Thursday, December 29, 2011

And "she's" off.......

We received word this morning that our dossier is on its way to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Expected delivery: January 3, 2012

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Timeline of events thus far...dossier tracker

Okay, I know I posted for the first time yesterday and now here I am posting again when I should be working, but I promised to keep you updated on things. Here is a timeline of where we are on our dossier, and to make this seem a bit more personal, I am renaming the dossier and giving it a good, female Ethiopian name which is Abeba (pronounced ah Beh bah), which means flower:
  • Saturday, Nov. 26 - sent Abeba to Lifeline Adoptions in Louisville via Fedex
  • Monday, Nov. 28 - Abeba was received in Louisville by Lifeline
  • Wednesday, Nov. 30 - Abeba left Louisville bound for St. George, Utah (U.S. home of West Sands which the in-country adoption rep in Ethiopia)
  • Thursday, Dec. 1 - Abeba arrived in Utah. While there, she went from the office of West Sands to the State of Utah offices for authentication (meaning they check all of our information and confirm we exist).
  • Tuesday, Dec. 20 - Abeba left Utah bound for Washington DC. While there she traveled with a courier called "Caring Hands" that personally babysat her on her trip to the U.S. State Department for authentication and to the Ethiopian Embassy for authentication.
  • Tuesday, Dec. 27 - Abeba left Washington DC bound for St. George, Utah to the offices of West Sands. As of right now, she is sitting on Angela's desk at West Sands awaiting her long trip via Fedex to Ethiopia to the West Sands offices there.

That is all we have at this moment. Make sure and pray for Abeba, for safe travel and for a quick, trouble-free trip into the hands of the Ethiopian government...thanks so much and God bless.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

An Update from Jeff this time...

This update is being provided by Jeff (instead of Kelley, who normally writes these and is much more accomplished at this than I am) so here goes.

The past few months have seemed like an absolute whirlwind journey. I recall back in September when Kelley began pelting me at work with things to print off, fill out, look into, scan and email to people, or proof-read and get back to her about. I also remember her asking me to fill out my testimony as to why I believed we should adopt. That part took some time and soul searching but Kelley and I both arrived at the same place in that we believe this is something quite simply that God would have us do. We don’t expect it to be easy; we don’t expect it to be popular with everyone; we expect that our lives will change dramatically the first months when she is home and it will likely take a number of months of basically dropping out of society while we try desperately to connect and repair the damage caused by life in an orphanage. We believe that we are ready for all of this but I am sure that we will realize we likely aren’t fully prepared for what will happen. We will have to place our faith and trust in Christ to carry us through as He has done thus far in our lives.

When we first began this journey, I wanted some sort of visual reminder that I could look at every day to remind me of the things that are important. I wasn’t sure what it should be and I didn’t want it to necessarily be a discussion starter; just something between me, God and a little girl that He has chosen to be mine. With my job being what it is, I often face moments during the day that stretch my grip on the important things; I find myself speaking in ways that I am not proud of; thinking things that I shouldn’t; and contemplating/worrying about things that I shouldn’t. Having this little reminder has been a great thing. It is pictured here to the left. It is of a little orphan Ethiopian girl whom I guessed to be close to the age we will be adopting, she has her hair up in little bows, she is holding two little dolls and she has to darkest eyes I have ever seen. When I first saw it, her eyes seems to say to me "I am holding on, but don't waste time." I keep it in my Daytimer so I see it daily and it is a constant reminder of what is really important in life.

Kelley and I have an ongoing debate over how long this process will take. I (being the constant optimist that I am) have the following timeline in mind:

  • Dossier to leave Washington DC in early January and be translated into Amharic for use by the Ethiopian-based group named West Sands.
  • We would then have a referral in hand sometime in the February/March time-frame
  • After referral, we would get a court date in the May/June time-frame;
  • After our initial court date, and considering the rainy season in Ethiopia from mid-June to mid-September, we would hopefully have her home in late September.

Kelley on the other hand (not as optimistic as me) has our referral occurring sometime between April and June, court date in September to October and have her home 4 to 8 weeks later...see, I told you that is really pessimistic. I guess she would prefer to be pleasantly surprised and have our daughter home earlier than expected versus my approach which is to pray for her to be home really soon, even at the risk of being disappointed. That is what makes our home stay balanced.

Lastly, and I have shared this with others, I was not prepared for the realization that God already has us a daughter picked out. She is alive and is likely in an orphanage in Ethiopia. That is extremely exciting and amazing to me. But then the paternal part of me kicks in and I begin wondering to myself "is she cold?" "is someone mistreating her?" "Is she hungry? dry? warm? does she have on clean clothes?" "does she have shoes on her little feet?" It is then that I am overcome with grief and guilt because we have been given so much and want for so little and yet there is a little girl in Ethiopia who doesn't have those things and she doesn't even realize it. Also, I feel extremely guilty and selfish for all these years that God has been wanting us to adopt and was filling my wife's heart with that burden and I selfishly said no, for no good reason. I would encourage you (since you have made it this far in this post) to ask yourself a couple of questions that have been haunting me since September:

  • Why is God blessing you the way He is? Is it because there is something special about you? Is it because you are such a good steward of His blessings and you share them with others? Is it because He wants to grant you the American dream so you can retire early to a condo in Florida so you can golf and enjoy the beach whenever you want? Is it so you can have the big house and nice cars so others can watch you pass by and say something like "there goes that guy or girl that must be doing something right because God is really blessing him/her?" Let me let you in on a little secret: there is nothing special about you...The only thing that is possibly special about you is whether you have a relationship with all that is special in this world which is Jesus Christ. That relationship won't cause blessings to flow your way per se. It won't hinder them either per se. The only reason why God blesses people is because He chooses to and He can choose. It is because He is special; not because of you or anything you do, have done or will do.
  • Why were you born in America and not Ethiopia or Uganda or some other country? Is it because you are special (see first bullet above this one)? Is it because God didn't think you could handle it? What if it was because of God's plan to give a certain amount of blessings to some and a smaller or larger amount to others so that BOTH would appreciate HIM? For the one who has little, rather than feeling sorry for themselves and worrying about what they don't have, they praise God for His blessings and also praise Him when someone (maybe you) give them something in His name. Or on the other hand, for the one who has been given much, rather than building idols to yourself and standing with your head high and your chest stuck out, you instead are seen with your head bowed and your knee bent as you praise God from whom all blessings flow and you make it your life's work to give away all that He has blessed you with to the ones that need it most. What if you made it your calling to be a conduit of blessings (a constant flow) rather than a faucet of blessings (which is an intermittent flow for the times the urge hits you).
Does that sound like a crazy bunch of stuff or what? Do you think that is a plan that includes you? Do you see yourself in either of those two bullet points? Does your life fit in there anywhere? If it does, let me encourage you not to waste your life figuring out how to get your share of the American dream and instead focus on where you are, who you are there with and who needs to be blessed today just because God blessed you, not because you are a nice person or because you want the world to know. Don't waste 10 years on a selfish trip that leaves you feeling guilty and wondering about what could have been. Luke 12:15 says "And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

We will continue to keep you posted on how things go and who is closer to right in terms of the timeline for our adoption. You are free to comment here as to who you think is MOST right...take care and God bless...

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Our 2011 Christmas Letter

Following is the letter that we sent out, with our Christmas cards, to friends and family. I thought it would be a good idea to post it here for the sake of journaling; so that we can remember and so that our little girl someday will be able to look back at our journey to her.

As an update....our dossier (last we knew) was in Washington, DC. Hopefully, if it hasn't already, it will be Ethiopia-bound in the next day or so.

Greetings Friends and Family,

It’s been a while since I’ve been one of those people…you know, the ones who send a cheesy Christmas letter.

Graduations & travel were high on the list in 2011. Collectively, we earned two diplomas and covered a lot of territory in 2011.

Braeden is currently an 8th grader at Sunset Middle; he continues to play his guitar & play it well. He’s adjusting to being the only child at home (it does have its perks, you know). He spent a week at Student Life Camp at Orange Beach & a week this fall on a Disney cruise with family friends.

Jordan graduated from High School in May &, before long, we found ourselves packing him up & moving him to Jackson, TN where he attends Union University. He is majoring in Biblical Studies/Theology (with a minor in Philosophy) & has transitioned well to college life. He also attended Student Life Camp at Orange Beach. In May, he was part of a 20-member team from our church who partnered with Casas Por Cristo in Juarez, Mexico to build a house for a needy family. Before school started in August, he and Jeff took a little father/son graduation trip to Washington, DC as well.

Kelley (that’s me) continues to enjoy her dream job of staying at home where I’m available to drive the taxi, participate in weekly Bible studies, spend time with friends and family, take advantage of volunteer opportunities, shop a little and, lately, work on an enormous amount of paperwork (details later). In July, I traveled with Ordinary Hero to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It was 10 days that forever changed my heart.

Jeff continues to work for O’Charleys, Inc. where he has been for 10 years. He graduated from Vanderbilt University’s MBA program in July and we are so glad to have him back in our fold after 2 years of hard, hard, hard work and dedication. Jeff traveled with his MBA team in April to Hungary and Turkey and then, with Jordan, to DC. We’ve all also enjoyed a couple of weekend trips to Jackson for UU events.

2012 will bring changes to our family as well as we have begun the process to adopt internationally (thus the paperwork discussed above). In case you’re thinking we’re crazy, we are. And if you’re thinking we’re too old for this, we are. But, with God all things are possible. And it was He who laid this on our hearts. We have seen the need; we have been made aware of the crisis that is the orphan and we have chosen to step out in faith and obedience to be His hands and feet. He has blessed us too much not to.

Next year, our picture will be different; our letter (if we have the energy to write it) will include tales of how we’ve been changed by the love of a little girl who will make her way from Ethiopia right into our hearts in Tennessee. We thank you, in advance, for your prayers for this journey to her. We invite you to follow along on our blog (

Much love from the Williams Family……….Jeff, Kelley, Jordan and Braeden

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Baby Steps

Edited to add: As it turns out, our dossier was NOT delivered on Monday; however, it was signed for TODAY (Wednesday, 12/21/11) in DC. I misunderstood some earlier communication. Things took longer in Utah than I was expecting but, hopefully, it's smooth (and quick) sailing to its final destination. Fingers crossed.

- Our dossier was delivered to a courier in Washington, DC yesterday. This courier will hand-deliver it to the US Embassy and the Ethiopia Embassy for authentication before forwarding it on to Addis Ababa.

- Jeff and I received our biometrics (fingerprint) appointments from the Department of Homeland Security. Our appointments are for January 11, 2012 at 10:00 am. We hear that you don't actually have to wait for your appointment day/time (this varies, I think, depending on where you are but, locally, I've been told that you can just show up once you have your paperwork) so once Jordan's paperwork arrives (since he's 18, he has to participate in this as well), we may go ahead and make our way over and check this off of our list.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Little Things....Big Impact

You know, already in this process, there have been comments made/things said that reveal the negative in the hearts of some people. Racism. Skepticism. Basic misunderstanding. Little things....big impact.

But, mostly, what has been revealed to us is the scope of love that dwells in each of us. This happens sometimes in ways unexpected. Little things.....big impact.

Without going into a lot of detail, several years ago, the church we were married in and spent many years serving in, underwent what I can only classify as an ugly split. And, since that time, meetings between those of us who left and those that stayed have been, well, weird. And, let's face it, no one likes weird? Little things....big impact.

Several weeks ago, an individual whose family we love but who we have had little contact with since the split, contacted me and offered to host a Thirty-One party as a fundraiser for our adoption. Little things.....big impact.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not implying that her offer is a "little" thing; it's definitely not. I'm just saying that a little goes a long way when it comes to showing someone God's love.

Melody, again, your offer to support our adoption made a HUGE impact on our hearts.

And, now, for a shameless plug.....if you'd like to order something great from Thirty-One, hop on over to Melody's page and place an order. She is donating her commission to our adoption fund (melt my heart). Act fast because we will be closing the party on Sunday (12/11) in order for all items to be received in time for Christmas.

And, lastly, this season (and always) don't forget to do a little thing for someone you love. I promise you, it will make a big impact.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

I600A - More Adoption Talk

One of the last paperwork steps (aside from the dossier) was to send our I600A off to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Our sweet Social Worker, on her way out of town to celebrate Thanksgiving, dropped our completed home study packets in the mail to us so that we could get things moving. I might have bugged her a bit. She mailed these to us on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving (11/23); we FedEx'ed (sorry Chris) our dossier on Saturday (11/26th...only because no one would have been available to sign for it before Monday, the 28th...see "dah-see-ay" post below). On Monday, (11/28), I completed all of the copies, etc. that had to accompany the I600A (copies of birth certificates; marriage license; original, notarized copy of home study; check for $975.00) and sent it on its way.

What IS the I600A anyway? Technically, it is the "Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition". And according to the USCIS site, it's purpose is:

For adjudicating the qualifications of the applicant(s) as prospective adoptive parents. Filing this form will generally speed up the part of the process relating to the qualifications of the prospective adoptive parent petitioners.

Basically, what's happening with this form is that the US is approving us to bring an orphan into the United States.

Soon (hopefully), as a result of this I600A filing, we will receive fingerprinting appointments.

Will keep you posted.......

As One Journey Ends......

It seemed only appropriate as we mailed our dossier last week that, as our journey officially began, that of our friends Chris and Valerie came to a sweet end (or in some ways, the true beginning but, for the purposes of this post, an end). As we were letting go of our paperwork, they were in Ethiopia to travel home with their girls, Hana and Abekeya.

The Hulshof family is near and dear to our hearts (we are friends and we are neighbors; we are church family) and we have watched them travel this adoption road over the past year.

What a Thanksgiving blessing they received when they left the day after to travel as a family to Ethiopia to bring those sweet girls home.

And we were/are overwhelmingly humbled to have been able to meet them at the airport when they arrived home. We look forward to loving these girls along with the rest of the family (which we're already more than just a little fond of..;) and are so thankful that our Ethiopian little one will have friends from her native country in her life in this way.

Welcome Home Hulshof 8....we love you!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Shop With Purpose

If you've visited here much, you know that "Ordinary Hero" is a ministry near and dear to my heart.

Which makes it only natural that we would partner with them to fundraise for our adoption. Kelly Putty has a great thing going over at OH....helping on so many different levels. OH ministers both locally and globally, encouraging each of us to "change the world for one".

Ordinary Hero offers adopting families and individuals going on mission trips to fundraise through their online store. Many of you made purchases last year to help me fund my trip and now you have the opportunity to shop many new OH items to benefit our adoption. 40% of everything that you purchase will be returned to us in the form of a commission check made payable to our agency.

There are a wide variety of items available; many added new today. I'm thinking if you went over to and you had your Christmas list handy, you could check a few things off of that list. In fact, if you happen to draw my name, my wish list includes a cute key fob, a camera strap and an acrylic tumbler (with straw). ;). AND....40% would go toward our adoption.

One of the neatest things over at the OH store is the opportunity to purchase items which will be donated to children/people in Ethiopia....a donkey for the women on Entoto Mountain, to help carry their loads; a sheep which will feed 40 children (like these that we picked up in Addis Ababa and fed to the children of Korah). Your money is put to work well when you make these purchases.....donations for the people of Ethiopia and 40% of the purchase price toward the $30,000.00 costs of bringing our little girl home.

Last but not least, from today through midnight on the 11th there is a grant contest going on. Ordinary Hero will give $500.00 each to the top three sellers during this period of time.

Head on over to the ORDINARY HERO STORE and see what you can find. Don't order for us to receive credit for you purchase, you must choose "kelley williams" from the drop-down affiliate menu.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


According to dictionary dot com........
DOSSIER - noun - a collection or file of documents on the same subject; especially a complete file containing detailed information about a person or topic.

Sometimes it seems that adoption people speak their own language. Adoptionese maybe.

Today, I thought I'd share with you a little of that adoptionese:


It's a funny thing, really. We have labored hard over that set of papers. Papers that started out with a simple two-page adoption agency application. From there, we applied for a home study. We filled out more agency forms. We completed educational requirements. We have written our testimonies; we have drawn our family trees. We've had meetings with guidance counselors and doctors appointments. We even proved that the dogs are up to date on their shots. People have written letters on our behalf and we have had more things notarized than I care to count.

When we began getting close, we set a goal to have the dossier (the final set of documents....the set that will represent us in Ethiopia) out of our hands by Thanksgiving. It didn't quite happen that way but, just the same, our agency will have it in their hands by 10:30 a.m. on Monday morning.

And as much as we have wanted it gone; as much as we have wished this part was behind us, letting go of it was hard. And wonderful all at the same time.

What happens next you ask? The dossier goes to our agency in Louisville, KY. It then goes to West Sands Adoption (our referring agency....coming up soon: "What's a referral?") in Utah; while in Utah it is authenticated by the state of Utah. Next it goes to a courier in Washington DC who hand-delivers it for US authentication before heading to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for translation and processing.

Thank you for saying a little prayer for our dossier and the little girl who, ultimately, will join our family as a result of it. Praise God for the lives of our family who have already been changed by it.

P.S. I am unable to rearrange the pictures at the top of this post which, actually, is another little side story to our dossier's departure......

My laptop is having issues so, before we found a Fed/Ex Kinko's location, we had to go to MacAuthority to see about having my computer fixed. Since we were in that area of town, Jeff put "FedEx/Kinkos" in his GPS and it referred us to the closest one; a location on Broadway in downtown Nashville. A location, mind you, that we would have never chosen on our own. We entered this location to find Ellen (pictured above), who was so helpful and kind to us. Turns out, Ellen is from Africa. Ghana to be exact....what are the chances?

There are several little things like this that have happened throughout this process. The graphic designer that produced our shirt images.....he's adopted. The screen printer who is printing them....he's adopting.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sealed the Deal

I definitely wouldn't say that my trip to Ethiopia with Ordinary Hero was THE reason that we are now pursuing adoption. However, it was definitely paramount in sealing the deal as far as where we would adopt from. The love that I have for this little country is beyond what I can even put into words and I can hardly wait to share it with Jeff and the boys.

I wanted to share this video from my trip (I even make an appearance). One of the sweetest moments of our entire 10 days was being able to reveal to the young boy at the end of the video that he had been chosen and that he would soon have a family of his own. Please pray for him and his family; they have passed court and are awaiting clearance for travel.

Enjoy (but scroll to the bottom first and pause the music on my playlist).......

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Somewhere In Africa

There came a time in this process that we realized something.

Because of the age of child we will be adopting (3-5 years old), it came to mind one day that somewhere in Africa, we have a daughter. She's not not yet conceived. She's not waiting to be born. She is alive and she is somewhere in Ethiopia. We don't know if she's cold, if she's hungry, if she's hurting or loved. And that's hard. It makes things very real and very personal. It makes me look at every little girl (red or yellow, black or white) about that age and wonder.

And when I wonder, I'm often reminded of my own words to my friend Valerie (when she was wondering and worrying about her own little girls in Ethiopia). I told her one day, "as much as YOU love those little girls, HE loves them more". It sounded good at the time and I know that it's true but it sure takes on different meaning now.

Our paperwork is almost done. We have one online seminar to complete and two documents that we should have in our hands in the next day or two. Those two papers will complete our dossier and then it will leave our hands; bound for Ethiopia. Where our daughter is.

People sometimes wonder, "why Ethiopia"? And I could go on and on about why but, mostly, it's where God told us our daughter was/is. And He loves her more than we do. He knows her name and how many curly little hairs she has on her head.

EDITED TO ADD: By the way, He knows and loves Valerie (and Chris)'s girls too. And it seems that He may be arranging for them to be home for Thanksgiving (when we all thought it was a stretch that they'd be home for Christmas). Keep them in your prayers as they hear later this week if/when they are cleared for travel.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Fundraising Spotlight

God has such a way of placing just the right people in your life at just the right times. One of the many ways that He goes about accomplishing his purposes in our lives.

If you have talked to or followed me at all since July, it is no surprise to you that my life was "completely screwed up", as my husband says (and he means that in a good way), in and through my trip to Ethiopia. I haven't and will never be the same (Praise the Lord!). Aside from the obvious things of breaking my heart for what breaks His; aside from allowing me to love because He first loved me in a new and different way, in a new and different place, that trip also gave me the opportunity to meet some great new friends. People who have a similar heart for the orphan (and for Ethiopia) and several who God used to confirm what He was speaking directly into my/our heart(s).

I treasure these friendships and the experiences that we shared together. I would love to be returning to Ethiopia with them in 2012 but God's plan for me this year was a little different. Maybe next year.

But, today, one of those friends, Amy, is featuring our family over here. Thanks Amy for your dedication to helping fellow adoptive families raise funds

Filled With Praise

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Orphan Sunday

Today is Orphan Sunday which, all of a sudden for me, takes on something altogether different than ever before. It's becoming so much more personal with all of the pen pushing I've been doing of late (adoption paperwork).

Adoption isn't easy. Nothing about it is. It is not for the faint of heart and not to be taken lightly. But what it is is this. It is what we are called to do. As Christians, we are called to love others with ALL of our heart, ALL of our soul, ALL of our mind and ALL of our strength...and to love our neighbors as ourselves. I don't know about you but I don't want myself to be cold, dirty, thirsty, hungry, homeless, scared, lost or unwanted.

His word says, "I will not leave you as orphans.......". Well....if WE are His hands and His feet, what are we waiting for; what have I been waiting for?

(You'll need to scroll to the bottom of my blog and pause the music so that you can get the full effect of this video....and not go nuts from the competing music:).

(Copy and paste the above link into your browser to view the video. I had to remove it from my blog as it was interfering with the music and wasn't pause-able.)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

T-Shirt Orders

We placed our first shirt order yesterday and as soon as they are received, we will be sending yours your way. We are excited to have this design out and about and so thankful for each purchase as the proceeds go directly toward our adoption costs (somewhere in the neighborhood of $30,000.00).

When they arrive, we will have a few extras to sell on-demand as well (we have both the US and the Africa designs coming). If you didn't get your order in, it's not too late. If you'd like for me to hold you one of these when they come in, feel free to email me at We will be ordering more but not until I have enough to order 24 at a time so, once this initial order is complete, it may be a while since I can't order them one or two at a time.

Friday, October 28, 2011

What's happening over here?

We're trudging right along and making great strides (sort of).

There are just some things that can't be of those is the current InterCountry Adoption Seminar that we are (independently) doing online. We have found that our agency is extremely thorough in educating adoptive parents along the way and, though I believe that that is absolutely best and I know that I will be thankful in the end, sometimes I feel as if we're getting

We are mostly done with the written exercises that were part of our educational requirements (mostly, not completely). We have the seminar that we are doing now plus one other (that we haven't yet registered for) and two books (purchased and begun) to read before all of these requirements are fulfilled.

At the same time, since we completed our home study visits, our Social Worker is working to complete our home study report (which becomes part of our dossier) and I am working, as well, on required document/processing for the dossier paperwork. Some of the paperwork required in the dossier was also required for the Home Study so those are in order but there are others we're starting fresh on; others we had for the Home Study but didn't require notarization....the same paperwork with notarization is required for the dossier so we'll double-back and do those again.

It's likely that no one (but me) cares about all of these details but, just like childbirth, I know that someday I will forget how stressful this was and this will serve as a reminder of the work that was involved.

The EXCITING thing that's happening is that, today, I am placing our first shirt orders. The orders have been trickling in and we are anxious to have those first buyers out in the community wearing our shirt; raising awareness about the orphan crisis that is a reality. If you've been thinking you'd like a shirt, NOW is a great time to order to be certain that we have your size this time around. We will order more in the future but your wait will be longer as we have to have at least 24 to place an order.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Youth Sized Shirts

The shirts are now available in Youth sizes also. Unfortunately, they cost the same to have printed so the price is the same as the Adult shirts.

The sizes are as follows:

Youth Small - 6/8
Youth Medium - 10/12
Youth Large - 14/16
Youth Extra Large - 18/20

If you are ordering Youth sizes, simply choose the Pay Pal button on the left side bar for the version you're choosing (Africa, Asia, US) and choose the size in the drop down box (it actually says Adult Small, Adult Medium, etc.).....when you get to the checkout, leave a comment that you are ordering a Youth sized shirt and it will notify me accordingly.

Happy Shopping! : )

Friday, October 21, 2011

Our Shirt(s)

We are so excited to offer our adoption shirts to you.

The shirts are a normal, unisex fit 100% cotton tee. They are currently available in Adult sizes (S, M, L, XL and 2XL). I have not been given the prices for Youth sizes but many of you have asked, so as soon as I have that ironed out, I will update the site and make the Youth sizes available as well.

The shirt contains the message that God has laid on our hearts....the reason we are adopting....the verses that have spoken to us. I shared earlier here about the shirt idea. It's all God's.

They are available in three (back) designs for three different adoption regions. The front of each shirt is the same with the "Why Adopt?" text in a coordinating color with the back design.

The first shirt is our Africa shirt. The shirt color is Ivory and the back design is done in earthy browns, mustard gold and a medium/dark red.

The next shirt is for those of you who have adopted or are adopting domestically. A shirt done in shades of blue and green, printed on a bright white t-shirt.

Lastly, we have a shirt for all of you China, Taiwan, India, Korea, etc. adopters. A shirt portraying the continent of Asia on the back. This shirt is done in some fun colors....yellow, orange, grey and teal.

The t-shirts are $25.00 each including shipping/delivery. It will take approximately 3 weeks for shirts to ship. To place your order, find the Pay Pal link on the left-hand side of the blog that goes with the shirt version that you desire (Africa, Asia or US); click on that link and order away. If you prefer to pay in another manner, we'd be glad to do that as well. Simply email me at If ordering through Pay Pal, please don't forget, at the end of the checkout process, to leave your mailing address and email.

Again, these are Adult only prices....I will update the site just as soon as I have word that the Youth sizes are available.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Home Study and More

The process of adoption, as it should be, is long and sometimes hard. It's filled with LOTS and LOTS of paperwork, lots of check writing and various baby steps down the path to the ultimate goal of bringing an orphaned child into what is to become their forever family.

We had our first home study appointment/visit/interview this week and it went very well.

Just to be transparent and help others understand exactly what all of this entails, here is what our journey has looked like thus far:

  • Choose an agency. There are many out there and much to consider but we believe we have found in ours, Lifeline Children's Services, a perfect fit for our family.
  • Apply to the agency.
  • Receive approval and packet of information regarding the Ethiopia program. This packet includes lots of information about our child's birth country as well as many, many forms that will be completed, oftentimes notarized, etc. In addition, there are educational requirements and did I mention forms?
  • Because our agency is out-of-state, we needed to find and apply with a Home Study Agency as well. We chose Adoption Assistance, Inc. and applied with them. They also require lots of paperwork (some of the paperwork is the same as the agency's and, thankfully, we are able in some instances to kill two birds with one stone).
  • Next, we had lots of signing and initialing to do to make our agreement with Lifeline official.
  • We began reading two required books, "The Connected Child" and "Adoption Parenting".
  • We had our first (of two) home study appointments with Adoption Assistance. Our Social Worker met with us here in our home and spoke with us collectively as a family and independently. She also toured our home and made sure that we met some basic safety/security requirements for our future addition.
And in case you're wondering just what kind of forms I'm talking about, there are things like letters from your employers and your bank, health forms from your doctors, recommendation letters, copies of utility bills, birth certificates, marriage licenses....I even had to prove that the dogs are up to date on their shots. Then there are things like questionnaire's, family trees, community trees, autobiographies, written testimonies, etc. It's a long but necessary list and it felt really good to get the first installment of those out the door.

And now we're working on installments number 2 (for Lifeline) and 3 (for our dossier) side by side.

I'll keep you posted.

Oh...and t-shirts will be on sale by week's end. Exciting!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Coming Soon

I am absolutely not exaggerating when I say that God dropped a t-shirt design on me out of the clear, blue sky. We were not talking about fundraising; we had not discussed t-shirts AT ALL but, all of a sudden one day, I had a very clear picture of a t-shirt design in my mind.

Some very talented people have helped/are helping me bring the idea to life and I couldn't wait to post a picture of the initial design.

The verses that you see on the back are verses that have spoken (very loudly) to us regarding adoption and God's plan for our family.

In addition to the design shown here (for Africa), there are additional designs underway. Soon, you will be able to place your order for this Africa shirt as well as another for the continent of Asia (for those China, Taiwain, Korea adopters) and another for domestic adopters with an image of the good old USA.

Stay tuned for these designs and how you can order.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

It's Official....We're "Moving"

(And if absolutely nothing about that statement means a thing to you, you can "catch up" here, here and here.)

Moving ahead, that is.

This blog has been in existence for quite some time but has been kept private until now. It has served as a diary of sorts; a place to store some of the details of what God seemed to be revealing in our lives.

And so, here we are....going public (with our news and with this blog).

After much prayer, much consideration, some trying to convince God that surely he didn't mean us; some rejoicing, some fear and LOTS of paperwork (and, really, it's only the beginning)........


I have to be this very moment, I feel like I should have SO much more to say but, really, what else is there?

We feel called to respond to the gospel in this manner. In His word, he said that he would not leave them as orphans. And we are His hands and His feet.

God has been so real in our lives in this regard and I will share more of this when I find my words....for now, we just wanted you to know and we covet your prayers for this exciting time for our family.

Somewhere in Ethiopia, we have a daughter; our boys have a sister.....will you pray for her too?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Why Ethiopia?

As I've shared here already, we have not yet even begun paperwork; however, at this time, our hearts (or at least my heart) are learning toward Ethiopia. I am trying to be open to other alternatives and know that whatever plan God has for us is better than anything that I could plan myself.

Actually, it is heavily "rumored" at this time that adoptions in Ethiopia may soon be closed. It is becoming more and more difficult to pass court and, in the past, when these things have happened (in countries like Guatemala and Vietnam most recently) it is a sign that the country is moving toward closing adoptions altogether.

In the meantime, I know the question, "Why Ethiopia?" is on many minds (regarding our family and others) and I thought that this video was a great visual answer to that question.

Why NOT Ethiopia?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

From The Mouths of Babes

For a couple of years, Jeff & I have considered sponsoring a child through Compassion International but, unfortunately, like some other great intentions that we've had, we started at talking and stopped at doing. We'd never signed up.

However, when our boys went to Student Life Camp last Summer (2010) at Orange Beach, they were given an opportunity to sponsor a child through Compassion and did. Joseph Adjei is our sponsored child. Joseph is an 8-year-old from Ghana.

We write to and receive letters from him regularly. The letters are written on a sort of form that has helps/prompts to help Joseph determine the things that he'd like to say to us. A translator does the actual writing for him.

Imagine our surprise when, in late November, we received a letter from him with the prompt, "Child's prayer for Sponsor". Joseph's response to this prompt (and I quote) was,

"Joseph prays that the Lord should bless you and your family and make it big".

.......and I don't think he meant tall. ; )

Monday, January 17, 2011

Ordinary Hero

While reading the Johnson's family blog (see last post), Kristy often referred to her sister, Kelly, or linked to Kelly's blog. Kelly has an amazing personal testimony and, the more I read, the more I wanted to read. Kelly is a person who, in a crisis situation, doesn't just say something like, "let me know if there's anything I can do". Instead, she finds a need and then finds a way to fill it. Mostly, she has done this through contacting everyone she knows when a specific need arises and, each time, finds someone who was ready, willing and able to step up and fill whatever need is out there. Emailing and calling on friends has, this past year, become a non-profit ministry...Ordinary Hero (

So, occasionally, at Kristy's prompting, I'd go to Kelly's site. Eventually, I became a regular follower (just in case Kristy forgot to remind me.....I didn't want to miss a thing) and soon I read a post where Kelly's last name was mentioned (which I hadn't known previously). Putty. Hmm. Braeden has a friend with that last name....could it be the same family?

As it turns out, Kelly doesn't just live in the area but she and her family live in our subdivision. Small world.

In the late Fall/early Winter of 2010, our Community Group was researching possible service opportunities that we could take part in. One of the first organization's that came to mind was Ordinary Hero. (OH is involved in both local and global ministry). Kelly was kind enough to come to our Community Group one night and share her heart; what she was/is doing in the Nashville area and what she is doing in Ethiopia (where she too has adopted a son).

This visit turned out to be very productive. Not only did our CG participate in a local stocking stuffing event but our dear friends, Chris and Valerie, were moved to adopt and my sister and I are going, in July, with Ordinary Hero to Ethiopia.


  • Read about the Christmas outreach here:
  • Follow Chris and Valerie's adoption at
  • Read here about the 2010 "Kicking and Dreaming" Ethiopia trip:
  • Watch this video to see one of the experiences the members of the 2010 team had. Our team will visit this same area in 2011.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

More Dots Connected

As I have mentioned in previous posts, over the last several years, I have followed the accounts of several different families who have adopted or are in the process of doing so. There was one particular blog...actually one particular post on one particular blog that rocked me a bit.

I'd been reading the Johnson's blog as they prepared to bring home their Lucy Lane from Ethiopia and I'd watched it all unfold right there on my laptop but, then, they produced this video and it gave me a new and clearer picture of the power of adoption.

As it turns out, not only is this family a local family (neighbors practically) but the Mom, Kristy, is also the sister to Kelly Putty of Ordinary Hero who I mentioned in my last post....more dots for another time. Kelly is actually in this video as she made the trip with Kristy to bring Lucy Lane home to Tennessee.

As you watch the video, you will see the Johnson children holding a number...that is the number that the family was on the wait list at that particular time. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Connecting Some Dots

One of the biggest things that happened after this "turning point" (see last post) was/is that Jeff & I are now dialoging about this whole possibility more. In the past, as I shared, it had all been about what I could read, research and learn. Every now and then, I'd ask Jeff to read this or look at that but, for the most part, I was the one in waist-high and I tried not to impose my convictions on him.

But the door has now cracked open and, unlike any other time before, some things started to happen that I believe is God at work in our lives.

One of the things was that my neighbor (Kristen) posted on Facebook one day that her friend, Gina, was having an adoption yard sale. As it turned out, on that very day, my friend Gina (different Gina, of course) were going.....(you guessed it)...yard sale-ing. This was on a Friday and the yard sale was also on Saturday. Well, Gina and I didn't make it by there on Friday but, on Saturday, Jeff had class and I headed out to the grocery store. I really had no intentions of going to the yard sale alone but, somehow, it was as if my car drove me there anyway. As weird as that sounds, it did really feel like some sort of out of body experience. I got out at the yard sale (which actually was at 3 or 4 different consecutive homes....Gina has great neighbors) and looked around. Really, I didn't need one single thing so I determined who the adoptive Mom was and I introduced myself. I can remember almost being in tears as I gave her a donation and told her that God had been working on my heart. Gina was so warm and eager to share her story. She asked that I send her a Facebook friend request so that we could talk some more which I did.

I shared with her our "story" via a Facebook message and she, in turn, shared more of her own story. Her husband, Phillip, had not been onboard immediately and, in July of 2010 she went on a mission trip to Ethiopia with Ordinary Hero (another story for another time.....another dot connected) with her son Robbie. It was there, on the very last day, that she met and fell in love with their son, Daniel Mamo. (Daniel Mamo is now home....has been here just a few can meet the Payne's at

Gina had suggested that we meet sometime for a face-to-face talk so I mentioned this to Jeff who was all for it. I scheduled a Saturday morning Starbuck's visit with Gina one week while Jeff was in class. We were under some time constraints as Gina needed to pick her daughter up from school but, in the end, Gina shared with me that she believed in her heart that we were going to adopt. In fact, I mentioned to her that I was considering going on the Ordinary Hero trip in July of 2011 and with a smile on her face, she said, "Oh, I think you'll be in Ethiopia before July".

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Turning Point

So it seems that that sermon was somewhat of a turning point for our family. As we got into the car that day, Braeden (our youngest) said, "You may not know this but I've always wanted a little sister". And I'll likely never forget Jeff's reply: "It's a good thing because you may be about to get one".

In all of the previous months, I had been convicted but Jeff, honestly, had not. And that's okay. Now, though, it seemed that God was beginning to soften his heart. And one of the things that it did was that it opened the door for us to discuss the things that I'd been reading and feeling a little more openly. Not that he had ever discouraged me from talking with him about it; it's just that I knew where he stood and I was at the point of trying to figure out what I was supposed to do; not what we were supposed to do.

I began to share more and more of the blogs and of the statistics that I'd become aware of. We began to dialog more and I continued to rest in the knowledge that God was working it all out. No matter what.

Moving (Part III)

So, time has passed and I finally get on Amazon to see what I can find out about this book that my Pastor has recommended. It takes only a moment when I discover that the book by Russell Moore is titled "Adopted for Life". I order it. I begin to read and, funny enough, it gives me a peace that I haven't had. Not peace as in "you're off the hook" but peace as in "I've got it under control". I begin to be able to rest, to wait and to watch.

Fast forward a couple of months and our Pastor delivers a powerful sermon on James 1. He says the words that I've come to know are truth but haven't yet been spoken. And those words are, in summary, that we (Christians) are ALL called to do SOMETHING. It's up to us. We ARE His hands and feet after all. He gave us three ways to help. 1.) To adopt 2.) To financially assist someone else who is adopting and, 3.) To pray. At the end of the sermon, he asked anyone who was willing to do one of these three things to come forward. As we bowed our head to pray, I saw movement (which, at the time, I thought were people going forward even though Joe had said to come after the prayer.....actually I know now that it was our musicians getting in place). I nearly sprinted to the front of the church. Needless to say, I was the first one there. : ) Jeff wasn't sitting with me but it wasn't long until I felt his hand in mine.

Moving (Part II)

Almost exactly one year ago, I was meeting with my pastor regarding something completely unrelated but somehow I managed to incorporate a discussion about the struggles I was having with these convictions and how I wasn't able to get peace about it. He agreed to pray for me and mentioned a book that I might want to read (wasn't certain of the title at that moment but told me the Author's name....more on that later).

Several more months went by and I was still being pursued by God; only now I've begun to really apply the Word to the situation and I've stopped to focus on what He says and on what He expects. He's definitely beginning to break my heart for what breaks His....unlike anytime before. The statistics, they overwhelm me and I can't NOT do something about it. I am moved to the point that I can't look away; I can't NOT move.

Now, before I go on, I need to explain something. My heart does not long for another child. Jeff and I have two awesome boys. Following the birth of our youngest, we felt that our family was complete and that we were "done". This idea was not born of a desire to have more children. This fact is one of the things that confirms for me that this is "of God"...and not "of Kelley".

In all honesty, the more "real" this started to become (the need to move), the more anxious I started to become. After all, my life is easy. I no longer have diaper bags or carseats. Both of my boys go to school during the day and I am free to have lunch with friends, grocery shop alone and/or treat myself to a manicure. Besides that, we have big plans for early retirement, of years of traveling together (without children). Why would I want to even consider bringing another child into our home?

So, as you can see, though I have felt convicted by this, there have been times that I've tried to fight it. At some point, I realized that every single reason that I could think of for not adopting was completely selfish. Humbling.

To be continued......

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Moving (Part I) - Just WOW!

Even setting this blog up is very surreal. I have blogged in the past but not on something as specific as adoption and the journey that God has us on at this time. However, as I have shared with a few sweet friends the burden that God has placed on my heart, my friend Paula particularly encouraged (or begged, really) me to journal this journey. I didn't take her up on it immediately but have been tossing around the idea of doing so in this fashion. So here goes.....

I can't say precisely when I began to have a tug at my heart regarding adoption. I wish that I could. I think back as early on as my 20's when I volunteered through the Big Brother/Sister organization....I definitely had a heart then for underprivileged children that, at some point, grew into something altogether different.

It was many years later that I began to really struggle with the idea that there were parentless children in the world. I really felt convicted by it and began to talk with Jeff about it. What I found was that he didn't have the same convictions. When I would bring it up, he would say that God had not convicted him this way and, therefore, it must not be what we were supposed to do. We have always subscribed to the fact that God is not the God of confusion, and that He would not ask one spouse to do something in direct opposition to the other. (I still believe this, by the way). So, every so often, we'd have a talk about it and then I'd move on....sortof.

Eventually, I began to soak up every bit of information I could find; mostly through reading blogs of other families who had or were adopting. Eventually, after much prayer, I was certain that I was supposed to do something (now rather than later) and that since Jeff didn't have the same convictions, that "something" was going to need to be something that I could do on my own which, of course, did not include actually adopting. So the search was on.

I continued reading blogs and praying for lots of different families and/or organizations. From time to time, I would make donations to the cause and/or buy products that families were selling in order to raise funds for their own adoption. I ordered products that were available (through 147 Million Orphans) that were intended to raise awareness of the current orphan crisis. Namely, Ugandan magazine beads. I began purchasing these as gifts in 2009. (read more about this organization and these beads at

And all of that was great.

But, eventually, it wasn't enough.

I wasn't doing enough. And God wasn't leaving me alone.

To be continued.....