July 29, 2014

3 years waiting

Today marks 3 years on our agency's waitlist for our baby girl in Ethiopia.
"Do you not know, have you not heard?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth.  He does not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom.  He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."  Isaiah 40:28-31

Lord,  We trust you.  We remember your promises and walk in them today with joy from you!  Strengthen us for today and show yourself glorious and mighty in how you bring Marlee home.
In Jesus' name, Amen.

July 23, 2014

When plans change

When plans change...I don't usually adjust on the fly really well.  My sweet husband does.  He has the approach that what is, just is, and let's move forward.  I just have this OMG I can't believe it or accept it look on my face and my brain freezes up.  Then I grieve.  After the fact, I process and grieve some more!  That's what we've been up to since May 19th.

On Mother's day I shared that we were pursuing a domestic adoption, but what I didn't say is that we had been matched with a birthmother and she was planning to have us adopt her son due on June 16th.  He came early on May 17th, while I was celebrating the last day of school with my fellow teachers at lunch and they were throwing me a surprise baby shower.  What I didn't know on that day was that our sweet birthmom was bringing her precious healthy baby boy into the world without me and she had changed her mind about adoption.  What mother could blame her?!?  Our social worker called me that May monday morning right after she found out about it and gave us the news.  *insert shocked face and numb brain*  Then we hung up and I called Michael with the news.  *insert tears* We had lost our referral, and for awhile I had lost a lot of hope.  We were at least mentally prepared for this possibility.  It happens 50% of the time in domestic adoptions!  that is very scary, but we are still called.  Now I know, yet again, that we can do hard things!  I haven't blogged about it until now because every time I tried it was just this huge thing I couldn't put into words...and I still can't, but I felt I should share an update for those of you who pray for our adoption and care about us. 

My grief isn't done.  I'm doing much better than I was at first though.  My brain is processing again and my tears are less, but I'm emotionally drained....this adoption process is so tiring.  Honestly, it's hard for me to take in other people's joys right now.  It's not that I'm not happy for others, I am!  I'm just under this fog of my own grief right now and it's having this lethargic effect on me.  I guess you could add on that we've moved 3 times in the last 6 months and been busy with our church plant as other reasons why I'm worn out too!  I'm learning from all of this though and it's making me more empathetic towards others and their losses.  You can pray rest and encouragement for us, and be gracious with me if I don't want to talk about it, or if I can't stop talking about it :) 

We are still pursuing an international adoption to Ethiopia (Marlee Joy!) and a domestic adoption, though we don't have time tables.  We did some fundraising this summer as well as moved into our new house.  Hopefully this is where we will stay for a good long time and, Lord-willing, bring some babies home to!  We wrestle some days with this, but are trusting God will guide us.  His ways are higher than our ways.

May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day 2014!!

Myles is trying to tell you something, but I'll do best to just blurt it out...We're expecting through adoption once again!  Wait, you say, you haven't gotten Marlee Joy home from Ethiopia yet and you're already jumping to another child?!?  The short answer to that is "Yes".  We are saying Yes to God when He asked us to start another journey to another child WHILE we wait to finish our adoption of Marlee.  We are saying Yes to God possibly giving us THREE children before we ever experiencing just two! (insert your crazy face and remark here___)  Here's a bit of the story....

In August of last year we had some hard conversations with our case manager regarding the wait in Ethiopia.  She was very honest with us and for that we were so glad.  but the news wasn't "good" and we were told that we would be waiting another two years if not longer; possibly seeing the country close to adoptions before we can ever finalize our adoption there.  She told us of different options (i.e. changing countries, trying to get pregnant, just keep waiting, or pursue a simultaneous adoption domestically while we wait).  The last option peaked our interest and we decided to start praying about a domestic/local adoption.  I jokingly texted my friend who is a local social worker asking if they were referring out any children to families at the time.  To my surprise she replied, "are you serious, because we're looking for a family to adopt right now"!  This situation ended up being an intense time of prayer/fasting/talking on the subject of domestic adoption for Michael and I, and a precious birth mother deciding to keep her child.  It was God's sovereignty.  We were so excited for her, and it really created a desire in us for this kind of adoption.  So we continued to pray for God's timing and leading.  Meanwhile we sold our house, moved in with friends, then to a rental, and finally found a house to buy.  In mid march we began to feel an urgency to turn in our application (it had been filled out since August) and begin the adoption journey to our child that would come from here.  We are opening our parameters to either gender and any race for this child, but it will be a newborn.  We are thrilled to be sharing our news and we appreciate your support.  Over the months of prayer, the Lord has opened our eyes to the great need right here in our country, state and city to widows and orphans.  I would urge you to consider praying and obeying the Lord's leading on what part He would have you to play in regards to our local orphans and widows.

So here's where we are.  Our paperwork is done.  We could have a baby in as few as 3-4 weeks (wow!!!).  Somehow, we have to come up with $15,000 in that amount of time.  Already we've seen God at work (more on that later), but it's a step of faith for sure.  Aside from our donation through paypal on the tool bar on the right hand side of the blog, we are having a noonday collection fundraiser at my house on May 22nd 6pm if you'd like to come!  We are also opening it up to online orders for those who can't come, but would still like to shop with a cause!  The online orders can be made anytime, not just on the 22nd.  Noonday Collection uses fashion and design to help create economic opportunity for the vulnerable.  The products these amazing artisans create from all over the world are beautiful!!  If you're interested in checking it out and ordering online you can go to www.sarahbenton.noondaycollection.com add the items you want to your checkout and proceed to checkout.  BEFORE filling out your shipping info, under "Ambassador" find: Sarah Benton and under Trunk Show type: MeganManual5.22.14.  This way we know to credit your purchase to our adoption fundraiser!  We're also still selling coffee at www.justlovecoffee.com/about/beneficiary/themanuels

January 28, 2014

Good News!

As I typed out the title of this blog post I immediately thought about the gospel of Jesus Christ-He is the ultimate Good News!  I was just reading a devotional about it today and how He's making us into a new creation and our call as Image bearer's of Christ is to show and share that good news that has/is/and is going to save us! 

The adoption journey is one way I feel that the Lord is trying to accomplish His purposes of making me more like Himself.  Romans 8:25 "but if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance."  I'm waiting for Jesus to come back, I'm also waiting for a daughter from Ethiopia...the latter is helping produce endurance for the former.  It has been SO encouraging to hear from so many of y'all this month about how God has laid me and our family on your heart to pray!!  This prayer support has gotten me through a long month of waiting, and moving (we sold our house, moved in with a sweet family, and are moving into a rental this weekend until we can find a house to buy).

ok I just gotta say it....Ethiopian international adoptions are staying open!!!  Thank you Lord for answering our prayers!!!  This excerpt is from our email earlier today;

"We are thrilled to share positive news from Ethiopia.  Earlier today Minister Zenebu, along with other high level MOWCYA officials, met with agency network representatives.  In this meeting it was clearly expressed by Minister Zenebu that she does not plan to work to stop adoptions, but desires to focus on eliminating bad practice and continue to invest in good practice of Ethiopia adoptions.  She reiterated that neither MOWCYA nor the Ethiopian Government plan to shut down adoptions within Ethiopia, and went on to encourage agencies to continue their work as normal."

January 3, 2014

Please pray

I've been going back and forth on whether to share this information on our adoption right now because, quite honestly, it's hard, and I hate being a debbie downer for the new year!  I finally decided that I would rather have you all aware to pray than to pray alone right now.  What a very long week it's been! This is a copy of the dreaded "Ethiopia program update" we received last friday.

Ethiopia Program Update

"Hello Ethiopia families,
We hope you had a great Christmas with your family and friends. We wanted to take a moment to reach out to you today and share some news with you. We have received the following article and wanted to be sure to pass it on to you. At this point we have not been able to confirm the weight or accuracy of the details within the email, but wanted to let you know we are aware of it. We will work to connect with our staff and share any updated information we receive. Should you have any questions we are definitely here to support you, however, at this time we do not have any additional information outside of the posting below.

Ethiopia: Stakeholders, Public Has to End Foreign Adoption

The House of Peoples' Representatives and the Ministry of Women, Children and Youth urged stakeholders and the public to undertake integrated work to totally stop adoption of Ethiopian children by foreign families.
In a press conference, House Speaker Abadula Gemeda and the Minister Zenebu Tadesse told journalists that stakeholders should work closely to end foreign adoption.
Abadula urged the importance to give priority to use local means to raise orphaned children rather than giving them away to foreign families.
He suggested the importance to establish and support local NGOs which raise orphaned children with the close collaboration of the public.
He urged stakeholders and the public to support these initiatives and protect children from any kind of abuse.
The Minister Zenebu on her part said the government is working hard to end foreign adoption and facilitate situations to raise the children within their community.
Over 9,000 children were adopted by foreign families during the previous years, in a yearly basis, she said.
Through various activities carried out over the past years, number of children adopted by foreign families reduced to less than 1,000 in 2005EC.
She attributed the success to implementation of various laws and increasing knowledge of the public."
First of all let it be known that I fully support domestic adoptions within Ethiopia and any measures that they take to reform their adoption system to help children have a permanent, safe, loving home!  Our agency wholeheartedly agrees on this matter too!  We will only have an ethical adoption.  We believe that is possible in Ethiopia with our agency.  The parliament of Ethiopia is not pro-adoption, however, many other government branches are and it's a hot topic within the media in the country right now.
Since last friday we've only found out that they held an all day long conference with parliament, house of representatives, MOWCY (the portion of the govt. that processes adoptions), and many local orphanage and adoption agency directors to discuss adoptions in Ethiopia.  The end result was a research paper that is currently being translated for us.  Parliament will give official word (sometime, but we are hopeful for january 13) on whether or not they will sign a bill for the shutdown of international adoptions. 
I am a wreck, distracted, sick to my stomach, hoping, praying, clinging to God's promises, being held up by Jesus, and trusting in His creative plan for us and for Marlee.  I'm concerned for our adoption journey to an extent...we have been in this process a little over 3 years and I've become attached to the idea of Marlee coming from this country, but I know God would provide another avenue for us to adopt.  I'm mostly concerned about Ethiopia's children.  Would you join us in praying for the country to remain open, and for reform?  right now, Ethiopia's adoption system is in need of reform, but to close off adoptions altogether would devastate the orphan crisis that is in that country.  They are set up to be dependent on international adoption to care for these orphans, if that option is shut down they don't have any other options in place to care for them other than overcrowded orphanages.  I'll let you know when we hear of anything else.  Thank you for praying.