Monday, May 25, 2009

Fellow Travelers

We are thrilled to find out Tim & Anna Dreyfus will be making the same journey. They have decided to adopt a baby girl from Ethiopia. We have become close friends with their whole crew after moving to Tuscaloosa. It's been amazing to see how God has led them to their decision. We will enjoy the road together and look forward to having the support and encouragement of these good friends as our new daughters grow up together!

Check out their video post!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Red Sea

I may never forget one adoption story in particular from the America World seminar. A gentlemen shared vivid memories of his trip to Ethiopia. He and his wife were adopting two, a young boy and a baby girl.

Upon arrival at the orphanage, the gates swung open welcoming them into the place. Immediately, many kids surrounded them all very happy to greet them. They new it was going to be an emotional day!

This family had previously received photographs of their 2 children. The time had come to meet the children and take them to a new home! For this particular orphanage, it was customary (perhaps part of the ceremony?) to allow the adopting parents to find the child amidst the others - with no assistance. The mother looked very briefly and went almost instinctively to her new baby girl sweetly resting in one of the cribs.

It was the father's turn. (He recounted his nervousness in this moment.) He began to scan the crowd of young boys crammed into the large room. What happened next he compared to the parting of the Red Sea. The boys all parted down the center of the room leading all eyes to a young boy standing alone in the back. The boy ran down the aisle and jumped into his father's arms!

Jenny and I grow more excited about this journey each day. As we share the news with others, we are finding that many people have dreamed about adopting one day! We hope and pray our testimony will one day inspire and encourage many others to take the same plunge.

Today, we were officially accepted into America World's Ethiopia program. It's small but a step in the right direction. We will soon begin assembling our dossier (the main legal paper work packet) AND working with a home study agency. Also, Jenny & I will begin a required online course for international adoption. Thank you for your continued prayers!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Choosing A Country

As we prayed through the month of April, we didn't mind including a little, 'Oh and God, if you don't mind, give us some ideas on where to go?!' We had no idea. Earlier in Jenny's journey, she had dreamed a little bit of China and Guatemala. But Guatemala has been closed off due to corruption and China has recently become unusually difficult.

Among other countries, we considered Columbia, India, and Africa. Early on in the process, we quickly started to rule out children from Africa. We weren't sure this was best considering all the dynamics at play in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. However, it seemed at every turn God showed us He has a different way of looking at it!

When it comes to discernment, I guess it's easier for me to consider a chunk of time rather than looking for a single 'sign.' As I look back over the recent months, here is some of the overwhelming leading God has provided for us.

a) Over the last year, we have had Africa on the brain and in our hearts. Our great friends Carson & Holly moved to Tanzania in March for a 10 year project. We had been along side of them as they prepared for their move for over a year. Their team was featured at this year's Gulfcoast Getaway in Panama City, Florida.

b) The friend I mentioned in One Prayer Later...they selected Africa (Ethiopia). I am able to put great trust in their research and choice.

c) Jenny has befriended a mom through our home school association who adopted from Africa (Uganda). Her little girl, Savannah, is now 6 years old.

d) In March (before I had a clue I'd be praying about adoption in April), I committed to be a table host for a benefit dinner on UA's campus. I knew next to nothing about the cause. I was just trying to support one of our students in her effort. It ended up being a dinner by Apwonjo -a student group working to raise aid & awareness for...Africa.

e) We quickly learned some of the greatest needs exist in orphanages across Africa. Ethiopia alone is home to over 4 million orphans.

f) In a practical sense, we found Ethiopia to be about the quickest process. It is less costly than most all other countries. And, the required visit is only 7 days or so.

g) Just as we began to lean toward Ethiopia, the America World seminar we attended in Nashville featured one testimony from a family who adopted 2 from...Ethiopia! Hearing their story was so moving. We met their beautiful children Bruik and Ava!

Praise God! He is such a diligent communicator. We are amazed as He continues to pave the way for us in this journey.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Selecting an Agency

Througout the prayer process, we were praying for clarity on which adoption agency would be the one. Jenny called and requested info from several. I remember she was out of town when 3 packages arrived at our house. One package stood out to me in a few ways.

a) The thing was particularly well done - quality materials, attractive folder, info dvd, ribbon, etc. I'm sorry, but I'm big on presentation!

b) This was the same agency used by musical aritst, Steven Curtis Chapman. He has adopted 3 times. He's got like 47 Dove Awards. AND he's all about love.

c) Perhaps most gripping, the cover letter from the president ended with this paragraph:

"Finally, I ask a simple favor of you. Upon finishing this letter, please close the information packet and voice a prayer for these children. By doing so, you have already helped those who lack the love of a mother and father."

As I look at it now, it doesn't read all that special. But again, I found myself sobbing as God drew me deeper into this whole thing! After some more looking, we found out this agency was hosting an upcoming event in Nashville, TN.

This past weekend, we traveled to Nashville for a niece's birthday party and while we were in the area, we were able to slip out and attend the seminar. It made the trip for me! Hearing personal testimonies was more of what we needed. We saw several children from other countries who had been adopted in recent years.
Long story short, I started filling out the appliation forms late that night once we got back to Tuscaloosa! The name of the agency is America World Adoption.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

One Prayer Later...

Our close friends know the second child did not come easy for us. It was a two year ordeal including fertility clinics, a tearful wife, a concerned husband, and countless prayers. They told us it would be virtually impossible without [costly] fertility treatments. We (especially Jenny) didn't buy it - not one bit!Well, Micah's 4 this September! And I think we're starting to understand a purpose behind the ordeal. Somewhere in there, God begin to plant seeds into Jenny's amazing heart. Crazy seeds. He cultivated in her an unrelenting desire to adopt. She'll admit, in the beginning, her desires were mixed with some self-serving purposes. Nonetheless, He was working on her, even then, through the broken circumstances.

Lately, we had both been feeling pretty good about stopping at 3. On those days when temper tantrums and fights over space and stuff rang out...we felt really good about stopping at 3!

But still, those crazy seeds weren't dying! Jenny would sweetly mention adoption from time to time. I just wasn't feeling it. Our garden was plenty big and farming here is plenty tough. The reluctance had nothing to do with adoption. The reluctance was about the number 4!

I was in Nashville in late March visiting with a friend who is in the midst of an international adoption. I related Jenny's feelings to him and expressed my reluctance. A couple of days of later, he and his wife sent an email pledging $500 to 'the Dixon adoption' fund. We were floored by the timing and the kindness and the spirit of it all!

We sighed a timid 'ok, God.' Jenny & I agreed to pray together every night for the month of April. I thought this casual and reluctant exploration couldn't turn out that bad. It was like sticking your toe in the pool to test its temperature...worse case scenario, you recoil in minor discomfort but there's no real commitment because you're still upright on the side of the pool, right?

So it's the first night of praying together! Went fine. 'God if you need us to walk through this door, just make that obvious. We love you...etc., etc.' I'm driving to work the next morning still with my proverbial toe in the water and in complete control of my destiny. I can remember where I was on Highway 69 when God took His forearm and planted it squarely on my back and SHOVED me in, head first into the pool!

It was amazing and funny and powerful and humbling all in one motion! I sheepishly confessed to Jenny that night my reluctance had been miraculously disassembled. She couldn't believe it. Over the next few weeks, I found my conviction growing exponentially! My conversations with friends and fellow employees were all becoming an appeal for them to adopt a child too. I was out of control! At one point I even suggested Noah & his buddies should all go in together and adopt a kid from China or something. Ok, I've gotta bridle this passion - I understand.

One prayer later...we found ourselves filled with awe, passion, and insatiable hunger. I know for sure it doesn't always happen that way. But it did this time! We finished praying through the month. Our convictions have grown inexplicably and wildly. God is truly amazing!