Monday, January 31, 2011

What's in an [Ethiopian] Name?

We have gotten a lot of questions regarding William's name.  Some people thought we should have kept his African name as his first name, others did not think we should.  Ultimately, we decided to name him William Nebiyu.  William is Billy's real name and means "brave, strong, courageous" and Nebiyu (neb-uh-you), his given African name, means "the prophet."  A lot of thought, prayer & discussion went into this name and we are happy with it.  The following are facts that influenced our decision (these are sections from a document created by Susan Poisson-Dollar, an AAI staff member)...

"In Ethiopia, a first name is given to a child at birth; the father’s name is used as a surname. It is common for the child to have a pet family name, as well as a name used by friends, and perhaps even another name used by others in the community or at school. For example, a child named “Ejigayehu” might be called “Mitu” (little one) by family members and “Gigi” at school.

Recognition of cultural link: For some children, a name may be the only meaningful cultural connection they bring to their new country and family. Thus, keeping the name may help preserve the child’s connection to her birth country. This may be why many parents retain the child’s birth name as at least a middle name.

Meaning: Many Ethiopian names have beautiful meanings and some parents have loved the significance of their child’s name (eg. Yabsira, “gift from God,” and Bedilu, “with luck, by chance”). Other names are Biblical and the spelling can easily be changed to reflect the common pronunciation in the U.S. or to retain the Ethiopian pronunciation if desired.

Name unusual or difficult to pronounce: Ethiopian names may look strange and hard to pronounce. A parent’s own experiences with “weird” or “unpronounceable” names and desire to make their child’s transition easier can influence the decision. For example: Ejigayehu (eh – gee - GAH – hu) or Getachew (geh - TAH – chuh).

Desire to “claim” their new child: It is very natural for adoptive parents to have a strong feeling about giving their adoptive child a name in the same way a birth parent does. In addition, parents may want to honor someone special (grandparent, uncle, etc.), to give the child a special “tie” to their new family Many adoptive parents do choose a new “American” middle name for their child even if it is not the commonly used name.

Name was not given by birth parents: This is common in cases where infants have been abandoned and named at the orphanage, police department or other welfare agency.

Concern about future job discrimination: Parents may wish to help avoid negative stereotypes associated with ethnic names. There is research that shows that even in 21st century America your name can impact your ability to get a job. That is, people with African or Hispanic names (like Kanesha and Pablo) may be less likely to get an interview based on the exact same resume as somebody named Joe Smith or Mary Jones.

Age considerations: A younger child may have less association with the name he has been called, especially with the tendency by Ethiopians to use nicknames generously. An older child may have a strong attachment to her name and be more willing to accept an American name if involved in the decision-making process."

Friday, January 28, 2011

Shep Prays

Without our prompting, Shep knelt down one night, folded his hands, and said, "Let's pray.  God.  Jesus.  AMEN!" 

What is so interesting about this is that he has never seen us pray this way. 

Yes, we pray at the dinner table together, but never kneeling and never with folded hands.  How he was prompted to pray like this, we can only speculate.  God works in mysterious ways. 

Needless to say, we have added prayer to Shep's bedtime routine and a "[Children's] Bible & Breakfast" time in the morning, now that Shep has shown us he is ready.

"and a little child will lead them..."
~ Isaiah 11:6

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Adopting a Child With Special Needs

What follows is a devotion from one of my favorite devotional books (Keep a Quiet Heart by Elizabeth Elliott).  It is a copy of a letter Elizabeth's friend wrote to encourage a family whose son had just been born without arms or legs.  But, for me, it is {eerily} timely encouragement as we prepare to welcome our baby boy who has some special needs of his own.  As his arrival draws near, my excitement is mixed with self-doubt.  Are we prepared to do this?  Are we capable?  Have we bit off more than we can chew?  Will he "catch up" or will his developmental delays become life-long struggles?  I am reminded of God's plan and purpose for William and for our family as I read this letter:

"The first thing I would say is that all that this entails is at least one hundred times harder on the parents than the child. A birth defect by God's grace does not rob childhood of its wonder, nor is a child burdened by high expectations. Given a supportive, creative, and loving family, I know personally that I enjoyed not a less-than-average life nor an average life, but as I've told many, my life has been not ordinary but extra-ordinary.  I am convinced without a doubt that a loving Heavenly Father oversees the creative miracles in the inner sanctum of each mother's womb (Psalm 139), and that in His sovereignty there are no accidents.

"'What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Creator calls a butterfly.' As humanity we see only the imperfect, underside of God's tapestry of our lives. What we judge to be 'tragic--the most dreaded thing that could happen,' I expect we'll one day see as the awesome reason for the beauty and uniqueness of our life and our family. I think that's why James 1:2 is a favorite verse of mine. Phillips' translation put it this way: 'When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives, my brothers, don't resent them as intruders but welcome them as friends.'  

"I love Joni Eareckson Tada's quote...'People with disabilities are God's best visual aids to demonstrate who He  really is. His power shows up best in weakness. And who by the world's standards is weaker than the mentally or physically disabled? As the world watches, these people persevere. They live, love, trust and obey Him. Eventually the world is forced to say, "How great their God must be to inspire this kind of loyalty.'"

Sweet William strengthening those leg muscles

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Adoption Devotion by Max Lucado

With Heart Headed Home

by Max Lucado

Search the faces of the Cape Haitian orphanage for Carinette. She’s been adopted.

Her adoptive parents are friends of mine. They brought her pictures, a teddy bear, granola bars, and cookies. Carinette shared the goodies and asked the director to guard her bear, but she keeps the pictures. They remind her of her home-to-be. Within a month, two at the most, she’ll be there. She knows the day is coming. Every opening of the gate jumps her heart. Any day now her father will appear. He promised he’d be back. He came once to claim her. He’ll come again to carry her home.

Till then she lives with a heart headed home.

Shouldn’t we all? Carinette’s situation mirrors ours. Our Father paid us a visit too. Have we not been claimed? Adopted? “So you should not be like cowering, fearful slaves. You should behave instead like God’s very own children, adopted into his family calling him ‘Father, dear Father’ ” (Rom. 8:15).

God searched you out. Before you knew you needed adopting, he’d already filed the papers and selected the wallpaper for your room. “For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn, with many brothers and sisters” (Rom. 8:29).

Abandon you to a fatherless world? No way. Those privy to God’s family Bible can read your name. He wrote it there. What’s more, he covered the adoption fees. Neither you nor Carinette can pay your way out of the orphanage, so “God sent [Christ] to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children” (Gal. 4:5).

Adopted, but not transported. We have a new family, but not our heavenly house. We know our Father’s name, but we haven’t seen his face. He has claimed us, but has yet to come for us.

So here we are. Caught between what is and what will be. No longer orphans, but not yet home. What do we do in the meantime? Indeed, it can be just that—a mean time. Time made mean with chemotherapy, drivers driving with more beer than brains in their bodies, and backstabbers who make life on earth feel like a time-share in Afghanistan. How do we live in the meantime? How do we keep our hearts headed home? Paul weighs in with some suggestions.

Paul calls the Holy Spirit a foretaste. “We have the Holy Spirit…as a foretaste of future glory” (Romans 8: 23). No person with a healthy appetite needs a definition for that word. Even as I draft this chapter, my mind drifts toward a few foretastes. Within an hour I’ll be in Denalyn’s kitchen sniffing the dinner trimmings like a Labrador sniffing for wild game. When she’s not looking, I’ll snatch a foretaste. Just a bite of turkey, a spoon of chili, a corner of bread…predinner snacks stir appetites for the table.

Samplings from heaven’s kitchen do likewise. There are moments, perhaps far too few, when time evaporates and joy modulates and heaven hands you an hors d’oeuvre.

• Your newborn has passed from restlessness to rest. Beneath the amber light of a midnight moon, you trace a soft finger across tiny, sleeping eyes and wonder, God gave you to me? A prelibation from heaven’s winery.

• You’re lost in the work you love to do, were made to do. As you step back from the moist canvas or hoed garden or rebuilt V-eight engine, satisfaction flows within like a gulp of cool water, and the angel asks, “Another apĂ©ritif?”

• The lyrics to the hymn say what you couldn’t but wanted to, and for a moment, a splendid moment, there are no wars, wounds, or tax returns. Just you, God, and a silent assurance that everything is right with the world.

Rather than dismiss or disregard such moments as good luck, relish them. They can attune you to heaven. So can tough ones.

“Although we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, [we] also groan to be released from pain and suffering. We, too, wait anxiously for that day when God will give us our full rights as his children, including the new bodies he has promised us” (v. 23).

Let your bursitis-plagued body remind you of your eternal one; let acid-inducing days prompt thoughts of unending peace. Are you falsely accused? Acquainted with abuse? Mudslinging is a part of this life, but not the next. Rather than begrudge life’s troubles, listen to them.

“He will wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, nor pain. All of that has gone forever” (Rev. 21:4 TLB)

Write checks of hope on this promise. Do not bemoan passing time; applaud it. The more you drink from God’s well, the more you urge the clock to tick. Every bump of the second hand brings you closer to a completed adoption.

Blessings and burdens. Both can alarm-clock us out of slumber. Gifts stir homeward longings. So do struggles. Every homeless day carries us closer to the day our Father will come.

Copyright (Thomas Nelson, 2004) Max Lucado

Thursday, January 20, 2011

What Comes Next?

In Ethiopia:

1. The adoption decree is typically released by the clerk’s office 7-20 days after court approval (sometime between Jan. 24-Feb. 7). 

2. The decree is translated/legalized and then a new birth certificate is processed. 

3. The birth certificate is then used to process the passport through immigration. 

4. A medical appointment is completed by a US panel physician at the US embassy. 

5. All of these items are submitted to the embassy and once the embassy staff has reviewed the documents, they "invite the adoptive family to complete the visa process" (in other words,  Billy will be allowed to go get him!). 

 As you can see, there is a lot of room for error in this process, but we are hoping and praying for everything to go smoothly, which would mean William coming home late February.  Ahhh - we're getting close!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

William Nebiyu Clark

This sweet boy is officially our son!  We passed court yesterday and hopefully Billy will be allowed to go pick him up in February.  We will let you know as soon as we are assigned travel dates.  Billy will travel alone this time around & I will stay home with Shep. 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Winter Getaway

After Christmas, we went to Gatlinburg, TN for some great time with extended family, as well as some fun family time for the three of us.  We stayed in the coolest hotel right on a river, called "Riverhouse," complete with breakfast in bed - yum.  It's these little blessings that make life sweet...

Friday, January 14, 2011

Adoption Tax Credit Video

Here is a 7 minute youtube video explaining the adoption tax credit. I am so very thankful for the tax credit, I just can't keep it in!

 If you want to adopt, now is the time, friends.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

New Year's Resolution

I'm not a big goal-setter so I rarely do the whole New Year's Resolution thing. 

But this year, I have been inspired by another blogger to refrain from buying any new clothing for a year.

I think this will aid me in my desire to swim against the tide of consumerism and, obviously, it will save our family a few bucks.  Also, I feel the urge to exercise some self-control every once in awhile, and this will be a good exercise in self-control.

So, it's thrift stores & consignment sales only for this girl this year!  Wish me luck - I'll let you know how it goes...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Adoption Update (some actual news) & Shep Update

Unfortunately, our adoption news is not so great.  Due to a paperwork issue, William will not be coming home until late February or even March.  We are very sad.  This process is full of ups and downs and this is definately a big downer as we were hoping to have William home this month.  Having one little bundle of energy running circles around us does help ease the pain & keep us busy, though.   In fact, as I type, I can hear him rummaging around his room getting into trouble while he's supposed to be napping...

Shep Update:  Shep loves all things "helping" these days.  Not that his helping is always very helpful, but I love that his heart is in the right place.  Here is my little helper baking cookies.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Hanging In There

"When it rains, it pours."  I'll spare you the details but suffice it to say this old adage really hits home for our family over the last month.  We just continually remind ourselves that all of the things that have gone wrong lately are out of our control, yet we find comfort in the fact that God IS in control.

"The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety."
~ George Mueller