Friday, March 25, 2011


Our weekly update today brings lots of, you guessed it, changes.

In January, the USCIS "Special Ops" made a trip to Ethiopia to review cases with MOWA.  The latest findings indicate the US presence is in alignment with the proper rules and procedures, however, there may be some concerns about how some of the children are identified as adoptable on the Ethiopian side, meaning this part of the process needs further analysis.

So, and I'm not sure how they got from A to B, but paperwork may be (I read this as will almost 100% likely be) processed in Nairobi before the adoption is finalized.  In other words, an independent group in Nairobi will review the cases from here forward.  As a CPA, indepedent is a good term, but knowing their credentials as independent will be the key. (Anyone remember that thing that happened about 10 years ago with Enron and Arthur Anderson?)

They identified 1,000 cases currently in process that will be affected, and our family is one of those 1,000 cases.

There is also a meeting the USCIS is offering on April 6th to discuss the changes in more detail.  Since Kevin and I are one of the 1,000 cases, we received an invitation and at least I will be attending via phone.  We are not sure if Kevin will be able to attend.

So, we ask for your prayers and kind thoughts as this process we had thought was stable, working efficiently and predictable becomes anything but.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Volcanos, MOWA, oh my....

We received word that MOWA will be processing 20 cases a day.  While this is less than half of what was processed before these changes, but we prefer to think of it as 4 times as many as we had previously been told a few short weeks ago.

While I, Patty, was in Hawaii, it turned out that my friend was not able to join me.  Her mother had a stroke as she was leaving for the airport, and I didn't find out until I hit the "sand" on the Big Island.  It was rather disappointing to find out, but I decided to move on and enjoy the vacation, I mean it's Hawaii, right?
Hawaiian Sunset

Upon arriving, unpacking and heading down to the "main drag" I found out that the Hawaiian Islands were significantly affected by the Japan Earthquake by the resulting Tsunami's the day before.  Several people had to sleep in cars at Walmart (interesting to think of how this is a normal life for some people).Several of the shops were closed and there was lots of infrastructure and houses that were damaged.  Almost all of the West (leeward?) beaches were closed.  Last I heard, was over $10M in damages.  Strike 2.

After speaking with the shop owners and asking how I could help and I ended up taking lots of photos for their insurance paperwork.  It was hard to see what this destruction had done, but what amazed me was the ability of the whole community to pull together and help each other out.  One of the shop keepers insisted I keep a shirt she had made saying "I survived the Tsunami."  For the record, I did not, but they did and this shirt will be my reminder of this.

The next day I took a helicopter over the volcano.  Many of you know how much of a lava/volcano chaser I am, so I was quite excited.  Well, as it turned out, the lava that had been busting at the seems the week before had all gone underground as soon as the earthquake hit.  So, by the time I got there, it looked like a newer Mt. St. Helens and the "regular" lava flow (since 1983) has gone completely underground.  Still cool, but it did not met or exceed my expectations.  Strike 3.
Volcano without Lava

New Fissure

So I think you could probably describe the last month as a bit of a downer, and struck out, but it will get better.  We have faith.

The first of things starting to look up:

Third Day, one of my favorite bands, has started collecting photos of children and families who were adopted to show in their concerts.  Pretty exciting to see the adoption movement be supported by some pretty large names these days!

Maholo for all of your support!
Hawaiian Sunrise

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Answered Prayer - MOWA Changes Made Today 3/10

Message from our agency only moments ago:

The director and staff at MOWA who made the recommendation/declaration to reduce the adoption reviews from 50 down to 5 were all fired as of yesterday. A new staff has been brought in to replace them.

While we don’t know for sure how this will impact the situation in Ethiopia, we are optimistic that this will be a positive step toward minimizing delays for the children needlessly waiting in the orphanages. Clearly new staff will need to be trained and there will be delays as they come up to speed on their roles, but in general it is good news!

As you can see information changes rapidly so please continue to hang in there over the coming days and weeks as we strive to find out more and the impact this may have on your adoptions.

Hanging in there!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

New Law In Effect

FYI...The official post went up on the US State Department website.  It's 3AM, March 10th in Addis Ababa.  The new law is in effect. 

Pray for the 5 cases processed tomorrow to flow smoothly and build confidence in the MOWA team so that they can begin processing more cases shortly.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

150,000,000. 5,000,000. 13,000. 46,800. 25. 52,000. 2. 1,300. 5,200. 1.

This Friday's update is most sad.

US State Department announcements have changed our plans quite significantly in the last week twice.  The first time is the changed reccomendation for travel safety in Mexico, so Patty will now go to Hawaii.  While this is frustrating, it's still Hawaii.

The change that makes our hearts ache though is the US State Department changes for adoptions in Ethiopia.  We may have shared with some of you about an additional 2-3 week review at the State Department level after the Ethiopian paperwork was approved. This started February 14th.  This will continue to be the case, except a new statement is on the way.

That's why I am up at 5AM and why our hearts ache.  This can be described as only an accountant can best describe, numbers:

  • In the world, there are approximately 150,000,000 orphans; beautiful and wonderful children, without parents to care for them.
  • In Ethiopia, there are approximately 5,000,000 orphans; beautiful and wonderful children, without parents to care for them.
  • Each year approximately, 13,000 US Adoptions occur from Ethiopia giving these children loving families.
  • That's 25% of all international adoptions in Ethiopia.
  • Total international adoptions a year in Ethiopia ~52,000.
  • Currently, 50 adoption cases pass through the Ethiopian Ministry on Women's Affairs (MOWA) a day.
  • Each adoption takes a minimum of 2 court cases.
  • MOWA has decided to change this from 50 to 5 cases a day effective March 10 or March 14th.
  • This would effectively make the number of US Adoptions 1,300 a year and international adoptions 5,200 a year
  • This also means that 46,800 Ethiopian children a year that would have homes in other countries will continue to wait for families. (That's 129 a day).
  • This also means that a group of children who fall into the "more adoptable" age group will grow into an older age group and possibly not be adopted because they are older.
  • This also means that other Ethiopian children who do not have places to live will continue to live on the streets or as potential victims.
  •  It's the domino effect.
In Ethiopia, the changes that are being made are for a purpose...To protect the children.  To make sure they are not taken from their birth families if their families or extended families have the ability and desire to care for them.  Why on Earth, when then there are 5,000,000 beautiful children waiting for homes, would a person want to resort to removing a child from their family otherwise?  My guess is that people are too impatient and selfish.

The details of what happened have to do with an agency (NOT OUR AGENCY), who was working outside of the rules and regulations.  In December, they were closed down in Ethiopia and shortly thereafter, the US stopped granting their petitions.  Imagine the number of families who are now left in the lurch, they have met their children and wait for a court date, but what was supposed to take 6 weeks will now take 6 months.   Or those working with that agency, which are now left to start over with a grain of salt and shattered dreams. I think these situations would be harder than what we face.

What we originally thought would be right about now bringing our kiddo home, then moved out to be before Christmas, may very well be significantly longer. No one can tell at this point.
150,000,000. 5,000,000. 13,000. 46,800. 25. 52,000. 2. 1,300. 5,200. 1.  

Trying to describe what these numbers mean to me is so complicated .  First, I see HUGE numbers 5,000,000, a number that seems so incredibly hard to imagine I have come in contact with that many people in my entire life, I probably haven't and I travel a lot.  The sum of more than the number of people I have probably ever come in contact with and probably will, are without parents.  That's a heavy burden on my heart.

Compared to the first two numbers, the rest of the numbers seem statistically insignificant.  But that's the amazing thing about people.  If a person smiles at one person who is having a bad day, or is in seemingly hopeless circumstances, it can have a domino effect.  In return, they are nice to someone and someone else is nice to someone else.  In general, people pay it forward.  So one kind act, can lead to a revolution.

I thank MOWA for taking the extra time to review each case in depth, and I will not let my desire for our next family member to cause me to be selfish and impatient and to disrupt the number of children as has happened in Ethiopia over the last 90 days.  I will be patient. I will trust that our child who was known and chosen by the Lord before the beginning of time will come home when the time is right. 

But how will I explain this to Dane?   Our little boy who prays each night for his brother or sister (okay now he's talking about a sister who doesn't like iCarly wonder if we need to change our paperwork to reflect the dislike of iCarly?), doesn't know yet. I haven't quite put this into a way that I can understand it, so explaining it to him is going to be hard.  I imagine there will be more tears shed, and likely if you ask us about this, you will see more tears shed too (so don't be surprised).

I can't help but think that during this unexpected wait, we can be focusing on the solution for the 150,000,000, and looking forward to and praying for the 1.

But I also can't help but be sad.  

Dane just woke up and walked out and very first thing  asked me, "Now what we should do now?" Very poignant little man, very poignant.  But while he was talking about what do we do today, I think that bring us to what WE will do in this situation.

As Philippians 4:6 says:  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

We are praying for MOWA to be able to review cases more thoroughly and carefully, and for the process to continue to move quickly.  Lives are at stake.  People are at stake.  Children are at stake. 

I'm reminded of a song we sang in high school summer camp:
Let's start a revolution
We need a revolution
Let's start a revolution...
Of love...
 Let's start this revolution with prayer.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Just thought I would share how fun it is to get notifications from the shipping company saying where the different packages are in transit to Ethiopia...

It's also neat to hear Dane's excitement about out going to Ethiopia to get his brother or sister.  Today, he told us we needed to hurry this up.  His brother (note he's no longer talking about a sister) can't wait to see the elevator Daddy and him made.  Dane hopes his brother will fit on the seat, but if he can't "he will have to climb up the stairs so we can share our bed."
I am so excited for the day this is Dane Dane and his sibling in this picture!!