Sunday, November 6, 2011


Throughout our whole adoption journey so far, there have been many different little things that have happened that have just confirmed for us that we are certainly on the right path.  If you believe in God, then you would probably agree with me that these little confirmations are really gifts from God reminding us that we are doing the right thing. 
One example for me is that shortly after we started the adoption process, as I was sitting down to have a quiet time, I didn't have a plan for what I was going to read in the bible that day.  But, something in me said to read the story where Abraham obeyed God and he took Isaac up to the mountain to sacrifice him.  In the end, God provided a sacrifice for him and Isaac's life was spared.  The name of that mountain is Moriah which means "God will provide".  I liked the name Moriah and decided that if we are blessed with a daughter, we'll name her Moriah.
Not too long after reading that, maybe just days later, I was informed of an adoption agency by two different families, and it was AGCI.  I went to their website and as I was just browing around, right there on the page was a title for a part of the website called "The Moriah Fund".  It hit me that this was probably the right agency for us along with other things I learned about them.
The desire to begin this adoption journey began on Sunday, July 4th 2010 while Mike and I were attending Grace Fellowship Church in Johnson City, TN.  The sermon was on Phillip and the Ethiopian eunich.  It was during this service that the desire to adopt hit me in the middle of a story about a man who lived in Ethiopia and traveled by foot for hours to read the bible to a community that did not have access to the scripture.  The thought came to me out of nowhere "Maybe we could adopt a baby from Ethiopia." 
Well, exactly a year later, it was July 4th weekend again and Mike's parents were supposed to come to our house to visit.  Mike's mom was just starting to feel better after a case of the shingles and she didn't feel up to traveling.  So, Mike and I went to TN that weekend.  Exactly one year after our adoption journey began,  we sat in the same church and as I was looking at the bulletin, I see that there is a birth announcement and the baby's name was Moriah.  I truly believe that we were meant to go to Tennessee that weekend so that I could see that name, Moriah, which means "God will provide". 
Well, we have had many little confirmations like this throughout our whole adoption journey, and today we had another very cool confirmation.
If you remember from my very first blog post that our adoption story began many years ago.  God first laid adoption on our hearts when our church began to support an orphanage in Kenya.  The Sunday the church shared about this ministry, when I got home after church, I immediately went to the computer and started to read the profiles of the children there.  One particular little girl, named "L", really resonated with me and when I saw she had a brother there named "G", I called Mike to the computer and said, wouldn't it be wonderful if we could adopt them?  Mike said sure, let's look into it.  After looking into it and finding we weren't going to be able to adopt them, we didn't pursue adoption any more until July 4, 2010.
Today is Orphan Sunday, a very special day for families who adopt, foster or are involved in some way with "caring for orphans in distress".  Our church Missions leader shared a story of one of the children from the orphanage our church supports.  Of all the children to highlight, he shared the story of "L".  It was like everything was coming full circle for us.  I believe God was saying to us, this is the path I have chosen for you and your future child(ren).  Continue to walk in it and I will continue to lead.  I love how God works!

Sunday, October 16, 2011


When Mike and I first started the adoption process, we were happy to adopt a baby because we knew we could handle that.  We weren't sure we could take care of an older child who had been through trauma, suffering and separation and loss.  Not that a baby wouldn't come with those same issues, but the older child (older than 12 months) will remember or at least be more aware of what he/she has been through.  As Noah has gotten older, it's been a little over year since we started the whole process and we still most likely have at least another 9 months of waiting ahead, we figured we were able to increase our age parameters.  But, just because we can increase the age parameters, doesn't mean we should.  But, the more we've thought about it lately, the more we are certain this is the right thing to do.  Most of the people on our waiting list with our agency is waiting for a baby as well.  That means there are less families open to adopting the older child(ren).  There are many older children who need homes just as much as a baby does.  We know that with increasing the age parameters comes different healing processes and care for our adopted child(ren), and we weren't sure for a long time that we could "handle" it.  We are realizing more though that we have God on our side and He will give us what we need to care for His child(ren).  "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Phillippians 4:13.
A couple of things that happened recently that helped seal the deal for me are a recent family reunion and a song we sang at church.  At the family reunion, I was reminded of several family members who grew up in orphanages.  Knowing that they did not have a mother and father to care for them at no fault of their own, but I am sure they desperately wanted a mother and father really was an encouragement to me to care for other children in the same circumstances.  If I could go back in time, I would have stepped in and taken on that role for my family members had I been able to.  Mike and I are in that position now, so why not?  Also, the song we sang by Jeremy Riddle at church a few weeks ago brought back vivid memories of the gotcha day video I'll post below.  It solidified for me that this is what we need to do.  All orphans need a family, and we want to be that family for at least one or two orphans.  Now it's a matter of making those changes to our paperwork.

Ok, so I have no idea how to actually put the video on here, but trust me, you'll want to click on the above link and watch this gotcha day video.  It's just precious!!!!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Family Practice in Thanksgiving

I have been reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  I highly recommend the book.  She has been learning how thanksgiving really brings joy.  She shares how even being thankful for the hard stuff can bring joy too, even though it's extremely hard to do.  I love her perspective on letting go and just really being there in the moment and fully enjoying each moment. 
As I was trying to take a nap today after watching the movie Soul Surfer, which I also highly recommend, I remembered a blog post that I had read back in November.  It was close to Thanksgiving and the blogger, another adoptive momma, posted about how each year, they have a thanksgiving tree, and each day, each member of the family writes something they are thankful for on a leaf, and they put it up on the tree.  So, I start thinking, we could make a tree out of brown construction paper, put it up on a bulletin board and then every day pin our thank you's up on the tree.  In the winter months we could do snowflakes and pinecones, in spring and summer we could do green leaves and different colored flowers and then in the fall, do fall colored leaves.  Each day at dinner time, each family member can write on their snowflake or flower depending on the season what they are thankful for in the categories of a person, a memory and/or a material posession.  We could just write one or all three.  How fun it would be each month to look at our tree full of the things we are thankful for.  At the end of each month, we can take all of our leaves/snowflakes/flowers down and put them in a ziplock baggie marked w/ the month and year.  Then we can save them and look back when we are feeling down, or just need a little something to remind us how completely blessed we are. 
Now I just need to find some inexpensive, but easy way to make tons of leaves, snowflakes, pinecones and flowers on construction paper so I don't have to cut each shape out individually.  I am completely looking forward to our new practice in being thankful. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

and the answer is..."Waiting"

Many of you wonderful followers of our adoption journey ask us each time you see us "What is going on with your adoption?"  That's a good question and we appreciate that you are interested and are so supportive.  What a blessing to have so much support!
My response at this time really is "We are just waiting!"  And even as I write that my heart is aching and the tears are filling up my eyes.  Waiting seems like an eternity and at the same time it can be a bit of relief.  There are approximately 5 million orphans in Ethiopia.  So, why in the world are we waiting when there are children who need homes now?  Well, the answer isn't simple.  One large reason is that we chose an adoption agency that seems to be pretty popular.  They make every effort to take extremely good care of the children that come into their transition home in Ethiopia. One way they do this is to have a small staff to child ratio so that each child receives wonderful, loving care.  As a result, they can only house so many children.  When parents are able to pick up their children and take them home forever, then more beds open up.  That means another child will be placed in that bed and in the loving arms of the caregivers.  That also means that another child will be referred to his/her forever family.  The process of accepting a referral and then actually bringing the child home forever can take several months.  The turnaround just takes time and so you have a wait. 
Another reason we wait is that the experts say it is in the best interest of all children involved to not adopt out of birth order.  That being said, since Noah just turned 3, we are not going to adopt a child any older than Noah.  There are more families requesting babies than there seem to be families requesting older children.  Therefore, the waitlist is long.  I looked at the unofficial waitlist recently and it looked to me that the oldest age that a family is waiting for is around 5 years old.  There are however, children that are older who do need homes.  I hate that they wait, so if anyone has any interest in adoption and your youngest child is above the age of 5, there are children who need loving homes that are WAITING for you to be their forever family.  Just thought I'd sneak some advocacy in :o)
The hardest part of this wait right now is waiting to see exactly how long the wait is going to be.  Recently, the Ministry of Women, Children and Youth Affairs in Ethiopia made a change to their policy.  They previously reviewed approximately 50 adoption cases per day and have reduced that amount to 5 per day so they can monitor cases more closely to prevent fraud and abuse of the system.  The US government as well as other orphan advocacy groups offered to help them, so who knows.  They may be able to review more cases in the future with added support. So basically, we wait to see how this change will effect the timeline of our wait.

As we wait, it is very hard some days and not so hard other days.  Some days, I am thankful for this time so that I can spend more quality time with Noah and we can continue to fundraise (which I must say has gone well and we have raised over $22,000 towards our adoption! Praise God!).  Some days, however, my heart aches and I long for the chance to meet my child(ren) and bring him/her/them home.  I also recognize that there are no guarantees in this life, so I also am reminded most days that this is completely in Gods hands and He is completing His work in my life and in Mike's life.  He knows how everything will work out and I trust that He knows what is best for everyone. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Speak up...

...for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed.  Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.  Prov. 31:8-9

I cannot help but be a voice for the voiceless.  So, I am going to use this blog as not only a way to journal our journey that God is taking us on with the adoption, but also to use it as a platform for sharing with you the struggles of those who have no voice.  In so doing, I hope that you may find it in your heart to make a life change and do something about what you read.

A few months ago, as I was reading other adoptive moms' blogs, I kept coming across a blog button for this ministry called Drawn from Water.  I finally got up the courage to look at the website.  What I found was astounding.  This ministry rescues babies who are literally being thrown into the river because their tribe in Ethiopia deems them "mingi".  Mingi means cursed or dirty/unclean.  If a child has mingi, then the child must be drowned in the river.  Sometimes the babies are starved to death.  Drawn from Water rescues them and brings them into their orphanage and cares for the babies with love.  Here is a link to the video that tells the story about how Drawn from Water began. It began with Bale is the title of this video; you can just click on the title at the beginning of this sentence and it will take you to the video. 

There are three reasons Drawn From Water lists on their website as the reason for "mingi".  If a baby's top teeth come in before their bottom teeth, she is thrown into the river to drown.  If a baby is born to parents who are not married, he is considered mingi and is thrown into the river to drown.  If a baby is born to married parents who did not have the proper ceremony to show their intent to conceive, she is considered mingi and is thrown into the river to drown.  Sometimes, the baby is left in the bush to starve to death.  Either way, this is a terrible tragedy.

There is hope because Drawn from Water is reaching the peoples in these tribes with truth and teaching them that all babies are a blessing and not a curse. Drawn from Water runs childrens' homes and care very well for the children.  But, they need support to continue this life-saving ministry.  You can go to their website by clicking this link here to sponsor a child.  It is only $25 per month to help sponsor a child.  Each child needs 10 sponsors to cover the cost of care. 

I encourage you to go to their website here and read more about this amazing ministry and the story behind it.

James 1:27 says this: Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this, to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to not be polluted by the world.

And Proverbs 24:12 says:"Once our eyes are opened, we cannot pretend we do not know what to do.  God who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls knows that we know and holds us responsible to act."

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Some "Mitey" Inspiration

No, I didn't misspell Mitey.  It's just a play on words from the story of the widow with two mites in Luke 21:1-4.  This woman was a widow who gave everything she had, two copper coins that were called mites, and Jesus was very pleased with her for doing so.  I've read some stories recently that remind me of this generous widow.

I've read a book recently titled Mercy Rising by Amber Robinson, which I highly recommend.  It is a book on how you can bring justice and compassion to those in need right from your own home.  One of the stories she shared is titled "Mother Teresa's Story About Spiritual Provision".
Some time ago a man came to our door saying, "Mother, there is a family with eight children who have not eaten for a long time. You've got to do something."  So I took the rice and went.  When I arrived, I could see the hunger shining from their eyes.  I gave the rice to the mother, she took it, divided it in two, and went out.  When she returned , I asked her, "Where did you go?"
She said, pointing to her neighbor's home, "They are hungry also."
What an amazing heart that mother had that she would share food given to her family with others who were also starving.  I was very humbled by this story.  How often do I hoard what I have when I could be giving more to those in need.

I mentioned in a previous post that I read a book titled The Heavenly Man by Brother Yun.  I recently completed another book he wrote titled Living Water.  This book is filled with Brother Yun's teachings.  One story he shared really impacted me.  He discussed in Chapter 18 about how he really misses the services where they commission missionaries going to remote villages.  He describes how the Christians attending these services pass the offering bag around and place everything they own in that bag.  Then when the bag gets to those who have nothing to give, they literally get into the bag themselves as a signal to God that they are giving Him themselves.  What wholehearted giving these people have.  I want to be wholehearted in my giving to the Lord as well.

Not too long ago, a family from our adoption agency traveled to Ethiopia to visit their child and go to court.  While on that trip they met a taxi driver and they described some very special attributes about he and his family.  They do not have much and live in a very small 2 room pieced-together-house.  Let's just say it would never meet code here in America, but they have a roof over their heads.  They often go without food so their children can go to school.  You see they actually have to choose between school and food, unlike here in most parts of America.  As you can imagine, they do not have a lot of money, in fact they have very little.  The taxi driver's dream is for his children to have shoes.  That just shows you how material things are very hard to come by for this family.  One of the other adoptive families bought S and his family a pizza.  They had never had a pizza before.  And you know what S and his family did.  They shared that pizza with their neighbors.  They didn't share it with just one neighbor, but many neighbors.  This man who has little to nothing can give something he and his family have never had before to those around them who also probably never had it before either.  That just shows you what a giving, generous heart he and his family have.

What I have learned from these stories as well as some others I've seen show me that if people can give in their desperation and poverty, how much more so can I, who has plenty, give sacrificially.
"Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.?" 2 Corinthians 8:2

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Why siblings?

There's a story behind why we decided to be placed on the siblings waiting list.  When we were struggling to get pregnant, before we started the adoption process, we had been asking for prayer from our small group.  We asked them to pray for us to get pregnant.  At some point one of the members of our small group informed me that she had been praying for us to have twins.  I thought that was interesting since I did not ask for prayer for twins.  Because of that I hesitantly marked siblings on our adoption application thinking maybe there was something behind those prayers.
After our application was sent in, I freaked out and I called the agency and said, I really did not mean to mark siblings, so we are really only applying for a boy or girl.  Shortly after that, one of Mike's coworkers told him that he had a dream we had twins.  We both were asking each other, "What does that mean?".  So, not too long after that, maybe a week or two, I felt this strong urge to call the agency back and say, nevermind, we do want to be approved for siblings.  At that point, we were already approved for siblings because the person I spoke to before did not uncheck the siblings box on the application.
The same day I made sure we had been approved for siblings, and just so you know, I did not discuss this with Mike before doing so, I shared with him what I had done when he got home from work.  He said, "that's very interesting because during my quiet time today, I told God, I will be OK if we adopt two children".
And, another little tidbit, we felt God lead us to two girls names.  Now, I don't know if that means we'll end up with twin girls or we'll even end up with twins period, but we certainly felt led to be open to siblings.
I am looking forward to the day we get our referral and we will be thrilled with one boy, with one girl or with two of either gender.  We are following God and this is His thing.  Whatever He has for us is wonderful.

By the way, our waitlist numbers for January are 86 for a girl, 65 for a boy and 33 for siblings.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Take Me All The Way

Christmas this year was amazing.  First off, I woke up to seeing many family members wearing this Tshirt that said "Take Me All The Way" w/ Africa on it, and Ethiopia was highlighted.  I knew something was up because I'd never seen that Tshirt before, and when you read lots of adoption blogs, you have seen all the t-shirts.  Of course, after that I kept hearing those words "Take me all the way" playing in my head since they are part of the lyrics to Matthew West's song, "Motions".  I'll give you a blog post about that song soon.  Then, after all the kids opened their gifts, it was time for the adults to open theirs.  Mike's younger brother and his wife each had us in the name drawing.  We got a letter that they had written and it was from the whole Kelley clan.  This is what I had Mike read since I knew I would not be able to get through the letter without blubbering my way through it.

Dear Mike, Heather, Noah and already loved niece/nephew(s),
  We made these shirts as a pledge; We WILL support you throughout this adoption process and beyond.  Just as God has placed this on your heart, He has placed you on ours.  We look forward to sharing in the joy and tears as your story unfolds this coming year.  We have no doubt that 2011 holds a bright hope for your future family, and we are pleased to play a small part in making it happen.  
We are so proud that you have chosen to care for the poor and needy in such a tangible way.  The verse in Psalm 72:12 comes to mind that says, "for he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help." God has chosen you to be his hands in taking care of an orphan, Praise the Lord!
Stay strong!  Joshua 1:9 "have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid: do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."  

The letter was signed by everyone.  We felt so blessed and touched and let's just say it was incredible.  We also got  those cool T-shirts.  It was amazing.  It was a good thing Mike read the letter because I was balling my eyes out.  It feels so good to have your family supporting you when you are going through an adoption.  We haven't even gotten to the hard part of it yet, and knowing that our family has our back is huge.

Thank you so much A and J for putting this together and to all of the Kelleys for your support.  We love you all so much!