Dossier

Dossier
This is the package that carried our hearts through Paris, Dubai, and on to Ethiopia :)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

It Is Well With My Soul

The year 2010 will soon come to a close, and this week I have found myself thinking a lot about the events of this past year, and what it held for Shane and I. I guess six words sum up how I feel: it is well with my soul. I wouldn’t trade a single moment from this past year – not a tear, not one moment of bad news or disappointment, not a single piece of gov’t paperwork, not a minute. This year my faith was tested and strengthened, my relationship with God deepened, and my worldview broadened. He taught me things that I would never have learned had I not “been through the valley”.

There are several specific things that I have learned this year. One, I need God – each and every second of every day. During our fertility battle with all the pills, tests, procedures, and disappointments, I could not have gotten through a day without precious moments in God’s Word and tearful prayers. I journal my prayers…I look forward to reading them to my kids many years down the road. During the last six months with our adoption journey, I have depended on God so much. I depend on Him to take care of our finances, to take care of our son and his birthmother, and to give me peace each day knowing that soon I will be a mother. God has never let me down. He is so good.

Two, I have learned that it’s not all about me. There is a whole world out there full of hurting and hungry people that need their physical and spiritual needs met. Before this year I wanted to save money so that we could buy a nice house…now we are praying about downsizing from our comfortable rental home so that we can have more to give. Compared to how the rest of the world lives, we live in a mansion – we live in luxury (the dictionary reference of a luxury is “the enjoyment of comforts and pleasures in addition to those necessary for a reasonable standard of well-being”). I’m not saying this to puff us up, I’m just trying to be transparent about the change God has made in our hearts. Allow Him to change yours too. Do you need the latest and greatest things? Does God call us to climb the corporate ladder, drive nice cars, buy a nice house, have only our “own” children, save every extra penny for extravagant vacations, and take “love your neighbor” only as being nice to the person who lives directly next door to us?? No.

Three, I have (naturally) learned so much about adoption. God put a love for adoption in my heart as a teenager, but it wasn’t until this year that the love truly grew. Soon after love grew in my heart, it started to grow in Shane’s as well. Shane found this statistic on the Grace House web page and read it to our church on National Orphan Sunday: “There are as many orphaned and vulnerable children in Ethiopia as there are people in greater NYC.” (Follow this link to more heartbreaking statistics of orphans here and around the world http://gracehouse.info/?page_id=655) So, what are we supposed to do about this? God tells us in the Bible. In James 1:27 it tells us “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you”. Not everyone is called to adopt, but everyone IS called to care for orphans. You can do this by praying for the orphans of the world and for families to be raised up to adopt, pray for families who are already in the adoption process, go on a missions trip to help meet the needs of orphans and orphanages around the world, become a foster parent here at home, or give of your financial resources to help a family adopt (as many of you have already done for us, and we are so grateful). There are many ways to be obedient.

God put two different books in my life this year that have really been an integral part of opening my eyes and changing my heart. Besides the Bible, nothing has stirred my heart more. I fully recommend these books – read them and let them change you. Let them strengthen your faith in Christ and change your desires. One is Radical by David Platt, and the other is True Religion by Palmer Chinchen, PhD. Before I started writing this post, I was reading a chapter in True Religion. I love this:

“If there is a way to a stronger heart for God, what is it? How do I have it? The way to a strong physical heart is not to rest it. Sitting on the couch watching too many episodes of Family Guy will atrophy your heart. Your heart is a giant muscle, and the only way to a ferociously strong heart is to work it out, exhaust it, make it beat hard. Climb a mountain. Do something so difficult your heart feels like it’s going to beat right out of your chest. I believe it works the same way spiritually. When you get up and get out and live your life for Christ, your spiritual heart beats stronger. I know this has been true in my life. My most difficult moments have been the moments that have shaped my heart most for God. They are heart-aching, heart-breaking moments I wish I could take back, but I know they have made me large-hearted and brought me closer to heaven. All I can tell you is what I know: When your heart begins to feel like it is a hundred miles from heaven, give your life away - mentor, serve, give, share, hold, encourage, love…and let God grow your heart.”

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Adoption Stories

Follow this link to our adoption agency's website, where you can read stories about adoption, the process, bonding, etc. It was after reading the article "The Adoption Gene" that I realized I "carry" it. I remember saying to friends and family as a teenager that I wanted to adopt, and that there were so many children already here on earth that needed parents. Although the process to get here has been painful, I thank God for bringing this desire as a young person full circle in my life.

www.awaa.org/stories

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Just wanted to give an update on funds raised this month for the adoption. Between the Adoption Yard Sale Event, the two day neighborhood garage sale at the Cady's, and donations from friends, family, and church family, the total comes to $4,574.00! Praise the Lord!
We are so excited about what God is doing in our lives through His people. He has provided for the adoption every step of the way, and we know that He will continue to do so! This adoption has changed our lives. We have cut back in ways we didn't think possible, and have really realized a lot of things we can do without! Our Jeep engine blew a few weeks ago, and that typically would have been devastating to us because of the price tag attached ($2,000 to fix, or more to get a different car). We were able to almost laugh about it, knowing that this is part of Satans plan to mean evil. Well, what Satan intends for evil, God means for good. We have decided God wants us to just wait. Shane has been riding his bike to work every day, and has quite enjoyed it! It's good exercise and good for his health, he gets fresh air, and we are saving money on gas. We should be able to continue on this way into the New Year, which gives us time to pray and see what God has in store next. God is good ALL the time. Thank you a million times over for your prayers, your support, and for loving our sweet little African boy.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Most Richly Blessed

"I asked for strength that I might achieve; I was made weak that I might learn to humbly obey.
I asked for health that I might do greater things; I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked for riches that I might be happy; I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men; I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life; I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I had asked for, but everything that I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself my unspoken prayers were answered; I am , among all men, most richly blessed."
-an unknown Confederate soldier

We may not have any clue when we will get to meet and hold our son, still have far to go financially with the adoption, and currently have only one functioning vehicle, but we are among all men most richly blessed.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Blankets


This past summer during VBS, the children at our church made blankets to be used for missions in some way. As part of our garage sale, we were able to use the blankets to sell, but to also provide an orphan care opportunity! We promised that for each blanket sold, we would take one over to Africa to be given to an orphan when we go pick up Silas next year. We are happy to say that about 19 blankets were sold and we will be taking a suitcase full of blankets over to Ethiopia! Thank you to all of you who purchased a blanket or were a part of the garage sale in some way!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Adoption Yard Sale

What a CRAZY weekend?! This past Saturday, we held our massive yard sale! Over the past several weeks, we have had a ton of items donated to us from friends to be sold in the yard sale. Our shed behind the church was jam packed with things to sell. On Friday, Nov. 5th, we had an official 'drop off' time where we collected even more items that couldn't fit in the shed. You name it and I guarantee we had it for sale-from pool tables to weed-eaters; ninja stars to baby clothes.

Saturday morning began at 4am with a brave group of men to move tables and all the items into the designated area. It was 45 degrees that morning here in Orlando!!! Coffee was a must. By 7am, everything was out, priced, and ready to be sold! It looked like a Walmart with everything we had! The cold weather delayed the crowds until around 8am. We had a steady stream of buyers from 8am-2pm and even several people for 3 hours after the official end time. By 5:30pm, everything was cleaned up and packed away.

Our grand total from Saturday and some extra donations on Sunday was....

$3,517.30!!!

It was such an amazing weekend for us! We were thankful for the great team of friends who worked with us on Friday evening and all day Saturday. Summer's sister and mother flew in from North Carolina and Jamaica respectively to assist in the great adventure!

We still have a ton of nice items that we plan on selling this coming weekend at a community yard sale down the street.

Once we finish our dossier, we have a hefty payment that will be due that totals between $6,500-$7,500. Between this yard sale and other generous donations over the past week, we are expecting to be able to write a check for the amount due. God has been so faithful to us!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Things we've been given by friends and family, or acquired from consignment sales. This is our hope room - this room makes us happy :)

Friday, September 24, 2010

We mailed our I-600 form today, which was such a relief! We have been waiting for several weeks to get the original copies of our completed home study from our case worker. There were a couple of minor setbacks in getting those completed, but everything is good now and we can move forward to the next step! At this point, we wait for approval from the government to be able to bring a child here from Ethiopia. This could take anywhere from 6-12 weeks. Hurry up and wait! After we get approval, we can officially send in our dossier and begin waiting for a referral! My heart longs for Silas.

Prayer requests:
1. Join us in praying for Silas if you aren't already. Pray for his health, and that he can be united with us as soon as possible. Pray for the nannies at the transitional home as they will care for him.
2. Pray for his birthmother. Pray that God will give her peace in her heart. I'm not sure what her situation is, but I'm sure she is scared and needs peace about her decision.
3. Pray for the whole paperwork process. Pray that all the documents get into the right hands, and that there won't be any setbacks! Pray that the I-600 doesn't take 12 weeks to approve.
4. Pray for me. I am emotional. I don't have a growing belly, have ultrasounds, or feel kicks. Some people don't "get" adoption, or are just insensitive in the things that they say. They don't see adopting a child to start a family the same as having "your own" child. I live through each day with the hope of Silas and dreams of our trip to Africa to get him. I am so thankful for those who ask about Silas and our process. Thank you for loving us and loving him!

God sent several people to my office today that really encouraged my heart! The first was a lady this morning that is a missionary to Africa. She was so excited to hear about our adoption, and gave me some great advice. She was saying that I really needed to find a christian family here in Orlando that is originally from Africa that can be a part of Silas's life. It will be important for him culturally and identity wise. Being black herself, she also gave me some great tips on how to deal with his hair! :)

Later on this afternoon, God sent some other people to me. They are a christian family that goes to First Baptist Orlando, and are from Nigeria! They also spoke very encouraging words. I told them I would love to get to know them better and learn from them about their culture, foods, etc. God is good!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Progress

These last two days we have had some fun and exciting things happen for the adoption! On Thursday night, ten ladies from church came over for a jewelry party that our friend Cookie had for us and Silas. It was a really special time for us. Cookie has used her job with Premier time and time again as a resource to help others. She has had several parties for our student ministry over the last several years to raise funds for summer camp. She is giving all of the profit from Thursdays party to Shane and I to help us with the cost of our adoption. We are so thankful for Cookie, and for all of you who either came to the party or ordered something. God continues to provide for us and we are so grateful!

Last night we had our adoption homestudy. Our social worker was assigned to us by our agency (America World Adoption Agency) and we LOVE her! She is so laid back and easy to talk to. She did not go through our home with a white glove or try to intimidate us. She was very encouraging and had lots of good advice for us about things to come in the process. Last night's visit basically entailed going through a series of questions regarding our pasts, our expectations, and how we will parent/discipline. One of the questions was "how will you integrate your child's culture/heritage into their life?". Shane and I have had many conversations about this over the last couple of months. We have read several books that have several different opinions. I don't think that there is any set answer, and it will depend on Silas. We will teach him about his country, integrate some Ethiopian foods into our meals, and even take him back to Ethiopia to visit when he is older. Will we send him to culture camps and stuff? Probably not. After all, he will be growing up an American. We have been told there is a great Ethiopian restaurant somewhere in Orlando. We will try to go every now and then, but if Silas hates the food...we will stop. We never want to confuse him or force him. It will be obvious to Silas from a very young age that he is a different color from mommy and daddy. We will explain to him that God is not "color-blind", but on the contrary made us this way and celebrates our differences! We are excited to teach Silas that when Jesus was on earth he was in fact a different color - neither black nor white. We are also excited to teach him about how Jesus was adopted by Joseph.
Last night she also asked us about our style of discipline. We have not parented before, but we know what types of parents we want to be and are praying to be! We are aware that different children respond differently to certain styles, depending on their personalities. We will spank if necessary, but not out of anger. We never want to stand over Silas as this looming intimidating figure and yell, but get down on his level. We will model after (and take advice from) other parents whom we respect and feel that their parenting style is effective. Most of all, we will pray pray pray, and know that no parents are perfect and we will make mistakes!
We will be meeting with our social worker Amy again this coming Friday to have our individual interviews. After that, she will take a week or so to compile our homestudy and send it to corporate. Corporate will review it for approval, which shouldn't take more than a few weeks. With that being said, this part of the process should be over by the end of September! We will then submit our Form I-600 A: Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition. This will be submitted to the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. We will keep everyone posted on the progress! Please continue to pray that everything will go quickly and smoothly! Satan hates adoption and would love to throw out roadblocks. We need the prayers of our brothers and sisters in Christ! Thank you for your continued prayers and support. :)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Gifts for Silas


His first gifts! The blanket will go great with his dino pj's! His future buddy Jackson bought him the suit in the top pic to wear while they play in the nursery together :)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Images from the orphanage/vbs
















A Name for Our Son

Wow. So much to blog about since last time I was able to write! Where do I start? First of all, I wanted to make the announcement of what we are naming our sweet baby boy. We searched "African baby boy names" and came up with a few that we really liked, including Selah and Jamison. We wrote them down, but weren't able to settle on one immediately. One morning a few weeks ago I was doing my devotions and was reading in Acts about Paul and his journeys. I read through a certain chapter and froze...I had found our sons name. I knew I had to consult with Shane about it, but in my heart I knew that this is what we would be calling him. So, without further ado, our sons name is Silas. In the New Testament, Silas was a member of the early church, and accompanied Paul on his second missionary journey. Tonight I looked up the meaning of the name Silas and almost cried. It is derived from the Aramaic word shila, which means asked for.
As most of you know, Shane and I were on a missions trip to Jamaica last week with 8 of our teens. We had the amazing privilege of helping out at the Robin's Nest Children's Home, an orphanage in the mountains of Jamaica. It was so special for Shane and I. Shortly after we arrived, I looked over at Shane and noticed that he was crying. "Our son is going to be coming from a place like this, Summer." We spent the whole day loving on the kids, and dreaming of the day that we get to go pick up Silas in Ethiopia. At one point in the day, I was folding kids clothes and heard Shane in the next room doing the "this little piggy" nursery rhyme with a child. I started to giggle because he was messing it all up. "This little piggy went to the market, this little piggy went to the store, this little piggy played football, and this little piggy was made into bacon. This other little piggy was made into ham." HAHAHAHA! That's my Shaney - not trying to be funny, but yet so innocently being funny. He couldn't remember the words, so he just made it all up. And how gruesome that the piggy was made into food! The little boy obviously did not know the difference, because when I peeked around the corner, he was sitting in Shane's lap with the biggest smile on his face. It melted my heart. It won't matter if we don't know the right words to all the popular nursery rhymes or have the best toys - what will matter is precious time spent with our son and seeing his beautiful smile.
We have started to tackle the paperwork this week! We feel we are making some progress. Each time we sit down to work on things, we remind each other that this is the necessary evil in order to get to the joyous part! The faster we get our homestudy and dossier done, the sooner we meet Silas. Please continue to keep us in your prayers!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Pray With Faith

I prayed this morning as I do every Sunday morning, that God would speak to me through Pastor Danny and through His Word. I also prayed as I do every morning, that He would bless my marriage to Shane, protect our baby, and provide for us financially. He not only convicted my heart this morning in service about how powerful words are, and how I need to guard my tongue, but He also totally used someone else to bless my heart. Our sweet pastor's wife, Cookie, sells Premier jewelry and is very good at what she does. On several occasions she has held jewelry parties and donated the profit to help the youth to go to summer camp. Today she approached me before service and told me that there is a new catalog coming out, and that she wants to host a party for us and donate the profit towards helping Shane and I bring our baby home from Africa...I was speechless. Why should I be surprised though? When we pray, we should pray with complete faith that God is going to take care of it, and know that He will use special people in our lives to accomplish the task for His glory. Cookie, your generosity blesses my heart and I can't thank you enough. Thank you to all of you who read our blog, pray for us, and are excited with us. Get ready for the new Premier catalog! ;)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

adoption books


Besides the outfit, these two books are our only other purchases so far. I don't have much to put in the baby book yet, but hopefully will have a picture of "baby Ethiopia" this year sometime!

First Outfit

I bought this outfit and gave it to Shane on Father's Day - Shane loves dinosaurs and when I saw it I couldn't pass it up! We got size 12 mo. since we have no idea how big he will be when we go get him (we requested infant-12 mo.).

Forward Motion

So, this week we were finally assigned a family coordinator - YAY! Our family coordinator will be the one to walk us through the entire adoption process, and coordinate our adoption with the powers that be in Ethiopia. With her "welcome email" came 18 attachments. These documents begin what is called the "paper chase". We will need to have medical exams, birth/marriage certificates, local police clearance letters, financial documents, a home study (including four face-to-face visits), employment verification letters, letters of recommendation, proof of insurance, power of attorney, family photos (including pictures of Theo!), and a left kidney. Okay, just kidding about the kidney, but they do need a lot of stuff from us! I am sitting at the kitchen table with Shane surrounded by a pile of papers and feeling a bit overwhelmed, but still very excited and hopeful. A lot of these things will have to be put on the back burner for the next few weeks since we will be on the Jamaica missions trip and then summer camp, but we will tackle them when we get settled back in at home. We will have to make a large payment before we can apply for any grants or assistance, so we will be checking with several different banks early next week to take out an initial loan. I refuse to stress over this because we know God will provide the money for us to pay it off during the process. Thank you for all of your prayers for us and for being excited with us! We love you all.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Luke 15 Father

Jesus was always giving stories to help his disciples understand deep truths that otherwise could be challenging to understand. One of the most well-known parables is the parable of the Lost Son, or Prodigal Son. Usually, the emphasis is placed on the son and what we can learn from his mistakes. Knowing the son represents all of us as people, there are significant principles to take away. However, we can also take a look at the Father and find incredible characteristics as well. Not only was he a loving and compassionate father as we can obviously see, but he was also approachable. The son messed up BIG time. He wasted all his father's inheritance and made a mess of his life because of one bad decision after another. To think that after all of that he felt comfortable enough to return to his father is amazing. What a father he must have been for his son to return after such a life.

Yesterday was Father's Day. For so many people, this national holiday brings grief, anger, and buried resentment because of their 'shadow of a dad' in their home. My heart goes out to those people and I'm so sorry. A dad is more than a male bodily presence in a house. A daddy is someone who puts the best interest of his kids before his own interest. He is someone whose work WILL NOT prevent quality time with his children. Godly fathers train their children to live God's Word out based on their actions, not just words. A good father does not tower over their children to strike fear in them to satisfy their own power cravings. I think if a father is actively practicing these things out on a regular basis, covered in love, then their children will find him approachable. This doesn't say a father's children will not make mistakes, but will know where to find help when they 'come to their senses'.

I don't know where my son is right now. I don't know if he is even born yet. That's not what's most important. As a father-to-be, my prayer is that I will be the kind of father that my son needs. I don't want to be known as a shadow in the home. I know my son and I will not always see eye-to-eye on everything. I also know that, just like me, my son will not be perfect and will make mistakes. Rather than just trying to prevent my son from making mistakes, I think it's most important to be a place of refuge for when my son realizes it was a mistake.

Like every son, I learn from my dad. I learned things to repeat for my children and things to do differently. My son will say the same. May God encourage every father to be better than they were yesterday.

I love you dad.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A poem for our son

Unknown Title

A half a world away
Sometimes it seems we’re so far apart
But a half a world away
Is not too far for a journey of the heart

My little one, my bundle of joy

My precious son, my baby boy
I know you’re waiting too

A half a world away

A child waits for a family of his own
While a half a world away
A family waits to come bring him home

My little one, my bundle of joy

I’m whispering a prayer
My precious son, my baby boy
I hope to soon be there

I pray that we

Will no longer have to be
A half a world away

-Unknown

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Our Paper Pregnancy

I just read a blog written by a family who is adopting from Africa as well. The wife compares how she feels at this stage of the adoption ,to how she felt when she was pregnant with her two children. I have never been pregnant before, but I do know some of the typical symptoms, and I tend to agree with her...

I beam when someone talks to me about our adoption/our baby. I cannot walk by baby things without stopping to look, and wondering how certain outfits will look on our baby. I have trouble sleeping because of the excitement of being "pregnant". I dream about what my baby's face looks like, and about the very first time I will get to hold him. I worry about my ability as a mother - will I be able to give him everything he needs? I am emotional and I cannot concentrate very well. I love him so much and I haven't met him - I don't even know if he has been born yet. I am only lacking the funny cravings and the growing belly. Yes, I may not have a baby growing under my heart, but I definitely have one growing in it!

So, here's where we are in our paper pregnancy. We are awaiting a call from a family coordinator which will be assigned by our agency. We will then begin the "paper chase", or dossier. This is a long list of documents that have to be prepared, translated, and sent to Africa. While all this is going on, we will be completing our home study with a caseworker. We will also be handing over (gulp) a lot of money to the agency at these two points in the process...money we do not have, but we know that what God ordains He provides for. We will start fundraisers soon as well. That is, after we finish the Jamaica missions trip, summer camp in NC, and when Shane returns from two weeks in Romania with our pastor. Whew!

When will we be able to go get our baby? It depends. After the dossier is completely submitted, we will wait for a referral. This could take up to six months :(. That would put us at going to get him in the spring sometime. Of course we know that God's timing is perfect, and we will get the phone call to go get him at exactly the right time. Please continue to keep us in your prayers!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Father to the fatherless

I came across these verses while I was reading my Bible this morning:

"Father to the fatherless, defender of widows- this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families; He sets the prisoners free and gives them joy." Psalm 68:5-6

These verses spoke to my heart this morning for several reasons. One, "He is a Father to the fatherless". All of the orphans in the world who may not have earthly parents do, in fact, have a Father who loves them. Two, He "places the lonely in families". He is placing lonely children all over the world into loving adoptive families. He will be placing a lonely baby boy into our family. Three, "He sets the prisoners free and gives them joy". Shane and I had been "prisoners" to the pain of infertility. He set us free and has given us joy...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Why Ethiopia?

So, why Ethiopia?

-One in six children die before their fifth birthday
-60% of children in Ethiopia have stunted growth because of malnutrition
-1.5 million people are infected with AIDS (6th highest in the world)
-AIDS alone has orphaned 720,000 children.
-Half the children in Ethiopia will never attend school. 88% will never attend secondary school.
-Ethiopia’s doctor to child ratio is 1 to 24,000
-Ethiopia is about twice the size of Texas and has an estimated 4.3 million orphans. The children are primarily orphaned due to poverty, and live in both government-run and privately established orphanages.
-I have always wanted a black baby ;)

The statistics are overwhelming. How can you feel like you have made a difference when you are adopting one child and there are millions more who need a mommy and daddy? Well, we will make a difference to that one child. The one little boy that will forever become a part of our family (he is already a part of our hearts). The one little boy that will have a bed to be tucked into by a mommy and daddy who love him. The one child who will be taught the love of Christ from day one...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Music Video

Please take a moment to watch this music video. Steven Curtis Chapman wrote this song when he adopted his girls from China. When Love Takes You In...

video

The Beginning

My name is Shane Somers. I've never written a blog before and don't really know how to start one. I'm actually just sitting her staring at the computer screen running different 'Intro to our blog' ideas. Maybe a simple 'hello'? Or since I'm a pastor, should I start with a cheesy joke? Nah. Since a blog is simply your thoughts and the expression of your thoughts, how about I just start writing... My wife, Summer, and I have been a journey over the past year and a half. This is our journey.

Having been married for a year and a half, we decided to begin trying to start a family. I have to say that I love kids. Always have. My wife and I were ignited with the burning desire of being parents. I'm a youth pastor. We feel like I have 40+ kids already. We love the students we work with dearly and feel an emotional, personal connection with them. But to be able to have a child that was mine, a child that I can be 'daddy' to and Summer can be 'mommy' to was where our hearts were at. In the following months after we began trying, our conversations with each other would often be child-centered. I wanted to have that moment when my baby would fall asleep on my chest as I fell asleep on the couch. Summer wanted that time where she can just sit for hours holding her precious baby. I dreamed of when I could one day teach my own kids how to do things such as change a tire, kick a soccer ball,or tie a shoe. Together, we couldn't wait to take vacation as a family and have Saturday morning soccer games. These were the thoughts that captivated us. This was our dream!

Months and months went on. These thoughts became more frequent and more strong. We knew that we were supposed to be parents! By the 7th and 8th month, it started to become frustrating. We had talked to many people who shared stories of it taking over a year for them, some longer. While we appreciated their stories, it didn't seem to help with what we were feeling inside. Other friends and family members during this time became pregnant rather quickly. We were very excited for them, but it was a constant reminder for us that we weren't pregnant yet. Several more months passed by with no change, no pregnancy.

After a full year of trying to get pregnant on our own, we decided to seek help from an infertility specialist. Of course, we didn't know of any doctors who work in this field so we began searching online. After looking through several doctors and practices, we saw one that kind of stood out among the rest. It was the Center for Reproductive Medicine just north of downtown. The doctor, Dr. Randall Loy, was well-acomplished and was said to be the best in his field! So we call to set up an appointment. Of course, the #1 doctor in Orlando is busy. It was February and we were told that typically we couldn't get in until late March! However, they had a cancellation the following Thursday so we took it! A couple days later, Summer was talking with her uncle who goes to Northland Church and this topic came up. He told her "When you decide to see a specialist, go see Dr. Randall Loy. He is a great Christian man and attends our church." Summer and I were thrilled because we had already set an appointment with this doctor. We were sure that this was no accident and that God was leading us in the direction to finally become parents.

Through our time with Dr. Loy, we had several tests done and 2 procedures. For our first procedure he said that our levels looked great, everything seemed to be working as it should. We were confidently expecting to be pregnant that month because we knew God led us to this man and to this time. Test day came, and what a blow. Negative. We were crushed! Our second procedure was said to look even better as far as levels go, but again...negative.

"Why God? Why isn't this working?! We have been praying so hard for so long! Why are others getting pregnant and not us? All we want is to have a child to love and teach them your love!" These were our thoughts. We struggled with these. We couldn't understand why God wasn't giving us the desire of our hearts. Parenting is a thing that God takes seriously and is vital to raising the next generation for Christ. It wasn't like our desire was to have a big house or nice car...just a baby.

Adoption has always been something that has been near to Summer's heart. I wasn't too keen on the idea. I had fears and doubts with my capability of loving 'someone elses' child. Adoption wasn't discussed hardly at all during the procedures. We were so focused on having 'our own' kids. On a particularly emotionally hard day, it was even said that 'we could always adopt'. At the time, it didn't make us feel better. Rather, it made it worse. "Here is your consolation prize for failing to get pregnant" was how it felt.

After the second procedure didn't work, we wondered if we should even try a third. It is emotionally, physically, and financially taxing to do a procedure. The pills and injections took a toll on Summer. We also had a very busy summer ahead so the timing would be challenging. We decided against it and take the summer off. One morning before Summer went to work, she asked if I would at least pray about adoption. Remember, I didn't have the same desire toward adoption as Summer had. But I told her I would. I prayed that day and also did a little searching online. I can't really explain what happened other than my heart was softened toward it...or should I say, God softened my heart. As I was researching online, looking at agencies, pictures, etc., my heart felt different. There began to grow this interest and 'maybe this could work' feeling.

Over the next several weeks, adoption came to my mind a whole lot! I was looking up more information. I was even sorting out agencies that we would choose from IF this was where we decided to go. The interest that sparked in my heart began to change to excitement of the possibility! Summer approached me on the topic again. This time, I wasn't as hesitant as I once was. I was actually excited about thinking about it all. As we shared together, it was obvious that God had planted this desire in both of our lives. So, we began.

We spent a few weeks looking through all the agencies out there and we ended up deciding to pursue the America World Adoption Agency. The question of whether to adopt domestically or internationally wasn't really a debate. We both had the passion to adopt outside of the U.S. AWAA partners with several different countries such as Russia, China, Rwanda, Kazikstan, Ukraine, and Brazil. There are different requirements for each country and the country that best fit us was the country of Ethiopia! We attended a free AWAA seminar last weekend. It was encouraging and inspiring to hear stories and to see children given a loving Christian home. We had prayed that from the time we began to consider adoption, that God would open and close doors. As we walked out of the seminar, we both knew this was part of God's plan for us.We have already been approved to adopt through AWAA and are now embarking on all the legal paperwork stage of the adoption process.

Last Thursday, when we received the call saying we were approved, it felt as if we had just seen a positive pregnancy test. During this time God has put such a love and passion in our hearts for our son, whom we know nothing about. Even though this baby is not growing inside of Summer, he is definitely growing inside our hearts.

I like to have my quiet time with God in the mornings at the office before anyone gets there. I am reading in Jeremiah and wanted to look something up in my Bible Dictionary-the word 'Anathoth'. As I was flipping to that page, my thumb slipped and landed me in the first part of the A's...'Adoption'. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not the type of person who thinks every little thing that happens is a direct sign from God. What it did though was caused me to read what it had to say, including different passages in Scripture that deals with adoption. Ephesians 1:4-5, it says that God chose us in Him before the creation of the world. In love, he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ. I thought about that. God adopted us! I am adopted into the family of God. He chose us. Summer and I are choosing an Ethiopian. He loved us before we were born. I can tell that you that Summer and I love our baby boy so much! We don't know his name, what he looks like, or anything. But we love him because he will be ours!

God put that intense desire to be parents in our lives. That hasn't changed. We prayed over and over thar God would free us from infertility. Well, he has. He DID answer our prayers. But it just wasn't the way we expected it. We believe God was allowing us to go through infertility to point us to adopt. This isn't plan B. No, we believe this was God's plan A the whole time.

Please pray for us. This journey is far from over. A big obstacle that will test our faith is the $25,000(or so) to pay for this adoption. I know that if this is truly God's plan for our life, money will be provided. We will be applying for grants and doing fundraisers. Pray for our faith to continue to be strengthened and also for the money to be available! Join us in praying for our son - for his safety and also that we will be united with him as quickly as possible.

We will use this blog to keep everyone updated on our journey to bring our son home!