Career vs Vocation

Career - a chosen pursuit; a profession or occupation

Vocation - an inclination, as if in response to a summons, to undertake a certain kind of work; a calling 

A recent speaker in my Tuesday night class said "don't let your career get in the way of your vocation."  That phrase struck me deep and has been convicting me since I heard it a week ago.  I'm totally guilty of thinking that I have to wait until I quit my current job to do what God is calling me to do--to love and to serve the poor and the marginalized--to spread His story to all the nations--to really make an impact on His kingdom. 

I'm guilty of blaming procrastination on perfection--all of my ducks have to be in a row before I can move forward.  For example: I can't go hang out with the homeless until I've got my baggies all prepared with crackers, shampoo, and McDonald's gift cards; until I've done research on where the homeless hang out; until I've taken a training on how to best present the gospel to the homeless; until I've made sure it's safe; until I' get the picture.

That's always been my problem.  I don't move forward with something if I know that I can't do it perfectly.  Well, news flash to Lauren--you're never going to do anything perfectly--you're not Jesus!  My challenge to myself:  stop preparing and start doing!  Just take the first step--stop trying to see what steps 8 and 9 are going to be.  Just let God be in control and He will get the glory for it!

Bottom line:  God can use me wherever I am--all I have to do is obey His calling!  I can live out my vocation while I'm doing my career.  And who knows where He will lead me in the future...

This just in!

Our home study was officially approved by All God's Children!!  Woo-hoo!! 

Even though we finished the "meat" of our home study back in November, there were a few steps that had to be completed before it was considered complete.  Today we got word that our adoption agency gave the final approval of the home study!  Huge check on the "to-do" list (see complete list on the right)!

So, what does that mean?  Once we get the notarized copies in the mail from our social worker, it means that we can finally submit our dossier!! 

So, what does that mean?  Once AGCI reviews and approves our dossier (as long as we included everything on the checklist, then it will be approved), it means that we can officially be placed on the waiting list for our child!!

So, what does that mean?  Once we're on the waiting list, it means that we're about 6-8 months from being matched with our child!!

Thanks for all of your prayers and support through this process.  We're pumped about being one step closer to our kiddo!

Adoption FAQs

This Q&A post is not meant to deter you from asking us questions directly. We just thought it might be helpful for those of you who don't see us or speak to us very often. These are the questions we frequently get asked along with our best answers to them...

Why adoption?
Ben and I felt a strong calling to adopt in September 2009. We can’t really explain it in any other way than that—a calling. We had been trying to get pregnant for about a year prior to that, but thankfully had not experienced any loss associated with infertility and had not exhausted our fertility options. The fact that we did not already have children and were not pregnant certainly made it easier to say “yes” to adoption; however, this journey is about so much more than our desires to have children. We are excited to see how God will continue to work in us and to meet the child He has chosen for us.

Why international? Why not domestic?
The calling that we felt was very clear to us. Adopt an infant. Adopt internationally. Adopt right now. The beauty of the body of Christ is that we are all called to different things and we have different passions. Our particular calling and passion is to international adoption.

Why Ethiopia?
Ethiopia kind of picked us. You see, Ben and I initially did not feel a strong calling to any particular country. We based our country search on what we felt called to do (adopt an infant; adopt internationally; adopt right now). We started by selecting an agency (All God’s Children International—or AGCI), then we gave our information to see which countries matched with us. Since we are adopting an infant, that narrowed it down significantly (some countries only adopt toddlers and up). Then they take into account your ages, years of marriage, etc. For us, all signs pointed clearly to Ethiopia!

Are you going to adopt a boy or a girl?
Ben and I are open to either gender. We even put on our paperwork that we’re open to twins, so we’ll see if that happens!

Do you know if your child will be healthy?
In the adoption paperwork, there is a question that reads “are you open to special needs?” For us, that was a tough decision to make. First of all, it’s a bit strange to get to select the parameters for your child—when a woman is pregnant she doesn’t get to do that. Also, that kind of question forces you to confront any selfishness, insecurities, or overall ugliness in your personality. Ultimately we decided to check the “no” box to that special needs question and we are at peace with our decision. We know that God has chosen the perfect child (or children) for us.

What background information will you know about your child?
It depends. Our agency (AGCI) will review and finalize our child’s background information and will provide us with any records (medical, psychological, historical) that they have. No matter what background we know or don’t know about our child, please understand that our child’s story is going to be a very private and personal one—and possibly painful. Our child will likely have residual hurts—whether that stems from a stressful pregnancy, being left in an orphanage, or something else altogether. When we do get matched with our child and learn his background, we will likely talk to our parents about the story, but will respect our child and wait until he is old enough to decide for himself who else he would like to share it with. Please pray for healing of our child’s heart and pray that we can be for him what he needs us to be.

How long does it take?
With adoption you have to “expect the unexpected.” The estimate for someone with our parameters (infant, Ethiopia, either gender, healthy) is approximately 8 months from the time we submit our dossier to the time we are matched with our baby. What that means is that we should be parents by the end of 2010. I keep the checklist on the right-hand side of the blog updated with current timeline information.

How much does it cost? Why so much?
Adoption is a wonderful way to grow a family, but it is an expensive venture. Our adoption expenses will cost in excess of $30,000. This includes legal fees, travel expenses, training programs, administrative fees, etc. Our adoption agency provides us with all of the services associated with our adoption including serving as liaison with foreign authorities and orphanage personnel in Ethiopia. One of the many comforts we have with our agency is that they were among the first group of agencies to receive Hague Accreditation. The Hague Convention on Inter-country Adoption is an international agreement between participating countries on best adoption procedures. To receive accreditation signifies the highest standards in integrity and leadership among adoption providers.

Will you travel to pick up your baby?
Yes. We actually will be traveling to Ethiopia twice during the process (flying in to Addis Ababa). Although we will not know our exact travel dates until the last minute, we do know that our first trip will be for our Court appointment with the Ethiopian Federal Courts and our second trip will be for our US Visa Interview appointment. On the first trip, we will go a few days prior to Court, spend time with our child (or children), and attend the Court appointment. If our child was relinquished by their birth family, this would allow us the opportunity to meet the family. Then it’s going to be tough because we’ll have to leave our child in the Hannah’s Hope orphanage in Ethiopia and come back to Sugar Land. Then 5-8 weeks later, we’ll travel again to pick up our child, go to the US Visa Interview appointment, and come home!

When can we meet him/her?
Through our adoption training, we’ve learned that it’s best to keep visitors to a minimum for the first few weeks. The main reason for this is to help form the attachment between our child and us as parents. Since orphans generally have several different caretakers who come and go, they are not used to bonding or attaching to one caretaker. After the recommended timeframe, we will gladly show off our child to the world!

Have you thought of names?
We will keep our child’s best interest in mind when deciding whether or not to change his/her first name. Social workers explain that changing an adopted child’s first name can potentially harm his/her sense of identity. Often times, the first name is the only connection the child will have to his/her birth mother. No matter what happens with the first name, we’re certainly excited about our child becoming a Huss!

What is the orphan situation in Ethiopia?
The country has more that 4.6 million orphans. Approximately 800,000 children have lost one or both of their parents to HIV/AIDS. Starvation and diseases such as malaria are other problems that have affected the Ethiopians. Orphaned children often become invisible to society because they are left with little choice about their own future. Orphans taken in by extended family often work on rural family farms and are therefore not able to go to school. Working is more a necessity than a choice. Orphans who do not have extended family go to orphanages run by the government or private organizations. Because most orphanages have little money, the orphans live in desperate conditions; nevertheless, these orphans are given food and clothing and they are able to go to school.

What if…?
There are no guarantees with adoption. We have no idea what the temperament of our child will be or how he/she will develop. We have no way to predict what the future holds. But there are no guarantees with children you birth, either. There are no guarantees anywhere when it comes to having children…or in life, for that matter. The child that God has chosen for us will become a part of our “forever family” just like children you birth. There is a "no return" policy, and for that we’re glad.

My Abster

Indulge me as I brag for a moment...I have 6 nieces and nephews (so far) and I am SO proud of ALL of them.  In fact, I find it hard to imagine what type of emotions I'll feel when I have my own children because I can't imagine loving a kiddo more than I love my nieces and nephews.  I just love 'em to pieces! 

Abby is the oldest of the 6 and she'll always hold a special place in my heart.  Although I don't get to see her very often now (because I moved to Texas), I spent a LOT of time with her when she was a baby and because of that I feel a special bond with her.  A few pics to explain (the snuggled up position was very common for the 2 of us)...

Here we are on her birthday (November 26, 1997)!

And a few years later...

And on her 5th birthday...

Abby will be a teenager this year (wow!) and I wish I could say that I played a part in helping her develop the creative talent that she has, but that couldn't be further from the truth!  I support her and cheer her on, but I don't have a creative bone in my body.  She does get it honest, though.  Abby's mom is my older sister, Jenny.  Jenny and I are the closest in age of all 4 of us girls, but we couldn't be more opposite when it comes to our talents/gifts.  Jenny is super creative--she can sing, she can dance, she can draw, she can...create!  And well, Abby has certainly followed in her mama's footsteps when it comes to her creative talents!

This is where the bragging comes in.  Here are some pics to showcase Abby's talents--and this is just a snippet...

She dances!

She sings & acts!

She draws & paints!

Your eyes aren't fooling you--this is a 16x20 in oil pastels that Abby recently did.  Isn't it AMAZING?!?!

Yes, people--she does it all!  And apparently I'm not the only one who is impressed.  As the "Webster Parish Most Talented Student 2009", she has been asked to have an exhibit of her various artworks at an upcoming festival; and was asked to provide three entertainment performances to showcase at her school and throughout the festival!

Go Abster!!