Sunday, January 31, 2010

Allenni and Andrew's FIRST Gotcha Day!

Well, last night we celebrated Allenni and Andrew's First Gotcha Day. Though I wanted to blog about it last night, time did not permit and so I have a few moments while Isaiah is napping to write.
As I reflect back on what has happened in order for us to have these kids in our home, I am amazed at the journey that God has taken us on. What great lengths OUR God will go on to grow us, show us his love and his power and to show us Himself.
Every adoption has taught us new things spiritually and has built upon lessons we learned from previous adoptions as well. Just as I talked recently about digging for our treasure when we were pursuing Eli, in this adoption of Allenni and Andrew, it was more like being a tree that would not be moved no matter how hard the wind try to blow us away.

Their story actually started in China. Yes, while we were picking up Eli, God slyly (or as Duane says, "Jehovah Sneaky" ) planted a seed in our hearts by mentioning Uganda. Of course another adoption was not even on our radar screen. But God who knows all things and plans all things, set us up to meet a family from Arizona who we instantly bonded with. They were in our travel group and had told us about some friends who worked in Uganda. This interested me because of my growing up in West Africa as a missionary kid. It was just casual conversation, or so we thought. I see God chuckling right now even as I write this. It was a seed planted. No more was Uganda thought of with all the adjustments of bringing Eli home until one day in April, three months later, I had some free time and thought hey, I'll go look at those missionaries' website in Uganda. After searching for the website and not finding it, I decided to shoot my friend an email. Just as I was about to do this, the phone rings and it is my friend, who lives in Arizona.
"Hi this is H. I wanted to call you and tell you that my friend in Uganda contacted me and told me about these two kids and I just knew that you were their parents. " Well, I didn't jump in the wagon that fast and told her, "There is no way! We just got home with Eli and he is having surgery soon and we are broke." She insisted we look at their pics she was sending in an email and pray about it. I hung up just totally surprised.
A little later I got the email and the pics. The kids were definitely cute.
"Oops! there went a little water droplet on that seed!" That God of ours!

After that I could not get those kids off of my mind. I told Duane about the events and He laughed, "She is crazy! How can those kids be ours??? No way! We are broke and our hands are full." I think God probably chuckled, "Those humans."
A week later I still could not get them off my mind, so I figured God must be up to something.
"Drip, Drip, Drip, Oh look, a little sprout. Now we have something going here"

Now, I have looked at hundreds of orphan pictures, but I don't just keep thinking about them unless somehow I end up involved with them. I "accidentally" left their pics and info and web pages of HFU up on the computer screens so Duane might happen to read them. A few days later I asked him, "Did you read that stuff on those kids?" Sighing, he said, "Yeah, and this is crazy, but I can't get them off of my mind. I have been praying about them. Maybe we are supposed to adopt them. I told God, I was willing but we really needed to get some debts paid off and He needed to give us the money for the adoption fees and the debts."
The next day, Duane walked in the door, home for lunch, with this look on his face and I knew something was up. He showed me a check stub of a deposit he had just made. I couldn't believe it! Before I knew it, I had slapped him on the arm, laughing, "You, have got to be kidding! Where did you get that kind of money?" "It was on my desk, our office manager said it was owed to me." It was enough for the lawyer fees and the debt he had wanted to pay off.
"That sapling is growing into a nice strong tree"

Fast forward to May: We inquired and things got set into motion. Uganda rarely had adoptions happening so had no adoption programs, so this was going to be an independent adoption.
We first were going to adopt Allenni and a little boy named Michael. But in the end, Andrew was found and taken in from the streets and reunited with Allenni and when another family asked to adopt Michael, we released him and decided to take just Allenni and Andrew. We definitely knew that these kids were ours.
So started the journey to Uganda. Paper work takes time and in our case, The Ugandan paperwork surprisingly went quickly but the US paperwork did not.
In July 2007, we had gotten all the paperwork gathered and home study had been updated and then everything was sent to DHR in Montgomery, AL and from there it would be sent on to Homeland Security to get approval to bring them to the States. We expected this to take a few months but were hoping that they might honor an expediting request and get it done sooner.
Well, 3 weeks passed with no word from anyone, so I inquired. I found out that our home study had not been sent to Montgomery because there needed to be criminal checks on all of our teens living at home and our home study needed some corrections in it. Then we got word from our Ugandan attorney saying we needed a letter from our Mayor and/or Senator saying we are good people and would be qualified to take these kids in.
Here's an excerpt from my journal on July 21, 2007:

"NOW, we WAIT. I totally dislike that action. Waiting is boring! When you wait , there is nothing to do. I guess, that is why God uses it as a lesson for us. When we wait, we DO have to put it in His hands. At first , I was irritated with all the delays, but then God reminded me, "Melissa, you still have not learned this lesson after all the other adoptions. My ways are not your ways and neither are my thoughts your thoughts. Trust in me and I will finish the task." Ok, I am not fretting about a timetable here. God will do his work. It is all up to Him now anyway."

"Good their roots are getting stronger. That's going to be a nice tree. I think I'll move it by the river here. It's going to need a lot of good water."

Ten days later, on Friday we had the criminal checks back and the letters from the Local Family Court Judge and Mayor and was ready to send our home study to Africa or so we thought. Come Monday, we found out that our medicals for the DHR file were lost and so we had to go get medicals redone.
"I'm teaching them to drink from the River, that way they get stronger when a rough wind blows their way."
In August we heard that our home study went through Montgomery and was being sent to Atlanta so we just waited to hear that we could come and get our fingerprints done.
In September, we found out that our home study GOT LOST somewhere between Montgomery and Atlanta after I inquired on the status of our case.
Our Social worker sent in another copy. Finally about two weeks later we got our letter to get fingerprinted but it came only two days before the appointment and Duane couldn't get off of work so we had to reschedule for another week. We got that appointment for October.
I had to keep relying on God for patience with all of this.

"Yes, that tree is getting nice and stronger, little do they know what terrible storms are ahead and these small wind trials only mean to make them stronger."

November came and was almost over and we had not heard anything about our finger prints. After calling ATL and checking, it was discovered that our fingerprints had not been forwarded to Homeland Security so there fore our application had not been processed!

"Look at those roots dig deeper, this tree is growing nicely"

I'm glad God had a plan because I wasn't following and it was quite frustrating for these nit picky things to be happening. All we could do was to trust his timing. Two weeks later, our fingerprints were located and four weeks later they processed our approval letters. We were finally able to make plane reservations to leave January 21, 2008 to Uganda.

We left fully hoping we only had to be in Uganda for about 4 weeks. Our court date went just fine with out a hitch and here is an excerpt form my journal:
"We awaited upon the balcony, with butterflies in my stomach as I went through all the emotions of what this day would bring. "Would they like me? Am I sure I can handle two more children? What am I doing? Do they understand what is going on? Will skin color matter to either of us? Will the judge agree to let me be their guardian?" A little later, K. and Be arrived from HFU. A few moments later, In drove a SUV carrying Allen, Andrew and K's little girl, S. My heart pounded as I strained to see them through the car window. They parked and got out and came running up the stairs. First, they ran into K.'s arms and when she told them, "There is your mommy", they ran into my arms and what a meeting! All the questions that had been running through my mind melted away as I felt love flood my heart and I had MY children in my arms! They were beautiful! They knew who I was. It was awesome!"

When we started working on the kids passports there were many things that went wrong and it would take a book to write about. (Which I hope to do one day) I ended up staying 4 months instead and boy I think those were the hardest of my life ever! God really taught me about Himself and deepened my relationship with Him. Even though I ended up coming home without my kids during this time, I can look back now and see many things that God worked to our benefit. One of them was getting baby Isaiah. His life was saved because God's timing was perfect.
There were many times when I just felt that I could not do this anymore. I had nothing left inside of me. I was very sick, the baby was very sick, I was very lonely, I missed my other kids, and Allenni and Andrew had behaviors, I wasn't sure how to deal with. I pictured myself, hanging onto the last string of a really big rope, crying out to God. I was stripped of everything I knew identified me. But what God wanted me to do was for me to find my identity in Him. Emotions well up inside of me as I write because this space is not enough to write what turmoil and fights against depression I fought in those days in Africa. I had to fight to get out of bed to take care of the kids. Through it all though, I never gave up on God and the thought that these were my kids. I thank God everyday for my friends S. & B who spoke into my life and encouraged me and fed me scripture when I was too weak.

"I knew those strong winds would not knock that tree over when it got stormy, Now that tree is even deeper rooted and drinking my Living water."

It took me three months to recuperate physically after returning and even longer to get back into the sync of things with my kids and family in the States. All the time we kept asking God, When? When do we go back and get them? "Not yet he would say, Wait." I was glad God had opened up good foster homes for me to leave them in and so I did not worry about their care.
Finally in April, I told Duane, it is getting time for me to go. It is going to happen soon. Finally in May 2009, one year later from the time I left, I got on a plane with my daughter Maggie and headed back to Africa fully planning on bringing my kids home. My faith was not to be wavered. Those kids were mine. And I was going to claim them. I ended up staying three months, but God was awesome and Faithful and I kept knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt, I would leave with them. It WAS VERY hard again. There were lots of times, I cried and prayed and told God I did not understand, Storms raged and sometimes I felt like giving up but then again I'm not a quitter. I was certain of what God had spoken to me. "Those are your kids, I have given them to you."
In the end we saw God perform miracles and throw open doors and give us favor. He granted those passports and not only that but changed a country's policy on the matter which would allow children in their same circumstance to be granted passports immediately. In the past many children never made it to their adoptive families because they never received passports on ethnic problems.
So, there believe it or not is the short version of our journey to celebrating Gotcha Day for Allenni and Andrew. God planted a seed of perseverance, faith and trust in HIM and watered it and tended it and it grew and grew. At times it hurt to grow, there were times we thought we would break under the pressure and snap in half, but in the end we were strong because of His might and power. And For this we are glad.

He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. Psalm 1:2-4

For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters that spreads out its roots by the river; and it shall not see and fear when heat comes; but its leaf shall be green. It shall not be anxious and full of care in the year of drought, nor shall it cease yielding fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-9

Friday, January 29, 2010

Eli's 3rd Gotcha Day!

Today on Jan. 4th, 2009 is Eli's 3rd Gotcha Day!

I actually wrote most of what is below on the anniversary of Eli's 1st Gotcha Day! I still feel exactly the same and so I feel it is worth repeating. I changed up some of it to make it relevant to this year. If you would like to read All of Eli's adoption story you can go to to link over to my other blog.

Today, three years ago, Eli (Dang Ji Min) walked into a sterile room scared to death. As he cried, not knowing what was happening, I cried too, sensing his fear as well as feeling the joy that our long awaited journey to him was ending and a new one was beginning. I wanted to scoop him up in my arms and let him know that he was going to be ok and he was safe and had been loved ever since the first day that I had laid eyes on his photo.
Today is our "Gotcha Day". I know some people totally dislike that word but I look at it as a special simple phrase signifying a great happening.

I found a treasure one day back in November of 2004 when his picture popped up on my computer screen.
He stole my heart. But according to China policies we were too large of a family to be eligible to adopt him. We were waiting for Vietnam to open up. Duane and I prayed for him and 2 weeks later, we got word that he had found a family. I secretly still kept his picture and would pop it up to look at and pray for him. We continued to wait on Vietnam to open. Three months later, an email from our agency arrived stating Dang Ji Min was back up on the list and the other family had decided they could not take him due to his medical condition. We prayed again for him to find a family. A few weeks later, our agency sent out another email stating that China had changed a policy allowing special needs kids to be adopted by large families, if they met certain criteria. Of course, I was elated and ran to tell Duane. He quickly bursts my bubble by telling me that we had no money and cannot afford an adoption right now. So I dug deeper for my treasure and prayed.
A couple of weeks later, we received an email again from our agency saying that Dang Ji Min's fees have been drastically reduced in order for them to find a family for him. This is his last chance at a family before China removes him from the "adoptable list" for good.
I shouted a gleeful Yes! and ran to find Duane. He didn't say much, which means he is thinking about it. I dug deeper for my treasure. I prayed.

Now it was almost Mother's Day 2005 by this time and we were sitting in our sun room and my husband casually asked me, "So, What do you want for Mother's Day?" I replied, "Oh nothing, I have everything." THEN A LIGHT BULB CAME ON!, I got this awesome thought and idea! I started making this excited noise like oh,oh,oh! and Duane looked at me like I had gone weird. "I know what I WANT!" What? He asked, looking intrigued. "A LITTLE BOY FROM CHINA!!!!!!!" He knew exactly what that meant! As I stood there, looking at him, waiting for an answer, I noticed that HE DID NOT ROLL HIS EYES! (This was a good sign) Then he said, ok, check into it!!!!!!
I dug for my treasure a little deeper. I contacted the agency and started the paperwork process the next day!
We ran into obstacle after obstacle with paperwork on the US side and once even thought the US would not approve us to adopt. We ran into many other obstacles with the adoption as well, making us very weary. We had to dig in and get creative to raise the funds needed. But through each obstacle and storm we dug deeper for our treasure. We watched God perform miracles as we prayed, sometimes cried and clawed our way through the dirt. I knew in the depths of my heart that that treasure was ours.
Finally, a day late leaving on Dec. 31, 2006, we set out on the last leg of our journey as we boarded a plane to Ancient China to claim our treasure.
After a few days in Beijing we headed to Taiyuan and on January 4, 2007, we loaded into our taxi and took the short drive to a large government building that loomed up into the cold smog. We took the old elevator up to the second floor, and as we entered that bleak, gray room with large dirty windows, my heart leaped within me as I laid eyes on my treasure! He was sad, scared, lost, dirty and broken but how beautiful and priceless he was to me!
It was all I could do to shout to the world, I've gotcha! I've gotcha! You're mine!!! You're finally mine!!!

That day my treasure found a new life and his named was changed from Dang Ji Min, meaning, "Lucky property of the communist people" to Eli Chapman Zhao Kai Carter, meaning, "The Lord is my God and Morning Song of Triumph".
How God has already proved his name to be true!
Today, three years later the child who had a life destined to be a crippled now has a life destined to be a runner, proclaiming the miracles and awesomeness of God!

Treasure that satan tried to hide away in China never to be found, God brought forth to be polished and displayed. I love our God! He gave all He had to claim that Treasure! Wow! The Lord is Eli's God and Morning Song of Triumph!

"The Kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field." Matt.13:44
Eli's referral picture
Eli's referral picture
Eli showing off the samauri look

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Haiti Adoption Agencies

If you are truly interested in adopting form Haiti in the near future then I've listed some adoption agencies below. They have some info on Haiti and what the situation is.


(They are having their auction in March. they have decided that proceeds will benefit Haiti. I always donate to the auction. Do you have anything to donate to help?
Get in touch with Christina Newman at :

Christina Newman
17607 Y St
Omaha, NE 68135

They are receiving donations for auction until March 1st.



I do not endorse any of these organizations but came upon them in my research for you to check out. Blessings, Melissa

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

More info on Haiti and adoptions #2

I have had lots of inquiries form people wanting to know how they can adopt from Haiti. I did a little research and this is what I found out . My personal suggestion is that you make sure you are in for the long haul. These kids are going to have trauma issues. I also recommend that you find a social worker and get your homestudy completed. This takes a lot of time and I am sure case workers will begin to be overloaded. If orphans are brought over here, then those who are homestudy ready and approved will be the first families to get kids. Prepare yourself. Don't wait. If you are serious about adopting a Haitian child even if the adoption is not immediate, then consider sponsoring children first to keep them alive. Put your money where your heart is. These are my opinions and suggestions. I hope the body of Christ does step up to the plate and open their arms to the kids who need it most. In the 90's it was Eastern Europe. Now it is Haiti. What will we do? Will we help deliver the oppressed? Melissa

Reaching Out to Help Orphans by Adopting from Haiti
Adopting from Haiti After the January 2010 Earthquake

By Carrie Craft, Guide
See More About:

* haiti adoption
* adoption and foster care news
* international adoption

"Many people are interested in learning how adopting from Haiti can save an orphan."

Many people are interested in learning how adopting from Haiti can save an orphan.
Joe Raedle / Getty Images
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Haiti News Video Haiti Population Adopt Babies Adopt Infant Adoption Laws
Jan 21 2010

It is wonderful thing, the outpouring of concern for the children who have been left homeless and orphaned by the earthquake. Here are some things to keep in mind as you seek to find ways to reach out with an interest in adopting from Haiti.


Agencies and organizations that process adoptions in Haiti have been destroyed, paperwork lost under collapsed buildings, and workers killed in the tragedy or have died from wounds received due to the quake. Communication systems are down and those who have survived can't be reached. Remember, right now, the main focus is on survival and meeting the immediate needs of the children.

Families have been separated by this tragic earthquake. It will take time to determine which children have been truly orphaned by the earthquake. Children who have been left orphaned will then be placed with family, if possible.

There are legal requirements that must be met before a child meets the definition of an orphan and is eligible for adoption by U.S. standards, as well as standards as set by the child's country. In this case, children must also meet the definition of an orphan as set by Haiti's requirements for adoption as well.

The immediate survival needs of the children need to be met at this time. Take time to see how you can help these children now as adoption takes many, many months. See how you can help children in Haiti during this time by giving and volunteering for known organizations.

Know that the State Department is continuing to process adoptions from Haiti.

Go ahead and contact an adoption agency about adopting from Haiti, but know that it will still take time to bring a child into your home. But there is no harm in starting the adoption process. Again, it will take time for Haiti to sort through the rubble and determine
o which children have already been matched to other prospective adoptive families before the earthquake
o how far along each child's case was within the adoption process,
o which children are newly orphaned due to the earthquake

Children Affected by Natural Disasters and Conflict - U.S. Department of State
Adoption Alert for Haiti - U.S. Department of State
More About Adopting from Haiti

* What Is the Status for a Haiti Adoption Already in Progress?

More info on Haiti and adoptions

Before the January 12, 2010 earthquake, an estimated 50,000 children were living in Haitian orphanages, and the number of children now orphaned has risen by tens of thousands, according to aid groups. Many people in other countries are eager to find a meaningful way to help, and adoption is one possibility.

[edit] Is it a good idea?

Concerned with the possibility of child trafficking, the US National Council for Adoption is opposed to any expedited efforts to process new adoptions in Haiti, and also generally frowns on "baby lifts," the practice of wanting to adopt in times of emergency. You may want to remember that adoption is a lifelong commitment, and that there may be easier and better ways to help right away with what is going on in Haiti.

But if you were considering adopting anyway, and want to do something with a longterm positive impact on someone's life, adoption from Haiti or elsewhere could be incredibly meaningful.

[edit] What should I do next?

The best way to help an orphaned child right now is to provide humanitarian aid to Haiti. Thousands of children are at risk of illness and death because they are not getting adequate water, food and medical care. Once the situation in Haiti stabilizes, the normal adoption process will start again and families can be matched to children.

To get things started already, people interested in adoption can contact the agencies placing children from Haiti and fill out this form.

[edit] More details

The standard procedure for adopting a child in Haiti involves receiving appropriate documentation from the Haitian courts and from the Institut du Bien Etre Social et de Research (IBESR). The general steps include receiving a legal release from the child's birth parents or custodian, submitting this release to the IBESR which, after examining certain factors, will issue an authorization of adoption, then presenting this authorization to a civil court which will then grant an official adoption decree to the adoptive parents. The child also needs to obtain a Haitian passport so that he or she can leave the country. See

However, because there is such a serious need now and documents traditionally required to go through a formal adoption process are likely lost in the rubble, the U.S. government is being asked to grant Haitian orphans referred to American families humanitarian parole to the United States, thus expediting the release of children who already received adoption clearance by the Haitian government.

Scroll to the bottom of the Joint Council on International Children's Services Haiti web page to find out about adoption agencies around the United States with connections in Haiti.

Retrieved from ""
Answered by

22 edit points

Jimbo Wales
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Thursday, January 21, 2010


I want to put up a link where you can find more info about help in Haiti. Wouldn't be awesome if the body of Christ would step in like they never have before and help. Orphans are being brought to the States by plane loads! The Orphans are being brought to us! Pray if your family needs to adopt or help someone financially to adopt or if you need to sponsor a child or send money to orphanages.
With my husband being a Pediatrician, we are very aware of the medical needs and what happens in a 3rd world country if a disaster strikes an already needy country. Click here to link to an organization that is responding to the medical needs there.
No matter what your financial situation, you can help. Every penny will help someone to possibly live and be saved. You can also remember to lift medical teams and relief workers up in prayer that they would have the supernatural strength and stamina to do the work needed.

Other links to visit:
World vision
Blessings, Melissa
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