Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I have been following this blog since before we made the final decision to adopt. In fact the link on the right side of my blog to the Lucy Lane gotcha video is from Kristi. She recently, like last week, had an opportunity to go back to Ethiopia to meet Lucy's birth mom because she didn't get to when she picked Lucy up. So she and her sister, who runs Ordinary Hero (www.ordinaryheroblog.blogspot.com) which does a ton of work for the "least of these" went back and while they were there visited lots of orphanages and are on a mission to help find forever families for these kids. Please take the time to read the post she just made. I look forward to the rest of the details of her trip but just this post alone left me in tears. Please spread the word if you feel led.

Thanks for your support in this journey.



Friday, December 17, 2010

Home Study complete!

There has been quiet a lapse since the last post. We have made major strides in the adoption process. We completed our home study last weekend. It was quiet an ordeal - at least in my head. We had to child proof everything! It probably needed to be done with Cole anyway but it made me so nervous if I has missed anything. We practiced fire drills, and many many more things that we don't ordinarily do and she didn't even look in the closets. Fortunately we had a very sweet social worker. She was at my house for 4 hours last Friday and almost 3 hours last Saturday. Bryan and I did do a little celebration dance as she drove out of our driveway!! She knows more about us than we know about ourselves!! I received the home study last night and made a few changes. As I am typing this, the official lady that looks everything over should be looking it over and hopefully will have it to Holt on Tuesday or Wednesday. Once Holt approves it they will send me a letter and copy of my home study to send off to immigration.. Since it is quickly approaching the holidays I am hoping that this process is not slowed down too much.

My heart and mind are all over the place right now - well have actually been since this started and that probably isn't going to change anytime soon. The truth is that our baby is probably being born around now or is about to be. This brings such crazy unexpected sadness to me.
I know you didn't expect me to say sad but you see I am not Plan A in this childs life. With their birth comes great emotion towards the birth mom, who is the only other person on Earth who loves this baby as much as I do. But she or the dad is about to make the hardest decision ever and one that no parent should EVER have to make. A decision for LIFE. See in Ethiopia - giving your child up for adoption means you want them to live, live better than ever possible there. Without a belly full of parasites, and truly clean water to drink and something to eat and to be able to see a doctor when needed. Those are the things on the birth familys mind as they are about to make a very difficult decision.

About the birth, I just wonder will I really know how it went, was it day, were there family there to hug and love the baby or was she alone to give birth. I am most confident that people didn't / aren't sleeping in waiting rooms for hours so excited for this to happen like there were when both of my kids were born or like I did when my sweet niece Sadie was born - even for 24 hours. We went this last Sunday night to the Christmas musical at church. In front of me sat one of my brother, Adam's friends from high school with his little 3 week old son. He was loving all over that sweet baby and it was wonderful to most people sitting near me but for some strange reason it was heartbreaking for me. Not because of them they are awesome. But MY baby possibly the same age will most likely not be held and loved and kissed and cuddled and feel that same feeling that baby received that night or that both of my kids did - until I can get my hands on them but they may be 1 by then!! I just prayed for God to comfort our child in a way I have done my own kids. To prepare its heart to know that WE are coming SOON. Please take a minute and say a prayer for this birth mom who is designed to be Plan A but by circumstances out of her control is counting on a good Plan B and for the child that she is to have but we are too raise. We could not be happier to be Plan B.


Friday, December 3, 2010



Please continue to break our hearts for what breaks YOURS!!


This has been on several of the blogs I follow this week. I have never heard the story told so clear!


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Averie and Thanksgiving

We have been a very busy family lately. My baby girl turned 8 on November 20! Where do the years go? We had 2 parties this year, a friend party and a family party! I am thankful for this little girl. She has always been amazing and I could not be more proud of her. Bryan and I are so very lucky to have her and Cole has definately won the big sister lottery. We can't wait to watch her with our baby from Ethiopia. Her heart is growing more each and every day for that baby and just orphans in general. God has big plans for Averie Grace!! She really is the heartbeat of our family.

We had a great Thanksgiving. Different than any other Thanksgiving but better. Different is hard to explain. Between Thanksgiving with my family and Bryan's - we ate well. As I was so full my stomach hurt, the children that haven't ever been full in their lives were on my heart. Our stomachs protruded from turkey, dressing, macaroni and cheese, broccoli and rice, sweet potatoe casserole, and all kinds of desserts - there are children in Afica with protruding stomachs because they are starving to death. As I got to enjoy ALL of our family and spend lots of time with my kids, I was acutely aware that there are children who don't know the love of a mother and father much less can fathom who their aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents even are because they have all died from a preventable disease very young.

As I sit and pondered on all of my blessings this year it was different as well. I never even considered the new home we have built, or the vacation we took a month ago. I was so very thankful for this change. The change in my heart that causes me to be thankful and prayerful so much that I want to make a difference. A difference to people like me who just didn't know. So thankful that God layed a sweet innocent and helpless child on the heart of my family to adopt but MORE THANKFUL than anything that we were and are obediant. We ALL have so much to be thankful for.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010


We are getting this question a lot. I am including some facts that just blew me away and I can't get out of my head. Please be warned they are not pretty......

33% of Ethiopians are considered severly underweight when the food surplus in the United States could feed all of Africa.

24% have access to clean water and some of those have to walk a long way to get it.

1 in 7 women die during childbirth

6 the average number of children an Ethiopian woman has.

Women who are raped or unmarried and become pregnant are shunned by all, sometimes causing them and their child to be killed or kicked out of the village.

There are 5 million orphans in Ethiopia!!

1 in 7 children die before the age of ONE!!

1 in 6 children die before the age of FIVE!! (half of them from diarrhea!!)

265,000 children die a year from a preventable disease.

4 out of 5 people live on less than $2 a day.

There is 1 doctor for every 100,000 people.

For the price of 1 latte from Starbucks, some aid organizations can feed a child or mother for a month.

The average life expectancy is around 45.

How could we not make it "one less"?


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Catching up

It has been a couple of weeks since my first post. From this point on, the posts will be more frequent but I have been wanting as many people as possible to read the first post. I have since decided to put a link to the first post on the side so everyone can read how this all began. (Help Traci!!)

Well, we have both written our autobiographys, filled out 4 papers about our marriage (everyone should dothat!!), filled out our parenting surveys, and gathered every piece of paper that exists in any federal government database about us. We have also had ALL of our medical testing and had our doctor review and fill out his paper work! I am really okay will all of this because I can control it. I can control the speed and timing of all of this. I just have a hunch that me learning to be patient is a HUGE part of this process that God wants me to learn. I have to learn and believe me I am trying to understand that God already knows the child that is to be ours and if I speed this up or slow it down unneccesarily that it might affect that because we want the right child at the right time and nothing else.

So right now I am waiting on the lady to call and set up our homestudy - she was on vacation last week (sigh). Once that is comleted and sent to Holt, I mail off our I600 A to get us approved for immigration. Once we get that approved we send in another huge stack of papers ( that I already have ready) called the dossier. At that time we will be placed on the waitlist!! At this point we will have a little party and get ready to wait some more! I will keep you all up on all of this as it happens.

God continues to "show up" in all of the little details of this adoption. I will give you a few scenerios. I decided that in order to save some money on our medical testing that instead of going thru our doctor that I would order it all thru an online place that orders at the local LabCorp and then take the results to our doctor to sign off on. So I google what I am looking for and call the 1800 number. A lady anwered and I began to tell her I needed testing for me and my husband for HIV, Heb B, and a drug urine. That I didnt' need a specific test for each just the cheapest because it was for adoption paperwork and that we were adopting from Ethiopia. She let out a weird sigh and a weird laugh. I thought she was laughing at me for wanting a "cheap" HIV test. When I finally finished talking, she proceeded to tell me that she was from Ethiopia!!! I started crying. We talked and talked about Ethiopia, the customs, the people, the hair, the area the the orphanages are located that Holt uses, and many many more things. She told me her story and told me that her sister still lives in Addis Ababa, which is where we are going on the first trip. Her sister has a boutique there that caters a lot to adoptive families. She sent me the sisters phone number and address in case we need anything while we are there and asked me to email both her and her sister before we go so she will know we will be coming!! I am choking back tears like crazy knowing that I have to hold it together because I might not have an opportunity to speak with someone from Ethiopia again for a while. We both finally remembered the reason for my call and moved on to that. She then gave me a $300 discount on my tests. There is no explanation for this but ... GOD.

I have several Africa and adoption shirts that I have been wearing for 2 reasons. 1 To bring awareness of the orphan crises and adoption, and 2. I feel closer to my baby with a pic of his/her birth country on my body. (weird - I know) I bought them from other adopting families who were selling them as fundraisers for their adoption, which by the way I am designing shirts for us to sell for fundraising as well. Anyway I had to go to Dallas this last week and ran into 3 people who I had great conversations with. One lady's husband is in Ethiopia every other month working with missionaries there, teaching them how to share Jesus and the stories of the Bible with the people in the remote villages in stories because they don't read or write. Her eyes immediately filled with tears as I told her my story. Another man asked me about it and hugged me and told me thank you. I was then checked out at Whole Foods by a lady from Kenya. These may seem insignificant but to me and my family they are "smiles" from the Father who led us down this journey to begin with.

Emotions in this adoption journey are a roller coaster. Words cannot describe these things and they even catch me off guard.... A LOT. I balled like a baby when I was hanging our Christmas stockings the other day. I almost couldn't do it. I feel like part of us is missing already. I WILL be buying Baby E a stocking of their own this year. This caught me totally off guard. I can assure you that by this point in the process this child is VERY REAL to Bryan, Averie, Cole and I. After all it is our baby that God layed on our hearts ...

I am sorry that this post is so long. I had waited and didn't feel like I had much to say! Imagine that - I will be posting more often so you don't have to read such a long post.


Saturday, October 30, 2010

In the beginning......

In the beginning.... I am at a total loss for how to put all of my thoughts and feelings down on this introduction post of our blog. I don't even know how to blog and am not a great speller. From here on it will be about happenings, thought, feelings and the actual goings ons of our adventure to our Baby E from Ethiopia Africa. I wish I could tell you that I have always wanted to adopt, or we have always had a heart for orphans or that we were even aware of the statistics of orphans or we always knew this would happen we just didn't know when. But I CAN'T, we CAN'T. I have never even considered adoption even in the 5 years it took me to have Cole. Bryan has never even considered it either. What I can tell you is that God softened our hearts towards Africa about 7 or so years ago. We sponsored 2 children, who I now know were a part of God's plan to land us here, more on that later. We have exchanged pictures and letters from these 2 precious girls for the past how ever many years. About 3 years ago, Bryan had an opportunity to go on a mission trip to Uganda, Africa with our church, Lakeside Baptist Church. It was a wonderful experience for him to see that land and to share our Jesus with them. Our hearts were so very grateful that we had won the "birth lottery" and were born here in the great United States of America. ( As bad as it seems sometimes, we live in the best country ever) Still no adoption thoughts - I mean NONE. Fast forward to about February or March of this year. I was reading a friends blog and she had a a link to a post called "I don't want my kids to be happy" (see the exact link at the bottom right on my blog) As a mom who spends a great portion of my life doing flips to make my kids happy, I just had to see what this lady was saying. Well here is where is begins. I read the post and I want you to read it too, but I read it outloud to Bryan. The lady is adopting a baby from Ethiopia. Bryan asked me if I thought we could ever do that. I said, "NO!" he said, "Me either!" and we moved on. We both could not get "over it". We agreed to continue to pray about it because we were in the middle of building our own home and couldn't make any decisions. We both tried to just tell God that we would sponsor more kids. (It is easier to just send money afterall.) Months past and I kept being led to additional posts and videos of people just like us, who thought we had our family complete and were not expecting God to call them to adoption. I watched a video, also linked to the bottom of my blog. I balled my eyes out. I cried in the shower almost everyday, I was overwhemed with emotion anytime I had time to think about it. I later found out that Bryan was also overwhelmed with emotion especially in the shower. Weird - I know. We prayed for signs, even though we aren't suppose to and WE GOT THEM --EVERYTIME. I even got letters from the 2 different organizations that we sponsored through both telling us that "this child is no longer available/elgible to be in this program!!" Those children fulfilled their purpose in our lives and we in theirs. We finally agreed we would follow God's very clear leading in our lives, but when? We couldn't resist much longer- we had thought of every possible scenerio, the good, the bad and the worst but the only reasons we could come up with not to adopt were selfish! And looked a lot like this - TIME, MONEY, TIME, MONEY, the UNEXPECTED, TIME, MONEY, OUR KIDS, TIME, MONEY. We want our hearts to be broken by what breaks Jesus' heart and it is very clear in scripture that the fatherless/orphans, and widows are IT. We spent weeks praying over different agencies, talking to agencies, and talking to people who are using those agencies and already have there children home. We are into full blown paperwork at this time. We have absolutely no idea what the next 12-15 months look like but we are hoping that you will follow us on this journey. A journey that I am most positive that we , Bryan, Averie, Cole and I, will be the ones being blessed by this precious little one God picked for us to raise, probably more than the child will be blessed by us. Right now as I am writing this, I believe there is a woman/family praying that just found out they are pregnant -that someones heart will be softened to the point of bringing their child, who would have no chance at life, home and loving it like our own and raising them to love Jesus so that one day WE will ALL have a glorious reunion in Heaven. Because you see in Ethiopia these families give up their kids so that they can "live" - because the odds of the child living to be even 5 are not so hot. I am just overwhelmed with emotion (even as I write this) that God has chosen us, the Cantrell family, to be that family. My prayer is that God would use us and the real life feelings we have and would use our journey to soften hearts towards the orphan crisis. Please join us on this awesome/scary/excited/blessed/overwhelming/uncertain/God ordained/God inspired journey and please share our story and blog with everyone you know. Because someone shared a blog with me there will be ONE LESS!! One less orphan and we will become a family of 5.