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Thursday, March 24, 2011

International Adoption is a LAST RESORT!

If you know about Tom Davis, you know his life is devoted to orphan care. His book "Fields of the Fatherless" is one of the favorite books of my life. I cried buckets of tears when I read it and I couldn't put it down. It is one of the first (of many) things that broke my heart. He is right. International Adoption should be our LAST CHOICE after all options are exhausted.

What Can YOU Do?

No confirmed news today, but plenty of speculation. There are some indications that there is an internal conflict over what is seen as too heavy a workload. Driven by the popularity of the international adoption program, many offices are overwhelmed with cases to review and approve.

On the one hand, those concerned with cleaning up corruption may be appealing to the desire to decrease the volume of cases and reduce workload. On the other hand, those who feel that workloads are too high may be seizing on the corruption and ethics arguments to advance their case.

In reality, I am guessing that each group is advancing their own interest, and that is why I want to again call readers to prayer today. Since we don’t know what’s going on truly, let’s transform our speculations into prayers. It is fun to speculate–but let’s not linger there at the expense of true prayer on behalf of the kids of Ethiopia.

One topic I’ve been digging into lately is the viewpoints around adoption as part of a child’s human rights. In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 16.3 states:

The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

It would truly be best if every child was raised in adequate and safe conditions by their birth family. I believe this is “Plan A.” And I also believe that child poverty grows when families are not protected and supported in their society. We intuit that the failure to protect the family fuels the rise of child
poverty, child labor, child soldiers, and child prostitutes. These dots
are not incredibly difficult to connect.

When Plan A is not possible, the prevailing idea is that a child should be placed as close to the birth family as possible. Think of them as degrees of separation from the birth parents.

Birth Parents: Plan A
1st degree: Relative adoption by family members
2nd degree: Non-relative adoption within the child’s birth country
3rd degree: In-country foster care
4th degree: International non-relative adoption
5th degree: Institutionalization in an orphanage
6th degree: Child-headed households
7th degree: Homelessness / street children
There may be variations of those degrees, but the further out on that spectrum you go, the farther away from “Plan A” you get.

Since we’re talking about international adoption in Ethiopia, let’s look at one part of the controversy. I would recommend this entire article for your reading: International Adoption: Thoughts on Human Rights Issues. In it, the author offers this insightful observation:

By contrast [to relative adoption], in international adoption adoptive parents and children meet across lines of difference involving not just biology, but also socioeconomic class, race, ethnic and cultural heritage, and nationality. Typically the adoptive parents are relatively privileged white people from one of the richer countries of the world, and typically they will be adopting a child born to a desperately poor birth mother belonging to one of the less privileged racial and ethnic groups in one of the poorer countries of the world. International adoption is characterized by controversy. Some see it as an extraordinarily positive form of adoption. It serves the fundamental need for family of some of the world’s neediest children. The families formed demonstrate our human capacity to love those who are, in many senses, “other,” in a world which is regularly torn apart by the hatred of alien others. But many see international adoption as one of the ultimate forms of human exploitation, with the rich, powerful and white taking children from poor, powerless members of racial and other minority groups, thus imposing on those who have little what many of us might think of as the ultimate loss.

As both an adoptive father and an orphan care advocate, I appreciate the truth on both sides of this observation. On the one hand, you have children who are at “Degree 4″ and higher, for whom international adoption may be their best option for preserving their rights as a child to grow up in a safe and loving family environment.

Yet, with only about 12,000 international adoptions processed in the United States, we must remain honest with ourselves. Remember the story of the boy who walks the shoreline and sees thousands of washed up starfish? He begins throwing them back one by one. An “old man” says, “You’ll never make a difference, the problem is too big!” The boy tosses in another starfish and says, “It made a difference to that one.”

True. But many more died on the shoreline. The boy gave the ultimate solution to as many starfish as he could, but his solution did not match the enormity of the problem.

There are millions of children languishing in extreme poverty. If the average cost of international adoption was estimated at $25,000–it would represent the ultimate “starfish” solution. That $25,000 made a difference to that one.

Melissa Fay Greene, author of There is No Me Without You likened international adoption to one family throwing a lifeline to another family. She indicates–and I share this opinion–that international adoption cannot represent the whole solution for children suffering from poverty and disease. Much more must be done to meet current needs–and to address the root causes of systemic poverty faced by children and families.

We must work on all sides of this issue, and I see it in three parts:

1.Supporting in-country solutions that reduce poverty and increase the stability and self-sufficiency of the family.
2.Meeting needs where they are found through food, education, and health care programs (and so many others).
3.When appropriate, when led by God, when hearing clearly from the Holy Spirit, we throw the lifeline of international adoption.
The question is not whether one is better than the other, or more effective, or more biblical. The question is, which of those three are you currently engaged in?

Knowing there is a problem and having the resources to help–but withholding them anyway–is the real problem. We will always need all three of these solutions. And sometimes countries like Ethiopia will have adoption programs, and other times they won’t. The needs will still be there if Ethiopia restricts their adoptions.

But if we–Christ-followers–are not present and fully active in all three realms, then we are doing a disservice to the least of these, which is in fact a disservice directly to the Christ we claim to follow.

Read more:

Saturday, March 19, 2011


We're official!

I cannot believe that I haven't posted about this yet. Oh wait, I've been soooo sick over the past two weeks! A nasty bought of bronchitis has drained my motivation to do ANYTHING! Even work on our dossier!

We just have a few things left to do for it to be complete. Admittedly, I didn't rush to finish them, as I was sure it would take several weeks to get our I-171 form back from the United States Citizenship and Immigration office (Department of Homeland Security). This is the form that gives us permission to bring a child into the U.S. and make him/her U.S. citizens, but hypothetically I just let it go. I had decided I would NOT stalk the mailman. I had plenty to do without getting myself stressed over this piece of paper. So, I surrendered this step to God and BOOM!


SHOCKED when I opened the mail! The piece of paper in and of itself was anti-climactic. It looked like a receipt, unlike the fancy embossed fingerprint papers. But oh how important this paper actually is! We were FULL of joy and we congratulated eachother for being able to adopt a child! :) This piece of paper means we're DONE with the United States part of the adoption process!

The infamous I-171. The last piece of our paperchase puzzle. :)

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Lee Toone. You can adopt a child. Kind of makes me giggle. :)

"Notice of favorable determination concerning application for advance processing of orphan petition"

Due to the recent issues in Ethiopia, we were concerned but we'd gotten some good news. Things are improving there and with staff turnover things should get better and better. That doesn't mean the process will be faster or even where it is now, but its does mean that it is not as dismal as it has been forcasted to be. The prayers we prayed worked! All that said, my adoption group covered this time in prayer! We prayed all through the night and day and things got better! So why should I doubt that God would SPEED our paperwork to us!

We have to get on the ball so we can mail our dossier in but I don't feel the sense of urgency that I thought I would. Instead, I have peace that this is ALL in God's timing. Of course I hope that we would get our referral for our child/ren as soon as possible but I am content in the waiting (well at least for today). I am going to focus my energies on "active" waiting by doing a bible study devoted to waiting and trusting.

So SOON we will be paper pregnant! To celebrate I ordered a couple of "waiting mama" shirts! I can't wait to sport them and no doubt we'll take photos of our FED EX trip with our dossier!

SO EXCITING. So content with where we are. The journey we are traveling is just as important as the child we'll bring home. God is molding us to TRUST him.

Here is the POSITIVE update from our agency this week...

We are writing to update you on the current situation in Ethiopia. While meetings between Ethiopian government officials continue, we have seen positive steps. Within MOWA, there have been significant and positive personnel changes which have resulted in overall staff turnover and changes in the adoption unit. This unit is now called the Ministry of Women, Children and Youth Affairs (MOWCYA). We are hopeful and expectant that the new leadership will not only support processing an adequate number of favorable recommendation letters, but also implement policies that will best serve the children. Due to the staffing changes, we anticipate much transition over the next few weeks. However, we expect that once everyone is settled into their new positions, MOWCYA will work to process a higher number of recommendation letters than they currently are able to process.

We have continued to receive optimistic feedback and have seen that the Ethiopian government is very committed to adoption. I hope this information is an encouragement to your family. We will continue to update your family with any confirmed information we receive.

We got another piece of good news this week. Our dear friends the Autrys (from right here in Utah) are adopting a sibling group of 4 (FOUR) off our agency's WAITING CHILD LIST! They range in age from 8 months to 7 years! What a HUGE leap of faith to take 4! I am selfishly happy that they will be down the street from us so we can play with them all the time! :) SO EXCITING!

So PLEASE join with us to continue to pray about the situation in Ethiopia...God is soooooo much bigger than this! And continue to pray for our process, that it would go smoothly. We still have a LONG way to go. :)

Friday, March 11, 2011


Well we are so grateful that Jayson and Julie decided to get hitched in Key West! I was super blessed to be asked by Julie to be a bridesmaid! What fun it was to celebrate with this awesome couple and also have a little vacation! :) The trip was so good, there were too many photos to include! We had MANY nights of sunsets... They were breathtaking! I also enjoyed 4 nights of Key Lime Pie (my fave' pie!) including two nights of key lime pie dipped in chocolate on a stick! I had a key lime margarita, daquari, and key lime martini. I brought back key lime juice to continue the trend! Too bad lent is starting so the pie will have to wait! :) Can you tell I like Key Lime?

Our hotel

A little impromptu shot

The bride and pedis by the pool. I got to spend a 1/2 day with her and it was fabulous having 1 on 1 time! Not gonna lie when I say that was the best pedi ever given that I had view of the pool and palm trees!

Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square. TONS of street performers doing crazy things....One guy had cats walking tightropes, another a dog jumping through a hoop. Another was a contortionist and one guy was a soldier painted in gold...

This dog would take dollar bills and jump through the hoop...I felt sorry for the dog!




A little sunset shot

Beautiful red tree we discovered

Rehearsal! What a beautiful church!

After the rehearsal and before the dinner cruise, we stopped at "Schooner Wharf" for a little break with yummy mango frozen drinks!

Old dive tanks. This bar was literally on the wharf where dive boats dock. It was literally a "dive" bar. :) We loved it!

Looking back on the bar...

Our boat for the dinner cruise

Pre Dinner-cruise shot

Tara and I.

Two of my fave' girls on the plent...Tara and Julie, known since Jr. High :)

Another Sunset...

pretty cool

Kylie and Tara with the groom

Love these girls (but NOT the wind!)

Lee pointing to Mr. Sun

Jr. bridesmaid Grace

Beautiful bouquet

Shelley, Megan, Kylie and Tara

Me and my girl Tara (we LOVED these dresses-light cotton with pockets~!!!!)
The beautiful bride getting made up!

Gracie and Dylan (nephew and niece of the bride)

Jays family

Trolly ride from church to reception

Walkin' down the aisle

The bride and her Daddy (SHE WAS ABSOLUTELY STUNNING!)

The breathtaking couple

GORGEOUS church-the windows were open and it was so light and airy

Tara and Kevin at the reception


Lee always gets his dance on :)

Fake laughing...a tradition started at Tara's wedding!

Acting sick...not sure why :) just thought it was funny :)

We rented a boat on Saturday with Tara and Kevin and spent the day in the Sun, circling Key West. We love those guys! It was so fun!

Renting the boat afforded us full use of the Marina

Our last big dinner splurge! Lee had lobster, I had a Key Lime Martini and of course more key lime pie (the best I've EVER had!)

YUM! The glass was dipped in a graham cracker crust!!!

Dinner at Conch Republic

Lee and I rented the tandem bike I'd been eyeing all week and rode 3 miles to the beach. It was sooo great, even though we only had 30 minutes to lay out before SCUBA!!! (not much downtime for beaching this trip...)

On the scuba boat

Dive boat


Lee says I can make friends with a tree...Of course I made friends with them! KU alums from Kansas City! Us Kansas folk gotta stick together! :)

Saw cruise ships a lot!

After diving, Lee and I putzed around Key West and shopped, ate and explored. :) We had to snap a pic of the world's smallest bar... it was like a closet!

Doggie crab cookie from fancy Doggie store. Daisie's birthday was on the wedding day (our baby is 6!!!) so this was her treat.

On our drive between Key West and Ft. Lauderdale (which by the way is a GREAT drive through the keys) we happened upon a GREAT beach cafe..IT was our FAVE meal of the whole trip! It was beachside and we decided next time we come to the Keys we'll stay Islamorada! It is quite quiet and serene, which we like as we are getting older. :) We had the best Mango Pico de gallo and Jamaica Jerk Chicken...and of course pie!

Sad...last lunch..on the way back to reality.

Last piece of pie...


Bye Bye... :(

What a great vacation...Awww, can we go back!?