Thursday, May 23, 2013

No More Numbers

To our family and dear friends,
We want to keep you as updated as possible about our adoption process, and we received some news from our agency that we think you should know.  The wait time for Ethiopia has increased significantly due to questionable ethical practices - NOT with our agency, but with other agencies.  Due to the increased wait times, effective immediately, our agency will no longer issue monthly waitlist numbers.  For us, the numbers were a blessing and a curse.  They were a great visual for us and others to watch our progress during the adoption process.  At the same time, they could be very disappointing and disheartening when we saw no movement or even moved up!  The numbers that we have received for the past year will definitely be a part of Safiya's adoption scrapbook, and we look forward to coming up with some creative ways to track our progress without numbers.  Additionally, because of the long wait times, our agency is allowing families to pursue concurrent adoptions, meaning that a family could commit to another child with another agency during the wait and still remain on AGCI's wait list.  We have not decided what our course of action will be regarding concurrent adoptions, but we are examining our options for domestic and international adoptions while we wait for Safiya.  We are disheartened by the news that questionable ethical practices (i.e. baby buying) are occurring in Ethiopia, but are thankful that our agency is operating in a morally upstanding manner and refuses to participate in such practices.  We know that God will bring our sweet girl to us in His time, but   the longing for another child is breaking our hearts right now.  If any changes to the adoption timeline happen, we will let everyone know as soon as possible.

- Natalie and Buck

Friday, April 12, 2013

Keeping Busy

If idle hands are the devil's playground, then he ought to be nowhere near our house. After we submitted our dossier, the excitement of paper chasing came to a grinding halt. We no longer had to make excursions around the tri-county area to get the signatures of doctors, notaries, social workers, employers, former employers, and the WV Secretary of State. We no longer waited with bated breath to jump the _____man (insert mail, UPS and/or FedEx here) when he pulled into the driveway.. And most disappointing, we no longer made exciting trips to the post office and forced the innocent employees to take embarrassing pictures with us. (See Exhibit A)

Exhibit A. Me and Jules with the. most. awkward. post employee ever.

Naturally, we wondered what the heck we were supposed to do with our spare time. Our case worker sent us a very helpful email suggesting that we "keep busy" during the wait. She still occasionally makes the same helpful suggestion in her monthly update emails.  As if I wasn't "keeping busy" enough chasing Miss Thing around (See Exhibit B)
Exhibit B. Miss Thing

But in all seriousness, there's a lot of empty hours between her bedtime and mine.  So I've been keeping busy with projects around the house (read: Pinterest ideas) First up: A new big girl quilt for Miss Thing - twin sized for her new bunk beds, which I single-handedly assembled, along with the matching pink ceiling fan.

Next, I thought it would be fun to build a chicken coop.

Look for pictures of its inhabitants during the 2nd week of May.  We are also open to suggestions for naming our 4 Golden Buffs - my only requests are no chicken anatomy or delicacy names, and that one is named Madea.

During said chicken coop building, in which I enlisted the carpentry expertise of my patient and understanding father-in-law, I learned how to use power tools, including this bad boy:

Once I learned the basics, I even used it by myself to build the bottom part of the chicken coop door.  Apparently, I wasn't ready for a solo plunge cut, though, so I made due with a screwdriver and a big hammer.

Next, I moved my ambitious self back inside and rearranged and enhanced our bedroom decor:

I about burned off my fingertips making this Pinterest idea come to life, which would have been unfortunate since we need to renew our FBI fingerprints next week.

This evening, I thought I would bring things down a notch and make the Pineapple Princess a dress.

And, of course, finish off the night with a little light reading and the original Karate Kid on Netflix.

Throw in a home study update and 10 hours of work. and that, friends, is how a waiting adoptive mama keeps busy...for a week. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013


"So you were adopting, right? How's that going?"
"Heard any adoption news lately?"
"What's your number?"
"Are you still waiting?"
"When will she be home?"
"Hasn't it been like a year?"

Yes, we ARE adopting. 
We have no idea.
Actually, it's been 1 year, 7 months and 23 days since we submitted our application.

Shortly after we submitted our application, adoptions in Ethiopia slowed by 90%. That translates to 2-4 cases per day being processed through the court system for the entire country. That doesn't include the days that the judge has meetings elsewhere and can't review the cases; nor does it account for the rainy season in Ethiopia, during which the courts shut down from August until October.  Meanwhile, our future daughters and sons wait, stuck in orphanages because their case wasn't chosen to be reviewed that day, or a piece of paperwork was missing or signed incorrectly.  It's the ugliest form of bureaucracy - enacting laws, policies, and restrictions that hurt, rather than help, the children they're supposed to protect.  

And so we wait. We wait for testimonies from family members that our daughter was freely relinquished for adoption without coercion or bribery. Or we wait for confirmation from the police officer who found her abandoned on the street that every effort was made to locate her family. We wait for relatives to travel 2 days by car or bus to Addis Ababa to appear in court and testify for the relinquishment of their child. We wait for papers to be signed, translated, authenticated, notarized, stamped, sealed, and approved by the U.S., Ethiopia, and sometimes (just for fun), Kenya. And that, friends, is why these kids are stuck.  For months, for years...the current wait time for new families on our agency's wait list for a healthy baby girl is over 2 years. That's 2 years from being added to the waitlist until referral (matching of the child with a family). That doesn't include the months of paperwork that families completed just to get on the wait list.  For perspective, we started the adoption process when Juliana was 8 months old.  She is now 25 months old. 

The purpose of this post is simple: every child deserves a family. It is a basic human right.  No child, regardless of their age, ethnicity, or limitations should be denied a family.  A documentary called "Stuck" explores why international adoptions are declining and follows several families who have waited and fought for years to bring their children home.  It is excellent, intriguing, and heart-wrenching. If you have a spare hour during your week, please watch it.  If you aren't interested in purchasing the movie, please contact me.  I will provide the username and password. - to purchase the movie for $12.99 (All proceeds go toward Both Ends Burning, an organization that supports enacting changes in international adoptions to bring children home faster) - to watch the movie (contact me at or via Facebook for the username and password)

Until the next number,

Friday, March 29, 2013

A Year...In the Blink of an Eye

March 31, 2012.  That's when we were officially added to the wait list. It will be a year on Easter.  A year of praying. A year of hoping. A year of waiting. A year of anticipation.  A year of preparation.  A year of waiting. A year of change. A year of seeing through new eyes. A year of celebration, indecision, affirmation, doubting.  A year of waiting. It was an agonizingly long year, but at the same time, it passed in the blink of an eye.  The waiting has not become any easier - our girl is never far from our thoughts. But waiting is no longer synonymous with fretful anticipation.  It has become routine and now holds a treasured place in our hearts.  Because we know the wait will eventually end.  And when it does, it will be joyous. It will be redeeming. It will be beautiful.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Fundraiser Updates

We are so, so, excited to announce that...we have raised the $4,500 needed for our referral fees! I know, that was mean - you thought we got our referral, huh?  A good friend told me that she thinks Monday would be a good day for our referral...I happen to agree :)  So, our referral fees will be submitted when we are matched with our daughter.  They will pay for her medical visits and care at Hannah's Hope in Ethiopia, along with several other things.  The good news is that this is the last set of fees we need to submit to our agency.  The bad news is that we still need to raise funds to travel to Ethiopia...twice.  The first time will be to meet our daughter and to be present for our court date in Ethiopia, in which the Ethiopia government recognizes that we are legally our daughter's parents.  The second trip will occur 4-8 weeks later, in which we will attend our Embassy appointment, receive our daughter's legal and travel documents, and bring her home!

How much do two trips to Ethiopia cost, you ask?  About $2,500 per round trip ticket. Yikes! We are confident, though, that God will provide the funds we need to travel to our baby girl. With that said, we are excited to announce several upcoming fundraising opportunities:

1. We still have about 35 Simply Love t-shirts (mostly sizes L and XL, but a few Smalls and Mediums). They come in 3 fabulous designs and 4 different colors, and are so, so comfy! The shirts are $25 and you can order on our blog or contact me personally!

2. We want our little giraffe to know that so many people love her and helped to bring her home. So, we are doing a puzzle piece fundraiser.  You can buy a piece of this 350 piece puzzle for $10, and your name will be written on the back of the piece that you purchase.  When the puzzle is complete, we will display it in a double-sided frame so that Safiya can see who all was (and is!) a piece of her adoption story.  You can purchase a piece of Safiya's adoption puzzle under the "Puzzle" link of our blog!

3. I'm putting my creative skills to use for this one: I will be designing, painting and selling wooden letters and names for kids' rooms.  You pick your colors and patterns, and I'll do the rest! Letters are $7 apiece, and shipping is available.  You can order on my Etsy website: .  Click on "Send a message to shop owner" to personalize your letters!

4. My cousin, Samantha, is hosting an online 31 fundraiser party for our adoption! 20% of all sales will benefit our adoption, and there are some awesome new products on their Fall line!  You can check out the party at:

Also, look for an announcement (soon!) about a 31 party that we will be hosting at my mom's house later this month!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Wading Through the Raisin Bran

Our article in the paper has prompted several emails, Facebook messages and personal encounters with family, friends, and even complete strangers.  The most common comment is something along the lines of "You'll be such a good mommy to this little girl" or "She is so lucky to have you as a mommy".  I know these words are meant to be encouraging, but they make me cringe.  Every time.  I'd like to hand out little business cards to these people with this blog post on them:  And then maybe a post-assessment asking if they still think I'll be a good mommy after reading about our crazy, dysfunctional life.  And as for her being the lucky one?  No, no, no....we are the lucky ones.  We are being blessed beyond all explanation to be the parents of this precious child, whom we've never seen or met, but would still die for.  I know this post is uncharacteristically cynical today, but it's been a hard week.  I haven't felt like a good mommy.  I feel like I'm stuck in a tornado with a whirling dirvish named Juliana spinning around me.

With that said, I'm reading "House Rules" by Jodi Picoult.  It's about a mom raising a child with high-functioning autism.  And this part of the book spoke to me:

We are expected to be supermoms these days, instead of admitting that we have flaws. It is tempting to believe that all mothers wake up feeling fresh every morning, never raise their voices, only cook with organic food, and are equally at ease with the CEO and PTA.  Here's the secret: Those mothers don't exist. Most of us - even if we'd never confess - are suffering through the raisin bran in the hopes of a glimpse of that magic ring. I look very good on paper.  I have a family, and I write a newspaper column. In real life, I have to pick superglue out of the carpet. rarely remember to defrost for dinner, and plan to have BECAUSE I SAID SO engraved on my tombstone.  
Real mothers wonder why experts who write for Parents and Good Housekeeping seem to have their acts together all the time when they themselves can barely keep their heads above the stormy seas of parenthood. Real mothers don't just listen with humble embarrassment to the elderly lady who offers unsolicited advice in the checkout line when a child is throwing a tantrum.  We take the child, dump him in the lady's cart, and say, "Great. Maybe you can do a better job." Real mothers know that it's okay to eat cold pizza for breakfast. Real mothers admit it is easier to fail at this job than succeed. 
If parenting is the box of raisin bran, then real mothers know the ratio of flakes to fun is severely imbalanced.  For every moment that your child confides in you, or tells you he loves you, or does something unprompted to protect his brother that you happen to witness, there are many more moments of chaos, error, and self-doubt.
Real mothers may not speak the heresy, but they sometimes secretly wish they'd chosen something for breakfast other than this endless cereal. Real mothers worry that other mothers will find that magic ring, whereas they'll be looking for ages.
Rest easy, real mothers. The very fact that you worry about being a good mom means that you already are one. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Updates to our Journey

It's been way too long since I've updated our awesome readers about our adoption journey, but....not a whole lot has happened!  We're still on the waitlist: #130 for girls and #54 for siblings.  A LOT of families have left AGCI in the past few months to pursue waiting children with other agencies and countries.  We are overjoyed that these waiting children have found their forever families, and were tempted to join those families, but feel like God wants us to stay with AGCI for a little while longer.

In more exciting news, our Simply Love shirts are here, and they're gorgeous!  We have men's (M-XL) and women's (S-XL) shirts in 3 different styles.  Check out our Simply Love page on our blog to order one or email me at to place an order.

We had a HUGE successful yard sale last weekend at Life UMC in Fairmont and raised nearly $2,000! We are so grateful for the help of our family and friends who helped make this fundraiser possible!  And finally, an article was published in the Times West Virginian today about our adoption journey.  We are so thankful to Mary Wade Burnside for the wonderfully written article and to Tammy Shriver for the beautiful photos. You can check out the article here:
From WV to Ethiopia p1 From WV to Ethiopia p2