Sunday, December 29, 2013

PRAY for Ethiopia!!!!

Dec 26th started the process of my heart breaking for the children of Ethiopia and each day since it is becoming more real that what I thought was a rumor story, may be a reality.  If you haven't heard, this heart breaking news is that there are a lot of important people in Ethiopia wanting to close doors on international adoption.  The final step, from what I have heard, is the prime minister will have to agree in order for this to occur.  Yes, this is a punch in the gut for our family who is in the process of adopting and although I haven't seen her face, I know our daughter is in Ethiopia, I just do and so do our boys!  We haven't seen our daughter's face and if we had this would be a whole new level of heart breaking but there ARE families who have seen their child's face and have even met them but because of where they are in the paperwork process, their children could become stuck without a family and grow up in an orphanage in Ethiopia...Please PLEASE pray for this country, for the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, for these families, and most importantly for the children!!!! 

I am writing letters, sending FB messages, posting pictures and doing anything I can to help show the government how children can thrive, be happy and have success stories when being adopted internationally and I am asking you to do the same if you can.  You can email your success story, as well as can contact local and state representatives.

Here's the letter I emailed to the Ethiopian embassy tonight:

To Whom It May Concern in Regards to International Adoptions in Ethiopia:

My name is Joely O'Neal and I am married with 2 children, our 5 year old biological son and our 8 year old adopted Ethiopian son.  Our family has a heart for children who are growing up without mothers and fathers and feel that God has called us to take action and be a family to children who are without.  We do not adopt because we can't have kids on our own, we do not adopt to fulfill something we need but we adopt because we have been blessed by growing up in a family and want the same for all the children in this world.  My heart aches for children who don't know the true love of a mother or father, the children who are starving, in pain, sad and are growing up with a life no one would ever want for their own child.  I would hope that if something happened to myself, my husband or our family and we couldn't care for our child, that someone else would step up and take care of them the way we would, so why wouldn't I do the same for someone else?  I didn't know my older son's biological family before I met him but I knew he was given up out of love to be cared for as he was sick and malnourished.  I knew God called us to be the family to him that his biological father wanted.  We were blessed to be able to meet our son's father while in-country for court and were able to (via translator) speak to him, show him pictures and ask him questions so he would know where his son would be and know more about who his son's new family was. 
We have been beyond blessed that God brought a (then) 7 year old boy into our life. A child who had been waiting in the orphanages in southern Ethiopia and then in Addis for 2 years. This boy was shy, malnourished, embarrassed and in pain due to his teeth, had difficulty communicating since he had to learn a new language when moving to Addis, was not doing well in school and didn't show affection towards anyone. Today, almost 18 months later, our now 8 year old son is out-going, has a lot of friends, loves playing on his soccer team, is healthy and has gained 20 pounds and grown 5 inches, has a mouth full of healthy, pain-free teeth, talks non-stop, says please and thank you and knows right from wrong, is a rule-abider, giggles when he gets hugged and now hugs back. He also is very intelligent and has a heart for other orphaned children and is excited to have a sister from Ethiopia someday as well as is excited to go back to Ethiopia with us to visit his biological family and bring gifts to children who are there living without moms and dads.  We attend church regularly and he has grown to know who Jesus is and has accepted him as his savior earlier this year.  We celebrate our son's biological father on father's day, his late mother on mother's day and we talk about his siblings often. We look at pictures from Ethiopia, watch videos we took while there and he shares memories he has from his childhood.  We celebrate Genna and cook Ethiopian foods for him. We meet up with many of his friends from Ethiopia quite often and he knows we love Ethiopia and want him to always know where he came from. Our younger, biological son, loves his big brother and anticipates a younger sister from Ethiopia and cannot wait to travel there to meet her and see where his big brother came from. We are a blessed family and we have more room in our home and more love in our hearts to give and are praying that Ethiopia will allow us to once again give a child or children a forever family, hope, love and a life that embraces their country and it's culture.
We understand that not every adoption story turns out the way ours has and our family is not perfect, like any new situation there was adjustments, ups and downs and mixed emotions but was it worth it all?  Absolutely!  We also know that it is everyone's responsibility to make sure practices are done ethically and in the best interest of the children and we are thankful for any laws to occur to protect these children as much as possible.  With that said we are praying that it is known that completely shutting down the ability to allow international adoptions to occur, decreases the number of chances some of these children will ever have to survive an illness they have, to have a mom and dad and to grow up knowing the love of a family and thrive in this world.  It is my goal to raise my children to grow up  loving Jesus and become loving individuals who live to bless others and be world changers. 
In closing, please know we are praying for these decisions, praying for the children who are waiting and have been waiting, praying for the children who need medicine that may not be available there, medical treatment that may not be available there right now, praying for the people who have had to relinquish their children out of love who are praying for a family to come in and care for their child when they couldn't and of course we always are praying for these situations to not even exist, for food and clean water to be abundant, for shelter and clothing to be available and for all children to feel loved.  We (as Americans) know and appreciate that we are plan C...we are here to help and to be a family to children in need but we are thankful for processes to be in place to make sure these children can't be cared for by other family members or other Ethiopians before allowing us to be there. 
With Love and Concern,
Joely O'Neal
Ada, Oklahoma, USA

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Ready to Submit our Dossier!!!!!

We are moving right along in this next adoption (3-4 mths ahead of our last adoption timeline) and are praying daily that God will guide every step and open all the doors needed. With the holidays it seems like the paperwork and fund-raising has been put on the back burner although it is on my mind daily and honesty, hourly. We don't know who she is yet or if there are 1 or 2 girls that God has in mind for our family but we are just doing the steps we can do to be available for the child or children that need a home and a family and the rest is in His timing. We have our dossier basically finished with 2 small things left to do and it can be sent off but I guess I have been putting it off because until we have the next fee to submit, there really is no rush on getting it turned in. 
As it stands right now we need $3,308 more to go before we can submit our dossier and we have 2 great fundraisers going on right now but I have been slacking on getting the word out about them so I guess better late than never :) 
Through an amazing organization called Ordinary Hero (OH), people are able to make donations to them on behalf of our family and they are TAX DEDUCTIBLE!!!  This will last beyond the end of this year but with Jan 1st being 6 DAYS AWAY, I wanted to make sure I got it out there in case someone is praying about the perfect place to make their "end of the year" donation.  There is a small percentage taken out of the overall donation to go to OH but they do such wonderful things all over the world and need all the help they can get to keep doing what they do. 
To make a tax deductible donation on behalf of our adoption you can go here:
Also through OH, we are an affiliate adopting family which means we can sell their t-shirts, hats, ornaments, travel mugs, etc and get 40% of the proceeds. This also is AMAZING because most organizations and opportunities to sell items only allow for 20% or less so 40% is HUGE! The money gets sent right to our agency every month in our name. Many have asked if we were selling t-shirts soon and have even requested shirts but right now we really have a lot on our plates and instead of making our own shirts again, we are just going to be selling Ordinary Hero's.  They really are great quality, cute prints and are good for anyone, adopting or you know anyone you would consider to be a hero to you or someone else?  Or anyone making a difference in this world for any reason?  If so they make the perfect gifts, teachers, pastors, babysitters, family, friends, or of course other adopting families.  
To check out the OH store go here:  when you check out click on "o'neal, joely" as the affiliate name to make sure it goes to our adoption.
Our time-frame at this time is looking like this:
May 2013:  announced our adoption
Sept 2013:   home-study visits completed
Oct  2013:   officially approved to adopt through Adoption Advocates International (AAI)
Nov 2013:   USCIS fingerprints done
Nov 2013:   USCIS approval to adopt a child 0-5 yrs old
The Next Steps:  Save/raise $3,308 to send our dossier to our agency, then we wait for "the call" saying they have a daughter or daughters for us.
I'm not gonna lie, I am already anxious for that day, the day we see the face of our daughter!  Even just saying those words "our daughter", makes me so anxious in such a wonderful way.  Although only God knows how long this wait will be, because our we are able to adopt older and because our agency doesn't have an extreme number of families waiting, likely the wait will not be as long as some experience, 5 families accepted referrals last month alone and 7 families cleared embassy to bring their children home!
In closing Merry Christmas from our family to yours!