Saturday, December 20, 2008


Some days I don't check the mail. It's been so cold lately that if I'm not leaving the house for another reason I just leave the mail until the next day. If figure it's not going anywhere and as long as no one tries to steal my identity, it should be fine. So the other day, as I gathered two days worth of mail on my way to run errands with the kids, I saw two envelopes from The Department of Homeland Security in the mound I struggled to contain as I walked toward the van. My heart raced.

The last "communication" we had with this department was a notice of receipt of our Application for Immigration/ Orphan Petition. The fine print stated processing time for the application would be three months and by the way do not contact us unless those three months have expired. And yet now, just a couple weeks later they have sent us two letters. Did I mess up on filling out the form? Was there a problem? I tore into the envelope.

The letter was a notice of an appointment to have my biometrics taken at 8:00 AM on Christmas Eve. Of course, biometrics. And so I thought... what is a biometric, exactly? As I drove around running errands and the gears were turning ever so slowly in my brain, it eventually became clear that biometrics were fingerprints. I can do fingerprints. Even at 8:00 AM Christmas Eve, an hour from home, I can do fingerprints.

I was excited. A step forward. The notice said the applicant could call and reschedule. I thought about it for a short moment. No siree Bob. I will take the appointment. Who knows when the next one will come around.

But seriously, are government offices usually open on Christmas Eve? Who knew? In any case, Ben and I will travel to Grand Rapids on Christmas Eve and prove the legitimacy of our Citizenship of the US of A.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

USCIS is in the mail!

Yes, it is TRUE! The USCIS papers are finally in the mail!!!! What does this mean you ask? This means the first part of our adoption rigamaroll is finished, finito, kaput! WOOOOHOOOO!

Now we wait 6- 12 weeks to get approval papers back from immigration saying they will allow us to bring the newest members of our family into the US of A. During this 6-12 week wait we will finish (in theory) the rest on the paperwork for our dossier (the big bundle of all the documents that will be translated and sent to Ethiopia). Then we will take our dossier papers to...THE OFFICE OF THE GREAT SEAL (a name best said in a booming deep voice with a bit of a echo) in Lansing and get a bunch of shiny golden seals on the 20 documents that we have carefully gathered. At that time we will be praying to our God that the Great Seal people find our papers seal-worthy.

After the documents have been sealed our dossier will be finished and a courier service will take it to AWAA in VA to be translated and sent to Ethiopia.

Then we just get to wait...oh and set up the bedrooms...that will be fun:)

Monday, December 1, 2008


All our immigration paperwork is in order. We are just waiting for our social worker to return to her office on Tuesday (tomorrow) so she can get the homestudy signed and in the mail.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

An Ethiopian Feast: Injera and Lentils

Ben and I were able to go out to an Ethiopian Restaurant in East Lansing recently. The place is called Altu's and the head cook is none other than Altu herself. The small restaurant was surprisingly busy as we took our place at a table that really looked more like a woven basket. We ordered the meat and vegetable feast for two, thinking that way we could try a bit of everything. The waitress let us know that the ground yellow peas were her personal favorite and the lima beans were a secret family recipe, so we were sure to include both and added in the lentils. Mummm, I like lentils. We ordered the lamb and the chicken for our meat selections and filled our own cups at the soda fountain in the middle of the dining room.
Soon authentic Ethiopian flat bread (injera) with a variety of legumes and meat spread out on top all cooked by an authentic Ethiopian woman arrived to our basket- table. The injera bread is make by fermenting a teff flour batter for several days and cooking it in a skillet(you can see it rolled up on the side of the platter. It can best be described as a spongy sourdough pancake. I is not only used to line the plate, but as utensils as well. We broke off pieces of the bread and picked up a bit of meat or vegetable with it and dropped it in our mouths.
We really enjoyed our first Ethiopian food experience. Lots of new flavors, although we didn't order any of the spicy options and I think that it may have been more authentic with the spicy spices! Maybe next time. Hope you enjoy the photos of our food- fest... we sure enjoyed eating it.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Last Steps to Home Study Approval

Good News: the nurse that I have been calling every Friday has sent the doctor's letter. Now we just wait for the Home Study to be approved by our social worker's supervisor (our home study is currently on her desk as I type) and our agency's social worker. It's looking like some time next week we might be able to send in our papers to immigration. Please pray for all the powers that be to be satisfied with the paperwork.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Rate Adjustment

Our adoption agency has notified us of a rate adjustment in our projected adoption fees. It seems that the Ethiopia program is growing exponentially and there is a great need for hiring more social workers, purchasing more computers, hiring more caregivers, etc. After thinking this through it not only seems reasonable, but wonderful that these orphans will have better care and be placed in homes more speedily.

Due to these rate adjustments our percent of needed funds in hand is now 35%.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Red Letter Day

Friday was a great day! I picked up the rough draft of our home study from our social worker. We are supposed to look it over and make sure all the details are correct and then take it back to her on Tuesday.

Then, when I got back from the adoption agency I checked our mailbox and found my passport! It only took around a week to get it. Apparently, they haven't had any cutbacks in the US Passport Department. I was so pleasantly surprised.

And to top it all off Ben showed up with his medical in hand. What a great day!

And now only three remain...
1. Kris' medical
2. Kris' doctor's letter
3. The final copy of the home study

...until we can send our I-600A (application for Immigration). Yes! I'm beginning to think this might actually happen.

On another note, today I stopped in and encouraged my nurse to fill out my medicals (which we found out last week had been misplaced). I brought in new copies of the forms last Wednesday. Today she said to give them about two or three more days. I think I will go there again tomorrow.

I often find myself wishing things would fall into place more quickly and smoothly. I think about how each extra week we wait, actually affects which children will be referred to us. Knowing that these little bits and pieces of the process affect the future of our family in such a great way makes me a little crazy. But it also helps me to see that my hands are tied. And that's OK because God's hands are never tied.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I went to the local post office today to apply for my passport. All went smoothly, and when the pleasantly plump USPS worker as me where I plan to travel, I felt a surge of excitement as I replied, "Ethiopia".
When I returned home there was a message on my machine from the local post office. It appears that there was one more paper I need to sign since I held a passport in my maiden name some 15 years ago. One step forward and two steps back. On the bright side, when I return tomorrow maybe a kind USPS worker will once again ask me where I plan to travel. Then it will be worth it.
I also received an email from our social worker who thinks the rough draft of our home study should be ready by next week. She will then send it to our other social worker for approval and proceed to perfect the final copy. When the final copy is set to go, we will send our papers to immigration. And that my friends will be a momentous occasion.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Nearly touching ground on the other side of the home study hurdle...

We are so close to having a home study in our hot little hands. Look out immigration we are about to send you a bunch of papers! We are just waiting for our medicals to be sent to our social worker and a doctor's letter and we are on our way to getting somewhere. Yippie!
My question is how many times can you call a nurse before she gets really annoyed and decides not to send the letter out of spite? Hummm...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

He is Faithful

Today was an amazing day. I was told that I would be presented with a check during the church service this morning. I was told to give an update on the progress of the adoption. After the first couple of songs I was called to the front.

"I would like to ask Kris Andrews up front with me right now, please." So, up I went. "Kris, I would like to present your family with two checks totaling $6,997.00."I pretty much choked out, "Thank you so much!" before I started to cry and rambled on like an idiot. I knew ahead of time the approximate amount of the check. I though I had my emotions under control and I know I had lots of great things that I planned to say. But somehow, as I looked out at the wonderful group of people in our church and I saw those kind- hearted, sacrificial, amazing people... the same people who had given that check to our family...I was speechless and blubbering and amazed at the Lord's faithfulness. I managed to say something about how our adoption experience started full of fears. Fears of the unknown, fears of parenting children who have lost so much, fears of not passing our home inspection, fears of not having the money to bring our babies home, and on and on. Our God has crushed so many of those fears, and today He showed me that He goes before me and He will make a way.

After service we had a potluck (another reason you should come to our church, we know how to eat!) and chatted it up with friends. As I was about to leave, someone who I don't know very well pulled me aside. This person began asking me questions about the adoption in such a serious way that at first I though this person was going to try to talk me out of it. So, I answered this person's questions as thoroughly as I could. After we had finished our brief discussion this person handed me a large sum of cash and said, we would like you to put this toward the adoption. I was blown away... again! (and of course started to tear up and couldn't look anyone in the eye for sometime with out all out crying).

Although it seems very surreal right now, I am more than pleased to post that the Lord has provided 38% of the funds needed to bring home our children. Our Lord is faithful, and I am amazed and overwhelmed and ...speechless.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Match

Our family is honored to be the recipient of the world's greatest baby shower. Our church, The Comstock Church of Christ (service is 10:40 Sunday should really come visit us if you haven't had a chance to lately... it's a great place to worship an Amazing God), has blessed us with a matching gift program. The church has committed to match (from the general fund) the amount that members give toward our adoption expenses. I must say I am blown away by how much people have given! Now keep in mind that we are a small group of people, but our small group of people have given generously and sacrificially. The total given as of last Sunday was around $1,900.00! Can you believe it? If you do the math and double it for the match, it comes out to $3800.00! When you add that to all the other savings, sale, and random job income we've been saving up we are at 27% of our estimated total funds needed.

You have no idea how great it feels to be almost one third of the way there. Thanks you Comstockonians! Thank you God! I feel overwhelmed by the abundance of good things in my life.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Party all night long!

It was definitely a party at the Andrews' house last night. First we had a stomach flu party, then a carpet cleaning party, followed by another stomach flu party. Now we are having a ginger ale and crackers party and are just about to begin the laundry party! I'm so sorry if you didn't get an invitation, but it's probably for the better.:)

The kids were super sweet but it's just so hard to watch them lying around with pale faces knowing that there's not much I can do to help with the exception of a back rub and a cool washcloth. In the midst of it all, I found myself wondering how I would fare as a mother of four sick kids. How could I rub all their backs and comfort them all at the same time?

A friend of the family whom we respect very much often quotes this scripture, which I'm sure applies to all my fears:

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight."

Proverbs 3:5-6

Now I just have to work on acknowledging Him in all my ways...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Super Speedy Clean...It's Home Inspection Time!

Long story short, last Tuesday our appointment with the social worker at her office was relocated to our home. I freaked out. Me, the kids and Ben hurriedly cleaned the house in around two hours. Somewhere in the middle of that we lost track on the dog and as she enjoyed wandering the neighborhood our social worker arrived. Phew, that was a crazy morning. But... I think we passed.

Thankfully, our social worker is very sweet and she knows what it's like to be a mom as she has adopted several times herself. She now has all the information for our home study with the exception of our blood work (figuring out the tests we need and where to get them done and insurance, etc. is more complicated than I thought), and our references (this was overlooked in their office and they were just sent out last week). After that, she can write the glorious document lovingly referred to as "the home study", although it doesn't have much to do with the house. Good thing we only spend two hours cleaning!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

August... August... Aaaaauguuuuuust!

September 1st... tomorrow? What? How did that happen? When did that happen? Apparently I was too busy to notice. What was I up to you ask? Well, let me just tell you about it...

I was busy being blessed with opportunities to make and save money for the upcoming adoption expenses. For those of you who might be looking for some ideas to raise funds for your own adoption, here's what we've been up to:

1. Adoption Benefit Sales/Garage/Bake Sales... We had three this summer with a grand total of $1,612.00. We held one at my house, one at the church, and one at my parent's house in South Haven. HINTS: the more people to help and the more people's stuff the better. Have your sale where people driving by can see it and can stop easily. Be sure to put out a donation jar. You'd be surprised how many people out there have very generous hearts. We had a couple of donations from KIDS that really stuck with me and encouraged me. We even had a total stranger write a check for $50.oo that caught me off guard so much, I was speechless! If you can do this at your Church it also gets people involved which is such a huge blessing. It will definitely cause you to see how awesome it is to be a part of a body of believers. CAUTION: Sales are A LOT of work, so take your vitamins and plan to rest up for a few days afterward. :)

2. Start a Business: Thus, Blue Nile Irrigation... My wonderful husband started this underground sprinkling system business this Spring. It's named after a river/ waterfall in Ethiopia. Ben has managed this type of business in the past so he already had the know how and most of the tools, so it was a lower cost start up as far as businesses go. Go Ben!

3. Child Care in Your Home: This works out pretty well if you are home with your kids already. Although the hourly wage may not be huge, every little bit adds up. It's also good to know a church secretary, because they are apparently in the loop for the community's child care needs. They may even need you to watch their kids while they work at the church...thanks Jessie!

4. Spending Freeze... I have been realizing that we don't really need much as a family. We have clothes and blankets and shampoo, etc. in back stock, so we don't really have the need to buy anything other than food. So, we declared a spending freeze. I decided I could wear the same clothes I have been wearing and not worry about being trenderific. I've cut back on grocery spending as much as I could and found that we actually eat healthier when I make snacks instead of buying snacks, for example. Plus, I hear Aldi is coming to our side of town and I can't wait! So be creative and wear whatever you have lying around and you can save a bundle.

5. Have a House Guest... we've had a grad student friend stay with us for 2 years (who is now happily employed on the West Coast -yeah, Bryan!) and we recently added an exchange student to the mix. This set-up provides low rent for them, English practice, fun and financial help for the adoption. Plus, the kids love it!

Well, that just about wraps up August. I guess I was playing with my kids and my day care kids too, making homemade snacks, tagging garage sale items, making business cards for Blue Nile Irrigation, cooking for house guests, and getting the house ready for our home study inspection. Phew, makes me tired just thinking about it.

Speaking of tired, a good friend of mine just gave birth. She was a week overdue, and I would suspect a bit uncomfortable. This weekend the doctors decided it was time to induce labor. But because of the way the baby was responding to the contractions, the doctors decided changingthe plan to a c-section was best. So, my dear friend was whisked away into the operating room and the surgery was performed. The result.. a perfectly beautiful baby boy and a tired, recovering mother.

In light of my darling friend's experience, a few garage sales and bit of day care doesn't seem so difficult. Perhaps, this is my labor. The result.. two beautiful children and one tired, recovering mother.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Bring on the Adoption Benefit Sale

Won't you join me for a quick travelogue showcasing our preparations for the big sale....
In this first shot we will see mounds of garage sale merchandise. I am blown away by all the donations we've received for the Adoption Benefit Sale at our Church this weekend! We've got piles and piles of great stuff. Thanks for cleaning out your closets everyone! I just want to take a minute and brag on our Church family and let you all know how supportive and generous they have been.
Our preacher, the Rev. Scott Burdick has been a great support... you'll see him at the sale selling hot dogs and popcorn to bring our children home. What a great guy. I tried to talk him into sitting in a dunk tank but that idea didn't fly. Here's a shot of him with his adorable little girl who was a great help entertaining Noah and Lydia while we were sorting stuff.
Toni and Vicki and Laura were awesome at pricing the merchandise this week. You girls are amazing. In the next photo we will see Vicki modeling some great 80's wear. Michael Jackson would be proud. Vicki , however will probably kill me for posting this. Many others from the church are planning to make baked goods to sell. My brother-in-law even drove down from Grand Rapids with a truckload of merchandise to donate. Our neighbors gave us enough stuff to furnish a small home. And the list goes on and on. We feel so blessed. Thanks to all of you who have given so generously of your time and stuff. We are all tagged up and mostly sorted so all that's left to do is to pray for good weather and lots of shoppers on Saturday.
This last picture is of Lydia dancing around in circles after drinking lots of lemonade. I figured that the best way to end a travelogue is with a cute face. And here's to hoping that when it's all said and done we'll be one step closer to a couple more cute faces.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Why Adopt?

I'm sure for each adoptive parent the answer to the question "why?" is at least a little bit different. For us there are many reasons, which I will now attempt to explain. It is my hope that this will be helpful to others who are considering adoption. So here goes...

First, we think big families are great. Since Noah was young, we have talked about raising as many children as we thought we could handle- with the Lord's help of course :). We want to laugh together, grow together, learn from each other, support each other, and be as tight knit as possible. Because of homeschooling our two children are together all the time. It has been one of my greatest joys to watch them grow together as best friends. Yet, I still think there's plenty of room for more best friends. Which leads us to reason number one: we want to adopt as a way of growing our family.

Second, we want to live life intentionally and make a difference in the lives of others with all that God has blessed us with. We are blessed with a home, a ministry that allows me to stay at home with the children and still be able to pay the bills, great family support and encouragement, a heart and a love for raising children, and a gentle hearted son and daughter who adore younger children (especially babies.) It just makes good sense to do something with all those blessings.

Thirdly, some have asked, "Why don't you just have babies the good old-fashioned's cheaper." While I agree that it is significantly less expensive, I also have learned from experience that the cheaper way isn't always the right way. While I could technically carry a child to term and give birth this causes chaos in my body (as it does for every other woman who has ever given birth.) But for me the real trouble begins after the baby is born and the Crohn's Disease that has been silent for some time begins to show it's ugly head. While considering this factor over many years and much prayer Ben and I have decided that it's better be an healthy and energetic mom than to grow our family the good old-fashioned way. Over time I have realized that this health factor has given me the push I needed to follow through with what I always wanted to do but probably would have been too intimidated to grow our family through adoption.

Fourth, The Bible tells us,

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27

Some might view this as a rule that we must do. However, it has been my experience that when we obey God we are the ones who are blessed. And I can't wait to meet our little blessings. Several good friends have mentioned to us that they thought it was amazing how we were "saving" these children. They were impressed by how "selfless" this act of charity was. Well good friends, I hate to shatter this great opinion you have of us (laugh) , but for me it's not about how charitable we are and how much the children need us. To be sure the children's life expectancy may be lengthened. They will be part of a family that loves them dearly, have access to health care, nutritious food, and perhaps they may even earn a college degree. For me it's much more about God placing a deep desire in my heart to love our adopted children. I can't wait to bring them home and fatten them up and love on them. I can't wait to call them my own and fulfill the desire that God has placed in my heart to be their mama.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Coddington Closeout

Thought I'd post some pics form the sale...just view these photos while sitting in 90 degree temperatures with 98% humidity and it'll almost be like you were there. We found some shade and tried not to drink up all the lemonade.
The view from the road...
Our two best sales people. Ice cold lemonade and Gram's cookies...yum.
Three cheers for mom!!! Gimmie a S! Gimmie a U! Gimmie a E! What's that spell?
Look at all that great stuff! Thanks Joanne, Josh and Kristin, Dael and Abbie, and Mom. You guys are great!


I'm feeling a bit deflated at the one of the salmon pink balloons lying on the dining room floor from Lydia's birthday party last Wednesday. It could be the late night tagging merchandise or all that heat and humidity we sat in for the sale yesterday. It could also be the panini sandwich of specialty meats that tasted amazing when I ate it a few hours earlier but isn't sitting to well at the moment. Or, perhaps it's simply the task ahead seems so far beyond what I could possibly do that I am feeling a sense of, well, smallness.

Smallness... is actually good and helpful when one turns it into humility. At the moment I am trying to find my way around the corner of smallness and onto the street of humility. Smallness just leads to hopelessness, but humility is strength in the knowledge that we are small, but God is not.

I suppose that after the sale I had hoped to increase the percent of "the amount raised for two tickets home" by at least one percent. I admit I was a bit disappointed when I worked out the math and realised only a .7% increase. But I am beginning to grasp that if this adoption becomes a reality it will be because of a work of God, not a work of Kris. And that's the way I want it to be. But it will only be that way if I take a deep breath and turn the corner from small to humble and allow The Creator of this universe to do His work.

So many great people helped with our first fundraiser and in no way to I think that it was a bust. It was .7%. But more than is moving me toward humility which gives God something to work with. He's probably like, "Finally Kris, you got out of my I can do something BIG!." So, thank you to Joanne, Aki, Josh and Kristin, Susie Q., Dael and Abbie, Ben, Noah and Lydia. You donated, marked, baked, helped sell, setup, cleanup, etc. Plus, we have plenty of loot left over for the next sale. You have each been a huge blessing! I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Now I leave you with words of wisdom that I would do well to take hold of:

"When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. He led you through the vast and dreadful desert, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. He gave you manna to eat in the desert, something your fathers had never known, to humble and to test you so that in the end it might go well with you. You may say to yourself, "My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me." But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.

Deuteronomy 8:10-18

That deflated balloon doesn't look so sad to me anymore. It just looks ready to be filled- with HOPE.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Our First Sale...I said sale not sail, Ben

Who doesn't love a good garage sale? I know I love 'em. When I see that florescent pink sign on a corner my car swerves like it's on auto pilot. I believe I inherited this from my mother who inherited it from her Gram, I would guess.
But on the other side of the fence is the person putting on the sale. Some would call this a lot of work and very little pay. But to me, there's just something great about watching all that stuff exit your home and find a use somewhere out in the big, big world. And as far as the money goes... every little bit helps. We are going to have a great sale. Here's the plan:

Friday, June 27th
at the Andrews Home
9 to 4

We've already had several friends donate items to sell. Thank you my dear friends.

Noah and Lydia plan to bake huge cookies and mix up lemonade to sell. Lydia has a very well thought out plan of attack. They will be using their cash register to make the sales transactions with Noah handling the money for boy customers and Lydia waiting on the girls. She often brings up her "great idea" and cannot wait to see it to fruition. Neither can I.

My plan of attack is similar, but more drawn out. I plan to cleanse my home of every unused item for a couple of hours each day this week. I will pile these items in my living room in a huge pile until it annoys me so much I begin to tag the items. I also plan to harass my friends and neighbors into bringing their extra junk over to my living room pile. Then on Thursday we (myself and any other poor soul I can convince to join me, i.e. the children) shall bake gigantic cookies and tag items until we pass out. Then we will get up very early and transfer said tagged items to the front lawn and wait.

As I go through the stuff in my house and decide what to sell and what to keep it's interesting how my heart responds. It's different than when I have prepared for sales in the past. It's crazy but I really sense a feeling of desperation. A feeling that my children are on the other side of the world and I need to get them home. Who knew I would feel this way just because I filled out a few papers and sent them to an adoption agency? I certainly didn't expect it. But I do. I feel very little attachment to my"stuff" any more. Because every item has the potential to bring me .25 or .50 or 1.00 closer to holding my kiddos in my arms.

Noah and Lydia went to summer camp this weekend and they brought home little treasure chests that they had painted. Noah's is blue and Lyd's is pink and yellow. Inside each was a little blue "jewel." Noah proudly showed me his little blue box and said, "you shouldn't store up treasure on earth, Mommy." So true, so true.

"Don't store up treasures for yourself here on earth where moths and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal, but store up for yourselves treasure in heaven where moths and rust do not destroy and thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is there your heart will be also."
- Jesus

See you at The Sale!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Naming it

So, we are taking votes on the naming of the blog.

So far:
Adding Andrews
And then there were four or six or whatever
The Andrews Addition

Any ideas out there?

Let the BLOG Begin!

Apparently, even I, the daughter-of-two-computer-programmers-who-is-yet-somehow-non-computer-savvy can create a blog. Amazing.

The purpose of this blog is to record the happenings of the Andrews family as we embark on the adventure of growing our family through adoption. We hope to keep you, our friends and family, informed of the haps and up to date with where we are in the process. We also hope to communicate our excitement as we learn more about the country in which our children were born and to share it with you. Thus, I would like to thank you ahead of time for being encouraging and welcoming as we prepare for our new children to join our family, which to many of you is your family as well. And to thank you for not telling us we are crazy (at least not to our faces:)).