Saturday, March 12, 2011

Embassy Trip: Day Five (Hippo Trip)

Another early morning for us, but it was a pleasant night’s sleep. The power went out temporarily, but we were so exhausted we slept really well and didn’t notice it. We had a pleasant breakfast at the restaurant in the hotel, but one of the moms in our group started getting really sick. We loaded up the bus and headed over to lake Awassa for a boat ride to see the hippos. This place was absolutely beautiful. The grass was perfectly manicured and there was a swimming pool and a miniature putt putt golf course. The girls in the group went for a little golf game!!! We had our own private caddy too! We drank cokes in the shade overlooking the lake and had a great time, except for those getting sick L BOO!! A bunch of the people in the group were hesitant to go on the boat ride because it was really windy and the water was choppy. Andy and I loaded up though!!! We ride boats a lot and weren’t too worried. It was about a 45 minute ride over to the hippos, but it was fun and beautiful.
We got really close and saw a couple of young ones. It was a neat experience!!! I’ve only seen a hippo one other time and it definitely was not in the wild!
The ride back was much smoother. Once we got back we relaxed at the resort and looked for memory rocks for the kids. There were monkeys there too, but we didn’t venture over there. Our group decided to have lunch at this place by the water. The neat thing was that we were sitting right next to the second prime minister of Ethiopia!!! This would have never happened in the US. There were armed guards all around, but we didn’t really pay attention. Finally our guide told us who the important guy was and someone in our group took his picture. The guards soon surrounded us! A little scary!! We ate and loaded up the bus with the sick momma. Soon another person in our group got sick, poor Will. He got the same thing. We travelled back to the big city. When we had almost arrived home two others fell sick. One was even taken to the hospital that night to get rehydrated. We were really concerned because we did NOT want to get sick. We took a bunch of meds before we went to bed that night. We prayed and hoped for the best. The next day we would take custody of our baby girl. SOOOOO excited!!!

Embassy Trip: Day Four (Awassa Trip)

This morning came early as we watched the sunrise. Birtukan’s staff made us a great breakfast and we headed out early for the much anticipated trip to Awassa. We were all so giddy and excited about this adventure. I have looked forward to this trip so much. I was so eager to get a glimpse of Ethiopia outside of the city. It was so much more than I had ever anticipated. The poverty level we saw as we exited Addis was so intense.

Children were carrying jugs of water, four year olds were herding cattle/goats, children were half naked, donkeys were pulling huge carts full of corn, people were defecating along the roadside, houses were small and made of mud and straw, dryness was everywhere, and it went on for miles. It is really difficult to describe what I saw but I have a few pictures to show what we experienced. But I must say it was absolutely beautiful. The people were so striking and the countryside is outstanding and yet desolate.
We passed through several small villages and had to slow down or stop for the cattle crossing the street. Nothing like what you would experience in the states.

We stopped about ½ way to use the restroom. YUK. This was even considered a nice place. I don’t get grossed out by most things, but this was pretty disgusting; but, we were able to stretch our legs. We continued on the road and eventually arrived in Awassa. I must admit that I was surprised at what I saw. It was absolutely beautiful. It was like a tropical resort town. The streets were so manicured and there wasn’t much trash. It was like it an oasis in the middle of the vast desert. We checked into our hotel (beautiful) and headed to lunch at a resort… and I mean 4 star! It was set on Lake Awassa and had an unbelievable view. We were able to walk down to the shoreline. We saw men fishing with stick poles. The bad part about this meal was the some of the chicken was not cooked properly and 2 people in our group got severe food poisoning. I felt so bad for them. After lunch we headed to the original orphanage where Olivia was relinquished. Here we would get to see her birthmom and meet some of the nannies and children currently waiting.
As we walked into Shalom, we walked to the breezeway and saw a group of birthparents sitting in chairs. I looked at a woman and immediately knew that it was Olivia’s mother. I said to Andy, “There she is.” Even though there were others there, we both knew it was her… she looked just like Olivia. We kind of sat there awkwardly waiting for our turn to talk through translators. They decided to let us go on a tour of the orphanage. What I saw I will never forget. It was so sad. The faces of some of the children (particularly one little boy) will forever be etched in my mind. We walked into the main gathering room and saw about 15 toddlers just staring at us. They weren’t playing, in fact there weren’t any toys for them to play with. They just watch us with those big and beautiful Ethiopian eyes. One little boy who was sitting on the end in a blue and red shirt just watched me. I wanted to scoop him up and hold him, but they really didn’t want us to. We then moved to the baby rooms. Yes ROOMS. They were FILLED with infants that were soooo small. We counted about 20 infants under 4 months old. There were 2 little babies that were so sickly. I would be surprised if they survive. They were a couple of months old and looked like they were about 3 pounds. We saw a set of twin boys who broke my heart. NONE of the babies were crying. Bizarre. I had to get my mind off of it so I started to show the nannies pictures of our little girl and they immediately remembered her.

They were so thrilled to see her and see how well she was doing. They showed me her bed and we then exited the orphanage. I won’t forget what I saw. SO sad. Soon it was our turn to talk with our birthmother. Others had come out of their meetings crying, smiling, hugging. Mothers/fathers/grandmothers were hugging their photo albums and showing off their pictures. I was eager to get started. They called us all in and we gathered with the translators. We had such a feeling of anticipation as we sat across from her. She looked so sad and so nervous. Immediately I handed her the photo album of the baby and she quickly opened it. She instantly smiled and kissed the pictures. I saw recognition in her eyes and it was a beautiful sight to behold. I knew that I was giving her a very special and precious gift. I had Andy’s ipad so I read our list of questions and we were able to record her answers. They had to go through 2 translators so it was a bit awkward at first. We were able to ask some important questions about her family, her faith, her pregnancy, her feelings about us, her feelings about adoption, her hopes and dreams for Olivia, and even the difficult questions… the ones that are hard for all of us. She was so grateful that we recognized her as Olivia’s mother and that we made the long trip to meet her. It meant so much to her. I knew that the most important part of this trip was that we were able to help bring closure to this young mother, as well as find answers for our daughter. It was a surreal experience and I still find it difficult to talk about because of the emotions behind it. We hugged her and shared our hearts with her. We promised to raise her in the Lord and provide her with a good education. We promised to send her pictures and teach her about Ethiopia. We got several pictures and were able to get some video of her as well. These are all special things for our daughter and private as well. She can choose to share this information when she is older if she wishes, but until then it is locked in my heart for her. I am changed from this meeting and I will always cherish this young woman who was so beautiful and scared.

After everyone had their meetings we gathered together for one large group picture with all of the birth parents. We then loaded up the bus and headed to a traditional Ethiopian wedding!!! So different from what we had just experienced. Sisay, our court representative, had gotten married and asked us to attend his traditional marriage. We even sat in the front row!!! It was outside at night and the bride and groom sat in a room with the doors open so that we all could see them. Their pastor preached from Genesis 2 and started by apologizing that he was speaking in Amharic… we all laughed!! The goat brayed all throughout the ceremony, but thankfully we left before the killing of the goat/sheep. It was a really neat experience though. We headed back to the hotel and ordered our supper. Another family with us met with their birth mom while we ate because they couldn’t find her earlier. They were so nervous, but we were so happy that they were able to have their meeting. Everyone had a good experience and enjoyed their meetings. It had been a long day and we were all ready to go to bed. We headed to our rooms and everyone crashed!!! What a day!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Embassy Trip: Day Three

No pictures for today's post, but I will share about Friday. This was an exciting morning because we were reunited with our court buddies!!!! The good news came for some of them after we had already left. They were still able to make it for the same embassy date. They had less notice than we did! WOW. One family stayed with us at Morning Coffee while the others stayed at Jemimah... two very different guest houses. We were just so extremely blessed to have had the opportunity to stay with Birtukan twice. She is my BFF in Ethiopia!!!! After breakfast we loaded up the bus and picked up the other families then headed to the orphanage. It was a little awkward because they were video taping for the families lifebooks. We waited outside for a little bit and then snuck around to go pick up our girl. To get out of the way we headed outside and enjoyed some of the kids singing for us. It was wonderful. We were able to record some of it, but I wish we would have gotten much more. I wish we could have recorded more of the language and more of the people while we were there. That is one thing I regret was my failure to take more pictures and record more video. I had every intention to do more of this during this trip, but failed miserably. Nevertheless, we will treasure what we did get and most of it is forever etched into my memory. We will go back though. We were even talking about that today. Andrea has such a passion for it. It is one of her greatest desires. I may have a little missionary on my hands!!!! After we spent the morning with Olivia and enjoying the kids, we said goodbye for our last time at the orphanage. The next time we go see her, we will be picking her up FOR GOOD!!! It felt so good saying goodbye this time. I know that sounds weird, but I wasn't sad at all and I was ready to go. There was much in store for us in the next couple of days. We would be making a trip of a lifetime and meeting the young woman who brought our daughter into this world. We were going to see where she lived for the first months of her life and a part of me knew that this was going to be BIG (and it was). So we left the gates childless for the last time and headed to the Topview restaurant. This was like a 4 start restaurant and we ate for less than $20. CRAZY! We then spent the afternoon shopping. I knew exactly what I wanted and had missed during our first trip. I sent Andy one way and I went the other. We both did some "price negotiating" and loaded up our bags. Abel is a task master on the shopping trips. You MUST be quick. So, if you are yet to travel, make a list and go quickly. There are only a couple of things that I wish I would have gotten, but I know that I am going back and will get them in the future. Plus, other people will be traveling soon. I love to shop over there. Fun times (poor Andy)! If Andrea is going to go with me, she needs to learn how to shop quickly. She takes her time and there just isn't enough time with Abel. We ate at the traditional restaurant for supper and enjoyed some crazy dancing. I wish I could move like they do, but my body is not cut out for that... Andy on the other hand... hmmmmm.
Stay tuned for our birth parent trip!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Embassy Trip: Day Two

I had better get busy or I'm never going to get our trip completed, plus I want to start talking about all of Olivia's progress. So, here we go... day two. So we get off of the airplane and literally RUN to the visa line because we knew that if we didn't pass up most of the people we would have to wait FOREVER to get our entrance visa. We got down to the line and were like 3rd in line!!! We quickly got stamped and went through we decided to go back to the bank and exchange our currency but when we went back through the line they tried to stop us again! I almost felt like a criminal trying to go through. They looked closely at us and let us go through. We went to get our bags and ALL of them made it through!!!! We waited for are travel buddies to get all of their bags and headed out. The mass of Ethiopians looking at us was overwhelming once again. Even though we saw this last time, it was overwhelming once again. Andy went and found Abel, our favorite travel guide, and off we went. As we drove to the guesthouse both of us commented on how it felt like we had arrived at home. We made it to the guesthouse and were welcomed with the BIGGEST hug from Birtukan. She is the best!!!! She ushered us up to our rooms so that we could rest up for our visit with our baby later that day. But first, she fed us BREAKFAST!!!!! Her pancakes are amazing. But before we ate, Andy ran up and got a gift we had brought for her. When we were there at court, her blender blew up because of the electrical current. We brought her one that she could plug in with NO adapter. She was sooooo excited. With bellies full, we went up to our room and rested. I got under the covers and Andy said, "You had better not do that or you won't wake up!" Next thing I know, Andy is getting under the covers too. We forgot to even shut the door to our room. Moments later (more like 2 hours, but it felt like moments) Brittany knocked on the door and said it was time to go. So, off we went to the orphanage!!!! It was soooo wonderful to walk into Shalom and see our baby girl. She was on the floor and I almost didn't recognize her. Andy said go get her, she is the one looking at you!!! Yes, daddy recognized her before I did. I went and scooped her up and we cuddled and played for the next couple of hours. The video crew was there to capture our time with her as well. It was weird, but we know we will cherish it. Soon, daddy was outside playing with the older kids. I think he secretly likes soccer!!! We also had the opportunity to love on some of our friends kids! Emily T (our fellow FTIA family) has a baby girl there that is very tiny. We were able to take some pictures and video for her. I was so excited to do this because I remember how important it was for us to get those pictures from other traveling families. We also got to see some other kids we loved on while we were there for court. So awesome. They were excited to see us too. We soon loaded up and headed back to the guesthouse. Great day!!!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Embassy Trip: Day One

The journey to Ethiopia began with an incredibly crazy weekend full of unknowns. We got the email on Thursday, January 27 that we may have the Embassy appointment of the 8th, but they weren't sure! That would mean that we would need to leave the following week. Noah came down with the stomach flu and we had the cubscout Monster Truck Jam on Saturday. We were ready to go though. All of the unknowns were really pulling at us. We told them that we were willing to wait until the 8th since Noah was sick and we really wanted to make the birth family visit. If we went that weekend, we would not have been able to go to Awassa which was something we felt we MUST do. We waited through the weekend hoping for news. Finally on Monday morning while I was at work, my friend Brittany called who was also waiting on an Embassy appointment. She said, "Did you get the email?" I hadn't because I had twelve 3 and 4 year olds all around me waiting for our next project. I told her I would call her back and we would talk after work. I knew then that we were going. The scary thing was... A MAJOR SNOW STORM WAS ON ITS WAY!!!!!! Andy booked our tickets for Wednesday but we still weren't sure how the storm would pan out. That afternoon we realized that this was going to be a serious weather issue and we may not get out of Indianapolis. We frantically decided to move our flights up to Tuesday morning to get us out of Indy and into DC. We would then spend the night there for our Wednesday flight to Ethiopia. We had nowhere for the kids to go. My mom was suppose to fly up from Florida, but my dad was concerned about the weather and wasn't going to put her on a flight until Thursday. What on EARTH were we going to do with our other 3 kiddos!!!! We had to go, but really were at a loss. I got on the phone with some friends and in the matter of an hour we had their entire schedule for the week worked out. I love it how the family of God steps up for each other in times of need. My mom then worked it so she could get here on Thursday barring no more bad weather. We loaded the kids and their gear up for the week and took them to our friend's house. Monday night we spent packing up and cleaning. We still weren't sure if we were going to be able to get out of Indy because the storm was so bad. At 6am our pastor arrived to take us to the airport. The roads were EXTREMELY ice covered. There was about a 1/2 inch of ice on the roads with more moving into the area. I could barely walk to the car. He made Andy drive his car because he was so nervous driving!!!! We got to the airport and found that only certain flights were leaving... and ours was one of them!!! We boarded the plane and arrived in DC. Right after we left, they closed the Indy airport because of the icy conditions. God got us out just in time!!!! We met up with Will and Brittany that night for dinner and eagerly anticipated our trip to Addis. This was the first time we had met them in person and we had a great time at dinner with them. I think the Lord is building a lasting friendship!!! The next day we headed to the airport and checked in for the long 12 hour flight. We met up with another mom, Dana (who was a lifesaver in ET) and her mom Claire. We were all on the same flight. Brittany loaded us up with antibiotic ointment in our noses with q-tips!!!!! I'm sure we looked hilarious with Q-tips hanging out of our noses. I wish I would have gotten pictures... but hey, anything to prevent sickness right?~!?!! I also ran to the shop to pick up some all American Hershey bars for our church's sponsored children!!! They had to have some American chocolate!!! The plane ride was great. No problems whatsoever. We watched a few movies and caught some shut eye. We knew that we would be seeing our precious baby girl SOON!!!!! We had waited soooo long to go back and get her. I was really relaxed on the trip. Andy had a bit of anxiety when we first started and he had to work through it. We had started our malaria drugs and he was nervous about it. But, no worries... he was fine!!! So after an unplanned early departure, a day spent in DC, and a 12 hour flight, we FINALLY arrived in Addis Ababa. It was really wonderful flying over the city in the daytime. The last time we arrived, it was the middle of the night so we weren't able to catch a glimpse of the beautiful land from the air. I went to the bathroom on the plane and tried to peak out the window but the flight attendant yelled at me. I think she thought I was going to open the door or something!!! I will write about our first day in Ethiopia in my next post. Until then... here are a couple of pictures:
Daddy tickling his girl
Miss Olivia at the orphanage
Our travel Buddies... Will and Brittany with their precious Tytus

Friday, February 18, 2011


Well, if you haven't heard it by now I will shout it from the rooftops... WE ARE HOME!!!!! Miss Olivia Bereket Michelle Cottongim has arrived home at 9 months and 8 days old. She is a whopping 17 lbs. 14 oz. and 27 inches long. The delivery was a 17 hour plane ride from Addis Ababa to Rome and then to DC... followed by 1 1/2 hours from DC to Indy. It was a long labor, but the results are so perfect. She is one amazing little girl. I cannot describe how much I love her and how wonderful it is to have her home. It is quite surreal actually. Many times I feel like I'm just babysitting this beautiful baby, but deep in my heart I know that she is mine and no one can take her away. The trip to get her home was absolutely wonderful and it was full of lots of STUFF!!! I have been home one week today and I am still trying to process everything that happened. I believe God is working something deep in my heart. A lot happened... good and bad, but God's hand was in it all... just like it has been throughout this entire journey. We met some amazing people along the way and watched lasting friendships begin anew. I will never forget the 8 days we spent in Ethiopia this time around; I am forever changed (again). A part of my heart remains there... with the culture, the countryside, but especially the people... people I will never forget. Burtikan - a woman wise beyond her years, whom I love with a passion. Abel - a young man with a heart of gold who loves his country. Firew - another young man working hard to please God and desires to do his job well. Blen - a social worker who loves the children she overseas and who cried as we pulled away. Olivia's nanny - like a mother to my baby, I will forever be grateful for the love she showed my daughter. Z - my baby's birthmother; a woman who gave me a gift I will cherish forever. All of these people have a special place nestled within the depths of my heart. I cannot describe my feelings for each of them. Words cannot do them justice. I will chronicle my days during this trip, but I could not begin this portion without addressing these very special people who made my trip so memorable and who have changed my life. Thank you.

Friday, January 28, 2011

We Wait Yet Again....

We were hoping that we would get confirmation on our travel dates today, but that didn't happen. Unfortunately, we now have to wait until Monday. UGH!!! If I have learned anything it is how to wait. I don't have it mastered by any means. I am not the most patient person, especially when it comes to my kids. All I can think about is getting on that plane and getting my girl. She has no idea that her life is about to be rocked!!! I pray right now that her transition will be smooth and without heartache. I know that at 8 1/2 months she is beginning to form bonds with caregivers. I know that she has come to rely on and love the people who are caring for her. I cannot imagine how heartbreaking it might be for her (and for her nannies). But, I am asking the Lord to comfort her heart and let her sense the peace that passes all understanding. This kind of peace is the kind that only comes from the Lord. I will be there for her and I will love her and I will comfort her, but I can't do it like God can. I has known her since she was knit in her mother's womb. He knows every hair that is on her head. He knew about that little freckle on her finger before I did. He knew that she would have the most beautiful eyes and gentle spirit. Please Lord let this transition be easy for her.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

We're coming to get you baby girl!!!!!!

Yesterday was a relatively normal day. I had preschool in the morning, then I met my good friend and fellow adoptive mom Lynn at Chick-fil-a for a playdate. I then ran to the grocery to pick up some much needed supplies before I picked up the kids from school. I came home, after picking up the kids, and as I was carrying groceries into the house my cell phone rang. I noticed it was an 812 area code. My first thought was... why is my brother calling me, he never calls. Then I realized it probably wasn't him since he never calls. Then my brain flashed back to our referral call and remembered that it was an 812 number. Isn't it amazing what can flash through your mind in a split second! I answered the phone and on the other line I hear a kind voice that said, "Are you ready to go to Ethiopia?" Well of course I screamed and said yes. She then said who it was and that they had just received confirmation from the Embassy that we have been approved to travel. I could hardly believe what I was hearing!!!! She said she didn't have exact dates but they had an idea of when travel would be so to start getting ready. We will know for certain tomorrow. I hung up the phone and ran downstairs and screamed to Andy... "We're going to AFRICA!!!". I danced around in circles and he had a look on his face that said... what are you talking about. I then explained that I had just gotten off of the phone with our case manager and that we were approved to go get our girl. We are coming to get you baby girl!!!!! Mommy and Daddy will be there soon. I can't wait to hold you. The kids soon came downstairs because of all of the commotion and we asked them what they have been looking forward to for sooo long. Andrea yelled... BABY OLIVIA. We said yep, we are going to go get her! She climbed onto my lap and started to cry. We then decided to go out to eat to celebrate. I am still in shock that we are finally at this point in our journey. I can't believe she will be home with us so soon. I am overwhelmed with joy and gratitude to my heavenly Father. He answered our prayers.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Today's Update

We received an email from our adoption coordinator this morning and it stated that the Vice Consular Chief has returned from his journey south to investigate the orphanages. He spent the day today writing reports and will issue his report on Bethany soon. These reports will start coming in tomorrow (Bethany may not be the first to receive theirs since many orphanages and agencies were involved in these investigations). So, we just wait our turn. They said this investigative report could have an invitation to travel or it may request more information. Since we have not been pulled into field investigations, we should be ok. So we are praying that the report for our agency will be done quickly and we will receive our invite!!! They also reported that the embassy will be accepting families on several different days and will not be limiting them to 10 slots every 2 weeks. This is REALLY good news because there are almost 30 families ready to travel from our agency!!! We would be spread out over several weeks and the thought of that was really depressing! Now we could go at any time (which in some respects is a little more stressful). We are ready though. We hope we can get my mom up here quickly to watch the kids! She has to fly up from Florida. Talk about crazy. So, we are hopeful for some good news this week! Keep praying.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My New Look

Yes. This is my new look. I completely look like this crazy woman! There is so much going on with our agency and the embassy that I feel so out of control. Ig uess it is a good thing that I realize that, but it doesn't make it any easier. I am going CRAZY!!!! I want my BABY!!!!! I can't really share the details about what we heard today, but it is enough to make one sick. I feel soooo badly for the family that found out some crazy news today, but I am happy that they get to go pick up their child. I am praying that we will hear something soon. We did find out that we may have more opportunities for travel rather than just every 2 weeks. They will let us know more as soon as they find something out. I just feel blah!!!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The mountain

Yesterday and today we were able to participate in the Bethany bi-weekly conference call. It honestly feels really good to by-pass our coordinator and get it semi-directly from the source. Even though we aren't speaking directly with the staff in ET, we are talking to the people at the national branch that filters through all of the information. We found out some good things: 1) 3 cases have been approved for embassy appointments and one of those is a Shalom case! 2) They have NOT requested any further information regarding our particular case, which indicates they have all that they need. 3) The Vice Consular Chief is suppose to travel out to the orphange this week. 4) Bethany will be in contact with the Embassy again on Thursday. 5) We are still hopeful for the Feb. 1 Embassy date. I know this does not seem like a lot of information, but it is more progress than we have seen in over a month. We are still trying to remain optimistic about it. Andy just has a feeling that we will be hearing something in the next few days. I hope he is right. To be honest I have really been struggling and I need some Hope to grab onto. I know Jesus is our source of Hope, but sometimes we simple minded people need something tangible, some kind of confirmation. I know in the grand scheme of things this wait does not seem like a very long time, but with all of the unknowns hanging there it seems like an eternity. I appreciate all of your support and prayers as we traverse this journey. This portion of our sojourn is almost complete, but it feels like the last 100 yards before the summit... tough, grueling, tiresome, draining. But once we reach the summit, what a sight we will behold! We will have our girl in our arms!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


We had a BLAST yesterday with a group of friends! We had a last minute get together with other adoptive families. Two families drove over from Ohio and 2 families came from the Indy area. With 5 families there were 11 kids represented from 3 different countries! We spent the first part of the afternoon catching up while the kids ran around the house and played. We then fired up the four wheeler and hooked a sled to it with a rope. All of the kids took turns on the sled while I dragged them around the property... even though there wasn't much snow! We know how to have a good time. I don't have a picture to post, but even the littles got out there and had a blast. One little even cried hysterically when he had to get off of the sled! I wish we had a bigger sled with more snow so that more kids could ride at one time. One of the mommas got on the sled too!!!! After everyone came in and warmed up it was time for homemade pizzas. All of the kids got a pile of dough and they got to make their own pizza crust into whatever shape they wanted (we had squares, circles, a gingerbread man, a really long breadstick thing, ovals, Ethiopia shapes, etc). Lots of CREATIVITY!!! The kids were then able to put whatever topping they wanted on their pizza. The grown-ups had YUMMY homemade wheat crust with YUMMY toppings. My friend Lynn brought salad and chocolate pie!!! Fun times at the Cottongim house. It will be so great when Miss Olivia joins the group for some fun. Hopefully we will hear some good news later this week. We did find out that our case has NOT been selected for investigation, so that is really good news. We have a conference call this afternoon so maybe we will get some more info. Until then, here is a picture of Nathan and his little friend eating their pizza creations!!

Friday, January 14, 2011


We received some news yesterday regarding our case and all of the cases that come from our orphanage that have been submitted to the Embassy. We had a conference call with the director of the ET program and other families in our situation. They received word that the Vice Consulate Chief will be going to the orphanage in Awassa to "check everything out" sometime next week. We don't know what day he/she will be going or how long he/she will be staying. We do know that this person contacted our agency and got a contact name/phone number/ and driving directions to the orphanage. They aren't giving us any timeline other than this. They do hope to "wrap up" the cases from this orphanage after this visit. Our agency is very confident that this person will find things in order and will be pleased with their findings. This was encouraging, but there were others on the call who were talking about worse case scenarios and I could hardly handle it. The good news is they told us to wait a couple of weeks before we apply to CIS for an extension on our I-171H. This made it sound like they were hopeful for a quick resolution. My prayer is that this person will go early this week and find out that everything is in order quickly and return so that cases can be processed for the next embassy appointments. Our agency was able to send one family for embassy next week. I must admit I was discouraged by this because we should have gone a couple of weeks ago. I have had a rough couple of days and I just need to try to keep my mind occupied. There's nothing we can do except pray.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

An amazing find!!

Check out this beautiful doll. She just came in the mail today! She is slightly smaller than an American Girl doll, but the quality is awesome!!! She is gorgeous. We ordered her from Target and I am amazed at her beauty. We will be putting her back for future birthdays. Even her jewelry is beautiful.

Turn your head to notice that a portion of the proceeds go to World Vision!

What's happening at home!

With everything going on with the adoption, it's easy to lose sight of all of the fun we are still having at home. We have been pretty busy and we are still enjoying ourselves. We had quite a bit of snow this week and we quickly got our snow gear on and enjoyed the great outdoors. It was still a little cold, but we went out and had a great time. We wanted to build a snow fort, but the snow was not the kind you can pack. It was really powdery. The kids still had a great time running around (and so did the dogs!).

Nathan licking the snow off of his face
Andrea closing her eyes as the wind blows

Noah giving us his toothless grin

Molly wondering why we have to be out in the cold

Biscuit enjoying the snow

The playground

This past weekend Noah participated in his first Cubscout Derby! He did AWESOME!!! There were 32 cars that raced that night and he finished in the top 5. We were soooo proud of him. He was just excited to get to play with the car after the race. Because of all of the stuff you have to do to the car to make sure it runs smoothly, Noah couldn't play with it. He won several of the races too! We are sooo proud of him. We look forward to next year's race. Daddy is already planning ahead for what he is going to do differently to make it run faster!!

Monday, January 10, 2011

United in Prayer

Yesterday I posted on the Bethany Forum about how I felt that we are under attack as adopting parents as well as the entire adoption program in Ethiopia. I encouraged others to join me in prayer for all of our adoptions and the result has been unbelievable. We have the next month covered in prayer and fasting!!! I firmly believe that this will overflow into future months. I believe in the power of prayer, and I firmly believe in the power of unified prayer. We are really looking forward to the results of this prayer and fasting. These results range from changed lives for the one fasting including a deeper relationship with God to seeing positive results in the adoption program in Ethiopia. I know that I serve a powerful Lord. I know He answers prayers. I know that His heart is bent to those seeking Him. I know that God wants the orphan placed in families. I know that He is capable of moving mountains. I believe we will see big things these next couple of months. Join us in the prayer and fasting!!!

As for our case, we did not receive any word today regarding us traveling for the 18th, so we are focusing our prayers for the 1st of Feb. Let's go God!!!!!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Still Hopeful

I know that it is highly unlikely for us to get the Jan. 18 Embassy date, but we still remain hopeful. We will know tomorrow or Tuesday if we are invited or not. I am learning to not get too worked up over it, but to trust in the Lord to renew my strength. It is not an easy wait, but it is out of our control. All we can do is trust Him to get us through to the next step, and that is bringing her home. I can get all nervous and worked up; I can worry and distressed; I can become consumed with it. But that is not what He wants. He calls me to trust in Him... to put my petitions before Him... to rest in Him. Sometimes our choices are made once and that is all that is needed. But this choice is one that I have to make minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. I admit that I don't always make the choice to trust Him and rest in Him. I get caught up in the moment and forget about God and His role in my life and our baby's life. I take it all personally. I even get mad at God sometimes. I admit that I just want to bring my baby home. I want to get her out of institutionalized care and into the arms of a family that loves every little part of her. It has been soooo long. Maybe God wanted her to experience Ethiopian Christmas (which was Jan. 7, Friday) in her birth country. Maybe they celebrated in a special way that needed to be imprinted into her spirit. I know we will look at Jan. 7 differently from now on. It will be a day focused on the Lord and the land of our daughter's birth. So, we are fervently praying for good news this week... hoping for the next Embassy date, but acknowledging that the Lord is in control and He has a divine plan for our daughter's homecoming.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Another Day

Another day has come and gone and we still don't know anything more than we knew 2 weeks ago. I so long for a timeline. I have been working on her bedroom and filling her dresser. I do hope she can wear the clothes in it. If we go too long, she will have outgrown everything and we will have to start over. I am still trying to stay optimistic for the 18th of this month being our new embassy date, but I have nothing promising it. I just want to be prepared. That means we would leave next week. It's not looking too good since we haven't heard anything yet. How long do they need? Lord, please make it quick.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Life has been extremely busy since we returned from our court trip. We quickly jumped into the Christmas festivites including several programs, parties, snow days, decorations, family, etc., etc. It almost seems like a blur. Christmas morning was so fun. The kids could hardly sleep on Christmas Eve and Noah was up at 5am. I repeat... 5am. We didn't get to bed until nearly 2am so we were pretty sleepy on Christmas day. We then headed to my parents for our annual family Christmas brunch. We spent the rest of the day enjoying the kids, playing games, and resting. The next day we celebrated at our house with the Cottongim side of the family and had another great time together. Once all of the Christmas festivites calmed down, we soon found out that our case had been submitted to the Embassy and we were given an "unofficial" invitation to travel for the Jan. 4 Embassy date. We were somewhat in limbo because we didn't know if we should purchase tickets. A few days went by and we still were not given any indication if we were suppose to travel. By Thursday we went ahead and purchased tickets because they kept going up in price so we didn't want to risk them going up any more. The worst that could happen is that we could have to pay a rescheduling fee. Unfortunately our agency was extremely slow in getting us information so we contacted someone in country ourselves to hear what was going on. By Tuesday (24 hours before we were suppose to travel) we got ahold of someone in country and found out that we were not invited to travel at this time and we would not know when we would be. My heart just broke. I was soooo looking forward to bringing home our lovely little girl for the New Year. We know that God has His perfect timing, but it is difficult to see why the delay is now necessary. She is legally our daughter in Ethiopia. We are just waiting on the US Embassy to issue her a visa and invite us to travel. The disappointing part is that they only have appointments every 2 weeks, so if we don't get the next upcoming date we are pushed out another 2 weeks. If you could remember to (particularly this upcoming week) please pray daily for our case to be completed. I can't imagine waiting much longer to bring home little Miss O. After holding her and getting to know her preciousness, I long for her more than I can describe. The bags sit in our foyer ready to go (well... almost ready to go, I am re-evaluating how to pack and what I want to take). I need to focus on the upcoming week since school begins. Hopefully we will hear something this week.