Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Lucky Ladybug Necklace

In the adoption world, ladybugs are a symbol of luck and there's a widespread belief that a ladybug sighting is the sign of an upcoming referral (or match to your child)! I am not a huge jewelry person but I have become a fan of Premier Jewelry lately. They are a Christian based company with integrity and good values. I came across a really cool Lucky Ladybug necklace and earrings in their recent catalog. Perfect gift for a friend or relative waiting to adopt or who have adopted...or for yourself if you're an adoptive parent! Only $29 for the 13" necklace (w/3" extender lobster enclosure) and $21 for the earrings.

If you're in Tucson, my friend, Tamara is a Premier consultant and if you're in Phoenix, my friend Eileen is a consultant. Contact them and they can hook you up with a great gift!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Dinner for a Great Cause!

Hey Tucsonans!!! Click on this image, print it, 
enjoy your dinner tonight!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


During Nate's Fall Break (yes Tucson schools get fall break because they start the first week in Aug), we met up with my family in Orlando for a fun, crazy vacation...Disney World, the beach, Disney's Animal Kingdom and lots of pool time! It was great to see my family again, especially since it had been 3 years since I'd seen my brother's family. Nate had a fun time with the cousins and the grandparents!

Clearwater Beach (on the gulf side)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Prayers for a Friend...

I just wanted to share this email I received from my friend and art agent, Karen. Karen has already lost her sister and mom to cancer and now facing another blow with her brother and father. This is her only family and yet I'm amazed and inspired by Karen's faith and her family's faith in Christ and courage through these battles. I honestly don't know how they would get through this without such a strong faith! Please remember them in prayer today. Thanks! -Denise

Dear family and friends,

I just wanted to give you an update on Terry since it has been a couple months since his last surgery…

Since his brain surgery at the end of August, Terry has had some complications due to pneumonia. He has been in the hospital for the past two weeks and has been having a very difficult time. After consultations with doctors, Terry and Erika have decided he should go home under Hospice care. 

His three wishes right now are:
  • To be in his home with Erika
  • To swallow
  • To be comfortable
I have been in Northern California for the past week and compared to when I arrived, Terry is breathing much more comfortably and the plan is that he will be going home tomorrow afternoon… so at least a couple of his wishes are coming true.   The swallowing issue is a big one…there is a large tumor pressing against his esophagus, which is not allowing him to swallow.  His cancer has spread throughout his body and at this point there are no more treatment options. 

He has fought this battle for two years now…He has been so strong, positive and brave throughout all the surgeries, PT and “come backs”…he has lived up to his title of “miracle man” after beating so many odds…he truly is an inspiration!!! All the things we typically take for granted like eating, walking, breathing, etc. are things he can no longer do or are slowly being taken away.  Unfortunately it seems that this horrible disease has the upper hand and he doesn’t have much more “fight”  or time left.  When he was told he could no longer eat, he told me he felt like this was just one more thing that was slowly being taken away from him. He has been through so much and it just breaks my heart that he has to go through this!! He has fought so very hard and I truly believe he has been hanging on for his beautiful wife, Erika. She is the love of his life and I don’t think he would have hung on nearly as long had it not been for her.   Please continue to pray for both of them as they go through these next few weeks together. Beside an incredible miracle of healing, please pray for their peace, comfort, and revelation to faith.  It is my hope and prayer that they would look to God for the peace and comfort that only He can provide.  

I would also ask you to pray for my dad…his health has not been good…he has been in an out of the hospital the past few weeks and now with facing the loss of his son after losing his daughter and wife only a few years ago it is extremely hard on him… I worry about him and how much more he can take.  We just celebrated his 83rd birthday today, but I know his heart is heavy with what the next few weeks will hold.

Thank you all for your continued love, support, friendship and prayers for my family. It is hard to believe that I am losing another sibling to cancer…it is almost too much to bare at times, but thanks to faith, love and support from dear family and friends, we will get through this.

I am hanging on to the following verses which give me strength and comfort…

“For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power.” Philippians 4:13

“After you have suffered, our God will give you His glory.  He will pick you up and set you firmly in place and make you stronger than ever.”  1 Peter 5:10,11

“He will wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, nor pain.  All of that has gone forever.”  Revelation 21:4

 “God heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.” Psalms 147:3

My hope and prayer to you is that you would keep close to your love ones and appreciate the time you have with them…life is precious and so very short at times…

Love you all,


Thursday, October 4, 2012

The SlowDown on Adoption

Many of you have asked where we are in the adoption process. The answer...still waiting to be matched up with a child. Here's a recent email we received from our adoption agency regarding the slow down. Some of you have asked, "Why not foster adopt? It's cheaper and the kids are available." Money is not the reason we adopt. Kids are not cheap items to be purchased. We felt led to International adoption and that's where we "went". Others are led to foster adopt, and still others to domestic adoption. 

The decision to adopt is a GOOD choice..regardless of where it may be and we fully support families who choose to adopt foster, domestic or international. The best thing others can do is throw their support and encouragement to all parents who choose to adopt rather than criticize their choices. Adoptive families NEED and CRAVE the support of those of you who may not be able or feel led to adopt but your love and encouragement speaks VOLUMES! Big thanks to those of you who have & continue to do this kindness. 

FROM OUR ADOPTION AGENCY......We realize that many of you are still concerned about the slow rate at which we are matching children to waiting families. Please know that we have discussions here almost daily, sometimes several times a day, regarding referrals and looking at what can be done, if anything, to bring more children to the point of referral.  The truth is, even with our best efforts, we cannot supersede the Ethiopian government or the US government with regard to how they process children’s cases.  For those of you who have followed international adoption over the past several years, you know that international adoption overall has changed and fewer and fewer children around the world are finding their way into adoptive homes, and it doesn’t seem as though this trend will stop anytime soon. As well, Ethiopia has seen significant changes over the past couple of years and as a result fewer Ethiopian children are finding their way into American homes each year.  Even families adopting from China are now experiencing a 6 year wait for a healthy referral, which was a jump from10-12 months in just a short time.  

We are telling new families entering the Ethiopia program, as we have been telling them for some time now, to expect a 4 year wait to complete their adoption. We have always told families that the wait time for a referral can change at any time during the process; it can get shorter or longer. Of course we always hope for shorter, but this is not the trend that we have been seeing of late - but no one can actually predict what the actual wait time will be.  We give our best estimates based on what we are seeing currently. There are many ups and downs and so much can change at any time as it relates to international adoption.  Families entering the program of late are expressing a desire to adopt from Ethiopia regardless of how long it will take. Here are some of the reasons for the slowdown in referrals.1. Ethiopian government promoting domestic adoptions within their own country.
  • Though this is not likely to take place on a wide scale, Ethiopia is bringing awareness to their citizen’s, and considering homes for children in Ethiopia first before completing paperwork on children to be adopted internationally.
  • What paperwork is needed and how that paperwork is to be processed has been amended a few times over time, and more and more documentation is being required on each child’s case then previously required. Depending on the region, gathering this paperwork can take several months. The documents are not generated from one office, but from multiple offices, entities, locations and even regions.
  • Requirements and guidelines can vary from region to region on the gathering and processing of a child’s case, and clearing a child for adoption. Changes can take place at any time, even day to day.
  • Staff changes happen quite frequently in the different offices that process adoption paperwork.  Often new workers come in who are not familiar with adoption or processing the paperwork needed, etc., thus it takes a while before they are brought up to speed and perhaps by that time someone else new is in place. This is not referring to CHI staff changes but changes in the various offices/regions involved in preparing and clearing necessary paperwork on children’s cases. Several of the CHI adoption staff in our Addis Ababa office has been in place for quite some time.
  • Ethiopia is not the US and cannot be expected to operate like the US. Ethiopia’s system of operating cannot be compared to how we work and accomplish tasks in the US. Due to the  infrastructure of Ethiopia, it’s often very challenging to get things done.
  • Though we try to seek out the best orphanages to work with for the referral of children, unfortunately sometimes when we sign an agreement with an orphanage, the director may not honor the agreement as it was intended and we do not receive the referrals that we anticipate.
 2. More paperwork needed on children
 3. New guidelines.
 4.  We aim to have as much documentation that we can on a case before we refer a child to a family with the hope that the family can move forward in the process without delay after the child is referred. 5.  Frequent staff changes in  various offices in Ethiopia      .
 6. Ethiopia vs. US
 7.  Though we see and understand the urgency of matching a child with a family as quickly as possible, and though our incountry staff makes this a priority as well, it is not seen as a priority with various other entities in Ethiopia  - as Ethiopia is, and has been aiming to bring awareness to their citizen’s about adoption and  are looking at other ways to help their needy children first. So though there are still many orphans who need homes, the process does not happen as quickly as you or I prefer that it would. 8. Orphanage director’s do not always honor their agreements
 9.  Some regions/officials of Ethiopia still are not comfortable with, or are not pro international adoption, though they allow it; in those instances, the processes may take longer to complete than we would like to see. You may hear that some agencies are receiving referrals while other agencies are not. I am in contact with a few agencies who work in Ethiopia and they have reported that their referrals are also down from previous years and even this year, and that referrals are slow coming. Some agencies as well do not place infants, and some may have a very short list of families on their waiting list – which could account for a quicker referral time.  Keep in mind  also that information can vary from agency to agency depending on  how many orphanages an agency works with, how many agencies an orphanage is placing children with; what region the agency works in, etc. The region where we receive the majority of our referrals (Oromiya region)  has put new processes in place which  has unfortunately caused the processes to move a child forward for referral to take longer; but we have to respect Ethiopia’s system for clearing their children for international adoption, as it really is an honor to have them placing their children with all of us.    

We are certainly looking at what we can do in Ethiopia to bring more referrals through the process quicker but again even with our best efforts we cannot override the Ethiopian government or the US government’s processes. We have to follow what they have put in place. We do have referrals in the pipeline, but still all of the paperwork is not complete.  Some of the children’s cases are complicated, and we are aiming to get all of the information required, that we are aware of, before we offer the children for referral. I hope this will help to clarify some of the reasons behind the lack of frequent referrals. We’re trusting that more children’s paperwork will be completed before too long. Stay strong.

Monday, October 1, 2012


Big Nate... that's one of his favorite books and I guess I'll have to call him that, now that he's turned the Big 6! Happy Birthday Nate!