Friday, December 31, 2010

Last day for 2010 tax deductions !

Need some more deductions on your 2010 taxes??  Consider helping us bring Zoe home!!  Today is the last day to donate to Lifesong and we would love for you to help us along with deducting from your taxes. :)  And yes the mail does run today. :)

We need Financial Support - Will you please consider making a tax-deductible donation to help us pay the remaining $10,000 in adoption expenses, to bring Zoe home?

Lifesong has graciously set up a fundraising account for us to raise funds to help pay the "ransom" to bring Zoe home. If you would like to be a part of God bringing Zoe to Himself through our family, you can send your tax-deductible gift to Lifesong.  Lifesong is a trusted organization administering the funds on Zoe's behalf, and will pay the adoption expenses out of fund received. They truly are amazing people and a God send!

Steps to do this:

-Please make checks payable to: "Lifesong"

-You should write "Godwin/#1549" in the memo section.

-You can then mail your check to:

Lifesong for Orphans

Att: Godwin/#1549

Post Office Box 40

Gridley, Illinois 61744

Thank you all so much for your love and support!  We hope we hear something soon and see our precious daughters face in the beginning of the new year.

God Bless you all and Happy New Year!! 


JW, KC and Olivia

PS- We hope to become more active on our blogging, December is a busy month for us!!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving Re-cap

With Thanksgiving over, left over’s eaten, family now gone, and life somewhat back to normal for the next few weeks, until it’s time to gear up for Christmas, I thought that I would update you all on everything.

Well, as most of you know, because we would have shared the news if it had happened, we did not receive a referral by Thanksgiving like we were hoping and praying for. We realize that it is all in God’s hands and we will be introduced to Zoe when he is ready for us to be. So we are now praying that, that is the one gift that we get for Christmas!! Please join us in praying it is the right time. But we have found out that we are getting closer on the list to being at the top. Our agency doesn't give out "numbers" to tell you how many families are ahead of you, but I annoy them so much I think they told me one to get me to leave them alone. I can't say what number it is, but I will tell you it is in the single digests! So PRAY, PRAY, PRAY !

As some of you know, KC and I have some interesting ‘characters’ in our family and surprisingly I was only confronted by a few of them on Thanksgiving about the adoption. So needless to say it was a great day! I am posting some pictures of the day. Olivia finally got to meet my Granny. She is my dad’s mother and she turned 99 this year. We truly are blessed to still have her in our lives. She is full of so much spunk and wisdom.

So while we didn’t get our referral there is still SO much to be thankful for this year.

There is also a picture of me and my brothers and sisters with our Granny. Then the one at the top of the post is of everyone in my family, as in brothers, sisters, and their families – so not including aunts, uncles or cousins.

until later -

j.w. godwin

Monday, November 15, 2010

Being thankful...

As we all get ready to start one of the most wonderful times of the year there are SO many things that each of us could be thankful for. Just in the last year KC and I have been blessed with Olivia Claire, we have dealt with some tough times, some good times, and yet we all still have the things that are really the important things in life - our health, our family and our faith.

This afternoon after I got off work KC and I rushed to church to try to get there in time to help one of our friends with her "project." Stephanie is in charge of the Operation Christmas Child drop off center that has been assigned at our church. It isn't just the drop off center for our church though, it is for all of the churches in the area. She is doing an AMAZING job! But as I walked into the church tonight I was taken back by how many boxes there were. I stood and looked at the hundreds of boxes still empty that will be filled later this week and it made me realize that each of those big boxes can hold fourteen 'shoe boxes' inside of them. That is a TON of presents. Just think, every one of those tiny shoe boxes will be handed to a child somewhere in the world for Christmas. For most of them this will be the only thing that they receive and how simple it is. KC and I put together a few boxes and it only cost about $15.00 per box. $15.00 is going to give some kid the most awesome gift they have gotten all year. I guess standing next to a few empty boxes really couldn't register with you, unless you then realize that all of those boxes are waiting to be filled to help Santa out with all of his deliveries.

So this year as we all get ready to spend time with our families and be thankful for everything that we have all been so blessed with, remember those who aren't as luck as us.

Also, one prayer that KC and I have been praying is that we receive our referral by Thanksgiving. We know that it is only about a week away, and the possibility of that happening is very low. We have recently had some people even tell us not to get our hopes up, and we understand that... but through Jesus Christ anything is possible, and if you don't believe that, read the post before this one.

Every year at Thanksgiving we stand in a HUGE circle at my parents house and hold hands to pray before we eat. Before we do so we all have an opportunity to tell the entire family any 'news' that we may have. We usually have someone saying that they are either getting married or are pregnant or whatever. Well this year KC and I want to 'introduce' our newest daughter to her new family through a picture. When we told a few people that we were adopting it spread like wild fire, so they all already know that, but we think it would help make it more 'real' for everyone if we had a picture of Zoe rather than just an idea of a person.

So over the next week, when you take a moment to thank God for all that you have been thankful for, if you have any free time ask him if it is possible for us to meet our daughter soon... even if it is just in a picture. That truly would make this Thanksgiving even more to be thankful for.

until later -

j.w. godwin

Prayers answered !

The post before this one was about a couple here in town who is adopting a baby girl from Uganda - Amelia. They were the first couple that KC and I met and talked to at Saint James UMC and by meeting them we finally had the courage to take our leap of faith to adopt. Well on behalf of them to all of you who prayed for them – THANK YOU ! Rachel sent me this message earlier today and I have to share it.

“Four years ago, God whispered to my heart that I would have children who did not come from my body… and He placed within me an unquenchable love for my future babies.
Our daughter Caroline came the old fashioned way… our sweet surprise! Then in 2009, we answered God’s calling by beginning our process to bring Amelia home. Nearly two years, 57 photographs, and five major adoption delays later, we realize that this adoption is in God’s control, and that only His miraculous hands can bring our daughter home.
Make no mistake. Amelia is already our daughter, even if it is not yet the case legally. God planned her for us since the foundations of the earth. While untold obstacles continue to stand in the way of our getting to her, we KNOW that God has already won the victory. The body of Christ is coming together in prayer now, and miracles are already happening.
God has a special heart for adoption. Over two hundred years ago, Jesus laid down His life to pay the costly fee for our own adoption into the family of God. Our Father knows and loves the beauty of adoption. He longs for us to come to Him in the same way that our family longs for Amelia to come home to us. He will be victorious.
Please be a part of the miracle. Please be blessed to join us in praying, fasting, and fighting spiritual warfare for our precious Amelia. Join the fight, and see God move mountains. We know that God wants others to see His beauty and might through Amelia’s story. Please cry out to God with us, and we will all watch in awe as our Mighty Savior moves.”

Rachel also sent a message to several of us this morning and it said –
“Our Ugandan attorney called to ask if we'd like him to file our case. We said YES!!!! Here is how you can continue to pray! Please see specific prayer requests below:
1.) That our official documents arrive in Uganda through the mail system at WARP speed.
ANSWERED! God TRULY used "warp speed"!!
2.) That our Ugandan attorney feel an URGENCY for our case and attempt to file as soon as he has our documents.
Sounds like this is being answered, please pray that he follows through!!!
3.) That the courts are still accepting new cases once our documents arrive, even though it will be close to the holidays.
4.) That we are miraculously granted a court date and are able to travel AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, hopefully December!!!”

So there we have it people. We need to start at steps 2 and go through 4. Most of you are in the same boat as KC and I - you are adopting a baby and that is one of the reasons you read our blog. Well one thing that KC and I have learned through our adoption process is that we are all here for each other, even people we have never met. As brothers and sisters in Christ it is our responsibility at moments like this to pray for others and help them through their “tough” moments. People who aren’t adopting sometimes have a difficult time understanding how emotional it can be to know that you have a baby somewhere out there and there is nothing you can do to get to him or her home any quicker. TRUST me – if there were any way Amelia and Zoe Grace would both already be home. I am reminded of Matthew 25:35-40 that says – “35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”
Even though we all may not know each other, we all have a common bond. We are to help those least among us, as well as those we don't even know. Thank you ALL for your prayers for Rachel and Brad as well as for KC and I. We ALL appreciate them so much – and keep them coming.

Zoe Grace update: I am working on a post about that, I just had to go ahead and put this one up today so that everyone could celebrate with us their good news! More about Zoe to follow…

until later -

j.w. godwin

Monday, November 1, 2010

Prayers needed!

Attention to all friends and family -

We have some very close friends who are adopting a little girl from a different country. They were referred their sweet baby girl back this summer and you could tell the moment that they saw her precious face that she was their child and they had a parents heart for her. They have been going through so much in their process and keep getting "pushed back." They continue to stay strong and show what a "true" parents strength is like. Their love for their child is just as strong as if she was a biological child.

Please keep them in your prayers and thoughts. As KC & I wait for our picture of Zoe, I couldn't imagine getting a picture of her and then not being able to go get her! Talk about a heart ache!

So please keep them in your thoughts and prayers. It has to be tough, but we know that God is and will continue to help them and their baby.

Until later -
j.w. godwin

Friday, October 29, 2010

Free Shipping!

Hey Friends!

Just wanted to let everyone know that today is the last day to order one of our shirts for this shipment.  What is even better is that Dolka Pots is having free shipping today - woo hoo!!  That means you can order one of our shirts plus some other adorable items and not have to pay shipping, score! :)

We have been battling a vicious little bug at our house, going on four days now.  Please pray it leaves us alone ASAP!  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and a Happy Halloween!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"A very special Christmas Story"

Jimmy B. Pool Written Christmas, 2003.

Christmas came early for us in 2003. On November 11, my wife Carol and I returned from Russia with Elaine Sorrell Pool, born November 1, 2002. The adoption was complete and little “Ellie” was home!

Ellie is the granddaughter of the late Fred and Sorrell Pool of Roanoke. Ellie is named after Sorrell and her other grandmother, Elaine Walton of Selma.

In July of 2002, we began the adoption process with a trip to Villa Hope, an adoption agency in Birmingham, Alabama. Originally, we considered adopting from China, but at the time, the SARS epidemic was spreading around the world from that region and getting in and out of that country was extremely difficult. The case worker at Villa Hope recommended that we consider a Russian child. It sounded good to us, and the process began.

There was a great deal of paperwork to complete, home studies of our home in Montgomery conducted, and clearances by local , state, and federal agencies obtained. The final paperwork was submitted to Russia in the Spring of 2003.

In August, we received word that we had a “referral,” meaning that the adoption agency in Russia had matched us up with a child. We were given a video tape and medical records on the girl. This tape and the records were reviewed by a pediatrician in Montgomery who specializes in medical care for internationally adopted children and also by a physician at The International Adoption Clinic located at UAB Hospital. The doctors’ opinion was that Ellie was doing fine considering she was premature and had been in an orphanage for seven months.

Soon thereafter, we were informed that there was going to be a change in the government hierarchy in Kazan’ Russia where Ellie lived. The agency needed to speed things up, and a court date was set for October 28. If we didn’t come over before then it would be well into 2004 before we could get Ellie, and in all likelihood, we would have to travel to Russia twice to complete the adoption.

Many arrangements had to be made. Carol had to ask for 3 months leave from work. I had to arrange for my law practice to be “put on hold” until late November. Carol’s boss, Claude McCartney of Southern Union, was very accommodating and shared the excitement of the impending addition to the Pool family. Clients, fellow lawyers, my partner Johnnie Smith, my legal assistant Becky Moulton and the local judges bent over backwards to make the adjustments for me, and all of my court work was postponed. Finally, visas to visit Russia had to be obtained from the Russian government.

Fortunately for us, we had saved Delta frequent flyer miles for many years, and were able to redeem them for First class round trip tickets. Delta also offered a huge discount for the return flight for adopting couples, only requiring that we have tickets ourselves, and pay the taxes on an extra ticket for the baby. The baby does not have a seat on the plane, so it’s very good we had first class tickets, because Ellie had to ride in our laps. Cramped coach seats would have been a nightmare for the 3 hour flight from Moscow to Paris and the 9 hour flight from Paris to Atlanta.

On the afternoon of October 19, we drove to Atlanta and left for Russia. There was a brief layover in Paris, then a connecting flight on Air France to Moscow. We really liked the food on the Air France flight, I declared it “the finest food I’ve ever gotten on an airline.”

It took a total of 13 hours to get to Moscow, arriving at 6:00 p.m., local time on the 20th. Moscow is nine hours ahead of Montgomery, meaning when it is noon in Alabama, its already 9:00 p.m. that day in Moscow. Customs check-in was totally uneventful, the stoic Russian soldiers methodically stamping the passports and visa papers with hardly a nod at each person coming through.

The first glimpse of Russia was at night, but Moscow is a big city with lots of lights, and very Westernized. Advertisements for American goods are everywhere, but everything else is in Russian. There is much legalized gambling in Russia, with video poker parlors scattered throughout the country. The Russian language is very hard, made harder because their alphabet is not even the same as the one used by English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and many others.

In downtown Moscow, up the street from the Kremlin and Red Square, is the Marriott Grand, a very luxurious hotel with everything one could get in the USA, except that of the 150 television stations on the “satellite”, only a handful were in English. We later found out that the TV in Kazan’ was even worse, with only 3 stations in English; Euronews, BBC News, and MSNBCEurope.

At a hotel registration in Russia, one must first surrender his or her passport, which is necessary for the hotel to register the visitor with the government, and after about an hour, the passport is returned.

On Tuesday, the 21st, we met Victoria, a lovely 26 year old Russian girl, who would be our coordinator and guide in Moscow. Victoria works for WorldChild, the adoption agency which partners with VillaHope, and has offices in Moscow, Falls Creek, Virginia, and other places around the globe. Victoria spoke perfect English, having graduated from the University in Moscow with a degree in English. She was a proud Muscovite, and extremely knowledgeable about the history, tourist sites, and shopping bazaars in the city.

Mixed in with more voluminous last-minute paperwork, we toured Moscow for 2 days, seeing the Kremlin, Red Square, Gum, Russia’s tomb of the unknown soldier, and many other sights. Gum, the huge mall adjacent to Red Square proved to be a delightful shopping experience. And I bought a fur hat from a street vendor, who insisted on being paid in American money, $20.00 for the rabbit hat.

On Wednesday night, the 22nd, we met Natasha, also with the agency, who would accompany us to Kazan’. Natasha’s English paled in comparison to Victoria’s, but was understandable. The next night we boarded an Aeroflot airliner, for the 1 ½ hour flight to Kazan’. The food was not good on Aeroflot, and some of it was a complete mystery.

The Kazan’ airport is cold, dark, and stark. There is not a carousel for luggage. The restrooms are like indoor outhouses, and there are hardly any signs giving directions. Natasha led us off the plane, through the “terminal”, and to the drivers, Alex and Alex, two young Russian men who were drivers for the agency. Alex #1 spoke pretty good English, and provided some insights into Kazan’, Alex #2 did neither.

The drive into Kazan’ was somewhat unnerving. The roads are narrow, hardly lit, and for the most part, unmarked. In Kazan’, about 30 minutes from the airport, it wasn’t much better. It is a cold and sad city. Interestingly, Kazan’ will celebrate 1000 years of existence in 2 years, while Moscow is only 800 years old. Lots of Kazan’ showed the antiquity of the city. There is construction going on in Kazan’, but also lots of desolation and destruction.

We stayed at the Guiseppe Hotel. Mr. Guiseppe is Cicilian, and many times we wondered how on earth a Sicilian got 500 miles into the heart of Russia, and had a hotel to boot. Guiseppe is loud, friendly, and thoroughly likeable, and a terrific cook, as we later learned.

Accommodations were nice, though dated. The hotel room was very large, with a sitting room with a full sized refrigerator, living, dining, and bedroom combination, and a full bath with a shower and a tub. In one corner of the bathroom was another piece of equipment, baffling us. At first, I thought it was a bidet. On close examination, there was a hot and cold spigot, and a drain plug. Later, we found out that the commode looking fixture was for foot-washing!

The clerks in the hotel spoke broken English. In the adjacent Guiseppe Pizza Parlor, only one person in 19 days in Kazan’ spoke English.

On Thursday, October 25, we finally got to meet Ellie. The trip was a 30 minute ride in the BMW belonging to Alex #1. Alex also had a small Russian hatchback, which would travel better in icy conditions, which we soon learned, would be necessary. The trip to the orphanage was very depressing. The citizens there lead hard lives, are for the most part very poor, and most don’t smile. The streets are dirty and poorly maintained.

Orphanage #2 in Kazan holds 100 children under the age of 4. The orphanage was bleak to say the least. Ellie was in room #8 of 10 rooms. Every piece of clothing on her had an “8" embroidered on it. The children stay bundled up in 4 or 5 layers of clothes. The caretakers are pleasant, but with 1 or 2 caretakers for 10 children, individual attention is at a minimum for each child. Ellie had an engaging smile, and our hearts rose when we saw her. She came to us, we hugged her, and it was love at first sight. She’s teething so she flashed a toothy grin. We hugged her and talked to her and played with a stuffed animal. The hour flew by. Off we went in our car back to the hotel. We had free time until 4:00 when we went back to the orphanage. In the afternoon, we got to visit for 1 ½ hours. The 1/2 hour ride to and from the orphanage twice a day was played out almost daily until Ellie was released to us on November 8.

On Saturday, October 25, we awoke to a huge snowstorm which prohibited travel. The streets were passable the next day, and thereafter. The streets of Kazan’ are treacherous. Traveling them was worth it every day, because each day we became more and more attached to Ellie and the time allowed us for the visits seemed so short. At lunch and in the evenings, we walked the streets of Kazan’. There’s not much to see and do there, the food in the restaurants is nothing spectacular, and the language barrier prohibited much improvisation. Only 2 restaurants had English menus, and their cuisine soon got old after a few visits.

Court was set on October 28. We went with Natalya, a social worker, and we had an interpreter. He was very nice, and tried to give us some pointers on Russian courts. The Judge called the case, we went in the room, and had the most unpleasant experience of our trip. We were treated very rudely and harshly. He had the authority to waive the “10-day waiting period.” He denied the request, even though our local pediatricians had advised that we get Ellie examined as soon as possible. As a result, instead of bringing Ellie home on November 3, we couldn’t come home until the 11th. We were offered the option of coming back home at the end of October, and coming back for Ellie. Carol and I decided that we would not leave Russia without her.

Each day brought us a little closer to coming home, and a lot closer to our daughter. We got news that we could get Ellie on the 8th. Guiseppe decided to throw a party on Thursday night. He started off with pasta, which he made with salmon and 2 kinds of caviar. Then we had a delicious salad. The main course was a shish kabob of 5 kinds of fish and shrimp, presented beautifully. Finally, we were presented with a beautiful desert with Italian ice creams, nuts and cookies. Guiseppe opened several bottles of Sicilian Chardonnay, which complemented the meal perfectly. It was a nice celebration to end our long stay in Kazan’.

Finally, on Friday, November 8, we went to the orphanage for the final time. We took an outfit for Ellie, and the gifts for the caretakers, the administrator, the doctors in the orphanage, and some more folks that I can’t remember.

Ellie was handed to us the same way she came into this world, naked, innocent, and beautiful. We dressed her and took the ride back to the hotel. She did great! She accompanied us to Guiseppe’s restaurant, sat like a sweet little girl, slept all night, and woke up in a strange new world with a smile on her face and our hearts in her hand.

The next evening, we took the drive to the airport. Ellie slept all of the way. We boarded a plane with letters I don’t remember, but it wasn’t Aeroflot. Ellie never whimpered, and the take-off and landing didn’t seem to bother her, we gave her a bottle each time to help with the evening of the pressure in her ears.

We got to Moscow late at night, drove to the Marriott Grand, and welcomed Ellie to the Western world of bright lights, fancy dining rooms, and opulence fit for a queen...compared to the orphanage she had been in since she was 2 months old.

The next day we again toured Moscow, and took pictures of Ellie in Red Square. They were forwarded home and made part of a three part article in The Montgomery Independent. Ellie had become something of a local celebrity in Montgomery.

On the morning of the 10th, we went to the United States Embassy to get Ellie’s visa. She would not be a U.S. citizen until her feet touched the ground in the USA, even though the adoption was complete in Russia, and we were her parents. The most uplifting time of the trip occurred at the Embassy. There is an entire wing of the building devoted solely to adoptions. In the 30 minute time frame we were there, two dozen American families were there with their babies getting visas to bring their children home, and it goes on for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week! Besides all speaking English, a great sensation for us, it is uncanny how much each child resembled one or both of their parents. Of course, I’m convinced Ellie looks like me. If she is as lovely as my wife, her mother, either grandmother, or my sister Freddie, she’ll be a knockout.

On the morning of the 11th, we got up at 3:00 a.m., went to the airport, through customs, and boarded the Air France back to Paris. That trip is 3 hours long. All on the plane oohed and ahhed. Ellie responded with her intoxicating smile.

After a short layover in Paris, we boarded the Boeing 777 for the 9 hour flight to Atlanta. During the flight, Ellie took a couple of bottles, took a few naps, and during some of the slightly fussy moments, got paraded around the plane. All in all, we thought she did fine. In fact, there were other small children on the plane, some newly adopted, and Carol and I felt that “our baby was the best behaved.” No bias there, simply a fact.

Carol videotaped Ellie’s little feet as I placed them on the floor at Hartsfield she was officially a U.S. citizen! It took about an hour to go through customs with Ellie. All of our papers were in perfect order, and we loaded Ellie into our Yukon XL for the drive back to Montgomery. For the first time in her life, Ellie was placed in a car seat. No one wears a seat belt in Russia, much less a car seat for infants. Shortly after she was strapped in the seat, Ellie fell fast asleep, which she does now, within 5 minutes of getting in the car seat.

During the 2 hour drive back to Montgomery, we made calls to her 2 grandmothers, Sorrell and Elaine; Freddie and Tommy Hill; and our friends in Montgomery. All were thrilled for us.

When we drove up in the driveway in Ellie’s new home, a dozen friends were in the yard cheering and taking pictures. A large banner had been placed in the front, “Welcome home little Elaine “Ellie” Sorrell Pool, and there were pink bows and teddy bears all around.

I took Ellie out of the car seat, she looked around at all of these total strangers, and held her arms out to her maternal grandmother, Elaine, who held her for the next hour, not surrendering her to anyone. We had been up for almost 30 hours, and were totally exhausted.

A few days later, we were able to present Ellie to her paternal grandmother. She took to her immediately, and enjoyed taking a bottle from her and being held. Grandma Pool beamed with delight, and was so proud of her 5th, and latest grandchild, to add to her family, which now includes 10 great-grandchildren.

Thanksgiving was wild in Roanoke. Thirty-five family members had traditional dinner in Roanoke in the Pool house. Sorrell presided over her family, and Elaine came as usual, since she is so much a part of the family. All of her grandchildren were there with their spouses, and 6 of the 10 great-grandchildren.  My aunt, Sarah Wood and all of her family also came, as is tradition on Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving dinner turned into a huge baby shower for Ellie, as she was showered with gifts from her family. We had so much for which to be thankful. Thanks be to God Almighty!

Ellie is now a thoroughly modern American girl. She has been to Wal-Mart, Target, Bruno’s, the malls, 3 Auburn basketball games, and has been held by Santa and Aubie. When her picture was made with Aubie, she turned back around and wanted to go back to him and give him another hug! The pediatricians say she is making up for lost ground at record pace, and is gaining weight the way she should. She is currently on three bottles of formula per day, laced with vitamins and iron, and each spiked with a serving of Carnation Instant Breakfast for the calories and added nutrition.

Ellie’s now looking forward to Christmas, and so are we. There are so many children overseas who have little or no chance in life unless they are adopted. More should consider adoption if they need to complete or add to their family. Our dreams and prayers have been answered, and now our family is complete. Merry Christmas to all!

*Excerpts from the family journal

until later -

j.w. godwin

Sharing others stories

Since we started this blog we have been checking the "stats" for fun to see where people are located that are reading it. Well, much to our surprise people are reading it all over the world which we think is pretty amazing. People in Russia, Germany, Chile, Saudi Arabia, China, etc. have been reading our blog! How cool is that? So we want to make sure that we keep everyone up to date on what is going on. Since we are currently in a holding pattern for the nextstep and nothing very "exciting" is happening to share, we thought we would share some other peoples stories. Our wonderful church, Saint James United Methodist Church, is starting an outreach program for families who are interested in adoption/fostering. There were four families at the first meeting to help get everything "started up." So we asked them if they would mind us sharing their stories on our blog and of course they didn't mind. So I am going to post the first one today of a Russian adoption..... I hope you enjoy.

until later -

j.w. godwin

Monday, October 25, 2010

Happy Halloween -

Hello everyone – it is almost time for Halloween and we are all getting into the spirit here in Montgomery. We had our “Trunk or Treat” (aka Fall Festival) at church last night and it was so much fun. Olivia was a firefly, and surprisingly she kept her wings on all night, until she passed out from exhaustion.

Earlier in the day, after church was over, we took Olivia to Frazier United Methodist Church where they are selling some pumpkins and we took some pictures of her, since we didn’t have time to make it all the way out to a pumpkin patch. We hope each of you and your families have a safe and Happy Halloween.
Update on Zoe: We are still just waiting (patiently) on a referral. We hope everyone else is doing well in their adoptions. Let us know the status of everything when you can. There is another family here in Montgomery that we have been blessed to meet during this time and they are adopting a little girl from Ethiopia as well. Well - - - they received their referral last week and it literally gave KC and I both chills. Not only because we know how blessed this little girl will be because she is being brought into their lives, but also because it made it EVEN MORE real to KC and I that we could be receiving that phone call anytime between now and when ever to tell us that we have been referred a baby. So please keep us in your prayers as we patiently wait for God to bless us with Zoe, as well as all of the new families receiving referrals, the families who have referrals and who are waiting to go pick their babies up, the families who are traveling now, and the families who have completed it all and are home with their little ones… or big ones – which ever. God bless.

until later -

j.w. godwin

Thursday, October 21, 2010

God is SO good !

Today is a good day! Thanks to all of the love, support, donations and prayers from all of our friends, family and the many other people who we have never met – OUR ADOPTION IS PAID OFF!!!!
The “ransom”, as we call it, has been paid completely off! All we have to do now is raise enough money for our travel to Ethiopia and back – twice.
Earlier this week Lifesong notified us that some donations had come in to our account, they then told us the amounts that they totaled and we were beyond excited and grateful. It was enough to finish paying off all of the fees that we still owed to Arise, the court fees, international fees, etc. God truly is an awesome God. There was no way that KC and I could have afforded to pay the entire amount for the adoption ourselves.
We had to step out of our comfort zone, which is so difficult for everyone to do, including us, and ask for help. It was even more uncomfortable, because it was asking for money and no one ever likes to do that. But we had faith, prayed about it, and knew that God would handle this minor hiccup and make sure that we were able to get Zoe. We knew when we started this amazing journey that we would come to the moment when we had to ask for help, we just weren’t looking forward to it – but I can tell you from a firsthand experience, all you have to do is have faith. Every time I started to feel down or depressed about the fact that we couldn’t just write a check and pay for the adoption I would remember Matthew 17:20 - "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."

So thank you to everyone who helped us get to this moment. We are forever grateful and I don’t think we could ever express our gratitude enough. For everyone else who still wants to help us with the costs of travel, you can always buy a shirt! They are still on sale and will be until November 5th.
As far as everything else and how it is going, we are still in the waiting stage. We are praying and waiting every day for our Arise to call and tell us that we have a referral. Please continue to keep us in your prayers during this time – it is very difficult just waiting. I am a type of person, who likes to grab life by the horns and get it done with, but it is completely out of my hands right now, and it is driving me crazy, yet teaching me so much about patience.

Until the next time –
j.w. godwin

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Attention friends -

If you know of anyone who is also using our adoption agency "Arise for Children" out of Louisville, Kentucky please have them email us or leave a message in our blog somewhere. We are very interested in getting in contact with other "Arise" families. We hope to hear about their trip(s) and make some connections.

Also - there is a MUCH longer blog entry that I have been meaning to post about this, but if you are considering adoption or have questions about it or anything, you should definitely use Arise for Children!!!!!! They are all such amazing, patient, thorough and kind hearted people. If you've ever thought about adoption, now is an good a time as any to atleast look into it. That's all it took for me and KC to take that leap of faith.

Patiently waiting -
j.w. godwin

Friday, October 1, 2010

Getting it all together

Well friends, we have come to the moment in our adoption where we have to do something that is very awkward and uncomfortable, but yet humbling and honest. It is time for KC and I to start asking everyone to help us fund our trip over to Ethiopia. It is October 1st and we are starting our fundraising efforts – TODAY!
God tells us in His word He has heard the cry of the orphaned and abandoned children (Psalm 10:17, 18) and He has made a way for them to be cared for – through adoption. As believers, He adopted us into His family through Jesus Christ, and did not leave us as spiritual orphans!
Will you invest financially in the life of our child? . . . It will be an investment with eternal return.
All of you know we have felt called and directed by God to adopt a child into our family. We are adopting a little girl from Ethiopia, and will be matched with a specific child hopefully sometime this fall, then travel to Ethiopia this spring to bring her home. As a family, we've been excitedly praying for her everyday and as you all know, we have named her - Zoe Grace!
God desires for orphans of all nations to be loved, cared for and adopted into Christian families - ultimately so they can become saved, and be adopted into His eternal family through Jesus Christ! There are so many things God has used to prick our hearts and move us to adopt, here are a few:

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction... James 1:27

Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will - Ephesians 1:5

The biggest challenge for us is not opening our hearts and home to another child, but it is in finding the finances to make this happen. We estimate our total costs for adoption fees, document preparation, home study, airfare, travel, attorney fees, etc. to be close to $27,000 - and that's certainly money we don't have just lying around, but we know God is faithful and is leading us to trust Him. By God's grace we've been able to pay the initial fees by practically draining most of our savings and by some private donations.
Honestly, it's a little difficult, mainly because of our pride, to make our needs known to everyone around us, but we also know it's very Biblical to do so. We appreciate your friendship very much and would like you to pray and consider helping us in our adoption. There are three ways you can help:

1.) Prayer - Please pray God will tenderly care for Zoe Grace in Ethiopia until we are able to bring her home, that God would prepare Olivia for the upcoming changes to our family, and that God will give us wisdom, discernment, and insight as we raise Olivia and Zoe to know Jesus Christ.

2.) Financial Support - Will you please consider making a tax-deductible donation to help us pay the remaining $10,000 in adoption expenses, to bring Zoe home?
Lifesong has graciously set up a fundraising account for us to raise funds to help pay the "ransom" to bring Zoe home. If you would like to be a part of God bringing Zoe to Himself through our family, you can send your tax-deductible gift starting today October 1st! Lifesong is a trusted organization administering the funds on Zoe's behalf, and will pay the adoption expenses out of fund received. They truly are amazing people and a God send!

Steps to do this:
Please make checks payable to: "Lifesong"
You should write "Godwin/#1549" in the memo section.
You can then mail your check to:
Lifesong for Orphans
Att: Godwin/#1549
PO Box 40
Gridley, IL 61744

3.) BUY A T-SHIRT – We have been selected as the family of the quarter by a wonderful website called Dolka Pots. It was started to help families raise money for adoptions. There are two families chosen each quarter and whatever is bought on the website, you have an option to decide which family you would like to receive the credit and then that family gets a certain percentage of the proceeds from the sales during their quarter. They are also selling and making our t-shirts and we get 50% of all proceeds from our t-shirt sales and that will go 100% directly to travel expenses. So I hope you will take a moment and at least look at our shirt and around on their website. If there is anything that you would like to buy, make sure you chose “Godwin family” when you go to check out. We would really appreciate it. – our shirts are on the page.

I don’t think we could ever say thank you enough to everyone and how supportive you have all been. Thank you for investing in the Kingdom through prayer and finances - it will be an investment with an eternal return! (Matt 6:20). We'll give you an update with a picture of Zoe as soon as we receive it and any other details as we receive them. Please pray this entire process will glorify God and fulfill His purposes!
In Christ,
J.W., KC and Olivia Claire Godwin

A note from Lifesong –
JW and KC have sensed God’s call . . . and have joyfully stepped out in faith and obedience to adopt a child from Ethiopia. As you may already know, adoption can cost around $25,000 and prevents many godly families from adopting. Lifesong believes God has raised up the Godwin family “for such a time as this…” We invite you to support them financially to make this adoption possible. Funds donated to Lifesong for Orphans will be given as an AdoptionGrant to help cover adoption expenses for this child. Your gift is tax deductible and you will receive a tax-deductible receipt. *100% of all funds raised will go directly to cover adoption costs--nothing will be taken out for Lifesong for Orphans administrative costs.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

one step closer . . . .

And it is complete…. The home study, which sometimes can take a little bit of time, is officially completed! God truly is so amazing. My day started off so bad today and it hadn’t gotten any better all morning. I just went to eat lunch and decided that I was going to come back to work and have a better afternoon. When I get back I had an email waiting to tell me that our home study paperwork for the adoption is OFFICIALLY completed and we should be receiving it in the mail tomorrow. The smallest things make the worst days turn into some of the best… Thank you to everyone who we had to pester as a reference and for letters of recommendation.

So what does this mean now? Well, tomorrow when I receive our copies of the home study, I will then mail off our dossier. I completed it a few weeks ago so that as soon as this came in we could have it ready to send off. We had to do three copies – each country is different in this aspect. One copy is for us, one copy is for our amazing family at Arise for Children, and the third is for our dossier that will be sent overseas to Ethiopia. So what is a dossier? Well it is a long list of things that you have to get together to send them. That is what they use in Ethiopia in court and to make sure that you are qualified to adopt. Here is all that we had to get. They all had to be originals and notarized.

- POWER OF ATTORNEY ( 3 originals)
- Marriage Certificate
- BANK LETTER (a letter from your bank saying you are in good standing)
- Financial Statement (a worksheet that shows how much money you make and spend)
- LETTER OF INTENT (to the Director of the Ministry of Women & Children in Ethiopia, stating why you would like to adopt an Ethiopian child)
- Letter of Life Insurance
- Letter of Health Insurance
- 2 years of tax returns
- OBLIGATION Statement for the Adoption Agency (this is where we sign saying that we will agree to do the follow up requirements: 1.) First report at the end of three months. 2.) Second report at the end of six months. 3.) Third report every year thereafter until the child(ren) is 18 years of age.)
- Color copy of passports
- Passport Size Photos
You are probably looking at it and thinking, “hmm… that isn’t that much.” Trust me. It is!
But we are DONE with the paperwork! So we now sit and wait. I can only think of Psalm 46:10 where it says - "Be still, and know that I am God.” This is going to be a trying time. We are going to be sitting and waiting on our referral – which will include the picture of our new baby, Zoe Grace. I am already praying for God to give us the strength to sit, be still and wait for his time – and also for patience and understanding for our case worker, Cindy, and everyone else at Arise, because I am sure I am going to drive them crazy asking for updates.

j.w. godwin

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Leap of Faith -

Here is an interesting topic that EVERYONE has asked us about. I really didn't want to write about this, but I have had SO many people ask me about it, and have been motivated by the story I guess that is a sign that I should share it with everyone else...

How did WS and Rebecca take the news about Zoe?

Well..... Let's start at the beginning. As you know, KC and I decided that this was something that we both felt called by God to do and we decided long before telling anyone else about it that it would be something that WE would do. The two of us. So we did. We started, we got accepted and we moved forward. Well the moment came where we had to tell our parents. I guess we didn't "have" to tell them, but if you know me at all you know that I share almost everything with my family. It has to be something VERY serious for me not to share it with them. They are the best. They are an amazing support team. They pray for you. They are a shoulder to lean on. They give advice, sometimes unsolicited, but always with the best intentions in mind. I remember telling Mama and Papa about Zoe as if it were us telling them about Olivia again. We were at their house on a Sunday afternoon. I pulled up the Lucy Lane video and showed them. My dad teared up a little bit and my mom said something along the lines of - that's truly special. I was thinking, awesome. This is going great. They are in the moment, they are totally supportive. They saw that video, they saw how many children need homes and mommy and daddy's, this is gonna be great! Ha. Not really. The emotions changed very quickly. I said, well you are going to have a grandchild like that. They both looked at me, and my dad walked towards the kitchen to finish cleaning up from lunch. While I look back and know that it was merely the shock and fact that I just blurted it out like I had just told them I was moving to Canada - it still hurt my feelings. It wasn't how I had planned. All I could think was "No. No. No. That isn't how this is supposed to play out!" They were suppose to gasp for breath, hug me and KC, start asking a million questions, call my siblings or at least encourage me to. But it didn't happen like that - and I didn't understand why.

I don't understand why my parents responded like that and still to this day can’t tell you why they didn't get as excited as KC and I were to tell them. What was wrong?

It has taken me this long to take their reactions and digest them and this is what I think happened. KC and I said, "we are gonna have another baby and she will be from Ethiopia. We are adopting!" and I think what they heard was "We have decided to take on a challenge that will be a lifelong battle from outsiders, extremely expensive and no one can talk us out of it." I get it. I do. I understand what they were thinking and probably what they heard. Zoe isn't even here and yet we are already getting some odd responses and reactions from some family, friends and others who we don't even really know - but we don't care.

Since that day, even against my sometimes smarter sisters and sister-in-law's advice, I pushed. I mean I pushed and pushed and pushed my parents. I just didn't understand what their deals were. It is a baby! It isn't like we are going to Africa to bring back a lion to sleep in the same room as Olivia. It will be a precious little bundle of joy, but with darker skin. That's all. What's the big problem with that?

I finally just asked and they explained. Both of my parents are teachers. They explained about how they have seen, first hand, how difficult it can be for children in mixed raced families. They sometimes aren't accepted by either race and are left all alone. They told me that as parents we can be there all the time during the day and protect them, but one day they have to go to school and eventually middle school - which can be the meanest. They told me that they are overly excited about the fact that we feel called by God to adopt and that he is leading us in this direction, but have we really thought this through all the way? They said that they didn't want to sway us one way or another, but that they just wanted us to think of everything before we jumped into this. We explained that we had and we understand their concerns but that we feel comfortable and confident enough in ourselves and our relationship with God to handle anything that might come our way.

KC and I just had to do it. We both felt "grown up" at that moment. We had made a decision without my parents fully embracing it at that moment and accepting it. They have since then, but at that moment it was very difficult. I have tried to explain to them how it really hurt and how we didn't understand how they couldn't just accept our decision, but if you are like me that is more difficult to explain than you think.

So we did it. We took our Leap of Faith. Was it hard? Oh yes! Were we scared? We still are. Did we wish mama and papa would have stood up and given us huge hugs and celebrated about our good news? We wish we could replay it differently all the time. But it all happened for that reason. Since then, my parents have made comments about us and our decision to adopt. They have told me how they can see how KC and I have both matured. How we have grown in our spiritual walk. How they have seen what God has in store for us and no matter what anyone said, we followed what he was calling us to do. And let me tell you people, there is nothing more difficult than doing something that your parents, at that moment, may not 100% support. God is good though. He gives us a road map to follow and allows us to make the choices as to whether we want to follow it or not. We decided to. We stood up against the ones who could have been the only ones to derail us, and we kept moving, and now they are totally on board.

So remember, it is tough. It's tough to take that leap of faith. It's tough to do what others may not at that moment agree with or understand. It's tough to go against the mold and be your own person. But IF you believe in God and know that he IS in charge, then there is nothing to fear. So maybe you do, maybe you don't have someone or something standing in your way of something that you truly feel called to do, or not to do, or maybe there is someone who you just need to tell that you are your own person - take the leap of faith. Try it. It is better on the other side, trust me.

Until later –
j.w. godwin

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Big Sis

Look what Olivia got!!

Olivia looks excited huh? :)

I love her new ‘Big Sis’ shirt – don’t you?? My friend Abbey introduced us to this awesome website and I started chatting with them about making Olivia a 'Big Sis' shirt and how I wanted to incorporate Africa somehow on it and I think they did a great job! I got the daughter of our friends Brad and Rachel who are adopting from Uganda a 'Big Sis' shirt also. Aren’t Olivia and Caroline just adorable??

Caroline and Olivia

Olivia cracks me up in this picture

Check DolkaPots out on their site or on Facebook, they have some great items and get this… a percentage of the profit goes towards families that are adopting!! How cool is that?? So…we applied…and…we were ACCEPTED!!!!! So we are one of the families of the quarter (October- December) so if you place an order during our quarter (October- December) you will be helping us out to bring home Zoe! DolkaPots is also making our adoption t-shirts so be on the lookout for our post letting you know when you can pre-order your t-shirt. More than likely they are going to do one big order so you can start ordering soon and then will get your shirt December-ish. AND the best thing is that we get all the profits for our t-shirts so spread the word to all your friends a family to help us bring Zoe Grace home!

Thank you friends and family for being so supportive!!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Hurry up and wait...

“We need you to fill this out ASAP so you can wait 2 months before getting it back.” This seems to be the normal process for an adoption. We finally got our Alabama Bureau of Investigation (ABI) clearance back on Friday, so now we are only waiting on one more approval, our FBI clearance then we will be done with all of our paperwork!! Hallelujah! It’s like this…we are done with our dossier paperwork but can’t turn it in until we are done with our home study, we can’t turn in our home study until our FBI clearance comes in….please hurry up FBI!! So that is where we stand today.

Also be on the lookout for our post about our t-shirts. We hope to have all of the details about that ironed out within the next few days. We hope each of you will get one, and encourage your friends and family to do the same to help us bring our Zoe Grace home !

I hope you all have a wonderful week!!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Meant To Be . . .

Well - I have been informed that it is time to update the blog with a new post. So, what should we talk about today? I am in a writing mood, but have nothing to write about. I am sitting here on my I-pad listening to Michael Buble's new cd attempting to write a new post when I should really be reading some Criminal Procedure or Contracts homework.... but there is time to do that later it's only 10:20 pm.

Music! I'll write about that. Some of you know this, I am sure, but I really like music. I love all types and my wife can validate that with my I-tunes bill every month. (It's my addiction.)

Ever since being called by God to pack up our nap sacks of faith, leave the doubt at home and start out on this amazing journey, KC and I have been more in tune with things around us. Now, stay with me and where I am trying to go here. Think about this. You hear a song in your car every morning and every afternoon on your way to and from work and you, 9 times out of 10, find yourself  singing along to it without even really knowing what you are saying half of the time. I'm definitely guilty of this. I get in the drivers seat, passenger seat, back seat, it doesn't matter - I get in the car and let it go. I bust out with anything and everything from my most favorite songs by Reba, Queen, Aerosmith, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and many more. KC reminds me that I am allowed to sing, but maybe I should try to calm it down a little. I kindly remind her that "God said to make a joyful noise." Then in return she asks me if he meant that about all songs and moments and if he really wants me to strain and jump up and down five octaves just to sing "Everything I Want" by Matthew Puckett, or to replace Randy Travis in the duet with Carrie Underwood in "I Told You So". It is fun though.

Here recently, thanks to all of the blog stalking that KC does now, we learn so much and get introduced to so many new thing. Yes the productivity at our house has gotten even less now that we not only have tv shows to watch and Facebook to be stuck on for about an hour every night, which I have no idea why, we have even more procrastinating habits. But mentioning Facebook, people, what is up with this? I mean what did we do before we could check everyones statues updates or pictures every day - or several times a day? And you know who I am talking to, I am on there that often and see how often you comment/update/upload stuff. Well, we now have about 25 to 30 blogs about adoptions, mostly Ethiopian ones, to read - almost everyday. And we know that other families do it too, which is why we want to make it a routine thing to update ours. Well, last night KC was looking at the Portis' blog and found something new. Joy, who KC has met and had a lunch date with, had a new post on her blog. It was a song by Steven Curtis Chapman. Now - for those of you who see that name and think, "Wow, I haven't heard that name since 1998 and church youth group stuff." Yes, it is the same guy and yes, he still sings those cheesy, sappy songs - but you have to give it to him, he does a great job at it. Well, he has done it again. He has written a song for the new Veggie Tales movie or show or whatever it is, I'm not sure. All I know  is that it is called "Meant To Be" and it is amazing.

Here is where all the rambling in this post will hopefully come together. I pulled up this song on YouTube, because it isn't for sale on I-tunes until Oct. 5th, I checked. I listened to it and instantly could relate to what he is saying. The lyrics are so simple and plan, but have such a strong meaning. It starts with "Long before you drew your first breath a dream was coming true. God wanted to give a gift to the world, so he wrapped it up in you. And every step that you've taking, every move that you make is part of his plan. You were meant to be touching the lives that you touch, and meant to be here making this so much more than it would be... You are perfectly, wonderfully, beautifully meant to be."  

So you can see. Before this process started I would listen to a song, probably even this one, sing along and sometimes not even realize what I was saying. But this song really tugged at me. It says everything that we think. It tells how we feel about Zoe. Even though we don't know her yet, we don't know what she looks like, what her temperament is going to be like or anything - but what we do know is that she matters and is meant to be part of our family. She is coming into our family and will, in one way or another, touch all of us - she's already doing it to you, because you are reading this blog.

I am going to attach the video here, but try to focus more on what the words are than the Veggie Tales running around on the screen.   

-j.w. godwin

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Here's our #1

Hello everyone!

So there isn’t much of an update, as of now JW and I are just trying to finish up with the last bit of paperwork and then we will be DONE with our home study!! Woo hoo! In the mean time I wanted to share some sweet photos of Olivia at 8 months that we just had done. =)

I hope all of your have a wonderful week!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

What do you really know about Ethiopia?

Well, we have read a lot about Ethiopia. One of the things that we had to do for our home study was read some stuff about the country, etc. So I have copied and pasted some interesting facts. I hope you enjoy them.
Area: 472,000 sq. mi.; about the size of Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico combined.
Capital--Addis Ababa (pop. 5 million).
Nationality: Ethiopian(s).
Population (est.): 80 million.
Annual growth rate (est.): 3.2%.
Religions (est.): Ethiopian Orthodox Christian 40%, Sunni Muslim 45-50%, Protestant 5%, remainder indigenous beliefs.
Languages: Amharic (official), Tigrinya, Arabic, Guaragigna, Oromifa, English, Somali.
Education: Years compulsory--none. Attendance (elementary)--57%. Literacy--43%.
Work force: Agriculture--80%. Industry and commerce--20%.
Suffrage: Universal starting at age 18.

Ethiopia is located in the Horn of Africa and is bordered on the north and northeast by Eritrea, on the east by Djibouti and Somalia, on the south by Kenya, and on the west and southwest by Sudan. The climate is temperate on the plateau and hot in the lowlands. At Addis Ababa, which ranges from 2,200 to 2,600 meters (7,000 ft.-8,500 ft.), maximum temperature is 26o C (80o F) and minimum 4o C (40o F). The weather is usually sunny and dry with the short (belg) rains occurring February-April and the big (meher) rains beginning in mid-June and ending in mid-September.

Ethiopia's population is highly diverse. Most of its people speak a Semitic or Cushitic language. The Oromo, Amhara, and Tigreans make up more than three-fourths of the population, but there are more than 77 different ethnic groups with their own distinct languages within Ethiopia. Some of these have as few as 10,000 members. In general, most of the Christians live in the highlands, while Muslims and adherents of traditional African religions tend to inhabit lowland regions. English is the most widely spoken foreign language and is taught in all secondary schools. Amharic is the official language and was the language of primary school instruction but has been replaced in many areas by local languages such as Oromifa and Tigrinya.

I also did some other Googling and looking around on the internet and found some specific facts about orphans in Ethiopia. I found this statistical break down that I thought was pretty moving and told the stats very well.

Every 15 SECONDS, another child becomes an AIDS orphan in Africa.

Every DAY 5,760 more children become orphans.

Every YEAR 2,102,400 more children become orphans (in Africa alone).

There are 143,000,000* orphans in the world today. The population of
orphans theoretically makes up the 7th largest nation in the world.

Orphans in the world today spend an average of 10 years
in an orphanage or foster home.

Every YEAR 14,050,000 children grow up as orphans and AGE OUT of the system.

Every DAY 38,493 children AGE OUT.

Every 2.2 SECONDS, another orphan child AGES OUT with no
family to belong to and no place to call home.

Many of these children accept job offers that ultimately result in their being sold as slaves. Millions of girls are sex slaves today, simply because they were unfortunate enough to grow up as orphans.

*Reliable statistics are difficult to find, even the sources often list only estimates, and street children are rarely included. But even if these figures are exaggerated by double, it is still an unacceptable tragedy that over a Million children would still become orphans every year, and every year 7 Million children would still grow to adulthood as orphans with no one to belong to and no place to call home. They are totally vulnerable and easily fall prey to predators and slave recruiters.

(Data provided by UNICEF)

Don't let these numbers and statistics just be "numbers." These are CHILDREN. Real, live, human beings. Just like you. Just like me. Just like your children. Just like my child.

For a moment I imagined Olivia, without a mommy or daddy. I imagined her growing up with no one to hold her, like we are doing a lot of these days, while she is cutting teeth. Telling her that we love her and making sure she is cared for. No one to see her blow out the candles every year on her birthday cake – and I am going to assume that most of these kids don’t get a cake much less even know when their birthday is. No one to journey through with her and walk alongside her through the challenges of life.

It just isn't right. When you think of it that way, it really makes you realize how blessed each and every one of us are.

-j.w. godwin

Shots, shots and more shots

After the shock and excitement of the fact that KC and I are going to go to Africa, twice, during this adventure – the reality set in, we are going to have to get a lot of shots! Well, for those of you who know me, know that I hate needles. I hate needles SOOO much. I almost pass out every time I even see them. I asked our agency about what vaccinations we will need and while they don’t tell us that we are required to get any of them, they told us that we might want to check out the CDC website. Well – I finally got brave this week and did a Google search to see what shots we will have to get. Lord help me when I get it done and be with KC since she will have to hold my hand…
This is what came right off of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Website:
• Routine - Recommended if you are not up-to-date with routine shots such as, measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus (DPT) vaccine, poliovirus vaccine, etc.
• Yellow Fever - CDC yellow fever vaccination recommendation for travelers to Ethiopia: For all travelers ≥9 months of age Ethiopia requires travelers arriving from countries where yellow fever is present to present proof of yellow fever vaccination. Vaccination should be given 10 days before travel and at 10-year intervals if there is ongoing risk. Find an authorized U.S. yellow fever vaccination clinic.
• Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG) - Recommended for all unvaccinated people traveling to or working in countries with an intermediate or high level of hepatitis A virus infection (see map) where exposure might occur through food or water. Cases of travel-related hepatitis A can also occur in travelers to developing countries with "standard" tourist itineraries, accommodations, and food consumption behaviors.
• Hepatitis B - Recommended for all unvaccinated persons traveling to or working in countries with intermediate to high levels of endemic HBV transmission (see map), especially those who might be exposed to blood or body fluids, have sexual contact with the local population, or be exposed through medical treatment (e.g., for an accident).
• Typhoid - Recommended for all unvaccinated people traveling to or working in East Africa, especially if staying with friends or relatives or visiting smaller cities, villages, or rural areas where exposure might occur through food or water.
• Meningococcal (meningitis) - Recommended if you plan to visit countries that experience epidemics of meningococcal disease during December through June.
• Rabies - Recommended for travelers spending a lot of time outdoors, especially in rural areas, involved in activities such as bicycling, camping, or hiking. Also recommended for travelers with significant occupational risks (such as veterinarians), for long-term travelers and expatriates living in areas with a significant risk of exposure, and for travelers involved in any activities that might bring them into direct contact with bats, carnivores, and other mammals. Children are considered at higher risk because they tend to play with animals, may receive more severe bites, or may not report bites.
• Polio - Recommended for adult travelers who have received a primary series with either inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) or oral polio vaccine (OPV). They should receive another dose of IPV before departure. For adults, available data do not indicate the need for more than a single lifetime booster dose with IPV.
• Malaria - Areas of Ethiopia with Malaria: All areas at altitudes <2,500 m (<8,202 ft), except none in Addis Ababa. (THANK YOU – I don’t want to have to take any more than I am forced to.)

KC and I have already had to go see our doctor and pediatrician way more than they would probably like, except for the great co-pay that they get every time we show up with another medical form we need them to sign off on. In the picture above, that is KC getting her blood drawn so that they can do all of the blood tests that they have to do on us, which was done weeks ago. Then her also pointing to where they stuck her for her TB test. She couldn’t get a picture of me; I needed her to keep me occupied while they stuck that huge needle in my arm.

-j.w. godwin

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Why #2?

Here is another topic that many people have asked about since we announced that we are adopting. Let me take this moment to say, we are not by any way offended by these kinds of questions. Other than Olivia, this has become our favorite subject to talk about, and if you have been around KC or me anytime in the last four months, you would know that the adoption has come up as the topic of our conversation at some point.

Some of the questions we have been asked are:

“Why are you adopting your second child?”

“Do you plan on having any more natural children?”

“Why, when you are so young and have so much more time to do this, are you adopting now?”

All of these, and many more, are great questions to ask and KC and I are more than willing to share answers with each of you about it. So let’s start at the beginning and see where I go with this.

“Why are you adopting your second child?”

We feel first and for most that one of the most important reasons for us to adopt now is because we don’t ever want Olivia to not remember what it was like having a black sister. Yep. I said it. Olivia will have a black baby sister. When she is older or gets to that stage in middle school when people will probably start asking questions, and can sometimes be mean, we want her to be able to say, “What do you mean? I don’t know why YOU aren’t normal and don’t have a black sister too.” I know this may seem weird for some of you to understand – but as you know by now, I have 3 sisters and 5 brothers. I have been asked my entire life what it is like coming from such a large family and if I ever wished there were fewer children in my family, etc. All I can say to that is, “Why don’t you have more siblings?” I couldn’t imagine my life any differently and I had the best childhood of anyone that I know, and we want Olivia, Zoe and whatever other children God blesses us with to feel the same way. It’s just the way God made our family. He made some families the same and others he added a little color.

The next most commonly asked question has to be “Do you plan on having any more natural children?”

I am sure you are looking at the one word that send chills up my spin and puts fire in my eyes every time someone says it, but I have to quickly compose myself and realize what someone is merely asking. Several, and I mean SEVERAL, people have asked that. Will we have any more natural children? The first response, which both my wife and mother have gotten on to me about because it isn’t the Christian way to respond, is, “Yes you idiot – but first tell me what isn’t natural about Zoe and then we will continue this conversation.” Well, for those of you who haven’t caught onto the improper way of asking that question, the correct way to ask is if we plan on having any more biological children. Because I can tell you right now, there will not be one thing that is not natural about Zoe. She will be like every other little bouncing bundle of joy who God has blessed us with. Like I said at the beginning of this post, we don’t mind if anyone asks any of these questions and we won’t get offended by any questions at all. We want to share this amazing journey and experience with everyone and we hope that we can all grow through it. But those of you who read this, now know that the correct way to ask any parent of an adopted child about future children is to refer to them as biological children, not natural. It may seem very small to you, but imagine if someone said that your child wasn’t natural. It makes you want to ask “Why aren’t they natural?” I think I have beaten that dead horse enough though. Moving on…

“Why, when you are so young and have so much more time to do this, are you adopting now?”

This is a simple answer. It is already talked about really with the first question, but the short and long of it is – we have no idea. That’s our big answer. We can’t explain to you why we are doing this right now. We can’t explain why we are adopting from Ethiopia. We can’t explain why we are asking for a little girl. All we can say is that God has seriously put this on both of our hearts and we are letting him work through us. We prayed about it and finally said, “God, IF you want this to happen, you’ll let it all work out. We are here as your servants and we are just as good as any for you to use.” So here we are.

So why are we adopting our second child? We have NO idea. Ha! I know – crazy right? We just know that we are doing the right thing. One of my wonderful cousins sent me a face book message after we sent her the link to the blog to share our news with her. The message was so needed and it was so encouraging, but one of the most touching parts was a statement she said. It said: “I am so excited for you guys. God has really brought you on an incredible trip. Our relationship with God is meant to be an adventure, exciting, and totally uncomfortable. I think you guys have successfully accomplished all three.” Well, she couldn’t have said it any better. This amazing journey has been that and much more. Adventurous, exciting and it has made us very uncomfortable at times – but we know that if we just let go and trust in God everything always works out the way he wants it to.

Thanks for reading… We are trying to get the word out about our blog. We have recently been contacted by a few other families that said that the “blunt” responses and explanations that KC and I have on here have really helped them answer some questions to people about their adoption and it has also helped others think about things before they started their own journey towards bringing home their baby. So we hope that you will share our blog with others that you think might enjoy it…


Now open to the public…

So…its official, our blog is now open for the public to see! JW and I have made the leap and can’t wait for everyone to hear about our exciting news! We are excited that everyone will now be able to follow our journey. We would love for you each to “follow” our blog and to share it with your friends.

Thank you all for continuing to pray and encourage us on our new adventure!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

What a sweet gift !

Look what I got !!!  My sweet friend Ashley gave me this t-shirt today with an African design on it which has a heart over Ethiopia!  She is always so thoughtful! 

It is from the same site that Lucy Lane's Mom got her shirt that she wore when she went to get Lucy Lane from Ethiopia. You can get your own here.

Speaking of shirts - JW and I are actually in the process of making our own to sale in order to help raise money to pay for our plane tickets for both of our trips that we have to make.  I hope each of you will help support us by buying and wearing one when we get them. :)

Hopefully JW and I will start posting more often on here - we still need to update you on our last homestudy!  But in our defense, JW just finished his last law school final of this semester today and Olivia is teething.  We can actaully feel the tooth on the bottom coming through.  So needless to say, it has been very stressful at our house these past few weeks.

Hope you have a great weekend!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Time to let go...

A friend just recently said to me that she doesn’t want me to confuse “people thinking you are crazy for doing this” with “people not understanding”. This really hit me…I have had huge reservations about telling people – I guess because I’m honestly scared. Like I said before, it’s kind of like the first trimester of a pregnancy. I am scared to tell people because what if something were to happen and we don’t get our precious Zoe? I would be heartbroken and I would rather deal with it just between me and JW than having to explain to everyone why we were no longer getting Zoe anymore. This made me realize that I need to share our news with everyone – that this is a wonderful process and experience and that I need my friends and family’s support and prayers more than anything! That is the reason they are in my life – to support and pray for us. They wouldn’t be in our lives if they didn’t care about us and want to be there for us. So please if you are just discovering our blog don’t be offended – it is because of my own insecurities that we haven’t told everyone yet. I am just getting over this though and I am ready to share our process of bringing our Zoe home with everyone! The more support and prayers we have the smoother the process will be! So if you have any questions – feel free to ask us.

One Chapter Closed...

I’m sure a first thought on your mind is “why are you adopting when you guys have so much going on”. To be honest, we have asked the same question to ourselves... Well as some of you may know JW and I are HUGE multi-taskers. We always seem to have at least five different projects going on at the same time. I think we would be bored out of our minds if we didn’t have a ton of things on our plate. So it only seems natural that we are in the process of adopting our little Zoe right now.

A few weeks ago (July 31st) I graduated with my Master’s in Public Administration – Finally!!!!!
It seems like such a long journey but I finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel and finished. While working on my master’s – JW and I got married, went on a honeymoon, I worked full time for two years, also in the process I got pregnant, I had Olivia and now spend every day blessed that I get to stay home raising our beautiful baby girl. Now ladies and gentlemen…if I can do it, you can do it. ☺ And when I say that I did all of this and had Olivia…literally exam night I was admitted into the hospital for high blood pressure and five days later there was Olivia! Also, Olivia decided to come the week of exams for JW...So luckily JW's study group was flexible and came to the hospital!

I almost feel lost now, only working 12 hours a week at the Y doing the child watch and raising Olivia. Don’t worry and feel bad for me though, Olivia is now crawling, pulling up and starting to eat solids so a whole new adventure has begun. ☺

JW is currently in law school at Birmingham School of Law – he is in class every Saturday. Yes, sometimes I selfishly want those Saturdays for me but we are both making this sacrifice to better our family. JW has always wanted to be a lawyer and when this opportunity came about we both jumped on bored. We both feel that it is best for JW to be in school now rather than later when Olivia and Zoe have Saturday soccer games or dance recitals. Olivia and Zoe will never know the difference and JW will be able to live out his lifelong dream of becoming a lawyer.

Now, after sharing all of those wonderful memories and experiences, I don't really remember where I was going with this entry. I guess what I'm trying to get across is that if you really want, desire or felt led to do something don't let anything get in your way. If you stay determined, focused and allow God to, he will take care of everything else. You may come across some speed bumps but its all part of His plan. I thought by becoming pregnant I would never finish school but God had a plan and he guided and led me to the finish. Trust in Him, not just a thought of him and giving the things that you need help with to him, but if you completely trust in him he will do great things for you. He has for us.