Thursday, January 31, 2008

Thank You!

(For those of you who want to just see some pictures, here's a new Picasa2 album:

As we traveled home yesterday and spent the day together as a family for the first time today,I was overwhelmed with gratitude to the Lord and our family and friends. Ellie is coming home not just to our family but to a group of people here in Illinois and around the country who have cared for her in ways she will never know or understand.

I am excited for our family and more excited than ever for what I believe God is going to do in the lives of other orphans because of your faithfulness with Ellie.

We are in for a long road ahead...there is no doubt of that! Four kids six and under are a lot of work. Thanks to those of you who took the time to see us at the airport. When we got home, we found that some elves had been home ahead of us. There were balloons and a welcome sign out front and presents at the doorstep and in the kitchen. We have decided not to press charges for trespassing and breaking and entering and instead are just very grateful for those who were nice enough to make our homecoming so special.

After we got home, the kids stayed up another hour and a half just playing together. We had thought that it would take awhile for Ellie to warm up to her new siblings. It did...about 33 seconds. She loves her new room and loved taking toys out of boxes and running over to her brothers and sister with "presents" for them. We slept in this morning, then went for a swim at Five Points.

Though she loves playing with the other kids, you can tell Ellie is still confused sometimes as to what's going on. It will take awhile for her to adjust to her new routine, but she is so far ahead of where we thought she would be from day one.

We will continue to keep you updated. As you can see from the pictures of her homecoming trip, things are going well.

Be sure to check out Whitney's blog for her take on the past day and a half.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Must open forbidden envelope...

Ellie is holding an envelope that we picked up from the embassy today that we are not to open under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. We're supposed to give it to USCIS officials in Atlanta. But it's so tempting...what's in there? Why is it so thick? What would happen if I did open it? Would they really not let us into the country? Would they send us back to Guatemala? Would they pay for the ticket? Right now, Whitney has hidden the envelope so it won't tempt me.

We've watched the flights over the past few days and the ones we'll be on have run on time, etc. We'll see how it goes tomorrow.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Embassy calls Bennett Interview "Best We've Ever Had" and "Simply Amazing"

They may not have used those exact words, but the interview did go well. That is not to say things went as smoothly as possible. Our embassy appointment was scheduled for 7:15 AM and our facilitator was supposed to meet us at our hotel at 6:45. Knowing Guatemala time, I was pretty uncomfortable with him showing up that late. I became even more concerned when he told us yesterday that: 1) The paperwork that he was supposed to fill out, we would now be filling out and 2) we needed to take some additional pictures for Ellie’s visa that our agency had not taken for some reason. We were assured that there was a photo shop near the embassy that could handle everything quickly.

At 6:35, we received a phone call saying that our facilitator was going to be late. I tried to pretend to be surprised, but wasn’t. His plan was now to meet us at the embassy. We were supposed to find the photo shop, take the pictures, get them developed, go to the embassy and find where we were supposed to be on our own within the next forty minutes. My type-A personality thought that was a great idea.

Surprisingly, we got out the door and found the photo shop quickly. Side note: Greenspan has some really interesting things to say about developing free markets in Latin America in his memoir I read last October. What we’ve seen here is that people work hard to fill niches in the market. The photo shop was a great example. Right by the embassy, several people have set up shops designed to meet the needs of Americans adopting babies who need visa photos whose agencies did not supply them with said photos. There is an entire economic system built around the adoption process. The hotel we are staying at, as another example, is populated almost entirely by families adopting. There is one guy we’ve seen who may be an exception.

Anyway, after getting the photos we needed, we made it to the embassy and a few minutes after 7:15 and waited in a line outside. They called for people who had 7:15 appointments to begin filing inside the embassy. Our facilitator had assured us that we would not be going in the embassy before 7:30. We were faced with the decision of waiting for him or going on in on time but without him. We decided to go on in. Now we were in the embassy with no facilitator and no idea if we had filled out our paperwork correctly.

The next 30 minutes were pretty nerve wracking. Every other family had their attorney filling out paperwork with them as they waited for their interview. I tried going around and looking at other people’s work to see how they were answering questions. At one point, I almost exited the embassy to look for our guy, but realized at the last moment I was going out a door I couldn’t get back in without paperwork that Whitney had with her.

Ultimately, I had faith in Whitney’s ability to fill things out correctly. She was the type of student in school who always remembered to write their name and date on the top, right hand corner of the page first thing. In fact, she was so good at it, she still does it. I figured she had done everything right. She was less convinced and slightly worried.

As they began giving instructions in Spanish, I went with the rest of the attorneys and facilitators to the windows. It was at this time that our guy showed up. He smiled and said, “Sorry, bro.” He then proceeded to do an excellent job finishing things up for us. Our interview was short and we were done by 10:30.

While we were waiting, Ellie came alive like we had not seen yet. We think being around so many kids made her more animated. She was laughing and smiling and just having a grand old time.

This afternoon we went to Antigua. For dinner, we went to a steakhouse near the hotel. We’re really ready to be home. Pray for our travels, especially our Atlanta to Peoria flight. If anything delays our Guatemala to Atlanta flight, our second leg is probably toast.

We are more aware than ever what a community of faith endeavor this adoption has been. We are so grateful that you are helping us care for this precious one. She is still very upset if she is put down. We think she will continue to come out of her shell the next few days and be really excited when we get her around some more kids.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Daddy's Little Girl is Finally in His Arms Again!

I'm guest blogging on Whitney's blog right now, so you can get updates there (
Also, be sure to check out our trip photos that we will try to update regularly:

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

And Another Thing...

First, here is an excellent article on the Desiring God website by John Ensor on a "third wave" for the pro-life movement: "Pray for the Third Wave."

By way of contrast, here is pro-choice article entitled: "Abortion's Battle of Messages." that I think reveals we in the pro-life have the only morally defensible position. Furthermore, I think it shows that we are winning the battle in some significant ways. The authors acknowledge several crucial's just a sample:

"Science facilitated the swing of the pendulum. Three-dimensional ultrasound
images of babies in utero began to grace the family fridge. Fetuses underwent
surgery. More premature babies survived and were healthier. They commanded our
attention, and the question of what we owe them, if anything, could not be
dismissed. "

"These trends gave antiabortionists an advantage, and they made the
best of it. Now, we rarely hear them talk about murdering babies. Instead, they
present a sophisticated philosophical and political challenge. Caring societies,
they say, seek to expand inclusion into 'the human community.' Those once
excluded, such as women and minorities, are now equal. Why not welcome the fetus
(who, after all, is us) into our community?"

The article seems like basically a confessional. Then you come to the last few paragraphs, which are rather peculiar.

"Those who are pro-choice have not convinced America that we support a public discussion of the moral dimensions of abortion.....

"And when the choice movement seems to defend every individual abortion decision, rather than the right to make the decision, it too becomes suspect.If pro-choice values are to regain the moral high ground, genuine discussion about these challenges needs to take place within the movement. It is inadequate to try to message our way out of this problem. Our vigorous defense of the right to choose needs to be accompanied by greater openness regarding the real conflict between life and choice, between rights and responsibility. It is time for a serious reassessment of how to think about abortion in a world that is radically changed from 1973. "

Notice this: the authors offer no attempt to even begin the moral discussion they say they want to engage in. Why not even begin making the vigorous defense?

And here is the aforementioned video from Sunday that tries to give people a vision for how they might be involved in the orphan ministry.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Sanctity of Life Sermon

It has certainly been awhile since I've posted. I think in the excitement of having a date to go pick up Ellie, its been hard to think about posting.

Today marks the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. On Sunday, I preached a sermon entitled "The Glorious Grace of Adoption." It can be accessed here:

It did not receive universal acclaim, but it is something that I feel more pastors should be saying. I'm still thinking through the how.

I will try to post the video our adoption ministry put together soon.