Tuesday, September 3, 2013

All Delighted People

A few weeks ago, our good friend Michael, who heads up the band All Delighted People (ADP), e-mailed Jon and me out of the blue about a concert ADP was planning at a bar in Deep Ellum.  He said: “You guys have always shown us great support, so we would like to donate whatever we make off of the door to you guys for your adoption.
Wow!! God continues to amaze me through this super weird, stressful, roller coastery thing called international adoption.  We still need well over $20K to cover the costs of the adoption plus travel expenses to get our babes home, and I could so easily freak out.  But, I’m not.  I’m trusting the Lord, and I’m resting in the knowledge that He’s got this.  Little, random, out-of-the-blue blessings like this are all the proof I need.
ADP Michael and Kristen
ADP Michael
ADP kristen
ADP tommy
ADP foot pedal
Here’s a poor quality video of ADP at Prophet Bar (loud, crowded bar, recording on my iPhone, blah blah blah), but it gives you a little taste of ADP’s music.  They are GREAT–musically gifted, solid worship lyrics–you should download their album here (FREE!).  Thanks for the love, Michael, Kristen, Mishaal, Abby, Tommy, and Jon C!!
***Shout out to my husband, Jon, for the photos!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

50 Years Later

"I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day...little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today."
MLK I have a dream

As we prepare to build our family, which will be all colors--black, white, and shades in between--Martin Luther King Jr.'s words, spoken 50 years ago (yesterday), are especially sweet to my soul.  

Let Freedom Ring, indeed.

MLK light and love

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Celebrating 6 Months at The Queen of Sheba


Our dossier (giant packet full of our background/financial/personal/adoption info) arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Valentine's Day, which means that, as of last Wednesday, we have been on the waiting list for 6 months.  To celebrate being that much closer to bringing our babies home, we had dinner at The Queen of Sheba, one of Dallas' Ethiopian restaurants.  (I'm learning how to use my DSLR camera, so the pictures aren't the best. Don't hate.)

queen of sheba sign

This is tej--Ethiopian honey wine. Basically the best drink ever.

Sambusa, a crispy pastry filled with meat

queen of sheba painting

straw table

Instead of using utensils, Ethiopians tear off pieces of injera and use it to pick up their food.
injera basket


The food is usually served family style, on a large piece of injera.  We had lamb, chicken, lentils prepared different ways, and veggies.
ethiopian meal

spicy and delicious!!

tej and injera

queen of sheba and solomon

A copy of a famous painting depicting Ethiopia's Queen of Sheba visiting King Solomon in Israel.  There are several thousand Jewish Ethiopians who trace their heritage to a son Sheba and Solomon had together.

Monday, August 5, 2013

New Project

So, in my last post I mentioned a project I was working on, and it's finally ready! 

In recent months I found myself wanting to write about things that aren't adoption related. Whenever thoughts and feelings and ideas came bubbling up from my heart that didn't feel right for this space, they were channeled elsewhere, usually into notebooks or my poor husband's ears.  

I decided I needed a new blog, a space where I (and others--blogging is all about community, after all) could discuss struggles, experiences, and ideas that aren't necessarily adoption related. 

Thus, after loads of thought and prayer and with the help of two awesome web designers, CompletelyCaroline.com was born, a lifestyle blog where I will write about anything and everything from eating disorders to shopping your closet. 
I'm not abandoning Bringing Them In; I will continue to post updates and other adoption related stuff here, so I hope you'll stick around.

Friday, August 2, 2013


YOU GUYS!!!  Our agency matched 19 precious little ones with their families this month, and we moved 16 spots on the waiting list! Moving 16 spots in one month is pretty much unheard of in the world of international adoption. At this rate, it looks like we might be getting our referral next summer or early next fall. Insane.

I've been staying at my parents' house the past several days as my mom recovers from pretty intense surgery. It's been wonderful to spend time with my parents and have lots of couch and movie time with my mom.  This little time out has also provided me with some much-needed time to work on a new project I'm pretty excited about... details coming soon.  

Saturday, July 20, 2013


This is the first time I've clicked the "new post" button in a long time... my apologies, folks (I've always thought saying "folks" was super cheesy, but sometimes it just kinda fits, ya know?).  

So, I complained for a long time about waiting to wait, and wanting to just be waiting already.  We've officially been waiting since Valentine's Day, when our dossier landed in Ethiopia.  We started on the list as #98.  On the first of each month we receive an e-mail with a list of the referrals (in case you've forgotten, a referral is when a child is matched with a family) that were given the previous month, along with our new number.  As of July 1st, we are #79.  There have already been well over a dozen referrals this month, which means we should be somewhere in the 60s when we receive our new number on August 1st.  We're moving down the list way faster than we thought we would, but we still probably have at least a year to go.

Some days, I forget we're even doing this... as awful as that may sound.  Although I keep up with our agency's facebook group daily and make statements like "when the babies come..." it still seems like this abstract, far off thing.  Kind of like dreaming about your wedding when you're 8.  

Friday, June 7, 2013

STUCK Fundraiser

For all of you DFW area friends, we will be showing the documentary STUCK at our church tomorrow, Saturday June 8th, at 6:30 pm.  Tickets are $10 in advance (you can purchase tickets at GarzaFamilyAdoption.com) and $12 at the door, and we will have free childcare!  

We would love to see you there!

Antioch Community Church Dallas
10163 Shoreview, Dallas Tx 75238

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Let's Talk About Fundraising.

I kind of hate it.  As a kid, whenever I was given wrapping paper or candy bars or cookie dough to sell, my mom would just buy it all.  Maybe she hates fundraising, too.  In college I was in a sorority for one day (the girls were being mean, so I left); when I was given the option to return the next semester, the fact that I would have to spend a large amount of my time fundraising for the sorority was one of my major reasons for saying "thanks, but no thanks" to the ladies of *** for good. I partly decided not to go on a mission trip to India with a friend in 2009 because it would have required fundraising (sorry, Katie). Jon and I planned to pay out of pocket for our mission trip to Detroit in 2010 (but our team members raised enough to cover our expenses, as well). Are you picking up what I'm putting down? Hate it.

When I started staying up late at night, weeping over the orphans waiting in foreign orphanages and my burning desire to adopt them, the constant, nagging thought in the back of my mind was "but the fundraising..."

I have great insurance through my job, y'all.  Trust me when I say it would be waaaay cheaper for us to have a baby than to adopt.  

Fundraising is awkward. It's humbling.  And, at times, it makes me feel helpless and a little pathetic. (I have new empathy for the poor suckas at NPR who have been running the longest membership drive ever for the past couple of weeks... they're coming uncomfortably close to begging now.) 

It doesn't help that a lot of people outside of "the church" can be pretty judgmental of people who fundraise to cover their international adoption expenses. Jon and I don't see it as being much different than fundraising for a mission trip--we're raising money to change these kids' lives--but for some people, it is the same as asking for money to cover the cost of your bio kids' births. We get that a few of you might feel that way, and I'm sorry if we've offended you in any way. In our community (church family), if people need money--or anything--we all rally together to give it. When friends needed money last-minute for the purchase of their first home to go through, we rallied. When families have had unexpected crises or needs come up, we've rallied. It's how we do.  Sometimes it really does take a village.  Also, one of the arguments I've heard (on random blogs, not from anyone we know) is that if you can't afford the cost of your adoption, can you really afford to raise kids? My answer to this is: do you have to be able to write a check for $12k-$30k (depending on the country) at a moment's notice to be able to afford raising kids? When we get our referral phone call, we will have a few days to come up with approximately (my math skills are meh--it's why I write for a living--and Jon isn't home) $17,200 to be able to sign the papers to officially, legally agree to adopt the kids. If we are only referred one child (it may be just one, but that's another blog post) it will be about $12,000.  

I try to live my life as openly and transparently as possible, and I'm an infamous over-sharer. I desire to know and be known, and I don't like for anyone to think badly of me (this may point to a people-pleasing problem, which is also another blog post). I worked at Barnes & Noble for a few months after Jon and I were first married. One night, at the end of my shift, $500 was missing from the register I had been working. Of course, that made me look super suspicious. I was so mortified and terrified of being falsely accused that I bought a cup of coffee and a cookie and parked myself in a chair, refusing to leave the store until that $500 had been found (hours later it was discovered that the manager had miscounted).  

Seriously, y'all. I don't like being seen as shady, or like I'm trying to pull a fast one. Fundraising for our adoption has brought up my fear of being judged in a big way because, when you're fundraising, people tend to scrutinize how you're spending money. So, I feel the need to constantly explain how we're spending money... Jon recently got a new car. It's a lease (Dave Ramsey just threw up in his mouth), Jon convinced the dealership to match the monthly payment he'd been making on his truck, and we're saving over $100 a month in gas now.  It's a financial win. But, we feel the need to constantly explain it to anyone who mentions the car, lest we be judged. (You have been warned: don't say "I like the new car" unless you're prepared to listen to a 10 minute speech.)  I want to wear a post-it on my butt saying the Anthroplogie skirt I'm wearing was purchased with a gift card and that my mom bought me those boots. When we went to England last fall, and when we go this fall, it's only because I get ridiculously cheap standby tickets through my job. And, when we're there, we sleep either in a camper in my grandparents' back yard or in hostels if we're traveling around visiting other family members. 

And, in case you're wondering, we have a separate bank account for our adoption, and I promise that every penny we raise through events, t-shirt sales, or donations goes directly into that account. We cover the costs of all of our fundraisers (our eat-in dinners, our t-shirts, etc.) out of our normal checking account, and we put everything we make into the adoption account. Also, we prefer to give something in return, so please--hire us to scrub your toilets (caroline), babysit your children (caroline & jon), or fix things around your house (jon).

We have a long road ahead of us (over a year of waiting and fundraising... gah), and I know I will have to make peace with my fear of/distaste for/hatred of fundraising.  God is sweet to the meet the needs of our hearts.  Yesterday evening I googled something and stumbled upon a few blogs proclaiming how tacky/evil/offensive it is to fundraise for your adoption.  I was crushed.  I walked away from the computer, checked the mail outside, and found this:

a sweet note (and check) from a college friend I haven't seen in years

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


Check out our newest fundraising venture: these awesome shirts custom-designed just for us!  They are $25 each, and we will cover the cost of shipping.  To order click here.  We also have toddler sizes available (please comment or shoot us an e-mail if you'd like to order a toddler shirt).  Thanks for your support!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Monster in the Corner

This is our tv.  Obscene, isn't it?  We bought it at Costco a couple of years ago.  In the atmosphere of a giant warehouse store, it looked normal to biggish (55 inches).  When we brought it home, lugged it through the house, and set it up, I took a step back and gasped in horror.  WHAT had we done?!  It is gigantic and ridiculous.  When people come over, I feel the need to explain and apologize for the blatant display of American laziness and materialism dominating our living room.  ("we didn't know it was so big! please don't judge us!")

Television has always been a pretty major part of my life, I'm sad to say.  Yes, as a little girl I loved to play with my toys and read, but I also loved me some tv, and, as an adult, my tv is pretty much always on.  I need background noise, and I'm not a huge music person (although I do listen to music all day at work--probably because I can't watch tv there).  Having my favorite shows on in the background as I cook, clean, and check things off of my to-do list at home makes me happy. 

Several months ago at church a guy for whom I have a lot of respect got up on stage and talked about using tv to create a false sense of community.  hmm.  As someone who's never been super social and who thinks of Felicity, Lorelei Gilmore, and the girls of SATC as some of her favorite people, what he said made me stop and think; not enough to actually cause me to change my tv-watching habits, but his words have definitely stayed with me, lurking in the back of my mind. 

I know that "screen time" isn't great for kids, especially kids who have sensory and attachment issues.  They need to be in the real world, with real people, exploring and playing and using their hands and their imaginations.  I have given a lot of thought to how my life will have to change once we have kids in our home, and, to be honest, it makes me a little anxious.  I've pinned loads of things on Pinterest to aid me in my quest to become that mother--the mother I want to be.  That mother doesn't spend hours watching Grey's Anatomy and Bones and Criminal Minds while her kids play alone.  That mother creates sensory activity kits and cloud dough for her kids and spends hours helping them finger paint and learn their letters and numbers.  

There are some women I know whose households are completely tv-free.  Now, that's just crazy talk.  But, while I don't think we will ever be a tv-free family, I am working on making it less of a focus.  A few Sundays ago when we got home from church I didn't plop down on the couch as usual, remote in hand.  Instead, I left the tv off, turned music on, and took care of some things that needed to be done.  I responded to e-mails I'd been ignoring, I worked on the blog, I sat down with Jon and made a fundraising plan (I'm feeling completely overwhelmed by the fundraising thing, by the way... more on that later).  It was nice.  It was needed.  Since then, I've also had a couple of tv-free Saturday mornings (just for the first few hours after I got up).  Those mornings have also been nice, and needed.  

Baby steps, people.

So, I guess part of the "waiting well" thing for me is working out my relationship with the monster in the corner.  While I'm not sure I'll ever be that mother, I sure as heck don't want to be the one who doesn't give her kids what they need because she's too concerned with her own comfort and entertainment.  

Thursday, April 4, 2013


Recently, on a blog, I read a warning to adoptive parents.  It basically said to be mindful of the fact that, when you bring your child/children home, he/she/they will be grieving intensely--in spite of your jubilation that he/she/they is/are finally home.  This blog post said to honor your child/children's grief, to allow them to grieve fully and completely, and to not be hurt or annoyed that they are in fact grieving and not necessarily jumping with joy and excitement at being "home." 

As someone who has experienced a traumatic loss, not allowed myself to grieve fully, and suffered the subsequent consequences, my response to this person was a whole-hearted WORD.  Amen. I hear that. 

Based on my own experience, I can attest to the fact that trying to skip over grieving--the ugly, gross, going-through-all-of-the-stages grief--is like trying to hold in vomit when you have food poisoning. You may hold it in for a moment, but eventually it's going to spew through your fingers and come out at random, inconvenient times.  

Case in point:  last week, while driving home from a fun dinner with friends, I saw a Jeep that reminded me of my best friend, Larissa's, car, and that sparked a conversation about Jeeps and their maintenance issues with my husband.  This led to about an hour of straight up, inconsolable sobbing.  What??!!!

Larissa, a few months before she died
You see, Larissa--my very best friend in the entire world, my soul sister--was killed in a cycling accident nearly 9 years ago.  At the time, I was still reeling from being left by my college boyfriend and, frankly, it was just all too much for my sweet little 20 year old self to handle.  I had a few moments of crying in my dorm room and in my car on my way to and from weekends at Larissa's parents' house, but, frankly, I didn't really allow myself to fully grieve.  Instead, I left for a study abroad program in England and busied myself with spending time with my English family, drinking unhealthy amounts of wine and hard cider, and kissing English/Irish/European boys.  My un-dealt-with grief came spewing out in other, often embarrassing and inconvenient ways, like my screaming at my roommates about using my travel coffee mugs and then collapsing in a heap on the kitchen floor, weeping over said mugs.  I totally skipped over that messy, troublesome grief thing; instead of allowing myself to feel, honor, and fully grieve my loss, I stuffed the feelings inside, put my chin up, and had the occasional emotional-vomiting episode--usually onto innocent bystanders.  Misrouted grief is the worst.

I still have a tendency to do the stuffing, chin-up thing.  In 2010 my father had a massive heart attack.  Aside from my initial crying from shock and fear, I became a rock.  I went into action mode--packing a bag for my dad, speaking with doctors when my mom was unable to, going on a massive grocery shopping spree for heart-healthy foods.  When my father was being wheeled into surgery for a quadruple bypass, and he moved his oxygen mask to whisper that, if he died, he wanted his ashes spread on his best friend's ranch, I nodded stoically ("of course! i'm on it!") while my mother and siblings leaned into the walls of the hallway and wept. 

It wasn't until a couple of days later when I became furious over something stupid and small and started beating my fists against my husband's chest as he tried to hold me that I realized, "oh, crap. I need to actually deal with what's happening to my dad."  Emotional-vomit spewing, people.

So, all of this is to say: please, for the love, please allow your adopted children to grieve.  Don't be so caught up in the "yay, you're homeness" that you ignore the fact that they've just lost their bio families, their countries, everything they've ever known.  Take some time to hibernate and give them a safe place to let it out.  Otherwise, you will find yourself cleaning up the emotional puke spewing through their fingers.  Usually at random and inopportune times, over trivial things.  Sometimes years and years later.  Don't be threatened by your kids' need to grieve.  Instead, be their soft place to land.  Honor their birth parents, their country, their bio families.  Let them grieve.  

Let's say you're not an adoptive parent (or an adoptee)--what have you neglected to grieve in your life?  I encourage you: spend time with the Lord dealing with this issue.  Allow Him to bring to mind the things you have neglected to grieve, the things that are still festering inside and threatening to spew through your fingers.  Spend some time crying and grieving with Jesus, and allow Him to heal those raw, wounded places in your heart.  That's the sweet, beautiful thing about this glorious, loving Father we serve--He wants you to be healed and whole.   After all, we can't begin the next chapter until we have completely finished the previous one.

***I feel it's important to note that my sweet Daddy has fully recovered and is back to wolfing down cheese enchiladas and vanilla milkshakes, Jesus help us.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Happy Easter

Isaiah 53

The Message (MSG)
53 Who believes what we’ve heard and seen?
    Who would have thought God’s saving power would look like this?
2-6 The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling,
    a scrubby plant in a parched field.
There was nothing attractive about him,
    nothing to cause us to take a second look.
He was looked down on and passed over,
    a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand.
One look at him and people turned away.
    We looked down on him, thought he was scum.
But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—
    our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.
We thought he brought it on himself,
    that God was punishing him for his own failures.
But it was our sins that did that to him,
    that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins!
He took the punishment, and that made us whole.
    Through his bruises we get healed.
We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost.
    We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way.
And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong,
    on him, on him.
7-9 He was beaten, he was tortured,
    but he didn’t say a word.
Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered
    and like a sheep being sheared,
    he took it all in silence.
Justice miscarried, and he was led off—
    and did anyone really know what was happening?
He died without a thought for his own welfare,
    beaten bloody for the sins of my people.
They buried him with the wicked,
    threw him in a grave with a rich man,
Even though he’d never hurt a soul
    or said one word that wasn’t true.
10 Still, it’s what God had in mind all along,
    to crush him with pain.
The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin
    so that he’d see life come from it—life, life, and more life.
    And God’s plan will deeply prosper through him.
11-12 Out of that terrible travail of soul,
    he’ll see that it’s worth it and be glad he did it.
Through what he experienced, my righteous one, my servant,
    will make many “righteous ones,”
    as he himself carries the burden of their sins.
Therefore I’ll reward him extravagantly—
    the best of everything, the highest honors—
Because he looked death in the face and didn’t flinch,
    because he embraced the company of the lowest.
He took on his own shoulders the sin of the many,
    he took up the cause of all the black sheep.

Sunday, March 24, 2013


Last Saturday, Jon and I attended the Dallas showing of STUCK.  The film was produced by the organization Both Ends Burning to bring awareness to the crisis that's building in international adoption.  The film followed the stories of three families, each who's adopted from a different country.  One of the families was in the middle of adopting from Vietnam when that country closed to inter-country adoption.  My heart ached for them as we watched their desperation grow as they fought to bring their son home.  After the film a couple from Arkansas got up and spoke about fighting to bring their daughter home from Guatemala for the past six years. They're still fighting.  For a family who's at the beginning of their international adoption journey, the whole evening was very sobering and a little terrifying.  However--heart-wrenching terror aside--I encourage you, beg you, to watch this film.  Even if you're caring for the orphan here in the U.S. or if adoption isn't on your radar at all, these kids are worth fighting for.  Check out the trailer below; you can watch the film in its entirety at http://buy.stuckdocumentary.com/.  

Contrary to popular belief that international adoption is "trendy" and that loads of people are doing it, it is actually becoming more difficult--more expensive, more complicated--which is turning a lot of people away.  Some countries are more difficult to adopt from than others.  Ethiopia has historically been one of the easier countries to adopt from, which led to the peak number of Americans adopting from Ethiopia in 2010.  But, check out the stats below from adoption.state.gov--even in 2010, only 2,511 American families adopted from Ethiopia.  Things started tightening up and getting a little more difficult in 2011, and you can see that nearly 800 less families adopted from Ethiopia that year.  The stats aren't posted for 2012 yet, but I'm sure they will be even lower.  For a country with approximately 5 million orphans, that's not a lot of kids being adopted.  

I pray that international adoption doesn't continue to become more and more difficult. Please watch the film, and sign the petition which the leaders of Both Ends Burning will be presenting on Capitol Hill this May.