Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Choosing an Agency

Posted by Angie at 12:20 PM 7 comments
As I mentioned in this post, we have some adoption news!  We have officially put in an application for an agency in Taiwan!  As I said here, we weren't planning to do this until May (when we have more $$$ saved up), but we feel so led to this country and this agency that we refuse to let fear guide us.  We are praying God will provide!  I don't want to say which agency we have applied to until we hear if we have been accepted, but we are SO excited.  We should hear back in about a month.  I am trying not to check my e-mails too frequently.  Did I mention that we are so excited?!?!

I get a lot of e-mails from people asking "How do you find the right agency?"  For those of you that are interested, here are some websites and tips that we have found useful.  Buckle up--here we go!

1. I cannot stress HOW IMPORTANT it is to choose an ethical agency.  We have all heard horror stories about corrupt adoption agencies (like this one).  It is your job to do your homework!  This is not the time to save money by going with the cheapest agency.  How do you know if a beautiful website = a beautiful heart?  Here are some tips:
  • Check out this website: Ethica: An Independent Voice for an Ethical Adoption
  • Don't trust an agency just because they have "christian" in their title.  Sad, but true.
  • Look for bad reviews.  For every agency we considered, I scoured the internet not only for the good, but for the bad.  For example, if we were looking at an agency hypothetically called Baby Adoption, I would type in "Baby Adoption bad," "Do not use Baby Adoption," "Baby Adoption corrupt," and other phrases like that into a google search to see if anything popped up.  Also, review websites like this are helpful.
2. Once your agency has passed the ethics test, talk to some other families who have used them.  While the agency likely has a list of families they would be more than happy for you to talk with, I would encourage you to find families not on their list.  The way that I did this was by searching for blogs.  To use our example from above, type in "Baby Adoption blogs" or "We are adopting with Baby Adoption."  Then, ask those families about their experience with the agency!  Some questions might include:
  • Would you work with them again?
  • What is their biggest strength?
  • What are some of their weaknesses? (ALL agencies have them!  Best to know now so you can weigh the pros and the cons)
  • Were there any surprises along the way in your adoption?  How did the agency handle them?
Those should get the conversation started and you can always ask more questions from there.  I have found that people who LOVE their agencies send long, sparkling reviews about them, which is great!

3. Talk to the agency itself!  Ask questions!  Get a feel for them.  How fast do they answer your questions?  What is the tone of the e-mails?  Do you feel comfortable?  The agency you choose is going to be so important to you in the coming months/years, you want to make sure it is someone that you like.  Someone professional.

****Important!  Ask the agency how many families they work with at a time.  If possible, you should ONLY work with agencies that have a set number.  For example, the agency we have applied with only works with 20 families at a time.  We know that should they accept us, we will not be sitting on an endless/foggy/nebulous waiting list, but only have 19 families ahead of us.  It is better to sit on a waiting list for an application than to be accepted with an agency that has no cap on the number of families they work with!  That situation often leads to heartbreak as you wait and wait and wait on a child in an overwhelmed agency.  I was told this time and time again from seasoned adoption mamas.  So I am telling you!

4.  Are you interested in adopting from Taiwan?  Look at the right hand of this website for a list of agencies/orphanages to start your research.

{Probably a baaaaad idea. source}
Gosh, I feel like there is so much more, but this is probably enough of a start for now.  This advice is what worked for us, but something different might work better for you!  Good luck as you embark on your adoption journey and find the perfect agency for your family.

Other adopting mamas...what advice would you give to families looking for an agency?

Much love,
Future Mama

Monday, March 28, 2011

Have you seen the Ethiopian news?

Posted by Angie at 4:33 PM 5 comments
To all my Christian bloggy friends adopting from Ethiopia--have you seen the news?
  • "Thousands of Christians have been forced to flee their homes in Western Ethiopia after Muslim extremists set fire to roughly 50 churches and dozens of Christian homes."
  • "Anywhere from 3,000 to 10,000 have been displaced in the attacks that began March 2, 2011."
  • "The violence against Christians in Ethiopia is alarming because Ethiopian Muslims and Christians used to live together peacefully. Besides, it’s extremely disconcerting that in Ethiopia, where Christians are the majority, they are also the victims of persecution," Jonathan Racho, ICC's Regional Manager of Africa and South Asia."
     
    QUOTE SOURCE: Fox News Article found here
     
    Remains of a Protestant church in Asendabo, Ethiopia {source}
    Remains of burned down church in 200 miles west of Ethiopian capital. {source}
    This article claims that in addition to the churches and homes of Christians, an orphanage has been burned.
     
    I am surprised by how little information I can find about this online.  And none of the news articles are able (or willing) to report on a concrete origin of the events.  The article above claims the conflict may have began after one Christian desecrated the Koran by writing "Jesus is the Lord" within it, but other articles do not mention this or contradict the story.
     
    Either way, I think this is a situation and an area that needs our prayers.  For most of us, red traffic lights (which admittedly do pose the threat of making us late) are the only things that keep us from church on Sundays.  We are truly blessed.
     
    Much love, 
    Future Mama  

Why my bed rocks at night.

Posted by Angie at 10:00 AM 3 comments
{I have some adoption related news coming, I promise! Plan to put up the post Tuesday or Wednesday.  But for now, here is a silly little post for your entertainment...} 

Often, as I sit in bed, finishing a last couple e-mails and such, the bed starts shaking.  Why, you might ask (or be afraid to ask)?  Because Future Papa is laughing so hard.

In case you haven't heard, apparently the iPhone has an insistent auto-correct program.  Websites have sprung up across the web documenting these fails, and my darling hubby is quite fond of them.

Some examples:



(to see more, here is one such site that makes him laugh endlessly, but let me warn you, many of the corrections are quite raunchy!!)

I have rarely seen him laugh as hard or as quickly as he does at these sites.  The room will be completely silent, and then....*giggle* *snort* *pshhh haha*

Oh he is so goofy.  And I love it.

Does your significant other have goofy guilty pleasures like this?  Or are you, perhaps, the silly one? ;-)

Much love,
Future Mama

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Orphan Statistics

Posted by Angie at 7:00 AM 0 comments
Future Papa and I are in the process of making a short video to announce our adoption to family and friends!  Most of the video will focus on our excitement to become parents, but I also wanted to include some powerful statistics.  Recently, I stumbled across this list, which was drawn from UNICEF and The Children on the Brink Report.  Here are some of the highlights (perhaps lowlights is a better term):
  • Every 2 seconds, an orphan dies from malnutrition.
  • 87.6 million orphans live in Asia. 43.4 million orphans live in Sub-Saharan Africa. 12.4 million orphans live in Latin America and the Caribbean. 
  • Think about it: Vulnerable children, with few means of supporting themselves, and are often forced to work in commercial agriculture, as street vendors, in domestic service, and in the sex trade. They are much more likely to be victims of human trafficking.
  •  "In our area, it is estimated that 90% of orphan children have become sexually active by age 12, whether by abuse, exploitation or simple lack of role models in their decimated family unit."
Scary.  Like I talked about here, my eyes are being opened.  To see more statistics from the list, you can click here.

{source}
While we feel led to adopt, I want to stress that there are so many ways beyond adoption to help orphaned children!  Foster care, mission trips, material donations to orphanages, prayer, financial donations to adopting families, and so much more...

Much love,
Future Mama

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Do I see a three, a three, a three fifty?

Posted by Angie at 10:16 PM 1 comments
As you might have guessed from the title, one of my best bloggy friends is having an adoption auction
This is honestly my favorite kind of fundraiser.  And she has so much to choose from! 
So go on, take a gander...
bid on a little gift for a friend, for your kids, or for yourself...
and help this family get their baby(ies) home!!
You know you want to :-)

simply simon

Much love,
Future Mama

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Winner Is ME!

Posted by Angie at 3:35 PM 1 comments
My darling hubby watches a lot of basketball.
{Couldn't resist putting up this picture...take a close look...}
{Ha! Yep!  That's her pregnant belly! Source
Usually, it doesn't bother me.  We both have teams we passionately root for.  I attended a large, SEC university as an undergraduate.  My only siblings are two sports-lovin' brothers, one of whom is now a collegiate football kicker (yes, we are quite proud!).  But, every now and then, the nonstop sound of cheering fans and excitable announcers gets on my very last nerve.

This weekend was one of those weekends, when after a long day, the last thing I wanted to see and hear was more basketball.  I began straightening the living room, putting things away, whirling around the darling hubby, who was trying to enjoy his game. 

"Who's winning?"  I asked.  This is usually my lead into politely getting the channel changed to an episode of Bones, Castle, or House Hunters.  If team A is beating team B by a significant amount of points, then the game can be turned off.  Future Papa, sensing my agitation, paused, looked at me, and replied:

"I'm winning, because I married you."

I know, I know, SO corny!  But at that moment, that was exactly what I needed.  So unexpected at that moment, as I was tossing couch pillows back into place.  Love appearing in an activity as mundane as watching basketball.

I'm so blessed to have the Future Papa, I know he will be a great dad.

Much Love,
Future Mama

Thursday, March 17, 2011

So Much Easier to Ignore

Posted by Angie at 2:09 PM 18 comments
I ran across this quote ages ago and saved it onto my computer:

"Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they're not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes. So when you and I hear staggering numbers and statistics about the poor and needy around us and around the world, we have a choice. We can switch the channels on our mega-TVs and continue our comfortable, untroubled, ordinary, churchgoing lives as if the global poor don't exist. We can let these numbers remain cold, distant, and almost imaginary. Or we can open our eyes and our lives to the realities that surround us and begin considering the faces that are represented by these numbers."
-David Platt
{source}
We have just begun this adoption journey, but I am already discovering so many realities that I had previously ignored. The world is a beautiful place, but it can also be heartbreaking.  It's probably best ya'll learn this about me now, I'm a crier. Happy, sad, angry, stressed...it doesn't take a whole lot to set me off. Something tells me that I am going to need to invest in more tissues over the coming months... 

Much love,
Future Mama

*please support us through our journey with your prayers, advice, and donations.  help us bring our child home.  see our donate tab.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How to enjoy a storm

Posted by Angie at 12:36 PM 3 comments
"A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship.  But though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease." John Muir

I love storms.  
 
The brilliant, jagged flash of lightning

The deep, echoing rumble of thunder

Sheets of rain tumbling to the earth

Big storms make the hairs on my arm raise and my heart beat a little faster.

I don't quite appreciate the rain when I have to go to work in it.  But when I can stay home with a blanket and a book, I love rainstorms.  This morning was one of those times.  We didn't have a huge storm, just one of those sleepy little "summer is hovering just around the corner" showers.  And I loved it.

I can't wait for our child to be home, enjoying the excitement involved in a really big storm.  I remember watching storms as a little girl.  I would press my face against the window, jumping away with each loud crack of thunder.  I continue to be amazed by the power of weather.  And horrified by the destruction it can bring.

 
But as I think about enjoying these days with our future little one, I also think about...pent-up energy!  For all the mamas out there, what are some of your favorite rainy day activities to do with kids?  And for those without kiddos, what did you do during storms when you were little?

Much love,
Future Mama
P.S. Pssst...did you see our big announcement Monday here?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Leaves of Love

Posted by Angie at 7:02 AM 3 comments
Are you looking for a fun, beautiful, and (perhaps most importantly) a successful adoption fundraiser?  Imagine a tree, brown and branching.  Each leaf is a fingerprint, accompanied by a signature.  Imagine it framed on the wall of your future child's room.  A reminder of the love, the tears, the joy, and the work that went into getting your special child home.  (Adoption brings a whole new meaning to "labor pains," doesn't it?!)  You can see it now: this tree, overflowing with the fingerprints of family, friends, and colleagues, each accompanied by their signature.  This tree is going to take your breath away every time you walk past the room.  Your child is going to be able to look up and see all the people who loved him or her even before he or she arrived home.
 
Something like this?
Or this?
or maybe this?!

{For those of you who may be new to the blog, hi!  My hubby and I are having our first child.  But...we're not pregnant!  We are adopting from Taiwan.  And we are so excited.}

Like most families who decide to adopt, we were haunted by fears of financing.  How could we afford an international adoption?  The need is so great, but so is the cost.  We discovered that we were not alone.  Most adopting families wrestle with these fears, these struggles, these doubts.  I jumped from one fundraising scheme to another.  We've tried auctions, selling jewelry, just plain asking for donations.  Each scheme has various levels of success.  Nevertheless, we wanted to do something more.  We wanted to raise money not just for ourselves, but for others.

Looooong story a little shorter, we have paired with a fabulous designer, Love from the Thumb, to create Leaves of Love Adoption Kits!

How will that help you raise money?  In all sorts of ways!  Each kit comes with the tree of your choice, empty and ready to be filled with fingerprints.  Maybe you are adopting from Africa and love this design:
The prints come in two sizes, either 11x17 (holds approximately 50-65 signatures) or 24x36 (holds approximately 100-150 signatures).  Printed on high quality paper with Epson HDR Inks.
You kit also comes with these:
A Custom Ink Pack!  Contains a four pack of Tsukineko Momento Inks and a fine tip black marker. The ink pack comes with four inks, three shades of green and one red (for parents to make a heart in the center of the country).  The inks come in a wooden display case customized with the phrase "one less" in honor of your adoption. The perfect keepsake to hold and display your inks!

What can you do with these trees?  Here are some ideas to get you started!

1. A letter writing campaign. First, take a picture of your naked tree.  Then, in a big, bold, colorful font at the top of your letter write the slogan of your campaign.  Maybe it will be:
  • "Leaf" a sign of love for our future little one.
  • Help!  Our tree is NAKED!
  • We have fall-en in love with a baby halfway across the world.
  • The Smith family is blossoming and we need your help!
  • Would you like to be a part of our family tree?
Then, lovingly explain your adoption and humbly ask for a donation, no matter how big or small.  Explain that with each donation, you will add a thumbprint to the tree and sign their name.  Keep it simple or make it even more creative by assigning ink colors to donation amounts.  After receiving their donation, mail them a thank you with a picture of their "leaf" and name.  

2. 
Do you have a blog?  Fabulous!  Take pictures of your tree and sell leaves online.  You can post a new picture of your tree each month to show your readers how your tree is growing and encourage them to take part!

3. 
Get your church involved!  Find a secure place to leave your tree and a piggy bank.  Or, bring it with you and place it in the lobby or fellowship hall each Sunday morning or Wednesday night.  Make an announcement about your tree.  Advertise for it in the bulletin.  Bring it to Sunday school classes.  Invite members of your church to make donations and leave their fingerprints.  Here's a fun twist:  ask them to write their favorite bible verse by their fingerprint.

4.  Incorporate the tree into all your other fundraising efforts.  Place a print on your tree for every t-shirt or coffee bag you sell.  Set it on a table when you have a bake sale, garage sale, or benefit concert.   Add prints for online auction bidders, necklaces sold, or socks knitted.  The sky is the limit!  

 *   *   *
Now...you might be thinking...this is all really great, Future Mama, but we aren't adopting!  Or we already adopted!  NO PROBLEM!  Can't you see this tree filled with the prints of your children hanging in your living room?  Or a gotcha day gift?  Or the perfect gift for loving grandparents who have it all?  LOVE MAKES A FAMILY, NO MATTER HOW YOUR FAMILY WAS CREATED!  Get creative!  These kits are SO affordable! 

I could talk on and on about this.  I have about 3 dozen more pictures of the trees I could add to this post.  I could just gush on and on about how excited I am!  But I hold myself back now and tell you...just go check out the website!  We have SO much more information there, as well as order information.  

I would love to hear what ya'll think of these!  I have been so excited about them ever since this post.  My prayer is that these kits will help dozens and dozens of families bring their children home.  There are well over 147 million orphans in the world.  Let's see how many families we can make!!

Much love,
an ecstatic Future Mama

Friday, March 11, 2011

I Make Ugly Animal Noises

Posted by Angie at 9:03 AM 0 comments
We have made an important discovery.  

The Future Papa can make excellent animal noises.  

Future Mama, however, cannot.

Hence, it has been decided that the Future Papa will be in charge of teaching our darling little one all animal noises.  Future Mama will stick to numbers and colors.

Much Love,
Future Mama

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

WOW Wednesday: Best Adoption Book

Posted by Angie at 3:00 PM 6 comments
{Definition: WOW Wednesday.  Also known as Words of Wisdom Wednesdays.  This is a post which begs invites you to SHARE your wisdom with first time mamas...like me!}

A brief search on Amazon brings up hundreds of choices.  Fat books, skinny books, colorful books, classic books, new editions...on and on and on.  If you are an adoptive mama, you know exactly what I am talking about: adoption books!  I'm not chatting about children books here (a topic for another post), but guidebooks geared to adopting parents.  The ones that advise the perfect way to raise adopted children, the issues that you and your child will face, bonding exercises...on and on and on.  Now, before I drone on and on and on, I'll ask today's question:

What is the BEST adoption guide/advice book for parents?

Yes, that is vague.  Yes, it will likely be different for different people.  I am talking about the book that you have COVERED with a florescent highlighter.  The one with underlines and stars on every page.  The one that is tattered and falling apart.  The one that you could not have survived the first year without.  The one you return back to time and time again for its words of wisdom.  The one that looks like this:
{source}
Can't pick one? Ok, ok, give me two :-)  Maaaaaybe three, if it really is that tough of a decision.  While I could read all 106,873 books on adoption out there, I would kinda like to spend some time making things for the nursery, picking out bedtime stories, and dreaming about the future babe.  Don't get me wrong, I KNOW these books are important...but I don't want to turn into a bookworm (well...more of a bookworm, hehe).  My goal is to work through some of your faves this summer and then pass along my personal picks to the hubby.

So....yay!  Can't wait to see what you say!

And for fundraising mamas who are in need of a bit of hope, check out this sweet family's success story.  I know I was bawling by the end of it!  God is SO good!

Much love,
Future Mama

Monday, March 7, 2011

$1016

Posted by Angie at 7:30 AM 3 comments
Yep!  That's right!  We officially raised $1016 dollars for our adoption through the Show Some Love Adoption Auction!  Thank you SO MUCH to all of you who were involved, we really couldn't have done it without your shout outs, your bids, and your donations.  We are SO blessed.

That being said, there are TWO items whose bidders I could not get in touch with!  I would hate to have to e-mail the wonderful makers who donated the items and tell them that nobody wanted what they make :-(  So, if you are willing to donate:

$5.00 for a beautiful dream catcher
(more information about the item here)

or

$7.00 for TWO pairs of earrings
(more information about the item here)

...then leave me a comment with your e-mail address and let me know!  First one to comment claiming the item gets it.  I will send an e-mail that person's way with directions for donating and such!

Much love,
Future Mama
**sorry for the short post...I have so much randomness I want to share with you all, but this week I may have to be a bit brief so I can channel most of my energy here

Friday, March 4, 2011

My Weekend To-Do List

Posted by Angie at 9:00 AM 3 comments
So I have mentioned before that I am currently writing a thesis for my MA degree.  I try not to drag it into this blog too often (the poor project gets dragged into just about every other aspect of my life), but let me just give you a peek into my weekend:

{source}

While I find this comic hilarious, the sad truth is that my to-do list really has experienced this transformation.  Laundry became pressing, closet organization critical, and e-mails simply couldn't go a few minutes without being answered.  In the list of ways I love my thesis, I am currently weeping the absence of pages:


My third chapter is due next FridayOne week.  For the sake of utter and embarrassing honesty...I still have 20 pages that need to be written.  In the past two weeks I have been "working" on my thesis, I have managed to eek out a measly 3 pages.  3 ya'll.  3.  Pathetic by any standard.  My superpower of procrastination has also left me in an even worse predicament:  in just a few hours, my kiddos (aka undergraduate students) will be taking a midterm. Which means that I also have this to look forward to:


Followed by this:

And eventually this:

Oh boy!  What a weekend/week ahead of me.  It's just a week, right?  In a week I'll be laughing about this sleeping.  Ha.  Anyone else have problems with procrastination?  Grand tips so that I don't dig myself into a hole for the next deadline?  I am so kicking myself now.

I hope you all have wonderful plans for the weekend.  Let me live vicariously through you!  You know what I think you should do?  Check out THIS BLOG because tomorrow they are starting their adoption auction!  Side note...I just LOVE their blog design--isn't it just the cutest?  And don't worry, I haven't forgotten to update you on our own auction!  I can count the number of people who I still need to donate on one hand and hope to announce our grand total very very soon!

Much love,
Future Mama

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Choosing Gender: Part 2

Posted by Angie at 8:06 AM 9 comments
Topics of the Hour: nerves, glittery shoes, flowers, and choosing gender part 2
(part 1 here)
{source}
But first, a little background:
As I mentioned Monday, I volunteered in our church's nursery this past Sunday.  When I saw that bright yellow insert in the bulletin asking for more help at 11:00, I thought hmm, why not?  We typically attend the 9:30 contemporary service (where Future Papa plays bass) and bible study at 11:00, so I supposed it couldn't hurt to miss a bible study from time to time.  Plus, volunteers only help out once every 9 weeks or so (hired teachers supervise week in week out), so I decided this would be a good way to  ease into my future mommyhood. 

Nerves:
I was assigned the terrible 2 year old room.  When I strolled into the class, the kiddos were all sitting peacefully eating their snack.  Too peaceful.  I introduced myself to the teacher and watched them somewhat awkwardly as ten little pairs of eyes stared back.  They munched their animal crackers slowly (which I desperately wanted!  I was starving!).  I suddenly realized I had not played with kids this young in years.  Future Papa and I worked as camp counselors all through college, sure.  But these kids had itty bitty fingers.  Itty bitty feet (oh yes, still love the baby feet).  These were no elementary/middle/high school campers.  These kiddos were nearly babies.  Fragile little humans.  Insert the butterflies.  

Glittery Shoes:
The crackers disappeared into their bellies and the toddling two-year-olds were released!  First task:  Monitor Mr. Potato Head Playtime.  I sat down amongst the pile of plastic eyeballs and earrings when immediately a little girl with the cutest little shoes plopped down on my lap and asked to be read a book.  These shoes are almost as cute as her shoes:
{source}
I am convinced no human could refuse a creature with such piercing blue eyes as hers, so I happily settled down to read a tale about colors.  She flipped the pages and leaned her cute little curls against my chest.  Remember that internal debate about choosing gender?  Yep, she captured my heart and I immediately began dreaming about adopting a little girl.

Flowers:
After about 20 minutes of turning pages and forcing objects into poor Mr. Potato Head, we proceeded to the playground.  I situated myself in the sandbox to continue entertaining and refereeing the toddling twos.  Not long into our quest to build a sand volcano, a precious little boy in overalls came up and handed me one of these.
{source}
After expressing my delight for the yellow weed flower, the tiny boy's face lit up and it was all I could do to stop myself from reaching over and squishing his little chubby cheeks.  He proceeded to bring me about ten more yellow weed flowers and then joined us in the quest to construct a sand volcano.  As I watched him and the other bouncing boys whirl around the sandbox with their trucks, I couldn't help but think how lucky I would be to be referred a little boy like this.

Choosing Gender:
Long story short long, I had a WONDERFUL time with the terrible terrific twos.  And I wish I could be on the rotation more than once every nine weeks!

The big picture conclusion?  If I am this wishy washy about gender...I think we are much closer to having a decision.  I just don't know if I can place a check in a girl box or a boy box.  We will certainly keep praying about this...but at this point, I think it might be best to check that little either box and see what we are blessed with :-)

Much love,
Future Mama
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