Glory Be! She's FREE! We have a new Daughter!

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Strength for 2009

What an awesome time we have had this Christmas Holiday!  We have met with family and friends, welcomed a new niece into the family, played board games until midnight many days, watched countless episodes of Little House on the Prairie, slept past 9 am EVERY day.  We have enjoyed just "being."  But mostly, we have longed for our little one in Ethiopia.

It is close to midnight and fireworks are resounding in the background of Dick Clark's countdown.  My cat is pacing and my dog is hiding in the bathtub!   

As we enter the New Year, I am excited about the plans God has in store for my family.  I pray for continued guidance and patience (a heavy dose!).  I pray that I will be content in the wait...content in the here and now.  I want to savor being just a family of four.  I pray for strength and peace.  

Thank you Lord for a wonderful year.  I praise you for keeping my family safe and secure.  I trust that what you began in our lives will come to fruition in the coming months.  Guide us, use our lives as a testimony to your grace and miracle working power.  God,  I surrender all to you.  

He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.  Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion.  But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.  They will soar high on wings like eagles.  They will run and not grow weary.  They will walk and not faint.  
Isaiah 40: 29-31

Monday, December 22, 2008

Wait Time Increased!

Greetings and Merry Christmas!

It is with a heavy heart that I am reporting this update.  The time of waiting for a referral for a baby girl has increased from 7-9 months to 9-11 months.  What does this look like for us?  We should expect a referral anywhere from  March-May.  This could change at any time reflecting a shorter or longer wait.  

While I am sad that we will have to wait a bit longer to meet our daughter...I totally feel that God is in complete control.  I am just having a hard time surrendering.  We are confident in knowing our precious baby girl will be revealed in God's perfect time.  

Please pray for:

Our agency, AWAA.  There are many changes occurring within the states as well as in Ethiopia.  Pray for favor among the officials and the court system.  Please pray for Duni (ET coordinator) to partner with the "right" orphanages and in finding true orphans.  

Patience and Peace while we continue this tiring journey.  

Finances.  We still have around $ 4000 plus travel expenses to pay.  

Blessings and peace!
The Portilla Family

Sunday, December 14, 2008

6 months of waiting & A Black Eye!!!

Wow, what a week!  

We celebrated 6 months of waiting for our referral!  Only 1-3 months left to go until we are suppose to learn about our baby girl!  I can't wait!  Time is flying by. We (estimate) that we are #16 on the girl list.  There could be mystery families lurking in the shadows.  Referrals have been slow in the last couple of months.  We are hopeful that the line will start to move a little quicker in the coming months.   Thank you for your love and support as we continue our journey to bringing Ava Joy home from Ethiopia!

On Friday, I received a phone call from the school nurse telling me that Ben had been injured at school.  I rushed to pick him up and bless his little heart!  He was hit with an elbow at recess.  I took him straight to the doctor and they sent us to get a CT scan for fear of a fracture and a possible  concussion.  Whew!   He is feeling better but looks terrible!     

Day 1!

Day 3!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Can I be honest?

Would you please take a moment and pray for me today?

I do not even know who reads this...maybe just my mom?

I am down and discouraged.  No particular reason.  It seems as if Satan attacks me most when my husband is away.  I can't stop crying this morning.  I feel very alone, worried, afraid and so scared. This adoption process is so hard!  It really feels like a roller coaster.  I know what we have been called to do, but it is not easy.  There are so many "unknowns" and "what-ifs."    I have been up since 5 am, reading my Bible, praying and still feel empty.  I need my tank filled.    


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

5 months AND 5 days waiting!

Time is ticking on...

According to the recent referrals handed out by our agency, it looks like we should receive our referral in mid March to the end of March. However, we have learned in this crazy but wonderful journey that ANYTHING can happen.  7-9 months is still the time frame given by AWAA.  I am not anxious about the arrival of our daughter.  God knows the exact time we will receive our "call" announcing the great news!  I am trusting in his perfect plan!

I am reading this awesome book call Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist.  It has been a true blessing to me.  "Cold Tangerines is a collection of stories about God, and about life, and about the thousands of daily ways in which an awareness of God changes and infuses everything.  It offers bright and varied glimpses of hope and redemption, giving us room to breathe, to break down and break through, calling us to our best possible lives."  I encourage you to pick up a copy today.

Please continue praying for us.  Pray for Ava, wherever she may be that God will prepare her precious life to be molded with ours.  


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Special ornament!

Guess what we did this weekend?  

We decorated our home for Christmas!   I know, I is a bit early!


I have 5 craft shows over the next few weeks and a couple of parties to attend and this was our only weekend to get it done without rushing.  I love the holidays!  The lights and glitter are just a few of my favorites.

After putting all the ornaments on the tree, I felt a little sad that I did not have anything to celebrate the arrival of our baby girl!

So...I made a special ornament, just for her!  It love it!  

I drew and painted the country of Africa and of course added black glitter so it will sparkle!  (My dear hubby, while getting the broom, had the nerve to say, "more glitter, does glitter have to go on everything thing you make?") Where Ethiopia is--I placed a small red swarovski crystal (because I like bling too!).  On the back it reads, "waiting with Love!"  And, the year 2008.  

I can't wait to add these photos to Ava's life book.  Even though she won't be with us physically this holiday season...we are waiting with Love!

***If you are interested in purchasing your own "waiting with love" ornament, please email me at   $ 10 plus shipping.   All proceeds will go toward our international program fee***

***I can add a name too!  Feel free to request different colors for the writing and crystal***

While awaiting the arrival of our "own" princess!

Hi all,

We just had the best vacation ever!  Our family's favorite place to visit is Walt Disney in Orlando, Fl.  We go as often as we can!  This was our first time to go at Halloween and it was awesome and not so scary!  The weather was perfect and the crowds were small.  I have included some of my favorite photos.

My little man!
Abby loves Wendy!
Look at that hair!  
This was awesome! 
Ben's favorite character!

Monday, October 13, 2008

4 Months Waiting...

Beautiful baby girl,

4 months waiting for your arrival have gone by!  WOW!  Just a few more until we are blessed with the beauty of your face.  We pray that Jesus will keep you strong and healthy wherever you are.  Mommy and Daddy have been very busy preparing for your homecoming.  Your room is pink and so girly (just like your big sister requested!)  

Dear Jesus,

Please watch over our daughter today.  May you guide her birth mother in her choices and decisions to come.  Provide all that she needs as her baby is growing within her.  Let her know that you are there.  She is so brave and courageous.  Watch over her and protect her, keep her safe.  We ask that you provide all the nutrients needed to ensure a healthy baby.  We ask Father, that you continue lining up all the right people in the process of bringing Ava home.  Be with Duni and all the parties working on our behalf at AWAA.  We thank you for leading us to an awesome, Godly adoption agency. We ask that you provide all the needs for our agency to continue the work for the orphans of Ethiopia.  Thank you Lord for providing all that we have needed and we TRUST that you will continue providing financially for our family.  It is our desire to be obedient to you.  

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

More to pray about...

WOW!! What a week (it's only Tuesday)! This is going to be a lengthy post, but I want my family and friends to know what we are facing. PLEASE join with us in prayer this week regarding the following issues (K. Lunceford did a great job describing the situation):

$$$ AWAA Rate Increases $$$

I found out late last night (hubby is away on business) that if we don’t receive our referral by November 1 we will be required to pay approximately $2,500 more than what was expected of us in the original estimations provided to us by our adoption agency. As of November 1, the International Program Fee will be $7,500 instead of $5,000. A $385 post-placement administration fee has also been added. . We will be given a more thorough explanation on a conference call next Thursday of why this all came about and what it means for us. In the meantime, here are some things that we know are contributing to the new fees:

New capacity-building fee by the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs
MOWA has mandated a capacity building fee so they can hire more social workers and purchase computers to process adoptions. MOWA’s role is a critical one when it comes to getting families through court, so these changes are encouraging even if they do come with a price.

Transitional Home Costs
Unlike most agencies, AWAA cares for the children it plans to place in homes. These children come from difficult situations. Some are malnourished and many get sick with common cold, pneumonia or parasites. AWAA doesn’t want to merely "keep" the children until families come for them, but feels responsible to provide them the best treatment and care possible. Medical care of children, especially when they first arrive at the transition home is quite high. AWAA hires qualified nurses and has a lower nannies-to-children ratio so that the children can get a more personalized care than they would at an orphanage. AWAA also provides transitional services such as hiring English teachers and an American social worker to help the children adjust better. All of these things involve significant financial undertaking.

And then there’s the reality that inflation and the weakening dollar has led to formula and diapers becoming a lot more expensive than in the past. For example, the costs of things such as formula and diapers in Ethiopia have increased by 400%.

Exceptionally Tiny Babies
Yesterday, the Forrest family found out that their 4-month daughter is in the hospital with pneumonia and diarrhea. She is only 6.8 lbs. and is on oxygen. This is starting to become a common trend, Karen Bowman (number 2 in line for a girl) sums it up best on her blog:

"We’re starting to see the effects of the drought and famine that occurred earlier this year. Lately the babies that have been referred to families are very small compared to children who were referred to families earlier in the year. Some of the children have come into orphanages severely malnourished and have to be nursed back to health before they can be matched with families. I realize now that this is most likely because of the awful conditions in the country, and because our agency is working with some orphanages that take in children from outside the capital city in the rural regions which suffered the effects more directly. "

Pray for the Forrests, for their baby, and for all the other babies who are fighting for their health while they wait to travel home. Please pray also that our daughter, Ava Joy will receive the care she may desperately need to stay strong and healthy for us to meet her and then travel to bring her home.


Duni’s Transition Within AWAA

Finally, we also learned yesterday that Duni, our family coordinator, will be moving to Ethiopia in November to oversee things from there:

"Duni will focus on developing our Ethiopia program to respond to the growing numbers of families pursuing adoption from that country. It was decided that Duni would be most effective by overseeing the intricacies of the program and the transitional home by being on location in Addis Ababa. Her last day in the corporate office will be Wednesday, November 26. Duni says, “I love working with the families here but I am looking forward to meeting all of them personally as they come to finalize their adoption. I feel that my move will better serve families as I will be able to be in the frontlines of their adoption.”

***One day Ava will learn of all the miracles that took place in bringing her home to her forever family. I can't wait to tell her of God's provision***

Our children will also serve him. Future generations will hear about the wonders of the Lord. His righteous acts will be told to those not yet born. They will hear about everything he has done. Psalm 22:30-31

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Updated Girl List!!

Updated List - (that we know of...) For Those Waiting for Girls!!

Black - 1
Bowman - 2
Blackwell - 3
Lunceford - 4
Rothermund - 5
Eckhardt - 6
Heinrichs - 7
Jones - 8
Keiderling - 9
Gillman -10
Mullins - 11
Moffat - 12
Pickard - 13
Delfosse - 14
Dragovich - 15
Gagnon - 16
Bartley - 17
Portilla - 18 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Foote - 19
Redd - 20
Kerby - 21
Reed - 22
Bowers - 23
Carpenter - 24
Monberg - 25

And - in case you need more lists - here's the top 11 overall (from all "lines", I'm assuming) waiting for referral (* = from the girl line!):


So..... let's say in the month of October AWAA does a little bit of catching up from the slow month of September and does somewhere between 11-15 referrals - if all of these top 11 get referrals then that would move us up 5 places in line since 5 of those in the top 11 are waiting for girls (see *). However - from the opposite perspective (have to keep things balanced here) if it does take longer to receive a girl referral - can all 5 of these girl referrals happen in one month?

Courts are open again in ET!  This Oct 8 (this week!) several AWAA families are to have a court date that they've waited so long for! Pray that all of them have a successful court date! Here's the list of those waiting for court, travel, etc. (I swiped all these lists from our YG - thank you!)

October 8 court date, tentative travel October 25:


Tentative travel November 1:


Waiting for court:


**Of course, in the world of international adoption, anything can change**

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

3 1/2 months down!!! This is for you Cindy!

Hi all!  

I know, I know...I missed the 3 month mark!  My adoption friends know how qrueling the months of waiting can be--celebrating every month down is a victory in itself.   I do have a great excuse for being late---we had a little visitor by the name of Hurricane Ike.  We weathered the storm well but lost power for 14 days!  It was such a long time....I will never eat peanut butter again!

During our time of darkness, I really learned alot about myself.  There were some good days and some really bad days.   Our kids were awesome!  They were such troopers!  Abby studied by flashlight several days (Yes, she had school!)  Ben was shipped off to his grandparents for endless days of fishing and playing with his "Abo."  Needlless to say, he did not want to come home.  My wonderful hubby did a wonderful job of protecting us!  He is an awesome generator operator!  

So besides the storm, what has the last month looked like? Here are a couple of highlights!

* School had started!  Abby began the 8th grade and Ben the 5th. *
* My little business, Little Birdy Creations,  went wholesale.  Some of my products are in a store in Knoxville, TN *  Huge for me!!!!  
* WE DECORATED AVA JOY'S Nursery!  It was so fun!!!!  Ben and daddy put together the crib and dresser.  Abby was all about the decorations!  *

We are eagerly awaiting our referral call.  We have several months to go but are so excited about Ava Joy's arrival.  

On Oct. 11, we are headed to Austin to meet up with 7 other families who are adopting from ET (they are all from AW-our agency)!  We are looking forward to eating some traditional ET food and fellowshiping with other families.

We will also have our last family vacation of 4 at the end of the month!  It should not come as a surprise as to where we are going---DISNEYWORLD!  We were suppose to go in June but Tulio's job pushed us back a bit.  After our hurricane fun, we are really needing an escape to see Mickey.  Look for pictures next month!

Blessings to all!  Please continue lifting our family up in your prayers.  

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

2 months down! YEAH!!

Guess what today is?

Two months into the wait for our baby girl!  WOW!  

Our Precious Ava,

Only a few more months until we get to meet you!  Your brother and sister are thrilled beyond words waiting for the special "call" announcing your arrival.   We talk about you every day and can't wait to meet you!  Wherever you are today--we are praying for you!  

Daddy & Mommy

Would you pray with us today?  Please pray for Ava's development and growth. Pray for all involved in bringing our baby home.  So many people are instrumental in Ava's adoption.  Today, we especially lift up Ava's birth mommy.   Whatever situation she faces, we pray for peace and protection.  

The Portillas

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Adoption Update--CC August

Greetings All!  

Blogging has slowed down for me this summer with the kiddos home!   We have had way too much fun doing all those fun summer things!  Here is an update (Thanks K. Bowman!) from our recent semi-monthly conference call with our agency, AWAA.  While I found it encouraging, I also was deeply saddened from some of the topics covered.

Some of the information seemed to change a bit from what we heard last time (CC in June) - I’m not sure if they are just more optimistic now, if things have changed to make estimates better, or what, but I definitely like what we heard.  Some highlights of interest:
The current “wait times” for families stands at 7-9 months for girls and toddlers. Boys are back to 5-7 months. So far the wait for girls is closer to 9 months.  
AWAA has a new orphanage partnership in the works!
The last 2 months (June & July), AWAA has met its goal of referring 10 children to families! Duni shared that she hopes that this will continue and that we might even be able to match more children with families (maybe 12-15 a month?!). There was a staffing change in Ethiopia that may be contributing to this change from the last conference call.
The lease on the current Transitional Home building runs out this fall, and AWAA hopes to not renew the lease; instead they hope to find a larger TH building to use so that more children can be housed at a time while they wait for their families! This is great news and please be in prayer that they are able to find a suitable location.
Culturally, girls are seen as “easier” to take care of than boys since they can find employment as maids or can be “married off.” In addition, girls are seen as being a part of the family forever (will take care of parents, etc.), whereas boys leave the family when they marry - hence the reason that there seem to be more boys in orphanages than girls.
Although the power rationing has stopped in the capital city, inflation has been huge (nearing 30%, Duni estimated). She encouraged all families to bring donations, especially diapers and formula.  MORE ON DONATIONS LATER!
Court dates (scheduling for Oct. 8th and beyond) will be requested for families with children referred to them during the court closures.
Those who get referrals during the court closure or in October when it re-opens can expect a 2-3 month wait to travel; Duni is hoping it won’t be 4 months. (For example, she hopes that a family getting a referral in August can travel in November.)
90 families are currently waiting for a referral; 15 families have referrals now (and are waiting for court dates in October); 4 families are traveling this week to pick up their children.

What YOU can pray for:

More infant girl referrals! (Seriously, continued referrals for all ages in both genders!)
Continued peace...
The orphanges and transitional home (those partnered with AWAA) are in desperate need of critical items.  Pray for provision.
There are 4 families this week in ET picking up their precious children.  Pray for grace in traveling and bonding to go smoothly with the children.  

What we are thankful for:

God's provision...we know that He will supply all our needs!  We received a financial blessing in July--God is moving!
The blessed time that I have had with my kids this summer.  It has been refreshing and so FUN!

Look for another update next week!

Love to all!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

1 Month Down!

We have been waiting 1 month for our referral call!

Only 6-8 more months to go!

Please pray for:  

* Our baby and her birth mother--their health and safety.
* The finances to be provided---waiting to hear about the grants that we have applied for.
* Patience and peace for Kara.  I am struggling with anxiety at night.
* Our agency (AW) and all parties involved in Ethiopia regarding ALL adoption details.

Hope all is well for you and your families.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
For I am the LORD your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I gave Egypt for your ransom,
Ethiopia and Seba in your place.
Since you were precious in My sight,
You have been honored,
And I have loved you;
Therefore I will give men for you,
And people for your life.
Fear not, for I am with you;
I will bring your descendants from the east,
And gather you from the west;
I will say to the north, 'Give them up!'
And to the south, 'Do not keep them back!'
Bring My sons from afar,
And My daughters from the ends of the earth--
Isaiah 43: 2-6

Monday, June 16, 2008

Where is our Dossier? WE ARE IN ET!!!

Just for fun!  Let's follow our Dossier to ET!

I will post when it has moved.  (The following is from Duni, our coordinator.)

Dear Families,
Your authenticated dossier has been mailed to Ethiopia today!

As you track your dossier, please keep a couple of things in mind. First of all, do not be worried if the package makes stops in European or other countries for long periods of time. This is normal, and I've seen this happen often. Also, when the FedEx office in Ethiopia receives packages for our in-country staff representative, they call him to pick up the package rather than deliver it to his office. Often times the FedEx report will say “wrong address”, we are not sure why this happens, because the package has yet to be shipped to a wrong address when it says this, so please do not be alarmed by this, it is something that we have spoken to FedEx about multiple times. Because the FedEx office is not in close proximity to our staff member's office, it often takes him a few days to pick up the package. If you see notes that the package has arrived in Ethiopia but not been picked up, this is why.

Ship date
Jun 13, 2008
VA/ET_Tucker dossier
Priority Box
13.8 lbs.--BIG BABY!!!

Jun 13, 2008
2:17 PM
Package data transmitted to FedEx

Jun 16, 2008
4:21 PM
Picked up
9:30 PM
Left FedEx origin facility  

Jun 17, 2008
12:15 AM
Arrived at FedEx location
2:12 AM
Departed FedEx location
11:38 PM
In transit
11:38 PM
Arrived at FedEx location

Jun 19, 2008
12:45 AM
In transit
Package available for clearance
7:30 AM
Int'l shipment release

Relaxation, Anniversary & DTE Date!!!

The family and I returned yesterday from a much needed vacation.  Away from schedules, work, laundry, cooking, etc...

We spent 4 glorious days in Destin, Florida relaxing and baking on the beach!  (Yes, we did use sunscreen!)

We celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary and it was wonderful!  

While in Destin, we received our official DTE date!!!  (This is so crucial in the adoption world!) DTE-Dossier (all our paperwork) to Ethiopia.  

We can start the count NOW!  7-9 months when we should receive the CALL about our precious baby girl.  This time frame can change.  Hopefully, if will not change to a further wait time.

It is because of the Lord's mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because His [tender] compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great and abundant is Your stability and faithfulness.
Lamentations 3: 22-23

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Good... no GREAT news!


This has been an exciting week in our adoption world!

On Monday, I headed out to Austin to get our Dossier state certified.

I drove the entire way! Pretty good for someone who does not like the all!

My good friend drove with me! We had a blast on our drive!

After certifying the documents we ate lunch at a Moroccan place and then went in search of a FedEx!

I was literally
shaking with excitement as I was copying the last crucial papers. I was so excited that I left my credit card in the machine in Austin (did not realize until I was home).

So...the Portilla *paper* baby was priority overnighted to McLean, VA on Monday. It was received on Tuesday and our agency has been doing the last leg of the certification and authentication process.

So what happens next?

OH MY!---Our DTE (dossier to Ethiopia) date will be next Friday, June 13, 2008.

Our 16th Wedding Anniversary. I can't think of a better present.

*officially* start the WFR (waiting for referral) phase now. As of date, 7-9 months is the expected time for a healthy infant girl 0-12 months. January-March 2009 we should receive "the call."

What I am thankful for:

Safe travel of our documents to VA.
God's continued faithfulness.
That I am at peace with the wait.

Please pray for:

Continued peace in this next phase.
Our baby who is probably growing inside her birth mommy. Also, the birth mom's health and safety.
Continued referrals from the two orphanages in Ethiopia.

Thanks for sharing in our JOY!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

I heart the US Postal Service!

Our 1-171 form came in today's mail! WOW!!!!!

We are beyond thrilled. After much jumping up and down and screaming we...

Headed to Dairy Queen for some celebration ice cream. It was delicious!

What a
GREAT day!

We now will travel to Austin to get our huge amounts of paperwork state certified. It will then be overnighted to our agency where it will be authenticated and translated and head off to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

We are hoping to be DTE (dossier to Ethiopia) by June 13, 2008.

The next phase is 7-9 months long, waiting for a referral for our precious baby girl.

What you can pray for:

* Save travel to Austin
* All our documents are in perfect order thus preventing delays
* Our DTE date will be established quickly
* Continued patience and trust in our Lord! Mommy has been a little week in this area!

Thankful for:

* QUICK delivery of our I-171--10 days from our fingerprinting appointment! WOW!
* The funds needed for this phase were provided in FULL--miracle of God!
* Finding Joy in this Journey. It is my *goal* to find joy daily in our journey to Ava.
* God blessing me with some AMAZING friends who continue to listen to every detail of the process-- Thanks for being there and lifting me up--I love you guys!

Words cannot express how full our hearts are today!  This is a long process but we are so blessed in knowing that God has great plans for our family!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Guess what we did today (actually Yesterday)!

This is what a happy mommy and daddy look like!

Guess what we did today!

WE GOT FINGERPRINTED!!!! It was so exciting.

After a day of phone tag with my "friend" at the USCIS, I finally spoke to her on Tuesday morning at 8:30 am. She was so nice and so helpful. She received our overnight package and promised to work on our case over the next week. She asked for my email address and contact phone number. Within 30 minutes--we had the documents in hand to go and get fingerprinted.

What an amazing turnaround!

I never dreamed (but really hoped) that we would get this important step done so quickly!

What happens next:

* We need to receive the I-171 form that allows us to travel with an orphan (should receive within 2-4 weeks)
* Drive to Austin--get everything authenticated.
* Fedex our package to AW in Virginia. Hopefully, our papers will be in ET sometime in July. It may be later or quicker!

What can you pray for:

* Quick delivery of the I-171 
* FUNDS--we need $3200 to send in with our paperwork to AW. We know God will supply all our needs.

Praising God for:

* His faithfullness and peace.  It is hard to remember sometimes but he IS in control of every detail.
* We are finding Joy in the Journey. This is a difficult and lengthy process but we are so encouraged by all that has happened so far.

Thank you to all our family and friends that continue to pray for us.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

**USCIS Update**

I had my appointment with USCIS on Monday morning.  After going through security and standing at a tiny window to ask my questions--I left with a name and phone number of someone within the Orphan Dept!  I immediately called and spoke with this VIP and hopefully we will have our fingerprinting appointment scheduled sometime this week or next.  

What can you pray for:

* Favor with my contact at USCIS in getting a *quick* fingerprinting appointment.
* That our paperwork will not sit on someone's desk being ignored.
* For the I-171 to be processed in a timely manner.
* Lastly, that God would supply all our needs financially.

This is such an exciting journey.  Tulio and I have seen the hand of God in every single step of this process.  What an amazing story we will get the honoring of sharing with our precious baby girl!

Always be joyful.  Never stop praying.  1 Thessalonians 5:16-17

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Mail Call!

Yesterday my hubby and I spent all day painting our bedroom (precious hubby was THRILLED!)

After several hours of assisting my husband (at 5 feet I can only reach so much) I needed a break! Let me just say---usually I hate being so short BUT when it comes to painting, being short works in my advantage.

"So sorry love, I can't reach any higher...can you get it."  

SHHH!!!...don't reveal my secret--we have several more rooms to paint and it is my darling's favorite household chore.

Anyway, back to the topic of this post...the mail.

I went to check the mail, hoping and praying along the way that our home study report would have arrived while I was "working."

Guess what---it was THERE!  I ran into the house clutching this precious package.  I opened it up and immediately started crying.  So much has gone into this report and it is so important!  

On Monday, I have an appointment with Homeland Security to hand deliver our report and ask some questions...please pray for a successful trip.

Check back Tuesday for an update!

Taste and see that the Lord is good.  Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!  Psalm 34:8

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Adoption Update

We are so close to getting the finalized copies of our home study reports.  


What's next?

1.  Fingerprinting with USCIS (hopefully in May).
2.  Wait for the I-171--a very important document.
3.  Go to Austin to get everything authenticated at the state level.
4.  Send everything to AWAA--they do all their "stuff" on our paper baby.  I will post all the details when we get to that point.

AND Hopefully...

We will have a log in date (LID) sometime in late July, early August.

THEN...the wait for a referral begins.

As of now, the wait for an infant girl is 7-9 months.

Please pray that everything continues to move smoothly.  

We are on schedule, with very minor hiccups.

*** Please pray for all those involved in this complicated process!  There are have been some issues with power outages in Ethiopia.  This is causing some major delays and frustration for all involved.***

Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you.   Psalm 9:10

Sunday, April 27, 2008

My Job Description!

5 Minutes for Mom is holding a photo contest. They are giving a Mother’s Day gift of $1,000 (American Express gift card) to one lucky mom!  I thought I would try--we could use $1,000 for our adoption flights to Ethiopia.

These are some of my favorite photos:  Abby and I, Ben and his Dad and my precious kiddos when they were much smaller.

My Job Description:

Cook, chaplain, good listener, fashion consultant, decorator, nurse, artist, entertainer, purchasing agent, economist, lawyer, advocate, chauffer, etc...The list goes on and on!

The Pay:

$ 0 $ but excellent benefits!

I hope my children can describe me as this one day:

Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her: "There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but YOU surpass them all!"...Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise. Proverbs 31:28-29, 31

*** I did not win the $1,000, but it was fun reading all the entries***

Friday, April 25, 2008

Tag It! Bag It! GRAB BAG special!

Congrats to Angela!  She won the $50 in FREE stuff from Tag It! Bag It!  Gotta Have It! by kara.

In honor of my first bloggy giveaway, I am offering a sample grab bag of Tag It! Bag It! Gotta Have It!'s most popular items. 6 items (cards, tags, or bags) for only $8.00 ($2 s/h) = $10.00. I can only ship within the US. Items are packaged and ready to go! This offer is only good until May 3, 2008! Please pay through paypal.
All proceeds benefit the adoption expenses of Bringing Home Ava from Ethiopia.

Look how cute this chinese take out box is!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Now I know that the Easter bunny is a Big Fat LIAR!

I love the holidays. Christmas, Thanksgiving, St. Patty's--all of them. I decorate for every season---all year long. It is all about the magic and imagination. This "habit" began when my children were very little. Someone told me (my father--in all his wisdom) "Life is too short for your kids to not believe in Santa and the Easter Bunny. One day your kids will be grown and they will remember these magical moments."

OKAY---I totally believe in my father’s wisdom
HOWEVER this fun habit has grown into a full-fledged, humongous LIE! I always knew that I was a liar; I just did not know how BIG this lie would grow. What started out very small with a couple of Easter bunnies scattered around, a huge Easter basket delivered on Easter Sunday morning (by the Easter bunny himself) is NOW...out of control!

This last Easter our son, Ben, was so excited about the Easter bunny coming (
YES, he is 10!) We dyed eggs, made confetti eggs (Big mess!) and put out the carrots and celery. Let me just say right now---I THINK my kids know I am the Easter bunny BUT I would never, ever tell them the truth! I want them to believe that a big, nasty, talking rabbit enters our precious home to deliver them a bunch of “crap!”

Now that I have that established…

Ben would not go to sleep, he lay awake for hours. Finally at 2:30 am he nodded off to a land of Star Wars and
Webkinz. My husband and I quickly placed the Easter baskets out and headed to bed. At 6:00 am, I felt this tugging on my arm---guess who it was! NO, it was not Matthew.

BUT my adorable child, Ben. “Mom, hurry, hurry, I think the Easter bunny came.” After poking my husband twenty times in the ribs, he FINALLY got up to go see. Yes, the Easter Bunny came!

It gets better…

I thought that I would be practical in the basket filling this year since we are saving for an adoption; I am trying to be more frugal and less impulsive (very hard, shopping
is my therapy). Abby got some basic makeup and markers and a couple of pieces of candy hidden in eggs. Ben got markers, candy of course AND these really cool bathtub fizzes made by Crayola. I thought it was a fun idea until….

This is what I saw….

My precious, sweet boy had turned
BLUE! I was completely shocked upon entering the bathroom. He was thrilled! The directions clearly state—"use one or two colored tablets to enhance watercolor." Ben used ALL the blue tablets. I sent my little boy into take a bath and out came a SMURF!

By the way, Ben has been looking for the
red Crayola tablets—I am not sure where they are---the LIE goes on and on and on...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I have been tagged!

My sister-in-law over at beautiful craziness tagged me to answer a few questions about Tulio and I. This is fun! My first tag ever! Here goes:

How long did you date? We met when I was 17, he was 19. We dated for a little over a year and we were engaged 9 months. That was almost 16 years ago!
Who eats more?
Main course food, he does. Dessert, I do! 
Who said “I love you” first? He said "I love you" after 1 month of dating, before he kissed me or held my hand! 
Who is taller? He is. 
Who is smarter? I am most definitely! No really, he has a wonderful memory so he helps the kids with history, science and math. I do the language arts.
Whose temper is worse? Mine, by runs in the family! 
Who does the laundry? I do--although I HATE it!
Who sleeps on the right side of the bed?
I sleep on the right side, I am left-handed and prefer my beloved on my left. 
Who pays the bills? I do...have forever!
Who cooks dinner? We share dinner duty BUT Tulio makes breakfast every morning for the kids. He feels that is his "special" time with the kids.
Who drives when you are together? Tulio ALWAYS! He does not like to see me drive. I think I scare him.
Who is more stubborn? I am way more stubborn.
Who kissed who first? He kissed me, after he told me he loved me!  
Who is the first to admit when they are wrong? I am--totally TRUE!
Whose parents do you see the most? Mine, they live only 4 miles away.
Who proposed? He proposed while we were in bible college at a little rinky dink park. Very sweet memory.  
Who is more sensitive? We both are.
Who has more friends? We both have a few close friends. 
Who has more siblings? Equal--he is the oldest of three boys. I am the youngest of three. My sister is my twin.
Who wears the pants in the family? WOW! I would like to say that we both do, but that would be a LIE. I am the one in control...shhhh!!!...don't tell my husband!

Okay...I tag...
We are THAT family!

Monday, April 21, 2008

My budding actress...oooh, aahh!!

We have an actress on our hands! Abby just completed her first "real" production this weekend. She was part of the wonderful cast and crew of CYT (Christian Youth Theater)--Disney's "Beauty and the Beast". It was an awesome production! To all our friends and family that supported her by coming to see the play--we say THANK YOU! Look out New she comes! Abby and Ben are both home from school today resting. It was a very long week with rehearsals every day...

AND we completed our home study! YEAH!!! 4 separate interviews, many hours spent talking about everything! We were blessed to have such a wonderful social worker! This week we should receive the first draft of this very important document. Please pray for a speedy turnaround and that all parties involved will approve the home study. Once we receive the final notarized copies of our home study, we can then apply to be fingerprinted with the government. This is the LAST phase in the paperwork phase. We are anxious to get this completed so that we can send it on to Ethiopia.

Thank you to all who are supporting us in the journey...please continue to bathe our family in prayer!

The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. Psalm 28:7

Do you like FREE Stuff?

If you like free stuff, good stuff, then leave a comment! Over $50 in handcrafted gift tags and bags will be given to one lucky reader (you must comment!). While you are here, feel free to browse the rest of our site. Good luck! Check out a sample of some of the items you could win at Tag It! Bag It! Gotta Have It! by Kara

Wow! 224 comments left! Thanks for participating!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Look how they have grown!

As we travel through this process called adoption, a family is faced with so many unknowns, what-ifs and general questions. We wonder how old Ava will be when we get "the call." How big will she be when she comes home, what will her personality be like, etc? It has been fun to go back into old photo albums (No, I don't scrapbook!) and see the changes Abigail and Benjamin have experienced. Abby is now 13, a TEENAGER! Ben is 10-still mommy's little boy. These are my two very favorite photos--I remember these days so well! Sweet, sweet times! I just had to share.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. Psalm 18:2

Do you need to be shielded and protected? I DO! God tells us that when we respect and acknowledge him, he is our fortress. We can experience the strength and security he provides in any location. As we develop our reverence for God, we will find him to be our ULTIMATE security and fortress in life---our refuge wherever we may be.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Homestudy - More Shots - YIKES!

Our homestudy visits are scheduled for April--4 total. We are hoping to get the reports back completed by the first of May. Tulio and I have our second round of shots (sounds like a pet's visit!) in a week. I am thrilled; actually, Abby and Ben are excited they are not getting poked.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Custom Adoption BIBS are HERE!!!

Custom Adoption Bibs are made from soft chenille and designer named fabric. Each bib has a matching grosgrain ribbon and unique embroidery is added for that custom boutique touch. 10 different styles to choose from. AFRICA and CHINA are the current countries offered. The bibs fit children 6-36 months. Perfect for any age! Proceeds from the sell of these precious bibs are applied toward our adoption expenses. Paypal is the preferred method of payment. Please add $2.00 for shipping. If you have any questions, please email me at

You can also find us at:

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Garage Sale Success!

WOW! Tulio and I are amazed at the results from our garage sale today! We made around $830. Another awesome thing---we had a donor generously give a matching gift for our sales. The result equaling $1660. AMAZING! God is good! We started our day early at 3:30 am. I followed Tulio in our fully loaded rented Uhaul to The Woodlands Town Center. We waited behind 24 eager sellers until 5 am to unload our treasures. I have to admit, I was worried how Tulio and I were going to unload everything by ourselves. Upon entering the garage, I noticed a bunch of happy teenagers (at 5 am!) walking around the parking garage. I rolled down my window, and asked them if they were looking for something to do and they eagerly said, "Yes!" I said--FOLLOW THAT U-HAUL. We parked into our spot, told these kids that we were having a adoption fundraiser and within 20 minutes our Uhaul and car were not only fully unloaded but our spot was completely set up! It was so incredible! This fun group of teenagers was so great to us. It did not stop at them helping us set up. They brought us water three times and asked over and over if we needed more help! As I write this, I am still in AWE! On Monday morning--I am heading straight to the high school to compliment these kids! They deserve it!

This fundraising event could not have been as successful without the help of some awesome family, friends and neighbors. To you--we say thanks! You are helping us bring our precious baby girl home from Ethiopia. I can't wait to tell Ava the stories of God's faithfulness while we waited for her!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Dossier/Homestudy Update

There are over 40 individual documents to collect. In less than two weeks, we have collected 90% of what is on our checklists. The home study checklist is super long as well as the dossier checklist. Lots of required reading too! Over the Easter weekend, we faxed over 35 pages to Duni (our family coordinator) for pre-approval. Today, I received an email that they were ALL approved to move forward in the process. I have felt God's assurance and presence in every piece of paper collected. Please pray that the remaining documents are sent without delay. The total cost to date has been around $ 6000.00. I know God will supply all that is needed to proceed in our journey.

Garage Sale & Dossier Update

I have been so busy sorting and pricing all the wonderful items for our first adoption fundraiser for Ava. We have rented a booth at the awesome flea market-The Woodlands holds twice a year. The kids are excited to wear their money pouch on Saturday. Benjamin already has change ready to go! Check out the results on Sunday---lots of pictures too! The last week has also been spent collecting the necessary paperwork for our Dossier and Home Study. We are close to having all the required paperwork. Please pray that the rest of the documents come in quickly!

Our Garage is FULL!

A big Thank You! to the following: The Clark Family, The Welch Family, The Davis Family, Our neighbors Suzy and Marianne and Stormy. They have cleaned out their closets and garages for our sale!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Physicals & Shots...Oh Boy!

Today was so much fun! We spent 2.5 hours with our doctor this morning getting the necessary physicals and first round of shots. What a joyous Spring Break! Tulio and I got 3 shots, 1 TB test (our kids did not appreciate the term "test) and lots of blood drawn. Abby and Ben were scared to death and dreaded the required TB test. After way too many promises made--ice cream, toys, anything you want, etc...they finally gave in! Tulio and I will have to get two more rounds before we head to Ethiopia. Can't wait!

We love our bandages!

Ben kepts his arm like this all day!

Abby was not happy about this photo session!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Passports & Paperwork

Tulio and I received our passports in the mail today! They are really cool. We also received the dossier guidelines package. It was not nearly as detailed or scary as I had imagined. I spent the better part of the afternoon starting on it. It was actually fun! There is pleasure in obedience. Every document is one step closer to our precious baby.

"I take joy in doing your will, my God, for your instructions are written on my heart." Psalm 40:8

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

In HIS Timing

The process of adoption is lengthy, tiring, worrisome and costly. AND, we are just starting! Today, I was reminded that bringing home our daughter is in God's perfect timing. Knowing and trusting that God, in His awesome power, knows the very plans in store for our family. Why should I worry--His eyes are on ME! Letting go of the control and surrendering is so difficult. My daily struggle--actually a lifelong battle. A very hard lesson for me! My husband is so wonderful! He sent me an email today and I had to share a little, "God is going to take care of all our needs, let's promise to keep our eyes focused on Him." Tulio always knows what to say and when to say it! I am blessed!

Jeremiah 29:11- "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Friday, March 7, 2008

Important People

We know who are ET coordinator (Duni Z.) and social worker (Beth P.) will be. We should hear from them in the near future.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Receipt of Payment to USCIS arrived today.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Fingerprinting & Agency Agreement Forms

Today I mailed off a very important form--the I-600A--Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition. Copies of birth certificates, marriage license, money order for $830 and lots of forms were Expressed Mailed-overnight to the Houston office of U.S.CI.S.--Citizenship and Immigration office. Included with this form is a Biometric Services request. Basically, Tulio and I have to be fingerprinted with Homeland Security. This form takes a while to process and we have to wait for an appointment to be fingerprinted. Please pray that this step is quick! In a separate package, I mailed all of the agency agreement forms and first payment today. We will be assigned an Ethiopian family coordinator soon.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Journal Entry II from Abby

The next morning I decided that I should mention to my family how I newly felt towards adoption. Dad was preparing breakfast and my brother and I were getting ready for a late start to school. I was eager to tell my mom what had happened in my heart at the concert the night before. Walking out of my room, I saw my mom working at her desk on her computer. Very excited I said, "Mom, guess what? I feel okay and more opened to the idea of adoption then I ever have." As soon as the words came out of my mouth my mom looked a little surprised and answered back, "really?" I shared with my mom how God had spoken to me the night before and began working in my heart. "That's good Abby because people have been praying for you, " mom said. We hugged and immediately went to tell dad and Ben. I repeated to my dad the same feelings while Ben jumped up and down at the breakfast table. He was really excited! My mom and dad explained to us the long process of adoption and where our new sibling would come from. "Ethiopia," they said. Dad explained how many orphans live in Africa-- mainly because of poverty. My heart sunk. I couldn't even imagine this. I quickly realized that we had the power to change the life of one child FOREVER. One little Ethiopian girl would have a family to call her OWN. I am excited and nervous all at the same time. I can't wait to meet Ava!