Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas Review and New Year's Eve Plans

Little Nathan T is so excited about his truck and trailer. Love these kids!

Handsome Noah has his goodies stacked up on the couch.

Beautiful Andrea loves these little puppy in my pocket things. These are ocean in my pocket.

Look at this mess!

Needless to say, we had a very blessed and abundant Christmas. Santa knew exactly what everyone wanted and he came through in his usual fashion. Oh the joys and excitement of the holidays. God is so good. On Christmas Eve we went to church for the Christmas Eve service. Andy put it all together and it was wonderful...short and sweet. He showed a clip from the Nativity Story and we sang beautiful traditional Christmas carols and then lit candles at the end. So beautiful. After church he went to pick up my "surprise" present at his sister's house. The fedex man was suppose to deliver it there, but they left a note saying no one was there to sign for it. Andy was furious. We drove all the way to Indianapolis Fedex to pick it up. We didn't get home until 9 and we still had to bake cookies. UGH. It was memorable that is for sure. The kids woke up around 7:30 and the festivities began. So much fun. I can't wait for Olivia to get her to enjoy it with us. We have ornaments on the tree just for her. Hopefully she will be able to be with us next Christmas. That is my prayer for the new year.
Today is New Year's Eve and we are anticipating a fun filled evening at our church. We are having an Extravaganza! We are performing a skit that is super funny. I am sitting behind Andrea and putting my arms through her shirt...Noah is putting his arms through Andy's shirt and we are then performing daily tasks such us makeup, eating, catching a ball, shaving (with no razor). It is sooo funny. I will post pictures later. Have fun tonight and be safe.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas time

I can't believe that Christmas is in 3 days. It is such a wonderful and joyous time. My kids are bouncing off of the walls. This is a picture of us at the Christmas tree farm. So much fun! We were talking today about little our baby girl in Ethiopia and where we will hang her stocking for Christmas. We don't know when she will be with us, but our hearts are with her. A sweet friend of ours who has adopted 4 little girls gave me an ornament for our tree. She said that she always kept an ornament on her tree for her girls that were still in China. I cried when she gave it to me. I have been really trying to keep my mind off of the wait...but we got some news that the wait time has increased to 9-12 months for a referral. This puts us in August at the earliest. So, we may not even have her home for next Christmas. I must admit that I am quite upset about this, but God is good about keeping me busy. I just pray that the long winter months are not too difficult. There is starting to be some movement over in Ethiopia though. Lots of families have court dates approaching, and one family will be traveling to get their little girl the 3rd of January. Hopefully this will make space for our little one who will be coming into the home. God has perfect timing in everything though. I don't see it from my perspective, but He sees where she is (even if she is still in the womb). I will devote my time to praying for her health and her mother's. I will also pray that she will know she is loved and wanted. What a precious little girl she is.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Short update.

I wanted to share with you are most recent family photo. Every year at Thanksgiving we take a family photo around my parents fireplace. We have found that as our kids grow and the more we get we don't fit as well around the fireplace. You should see the one with our family, my brother's family, and my parents. We look a bit squished. I can't imagine what it will look like next year when O arrives. She will be the completion of our family and it will be sooo wonderful to have her with us.
We are in full swing with the Christmas festivities. We will go get our tree on Saturday. I am a little bummed because we are going to a farm that does not have a tractor ride. We have always taken a tractor ride out to the field and picked a tree. The tree farms around here don't offer that and we don't feel like driving a billion miles to a place that offers that. Oh well...we will see how it goes.
We have been busy practicing our Christmas program for church. It is called "Cookin' Up Christmas" and is sooo cute. The kids are doing an amazing job preparing. I am very proud of all of them.
Not much activity for us on the adoption front. Our dossier is being translated and should be done by the end of December. We will then be eligible for a referral. But, those have been slow coming in our agency. The courts are so backlogged that there hasn't been much movement. We are praying that the new year brings more referrals so that we move up the list. Until then....we are waiting. I believe that is how it is going to be for a while. But, we are in it for the long haul.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Wow, It has been a while. it is time to get back to blogging. A LOT has happened since my last post. We are now "officially" on the waiting list. My friends like to call it "paper pregnant". I think I like that terminology. FTIA received our dossier on November 3, so we now get to wait 6-8 months for a referral. I must admit that I really don't like this part of the process. I was telling some people that I enjoyed the paper chase phase because I actually felt like I was doing something, now things are out of my control and all we can do is wait. Things seem to be at a stand still on the referral end though. Our group hasn't received a referral since September (it may have even been August). But one family did pass court last week and there are a few others that are awaiting their court hearings. Our social worker said that there were some new children that are in the orphanage that are almost ready for referrals, but we don't know how many of those children will go to Bethany families and how many will be referred to FTIA families. We just pray that God's timing is perfect. I did join some other support groups this week to hear what other agencies are doing and to get support from others in our same situation. There are some families who are really concerned about some recent developments in Ethiopia regarding adoption. We pray that things don't hurt those waiting families and children continue to find their forever families.

Things on the homefront continue to go well. We have begun working on our Christmas program at church and Andrea has a speaking part. It has been a lot of work, but it is fun working with the kids. They are all doing a great job. Noah started wrestling for the first time last week. He is doing an awesome job. He doesn't like how hot it is, but he enjoys the wrestling part. Nathan is doing well in preschool. He likes to give me hugs when he walks past my room. It is fun watching him.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

..............Bye Bye Boat...You've Been Fun

So absolutely thrilled today. I was in a huge need of receiving good news, and it came in several forms today. First, Andy and I have prayed about selling our boat. We knew it would help offset adoption expenses, but it was a difficult decision because we have had so many good times on it, especially my husband. Well, we agreed to sell it. I listed it this morning and by early afternoon someone had already come out to see it and purchased it for an amount that would cover about 1/3 of our adoption expenses!!! Thank you Jesus. Second, we had a doctors appointment for Andrea and she has no fluid on her kidneys!! The doctor went on and on about how amazing it was that she was so much better. I just smiled and thanked the Lord. Third, another referral came in for an FTIA family. She is a beautiful little girl. Every time I see another child referred, I feel like it is one of my own and I am overjoyed. Soon it will be us who gets the call. On another note, we are still waiting on our final paper to complete our dossier. We hope to get it within the next week. I feel like I check the mailbox constantly! Soon.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Another Celebration

Today we celebrated Noah's birthday again!!! He was thrilled...the gifts keep on coming. Grammie Kathy, Grandma Pudding, Aunt Teresa, and Evan all came for a cookout and cake. It is still hard for me to believe he is six. It just seems like yesterday we brought home a 9lb. 2oz. baby boy. I look at him now and see "big" boy. It's amazing how something can make you happy and sad at the same time. I sometimes feel like a missed so much of his six can that be...I was a stay at home mom and still am. Time just seems to steal memories and special moments away from you. I pray that I will remember these days as I get older. I just want to hold on to this moment so tightly and not let it go. We often get so caught up with our daily lives and forget that we can never go back, we can never revisit these days. They are only little once and before you know it they are married and on their own. Lord, keep my children in Your hands. Order and guide their steps. May their days be long and their lives be full. May they know Your love and salvation at an early age. Thank you Lord for your promises and being a fulfiller of your Word! I love you Jesus. I need you right now! Be with my baby in Africa whether she be in the womb or on this earth. You know everything about her and I trust you with her life.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Big day for 2 Big kids.

We have had a few exciting days here. Noah turned 6 and had a great day. He got some presents and then in the evening we went go-cart racing. The kids had a blast. Noah loved being able to drive his own car. The top picture is of Andrea and her winning photo at the state fair. She received a special award for it! Not everyone got their pictures displayed. Not only did she get hers displayed, but it was next to best of show! What an amazing thing for a 7 year old.
School is going well. The kids like their teachers and are enjoying their classes. Nathan and I have been busy working on the benefit. We are looking for silent auction items and hole sponsors. We are getting some good feedback. Keep us in your prayers. Not too much longer! I'm getting nervous about it. I know the Lord will provide! My faith is growing.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A New Season

Well, the Cottongim house is all a buzz. The kids have started back to school and loving it! Mommy and Nathan are having a little bit of a hard time getting readjusted. He has been grouchy...I think he misses his brother and sister. He has been getting up earlier too. Noah loves kindergarten and Andrea thinks 2nd grade is fun. She says it is going to be hard this year. They will do great. Noah is worried that he won't make any friends, but I know the Lord will bring the right kids in his path for him to befriend. Andrea doesn't know very many kids in her class, but one of her close girlfriends from last year sits right next to her! Tomorrow I have my teachers meeting for preschool. We don't start for another month and it is only 2 mornings a week. Nathan says he is NOT going to preschool. We will see about that!

We got our amended home study at the beginning of the week. Everything is fixed and it looks great. I sent it off to the secretary of state and to USCIS. As soon as that returns our dossier will be ready to submit. All we will need then is $3000 to go with it. We are praying it arrives. God is requiring my faith to rise up. I saw a teaching the other day on Christian TV about faith and hope. Hope is believing something may come to pass. Faith is believing it already has, you are just waiting for the fruit! I believe God has it for us, we are just waiting for the fruit!

On a fun note, we just got a baby kitty on Friday. It is an early birthday present for Noah. Her name is Roxy Rose. Noah just loves her to pieces. She is not to sure about him, but he doesn't give up on her. She will adjust. Well...signing off for now.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Home Study Blunders

The good news is that we received our home study on Sat. The bad news is that it is full of errors. I have been in contact with the social worker and they are working on the changes now. It is frustrating because some of the errors were told to them BEFORE they signed them and sent them to us. Oh well. At least it is getting fixed. We need to send it off to the secretary of state and to USCIS before we can even complete the dossier. At least all of the other paperwork is completed. God has perfect timing. This way we will have our benefit done and we can apply that money to the first payment...providing we raise enough! I believe the Lord will bring it in somehow someway. The benefit is Sept. 12 and it is quickly approaching. I'm getting nervous about it all. I hope it all works out smoothly. I printed 50 more brochures today. I have a lot I need to get in the mail and a lot to hand out. I plan on printing 50 more tomorrow. That is my goal anyway. Still looking for silent auction items and hole sponsors. Bring them in Lord.

The kids start school next week. Andrea will be in Miss Taylor's 2nd grade class and Noah will be in Ms. Tramontana's kindergarten class. I know Andrea will do fine...she loves school and she is really looking forward to it. I'm a little concerned about Noah. He will be there all day on Mondays and Wednesdays and every other Friday. He will get to eat lunch at school! I am praying his energy level stays under control. Nathan doesn't start preschool until after Labor Day. It will be interesting to see how he does. Knowing mommy is right next door in another class may be hard for him. The other teachers are very good though and I know he will adjust in time.

Last night at church the message was about making Christ Lord over your life...not just Savior. It was very powerful and convicting. He touched a place in my heart where I haven't completely made Him Lord. I am learning that it is a daily surrender of the heart. God is good.

Friday, July 31, 2009

It's Been A While...

Wow...I can't believe it is almost the first of August. I haven't posted anything since May...Uggghh. Well, the summer has been fun and busy. We have been swimming, camping, boating, and playing. It's hard to believe school starts back in less than 2 weeks. I need to do a little more school shopping.

The adoption is still running smoothly. We are STILL waiting on our final homestudy report so that we can submit it to CIS. Then it could be another month or two before we can actually submit our dossier. At least all of the other paperwork is done. Now we are focusing our attention on raising funds. Our church is blessing us by hosting a benefit to help raise funds. We are also doing a golf scramble the same day. Currently we are working on putting foursomes together. It is $50 per player. The teams will tee off at 2pm on Sept. 12 on Foxcliff Golf Course here in Martinsville. That $50 will also give them a ticket to dinner that night at our church benefit. We will have a silent auction and live entertainment. I already have a singer lined up and possibly a comedian!!! God is pulling it all together. What a blessing. We are also looking for hole sponsors for the golf scramble. It will be $100 per sponsor...we will put signs up for each business or family who sponsors a hole. We are praying these come in. I'm asking the Lord to show me who to ask and where to go for auction items. For those who just want to come to the dinner, it is $10 per person. I finally finished the brochures and will be passing them out and mailing them. The cool thing is that if anyone donates cash, it is tax deductible. Our church will be providing the tax deductions. How exciting. I am trying not to stress about the everything, but I have a tendency to do that. I believe that this adoption is going to help unify our little town and the churches within. Be praying for that!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Still Plugging Away has been a month since my last post. We have been extremely busy these past few weeks. We have nearly completed our dossier!!!! We had our home study visit on Friday and it went very smoothly. Our social worker said she will have our first draft to us within a couple of weeks. YAY! Andy had his biometrics done on Friday as well. I get mine done on June 8. Once the homestudy report is done I can send a copy to CIS. Then we wait for the I-171H to arrive. If it were me, I would have it all done now. I believe the Lord is teaching me patience. He is also teaching me to rest in Him and not get so uptight about it all. I finished my Hague training today. I just have to wait for the test results. Andy just needs to take his last test to be done. He also has to complete his workbook on Africa for the adoption agency. As of now, I have done all I can do. I just have to wait. I will take to more papers to the bank tomorrow for notarization, but then I am done. I can start the vaccination process, but I will probably wait until our dossier is in Ethiopia. I am getting really excited about the adoption though. My greatest concern is the financial burden it places on our family. We don't have $25,000 sitting in the bank. Andy and I have talked about ways to raise money. I think we are going to have a benefit this fall to help offset the costs. Some ideas I have had include a comedian, a band, a dinner, silent auction, etc. Our church has already offered their facilities for it. If you have any ideas, send them our way. I know the Lord will provide. He keeps opening doors and giving us confirmation that we are doing the right thing and pursuing His will for our family. Keep us in your prayers as we continue on this difficult journey to our daughter.

Andrea, Noah, and Nathan are doing well. Andrea keeps using the name Olivia in her story problems for school. Her sister is on her heart! Noah calls her "our little girl" which I think is precious. Nathan doesn't say much about it yet. I want to get some books on being a big brother. He just turned 3 on the 11th, so he is busy with all of his new toys. Andrea and Noah are finishing up soccer...finally. Most of the games have had to be postponed due to rain and storms. Noah is sooo funny. He graduated pre-k and since then he insists that he is already in kindergarten. He thinks he should go to school with Andrea now. Andrea constantly reminds him that it is after summer break. She is such a mother hen. God has been so good to me! I have such precious children with such tender hearts. Thank you Jesus!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Next Step in Process

To let you all know we are quickly on the road to finishing our part of the adoption journey. Yesterday we got all of our paperwork notarized for the dossier. YAY!!!! That was a huge relief. Now we are patiently waiting for our references to arrive. I am praying that will come quickly. I got my physical today for our homestudy. The kids get their TB tests on Friday and Monday. Andy gets his physical on Monday...then we are finished with the medical aspect for the dossier and home study. Medically, Andy and I will then have to get our vaccinations to travel. YUCK! The process is actually going smoothly. Andy and I began our Hague training last night. We completed the first video in the series of 4. Now we have to take the test on that segment. Andy was having trouble staying awake. The lady talking talked with her hands and was somewhat annoying at times. But, we are plugging away and getting it done. Pray that the Lord continues to give us direction in our paper collecting. We still have to get our police clearance checks. We might have trouble getting a notary to go with us, but we will get r done. I am ready to be done NOW...but it will happen in God's timing.

Friday, April 10, 2009

First Time Bloggers...Adoption Journey Begins

Yes...we are first time bloggers. We have decided to create this blog to chronicle our family adventures and to allow our friends and family follow our adoption journey. We have many hurdles to cross on this road, but the Lord has been faithful to us along the way.

We are the Cottongim Family. Andy is 34 and has just begun working for Renesas. It has been an adjustment since his office is now in the home. However, it does allow us to see him a little more. He enjoys camping, boating, hiking, hunting, and being with the family. Laura is 33 and a stay at home mom. She also teaches preschool to 3 and 4 year olds two mornings a week. She enjoys reading, camping, hiking, gardening, and being a homemaker. Andrea is 7 and in the first grade. She is a wonderful child who enjoys camping, playing outside, school, and much more. Noah is 5 and is a blast. He stays busy playing with his toys and outside. Nathan is almost 3 and is a fun loving kid. He LOVES to play outside and loves cars.


Here are some statistics to really think about:
132 million children in the entire world have lost either one or both parents.
43.4 million of these children live in sub-Saharan Africa.
The poverty level in Ethiopia is 44 percent.
An average yearly income for a family is commonly $282-$1,440.
Only 36 percent of children attend a primary or secondary school.
Only 18 percent of all children reach grade 5.
77 out of every 1,000 neonatal births end in a fatality.
1 in 4 women will die in childbirth due to lack of medical care.
20 percent of Ethiopian children receive basic childhood immunizations.
80 percent do not.
One out of ten Ethiopian children will die before their first birthday.
One out of six Ethiopian children will die before their fifth birthday.

We are thrilled to begin this process. We sent our application in on March 22, 2009 to Families Thru International Adoption (FTIA). They are based in Evansville, IN. We have our first homestudy visit this weekend. So far, the process has been going very smoothly and relatively quickly. Even though we wish it were all done, we know it will be worth the effort when we have our little girl home.