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.
Geography
Area: 472,000 sq. mi.; about the size of Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico combined.
Capital--Addis Ababa (pop. 5 million).
People
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.

GEOGRAPHY
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.

PEOPLE
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.)
http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/ethiopia.aspx

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…

-jw

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.

Monday, August 9, 2010

ONE for ONE


This entry really isn't about what is going on in the adoption but instead it is a push for everyone to go out and buy a pair of TOMS.

TOMS are shoes. You can buy them at almost any place that you can purchase shoes, or at least it's like that here in Montgomery.

Blake Mycoskie started TOMS shoes as an effort to help people in Africa. Their promise is "For every pair you purchase, TOMS will give a pair of shoes to a child in need. One for One." I was at a christian leadership summit this past week and Blake Mycoskie was one of the individuals interviewed. His message and story really is amazing. Everyone should go out and buy a pair. Just think - for $30 of $40 you could put a pair of shoes on an actual person, and usually child, in a country in Africa.
Trey, Abbey (and baby), KC & JW

I am also very set on this because they give a lot of shoes in Ethiopia! So of course this is something that is close to mine and KC's hearts.

(Note to all of my family members, don't even think about showing up for Thanksgiving this year unless you're wearing a pair of TOMS. Just kidding... or am I?)

Check it out:

http://www.toms.com/

http://www.toms.com/blog/


-j.w. godwin

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

"Joining the Movement"

At church this past Sunday morning our new minister/youth guy Trey preached his first sermon. Going into church I leaned over and told KC, I'm sure that Trey will be good but I'm ready for Lester to come back and start preaching on a regular basis. He has been on vacation.

I will have to admit that half way through the sermon I was trying to focus but it was difficult - I felt like I had been hit by a mac truck and did not feel well at all. I have been battling a chest cold for the past four days and it took all I had to drag myself out of bed that morning.

Trey talked about who he was, where he was from and how he met and married his wonderful wife Abbey.Then towards the end of his sermon he showed us a video. (Which is attached here - Dancing Guy ) Well if you watched the video you see how that woke me up and got my attention again. He then talked to us and shared how our calling in life should be to be part of “the movement”.

The movement for Christ.

It is telling us that we need to go out on a limb and be that “first guy” who is out there dancing alone anddoesn't care if anyone else is around him. (And most of you who know me well enough, know that when it comes to dancing I have NO problems being that first guy out there acting a fool.) But when it comes to more serious things than dancing and having fun we should be that guy or girl who is the first. We should be the first one to walk down front at church and kneel to pray to God in front of the entire congregation. You know what I'm talking about. Remember those time, especially when you were a youth. Don't you remember when that moment would come at the end of the service and the preacher or speaker would encourage those of you who wanted to, to walk down and pray before God, confessing all of your sins and asking for forgiveness. Well, remember (or maybe it was just me) how you would want to go sometimes, but you didn't want to be the "first person" to go down there. What would people say? Would anyone else follow me down there? Or would they have to drag out the last song two extra verses because I decided to go do this? But then after a few of your friends went and did it, you felt comfortable enough to do it as well. Enough of your comfort zone, support group and mostly peers did it, so you figured you would as well.

Well, let me tell you. When it comes to this adoption - it definitely was a movement in our lives. KC and I knew NO ONE who was in the process of what we were about to undertake and knew nothing about what we were going to have to face. Luckily we have met SO many amazing people who are doing this as well since then and they have become some of our closest friends. 

While I would never take back a single thing, and am so blessed that we have gone forward and pursuedthis, it really took us out of our comfort zone. KC & I stopped and thought - we are about to start something that no one within our family or friends knows about. We don't know how everyone will feel about it. We don't know what challenges we will have to face. What friendships we might lose over this. What struggles in life might come towards Zoe and even Olivia because of what we are about to do. But then we focused on what God was calling us to do. God wasn't calling us to just "adopt a baby". Yes, that was the overall goal, but God was calling us, we believe, to an even bigger thing, he was calling us to start a movement and follow him. Start a movement in our lives, and from that we will touch so many people. We can show so many of our friends and family members what it is like to not only adopt a baby, but one that is internationally from a different race.

So let me focus back on the main purpose of this entry and not take you down too many rabbit trails which Ihave a tendency to do. Our focus in life should be to "join the movement". But as KC pointed out to me in church, we are doing that - we are being the followers that God calls on us to be. I stopped and thought about it and I couldn't help but smile. It truly is that amazing and when I stop and think about it, I get chills all over. We ARE doing what God says in James 1:27, "...look after orphans and widows in their distress..." Well, that is exactly what we are doing. We are following. Doing what we feel led to do and doing it with a heart full of every emotion a human can possibly feel: Fear - Excitement - Joy - Doubt - Love - Anxiety - and so many more (but I couldn’t think of any more off the top of my head.)

So this week focus on what YOU can do to do the work of God. What "movement" can you make in yourlife that helps direct others towards Christ through what you are doing. My papa always tells us that you can truly tell what type of a person someone is by the way they carry themselves and the actions they takes. Without speaking a single word to them - you can see who they truly are.

After this message and remembering that, I looked in the mirror - who was I staring back at? What did heshow to the world and what did others see in return?  I believe that is something we should all check out every once and a while.

I am also attaching here to transcript of the video, just in case you can't watch it -

"If you've learned a lot about leadership and making a movement, then let's watch a movement happen, start to finish, in under 3 minutes, and dissect some lessons:

A leader needs the guts to stand alone and look ridiculous. But what he's doing is so simple, it's almostinstructional. This is key. You must be easy to follow!

Now comes the first follower with a crucial role: he publicly shows everyone how to follow. Notice the leader embraces him as an equal, so it's not about the leader anymore - it's about them, plural. Notice he's calling to his friends to join in. It takes guts to be a first follower! You stand out and brave ridicule, yourself. Being a first follower is an under-appreciated form of leadership. The first follower transforms a lone nut into a leader. If the leader is the flint, the first follower is the spark that makes the fire.

The 2nd follower is a turning point: it's proof the first has done well. Now it's not a lone nut, and it's not two nuts. Three is a crowd and a crowd is news.

A movement must be public. Make sure outsiders see more than just the leader. Everyone needs to see the followers, because new followers emulate followers - not the leader.

Now here come 2 more, then 3 more. Now we've got momentum. This is the tipping point! Now we've got a movement!

As more people jump in, it's no longer risky. If they were on the fence before, there's no reason not to joinnow. They won't be ridiculed, they won't stand out, and they will be part of the in-crowd, if they hurry. Over the next minute you'll see the rest who prefer to be part of the crowd, because eventually they'd be ridiculed for not joining.

And ladies and gentlemen that is how a movement is made! Let's recap what we learned:

-If you are a version of the shirtless dancing guy, all alone, remember the importance of nurturing your first few followers as equals, making everything clearly about the movement, not you.
-Be public. Be easy to follow!
-But the biggest lesson here - did you catch it?
-Leadership is over-glorified.
-Yes it started with the shirtless guy, and he'll get all the credit, but you saw what really happened:
-It was the first follower that transformed a lone nut into a leader.
-There is no movement without the first follower.
-We're told we all need to be leaders, but that would be really ineffective.
-The best way to make a movement, if you really care, is to courageously follow and show others how to follow.
-When you find a lone nut doing something great, have the guts to be the first person to stand up and join in."

Until my next post - later.

-j.w. godwin