in the orphanage and especially her "grandmother" nanny.  We'd like to take her back when she is old enough to have a sense of understanding and appreciation.  It will also be another opportunity for Eric and me to express our deep gratitude to those who loved Noelle the first 18 months of her life.  Yes, someday we will go back.

I miss Selah. 
25% of our family is half a world away from me.  Someone else is feeding her, bathing her, changing her, tucking her in at night.  Someone else is on the receiving end of her smiles (this is a very recent skill, we are told), her yawns, her sneezes, even her cries.  We are missing lots of the little "firsts" that so many mamas take for granted.  Someone else gets to tickle, sing and play with her.  Just not us.  Not me.

When I feel this way, I hug my Noelle even tighter, squeeze her just a bit longer, and thank God for the gift we have already received.  My arms just really want to hug 2 girls, in a big gooffy sloppy huggy kissy giggly mess!

I hope I don't sound like I'm complaining.  I'm not.  The volunteers at His Hands love the babies and take such wonderful care of all the little ones in their charge.  Eric and I are constantly thankful that Selah is in the House of Hope receiving cuddles and personal attention, instead of possibly forgotten in a crib somewhere, just one of many babies and not enough caregivers.    I appreciate HH... I - just - want - her - home.

It feels good to be able to write these thoughts here on the blog.  Since many you reading are fellow adoptive parents, you know first hand what it feels like to miss someone you've never met.  I take comfort in the thought that we are in this together.  Pray for me.  I'll pray for you.  And we'll all pray for the babies and children who are waiting.

Not Yet...so when

Still no sign of our finished homestudy.  The completed document was to have been here last Friday.  Then we heard Monday or Tuesday.  The lastest word is "end of the week".

Oooooh this waiting is hard.  We - just - want - to - finish - this - paper - work!  Then we can get apply for a court date for Selah's adoption case to be heard.  Ugh!!

God keeps teaching me to rely on him.  I SOOO want to push this adoption along.  But I can't.  I cannot do a darned thing.  My constant prayer is that God will remove any barriers to this adoption that are not of Him.  After that, the details and the timing is in his hands.

(psst..I am also praying to travel in August.  yep, August.  who's with me?)


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Imagine this

We have a few weeks to transform our upstairs spare bedroom (a.k.a. storage room or "catch all") into an inviting, girly, pink nursery for Selah.  Not because she will be home in a few weeks (If only!!) but because we will be submitting family photo pages to the judge who hears our adoption case.  One picture will of course be The Baby's Bedroom.

Transforming the spare room is quite an undertaking.  Imagine if you will, boxes, bags and piles stacked haphazardly on top of each other.  Books, toys, home decor, momentos from high school and college, future garage sale items, and so on.  There is no path from one side of the room to the other.  A person enters this room at their own risk.  (maybe I shouldn't admit to being the owner of such a room!)  Eek!!

We did get a good start this past weekend in preparation for our home visit with our social worker.  The boxes and stacks of miscellaneous items were sorted.  Some items were put away, like they should have been when we moved into this house 2 1/2 years ago!  Other items were tossed, including a large trash bag full of Noelle's old, outgrown and forgotten toys ("No mommy, don't throw that away!  It's my favorite!!).  And still other items we "reappropriated" to the downstairs spare bedroom (a project for some other day).

I did not take a photo of the room before we started clearing it out (why subject myself to further embarrassment?), but here is the photo of the bare start of a nursery. 

I'm still trying to decide on a color for the walls, and we will need to find some cute artwork to liven up the room.  But at least we have a good start.  At some point I will ask my dear hubby to search the attic for the diaper genie, changing pad and other necessities.  Hey ladies-- I'm open to decorating suggestions.  And can anyone tell me the best places to get cute baby stuff at a steal?

Have any of you adoptive parents experienced this feeling?  When you actually set up the nursery, everything becomes much more real.  You start to imagine the little person in the room.  You start to get glimpses of the future with your much anticipate child.  Your arms ache to hold the little one and your ears long to hear baby sounds.  And, you really really really start to miss your child and want her home!!


Crazy!! (a.k.a. our paperchase thus far)

Doing the paperwork required for an international adoption is never a simple straightforward matter.  It takes a certain level of patience, diligence, humility, organization and determination.  I don't know if I had high levels of all these qualities back when we started our China process, but I can tell you I've grown in all 5 areas!  I often advise, "Expect the unexpected.  And ask lots of questions along the way-- of your agency of course, but also of parents who've gone before you."

This adoption is typical in that there have already been small curve balls.  And it's been less than a month! lol 

First it was the misunderstanding that developed with our home study social worker.  She wrote our first Taiwan home study, our Taiwan update, our Ethiopia home study, and of course we wanted to work with her again.  She thought one thing; we thought another; and I feared we would not get our home study, ever.  (Note to self:  email communication is rife with the possibility for misunderstandings.)  Eric called her and had a lovely phone visit which cleared everything up, PTL.

Second is that dealing with US Immigrations is as confusing as ever.  As of now our government has approved us to bring home a child from Ethiopia.  We need to switch back to Taiwan.  It took some time to track down which form is needed to apply for a "2nd change of country".  We also have conflicting reports on where to send this form/new home study/fee.  If it ends up in the wrong place, it could literally sit ignored in a lockbox.  Please pray that we do the right thing.  Oh and there's that little issue of our fingerprints expiring in July...

Third is gathering new documentation for the home study/dossier, getting new physicals, scheduling visits with the social worker, etc.  His Hands needs the home study to start translating it to Chinese for the Taiwan judge.  With God's help, we gathered and signed and "appointmented" and notarized everything in 1 week!  Woot!!  The crazy goofy part was our social worker being a no-show to our home visit Monday afternoon.  It turns out she was caught on the road in some terrible storms we had in Chattanooga.  Praise God she was unhurt.  Then,,,our rescheduled visit was for Wednesday morning BUT Eric just started jury duty this week!!  We prayed hard and the judge send him home Wednesday morning in time for the home visit.  Yipee!!  Now the last item of business for the home study is getting several notarized originals.  Easy huh?  Well no, not when the social worker's notary's commission expires in a couple months and we have to get another notary and skype with her boss about it and blah blah blah...  I'm tired just writing this because it is all so convoluted.  Well, somehow God will work it out! :)

See what I mean? 
Expect the unexpected. 
Be flexible. 
And while you're at it-- enjoy a little Crazy!! ;-)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Taiwan, the First time

If you read my earlier post, you saw that our current adoption with His Hands is actually our 2nd attempt at adopting from Taiwan.  If you are like me, you enjoy hearing "the story behind the story" when families adopt.  So here is a fuller explanation of our Taiwan adoption experience, the first time around.

------In the fall of 2008 Eric and I started discussing the possibility of adopting again.  We knew before Noelle ever came home from China that this journey was just beginning.  We had opened ourselves up to the heart of God, and we were willing to follow His lead in the process of growing our family.  I joined some adoption forums for research purposes.  After reading several discussions about adopting school aged children and following the blogs of families who were adopting waiting children, I felt drawn to the idea myself.  I started keeping tabs on Waiting Child Photolistings of several adoption agencies, particularly the ones for kids waiting in Taiwan.  I was drawn to a 9 year old girl whose face and profile I saw online that Christmas holiday season.  She had had a very rough start in life and needed to experience the safety and unconditional love of a forever family.  Eric was initially reluctant to pursue an older child but agreed to seek the Lord in prayer.  By March of 2009 Eric felt confident that God was giving us the green light to move forward.

So we signed with an adoption agency representing the girl and began the home study and dossier.  We were approved by the orphanage to continue the adoption process and waited next for the Taiwan social worker assigned to the girl's case to approve us.  We waited for weeks then months and still did not receive word of being approved.  It was during this period of waiting that Eric and I realized that we just wouldn't be able to come up with the hefty fees due upon approval.  So we very sadly asked that our case be put on hold until we could raise the funds.  This was around August or September.  I remember feeling at the time that we would never be able to adopt "Claire" (the name we had chosen) and was very discouraged.  It would take a miracle.

In early December we received a voice mail from the agency director telling us to call her right away.  On December 7, we spoke on the phone.  She told us that the orphange in Taiwan wanted to help us out and was reducing their fees so we could adopt.  Wow!!  Our adoption was back on!  Then a couple weeks later our agency emailed us that an anonymous donor had come forward to pay the majority of our fees.  Double wow!!!  There's that miracle we were talking about!  So we set about planning garage sales and fundraisers, doing more paperwork and  updating our home study. 

Everything changed on March 22, 2010.  We received an email from the director of our Taiwan adoption agency that started something like this:  "Dear Johnson family, It is with much regret that I provide you with an update regarding the adoption case of ******."  Basically in light of some things that happened to "Claire" and with the adoption case, our agency would no longer represent her for adoption, to our family or any family.  Our adoption had ended, for real this time.  Eric and I were devastated.

The next many weeks were spent in tears, questions, soul searching and lots of praying.  We were both trying to figure out what God's point was in clearly leading us down an adoption path that had no child at the end of it.  And why this precious little girl in Taiwan was still without a loving permanent family.  In time we came to realize that God never promised this child to us as our daughter.  He only asked us to pursue her.  To draw attention to her situation.  To call hundreds of people to pray for her.  To awaken the hearts of many to the plight of the orphan and God's love for these forgotten ones.  And also...to do a work in us.  To grow and stretch our hearts.  To take us out of our comfort zone and rid us of our preconceived notions.  To develop within us a greater willingness to seek the things of God and the people who matter most to Him.

People sometimes ask me how I feel now about that whole experience.  I can honestly say that even though the road was one of the most painful I've been on, I don't regret walking it.  It could be SO easy to say that we wasted nearly a year and a half of our life loving a little girl who would never be ours-- we could have been doing something else or pursing another adoption path.  But God never wastes our tears or our time.  His purposes were right and good and are still unfolding.  And a precious girl in Taiwan has a family back in the U.S. who has photos of her around the house and still prays regularly for her. 

And it's our privilege. :)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Introducing Our Daughter!!!

Selah Ping Chen was born October 22, 2010.  She came into the world a bit early-- about 10 weeks too early.  She spent 2 months in the hospital and has had some pretty big challenges.  We would really appreciate your prayers for her health, as we are not really sure the extent of her medical needs.  We are anxious to get her home and evaluate by specialists.  We do have big faith, however, in the Great Physician and are praying for complete healing.  Some good news is that Selah continues to grow and seems to be doing well, praise God!

Please also remember Selah's first mommy.  She loves her daughter very much and visited her almost every day in the hospital in between her classes at school.  Eric and I are excited that we will get to meet Selah's birth family when we travel to Taiwan and look forward to a lifelong connection.

Enjoy the photos!  I will posting some video soon... :)

**Until our court process is complete, we desire to keep all photos, videos and personal details private.  So please, no sharing.  Thanks!

How it all began - Our adoption story in a nutshell

Know what?  This is my 4th adoption blog.  That is wild for me to think about!  Even more surprising is that as I begin writing this 4th adoption blog, our family still only has 1 child at home.  What a crazy roller coaster ride we've been on!!  Read on, and you will see what I mean.. :)

First was China.  We started that journey in the spring of 2006 and submitted our dossier in the fall of that year.  In the spring of 2007 we applied to be on our adoption agency's special needs referral list.  And on December 7, 2007 we received The Call from our caseworker that we had been matched with a 15 month old girl with a minor heart condition.  Noelle JiaZhen was soon to be our daugher-- March 17 (St. Patrick's Day) was the first day we held her in our arms.  Oh what joy!!  She is truly an amazing child and I have learned so much about life and myself and God, just by being her mom.  (If you are interested in reading our China adoption blog, send me an email and I will share the link) 

Second was Taiwan.  In the fall of 2008 Eric and I started discussing the possibility of adopting again.  This time around I was drawn to adopting an older waiting child.  My heart was soften to the needs of school aged and/or special needs kids who typically get overlooked.  Sometime during the winter holidays I saw the online profile of a 9 year old girl in Taiwan.  After requesting her file from the adoption agency, Eric and I prayed about adopting her.  In March 2009 we officially started the process to bring her home.  That was the beginning of a crazy journey that sadly ended in April 2010.  (The full story is in my next post)
Third was Ethiopia.  In addition to having a heart for Asia, I also had a dream to one day adopt a child from Africa.  As we were recovering from our disappointment of our failed Taiwan adoption, we once again began to pray and research options for bringing a child into our family.  Ethiopia stood out for several reasons:  the country program was stable and fairly predictable, children of all ages needed families, we found a very ethical adoption agency we loved (still do!),,,and we had a connection to Ethiopia.  Our church - the Nazarene church - has a huge outreach to Ethiopia and many missionaries from our denomination serve in this beautiful country.  The Nazarene church trains local pastors and helped plant many, many churches across the country.  People are literally being saved by the thousands!!  God is moving mightily in that country.  Ethiopia felt like a good choice for our next adoption.  We would be honored to parent an Ethiopian child and someday return to his/her country to serve the people there.

We began working with Children's Hope International out of St. Louis in June 2010.  We started the home study process with our social worker to change to Ethiopia and began the dossier paperchase.  This time we requested to be matched with a child 0-4 years (CHI does not allow adoptions that change the birth order of the children already in the home) and were open to a variety of special needs.  We also began praying for God to provide the funds needed to proceed.  Due to our modest income level and the particular way ministers are taxed, we were never eligible for the Federal Adoption Tax Credit (to our surprise and disappointment) to build an adoption fund for our second adoption.  So we fervently prayed for God to somehow provide the funds needed to submit our dossier when it was completed.  I started working in August while Noelle was in preschool, we were looking at grant applications, trying to muster the strength for a big garage sale, etc.  We knew that if God had a child for us in Ethiopia, HE would make a way.

By the end of October and the near completion of our dossier, it was evident we didn't have the funds to pay the dossier fee.  I kept hoping and praying for a miracle in those final weeks.  But all along, our overarching prayer was for God's will and HIS timing.  When we entered November, we (mostly me, because Eric was much more "chilled" about things) turned it all over to God and felt peace that what needed to happen would happen.  Maybe we would be able to submit our dossier in the Spring--because it looked like with the Federal Adoption Tax "Credit" having been made a straight "refund", we would finally be eligible!!  Whatever the case, God was in charge.

Fourth, Taiwan! 
About this time I received a very interesting email from Dudley at His Hands.  A couple years prior some dear friends of ours adopted through this small ministry in Taiwan.  We almost submitted an application to them (it was filled out and ready to go), but ultimately decided to pursue the adoption of the school aged girl we had come to love.  Then at one point when that adoption was on hold, we gave consideration to His Hands.  We even requested an application.  As it turns out, they had had such an overwhelming response of adoptive parents, they were no longer accepting applications.  Our names were put on a waiting list to receive an application when their program reopened.

We had pretty much forgotten about the His Hands possibility, it had been so long.  When Dudley's email came on November 15, Eric and I were amazed to read that he was sending us an application packet.  We took a couple days to pray, sought some wise counsel, and decided to go for it!  It seemed like God could be opening an unexpected door and we sure didn't want to ignore His opportunities.  As quickly as we could we filled out the application and turned it in.  And we left the outcome in God's hands (His Hands).

In January we received another email from Dudley that we had been accepted into the program and were now waiting for a referral.  Yay!!  Eric and I thought, okay, now we plan and save and get house projects finished and and...and maybe in a year we'll get matched with a child.  On our application we put that we were open to a child 0-4 and were open to special needs.  We left it wide open for God to choose our child.

On Sunday morning February 6th I had a HUGE SURPRISE in my email from Holly and Trena at His Hands-- our referral!! for a 3 1/2 month old baby girl!!!!!!!!!!!!!  What??????

We laughed and cried and praised God.  And to think of all the planning that I had done these past 2 years.  God was putting the pieces together for His plan to unfold.  All I can say is, W O W God.

Stay tuned for The Rest of The Story... :)