Sunday, November 29, 2009

What We Did All Weekend...

Keep your ornament orders coming. We are at 250 sold and counting. With help from my (JT) Mom, we painted over 150 this weekend!

Thanks for all your support.

Painting like Elves....

Daniel and Denise were not much help!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I know it is hard to believe, but since I posted a few days ago, we have sold almost 200 ornaments. I believe we are just one or two below. How amazing! I send one friend a message on facebook. She directs her friends to our blog....from her we have sold more than five. My mother in law has sold 15 just today at her work! I am just in awe of what God is doing to help bring our kids home!

If you know ANYONE who would be interestd, please let me know....there is not a deadline. The cost is $5. We are asking $2-$3 for shipping if we can't deliver them to you. Please contact me at if you are interested. Thank you for those of you who have already purchased ornaments! We are so thankful!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

140 Ornaments SOLD

We have sold 140 ornaments in less than one week. Our initial goal was 150 ornaments, which will pay the first half of our home study. We never thought that we would achieve this. We should have had more faith. Not only have we sold this many, but they are finished! We sat for 7 hours yesterday and painted ornaments...some were customized, some were the basic ones. We are shipping and delivering our first batch on Monday! The first 50 are more of a whitish shade, and the rest are more silver-ish. However, a few friends requested gold....we obliged.

SOOOO if you know anyone else who would like an ornament, let us know at my email,

Thank you everyone so Far!!!


Friday, November 20, 2009

Proverbs 24:12

If you say, "We knew nothing about this," does not he who knows the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?

I read this verse this morning and it really struck me because this perfectly sums up why Natalie and I are adopting. There are so many reasons why we should not adopt right now: we have no money (actually we have several hundred thousands of dollars in school debt), uncertainty with the process/red tape of international adoption, lack of support and understanding from some around us, etc. The reasons, however, to adopt greatly outweigh these. God has given Natalie and I a heart for adoption (and I realize this is a huge part of the equation. Not everyone is put together for adoption and it doesn't make us better- we are all constructed differently.). We have been shown there is a gargantuan need in Africa. For us, that is the end of the story. I am not supposed to have all the answers. I never will. But press on we will.

Keep the ornament orders coming. We have been blown away by your support. We are going to be very busy the next few weeks painting.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Christmas Ornaments FOR SALE!!!!

We are painting and selling Christmas ornaments to help raise money to pay for adoption process. We were at a loss on how to begin raising money until a day spent with my fabulous friend Emily yielded two great ideas. The ornaments are the first idea!!!

If you would like to purchase an ornament, we would love to make one just for you or your family! The artwork is not perfect; we are not artists. We just want our children to come home. Spread the word to your friends as well. There are two options....

#1: Peace Love Africa
#2: Africa with "5 Million Minus 1"
$5 each

Contact Us to Order:

Africa with a heart for Ethiopia ) featured on both ornaments

"Love" on Peace, Love, Africa

"Peace" on Peace, Love, Africa

Our Motto on the second ornament

Friday, November 13, 2009

Interview Season

For those of you who have never had someone close to you go through the process of becoming a doctor, it can be very difficult to comprehend. Until Natalie decided to pursue medicine in December 2005, my thoughts of doctors were limited to the terrible experiences I endured at my pediatrician and orthopedic surgeons who worked with various sports teams that I have been associated with. Needless to say, it is a long hard road. After you have completed your four years of medical school (which Nat will in December), you complete your residency program which can range from 3-7 years depending on the specialty. Nat is in the process of interviewing for residency positions. She has a total of 10 interviews lined up. They include stops in Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee, Ohio, Alabama, North Carolina, Virginia and Georgia. Because I like to travel and enjoy getting out of Somerset any chance I can, I try to accompany her on some of these interviews.

Last weekend, after we went to the celebration at Arise, we departed for Richmond, VA. Natalie was interviewing with the Pediatrics Department at Virginia Commonwealth University. Neither of us had ever been to Richmond (although one of my best friends, David Boyden is originally from there), so we were looking forward to checking the place out. While Nat interviewed, I spent the day hanging with two guys I was on staff with at UGA basketball. Natalie and I did not know what to expect from VCU or Richmond but we loved it. The city was very nice and Nat had a great interview. Ironically, the director of the program has adopted four children from Russia and runs a clinic for adopted kids in Richmond. Of course, her and Nat hit it off.

We departed Richmond and headed for Eastern Carolina University in Greenville, NC. Natalie really liked the program and the people there, but I did not like Greenville at all. My new rule is if I have to travel to your "city" and must take a two-lane road for 20 miles to get there, you do not live in a city. Greenville is out in the middle of nowhere.

Nat's interview ended at 2pm on Tuesday and we had to drive straight back because we both had to work on Wednesday. Unfortunately, the remnants of Hurricane Ida decided to bombard NC, VA, and TN that day. It rained (not sprinkled or drizzled) the entire trip. To compound problems, several weeks ago a major rock slide on the NC/TN border forced the shut down of Interstate 40 in both directions. This, of course, happened to be the route we should have taken. Instead, we made what would look like a rhombus or trapeziod over the mid-Atlantic.

Total Miles in 3 days: 1300

Total Gas Money: $140 (thank God for tiny Nissan Sentras)

Total Rain: a lot

Funniest Part of the Trip: we were completely slap happy somewhere in NC and decided to play the name game. I'm not sure if you know how to play it but it begins with one person saying the name of someone they know or a celebrity. The next person has to name a different person with either the same first or last name. Here was, by far, the funniest sequence:

JT: Ricky Martin
Nat: Donna Martin (from 90210)
JT: Felice Martin (Donna's mom)
Nat: Doc Martin (the shoes)
JT: Dr. John Martin (Donna's dad)

Yes, we watch too much TV.
First, the good...

Natalie and I travelled to Louisville last Friday (11/6) to attend the one year anniversary celebration of Arise Adoptions Inc ( In their first year of operation, Arise was able to bring 35 children home to 25 families. How amazing is that? We were able to meet with Susan, the director, and meet many of the families that have used Arise.

After the celebration, we went out to dinner with Paul, Bethany, Camden, and Lincoln ( We were able to ask them questions about the adoption process and spend some time with their newly-adopted sons. They are two of the sweetest and coolest kids I have met. Lincoln or "Baby" as he is called loves to eat, so he sat next to me at dinner and coerced me into giving him some of my food! After this night, Natalie and I knew that adoption from Ethiopia is in our NEAR future. It confirmed all of our feelings.

We decided that we want to work with Arise especially when we discovered they can help us even if we leave KY (which is a distinct possibility with Natalie's impending residency). We scrounged together some money and completed our application. It will be mailed to Susan at Arise in the next few days!!! I hope they like us.

And the bad...

Natalie and I are starting to realize what a massive undertaking international adoption really is. I have been down in the dumps for the past two days when I think of the huge amount of money it costs to adopt. Natalie will be a doctor in one month but she doesn't get paid like a doctor yet and will not for six more years. This makes paying for an adoption very difficult. The only thing keeping me sane is knowing that if God wants this adoption to happen, my lack of funds cannot and will not stop it! Also, the amount of paperwork involved is mind-blowing. I wish that teenage boys and girls had to fill out these forms before they could have children. This mountain of paperwork would be instant birth control.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


That is a logical question. It is especially true when someone tells you they are going to do something crazy like adopt a child from a third world country. This is not a spur of the moment decision for Natalie and I. We have discussed international adoption from the beginning of our marriage 6 1/2 years ago. We always assumed that we would have our own biological children first, then adopt. How selfish of a "dream" that seems to us now. Our plans quite often do not match up with God's.

Natalie will complete med school in December and begin her three year pediatrics residency in June 2010. It will be very difficult, if not impossible, for Nat to be pregnant during her residency. We have struggled with choosing the right time to start a family as there never seemed to be the right moment. About two months ago, Natalie met a man named Paul through her work. They were making small talk when Paul told Nat that he and his wife had adopted a set of brothers from Ethiopia to add to their family of five. Almost simultaneously, I began to think that now would be a good time to start our family. I told Natalie that I would never ask her to go through a pregnancy during her residency and we both decided that we should look into the adoption route to begin our family. We were blindsided by how quickly we realized that God was calling us to do this. There is no looking back now. This is our destiny. We have no idea where our child is now. Is he/she alive already? Is he/she suffering? We have no idea what he/she will look like (although I am sure he/she will not inherit my lack of pigment-haha). What we do know is that he/she is deeply loved by his/her Mom and Dad. It is so surreal to type that but, as I said before, it is what God wants us to do- and do it now.

There are certain questions that I am sure you are wanting to ask us. Let's go ahead and answer them...
"Why is this blog titled '5 Million Minus 1?'" It is estimated that there are 5 million orphans in Ethiopia. That is greater than the population of Los Angeles (which is second largest city in the US). Stop and try to imagine that. That is only Ethiopia. We are trying to make a VERY SMALL dent in a VERY BIG problem.

"How much money is this going to cost?" The real, organic answer is we don't care. Our child is half a world away. We are prepared to do whatever it takes to rescue our child from the dreadful amount of suffering that is going on in Ethiopia. Now, those of you who know me know that I strive to be a pragmatist. I know that my love for this child will not pay for all the fees associated with an international adoption. The amount of debt that Natalie and I have accrued while she worked to become a doctor is astronomical. Dave Ramsey would faint if he had to check our finances. We are told it costs between $15,000 and $20,000 to adopt from Ethiopia and we do not have one cent of that. What we do know is that $20,000 is nothing to God. The money will take care of itself.

"Why Africa?" I could write for days on this question. The situation in Africa and Ethiopia specifically is staggering. I challenge you to google "orphans in Ethiopia" or "AIDS in Africa." If you are not blown away by the destruction, poverty, and death that is occurring in that beautiful continent, then you have no heart. We have read that only 1/6 of Ethiopian children have access to clean drinking water. Read the quote by Rich Stearns at the bottom of our page. That sums up the way we feel.

"How long is the process?" We are told that it normally takes between one and two years from the beginning of your journey to the time when you can travel to Ethiopia and pick up your child. I am told that the first thing you realize on this journey is that you are not in control of the process and it is very frustrating and wrought with unexpected delays that test your patience and faith.

On Friday, November 6th, we will attend a meeting with an adoption agency in Louisville to meet some families who have adopted from Ethiopia. We are really looking forward to meeting these awesome families and having some of our questions answered.