Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Big News!

Yesterday was a very emotional day. Through several weeks of discussion, prayer and research we have decided to terminate our adoption process within Nepal. This is not a decision that we take lightly as it was a year of our lives we became aware of and attached to the great land of Nepal. The need in that small country is so great. Children need homes and their government needs resolution and peace. We hope some stability can soon be found in the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare as it has been a moving target over the past few months and no adoptions have been completed. This has been tough to swallow for people like us who think people should do what they say. We live in a place where justice is far more prevalent and although things are not perfect we have many government run programs that can assist women and children in challenging times. This is not so in a country such as Nepal. Children simply learn to live on the streets, often being lead by pimps who help them get addicted to glue so they will beg in the streets for money to buy more glue. The money then falls into the hands of corrupt persons who care not for the children. When Nepal reopened their adoption program 8 months ago the political situation was running smooth and we were told they would require one trip to pick up our child of up to 10 days. We were told the Ministry was all in place and we were told they they would be very transparent in their attempt to provide adoptive parents with excellent background information. So far this has not happened. Our agency is not to blame. In fact I dialogue through a yahoo group with people from all over the world looking to adopt from Nepal. They are people who have been to Nepal, studied Nepal and spend endless hours combing the Nepali government websites trying to figure all this turmoil out. The Nepali government is to blame. They should not have told people this would be an 11-14 month process when they did not have proper officials in place. In addition to their lack of readiness, the number or orphans continues to climb and there are fewer foreigners visiting the land that needs their tourism industry to thrive. Lastly, the King was thrown out of Nepal causing a million issues and many delays in all things government related. So why am I telling you all this? Well it is important to us that those of you who have followed and supported us in this journey know that we hope others will join us in praying for the government of Nepal. Pray for children of Nepal and the families who are on board in adopting from Nepal. Many have invested far more time than we have in choosing their child to come from Nepal. 

For us this has become a challenge that we could no longer handle. Way back 18 months or so we spent numerous hours agonizing over where we should adopt from. Many of you know that we felt very drawn to both Ethiopia and Nepal. We chose Nepal. Believe me when I say that it is tough to not feel that we made a mistake, however it gets us no where and we know that God still has a child that we are meant to adopt. During a lengthy discussion with the Executive Director of All God's Children International (AGCI), Doug, he made an interesting comment that we have felt as a family. He said, "We have been doing adoptions for so long and so often we see that God selects and ordains families.  Nearly every family we have worked with says they felt God's pull and force in their lives to adopt." It is a strange phenomenon and one we sort of wished had gone away recently. There have been times we felt doubtful and down about whether this was right for us at all. That feeling comes with the territory but both Bob and I can now say that we feel like a giant weight has been lifted in recognizing that the uncertainty and lengthening timeline in Nepal was not for our family. It is not the thought of adopting we were needing to squelch just the crazy roadblocks we were encountering with Nepal.

So Ethiopia it is and we are thrilled. AGCI has a program that is truly thriving and as we have learned with international adoption over the past year, nothing is guaranteed but the process is a well oiled machine with many families I have followed through blogs going through it before us. The AGCI Ethiopia group is very tight and we will have so many people to guide us along the way. The best reason to choose Ethiopia is the need. There are so many orphans and we can't wait to lower that number by one. AGCI owns and operates an orphanage, Hannah's Hope, in the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Abbaba. It is a remarkable place of love and hope for children. It is a place that drew us in several years ago when we were considering agencies and I was exploring the work that AGCI does around the world. It is a place we can return to someday to donate our time and energy. It is the place where we will find a precious little girl who will thrive with three wild and crazy brothers who will love her to pieces. Adopting within Ethiopia is now a simpler process, although it still could take up to a year. We may request a toddler so that may help the process move more quickly. In Ethiopia the main reason children are orphaned is different from other areas of the world. They are orphaned due to AIDS.  Many of the children remain with parents until the end. Children are all very well respected and cared for in Ethiopia but sometimes there is no family left to care for them. There are very few countries on the continent of Africa that are open to adoption but it must be the world's hope that more children are allowed to be adopted due to the ongoing prevalence of AIDS.  We look forward to better educating ourselves about the "Land of a Thousand Smiles" and thanks to all of you for your support and kindness as we change gears and push forward with great anticipation. 

We hope each of you who are so dear in our lives will click on the left to become Followers of our Blog. That way we can keep you posted on our journey to our daughter in Ethiopia. :)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Family Vacation

We just completed a week of beach vacation with Bob's extended family, his Mom, his brothers and their families. It was a wild week of wonder and fun for us all, especially the kids. Between three families we have eight boys, the oldest entering 7th grade and our Owen is the youngest, soon to enter Kindergarten. You can imagine what we look like in public and the looks we get if their is only one parent down on the beach. People are worried that all the boys might belong to one family. The reactions are so funny and it makes for good conversation when perfect strangers approach to ask, "Are they all yours?" while pointing out into the water. They are eight shades of blonde and all smiley and spunky little dudes. So of course I spent many moments throughout the week wondering what it will be like to add a female to the mix. I can't help but wonder how she will be accepted and how she will fit into the mix. I have moments of fear and then I feel the calm. The calm serves as the reminder that a child adopted into our family will gain so much more than just three older brothers. She will gain a great big circle of cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents and friends. She will gain a neighborhood and school community. She will gain a church community and she will gain a Mother and Father who look so forward to the challenge and commitment of raising her with love, affection, fun and education. She will gain a home.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

An old post...

I love revisiting some of the old posts on the blog. It is amazing to see how far this process has come and how near to our hearts Ethiopia was when we felt called to pioneer our way to Nepal. I'm grateful for the opportunity to write and keep track of so many of the thoughts and emotions we have been through as a family. I know other adoption bloggers have helped me through the questions and doubts of this journey. I hope to someday help someone else who has adoption on their heart and wonders if he or she can do it. I say do what you feel is right and do all you can with no regrets. We are given all that we need when we need it... don't ever forget that. So below is a post from last September 2008. Funny how things can change and we really do have so little power.

Written September 2008:
After nearly two years of discussion, prayer and more
discussion it is with tremendous joy in our hearts that we announce our intentions as a family to adopt a precious child from the beautiful country of Nepal!

To some of you this may come as a complete surprise, although most of you are aware that adoption has been heavy on our minds and hearts for some time now. We feel very fortunate to now be working with the very agency that we first contacted nearly 18 months ago when were were merely inquiring about the process and/or the country options. All God's Children is a remarkable agency with a heartwarming story of how personal adoption shaped their family and lead them to help others choose adoption. Feel free to click on the link Adoption Agency to learn more.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Can I make you laugh?

Well we had a photo of all the many documents we had to create and complete for Nepal but I removed them due to too much info shown in the photo... But here is the funny thing... We have to redo everything. All of our Nepal specific documents have to now be made Ethiopia specific. Ha! This makes me laugh and cry all in the same breath. Of course we have copies of every document but to think we must make everything Ethiopia ready sounds daunting. Then I tell myself that this is a journey that we long to complete and she will certainly be worth all of our hard work. Even with all the work ahead of us we feel such a sense of PEACE. Our decision feels so right and we cannot wait to see who God has planned for our family. So what's another trip to the doctor or the bank to get this paperwork complete. No worries. Thanks again to all of you who have been so supportive and kind this week as we made a very difficult choice. We are richly blessed by so many people in our lives.

Into Our Arms Forever!

Remember to scroll down to mute the music.

welcome home ava! from melanie Strobel on Vimeo.

Meeting Ava during our first trip to Ethiopia

Don't foget to turn off the music below before watching video.

Meeting Ava Ethiopia Trip July 2010 from melanie Strobel on Vimeo.

Korah- Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

During our recent visit to Ethiopia I felt very called to the village of Korah in Addis Ababa Ethiopia. There have been numerous rumblings lately about the tremendous need to help the children of Korah who are growing up in and around the local trash dump. The village was established 75 years ago as a place to send people with leprosy who were said to be cursed. Now there is a 3rd generation of people living in Korah with nearly 100,000 suffering from such things as leprosy, HIV, misc disease and of course malnutrition. There are many children of Korah who have been forced to live and work at the trash dump in hopes of finding food and possible items to sell in Korah's center of town. With the start of the Great Hope Church in Korah and the building of a shelter, along with the ministry of local Sammy Liben and Sumer Yates, there is now a feeding program and a sponsorship program in place to rescue the forgotten children of Korah and send them to boarding school where they can escape the horror of the conditions of living and working in a large trash dump. For more information please visit: or where you can learn more about how you or your organization can help the people and the children of Korah. Please send me a message or email Erin Allen at to request sponsorship information. I will soon be posting the photos of my day recently spent in Korah. I must tell you it was life changing and beyond anything I have ever done to stretch, change and rearrange myself. God helped me to help the people who I met. Much of what I could offer was nothing more than the snap of my camera or a warm touch or an inviting smile. The needs in Korah are beyond our wildest imagination yet God is over Korah and there is already amazing work being done. I invite you to view the following videos to learn more about the beauty and the needs of Korah's people.


P61 grab button

Love this...

You will need to turn off the music below in order to enjoy this video. Go down to playlist and turn it off.

Hannah's Hope Orphanage- Ethiopia

Remember to turn off music below before watching.