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I am so happy being married and living with my best friend. We adopted our first child, Ari, in 2011 through a domestic adoption and our second, Jude, in 2014.

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Thursday, March 17, 2016

Kibo Group ~ Uganda

Resurrecting the ye olde blog for two reasons. One, to give Clint Davis a hard time. He knows why. And two, as most people know, Mike and I recently spent the first two weeks of February in Uganda. It was a truly incredible experience for us. It has given me so many thoughts constantly swirling around in my heard and heart that I've just got to get out there. This may result in a few posts or just this one. But either way, here is this.

Going to Uganda was something that was five years in the making for us. Five years of us feeling pulled and connected to Africa. Five years of going through two failed adoptions from Africa. Five
years of crying, seeking, praying, and asking the Lord why we felt this connection to Africa. And then suddenly the steps aligned for us to go. We felt called to go and the opportunity was there. To say that I was emotionally charged about this trip would be a slight understatement.

On January 30th we left Oklahoma and began our journey. After two days of flights and travel we arrived in Entebbe, Uganda. We then loaded onto a bus to start the 60-mile drive to Jinja. This drive took five hours!

Most of the people in our group of eight slept off and on for the majority of the drive. I dozed for about 20 minutes, but other than that I was awake and looking out my window. I was enthralled with what I was seeing, but I also became overwhelmed. I started working through thoughts along the lines of, "Why does the US get to be one way with money/healthcare/convenience, but Africa the extreme opposite? Is there even any point in trying to change all of this? To what level do you try to change things? Does it help or does it hurt?" I was truly overwhelmed and intimidated by those thoughts.

Then we had our first 24-48 hours in Jinja. We spent time with the people working for the Kibo Group, we listened to their meetings, we went with them to the villages. My previous feelings of overwhelming intimidation quickly became replaced by the overwhelming evidence of the impact that Kibo is making.

The beginning of Kibo's existence was simply a thought that some friends had while climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. And now there's so much to it. The ripple effect is amazing.

In just the building where Kibo has their offices, there is also The Source Cafe, a library, a gift shop, and internet access. There's a church that meets there and other companies renting office space there. All of this is connected to Kibo, allows more people to hear about their work, and reaches out to the people of Jinja.

Then there's the daily work that Kibo is doing. They are transforming lives in the villages through their different programs of Water Source, Mvule Project, Women's Empowerment, and CLTS (read more about those here.) Kibo is teaching the people how to live healthier, safer, more efficient lives. They're not trying to unrealistically turn everything upside down, but are instead working with the villages where they're at and with what they have.

And if that weren't enough, they are also transforming lives on a personal and spiritual basis. Clint has shared a story he got to experience about a village where Christians and Muslims are coming together to better their village with mutual love and respect for each other. Really amazing stuff happening there because of Kibo's presence, patience, and love.

Mike and I got to spend time in a village that was building new stoves. The husband of the wife receiving the stove was notorious for drinking every day. He never missed the chance to go out drinking with his friends. However, this day was different. Kibo had been to his village in the past with their CLTS program, so when he knew they were coming again he stayed around. Not only did he stay around, but he told his friends they would have to wait or go drinking without him that day. Not only did he pass on drinking and stayed around, but he was actively involved the entire time with helping his wife build her new stove.

I don't say this lightly: Kibo is completely transforming lives in Uganda.

And then all of this...the stories, the experiences, the moments shared...they find their way to the US. Through that hearts are being touched and lives are being changed here. I can personally say that right now I'm not even close to being the same person that I was before going on this trip. And for all the people who may never see any of this first hand, but hear the stories, their lives are still being touched and affected.

All of this, and so much more, came from some guys climbing a mountain and saying, "What if?" It started so small, but the ripple effect that Kibo has in God's kingdom work is simply amazing. And I know it's only going to continue to grow.

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If you don't know anything about Kibo Group, please take the time to learn about them here and follow their posts on Facebook here. You will love what they have to share!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

When God Opens a Door...

When God opens a door and you don't walk through it…He just might open up every window in the house.

As most people know, we have a great relationship with Jude's birth mom. We have a fully open adoption there with direct and continuos communication amongst all parties. She was even involved with his first birthday party and it was a fabulous, comfortable, and perfect time.

Ari's adoption was setup as semi-open. We would send pictures and letters to the adoption agency and they would send them on to her. However, we were told she hadn't asked for any after he was about 6 months old, so that "relationship" pretty much stopped there. We have known that we live in the same town as her, so I'd always wondered if we might run into her, but it never happened.

Not until, that is, the day after Jude's birthday party. It was a Sunday afternoon and we headed to lunch with a group of people after church. As we got into the restaurant and settled, I immediately noticed her. B (what I call her on here) was there with her family, finishing up eating. I froze. Heart pounding in my chest. In 3 1/2 years I'd always imagined that I had seen her around town, but, of course, it was never her. But this time it actually was.

She looked at me. She looked at my mom. She looked at Ari. I just knew that she knew. And she seemed to look just as panicked as I felt. But then her and everyone she was with left within 5 minutes of us being there.

My heart was still pounding for quite awhile after the short "encounter". I just couldn't believe that I had actually seen her for the first time since Ari was born. And then I couldn't get out of my head the stark difference between the two days we'd just had…Saturday was a joyous celebration for Jude with his birth mom completely involved. Then the very next day we see Ari's birth mom and I just freeze. I started to hate that I didn't speak to her. I kept telling Mike that I just wanted to be able to say to her, "Look at him. Isn't he gorgeous??" I can't forget that brief moment and how I now longed to have spoken to her.

Now let's fast forward three months to last night. It's Tulsa Workshop time here, so we first had our annual meal time with some of our favorite people and one of the speakers in town, Josh Graves. At one point I had to step away to actually take a phone call with our attorney about Jude's adoption. While I was doing that, Mike began talking to Josh about adoption and actually told him the story I just told here. Later that night, after the assembly was over, Mike was talking to a friend of his who was curious about open/closed adoptions and again, told the same story to him.

Afterwards, a group of our, again, favorite people decided to go out for some pie. There was a big discussion about if we'd even do it, where to do it, etc. But everyone finally decided they were in, much against my will. I didn't want to go. I was tired, it was late, the kids were tired…blah, blah, blah. But still, we went.

There were about 14 of us total, so we were split up between two tables. I was sitting with two of my best friends and all the kids, and Mike was at a different table with most of the adults. After being there a few minutes Mike suddenly started walking towards me with his eyes as wide as could be. He then sat next to me and whispered in my ear, "I think Ari's birth mom is here. I think I see B." WHAT?!? I thought he was crazy. I waited a few minutes until I could see her from where I was and sure enough…oh.my.gosh. It was her. She was there.

I watched her for a few minutes. She scanned our big group a lot, but her eyes kept going back to Ari. She was watching him, smiling at him, laughing at him. Again, I just knew that she had to know. I decided I had to talk to her. I mean, in 3 1/2 years, we have lived in the same town as B and never seen her. But then, after developing a fabulous relationship with Jude's birth mom, we are in the same place as her twice within 3 months. I knew I had to talk to her. I knew God had orchestrated this moment for us to be exactly there.

So I did it. I walked up to her and simply said, "Hey, do you know me?" She just looked at me for a moment and I said, "You're B. And we adopted Ari."

Then she gasped. You guys, she outright gasped as tears filled her eyes. She said, "Oh my goodness, I was wondering! I was wondering why I felt so connected to him. I just couldn't take my eyes off of him."

And then I got to say it. I said, "Isn't he gorgeous??" I asked her if she wanted to meet him, which was, of course, a yes. So I called Ari over and got to introduce him to B. Oh my, what a special moment.

She was in so much shock that it really was him and us, just like she was imagining. She asked, "How did you know it was me??" I promised her that I've never forgotten her face. I told her that Ari knows he's adopted, that we talk about her in our house, and that she is very important and special to our family.

The rest of our time there was spent with her continuing to watch and smile at him, several of our friends and family speaking to B and hugging her, and us getting to talk to her some more. We exchanged information so that we could send pictures to her directly and had several more hugs.

She thanked us for saying something. Said it had made her night and that she had been really thinking about him lately. I don't think I have ever felt more strongly that I was in the exact place, at the exact time, that God wanted me to be.

I don't know where all of this goes from here. That may be it or it may be an opportunity for something more to grow. Please pray regardless that we are open to what God wants from us. And praise Him for putting together that night so perfectly and beautifully.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

To Congo or Not to Congo

That is the question. The question that runs through my head over and over again all day long.

International adoption in DRC is very messy right now. The DGM there issues Exit Letters. An adopted child cannot leave the country without receiving an exit letter. However, in September 2013 the DGM completely shut down. This happened soon after a lot of articles came out about internationally adopted children being abused and rehomed. I don't think the DGM has ever issued an official statement about why they have closed, but this is believed to be the reason.

At first it was said they would be closed for up to 6 months. No one ever imagined it would take the full 6 months for them to open again. However, it has now been 7 months and there is no end in sight. We could start the process of an adoption there...get a referral, go through court in DRC, receive visas, etc. But could we ever bring the child home? Not sure. There are actually over 100 legally adopted children stuck in the DRC right now.

We're getting to the point where our home study is about to expire, so we have to decide if we want to renew it or not. I have researched adoption for just about every other African country out there and everything seems to be a shut door. Either we don't meet the age requirements for the country or they're in the same "messy" state as DRC and it is advised to not start an adoption there.

I emailed with one of our agency workers looking for advice. She said that DRC adoptions are very risky right now. But one silver lining/thread of hope we were holding onto was that a delegation from DRC was scheduled to come to the US from April 16-26 to meet with the Department of State. Everyone was really hoping there would be more information available after that meeting. Many families who have completed DRC adoptions were even going to travel to DC at this time to show how their Congolese children are safe, healthy, and thriving. However, yesterday the Congolese authorities announced that they would no longer be traveling to the US as planned.

So that pretty much crushed my spirit and blew away any hope I had left about us starting an adoption in DRC. We still have one potential lead with another country that we're looking into. But if that doesn't pan out, I think the idea of us going through an African adoption right now is done.

It hurts me so much to even think about that. Africa is heavy on our hearts. We can't imagine not doing an African adoption. I still collect African things while dreaming of creating a nursery for my girl. The other day Ari and Jude were both in my lap and Ari was playing with my necklace which has a charm on it with a picture of Africa. He picked up that charm and said, "See Jude, that's baby sister." Tears formed in my eyes immediately. We all dream of our baby sister from Africa.

I do believe that God blessed us greatly with the timing of Jude's adoption. I just know all this news and delay with African adoptions would be so much harder to take if Ari was the only child in our life. Jude came to us at the absolute perfect time. That blessing overwhelms me.

But there's Africa...still on my heart and mind every day. Please pray for us as we try to make the decision about what the future holds for our family there. Please also keep in your prayers the children and families affected by this exit letter shutdown. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

And Baby Makes Four

Since our sweet Jude Bug is almost 4 months old, I thought it might actually be time to update this blog about him. haha!

So yes, “baby brother” was born December 12th, named Jude, and is the sweetest blessing to our family.

We arrived at the hospital around 6:00pm on December 11th. However, he was a stubborn little boy and quite comfy in the first home his birth mom created for him, so he wasn’t born until almost 12 hours later at 5:23am. We stayed in the tiny labor and deliver waiting room the whole time. And even stayed awake the whole time because he really continually kept us thinking it would be “any minute now.”

We waited together with birth mom’s family in the waiting room. I waited some with her in the delivery room. We were all in constant texting communication with each other. We met Jude for the first time right next to her. I gave him his first bottle with us all in the room together. Over the next 24-ish hours after delivery and before discharge, we had rooms next to each other and visited often. It was such a tremendous blessing to share those moments, and Jude, during that time. I will never forget it.

Before she was discharged she came to our room to say goodbye. She was crying, I was crying, I think we were all a mess. There are just no words to describe what I felt at that moment and what all was happening. Some family members were in our room at the time and one of them said that seeing that moment, he felt and knew he was standing on holy ground. I’m bawling my eyes out just typing this. It was just very special and still leaves me pretty speechless.

We feel incredibly blessed to have these sweet boys in our lives. I was just telling Mike yesterday that it’s pretty amazing that we’ve had two successful adoptions in two years. I’m not really sure how many people can say that. Adoption can be expensive, stressful, lengthy, complicated, and unsuccessful. But here we are with two boys, within two years, through two pretty easy adoptions. We are truly and abundantly blessed.

(And now get ready for picture overload.) ;)

Sweet coffee cups my mom brought us.

Sleepy, but excited, eyes around 4:00am.

Ari meeting Jude for the first time.

My sweet boys!

First family picture! This was when we had been awake for about 32 hours, so please excuse the haggard look. ;)

Headed home!

Sweet newborn picture in his superhero nursery.
© Jenny White Photography

And a recent picture of my precious boys for Valentines Day.
© Jenny White Photography

Sunday, October 6, 2013


About three weeks ago Mike and I went to the USCIS office in Oklahoma City to have our fingerprints done. This completed the process of filing our I-600A, the first big piece of government paperwork for international adoption. We were silly and giddy the whole time and just really excited about being one step closer to our girl.

A few days ago we received our I-600A approval in the mail. This means that we are now approved by the US government to adopt a child from a foreign country and bring them back here to the states. It also means that we are now able to be matched with a child through our agency. Such a big and exciting step! However, we are asking our agency to hold off on giving us a referral right now and here's why...

About six months ago someone contacted me and let me know that they were pregnant and looking to place their child for adoption. Now, let me tell you this...I, obviously, have a passion for adoption, but I also have a passion for birth moms. I love and respect them so much. So I was really excited to talk with her and give her any of my advice and support I could offer.

Over the months one thing kind of led to another aaand...she has chosen us to be the adoptive parents to her baby! So yes, we are now on plan to adopt a baby boy here in the states in early December. The due date is a little less than 10 weeks away. We are shocked, thrilled, honored, and excited. And I mean seriously, talk about an honor. I never expected this when she and I first started talking, so what an honor that she wants us to be this part of the process and journey now. And though I'm sure Ari isn't quite sure what it all means, he absolutely loves talking about his "baby brother" to come!

So the million dollar question is, "What about Africa now??"

I wish I had a solid answer I could give you. All I have is our thoughts and plans for this moment and here they are: We still have a passion for Africa and Congo. We still believe strongly that our daughter may be in Congo. So we are not closing out our international adoption process. We are still keeping everything current with our Congo agency, but just asking that they hold off on giving us a match/referral right now. We are doing this to simply give ourselves some time to adjust to having a two year-old and a newborn. Because heaven knows, that's going to be an adjustment!

How long will we be asking them to wait on giving us a referral after the baby is born? 2 months, 6 months, 1 year? I don't know. We're just going to wait and see how things feel once "baby brother" is with us and then take things from there.

For a personality like mine, that's difficult to do. I like rules, structures, and timelines. So this is certainly giving me an opportunity to put more faith in God and His plans for my family. I wish I knew exactly what was going to happen, but I never saw this coming in our path and wow, what a blessing it is!

So our faith and family is in God's hands and we will just take it all one day at a time.

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus' name.
On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand; all other ground is sinking sand.

Sunday, June 23, 2013


It has been a crazy two weeks for our family. The quick run down is Ari got tubes put in his ears, we had our carpets cleaned, Mike and I celebrated five years of marriage, we celebrated Fathers Day, we had our home study, we had to travel to OKC for an adoption orientation, and then we had a two day garage sale. Phew! I'm exhausted. But it feels SO good to have all of that done. Definitely a big step forward in progress.

Our home study visit went great. It's always a nerve racking experience leading up to it, but things are just fine once all is said and done. I was pretty nervous about having a home study with a toddler in the house this time, but he did really well, even though he woke up sick that morning.

Our garage sale fundraiser went great! We raised $887 from it! Some people were very generous with donations and some people still wanted everything for a quarter. haha! But we still came out very well. Three moments during our garage sale really touched me... First, a man who owns a used bookstore close to us stopped by. He paid way more than my suggested price for our books and then paid $10 more on top of that. Second, an Ethiopian woman came to our garage sale (we advertised everywhere that this sale was for our adoption from Africa) and she paid four times my suggested price on something. She asked where we were adopting from and when I told her Congo she said she was hoping it was Ethiopia, but she was still happy about that since they're neighbors. :) And third, we posted an advertisement picture for our garage sale on Facebook and asked everyone to share it on their pages. 75 different people shared it! That's a huge blessing on its own. But then a man we don't even know and lives in a different city saw the picture and mailed us a check.

I said this on my Facebook page, but there are so many times that adoption leaves me breathless and speechless. We are SO blessed!

And as a puzzle update, we have sold 9 more pieces! We're almost to 50 sold total. 954 more to go!

How to Donate: We are selling the puzzle pieces for $10 each. If you can, please donate money in-person or by mail. If that's not possible, you can click on the "Donate" button on the right sidebar under "Adoption Donations" to send money via PayPal. Please add your name(s) in the special note to sellers. Thank you!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

A Few Updates

Doing a weekly puzzle fundraiser update has proven to be pretty much impossible with having a toddler in the house. That's been made kind of obvious since the last update about this was a month ago. But here's a new one for you!

We have sold 17 more pieces. That puts us at 37 pieces sold total, so only 963 more to go! And, as you can see from the fundraising thermometer on the left, if/when we finish this puzzle we will already have over half of our funds together! This is very, very exciting for us. So spread the word!

I love my late night evenings of working on the puzzle with this guy.

We almost have two whole sides done!

How to Donate: We are selling the puzzle pieces for $10 each. If you can, please donate money in-person or by mail. If that's not possible, you can click on the "Donate" button on the right sidebar under "Adoption Donations" to send money via PayPal. Please add your name(s) in the special note to sellers. Thank you!

Another fundraiser that happened in the last few weeks was Congo prayer bracelets. A very sweet friend asked if she could make and sell these for us. We, of course, said yes! And they have done very well. It's such a cool thought to think of so many friends, family, and people we don't even know wearing these.

And for my last update, we finally have our home study scheduled!! I never would have thought it'd take this long to get the initial paperwork processed and the visit scheduled, but now it's only two and half weeks away! After our home study is done and we have the official report, we will file what is called our I-600A with the USCIS. Hopefully just a few weeks after that we will have our fingerprints done at the USCIS office and then we are able to accept a referral! It could be months and months before we actually receive a referral, but it will still be very exciting to be in the phase of being able to accept one. Love seeing some progress be made in this long process.