Thursday, October 27, 2011

What has REALLY been going on.....

I could give you a million reasons for the EXTREME lack of updates since our trip to Africa and they could all be very valid but I haven't shared much because I wasn't ready and wasn't sure how much to share and frankly the situation changed by the day. I am over all of that now and want to fill you in the best I can so I can then do more posts about the time we spent there.

On the first day we were in Africa we felt like we had found our child. I can't really explain it but we both felt like that. We were taken hours out of the city with reps from our attorneys office and met a probation officer ( like a social worker or CPS in the US) because she had 1 orphanage and 2 children in foster care for us to visit. I wont go into all of the details but we first went to the orphanage and left with very heavy hearts, it was the first orphanage I had ever been in. We then went to the foster homes. The little girl we immediately connected with was at the first one. We were assured all of these children were ready to be adopted. We walked almost a half mile off a dirt road thru corn, goats,and cows just to get to her. We spent time with her, took pictures with her, and then conveyed our feelings to the PO, attorney, and attorney assistant that was with us. Things seemed to be progressing for us to spend more time with her.
then. everything. changed.
Weird emotions started flying ( not by us) , we had to hand her back and leave. We were originally told we would know something in 2 weeks, a couple of days later everything seemed fine. We visited the other orphanages and then had to come home. VERY heavy hearted. Once again things seemed to turn our way. At one point it was a very real expectation to have her home by Thanksgiving or Christmas Then (yep you guessed it) they turned the other way. We were then told to wait 3 months. This. is . not. making. sense. We continued to fight and prayed hard. We then decided to take advantage of some help that had been offered to us as this was beginning to become more and more yucky feeling. We did and sure enough the situation is just not going to be. To say we are/were heartbroken is an understatement BUT we have a peace. We DO NOT under any circumstance want to be a part of anything that is not kosher.

So we have turned the little girl over to the Lord and are waiting on an email or call for the child God has in store for our family. Are we disappointed? Yes. Are we frustrated? Yes. Do we KNOW we are doing the right thing? Yes.

And so we wait and wait some more. We should be getting good at this by now. We are ok. We know that there is a reason and we fully trust the Lord. When we can't see His plan we are trusting in His hand.

Thanks for all of your support. More updates soon. Cant wait for the one about the day we spent in a village with some Uganda friends.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where do I start?

Thank you! Thank You! Overwhelmed would be a good start! Here is what we had the privilege of carrying with us to addition to our personal luggage which couldn't be much. :) Oh my goodness there were and are going to be SO many children blessed because of you. 2 and 1/2 of these were filled by our friends and family and the other 1 and 1/2 were filled for /by George and Christie Magera of Ekubo Ministries.

We were also given money and we bought formula but when it became obvious that we couldn't take anymore formula we took the money and converted it to Uganda shillings and bought rice, beans and sugar and took them to 4 different orphanages. Food is very expensive there and it is extra hard for them to be able to buy enough food to feed the children. They all were VERY thankful. We carried formula with us but we tried to be way more invisible delivering the food.

In this first picture below, Bryan is watching them weigh the food at the store. In the last one, Bryan and Steven (our driver and friend) are trying to make a fast drop off.

Our trip was simply amazing and I have so many things to tell you and it won't all be in this post! I will tell you that I loved Uganda. From the minute we got there it just felt right. I can't wait to go back and take the kids AND we are hoping it will be soon. We only had electricity 1 day at our guesthouse and had to take cold showers but it was really fine except that by Thursday my computer wasn't charged and our phones were about out of battery too. We left most mornings before 8 and didn't get back to the room for the night until about 10:30 so we even missed the couple of hours in the evening that the generator was running. I think I am going to have to give a day by day run down .... maybe this week.

I don't have any "real" adoption news to share on my blog yet but I am asking that you please pray for our family and for our Ugandan child as we believe God is orchestrating a beautiful story.

Thank you for following our journey and for praying for us. We are truly blessed by you.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Headed to Africa ---- Need Formula

So I need to update my background to my blog from Ethiopia to Uganda. I never think about this until I log on here myself. I will add that to my list of things to do. Speaking of a list has been pretty long lately. Bryan and I are headed to Uganda in less than 2 weeks! Yes it is rather soon, and since I have nothing that is needed for that trip I have been a busy bee preparing for it. Lots of shopping and document preparation.

Why? you ask. Well we are going to meet with our attorney. We really feel like we are suppose to sit across the desk from him and look him in the eye and talk to him about our documents and what is important to us. Also since we are going independent we have to do all of the research and learning for ourselves. I have had great correspondence from our attorney but the language translation has me scratching my head and pulling out a dictionary from time to time. I am sure his English is right it just doesn't translate to Texan very well sometimes. ;) I am looking very forward to being in Uganda and Bryan can't wait to go back. We do not have to make this trip it is not a requirement in this process. We do feel very confident that need to GO. We will also be visiting some babies homes and orphanages as well as a couple of ministries. We will basically be rocking babies, playing with kiddos and just serving where we are needed We will meet with directors in those places to try to share our heart with them and what God has placed on our hearts. There is a possibility that we might as a result get to meet our child(ren) while we are there. We DO NOT get to "pick" a child while we are there. That would be illegal or at least unethical and besides that we don't want to do any "picking"! We are totally wanting God to do that for us. Bryan and I are praying that we leave "our" plans here and that we are totally open and receptive to God's plan for us and that He gives us discernment for each part of the trip. I am not looking forward to leaving Cole and Averie. We NEVER leave our kids. Cole is 3 and he has only spent 2-3 nights away from us and that was with my parents! They will be with all 3 sets of our parents and some of that time will be here at our house. I am positive that it will be much harder on me than them. I am working out ways to stay in touch with them. I can tell you with ALL of my heart that there is nothing short of a direct call from my Father that would cause me to leave them to go that far.

Here is what we need from you:

1. Prayers - for safe travel, for discernment, for us to KNOW what we are suppose to do, for us to leave our agendas here and get on that airplane totally open to what God has for us!, for our children to have peace, to be safe , for our families who will be taking care of the kids, and for our health as well as the kids, and for our hearts to continue to be broken for what breaks HIS!

2. FORMULA: We have been told by numerous sources that there is such a need for formula in the orphanages and villages. It is so hard for me to understand but there are a lot of babies/toddlers that do not have any source of nutrition. It has been brought to my attention also by Christie Magera of Ekubo Ministries that works in Bugabo village that there is a HUGE need in the villages as well. If a woman who is HIV + gives birth and doesn't have formula and hasn't been on meds then she has no choice but to breastfeed, thus putting her child in danger of HIV. SOOOO we plan to take a TON for formula with us to these places. We are each allowed 100 pounds before we have to pay so we would like to give up 100 pounds for formula and would LOVE to have so much formula come in that we have to arrange to pay for another bag. So if you live local you can call or email me and I will meet you to pick up formula, if you live away and would like to ship it let me know and I will send you my address or if you would rather give money and I will do the shopping ....... ALL of this would be such a blessing. AND I know some of you might have contacts like doctors with lots of samples or you might have lots of coupons, etc that would be awesome. Just know you would be a huge blessing. We are so honored to be able to be the haulers of the formula. BUT we need to act QUICK! We don't have much time...

Matthew 25: 35-40

'For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go visit you?'

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

We are so honored to have your support and prayers during this time!


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Help my friend Lara..... and possibly win an awesome camera

Hi Friends,
I wanted to share with you a special adoption shower for my friend Lara and her family. Some of her friends have put this together to help her raise the last funds needed to bring her son home. Lara is the main person, besides God of course and he used her, that my family can blame for our latest changes in direction ( I jokingly say blame..... I am forever grateful!). She has blogged about some tough stuff that has really opened my eyes. She and her husband have also been on a waitlist in Ethiopia before they started the Uganda process. AND that is not all... since we have officially moved over to Uganda she has been a HUGE support. She has helped me with almost everything....just ask her how many of my questions she has answered. LOL. Maybe soon we can carry on a 2 way conversation..... instead of a question and answer session. :)

God doesn't call everyone to adopt but He does call everyone to orphan care and here is an opportunity to help get one more child into their forever family. PLUS there is a smoking awesome camera being raffled off and you get 1 ticket for every $15 donation. Don't underestimate the power of $15, please if you feel so led go support this awesome family.

Click the link below. (In case it doesnt work, I am still learning...go to

The Farmer's Wife Tells All: We Now Interrupt This Regularly Scheduled Blog... ...: "If you came here today looking for a funny and inspirational post from Lara, you are out of luck...because we regret to inform you that this..."


Friday, July 29, 2011

HUGE CHANGES -----Following Him to UGANDA!!

It has been a really long time since I have posted, huh? (not that you are all sitting there waiting to know what is going on in our world) There have been 2 reasons for that. The first is a WHOLE blog post besides this one. It is called living.... 2 weeks at the lake so our floor could get fixed from the water damage, softball tournaments, Averie breaking her arm, another softball tournament (not near as fun coaching when your child is injured but we had a GREAT group of girls), and just regular life. The second reason is the main point in this post....and it has actually taken up a TON of time as well. Now that I have delayed this post until we were confident in God's leading and had the perfect words to share with you the words are still not coming out. I know, I know it is the first time I have been found to be speechless.

We have officially withdrawn from the Ethiopia adoption process, we are adopting from Uganda independantly and are open to a child older than a baby!! You see, we were suppose to be adopting from Uganda all along. That is the country that first stole our hearts. Bryan has been there on a mission trip and we have sponsored children there for almost 8 years. The truth is that we already felt terrified in following God's plan for our family to adopt period much less from Africa. Remember that I am the one who never expected to consider adoption, not the one who "always knew at some point it would happen". No I am/was the type A with a plan and comfortable with our control!! Well I (Bryan included) are here to tell you that THE ONLY plan is GOD's plan and He is in charge of everything. Uganda adoption seemed a bit scarier to us at first so we really feel like God had to take us down the road we have been on to be able to follow Him down this one. None the less we feel confident that we are where He wants us. There are huge differences and you will learn about them as we go along. I will tell you that we (as a family) have experienced the most spiritual adversity we have ever faced. I will not post the details but just know that the devil has been working overtime to keep us from hearing God speak to us about this. As we have prayed God has shown us many things including the age factor. We originally said we would only except a child 0-12 months at time of referral. We were really convicted that God did not just accept or adopt us in our purest most innocent form. AND our physical adoption really follows our spiritual adoption so we are open to a child up to Cole's age . (actually approved for 2 kids up to 6 yrs old just to leave God room to work) We truly want to see God in this. God has already put some amazing women in my path just as I have prayed and I am forever grateful to them for helping me on this journey.

So I am sure that you might have questions spinning in your head and I am going to attempt to answer them in a question and answer format. (told you about the type A personality)

Question 1 Does this mean that you have to start all the way over?

Yes we do have to prepare a different dossier, however a TON of the same stuff is needed so a lot of it can be reused. Also our home study just had to be amended (already done) and sent back to immigration for that to be changes. (mailed this week) I thought I would never have to do a dossier again, especially so soon ;) but it just doesn't seem like a big deal this time....maybe because we are doing what we are suppose to be doing.

Question 2 Are you going to lose money?

Yes the money that we already paid to Holt is lost. However we consider that a small price to pay in order to truly follow God. Also we think this adoption will not cost as much so it should kind of make up the difference. God always funds what He favors and He does favor adoption.

Question 3 Does this have anything to do with the slow downs in Ethiopia or Holt?

Absolutly not. I would tell you if it did but we had been feeling uneasy about where we were before all of the latest news. The uneasy like we are not following him and we have our own agenda uneasy. Not the this is taking too long, I can't believe all of this is happening, what are we gonna do now uneasy. Holt is a very good agency and if I ever felt called to adopt from country that you had to use an agency and Holt was there then I would use them. I feel like they do their best. Holt does have a Uganda program but they wouldn't let me open our age up like we know we are suppose to do. AND we won't let anyone or any agency dictate God's plan for us. Our money also wouldn't transfer from Ethiopia to Uganda with Holt. We are totally open to the plans God has for us in this adoption. We have set our own parameters long enough.

Question 4 What is your timeline now?

The real answer is that we really don't know. It is a very different process so we will know more in a month or so but I am hoping to have another sweet child in my house in under a year.

Question 5 Will you have to go twice?

We do not have to go twice like we did in Ethiopia. However there will still be a court appointment and then an US embassy approval process for a visa. We ( ALL 4 OF US) plan to be in country for this entire process. The Cantrell Family will be spending between 4-8 weeks in Uganda and that is assuming that everything goes well....which we of course are praying for. This question brings me to the next one.

Question 6 Is is safe for your family? (Which really means is it safe for my kids?)

Now this is Africa, it is not Canton TX or anywhere in the US. It is a 3rd world country. There are many dangers, however we obviously are doing everything we can to ensure a safe trip. BUT....the bottom line is that when GOD calls you to something it doesn't really matter if it is safe if you are committed to following Him and raising your children to follow Him. It will be an experience that they will never forget.

Question 7 How will adopting a child that is possibly older going to affect your kids? Won't they have so much more baggage than a baby?

All of this IS going to affect my kids!! However I believe that it is going to affect them in the most positive ways. They are going to get to experience the healing power of Jesus and the difference the love of a family makes. Averie and Cole are going to possibly see a child in the deepest depths of despair turning into a child that is a part of our family in every sense of the word. They are going to get to be a part of that. This is really a whole blog post in itself. They will more than likely even get to teach their sibling English!! And like I mentioned earlier WE are adopted into the family of God sometimes at our who are we to say that we will only take an orphan at his or her best. It is all in God's hands. Oh yeah, and yes they are going to have to give up more time with us but I have so many friends with 3-5 kids and no one would even consider this an issue if I were to announce that I was pregnant again.

We are so grateful for your support and prayers on this crazy journey we are on.


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!! Thoughts........

We have had a busy week around the Cantrell House. Last weekend, Bryan and I went to our required training for our adoption. Our parents tag teamed the kids so we actually got to stay in Dallas Saturday night. It was a good thing because we were so incredibly brain-fried that we might not have been able to do much. We were in training aprox 10-12 hours. It felt like 27. I had done so much research about this process as well as bonding and attachment and health possiblilites, most of the info wasn't new but we did get some ideas. We also got to connect with 6 other couples that are in this crazy scary God ordained adoption journey with us. We hope to to keep in touch with some of them!

Happy Mother's Day!! I am so blessed to be the mom to my wonderful children. I can't think of one single thing I would rather do than pour myself (sometimes all of myself) into my children. I take this responsibility to disciple them very serious. I love them so much and have been truly blessed. Bryan and the kids made me feel so special. We spent the afternoon Saturday in Dallas, they took me shopping for a purse and then out to eat. In true mom fashion I ended the night in the Pedi urgent care with Averie. We coach her softball team and we are at the coach pitch level which means Bryan is our pitcher. Well as she went up to bat Friday night, he hit her thumb!! She is so tough and I have to totally rely on mothers instincts with her because she had tears in her eyes but before I could get to her she had her bat back up in position ready to go. She admitted that is hurt "kind of" . I noticed Friday night and Saturday that she was dropping her fork, pencil and she couldn't zip her pants. Since we were in Dallas anyway, and this momma just knew we took her on for X Rays. Fracture. There isn't much you can do and the Dr. just said let her do what she can and sent her with a splint. Our next game is Tuesday and she had made it extremely clear that she intends to play. I will keep you posted. I love that kid!!

I can't wait to have all 3 of my kiddos with me on Mother's Day. Praying it is next year.

We met my brother and his family in Athens to take our mom out for a nice lunch. Here she is in the pic above with all of her grandkids, my 2 and then my niece Sadie.

I have to be honest, I have been an emotional wreck today and it caught me totally off guard. I have thought continually about a very special mother on the other side of the world that is about to do something that I think is the epitomy of a mothers love. I have prayed for her and prayed for her. Well I always do but this weekend more so. I will never have another Mother's Day that she won't be on my mind and in my heart. She will always be a part of our family. Bryan and I pray that we will be able to always honor her in our home with our children so that "Baby E" will always remember her and her sacrifice as well. This is just another aspect to what God has clearly called us to. Since we do not have our referral yet we do not know of our childs circumstances but are so hopeful to be able to meet this lady that I will share part of my heart with forever.

I love this poem below.

Once there were two women who never knew each other.
One you do not remember, the other you call mother.
Two different lives, shaped to make your one...
One became your guiding star, the other became your sun.
The first gave you life and the second taught you to live it.
The first gave you a need for love, and the second was there to give it.
One gave you a nationality, the other gave you a name.
One gave you a seed of talent, the other gave you an aim.
One gave you emotions, the other calmed your fears.
One saw your first sweet smile, the other dried your tears.
One gave you up ... that's all she could do.
The other prayed for a child and God led her straight to you.
And now you ask me, through your fears,
the age old question unanswered throughout the years...
Heredity or environment, which are you the product of?
Neither, my darling … neither.
Just two different kinds of love.
~ Author Unknown ~


Monday, April 25, 2011

Melkam Fasika (a day late)

Melkam Fasika!! or for those of you who don't know any Amharic Happy Easter! I feel like there should be a real monumental post regarding Easter because after all that IS what it is all about. However I am a little speechless! I know it isn't a condition that I ususally experience. I have been reflecting so much on the Ultimate Sacrafice and what that really means for us as Christians. Not about our sins forgiven, that is obvious but about how I have gotten what being a Christian is almost wrong for almost my whole life and I have even been in church. It isn't about lots of Bible studies even though we are suppose to be in the Word but it is really about Bible doings. So many times we stop short of action. We want to be involved as long as we can be comfortable too. I am soooo tired of being comfortable and am ready to "get dirty" so to speak. There are so many people hurting and dying because of lack of food, water, and proper protection from the elements all over the world. My family is ready to be the hands and feet of Jesus at any cost. Averie even mentioned moving to Africa last week to take care of lots of hungry children. NO, we do not have any plans of the like at this time. But we are open to whatever we are called to. I am just so thankful that our eyes have truly been opened and we have been obedient (over time) to see more than what is comfortable. I have no idea what this means for the future but Bryan and I both KNOW that there is more in Africa than just the child he has for us. At the very least we want to be a voice for the voiceless. So stay tuned..... This will be an adventure and we are so blessed that you are following along.

We had a great Easter weekend with lots of family. The little angel with my 2 littles is my niece Sadie.

We have just been having as much fun as possible while we are waiting on the call for our Ethiopian angel.

Riding horses. Cole got to ride by himself as a reward for being in big boy undies for a week!! Yay Cole!! We have also played in the dirt pile a lot.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Long time No Post and DTE

Oh my goodness - it has almost been a month since my last post. It has definately not been because there hasn't been anything to post about. I am not even sure where to start and don't have time to cover it all but I am vowing to never go this long between posts. The other thing that I am going to do if it is okay with all of you is this blog is going to be about not just adoption but about our lives now. When you really think about it there really isn't a place to start and stop. I thought about starting a separate blog for our family life but it just doesn't make sense. This blog was started to share our journey and family and what God is doing in our lives so ITS OFFICIAL this is going to be about both from now on. This probably only makes sense to you, invisible friends but to this left brained, type A personality I had to make an official announcement!! LOL.

As far as Ethiopia, the situation has seemed to worked itself out for now. We, at this time, have not seen a reduction in the cases being processed. Great News. These kids need families NOW. A child should not live in an orphanage 1 second longer than necessary. We got word last week that we are DTE. DTE (for my non adoption friends) means Dossier to Ethiopia aka our dossier is in Ethiopia. When we sent our dossier to Holt we were placed on the waitlist. But the final and intended destination for that baby is Ethiopia. Everything in it has to be translated and then it will wait with us for the child God has known we would raise since the beginning of time. From my understanding once we get and accept a referral then it will all be submitted to court. While we are on adoption lingo, referral is a beautiful word. When you get an email, facebook post or blog update from me that says referral IT IS a BIG deal. That means that we will have pics in our hands of our baby. We will know if it is a boy or girl, how old and all of those details that we are leaving up to God.

We have had quiet a bit of excitement in our house lately. NOT the good kind of excitement. Both of my kids were sick with fever for a longer than normal period of time and then I got sick with pneumonia. Last week we noticed that a previous water leak had actually damaged A LOT of our new home. As I type this neither of my end brick walls have brick on them, my flowerbed is destroyed and we have to be out for at least 2 weeks in the next few months for them to re do 2 rooms of our wood floors. On a brighter note, the plumbers GL policy is covering the repairs and I have booked a lake house just 20 minutes away for our home away from home. Beautiful lake front 3 BR 2 Bath house with a Large deck and a 2 story boat dock. I think it might make it easier to be out..... don't you??

We also are hosting our US congressman in our home this next Saturday afternoon!! Yes, remember my brick isn't on our house!!!!! It will be by then hopefully. It is a good thing I don't get too worked up over that kind of hooty tooty fancy schmancy stuff likt that. If I did it wouldn't be fun to be at my house. Anywho.... it is a total God thing. I couldn't say no. On a Thursday in early January I was reading a friends blog and another message board, both alluded to the fact that it wouldn't be a bad idea to get aquainted with our US congress people so that if something happened while we were in Ethiopia or during this process and we needed their help that we would have made prior contact. I just stored that little tidbit in my brain and mentioned it to Bryan. On Sunday just 3 days later, I was sitting in church and a lady that I have known for a while turned around and said that she had a crazy question. She said that "they" was looking for a place to have a fundraiser for the Congressman. She said that she knew my mom had a nice sized house but thought that we had just built and wondered if either of us might be interested in hosting this event. I said sure I would like for someone to come look and make sure that my accomodations were right to know for sure but that I was willing. She then tried to explain that there would be lots of people and our current Congressman was a big deal in the US right now and I have since saw him on any given Sunday on a news talk show. I still agreed. Is that not GOD showing up? I just couldn't say no. I have no idea why this has happened but there is a reason. I am not the hostess with the mostess I can assure you. So about 1000 invites later here we are!! (with 2 walls down and a flower bed destroyed) It should be fun. I will keep you posted on that.

We are honored to have you following our journey and appreciate your prayers.


Saturday, March 5, 2011

I choose faith......

There is a lot of speculation since yesterday when an article came out on the internet. It said that Ethiopia is about to limit by 90% the adoptions out of there. This makes me sick not for our family at all but for the 5 million orphans there. This HAS NOT been confirmed by our agency, who we trust. Holt, our agency, has told us that they are aware of the speculation and that a meeting has been scheduled. Last week, last month or maybe even tomorrow I would have or might choose to panic. But today and hopefully in the days ahead..... I choose faith. Faith that God is bigger that all of that and total confidence that HE called our family to this. The motive is secure and legit adoptions which is a must but there are other ways to enforce this. I am asking you to join me in praying for the children in Ethiopia (and around the world) for them to know what a loving home is. I totally feel a peace that is only given by God. Believe me, since this process started I have had several roll on the floor crying, screaming and bargaining with God moments when other speculation like this came up. (yes yes I know that doesn't help anything)

We are on the "wait list".!!!! We got on there Feb 28 and there have been some (at least 1) referrals since then. So we are closer... How close? I don't know. Holt quit giving wait list numbers and yes it is driving this left brained, type A personality, like to know it all person CRAZY. But this is how I am rolling. We do have a yahoo group for our agency and we try to keep a semi accurate count but not all families are on it. Sooooo to the best of my guessing ability we are at 44. But like I said it could be as low as 32. So we will all be surprised when the call comes.

Prayers please! and thanks for joining us on this journey. I will keep you posted.


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Dossier Turned In!! Paperwork finished!!

I am very proud to announce to you that we are officially done with the paper chase part of this adoption, we have fed exed our dossier. (dos- e- a for my non adoption friends) As soon as Holt approves it we will be officially waiting. Waiting for that phone call and email to see the beautiful face fo the child God has prepared us for also known as a referral. We really have no idea how long that might be. They are saying 7-9 months but some of the people who just received their referral in about 4-5 months. So your guess is as good as mine. I am praying for patience during this wait and to just enjoy family because I have been told that the wait between seeing the picture and going to court to hold them is very difficult and that the wait once we have seen them and had to leave them is even more difficult. So this is suppose to be the easy wait!!

Ok so I have had many questions about what is a dossier so I am going to list all of the things we have done so far. I know it is overwhelming but I would do it a 1000 times over if necessary!

First we had to do our home study. Here is what that involved.
- application
directions to our home
medical tests for Bryan and I (HIV, HEB B, TB and drugs)
medical exams for Cole and Averie
autobiographys (that was interesting)
family pictures, pictures of our house, and play area with swing set
monthly budget
marriage certificate and birth certificates
photos of passports
4 references who had to fill out questionare about us (4 pages)
CPA letter about finances since we are self employed
last year income tax papers
copy of drivers licenses and social security cards
floor plan of our home
fire arms safety sheet
child proof our house (needed to be done with Cole anyway)
fire extinguisher
practice fire drills
8 hours of questioning Bryan and I on EVERYTHING
30 min. of questioning Averie (our Social worker was in for a treat, if you know Averie you
Proof of will, life insurance, and health insurance
forms about our marriage (we each had to do one) and each others parenting abilities

Once we received our approved home study we were able to mail our papers for immigration. That involved our homestudy, birth certificates and marriage certificates. We then received fingerprint appointments and had that done in Dallas. We needed that approval to add to our dossier.

Our dossier included:
family summary form
a notarized letter from us to the Ministry of Women, Children, and Youth Affairs in Eth. telling
why we wanted to adopt
2 passport sized photos of each of us
our home study report that had to be certified in Austin at the Sec of States office
a power of attorney allowing a man in Ethiopia to act on our behalf (a little scary) certified also
Certified Birth Certificates and Marriage Certificates
Color copies of our passport notarized
2 more letters of recommedation notarized
Police clearance from our local law enforcement notarized
Medical Certificates on Bryan and I notarized
CPA letter notarized
Copy of income taxes notarized
Personal condition forms (4 yrs. of income taxes) notarized
Letter from our bank that we are in good standing notarized
Post Placement agreement notarized
copy of my immigration approval

Now you know why I am so relieved for this part to be over. Thanks for your prayers and support but keep it coming. We are going to need all we can get over this time. Please also pray for our Ethiopian angel and their birth family.

Monday, February 21, 2011


Well we are ALMOST finished. Finished with this part of the process. We were able to go in early to get our fingerprints done. They didn't even question us - yipee. It was a little nerve wracking for me because they told me that my prints on my left hand were rejected! However I called our case worker with USCIS last week and she told me that they passed. So now we are just waiting on that approval and we are DONE with the paperwork part of the process and will just wait and wait. I am not focusing on that right now I just want this dossier out of my hands. (more on what my dossier includes later for my non adoption friends) I actually have my entire dossier in an envelope waiting to be sent once my immigration approval comes. You all will definately know when that happens.

We had the opportunity this past weekend to volunteer at Winter Jam in Dallas. Winter Jam is where a lot of Christian bands (New Song, Newsboys, Sidewalk Prophets, David Crowder Band and others) partner with Holt International (our adoption agency) to share Jesus with the people ( a lot of youth groups) and to get sponsorships for the kids in Holt's care. They shared about the orphan crisis and about how it is our responsibility. Bryan and I worked and we got 16 kids sponsored between the 2 of us! I was so thankful. I got the first five kids folders and pics when I arrived and they were in my vest pocket that they had us wear. The entire time until that happened I just kept looking at those first 5 and prarying for them by name and that I could find a sponsor for them. I enjoyed the worship but my mind never strayed from the "kids in my pocket" I just prayed for all of the kids that were in need of a sponsor that night. Averie found a little boy from Ethiopia that was born the same year as her that she was drawn to. She first asked her daddy to find him a good sponsor and just kept looking at him. He was actually the same little boy that I saw on the website that was in urgent need of a sponsor. (kind of a cool God moment for me) so I told Averie that she could sponsor him but would have to work for half of his sponsorship herself. She was happy. I love that she is getting it. And since he is with Holt and in Ethiopia, Bryan and I will most likely get to meet him and give him a big hug when we go. $30 a month seriously changes a life in Africa.

Thanks for checking in on us!!


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Hurry up and wait - neat opportunities

There isn't a whole lot new here. We are still waiting for our fingerprint appointment. Our appointment isn't for another 2 weeks but we are going to go early and hope they will see us. There is no way to know if it will work. I have been told that it depends on the day and the moods of the people so I am thinking about taking a homemade dessert.......not really but I would in a second if I thought it would help. We were going to go last week but Cole was sick ALL week, like 3 trips to Dallas to the doctor sick, so that wasn't a good time to leave him. We were going to go on Tuesday but then the bad weather and ice hit and all of Dallas is pretty much shut down so we will wait and try again the beginning of next week.

On Monday, Averie and her 2 friends and their mom ( who is also a great friend of mine) all drove to Austin to get our homestudy and power of attorney certified at the Sec. of State office. We made a field trip out of it and toured the capitol and even got to watch Congress in session, which is rare because in Texas they only meet 140 days every other year. So that was kind of a treat. I needed to brush up on my Texas history for sure.

Bryan and I had the opportunity of sharing our adoption testimony at our church a week ago. Our pastor included us in the Sanctity of Life Sunday! What a joy that was to share with our church family all that God has done in our family and how far He has brought us. Our prayer is that God will use us to share His desires for Christians to care for HIS children, namely orphans. I pray for many more opportunitys to share. After all, before this last year I truly didn't know.... didn't know the statistics, the need, and the commands of Jesus.

Since it was extremely cold today, Bryan was home more than normal. We ate lunch in town and then went to a local coffee house that has a TON of stuff from Africa for sell. The sell only Fair Trade items. Anyway, while we were there we got to meet and visit at length with a young man from Kenya. He was sponsored through Compassion International as a child and it has made all of the difference for him. Praise God! He has a college degree from Kenya and is about to teach Physics in Memphis Tennessee to inner city, troubled children. I so hope that I can visit with him more before he leaves town. Sponsorship makes a HUGE difference.

At the same coffee house today, we met a family that are missionarys and have 3 adopted children... all domestic but all had different races. One Puerto Rican, one african american, and I do not remember the other one but we talked with them for a while too. The mom shared their funny times as a transracial family and gave me the name of a great book to read. Her oldest is 17 so she has lots of experience. Anyway another cool God moment.

I want to share with you a lady that is my hero. Her name is Katie Davis and she is 22. She is in Uganda working with children, educating them, sharing Jesus with them, and nursing dying babies back to health. Oh yea, she also took care of an older lady dying from TB and AIDS. She now has 14 kids!!!! All adopted there in Uganda. Anyway she is a true definition to me of Pure Religion. (James 1:27)

Check her out.
Also while you are at it look at Look at the blogs of these 2 women who run this organization. AMAZING also.

One last thing, if you are a follower and I don't know you would you please leave me a comment with something about you? Just curious about you, do you have a blog...... of course if you would like to share.

Stay warm!!


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Making it easy for YOU!

Ok, so I told all of you in the first post that I have never blogged before and am learning, oh so much about how all of this works. I love that it allows me to share our heart and the work of the Lord in our lives towards bringing home "Baby E" I share the good, the bad and well actually all of it.

So I have figured out a way, (actually Traci, who designed my blog helped me) to make it easy on you. If you choose you can actually put in your email address on the side and when I make a post it is emailed straight to you!! I still want you to visit my blog when you can because of lots of other stuff that is here but I am excited about this advancement.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Why Ethiopia?

We received our fingerprint appointment in the mail! We are not scheduled until February 16 but we are going to try to do a walk in appointment this week. Please pray that they allow us to go ahead and get this done. A lot of people have been getting there Favorable Determination Letter (FDL) within a week or 2. This is the last thing we are waiting on. Then we will be on the wait list. Yipee!

This video pretty much sums up why Jesus broke our hearts for this country.


Friday, January 7, 2011

Thanks and I600A mailed!!

I want to say thanks to all of you who prayed for us during the last few days. I am fully aware that this adoption, international adoption in general, is not for the faint at heart and will be full of ups and downs. We are keeping the course with Holt and with Ethiopia. I spoke with Holt and feel much better about the email that was sent. I am vowing to not panic in the future, at least in the first 24 hours. Would you all please remind me of that?? The email was regarding the health testing of our child and also extended wait times. I am now satisfied with what has happened and how Holt is working thru it. Everything is not CERTAIN but we are CERTAIN that we are following the only thing that is CERTAIN, Jesus. We have a peace!!

We received our Final home study yesterday and sent off our I600A today!! It felt so good to finally mail send it. We drove 25 miles just to send it FedEx so we could track it!! I have been so anxious to get to this step because it is so uncertain how long it might take. This is a petition to the USCIS, United States Citizens and Immigrations Services to allow us to bring an orphan into the US. We had to send our home study, birth certificates, and marriage certificate to them along with a nice check to the Dept of Homeland Security. We are now waiting on our fingerprinting appointment.


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Prayers Please!!

I am going to ask you all to be in prayer for us tonight and over the next few days. I received a very disheartening email from Holt today (actually 30 min. ago) - it was sent out to all families in the process. The gov't there is making MAJOR changes. I don't like some of them at all. I know without a doubt that God led us here and that He will see us through but we have some major decisions to make. Do we stay with Holt? Do we stay with Ethiopia? Do we change to Uganda? Do we sit on this paperwork and wait a week or 2 to see what the new developments are? I am just being wide open with you, my blog followers. The truth, I just want the child God has for us, but finding it MAY be a little harder to do than I thought. I will keep you posted.

It is so hard to discern whether this is a bump in the road or a U turn sign heading us in another direction. What I do know is God has a child for us in Africa.

Following HARD after HIM!!!!


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Reflections of 2010 and Happy New Year 2011!

I really should be sleeping right now, since both of my kids are asleep. They have both had the flu and together we have been fighting this for 10 days now. That equals NO sleep for me. However I am wide awake and no I don't think it is all of the caffiene I have been living on for the last week.... I am reflecting and envisioning and I am excited.

2010 - was a great but difficult year for our family. We built our home, which is now a huge blessing but it was a very difficult process for us. The main thing that sticks out to me when I think about 2010 is that WE, as a family went down a very different road for the first time. We felt Gods call on our hearts for the fatherless, the unloved child, the orphan, or the least of these - however you want to word it. This time was different, this time was clear we were to go make it one less. In the process of this we pretty much spent our entire year analyzing everything we knew, had been taught in church, had ever heard of and also every part of what being a Christian is about. I am not even kidding people. We questioned it all. We felt a calling to our TRUE CALLING. God truly broke our hearts. The more resistant we were the more our hearts broke. I cried countless tears. As true American Christians, we had always considered we were blessed by God, that He wanted the best for us, that he wanted us to be successful, that we were suppose to be in church and be kind to one another. I am really not being cynical, I am not. I am exposing to all of the bloggy world what I actually thought and what Bryan did too. I think he is enjoying a nap as I am sharing his feelings too. We, not at all our parents fault they were raised the same way and so on, were raised to be "good" and God would be happy with us as long as we tithed, went to church, and were always honest and tried to do good. But suddenly this version, my version, of the gospel just wasn't cutting it. It wasn't adding up. If I was blessed by my "stuff" what about the dying child in Africa, the homeless man in Dallas, the orphan in Haiti, Africa, Europe, or China or the foster child in here in Texas? Did God forget about them? For God so loved the world, not Canton, or the US or the sinless (thank goodness). This didn't make sense. I analyzed it all and discovered quiet the contrary to what we believed. God loves those just as much and THEY are the center of his heart. Just for fun try to figure out how many times in the Bible the least of these, or orphans, or widows or fatherless are mentioned. They are mentioned both in commandments to us to take care of them and in how we should be! Thought provoking to us anyway. We are given what we have to take care of those. After all we are to be His hands and feet. Our prayer is that God would break our hearts for what breaks His. I would say that if you want to be near to the heart of God, find a widow, find an orphan, find someone in need. I am not at all meaning for this to be preaching to you, I just want a written record of how God changed our hearts for the good and moved them towards His in 2010!! AND we are not ever going back.

FYI, I am working on reading several books that actually go along with this. I am believing in a revival among Christians for the orphan cause of the world.
The Hole in the Gospel

2011 - Oh how I get excited to think of this year. I am excited to see what God has in store for our family as we continue to strive to know His heart better!! But I can't wait to see the face of the sweet innocent one that God broke my heart for - completly unexpectedly. I know everything is in HIS timing (yall remind me of that when I am posting an I am impatient post!!) but I really think that by the middle of the year we will get to see his or her face on my computer screen for the first time! and also have gotten to hug them and kiss their face for the first time in Africa and here is where God's timing comes in but I would love for there to be 1 more face in my Christmas card next year and have that child HOME with us by this time next year. Now this last part might be pushing it but that is truly what I want and am praying for.
I am excited to see Cole and Averie grow in their understanding of the Lord and the heart of Jesus.

I guess as far as resolutions are concerned, I could stand to get more organized, lose a few pounds, get more sleep and learn something new. But if I had to pick something that I really mean, it is that the Bryan and Mandie Cantrell family would strive to be broken by the things that break Jesus' heart and to know it more.

Adoption Update: I should get notarized home study in the mail Tuesday and will be mailing our Orphan Immigration Papers on Tuesday or Wednesday! (I-600A for those of you in this adoption world) Pray for a speedy turn around.

May God Bless You in 2011 but May He ALSO use YOU to Bless Others!!

Happy New Year!!!

James 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress, and keep oneself from being polluted by the world.