It’s Erin!

Hello, everyone! My name is Erin Gowin and I am fifteen years old. As you probably know, Michael and Suzanne are my parents. I’m so excited to start this blog and communicate with y’all!

Okay, so here’s some stuff about me: I am the second oldest in my family. I love helping others. My favorite color is silver, and my favorite food is fettuccine alfredo (thank you, spell check). I play basketball and the saxophone, and I’m in competitive theater. And, after high school, I plan to attend LCU where I’ll train to be a missionary.

Ever since I went to Ethiopia (twice), I fell in love with everything about Ethiopia. If I had three wishes, the first one would be to go to Ethiopia. And live there forever. The second wish would be not to get airsick. 🙂 Third wish? Never to have to worry about funds for missions that I do. You know that feeling you feel when your grandma drives away and you know you won’t see her for a long time? I feel that every day. Some days, I feel like crying, I miss Ethiopia so much. (Also, I’m a teenage girl.) I love everything about Ethiopia— the food, the wonderful people, the dirt roads with huge potholes, even the smell. I don’t know why; my friends think I’m crazy.

But, here’s the thing: I get to go on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic this summer! I’m so excited!! I know this trip will prepare me for my calling as a missionary, and it will be incredibly fun! But, these trips cost a lot. So far, between babysitting for a year-and-a-half and detasseling last summer, I have raised about $1000. However, I still have $1000(ish) to go. Any way you want to help would be amazing. As lots of teens say these days, “You do you.” 🙂

I will keep y’all posted on how much I still need. I’ll also post lots of pics from my trip to the Dominican Republic. And, I want to keep this blog going past the trip as well. Ever wondered what it’s like to be a Gowin? I’ll tell you what’s up. 🙂

Thanks so much for supporting me! Y’all rock!

P.S. I say “y’all” a lot. I’m not really country; I don’t know. See why my family thinks I’m weird? 🙂

Another Gowin announcement…

Well, I always said I wanted to have a football team…..

….never in my wildest dreams did I think we would BE the entire 11-person team!! (Why couldn’t it have been tennis?!?)

Yes, those Crazy Gowins are adopting again!  But you already knew we were crazy, right? What’s three more kids???

When we found out that Kieran had three younger siblings, we knew it was a possibility that they would eventually be put up for adoption too. As much as we hoped and prayed that they would be able to stay with their birth father, though blind, only he could know how difficult it would be continue to provide for them on his own.

So now that we recently found out Kieran’s siblings were at the orphanage, how could we not pursue them? We have prayed and asked God what is best for them (other than not to have to be in this situation in the first place) and for our family, and we haven’t come up with anything other than the fact that they deserve to be together.

What would you do?? How would you answer to God on this one?

Well we are answering “Yes!”

Are we scared?


Are we going to screw up as parents along the way?


Do we wonder how the finances will pan out?


Do we wonder if we need another bathroom?


Will we need to buy a bus?


Will it be good for our kids already in our family?


Will people think we are nuts?

Absolutely!  YES to all!!!

When we wonder, we come back to these verses of Scripture:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Cor 13:4-8)

As Brandon Heath’s song “Love Never Fails” says, “Love does not run. Love does not hide.” Maybe our flesh would be tempted to run and hide from this situation, but we know God has got our backs. Jesus ran straight TOWARD people in difficult circumstances. How can we tell Him that we won’t? That we don’t trust Him enough? “Lord, to whom shall we go? You alone have the words of eternal life.” (Jn 6:68)

Once when I cried and begged God during LCU’s Christmas in the Chapel program, “Why?? Why us? Why them?”, he answered me: “Because of Your Tender Mercy.” That’s why. The end. Amen.

OK God. You’re the boss.


So how are we going to manage this??

When Jesus and the disciples fed the 5000, Scripture never praised the disciples for their budgeting and operations management abilities. It was simply ALL GOD. At this point we are way past our abilities, and our prayer is that God is glorified because people will know that ONLY GOD could be making this work!

So this time around there have been no lightning bolts from heaven, no audible Word from the Lord through people or movies as with last time. (And I am NOT going to tell you that God spoke to us through a Three Stooges movie. No, I would not tell you that. That would just be anathema.)

This is simply pure and unadulterated religion.

God has a special place in His heart for the vulnerable and alone, the orphan.

God wants our hearts to imitate His.

There are three orphans who desperately need a home and need to have at least one loss, the loss of their big brother, taken away.

We have room in our home.

We only live one life and it should be lived for Him first and foremost because what else really matters??

We have been blessed to be a blessing.

Why should we not fill every square inch of our home that God has blessed us with?


So where are we in the process?

We have prayed and fasted and asked some of our amazing prayer warrior friends to be on their knees about this decision with us over the last several months, and we have all come to the conclusion that we at least need to try our best to make this happen. However, just after we decided yes, Ethiopia began making announcements that they might shut down their adoption program. But we kept forging through, even already sending thousands of dollars toward the process, not knowing if it all would be lost. It’s God’s money in the first place, right? We can’t let a silly thing like money stop us…. (Since then Ethiopia has decided to keep the program open, but with some changes to make sure everything is safe for all involved.)

God’s hand has been at work with the paperwork and we were able to get it all done, including a new home study written with a new agency, in three weeks!! We have waited on some approvals, and then yesterday our home study was sent to the State of Illinois. After state approval (provided we’re granted approval), all of our paperwork will go to Ethiopia and we will begin the Homeland Security paperwork, etc.

We were going to wait until “after the first trimester,” after we had state approval, before we made our announcement. But we feel this is the part where we need the biggest amount of prayer so we are sharing this with you now. Passing the state will be one of our biggest hurdles because we already have a large family and we are asking to make it bigger. They are leery of this (as they should be) because they have seen many families fall apart in this type of situation. But our social worker has done a wonderful job of explaining in our home study our experience and our training, and hopefully that will prove to the state that with God’s help, we can do this!

This is where you come in. Please pray over the next month or so that our home study is approved quickly by Illinois. The quicker we get through this stage, the quicker we can get these kids in our home where they belong, and out of the orphanage.

And of course pray for finances along the way. But God “owns the cattle on a thousand hills” and money is nothing for Him! He’s got a plan, I’m sure of that part!  (You do have a plan, right God???)

Chris August’s song “Unashamed of You” can announce our news for us this way:

Everybody ought to know…
I will sing about your love
I will shout it to the sky
I will tell of what you’ve done when people ask me why
I live my life this way, I’ll say that I am unashamed of you….

Interview with the Springfield State Journal-Register

As we continue to raise funds to bring Kieran home, Suzanne made plans to have a booth at the Lincoln Balloon and Art Festival where we could sell our 147 Million Orphans gear. Our good friend Betsy made plans to get Suz an interview to help spread the word, and that interview was featured in the State Journal-Register today. It’s really well done–we’re grateful for the good press and writer Theresa Schieffer did a terrific job.

If you’re in Lincoln this weekend, stop at the airport and visit the booth. Some friends will be minding the store in the afternoon and Suz will be there tomorrow evening. They’d love to see you.

Here’s an “action shot” of Suz at the booth tonight. Blessings.

Suz works the booth at the Lincoln Balloon and Art Festival

Court Date: July 25!!

We finally received the long awaited call that our court date in Ethiopia has been scheduled for July 25!  We are very excited to meet our 15 year old son!  (Good thing we were married 16 years ago!  Ha ha!)

We will be leaving the US a few days early to travel to southern Ethiopia and see where Eva was born and Aidan spent his first several years.  We would like some context for us and some pictures for him.  So we will likely fly out about the 17th.

We still have quite a bit of funds to raise, so please consider visiting our Fundraising tab above so see how you can help us with that.  Most of all, please pray that we soon receive the I-171 paper we need from the US Homeland Security, and that we pass court before the two month Ethiopian court closure (due to the rainy season!) in August and September.  We want to make sure the whole process is taken care of before he turns 16 so there is no doubt whether he can come home with us!

Waiting on an Embassy Date

Waiting... © 2010 Michael Gowin

If there is anything predictable about the unpredictable journey to international adoption, it’s the waiting. While there is a prescribed path to follow—paperwork, homestudy, dossier submission, referral, court, embassy—there is no consistent timeline. After you pass one step, you learn that you’ll have a wait before you reach the next one. How long? Anybody’s guess.

Since we passed court a couple weeks ago, we’ve been waiting to learn of our assigned embassy date. It’s at that point that we’ll travel to Ethiopia again to get visas for the kids and bring them home. We’re expecting to receive word on that today or tomorrow. While we’d hoped to have an embassy date at the end of December, it’s now more likely that we’ll travel at the beginning of January. There are pros and cons to both scenarios but the waiting is hard nonetheless.

In the meantime, friends have asked how they can help. Here are a few suggestions:

Pray for us – Pray that we’re able to coordinate flights and get tickets when we need them, hopefully with seats together on the planes.

Pray for the kids – Pray that Erin, Eva, and Aidan will be healthy while we travel. Pray that they will adapt to their new lives here in the States and that they will feel welcomed and loved by their new family. Pray that Liam and Maura will do well with Grandma while we’re gone.

Pray for our friends – One of the families with whom we traveled, the Flemings, passed embassy today and will be traveling home with their new son. Two other families, the Smiths and the Laughners, learned that they passed court today and are also waiting for an embassy date. As I’m writing this, the Davidsons are still waiting for word on passing court. UPDATE: the Davidsons did not pass court today; still waiting on their MOWA letter. Please pray that these families’ cases will move through the system in Ethiopia so that God’s will may be done.

Give toward our expenses – We will likely spend around $10,000 (or more) on airfare and travel for our next trip to Ethiopia. If you’d like to help us with that, you can make a tax-deductible contribution on our behalf to Lifesong for Orphans. Please make checks out to Lifesong for Orphans with “preference Gowin #1206 adoption” in the memo and send them to:

Lifesong for Orphans
PO Box 40/202 N. Ford St.
Gridley, IL 61744

Lifesong can also accept contributions through PayPal if that’s easier. On the Lifesong donation page, scroll down and click the yellow Donate button. Remember to indicate “preference Gowin #1206 adoption” in the “Purpose” field on the PayPal form.

If you’re not concerned about the tax break, you can write us a check or contribute directly through PayPal by clicking the yellow Donate button below the puzzle pieces in the sidebar to the right.

Give a gift to help orphans and others in need – Consider giving a gift to Lifesong to help other families adopt. World Vision, an organization which we’ve supported for over 15 years, publishes a gift catalog that allows you to choose how your contribution will be used. Our family looks forward to this every year (I’ll have a post about this soon).

Thank you again for your continued interest in us and our family. We’re grateful for the ways God has blessed us through the many of you who’ve prayed, encouraged, and supported us on this journey. We hope to have news of our embassy date shortly and will share that with you all as soon as we can.

Gowin family

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The Puzzle is Finished!

Our puzzle is finished!!  Thanks to everyone who donated!  Our puzzle donations paid for the bulk of our referral acceptance.  We still have about $12,000 or more to pay for our two upcoming trips (one time for our court date, possibly in October) and one time for our Embassy date and to bring them home (hopefully before Christmas!!).  The kids had a great time working on the puzzle—we’re almost sad it’s done!

We are currently getting the puzzle framed so we can put it up in our upstairs hallway.  I have some verses I want to put above it and I can’t wait to show you!  The matting we are putting around it will be white on the back side, so if anyone still wishes to donate toward our adoption, we will write your names on the back of the matting since the puzzle pieces are filled.  What a great problem to have!  Donation information is located on the blue Fundraising tab above.


Puzzle update, family trip, & 4th of July

We met our match! Lifesong for Orphans had offered us a matching grant up to $2000 and we have received more than that in donations, so Lifesong will be granting us an extra $2000! Thanks so much to all who are supporting and praying and to Lifesong’s generosity! Here is our updated puzzle….do you see it starting to take shape??


We won’t be updating the puzzle for another 2 weeks because we will be going on a family trip to OK. The first part of our trip will be 4 days at New Life Ranch‘s Family Camp. We are excited to spend some time at the camp I worked at one summer almost 20 years ago! (Hard to believe I’m that old, I know!) There are ropes courses, zip lines into the river, archery, horseback riding, hiking, as well as family worship times and a late night outdoor movie. We are looking forward to some family bonding time away from Wi-Fi and cell service! 🙂 Soon, when our other kids come home from Ethiopia, Erin, Liam, and Maura know that there will be a bit more attention on our new kids as we bond and learn to communicate with them. So we thought it would be a good idea to spend some quality time with them now as extra reassurance of our love for them and each other. After family camp, we will go on to visit my family in OK for a few days and then head back home to Lincoln.

We hope you all had a blessed 4th of July! The kids had a great time decorating their bikes and riding in our local parade, ending with the fire truck hose down, of course! These are great memories to savor! (Please excuse the iphone photo! And, shhh, don’t tell photographer Michael–he would be appalled! Be sure to notice the hero cape on our youngest–she FLEW that day!)

Father’s Day and Puzzle Update

We had a great Father’s Day today!  Among other things, we celebrated with Frosty’s at Wendy’s because they were donating $0.50 to the Dave Thomas Foundation for every Frosty purchased this Father’s Day weekend!  Dave Thomas started Wendy’s and has a great organization that helps find permanent loving homes for children in foster care.

Here’s Michael’s new adoption/Africa t-shirt purchased through Ryan and Ashlie Fulmer‘s adoption fundraiser. (Pic taken with iphone :))  Ashlie is in Ethiopia right now with her baby boy Easton!

And here is our weekly puzzle update!  Every piece of the puzzle represents $10 that has been donated toward our adoption since we sent letters out in May.  Getting closer to Africa…..!!  (Click on the puzzle button at top right of the blog to see past updates.)


Puzzle Updates

For those of you searching to see how our puzzle fundraiser is going, I apologize for taking so long to update our blog.  I have begun work on my thesis for my MA that I started 15 years ago, which has taken a bit of my time the last couple weeks.  I will blog more about the thesis at a later date, but please pray for inspiration and perseverance as I write.  I am researching and writing an exegetical study on God’s heart for the fatherless.  It will be a long process, but one that I feel God has convicted me to do, and one that I am excited about!  If it is truly His idea, then I believe He will see me through for His glory!

I am checking in with Lifesong weekly to get updates on the fundraising, and here are the first 2 weeks’ puzzle pictures (Each puzzle piece represents a $10 gift toward adoption expenses — Michael):



It may be hard to see but we have Ethiopia done!  🙂  The kids are really enjoying being involved in this as well.  Thanks so much for those of you who have donated!

Fundraising–the first pieces to our puzzle!

We are in the fundraising portion of our adoption.  There are several ways to help us out–something for everyone!  We are selling coffee, naming puzzle pieces, and working with Lifesong for Orphans to meet their match offer of $2000!  Click here to read more details on our fundraising options.  If you did not receive a letter from us in the mail, you may view our letter here as well as the official Lifesong letter that goes with it.

I wanted to highlight here our first puzzle pieces that you can see on the right of our site.  For every $10 donated towards our adoption, we will write your name on the back of a puzzle piece.  Our kids were eager to get started on the puzzle and eager to help with our adoption, so they each donated half of their birthday money to help bring their siblings home.

Our “bio kids,” as they are called in adoption world, are ages 6, 8, and 10.  They have been so excited all along the way about our adoption!  Liam talks about when “my boy” will be here.  Maura, the youngest, often suggests that she has “outgrown” a certain toy or clothing item, but that we should save it for “our baby” coming.  And of course our firstborn, Erin, has offered multiple times to “help take care of the kids”!  There has never been a moment where we sensed that they were hesitant or concerned about our changing family structure.  Now, granted, they are young and don’t truly realize what all will change–none of us do, for that matter!  And we have tried to be honest and explain that when the kids come, there will need to be extra attention paid to our new children to assimilate them into our family and our culture and even our language.  But we have promised to make an effort to spend some special times with each of our children individually.  In fact, we are going to an adventure camp this summer called New Life Ranch down in OK for some extra family bonding time before our family as we know it changes forever!

We are so proud of our kids!  It is obvious that God has put adoption on their hearts as much as on ours!  God is weaving our family into a beautiful multi-colored tapestry and we can’t wait to experience “even more than we can ask or imagine”!