Big News: OUR DOSSIER IS IN ETHIOPIA!!! Somewhere in Addis Ababa is a packet of papers that will change a lot of lives. We now await a court date to officially adopt Tedi. After we pass court, we travel to get him in 6-8 weeks. It could take us two weeks to get a court date or it could take six months. You never know. Having said that, it seems throughout this entire process, God has been saying loudly that He wants Tedi home quickly. The only thing left for Natalie and I to do is to pay the remainder of our agency fees and then pay for travel. The amount is still daunting but we know that God knows exactly where every penny is and will bless us with it in His time.
For those of you that did not know, Natalie and I attended the Adopting for Life Conference this past weekend (info here: http://events.sbts.edu/adopting-for-life/ ). It was held at the Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville and hosted by Dr. Russell Moore, a dean at STBS and minister at Highview Baptist Church. Moore has written what is probably the foremost book on Christian adoption, called Adopted for Life. This book tells not only of Moore's experience of adopting two sons from Russia but also delves into the theology of adoption. By this, I mean that Moore lays out the reasons why Christians are called to care for orphans. The book is a slow, deep read. My friend Phillip tried to read this book while trying to read 52 books in one year and he said this book was the most difficult. I encourage everyone to read it but don't expect it to be light and fluffy. It is definitely dense and tedious.
Moore spoke to the 400-500 attenders on Friday night. I didn't think it was going to turn into a sermon and I didn't know how it would turn out. Having been raised in church and attending a Christian HS for twelve years and college for two years, I have heard a lot of sermons. Moore knocked it out of the park. He gave the best presentation of the Gospel I think I have ever heard. Here are a few things he hit on:
-He spoke about the church's not-so-distant history of turning a blind eye and deaf ear from social injustice. Unfortunately, this message still needs repeating in a lot of churches in America.
-He said that you cannot separate God's message from social injustice.
-He detailed how our treatment and adopting of orphans is a tangible example of God's love for us. Moore believes (as we do) that if you believe the Gospel, you must be driven to adopt.
-Prosperity and an apathetic attitude kills just as HIV and Malaria do.
On Saturday, we got to listen to David Platt speak. If Moore's talk was an "A," then Platt's was an "A+." He is young (compared to me) as he is 31. He lives in Birmingham, AL and has adopted one son from Khazikstan and is in the process of adopting a child from Nepal. A few of his points were:
-God ALWAYS knows what He is doing. This was especially poignant to those of us that have attempted to have biological children and have been plagued with infertility.
-God often sets the stage for triumph and faithfulness with suffering and intense sorrow.
-The American church is not a reflection of James 1 and 2. Sidenote: if you want to rock your world and the way you view your church, read these two chapters.
The agency that we are adopting through had a booth in the Exhibit Hall. It was good to see Susan, Pat, and Cindy. We were able to talk to Susan a little bit about Tedi. She tells us that he is a very sweet boy. We love the people that make up Arise Adoptions. It is an amazing organization that has accomplished great things in just 15 months. Arise's website, if interested is here: http://www.ariseforchildren.org/
There were many other cool organizations on hand. Natalie and I have applied for some adoption assistance with several companies and two of them were present. We met Lindsey, her husband Chris, and their beautiful daughter from Guatamela, who work with Show Hope, an adoption aid organization started by Steven Curtis Chapman (the very successful Christian singer). We also met Leah and Christi who work with Life Song, an adoption aid organization located in Illinois. I was glad we got to meet these wonderful people and share a bit more of our story with them. I feel it is hard to tell our wonderful adoption story through the applications we filled out. I mean, there is only so much my 2007 Tax Return says about my love for orphans!
We also had numerous friends that attended this conference, especially from our days at WKU. It is always good for the Toppers to represent! We also got to see several families that have adopted from Arise or are in the process. One couple, William and Charis have their second court date (they did not pass the first time) on Friday. We are hoping they officially get their little girl. Please keep them in your prayers.
The most exciting thing for Natalie and I is that we have friends and acquaintances who are talking more about adoption and orphan care. We are not claiming any of the credit for people considering adoption (all that goes to God placing the desire and burning in someone's heart), but I think that the church is slowly starting to realize that "we" have neglected the subject of adoption for too long. Our goal in this entire process has been to obviously bring Tedi home, but additionally, to be used by God to bring attention to the desparate need (in Africa especially) that exists in our world.
After we left the conference, we dropped off T-Shirts to James and Brittney Armstrong. They adopted a baby boy named Dawit from Ethiopia just one month ago. We had never met them but we have both followed each other's blogs for some time. Dawit is one of the cutest babies ever. His picture with our T-Shirt is below. James and Brittney also told us more information regarding Tedi. They said he is very sweet and quiet (he takes after Natalie in both regards). We asked them many questions about their trip to Ethiopia. They are a great resource for us. It's so refreshing to see people on the other side of adoption. It proves to us that all the hassle and paperwork is worth it when we get to hang out with little ones like Dawit. I think he looks pretty cool in our shirt!