Posts tagged #south africa


I remember where I was when I heard the news exactly one year ago. I was taking a break from crazy cleaning our house when I turned on my phone and opened the CNN app. Above all of the other news stories, there was the headline: Nelson Mandela had passed away. 

We had known for quite some time that we were planning on adopting from South Africa. We had started research into the history and culture. The history in the past 50 years culminated around one man, Nelson Mandela. 

When I sat down to think about the ramifications his death would have on a country we had grown to love, I was struck with the thought that our children, unless they were babies, could possibly remember this day in great detail. Those caring for them could be in mourning. The orphanage could take on an atmosphere of loss. 

We all have moments we remember very clearly. My grandparents remember where they were when they heard Kennedy was shot. I remember with great detail where I was when I heard about the Twin Towers falling (third period German class). I wonder if our kids will remember where they were when they heard the news about Mandela.

I am thankful that God put such a man in South Africa at the right time. Oppression had gone unchecked for far too long. So many people were able to rally around Mandela who spent 27 years of his life in prison. When he was released, he was an integral part in overthrowing the apartheid. He was a man who loved his countrymen and fought for their freedom and liberties. Lord willing, the influence he had on the country he loved will continue on and bless many generations to come.

Posted on December 5, 2014 and filed under anniversary, adoption, South Africa.

One year later

One year ago, I clipped the envelope holding our adoption application onto our mailbox. I remember waiting with eager anticipation to watch the mail man grab it and walk away. Thus began our adoption process. It was a quiet beginning and has had ups and downs since. One whole year...

It is a bittersweet anniversary. When we started this process last December, we thought we would be in South Africa by now, meeting our kids, and being parents. We've since learned that was a misunderstanding on our part, but it doesn't diminish the hope we felt in this being a quick process.

It is a sweet moment, too, because more than anything I'm learning the Lord's timing is best in this process. In the year we've been walking this path, we've prayed over seven children and felt they were not our kids. I cannot wait for the day when the Lord answers our prayers to show us who are kids are supposed to be. God's timing is perfect, so the fact that we are not in South Africa right now means that this moment, being lived right here in Aurora, Illinois, is best.

For those of you still praying with us and encouraging us as we wait on the Lord, thank you. Your kind words, prayers, and listening ears are invaluable. You mean more to us than you know and your part in our adoption story is essential.

Posted on December 4, 2014 and filed under adoption, season of waiting, South Africa.

African Safari

This weekend was a whirlwind trip up to Rochester, MN to visit my side of the family. My paternal grandmother (Grandma Cookie) just moved into assisted living and her home (which she had lived in for 60+ years) had been sold. I've spent many good times in that home and I really wanted to see it one last time before it was handed over to the buyer. The home needs a lot of work, so it is going to be flipped and will never look the same. 

Grandma Cookie's kitchen wall - it has looked this way as long as I can remember.

Grandma Cookie's kitchen wall - it has looked this way as long as I can remember.

Living in a home for that long and never throwing anything away makes for a busy weekend. There was a garage sale and the home was quickly being cleared out to make way for the new owners. One great find - BAGS of beanie babies. While many people were giving their beanies away, throwing them away, or selling them, my grandma saved them all. So when my uncle asked me if I wanted any, I jumped at the chance. We now have a full African safari of animals.

We grabbed any animals that are found in Africa, or more specifically in South Africa. When we were picking out animals, Brian grabbed the mongoose, of which we weren't sure there were any in South Africa, because he hates snakes. I just looked and there is a mongoose native specifically in South Africa. (Brian will be happy to hear there are creatures eating the numerous [venemous] snakes that live in South Africa.) I'm excited for our kids to play with this set. I'm already thinking through other things that could make the safari more fun, but I think we're off to a good start.

Posted on October 14, 2014 and filed under adoption, season of waiting, preparing for kids.

World Quilt

When we met with our social worker for our final home study interview, she warned of the time that lay ahead that would just be waiting. As our dossier paperwork is coming to an end, the waiting is drawing closer and closer. I've never done well with just waiting, so she suggested having a project to do to keep me busy during this season. 

I really wanted to make a quilt that was modern and something we would have for years to come. After scouring Pinterest for a couple of hours, I found a pixelated world map quilt I wanted to make. I contacted the designer and asked to purchase the pattern. Unfortunately, she does not sell the pattern. So I began scouring again. I found nothing I liked. Thankfully, a wonderful woman at our church, who has agreed to teach me how to quilt, found a great pattern. I liked it a lot because it is easily personalized. (I'll be adding photos of my progress as I go along.)

Today I am starting my first quilt. I am excited to have something tangible to do during this season of waiting. I am excited that when this season is done, I will have something to wrap my kids in and keep them warm. I am excited to pray for them and for us as I work on this quilt, for when God knits our family together through adoption. Can you tell I'm excited?

Posted on August 13, 2014 and filed under adoption, dossier, season of waiting, South Africa.

A Light at the End of the Tunnel

I don't know if you've ever driven through a long tunnel, but I remember as a kid always feeling a little uneasy. It was typically as we were driving through a mountain that we encountered these tunnels. I would imagine the entire mountain caving in on us as we were driving through its belly. From the moment we entered the tunnel to the moment we left, I slackened my seatbelt so I could lean towards the middle of the car to have a clear view of what was ahead. The uneasiness would always lighten when I saw the pinhole of light coming from the end of the tunnel. That's how I feel now.

I've been walking through a bit of darkness and a little bit of feeling hopeless amidst the sea of paperwork that needs to be done. One of my (MANY) failings is that I don't finish a lot of things I start, and I was very fearful I wouldn't have the drive to finish all of this paperwork. But God being so gracious has helped me to press on. He gave me hope it could be done when I struggled to believe and a husband who encouraged me to press on.

No--the dossier is not done, but after being in the dark for some weeks, I see a light at the end of the tunnel. My soul feels lighter knowing this hurdle is almost done. In a small way, I have begun to cherish this season of our adoption because I know what comes next—waiting. 

Posted on August 9, 2014 and filed under adoption, dossier, paper pregnancy, South Africa.

A Dossier Update

I keep thinking I'm going to do better at updating this blog, but then there's nothing to write. I don't want to bore you with the mundane, but that's where we find ourselves most often. We've been plugging away at our dossier paperwork. I had hoped to get everything done by the end of July, but that's just one more thing I can chalk up being out of my control.

Tomorrow afternoon we are going in to do fingerprinting for our visa request for our child(ren). I am hoping we will get a competent government employee who is able to get everything right the first time. It might be too much to ask!

Other than that, Brian has been busy with work, I've been busy with paperwork, I need to clean my desk and I'm losing the battle to weeds in my yard. I honestly cannot believe that it is almost August! Where does time go?? Ok...rambling aside, I appreciate all of you asking how the adoption process is going and look forward to having a better report once our dossier is getting close to being done.

Posted on July 27, 2014 .

Learning to Trust the Lord

Our home study visit (the last one) got postponed a week. Our social worker's son has the stomach flu. While this is a perfectly reasonable reason, it really frustrated me. I wasn't frustrated with our social worker or her son, but after thinking through it, I was frustrated because I was not in control. We have been planning on this visit for six weeks. I had been cleaning our house furiously all day long. It was a rough combo.

As someone who is prideful, I think I know the best plan for my life. I want to know what is coming up next, when, and what to anticipate. This adoption process has made me face my sinfulness over and over again. Never before has the theme "Trust the Lord" become so prevalent in my life. Never before has that mantra pushed me far beyond my borders of comfort. It is often a war zone in my mind when I start worrying about the things I cannot control.

"How long is this process going to take?! Probably forever..." Trust the Lord.

"Are we going to adopt one or two? What are their stories?" Trust the Lord.

"Where are my kids right now? Are they being cared for and loved? Do they have enough to eat?" Trust the Lord.

"What is life going to be like when they come home? I've never been a mom and now I'm jumping in and mothering kids who have had difficult lives. Am I going to be any good?" Trust the Lord.

I'm sure we all can relate to this, even if you are not adopting. What is it in your life that you hold close to your chest? What is it that you say you trust the Lord about, but when He tries to change anything, you are faced with the reality that you want your own way? It is hard giving things completely to the Lord, but when I finally do, it is something I never regret.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5 (ESV)

Prayer Requests

  • We were given a list of things to do between now and next week's visit. Pray we will complete everything as quickly as possible. 
  • Pray that, through this process, we would learn to trust the Lord and not lean on our own understanding.
Posted on March 12, 2014 and filed under adoption, home study, South Africa.

Quiet Book - First Page

So much is out of my control in this process. I don't know the ages or genders of our children. I don't know if we will adopt one or two (we are hoping for two). I don't know if we will be moving to another house before we go to South Africa. The biggest unknown: how long this process will take. As there is so much I don't know and so little I can do to prepare (at this point) for the changes ahead, I've decided to do what I can—craft!

Today I started crafting a quiet book. This past Wednesday I spent some time on Pinterest pinning all of my favorite sheets for the book (seen here). I'm planning on making some basic sheets (shapes, colors, letter recognition, counting), but I'll also be making some adoption specific pages.

The first page I made was a shapes page. It was good to get back into the swing of using the sewing machine. All that is left to add to this page are attach the snaps on the pieces and add the grommets so I can bind the book.

I'm excited to be able to work on something my child(ren) will benefit from.


Posted on February 15, 2014 .

Home Study Interviews

Tomorrow morning, Brian and I will be heading to Palos Heights. It is the first of four interviews needed to complete the dossier (explained here). This first interview will be conducted with both of us. The next two will be individual. To wrap it all up, we will have our final interview, March 12th, at our house.

We are nervous about these interviews because we don't know what all to expect. We know there will be a lot of questions, we just don't know which ones. 

Prayer Request

  • That would have calm hearts in the midst of these interviews and we could think clearly as we answer the many questions.
  • That the Lord would begin leading the social workers to the right kid(s) for us. They will be the ones pulling files and suggesting kid(s) to us. We trust the Lord will lay the kid(s) for us on their heart.
Posted on February 3, 2014 .

(Not so patiently) Waiting

Our home study paperwork was sent in three weeks ago today. We were supposed to receive a call at some point last week. This did not happen. Apparently the woman confused us with another couple and was waiting for my birthday to pass before calling—we would have been waiting quite some time!

Brian was able to wrangle a time out of them for our first home study interview, to take place next Tuesday in Palos Heights. Our final interview will be March 12th and take place in our home. This, in my humble opinion, is not happening quickly enough. If ever there was a time that my lack of patience was exposed, it is happening in this process.

Prayer Requests

  • Our home study interviews would go well and be scheduled quickly (we still have 1-2 left to schedule between next week and March 12th).
  • For patience. The stop and go of this process is driving me bonkers.
  • That our kids would be waiting for us and we would be matched with them quickly.
Posted on January 27, 2014 and filed under adoption, home study, South Africa.

Reading in the New Year

I know that once we carry our child(ren) out of the orphanage, our time will no longer be our own, so I want to spend this year reading as much as I can. Here is my super ambitious reading list for 2014. I don't anticipate finishing all of it, but here's hoping!

(READ indicates books I've finished.)


Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child (Cogen) 
Shepherding a Child's Heart (Tripp)
The Connected Child: Bring Hope and Healing to Your Adoptive Family (Purvis)
Everyday Talk: Talking about God with Your Children (Younts)
Give Them Grace (Fitzpatrick)
Glimpses of Grace (Furman)
Come Rain or Shine: A White Parent's Guide to Adopting and Parenting Black Children (Garlinghouse) READ
Adoption Is a Family Affair! (Johnston) READ


The Hobbit (Tolkien)
The Count of Monte Cristo (Dumas)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkeban (Rowling)
The Divergent Trilogy (Roth) READ
Pilgrim's Progress (Bunyan)


Feminine Appeal (Mahaney)
The Christian in Complete Armour v. 2 (Gurnall)
The Heart of Christ (Goodwin)
Treasuring God in Our Traditions (Piper)
Pierced for Our Transgressions (Jeffery, Ovey, Sach)
The Praying Life (Miller)

Ridiculously Hilarious Category

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) (Kaling) READ



Posted on January 22, 2014 and filed under adoption, South Africa, reading.

Paper Pregnancy

Home study paperwork.jpg

On Sunday night, we finished out paperwork for the home study. It was quite the labor of love. It included things that needed notarization, lots of checking boxes, many signatures and dates, and the longest paper I have written since I left college (10 pages to be exact). I even had to get a physical for this thing—drug test and TB shot included. I am really starting to understand the term 'paper pregnancy'*. 

We had a brief scare today because when we entered our tracking number for the envelope, and it didn't show up. We thought it may have been lost. We prayed and waited. Then, as if the USPS website came back to life in an instant, our package showed that it would be delivered either today (Tuesday) or tomorrow (Wednesday). Yay!

Next up: We will schedule three interview sessions - two at the Bethany offices and one in our home. These interviews, along with the paperwork we sent in, will be the basis for our dossier. 

Prayer Requests:

  • That we would be able to schedule these interviews soon and they would go smoothly.
  • For my job - My hours were cut from two days down to one. This is to be expected as Office Max Naperville is closing, but still unfortunate. I'm praying the Lord will provide another job, equally as awesome as this one.


*Paper pregnancy is the term used to refer to the paperwork in the adoption process that leads to the child(ren) adopted, much like a physical pregnancy.

Posted on January 14, 2014 and filed under paper pregnancy, adoption, South Africa.

Sick Sunday

Well, this week was great for me, right up until Wednesday (Christmas) evening when I started feeling sick. Brian woke up Tuesday morning feeling ill, and promptly passed it all to me. He has since started feeling better, but I am feeling worse (if that is possible). Thankfully, I have a wonderful husband who is taking care of me and able to think straight, when I cannot.

This past week, along with fighting germs, we worked on our special needs checklist. This is a form where you go through a long list of illnesses, deformities, and special needs and say "yes", "no", or "willing to discuss" to each. This was the form we knew was coming, but it didn't make it any easier to fill out. The thing that made it so hard was knowing that if we had a biological child, we would welcome the child with any of these diseases or deformities. So we trekked through the form, with the help of WebMD and Mayo Clinic, and checked off all of the things we would be willing to accept.

Prayer Requests

  • Please pray that, as we pray over this list, the Lord would make it clear we've checked "yes" or "no" on all of the special needs we should have.
  • Please pray that we both would continue to recover quickly from the plague that has settled itself over our home.
Posted on December 29, 2013 .

Adoption 101

Last night we had our first class through our agency, Bethany Christian Services. It was a good time of review, as most of what was discussed, we already had considered and talked about between the two of us. I especially appreciated seeing and hearing from other couples that are now walking down the same path we are. 

While we were there, we received a monstrous envelope filled with paperwork we will need to fill out (basically writing a novel) and legal documents we will need to hunt down in order to begin the home study process. 

We are excited to start this next step in our journey. This is a big one as it will result in our dossier (informative essay/documents sent to South Africa) being completed. It is my understanding that once we've finished this step, we will be eligible to be placed with a child!

Prayer Requests

  • That we would be able to set aside large chunks of our time to complete this paperwork and send it in.
  • That the Lord would protect us as we are seeking to do something we know He has called us to.
  • As we were driving home last night, our car died and had to be towed to a shop. Please pray that repairs would be quick and cheap, and that we would not be discouraged by disruptions in day-to-day life during this exceptionally stressful and hectic time.
Posted on December 17, 2013 .

Details, Details, Details

We've been asked a lot of questions lately, and there's a lot of overlap in curiosity. Here are the basics of what we have so far, and how you can be praying for us specifically:


We are open to a sibling group up to age eight, with medical and/or physical special needs.


We are really hoping, and would love your prayers to this end, to bring these kids home by the end of 2014, which may mean Christmas in Africa! 


We are really interested in adopting from South Africa. Brian is able to work remotely, which would be helpful in the 5-7 week stay to pick up the kiddos. We love the idea that we would have the opportunity to experience the culture our children would be coming from, maybe even pick up some of the language.


We want to adopt first because we feel strongly called to it. Adoption is not for everyone, but we believe it is for us. We were listening to the book Adopted for Life, by Dr. Russell Moore, and both felt strongly this was how God wanted to grow our family.


  • Pray that we would have favor from the governments and this process would go quickly, allowing our kids to be home by the end of 2014.
  • Please pray for us as we begin the steps of this process. Monday, December 16, is our first class (Adoption 101).
Posted on December 14, 2013 .