Dossier

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

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!