Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Ethiopia Trip Day Five: Finishing Up... Part 2


After the feeding program we spent the rest of the day touring Addis Ababa. Abel took us up the mountain to see the view of the city. It was such a beautiful view... but that is not what struck me on this trip up. We stopped the bus half way up and took pictures. While we were there, little boys would come up to us and try to sell us things or were simply asking us for money. Some would say, "No father, no mother, give money." Talk about breaking your heart. I wanted to give all I had, but we were told not to. We could purchase from them, but they did not want us to encourage the begging. Some of the guys played soccer by the roadside with the kids and they really enjoyed that. After we took pictures from the mountain side we loaded up the bus and tried to make it up the rest of the way. There was too much weight in the bus to get going and it would roll back. The kids would put wheel chalks behind the tires so it wouldn't roll down the hill. Finally, we all unloaded the bus and walked the rest of the way up. We were quite winded and sweaty when we reached the top, but it was fun. At the top of the mountain there was a village. It was a very poor area. There was also a museum and an orthodox church as well as the first palace of one of the emperors. We toured the museum while Abel gave a history of the area. It was a small one roomed museum where no cameras were allowed. (The Orthodox Church on the mountain)
Outside the church were people all around. There was one lady yelling at us.. "Americans" and then she would wave her hand at us. I asked if she was angry that we were there, but Abel said she was mentally ill. I laughed a little, but soon found out that Ethiopians bring their mentally ill to the church to cast out the demons. He told us to ignore her. We then toured the palace, which is really not a palace that we would think of. It was very small and was made of mud. Later in the day Abel showed us his second palace which was enormous, quite different from the first. We saw the first eucalyptus tree that was planted there. It was HUGE.
(That is me standing in front of the tree)
After we were finished we went back down the mountain. On this road were several women with large bundles of sticks on their backs (about 40 pounds) that they had collected at the top of the mountain and they then walked back down the mountain to sell the wood for 25 cents a bundle. A lot of work for so little a profit. It was amazing how hard they worked.
After the mountain trip, we went back down to finish up some shopping. We then went back to the guest house to finish packing up to go home. Birtukan fed us our last supper there and then we headed to the airport for the LONG journey home. We were suppose to leave at midnight, but our flight was delayed until 3am. YUCK. Once we got to Amsterdam our flight was delayed again for another 8 hours. We didn't arrive into the US (Minnesota) until 10pm but we had already missed the connection to Indianapolis. They put us up in the hotel and then we had to be back at the airport for a flight at 7am. Needless to say, we were EXHAUSTED from the journey home. We will not be flying Delta/KLM in the winter EVER again. They were so unorganized and not helpful at all. But, the trip was worth it all to see our baby girl. We miss her already and can't wait to bring her home!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ethiopia Day Five: YM Feeding Program (Part 1)



Today was a day that I will never forget. All week we had been hearing about Birtukan's feeding program. On Saturday mornings Birtukan's ministry feeds hundreds of orphan children. We were soooo looking forward to witnessing this in person. I mentioned in a previous post that we decided to sponsor a child. Well, Birtukan had the child and her mother brought in from her village to meet us! After breakfast we went to the YM offices and met Birtukan's husband as well as Joseph, one of her social workers. We listened to a short presentation about the program and how it is so much more than a weekly feeding program. They help educate the children, provide for their medical care, teach their care givers a trade, provide meals throughout the week, etc. They teach them a weekly Bible lesson before their meal and then play. Outside after our meeting was this beautiful girl and her mother! Etsub. She was very shy and tentative, but happy. She didn't know what to think and I didn't know what to say to make her more comfortable. But she told me that she likes to jump rope (so guess what I am taking with me when I go back!!! I am also loading up a backpack for her with lots of goodies.). She touched my heart in a way I can't describe. She had a sore on her lip that I noticed and I prayed in my heart that the Lord would heal her.

Soon after our meeting, we all loaded up in the bus (including Etsub) and we drove to the feeding program. The road we went down was not fit to walk on let alone drive a bus. But that didn't stop our driver... down we went! The gate was opened and the kids were soooo excited to see us. They all ran up to us and would say... Hello, my name is _________. They were so proud of the english they knew. Everyone soon got in line for their meals, the youngest first. They loaded their plates with injera. Some of us helped with the water for the kids. They wanted their water filled to the TOP. It made me laugh because we are so careful here at home with how full we put our cups, but they wanted them FULL. I loved looking around and watching the kids interact. There were several adults there (many of them parents of the children). Andy spent a lot of time with one elderly grandpa. He was so grateful to meet us that he said we were God. Andy said, "No, I am your friend." He fuddled the translation and meant, "We are LIKE God" meaning God sent us and they were so grateful. What a special man. I played with several children and one girl in particular. She thought I was her sponsor. She just captured my heart. Her mother was so beautiful and kind. THey loved seeing their picture after it was taken and the video too. It was soon time to leave and Etsub had to go early. I felt so bad that I didn't have anything to give her but I had put several pieces of gum in my pocket. I tried to give them to her, but she was shy. She finally took one. A little girl with nothing only took one tiny piece of gum. I grabbed her hand and put all of the pieces in her hand. She smiled!!! I cried when she left because they few pieces of gum were like gold to her. Things that we take for granted and our children in the states think is minimal. They just don't get it. I saw so much this day that is etched in my mind forever. A little boy about 4 was funneling water from a pipe into a jug to carry to his family. He was only wearning some underwear. Women who watched their children eat while they went hungry. Boys who were soooo excited because they got a granola bar. A crippled man crawling on his arms with his legs strapped to his back. Donkeys walking down the street with no one watching them. So many life changing images I will never forget. Lord, help me not forget what I have seen and help me to make a difference.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ethiopia Day Four: Court Day

Andy and I with Sisay after we had passed court


This is the day that we anticipated for MONTHS!!!! I woke up at 1am and could not sleep so I read some of my book. Andy woke up about 3am. It was such a peaceful and beautiful morning. I wasn't nervous just looking forward to the adventure that lay ahead. We were able to view the sunrise over the mountain from our bedroom window. I must say I don't see many sunrises, so I really enjoyed watching it. As we got ready that morning, we found out that everyone else had gotten up around 3 as well. Something in the air I guess. Birtukan made us homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast with our usual fruit smoothies!!!! YUM. I wish I was there now so I could eat her food. Abel soon arrived and we were off to pick up another family at their guest house. We soon arrived in front of the court building, which looked nothing like our court houses. Sisay, our court liason, met us at the door. As we walked up to the building, a man carrying a package approached Sisay and showed him the envelope. Sisay said, "That is the license." We didn't think anything of it as he and the man walked up the stairs ahead of us. As we sat in the hallway awaiting our turn with the judge, I saw him open the envelope. We soon learned that the judge had requested the original license from Shalom in Awassa! Bethany sent a courier 4 1/2 hours one way to get the license (overnight!). He arrived the same time we did! Had we gotten there any sooner, or if he had been delayed, we would not have had the appropriate paperwork to pass court. God was literally ONE STEP AHEAD of us. The waiting room was FULL of adoptive families with only enough chairs for about half, so we sat on the floor in the hallway. They soon came out and called the name of our orphanage which meant it was our turn. One by one they would call the name of the child and the adoptive families would go in to the "judge's chambers" which was more like a small office. It seemed like forever before they called for our daughter. Andy and I walked into the room and Sisay stood behind us. There were chairs against the wall and a lady sitting in front of the chairs, but the judge was sitting at a desk to the left of us with stacks of papers. She was an extremely beautiful Muslim woman. She began asking us questions... Do you have other children? Have you met your child? Is this the child you wish to adopt? Do you know this is FINAL? Are you prepared for cultural identity problems that may arise in the future? Have you prepared for an adoptive child? Of course, we answered yes to all of the questions. At the end she said, "Congratulation, she's yours!". We said thank you and left the room. I came out a basket of tears and hugged another adoptive parent then turned and hugged Andy and sobbed. Come to find out, Andy didn't hear the judge say she's yours so he just assumed we passed because of the way I was acting!!! LOL. She was very soft spoken and hard to hear. We were only in there about 1 minute. Andy timed others who went in and they were in there for 52 seconds, 57 seconds, etc. Not long. After hearing that we had all passed, everyone sitting around us said CONGRATULATIONS as we walked out. We all looked like a big emotional group. There were 14 of us there! As we walked out Sisay said... Let's go celebrate! So we walked down to a coffee shop and got the best macchiatos (sp?) you have ever had. YUM. We all took pictures and celebrated. We were there for quite a long time, but it was so nice to just talk as a group. After that Abel picked us up again and took us to lunch at a "mall". I had chicken fingers, I know, I went all out. But, I was starting to not feel well at all. I don't know if was all of the emotions of the day or if the altitude was getting to me or if it was something I ate, but I started feeling HORRIBLE. My stomach was a mess and I felt like I could pass out. I had brought stomach meds with me in my bag for instances like this. I took whatever I could but it took quite a while for it to kick in. While I waited at the entrance (hoping to feel better), Andy walked around the mall to see if we could find something for the boys to bring home. This mall was not like our mall. It had several levels but some of the shops were selling used things. But we did find things for them. Abel finally arrived so we loaded up the bus. We were suppose to go on a tour, but I wasn't feeling well so Andy said we either want to go to the orphanage or go to the guest house. I just knew that I couldn't ride around in the bus for a long period with my stomach like it was. Everyone was of the same concensus, so we made a surprise visit at the orphanage. This ended up being the last time we got to spend with the kids, so it was pretty special since we had just passed court and we knew that they were ours. We thoroughly enjoyed our time. The baby is the sweetest thing. She adores her daddy already! She snuggles up to me and cuddles. I am in love. It was hard leaving that day, but we knew that they were in great hands and we would be seeing her again soon. I got to see her with "her" nanny and saw how much they loved each other, so this made it much easier. We said our goodbyes and loaded up. We went back to the guest house and spent the evening there. It was an enjoyable evening. I still wasn't feeling 100%, but I got to look at Birtukan's jewelry and talk with her some more. She is such an amazing lady. My next post will be devoted to her and her work!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Ethiopia Day Three: Meeting with Bethany

Abel... Our favorite guide

Picture from the Hilltop Restaurant where we ate lunch

Yet another day that will forever be etched in my memory bank!!! Amazingly we both have been feeling pretty well throughout this journey. Today was no different. Abel told us that he would be at the guest house at 8, so we had to make sure we were up and showered pretty early. Showers were pretty good, we had hot water but the outlet was in the shower on the wall so we were a bit watchful while we showered!!! That would be a horrible headline... "Adoptive Parent Zapped While Showering in Ethiopian Guest House!" It was nice to have hot water though. I made sure I kept my eyes shut tight and my mouth closed so that I didn't ingest any water. Abel said the water was 90% clean but 10% they were working on!!!! LOL. That 10% would likely get me for sure!!! Birtukan gave us a water bottle at the beginning of the week and I asked for water and she asked where my bottle was. She wanted us to refill them! I love her efficiency. She would boil the water for 10 minutes and then filter it for us. It worked great. I remember the first night we all had dinner (at midnight) and we were all sooooo thirsty but we sat staring at the water jugs because we weren't sure if we could drink it. She came in and saw us staring and said... "Drink... it's good for you!" We all sighed with relief. When Abel arrived we had just finished another FABULOUS breakfast. We loaded up, but I took some dramomine for the bus!! Andy and I both did. We were still amazed at the driving. Quite fascinating. Today we went to the orphanage first (after picking up other families at other guesthouses). It was not nearly as nerve wracking today. However, there was one family with us who had not met their child yet. It was fun capturing their first moments with their son. So precious. The goats were still at the front gate to welcome us!!! We spent the morning with Olivia and admired her precious attributes. She is the most beautiful baby you have ever seen. I am in love. Who knew you could fall in love with someone so quickly. I had brought some dolls for the girls and some cars for the boys so the head nanny let me pass them out to the kids. You would have thought I was Santa!!!! The kids swarmed me and just had a blast picking out dolls and cars. I had sooo much fun seeing the looks on their faces and watching them get a gift. It may have been some of the kids first gift they have received! Andy and I loved hanging out with the older children. There was one particular older boy who captured our hearts. If he did not have a family we would be starting the process over for him. What an amazing young man. He was the oldest child there, but he loved all of the children and was just awesome. He loved our camera! I sooooo want to find his adoptive parents to let them know what a precious kid he is. It seemed like our time with Olivia today FLEW by. We got to feed her oatmeal today and man did she love it. Yesterday we got to give her a bottle. Both days she fell asleep in our arms and we just stared at her beauty and loveliness. She is a tiny little thing. I had sent her an outfit earlier this summer that was 3-6 months. She was wearing it today and she is 7 months. It fit her perfectly. I totally thought she would be much bigger, but she is a tiny sweet pea. Abel picked us up again and took us to an amazing hilltop restaurant. I almost felt funny eating there because it was so fancy. You think I would have eaten something Ethiopian, but I didn't want to upset my stomach so I went with Italian! After lunch we went to the Bethany office to do our court day orientation. Sisay was our court representative so he had us all sit around a U shaped table while he gave a powerpoint presentation. The first thing he asked was if we had heard about the orphanage license being revoked. Well, of course we had. He then proceeded to say that one hour ago he received word that our license at been restored. Our group let out the loudest eruption of cheers. The next thing you know Abel pops his head in the door with a big smile and yells CONGRATULATIONS!!! We all laughed. I felt like crying because of how emotional the entire ordeal was. The rest of the time was a blur because I was so excited. We did get to meet with Olivia's social worker and nurse. Basically everything in her story is accurate and her health is perfect. Quick and easy!!! We were able to give some items to other social workers that we had brought from other families. After we had our meeting we went back to the guest house to rest and then later that night we got to go to a traditional Ethiopian meal at a special restaurant. Birtukan met us at the guest house and I was able to talk with her for a while. She was sooooo excited because she had just passed her written test to get her driver's license! She gave us a big hug. You would have thought she had won the lottery by the way she was acting. It made her so happy. I did tell her that I had heard so much about her and that I wanted to hear her story. This story is for another blog post, but hearing it changed my life. It lead to us sponsoring a child at her ministry. The traditional dinner we went to was quite an experience!!!! Lots of dancing, music, incense, food, and drink. The guys in our group had a good time trying to emulate the dancing. Quite entertaining!!! We stayed until we all felt like we needed to head back to get rested up for our court appointment in the morning. We had to be there at 9. To wrap the day up, we spent amazing time with Olivia and received wonderful news about the orphanage license! It was a good day. I think we all went to bed that night with great expectations for the morning.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Ethiopia Day Two: Meeting Our Daughter

~~The only stoplight we saw~~

This day will forever be etched in my memories. We awoke early to the sound of the call to prayer over the muslim speakers and to the sound of the roosters crowing. It was really awesome to see the city from the window of our room. We could see the mountains in the distance! The guest house that we stayed in had fence around it to keep us safe, and I noticed the fence across the "street" had a fence but on the top of it there were broken glass bottles used to prevent someone from climbing over the fence. One would think that the crime rate was high because of these extraordinary measures used to provide safety, but we learned that crime is in fact very low in Ethiopia. While we were there we never felt that our safety was in jeopardy. We felt very safe the entire trip. We had an amazing breakfast of FLUFFY pancakes and the best smoothies you have ever had! Every morning Birtukan made us fresh fruit smoothies that were out of this world. My mouth waters just thinking about them. After breakfast, Abel picked us up and took us to the shopping district for the morning. This was amazing too because nothing had prices on them. We bartered on price for everything, then we would check with Abel and he would get the price down even more. After a while, the beggars and kids started gathering around so Abel hurriedly got us back on the bus (we noticed one of the police officers holding a stick and she started shooing the kids away and even hit one of the with the stick). A very thin woman with a 3-4 year old child who was suckling her breast came up to the window of the bus and begged. The child would smile and then get his sad look on his face and start suckling again. My heart broke at this. I wanted to give her something, but Abel told us that it was illegal to give to them because they didn't want them to swarm the bus. Another thing I noticed was how many crippled people were on the streets. Nothing like we see here. When we arrived at night no one was around, but during the day the traffic was crazy and people were everywhere. I will never forget the driving strategies used! It was down right SCARY!!! No one used lanes and we only saw one stoplight. I took a picture of it! The exhaust was AWFUL and the roads were not very well maintained. CRAZY. We went out to a very nice lunch... the most expensive thing on the menu was only around $6 and it was really nice food. We enjoyed it. After lunch we made our way to the orphanage. When we arrived we noticed a herd of goats that were resting next to the gate. We all took pictures of the goats!!!! Abel knocked at the gate and we all eagerly awaited for someone to let us in. It felt like an eternity. FINALLY, the gates opened and we headed up to the door. I immediately noticed the window was open and all of the babies were lying on mats against the wall. I saw Olivia immediately and my heart jumped!!! We walked in the door and the nannies were in the kitchen area and stayed out of our way. I worried that I wouldn't recognize her, but we all knew which child was ours. We quickly walked up to her and I bent down and just looked at her in awe. I didn't really know what to do. Do I pick her up? Do I talk to her? Do I take pictures? I was just overwhelmed. So, I began to speak to her and told her that mommy was here and I was so happy to see her. Her face just lit up when she heard my voice and she started to kick her feet and wiggle. She was excited to hear me!!! It was like she recognized me. I heard Andy behind me say... Pick her up!!! So I bent down and lifted her into my arms. She was such a tiny little thing and she fit so snuggly inside my arms. It was as if she had always been there. She rested her head against me and then would pull back and look at my face... almost as if she was matching the voice she knew to the face she saw. What a God experience it was. I held her for a while and then Andy was dying for his turn. I had her to him and it seemed like she knew that he was her daddy. She looked at him in awe and just checked him out over and over. She would smile and then look back at me. Needless to say, we thoroughly enjoyed our time with her. She is the most perfect little thing and has the most angelic face and disposition. I couldn't ask for anything more. We got to spend 2 hours with her. The time FLEW by and we were sad when we had to leave. That was the only time when I didn't want Abel to show up!!! What a great day. We left the orphanage feeling like we had just experienced a piece of heaven. CLOUD NINE!!! We then went back to the guest house for dinner. Birtukan was so gracious and was THE BEST cook. We went to bed fairly early that night. It was such a surreal experience.

Ethiopia Day One: The Journey

Me and Andy at the airport getting ready to board!

November 29, 2010 finally arrived!!! We had looked forward to this day for a LONG time. We got the kids ready and sent them off to school. We then delivered all of the kids' stuff to my parents house. We returned home to finish getting ready to go... cleaning house, final packing, finishing up work, etc. My dad arrived to pick us up and we left for the airport with tons of luggage in tow. Once we got to the airport we weighed in the luggage (which was full of donations) and each bag weighed approximately 49.5 pounds. We were allowed 4 bags and they could weigh 50 pounds each. We had collected one bag full of educational supplies from Andrea's third grade class. I was so proud of all of their efforts. Two of the bags were donations from families at the preschool where I teach. I still have another 50 pounds at home that we could not fit. We had an uneventful flight to Detroit with about an hour layover. Right when we were boarding for our flight to Amsterdam I decided to check my email. We had an email from our social worker and I nearly collapsed right there on the spot. She informed us that all of the orphanages in southern Ethiopia had just had their license revoked (but don't worry it all works out and the license is renewed!!! but we didn't know it yet). We were left with the difficult decision of going or not going. Earlier that morning we were given a scripture that said, "Arise and Go." So, we knew that we were suppose to go regardless of the news we received. Andy called our social worker and she encouraged us to go ahead and board our flight but she wasn't sure if we were still going to have our court hearing or not. We knew then that the prayers of our friends and family would be carrying us the rest of our journey because the outcome was completely unknown. Would we have court? Would we become her parents? Would someone even be at the airport to pick us up? Needless to say, the flight to Amsterdam was long. I took a sleeping pill but still didn't get much rest. My heart was heavy and restless, but I kept rolling the entire situation over to the Lord. We arrived in Amsterdam and then boarded our plane to Ethiopia. This was another long flight, but we decided to stay awake so that we would be able to sleep once we got there. Landing in Ethiopia was surreal. It was at night, about midnight. We got off the plane and went right to the line to get our visa (which only took about 15 minutes) and then we went through customs to get our passport stamped. After that we exchanged our money. There were two banks there and we couldn't decide which bank to use because one had a long line, but the other had no one. We were hesitant, but the lady kept saying... It's the same!!!! So, we went to the one that had no one, and guess what, It was the same! We went out and collected our bags, surprisingly we found all of them. None of them were lost. Andy was so glad he kept the luggage tags, because they asked to see them before we could leave the airport. As we walked out there were SEVERAL Ethiopian people waiting at the gate. At that point I must admit that I got a little nervous. We didn't recognize anyone!!! But as we rounded the corner there was a man in the back waving a Bethany Christian Services sign. I nodded at him and he met us at the gate. We quickly made our introductions and then immediately asked about the license being revoked. He unfortunately had no answers for us, but in his kind way tried to reassure us and did let us know that we would still appear before the courts. This relieved us slightly, but our hearts were still heavy and nervous. This man ended up becoming a friend as we spent the rest of the week with him. Abel was the most amazing guide and went above and beyond to make our stay so memorable. I love that guy!! He recently published a book about the history of Ethiopia (for dummies... as he called it!! LOL). It is designed for adoptive families to use as a history book for their children. Well, we bought 2 of them! At the airport I had to use the restroom and had my first Ethiopian restroom experience. There was no toilet paper. I was so glad that I had my wet wipes!!! There was no trashcan either! We waited for a short time for 3 other families to arrive. It was great because we soon found out that we knew them from the Forum I follow. All of us were staying at the same guest house and all of our children were at Shalom. These people ended up becoming good friends. We walked out of the airport and the first thing I noticed was the smell of the city. I can't really describe it, but it was very different! We loaded ALL of the luggage onto the top of our bus. I was nervous that it would make it to our guest house, but it did. As we drove through the city of Addis Ababa, I was first amazed at how developed it was, but I was also amazed at how few people were out and about. It appeared deserted! Abel told us that once the sun goes down, the people go home. I also noticed that our driver didn't drive in the lanes on the road, but I didn't think much of this (until the next day!). We arrived at the guesthouse and Birtukan, the owner, met us at the door and insisted that we sit down for a hot meal. It was probably the best soup I have ever had! We were soooo hungry and sooooo tired. We ate well and then soon went to our room for bed. Needless to say, we slept really well that night. We left Indiana on Monday afternoon and arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Tuesday night around 11pm. What a long journey!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Catch UP

It has been awhile....again. So much has happened since my last post. Life is extremely BUSY here because we are preparing to travel in a few weeks. SO EXCITED. I will wrap up the last couple of weeks. We got another update since my last post. Miss Olivia "B" is getting big and she is extremely beautiful. She is up to 16 pounds and 22 inches. Everyone comments on her eyes and how big and beautiful they are...I can't wait to look at them in person!!! She has gained 3 pounds in a months, so the move to the transition home has been a good one for her. Those nannies are fattening her up for us!!! They also commented on how she LOVES sucking on her fingers. She fits right in with the other kids...all 3 of them were thumb suckers. Now we have a finger sucker! God is so funny. He knows how to put the right kid in the right family. Andy and I got our last travel shots yesterday (except for the flu shot which we will get later this week). Andy made up our will; guardianship papers are in the works for the kids when we leave so my parents have decision making abilities. Andy ordered a power plug adaptor for our trip. Plane tickets are ready. Christmas shopping has begun. I registered for our baby shower which will be on Dec. 18. We had our zumba fitness for Ethiopian orphans and brought in several donations for the orphanage. We have a tote full from this drive. About 30 people came out and had an amazing workout!!! Loads of fun. Now I am working on 3 concurrent donation drives. The preschool where I teach is doing a donation drive for the orphanage by collecting baby and toddler items (we already have on tote full and it doesn't end until Thanksgiving). The 3rd graders at Andrea's school are doing a donation drive for educational supplies for the orphanage. Their goal is 100 items, but after the first day they had already collected 20 so we may have a lot from this one. Andy and I got to speak at church for Orphan Sunday and we were approached by several people asking to help with donations. We will be setting up a donation drop off next Sunday for our church. We were also given $400 by someone after church to spend "in-country" to get supplies for the orphanage!!!! I was sooooo blessed by this. She got a bonus at work and wanted to give 10% to the orphanage in Ethiopia so she asked us to spend it for her! That is going to be a BLAST!!!!! Now the next few weeks are going to be extremely FULL. This is my to do list:
1. Get flu shots
2. Prepare my class for a sub for 3 days and get all of our "pre-Christmas" activities done prior to leaving for ET
3. Finish guardianship paperwork
4. PACK - making sure to get all we need
5. Get malaria prescription from travel dr.
6. Get other prescription from family dr.
7. Finish gathering up remainder of donations prior to first travel and putting them in travel safe bags/totes.
8. Help mom with baby shower
9. Finish up Christmas shopping
10. Take Andrea on girlscout trip
11. Get Andrea's new violin and glasses
12. Make kids activity list for my parents for while we are gone
13. Prepare for Thanksgiving at my house
14. Craft fair and father daughter ball on the same day
15. Get Christmas program put together/rehearsals for children's church

There is sooooo much more within all of that, but that is a start. It sometimes helps "putting it on paper" to help organize my thoughts. If you have any suggestions, send them my way!!!!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fingerprints AGAIN

We finally went today to get our fingerprints redone. Our I-171H expired and we had to do our fingerprints again so our form is valid. Otherwise we would be able to bring home our sweet pea. Hopefully we will get the form back before we travel for court, but we shall see. We at least have to have it by the time of our embassy date. It feels good to have it done. It takes FOREVER to get anything done through CIS. Our appointment was at 8am so Andy and I had to get up EARLY. My mom came over to get the kids off to school and then took Nathan to her house. On our way home (after a yummy breakfast date with my hubby) a HORRIBLE storm came through. We think we saw the beginnings of a tornado! Once we arrived at home, the wind came howling through and the phone rang. The sirens were going off in town indicating a tornado warning. YIKES. We were ready to run down to the basement. I called my mom to make sure they were ok and she and Nathan were hiding out in the pantry!!! Definitely a memorable morning.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Moving Right Along

We have reservations made at the guest house we will be staying at while in Ethiopia. We hope to take part in a feeding program the director of the guest house runs. She feeds city kids and orphans on the streets every Saturday! I hear amazing things about it and I can't wait to see it in action. We also received our plane tickets and travel itinerary in the mail from our travel agent. Things are moving right along. It won't be much longer and we will be headed out to meet our baby girl. Oh I can't wait. We have 2 families over there now that are taking pictures for us, so I am eager to see another update. We continue to pray for her health and safety. She is so precious.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Court Date

On October 11 we received the email that brought the unbelievably wonderful news that we have been waiting on for MONTHS. We are going to Ethiopia to meet our precious baby girl!!!!! We have a few weeks to prepare, but things are moing forward. I was at preschool teaching my little ones when I saw on my phone that I had missed a call from Andy. He never calls me during school hours so I knew that it was either about one of the kids or he had gotten info about our baby girl. I called him back when my class went on rotations and he asked if I wanted to go to lunch. OF COURSE I DO!!! So, I called him when class was over and he walked in the door of my room as I hung up the phone. He was holding a piece of paper and he handed it to me. On it was an email from Salome our social worker from FTIA. On it was our court date!!! At first I was a little disappointed because it is still several weeks away, but then I was overjoyed because it is official!!! We are going to hold our baby girl in our arms soo soon. It gives us time to pack, shop, get shots, get fingerprinted, get my classroom prepared, let Andy accrue enough vacation time, etc. We are sooo excited. Now that we have a date, I can't stop thinking about her and imagining what it will be like to hold her and look into her precious brown eyes. We have 2 families going over next week that are going to take more pictures of her for us! These will probably be the last ones we get before we go over ourselves. Andy contacted our travel agent and got our flights all settled and I contacted the guest house where we will be staying and made reservations. It feels good to be at this point of the process since it has been soooo long for us. We have had so many delays and bumps in the road. We are praying for smooth travels and court appointment. May the Lord go before us and prepare the way for our journey. He has been so faithful.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Happy Dance

Yesterday was a WONDERFUL day!!!! We got our first update on our African beauty and man o man is she beautiful. Andy called me while I was at preschool getting ready to take Nathan to lunch at my mom's. I started crying as I opened the email on my phone and looked at her beautiful pictures. She is sooooo healthy looking and happy. Her eyes are very clear and peaceful looking. She is still small, but growing. At 5 months she is 13 pounds and 20 inches long. I'm not sure if the length is accurate, but it might be. She has gained 5 pounds since her referral in July. Her hair is starting to come in and boy is it CURLY!!! Mommy is going to have fun trying to do her hair! YIKES...I had better start ready up on it! Based on the pictures and the mats she is on and the chair she is sitting in, she is in Addis...that means she has been moved from the orphanage in Awassa to the transition home in the city. This was good news for me because it means they are expecting us to come soon. The best news is that she got the care package we sent to her...she is playing with the toy keys we sent....she is holding the voice recorder we sent of us reading to her and sharing our hearts to her...she is looking at the picture album we sent and actually looking at a picture of her big sister Andrea! Her cheeks are full and her skin is clear. I am on cloud nine. It came at a time when I was getting really discouraged. Everyone else was getting updates except us...the two month wait was worth the joy we felt at seeing her beautiful face again. Thank you Jesus for the gift.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Submitted to Court

We just got word this morning that our case was submitted to court!!! We will know in the next 2-4 weeks when our court date is. We are praying for early November, but it is all in God's hands. We are just thrilled that things are moving forward. This means that all of our paperwork is in order and we are just going through the formalities. Praise you JESUS!!!! I feel like screaming from the rooftops. It has been a long time since we have gotten some good news. I am giddy.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Cool God Stuff and Adoption Update

You may ask...Why in the world is she posting a picture of an elephan trunk. Well, this reminds of God. The story unfolded like this: We had the opportunity to go to Busch Gardens over spring break and really enjoyed our day there. At the elephant exhibit the staff would put the animals up and go out the their enclosure and hide treats for them. They would put things like skittles and licorice and bananas everywhere, especially in obscure locations. They really liked the skittles, but they were hard to find. It was fascinating to watch them wrap their trunks around them and gently put them in their mouths. You may think, how does this remind you of God. Last week Andy got a new company vehicle and found that it needed new tires. These tires were going to cost around $450! With the adoption, we are trying to save as much as we can, but Andy felt that he had to have them because he was afraid that they would burst! Well we went on with our week and were trying to find ways to make some extra cash. One afternoon, Andy was looking through the camera bag trying to find some charged batteries and lo and behold in the pocket was $250 he had tucked away during our vacation! WOW. How could we forget about that! Then later that day he was in the bathroom cleaning up and underneath my jewelry box sat traveller's checks for $200. Can you believe it....$450 just sitting in the house. We had to stop and just thank the Lord for His guidance and His watch care. I find it much like those skittles...the money was hidden away in special spots, we just had to find it!

On the adoption front, we haven't really heard anything other than what I have been researching on my own. Several Bethany families (including one that received their referral on the same day and other families that received their referral after us) have been submitted to court. They should know within the next 2-4 weeks as to when their court date will be. I can only hope and pray that our case was also submitted in this group. I feel like I don't get any information, and then I feel guilty for asking for more. Several of these families have also received updates; we haven't gotten anything since July 29. I could cry many days if I let myself dwell on it, but I just get busy doing other things or I spend time in prayer over beautiful miss "B". I also have been in contact with USCIS. Our fingerprints have expired, but I sent in our paperwork for refingerprinting over a month ago. I called them 2 weeks ago and they didn't even have our case filed. Yesterday, he said our case was filed but that it was waiting to be assigned to a person. He requested that our file be sent to him specifically. He said he will have it within the next day or 2 and then he will call us with our appointment for re-fingerprinting. That will be within 4 weeks from the time he gets back with us. After the prints are taken, we may have to wait an additional 4 weeks. I wonder how long it would have taken if I hadn't called them. I thank the Lord tha I got someone on the phone that was kind and willing to look into our case. Many times people from CIS aren't that helpful and you have to wait until it is "Your Turn". We have to have this paper for our Embassy date. Lord may it come quickly.

Monday, August 30, 2010

1 month..........

It is been exactly one month and one day since we received our referral for our baby girl. We have not heard anything regarding her court date. When we got the referral, I honestly didn't expect to hear any news until courts re-opened from the rainy season closure. However, other Bethany families have received their court dates during the closure, but I don't want to get my hopes up. I am actually panicking a little about our CIS approval though. We have to get re-fingerprinted to make our I-171H updated for our Embassy. I was reading on a forum that it is taking other families up to 16 weeks to get their forms back. I requested for ours to be expidited, but who knows. No one is ever in a hurry when you want them to be. We don't even have dates yet for being fingerprinted. I hope to hear something this week. I just want to get this all over with. Today I am in the "I'm sick of it!!!" mood. That won't last very long because I know that I am really not sick of it. I will do whatever it takes to get my baby home. We just found out yesterday that our church is putting on another golf benefit for us to help raise funds for our travel expenses. I am sooo excited. It is a LOT of work, but the pay off is worth it. I am also looking into other forms of fundraising....t-shirt sales, coffee sales, lots of stuff!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Our Baby's Birth

Recently I have been dwelling on the birth of our baby. Here in America there is so much hype leading up to the birth of a baby. Will I have a "natural" birth? Will I have an epidural? Will I have a home birth? Will I use a midwife or an OB? In the case of our biological children, we had little choice. I had to have 3 c-sections. Andrea was breach; Noah was too big; and Nathan was our 3rd which prevented us from trying it, but he was too big anyway. The kids, especially Nathan, love to yell, "That's where I was born!" when we drive past the hospital. I will never forget the days that they were born. Never. They are so engrained in my memory and will forever be a part of me. This picture of me is when they were closing me up after Nathan was born. I am looking over at the nurses trying to see what they are doing with my baby. Notice the steril environment and how many peole are caring for me. This picture shows only 3, there were several more.

This is beautiful Andrea. Our firstborn. Perfectly formed in every way.This is Noah after he was born. Look how huge and handsome he was. They busily cleaned him up for us.This is Nathan. Precious little guy is recovering from his birth. So tiny and yet big for a newborn.
All of these pictures make me think of precious little "B" in Africa. According to her paperwork, she was born on May 3. What was that day like? For us I can remember what WE were doing that day. In the morning I was busy with my preschool class. It was the last week of school for us so we were working on the letter Z. That evening our family went out to Texas Roadhouse to celebrate MY birthday which is May 4. I remember where we sat. It was family night and there was a magician there doing tricks for the kids. They went nuts trying to figure out how he was doing the tricks. We had a wonderful evening together; not even realizing that our baby was being brought into this world on the other side of the globe. What was her birth experience like? I'm sure the environment was not sterile like the pictures above. I'm pretty sure there wasn't a skilled doctor helping her out of her birthmother. Did her mother have access to medical care? Did she have trouble delivering the baby? Here is a picture of a chair commonly used to birth babies in Africa. Did she use one of these?
I cannot imagine what this young girl went through to deliver our precious little angel. I look forward to the day when I can talk with her in person and learn about the experience she had. What a sacrifice of love she made for this little baby.



Wednesday, August 25, 2010

First day of school and Noah's birthday

Noah's Birthday!










First Day of School






Nathan is OH SO THRILLED that he is getting his picture taken.

















Andrea and Noah getting ready to walk to the bus.











Andrea is such a beauty and so excited to be in the 3rd grade.











Noah is so handsome and is looking forward to the 1st grade.












Eating breakfast and talking to Grammie before school.








They had an absolutely wonderful 1st day of school. I can't believe they are getting so big.
















Monday, August 23, 2010

weekend...........

We had a really great weekend with our adoption group. Friday we loaded the kids up after school and headed to Jill's house for Aaron's 1st birthday. He has been home from ET for a couple of months now and is doing so great. Emily was there with Elliott for the party. That little girl is something. She LOVES me. She follows me everywhere and wants to sit in my lap or hold her constantly. It is the "baby fix" I need to help me get through this wait. I love our monthly gatherings...they really do help me not to go crazy. We ended up spending the night in Jill's basement. The kids loved "camping out" on the floor. Andy and I slept on hideaway beds!!! We got up the next morning and went to a thing called heavenly hand me downs at Jills church. We got a laundry basket full of FREE clothes for the kids. We came back home, got showers, and headed to Emily's house for the "official" play date. Kelly brought Mebrate, who was the hit of the party. Everyone passed her around and loved on her. It was so nice holding a tiny baby girl who is similar in size to ours. I feel connected to her for some reason. A new couple was there as well. Krista and Mike. They were super sweet and it was so nice to be able to encourage them along in the early stages of their adoption. Krista went to Rose Hulman too, Andy's alma mater! Later that night we came home. Sunday we celebrated Noah's 7th birthday! What a special little boy he is. We had a star wars party! Let me tell you, light sabers were flying everywhere! He had a blast. I will post pics later.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Smiles


Even after exactly 3 weeks my faces is still full of smiles. We haven't gotten any updates on our baby girl, except for the pictures from Kelly. I still can't stop looking at them. I guess I haven't updated the blog, but after we got our referral we were able to contact a friend who was in Ethiopia picking up her little girl. Miraculously she was able to take pictures of "B" the day she went to Awassa. She sent them to us after she got home so we are pretty excited. Yesterday I had the opportunity to meet her for lunch and meet her sweet little baby. She is so tiny...and yet Kelly said that she is bigger than our little baby. She told me the story about when she saw her. She knew it was her and wanted to take her picture. She asked the head social worker and he said no. But, he called the head office in Addis and they confirmed that she had permission to take her picture. Kelly snapped a couple of shots and then asked if she could hold her. When she picked her up the nannies were freaking out because the baby didn't have a diaper. So the nannies were trying to shove towels underneath her bottom so she wouldn't use the bathroom on Kelly! LOL. I thought that was a pretty funny story. Kelly also shared with me that "B" is probably the healthiest baby at the orphanage. Needless to say, that made me feel so much better. Her skin is very clear and smooth and her eyes are clear as well. I do hope they move her to the transition home soon so that she gets more individual attention. I don't want her lying in the crib alone staring at the ceiling for hours with no interaction unless she is hungry or soiled. I know the nannies hold them, but they don't try to make eye contact with the babies and love on them like we will. Oh, I long to go to her. I hope we find out our court date soon. Pray that there is no hold up for us and we will get a date soon. The sooner we know our dates, the cheaper the tickets will be.

Friday, July 30, 2010

A very BLESSED day

Yesterday, Thursday, July 29 at 1:16pm my phone rang. It was the call we have been waiting on for 8 months 3 weeks and 5 days. We got our referral!!!!! Let me explain my day....

Every Thursday I host a women's Bible study in my home which is led by my mother. We have been studying the book of James. Today we talked about wisdom and how we walk in it. I just love sitting under my mom's teaching...she is so anointed. Around 12:30 everyone started heading home and then my nephew arrived for his weekly tutoring session. He is 15 and catching up on Algebra and a few other subjects. We were diligently going over how to divide exponents at the kitchen table when my cell phone rang. I looked at the caller ID on the screen and noticed that it had an 812 area code. At first I thought it was a friend of mine because she has an 812 number, but her name would have popped up too. Immediately I thought....oh man this could be it!! I answered the phone and on the other line I heard, "Laura...yes...this is Carol, Carol Schaeffer from FTIA...yes...how does the name 'B' sound?" At that moment, I could barely process what she was saying. I said, "Are you kidding me? Is this really THE call?" She said, "Yes it is and you have been matched with an absolutely beautiful baby girl." Oh MY GOODNESS. My heart leaped out of my chest and a scream escaped from my mouth. I jumped up from the table and screamed some more and ran into the other room. She began going down this list of information that didn't register and I told her to wait a minute so I could get my compter so I could type everything down that she was saying. She then went on to say that she was going to send me all of the info as soon as we got off the phone...so I said OK...bye! Immediately I called Andy on his cell phone because he was in St. Louis on a business trip. The phone rang and he didn't answer so I hung up and dialed again. This time he picked it up and I said, "Are you busy...can you talk...He said....are you ok...YES...Today is the day." He said, "I knew it!!! When I saw you call twice, I knew that is what it was!" I forwarded him the email and gave him the info Carol had told me on the phone. We were both shaking and trying to process the reality of what had just happened. It was so surreal, so unforgettable. We hung up with each other and opened the email on our own because he had to continue his meeting. We both saw her precious face at the same time and fell in love immediately. She is the most precious little thing. At nearly 3 months old, she is not even as big as Noah was when he was born. She weighs 8.8 pounds and is 21 1/2 inches long. Her eyes are big and beautiful. She was born the day before my 34th birthday and exactly 6 months to the day from the day we submitted our dossier. It is hard to believe we are finally at this point and we can see the angel that God has hand picked for our family.

We held off telling the kids because Andrea was at girlscout camp, so we told them this evening after we had the acceptance paperwork completed. We got the kids all together in the car and said, "We have something very important to tell you guys." They all looked at us somewhat fearful, as if they may be in trouble...then Andy said it is a surprise! They then got excited so Andy asked, "What is the best thing that you can think of that can ever happen?" Noah in his innocence and excitement said, "Getting some ice cream!" We laughed and said it was better than ice cream. Andrea said..."Is it Olivia?" And we said "YES"! They were SO excited. Andrea just said, "God new when she would come. He had perfect timing!" So true and special. Nathan hid his face which is something he does when he is excited. Noah started jumping up and down. What an awesome couple of days.

Today we have been frantically trying to complete the paperwork because we leave for Dale Hollow tomorrow and we want to get it there ASAP. AHHHHHHHH....Thank you JESUS!!! I am at such peace.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Peace for the Moment


I am SOOO happy to say that the Lord has granted me peace FOR THE MOMENT. I had the awesome opportunity to visit with three beautiful women that are on this journey with me. Jill, my cousin by marriage (weird story how that all came about), invited us over for the day. She just brought home this beautiful boy a month ago....and what a doll! I fell in love with him. At first he was a little leary of me, but that was expected. By the end of the afternoon he was crawling over to me and he even fell asleep on me for about 20 minutes. He is almost 11 months old. It gave me such peace to hold that little boy and know that my daughter will soon be in my arms. I know that it will happen soon and even if she is a little older when she comes home, it will be soooo worth it. I also got to spend time holding my friend Emily's beautiful little girl. She is so precious! The last time I got to see her at my house she would crawl all around my table, but she loved coming over to me...hugging me...them zipping back over to mom. Yesterday, it took her about 15 minutes and she was back doing the same thing. I even got some kisses from her!!! She is just over a year and a spunky little lady. I just love these two kiddos! Emily could write a book about her experiences over there...here should be her title..."How to Prepare for Travel to a 3rd World Country for International Adoption". She is loaded with knowledge. She is my go to girl for info. My friend Kelly was there as well. She is getting ready to travel to pick up her precious baby girl who is very tiny. We are hoping she gets the first Embassy date in August! Kelly is also super prepared. We had a great time learning how to do African girls hair and what products will be best for our babies. She is going to email me her list for travel. She lives relatively close to me so it will be nice once our babies are home!

With all of this said....I feel like God gave me this weekend to soak up baby time and to refresh my spirit towards a more positive outlook on this adoption roller coaster. Aaron and Elliott are amazing children with amazing moms! Kelly will be an amazing mom as well. I am so happy for her and look forward to her story when she returns. Thank you God for putting these women in my life to provide support and hope~!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Frustration


Well....can you tell that I am getting frustrated! We have officially been waiting 8 months and 5 days for our referral and have been in process for over 15 months. We are approaching the rainy season when courts shut down for 6 + weeks and there are no court appointments. This will push us back. I also just heard that the US Embassy is cutting their appointments in half because they are understaffed. This will push us back even further. All this comes into play AFTER we get our referral. We haven't even gotten that yet. I am beyond frustrated. I know there are baby girls at the orphanage as of June 4 and none have been referred yet. I just want to be done with this entire process. It is way harder than I ever expected. I try to keep myself busy and I am busy, but this is always at the forefront of my mind. I completed our new POA's last week and Caring Hands just called yesterday telling me that they are shipping them back. So by the end of the week I will send them back to FTIA. They will forward them on to Ethiopia for us. I will be glad to have this part done. Well...I don't have that much more to say. Oh, I do get to go to my friend Jill's house this weekend and squeeze on baby Aaron who just came home from ET. That will give me my baby fix!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Waiting for the phone call

Well....my friend Jill just got back from ET and said she may have seen my baby girl! Apparently, there are about 15 tiny baby girls at the orphanage in Awassa. If this is the case, and we are supposedly NEXT to be matched....that means our baby girl is there!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have been on edge since receiving this news. I feel like this lady in the picture, staring at the phone, pleading with the phone, praying to God that it rings soon. I jump every time it rings, especially at odd times. However, today is Friday so our agency is closed for the weekend. I'm just glad that we are staying busy. It CAN'T be too much longer. This has been the longest 15 months of my life. Next week I think I am going on a road trip to visit with Jill and meet her beautiful baby boy Aaron.
I had to update our POAs so I sent those out to the Secretary of State yesterday. Hopefully I will get them back early next week. Then I have to send them to the US Secretary of State and to the Ethiopian Embassy which will add another week or so, then I have to forward them on to FTIA. So, all in all it should take about 2 weeks. I just don't want it to hold anything up if we happen to get our referral soon. Andy got his typhoid and second Hep B shot yesterday. All we need now is my final Hep A and his final Hep A & B. Technically we shouldn't get them until November, but if we travel sooner, they will expedite the process for us. We will just wait until we know for sure when we have to travel.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

my week

Currently I am sitting in the Philly airport waiting for my flight home. I spent the week at a CHA clinic certifying horseback riding instructors. It was so wonderful spending some time with one of my greatest loves....the horse. We seem to relate. We have an understanding. It's almost as if we communicate with each other without words. I absolutely love this animal. The little girl who dreamed of riding and showing pops her head up and blossoms. I so wish that I could have a horse now and share this experience with my daughter. It is a passion that I really can't explain to people, unless they are horse people! They get it, which is why I thoroughly enjoy my week with horses. However, as I sit in the airport waiting, I am reminded of my current passion...my baby girl in Africa. I imagine myself sitting here waiting for my flight to ET and thinking about how I will feel and what I will see. My friend is currently in ET picking up her baby boy and I am so thrilled for her. She is holding her child and looking into his eyes for the very first time. She is squeezing him tight and caressing his soft brown skin and soft curly hair. I long for that day for myself. I keep telling myself that it is coming, but I have been doubting lately. I am hearing about other families who are receiving referrals for baby girls whose paper work arrived in ET after our paperwork did. What is up with that? I keep telling myself that I will here something this week, but not so much. Today is Saturday again. Maybe next week.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Small World

It is a small world. So often we sing that song of our childhood and don't really think about it. Andy has a co-worker that he rarely talks with but often thinks about. He is from Ethiopia and his family still lives there. Well, recently Andy has been thinking about him a lot and has been wanting to give him a call. Today while he was driving to a meeting, his phone rang...guess who...his acquaintance from ET. He asked about the adoption and how things were going. He just got back from ET a couple of weeks ago (his family still lives in Addis Ababa). He mentioned to Andy that when we do get around to traveling, he could have his family show us around Addis! How cool is that!!! I would love to meet them and talk with them about the history and culture of their beautiful country. OH I CAN'T WAIT TO GO!!!!!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Someday Soon

Nathan's 4th Birthday

As I sit here and meditate on all that has happened in our family this spring I am resting in the fact that God is in control. As I long for that day when the call comes and the person on the other end tells me that our child has been matched with us, I know now that the Lord is allowing it to happen at a time when things in my life slow down a little bit. We have been at the top of our agencies' list since March 11. It has been officially 6 1/2 months since we began our wait...1 year and almost 2 months since we began the process. I knew it would be a long journey, but I honestly never expected it to be THIS long before we were matched with our baby. Yesterday I found out that another family in our agency was matched with their baby boy. I was thrilled for them, but at the same time a HUGE pang of jealousy and almost anger flooded me. I didn't really know how to respond. I felt like screaming...WHY GOD!?!?! I feel so ready, but for some reason she is not ready for us. We hear all of the time how orphanages in Africa are overflowing with children, but for some reason the orphanage we work with hasn't had one baby girl for 2 months. I don't get it. I carried my cell phone everywhere with me for about a month and now I don't even bother with it. So many things have happened in the Ethiopian adoption world. We were hoping to receive our referral before the two trip policy was implemented, but that didn't happen. Now, we have to travel twice...once for the court appearance, and then for the pick up trip. I don't know how I will be able to leave my child once I have held her. What a difficult thing that will be. I guess it will allow me to see my baby sooner. What an experience this is going to be. We had our FTIA play group at our house this weekend and it was so wonderful talking with the ladies. There were 4 of us there...all at different stanges in the adoption. One mom had her baby home. It was so awesome seeing baby "E" home and in the arms of her mommy. The joy and pride on her momma's face was overwhelming. Another mommy is waiting for her embassy appointment to travel to pick up her son "A". She was moved to tears holding baby "E". The longing for her son is almost unbearable. My heart went out to her. She is becoming a dear friend. The other mommy is still in the paperchase phase and will be a first time mom. She was so observant...taking it all in...longing to be a mommy. I am so excited for her to be on this journey to parenthood. Then there was me....waiting to be matched with my little girl. Hoping and praying each day that the phone will ring....saying every Monday that this will be the week we get "the call" only to get to Thursday evening and realize another week has gone by and no phone call. I know this all seems sad and depressing, but sometimes I feel like that. Believe it or not, I have remained very positive. I keep myself fairly busy with the kids and their activities. Preschool is done for the summer, soccer will be finished this week, the kids school will be finished next week, then summer camps and summer activities begin. I look forward to a few lazy days. We put our garden in and are busy doing the yard work so that is quite time consuming. Mowing 5 acres is VERY time consuming. Nathan turned 4 on the 11th of this month and we will be having his party this weekend. It will be fun watching him with all of his little friends. I am blessed beyond measure. I just long for my family to be together. Well...enough for now. I will be on again. It is good for me to get my feelings down.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Soon



We just returned from a wonderful family vacation in Florida. It was so nice spending a few relaxing days with my kids, my hubby, and my parents. We spent some time on the beach, at the pool, hanging out, and much more. It was so refreshing. I needed the getaway. I have been so consumed with our adoption...somewhat out of fear. We just found out that we have to have our referral by April 26 in order to get the paperwork to the courts by May 8th. If we don't, we will have to travel twice. We are willing to do this if we have to, but it will be a huge stretch financially for us and Andy doesn't really have the vacation time to do it. Technically this is possible since it is still only the 8th of April, but our coordinator emailed me and told me that she wasn't aware of any new children that have come in to the orphanage. When I heard this my heart sank and I almost felt like I could throw up. I know that may sound extreme, but I had so hoped for good news. We have been at the top of the list for 4 weeks now and I carry my phone with me everywhere I go. I even take it with me to the bathroom. Each week goes by and I almost find myself depressed about it, but then I realize that God is perfect and His timing is perfect. He will not give us more than we can handle and I know that our little one will be in our arms soon. It is just part of the journey.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Fasting

So...today I am fasting. I am on a Christian yahoo group for families adopting from Ethiopia. Every Wednesday they promote a 24 hour fast. I participated in the fast last week and really saw the Lord work. This week I am fasting and spending time praying for my baby girl. Even though we do not have a referral as of yet, I firmly believe she has been born and is waiting for us. I am praying that the Lord strengthens her and wraps His loving arms around her so that she feels the love of a parent. I am fervently asking the Lord to touch her body and keep her strong during this time in her little life. I cut off any rejection she may have experienced and ask the Lord to shower her with His everlasting love. I pray that we will be matched with her quickly so that the proper care can be given to her. Bless the nannies who care for her and may they treat her as if she were their very own. Thank you Jesus for hearing the cry of my heart and the longing you have placed within my me. I trust You with my baby.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ok...So it has been awhile...again

Well life has really been crazy around here. I haven't posted in a while because of everything that has happened in the last month and a half. On Sunday, January 31 Andrea got really sick. She was throwing up and complaining of stomach pain. By Monday she had quit throwing up but she started having a temp of 102. We dismissed this because there was so much stomach flu going around that we just assumed this is what was what she had. By Thursday she still had this temp and was still complaining of slight discomfort in her tummy. We called the dr and she said that it was probably viral. By Monday she still had a temp so Andy took her in to get checked out. The dr said she still thought the temp was from a virus and her stomach pain was because of constipation (even though she had gone to the restroom). By Thursday she was still running a temp and had tummy pain when you pressed on it. She would have a temp of 99-100 in the morning and by 4pm she would be up to 102. We called again and the nurse said she could run a fever for up to 2 weeks and we did not need to come in. Friday we headed out to Gatlinburg to meet up with my parents for a weekend getaway. Since the dr wasn't concerned we just kept with our original plans. However, on our way there we called and demanded that some blood work be ordered so that we could get to the bottom of her fever. All weekend she was lethargic and not up to par as her fever ran its usual patter of lowgrade in the morning and getting higher as the day progressed. The dr reluctantly called in the bloodwork tests and as soon as we returned we took her in for the test (Tuesday). The dr didn't even request a follow-up appt. Wednesday morning I was a wreck and insisted that the dr see us that morning. Andy and I loaded her up and headed to the dr hoping that we would get some answers. When we got there some of the blood work had arrived and they showed that she had some inflammation in her body. The dr then said that she sent it to rheumatology to get their input. I kept saying that I thought it was her tummy because she still complained of it hurting in the area of her appendix, but the dr dismissed my concerns (which I had had since the beginning of all of this). She pressed on her tummy and said, "Well, maybe...she does hurt right by where her appendix is located." So, Andy asked if we could get a scan of her abdomen and she finally consented. We went right over to the CT scan place and waited for over 2 hours for the results. Poor Andrea was asleep on the couch in the waiting room. Finally the dr called us and said that they can't find the appendix on the scan but it appears it might be chronic appendicitis. She sent us to Riley Children's Hospital. When we arrived the surgeon compared her CT scan to one she had had last summer and said that it looked as if her appendix had ruptured. They took her back to emergency surgery not knowing what they were getting into because the CT scan showed a mass of inflamed tissue. When they got in there the surgeon found the the appendix had literally exploded and he had to take it out piece by piece. The surgery took 2 hours to complete (normally this type of surgery would have been 30 minutes). He couldn't believe it had been ruptured for so long. She went 17 days with a ruptured appendix. It is a miracle she is alive. She spent 8 days in the hospital. The drs and nurses at Riley were absolutely amazing! The surgeon called her a miracle. Needless to say we no longer go to that pediatrician. We did several interviews with various drs and found one that we feel will fit us well. It was truly a scary experience, but one where we felt God in COMPLETE control. There were people all over the country lifting her up in prayer. Andy and I were peaceful the entire time. We knew that the Lord was keeping her. She is an amazing little girl and now has a testimony of the healing and keeping power of God. So now you can see why I haven't posted in a while. Andrea missed school the entire month of February. She did an amazing job of staying up on her school work. I am so proud of her. Last week she got a clean bill of health from her surgeon and is excited to be able to run again. As for adoption news, we found out that we are next in line to receive our referral. We pray that this will come quickly because there are so many changes taking place in Ethiopia right now.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Let it Snow

Mommy and Biscuit...our newest addition

Noah playing in the snow

Andrea eating the snow


Nathan being his cute self
I haven't posted in a while. We have been extremely busy with wrestling, basketball, school, violin, and piano. Andrea getting sick and the snow storm actually made us slow down for a little while. Actually, Andrea has had a fever for 11 days. We are spending a lot of time praying for her and resting. She has missed 5 days of school. I think the Lord sent the snow storm so she wouldn't miss any more (they have had 3 snow days in the past 2 weeks). We did go outside as a family last night and build a snow fort. We don't have any hills around our property so we made our own snow hill out of snow! FUN. Andy and I stayed outside longer than the kids. We have about 8 inches out there. I love the snow. I don't even mind getting out in it. The kids love it too. The picture at the top shows our newest little member of the family, Biscuit. She is a mini shnauzer and is the best puppy ever. I LOVE HER! We start puppy school tonight so we shall see how well she does!
On the adoption front, we are moving up the list!!! Another family just got a referral this week. A 4 yr. old girl has been matched with her forever family. I just love hearing their stories. This family has already adopted one little girl from Ethiopia and is now bringing home her sister. LOVE IT. There are also 2 families over there now picking up their babies. I can't wait to hear about their adventures and see their children. God is amazing. We are praying that they have safe trips. Andy and I need to go to the international doctor to get our shots for our trip. It is going to be here before we know it. I actually had a dream last night that I was holding our baby girl. She was so small, but had the face of a 6-8 month old child. Her hair was dark and fuzzy, and her eyes were dark, clear, and beautiful. She looked at me very intensely and felt so comfortable in my arms. She was a very calm little girl, almost as if she was taking it all in. I know the time is getting closer when I will actually hold my baby and look into her eyes. I long for that day.




Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Getting excited!

I am getting so excited about this adoption. There have been a flood of referrals this week, and court dates/travel is going quickly as well. This just brings me hope that my baby's "spot" is opening up at the orphanage. We are 3rd on the "list" for a baby girl. OVERJOYED. For some reason I keep get a feeling in my heart that the referral will come in March. I don't know if this is realistic or not, but I just keep hearing that. That will be one year since we started the process. I can't stop looking at the pictures of the children who will be coming home soon. It makes my heart swell. I told Andy the other night that we were 3rd and he said he is starting to get nervous....a good nervous. We have a lot of work to do to get ready for that day, but it will be worth it.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

News

Overjoyed today...a family in our adoption group passed court today. We will have 3 families travelling right around the same time. How much fun for them. I must admit I am a little jealous. I would love to be going over there with them, but our baby girl is not ready for us to come and get her. She probably hasn't even been born. But, I keep reminding myself that in God's perfect timing. There haven't been any referrals for quite some time. Honestly that is really depressing. I really want things to start moving. There are so many orphans in the world that need a home. Let's get a move on!