Well, this post is definitely a long time coming!!! David and I have some very exciting news to share...Carothers child #2 is coming!!!!!! But no...I'm not pregnant...we're ADOPTING!!! I really have to laugh a little when I think about that last statement, because if you asked me a year ago if this was on the radar I would never had said YES. So...here is our story:

David and I (individually) knew that we (each) wanted to adopt even before we were in college. David saw the reality of vast number of orphans throughout the world while growing up in Guatemala, and I had several family members/friends that had adopted children (or that were adopted). When we started dating more seriously and eventually began discussing this we found that we shared a common interest. Although, like others we have talked with, I think we both thought we would adopt someday after we had finished having biological children. As Christians we realize that we are called to care for/defend orphans. This is evident in verses such as James 1:27 "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress...," Isaiah 1:17 "...Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow," and Matthew 25:40 " ' I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' " Psalm 68:5 tells us that God exemplifies what he's called us to do "A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling." However, we feel that God has called David and I to go further in caring for orphans and ADOPT a child that He has specifically in mind for us.

Well, we had only lived in Jackson a month or so when David came to me one night and said "Hey, what do you think about going ahead and adopting a child?" My response: uhhhhhh (the thought really had not even crossed my mind at this point!!!). So, we prayed about it, but it seemed like the more we prayed about it, the more reasons God gave me (us) that this is what He has planned for our family at this time. (some of the more insignificant, but encouraging included: I really had no desire to be pregnant again, but yet didn't want to wait too long before having a sibling before Norah Kate; I really wasnt able to take a full maternity leave since I had not been at my job long AND I don't receive paid time off...) So...you see where this was going. In February David and I were very fortunate to be able to attend the Adopted for Life Conference in Kentucky. I would definitely say that each of us had already decided that we would for sure go ahead and adopt, but it was at this conference that we decided this was the plan for our family and that we would go with an international adoption. We discovered that with international adoptions it means that there is absolutely NO ONE in that country that wants to adopt that child...that is how they are allowed to be adopted into another country. We then began the process of choosing a country. The reality was that we needed a country where we could adopt a baby (we did not want to mess up birth order with Norah Kate) in a fairly short amount of time (because we still plan on having more biological children). We also preferred a country where only 1 short travel trip was required (again, due to my job and no paid time off). Our criteria brought us 2 countries: India and Ethiopia. When we looked into India further, we found that adoptive parents are required to be willing to accept a special needs child. This could be as small as low birth weight (leading to no further problems) or it could be more significant...such as debilitating cerebral palsy (just an example). This really wasn't an option for us since both David and I must work at this point. Even though I do only work part time, we didn't feel that it would be fair to the child or to the baby-sitter to put that responsibility to someone other than us (the parents). Therefore, we chose Ethiopia!!! ...then...new requirements were made that added a second trip for Ethiopia. So...we then found that Rwanda met our criteria.

In July, David and I applied with America World Adoption Agency (www.awaa.org) for the Rwanda program for a healthy baby age 0-12 months. It wasn't long after that we found out we had been ACCEPTED into the program. Yay!!! BUT...the girl said..."there is a little issue because even though it states you can receive a child as young as 1 month, we hardly ever see a Rwandan child adopted less than 17 months old!" Ugh. That could possible only be 6 months difference in Norah Kate and the age of the adopted child. We just didn't think that would be good. So...we are back with Ethiopia!!! Yes, we will have to travel twice, but they are quick trips (1st trip 5-7 days and 2nd trip 3-5 days) and my employer has been more than helpful and has agreed that this will work out fine.

So... that is our story and here is the "Interval History" as I say in my medical notes. :) We finished our last homestudy visit tonight. We have MOST of our paperwork completed. It will probably take through the end of November until our homestudy is written up and everything is turned over to the agency to present to Ethiopia. Then...we wait. The earliest that we expect a child is May 2011. Although, any of you that know the adoption process you know that this could be far off in either direction. We expect to get a baby BOY...but again, this could change as well. :) We've found that adoption will make you a flexible person if you are not already!!

I know this is a LONG post, but we are more than excited about what is going on in our family and we want to share that with our friends and family. As you know, any adoption is an expensive process, and international adoption is no exception. Between the agency fees, homestudy/social worker fees, travel fees, and other (normal "getting ready for baby" fees) we estimate our total cost to be near (and hopefully not more than) $40,000. Yes...$40,000. We have been good about budgeting our money and using savings, but we've found the hardest part of the adoption is that there are certain times when a large amount of money is due and that money needs to be available. We have done well with our first few payments, but we are looking at having to make 2 trips to Ethiopia in the near future and so the travel fees will probably be outrageous. I am trying to gather some of our finances by selling Willow House products (formerly Southern Living at HOME) http://ncarothers.willowhouse.com If you are interested in helping us out in this way feel free to visit my website or to email me (willowhousenc@gmail.com) You don't have to live in Jackson to be a part of this. Others may simply want to make a donation and that would be much appreciated as well. Unfortunately these donations won't be tax deductible (our agency doesn't offer this service). We would also appreciate your prayers (above all else!!!). Now that we are getting closer in this process, and know that our child may already have been born, it is VERY difficult to think that our child my be in an orphanage right now. We also know that any child that we get will have already suffered a tragedy is his very young life. Please pray for the child's family and those taking care of him now. Please pray that we would, most importantly, be able to share with him the love that Jesus has for him and that, like the child, we are all orphans and adopted into Christ's family by His grace. I could go ON AND ON, but I think for now I will stop there. We will be keeping everyone updated throughout the remainder of the process and appreciate your love and concern for us.