Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The End of October...

We have had a very eventful October.

The month began with some shocking news from Guatemala concerning the passing of the Ortega Law... and truly set our hearts in a downward spiral. However... we chose not to let our hearts become despondent. We chose to believe that God set us on this path - and we are trusting in His faithfulness to see us through until Sara is home. That choice has sustained us and kept our chins raised. God has been so faithful to us and has been a constant source of strength... we are truly very blessed.

We had a few friends travel to Guatemala to either visit their children or bring their children home... and were blessed with pictures of Sara nearly every week this month!

Here on the home front, we were kept busy with birthday parties, pig roasts, an unexpected visit from Jodi and the boys, countless major house repairs that all seemed to hit at one time... and the loss of a pet. Even if he wasn't really "ours"... we loved Spike (Mom and Dad's dog) and little McCaleb claimed him for himself the minute he came to live here. It's an amazing thing about children...they only see the beauty in things. They look at the heart... and not what's on the oustide. Spike was an old dog... he had some really bad open wounds that would not heal. He had a few other problems - and his quality of life had gone downhill considerably... but to the kids... he was all puppy, and they loved him dearly. McCaleb thought he was beautiful. We miss him. It's amazing that the loss of one dog makes 9 seem so much less than 10!

Finally the month ended... and it was time for TRICKS AND TREATS!

Despite everything... October turned out to be the beginning of a beautiful FALL. The leaves changed... the cold days returned... and a new season is upon us.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Finding Peace...

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God." Matthew 5:7-9 NIV

I have found myself in much deep and contemplative thought lately...and it's all about PEACE. We all want it - and yet it seems to elude us. I know it has felt that way for me for a while. It seems that there are times that you feel like you cannot possibly take ONE MORE THING... or you fear you might crumble. But then that "one more thing" comes along... and you find that you are still standing. When you begin any adoption... you can almost TOSS the concept of PEACE out the window. International adoption... absolutely forget it. Tim asked me not long ago... "Did you pray for patience, or what?" As seems to be the unspoken taboo... DO NOT PRAY FOR PATIENCE. Ask for grace... ask for mercy... but never, ever patience! My answer to Tim... "No Honey - we are in the process of adoption. This is how it goes." And basically, that is true. I find myself often amused at the people that begin the adoption process - and then find themselves incensed by the "waiting". We have so many other issues to deal with this time around... that the waiting is almost secondary.

Which brings me back to peace. I checked my email Wednesday and found my Daily Devotional from the Purpose Driven Life. It was called "The Conflict of Peace." The title caught my attention immediately. I don't often think of peace as HAVING conflict - but rather being a solution to conflict. But then I read on... "Peace is not the absence of conflict. In fact, true peace is only possible with conflict." (Jon Walker)

I had to laugh... given the last month or so that we have been experiencing... there must be a LOT of true peace being made around us lately, because conflict seems to abound. Between dealing with the IRS...Corporate Tax Time... the office... the adoption...the ceiling falling in at our house... the air being out (twice) at the building...our attorney being held "hostage"(that incident made YouTube)... waiting for the November 4th run-off elections to pass in Guatemala (so we could hear the final reading of the Ortega Law which literally holds our life in the balance)... FedEx packages that are not absolutely, positively delivered... ON TIME... and finding out we are losing our biggest tenant at the building. If true peace is only possible with conflict... I decided that we must be really PEACEFUL. But then I read on.

"God showed us this when, in order to open the path to peace with Him, he sent the Divine Peacemaker, Jesus, to die on a brutal cross for our sins. He initiated this peace plan, even though we were the ones in rebellion; He paid the price for our peace with Him... even though we fought against it." (emphasis mine) It goes on to say that we are all peacemakers - and that we are here to show others how to make peace with God, and with each other. However it offers more one more thing about peacemaking:

"As a peacemaker, it's vital to understand that there is a difference between peacemaking and peace-keeping. Peacemakers won't settle for a tentative peace..." it goes on to say "Instead, peacemakers are like the dentist C.S.Lewis speaks about in Mere Christianity. You go to the dentist because you have pain, and all you want is for him to stop the pain. But the dentist knows he must get to the root of the pain or the tooth will just keep causing problems.

Jesus is like that: We just want him to stop the pain, allow us to have peace, but He knows He has to get to the root of the problem or peace will be nothing more than a fleeting, fragile moment without conflict."

I thought of this... and I thought of all that we are fighting for in Guatemala. This is the same kind of situation. We could settle for a fleeting, fragile moment without conflict there... and in that window of time... many children would be able to come home. But in the end - that isn't really PEACE. True peace will be working through this conflict - to a permanent and a final resolution. One that will benefit the children - and one that will end their waiting.

I know many of you keep hoping for a post that we know more about Sara and about her situation. I only wish we did. Right now - all we know is that our case is back in court... and that at this time they are processing some cases. (It was especially terrifying for us when the Ortega Law passed, as we had been KO'd from PGN at that time) We have hope that they will amend the Ortega Law to include a "grandfather clause" that will allow all in-process cases to be completed. But we won't know anything about that until at least November 14th. However... I have a peace about the process. There is conflict - but I can see that there are hundreds and hundreds of families, and thousands and thousands of people all working together towards a permanent and true peace.
Sara will come home.
When, I don't really know. But we will continue to fight to see this resolved... and we are humbled and honored to have you along with us in prayer and petition.

**Thank you Amanda and Jeff for getting this picture of Sara for me on Thursday! We are so thankful that your Bella is coming home and we Praise God for that blessing!!**

Friday, October 19, 2007

String Music

OK... so flashback to March of this year. Ali was determined to tie her own shoes. Since I am left-handed...I was doing more harm than good. Tim had been working with her - but every time I tried to help... she took three steps back.

Since then - Rachel has been equally determined to tie her own shoes. The only distraction for Rachel is that once the weather got warm... all she would put on her feet were sandals. Once cooler weather began to roll back in... I knew it would start again. This time I decided to stay out of it. I was going to let Tim handle it. Tim had worked with her two or three times... and she kept bringing it up - and asking me to show her. I told her to watch...and to watch ask Daddy for help... and even to ask Ms. Cynthia to help when she was over playing. I guess we weren't helping enough. She came walking out of her bedroom on Tuesday with her moccasins tied. I just assumed that Ali had done it. She told me later that day, very casually, that she knew how to tie her shoes now. I said... No you can't. Rachel said - Sure I can. My reply...oh really??? She tried to show me... but the laces on the moccasins were just so short. We got busy, and she never brought it up again. The next morning, however, she decided to wear her tennis shoes. (Longer laces) She again told me that she could tie them by herself. She tried and tried...but the laces on those Nike shoes are round, kind of short...all in all she was getting pretty frustrated. It was close... but she finally gave up and asked me to finish them.

On Thursday...again with the shoe tying...and those frustrating Nike tennis shoes. So we swiped Ali's spare pair of K-Swiss shoes... with the nice long, FLAT laces... and she sat right down, tied her shoes and looked up at me, grinned and said, "CAN!"

She was so proud... and I was proud of her. She learned before she turned 5 years old... which was her goal. The funny thing is... when I talked to Tim about how well he had done working with her... he said he hadn't. He said that he explained it, showed her once (by sitting behind her) and that mostly she just watched him. That's the funny thing about Rachel. She sits back, kind of takes it all in, and then she masters a task with uncanny ease. It's amazing... and it sure does make me a proud Momma. At the same time... it's a terrifying thing. Always be on my toes... that's my new motto.
A big SHOUT OUT to TABITHA!!!!! Recognize the shoes or the shirt? Thank you for always keeping my girls looking so cute!!!! We love you!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Please Pray for the Rally Family

OK... I come to you all again with yet another prayer request. Our family has been blessed with so many wonderful friends on this journey of adoption. Some of them we know only on the phone or through email...others we actually get to meet and spend time with. Early in their adoption process, we were put in touch with the Rally Family. Initially they were thinking of going with Guatemala... but they decided to change to Vietnam. Their daughter was born May 19th, 2007... and they have named her Sydney. Ruth is in Vietnam now. She left to travel on September 29th... and they received Sydney around the 1st of October. However, things are not going well. I wish I had more details... but here is what I know:
Jennifer, hello from vietnam, hope this goes thru....i am praying for your adoption process. i really need your prayers because things r not going so well. been here since sept 29th, miss my kids and tom had to leave. many troubles with the last group of adoptive parents and paperwork investigations...some were not allowed to bring babies home, they wont issue visa's, am afraid that that will happen to us...what should be exciting has now been overshadowed with extreme fear and anxiety...i think i have lost 15 pounds, my pants wont stay on..(needed to but not this way) the last group has been here 5wks...i just want to take my baby home...i have her and am so in love with her...she was pretty sick, but we are on our way to recovery. i wll be devestated if we cant bring her kids will be too and my faith is being i need a saint like u to pray for our family...i am not as strong as you or as strong as God thinks i am. i forgot to bring your email, so i hope u get this. take care, love ruth
I wish that I could give you more details - but this is all I know. Ruth has a blog, but she is unable to post anything on it. I cannot imagine being 6000 miles from my home, my children and Tim... and have the stress of not knowing if I would be able to bring my baby home with me. Please say a prayer for Ruth - and for all the families that are there with her at this time.
Adoption problems, bureaucracy and red tape are not issues that affect only Guatemala. In the adoption world we hear about them all the time. There is no rhyme, nor reason, nor ethnicity that is subject to scrutiny more than is all sheer madness in my mind. We have families willing to open their hearts and homes to these children. We have children that NEED to be loved, cared for and adopted... and then we have the red tape. The investigations... the election strategies to close adoptions... the mismanagement of paperwork, of children being switched, of raids on orphanages... we hear of the baby smuggling in some countries... and yet, when there are children waiting... we cannot wrap our minds around the fact that still there is such a WAIT. I have said it before, and I will say it again - Adoption is not for the faint of heart. It is a hard, grueling, and emotional roller-coater ride adventure...and even knowing that before you go into it... it is still hard to keep your heart in check during the wait.
So many problems... so many issues... but nothing could be more terrifying than being where Ruth is right now... and feeling all alone. I ask you to please, as you go to bed tonight... and over the next few days... please remember this family in your prayers. They live here in Kentucky - and while I haven't had the privilege to meet Ruth face-to-face... I have spent a lot of time over the past year getting to know her over the phone and via email. She is a wonderful person, that loves her family and loves the Lord. Let's just pray this baby home... and unite this family once again!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Rumblings, Ramblings... and the Fish Face

This is a 3-part post. It's much more effective that way. I get to tell you my scoop, give you my thoughts for the day... and post adorable photos in the process. :) It's really a win-win for all of us. The first part of this post... is about the RUMBLINGS.

The Rumblings on the Internet are both good and bad. There is a post at that states:

Ortega, Amendments, & Campaigns
Latest and Greatest:
JCICS is reporting that the Hague permanent bureau is supporting allowing in-process to continue. This is excellent news for in-process families!

2.) The Guatemalan papers are reporting about amendments being offered to the bill and that the executive branch is not happy that the bill will undergo so many changes. The UNE party seems to be the one most supporting significant changes, or at least they are the ones saying that the bill in its current form has many issues.

3.) It does not appear as though the amendments will be voted on before the Nov 4th election. We are hearing it will be on Nov 14th. All parties in Guatemala seem to be agreeing that they must not allow the adoption law to become a campaign issue.

So this could end up being good news. It's still hard to say... so we want to ask for prayer to continue in this matter. At least until the final reading which takes place on Tuesday, October 9th. In the meantime... what can you do to help our family personally? Call Mitch McConnell's office 202.224.5968 and speak with Erin Hauer. Call Ben Chandler's Office and speak with Jim. 202.225.4706 (Sorry - don't have Jim's last name.) You need to give specific NAMES (Tim and Jennifer Hanks - in Paris, KY) and tell them that this does effect you personally, as you are relatives/friends/family/loved ones...whatever you want to say. JUST PLEASE CALL. Our Congress is one of the final hold-outs of supporting the "grandfather clause" amendment along with UNICEF in Washington. (Don't even get me started on all the money I collected as a child for UNICEF...)

As for my RAMBLINGS... they go something like this: I was riding in the car today with Tim and the kids. We were going to Sadieville to get some HAY. Tim's best friend Allen Smith lives there... and was KIND ENOUGH to take pity on the Hanks Horses... and gave us some hay. The reason that it was a family affair.. is because Allen and Angie just returned about a month ago from Guatemala bringing home their adorable daughter, Isabella. Naturally... headache or no headache... I was going to Sadieville. As we were driving home... I began to reflect on our lives...and all of our blessings. I met Allen in 1991, the same year I met Tim. It was a package deal... they were inseparable. Allen is one of those people that is loyal to a fault. He is kind, he is honest, he is funny... and I liked him immediately! Despite the many changes in their lives... marriage, family, work... Allen has always been around. It has been a challenge for me to BEAT Allen to be the first one to wish Tim a "Happy Birthday" each year. I promise you... I think this year was the first year I can remember doing that! I wonder now if the two of them ever had any idea 16 years ago... that their lives would travel the same journey... to the same country... to bring home such precious blessings!

It amazes me. It is something that I have talked a lot about with Cynthia... who has been my very dear friend... for more years than either of us care to admit. (We don't talk the "age" thing anymore.) ;) Cynthia and Adam have also journeyed down the path of adoption... all the way to China... for two very precious babies. Keegan and Romy are my kid's favorite playmates. I see them all together - and I think... "WOW - God! You are amazing!" Did we have any idea when we became best friends at the age of 10 that we would travel such similar and amazing paths? Did we know that at this point in our lives - and at this age we would both be parents of TODDLERS? No - we had no idea. but God always knew. He had a perfect plan... and he worked it all out for our good. He always does.

So... my ramblings end with this: I know that everything will be OK. I have a peace about that. (Initial meltdown aside -thank you Jamie, Cyn, Jane and Krystal for getting me through it- I have a peace about that NOW. Thank you everyone for your prayers.)

And here are a few photos of some of my very favorite people. I just wish we had Keegan and Romy in the group shot, too. (Too bad they are in Hilton Head. I bet they are just miserable there. Bah hah!) Someday soon we will have to have a big get together.

Oh the things I could tell these kids about their parents. HOWEVER... will I? NO WAY! They know way too much dirt on me! Enjoy the kiddos. The FISH FACE courtesy of Miss Isabella is my favorite.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


Today, Wednesday October the 3rd...The Guatemalan Congress passed the Ortega Law.

Birth mothers currently have the right to relinquish their child for adoption, to know who will care for the child during the process, and to know that the child is going to America. This law takes those rights away. Also, unless an amendment is passed, this law says that our adoption is now null and void. This law also says that the home in which Sara is currently receiving EXCELLENT care will no longer receive any funding from adoptions. It is currently 100% funded by adoption fees. The law provides no place for her or the thousands of children in this situation to go. The implementation date has not been set, but it could be as soon as 30 days. There is still hope for the amendment to allow our adoption to be processed under the law in which it was initiated, but this is a huge knock against us and other in-process families. We will not stop fighting for Sara, but the battle just got bigger. Please pray for the children of Guatemala.

(Thank you Krystal for allowing me to steal your words... when, for once, I find myself at a loss of words.) Fore more information:
Or see the post below...and join us in this fight!

Monday, October 01, 2007

WE NEED YOUR HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We need your help!!!
Guatemalan adoptions have been "under fire" for a long time now, but the threat of adoptions ending has gotten more and more serious. Now not only are we looking at the possibility of adoptions closing in the future, we are also faced with a very real risk that current pending cases will not be allowed to be completed. In response to this threat, the Joint Council on International Children's Services has created the Guatemala 5000 Initiative to help mobilize a response to the proposed changes. There are approximately 5,000 pending cases right now, so if "in process" adoptions are ended, 5,000 Guatemalan children could be left with an uncertain future. The Guatemalan government has NO infrastructure, NO budget, and NO PLAN to take care of these children. Guess who is 1 of the 5,000? That's right - it's our Sweet Sara!!!!
Please join us in the fight to make sure that pending adoptions are completed. Please go to this petition, read it, and sign it. Please pass this link on to everyone you know and ask them to sign.
I have copied the JCICS recommendations for calls and e-mails below.
Guatadopt has form letters that make it very quick and easy to make these contacts. I am sending ours out tomorrow (Tuesday) via e-mail.
JCICS Call to Action --What can you do?
Make six simple phone calls and one email.
1. Call your U.S. Senator.· You can find your Senators’ phone numbers at· Ask to speak with the Legislative Director or Chief of Staff.
2. Call your second U.S. Senator.
3. Call your representative to the U.S. House of Representative.· You can find your representative at . Ask to speak with the Legislative Director or Chief of Staff.
4. Call or fax the Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues· Their number is 202-736-9130· Their fax number is 202-736-90805.
5. Call or fax UNICEF Headquarter· Ask to speak with Ann Veneman, Executive Director· Their number is 212-326-7000· Their fax number is 212-326-77586.
6. Call or fax UNICEF Guatemala· Ask to speak with Manuel Manrique· Their number is 011-502-2327-6373· Their fax number is 011-502-2327.63667.
7. Send an email supporting Intercountry Adoption to
Write briefly or at length. Joint Council will use the cumulative email petition in our advocacy for Intercountry Adoption.
When should you call?
Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday (October 8th, 9th 10th)· For maximum effect, we are asking you to make these calls within a 72 hour window!
What should you say?
Speak from your heart and give them the following information.
  • The Guatemalan government has announced that all adoptions with the U.S. will be suspended on January 1 2008.
  • Their announcement also indicated that there will be no ‘grandfathering’ of adoptions already in process.
  • If children referred to families are not allowed to be adopted, they will languish in institutions or foster care.
  • Your office must get involved and sign the CCAI sponsored letters to the President of Guatemala and UNICEF. These letters ask that all adoptions in-process as of January 1 2008 be allowed to processed to completion under the existing notarial laws.
  • Your office should contact the Office of Children’s Issues at the Department of State. Their number is 202-736-9130.

Can you explain the problem behind the pending crisis?

Here is some additional information…

  • Guatemalan President Oscar Berger has announced plans to effectively stop all adoptions into the United States including those children who have already been referred to adoptive parents.
  • Over 5,000 children have been referred· The birth parents for these children have already relinquished their parental rights. As a result, they currently have no family and the Berger suspension will result in these children having no prospect for a permanent, safe and loving family.
  • The government of Guatemala currently does not have the finances or facilities to even provide housing for these 5,000 children.
  • The Berger plan is a crisis waiting to happen.

I know that this is a lot of info - and a huge request. But you all know the blessing that these children are to each and every one of us. I have a huge burden on my heart for these children... for ALL of them. There are so many that we have met and fallen in love with along the way... and our hearts break thinking that some of these children will never be coming home to their families.

Please join with The Hanks Family in working to get these children HOME, and to work to keep the Guatemalan Adoptions open... for the thousands and thousands of children that are still in need.

Thank you!