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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Thanksgiving and Stuff

Sorry I have been behind on posting "real" stuff the last couple weeks. With our whirlwind Thanksgiving week and my 2nd job, most of the time I hardly have the chance to think straight.

If you would like to see some pictures we took at Thanksgiving, you can check out Paul's blog.

We left Medford, OR on Tuesday night at about 9:45 PM and arrived at Mom's house at 4:45 AM. (Note: Driving all night helps you realize you are not young anymore...) We were able to spend several hours visiting my dad on Wednesday (see picture on Paul's blog). I had not seen my dad since last Christmas, so it was very exciting to see him!

Thanksgiving day we drove up to my sister & brother-in-law's house in Everett. We had a wonderful time with family and AMAZING food! My brother-in-law, Alvin, does a great job with presentation, and everything tastes so good!

Although the trip was fast, I am so glad we went.

This year for Christmas, we are staying here in Rogue River. With my 2nd job, it will not be possible leave like we are used to. It makes me is hard living so far away from my family. It is much easier for the "1" to go see the "many". The problem is, the "1" can't afford to adopt a child and go see the "many" as much as the "many" expect them to. Does that make sense?

The dates are still a little up in the air, but my mom is planning a trip down here just before Christmas. I am really looking forward to that.

I am LOVING my Harry & David job!! Some people were confused, as they thought I was just working at the retail stores. Actually, the Harry & David headquarters, (Bear Creek Corporation) is in Medford, OR, just about 30 minutes from my house.

Last Friday & Saturday, I trained in a special class called "Blaster". Basically what I do is take business order spreadsheets filled in by businesses (small to VERY large), I format the spreadsheet and "Blast" it into the order system. You would be amazed at the generous gifts businesses give to their employees this time of year! And to think that some of these business have 1000+ employees!

We don't have any new information on our adoption at this point. As you can see from the ticker at the top, we have been waiting over 2 months for a referral. What is interesting is that there are families who have referrals from back on October 3rd and October 19th that are still not through the courts. The October 3rd group goes to court again on December 7th. It seems that there are some back-ups with the court and with the Ministry of Women Affairs. Please remember these 10 families are they patiently wait to bring their children home.

Love to you all!


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving News From Our Agency ~ Definitely Something to be Thankful About!

Dear Family,

I hope this email finds you well; I’m writing to update you about our agency’s different adoption programs and give information about new programs and areas of interest to our agency. This Thanksgiving season we have a lot to be thankful for – please read through this email to learn more about the work our agency has been doing.

Hague Accreditation Review

Our agency recently completed our Hague Accreditation Site Review. This is an important step for all international adoption agencies to receive accreditation by the United States Department of State. The reviewers that came to our agency were professionals involved with inter-country adoption; they commented we were one of the best organizations they had peer reviewed in the past 12 years. The peer reviewers told our board that America World’s staff operates with, “professionalism, knowledge, commitment and integrity.” Knowing our staff, I’m not surprised that other professionals would be so impressed. Adding Hague accreditation to our COA accreditation will place us among the best agencies in the country.

China Program

We’re still seeing a delay for families logged in with the CCAA. Thank you for your patience and please know we are doing all we can behind the scenes to speed up the process. We’re praying for families that are frustrated with their situation and we are hopeful that through our An Orphan’s Ticket Home campaign, more children will be identified and made available for adoption. You’ll be receiving an email from me about this campaign soon…so hang in there. Some good news in the China program is the continued increase in special needs and older children being adopted.

Eastern Europe Programs

The recent adoptions from countries in our Eastern Europe Program have also given us reason to celebrate. As most of you know, our partner agency in Russia received re-accreditation and since that time America World has been able to submit many dossiers, has received referrals and setup court dates for waiting families. In Ukraine, a steady stream of families has been traveling and completing adoptions. We’ve also seen increased interest in our Kazakhstan Program.

Ethiopia Program

I’m excited about recent developments in our Ethiopia Program. One of our long-time social service staff, Rachel Ward, will be moving from Nashville to Addis Ababa this coming January to help serve alongside our current in-country staff. Rachel has an MSW and will offer valuable service to the children and our staff by working for AW from Ethiopia. I’m also pleased to announce that we’ve recently started setting up a transition home in which the children can reside after their court date and before their parents travel to meet them. This transition home will allow our agency to work even closer with our in-country partners and provide care and love while children wait for their families. The Ethiopia Program has received a lot of interest in the past few months and it’s an honor to be able to say, “Congratulations!” to the many families that have recently received referrals!

El Salvador Program

America World Adoption’s staff in El Salvador has had fruitful meetings with the Salvadoran government and is encouraged by the proposed reforms their government will implement to change the structure and system for how referrals will be handled.

Vietnam Adoption

I’ve recently returned from Vietnam where America World Adoption hopes to begin a program in the coming months. I met with our in-country staff member as well as officials from the government to plan and organize our work with orphanages in Vietnam.

India Program

I am proud to announce that we are now working in India. We will begin working with families interested in adopting special needs children. India is party to The Hague Convention on Adoption and our agency has established relationships with different Christian orphanages that are eager to partner with us. America World Adoption received a license from the Indian government in July to begin inter-country adoption; since then, we’ve met with Indian in-country partners both in our office and in India. We have also had staff return from a three day-long conference on Indian inter-country adoption in Delhi that was promising for the work we hope to accomplish. Please email us at for more information.

Rwandan Adoption

America World Adoption has also just helped a family complete an adoption from Rwanda and will be helping more families in the future. We are only accepting a limited number of families to this program at this time. The ideal applicants to this program will be couples with less than two children in their home and where both parents are between the ages of 35 and 50. Families interested in this as a possible option should contact for more information.

White House Recognizes National Adoption Day

I was asked to speak at the White House Office of Faith Based & Community Initiatives’ Roundtable last week. My remarks focused on inter-country adoption and stressed the importance of the U.S. government partnering with faith-based agencies like ours to help speed up the adoption process. At the same event an America World adoptee, Sophia Ramirez, spoke about her experience being adopted from Ukraine three years ago. Her testimony was powerful and articulate; it was very impressive to see a fourteen year-old (who three years ago knew no English) stand in the White House and steal the show.

After the Roundtable, the White House held a reception for adoption advocates and the President and First Lady both spoke of the importance of adoption in American culture and the government’s commitment to supporting adoptive families. That same day, the President signed the Hague Adoption Convention with the expected effective date of April 1, 2008.

Happy Thanksgiving

We hope you have a great Thanksgiving Holiday with family and friends. Our office will be closed on Thursday and Friday so the staff can spend time with their loved ones. We truly feel blessed by God for the work He’s doing through our agency and we know we have much to be thankful for. Our agency is looking forward to the work set before us the rest of this year and throughout 2008. Our hope is that you will join us in prayer for the many families waiting to adopt and for the children waiting to be placed in families.

Brian Luwis
6723 Whittier Avenue, Suite 202
McLean, VA 22101
Toll Free: 888-ONE-CHILD ext. 113
Fax: (703) 356-8973

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

Friday, November 16, 2007

AWAA Transition Home is Ethiopia!

I haven't done much updating on the adoption front...mainly because there hasn't been much to update. We are still waiting for a referral and those who have received referrals are still waiting for court dates.

In the meantime, this email was sent to all the Ethiopia families this week:
Dear AW Ethiopia Families,

We are excited and pleased to be able to announce that the new America World transition home in Ethiopia is up and running. Last week the first 13 children, who were recently referred to families were moved from Kids Care to the America World home. The home has been equipped with all the major needs and staff have been hired, trained and are providing loving care. There are still many things needed to help make the home a nurturing and stimulating environment for your prospective children as they wait the arrival of their parents. Therefore, we are writing to let you know of some of these needs and how you could help meet them, if you desire to do so.

America World employee Rachel (Duckworth) Ward and her husband will be making a 10-day trip to Ethiopia before their official move there at the end of January 2008. So if you would like to donate items for use at the transition home, please have them mailed to or dropped off at the America World--Tennessee office by close of business on Wednesday, November 21st. Items may also be dropped off at the Corporate office in McLean. Rachel will be leaving for Addis on Monday morning, the 26th.

Here is a list of suggested items:

Classic children's books
Coloring books and crayons
Children's Bibles and/or Bible stories
Hand Sterilizer (large bottles)
CD players, children's worship CD's, lullabies, etc.
DVD player and Children's Videos (ie: Veggie Tales, The Wiggles, Praise Baby)
Rubber coated children's spoons
ABC and 123 learning materials for toddlers.
Tape recorder
Little cosmetic mirror
Baby blankets, regular ones and one with hoods sewn in
Towels/soaps and bath items
Jump rope
Inflatable balls,
Lace cards, beads to string on laces
Baby Tylenol, antibiotics, probiotics

If you would prefer to make a monetary donation, you may write a check to America World and send it to the corporate office in McLean. In the memo line, please write "transition home support," so that our finance department knows how to allocate your donation. Rachel will be able to use these funds to purchase items while she is in Addis.

If you have any questions about this project, please contact Rachel at Please mail donations to the America World--TN office at:
Attn: Rachel Ward
America World--Tennessee
256 Seaboard Lane, Suite G101
Franklin, TN 37067

Laurel E. Ludwick

The is pretty exciting news! I will continue to update as news comes so stay tuned.

I am an official graduate of the Harry & David Academy!

Last night I officially graduated from the Harry & David training academy!

As a graduation present, I got a jar of Harry & David Peach Preserves and a "Congratulation" balloon.

Starting Monday, I work my official real shift as a seasonal temporary employee in the Mail Entry department! As tired as I am from 5 straight days of 6 - 11 PM training, plus my day job, I am still SOOO excited about this new job. My husband thinks I am crazy to add another thing to the schedule, especially this time of year. What keeps me going is knowing that the extra money will really help us with extra adoption expenses and paying off my husband's foot surgery...ugh!!

So my schedule for Thanksgiving is Monday, Tuesday from 4:30 - 9:30 PM; then I am scheduled for extra training Friday & Saturday from 6 -10 PM. You see, I passed the Excel test when I was hired (yes, I am a computer geek and LOOOVVVEE to work with Excel spreadsheets), so they have me in a "Blaster Class", that pays more, and it a specialty with the Mail Order department.

So that is what is new with me!
I am so excited that next week is Thanksgiving!!!!! I get to go to Washington to see my family!!!!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

In loving memory of my Grandmother...

Today marks the 1 year anniversary of my Grandma's entry into Heaven.

I only wish that everyone would have had the priviledge of meeting such and amazing, Godly woman. There is not a day that goes by when I don't think of her.

I wanted to share this little bit of what I did at her Memorial Service...

I would like to honor the memory of my grandmother by sharing with you something special from my childhood. Wednesday morning I was looking for a mug to pour my coffee in. I pulled this little one with an alligator handle out of the cupboard. To most, this may just seem like an old mug, but to me holding this cup floods my heart with wonderful thoughts of grandma. You see, every time we went to visit grandma & grandpa I got to use my own special cup. When it was meal time or tea time, grandma would bring out my mug, and fill it with different drinks. My favorite was hot cocoa with LOTS of marshmallows. But what I remember most is not the physical drinks she poured in here, but the spiritual things.

Galatians 5:22-23 says “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.”

This cup overflows with grandma’s love. Her joy was contagious to those around her. She had unfathomable patience. Grandma was kind and good. She was so faithful to the Lord and to her family. Her gentleness and self control was evident in everything she said and did. She embodied what scripture refers to as living by the spirit.

Grandma’s life was devoted to serving the Lord and she did so in many ways. My prayer for you, family and friends, is that you would look at your own “cups” that grandma filled overflowing with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. That her example and witness would compel you to live your life as a testimony of what the Lord has done for you. I know beyond a shadow of doubt that my grandma, is enjoying the presence of the Lord today; dancing on the streets of gold, worshipping and praising the Lord. With no more pain and no more sorrow. Though I mourn for our lost, I rejoice knowing that my grandma is home with the Lord.

2 Corinthians 5:1-9 “Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.”

God Bless you all and have a good day.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Body Analysis & Jury Duty

I felt like I would be a good day to post a blog. :-)

This week was CRAZINESS at the West household. Melisma was here until Thursday. We had a great time with her and were very sad to see her go.

Monday I hosted BUNCO for the gosh-darndess best BUNCO group in the world! Even with my tiny little house, we had fun squeezing around. I made my favorite Chili & Cornbread with Peach Cobbler for dessert! Yummy.

I was summoned for Jury Duty for Tuesday - Thursday. I appeared on Tuesday and was basically sent right home. I was bummed! I watch those court TV shows and was REALLY hoping I would get to find someone guilty...he he he he. I checked back on Wednesday, and still wasn't call, but Thursday I was. I was so excited!! I went in and they randomnly selected 18 out of about 30 to be interviewed for the Jury, I was not in the 18. So again I went home.

Today, Friday, I went for my 2 week check up at Rogue EMC Body Analysis. I started the first week of October on a Whole Body Cleanse. This consisted of taking certain supplements and eating only things that walked on the earth of grew on the earth. This eliminated anything with preservative/additives. I did pretty well at it. I stopped drinking coffee and soda completely. When I went back on October 26th and weighed in 14 lbs. lighter! I was amazed but excited.

I then started the official Body Analysis diet. The first 2 weeks are a cleansing plan as well. I am only allowed certain fruits, vegetables and certain lean meats. After those 2 weeks, I lost another 6 lbs! I cannot even begin to express how exciting this is to me! It makes me feel so good, not just because I am losing weight, but because the food I am eating has a postive effect on my body.

So that is all I can think to say today. It isn't adoption related, but I don't want to let life pass by while we are waiting for our referral. Life starts new everyday, not just when something spectacular happens.

God Bless,

Saturday, November 3, 2007


Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you! You look like a monkey! And you smell like one too! He he he he he!

Today, November 3rd is my bestest friends' 27th birthday!!! She is the most amazing friend I could have ever asked for! We first met in Oak Harbor in February of 2001. By the time we left Oak Harbor in 2004, I couldn't imagine my life without such an amazing person!
She is currently traveling back from Mississippi after completing over 1 year a temporary job in Jackson. She is going to be at my house TODAY!!! I am making turkey dinner with green been casserole (her favorite) and, of course, Carmel Apple pie!

Ok, I just realized I need to get the house ready. I better go now.



Paul's Blog!

Hey everyone!

I wanted to announce that the addictiveness of blogging had rubbed off on my husband! If you knew how my husband felt about e-mail and the computer, you would understand how strange this is!!!! :-)

Paul had started a blog specifically for the church. The address is It is a work in progress, but be sure to check it out!


It's been awhile...


It has been quite awhile since I have posted anything, so I thought I would give you a quick update.

On the Adoption front: We are still waiting for a referral. The families who received referrals on October 3rd received courtdates on November 7th! It is so exciting, as they will be bringing their children home before Christmas! Talk about the most amazing Christmas present ever!!!! We have no quarantees of when our referral will be, but I do know there are several before us waiting. I am not sure how many of these are waiting for 1 boy. I guess that does make a difference in the wait as our Family Coordinator said there are more boys available than girls.

On the Home front: These last couple of weeks have been extremely busy. We finished up our October Missions Convention this Wednesday with Teen Challenge. Talk about amazing testimonies of what the Lord has done!

We had a surprise visit from my Great Aunt Dorothy & Uncle Dennis a couple weekends ago! They are traveling south for the winter, and ended up camping just 7 miles from our house! We had dinner with them and then visited at our house for quite awhile. It was such a wonderful time! I felt so honored and special that they would visit us. They are the first on my dad's side of the family to visit us since we moved here back in March of 2004. It helped to make me feel connected and important to the family...I have not experienced that since I was a kid.

On the personal front: This last week I was officially hired as a seasonal employee at Harry & Davids! I will be working my current job during the days, and working swing shift at H & Ds. All moneys made will go to pay for our adoption. I am so excited about working there, and have dreamed of it since the first year I moved here. It will make these next couple of month even busier, but helping cover the costs of the adoption is MORE than worth it!!

I will hopefully be a little bit better at posting more often. Thanks for checking in!