Friday, July 30, 2010

Mezekir's Final Adoption

I should have learned to expect the unexpected by now...I'm still learning.  In all of the planning and anticipation of "the perfect day", the time arrives and it is not ever what we intended.  Let me say, this is too true for our welcoming of Mez as a US citizen and legal member of our family.   In an attempt to make memories, we invited all of our friends to join us for our re-adoption.  Unfortunately, holding court on a Wednesday morning at 7:45 a.m. 2 1/2 hours away from our hometown makes it difficult for friends to join in on our celebration.  A few friends and family blazed a trail to observe what they missed April 4th, 2010 in Addis Ababa.  But let's rewind.

Tuesday morning, our phone rang early (well early for the summer time).  A dear friend, who shall remain nameless unless she chooses to incriminate herself, was inquiring why she could not locate our family anywhere at the courthouse.  Oops!  I wasn't sure how to break the news that she arrived a day early and overzealous.  She graciously accepted the news.  And instead of calling it a total wash, she scoped out the scene and photographed herself in the courtroom.  Too funny!  Mez's life book will boast of this lone ranger waiting for dear Mez's re-adoption 24 hours later.

Now the same day, 15 minutes later, here at the home front, Hunter, our oldest son, and his friend woke and decided to begin the day with an early game of golf.  As said friend and Hunter perfected their swings, said friend stepped behind Hunter and met the end of his club...full force.  With his face filleted from eyebrow to mid-forehead and parents out of town, we threw the family into gear and trekked to the ER.  Twelve stitches and many tears (on my part, not the friend's) later, we began our trip to Fort Worth 3 hours post-planned with our every nerve firing.  We remained grateful our friend's eye was spared, there was no damage to the skull, and no further medical care is needed.  Whew!

Regardless of our late departure, we committed to an evening of celebration.  Our friends, who spent the month with us in Ethiopia, my sister's family, and my mom joined us for a cultural dinner at Addis Abeba in Richardson, TX.  I must say, after three months back in the states, we felt more at home eating dinner than we have since we left Ethiopia.  The kids toasted our chosen family and friends abroad.  We drank and ate in their honor. Cheers Habasha!  Then, we headed to Fort Worth.  
 
Cheer to Betasub!
Wat and injera.


Dinner for Men.
Shortly after arriving at the hotel, it was clear Hunter was sick.  He revered the porcelain god at the Sheraton until 4:00 a.m.  Hunter opted out of the court appearance.  My mom stayed with him.  Stacy and family could not make court due to a flooring catastrophe.  Our faithful friends accompanied us as far as the court house until I remembered all of our paperwork for the adoption remained in the hotel room.  Ever so graciously, they raced back and collected the papers.  They made it just in time to observed our adoption, act as our personal paparazzi, and cheer us on.
    
                     
                       Adoption Hearing.
Our attorney.

Our judge oozed of kindness.  He welcomed us to the bench, allowed our photographers to stand on the bench beside him to get the "best shots", came down, hugged and held Mez, appeared for many photo ops, and encouraged us in our journey.  I cried when Judge Carrolton purposed, "Up to this point your obligation has been moral.  From this moment on, your obligation to this child is legal, binding, and fully acknowledged by this nation.  Mezekir is now entitled to the same rights as your natural children, just as though he were born of you."  I felt the same flood of emotions as I did at the embassy in Addis.  God is so good in many ways.  I will never cease to wonder at his goodness and faithfulness in granting us our son.  I will never move past the miracle of spiritual adoption and the tangible nature of its revelation as we walked out the adoption of our son.  Need I say more?
Our Family, minus Hunter.
After court, we headed to the Gladney Center for Adoption.  Our Ethiopia team welcomed Mez.  It was their first time to see him.  Two years after meeting us, our friends and caseworkers were able to hold Mez.  Surely, they love seeing the full circle effect.
Ethiopia Team at Gladney (except Kristin)

At long last, Mezekir is officially a Knight.  I think it was official in our hearts the moment we dreamt of him, but there is joy in the knowledge it's legally binding.  Welcome home, Mez.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Almost There

July 28th is right around the corner.  At 7:45 a.m. in the Tarrant County Courthouse, we will readopt our son, Mezekir Knight.  Our readoption of Mezekir not only makes him an American citizen but is also the final step in this adoption process.  Any, who would like to attend, (and no, at 7:45 a.m. we don't expect too many takers) are welcome to meet us at 7:30 on the 5th floor.  From there we will head for a celebratory brunch in Dallas, so let us know if you will join!  I have to admit, a portion of my heart is sad Mez must relinquish his Ethiopian citizenship to become a member of the mighty US of A. But I'm ready to move forward and see what is in store next for the Knight Family of 6.  Keep your eyes and ears tuned in for new news.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Ten Months and Ten Reasons I Love

Mezekir, only 3 1/2 months ago, joined our family.  Now ten months old, we celebrate another month of his life.  The reasons for my love cannot be answered.  The depths of my love cannot be measured.  The ways I love you are too many.  Here, we offer only a small tribute:  ten reasons we love you more and more every moment of every breath of every day.

1.  Your eyes are entrancing. Every time I look in them, I HAVE TO praise the mighty Creator.


2.  You are content with the smallest bits of attention and affection...but you revel in the love your family loves to lavish on you.  Thank you for accepting a love that seemed so foreign.

3.  You taught us more than we may ever teach you.  Many have said you are intended for great things.  The Maker of heaven and earth has already used you for many great things in our lives.

4.  You wiggle in delight each time you see your family. Arms flail. Legs thrash wildly. Full on delight. You love us because we first loved you, and this reminds us of the scriptural application of this truth.


5.  You brought another level of purpose and solidarity to our family, your family.

6.  You fit right in from the beginning.  We would have been grateful to work through any of the hard, but you made this process a sheer joy.  In this too, we take constant praise to the throne.  Another way your life has already directed glory to the Lord.


7.  Your cry is distinctly different than any other.  You trill your tongue when you mad cry.  This reminds me how different you are.  Unique in your ways, you (just as intended) stand out.  It gives me hope that you will not conform rather transform.


8.  Your laugh is contagious.  Though a man of few sounds, when you do laugh the world catches on and can't resist joining in.

9.  Your plump lips are kissable, and you LOVE to kiss.  From the moment you came home, you would grab our faces, pull us to you, try to consume our entire face as you rubbed your lips all over our faces.  I love your reckless abandon in loving us.


10.  You are mine.  Ours.  You are here.  Finally.  An answer to prayer after years of wait. Thank you, Jesus.

Happy ten month birthday, Mezekir!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

You've Been Asking


At the store today, another woman asked where Mezekir was from.  She asked why we felt the need to go so far away to grow our family when there are so many children in need of families here in the States.  Fair question.  Just remembering a few of the reasons Ethiopia was the route we chose to grow our family:  


Comparative Human Development Statistics* (where information for the United States is provided in parenthesis):
78% = Population not using an improved water source
16% = Under age 5 mortality rate
45% = Population < 15 years old (21%)
64.1% = Adult illiteracy rate (0%)
77.8% = Population living at less than $2/day
38% = Children under weight (2%)
$21 = per capita health expenditure ($6,096)
6% = births attended by skilled health personnel (99%)
3 = physicians per 100,000 (256)
2 = internet users/1,000 people (630)
$1,055 = GDP/capita using PPP ($41,890)
*Source: UN Human Development Report 2007/08 

So if you were wondering, this should clarify just a FEW of the reasons Ethiopia was the right match for us.  


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Together for Adoption Conference...Don't Miss It!!!!

Conference 2010


Together for Adoption Conference 2010 will be October 1-2, 2010, in Austin, Texas, hosted by The Austin Stone Community Church and Hill Country Bible Church (the conference venue), and in partnership with Hope for Orphans. Our conference theme is “The Gospel, the Church, and the Global Orphan Crisis.” Lord willing, the 2010 conference will be the largest and most helpful conference yet, with gospel-saturated general sessions, longer breakout sessions, and more time to network with other churches, organizations, and adoptive families. They've intentionally structuring the conference around the gospel and community (see conference schedule).

Check out the fantastic lineup of keynote speakers for the conference.



Dan Cruver – Topic: “A Lifelong Love: Keeping the Gospel at the Center of Orphan Ministry.”

Before co-founding and directing Together for Adoption, Dan was a college professor of Bible and Theology. He has also served as a pastor of family ministries. As one who has been adopted by God and has adopted two children, Dan founded Together for Adoption to equip churches and educate Christians theologically about orphan care and horizontal adoption. Dan regularly writes and speaks about the Gospel and its implications for earthly adoption and the care of orphans. He wrote the foreword to Heirs with Christ: The Puritans on Adoption by Dr. Joel Beeke and is a regular contributor to The Gospel Coalition Blog. Dan has been married to Melissa for 18 years, and together they have four children.



Bryan Loritts – Topic: “The Church as the Theater of Transracial Adoption.”

Bryan is the Lead Pastor of Fellowship Memphis- a multicultural church ministering to the evolving community of urban Memphis. Bryan has also served as an adjunct professor at Crichton College, and is on the board of trustees for Presbyterian Day School, and Memphis Leadership Foundation. In addition to serving the community of Memphis, Bryan’s ministry takes him across the country as he speaks to thousands annually at churches, conferences and retreats. He is also the author of the book God on Paper; as well as a contributing author for the book entitled Great Preaching. Bryan is a graduate of Philadelphia Biblical University, Talbot School of Theology and is currently working on his Doctorate of Philosophy from Oxford Graduate School. Bryan and his wife Korie have their three sons Quentin, Myles and Jaden. For more on Bryan and Fellowship Memphis, visit fellowshipmemphis.org.



Aaron Ivey – Worship Leader.

Aaron Ivey, a husband and adoptive father, believes that all worship is a response to a creative and compelling God. Serving as one of the worship pastors at The Austin Stone, Aaron now views touring ministry as an extension of what goes on within a vibrant, healthy local church. With a passion for living out God’s word, compassion for God’s children, and a deep, abiding love of God, Aaron and his bandmates are challenging a generation of believers to take their experiences in corporate worship out into the world, to marry song with service.



Darrin Patrick – Topic: “The Trinity as Model and Motive for Church-based Orphan Care.” Darrin’s talk will be via a brief video. We’re currently in the process of adding another keynote speaker.

Darrin serves as lead pastor of The Journey in Saint Louis, MO, which he founded in 2002. Darrin also serves as Vice President of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network and is a regular contributor at The Resurgence. His passion is to help the church understand and live the gospel in the world. Today, The Journey runs eight services across four campuses and continues to aggressively plant new campuses and churches in the Saint Louis region and beyond. He recently finished two books: Church Planter: the man, the message and the mission and A Church for the City with Matt Carter. Darrin is married to his high school sweetheart, Amie, and they have four beautiful children: Glory, Grace, Drew, and Delaney. Darrin enjoys vacations with his family, basketball, good food, good books, good movies, and weightlifting.



Carlos Whittaker – Host.

Carlos Whittaker is an artist, pastor, thinker, experience architect, and Web 2.0 junkie. Carlos was at Sandals Church in Riverside California where he served for 10 years as the Pastor of Worship and Creative Arts. Sandals Church is an authentic community of believers whose goal is to be real with themselves, others, and God. His passion for leading the church into a relational worship experience each and every Sunday was his hearts goal.

In August of 2007 Carlos and his family made the move from Southern California to Atlanta, GA. Carlos became the Director of Service Programming at Buckhead Church which is one of the three North Point Community Church campuses. He oversaw all the Sunday adult experience and design. He directly oversaw all areas Hosting, Production, Creative, Video, Music, and Programming at Buckhead Church. He also sat on the creative sermon planning team for Andy Stanley. Recently Carlos signed with Integrity Music to pursue a recording career and to continue to disturb and disrupt the church as a whole. Carlos and Heather Whittaker have 3 children. In November 2006, Carlos and his wife Heather adopted their son Losiah from Seoul Korea.



Matt Carter – Topic: “The Church as the Champion of Social Justice.”

Matt serves as lead pastor at The Austin Stone, which he planted in 2002. The first meeting of 30 people now encompasses 5000 worshippers on Sundays, making The Austin Stone one of the 100 fastest growing churches in America. Matt’s vision is to foster the churches passion for Christ, love for each other, and outreach to their communities – ultimately planting churches throughout America and the nations, supporting missionaries who are loving the peoples of the world and bringing them the hope of the gospel. In addition to pastoring at The Austin Stone, Matt is a cancer survivor, author and speaker for camps and conferences nationwide. Matt holds an MDiv from Southwestern Seminary and lives in Austin with his wife Jennifer and their children: John Daniel, Annie, and Samuel.



Dr. Karyn Purvis – Topic: “Counting the Cost: Preparing Churches for the Adoption Journey.”

Dr. Karyn Purvis is the Director of the Institute of Child Development at Texas Christian University (TCU) in Fort Worth, Texas. During the past decade, she and her colleagues at the Institute have invested their efforts towards developing biblical and researched-based interventions for at-risk children. Throughout her life, Karyn’s personal and professional calling has been to create a welcoming, loving environment for children who come from “hard places”. Karyn’s Empowered to Connect website contains much of her material.



Dave Gibbons -Topic: “The Church as the Answer to the Foster Care Challenge.”

Dave is the founding pastor of Newsong, a multi-site international third-culture church. He is an in-demand speaker, innovative strategist, and cultural specialist with global experience in the arts, business, church and community development. Dave is on the board of World Vision US. He’s also founder and chief visionary officer of Xealot, a strategic innovations groups, creatively connecting resources to leaders around the world. Dave is also Creative Catalyst and Founding Partner of The Awaken Group, a global leadership development consulting firm. Dave is the author of a new book called The Monkey and the Fish: Liquid Leadership for Third Culture Leaders. He’s also contributed to such books as Unchristian.

Go to the following link and register today.  I'll see you there!

http://www.togetherforadoption.org

Monday, July 12, 2010

Dinner and Wine

We visited with some friends recently, who had been asking for some time to hear about our experiences in Ethiopia and tell how and where we saw God at work.  They didn't have to twist our arms too hard to get us to concede.  After all a great dinner and a vintage bottle of wine seem to be the best place to unwrap the complexity of poverty and its effects on all who encounter it, dirty water, starvation, the presence of the Muslim faith and its impact, the western church's lack of visibility in the 3rd world, the American dream, orphans, invalids in Ethiopia, the beauty which co-exists in the midst of the above, and the giftedness of the locals.  I was caught off guard by the pain I experienced reliving the assessment of the surplus and luxuries of my life in comparison to the lives of those languishing.  And then those dreaded words that always get me in trouble:  "I am crushed by the weight of knowing my living at 8515 Carli Cr., surrounded by the wanton pleasures of life, continuing to consume comes at a price to so many.  My lifestyle, our lifestyles, mean many more starve, die of thirst and preventable diseases, millions of children go to sleep without knowing the love of a parent."  Our host was gracious.  She tried to console me.  With a genuinely grieved heart over my pain, our host reminded us we couldn't live with joy (happiness) if our hearts were taken with guilt and constant thought of what we might sacrifice next and God just couldn't want this...   Really? I think it's just where He wants me.  Hurting.  Grieving.  Praying.  Submitting.  Broken but rejoicing all the same, begging Him to keep me devastated for those He loves who are wasting away, living a life that more closely matches His gospel.  The conversation died off.  I wasn't surprised.  It was uncomfortable, not wasted.

Alas, our friend has a child who suffers from a terminal disease.  When we were in the car riding home, the thought struck me how hard it would be for her to see people surrounding her who hold the key to healing her son, to remedying his disease; but as she encountered these people each one assessed the sacrifice involved in giving over the entity of healing.  They look at what it would mean to choose to offer life to this child or continue on in the same place and choose death for her son.  They look.  They appraise.  Ultimately they refuse.  They "pocket" the remedy and carry on.  After all, this belongs to them.  They are not to feel guilty for enjoying what was theirs to begin with, right?  They continue on with out thought.  They world turns while he dies.  But this IS what poverty looks like.  I am not implying it can be remedied easily if at all...but that is no excuse not to intercede for many.  How desperate I am to live what He desires. It's hard to live not belonging, not fitting, not relating. Ahhh, but I wouldn't trade it to return to the comfort of convenience and contentment in conformity.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

We have a Surprise...

Turn off the flashplayer at the bottom and enjoy the surprise!
video

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Radical

A few months ago, I read the book Radical by David Platt.  God gave him a great view of the true gospel.  Pick it up and read it.  Allow God to use.  Partner it with the Word.  It may radically change your view of gospel style living.   For those of you non-readers, I'm linking you to his podcast series.  Take my radical dare to read or listen and remain the same:


If you're looking for a way to radically impact the world, consider partnering with great organizations like Hopechest.  Check them out!  Consider a way to radically live out the real gospel of Christ.


Do Something Now from Children's HopeChest on Vimeo.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

TB doesn't stand for Too Boring (but with this post it should)

Before we left Ethiopia, Belay asked us to remind our pediatrician that Mezekir received a BCG vaccine for TB.  The significance of this vaccine is that a child will usually show a false positive on the TB skin test.  Mez did have his skin test administered, and the results read at 12+.  Because this was above the "norm" and indicates the presence of the TB virus, exposure to TB at some point, or was indicative of the BCG, the office suggested a T-Spot.T test to be preformed and a chest Xray.  We are appreciative they advocate this as opposed to an immediate dosing of INH.  Too many clinics suggest a child do a 6 month to 9 month regimen of meds to combat the "TB" that may or may not exist.  Mez's chest Xray did not show any signs of active TB (we were not surprised).  The T-spot test results will be out for 5-7 days.  This process was not so dramatic until you factor in the 7 (yes 7) viles of blood to administer all of the other tests which our ped requested.  This allows titering for immunizations (because this momma refuses to re-immunize if not necessary; yes, our ped called me Jenny McCarthy...please), STD panels (which I was assured were routine when living in an orphanage in a foreign country), and the TB test due to our BCG vaccine.  Poor fella screamed like never before.  Since we had already attempted a blood draw last Wednesday, I brought along Daddy for backup.  I am glad!  The nurses were, too.  All that to say, today was not Mezekir's favorite day.  We will be glad when this is over.  After 93 days of working to attach and bond, we hope Mez is quick to forget today and remember the 92 prior.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Debunking Myths #2

I find it interesting how many people ask about our story now that our son is in our arms.  I usually accept this as an opportunity to share how the Lord worked mightily in our lives to bring us to where we are.  Most often, this means I confuse the question as authentic interest as opposed to what it is:  the ever pressing question, "How do you have a black son?  Did you adopt?  Where is he from?".  And for the record, I don't mind those questions being simply stated.  I would be curious, too.  But what I find, when I answer the question they actually asked (what is your story), is a person who feels the need to defend why they have not adopted.  It never fails to follow, "It's good God called you to that.  We are called to care for the orphans and widows in a different way."  I agree. 

When I look at the Old Testament, I see a few directives surrounding orphans, widows, foreigners...who we refer to as "the least of these".  Exodus 22:21-24 Tells us not to exploit or oppress the least of these.  Deuteronomy gives much directive as to the care of the least of these.  Interestingly enough, Deuteronomy 27:19 states, "Cursed is the man who withholds justice from the alien, the fatherless, or the widow."  This leads me back to the above conversations. 

What are you doing to care for the least of these.  I will speak directly for myself prior to our pursuit of adoption:  We sponsored a few orphans.  We gave to CASA.  We helped with ministries that host foreign students.  Hey, don't forget IJM and the periodic, small donation to people traveling on mission trips to care for the least of these. But we did withhold justice.  Justice is the concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, religion, fairness, or equity, along with the punishment of the breach of said ethics.  There is nothing "just" about the token, compulsory, unsacrificial contributions made by most Americans.  When faced with this comment, I struggle not to question how exactly God has them caring for the least of these.  I long to point out how many of us continue to drive around in our luxury SUVs, drink $3 lattes, go for ice cream at the local shoppe that costs more than a month of food in a languishing country, carry swimming, golfing, and tennis memberships, have boats or other recreational vehicles and closets full of shoes and clothing, attend private schools and yet refuse to live a life of sacrifice for the least of these.  It seems to me, whether we are or are not called to adopt, we are all called to live in a "just" way that communicates the heart of the gospel...sacrifice.

Money is not the only justice we can offer.  I have a friend, who cares for the least of these in a very unglorified and unnoticed manner.  She doesn't have a cute baby on her hip.  She didn't travel to a foreign land. Without proclamation, she gives up days of her week to go to the lonely, the abandoned, and the discarded.  When praying how the Lord would use her, she was compelled to go to the nursing homes and love those who our society has forsaken.  Nothing fancy...but sacrifice.

My heart desires to be bold when next faced with this statement (or tempted to make it) and  lovingly ask, "Tell me your story.  I want to know how God is using you to provide justice to the least of these?"  After all, for the darling set of brown eyes below, there are 147 million others begging to feel the justice of the gospel walked out.