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Friday, January 29, 2010

Tentative Travel Dates!!

Yesterday we received our tentative travel dates from our agency. We're planning to fly to Ethiopia the last weekend in February, and return the first weekend in March. There are certain pieces of paperwork that need to be completed by certain deadlines before we go, so when those are completed, we'll be given our "concrete" travel dates. This should happen in about a week, and then we should know whether these are, in fact, our travel dates . . . or at least find out that they're still tentative for whatever reason. We're also waiting to hear back from the in-country staff to see if it's possible for us to meet Isaiah's birth mom while we're there. Once we have all this established, we'll be able to go ahead and purchase our plane tickets.

So why does it seems so close, but still so far away??
;o)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

More Pictures

The family who took our second care package to Isaiah last week was able to email us some new pictures last night. She said that she wasn't able to email us all of them,and unfortunately, blogger won't let me upload the ones she was able to send. I sent her our mailing address, so hopefully we will be receiving a disk with all of the pictures in a few days. She was also so kind to get us Isaiah's footprint so we can be sure we pack the right sized shoes for him!

We also got an update for Isaiah from the nannies at our agency's transition home where he has been living. They sent us three new pictures (wearing the second outfit we sent him), as well as updates on his size and answers to a few more specific questions regarding his development. And so encouraging to see his smile - hopefully it won't be long before we get to see it in person!



We don't know our travel dates yet, but hopefully soon. We'll see. We're using this time to finish up our list of things we need to do, purchase, and gather before we leave. I'm also working on some very basic Amharic words and phrases to help us communicate with Isaiah and allow us to understand his basic needs. Hopefully this will make the whole transition a bit less scary for him!

Friday, January 22, 2010

So, what's next??

We were asked this question several times yesterday, so I thought I would post something on here. Right now, officially and legally, Isaiah is adopted, he is our son, and we are absolutely thrilled!

The next step is to get ready for travel. We don't know when we will be going to Ethiopia yet, but our agency is doing all they can to get us there as soon as possible. We should find out our tentative travel dates sometime next week. The dates will remain "tentative" until a week or two before we leave because of all of the paperwork that needs to be done between now and the time we are in Ethiopia. They plan our travel around the expected time line for all of this paperwork to get done, but we're dealing with the government, so there is always the possibility of delay. The usual time spent in Ethiopia is 7-10 days.

Another question that often comes when we discuss travel (and that I'll admit always makes me laugh out loud) is "So are you taking the kids with you?" While I appreciate the sincerity of the question, my initial response is "are you serious?" :o) So, no, they will not be going with us. While this will be hard for all of us since we have never been away from them for more than 2 nights, there is no doubt it is the best option for our family. Besides the added cost of four more plane tickets, etc., it is a 17 hour flight, then there's jet lag, then there's the fact that we're picking up another child while we're there, who will likely be scared and have some huge adjustments to say the least . . . and then there's the 17 hour flight back followed by more jet lag! And it will give us some time with just us and Isaiah before he joins the whole clan.

We are thrilled, we are excited, we are humbled, we are blessed beyond all that we could ask or think! I am amazed to tears when I think of how God has led us to and through this path, that He has allowed us to follow Him, and allowed us to serve Him in this way! We don't deserve His goodness, and yet He has chosen to show it to us in abundance!!

Thank you all, so much for your continued prayers, support, and excitement for us. God has faithfully lead and provided all the way, and we have no doubt that He will continue to hold our entire family of 7 (!!!!) in His hands!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

WE PASSED!!!!!! HE'S OUR SON!!!!!!!!

video

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Perspective

This week has been a weird mix of emotions for me. On the one hand I am mind-blowingly excited in anticipating our court date next week. On the other hand, as I look at world events, particularly this tragic earthquake in Haiti, my heart is completely broken. I am struck with the self-centeredness that seems to predominate not only the American heart, but even more sadly, those hearts that claim to know the One who is love. And I include myself in that mix. How easy it is for me to go about my daily life, stop to watch the news with a "how sad" comment or thought and then go on my way, into my life, with no real lasting effect.

For obvious reasons in my own life, I have been struck in particular with the children that are affected by this horrible event - the many who were already orphans, and the many more, I am sure, who are now facing that situation for the very first time. My heart breaks for the many families, I am sure, who are in the process of adopting children from Haiti who are now in emotional upheaval not knowing if or how this will delay the already very lengthy process. I am praying for those children and those families!

On an encouraging note, but still along those lines, another adoptive family - one who is also adopting from Ethiopia through our same agency - posted a note this week telling us how a friend of theirs who is in the process of adopting from Haiti, was able to actually see their child because the Nightline crew went and found their little girl! (you can see the clip on the ABC News Nightline website, titled "The Haiti Miracle: "Tell her we love her'") And how now their Congressman is now involved, and they may be able to get an expedited visa. It just reminds me of how our God works all things together for our good and His glory!

As far as what is going on here, just more waiting ;o) On Monday night I was able to get together with two other women from our area whose families are in the process of adopting from Ethiopia as well, also with our agency. And one of those women invited a friend who has been home since August with her Ethiopian son. It was great! The conversation was wonderful, informative and encouraging . . . and that little boy just lit up all of our faces! It was great to finally meet some families in our area with whom we will, Lord willing, be able to fellowship and give our sons a chance to play with other children in the same situation as they are.

So, Thursday's the BIG day!!! Actually, as I mentioned before, the court hearing will take place while we sleep (or not!!) from Wednesday night into Thursday a.m. Our family coordinator said she will call us Thursday morning with the court results. I don't think I'll be getting much sleep this week, let alone Wednesday night!!!

Right now, I truly feel like I'm about to explode with excitement and anticipation! I told my kids that I know that God knows how very much we want to pass court the first time around and not have to wait any longer . . . but I am also quite aware that this may not be what He wants. And so I am praying for grace, for mercy, for peace. Not only that I can make it to Thursday morning without killing all of those around me ;o) but also that if we don't pass - if God DOES want us to wait longer - that I will be good with that. That, as we're reminded in the book of James, my Heavenly Father will give me the strength to "remain under"!

I know I've posted it on here before, but this is a verse that I've kept up over my desk for the last several months and has been a great challenge and encouragement. Simple, but difficult. But I have found, that it is a whole lot easier to wait when I am not looking at peoples' faces, waiting on human beings to get done what I think should've been done last week - but instead I am looking into my loving Heavenly Father's face, realizing that if I am waiting, I am truly waiting on Him because He is Sovereign in all things. That is comforting because I know He is Love, He is Faithful, He is Good, and He WILL do His best for His children!

"For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him."
Psalm 62:5

Saturday, January 9, 2010

the PUZZLE

To see updates, click on the link in the right-hand column.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

This week in our adoption . . .

As we wait for our court date to come around - really only 2 weeks from tomorrow! - we are continuing to plan and prepare as much as we can. In addition to the normal household activities, putting all the Christmas stuff away, etc., we have been rearranging furniture, cleaning and organizing to get everything ready for when the Lord allows us to bring our little guy home. On Monday Joe received the 3 shots that I got last week. We've also got some kind of virus going through our family right now, so he's not sure if he's feeling "off" from the immunizations or if he's coming down with something.

This is a care package we got ready and mailed to a family in Pittsburgh who will be leaving next week to go pick up their daughter in Ethiopia. They will deliver this package to our little guy and also be able to take some new pictures for us! (his name is crossed out in the center since we haven't passed court yet, so we can't post it on here.)

Regarding our court date on January 21. This court hearing will take place in Ethiopia and, some have asked, no, we do not have to be there for this. Because Ethiopia is 8 hours ahead of us, our court hearing will actually take place while we sleep from Wednesday night, 1/20, to Thursday morning, 1/21. If we don't pass court, a new court date will be set. If we do, then plans will be made to travel to Ethiopia about 4-5 weeks later.

This is our stash that we have begun to compile of things we will need for our trip to ET as well as donations for the orphanages and transition homes there.

At some point over the last several years, I have made each of our children a fleece throw blanket of their own. We wanted to do the same for our little guy, so Joe and I picked out this fleece and I was able to get the blanket put together this week. Not a complicated project, but something we wanted to get done to welcome our little guy home.


We were also able to put together the final pieces of "the PUZZLE".
And here's the completed puzzle . . .

And on the back, a wonderful reminder of all those who chose to step out in faith and join us in this ministry of adoption! What an amazing work God has done and is continuing to do!!

In the frame . . .



We are so thankful that God has continued to lead us and allow us to follow Him through this adoption process. It has been so amazing to see Him at work! We are not done, and we know He is not either! Our hearts are filled full with HIS fulness as we reflect over this past year, and all of the support we have seen as our Christian family comes alongside of us in prayer and even giving financially toward our adoption expenses!
I was reading a book this past week, and there was a paragraph that I have read over and over, and particularly this first line, that just hits me everytime I read it. It's from a book called The Strength of Mercy by Jan Beazely.

"[God] writes words on our hearts that long to be spoken and strain to be lived out. Then with His own great hand, He begins to write the script. Experience by experience through seemingly ordinary days, He supernaturally orders our lives. Only when we look back and reflect on what appeared to have been the ordinary events of life does it become clear what a miracle the Lord has performed."
I don't think I could have put into words any better the process by which God brought us to adopt, and how He has lead us through it. Particularly as I look back on this past year, I am amazed at how God "writes words on our hearts that long to be spoken and strain to be lived out." (I couldn't describe it any better!) But He doesn't leave that longing and strain in our hearts . . . He works it out for us, and we GET to see it, we GET to be a part, and we GET to grow closer to Him through it all!! Thank you, Lord!!!

Christmas 2009

A few highlights from our Christmas . . .

Josh helping roll out the dough for cinnamon rolls.



Christmas dinner

Our set-up . . . in light of our adoption, giving sacrificially to that, and wanting to put a better emphasis on our adoption in Christ, our Christmas was a little different this year. We have so much to be thankful for and had a wonderful Christmas as a family!
I don't know if you can tell in this pic, but our star on top of our tree has an ornament on top - a beaded star with all of the colors of the Ethiopian flag! It was made by another family trying to raise the money for their adoption expenses.


The boys loved the matching Ethiopia t-shirts they got!

The girls loved their "Ethiopian" baby dolls and their beaded bracelets with the colors of the Ethiopian flag - made by the same family that made our star ornament.

Very excited to have gotten new darts for the nerf gun from Joey!

. . . and the penguin he'd been wanting from Gracie!

I think he's opening the gift Gracie got him here . . . I just love Gracie's face in this one! Ha!

Josh getting his stocking.

Josh as Superman - he kept taking flying leaps off the couch!

Madie and her stocking.

Gracie and her stocking.

Joey and his stocking.

Before the Christmas festivities began on Christmas morning at Papaw & Grandma's house.

The girls all waiting patiently to open their gifts from Papaw & Grandma . . . American Girl Dolls!

Joey getting a little help from Papaw opening his new baseball glove . . . love his face in this one :o)

Josh's favorite toy and gift - legos! And of course, it doesn't get any better than Diego!

Madie showing off her fake princess nails.

Kindergarten Volcano

I started the tradition of doing a volcano with each of the kids when it comes up about mid-way through their kindergarten year. I'll admit, I was regretting that this year, but didn't want Madie to be disappointed. I'm glad we were able to do her volcano, and so was she! Not sure why these pics came up in opposite order . . .