Friday, August 28, 2009

Dossier submission take two

Well by noon today our agency will have our dossier, our Ethiopian dossier that is!
We are thrilled beyond words to get rolling on our wait for our Ethiopian daughter.
So now most of the work is done and we enter the waiting phase. We wait 8-12 months
before receiving a referral. The referral will be a phone call from our case manager that
will include background, medical and photo information of a little girl within our
parameters of 0-18 months. After a child is referred to us we will have to wait 3 weeks to
3 months before traveling to meet her and bring her home. The waiting feels good
and sometime in the next few days we should have a number telling us just how many
families are in front of us on the girl's list.

Friday, August 21, 2009

An eventful evening of Ethiopian art

What a wonderful evening Bob and I shared last night. We were invited in a round about way to an art auction with all proceeds headed to Ethiopia to benefit very poor and impoverished Ethiopian communities through Stephanie Timmerman, a resident and artist, living here in Grand Rapids, MI has been traveling to Ethiopia and aiding children in early education through art. She teaches what she knows and in 2006 decided to bring the beautiful works of art home to be auctioned off to generate funds to build schools. Tesfa has built five schools in five years within Ethiopia, and with one of the lowest literacy rates in the world, Ethiopian children truly need help and intervention to create any educational opportunities. Search Art Aide International to see how Stephanie is making a difference in the lives of Ethiopian children.

So we entered Stephanie's lovely home and oohed and ahhed over the amazing works of art complete with photos of each child who created the piece. It was so cool to see all their work framed and lining the walls of such a gorgeous home. It reminds you what each one of us can do, even children, when they are given instruction, kindness and resources. We were of course eager to peruse the art but both Bob and I found ourselves immediately drawn to the photos of the darling children. Most of the children looked proud to hold up a small sign stating their names and although they exist in conditions most of us cannot begin to imagine, they were happy and smiling. Most of the Ethiopian students are part of a school previously built by Tesfa and now they have the chance to change the statistics that plague most third world countries. Each guest was encouraged to bid on art and also encouraged to purchase wine vouchers with all the money helping the cause. It was a well done event. . It just goes to show that although the world is big and sometimes feels like an overwhelming mess, we all can make a difference somehow. How will I make a difference in the life of another is what I kept thinking as we walked to our car, Ethiopian artwork in hand. What will you do to make a difference in the life of a another be it here in the streets and neighborhoods of the United States or maybe somewhere in the hills of Ethiopia, or the valleys of Mongolia or the mountains of Nepal?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Who called?

What do you do when the FBI calls? Gasp, scowl, fret and perhaps freak out a little. Well in this case I cannot tell you how elated I was to receive a call from the FBI.

"Joe, from the FBI, just called," Bob said with a puzzled look. "What?" I responded with a gasp!" You have got to be kidding me. Now this is the second time we have been through this fingerprint/background check thing and yet my mind still starts to wander. So I call Joe. What a funny guy and someone who truly seemed to care about our reason for needing the background check. What are the chances of that? He informed me that I had made and error in sending in a personal check, because of course everything in this process has a fee attached. :) He needed a credit card form faxed over in order to begin processing our request. What I wonder is if Joe could sense my instant delight as I was so happy that the form was not simply cast aside or worse yet left in a pile to be mailed back as DENIED for improper payment. Joe was a friendly angel who called me back two more times just to let me know that my fax was received and a few minutes later to let me know that he would shred my personal check. Not bad huh?! There is hope. The good news is that he thought the paperwork would be complete and back in the mail to us by next Tuesday. Yippee! I tried not to be too sugary sweet but whoever you are FBI Joe please know that you just made this couple's day! So soon we will be down to waiting on just one piece of precious paper.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

This series of photos says it all and I often wonder what life will be like when we add a little girl to the mix. I love capturing photos of the boys being boys. They are rough and tumble, curious, wild and ambitious all rolled into one.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Two pieces of paper

We are waiting and waiting and it seems forever waiting for just two precious pieces of paper. The first is our FBI clearance and the second is the State of Michigan clearance. Both are redos and although the old are still current they have to be totally updated in order to have a complete and accurate dossier/home study for a new country. Such is life so we are playing by all the rules and hoping that whoever does the work is reading the boxes checked FOR INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION. Perhaps that will encourage he or she to hurry just a bit.

With a busy family of five and days that fly by with a blink, the waiting should be fairly easy but I have found the waiting to be a test of faith. Do I really believe in God's timing? That is a hard one huh? Each day I pray for patience. Letting things just coast along has never been my style but I do know in my heart of hearts that this whole switch-a-roo and redo has been part of a bigger plan. It has little to do with me. So I spend my days wondering if our daughter has even been born yet? How and where is she living? How will God wrap his mercy around her birthmother, providing her strength to know that letting her go might be best? It is all so surreal somedays knowing that all the things I am asked to do in this crazy adoption process are paving the way to bring us closer to her. That is the thought that ultimately makes this paper chase tolerable and sometimes dare I say... a fun challenge.

Just two pieces of paper... I will let you know when they finally arrive. Then the final steps begin to get us on the official Ethiopia wait list. Yippee! Life is good!

Into Our Arms Forever!

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welcome home ava! from melanie Strobel on Vimeo.

Meeting Ava during our first trip to Ethiopia

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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.


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Hannah's Hope Orphanage- Ethiopia

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