Why International Adoption???

Recently a friend asked me what it was that prompted our family to choose International Adoption over Local or Domestic Adoption. Okay, actually….if I’m being anywhere near truthful, it wasn’t all that recently that our friend asked us this. It was back in uhhhhhhh, (clears throat) July. (Sorry, Melissa, for taking so ridiculously long to write the post I promised!)

Regardless of how long it has taken me to answer Melissa, I have to say GOOD QUESTION! And one I am happy to answer.

But first, I have to say that I love getting questions from people who are genuinely interested in why we are adopting, where we are in the process, how it is all going, etc. Thanks to everyone who checks in with us and for all the encouragement we have received already. We feel so very blessed by our family and friends and all the support we are surrounded with. If you ever have a question about adoption, whether in general or more specifically about our journey, I absolutely encourage you to ask it! I also encourage you to be patient like Melissa because with the pace of life around here lately, I may or may not be timely with my response!

So: the question about how we chose international adoption. It is a fact that there are orphans both here in the United States as well as all around the world. Children here and children abroad are in need of parents who love them. In need of family. Far be it from any of us to stand up and state that children here in the United States are more deserving of a family than the children who live across the world. Or vice versa.

Truthfully, deciding which type of adoption our family was going to pursue was both easy and hard. How did we do it? Why did we decide to go international?? Well, the short answer for our family is that so many doors opened in that direction and we honestly felt very led to pursue International adoption. We pondered, prayed, asked lots of questions, and researched a ton, and the people and events that were placed in our path all pointed toward going International. Most specifically, our school and church friends, Michael and Jana Funderburk, who were part of our church home group, adopted their own precious Ruthie from Ethiopia, and not too long after, moved their family to Ethiopia to work in country with Gladney Adoption Services. And so we have started on the journey that God appears to be leading us on.

That is not to say we didn’t wrestle with the fact that there are orphans right here in the United States who are in need of families. There are currently about 130,000 children in the American Foster Care System who have been cleared for adoption. These children need moms and dads every bit as much as the orphans who wait around the world for a family to call their own.  We are thrilled that some of our very best friends in the world, Mark and Susan Peck, are even now in process to adopt a child or sibling set from their state’s foster care system. For over a year and a half now we have waited excitedly as they work with the folks in Missouri to prepare to adopt children out of foster care and into their family.

If you ask Mark and Susan what led them to adopt from CPS, they will tell you that it felt very natural to them because people who were put into their lives have themselves adopted from CPS and they have lived among these families and seen their adopted children thrive. These children go to church and school with them, they live in their neighborhood. They are friends with Mark and Susan’s four kiddos, and simply put: they are in a community where they have seen local adoption done well, and where they have a ton of support in place as they prepare to add two more children to their already large family.

I ramble on about the Pecks because their adoption journey is very similar to ours in that we have responded to what we have seen around us here, and when we see adoption, at least in our circle (admittedly a small sample size, but it is where we have been put!) it is almost always international. When you are stepping out into new territory, there is comfort in knowing you have families around you who have navigated that territory as well, and that you have some built-in support going into it all. (I know families who have been the first in their circle to adopt, and my hat is off to them for being the pioneers in their world as they see it.)

One of our younger boys’ best buddies from church is a beautiful little guy from Guatemala. Our families are in Home Group together. One of my daughter’s sweet friends from school is a hilarious little girl from China. Our beloved Kindergarten teacher and friend, Jami and her husband brought back gorgeous twin girls from Ethiopia. The list goes on…but after Michael and Jana moved to Ethiopia to work with Gladney, we learned a lot more about the plight of children in this particular country and the gigantic need for adoption.  Our hearts were moved to welcome home one of these many little ones in need of a family. Here are just a few stats that tell some of the story in Ethiopia:

– Ethiopia has approximately 5 million orphans and the country is twice the size of Texas.

– One in ten children die before their first birthday.

– One in six children die before their fifth birthday.

– 44% of the population of Ethiopia is under 15 years old.

– Half the children in Ethiopia will never attend school.

– 88% will never attend secondary school.

– Ethiopia’s doctor to children ratio is 1 to 24,000.

– Per capita, Ethiopia receives less aid than any country in Africa.

Did you read my first stat? 5 MILLION CHILDREN. When people ask us about where we are adopting from, and I tell them Ethiopia, and they then ask “Why Ethiopia?”, I often drop that number into the conversation because honestly it is just so staggering. It is so desperately sad that there are any orphans on this earth, but once we felt drawn to this particular country, the immense need that we saw there compelled us. Statistics tell the sad truth: that of the 5 million children in need of homes in Ethiopia, less than 1% will find their way into a family. The rest will never experience the miracle of adoption.

The future prospects for children in Ethiopia who age out of the system, much like orphans in Russia and elsewhere, are very, very grim.

One of my children asked me what good it would do to adopt just one little girl when 5 million children in one country alone need homes. Good question. In reality, the answer for most of Ethiopia’s orphans is probably not ultimately adoption. Or perhaps better said, not just adoption, but adoption as part of an overall plan. Organizations who give aid, and help families in country to be able to support the children are definitely needed. Gladney, our agency, in addition to facilitating adoptions, provides much-needed aid and support in country to children and adults of all ages, including many children who will never be adopted. In addition, I have seen a trend that families who adopt from Ethiopia have a heart for the people of their child’s birth country, and they often look for ways to give back. We are seeing wells built, schools and homes established, and other wonderful forms of support put into place. I hope and pray that such efforts and compassion poured out will indeed begin to make a huge difference in the plight of orphans in Ethiopia.

But back to adoption: there is no replacement for a family. Growing up in an institution, while admittedly much better than living on the street, or in slavery, does not in any way begin to equal the love and support of a family to call your own. As long as there are children who need families, there will be a need for adoption. So….as to the question of what good does it do to adopt “just one” out of millions?  I leave you with what is an old, old story, but one which beautifully illustrates the “why”…

A young girl was walking along a beach upon which thousands of starfish had been washed up during a terrible storm. When she came to each starfish, she would pick it up, and throw it back into the ocean. People watched her with amusement.

She had been doing this for some time when a man approached her and said, “Little girl, why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!”

The girl seemed crushed, suddenly deflated. But after a few moments, she bent down, picked up another starfish, and hurled it as far as she could into the ocean. Then she looked up at the man and politely replied,

“Well, I made a difference to that one!”

– adapted from the Star Thrower by Loren C. Eiseley


4 Months on the Wait List

Tomorrow marks four official months on the wait list in Ethiopia with Gladney. Four months closer to our referral for a little girl we haven’t yet met or even seen a picture of, but whom we are already in love with.

(Thanks to my adorable in-house models for their help in illustrating “FOUR”!)

Well, after saying in February that the months on the waitlist have been the quietest so far in our adoption journey, I am ready to eat my words!! It’s not that we have had a long list of “to-do’s” to accomplish like earlier in the process. But wow, this last month of waiting has seen some very interesting activity: some very wonderful, some not so wonderful. Here are some highlights:

* We have located 2 amazing doctors locally who have a wealth of experience and knowledge specific to children adopted from Ethiopia. The stories behind finding these doctors are encouraging and I look forward to sharing more with you in a future post. We are so thankful to know we have these women on our team as we bring our daughter home.

* A couple of weeks ago Jay and I were humbled to learn we have been awarded a Matching Funds Grant from a partnership between Lifesong and Irving Bible Church. We are blown away and grateful for this HUGE provision for our adoption and again, please stay tuned for more information in a future post.

* As you may already be aware from reading the news reports, there have been some significant changes these last couple of weeks in the country of Ethiopia which affect how court cases are processed for adoptions. We do not have full information yet as to what the ramifications may or may not be in the long term for the children who are waiting, and for prospective adoptive parents. For now we are praying and hoping that things may be resolved soon and that so many children who are in desperate need of families will be able to come home sooner rather than later.

When we started the adoption process almost a year ago, four months was often well inside your “window” of time for when you’d receive a referral if you were requesting a child of toddler age (as opposed to an infant). The last year has seen some increases in wait times and so we know we’ll most likely be waiting quite a few more months. As we wait, we pray for not only our tiny girl but for all the precious children who wait and hope for a family. We are so thankful to be on this journey.

Wonderful Adoption Video

My dear friend Susan (little sis to our “Uncle Greg”) sent me a video this week. Susan and I have been friends since we were in college together at Baylor, and I am so blessed to have her in my life. Sweet Greg took this photo of us:

Susan and her family are also on an adoption journey, but she thought of us when she saw this video since it was created by a family who brought home a little 11-month old girl, Violet, from Ethiopia last year. The Amaro family blogs here, (and I am so enjoying reading their blog b/c their daughter, Violet turns two years old soon, and as you know, we will likely receive a referral for a two year old girlie ourselves!). This video was the winning entry in a contest sponsored by Adoptive Family Circle. It documents their first week together as a family of four and is just beautiful. Absolutely warms my heart to watch it, and I think it will make you smile too. Thanks, Susan!!

Great Video

An old college friend sent me the link to this video…I cannot watch it without tears filling my eyes. I love Stephen Curtis Chapman’s passion and heart for the orphans of this world, both here in the US and around the globe.

Before we made the decision to adopt earlier this year, videos like this haunted me. Knowledge of the incredibly huge amounts of children who live every day with no mom or dad or family just broke my heart. It still breaks my heart, and now when I am reminded of so many children whose greatest wish for Christmas is a family, I am spurred to pray that God will provide more and more of them with homes. And that he will be their strength and their comfort while they wait.

Note: I am slowly, slowly learning the ins and outs of adding video to a blog post. My much more techno-savvy husband isn’t here right now to patiently show me how to make the video box below a wee bit smaller. But, at least I managed to add it all by myself, wahoo! Baby steps, people…

AdoptionTee buttons!

Would you please consider adding an AdoptionTee button to your website? It is a handsome addition to most any site, with pleasantly rounded corners, soothing green borders, and legible text. Those corners use a transparency, so they should work on any background.

Pretty please? Here’s how you do it.

There are two options. If you don’t understand the difference between the two options, you probably want to go with option 2. They both basically have you point the image to http://www.adoptiontee.com.

Option 1: Copy the image to your own server (we’d prefer you use this one if you know how to do it)

  • Right click on the button image above and save it to your computer
  • Upload the image to your site
  • Add the image and link to your site using the following code (you’ll need to update the URL text for the image source
  • <a href="http://www.adoptiontee.com"><img title="AdoptionTee - Adoption T-shirts and more!" src="http://www.YOUR_URL_HERE.com" alt="www.adoptiontee.com" width="150" height="150" /></a>

Option 2: Use the image hosted on hornes.org

  • Add the image and link to your site using the following code. It points to the image on hornes.org, so you don’t need to change the code or copy the image.
  • <a href="http://www.adoptiontee.com"><img title="AdoptionTee - Adoption T-shirts and more!" src="http://www.hornes.org/adoptiontee/adoptiontee_button.png" alt="www.adoptiontee.com" width="150" height="150" /></a>

Thanks for your support! And please help spread the news by point others to this post.

We’re Adding to Our Nest!

Yes, ok, well if you’ve been reading this ole blog for any amount of time, you already know that.  What you may not know is that we now have a really cute tee shirt to tell everyone about it!

(And yes, what follows is a shameless advertisement for yet another cool tee which you yourself can get your hot little hands on. Exclusively at):

Jay and I have tried with each of our designs to create something we love enough to wear ourselves. So, a lot of thought and agonizing has gone into each of our logos that you see at AdoptionTee.

Well, a little while back we started working on a design that we were really excited about, but for a completely different purpose. Someone got a peek at it, and their comment was “Wow, that would make a REALLY cute tee shirt!” So…. my hubs, aka the Head Designer, quickly got to work translating the design into something that could be adapted for the Adoption Tee store.

And so it is with much enthusiasm that I give you “We’re Adding to our Nest”:

Wait, is the detail too hard to make out? Well, honestly: what can you expect from a tee shirt that stands only 3 inches tall??  In my opinion this would more appropriately be called a wee shirt, heheheheheh.

Ok, seriously, here’s a close-up (on pink this time)!

Isn’t it just perfect for someone who is adding a child to their family, whether by adoption or the biological route? Since families come in all different sizes we thought it would be fun to offer the tee in different versions…and it comes in kids’ sizes too, so you can pop one on your toddler and/or older kiddo(s) to surprise Grandma and Grandpa with the great news!

So, if you are expecting your first little bundle of joy? Try this on for size:

Or if you are maybe adding a second to your little brood:

Working on lucky #3?

Thinking that 3 isn’t quite an even enough number, so why not have a 4th?

Love bigger families and adding child #5? We’ve even got you covered!

Sooooooo we stopped at 5.  However, if anyone is reading this who has more birds, I mean kids than are pictured on a shirt, and you just have to have one in your family’s size…please leave a comment either here or at

AdoptionTee (there is a place on the front page for feedback)

and let the head designer know.  We are happy to fill custom orders.

And what if your family is complete and there is just no more “nesting” going on? But still…you just love birdies and gotta have you a shirt?

Or, maybe there are those of you like my tween-aged daughter who says yes she likes birds and desperately wants a birdie shirt, but maybe doesn’t want to personally wear one that advertises “adding to a nest”  for various reasons….how does this one work for ya? (I like to call it “Birds but no Words”):

We have mugs, water bottles, and aprons and totes with the birdies also, sans words. Who wouldn’t want to drink their morning coffee in something this cute?

So, so many choices! I can’t say I envy any of you who are trying to pick out JUST ONE!

Well, thanks for indulging me. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I gotta run…and go pick me out a “Nest” shirt in my size!


Last week we received an email from our Gladney caseworker that started with:


Hello, Jay and Tricia!

Congratulations! You have officially been placed on waitlist to receive a referral as of 11/16/2010!



Time for a little happy dancing….

So what does “being on the waitlist mean”?

Waitlisted means that all our paperwork for the application, homestudy, and dossier part of the adoption process is complete. We are on the list now in Ethiopia, and in line to eventually receive information about the little one that Gladney has for us. For the next several months, we will be waiting. Waiting, praying, learning all we can until our agency Gladney matches us with the child they feel best fits, based on her needs and what they know of our family. Jay and I will complete a good bit of required education and training as part of our preparation before we receive our referral.

Are you asking for a girl or a boy? How old?

Many friends have asked if we get to choose boy or girl. Yes, with Ethiopia you get to choose. Jay and I were truly open to either gender. Practically speaking a boy would be “simpler” with bedroom arrangements in our current house. However, our sweet daughter has prayed faithfully for a sister since she was about four years old. Part of the backstory to our adoption journey is that she began asking about adopting a sister several years ago. Though we laughed, and brushed her off in the past, when it came time to specify boy or girl, we felt for her sake that we had to ask for a little girl. And we are truly delighted at the thought of another girl in the family!

We have asked for a little toddler girl somewhere between 18 to 30 months of age, with the caveat that if Gladney has a little girl in care that is a bit out of that range on either side but who appears to be a solid match from their point of view, to please let us know. We have to set an age range based on our agency’s advice and what we feel is the best match for our family.

This was an agonizingly hard decision, but from the first moment Jay and I each began feeling pulled toward adoption, we have never envisioned a tiny baby. Separately, without ever talking about it to each other, we both felt pulled toward a toddler. We absolutely adore babies, but the reality is that we have been blessed to enjoy four tiny babies in our home. Once children hit toddler age the chances of them being adopted drop somewhat, though in actuality there are a lot of families on Gladney’s referral list who ask for toddlers, and many of the people we know who have adopted or are adopting here in Dallas bring home toddlers. We are very, very excited about our little girl, and finding out who she is, and how old she will be.

So, when will you get this referral?

These days, referrals are taking around 9 or 10 months on average. So we do not imagine we will receive a match for quite a while.  At the time of referral, we are given every bit of information that Gladney has about our daughter. Medical history, family background, her story.

So….you will bring her home in about 9 or 10 months, after your referral?

No, not yet.  🙂 After we are given and accept a referral, there will be a first trip to Ethiopia several weeks later to meet our daughter and complete a court hearing, and then a second return visit another few weeks later where we will receive custody and bring our girlie home.

Then how long WILL it be till she is finally home with you?

Average wait times are just that: averages. We have no exact times, and things change in the adoption world depending on factors often out of the control of our agency’s workers, etc. Given current wait times, estimated time till court dates are issued, and then the two trips are completed, it will probably be about a year before we bring our girlie home. Again, that is the best estimate we have at this time, and could change.

Does Gladney already know who your daughter is?

No. At this time (based on the age we have asked for), our daughter is already alive but neither Gladney nor we know who she is. She may or may not still be with her birth family. At some point she will be processed through a government orphanage, spend a bit of time there, and shortly thereafter be brought into in Gladney’s foster care. Once in Gladney’s care, we know she will receive excellent treatment as they have plenty of people to love and care for these little ones as well as staff and resources to meet their medical and other needs compared to the resources in the government orphanages.

How can we pray for your ongoing adoption process?

* Please pray for our daughter: that the Lord will be protecting her and have His hand on her whatever her situation may be. That she might have precious time with her birth mother or other close family before whatever tragedy occurs which will ultimately separate them.  The fact that this little one and so many millions of others in Ethiopia are in need of a family to adopt them and give them homes means that there has been great tragedy in their lives. Our hearts are heavy for her and for her birth family.

* Please pray for us: that God will be preparing our family to welcome a daughter, a little one who has known loss and hardship at such a young age that most of us cannot even begin to fathom. Pray that Jay and I will be given wisdom, patience, and the ability to meet her needs. Pray that our children will be equipped to be good siblings to this little girl. They are all so excited about their new baby sister.

* Pray for Gladney as they work with so many in the country of Ethiopia, both those who will be adopted, and those who will not. We are very thankful for the good work our agency is doing in Africa to help better the lives of people, and especially children there.

* Pray for God to provide the remainder of our adoption expenses. There are still costs we have not yet incurred which are due upon referral, and we also have the expenses for our travel to Ethiopia to account for. We are so thankful as God has provided beautifully to this point, and we trust that this will all work out.

We are thrilled about this step in the process, and feel it is a huge blessing to get this good news right before Thanksgiving. I had secretly been hoping and praying for waitlist status by the New Year, so this is a wonderful surprise!

Happy Thanksgiving to All of you, dear Readers.

Adoption Tee-Shirts!! (and Sweatshirts, Coffee Mugs, etc…)

Alrighty, Folks!  The people here at House of Horne have been busy, busy, busy working on a new project. And so, without further ado, it is with great excitement that I announce the opening of:

To visit our store, please click here:


The designs are our own, and we currently have four different ones up to choose from. Come in, have a look around, and think about buying a T-shirt (many different styles, fits, and colors available in each design):

a sweatshirt:

a tote bag:

or even a mug for that warm cup ‘o’ joe or hot chocolate!

BBQ Apron, Anyone?

And where else do you suppose you will find a frosty adoption stein to hold your favorite chilled beverage?

In all seriousness, it is our hope that these shirts and other products will appeal to folks all over who have a heart for adoption, and help encourage the message of adoption within the church.

On a personal note, a part of every sale at AdoptionTee will go toward helping us bring our own sweet little girlie home from Ethiopia.

Thanks so much for looking around and supporting us, and please do spread the word to anyone who might be interested that AdoptionTee is open for business!!

Texas Wait No More

A local Dallas church, Watermark, is holding a huge conference this weekend in partnership with Focus on the Family, Dallas CPS and area Adoption Agencies to help focus efforts on finding adoptive families for the children currently in the custody of the state of Texas.

Right now there are over 3500 kids who have legally been declared orphans living here in Texas waiting for families.

Previous efforts like this in the state of Colorado have helped to reduce the number of waiting children in that state by over half. Amazing.

For more information or to register for this event, go HERE.

Navigating the Waters of the Adoption Dossier

We are in the stage of gathering the final documents needed to complete our dossier.  This is very exciting because it means we are near to being officially placed on the waitlist for our little girl! (What will not be exciting is the following explanation of one of the more technical aspects of the whole adoption thing…my apologies in advance for boring the few faithful readers we still have!)

In any international adoption process, there are three  main components to the paper chase:

1-the Application Packet for your adoption agency,

2- the Homestudy, and

3-the Dossier.

The Dossier feels more daunting mostly because some of the documents are more challenging to obtain, and most every document included must be notarized, and then go through an authentication process both at the state and the national level. There are four or five levels of authentication required depending on which state you reside in.  They are:

1. Notary

2. County Clerk (this level is not needed in all states)

3. Secretary of State

4. United States Department of State

5. Ethiopia Embassy

Given the Dossier also requires two sets of official government fingerprints for each parent, you must also wait on approvals, fingerprint dates, responses to applications, etc. Sometimes the wait stretches out so long, that it can seem as if your file got lost in a box somewhere in Gov’t office #547.  (And some of my adopting friends will tell you that their have, poor things!) There are a total of 34 documents needed just for our Dossier, and unfortunately the work of gathering just one document can potentially stretch into weeks due to errors with dates, notarization mess-ups, etc.

This week has had its fill of highs and lows in the Dossier process. We are so very close to the end, and yet little glitches each day have prevented my FedEx’ing the final set of documents off for authentication.

First, this past Monday, November 1st, we were delighted to find an envelope from Homeland Security in our mailbox. YAY! We received our I-600A Customs Approval that I referred to back in this post in record time! Happy Dance! What a wonderful and appropriate way to kick off National Adoption Month!

Then, oops, the joy was short-lived, it appears there was a mix-up with our paperwork from Homeland Security. Yours truly was listed as the main adoptive applicant parent which wouldn’t be a bad thing except that wisdom dictates that the parent with the higher income always be approved as the main applicant. In this case, Jay is the only parent with ANY income, at least for right now, so that was a little bit of an issue. We got that settled…only to run into repeated issues with a medical letter.

A letter from Jay’s personal physician is a mandatory part of the packet, and for whatever reason repeated instructions to the doctor’s office about how the letter is to be dated, notarized, etc, have not been followed. We are currently on our fourth try to get this one little piece of paper correct and I am pretty sure our doctor’s office is rather weary of seeing me in their lobby. Wondering what fault I will find today with their latest draft of the aforementioned letter. Ah well….All other documents are now in order, have been officially notarized, except for one. Like I said, we are so close!

Throughout our dossier process, we have had the blessing of working with a lady who is a pro at dossier preparation. She has been invaluable to us, and because of her, instructions have been laid out very clearly, and so far we have not had to redo documents due to little errors here and there. She is amazingly organized and attentive to details, and knows exactly how to navigate the waters of the process. She is always calm and reassuring, and has answered so many questions for me, and streamlined the process so much for us as we’ve worked together the past few months to put our dossier together.  Jay says the money spent on the fee for her services is the smartest cash we’ve spent thus far on the adoption, and he is right!

Kate at KBS Dossiers already has the endorsement of Gladney as well as so many adoptive parents who testify to what great work she does. In fact, I heard about her way before we began the adoption process because so many adoptive parents give her shout outs on their blogs! But she has been so wonderful to us that I had to mention her.  If you are preparing to work on an international adoption, give her a call!

Truly, we are overjoyed that the process is moving along, and that we are many steps closer to bringing home our little sweetheart from Ethiopia.  I hope to be back before the end of the month to give you the wonderful news that we are officially waitlisted!!!