Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Inaugurated Orphans Who Eagerly Wait: Adoption, The Nations, and Future Glory

As I was reading Galatians this morning, I noticed one of Paul's common phrases.  In Galatians 5:5, Paul says, "For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness."  Paul's notion of eagerly waiting reminded me of Romans 8 in which this idea of waiting for redemption as heirs and sons is also used.  In Romans 8, Paul points out the difficulties of this world and the fact that the whole creation longs for the day that Christ will return to make all things right.  In Romans 8:23, Paul again points to eager waiting, but puts it in the context of adoption.  He says, "And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies."  In some sense, Paul puts forward an "inaugurated adoptionism" similar to the common theological idea of an inaugurated eschatology.  It is true that we are both already adopted, and according to Paul here, not yet fully adopted.  In other words, there is an adoption that the people of God are eagerly waiting for, namely the final redemption and resurrection of our bodies into a state of future glory as "heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ" (Rom 8:16-17).  So, while we live in the truth of our final adoption decree, we eagerly wait for our final adoption decree.

Going back to Galatians, the phrase "eagerly waiting" is in the context of Paul's ministry to the Gentiles (i.e. the nations).  He argues that in Christ, there is neither circumcision nor uncircumcision, neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, etc.  Basically, there is no racial, gender, ethnic, or national distinction in the inaugurated kingdom of God.  Rather, all are equally valuable to God.  In tandem with equal value, all come to Jesus on the same terms, namely faith.  This is Paul's point in Galatians.  Faith saves us, not the law.  The same Spirit in Romans 8 by which we live is the same Spirit in Galatians 5:5 through whom our eager waiting finds its culmination and validity.  Not only do we wait eagerly depending on the Holy Spirit, but we wait eagerly "by faith."  Finally, that which we eagerly wait for in Galatians is "the hope of righteousness."  In other words, with no racial or ethnic barriers, we, the people of God, wait eagerly for the day when Christ will give the final decree of our adoption and glorification as sons.

I can't help but find parallels to these thoughts in our adoption journey from the Congo.  I can't help but feel like there is a little child in the Congo who is as good as adopted (because Liz and I are coming for him), but has not yet received the final decree of adoption.  I imagine that child eagerly waits for his adoption even if he is not old enough to consciously realize his situation.  Our prayer is that this child will eventually eagerly wait for his adoption as a fellow heir with Christ.  With no racial or ethnic barriers, no Congolese or American labels, Liz and I pray that all our children will eagerly await the day that Christ returns to make all things new.  We certainly recognize that ethnicity is too visible to hide.  But in the inaugurated Kingdom of God we are, by faith, all inaugurated orphans from every tribe, language, people, and nation.  By the Spirit we live, by the Spirit we wait, by faith we walk.

Monday, November 21, 2011

"God-incidents": A Random Meeting with Orphan Care Alliance

I'm always amazed at how God works to orchestrate our lives together, including the details that otherwise would seem insignificant.  On Saturday morning, I was about to leave work when a young lady walked in with a handful of flyers.  I work at an athletic club, so this was not an uncommon scene.  Many folks bring in flyers for 5k's or bike races regularly.  This one was different.  As she was explaining the flyer, I saw on the top of it the logo for Orphan Care Alliance (OCA), the organization that has partnered with Lifesong to provide the matching grant Liz and I just received.  I think I half scared the young lady when I stopped her in mid-sentence to tell her that she could advertise whatever race she wanted to at our athletic club because she was part of the organization that is helping us get our Congolese child home.  Needless to say, we talked for a little but and she left some flyers informing runners about the opportunity to run in the KY Derby Marathon and Half-Marathon with "Team OCA" in order to raise money for Orphan Care Alliance to continue to help people like us advocate for the orphan.

So, there were a couple of reasons for this post.  First, as I said in the opening line, I'm amazed at how God orchestrates our lives to run into people like this in situations where we would normally call it a coincidence or happenstance.  Secondly, I wanted to give you the information to run the KY Derby Marathon with Team OCA.  You can find the info you need at  At this site, you can register for the Marathon and mini-Marathon as well as become a fundraiser for OCA.  You can also simply go here and donate toward OCA's goal.  

Liz and I have talked about running the mini this year.  We'll have to fit it into our busy schedule, but we'll see.  If we do, you can bet you will see more info about how to raise money for OCA.  At the very least, I want to encourage you to check out the website above and pray about how you can contribute to the work that OCA is doing to help families financially bring their kids home.  

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Prayer for the Congo

Here is a good video from PrayerCast on the Congo.  I found this video on the website Operation World, which is a phenomenal prayer resource for the nations.  Hope you enjoy both the video and the Operation World website.  May God bring his glory to the nations and bring the nations to his glory in the face of Christ.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Condition in the Congo

If any of you subscribe to National Geographic, you may have seen the most recent edition in which there is an article on the Albertine Rift in eastern DR Congo (DRC), Uganda, and Rwanda.  This is the area in the DRC where the civil war has had the greatest impact.  The fighting between the Hutu and Tutsi in the 90's during the Rwandan genocide spilled over into the DRC simply because of the small size of Rwanda.  This led to the destruction and mass pillage of the small villages in eastern Congo.  To this day, fighting persists in this mineral rich area.  The warlords (who have the money) force their fellow Congolese citizens into slavery in the mineral mines and they capture, drug, and brainwash young boys (12-14 yrs old) into forced militia service.  They learn to kill and they learn to love to kill.

The National Geographic article doesn't intend to portray the demise of this ravaged area.  The article is about the abundant mineral resources of this area.  However, because of the fighting, these rich mineral resources are often squandered by the government, so this naturally leads to the inclusion of warfare into this article.  Warfare and corrupt government are the primary reason the Congo does not sustain itself economically.  Some have said that the Congo is the most mineral rich country in the world, but because of the political and civil unrest, they are unable (or unwilling) to benefit their nation as a whole; individual warlords take the booty for themselves as they enslave their own people.

As I read this article, I found some interesting "quotables" that I'd like to share.  I've also included some pictures from the National Geographic web article, which can be found here.

"Rule of the gun prevails in North Kivu, a conflict-ravaged province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  The Mai-Mai Kifuafua, one of many local militias, flaunts its power on a road where it extorts money from villagers and travelers.  For nearly 20 years near-constant fighting over land, mining riches, and power has terrorized the people." (caption, pg. 84-85, photo taken by Pascal Maitre)

"A metal-roofed metropolis, Goma sits at the crossroads of conflict in eastern Congo, its population exploding with displaced villagers, soldeirs, profiteers, and aid workers.  The lava-rumpled city sprawls between Lake Kivu, full of dangerous gases, and the restless Nyiragongo volcano."  
(caption, pg. 88-89, photo by Pascal Maitre)

"Crowded and impoverished after decades of war and instability, Uganda, Rwanda, and the DRC rate near the bottom of every index of human development, which measure indicators such as life expectancy, literacy, and income."  (pg. 97, italics added)
DRC fertility rate (children per woman): 6.1
DRC Income per person per year: $300
DRC Life Expectancy: 49 years
 National Geographic cites information in this section from the latest information in 2009.

"1994: Burundi's and Rwanda's presidents are killed in a suspicious plane crash, setting off a three-month rampage in Rwanda.  About a million Tutsi and moderate Hutu are killed during the genocide, and more than two million flee, many into neighboring Zaire (now the DRC).  Paul Kagame leads a Tutsi takeover of the Rwandan government, and Hutu militias retreat to eastern Zaire."  (pg. 98, italics added)

"2010-present: Despite peace agreements, armed conflict continues in the resource-rich DRC.  The ongoing tensions still pit ethnic groups against each other, but underlying the fighting are grievances over scarce land and conflict over mineral profits." (pg. 99)

"Attacked in their homes and fields, impregnated, and often cast off by their families, shattered women bring their babies to meet an aid worker in Shasha in North Kivu, a province terrorized by what activists call Congo's epidemic of rape as a weapon of war.  Soldiers and rebels moving through the area have raped more than 800 women in this village alone."
(caption, pg. 110, photo by Pascal Maitre)

 There is much more in the article than I'd like to put here.  I think we all get the picture though.  The DRC is a difficult place to say the least.  This entire area of Africa is in the same boat as it relates to scarce resources for the common person, but abundant resources for the rich warlords.

The thing that shatters me is that God intends his glory to shine in the DRC, Rwanda, and Uganda as much as he desires his glory to shine in our Sunday morning services.  When will help come to this area?  Who will help this area?

When Liz and I were first praying about adoption from the DRC, we were afraid to travel there.  I spoke with an international lawyer at my work who has done some contract law work in African countries, and he did everything he could to sway us away from adoption in Africa (especially the DRC).  He spoke about the corruption and lack of trust as if these things were the "law of the land" and therefore expected.  Because of the fears to travel to the DRC, Liz and I asked our adoption agency for a reason to adopt from the Congo rather than adopting from another country.  Our hearts were set on the Congo, but we needed someone to tell us it was going to be worth the risk.  They told us that although there are millions of children in the world who need families, the Congo, of any country, is the most torn and desperate place from which to snatch a child.  As Liz and I read more and more about the conditions and situation in the DRC, we are more and more convinced that the Lord has us in this process for his glory to shine through at least one Congolese native.  No one knows exactly what the future will hold for the Congo.  But what we do know is that our God is a good and gracious God who upholds and establishes justice for the fatherless.  May this prove true in the Congo sooner rather than later.

Please pray with us for the unrest in the Congo and for our little guy particularly, that he would be safe until we can get there.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Lifesong Matching Grant: Approved!!!

We want to say thanks to everyone who has been praying for our adoption process, especially regarding the financial aspects of international adoption.  Liz and I found out last week that we were approved for a $3,000 matching grant from Lifesong and Orphan Care Alliance.  You can follow a link to these two ministries in our last blog post.

This morning, we've been drafting a Matching Grant Support letter to send out to folks in an attempt to maximize this matching gift from Lifesong/OCA.  You can find a Dropbox link to our support letter here. If you feel led to give financially to our adoption journey, we would be tremendously humbled and grateful.  All of the instructions should be in the letter.

We would love to keep in touch with everyone who has prayed for us and helped us along the way.  If you haven't received anything from us, we probably don't have your mailing address.  You can send it to us by emailing Adam or Liz and we'll keep you updated on our progress and send you a letter with pictures of our little Congolese guy when our adoption is completed.  As always, you can stay in touch with us through Twitter (@howelladoption) or Facebook (Sojournings - Congo Adoption Page).

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Latest...

So, I think I've discovered that neither me nor my wife are good at this blogging thing.  I supposed we just can't find the time to sit down and relay all of the amazing things that God is doing for us through this adoption process.  Many of you know where we are in the journey, but for those who aren't in our immediate circle, here's an update.  Sorry for taking so long to bring this to you.

After sending in our dossier about 2 months ago, Liz and I were put on a waiting list for a referral of a child.  For those who don't know, a referral is basically where we get the paperwork and as much information as is available on a child in the D.R. Congo.  This is when we will get the chance to review all of the paperwork and decide if we will be a good fit for this child and vice versa.  When we were first on the wait list, we were number 11.  They told us then that the estimated wait time was 6-9 months, so we decided to settle in, read a lot about adoption, and I was going to try to write a dissertation (or at least start).  We expected to move about 2 spots each month if we were going to be on the "fast" end of the spectrum.  In the last two months, we've moved from number 11 to number 5 (six spots!!!).  We've been quite surprised at how quickly we've moved on the wait list, but we are still scared to say that things are moving quickly. We still want our hearts to be content with 9 months if that is how long it will still take.  So, we are currently number 5 on the wait list for a referral of a child.

Once we receive a referral and agree that we are the best fit for this child, we will send our paperwork to D.R. Congo for review and approval by the government.  This process, we are told, will take another 4-6 months before we would travel to pick up our child.  Although this seems like so far away, we are keenly aware of some dear friends who have waited so long to get a referral or to even go pick up their children.  For those who are in that boat, know that Liz and I are praying for you guys.

Financially, the Lord has helped us raise nearly $14,000 now.  We have been blown away by God's grace and provision.  According to our beginning estimated costs, we still lack about $9,000, but I'm sure there will be other expenses that pop up even after that goal is met.  We found out last week that Lifesong for Orphans and the Orphan Care Alliance have given us a matching grant in the amount of $3,000!!! This was amazing news for us, and the next boost in our fundraising endeavor.  With this grant, anything that you feel led to give will immediately be doubled up to $3,000.  Liz and I are currently preparing letters to send out with all of the information about this grant and how you can partner with us to help bring our little Congolese child home.  If you would like to read more about Lifesong for Orphans or Orphan Care Alliance, just click the name and it should take you there.  Liz and I feel unbelievably blessed to have been given this financial gift from these ministries.  Please stay tuned for more information about how you can partner with us to help maximize this matching grant.  Our deadline for the matching funds is December 26th, so we'll be sending letters out soon.  If you haven't gotten anything from us yet, it is probably because we do not have your address.  We'd love to have a way to get in touch with you if you feel led to partner with us.  You can find us on Facebook or just leave a comment here at the blog.

So, there's the update.  The Lord is moving us forward, both in the process and financially.  As always, we covet your prayers.  We leave updates more often on Twitter (@howelladoption) and Facebook, so if you're familiar with those media sites, you can find us there.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Fundraising Golf Scramble? ... Check!

Over the last four months, we have been planning our fundraising golf scramble, and this past weekend, we were able to see the fruits of all that work.  On Saturday, we hosted the Sojournings Adoption Golf Scramble at the Jeffersonville Elks Country Club in Jeffersonville, IN.  It was an amazing day even though the Lord made it very clear around 6:00 that we were DONE with golf for the day.  Most teams finished 15-16 holes of the 18, and then the clouds opened up with some vicious storms.  We had one team still on the course, but they were able to get into a shelter.  Ironically, they were the only team who DIDN'T get wet.  Other teams came blazing into the clubhouse running to get clubs and personal items into the clubhouse before the deluge.  Since we were done with the round of golf, we decided to go ahead and begin raffling off the items people had bought tickets for earlier that day.  My heart dropped because I realized that my raffle list was still in the cart I was driving around.  I blasted out of the clubhouse toward my cart.  I was soaked within seconds, but that bag (with all our adoption paperwork, my computer, chargers, iPod, adoption receipts, records, etc.) HAD to get inside.  I grabbed the bag, darted back inside and laid the bag in the floor, expecting the worst.  As I flipped open the front flap to my Timbuk2 messenger bag, I saw that the only water inside that bag was what was dripping off of my arms and face.  AMAZING.  I got everything out of the bag just to make sure there wasn't a puddle down in the bag... there wasn't a drop from the storm.  So, needless to say, I am thankful to Timbuk2 for making a quality product.  We finally got everyone rallied in the clubhouse and had a wonderful time with the post-round raffles and prize distribution.

All in all, I have to say that I am glad the golf scramble is over.  The Lord was once again tremendously gracious with this fundraiser.  We raised a little over $4,000 on this event.  That includes business sponsors, registrations, games, etc.  It was an administrative/planning fiasco, but the outcome was remarkable and we give praise to God for his provision during this adoption journey.  This event put us over the $12,000 mark, getting closer to our goal of $23,000.  Again, a testimony to the grace and provision of our Lord.

We are thankful to everyone who supported, encouraged, prayed, and helped us with this event.  I could use the rest of the day to think of everyone who helped, and I'm sure I would miss someone.  Liz and I are thankful that you decided to support our adoption journey by playing golf.  Throughout the day, my dad took pictures, some of which you see here.  Liz and I hope to show these pictures to our Congolese baby someday and reminisce about those who helped us get him/her home.  You are amazing, and we thank God for you all.

Update on our Adoption:
Our next major project is to get our dossier paperwork together.  We found out last week that we can go ahead and send in our paperwork and get it in the translation wait line (our dossier has to be translated into French).  This will also get us on the wait list for a child, which we have been told is at about 6-9+ months for a boy infant to 18mos.  With the golf scramble last week, we didn't have time to start getting our dossier together and notarized, so we'll hit that this week.  We also just got confirmation that our Lifesong Grant application was received and is being processed.  We should hear back from them in the next couple of months, and we will let everyone know how that goes.  We also got our appointments for biometric fingerprinting for our USCIS paperwork.  This will be the next step in getting our I-600a processed.  So... all that to say that things are moving right along.  It seems like there is so much to do that the waiting times so far seem short.  I expect that this will be different now that the golf scramble is over and we are submitting our dossier and on the wait list.  We are trusting the Lord with his timing for our journey and look forward to whatever the next step(s) is/are.

Friday, August 5, 2011

New Information on our Adoption Process

Ok, so things just sped up... at least compared to what we were expecting.  We mailed our I-600a to USCIS last Monday (8-1-11), and yesterday (8-4-11), we received our I-797c from USCIS.  This form (I-797c) is really only a recognition that USCIS received our I-600a and that they are going to process it.  (You like all the technical lingo, huh?)  The thing about all these numbers and forms is that we can actually send our dossier to One World Adoption Services (OWAS) to be put in the list for translation.  Once we get them our dossier documents, they will also put us on the wait list for a referral.  Then, once we get our I-171h back from USCIS (the actual pre-approval I think), we will send it to OWAS for translation.  While this is happening, we will be waiting for a referral.  If we get a referral of a child during this time frame, our dossier will be moved to the front of the translation list and we will send our Tribunal Letter to be paired with our dossier and translated.  At that point, it will be a matter of finances and God's good grace to get us to Congo and get our Congolese boy home.

So, what is the time frame, and how has it been sped up?  Good question.  We don't know yet.  But I can't tell you how excited we were to know that we can be put on a wait list this early.  We totally didn't expect that.  It may not mean much even at this point.  We may still have to wait for several months before anything significant can happen, but to know that our dossier can be translated and that we get put on a wait list was encouraging to us.  I suppose the wait list is just that... a wait list.  But it is still movement in the right direction as far as we are concerned.  We're praying diligently that the Lord will continue to help us emotionally through this process and not let the excitement of such news cause us to fall even harder if we get bad news.  In the meantime, we are going to bask in riches of God's mercy to keep us excited about our process.  Please continue to pray with us and we look forward to bringing our Congolese baby home.

Adam and Liz<><

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Fundraising Milestone... and then some.

Sometimes Liz and I sit and wonder why the Lord is so good to us.  We know that his goodness is infinite and it is somehow his delight to care for his children, but we still sit here and wonder, after 4 months in the adoption process, how we have already raised $10,000 of our $23,000 goal.  God is certainly good.  If anything, this milestone shows us that God loves and cares for the orphan and desires that they have a home.  I am consistently drawn to Deuteronomy 10:18, which indicates that God "executes justice for the fatherless."  The execution of justice could mean several different things in this context; legal justice, moral justice, etc.  However, I don't think it is out of the scope of God's execution of justice that financial resources would be pooled together to care for an orphan.  It is just, it is right that God would raise up a group of people (through fundraisers, donations, t-shirt sales, etc.) who are determined to see family-less children have a home.  So, we want you to rejoice with us in God's work in our family and our adoption process.  We ask that you continue to pray for us in or fundraising efforts.  Even though we have passed the $10,000 milestone, we still aren't even halfway there.  We know the Lord will provide for us, and if it is anything like the last 4 months, I can't wait to see what he has in store.  We are humbled, excited, and thankful.

In the midst of our excitement about this fundraising milestone, we know that there is a long way to go.  Here are a few ways you can still help us with this process.

Sojournings Adoption Golf Scramble
August 13th
Shotgun Start at 2:00pm
Jeffersonville, IN Elks Country Club
Registration Deadline is August 6th

Sojournings Shop
We have a sort of online store where you can buy hand-made items.  Most of them right now are afgans that my mamaw made.  We would love for you to see those and if you want any, please let us know.

T-shirt Sale
We just got our order for T-shirts and they are available for $20 each.  We will cover shipping to you if you don't live in the Louisville area.  There are two different colors you can see in the photo.  The Scripture passage under "Defend" is Deut. 10:18.  We have sizes S-XL.

Rossman's Run for Orphans
One of our good friends Matt Rossman is running in the Bluegrass Half-Marathon in Johnson City, TN on September 25 to help us raise money for our adoption.  You can sponsor Matt for a certain dollar amount per mile or you can make a single donation.  The website below will get you to our Paypal button where you can donate.  This was one of the most creative ways I have seen so far to help us out.  We're very grateful to Matt for partnering with us in this way.

Matching Grants
Now that we have gotten our Home Study back (wooohoooo!), we can start applying for grants such as the Lifesong Grant and Show Hope Grant.  A couple of these are matching grants, which means your donation will be doubled up to a certain amount.  These could be huge for our fundraising efforts and we are thankful the Lord has given people like Steven Curtis Chapman a vision to support adoptive families in this way.

There are a few more opportunities still coming we think.  We have some other friends who are trying to organize a "Zumba-thon" at a local Mexican restaurant, and we are potentially going to have a fundraiser night at Chick-fil-a in Clarksville, IN where a portion of the proceeds that night will go toward our adoption efforts.  So, at the end of the day, we have a long way to go, but we are excited to see what the Lord will do.  If you can partner with us in any of these ways, or if you can think of another creative way to defend the fatherless, we would greatly appreciate it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Gospel "Attachment"

This morning, I am reading an education packet about adoption and adoptive parent preparation.  It's for the most part.  It is fairly straight forward parenting issues, but particularly relates to parenting an adopted child.  In the section on attachment I found this sentence.  The author was talking about the "bad" behavior of the child as a result of being fearful of rejection by his new parents.

"Ironically, his negative behavior may be designed, on an unconscious level, to provoke the very rejection he fears.  He is rejecting you before you can give up on him."

This is an interesting thought to say the least.  It is almost reverse psychology from an internal point of view.  The child probably can't express in words the he is doing this.  He can't tell you, "Daddy, I can't appreciate your love for me now because I don't trust that you will always be my daddy.  Because of that, I'm going to hit my new sister."  The child simply can't (and wouldn't) communicate the cause of his behavior in this way.  And yet, I think the sentence above is correct, that the child's rejection of his new parents is pre-emptive of his imagined rejection by his new parents.  The adopted child has potentially been tossed around from orphanage to orphanage.  The child found primary care givers at each of these locations, but shortly after identifying that person he could trust, he was shipped off to another orphanage, another situation, another care-giver.  He fears rejection more than anything, and in order to have the upper hand and be in control of his situation, the child is likely to reject the trust of the parents before they can reject him.

Of course every illustrative situation only goes so far, so take this next thought with a grain of salt.  However, this "internal" reverse psychology from the adopted child is a picture of our "internal" reverse Christianity.  Here's where I'm going with this.  Why do we not seek God's hand for help more often? (i.e. reject his love)  Why do we not look to Christ to fulfill all our longings and desires? (i.e. reject his sufficiency)  Why do we not trust that the Spirit of God will help us in times of need and encourage us in our Christian life? (i.e. reject God's gifts).  We, SPIRITUALLY ADOPTED CHILDREN, are just like all other adopted children.  We are likely, indeed, we are inclined to reject God's merciful hand, because we don't really trust that he will NOT reject us.  We want to be in control of our own situation and we want to decide who even gets the chance to reject us.  Hence, we push God to the side while we fulfill all our earthly desires.  We "reject" God so that he doesn't have the chance to reject us first.

As I said before, the illustrative picture breaks down, but not completely.  As ADOPTED CHILDREN, we don't "reject" God as in rejecting the gospel.  We don't "reject" God as in rejecting his grace and salvation through the blood of Jesus.  What we "reject" is God's continued fulfillment of our needs when we cry out "Abba, Father."  We don't really believe that God can/will work on our behalf for his glory.  Don't get me wrong, we are in the family; we've been ADOPTED and God is faithful to his covenant in Christ.  But we act out in disobedience, unconsciously, thinking that we can somehow control our life to the point that we don't need to be dependent on Christ.  We fear rejection.  And yet, we reject the very one who is able and willing to help us face all our fears.  Paul's argument in Romans 8 (a chapter rich with adoption language) presents the dichotomy of walking by the Spirit or walking by the flesh.  This is the difference between obedience or disobedience.  When we walk by the flesh, we walk in disobedience, relying on ourselves.  When we walk by the Spirit, we walk as those who cry out "Abba, Father," dependent on God's sufficient grace.  In other words, when we walk by the Spirit, we walk as children who are comfortable trusting God with our lives.  We walk as children who are comfortable to be called by a new name; the name our heavenly Father gives us as members of his kingdom.

This sentence from our adoption education materials is written from a child psychology/child development point of view.  And yet is says something significant about our spiritual condition as adopted sons and daughters of the one who defends the cause of the fatherless.  I don't want to proceed in our adoption thinking that I planned our fund raisers, I planned our interviews, I controlled our paperwork gathering, I controlled my life while God stood on the sidelines cheering ME on.  I want to cry out "Abba Father" so often that it becomes a joyful cry.  Will you pray with Liz and me that our hearts would reflect this attitude of dependence on God so that by the gospel we will be "attached"?

Adam and Liz<><

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Adoption Golf Scramble

Once again, an opportunity to raise money to defend the orphan.  For our Congo adoption, Liz and I are hosting a golf scramble on August 13th at 2:00pm in Jeffersonville, IN.  The golf event will be at the Jeffersonville Elk's Country Club.  You can go to to find out more information.  The registration information is there, or you can click on this link to access our registration brochure.  We would greatly appreciate it if you would spread the word about this fundraiser event.  We will be having raffle prizes and prizes for the top 3 winning teams.  Thanks for looking into it and hopefully we will see you there.

Adam and Liz<><

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Another Way to Support Adoption

Many people use handmade crafts or gifts to help support the adoption journey.  Well, count Liz and I into that group now too.  We have set up a website where we will post handmade items that are donated to us throughout our journey.  As of now, we have some blankets (probably more like baby blanket size) that you can purchase to help us with our adoption fundraising.  We have a couple of scarfs from Liz's sister that I haven't been able to get on there yet, and we will have more items later hopefully.  Visit the website to see all the blankets.  Thanks for supporting our journey.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A City not Forsaken

Isaiah 62:12 
"And they shall be called the Holy People, 
The Redeemed of the Lord; 
and you shall be called Sought Out, 
A City Not Forsaken."

I am sitting here listening to a song by Sojourn Music called "A City No Longer Forsaken."  The base passage is Isaiah 62 above and it is a remarkable cry of and for the day when we will be finally redeemed by our Savior.  When we will be given new names in a new city under a new King who rules with love and premier authority.  A couple of lines brought me tears and caused me to continue to repeat the song over and over again.  

"A brand new name
Straight from the mouth of God
The orphaned ones now take
through the waiting years, he preserves his own
in a city no longer forsaken."

We've talked much about the parallel between our adoption in Christ and adopting a child into our family.  I'm always moved and affected by thoughts of the end of the age when Christ will make all things new.  In the same way the Jewish people looked for the Messiah, we wait for our Savior to return and conquer sin and death for good.  When I heard this line from the song, the Lord allowed my mind to connect the longing for Christ to return with adopting an orphan.  I've been given a new name in Christ.  I've been given the name Redeemed, Holy, Sought out.  There is nothing special about the name, "Howell," but this is the name that will be given to our adopted child.  He/She will have a new name as part of a new family, and Lord willing, he/she will also have their new name written in the Lamb's Book of Life.  We can't cause or guarantee our adopted child's salvation, but we are thankful for the opportunity to give a child a new earthly name and to give him/her and environment in which he or she is given the opportunity to respond to the gospel so that he/she too will be given the names Redeemed, Holy, Sought Out.  These thoughts moved me today.  By God's grace he will bring our little one home.  We long for the day when the earth will be called "A City No Longer Forsaken."  

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Prayer Request - Fundraiser Event

We are hosting a fundraiser this Saturday with Jennifer Jacobs from the Biggest Loser this season.  She will be teaching some cycling classes at the Louisville Athletic Club in Clarksville, IN and all proceeds will go to support our adoption.  We are excited and grateful to Jen for being willing to do this for us.  If you are interested in joining us, you can go to to register.

The prayer request, like all other fundraisers, is that the Lord would provide exactly what he intends us to gain from this fundraiser, AND that we would be grateful for whatever that amount is.  When planning a fundraiser, my mind automatically goes to the maximum amount that we could get from it, and most of the time, we just aren't going to reach that maximum.  So, we want to be grateful for what the Lord provides through this event this weekend.  We've asked that the Lord would provide for us, and even if it is only $5 here and there, he is providing.  We want to trust him.  Would you join us in praying for this heart of gratitude?

Adam and Liz<><

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ups and Downs

I have to admit that the adoption process so far has been quite encouraging.  I can't lie to myself and think that in a few months I may feel differently.  However, just to keep everyone up to date with our progress, I would like to share some of our ups and downs in bullet point format.


  • Although we are not there yet, our financial support has been encouraging.  We raised $605 on a yard sale.  We've had several friends give us significant gifts for which we are extremely grateful.  Somehow, a couple of weeks ago, we were able to send in our final home study payment and our first agency payment.  We've had friends tell us that you will not know where all the money came from, but it will come.  This is how we feel even this early. 
  • Along with the first agency payment, we were able to get our dossier checklist.  Even though this was another "checklist" of things to do and paperwork to get, the progress to get this checklist was encouraging.  
  • After reviewing the checklist, I found that many of the documents we need for our dossier to the Congo are contained in our home study.  This means (although I know things will get interesting) that we have a good portion of our dossier together if not completed.  I started a file section in our file folder for "dossier."  This was remarkably encouraging.  The small things mean a lot at this point. 
  • Noah continues to exhibit excitement about having a brother to share a bunk bed with.  I don't know what he will do if we get a referral of a little girl. :-)  
Downs:  Thankfully we have not had many downs at this point, but there are a few.  These may be helpful for others who are considering adopting.  A couple of these have caught me off guard or are surprising.  It should be noted that none of these downs discouraged us nor were we offended by them.  They simply are what they are.  
  • The other day we visited a large, "brand name" book store in TN and after searching and then asking the clerk where the books on adoption would be located, we discovered there were no books on adoption in said book store.  I was shocked to say the least.  
  • When planning and organizing fund raisers, I've found that many times those closest to you are the ones who are least on your side.  This can be a positive "up" too because you also find that those you don't even know are most excited to help you out and support the cause.  We are planning an exercise event with Jen Jacobs from the Biggest Loser, and many of the people I work with, who have the most influence with those who would be interested in this type of event, seem not to care about helping.  As mentioned before, this is neither here nor there, but it just is.  
  • We posted a link on Facebook today to advertise the spinning event with Jen Jacobs, and we got a couple of comments from folks questioning our decision to adopt from the Congo.  I could understand this if we were in a church with these folks and someone was questioning my motive to adopt from a pride/trend point of view.  That's not what these folks had in mind.  I didn't know these folks.  They are not "friends" on Facebook.  I honestly still don't know who they are, but they felt it necessary to post a comment on our link.  This was a little discouraging to say the least, but we trust that the Lord has directed our paths to this point, and we trust him to see it through to completion and to further his kingdom and glory because of it.  That's what God is in the business to do; make himself look wonderful.  
I hope this post is helpful just to keep everyone in the loop on our adoption adventure.  We continue to covet your prayers.  If you would like to know how you can help us, you can read our support letter a few posts below this one, or you can contact us and we will let you know what you can do.  Even if it is not financial, we could probably use some help at our up-coming fundraisers.  Honestly, even a "note-sender" from time-to-time, to encourage us would be nice too.  Thanks for taking this journey with us.  Let us know if we can serve you in any way.  

Adam and Liz<><

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Adoption Fundraising - God is Faithful

There is nothing we have that has not been given to us.  You like the double negative, huh?  This line is at the heart of our fundraising journey.  The most daunting task as Liz and I began the adoption process was finances, but we are finding that the Lord provides in so many ways.  Two days ago, after having an adoption yard sale, we were able to send off our first payments to One World Adoption Services and in return, we got our dossier checklist.  For some reason, this was tremendously exciting to me.  Things are moving forward!!!  We began the journey with a subjugated fear of finances, and within a couple of months, we were able to send our first chunk of money all because of what the Lord has done in your hearts for the sake of the fatherless.  We appreciate everyone who has donated so far.  We thank God for you.

With the riches and mercy of God in mind, we still have a long way to go.  You can see in the column on the right where we stand in the fundraising process.  We never want to be complacent while raising funds, so we first express our thanks to God for his abundant provision.  We also never want to become lazy in our efforts to bring home our Congolese child.  So...  We are hosting another fundraiser on June 4th at the Louisville Athletic Club in Clarksville, IN.

I still have to work out details, but hopefully that will happen today.  Jennifer (Jen) Jacobs from this year's season of the Biggest Loser will be teaching/hosting four spinning classes on June 4th at the LAC in Clarksville.  We have to shore up the times she will teach, but we are more than excited about this opportunity.  We are calling the event "Spin with Jen."  The registration to reserve your spot is $30.  This will reserve your bike in the class and also give you the opportunity to hear some of Jen's story.  Once we finalize details (hopefully today), I will send out more info with a website where you can go to begin your registration.  Please pray for us during this event that even something like a fitness class can be used to bring God glory through orphan care.

More to come!!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Your Turn to Help

Here is a copy of the letter Liz and I sent to many of you.  In this letter, we wanted to express our need for your prayer support primarily.  We also included here the ways that you can help us in the adoption journey.  For anyone who did not receive this letter, I hope all the info is here for you to be able to pray for us and to help out financially if you are able.  We are at a point now where we need a little less than $5000 to move to the next phase of the process.  So, we are trusting the Lord to do great things; even it that means giving us patience to wait on His timing.  We love all of you and look forward to sharing more of this journey with you.

Adam and Liz<><

You should be able to use these links to get to our support letter if you are unable to read the jpegs below.  Feel free to contact us if you have questions.

Congo Support Letter (pg 1)
Congo Support Letter (pg 2)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Updated Prayer Requests

Here is the list of prayer requests we posted a few weeks ago and some of the answers we've received so far.  Thanks for your prayer support on this journey.

  • that God would be the center of all of our decisions and progress 
  • our motive and focus would be the glory of God in the gospel rather than some self-agrandizing, philanthropic endeavor
  • that we would choose the right adoption agency - We were led to One World Adoption Services, Inc. out of Georgia.  A friend of mine who adopted from Ethiopia last year gave us this reference.  We have been more than pleased with all of their help so far.  
  • that we would find the right home study agency - We are currently working with Adoption and Home Study Specialists in Louisville.  They are licensed to do home studies in Indiana and we were referred to them by Families Through International Adoption (FTIA) in Evansville, IN.  Thanks to those guys for the referral.  One of the families in our church (Mark and Ginger Hales) have adopted through FTIA and gave us their contact info.  It's amazing the pathway God uses to get you where you need to be.  A referral of a referral of a referral.  
  • Patience (I [Adam] tend to be task-driven and the hurry up and wait will be difficult)
  • financial support for the adoption (agency fees, legal fees, travel, etc.)
We would appreciate your continued prayers for the items without answers listed above.  Most of these will be continual prayer needs through the process.  Here are a couple you can add to the list.  
  • Pray for swift gathering of documents for the home study, USCIS, and dossier.  These are sometimes dependent on the government agencies issuing the documents and can cause delays. 
  • Pray that our fears about traveling to the Congo would continue to be calmed.  You can read Liz's earlier post about how the Lord has worked in her life in this area.  We do not want to be gripped by fear in this process.  
  • Pray for the transition in our home with Noah and Tovah having a new sibling - and a very different one at that. :-)  
The journey continues...

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A place of dependence...where we need to be!

As we pursue adoption in the Congo I feel God's sovereign hand sanctifying my soul as I slowly start to let Him carry me.  I would be lying to you if I said that I have been joyfully surrendering to the Lord through this whole process.  As the possibilities of us starting the process of adoption came closer I kept feeling strong fears in my heart (The heart is deceitful above all thing and desperately sick Jer 17:9).  I was consumed with negative thoughts and we were faced with so much adversity that I sometimes felt like I wanted to run the other direction. But the Lord has been so faithful!  I was allowing the adversary to distract  me from God's purposes in adoption, yet the Lord in his goodness sent so many people in my life to pray for me and turn my heart back to the truth of God's word!  The Lord cares for the orphan (James 1:27, Deuteronomy 10:18) and he cares for us because we once were orphans too until He adopted us into His family (Romans 8:15).  We are excited to see all the Lord does in us and in our family during this time of dependence on Him. We are seeking the Lord and trusting him as we continue to walk in faith.  <>< liz

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Adoption from the Democratic Republic of the Congo

At the moment, the Lord has led our family toward adoption from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).  Liz and I are excited about beginning the process with One World Adoption Services out of Georgia.  We feel like this opportunity has many questions still to be answered, but we feel comfortable beginning the process and seeing where the Lord takes us and how he will providentially help us complete the adoption.  We would ask that you continue to pray for us during this process.  We will be sending updates and letters soon telling how you can help be a part of our adoption from the DRC.  In the meantime, I would recommend to you a book by Dr. Russell Moore called Adopted for Life (  Liz and I are reading through the book now, and in it, Dr. Moore lays out a solid foundation about the biblical mentality behind adopting. Even if you are not considering adopting a child, I would recommend the book to you.  It will help even to understand and appreciate our adoption in Christ.  We would love to hear from any of you who have adopted or are planning to adopt.  We would love to pray with you through your process as well.  May God be glorified through care for the orphans.  

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The "Foreigner"

Isaiah 56:6-7
6 "And the foreigners who join themselves 
to the Lord,
to minister to him, to love the name 
of the Lord,
and to be his servants,
everyone who keeps the Sabbath 
and does not profane it,
and holds fast my covenant - 
7 these I will bring to my holy mountain, 
and make them joyful in my house of prayer; 
their burnt offerings and their sacrifices 
will be accepted on my altar;
for my house shall be called a house of prayer
for all peoples." 

I may write some day a longer version of our motives for adopting, but for the time being, these verses will present one aspect of our motive.  The idea of a "foreigner" being united to the people of God through a God-enacted covenant is remarkable.  God has intended from the beginning of his creative plan to redeem people from every tribe, tongue, nation, and people group to be a people for his own possession.  God has always intended to save the foreigner (i.e. non-Israelites), and bring them to his holy mountain.  

With this passage in Isaiah, the focus is on nationality.  The foreigner is a non-Israelite.  For our adoption, although nationality is going to be quite obvious, our hope is that through the national differences of our family composition, people will see the heart of God for the "foreigner," i.e. the one who is not part of the covenantal family of God.  We don't want people to look at our family and think that we have accomplished some sort of philanthropic task by adopting.  We want to be able to tell people that God has adopted us, foreigners to the covenant and spiritual orphans, into his family, and it is the least we can do to display that same affection to a foreigner and orphan.  So, one of our motives for adopting boils down to the gospel.  God is in the business of adopting, i.e. bringing those who are not family members into an eternal relationship with a loving Father.  We want to display that heart in and through our adoption.  

Deut. 10:18-19 - He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.  Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Prayer Requests

Here is a list of our current prayer requests.  We want to try to keep you updated on all the ways that the Lord helps us along the way, so it seems apropos then to let you know how you can be praying for our adoption journey.

  • that God would be the center of all of our decisions and progress
  • our motive and focus would be the glory of God in the gospel rather than some self-agrandizing, philanthropic endeavor
  • that we would choose the right adoption agency
  • that we would find the right home study agency 
  • Patience (I [Adam] tend to be task-driven and the hurry up and wait will be difficult)
  • financial support for the adoption (agency fees, legal fees, travel, etc.)
These are just a few of the many things we are currently praying about in our family and would be delighted if you would pray with us about these things.  We will keep you updated on how God answers these prayer requests.  Our deepest desire is to glorify God by "living out" the gospel in our family.  We want to show the world a visible representation of the kingdom of God as the nations live together as one family with one Father, worshiping him for eternity because of the work of the Lamb who was slain (Revelation 4-5).  We covet your prayers in the process.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Journey Begins

So, here the journey begins to find out what the Lord has in store for our family by way of adoption.  Liz and I have mentioned adopting a child for years now.  We have always thought it might be part of God's plan for our family.  By providence, God has placed us in a church and environment where adoption is emphasized.  Last year Liz and I attended an adoption conference at Southern Seminary and began to get some questions answered about adoption.  We have not intended to rush the process, but wanted to be prayerful and deliberate about the steps to take toward adoption.  The adoption conference last year, at the very least, was where the Lord began to soften our hearts toward the desperate needs of orphans around the world.  After the last session of the adoption conference, one of my good friends left me a voicemail that said he looked forward to meeting the adopted Howell baby in years to come.  That small thought brought tears to my eyes, to think that God may ask us to be a part of his plan for orphans as we seek to bring a child into our family.  Whether Liz and I complete an adoption or not, we will always seek to care for orphans even if that only means giving to and encouraging those who are adopting.

With the resolve that God has given us to care for the orphan, our family is ready to begin the process of adoption to see where exactly the Lord will take us in the wild journey called "life."  The road has already been a little bumpy.  We have delayed the process for over a year now because of my schooling.  The Ph.D. is rigorous and sometimes overwhelming, and we decided that to try to adopt during the thickness of the Ph.D. would not be wise.  However, I recently completed my comprehensive exams for the Ph.D., and we are now in a position where the flexibility of writing a dissertation will allow us to move forward with an adoption.  We have been chomping at the bit for the last 5 months to begin this process, and now that exams are over, we are excited to look more closely at God's plans for our adoption.

Another bump in the slow road involves the place from where we want to adopt.  Internationally, we have had our hearts set on Ethiopia.  However, recently, Ethiopia has decided to drastically reduce the number of adoption cases they review each day, which will at the very least lengthen the process considerably.  We are not counting out an Ethiopian adoption, but realize that the process could be more difficult if we go that route.  We have some dear friends who are in the middle of an adoption from Ghana, and they have already been helpful to encourage us in the process.  In addition, the stories of their Ghana adoption have caused us to begin to think about adopting from Ghana.  Liz and I also kick around regularly the idea of domestic adoption rather than international.  So, this bump in the journey is not necessarily problematic, but it has already proven daunting to figure out from where the Lord would have us adopt.  We have had friends tell us that you "cannot go wrong" with the location from where you adopt as long as you are adopting with right motives.  So, we want to be driven by a desire to see the Gospel portrayed in the composition of our family rather than the prestige of an adoption location.

So, although we are in the preliminary stages of the process, we are excited about the journey.  We are scared, prayerful, trusting, thankful, and wondering.  The mix of emotions and excitement is hard to describe accurately, but we are delighted to be in a place where we must trust God for his provision and direction.  We have much to "figure out," but that too is part of the journey.  We would love for you to pray with us for our adoption journey.  We have a couple of things set up where you can follow our progress and thoughts on adoption.  This blog is the first place, so if you have a blog reader you can subscribe to this one and we will post things here from time to time as they are helpful.  Also, we have a Twitter account @howelladoption for those of you who are in the Twitter world.  Hopefully we will set up a Facebook page for those of you in that world.  We will definitely be in touch as the journey continues, and we are excited to see how the Lord will work in all of our lives through the process of the Howell Family Adoption.  We give all the glory to our risen Christ for the desire of our hearts to adopt, for the progress that is to come in the adoption, and for the outcome of the journey, whatever it may be.