Thursday, April 24, 2014

A new kind of blog

I'm moving. This blog has been great to chronicle the process of adopting our kids. It will remain here, but if you'd like to read and interact with more of my current thoughts, head over to Adopted and Free.

Journey here. Conversation there.

Friday, June 7, 2013

A Book Review: Orphan Justice - How to Care for Orphans Beyond Adopting

A few months ago I was asked to read a book and review it on our blog. Seems lots of you out there are reading our story. Maybe it has even inspired you to look into adoption. (A few of our friends are waiting for referrals...) Some of you may read our blog and think, "That is so nice. Good for them." I have heard those words. Actually, adoption is not really nice. It's hard. And complicated. And our calling. It is what God exemplified for us through his Son, Jesus.  And when we see what he did for us and how he loves us, it is our response. Maybe you can't do it - adopt - for whatever reason. That is ok. It's good to know yourself and your limits. But after reading this book, I am more conviced than ever that you cannot sit on the sidelines. There are no more excuses. We have to care for orphans no matter what part of the caring we do. You don't have to adopt, but you can do something. Anyone can do something for orphans.

Here is the book:
Orphan Justice - How to Care for Orphans Beyond Adopting by Johnny Carr
I put this book down and felt empowered. Every time I read it. I felt empowered. I'm usually not a fan of non-fiction books that tell us about huge problems in the world. At the end of other books, I feel crummy. I feel the weight of a huge problem with no strength do much about it. But this book is different.

The orphan crisis is a reality. Upwards of 150 million kids will live their lives without God's design of a family unit to care for them. Many of these kids have living relatives, sometimes even a parent, but they are not living in the kind of family that God designed in his perfect plan.

International adoption is not the solution. We believe (as you can imagine and have seen) that adoption is part of the solution. However, there is no way that all 150 million kids will be able to be adopted. Many countries just don't have the infrastructure for that. Even in the US, there are three quarters of a million kids in foster care. We have to address the enormity and complexity of the orphan crisis with strategic, holistic and comprehensive solutions. And if we want to do this well and with all of our resources, we have to help everyone - EVERYONE - play a part and do something. To many, adoption is not an option. I understand that. I am ok with that. Johnny Carr goes to great lengths to go beyond adoption and help every person feel empowered to do something.
Here is the brilliance of this book: its structure. There are many contributing factors and complexities to the orphan crisis. He breaks them down, each into a chapter. At the end of each chapter he gives the reader concrete examples of what they can do in three different levels. ANYONE can... MANY can... A FEW can...
Carr has the background, experience, and knowledge to really lay these out well. As an adoptive parent, he gets the respect of the adoptive community. As someone who works alongside the church, we can see that he knows the Bride of Christ and its role. He is employed by one of the largest Adoption Service Providers in the U.S. This agency is well known and is involved in foster care, domestic adoption, and international adoption. He is the kind of expert we need writing this book.

I found his writing so very authentic. He knows the good, the bad, and the ugly. He is not sugar coating anything. He brings the reader to some of the hardest places to go, yet maintains the grace to keep the reader plowing through the tough stuff in order to get to the empowering advice.

This book is important to read, not just for the adoption community, but for every person who follows Christ. God deeply cares for the fatherless. If you follow Christ, your mandate is clear - love the fatherless. Have you ever wondered how in the world you can do that in a practical way? Johnny Carr's book, "Orphan Justice" can educate you on the situation and move you to action in an engaging way.

Orphan Justice: How to Care for Orphans Beyond Adopting from PMI on Vimeo.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013



Her name is Gadise. Guh-DEE-say. or God-EE-say. Emphasis on the second syllable. Hard to write out, but beautiful.

It means shelter or shade. Like when you are in the hot African sun and you just need a break from the heat, you find shelter under a tree.

We have been discussing her name for weeks now. We'd like to give her a first name and keep Gadise as her middle name. We did the same with Zain. We gave him Zain and his given name was Sato, so he is Zain Sato Olson.

For the first little bit that we are home, we will call her Gadise. She is a toddler - so different than the infant Zain was. So we will transition slowly. For now, we are just calling her Gadise until we find her name. 

Our case is still moving forward at the US Embassy in Addis Ababa. All is well. Just waiting for the call to go get our Gadise-girl!


Friday, May 24, 2013

Submitted to Embassy

Our case was submitted to the US Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia!

This means we are in the final stage and will hear next that we have to buy some plane tickets! We will have about 2-5 days to get on a plane and go get our girl!!!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Zain is three!

Zain turned three yesterday. We had a great day full of love and laughter. 

Was this seriously the same kid?!

We loved celebrating you, Zainers!

Monday, April 29, 2013


In May, Zain will turn 3 and Hoolet will turn 2. This will be Zain's last birthday as our only child. We never missed any of his birthdays (except the actual day he was born).

Hoolet will have two birthdays without us. It makes us sad to miss these days and eager to go back.

The days of two toddlers are close...

Sunday, April 21, 2013

She is ours!

We would like to introduce you to our daughter!

On April 19, 2013, she was officially declared ours by the Ethiopian government.

We hope to return to Ethiopia to bring her home sometime in May or June.

She is a joy!

There is so much to tell about our trip and about her. This may become rambling, but I would rather just get it out there!

After 22 hours of travel, we arrived in Ethiopia in the morning on the 16th. After a quick breakfast and showers, we got in a van to head to the House of Hope - the transition home where Hoolet was staying. We had butterflies of anticipation as we pulled up to the gate. (This is a different location than where we met Zain as the downsizing led to a move to a different neighborhood.) We were directed up to a family room with couches, a table, and rug specifically designed for American families to spend time with their new kids. We sat and waited for her to arrive.

They opened the door and Hermella brought her in. She was all done up in a cute outfit and headband. Necklace on her neck. A bit of fear came on her face. She looked sternly at Erik, then looked at me as I slowly approached with a big smile. She was not too keen on leaving Hermella's arms. We took it slow. We quickly realized how uncomfortable she was with the situation. Maybe if she was with her nanny and friends, she would do better. So we ventured up the stairs to her room. She allowed me to take her hand as we conquered the steps together. My heart was melting by the minute. After so many photos and so much anticipation, here we were, holding hands. 

The rest of the morning was spent learning about each other, figuring each other out. About an hour and a half in, she fell asleep on me. We had overwhelmed her. It was wonderful to wear a drool stain of honor on my shoulder and just be at peace together for over an hour.

Every adoption is different. We go through training to prepare for likely situations and sometimes the worst of situations are discussed. We've been preparing for years. Attachment does not happen instantly for most. Our experience with Zain was very different in many ways. Hoolet is almost two. She has experienced much more of life than Zain had. She has lived outside of the orphanage for over a year, she has lived in orphanages for almost a year. She has wounds and scars that we don't know yet. We want to parent her with as much sensitivity and grace as we can so that she will have the highest possibility of forming attachment and growing in confidence of us as her parents for life. 

She has had a hard time with Erik. All of her caregivers have been women. She has only known a handful of men. It is clear that she is apprehensive about any men being near her. She would always know where Erik was in the room and "keep an eye on him" as we played. She really didn't let him get close to her. Though it appeared she was rejecting him, we know that he just has to go a little slower with her. He continued to approach her and make attempts at connections with her consistently. We want her to know that he will never reject her no matter how she acts toward him.

Our days were filled with stacking cups, making jewelry, blowing bubbles, teaching four-square to the big kids, eating, sleeping, and holding. We were able to take a trip to the area she was born in Asella, about a four-hour drive outside of Addis. We grew more and more attached as the days went by. It was amazing how much we got to know our daughter in a matter of 21 hours of being with her over 3 days. By the end of our time, on the last day, I got kisses on the lips, heard her laugh in my arms as I tickled her, and watched her cry as we left. Erik had a chance to put her on his lap for a book reading which seemed to be uncomfortable to her, but worth it as she got to read. She even leaned in for a kiss and got within inches of his cheek before realizing, "Oh, wait, it's that guy," and pulling away.

On April 19, in the afternoon, we attended court. As we spoke with the judge, we finally heard the words we longed for: 

"This decision is final and permanent. She is all yours." 

There is much more to say about our sweet, precious girl. She is just right for our family and we cannot wait to go get her. I will post more tidbits later... for now, jet lag is setting in and I fear I may fall asleep on the computer. 

p.s. We are still working on naming her..................

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


What I'm reading:

Monday, April 1, 2013

Two weeks to Ethiopia

Two weeks until wheels up. We get on a short flight to Washington DC. Then a nonstop flight to our little girl! We arrive in the morning and will be able to meet her that day. Jet lag? What jet lag?!

Tons to do before then. But really, all we need are our passports and paperwork. All else is luxury. I'm counting down and the anticipation is much different than last time. I am excited and nervous. I don't want to leave Zain, but we are literally taking the shortest trip possible leaving Monday and returning Saturday midday.

What will she be like? We are so close to finding out!!!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Court Date!

Our court date is April 19!!!

We will fly out on the 14th to go to Ethiopia!

God is good !

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Passed our first court appointment!

Thanks for your thoughts and prayers! We were informed today that the piece of paperwork (Federal MOWYCA approval letter) was present and that the hearing went well! We will find out soon (probably within a week) when our court date is scheduled so that we can buy tickets to Ethiopia to meet our daughter!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Do not hug the judge

One of my favorite quotes from our court trip with Zain was the following advice given: "Do not hug the judge."

She sits there with tremendous power and your future in her hands. She says the words, "She is yours." And after years of paperwork and waiting, it is such the American (dare-I-say Christian?) response! I will practice containing myself.

But seriously, don't hug the judge.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Big things this week

There are some key prayer requests coming up soon. We wanted to invite you to join us in prayer for the following:

  • A judge will see the beginning of our case for the first time on Wednesday, March 20.
    • At that time, birth family will be required to stand before the judge. Please pray that the people who need to be at that court appointment travel there and are present. Pray for favorable results. Witnesses have already signed and law enforcement has already recorded circumstances, but this is the final stage of relinquishment and custody being handed over to us from their side.
    • At that court appointment, a significant piece of paperwork (the MOWCYA approval letter) needs to be present. This document's absence has delayed many cases over the years. Pray that our paper is there. Even today, pray that those who are preparing it have it ready for the judge.
  • Pray for our preparation as we get closer to having two toddlers. Zain is amazing and brilliant. He is excited to have a sister. We know that this will be a major transition for all four of us. Pray for Hoolet as she has been through a lot for a two-year-old and will be coming to America knowing almost no English and with parents who only know enough Amharic to get around a city and order a meal. (Though we are working hard on learning more!) It has been a bit taxing to "get ready" for so many unknowns.
After March 20th if our case passes this first court hearing, we will be notified of our court date and will be able to buy tickets to go to Ethiopia! We will be leaving Zain with "Laya and Bapa" (Bet's mom and dad). We will likely be in Ethiopia for just a few days to meet Hoolet and appear before a judge. If all goes well, that first trip will be in April sometime. After that, we will return home to wait for clearance from the US Embassy to go pick her up (we are hoping in May or June)!

Friday, March 8, 2013


We got a photo today. Out of the blue. And I feel like we got a giant step closer.

March 20 seems like forever away, but at least it is finally March.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Lifesong News

Faith. Family. Home. In caring for orphans, our hope is to instil faith, family and a sense of home
deep into the hearts of every child we are blessed to serve. Please enjoy this month's
Mission Moment highlighting the fruit of God's work through us.

Baptized in the Name of the ONE True God...

In a country where the worship of many gods is commonplace, lives of children are
being changed and transformed by the working of Jesus Christ, the ONE true God.
Lifesong India provides homes for almost 600 children who are all being exposed to
the gospel of our loving, merciful and kind Father God.

Baptism has always been a powerful symbol of Christianity. This symbol is
especially notable in this culture because through this outward testimony of
faith, children are publicly turning away from false gods to rely only on Jesus!
Witness the baptism of the girls from one of our homes below. Learn more about Lifesong India

"Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for
the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." Acts 2:38</ em> 

Building Children's Home in Guatemala

It's exciting to
see the progress of our new orphan care initiative in Guatemala. Construction has
started on the family homes that will one day invite orphans with special needs into
their doors to give faith, family and a future to children in need. Thanks to many of
you for your support in this exciting new project!

GUAT Progress
Please continue to pray for safety and wisdom as construction continues. Learn more about
Lifesong Guatemala: Village of Hope >>

Read more about Faith, Family & Home...

Orphans in Ukraine Find Forever Families -- Through
Adoption with Borders, like-minded families and churches in the
USA connect with Christian families in Ukraine who

are seeking to adopt.  Read Full Story

Planting Spiritual Seeds in Liberia -- Our aim is
to help children develop a personal relationship with the Lord and
to keep that relationship growing.  Read Full Story

Mehesh, A Life Changed -- "I don't want to think about
what my life would be like if I didn't have the opportunity to live at that
home (Chitty Memorial Home in Lifesong India)..." Read full