Nov 16, 2008

HOMESTUDY IS HERE!!! I600A on its way!

Finally!!! We received our revised homestudy, YAY!!! We had a complete homestudy since February 2008, but when we changed countries from Liberia to Ghana we had to have our homestudy completely updated. Then we added Comfort to our group, so it was a good thing we were in the process of getting our homestudy updated because our social worker was able to change the number of children from 2 to 3 at the same time.
Also, interestingly, we had been expecting our homestudy in the mail for days but it had still not arrived. On Wednesday I was talking on the phone to my friend Laurel when our homestudy arrived. I mentioned that I was going to mail our I600A form right away and she told me not to mail it because it would take a few months and if we went to the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) in person it would only take 2 weeks. If we would have received our homestudy the day before, I would have already mailed it! We then would have been stuck for a couple months! Thank you Laurel!!!
So, I went online to find out how to visit the USCIS and it looked to me like you have to have an appointment, but I called Laurel back and she told me that they went without an appointment a year ago, (she even had an email from them saying that you don't really have to have an appointment) so we decided to take a road trip the next day (3 hours each way). Both Mark and Kelcey were off work that day (we all needed to be fingerprinted) so it worked out perfect! Of course being the research person that I am, I continued to try to figure out if we really needed an appointment so I emailed the USICS and I called and left a message for our social worker. Neither of them got back to me so away we went.
When we arrived at the USCIS we were met at the door by a very 'secure' security guard who obviously liked his job of guarding the entrance. Of course you can guess what he said. Yeah, "you need an appointment". I explained that we just drove 3 hours and couldn't they make an exception and he said "wait here" and disappeared into his totally secure building. We began to pray, pray, pray that God would work this out and the security guard came back to the door and told us to come in. YAY!!! So all 6 of us filed through the door, filled up his tub with our cellphones, wallets and all the contents of our pockets and then passed through the metal detector. We were told to go to the counter and the nice lady behind the counter would help us. When we got to the counter the lady behind the counter asked us if we had an appointment. GRRR. No, I explained, we do not have an appointment but the nice security guard told us that you would help us, can you? As she typed away at her computer trying to figure out how to get our names in without an appointment (and mumbling the whole time, "you really need an appointment, this is not going to work, all my spots are booked, nope can't do it") we prayed, prayed, prayed! All of a sudden she looked surprised and said "Oh, how did that happen? Hmmm, why did it let me over book?" BECAUSE GOD WANTS THIS ADOPTION TO GO THROUGH AND GO THROUGH QUICKLY!!! That's why!
So, we were in and out in 20 minutes, our I600A is all filed, fingerprints are done and it should be back in a couple weeks instead of a couple months.
By the way, right when we left the USCIS office our social worker called us on our cell phone to tell us not to drive there without an appointment because they have recently changed the policy and we won't get in without an appointment.
Oh, and when we got home we had received an email from USCIS saying that we needed to have an appointment and would not be seen without one.
I can't say if we were walking by faith or ignorance, but I can say that God totally took care of everything. I know I've said it before, but God is amazing!
One more step closer to getting our kids!!

Nov 5, 2008

Comfort........God is good!!!!

This is Comfort. Isn't she adorable? Comfort is our third child! Technically she is our 8th child, but she is our 3rd child from Ghana. Do you want to know how this happened? OK, it's a long story, but an amazing story! Enjoy............
Mark and I both felt called to adopt, so we began to pray that God would make it clear to us which child or children we were to adopt. We knew this summer that we were adopting 2 children, Brian and Josephine. In August we had to have our home study updated to change countries from Liberia to Ghana and we both were really feeling like we were suppose to change our homestudy to approve us for 3 children instead of 2, but we never said anything to each other because we both thought we would cause the other to have a stroke or heart attack!!! 3 days after our homestudy visit I woke up in the middle of the night feeling urgently that we must change our homestudy. This feeling did not resolve by morning, so in the morning I mentioned it to my girls who both said "Wow, that's really cool. Did you tell dad?" Of course I had not worked up the nerve to tell him but 10 minutes later Mark came to me and told me that he needed to tell me something that had really been nagging at him. He said that he was really feeling like we should change our homestudy to approve us for 3 kids not 2!!!!!!!!!! I almost fell off my chair. I called our homestudy guy and he said that it would not be a problem. I contacted Lois, who is helping us with our adoption, and asked her if Brian and Josephine had any siblings. It was the only thing I could think of that would possibly cause us to add another child to the group. But she said that they did not have a sibling, so we resolved to just wait and watch for God to work, assuming that we would probably find our third child while in Ghana.
A few weeks later, Lois visited the orphanage where Brian and Josephine are living. When she returned to the US she called us to share wonderful stories about Brian and Josephine. I again asked her if they had a sibling and she said "No, but let me tell you about this little girl I met while I was there"

Lois then told me about a little girl who was very sick so she took her to the doctor. The doctor determined that she had a hole in her heart because he could hear a whooshing sound with every heart beat. When Lois told me this I had the strangest feeling. I knew that this was my daughter, and I knew that we had to do something or she would die in Ghana. Without being adopted, this was a death sentence for this little girl.
What Lois did not know when she told me about Comfort is that my mom had passed away in February from a heart attack. She had her first bypass surgery when I was 6 years old and had numerous heart issues throughout my life. Mark and I had already discussed medical issues and what we thought we were capable of handling. We decided that the one thing we could handle was heart related issues because we had cared for my mom and feel knowledgeable and confident in that area.
I did not tell anyone that I thought this was the third child that God was preparing us for, I just told everyone that she needed help and needed someone to adopt her. I think I was in denial. All of my friends have since told me they knew right away that she was ours, they were just waiting for us to realize it.
Knowing that she would need to be evaluated before the US would allow her adoption, I began researching, looking for cardiologists in Ghana. Guess what??? There aren't any!!!! But, I knew that God was going to move mountains and work things out so I kept looking. Amazingly I found a Ghanaian man who grew up in Ghana, came to the US as an adult, went to Harvard Medical School and works at Boston Children's Hospital as a pediatric Cardiologist, AND he goes back to Ghana every 6 months to evaluate and do corrective surgery on children with heart defects!!!! I called his office and he was actually on a plane for Ghana at that very moment. I explained the situation to his nurse and told her about Comfort and she was able to contact him in Ghana and get the OK to give me his email address. I emailed him and told him about Comfort and asked him if he would evaluate her so that we can have a diagnosis and know what needs to be done when she gets to the US. He emailed me back and said that he would be happy to evaluate her. The orphanage director drove her 4 hours to be evaluated and she had a full evaluation, even an EKG!! In Ghana!! You can see the story that Good Morning America featured Dr Fynn-Thompson in here Be sure to watch the video. He is an amazing man. We are so grateful to him.
This is a picture of Comfort that Dr Francis Fynn-Thompson took the day he evaluated her.

The first thing that we heard from the orphanage director was that the doctor said to tell the people who are adopting her that they should not be afraid. So, we decided to step out in faith and believe that this was the third child that God had for us to adopt. Then we began to panic. How could we possibly adopt 3 children? How could we take a child with medical needs? How could we pay for a HEART SURGERY? Amazingly, we just had witnessed God weaving together a miracle for Comfort, yet we still panicked and doubted. We continued to pray and asked God to provide a way.
That was last week. This week God has once again provided a miracle for Comfort. We received her medical records with her diagnosis on Monday. It turns out that she does have a heart defect, not a hole but "an obstruction of blood flow to her lungs on the right side of her heart, relatively easily corrected by surgery." Good outcome in the US, not so good if she stays in Ghana. Now that we had a diagnosis I really needed some answers about getting it fixed so I called Children's Hospital which is close to our house and asked them if they could give me an estimate of the cost of surgery. At first I was told that we would need to bring her in to be evaluated once she got here then they would talk to us about finances. I then explained the situation. I told the lady on the phone all about Comfort and what a miracle it was that we had a diagnosis and that we really needed to know if this was even remotely financially feasible for us. I explained that her adoption by us really was contingent on whether or not we could pay for her surgery once she arrived here. She took all our information, family size, income, etc. and put me on hold. When she returned she said that she had shared this information with her supervisor and they were going to do the surgery for no cost to us!!! "Not one dollar will come out of your pocket, the evaluation, surgery, check ups, they will all be covered" Praise God !!!!!!!!!!! Our insurance has also committed to covering a portion of the surgery, but the hospital assures us that we should not worry because even if our insurance backs out they will still cover all the costs.
Now that is a miracle!!!
So, now we just have to get our kids here. Oh, our homestudy had been misplaced by our social worker until last week when we decided to add Comfort to our family. Isn't that interesting?
That's our long, amazing story and the story isn't over yet. God still has mountains to move and we will try not to panic while we go along for the ride!

Black Powder Hunting

This is Mark, Kelcey, and Tyler and Big Nathan Obregon all dressed for hunting in Eastern Washington. They had an awesome time! They hiked many miles and even had to hike out in the dark, which Mark thought was a great adventure. I am glad I wasn't there for that hike!
This is Tyler checking out the area. Maggie, Nathan and I were disappointed that we did not get to go this year. Last year we all went and we had a blast!

Hike to Source Lake

This is probably our last good hike of the season. What a great day we had with the Knox family! We hiked to Source Lake, a beautiful, reasonably easy hike, then on the way back I twisted my ankle and fell, landing with my hand on a nice sharp rock. My hand was cut open and it swelled up huge! We all thought it was broken, but it recovered in a few days. I actually have a picture of it, but I'll spare everyone.

Here we are at the trailhead.
These sharp rocks were all along the trail.

Halfway there!

We made it to the end!!! Don't we live in a beautiful place? This hike was only about an hour from our house.

Sep 27, 2008

New Pictures!!!!!!

2 weeks ago we sent a package to our kids in Ghana! It included photo albums, paper, crayons, visors, and lollipops! Here is a picture of Brian and Josephine looking at pictures of their new family (us!) in the photo album that we sent.

Our package was hand delivered by Jessica!! Thank you!!!

Brian and Josephine in the middle.
Isn't Josephine beautiful??

Here they are holding their package from us and wearing their new visors we sent.

As I look at these pictures (crying, of course) I am just overwhelmed with the urge to go get my kids. I want to protect them and be their mom up close, not from thousands of miles away. I look at the pictures closely and try to glean any little bit of information that I can. Are they happy? Are they afraid? What are they feeling? I can't imagine getting a photo album full of pictures of a family that I had never met and being told that this is your new family. How overwhelming and scary would that be?? Everything in the pictures looks foreign to them. Our family, our house, the green grass and trees, the mountains, the city. We will be praying that they are happy and excited about their new family and not afraid. We have been told that all of the orphans in Ghana dream of being adopted by an American family, but they never think that they will be lucky enough to be the ones that get picked and when they do get picked they are very happy.
We spent a day with a family near us who adopted 3 kids from Ghana and as we were looking at their pictures from Ghana and discussing our adoption, their little boy quietly asked his mom who we were adopting (I think he was hoping it would be someone he knew!). Then I asked him if he thought they would be happy for us to adopt them and bring them to America and he smiled and boldly said "YES!"

We also were able to get information about our kids from Lois who was in Ghana with Jessica. The report that she gave us about our kids was great! Lois said that both of them are very healthy, do not seem to have any learning or physical disabilities, and they socialize and play well with the other kids. They also seem to be very bonded and depend on each other. Josephine is quiet and shy and Brian is more outgoing. We are very happy with this report!

Patiently waiting.................sometimes not so patiently.............


Sep 10, 2008

Wish I were there!

Yesterday Jessica and Lois left for Ghana. Jessica is picking up her daughter and Lois went along to check out things at the orphanage. They have both promised to get lots of pictures and even video of our kids!!! Today I realized that they have probably arrived and are actually at the orphanage where our kids are waiting for us. I can't believe that while we just have pictures of our kids, they are there, able to talk to our kids and even hug them! Lucky! I can hardly wait to get the pictures and video. And I can hardly wait to get to Ghana!!

Sep 9, 2008

Our God Is an Awesome God!

Does it ever just blow you away how awesome God is? I was thinking about it today, and I am just amazed at how amazing He is. So, this weekend we had our fundraiser garage sale. Our goal was to make $800 because that, along with our other donations, would pay for the next step in our adoption. We had asked all of our friends and family to donate items, but as of last Monday we did not have much of anything to sell at our garage sale. I started to get a little nervous and I cried out to God asking did he really want us to adopt?? Because if so we needed some donations. Wow!! Did God move, and our friends and family pull through!! By Friday we were buried in good stuff to sell! As we looked around we realized that very little of it was our stuff and the huge majority was donated by people who are almost as excited as we are to see our kids come home. Not only did friends donate, but they actually delivered items to our house, came and helped set up, made up awesome fundraiser signs with pictures of Brian and Josephine, advertised, and even helped sell!! Even our neighbors got involved and donated items. We even had a cash donation from Cali (11) and Kenna (8) who opted to give money to our adoption that they had personally saved rather than spend it on themselves. Together they gave $100!!!! Thank you girls!! I will say it once again, it is amazing and humbling to see God move the heart of a child and to watch them follow Him in obedience.

At the end of our garage sale we tallied our earnings and amazingly we had made $845! Plus we still have some great stuff that we are selling online. Just today I sold a bed that did not sell at the garage sale. When the people came to pick it up I told them about our adoption and how I wanted them to know that they are part of something bigger as this money was going towards our adoption and they said "Praise the Lord!"......... My thoughts exactly!!

So this goal was met, now on to our next goal. Half of the country/orphanage fee is due when we send in our Dossier (about a month from now) which is $3500. It looks big, but I know that our God is amazing. We are excited to watch Him work!!
Thank you to all my friends and family who donated and helped with this fundraiser. We feel truly blessed to have such awesome support.

Aug 25, 2008

Authentic Ghanaian Meal

Today my wife went to an authentic Ghanaian market that is only 5 miles from our home! It is owned by a man from Ghana named Samuel who was so helpful and full of information. She bought all the ingredients to make a truly authentic Ghanaian meal just like our kids in Ghana would eat. We thought it might be a good idea to try some of the Ghanaian foods before we get there. We had Palm Nut Soup with Fufu (that is a really hard texture to get used to), Black Eyed Peas, Boiled Plantains and Sweet Potatoes, Avocado and Lime, and Rice. It was funny to watch the kids trying to swallow the okra in the soup quickly before it got too slimy! Maggie even ate with her fingers like the people in Africa. I was expecting it to be more of a 'flavor' experience, but it was really about getting used to the textures of the food, except for the black eyed peas which I think taste like dirt. I think we just might survive our trip to Africa. The good thing is that I need to loose a few pounds anyways.

Footnote from Lanae: I used the cookbook pictured above "A Good Soup Attracts Chairs: A First African Cookbook for American Kids" By Fran Osseo-Asare (published in 1993)who is married to a Ghanaian man and has lived off and on in Ghana for many years. I highly recommend this cookbook for anyone wanting to cook authentic Ghanaian food. My new friend, Samuel, at the Ghanaian market looked at all of the recipes and said that it is a very good cookbook.

Aug 22, 2008

100 Degree Day/Talked to The Kids!!!!

What an awesome day we had! We started out our day by talking to our kids in Ghana! I had such a hard time not crying when I heard their sweet little voices with their really cool African accents! We had a good conversation and I was surprised that Brian actually asked us questions about our family. I guess I imagined him being shy and us having to coax him into talking, but he was very articulate and I think he had been thinking about these questions. And cute Josephine proudly proclaimed "I am six years old!!" We talked about school and football (soccer) and Brian said "I am very happy to meet you!". My heart was bursting! When we got off the phone I felt like I needed to leave right then to go get them, you know that nagging feeling that you have when you are away from your kids? Even if you are having a good time, you keep glancing at your watch and thinking "I should go Pick up my kids". Well I keep glancing at my watch thinking "I should go pick up my kids". But they are in Ghana, not at grandma's house! What a strange feeling.

After all that excitement, we left to go hiking but it ended up being too hot to hike, so we had a picnic next to the river (sandwiches, homemade macaroni salad and fresh peach pie, yum!)and then the kids went swimming in the swimming hole. It really was 100 degrees, so the water felt great! And what a beautiful spot. A great day all around.


Hiking in the clouds

WOW, can you believe that my family hiked high enough to be above some of the clouds? The foggy stuff in the picture is a cloud too! It was surrounding them. Then there is my husband with his feet firmly planted on the rock! Hmmmmmm, interesting.


Aug 19, 2008

The Email That Made Me Cry

This email is from our closest friends who are serving as missionaries in Papua New Guinea. They have been there for over a year and we miss them deeply. We keep in touch by email and I received this email today. Alex is their 13 year old son who is serving with them in New Guinea and 'Big Nathan' (as opposed to 'Little Nathan' our son) lives close by us in the US. Alex received some emails from our kids yesterday talking about our adoption. I am deeply, deeply touched and humbled by this selfless act of faith and obedience from a young man who obviously loves God and has a heart that hears Him. Oh, that I would hear so clearly and have the faith and obedience of a child.

Dear Lanae;
Listen I just have a moment now and will write back when I can sit down and collect my thoughts somewhat intelligently. I wanted to let you know that Alex is donating the 45 American dollars that he has been working on here to get a Wii to give towards the adoption of Brian and Josephine. He read the e-mails from Tyler, Maggie and little Nathan and came to me and asked if he could give his money to the adoption instead. So I have e-mailed Big Nathan to send you guys a check for that amount as we don’t have another way to get it to you. Alex said he “felt” “something” and motioned to his chest area when he read about Brian and Josephine and so after all his planning and wishing for a Wii he would rather give it all for the adoption. I wanted to tell you because it has greatly encouraged me and it should encourage you as God is working through you guys for His benefit using people from all over the world.

We love you guys


Aug 12, 2008


This is the first picture that we received of our kids. Aren't they adorable?
We did get some news about the adoption this week. I feel like I sould say "do you want the good news or bad news first?" Actually it's not really bad, just tedious. We found out that our homestudy has to be updated, because of the country change, not just corrected. That means another visit from our homestudy guy, more paperwork, more copies of tax returns, another background check (in case we have committed a felony since our last one 6 months ago) more money (of course), and an additional 12 hours of adoption education classes that are now required by our homestudy agency. However, we do not need to write the 26 page biography explaining everything about our lives, past, present and future, again. YAY!
The good news is that the orphanage director's meeting with the village went well and he was able to get a date to pick up the kids birth certificates! YAY!!! He then decided it was time to tell the kids that they are being adopted, and he wants us to call and talk to them this week!! Isn't that amazing? So now we are all wondering: What will we say? Will they like us? Will they be afraid? This is so exciting!

Aug 10, 2008

An interesting article on what can happen to children in Ghana

What's happening?

Here is some info on where we are at in the adoption process.
So far we have our homes study done and have pictures of the kids that we are adopting. However...because we changed countries from Liberia to Ghana, we are in the process of getting our homestudy updated to reflect that change. Once that is done then we have to send it along with an I 600A application in to the US gov (this is an immigration paper) along with a whopping check for $910(for one application!). Then, after our gov. reviews our papers, they will send us the papers we need to send to Ghana along with a stack of other papers that we gather (birth certificates, marriage cert., picture of our family, personally written letters about our interest to adopt, tax returns, etc..) This is called the dossier. At that time we send part of our country fee which pays for paperwork, attorney, travel fees, food and care for Brian and Josephine, etc. in Ghana.
Then we have 3-4 months to wait for everything to go through before we get the okay to travel to Ghana to get our kids!
On the Ghana side: The orphanage director is meeting with the Chief in the village where Brian and Josephine are from. Apparently this is a very formal process and during this meeting the director will ask for birth certificates and death records (of the parents) so that once we get all of our paperwork done, we are set to go. Then we will be traveling to Ghana!!

The Orphanage

Here is a link to the orphanage where we are adopting. It is located in Accra, Ghana, which is in West Africa.
Brian and Josephine had been attending school at this orphanage while still living with their mother (their father had died years ago). This last January they came to live at the orphanage when their mother suddenly became ill and died. My heart breaks for them in losing both of their parents. Psalm 68:8 says 'God places the lonely in families' Isn't that awesome?
Ephesians 1:5 it says 'He (God) predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself'. Wow, God Himself has adopted us as His own children through belief in Jesus! His heart is for adoption!

Here I am, mom!

Isn't this a great picture? That's Brian in the middle waving! We received this picture when we were deciding on what kids to adopt. A friend of mine told me that God would make it very clear to me who our kids were and another said 'look for the ones that look familiar to you'. When we were looking through the pictures, the very last one was the picture that we put at the top of our blog with Brian and Josephine right out front dressed in blue (everyone else is in red)! When I saw this picture I immediately thought, "Oh, I know those kids!" (familiar). Then I went back through the pictures and noticed in 3 of the pictures Brian was waving at the camera. It looked like he was saying "MOM!! Here I am! Come and get me!" That was it for me. I love how God works!

Aug 3, 2008

Great day of hiking!

I thought I would post these pictures of our family hiking at Lake Kachess this weekend. Yes, we did hike to the top of that rock! It has a beautiful view (once you catch your breath). What a great family day. It started out with picking up Tyler from Mission Aviation Training Academy's weeklong summer camp where he got to fly an airplane everyday, then a quick trip over the mountains to Mark's family reunion picnic on the shores of Lake Kachess, and finally a heart pounding hike to the top of 'the rock'. We can't wait to get Brian and Josephine here and take them along on our fun family adventures.

Aug 1, 2008

Here we go!!

This has been a really long journey for us. It all started when God asked us to adopt. At the time we had 5 young children, no money, no time, no sleep, you get the picture. We were already overwhelmed, how could we possibly think about adopting? Well, we chose to believe that if God was asking us to do it, He would not leave us hanging. He would provide.
Over the last few years we have prayed, grown, changed and matured in the Lord. We have learned to trust Him in the midst of hard times, in times when we lacked faith, and times when we had doubt and fear.
We have also developed a love and compassion for orphans and believe James 1:27 "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress". For us, this means adoption into our family.
Please prayerfully consider what that verse means to you. Is God calling you to adopt? Is He calling you to be part of an adoption by supporting someone through prayer and/or financially? Maybe He is calling you to a short term mission to an orphanage or to monthly support of an orphan? I know that God is faithful to use you if you submit yourself to Him.
We are excited about our adoption journey!! I'll try to keep updating as often as possible.